Thursday, September 11, 2008

Avalon Books

With ACFW conference coming up, I want to get at least one more post of info from RWA Nationals. Have any of you considered submitting to Avalon Books?  I know I didn't when I started because they don't have large advances. But I have a friend who writes for them and after watching my paperbacks disappear off the shelf, I'm reconsidering their value.  Avalon books target libraries so they are hardbound books. They are designed to hold up with lots of wear and tear in public libraries. Not only that, their books are available for a much longer time period.  You may not be aware, but Steeple Hill comes out for six weeks and then its off the shelf and the next round of books come out. Your book will never be seen again unless you become another Debbie Macomber and all your old books are republished.  Steeple Hill will give you a bigger advance, but remember an advance is an advance against royalties.  So even if you don't get the big advance with Avalon, you will still get the royalties.  And because the book is available for a much longer time, you will get royalties for a longer period of time.

When I wrote for Harlequin in the eighties, I received super advances, but like I mentioned, once the book was off the shelf, that was it.  I could not buy any more. (Something to keep in mind you folks publishing your first books. Be sure and buy plenty of author copies).  I also wrote teenage self help books for Rosen Publishing Group. I didn't get any advance for them, but the royalties were great. They were hardbound and targeted for libraries. Those books are still available and I am still receiving royalties. It is really fun to still be able to see my books out there after all this time.  And over the years they have ended up making more money for me than the Harlequins.  It was just over a period of years instead of a big bunch at once.

The disadvantage of hardbound books is they cost more so it is more difficult for your friends and family to buy them. However, they make excellent gifts. My friend, Annette Mahon's books are really beautiful.  Her latest book, SECRET CORRESPONDENCE, has some great reviews.

Avalon Books target libraries so they want wholesome books.  Faith Black, Editor, who spoke in San Francisco, said religion was okay as long as it was inherent to the characters and plot. They don't want religion as preachy. The characters can pray and go to church, but they don't want conversion or salvation as the main theme.   They allow a glass of wine, but do not want much more alcohol. They do not allow cursing either.  So Avalon is a viable possibility for an author who wants to maintain Christian values in the ABA market.  They are recognized by RWA.  

Their guidelines are listed on their website  They publish romances, westerns and mysteries.  They accept unagented proposals.  I'll list a few of the guidelines below.  

Their guidelines say:  Under its AVALON BOOKS imprint, Thomas Bouregy & Co., Inc., publishes hardcover secular romances, mysteries, and westerns for the library market Our books are wholesome adult fiction, suitable for family reading. There is no graphic or premarital sex or sexual tension in any of the novels; kisses and embraces are as far as our characters go. It is author's responsibility to heighten the romantic atmosphere by developing love scenes with tenderness, emotion, and perception. The heroines of our romances should be looking forward to marriage at the end of the book.  There is never any profanity in any of our books. 

We publish sixty books a year in bimonthly cycles of ten. A cycle consists of two career romances, two general romances, two historical romances, two mysteries, and two westerns. 

You must include with your submission:
  • Query letter addressed: The Editors (they say no name required, but I'd use Faith Black, Editor as she gave out cards in SF)
  • Synopsis (2-3 pages) 
  • First three chapters
  • SASE
Ms. Black said they get back between two weeks to a month. That's a great turnaround time. She also said that if you are multiple submitting to be sure and mention that in the query letter.

Well enough from me. You can find out more info on their website. For now, lets sit back and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee, some sliced pears with blackberries sprinkled on top and maybe a yummy cranberry muffin.   

Happy writing.

PS Since this date is historical I'd like to recommend a super read on 9 11.  Has anyone read ONE TUESDAY by Karen Kingsbury?  You won't be able to put it down.  


  1. Sandra, great idea to submit to Avalon! I'm sure it's fun to see your Self Help books still circulating in libraries. Can you explain how you keep getting royalties from these books? Are the libraries reordering or are new libraries opening?

    The short time on the shelf keep us Steeple Hill writers promoting hard. There's little time to get the word out and sell those books. Some bookstores keep books from prior months on the shelves. I'm hoping that will be the case for Courting Miss Adelaide. Steeple Hill is also putting out Classics, reissued stories from two authors. A great idea for readers who missed their early books.

    I haven't read Karen Kingsbury's
    ONE TUESDAY. But the memory of that day is etched in my mind.
    God bless those who lost someone.


  2. Good morning Janet, The books are still available for purchase. When they wear out, the libraries reorder them if they have been popular. Most libraries have paperbacks, but they don't hold up well so aren't replaced. I suppose new libraries open also. The publisher doesn't give me that kind of breakdown.

    The Classics are a great opportunity. You will also get copies published in different languages. That is fun too.

    Congrats Janet on your debut of COURTING MISS ADELAIDE. Be sure and get plenty of copies so you will have them down the road. I love the cover on that book btw. And Seekers out there, Janet is a terrific author. Be sure and get a copy yourself.

