Links: Tuesday, December 10th

A color illustration of a fairy riding on the back of a corgi.Fairies riding on corgis.

  • The Jade Temptress & the Future of Jeannie Lin – This news kind of made me get my rant on. I’m frustrated with white readers, but I’m also irked that HQN is giving up so easily. There’s a market for multicultural romance out there, but I don’t think you’ll find them by marketing to the same white readers you’ve been marketing HQN historical books to. Ugh, I don’t even know what to say anymore.

    In September 2013, Harlequin HQN released my first single title historical romance set. The Lotus Palace was supposed to be a new milestone in my writing career. A chance for a higher advance, wider distribution, more readers.

    It tanked. The print sales were so poor on Lotus that Harlequin pulled the sequel, The Jade Temptress, from print distribution to publish it digital only. There’s no other way to slice it – this is a huge step back from the Jeannie Lin master plan.

  • The problems with #WhiteAlly #AllyClub by @suey_park – Writer Suey Park went to town on Twitter the other day, tearing self-professed “allies” to shreds.

     

  • 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis – In a similar vein, Buzzfeed has this picture listicle of people sharing the cluelessly hurtful microagressions they’ve experienced. (h/t to Alisha Rai)

    Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves. Often, they are never meant to hurt – acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult. Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

  • Marginalized Characters Do Not Define The Story – This should be required reading for anyone looking to write the “other.” Writing marginalized characters to fill a plot purpose is not only offensive, it’s shitty writing.

    If Harry Dresden were gay, then suddenly The Dresden Files is a series about sexuality. If Claire were Black, then The Morganville Vampires would morph into a book about race. If Gin Blanco were followed around by several GBLT friends, then they may even be books that are trying to play politics or make a point!

    Of course, people forget that being straight is a sexuality, or that being White is a race. Harry Dresden is definitely straight, we see several of his love interests (and he hardly sees any woman without wanting to have sex with her) yet, no-one would characterise this series as some kind of treatise on straightness or straight sexuality. But include a major gay character and suddenly it’s making a statement. Now it’s a commentary on all gay sexuality, now it has an agenda.

  • The World’s First Hunk: Why We’re Obsessed with Muscle Men – Ran across this one on my Tumblr feed and found it fascinating. It has lots of pictures of Old Timey bodybuilders, some of which wear only a fig leaf. Literally.

    When Eugen Sandow took the stage in 1894, clad only in a pair of miniature briefs, audiences swooned. Not only did Sandow have one of the finest musculatures in the Western world, but he made physical beauty his primary talent: Instead of focusing on magic tricks or daring feats, Sandow simply posed like a gorgeous hunk of marble.

    Though the bodybuilding trend was initially based on notions of health, it found broad appeal using the allure of physical attraction. Instead of catering to mainstream morals, German-born Sandow played up his womanizing reputation, even encouraging scandalous rumors to circulate. It was no accident that the imagery of “physical culture,” as recreational exercise was known, became closely intertwined with sexuality and pornography.

The following two tabs change content below.

Ridley

An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

Latest posts by Ridley (see all)

40 comments for “Links: Tuesday, December 10th

  1. December 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

    It doesn’t sound like Harlequin is giving up easily. Didn’t she say she had ten books in five years, and the sales were never there. I know people who got dropped after one book, let alone ten. Sounds like HQN went the distance with this one. And if you don’t market them to people who read HQN historicals, who do you market them to? It’s not like they have a huge base of readers of multicultural books in general. Other than Kimani they’ve never been able to make that fly, and, of course, Kimani has zero crossover. I think they tried an Asian and a Latina imprint, but those didn’t make it.

    This is the bottom line and as much as we weep and gnash our teeth we cannot continue to kick it: White readers are not interested in reading romance written about POC characters when the author is herself a POC. It’s possible that if Jeannie’s last name was Smith, or if she had put a white woman in those same settings, the books would’ve sold. There’s not a whole helluva lot you can do about that. And we can’t continue to blame publishers for not publishing books they know won’t sell. Lord knows I’ve fought this same battle and it’s taken me more than a decade to finally face that sad fact.

