Friday, June 12, 2015

Writing for Love Inspired: An Insider’s View a Guest Post with Keli Gwyn

I'm excited to share with you, one of my very first writing world friends, Keli Gwyn. Keli is one of the sweetest ladies you could ever hope to meet and today she shares her insider view of writing for Love Inspired Historical. Leave a comment below to enter for your chance to win her release (out this month!) Family of Her Dreams. 

The ever-gracious Casey Herringshaw invited me to tell you about my experience writingfor Love Inspired. While I aim to presentthe benefits as well as the challenges, I must warn you that because I’m thrilled to be a Love Inspired Historical author, my bias is apt to show.

Since my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was a trade-length book with a CBA publisher and Family of Her Dreams is a mass-market series romance with Harlequin, I’ll be making comparisons. My goal isn’t to advocate one route to publication over another. Both result in getting God-honoring stories in readers’ hands.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Book Length

A LIH is 70-75K words. My Barbour book was 100K. The shorter length enables me to write more
stories in less time. There are limits, though. I can’t include secondary plot threads as I didin my debut novel. My focus must remain on the hero and heroine.

Some romance readers prefer shorter books. I’ve heard people refer to LI titles as “quick reads” that are just the thing when they want to relax but don’t have a huge block of time.

On a practical note, the smaller size saves money on postage. The boxes of books I buy for inventory and promotion don’t take up as much room in my garage either.

When it comes to entering a LI book in contests, length can be a factor. Some believe LI titles are at a disadvantage if there aren’t categories specifically for series romances, forcing them to compete against longer books. I disagree. A well-told story will rise to the top no matter the length. Case in point: Katy Lee’s LIS, Grave Danger, is a 2015 RITA finalist! Not only did Grave Danger compete with longer stories, but Katy’s book finaled in the Romantic Suspense category along with mainstream titles by well-known authors such as J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)!

Shelf Life

A LI title gets one month in the spotlight. My LIH will hit shelves in select Walmarts and Kmarts around June 2nd and be replaced when the July titles show up.

Because I’ve worn a path to the book section of my local Walmart, I’ve watched many books come and go. Guess what the average stay of a CBA title is?Yup. One month. When the new month’s titles are released, the previous month’s releases are returned to the publishers. A CBA title often stays on the shelves of B&N much longer, though.

When it comes to online booksellers, there’s little difference. Whilethe printed version of aLI titlewill have a limited life, the e-book version of my story will be available for years to come.Since my CBA book went out of print less than a year after its release, it’s possible print copies of my LIH will be available to booksellers longer than my debut novel was.

Editorial Input

I’ve been blessed with excellent editorial input at both houses. At Barbour I dealt with an associate editor, who was quick to answer my questions or forward them to someone who could. A fantastic freelance editor performed theedits on my story. I was able to interactdirectly with her.

At LI my primary point of contact is my awesome editor, Emily Rodmell. She’s available to answer questions I might have about my story, her revision notes, my book’s cover, etc. If I need to talk by phone in order to get clarification on Emily’s editorial feedback, she’ll schedule a call. And does she ever know her stuff! I eagerly await her revision notes and line edits.

Marketing& Promotion

From what I’ve seen, most CBA authors are expected to do a good deal of the promotion of their stories. It’s different when one reaches star status, but little fish like me swimming in a large sea are responsible for doing all we can to help our book make a splash.

LI appreciates anything an author does to help with promotion, but I can’t come close to having Harlequin’s reach. Their name is well known, although I do have to educate my friends unfamiliar with their Love Inspired lines.

Harlequin gets our books out there in a big way. The LI editorial team does a lot to spread the word. My fellow LI authors are great about promoting one another’s books, too, on social media and on two different LI author blogs I’m a member of.

• • •

There’s heaps more I could tell you about writing for LIH and why I’m delighted to be doing so, but I’ve pushed my word count already. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

About Keli...

Award-winning author Keli Gwyn, a native Californian, transports readers to the early days of the
Golden State. She and her husband live in the heart of California’s Gold Country. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, historical museums and other Gold Rush-era towns. Keli loves hearing from readers and invites you to visit her Victorian-style cyber home at, where you’ll find her contact information

Question for you:

Have you ever thought about writing for Love Inspired? Historical or any of their other lines? Leave
a comment answering the question, along with your email address (U.S. residents only eligible for giveaway) to enter to win Keli's novel Family of  Her Dreams


Jill Weatherholt said...

It's great to see you here, Keli! Thank you so much for the inside scoop on LI. My experience with them so far has been wonderful. I'm frantically trying to finish my book to meet the deadline for the blurb to book contest. Whatever happens in the end, it's been a fantastic journey so far. Congratulations on your book. By the way, I loved the video of you watching your book go on the shelf at Walmart. You were so cute!

Keli Gwyn said...

Jill, I wish you well as you complete your Blurb2Book manuscript. Kudos on making it to this stage. I look forward to the day we're LIH buddies.

Deanna Stevens said...

No, I'm not a writer but I certainly enjoy reading & reviewing some wonderful books.. Congratulations on your new book Keli :)

dkstevensne AToutlookDoTCo M

Keli Gwyn said...

Deanna, we writers love our readers and greatly appreciate those who take time to post reviews. Those reviews help us immensely. Thanks for all you do to support authors.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Thank you Keli. :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Keli,
I am in the middle of reading your book and am loving it! So happy you've found a new home for your stories! I also love writing for Harlequin LI and in fact I am sitting on an HQ Author panel tomorrow (with the lovely Sandra Orchard) as part of a writers conference in Toronto! Little nervous, but it should be fun!
Best of luck with your release!

Keli Gwyn said...

Sue, how neat that you and Sandra get to represent LI on a writers conference in Toronto. Will you get to tour the Harlequin offices there. It would be so cool to see where our covers are designed. I wish you all the best.

P.S. I'm glad you're enjoying Tess and Spencer's story.

Pepper Basham said...

This is so insightful and helpful as people try to understand the dynamics between the two!
Wow! I learned a lot.
And I'm SO EXCITED for you!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for sharing in my excitement, Pepper, and for your kind words.

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Glynis said...

Jill and I are in the same boat--almost literally :) I'm working on my manuscript for Blurb2Book as well and am having so much fun (except when I'm not!). The editors at Harlequin have been great, although this is my first book-length work and I have nothing else to compare it to.

And I saw that video of you as well, and spent a few minutes dreaming of the day I might do the same! Great post, Keli!

Keli Gwyn said...

Glynis, I'm glad you're having fun with your Blurb2Book manuscript--most of the time anyhow. I so get that. Some days the words flow, and I have a blast. Other days getting words on the screen is a challenge, and I push on through, knowing better days are coming.

I wish you well as you race toward your deadline. I look forward to the day we're LI buddies.

Rose Chandler Johnson said...

Keli, I appreciate how you compared and contrasted the two kinds of novels. Great information. I haven't thought about writing a love-inspired, but maybe I will consider that. And I'd love to stay in contact. Here's my email address:

Keli Gwyn said...

Rose, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found the post helpful.

If you do decide to write a story for one of the Love Inspired lines, I wish you well. I'm learning a lot about what goes into one. There's a lot more to it than my fifteen-year-old self realized. =)

Keli Gwyn said...

Rose, I forgot to say that I was fifteen when I first discovered the sweet Harlequin romances of the 1970s, devoured them by the stack and dreamed of writing a story like them. Here I am forty years later doing just that. =)

Gregg A. King said...

Nice post to read