Tuesday Chit Chat with Lyn Vernham, ChocLit

Today, we are very excited to welcome the lovely Lyn Vernham from ChocLit onto our Tuesday Chit Chat slot. Over the last few months we have had authors and agents on this slot and today we have our first publisher in the spotlight.

We know Lyn has a very busy schedule and we appreciate the time she took to answer our questions.

Where heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!

What inspired you to start your own business?

 I was given a copy of Juliet Archer’s The Importance of Being Emma and was amazed at how good it was. After hearing Juliet’s tale of not being able to obtain an agent or publisher It was the challenge we needed to put our marketing skills to the test and launch Choc Lit. 

How did you go about finding your first author?

We launched with Juliet, Sue (Moorcroft) was our second author and submitted her manuscript (Starting Over) after seeing The Importance of Being Emma short-listed for the Melissa Nathan and the Joan Hessayon New Writers awards. Allowing direct submissions has been a major factor in finding our talented authors. As it stands today,  only one of our authors has an agent.  The success of Starting Over and our award success (now 7 awards) has ensured the submissions continue.

Who developed the ChocLit reader scheme and what was the rationale behind it?

Hands up, that was me. We decided to publish novels that appealed to the mass market, novels readers would like to see rather than the industry decide what’s fashionable or commercial. To me, as a marketeer, it was an obvious move – no other industry launch products without research.  Why should publishing a book be any different?  Our reader panel is known as our Tasting Panel.  The age range spans 18 – 80 throughout the UK and we’ve recently added members in the US and Australia. 

Who is your all time favourite romantic hero and how would you describe him in chocolate terms?

John Thornton from North & South. He would have to be a chocolate truffle. Hard exterior with a gorgeous, smooth melt in your mouth centre.  One taste and you’re addicted. 
When you decide on a manuscript, is it done on majority vote or unanimous? Do you get the overriding vote?

If a manuscript receives straight passes from all age brackets (Tasting Panel split into age brackets) and we believe the author will fit into our team – we’ll publish.  However, I  do hold the final vote as I currently do all author interviews. 
ChocLit are well known for their absolutely gorgeous covers. Do you personally have any input into them?
Our covers will always play an important role in production so yes I do input and control the design. Thankfully, we have been very lucky in securing highly talented designers who constantly produce fabulous covers which makes my job easy.
What are your thoughts on digital-only publishing?

I’m not a fan of digital only. I still believe there’s a print market for our product. We see our ebooks and print compliment each other. It’s still the only way to give an author true coverage to offer readers all formats including audio. 
Which other countries would you like to move into?
We recently launched in the US and Canada and were already distributed in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. A key focus for the coming year is to increase brand awareness and sales in those countries rather than chase new markets.
Not including your current profession, if you could do any job, what would you like to do?
I’d love to own a coffee shop selling chocolates and with a luxury seating area to be able to read  and relax. I’d probably spend all day reading, drinking coffee  and tasting chocolate. Sounds like my current role.:-) 
What are your pet hates when reading a manuscript?
Where an author clearly hasn’t read the manuscript and it’s riddled with typos and errors. I also hate an overuse of exclamation marks but that’s a personal thing and manuscripts aren’t rejected for such. 
Do you have any tips or advice for those wanting to submit to ChocLit?

Read our current list and see what we publish. We’re always on the look-out for something different to add.  Also participate in social media. You’ll find all our authors are active on facebook and twitter and regularly blog. If we see you’re online, it will improve your chances of being requested.
Describe your ideal romantic date?
Pink champagne and strawberries, watching the sun set over water preferably somewhere warm and dry. 