    Now, you’ll have a dozen people come up in this thread claiming “they don’t see color,” or they don’t know their fave author’s race. Uh-huh. Hell, they might even believe it, but if they do they’re so deep in denial they’re up to their crotches in crocodiles. It is what it is. It was a great experiment and I watched it with great interest and am deeply saddened by it. I like Jeannie’s stories, even though I’d never been interested in Chinese history before, I am a fan of historicals. It’s my fave genre. I hate that so many talented writers are falling to the wayside for no other reason than their skin color. No, it’s not like having dogs set on you in Selma, but it’s soul-destroying nonetheless. I wish Jeannie the best.

    ReplyReply
  2. December 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    White readers are not interested in reading romance written about POC characters when the author is herself a POC.

    I was beginning to get that impression from reading many of the recommendations recently posted in response to Jackie Horne asking for recommendations for romances featuring WoC.

    And I agree with you that it doesn’t sound as though Harlequin gave up easily:

    For six novels and four short novellas, Harlequin stuck by me. They never white-washed my covers. They promoted me when they could have easily spent time talking up other more lucrative authors. I can almost guarantee you that Harlequin at any time could have put out a historical romance in my slot set in almost any other era besides mine and made more money. Instead, my editors worked their asses off. The art department went above and beyond themselves again and again. The digital department stepped forward, creating trailers and trying out promotions. And even when my sales in the category line were humble at best, they still said, “Let’s try you in single title with HQN.”

    ReplyReply
  3. Ridley
    December 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Well, I think they’re giving up on the single-title releases through HQN easily. The other releases were through Harlequin Historical and Harlequin Historical Undone. Those lines are a lot more varied in terms of characters and settings than HQN releases are. People like me, who are bored with the copy/paste white regency/Victorian historical trend, know not to bother looking at HQN for new books, because every single one they’ve published, save this one, has fallen into that well-worn lane. Meanwhile, Harlequin Historical offers at least two non-regency/Victorian books every month, so we’ll browse that line.

    That’s what I mean by not reaching the readers interested in MC romance. HQN’s editorial has created an expectation among its readers for a certain kind of familiar story. That leads to their readers not being up for anything unfamiliar. Why anyone thinks you can just plop something different in there one time and draw conclusions about the salability of the theme/content is not something I understand.

    And, ugh, don’t get me going on the comments on that RNFF post. It’s all white readers suggesting white authors. So embarrassing.

    ReplyReply
  4. Meoskop
    December 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with Roslyn, I don’t think this is on Harlequin.

    ReplyReply
  5. December 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Maybe it’s just me Ridley, but I suspect the majority of Harlequin readers buy there BECAUSE they want the familiar. They’re like the McDonald’s of publishing, and no, I’m not saying that in a negative way. People return time and time again because they’re a known quantity. Anywhere in the world you can order a Big Mac and have an expectation of what you’ll get. There’s a certain comfort there, so much so that Harlequin still does pretty well with their subscriber service. People don’t buy particular authors, they buy “a Harlequin” with a basic understanding of what that entails. And that’s what they want. Indeed, I suspect that outside certain outliers, that’s what most romance readers want. I hear all the time that readers are looking for “something different.” Yet, when I write “something different” it doesn’t sell. Meanwhile “secret baby virgin billionaire vampire alpha holes” sell like hotcakes, even if it’s the millionth book with that particular trope. Clearly there’s a difference in what people SAY they want, and what they’ll actually put their money down for.

    ReplyReply
  6. Ridley
    December 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    Maybe it’s just me Ridley, but I suspect the majority of Harlequin readers buy there BECAUSE they want the familiar.

    Right. Which is why she was doing reasonably ok in Harlequin Historical, which regularly serves up “unusual” historicals.

    All I’m trying to say is that I think publishers would need to regularly offer MC romances for a while before the readers who want them show up in large numbers to buy them. I am, of course, not expecting this to happen. But that’s how it looks to me.

