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An interview with Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s Digital...

Escape Publishing is the digital first imprint from Harlequin Australia.  They are current touring the romance blogosphere.  Escape currently has five books available for purchase and are open for submissions. Escape Publishing offered me the opportunity to ask a few questions, which I did.  The following are Ms. Cuthbert’s answers.I asked for a few more details from Harlequin Escape including the royalty structure. I heard back yesterday that it was 50% from the website and 40% from third party sales, both off net. This is apparently the same royalty schedule available at Carina Press as well.

1) What will Escape Publishing offer readers different from Riva or the new Harlequin Kiss line?
Escape is doing two things that are a bit different: first, we’re really focusing on Australian authors, voices, settings, and stories. That’s not to say that we’re not open to international submissions – we are – but our main goal is to bring the Aussies to the world.

Second, being digital-first, we’re offering a broad scope. We publish anything from 5000 to 250 000 words, any genre, subgenre, crossgenre, or new genre, as long as it’s romance, and we’re actively seeking stories that haven’t been able to find a home in print: that is, riskier titles, niche titles, experimental titles.

Kate Cuthbert2) Will the books be available worldwide simultaneously. If not, what are the anticipated release date differences?
Absolutely – we’re available globally from all the major e-retailers, as well as most smaller e-book sellers.

3) Where will readers be able to purchase the books?
Oops! Well see above, but readers can also buy them directly from our website: (that’s also a great place to find out about more about our titles, our authors, and our publishing model)

4) Is there a similarity in tone or sexuality or time period for the Escape line?
Not at all – we run the gamut. One of my personal goals for the line is to publish what readers want – and that means variety across the board, in story, voice, tone, sexuality, and length.

5) For authors, what are the royalty rates? Why Escape versus the other digital first imprints available?
Our royalties are among the highest in the industry: 50% for sales off the website, 40% for sales from third party retailers. But that’s almost a secondary consideration. Why Escape? Well, we’ve got a small, dedicated team – which makes us flexible. We’ve got incredibly quick turnarounds – at the moment we’re averaging just over two weeks for initial response, and just over three months from acceptance to publication. And we’ve got the experience – the Harlequin team at our back, with their history, their marketing, their understanding of romance.

6) Who is your target audience?
If I say readers, I sound deliberately vague, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. But it’s the true answer. More specifically, readers who love the genre, but haven’t necessarily always been able to find what they’re looking for. Readers who want something a little different, or even just a little variety. Readers who are interested in Australia and Australian voices!

7) Will these be romances or a range of different books and stories? If so, how will the romance reader know which books will deliver the emotionally satisfying conclusion?
All our books are romances – it’s the only restriction we’re putting on submissions. So they all focus on a romantic relationship, and they all have emotionally uplifting endings. I know – I’m doing all the reading, and I refuse to accept anything else :)

8) Will there be DRM on the books?
No – all our books are published without DRM or geographic restrictions.

9) What is the release schedule for books. (I.e., what day of the month and how many).
We’re aiming for a first of the month release every month. As to the number – we’re going to keep this fluid and release the titles we have ready to go. At the moment we’re looking at around 6 a month.

10) What are the lengths of the books.
Everything from 5000 words to 250 000 words.

If readers have any other questions, let me know and I’ll pass them on.

Edited to add: I stayed up all night reading “Grease Monkey Jive” which I bought for a whole 99c.  It was a great, long romance that actually shows two people falling in love.  Might be the best 99c book I read this year. For the U.S. readers, all the Escape books are currently priced at 99c.  The Australian price if $4.99.  This is a lot of bang for the buck.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Brian
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 08:36:42

    8) Will there be DRM on the books?
    No – all our books are published without DRM or geographic restrictions.

    Just bought ‘In Safe Hands’ at Amazon and it’s infected with DRM.

    Would be really nice if they’d publish word counts on their website so folks know if they’re getting a short, a novella, or something longer.

  2. Jane
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 09:14:39

    @Brian – I agree. I really wish word count or categorization (ie novella, short story, category, full length) were included somewhere.

  3. Darlynne
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 09:40:43

    I just bought Grease Monkey Jive because of your recommendation, Jane, but also because of one of the best beginnings I can remember reading. Well done, all.

    The pricing, however–.99 USD vs. 4.99 AUD–seems ridiculously unfair to Australians. What’s up with that? And I understand pages, not word count or file size. What is 633KB when it’s at home?

  4. Jane
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 09:44:16

    @Darlynne: There are some small editing issues. The author has a tendency toward repetition and there were three big errors (like hard instead of hand) but other than that, it looked well put together.

  5. Jane
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:14:12

    Oh, I should mention that there are several POVs and the POV shifts aren’t clearly marked by a section break. That bothered me.

  6. Brian
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:26:27

    @Jane: That kind of thing drives me nuts.

  7. Anthea Lawson
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 10:36:24

    I’m curious to know if the royalty rates quoted are on cover price, or ‘net’ proceeds — it makes quite a difference. :)

  8. ms bookjunkie
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:14:24

    At the website, what formats are the books available in? If more than one format is available, does the buyer get to download all formats or must she choose one?

