Smart Girls Read Romance

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Yikes! I'm Late! by Vonnie Davis

I'm sorry to be late posting this month. I'd planned on writing it yesterday so it would be up early this morning. But … life happened. I found out on Facebook yesterday morning  that Random House is closing all its eBook only lines, which includes LoveSwept Romances, one of the lines I write for.

I was surprised.


Why hadn't we been told by the company? Or by our editors?

I emailed Sue, telling her what I read on Facebook and was any of it true. She replied that it was and she was job hunting as we spoke. Did I know of any editor openings anywhere since I write for other publishers in addition to them?

Now this is where my … a-hem … bitchy side wanted to say, "Yes, but you edit too old and probably wouldn't edit to market." Which is what she often told me when I submitted. That I wrote too old and needed to learn to write to market, which is for the Millenials who don't understand difficult words or can't keep track of a large cast of characters.

But I didn't. My nicer side "shooed" the bitchy side away.

She told me my six books with them would be "safe" until my sales dropped below 300 for two  6 month pay periods. They would cease doing any promo for those books. But safe to her was not safe to me. I can't get my rights back until a book sells less than 600 books per year. I dug out my contract and sure enough, there was the clause she spoke of. At the time of signing, I'd read it and thought, "Yeah, but this is Penquin Random House. They won't shut down this line."

I felt like I'd gone to work, finding the gates chained shut and a sign hung up saying, "Closed. Moved to China."

Sue said Random House is going to focus on their big sellers, you know, those $25. hardbacks. Those will continue to have eBook versions for $12 or 14.99 but no more lines exclusive to eBooks only.

I'm still waiting for an email notification from the publisher, but none as yet. That disappoints me.

Last night, I began to calm down. For me, it wasn't the end of the world. I can still write and I'll find other publishers or publish more books myself. But those thousands and thousands of people affected by the government's shut down … NOW, they really have problems. My thoughts should focus on their plight.

So, yes, readers of romance, we authors can be cast to the wayside, too. Adrift. Wondering what do we do now?

One of my self-published titles.


  1. Interesting post. Just an observation: How many people actually buy $12.99 to $14.00 eBooks? I know I don't. I either wait a year until the price drops, or wait for a special discount on the digital or print one. I have readers of mine that tell me they don't purchase eBooks over $2.99 and prefer $0.99 (which boils my blood, by the way.) And to be told to not use big words, fries me also. Has the entire reading world been tipped upside down? I guess the simple rule of you should write for an 8th grade reading level still exists since when I studied journalism.

    Okay...I've vented. Great post. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Judy, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm not sure the big pubs understand the eBook revolution. They've priced some of mine at 3.99 and 4.99. Most folks won't pay that amount. Readers, on the other hand, need to understand it takes the same 4 to 6 months to write a book, whether it's paper or digital (sometimes longer, if we have families to tend to) so to sell at .99 makes our time worth less than nothing. Yes, I've been told by a Random House editor I need to "dummy down" my writing which made me livid. The publishing world is a crazy place.

  2. Vonnie, so sorry about Penguin/Random House. You're correct in that you are very talented and will find other avenues to replace that one. I, too, hate that we're supposed to dummy down our books. It's changed from eighth grade level to fourth grade level. Best wishes for our future!

  3. Thanks Caroline. What bothers me about the "dummy down" idea is that for years many romance authors worked hard to upgrade the romance genre from the joke it once was--Bodice Rippers, for example. And many fine authors were able to achieve that goal. Now, NOW, we're supposed to dummy down, which effectively undoes all their hard work. It's insulting and sad.


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