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Monday Midday Links: Romance News I Gathered in New York

Romance gossip I picked up in New York (unattributed to protect the innocent).

  • The next hot thing appears to be the straight contemporary patterned after the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr.   Several houses are trying to capitalize on this through marketing and repackaging.   Mariah Stewart of Ballantine and Toni Blake from Avon are examples of this.   The Toni Blake cover changes are striking.   Here are her past covers and this is the cover for the upcoming “Sugar Creek” novel.    Robyn Carr’s books remind me of the trope that Suzanne Brockmann perfected and that is the slow build of a number of interconnected relationships over a period of books. In some sense, Carr’s band of alpha men (almost all are former military which is kind of ironic because military man does not equal alpha, but whatever) are different incarnations of the SEAL Team, Brotherhood stories that made Brockmann and Ward so popular.   This will give me a good excuse to read Blake. I have heard good things about her last book.
  • Speaking of Ward, her next Black Dagger Brotherhood book featuring Xhex and John is put to bed and ready for publication.   I have no spoilers.
  • Suzanne Brockmann is publishing a straight contemporary (with maybe some suspense) in mass market form this summer. It will NOT be tied to her existing SEAL series.   I was told that this was more like her early books like Hearthrob and Bodyguard.
  • Some publishers were taken aback by RWA’s extensive questionnaire that forms the basis of who is determined to be a “qualifying market.”   Some of the publishers who have responded have done so with vague answers and some have not responded at all.
  • Obviously this was done because of Harlequin’s foray into the vanity publishing/publishing services market with Dell Arte Press.   One thing I was told was that there was never any referral link in the rejection letter.   Maybe it was considered at one time but it was never implemented.   It is in the Thomas Nelson rejection letters, I believe, so that might have been how it became “fact”.   Harlequin could have done a better job of explaining that, though.
  • Harlequin was very pleased with its giveaway last year and continues to see success in its digital programs. In 2010, Harlequin has a goal of digitizing 2010 backlist titles.   They will need suggestions.   I’m going to open a thread next week for this.

A new author coop called A Writer’s Work has opened and will sell ebooks direct to readers.   Nicole Byrd, Jasmine Cresswell, Lori Handeland, Holly Jacobs and Patricia Rice are familiar to me. The other authors are Fran Baker, Becky Barker, Ginger Chambers, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Elizabeth Kary, Patricia McLinn, Leigh Riker, Karen van der Zee.   You can download the books for a 72 hour period via a download link sent via email.   The downloads are in epub and PDF.   At the recommendation of Shannon Stacey and Jaci Burton, I purchased four Patricia McLinn books.

Are these works protected?

Absolutely – by copyright laws.

However, we are offering these works without electronic passwords or encryption or DRM (Digital Rights Management) because of the difficulties they impose on readers. We are hopeful that, in turn, readers will honor our rights. If we find that trust is abused, we will need to revisit this decision.

I love this idea and hope it succeeds.   I’ve bookmarked it, but I wonder how I will remember to return month after month?


The first Dell Arte Press book has shown up at Amazon. It does not look good. The blurb is almost laughably bad.   I thought it was curious that there was already one used copy and that there were no digital copies. Seeing this blurb, I think it is a good thing that there was a push by Harlequin authors to have the Harlequin brand removed from Dell Arte.   I know I didn’t fully appreciate the branding thing at first,but you don’t want this kind of work to be attached to the Harlequin brand.


Samhain is offering its freebies to both Barnes and Noble ebook readers and Kindle readers.

  • 3/1/2010 to 3/14/2010: Operation Sheba: Super Agent Series, Book 1 by Misty Evans
  • 3/15/2010 to 3/28/2010: Male Call: Hot Zone Book 1 by Denise A. Agnew

Grand Central isn’t doing many of their ebook specials like they had last year. This month’s special is A Field of Darkness by Corneille Read for a price of $2.99.


