Interview with Lynsay Sands (2005)
Who is your publisher, and what have you written?
Dorchester Publishing , Leisure Lovespell books, Kensington Publishing, Avon Harpercollins,
The Deed, The Key, The Switch, Sweet Revenge, Always, Lady Pirate, Bliss, The Reluctant Reformer
What She Wants, The Chase, Contemporary, The Loving Daylights,
The Argeneau Vampire Series
Single White Vampire, Love Bites,Tall, Dark & Hungry
Five Gold Rings, Mistletoe & Magic, Wish List, A Mother's Way, His Immortal Embrace, The Eternal Highlander
What is your upcoming or current novel about?
I have two coming out one right after the other.
The Perfect Wife comes out in October and is a historical.
A Quick Bite comes out in November and is the next in the Argeneau series of vampires.
When did you get your first "Yes" and how long did it take you? Did you
get your first story published after trying for a while, or did you write many novels first?
My first book was The Deed, it was bought in 1996 and published in 1997. Well, actually it wasn’t my first novel I sent in, it was my second. The first novel I sent in was written when I was 19. When it came back, I put writing aside for a while to concentrate on University, then worked for a while before writing The Deed. I sent a query letter and the first three chapters of The Deed to six publishers. Two asked to read the rest of the book and then Dorchester bought it.
Your range of themes is interesting, from vampires to historical. You
also have a good sense of humor. What inspired these various themes,
and do you believe that your different take on romance is part of the
reason for your success?
I started with historical, it was my first love. I didn’t venture out until my editor asked me to do a contemporary for a spy spoof series he wanted to do. The Loving Daylights came out of that and I enjoyed writing it. Then some friends and I were talking about doing an anthology together on vamps. Mine, of course, would be humorous vamps since humor was what I was known for. Well, I tossed out a couple of ideas during that conversation, and while we never did the anthology together, the ideas stuck and kept floating around my head until I started to write them down. That was the start of the Argeneua series.
As for my success…I didn’t realize I had a different take on romance, lol. I just think people, and life in general, are funny and that tends to come through in my writing.
What happens upon the first sale of a novel?
A whole lot of nothing at first. It takes absolutely forever for things to happen, or at least that’s how it seemed at the time. I wrote The Deed and sent it to those six publishers in 1995. It took at least six months to hear back on all those initial queries which seemed like a life time to me. After sending out the full manuscripts for the two who requested them, it took another six months to find out Dorchester wanted to buy it. I was sent the proofs probably three to six months later, then the cover flats a month or two before the book came out, then it was published.
At first, it seemed like a whole lot of waiting is all that happened. Some have different experiences, of course, but that’s how mine went.
What is your advice to aspiring authors concerning the craft of writing,
a writer's life or the romance genre?
Regarding the craft itself, if you aren’t laughing, it isn’t funny. If you aren’t crying, the reader won’t. If it isn’t touching you, it won’t touch the reader. You do have to be emotionally involved in the writing for the reader to become emotionally involved.
A writer’s life? Hmmm. Expect long long hours, especially at deadline time. When I’m on deadline, sleep is a luxury. And those long hours are spent alone with just you and your characters.
What should aspiring authors know about the publishing industry (besides
everything)? Is there something important in particular that you have
That it’s a business. That sounds obvious and simplistic, but its easy to forget it when your writing is involved. They’re our stories and are so personal, but to the publisher it’s a product.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Yes, don’t write for money. If you don’t love it, don’t do it, because the money is really bad at first, and sometimes never gets better. The advance on a first book is often $2,000 or less and you don’t get royalties (if you earn royalties) for usually a year or more after the book is published. Most writers make under ten thousand dollars a year from their writing and never get above that. The National Writers Union says only 15% of working writers (this is not just novel writers but free lance writers etc.) make more than $30,000 annually. Do not write for money.
However, if the long hours and lack of money don’t worry you, then this is the business for you <G>. Go get yourself a copy of The Writer’s Market for this year. It’s a large, thick book put out yearly that tells you how to write queries, who accepts unagented manuscripts, etc. And it has loads of tips that I found helpful before I sent out The Deed
Finally, I have to ask, in your opinion how many rejections should a
writer receive before he or she begins to focus on the next manuscript?
That's hard to say. I guess it depends on how much you believe in the story. As well as how you’re going about sending it out. If you’re unpublished and sending a full unsolicited manuscript in to a publishers, it lands on the slush pile. I’ve heard that they get around 2000 or more a year. That’s a lot of books to go through for editors who are often already over-worked. I suspect most of them are never read, or they pick it up, read the first couple of lines and if it doesn’t catch their attention immediately, put it aside and pick up the next. So, you’re best to send a query, so that your work is requested and avoids the slush pile. Also, try to make sure you’re opening is an attention grabber.
Back to the point, if you're sending stories that land in slush piles, then ignore the rejections that are standard letters. It might not have been read. If it’s actually been read, the editor will usually write at least a couple of lines of suggestions of ways to make it better. Listen to those, but don’t give up on the story until you're comfortable doing so.
However, just because you have one book out their doing the circuit, don't stop writing other books or sending them out too. The more you have on the hob, the better your chances, right?.
Getting an agent can be hard, most prefer a writer to be published before taking them on. I had three books out and a contract for three more before I got my first one, so hang in there and just keep at it.
Aspiring author's note:
(I am currently trying to win an agent for my Regency-set historical,
and I have a few full-length manuscripts that I have written over the
course of a decade and don't know when I should start earnestly seeking
representation for my next. I am also in the process of writing my next
Lynsay Sands is a prolific bestselling author who has many intriguing
titles out. I have recently read her historical romance entitled Bliss.
It was greatly entertaining. If you would appreciate a great love story
with the chance to laugh now and again, this story would be a good one
to read. Her other titles pique my curiosity. I will be picking up
more books by this talented storyteller. She writes the Argeneau
Series, short stories in anthologies, contemporary and historical
novels. Look for her name in the bookstore! Lynsay loves to hear from
her fans. Tell her what you think of her stories, and drop me a note
too! Find a link to her website on my links page. We could discuss her
work and Mary Reed McCall's as well.
My sister, head of circulation at her library, tells me that romance
fans regularly check out twenty or so romances at one time. They fly
off the shelves. The genre is strong. I thank authors such as Mary
Reed McCall and Lynsay Sands who continuously provide us with quality
work for the great success of the genre. I would like to thank you,
Lynsay Sands, for this interview. It was very considerate to do this
for an unknown author.