Sunday, April 29, 2007
Today I read a forum post by a romance writer who gave up an extra $60,000 a year to stay in a job that allowed her to keep writing. I am currently negotiating to take up a job opportunity that will earn me a lot more money and probably cut back on my writing time (although not eliminate it). For the first time in my life I look forward to being able to give up raman noodles for good, maybe even rent a place with more than two rooms and shop in real boutiques. In affect some aspects of my lifestyle will improve and others will shrink--writing time likely being something I will lose. We all make these choices, but that's what they should be--careful, rational choices based on explicit goals.
I had long ago noticed that most fiction writers do not earn their complete living from this activity. Full time fiction writers do exist, but the majority even of full time writers either write in various trade/non-fiction venues as well as fiction, or are a member of a household supported by other income/s. Part time writing seems to be the norm either with simultaneous outside or in-home employment or alternating periods writing and periods in other employment. In e-publishing the earnings are typically lower and these tendencies (to be subsidised by other sources of income) are greater. There is typically a balance between writing for money and writing (as ralan.com says) '4theluv'.
In niche writing there is a full range for those selling a few books that struggle to reach double figure sales in an average year, to those who write for high turnover epublishers or large print presses (still a tenuous proposition if your household does not have other more reliable sources of income). There is also, in my opinion, a largely uncorrelated range of conduct from fully professional to thin-skinned hobbyist (some seem to confuse the role of a publisher with that of a clan or a cult). Those who earn the most are not always those who conduct themselves well. But worst of all, there are publishers who take advantage of writers driven by a desire to write and who are willing to overlook that fact that their earnings are slim to none. I continue to see writers strongly promoting epublishers whose typical first month sales are less than 10 copies. They may be writing 4theluv, but those taking their advice re: who is the very best epublisher out there might actually be in it for the money. You can't assume that what someone else considers great sales would be in anyway acceptable to you!
I would be interested in hearing from you all regarding how you balance writing with paying the total household bills. Certainly we need to get a simple living wage from somewhere, then comes the balancing act--writing is not the most efficient way for most people to earn money and those with other saleable skills may end up effecitively 'paying' to write. Are you investing the time in writing needed to 'break through' and write full time, or have you reached an acceptable balance right now? Is money just not an issue and you just want to reach the largest possible readership or obtain the affirmation that others will pay for your work?
My position is that I am not currently seeking large press publication, although I may look into that next year. I still feel it is important to have clear a priori financial goals to ensure I profit acceptably from my writing rather than just being 'farmed' by a publisher for their own benefit. I decided the acceptable level in advance based on my own goals and values. I do not write full time and need not strive for a living wage but I still looked around for a defintion of 'professional' pay rates. I opted for a common dividing line used to define professional level payment--3c a word, I seek this level of payment for each piece within two years of initial publication. I track my stats, I continue to write for publications that deliver this payback. I will gamble on new publishers occassionally, but not as a habit.
This approach allows me to have a professional perspective on an activity that I can normally devote only an hour a day to, often less. Other people take other approaches and other goals but for me it is very important to see my writing as something I do professionally, without needing to do it as a profession.
Sometimes I write for leisure, to support my genre or to communicate a certain point. But in these cases where I do not intend to profit I do not send the work to profit-driven enterprises but offer it to non-profit publications such as the M/M zine Forbidden Fruit. If no one profits, no one is exploited. And that is probably my point. Things that are written only for love, should be published for the same reason. To the extent something is written for money, it should earn money--and to the extent it is written well, it should be published well. And, given the number and range of presses available out there, it is very important that we don't sell ourselves short ...and that is what this website it meant to be all about.
I hope to hear you own thoughts and experiences about balancing the motivations of money and love.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Illinois high school student Allen Lee was encouraged by his English teacher to write an emotional essay, casting aside all restraint and embracing extremes and exaggeration. In these times it is perhaps not surprising that the theme he chose was drugs, violence and even attacks on schools. His work was explicit and disturbing, using the full writing abilities of a dedicated honor-roll student with a 4.2 grade point average.
In these times is it also not surprising that the English teacher in question notified the principal. Although the essay mentioned no specific people, places and or times it was disturbing and explicit. The teen, while intelligent, apparently lacked the inbuilt cynicism most kids have when it comes to following teachers' instructions to the letter. And, well, these days it probably behooves school administrators to be vigilant and proactive. It wouldn't hurt to ensure that Allen Yee was writing creatively as instructed, not expressing some very well-disguised desires beneath the honor-student, future marine persona.
What is surprising it that the police were approached and opted to charge Allen Yee with disorderly conduct--arresting him off a public street and taking the 18-year-old into custody. They are in effect not only making the student criminally culpable for his teacher's reaction to his writing--but implying that he desired and wrote specifically to get that reaction. This seems wildly implausible and frankly a terrifying prospect for ayone who writes contraversial material. Disorderly conduct is a charge aimed at people who carry out dangerous pranks that cause public panic and endanger others.
Fictional work certainly can be used as an indicator that person may need further analysis and psychological support. But it is in no way a good indicator on its own, and in no case is prosecution on the sole basis of creative writing a sensible or sane reaction. I wish Allen Yee all the best in defending himself and hope his year is not too badly disrupted by being forced to attend school elsewhere. I also hope the marines accept him as planned once the legal case is resolved; he had after all already undergone and passed their own psychiatric evaluations with flying colors. But one of the lessons of this, his graduating year, is to realise that our promised freedoms are always under threat and authority figures' instructions must always be considered with a degree of distrust and caution.
And the relevance of this to erotic writing? I think the idea of criminalising writing and holding writers responsible for reader reactions is fundamentally important regardless of the content in question. As they say about allowing others freedoms to be eroded: ...and then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Well, no real thoughts or news to share so here is something a bit random. Google fights:
Erotica Versus Romance
Romance also beats 'pornography' and 'porn', go figure.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Thanks to Jules Jones for drawing my attention to this interview with Loose Id's Doreen DeSalvo which draws attention to the fact that starting a successful epublisher requires experience, planning, money, and did I mention planning?
And I quote: "We spent over eight months developing the Loose Id name, our business plan, our reader and author community, our branding, and our Web site before we sold a single book. We invested a lot of time in hiring the best editors, wooing a solid stable of launch authors, soliciting manuscripts, and interviewing cover artists."
I am currently revising the list of erotic romance epublishers. Quite a few new ones but I suspect I will be moving many of them down to the dead markets section by the end of the year.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
"The way to write effective sex is not to write it any differently than anything else."
Posted merely to say: hear, hear.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Erotic Authors Association will cease taking membership requests at the end of April and will re-open in August.
After eleven years and publication of great books including the excellent sci fi/romance Liaden series by Lee and Miller Meisha Merlin will be closing due to distribution problems.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I stumbled upon some helpful sites recently and thought I'd share.
~Shanna Germain has an excellent series of short columns about writing up at Erotica Readers & Writers Association. This month she's talking about The Rest of the Sex Story: Writing Description, Action and Dialogue, which includes examples from her own writing, clear explanations, and a few supporting links. Highly recommended.
