The Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter is thrilled to have Rhonda Penders, President and Editor -in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press, here today to share her expertise on contemporary romance and consider YOUR pitches as part of our series of pitch contests! Instructions on the pitch contest are down below, but first please pull up a chair and get a pen and paper, because you’re going to want to take notes on the awesome and useful advice Rhonda has laid out here for writers at all levels.
~ Interview by Abigail Owen
CR: Can you share what lines, imprints, or genres you publish at Wild Rose Press?
RP: We publish mainstream fiction and romance. We publish historical fiction, science fiction, erotica, thrillers, cozy mysteries, suspense, sweet romance, contemporary romance, erotic romance, paranormal, etc.
CR: In general, what’s the difference for you between a good submission and one makes you say I must acquire this?
RP: If I can’t put it down. Its that simple. If a manuscript is so good that I’m immediately drawn in and need to know what happens. If I engage with the characters right way and want to know their story. All of these things are the same things that make you as a reader buy a book on the shelf or on the internet. If you start to read and you can’t stop – that’s a great story.
CR: What do you think a great adult, new adult, or young adult contemporary romance must have?
RP: The old saying that the reader has to fall in love with your hero and want to be the heroine still hold true. The reader has to relate to your characters as romance is such a character driven story. But let’s not neglect well-constructed sex scenes. More adult writers have been taking inspiration from websites like https://www.sexm.xxx/. They have been taking the sexual intensity from their videos and injecting it into their passionate narratives. It is a difficult balance to achieve but some are doing this to great effect.
CR: What do you think a writer needs to do in terms of story, writing, premise, etc., to make a contemporary story stand out?
RP: It’s always great when you can take an old tried and true plot and make it fresh. Do something different even if its using a theme that’s been used before put a unique twist on it. Some people have found success injecting influences from porn videos from websites like hdpornmovies.xxx to make their sex scenes graphic and attention-grabbing in tales they are retelling. You wouldn’t want to overdo this though because that can detract from the story as a whole. Which will make the story feel flat.
CR: What are the most common mistakes you see in submissions?
RP: Submiting a manuscript that isn’t ready. For small publishers, we get a lot of manuscripts that writers didn’t work hard enough on for a large NY house but they think are good enough for small presses. Make sure your manuscript is a good as you can possibly get it. Watch for typos, watch for dialogue punctuation, make sure you submit something you are proud of.
CR: Is there anything about a story itself likely to turn you off on a manuscript, even if the mechanics are quite good?
RP: Nasty characters will turn me off. You can’t have a heroine who isn’t someone I want to know or a hero I want to get to know. There’s nothing wrong with writing a strong female character but sometimes I see heroines who are written quite bitchy and authors think that’s fun to read. Its not.
CR: What’s the best and worst part of your editing job?
RP: Always the worst part is having to write that rejection letter. We hate having to reject a writer. Its even worse when the writer is really not at all ready – way too inexperienced. Its hard to tell a writer who has worked hard on a manuscript that you really have a long way to go to publication. Its not so bad when I can send a “you’re almost there” rejection – usually this is a revise and resubmit invitation. The best part of my personal job is when I get to meet writers face to face. I love being at a conference and getting to spend time with writers and talk to them about their writing.
CR: Before acquisition, how important is a writer’s platform to you? To publishing houses?
RP: To me personally, not at all. This whole “platform” “branding” all these new buzz words weren’t around when I started and don’t mean a lot to me now. The bottom line is your manuscript has to be ready for publication and contract. If it isn’t, all the branding in the world isn’t going to sell it.
CR: Can you offer some encouraging words of advice to aspiring authors who haven’t received their first contract yet?
RP: The quote that always comes to mind is this: “the only guarantee that you won’t get published is if you stop writing”. Keep at it, keep reading, keep studying. LISTEN to what an editor says when she rejects you. If you get rejected because of your lack of good dialogue, then study dialogue. If you are really bad at punctuation, get a couple books and study. Use the rejections and the time before publication to hone your craft.
CR: What is on your wish list of story types to acquire?
RP: I don’t really have anything in particular on my personal wish list.
CR: Thanks for agreeing to do a pitch contest today! What genres, subgenres, and/or word counts are you open to considering at this time?
RP: We are open to everything at this time except for memoirs, poetry, biographies,
ABOUT THE WILD ROSE PRESS
The Wild Rose Press opened in May 2006 as a romance only small press and epublishing company. Today the company is home to over 2700 active titles and has expanded beyond romance. Currently, TWRP accepts mainstream fiction including women’s fiction, historical fiction, murder/mystery/thrillers and erotica. The company publishes in both electronic and print. They accept short stories and full length novels.
TWRP believes that publishing is a team effort between editor, author, and publisher. Penders holds tight to that mission statement. She spends part of every day making sure her authors or “roses” as they are called are happy and well cared for.
Penders writing background includes everything from small town newspaper reporting to writing confessionals. She has several full length novels and short stories published under the pen name Roni Adams. She is also one of the authors in “Chicken Soup for the Soul; Alzheimer’s Edition”. Penders lives in Upstate New York with her husband of 30 years. They are the parents to three grown sons and are trying to adjust to the dreaded empty nest.
Authors are invited to submit the below for consideration. Also feel free to post general questions, but please do so in a separate post from your pitch submission. The contest will 3/27 6:00am EST to 3/30 11:59pm EST) – pitches submitted after this time will not be entered. Works being pitched must be completed and ready for submission.
Today’s pitch contest is open to everyone – members or non-members. But we invite non-members to consider joining our chapter so you don’t miss out on other exciting events and opportunities!
Please submit your pitch for Rhonda’s consideration in the following format.
- Author’s Name:
- Book Title:
- Finished Word Count:
- Maximum 200-word blurb:
- First 100 words of your story:
Submissions won’t be considered if they don’t meet the guidelines. Authors who Rhonda requests materials from will be announced within two weeks, so check back! And good luck!