What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
This is a common question and one that always feels unpredictable! By the time current acquisitions are out on the shelves in mass-market paperback, sales trends will have shifted. What always seems to stand out in category romance is a distinctive author voice, a story where the chemistry between the main characters sparks right away and where the emotional conflicts really push the reader to the last page. That said, I do follow reader responses to what’s out in the marketplace for Harlequin Desire right now, and in addition to the above elements, readers seem to be craving stories with a little more to the narrative than just boy meets girl. They like a world they can come back to again and again. In Harlequin Desire, we see readers responding to the world of our Texas Cattleman’s Club series, which launched this year with The Rancher’s Baby by Maisey Yates. And readers have loved the Westmoreland family and friends for years; Brenda Jackson is revisiting her beloved characters in An Honorable Seduction.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Harlequin Desire is relaunching this summer with a sexier, edgier feel than we’ve had in the past. We’re publishing stories with high-octane conflicts, huge emotion, and secondary characters that have complex interior lives. We’re aiming to create bingeworthy, addictive, dramatic romance for our readers! I would love to see stories that can pack all of that into a fast-paced, sexy story with a short word count. I am especially looking for romances with high-concept, “juicy” plot twists that will surprise voracious readers like those who love category romance.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I have seen some very dark romances cross my desk, those where the antihero is coercive or violent in getting his way. For Harlequin Desire, our alpha hero may be confident and strong, but he’s got a heart of gold too. I’m not interested in romances that are not between two consenting adults.
Have you worked with self-published authors?
Yes, I have worked with self-published authors, gladly! Many of Harlequin Desire’s most successful authors are considered hybrid authors. They publish multiple books a year with us and other traditional publishers and also self-publish other work.
What do you want to change about publishing?
I want to see category romance and the publishing industry reflect the world we live in, from the authors actively writing for our lines to the teams ushering the books into the market to the stories themselves. Some exciting new voices in 2019, like Reese Ryan and Naima Simone, are helping us move in this direction.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Category romance is quite different from the traditional trade publishing model, and it can be an exciting career opportunity for writers! Instead of capitalizing only on author brands, the strength of the category space is the distinctive brand promise for each line. Readers can trust each line to deliver a certain type of reading experience every month, whether they are in the mood for thrilling romantic suspense or passion and drama. Because our readers shop by category brand, as well as by author and theme, new writers can automatically tap into a loyal readership from Book 1. With simultaneous publication in North America, the U.K., and Australia in print and digital formats as well as the potential for overseas pickup in more than 14 international offices, category romance writers can reach a very wide audience, even with their debut books. Our writers and their novels reach readers where they are, wherever they are.
Stacy Boyd is senior editor of Harlequin Desire, a Harlequin category romance line known for its high emotion, sensual tension, and soap-opera plots. Before focusing on short contemporary romance, Stacy acquired and edited a wide variety of fiction, including romance, suspense, fantasy, and YA. She is a past winner of the PASIC Editor of Merit award and currently works with an amazing group of award-winning and bestselling authors. Stacy holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology from New College, the honors college of Florida, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. In addition to staying outside as much as possible, she spends her free time running after kids and volunteering in her neighborhood. Stacy is looking to acquire compelling author voices and sensual soap-opera plots for Desire. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/stacyboydbooks.