Hard numbers -- Jules

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's that time of the month again. Royalty statement time. Time for me to bore you all again with the mantra of "8 copies in the first month is not a bestselling book, whatever your publisher may be telling you".

My royalty statement this month is showing the effects of the financial turndown. Either that, or it's something I said or failed to say on a blog somewhere, and I've caused more than my usual number of "never buying one of *her* books again" moments... Either way, numbers are definitely down slightly across my titles.

That means one book just missed out on reaching 1000 copies sold since it first came out, when I'd expected it to hit that mark this month. On the other hand, Lord and Master has just squeezed past the 1500 mark. And I'm still getting a tiny trickle of sales reports on the last few copies of the treeware edition of The Syndicate, which was formally taken out of print back in June.

Titles vary in how successful they are, even with the same author, publisher and genre. But at this point I'm going to be disappointed if one of my titles doesn't manage 500 copies in the first year. 500 copies is a respectable enough number in small press publishing.

I've been around long enough to be on at least one or two people's auto-buy lists, but in erotic romance ebooks, people mostly seem to buy by publisher. Do your homework on sales levels when checking out a potential publisher. "Good sales" isn't enough. Nor is "bestselling". What are the actual numbers behind those phrases? The hard number behind one publisher's "wonderful performance" may be what another house considers a poor level of sales.

The place with the highest overall sales isn't necessarily the best place for your book. There may be issues with the standard contract, there may be issues with getting paid in a format that doesn't involve massive taxes or currency conversion fees if you live in a different country, they may not publish the genre you write. If sales numbers were my only consideration, I'd learn to write het so I could sell to the mainstream. But sales is one of the factors that goes into the mix, and when it's your book at stake, you want hard and spiky numbers, not warm and fuzzy phrases.

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E-pubs and in ehouse' e-magazines--veinglory

A lot of epublishers now have some kind of electronic magazine that is rather more formal and traditionally formatted than a simple newsletter. I, personally, do not read them. I am not sure how much I am missing out on but I am a bit 'goal oriented'--I go to epublishers for ebooks. I am not fond of supplemental materials. Perhaps some of you can put me right on that issue and tell me what I have been missing and which epublishers emagazines are the most interest, and if any have good industry information rather than more in house/entertainment/readership loyalty material.

There is of course nothing wrong with putting out a magazine, my personal tastes being quite beside the point. But it is rather labor intensive and must suck up staff time--and most epresses are not richly endowed when it comes to staffing. I notice that Cobblestone Press Quarterly recently came out looking gorgeous. But despite being marked 'September' it was clearly released in November--two months overdue?

I am also left feeling a little guilty about the number of requests for emagazine content that I have ignored. I do want to support my publishers--but I am not sure that is a terribly effective or efficient way for me to do so. Perhaps I am wrong to think so because Google patterns show that readers are constantly looking for free erotic/romance material and that magazine provide that, wrapped up with promotion of their/our books and the genre/ebook format in general.

So what are your thoughts--in house emagazines: wonderful promotion opportunity for author, publisher and out inductry as a whole--or sparkly distraction for the core business of creating the publishing ebooks?

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Links--veinglory

Friday, November 28, 2008

* An interview with Holly Schmidt re: Ravenous Romance (now open for business).

* Website for DCL's main cover artist.

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PLIST Update--veinglory


ERECsite.com publisher list (PLIST) update November 28. Total list 61 current markets.

Removed from list: Logical Lust--no problems with this publisher but it does not really have an erotic romance focus. Although recently they have been moving more in this area so I am open to relisting them based on your comments.

Added to list: Blade Publishing

Added to list: Carnal Passions

Edited to Add: Red Rose added to the 'Smoke' category.

Updates, additions and corrections for the list should be emailed to veinglory at Gmail.com.

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Preditors & Editors Comparison

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It is never wise to depend on a single source for information, especially when it comes from the internet. In terms of publisher listings, one of the long established and most comprehensive sites is Preditors and Editors. I visit this site to see if a press has reached a high enough profile to be listed, and to see if there are any specific warnings or recommendations.

Listings tend to be very short, and given the size of the site it is not surprising that some of the listings are out of date (i.e. listing Loose Id as "new" and Lady Aibell as still open. Other comments and notations are to some extent a matter of opinion. Nevertheless here is a quick summary of the P&E listings of the erotic romance epublished also listed at ERECsite--for the purposes of comparison.

