~ Interview by Melina Kantor 

We’re extremely fortunate to have Sue Grimshaw, Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Category Specialist & Editor At Large, visiting the blog today.

Welcome Sue!

Q: How did you become involved in the publishing / book industry? Have you always been a fan of romance novels?

A: Oddly enough, I did not seek to be employed in this crazy biz, initially that is.  Fresh out of college I was hired by Kmart & managed a few of their stores prior getting involved in the merchandising and buying end of the retail business.  I was part of the organization for fifteen years – can you imagine?  Cosmetic buyer and all – loved it.  The company, industry, was going through some transition (similar to what the book industry is feeling today) and so I started interviewing around to see what else I could find.  Borders had just merged with Waldenbooks & was in the process of doing an IPO with Kmart ,which was about the time when I accepted a buying position in children’s books!  Then onto non-fiction, then Romance – interesting career path, but in the end I found my niche, my passion and have been greatly blessed ever since.

I’ve always enjoyed reading . . . but it took me a few years (I was in my late 20’s when I confessed I was a romance reader) to realize the key element for me in a story is the characterization,  and if an author has nailed that they’ve hooked me forever.

Q: You’ve got quite a job title: “Category Specialist & Editor at Large.” What exactly does your title mean? 

A: LOL – I don’t know, but I’d like to think it means I’m special and a large editor, although I hope that doesn’t mean in size . .  .I will have to ask my boss about that!

Q: What are some of your major responsibilities? 

A: Ok, seriously, my job involves a few more things than what the editing job description defines.  As Category Specialist & Editor at Large for BBD/Loveswept I work with our internet team hosting our website Romance At Random, which by the way, is a community site for all romance readers, authors, everyone.  As Editor at Large I work with our associate publisher to acquire, edit, promote, and manage the Loveswept line. I love it all – I really do.

Q: What are the differences between selecting a book for a major bookseller, selecting a manuscript for publication, and selecting a book to read for enjoyment?

A: Great question!  Having been on the forefront of the business, interacting with customers and seeing trends and what sells certainly has been a help when reviewing many of the submissions we receive for the Loveswept line.  Fortunately, what I enjoy reading has been similar to that of what readers enjoy, so my reading for enjoyment and work are now one in the same.

Q: You’ve been part of many online romance reader communities. Why are these communities important to readers?

A: That’s an interesting question and I hate to put words in reader’s mouths, however, from my standpoint, as I am a reader too, I believe the online community, like Romance At Random (www.romanceatrandom.com) is a place for people to get together and enjoy views and insights about books.  Romance At Random is a romance community that hosts posts from authors, bloggers, readers, editors, narrators, publishers, booksellers . . really everyone.  It is a lot of fun & because of its diversity it is never boring <G>

Q: What is your opinion of the term “chick lit?” What do you think separates chick lit from contemporary romance?

A: Let me just clarify my comment by saying, ‘this is Sue’s personal opinion’, not her employers or anyone else’s.  The term “chick lit” seems a bit out-dated to me . . .  .sorry! If you listened to just me you’d end up changing the title of your blog!  However, that said, I think the definitions, descriptions we put on things to merchandise the bricks and mortar bookstores are no longer relevant in the ‘cloud’ world.  There are no bookshelves, or departments or areas in the clouds that make me have to identify my book or segment myself from other readers . . . as a book, electronically, anyone can find you anywhere.  But now, this does create another challenge for the author, and that is identifying yourself in that sea of e-books now available in the clouds.  Now you’ve got to learn new strategies and techniques to identify yourself and your books to readers.  So, in answer to your second question, does chick lit become separated from contemporary romance?  Not really in the readers mind, no (especially if you include that HEA); in bookstores, yes, as they do merchandise these categories separately; in the clouds – no.

Q: Recently, I’ve come across several articles that claim that although chick lit sales are down, the genre is still doing relatively well. What do you make of this news? 

A: That’s exciting as the new good is down – as, everyone is down.  The economy and technology have really made us learn some new tricks.  Bottom line, this too shall pass so I would not worry about it.  Keep writing the best books ever and readers will keep reading them, no worries.  Even if you do worry it never changes anything (lord, I sound like my mother).

Q: What advice do you have for the unpublished members of our chapter?

A: Unpublished authors rock!  We need you J  You are the fresh voices of our industry & very important to romance and reading in general.  I know this sounds like a cliché but, write the best book you know how.  Make the reader feel what you are writing; hook them in the first chapter so they don’t want to put that book down; create believable characters, people that they want to get to know; and if you’re writing romance, give me that happy ending.  Very basic advice but very true & whatever else you can add to the mix is gravy.

