An interview with Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s Digital First Imprint
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.
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.
2) 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: www.escapepublishing.com.au (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.