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BEA 2012

BEA Day Four: Harlequin, Entangled, and Closing Thoughts on BEA

BEA Day Four: Harlequin, Entangled, and Closing Thoughts on BEA

Harlequin

Harlequin

I met with Harlequin today and asked some of your questions.

Updated x2: One of the things I totally forgot to mention is that Harlequin and all of its worldwide offices are moving toward simultaneous worldwide launch so no more early releases over at Mills & Boon before they are released here in the U.S.  That’s a boon for readers and authors. For authors, it makes it easier for them to promote their book because social media is not bounded by geography and it’s easier for readers because they can now find their favorite titles available everywhere at the same time.  That said, this is a slow moving process but Harlequin Presents / Mills & Boon Modern is up next.

  1. About 500 Harlequin Treasury titles will be released in July.
  2. DRM is an ongoing discussion. There is no unanimity amongst authors about DRM. I posited that perhaps that is why Tor went DRM free but not the rest of Macmillan. The Tor authors, particularly the big influential authors, have no love for DRM. I asked whether Carina Press titles had suffered piracy at a greater rate than the DRM’ed books and I was told “not to their knowledge” although someone within digital might have a more accurate answer.
  3. Harlequin would love to publish more multicultural books but haven’t received many manuscripts featuring characters of color. They really want to see those manuscripts. They indicated that Abby Green’s The Stolen Bridefeaturing a Bollywood actress was well received.
  4. Superromance titles are going up to 85,000 words
  5. Nocturne and Romantic Suspense will be increasing the word count.  Update to add actual word counts:
      1.  Harlequin Romantic Suspense – Old word count 50,000 to 60,000/New word count
      2. Harlequin Nocturne – Old word count 70,000/New word count – 80,000-85,000
  6. They published 550 authors last year and are always looking for more.
  7. They would like to collaborate with authors on self publishing projects (“rising tide lifts all boats” sort of thing)
  8. All the series lines will receive a refresh in 2013, some more than others.
  9. There will be a number of digital first initiatives from Harlequin, separate from Carina Press
  10. They are very proud of their editorial teams and the editors undergo regular “employee enrichment” including reading writing books, attending continuing education seminars, and the like.
  11. Harlequin will soon be accepting online submissions. The email addresses will be available on the submission pages of the Harlequin.com site.

I asked for a clarification of the lines, particularly Mira and HQN. The “Harlequin Mira” line as it is now called focuses on commercial literary fiction, and women’s fiction, including erotic fiction. HQN is the single title romance line.

Harlequin did have two big pieces of news. First, in February 2013, Harlequin will launch “Harlequin Kiss” which was describe to me as fun, flirty, contemporary with a range of explicitness. I asked what the difference was from Blaze and was told that the Blaze hero is more of the guy next door and the “Harlequin Kiss” line will feature “the modern alpha hero”. (a rich guy with feelings?) The explicitness will be conveyed through the cover art and the back cover blurb. I asked whether it would be similar to the RIVA line from Mills & Boon and was told yes. RIVA has been suspended at Mills & Boon temporarily and will be back in the summer.  Update x3:  The Senior Editor Bryony Green from the UK office will be acquiring manuscripts for KISS.

Finally, Harlequin is going to be running “So You Think You Can Write” worldwide and there will be a reader component. More details to come.

Entangled Publishing’s Success

entangled_logo_3

Today at BEA, I was pointed to this post by Entangled Publishing. Despite my skepticism about Entangled Publishing’s business plan which allowed for everyone in the publishing chain to earn a percentage of a book’s sales, it appears that Entangled is doing quite well. Entangled has sold 435,000 ebooks worldwide in three and a half months, making them on par with Ellora’s Cave who told CNBC at RT that EC moved about 150,000 copies of books per month. Entangled is also distributing mass market titles and three of their adult titles are picked for Wal-Mart.com’s “Summer Beach Reads.” Entangled’s most successful book, Jennifer Probst’s category title “The Marriage Bargain” has sold more than 313,000 with the author earning $375,000 in royalties. Her editor earned more than $45,000, the copy editor and publicist more than $10,000 each and the cover artist made $3,000.

Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn and Weekend Agreement by Barbara Wallace both sold “just under $18,000 copies”. The remaining titles have thus sold around 86,000 copies in total.

One way in which Entangled has been able to offer such a robust royalty to their authors is by availing themselves of the 70/30 split offered through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Where other small publishers work wholesale agreements at a 50% cut, Entangled has used the self publishing platform to leverage higher royalties for their authors. It is a workaround that other small press publishers should look into, particularly when Amazon seems to be asking for more percentage points under the wholesale agreement.

I asked Amazon and they said:

Both authors and publishers use our platforms. If the terms and the tools of KDP and/or CreateSpace fit their needs, we are happy to make their titles available to readers. The print on demand solution solves a risk in holding inventory, making CreateSpace an attractive option for the small publisher. The main objective here is connecting readers with great books. We are focused on providing easy and free tools with great royalty rates to content providers of all types to make more books available for readers.

