Glass Ceiling, Sticky Floor--veinglory

Monday, June 30, 2008


While I roll my eyes when people say ‘oh, e-publishing is also so risky and terrible’—there is a reason to accentuate the negative when assessing prospective publishers for your work.

Look at it this way. If you ask: how many books do you want to sell? The answer is clearly: lots. But this is not something specific and empirical to help in selecting a press. If you ask: what number if sales in the first year would you consider so low you would regret your choice of publisher? The answers will vary depending on how ambitious and how realistic an author is. And if the publisher’s average sales or the lower end of their range are below that threshold, you need to cross them off your list.

‘How many could I sell’ is a best case scenario limited only by the e-book glass ceiling, that is factors such as the limited uptake of e-books and the lack of a universal format or reading device.

‘How few might I sell’ is a damage control question determined mainly by publisher liabilities such as a lack of skills, experience and funding.

If you choose an e-publisher at random there is a fairly large chance it is stuck to the floor, and a very small chance it is pressed to the ceiling. We need to keep this in mind when trying to divine the meaning of the latest sparkly website and opening day rah rah announcements.

I want all authors to head for the sky and get at least as far as the ceiling, but you absolutely have to hitch a ride with an e-publisher going in that direction. No amount of post-publication arm flapping will make up for hitching your book to the e-publishing equivalent of a lead balloon.

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So not romantic--veinglory

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Snagged from Monica Jackson's blog. When alphas go wrong... so very wrong.


http://view.break.com/527579 - Watch more free videos

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Opening up the Happy-ometer--veinglory

I am still updating the SALES page and adding more data.

Do you remember the happy-ometer? It involves sending me the answer to the following:

I am satisfied with the performance of my publisher [name of publisher] -- Y/N

So far I have the minimum requred 10 responses only for Ellora's Cave and Loose Id who scored %100 yes. They are keeping their authors happy.

Because it is a very simple measure I am going to open the happy-ometer to all publishers of any type and authors of any genre. All you need to do is send me the answer to that question to veinglory[at]gmail.com. If I get enough responses I will move the happy-ometer information to its own page.

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MARKET: Daddies -- Jules

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This one's a print erotica anthology, and thus out of our usual remit. But since our Glorious Leader has been whining about the lack of silver fox porn, I thought I'd point it out as encouragement to you all to write some. :-)

DADDIES: GAY EROTIC FICTION
Editor: Richard Labonte
Publisher: Cleis Press
Deadline: Aug. 15, 2008

For the erotic anthology DADDIES: Gay Erotic Fiction (Cleis Press, Spring 2009), I'm looking for short stories (max 6,000 words) about the lust and the love of younger men for older men, of twinks hankering for silver foxes, of young men drawn to sexual Daddies, of spunky lads just coming out who want to learn the erotic ways of the world from a man with the meat of years on his bones. Everything goes, from sexually playful to hardcore S/M, for this collection about relations between men of different generations.

Deadline: Aug. 15, 2008. Submissions to: Richard Labonte ; please put "Daddies" in the subject line. Original stories preferred, though reprints will be considered.

Found at Erotica Readers association. No pay rate given for this one, but there are a lot of other Cleis anthologies listed at the moment, and the rate is typically $50 plus two contributor's copies. Speaking of which, I did a trawl of ERA's anthology listings, and arranged them by closing date at my LiveJournal.

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NCP cont.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Finding themselves in a deep hole the PTB at New Concepts Publishing proceed to try and dig their way out

"Notice of Breach of Contract and Intention to Resolve
In as much as author ... Sydney Somers has refused to honor her obligations to this company regarding completion of her novels Howl for Me and One Dark Knight. And, in as much as New Concepts Publishing has invested money in art, editing, and promotion of these two books as well as other considerations and Ms. Shalon Stewart having been informed of this circumstance has stated the intention of not completing the projects, New Concepts Publishing has taken such steps as they deem appropriate to resolve this situation.


[sarcasm]Well, that clears that up then.[/sarcasm]

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The NCP 26

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I honestly don't know on what basis all of these authors were released by NCP. But if you are in the market for some reading you might want to take a look at some of their websites, and some of their books available elsewhere. Just a suggestion :) I don't have links for them all yet and am not 100% sure some of the links are right but I will tidy this up as I go. If you know a link for one of them feel free to drop it on me via a comment. Just spreading some author love. If we can get a good, accurately-linked list, even if it doesn't sell books it might give their Google pagerank a little pick-me-up.

