Novellas in the erotica world

Friday, September 22, 2006

Novellas seem to have a unique place in the erotica genre (broadly defined to include erotica and erotic romance in all their assorted flavors). Sure, there are occasional anthologies in other genres, but the vast majority of non-erotica stories are novels in the 70,000 to 100,000 word range.

In the erotica genre, though, the vast majority of the stories seem (in my not even remotely scientific surveys) to be novellas, either as single-story releases or anthologies, electronic or paper. My own collection of manuscripts matches this pattern; I have a bunch of novellas in the works and only a couple longer manuscripts, and those are going to be on the short end of the novel wordcount (closer to 70,000 than to 100,000).

Which leads to my question: why?

I know that it's possible to write (and publish) erotica that's novel length, because there are several quite well-done, widely read examples on the market. But why does that length seem to be the exception, rather than the rule? Why is there the tendency toward novellas and even short stories in this genre?

Is it the subject matter that leads to novellas? Is it reader demand? Publisher demand? Author inclination? The emphasis on an author producing several stories a year to earn a living wage?

And what about you? Do you find yourself more inclined to write erotica in novella-length or novel length, or perhaps a mix of both? Which are you more inclined to read?

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Making Life Easier

Saturday, September 16, 2006

As writers we’re always looking for nifty little tools to help our trade and make our lives easier. One of the problems I have is keeping up with submission calls. Half the time I don’t hear about them until it’s almost over and then I’m scrambling. This is in spite of having just about every press I want to write for bookmarked. You just can’t check them all often enough.

So in the vein of making my life less than insanity I found this nifty little tool: WebMon

It’s freeware (we like free) and so far it’s been easy to use. You open Page from the tool bar and click add and then enter the url of the page you want to monitor. It records the information and then prompts you for how often you want to check for changes (from every minute to once per month). On its appointed schedule it goes out, checks for changes and if website you’re watching has been updated you get a pop up notification on your desk top. One less thing in my life I have to worry about. Now I just need to find a virtual whip to make me write.

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Researching erotica markets

Monday, September 04, 2006

You’ve completed, revised, proofed and had your story beta’ed by the best. Now you want to get your story out to the world and get paid for it. What’s the next step? Research!

Step 1: Research the markets:

For erotica, I think the most complete and up-to-date market listings is Erotica Readers and Writers Association. (http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/AR-Main.htm). They have calls for subs for print books and anthologies, magazines, e-publishers, and online sites. Another is Duotrope, a search engine that can pull up markets for a piece within certain specifications such as pro rates, genre, word count, etc. (http://www.duotrope.com/digest). Story Pilot is another. (http://storypilot.com/)

You can also check genre-specific sites and forums. Romancedivas specializes in male/female romance genres. (http://www.romancedivas.com/) The Erotica Writer’s Forum is a good source of information; most writers there specialize in erotic romantic, especially gay male fiction. (http://veinglory.8.forumer.com/index.php) The Fishtank at Desdmona.com is an online erotica critique group and they also have a calls for subs thread on the forums. (www.desdmona.com) Niche markets like BDSM, kink and other fetishes have their own market listings; you can find them through the websites that specialize in that type of fiction.

Research specific publishers such as Alyson, Cleis, Ellora’s Cave, Penthouse, etc to see their active calls for subs. They’ll often post these on their own sites before they send it out to other sites. Some publishers have an email service for current calls for subs.


Step 2: Analyze the calls for submissions

Erotica publications have a clear vibe because they are often very specialized. Freshmen, the gay men’s magazine, focuses on stories about young men. Penthouse Forum publishes heterosexual stories with the occasional kink involved. Check the publication itself and get a sense of what sells. Many have free online content which is especially helpful for the more esoteric markets. Analyze them! Do all the first sentences have a great hook? Is first-person POV common? Is the main character introduced within 100 words, 50 words, in the first sentence? Do all the stories involve strangers meeting and having sex? Check word count—Ruthie’s Club will take short stories up to 7500 words and serialize longer works. Freshmen won’t look at anything longer than 3000 words.

If you’re subbing to an anthology, pay attention to theme. (Note: an anthology is a group of stories written by different authors. A collection is a group of short stories written by one author). If the call for subs asks for stories about leprechauns then don’t send them a unicorn story. If they want bondage stories about big-busted blondes, don’t send them your tender male/male romance. Editors are often quite specific in their sub calls.

To get more granular about your research, check out the editor him/herself as much as possible. Many of them have their own websites or blogs where story preferences and recent sales are discussed. Check the editor’s previous sales; what kind of stories do they like to write? Chances are they like to read it, too. See if they have a presence on Amazon; there may be info and clues about their preferences there as well. Some post on writer’s forums and message boards, too.

The key to researching a market is more than just reading the publication. By checking out the editors you’ll be subbing to, you may have a better chance of a sale.

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