An interview with Kate Duffy

Cat 243 Dover Today, I’m honored to be hosting my editor, Kate Duffy of Kensington.  Kate has been a romance editor for many years, and is something of a legend among authors.  I first worked with Kate on an anthology project some years ago, and even though she’d inherited the project when another editor left, her consideration and support for the authors and the book were exemplary. 

When I told my writer friends that Kate was going to be my editor, they said things like “Ooooooh,  Kate Duffy!”  So, onward to the questions! 

MJP: Kate, you’ve edited many kinds of books, including, I think, all varieties of romance. Could you give us a brief overview of your professional background? 

KD: I started in publishing via a temp position in 1974.  The publishing world was quite different then but the house I was with published gothic romances and I readKateduffy and loved gothic romances and historical fiction and so I was able to find my niche early.  From Popular Library, I spent a year in London at Paddington Press, came back, went to Dell, revamped (along with Vivian Stephens) Candlelight Romances, then was hired to start Silhouette.  From there I went to Pocket.  I have also worked at Harlequin, Meteor and have been at Kensington for the past 13 years

MJP: As an editor, you need to buy what will work in the ever-changing romance market.  What are you looking for now?  And what are your own particular preferences?

KD: I want to buy the best that is available to me and the books that I feel passionate about.  I also have to buy what I think I can package and sell.  Some books that I love, I might pass on because I don’t have a clear sense before I buy SURRENDERBECOMESHER them as to cover, title and marketing direction.  I may be wrong for those books.

I like just about everything that is well written but I am first and foremost an historical reader.  Currently I am enjoying a personal binge on historical mysteries.

MJP: For several years, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and claims that historical romance was dying.  Luckily that’s past, but you’ve said that Kensington  consistently did well with historicals during the doom and gloom period.  Why do you think that is?  Kensington’s marketing?  Packaging?  A particularly good understanding of what makes historical romance work?

KD: It is all down to our superlative authors and our enthusiasm for their books.  Every time we go to discuss a new cover, we look at the past covers, look at what we think did or didn’t work and see if we can’t get more from the art.  And yes, I think we are clear as a company about the fact that whether it is contemporary, paranormal or historical, it is all about the romance.

Dangerousgames MJP: What do you think about the current historical romance market?  What time periods and settings do you think work best?

KD: I think it is a very healthy market for historicals in that any part of this market can be described as healthy.  But romance across the board is holding its own as a genre.  Paranormal is hot, followed right behind by historical and then contemporary, at least in my office and in some parts of our publishing program.  In Brava, historical is leading the way.

I think it is not so much about period and setting as it is about the author’s voice.  I remember once someone asking me if I thought Scotland was “safe”.  I said, “Probably, if you’re Scottish and have a good map.”  Write what you love and don’t try for “safe”. 

MJP: I asked several friends what questions they’d like to see answered, so here are a few:  First, how important accuracy is to the popularity of a historical romance?

KD:  Well, it is very important but we are applying a 21st century eye to our books, so certain behaviors and attitudes may be reflected.  But if you have glaring historical inaccuracies, it will anger the reader and me. If we know more than you about the time period you are exploring, we lose confidence in you right away.

MJP:  COVERS are always a great source of interest in historical romance!  One friend mentioned that it doesn’t look like clinch covers are going away, and there are some gorgeous ones being done.  She hoped you’d “share some of your cover wisdom.”  What works, what doesn’t? (Note: The covers you see in this blog are all upcoming Kensington titles.)

KD:  Remember, it is a combination of the cover and the title for ultimate impact. TheNakedbaron And that this is an author driven marketplace. I want gorgeous, lush, provocative, sophisticated and dramatic in our covers.  I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.  Yes indeed, working in the art department is not for sissies.  Bottom line is that we, art and editorial, want the author to love the cover. 

MJP:  Another friend suggested I ask about Kensington’s cover experiments in the early ‘90s (before you went there.)  For a while, the publisher deliberately moved away from clinches.  Some gorgeous covers were done, but sales went down.  (I suspect this might tie in with the previous question.)  Any thoughts?

KD: None.  I don’t recall this.

MJP: Any final thoughts on romance and future of the genre?

Lordofdesire KD: We are going to be fine.  The future is limitless, we just have to keep evolving and giving the readers more.

MJP:  Thanks so much for visiting, Kate!

So–do you have any questions for the legendary Kate?  What are your thoughts on covers?  Clinches work because they are the marketing symbol of romance–two people looking happy to be together.  The marketing images are more diverse now and can include romantic looking symbols–flowers, a handsome dagger, whatever–and a man or a woman instead of a couple. What works for you?  What doesn't?  And any idea why?

Let us know!  Mary Jo

85 thoughts on “An interview with Kate Duffy”

  1. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been following you your entire career and didn’t know it. I cut my teeth on the gothics, was there for Candlelight and the launch of Silhouette. I’ve been a great customer, trust me!
    Great interview.
    I like a lot of Kensington’s covers – in response not the interview but the final question, I didn’t buy Lorraine Heath’s last two books until a friend told me I absolutely HAD to, that they were completely my flavor and great reads. Even then I passed them up because OMG the covers. I don’t even want to leave them out in my living room, it’s so over the top. Not even aback cover blurb, Avon? Really? But I got over the cover and read them and they were fab and I’ll buy the rest of the series (online) and I’m glad I didn’t miss them. But I never would have known by the covers. I’m sure someone looking the the hot hot hot read was taken aback. (I actually saw a review once that complained “The sex didn’t start till page 235…”)

    Reply
  2. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been following you your entire career and didn’t know it. I cut my teeth on the gothics, was there for Candlelight and the launch of Silhouette. I’ve been a great customer, trust me!
    Great interview.
    I like a lot of Kensington’s covers – in response not the interview but the final question, I didn’t buy Lorraine Heath’s last two books until a friend told me I absolutely HAD to, that they were completely my flavor and great reads. Even then I passed them up because OMG the covers. I don’t even want to leave them out in my living room, it’s so over the top. Not even aback cover blurb, Avon? Really? But I got over the cover and read them and they were fab and I’ll buy the rest of the series (online) and I’m glad I didn’t miss them. But I never would have known by the covers. I’m sure someone looking the the hot hot hot read was taken aback. (I actually saw a review once that complained “The sex didn’t start till page 235…”)

