STATUS: It was 5 degrees walking to the office this morning. Can somebody remind me why I live in Denver and not San Diego?
What’s playing on the iPod right now? CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS by Run DMC
When I was in Arizona over the Thanksgiving break, I gave a talk to a group of writers. One of the participants asked me about the new line over at St. Martin’s Press and did I know how much sex was going to be allowed in the romance for that line targeting older teens and twenty-somethings.
I didn’t have an answer as I had only just seen the press release and didn’t know much else about it.
But now I do. When I was in New York, I had a chance to meet up with Dan Weiss (who is heading up this new line) and his assistant S. Jae-Jones (known as JJ). I can now answer this question.
First off, you need to know who Dan is. I know he’s not going to take offense at my highlighting that he has been around the publishing block a time or two. You either love Dan for bringing you the Sweet Valley High books back in the early 1980s or your loath him for being responsible for that series. Grin.
Dan was the owner of 17 Street Productions book packaging—a company he sold to Alloy Entertainment several years ago. (Note: Alloy Entertainment is the packager responsible for bringing you the Gossip Girls and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants among other things.)
So what I’m saying is that Dan has been in the biz for a good long time and he particularly knows publishing for young people. So when he decides to start a new line to deliberately target older teens and twenty-somethings, he knows a thing or two about it. JJ is his assistant. Being a smart, twenty-something who knows her way around the internet and how this target audience uses this medium, she and Dan make a good team.
But back to the original Arizona question that started this entry. How much sex is going to be allowed in the romance?
Well, this new line at SMP is not a romance imprint per se—which is what I think that participant thought it might be. They are more a line for publishing smart, upmarket fiction for this target audience where sex and relationships are simply part of the question. In other words, it’s not so much about the happily-ever-after, which is the focus for a romance, nor is it about the sex—explicit or otherwise. It’s more about the story that will speak to older teens and twenty-somethings. Think Emily Giffin’s SOMETHING BORROWED, Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP, Nick Hornby’s SLAM, and even GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING in some respects.
Now the biggest issue for this new line, and we discussed this, is where the books will be shelved. Considering that there are numerous books that cross-over, it would be an issue easily solved if Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Independent Bookstores could shelve a copy of the book in two different places. Alas, they don’t do that. Right now, the system is set up so a publisher is forced to choose where to shelve it.
If this line is targeting older teens and twenty-somethings, you can see the potential problem—where to put these books so they can be found by the target audience. Does it go in the teen section or in the general fiction?
For the above examples, all of them were shelved in general fiction. Did older teens find the above books? The goal of this new SMP line is to make sure they do for the books they decide to take on. They also want to do creative things with the electronic book.
All in all, an interesting proposition for them to specifically go after this niche.