Our first #AskPubCraft blog post is about the recently discontinued lines from Harlequin. The news of these changes first broke on Book Riot, and has since been confirmed by the publisher. You can find out more about these line closures from Publisher’s Weekly.
In short, Harlequin is phasing out five mass market original series - Harlequin Western, Harlequin Super Romance, Love Inspired Historical, Harlequin Nocturne, and Kimani Romance - leaving many authors wondering how to promote their last book(s) in those series, and feeling more than a little like this.
The Pub-Craft Team put their heads together to develop some tips and things to think about to help you find your next steps!<3
STEP ONE: Know that everything is manageable.
Take a deep breath - you’ve got time! You still have time to figure you where this will take you before anything changes - the lines are not closing until 2018 or 2019, so take the time you have to really think out and plan your next steps and possible transitions, big or small.
Remember that publishers discontinue series, and start new ones, very frequently. These series may be on their way out, but that means new lines are on their way in. Reading and buying trends vary greatly over time, and Harlequin is making these changes to stay on top of those trends. For example, they’ve already announced that a new line DARE (contemporary romance with ‘eyebrow raising sex’) is launching January 2018. You can look and find a new home in the Harlequin, if that’s what you’d like to do.
STEP TWO: Go out with a bang!
Rep that last book! Have you ever wanted to go all out on a series finale like they do on TV? This is your chance! Even if you plan on continuing the series after the line is discontinued (an option we delve into further below), this is a big ending for you. Go out with a bang, and make sure your readers know how special and possibly even bitter-sweet this release is. There is a lot of marketing power in an ending, so go hog-wild and use the emotions that go along with this to squash reader procrastination and really sell that last book!
STEP THREE: Ask questions
Gather the information you need to make informed next-step decisions. There are a few aspects of these discontinued lines that you’ll need to confirm for yourself. We’ve brainstormed a few questions to ask Harlequin, and yourself, as you’re getting ready to make your new plan: A) Do we know if/when any rights for discontinued lines will be reverting? B) How long will the previous titles published under these lines still be available for purchase from Harlequin? C) Are there other Harlequin lines that mirror what the discontinued lines were publishing? D) Is there a new launching or changing line that also fits with your brand and your stories? E) Do you depend on Harlequin for your new release and sales/marketing, or do you have your own dependable reader fan base? F) Are there other authors who are also writing in your discontinued line who may want to band together for cross-promotion in the future? G) Would you feel comfortable taking publishing into your own hands, or do you prefer working in collaboration with a publisher?
STEP FOUR: Recognize new opportunities!
This is not the end - it’s a new beginning! You have an amazing opportunity to make a big change, or transition to a new home with your publisher. Harlequin is of course encouraging all the authors affected by these line discontinuations to look into their other series and see where else their stories can fit. If you love it at Harlequin and there is another place for you and your work, then you’re already all set to carry on. If, on the other hand, you don’t think your series fits in with any of Harlequin’s other lines, you have many options. You can find another publisher, or consider going indie and self-publishing your work from now on. These are big changes, but can have a big pay-off too, if they’re the right choices for you. And, you don’t even need to choose between them if you decide to become a hybrid author. If you are not quite done with your series, you could self-publish until the end of your series, and find a new traditional home for any new or upcoming stories you have in the works (always depending on what your contract(s) allow, of course).
STEP FIVE: Keep writing and keep reading.
You heard me - keep writing, and keep writing well. This is not a sign from the high powers to step back from the business - this is just Harlequin responding to changing and evolving reader preferences and sales trends. As always, the most important thing is to write the book of your heart, and write it well, like we know you can. Hunker down, work that magic, and keep creating characters and worlds we can fall in love with. And, in the same breath, keep reading - keep supporting other authors inside and outside your genre. None of us would be here without each other.
Now that you have your action plan template, the Pub-Craft Team also wanted to address the closing of the Kimani Line, specifically. As many authors and readers have pointed out, “the vast majority of Harlequin titles penned by black women are published as Kimani titles” (Book Riot). Diversity is so important, and in addressing this line discontinuation, the amazing AC Arthur started a conversation about how readers and authors can assist in the survival of black romance, and we suggest you check it out. :)
As always, we are here to answer questions when you use the hashtag #AskPubCraft on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and/or send us a message through our Contact Page. If you have any suggested edits, updated information, or comments, please also feel free to Contact Us.