    Reply
  3. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been following you your entire career and didn’t know it. I cut my teeth on the gothics, was there for Candlelight and the launch of Silhouette. I’ve been a great customer, trust me!
    Great interview.
    I like a lot of Kensington’s covers – in response not the interview but the final question, I didn’t buy Lorraine Heath’s last two books until a friend told me I absolutely HAD to, that they were completely my flavor and great reads. Even then I passed them up because OMG the covers. I don’t even want to leave them out in my living room, it’s so over the top. Not even aback cover blurb, Avon? Really? But I got over the cover and read them and they were fab and I’ll buy the rest of the series (online) and I’m glad I didn’t miss them. But I never would have known by the covers. I’m sure someone looking the the hot hot hot read was taken aback. (I actually saw a review once that complained “The sex didn’t start till page 235…”)

    Reply
  4. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been following you your entire career and didn’t know it. I cut my teeth on the gothics, was there for Candlelight and the launch of Silhouette. I’ve been a great customer, trust me!
    Great interview.
    I like a lot of Kensington’s covers – in response not the interview but the final question, I didn’t buy Lorraine Heath’s last two books until a friend told me I absolutely HAD to, that they were completely my flavor and great reads. Even then I passed them up because OMG the covers. I don’t even want to leave them out in my living room, it’s so over the top. Not even aback cover blurb, Avon? Really? But I got over the cover and read them and they were fab and I’ll buy the rest of the series (online) and I’m glad I didn’t miss them. But I never would have known by the covers. I’m sure someone looking the the hot hot hot read was taken aback. (I actually saw a review once that complained “The sex didn’t start till page 235…”)

    Reply
  5. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been following you your entire career and didn’t know it. I cut my teeth on the gothics, was there for Candlelight and the launch of Silhouette. I’ve been a great customer, trust me!
    Great interview.
    I like a lot of Kensington’s covers – in response not the interview but the final question, I didn’t buy Lorraine Heath’s last two books until a friend told me I absolutely HAD to, that they were completely my flavor and great reads. Even then I passed them up because OMG the covers. I don’t even want to leave them out in my living room, it’s so over the top. Not even aback cover blurb, Avon? Really? But I got over the cover and read them and they were fab and I’ll buy the rest of the series (online) and I’m glad I didn’t miss them. But I never would have known by the covers. I’m sure someone looking the the hot hot hot read was taken aback. (I actually saw a review once that complained “The sex didn’t start till page 235…”)

    Reply
  6. All the pictorial covers in the blog entry are eye catching in their way, but my vote goes to painted artwork rather than photographs. No matter how carefully costumed, the headless lady and the faces of those two men look way too contemporary to me. However I realize that I’m probably in the minority here and the 21st century face in the old clothes is a plus marketing-wise, not a negative.
    Great looking guys, though — but should be wearing tuxes 😉
    As for the cartoon cover – well, I’m not much on those; they remind me too much of annoying TV commercials.

    Reply
  7. All the pictorial covers in the blog entry are eye catching in their way, but my vote goes to painted artwork rather than photographs. No matter how carefully costumed, the headless lady and the faces of those two men look way too contemporary to me. However I realize that I’m probably in the minority here and the 21st century face in the old clothes is a plus marketing-wise, not a negative.
    Great looking guys, though — but should be wearing tuxes 😉
    As for the cartoon cover – well, I’m not much on those; they remind me too much of annoying TV commercials.

    Reply
  8. All the pictorial covers in the blog entry are eye catching in their way, but my vote goes to painted artwork rather than photographs. No matter how carefully costumed, the headless lady and the faces of those two men look way too contemporary to me. However I realize that I’m probably in the minority here and the 21st century face in the old clothes is a plus marketing-wise, not a negative.
    Great looking guys, though — but should be wearing tuxes 😉
    As for the cartoon cover – well, I’m not much on those; they remind me too much of annoying TV commercials.

    Reply
  9. All the pictorial covers in the blog entry are eye catching in their way, but my vote goes to painted artwork rather than photographs. No matter how carefully costumed, the headless lady and the faces of those two men look way too contemporary to me. However I realize that I’m probably in the minority here and the 21st century face in the old clothes is a plus marketing-wise, not a negative.
    Great looking guys, though — but should be wearing tuxes 😉
    As for the cartoon cover – well, I’m not much on those; they remind me too much of annoying TV commercials.

    Reply
  10. All the pictorial covers in the blog entry are eye catching in their way, but my vote goes to painted artwork rather than photographs. No matter how carefully costumed, the headless lady and the faces of those two men look way too contemporary to me. However I realize that I’m probably in the minority here and the 21st century face in the old clothes is a plus marketing-wise, not a negative.
    Great looking guys, though — but should be wearing tuxes 😉
    As for the cartoon cover – well, I’m not much on those; they remind me too much of annoying TV commercials.

    Reply
  11. Hello Kate (and Mary Jo),
    Your comments about the historical subgenre were good to hear. I, for one, never stopped reading them, even when “they” said historicals were fading or dead. They’re a wonderful escape.
    As for covers, I agree with Janice above. Photographs don’t have the right “feel” to me, especially when I see the same guy’s face on cover after cover. Uniqueness is lost. Plus I just don’t like carrying the book around the store. 🙂
    Kate, you’re a real treat. Your blog posts at Brava are witty, and sometimes outrageous. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your workshops (or rather Hilary’s workshop) in Dallas a few years ago.
    My question is hopefully not an impertinent one.
    What strengths do you bring to the editor-author relationship?
    Take care, and have a wonderful 2009!

    Reply
  12. Hello Kate (and Mary Jo),
    Your comments about the historical subgenre were good to hear. I, for one, never stopped reading them, even when “they” said historicals were fading or dead. They’re a wonderful escape.
    As for covers, I agree with Janice above. Photographs don’t have the right “feel” to me, especially when I see the same guy’s face on cover after cover. Uniqueness is lost. Plus I just don’t like carrying the book around the store. 🙂
    Kate, you’re a real treat. Your blog posts at Brava are witty, and sometimes outrageous. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your workshops (or rather Hilary’s workshop) in Dallas a few years ago.
    My question is hopefully not an impertinent one.
    What strengths do you bring to the editor-author relationship?
    Take care, and have a wonderful 2009!

