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Hot Books for Fall: Spotlight on Berkley by Editor Cindy...

Berkley is an imprint of Penguin books. It provides one of the largest array of books within the romance genre of any publisher on the market. Under the Berkley insignia, you’ll find authors like Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh, and Erin McCarthy who write exciting and sexy paranormals to historicals from RITA winner, Jennifer Ashley, and RITA nominee, Claudia Dain to Bestselling contemporaries from Julie Kenner and Lora Leigh. It is also the home of authors mega bestsellers Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. Berkley takes chances with authors and so I am always excited to see what is coming next from this imprint. Cindy Hwang, Executive Editor of Berkley, sat down and gave us the scoop on what Berkley is looking for and what it is publishing this fall.


Q: Cindy, I understand that Berkley does not give publisher spotlights at Nationals so having you share your thoughts with as an editor is a bit of a treat. What do you acquire and what are you looking for in a manuscript? Is it a particular genre such as contemporary versus paranormal?

Berkley publishes romance primarily in the Berkley Sensation imprint. The number of Sensation titles each month can vary, but there are usually 4 mass market original titles and 2 trade paperback originals per month. Because Sensation has a sizable list, we (meaning all the Berkley editors who acquire romance) can and try to have a mix of different kinds of books each month–we actively look for and acquire romances in all subgenres, from historicals to contemporaries, paranormals to romantic suspense. The list is also a mix of new authors and established stars-we’re always looking for exciting new voices to add to our list. We also try to publish at least 1 contemporary and 1 historical a month. As far as what we’re looking for, we’re open to pretty much everything–the most important thing is voice, regardless of subgenre. Currently, Sensation does have a lot of paranormal, which means if you’re writing paranormal romance it has to be really special to catch our eye.

Q: What books are selling best for Berkley? Is it genre oriented? Author oriented? Time period?

Berkley has an author driven list–some of our bestselling romance authors include Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, Lynn Kurland, Jodi Thomas, Lori Foster, Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Lora Leigh, Deidre Martin, and Erin McCarthy. Berkley works hard to create an individual look for each of our authors, to give them a distinct and separate identity on the bookshelves.

Q: Is there one piece of advice that you could give to aspiring or mid list authors trying to break out or gain their first contract?

The most important advice I can give is trite, but always true–write what you love, what you want to write, not what you think will sell. If I (or any other editor) really love what you’re writing, chances are I’ll be interested in acquiring it, even if it’s in a subgenre that conventional wisdom says isn’t selling well. The key word of course is love.

Q: What type of packaging are you using for you romance books? I.e., covers that are selling, colors, etc?

I think Berkley creates some of the best covers in the business, and the art dept works hard to give books a look that will not just be attractive, but to catch the eye of a casual browser-not the easiest thing to do. Many readers can’t get enough of sexy men on their covers, so the sexier, hunky covers are always popular. We also try to create a distinctive look for each of our authors.

Q: What does the fall/winter lineup have to offer romance readers?

We have a Fall jam-packed with great romances, and here’s just a sampling:

