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Susan Gable
08-15-2006, 01:54 AM
Just FYI, the Silhouette Bombshell line will cease publication in January of 2007.

Sorry to all those authors who've been writing for the line, and to those of you who aspired to write for the line!

Passing around a big box of chocolates!

Susan G.

nevada
08-15-2006, 04:15 AM
I'll have some of that chocolate. Total bummer. Oh well, at least now I know and I can rewrite my bombshell as a single title. Thanks for the heads up, Susan. Much appreciated.

Kasey Mackenzie
08-15-2006, 06:31 PM
Yes, condolences to the current and hopeful Bombshell writers. May you all find great alternative markets to place your books!

brainstorm77
08-15-2006, 07:03 PM
Why is it ending???? I know many who are fans of that line. :(

Susan Gable
08-15-2006, 07:15 PM
Why is it ending???? I know many who are fans of that line. :(

Sales aren't at the level HQ would like. :Shrug: Sales are the bottom line for all lines, indeed, all authors.

Allow me to climb up on a soapbox for just one minute. This is why, if there's a line you like, or an author you like, and you want to see it continue, it's important that you buy NEW books. I understand money can be damn tight. I understand that you can them cheaper at the used book store, or borrow them from the library, or buy them off eBay. I understand that at certain points in our lives, we're damn lucky to be able to do that. (Especially with the costs of gas and heating fuel these days. Yikes!)

I'm not sayng I'm anti-used books. Because I'm not. As I mentioned, there are times when we're lucky to be able to afford those. And sometimes you can't find a new copy of a book. Or maybe you want to test out a new author. Those are all legitimate things.

But if you're targetting a line (say, you want to write for Special Edition. Or Desire. Or whatever) and you hope to write for them, make an effort to help keep the line in business.

Or if you love a certain author...keep her in business. Because if her numbers fall, then there's a chance you might not get that next book from her because the publisher might cut her loose.

It's all about the numbers.

<climbing off soapbox>

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. :)

Susan G.

Cathy C
08-15-2006, 07:27 PM
You're absolutely right, Susan! It IS all about the numbers--and even more so for category lines. Not as many people are signing up for the book club anymore. This makes the ones in the bookstores all the more critical to sell. And category novels have an EXPIRATION DATE. A week, maybe two and POOF--it's off the shelf, whether or not it sells. If too many people say, "Cool! The new bombshell is out! I'll pick it up . . . on my next paycheck." Well, it'll be gone and quite possibly gone for good.

I'm wondering in the back of my slightly defeatist mind, how long will category lines last in today's world of tight budgets and fewer readers? :(

Josie
08-15-2006, 08:52 PM
The members on eharlequin are saying in hindsight Silhouette Bombshell should have had it's own line, not be buried in category romance.

Sales might have been higher with different marketing.

I do feel badly for the authors. They were an excellent "stable" of writers but I'm sure they will survive. What a disappointment for them.

Cheers:cry:

Susan Gable
08-15-2006, 08:56 PM
The members on eharlequin are saying in hindsight Silhouette Bombshell should have had it's own line, not be buried in category romance.

Sales might have been higher with different marketing.




Well, that's not hindsight. We authors were discussing that very thing when HQ first wanted to launch the line. That it would need its own imprint like Red Dress Ink has.

I'm worried about Everlasting doing the same exact thing. Everlasting ought to be set apart from the other category books. If they're trying to pull in new readers (which is a GOOD thing) then they have to put the books where those readers look for books. Many people looking for a Nicholas Sparks type read are NOT going to go to the category shelf near "those Harlequin things." (I can say that. <G> I'm a Harlequin writer. I'm not knocking HQ, I'm just sayin' there are people who have a prejudice about it. Which HQ is well aware of, which is why they created Red Dress Ink, and that was a success. At this point, all of chick lit is hitting the skids, so that's no reflection on how they marketed those books.)

That's my opinion, anyway. <G>

Susan G.