    Reply
  13. Hello Kate (and Mary Jo),
    Your comments about the historical subgenre were good to hear. I, for one, never stopped reading them, even when “they” said historicals were fading or dead. They’re a wonderful escape.
    As for covers, I agree with Janice above. Photographs don’t have the right “feel” to me, especially when I see the same guy’s face on cover after cover. Uniqueness is lost. Plus I just don’t like carrying the book around the store. 🙂
    Kate, you’re a real treat. Your blog posts at Brava are witty, and sometimes outrageous. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your workshops (or rather Hilary’s workshop) in Dallas a few years ago.
    My question is hopefully not an impertinent one.
    What strengths do you bring to the editor-author relationship?
    Take care, and have a wonderful 2009!

    Reply
  14. Hello Kate (and Mary Jo),
    Your comments about the historical subgenre were good to hear. I, for one, never stopped reading them, even when “they” said historicals were fading or dead. They’re a wonderful escape.
    As for covers, I agree with Janice above. Photographs don’t have the right “feel” to me, especially when I see the same guy’s face on cover after cover. Uniqueness is lost. Plus I just don’t like carrying the book around the store. 🙂
    Kate, you’re a real treat. Your blog posts at Brava are witty, and sometimes outrageous. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your workshops (or rather Hilary’s workshop) in Dallas a few years ago.
    My question is hopefully not an impertinent one.
    What strengths do you bring to the editor-author relationship?
    Take care, and have a wonderful 2009!

    Reply
  15. Hello Kate (and Mary Jo),
    Your comments about the historical subgenre were good to hear. I, for one, never stopped reading them, even when “they” said historicals were fading or dead. They’re a wonderful escape.
    As for covers, I agree with Janice above. Photographs don’t have the right “feel” to me, especially when I see the same guy’s face on cover after cover. Uniqueness is lost. Plus I just don’t like carrying the book around the store. 🙂
    Kate, you’re a real treat. Your blog posts at Brava are witty, and sometimes outrageous. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of your workshops (or rather Hilary’s workshop) in Dallas a few years ago.
    My question is hopefully not an impertinent one.
    What strengths do you bring to the editor-author relationship?
    Take care, and have a wonderful 2009!

    Reply
  16. Hi, Kate!
    Diane Perkins/Diane Gaston here, waving madly.
    I don’t think I ever heard your editor journey before. Verrrry impressive.
    I always thought that the “Historical is Dead” wailing a couple of years ago was like the Hatchet Man Legend in college (does anyone remember the Hatchet Man?-It had no basis in reality but spread to colleges all over the country). Glad to know Historicals are holding their own!

    Reply
  17. Hi, Kate!
    Diane Perkins/Diane Gaston here, waving madly.
    I don’t think I ever heard your editor journey before. Verrrry impressive.
    I always thought that the “Historical is Dead” wailing a couple of years ago was like the Hatchet Man Legend in college (does anyone remember the Hatchet Man?-It had no basis in reality but spread to colleges all over the country). Glad to know Historicals are holding their own!

    Reply
  18. Hi, Kate!
    Diane Perkins/Diane Gaston here, waving madly.
    I don’t think I ever heard your editor journey before. Verrrry impressive.
    I always thought that the “Historical is Dead” wailing a couple of years ago was like the Hatchet Man Legend in college (does anyone remember the Hatchet Man?-It had no basis in reality but spread to colleges all over the country). Glad to know Historicals are holding their own!

    Reply
  19. Hi, Kate!
    Diane Perkins/Diane Gaston here, waving madly.
    I don’t think I ever heard your editor journey before. Verrrry impressive.
    I always thought that the “Historical is Dead” wailing a couple of years ago was like the Hatchet Man Legend in college (does anyone remember the Hatchet Man?-It had no basis in reality but spread to colleges all over the country). Glad to know Historicals are holding their own!

    Reply
  20. Hi, Kate!
    Diane Perkins/Diane Gaston here, waving madly.
    I don’t think I ever heard your editor journey before. Verrrry impressive.
    I always thought that the “Historical is Dead” wailing a couple of years ago was like the Hatchet Man Legend in college (does anyone remember the Hatchet Man?-It had no basis in reality but spread to colleges all over the country). Glad to know Historicals are holding their own!

    Reply
  21. Tracey,
    What a thought provoking thing to ask. I have strengths that I am proud of and weaknesses that my authors are usually kind enough to overlook.
    The longer I do this, the better an editor I have become. I try to communicate with my authors in a fashion that is clear and useful. If not, I keep my cake hole shut. Each author is different and each book is different. I have said that is is not enough if your editorial comments make a book different, your revisions requests must make the book better.
    I know the business, I have a lot of experience in representing the author to the company and the company to the author. And I am a relentless cheerleader when I am in love with a book.
    On the other hand, I am old and cranky so it ain’t all fun times.
    Hello, Diane, good to see you.
    Best, Kate

    Reply
  22. Tracey,
    What a thought provoking thing to ask. I have strengths that I am proud of and weaknesses that my authors are usually kind enough to overlook.
    The longer I do this, the better an editor I have become. I try to communicate with my authors in a fashion that is clear and useful. If not, I keep my cake hole shut. Each author is different and each book is different. I have said that is is not enough if your editorial comments make a book different, your revisions requests must make the book better.
    I know the business, I have a lot of experience in representing the author to the company and the company to the author. And I am a relentless cheerleader when I am in love with a book.
    On the other hand, I am old and cranky so it ain’t all fun times.
    Hello, Diane, good to see you.
    Best, Kate

    Reply
  23. Tracey,
    What a thought provoking thing to ask. I have strengths that I am proud of and weaknesses that my authors are usually kind enough to overlook.
    The longer I do this, the better an editor I have become. I try to communicate with my authors in a fashion that is clear and useful. If not, I keep my cake hole shut. Each author is different and each book is different. I have said that is is not enough if your editorial comments make a book different, your revisions requests must make the book better.
    I know the business, I have a lot of experience in representing the author to the company and the company to the author. And I am a relentless cheerleader when I am in love with a book.
    On the other hand, I am old and cranky so it ain’t all fun times.
    Hello, Diane, good to see you.
    Best, Kate

