Sunday, September 12, 2010

EREC interview with Lori Perkins, Editorial Director of RavenousRomance.com

Ravenous Romance launched with the stated ambitions of being a game changing epublisher. Do you think this has really been born out? My best estimate suggests that sales for Ravenous books are roughly average for an erotic romance epublisher. Dalyn Miller predicted 'aggressive sales in the multiple thousands of copies per title' and the discussed time range was 'within two years'. Is this being born out for the statistically average RR single author novella+ title? Because the average figure across other typical publishers would be more like 800 copies in this time period.

Yes, we believe Ravenous Romance has been a game changer, but not in all of the ways we anticipated. One of the most exciting things we feel we’ve done is create alternative distribution methods for our books. We’re the only romance publisher (print included) to have ever been on Home Shopping Network, which in essence was an advertisement for the romance industry. And, yes, we sold thousands of copies of those books in minutes.

We are the only epublisher that I know of that has a monthly imprint with a print publisher. Red Wheel Weiser is publishing two Ravenous Romance trade paperback titles every month, which, of course, will be available in bookstores worldwide. One of those titles is an M/M erotic romance, so we’ve broken that barrier for the industry as well.

We’re also the only epublisher I know of that has launched 150 books as standalone iPhone apps.

As far as individual ebook title sales are concerned, our sales are on a par with other epublishers’, but are growing quickly. And like all publishers, we’ve had real clunkers that have sold fewer than 100 copies, and we’ve had some best-sellers that have sold between 3000 and 7000 copies.

I also believe we were one of the first epublishers to offer an advance for EVERY book we publish.

We are in this business for the long haul, and we are working very hard to build our authors’ careers in every way we can, including creating new ways to market and distribute their books.


What has happened to the book-a-day feature (and 'this week's books' section)? I assume this was initially intended to be a new book each day (and only books released in the last week)?

When we started the company, we thought we could do a new book a day, but we found that goal was a bit ambitious for a young company. At the present time, we are publishing approximately 10 new titles per month, but we expect to double that next year. Eventually, we will be publishing a new book every day. We highlight a book a day to drive backlist sales, and it works.


It seems there have been a lot of problems with the website and in some cases the email notices over recent months? What was the cause of this and has it be resolved now?

Our site was hacked, and it has been restored. We have put additional safeguards in place to prevent future outages, and hired a new web development team. You can expect some exciting new changes to the website in the coming months, but that’s all I can say for now.


Is it the case that the earnings from one book may be held until the advance on a previous book have earned out? What general range of advances are being paid--is is still generally one dollar per standard manuscript page?

Like all publishing contracts, including print, multiple book deals are basketed. Certainly, terms can be negotiated, which is why even epub authors should read their contracts carefully, and perhaps get agents. Our standard advances are $200 for a novel and $10 for a short story.


Have there been any delays in reporting or paying royalties to any authors? And if so what caused this to occur and has it now been resolved? Does this relate the responsibilities on the author and/or editors in relation to requesting and passing on information?

Some of the editors of anthologies took longer than they should have to send out royalty statements to the individual authors, but that has been straightened out. Payments have never been late. We have had a couple of authors who don’t understand their contracts who have complained, but their complaints are not legitimate.


Is any consideration being given to reducing te $100 payment threshold or using a different model to pay for lower earning work such as a short story in an anthology?

Print publishers all have a $50 or $100 minimum royalty payment requirement, we are no different. Once the anthology has earned out its advance, the ebook must then earn an excess of $100 to pay out royalties. This is clearly stated in our contract. We may consider changing this in the future, but for now it stands.


Could you please share some of your success stories in selling subsidiary rights? Roughly how may deals of this sort have been made?

I am so pleased with the sale to St. Martin’s Press of the zombie romance anthology, HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE. It will release in a few days, and there will be readings throughout the country. There’s a full-page ad in this month’s Marvel comics for the anthology.

We’ve also sold six reprints to Alyson publishing, the oldest gay print publisher in the country.

All this is in addition to the Home Shopping Network deal and the imprint at Red Wheel Weiser.


In 2008 I asked: 'Are agents other than Lori Perkin's submitting their client's work to Ravenous Romance?' Dalyn Miller answered this in the affirmative but without specifics. Would it be possible to know which agents have done this?

Our very first novel, EXPOSING NICOLE, was sold to us by the Harvey Klinger Agency. Other agents continue to send us their clients’ work.

