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ARRC2015: eXtasy Books, platinum sponsor

6 March 2015

ExtasybooksPanicking publisher and word count blues …

I’m a publisher, not a journalist! So, when I was asked to write a blog piece of between 500 and 1,000 words I began to feel like one of my authors—a bit panicky by the looming deadline and word count preference. So, here goes …

I’m Tina Haveman, owner of eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies Publishing. Once again, I’m proud to be a sponsor for this year’s AARC and looking forward to meeting up with everyone. Down under holds many fond memories! For those who haven’t met me yet, drop by the table and meet me and other authors. We won’t bite. I am Australian and I have an accent which is a blend because I’ve lived in other countries as well and in Canada for the last forty years. I live and work from Garibaldi Highlands, near Vancouver.

That’s me out of the way. On to you. Most authors ask me what sells. What am I hoping to find when looking at submissions from new authors? Apart from the ‘taboo’ and writing guidelines which tell you what I do NOT want, I seek stories that are character-driven and emotionally-charged—characters and stories that a reader can’t resist. It’s all about writing with emotion, with passion; and I really want well-crafted books, where the author knows language and how to play with it, to bring their own voice to the page.

The ‘P’ word. I need authors to take responsibility for their promotion. My company spends a lot of money on its websites, on promotion in magazines, and online, but there’s nothing more powerful than an author who engages readers through social media, and other promotional tools. Word of mouth recommendations still rate highly with readers looking for that next un-put-down-able-book. eXtasy books and Devine Destinies have two newsletter mailouts per month for its new releases. Apart from digital and print, the company is also looking at audio books for is best-selling titles.

The company also has reader and author lists. eXtasy and Devine authors will happily help new authors discover their ‘author legs’. The Editor-in-Chief and I are always available to answer questions. We pride ourselves on our accessibility to help our authors—either via email or on the phone. It’s not called the ‘eXtasy family’ for nothing.

We must be doing something right, because many of the company’s authors have been with us for years. Astrid Cooper, one of my Aussie authors, has been with the company since the early years. I now have approximately 20 Australian authors.

To satisfy our growing reader demand, eXtasy and Devine release 15–20 titles twice a month. And while trends have come and gone, vampires and paranormal heroes remain the most popular. Readers can’t get enough of fur, tail, skin or feathered heroes. ‘Vampires have had their day!’—I hear this often. Not according to my readers, because a dark, dangerous guy with fangs has universal appeal, as do ‘alpha males’ and the ‘wounded hero’. Heroes and heroines love to tame the savage beast and prove that love conquers all. In a world that too often focuses on tragedy, the books I love and which the company produces show that love can overcome every obstacle and all endings are happy. Romance makes the world go round—even if that world is in another galaxy, far, far away.

What does a reader NOT like? Books with cliff hangers. Readers want the whole story in ONE volume. Series are okay, if each book contains an entire story: a beginning and ending. Characters can overlap in books, but each book has to be stand alone. My best-selling authors regularly get reader mail asking that they never ‘kill off a favourite character’. Again, this proves that the book/character has so engaged the reader that they see them as ‘friends’. To kill off a main character is upsetting to us all. The same can’t be said for some other genre authors who seem to take great delight in killing of their ‘darlings’. <g> (I name no names).

As an artist in my own right, I understand the importance of getting that cover ‘right’. The company’s artists work closely with the authors to perfect the cover, but sometimes what the author envisages doesn’t work, due to the nature of digital publishing. For example, an over busy cover detracts from the effect. We all look at covers as a hook. If there’s too much detail then the main theme gets confused. And when some readers are accessing their books on a phone, that small screen doesn’t allow for an involved cover. Keeping it simple is best.

The company’s books are available at a number of third party sellers, including Amazon, and at eXtasy and Devine readers can maintain a digital bookshelf, so their books are kept safe in case the reader’s hardware fails.

But I want to read a book in print … We do Print on Demand for our best-selling authors, and for special occasions, such as author conference appearances. Isn’t postage expensive for an Australian author/reader? It used to be, but now we have a printer in Australia, so Australian authors (and readers) can order print editions without the added expense of overseas postage.

The company has come such a long way in 12 years. Would I have done anything differently? Possibly, but no matter the future, eXtasy and Devine will continue to produce quality books and give its authors the very best deal it can. Together, our loyal readers, authors and company staff make a winning team.

Please drop by the eXtasy and Devine table and say hi to me and our authors.

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