Thursday, August 31, 2006

Something to Check Out Tomorrow (Sept. 1)

The members of the Strictly Sirens blog will be posting links tomorrow, Sept. 1, to blogs of erotic romance authors who have posted on the topic "The book, author, or event that has impacted your writing career the most so far".

Writers, if you'd like to be part of it, post something on this topic ASAP and send your link today, August 31 to Cara at carolinanorth3 @ (take out spaces to use).

I'm sorry I didn't think to post this information last week. :-(

At any rate, I imagine the varied responses will be fascinating. I'm looking forward to reading them. And, yes, I have posted on the topic, but that's not the reason for this post. I simply think it will be fun to read everyone's take on it.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Weather or Not

It's August. In my little corner of the world, that means hot, sunny, parched-dry days. One after another.

Except Mother Nature doesn't seem to realize it's August. The last few days have been as dark as an overcast winter day, with drizzling rain, and we were lucky to reach a high of 60 degrees yesterday, forget about a seasonal normal of 80 degrees. And it's making me cranky.

Yeah, I'm whining, but I'm getting to my point, and it's even related to the BUSINESS of writing. Namely -- life happens, and we need to be prepared for it. Weather or rejections or day jobs or family demands or health or whatever gets to you. From time to time, it's pretty much guaranteed that whatever it is that shuts you down as an author is going to happen.

I know the weather will improve, and I'll get over my current shut-down, but in the meantime, I've been thinking about the havoc that this sort of unpredictable shut-down can wreak on a writer's business plan. And, since I hate havoc almost as much as I hate the current miserable weather, I'd like to account for creative meltdowns in the business plan I'm devising.

Sometimes, of course, the answer is "just do it" -- just sit at the keyboard and type, no matter how impossible it seems. Other times, though, I think that won't work, and the author needs some other coping mechanism to get back on track before returning to the keyboard with renewed energy, enthusiasm and ideas.

At the moment, my coping mechanism consists of wallowing in the misery a bit, but I'd like to think there are better options, and that it might be helpful when setting up a business plan to: 1) be aware that these meltdowns can occur, 2) know the triggers, and 3) have an action plan for coping with them.

So, tell me: what's your worst trigger and what's your most successful coping mechanism?

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Writing Contests

I have a competitive side. Under my quiet, nerdy exterior, there is a person who loves the thrill of victory. Like most people, I hate to lose. So I have to pick my battles wisely. Not too long ago, I found a great outlet for my competitiveness: writing contests.

I never thought about entering a writing contest until my Fairy God Mentor (see previous post) encouraged me to enter one. My partner and I worked on a flash fiction entry for one of's themed contests. Since it was a short piece, I didn’t think it would take long to finish. Yet, we spent a lot of time and energy on it. We exchanged emails, edited, revised, and fine-tuned.

We sent our joint entry, and we each sent two individual entries. I was certain one of our entries would receive at least an Honorable Mention. I thought our joint entry could take first place. My partner warned me not to get my hopes up. I didn't listen. When the results were announced, I looked for our names. Nothing.

I was crushed. Devastated. I emailed my partner to express my disappointment. He told me not to take it seriously. It was a valuable experience, and we could still find new markets for our stories. After stewing for a few days, I got over it.

I realized he was right. The contest was a great writing experience. It gave me the motivation to focus on a particular theme. I read past entries, and I wrote the best story I could. After writing, I took the time to carefully edit and make sure the story was perfect. At least in my eyes. Afterwards I had a story that I could send to another publication.

After that experience, I entered two more erotic writing contests. I was one of 15 winners in one contest. In the other contest, I wasn't in the top three. However, I did receive a request to read the entire manuscript. Both contests have lead to publishing contracts with 1) Forbidden Publications and 2) Liquid Silver Books.

If you haven't entered a writing contest yet, I encourage you to try it. Even if you're not a competitive person, you will feel that desire to be the best. You might win; you might not. At the very least, you will have a story, novella, or novel that is good enough to submit to a publisher. That's as good as gold.

Kis Lee

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Fairy God Mentor"

I've recently exchanged emails with a writer who received a "revise and resubmit" answer from one of the epubs I write for. She asked me about a number of issues, and I gave her my opinions and recommendations. When she wrote back, she thanked me, calling me a "Fairy God Mentor".

