In Which Jill Goes Out Of Her Way To Raise Our Blood Pressure, Or You Too Can Write A Book In Three Days

April 25th, 2006 · 15 Comments
by Booksquare

You know how the ones you love will push your buttons with little or no effort? That describes Jill Monroe to a “T”. She can, with a single email, get us worked up. By, oh, forwarding us link to “The Magic Formula: How To Plan, Write, Sell, and Promote Your Romance Fiction Novel”.

No joke. Just three days of writing and you’ll have a publishable novel.

We’re not big on the swearing, but, honestly, bullshit.

Talent, apparently, isn’t critical. It’s all formula, baby. And for $197, you can get the template that will turn your idea into publishing gold. Uh huh.

Let us, for the moment, ignore the fact that the “letter” from Tina Adams, the “Promotion Specialist” (we are not entirely convinced that, even after years of seeing her name pop up in relation to various ventures, she is a real person) is your basic, straight-on marketing malarkey. In fact, it’s the kind of letter that someone who has paid for a direct mail marketing course would write, down to the excessive ellipses (which apparently sell customers like no other punctuation can). That’s beside the point. Let’s focus on the implicit promise:

P.S. Just imagine…a glossy cover…fame…fortune…and the prestige of (finally!) being a published, best-selling romance author…Don’t miss out on your dream of becoming a published romance author. Demand your copy of THE MAGIC FORMULA today.

What really gets us agitated is the fact that innocent, well-meaning-but-naive wanna-be writers are going to see this pitch and believe you can a) write a novel in three days, b) see your name on a “glossy” cover, and/or c) fill in the blanks and have a decent story. This is selling a dream, and people so want to believe the writing game is easy. This stuff only happens in fiction. Real life? Not so much.

Now Adams states in her letter that she’s a published author, but, of course, does not provide her credits. That alone would make us suspicious if we weren’t already. And the authors she cites in her “letter” aren’t, with all due respect to them, what we’d call shining examples of publishing success. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that the major authors she cites in her letter are not aware of their names being used. And name-checks are cheap.

Before she developed her formula, Adams lamented

Talk about frustrated…I was! I desperately wanted to write my romance novel and get it published, but dang it! Why was it so hard for me, when, apparently, it was so easy for all these published authors I was meeting and talking to? Maybe I was just too demanding. Maybe what I was looking for wasn’t really a “guide” so much as a “fill-in-the-blanks template” that I could use any time, for any romance novel I wanted to write, and it would WORK.

People, despite what those-who-are-clueless say, there is no formula in romance. Truly. If that were the case, then anyone could do it. And that has been proven false far too often. There is one requirement in romance, just one — a reasonably happy ending (here are excellent romance novels with bittersweet endings, and nothing is written in stone).

You cannot write a novel by following a template. You cannot write a decent novel in three days, no matter how much coffee you pound. And (this is almost a guarantee) anything you produce following the “template” will not pass muster with a real publisher.

Adams notes that romance writing is a highly competitive business (which is why you need to send her cash right away). Hello? Do you honestly think a three-day marathon is going to get you in front of an editor? But if you think it works, we remind you:

For the next 10-days ONLY, you can get “The Magic Formula” home study course for a mere $197, plus $12.95 shipping and handling. After that, the price will double every couple of months or so. Why? Because the competition is already incredibly fierce in this field.

As more aspiring romance writers get their hands on this information, more saleable romance manuscripts will reach the hands of editors who are in a position to publish them, and the competition will more than double. In order to help slow the inevitable, to help keep competition down, I’ll raise the price of this course.

We can only apologize to all the poor, overworked editors out there.

Far be it for us to tell anyone what to do (yeah, that was a joke), but we know a lot of romance authors who are incredibly talented and who have spent years honing their craft. Sure, there are some who should be published, but haven’t found the right editor/agent/lucky mix. That’s life.

Talent is rare. Hard work is hard. Ideas aren’t stories. There are easy ways to becoming a published author without actually becoming a writer (and there were air quotes around published). Ill-informed self-publication. Fly-by-night print-on-demand publishers. Indiscriminate e-publishers. A little research will separate the real deal from the, oh, not-so-real deals. Go with the real deal.

Three days isn’t enough to write a serious novel, and if you think romance novels aren’t serious novels, well, try to write and publish one. Seriously. Write your best damn romance in three days and sell it to a legitimate publisher (print or electronic). And then come back, and, if you can prove to us that you wrote it in three days, we might take back some of the things we’ve said here. If you believe otherwise, you’re going to be hurt in a big way. Also out almost $200 bucks, unless you’re fast enough to take advantage of the money-back guarantee.

