Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

New York Publishing and 50 Shades

Friday, June 1st, 2012

fiftyThe astounding success of 50 Shades of Grey has a lot of folks bewildered.  Publishers included, quite clearly.

While all of us stumble around trying to make sense of it, I was stumped when a reporter asked me recently why it was such a success.  Expecting a succinct answer, I started to talk about covers and the appeal of the hero and it clearly wasn’t what she was looking for.  She wanted a firm and fast answer.

And I just didn’t – and still don’t – have it.  But you know what?  Its clear that publishers don’t either.

I’ve seen the recommendations for those who liked 50 Shades and they strike me as tone deaf.  As in, “here, are our stale traditionally published books, give us some of your money” recommendations.  Please.

One thing that’s completely clear to me:  50 Shades is fresh.  As in fresh in tone and feeling and style.  It’s got a feeling of freshness to it that I haven’t seen coming out of New York in a very long time.

New York publishers are bound (sorry) by tradition.  They do things the same way they’ve always done them.  And they are sluggish.  I have no doubt that they are scrambling right now to find the next new 50 Shades authors. They’ll put them on the fast track and, gee, we might see a resulting book in about a year.  Too little too late, I’m afraid since who knows what readers will want by that time?  Chances are, it won’t be another 50 Shades.

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My Personal Rita Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I have a long-term relationship with the Ritas. I had no friends who read romances (or at least admitted that they did) when I began reading romances in the 1990s. So soon after I finished Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick’s complete backlist, I began searching the Web for ideas about which books to read next. Among the first resources I found was the Romance Writers of America’s Web site. Imagine my delight to discover the “best” of romance in their listing of recent Rita winners.

I was convinced these must be the best romance had to offer and began selecting romances to read from recent Rita winners; the process was a bit hit or miss. I discovered some winners that have become favorite romances, while others quickly went into my DNF pile. Still, I was – and remain – fascinated by the whole specter of the Ritas. I can remember sitting in my living room, with an old AOL dial-up connection (I did say this was the 1990s), watching as the Rita’s were presented live over the Web. This was a big deal for me; I felt as if I was actually part of the romance community.

Obviously things have changed. There are many, many online resources available to locate great new romances. And of course I now have many online friends and AAR colleagues who are also romance readers. But still, I look forward every year to the announcement of the Rita nominees and the eventual awards.

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eBook Lending – A Reader’s View

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

kindlebook Last week, I mentioned that certain publishers won’t let libraries lend their eBooks. To bring it home more, if you are looking for romance eBooks by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, Keiran Kramer published by Macmillan Publishing at your local library or Simon & Schuster’s authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz or Sabrina Jeffries, don’t waste your time looking because their eBooks are not available for lending. If that is not enough, Penguin, which only offered backlist eBook titles for library lending, announced that it is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its eBooks to libraries.
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And the Saga Continues

Friday, February 24th, 2012

nookkindle I must have been living under a rock. Until the advent of agency pricing, I didn’t realize the contentiousness and longevity of the thirty years’ book wars. Oh, I do remember talking with one of my favorite book sellers – a retired teacher that opened a book store in Memphis. She shared that she was having a difficult time competing with Waldenbooks. And I remember her talking in dismay about the proposed purchase of Ingram Book Group Inc. by Barnes and Noble. And sure I watched the 1998 comedy, “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks’s Fox & Sons Books putting out of business Meg Ryan’s Shop Around the Corner. However I moved away to a smaller town, and became cocooned against the bookstore closings. Then in the spring of 2010, agency pricing got my attention in a big way. Since then I’ve tried to keep up with the current changes.
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It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

AAR’s sensuality ratings have come under discussion lately due to the changing nature of the romance industry in general. With the recent proliferation of racier novels, what was once declared Hot may now be considered barely Warm by our readers. The language used in love scenes, once a deciding factor in rating, has also changed drastically in recent years.  Quaint euphemisms such as “manhood” or “heated channel” have fallen by the wayside.

If we update our sensuality ratings in response to changes in the industry, what sort of changes should we make?

One issue under discussion was possibly adding another category after Burning.  For instance, Penelope and Prince Charming by Jennifer Ashley was given a Burning rating because of some mild anal play and very frank love scenes. But does PaPC compare to Sarah’s Seduction by Lora Leigh which would be given the same rating by today’s rules?

