Category Archives: books

Reverted Books and Digital Publishing

Secondhand Books

I have been a published author for thirty-two years. I’ve had bestseller stickers at Amazon and won a number of awards. It’s been a great career.

Sadly, though, my publisher’s business plan was to put up a book for a month and then it was gone. If a reader wanted to find a copy, they had to hunt it down in a library or look on secondhand bookshelves.

Then a publishing revolution occurred with the arrival of digital publishing and suddenly it was all about the eBook. Continue reading

Shortlists: Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

Now updated with winners in Bold
Sarah Mallory RNA RNOTY 24

AND SHE WON!!
HUGE CONGRATS TO SARAH

The Night She Met the Duke, by Libertà hivie Sarah Mallory, is in the shortlists (in the Historical Romantic Novel category) for this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

These awards are judged entirely by readers, without input from any industry professionals and there are some great books on the lists, including many by good friends of Libertà.

Woman in a bare-shouldered party dress with champagne glass in her hand looks across a night time city scape and smiles.Congratulations to each and every one!

The winners of the awards will be announced during the Romantic Novel Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Monday 20th May 2024 at 6.30pm.

THE CATEGORIES AND FINALISTS ARE BELOW
(authors are listed alphabetically in shortlists)
Winners in bold green (updated 21st May)

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Escapist romance : must it always be set in Italy or Greece?

woman overlooking seaToday (Friday) I finished reading a romantic novel featuring a heroine who finds love over a summer in Italy. Classic escapist romance. It’s not a genre I read much—more on that later—but this one was from an author I admire and I hadn’t read any of her books for a while.

So it was timely. And I enjoyed the story very much.

There are, as you probably know, loads of books in this genre. But my reading got me thinking and asking questions.

Why are they so popular?
And why are they mostly set in Italy or Greece?
Aren’t there other places for a heroine to find love? Continue reading

Christmas and New Year Greetings with Christmas books

The Libertà hive has got into the habit of relaxing over Christmas and New Year. Probably reading Christmas books! Which means no blog, sadly. The next “proper” blog will appear on Sunday 7th January, 2024.

In the meantime, we hope all our readers had a very happy Christmas and we wish you a prosperous and healthy New Year. Busy fizz

And if Santa didn’t bring you any Christmas books, there are some that the hive would recommend. (Since hive members wrote them, we would, wouldn’t we?)
What’s more, our cute cat loves them… Continue reading

Accidental Historical

Earlier this month one of my all time favourite authors, Leigh Michaels, proposed a new category of books: the Accidental Historical.

She has  coined it to cover republished books which she wrote some years ago. Back then, they were correctly described as contemporary romantic fiction. But we have had a digital, social and media revolution since then.

After pondering this for a bit, I think Amazon, other online stores and ALL publishers of ebooks in general would do well to adopt it.

Leigh Michaels

cover of novel, Brittany's Castle, showing a welcoming room with a tall Christmas tree, ablaze with lights and beautifully packed presents at its foot. Leigh Michaels is a multi-award winning author of contemporary and historical fiction, mostly romantic. She’s published in more than 25 languages and 120 countries the last time I looked. She is also a teacher and mentor for other writers. For a while we shared the inspiring editor Jacqui Bianchi, whom I have quoted here before.

And I have loved her books ever since Jacqui recommended them to me. Several of the books are on, not just my Keeper Shelf, but my Never to be Taken Out of This House Under Any Circumstances shelf.

I have had to wrench my copy of A New Desire  out of the hands of a departing guest. “If you want to read it, fine. But you have to come back here and read it in situ.” She did. She was 25.

And this is the nub of the matter. The book my visitor was so determined to read was first published in 1989. It was ten years older than she was.

Enter the Accidental Historical. Continue reading

Popular Fiction of the Past

Edwardian man with stiff collar holding hands across a desk or table with Edwardian lady, leaning towards each other as if about to kiss.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Popular fiction of the past has fascinated me since I was a child.

This has certainly intensified since I helped put together the 50th Anniversary Memoir of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. And many of those I have read since have, indeed, been romantic.

But the itch to read over the shoulder of my forebears was already there. It covered just about every genre, too.

I had access to three sets of bookshelves when I was a child. My parents, marrying late, also united their reading matter.

