Is the Market Swinging Back to Longer Books?

007Last weekend we went up to Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid), which is an old gold-mining town on the back road between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It reminded me more of a place I’d see in Colorado, instead of New Mexico. Lots of fun art, too.

I had an interesting Twitter discussion this morning with E and Has from, along with author Jody Wallace. E and Has like to read a lot of the same things I do. (They also did a very fun joint review of Rogue’s Pawn, which I figure means I did something right!)  We all grew up reading much of the science fiction and fantasy canon, ferreting out those books with sex and romance. We didn’t have to have those elements, but finding them was the cherry topping on the sundae of our readerly joy.

When I was a girl, none of my friends read what I did. A lot of them didn’t read much at all. The ones who did read, mostly liked other books. Of course, genre books like that weren’t considered appropriate for book reports. The upshot it, I rarely had anyone to discuss these stories with. There are few things more frustrating than LOVING a book and having no one else to share it with. As I grew older, I found more kindred spirits. In fact, a big part of my first relationship was getting my guy, Kev, to read so many of the books I loved.

(This is what you get when you fall in love with a nerd girl.)

Now, however, we have the internet and it’s as if we’ve managed to take our reader girl selves and connect them across the country and the ocean. (Has lives in the UK.) We were talking about how we’d browse the library or bookstore shelves and pick out the Very Thickest books, to maximize the reading experience. Longer books were always better. E says it stretched her poor-girl dollar farther. Has said she was less likely to run out of books between library visits. We all wanted the same thing – to be immersed in that world as long as possible.

It’s notable to me because that changed for me over time. Once I hit college, then grad school, then working life and doing All The Things, I hesitated to pick up the big books. They began to look like daunting obstacles, representing weeks of my life and effort that I couldn’t afford.

I’m not really sure why this changed for me, but I know the whole industry went this way. Many publishers don’t want a first time novel longer than 80-110K words. Depending on the print book style, this is in the neighborhood of 350-400 pages. This is as compared to, say, a George R.R. Martin book, which likely clocks in around 225K. Novellas, like my Facets of Passion books, are 26-40K. People like me were preferring shorter books and were more likely to buy them.

(Even Martin’s books, prior to the HBO phenom, were read by a pretty finite crowd for a very long time.)

I think the pendulum is swinging back the other way now and it could be due to books like Martin’s – but it’s also due to eBooks.

See, on an eReader, it’s hard to know how “thick” a book is. Because the fonts are adjustable (FABULOUS feature!), there are no page numbers, just a percentage complete. In some ways it’s frustrating, because you don’t always know what you’re getting into, in other ways it liberates a reader like me, because I don’t have the opportunity to be intimidated by the length. It is what it is.

The other thing that’s happening is that I think eBook buyers are beginning to associate value with length. That’s how the conversation on Twitter started – they recommended a book to me, I grumbled about Macmillan’s high eBook prices and they both assured me that the book is worth it because it’s a “long, solid and satisfying read.”

See? We’re still picking out those books that promise the most by the width of their spines on the library shelf, extending our dollars to maximize our readerly pleasure.

Carina recently asked me to consider writing longer erotic stories – novel length instead of novellas. Readers want longer books, they tell me.

Lately, so do I.

Stepping Stones and Brass Rings – A Publishing Primer

This is the sun setting during the annular solar eclipse. Obviously I don’t have the right filters for you to actually SEE that the sun is 95% occluded, but it did make for interesting light.

So, a lot of you know this information already. If so, you may be excused from today’s blog. Go sit in the sun and have some lemonade or something!

But, there’s apparently a lot of up and coming writers out there who don’t know this stuff, so I’m doing a little primer today. Last week, while I was being the Twitter voice for Carina Press, I saw a question come through from an aspiring writer asking if Carina, as a digital first press, ever then passes along books to another imprint for print publication. The asker was thinking of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and how the book went from ebook to print publication by a major publishing house. She was inexperienced enough not to know what question to ask and came across as sounding like she regarded ebook publication as a stepping stone to “real” publication.

I understood where she was coming from, because I get asked quite frequently if any of my ebooks will get “really published.”

Stepping stones – moving from smaller venues to bigger ones – is the path for most artists. The Beatles started out playing obscure bars in Germany and ended up on American television and playing to huge crowds. It’s a fact of life that it’s easier to get published with smaller presses to begin with than it is with major houses. Major houses have more choices, so they can be more selective. It’s also easier to self-publish than to be published by a smaller press – because there is no filter at all. Among the smaller presses, there is certainly a hierarchy. Some simply publish better stuff than others – because they have more choices and can be more selective. Now, you’re not going to find this hierarchy written down anywhere. And it changes over time. It’s largely governed by where writers want their work to be published (or where their agents want it). Sometimes this is about money, sometimes about distribution, sometimes about cache.

