I spent a lot of time this week on Market Research for Love Inspired Historicals. If you're interested in writing for LIH, read on. I'll share what I found.
My goal was to get a feel for where my interests and their needs intersect. I looked at every book published in the line by examining the title, the back cover copy, the time period and geographical setting, as well as character types and character issues.
As a relatively new, and newly expanded line, only 166 books have been published. Compare that to Harlequin Historicals, where almost 800 books have been published over the years.
LIH claims to be open to any time period, any place, up to 1950 however, not surprisingly, the Regency and the West, post-Civil war until 1880, are the most strongly represented. The same holds true for Harlequin Historicals, although the series has a markedly different flavor.
I was excited to see a good number of books set between 1890-1945, including a number of Depression Era books (Linda Ford), and a couple of books set during World War II (Renee Ryan). Hopefully, there’s a growing interest in the events that happened during these years. I certainly find them interesting. Americana, World War I, Newport Heiresses ...
There is very little interest in this line in areas other than America and England, and in times prior to the French Revolution.
The French Revolution is represented by one only book, which disappoints me, because it's a place and time that I have researched extensively and indeed, have a 650+page manuscript sitting in a drawer, ripe for re-envisioning and re-slanting.
Naomi Rawlings, who wrote Sanctuary for a Lady, wrote the only French Revolution book for the line. It was her debut novel. She has since been contracted by Love Inspired Historicals to write another book—but not a sequel to her first book. Regrettably, I suspect it wasn’t as popular with readers as many people had hoped, and so the plug got pulled for a sequel. [If Naomi reads this, she can set me straight if I'm wrong.] I certainly thought it was a wonderful book.
Because the line is inspirational, without sensuality, the female characters tend to be school marms, librarians, governesses, nurses, doctors, ranchers, abolitionists, and suffragists. It’s true that these were largely the only options open to women in earlier times, however (by contrast) Harlequin Historicals focuses on women who are, across the board, more free spirited and less constrained by deeply held religious values. Thus you get far more sensuality, far more emphasis on the art of seduction.
Not surprisingly, Love Inspired is more popular with conservative, religious types, although it is not a religious press such as Barbour, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, Waterbrook, Tyndale, and Abingdon. The faith thread is present in all Love Inspired Historicals, but it is, by contrast, a light one.
The male characters in Love Inspired Historicals are preachers, doctors, cowboys, teachers, sheriffs, farmers, and military men returned broken from war. Otherwise known as Beta males. No rakes, no warriors or ruthless men who are out for conquest, and very few characters of either sex who are motivated by revenge.
In most cases, either the heroine or the hero is a widow or widower and already a parent. Or they are charged with taking care of orphans, nieces or nephews. A small town or community feel is important.
I just need to work out a series strategy that illuminates a time and place I find interesting, which isn’t already over-represented, and which would also be popular in readers’ imaginations.
If you're interested in writing for LIH, what have you found in your Market Research? Anything else? Sharing is encouraged and very welcome. Thank you.