Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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July 29, 2011

Guest Post: Straight from Sue Grimshaw’s computer . . .

This week’s Sensational Summer Friday guest post is from Sue Grimshaw!

Sue was the romance book buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks stores for more than a decade. As of April this year, Sue is Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Category Specialist & Editor At Large.

A highly sought after expert in her field, Sue has consulted with publishers for many years. Over the last decade, she has been an honored speaker for romance writers and readers at numerous conferences and workshops. You might remember her as the host of the “Borders True Romance” program where she interviewed the world’s most accomplished Romance writers. 

Bonus: Click here to see Sue in action during her fabulous interview with Nora Roberts

At BBD, Sue is working primarily with the digital end of the business thus learning how to ride the waves of the changes that are ongoing of late in the romance industry. Below is a summary, in her own words, of her amazing journey.

Life’s Funny Changes . . .by Sue Grimshaw 

First of all, I must thank Laura Drake for offering me some 'post' time with you all.  As we emailed back and forth about a topic, we decided you all might be interested in hearing about my 'Life's Funny Change,' from bookseller to editor!  So here it goes . . .

January 2011, I received a call from a publisher (name withheld so as not to incriminate anyone), asking how I was, would I be ok and so forth.  I thought, wow, how kind of them to contact me to see how I was holding up (because as far as I knew things were still fine at Borders).  I thought they must be misinformed because we were doing great – ordering books, shipping and selling them. 

That afternoon, we had a town hall meeting within our organization, announcing that we were unable to pay our bills, however, employees will be paid.  Oh My.  That is when I first realized that bankruptcy was indeed looming.

So, now I’m thinking – oh crap!  I should have been more aggressive and discussed opportunities with said publisher (hindsight and all that).

The next day, another publisher called, asking if I’d be interesting in submitting a proposal for a job.  I said, YES.

February 13th, evening  – after 3 weeks, I was still working on my proposal for said publisher. I had also been working on my resume, getting it up to snuff.  Sadly, however, I was working myself into a tizzy worrying about where I’d go, what I’d do, etc. 

That evening, my husband and I talked about my options. I said, “Why can’t someone hire me to work on the internet, managing their website, doing their social media, and also be willing to train me to acquire and edit books?” 

Of course, Bill told me to get my head out of the clouds and we continued to discuss other options.

February 16th, 2011, bankruptcy was announced . . . statistics show that only 10% ever make it out of that nasty hole, so I knew it was time to make a job change.  I was still working on my resume and proposal and was, unfortunately, behind schedule. 

I was trying really hard to compile my talents, and thinking I had little to offer:

  • I sell books to readers
  • I promote them on a blog site and do videos
  • I travel and speak to authors
  • I work with publishers to suggest authors for their lists, etc. 

On top of it all, the market sucked, book retailers were downsizing and digital retailers wanted someone with an HTML background . . . and, I’m not able to relocate. 

 The ‘tizzy’ was getting the best of me.

February 17th: call from NYC publisher with a ‘job offer’ — the ‘job offer.’  I swear, to this day, I think there was a microphone in our living room, because when Scott (the publisher) called me and told me about the job available at BBD, it was nothing less than what my husband and I had just talked about that Sunday night . . .blessed?  Yes.

Well, you know the rest.  I did have other wonderful offers, but bottom line for me was that I really wanted to become an editor – that was the KEY selling point.

So now, here I am, Category Specialist & Editor At Large, for Ballantine Bantam Dell.  I work from home in Michigan and travel to NYC monthly.  I continue to travel and speak at various RWA chapter groups, and reader groups too.  Life is busy, fun and I’m learning soooooooooooooooooooo much!

I totally loved my job as a bookseller – the years I spent with Borders were the best.  But life has its funny changes and my new role at BBD could not be any better.  I work for an amazing company that has an amazing team that is willing to work together and support one another.  Our goal is to be the best, all of us, not just any one person, we are a team and that ROCKS for me.

I’ve had just 4 months under my belt at BBD, so things are still new.  Our Romance At Random website launched on 6/28 with the introduction of our new LOVESWEPT line.

LOVESWEPT will be re-launching 8 titles in August, with new titles monthly. Our brand new title, releasing in November, is BECAUSE OF YOU by Jessica Scott  (the first book in her COMING HOME SERIES). 

I’m working with our editing team now on line edits – those are interesting . . . BBD is all about quality, so I am getting the best training around.  There is a lot to learn about editing . . .  some of it is intuitive, some is opinion and some is craft.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. 

Elisabeth Barrett is another debut author in our LOVESWEPT line – her books publish in 2012.  And there are two more authors who are now accepting contracts, as our list continues to grow.


Why is Romance at Random exciting for writers?