Jan Springer
Ellen Ashe
Tracey Ranson
Louise Crawford
Tawny Stokes
Ellen Fisher
Kelly Caddell
Stephanie Bedwell-Grime
Karin Huxman
Barri Bryan
Anita Moore
Michelle M. Pillow
Sydney Somers
Ciarra Sims
Fiona Neal
Autumn Dawn
Shirley Martin
Ashley Ladd
Eden Robins
Shelley Munro
Joy Nash
Angelica Hart
Cynthia Barry
Penelope Marzec
Heide Katros

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NCP Howler--veinglory

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Howl for Me is listed as a new release from New Concepts Press with the authors named as Marlee Eastman, Marie Morin and Sydney Somers. On her blog Ellen Ashe quotes Sydney Somers as saying, in part: "I have no idea who the two other authors are on the cover on what their involvement in this project is. It was not an anthology. I wrote three chapters of a proposal for a full length novel a year and a half ago and that was ALL that NCP ever received from me. HOWL FROM ME as it is being released from NCP is not a story that I wrote and completed and I encourage my readers not to purchase the book...". Um, wow.

edited to add: see more Sydney Somer's website here (thanks Kayleigh)

Edited again to add a link to NCP's shit list. Long, isn't it?

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Pickled Cupid's Picks--veinglory


It isn't always easy to tell what on the Pickle Cupid blog is serious and what is tongue-in-cheek. But their picks for top e-publishers seem to be in earnest. Here they are in preference order:

Loose-Id
Ellora’s Cave
Double Dragon
Liquid Silver
Red Rose
Samhain


For comparison Teddy's picks in alphabetical order (is his blog dead?):

Amber Quill Press
Aspen Mountain Press
Belgrave House
Cerridwen Press
Changeling Press
Cobblestone Press
Drollerie Press
Ellora’s Cave
Liquid Silver Books
Loose Id
Man Love Romance Press
Samhain
The Wild Rose Press


And the EREC top 5 in sales volume order:

Ellora's Cave
Loose Id
Amber Quill Press
Samhain
Liquid Silver Books


No list is perfect but the e-publishers whose names crop up repeatedly are presumably doing something right. It looks about right to me.

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Evidence for the defence--veinglory

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It comes up pretty often, the idea that typos in a message are evidence of impaired intellect, or at very least bad manners. So when I found this slip of paper in one of my books I felt secretly a little pleased. You see this short note was typed up by the late Edwin G Boring. Prof. Boring was without a doubt a brilliant and courteous man and also a great writer. Amongst other things he founded the first independent psychology department at Harvard and wrote one of the most important texts on the history of psychology. He also can't type for toffee.

Of course when you have Prof. Boring's level of accomplishment a few typos just show an endearingly human side. And this was one little note to a close friend. The rest of us letting loose with our transpositions and homonyms on the open Internet have neither defence. (I hope no one objects to me posting this little snippet, I am not quite sure where copyright would fall on a 60 year old piece of ephemera, and I will be happy to take it down if requested by a member of the Boring family).

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Pub Weekly Article

Monday, June 23, 2008


The New E- in Erotica. Publishers Weekly with an up-to-the-second realisation that a lot of ebooks have sex in them, oh and women like M/M. A big pile if duh for the ebook reading public, but nice to see it out in the mainstream, I suppose.

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New Market: Love Stories Magazine

I happen to be rather fond of romance short stories--both reading and writing them. However the market tend to be limited. there are a few anthologies, some sigle e-short markets and some magazine who might slot a story in between the recipes and the horoscopes. There also seems to be something afoot over at Grass Roots Magazines with a new magazine in the works called Love stories.

"The overall theme should involve short stories of love and romance. These stories may be contemporary, historic, inspirational, paranormal, or any other theme as long as love and romance are the main thrust of the story. Story length should range from 3,000 to 5,000 Words. While we will accept any story having to do with love and romance, we are currently seeking stories with some sexuality incorporated into the plot to stimulate interest and allow the reader to live vicariously. However, stories should not be overtly graphic or pornographic in nature. Suggestive phrases should be used in the place of reference to body parts and inappropriate language."


Payment is $300 for a story and $50-75 for a poem (a paying romance poetry market, that's like finding a unicorn!).