~I recently had to write a synopsis and my pantser self was cringing big time. Luckily I'd been digging into the editing posts at Samhain Publishing's blog and found a link to Lisa Gardner's lecture series, Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis. She also addresses the equally dreaded query letter in this lecture, and I used some of the tips for an epub query. I did, however, ignore pointer #7, which went something like, "Don't mention controversial topics such as homosexuality, etc." For the pub I was targeting, this was front and center ;)
~And finally, I saw a link to a short essay on style by Kurt Vonnegut, posted at The Fish Tank. Nothing like a little reminder on how to keep our voices fresh. Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut, and may you rest in peace.
Thanks to everyone who commented on last weeks post, WIP Wars. I've decided to take everyone's advise and concentrate on the Pyrokinesis story, instead of the vampire one. Here's a little glimpse of Pyromancer for your viewing pleasure.
(c) 2007 Amanda Young
Joe Ryder sat in the dark, his fist slowly stroking his swollen cock. His gaze was riveted on the flickering television screen. On it, two men were in the final throws of orgasm, the butch top spraying come all over the younger man’s upturned face. It was a hot scene, one that never failed to get him off. Until tonight.
The movie ended and the credits began to roll across the screen. With a disgusted huff, Joe released his semi-hard shaft and reached for the remote control lying next to him on the bed. He hit stop on the DVD player and turned off the TV, plunging his bedroom into darkness. His pulse pounded in his ears, the only noise to be heard in the silent house, as his frustration mounted.
It’d been over six months since the last time he’d gotten laid. Since the last time he’d taken a chance and risked being with someone else. It hadn’t gone so well—a fucking disaster really— with the end result testing his rigid self-control almost past the limits of his endurance.
The guy he’d picked up and brought home had taken offense at being asked to leave right after they’d fucked and had thrown a temper tantrum, refusing to leave. Not something he’d expected from a six foot, body builder who’d claimed he was only interested in a good time. By the time Joe forcibly removed the man from the property, his body temperature was dangerously high and his head was spinning. After that close call, he’d decided it was too dangerous to indulge in one night stands, which left him with little options other than his own left hand. Especially since he already had a self-imposed rule against becoming emotionally attached to anyone he fucked. Mixing emotions and sex fucked with the most normal person’s head. For him and whomever he got involved with, it could mean much more than a broken heart. It could be deadly.
Security lights from outside filtered through the mini-blinds covering his bedroom window in sporadic spurts of light, briefly illuminating his damp and sweaty body lying atop tangled, white cotton sheets. He kicked at them, unraveling himself.
Irritated with himself and his lot in life, Joe sat up. He leaned back against the cool brass headboard and flipped on the bedside lamp. His gaze flittered down to the big, red numbers on his alarm clock. Almost midnight.
Restless and exasperated, he couldn’t sleep. He picked up yesterday’s newspaper off the side table and spread it out over his lap. Since jerking off wasn’t going to work for him, maybe he could bore himself to death by reading the paper. It was worth a shot. Losing sleep made his control over his curse temperamental.
Page by page, Joe skimmed over the paper, until he reached the personal ads. Those babies were like the funny pages to him. Why someone would put an ad in the newspaper, hoping for a good outcome, was beyond his comprehension. Only the fugly and desperate sunk to that level of desperation.
He read over a few ads, laughing, until a small square down on the bottom, right-hand corner that caught his eye. It was an advert for an escort agency. One that claimed to cater to men of his persuasion: gay men looking for nothing more than a hot body to warm their lonely beds.
The agency, Male Companions, promised anonymity and, more importantly, clean bills of health for all their available staff. He never fucked anyone without a rubber, so it was a bit of a moot point, but the words comforted him somehow.
Before Joe realized his intent, the cordless phone was in his hand, his fingers tapping out the number. A feminized male voice answered, saying, “Thank you for calling, Male Companions. Nigel speaking. How may I help you?”
Joe opened his mouth to speak and froze. What the hell was he doing? He did not want to pay for sex. Doing so went against every moral he had. He clicked the off button, hanging up.
He exhaled, relieved that he’d come to his senses before doing something he knew he would regret later. His gaze wandered over his bedroom, hovering on the 52 inch plasma TV, the only other thing in there besides his bed and nightstand. Not a single picture or piece of artwork marred the clean lines of the bare, white walls. Whereas before the stark sterility of his home appeared simple and clean to him, it now felt barren and depressing.
His hands shook as he picked up the phone and redialed the number.
Tanner O’Bannon sat slumped over his kitchen table, trying to balance his checkbook. Money was tight, his balance down to just above two bucks, but at least he wasn’t in the negative anymore. He couldn’t afford the outrageous overdraft fees the bank charged. The last two had forced him to eat Ramen noodles for a month. If he never saw another noodle in his life, it would be too soon.
Tanner’s eyes blurred as he ran through the figures once last time, before flipping the checkbook closed. He folded his arms and laid his head on the cool surface of the mahogany table between them. He was exhausted, but needed to stay awake for just a little longer. On call for work until three am, he couldn’t afford to fall asleep and miss a single phone call. He needed the money too bad to risk losing his job, even if it was one he was ashamed of. Necessity overruled pride.
With heavily-lidded eyes, Tanner jerked his head up and shook it, trying to force himself to stay alert. He rose to his feet and walked over to the sink and splashed icy water on his cheeks. As he mopped his face with a clean dishtowel, the phone rang. He didn’t know whether to be happy or sad about it. On the one hand, it meant money; on the other, degradation. His father would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what his only son was doing to pay the debts he’d left behind.
Tanner crossed the room and picked up the phone. He listened for a moment and then set it back in the cradle, before jogging up the stairs. Upstairs, he hopped into the shower and quickly scrubbed himself from head to toe with citrus scented body-wash. He stepped out and yanked a dry towel off the rack, briskly rubbing it over his hair and skin while he fumbled through a drawer under the sink for the lube and butt plug he’d stashed there.
He squeezed a dollop of lube into his hand and ran it over the plug, liberally coating its short length in moisture. He reached behind to swipe the remaining moisture through the creases of his ass. The toy in hand, he leaned over the toilet and braced his other on the back of the commode. He spread his legs shoulders width apart and took a deep breath, trying to relax his muscles as he pressed the blunt rubber tip against his asshole. Due at the motel in thirty minutes, there was no time to finesse it inside. He exhaled and shoved it home, wincing at the sharp burn of muscles stretching.
The things you had to do to make a buck, Tanner thought, as he grabbed the washcloth he’d used in the shower and wiped off the excess lube around the wide base of the plug. He dropped it in the sink and headed into his bedroom to dress.
It was time to go to work.
Waiting inside the modest motel room he’d rented for the night, Joe glanced at his watch for the umpteenth time. Perched on the end of the bed, his sock clad toes tapped an unsteady rhythm on the cheaply carpeted floor, his body practically vibrating from nervous anticipation.
He was nervously trying to figure out what would happen once the escort showed up. Payment for the guy’s services had already been rendered over the phone—apparently even hookers took American Express these days—so at least he didn’t have to worry about having that conversation. Things would be awkward enough for him as it was.
