Friday, August 31, 2007

* The Eppie Awards are open to submissions starting tomorrow. $30 entry fee, for all genres of ebook.

* A Barnes and Nobles/Borders merger is starting to look more and more likely.

* Although Romance Writers of America (RWA) is out of the 'recognition' business they have revealed a list of "non-vanity, non-subsidy" publishers in the members area of their website which currently bears a closely resemblance to the previous list of recognised publishers (with the addition of Wild Rose Press).

* One of the more unfortunate losers in the closing of Mardi Gras may be St Judes Children's Research who who were meant to benefit from the sale of the charity anthology A Pirate's Treasure, which appears to still be on sale.

* There is a new online review site specifically for MM, FF and transgender titles.

* If you friended All Romance ebooks on myspace you need to go and redo it as they lost their flist due to hacking of the account.

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On the up side...

Thursday, August 30, 2007



While some publishers are going down the drain, erotic romance ebook sales in general, and particularly for the presses already selling respectably, seem to be gradually but perceptably increasing. How much attention does that get? Good news is also news--spread it around, the graph and statistics are yours to reproduce and discuss and I encourage you to do so.

Based on the current data set average first month sales are now at 170 copies, first year at 370, total to date at 416 and total to date for books out for one year or more (a new parameter) is at 560. So, probably not going to make a fortune but actually improving with time. E-publishing isn't sinking into a morass, it is getting more professional and more profitable.

Okay so there is something of a divide. On a scale of bankruptcy to Ellora's Cave there is a wide variety of performance. Bad presses tend to get worse with time, very bad ones do so rapidly accompanied by smoke, brimstone and hysterical ranting. Good ones are buoyant from the beginning. Those in between drift in their destined direction only very gradually.

But, honestly, there is cause for optimism--there really is.

Please send or update your sales data or just send any questions you might have to veinglory @ gmail.com. The graph is based on the most recently updated 100 novella+ length titles. This means it is based mainly on books currently available rather than those where the contract (or publisher) has come to an end.

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Why Authors Don't Complain

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It is no secret that I have always said writers should complain about bad publishers. But now this is a message being spread, with vehemence, but people as illustrious as Nora Roberts, and I feel a need to say something else.

There are reasons why we don't.

It is easy to tell people not to be intimidated and suggest those who are are ego-focused, don't respect ourselves,are unprofessional or somehow even responsible for the number of bad epublishers out there. It is also called blaming the victim and certainly doesn't help anyone escape that victim status.

Why do authors remain silent? Why especially e-book authors? Because they have less power, less money, less expertise, less support and status, and are easier to replace--we are more vulnerable. Yes, we should be encouraged to stand up for ourselves. But not chided from on high as if our actions are pure idiocy. Staying silent isn't about being egotistical or ignorant, it is about being--ironically given our genre--impotent.

I have been quietly unhappy with some things I have experienced as a writer. I experienced significant payment delays of several months at Lady Aibell but in the end I got my money so I justified the matter away--even the top epublishers can have delays of up to a week, was a few months really worth saying anything about? I always found Lady Aibell staff responsive to emails and doing their best, they had reasons outside their control for the problems, I was still working with them in a business relationship so I didn't (and don't) consider those bridges burnt. But if I could dispassionately apply the principles I have espoused on this very blog I would have said something. I experienced delays, as did others; in some cases up to 10 months, and others claimed not to have been paid at all. I, of all people, should have been the first to start the discussion.

I made it seem easy to just tell the truth blithely, and it isn't. You take the risk of being wrong, being misunderstood, of annoying people, of looking bad. So it isn't easy, but it is still the right thing to do. I just... experienced some delays in doing so.

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Eye on Science

I have no idea where the quote comes from but literary types often say ‘the largest sexual organ is the brain’. I think it might be an overly literal distortion of a similar comment Raquel Welch made about the mind (which is, of course, not an organ at all). Being a fairly literal person myself I would say the largest sexual organ is clearly the skin. Those of a more metaphorical bent might say it is the heart, and a recent experiment seems to support this proposition.

