Women's Fiction / Romance Novel Editing
Since 1999, I have been an editor of romance (historical and contemporary), women’s fiction, memoirs, and other projects. I have a strong background in fiction, history, and the sciences. I’m a specialist in romance novels, novellas and women’s fiction related to historical and contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and romantic suspense. I also concentrate on inspirational romance, westerns, urban fantasy and African-American popular fiction.
Selected Titles I've Edited in the Romance and Women's Fiction Genres
Choosing a Romance Novel Editor
Before submitting to an agent or publisher, it is important to have someone review your work, by providing proofreading and an in-depth edit. An editor needs to be keenly aware of the romance reader’s expectations. The most successful romance novels whisk their readers away from their everyday lives and allow them to experience love’s frustration, exhilaration, and joy. In recent years, readers have come to expect more of their favorite authors. Readers scorn typos, spelling errors and overused plot devices. Romance readers discuss all aspects of the novels they read. Often, those discussions focus on the lack of editing in a book. Poor editing is one of the biggest complaints among Amazon book reviewers. Sophisticated readers also appreciate an author who can develop characters that fit into familiar patterns yet are new and creative in some way. In choosing an editor for your romance novel, it is paramount that s/he is familiar with the genre. An editor familiar with romance novels will suggest words and phrases that help romance readers connect with the characters in your story.
What You Can Expect From Me
Fiction editing requires an emotional investment of time and effort in the manuscript. As a romance novel editor, I work with both traditional authors and independent authors to help polish their stories. I am hands-on in my editing. I offer content editing with commentary, line-editing, submission help, and career consulting. My primary concerns are to ensure the story's plot, characterization and dialogue create the right chemistry and sexual tension between the heroine and hero to evoke emotions and experiences within the reader. Whether for stand-alone titles or a series, I focus on consistency, accuracy, and clarity, so that authors can successfully connect with their readers while avoiding awkward missteps. I diligently work through a manuscript, checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and style; tracking character traits and story timeline; confirming proper names, dates, places, and other technical or historical elements; noting any issues that may lead a reader to question something. As an editor of fiction, I view manuscripts with a comprehensive vision and an eye for detail and believability. I see the big picture and have an in-depth knowledge of today's publishing market. My expertise includes managing features of your work such as character traits; aspects of plot; evaluation of story, setting; extricating clichés, redundancies, wordiness, staleness and vague generalizations.
Romance Sub-genres and Expectations of Readers
Romantic fiction has two types: contemporary romance, set in the present day, and historical romance, typically set between 1066 (the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman conquest of England) and 1920. The seven primary expectations of romance novel readers are:
Mainly, romance novels are character-driven rather than plot-driven. Characters' interactions and development are the primary foci of the novel. When editing a character-driven story, it's vital to focus efforts on character believability and development. Characters must be likable, their flaws must be credible and the romance needs to be believable. Do be sure to have flaws in your characters; otherwise, you risk alienating readers. Who wants to read about someone who is perfect? Be sure the conflict is strong; it's what drives a novel. Continually develop characters throughout the manuscript as a way to energize the story. Never disclose everything about the characters within the first chapter or two. Leave something to surprise readers later, to serve as a plot twist, or to help wrap up the story. Be sure the ideas and opinions of characters reflect the times to maintain a semblance of realism.
Examine dialogue closely. It's vital in romance novels because it advances the story, develops characters and holds the attention of readers. There must be lulls in the action to give your characters time to get to know each other through dialogue. Rather than diatribes be a single person, readers want conversations where relationships grow and advance. Always be sure the dialogue is naturalistic. For historical romance, be careful when using authentic speech patterns from the period. An author can lose readers quickly by bogging them down in stilted language.
I hunt for changes in physical descriptions of characters: eye color, hair color and body type. Although these issues are problematic in any novel, the characters' looks have a more central role in romance than in other genres. Descriptions of a location or time of year often can be incongruent or mismatched. I also, keep settings and the spelling of names consistent, and make sure actions ring true. As an editor, I also keep track of the timeline and character descriptions to make sure they are realistic and consistent.
I encourage authors to keep detailed notes of character backstory, which can often be very important. It's imperative to make sure the story stays on track. If there's a lot going on, make a timeline.
Modern readers expect things such as contraception to be referred to if not discussed by the characters. Sex scenes require editing just as carefully as the rest of your novel. Authors sometimes struggle to write these scenes and many editors don't give them enough attention. I don't embarrass easily and am comfortable with explicit content.
It's important to ensure that the plot is elucidated well and stays true to the formula. I make sure there are interesting plot points, enough conflict to be believable, and the resolution makes sense. Tact, honesty, objectivity, and being uninhibited are traits my clients appreciate. It's important to indicate anything that reads awkwardly. If your editor can't make sense of it, then readers won't be able to, either.
I'm a lover of romance novels and not ashamed to say so. That's why it's one of my specialties as a fiction editor. In many ways, editing romantic fiction is much like editing other books. It's just as worthy as editing literary fiction, and romance novels are just as deserving of good editing as any other type of story. Romance readers have extremely high expectations and standards and can be vocal when something doesn't meet with their approval.
The Romance Novel Reader at a Glance
Romance is the most productive genre, and authors are self-publishing at an astonishing rate. According to Romance Writers of America, romance sells more books than mystery, science fiction/fantasy, and religious/inspirational genres. More than 8,000 new romance titles were released in 2016, translating into sales of over $1.4 billion annually.
What They Read and Buy
Reading romance how long:
Romance subgenres by format:
Most popular romance themes:
What else romance buyers read:
Regardless of format, compared to 12 months ago:
How Readers Obtain Books
Which stores have they bought from most often?
Brick and mortar
Principal influences when buying a romance novel:
How romance novel buyers find new romance authors or titles:
Talking about romance books with family and friends
Most romance buyers report they discuss romance books in person with friends and family (76%).
Formats read versus formats read most often
Most popular e-books genres
A price of $6 is considered fair for e-books.Source: Nielsen's Romance Book Buyer Report.