Dorchester and Ellora’s Cave are doing audio. From Dorchester press release:

Audio Realms is now producing paranormal romance audio versions of novels by New York Times bestselling authors C. L. Wilson, Nina Bangs and Katie MacAlister, as well as some of the more groundbreaking names in horror and paranormal romance. In addition to listings onwww.Dorchesterpub.com, readers will now be able to visit  www.AudioRealms.com for classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror,  www.DarkRealmsAudio.com for urban horror and  www.DarkDesires.com for paranormal and other romance. To purchase audio books in downloadable MP3 format, readers can visitwww.theaudiobookshop.com.

There is no press release from EC but you can see the audio titles here. H/t to Anne Douglas.


The Australian Romance Readers Association released its 2009 survey results. (Why don’t we have a RRA?) The results show that the readers are primarily between the ages of 21-55, read 1-10 books per month, and read primarily romances. It’s a PDF download with pie charts for each data point. H/t to Sarah M for the link.


Maili pointed us to this article describing an archeological find placing multicultural characters in Britain during the Roman period.

The Ivory Bangle Lady remains were found in August 1901 in a stone coffin unearthed in Bootham, where a group of graves were found. The grave has been dated to the latter half of the fourth century. Items buried with the Lady included expensive luxury items such African elephant ivory bracelets, beads, pendants and other jewelry, a blue glass jug, a glass mirror, and Yorkshire jet. A rectangular bone mount, possibly for a wooden coffin, was also found in the grave. An inscription on the bone, "Hail sister, may you live in God," suggests the woman held religious beliefs and may have been Christian. She is believed to have been one of the richest inhabitants of the city.

Will research like this allow for more diverse historical romances?


Motoko Rich tries to explain the economics of book publishing for us. I have a few emails that say, in summary, that the cost of publishing a book varies wildly that no generalizations can be made. For what it’s worth, I think these articles can be helpful because, hopefully, it will generate more discussion and more information being provided.   Numbers based on a hardcover of $26

  • Bookseller pays publisher half ($13)
  • Print, storage, and shipment is approximately $3.25
  • Cover design, typesetting, copyediting: $.80
  • Marketing: $1
  • Author royalty: $3.90

Costs decline on a per unit basis the more copies sold except for the print/storage and shipment, I presume.    Unearned advances can actually result in a much higher royalty for an author.

A consultant to the publishing industry argues that high ebook prices can slow ebook adoption. This is probably true if BISG data is correct in that affordability is one of the driving factors behind readers moving digital.


Kassia Krozser provides a great recap of Tools of Change and the challenges ahead.

I've watched this conference evolve from a curiosity to a conversation. The "tools" of "change" are not always apparent. Sometimes the tool is as simple as attending something outside your wheelhouse; sometimes it's hearing how someone else does something and realizing parts will work for you. It's the "tools, not rules" thing. If anything, this year's TOC highlighted the need for even more nuts-and-bolts discussions -’ and there were quite a few of those mixed in with equally important long-term vision sessions.


I have dozens of more links to blog about but I think this is enough to digest for one day. It’s great to be back blogging again!

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

34 Comments

  1. Ridley
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 11:46:45

    The thought of Ellora’s Cave audiobooks is both horrifying and hilarious.

  2. Susan/DC
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 11:58:48

    Interesting change in the style of Toni Blake’s covers. I actually found the new style insipid, but then I’ve long known that I’m not the target for this.

  3. Stevie
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 12:23:47

    Jane said, re the HaHo vanity launch:

    ‘One thing I was told was that there was never any referral link in the rejection letter. Maybe it was considered at one time but it was never implemented.’

    Perhaps the person who told you that hadn’t had enough coffee, because when this was going down Malle said:

    ‘Sure! There will be a line about Harlequin Horizons as a
    self-publishing option on standard rejection letters with an
    option to opt-in via website.’