The LOVESWEPT line is a digital first published imprint, with books ranging from 30K to 90K words, retailing from $2.99 to $4.99.  Like the LOVESWEPT’S of old, the imprint is author focused, meaning that our goal is to grow these authors into some of the new, big best sellers wihtin our print and digital lines.  We are also reviewing our LOVESWEPT backlist for reissue.  

I must say, we’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback from our industry —  everyone has a LOVESWEPT that they love and remember. These LS fans are as energized as we are to bring back the line, with old favorites and new authors.

Why is Romance at Random exciting for readers?

The Romance At Random website is a perfect opportunity for us to create a community of romance readers and exchange ideas about books, promotion, authors, and so on.  Every week, 5 randomly chosen commenter’s win a FREE book, winners are posted on Sundays.  I’ve noticed so many of my friends from the Borders True Romance site joining us at Romance At Random, which is extremely gratifying for me. 

We are working on all sorts of plans to generate excitement and traffic to the site, in order to offer our readers something unique and special, that they can’t get everywhere else.  Bottom line: Romance At Random is a romance community for all to come and enjoy.

Future plans are to attend ROMCON in Denver CO, August 5-9. I think reader events are the way to go – especially with the new digital frontier. Then it's on to New Zealand August 16!  I’m becoming the world traveler, LOL!

Well, you know the old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’  For me, there is no truer statement —  I’m proof positive that you can!   Who knew a bookseller could one day grow up to be an editor!

Thanks for having me at Writers In The Storm!  So, now you’ve heard my saga . . . do you have one of your own? One of life’s funny changes?

Happy Romance!

Sue Grimshaw ∙ Category Specialist & Editor at Large∙ Random House Publishing Group

0 comments on “Guest Post: Straight from Sue Grimshaw’s computer . . .”

  1. Thank you Stacy - you were up early this AM 🙂 I'm hoping all the best to my former Borders colleagues as well, I hope they find their dreams during the recent transition with Borders - so sad to see that it did indeed come to bankruptcy.

  2. Welcome, Sue. It's so nice to meet you here at WITS. Aren't they a great group?
    I enjoyed reading about your metamorphosis from book buyer to book editor. You are indeed blessed, but I'm quite sure you earned that job offer from BBD. It's good to know you're bringing back the Loveswept line in digital format. It was such a popular line.

    Do you know if BBD will be starting any digital line for longer books, particularly historicals? I have one book self-pubbed on Amazon and B&N that's well over the 90 K limit for loveswept. It's a paranormal western, the first in a trilogy titled Texas Druids. The first volume, Darlin' Druid, has drawn excellent reviews, and I'm now wondering if I should look for a publisher.

    I'd love to tell you about my own odyssey from fashion illustrator to art instructor, to romance author, but it would take up way too much space here. If you should want to learn more about me, please visit my home page (below.) Congrats and best wishes with your wonderful new job!

    Lyn Horner

    1. Hi Lyn -- great to be here at WITS 🙂 We're looking for everything 🙂 However, right now trying to stay more mainstream, not as niche so as to appeal to the bulk of the romance readers --- in a few months however, I see that direction broadening -- thanks for your comment & yes, lets keep in touch!

      1. Sue,
        Sounds good. If you are willing, please send your email address to: texasdruids@hotmail.com . That way it will be easier to keep in touch as you say. If you can't give out your addy, I understand. You can always contact me through the ladies here on WITS, particularly Sharla Rae. She and I are friends and critique partners. BTW she has a fantastic book in need of a home. Called How to Tame a Timberman, it may fall within your word count guidelines. It's a wonderful story filled with Shar's trademark humor and romance. It's also the first volume in a planned series.

  3. Hi Sue!

    I loved the romance blog on the Borders site, and followed it religiously when you were there. (Okay, so maybe I fantasized about appearing on it. And having you interview me.)

    The very best of luck in your new endeavors!

  4. Done Lyn -- hotmail.com has it now 🙂 we're actually looking at anything from 30k-90k for the LS line -- retailing $2.99 to $4.99 -- lots of opportunity

  5. Sue,

    We've known you at OCC for several years now and I had no idea about what a rollercoaster ride you'd been on. Kudos to you for not only making that lemonade but drinking it in an icy glass with a cute umbrella. 🙂

    I'm so excited about Romance at Random!

  6. Hi Sue!
    Thanks for sharing your story--very inspiring! I believe you never know where you might end up or what you might be doing. I loved following you at the Borders gig and think you are perfect for this new Editor hat! You know books. They couldn't have found anyone more supportive of authors, either. You're personal and easy to love wherever you go, which is why I've followed you, along with a zillion others. I've asked my agent to submit my latest Women's Fiction project to you--hope that's okay. Good luck with this new endeavor--even though you don't need it! Thanks for stopping!

  7. Just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for having me on the site -- your webmistress has my addy in case someone would like to get in touch -- all the best to you all & keep the faith!

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