As you know, I believe every writer should have an agent, especially as the epub industry evolves.


How would you respond to suggestions on other blogs that Ravenous Romance material that is labeled as "romance" may not meet the genre requirements, or the suggestions that some title may not be written to the highest standards?

All our books have a happy ending, or a happy-for-now ending, and the love story is at the center of each book. I think that qualifies as “romance,” doesn’t it?

As far as quality and standards go, some would say the fact that we were able to publish a protégée of John Updike (with a quote from him), speaks volumes about the quality of our writing. We have a number of NY Times best-selling and award-winning authors writing for us. Most of our books get 4 and 5 star reviews from the romance and erotic romance review sites, so obviously we’re doing something right. We were nominated for a LAMBDA and an RT Award in our first year of publishing. All our books also come with a money-back guarantee, so if someone doesn’t like it, they can get their money back. Taste is subjective. To each her own.

What you haven’t asked us is what IS working; so let me share that with you. Our readers LOVE M/M romance, followed by paranormal and kinky. So, here’s a call for M/M, paranormal kink. Get writing.

We also do at least 12 anthologies in-house a year—they’re a great place to break in. We’ve developed many of our novelists from their short stories. We list the call for stories on our blog, www.ravenousromance.blogspot.com.

We’ve also just paired up with www.eroticstoriesandtoys.com to do a breakthrough sex toys anthology where the authors will be paid in the sex toys they write about, and their stories will be featured in our ebook and on that website. We’re trying to give our authors creative and fun outlets for their talent.

8 comments:

Dana Fredsti said...

I'm an RR author who has benefited from RR's alternative distribution methods. I appreciate the fact this interview has some tough but fair questions, and that Lori answered them in a straight-forward manner. Kudos to both of you.

Kilt Kilpatrick said...

Emily, great interview! You asked excellent questions, and Lori gave excellent answers - thanks to both of you!

ryan field said...

Excellent interview.

Rebecca Leigh said...

Great interview, I'm glad Lori was able to provide such good information!

Writerly said...

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but ...

One of those titles is an M/M erotic romance, so we’ve broken that barrier for the industry as well.

What about the m/m erotic romances that were in print and in bookstores before this title?

which is why even epub authors should read their contracts carefully, and perhaps get agents.

I agree that epub authors needs to read their contracts carefully so they don't lose too much to a shady publisher, but speaking from experience if one's writing is strong enough they don't need an agent to break into e-publishing.

Our standard advances are $200 for a novel and $10 for a short story.

The payment for a short seems kind of on the low side. Many high-traffic websites pay $10 for a 6 month run and then the rights go back to you. For an anthology I have found the standard is $50-100 for print. E-books are a little different and from what I understand RR doesn't differentiate between the print sales and the e-book sales in their contract.

We’ve also just paired up with www.eroticstoriesandtoys.com to do a breakthrough sex toys anthology where the authors will be paid in the sex toys they write about, and their stories will be featured in our ebook and on that website. We’re trying to give our authors creative and fun outlets for their talent.

So what happens when/if the anthology earns out its advance? Does this author who was paid in sex toys get a cut? Or is it a one shot payment for all authors? Creative and fun is all well and good but getting paid is even better.

I would recommend that, given the number of small presses and independent publishers out there offering gimmicks and making promises, that new and inexperienced writers really do their research.

Anonymous said...

Very informative interview, Emily, thanks.

So Lori believes every writer should have an agent, especially as the epub industry evolves?

And if authors are paid in sex toys? What then? Do author and agent share?

I don't get why this brand new house suddenly gets to tell everyone what the e-pub industry "standard" is.

I'll pass on subbing to RR. Too much arrogance and defensiveness for my taste.

kirsten saell said...

And if authors are paid in sex toys? What then? Do author and agent share?

Bwahaha! I just got this mental image of me with a meat cleaver in one hand, silicone dildo in the other, asking, "you want your 15% off the top or the bottom?"

Ravenous Romance said...

A few quick responses.
For the Sex Toys anthology only, the authors are getting paid in sex toys (such as a vibrator, which can run anywhere from $30 to $120). It is a flat fee, writer for hire deal. If it doesn't appeal to the writer, they should not submit a story.

All epub contracts are not alike and often be negotiated, which is why, no matter how much, or little, an author gets for a book/story, they should have an agent. But if you don't want one, or you think you can do it yourself, don't get one.