Angela James and her journey to Harlequin with Carina Press
Today Harlequin is announcing the creation of Carina Press, a digital only epress from Harlequin. On a personal front, this news is exciting because Angela James is a friend of mine and will be the Executive Editor of this new line. On a reader front, I think this move signals how important the digital space is becoming.
You can read all about Carina Press at its website: Carinapress.com. The plan is to launch in Spring/Summer 2010. Carina Press will release DRM FREE!!! ebooks on a weekly basis. The books will be available for sale at Carina Press and through other etailers. Carina will be publishing steampunk, sci fi, futuristic fantasy, multi cultural books – “if readers are blogging about a genre with passion and interest, we’ll publish it.” A whole list of genres can be seen here including thrillers, mysteries and erotica in addition to romance.
The Press will consider nearly any length of novels including short stories, genre novels between 50,000 and 100,000 and “complex narratives” of over 100,000. In short, it seems like Carina Press has few restrictions for authors in terms of genre, length or subject matter.
There are no advances and the books will be royalty based. Carina will be looking to relaunch digital editions for titles that are out of print. (Someone contact the Curtis’ stat! We need Windflower and Bad Baron’s Daughter out in eform!)
In any event, here are a few words from Angela James and her journey to Carina.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe everything happens for a reason, when you’re the one it’s happening to. Four years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old daughter. I’d left a job I loved as an occupational therapist in a psych hospital in order to stay home with Brianna. To keep myself occupied (because I’m someone who loves to work) I’d been doing some casual work for Ellora’s Cave as a proofer, something I’d started doing while I was pregnant. I actually applied for a position as an editor, but didn’t quite make the cut, and in mid-2005, they restructured how they did the editorial and I was cut loose as a proofer.
By that time, I had the editing bug, I’d made contacts with some authors and I wanted to do something to stay in the business, so I began doing freelance editing. Right around that time, several authors mentioned to me that a new publisher was going to be opening its doors, the owner was looking for editors and would that be something I’d be interested in, because I’d be good at it? Heck yeah! So I was introduced to Christina Brashear and in September of 2005, I found myself the first editor for Samhain Publishing.
I loved working for Samhain, and helping build a fantastic publisher in the digital community. I learned a lot during those first few years, and it was an unforgettable experience. In the past year, I’d had some soft interest from others in the industry, with potential job offers, but it wasn’t until the crew from Quartet Press came along that I started giving serious thought to leaving Samhain. After four years, I felt almost inexorably bound to Samhain, with an emotional connection that I’d certainly never had to my jobs as an occupational therapist. It was a difficult thing, contemplating leaving, giving up the easy camaraderie I had with the other editors, who I found an amazing source of information, talent and support, leaving behind all of the authors I’d worked with, many of whom I’d watched grow their careers from their debut books with me, and walking away from a company I felt entwined with.
But at the same time, I was ready to grow my career and do something that would help grow the digital publishing industry even further. So when I say the decision to leave Samhain was not made lightly, I mean the decision was made after weeks of sleepless nights, long talks with my husband, close friends and the partners at Quartet. And weeks of stress, anxiety, tears and a headache I was convinced had taken up permanent residence. Once I finalized the decision to leave, I still had to move past telling Samhain, my co-workers and authors. After that, there was a period of dealing with the public reaction to my departure, something I hadn’t anticipated. Shock, excitement, and from some, dismay and a sense of betrayal. All of it difficult since it was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made. At the time, I compared it to being similar to all of what I’d experienced when my first husband and I divorced.
Beginning work for Quartet was an amazing period of discovery and anticipation. I truly believe the industry has room for more quality digital publishers, and with the assembled team at Quartet, I believed we were in a fantastic position to create that press. I had an immense respect for my teammates and was flattered that they felt similarly about me, enough to woo me from my position at Samhain. So imagine my complete and utter shock when just a few weeks after I’d begun, I got an email stating the press was closing its doors. I had little information as to why or what occurred to cause the decision, and suddenly, there I was, playing my (urn)employment drama out in public again while trying to deal with they myriad of not-so-positive emotions I experienced.
This is where I realized how lucky I was because the outpouring of support was immense. I got blog comments, personal emails, messages on Twitter, Facebook, message boards and elsewhere offering sympathy, suggestions and any kind of support I needed. People I barely knew or didn’t know at all wrote. Friends and acquaintances put out the word that I was available for hire. No less than three companies emailed me that first day to soft query me about possible jobs. Sure, there were a few people who felt I’d somehow gotten what I deserved, but overall, overwhelmingly, the publishing community, from readers to authors to editors and publishers, let me know it was going to be okay, and that everything happens for a reason.
And you know what? They were right. You were all right. The day after Quartet announced it was closing its doors, I got a phone call from someone I admire tremendously. Some might call it a phone call offering the opportunity of a lifetime. Malle Vallik of Harlequin called to say, “I heard what happened, I’m really sorry but-this might be really good for us and we might have an interesting proposition for you.” Okay, hello! The Harlequin digital team wanted me to consult? And help with this new digital-only press they were building. And they thought there might be a spot for me at this digital-only press. Dear God. How much emotional rollercoaster can one person handle? Devastation and fear to instant euphoria? Harlequin was (and is) my dream publisher. They’re forerunners in the digital field, I’d been reading their books since fourth grade, and they throw the best RWA Nationals party. Heck yeah!
So here I am, almost two months after becoming publicly unemployed, and keeping Carina Press a secret for that entire time, finally able to share my news, my excitement and my joy with everyone. And finally able to publicly say thank you to everyone who supported me these past months, and who believed all this time that something awesome was right around the corner for me. I think I really did get what I deserved. I’m so glad you all were right when you told me that everything happens for a reason.