More pertinent, was how things would play out. Was he supposed to strip and get right down to business as soon as the guy got there, or make small talk first? Would he inadvertently break some kind of silent rule if he asked the man anything personal? Could they even exchange more than first names? How would they decide who did what to who? He wasn’t stupid enough to think that the escort would turn down anything he asked for, but would it be possible for him to tell if the guy really wanted to do it or not? Was it just a job for him, a way to make a buck, or would he really enjoy it? The thought of fucking someone who just laid there and went through the motions repulsed him.
So many unanswered questions floated around in his head that he was beginning to get a headache. Sweat beaded his brow and his knees began to canter up and down. Maybe it wasn’t too late to cancel. He could call. Whether they refunded him his money or not was of no concern. They could keep it; he had more than he’d ever be able to spend anyway.
He didn’t think he could go through with this after all. It seemed too cold, too impersonal. A little voice in the back of his mind screamed, “That’s the point, jackass. You need cold and impersonal. Do you really want to grow attached to someone else and take a chance on losing control again, like you did before? Do you want to be responsible for someone else’s death?”
That thought chilled him. Joe forcibly shut down his memories before they transported him back to a time and place he didn’t want to visit. He pushed away his reservations and tried to consider why he’d called Male Companions in the first place.
He was lonely. Though he didn’t like to admit it, even to himself, it was the truth. The friends he’d made over the years, at both work and the firehouse where he volunteered, only went so far. During the day, he was fine. It was at night, after a long day at work or returning from an emergency fire call, that the loneliness crept in and haunted him.
He realized that this wasn’t even about sex, not solely. Sure, he wanted to get off, but what he really needed most was simple human contact, companionship. Sadly, that was the single thing he could never allow himself to possess. Attachments meant caring about someone, making himself vulnerable to a person he couldn’t control. In essence, losing control himself. That wasn’t something he could ever allow.
Joe took several deep calming breaths. He could do this. He had to. There weren’t any other options left for him. It was anonymous sex or nothing. Though he doubted it, all he could do was hope it would be enough to sustain him.
Tanner arrived at the motel with five minutes to spare. Town had been dead, not a car in sight on his way over. A good thing since old Bessie—his ten year old Mazda—had sputtered and died twice during the trip across town. It was only a matter of time before the old clunker finally gave out for good.
Part of him wished he’d hung onto his dad’s car, instead of selling it when his father was killed six months prior, but at the time he’d needed the money even more desperately than he did now. The debts his father left behind were astronomical. Even after he’d sold off everything of value besides the house itself, he still hadn’t brought in enough to cover half of what was owed. Hence, the reason for his shady new career.
For the last four months he’d been working nights for Male Companions as an escort. Selling his body to the highest bidder wasn’t the most respectable line of work, but he hadn’t known what else to do. It wasn’t like he could make enough to cover his college tuition and pay the mortgage, along with making payments on all of the other debts his father left on his shoulders, without resorting to something nefarious. He supposed he could have sold drugs; he knew enough small time dealers that he could have easily bought a little pot and divided up for resale.
Unfortunately, his conscience wouldn’t allow him to do that. Drugs killed people and no matter how often his buddies tried to convince him marijuana never hurt anyone, he just couldn’t quite believe them. A drug was a drug, plain and simple. Having sex for money, degrading as it was, didn’t hurt anyone besides himself. Besides, it wasn’t like he hadn’t had his share of casual sex along the way, just like everyone else. The only difference now was that he got paid for doing it.
Or so he tried to convince himself as he hustled through the motel lobby toward the service desk. Though he’d been told which motel to go to and given a name, he hadn’t been given a room number. Which meant he had to go to the desk and ask, something he dreaded every time he was forced to do it. He always imagined the clerk who waited on him knew exactly who he was and why he was there. It was humiliating.
He rang the bell and waited, tapping his fingers on the hard surface of the beige counter. A bored looking blonde, somewhere around his own age of twenty, sauntered out the back room, long, blood red fingernails plastered over her widely yawning mouth. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. “Oh, hello.” She smiled. “Can I help you?”
Tanner groaned inwardly. He was used to being hit on by women, but that didn’t make him any more comfortable with it. “I’m supposed to meet a friend here.” Damn, what was the name he been told to ask for again? John… or Joe? “His name is, um, Joe, Joe Smith.” God, he hoped that was right. The last name was easy. It was always Smith. People had no imagination.
The smile on the girl’s face dimmed a bit as she turned to the computer and began to type. Silently, he watched her, wondering how she could type at all with those god-awful nails in her way.
She nodded down at the computer screen and then glanced over at him. “I’ll have to call up and ask permission before I can give you any information.” She turned away from him and picked up the phone. From over her shoulder, she said, “It’ll be just a moment.”
“Sure,” he mumbled, his eyes scanning everywhere and nowhere at all. He just wanted to get to the room, do what he was being paid for, and go home. Afterward, he would be one day closer to financial solvency. One trick closer to owning the home he’d grown up in, free and clear.
He listened as she quietly spoke with someone, her side of the conversation consisting of mainly “yes sir” and “uh huh”. Finally, she hung up and faced him. “Mr. Smith says to send you up. He’s in room 204.”
“Thank you,” he uttered, already striding away from the desk. There was an elevator, but he bypassed it, choosing the stairs instead. He jogged up them quickly, without breaking a sweat, and shoved through the entrance door onto the second floor hallway.
The walls were adorned in hunter green wallpaper with a burgundy trim. The floor was carpeted in the same deep shade. The minute details were absorbed as he hustled to the end of the hall, glancing at room numbers along the way. 204 was located on the right, near the end, even on one side and odds on the other.
He stopped outside it and took a breath, giving himself a pep talk. You can do this. Just keep your eyes on the prize and get through it, same as always. It was no different than picking someone up at a club. No different at all.
He raised his clenched fist and knocked, his gaze dropping to his feet. Beginnings were strange. Some men wanted him to come in and bend over, take it up the ass like a good little whore and leave, while others wanted to make polite chitchat first. Out of the two, he wasn’t sure which he liked best. Probably the fuck-and-run guys; at least those assignments were faster.
He was still wondering what tonight’s call would be like when the door swung inward. Tanner looked up, and up, craning his neck back to gaze into the eyes of his client for the night and felt the standard greeting he recited to each of his Johns die in his throat.
Saliva pooled in Tanner’s mouth. Fuck. The man was easily six and a half feet of yummy muscle and lean, bottled sex if he was an inch, dwarfing his own five foot eight stature.
Tanner’s brain turned to mush as all the blood in his body drained south and squeezed into his cock, making his balls draw tight inside his Levi’s. His gaze cruised from the man’s tousled, short black hair to his socked feet and back up, absorbing all the details between. Brooding eyes, square jaw, broad shoulders and trim hips, every inch sex incarnate and designed to entice a man like Tanner to his knees in supplication.
The man was big, and gorgeous. Exactly the sort of guy who got Tanner’s motor running in overdrive. The kind of hunk he would’ve tried to pick up in any one of the bars he used to frequent, back when he actually had a life. A man he would’ve happily fucked for free, under other circumstances.
Except this was business.
