Monday, January 11, 2010

Six Questions for Laurie Sanders, Acquisitions Editor, Black Velvet Seductions

Black Velvet Seductions publishes romantic fiction from sweet to erotic, as well as romantic suspense. The editors are especially interested in stories with a high degree of emotional impact, sexual tension both before and after the hero and heroine make love, well-developed backstories, and  characters who have some flaws. There are no length restrictions, but all stories must be told in the third person point of view. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: There’s been quite a bit written about the demise of the paper book and the decline in the number of books published. What is your view of the current state of the book and the book market?

LS: Romance novels are still immensely popular and are still being written, published, and read. According to latest statistics published by RWA (Romance Writers of America), 60 million Americans read at least one romance in the year preceding the poll. I believe the way that we publish books and sell them to readers is changing, but I think that this is a function of the fact that society in general has changed. With the advent of the Internet, we are no longer limited in what we can read by what is stocked in our geographic region. Instead, readers are able to shop a much wider assortment of titles from online booksellers like Amazon. This hurts the stores that are set up to sell to readers within a geographic area, who because of greater variety of material at superstores like Amazon, may not be shopping at the local bookstore as often, if at all. I believe that electronic books and print on demand via the Expresso Machine being used now in a very few locations is the wave of the future. The landscape of publishing has already changed, the readers are migrating to sites and stores where they have greatest selection of the types of books that interest them.  

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?

LS: I look for characters, plot, and conflict. Beyond that, deep point of view. I guess that's four things, but they are four very important things. 

SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?

LS: The most common mistakes authors make in pitching their books are that the book they have written isn't suited for our market. Usually it is because it is straight erotica rather than erotic romance. We publish erotic romance not traditional erotica without the romantic element. Romance is about the developing relationship between protagonists, so all material for us must have a strong focus on that relationship. When I review a query or listen to a pitch I am listening for who are the characters, what is their conflict (I'm looking mostly for internal as opposed to external conflict though external conflict can help fuel internal conflict.) I'm looking for what draws the hero and heroine together and what pushes them apart. The most successful pitches are those that answer that question and wrap it all up with a happy ever after ending. 

SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?

LS: Most of the books we publish are written by authors who are published the first time with us. 

SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?

LS: Learn the craft. Be diligent. Especially learn to use deep point of view. Most of the manuscripts that I reject are rejected because the point of view is too shallow. 

SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?

LS: I think you asked great questions, and I was able to say pretty much everything I wanted to say. 

Thank you, Laurie. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 1/14—Six Questions for Dianne Kochenburg, Editor, Clever Magazine


  1. I'm familiar with BVS and they put out some great titles: Sherry James' Studs for Hire series and Jessica Joy's "Fool Me Once" among them.

    Thanks for interviewing Laurie today.


  2. Great interview format. It's so beneficial for writers to read and listen to interviews from editors, publishers, and published authors so they can better understand the industry. Thanks for doing this!

  3. You're welcome, Melissa. I'm learning a lot from reading the responses.