Please note the following is a summary of information from the Preditors and Editors site not material or recommendation from ERECsite. For full information and notations please visit Preditors and Editors.

Publishers Not Listed at P&E
Alinar, Amira, Black Velvet Seductions, Carnal Desires, Crescent Moon Press, Dark Castle Lords, Dark Roast Press, Diabolic, Discipline and Desire, Draumr, eXcessica, Forbidden Publications, Freya's Bower, LA Media, Logical Lust, Lyrical Press, Mystic Moon, Noble Romance Publishing, Pink Petal Books, Ravenous Romance, Romance Divine, Shadowfire Press, Siren, Tease Publishing, Wicked Women of Color.

Publishers Listed
ABCD Webmasters (specifically the imprints Wicked Velvet and Wicked Castle), Amber Quill, Aspen Mountain Press, Asylett Press, Cacoethes, Changeling Press, Cobblestone Press, Ellora's Cave, Erotique, Eternal Press, eXtasy, Hearts on Fire Books, Imajinn Books, Lachesis Publishing, L & L Dreamspell, Linden Bay, Liquid Silver Books, Loose Id, Midnight Showcase, Mojocastle Press, New Concepts Publishing, Phaze, Pink Flamingo, Red Rose Publishing, Renaissance Ebooks, Resplendence Publishing, Romance at Heart, Samhain Publishing, Tantalizing Tales, Torquere, Total E-Bound, Whiskey Creek Press, Whispers, The Wild Rose Press.

Special Categories
Highly Recommended: Ellora's Cave
Recommended: Liquid Silver Books
Not Recommended: Red Rose Publishing

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Dark Castle Lords in Print

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dark Castle Lords is preparing to release their first print novels:

* The Lord of Merewood Keep by CH Admirand
* Naked Visions Silver Dreams by by Veronica Towers/DCL Peter DeCicco
* Deadly Sins by Annmarie Ortega, Kate Hofman, Adra Steia, Serena Knight, S.J. Ronayne, Skyler Grey & Veronica Towers/DCL Peter Decicco Edited to Add: it appears there is an update on the line-up pf authors contributing to this volume's current edition. I will post it when I receive it. -- Further edited to add I still have received no updates. But according to the yahoogroup this book has an as yet undisclosed author line up. So the only correction I can offer is that the author list shown is out of date.
* The Tudor Falcon by Pam Seres

The Tudor Falcon seems rather like the odd one out, having not been published by DCL as an ebook as the other three were. The other three were presumably selected on the basis of ebook sales volume? One must assume that the fourth book is selected because it is the basis of DCL's movie project and/or because Ms. Seres is co-owner of the publisher.... In my opinion the cover art is not consistent with the usual appearance of 'print' romance works.

#

Edited to Add: it has been suggested that this information is incorrect so I would like to offer my sources

#1: DCL yahoogroup dated June 1st, 2008 [links in this post now broken due to message archive being set to members-only]

"Stuart & I are happy to announce our first DCL Publications, LLC print run!

Congratulations to the following DCL authors and the Dark Castle Lords that will grace their covers which will be done by Annie Marshall, of Beyond the Book Productions.

We would also like to thank Ines Dinn, of InesCreations for her wonderful e-book covers of these novels that helped create the following author’s sales.

NAKED VISIONS SILVER BLUE DREAMS by Veronica Towers/DCL Peter DeCicco

THE LORD OF MEREWOOD KEEP by C.H. Admirand/DCL Bill Freda

DEADLY SINS by Annmarie Ortega, Kate Hofman, Adra Steia, Serena Knight, S.J. Ronayne, Skyler Grey & Veronica Towers/DCL Peter Decicco

Look for more information coming soon!"


Althought this message is fairly old I see no corrections or changes offered in later posts. If there have been updates I would be happy to hear about them.

#

#2: yahoogroup messaged dated August 24, 2008

"I have been traveling some and gearing up for the next faze of the first THE DARK CASTLE LORDS/THE TUDOR FALCON movie which will be filmed in the NYC area.

For movie updates and progress check out:
http://www.myspace.com/thedarkcastlelords_movie

After much consideration and offers from NYC publishers, I have decided to have DCL Publications publish the movie novel which will be available in print and e-book next year before the movie comes out. The cover will be done soon."


