Just about two years after it launched its nonfiction list, Harlequin is preparing to release its biggest title in the category to date, Your Best Body Now: Look and Feel Fabulous at Any Age the Eat-Clean Way by Tosca Reno, whose Eat-Clean Diet series has sold nearly one million copies for Reno's Canadian publishing house Robert Kennedy Publishing (distributed in the U.S. by NBN). Harlequin won North American rights at auction, and Body will have a first printing of 225,000 copies when it ships in September, said Deb Brody, the Harlequin executive editor who oversees the nonfiction line from Harlequin's New York office. With her columns in Oxygen, popular Web site, presence on Facebook, and speaking engagements, Reno has a large following. "We just want to capture her fans," Brody said.
Brody called the Reno title "the perfect fit for what we want to do," namely develop "prescriptive" nonfiction for women that falls into such categories as health and diet, self-help, parenting, fitness, and cooking. Harlequin will do 14 nonfiction books this year and expects to up that count to 25 in 2011 before settling in at about 36 titles annually. The company chose to publish its nonfiction line under the Harlequin name rather than create a new imprint for what could be seen as slightly contradictory reasons—the Harlequin name is a well-known brand among women, but the company wanted to establish an identity as more than just a romance publisher.
Harlequin readers are extremely loyal, are frequent visitors to the eHarlequin Web site, and generally receptive to e-newsletters and other material sent by the company's direct-to-consumer division. "We have a devoted customer base, and we want to give them something more" than romance, Brody added. Still, romance authors play a role in the nonfiction line; one of Harlequin's strategies is to extend romance authors into nonfiction. Its biggest nonfiction seller to date has come from romance superstar Debbie Macomber, whose Debbie Macomber's Cedar Grove Cookbook has 150,000 copies in print. A follow-up, planned for next October, is Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook, which features a collection of new and classic holiday recipes. Another bestselling romance author, Susan Wiggs, signed with her fiction editor Margaret O'Neill Marbury to write a memoir with her daughter, How I Planned Your Wedding, that will be released in February 2011. A second memoir that Brody has high hopes for is The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp, which details how Karp, from a dysfunctional family, lost her job and found herself homeless in her mid-20s. Her blogging about her experiences brought media attention, and now she is an advocate for helping homeless people.
All nonfiction frontlist titles are released simultaneously in print and e-book formats, and in 2011 Harlequin will begin to reprint some hardcovers in trade paper (although not Cedar Grove Cookbook, which is still selling well in hardcover). Brody said reception from agents to the nonfiction line has been very encouraging, and she is confident that the publisher will be able to build a program that features a strong frontlist with a deep backlist. "We really intend to be a player in the nonfiction market," Brody said.