    I’m quite surprised that you have forgotten that, though possibly you just need more coffee as well…

  4. mythicagirl
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 12:25:45

    Maili,

    Thanks so much for the article, and Jane thanks for the link on the Roman Era. I love info like this.

    Oh, and Magic Under Glass has a new cover.
    Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Under-Glass-Jaclyn-Dolamore/dp/1599904306/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267467881&sr=1-1

  5. Lisa Hendrix
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 12:36:13

    I don’t know why there’s no US equivalent to the ARRA, but I can tell you that Romance Writers of America does in-depth reader surveys on a regular basis. The most recent was done in 2009, and the information is available on the organization site:

    2009 Readership Statistics

  6. Jane
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 12:37:24

    @Stevie I actually couldn’t remember what the status was of the rejection letter. So it looks like they considered it but never implemented.

  7. MaryK
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 13:08:32

    re: Kindle freebies

    One of the Samhain freebies inspired me to finally download Kindle for PC. It was ridiculously easy and is ridiculously easy to download the freebies. I can see I’ll have to exercise some willpower to not actually buy Kindle books.

    BTW, I’ve no idea where PCKindle is saving the downloads. I wanted to save them in a special folder segregated from my bought books, but don’t see any option to pick a location. Really don’t like that aspect.

  8. Stevie
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 13:15:50

    @Jane:

    In which case Harlequin really is heading for the landfill, since they forgot to let their CEO Donna Hayes know about it:

    ‘As such, Harlequin's rejection letter templates will soon be modified to encourage the author to consider the wide range of publishing options now available to aspiring authors including submitting to another house, resubmitting to Harlequin, ePublishing, self-publishing, or working with Dellarte Press.’

    That letter was addressed to MWA, and was instrumental in that organisation delisting Harlequin on precisely those grounds…

    http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2009/12/mwa-delists-harlequin.html

  9. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 13:34:38

    The first Dell Arte Press book has shown up at Amazon. It does not look good. The blurb is almost laughably bad.

    The blurb has grammatical issues, which does not bode well for the book itself . . . ouch!

    In which case Harlequin really is heading for the landfill, since they forgot to let their CEO Donna Hayes know about it:

    I was going to point this out, but Stevie beat me to it. If HQ is now trying to downplay the whole thing as a misunderstanding, they are full of sh*t.

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 13:36:54

    Oh, and Magic Under Glass has a new cover.

    And it’s a thousand times better than the original even if you put the race issue aside IMO.

  11. Darlene Marshall
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 14:36:47

    I followed your link and took a look at the Delle Arte Press novel at Amazon. A book description that contains wince-worthy grammatical errors isn’t likely to make me press the “buy” button. Is Harlequin worried at all about their brand being identified with publications of this quality?

  12. MariaESchneider
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 15:06:29

    That blurb for Delle Art is confusing and…yanno, I thought it a shame Harlequin was getting into vanity press before. It’s downright theft if they charged someone for “helping” with that blurb.

  13. Sandy James
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 15:24:16

    Yes, the Dell Art blurb is awful, and it just doesn’t look like a good read. However, the author is laughing her butt off because she’s selling copies due to all the publicity that she’s the first Dell Art author. Jane, I’d LOVE to have you review one of my books, even if you hate it!! At least my name would be out there…

  14. stevie
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:06:46

    @Kalen Hughes:

    CaoPaux over on Writer Beware has tracked down some info; the book apparently started out at Lulu thus:

    ‘Wren hates Dargan because he took her virginity without permission. Dargan hates Wren for trapping him into an unwanted marriage. … ‘

    Frankly the new blurb is a step backward.

    As for them peddling sh*t, I’m not terribly surprised; Harlequin really does think we are as dumb as a bag of rocks. They demonstrated their contempt for their authors pretty comprehensively; given that sort of corporate culture it’s entirely predictable that they hold their customers in contempt as well…

  15. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:09:54

    However, we are offering these works without electronic passwords or encryption or DRM (Digital Rights Management) because of the difficulties they impose on readers. We are hopeful that, in turn, readers will honor our rights. If we find that trust is abused, we will need to revisit this decision.

