Sunday, June 3, 2012

Analyzing My Rejection: "Before the Darkness" not a Romance?

I had submitted my MM, post-apocalyptic erotic romance, Before the Darkness, (the first book of the Refuge Inc. series) to a couple of romance e-publishers. Unfortunately, they both passed. However, I did get a "revise & resubmit" offer from one of the publishers who had a lot of good things to say about the story in spite of the rejection.

(Publisher kept unidentified for privacy)
First the positives:

  • "The story is imaginative and detailed…"
  • "Your story has some really good parts, and we feel the post-apocalyptic aspects are believable, the creepy parts are creepy, and there's an overall dark feel to the whole piece that came through."

Now the negatives:

  • "We do feel it has strong potential, however the characters need some work to make them more likable. Elliott seems to fall too fast for Adam, a man he's just met in a ruined landscape where survival ought to be the first thing on his mind. And the badgering and belittling about the former relationship with a woman throughout the book wears somewhat thin by the end."

Non romance issues:

  • "We feel it is more of a post-disaster story with romantic elements than a true romance."
  • "The romance needs to be ramped up quite a bit to make it more of a focus of the story." Something required in romances.
  • "Additionally, the ending is not quite a “happily ever after” (HEA) nor quite a “happy for now” (HFN)." Something required in romances.
  • "There is also an issue of unsafe sex, i.e. no condom use …" Something required in romances.

After receiving this wonderfully personal and useful bit of feedback from the editor (which I appreciate tremendously because authors rarely get personal feedback from publishers, if at all), I realized . . . the story is NOT a romance! It is exactly what they described it as . . . a post-disaster story with romantic elements!

And there's nothing wrong with that.

I was invited to revise the story and submit it again for reconsideration; however, I'm not sure I want to make it into something it's not. It's not a romance, so maybe I shouldn't make it into one. Maybe I shouldn't push it to romance publishers, or ramp up the romance. Maybe romance shouldn't be the focus of the story.
Maybe, after tweaking the charcters' inner conflict, the story will be good enough to engage and entertain the way it is.


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