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’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?