1. Harlequin is a good place to be. They had four authors on the tour, three of whom started with Arabesque books in the mid-nineties around the time I did–Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers and Brenda Jackson. These authors could write for any publishing house they want and they’ve chosen Harlequin. That speaks volumes for Harlequin.
2. HarperCollins is a good place to be. Harper had three authors on the tour, including me. I was the newbie beside New Yorks Times Bestseller Kimberla Lawson Roby and the perennial favorite Beverly Jenkins. HarperCollins stepped up to the plate for us. They hosted an online interview with us while we were on the road and they equipped Beverly with a video camera so she could record our stops.
3. New York Times Bestsellers come in all shapes and sizes. Street lit author Wahida Clarke made the list and she’s only published three books, two of which were written while she was in prison. Romance writer Brenda Jackson made the list and she’s published 56 books over about a 13-year period. Women’s fiction author Kim Roby made the list and she self-published her first book. Street lit author Vickie Stringer made the list and owns a publishing house. Vickie also started writing while in prison.
4. Readers read across genres. I sorta knew this but the tour drove the point home. Readers who bought me, Victoria Christopher Murray and Marilynn Griffith also bought Vickie and Wahida as well as erotica author Allison Hobbs. Of course, there were some readers who only wanted Wahida or Vickie, while others only wanted me, Marilynn or Victoria. Most of them though read widely though.
5. Authors are generous. There were a lot of personal stories and business insights shared on this trip. We talked about the pros-and-cons of being a Black Expressions main selection. We shared tips on effective marketing and promotion. We bought each others’ books.
6. Romance readers turn out for booksignings. I’d guess that Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers and Beverly Jenkins probably had the most readers visit them. These readers had their full backlist so they’d been fans for a while.
7. Publishing regularly and often has it benefits. Brenda, Donna, Rochelle and Beverly are all wonderful writers but I think the fact that romance demands publishing multiple books a year comes into play in the characteristics of their readers. These readers have gotten to know Brenda, Donna, Rochelle and Beverly through 15 years of books coming out multiple times a year (Rochelle will have 12 out next year!) so there’s a special relationship with them. As an example, Brenda sponsors a cruise with her readers every two years. A cruise! Beverly Jenkins does weekend pajama parties with hers.
That’s all I can think of now. If I think of something else. I’ll start another list.
So how much of this did you already know and what was new to you?
UPDATE: Marilynn Griffith has her list up HERE. It’s well worth a read.