RWA 2013 – The Conference Begins in Earnest

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. Continue reading

RWA 2013 – News from the Literacy Signing

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: Continue reading

Rotten Apples

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. Continue reading

RWA Time – What Would You Like?

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

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. Continue reading

Where Have All the Historical Romances Gone?

historicalromance1 In the past, I’ve bemoaned a lack of variety in historical romance settings, and we’ve even voted on where readers wanted to see historical set (Result: we like 19th c. England but wouldn’t mind reading about other places and times, too!). However, over the past few years I’ve been seeing change in the historical market overall.

Historical romance once dominated the market. When I started reading romance as a 1990s high school student, the vast majority of books out there were historicals – and they were set all over the place. When I started at AAR in 2003, it was harder to find a wide variety of historical settings, but there were still plenty of books. Continue reading

New Opportunities for Aspiring Writers – and Other News From Around the Web

writing ** I’d noticed recently that Avon redesigned its website, and it has also now announced the launch of Share Your Book, a place for aspiring writers to post writing samples and receive feedback from readers, editors, and other authors. It reminds me somewhat of the First Page feature at Dear Author, but since this one is sponsored by a publishing house, I suspect there will be more of a presence from editors giving comments and hopefully finding new talent. Avon has had similar features in the past, including the FanLit contest that brought us Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Manda Collins, Elyssa Patrick, and several other authors.  I’ll be curious to see what new voices emerge from this new feature.  More than a few writers have emerged from the self-publishing world recently, and it looks like Avon is trying to bring some of that talent on board. Continue reading

Grand Central Publishing to Publish More Romance!

forever That’s right! I got a press release from Grand Central today announcing that it will be expanding the Forever imprint. After reading what Anne had to say below about the pending Penguin and Random House merger, I had wondered whether traditional publishing of romance would start to shrink a bit. Would RH and Penguin combine imprints and cause slots to be lost? It does seem a bit like a recipe for further squeezing the midlist and making it harder for new writers to establish themselves.

In contrast, the news from Grand Central felt pretty welcome. In the press release, the publisher announced that Forever and the eBook-only imprint Forever Yours had 64 titles in 2012, they expect about 120 this year and over 190 in 2014. Wow! That’s a huge increase. Not surprisingly, they’re also looking to add to their editorial and marketing staff.

Based on the comments from Grand Central reps in the press release, it sounds like they are attuned to the fact that romance readers read a lot, and we like to have lots of books to select from. Amy Pierpont, the Editorial Director of Forever and Forever Yours stated that, ” “Romance readers are talking, and Forever is listening! Fans want more books from their favorite authors, they want them published more frequently, and they’re eager to discover new favorite authors and series. Forever’s expansion allows us to bring readers exactly what they’re asking for—and more.” The publisher also seems to realize that readers have very diverse tastes. Beth de Guzman, the founding editor of Forever and now a VP at Grand Central, described the romance market as “more robust and diverse than at any other time…” I hope that the realization we romance readers are a pretty eclectic bunch translates into some nice, broad-ranging title lists as well. I see potential here, and I just hope that having room for more authors and books on the publisher’s roster turns out to be a good thing for readers.

– Lynn Spencer

Random Penguins, Part Deux

penguin-random-house Last November, I blogged about the possible Random House and Penguin Books merger. Or rather, the merger between German conglomerate Bertelsmann (the owner of Random House) and the parent company of Penguin (the British company Pearson). At the time, the merger had not yet been approved by the regulatory agencies. As controversial as the merger was for some, most experts thought it would be approved and that the newly named Penguin Random House would become reality.

Sure enough, it seems they might be right. One major step has made this huge merger possible. As reported by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the upcoming merger. Continue reading

Harlequin KISS imprint launch – Interview and Giveaway!

kisslaunch Just this month, Harlequin officially launched their new KISS line of books promising readers modern stories that are fresh and fun. Sometimes when I read contemporary romance, the characters seem very old-fashioned so I was curious to see what I would find in the new line. I ended up having The One That Got Away as a review book and I picked up the other three to read on my own. While the tone and stories varied, they did all feel believably modern. I was able to interview two of the launch authors, Kelly Hunter and Kimberly Lang, and this is what they had to say about the new line: Continue reading