August 2011


If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen

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This week I’m looking at the Spotlight on Kensington Books from the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City.

The Spotlight on Kensington was presented by publisher Laurie Parkin, Director of Marketing Leslie Irish Underwood, Director of Publicity and Public Relations Karen Auerbach, Editor in Chief John Scognamilio, Editorial Director Audrey LaFehr, Executive Editor Selena James and Editorial Director Alicia Condon. Kensington is the single largest full-line book pub left in the U.S. They’re family-owned. They publish about 500 books a year in all genres and formats. They have a staff of only 90 people. “Once you sign a contract with Kensington, you become part of the family.” They like to build careers.

The editors took turns talking about the company and some of their personal responsibilities:

John Scognamilio – 1 % of his list is nonfiction, 99% fiction. He has been at Kensington 20 years. Kensington publishes a lot of romance – historical, paranormal, contemporary, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, African-American. They also publish mystery, historical fiction, urban fantasy. They’re started to do some YA.

Alicia Condon – She’s the newest editor at Kensington, though she’s worked at other houses. She edits romance and is heading up the new YA program at Kensington. What she’s looking for in romance – great opening hook, every scene moves the story forward and builds the tension, and the book has intense emotion and an unforgettable ending. She doesn’t care what subgenre is in if you can give her a great story. She’s interested in “any kind of romance – from inspirational to erotica.” She heads up the Brava line of erotic romance – she’d especially like to see a “hot, contemporary western romance” for Brava.

 Audrey LaFehr – She’s been with Kensington for eight years and in publishing for 24 years. She edits a lot of different genres. She edits Fern Michaels, traditional historical romance, Brava, women’s fiction, historical fiction and erotic romance. She likes series.

Selena James – She heads up Dafina Books, Kensington’s African-American imprint. She’s been at Kensington for five years and was with Pocket prior to that. She works on a variety of books, from women’s fiction to romance to YA to literary commercial fiction. She’s looking for stories that will touch the reader.

The presenters next talked about the publishing process. They work a year to a year and a half ahead. Authors are asked for their input on the cover. The editor fills out an art sheet with his input and information about the author. Cover mock-ups are made, may be shown to buyers and the author, and a cover is chosen. Next comes marketing and publicity. Authors write an author bio and fills out an author questionnaire that helps the marketing department. Kensington sends out galleys to sales reps, reviewers, buyers and media. They participate in conferences, do giveaways and other creative marketing approaches. They do a lot of digital marketing. They are experimenting with publishing prequals and short stories digitally to promote author’s upcoming books. They’re also looking into establishing a digital-first line of books, though nothing is firm on that yet.

KensingtonBooks.com has a page for submissions that lists what all the editors are looking for and tells you how to submit. Kensington accepts both agented and unagented submissions. They’re very open to submissions and new authors.

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Last week I shared news about Take Part.org’s children’s story contest, in conjunction with the release of the movie, The Help. This week they have a new contest for short nonfiction. First prize winner gets a trip to New York to see a live performance of The MOTH Storytellers.  Submit your 400-word interview with an inspiring person you know. Get all the details here. Deadline for entries is September 5.

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As always, feel free to share information from this blog with others. Pass it along, reprint it in your newsletters…all I ask is that you give me credit and include a link to the blog. Thanks!  Cindi

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“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.” ~Sharon O’Brien

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This week I’m looking at the Spotlight on Bantam, Doubleday, Dell from the Romance Writers of America convention in New York City. 

Executive Editor Shauna Summers and many others from the publishing team at Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, presented this spotlight. Among those sharing the dais with Shauna were new Editor at Large Sue Grimshaw, editorial director Linda Marrow and associate editor Junessa Viloria. Bantam, Doubleday, Dell is an “all purpose, all format publisher of all kinds of fiction and nonfiction.” They are part of the Random House publishing group. They publish suspense and thrillers, literary fiction, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, contemporary and historical romance and women’s fiction. 

They like Regency and Scottish-set historicals, contemporaries with small-town settings, and cowboys. They also publish some romantic suspense and YA.

The big news from BDD is that they are relaunching Loveswept as a digital-first imprint. They launched in July with the re-release of eight Loveswept titles. They plan to release a combination of reprints and new, original content as ebooks first. Some of the titles may also go to print. This is an opportunity for unagented authors to break into BDD. The Loveswept program is open to all sub-genres of romance of various lenghts, from 30,000 word novellas to 100,000 word novels. The primary requirement is a “romantic, emotional story.”  The books should be sexy but not erotica. The books will be priced from $2.99 to $4.99, with most full-length books at $3.99. They pay an advance plus royalties of 25 percent of net. The same team will produce the digital titles as the print titles. Contact them through the email address at RomanceatRandom.com.