A sheet of ice fell over Tanner, cooling his ardor, easily putting him back in his place. He wasn’t here on a social call. He was here to fuck for money.
Tanner schooled his features into a smile he’d carefully rehearsed in front of the mirror at home. It was supposed to look seductive, but something about the tight feel of his skin stretching out over his cheekbones told him it fell flat tonight. Oh well, he thought ruefully, another night, another dollar.
He met the big man’s gaze and held it. “I’m Tanner. The agency sent me.”
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Writers for Chippewa and Lady Aibell are currently unable to contact the publisher through their secure forums. This is reportedly due to an on-going cyber-attack that has also forced them to redirect sales to fictionwise until the secure shopfront and forums can be repaired.
If you need to contact them you should probably use the alternative email provided on their news page or join the authors' yahoogroup.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
I like to snoop around the google words that bring people to the EREC site. One recent search was "Who pays advances in erotica romance".
Payment of an advance may be routine for larger presses using offset print runs. As far as I am aware the only epublisher offering a small advance is Samhain with $100 upon publication. Other epublishers used to pay small advances but have discontinued the practice.
If you know of any others please let me know.
Friday, April 20, 2007
One of the most common questions put to authors of m/m gay romance for women is "why?" -- why would women want to read about gay men? A few years ago there was a long, chewy thread on my favourite sf writers' forum about this, and I've been threatening for a while to write an essay summarising that thread. The actual essay hasn't materialised yet, but my preliminary notes are now up on my LiveJournal. Comments and further suggestions welcome (my LJ has anonymous posting enabled, so you don't need an LJ account):
Girls who like boys who do boys
FINAL LINE EDITOR POSITION OPEN
Does your family call you a grammar geek? Do you often spot typos in books and papers that other people just skim over? If yes, read on!
Samhain Publishing is looking for final line editors. What does a final line editor do, you ask? After a book has gone through content edits, it is then passed on to a final line editor—who goes through line by line to find any typos or mistakes in the book.
The qualifications for the position are attention to detail, a strong knowledge of grammar, attention to detail, time to devote to edits, attention to detail and, of course, a love of books. The final line editors are our last line of defense so to speak before a book goes out to the public.
If you are interested in joining the Samhain team and would like more information regarding the position, please email Jessica Bimberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[NEWS] Yes the ERWF forum is down again. Forumer.com is starting to make British Rail look reliable.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Gracie Passette aka The Marketing Whore posted a comment she received from Shel Israel, author of Naked Confessions. Basically she reviewed his book, he commented on her perceived anonymity, and she responded with an interview opportunity. (You can read her entire post here.)
His response: "...I think I'll pass on the interview. I've been reducing the interviews I do anyway as I get into writing my new book. But more than that, I just don't see much potential business for me with your target audience."
Say again? What is that supposed to mean? That folks in the adult industry wouldn't be interested in a book about blogging and marketing? Oh, I get it. Those kind of books are for the "real" business professionals, right? Those of us in the adult/erotic industry can't possibly be interested in a book about marketing, blogging, and business.
Gracie sums up the problem: Lots of folks dismiss our business. And they write us off as "being sex" rather than being in the business of sex.
Exactly. This is the reason that I'm careful about telling people what I write for a living. People need to look beyond labels. Yes, I write adult/erotic fiction. Does that mean you know the real me? I may write about sex, but I've got a brain and I'm not afraid to use it.
If you can relate to this, please post this on your blog, pass the link around, or contact Shel Israel. Let him know that we *are" a part of the audience.
The Internet is, for many people, an important outlet for expressing or consuming products related to their sexuality. It has the qualities of being worldwide, accessible and anonymous. Products such as ebooks are diverse, affordable and easily concealable.
It is undeniable that some of the side-effects of this accessibility are thatit allows socialising and material trading between paedophiles, it exposes vulnerable sex-addicted people to materials that disrupt their lives and it gives infidelity yet another avenue for expression. However, it is also true that the Internet provides support to people seeking to become more whole and more healthy. It provides places where sexual minorities such as asexuals, homosexuals and transgendered people can meet--as well as fiction that depicts their experience and shows that it is not unique, that the are not alone. Ebooks show sex as an expression of love and a normal and natural part of life. Online erotica gives all types of people positive and satisfying sexual entertainment and information.
Viewing and consuming erotica online is a positive experience. What should be condemned in people who harm others or themselves be it through sexually explicit material or any other avenue.
There really is, when you get right down to it, nothing all that special about sex. So why is sexual content of all types being so actively suppressed by online payment behemoths such as Google Checkout and Paypal? Google Checkout suspended the account of an organisation that ran a few speed dating events. Many erotic romance publishers have dropped the use of Paypal for similar reasons. As Amber Quill Press writes: "the purchase of any one of our romance books, whether erotica or otherwise, through PayPal (anything that deals directly with or suggests human sexuality or contains references to sexual contact in any form) could put us (and you) in jeopardy..." Both services are known to be not only prudish but arbitrary, quick to act and almost totally unresponsive to appeals. Banned products include non-erotic romance or gay fiction, Poser dolls that have genitalia, art prints or nudes etc. Paypal has frozen accounts not only of ebook publishers but also distributors and authors.
Paypal changed their policy to adult material in 2003 due to fraud and complaints associated with this type of material. Really? All erotic material is associated with high levels of crime? I think not. I think categorising the problem by sexual content shows the preoccupation of the staff in these companies, not the nature of the problem. Some types of erotica, I am quite sure, have no more complaints and difficulties that the trade and distribution of scented candles or engine parts--and I would suggest erotica romance is in that benign category. Other hard-core businesses are dishonest--but why does that whole genre, all of erotica and a good deal of romance and gay fiction get tarred with the same brush?
Most people selling and consuming erotica online are honest businesses and reasonable customers. What should be condemned is people who mislead and sell faulty products or do not shop with due diligence.
To say that erotic products and business to sell them should be outlawed *because* of the adult-content is lazy thinking indicative of companies that attempt to solve problems through arbitrary stereotyping rather than targetting the real culprits. It is genre-profiling, it is discrimination--and it is allowed because sex-writers are presumed guilty not only by corporate America but a large section of the general population who still consider all reference to sex either evil, shameful or sinful.
Imagine the equivalent in the physical world. Where all money was issued by private companies. If you tried to use this money to buy a product that even hinted at a sexual orientation, romance or nudity occasionally, without warning, not only that money--but all the funds in your account--would vanish along with the funds of the shopkeeper and the person who made the product even if all three were completely blameless of any harm or fraud.
And the saddest thing of all is that these services are so necessary and prevalent that the standard response has been to continue to use them whenever possible, but to stay under their radar like proprietors of a speak easy or pea shake (illegal gambling) house. When currency comes with someone else's morality attached we are left choosing between going without or acting as if we are ashamed of what we do, even when we are not.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
After the outgoing vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America posted an entry at the SWFA blog, slamming professional authors who post their works online (he later toned down his wording), author Jo Walton wrote a post encouraging authors to "give away professional quality work online" on April 23 "to celebrate our technopeasanthood."