#

Updated with correction as provided to the yahoogroup:

"This information is not correct:

DEADLY SINS by Annmarie Ortega, Kate Hofman, Adra Steia, Serena Knight, S.J. Ronayne, Skyler Grey & Veronica Towers/DCL Peter Decicco

The sin novel will go into print and the new authors will soon be announced along with our release dates."


#

Further Edited to Add: Commentary from Pickled Cupid.

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[GUEST POST] Basics of Male POV

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This guest post is provided by Sascha Illyvich. You can visit Sascha at literalseduction.net and radiodentata.com

In this brief article I’ll be giving you a few tips on creating characters and writing from the Male POV. These tips are pulled straight from my workshop: Writing from the Male POV and Creating Better Heroes.

Most of character creation is just voice. Once we figure out back story, physical attributes and the like, we have a basic character with which to work with. That’s generally the easy part but when it comes to voice, women seem to do well once stories hit publication but during that four to six weeks (or longer) it takes to create the first draft, many writers struggle with opposite sex gender writing.

The problem is, that it’s not as easy as observing the other sex. There is a reason for the way humans of both genders behave. But nobody bothers to ask questions, and if they do, I feel they ask the wrong ones.

We deal with archetypes, whether we realize it or not. Those archetypes are what they are for a reason but unless we’ve taken the time to understand the ones we use the most, then we will struggle with writing in the opposite POV.

In my class, I teach basics such as Emotional Response, Feelings and explanations relating to the previously mentioned things.

The key here to remember is that a person’s behavior is based on the tape in their head, i.e. the belief system they hold onto that was formed in early childhood. Why? Why does he frown, dress casually, wear his hair the way he does?

Probably because he’s a man and that’s the way he likes it. Our first encounter with him may take form in any setting, but one thing should be clear from the start. Don’t mess with me! This applies if your hero is ultra Alpha or even Beta with strong Alpha tendencies. Variations occur.

The tougher question we have is why is his behavior justified by a standard he holds that he no longer needed? In short, what is the why behind his way of being?

A-Ha! Now we’ve hit a key phrase! His method of being is no longer a necessity for survival. This leads us to asking what archetype is he?

For a well-balanced and believable pair, he’s got to respond to the same scenarios in a manner that compliments hers. Even in weakness there are strengths. He cannot react. Why? There is a difference in definition according to professional speaker and the Worlds Greatest Salesman, Zig Ziglar. When you respond to an event, that is a positive. When you react, that is a negative.

Our stories are about balance and acceptance of our sensuality. They’re about (in many cases) a happily ever after. Our goal is often to get a hero and heroine together (or more-some) that distracts the reader from the stresses of daily life that we mentioned earlier.

For those interested in my course, it’s a week long course that details the things we’ve covered here in more detail. I also go into detail on the gay male mindset! You can always email me at thesilverwolfprince@gmail.com and ask to be put on the list for my next course. The fee is inexpensive and is educational, so it’s a tax write off!

I hope this has helped you somewhat in your journey crafting the perfect hero that readers want to die for!

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Ellora's Cave Ebay Store--veinglory


If you visit the Ellora's Cave Ebay store, at least when I did at 2pm GMT, it shows only a link to the Ellora's cave main page and a single 'buy it now' product. Presumably they are undergoing some kind of transition or restocking. However Ebay policy is a rather explicit on this point: "Linking from an eBay Store to Web sites that offer to trade, sell, or purchase goods or services, or including links for any purpose other than those listed above is not permitted."

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Background material: economics for sf&f writers -- Jules

Monday, November 17, 2008

SF blogger James Nicoll has a post up asking about useful economics texts for science fiction and fantasy writers, from which I deduce that he has just read yet another example of why recommendations might be useful. Those of you who write paranormal romance might find some of the books mentioned in the comments thread to be useful background reading. I suspect they may also be of use to some historical romance writers. There are some good "popular science" type books being recommended.

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Bulletin: Agent Jenny Rappaport Goes Solo


Previously of the Lori Perkins Agency Jenny Rappaport will now be going it alone with her own agency. Ms, Rappaport will focus on sci fi/fantasy, but will also consider submissions of historical and paranormal romance. You can find the Rappaport Agency website here.

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Publisher alert: Alyson -- Jules

Alyson was at one time a respected GLBT press, but there have been rumblings over the last month or two that all is not well. If you were thinking of sending a submission there (or have sent one recently), read the thread at Absolute Write, in particular posts 11, 12, 13 and 24. It appears that Alyson may be "gone away, no forwarding address". I have no independent confirmation of this at present.

