Welcome to the blog, Rhonda!  As an editor for Carina Press, a traditionally published author and an indie author, I’m sure you have multiple (sometimes conflicting) views on publishing.  So, I’ve decided to interview each hat you wear individually.

Editor Rhonda:

How long have you been with Carina, and what is a typical day like?
–I’ve been with Carina Press for 2 years now. My typical day involves updating our Facebook/Twitter page with promo and the like, working on various rounds of edits for current authors, and squeezing in time to read new submissions. I love it!

What are you seeing in the submission pile nowadays?  What are you looking for and what makes you want to scream “Enough!”?
–Good question! I get a lot of erotic romance—the thing that makes me cringe the most with those subs is insta-lust, where the characters get overdramatic hots for each other. As far as what I’m looking for,  I just want a good story. I love romance, non-romance, futuristic, sci-fi, fantasy with a fun twist, historical, sexy, sweet…you name it. There’s very little I don’t enjoy reading and editing. 😀

Carina Press is the digital-first imprint of Harlequin.  What would be the benefit of going to Carina first, instead of a more traditional ebook simultaneous with the print book model?
FYI, my answers about Carina only represent my thoughts/feelings, not the company’s. Okay, just wanted to state that up front. Lol. This is a hard Q for me to answer because it really depends on your personal goals. But one of the awesome things about Carina is we are diversified. We have ebooks, audiobooks, even mass market books starting to come out now. Having the backing of Harlequin makes our epublishing company strong, yet because we’re our own imprint, we can diversify and take on edgy or unusual projects our parent company may not be able to. As many people know, ebooks are exploding in the market, and because we consistently offer quality stories for fair prices, readers keep coming back for more.

What can Carina do for an author that they can’t do on their own?
–Another hard Q because again, it depends on what our goal for being an author is and what type of author you mean—do you mean self-published author? Print published? E-published? Overall, having the backing of Harlequin yet the freedom to acquire what stories we fall in love with makes us strong and unique and diverse, which is appealing to readers of many genres. We have great distribution (including on our own site) in print, ebooks and audiobooks. We promote our authors and love developing author brands. Our covers are gorgeous. And our editors work hard and love what we do!

What would you like prospective authors to know about Carina Press?
–We don’t just publish romance or sexypants stories, lol. We just want good reads, so take a chance on us and send your best manuscripts!

Trad Pub Rhonda:

The Stupid Cupid trilogy has just been released as an omnibus – STRUCK.  Tell us a little bit about the trilogy:
–Wellllll, it’s about a girl named Felicity, who becomes a cupid for her high school. In my world, there’s more than one cupid in existence. She uses PDA technology to create her love matches via email, since bows and arrows are SO old-skool. Unfortunately, while she may get an E for effort, she’s not the best at her job. lol

Were you working as an editor when you sold STUPID CUPID to Simon & Schuster?  What was the road to publication like for STUPID CUPID?
–Not really—I’d taken a break from editing manuscripts at that time. As far as road to publication, I’d gotten my first agent with a manuscript and was writing Stupid Cupid to help distract me from the querying process. The agent sent it to Simon Pulse, and the editor said it would make a great trilogy (what I’d originally written became book 2 of the trilogy, Flirting With Disaster). So I took my 1-book idea and whipped it into 3. And the rest is history! 😀

How does the way you promote STUPID CUPID differ from the way you market your indie novel, SUPER ZERO
–I don’t know that it differs…I do the same things regardless of which story I’m promoting (blog tours, giveaways, Twitter/FB, etc). Adults read a lot of YA, and they buy a lot of YA, so I target whoever will listen to me. Haha

Do you think that the marketing done for your traditionally published titles has any impact on your indie sales?
— Oh, yes—my trad-pubbed material has reached a lot more people since it’s in bookstores. My hope is that they read and love my writing, and then find out via Amazon or my site that I have more books out.

What’s next for Trad Pub Rhonda?
–Well, I have a new manuscript I finished. Once revisions are done, my agent (Laurie McLean) and I are going to submit that sucka!

Indie Pub Rhonda:

Between a digital only publisher, a traditional publisher and going indie, what made you decide that the best route for SUPER ZERO was indie?
–Superheroes are a bit of a niche market. I knew this was going to be a tough sell to traditional publishers and had heard a number of times from editors that they just couldn’t sell it. So I decided to don my self-publishing hat and give it a whirl. I felt the story was strong enough for me to provide it directly to readers myself.

What does Indie Pub Rhonda wish she could do for SUPER ZERO that Trad Pub Rhonda was able to do for STUPID CUPID?  (Feel free to answer the question in reverse, too!)
–Ummmmmm, I pretty much do the same thing marketing-wise for all my writing. So I’m not really sure there’s something else I could do, to be honest. 😀

As someone who can spend hours refreshing KDP, I’m curious – which feels better, having the ability to see nearly real-time sales updates, or having a semi-annual/quarterly royalty statement?
–Actually, Simon and Schuster has an author portal to show you daily updates on your sales. So now I have TWO avenues to constantly refresh. Lol. I prefer knowing actual sales when they’re made, of course. I’m very lucky to have quick access via my self-pub novel and my traditionally published material. YAYYYYY.

What’s next for Indie Pub Rhonda?
— I have a short story coming out in a free YA anthology in the spring that’s being self-pubbed by a group of awesome authors. I’m excited about that!

Collective Rhonda:

What’s the best decision you ever made in regard to your books?  What’s the worst?
–Ohhhhh this is a hard question! The best decision—honestly? Getting an agent. My goal has been to be traditionally published (though naturally, that’s expanded given the awesome rise of self-publishing), and having an agent opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have been able to open myself. The worst decision—hmmmmm. I don’t know that I’ve made any awful decisions to date. I’ve given it all my best effort and continue to grow my craft. I think in the end, that’s all we can do, right? I do know I want to improve my marketing skills, so this is something I’ll continue to work on. 😀

Thanks again for stopping by Rhonda, and for giving us a look at all three of your writing hats!

Rhonda (Stapleton) Helms started writing a few years ago to appease the voices in her head. In the twelve minutes of free time she has each day, Rhonda enjoys reading, photography, writing poetry, buying shoes, singing in the shower, drinking chai tea, and playing on the Internet. Rhonda lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, two kids, three dogs and a very loud cat. Visit her author website at rhondastapleton.com or her editing website at rhondaedits.com.

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