I met with Harlequin today and asked some of your questions.
Updated x2: One of the things I totally forgot to mention is that Harlequin and all of its worldwide offices are moving toward simultaneous worldwide launch so no more early releases over at Mills & Boon before they are released here in the U.S. That’s a boon for readers and authors. For authors, it makes it easier for them to promote their book because social media is not bounded by geography and it’s easier for readers because they can now find their favorite titles available everywhere at the same time. That said, this is a slow moving process but Harlequin Presents / Mills & Boon Modern is up next.
- About 500 Harlequin Treasury titles will be released in July.
- DRM is an ongoing discussion. There is no unanimity amongst authors about DRM. I posited that perhaps that is why Tor went DRM free but not the rest of Macmillan. The Tor authors, particularly the big influential authors, have no love for DRM. I asked whether Carina Press titles had suffered piracy at a greater rate than the DRM’ed books and I was told “not to their knowledge” although someone within digital might have a more accurate answer.
- Harlequin would love to publish more multicultural books but haven’t received many manuscripts featuring characters of color. They really want to see those manuscripts. They indicated that Abby Green’s The Stolen Bridefeaturing a Bollywood actress was well received.
- Superromance titles are going up to 85,000 words
- Nocturne and Romantic Suspense will be increasing the word count. Update to add actual word counts:
- Harlequin Romantic Suspense – Old word count 50,000 to 60,000/New word count
- Harlequin Nocturne – Old word count 70,000/New word count – 80,000-85,000
- They published 550 authors last year and are always looking for more.
- They would like to collaborate with authors on self publishing projects (“rising tide lifts all boats” sort of thing)
- All the series lines will receive a refresh in 2013, some more than others.
- There will be a number of digital first initiatives from Harlequin, separate from Carina Press
- They are very proud of their editorial teams and the editors undergo regular “employee enrichment” including reading writing books, attending continuing education seminars, and the like.
- Harlequin will soon be accepting online submissions. The email addresses will be available on the submission pages of the Harlequin.com site.
I asked for a clarification of the lines, particularly Mira and HQN. The “Harlequin Mira” line as it is now called focuses on commercial literary fiction, and women’s fiction, including erotic fiction. HQN is the single title romance line.
Harlequin did have two big pieces of news. First, in February 2013, Harlequin will launch “Harlequin Kiss” which was describe to me as fun, flirty, contemporary with a range of explicitness. I asked what the difference was from Blaze and was told that the Blaze hero is more of the guy next door and the “Harlequin Kiss” line will feature “the modern alpha hero”. (a rich guy with feelings?) The explicitness will be conveyed through the cover art and the back cover blurb. I asked whether it would be similar to the RIVA line from Mills & Boon and was told yes. RIVA has been suspended at Mills & Boon temporarily and will be back in the summer. Update x3: The Senior Editor Bryony Green from the UK office will be acquiring manuscripts for KISS.
Finally, Harlequin is going to be running “So You Think You Can Write” worldwide and there will be a reader component. More details to come.
Entangled Publishing’s Success
Today at BEA, I was pointed to this post by Entangled Publishing. Despite my skepticism about Entangled Publishing’s business plan which allowed for everyone in the publishing chain to earn a percentage of a book’s sales, it appears that Entangled is doing quite well. Entangled has sold 435,000 ebooks worldwide in three and a half months, making them on par with Ellora’s Cave who told CNBC at RT that EC moved about 150,000 copies of books per month. Entangled is also distributing mass market titles and three of their adult titles are picked for Wal-Mart.com’s “Summer Beach Reads.” Entangled’s most successful book, Jennifer Probst’s category title “The Marriage Bargain” has sold more than 313,000 with the author earning $375,000 in royalties. Her editor earned more than $45,000, the copy editor and publicist more than $10,000 each and the cover artist made $3,000.
Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn and Weekend Agreement by Barbara Wallace both sold “just under $18,000 copies”. The remaining titles have thus sold around 86,000 copies in total.
One way in which Entangled has been able to offer such a robust royalty to their authors is by availing themselves of the 70/30 split offered through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Where other small publishers work wholesale agreements at a 50% cut, Entangled has used the self publishing platform to leverage higher royalties for their authors. It is a workaround that other small press publishers should look into, particularly when Amazon seems to be asking for more percentage points under the wholesale agreement.
I asked Amazon and they said:
Both authors and publishers use our platforms. If the terms and the tools of KDP and/or CreateSpace fit their needs, we are happy to make their titles available to readers. The print on demand solution solves a risk in holding inventory, making CreateSpace an attractive option for the small publisher. The main objective here is connecting readers with great books. We are focused on providing easy and free tools with great royalty rates to content providers of all types to make more books available for readers.
BEA Closing Thoughts
I was asked whether I would come back and I can’t decide. I really disliked the trade show aspect of BEA. It was incredibly loud and frankly the books offered don’t have a lot of interest to me. That said, I’ve never had a chance to interview the Kobo or Createspace people and I was able to meet bloggers that I would not have ordinarily met, like Allison Book Marks and Thea and Ana from The Booksmugglers.
I wish the BEA Bloggercon was more awesome and maybe if all of us interested bloggers band together with programming ideas, we can help to make it into the conference we would like it to be.