For a long, long time, the brass ring – the big golden prize – was publishing with “New York” or “The Big 6,” now often referred to as “legacy publishing” or “traditional publishing.” This is where the big advances were, the distribution, the cache. Publishing with New York was the literary equivalent of signing with a major record label. You might not be playing stadiums right away, but you had a shot at it.

What EL James did with Fifty Shades of Grey is write fan fiction first. A lot of authors start this way – writing stories based on someone else’s world and characters. It can be a good way to learn, just like a lot of bands start out playing covers. Self-publishing for a new writer, then, is the equivalent to standing on street corners and singing for tips. It’s a lot of work, takes a lot of courage and hustle. Things can absolutely happen that way. Billy Bragg got started that way. But you’re not going to get screaming fans packing the street right off the bat, not like if U2 decides to do a street gig. They have the audience already. The busker spends a lot of time in the rain, singing to no one.

For EL James, she hit lucky. She was a busker who got picked off the street, signed to a major label and is playing to stadiums. (I know that’s a bit of a gloss, but allow me the analogy here.) It’s great for her. It’s also not how it works for 99.9% of the writers out there. In other words: don’t try this at home.

Most writers follow a path more like The Beatles. Lots of practice, lots of tiny, obscure gigs, then better gigs, building an audience, hitting the lists in the UK, then hitting the US. It seems like an overnight success, but only if you’re not paying attention.

The thing is, publishing is all in upheaval right now. It’s unclear if New York is really the brass ring anymore. Moneywise, authors who are not playing to stadiums, stand to do much better with epublishing. The royalty rates are far, far better. No advances, but that may be an outmoded model anyway. Sure, it’s lovely to go to print, but with bookstores on the decline, does that distribution really mean what it once did? People around the world can read my ebooks who would never see a print version.Which is better?

So, it’s too late to call this a short answer, but: yes, sometimes digital first publishers also print books on paper. It depends on the press. But you sell a book to one publisher – they don’t then pass it along to a competitor. The author decides who publishes the book and signs a legal contract. Are some presses “better” than others? Yes. And the only people who can answer this question are other authors. Even then you have to take it with a grain of salt, because everyone wants to spin their own publisher as the best. Agents can also advise on this, but their criteria can be different, so you have to take that into account.

The upshot of all this upheaval is, suddenly there are so many more opportunities, so many rings of different colors and sizes to reach for. It’s up to the writer to decide what she wants.

Last Days of the Publishing Dinosaurs

Las Vegas is a fun place to visit for a party. All glitz, glamour and sizzle. None of it is real. From the massive water features in the middle of a desert to the faux architecture to the illusion that you could win big, it’s all a big show of smoke and mirrors.

And we willingly engage in it, embracing the fancy that we could really be dining in Paris or riding a roller coaster through the skyline of New York City. It’s fun and fabulous and absolutely without substance.

This is perfectly fine, as long as you keep a grip on what is real.

Not always easy to do.

I remember when I was a kid – the kind with ten-thousand questions – and my mom told me that, when I went to school, my teachers would know the answers. To my delight, they did. At least for a few years. Then, as I grew older, I discovered my teachers didn’t have all the answers. A few of the good ones taught me how to research answers for myself.

But the lesson stuck: just because a person appears to be in a position of knowledge, doesn’t mean what they say is real.

Yeah – I’m on a bit of a rant again.

Another industry giant – this time it’s Scott Turow, of legal thriller fame – has written a Missive of Doom about the impending demise of publishing. You can go read it, if you like, though I warn you, it’s just more of the same wailing and gnashing of teeth. The big NYC publishers are imperiled because the Justice Department is suing for price-fixing on ebooks, which is very likely exactly what occurred, and therefore Turow leaps to the worst possible conclusion: that writing and reading will be extinguished.


The part that really gets me is this:

Our concern about bookstores isn’t rooted in sentiment: bookstores are critical to modern bookselling.  Marketing studies consistently show that readers are far more adventurous in their choice of books when in a bookstore than when shopping online.  In bookstores, readers are open to trying new genres and new authors: it’s by far the best way for new works to be discovered.