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YADS, Egads--veinglory

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Display sites are getting more confusing by the day. The standard YADS (yet another display site) just lists blurbs and covers and links to a point of sales. The financial model will be a combination of advertising and/or selling a 'prestige' service with extra perks and/or selling author services like promotion or self publishing. YADS can be fun, especially if they develop a social networking element, but they are almost always a waste of time in terms of selling books.

Another model is the content site. The site seeks writers to provide content, money is made mainly by advertising which may be shared with the writer (e.g. Publicbookshelf). The difference is that when you sell 'content' you do this instead of publishing. It might be a viable use of reprints but perhaps not even then. Fiction general doesn't usually function too well as content, and if you go this path you may as well put up your own ads. I notice these types of sites offer fairly vague contracts without clear length of contracts, earning share etc.

Novel Storm is another variation where authors post books and people can pay to read them online. Basically this replaces advertising revenue with direct charges. I am really not convinced that is a profitable model, but okay. However I feel there are some problems with saying: "You can earn money from your posts and as always there is the prospect of having your work published." Because if you entire work is available and on sales, your book is published already. And if you intend to publish your work digitally I strongly suspect their are better ways to do it. Better than paying to submit your novel with the option of paying them to publishing it physically.

People can get very enthusiastic about these kinds of sites and their various way of spinning the YADS and content models but I would be astounded if their offered better earning potential, a better learning experience, a better contracts or in fact a better anything than working with a reputable e-publisher.

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Back Up, Now!--veinglory

Friday, June 20, 2008

Now, I didn't have a terrible deletion incident, although I've had a few in the past. I did realise that the sales tracker data exists as a single file on my laptop. The same laptop I never got a case for, cart everywhere, cart through airports and leave in hotels. So I stuck it in my gmail account as a back up. I know nothing online is 100% secure but I don't store any names in it anyway.

A lot of my stuff used to get put on discs that now are completely unreadable. Bugger. If anyone has other back up tips please share them. Online, Google docs, flash drive?

Meanwhile I have been dropping lapsed data from the sales tracker and now both Wild Rose and Freya's Bower are below the reportable level. So, if you don't remember updating your data within the last year, now would be a good time :)

I have just updated the first month sales data, showing Samhain moving into second place after Ellora's Cave.

AVERAGE FIRST MONTH SALES
[updated June 20, 2008]
Ellora's Cave--728 copies (24 books)
Samhain--229 copies (18 books)
Loose Id--205 copies (43 books)
Amber Quill--203 copies (9 books)
Liquid Silver--138 copies (10 books)
Torquere--122 copies (10 books)
Cobblestone--71 copies (31 books)
Freya's Bower--[insufficient data]
Wild Rose--[insufficient data]

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SL Publishing

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The most confusing thing about SL Publishing is that it is relatively hard to work out what they are selling. Some kind of subscription deal for access to yaoi/slash fiction, I think? I get the feeling their readership is most built in from more direct connections/communities. But a 'what we are selling' blurb would still be nice for cold callers like myself.

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Seeking large press authors--veinglory

I have the latest version of the sales tracker up on our main page. I am reasonably happy now that the data set (over 180 books!) gives a ballpark idea of sales in this genre and format. But I feel like a little perspective is still needed. After all, sales levels for e-books are one thing, but just how good are the other options?

I am looking for authors who are published with major erotic romance imprints such as Harlequin Blaze or Avon Red (or any press larger than Ellora's Cave), and who are willing to share sales data. The data would be anonymous and not broken down even as far as the specific publisher and will based on at least three authors and at least 5 books. If you have a book currently on sale, or on sale within the last 365 days, that is published with a large erotic romance imprint please consider letting me know 1) publisher/imprint (for my information only) 2) sales at the first statement (first quarter?) 3) total copies sold to date--and if relevant 4) sales after one year.

For more information please email me at veinglory at gmail.com

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What happens when you lose the point-person....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A lot of online initiatives revolve around a single person. When money or large scale inconvenience are on the line you need to get that person to provide some emergency contact information. This need not be complicated, just a few people who know them in meat-space and can let you know if they lose their internet, or even actually have something very serious happen to them. Case in point:

FF&P PRISM CONTEST NOTICE

*Permission to forward*

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have lost contact with our Prism contest coordinator, Victoria Stark. We have exhausted our resources (email, phone, snail mail, friends), and she has not responded back to us. If anyone has been in contact with her, please let her know the board is trying to get a hold of her and for her to please respond ASAP. The last we heard the contest was proceeding as expected and the entries were about to go to the judges. Unfortunately, we have no proof this happened. We have three volunteers willing to drive to NY to get the materials from her if she has failed to send them out, but we need her to respond before that can happen. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience and plan to move forward with the contest if we can get the materials returned. In the future, we plan to utilize online resources to ensure one person is not responsible for the whole contest.