You want to write a romance novel? Any novel? Learn your craft, develop your voice, tell a good story. If you need to buy books or take courses, do so, but all the classes and “how to” books in the world won’t give you the things you need to succeed: talent and perseverance. Anyone telling you that you can follow a template?

You were warned.

P.S. – Jill? We made it through this post without even mentioning the “ideas” crap. You owe us a blue drink in Atlanta.

  • Write A Romance (Note: We don’t endorse this. You’re on your own.)
  • File Under: The Business of Publishing

    15 responses so far ↓

    • SusanGable // Apr 26, 2006 at 6:59 am

      OMG. The saddest thing is, there will be people out there who would buy that “product.” Sadder yet, she might make more money selling that “course” than some people do selling a romance novel.

      Amazing how it took her 20 years to write a “saleable” novel, which was published in August of 2005, and yet, she doesn’t mention who published that novel. Could it be that her publisher was less than auspicious? Did the book get nominated for any awards? Make any best-selling lists? How well did it sell?

      She’s preying on those who think that for years, the published have known a “great secret,” the “secret handshake” that we refuse to pass on because we don’t want the competition.

      Look, I’ll give you the “secret” and I won’t charge for it. Hard work. Learn your craft. Write a good book. Polish it. Be in the right place at the right time. Keep your butt in the chair and write.

      People don’t want to believe that’s the secret because it involves both hard work and a smidgeon of luck as well.

    • Diana Hunter // Apr 26, 2006 at 7:14 am

      There ARE formulas for category romances (Harlequin leaps to mind, but there are dozens). Whether or not you consider those good literature is another point entirely…and probably another blog entry in itself.

      That said, all other points you make are right on the money. You’d be amazed how many people I meet who say, “Oh? You’re published? I’ve got a great novel that maybe you could help me with. Written down? No, it’s not written yet, but it’s in my head…”

      There’s only one path to publishing: WRITE something. Without it, you ain’t got a prayer. Only then can you begin the process of finding someone to put your work out there for the masses to read.

    • David Thayer // Apr 26, 2006 at 9:07 am

      On the plus side this product seems to reverse male pattern baldness. This is not scientific but writing a romance novel in 3 days might change my life, but 12.95 for shipping? I balk at that.

    • KathyF // Apr 26, 2006 at 10:39 am

      If there really is a formula for writing Harlequins, I know an awful lot of people who are unable to follow formulas.

    • Jill Monroe // Apr 26, 2006 at 1:14 pm

      Cool, Diana – can you tell me what the formula is, because I’m about three days away from my next deadline with Harlequin.

    • Bill Peschel // Apr 26, 2006 at 2:01 pm

      I always thought the formula was simple:

      1. Characters fall in love
      2. But something keeps them from reaching their happy ending
      3. Until the end of the book

      See? Simple. All you need to do is fill in the words.

      You owe me $197. I’ll even throw in the shipping for free.

    • Tina Adams // Apr 26, 2006 at 2:21 pm

      I’m Tina Adams. You’ve never met me, but I can assure you, I am a “real” person. I have too many kids not to be. 🙂 I found this thread through my statistics program for my website

      I am a published romance novelist. The title of my book is REDEMPTION, written under the pen name Morgan Leshay, ISBN 0-9754533-8-6.

      It is available from LBF Books,,, Chapters, and Tower Records as well as directly from the publisher ( Your local bookstore, if they don’t have it on their shelves, can special order it for you if you’d like.

      There are reviews of the book posted at, and also on Morgan’s website ( if you’re interested in what people are saying about it. You can double-check the reviews by going to the sites of those who reviewed it.

      Thank you.

    • Kirsten // Apr 26, 2006 at 5:53 pm

      omg, this is hilarious!

      She should team up with that outfit that automates query letters . . .

    • Cynthia // Apr 26, 2006 at 6:05 pm

      Tina, my hat is off to you for publishing your novel but please–you wrote an approximately 90,000 word book in three days? By your own admission, you were writing 18 hours a day so were pouring out about 1666 words per hour–and this is after not having done a book before.

      I’ve very willing to believe that you are talented and that you did indeed write this book. I’m even willing to believe that you plotted it out and wrote a good potion, maybe 10-20% of it during a 3-day marathon.

      But a whole book? And if this is so easy, why aren’t there more?


    • Ann Jacobs // Apr 26, 2006 at 6:07 pm

      Hilarious is right! It’s also sad, because If I don’t miss my guess, Ms. Adams will make more money selling her “formula” at $197 a pop than she ever will, selling a nonerotic romance book e-published with a publisher not recognized by Romance Writers of America. Fame and fortune? How can she promise this to her customers when she obviously hasn’t acquired it for herself?

