Remember this? When we started the 40 day countdown to Carina Press in the spring of 2010? That was over a year ago!
As unbelievable as it seems to me, today is our one year anniversary of publishing books. I know it’s not just unbelievable to me, but to many others as well. In fact, I received an “anniversary” gift and when my daughter asked what it was for, I told her it was to celebrate one year of publishing books. My husband did a doubletake and said “What? Already? It’s already been a year? It seems like…like just a few months.” Many of us are united in feeling like this year has gone impossibly fast.
But yes, a year ago today, June 7th, Carina Press opened its virtual doors with the first ten of thirty-seven launch titles we acquired, edited, blurbed and packaged within a 6 month time period in time for our launch month.
I definitely cannot say the past year has been easy, despite the fact that it’s seemed to have gone quickly. It’s been a tremendous amount of hard work, long hours and (for me) lots (and lots) of travel. My airmiles have exploded since I took this job! But I can say it’s been absolutely exhilarating, and even in the times that aren’t fun, always interesting and never, ever boring.
I think, because we’re an imprint of Harlequin, yet using a digital-first business model, with a smaller, more intimate team feel (something we purposely tried to achieve) that the bar was set high for us. Expectations from authors and readers were that we’d do everything well. Those were large shoes to fill. I’d like to think we did a pretty darn fine job at it. Did we stumble? Absolutely. We’ve never pretended to be perfect, to get it right the first time, or to be able to make everyone happy. But I think that’s okay, because being perfect is impossible, and pretending we’re perfect would be disingenuous. Yet though perfection is unattainable, we achieved our goals and we can’t ask for more than that. We had a variety of goals, including those of starting out strong, publishing books that were stories readers not only wanted to read, but that we loved and wanted to read, and of creating a team of Harlequin employees and freelancers who were supportive, enthusiastic and believed in this imprint. Check, check and check.
(psss, here comes the announcement) Not only did we achieve our goals, but the last year of publishing books has brought us such amazing feedback, loyal customers, positive reviews and an incredible group of authors that I feel like it’s going to be hard to top. Oh, and not only did we do all that? But we did just a bit more. We’ve always told everyone Carina is digital-first–not just in the release of books in digital format first, but in our thinking. We’re always thinking first of how we can make Carina Press a great digital press. But, as many of you know, we also take other rights in our contracts, including print, audio, and translation. In the past year, we’ve often been asked: when will you utilize XYZ rights? (I think expectations were high because we’re a Harlequin connection) Partly we’ve said: we’ve only been publishing digital books for a few months, give us time! Partly we said: we’re focusing on digital, because Harlequin already does those other things well and now we’re really trying to grow digital.
Yet, despite those answers, from the month after our launch, we’ve been utilizing audio rights via our partner, Audible.com. At least half of our titles go to audio. Then, last fall we announced the first batch of print rights being utilized via our DTC program. Today I’m happy to announce that two more of the titles, Sea of Suspicion by Toni Anderson and The Paris Secret by Angela Henry have been selected for the DTC program, and more titles are under consideration. A few months ago we announced that Shannon Stacey’s trilogy will go to print via the HQN imprint. We may not be going gangbusters on the print versions, but we’re definitely exploring our options as we go along, showing that we’re always thinking about how we might utilize those rights.
But that last one, translation rights, until today I’ve had to say “we’re working on it”. But I’m tickled to tell you that last week we sold our first translation rights, to a publisher in Thailand, for Marie Force’s first two Fatal books, Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice. Happy anniversary to us and congratulations to Marie! Now we really feel like we accomplished a heck of a lot in the last year. And I think I can confidently say, this is just the beginning.
Although I decided that this blog post was too long already, to list all of the things I’ve learned over the past year (and if you’re curious what those are, you can read about them on Nadia’s blog today in our anniversary blog tour!) there’s one thing that was so important, I had to make sure I shared it here: I’ve learned that I love (adore) working for Harlequin. They’re good to me and they’re supportive of Carina Press. In fact, two people kind of key (tongue in cheek) to Harlequin and Harlequin digital leadership sent along a few notes for me to share, and you can see just what I mean by supportive.