Over at the SWFA blog, the moderator, Will Shetterly, encouraged people to post links at that blog on April 23 to their online work (in replies to a special entry he'll post on that day), adding, "If you can't come up with something new for the 23rd but already have work that's free on the web, offer the link. Everyone's welcome in the IPST!"
I queried, and he clarified that, yes, he meant everyone: pro, semi-pro, and amateur writers. It seems to me that all writers who support the right of pro authors to publish their works in the manner that they wish may be interested in participating in this celebration.
If you would like an icon by which to spread the word, here are some nice ones by John Scalzi, Mary Dell (shown here), and Leigh Dragoon.
p.s. on the 23rd I will be posting and erotic romance "free read" list. If you want to be on it just comment or email with the url to a story you have available somewhere online.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Fictionwise.com is a distribution site for e-books that charges the first $15 and 50% of gross royalties. Some authors seem to specifically seek out publishers who distribute via Fictionwise. Things to bear in mind include:
A publisher may be listed as using Fictionwise that does distribute all of their titles through this service. Do not assume that your book will be listed at Fictionwise if this is not specified in the contract.
Before clamoring for immediate distribution check your contract and appreciate that you probably receive at least twice as much from each book sold direct from the publisher. There is a good reason for releasing in-house first, and through distributors only after those sales have dropped off.
There is a significant readership that uses Fictionwise exclusively or in preference to going to the publisher. Fictionwise offers a trusted centralised sales process, useful data such as reader-ratings and specific word counts, and reliably readable files in all common formats for books by famous and niche authors.
In my opinion it is wise to be aware of whether a publisher you are considering distributes through Fictionwise but only as a factor that may contribute to sales figures. It is much easier to discover than actual sales figures but may, in many cases, be a factor of no importance whatsoever.
It is hard to say what typical Fictionwise sales might be but in the absence of real information let me make something up (tell me if this seems anywhere near plausible). If you divide their 40,000 sales per month by what looks like about 750 books listed per month that would give an estimated average around 50 sales per book, less given that not all sales will be of new listings.
Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Have you ever been not sure what you want to work on next? I have two works in progress right now. Okay, so it’s more like five, but two in particular are running neck and neck for all my attention right now. I’m having a heck of a time trying to decide which one to focus on. I keep waffling back and forth, doing a little to one and then a little to the other. In the mix, I’m not accomplishing much.
So, I thought I would put it up for a vote. See what you all think sounds the most interesting and run with that one. I suck at synopses but here goes…
The first is a vampire story I’m calling Secrets & Lies. Some of you may have read the first chapter of this one on the Slash & Burn blog a few weeks ago. It’s basically about a natural born vampire who struggles against diversity. He just so happens to falls in love with the very human he shouldn’t, and ends up with more on his plate then he can sink his teeth into.
The second is a paranormal tentatively titled Pyromancer. It’s about a man with the ability to control fire who’s scared of making connection with anyone because his emotions rule his ability. Desperate for human contact, he strikes up a bargain with a rent boy who has more to hide than he does and things quickly slide downhill from there.
So what do you think? Vampires and werewolves, oh my? Or a man who can ignite your fire, quite literally?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I am currently a member of only two fee-charging writers organisations, having recently joined EPIC prior to attending this years convention--and having recently renewed my membership of Romance Writers of New Zealand. I am also a member of free groups including the Erotic Authors Association and Speculative Romance. I have long considered joining RWA but each time I am reaching for my check book they do something that puts me off. Ditto on my dithering over subscribing to Romantic Times now that both my local news agents have stopped carrying it. The way in which erotic romance titles are being reviewed and the ban on gay romance keeps giving me a vibe that I am just not TSoP (their sort of people) despite my very regular purchases from the romance shelves, multiple romance publications and lifelong support of the genre.
My thinking is this. Membership fees are a tangible support of an organisation in return I must receive either tangible benefits worth the money, or I need to feel I want to support the group for its ideals and benefits to others. Currently that means the only subscription fee I intend to keep paying is to RWNZ. As an ex-pat I don't get a lot of tangible benefits but I strongly support the way in which they represent romance writing in New Zealand. This is a country strongly oriented towards literary fiction of a certain type, and genre writers need collectives such as RWNZ which all but vibrates with positive energy and is stuffed full of successful multi-published authors. As soon as I am back there I will be attending local chapter and national meetings. I also had that joyful of experience of asking whether they accept writers of gay romance--the experience where one is met with a response of total bemusement as to why they wouldn't.
But I am very curious to know which organisations other erotic romance writers have joined and whether they have felt the tangible or intangible benefits were worth the time or money invested. Which groups do you think we should link to as resources for novice writers?
[NEWS] EPIC passed all recent amendment by a vote of about 20% of the membership. This includes allowing writers of short fiction to join and allowing publishers to have voting rights.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
So here are the current ebook average sales figures based on the last 100 books for which I have new or updated figures. Average sales in the first month currently stand at 102 copies, average sales within the first year: 284, average total sales to date: 346. Back before I even began to collect figures my best guess was that first month averages would be: 100 and first year: 300. Even given that this is, no doubt, a highly limited and probably unrepresentative sample I am feeling pretty smug about getting that close. At least the lines are trending upwards, sort of.... If you haven't sent in your figures, or updated them, please do :) (veinglory at gmail.com)
And as for how not to sign a book... this is part of the 'how not to be an author' guide that I could write. One of the reasons I started this site was in the hope that I could collect some information and help a few authors out there avoid my own trial and error (mostly error) approach.
One of the things about writing mostly ebooks is that my first opportunity to sign a book came as something of a surprise. I have been a regular customer at my local Borders for almost two years now. As such I got to know Deb who always seemed to be on deck and ready to help me find whatever obscure book I was looking for. She finally discovered, through a mutual aquaintance that I was a writer (did I mention I am not good at self-promotion?). In the meantime I had been trying to order a copy of the charity anthology Dreams and Desires, in which my story 'Blood and Feathers' appears.
To make a long story short I ended up getting my copy direct from the publisher and let them know to cancel the third attempt at a special order. The world being perverse (as it so often is, I muse, looking out at the spring snow falling past my window) the book did turn up in store--and Deb bought it! Today she presented it to me to sign my story.
My advice to y'all who haven't done this yet: think about it. I dithered wondering what to write, feeling odd about defacing a book, then accidentally put my real middle initial on it before finally managing to sign my pen-surname. Then I needed prompting to date it and spent a while longer dithering and managed to remember to put the month first as per American date formatting. What a mess.
Next time I will be ready with a cute quip and practised cursive flourish. I can only hope that I get famous enough for my first ever authorial signature to be a valuable collector's item ;)
Friday, April 13, 2007
Our Friday Feature is a blog post by Sara Ruston about the oft-repeated "Romance Fiction" sucks argument:
A subscriber to a list that I belong to recently insisted over and over that the quality of writing in romance is very low. It was infuriating because other members pointed out the large number of romances that are published, the fact that there is poor writing in other genres, etc., etc., and she just would not listen. She kept insisting that there was more bad writing in romance than in other genres.
