Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view


Dear Author

Monday Midday Links: Romance News I Gathered in New York

Romance gossip I picked up in New York (unattributed to protect the innocent).

  • The next hot thing appears to be the straight contemporary patterned after the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr.   Several houses are trying to capitalize on this through marketing and repackaging.   Mariah Stewart of Ballantine and Toni Blake from Avon are examples of this.   The Toni Blake cover changes are striking.   Here are her past covers and this is the cover for the upcoming “Sugar Creek” novel.    Robyn Carr’s books remind me of the trope that Suzanne Brockmann perfected and that is the slow build of a number of interconnected relationships over a period of books. In some sense, Carr’s band of alpha men (almost all are former military which is kind of ironic because military man does not equal alpha, but whatever) are different incarnations of the SEAL Team, Brotherhood stories that made Brockmann and Ward so popular.   This will give me a good excuse to read Blake. I have heard good things about her last book.
  • Speaking of Ward, her next Black Dagger Brotherhood book featuring Xhex and John is put to bed and ready for publication.   I have no spoilers.
  • Suzanne Brockmann is publishing a straight contemporary (with maybe some suspense) in mass market form this summer. It will NOT be tied to her existing SEAL series.   I was told that this was more like her early books like Hearthrob and Bodyguard.
  • Some publishers were taken aback by RWA’s extensive questionnaire that forms the basis of who is determined to be a “qualifying market.”   Some of the publishers who have responded have done so with vague answers and some have not responded at all.
  • Obviously this was done because of Harlequin’s foray into the vanity publishing/publishing services market with Dell Arte Press.   One thing I was told was that there was never any referral link in the rejection letter.   Maybe it was considered at one time but it was never implemented.   It is in the Thomas Nelson rejection letters, I believe, so that might have been how it became “fact”.   Harlequin could have done a better job of explaining that, though.
  • Harlequin was very pleased with its giveaway last year and continues to see success in its digital programs. In 2010, Harlequin has a goal of digitizing 2010 backlist titles.   They will need suggestions.   I’m going to open a thread next week for this.

A new author coop called A Writer’s Work has opened and will sell ebooks direct to readers.   Nicole Byrd, Jasmine Cresswell, Lori Handeland, Holly Jacobs and Patricia Rice are familiar to me. The other authors are Fran Baker, Becky Barker, Ginger Chambers, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Elizabeth Kary, Patricia McLinn, Leigh Riker, Karen van der Zee.   You can download the books for a 72 hour period via a download link sent via email.   The downloads are in epub and PDF.   At the recommendation of Shannon Stacey and Jaci Burton, I purchased four Patricia McLinn books.

Are these works protected?

Absolutely – by copyright laws.

However, we are offering these works without electronic passwords or encryption or DRM (Digital Rights Management) because of the difficulties they impose on readers. We are hopeful that, in turn, readers will honor our rights. If we find that trust is abused, we will need to revisit this decision.

I love this idea and hope it succeeds.   I’ve bookmarked it, but I wonder how I will remember to return month after month?

The first Dell Arte Press book has shown up at Amazon. It does not look good. The blurb is almost laughably bad.   I thought it was curious that there was already one used copy and that there were no digital copies. Seeing this blurb, I think it is a good thing that there was a push by Harlequin authors to have the Harlequin brand removed from Dell Arte.   I know I didn’t fully appreciate the branding thing at first,but you don’t want this kind of work to be attached to the Harlequin brand.

Samhain is offering its freebies to both Barnes and Noble ebook readers and Kindle readers.

  • 3/1/2010 to 3/14/2010: Operation Sheba: Super Agent Series, Book 1 by Misty Evans
  • 3/15/2010 to 3/28/2010: Male Call: Hot Zone Book 1 by Denise A. Agnew

Grand Central isn’t doing many of their ebook specials like they had last year. This month’s special is A Field of Darkness by Corneille Read for a price of $2.99.

Dorchester and Ellora’s Cave are doing audio. From Dorchester press release:

Audio Realms is now producing paranormal romance audio versions of novels by New York Times bestselling authors C. L. Wilson, Nina Bangs and Katie MacAlister, as well as some of the more groundbreaking names in horror and paranormal romance. In addition to listings, readers will now be able to visit for classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror, for urban horror and for paranormal and other romance. To purchase audio books in downloadable MP3 format, readers can

There is no press release from EC but you can see the audio titles here. H/t to Anne Douglas.

