the conference was an incredibly uplifting experience
and I returned from that event to fabulous news.
I sold a mainstream book and of course Im
over the moon. This was a story that had been
bubbling within me and just been dying to be told.
The scheduled release date is 2011 and that gives
me plenty of time to work on another fun project.
But mums the word until the ink dries on
Recently I was interviewed by http://wordhustlerink.wordhustler.com/.
Wordhustler is a cool site that makes the submission
process much easier, freeing you up to do what
youre supposed to be doing writing!
Its a great service for those who are unagented.
But dont take my word for it, log onto the
site and see how it works.
the next couple of weeks Ill be heading
for New York and then onto Pennsylvania. I am
excited and inspired by the thought of walking
along nature trails, inhaling the fresh, clean,
smell of country air, and getting up close and
personal with wandering deer.
me crazy, but its the little things that
make me happy.
what's left of the summer!
-- Romantically Yours
Tools of the Trade
(www.wordhustler.com). This is the site I mentioned
and worth a visit. The owners provide an innovative
service to busy authors. Wordhustler streamlines
the submission process, ensuring your manuscripts
get into the right hands. They also keep track
of submissions and even print and ship.
with Marsha Zinberg/Executive Editor Feature &
Custom Publishing Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Marsha Zinberg began her career at Harlequin as
an Assistant Editor. 26 years later shes
still with Harlequin and loving every moment of
her role. Marsha is responsible for limited continuity
projects and all backlist programs. Shes
the person responsible for NASCAR. Shes
one smart, savvy, lady and very down to earth.
Please tell our readers how you got started in
publishing. Was this a life long dream?
I suppose working with literature was a life-long
dream, as I was a bookworm from the time I first
learned to read. I was one of those children who
always had her nose in a book. I came from a pretty
traditional background, so I thought perhaps Id
teach or be a librarian, until I hit university,
and was consumed by the opportunities there. I
completed a masters degree in what was then
called English Language and Literature,
and always thought Id go back for a PhD.
But instead, I thought I should earn some money,
and it was then that the idea of working in publishing
became a reality for me. Obviously, I never looked
Now here you are twenty- five years later. What
are some of the most successful projects you headed
up? Why do you think they were successful?
Actually, Ive been with Harlequin for twenty-six
years. Successful projects? Well, wefirst developed
the idea of out-of-series continuities in the
very early nineties, and they made a big impact
initially because they were different, and readers
loved the notion of coming back to an established
and continuing set of characters, just as they
would for a television series that they returned
to every week. T.V. had Dynasty, and we had Crystal
also were pioneers in the area of romance anthologies,
and the idea of novellas by three favorite authors
grouped around a theme--particularly something
to do with Christmas--was very successful for
a number of years. Ive been handling anthologiessince
the very beginning of their development at Harlequin
and Silhouette. Now that there
are so many anthologies out there, the market
has become a bit saturated with them, but these
kinds of things always go in cycles. As a variation,
we also pioneered a number of different configurations
of reissue anthologies, and we had a program called
By Request, featuring two and sometimes three
full-length romances by favorite series authors
by theme. Readers loved knowing they were getting
three stories about single dads or Western Christmases
in one volume--and they were also attractively
priced, which certainly added to their popularity!
During your tenure you must have seen many changes.
Can you share with us some of your special memories?
In a recent blog tour that I wrote in June I mentioned
the fact that when I began at Harlequin, editors
did not even have their own typewriters, let alone
computers! If we wanted to write a revision letter
to an author, we walked down the hall to a little
room that held three IBM Selectrics, and composed
our letters there. So obviously, the way that
do our business, the way we receive and handle
manuscripts, and the impact of technology generally
on our industry has been mind-boggling.
remember being part of an experiment in the early
90s to edit manuscripts on-screen. It's 2009,
and I still prefer to edit a hard copy with a
pencil and eraser! That, at least hasn't changed.
Harlequin celebrates its 60th anniversary this
year. If you had a crystal ball and were able
to predict the future, what kinds of plots and
storylines will continue to appeal to readers?
There are some basic truths in romance fiction
that never change. A gorgeous, hunky, single man
interacting with a baby or young child makes women
melt inside--I think it always has and always
will, so single dad stories are going to appeal.
The absolute moral compass of the laconic Western
hero is always going to appeal as well, because
romance readers are drawn to a hero whom they
know might be prickly as a cactus on the outside,but
is someone they are confident they can trust and
depend on when push comes to shove. And wedding
stories continue to contribute to the hope and
optimism in the human spirit--that there is a
happy ending out there for everyone. Thats
why I think our books have universal and continuing
appeal, and those basics are not going to change--at
least, they havent in the entire time Ive
been working at my job!
Its said that 52-55% of all mass market
books sold are romances. Why do you think romance
continues to outsell other genres?
