Market News Focus on Kensington

Here is another issue of Cindi Myers fabulous Market News newsetter.


This week I'm reporting on Kensington Books, from their spotlight at the RWA National Convention in Reno.

Editorial Director Kate Duffy and Editor Hilary Sares presented the Spotlight. Kate has been in publishing 31 years. She has edited for Popular Library, Dell Candlelight, Silhouette books, Pocket Books and Meteor, and has worked for Kensington for ten years. Hilary Sares has been at Kensington for 9 years.

Kensington handles seven percent of mass market publishing in North America. It’s the largest privately owned publishing company in North America. Kensington imprints include: Zebra, which publishes only romance, including historical, contemporary, paranormal and anthologies in mass market and soon also some titles will be released in trade paper.Strapless (chick lit) in trade paperDafina (African-American) fiction and romance in trade paper and mass market.Brava erotic romance in trade and mass marketPinnacle – thrillers, true crime, westerns, mystery
K-mass – mass market for mystery and BravaKensington also distributes BET Arabesque and Sepia titles. Kensington is the largest American publisher of African-American fiction and nonfiction, and the largest North American publisher of gay and lesbian fiction.

Kensington publishes over 80 books a month, most of them fiction. They have no guidelines, and would like to see all kinds of ideas from authors. They like to see new spins on traditional genres, examples were a Regency-set paranormal, and paranormal erotica. “We want to see things we’re not doing,” Kate said.

Kate encourage authors to send her partials of their work in progress – you don’t have to finish it for her to consider it. She can advise whether or not it’s worth finishing and can give you some editorial guidance. Hilary is open to this also.

They accept simultaneous submissions. Response time: “We’re aiming for 3-6 months.” There have been problems in the past, but they’re trying to get better.
Hilary doesn’t care about synopses – she doesn’t read them. “Write a cover letter that reads like back cover copy,” she said. “Two paragraphs.”

Kate feels the synopsis is useful for a work in progress and it’s useful for the art department. She always reads the manuscript pages first.

“No matter what our website says, every single person at Kensington accepts unagented, unsolicited submissions,” Kate said.

Some of the specific programs at Kensington include:

Zebra Debut – more traditional romance spotlighting first authors, many priced at $3.99 around 100,000 words

A new erotica imprint will launch in January 2006 with four books that month and two each month thereafter. The line is as yet unnamed. 25,000 word novellas or 90,000 word novelsBut both editors cautioned against getting too hung up on word count, especially in erotica

Brava publishes erotic romance, often in themed collections, as well as single title books. They’ve done themes of Bad Boys and Wicked Women. If you have an idea for a theme that would fit in Brava, send it to them. Kate would love to do a World War II series in Brava, but they’re not interested in seeing anything later than WWII as far as historicals go.

Sulay Hernandez is Hillary’s assistant. She is looking for Latina fiction and nonfiction.

The editors are open to romantic suspense but be mindful you’ll be up against authors like Beverly Barton and Lisa Jackson. But if you have a new spin on it – for instance, an African American or Latina perspective, or anything different, they would definitely be interested. “It’s a difficult genre to find really great work in,” Hilary said.

Kate predicted “cowboy romance” is “coming back.” “Western romances, for Kensington, are a huge priority for 2006,” she said. They want to concentrate on creating strong covers for their western historicals.

Other editors: Karen Thomas, Audrey LeFehr and John ScognamiglioAudrey LeFehr is involved in developing women’s fiction for Kensington.

The website is Contact any editor via email using this

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Cindi Myers
My Backwards Life, Next, September 2005
Learning Curves, Signature Select, October 2005

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