Interview with Stacey Donovan Director Hallmark Publishing

hallmarkHi Stacey, and welcome to Reader’s Entertainment. As an avid Hallmark Movie Channel watcher, I can’t tell you how excited I am about Hallmark Publishing.

Oh, thank you so much! We’re so excited about the new venture!

First, how about a bit about you? What’s your background? Are you a writer? What were your other jobs before becoming a part of the Hallmark world?

I’ve worked for Hallmark for most of my career—ever since I got my MFA in creative writing. I did leave Hallmark once to be a creative manager in advertising, but I missed Hallmark and I came back! Before this job, I was a Master Writer at Hallmark, meaning I wrote kids’ books, gift books, greeting cards, and all kinds of things. I’ve also worked as an editorial director for Hallmark in the greeting card division.

I also got a couple of romance novels published under a pen name on the side. I have my first romance novel under my real name coming out with Hallmark Publishing in the fall – SUNRISE CABIN, releasing September 16!

What inspired Hallmark to start a publishing company?

I did! Well, I helped a lot, anyway. I pitched the idea of the business to the Hallmark Channel. As it turned out, they’d already thought about doing something like this, so it was good timing.

What types of books is Hallmark Publishing looking for?

We’re really looking for the same kinds of stories we make into movies on the channels. We know there’s a big audience for fun stories that leave you in a good mood. We’re looking for full-length novels: sweet romance and cozy mystery.

In romance what would make you say, ‘oh, I want this book?’

Oh, this is such a good question! I love a clear romantic conflict, and I love main characters who are genuinely good people, even if they have their issues. And I adore a sense of humor—not snark or sarcasm, but witty dialogue and amusing situations.

In mystery, what would make you say, ‘I really don’t know who did it?’ and want the book?

Another great question! A good mystery has really convincing red herrings and strong motivations for suspects. And the guilty person needs to be right under the reader’s nose the whole time.

Any specific things you’re looking for? Setting? Time periods?

We’re only doing contemporary stories for now, and we have a strong preference for U.S. settings (with the exception of make-believe kingdoms, if it’s a royal story.) If it’s a Christmas story, we want snow! I’m always looking for an element of escapism—whether it’s a small town, a beautiful countryside, a glamorous city, or a beautiful historic mansion.

Do you have a specific word count?

Right now, we’re looking for books between 65,000 and 85,000 words. We really don’t consider anything shorter.

Are you looking for series books?

Absolutely! For cozy mystery, it’s really a must, and we love romance series ideas, too.

Do all Hallmark books have to be ‘clean reads?’ GP versus PG, correct?

Yes, they all have to be G-rated! Family-friendly stories are our niche.

What defines ‘clean read’ for Hallmark?

No coarse language, no suggestive language, and no references to premarital sex, even as a backstory. We also steer clear of grim or disturbing subject matter.

Do you accept unagented submissions? Do you have an acceptance period?

We’re closing to unagented submissions after Labor Day, but we’ll be open to them in February 2019.

How can authors submit their manuscripts?

If you go to the Hallmark Publishing website, you can read the complete submission guidelines and use the email address at the bottom. Send us a query and attach the synopsis and a manuscript as separate Word documents.

How long before the author would receive a response?

It varies quite a bit – from 1 to 12 weeks. When we have something a long time, it’s often because it’s already made it through a first cut.

Are any of the book titles being made into Hallmark movies?

We expect many of the books to get adapted into movies, which is really exciting!

If authors have any additional questions, where should they address them to?

The quickest way is to ask me on Twitter! @Donovanesque . I like answering questions that way because if you have a question, chances are other people were wondering the same thing.

Thank you so much for being here today Stacey.

Thank you! It’s really a pleasure!

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