    ReplyReply
  7. December 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Right, no publishers aren’t going to continue to publish books that don’t make money, nor should we expect them too. And frankly, I’m not convinced it would make a difference anyway. I don’t think the “large numbers” of readers exist. I think the folks who want to read MC are not having a helluva lot of trouble finding them. After all, we live in a world of every ready access to information. There are more and more blogs specializing in multicultural romances and even if you can’t search on Amazon, you sure as hell can on google. MC romances are a niche, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. UNLESS you are an established white author, then you’ll have no trouble getting mainstream publishing contracts with POC characters. Everybody else is SOL, and that’s nobody’s fault but the readers.

    ReplyReply
  8. December 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    @Ridley:

    she was doing reasonably ok in Harlequin Historical, which regularly serves up “unusual” historicals.

    That’s not how I read this:

    even when my sales in the category line were humble at best, they still said, “Let’s try you in single title with HQN.”

    It sounds to me as though, even in the line which “regularly serves up ‘unusual’ historicals” these books weren’t doing particularly well. Harlequin did give it a while: she had four books published in that line. From what Jeannie Lin writes, I have the impression that Harlequin thought that she might do better in their “single title” line which, as far as I know, is considered a step up by authors previously published in one of the category lines. As Jeannie Lin writes, the move to HQN was “A chance for a higher advance, wider distribution, more readers” but it didn’t work out either. I’m not sure that there’s much more Harlequin can do in the short-term for her in their main lines. I get the impression that they’re trying to build up a readership for more diverse books via Carina but presumably the numbers of sales for most Carina books wouldn’t justify publication in paper too (although I think some of them do get published that way).

    ReplyReply
  9. nu
    December 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I love that Suey Park feed. Ugh, RNFF. Before you could say “derailment,” the conversation jumped to hypercriticism of Kimani’s submission guidelines. Maybe read a MC romance first?!?! I did not like what was quoted of the Weisser text, which seemed to read that Black aspirations or fantasies are the problem, or even the focus on class altogether, as if Black readers aren’t hailing from every class. Do we criticize white audiences for reading Greek billionaires? Are some people less deserving of fantasy than others? It just baffled me because they sounded like they expected every Black person to identify with destitution more than the next person. Translation of Weisser: “Why aren’t we talking more about extreme poverty in romances with Black people?” What?

    ReplyReply
  10. December 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    “Translation of Weisser: “Why aren’t we talking more about extreme poverty in romances with Black people?” What?”

    Yanno? That whole thread was hilarious to me. I’ve been reading romance for forty years and very rarely have I come across characters who were less than middle class. I’m surprised to come across a blue collar hero, though I have on occasion. Aside for the impoverished governesses so rife in Regencies, romance just doesn’t do poor people. That being the case, why would black romances be any different? It’s like those political debates when someone asks about black issues and suddenly the conversation turns to welfare. What?

    ReplyReply
  11. December 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    This is a really interesting discussion, and raises something that I’ve been thinking about because of your round-table, Sunita’s post at Dear Author and subsequent discussions, etc. etc. I am a white reader who *says* she wants to read more books by POC authors with POC characters. And I do. But I don’t follow through well on actually doing this (though I have just pulled one out of my TBR as a result of thinking about this).

    I realize what I’m going to say sounds like excuses, and probably because that’s exactly what they are. But for me, romance-reading is what I turn to for comfort, relaxation, escape, to some extent. I am more hesitant to try things that are risky–stories that might not be to my taste, or where I’m not sure I can trust the writing/editing. (I hardly read ANY self-pubbed authors whose traditionally-published works I haven’t already enjoyed, for instance. I am not someone who can read “past” sentence-level errors for the story). I read way more literary fiction by authors of color because it’s easier to find recommendations I *trust,* I will take more risks on types of stories, and my definition of reading pleasure is different than for genre.

    I read (and enjoyed) Jeannie Lin and Vicki Essex based on reviews I trust and because Harlequin writing/editing is always decent, so I trust that too. But at the same time, I look at Kimani guidelines and blurbs and think “that doesn’t sound like my thing,” and turn away without trying. I have to get over that and take more risks as a reader, but since I think of romance as “my fun/easy reading” that’s harder to do.

    I think part of white women recommending white authors to each other when this question comes up has to do precisely with what’s familiar, which is what many, many romance readers seek. Not that that makes it OK. Discoverability is more than just Googling. How do I tell the difference between a review site and a promo site? How do I learn whether I trust the reviewers’ taste? So much of Romanceland is promo. I’m pretty cynical and mistrustful of new book-discovery venues.