I've certainly complained about the writing in some of the romances that I've read, but I read and enjoy a few of the authors that she was slamming, and they do NOT write poorly. Some of them aren't to my taste, but I wouldn't criticize the writing because of that. Conventions are different in different genres. The expectations of the readers are different. Writing that might be considered "good" in one genre, is considered "bad" in other genres.
READ MORE AT SARA RUSTON'S BLOG
Myspace will no longer allow embedding of photobucket videos.
Those of you thinking Google Checkout might be a better option than Paypal for selling erotica should 'check out' their content policy banning: "Adult goods and services ... Pornography and other sexually suggestive materials (including literature ..."
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Our Erotic Romance feed is acting up but it is a little beyond my ability to diagnose. If you are subscribed could you please tell me if it is working for you or not. If you know anything about feeds and can help me find a fix I would really appreciate any input via comment or email. As far as I can tell it currently validates but it seems not to show any of the posts since Feb 23? Or am I just being very dumb somehow? (It happens).
Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/EroticRomance / http://www.erecsite.com/atom.xml
[Edited to Add]: as of right now it seems to be working for me again. But I would still love to hear from anyone subscribing re: the method they used and whether it was/is now functioning correctly.
p.s. I would appreciate someone with a paid LiveJournal account setting up an LJ feed for us.
One of Life's Little Ironies:
From Amazon.com: How to Become Wealthy Selling Ebooks on the Internet by Stacey, Chillemi (Paperback - Jan 29, 2007) and Ebook Secrets Exposed: How to Make Massive Amounts of Money in Record Time with Your Own Ebook by Jim Edwards and David Garfinkel (Hardcover) - April 1, 2006)
1) Google Alerts
Set up an alert on your pen name or book title and Google will email you when ever it appears on the internet. This is a great way to get fresh reviews and find out who is blogging about you. But rememeber to use quote marks (e.g. "emily veinglory") to avoid learning about every person that happens to have that first name.
2) Google Links
If you bring up google and in the box type link:wwwyourwebsite.com it will show all the pages that link to yours.
Triskelion recently moved from .net to .com, buit the site is now down--anyone know why? [Edited to Add] It's back! Chippewa/Lady Aibell have had trouble with hackers affecting the shopping cart and secure forum but have moved to quickly correct the problem.
Kurt Vonnegut has died at the age of 84
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Most of you are, no doubt, already well aware of the market listings available at the Erotic Readers & Writers Association (click on 'Author Resources' then 'Call for Submissions'.) Those who are not should definitely check it out. Current listings include upcoming MaleDom and FemDom print anthologies from Cleis, CatScratch Books looking for erotic gothic romance stories and a publisher-pending anthology of poetry and stories celebrating the eroticism of pregnancy. The site is updated regularly and well worth bookmarking.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
At the Romantic Times forum (e.g. here) I see various discussions that make it very clear that there is an increasing division between existing romance readers and the new wave. I wonder if the very existence of the division is due the slump that occurred during the nineties when the genre was slow to adapt to the changing market, meaning the new market developed relatively suddenly.
But regardless of the reason you have a group who very much yearn for what romance was a few decades ago with a heavy emphasis on historical and men who take what they want. Then there is a group who are very focused on men who may be strong but are never controlling and an urge to explore sexuality and orientation.
The up shot of this is that what was once mainstream and "normal" is only one dish at the buffet. Thanks to Cathy Clamp for drawing my attention to what the dish is being called. I response to my question about where to find sweet and super-alpha she writes:
They're calling these "Traditional" romances, ala Mills & Boon (although that's not the only thing M&B is publishing nowadays.) The RITA award has a special section for Traditional Romances. You might pick up this years finalists to see if they're what you're looking for (and if they are, checking out the past couple of years' finalists will give you the names of additional publishers/authors. In this year's award, it seems that Harlequin has the only contenders, but last year, Dorchester had two on the finalist list.
Traditional as the RWA specifies this category seems to related specifically to sexual content... "Sweet romantic novels ... the emphasis is on the development of an emotional relationship that ultimately results in the promise of a long-term commitment. The stories may include sexual tension and, within marriage, sexual fulfillment." ...but to my ear it is a reasonable description of the general area of old-fashioned historicals, super-alphas and sex-typically-only-within-marriage-and-sometimes-without--clear-consent stories.
I wonder if this change in emphasis may be a problem for the traditional reader who is also also likely to be a traditional shopper. With time this sub-genre is likely to retreat further into specialist lines, small presses and ebooks. But the first step would be in increasing recognition of 'Traditional' as a niche not a norm. (The term is hardly nailed down when wikipedia is calling my books "traditional romance" --as a subset of original slash).
We are, as far as I can tell, fast approaching a stage where romance does not even have a mainstream. The large display tables are not full of books that anyone would consider definitive of the genre--and outside of love and HEA the genre is begin to defy any such definition. The tables are, in fact, full of the swelling and fading fads of the season.
Paranormal will have its place but it is not going to occupy centre stage forever. Vampire ChickLit, I surely hope, is likely to vanish away altogether. Right now Regency is having an upswing and unconvincing Scottish accents are everywhere, by the end of spring it might be Medievals and Southern drawls. I sincerely hope that science fiction, Polynesia and Africa, sweet polyamory and so many other things are lining up for their time in the spotlight.
In my less sympathetic moments my responses to the complaints that romance is not what it used it be (other than thanks be to the Gods) is that it is now so much bigger and so much more. In romance everyone is a minority who is going to have to search a little to find exactly the sort of material that suits them best. The only difference is that some people have only recently been introduced to this reality. Welcome to 'new' romance, there is room for everyone.
Monday, April 09, 2007
While reading today, and rolling my eyes for the fiftieth time after yet another paragraph re-describing the minute details of scenery, I began to wonder something. When does a novel cross the line from being informative into eye-roll territory?
My own writing style is minimal on the details. I tend to lean toward short and tight descriptions instead of long, flowery diatribes about what things look like. At least, when it comes to the descriptions I do. When I'm describing characters, I want things to be a bit more juicy. ;)
Now I know this is different for everyone, but I think, give me the basics of the every day stuff, a little more detail on anything weird that a normal person wouldn't be able to clearly visualize, and then move on. Absolutely no repeats of the same thing, ever. What do you all think?
Saturday, April 07, 2007
What do you think should be done with review copies of books? I know there are things that are obviously wrong to do. Like readers at large presses trying to Ebay advance review copies of books by famous authors for thousands of dollars. And then there's something else that seems wrong, just throwing out a book that I don't want to keep. I know the book was given to me to review, not to profiteer from. But the exact nature of acceptable and unacceptable conduct seems a little vague--so I could use some input.
Currently I tend to just delete ebooks; for some reason that doesn't bother me. But what about ebooks on CD? Are these still digital files and so illegal to even give away to another person? But they are still books. I am constitutionally unable to just stuff them in the trash. Hard copies I either keep or give away to friends. Is it okay to drop them off at the Goodwill store if nobody wants them? How about this? I will list all the review copies I have in a tangible form and I will send them to anyone who agrees to review them, on their own blog or here. Then you can figure out what to do with them!
