Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Will there ever be a single 'go to' Romance Community? (And which ones do you use?)

Today Diversion Publishing launched a new online romance community.  What the press release lacks is a link to said community, it can be found here. It is meant to be "publisher neutral" and this is reasonably plausible in that Diversion's Ever After Division was been an e-bookstore and services provider, but never home to their own romance titles.

To my eyes the new community website looks deressingly pink, girly, sweaty-torso-ed and... well like a blog.Because,,.  It's a blog. Right? Damn it, I have fallen for another Press Release Puff Job.

Which is a pity because I do think there is a bit of a hole in Romanceandia where a real pan-romance site with forums, wikis, resources etc could fit in.  One is mainstream and business-like, and that swerves around the kitschy low tech populism of the Romantic Times forum, the cloying insularity of Romance Diva's, the dated fading charm of All About Romance....

Or a I being too harsh?  Which romance community sites do you use?  Which would you recommend?

Monday, August 24, 2015

When is a book not a book? (for GST & VAT)

Photo credit: Roberto_Ventre / Foter / CC BY-SA
Australia has just followed the United Kingdom in explicitly not exempting imported e-books or audio-books from goods and services tax (GST).  In both countries conventional hardback and paperback books are exempt from tax as being "activities in the public interest". 

The double standard is fairly obvious. It is based on "intangibility" of format, not the actual function or benefit of the product. It is easier to scrape all digital products together and make a money-grab than uphold the principle of fair and responsible taxation that focuses on the benefits society as a whole.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chicago Teachers Union struggles with the concept of "fiction".

Apparently mistaking BDSM kindle erotica for a hard-hitting [pun intended] documentary, the Chicago Teachers Union is reportedly trying to get "The Teacher's Strike" by Gabby Matthews withdrawn from sale.

I am normally and ardent supporter of both teachers and unions, but in this case The Chicago Teacher Union needs to pull its head out of its collective ass. Pursuing this action will only promote the book and make the union look like humorless prudes with a very weak grasp of the civic principles that they are meant to be teaching to the nation's youth.

The Union hangs their case on the logo appearing on the teacher's shirt on the cover. However the author and publisher can probably easily hide behind the broad cover of parody and satire--if they even need to.

At the end of the day, this is fiction--not someone trying to cause confusion, disparage or divert money that would otherwise go into the union's coffers

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sexting is Good

garryknight / Foter / CC BY
A press release starts with the usual negative tone:

"The practice of sexting may be more common than generally thought among adults. More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention."

I mean how often is the word "admitted" used in relation to good things, or even neutral ones?  But then the actual results of the research are described:

"...the researchers found that greater levels of sexting were associated with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship ... The researchers also found that greater levels of sexting were associated with relationship satisfaction for all but those who identified their relationship as “very committed." 

So, sexting people are more committed to their partners and more happy with their sex life. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

MARKET Nightchaser Ink

Nightchaser Ink is seeking submissions in several genres including romance and erotica.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Why Romance Covers Look So Formulaic

A recent article by An Goris is either rather clever, or a very complicated way of stating the obvious.  I'll let you decide.  You can read the whole thing here.*

Goris describes how romance covers are deliberately made to look superficially the same to the general public (e.g. semi-naked clinch) but include subtle differences that romance readers can decode (e.g. gal in leather pants means paranormal). (A "double semiotic code")

She goes on to say how the generic features are necessary for non-romance readers to distribute, acquire and generally support the delivery of romance from the people who make it to those who read it, by those who don't give a crap about it.  And these cues have to be very unsubtle because romance fiction is sold not only in bookstores but a wide variety of other general retailers.

Because these deliverers of product are not interested in, or educated about, genre romance the cover art has to be very uniform and overt for them to get the message. And this in turn creates and reinforces the general impression of romance as "...formulaic, overly sexualized and more than a little ridiculous" and gives an impression of low quality** assembly line production. Especially as non-romance readers are not able to decode the subtle variations that indicate what is distinctive about each title.

So basically the argument is that the clich├ęd and repetitive part of romance covers that the general public disdain, are made that way because the general public does not understand anything more subtle--and romance fiction requires these people to understand how to transport, stock and sell it.  While romance readers benefit from the publishers ability to encode nuanced detail on top of this standard template.

Or as this is phrased in academic-speak***: "...far from being a random or coincidental effect, this semiotic pattern is a deliberate strategy ... public intelligibility of its material code is an important consideration for a book that circulates in a wide variety of cultural and commercial spaces..."

* "Hidden Codes of Love: The Materiality of the Category Romance Novel" by An Goris
** See: Romance, gender, and the measure of a 'real book'
*** (Because while romance needs to be easily recognized to be effectively traded, academia only respects maximally pretentious phraseology.)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Gemstone Romance backer Graeme Reynolds believes in the author blacklist

The idea that authors can get blacklisted for sharing their thoughts online is generally treated as a myth.  But it does serve a useful purpose in that you sometimes find small presses, usually start ups, who do believe in it.  And these are publishers to avoid.

Case in point, Gemstone Romance

A poster by the name of Anne noted that "Horrified Press" was not looking particularly promising as "newish startup without publishing/editing experience".  And that they seemed to be associated with another startup, Gemstone Romance.

Graeme Reynolds replied with more information about Horrified press and "Gemstone Romance is a separate entity, which I am funding and am applying the Horrific Tales business model to, but is being run by Charlotte Courtney. I am simply providing financial, technical and business support to the venture. It will use a different editorial team..."

He then added: "Also, a word of advice to Anne, who wrote this post. Probably not the best move to make when trying to get business from a publisher. Consider yourself off the shortlist for Gemstone Romance. Best of luck in whatever you do next."

Which both seriously undermines his claim of total editorial independence between Horrified and Gemstone, and is some grade-A unprofessional passive aggressive bullshit. Time will tell if he decides to try and backfill that hole or just keeps digging.