Guest Author: Cheryl Bolen And The Return of the Sweet Regency

I’m so pleased to have historical romance author Cheryl Bolen guest-blogging with us today.  Cheryl’s first book was published 1998, and she’s been writing wonderful, award-winning Regency romances ever since.  Remember all those great traditional Regencies we used to love to read but publishers decided they didn’t like to publish?  Well, Cheryl is here to tell us what happened to them.

Take it away, Cheryl!

Sweet Regencies Return

The axiom that everything in publishing is cyclical has never been more evident than in the recent proliferation of “traditional” Regency romances sitting at the top of ebook bestseller lists.

When I joined Romance Writers of America in 1993, almost every romance publishing house was looking to acquire Regency romances. The two most successful of these houses were the Signet Regencies and the Zebra Regencies published by Kensington. These books were fairly short, comparable in size to the old category romance line of Harlequin Romance and just as sweet as that line.

During the 1990s especially, the book clubs at these publishing houses had a large list of subscribers for these Regencies.

Unfortunately for the authors of the books, the advances publishers paid were low—hence, the need to keep luring new authors.

It was also during the 1990s that the success of the longer, sexier Regency historical exploded, and many authors—like still-perennial bestseller Mary Balogh, who started her career writing wonderful Signet Regencies—jumped ship. Others like Mary Jo Putney and Candice Hern followed.

As the reader’s taste for the juicier, meatier book increased, sales of the sweet Regencies decreased. One by one, the publishers, such as Fawcett, started dropping their Regency line. Signet and Zebra Regencies limped into the new millennium, determined to keep their lines viable. Around 2004, both houses—by then suffering diminished print runs—revamped their covers in an effort to look less old-timey. In 2005 Zebra produced some dynamic covers for its Regency imprint (check Victoria Hinshaw’s Ask Jane), but it was not enough to overcome lagging sales. By the next year, no mass market paperback Regencies were being published.

What a difference seven more years made. By 2011, many, many readers who could no longer purchase their sweet Regency love stories in bookstores turned to reading devices like Kindle, Nook, and I-Pad and started downloading ebook reissues of out-of-print Regency romances. Former Signet authors Candice Hern and Elena Greene and former Zebra authors Shannon Donnelly and Mary Kingsley had multiple number one bestsellers in the Amazon Kindle Store in historical romance.

Many other “sweet” Regency originals made it to number one on Amazon, including my own The Earl’s Bargain, Christmas at Farley Manor, and His Lordship’s Vow. (I had published steamier Regencies in mass market paperback, but I like the sweeter stories just as well.)

Former Zebra author (and Rita winner) Alicia Rasley is now bringing back all her Regencies, and many more, like Hinshaw, are making plans to reissue theirs. (Sometimes getting back an author’s rights from the publisher can be an arduous process. And when we do get them, we don’t own the original covers.)

The beauty of ebooks is that there’s no competition for shelf space; therefore, there is room for books to suit all reading tastes. And those tastes seem to have come full circle over the last two decades.

Cheryl Bolen in the award-winning, bestselling author of both sweet and sexy Regencies. Her July release is Book 2 in her romantic, light-hearted Regent Mysteries series. Titled A Most Discreet Inquiry, it could be described as “sweet.”

Vanessa, here.  Cheryl, thanks so much for being with us today.  And I’d like to encourage readers to stop by your website for details on all your books, including buy links and excerpts.

News Flash!  Cheryl is giving away a copy of one of her books.  Just leave a comment for a chance it win a copy of One Golden Ring, which won the prestigious Holt Medallion.  

22 thoughts on “Guest Author: Cheryl Bolen And The Return of the Sweet Regency

  1. Oh my gosh, I loved the sweet regency. That’s when I fell in love with the regency period. That’s a shame they snuff those books. I have notice they have been making a come back in ebooks.

  2. That was a very interesting interview thank you so much Cheryl. I came into reading very late in my life so I had know idea that publishers had done anything like that. I love regency romance, well I love all romance books. I look forward to reading your books.

  3. I’m so glad the traditional Regencies are making a comeback. I’ve always loved them, and that’s what I started with when I wrote my first books. I even finaled with one in the Golden Heart contest, long ago. But then the market disappeared.

    I’ve been writing the sexier ones, as well as contemps, but I love knowing I can self-pub the traaditional ones sometime too. 🙂

  4. Thanks to all of you for your comments. Donna, making the finals in the Golden Heart is an awesome accomplishment.

    So glad those of you visiting Vanessa’s site also enjoy the Georgette Heyer-style Regencies.

    By the way, I will be giving away an autographed copy of my (sexy) ONE GOLDEN RING, which won the Holt Medallion as Best Historical back in 2006. It’s now out of print.

  5. I’m thrilled sweet Regencies are getting a come back–not only because my backlist is starting to be available to readers but because I’m actually getting to do a new Regency for Signet, DUTIFUL WIFE, which is already available for pre-orders. Ebooks are giving us as writers and readers a chance to find more of the stories we love.

  6. Thanks for mentioning me, Cheryl and Vanessa. I am working on a short story, Saving Captain Fenton, to release with my first two sweet regencies, The Fontainebleau Fan and The Eligible Miss Elliott. I can’t wait. I am so glad to see many of the best authors back and on my e-reader!! Hurrah!

  7. Just FYI too, Musa Publishing has a division called Aurora where only ‘traditional’ sweet Regencies are published. If they are hotter they go under their general historical. A good idea I think, knowing what you’re getting.

  8. Hi Vanessa and Cheryl!

    My first “sweet” Regency was by Mary Balough and I must admit I fell in love all over again!

    I love the Regency books written today but must admit that I still need my “fix” of a “sweet” Regency as well!

    I think that one reason I enjoy them is that the first romance I read was Don Quixote by Cervantes and there is just something about the earlier Regency sweet romances that brings me back to an earlier time in my life!

  9. I have a shelf full of sweet regencies. Some are Zebra and some Signet I believe. Also have about 20 in my TBR box that I picked up for a nickel at library used book sale

  10. Thanks so much for the mention, but I never really thought I’d written “sweet” Regencies (or traditional ones for that matter). My goal was always to just write great characters with a strong Regency setting. (And to put in the sex if it was relevant to the plot — which I did if the story needed it.) I’ve always admired writers who could work within a format but make that format into something fresh.

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