Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dorchester Smooch Unauthorized, Unofficial FAQ

As I mentioned last week, I got great response from my agent FAQ. So I figure why not do some editor FAQs as well? So today I'm going to write about Smooch, Dorchester's Young Adult line. I have a two book deal with them. The first book, Sk8er Boy, is coming out in November of this year. The second, Camelot.com, is being released in 2006.

So without further ado, here's Marianne's unofficial, unauthorized Dorchester Smooch FAQ:

What age range does Smooch target?
No racy Gossip Girl type books here. Smooch is for teens and tweens, ages 12-16. And that means keeping them very clean in content and language. Think rated PG.

What is the word count?
Word count is approximately 45,000 words, which is about 180-200 pages in courier double space.

How many books do they release a month?
One at the moment, though that's always subject to change.

What kind of YA stories is Smooch looking for?
They are seeking the kind of story that deals with issues teen girls are interested in. Stuff like boys, family, school, boys, friends, boys. Many of the Smooch books have romances in them, but not all. Most of them are lighthearted and funny - often laugh out loud funny. Think chick lit for teens. They say on their website they're only looking for contemporaries and modern day paranormals. Kate did buy my Smooch time travel, but only after I made sure that a good portion of the story takes place in a modern day high school. So this is not the place (at least for now) for you to bring your historical manuscripts.

What are some good Smooch authors to read to get a feel for the line?
Smooch has some great authors in their backlist. Try Katie Maxwell, Jax Abbott, Stephie Davis, Naomi Nash and Amy Kaye for starters. You can find a complete list of Smooch authors on their website.

How do I submit to Smooch?
If you're unagented, submit a query letter and/or 3 chapters/synopsis to Dorchester, care of Kate Seaver. They don't want complete manuscripts unless requested, just FYI. Complete guidelines for submission are on the Smooch website. (Link is at bottom left corner.) My suggestion would be to try to get a YA friendly agent first, if you can. For example, Nadia Cornier at Creative Media Agency. (She does my YA deals.) Or Michelle Grajkowski from Three Seas.

I submitted my partial to Smocoh "X" months ago? When do you think I'll hear back?
The website states a 6-8 month response rate, but if you're unagented, it's possible your wait will be longer. In addition to single handedly running the Smooch line, Kate also works on the Making It chick lit line as well as regular Love Spell and Leisure Dorchester books. So she's a busy editor! :-)

Anything else?
Smooch books are meant to be fun diversions for teens and tweens who already have to deal with tons of stressful situations in everyday life. They're not "Lesson" books. Don't try to preach to your readers or insist they learn some moral at the end of the story. These books are for fun! And don't ever talk down to your readers. Teens are smart and savvy and they deserve respect. They can smell an adult talking down to them a mile away. And while pop culture references and slang are cool, don't go overboard. After all, if your book is published a year after you write it, you may be dating your references. Katie Maxwell makes up her own slang in her Smooch books which is a pretty good idea.

Okay that's all I have time for today. Hope this was informative. If you have any other questions, feel free to post 'em in the comments section.


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