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Sourcebooks Expands to Romance Fiction

Editor Deb Werksman e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (October 2007)

Founded in 1987 by Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks has grown and flourished to stand as one of the leading independent publishers in North America. The company's first single release, Financial Sourcebooks Sources, was aimed at the professional banking community. After its success, Sourcebooks expanded into the women's market with titles like Finding Time and 500 Beauty Solutions. Twenty years later, the Sourcebooks catalogue boasts a range of categories that include education, entertainment, family, heath and wellness, history, humor, literature, sports, numerous college and career references, as well as holiday themed books, and a very successful calendar line. Sourcebooks also broke new ground with their MediaFusion imprint, which combines the written word with audio and visual technology.

Their Casablanca line dominates Valentine's Day displays with titles like 1001 Ways to Be Romantic, and the incredibly popular coupon series. After their celebration of all things Jane Austen in 2004, Sourcebooks decided to take that success story even further. This Fall they will begin releasing titles in all the romance sub-genres: paranormal, time travel, contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, erotica and of course, Regency. Their inaugural Fall 2007 romance fiction list includes a sexy time travel (Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake), a Regency with a very unusual heroine (No Regrets), Cotillion - a classic from the queen of the Regency romance, Georgette Heyer - and also Heyer's excellent historical, An Infamous Army. Spring of 2008 promises an even more impressive list of romance releases.

Editor Deb Werksman tells us more about the Sourcebooks success story, and in particular, their heightened focus on romance fiction.

Q: Sourcebooks' success is based mainly on non-fiction titles. Did the recent popularity of your Jane Austen series play a major role in the decision to expand into the romance fiction market?

A: Yes, it absolutely did. We realized that the Jane Austen sequels are really upscale romances, and we also realized at the same time that as the largest woman-owned independent press in the country, with the #1 non-fiction romance imprint, it made sense to bring romance fiction into the house.

Q: What makes a Sourcebooks romance different from the hundreds of other romance novels vying for shelf space each month?

A: Every book we publish, in whatever category, must have a reason for being published. So with our romance titles, we're looking for books that have something unusual, like No Regrets, where the heroine is voluptuous and wears glasses. We're always looking for a strong hook that will appeal to readers and that will make the books stand out.

Q: Paranormals are currently very hot - does your market research see the trend continuing - or is there change in the wind?

A: It looks to me as though paranormals are going to stay hot for a while, but it gets harder and harder for new authors to break out, especially if it's just another vampire story. So authors in this sub-genre have to find something new and different, and it's essential that a world be created. We're incredibly excited about our debut of The Cat Star Chronicles. The first book is titled Slave, and the hero is possibly the last of his kind from a destroyed planet where the people have a feline gene. This makes him gorgeous, sensuous, and he has some VERY interesting equipment! I can honestly say I'd never read anything like this!

That said, I do think paranormal is eventually going to get over-published and readers are going to take a break and turn to other sub-genres. Romantic suspense is hot now, too, and I think that's going to continue. Historical seems to be a staple, and it's just about time for contemporary to start cycling up again!

Q: What other romance sub-genres have readers talking and editors searching for authors to fill demand?

A: I'm thinking about our list almost like a stock portfolio, and by Fall 2008 it will be well balanced across all the sub-genres. I don't think anyone can predict where demand is going to go, but when a book has a strong hook, readers will pick it up.

Q: No Regrets, Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake and Georgette Heyer re-issues are available to readers this fall - why did you choose these titles to kick off Sourcebooks' romance fiction list?

A: We chose No Regrets because of how unusual the heroine is - she's plus sized and she wears glasses and she has an internal dialog about herself that is what EVERY woman today has. And to have a hero who just adores that type of body, and finds her irresistible, seemed to me to be what every woman wants and deserves.

Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake is an incredibly fun to read time travel, and readers who love historical can relate to the fantasy of returning to that time, but with all of our modern mores in place. It makes for a really interesting premise.

Finally, Georgette Heyer's readers have been underserved for a long time. We're thrilled to be offering beautiful trade paper editions of books that haven't been available for years.

Q: Do you believe Heyer's stories will have the same impact with today's romance readers as they did when first released?

A: Heyer's books will always have impact - they are so well written, and her explorations into human nature are right on the money. People say she's what Jane Austen would have been, had Jane lived long enough to have that kind of output. I think the new editions we're doing will attract new readers as well as appealing to people who love her work and haven't been able to get these books for a long time.

Q: How many romances is Sourcebooks releasing in 2008 - and can you give us a sampling of some of your upcoming titles?

A: We'll have 30 titles in 2008, and I expect the list to keep growing. Next spring we'll have a feisty witch and drop-dead gorgeous vampire couple in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, a werewolf from the Scottish Highlands in Call of the Highland Moon, and a Navy SEAL hero in SEALed with a Kiss, plus Heart of the Wolf, which is a fascinating werewolf romance that is deeply based in how wolves actually behave in nature, so it's an intriguing mix of nature and fantasy.

And next fall we'll have a great macho hero who turns out to be the nurturing one in the relationship in Romeo, Romeo by debut author Robin Kaye, plus romantic suspense, some poignant contemporaries, and more historicals.

Q: Will Sourcebooks be publishing more young adult titles - and in particular, stories for girls - some of whom will certainly make up the next generation of romance readers?

A: We're looking at YA fiction and will probably introduce that in 2009.

Q: As technologies become increasingly user friendly and affordable, more readers are turning to e-books as a reading alternative. Will Sourcebooks follow other publishers' lead and offer the option of purchasing e-books rather than print books?

A: All of our romance fiction will be available in e-book formats for readers who prefer those formats.
Learn more about all of Sourcebooks' offerings and their bestsellers at their website, Sourcebooks, Inc..
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