Well I gave my talk on my experiences since I became an erotic romance writer at Sh! last Saturday. It was a shame only one person attended but she seemed really keen and interested so I hope she got a lot out of it.
My thanks too to Shelley at Sh! for her encouragement.
For those that didn't come but wanted to pick up some hints and tips here are a few:
- Carefully check the publisher's website for their submission criteria (different publishers will have different criteria);
- Make sure your manuscript is well proof read - preferably by someone other than yourself;
- Know your apostrophes;
- Check out how to write dialogue properly, particularly use of punctuation, and what consistutes a dialogue tag;
- Depending on the publisher's style preferences it is possible that they will ask you to change your manuscript if you include semi-colons, brackets, capitalised words indicating emphasis - instead use italics;
- Make sure your submission email as well as any attachments like a synopsis is as well written as your manuscript - it is a step by step process. If the publisher thinks the email is well written they will read your blurb, if that is well written and has enough of a hook they will read the synopsis if you have had to attach a separate document; then the first page of your story and so on;
- Make sure there is some indication on the first couple of pages that it is going to be an erotic story - don't start with long narrative detailing the back story - not unless it has a terrific sex scene in it!;
- Acceptance rates are generally between 1-4% but there are a fair number of small independent publishers selling erotic romance these days;
- Avoid head hopping which is the worst 'new author' mistake;
- Another is you must start the chapter with dialogue or action to draw your reader in - no long narrative, back story or inner reflection;
- If you are writing a story which you have little experience in then do your research - and particularly if you are writing an historical story as you don't want to write about motorcars before they have been invented;
- Don't be surprised to have negative reactions from friends and family. They may be supportive but the thought of reading any sex scenes you have written is tantamount to you describing your sex life (even if it is all from your imagination);
- Is it worth writing a series - yes because they sell better. If you like the look of a book that is the second in a series chances are you will go out and buy the first in case you have missed anything important. BUT it can be difficult being consistent in your details within the series so you have to be careful about that;
- Will you make enough to give up the day job - probably not. It is said that most writers earn less than £5,000 pa. If you do want to take this up to earn money and not because you just like writing then think about sticking to the same genre (eg, sci-fi, contemporary, historical, etc) and sticking to the same sexual preference, eg, m/m, m/f or menage but not mix them.
- Don't be worried if you get your book accepted by a publisher and you then get bad reviews - you can't please everyone and remember that a publisher likes your work enough to want to sell it and you have achieved your dream of becoming an author!