If you have entered the Prism contest, please email the following address with your name, email address, name of book(s) entered, and category entered: contest at romance- ffp.com.

Thank You,

FF&P Board


Edited to add:

*Permission to forward*

Since we have been unable to contact the Prism coordinator, Victoria Stark, the board will now take over the contest. Thanks to everyone who made the attempt to contact her or who gave suggestions and well wishes. We appreciate the support.

If you are a Prism entrant and have not contacted us, please do so at contest@romance-ffp.com by June 30th. After that date, we will have to assume we have all entries. We will need your name, email address, name of book(s), and category entered.

Thank you!

FF&P Board

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Love in an Old Climate--veinglory

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The thing about erotic romance is that, for the most part, the love object has to be something you might conceivably find hot. Now I try to argue that that line can be seriously blurred so long as the story is told through the eyes of a protagonist who finds the love object hot. But I get that there are limits.

I happen to like older guys. But they do have to be rather fit, hot older men. In general sex and the apologetically elderly is a squick. I mean look at this article about the tribulations of romance (and sex) in retirement homes. These are thing most of us, clearly, don't want to have to think about. It is easier if older people are Rockwellian archetypes that knit, whittle and tell stories by the fire. (Not spank, wank and use a leather sex swing).

Online we come across notions that older heroines (over 40) have too much baggage for romance and are relegated to women's fiction. As I am now closer to 40 than 30 and decidedly baggage-free (unless you count the dog) I am with the commenters that suggested this was something of a broad brush. Some people can be single and sexy at sixty, others can't manage it at all at 20. In fiction everything should be possible.

However there is clearly a range of feelings and interests. There are erotica anthologies specifically about older women (Ripe Fruit) and erotic romance (Gray Pleasures, first spotted at Karen Scott's blog). Can anyone come up with other examples where one of the main characters is at least 50? My search for MM with a real silver fox is ongoing and so far unsuccessful.

Ultimately I hope old can be sexy, if not now then at least by the time I get there. (70, right? 40 isn't really old in the age of Madonna)

Edited to add, for a more positive take on dating over 80 check out this excerpt from "Assisted Loving".

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Frugal or Too Far?--veinglory

Monday, June 16, 2008


A lot of small presses cater to niche markets. Their sales are measured in hundreds not thousands. They have to keep down costs; I get that. But I still think there is a saving too far. For example: not paying for cover art. Oh dear, yes I am going on about this again. But I have been given some very nice cover art of the years, and I expect that the people who made it were properly compensated--as they should be.

Notice this from Vanilla Heart: 1) Hidden Passages cover, 2) totally free photo stock. (This and another example noticed by a sharp-eyed Absolute Write forum member)

It's a nice photo, does it matter that it is free? I guess it's a matter of opinion. My opinion is that the editors should be paid, in money. Also the photographer, the cover designer, the interior designer and everyone who contributes to the work. It fits into my issue with offering 'publication', and nothing else, as a prize. Even when amateurs are recruited by large presses, such as the Harlequin "real men" covers--those that got the job, got paid for it at the standard rate. The only people who might not get paid for the first few years (or longer) might be the owners, that's the down side of being the boss.

Now this amount may not be high, but it should be reasonably proportional. I don't really know but would estimate a cover artist might get paid about 1% of what a book normally makes with that press (Writer's Exchange thinks 10% but I reckon that's a bit steep). In the case of many small presses that would often be less than a dollar, but stock photos can be had for that amount. Or perhaps I have it wring and the 'free' photos are used under license but a fair amount is paid to the photographer when the book starts earning? Because that would be a gracious approach to respecting the artist but living within the companies means.

I also recognise the dangers of paying, but not very much. I think that is because it blurs the amateur/professional boundary to be paid, but at an effectively below-minimum-wage level. Back in the days when I thought it was a good idea to run a zine (OMG what a disaster) I offered a token honorarium. The end result was that I got panned for paying small amounts (around $5) whilst the 99% of zines that don't pay at all escaped criticism. The zine closed at a distinct pecuniary loss and I retired to the sideline to live out the maxim 'those who can't do, blog'.

