02-23-19 – Best Selling Author and RTG Alumni: Christy Carlyle

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reinvent! Celebrate the New You!

By: Marcia King-Gamble

Happy, happy anniversary my fellow Generistas, and a huge shout out to our Blog Queens with the mostest; Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee! You and our international readership have kept this blog going.  It’s been six impressive years. You’ve changed direction on a dime, keeping topics fresh and relevant. 

Join us on Tuesdays in the month of May at 9.00m PM EST to hear how the following authors and publisher reinvented themselves:

May 9th  Author Michelle Monkou
May 16    Vice President Editorial, Dianne Moggy Harper Collins
May 23 Historical Author Alyssa Maxwell
May 30  Author ML Buchman


Congratulations and Happy Birthday to us!  

In keeping with this month’s theme of “Reinvention”, and in celebration of writers everywhere – those published and those on their way to publication, I say, don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and go off in a completely different direction. That’s called change.

The only thing writers must fear is fear itself!  

Let me share with you my own reinvention story.

My writing journey began in the eighties as a freelance reader for Silhouette Books. For those of you unfamiliar with Silhouette, it is currently a Harlequin imprint. It’s the place some of the more popular authors like Nora Roberts, Linda Howard and Sharon Sala had their home.

 I read for the imprint for seven years, while changing residences and states. I had a busy corporate life, and publication was not a top priority for me.  But one year as fate would have it, I attended a conference, and met the lovely, inspiring, and now late editor, Monica Harris. Monica was at the time acquiring historicals for Kensington Publishing.  I don’t write historicals, but I enjoyed meeting Monica and we had a very nice rapport.


Six months later, she was named Senior Editor at Kensington and charged with acquiring for Kensington’s Arabesque line. This was a fledgling line targeted at a multi-cultural audience. Most said it would never succeed. Back then, it was not believed that people of color were huge readers with immense buying power.

Monica proved the naysayers wrong. She knew that 33% of the romance market were readers of color. Under her leadership, the line flourished.  My first manuscript was diplomatically turned down, but she encouraged me to submit any other work I had.  My second submission was accepted, and a request for a two-book contract followed.  Naturally I was over the moon!   

The Arabesque line was a ground breaker in so many ways, and Monica Harris, an insightful pioneer.  Writers were expected to be socially conscious and were expected to represent our heroes and heroines of color in a positive, responsible light.  Back then there was a huge HIV epidemic, and any sexual encounter required the use of condoms, at least in our books. 

The line was launched in July 1994 by two of my favorite authors; the late, Francis Ray and Sandra Kitt. The titles were Forever Yours and Serenade respectively.  These books were so well received that the imprint quickly increased from 2 releases to 4 books a month; usually each month introduced a debut author.

My first book, Remembrance was released in April of 1998 and Eden’s Dream followed that same year.

Between contracts with Kensington, I wrote a couple of novellas for St. Martin’s Press; Island Magic and Island Bliss.

 In the year 2000, the Arabesque line was sold to the television station BET, and they did a heavy promotion of both books and authors. Authors were not only expected to write, but were expected to promote the line at BET’s events.  Overnight we became television personalities. If you tuned in on Sundays we were often featured on Buy that Book. We were flown to various national events, and I even represented the line at a swimsuit shoot, featuring the then Miss Black America. Sadly, I never quite made the cover of Sports Illustrated or got paid. 

Exciting times lay ahead. The Sepia line; a mainstream (bigger book) imprint followed. I was fortunate to make the leap from category romance to mainstream books. Under the Sepia imprint I published Jade, Shattered Images, This Way Home and Hook, line and Single.

Then Viacom acquired BET and there were even more changes. In 2005, BET Books and its authors were sold  to Harlequin Enterprises and so Harlequin's Kimani Line was born. By then a lot of "street lit" had had hit the market, and to quote the then publisher, Linda Gill, readers of color were looking for more sexy, sophisticated stories mirroring their lives.  Mavis Allen, my editor instilled in us the need to have the series include “rich, realistic, and emotional romances that featured innovative plots and appealing characters who have 'professionally made it', and yet are still seeking love."

 I was fortunate enough to launch the line with my series book, Flamingo Place.  Through all these changes, authors were expected to be flexible and to stay prolific and adapt.  By the time the tablet became an option, there was uncertainty in the air. Advances were being cut, mid-list authors contracts weren’t being renewed, and many houses were merging.

What Amazon did do, was give writers an opportunity to become business owners, and take charge of their lives.  Barnes and Noble quickly followed.  Authors quickly caught on that the percentages being paid directly to the writer by retailers, were far higher than the publishing houses paid. There was a mass exodus, and soon even those who pooh-poohed self-publishing, labeling it as sub-standard, and for those who couldn’t get published traditionally, came on board.

Thus, was my transition into the Indie world.  Now we’ve  come full-circle. Writers have figured out that for more exposure, a hybrid author is the way to go. By hybrid, I mean writing for the traditional publishing world while still maintaining your Indie status.  Yes, you can do both.

In today’s tough market, writers need to be adaptable and open to change. It’s not about selling out. It’s about ensuring you don’t become a dinosaur in an ever changing publishing world.

Be brave fellow writers. You have a lot to celebrate. Go forth!  Shake, rattle and roll!   

About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS


Diana McCollum said...

What a journey you've been on! Thanks for sharing with us. Hybrid seems to be the best for authors these days. Congrats on all your books and being the official Facebook Party chair for RTG.

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Thank you Diana. I've really enjoyed your contributions. Love the new banner. It represents the spirit of The Generistas!

Judith Ashley said...

Blog Princess, Marcia, You've been through the traditional publishing trenches! So glad you said "yes" when we invited you. You've been a blessing to the Blog Queens.

Looking forward to tomorrow night and hearing how Michelle Monkou reinvented herself!!!

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Love the moniker Blog Princess! Michelle Monkou has a great story to tell about reinvention. Don't miss it!

Lauren James said...

What an amazing publication journey you've had! As an aspiring author, it's such an inspiration to see how you've reinvented yourself and gone with the flow through changes of publishers, lines and eventually tackling self-publishing. Thank you for sharing your story.

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Hi Lauren, So nice to hear from you. In this business one has to remain flexible or get left behind. Wishing you the best of luck with your writing. I look forward to reading your books!

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