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Penumbra is a speculative fiction ezine launching in October. Produced by the editorial team at Musa Publishing, Penumbra pays five cents a word for short stories to 3500 words. Each issue will be built around a theme, but editors are open to a wide variety of stories, from dark fantasy to horror and science fiction. Humor is welcome, and a variety of themes. Right now, they’re particularly looking for stories with the following themes:

The arts — speculative fiction under 3000 words dealing with music, visual arts, performing arts — any kind of speculative fiction dealing with the arts. Call ends August 20, 2011.

Sports: have a football story with a spec fic twist? If it’s 3k or under, they’d like to see it! Call ends September 15, 2011.

Shakespeare: Penumbra has a particular and undying interest in the Bard–and any speculative fiction versions of his work OR spec fic stories that feature him as a character are welcome for this issue. Call ends October 31, 2011.

Please list the particular theme your story applies to in the subject line of your submission email. You can find all the submission guidelines here.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Reprint it in your newsletters, pass it on to friends. All I ask is that you credit me ats the source and include a link to this blog. Thank you. Cindi Myers.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

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I have lots of market news this week, so let’s get to it

First up, the Spotlight on Pocket Booksfrom the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City last month.

Pocket brought a variety of publishing personnel to this Spotlight. Among the speakers were Lauren McKenna, executive editor at Pocket/Gallery; Abbie Zidell, senior editor at Pocket; Meagan McKeever, editor at Pocket; and Micki Nuding, senior editor at Pocket. Pocket is the mass market imprint of Simon and Schuster. Gallery is the hard cover and trade paper imprint. 

Pocket publishes all sub-genres of romance. The editors spoke about some of their preferences: 

In paranormal, they prefer dark, sensual stories featuring vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters. Romantic Suspense does better for them if it is dark, gritty, steamy and sexy.  For historicals, they love Regencies, Medievals and Scottish settings. Sexy stories sell well in historical, but humor is also welcome. In contemporaries, they want small town appeal and big emotional drama  — “heart-warming and heart-breaking.’ These stories should be heart-tugging, with a powerful sense of community. 

Pocket publishes urban fantasy, which should feature a strong heroine, dramatic world-building and sexy action-adventure. These stories may be told in first person and may feature a character who continues across many books. They also publish paranormal romance, in which the focus is more on the romance.

 Gallery publishes both trade and hardcover women’s fiction that appeals to book club readers. They are looking for a special voice in these books.

 Pocket does not accept any unagented manuscripts or queries.

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A new e-publisher will be opening its doors soon and is accepting submissions now. Musa Publishing is open to submissions of contemporary and historical romance, erotic romance, horror, historical fiction, mystery, all kinds of speculative fiction including fantasy, science fiction and paranormal and YA. They’re open to all lengths of stories. Check out their detailed submission guidelines here.

The team behind Musa have worked for other epublishers and some of them are authors also.  They pay royalties of 50 percent of the cover price for books sold on the Musa store and 50 percent of net for sales to third-party retailers such as Amazon, Diesel e-books, etc. They plan to release as ebooks first, then trade paper for some titles. Royalty on print copies is 15 percent. Find an explanation of their terms here.

Musa plans to release its first titles in October

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The folks behind the movie The Help and Take Part.com have joined forces to host a Children’s Story Contest. Submit your children’s story of no more that 400 words that teaches positive values. Judge for the contest is Sesame Street writer Lou Berger. The winner’s story will be illustrated and published online.
But hurry — the deadline to enter is August 15. Find all the details here.

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I received a couple of good reviews this week from Night Owl Reviews for San Antonio Rogue and A Willing Spirit. 

San Antonio Rogue by Cindi Myers is a sweet and energetic romance set in the American Southwest at the beginning of the Mexican-American War. The story is full of likeable characters and colorful dialogue. It’s a well paced tale with some light military action, and while there aren’t any “cowboys” we do get a battalion of “dragoons” (light infantry) and some Texas Rangers. ” Read the full review here.

And for A Willing Spirit: ” This historical romance is definitely worth reading. This book contains great elements of love, marriage, and tolerance.” Read the full review here.

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Next week I’ll cover the Spotlight on Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, including their new ebook-only imprint, the reincarnation of Loveswept; as well as a new pro-paying speculative fiction e-zine and more!

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As always, feel free to share the information from this blog with others. Reprint it, forward it and include it in your newsletter — all I ask is that you give me credit and include a link to the blog. Thanks.