Perhaps that 'low pay' backlash is why presses that can't really afford pro rates prefer to offer "fame" rather than a pittance. But it really shouldn't be that way. After all artists and writers set their own rates, and work at their own level. With the small press that sometimes means working for small change. And yes, some choose to offer their work for free, maybe I should respect that too. I can't know for sure that they didn't have this kind of exploitation in mind.

I know plenty of people don't agree with me on this, but I think that a professional product should be a collaboration of professionals. Amateur is amateur, professional is professional, but mixing the two hardly seems fair to those put in the non-paying category. Yes, no? Throw me a reality check here. As a former stock photographer I am hardly unbiased.

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The Alpha-Male

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One of the things that I found interesting at Authorfest was that, on the Romance panel, none of the speakers said the alpha male was a requirement for romance. Not that the wooing/seducing male is unpopular, quite the reverse, but he is not compulsory. In fact, I think for the first time I heard several speakers use the term 'alpha male' as an implicitly derogatory term roughly synonymous with 'thug'.

To me the alpha male is a male character who exerts a level of control over the heroine, either physically or through some level of deceit or manipulation--through use of power. This can be as explicit as a pirate abducting the damsel or more subtle such as pursuing a seduction despite being told not to (gotta love those stalkers). I think this sort of pursuit can make for an interesting story, it just isn't to my taste, as a reader or a writer.

I get that a strong, sweep-you-off-your-feet hero is still the predominant fantasy figure in romance. But I am thrilled to see a panel of authors from a diversity of genres, writing for a range of publishers, quite firmly behind the idea that romance in a much broader genre that can use other dynamics in the central relationship(s). Of course alpha female, MF hold the BDSM, is still a little hard to find....

p.s. scamwatch: "SFWA" contest is not legit, avoid.

p.p.s Cum Hither can now be found at Pickled Cupid

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Authors are People too

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I have appeared in public, offline as "Emily Veinglory" exactly twice, the second time being today. In general I am an author only online and still feel a little baffled about signing books and so forth. If you read the blog much you probably know that I am not big on offline promo. I managed to remember to take some books to sell but totally failed to take and business cards or swag even though I do have some. Oh, well.

It is strange to try and negotiate an author identity that is both authentic and yet reasonably effective in a 'product promotion' way--that is to say, not pissing off too many potential customers. But, hell, the same is true online. Just recently we see Holly Lisle getting party-political and then having a bit of a go at a reader who objected. Mrs Giggles has given up blogging. It has to be fun to be worth while, I think, and the drama churn can get a bit tiring.

But anyway. I got to give my usual 'tough love' advice about small presses at the Authorfest 2008 in Schaumburg IL today. It was near the end of the day and quite a few people had already left or weren't paying a lot of attention, so I kept if fairly brief. People seemed to either agree with my assessment or not be interested/involved enough to disagree. If you where there feel free to drop me some feedback.

It was good to meet a few of you there and I appreciated the support of my posse from the Schaumburg Writers Meetup. There may be a picture or two to show later.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

On Nathan Bransford's blog the future of the e-books is doing the rounds again. Meanwhile I need to get ready for Authorfest. Expect some proper, longer posts and a 'fest report soon.

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Rinse, Lather, Repeat--veinglory

Thursday, June 12, 2008


* Iris Woes, Again
* Disgraced Ex-Ocean’s Mist Press Owner Fakes Her Name On A Contract Again…
* BBB rates NCP as UNSATISFACTORY

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008



Feel free to forward or repost this image.

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Talkback--veinglory

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Some snippets from around the place, with my comments added....


"I can see someone writing slightly huskier guys, but given that nobody is writing romances about women my size even when they’re writing rubenesque heroines, I’m not thinking this is a trend that will be embraced." [Shannon C.]

I don't know about trend, but I will read BBW and BBM readily--I have my own personal preferences, but in a novel what is important to me is that the protagonist desires the object of affection, not that I would. Likewise, I don't require the protagonist to be like me.


"L&L Dreamspell is now paying Advances - even to brand new authors! From $100 to $250, depending on the book's length and author's experience." [L & L Dreamspell]

The website remains pretty terrible but they specify that they take erotic romance. Guess it's time to update the publisher list again. The payment of advances is interesting but their posted contract is vague, does not specify what costs are included in "net", suggests that they take movie rights and suggests the author agrees to co-sue plagiarists, presumably including legal costs?