  • Fall 2007 is great time to be a Christine Feehan fan-not only is there a new Carpathian novel, Dark Possession, there’s also the mass market reprint of her first hardcover Dark Celebration , and for the first time, Christine goes Manga-Dark Hunger is the Manga version of one of her Dark novellas, and it’s a brand new direction for Berkley as well.
  • My Immortal by Erin McCarthy (Sept) Erin McCarthy gets to showcase her dark side in this rich, wonderfully complex and romantic story about a man who gives away his soul for immortality and lives to regret it. And look for another side to Erin with her first young adult novel, DEMON ENVY, coming in Oct.
  • Servant: The Awakening by L.L. Foster (Oct) Erin isn’t the only author with a dark side, as Lori Foster demonstrates, writing under the name L.L. Foster. Part horror, part urban fantasy, part romantic suspense-this book seems like a departure for Lori, but it’s something that she’s wanted to write for years, and I think will win her many new fans.
  • Silver Master by Jayne Castle (Sept) Jayne Castle returns to the futuristic setting of the earth colony Harmony in a new dazzling adventure romance.
  • Fairyvilleby Emma Holly (Sept) No one writes erotic romance better than Emma Holly, and FAIRYVILLE is as steamy and adventurous as anything she’s written before. And our lucky heroine gets to choose between between 2 yummy men-who could ask for anything more?
  • Caressed By Ice by Nalini Singh (Sept) The 3rd book in Nalini’s Psy-Changeling series features possibly my favorite hero of the year, Judd Lauren.
  • Born to Be Wilde, Janelle Denison (Sept) Janelle’s popular sexy series about the Wilde family continues with the story of Joel Wilde, ex-marine turned security specialist.
  • The Courtesan’s Daughter by Claudia Dain (Oct) After too long an absence, award-winning author Claudia Dain is back, with a delicious Regency historical romance about a retired courtesan who is determined to find a husband for her daughter, even if she has to buy him.
  • Overkillby Linda Castillo (Oct) Linda Castillo has a really terrific talent for combining complex, edgy characters, emotional romance and can’t-put-it-down plots, and I think OVERKILL is one of her best books.
  • Mr. Knightley’s Diary, Amanda Grange (Oct) EMMA has always been one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, and this retelling of Emma from Mr. Knightley’s point of view is just terrific-both true to the book and the character of Mr. Knightley.
  • The Education of Mrs. Brimley (Berkley Sensation) by Donna MacMeans (Oct) This is a fabulous Victorian historical romance, and it’s hard to believe that it’s also Donna’s first book.
  • Big Girls Don’t Cryby Cathie Linz (Oct) This fabulous contemporary romance has everything-a delicious hero, a sassy heroine, and more animals than you can shake a stick at (hero is a vet).
  • An Enchanted Season, Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, Jean Johnson (Oct) The holiday season starts early with this anthology of seasonal stories, spiced with a touch of magic.
  • Down and Dirty , Sandra Hill (Nov) Nobody writes funny and sexy quite like Sandra Hill, and DOWN AND DIRTY is the next book in her bestselling Viking Navy SEAL series.
  • Warriors of Poseidon: Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day (Nov) Readers really connected with Alyssa’s Warriors of Poseidon, and they’re back for a new thrill ride in this sequel to the USA Today bestselling The Warriors of Poseidon.
  • The Black Dragon, Allyson James (Nov) This is the next book following the sexyDragon Heat by the multitalented author Allyson James.
  • Hot Mama, Jennifer Estep (Nov) Superheroes and ubervillains return for more fabulous adventure and romance set in Bigtime, New York, the follow-up to Estep’s href=”″>Karma Girl.
  • Texas Princess by Jodi Thomas (Nov) Beloved for her emotional western historical romances, Jodi returns with the final book in the Whispering Mountain trilogy.
  • Blood Brothers: The Sign of Seven Trilogy, Nora Roberts (Dec) Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a new Nora Roberts to devour, and a new trilogy is always something to celebrate. This is the first in a new mass market trilogy featuring three men-best friends-who as boys, made a blood brothers vow that unwittingly unleashed evil onto their town.
  • Beyond Fearless by Rebecca York (Dec) Bestselling author Rebecca York’s talents for page-turning action and red-hot romance are on full display in this romantic thriller.
  • Swimming without a Net , MaryJanice Davidson (Dec) Fred the crankiest mermaid around returns for another adventure in this sequel to Sleeping with the Fishes.

Q: What should we be on the look out for in the future (i.e., changes in Berkley’s line, new line launches, ebook initiatives).

As I mentioned, Berkley is very excited about publishing our first Manga title DARK HUNGER, and we’d love to publish more Manga on a regular basis.

Q: Fall is a big fiction release period. Are there any fiction books that we should be looking to add to our shelves or that might make a great gift for the holidays?

Some Don’t Miss books from a few of our favorite authors:

  • Fans of Ken Follett’s classic novel The Pillars of the Earth have waited nearly twenty years for the sequel, World Without End, which will be published by Dutton in October.
  • Also in October, Book of the Dead, the latest Kay Scarpetta thriller from Patricia Cornwell hits the shelves.
  • In November, don’t miss the latest Eve and Roarke novel from J.D. Robb, Creation in Death. The new In Death hardcover will be at the top of a lot of readers’ wishlist for the holidays.
  • In December, we’re getting toward the end of the alphabet for Kinsey Millhone-it’s now T is for Trespass in Sue Grafton’s new mystery.
  • And in January, perk up from the post-holiday blues with Sizzle and Burn the new romantic suspense from Jayne Ann Krentz.

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. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 08:04:33

    Down and Dirty , Sandra Hill (Nov) Nobody writes funny and sexy quite like Sandra Hill, and DOWN AND DIRTY is the next book in her bestselling Viking Navy SEAL series

    Not only did my To Be Bought list just grow to budgest-stretching limits, but the project I have currently knocking on doors now needs a new title. *sob*

    I’m practically salivating for the Blood Brothers trilogy!

  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 08:56:05

    *Sigh* My dream publisher! Thanks for this.
    It also increased my TBR list AND a new Nora coming out in December. I can’t wait.

