Subj: Rapture Date: 97-11-15 16:28:00 EST From: CNeggers To: Whooshhead Hi---- Ah, tales from the past... I wrote one book for Rapture, after Loveswept and before Harlequin Temptation, when they were trying to breathe new life into the line and I was still "finding my stories." I did a lot of different things early in my career, which was tons of fun if not always terribly "businesslike." But, what the hell. I was just a kid. :-) Anyway, no one at Rapture ever brought up using a pseudonym, probably because I'd established myself in category romance at Loveswept, where pseudonyms weren't an option. Btw, I have maybe two copies of Delinquent Desire. It's not that easy to find! If you have any other questions, let me know and I'll try to answer them. Take care, and thanks, Carla
The sensual contemporary romance that's part of a brand name line is the
biggest and fastest growing segment of the paperback market. It's also
where the heaviest competition is among publishers, something that hasn't
deterred New American Library from making a bid for consumer dollars with
Rapture Romance, launched in January 1983.
"Our plots are stronger, the characters more realistic, and the love stories more satisfying," states editor Robin Grunder of the 50,000 to 60,000 word novels. "There's still room in the market for that kind of book, because I don't think any line has achieved the consistenly good romance." She says that typical Rapture Romance "illustrates the theme of finding, not the perfect man, as if there were a perfect man, but the perfect man for you."
Rapture marks NAL's major entry into the contemporary brand name field. Under its Signet impring, the publisher has established a strong presence in historicals and Regencies. Also under Signet [Signet is still a viable publisher], NAL has published a series of contemporary romances called Adventures in Love. Under consideration is another contemporary line featuring older heroines [wonder what happened to this idea?].
Planning for Rapture, based on market research, began in late 1981. Silhouette had considered the name "Rapture," but editors there said it didn't test well. But it tested well for NAL in house and in focus groups, and seemed to capture the essence of the new line. "It best expresses the emotion of being swept beyond yourself by the strength of the most powerful of emotions-love," observes Robin.
Work began on press kits, promotional materials and a logo and design theme. The decision was made to use a double "R" for the logo rather than the Signet logo to further strengthen the name identification of the line. "It has continuity with our regular Signet logo, but it's all a little more delicate," noted the art director.
The covers feature a bold wave of deep. eye catching magenta, accented with red. The "undulating wave of passion" plus the illustration that depict passionately aroused couples combine to communicate subliminal sexual messages. "We wanted the cover to be as distinctive as possible to combat other lines who have heavy consumer advertising budgets. Within the illustrations, we wanted to show that this was a sexier product than other romances. We're playing directly against Silhouette Desire and Candlelight Ecstasy."
Magenta was the art director's choice of dominant color right form the start. "I wanted a color that would work with everything else," he says, adding that magenta is more evocative of passion than red, which is also used for anger. The authors' names are positioned more prominently thant the book titles, because research has shown that consumers are buying more by author name than anything else.
Authors, however, are required to have pseudonyms used exclusively for Rapture. The reason is competition. Any reader following built on a Rapture name can't benefit another publisher. Robin's background in roomances was in Regencies, and she freely acknowledges that she used to turn her nose up in disdain at short brand name contemporaries. Her first task-extensive reading of the competition. Then she created a tip sheet for writers, which really crystallized what they were looking for. That means strong, successful, active characters, no stereotypes, realistic conficts, no clliche contrivances and the development of a warm, passionate, sensual relationshiip. "In many romances, it just doesn't make sense that the characters bitch and moan at each other the whole way through until the last page, and then they suddenly decide to get married. How can anybody understand how they could possibly like each other, except for their physical attraction. [We here at Ultimate Internet RomanceBook Web site totally concur!]
Once Robin knew what she was looking for, her next challenge was to recruit the right authors. She attended many romance conferences and talked to many more agents. Although there are thousands of apsiring romance writers wanting, even dying, to get published, there is a very small pool of fine writers, and the competition for them is intense. "If all I wanted to do was fill the line, I could be booked into 1986 by tomorrow."
Leading off the launch were Love so Fearful by Nina Coombs, River of Love by Lisa McConnell, Lover's Lair by Jeanette Ernest and Welcome Intruder by Charlotte Wisely. As part of the launch promotion, Love So Fearful was given away to 1,000 readers. [We now know why they're not in business anymore but we like the idea of freebies...]
While realism is desired in today's contemporary romance, the fantasy element shouldn't be lost, notes Robin. "The point of these books is not having depressing real-life problems but in getting married and living happily ever after. These books have a temendous appeal. I don't think romance is going to die, ever."
Well, after reading this we wonder what ever happened? It sounded like a great line. I do notice though that Joan Wolf and Carla Neggers wrote for this line when one of the prerequisites was a pseudonym. Maybe they changed their policy when their sales were down and this was an effort to divert readers from other lines.