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Interview with Lynn Emery
Interview by Tina Morgan
Lynn Emery's latest release from HarperTorch, Kiss Lonely Goodbye, is a steamy tale of intrigue, family poitics, scams and a forbidden office romance. The author of twelve books - and counting - Ms. Emery talks to us about her work and her experiences with the publishing industry.
Thank you for sharing your answers with us, Lynn.
Fiction Factor: How did you break into the publishing business?
Lynn Emery: I attended a writers conference back in 1994. I met an editor who was accepting appointments. Although her schedule was full she agreed to listen to my pitch, because a published author friend had told her about me. So, when she had a break after her workshop she gave me five minutes. I pitched the book I was writing, she asked for a proposal and about six weeks later offered me a contract.
FF: It's been said that having an agent isn't as critical in romance publishing as in other genres from your own personal experience did you find this to be true?
LE: No, I'm surprised. I'll try to keep this one brief because the answer isn't simple. Many writers who exclusively write category romance for Harlequin and/or Sillouhette say having an agent isn't a big advantage. Category romances are short novels of 60,000-75,000 words that come out each month and don't stay on the shelves past that month. The category contracts are very standard and the terms don't vary much. So, for those authors having an agent isn't critical. I've heard authors and agents say this. However, it is very different in single title romance (and for category romance authors who have plans to write single title). Contract terms vary, advances can jump because of good negotiations. A good agent can make a huge difference in helping an author move along and up in terms of career goals. Agents are very important, especially since several major publishers only look at agented submissions. Again, in terms of career planning a good agent is a big asset.
FF: For those readers who are not familiar with the Harper Torch line, could you tell them what criteria your books must meet for this particular imprint?
LE: The HarperTorch imprint isn't just romance. Also, there are no guidelines for the romance program. The editors usually say "read what we've published and send us a great story with wonderful characters"
FF: Do you have a writer's website and do you feel it has helped the sales of your books?
LE: I have had a website for a number of years, since my first book back in 1995. I would say that having a website has changed dramatically since that time, so many more millions of people have internet access. Yes, it has absolutely helped with sales. It has helped with networking. I've gotten invitations to speak through my website. People who wanted me to give workshops have found me through my website. These invitations lead to sales. Readers have bought my books and kept up with my releases by visiting my website. I just met a lady today at the Louisiana Book Festival who subscribes to my monthly online newsletter (appears on my website). She keeps up with where I'll be and when my next book comes out through my website. -editor's note: you can visit Ms. Emery's site at: http://www.lynnemery.com
FF: Many new writers feel that their publisher should do most of the promotional work for their books but the hard truth is, that only happens for best selling authors. How have you promoted your books on your own?
LE: I definitely have done most of the promoting. As you said, publishers don't have the PR budgets to promote hundreds of authors at the same level. This is a business. The publishers need to know that if they put out that money it will come back in sales. Most authors don't sell enough books to justify the expense. Of course I can hear authors saying "I would if they spent money to promote me!" No, dear. There is no guarantee. I've spent money on very well done promotions and gotten little real return. Advertising is not a sure thing. That said, a planned approach with realistic expectations is best. I've also found promotion has a cumulative effect. I see my promo efforts and expense as future investment, may not pay off today but it will possibly in the future. I have my website of course. I do online ads. I've done print ads in trade magazines. I speak at conferences and present workshops, where I in turn can sell my books. I have contributed prizes to organizations, my books of course. I have bookmarks to give to readers. Networking is promotion as well. Many times I have gotten promo opportunities through networking.
FF: Do you write your stories according to a pre-organized plotline?
LE: Yes, I do. I don't write detailed chapter by chapter outlines. I do outline the basics, major players, major plot, subplots that tie into or affect the major plots, etc.
FF: In "Kiss Lonely Goodbye", your protagonist must learn to run a security company and in "All I Want is Forever" your main character works as a political advocate and the story line deals with prison overcrowding. How did you research the information needed to create these settings and character backgrounds?
LE: I did a lot of research online using search engines on the private security business in Texas where the book is set. I also keep a file on articles that interest me, love to clip and save! I have several articles/profiles of successful private security firms that I clipped 2-3 years ago. I had the idea to use that information and I finally did, and will probably do so again. In All I Want Is Forever the book is more about the effects of addiction and prison on women and their children. As a clinical social worker I didn't need to do a lot of additional research, I've worked in settings that provided me all the information I needed. However, I have never worked in a women's prison. I worked with a nurse who had and she filled me in on details I didn't know. I have more and more interviewed people for research. I find this brings the details a kind of realism just going to the library or using the web doesn't provide.
FF: Have you ever suffered from writer's block and if so, how do you overcome it?
LE: BIG knock on wood <g>, No. I haven't faced a block yet. I've been so tired or ill that I couldn't think straight and had to take a break. But I have not had a "block". I avoid getting blocked by taking time to just noodle around physically and mentally. The wonderful thing about writing is even when you look like you're doing nothing, you're writing. Even just getting rest feeds me creatively. Wandering around the countryside with no thought of where I'll go next or not being on a schedule frees me.
FF: What inspires you to write?
LE: Telling interesting stories that I think won't get told if I don't tell them. I'm not saying I have new ideas, there are no basic new ideas. But no one can tell the stories the way I can. Like most writers, I've got enough ego to think the world not only needs my stories but is better off because of them <g>
FF: What advice would you give beginning writers?
LE: Read lots of different kinds of books in addition to the kind of book you write. Continue to study the craft of writing. Learn about the business side of writing and the publishing industry. Join a writers group to network, learn and just enjoy talking to people like you. Keep writing!
© Copyright 2003 Tina Morgan. All Rights Reserved.
You can read the review of Lynn Emery's novel "Kiss Lonely Goodbye" here: http://www.fictionfactor.com/reviews/kisslonely.html
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