Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Writer's Wednesday: Making the Move to single title

Best selling novelist Lori Foster discusses moving from category to single title.

I’m one of those people who likes a sure bet. I get comfortable, and I want to stay that way. Back when my category novels (Temptation, Duets, etc...) were doing pretty darned good, and I could get 5 or 6 book releases a year, I felt... settled. Happy. Back then, the process was that Harlequin gave me contracts, I wrote the books, done. Few if any revisions. Pretty decent sales record. Nice and easy!

You know, I’d spent so many years and so many books just getting sold (over 5 years and over 10 complete manuscript that were rejected by everyone) that the idea of facing rejection again on single titles didn’t appeal to me. At one point I gave it a halfhearted effort, but I didn’t get great feedback, and so I figured, heh, I’ll just stay where it’s all safe and secure and happy.
Then a funny thing happened. I got invited to write some novellas for Berkley. The Winston guys – who are now one of my most popular series. The first one was in an anthology titled “Hot Chocolate.”

I was pretty sneaky with that. I wrote that first novella in a way that (I hoped!) would have my editor anxious to read about the hero’s brothers. I do love writing brothers, as many of my various series will prove. So anyway, my then-agent told me that it didn’t work that way, that publishers didn’t do series in novellas. She didn’t want me to get my hopes up, and I understand why.
But... ta da! My Berkley editor called for another novella and loved the idea of me doing another Winston brother. And then she called again after that. I ended up with 3 of the 4 brothers published as novellas, Cole in “Hot Chocolate,” Chase in “Charmed,” and Mack in “Sinful.” That left only Zane Winston to be in a book.
And my editor wanted me to write him as a single title.
I remember it so well because she was in town for a conference, it was freezing outside, we were shivering in the back seat of a car going... somewhere, and she asked me to write him as a single title. I hedged. I told her I was comfortable where I was and didn’t want to be rejected again.
She insisted I should try. She told me I could even make it a shorter single title, like 90,000 words instead of the usual 100,000 plus. She reasoned that I was already writing 60,000 plus for category, so it wasn’t that much more.
So the point is, I sort of moved to single title very reluctantly with a little coercion.
But I did move.
I wrote “Wild,” which featured Zane Winston. And somewhere along the way in that book, Joe Winston showed up. He’s a rogue Winston cousin, the black sheep, the baddest of the bad...and for whatever reason, he resonated with readers – and with editors.
I went from reluctantly writing a single title to being in a fantastic, super-exciting bidding war between two publishers who both wanted Joe Winston’s story. It was surreal. And yeah, very, very fun! In fact, that “big break” still boggles my mind. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but luck definitely played a role.
And from there, I haven’t looked back. I LOVE writing single titles now. And best of all, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the very best, most enthusiastic editors in the business. I’ve loved them all, and count them as dear friends.

Last June, Harlequin reissued my first-ever book, a category from the Temptation line, titled “Impetuous,” as part of their 60th Anniversary “Famous First” program. And not long after that, I signed a 4 book contract to do single titles for Hqn.
I’m back where I started, but with single title novels instead of category. All I can say is that it’s been one heck of a ride!

You can find out more about the fabulous Lori Foster on her website.


  1. I know all about being in the comfort zone! Thanks for sharing your journey to being the single title success you are.

    Now I just have to get out of my comfy zone of not finishing things.

  2. Thanks for being with us today, Lori! It's hard to break out of the comfort zone - but it's certainly paid off for you!

  3. Thank you Biddy and Donna. I tell ya, at 50+ now, I'm all about comfort zones. LOL

    Hugs to all.


  4. Lori, we are SO glad you broke out of your comfort zone! Having read your 50+ books, we're definitely the ones who benefit!


  5. Lori --
    Thank you for this and for being here today. It is really inspiring.


  6. Thanks Kay and Michelle.

    Today I'm off in the RV trying to get more writing done. It's a BEAUTIFUL day here at the park, near the lake.



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