We're excited to have romantic suspense author Jill Sorenson as our guest blogger today!
Hello Killer Chicks! Thanks so much for having me.
I didn’t have a plan when I first started writing. I had no idea which publisher to target. I’d completed three novels before I understood the difference between category romance (short books published by Harlequin) and single-title romance (full-length novels). The rejections were piling up. I finally attended a writing conference, where I met an agent. My focus shifted from writing in the dark to learning more about the publishing business. I decided to try to follow the footsteps of my favorite author, Sandra Brown. She began her career in category romance and moved on to single-title romantic suspense.
So I wrote a short contemporary romance about a sexy hotel heiress and a hot young architect. It got rejected.
The agent I was exchanging emails with liked one of my earlier submissions, a single-title romantic suspense (ST/RS) with a surfer hero. Although she didn’t offer to represent me, she thought I had promise. At her urging, I wrote another ST/RS, Dangerous to Touch. She signed me after reading it and we got a nibble from Harlequin very quickly. They wanted to publish my story under the Silhouette Romantic Suspense line. I cut 30k words from the original version and never looked back.
Harlequin asked for another book, which I wrote and delivered. It got rejected.
That same week, my entire town was evacuated because of the San Diego Fires. When I came home I had a new publishing offer. An editor at Bantam Dell loved my surfer hero! Suddenly I had a two-book contract for single-titles. I added 30k to the manuscript Harlequin rejected and submitted it to my new editor, who thought it was great. Crash Into Me and Set the Dark on Fire were published in 2009. Both appeared as “Red-Hot Reads” in Cosmopolitan Magazine.
You think I’m done getting rejected, right? Wrong.
The next book I submitted to Bantam Dell bombed. They say that your first rejection is the worst, but that hasn’t been true for me. Each one gets harder. After almost a year of struggling with that project, I set it aside and started something new. The Edge of Night was born. It didn’t get rejected. Yay!
I went back to the Epic Fail manuscript with a fresh outlook. My editor was right; the subplots didn’t work and the whole thing felt disjointed. But the main romance was still strong, so I cut every scene that wasn’t in the hero or heroine’s POV. What I ended up with wasn’t a failure at all. My Harlequin editor loved the story. RT Magazine called Stranded With Her Ex “one of the best books of the year.”
Okay, so there you have it. The reason I write for two publishers: rejection. I’ve made it work for me.
If you’re wondering about the differences between writing for category and writing for single-title, there aren’t as many as you might think. My Bantam Dell books are longer, of course (90-100k vs. 50-60k). I can use the f-word as much as I want in ST. I have more space for subplots and fully-realized secondary characters. The storylines are a little edgier, and the sex scenes are a bit more graphic.
I write gritty, sexy romantic suspense for both publishers. My characters tend to be flawed and realistic, not larger-than-life superheroes or perfect fantasy figures. Some say that Harlequin is more traditional, but I have a great editor with modern sensibilities there. I get quality feedback at both houses, with thorough comments and painstaking copyedits. I also do a lot of my own advertising and promotion, which is typical for new authors at any publisher.
Please let me know if you have questions! I’m an open book.
Leave a comment if you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Stranded With Her Ex.