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Interview with Cindy Hwang, Executive Editor with Berkley/Jove

Cindy Hwang is the executive editor of Berkley/Jove. She is pretty well known to the DA crowd because she pens the quarterly giveaways for Berkley/Jove here. She also edits Christine Feehan, Nalini Singh, and Meljean Brook to name a few. One of her authors, Karen White, writes southern women’s fiction with a romance thread. When Cindy was telling me about this author, I kept thinking that Jayne would love these books. (Jayne, I’ve asked Cindy to send you some of her titles).

Other titles coming from Berkley/Jove this fall include:

* “Serendipity” by Carly Phillips. First in a new trilogy set in a small town in upstate New York. Straight contemporary. Moved from Harlequin.

* “Highlander Christmas” by Janet Chapman. New author for Berkley, moved from Pocket. Fans of her series will find this satisfying.

* “Archangel’s Blade” by Nalini Singh. Dimitri’s story, a member of Raphael’s seven. I’ve read this one and Dimitri is still the dark, dangerous vampire who appeared in the previous Archangel stories and I thought the right woman was paired with him.

* “Heart of Steel” by Meljean Brook. Second book following the Iron Duke. There will also be audio versions of the Iron Duke and Heart of Steel in November.

* “Storm’s Heart” by Thea Harrison in July and “Serpent’s Kiss” in October. Storm’s Heart features Tiago and Tricks and Serpent’s Kiss is the story of another Wyr sentinel, Rune, and Vampyre Queen Carling.

* “Dark Predator” by Christine Feehan is long awaited story of Carpathian Zacarias De La Cruz. Intense fan speculation led Berkley to decide to keep the identity of the heroine secret. To that end, the cover blurbs and marketing materials have all been focused on the hero and no bound galleys were made. The release date is September 6th which might be killing the readers.


Spring Titles:

* “Defiant” by Pamela Clare is the long awaited story of Conor MacKinnon. (This series was originally published by Dorchester and now it is being republished by Berkley, both the first two and then this third, previously unpublished books).

* “About That Night” by Julie James will release in the spring.

* “Whispers in the Dark” by Maya Banks will release in January. It is the 4th book in her KGI series.


Berkley publishes 6-7 books per month in mass market. That number usually includes a reprint of an older title. They published 2 Berkley Heat per month in trade and 2-3 Berkley Sensation Trade titles.

Cindy is always looking for strong voices. No matter what the setting, she wants to be swept up in the story.

Cindy’s line is very heavy paranormal so she is looking for more historical and contemporaries and women’s fiction. First and foremost, though, is the voice. I asked the difference between women’s fiction and the sweet contemporary stories (which I am calling Adirondack chair porn). In women’s fiction, the emphasis is no longer on the romantic relationship and more heroine centric. The stories can have a romantic subplot and she responds best to those that have an optimistic ending.

They are always looking for more erotic romance authors for their Heat line. The submissions should be between 85K and 100K words and Berkley Sensation guidelines are for 90-100K.

She is buying YA but only selectively. They don’t do hardcover YA at Berkley and no middle grade stories.

Ebook sales are very individual.

I asked whether anthologies would be broken up and sold individually and whether the digital prices would decline. Penguin has been selectively doing this in their “E-specials program” which they use to promote a new front list titles. For example Virginia Kantra’s novella “Midsummer Night’s Magic” was released in May as an individual e-book to help promote her new title, “Forgotten Sea.”

I also expressed some frustration that the Heat titles never reduced in priced particularly because many Berkley Heat titles never get republished in mass market.

I asked whether Penguin would experiment with pricing of the digital books like Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Sourcebooks and was told “Penguin is considering various options with regard to digital pricing.”

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

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.