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Steamy E-Reads: Avon Launches Digital Romance Novel Imprint, Amateurs Welcome

It's time to break out the manuscripts for Avon Impulse, a new digital romance imprint from Avon Books. The imprint launches next week with "A Lady's Wish," an e-novella from popular author Katherine Ashe—but amateurs also have a chance to get in on the action.

The Avon Impulse website provides a simple form for aspiring authors to upload their manuscripts, along with general descriptions and answers to questions like, "What's your best line of dialogue?" and "Post the best scene or the first 1,000 words." The site helpfully suggests popular subgenres, such as steampunk, vampire, ghost, and shifter (who knew werewolves and their ilk so titillated the masses...?).

As paranormal romance writer Amanda Hocking has proven, it is possible to get rich by self-publishing on the Kindle. Avon offers 25% royalties for the first 10,000 copies of each e-book sold, with a 50% rate after that (no advances, however). Authors selected for the imprint will also get the benefits of copyediting and juicy cover art from Avon—although you won't have to cover your e-reader with brown paper if you want to surreptitiously read romances in public—as well as plenty of digital promotion. Meanwhile, Avon will print the books the old-fashioned way if readers order them. And really, isn't Fabio-inspired cover art reason enough to publish with Avon?

Avon explains the reasoning behind the new imprint:

Fewer grocery stores, drug stores, mall stores and superstores are carrying a broad selection of romance titles. While there is a strong consumer market for Avon titles, the channels that we have always depended on to grow new voices and publish broadly are under pressure. Second, the growth of eReaders and e-books have created a new opportunity that allows us to begin increasing the number and diversity of our romance list for the first time in 10 years.

Harlequin launched its own digital imprint, Carina Press, last year. But Carina doesn't offer Avon's ultra-simple submission form. "We've always allowed un-agented submissions. This is just a way of expediting that further," explains Pam Jaffee, Senior Director of Publicity for Avon. Submissions to the Avon Impulse website will be reviewed as both potential paperbacks and digital novels.

Avon Impulse plans to release four or more titles every month. Yours could be one of them.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.