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writing for the money -- Jules

I've just had an interesting demonstration of commercial considerations in writing. I regularly check the submission guidelines posted at ERA, partly to look for markets for things I've written, and partly for inspiration -- I've had a couple of good short stories out of reading interesting calls for submissions there, including my vampire short Promises To Keep, which is published by Loose Id but was originally written to submit to an anthology edited by M Christian. And there was a period when I tried to come up with something for every appropriate call there, not necessarily with the intention of submitting it, but as a writing exercise.

I've just been over there for pretty much the first time since I started the new day job, and started skimming the listings. And skipped right over the one for pulp sf shorts -- because it only pays $25.

There was a time when I'd have been moderately pleased with $25 for a short. I probably wouldn't have written a story especially for such a market, unless the call itself inspired me to something, but I'd have spent time considering which stories in hand best fitted which markets before submitting them. Now, it's not really worth my time doing even that, not if the money is the only interest I might have in the market. I'm a lot better off spending the time working on my next novel, because I'll get a much better return on my investment of time. That vampire anthology would have paid me $50 or $75 plus 2 copies of the book (the usual rates for presses like Alyson or Cleis), but I've had something like $650 so far from the Loose Id ebook.

That doesn't mean I won't submit stories to low paying markets. Money isn't the only concern, and there are no-pay markets I'd happily submit to because I respect the editorial team. There's another anthology paying $25 where I regret not having time to write something. But if it's just about the money, then $25 isn't enough.

So yes, I'm writing for the money. But I'm in the happy position of being able to write what I love writing, for the money. I have more interesting ideas than I'll ever be able to write, and if I pick and choose amongst them based on commercial considerations, I'll still have nothing but stories I wanted to write anyway. And there is this consideration as well -- I don't write purely for the money, but if I'm writing for publication at all, then I'm writing for an audience. And if you want to know how many people like your work, then knowing how many liked it enough to pay for it is good. Money is a way to keep score.

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Orphaned Works Bill

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chip MacGregor reports that the US Orphaned Works Bill is scheduled to be reintroduced in the next congress. If you belong to any writing groups, guilds or unions I would encourage you to contact them and request that that make a formal statement opposing this legislation. For a previous post on this legislation please see here. A list of the groups already in formal opposition can be found here.

* Poster by Brenda Pinnick, available at full (printable) size here.

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Straight from the Horse's Nostril--veinglory

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Craig Teicher with Publishers Weekly seems rather disoriented when it comes to the whole epublishing thing--or at least his online article suggests as much. There seem to be a suggestion that they whole idea of making and marketing ebooks is a gyroscopic blur not a routine sort of business with all the usual risks and opportunities of being a manufacturer and/or retailer. Personally I think that although trivial change is rapid, real change in this area is glacial.

For example there is a huge amount of speculation about ebook readers, prototypes, new models and so forth. But for any given reader a device they wish to buy has yet to be developed. For those that use an ereader the arrival of a significantly improved model probably does not occur more often than every year or two.

It is also the case that most people do not read ebooks, and those that do fall into certain areas, academia, manuals, romance, erotica, self-help and a few other niches. These sectors are experiencing some growth, but ten times not very much is still, if we are to be honest, not very much.

Other than that publishers open, publishers close. they tend to open, and close, for monotonously similar reasons suggesting that the state of the industry has not itself changed a great deal since the emergence of ebooks as a viable consumer product.

The revolt ion may be coming but after hearing about this from various enthusiasts (and a few angry zealots) for a decade or so I am not wasting too much of my time scanning the horizon for the death of publishing as we know it and emergence of a new world order.

Nevertheless Mr. Teichers articles might be a good update for those who haven't paid much attention to this area for half a decade or so and it includes some quote from various notables. E.g.:

Random House
"...we can expect international opportunities to open up where they might not have made sense economically before."

Penguin
"We are still seeing e-books as a rapidly growing area"

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
"I don't think that the pricing structure has sorted itself out yet."

