Friday, May 2, 2014

It's all about growing the business...by senior editor Victoria Curran


Timing is everything, and it’s my luck to be guest blogger today, the same day it was announced to the news media—and employees—that HarperCollins has an intent to purchase Harlequin from parent company Torstar. (Here’s a link to the Publishers Weekly announcement of the news, if you want to see more details: tinyurl.com/o7tdssy.) We’ve had a company-wide Harlequin meeting this morning to discuss the implications, and I just want to reassure all the Heartwarming authors and readers that it’s business as usual.

Our CEO, Craig Swinwood, confirmed what was in the press release to the media: it’s going to take a few months to obtain the regulatory approval in both the US and Canada, and during that time, nothing changes. We are going to continue to publish the best clean romances we can and give the growing readership for this niche market the satisfying, emotional reads they turn to us for.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that the market for clean romances is growing—I read tweets from a recent writers conference that inspirational publishers are all jumping into the “clean” fray and are actively searching for wholesome stories without the inspirational elements. Well, get in line, folks: we got here before you!

That brings me to the May Heartwarming books, which arrived in the Toronto office: Love them! 

 



 



We’ve got Melinda Curtis’s Season of Change, the third Harmony Valley Novel. If you’re sad to have to leave the vineyards of California behind at the end of this…don’t worry: Melinda has a new contract and there are three more stories to follow the original heroes who launched the original winery at the heart of these books.

Pamela Tracy’s second book set in Scorpion Ridge, Arizona, What Janie Saw has a strong suspense thread winding through it, which we’re glad to have for the rich variety of tone in our lineup. With longer books like ours, we can afford some to be more suspenseful, some more lighthearted, and some more emotional, such as Eleanor Jones’s The Country Vet.

I’m glad to see Eleanor’s debut blog up on the Heartwarming site here earlier—welcome, Eleanor! Her book takes me right back to James Herriott, the English country vet stories I loved so much growing up, except this time the vet’s the heroine.

And last but not least, I’m so pleased to include Cynthia Thomason’s second original Heartwarming in the lineup: A Soldier’s Promise. Some of Cynthia’s former Superromance books made it into the Heartwarming series when we were just testing the line with refreshed editorial, and she gives us the kind of complex characterization and emotional rollercoaster storytelling our readers want.

All in all, a very compelling month of new Heartwarming stories I’m sure our readers will love. To market growth in all its many forms and good news ahead!

Victoria


 

*Enjoy this picture of (from left to right) Dana Grimaldi, Claire Caldwell and me (in my Canadian Tuxedo) “dancing around the maypole” yesterday when the Harlequin Fun Committee got into work early and decorated the kitchenette!

36 comments:

  1. Lovely covers once again on the May releases! Congrats to the May authors:)
    And thank you for addressing the Harper Collins deal-change is good, right? :) Either way, Harlequin will continue producing great books for readers and by the sounds of the article, Harper Collins will gain great advantages to having us all on board as well.

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    1. Well, it was an eye-opening way to start my day: I got up early to write this blog and was reading through my emails. First, I see that Heartwarming author Jennifer Snow was nominated for a Golden Quill award for her debut HW book, The Trouble with Mistletoe: YAY, Jen!!! Second, I see that Heartwarming author Karen Rock was also nominated for a Golden Quill award for her debut HW book, With Me Tomorrow: YAY, Karen!!! Third, I see an email announcing the HarperCollins news from our CEO and that there will be a 9:30 meeting.....

      I was supposed to be working at home, but you have never seen an editor dress so fast. (I checked when I got in to make sure my shirt wasn't on backwards.)

      I'm reassured that it's business as usual and I really do think we're producing great books in a growing market. So I'm going to enjoy my weekend and I sure hope you all do, too!

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    2. Thank you-Karen and I are both super excited! As long as one of the Heartwarmings win, I'll be thrilled:) Wish Me Tomorrow was a fantastic book!

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    3. I've got my fingers crossed for both of you! Remind me? How long do I have to keep them crossed? When do you get the results???

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    4. The winners and a list of finalists will be announced in the July issue of RWR magazine:)

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    5. Jen, I'll be so proud of you and thrilled if THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE wins! It's a wonderful book and a great embassder for Heartwarming !

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  2. Thanks for the update, Victoria. Change creates opportunity and I hope this means nothing but good things to our friends at Harlequin. So glad to hear the "clean" trend keeps growing (Walmart, did you hear that?). Off to work on Harmony Valley.

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    1. You're welcome, Melinda. There isn't really much detail to process yet, and probably won't be for some time, but I agree with you: let's grow our clean series of books right into Walmart!

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  3. These covers are gorgeous! I'm really love the colors and themes the line is using. :) And glad to hear things are going smoothly. And yay on the 'clean' trend *shakes pompoms*

    thanks for the up to the minute update, Victoria. :)

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    1. Eeegads! Excuse the plethora of typos. Must be a busy day for me, too. :) That should have been "I'm in love with" or "I'm loving". Maybe I should go back to bed.

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    2. Well, speaking of updates, I really love this:

      HarperCollins has indicated that Harlequin will be run as a separate division as a result of this transaction and we will continue to execute against the same strategy we had prior to the announcement of this deal. Our plans remain unchanged, as do our priorities for authors and books. We will continue to work as hard as ever to most effectively publish and promote our books.

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  4. Victoria, thank you for your update! Twitter (my source for current events, of course) is a bigger distraction today than normal and I would have thought that impossible! It's good to hear from you. As a person who's been lucky enough to work with both Harlequin and Avon/HarperCollins, I would say there are at least two common denominators in everyone I've met, from authors to employees: talent and a passion for good romance. I'm hoping for good things and love to hear that we're on the right track with our stories.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Cheryl, that's lovely to hear! And yes, social media is awfully distracting today (understatement)!!! So much for the line edit I hoped to take a big bite out of...