Friday, April 06, 2007
If you are anything like me you find it hilariously funny when people ask: "Where do you get your ideas?" Ideas are so not the limiting factor. Time, attention span and sanity--now those are all in short supply. But just for the hell of it, let's talk about those stealth plot bunnies. You know, the ones that jump up and bite you on the arse when you least expect it. (Yes, I know I tend to use American spelling most of the time but 'ass' just doesn't do it for me).
A few days ago I was in one of those nick-nack, antiques and general weird object stores. I love them. I bought salt and pepper shakers shaped like penguins, two small skulls of as-yet unidentified animals and these. And tell me, if you look at that lady on the right do you not feel stories just building up inside you? Her real life, her true story is lost to us and there is something unsettling about a treasured keepsake, a real person, reduced to a 20c curiosity. But when I look in their faces there are dozens of stories that well up in my mind to fill the void left when her real history was lost.
And as for this lot. Maybe I am a sick, sick women, but am I the only one thinking MMMMF?
In honor of Easter the first four people to share a funny place they got a plot idea will get a purple plot bunny from me (shown left).
And I have a p.s. -- have any of you ever asked an e-publisher to withhold tax? Have they been willing to do so? Email me at veinglory at gmail.com or comment here.
Check out the updates at Piers Anthony's epublishing site especially reports of potential trouble brewing at Aphrodite Unlaced, Mardis Gras, New Concepts, Whiskey Creek and Triskelion. In the case of Triskelion there are reports of complaints to RWA which may have something to do with the recent reconsideration of criterion? All recent updates on this site are in red text. Thanks to Mrs Giggles for the heads up.
The Erotic Romance Writers Forum seems to be down. I have made enquiries. [Edited to add:] You can see ERWF's server status here, we are server 8. Server 8 isn't feeling very well. [Edited again to add] We are back!
[Edited to add] Mrs Giggles is rethinking the blog. I understand her reasons but I would miss that stop on my daily blog-hop.
I'm a reader as well as a writer, and a reader who writes reader-type reviews on my own blog. So I thought for my first guest spot I'd drag out a post I wrote last year about what I think a review should be... It's quite a long one, so I'll put up the first section and then give a link to the rest.
The job of the reviewer isn't to say whether she liked or disliked the book...
We've all seen them on Amazon. The one line reviews that say "This book sucked!" or "This book is great!". They're not very helpful, and one of the reasons they're not very helpful is that they don't tell you why the book sucked or was great. You have no way of knowing whether that person's tastes match yours, and hence whether you can trust their opinion to reflect what you'd think of the book.
The job of the reviewer isn't to say whether she liked or disliked the book--or indeed to say whether the book was good or bad, for it is quite possible to like a bad book and dislike a good book. Ideally, what the reviewer should be doing is providing information that helps other people to decide whether or not a book would be of interest to them. That the reviewer liked/disliked the book is important, but the reason why is more important. If I read a review by someone who disliked a book, but who takes the time to explain what she disliked about it, I may well find that her reasons would be good reasons for me to buy it, and vice versa. We may simply have different tastes; or the book may target a specific audience and be of no interest to those outside that audience. A good reviewer recognises those possibilities, instead of assuming that everyone is looking for the same things in a book.
I have a very specific example in mind. A few days ago as I write this, I was wondering whether it would be worth buying an updated version of an O'Reilly manual. (For those who don't know, O'Reilly publish a much-respected line of IT technical reference books.) The one I'm using is the 1998 edition, and as such dates from the Stone Age in computer terms. It's still useable, but I thought that I should look at whether it was worth buying a newer edition.
It turned out that there were not one but two books that I might want to look at, so I settled down to read the reviews. It rapidly became clear that the technical people didn't think much of one of the books. Too basic, too much repetition of things that were obvious, the author hadn't written the book that they wanted. Most of them were content to slam the book as unworthy of the O'Reilly name. Most of them saw it only as a book that had failed practicing geeks.
The beginners, on the other hand, loved the book. It was pitched to their level, and they appreciated it. That was fine, because that was the sort of book I was looking for. But because they were beginners, I couldn't trust their judgement of whether the book was technically accurate.
And then there were a couple of technical guys who said very bluntly that the book was a failure as far as they were concerned -- but who also recognised that ubergeeks were not the only potential audience for the book. Those guys took the trouble to explain why they thought the usual audience for O'Reilly books would find the book a poor buy, while at the same time it was probably a very good book for people who were just starting. They felt that it was at a very basic level and very repetitious, but it was clearly written, accurate and reliable in what it did cover. It was a beginner's tutorial rather than a reference guide, and it did it very well. And they said this without being condescending to people at a basic level.
Those are the reviews that got a "helpful" rating from me. They gave me the information that enabled me to decide whether the book would be useful to me, instead of assuming that if they didn't like it, nobody should.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Publishers Weekly quotes Borders spokesperson Ann Binkley as saying the chain does not put restrictions on covers and shelves the books according to content. Erotic romance is shelved with the rest of the romance titles, while "erotic literature" (such as The Almond), goes in the "Sex & Intimacy" section.
But when I looked up "Dream and Desires", an anthology in which all the stories are romance and only 2/19 are erotic, I found it under: Psychology > Sex/Recovery > Erotica. This does not thrill me as I am willing to bet far fewer customers will find a predominantly sweet romance anthology on the erotica shelf in the non-fiction psychology section. Novels by many of the contributing authors are to be found in romance, but the anthology seems to have been deemed, for some reason, not romance.
This got me thinking. Now I do not see all labelling as bad. If being on the erotica shelf will actually increase sales. I will be all for it. But honestly, even with a group like us--how many of you know there is an erotica section in Borders non-fiction area, and if you do do you check it as often as the romance area?
The same thing applies to their shelving of gay fiction and African-American fiction. If books get doubled shelved in both places, great. If they get shelved in the non-fiction area and sell more books there, great. But is this true? If it is not, is Borders institutionally saying somethings about what is and isn't romance--or at the very least it is saying: if you are not in a certain group, this book is not for you.
And I would not be so skeptical of Borders' competence in sectioning their stock if I was not already buying most of my magazines from a section called "Mens Interest".
Red Sage has recently opened their ebook imprint.
EPIC members are voting on the inclusion of authors and publishers of short works, and giving voting rights to publishers.
Author Michael Dibdin died on March 30th after a short illness. He was best known for the Aurelio Zen mysteries but my favorite Dibdin work was the fabulous parody "The Last Sherlock Holmes Story".
I am constantly baffled by the way the erotic romance genre assigns new meanings to words and has that use adopted so quickly. For a while there is was "alternative lifestyles" for gay, now it seems to be "pornography" means a piece of sexy fiction has no plot, characterisation or themes and is utterly devoid of literary merit. So we have epublishers routinely saying they do not take pornography, but do take erotica (do take 'sensual' but don't take 'erotica' etc)--as if the difference is obvious to all.
Now, pornography is a crude word, I will admit. It has some associations outside the world of prose to magazines full of large mammaries and shaved... well, let's try to keep this PG. And this is not to say that is anything wrong with visual porn, either. But "pornography" is probably not the first word I would choose to describe my work. It can be a little startling like somebody saying 'fuck' instead of 'make love'. But its contemporary literal meaning is nothing more or less that writing meant to sexually arouse. Erotica and pornography are synonyms. Unless you think that writers of pornography get up in the morning with the purpose of writing work that has no literary merit whatsoever, inserting flat characterisation and poor spelling at every opportunity. Let's show a little respect here for the ancient and worthy goal of writing to arouse.
