Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New: Ravenous e-books--veinglory

Currently Hollan Publishing has an imprint called Ravenous. Apparently Ravenous Romance they are going to be huge in erotic romance epublishing. News to you? News to me too. See here for the only website they have up as yet. My feelings could be described as 'skeptical'. Skeptical with a side order of incredulous, hold the benefit of the doubt.

I would be more convinced if not for weird aspects of the deal such as an agent being involved in multiple roles (editing an anthology for the press, and editing her own author's work to submit to this new press). Agent involvement would only make sense if Ravenous are anticipating selling tens of thousands of copies of each erotic romance ebook title. That would be literally unprecedented. Some ebook romance titles do that well, but all titles from an epublisher, routinely? Never.

If they actually do change the face of epublishing I will have to eat some crow. But we hear this kind of hubris all the time and it tends to fall flat. The fact that you can make pretty successful art, craft and non-fiction romance coffee table books doesn't mean you can sell steamy ebooks. (p.s. 'When Cats Fly' seems like a pretty transparent 'homage' to Ten Speed's 'Why Cats Paint'? that seems less like a leading book than a following one...)

And if their strategy will be: "...marketing push for this new imprint will include full-page ads in Romantic Times, Publishers Weekly, and other major magazines, as well as major broadcast media. There will also be a huge presence at the Romantic Times conference in October" (comment 27) Well, good luck with that.

So far the only evidence of Hollan’s ability to sell ebooks in the 10,000+ range is they are rather good at doing something else, and they plan to advertise in venues where the majority of readers are not very interested in ebooks (an approach others have tried in the past many times). If there is more to it I would like to know. I think it would be unwise to underestimate what the top epublishers are already capable of, and to assume any company will certainly (or even probably) do an *order of magnitude* better. Especially when they don't seem to have any notion about how to carry out a controlled online launch of the new endeavour.

Can you feel the contempt for Ellora's Cave in this author's comment?: "I think this lack of knowledge about publishing and reaching target audiences (and the slow growth of those audiences) show that even the successful epubs have not exploited all avenues for building readership. I’d rather have a seasoned publishing executive with 20 years experience publishing books that sell big behind a startup publisher than a an unpublished housewife." Lord knows I never sent a book to EC, but ... ouch.

If there is a large untapped market we have all been ignorant of Hollan/Ravenous and their authors will have my abject and sincere apologies for not seeing it. At all. The ebook reading public is small, growing slowly, and I can’t see any way it would support those kind of figures over the next few years. My prediction, a new genre, new format and big mainstream ad push = overextending in every way.

Time, and sales volume, will tell.

Related posts:
So Much for the Industry's Famed Collegiality [Aug 03, 2007--MediaBistro]
MEN IN SHORTS too! [Aug 12, 2008--The agent in question, Lori Perkins]


  1. On the issue of online branding, if you google: hollan ravenous --right now this one minute old post is the top result.

  2. Yep, I noticed that too.

  3. First off the flash page is pretty and all but it cannot be read by screen grabbers so BOMB THERE.
    Next the black background is lame and makes the text hard to read.

    I don't know but they are already not impressing me.

  4. I happen to have sent Lori P a query back in March (before this new e-press came to light) regarding my series that was out with Aphrodite's Apples. Her intern requested the partial within two weeks. They've sat on my manuscript the past five months while I've told an established e-pub -- one who offered me a contract on the series two months ago -- that I was waiting to see what Lori P said first. I emailed her intern just last week (again before this new development came to light) and was assured my manu will be reviewed by the end of the week. Now I am wondering what I've been waiting around for? If this agency accepts the series, they may well want to sign me on with this upstart e-pub. Yes, financial backing and seasoned veterans could well be what this industry needs, but an upstart is still an upstart. My series was already the guinea pig series for an upstart that crashed and burned so yeah, been there, done that. I could have given my series to any number of upstart e-pubs back in March all on my own. Or, I could have accepted the contract with the tried-and-true e-publisher two months ago and already have book one back up for purchase and bringing in release month royalties.

    I went to Lori P because I wanted to see if I could break into the NY print market and/or help spearhead an e-book imprint with an established romance publisher. Just... blah. I think I'm going with "Option B" because this really isn't what I've waited 5 months for.

  5. Hmm. I think overall my post could be more clear. I might try and do time line on this one later in the week.

  6. JillNoelle6:57 PM

    Did anyone download their free short story (which, by the way, they call a Hot Fling).

