Lucy AbarciaLucy Abarcia: Happy EverAfter

After working for 12 years in retail ("and hating the industry I wass in!") Lucy Abarcia decided it was time to take the plunge and start her own business. That was nine years ago, and with 2012 almost upon us - after a year that saw many (much larger) bookstores closing their doors - Lucy's bookstore, EVERAFTER, is thriving. Lucy says it's been an "amazing and eye-opening journey."

She points out that the international romance book industry has changed dramatically in the past 18 months. "With the advent of ebooks and self-publishing, authors, readers and booksellers are being thrust into a completely new world where authors can self-publish their own books (and make lots more money), readers can download books instantly and booksellers are competing with portable reading devices and discount online bookstores," she says.

Lucy with a customerHowever, she is adamant that one thing hasn't changed: the ever-changing face of romance novels. With a constant stream of books arriving in the store (and with plenty of feedback from keen readers) Lucy is in a unique position to know what’s in and what’s not.

"Is it possible to write a novel without having researched the genre?" she asks. "No, it’s not. Aspiring writers must READ their chosen sub-genre. They need to read not only authors that have been around for a gazillion years but new authors too. How else will they be able to write something that’s fresh and unputdownable, if you don’t read current bestsellers?"

Lucy confesses that she gets very excited when she discovers someone new. "In the past few years, there’s been an influx of new authors that we’ve been recommending to customers because of their different take on things," she says. "Just this year, Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series (starting with the awesome Dragon Bound) has taken the paranormal world by storm. They’re fresh, have different creatures and each story has been quite unique. Then there’s Nalini Singh’s PSY/Changeling series (which is my fave series) and Guild Hunter series, J R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series whose paranormal books have been very popular in the past few years.

"Caris Roane’s Ascension, Burning Skies and Wings of Fire have been extremely well received this year (we recommend these to Ward fans) and Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, Christine Feehan, Jacquelyn Frank, Deborah Cooke and Sherrilyn Kenyon are still going strong. These are authors aspiring paranormal writers HAVE to read! If these are too dark, then Kerrelyn Sparks, Sandra Hill, G A Aiken/Shelly Laurenston and Lynsay Sands are a must. They’re lighter reads but very addictive."

EverAfter Pre-Loved books

Lucy was happy to answer a few questions for aspiring romance writers. Here are her responses.

What do you enjoy most about running a romance bookstore?

Oh, that’s easy...for me it’s discovering new authors! I get such a buzz when I read a debut novel and it’s fantastic. I love being able to tell customers about them and it feels great when they later tell me how much they enjoyed it.

You have a large pre-loved section. How does this work - can readers get credit for second hand books?

Yes, they can. Many of our customers don’t have room to keep them or don’t re-read their books, so we get returns on a regular basis and most books come back in almost new condition.

You say you are happy to provide titles to people all over Australia! How many of your orders come in by email?

Approximately 30% of orders come through our website.

How would you say business compares to other bookstores (since so many have closed down)

It has suffered from the high Aussie dollar and the advent of e-books but we have a very loyal, obsessive and regular clientele who keep us in business (and we are very grateful to them!). It helps when you have a niche market too. I don’t think we would have survived if we had been a regular bookstore.

EVERAFTER bookstore kids cornerDo you run social events for customers?

Since we opened, we’ve had a reader’s group which is still going strong. It’s held on the last Saturday of every month and its loads of fun. It’s actually more of a social group where the ladies can come and unwind and just talk about books or chat about their lives. It’s down-time in a comfortable place.

Do you have any advice for romance readers who would like to become romance writers?

Read across the genres! And read a LOT. You’ll never know what you’re missing out on if you don’t read other sub-genres. You may decide to write contemporaries instead of historicals after reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Susan Donovan. And do your research. If you’re going to self-publish, please do it right and think about having your  book published in print format too. Get a good editor and make sure you get a decent cover. A cover will make a huge difference in sales.

What comments can you make about trends in romance fiction?

It’s ever changing! Paranormals are still the most popular but, in the past 18 months, we’ve had a resurgence in historical with some wonderful new authors making their debuts.

Steampunk is supposedly very popular in the US but we’ve yet to see it taking off. Angels, Demons and Male/Male erotica are hot and (would you believe it?) cowboys are huge right now! Linda Lael Miller, Joanne Kennedy, Carolyn Brown and Kat Martin are just some of the authors that readers can’t get enough off. Interest in young adult fiction has died down somewhat but Urban Fantasy is still growing with new authors popping up every month.

Contemporary faves at the moment are Robyn Carr, Nora Roberts, Sherryl Woods, Jayne Ann Krentz and Debbie Macomber. Now, many of these authors have been around for years but they’re popularity is still up there. In romantic suspense, Linda Howard, Pamela Clare, Cindy Gerard, Cherry Adair, Elizabeth Lowell, Shannon McKenna, Lisa Marie Rice (aka Elizabeth Jennings), Tara Janzen, J D Robb, Suzanne Brockmann still rule, and newbie authors to look out for are Maya Banks (with her KGI series), Christy Reece, Stephanie Tyler and Lorie O’Clare to name just a few.

Then there are the lighter romantic comedies by Susan Donovan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Carly Phillips, Susan Andersen, Jill Shalvis, Victoria Dahl, Susan Mallery and my new fave debut author, Tawna Fenske, whose novel Making Waves was hilarious! I will definitely be keeping on eye on her.

clearly labelled sub-genres

As I stated before, Historicals have made a big come back with newish authors such as Sarah MacLean and Kieran Kramer, Joanne Bourne and Courtney Milan bringing fresh, fun as well as dark stories to us. The MUST reads are: Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Loretta Chase, Amanda Quick, Anna Campbell, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, Sabrina Jeffries, Lynsay Sands, Johanna Lindsey and, if you really like Julia Garwood, then you’d have to read Maya Banks’ McCabe brothers trilogy!

Lastly, Erotica authors to read are: Carol Lynne, J L Langley, Kim Dare and G A Hauser, who all write Male/Male erotica. By the way, these are read predominately by women not men (go figure). Lora Leigh, Lorelei James, Shayla Black (aka Shelley Bradley), Opal Carew, Lauren Dane and newbie Olivia Cunning (whose Sinners on Tour novels are sinfully good!) are authors to research .

Any last words...? 

The book industry faces many other changes in the next few years but I feel romance will keep on getting more and more popular as it gets accepted and respected by the masses.

Where is EverAfter?

You'll find Lucy's bookstore right opposite the Crown Gateway parking station (how convenient is that!) in Wollongong. The address is:

EverAfter, Shop 2, 8 Kenny Stree, Wollongong NSW 2500 Australia.
Phone +61 2 4225 7704

Click on the link below to go to their website. 

EverAfter Website

 © Lucy Abarcia & Writing4Success


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