    But you know, it’s on me to do that work if I really care about a more diverse genre, about growing that niche audience by joining it. I admit I’m lazy when it comes to my romance-reading and discovery. But when I began reading romance, I read only Regency-set historicals. So surely I can keep stretching. Reading some books I don’t love along the way won’t kill me (I mean, that happens to me now!). I appreciate these conversations because they are a kick in the pants (many, repeated kicks) I need.

    ReplyReply
  12. Meoskop
    December 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    It’s funny you say that Liz, because that was on my mind yesterday in very similar words.

    ReplyReply
  13. December 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    reviews I trust

    Well, I’m not sure if this will help, because it generally seems to me that if I love something, other people will find it boring, but I’d really recommend Karyn Langhorne’s A Personal Matter. It’s a contemporary, one of my favourite romances, and I think it’s really funny in places, as well as being serious in others. Here’s an excerpt.

    I’d also really recommend Beverly Jenkins’ Belle which yes, is about slavery but is really heartwarming so I think it would be suitable when you’re looking for “comfort, relaxation, escape.” Here’s an excerpt.

    ReplyReply
  14. Beks
    December 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve avoided responding to the roundtable thread and this thread for the same reason I’ve decided to stop blogging about race and romance for the time being, but Liz’s comment sparked the need for me to express something that’s been rolling around in my head for a while.

    There is a reason why white readers and publishers have issues with reading/pushing MC romances written by POC. It’s called racism. Now before people get all put out, I’m talking the kind of non-violent racism that appears to have little to no impact, on the surface of things. Here’s how racism works in Romancelandia: WOC are viewed in a very certain light (whether it be the sexuality of Asian women or the lack of sexuality for black woman, or the Spicy Latina Trope) and when white readers think of WOC, these stereotypes are paired with the subject matter. You can combine socioeconomic status with all this and that just complicate things further.

    Here’s an example: I wrote a romance with a plus-sized Latina. I got the following feed back more than once: 1) she was too fat and unsexy. 2) she wasn’t spicy enough. SPICY was used in the review. I’ll let you marinate on those things for a moment. It wasn’t a picture book so I have no clue how too fat even played into things. But readers wanted the stereotype. In their heads plus-sized women are gross and Latinas have to behave a certain way.They wanted the Modern Family idea of what a Latin woman should be. The stereotype is comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

    We all read for escapism. I’ve had white people fantasy shoved down my throat since I was born so it’s not hard for me to envision a white woman who tends bar falling into the lap of a 25 year old white billionaire. I am also black so it’s not hard for me to think of black people finding themselves in the same situation. But white readers can barely wrap their minds around black billionaires who aren’t Oprah or in the NFL, so for them the fantasy is already destroyed. You can’t buy into/relax with a fantasy that your whole subconscious being is against.

    When Liz mentioned trusting recs on literary fiction with POC it’s probably because literary fiction more often times mimics the stereotype and thus is easier to believe as you’re suspending disbelief. It’s like all the top Oscar contenders about black people being movies about slavery, apartheid, and a being shot by Oakland PD. Audiences can buy blacks dealing with slavery and being shot cause guess what THAT’S OUR WHOLE FUCKING PUBLIC STORY! (sorry for yelling) But try switching in a black lead to any of the Cohen Brothers films that have been nominated in the last few years and those movies wouldn’t even be considered. POC pain and trauma is acceptable. POC HEA are not, it’s just the fabric of our culture. And I can back this up on a personal level because I know people who are shocked that I, a fat black woman, am in a healthy relationship with an attractive man. And I mean they don’t hide their shock.

    I don’t know how we change this because honestly, the rise of the POC character to me sounds like the rise of white people writing POC characters, not POC authors getting more shelf space. I’ve seen/heard plenty of people say YEAH we need more POC works and then the next book they are talking about is the typical white on white lovefest or something by Suzanne Brockman. That’s fine, but I guess just don’t blow smoke up my ass and tell me its drafty.