Apparently Dr Debra Quackenbush (yes, that is really her name) and colleagues decided to see whether explicit erotica with romance themes appealed more to women than men. They seem surprised to find that both men and women prefer their explicit erotica to be romantic. They conclude: “The results are, however, consistent with the recent movement to romanticize highly explicit sexual material.” The entire abstract gives me about one WTF per sentence with at least three WTFs in the last sentence alone.

If someone with access through an obliging university or library could send me the complete article (veinglory at gmail.com) I would be very grateful. -- Quackenbush DM, Strassberb DS & Turner CW (2005). Gender effects of romantic themes in erotica. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 24/1. pp. 21-35.

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More Smoke...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More smoke. This time over Chippewa Publishing. Any confirmation? See here and here (the comments).

...and some fire. "Mardi Gras Publishing is officially closing September 1, 2007", negative are starting to range to matters other than non-payment.

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In a Good Cause #1

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is there any thing better than a hot erotic romance? How about hot erotic romance in a good cause? If you know of other charity books or individual contributions from profits please let me know...


OPEN TO SUBMISSIONS

Coming Together--With Pride

"Submission Deadline: December 31, 2007 ... Phaze continues its tradition of fundraising for charity with Coming Together: With Pride, an anthology of quality erotic fiction edited by Alessia Brio."


Total E-Bound Military Anthology

"We’ve decided to do a sexy military anthology for charity! We’re looking for authors to send us manuscripts between 10–20,000 words, any genre, any heat rating, setting or storyline as long as the theme is military. Deadline is September 1st for release in November 2007, and all TEB proceeds will go to forces benevolent funds for army wives who have lost husbands in the recent conflicts."


Nothing But Red [Not a erotic romance anthology but perhaps of interest]

"Although inspired by the tragic death of Dua Khalil, submissions aren’t required to be about her. It could be an essay about honour killings, or a short story about a woman standing up to domestic abuse, or a poem that gives voice to women suffering oppression. We’re looking for work that explores women’s issues and the need for equality ... Submissions will be open from August 1, 2007 to November 1, 2007"


AVAILABLE NOW

Coming Together--For a Cure

"Phaze continues its tradition of fundraising for this cause with Coming Together: For the Cure, an anthology of quality erotic fiction edited by Alessia Brio. All proceeds from the sale of this volume will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation."


Dream and Desires: a Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales

"...all net proceeds from every Dreams and Desire anthology purchased will go to a battered woman's shelter."


AUTHOR/EDITOR DONATIONS

Animal Attraction

"Editor Vincent Diamond (Play Ball, Men of Mystery, Hot Cops) is donating 10% of the editor’s proceeds to Peace River Refuge & Ranch, (www.peaceriverrefuge.org). and In Harmony with Nature, (www.inharmonywithnature.org), both located in Florida. The charities provide a variety of domestic and wildlife care and are non-profit organizations."

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Auntie Emily’s Guide to Compassionate Complaining

The recent troubles at Silk’s Vault and Mardi Gras have brought back the issue of author complaints: 1) should you ever make them and 2) if so when. My suggestions would be:

1) Yes. This is on the simple basis that publishers’ interests and writers’ interests are somewhat the same and somewhat different. We have duties to both but in some cases out duty to our fellow writers is greater than to a publisher—especially if the publisher is incompetent or dishonest.

2a) True and Unusual Gripes
If a publisher does something you find unhelpful I don’t think it hurts to mention it to your peers on a purely factual basis even if it is a fairly minor point. It is probably wise to raise it with your editor or the publisher directly by email first to give them a chance to justify or correct the issue. There may in fact be a good reason for it that is to the writer’s benefit. But if they don’t respond well (especially if they a defensive, abusive or utterly unresponsive) IMHO the matter than is up for discussion unless there really is a compelling reason for it to be considered secret. If the press thinks the practise is acceptable and you still don’t, wider discussion in the industry is probably warranted.