 Quick fire round:
  • Blue Peter or Magpie? Blue Peter
  • Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet?  Spandau 
  • Valentine’s Day, home cooked meal or dining out? Home cooked.
  • Love at first sight or slow burner? Love at first sight
  • Marmite – love it or hate it? Love it
  • Tom Cruise or George Clooney? Difficult not a fan of either – probably Clooney. Cruise has a silly grin.
  • E-reader or paperback?  Paperback but ereader when travelling
ChocLit’s submission guidelines can be found on their website, here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
All of ChocLit’s authors are on Facebook and Twitter and each and every one of them are incredibly friendly so please do go and say hi. ChocLit’s novels can be found in a number of places, and are all on Amazon both as paperback and Kindle format.

36 thoughts on “Tuesday Chit Chat with Lyn Vernham, ChocLit

  1. Hi, Romaniacs!

    I really enjoyed your conversation with Lyn. I had a nervous moment when I read her remark about exclamatiion marks, though, and thought OMG!!!

    Liz X

    • Hi Liz,

      Glad you enjoyed the interview.

      Yes, I thought that was a great little tip from Lyn – Will be scouring my MS for exclamation marks now!!! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Lucie x

  2. Interesting interview. It’s wonderful to see friends doing so well with ChocLit. Thanks to The Romaniacs and Lyn – I love marmite too, might have to go and have some now!

    • Really enjoyed the interview. It’s so good to hear how well choclit is doing. Also, I love the idea of a readers panel, it is an original idea. Thanks Lyn.
      Lorraine x

      • Hi Lorraine,

        Thank you for commenting. I am glad you have got something out of the interview, too.

        Lucie x

    • Hi Bex,

      Thanks for stopping by! It really is so nice to see ChocLit go from strength to strength, and amongst so many of our friends, too!

      Have to say, I hate marmite! So no breathing near me… 🙂

      Lucie x

      • Lucie, you are not alone. I hate marmite too. Glad it’s not just me.
        Lorraine x

  3. Really enjoyed Lyn’s interview – great questions! And I’m with Liz re the exclamation marks – in fact I managed to choke on my coffee and spray it all over the computer and myself in the process. I’m about to get edits, and now have a very good idea what one of the changes is going to be 🙂 Thanks again guys!

    • Hi Sarah,

      Haha! I’m glad we were able to give you a ‘heads up’ re the exclamation marks.

      Thanks for stopping by

      Lucie x

  4. Great interview. I love the idea of the tasting panel. It clearly works. I’m reading my way through the Choc Lit books at the moment and I’ve enjoyed every single one so far.
    I love the way the Choc lit authors seem to be a big, happy family.

    Marmite. Yum.

    • Hi Rhoda,

      Yes, I agree. The ChocLit family have such an amazing bond, it’s really quite inspiring.
      I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with you about the marmite, though. Ick Ick Ick!!

      Thanks for commenting

      Lucie x

    • Yes but ladies, he probably wont be grinning during…well…you know! If he is grinning, we’re doing something wrong!

      And I agree, Marmite Yuk, chocolate YUM!

      Lucie x

  5. It’s a fabulous interview and a great look behind the scenes. Thanks for your candour, Lyn, and thanks to the Romaniacs for posting. I do love this blog and it’s wonderful to see Choclit featuring here today. Rock on.

    PS. This must be the first comment ever on any blog that I have posted entirely without exclamation marks. I, too, tend to be prone to overusing this humble punctuation mark. But I’m learning. Or at least trying. Yet I do love them so.

    • Hi Nicky,

      It is a wonderful look behind the scenes, isn’t it. Lyn has been very accommodating with her answers. I think all the readers have appreciated that.

      It has made me re-think my use of exclamation marks too, especially in my replies on here. Although I see a few have slipped in. It’s hard! (Ooops, there’s another one)

      Thanks for commenting, Nicky.

      Lucie x

  6. How refreshing to see a publisher innovating rather than just jumping on the latest band wagon! (Oops!!) (Oops again… :))

  7. I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read from ChocLit so far, some excellent stories. It’s great to hear from the lady behind it all. Thanks for a great interview.

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Lindsay, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Lucie x

  8. Great interview, Lucie, but you really must try harder with the Marmite – it’s made up the road from me with the left over yeast from the beer. Very interesting responses from Lyn re taster panel etc. I especially love all the ChocLit covers, gorgeous colours and designs.