    I also think its easier to for white reader to read POC characters from white authors because they trust what they hear from white people to come from the white lens that they are comfortable with. Look up that article on how people with dark skin have a hard time selling the same products on line when their hands are in the frame. White consumers don’t trust what POC are pushing period. I mean The Help was one of the most talked about books of the decade, but if you tell people to read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, people will be like oh no, no I… no…

    Anywho, I’ve rambled on. Until people are willing to own up to and deal with their own racism and think about how much they embrace these stereotypes, we’ll be having this same conversation over and over again. And to that end, I do agree with Ridley and Roslyn on the point that Harlequin doesn’t have the environment that allow for books like Lin’s to do gangbusters.

    ReplyReply
  15. December 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Great discussion. First on the HQN/Jeannie Lin thing: I agree with Roslyn and Laura, I think Harlequin did about as much as you could expect a publisher to do. One thing that hasn’t come up here is the ebook v. print issue in terms of sales. I don’t know what the US market is doing in terms of the print v. ebook breakdown, but print is still huge in other parts of the world, including the UK, and if Lin didn’t have strong sales there, her print numbers would suffer disproportionately. I assume HQN was looking at all her sales, not just the US sales (although I don’t know that for sure).

    I think that personal decisions about comfort reading lead to institutional racism/ethnic discrimination in terms of what is available in the genre. From an individual point, readers who are seeking out relatively predictable reads or comfort reads are going to go where they think they won’t be surprised, or will be surprised in a good way. They figure white authors are more likely to do that (I doubt readers are aware they’re even making that distinction). Then, when they read the book, either they’re going to get a comfortable amount of race/ethnicity awareness (mixed race character who doesn’t act too far off the white model) in a way they’re used to in TV, film, etc. Nothing too uncomfortable-making. Some writers will be an unpleasant surprise in that regard, but most won’t.

    Readers don’t have that expectation with POC authors, and you can tell them otherwise until you’re blue in the face that the books are just regular romances, they’ll nod and think they believe you, and then go read Mary Jo Putney on half-Indian princes again. Or recommend Suzanne Brockmann.

    ReplyReply
  16. December 10, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Beks, I think I’m in love with you.

    ReplyReply
  17. nu
    December 11, 2013 at 12:47 am

    If Harlequin merged Kimani into their other lines without regressing, they could change expectations. At one time, white consumers and producers didn’t think that white audiences could relate to POC characters -yes, the irony- but I think that’s clearly been proven untrue, with “overperforming” media like Best Man Holiday, Think Like a Man, The Butler, Sleepy Hollow, etc. Eventually, literature will catch on too. Publishers need to cultivate talent, exploit hot trends -if I was a publisher I’d sell Roslyn’s Rock Star when Backstage Pass was hot, reissue Perfect Chemistry now that New Adult’s hot- cross-polinate and broadcast their gems, don’t keep them in a backroom. And yeah, bloggers/reviewers need to try too. They accept the most illiterate self-pubs -I’ve seen what they read!- and literally will read time travel before they’ll read a POC protagonist, lol. Word of mouth is gold.

    PS. Agree with Laura about Jenkins and Langhorne! Good reads!

    ReplyReply
  18. December 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Thanks for this discussion — it has given me a lot to think about. As Liz Mc2 says, it’s on me as a white person to seek these stories out. It’s not good enough for me to just read what’s easy to find.

    So, that being said — Beks, I would *love* to read your story with a plus sized Latina heroine. What is the title?

    ReplyReply
  19. Beks
    December 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    @Eliza Evans: Hey Eliza, It’s called At Her Feet. Just a heads up, its a Lesbian BDSM title that features a very specific kink. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    ReplyReply
  20. December 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    @nu, I think it Harlequin mainstreamed Kimani tomorrow it would collapse upon itself within a year if not sooner. Their core readers would be pissed because they’d have to search amongst dozens of books to find their faves, and white readers aren’t going to pick up books with black women on the covers. So, who exactly would benefit from this experiment?

    Harlequin doesn’t want to change expectations. That would be like McDonald’s suddenly serving hot dogs instead of hamburgers. They’ve spent decades establishing themselves as a KNOWN quantity, I don’t think they’re going to be putting that at risk anytime soon. What I think they should do is create a new imprint for those readers who are actually looking for something different. But, as I’ve said before, despite their protestations to the contrary, most readers ARE NOT looking for something different.

