A Farewell to Carina Press

Many of you have seen the official announcement by now, but for some of you this may be new. As of today, I’ll no longer be working with Harlequin/Carina Press. Due to restructuring, both my position and that of Joanne Grant, Editorial Director of Series, have been eliminated. I was just informed Tuesday morning, so as you can imagine, I still also have a lot to process and figure out! It’s definitely a grieving process, in many ways, and not many easy answers, as often is the case when you’re grieving.

I can’t say a lot about this, for many reasons, and while I know many of you will have a lot of questions and concerns about what happens next for Carina, your books, your contracts, I’m afraid I’m not privy to those details. I wish I could offer some insight and help alleviate any concerns because my love for the program and the authors didn’t suddenly die overnight, and I know a big change like this creates a lot of anxiety for authors.

However, Kerri Buckley and Stephanie Doig are still in place and I know they’ll do the best they can to answer questions and keep things moving forward. If you have questions, please do reach out to them, or to Dianne Moggy, who will head up Carina. Don’t be afraid to make personal contact with any of them and ask questions, but please be kind, as they’re still working through their own shock and other feelings.

So while there’s not many questions I can answer, what I can talk about are the positive feelings I’m going away with. Maybe consider this my final love letter to Carina Press, my passion project for the last decade.

Getting hired at Harlequin always felt like a little bit of a dreamstate after growing up watching my mom, my grandmother, my aunts read Harlequin after Harlequin. Being invited into this company I held up as an ideal, to create something I was passionate about, it was a definite dream realized. An idea conceptualized by Eleanor Elliott, Malle Vallik, and the late Aideen O’Leary-Chung turned into a reality. And I feel pretty great about the program we built over the past 10 years and the program I’m leaving behind. We, as a team, though the team morphed and changed over the decade, built something really cool. Starting the first digital publisher within a traditional publisher was never going to be easy. And it was never easy. It was always challenging, but amazing and satisfying. We got the opportunity to shape things, follow the market, jump ahead of “trends” and reader demand and publish just amazingly great books. We did that, and we did it successfully, even where others tried and struggled. We did that and I am proud of it.

And when I see people talk about the diversity and inclusion we’ve been building the past years at Carina Press, I’m pretty damn proud of my editorial team–of Kerri Buckley and Stephanie Doig and I–who came together and agreed that Carina needed to be a more inclusive publisher and that this was what publishing should be, so we would lead the way in whatever ways were possible within our own imprint. And we built strategy and we executed on it and we put 100% of our hearts, passion, belief and sometimes sheer stubborn insistence behind it and we made it happen, from our freelance team to the list we built and the authors and books we fell in love with and offered contracts to. We didn’t just talk about it, we did it. And we led the way behind the scenes in other ways, as well.

For two years, I worked with an absolutely incredible, knowledgeable, passionate multi-department team to create an editorial DEI toolkit to help editors learn and understand, and that team taught me so much in the two years and pushed me to be a more informed, more aware, better person, and they pushed me to be a good leader, both on that project and outside of it. I don’t know how that project will be utilized now but I hope it helps both editors and authors have a better editorial experience with a better understanding of what diversity and inclusion can/should be on page. It’s a constant learning process, and every resource helps.

What I do know is that I’m leaving Harlequin with a legacy of creation, of getting things accomplished, being outspoken in what I believe in, in speaking up when speaking up needed to be done, in knowing that publishing needs to do better, and in using my resources to build an imprint to be proud of. I can’t regret any of that. I love what I’m leaving behind and I hope it only gets bigger and better without me.

So I don’t regret any of that but I do regret many other things. That I won’t get to see Carina Adores launch or be a part of announcing the incredible books we’d already acquired. I won’t get to be a part of the release of so many titles I’ve been excited about for months (but I promise I will still support them on social media!) and I won’t get the opportunity to help build the talented authors on our list. I’m leaving behind many authors I work with directly, and their future books that I won’t get to edit. I’m sad to be saying goodbye to an absolutely fantastic, talented group of freelance editors who worked with us. I’m parting ways from a marketing partner who was more than my co-worker, she was always my cheerleader and my dear friend, and not having her in my work corner is going to be tough.

And I’m absolutely devastated to no longer be able to say I manage the best editorial team in the publishing world. Being allowed to have the privilege of managing two of the most dedicated, hard-working editors in the business, who I could assign any project or task and they would find a way to get it done, and get it done to perfection, was my absolute pleasure and joy. In our years of being a team, we worked so smoothly together, even when we disagreed, and we enjoyed each other as people so much, that it will be a hard transition away from that working camaraderie. Kerri, Stephanie, thank you so much for being awesome and making my job easier. I’ll see you on Slack!

So, ten years later, here I am, still in love with Carina Press, but saying goodbye and moving on. Some of you have already asked me “what’s next” and the only answer I have is that I’m going to take this opportunity and spend some time doing summer with my family. All of this will mean a lot of changes for my family, and we’re going to take some time to enjoy our right now, because we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to do so.

After that? I don’t have any plans. I’m just honestly not sure what comes next. I know that my skills have value–I’m a great people leader and manager, I can not only plan strategy but actually execute it, I’m a damn fine editor, I’m a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, and even when things are overwhelming, I can still find the positives in the hard situations. But as we all know, publishing is a tough, tough business and I’m just one of many skilled people who’ve found themselves without a job in the past years, so I’m not sure just yet where my place in the industry is but I’m going to be working to find it.

In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have sent me messages of disbelief, love, support and offers of help. Times like this shine a light on the kindness of others, and your outreach does help make this less painful, so thank you. And a special love-filled thanks to my close friends who have been there for me this week with texts, emails, calls, and a full range of emotions on my behalf.

As a small side note, I’m still contemplating attending RWA (though let’s all agree NYC in the summer is kind of gross!) It’s possible I will end up there, if I can make it work, so if you’d like to meet, please reach out and we’ll see if we can make a time happen! Seeing and talking with people in this industry is still the best thing about RWA!

I can still be reached at my personal email: angelajameseditor@gmail.com or b4youhitsend@gmail.com and it would be remiss of me not to remind people that Before You Hit Send, my writing and self-editing workshop, is still mine and it’s still going, and it’s still really awesome, so please tell your friends, register for it, gift it or, you know, now my schedule is suddenly free and I’d be happy to come and present it to your chapter or writing workshop in person. www.angelajames.co 

Thank you, all of you. Stay tuned for what comes next on this rollercoaster!

Angela James

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