Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

How to write a romance… or not

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

writing a romance novel for dummiesSince I learned there was such a thing as a How to Write book, I’ve loved those suckers. Even the books that were too basic for me offered something — new advice, a fresh perspective, inspiration to write. There weren’t enough of the darn books to satisfy me.

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An interview with Courtney Milan (and a giveaway!)

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Countess ConspiracyI am a Courtney Milan fan. I’ve read all her novels and novellas. She shines for me in two very clear ways. One, she is a superb novella writer. Two, she incorporates science into her books seamlessly and accurately.

I contacted Ms. Milan via a mutual Twitter friend and asked if she’d answer a few questions. She graciously agreed to do so. (more…)

Sarah MacLean talks about romance, the New York Times, and upending tropes

Monday, December 16th, 2013

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Sarah, this fall the New York Times Book Review published a “Sex” issue that lacked any coverage of the romance or erotica genre. (I read it and steam came out of my ears.) You sent a lovely letter to the editors taking them to task which they published. In it, you wrote:

“I was dismayed to see that of the 15 authors asked to discuss writing about sex in the “Naughty Bits” roundup, none write romance novels —the genre best known for its naughty bits.

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Bloggers, Reviewers and Street Teams?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

getwordout The idea of the street team isn’t brand new; it’s been around the music industry for a while now and it started crossing over into romance at least 5-6 years ago. However, as self-publishing has grown and as ebooks have opened up a whole new world for indie publishers, these seem to be popping up more and more. At RWA this past year, we heard “street teams” mentioned in every other workshop, it seemed. Authors discussed them, and publishers highlighted them as an important part of the marketing process. The idea of authors branding themselves was everywhere and street teams definitely constituted a significant portion of that.

It seemed like everyone wanted to get book bloggers on board with the idea of street teams and certainly the promise of exclusive info and fun freebies has its allure, but what exactly does it mean to join a street team? (more…)

RWA 2013 Reflections

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

photo (23)I look forward to RWA all year long. Admittedly, a large part of it is the sheer fun. This year I kept gleefully telling my colleagues at work that I was off to spend a week going to cocktail parties and talking about books, and that they should feel very sorry for me. But beyond the parties, friends, and chatter, I enjoy the vibe of the conference itself, which is different every year. Since I’ve been able to attend the last four years in a row, I’ve enjoyed seeing how that changes. Where do we pick this up? Well, Lynn and I make a huge effort to attend as many publisher spotlights and tweet them when we can. We also watch our tweet streams to see what other attendees are talking about, and talk to authors at the literacy signing and publisher book signings. Here’s what was “in the water” this year:

Branding and New Adult: I believe we heard both of these terms at every single spotlight we attended, without exception. Last year, publishers seemed to be scrambling somewhat (especially after Stephanie Laurens’ evocative speech) to explain their relevance in the current wide open market. This year, they all seemed to by quite clear on what they brought to the table: Branding, packaging, and marketing. They are making coordinated efforts to turn each author into her own distinct and recognizable brand. All of them said they want multiple contracts and series. Now, to be clear, several clarified that “series” does not have to mean six shape-shifting brothers who all live in each other’s pockets; series can mean books set in the same world, even if that means they are more loosely connected. What publishers clearly do not want is an author who genre hops like mad. You can do it, mind you, but that probably means you have two distinct brands, and perhaps that you have them at different houses. If you are a newbie hoping to break into the field, you are better off picking something and sticking with it.

As for New Adult, my sense is that publishers are scrambling to hop onto this bandwagon and ride it while it’s hot. How long will it be hot? Who’s to say. But I did tell my 21 year old writing daughter that since she is writing about characters her age she should be submitting them now…while everyone is looking.

Paranormals are on the backburner: I admit to thinking I might never hear these words, and since I am not really a huge paranormal fan I admit to being pretty happy to hear these words. After several conferences spent hearing about how readers were clamoring for more vampires, shapeshifters, succubi, and just plain othersI’m a little glad that the enthusiasm has run its course for now. This also helps me out as Managing Editor of AAR. I’ve spent the last several years with a list full of complicated paranormal series books that reviewers struggled to follow because they could not always read the previous 37 books in the series.

Publishers still want paranormals. But if you’re a new author they are looking mostly for paranormals with humor, for which there is still more of a demand, or something very high concept (another big conference buzzword). However, if you love to write and read more traditional paranormals don’t despair, because…

Digital publishing makes nearly anything possible: Every traditional publisher has a digital arm, and many publishers who started out digital and gaining traction. The digital arms (and small but growing e-only or e-mostly pubs) are willing to take a chance on nearly any setting or subgenre if they think the writing is good enough. This is where they’ll publish your vampire book or your Colonial romance if you are not Christine Feehan or Pamela Clare. They’ll brand you and (hopefully) let you take off in a more niche market, which is much cheaper to do in the digital milieu. This can only be good news for readers who crave variety (if a little challenging at times for those of us who are trying to find all these great books and tell you about them). The other interesting thing that more than one publisher noted is that the digital market and print market are really not the same. Different types of books can perform better in each market, and what takes off digitally does not always translate to print (and vice versa).

Indy and e “friendly”: And speaking of e-publishing, I personally was thrilled to see the conference becoming more e-friendly. A few publishers – most notablyAvon – had their authors hand out ebooks as well as print versions. Those of us shipping books home to, say, Colorado – and who might have husbands who complain about the possibility of being killed in a book avalanche – were very grateful. RWA also held its first indy book signing, which was well attended and popular with both indy authors and conference attendees.