Even minor issues can be discussed in appropriate forums so long as they are clearly matters of fact approached by a person with sincere and dispassionate interest in making their books a great success for themselves and the publisher. Often this is the quickest way to discover whether your complaint is in any way legit, significant and widely condemned. It may also lead to the press actually making changes to better serve their writers. Those that don’t ask, don’t get!

However if this practise, no matter how unhelpful, is very widespread in the industry then there is less of case for mentioning one specific press that is ‘guilty’ of it. In fact, it would be more helpful to point out the examples of otherwise equivalent or superior presses not perpetuating that particular nuisance. In this category might be charging for POD, calculating royalties on net, not having effective payment methods for foreign writers, not creating stable editor-writer collaborations and terrible cover art.

2b) Substantial and Persistent Problems
Another clear case is when there is a really serious problem, and repeated direct attempts to seek a solution have been unsuccessful. There is that sinking moment when you realise that the press is unlikely to rectify the situation and probably isn’t even trying. Bridges are burning in the rear view mirror. Being quiet and polite hasn’t done you a blind bit of good and leaves other authors submitting to the press unawares. In this category would be severely incompetent editing, non-payment of royalties, inaccurate reporting of sales, severely inappropriate conduct such as threats and deliberate spreading of damaging and inaccurate rumors about the author (when the author has not indulged in any such tantrums themselves). At this point a specific publisher really should be publicly named as a service to one’s peers and to set the record straight. If you are still in doubt, email a few other authors with that same press, severe problems are almost never isolated to one author.

My final point is that complaints should always be factual, with a minimum of emotion and a maximum of documentation. It pays to keep all contracts, unedited manuscripts, royalty reports, sales information from other sources, and all emails (although email should be considered private except in extraordinary cases it can be useful to document to the senior staff at the publisher just how long your were ignored and any contradictory information or abusive conduct from their staff). If in doubt, keep a record. If you don’t want to complain publicly this evidence can be forwarded to agencies like Writer Beware who will handle them in confidence and give greatest weight and credence to solid proof, over unsupported accusations.

Finally, do keep an eye out for things your publishers do well, especially things they do that other presses don’t. Failings should not be kept conspiratorially secret but presses should also get public credit whenever they do that little bit more for their authors—especially when they do things that are good for their authors and not entirely a matter of self interest. In this category might be: providing concrete marketing advice, giving prompt and detailed statement, having flexible payment methods, having a flexible house style that accommodates the author’s style, allowing cross-publisher promotions on their lists and forums and, of course, having high sales. If you have an editor, cover artist or other professional you particularly enjoy working with, let them know! If most of what you say is positive, then any complaints you make will carry more weight.

The bottom line is that authors talking about e-publishers should be a good thing because e-publisher should be a good thing. Good presses should see their achievements being praised, and so encourage this kind of free promotion. Indifferent presses should see their practises scrutinised and have every opportunity to address any accidental oversights or gaps in their expertise—and bad presses should have their abuses exposed. Only by this process will industry practises develop and improve over time and e-publishing become something we can all be proud of.

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Smoke, Meet Fire

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It appears that Mardi Gras may not be with us very much longer with talk of complete loss of communication and perhaps bankruptcy. PLEASE NOTE: authors are requesting that nobody should buy their Mardi Gras books in the interim as they are not receiving payment for these sales.

This inevitably brings up sweeping statements about the nature of e-publishing in general. My first reaction is that one or even a dozen failing companies should not reflect on the format. After all there is absolutely no shortage of amateur and exploitative print publishers and this doesn't make people turn up their noses at everyone trying to sell paperbacks.