Thank you so much for being with us today! It was an honor!

Thanks for having me – please check out Romance At Random – www.romanceatrandom.com, stop by & say hi or contact me for a post.  And, check out our LOVESWEPT re-launch and ebook originals future releases (click here for the books already released http://www.romanceatrandom.com/category/loveswept/):

 

Because of You – ORIGINAL!! Jessica Scott

11/14/2011

The Rose of Blacksword Rexanne Becnel

12/12/2011

In the Arms of the Law Deborah Harmse

1/9/2012

Ivy Secrets Jean Stone

1/9/2012

See How They Run Bethany Campbell

2/13/2012

Ride With Me – ORIGINAL!! Ruthie Knox

2/13/12

Raven and the Cowboy Sandra Chastain

3/12/2012

The Redhead and the Preacher Sandra Chastain

3/12/2012

All is Fair… Linda Cajio

4/9/2012

Bad to the Bone Debra Dixon

4/9/2012

Rescuing Diana Linda Cajio

4/9/2012

Morgan’s Woman Judith E. French

5/14/2012

A Case for Romance Katie Rose

5/14/2012

Back to You – ORIGINAL!! Jessica Scott

5/14/2012

 

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/217169/because-of-you-by-jessica-scott

On Sale 11/14/2011 – Don’t miss this intoxicating love story.

About the book:

From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

  • “Jessica Scott is an exciting new voice in romantic fiction who bursts upon the scene with an unputdownable debut novel! ”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Robyn Carr
  • “Edgy and current—and a truly satisfying love story. Put this book, Jessica Scott’s, BECAUSE OF YOU, on your “must read” list.”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Suzanne Brockmann
  • “Jessica Scott writes with a soldier’s heart. Because Of You is touching, authentic and a fantastic read.”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Cindy Gerard
  • “Crackling with realism, sizzling with sexual tension, and pulsing with emotion, Jessica Scott has penned an unforgettable military romance that delivers heartache and hope on every page.”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Roxanne St. Claire
  • “Authentic, emotional, and edgy, Jessica Scott’s sweeping military romance is a vivid snapshot of love, war, grief and–above all–hope.” –
    Allison Brennan, NYT Bestselling Author of If I Should Die
  • Because of You is a powerful debut – emotional, heartbreaking and uplifting all at once, it’s a romance not to be missed!”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Stephanie Tyler
  • “Jessica Scott has written a beautiful love story filled with heart, tender emotion, unflinching honesty and gritty realism.Because of You is a military romance you will never forget!”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Christy Reece
  • “Jessica Scott writes an intense story, packed with realism and emotion. BECAUSE OF YOU will tug at your heartstrings.”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    Laura Griffin
  • “In BECAUSE OF YOU, Jessica Scott presents a realistic and emotionally gripping tale of life in and around the military. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to read the next in this compelling series.”
    USA Today Bestselling Author
    Julie Kenner
  • “Watch out Navy SEALS, there’s a new hero in town and he’s wearing Army gray! Because of You is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully emotional debut.”
    New York Times Bestselling Author
    JoAnn Ross
  • BECAUSE OF YOU is a tough and tender romance that proves the one thing worth fighting for will always be true love. Jessica Scott is a vibrant new voice in contemporary romance!”
    New York Times Bestselling author of GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART
    Teresa Medeiros
  • BECAUSE OF YOU is powerful, timely and wonderfully executed. Jessica Scott should be on every reader’s list.”
    New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
    Brenda Novak
  • Because of You is emotionally heart-wrenching and makes you smile as the characters triumph.
    Mandi Schreiner, Happy Ever After – Blog Reviewer, USA Today
  • “Military romance just got a whole lot better — Because of You — by Jessica Scott, who has created something sumptuous.”
    Anne Woodall, Romance At Random Reviewer

And so much more to come!  I have to pinch myself <G>

Happy Romance!
SueG

Sue was the romance book buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks stores for more than a decade. As of April this year, Sue is Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Category Specialist & Editor At Large.

In her new role, Sue is host of Romance At Random (www.romanceatrandom.com) managing the site for your viewing pleasure and acquiring editor for Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Loveswept line.  A highly sought after expert in her field, Sue has consulted with publishers for many years. Over the last decade, she has been an honored speaker for romance writers and readers at numerous conferences and workshops. Sue is married living a life of romance with hubby, Bill.