BEA Closing Thoughts

I was asked whether I would come back and I can’t decide. I really disliked the trade show aspect of BEA. It was incredibly loud and frankly the books offered don’t have a lot of interest to me. That said, I’ve never had a chance to interview the Kobo or Createspace people and I was able to meet bloggers that I would not have ordinarily met, like Allison Book Marks and Thea and Ana from The Booksmugglers.

I wish the BEA Bloggercon was more awesome and maybe if all of us interested bloggers band together with programming ideas, we can help to make it into the conference we would like it to be.

BEA Day 3:  Up all night

BEA Day 3: Up all night

It’s Day 4 actually as my clock says it is 12:16 am. Remember yesterday when I closed saying that I was going to a power reader breakfast at Random House at 7 am and how I didn’t know what a “power reader” was? Then Ros said in the comments that a power reader was one willing to get up for a 7 am meeting with a publisher. I awoke early and got myself down to Random House at 6:50 am. The lobby was silent except for a guard who smiled warily at me. I spotted a table with a stack of name tags and breathed a sigh of relief that I was in the right location. I settled myself on a bench in the lobby and commenced waiting. As time ticked by and NO ONE appeared, I became concerned. I rose, walked around, glanced outside. Still no one and we were now past 7 am. I pull up the invitation in my gmail account and discover that the power reader breakfast is not until 8. So yeah, did I feel foolish or what? Foolish and tired. My emails to people are like incoherent word clouds at this point.

Random House

The Random House breakfast was actually a lovely networking time for bloggers with other bloggers. I’m not sure how many were invited, but it seemed like maybe 100? Random House even invited a number of readers as well which I thought was very neat. There were a couple of short speakers and one was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg who spoke, not about his book, but about the power of bloggers. I actually thought he should have been the BEA blogger conference keynote speech. He spoke briefly about the passion of bloggers and how bloggers were fostering the love of reading and even encouraging others to read.

At the end of the breakfast, one of the publicists, Leah Johanson, brought the author Susan Elia MacNeal over to meet a group of bloggers. MacNeal’s book, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, focuses on the war effort by women in Great Britain. She indicated that there was a continuing romance between a protagonist over a series of books. I thought Jayne would enjoy this book. (Jayne, I am sending you a copy direct from BEA).

Createspace

After the Random House breakfast, I spoke with Createspace individuals. Createspace is the POD arm of Amazon’s self publishing unit. I asked them about the $2 surcharge for international Amazon digital books and was told to follow up with an individual after BEA so I hope to have an answer about that in the future. However, digital books are not part of the Createspace program. I did ask if an author was starting out, should she start out at the Createspace portal or the Kindle Direct Publishing program and they said that it didn’t matter. From a numbers aspect, a 250 page long form fiction (black and white) self published novel will cost around $3.80 to produce. Most authors will retain about a 35% royalty (although royalty is the wrong word) on a $13 book. $3.80 is the price regardless of how many you order, whether it is one or one hundred.

We spoke a little about the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. This is where authors make a 90 day exclusive deal with Amazon in exchange for five days in which they can offer their book for free as well as participation in the pool of Owner’s Lending program. Amazon has allotted $6 millions for the year for the KDP Select program. Each month, a portion of the $6 million is set for the pool. Last month each download warranted a payment of $2.25 to the author.

I asked about quality control and I was told that every title that goes up in the KDP space is reviewed for “disappointing content”. Disappointing content was described to me as offensive content, content that might be infringing, and for quality. They do encourage readers to submit feedback on books, particularly on the issue of “disappointing content”. The Createspace individual said that they are “customer obsessed.”

Internationally, Createspace is now printing directly in UK, Germany, France and Spain which reduces delivery costs and speeds up distribution.

I asked how an author can get his or her book into a non Amazon retail space and was told that authors should go to their local indie or Barnes and Noble and ask for the book to be carried. I said that I had heard that retailers were less than enthused about carrying these self published titles, but that was the recommendation.

Is it BEA or RT?

After Createspace, I wandered the floors again. I saw two shirtless, very young men, walking around with black wings attached. They were promoting Becca “be nice” Fitzpatrick’s book “Hush, Hush.” I felt like I was having a flashback to RT what with them and this guy wandering the halls.

red devil

I spoke with a few other bloggers who were disappointed with the beabloggercon which made me feel better because I was worried I was too judgmental but it did make me think that perhaps I could do a better job of sharing about the process of blogging one of these days and maybe other bloggers could do the same so that we could exchange information in a way that would help each other.

I’m done in for BEA. I’ve got one more meeting tomorrow and that is with Harlequin. (If you have questions, let me know). After that, I’m heading for home, sleep, and a long bath, not necessarily in that order.