Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An interview with the editor

I thought it might be fun to hear a little bit from the editor of Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons. JoAnne spearheads the team that brings 52 Heartsong titles to readers every year.

Erica: Whether you read or write romance or both, eventually you will find yourself having to defend the genre. What is it about Heartsong books that you feel makes them different from other romances, even other Christian romances?

JoAnne: As for the genre, simply put, you just can’t beat a good love story. God created us to need other people, and stories that show how a man and a woman (who are so very different!) can develop a relationship into becoming one are fascinating and inspiring. With realistic characters and situations and a foundation on biblical Truth, a godly romance story is not just entertaining but can also be valuable for developing and maintaining our own real-life relationships.

I think Heartsongs stand out from other Christian fiction because of our wide audience of readers and the trust they have in our books. They know what to expect from a Heartsong, and they like that. Characters and plots will change and each story will put a little different spin on the classic romance, but when the last page is turned, the reader will be satisfied with another sweet, inspiring love story. I get letters from twelve-year-old girls and ladies in their nineties who love Heartsong, and I am proud that our books are appropriate for them both and every age in between.

Erica: Heartsong books each contain a brief survey about the story for readers to fill out and send in. What are you, as an editor, hoping to garner from the surveys? What is some of your favorite feedback that you have seen via the surveys?

JoAnne: The survey is a great way for me to find out which authors and storylines our readers are enjoying the most. I really appreciate when readers take the time to give specific feedback, positive or negative, because it helps me do my job better and give our readers what they want.

My favorite feedback comes from readers who tell me a book has encouraged or inspired their faith. I often hear from readers who seem to be in hopeless situations and yet our inspiring stories give them that bit of light, that escape from their present circumstances, to encourage them in knowing that there is love and hope in Jesus Christ.

Erica: I know editors sometimes hesitate to answer this question for fear of being flooded with proposals all on one type of manuscript, but what is your favorite thing to read? Do you have a particular era or theme you’re fond of?

I can’t really say that I have a favorite. I truly just like variety, and with 52 Heartsongs published each year, we need it! I love learning something new when I read, and I hope others do, too. I strive to find authors who aren’t afraid of good research and who like to dig up the unique, little-known facts of history or little-known tidbits from today’s world to work into their storyline and provide that new spin on the classic romance.

Erica: I’ve always been curious about the delivery system for Heartsongs. From the time the boxes of books arrive at your warehouse in Ohio to the time they arrive on the reader’s doorstep, what happens to them? Do you have an army of workers packing boxes? Does the book fairy fly in and whisper bippity-boppity-boo and all the books jump into the boxes, properly labeled? How do you ensure the right books get to the right person?

JoAnne: Well, for the specifics, I had to check with Karen Miller, Director of Marketing for Heartsong, and she said: “The books get drop shipped to a local company called Mailer’s Choice from the printer. The employees at Mailer’s Choice box the individual shipments up. Each week we run the list of members that need shipped and send that file to Mailer’s Choice. They print the invoices and insert them into an envelope that gets glued to the outside of the boxes so the address is showing. Every Saturday morning Mailer’s Choice takes the shipments for the week to the Bulk Mail Center in Pittsburgh, PA (this is the closet bulk mail center to us). The shipments get separated out by zip codes and out to mail.”

Erica: Thank you, JoAnne, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for Heartsong readers.
Question of the Day: Is there something regarding Heartsong Presents Romance books that you're curious about?


  1. Hi JoAnne and Erica!

    How many members does the book club have?

  2. Great post. Interesting info about how the books ship. I've never thought about it. I'm honored to be a part of HP.

  3. Oooh! Rose, That's a very good question. I've heard some authors toss out numbers, but it would be better to get it straight from the source.

    Shannon, I'm right there with you. So honored to be part of Heartsong. And I'm always curious about how things work, so the packaging/shipping question has been on my mind for awhile. I hope to someday visit Barbour headquarters.