Somehow this year’s RWA conference seems to be flying by. Perhaps it’s the pace of New York City; I always feel so energized whenever I’m here. Whatever the reason, there’s a liveliness about this year’s conference that has been very fun. I’ve enjoyed getting to see authors whose work I admire – there’s too many of those to give an exhaustive list here, but I will say that it was a special thrill to meet Loretta Chase for the first time. Another thrilling thing about this conference has been the sheer number of first sale authors I’ve been meeting. There’s a lot of new voices out there and I’m curious to see what it will do to the market.
Speaking of the market, since Blythe shared news of upcoming books with you yesterday, I’ve been keeping note of all the news I hear on the book market and publication trends and here’s what I’m getting from a variety of authors, agents and editors who would prefer not to be named:
– First of all, it is the Wild West out there! Self-publication through platforms such as Smashwords is on the rise, and we’ve also got more small presses out there such as Sourcebooks, BelleBooks and the soon-to-launch Montlake imprint from Amazon. And then there’s digital publishing with independent presses such as Samhain and the digital-first arms of print publishers such as Harlequin’s Carina Press and Avon Impulse. Everyone is talking about this huge change to the market and the two words I hear most are “opportunity” and “uncertainty”. No one is sure how the changes in formats will affect authors or the process of getting books into readers’ hands, but everyone seems to agree that the business model of publishing is in a state of change.
– Have you noticed authors of your favorite series publishing e-novellas to go along with the novels? This is a huge trend that has been talked about a lot here. More and more authors are being urged to write these novellas to generate interest about a new series as well as keep readers invested in their books between novel releases. I’ve especially noticed this going on at Harlequin as well as with tie-ins between Avon print releases and Avon Impulse digital releases. For a prolific author, I could see this being a boon, but I wonder if the sheer number of releases required would burn out some authors. I also found myself wondering whether this would lead to more series at the expense of standalone books.
– And then there’s Amazon. There’s a sense that everyone is competing with Amazon. There are the pricing issues that have been discussed extensively online for a while now (remember agency pricing?) and now not only does Amazon bring self-published works into readers’ hands via Smashwords distribution, but they are starting up their own romance imprint. Most people here are at least a little bit tongue in cheek when they ask this, but “Coulld Amazon take over the publishing world?”
– So what is getting published? As I mentioned before, I’ve met a lot of first sale authors here and when I do, I ask them what they write. A lot of these folks are writing erotic romance. Some of it’s contemporary, some historical and some paranormal, but there is definitely a lot of erotic romance out there. And publishers seem to want more! At the Carina Press spotlight yesterday, Angela James specifically mentioned that the company is seeking out novel-length erotic romance.
That’s not to say erotic romance is the only game in town – not by a long shot. Paranormals continue to be strong as does steampunk. In addition, I ran into more authors who have sold sci-fi/futuristic romance than I think I’ve ever seen in one place. For years, Linnea Sinclair was the main author that I knew of writing these types of books, but it seems to be a growing trend.
– And since we have a lot of historical readers out there, I’ll just let you know that I haven’t heard much talk about historicals, but what I have heard will make Western romance fans happy. Pretty much every publishing house I’ve talked to would like to see a good Western, and Avon and Carina Press have both stated this in their publisher spotlights so far (most spotlights are still to come). I haven’t heard a lot of buzz about other non-Regency historicals yet, but since they’re one of my favorite things, I’m keeping my ears open.
It’s looking like a very exciting time to be reading or writing romance at the moment, and I’m curious to see what the future holds!
– Lynn Spencer