The Romantic Novelists’ Association has just published its second anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply. Natalie asks guest Sue Moorcroft to explain how the process worked.
How long was it from inception to publication of Truly, Madly, Deeply and can you tell us a bit about your ‘journey’?
I think it was about two years. I saw Kimberley Young, who was then working for Harlequin, the publishers of the first anthology, Loves Me, Loves Me Not. Kim asked if I’d be interested in editing another and as I was off the Romantic Novelists’ Association committee at the time, I said yes, if the committee members were in favour. They were in favour. I pretty much had to go back on the committee in order to do a good job, and somehow I ended up accepting an invitation to stand for vice chair.
The contributors have been as co-operative as their various careers and personal lives allow but getting the contracts worked out was a mammoth task. Not only had Harlequin’s contract changed since Loves Me, Loves Me Not, but things had developed in the digital world. These developments allow for greater creativity in the sales arena but an even greater number of potential pitfalls.
Did you ask people individually to participate or did you choose the stories from a wider range of submissions?
To actually get the stories together for Truly, Madly, Deeply was simple. Harlequin gave me a wish list of writers and I approached those people with a request to contribute. About two-thirds said yes. Then I put out a call for general submissions in the RNA’s magazine, Romance Matters, and received about 90 stories, the vast majority of which were excellent. It was a tough job to choose amongst those! But I sent a longlist to Harlequin and they decided on the final cut, which was great because then there was no question of my having played favourites.
I have so many friends and even a relative amongst those who submitted, that I was very glad that the line-up was taken out of my hands.
Truthfully, it’s not hard to get enough fantastic stories to fill an anthology if you have the RNA members to dip in to.
This isn’t the first anthology published by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Have you been involved in the past and how did this experience differ from the previous one?
As mentioned, we put out Loves Me, Loves Me Not in 2010 as part of the RNA’s Golden Anniversary celebrations, and I was its editor. In the intervening period – which didn’t really seem that long! – there had been many changes in personnel, a change of contract, and a change in approach in terms of marketing. What hadn’t changed was the goodwill from all concerned, the huge pool of great stories to choose from and the satisfaction in a job well done.
Another thing that has stayed the same, and gives me great pleasure, is that the stories come from right across the romantic fiction genre and there are debut writers in there along with the household names.
As the dust settles (if it ever does as far as you’re concerned) what is next on your agenda?
The book is now out and the promotional duties will ramp up as Mother’s Day approaches. I facilitate those, in that Harlequin ask for writers to go on panels or write guest posts and I act as intermediary and get all the ducks in a row. That sort of request will probably continue for the next few months on an occasional basis.
So far as the RNA is concerned, I will continue to oversee the anthology along with my vice chair duties. I presently also have an overseeing role for Romance Matters, but I believe that that will change.
In my own career, I have just got a manuscript in and expect my report and request for substantive edits around 21 March. While I’m waiting for that I’m catching up on columns, students, appraisals, and planning a Christmas novella. A little inconveniently, I have a novel in my mind that would like to be written before the novella. Unfortunately, the novella has to come first!
Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Is this Love? was nominated for the Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. She received three nominations at the Festival of Romance 2012, and is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner. She’s vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies, published by Harlequin.
Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a competition judge and creative writing tutor.
Thank you for taking the time to join us today, Sue. I knew you were a busy lady but… phew!!