    Reply
  24. Tracey,
    What a thought provoking thing to ask. I have strengths that I am proud of and weaknesses that my authors are usually kind enough to overlook.
    The longer I do this, the better an editor I have become. I try to communicate with my authors in a fashion that is clear and useful. If not, I keep my cake hole shut. Each author is different and each book is different. I have said that is is not enough if your editorial comments make a book different, your revisions requests must make the book better.
    I know the business, I have a lot of experience in representing the author to the company and the company to the author. And I am a relentless cheerleader when I am in love with a book.
    On the other hand, I am old and cranky so it ain’t all fun times.
    Hello, Diane, good to see you.
    Best, Kate

    Reply
  25. Tracey,
    What a thought provoking thing to ask. I have strengths that I am proud of and weaknesses that my authors are usually kind enough to overlook.
    The longer I do this, the better an editor I have become. I try to communicate with my authors in a fashion that is clear and useful. If not, I keep my cake hole shut. Each author is different and each book is different. I have said that is is not enough if your editorial comments make a book different, your revisions requests must make the book better.
    I know the business, I have a lot of experience in representing the author to the company and the company to the author. And I am a relentless cheerleader when I am in love with a book.
    On the other hand, I am old and cranky so it ain’t all fun times.
    Hello, Diane, good to see you.
    Best, Kate

    Reply
  26. “I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.” This reminds me of a T-shirt one sees all over Vietnam: Same Same but Different. It refers to the response given in restaurants when Westerners ask about an unfamiliar food, that it’s “same same like apple (or chicken or whatever) but different”.
    As for covers, my response to the clinch in general I dislike them, but there are some I’ve liked very much. If their clothes are falling off (extra points deducted if they’re standing in snow) I usually find them ridiculous, but if their clothes and hairstyles are appropriate for the time and place, I often like them. I categorize Ms. Beverley’s recent covers as clinches, and I think they are beautiful.
    My question for Ms. Duffy is this: how do editors know how much to credit a cover for an author’s sales? As mentioned above, I liked Ms. Beverley’s covers, but I would have bought the books anyway because they by Jo Beverley. OTOH, I bought Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Taste Temptation” DESPITE the cover, which I disliked intensely, and I worry that editors will take that as an affirmation of that kind of cover. Do covers make more difference for new or mid-list authors?

    Reply
  27. “I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.” This reminds me of a T-shirt one sees all over Vietnam: Same Same but Different. It refers to the response given in restaurants when Westerners ask about an unfamiliar food, that it’s “same same like apple (or chicken or whatever) but different”.
    As for covers, my response to the clinch in general I dislike them, but there are some I’ve liked very much. If their clothes are falling off (extra points deducted if they’re standing in snow) I usually find them ridiculous, but if their clothes and hairstyles are appropriate for the time and place, I often like them. I categorize Ms. Beverley’s recent covers as clinches, and I think they are beautiful.
    My question for Ms. Duffy is this: how do editors know how much to credit a cover for an author’s sales? As mentioned above, I liked Ms. Beverley’s covers, but I would have bought the books anyway because they by Jo Beverley. OTOH, I bought Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Taste Temptation” DESPITE the cover, which I disliked intensely, and I worry that editors will take that as an affirmation of that kind of cover. Do covers make more difference for new or mid-list authors?

    Reply
  28. “I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.” This reminds me of a T-shirt one sees all over Vietnam: Same Same but Different. It refers to the response given in restaurants when Westerners ask about an unfamiliar food, that it’s “same same like apple (or chicken or whatever) but different”.
    As for covers, my response to the clinch in general I dislike them, but there are some I’ve liked very much. If their clothes are falling off (extra points deducted if they’re standing in snow) I usually find them ridiculous, but if their clothes and hairstyles are appropriate for the time and place, I often like them. I categorize Ms. Beverley’s recent covers as clinches, and I think they are beautiful.
    My question for Ms. Duffy is this: how do editors know how much to credit a cover for an author’s sales? As mentioned above, I liked Ms. Beverley’s covers, but I would have bought the books anyway because they by Jo Beverley. OTOH, I bought Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Taste Temptation” DESPITE the cover, which I disliked intensely, and I worry that editors will take that as an affirmation of that kind of cover. Do covers make more difference for new or mid-list authors?

    Reply
  29. “I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.” This reminds me of a T-shirt one sees all over Vietnam: Same Same but Different. It refers to the response given in restaurants when Westerners ask about an unfamiliar food, that it’s “same same like apple (or chicken or whatever) but different”.
    As for covers, my response to the clinch in general I dislike them, but there are some I’ve liked very much. If their clothes are falling off (extra points deducted if they’re standing in snow) I usually find them ridiculous, but if their clothes and hairstyles are appropriate for the time and place, I often like them. I categorize Ms. Beverley’s recent covers as clinches, and I think they are beautiful.
    My question for Ms. Duffy is this: how do editors know how much to credit a cover for an author’s sales? As mentioned above, I liked Ms. Beverley’s covers, but I would have bought the books anyway because they by Jo Beverley. OTOH, I bought Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Taste Temptation” DESPITE the cover, which I disliked intensely, and I worry that editors will take that as an affirmation of that kind of cover. Do covers make more difference for new or mid-list authors?

    Reply
  30. “I want them to brand the author when possible and I want something different but the same.” This reminds me of a T-shirt one sees all over Vietnam: Same Same but Different. It refers to the response given in restaurants when Westerners ask about an unfamiliar food, that it’s “same same like apple (or chicken or whatever) but different”.
    As for covers, my response to the clinch in general I dislike them, but there are some I’ve liked very much. If their clothes are falling off (extra points deducted if they’re standing in snow) I usually find them ridiculous, but if their clothes and hairstyles are appropriate for the time and place, I often like them. I categorize Ms. Beverley’s recent covers as clinches, and I think they are beautiful.
    My question for Ms. Duffy is this: how do editors know how much to credit a cover for an author’s sales? As mentioned above, I liked Ms. Beverley’s covers, but I would have bought the books anyway because they by Jo Beverley. OTOH, I bought Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Taste Temptation” DESPITE the cover, which I disliked intensely, and I worry that editors will take that as an affirmation of that kind of cover. Do covers make more difference for new or mid-list authors?

