"At Desert Breeze Publishing, we are seeking manuscripts from novella length (between 25,000 and 35,000 words approximately) to super novel length (exceeding 100,000 words), with a preference for novels between 65,000 and 90,000 words. We are more than willing to accept queries on book series, and will consider a series concept when at least one book is completed and the series has been thoroughly formulated." Desert Breeze publishes romance books. Read the complete guidelines here.
GD: The most important thing I would like readers and authors to know is that we created DBP to be the 'go to' place for people who wanted to read wonderful romances, but who didn't want to read explicit material. We know there's a market for erotica and erotic romance -- of that there is no doubt -- but we also know there are readers who want the romance without the explicitness. We, the owners, are those readers and authors. We like all genres under the umbrella of romance, and we like the sweet to the little warmer -- so there's a nice range -- so there's plenty of variety to choose from.
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?
GD: I believe things are changing, and as technology advances, we have to keep up with the changes. There will always, always be a market for print books. But, there is no doubt that ebooks are the future. Ebooks are more economical on a book-to-book basis, and they are better for the environment in comparison to the old mass market business model where thousands of books would be printed with no guarantee they would ever sell.
Right along with the advancement of ebooks as a whole, I also suspect we will see a reduction in mass market book production. Yes, print on demand books tend to be more expensive -- but so are hybrid vehicles -- and as people become more aware of the environmental effects our actions can have, they will be willing to either pay a little more for that POD book, or they're going to look into electronic reading devices.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?
GD: First, I want to see a story with an angle or element I haven't seen before, or at the least, I haven't seen very much of. Something that makes me stand up and take notice. That doesn't mean bizarre, or weird, or a muddled conglomeration of different story plots. It means the author has added a spice or seasoning that no one else has. I have so many examples of this in our catalogue it would take quite awhile to detail them.
Second, I want to see a book presented to me in the best possible format. Look at your book before sending it for a submission. I don't specify in our submission guidelines that you must submit in a certain font or with certain margins. But, I do expect your submission to be neat, well formatted and give the appearance that you cared what it looked like before you sent it.
I don't expect perfection when I receive a submission. If submitted manuscripts were perfect, then I and my staff of editors would be without a job. But, I do look for signs that the author has a strong grasp of the craft. Punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc... it's all important.
The last thing I look for is not necessarily presented to me in the manuscript. It's in the way the author presents himself or herself to me in their submission email. I have managed, for the most part, to create a group of authors who work very, very well together and we've become a strongly cohesive group. Present yourself in a professional, but truthful, manner. I will admit that I have decided to pass on a submission because of the tone of the author's contact email. I ask authors to tell me why they feel our publishing house is the one they want to be with, what drew them, and what made them submit.
SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?
GD: I'm sure it's a similar answer to any other you'll receive from a publisher... they don't follow the guidelines, and don't seem to even have read them in some cases.
I've said before, I'm not concerned whether you submit your book in a particular format or in a certain font... but I do ask for very specific things. I ask for the whole book and a full synopsis to be attached to the email as a .doc file or a .docx file. I ask that you cover specific things in your email. I'm amazed at how many times I've received the ENTIRE manuscript pasted into the body of an email. I can't properly queue and review a book that way, so the book is probably not going to be considered.
Or, I receive an email with very little in the way of salutation with a brief "So, my book is about [fill in the blank], do you want to see it?". Honestly, if you can't follow the submission guidelines when you initially contact me, I'm going to have severe concerns that you can follow instructions later. You're already in the hole...
Or, they submit to me something that doesn't come close to meeting our guidelines. Autobiographies do not qualify as romance fiction. Nor does your 300 page diatribe on why certain states should separate from the union. (Don't laugh... it happened).
Don't believe you're above the guidelines. That doesn't impress me, and doesn't get you any closer to a contract.
SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?
GD: As of completing this questionnaire, I have roughly 70 authors under contract either for past, present or future release dates. Of those, eight of my already published authors were never published prior to signing with DBP. Of our future releases into 2011, I have right now eleven authors who have not been published -- or have not been published in novel format -- prior to coming to DBP.
SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?
GD: Make sure that what you present is the absolutely best you can do. Never ever think you've learned enough. Have confidence in your work, but don't be cocky. And always be open to the advice of those who have more knowledge and experience, and who are willing to offer help. Not everyone will, so take the opportunities when you can.
SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
GD: Interesting question. I think a good question might be about what genres we might see more of in the future that are either just getting started now, or are not as readily available as others.
And in my opinion, those genres are at two ends of the scale. I anticipate more vintage romances (Set between 1900 and the 1970's) being written and published. I am actively seeking novels in this decade, and have already brought several under contract.
I also see more growth in the science fiction romance genre. There used to be two very separate camps... hard core sci fi readers, and those who wanted the romance with a little bit of a spacey feel, but the sci fi part was more a backdrop than a genre. I have seen more intelligent, truly involved and developed science fiction series with strong, well developed, and emotional romances being at the core of the story come out in the last couple of years -- and I see that trend increasing. I love Space Operas, and would love to see more myself (I'm a big sci fi rom fan -- it's my favorite genre next to romantic suspense).
Thank you, Gail. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 2/16--Six Questions for Dan Tricarico, Editor, LITSNACK