Spotlight on Bantam: Hot Books for Fall
Shauna Summers is the longtime editor of New York Times Bestselling Authors like Suzanne Brockmann and Shana Abe. Bantam and its sister imprint, Ballantine, specialize in the back to back to back releases. It is a formula that has propelled many an author to bestselling status and has earned the love of readers all over the country. Ms. Summers shares her notes from the 2007 Spotlight presentation and the exciting fall release schedule.
Fall releases including Madeline Hunter, Karen Marie Moning and possibly a christmas present in the form of Shana Abe’s next book?
Mass market re-issues of a couple of our paranormal authors:
The Dream Thief (on sale 8/28) by Shana Abe–"this series is getting better with every book, and this was easily one of my favorite books from last year. The next hardcover title in the series, Queen of Dragons, comes out in the spring. Note, Amazon says that the on sale date is December 27, 2007.
Darkfever (on sale 8/28) by Karen Marie Moning–"the first in her new Sidhe Seer series, with a great new package that goes along with– Bloodfever (hardcover on sale 10/16) by Karen Marie Moning–"second book in the series. I'm really excited about where Karen is going with these books.
Lessons of Desire (on sale 9/25/07) by Madeline Hunter–"I can't think of anyone who writes better historical romance than Madeline; very emotional, complex characterization, conflict and plotting. This is the second book in the Rothwell brothers series. I read this one and enjoyed it immensely. It features an unconventional heroine and a hero who has her number.
Midnight Awakening (on sale 11/27/07) by Lara Adrian–"this is the third book in her Breed series, which has done really nicely for us.
On the Loose (on sale10/30/07) by Tara Janzen–"this kind of spins off from her Crazy series; I've loved working with Tara and watching her get better with every book. This is perfect for readers who like really sexy, action-packed, fast-paced romantic suspense.
Riding the Storm (on sale 8/28/07) by Sydney Croft–"this is an erotica debut, actually erotic paranormal suspense to be precise, and is written by two authors who each right separately under their own names. They've got tremendous energy and imagination in their writing, so I'm really excited to see how this does. They also write fast–"the next book, Unleashing the Storm, comes out next spring.
Hunting the Demon (on sale 8/28/07) by Jaci Burton–"the second in her Demon Hunter series. I feel like this pushes a lot of different buttons–"a lot of suspense (which is how we're packaging it), really sexy and fun, but actually quite scary as well.
Bound in Moonlight (on sale 11/27/07) by Louisa Burton–"the second book of erotica (House of Dark Delights is the first) in this almost literary erotica series. She is such a great writer, very imaginative and fresh.
Kay Hooper's new trilogy starts in December with Blood Dreams. I’ve always enjoyed Hooper.
We also have some re-issues from Suzanne Brockmann (Forbidden, an old Loveswept title on sale 8/28/07) and Sandra Brown (Temperatures Rising in paperback on 10/30 and A Whole New Light in hardcover on 11/27/07), as well as Kay Hooper (C.J.’s Fate on 8/28/07) and Iris Johansen (A Summer Smile on 11/27/07).
Bantam Dell is an all-purpose, all-format publisher. We publish everything–"all kinds of commercial fiction and non-fiction, literary fiction under the Dial Press imprint. We have a lot of ongoing blockbuster bestselling authors including: Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel, Sophie Kinsella, Kay Hooper, Tami Hoag, Luanne Rice, Lisa Gardner, Lee Child.
For romance and women's fiction (and really, all our fiction), we focus on building authors individual on all levels–"editorial, packaging, marketing. We don't have lines or imprints (but watch it, I'm about to contradict myself in a minute) because we want the attention to be on growing an author's readership, not bringing attention to an imprint and just getting books out there. There are definite advantages to imprints, but we work better focusing on the authors separately and specifically. Obviously we've had a lot of success with some of the authors I've already mentioned, but here are some other examples from the romance/science fiction/women's fiction side:
- Mary Balogh
- Karen Marie Moning
- Madeline Hunter
- Keri Arthur
- Kelley Armstrong
- Shana Abe
- Tara Janzen
Some new authors for us in the last year include Lara Adrian and Jaci Burton, both paranormal writers. We do really well in leveraging the crossover amongst readers who are coming to paranormals because our science fiction list is so strong, as is our romance list. We love genre fiction and have a lot of success with it, so we're able to really play with the packaging and the marketing on these kinds of books. Jenna Black is someone new on our list who will come out next year. Since we obviously have quite a bit of it on our list, we're very selective at this point about what we acquire, but Jenna is an example of how we'll take on someone we think is fantastic, regardless.
We've also started venturing into erotica this year, but we're being very selective about it–"not starting any lines, building authors individually. Part of the problem with imprints is that then you have slots to fill which sometimes means you are forced to acquire and publish books that aren't the strongest. We're really proud of the quality of our erotica as well as how we're publishing them. I think you showed the Eden Bradley covers on your site as examples of classier erotica packaging. We're excited about her as well as Sydney Croft and Louisa Burton, both of whom I've already mentioned.
One other thing I talked about is launching authors. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is a debut novel we're publishing in hardcover at the end of August. It's in the vein of Alice Hoffman and Rebecca Wells–"very southern, but with a bit of magical realism. We all loved it so much that we're making big push for it, and have done a ton of ARCs, outreach to independent booksellers, national advertising, etc. The book has sold in 11 other countries and just has that special something. You also may have seen or heard about Sherry Thomas at RWA. We're publishing her first historical romance next spring called Private Arrangements. It's another example of how we focus on the book and the author. We all just thought the book was so fresh and good that we put it at the top of our list to get as wide a distribution as possible to reach as many readers as possible.
Speaking of reaching readers, we're starting a new imprint in January '08 called Bantam Discovery. Remember how I said I would contradict myself? Well, we found that we had all this great women's fiction on our list and wanted to come up with a way to reach as big an audience as possible. So the books in this program will be published simultaneously in mass market and trade paperback. Some of the books are originals, some of them are re-issues of hardcovers (GARDEN SPELLS will be in it next summer), there are even two men in the program, some of the authors are debuts, some have had a book or two out previously. This was an instance of our inventory dictating our efforts rather than trying to jump on a bandwagon and fill slots, if that makes sense. The booksellers can choose which format works best for their customers or they can take both. We love mass market and think some readers will come to these books if they can take a chance for $5.99, when they wouldn't take a chance at $12 or whatever. We'll have national advertising, both print and radio, will be doing ARCs for all of the books.