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  • Patricia Hollett

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An Interview with Emma Cunningham from Harlequin


Harlequin LogoToday, I’m interviewing Emma Cunningham who works at Harlequin as a Production Coordinator, Digital & Internet.

Welcome Emma, and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for my blog readers.

Based in Toronto, Harlequin, the company knows how to market romance and has been doing so for six decades, selling their books where women spent time, supermarkets, pharmacies, and later on bookstores. Mail order has been upgraded with eBook technologies, downloadable audio and mobile phone applications.

Can you tell us about your job? I know you love what you do, but exactly what does a Production Coordinator, Digital & Internet do?I help Jenny Bullough and Amy Wilkins run the ebook program here at Harlequin. I do a lot of the scheduling in our internal systems so that people can reference what comes out when, etc. I also spend a lot of time working with bloggers. I send out books for review, offer them special insider information, and am currently working on a blog tour for Robyn Carr later this month. I also do a lot of work with Carina Press authors. I create and send out Title Info sheets, which are single-sided pages that contain all the relevant information marketing and sales teams need to know about each title, from the back cover copy, to the release date, to the ISBN, to the cover artist, copyright information, all of that. I also send them their completed ebooks.

Is there anything you don’t like about your job?

There are never enough hours in the day!

Was Harlequin your first choice when you were job hunting after college and how did you end up there?

Yes, it was! I was interning at Playwrights Canada Press, but I knew I wanted to work at Harlequin because of how up-to-the-moment their digital team is. I’d done a little bit of freelance proofreading for them while I was still in school, so I e-mailed Amy, who was in charge of the proofreaders. I told her I wanted a job like hers, and asked if she’d let me take her out for coffee and pick her brain. I guess she must have liked me, because next thing I knew, I had a job!

What are your future goals? Are they with Harlequin? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d love to still be at Harlequin! I’m on contract right now, so all I can do is work hard and cross my fingers. Regardless of where I end up, I know I’ll stick to working with technology and ebooks. As soon as I got my eReader, I never looked back on print books again.

How do you see eBooks evolving in the next five years? Do you see any changes in the way they’re produced, marketed, or read?

Well, sure. Every technology updates over time. It wouldn’t be a very exciting industry if it didn’t! More and more companies will come out with enhanced ebooks with audio clips, video clips, all that fun stuff. I do hope that we won’t lose track of regular, text-only novels, though.

Harlequin has evolved tremendously over the past 60 years, because they’ve evolved with the times. Does Harlequin foresee changes to digital/paper books and are there any other technological changes projected for future consideration?

Harlequin will always be updating. That’s what makes it such an exciting place to work and why readers keep reading our material. We’re always trying to produce what they want to read, when they want to read it, selling it to them wherever they like to buy it, in whatever format they like to read it in. As those desires change, so will we.

Which is the fastest growing genre or market with eBooks?

Genre fiction seems to be doing well as a whole. Romance, fantasy, science fiction—plus all those niche genres like steampunk and space operas that never have quite enough dedicated space in the bookstores.

What do you see as the biggest advantage to eBooks?

Well, I’m a huge ebook junkie, so I could go on about this for months! I’m an avid reader and I finish books very quickly. I also commute via public transportation. There’s nothing I hate more than finishing a book halfway through my trip and having nothing to read for the remainder of the time. Having an eReader means that I have the next book on my list right there with me. I also love being able to read new releases without carrying around a giant, clunky hardcover novel that weighs more than I do.

Do you think there are any disadvantages to eBooks?

Ummm…uhh…well…cover art doesn’t display quite as nicely since most eReaders are still black and white? Honestly, that’s pretty minor. I have no complaints. I’ve never run out of battery, I don’t miss the smell of books (ew), and I’m thrilled to slowly be removing all the clutter of too many books off my living room and bedroom shelves.

Will the eBook world change enough for e-published authors to be considered authors period?

Harlequin has fully embraced and supports Carina Press, our digital-first imprint; so I guess you could say as far as we’re concerned, e-published authors are considered authors, period!

Harlequin has a well developed web-site of information and books, not to mention the blogs that are done by some of the staff. Is blogging on the website a requirement of your job?

No, but it’s fun! Most of those posts are ideas I brought to Olga Kwak, who runs the Harlequin Blog, and just said “Hey, can I do this?” My Twitter account is personal and although I do sometimes post Harlequin-related things, I don’t have to if I don’t want to. I frequently post about books from other publishers, too.