    I hope they don’t mean that if it shows up on pirate sites, they’ll add DRM. That’s going to happen DRM or no DRM. DRM will only make legitimate readers less inclined to give them a try.

    But I am beyond thrilled to see Pat McLinn’s OOP backlist available digitally!

  16. Brian
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:23:58

    @MaryK:

    Your Kindle 4 PC stuff should be in your Documents folder inside a folder titled “My Kindle Content”

  17. Darlynne
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:27:58

    Jane, further to the economics of book publishing, this article from The Atlantic, which was in response to a New York Times article today, cracked me up: http://tinyurl.com/ybrrmlw.

    When a commenter to the original post asked how much money actually goes to the author, someone else replied: “17 cents. Total, not per book.”

    I admit my opinion of big publishers has sunk to an all time low lately, so this article appealed to me.

  18. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:44:09

    @stevie:

    ‘Wren hates Dargan because he took her virginity without permission. Dargan hates Wren for trapping him into an unwanted marriage. … ‘

    In the real world we call that rape, and we call the men who do it something other than “hero” . . . and generally when a girl is forced into marriage with her rapist, he’s not getting a whole lot of sympathy from me.

    I wish her the best of luck, but she should be aware that the mild flurry of masochistic readers being sent her way today will be reviewing her book come tomorrow . . . Is it wrong that I can’t wait to check out the non-friends&family reviews in a week or two?

  19. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:49:48

    @Darlynne:

    My favorite part is:

    $2.00 to cover wild overpayments to 15-minute celebrities or Washington bigshots for books that will never earn back their huge advances but the cost has to be amortized somehow.

  20. MaryK
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 19:12:51

    @Brian: Thanks! That’s what I wanted it to do so I guess it works out.

  21. Kim
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 19:24:22

    Thank you, Jane, for the tidbits you provide us each week. I feel more connected to the publishing industry by reading your website. I would like to comment on your reference to the military.

    You wrote, “In some sense, Carr's band of alpha men (almost all are former military which is kind of ironic because military man does not equal alpha, but whatever) are different incarnations of the SEAL Team, Brotherhood stories that made Brockmann and Ward so popular.”

    Unlike Suzanne Brockman's books about one Seal team, Robyn's characters are various veterans returning home to Virgin River. In fact, her heroes have been scarred by the war, so if they appear to be Alpha Males, then I credit Robyn for her accurate portrayal. War is hell and we see its impact on the returning soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coasties, too.

    I agree with you that a military man does not equal alpha. Example No. 1 – my hubby. He is a 22-year veteran, currently serving in his third “joint” job and his third “overseas” tour. I interviewed him this morning:

    Me: Are you an Alpha Male?
    Hubby (shaving): No.

    Me: Are most military men alpha males?
    Hubby (about to brush his teeth): No.

    Me: Why do you think readers/authors/editors equate military men with alpha males?
    Hubby (putting on his uniform): Because those in the public eye – soldiers fighting in Iraq – are trained to perform a mission that readers equate to Alpha males. Even military personnel deployed for disaster relief take on a role associated with Alpha males. It's the nature of the business.

    Example No. 2 – I sorted through my TBR pile and found several books with military characters from Cindy Dees (AF veteran) and Catherine Mann (Air Force spouse). They had an equal number of Male Alpha Military Heroes as Female Alpha Military Heroines. Editors say, “Write what you know.” Perhaps Cindy and Catherine not only write what they know, but also write what will sell. Will readers buy (or will publishers print) a story with a Beta male in an Alpha mission?

