Harlequin and Cosmopolitan magazine announced a joint ebook venture this morning called Red Hot Reads.
From the Red Hot Press Release:
Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin will present independent, adventurous women in contemporary settings and feature fast-paced plots, great dialogue and compelling romance. The shorter length of Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin titles (approximately 30,000 words per title) should appeal to readers on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices.
Under the agreement, Harlequin, a leader in digital publishing, intends to publish two original ebook titles per month, beginning in May 2013. The novels, by some of Harlequin's bestselling authors, will have strong narratives centering on modern young women living the free-spirited and outgoing lifestyle espoused by the international magazine. The ebooks will bear both the Cosmopolitan and Harlequin logos on their covers.
Harlequin has a page for the Cosmo Red Hot Reads program on their site that explains more. They're looking for 25,000-30,000 word contemporary romance stories, no paranormal and no historical. The description of the heroine – early to mid twenties, independent, career-focused, adventurous – sounds as if they are targeting the books for the Cosmopolitan reader demographic.
The books will be priced at $3.99, and available for North American release at all major ebook retailers. They will have DRM (commence my gnashing of teeth).
I'm emailing both parties with some questions about the program that I couldn't find answers for, so I'll be updating this as more information arrives in the inbox.
ETA: I have some answers from Malle Vallk:
1. What's Cosmo's role in promoting the books to be published? I know they'll be branded with the Cosmo logo, but will they be excerpted in the magazine or promoted in a specific or targeted way by Cosmo?
Answer: Both Cosmo and Harlequin will be marketing these books. We are in process of developing the marketing plans, but Cosmo will be promoting heavily on their website, some of the books will be excerpted in the magazine, they will be promoting to their over a million newsletter subscribers and much more.
2. Will Cosmo have any editorial input?
Answer: The Harlequin and Cosmopolitan editorial teams are working very closely together as our goal is to combine Harlequin’s expertise in romance and building series with the Cosmo sensibility. A Cosmo editor sits on the acquisition team and discusses all potential acquisitions. We are hoping some of the Cosmo writers will be dipping their writing toes into the world of fiction and happily ever afters.
It’s a real partnership.
3. I know the call for submissions just opened, but are there any specific books or stories you can point to that embody what it is you're looking for? How is this line distinct from the other Harlequin contemporary lines?
It’s a combination of voice and story that will differentiate Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin from our other series. And it’s much shorter! It will focus on the heroine and her journey – she lives a complete life or is on the way to building one (she is, after all, most likely in her mid twenties). She is focused on her career and has moved past the crap internship and beyond the entry level positions. She has a good circle of friends who are important to her life, the man is the icing on the cake. Sex is part of their relationship; part of how they learn how they will be as a couple.
I am intrigued to see how writers push these boundaries and provide freshness. I am also curious to read how they interpret the heroine’s happy ending. In other words, this is a great opportunity for writers to experiment and tell romances that resonate with readers in their twenties and thirties. Those of us who may have passed this demographic will still enjoy these stories, but like watching Lena Dunham’s “Girls” will also realize we are seeing a different voice and experience.
We also expect the stories to be passionate. I want great chemistry between the hero and heroine; the pages should sizzle.
ETA II: Electric Bugaloo!
I sent some of the same questions to Cosmopolitan and Mark Gompertz, Creative Director, Content Extensions at Hearst Magazines responded:
1. I know Cosmo regularly excerpts contemporary romance novels in the print magazine, and many authors are understandably excited when their book is chosen. Does this partnership mean that only Harlequin authors will be featured in the print magazine excerpts, or will you continue to feature works of female-centered fiction from different publishers while working with Harlequin on the Cosmo Red Hot Reads?
THE DEAL WITH HARLEQUIN IS SEPARATE FROM WHAT COSMO WILL DO IN THE MAGAZINE SO HARLEQUIN AUTHORS WILL NOT BE EXCLUSIVE.
2. What will Cosmo's role be in promoting and highlighting the Red Hot Reads? Will they also be excerpted or printed in the magazine at all? Or is this a digital-only initiative exclusive of the print publication?
COSMO WILL BE THROWING A LOT OF MARKETING MUSCLE BEHIND THE BOOKS (AS WILL HARLEQUIN). AT THIS TIME WE HAVE NOT DISCUSSED WHETHER THEY WILL BE EXCERPTED IN THE MAGAZINE. ALSO, WHILE MANY OF THE BOOKS WILL BE DIGITAL ONLY, WE WILL BE DOING PRINT EDITIONS FROM TIME TO TIME.