by Maria C. Ferrer
If you know me, you know my alter ego Del Carmen writes erotica, and when she saw the announcement last December that Cosmopolitan and Harlequin were jumping into bed together she almost had an orgasm! Del Carmen sold a short story to Cosmopolitan for Latinas last year. Now, here is a new writing opportunity, and one that could kill two birds with one stone…for both of us.
Harlequin, one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, and Cosmopolitan, the world’s largest women’s magazine, have formed a book publishing partnership to bring Cosmopolitan’s fun, fearless female sensibility to fiction readers everywhere. Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin will present independent, adventurous women in contemporary settings and feature fast-paced plots, great dialogue and compelling romance.
Below is my interview with Malle Vallik, Editorial Director of Harlequin’s Digital Editorial Initiatives, who heads this new line.
Q: How do you plan to marry “Happily Ever After” and “Happy Right Now”?
A: Great question! Most of our heroines will be in their twenties so I think Happy Right Now may lead to Happily Ever After. While I am a fan of the happily ever after story and read them all the time, I think these shorter (30,000) word stories featuring women living and loving and figuring out their lives and how to achieve the happily ever after can mean finding the great guy who may be the forever guy, but these books can also include plot lines where she realizes she is better off kicking him to the curb and considering his friend who didn’t lie or isn’t afraid of commitment. These stories will be truly current romances. Cosmo readers and romance novel readers will enjoy the HEA, but I believe they will also be more than accepting of the heroine having a slightly untraditional HEA.
Q: Who went to whom? Did Harlequin think of the new line or did Cosmopolitan magazine?
A: Kate White, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmo called us. Cosmo had had success with their anthology, COSMO’S SEXIEST STORIES EVER, and wanted to reach out to a partner that knew romance books and digital publishing. The choice of Harlequin was obvious. We were naturally thrilled as the marriage of these two brands is such a natural fit. This is not a marriage of convenience but more love at first sight!
Q: With editorial residing with Harlequin? What will be Cosmopolitan’s role with the new line?
A: Cosmopolitan is working closely with us on the editorial positioning, reviewing acquisitions, collaborating on packaging and marketing. It is a real partnership.
Q: Who will be the editor of this new line? Where can a writer send her submission? What is the turnaround time to getting a response?
A: I am in charge of the editorial development of Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin. However, I am lucky enough to have many editors from all of our offices work on the program! If you are a Harlequin author, you can submit to your editor directly. Other writers should send their material to harlequin.com/harlequincosmo.
Q: What kind of stories are you looking for? Is this new line sort of like chick lit with a happy ending or erotica with a happily ever after?
A: These are sexy, contemporary romances featuring a heroine you can recognize from the Cosmo brand: fun, fearless female. They are different from chick lit in that you most likely would want to be friends with this woman; she is more satisfied with her life, career and friends; she is not desperate to get married. However there are many elements in chick lit I do admire: humor, sparkling voice, 1st person, contemporary voice. The stories should be sexy, very sexy. The sex needs to be true to the stories and characters. The stories may veer to erotic romance if that is what the characters demand. Perhaps the easiest way to showcase what we are looking for is to provide synopses of some of our early acquisitions:
CAKE (tentative title) by Lauren Dane (Cosmo)
Wren Davis is a legal messenger. It’s what she does to pay the bills while she finishes art school. She’s smart, strong, vibrant and independent. And she knows her worth. She’s been raised by her mother to always pursue what she wants, and so she does. She also helps her cousin out from time to time. Her cousin who is the personal assistant to Gregori Ivanov. Gregori emigrated to the US when he was six, along with his parents. He grew up pretty poor, but he is now a very successful artist. On top of that, he’s a celebrity with a certain level of notoriety as a wild man. He’s got a Mohawk, tattoos and a penchant for cigarettes, alcohol and partying. And he loves women like cake. Gregori has a hands-off policy when it comes to employees, but the attraction is soon too hot to resist, and an encounter ends with hot, fierce, against-the-wall sex. Unnerved by their connection, Gregori uses distance to try to rebuild his walls, running to New York on business. But Wren is having none of it. She finds him in New York, and they spend a week alone together breaking down all his silly walls once and for all.
MAKING IT (tentative title) by Tawny Weber
It’s the ultimate makeover story. Gia Renyard has it together – job, apartment, friends – but she’s never had “that” sex story. Her gal pals come up with plan over chocolatinis – the guy is a coworker, Luke Monroe and she’s going to make her move in Vegas after having the ultimate makeover. Gia is going to turn herself into her own fantasy seductress and have Luke. Their weekend is hot, wild and purely sexual fantasy as they take in the delights of each other and Vegas itself. It’s another world, and Gia loves every second of it. What she isn’t prepared for, though, is getting to know Luke. Finding out what kind of guy he is beneath all that perfection is a shock. He’s not only her perfect fantasy guy, with sexual moves that have given her the best memory of her life, he’s perfect for her. The more she finds they have in common, the more worried she becomes that it’ll be impossible to walk away from the fantasy once she’s back in reality. Gia’s so worried, she cuts out early. At work, back as her usual self, she is promoted and her new boss-- Luke. He recognizes her and is annoyed she ran out on him, but also realizes that she is what has been missing from his life. So he sets out to turn the tables on his seductress.
NEED TO KNOW (tentative title) by Helen Kay Dimon
Jordan McAdam is the owner of the anonymous Need To Know website. Women pay a membership fee for access then rate their dates and relationships with the rich and powerful men in town in every category from the quickness with which they pick up a dinner check to their playbook for getting a woman's panties off. Everyone wins. Well, the women win. The men get pissed off. Everything runs smoothly on Jordan's end until she steps right in Forest Redder's path. He wields a lot of power in a town full of very powerful men. And she can't gather one nasty tidbit about him. Going undercover in his office seems like a good idea until her temp boss calls her into the big corner office for a chat. Mr. Tall, Dark and Oh-So-Delicious asks some strange questions and shoots her a troublesome assessing stare. Forest has a friend who’s been burned by an anonymous website, and he’s 99% sure Jordan is behind it. The cat-and-mouse game begins with harmless flirting and moves to dating. Forest is charming and smart and…he knows. She knows he knows. Worse, she knows he knows and is pretty sure he knows she knows. And if that didn't kill a woman's dating life, nothing did.
Q: Can new unpublished authors submit?
A: Yes. Again, unpublished authors should read the guidelines at harlequin.com/harlequincosmo and submit to the inbox on that page.
Q: How many books do you plan to publish per month?
A: We will start with two books a month. They will be published digital first, but we do have print plans and are working on overseas digital and print plans now.
Q: Will this line be like a regular Harlequin series line? Numbered? Translated and sold overseas?
A: The books will be translated and available overseas. Because this is a series we will most likely number the titles, but we have not yet discussed this.
Q: Will these books be serialized in Cosmo magazine?
A: Some of the books may be serialized in Cosmo. We are making these decisions on a case by case basis. Cosmopolitan is putting a lot of marketing muscle behind this new program!
Congratulations to Harlequin, Cosmopolitan, Malle and Sylvia. My alter ego, Del Carmen, and I are celebrating the Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin launch in New York City with some appletinis. Join us!♥
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maria C. Ferrer is the President of RWA/NYC. She writes contemporary romances under her real name, and erotica under her pseudonym, Del Carmen. Her work has been published by Cleis Press and Ravenous Romance, as well as Star, Penthouse and Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazines. Visit her at www.marializaferrer.blogspot.com and www.mydelcarmen.com. This article was first published in RWA/NYC’s newsletter in April 2013.