    Reply
  31. I’ve been developing an appreciation for Ms. Duffy’s views recently by listening to RWAconference CDs. The ‘relentless cheerleader/old & cranky’ dual persona made me laugh. That’s a bit how I feel about covers, sometimes. I think I’m an atypical reader because I personally can’t abide the anonymous manchest or clinch. I didn’t read Loretta Chase (!) for many, many years because I couldn’t get past her covers. Of the ones here, the only one that would intrigue me enough to pick it up in a bookstore is the ‘Lords of Desire’ one – the colors, the architecture, his expression, his look – all arresting. With apologies to the author of the other ‘manhead’ book – the gentleman looks like he just woke up wan and headachey due to bad weather on Tower Bridge, or perhaps having to jump off it at some point in the story. Then again, other readers might find him mysterious and rugged…

    Reply
  32. I’ve been developing an appreciation for Ms. Duffy’s views recently by listening to RWAconference CDs. The ‘relentless cheerleader/old & cranky’ dual persona made me laugh. That’s a bit how I feel about covers, sometimes. I think I’m an atypical reader because I personally can’t abide the anonymous manchest or clinch. I didn’t read Loretta Chase (!) for many, many years because I couldn’t get past her covers. Of the ones here, the only one that would intrigue me enough to pick it up in a bookstore is the ‘Lords of Desire’ one – the colors, the architecture, his expression, his look – all arresting. With apologies to the author of the other ‘manhead’ book – the gentleman looks like he just woke up wan and headachey due to bad weather on Tower Bridge, or perhaps having to jump off it at some point in the story. Then again, other readers might find him mysterious and rugged…

    Reply
  33. I’ve been developing an appreciation for Ms. Duffy’s views recently by listening to RWAconference CDs. The ‘relentless cheerleader/old & cranky’ dual persona made me laugh. That’s a bit how I feel about covers, sometimes. I think I’m an atypical reader because I personally can’t abide the anonymous manchest or clinch. I didn’t read Loretta Chase (!) for many, many years because I couldn’t get past her covers. Of the ones here, the only one that would intrigue me enough to pick it up in a bookstore is the ‘Lords of Desire’ one – the colors, the architecture, his expression, his look – all arresting. With apologies to the author of the other ‘manhead’ book – the gentleman looks like he just woke up wan and headachey due to bad weather on Tower Bridge, or perhaps having to jump off it at some point in the story. Then again, other readers might find him mysterious and rugged…

    Reply
  34. I’ve been developing an appreciation for Ms. Duffy’s views recently by listening to RWAconference CDs. The ‘relentless cheerleader/old & cranky’ dual persona made me laugh. That’s a bit how I feel about covers, sometimes. I think I’m an atypical reader because I personally can’t abide the anonymous manchest or clinch. I didn’t read Loretta Chase (!) for many, many years because I couldn’t get past her covers. Of the ones here, the only one that would intrigue me enough to pick it up in a bookstore is the ‘Lords of Desire’ one – the colors, the architecture, his expression, his look – all arresting. With apologies to the author of the other ‘manhead’ book – the gentleman looks like he just woke up wan and headachey due to bad weather on Tower Bridge, or perhaps having to jump off it at some point in the story. Then again, other readers might find him mysterious and rugged…

    Reply
  35. I’ve been developing an appreciation for Ms. Duffy’s views recently by listening to RWAconference CDs. The ‘relentless cheerleader/old & cranky’ dual persona made me laugh. That’s a bit how I feel about covers, sometimes. I think I’m an atypical reader because I personally can’t abide the anonymous manchest or clinch. I didn’t read Loretta Chase (!) for many, many years because I couldn’t get past her covers. Of the ones here, the only one that would intrigue me enough to pick it up in a bookstore is the ‘Lords of Desire’ one – the colors, the architecture, his expression, his look – all arresting. With apologies to the author of the other ‘manhead’ book – the gentleman looks like he just woke up wan and headachey due to bad weather on Tower Bridge, or perhaps having to jump off it at some point in the story. Then again, other readers might find him mysterious and rugged…

    Reply
  36. I’m glad to hear historical isn’t dead, because historical is 99% of what I read. And while I agree that some parts of a book will reflect 21st century ideas, I toss away the so-called “costume drama” books, which essentially have 21st century people wearing different clothes. If I wanted to read contemporary,I would buy contemporary. I don’t.
    I do think historicals have less and less historical flavor as time goes by. (A Regency character says “OK.”)
    As for book covers, I prefers things rather than people on covers. I really hate clinch covers where it looks like the hero and heroine are having sex right in front of me. We’re talking mainstream here, and I see this type of cover fairly often.
    As an example of book covers I like, I loved the covers for Celeste Bradley’s “Liars’ Club” series. Those covers showed a bed and flowers. The books had lots of sex, but they didn’t throw it in your face. To show how things have changed in only five years, the covers for Ms. Bradley’s latest series have a double front cover, with the half-naked couple having sex on the inner cover.
    Oh, yes, and if you have a man on the cover, have him shave. Stubble is not attractive. **grins**

    Reply
  37. I’m glad to hear historical isn’t dead, because historical is 99% of what I read. And while I agree that some parts of a book will reflect 21st century ideas, I toss away the so-called “costume drama” books, which essentially have 21st century people wearing different clothes. If I wanted to read contemporary,I would buy contemporary. I don’t.
    I do think historicals have less and less historical flavor as time goes by. (A Regency character says “OK.”)
    As for book covers, I prefers things rather than people on covers. I really hate clinch covers where it looks like the hero and heroine are having sex right in front of me. We’re talking mainstream here, and I see this type of cover fairly often.
    As an example of book covers I like, I loved the covers for Celeste Bradley’s “Liars’ Club” series. Those covers showed a bed and flowers. The books had lots of sex, but they didn’t throw it in your face. To show how things have changed in only five years, the covers for Ms. Bradley’s latest series have a double front cover, with the half-naked couple having sex on the inner cover.
    Oh, yes, and if you have a man on the cover, have him shave. Stubble is not attractive. **grins**

