One of the best things about being a book blogger – aside from the chance to chat to some of my favourite authors – are the opportunities that you get.
This summer I was lucky enough to be given the chance to spend a day at the HarperImpulse offices in London.
HarperImpulse is a digital and POD (publish on demand) romance imprint from HarperCollins and their editor, Charlotte Ledger, was lovely enough to invite me to spend the day with her, so I could get a better idea of what it is that goes on behind the scenes in the romance publishing world.
All in all, it’s fairly busy in the offices. As HarperCollins (and therefore HarperImpulse) is owned by News Corp, this meant heading up to The News Building, opposite London Bridge, previously called the Baby Shard. It’s seventeen floors of sleek glass and publishing royalty, with the offices for newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and The Times, as well as HarperCollins and more recently Mills & Boon looking out of stunning views of the capital.
I was lucky enough to get my very own guided tour of HC’s offices, and boy are they a delight! Each conference meeting room is themed, with quotes from authors decorating the walls.
And below them, on the fourteenth floor are two of the most important things any office can have – a sprawling canteen with multiple food stations, and its very own bookshop!
My day was split between chatting with Charlotte about all the hard work that goes into creating a HarperImpulse book, shadowing her as she attended meetings, and getting involved with helping out with some of the day to day jobs!
As an imprint, HarperImpulse publishes varying subgenres of romance:
There’s huge variety of writing styles and there’s such a range of books that there’s something to suit every romantic inclination!
But creating a book – even after it’s been edited and written – still takes a huge amount of hard work.
Firstly, there’s the cover itself. There are so many books to buy, online and in shops, that a cover needs to be eye-catching and engaging, even if it’s on a webpage with thirty other books. HarperImpulse covers range from illustrated, (both hand-drawn sketch-style and outlined images) to using photos to illustrate characters and themes.
The next step after this, is to create the ebook itself. All HI books have two release dates – a digital released date and a POD release date. POD, or print on demand, means that books are printed according to orders made through websites, or requests from bookshops. But the book will always be released digitally first, and so it’s this ebook that needs to be created.
Charlotte showed me how to pull the publishing information, including all the metadata (the keywords attached to a book, that make it easier to search for on shopping websites) from the IT system that HarperCollins uses, so that it can be attached tho the ebook.
And then I got to have a go at updating an actual book! I did the title page and the acknowledgements page for Katherine Garbera’s Eye Candy – all under Charlotte’s watchful eye, of course!
After that, we looked at the cover and blurb for Linn B. Halton’s upcoming A Cottage in the Country. It’s partly a matter of proofreading, and also of making any changes that need doing. I worked with Charlotte on the blurb – cutting, pasting and tweaking it so it wasn’t too long, and yet didn’t lose the sense of the book itself.
Meetings-wise, there’s always plenty going on. I attended a meeting about deadlines, covers and release dates with Charlotte and the rest of the HarperFiction team, and I also got to tag along to a cover meeting about Michelle Betham’s upcoming Shirley Valentine Goes to Vegas.
But publishing isn’t all meetings, editing and creating the books themselves – Charlotte also oversees the HarperImpulse blog and updates their Twitter account.
I got to write a piece for the blog – an introductory “this is me” post as I’ll be writing a monthly piece going forward (look for my piece on Erin Lawless’ recent launch party later this week) – and even wrote some copy about Michelle Betham’s Striker series for a promotional giveaway for The Sun.
I suppose what I’ve taken away from the day is that being a romance editor is an all-encompassing job. Charlotte’s passion for her work, and her dedication (she was still working, long after I left at four thirty) is infectious, and you just know that her authors are in good hands.