People often say that writing is a solitary venture, and I can agree with that. There are times when I’ve been staring at my laptop, the white screen mocking me in its sheer lack of words, that I have felt utterly alone. On the other hand, I have found my traditional publishing career to be anything but lonely. Truly, it takes village to publish great books.
Having worked with so many talented professionals with Harlequin Enterprises since I sold my first manuscript in 2001 – people who massaged and polished my stories until they were the best they could be – I thought I had a good understanding of how many people were a part of my village.
During my visit and tour of the Harlequin headquarters in Toronto last week, I learned just how wrong I was.
Okay, I admit that the Harlequin staff might have dazzled me with their queen-for-a-day treatment, the champagne toast and that general Canadian niceness. Still, I couldn’t help being impressed by the sheer number of behind-the-scene individuals involved and the amazing amount of detailed work required in editing, laying out, printing, marketing and distributing a book with my name on the cover.
Even after the lovely tour with Lola Speranza, Director of Publishing Services, I cannot begin to tell you all of the steps required as a manuscript moves from contract to publication, but I will offer just a taste here as a way of honoring the many individuals who work in these offices every day with the goal of producing great books.
I had the chance to meet copy editors, proofreaders, those responsible for typesetting print novels, another group responsible for converting those files for e-books, some who made the brochures for book club sales and those who planned the cover and back-cover content or made sure it was perfectly aligned, that its colors were true and its text was clear. Among those was Shane Dobson, Manager of Production Art, who is the go-to guy for ensuring that a cover is perfect. (Yes, that’s my cover on his desk and on his monitor. )
Then there were those who market the books once they are printed and those who ensure that the books get into the hands of happy romance readers. Just one of my brief visits was with Farah Mullick, Marketing Director, but I have to admit that I already knew her. (We’ve bonded on the dance floor at a couple of Harlequin Parties…oh, and at some work stuff, too.) Throughout the tour, I was amazed to see all of the varied work these individuals do to produce books for readers and make sure readers know where to find them.
After the tour, I had the chance to sit down with my editor, Karen Reid, and Victoria Curran, senior editor of the Harlequin Superromance and Heartwarming lines, so we could discuss my next project. (Crossing fingers here.) That was especially cool as my daughter, Alexa, had come along for the tour and had the chance to join us for the meeting.
My gracious hosts topped off my visit with lunch with the whole Superromance and Heartwarming editorial staff. What a great day!
As much as I enjoyed the chance to be treated like a celebrity for a day, I really appreciate the new perspective I gained from this visit to the Harlequin offices. It was great to see so many people, who are completely invested in transforming wonderful relationship stories into high-quality books for readers to enjoy. Each job is crucial to the mission. Every details matters. It really does take a village to publish great books. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of my village.