Gone With The Wind First Edition coverMy father brought a complete set of Dickens, H G Wells and Wisden to the marriage; my mother a rather wider selection, including Gone With the Wind and golden age mysteries. The extended family offered encyclopaedias, a lot of household tips (which I loved) and gloomily improving childhood literature, like The Water Babies, which I detested. Continue reading

Promoting a book : tips from Liz Fielding

“One of my first bosses in the industry told me that publishing is a hits-based business. Publish enough books, the hits will buoy up the titles that don’t sell many copies. Now more than ever, it feels like there’s often a push from on high for more volume – throw more at the wall and more will stick – but often, it’s very much a case of more for less: more books without more marketing spend; more output but no more budget for quality editorial and design; more authors but no more resourcing to ensure good author management.”

From an article in The Bookseller, May 2nd(NB the link may not be accessible for everyone).

GOOD NEWS!

Murder among the Roses by Liz FieldingGood news for Liz Fielding fans!

She has a new book out!

This time she’s giving us a mystery set in one of her much-loved English country towns, Murder Among the Roses. I pre-ordered it and read it in one gulp, deep into the night. I can tell you, it has her signature tone of kindly humour, allied with a cracker of a mystery!

As a fellow writer who is pretty clueless about all things marketing, I wanted to ask Liz about the practicalities of promoting a book which is, for her, a new type of story.

Promoting a book: when to start and who does what

Q1  When did you start to tell people about Murder Among the Roses, Liz?
Has it set you any new challenges?
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Plotting the perfect crime…

Switching Genres…

Image by Davie Bicker from Pixabay

I’ve been a published romance writer for more than thirty years now. That’s seventy books for Harlequin Mills and Boon and a few more for other publishers.

I was in a groove – some people might call it a comfortable rut – but I was producing books that enough people loved to keep me in contract and an advance and royalties coming in.

It’s hard to give up that up just because you’ve had a story in your head for a very long time that refuses to go away.

When you’ve had that security for thirty years, to write a book in a totally different genre — crime — on spec, with no publisher, no advance or promise of publication is like stepping off a cliff.

Sink or swim?

Image by J Garget from Pixabay

Maybe it was lockdown, the sense that life was out of control and might never be the same again. The sense that if I didn’t do it now, then when? That if I didn’t take the risk, would I go to my grave regretting that I didn’t have the courage, or the self-belief that had the “do it now” bells ringing.

I’d delivered the last of the books on my current contract. I could take six months out for a passion project – I knew the story – inspired by a documentary I’d seen. I had my victim, I had my murderer, I had my “sleuth”.

I’d lived with them in my head for a long time. I could give them six months of my life.

The Beginning…

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Romance Reading Month

I suppose it was inevitable that February should become Romance Reading Month. There’s St Valentine doing his bit on the 14th to remind the world that romantic love is a) universal b) important and c) can be awkward. The material of good stories, in fact.

It seems to me that Valentine’s Day gets increasing attention every year. Partly this is because Bloggins’ Aniversary And Activity Day has long been the jobbing editor’s lifeline to fill an blank column or an empty four minutes on broadcast magazine programmes.

Clearly there’s even more and more slots to fill these days, what with social media ‘n’ all. And, frankly, St Valentine doesn’t face many candidates for rival celebration attention in the shortest month. Ground Hog Day anyone?

Spring in the Air?

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Georgette Heyer: Debut With Highwayman

Georgette Heyer The Black MothConstable published Georgette Heyer’s debut novel, The Black Moth, in September 1921. Houghton Miflin brought it out in the USA. Last year I celebrated its centenary with a blog on Who made Georgette Georgian.

Initially, the book attracted perfunctory but largely friendly reviews. Indeed, a cracker in the Boston Evening Transcripts of 23 November even took a stab at imitating the book’s faux Georgian narrative style. Interestingly, Heyer is a whole lot better at it than the reviewer. His delight in his own efforts cannot quite disguise several errors in his account of the story. We forgive  him for the entertainment value. And he does make it sound like a good fun read. So it probably wasn’t bad for sales.

Anyway, the book was a commercial success pretty much immediately.

Wot The TLS Said

Continue reading