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Writing the Romance Novel: You’ve Written It, Now What? (Guest Blogger Rebecca Germany)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

For the past month we’ve been discussing the finer points of writing the romance novel. Well, once you’ve written it, then what do you do? You submit it, obviously. But to whom? Well, why not to the publishing house that is the house for inspirational romance and women’s fiction: Barbour Publishing. Today, Barbour’s Senior Fiction Editor Rebecca Germany gives us a little insight on her process as she reviews and considers proposals.


I started drinking coffee just a few years ago, but the longer I drink it the more particular I get about the type of coffee I buy and what I put into it for flavor. I can no longer get excited about canned coffee grounds or powdered creamers. My tastes have grown, refined.I’ve been reading romance proposals for almost 15 years now, and I’ve become pretty particular about those too. I know what I like and what I don’t, and it takes a lot to WOW me these days.

When looking at a proposal, I may breeze over a cover letter, looking for who wrote it and what the story theme in a sentence would be (includes setting and main plot conflict). Looking at word length also helps me quickly determine if it is for me to consider for full-length or to pass along to one of our shorter romance lines.

Very quickly, though, I will jump to the first page of the story and see if the writing draws me in. If the theme of the story and the writing sample interest me, I’ll take time to look at the summary to see where the author is taking the story.

I find it no longer takes a lot of time to recognize bad or otherwise lacking writing. If it is easy to set the proposal aside and forget I have it, then it is also a good sign that I’m not likely to publish it no matter how long I hold onto it.

If I’m hooked and ready to ask to see more of the story, it is at that time I’ll be interested in things like the author’s bio, web site, previous publications, and so on.

So, basically I’m looking for a unique romance story that can be cleverly summed up in a sentence that will intrigue me, then I’m looking for a great first chapter that shows me you can write and draw your reader in to want to read more.

At Barbour we are no longer accepting submissions that are mailed in by old-fashioned delivery. We accept emailed submissions at fictionsubmit (at) The body of the email is your cover letter, and the rest of your proposal should be attached in one file. Unfortunately we still have a “slush” pile of submissions we have to weed through, but the electronic submissions will hopefully manage the pile more efficiently and with less cost to the company.

Rebecca Germany
Senior Fiction Editor
Barbour Publishing, Inc.

  1. Thursday, May 22, 2008 8:37 am

    I’m curious how many submissions Barbour gets each week/month. Thanks for the post! It’s neat to see inside the process.


  2. Thursday, May 22, 2008 6:23 pm

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    The wow factors you look for in a proposal make perfect sense to me….unique story summed in an intriquing sentence and a stellar first chapter leaving you wanting to read more. My question is about a perceived ‘gray area’ you allude to.

    If the writing is poor or you’re hooked and want to read more, it sounds like you respond ASAP to the author. “If it is easy to set the proposal aside and forget I have it, then it is also a good sign that I’m not likely to publish it no matter how long I hold onto it.” Even though there is no wow or yuck factor, what interests you enough to set the proposal aside?


  3. Thursday, May 22, 2008 8:13 pm

    Thank You, Kaye, your guest posters are great! What a wealth of information they offer!

    Guess I’ll be spending a lot more time on that cover letter and getting that one sentence fine tuned and shining.


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