    Anyway, I signed up for their newsletter and downloaded the short. I found it an interesting little tale, but hardly erotic and barely romantic. This is a good representative sample of the erotic/sexual content...you can judge for yourself:

    She pulled a condom from her bedside table and rolled it over his cock, and Joe fucked her in a variety of positions, trailing a train of denim and cotton from one ankle.

    Personally, I prefer something with a little more detail, a lot more emotion and, well, a few more words. :-)

    One other thing that just came to mind. The author who posted in their defense stated the following:

    *Ms. Perkins knows how to pick sexy erotic books that sell, big-time. As an example, she sold Jenna Jameson’s book HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE A PORN STAR. That book spent six weeks on the NYT bestseller list in 2004 and continues to backlist very well—in hardcover, no less.*

    Sure...that's a "How-to" (cough) book by maga-porn star, Jenna Jameson. I could probably do the same thing Ms. Perkins did, with Jenna's grocery list. :-)

    But that's hardly the same thing as knowing what kind of material appeals to erotic romance readers and, in particular, what appeals to women...

    Still, they're making big claims, so I'll be watching them closely to see how they do.

  7. Hot FlingTM, no less.

    (Can you really trademark 'hot fling'?)

  8. JillNoelle7:22 PM

    I'm sure you can trademark (wordmark?) a phrase. I pointed that out because it sounded familiar to me. Loose Id uses the term "Fling" for their shorts. Knew I'd seen it somewhere. :-)

  9. Yeah and someone explain to Ellora's Cave you cannot trademark the Spanish word for romance, Romantica.

  10. It's Spanish for Romantic and indeed it is trademarked.

  11. Great then I hope Spain suetica their asstica off for infringement on their copyrightica.

  12. It's trademarked only as it refers to erotic romantic fiction. If you speak Spanish you can still use it to refer to romance, but if you're looking for a name for your erotic romance fiction line you cannot legally call it Romantica. Just like you can call your husband Big Mac all you like, but you cannot sell your own hamburgers and call them Big Macs.

  13. Um, no. If you speak Spanish you can be romantica all you want, and in Spain you can call erotic romance romantica because (as far as I know) romantica is only trademarked in the U.S. But in the U.S. don't call erotic romance romantica unless it is published by EC.

    Like all two big old all beef hamburgers with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, lettuce and cheese on a sesame seed bun can be called just that -- NOT Big Mac -- unless you buy it at Mickey D's.

    And sure, call the DH Big Mac if you want.

  14. Further thoughts about how hollanpub will revolutionised E R ebook publishing and take us to the next level: I notice Hollan's main website has a Google rank of 3(Ravenous Romance is 0 but they haven't really opened yet). By comparison this blogspot blog is 4, DearAuthor is 5 (outof 10). All three sites are about 2 years old. It does make me wonder if Hollan really are ready to swim in the waters of the digital proletariat. By then, this whole thing is bringing out the bitch in me. Because so far the only difference I can see between Ravenous and any other epress start-up is a class difference. And I am not assuming that will make them worse at it than anyone else, but an order of magnitude better? Still not seeing it.

  15. They're dangling the print option carrot, too, as Simon and Schuster will reportedly be printing Ravenous' better selling titles. Granted, it's Simon and Schuster, but the print carrot looks less appealing when said carrot is growing dry and withered. Personally I canned the whole "And, and, and, if I sell well, my book will also be avaiable in print!!! So hurry up everyone and buy my e-book you aren't interested in reading so, you know, then you can buy it a second time in print!!!" pitch by my third e-book. Interestingly, my sales went up.

    So yeah, nothing new here to see.

  16. Ah yes, our friends at S&S who are always so author-friendly, and so pleased with the results from their deal with EC. [/sarcasm]

  17. Yeah, that S&S thing really popped up out of the blue, huh?

    I really do wish them the best but I think this idea that those dumbasses at the epubs now don't really know what they're doing, and so need the Real Professionals to step in and show them, is galling. Very condescending--but then...

  18. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I think the S&S thing was a misstatement, actually. I think their print relationship is actually with Sterling, which is wholly owned by Barnes & Noble. That would make more sense since Ravenous' other print books were put out by Sterling.

  19. Sterling or S&S, I still find the print carrot amusing. I've known too many e-book authors (myself included with my first few books before I saw the light) who spend half their time bemoaning the fact that they aren't in print. Meanwhile, their idea of promoting their existing catalog is to *apologize* for it being in e-format, only to leave them wondering why they aren't selling better. My advice now is -- don't write for an e-pub if you want print that bad.