First, from the Harlequin digital team’s boss, Brent Lewis, Executive VP of Digital:
Wow, a year! Happy Anniversary Carina Press!
First and foremost I would like to thank all the readers of Carina Press books and authors who have published with Carina Press; it is only a name without you. Thank you for sharing our vision of an exciting new way to share great stories.
There have been so many exciting moments in the last year, from the first moment Carina Press books were available on the Carina Press site and all the great retail partners we work with, the success of the business – both in sales and with authors, deciding how to unveil Carina Press at conferences, having Audible.com create numerous digital audio works, putting a number of titles into print and on and on.
These are all wonderful milestones; however two things stand out for me over the past year. The first is the passion, commitment and purpose of all the people who touch Carina Press. Everyone believes so strongly in Carina Press and this level of enthusiasm has not dropped one iota in the last year, in fact as we plan for the next year and the year after that, it becomes even stronger. The second is the notes of gratitude received from authors. Angela always passes these on, each one is so important, they inspire all the Carina Press team in a way no other means can.
Finally I would like to congratulate and thank Angela James. We are so fortunate to have a passionate, inspiring and really smart person at the helm of Carina Press. I honestly don’t think she slept for the first six months of Carina Press and racks up air mile after air mile in the name of Carina Press. It is always a highlight in my week when I have a weekly status call with Angela and team; it’s a lot of fun!
Happy Anniversary Carina.
And from Donna Hayes, Harlequin CEO:
Carina Press is one year old and we couldn’t be happier with it! Angela James has done ground-breaking work with this new imprint and business model and is helping to lead Harlequin’s vision of the future. Congratulations to Angela, to all of the amazing Carina authors and the whole Carina team.
In honor of our first anniversary celebration, the Carina Press team is doing a whirlwind blog tour on some of our authors’ blogs (twenty blogs, to be exact). On each blog, leave a comment and be entered to win a download of a Carina Press book. You can enter on every blog (a list of all of the blogs we’re on today is listed after the cut). Everyone is eligible to win (well, except Harlequin staff. Sorry!)
Here on the Carina blog, we’re offering a grand prize of a Kobo ereader (the original model) and 12 Carina Press digital titles. All you need to do to be entered to win is comment below. We will ship internationally. Legal rules and details are here, if you want some dry reading. The grand prize is valued at approximately $160. If you’re reading this and not employed by Harlequin or living with someone who is, you’re eligible!
Thank you again, all of you, for making the past year wonderful, exciting, exhilarating, fun and, most of all, successful. I hope you’ll stick around for another year!
Visit these blogs for a chance to win a Carina Press download, and to read some thoughts about the past year from these team members:
Susanna Fraser hosts Mallory Braus
Christine D’Abo hosts Alissa Davis
Joely Sue Burkhart hosts Gina Bernal
Maria Zannini hosts Melissa Johnson
Marie Force hosts Denise Nielsen
Angela James (that’s me!) hosts Rhonda Stapleton
Lauren Dane hosts Deb Nemeth
Inez Kelley hosts Malle Vallik
Word Whores hosts Aideen O’Leary-Chung
Shannon Stacey hosts Eleanor Elliott
Jaci Burton hosts Jenny Bullough
Shirley Wells hosts Tara Stevens
Keri Stevens hosts Amy Wilkins
Cindy Spencer Pape hosts Jayne Hoogenberk
Fiona Lowe hosts Stephanie Doig
Bonnie R. Paulson hosts Piya Campana
International Heat hosts Angela Hill
Karen Erickson hosts Lora Jaggassar
Natalie Damschroder hosts Dana Grimaldi
Nadia Lee hosts me!