Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher of Ellora’s Cave, will be presenting at the Colorado Gold Conference and taking pitch appointments. Here’s a sneak peek at what she’s looking for and some great advice on writing and submitting:
1. What genres does Ellora’s Cave publish and how many books per year in each genre?
EC publishes erotic romance, erotica fiction, and romance (about 10% overall are the non-erotic romances). We publish 500 ebooks a year, of length from 7000 to 125,000 words. (About 250 to 300 stories go into print each year.) We do all genres within romance – paranormal, futuristic/scifi, fantasy and urban fantasy, BDSM, contemporary, historical, Western…
2. As an acquiring editor, what plot and/or character do you never want to see again? What would you love to see in the next manuscript you read?
~ Billionaires. There are only 104 billionaires in the U.K., the country with one of the highest percentages of people at that wealth level — and I bet 103 of the 104 are *not* young, handsome and single.
~ Clones of the plots or characters of Fifty Shades, Twilight or Hunger Games. It’s been done, people; come up with your own blockbuster.
~ TSTL heroines, or weak heroines who let the hero or events control them rather than developing their own strength and taking charge of their own life.
~ Secret babies or amnesia plots, or anything else that’s a decades-old Harlequin cliche.
~ Bad or nonexistent research: I can’t stand stories that show the writer just followed cliches or what she’d read in other books, rather than do thorough research and fact-checking herself.
~ If you write erotica, no stories that tell me the hero’s penis size in inches, especially male-ego inches (It’s the swing of the stick, not the size of the bat, that makes the game exciting. Fact: the average size of an erect penis is around six inches.) or that misplace the heroine’s hymen (It’s at the vaginal opening, not inches deep inside).
I WILL TOTALLY FALL FOR:
~ Great world-building – it’s the most important part of a story for me.
~ Intelligent, realistic and emotional characters I can believe in.
~ I love urban fantasy romance. I personally have a thing for fantasy wings – dragons, angels, pegasuses, any paranormal/fantasy creature that flies.
3. As a professional editor, what’s the best advice you can give to writers submitting their first novels.
Have every submission brutally critiqued by experienced authors, and then proofread by several skilled proofreaders. If you don’t respect your work enough to make it as perfect as you can, why should an editor respect you or your story?
Writing for publication is a skilled trade, treat it as such and be a professional in your field. Learn about the publishing industry, read the industry news. Join writing organizations. Take classes to develop your skills. Attend conferences to network with other professionals in the field. Learn the promotion and marketing element of the business.
4. Do you recommend that authors have their manuscripts professionally edited before submitting, or is content and copy editing part of your normal process?
All accepted books go through our full editing process. But the better and cleaner a submission is, the more likely it will be accepted and the quicker it will get through edits.
5. What gets you excited in a query letter? What makes you hit the delete button?
I love a great, grabbing – and brief – blurb about the book. That’s what makes me eager to look at the manuscript.
Delete – Personal info about the author, babbling about why they write, things that indicate they know nothing about the publishing industry or the profession of writing. The things that matter are that the story is great and the author behaves professionally.
6. Tell us about your typical work day (and especially how many manuscripts you usually have waiting in your e-mail Inbox).
All submissions from authors not already contracted to EC go to our Submissions email address, not to individual editors. They get a pre-review to determine whether they may be of interest to us and fit our guidelines. If so, they go in the queue for editors who are acquiring. We get about 800 external submissions a year; our acceptance rate is around 4 to 5%.
My day? My “day” job is publisher – I deal with contracts and rights, vendors, sub rights deals (translation, audio, etc), plan ebook sales and promotions, plan our print books, supervise the cover art department and our ebook production department, provide guidance to the editorial department…
I edit on weekends – because I started as an editor, love editing and don’t want to ever stop doing it. I edit about 30-ish stories a year.
7. Writers are often advised to have a web presence before even selling their first manuscript. Of the following web and social media opportunities, which do you consider most important for the debut author: a website, a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads? Are there any others you recommend to your authors?
Website and/or blog. The aspiring author should certainly be on Goodreads as a READER, posting comments and participating in discussions, building contacts toward the day when she will be published.
8. What do you do for fun when you’re not working? Any unusual hobbies?
Hmm. I read, read, read. I love to discuss books and the publishing industry. I have two adored and adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgis that add love and liveliness to every day. I collect Tarot decks and children’s picture books with lovely art. I aspire to being an author of children’s picture books. I love hats and pearls. I really, really wish I could afford a Can-Am Spyder RT motorcycle.
9. How have changes in the world of publishing impacted your job (or company name) in the last year?
Every week is a new challenge (either opportunity or crisis, depending on how one views it). The industry is changing so rapidly that it’s a constant effort to keep up with what’s going on with sales channels, digital formats, changing international opportunities.
10. What advice would you like to give authors who plan to pitch their novel to you at Colorado Gold?
Make sure your story fits what EC publishes. And that your pitch starts off with a bang! Be able to tell me genre, length, and what makes your story special and “different”. If I have time, I’m happy to listen to “practice pitches” from nervous aspiring authors.