    ReplyReply
  21. Ridley
    December 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    @Roslyn Holcomb: I believe their American Romance line is their lowest-selling one. I wish they’d reboot it with multicultural stories every month. You know, include the full range of Americans. That could work.

    ReplyReply
  22. December 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I can definitely see that Ridley. I’m not that familiar with their various lines as I mostly buy Kimani, but something like that could be very effective, especially if they broke it down into types. Which is the main complaint against Kimani.

    ReplyReply
  23. nu
    December 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    @Roslyn: Well, I could be wrong, but aren’t Harlequin readers mostly subscribers? If you need something to read and you read what’s dropped on your doorstep, I don’t think a lot of readers are going to trouble themselves to return them or raise a fuss.

    ReplyReply
  24. December 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    @Ridley: I’d so be on board with an AR reboot. I want to see more small-town romances with diverse casts and fresh voices. I understand the appeal of a category romance – in establishing an expectation of the reading experience – but a lot of the bigger imprints seem intentionally insular.

    I learned pretty quickly I can’t write category-style romances, but I do read them and usually enjoy them. Am I bothered that families that look like mine don’t show up in the mainstream lines (or even in Kimani, for that matter)?

    Yeah.

    But…I just spend my money elsewhere when I’m looking for that. Amazon and ARe keywords are my friends.

    ReplyReply
  25. December 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    @nu, I don’t think most HQN readers are subscribers, but I could be wrong, but even if they are I suspect most would raise holy hell if books featuring POC suddenly started showing up on their doorstep. The returns/cancellations would be insane. Remember, these people are buying HQN for a known quantity, I would imagine that would be especially true of those who do subscribe. I was told early in my career that though I write IR books primarily I couldn’t put a white man alone on the cover of one of my books for fear readers would feel tricked and betrayed and return the books.

    Having worked in a bookstore I remember a situation like that with Brenda Jackson’s Delaney’s Desert Sheik. It came out in the HQN Desire line and people did return it because they assumed the girl on the cover was white. It was obvious to me that lead was black, but given that white is the default setting to many people, they were upset. I don’t know how many returns there were, but I know I processed two at my store.

    ReplyReply
  26. nu
    December 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    @Roslyn: They were returned? That’s depressing. :(

    ReplyReply
  27. Evangeline
    December 12, 2013 at 12:55 am

    @Beks: *Orson Welles in Citizen Kane clap*

    @Roslyn Holcomb: The irony of the few AA/MC fiction imprints mirroring the AA fiction section in bookstores, in terms of jumbling everything–inspirational, suspense, romance sub-genres, street lit, etc–in book place. Parker Publishing has category lines for MC/AA/IR romance, but I can’t tell if they’re still in business.

    @nu: The collapse of the subscription model is why Harlequin has struggled financially over the past couple of years. Younger and new readers grab from the shelves or their Kindles, and self-pub and category epubs like Entangled are eating Harlequin’s tail, which means Harlequin has to focus on their bottom line. Harlequin could afford to experiment and take risks when they had thousands of subscribers getting boxes of books each month, when readers would buy entire category lines each month from diverse places like gas stations and supermarkets, and when Harlequin was the only place for writers to submit 50k-60k word category style romances.

    ReplyReply
  28. December 12, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I know Evangeline, it is crazy frustrating. I understand why they do it, the niche is so tiny, it’s hardly worth the struggle to divide it up. Presumably if they had divisions they would have to release one of each every month. They might get some pushback. I’ve been waiting for HQN to buy Entangled. That’s their usual model when there’s competition. Maybe they’re not strong enough anymore.

    ReplyReply
  29. December 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

    @Evangeline, have you submitted anything at Entangled? I did a (very) cursory lookover at their site and didn’t see any multicultural books.

    ReplyReply
  30. Ridley
    December 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

    @Roslyn Holcomb: I know Entangled’s historicals editor has said she wants multicultural submissions, and the submissions guidelines explicitly ask for it. I haven’t seen any published yet, but they’re saying what I want to hear.

