Working in Romance

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JESSICA PUPILLO
Columnist

I never thought I would be someone who would work so much in the romance field when it came to publishing. I have enjoyed books that focused on romance (especially YA and historical fiction) throughout my life, but I had no clue that it would be the focus of at least two of my publishing experiences.

In January 2015 I was lucky enough to see a flyer at my community college asking for someone to help a local author. I decided to give it a shot and called the number on the paper. Little did I know that calling that number would end up earning me one of the best jobs I ever had.

Mary Scully is a historical romance writer who co-authors books with her daughter Helen under the name Ursula LeCoeur. These are all standalone novels in the Love in New Orleans series, books about women living in New Orleans in the 1880s falling in love and more. There are currently four books in the series. Helen and Mary co-write the books even though, at the time of my employment, Mary lived in Pennsylvania, and Helen lived in New Orleans.

Before meeting Mary, I was not someone who usually picked up a romance book. I had read some historical fiction as a child and even some books with romance in them as a teen and adult. But to say I was a romance fan or I knew a ton about the genre would be a lie. Luckily, my meeting with Mary went well and soon I was hired as an author assistant.

Almost every week for the next few years I went to Mary’s house and helped her for two hours with everything from marketing to editing. Most of what I did as part of this job consisted of finding and contacting book bloggers to review her books, sending and responding to emails, updating social media accounts, editing and updating her blog posts, assisting in making decisions for website and book designs, thinking up ideas to help marketing the books to more people, and a variety of other tasks

Working for Mary was a job that I loved so much and was one that I looked forward to going to every week. I loved sharing and thinking up ideas to help with marketing of the books and being introduced to different tools, programs, and tactics used to market books to readers. I not only enjoyed this job though, I also learned a lot from it.

Mary and Helen self-published their books and self-publishing was not something I knew a lot about before taking this job. Through working with Mary though I learned a lot about indie authors and the work that they have to put into their books. Indie author don’t always have editing, marketing, or design teams to help them. Most of the time they end up doing the work themselves or having to hire someone else to do it out of pocket. This is especially true for things like marketing or cover design if the author doesn’t have experience in those fields. As much as I appreciate all types of authors, I believe that working for Mary did give me a newfound appreciation for indie authors and the work they go through to publish and gain readership for their books.

I worked for Mary for about 2 ½ years (the last few months being on and off during the school year when I was away at college). I loved my time working with Mary and am extremely happy for all the knowledge I gained during my employment.

Another instance where I worked in romance was when I was a remote Intern for Entangled Publishing. This position was pretty relaxed and fun, but at the same time very rewarding. It consisted of me being sent manuscripts to read and write reader reports on by filling out a form and submitting it through a website. I would read about 2-4 manuscripts a month that all had to do with romance. I really enjoyed this 7-month long internship as I was able to go at mostly my own pace and read a lot of different and interesting stories. Many of what I read were books that I would want to read anyway. On top of that, I got to be introduced to more romance books and sub-genres. This internship was an opportunity that helped me gain future positions and learn more about romance publishing and the editing processes of books.  And for that I am truly grateful I was able to be a part of the Entangled Intern team.

Being a part of two positions having to do with romance really opened my eye to not only the publishing business but the romance genre too. I was able to learn more about the culture of romance readers and gain a newfound appreciation for the genre. Through working with Ms. Scully I was introduced to websites and online groups of people who loved romance books and especially historical romance. Through Entangled I was able to read and be immersed in different romance books and sub-genres.

Romance is a genre that I feel can get a bad name from people. Some people look down on a mass market paperback book with two people almost kissing the same way some people look down on romantic comedies. There are many reasons that could be attributed to this from sexism to popularity trends. The point is that regardless of the reasoning romance is a genre that makes people feel happy, believe in love, and can be more than just erotica (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It is a genre that I believe deserves more respect and I am so glad that I had the good fortune of working as an author assistant for a romance writer and as an intern for a romance publisher.

I hope that next time you’re at a bookstore you will take the time to look more closely at the romance section. You may just find your new favorite book.

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Jessica Pupillo

I am a recent college graduate and publishing intern. I hope to one day get a job in book publishing or writing. I love reading, watching Marvel movies (especially any of the films that feature Tony Stark), watching my favorite TV shows, and spending time with my friends and family.

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