People who write sex fiction should, IMHO, not throw around words describing the genre as if they are insults. It suggests a lingering feeling that writing about sex is innately immoral and destructive. "No", the writer says. "We are writing romance and the sex is just something absolutely required by the plot!" Well, frankly... rubbish. The sex in erotic romance is only sometimes a vital part of the plot, it is often gloriously gratuitous, sometimes added in very awkwardly, and I know from experience that to have a lot of sex occur as part of the plot you need to consciously choose a plot that requires it.
I have even had erotic romance writers say it is not their intent to sexually arouse. Darling (she says, patronisingly [like I never would in real life]), if your erotic romance is not sexually arousing it is my honest opinion that you are doing it wrong--or are you just so embarrassed about sex that you need to put all the blame on the dirty, dirty reader who misunderstands the high literary intent of your threeway scene with the flogger and the lubed cucumber?
Bad erotic romance is bad erotic romance not another creature entirely that requires another name. And bad or good--erotic romance is pornography. One of the reasons people buy the genre so avidly, in fact probably the main reason, is the sex. Not to mention that non-romance and plotless erotica need not be treated with such arm's-length contempt. People like to have sex, people like to read sex, people like to write sex--and the increasing use of "pornography" as a derogatory term reflects only that people like to deny all of the above. But someone who writes sex for money and doesn't believe it is shameful, should IMHO get over the cringe factor and learn to embrace the word rather than letting it be used as a dumping ground for our lingering disdain for our own genre.
So the next time someone asks in that smug way if you write porn, do what I do: say yes. It really shuts them up. It also really helps sell your books to guys, most of whom have always thought pornography a very pleasant word associated with some very nice products indeed.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
New Market romance/erotica and more: Drollerie is seeking many genres including erotic romance. A promise of no Poser covers and a website that clearly identifies the two women behind the company; I like them already. Drollerie is inviting submissions in many areas including reworked fairy tales.
New Developments: at Juno Press, a publisher of woman-centred fantasy romance. They will now be released some titles as mass market paperbacks.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Now, I don't know anything about this publisher, but the call was brought to my attention, so I thought I would share with you all. As always, make sure you do some research on them before submitting anything. I know I probably don't have to tell you all that, but better safe than sorry. *g*
4Girls publishing is seeking short stories of 10,000 words or less in the following sub-genres: romance, erotic romance, mystery, general fiction and young adult. Guidelines are available at www.4girlspublishing.com.
Submit the complete manuscript as an email attachment in either .rtf or Word format. 4Girls is an electronic publisher established in 2005. They publish a wide variety of books and pay a 50% royalty.
In my writing experience, I’ve found that it’s easiest for me to keep things straight by breaking a book down into segments. Something about seperating it into chunks makes the process seem a little less daunting than looking at it as a whole.
The first chapter is usually the main characters introduction chapter. It’s the easiest, because I’m still exploring who and what I generally want to happen throughout the rest of the novel. I can write whatever I want in that chapter without a lot of backlash later on from my pesky, opinionated characters.
After the first chapter, I break things down into scenes. One scene per chapter for each character. The scenes are broken down into subcategories like action, intimate, or character building scenes. All I have to figure out is who sees what, if you will. Which character’s point of view observation is more important for me to share than the other.
At this point, each character is forming in my mind. What their personalities are like, who they are and want they want to happen by the end of the book. The bumpy road that takes then there remains a mystery even to me as a write it. I like to fly by the seat of my pants and see where they’ll take me, and not the other way around. It’s more fun for me that way. *g*
The easiest to write, for me, are the action and intimate scenes. Those flow really well. Probably because I have a naturally dirty mind that wants to make it’s permanent home in the gutter. The hardest are the slow scenes, the ones I refer to as character building. It’s very easy for me to get lost in the action, the conquest of romance, and forget that each person needs to be shown in their own element for the reader to get a feel for who that person is outside of their quest to win love. Pacing in romance is important and I have to walk a tight rope to make sure the whole manuscript isn’t just action, sex, and inner monologues.
Does anyone else use a ‘formula’ to write their novels? Either way, what do you find to be the most difficult scenes to write or read?
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Moxie Press: http://moxiepress.com/
Moonlit Garden Books: http://www.moonlitgardenbooks.com/
The homepages seems to have vanished. Have the publishers?
I also assume that the vanishing of the website spells the end of the end for Venus Press?
So, I decide to do a little tour of 40+ of my favorite epublishers to see just where gay and lesbian romance fits and how publishers typically say 'yes, please' and 'no, thank you'. My first comment--15-20% of people hitting sites like these are still on dial-up modems, as am I. Please, for the love of Mike, design your sites to open in less than five minutes per page.
My second observation is that in a period of only a few months a very encouraging change has occurred. Only 24% clearly do not take gay fiction, although another 26% are less than clear on the matter. But for the rest, gone is the plethora of semi-insulting ephemisms like "alternative lifestyles" (with the promonant exception of Ocean's Mist Press). Genre or theme is now plainly referred to as "GBLT" (6%), "Gay/Lesbian" (35%) or "Gay/Bisexual" (3%) and last but not least... "Lesbian/Gay" (thank you, Freya's Bower!).
It must be noted that most publishers still seem to have gay and lesbian as a category only for their erotica imprint and not the mainstream one--or they automatically rate gay content as highly erotic (3-5 on a 5 point scale). But on the whole, it must be said, that things are looking up. We just need to get across the gay love can be just as sweet as m/f--it is a sexual orientation not just a particularly perverse kink.
But regarding the yes's and no's....
Wild Rose: "No homosexuality (our romances celebrate heterosexual monogamous relationships)" (Bully for them)
Amira Press: "The only types of books we don't accept at this time are horror, children's stories and erotica. For romances, please, no BDSM (bondage), m/m, f/f, multiple partner and horror. Please, no golden showers, pornography, bestiality, rape, or exploitation of children." (um, okay)
Better... (sort of):
New Concepts: "While personally, we have no problem with homosexuality, we cater to a specific audience, and so are not accepting books that focuse on homosexuality." (um, okay--I'm not your sort of customer then. Thanks for clearing that up. p.s. "focuse"?)
Aphrodites Apples: "Stories should have romance as a key element in the plot, whether they are a traditional romance, GLB romance or erotica. Please note, we do NOT have a poly line." (Great, except for the red, bolded, capital NOT--why be so emphatic?)
Thank you :):
Asylett Press: "Currently, we are not accepting manuscripts containing Erotica or Gay/Lesbian themes."
Aphrodite Unlaced: "Additionally, we are not accepting manuscripts featuring gay/lesbian storylines, though experimental/multiple partner sexual couplings within the framework of the stories are acceptable."
p.s. Stardust Press, your website has a popup saying: "The server www.stardustpress.com at Password Protected Area requires a username and password." That won't go away.