Reading about imaginary characters and their adventures is the greatest pleasure in the world. Or the second greatest.”  Anthony Burgess

This week I’m looking at the Spotlight on Kensington Books from the Romance Writers of America’s national convention in Washington, D.C.

The spotlight was presented by Steve Zacharias, CEO of Kensington, Editorial Director Audrey LeFehr, Publisher Laurie Parkin and Karen Auerbach, Publicity Director.

 Kensington publishes in hardcover, trade paper, mass market paper and ebook formats. This is their 35th year. They are an independently owned publisher. Ms. Parkin reported that Kensington’s business has grown every year for the past three years, in spite of the economy.

Karen talked about marketing at Kensington. They do a lot of online advertising, including videos. Every author receives a questionnaire, which helps them plan a marketing campaign. She said the best thing author can do to help the marketing department is to get the manuscript in on time, because the campaign starts there. If they don’t have a manuscript, they can’t implement a campaign and a good campaign takes time. A website and blogs are also helpful.

 Audrey LeFehr spoke next. She says historical romance is doing particularly well for Kensington. They are still open to contemporary romance. They prefer sexier books. They like paranormal romance, romantic suspense and African American romance. They are also interested in women’s fiction (aka “quality fiction”) which they publish in trade paperback. They are open to “interesting ethnic fiction” and cited books by Indian and Chinese authors on their list. They are also interested in historical fiction.

 In Aphrodesia, Audrey needs “really original ideas.” One example was Wolf Tales, by Kate Douglas, about shape-shifting wolves. The concept needs to be carried over many books. “I need to see something in Aphrodesia you can’t get in romance. It can’t be just a very sexy romance – readers get that in Brava.” In Brava, the focus is on racheting the level of sexuality up. Brava covers are being redesigned. The books come out in trade paper and mass market paperback. Kensington accepts both agented and unagented authors. Send a cover letter, the first three chapters and a synopsis no longer than five pages. You may query only by email. The editor’s email addresses are listed on the guidelines page. Find Kensington’s submission guidelines here.

Editors who were not at this Spotlight, but who are acquiring are Editor in Chief John Scognamiglio, Assistant Editor Megan Records and Editor Selina James, who heads Kensington’s Dafina African American Program. **********************************

Gumshoe Review is interested in short fiction mysteries and nonfiction articles about the mystery field. Maximum 1000 words. They pay five cents a word. Email submissions to Editor Gail Surrette at editor@gumshoereview.com Visit their website for more information.

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 Danielle Perez will be the new executive editor at New American Library, starting January 4. Ms. Perez will be acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction. She was previously with Ballantine, Bantam Dell and Random House.

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Her Christmas Wish is available now. It’s a fun holiday romance set in Crested Butte, Colorado. Any Denver area readers can pick up a copy Friday, December 11 at the Barnes and Noble on 16th Street Mall, from 11 – noon. I’ll be signing copies as part of a fund-raiser for the Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book Motherread, Fatherread program, which promotes parents reading to their children. Please stop by and say hello, and maybe pick up a few Christmas presents.

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