No, no citation or link on that. Just the assertion of “marketing studies” and that consistent return of data that is apparently so well-established that it’s common knowledge. No actual statistics necessary.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t true. I’d just really love to see these numbers. Since I’ve never seen them before.

I’d also love to know exactly which era those numbers come from. Because if those studies refer to shopping habits older than the last two years, even the last year, I’d have to cry foul.

I remind myself that this kind of thing happens with major paradigm shifts. There will always be people rooted in the old paradigm who can only see that world crumbling away. They haven’t stepped through into the emerging world yet, so they can’t see the possibilities. Last year, at the RWA conference, a venerable agent gave a seminar on how to succeed in publishing. Someone in the audience asked a pointed question about how electronic publishing had changed things. He asserted that absolutely nothing had changed. He seemed to regard ebooks as a passing fad, if he noticed their existence at all. He also suggested that we buy his 20 year-old book on the industry, which was a hardback because it’s a valuable book, he assured us. After a stunned silence, people began bleeding out of the seminar.

Turow claims he’s not concerned for his own career, but for the lack of opportunity for new authors if the NYC publishers are hurt by this lawsuit. Meanwhile, as I wrote this, Angela James at Carina Press just tweeted that they acquired five brand new authors this week. I wonder how many new authors have been acquired by the big NYC publishers this week?

Times change. Technology grows at a rapid pace.

But the death of something old is not the end of the world. Only of that paradigm. A new one, full of vigor and growth takes its place.

I’m sure the world the dinosaurs lived in was a lovely place. But the climate changed and we now live in a different world. You can only bemoan the passing of the old world for so long. Otherwise you dwell only in the past, not the present.

And that’s not real anymore.

The Magic of teh Lurv

We’re having a special Valentine’s giveaway over on the Here Be Magic blog over the next few days. Your chance to win that most special treat for any reader: gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (Winner’s choice.) All you have to do is comment.

The Here Be Magic group is interesting. It’s the group blog for all the Carina Press fantasy authors, with “fantasy” being loosely defined. Carina has been doing a great job of acquiring and publishing some terrific science fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal and fantasy, with and without romantic elements.

Interestingly, however, the word is that the community of sci fi and fantasy readers have been slow to adopt eBooks. This seems counter-intuitive to all of us, because those readers, I would think, would be into computers and gadgets and tech. But not for books, apparently. So we’ve been thinking of ways to reach the paper-book readers and entice them with a digital book. Any ideas are welcome.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Medium vs. Message

I love when the fog is in the valley. It seems so metaphorical. Doesn’t hurt that I’m above it all and still have a clear view.

I wish.

Last night I watched Practical Magic. For maybe the one-billionth time. Yeah, it’s one of my all-time favorites, for so many reasons. Some of them are definable and some aren’t. I love it for the LOOKS the women exchange, which seem to be impossible to capture in writing. A glance full of meaning in a movie becomes a cliche of crossed arms and raised eyebrows in a book. Sometimes I envy the filmmakers. I can see the scene between my characters play out in my head, but how to describe it so someone else can see it?

One of the great challenges of writing, I suppose.

Ironically, however, if there are two versions of a story, both a book and a movie, it’s rare for anyone to say the movie was better. In most of these cases, the book came first. I think the last time I read a book that came after a movie was back in the late 70s, after the first Star Wars movie (Episode IV, for the purists) came out. I read one of those tie-in books that they generated to keep the story going. I was getting big into sci fi then and loved the movie. SO disappointing. I was bewildered by the liberties taken with the story and characters. The book itself was poorly written. And gross. Seems like a light saber got jabbed in someone’s eyeball with associated flying goop. At any rate, I never read another. This might explain why I never got into fanfic of any kind. Traumatized at an early age.

Still, the point is that both books and movies tell a story, just in different ways. And books – well they pretty much read like books, no matter how the words are displayed. Jonathan Franzen, who I’m starting to think is worried no one will pay attention to his writing if he’s not being an ass waffle (thank you DYAC!), has now famously declared ebooks a threat to society. He also claims that “serious readers” – whoever those people may be – will continue to read on paper because that has a permanence that ebooks lack.

His justification is beyond bizarre. He says he can spill water on a book and it still works, which you can’t do with an ereader. Yeah, but enough water does ruin a paper book and oh, say, setting it on fire kinda ruins that permanence. But this is the kind of nut job you can’t really reason with.