Usually, this is the spot where I talk about my conference workout photo, but working out at this hotel was kind of a drag and the view was not inspiring. I am more of an outdoor girl in the summertime, and this hotel in the heart of downtown Atlanta was not really situated in a good place to run outside (though the weather was really not bad). I took photos from the gym, but they were depressing. Instead, you can enjoy the cheery picture of our hands (Lynn’s and mine) – sporting the glowy, sparkly rings they were giving out at the Avon party. We’ll be reporting to you next year from San Antonio. Dare I ask if anyone runs along the River Walk?

 

RWA 2013 – The Conference Begins in Earnest

Friday, July 19th, 2013

atlantanight Today was the first full day of conference and even though I felt like I was scurrying all over the hotel, there’s a pretty high energy mood here this year and I can’t say that I felt particularly tired. I attended publisher spotlights with Carina Press, Avon and Grand Central, and picked up other tidbits of information in chats here and there.

After hearing presentations from three publishers, there are some definite themes emerging at this conference. For starters, one hears the phrase “author branding” everywhere. At all the publisher spotlights and even in more informal conversations with publishing reps, I’m hearing a real emphasis on building brands around an author. (more…)

RWA 2013 – News from the Literacy Signing

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

IMG_20130717_174858_689 There’s no better place to get news than in a room packed full of authors (more than 400 of them), readers and fans. After some Atlanta sightseeing, including – I am not making this up – a stop at the Georgia Aquarium, where you can find a dolphin show featuring a singing sea captain in a light-up cape, Lynn Spencer and I hit the literacy signing, where there seemed to be more authors than usual. I didn’t come close to talking to them all (and missed several I would have liked to chat with), but I did catch up with quite a few.

Two overwhelming messages tonight: Everyone, no really, everyone, is writing an enovella that ties into her next book. After hearing about twelve people in a row tell me that, someone (who prefers to remain nameless) shed some light on the subject: It’s a way that traditional publishers can compete on pricepoint with e-first or e-only publishers. And of course, if you like the novella enough maybe you’ll think about buying a full-length book – and perhaps paying a little more for it. The second message: The market for historicals is challenging right now. Unless, perhaps, they are e-novellas. Anyway, here is more specific author news from the women I managed to catch up with: (more…)

Rotten Apples

Friday, July 12th, 2013

rottenapple On April 3, 2010 Apple launched the iPad. One other important thing happened that day. Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs had numerous interviews with reporters, natural given that his company was launching a major product. What came as a surprise was that when asked why consumers would pay $14.99 to Apple to purchase an e-book that was selling at Amazon for $9.99, Jobs replied, “Well, that won’t be the case.” As a follow up to a question as to why that wouldn’t be the case Job’s responded, “The price will be the same.”

While Apple would have us believe that Mr. Jobs and the company as a whole did nothing illegal to ensure that the prices were equal, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled differently. Apple has been found guilty of price-fixing and in the process violated antitrust laws. If you’re interested, you can find the decision here. (more…)

RWA Time – What Would You Like?

Friday, June 28th, 2013

midtownatlanta May I just say that I can’t believe we’ve reached the end of June already? This year has just been a blur of activity and if it weren’t for the fact that it’s been 90+ degrees for the past week here in Virginia, I’d have a hard time believing it’s summer.

In two weeks, Blythe and I will be heading down to Atlanta for the annual RWA conference – and we’d like a little input from you. First of all, for the authors, agents and publishers who read here, I’m looking forward to seeing the folks I’ve met in the past and would love to meet some of the rest of you. Blythe and I will be livetweeting the RITAs as we do each year, and we’ll also be covering some of the workshops and publisher announcements.

And that’s where readers come in. One thing I have discovered since I started going to RWA is that there is really more than 1 RWA meeting going on. There are the official announcements and workshops(many, many workshops). However, the conference is also a wonderful place for a more unofficial exchange of ideas and news – and I often find some of that to be bigger news and more relevant to readers. As more than 1 author has told me, it’s the one time of year that you have so many people from the romance writing world together in one place. Given that there’s so much going on, the two of us won’t be able to be everywhere at once.

So, let us know what you want to hear about. Is there a particular author, agent or publisher that you’d like for us to talk to? Some particular topic you want to get the scoop on? Just let us know in the comments and we’ll start making our list of things to look for in Atlanta!

– Lynn Spencer

Dipping My Toes Into New Waters

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

2815306040_bb5605976c_z I’ll be blunt here and say that I used to have little faith in self-publishing and small press publishing. There seemed to be so many terribly edited self-pubbed books out there, and I also used to believe that a good writer could find herself a major publisher. I mean, it only made sense. How many bad (really bad) writers have I had the pleasure of reviewing over the years, all of them with larger publishers? Yet recent events have shaken my faith in that fact. Connie Brockway, a favorite among AAR readers, had considered self-publishing before serving as the launch author for Amazon’s Montlake division. It took Diana Miller six years to find a publisher (again Montlake) for her 2006 Golden Heart Award Winning manuscript Dangerous Affairs. I couldn’t help but emphasize the word winner in that sentence. It seemed so ridiculous that a winner for excellence in an unpublished manuscript would then be unable to find said manuscript a publisher.

I wonder, perhaps, if this doesn’t have something to do with the type of books disappearing from the market. Lynn discussed the narrowing historical romance market in her May blog. Numerous posts have been made on the Mystery and Suspense Books Discussion thread on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum message board regarding the lack of romantic suspense books. While the market seems flooded with paranormals and small town contemporary series, there seems to be a near drought in other sub-genres of romance. (more…)