    Example No. 3 – Series books frequently offer stereotypes for Alpha males – the Greek Tycoon, the Italian Playboy, the Sexy Sheik, the Crusty Cop, and the Raw Ranger. Perhaps readers, authors, and publishers consider these these characters to be Alpha males. Will readers buy (or will publishers print) a story with an Beta male playing the part as an Alpha character?

    I encourage you to read Robyn Carr, Cindy Dees, Catherine Mann, and other authors with military connections. They offer a wide variety of military characters, male and female, Alpha and Betas, from all races, heritage, and religions. In the end, they understand that the military only succeeds if every team member contributes to the mission. Above All, This We'll Defend, Semper Paratus, Semper Fidelis, Non sibi sed patriae

  22. MaryK
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 19:50:38

    @Kim:

    I interviewed him this morning:

    :D Cute interview.

    Will readers buy … a story with a Beta male in an Alpha mission? …Will readers buy … a story with an Beta male playing the part as an Alpha character?

    I would. I’m a sucker for Betas. :)
    I’m not at all an Alpha female, myself. I’m not sure what I am, but it’s not Alpha. However, I can assume the role of Alpha if the occasion warrants it or I’m sufficiently motivated. I think the Alpha/Beta distinction is way too cut and dried in Romance.

  23. Kim
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 20:37:36

    If any author is seeking Beta Male Military Hero research material, feel free to contact me. Frankly, I know more Betas than Alphas. Actually, there are probably more Betas than Alphas in the Air Force. It takes 12 airmen on the ground to support one pilot in the sky (maintenance, fuel, air traffic control, personnel, finance, computers, etc.) While a pilot may play the role of an Alpha, he's probably a Beta at heart. In fact, I believe most military personnel are Betas when out of uniform because they give of themselves so selflessly to country, community, and family.

    I am very happy with my Beta Hero who generously supports my book habit, convention fees, and European Travel.

    Thanks, Jane and Maili, for the link to the archeological find in Britain. Lady of the Ivory Bangle would make a fine romance title! I agree with Jane's suggestion that we have more diverse historical romances. Jane, Sarah from Smart Bitches, and Kathe Robin from Romantic Times discussed this last year at the RT Booklovers' Convention – all three agreed that it was time for exotic locales … or perhaps an exotic character in England, such as the Lady of the Ivory Bangle. While some historicals have featured Indian servants accompanying their British employers back to England … how about a nonwhite as a heroine?

    Four summers ago, Beta Hubby and I traveled to Scotland and toured Scone Palace, home of the Earl of Mansfield. It is also the location where the Stone of Scone once laid as a seat for Scottish kings to be crowned (the stone is now on display at Edinburgh Castle with the Honours of Scotland). Scone Castle has a beautiful art collection, including a painting of the Earl's Daughter and her half white/half Indian cousin (the Earl's brother fathered the child). I was impressed that the aristocracy would actually include the “natural child” in a painting, depicting her as one of the family. The curator indicated that she was, indeed, treated with respect in the household. I recall her name being Dodi, but I am unable to find any information about her on the Internet. Perhaps she could be a Alpha heroine to compliment a Beta hero.

    Kim Adams
    SOS Military Liaison
    [email protected]

  24. Anon76
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 00:49:10

    I’m wondering if Dear Author will be providing a review of the Dellarte Press book in the near future? Especially since the topic was so heavily debated here.

    A clear dividing line seemed to exist between those feeling the HQ venture was foolish and predatory, and those feeling that the removing of the “gatekeepers” from the publishing equation was a step in the right direction for readers…and authors.

  25. ShellBell
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 02:42:31

    The first Dell Arte Press book has shown up at Amazon. It does not look good. The blurb is almost laughably bad. I thought it was curious that there was already one used copy and that there were no digital copies.

    Interesting that the 3 reviews for Dargan’s Desire are 5 stars and that the reviewers are all new reviewers on the Amazon site.

  26. currently anon
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 03:38:53

    Ivory bangle lady! Under my real name, I work for the museum that will be hosting her from August 1st onwards. The African stuff isn’t a surprise to us, of course :) And she’s not the only one.