What gets to me with the ensuing conversations is all the people saying things like the author of this article says:

Franzen doesn’t even take into consideration the countless self-published authors who wouldn’t have a chance of seeing their books actualized because of the old guards at the gates of publishing companies. Most of them won’t win a Pulitzer Prize, but they’ve achieved a dream of sharing their stories with the world.

I’d say it’s more to the point that Franzen would think those people shouldn’t be published if the can’t get through the gates. (Not my opinion – speculating on his.) But that’s neither here nor there. People continue to conflate self-publishing with digital publishing. It’s bizarre to me, because this is demonstrably not the case. I can purchase Franzen’s Freedom from Amazon as a hardcover ($14.44 as of this posting), paperback ($10.88), ebook ($9.99) or audiobook ($37.79). If I read it on paper, will my experience be more serious than on my Kindle?

It’s absurd to think so.

As for permanence, if I leave my hardcover or paperback out in the rain, I’d have to buy a new copy. If I leave my Kindle in the rain, I still have my entire library of books backed up in the data cloud. Which is more permanent?

And what about the audiobooks? Are they evil, bad and a threat to society, too? I can’t recall seeing attacks on audiobooks like we’ve seen on ebooks.

It’s all the same hysteria over change. Which is fine. I understand. We all hit a point where we simply can’t adapt to yet more more technology. But don’t dress up your mental inflexibility as wisdom.

And leave my ebooks alone.

The Wages of Professionalism

I wonder why I only get these eerie iridescent colors at sunrise and not at sunset? Something to do with the air being cooler? Doesn’t seem logical, but there it is.

I’m sure there’s an explanation for it and I just don’t know what it is. Some things there aren’t sound reasons for. Like a lot of publishing.

Yesterday, Angela James posted a very interesting piece to the Carina Press blog about how the acquisitions team works. And why that team rejects about 40% of what their editors recommend for acquisition. See, Carina uses freelance editors. You pitch to them, send them your work, maybe revise and resubmit. The editor can reject the stauthor history, marketability, editorial needs of book and why they did (or in some cases did not) love it. For established authors, we look up sales figures, both from Carina Press, if they’re a returning author, and via Bookscan, if they’ve published elsewhere. We discuss what we know of the author’s writing and sales history, what they’re like to work with, how popular the genre is, merits of the manuscript, how much work it will need, and how it fits into our program.ory at any point during this process, but if she decides yes, then she has to write up a report for the acquisitions team to convince them to accept the work for publication. (They also write up reports for the rejected works and Angela often tweets those reasons, which can be educational.  She recorded ones from the other day here, if you’re interested to see.)

What’s interesting about the breakdown of that 40% rejection from the acquisitions team is all the information they take into account. Among other things:

  • author history
  • marketability
  • editorial needs of book
  • sales figures, both from Carina Press, if they’re a returning author, and via Bookscan, if they’ve published elsewhere
  • author’s writing and sales history
  • what they’re like to work with
  • how popular the genre is
  • merits of the manuscript
  • how much work it will need
  • how it fits into Carina’s program

Regular readers know where I’m going with this. Yeah, it’s the piece that none of us wants to think about. We want each new story to be judged on its own merit, as its own bright and shiny individual thing. It might be, but there is a constant running through this: the author. We cannot afford to be difficult to work with.

I know, I know – you’re pointing to certain Famous Authors renowned for behaving badly. But they make TONS OF MONEY. Which excuses all most sins. Being an artist is never an excuse to be unprofessional. Not with deadlines, not with how you handle edits, not in elevator gossiping. Just never. Because we live in an age where there really *is* a permanent record. Nothing ever dies on the interwebs.

Another Carina Press editor and author, Rhonda Stapleton, posted a story on her blog the other day about how she had to reject a manuscript that she really enjoyed, because Carina is not handling that genre. She was sorry to do it – until she saw that the author in question posted snippy comments about the rejection. Which left her feeling like she’d dodged a bullet. Who wants to work with someone who’ll snark about you behind your back?

No one. And that’s who we’ll get.

Agency Publishing and Conflict of Interest

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air. And feather canyons everywhere.

For those of you old enough to remember this song, you’re welcome for the ear worm. You know, aren’t we due for a really good cover of Both Sides Now? Someone should really get on that.

So, it’s been an interesting week in the publishing world, vis a vis agents and electronic publishing.