However, I must admit that e-books are new and many people do not really distinguish between presses. One bad book quickly leads readers to make sweeping statements about the quality of ebooks per se. One bad company leads to similar statement about the worth of submitting to epresses at all. At this early stage of e-publishing many commentators tend to lump everyone together, when almost nobody would mention PublishAmerica in the same breath as Harlequin or Baen.

But what can be done about it? Nothing. E-publishers are easy to start and hard to make viable, and harder to make truly profitable for the owners let alone their authors. Readers who read e-books quickly find which presses make a good product. And readers who don't use e-books--well what relevance do their opinions have? Many will eventually convert to the e-book product but developing a sense of discrimination is part and parcel of that process just like consuming any product produced on the open market. The world is full of bad books, bad publishers, bad coffee, slow racehorses, ugly dresses and every other kind of disappointment. But all you need to do to separate good from bad, is know the difference between the two--there is simply no substitute for good judgement and good taste.

Perhaps this is all a little laissez faire but in the end little can be done to stop people writing terrible books or publishers not paying their writers. Both the reader and the writer must exercise judgement. Smoke has been hovering over Mardi Gras for some time and now it seems the party is over. They are not the first and will not be the last. But other presses were there before them and will be there after them. Other presses not only write checks on time but put larger numbers on them.

Let the writer beware... and if you make a mistake move on and learn from it. There are some great, honest e-publishers and print publishers out there actively looking for new authors. Nor is honesty in business practices necessarily enough of a reason to submit. If you want a book to be read and to earn money there choices in epublishing are in fact very limited--I wouldn't think more than ten will reliably hit $1000 on a single title within two years. Time to start aiming higher?

Edited to add: apparently release of contracts and declaration of bankruptcy is imminent.

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Want to Practise Your Press Release?

Friday, August 24, 2007

I know a few writers have tried crafting a press release about one of their books, with variable and typically under-whelming success. But perhaps if we got a little better at there things, and were willing to aim for smaller, local media and make it interesting to them, press releases would work more often?

All in all I am curious to see your press releases if you have them. So how about sending them along (ERECmail at gmail.com). If I like them I will blog about the book and post a cover spot in the sidebar. (After all, what are blogs but the very small press!):)

Are many writers trying this approach? Any success stories, tip, tricks or advice?

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Publishers Behaving Badly

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Complaints are emerging about Silk’s Vault, their accounting practices and delayed or missing royalty payments. In replies I see Mardi Gras is also mentioned as a ‘publisher behaving badly’. I would be interesting in hearing more about Silk’s Vault and remind you that Mardi Gras, along with ABCD Webmasters (which has several imprints) and Ocean’s Mist are also not recommended at this time. I have concerns and would like to hear more about Sybaritic Press and Genesis Press and will probably add them to the not recommended list soon. Several others have received mixed reports and more input would be appreciated. At this time I do not approach publishers before listing or changing their listing status but if they wish to contact me to provide counter-evidence, context or information relevant to any complaints made I am very open to this.

‘She said/she said’ situations (clearly evident at sites like Piers Anthony) provide only a general indication of friction, what is more useful are factual statements about publisher behavior—especially relating to accounting and payments but including any professional duty. Suspicions about sales figures are common; it is easy to assume one should be selling better but the facts are that sales at poor publisher are poor, no matter who you are. However, empirical inconsistencies between fictionwise and publisher sales reporting is rock solid and irrefutable proof of shoddy accounting at the very least.

‘Not Recommended’ status is currently purely a judgement on my part based on a preponderance of evidence with an emphasis on reports that are public, or private and confidential but specific, substantial and not anonymous. I would also draw to your attention that comments may also be made to this blog anonymously. At this point the mandate of the blog to allow authors to share information supports communication even at the risk that this may sometimes allow personal attacks or unsupported rumors. I credit authors with the ability to treat isolated, spiteful or unreasonable accusations skeptically. There are already many influences out there that lead to silence on the down side of e-publishing and I hope to provide some balance to information authors and prospective authors have to draw upon.

