Wilmington Star-News weighs in on YourNovel.com turning 25

Our thanks to Book Editor Ben Steelman, Wilmington Star-News, for the following on the paper’s blog Bookmarks:

OK, guys — and I know I’m mostly addressing you gentlemen out there — Valentine’s Day is now exactly one week away.

If you haven’t thought of a present or treat for your spouse/fiancée/Significant Other, you’d better do so quick. A pre-made bouquet from the grocery store? Marked–down Whitman’s Chocolates? A 99-cent card with kids’ fingerprints all over it? Doesn’t she (or he) deserve better than that?

How about her very own, personalized romance novel — with her as the heroine and you as the leading man?

That’s her purview of YourNovel.com, an online company run by the husband-and-wife team of Kathy Newbern and J.S. Fletcher, collaborating as “Fletcher Newbern.” The Raleigh-based couple have been doing this together since 1992, which means YourNovel is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“We’re very grateful and very surprised,” Newbern said. “What could be better working together all day with the person you love?”

YourNovel offers 58 different story lines, ranging from straight, romances to historical fiction, mystery/detective yarns,  vampire tales or trysts set in exotic locales around the world. (Newbern and Fletcher, in another corner of their lives, are travel writers who’ve set foot on every continent on the globe.) There’s even a sports category for guys. Everything can be ordered at YourNovel.com.

Customers pick the plot line they like and the format (hardcover, paperback or e-book). They can provide a photo of themselves for the cover, if they like. Then, Newbern and Fletcher collect 25 details about the romantic couple, used to spice up and personalize the text. (Names, eye and hair color, favorite music group, nearest airport, etc. etc.)

“Mild” and “Wild” versions are available; Newbern says the “Wild” books are never graphic and use the normal eupheisms, but she doesn’t recommend them for readers younger than 18.

The YourNovel duo have been featured on NBC’s “Today Show,” People Magazine, USA Today and “The View.” The other day, they were even guests the other day on radios’ “John Boy and Billy” show.  Business has been so good, the couple have hired other writers to ghost new novels such as “Wild West Love Fest.”  (They’re in the market for more contributors and will email submission guidelines upon request.)

Customers run the gamut. Newbern says one gentleman orders a new romance every year for his wife — only the lovers are her and Sean Connery. Another, older gentleman ordered three different novels for three different women. (Newbern was careful to have the copies mailed to his address, to avoid embarrassing mix-ups.)

For your order, you get one, literally one-of-a-kind book. Prices begin at $49.95  for a paperback, $94.95 for a hardbound copy and $14.95 or less for selected e-books. Paperback are generally 170 pages long; hardcovers, 200-plus pages.

Sorry, the deadline just passed for Valentine’s orders this year. You can still order an e-book, or maybe you can plan this as a make-up gift. For more details, email comments@YourNovel.com.

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