On Monday, much-sought agent Jessica Faust announced on the Bookends, LLC blog, that the literary agency would be developing an epublishing arm. At the time I’m writing this, there are 152 comments on the post. See, they’re not the first agency to announce that they’re partnering with their authors to assist them with self-publishing their backlists. Bookends, however, is taking this one step farther and plans to establish an entire epublishing arm, which would involve them screening submissions, editing books, electronically publishing them and marketing. For this, Bookends would receive an unspecified split of the revenue.

This is a huge move, from agenting to publishing.

Yesterday, Courtney Milan, romance author and lawyer, posted an excellent breakdown of the situation in An Open Letter to Agents. Now, she does not specifically address any agency in particular – I’m the one drawing this correlation. Courtney lays out the situation in a clear and logical way. She promises a second part today, which I’m interested to see.

What it comes down to for me is Conflict of Interest (COI). Now – full disclosure – COI is a fairly large part of my day to day considerations. I work for a private environmental consulting firm, funded largely by government contracts, primarily EPA. We have meetings about COI fairly often, because we owe it to our clients to do so.

For example (and you can totally skip this part if it’s too boring), a company that analyzes water samples contacted us. They’ve developed a database system for wastewater plants that processes the results of their water tests, compares the data to EPA’s regulations and tells the plant operator where they are in compliance with the law. This company would like to develop something similar for drinking water. They came to us, because we’re the drinking water experts. All fabulous, right?

Well, no. Because one of the things we do for EPA is assess water system data and their determinations about whether they are in compliance with the law. I’m essentially an auditor. So, if I were to help design a program to determine compliance, while I’m also assessing how well a system using that program does it, then I have the appearance of a COI. Because I could skew the results in my favor.

Now, I would never do that. I’m an objective scientist with strong personal and professional ethics. None of that matters – our company could lose multi-million dollar contracts if there’s any chance of COI. Because my client, EPA, awarded me this contract to be their agent and no one else’s.

We had several meetings on this issue and eventually decided any role we’d play would have to be one step back. I can explain the federal regulations and the nitty-gritty of compliance to the program developers, but how they set it up is up to them.

So, let’s look at a literary agent publishing her clients’ work. A writer engages a literary agent to represent her work to publishers. The agent has the contacts, the sales experience and the business savvy to get her client the very best possible deal. The agent represents the writers’ interests.

If the agent becomes a publisher, she now has an interest on the other side of the fence. To my mind, this is more than even just the appearance of COI. Arguably, agents who are also writers have this same conflict. Breezily declaring that, oh they have no COI and, besides, they have integrity simply means nothing at all.

In fact, that some agents fob off COI as irrelevant says to me that they haven’t seriously considered the issue.

I’d believe that. It might be that you only really think about these things when you have to go through three meetings investigating all the possible COI ripples for each new project, that it becomes a serious consideration.

The thing is, it’s only a consideration for them if it becomes a problem in their contract with their clients: the authors. Just like I would be in trouble if I violated my contract with my client, EPA, an agent would be in trouble for violating the terms of their contract with their client, the author, only if the author came down on them. Now, EPA and the federal contracts office can come down on us like Armageddon. Will an author come down on her agent in the same way?

I think we all know the answer to that.

I venture that this is why literary agents aren’t terribly concerned about COI. There’s really no reason for them to be. The only people hurt by any COI on their part is the writers.

It remains to be seen whether we’ll do anything about it.

Really Published

I find this really amusing – my Kindle is now dog-eared.

I don’t mind a bit. It seems right to me that my Kindle should look like my paper books – well-used and a bit tattered from being carted about hither and yon. I’ve had it for coming up on three years now and I still love it.

Last night we did drinks and dinner with another couple to celebrate David’s birthday and the gal was asking me about my experiences with e-publishing. She wanted to know if I *could* get paper copies of my books. I told her it varies with my contracts, but I vaguely recall that the Carina contract promises me some bound paper copies for promotional purposes, but I’d have to look at it again to be sure. And, if the book sells well or seems likely to do well in print, they have the right to do that. Which is why they call it “digital-first” publishing.

“But if you ever decided to have these books published, you could, right?” she asked.

“They are published,” I tell her.

“Right. But if you wanted to have them really published, so you could hand a copy to your mother or something – could you do that?”

I didn’t mention that my lovely mother has a Kindle of her own.

It will be interesting to see how long this notion of “really published” lasts. She seemed to think I’d be longing for the validation of a print book. And, to be fair, I know plenty of authors – especially ones looking to get their first book published – who really want that. They make what I think are dubious decisions between publishing houses, because they want print books, too.

This is not something I care about.