    Reply
  38. I’m glad to hear historical isn’t dead, because historical is 99% of what I read. And while I agree that some parts of a book will reflect 21st century ideas, I toss away the so-called “costume drama” books, which essentially have 21st century people wearing different clothes. If I wanted to read contemporary,I would buy contemporary. I don’t.
    I do think historicals have less and less historical flavor as time goes by. (A Regency character says “OK.”)
    As for book covers, I prefers things rather than people on covers. I really hate clinch covers where it looks like the hero and heroine are having sex right in front of me. We’re talking mainstream here, and I see this type of cover fairly often.
    As an example of book covers I like, I loved the covers for Celeste Bradley’s “Liars’ Club” series. Those covers showed a bed and flowers. The books had lots of sex, but they didn’t throw it in your face. To show how things have changed in only five years, the covers for Ms. Bradley’s latest series have a double front cover, with the half-naked couple having sex on the inner cover.
    Oh, yes, and if you have a man on the cover, have him shave. Stubble is not attractive. **grins**

    Reply
  39. I’m glad to hear historical isn’t dead, because historical is 99% of what I read. And while I agree that some parts of a book will reflect 21st century ideas, I toss away the so-called “costume drama” books, which essentially have 21st century people wearing different clothes. If I wanted to read contemporary,I would buy contemporary. I don’t.
    I do think historicals have less and less historical flavor as time goes by. (A Regency character says “OK.”)
    As for book covers, I prefers things rather than people on covers. I really hate clinch covers where it looks like the hero and heroine are having sex right in front of me. We’re talking mainstream here, and I see this type of cover fairly often.
    As an example of book covers I like, I loved the covers for Celeste Bradley’s “Liars’ Club” series. Those covers showed a bed and flowers. The books had lots of sex, but they didn’t throw it in your face. To show how things have changed in only five years, the covers for Ms. Bradley’s latest series have a double front cover, with the half-naked couple having sex on the inner cover.
    Oh, yes, and if you have a man on the cover, have him shave. Stubble is not attractive. **grins**

    Reply
  40. I’m glad to hear historical isn’t dead, because historical is 99% of what I read. And while I agree that some parts of a book will reflect 21st century ideas, I toss away the so-called “costume drama” books, which essentially have 21st century people wearing different clothes. If I wanted to read contemporary,I would buy contemporary. I don’t.
    I do think historicals have less and less historical flavor as time goes by. (A Regency character says “OK.”)
    As for book covers, I prefers things rather than people on covers. I really hate clinch covers where it looks like the hero and heroine are having sex right in front of me. We’re talking mainstream here, and I see this type of cover fairly often.
    As an example of book covers I like, I loved the covers for Celeste Bradley’s “Liars’ Club” series. Those covers showed a bed and flowers. The books had lots of sex, but they didn’t throw it in your face. To show how things have changed in only five years, the covers for Ms. Bradley’s latest series have a double front cover, with the half-naked couple having sex on the inner cover.
    Oh, yes, and if you have a man on the cover, have him shave. Stubble is not attractive. **grins**

    Reply
  41. Kate, thanks so much for visiting us at the wenches!
    I cannot comment about covers because the last book I bought for its cover was Terry Pratchett’s WYRD SISTERS, and I’d never seen that artist’s outrageous style before. I’m not normal. “G”
    But it does intrigue me that you say it’s title and cover that sells the book. Even in this day and age of communication–blogs, Amazon, reviews, newsletters–you still feel as if most readers basically buy books for artwork? As an author, that scares… heck…out of me. And I think, as a reader, I feel the same. I want people to buy GOOD books, not just pretty ones. Okay, so maybe I’m a cranky dinosaur…”G”

    Reply
  42. Kate, thanks so much for visiting us at the wenches!
    I cannot comment about covers because the last book I bought for its cover was Terry Pratchett’s WYRD SISTERS, and I’d never seen that artist’s outrageous style before. I’m not normal. “G”
    But it does intrigue me that you say it’s title and cover that sells the book. Even in this day and age of communication–blogs, Amazon, reviews, newsletters–you still feel as if most readers basically buy books for artwork? As an author, that scares… heck…out of me. And I think, as a reader, I feel the same. I want people to buy GOOD books, not just pretty ones. Okay, so maybe I’m a cranky dinosaur…”G”

    Reply
  43. Kate, thanks so much for visiting us at the wenches!
    I cannot comment about covers because the last book I bought for its cover was Terry Pratchett’s WYRD SISTERS, and I’d never seen that artist’s outrageous style before. I’m not normal. “G”
    But it does intrigue me that you say it’s title and cover that sells the book. Even in this day and age of communication–blogs, Amazon, reviews, newsletters–you still feel as if most readers basically buy books for artwork? As an author, that scares… heck…out of me. And I think, as a reader, I feel the same. I want people to buy GOOD books, not just pretty ones. Okay, so maybe I’m a cranky dinosaur…”G”

    Reply
  44. Kate, thanks so much for visiting us at the wenches!
    I cannot comment about covers because the last book I bought for its cover was Terry Pratchett’s WYRD SISTERS, and I’d never seen that artist’s outrageous style before. I’m not normal. “G”
    But it does intrigue me that you say it’s title and cover that sells the book. Even in this day and age of communication–blogs, Amazon, reviews, newsletters–you still feel as if most readers basically buy books for artwork? As an author, that scares… heck…out of me. And I think, as a reader, I feel the same. I want people to buy GOOD books, not just pretty ones. Okay, so maybe I’m a cranky dinosaur…”G”

    Reply
  45. Kate, thanks so much for visiting us at the wenches!
    I cannot comment about covers because the last book I bought for its cover was Terry Pratchett’s WYRD SISTERS, and I’d never seen that artist’s outrageous style before. I’m not normal. “G”
    But it does intrigue me that you say it’s title and cover that sells the book. Even in this day and age of communication–blogs, Amazon, reviews, newsletters–you still feel as if most readers basically buy books for artwork? As an author, that scares… heck…out of me. And I think, as a reader, I feel the same. I want people to buy GOOD books, not just pretty ones. Okay, so maybe I’m a cranky dinosaur…”G”