I guess I must have anticipated this in my answer
to the previous question. People WANT to believe
in happy endings, they want to be entertained,
and there is a marked uplift and feel-good
vibe guaranteed when you read a romance. People
thirst for that in their rushed, harried, perhaps
not-so-perfect lives, and to see it depicted in
of course, it gives them hope. They identify with
the heroine, and feel that if she can overcome
whatever adversity or conflict she has and come
out a better, happier person, then perhaps they
can too. And they can get all those good feelings
for a pretty good price, as well!
How has the recession affecting the publishing
world? What changes have come about as a result?
Harlequin, Im happy to say, is having a
very successful year, and though, as other publishers,
we conducted business with caution as 2009 opened,
I think we are optimisticthat the economy will
improve. There have not been huge changes to our
general way of doing business or our results.
We may be an anomaly in the publishing world,
but were all very happy with the year so
Have you ever considered writing? If yes, what
Harlequin line would you write for and why?
I have considered writing many times,
and in fact, I write a great deal--just not, at
present, romance fiction. I write something that
I consider related--.wedding speeches! Ive
been helping out friends and family for years
with this sort of thing, and finally decided to
make a business out of it. I write all kinds of
speeches for people all over North America--whether
its in honor of a 90th birthday or the opening
of a hospital wing. But obviously, I LOVE writing
wedding speeches--I think I bring a special sensibility
to it, doing what Ive been doing for 26
years, and people seem pleased with the result!
Theres been a lot of buzz about Harlequins
famous firsts. Can you share with us what these
firsts are? How did this idea get conceived?
As you know, there are a large number of best-selling
and New York Times-listed authors who got their
start at Harlequin/Silhouette, and we came up
with the idea of looking back through our 60 years
at the accomplishments of some of our authors.
There are a few of us (myself being one) who could
actually remember when some of these authors were
first published, and we thought it would be fun
to republish those first books and have people
enjoy how their favorite authors got started and
have developed. Im talking about people
like Debbie Macomber, Linda Lael Miller, Diana
Palmer, Heather Graham, Barbara Delinsky, Carla
Neggers--.and countless others. Some of the books
were written as much as
twenty-five years ago, and so much has changed
in contemporary society, there was quite a nostalgia
factor there! Also, we wanted a personal touch,
and since many of us in-house have strong and
on-going relationships with these authors, we
asked them to share some of their memories of
the good old days in a letter that
we printed at the front of each book. The program
just fell into place based on our memories and
What advice would you give to a writer trying
to break into the field?
I always tell a writer trying to break into the
field to study the market. To critically examine
her own style, and then spend time in the bookstore
figuring out what publishing house or line is
closest to what you can and want to write. Then,
target that house or line specifically. In other
words, do your homework. Join a professional organization,
as much as possible about the business and how
others have succeeded. The wonderful thing about
romance writers in particular is that they are
so supportive of others in their profession. Take
advantage of that--study and learn before you
take the plunge!
Finally, what would a typical day in the life
of Marsha Zinberg look like? What does Marsha
do for fun?
Well, a typical work day encompasses dealing with
on average eighty or so emails, lots of phone
calls, two or three meetings, and whatever reading
I can squeeze in in-between. If I need to concentrate
on an edit, I often will do that from home, as
do some other editors when pressed. Its
very hard to concentrate on editing with all the
distractions in the office.
That would be the weekend. First and foremost,
I love seeing my immediate and extended family,
who are all in Toronto and close. I have three
adorable grandchildren, aged 4, 18 months and
a year, and I can never get enough of them. Then
there is gardening in the summer, flower arranging
in the winter, working out with my sister,
lunches and dinners with friends, film and theatre.
And travel with my husband! Love that too! Oh,
and I do read a bit.!
Start your Engines: Rev Up Your Writing Career
Sponsor: Southern Tier Authors of Romance (STAR)
Location: Owega Treadway Inn
September 12, 2009
Keynote : Kathryn Shay
and Writers Holiday Conference
Sponsor: Central Ohio Fiction Writers
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Date: September 18-19, 2009
Keynote: Roxanne St.Claire
Sponsor: Georgia Romance Writers
Location: Hilton Atlanta Northeast
Date: October 02-04, 2009
in the Mountains
Sponsor: Utah RWA
Location: The Lodges at Deer Valley
Park City, Utah
Date: October 9-10, 2009
Keynote: Rachel Gibson
NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book
Sponsor: New Jersey Romance Writers
Location: The Woodbridge Hotel & Conference
Center, Iselin, NJ.
Date: October 23-24, 2009
Keynote Speaker: Karen Rose
Looking for well written love stories if 20,000
words and up. For guidelines see
Desire (NY Office)
Silhouette Special Editions (NY Office) www.eharlequin.com
for guidelines click on write.
Presents (London Office)
Log onto www.eharlequin.com for guidelines. Click
74.8 million people read at least one romance
novel in 2008.
24.6% of all Americans read a romance novel in
2008 versus 21.8 % in 2005.
Marcia's ROMANTICALLY YOURS *
Yours is a FREE monthly newsletter. I would love
to hear from you. Please send comments, news, research,
or story ideas directly to Marcia King-Gamble at