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LIRW Luncheon: Industry Snapshot Part 1

I had the pleasure of attending the thirteenth annual Long Island Romance Writers (LIRW) Luncheon, held this year at the Fox Hollow Inn, a charming venue.  Unlike many RWA-related conferences, this event features informal mingling and shmoozing with industry professionals in an unstructured setting.  Writers pitch, editors and agents request, and every year connections are made – careers have been launched right here, over champagne punch and chocolate truffles.

The only formal part of the day involves a quick description from each of the industry folks in attendance describing what they are looking for and what upcoming releases they are especially excited about.  I’ve always enjoyed this part of the event, because it gives you in effect a snapshot of the industry.

We also have a keynote address every year from an agent or editor giving us insights into the publishing industry.  This year we were fortunate to have Steven Zacharius, President/CEO of Kensington Publishing.  He had so much to say I’m going to devote another blog post to his insights.

Today’s post gives a quick run-down of who was there and what they had to say.  One caveat:  I took these notes while eating chocolate mousse, in a sleep-deprived haze.  If you were there and beg to differ as to my descriptions, please chime in!

Linda Ingmanson: Editor at Samhain, an epub that publishes a wide range of paranormal, historical and contemporary romance.

Jennifer Didik:  An agent with the Barrett Agency who is looking for new romance authors, and non-fiction too.  She is a new and hungry agent, having worked as a merchandise manager for Barnes and Noble.  Eager to find amazing books and put them in the hands of readers.

Sandy Lu:  An agent from the Perkins agency.  Interested in mystery/thriller, urban fantasy, romantic suspense.  Generally not interested in non-fiction, but will consider memoir.

Heather Osborn: an editor from Tor who oversees their Romance line.  She is interested in looking at paranormal romance, from erotic to sweet, urban fantasy, and another editor at Tor is interested in aquiring romantic suspense.  She would also like to find a big book single title contemporary.  Says they are getting lots of angels and demons these days, and loves all paranormal.

Anne Bohner:  Former editor at NAL is now a new agent with Pen & Ink Literary.  Actively acquiring new authors: YA, all romance, women’s fiction. 

Alex Logan: editor at Grand Central Publishing.  Looking for romance, thrillers.  Two new authors on the NYT list exemplify what they are excited about:  Elizabeth Hoyt (smart historicals) and Larissa Ione (sexy, dark paranormals).  They are looking for a big single title contemporary – small town settings are doing well.  She advises that writers can’t follow trends, and it’s much better to start a new trend.  She thinks big contemporaries may be the next big trend.

Amy Boggs:  A self-described “baby agent” from the Donald Maass agency.  She loves books with a fantastical bent:  urban fantasy, steampunk, paranormal romance.  Need deep settings and worldbuilding as well as strong characters.  Wants books that explore different cultures, not just medieval Europe.

Alicia Condon:  Editorial Director from Kensington Publishing.  Eagerly aquiring YA, paranormal romance, hot erotica (Aphrodisia).  A new Brava writing contest called Writing with the Stars is being co-sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine (and I think she said it ends in July, so hurry!) Check the Kensington Brava site or the RT site for more details.

Emmanuelle Alspaugh: An agent who is looking for romance, women’s fiction, urban fantasy, historical, non-fiction.  Represents a Dorchester author who is up for a RITA this year (writes regencies).  She is also excited about an astrology-themed Regency series that is coming out in September from Avon.

Louise Fury: an agent with the Perkins agency.  Looking for well-written books.  She wants to find a YA ghost story, a historical YA ghost story would be terrific!  Enjoys Victorian historical fiction, YA steampunk, also looking for non-fiction romance stories.

Diana Fox:  was an assistant for Robin Rue at Writers House before becoming an agent at the Fox Agency.  Looking for historicals and paranormals with a strong voice and story.  Loves Laura Kinsale and Meredith Duran.  Believes military romance is a growing trend and wants to see more of these, though she is not as much interested in general contemporaries.  Wants to see YA paranormal romance and adult historicals: one of her authors has a new renaissance mystery coming out.  Still looking for urban fantasy, but must have strong worldbuilding.

Stacy Boyd:  Harlequin editor.  Harlequin is looking for literary fiction, commercial high concept, nonfiction, and category romance.  Especially interested in YA paranormals, with twists on vamps and angels.  Wants historical YA.  At category length, looking for historicals, paranormals, and comedic books.

Evette Porter: Harlequin’s Kimani (multicultural) line.  Arabesque publishes contemporary single title, but this line doesn’t aquire much since they mostly publish established authors like Brenda Jackson.  That said, she is looking for paranormals for Arabesque.  She also edits multiculti YA, and wants more paranormal romance.  Especially angels and horror YA.

Lori Perkins:  Principal agent at the Lori Perkins agency, and editorial director of Ravenous Romance, a new e-publisher.  There are four agents at the agency, and Ravenous publishes some 150 new titles a year.  Ravenous does especially well with m/m, lesbian, kinky paranormals.  They also do 24 in-house anthologies a year; look on the Ravenous website for details.  She says short stories are a great way to break into this market.

Suzie Townsend:  an agent with FinePrint.  Looking for YA and adult romance.  Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, historicals.  She too likes a fantastical element.

Deb Werksman: Editor with Sourcebooks.  Publishes 33 new titles per year, with a simultaneous ebook release.  Sourcebooks is known for its aggressive marketing and sales, and they are focused on single title romance in all subgenres.  They publish Laura Kinsale, and are looking for both new authors and authors with a track record who are looking to make a change.  Sourcebooks wants to build authors, looking not just for a book but for a career:  what’s next, and next, and next after the book you are submitting?  They are also looking for backlist to re-issue, and in their Casablanca classics line have reissued Georgette Heyer’s books and will be publishing Elaine Kaufman and Cathy Mann.  [ed note:  author Judi Fennell first made her connection with Sourcebooks at the LIRW Luncheon that led to a multi-book deal!]

Heather Evans:  an agent with FinePrint.  Looking for darker romance, paranormals, suspense, Regencies, psychological/hark horror, YA, fantasy.  No contemporary romance, though Stephany Evans (who could not attend today) is looking for contemporaries.

Michelle Wolfson: an agent with Wolfson Literary.  Looking for strong writing with great characters.  No hard SF or category.  Looking for commercial fiction/non-fiction, paranormal romance, dystopian.  Create the next trend – write big, great books and send them to her!
My impressions after the luncheon as a whole:

*big contemporaries a predicted next big trend
*military romances…as one agent put it (don’t remember which one, Diana Fox maybe?), after all, we are at war…these are our heroes.
*YA historicals, horror, dystopians, angels just may be the next big things.
*angels are doing very well sales-wise right now in the adult market as well

Next time, I’ll review the presentation of Steven Zacharius at Kensington. I learned a lot at the luncheon this year and had a terrific time.


  1. Donna Coe_Vellelman says:

    Great, Michele. Thanks for the breakdown of what our guests were looking for. It was wonderful to see you again and it makes me happy to know you’re doing so well.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for the good wishes, Donna. One of the things that makes the LIRW luncheon truly special is that so many industry pros come out and share their vision and expertise with all of us. It’s their generosity, along with the talent and enthusiasm of the writers who attend, who together make the luncheon a one-of-a-kind event.

      Thanks again!

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