Some of my favorite authors write for Avon, which at times I find at odds with my firm belief that there is a certain level of "Avonization" going on over there. I went over to The Avon Author website. Of the 60+ authors listed I've read books by about 40 of them. Of those 40, 9 are autobuys:
- Adele Ashworth
- Rachel Gibson
- Laura Lee Guhrke
- Judith Ivory (it would be nice to have something new soon :)
- Eloisa James
- Mary Reed McCall
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
- Julia Quinn
- Karen Ranney
As readers we have differing reading criteria, some like me read for voice and writing style, some read for story and others prefer a combination. So, what works for me may not work for someone else. I read these authors for their distinct writing styles and voices, I don't always love the story their telling, but I always like how they write. For me this separates them from the other 30 or so Avon authors I've tried. And this is where I think the "Avonization" comes about. Within the historical line there are authors whose books and stories sound too similar, so much so they're writing and stories can seemingly be interchanged with other authors that write historicals for Avon. If Avon put the wrong author's name on the cover I wonder how many people would notice the style or voice is wrong, because we really can't tell them apart. Without a really distinctive voice, writing style or story will these authors languish among the midlist realm?
Here's the thing. Which came first? Does Avon sign them because they are already writing in this style or do Avon editors push them toward this mold? For some reason I don't think the editors push them toward this, because there's enough authors within the group that don't fall into the "Avonization" category. Or are the authors that feel interchangeable actually writing to a glutted Regency/Victorian market? Do they need to write a spectacular or completely different story to get noticed? I ask this because Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesan garnered so much positive and negative attention because it wasn't interchangeable with anything else on the market right now. I've heard good things about Janet Mullany's The Rules of Gentility, and I'm left wondering will it fall into the Avon mold or will it be distinctive and different.