Edith Layton: Word Wench, Mom & A True Lady


Update 6/26: A TRUE LADY is now available as an ebook


First, I'd like to thank the Wenches for inviting me to post during their anniversary celebration. I am continually impressed by how the Wenches not only endure, but continue to innovate, entertain, and open the circle to new authors and guests. 

Secondly, yes, that's a cover reveal just to the left of this copy, and no I didn't write it, but more on that in a moment… 

Third, well, I probably should introduce myself first, right? OK, here goes…

Dear Readers,

I'm Susie Felber. No, that is not a very romantic name, and that's exactly why my mother, Edith Felber, was persuaded by her publisher to take a pen name in 1983 for the publication of her first regency romance: The Duke's Wager.

Edith Layton a/k/a mom, went on to publish over 30 novels and many more short stories. She blogged with the Word Wenches for many years, and only stopped because… well, because she died.

I lurk and read the Wenches often, and admit I go back and read the beautiful post and comments Layton readers left here.

Of course I miss her. Mom was funny, smart, and would've bragged about me even if I was in prison. e.g. "The warden says Susie's license plates have a certain Je ne sais quoi."

But not only does her memory live on (think of her daily), but of course I have her books to enjoy (reading her books is like having her in the room with me), and Layton HQ is still going strong. Here's some news and updates:

529090211_8d24ac9ed9_bOn Mother's Day this year, my brother Adam (the famous NPR / Hollywood guy) and I appeared on Faith Salie's Audible podcast on an episode called When Mom Writes Romance. <– that's a link there, and it's fun. You can hear about how my father sent out her manuscripts under our German Shepherd's name when she got discouraged by rejections, and much more.

Backing up, two and a half years ago, I finally got it together to bring the Layton books that were out of print but in demand, back into the world as ebooks. As you can imagine, or know too well, this is hard work.

Read more

Special Order or Mass Market

B5f8  Pat Rice here:

Today, I’m cheating. Wench readers have sent several excellent questions lately, but none of them provide quite enough basis for me to write a whole blog and some of them touch on topics we’ve discussed in the past.  But combined, they present an interesting pattern of where reader thoughts are traveling, and I want to acknowledge that we read your questions, even if we can’t always answer them. Or I can’t, but perhaps another wench can in the future.

Jeanine Pellerin asks about relatively unknown authors.
Nina Paules would like to present readers with the world of e-publishing.
Jane Irish Nelson asks why illegitimate children have become a plot point for Regency romances lately.
And Joey Binard thinks today’s historical romances have been “dumbed down.”

The topics don’t sound related, do they?  But in fact, they are to some degree, and it’s all because of the publishing market and the economy and realllllly boring factors you probably don’t want to know BookStack about.

KISS answer:  Today’s mass market fiction must appeal to a very broad range of readers, which means eliminating any topic that doesn’t appeal to roughly 50% of the readership of that genre. Conversely, anything that DOES appeal to them, must be included.  Because of current market conditions, any book that doesn’t appeal to that middle-of-the-road readership ends up unknown or with an e-publisher. 

IE: If more illegitimate children are showing up as plot points, then apparently the majority of readers have voted with their dollars for illegitimate children. (That’s why Harlequin sold “secret baby” books for years—people bought them by the armload.)  If historical romance has been reduced to dialogue and sex, then that’s what the romance readership has demanded by shelling out their money for those kind of books.  It’s not as if there aren’t Money dozens of other books every month from which to choose, but the market follows the money.

The other readers, the ones who want all those different, quirky books, who want historical detail, who want to let their imaginations roam, have to scrounge around the outskirts of bookstores, hunting for books that aren’t on the drugstore or Walmart racks.  Now the question becomes, how do readers find the kind of niche book they want to read?

That’s the question I’m opening to our readers—How do you find the books you enjoy?  How can authors who write quirky or detailed, who write e-books, or who aren’t well known, reach the audience who wants their kind of books?  Hundreds of romance books are published each month.  How do you find new authors? Maybe we need to start a special order bookstore for the discriminating!

And how can authors reach readers like Joey who thinks new books are dumbed down and has resorted to pulling out old favorites instead of buying new? We’ll never show publishers that readers love intelligent books if no one buys them. Only bestsellers get attention. So, how do you find a good book if it’s not a bestseller?

And by all means, if you know an author or book that our readers might enjoy, include the name and title in your comment (just click one of the sign in links under “comment” below).  Our readers love to learn about authors new to them.

Mad_marias_daughter I'm adding a link to my "blind heroine" book, a very old Signet Regency that has just recently been reissued at www.RegencyReads.com. The original editor decided she was tired of ill and maimed protagonists and refused to accept a blind heroine, so I had to make her lame instead.  I've edited and edited to get rid of all the sensory description that made sense for a blind heroine but it's still hilarious.  But as the discussion in our comments indicates, this is another "middle of the road" decision!