Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More Bumps in the Road for Romance Publishing: To Quit...or Not? by @KarynGerrard #Opinion

Harlequin (owned by HarperCollins since 2014) announced they are deleting 5 lines from their stable.

Superromances (longer novels), Western, formerly American (cowboy stories), Love Inspired Historicals (Christian), Kimani (African American), and Nocturne (paranormal)

This is a blow to all authors in these lines because if the past is any judge, unless Harlequin invites them to submit to another line, they are cast adrift.

I am not sure what HarperCollins has planned for Harlequin in the long-term, but I would guess as time goes by, you will see more lines disappear or go completely digital only.

Here's the thing, those dedicated readers of Harelquin's romance lines (Desire, Presents, Suspense, etc) are growing older. Way older. Younger readers are not all that keen on trope heavy, rigidly structured stories. (At least from what I have observed) Also, I am not seeing any evidence younger readers are even embracing romance as a genre as other generations have in the past.

Also the old publishing model of Harlequin books (available on the shelf only for a month) seems archaic and wasteful. And let's not forget there is even less space for paperback books, it seems to shrink every time I go into a store. And what is up with bookstores placing the romance section in back corners?

But beyond the shake-up at Harlequin, this will have a trickle down effect. Editors may also be out of work, agents will see a drop in income...you get the picture.

Decisions will have to be made. Self-publish? Try another publisher? Or the big choice...quit altogether.

I believe many authors have been finding themselves at the crossroads the past year or so. I will confess, I did last year. I was about to quit, then decided to slide back into hobby mode, revise e-books as the rights are reverted, self pub at my leisure. After going through a couple of publisher closures, I wasn't keen on submitting to pubs any longer. Besides, I had one proposal out to a publisher and hadn't heard anything for months.

Typically, once I had my mind made up, the publisher offered me a three ebook deal. I got an agent. All of the sudden I'm a full-time author. But here's the thing, I have no expectations. NONE. The romance publishing biz is in flux, digital sales are down (Let's face it, the bubble has burst) I can throw in Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, etc into the mix as well. A lot of factors are playing into the many shifts happening and you know there is more to come.

The best thing to do is if you love to write...then write. Follow your own path but prepare for a rough road. Do what is best for you. Understand that being in paperback is becoming more difficult and don't beat yourself up about it if it never comes to pass or if you find the only choice before you is digital. Understand that making a living wage is next to impossible for most romance writers. If you accept these truths, I firmly believe you won't be disappointed. Write for you. Your own pleasure. And if you want to share them with the world, by all means publish them by whatever process you can.
Do what's right for you.
To everyone affected by the Harlequin line closures, stay strong.

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