  3. Sandra, thanks for the great info. I didn't know who the new editor was there.

    That's cool that you're still getting royalties!

    Janet mentioned the LI classics. I just hope to see my books re-released someday! :)


  4. Good morning Missy, HER UNLIKELY FAMILY was terrific and your debut novel as well. I too hope they reprint that book. It was such a great book. I'll keep positive thoughts that they will.

  5. Wow, Sandra, great post on Avalon. When I was querying various publishers, I did query Avalon, but it was one of my ... ahem, 45 rejections ... but I sure didn't know all the info you have given us today. I definitely would consider them if I were looking for a publisher right now.


  6. Morning Julie, I'm so glad you're with Revel. They have done a beautiful job with A PASSION MOST PURE and your September release of A PASSION REDEEMED. Do you know how long Revel keeps them out there? Since they publish more like a mainstream, they should be available much longer than category. I've not had experience (yet) with CBA publishers so don't know their shelf life history.

  7. Great post. Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of how that all worked. On the shelf, then off and never to be back. Sounds sad.

  8. Morning Sheri, Yes, it is sad, but then again there is something to be said for moving on. Each month readers have new selections to choose from. Even though category doesn't last on the shelf very long, it is an excellent way for beginners to get started. Because they have distribution down pat, you get more books purchased which is why they can give you bigger advances. They know you'll earn out the advance with guaranteed sales through their mail subscribers. So this is a great way to get your name out there and known. The big names, Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts both started with Harlequin and developed a large readership. So when they ventured out into the mainstream market their readers followed them and guaranteed them sales. Sales are difficult to obtain from beginning authors in mainstream so don't get me wrong, category is a dynamite way to start out.

    I mentioned Avalon because it is an alternative that many writers like. If you don't like doing all the promotion and marketing yourself, this house is perfect for you. And there is the advantage of longer lasting books.

    btw, I think there is a house picking up some Steeple Hills to publish hardbound. Missy Tippens announced that hers was picked up. That is really great. Maybe Missy can give us more details.

  9. Sandra, Thorndike Press picks up some of the LI books to print in large print (hard cover) for libraries. A friend in my church choir told me last night that she opened a box yesterday that had mine it it! (She's a librarian.) She said she would bring it to me so I could see a copy. I think I'll eventually get a couple of copies from the publisher.

    Thorndike gives the books a new cover. I thought mine was really cute! (They have it up at no, Myra, I can't do a link!) LOL But you can do a search for Her Unlikely Family and see it. They did a great job.


  10. I love Debby Mayne's Avalon books. And it seems they're family-friendly.


  11. Missy, Thanks for the info. Oh my, you must get yourself the hardcover copies to keep in your personal library. It was your first book after all. You'll have to frame it and put it on the wall. LOL.

    Hi Cheryl, Yes, all of the Avalon books will be family friendly. That is a requirement of theirs. Of course your books, A SOLDIER'S PROMISE and A SOLDIER'S FAMILY are great Love Inspired reads too. It would be great if they're picked up by Thorndike.

  12. Great post, Sandra. Avalon is on my list of potential publishers but like you, I figured they were a lesser priority because of the lower advances. But thanks for shedding light on the real opportunity.

    I did a quick check. Avalon books are available for sale to individuals and to bookstores as well. They take orders directly. Their books are also available thru Amazon, so if an author enjoys promoting their books, it would be possible to do rather well with Avalon, I'd think.

  13. Great info, Sandra! I've looked into Avalon in the past, and you've given some very strong reasons to keep them on the submissions list.

    Nice to know about Thorndike, too, Missy. Glad there's another outlet for Love Inspired books. Too much work goes into those for such a short shelf life.

  14. Hi Patricia, Thanks for the added info. Yes, you're right. An author who promotes can do quite well and has the backlist available as well. My friend who publishes with them always sells them at our events and does quite well.

    Hi Myra, Nice to hear from you. Have you heard from Abington as to how long they plan to keep their books on the shelf? I know you're excited to know since you will be debuting ONE PERFECT CHRISTMAS, your first book with them next fall. Congrats again.

  15. Sandra.

    You marketer, you.

    You managed to mention (I think) each and every Seeker book written by those who've stopped in already.

    Pretty solid salesmanship, my friend! Is someone paying you, darling, or are you looking to move into used cars if this whole writing gig doesn't pan out????

    Glad you put this info out there about Avalon. A nice, solid press with good credentials. Thanks for highlighting them today. Great info sharing.


    Speaking of sharing....

    Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with vanilla/amaretto cappuccino.

    Grab some girls, they're my own Ruthy recipe, guaranteed to fit well with my love of Paula Dean and all things buttery, high-calorie and sweet.

    But especially chocolate.