There are many different lines of books Harlequin currently produces. Are there any new or foreseeable markets that will be added in the future?

We’re actually coming out with a new line this year called Harlequin Heartwarming. These are reissues of books from other lines that are “tender” romance—that is, there’s no cursing or sex. Basically, we found that some readers wanted wholesome books like the Love Inspired series, but without the inspirational elements.

Which are your favorite ebooks?

I’m a big fan of paranormals, fantasy, and thrillers. Some of my top authors lately have included Julie Kagawa, Cindy Spencer Pape, and Pamela Callow. I do enjoy contemporary romances, too, like Shannon Stacey and Victoria Dahl.

I’m sure you’re more familiar with eReaders than most of us. Which one would you recommend and why?

There’s a lot of great eReaders out there. I can’t really make a generic recommendation like that without asking questions like “Where do you live?” and “Where do you buy your books?” and “Do you need wireless?” and “Do you like to price shop?” and all sorts of other questions. There’s no one-size-fits-all option. Everyone is going to be attracted to a different eReader based on how they like to shop and read.

Is there such a thing as a book signing for eBooks?

I actually just Tweeted about that recently! Someone has indeed come up with a way to sign ebooks. However, if you’re a really big fan of someone, you could always get them to sign your eReader and get it engraved, or have them sign your case.

Do you know how someone would start their own publishing business?

How exactly do publishing companies start?
I have never done this, so I have absolutely no idea.

A quick round to get to know Emma better.

Where were you born? Toronto.
College you attended? Centennial College, for a post-grad in Book & Magazine Publishing.
Do you get free books? Yes ma’am! That’s the best part of the job!
What is your favorite genre? Fantasy, thrillers, paranormals…don’t make me choose. 
Who are your favorite authors? Guy Gavriel Kay, Kelley Armstrong, Pamela Callow, Diana Gabaldon, Julie Kagawa, Shannon Stacey…so many…
Do you write stories? I used to. I try to do NaNoWriMo every year, although sometimes I fail depending on how busy I am.
What types of stories do you enjoy reading the most? Exciting ones!
Do you have pets? I do—one obnoxious Siamese cat, one sweet black-haired cat, and a very soft bunny.
Favorite hobby? I used to do trapeze until a few months ago! I’ll go back to it. I sing, too.
Favorite vacation spot? My dad’s family lives in Ireland, and I love to go visit them. But right now it’s cold and snowy, so if I’m going to be honest, I’m going to say “anywhere warm.”

Before we go, is there anything else about the eBook industry or publishing that you’d like to share with us?

I think you’ve covered everything. You definitely did your research

I’d like to thank Emma for taking her valuable time to provide us with some insight into the eBook business and her job at Harlequin. It sounds as if Emma’s job at Harlequin is not only exciting, fun, but also quite demanding. Harlequin’s website can be found at http://www.eharlequin.com. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you, and lots of fun doing this interview.

Thanks again Emma, and best wishes in all your future endeavors.

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22 Responses

  1. Great interview, guys!!

    Thanks for shedding light on ebooks and epublishing, quite informative:)

  2. Thank you so much Pat and Emma! What a wonderful interview!

    Loving your blog Pat!

    🙂 Lisa

  3. Thanks again for the interview, Pat! It’s always nice to be interviewed by someone who really takes the time to do research and think up insightful questions.

  4. What a great interview. Great questions and very interesting answers x

  5. LOL, great stuff within, full of chocolately goodness without the calories. LOL

  6. Fabulous interview… You covered two things I can never learn enough about: ereaders and Harlequin! Plus, Emma is the best! :0)

  7. Great comments Jaime! Thanks for reading and posting. Emma is pretty terrific! 🙂

  8. Awesome interview! I knew Emma did the Harlequin thing, but wondered what happened there. Sounds like an awesome job I once applied at Harlequin for a proof reading position, so I can especially feel the envy. 😉 (Though of course I didn’t have a proper background for it!)

    I was also pleased to see Guy Gavriel Kay on your favourite authors list – I feel like he just isn’t famous enough!

  9. Thanks, ladies! That was a fantastic interview, informative and fun.

    Pat, I love that you’re using board members to spotlight different sides of the industry. Keep them coming!

  10. Really great interview! I love Harlequin! I also love my ereader!

  11. An excellent interview, Pat! It’s always interesting to read what an insider has to say. Your questions were right on the button. And, I’m sure Emma is going to do very well in her career.

    Best,

    Diane

  12. Oh, nice to meet you and thanks for sharing all that great information.

    Julie

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