JanDarby
08-15-2006, 10:17 PM
Consistent with what you're saying, I'd heard that readers were confused, because they were expecting a stronger romance subplot from the Bombshells, expecting that they were sort of like Intrigues, but with a more kick-*** heroine, rather than an everyday woman in an extraordinary situation.

I wonder if this is also going to be a problem with Harlequin's Spice line. There seems to be ongoing confusion among authors about whether it's erotica (which is what H/S says it is) or erotic romance (which is apparently what the authors are submitting), and I wonder if prospective readers will be equally confused. Same with their Next line. I thought initially that it was romance, with some women's fiction issues, but as I understand it now, they're more the other way around: women's fiction, with some romance issues.

JD

Carlene
08-16-2006, 12:32 AM
Thanks for the update, Susan. I'll pass the word along to my RWA chapter. I agree completely about buying the books! First of all, you have to see what they've bought in the past and...you have to support the line.

Carlene

nevada
08-16-2006, 01:06 AM
In my opinion, part of the problem with Bombshells is that every second one was paranormal. I'm sorry, I want kick *** action not paranormal crap. But that's my opinion. lol If I want to read paranormal i'll buy a paranormal book from luna or whatever their paranormal line is. And yes they could have used more romance. However, no use worrying about it now. It's over and it's time for me to move on.

Gillhoughly
08-16-2006, 06:24 PM
Action vs. Paranormal is a hard call. I like both in the same book, others hate it.

You just have to write the publisher and let them know what you like and what writers you like, and they will certainly be on your side about providing it. I've never seen a publisher as savvy as HQ for producing a product tailored to what the audience wants.

My bud who wrote for Bombshell confirmed the sad news, however, the books they have accepted are going to eventually get used. (Remember most books in the stores were turned in 12-18 months ago.) They paid the writers to do a certain job and HQ will be getting that back somehow or other with sales.

As for Chick-Lit, once again I see the futility of writing to cash in on a trend rather than just tell a good story. By the time most writers have the book done the trend has burned out and no one wants another book on it.

I've seen decades worth of hopeful neos with their cave girl book or dinosaur book or hot lawyer book or (now) chick-lit book. Go into the store today and count how many titles look like recyled Da Vinci Code (which I didn't like because of its cypher characters and inept execution).

What's next? Westerns? How about a cowhand who finds a hidden code for cave girl DNA and takes it to his hip chick lawyer and soon they're being chased by a secret race of reptile-people?

Uh-oh. I could be on to something here.... :D
.

aruna
08-16-2006, 06:53 PM
Writers should not be trend-followers but trend-setters. Write abook so good that others will want to follow in that trend.

brainstorm77
08-16-2006, 07:31 PM
I write what i like :tongue hehehe

HaleyDaulton
08-17-2006, 06:23 PM
Allow me to climb up on a soapbox for just one minute. This is why, if there's a line you like, or an author you like, and you want to see it continue, it's important that you buy NEW books.
Very good point, Susan. I attempted to do just that yesterday, but I discovered (much to my horror) that at least one Barnes & Noble here in town doesn't carry the Superromance line, which is what I'd like to target with my WIP. I haven't checked the others in the area, nor have I checked Borders (will do that today), but I'm just curious how the chain booksellers determine which lines to carry. Or do they mix and match from month to month? Are independent booksellers a good resource?

Haley

Susan Gable
08-17-2006, 06:52 PM
Very good point, Susan. I attempted to do just that yesterday, but I discovered (much to my horror) that at least one Barnes & Noble here in town doesn't carry the Superromance line, which is what I'd like to target with my WIP. I haven't checked the others in the area, nor have I checked Borders (will do that today), but I'm just curious how the chain booksellers determine which lines to carry. Or do they mix and match from month to month? Are independent booksellers a good resource?

