Lia Brown on the left, Sandra, Carolyn Brown (author of 44 Avalon books)
Today is a special treat for me as I have the pleasure of introducing my editor, Lia Brown, Editor for Avalon Books, New York. I met her in person at the RWA National Conference in Orlando. Lia was the hostess of a wonderful gathering of Avalon authors. This woman not only is a terrific editor but she knows how to put on a delightful party.
Lia Brown, editor at Avalon Books, started her career in publishing at Starlog magazine as a high school intern, fell in love with editing and the creative process, and hasn’t wanted to do anything else since. During the last twenty years she has worked on a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction topics and genres at several publishing houses including, Marvel Comics, HarperCollins,
St. Martin’s Press, Oxford University Press, and Random House Children’s Books.
Her hubby shared the story of how they met.
So Lia, you might recognize it in a future submission.
Ms. Brown is currently an editor at Avalon Books which is an imprint of Thomas Bouregy & Co., Inc. in New York. It was established in 1950 by Thomas Bouregy. The aim of the Avalon publishing program is to provide readers with quality books in a variety of fiction genres. Avalon publishes Romance, Historical Romance, Westerns, Mysteries, and Series.
She had special gifts for each of us authors.
Let me introduce you to Lia Brown. She has generously offered to answer our questions.
1. Could you tell us what kinds of books you are looking for at Avalon?
The best advice I can give on this is: First, it’s really important that authors read our writers guidelines on the website. The guidelines are very clear as to what we accept as far as genre, length, and content. While I certainly understand that everyone hopes that their work will be an exception, we have a very strict publishing plan and it just doesn’t vary; no matter how terrific the manuscript may be. I think people would be surprised at how often this occurs. From a purely an editorial perspective, I'm looking for books with terrific dialogue and characters. And I enjoy all of that even more when an author can inject a little humor into it all.
2. I notice on your website and writing guidelines that you have several genres. How many books do you publish a year from each genre?
We publish 60 books a year, 10 books every two months in what is called a "cycle." Each cycle consists of 4 contemporary romances; 2 historical romances; 2 mysteries; and 2 Westerns.
3. Do you prefer paper submissions or electronic?
For first time authors we ask for hard copy unless they are overseas as it would be cost prohibitive. For veteran authors, I usually leave it up to their preference, but I'm finding that I am asking for electronic submissions more often. Submission guidelines
4. The Seekers formed this group because we were always bumping heads in writing contests. Do you judge contests and if so do you find authors from those entries? Do you recommend aspiring authors enter contests?
Unfortunately, I have too many submissions to get through to judge contests very often, but I do on occasion. I found one author that way, though it didn't work out in the end. I don't know that I recommend entering contests, but I wouldn't say not to. In the end, I'm not sure how beneficial it is, though I don’t think it hurts, certainly. It’s always a good thing to get your work out there and have another set of eyes reading it and offering advice and critiques. I am not swayed one way or another when I read an author's cover letter and they list their contest wins. It's a subjective business.
5. What historical eras are you interested in for your historical genre? Are they historical romance or historical fiction or a combination of both?
It's purely historical romance, though the Westerns also take place in historical settings. I would love to start reading some more "modern" historicals. Stories that take place at the turn of the century or 1920s-1940s. I think that would be something interesting and different. I love England and the Regency stories we publish, but I’m a big history buff and I’d like to read stories in other times and places, too.
6. Your romances are specified as sweet romances. What exactly does this mean? What guidelines do you have for sexual tension in the romance?
There aren’t really guidelines for sexual tension. Making it work is up to the author to achieve, and it's certainly not easy. In fact, I’d say our authors work the hardest at making romance work since they are so limited in what they are able to show. Sweet means no pre-marital sex and no "on screen" sex if a couple is married; kisses, hugs, and that kind of thing is acceptable.
7. In my revisions, you asked me to take out the gory scene where she crashed and blood spilled on the road. What is taboo in your lines?
That was probably a borderline call, if we feel that a scene will be just as effective without certain excesses, we take it out. For our romances, there is no pre-marital sex, no cursing, no excessive drinking (a celebratory glass here and there), and very little blood. The Westerns and mysteries are a little less strict on the blood and cursing (though the cursing is still very mild).
8. Who is your main audience? What readership should we be targeting if we are writing for Avalon?
Our readers run the spectrum, especially for the romances. Anywhere from young women in their late teens on up. Our Westerns have a stronger male readership, and the mysteries, particularly when they are "cozy" ones, tend to be more female.
9. What is the average response time for a submission?
Right now we have a response time averaging 10-12 months, but it's actually trending a little longer. There were a lot of changes at Avalon last year and I have a lot of making up for that. I hope to get things back to normal by the end of the year and our usual response time is 6-8 months.
Stop by to chat. There will be two chances to win the Avalon release of the winners choice. That's right. There will be two winners today of a book from Avalon's wonderful selection. Winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition.And If you are interested in pitching your completed manuscript to editor, Lia Brown, please send a pitch no longer than one sentence to the Seekerville email address starting on Tuesday. Deadline is Thursday at midnight EST. Five winning pitches will be chosen and sent to Ms. Brown. Put Avalon pitch in the subject line.Those winning pitches will also be posted in theWeekend edition. One pitch per person. Please do not put your pitch in blog comments this time. Ms. Brown has been very generous with her busy schedule.Since Ms. Brown is from New York we have an assortment of bagels, flavored cream cheeses and plain cream cheese with lox.Strong. coffee to go with that, assorted teas and hot chocolate with whipped cream.Later in the day, one of the street vendors offered to stop by and sell warm pretzels with mustard for a pick-me-up snack. Yum.And of course, for all you chocolate lovers there's a table with assorted chocolates to choose from.Let's give a warm Seekerville welcome to Avalon editor, Lia Brown.Avalon books will publish Sandra Leesmith's PRICE OF VICTORY late spring 2011.