And how should language affect rating? In the not so distant past the words “cock” and “clit” were pretty rare in mainstream romance, their presence garnering a Hot rating just on principal. Is it shocking to read a review rated Warm, only to find language once considered very blue when you read the book? Conversely, some readers may be disappointed to purchase a book rated Burning because of language or one delicately described incident of alternative lovemaking, when their hope was for something more raunchy.

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Avon Wants a Piece of Your Mind…

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Have you ever wanted to give a publisher a piece of your mind? Well, Avon is asking for one. They have a fairly extensive survey for romance readers on facebook. They want to know how you read, how much you read, whether you listen to audiobooks, where you get your book recommendations, which websites you like (you know, like ours)…

There is a place to comment at the end with any other feedback you’d like to give. Since they really want to know what you think, you might as well tell them! You can find the survey here.

- Blythe Barnhill

Deal Breakers: Have We All Gotten a Bit Too Cranky?

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

stock-vector-policeman-yelling-stop-retro-clip-art-58890815Even a casual visitor to the AAR message boards quickly learns one thing:  We are an opinionated bunch.

And in just about every thread somebody posts about a plot device they loathe.  Be it a couple who jumps into bed right off the bat or an arranged marriage, the list of plot devices that we loathe seems to number in the thousands.  Maybe millions.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but not by much.  We’re a bunch of cranky pants.

And, when you think about it, we’re leaving authors with little to nothing to work with.  Because constructing a plot that doesn’t feature any of the devices that someone loathes would be nearly impossible.

Here’s what I think:  We’ve gotten so narrow in our list of what we’re looking for when we read, that we’re denying ourselves a whole lot of good stuff.

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The Other Guy’s Bride: Exclusive Excerpt from Connie Brockway

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

brockwayI am really excited about this one, so fair warning.

On November 22nd, The Other Guy’s Bride, the long, long, long(!) awaited sequel to As You Desire will finally hit your Kindle, with the print version following one month later.  I’ve read the book and it’s fair to say that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited.  I’ll have more to say later, but this new book is a worthy successor to a book so fondly remembered by so very many of us.

You know, there was so much controversy over how this book is being published and now we’re down to what really matters.

We’ll be back in a few weeks with a giveaway, but, in the meantime, Connie offered us an exclusive excerpt from the book to whet your appetite.  So, read it, enjoy – and leave a question or your reaction for Connie in the comments.

- Sandy AAR

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From Steve Jobs to a Request for Feedback

Friday, October 7th, 2011

retroI missed my regular blogging spot (every other Friday) last time because I was in the midst of a Mac crisis.  Said crisis involved a Separation from my Beloved MacBook Pro since said device had to be sent to Apple for some minor work.  I sent it off on Thursday and it was back in my hot little hands on Tuesday morning, which is service that can’t be beat.  Anyway, due to my having to resort to my backup iMac and, no doubt, some pouting over the loss of my Beloved MacBook Pro, I didn’t get around to blogging.

I blogged a few weeks ago about my affection for Steve Jobs.  As the whole world knows by now, he is lost to us.  He was a visionary, an innovator, a design genius, and so much more. I felt his death much as I felt the death of John Lennon 31 years ago.  RIP, Steve Jobs.  You truly did change the world.

Now, on to subjects that are a bit less fraught. I’m hearing that Romantic Suspense as a genre is in trouble and that it’s a tough sell to an editor.  Anybody care to elaborate?

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Random House Fall Preview: Toronto

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Ah, the perks of working at Chapters.  During the summer, our store manager told us that all Chapters employees were invited to the Random House Fall Preview at the Hyatt Regency.  Now, I don’t know about you, but this sounded pretty sweet.  And they’d send us free books!  Can’t say no to that.  So last Sunday, I headed down to King Street West.  If I had been doing a live feed, here’s what it might have looked like:

Several days prior – Receive an email confirming registration and asking us to bring a pen, since they won’t be distributing them.  Okay.­­­­

11:00 – Trying to decide what to wear.  Event is at posh hotel, with publishing head honchos, and Michael Ondaatje – the Michael Ondaatje.  And it’s raining.  Boots or heels, boots or heels?  Settle on black pencil skirt and Franco Sarto maroon heels, which are comfy but don’t see much sunlight because they’re heels.

12:15 – Walk past the super discreet Hyatt entrance three times before I realize that it’s the hotel, and I only really see it because I go through Starbucks.  Vaguely intimidated by heaps of shiny marble, leather cushions, running water, and really nice bathrooms.

12:20 – Head to second-floor ballroom and register, which entails getting a brochure and putting down my name, email, and Chapters store number.  First inkling that it’s not quiiiiiite what I’d imagined.

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