    Reply
  46. Patricia,
    I said it was an author driven market but when trying to attract new readers and increase print orders the title and art are powerful tools. Everything counts.
    Susan,
    The first feedback we get is from the key accounts, the people who order the books so that you can find them on the shelves. After that, the die is cast. If you look at E. Holt 2, on the inside front cover you see all four covers (in color) in this series so this canny publisher is cross promoting like crazy which is a very good thing.
    We frequently have to commit to a cover direction long before you see the first book in the series go on sale. We calculate everything but most especially the burning question, with this cover diection (among other factors) are we printing and selling more copies.
    Kate

    Reply
  47. Patricia,
    I said it was an author driven market but when trying to attract new readers and increase print orders the title and art are powerful tools. Everything counts.
    Susan,
    The first feedback we get is from the key accounts, the people who order the books so that you can find them on the shelves. After that, the die is cast. If you look at E. Holt 2, on the inside front cover you see all four covers (in color) in this series so this canny publisher is cross promoting like crazy which is a very good thing.
    We frequently have to commit to a cover direction long before you see the first book in the series go on sale. We calculate everything but most especially the burning question, with this cover diection (among other factors) are we printing and selling more copies.
    Kate

    Reply
  48. Patricia,
    I said it was an author driven market but when trying to attract new readers and increase print orders the title and art are powerful tools. Everything counts.
    Susan,
    The first feedback we get is from the key accounts, the people who order the books so that you can find them on the shelves. After that, the die is cast. If you look at E. Holt 2, on the inside front cover you see all four covers (in color) in this series so this canny publisher is cross promoting like crazy which is a very good thing.
    We frequently have to commit to a cover direction long before you see the first book in the series go on sale. We calculate everything but most especially the burning question, with this cover diection (among other factors) are we printing and selling more copies.
    Kate

    Reply
  49. Patricia,
    I said it was an author driven market but when trying to attract new readers and increase print orders the title and art are powerful tools. Everything counts.
    Susan,
    The first feedback we get is from the key accounts, the people who order the books so that you can find them on the shelves. After that, the die is cast. If you look at E. Holt 2, on the inside front cover you see all four covers (in color) in this series so this canny publisher is cross promoting like crazy which is a very good thing.
    We frequently have to commit to a cover direction long before you see the first book in the series go on sale. We calculate everything but most especially the burning question, with this cover diection (among other factors) are we printing and selling more copies.
    Kate

    Reply
  50. Patricia,
    I said it was an author driven market but when trying to attract new readers and increase print orders the title and art are powerful tools. Everything counts.
    Susan,
    The first feedback we get is from the key accounts, the people who order the books so that you can find them on the shelves. After that, the die is cast. If you look at E. Holt 2, on the inside front cover you see all four covers (in color) in this series so this canny publisher is cross promoting like crazy which is a very good thing.
    We frequently have to commit to a cover direction long before you see the first book in the series go on sale. We calculate everything but most especially the burning question, with this cover diection (among other factors) are we printing and selling more copies.
    Kate

    Reply
  51. From MJP:
    Kate, I laughed when I read your self-description of being a cheerleader/Old and cranky. I’ve love the cheerleader part for my books, and haven’tereally seen old and cranky. Direct, yes, which I love. Cranky, no.
    As you can see there is nothing like a discussion of covers to see how different we all are!
    Mary Jo, whose personal preference is for people who look romantic and tender. And at least somewhat dressed.

    Reply
  52. From MJP:
    Kate, I laughed when I read your self-description of being a cheerleader/Old and cranky. I’ve love the cheerleader part for my books, and haven’tereally seen old and cranky. Direct, yes, which I love. Cranky, no.
    As you can see there is nothing like a discussion of covers to see how different we all are!
    Mary Jo, whose personal preference is for people who look romantic and tender. And at least somewhat dressed.

    Reply
  53. From MJP:
    Kate, I laughed when I read your self-description of being a cheerleader/Old and cranky. I’ve love the cheerleader part for my books, and haven’tereally seen old and cranky. Direct, yes, which I love. Cranky, no.
    As you can see there is nothing like a discussion of covers to see how different we all are!
    Mary Jo, whose personal preference is for people who look romantic and tender. And at least somewhat dressed.

    Reply
  54. From MJP:
    Kate, I laughed when I read your self-description of being a cheerleader/Old and cranky. I’ve love the cheerleader part for my books, and haven’tereally seen old and cranky. Direct, yes, which I love. Cranky, no.
    As you can see there is nothing like a discussion of covers to see how different we all are!
    Mary Jo, whose personal preference is for people who look romantic and tender. And at least somewhat dressed.

    Reply
  55. From MJP:
    Kate, I laughed when I read your self-description of being a cheerleader/Old and cranky. I’ve love the cheerleader part for my books, and haven’tereally seen old and cranky. Direct, yes, which I love. Cranky, no.
    As you can see there is nothing like a discussion of covers to see how different we all are!
    Mary Jo, whose personal preference is for people who look romantic and tender. And at least somewhat dressed.

    Reply
  56. I wrote something earlier but my Blackberry ate it. Darn modern technology.
    I’ll echo Linda here and say that I never noticed the supposed demise of the historical, as that is the genre of choice for me. In an odd twist of fate both of my first manuscripts are contemporaries. Go figure. Now while the news of the historicals being by-gone didn’t bother me as much as hearing that contemps are out. I think I’ll keep at it since I’ve decided not to go the safe route in either my reading or writing.
    Thanks for sharing here. I’ve enjoyed the workshops you’ve participated in at National. Very fun and informative and not in the least bit cranky.

    Reply
  57. I wrote something earlier but my Blackberry ate it. Darn modern technology.
    I’ll echo Linda here and say that I never noticed the supposed demise of the historical, as that is the genre of choice for me. In an odd twist of fate both of my first manuscripts are contemporaries. Go figure. Now while the news of the historicals being by-gone didn’t bother me as much as hearing that contemps are out. I think I’ll keep at it since I’ve decided not to go the safe route in either my reading or writing.
    Thanks for sharing here. I’ve enjoyed the workshops you’ve participated in at National. Very fun and informative and not in the least bit cranky.

