What's better than chocolate? Choc Lit, a UK-based romance publisher that recently began offering their books in North America! We recently reported on their contest to find the next American romance star, and we are now taking an opportunity to get to know this romance publisher from across the pond better by interviewing Choc Lit's Marketing Consultant Luke Roberts.
Can you tell readers a little about Choc Lit publishing? (i.e. When did it start? What is the focus of the company? What kind of books can readers expect?)
I’ll do my best. These are some good questions and I could waffle on for hours over a pint of beer or two in a nice London pub. But I will try to stick to the point, as you are no doubt busy people with lots of interesting things to do.
Lyn Vernham set up the company in June 2009, spotting a gap in the market for romantic fiction, written for savvy female readers looking for something fresh, witty and fun. The name of the company came from the idea that romance and chocolate make a great combination. This led to the strapline, ‘Where heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!’ No Choc Lit book launch is complete without some cocoa treats for people to taste by the way. We like to match the heroes of our books with chocolates that describe their character, personality or even physical traits in some way. This forms the basis of some amusing publicity campaigns. Oh and we’ve worked with some great chocolatiers. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it...
The ladies of Choc Lit publishing! From L to R: Liz Harris, Kate Johnson, Margaret James, Jane Lovering, Evonne Wareham, Linda Mitchelmore, Sue Moorcroft, Christina Courtenay and Sarah Tranter
We’re a brand led publisher whose aim is to help debut and lesser-known authors. We publish good quality stories (we’ve won 7 awards just to prove it!) all with gorgeous heroes and plenty of romance at their core. The aim was always to offer something a little different from the formulaic and predictable nature of much romance available in British bookshops. One thing that perhaps defines our books is that they always include the male heroes’ point of view. You get into the heads of our heroes too!
Thus far we’ve published romantic contemporaries, historicals, suspense, comedy and a fantasy. We are interested in all romantic subgenres. Authors include; Juliet Archer, Christina Courtenay, Margaret James, Kate Johnson, Jane Lovering, Linda Mitchelmore, Chris Stovell, Evonne Wareham and four further debuts to be published in the later half of 2012 and 2013.
I know several of the books Choc Lit published have recently won awards. Which books are you finding that are really resonating with readers?
Well it’s actually hard to say which books are really resonating with which readers. Different people find different resonances with different books...
Our latest book to be released in Britain, To Turn Full Circle by Linda Mitchelmore, set on the Devon coast, has resonated strongly with people with a connection to gripping love stories set by the sea. Sue Moorcroft is one of our most popular authors internationally, and her book Love & Freedom has an American heroine, but some readers find more resonances in Christina Courtenay and Margaret James’ historical fiction. Fans of the classics have been taken with Juliet Archer’s modern interpretation of Austen’s much-loved novels.
Of course there are those who find more resonances or enjoyment from the pens of Chris Stovell and Kate Johnson. Evonne Wareham’s debut novel Never Coming Home, which was one of our prizewinners, is a dark thriller about a woman whose daughter is missing, presumed dead. Some readers have found resonance with this more adrenaline-driven story, while others are finding more to connect with in Jane Lovering’s award-winning romantic comedies.
What is the 'Tasting Panel' you are putting together? What is expected of this panel? Who is eligible? Is there a website that readers can go to and apply?
We have a remarkably democratic way of selecting which manuscripts to publish at Choc Lit. We have a group of 50 independent readers in the UK, known as the Tasting Panel. Each manuscript we consider for publication is sent to ten members of the Tasting Panel and must gain at least eight favourable reviews to be published.
If you like reading romance and you can give simple and clear feedback, then this could be for you. As a member of the Tasting Panel, you are rarely asked to read more than one book a month and you will help shape our future. With our launch in the US we are looking for Americans to join our Tasting Panel. So we’d love to hear from you.
To find out more please send us an email introducing yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header ‘US Tasting Panel.’