This weekend was my local RWA chapter, Los Angeles Romance Authors, aka LARA, meeting. Our guest speaker was Zoe Archer, an award winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. I’m inclined to agree. She is the author of The Blades of the Rose series, and she gave LARA tips on how to write, sell, and market a book that doesn’t fit in. Why is she an expert on this topic, you might ask? Because she managed to sell a sexy paranormal historical adventure that takes place in Mongolia in 1874, that’s why!
A daring band of adventurers, scientists and explorers follow the four points of the compass to find and protect the world’s magic. Warrior, Scoundrel, Rebel, and Stranger were released in consecutive months beginning September-December 2010 to great reviews, even if book stores weren’t sure where to place them.
How did she do it?
Zoe minimized the obstacles of writing such an unusual book by deciding up front which parts of her story she felt most strongly about, and she stuck by it. Bottom line, she wanted the book to take place in Mongolia, which she knew would be a hard sell, so she made her characters English. She also adhered to the romance promise of one hero/heroine and a happily ever after.
When a book is set in Mongolia in 1874, a lot of research must be done, but Ms. Archer was quick to suggest that research should be integrated organically into the story, and it should support the romance, not the other way around.
What is the most important element of this kind of book?
According to Zoe, it’s the characters. And of course, no book concept, no matter how unique, will survive the submission process if it isn’t a damn good book. Strong writing is the key to agent/editor interest. Her tip: Keep the plot tight, never lose sight of it, or you’ll lose the reader.
After reading the first page of Warrior just now, I can see what Zoe is talking about, and I look forward to reading the rest of this book and series.
Zoe suggests to authors of genre blending books that they come up with a high concept, inclusive log line. Use analogies to describe the book and don’t get too derivative. For instance (and this is my take on her concept, not how she actually did it) it’s Indiana Jones with magic. Leave off that part about it being in Mongolia in order to get your foot in the agent or editor’s door. After they’ve discovered your fabulous writing skills, and ingenious plot, they may not care about your story taking place in Antarctica or New Guinea.
Remember, the quality of writing is paramount to selling that book, not the novelty of your Steampunk vampire murder mystery with comedy elements, or whatever quirky, I mean, innovative, idea you’ve come up with. So keep studying the craft of writing.
Zoe said there will come a time when you’ll know your book is finally ready to be sent out.
Until then, repeat the mantra – Write. Revise. Write. Revise. Repeat.
Any writers out there care to share their genre blending concept?
And for the readers, what unique story concept have you been waiting to read?