From Jordan Summer's blog, citing Cindy Myer's newsletter:
"The Spotlight on Avon was a lively session with a lot of information. The spotlight was presented by Lucia Macro, Executive Editor for Morrow/Avon; Mai Chen, Editor, Tessa Woodward, Editorial Assistant, and another editorial assistant whose name I did not catch. Senior Editors Lyssa Keusch and Erika Tsang were not present, but they also acquire for Avons romance program. In the core romance program, Avon publishes four historical and one contemporary romance each month. They also publish various lead titles and trade paperback fiction monthly. Theyre looking for 90,000 to 100,000 word manuscripts historical, contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit and womens fiction, multi-cultural and erotica.
"The spotlight on Avon is courtesy of Cindi Myers Newsletter.
"Lucia Macro primarily focuses on Avons established, lead-level authors but she does acquire some books from new authors. The perfect book for her is a sexy, emotional story with great dialogue and an amazing author voice. She wants lively, interesting, vibrant characters who are pro-active no wimps allowed.
"In historicals the editors are still primarily interested in 1800s English and Scottish settings and medievals, except for historical erotica, in which any setting goes. In romantic suspense they prefer dark, gritty stories. For contemporary romance, Avon is moving away from romantic comedy. The editors would like to see meaty stories that may have comic moments, but with depth. Erica Tsang has a special love for paranormal romance of all types. Avon is also very interested in African-American romance, either historical or contemporary.
"Mai Chen spoke about the Avon Red program. Avon Red publishes one erotic romance each month in trade paper. Theyre looking for romance-driven erotica with a strong emotional under-current. Books may be historical in any time period, contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, urban fiction and either short stories or full-length novels. 25,000 - 40,000 words for short stories, 80,000-90,000 words for novels.
"Avon does accept unagented material. Authors must query via email first to email@example.com. Put Query in your subject line and in the body of the email indicate any particular editor youre interested in submitted to. The two editorial assistants review all the email and they offered a list of Dos and Donts for authors:
"Do proofread very carefully.
"Dont send the same query over and over send it once. You will get an answer.
"Do research. Make sure the person youre querying and the imprint youre interested in actually exist.
"Dont query for poetry or YA. Avon romance does not publish these.
"Do query in your query explain what your story is about.
"Dont argue with the editors if youre rejected.
"Do follow up if you havent heard anything in four weeks.
"Dont follow up the next day.
"Do be original.
"Dont have a plot twist solely for the sake of a plot twist.
"Dont get discouraged.
"In May 2007 Avon will launch Avon Inspirational, publishing Christian inspirational romance. The line will be handled out of Avons San Francisco office but interested authors may query to firstname.lastname@example.org and the query will be directed to the appropriate editor.
"Avon Fan Lit is a new online venture in which authors compete to write a collaborative e-books. Avon editors will create six story lines and participants will vote for their favorite. Once the story line is selected, participants submit a chapter each week and everyone votes on the best chapter. The top ten vote-getters go to a final vote. Each week starts a new chapter. Winning authors are profiled on the site and will win prizes. The final product will be published as an e-book. The project launches August 23rd. You can sign up now at Harpercollins Avon Fan Lit
"St. Martin's spotlight was interesting. They broke down the levels of promotion that they put into new and established authors. What I found interesting was the fact that they seem to be the only publishing house that puts a lot of emphasis on promotion. They have one person who deals strictly with Wal-mart, another for Amazon, and even another for independent sellers. They have programs in place to reward retailers for supporting new authors. It's truly impressive.
"Now to what they're looking for...Monique Patterson wants stories that have lively worlds. She's not the only editor stressing world-building. Many publishing houses mentioned the lack of world-building in the submissions they're receiving lately. She's looking for books that are funny, sexy, or scary. She's particularly interested in paranormal, women's fiction, and erotic romance. She said she loves fairytales and classic stories. Jennifer Enderlin is on the hunt for a super sexy western romance. The language in the above books can be extreme as long as it fits the story. (Again, something I heard from a lot of publishers.) Jennifer, Monique, and Rose are all looking for historicals and literary fiction. They prefer settings before 1900. They said everything after that date is hard to market and would probably be placed under historical fiction, not romance. They love recurring characters (ie Stephanie Plum series) They're interested in Romantic Suspense, Action/adventure, Multi-cultural, and even YA. They said if you're writing YA that it should be aimed at ages 15+. They said you can submit anthologies, but mainly they come from in house. If you do choose to submit an anthology, please make sure the book stays in the same category (ie paranormal, romantic suspense, contemp, historical, etc.). Don't jump around. The editors are also interested in literary fiction, but NOT sweet romance. They said right now there isn't a market for sweet romance, but they expect that to change.
"A few things to know about St. Martin's before submitting, they buy in multiple books because they believe in building a writer's career. They prefer book-length to be between 90-125,000 words. Erotica and erotic romances can be shorter than 90K, but they wouldn't like to see the books fall below 80K because then you're getting into category-length territory. They do NOT buy first time authors on proposal. You need to have a finished manuscript first. All editors except Monique Patterson prefer a query letter first. Monique said she can't tell anything from a query alone, so she wants people to send her a query, synopsis, and the first three chapters of the book. She said it takes around 2 months to hear back on a partial and 4 to 6 months to hear back on a full.
"Luna, Nocturne, and other paranormal lines spotlight. Apparently, Harlequin has several lines in what they call their paranormal stream. These lines include Nocturne, HQN, LUNA, MIRA, and BLAZE. Nocturne launches this coming Oct. with two titles per month. The books should be between 70-75,000 words and lean toward fantasy in the world-building. (They want the rich worlds that come from fantasy.) They're looking for shape-shifters, vampires, and hot alpha males with a twist. The books CAN be graphic. In fact they mentioned Angela Knight, Christine Feehan, and Laurell K. Hamilton as the types of books they'd like to see for the new line. They currently aren't interested in historicals, unless the historical part is used to tell a vampires' history. You can make up your own myths about the creatures in your world. They prefer darker books over comedy. The turnaround time is currently 3 months. Luna and Mira publish urban fantasy. Luna's emphasis is on the fantasy part of the equation. They don't care whether there's sex in the books. They are willing to look at sexier books as long as the plot is strong and incorporates the sex.