      You see, there’s a fool born every minute, in the words of the late P. T. Barnum. And hope reigns in the heart of every unpublished author that someday they’ll find that magic formula and sell their book. I’m sure at least two or three will succumb to Ms. Adams’ hype and shell out their hard-earned money to get the “inside secrets” of how to write and sell romance novels. They’d be better off to WRITE, hone their craft and develop a voice that will make them stand out from the herd of wannabes.

    • Tawny // Apr 26, 2006 at 6:48 pm

      Oh yes, very interesting.

      I am not normally a catty type of person but this steams me up. Formula? Puh–leeze, Tina or Morgan!

      You’re not helping anyone by selling lies to hopeful authors. You’re taking their money and stealing their dreams. You have no proof that this “big secret” works. The book you are referring to didn’t sell for big dollars to a reasonably respected publisher and it’s ranked #427,928 in Books on Amazon.

      You want to make money, Tina? Do it honestly. Want to sell books? Work hard, write a great book and sell it to a publisher who’ll pay. Don’t take advantage of people who are looking for answers in the wrong places.

      And to those who are thinking of buying this crap–don’t believe a word of it. There are plenty of *best selling* (NY Times, USA Today) authors with real credentials who’ll tell you the “secret” for free. And the first thing they’ll tell you is there is NO FORMULA. You can’t write a book by filling in the blanks, like Mad Libs.

    • Booksquare // Apr 26, 2006 at 8:39 pm

      Tina, I checked out your book and reviews, and still believe I’m correct. Your publisher isn’t what I’d call a a major player and, given the fact that it will take 4 – 6 weeks to order your book from Amazon, I’m guessing it’s a print-on-demand type publisher. I am not opposed to small houses, self-publishing, or POD-type arrangemetns, but I am opposed to implicit promises that mislead people. Completing and publishing a novel is a commendable trait, and I always encourage people to carefully weigh their publishing decisions, whatever they may be. You made your choice with this publisher, and I believe you made the right choice for you.

      As you can see, this “offer” is generating some heat from people who have worked hard at their craft and careers. They know writers cannot achieve the goal of a publishable novel in 3 days. And the sad truth is that there are a lot of people who want to achieve their dreams so badly that they will believe this. You’ve been around this industry long enough to know the truth.

      You will probably will get takers on this offer, but I will discourage people from paying $197 for a secret that doesn’t exist. There is no formula (sorry, Diana, I don’t believe this, though I understand what you mean). There is no secret. It’s hard work, talent, and, yes, luck. There’s no shame in taking courses and asking for help, but there is no magic formula.

    • Lauren Dane // Apr 27, 2006 at 3:04 pm

      Helpful writing charts are free and readily available all over the web if you want to try organizing your WIP like that. But it’s not like it does the work for you. Snort (if only! I could eat brownies and watch soaps all day long while I spent three days a month and wrote a novel!)

      It makes me furious to see people take advantage of other peoples’ dreams like this. There are no shortcuts. There are no magic beans. There’s no formula other than a lot of hard work and effort.

    • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little // May 2, 2006 at 12:40 pm

      90,000 words in 3 days? 90,000 publishable words?

      No no no no no.

      OK. I’m a fairly quick typist with a fairly good grasp on the language, such that occasionally I get paid to write. Right now what I get paid to write most are work-for-hire non-fiction PDFs based on an outline from the editor.

      I am also a fairly bad procrastinator.

      All this backstory is to say, I can write 15,000 publishable words in 24 hours. BUT. a) It was non-fiction, b) I had an outline, and c) I don’t want to have to do it ever again.

      So. 90,000 publishable words in 3 days? Pardon my skepticism, but I Don’t Think So!

    • Erica Orloff // May 5, 2006 at 6:19 am

      Well, between my jumbo cup of coffee and this post, my blood pressure is through the roof. These types of things that prey on naive, desperate-to-be-published writers are just sickening. I’ve published 20 novels with big houses from Penguin to MIRA to Red Dress Ink, and I can spot poor writing, cliches, and books that haven’t a prayer of selling as well as anyone (I was a book editor for 15 years before selling my first novel). BUT, I cannot give anyone some magic “it’s ALL so easy” formula. No one can. It’s a subjective business full of vagaries; hardwork and persistence and honing craft are important, but there’s also an element of luck and timing that no book can tell you how to conquer.

      God, this is pathetic.