    PS I think you got away with the exclamation marks, Mandy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m sorry, Celia, I just can’t bring myself to work with the Marmite! Even the smell makes me pull faces.

      Lucie x

  9. Wow, great interview, Lyn. And really nice to see the name behind Choc Lit. They really are fabulous books so good luck with the expansion.

    I love all of Sue’s books, I’ve read The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtney, too, and I love all the covers of all the books… I do want to read them all eventually. And I’m trying really, really hard not to use an exclamation mark. lol!

    • Hi Teresa,

      So glad you enjoyed the interview.

      I, too, am working my way through the books and I must say I love them all. Some more than others, but all of them are a treat to read. And they just look so pretty on the shelf!

      Thanks for dropping in.

      Lucie x

  10. Another great post ladies, thank you very much. Interesting info from Lyn and nice to know Choc Lit care about what readers want. Look forward to more fab posts. Now off to go through my MS’s and scour for exclamation marks!!!!!!

    Nikki 🙂

    • Hi Nikki,

      I think this post has made a lot of people go back and look for exclamation marks – a very handy tip from Lyn.

      Thanks for commenting

      Lucie x

  11. Many thanks to Lucie and the rest of The Romaniacs for the interview. I’m sure you’ll all agree they deserve praise for the success of their own venture.

    Oh dear, so sorry you’ve all taken my comment to heart. I’m as guilty as the next person of overuse in emails and marketing copy. Just not in novels!!!

    Mandy you can add a few more here – acceptable.:-)

    Well done Nicky – you deserve a prize.:-)

    Liz, it’s too late! Sarah, I hope your computer survived. Tip – don’t drink coffee while reading interviews.:-)

    Rebecca, Rhoda and Ceila – marmite with cheese is my favourite. The others don’t know what they’re missing. Have you tried marmite crisps?

    Thanks Rhoda, Lorraine and Nikki – we do love our panel. It’s really proved its worth this year.

    I love to hear that our brand values are working and that you’re working your way through the list Rhoda, Lindsay and Teresa. Thank you!

    Teresa the sequel to The Scarlet Kimomo, The Gilded Fan, is out Feb 2013 – you’re in for a treat.

    Debbie – very annoying in his Mission Impossible movies. I so love Dougray Scott.

    Off to have my hot chocolate while reading potential Choc Lit.

    Thanks everyone.


    • Hi Lyn,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on here, we are very happy that you enjoyed doing the interview.
      And thank you for your kind, supportive words about us Romaniacs.
      We feel that your interview has been a real benefit to a lot of our blog followers and everyone has really enjoyed hearing about the writing from a different angle and perspective.

      I love the fact that you drink chocolate, while reading ChocLit – and potential ChocLit – you really are ChocLit through and through!

      Thanks again,

      Lucie x

      ps. – I’m still not with you on the Marmite front and don’t even get me started on Marmite crisps….ick! 🙂

    • Hi Juliette,
      Did you find the truffle? I’ve managed a few chocolate biscuits that Sue Fortin brought to the naughty kitchen at Conference – they found their way to my kitchen 🙂 x

  12. What a great interview, Lyn and the Romaniacs. I’m afraid I’m a marmite hater – but my first Choc Lit editor taught me to cull my exclamation marks, and it’s well known that I’m a lover of Choc Lit.

    Teresa – thank you! x

    • Thank you, Sue. Someone told me exclamation marks should only be used in speech and then only if the speech was brief and, well, exclaiming.
      Laura x

  13. Great post. I think more publishers should think like Lyn and the Choclit team.
    Jan x

    • Yes, it certainly gives you confidence to know there are places where an agent isn’t necessarily God!
      Celia x

  14. The tasting panel is such a great idea. After all, if Pa don’t like it, Ma might….
    (Okay, I won’t give up the day job…)

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