Romance author Covington hasn’t been publishing for very long—her first book, A Night of Southern Comfort (Entangled), came out in June 2012—but already she’s made her mark on the genre. With 19 books behind her, including several self-published titles, she was recently nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for One Little Kiss, a self-published novella. We spoke with Covington about hedging her bets as a writer, the benefits of traditional publishing and self-publishing, and the importance of diversity in the romance genre.

You turned to self-publishing, beginning with your 2014 novel Temptation, after you’d already published with Entangled. Why did you decide to begin self-publishing?

It was a control issue for me. I love writing for Entangled. But I’d heard stories from people who said that suddenly their publishers didn’t want to buy their books anymore, or that the editors they’d been working had left their houses, and that they were left adrift. I’m an attorney; I look for future problems and try to prevent them. I thought there might come a time, in this roller-coaster of publishing, when I would need to do this for myself. I wanted to learn to do it now, rather than later. I didn’t ever want to be in a situation where an external person completely controlled my writing career.

What, to your mind, are some of the benefits of self-publishing?

There are things I can write in my indie career that I can’t write for Entangled. Currently, for Entangled, I write what’s called category romance. A reader can say, “If I get a book from Entangled’s Indulgence line, it’s going to feature an alpha male who’s very successful.” We have a lot of flexibility within those guidelines to write whatever kind of book we want, but there are those guidelines. With Temptation, I wanted to write a book where the power dynamic was different. The heroine was the vastly successful, world-renowned country singer, and the hero was the firefighter. So, I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for Entangled.

You recently spoke with USA Today about diversity in romance. Do you think self-publishing allows for a greater variety of stories?

I think it does. Traditional publishing is seeing that it needs to bring in more diversity. It’s a large business. You can’t turn a destroyer in the ocean on a dime; it takes a while to turn that big ship around. [There’s an idea] that “diverse romance” is a genre, which it’s not. We should have every kind of book under every subgenre be diverse. We write books that tell people that everyone deserves love. We all deserve it, no matter what you look like, no matter who you love, no matter what your ability level is. I think you can find a lot more of that in indie publishing right now, but I think traditional publishing is going that way.

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