    (I am incredibly exicted about the reopening. Romans! Dinosaurs! Medieval treasures! I love my job)

  27. Maili
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 03:51:15

    @Kim: Dido Belle! Info here: BBC special Inside Out: Abolition of the British Slave Trade

    @Jane
    Thank you for providing a link to the Lady of Ivory Bangle article. I hope this will encourage authors and editors opening up to possibilities of having multicultural romances set in the UK and Europe. I have been saying for a long time the UK has been multicultural for centuries, so it’s good that more articles are surfacing, doing away the Victorian-era editorial decisions to remove chunks of British multicultural history from our history books. *a-hem* Excuse me, I’d better sit on my hands before I’d work myself up to another rather tiresome rant. :D

    Carr's band of alpha men (almost all are former military which is kind of ironic because military man does not equal alpha, but whatever)

    Heh! I’ll go further by saying this: I don’t believe the Alpha / Beta / Gamma / Omega structure exists among humans. Probably because I like to think human behaviour is much more complex (and interesting) than that. Then again, I have never been a fan of stereotypes and cliches, so that’s probably another reason why I don’t, or want to, believe in such a thing.

  28. Kim
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 05:25:48

    Thanks, Maili, for the link to Dido Belle. I have a postcard of the painting somewhere in a box of souvenirs.

    Indeed, the UK is a hot bed of artifacts, archeology, and ancient people. Beta Hubby and I traveled to Wales two summers ago and I was just amazed at the Roman Ruins (and crumbling castles) around Cardiff. While Beta Hubby played golf at the Celtic Manor Resort (home of the 2010 Ryder Cup), I bought a CADW pass to explore the Roman Ruins in the area. Must go back to Wales!

  29. Patricia Rice
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 08:15:49

    Thanks for noting the AWritersWork.com launch! If you sign up for a newsletter, we’ll notify you monthly of new releases.

    Author-owned e-publishing may become the wave of the future, but for now, we’re experimenting. If we can’t make a profit because the books are pirated instead of purchased, we’ll go under. I don’t foresee changing to DRM unless the technology makes it possible to read the format on all e-readers.

  30. Jane
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 09:15:43

    @ShellBell I’m still mostly befuddled by the used copy. So strange!

  31. Jane
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 09:18:04

    @Anon76 Probably not. It’s clear from the blurb that this book isn’t likely to be a quality piece. Not every self published book will be worth reading just like not every epublished book is worth reading. It doesn’t invalidate the business model.

  32. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 10:54:04

    @Anon76:

    A clear dividing line seemed to exist between those feeling the HQ venture was foolish and predatory, and those feeling that the removing of the “gatekeepers” from the publishing equation was a step in the right direction for readers…and authors.

    I’m sorry, but the “gatekeepers” can and have been removed by NON-predatory self-publishing services like Lulu. Clearly predatory vanity presses have also been in existence for years (e.g. Publish America). The only thing special or new about DellArte is their mind-boggling prices and their disingenuous promises.

  33. Anon76
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 11:45:31

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I entirely agree. I tried to edit my comment after posting to reflect that, but my puter went spaz and wouldn’t let me.

  34. Estara
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 11:50:20

    I love this idea and hope it succeeds. I've bookmarked it, but I wonder how I will remember to return month after month?

    They’re offering a newsletter, so I guess subscribing to that might remind you?

    I like the idea that Book View Café is using – they’ve had a Blog Home from the start and the writers share on which days they have to post. At the moment they’re doing a lot of great posts on how to go about submitting, on what to be careful of when you write, on what an editor does, Judith Tarr does an in-depth series about real horse knowledge applicable in historical or current fiction from riding to horse-breeding farms to feed to tack, etc.

    You can comment on the posts (it’s another wordpress powered blog) and they tend to answer quickly – especially Sherwood Smith ^^.

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