So, if you have had a bad experience with an e-publisher please do let me know—or at least cc me what you send to Piers ;)

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For Those Starting a New Book

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ganesha is a Hindu deity with special responsibility for knowledge, beginnings and overcoming obstacles. Traditionally a writer starting a new work will ask for his blessing. So if anyone out there is starting a new book, feel free to send me your offering for the ERECshrine.

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Attack of the 'Meh'

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


As we speak I have a novella sitting, all but finished, on my desktop. There is only one more scene that needs to be written—the penultimate sex scene. It really is that most virtuous of things, a necessary sex scene. An even if it wasn’t it would need to be written as the whole novella has only one other full sex scene in it and customer do start to get weird and snarls if you sell them an erotic romance novella sans erotica.

But, you know, I’m just not feeling it. Especially for a scene that I built up to throughout most of the middle of the story by throwing in a plot element that might make sex fatal to one or both people involved. The obstacle is removed and after all this yearning and lusting the sex damn well ought to be spectacular. But….

Meh.

I do think that one of the side effects of slotting myself largely into the erotic romance genre is that I sometimes write a little more erotica than I would if left entirely to my own devices. And while a little of what you fancy does you good—a little too much of it makes you fancy it less. If that makes any sense at all?

And despite being one of those annoying people who thinks that if you want to be a writer you should sit down and damn well write rather than whine about motivations and blocks, sex scenes are the one thing I don’t normally ‘push’. A bad piece of dialogue or action is just bad, but a bad sex scene is excruciating.

So I guess it’s time for a nice bottle of Merlot and an inspirational video. Any recommendations? Something with some man-on-man by people actors who actually do a tiny bit of, um, acting? Because y’know the pr0n DVDs I have bought so far (online) were better inspiration for comedy or horror than erotica…..

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Triskelion

Sunday, August 19, 2007

DearAuthor have a good summary of what is going on with the Triskelion bankruptcy. One crucial detail is that there is only about $800 in unpaid royalties on the record. I suspect more than that is outstanding and would encourage writers to pursue outstanding amounts even if they are small. Documenting the debt should be possible without incurring significant expenses. If any money is going to be recovered authors should get their fair share--and the extent of the shortfall should be made public.

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Postcards

The postcard competition is still open. Here are a few glimpses of the entries so far to encourage you :)

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"On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

As a fan-fiction writer I am, of course, familiar with fiction based on real people--including erotic fiction. It is a line I hesitate to cross myself but I have not thought about it much beyond that. If I were, somehow, to find myself a character in such fiction I dare say I would not be pleased.

The title of this post relates to a book with a first run of all of 50 copies at $10 a pop. The rambling essay-slash-tale written by Richard Meros relates to Helen Clark (pictured), who has been Prime Minister of New Zealand for the last six years. Meros's 80 rambling and poorly punctuated pages seem to be little more than a grab for attention--gratuitous not in being about sex but in being a plea of 'look at me, look at me' based almost entirely on another person's fame.

Which, of course, he is getting. Bemused and somewhat disgusted attention driven largely by the blogs of his close associates, but attention all the same. The wider media seems strangely tolerant because of course this is being presented as 'literature'--and literature must never be stifled or questioned. Unlike, of course 'Teh p0rn'.

And here I am giving him some more attention. The only salve to my dignity is that I didn't actually stoop to buying a copy.

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[OH NO PROMO] Hypocrisy and Promotion--The Power of Numbers

Monday, August 13, 2007

My original training is in psychology, so I am at peace with hypocrisy as a natural human condition. However, it is still an uneasy state of being--and, rationally, not a strong one. So hypocrisy is going to be the theme of this mixed commentary-slash-promotional post. This is based on some of my more recent promotional windfalls.