The Australian Romance Readers Association released its 2009 survey results. (Why don’t we have a RRA?) The results show that the readers are primarily between the ages of 21-55, read 1-10 books per month, and read primarily romances. It’s a PDF download with pie charts for each data point. H/t to Sarah M for the link.

Maili pointed us to this article describing an archeological find placing multicultural characters in Britain during the Roman period.

The Ivory Bangle Lady remains were found in August 1901 in a stone coffin unearthed in Bootham, where a group of graves were found. The grave has been dated to the latter half of the fourth century. Items buried with the Lady included expensive luxury items such African elephant ivory bracelets, beads, pendants and other jewelry, a blue glass jug, a glass mirror, and Yorkshire jet. A rectangular bone mount, possibly for a wooden coffin, was also found in the grave. An inscription on the bone, "Hail sister, may you live in God," suggests the woman held religious beliefs and may have been Christian. She is believed to have been one of the richest inhabitants of the city.

Will research like this allow for more diverse historical romances?

Motoko Rich tries to explain the economics of book publishing for us. I have a few emails that say, in summary, that the cost of publishing a book varies wildly that no generalizations can be made. For what it’s worth, I think these articles can be helpful because, hopefully, it will generate more discussion and more information being provided.   Numbers based on a hardcover of $26

  • Bookseller pays publisher half ($13)
  • Print, storage, and shipment is approximately $3.25
  • Cover design, typesetting, copyediting: $.80
  • Marketing: $1
  • Author royalty: $3.90

Costs decline on a per unit basis the more copies sold except for the print/storage and shipment, I presume.    Unearned advances can actually result in a much higher royalty for an author.

A consultant to the publishing industry argues that high ebook prices can slow ebook adoption. This is probably true if BISG data is correct in that affordability is one of the driving factors behind readers moving digital.

Kassia Krozser provides a great recap of Tools of Change and the challenges ahead.

I've watched this conference evolve from a curiosity to a conversation. The "tools" of "change" are not always apparent. Sometimes the tool is as simple as attending something outside your wheelhouse; sometimes it's hearing how someone else does something and realizing parts will work for you. It's the "tools, not rules" thing. If anything, this year's TOC highlighted the need for even more nuts-and-bolts discussions -’ and there were quite a few of those mixed in with equally important long-term vision sessions.

I have dozens of more links to blog about but I think this is enough to digest for one day. It’s great to be back blogging again!

Dear Author

RWA Eliminates Eligible Publisher Designation & Moves to Invite Status for...

According to an RWA Hot Sheet, RWA has changed the way that it will recognize publishers and authors.

Taking into account emerging trends in publishing that may offer opportunities to writers, the task force recommended that RWA adopt methods used by other trade shows and conventions and to shift its method of evaluating publishers as a whole to evaluating publishers by divisions, imprints, or lines.

Under this revised method, RWA will extend invitations to a wide pool of publishers. Invitees may only represent their non-subsidy/non-vanity publishing programs (imprints, divisions, or lines) at RWA's conference. Space for spotlights, workshops, and booksignings will be allocated to lines, imprints, or divisions that best meet the requirements for "Qualifying Markets." This new process of evaluation will likely increase opportunities for small presses and e-presses that previously have been excluded.


The Board amended the definition of subsidy/vanity to read: "Subsidy" or "Vanity" publishing means the production of books in which the author participates in the costs of production or distribution in any manner, including assessment of fees or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishing programs that withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishing programs whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates.


Based upon the recommendation of the task force, RWA will no longer designate publishers as "RWA Eligible." Instead, RWA will have a conference allocation system to identify "Qualifying Markets," which must be a non-vanity/non-subsidy publisher or a non-vanity/non-subsidy division, imprint or line of a publisher.

Since RWA will no longer have a classification for Eligible Publisher, the Board approved definitions for "Eligible Novel" and "Eligible Novella" based on the non-subsidy/non-vanity production of these works. This change will allow members to qualify for PAN, participate in Romance Sells and trade shows, report first sales in the RWR, and receive a "First Sale" ribbon at conference as long as the terms of the definition are met. Because policy prohibits the changing of contest rules while the contests are in progress, the Board will address the eligibility requirements for the RITA contest during the July Board meeting and will continue to work diligently to address the issue to reach a fair and equitable solution that will benefit our members without compromising RWA's mission to support the professional interests of career-focused romance writers. Policy provisions regarding entry into PRO will be addressed at the March Board meeting.