"Indeed, if e-books become the norm, the publishing industry as we know it may wither away. Books may end up serving mainly as promotional material for authors’ other activities, such as live readings with paid admission." [Paul Krugman]

Yep, digital products inevitably become free. That's why Microsoft went bankrupt.


p.s. I missed posting for a few days there because I am travelling for work again and so ran a bit short of time and wi fi.

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Scalzi talks about self-publishing, so I do as well -- Jules

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Scalzi has a good post up about going with a publisher versus self-publishing. One of the things he addresses is the idea that self-publishing is good because you get to keep 100% of the money. As he explains in very clear fashion, this is simply not true. There are costs involved in putting out a professional product and getting it sold to the public at large, and if you're the publisher, you'll be paying them.

This is a conversation I get to have every so often. I'm epublished, and a lot of people think that epublishing must have very low costs because you don't have to pay to print, store and ship physical copies. Thus, the suggestion goes, I should self-publish and get 100% of the cover price instead of 35%.

Well, no. Because the cost of creating and handling the physical item is a relatively small fraction of the cost of bringing that book to market. Good cover art costs money. Good editing costs money. These and other things are necessary if you want people to look at the first book, and then to buy more books. Running a commercial website costs money as well.

And then there's something that you can't measure in cold hard cash, but that is vitally important -- reputation. My publisher has a good reputation in its own little niche. Readers know that they can try a new author, and have a decent chance of getting a book they'll enjoy. A book that has had someone other than the author's friends look at it and say, "Yes, this is competently written," and then work on it with the author to make it even better. That's why I can put out my next book through them and reasonably expect it to sell a thousand or so copies over the course of the initial two year contract, without having to spend large amounts of my own time and money trying to get people to look at the book.

A thousand copies doesn't sound much by the standards of the mass market paperback market, but it is still well above the average sales for a self-published book (around 75-150 copies for print books from the major POD vanity presses, by their own publicly stated figures on titles and total copies). Maybe I could do better than average, especially as I have an established fanbase now. But really, I'd rather take my 35% on 1000 copies and let my publisher do the hard work of publishing it. I've *done* my stint at being a publisher, back in my zine days, and while I got a lot of enjoyment out of it I'd rather spend my time writing. If I feel the urge to scratch that itch again, it'll be on a project that doesn't fit the commercial needs of my publisher.

[I wrote this and posted it to my personal blog on LiveJournal a month back. Alas, when I tried to post it here, I discovered that Blogger had gone from making me try several times before deigning to upload my posts, to refusing to talk to me at all. Hence lateness. Sorry.]

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The Loss of the Comma--Pepper

Friday, June 06, 2008

With my deepest apologies to Master Shakespeare.


Fans, Authors, Editors, lend me your ears
I come to bury Comma not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them
The good is oft interred with their bones
So let it be with Comma. The noble publishers
Hath told you Comma was unnecessary:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Comma answer'd it.
Here, under leave of EC and the rest--
For EC is an honourable pub
So are they all, all honourable pubs--
Come I to speak in Comma's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me
But they say he was unneccesary
And they are honourable pubs.


I just wanted to hold a small memorial service for proper punctuation. I've been told by my editors and my final-line editors (at two different epublishers) that commas are unnecessary in fiction, because fiction is "informal." Unfortunately, commas were not the only punctuation mark assassinated. Semi-colons are also a target, and so I removed them completely from the above speech.

I, personally, feel the loss of the comma quite deeply. He was a friend to me. I think of all the English teachers who did everything in their power to teach me how to use Comma correctly. I think of my own students, who, at the age of eighteen, finally learned actual rules for comma use. I think of all the professional proofreaders and authors who struggle valiantly to preserve this noble, yet dying, creature. Keep fighting the good fight! Commas are not unnecessary. Commas do not disrupt the flow of the sentence. Novels are not less formal than other types of writing. And publishers, whether they're epublishers or in New York, shouldn't be so frightened of this piece of punctuation. It's not hard to use properly!

But I am shouting into the void.

Good night, sweet Comma. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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New levels of unprofessional presentation in e-publishing--veinglory

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not our genre, but still. Consider me boggled. To be further boggled check out the website.