Haley

In general (please note that DISCLAIMER, and that I'm basing this on my personal observations and the chatter I hear from other H/S authors -- I am NOT dissing the B&N chain. I happen to like them and spend money there more often than I should. <G>), Barnes & Noble has never been a big fan of category romance. In fact, I think it was only last year that my local store began carrying SOME of the lines. (Not Superromance, as you point out, and for the life of me, I can't understand it. Naturally I think the Superromance line is Super <G> and should be carried everywhere.)

Borders and Waldens (now known in most places as Border Express, I believe) have always been a better source. The Borders by me has a gorgeous rack that holds all the category lines.

WalMart is often a good bet, but some WalMarts, like mine, have reduced their category shelf space in half, so they have the lines at different times. Also, it all depends on when the shelves are stocked.

eHarlequin.com offers a good discount, and you can get the books a month early. :)

Let me explain a little better.

As Cathy mentioned, category romances have a limited shelf life. 2 weeks to a month. (Think of us as a magazine -- or a carton of milk. <G> Though category novels don't go sour after the "expiration date." <G>)

The lines are released at different parts of the month. Some are released mid-month, and others are released at the end/beginning of the month. (I used to have a bookmark around here someplace that said which lines were which, but I can't find it. Maybe Crinklish has one of those around the office.) For example, Supers are mid-month releases. So that might mean that the Supers are released on say, the 10th of the month.

That's when the Supers and all the other mid-cycle books are shipped to the stores. Now the stores get them and HOPEFULLY put them on the shelves ASAP. Stores have to buy a set number of the series. 2 of all the books, 4 of all the books, 6 of all the books, etc. That's it. That's what they buy. Generally once they're gone, they're gone. It's not like a single title where they MIGHT order more copies. And they buy an equal amount for all of the authors. (Unless there's a really heavy hitter, like Debbie Macomber, or Nora, etc. Then they can order extras. A book store CAN order extras, though, in certain other cases as well. I know my local Borders Express always orders extras of my books, and God bless them, keeps them on the "regular" shelves once my "expiration date" has passed. But that's because they know they can sell them.)

So, in my WalMart, they get a new shipment of books twice a month, and those books occupy the same space on the shelves. So, when the new shipment comes in, the "old" books are taken down and stripped. (You all know what stripped means, right? As a book lover, part of my soul died when I learned about stripping. <G>) That means they rip off the front cover of the book, which is returned to the publisher for credit against their account, and the main portion of the book is tossed in the garbage. That's why books say, in the front, If you've purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

So, at my WalMart, you have to make sure you hit the store during the proper two week period that you're looking for a particular line. It's the same at my local grocery store.

I'd suggest calling your local bookstore before you go, and checking to see what lines they carry. Also, remember, they can actually order a copy for you of a book that's already been released. Say you want a particular book from two months ago. They may be able to order you a copy.

Amazon, thank goodness, has given categories a somewhat longer life. You can still buy copies of some older categories there. (NEW copies. <G>)

I'm not sure exactly which buyers are responsible for deciding what lines a particular store carries. I do know that often they base them on, what else, the previous numbers. So if there's a store that's carried Supers, but not done well with them, then they might get rid of the line. :Shrug:

The August Supers should be making their way onto the shelves around now.

Does that help?

Susan G.

HaleyDaulton
08-18-2006, 12:25 AM
Great response, Susan! I appreciate you explaining the process to me. I did run by Borders today and found TWO racks with what appeared to be a pretty good selection of lines, including the Supers. Yay!

Now, let me ask you this...

Around the single title forums, there seems to be much ado about marketing and promotion, including contacting booksellers to coordinate book signings. I'm guessing that authors in category/series fiction don't do this, simply because of the other ways HQ, et al market/promote across the board?

Cathy C
08-18-2006, 03:17 AM
Well, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that single title authors don't promote because they HAVE to. Neither do category authors.

Authors CAN promote, but there's no requirement for a large press title. See, marketing works differently in publishing than most beginners think. It's the publicity and promotion department's job at a publisher to sell the book to THEIR CUSTOMERS.

A publisher's customer isn't the public.

