On 22 Sept, I went to my local RNA chapter meeting where there was a talk by the director of romance publisher Choc Lit, Lynn Vernham. A talk about their submissions and what they like. Here is my report.
They have recently expanded to the US, and will be to Australia soon. They sell foreign rights. Lynn has a marketing background.
They release their books as ebooks a month before the printed book comes out. They do digital only novellas but only for their existing authors as supporting promotion. They have partners in schemes to help promo with authors and their brands.
They accept mss from 70,000 words (lower lit) to 120,000.
To submit to them: email them your synopsis, and paragraph about you. Which must inc that you are doing social media, because the more you are online, the more your book sells, and if you aren't on line then they won't accept you.
It was mentioned that a lot of the RNA members are published by them, and they do look at their mss. They do take on self-published books. Likes paranormal.
Their process is that they have a panel of readers in the UK, US and Australia called the tasting panel. The mss are numbered, and don't have the author's name or book title on it. If you get three 5 star reviews then you are in luck, if you get a borderline with a couple of nos you could still get it published, and must be in the age band they publish, but if you get three nos then you fail and are rejected. The first chapter must be gripping. There is no general rejection. If you are from the RNA, you can get more feedback, if you are borderline, they must put 'add this,' 'change that' and ask to resubmit. The mss goes to readers first, then to Lynn. Lynn's advice was to involve the characters and evoke emotions.
They plan to publish 12 novels in 2013, and double that in 2014.
Then it was question time from us: They have a standard contract. Pay all authors the same. Ebooks are different from the print. They don't get agent submissions as they get all rights. And they give you an option on the next novel, which will again go through readers.
I asked about prologues - OK, but have to be important to books.
Top three reasons for rejection - too much research and factual stuff. No erotica. Twists to story. And typos and grammar.
Was asked about getting the ms critiqued before submitting - Yes. Thinks it is good (is mentioned about this on their webisite) and get it as good as you can before you send. They get 50 mss a week, and accept 10. Readers like more male pov than less.
They do work with some agents. Advised to find a good one who will work well with you. Reckons that more publishers will be accepting mss directly by Xmas.
I also asked what digital platforms they upload their books to - all of them. (Which made me happy).
The second stage of submissions is: you get an email from Lynn for a meeting. Where they will meet you and work out if you fit in with them, as they are liked to a family. As authors help each other. If you are accepted this year, you won't be published until 2014. They will work to make the ms a publishable standard. All readers get info, then to editor, then report to author with changes, 2-3 times, copy edit twice and three proofs then it's publication. 8 weeks before publication, it will go to review. Book signings aren't done so much now.
Before the 50 Shades.. they managed to achieve sales of 10,000 for one author. It depends on the title and genre whether it will go to book buyers. Digital can do better than print. Contemporaries are struggling in the US. They do tend to do free promotion.
They sell rights and work with agents/publishers overseas.
So there you have it. All about Choc Lit. I haven't got anything to send to them right now, but might have in the near future. We shall see. Are you interested? They seem to be a really good publisher to work with and Lynn was very nice. A friendly and approachable lady to work with.