    In their contemporary lines, I know of Hot Knight in Paradise (which I reviewed here) and Playing the Part. Neither book really advertises that they’re multicultural, though, so they may have others and I just haven’t noticed.

    ReplyReply
  31. December 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I can only speak for Hot Knight. (I also go by the name of Sofia Harper, FYI,) But, I can say I had to nudge them to also put my book in the AA/MC category on Amazon. So there could be more MC titles.

    And that to me is the one of many problems. Most publishers don’t know how to sell AA/IR/MC books. The people who want to read it (folks who won’t blink when they see an AA couple on the cover), simply won’t find it when it’s buried in a category like contemporary. I know I was pretty clueless before I self-pubbed.

    The bigger bloggers could showcase these books more too. Yup. Won’t lie about that. Yet you can literally count on your hands the bloggers who are specifically geared toward MC/AA/IR romances. The resources aren’t there, but I can attest the readers are. May not be EL James numbers, but enough to make a living.

    As to how to make MC/AA/IR more popular to the masses? No idea.

    ReplyReply
  32. nu
    December 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    @Evangeline: Thank you for clarifying that. I was introduced to them through subscription years ago. I hadn’t realized things were changing.

    ReplyReply
  33. Evangeline
    December 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    @Roslyn Holcomb: The jumbling everything together is likely because of what Melissa Blue said: utter confusion over how to market the books. If the average reader just zooms right to the AA Lit section, there’s no need to do any creative handwaving to guide those readers to AA-penned science fiction or AA-penned romance.

    Macmillan either owns or has a significant stake in Entangled right now, but there’s a chance HQN did indeed make a bid.

    I intend to submit to the historical imprint once I figure out how to write shorter books, lol. I must admit that I would prefer a print contract for my AA historicals. That support and house-wide coordination Jeannie Lin spoke goes a long way towards getting “unusual” romances into readers’ hands. Not to mention the cover art! But I’m sure traditional publishing believes the market can only bear one author at a time (Beverly Jenkins…Jade Lee [who returned to writing Regencies after her Tigress series performed poorly]…Jeannie Lin).

    @nu: You’re welcome!

    ReplyReply
  34. nu
    December 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I only read one book by Jade Lee, but… it was bad, man. We don’t have to hold MC books to a higher standard than any others, but if we push bad books and people pick them up, they’ll just have an excuse to say, “Oh, yes, this is why I don’t read MC romance.” First impressions.

    ReplyReply
  35. Ros
    December 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    @Evangeline: Just to clarify, Macmillan does not own any stake in Entangled. Entangled has a contract with them to use their distribution services. Macmillan has no editorial input at all.

    ReplyReply
  36. Evangeline
    December 14, 2013 at 1:19 am

    @Ros: That sounds like a stake of some kind to me. I also recall–when the distribution deal was first announced–the dangling carrot over successful Entangled titles being picked up by Macmillan (similar to Jennifer Probst’s first Indulgence titles printed through Pocket/Gallery)… Macmillan isn’t providing distribution out of the goodness of their hearts! *shrugs*

    ReplyReply
  37. December 14, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I was wondering who the big boys were behind Entangled. An epub doesn’t get that big that fast without somebody greasing the wheels. I also wonder how they managed to get such a sweetheart deal with Amazon? Amazon is screwing over all the other small pubs by taking 50% off the top, leaving the author and the publisher to split the remaining 50%. More and more authors are choosing the 70% they can get from Amazon directly instead, which is presumably Amazon’s intention. How did Entangled manage to get a deal closer to what author’s get? Did Macmillan help, and can other small presses do the same?

    ReplyReply
  38. Ros
    December 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Evangeline, I guess it’s a stake in that they profit from the services they provide to Entangled, but they don’t own any share in the company.

    Roslyn, the deal with Macmillan has been running for around 12 months. The company has grown a lot in the last year but it was growing even faster (because starting smaller) before that. The Probst success was all pre-Macmillan. Since the distribution with Macmillan has been in place there have been some changes to royalties – print royalties are slightly increased and digital slightly less. I don’t know how that all works in terms of who negotiates what with Amazon and the other retailers.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *