Something exciting is coming this month. Harlequin is opening a new all-digital publishing house called Carina Press.
Ever wonder about e-publishers and digital books? Well, my friend, multi-published author Carrie Lofty, is going to share her insights about Carina.
Her novel, SONG OF SEDUCTION, is one of Carina’s debut offerings.
When Carrie graciously agreed to visit The Otherworld Diner and to talk about Carina Press, I had no idea she was such a talented writer. I usually try to read my guest author’s novels so I picked up her debut book, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. What a treat! Her lush prose, strong characters and riveting action grabbed me immediately. I couldn’t put her book down. Soon I found myself engrossed in her next book, SCOUNDREL'S KISS.
By this time, I was really eager to learn about SONG OF SEDUCTION, Carina Press and how Carrie hooked up with them.
1. Would you explain what an all-digital publishing house is for those readers who’d like a few more details?
Carina Press is actually billed as a "digital first" imprint, which suggests the possibility of other formats in the future. I know, however, that the production team is simply swamped with preparations for the June 7th launch, so any future plans are not their priority just yet. But like any e-book publisher, Carina makes its books available via electronic formats. What's nice for readers is the number of formats that will be available. For authors, just know that Carina does not pay an advance, as would a traditional print publisher. Payment is calculated based on royalties alone.
2. How is Carina different from houses that publish paperback books?
Because Carina does not have as much of the expensive overhead that a traditional publisher would have--with regard to print costs, paper and ink, distribution, etc.--they are able to take more chances with the material they publish. For example, my SONG OF SEDUCTION is set in 1804 Austria, which was a deal-breaker for mainstream publishers. I think this has been the real advantage to most e-houses. Electronic publishing, for example, was the first to really jump on the erotica boom a few years ago, long before traditional houses were willing to take chances on that much riskier material.
3. How do readers read the books they get from Carina?
They'll be able to download them in various formats for use on reading devices such as the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad, and even to regular computers by using a PDF file. One of Carina's real ambitions was to make our stories available to anyone in any electronic format, without the frustrations of DRM restrictions.
4. How you find out about Carina Press?
An author friend of mine, Michelle Styles (http://www.michellestyles.co.uk), who writes for Mills & Boon Historicals forwarded me a Harlequin in-house email the morning when Carina opened its doors for submissions. She'd known that I had an Austrian-set novel sitting on my hard drive collecting dust and thought that Carina might be a good place for it. I read the email, checked out the website, and was really sold when I learned that Angela James was acting as Executive Editor. I sent off my submission packet that morning, which was lucky because it meant mine was one of the first manuscripts accepted for publication and I've been able to ride the June launch publicity wave.
5. What excites you about Carina Press?
First up, it has to be Angela James. She's a true visionary when it comes to the potential that e-books have to offer publishing. The Carina slogan, "Where No Great Story Goes Untold," is like her personal challenge to the world. Up until now the conventional wisdom has been that e-books are primarily erotica, and that other types of stories just don't sell online. Now we have the opportunity to test that so-called truism. Maybe all we've needed was the right business model and the right person in charge.
So that leads into my second reason to be excited: the stories! Have you seen the launch titles? We have everything from my historical romance to thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy. There's just so much variety! I love being a part of such a diverse crop of wonderful stories and enthusiastic authors, although my wallet will suffer the strain.
6. As an unpublished writer I’m curious about The Call -- that moment when an author hears that a publisher wants her work. Can you describe your experience with Carina?
My experience with Carina was very different than, say, my debut sale to Kensington or my most recent to Pocket. With Carina, I was flattered and excited that my story would find a home, but I also had some questions. It was and is, essentially, a start-up company. There were no Carina authors I could contact to get their opinion about the editorial staff or the timeliness of payments. There were no examples of cover art.
I took a few days to mull over my options, weight the benefits against the potential for disappointment, and then agreed to Carina's offer. The fact that Angela James was in charge of the whole shebang was a huge influence on my decision, and I really liked the idea of being one of the featured launch books. So as opposed to the sheer, unbridled joy of my first "Call," this one required a great deal more thought. If anything, I've only become more excited and eager to see how this adventure concludes when the doors officially open for business.
7. How long was it from the initial publisher’s request to see your manuscript until it reached published form?
I mailed my submission in early November and agreed to publication just over one month later. I returned my final copy edits in early March, and now I'm waiting for the June 7th launch. It's been a fairly quick process, which is even more amazing because the month of June will see the debut of 38 separate Carina titles. The staff has been seriously kicking butt to get everything ready. After the June rush concludes, titles will be released at the rate of 2-3 per week.
8. What steps were involved to elevate your manuscript from a submission to a published novel?
I'm proud that my editor, Deborah Nemeth, and my copyeditors all complimented me on having submitted a very clean manuscript. (I credit my critique partners for their eagle eyes and vicious red pens!) But then Deb took my story to another level with some very thoughtful suggestions, particularly about my hero's development as a man and as a romantic love interest. Pacing issues that had plagued me were suddenly a thing of the past. So after integrating Deb's content editing suggestions, and then doing all that again, we decided it was finally ready for copyediting. I believe it went through three total rounds of edits, both content and copy, before we stuck a fork in it!
9. How long did it take you to write SONG OF SEDUCTION?
I fiddled and played and poked at SONG OF SEDUCTION during the years I was pregnant and then after my daughters were born. But it was just that: fiddling. I consider the turning point when my husband left Wisconsin for a summer internship in Virginia, which meant I stayed behind with the girls for three months. I wrote every evening, probably just to stay sane. In the end, from that starting point to the conclusion of the first draft, I needed 88 days. Revisions took…well, much longer!
10. How did you get the ideas to write SONG OF SEDUCTION? What inspired you?
I was very keen on classical music after my daughters were born. I found that with two girls only 13 months apart, my ability to concentrate on much of anything was seriously depleted. Classical music was good to me during those years. It offered both creative inspiration and soothing sounds. That interest heavily influenced the subject matter for the book. Plus I just loved this picture of Gary Oldman from Immortal Beloved (http://shawnarencher.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/gary_as_beethoven.jpg). I wanted to write a hero who was that transformed by his obsession for music, and I was curious how such a man would behave if he become obsessed with just as much fervor by a woman!
11. I’ve taken your wonderful class on writing, "Elevator Pitches" -- 35 words that summarize your novel. Would you share yours with us?
In 1804 Austria, a widowed violin prodigy begins a steamy affair with the composer she idolizes, only to learn he stole the symphony he's most famous for!
12. Could you share an EXCERPT from "Song of Seduction" with us?
"You will catch your death, Frau Heidel."
She turned, grabbing hold of the frigid metal rail to steady her precarious equilibrium, both mental and physical. Surprise muffled her voice and swirled hasty thoughts into chaos. Fate, it seemed, was not ready to end her evening with De Voss.
The impeccably dressed musician had vanished, replaced by a ruffian wearing neither coat nor cravat. He drank deeply from a glass of strong spirits. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he matched sloppy movements to his disheveled appearance.
"Herr De Voss." She knelt in a deep curtsy, drawing from every etiquette lesson she had shared with Ingrid. "You surprised me, sir."
A slight shrug rippled across his taut shoulders. "I saw when you leave the ballroom. I wish you found a warmer place to seek your peace."
An angular nose and cheekbones revealed his Dutch lineage, and the gentlest cleft marked his chin below full, stern lips. Twin furrows textured the skin between his brows, while a pair of faint lines scored either side of his mouth.
Nervous butterflies awakened in her stomach when she realized the extent of their isolation. He followed me.
"You didn't stay in the ballroom to receive your due honors? Surely you must enjoy the applause you earn."
"No need for such fusses." His accent inspired her heart to keep a brutal rhythm. "I did what our hosts invited me to do--I performed. People in fine clothes gave to me their cards, and I will inquire about students next week. Now, I will go home."
"You make the tasks of your profession sound rather perfunctory," she said. "I assume, then, that you've not enjoyed the gala."
"I endure tedious functions to attract patrons and students."
Irritation crept up her backbone. "I wonder how much money you would think fair payment for attending our tedious function."
De Voss blanched and shook his head. "I find every such engagement tiresome, this no more than others."
Was that an apology? Was he fidgeting? And was she really standing in the cold talking to Arie De Voss? Her awestruck wonder glossed over his slight.
Before Mathilda could restrain her eagerness, it slipped into the air like a bird. "Your performance was splendid, sir, no matter their opinion. Simply breathtaking. I have not heard its like in Salzburg, not since you debuted Love and Freedom."
At De Voss's bewildered expression, she clamped her lips. The words sounded trivial compared to his music--music obviously capable of rendering her dumb--but she wanted to preserve some shred of decorum. The raw air helped, cooling her skin. She hoped the subtle torchlight would disguise the blush burning bright on her cheeks.
"Thank you, Frau Heidel."
He spoke sincerely. He did not condescend. That much reassured her, at least. But in a restless gesture, he raked lean fingers through his hair. He looked at the ground, a torch, the night sky. Never her eyes.
Moments stretched between them. She clutched her pelisse to keep from squirming. De Voss moved to take another drink but paused, assessed its contents and lowered the glass with a look of defeat. He sighed and veered to leave. Her opportunity--their stilted, bizarre conversation--had been far too brief.
Greed erased her hesitation. She wanted more.
"Sir, do you have an opening for a new student? Perhaps for the violin?"
13. Where can readers find you on the Web?
We hope we’ve passed along some good insights into writing and Carina Press. If you have other questions, feel free to ask. We appreciate hearing from you.