10 Steps to a Fab Job as a Romance Writer
by Lori Soard
A career in romance writing allows you to work from home, at your own pace, and during the hours you prefer. Romance writing generally pays better than other genres of fiction, so you can make more money, or work fewer hours, whichever you prefer. Finally, this line of work lets you truly touch the hearts of your readers, and give them the confidence to seek love and happiness in their own lives.
No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career. Successful romance writers merely require independence, creativity, and a determination to succeed. If this sounds like you, follow these ten steps based on the FabJob.com Guide to Become a Romance Writer to make your mark in this field. Who knows, you may be the next rising star!
1. Do some reading
If you already love to read romance novels, you are likely an ideal candidate for writing them. If you are unfamiliar with this type of novel, you will want to start off by exploring the genre. If you haven't read a romance lately, you might be surprised at the new trends within the industry. Try reading a variety of genres to get an idea of what you would enjoy writing, and to familiarize yourself with the conventions of each.
2. Develop your skills
Many of the skills you need to write will be developed as you practice, so keep those pens moving. Keep in mind that becoming a writer is an ongoing process. If you need some feedback, a local or online writers critique group can also help you further hone your writing skills. If you find yourself stuck for ideas, there are creativity exercises you can learn, and if your grammar needs some help, brush up with a book or quick course.
3. Get some experience
So you want to list publishing credits to help your chances of selling, but you can't list those without selling, and it's hard to sell without the credits. Sound like a Catch-22? It is. Fortunately, you can get your feet wet publishing articles and short stories in magazines and ezines. Make sure you are familiar with the writers' guidelines and the publication itself before you submit. You may even consider accepting a couple of non-paying assignments in order to build your credentials.
4. Your proposal package
It is important to create a professional image when you submit your work to an agent or editor, since editors are often swamped with submissions and will only read those that follow their guidelines. Most publishers want to receive a 'proposal,' which consists of the first three chapters, a synopsis of the plot and a cover letter. Send them whatever their guidelines indicate, and don't forget to include a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) for a reply or return of your manuscript.
5. Target a publisher
If you have read widely in the romance genre, you will have an idea of which publishers will be most interested in your style of writing. In addition to the major publishers (Harlequin, Kensington, etc.) be aware that there are thousands of smaller and electronic presses that initially may be more receptive. You will want to send them your proposal package, addressed to the current editor. Directories and the FabJob.com Guide to Become a Romance Writer are useful for finding contact information of publishers to submit to.
What if your book is so cutting edge that even the small presses don't feel comfortable taking it on? If you have shopped your book around and not received a positive response, self-publishing may be the route for you. Digital printing now allows for the cost-effective printing of as few as one copy of your book at a time, so you can set up your novel for around $100 and have it available to the public within a few weeks.
7. Get an agent
If you've got your sights set on the large publishing houses, or are terrified of negotiating, you may consider getting an agent to help you find a home for your book. Once you have found an agent you'd like to work with, ensure that he or she has a good reputation in the industry. Bear in mind that an agent will take about 10-15% of everything you earn on your book.
8. Dealing with editors
It's important to have a good relationship with someone you hope to be dealing with on an ongoing basis, so once you have interest from an editor, establish and maintain a professional relationship with him or her. Allow three to six months for them to consider novel proposals, and don't pester them with phone calls. Once they have expressed interest, be business-like, and make changes to your work as requested. A little respect goes a long way in this business.
Conferences, local writing workshops and conventions are wonderful places to meet fellow authors, editors, agents and publicists. Many are even set up to allow writers to meet on a one-to-one basis with agents and editors. Not only are these situations great for networking, but just joining a national or local writers organization can bring you knowledge from the workshops and conferences they offer.
Building a readership and increasing book sales are two of the most important things authors can do to promote their careers. If hiring a publicist isn't in your budget (and you may be surprised to find it is) there are a number of things you can do to promote yourself, such as getting media attention, creating a website, and doing book signings. Be creative, and be persistent?it can only benefit you in the long run.
Lori Soard is the author of the FabJob.com Guide to Become a Romance Writer. The complete guide offers detailed information about how you can break into this career and become a published romance writer. Visit www.FabJob.com for information.