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Coffeetime Romance Interviews Noble Romance Publishing CEO Jean Marc Gombart, May 2013:

As many people in the industry know, the past year has wrought many changes at Noble Romance. Some have been discussed publicly in very negative ways, so we are here today to discuss in real terms the changes being made at Noble and what new opportunities are being offered to the authors there.

Mr. Gombart, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Perhaps a good place to start is the decision to have you step into the position of CEO at Noble Romance Publishing.

What was the general state of operations when you were asked to take control of the company in an effort to stabilize it and put it back on track? Many people feel there was no need to make changes at all; what are your feelings about this, and how would you reply to that charge, Mr. Gombart?

First, I would like to thank you, Ms. Bridger, for the opportunity to talk about Noble Romance and its realities. You are very gracious to give me this time.

When Ms. Jill Noble left to pursue another opportunity, this was a good time to redirect Noble Romance, which had reached a plateau. It was doing fine, but was not growing as much as possible because of multiple challenges. I created a graphic and visual identity by working with one artist only, the very talented Fiona Jayde. I have recreated the cover art for a more consistent and smoother appearance. I have identified and implemented a style for the paperbacks, which makes a smoother and more economical read for our audience. The changes implemented allow Noble Romance to move to, and beyond, the next plateaus.

How far into your restructuring plan is Noble at this time, and how effective have the initial implemented changes been so far?

I do want to clarify something here. We have not restructured Noble Romance. It was, and is, a viable company. What I have done is to implement new processes and streamline existing ones. After three months of development and a total of ten months of my leadership, we are a little over halfway there. The initial implementation is apparent in our professional, tight team, which is international in scope, and with full communication among and between all Noble staff. As a result, all the work, from submissions to publication, is getting done more efficiently.

Do you believe that Noble Romance Publishing is presently a viable and reliable publishing house in which authors can place their work with confidence and trust?

Noble Romance has always been a viable and reliable publisher. Part of our new process is that the scope of works we now accept has changed. Because of that change, and to continue the experience of having award-winning authors, we seek out and publish stories we can confidently submit and support for awards. For example, we have had e-books nominated for TRR and other e-book genre awards; in paperback, Michael McCarty, "I Kissed A Ghoul" and Charles Day, "The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief" for the annual Bram Stoker Awards, and recently, Gayle C. Krause, "Ratgirl: Song of the Viper" for the Boston Globe Horn Book YA award. We have also just published two novels that we will be nominating for The Lambda Awards later this year. Our Submissions Editor Erika Galpin has a keen sense of story and is able to weed out many inferior submissions.

Also, the changes implemented in cover art and professional formatting, because I recently hired Tamara Cribley to control that area, mean we now have a clear stylistic preference, which leads to a reader experience which is not compromised, and supports a positive reaction.

Finally, we have one person, Casey Harris, fully dedicated to marketing and promotion. Our authors receive her support and attention from the time they are assigned to one of our editors throughout the publishing process.

Do you have a long-term plan to expand production over time, and continue with fiscal growth that will benefit authors and Noble? Ideally, where do you see Noble in five years in terms of being a stable and viable publisher in the industry?

Because Noble was and is a stable and viable publisher, we do not have to change any basic procedures. We are continuing, however, to increase and expand quality in the writing we accept and in our production. For example, we have just brought in a new editor to work with Bonnie Walker and Mary Harris, our long-term editors, and we are interviewing several more. Over time, this investment in scope, submissions, editing, formatting, and production will have an economic impact, and Noble Romance will be even more profitable than in the past.

Many authors are concerned with communications and editorial trust. How would you respond to those concerns if/when asked about the quality of work expected in rebranding Noble Romance in the publishing industry?

I'm not sure what you are speaking of. It is a difficult question to answer, because I do not see any systemic or editorial issues at all at Noble Romance. As with any publishing company, there may be sporadic communications miscues, but that is human nature. As for non-factual communications, which would be something other than "I need to know if I can do a 'cover reveal' before my book comes out," or, "Will I be published in paperback as well as an e-book?", or, "What is my exact pub date?", I have made the decision to publish when the story is ready, rather than assign a date which may be missed because of author or editor illness, for example. I believe a successful company must focus on doing what it is supposed to do, rather than spend time communicating over non-issues.

How large a percentage of Noble’s current authors are new, and how many have chosen to continue to support the company through the inevitable period of transition?

80% of our current authors are new. But we continue to work with all our authors as long as they continue to write great stories. Even if an author chooses to blog, or promote their works, or not write for whatever reason, we promote their existing works and will welcome their new submissions.

If asked why an author should consider publishing with Noble Romance, what would your response be?

Our acceptance of only quality work is enormously advanced now. Our new authors are on board with Noble Romance, willing to work hard, and are very talented. Because the quality has risen greatly, our editors do not have to spend as much time on the basics of writing and can work with authors on whatever substantive editing may be needed. Our editors also spend a lot less time in the edit process, because it is no longer so much of a teaching time as it is a developmental time. Our authors are award-worthy, as I discussed in the answer to Question #3, above. Our marketing and promotion are ramping up daily. Noble Romance has an international staff, from New Zealand to San Francisco, and our authors are international as well. I have refined our production to the point where our e-books and paperbacks are of consistent quality and style, with higher standards from paperback binding all the way to narrative. And we are going beyond romance! That will always be the standard by which our Sub Editor chooses stories—there must be romance in life! But we entertain works which are also a more literary telling of the stories of love.

In conclusion, is there anything that you would like people to know that we haven’t covered in the interview at this point?

Yes, if I may talk a little bit about myself? I am a businessman, not an author or an editor. My judgment will never be swayed by creative or emotional distress. I consider the best fiscal choices for the company, and for the authors. As a multi-cultural man with broad professional exposure to many types of businesses all over the world, I know that publishing companies obey the same economic rules as any other company. During a solid academic training, and as a graduate of the Sorbonne, I have been for many years in daily contact with very bright, intellectual, literary people, most of whom are psychologists, authors, philosophers, biophysical researchers, all creative persons. Because of my background and my personal taste for all kinds of literature, I am able to use my professional training to continue to make Noble Romance even more successful.

And I thank you for giving me your time and attention.

Thank you again, Mr. Gombart, for your time and insight.






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