I have a print book. (Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel) It’s very pretty; it has many stars on Amazon. Book resellers will nearly pay you to take it. I’ve sold in the neighborhood of twice as many copies of Petals and Thorns, which apparently doesn’t really exist, as they ever printed of Wyoming Trucks.

If that sounds like I’m bitter, I’m really not. It’s all well and good to have a hardbound university press book and have people say lovely things to you about it. But having people actually read what I write is far more rewarding.

It doesn’t get any more real than that.

How to Get Everything Done

Yes – it’s the moment you’ve anxiously awaited. The beaked yucca bloomed!

Isn’t she pretty? Or he. We’re not sure how to tell.

If you haven’t been following the slow progress of the yucca bloom, you can see it here, here and here. Yeah, it’s been a long, slow process. Delightful result.

I mentioned last week that I went to Memphis this weekend to talk to the River City Romance Writers. It’s always a real treat to talk to other authors about the industry and process and writing time. They asked me to talk about writing novellas, then we worked into epublishing, do you need an agent and which epubs are the best these days and why I think so. We talked for two hours.

One thing that struck me was they wanted to know how I get it all done. This is always the hard question. It’s an easy answer, but no one really likes to hear it. I’ve talked about prioritizing before, so I won’t wax on about it right now. However, one thing that occurs to me is this old adage:

The more you do, the more you can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how the writing fuels us, rather than the reverse. I think it’s a fallacy to say “oh, I’ll write when I have more time.” Or “I’ll start exercising when I have more energy.” The thing is, time and energy don’t just appear on their own. It’s kind of a “if you build it, they will come” proposition. If you insist on having the time to write, the time will be there. If you exercise, you’ll feel better and more energized. Just talk to anyone who’s retired or has been laid off from their jobs – they’ll tell you they don’t know where the time goes. I’ve been this soldier many, many times. When I have plenty of time to do something, I fritter 90% of it away. If I have only a short space of time? Boy, do I pile on the effort and get it done.

When I was in college, the president of the sorority was awarded most improved GPA. The former president leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that proves it right there: the more you do, the more you can do.”

The best thing about getting all those things done?

The rush of energy, baby!

Now git ‘er done.

Digital Publishing – What a Long, Strange Year It’s Been

Today is Carina Press’s one year anniversary. Word-Whores is hosting one of Carina’s executive staff, Aideen O’Leary-Chung, Director of Digital Commerce for Harlequin and Carina Press. If you hie over there, you stand to win some pretty fab prizes.

It’s funny that it’s been a year since Carina launched. So much has happened since then. Reading through the various posts (there are 20 in all), it’s interesting to hear the reminiscences of the Carina folks. It makes me remember how it all appeared to us, from the outside.

Today is the anniversary of Carina’s launch – when they debuted their first books to the world. But we first heard about Harlequin’s new digital imprint quite a bit before that. The news astonished everyone because, *gasp* Carina would not be offering advances.

This sent RWA into a frenzy. The Romance Writers of America non-profit corporation is one of, if not the most, powerful writers organizations in the world. The venerable standard of RWA has been, for decades, that to qualify as an approved publisher, they must give their writers advances. This has been a non-negotiable standard that, really, any legitimate publisher could meet. It was a low bar for a very long time.

And then the world turned and times changed.

With the advent of electronic publishing, paying the author up front no longer made so much sense. Instead epubs offer authors much higher royalties (~35% for most as opposed to 8-10% for print). Carina chose that business model.

Well, this turned into a BFD, because Carina was an imprint of Harlequin, which means just a subset of the overall company, and Harlequin has been the queen of romance publishing for longer than RWA has been in existence. And boom! Harlequin could no longer be an approved publisher by RWA.

At the time, no one could understand why Harlequin was doing it. They were accused of vanity publishing (where authors pay to get published). People thought they were completely nuts to potentially compromise their publishing empire for, what? some stupid ebooks??

They sorted it out. I believe (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) Harlequin satisfied RWA by legally separating themselves from the Carina digital arm. Harlequin is approved. Carina is not.

And look what the last year has wrought.

Ebooks are now the only part of the publishing market that’s growing instead of losing money. More and more people have ereaders. Everyone wants to digitally publish. I’d love to see a list of all the epubs started in the last six months.

I set my sights on Carina because they have the forward-thinking excitement and savvy of the electronic market founded on the Harlequin rock of excellent business sense. I’m so pleased that Sapphire will be published by them in October.

Happy One-Year Anniversary Carina Press!