Firstly there is my novella 'Son of a Bitch' in the anthology The Call from Torquere press. First off, kudos to Torquere Press on several counts. First they approached the contributors to their themed anthologies directly rather than relying on an open call. I appreciate it when a publisher specifically wants my work and makes a place for it. Secondly they responded to author requests for print production and put these anthologies in print. I know, in most cases epublisher make their money of ebooks--print editions are something they do as a service to authors. And I do so love having a physical book in my hands. Which brings me to hypocrisy number 1.

I am not really thrilled with Amazon.com for many reasons. One of these being they way the suddenly delisted all ebooks to cater exclusively to mobipocket. So why am I so happy to have a book listed at Amazon? Because they are the single largest book distributor out there. For many people (e.g. Shelfari users) if a book does not appear on Amazon it simply does not exist. Ergo being on Amazon makes me feel more 'real' as an author--even if it shouldn't. It is also a gateway to more sales.

My second happy moment was hearing that King of Dragons will appear in an advertisement for Samhain Publishing appearing in the December issue of Romantic Times. Now you probably know by now what I think of RT's advertising policies relating to the small press and to M/M books.. The public statements of their staff even stopped me from buying this magazine which I had been reading regularly. All the same, an ad in RT is a big deal because they have circulation, newsstand and subscription, that is an order if magnitude higher than the nearest competition.

The romance genre is overshadowed by behemoths such as Amazon, Romantic Times and Romance Writers of America. And behemoths do have a habit throwing their weight around, often to the detriment of minorities and individuals. But one of the reason for this is that they can, especially with the weight of the general readership behind them. It is easy to complain about the things they do to secure and retain their power, but who would refuse to benefit by association with them? In the long run, certainly not I.

Hypocrisy, I tell myself, is a natural human condition. But if I am willing to do things that may not be 100% in accordance with my beliefs in order to make a bigger profit--am I really in any position to complain about organizations that do the same?

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At First Glance: Allure Books

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Allure Books

I noticed this publisher after the user 'allurebooks' posted at this blog as well as a few others industry blogs.

My first impression was the the web design is poor. This included confusing internal and external (advertising) links, variability across pages (not all flexible width) and a less than useful site map. I don't like the colors either but that might just be me. The first line is: "We offer you exciting erotic fiction where the hero's [sic] and heroines meet..." The wayback machine shows this typo has been on the page for at least two years. The banner specifies 2000-2006 (on their lulu store 2000-2005) which also makes it look like they are not paying attention to the site.

However I am intrigued that this publisher focused on erotica while obviously also being largely limited to 'romance' types. It would be good to see more publishers of erotica with variable romance content rather than the other way around. There appears to be a specific niche focusing on submissive-female fantasies including seduction, slavery and spanking. I would recommend a clearer statement somewhere as to their niche. I don't read submission erotica so if they publish anything else it would pay to let people know--or have any clear statement as to their scope.

Apparently open since 2000 this one has passed under my radar until now. They are also not listed at Piers Anthony or Preditors & Editors. It is stated as owned by women but the owners are not named, I imagine they are also the authors. Allure does not appear to be open to, um, submissions.

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One of the key features of the EREC website was intended to be the publisher surveys. However they seem to get limited use so I am thinking it might be time to make some adjustments. I think the surveys are too long and really identifying features that really distinguish petween presses. Almost all of the publishers on the list have been sent the survey at least once and many failed to respond. The information is probably too unfocused and hard for authors to use.

I feel it would be useful to limit the survey to 5-10 important issues and list these on the main page next to the sales figures and warnings. The goal would be to cover the most important question used when making a short list to investigate further, rather than to provide comprehensive information. Please let me know what you think. Currently the questions are shown below. I think we need to retain the questions in bold.

