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.