Welcome to our Small Press column, where we are pleased to introduce some of the smaller publishers who offer romance fiction in print format. This time we're visiting with Mary Ann Heathman, President and CEO of LionHearted Publishing, Inc. LionHearted has an extensive catalog of novels, and it's fair to say they are one of the most successful small publishers of romance.
TRR: Tell us how and why your press got started.
MAH: "It all started at a small lakeside cove in Nevada in 1994..." ( Oops, pardon me, I used to be in broadcasting for 8 years.)
Seriously, I was working 17 hour days, flying to and from work (Lake Tahoe to Southern California) once a week on a consulting assignment with my husband, when I realized my left brain was getting lots of use, and my right brain was either jealous or going to dry up from lack of creative use!
My husband and I knew in advance that our consulting job would continue for months, as would the 12 hour (each way) weekly commute by air. Yes, we could have driven in about the same time, or less, but they were paying airfare, rental car, hotel (eventually condo, etc.) Anyway, my husband, Kim, had his laptop Mac to keep him busy during those 12 hours, and I had Cosmo and New Woman. Well the magazines lasted one trip and new issues wouldn't be out for another month. Obviously, I needed something longer to read.
My sister-in-law had given me a couple of romance novels she finished during a holiday visit to Tahoe. I thanked her and promptly replied that I didn't read fiction...nothing against romance, I just hadn't read fiction since the original Thorn Birds came out in the mid '70's. What few books I read were business "how-to" books, metaphysical books, history, bio's, etc.
I took both novels on the next trip. Somewhere in the sky over Nevada, between Reno and Las Vegas, -- I came up for air from my reading with a "knowing" (I'm kind of "woo-woo" psychic at times) that romance novels would have a major and very significant role to play in my future. Three years later, and probably 500 novels read by then, LionHearted incorporated in January of 1994. We are very proud of the fact that we are still here when so many other publishers have come and gone.
To our readers we offer stories that are always a romance, a bit more depth of plot and character development than the average genre fare, more outside the box storylines that have a unique freshness and appeal, that might blend sub-genres of romance, a compelling page-turning romantic read. We don't publish mainstream contemporary fiction or mainstream historical fiction. We publish contemporary romance and historical romance --including time-travel, paranormal, sci-fi, westerns, etc...but always a romance! We offer our readers award-winning reads that keep them glued to the page all night! (Most often feedback from readers.) Because our books do not go out of print our readers are able to constantly refer friends to our authors and titles.
TRR: Did you have a mission in mind when you began producing books?
MAH: Yes. I wanted to empower creative women, (so their right brains wouldn't dry up!). We have 99% women authors, women editors (yes, it does take creativity to edit), women artists, women preview readers, and hopefully our novels and our success inspires other women to be creative with something in their lives. I think we have succeeded.
TRR: In what format are your books published?
MAH: We do both paperbacks and e-book releases of every title. Mass market size paperbacks average about $7.99 and e-book downloads are $5.00. We also have one title in a large print edition trade size at $14.99 (THE ALLIANCE by Patricia Waddell)
TRR: Do you do print-on-demand books?
MAH: No. We do both large print runs and small print runs. We do not do POD.
TRR: How are your books distributed? Do you get help from Ingrams or B and T,
or are you on your own?
MAH: First they are posted on our web site http://www.LionHearted.com, then eventually Amazon.com gets them posted. We have used Ingram and Baker and Taylor, and are in Books In Print for several years. We also sell to Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc. We do not stock shelves with inventory that would be considered "old" in a month and covers stripped and books throw away. However, any of our titles can normally be easily ordered from any bookstore, including independent bookstores. I would suggest visiting our web site first, as we normally have special offers that more than defray the cost of shipping, and we process all orders within 24 hours.
TRR: Tell us how you advertise. Where do the dollars go, primarily?
MAH: Our authors advertise as does corporate. Readers will see periodic ads in Romantic Times Magazine, Affaire de Coeur Magazine, The Romantic Bower, etc. I would say that most dollars go toward RT as they have probably the largest readership.
TRR: Who are some of the authors you've contracted with?
MAH: All LionHearted's titles are available:
Ronda Thompson - ISN'T IT ROMANTIC? (contemporary romantic comedy - in development for a feature film)
Patricia Lucas White - P.S. I'VE TAKEN A LOVER (menopause, marriage and madness blend with romance)
Elizabeth Taylor George - KNIGHT'S DESIRE (Medieval romance)
Barbara Cary - SPIRIT OF THE HEART (paranormal romance)
Kathleen Pickering - ECHOES OF LOVE (paranormal romance)
Patricia Waddell - THE ALLIANCE (sci-fi romance) (This is the "infamous" title that RT selected as finalist for Best Book of The Year, and readers feel could have won the RITA if RWA had let it in.)
Katherine Greyle - ORACLE (futuristic/time-travel romance)
Diane Drew - MY CAPTAIN JACK (historical romance)
Lucy Grijalva - UNDERCOVER LOVE (contemporary romance)
Candice Kohl - DESTINY'S DISGUISE (Medieval romance)
Karen Culver - YESTERDAY ONCE MORE (paranormal romance)
Lee Ann Dansby - FOREVER, MY KNIGHT (Medieval romance)
Anita Lynn - SOMETHING IN COMMON (contemporary romance)
Norah-Jean Perkin - OUTRAGEOUS (contemporary romance)
Delores Fossen - UNBRIDLED (western historical romance)
Nancy Radke - TURNAGAIN LOVE (contemporary romance)
TRR: What releases do you have out or soon out?
MAH: These titles were just released:
Catherine Sellers - SUDDENLY LOVE (contemporary romance)
Ann Logan - CHARADES (romantic suspense)
Carrie Brock - HEART OF THE DIAMOND (long length Regency historical romance)
Susanne Marie Knight - LORD DARVER'S MATCH (Regency Time-Travel romance)
JoAnn Delazzari - THE REBEL'S BRIDE (American Regency historical romance)
Gael Morrison - LOVERS NEVER LIE (romantic suspense)
TRR: What is the price range for your releases?
MAH: E-book downloads are all $5.00. Paperbacks range from $5.99 to $8.99 depending on length of the book. And our trade large print edition is $14.99.
TRR: How can readers purchase your books?
MAH: For the easiest and fastest service I would suggest our web site. We have a secure order page at our web site. We've had the web site up since 1995 and have had no security problems with orders. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discovery and American Express.
Visit http://www.LionHearted.com and you will find that not only are all our titles shown but we include the story blurb, reviews, author bio for each title. And, readers can read the first three chapters for FREE of any of our titles by going to the ORDER page, clicking on the VIEW button in the right hand column of any title.
For authors we not only have posted our guidelines, but also The Top 10 Reasons Why Editors Reject, and three articles for writers on creating compelling conflict, characters and handling point of view. There is also a longer interview of myself posted:
Mary Ann, thank you for joining us, and best of luck to you and your LionHearted authors! Readers, we are not presently reviewing LionHearted titles because our review schedule is so full, but we may be able to offer some reviews of their titles in the future.
July 3, 2002