1) Publisher’s name:
2) Webpage:
[these are already on the publisher list and so don't need to be in the survey]
3) Which genres do you accept? Which sub-genres do you specialise in?
4) What lengths of fiction do you accept?
5) What rights do you purchase?
6) What is your typical response time? (in response to query/to manuscript)
7) What royalties do you pay to authors? (% of cover price) [Useful in theory this data is often misleading (based on net etc) and in practise there is very little difference between publishers.]
8) What are your payment periods and methods?
9) How is cover price determined? (price/word count if possible)
10) What methods do you use to promote books?
11) How are your books distributed?
12) What are your typical sales per title? (This answer may be as general or specific as you choose) [Useful in theory, this question is never answered in any specific way]
13) What sets you apart from other publishers?
14) What advice would you give to authors contemplating submitting their manuscript to you? (e.g. common mistakes to avoid, current needs).
15) Any other information you would like to provide:
16) In which year was your publisher founded?
17) How many titles do you currently have available?
[Also provides releases per year.]

I think it is most useful to know if a publisher has been around a while, their output and lengths of fiction taken. Anyone listed can be assumed to take erotic romance. I intend to make separate short lists of those taking the various sub genres (MM, BBW etc). Most of the other questions do not distinguish between publishers being nearly uniform across the industry.

But what else to do really need to know before short-listing a publisher? The name of the owner or chief editor? Print options? What is it that you want to know as a first step in deciding whether a publisher goes on the 'maybe' pile?

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Livejournal

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It looks like there is the beginning of a serious movement for fanfiction to exodus from livejournal, in the wake of the new wave of account closures.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I don't know about you but I suspect we all have our off days. A bad review, a rough spot in your work-in-progress, a royalty check for 63 cents (yes, really). Then you have one of those moments when it all seems like an awful lot of effort for very little reward. Of course, next week there will be that great review, flash of inspiration and check for $700. But what do you do to tide you over until then?

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Samhain has now reopened to general submissions with a few stipulations.

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[Review] Sanami Matoh -- Fake

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Since I've been a bit slack about contributing recently... :-) I've been reading some yaoi manga, partly as writing research. The most recent batch was the Fake series.



This is a yaoi manga series about a pair of New York cops, mostly UST over the course of the seven volumes, but consummated in the final volume. But there's more than the sexual tension to sustain interest, as there's a good chunk of plot in there as well.

Randy Maclean arrives for his first day at his new assignment to the 27th Precint, and is promptly teamed with Dee Laytner, mostly because their Captain wants both of them out of his office right now. Dee is loud, casual, and over-friendly -- starting with noticing that Randy has black eyes even though he's blond, asking if he's part-Japanese, and then insisting on knowing Randy's Japanese name. And from then on it's Ryo, not Randy. Dee's not someone the quiet, reserved Ryo would have expected to like, but there's something about Dee that makes Ryo feel comfortable. And the feeling's mutual. They may have been partnered purely on whim, but they make a good team.

Dee is openly bisexual, and openly interested in Ryo -- mostly as a joke to begin with, but gradually becoming a lot more serious. By the end of the second volume Ryo's realised that Dee's interest in him isn't a joke any more, but he's not quite sure how he feels about it. He likes Dee, a lot, but he's also always thought of himself as straight. As the romance plotline develops, Ryo's no easy conquest; more or less tolerating Dee pouncing on him but pushing him away if he goes further than Ryo's comfortable with. And for a long period he's not even comfortable with Dee kissing him. But there's a strong bond of friendship between them, and rather than simply freaking out about Dee's passes, Ryo actually thinks about how he feels about Dee. For several volumes...

If that was all there was to the series it would be too thin to sustain seven volumes, but there are also strong storylines about their jobs as cops, and about their personal lives apart from the potential sexual relationship. These storylines interact with each other, and one of the notable things about this series is that while the early volumes appear to be mostly independent stories, there are details and characters which are later shown to be part of an overall story arc. This means that each volume is a satisfying read in its own right, with closure for the two to four stories included in the volume; but the series as a whole is more than just a string of unconnected episodes, and forms a complete story overall.

The series does require a lot of willing suspension of disbelief, given a setup with a New York police station full of openly gay cops, and a writer whose knowledge of New York police procedure is somewhat scatty. But it's well worth putting aside a desire for realism, as this series has humour, interesting stories, solid plot development, and rounded characters.

