- by Vonna Harper
An interview with Avon Senior Director of Publicity, Paperbacks Pamela Spengler-Jeffee and Executive Editor Carrie Feron:
1. Plans are to release a new Avon Impulse title each week. Does that mean you’ll be acquiring more titles than in the past or will some of Avon’s traditionally-published books move over to Impulse?
Probably both. Publishing is always an evolving situation. We’re seeing Avon authors wanting to publish original works – sometimes shorter works– under the Impulse imprint. We’re expecting some flow between lists. As the retail market continues to evolve, and e-books increase in popularity, it’s a great time to experiment with flexible platforms.
2. How long has Impulse been a goal and have you been watching particular publishers (obviously I’m thinking about Harlequin’s Carina) during the planning process?
We’ve been strategizing the launch of Avon Impulse for more than a year now. It was a natural progression for Avon, as we talk about changes to the book market on a daily basis. Yes, we’ve looked at trends within the publishing industry, but we’ve been paying attention to the bigger picture. The demand for digital content has revolutionized the film and music industry; and there’s a sea change in how people are getting their content now.
3. How are you planning to get the word out to readers?
Since we launched Impulse, we’ve seen a marked increase in visitors to our website – people are really checking out the Impulse tab. Not only do we want to expand that, to give Impulse titles and authors a greater spotlight, but we are getting great publicity for the line, we’re already receiving positive reviews – and we plan to keep reaching out to media. We’ll be marketing and advertising on the sites that romance readers frequent, and using our social media platforms to generate more buzz and excitement. We’ve got such great early support from the romance blogs as well. The enthusiasm is infectious! Coffee Time Romance is embarking on a bit of pirate mania with us (in a sweeps to support Katharine Ashe’s A LADY’S WISH) and All About Romance is helping us host a contest where readers can win Kate & Will Royal Wedding memorabilia as a way to get readers excited for the ROYAL WEDDINGS anthology by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase.
4 The first question in the mission statement says “…and be first in delivering exactly what readers want to read.” That begs the question of how that’s going to be accomplished. Through reader surveys, by quickly responding to strong sales’ performances of particular titles?
All of the above! We are getting such innovative submissions; our authors and editors definitely are keeping an eye on hot new themes, and we are looking at a variety of ways to interact directly with readers to find out what they love to read. But don’t make us give away all of our secrets…
5. DRM protection is a hot button. Many epublishers have decided to forego the protection because it can be easily circumvented (or so I hear). Because the titles will be available via all the e-tailer to all portable reading devices, do you foresee any problems?
HarperCollins’ corporate policy is to put DRM protection on all of our e-books. We’re an author-service focused house, and we are attentive to the requests that our authors and their agents make of us. For our authors, DRM is a very important issue. It would be interesting if you were to survey Novelists, Inc. member authors and get them to share their feelings about digital rights management.
6. Royalties are 25% up to 10,000 titles. Is that gross, net, based on cover price, what?
Our royalties are 25% net on 10,000 copies downloaded, then it increases to 50%. Avon Impulse titles are e-books, so it’s all net. “Gross” indicates number of books printed; “Net” is the number of books sold through. So…in the e-book landscape – it’s all net. Every e-book sold counts toward the royalty.
7. Looking at the types of submissions Impulse is interested in, am I right to assume that they’ll all have romance at the core?
Absolutely…for now! We’re starting with romance, as that is the heart of Avon. But as the imprint grows, we’ll look to expand into other related genres (ie mysteries, etc.).
8. Regarding the five-step marketing program, is there a bible to go with it? (I’m asking because promotion, use of social media, etc is a crap shoot. Boy do I know. We writers are willing to promote but it needs to be effective. )
We just released our first title on 3/15/11, A LADY’S WISH by Katharine Ashe; followed by ROYAL WEDDINGS (Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley, Loretta Chase) on 4/5/11. We have e-book original novellas by Karina Cooper and Lavinia Kent planned for May and June. By July, we’ll have accumulated enough practical knowledge, based upon our marketing outreach for these titles, to discuss best practices with authors and agents. The elements are: Cross Promotion; Digital Marketing; Digital Publicity; Interactive Assets and Author Coaching. But I can’t say that our marketing program will be hard-bound, like a bible. We expect our methods to evolve and grow with the marketplace, so we can always best serve our authors. (Come to the Spotlight on Avon at the RWA national conference – we’ll share with you there!)
9. When does Impulse launch?
Avon Impulse launched with A LADY’S WISH on March 15, 2011. By July 2011, we expect to be publishing one title per week, as previously discussed.