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  5. Thanks for the update, Victoria! Change is inevitable and we just have to handle it as it happens.

    And I am all over those May books! They sound wonderful!

    Huge congrats to Jen and Karen!!! This is my first time hearing this and I'm sooo excited for you! WTG Heartwarming!

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    1. Yes, I repeat: congratulations, Jen and Karen! I hope this exciting news doesn't get lost in the other big news of the day.

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  6. Interesting news about HC buying Harlequin. Another report on it here that might be of interest.
    http://www.thebookseller.com/news/news-corp-buys-harlequin.html

    Lovely book covers as always!

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    1. Thanks for this, Helen. LOVE to see this quote in that link from Brian Murray, president and c.e.o. of HarperCollins:
      "Harlequin has built one of the largest and most widely recognized consumer brands in publishing with a highly focused publishing program for women."

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  7. Victoria,
    Thanks for the update. I'm picturing you in red pants, orange and pink striped shirt (not backwards), mismatched socks (one with a hole in the toe) and bedroom slippers. Yup, that's where my writer's imagination goes when you say "never got dressed so fast!)
    The May books look awesome. What a line-up (I'm not just saying that because my second release is there) Hearwarming Rocks!

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    1. Well, maybe not as bad as red pants (not that there's anything wrong with that). Thankfully I'd recently done the laundry...AND the cats were easy to herd inside for some reason. However, I suspect I have mascara on my left eye but missed the right. Oh well.

      Thanks for being part of our May lineup, Pamela!

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    2. This means your mascara matches your socks!

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  8. Thanks for the update, Victoria. I hope the changes bring only good things. (And I once showed up to work in two different shoes. Only noticed when I heard two different heels as I was crossing a marble floor to go to a meeting. Sadly, both heels were mine!)

    Congrats, Karen and Jen! Crossing all digits for both of you! And, yay on this month's books. Heartwarming always has the most evocative covers. (And I've been dying to read Slade's story, Mel!)

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    1. Thanks, Anna, I'm feeling pretty confident about this news. We've got a long wait before the deal closes, but we're in a good spot. Meanwhile, this might be the perfect time to remind people that we have a live Q&A on our Harlequin Author Network a week today. Here's what concierge Stephanie Doig sent out, in case you missed it, even if you're too late to submit questions beforehand (it looks like):

      Asked & Answered is going live
      On May 9, 2014 from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (EST), we’ll be responding to your questions online in real time. Once the logistics are finalized, we’ll let you know where you can register to participate. If you want to guarantee that your question is taken and to ensure we have the individuals in the room best suited to respond to it, please email your query to concierge@harlequin.com in advance. We will accept Asked & Answered Live questions until April 30, 2014. Or, if you prefer, simply ask your question live and we will endeavor to answer it. In the meantime, please save the date and check back on HAN to see where to register.

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    2. Thanks, Victoria! I've been a touch busy, and I might have forgotten--but--off to save the date!

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  9. So much exciting news for my Friday-brain! Thank you, Victoria for this up-to-the-minute news. Congratulations to all the May releases! Congratulations to Jen and Karen! And congratulations to HarperCollins for acquiring Harlequin! (Lucky for them this includes the amazing Heartwarming line.)

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    1. Thanks, Carol--that's a really great way of looking at it!

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  10. Hoping all good things for the Heartwarming line (Oh, Walmart would love us if they just got to know us!) I loved Jen's and Karen's books and wish they both could win! Glad to hear that nothing major will change over there and the picture of you guys by the May pole? Hilarious. Claire cracks me up!

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  11. I'm with you on good things for Heartwarming, Amy. And nobody will ever be able to make me pick one of those two great books over the other one. Impossible task the judges have.

    Yeah, Claire really got into the May Day dancing. Cracked me up, too!

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  12. Thanks for sharing Victoria! Loving your fun committee pics!!

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    1. Thanks, Danica. They may have changed their name to "the fun tornado"... Who can keep up with their energy???

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  13. Victoria, It's exciting to see you ladies dancing the Maypole. Growing up our elementary and junior high had a May Day spring festival. We had a beautiful Maypole. I loved that event. Glad to hear it's great news for Heartwarming's readership liking traditional love stories.

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    1. Well, we didn't exactly know HOW to dance the Maypole...but it was some wild improvisation going on there... Thanks, Roz.

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  14. Hi, Everyone - of all the mornings to go grocery shopping before checking the blog! Heard the Jen/Karen news last night - Yahoo! Congratulations to both of you! The May books look and sound wonderful - but who's surprised? A little scary for me, having been with Harlequin since '83 (!) to hear that we've been adopted, but will just hope it goes as well as my personal adoption, and my children's. It's wonderful that WHOLESOME books are so popular - just please don't forget the others aren't UNclean.

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    1. Of all the mornings for me to be the guest blogger! I almost didn't go in for the company meeting because I hadn't written the blog--if you can imagine. I quickly realized that the meeting would help me give you Heartwarming authors and your readers as much information as I could. As soon as we know more, I'm sure I'll be able to share more. Have a good weekend, Muriel.

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  15. Wow. What a day. Interesting news for Harlequin and congrats to Jennifer and Karen. So pleased to hear our wholesome romances are going strong. Victoria, you all look like you so much fun at work!

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    1. You know? Some of us went out for lunch today and one of the editors pointed out what a nurturing environment the Toronto editorial department provided her. I've been thinking about that ever since the comment was made. We've got a pretty good team up here! Thanks, Tara.

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    2. Thanks so much for everyone's congratulations! I'm hoping good things come out of this merger.

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