LWC: we love indie publishers so grabbed the chance to interview Lyn Vernham of Choc Lit. Writers, check out their submission guidelines as they accept submissions direct from writers (so you don’t have to have an agent).
1/Please could you tell us a little about Choc Lit
We’re an independent publisher, creating a delicious selection of fiction for today’s independent woman. An assortment, where heroes are like chocolate – irresistible! Not surprisingly we are all big romance and chocolate fans!
2/And a little about your position there?
My official title is Marketing Director but my role covers a multiple of sins. From commissioning authors, editors, designers, print, production, distribution, sales and marketing. I can be visiting a distribution house one day (not the most interesting of places) to having pink champagne at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s party the next (very glamorous but doesn’t happen often enough!).
3/What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on finishing off our 2010 novels – finalising delivery for our June titles (All That Mullarkey & Turning The Tide) selling in our September title (Trade Winds) and preparing our November titles (Want To Know A Secret? & The Silver Locket) for production. I’m overdue to look at our 2011 schedule which is almost full.
4/Is Choc Lit looking for anything specifically at the moment?
I suppose we are all looking for something just that little bit different – the thirst (sorry) for paranormal continues and it would be nice to add a Dark Choc Lit to our selection but it’s not a requirement for submissions. However, what is a requirement is that the novel includes the male point of view and clearly develops the hero.
5/Does Choc Lit take unsolicited material i.e. without an agent?
Yes, we do accept submissions direct. The length of our review process seems to grow nearly every month, I believe we’re now running at 6 months. We recognise the difficulties authors face in finding an agent and intend to support direct submissions for as long as manpower and our voluntary readers allow.
However, it is important that authors read the publishers submissions guidelines carefully before submitting. We get a substantial number of submissions that are obviously just blanket mailed and they’re totally inappropriate. It takes my team hours to sift through the rubbish (as they call it) to get to those that really have looked at our procedure and taken care with their submission (including presentation and spelling). First impressions really do count!
6/How do you see independent publishers featuring in the future of publishing?
I believe if we can all carve our own little niche, we have the ability to survive and grow. We’re much more flexible and adaptable to change than the big boys. We may not be able to compete with them on the advertising campaigns and payouts for reviews, etc. but this makes us more inventive and innovative. Only those that embrace change and move with technology will survive. The industry is changing and we have to move with it.
7/What inspires you in a writer?
A good writer draws their readers in and never let’s them go! I love to be able to pick up a book and feel that I’m inside the story or the head of the heroine. The plots have to move just right and the writing be clearly descriptive and invoke emotions. I know I’ve got a good novel when I’m saddened that it ends. It takes great skill to get it right and I’m in awe of all authors.
8/Which writer would you like to have for tea (and chocolate)?
Well I’d be crucified if I didn’t say my authors: Sue, Chris, Christina, Juliet and our two latest editions Margaret and Jane. We’re all big chocolate fans, it comes with the territory. We’re constantly discussing (and eating) chocolate as part of our promotional campaigns which includes describing our heroes in terms of chocolate. We should really sit down and have tea (coffee for me) and chocolate on a regular basis – thanks for the idea!
9/Finally, what top tip would you give to an unpublished writer?
To continue to submit your work, don’t give up there are many reasons why publishers reject submissions. Don’t take it personally. Join organisations such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association where you’ll meet like minded individuals, some of whom are already successful. Overall persist and learn from others.