It's almost Halloween so I think I have to talk about the paranormal romance subgenre and my current thinking.
What I'm hearing is that Vampires are here to stay. However, I'm also seeing that it's absolutely necessary to do something different/interesting/fresh with them and their world. For some really interesting thoughts about why vampires are sexy, I recommend Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of SmartBitches.
We at Sourcebooks are having great success with Linda Wisdom's light paranormal Hex series, and we're launching a werewolf trilogy by Lydia Dare that I think is going to be fabulous (the werewolves get crankier and crankier as the moon waxes, then they turn into a wolf, then they're calm again for a few weeks--does this sound at all familiar?).
Terry Spear's werewolf series continues to win awards and exceed sales expectations, and her readers love the real-life wolf connection that shapes how her werewolves behave. Ashlyn Chase's first in a new series is Strange Neighbors, in which an entire apartment building is filled with paranormal creatures with hilarious results. And, of course, Judi Fennell's Mer series (mermaids, mermen--Mers!) is also going strong.
And next season we'll have fantasy romances coming from Kathryne Kennedy, featuring gorgeous warlike elves and their progeny.
Time travel and genetic memory also seem to work well--readers love to take that trip into a different time and link it up somehow with the present day.
It seems to be a tough time, however, for ghosts and psychics. I have a theory about this (did you think I wouldn't?). I think ghosts and psychics often function as deus ex machina plot devices and then the credibility isn't as strong. Particularly when they're incorporated into a romantic suspense, where the coincidences seem to abound. Of course, if you have something unbelievably compelling going on, you can get away with many things that you might not otherwise.
We're continuing to add new paranormal romance authors to our list, but if you write historicals, romantic suspense or another subgenre, don't despair! My theory is that if you have a great "hook" you can sell in ANY subgenre, even if that subgenre is on the down cycle. That's because I think readers are out there, but they're following proven favorites unless you give them a compelling reason to buy your book.
Here's what I'm looking for:
- single title romance fiction in all subgenres (paranormal, historical, contemporary, romantic comedy, time travel, erotic romance, romantic suspense)
- 90,000 words or thereabouts (80K is ok, 75K (except for erotic romance which tends to be a little shorter) is not, ok? 120K is ok, 140K is not (except for Jane Austen related fiction which tends to be a little longer))--if in doubt, ask me
- a heroine the reader can relate to
- a hero she can fall in love with
- a world gets created
- there's a hook that allows me to sell the book in 2-3 sentences
- the author has a demonstrable career arc