Heads up! Loveswept is back this time as a digital imprint. I think this is supremely smart of Random House. But watch, since Random House is an agency publisher now (BOOOOOOOOO), the digitally reissued Loveswepts will be $44.99 or some crazy thing. If the price is right, this could so rock. I’m devouring category romances right now.
My latest Kirkus column is a review of Kate Noble’s Follow My Lead, which I enjoyed quite much of a lot.
So much happens in the course of this book that the journey is the best part, from their needle-in-a-haystack hunt for a set of 500-year-old papers to their misadventures in stables, taverns and village fairs. Road-trip romances—romances where there is occasionally hard travel and the accessories of society are not available for the protagonists—are among my favorite types—and this one is excellent.
In the realm of Absolutely Freaking Awesome Press About Romance comes this article profiling Angela James and Carina Press. Holy crap, it’s a rare supernova of celebration, and an example of how romance and digital publishing can be taken seriously in the media: Romance Novels Are Steaming Up E-Reader Screens: How Angela James, head of Harlequin’s new romance E-book imprint, has forged a novel business model in paperless publishing.
While major publishers might worry about the size of the market for such books, especially the gay-themed ones, or of the potential backlash involved in getting them into brick-and-mortar bookstores, “there’s a lot of opportunity for experimentation in digital,” says James, making it a testing ground for which genres publishers want to expand upon.
It’s a new world, and the women who read, write, and edit romances are blazing the trail into it.
Last month, I attended the Connecticut Romance Writer’s of America’s FictionFest conference, and I met Jennifer Fusco. She’s the Marketing Manager for Creative and Brand at GE, which means she works on GE’s product branding All the Time.
Thus it makes sense that she gave a panel on branding: what it is, what it means for authors specifically, how to do it, and why it’s important. It was like one pearl of wisdom after another. I told her she should write up her wisdom and self publish it as a guide for authors because she was equally fluent in business branding and in author career development, particularly in fiction. Holy crow, she did it.
While it is short, “Market or Die: Sensibly Brand Building Advice for Writers” is a straight-to-the-point workbook that decodes what branding is, and why it’s important to an author’s promotional and marketing efforts. It also has exercises to help authors figure out what their brand is, and how to distill it into a few key words and phrases.
There are a lot of people who will proclaim themselves experts, but I honestly believe Fusco knows what the hell she’s talking about. I thought her presentation and her candid discussion of effective and ineffective branding was awesome. She’s also presenting at RWA in NYC AND she’s scheduled at the same time as my panel on reviewing, so it pains me a little to recommend you go to hear her, but if you’re curious, that’s a great opportunity to hear her talk about effectively building your brand as an author.
And finally, from Susanna Kearsley comes this link. So many people have been talking about the barriers between the reader and the publisher’s product, myself included, for a few years now. But when publishing executives keep hearing the same from people within their own industry, such as agent Jonny Gellar, perhaps soon it’ll have more impact: Makinson confident as publishers face digital “flux”.
However, Jonny Geller, agent at Curtis Brown, challenged the publishers on the panel to rethink their business models. “Everything we thought about how we do business is not right anymore, the whole chain from author to reader has to be reconfigured. All authors want is to get their books out to readers, and sometimes publishers and retailers get in the way of that.”…
Geller said his authors were now starting to ask the question “what are publishers doing?”. He said: “If publishers are still offering 25% of net receipts, then authors might just say, I’ll do it myself. If my authors create their own website, then what is the publisher doing? If I can’t speak to a publicist except during the three weeks of publication, then what is the publisher doing? If the publisher can’t get the book into stores, then what is the publisher doing?”
Kearsley considers this a gauntlet thrown. I read this and wonder, “Wait, is everything still in flux with the sea change, or has the flux moved on and some executives are confident while wondering where the hell the water went?” Or maybe we’re at “flux capacity.” That is enough flux, people! No more flux in publishing! We are at flux capacity and all this fluxing must stop now!
In other unrelated news, this article also contains mention of my very favorite job title ever, “chancellor of the exchequer.” Seriously, why can’t there be romance novels about the chancellor of the exchequer? I’d so love that.