Conference Report: There’s a New Kid on the Publishing Block…

sourcebooks logo…and it’s Sourcebooks Casablanca.  I walked out of the Spotlight on Sourcebooks feeling truly excited about this new publisher.  Well, they’re new to romance publishing, having started the Casablanca imprint about two years ago.  Now they’re publishing 10 romances per month, which is an impressive output.

Sourcebooks is the largest woman-owned trade publisher in the United States and publishes roughly 300 titles/year.  The Illinois-based company has been in business since 1987 when founder and C.E.O. Dominique Raccah left her job in advertising and started her independent press.

Why was I so excited about Sourcebooks?

Well, you gotta love a company that publishes Georgette Heyer (the author who got me addicted to the romance genre in my youth), Jane Austen sequels, and, get this, poetry!  (My own R.W.A. workshop was about using the techniques of poetry to strengthen your prose so you can tell I’m a fan.)

However, as an author, this is what I was thrilled to hear Ms. Raccah (who is a real dynamo) say in her presentation to us writers:  We publish authors, not books.Sourcebooks Grey

To expand: Ms. Raccah’s advertising background has made her aware of the importance of building an author as a brand.  She understands this is a long-term career process.  Sourcebooks devotes 30% of the company’s resources to marketing.  That’s roughly three times what the big New York publishers spend.

Ms. Raccah believes in attracting a readership by fully supporting every book they publish.  The company regularly analyzes what’s working to build sales and what isn’t.  They understand how to use the internet but they also do hard copy advertising, i.e., advertisements in RT Book Reviews, bookmarks, etc.  Danielle Jackson, Casablanca’s publicist, says they send out 250-300 Advance Reading Copies of every book.  That’s amazing!

The folks at Sourcebooks feel that the publisher and author should function as a true partnership.

Oh, and did I mention that they have full distribution in all book-selling venues, that they actively pursue foreign rights sales, and they’re interested in reprinting your backlist? 

Sourcebooks coverThat’s the official party line, and Ms. Raccah is very convincing, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  Well, I have a couple of writing buddies who are now working with Sourcebooks, and they have nothing but good things to say about the company.  The covers are beautiful, Deb Werksman (who edits the Casablance imprint) is a terrific editor, and their contracts are getting renewed.  That sounds pretty darn good.

Now that we’re all excited about submitting to Sourcebooks, how should we go about it?

According to Ms. Werksman, most of this information is on the Sourcebooks website here , but I’ll tell you what she said anyway.

Submission Guidelines

Email a full manuscript and synopsis (as attachments in WORD format with file names that start with the title of the book) along with your query letter to .

She’s looking for all subgenres of single title romance fiction which have:

–a heroine the reader can relate to,

–a hero she can fall in love with,

–a world that gets created,

–a hook that allows Sourcebooks to sell the book in 2-3 sentences.

The books should be 90,000 to 110,000 words long.  Sourcebooks accepts both agented and unagented submissions.

Your query letter should include the usual information, plus:

–your career arc as an author, including sales figures of your previous books (if any),

–whether this book is part of a possible series (for branding purposes).

Ms. Werksman’s response time is currently 4-8 weeks, and she assured us we would absolutely hear from her with either a yes or a no.


Ms Raccah announced that they are debuting a Young Adult imprint (as yet unnamed),edited by Daniel Ehrenhaft.

 So polish those query letters, synopses and manuscripts, and send ‘em in!


4 responses to “Conference Report: There’s a New Kid on the Publishing Block…

  1. Huh, that’s very interesting! Thanks for posting this =]

    Did she happen to talk about advances and royalties?

  2. Natalie, that’s a very good question. My understanding is that Sourcebooks pays both advances and royalties. I do not know what the level of either one is because that was not discussed at the presentation. However, since Sourcebooks is an RWA-eligible publisher, the advances must be $1,000 or more.

    Of course, publishers are notoriously reluctant to reveal hard numbers on those topics. To be fair, I don’t believe anyone asked at the workshop.

  3. I’m a Sourcebooks author and I’m THRILLED to be there. And they do what they say they’re going to do . My first book had the New Release tower at B&N and New Romance release at Borders, and I had ARCs of my second book to give away at the publisher signing at National (book isn’t due out until November but I’m told the ARCs went out this past Friday). Deb is an amazing editor – I’m amazed, honestly, at how good she is because she asks for full mss from everyone who pitches her (almost), has a bunch of authors, as well as a personal life, yet she can pick out problem spots like nobody’s business. My books are what they are because of her.

    Can you tell I’m on the GO-TEAM side of Sourcebooks? LOL. Seriously, though it’s a team and a very committed, knowledgeable one to be on.

  4. Judi, thank you so much for giving us a first-hand report on Sourcebooks. That is so valuable to have! I’m excited to hear that they walk the walk, as well as talking the talk.

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