Kensington
"We've focused on romance and women's fiction titles, as well as gay and lesbian and mystery titles"

Macmillan
"consumers is ... want easily transportable files rather than devices"

The one thing that confuses me most is that this article about epublishing did not interview a single publisher that sells a majority of its books in digital format. Which seems to be a little like asking movie theatres about the confectionery market. They may sell candy, they may have some idea about how to sell candy, but it would make a little more sense to interview someone who runs a candy factory or a candy store. The revolution may not be imminent, but if/when it comes I expect Simon & Schuster et al will be riding on the coat tails of epublishers dedicated to the format as their primary product, not leading the way.

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Bulletin: scheduling changes

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hi guys, due to some changes in my schedule I will not be sticking to a daily posting schedule for ERECblog for the foreseeable future--although there will be a new post at least once a week. I will still post any useful information that I come across, but I will no longer posting the other more trivia/entertainment posts. Basically I need to make some time for other things and some of it is getting cut from here.

I am also going to have significantly less time to monitor forums, blogs and so forth to come across industry news and factoids about erotic/romance/epublishing and related issues. With that in mind if you come across anything interesting please do send it in to me, or considering joining up to the blog as a contributor. If more people choose to come on board we might manage to keep the blog trotting along, so if it is ever something you have considered please email me now -- veinglory at gmail.com

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Publisher PR (how not to do it)--veinglory

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Absolute Write thread on Cacoethes Publishing gives some great examples for authors of how *not* to defend your epublisher. So I thought I would use this as a basis for discussing the issue. Many of us feel loyal to epublishers who treat us well. However many count 'accepting my manuscript and validating me as an author' to be sufficient for extreme faith and fidelity--others are more demanding and less ardent. In any case I would advise against the following strategies of online publisher endorsement:

#1 (Ad Hominem): "Amazing cynicism", "a person who uses his real name here about the children who hide behind the bushes and throw rocks at passing cars." , "...is your book done? Is it ready to go out?"

#1a (Ad Hominem with ego stroking): "potential bitter authors who are simply slandering the company, or who were rejected and have not gotten over it"

#1b (Ad Hominem with paranoia): "I think people reading this forum should stop and think about whether some bitter or disgruntled writer hasn't taken it upon themselves to start a little vendetta against the company here"

#2 (A press is good so long as there exists any press that is worse) "Let's face it, if you want your book on shelves of book sellers, everyone of the publishers talked about in this website will not be doing that for you."

#3 (Good girls don't say negative things in public) "why wouldn't you simply contact the publisher directly and talk to them about your concerns?"

#3a (Really good girls don't think negative thoughts at all) "I have faith in this new publisher", ?"I refuse to dwell on such negativity."

#4 (The company isn't mean, what else do you want?) "the company has been kind to me", "They are nice to me and I appreciate it - period."

So how do you show support for your publisher? I would suggest:

#1 Discuss the substance of what is being said and provide accurate information.

#2 Acknowledge the short-comings of small presses openly.

#3 Provide concrete examples of adequate or excellent publishing services that the press provided including editing, packaging in general and, of course, sales.

Contributors to this thread also state that Cacoethes is paying 30% royalties off net and that the author pays: paypal fees, set up fees and marketing fees. Cacoethes seems to have a 'non-disparagement' clause in their contract and one anonymous poster who claims to 'have a lot of information' about this company reports that Cacoethes are in the process of suing two authors for slander. Most of this information was provided by authors with the goal of making Cacoethes look better and to defend their reputation as an epublisher. I would question whether that was the outcome for the majority of readers.

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On Being Provocative--veinglory

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I was listening to a radio interview with a marketing professional last week. His suggestion was that what is useful in marketing these days is not so much sex, as the controversy that it can stir up. People will buy sexually explicit material or they will not--that is simply a commodity, or a genre. But a little bawdy material in a public place with get you huge amounts of free publicity.

One master of this technique is the British Lingerie maker aptly named Agent Provocateur. Their advertisements make use of celebrities, soft fetish props and as much skin as can be legally displayed on the side of a bus stop. The latest campaign also seemed to lean heavily on some romance cover tropes and a little light femdom. The practical part of my mind insisted that stilettos and pirate ships would be a bad combination, let alone when conducting a semi-nude saber fight.... but practicalities are rather beside the point in this sort of thing. But it is at least interesting that romance imagery is part of this ultra-modern, hip campaign.



It does make me wonder if erotic romance advertising that focus on hot, sexy, hothotHOT11!11, may be missing the important element of being provocative (naughty, bawdy, suggestive)? More of the feather, less of the whole chicken?

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