As for the sexual content, the guys are hot, and the UST is played very well, with Sanami Matoh doing more with a kiss than some manage with full-on sex. When it does finally get to the sex, it's plausible, and very hot. I was also pleased to find that while Dee can be very pushy, he accepts that no means no -- unlike much yaoi manga, there's no rape for titillation in this series. And there's a satisfyingly romantic ending. It's sweet, and maybe even soppy, but the guys have worked for it rather than being handed it on a plate.

The art is good, although there's a fair bit of heavily stylised art which isn't to my personal taste. What *is* to my personal taste is that the men are pretty, but they're still depicted as adult men, both physically and emotionally.

If you're looking for a yaoi manga that has both romance and action plot, you could do a lot worse than try a volume of this series to see if it's to your taste. Ideally you should read it in order, but the first few volumes can each be read as a standalone if necessary.

Fake series from Amazon US:

Fake (Fake), Vol. 1 (Fake) | Fake Vol. 2 | Fake Vol. 3 | Fake Vol. 4 | Fake, Vol. 5 | Fake 6 (Fake) (Fake) | Fake, Vol. 7


Fake series at Amazon UK:

Fake: v. 1 (Fake) | Fake: Volume 2: v. 2 (Fake) | Fake: Volume 3: v. 3 (Fake) | Fake: Volume 4: v. 4 (Fake) | Fake: Volume 5 (Fake): v. 5 (Fake) | Fake: v. 6 (Fake) | Fake: Volume 7: v. 7 (Fake)

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EREC Postcard Contest

Friday, August 03, 2007

I am looking for a postcard design to use as promo for EREC. Something that erotic romance writers and readers will like and might stick on the fridge or pass around.

Requirements:
1) A catchy slogan in some way related to erotic romance
2) ERECsite.com somewhere on the card
3) Using only art that is copyright free or otherwise available for us to use on postcards.

Prize:
A $20 Borders gift card or $20 via paypal

Please send entries to ERECmail at gmail.com. The competition will stay open until we have at least five entries, and at least one week's notice will be given via the blog before closing to entries. The winner will be decided by popular vote via the blog.

This is an example of the kind of thing I am looking for, just because written instructions might not quite get the idea across.



Edited to Add: Oops. I didn't think about dimensions. From Vistaprint:--

Full Bleed Size (starting document size)
5.59" x 4.33"
142mm x 110mm
1677 x 1300 pixels
* Finished artwork should use the full bleed dimensions for best results.
Document Trim Size (final size after being cut)
5.47" x 4.21"
139mm x 107mm
1642 x 1264 pixels
* Please be sure to keep all text within the safe margin.
Resolution
300 DPI

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Livejournal are closing accounts with erotic art and fiction, again.

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eRedSage contracts?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The word is the new Red Sage ebook contract includes:

* Rights for length of copyright
* Right of first refusal on all future works
* Exclusive rights to pen name
* Rights grab on the submitted work (TV, translation etc) and derivative works
(to name but a few issues, there are more)

Which would be red flag, red flag, red flag and big honking incarnadine flag of doom.

Can anyone confirm these clauses? Because if so this goes straight to the 'not recommended' pile just two days after going live (Yes, that would be a new record).

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It's not that I hate Poser, some of my best friends are Posers. No wait, that came out all wrong....

So, I had another conversation where my reflexive shudder at the mention of the Barbie-clones of cover art got me in trouble.

Do you like Poser art, have any examples of great Poser covers? Maybe Poser covers that you wouldn't even know were made that way unless someone told you?

Or do you know Poser art so bad it should be ebough to make everyone agree that that software to be cast into the deepest pits of hell?

Please send me some examples to make my case, or change my mind! ( By email if you don't want to be incriminated ;) )

(If you don't know what Poser is, angel baby on the right is an example).

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