The BOOKSTORE is the publisher's customer--whether it's through a wholesaler (Ingrams, Baker & Taylor) or a distributor (General Independents, Walden's etc.) or a small store owner. Every major publisher works very hard to get their books into stores. They pay extra money to feature the books, whether on special racks (H/S category lines or Ellora's Cave special shelves) or they might pay to face out or end cap a line or author/title.

But what about the public? Who tells them about the books? See, that's where some of the problem comes up. Romance has a TON of new books every month (just pick up a copy of Romantic Times and see the more than 250 books reviewed each and every month!) That's twice to three times the books that appear in other genres, so it's hard for a beginning author to get noticed in the rush.

I'm a big fan of marketing, because readers really DO look for something good to buy when they've already finished their "favorite" authors' new titles. Reviews help get the word out, and so do goodies at romance conferences, signings, excerpt sheets and magazine advertising. Anything to help push the reader toward that one tiny little offering on the shelf. And once an author has done it the first time, it sort of turns into . . . habit. Heh. ;)

But it STILL all comes back to the bookstore. There's just as much chance of a new reader, who's never read a single review in his/her life, picking up the title as someone who comes in specifically for it. That's only if it's THERE, though.

So you can either do promotion, if you like to and feel it's worth your time . . . or not. I can give you the names of a half dozen authors who think they wouldn't have achieved their place on the lists without marketing, and others who have made it to the top without a single signing, or bookmark or ad. :Shrug:

I don't think category is any different than single title in this regard.

Susan Gable
08-18-2006, 04:34 AM
I'm with Cathy, here. I'm a big fan of doing what I can to help improve my name recognition. As a category author, I do have built-in sales/marketing from HQ simply by way of the name of the publisher, the name of the line, and the fact that the store buyers (NOT the readers - the buyers for the stores!) already have a built in buy-number for my book. They don't have to be convinced, because HQ already convinced them to take the line in whatever number quantity they purchase.

But...MY numbers, the amount of moving that book off the shelf...well, I want to help that as much as possible. I know there are some people who say there's nothing you can do. Well, I want to do whatever I can.

I've coordinated group ads for RT and RWR for the Super authors the month I have a release. (Those ads, especially in RT, don't come cheap.) Now, do I think I'm making back my money on that ad? Probably not. But I'm looking at it for the long haul. I'm building name recognition, so that people who read my review in the RT ALSO see an ad with my name in it, and a little something more about the book. Repetition is important in marketing.

I've done a number of different on-line promotion. One I did, an on-line book baby shower for a big readers' group, went over REALLY well. I know I probably sold more books as a result of that promotion than anything else I've ever done.

I send out press releases where I can. I do all sorts of things like that. Speaking and giving workshops is actually a form of marketing and promoting name recognition. Actually, so is being a regular at a place like this, believe it or not. (And it's FUN, too. <G>)

I want to do whatever I can to help those books make it off the shelf and going home with a reader, not ending up stripped. :)

Susan G.

HaleyDaulton
08-18-2006, 05:38 PM
Thanks, Cathy and Susan, for weighing in on this. When you have a local market dominated by B&N, is there anything you can do to get your book on the rack when they don't carry your line?

Susan Gable
08-18-2006, 06:42 PM
Thanks, Cathy and Susan, for weighing in on this. When you have a local market dominated by B&N, is there anything you can do to get your book on the rack when they don't carry your line?

You can try. My local B&N doesn't generally get copies of my books, and I've become friends (of a sort) with the CRC. (Community Relations Coordinator.) We're involved with a local literacy organization together. (I should add here that I've never "pushed" her to do so, either. If I asked, maybe they would.)

But some stores might be willing to order in a few copies to keep on the shelves if you're a local author.

Susan G.

brainstorm77
08-19-2006, 07:34 PM
OMG..... *Gasps at the Stripping comment*..... I think i would probably end up trying to buy up my books that were about to be stripped lol

brainstorm77
08-19-2006, 07:35 PM
The local Chapters here where i am carry the full Harlequin line.