    Sandra, save a few for later, 'kay? I've got to work tonight and I don't want our evening company to go without. Perish the thought.


  16. Hey there, this is fantastic info. Thanks.

    I have an off-topic question about contest entries,though.

    I rec'd an email late last night that I'm a finalist in the Golden Gateway contest for Charley's Saint which was my NaNo ms last year.

    I left room on my one-sheet for this possibility. But now I'm wondering...

    Patience Smith of Silhouette/Harlequin will be the final judge. One of my editor appt requests was with Emily Rodmell of Harlequin. Can I mention this to her? It sounds like a dumb question but if she goes back and speaks to Patience about, when Patience looks at my entry, she might recognize the name.

    BTW - this ms was targeted for SHLI but they didn't have a contest cat for Inspy.

  17. Oh Yummy Ruthy, How mean to bring chocolate chip cookies when I need, need, need to cut back on those calories. Oh that's right. Cyber cookies are calorie free. yeah.

    Anita Mae, good question. My advice and Seekers, don't be shy to jump in with your advice, but my advice would be to mention the fact the manuscript has finaled and will be read by Patience Smith. What better plug for it than the fact it has finaled in a contest.

    All of you should be advised that the publishing business is a very small and close knit business. Everyone knows everyone and editors move around like they're on a merry go-round. One minute they're at one house and the next they're at another. so you always want to keep that in mind when dealing with them. Within the same house, they have meetings and they put out the manuscripts they're considering so everyone hears about the choices. If you've pitched it to one editor and another pitches it at a sales meeting without knowing that could lead to some uncomfortable moments which you don't ever want to put an editor in. Best to be up front and let them know another editor will be looking at it. You might want to follow that up with the question and ask their advice. Like "Shall I send this to you or wait until Ms. Smith sees it?"

    CONGRATULATIONS ANITA MAE. Glad you shared with us.

  18. Thanks Sandra, and here's my last question on it:

    I post about my writing, challenges, contests, etc on my blog.

    Can I blog about this?

    Or am I supposed to wait until the contest is over?

    I wish I'd thought of these when you had that contest expert a couple weeks ago - Miss Snark? - but I really didn't think I'd final yet.

  19. Anita Mae, when you ask about blogging about this, by "this" are you meaning can you announce that you've finaled? If that is your question, of course you can announce that you've finaled. I think most contests post finalists on their websites. Unless you were told specifically not to mention it, I would shout it from the rooftops. Its quite an accomplishment.

  20. Anita Mae, I agree with what Sandra said. Just let her know, but be sure she knows it's targeted toward Steeple Hill.

    Congratulations!!! That's great news!!


  21. Anita Mae, be sure to brag about it and post about it everywhere!!! You may not want to say the title of your manuscript since it's still being judged, but that's a personal choice. Otherwise, it's totally okay to announce you're a finalist! :)

  22. Thank you ladies. It seems so weird b/c it was the first contest I entered (not counting the Genesis) and they always say you don't final in your first. Although technically it was my 2nd then. :-)

    Also, I know they were short of entries and even held the contest over a week to pull more in.

    However, I believe the Lord holds me in the palm of His hand, so I'll say thank you and then buckle down to make the changes before resubmitting it.

  23. Hello beloved inhabitants of Seekerville.

    I have returned.

    Hide the children and breakables.

  24. We're so glad you're back, Mary! It's been really quiet without your humor and general off-the-wall comments. :)


  25. Sandra, I'm delighted your books are still being reissued. That's got to be a great feeling and nice for the royalties too.

    Thanks, Sandra, for the congrats! I'd love to see Courting Miss Adelaide published in foreign languages and in the Classics! Any SH authors know what countries the LI books are published?

    Congratulations, Anita, on the contest final!!!

    Glad you're back, Mary! We missed you!!!!


  26. Welcome back Mary, I've hidden all the breakables. My favorite coffee cup is safe. LOL

    Missy, thanks for the input.

    Sorry I've been gone for a bit. Had company for dinner and it was just too much fun visiting. Bet you all know about that. We were exchanging stories of how we met dh. so I guess I could say I was WORKING. Research don't ya know. Love those romances.

    I'll check one more time before bedtime which is early for me. So thanks all of you for joining us here at Seekerville where we are all striving to paddle off unpub island and in my case the cove for those who left writing and are trying to sail back into the published arena.

  27. Sandra! Thanks for the great info on Avalon! It's great to know all that.

  28. Anita Mae...CONGRATS ON YOUR FINAL!!!!

    Woo-hoo. Definitely mention it to Emily and let her know you are targeting LI with it but they didn't have an Inspy category. If you finaled in a non-inspy category with an inspy...that's really great!


  29. Good post. I targeted Avalon because of the same reasons you mentioned, and my first novel was published by them this year. (In The Dismal Swamp).

    I highly recommend them for new writers trying to break into the market.