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Breaking up (with Amazon) is hard to do--veinglory


It seems like every week or so someone seems to think they invented the idea of boycotting Amazon.com. Right now it's Allison Randal. Who? Apparently someone worth commenting on if you are galleycat, Andrew Savikas, Brian Morearty and Paul Jessup. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but seriously. Even boycotting Amazon specifically over the POD thing is hardly an idea that was new and interesting on May21st.

See also this post about the trouble with giving up your affiliate links. The thing is I'm boycotting giving them my money, not taking theirs. Call it enlightened self-interest or call it hypocrisy, it's my line and that's where I draw it. I mean, what next, not submitting to publishers who sell through Amazon?

So, for those of you not buying from Amazon, how is it going? Pain in the ass, right? Overstock.com sucks. There are other online book stores but they won't also sell you a bicycle, diamond earrings and pesto. Still, we do what we must. I haven't cracked yet.

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RIP Aphrodite Unlaced

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This from their website:

"Regretfully, Aphrodite Unlaced has closed it's doors for the time being.

We'd like to thank all of our readers for their patronage, and all of our writers for sharing their extraordinary talents with us.

We hope to re-emerge new and improved sometime in the future! In the meantime, may you be safe, warm, and well-loved!"

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Emily gets out her hobbyhorse (or is that 'high horse'?)--veinglory

Monday, June 02, 2008

Not very long ago you would see gay romance described by epublishers in terms such as 'alternative lifestyle', or listed as subjects they would not consider in the same grammatical breath as rape and child abuse. Fortunately that has rapidly become very rare indeed. Now works are labelled simply as gay, lesbian, menage, transgender etc and publishers are more likely to be debating the correct contextual use of more ambiguous terms like queer. Those who remain uninterested in publishing gay fiction usually list it as a genre beyond their remit, not a taboo they abhor.

I do, however, continue to discover some throwbacks. I saw this promo post: "Writers Exchange E-Publishing is thrilled to announce that the Reader's Eden Ezine is now online. Our thanks to our editor Sean McLachlan for all his work in getting it ready." And went to find more about Writer Exchange Epublishing. Whereupon I read:

"* Romance - This includes sweet or sensual but no erotica, homosexuality, beastiality [sic], non-consensual relationships or undue crudity. This can also include straight romance or multi-genre (ie mixed with paranormal, time-travel, mythological creatures etc) - We are particularly looking for vampire, werewolf and other paranormal romances."

My usual comment about this phrasing, if you don't see the problem right away, is to encourage you to substitute the name of your ethnicity, religion or some other demographic variable in the place of homosexuality in this sentence and see how that feels, having a basic romantic orientation slipped in between 'too much sex' and 'bonking sheep'. To publishers I advise, no matter what you personally think of homosexual behavior, please please please just limit your comments to something like: "we are not seeking erotica or gay romance at this time" and be done with it.

To my eyes they also doth protest too much about not being a vanity publisher, whilst specifying that to appear in print one must pay a fee, and strongly urging authors to buy a specific book before submitting. They seem to feel it is only vanity if the money they require or request goes in their own pocket. That may seem perfectly logical to the publisher but from an author's point of view money is still flowing away from the writer. That puts one in a category other than conventional commercial publishing, no matter what you call it.

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Linden Bay open to subs again--veinglory

Sunday, June 01, 2008

"Linden Bay Romance General Submissions have reopened.

We are currently accepting submissions of previously unpublished works ranging from 40,000 - 65,000 words ... We publish strictly romance. We do not publish dramas or comedies whose main focus is not on the relationship of the main characters. A series in any of the above sub-genres is of particular interest. All works should remain lighter in tone; extremely dark plotlines are not encouraged.

For full guidelines please consult our submissions page at http://www.lindenbayromance.com/submissions.html"

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Murder Your Darlings

Ungracious author responses to criticism are doing the rounds on the blogs again. Especially the rampage Adra Steia had in the comments section at Book Binge.

What strikes me most is the author's suggestion that criticising a book is like criticising some one's baby. I have made the comparison in jest myself. But the fact is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's advice applies as much today as it ever did: murder your darlings. If your book feels like a baby then it may be a red flag about that author.

Of course emotional responses happen. And I must say I think the counter-attacks on blogs are basically author-baiting. This does introduce a level of 'be sure not to slip on the banana skin I thoughtfully placed in front of you'. But it does also demonstrate that ungracious responses do escalate the bad press.

After all, if you insult some one's baby they will probably walk away, not hit you with their handbag--if only to protect the baby from the ensuing scuffle.

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