We’re going to be taking turns updating this blog to share a behind the scenes look at Carina Press. Our love books and of all things digital has led us to launch this new initiative and we couldn’t be more excited at the possibilities. Who is this “we” that I keep referencing?
We are members of Harlequin’s Digital Team. With a unique blend of editorial and marketing expertise, together we’ve developed a powerful website and store, established the preeminent eBook publishing program that includes original content and utilized social media to build better relationships with readers.
Launching a digital publishing house that takes advantage of our unique skills is our logical next step. There are hundreds of fantastic stories out there that for one reason or another don’t yet have a home. Our intent is to give them one and provide the authors behind them with opportunities to play an active role in this exciting and ever-changing digital space.
I’ll introduce you to more people as we move forward (and we are going to have some exciting people announcements), but I’ll start with some of the key players who have been involved in this exciting project.
First and foremost, I’m delighted to announce the hiring of Angela James as Executive Editor of Carina Press. Angela brings a wealth of experience and passion for digital publishing and great stories.
Angela James, Executive Editor. Angela has been an avid reader for as far back as she can remember, and started reading her first romances in fourth grade—when she’d sneak a Harlequin category romance or two from the brown paper bag where her mom kept her stash. She’s been reading romances of all genres since then, and though she’s since moved her reading to digital copies, she’s still a voracious reader of romance, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, fiction and cookbooks. Angela is the newest member of the team, but comes to Harlequin and Carina Press with seven years of experience in the digital arena, after working for various digital publishers.
Malle Vallik, Director Digital Content & Social Media: Malle’s background and expertise is in combining innovative editorial with digital and was named one of the top 50 Women in Publishing by Book Business Magazine. Malle loves reading commercial fiction, everything from romance to fantasy to thrillers. She’s incredibly excited by the range of editorial Carina Press will publish. There are no rules. Malle proudly watches more television than most people will admit but will happily give up some tv watching for submission reading.You can follow her on twitter.com/mallevallik.
Brent Lewis, Vice President Digital & Internet: With an extensive publishing background, Brent was recently named one of the top 40 online marketers in Canada. He has also managed Harlequin’s international digital businesses. He’s passionate about hockey and Arsenal Football team. He admits to having read more than one romance novel.
Eleanor Elliott, Director Digital Commerce: Eleanor has been working in the digital space for 14 years, the last 10 of which have been at Harlequin, and currently leads the charge on eHarlequin.com. An avid reader since childhood, Eleanor loves getting lost in a great story and always has multiple books on the go. Her favorites genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical romance. She is incredibly excited to be working on Carina Press.
Aideen O’Leary-Chung, Manager Digital Commerce: As a member of the Harlequin team for 10 years, three of them as part of the Digital team, Aideen has been thrilled to be allowed to indulge in her love of books – historical romance, thrillers and contemporary romance being amongst her favorite types of books – under the guise of working. She can’t wait to seeing what previously unimagined genres our authors will create within Carina Press! In the rare instances when she’s not reading, she’s watching TV, corralling two small boys or doing all three at the same time.
Angela, Brent, Eleanor, Aideen and I have been working like crazy behind the scenes creating a business plan, developing the Carina Press brand and logo, writing editorial guidelines, setting up the submissions inbox, and have begun work on the Carina Press bookstore. Every once in a wheile, we would stop and smile at how easily most hurdles were overcome, do a little happy dance about what a great idea Carina Press was, and how happy we were to be creating it, and then we’d go tackle the next hurdle.
Today is the day we’ve been working toward: our “birth” if you will, and the start of editorial acquisitions.
Tomorrow will be about marketing plans, acquisitions, covers.
Today we’re celebrating.
If you know me at all, you know that being covert is not a characteristic often associated with me. I’m terrible at it , (yes, I do know my heart is sitting on my sleeve – thanks for asking) so it’s ironic that I should have been tasked with creating and implementing a marketing plan for Carina Press and not be able to tell anyone what I was doing!
My double life began with an innocent inquiry email about the Romantic Times BookLovers Convention. They wanted to know if we would be interested in sponsoring one of the lunches for the 2010 Convention. Would we? It was serendipity. The Convention is timed just prior to the launch of Carina Press, the perfect place to introduce romance readers to our new passion. I booked it immediately…and the caginess began.
Once the booking was confirmed, they wanted a description of the luncheon. I just knew that if pressed (and frankly with very little coercion) I would be compelled to blurt out, “We have a new business! It will feature genres like steam punk and be only digital format and have new releases weekly!” Not an option. Well, having seen every James Bond movie ever made, I was ready. I responded with an email cloaked in vagueness. “I’ll have to get back to you. We haven’t finalized our plans”. Ha, that would teach them to scope for information.
My next move in this marketing chess game (played by one) was to book print ads. I sent the inquiries, booked the spaces and then…the dreaded question. “What should this ad be booked under?” They know I’m from Harlequin. Why would they ask such a question? What did they know? I was certain that this level of detail hadn’t been required in the past. Again, I played it cool, responding to book it under Harlequin for now, content to be determined. I would not be forced to share my secrets.
But it was clear the pressure was getting to me. Between muttering about constellations in my sleep and drafting emails with promotion ideas that couldn’t be sent, I was desperate for November to come. And now it has…so be prepared, I might be emailing you with some crazy ideas and I certainly welcome a few of yours. I may still be a double agent but at least everyone’s in on it.
I had lunch with ah writer friend of mine – let’s call her Jane – last week. Since it was less than a week to the announcement about Carina Press I swore Jane to secrecy and told her all about it. My Myers-Briggs1 personality type is ENTP, which means I’m a social person. Trust me, we social types have a hard time keeping secrets. It had been months and I needed to tell the exciting news about the launch of a digital house to someone in the business2!
Jane was intrigued and asked lots of questions, especially about how the author was financially compensated. At first, Jane was puzzled by the lack of advance offset by high royalty, but after some discussion about reaching new markets, author and publisher utilizing social media to reach readers, Jane twigged on to how the digital arena is different and potentially appealing. Jane realized she could pitch a nontraditional story3 and potentially be amply rewarded if she hit a popular vein.
This part of our lunch I’d been expecting – I’d even honed my talking points – when the completely unexpected happened. Jane pitched me a book. A historical military mystery4.
And I began to get excited. In the olden days5 when I used to edit print books, I would have been intrigued by this idea but I would also have been trying to fit it into an existing category. After all, I couldn’t just make up a category6. Instead I would most likely have asked Jane to increase the romance, make the mystery more thriller-like or women-in-jeopardy type storyline and possibly move the story to Regency times.
But now I’m free. I can ask Jane to write the book she envisions and if I love it as much as she does then we’ll publish it. Our brilliant marketers will create a plan on how to sell it as a historical military mystery. Boo Yah!*
That’s why I’m excited!
1. Myers-Briggs – helps you figure out how to play nice with others. If you have taken 3 or more personality tests you need to face the hard truth that writing in a garret on the Left Bank in Paris may not be in your future and you are, in fact, a cubicle dweller.
2. business – family doesn’t count. They nod politely but their eyes glaze over as you carefully explain the difference between vampires and werewolves.
3. non-traditional – doesn’t include babies, weddings or cowboys
4. historical military mystery – something completely different!
5. olden days – aka the 1990s
6. make up a category? Freedom!
7. boo yah – military term for excitement.