Monday, March 23, 2015

Last day of New York Pitch Conference: I'm told profanity limits your @#$% audience. Who knew?

The New York Pitch Conference ended today and Director Michael Neff was right: I did learn a lot.

This morning we did our final pitch to Michaela Hamilton, Executive and Acquiring Editor at Kensington Publication and Editor-in-Chief of one of its imprints, Citadel Press.

She has been with Kensington for fifteen years (but has been an editor longer than that). She described the company as an independent family-owned enterprise and pointed out that, after the Big Five publishing houses, Kensington, established in 1974, is Number Six. The company is “devoted to entertainment,” is “category-driven,” and specializes in what its audiences in each category want.

She shared some interesting statistics: 40% of all book sales are romance novels and that has remained steady, no matter what happens
to the rest of the business or the economy or world events. A more depressing statistic: 80% of all books fail to sell as expected.

Somehow, I don’t picture my hard-as-nails Sheriff Barnes saying “oh, drat” or “fiddlesticks.” But what do I know?

Kensington has an eight person editorial group. There are approximately 70 people in the New York office with a sales force in the US and Canada. A portion of Kensington’s distribution is handled through Penguin-Random House, she said.

The good news for me: She, too, says that books set in the South and with strong female characters sell.

The bad news for me: She strongly believes that profanity “limits your audience” and should not be used. Moreover, she said, some distributors now scan books for the “f-word” and refuse to stock them if it’s used. “Too many complaints from offended customers.”

Somehow, I don’t picture my hard-as-nails Sheriff Barnes saying “oh, drat” or “fiddlesticks.” But what do I know? (Notice I did not say, “But, what the @#$% do I know?”)

Now the wait begins to see what happens next. Will any of the participants get a book deal? There are real possibilities. Stay tuned and hope it has a happier ending than this one:


  1. So I wonder why there's so much profanity and definately the "F" word in so many TV shows and highly rated movies?

  2. No wonder some of us find publications by the big-name publishers a ripoff. Darn, why the heck did you just sock me in the nose you cretin? Gee wiz, you are so testy you nasty girl. Oh, heck no, I will not do that, I mean golly, what would my mother think?