  9. Gillian Archer
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 13:44:51

    @Anthea Lawson: I would guess net since those are the same rates as Carina who uses net now.

  10. Julia Broadbooks
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 13:53:10

    Thanks for the comment about Grease Monkey Jive. I nearly bought it yesterday after reading the great sample and then talked myself out of it when I couldn’t see if it was a short or a full length book. Off to buy!

  11. sarah Mayberry
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 14:23:37

    Just checked out Grease Monkey Jive on Amazon – it’s showing up at .99 down here in Australia, too. Which is good news. If it was 4.99 for Australians while US readers were having a lovely discount, I would be in serious danger of grinding my teeth to dust. Excited to see what Escape does for Australian authors.

  12. Jenny Schwartz
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:43:15

    I have a short story coming out with Escape Publishing in December (just to let you all know that I’m hugely excited and biased). I’m thrilled that they’re publishing short stories. That’s just awesome.

    I read Grease Monkey Jive the other day and loved the Australian voice of it. So real, and it felt Christmassy to me, which was nice. (To explain that, the ballroom dancing competitions used to be shown on TV on Christmas night here in Australia, and I’d just collapse there and watch all these gorgeous people dancing around while I was stuffed like a turkey).

    Chaos Born, which is another 99c launch book from Escape was also an original fantasy. It was interesting to encounter a really flawed heroine (but one I still enjoyed). Hot men, too ;)

  13. Bronwyn Jameson
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 19:39:35

    You had me sold on Grease Monkey Jive at 99c but I’m a Nook reader at the moment and can’t find it at B&N. I kind of expected that “all major e-retailers” would include B&N…or am I blind and they are there?

  14. Kaetrin
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 00:28:07

    After an initial stutter, I bought Grease Monkey Jive for 99c from Amazon last night (and I’m in Australia).

    I’m loving that there are no geo restrictions on these books.

  15. Jane
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 07:45:28

    @Bronwyn Jameson – I couldn’t find it on BN either. Nor Kobo.

  16. An interview with Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s Digital First Imprint | All about Digital Publishing for eBooks |
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 14:43:32

    […] Escape Publishing is the digital first imprint from Harlequin Australia.  They are current touring the romance blogosphere.  Escape currently has five books available for purchase and are open for …  […]

  17. Keziah Hill
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 15:04:53

    GMJ is on Kobo. So are all the other Escape books, at least in Australia.

  18. Brian
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 15:35:36

    @Keziah Hill:
    They don’t show on Kobo from the US. Maybe they set the geo-restrictions by accident?

    I also don’t see them at Books On Board, Diesel or All Romance and wonder if they plan to sell at more stores.

  19. Bronwyn Jameson
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 15:52:31

    Tx, Jane. Bummer. I guess I should be able to buy elsewhere and do whatever has to be done to sideload to Nook but, honestly, my reading time is limited and I’m one-click lazified.

    Kate/Keziah, do you know if the Escape books will be on B&N in the future?

  20. Megan S.
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 16:30:46

    I was all set to buy GMJ at such a good price, but in the U.S., I can’t find it at any of my preferred retailers (B&N, Kobo, BoB, ARE), it’s $4.99 at iTunes, and I prefer not to buy from Amazon when there’s DRM (because Calibre doesn’t always manage to strip it for me). So even though I know I’m left purchase-less due to my own preferences, I’m still a little disappointed. :/ I really hope Escape gets their books out wider, because they do sound great.

  21. Kate Cuthbert
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 16:47:18

    Hi Everyone,
    Jane suggested I come and answer some of your questions:
    1. We don’t put DRM on our titles, but some third party e-tailers will.
    2. Our Sony and Nook titles are still in testing – we’d hoped they’d be out by now, but hold tight, they are on their way.
    3. Thanks for the head’s up re: word count/novel-novella-short story classification. We’ll start implementing that immediately
    4. The Kobo thing is odd, and we’re looking in to that right now
    5. We’re working on partnerships with other third parties, including those mentioned, and I hope they’ll be finalised shortly.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions – I’m really happy to address them!


  22. Kate Cuthbert
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 16:52:44

    Also, thanks for helping us bug-check! It’s a huge help to us, and we can get on all the problems immediately.

  23. Brian
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 18:29:04

    @Kate Cuthbert:

    1. We don’t put DRM on our titles, but some third party e-tailers will.

    Amazon doesn’t require DRM (nor does anyone else I can think of), if you were referring to my earlier post.

  24. Bronwyn Jameson
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 02:37:04

    Kate, thanks for returning to answer questions. I’m holding tight and looking forward to reading Escape on Nook.

  25. Friday Fry-Up — Speakeasy
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 19:23:21

    […] Dear Author interviews Kate Cuthbert, the editor of Harelquin Australia’s recently launched Escape fiction line […]

  26. shel
    Dec 02, 2012 @ 16:10:55

    Canadian who wants to buy from Kobo here. Grease Monkey Jive is not available (Ainslie Paton’s name comes up in the search bar when you type her first name, but no actual book listing comes up in the search.)

    Chaos Born, In Safe Hands, Christmas Wishes, Chains of Revenge are the titles I can see.

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