    Reply
  58. I wrote something earlier but my Blackberry ate it. Darn modern technology.
    I’ll echo Linda here and say that I never noticed the supposed demise of the historical, as that is the genre of choice for me. In an odd twist of fate both of my first manuscripts are contemporaries. Go figure. Now while the news of the historicals being by-gone didn’t bother me as much as hearing that contemps are out. I think I’ll keep at it since I’ve decided not to go the safe route in either my reading or writing.
    Thanks for sharing here. I’ve enjoyed the workshops you’ve participated in at National. Very fun and informative and not in the least bit cranky.

    Reply
  59. I wrote something earlier but my Blackberry ate it. Darn modern technology.
    I’ll echo Linda here and say that I never noticed the supposed demise of the historical, as that is the genre of choice for me. In an odd twist of fate both of my first manuscripts are contemporaries. Go figure. Now while the news of the historicals being by-gone didn’t bother me as much as hearing that contemps are out. I think I’ll keep at it since I’ve decided not to go the safe route in either my reading or writing.
    Thanks for sharing here. I’ve enjoyed the workshops you’ve participated in at National. Very fun and informative and not in the least bit cranky.

    Reply
  60. I wrote something earlier but my Blackberry ate it. Darn modern technology.
    I’ll echo Linda here and say that I never noticed the supposed demise of the historical, as that is the genre of choice for me. In an odd twist of fate both of my first manuscripts are contemporaries. Go figure. Now while the news of the historicals being by-gone didn’t bother me as much as hearing that contemps are out. I think I’ll keep at it since I’ve decided not to go the safe route in either my reading or writing.
    Thanks for sharing here. I’ve enjoyed the workshops you’ve participated in at National. Very fun and informative and not in the least bit cranky.

    Reply
  61. Well, it is almost time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin, so many thanks to all of you kind people for your comments. Especially to Mary Jo for asking me to drop by and blather.
    All best wishes, Kate

    Reply
  62. Well, it is almost time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin, so many thanks to all of you kind people for your comments. Especially to Mary Jo for asking me to drop by and blather.
    All best wishes, Kate

    Reply
  63. Well, it is almost time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin, so many thanks to all of you kind people for your comments. Especially to Mary Jo for asking me to drop by and blather.
    All best wishes, Kate

    Reply
  64. Well, it is almost time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin, so many thanks to all of you kind people for your comments. Especially to Mary Jo for asking me to drop by and blather.
    All best wishes, Kate

    Reply
  65. Well, it is almost time for my coach to turn back into a pumpkin, so many thanks to all of you kind people for your comments. Especially to Mary Jo for asking me to drop by and blather.
    All best wishes, Kate

    Reply
  66. Hi Kate, Wonderful to find you here! (Thanks, Mary Jo, for arranging this interview.) I’m glad to read here that historicals and their reported demise a few years ago is a myth, at least at Kensington. I’ve heard the term “new kind of historical” bandied about in relation to what an author “has to do” in order to appeal to an editor in this tight market. “New kind” being the addition of some other fiction element such as paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, but there”must be” something different about the story. Do you have any thoughts to share about that? Thanks again for taking the time to be here! Garda

    Reply
  67. Hi Kate, Wonderful to find you here! (Thanks, Mary Jo, for arranging this interview.) I’m glad to read here that historicals and their reported demise a few years ago is a myth, at least at Kensington. I’ve heard the term “new kind of historical” bandied about in relation to what an author “has to do” in order to appeal to an editor in this tight market. “New kind” being the addition of some other fiction element such as paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, but there”must be” something different about the story. Do you have any thoughts to share about that? Thanks again for taking the time to be here! Garda

    Reply
  68. Hi Kate, Wonderful to find you here! (Thanks, Mary Jo, for arranging this interview.) I’m glad to read here that historicals and their reported demise a few years ago is a myth, at least at Kensington. I’ve heard the term “new kind of historical” bandied about in relation to what an author “has to do” in order to appeal to an editor in this tight market. “New kind” being the addition of some other fiction element such as paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, but there”must be” something different about the story. Do you have any thoughts to share about that? Thanks again for taking the time to be here! Garda

    Reply
  69. Hi Kate, Wonderful to find you here! (Thanks, Mary Jo, for arranging this interview.) I’m glad to read here that historicals and their reported demise a few years ago is a myth, at least at Kensington. I’ve heard the term “new kind of historical” bandied about in relation to what an author “has to do” in order to appeal to an editor in this tight market. “New kind” being the addition of some other fiction element such as paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, but there”must be” something different about the story. Do you have any thoughts to share about that? Thanks again for taking the time to be here! Garda

    Reply
  70. Hi Kate, Wonderful to find you here! (Thanks, Mary Jo, for arranging this interview.) I’m glad to read here that historicals and their reported demise a few years ago is a myth, at least at Kensington. I’ve heard the term “new kind of historical” bandied about in relation to what an author “has to do” in order to appeal to an editor in this tight market. “New kind” being the addition of some other fiction element such as paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, but there”must be” something different about the story. Do you have any thoughts to share about that? Thanks again for taking the time to be here! Garda

    Reply
  71. Garda,
    Every author has to bring more to the table but I am not familiar with nor have I ever used the term “new kind” of historical. The only thing that the manuscript “must be” is something I can’t get anywhere else and that’s all in the writing.
    Kate

    Reply
  72. Garda,
    Every author has to bring more to the table but I am not familiar with nor have I ever used the term “new kind” of historical. The only thing that the manuscript “must be” is something I can’t get anywhere else and that’s all in the writing.
    Kate

    Reply
  73. Garda,
    Every author has to bring more to the table but I am not familiar with nor have I ever used the term “new kind” of historical. The only thing that the manuscript “must be” is something I can’t get anywhere else and that’s all in the writing.
    Kate

    Reply
  74. Garda,
    Every author has to bring more to the table but I am not familiar with nor have I ever used the term “new kind” of historical. The only thing that the manuscript “must be” is something I can’t get anywhere else and that’s all in the writing.
    Kate

    Reply
  75. Garda,
    Every author has to bring more to the table but I am not familiar with nor have I ever used the term “new kind” of historical. The only thing that the manuscript “must be” is something I can’t get anywhere else and that’s all in the writing.
    Kate

    Reply

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