  3. Tracy
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 09:45:30

    The cover for TEXAS PRINCESS is hot!!

    I’m looking forward to Cathie Linz’s BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY. A plus-size heroine~whoooooot!!

  4. Claudia
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 10:01:03

    FYI, the Big Girls Don’t Cry link points to an old anthology with the same name.

  5. LinM
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 10:43:45

    Damn, damn, damn. I’m boycotting Penguin Group books until after Christmas because of their ebook policies. Not just the pricing policy that Jane pointed out but also the maddening inconsistencies: books available in only one DRM format; series that are only partially available in digital format, they start, stop, and restart at random; upcoming book announcements that can’t be trusted to identify whether or not a digital format will be available.

    I realize that a boycott by only one person does not affect Penguin in any way but for me it is a reminder that there will come a time when ebooks are all that I can read. So the boycott interferes with the books I can read now; it also figures in my book conversations with friends, colleagues and family. I feel like a broken record but I read the list of upcoming books from the Penguin Group with sadness not anticipation.

  6. TeddyPig
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 12:04:38


    Do what I do, I buy the particular author but do not promote the eBook in public.
    I support the author.

    How could any company be so narrow minded with a lock step business model with DRMs so proprietary that they will only ever get a small portion of the market? Especially when it leaves them vulnerable to market shifts with a highly possible wide consumer acceptance of a specific eBook reader that could take their customer base out?

    Remember Sony Beta? Yeah, that worked well didn’t it?

  7. Ann Aguirre
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 13:58:56

    Sequel to Pillars of the Earth? I am so there. That’s one of my favorite books of all time. *dreamy sigh*

  8. Li
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 14:44:05

    Thanks for the spotlight – Jane Austen’s “Emma” is one of my favourite books ever, and I probably wouldn’t have seen “Mr Knightley’s Diary” otherwise! It’s going on my wishlist now.

  9. Claudia
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 14:59:15

    I see the Big Girls link has been fixed, but the “plus sized” cover model looks like a US size 6 or 4. LOL Too many good looking reads and I haven’t even looked at the October RT yet.

  10. Tracy
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 16:59:51

    Claudia, are you talking about the cover? Well, weirdly enough, I am a “plus sized” girl and my legs pretty much look like that (mine are slightly larger, but my mom, who is the same size as me, has legs exactly like the cover). My butt and legs are not “plus sized”; it’s my top half that is! LOL So, it does happen :)

  11. Miki
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 23:07:32

    Jeez, Jane! You had someone from Penguin on the hook? Why didn’t you ask her about the ebook pricing??

    Like LinM, I’m doing my own personal boycott of Penguin’s books – but only those that are overpriced as ebooks. Many of the books you listed as new fall releases are priced as $9.99 ebooks, but $7.99 print books.

    So, even if I want them, I’m picking them up at the library. I’m trying very hard not to buy more print books, or I’d just buy the paper. But that seems counterproductive to trying to support the ebook business.

  12. TeddyPig
    Oct 01, 2007 @ 23:30:08

    HAH! Thanks Miki,

    $9.99 for an eBook with stupid DRM. Are you high? Did your parents beat you as a small child? They might as well fold the website right now.

    Eminent eFailure! Way to go Penguin!

  13. Cathie Linz
    Oct 08, 2007 @ 16:27:32

    Someone told me that my editor Cindy had mentioned my book BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY (out now) here so I stopped by to say hi. Read the note about the woman’s legs on the cover and just wanted to note that my heroine Leena is a size 16 when the book begins and she’s a size 16 when the book ends (no shrinking down to a size 6). I was inspired to write this book by the Dove beauty campaign’s first commercial in the Superbowl in 2006 – where every girl (and woman) should feel she’s beautiful. Women come in all shapes and sizes. In doing my research I found that October is Love Your Body month intended to help women get a positive body image. All the best, Cathie Linz

  14. Patricia A.
    Oct 13, 2007 @ 13:41:27

    Cindy: Sorry to be late at the thread. It’s baseball playoff time–LOL.

    I’m a huge fan of Kathryn Shay’s books. Her “Someone To Believe In” (for your company) is one of my alltime favorite books, & I’ve read it repeatedly. I love how Kathryn uses her past experience, as a teacher of adolescents, in her stories, & I’ve never read a book of hers that I haven’t learned something, as well as been extremely entertained, & touched. I find her writing to be very consistent, & I am always waiting impatiently for her next to be published. I’m really looking forward to renewing acquaintenances with Clay & Bailey in her upcoming O’Neal family story.

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