Thursday Midday Links: Is Harlequin Trying to Move the Brand Away from Romance?
I was contacted last week about a program called “The Fresh Air Fund”. The program sets up host families for children in need. You can check out more at this link.
Jon L is the creator of a new blog which uses the Amazon API to try and create lists of new releases and pre-orders for various genres, one of which is romance. New blog is called newebook releases.blogspot.com. John is not a romance reader and has not done a lot of editing to his list, however, it appears to be a good resource.
Some of the links that may be of interest are:
- Romance preorders, books available for preorder that will be released in June (as calculated at the end of May).
- Romance books released up to June 1
Jon is fielding questions and comments about how to make this list more usable so please go over and give some input if you feel that this would be useful for you.
BookCountry, the self publishing and genre book community arm of Penguin, hosted an interview with Adam Wilson, a Harlequin Books Associate Editor.
DP: What are the trends in romance for HQN right now? What specifically have you been looking for in an acquisition so far in 2011?
AW: I kind of hate discussing “trends” because potential authors pick them up and run with them a little too literally. As you know, forecasting is always difficult when the typical lead-time to market is one year. However, MIRA has been expanding its trade program, especially by bringing in more commercial literary projects, so we definitely see that as a trend. In the YA world, dystopian is still going strong, and we’re pretty excited about what we see as a contemporary romance strain coming in there, too. Personally, I love seeing the trials of ‘normal’ kids, instead of 100% vampire-populated schools.
I’ve personally come to think of projects less in terms of “romance” than in terms of “women readers.” So, when I mention what I’m looking for, I’m thinking along those lines. Will there be a love story involved? 99% of the time, yes. But for me, romance can be such a loaded term that it really doesn’t say much about the rich texture of the various storytellers we publish.
Is Harlequin trying to move away from the romance label? I’ve wondered about that with the offerings from HQN and MIRA that seem less romance focused. I’m becoming a little leery of the books in those lines because I am unsure about what kind of resolutions will be included in the stories. It’s an interesting interview. Adam Wilson did a number of acquisitions for the Spice line which is definitely more erotica than erotic romance. I’ve actually stopped buying and reading Spice Briefs because they are too focused on erotica. What’s everyone else feeling on this?
The end of this month was to be the deadline by which apps which played or displayed content purchased outside of Apple’s ecosystem had to either start offering in app buying links or else. This policy affected reading apps because there was no way, under Agency pricing, that Amazon et al could continue to offer its apps and still make any kind of profit. Under Agency, these retailers only get 30% of the sale and for in app purchases, Apple would demand 30% of the sale. Fortunately, Apple has “blinked” as one headline suggests. The new guidelines state the following:
Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app.
I think that this is vague enough to allow Amazon to have a link that launches safari and loads a web page that tells readers that they can download a web app (this would be outside the apple store) to make their Kindle purchases.
Read more at MacRumors.
I have no idea whether this is a legitimate company but I figured I would post it with the caveat emptor proviso.
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Digital Bookworld had a post about how publicists (and authors) can develop relationships (business ones) with bloggers. I liked this part:
It’s good to know the traffic of blogs, but don’t dismiss bloggers with less traffic. It is important to look at the “full reach” of a blogger. Sometimes blog features from smaller blogs can generate more chatter on social networks. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook to check out their social networks. Some bloggers post reviews on multiple sites so they can be more valuable for that reason alone. Remember also, that placements on niche sites (with less traffic) can sometimes be more effective than placements on a large general interest site.
Smaller bloggers definitely can make a big impact. For authors, there are links to bloggers by genre but I would warn you that the list is not very accurate. Many blogs listed in the romance don’t review romance and the major romance blogs that I visit aren’t on there. Smart Bitches, Bookpushers, Booksmugglers, Smexy Books, Bookbinge, Katidom, LiterarySluts, KristieJ, Wendy, etc.
I qualified relationships here because I think some readers and maybe some bloggers assume relationships lead to dishonesty in blogging. Relationships just means that you trust the other person in a business sense. For example, I have a business relationship with various publicists including the ones at Avon. After I tweeted about the deals yesterday, I wrote up a post about the deals and let Avon know that I was doing the post. At first we thought that there were only about a dozen books on sale but then we found out there were over 60. Avon sent me a list of books that I could post. I turned the list into buy links and posted them here. But my relationship with Avon that facilitated the list of books being sent to me doesn’t mean I’m going to give all Avon books a positive grade and Avon knows that. A relationship works both ways, with them understanding that we have an obligation and duty of being honest and forthright in our reviews and that if we violate that obligation, our recommendations become meaningless.
I think the booksmugglers have a great post about how bloggers are not subordinate to publishers and do not work for publishers.
This makes us frustrated because we are not publisher subordinates. We aren’t their employees. As awesome as free books are, they aren’t really that huge of an incentive. If you, dear reader, are anything like us Smugglers, you probably buy a shameful amount of books on your own. Here at Smuggler Headquarters, we buy just as many books (who are we kidding – we probably buy more) as we get for “free.”
We bloggers do what we do because we love reading. Because of this shared love for reading, we occupy a unique position in the increasingly effective online world – people trust us and our opinions. Or, they hate us and our opinions. The point is, people hear us and engage, individually and collectively. This amounts to a helluva lot in a world where professional review outlets are shrinking and communities are becoming more socially driven by the powers of teh interwebs.
We celebrate and promote the deals, books, and concepts of our choosing and not that of any other publisher or author. And any relationships we have with authors are premised on the very same idea. The blogger relationship with the readership is inviolate and we can do nothing that would compromise that relationship. The authors and publicists and editors that we know and have relationships with understand this or we don’t have relationships with them. Boy, I used relationships a lot but you get my drift right?
This is no different than what Rose Fox says at PW:
If you fear that a friend of yours is not sensible and will be offended by you not automatically declaring their work the best ever simply because you are friends, either stop being friends with them or cope with their irrationality, but don’t pass the buck. Your friends are your problem.
Jeff Bezos gave an in-depth statements at the Amazon.com shareholder meeting. If you want to know more about Amazon’s philosophy (they aren’t afraid of failure) and where they are going (to continue to innovate), these statements are worth a read. One interesting point Jeff Bezos made was that the worst thing that comes out of a failing project is increased operating margin when the failed project finally gets the ax.
I’ve been hearing some CRAZY “self” publishing deals agents are striking with their authors. These publishing agreements shouldn’t be passing the smell test and RWA shouldn’t be allowing these publishing houses disguised as agencies to come and accept pitches but so much secrecy is surrounding these deals, that I think it’s going to continue to get worse before it gets better. Peter Cox at Redhammer goes in detail as to why agents publishing their authors books is asking for trouble.
Maybe those agents who have cut these sort of deals haven’t really considered all the implications – I don’t know. I certainly hope they have great liability insurance.
I also hope they fully understand how to publish their clients effectively in the digital domain. I hope they have all the necessary technical and marketing expertise and resources to do a great online publishing job. I hope they won’t stint on the advertising and marketing budgets. I hope they won’t favor one client ahead of another. I hope the contract will have a review period which will allow the author to go elsewhere if the agent makes a hash of it. Fingers crossed on all those points.