I really like that phrase. And I'm really proud to be one.

All writers, at various stages of their careers, need a Fairy God Mentor. If you're fortunate, one appears. If not, well, maybe the next time you need help, someone will appear. If you've ever received help (and even if you haven't), consider becoming a Fairy God Mentor to a fledgling writer.

I don't pretend to have a lot of answers about the biz--heck, I couldn't tell you how to sell to a NY publisher, because I haven't done that yet. But I do have some valuable knowledge, and I like opportunities to share it.

Have you done that, shared your knowledge? Those who write for this blog do, every time they create an entry. Those who participate in writing loops and writing organizations do as well.

Think about the help and support you've received in the past from others, and look for opportunities to share. Become a Fairy God Mentor. Because, even though we compete for the same publishing slots with our submissions, we're all in this together.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Writing is a business

Writers need to have at least two hats hanging in their office. One is the creative one that we barely notice putting on at 2 in the morning when we have this great idea and just need to get it onto paper, and other similar moments, like when we're developing characters and outlining plots and searching for just the right word to show our readers the story that's floating around our brains.

The other hat, the one that's not as much fun or fashionable or exciting, and that we tend to pick up gingerly and reluctantly, is the business hat. Writing is, after all a business. We have valuable skills, we create a good product that's in demand, and we expect to be paid (as much as possible) for that product.

Part of what we do while wearing that business hat involves planning: figuring out what we're worth financially and how we can maximize our income. If I didn't hate aphorisms so much, I'd remind you to "Plan your work and work your plan." But I really hate such sing-songy oversimplifications, so pretend I never said that.

Instead, let's talk about business plans and how writers can use them. Usually, a business plan is intended to give to investors to raise the initial (or expansion) capital. Writers are, in this regard, luckier than the average business start-up, because our initial costs are so low. Start with a computer and printer (things you probably have for other reasons anyway), paper, envelopes and postage, and you're up and running. Add in your own skills, a bit (okay, a lot) of practice and a few (relatively inexpensive) how-to books and workshops, and you've survived the first year, which is more than a lot of other types of businesses can accomplish.

Writers don't need a business plan to raise capital, but it can be useful in helping the writer to figure out goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Ultimately, it might be useful for sharing with an agent, when discussing long-term goals for the writer/agent team.

I'm in the process of creating a sample business plan for writers, and I'll share it here when it's done, but for now, I'm wondering how many of you have done a business plan for your writing career.

Even if you don't have a formal plan, do you have lists of WIPs and their potential markets? Do you keep records of submissions and expected response dates? Do you set aside time to search for new markets or re-research older markets? Have you thought about what your particular niche is or perhaps established a tagline that defines all your stories? Do you have a budget (or money set aside) for educational and/or research materials and workshops?

So, what do you do when you've set aside your comfortable creative hat, and you're wearing your down-to-earth business hat?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Following Submission Guidelines

James Buchanan

Two things bring me to this topic. One is thread on a form when an editor of the Homoerotic E-zine Forbidden Fruit complained about having to wade through heterosexual content submissions. The stories were absolutely inappropriate for the market. Any one who had read their submissions page would see this line, “What we're after is well-written gay male fiction” first thing. Obviously somebody just didn’t bother to read the guidelines. The other was Lawrence Schimel’s LiveJournal where he discusses his headaches over trying to figure out who submitted what for the “Best Date Ever” anthology he’s editing because people didn’t follow basic submission guidelines.

Submission guidelines are there for a reason. You need to read them before you submit, as you’re formatting your submission and double check it again before you hit the send button. Authors who regularly sub to a specific market go back and read the guidelines periodically. Know why? Things change. Maybe a publisher has been hit with so many viruses they no longer accept anything but RTF or TXT attachments (it’s harder for viruses to embed in those formats). They may have added a new category where your work could fit. Or they may have a moratorium on certain genres due to an overload of submissions. Whatever the case, those guidelines are there because these are things the editors do or do not want to see. At the very least it tells editors that you have a clue about being professional.

If you don’t submit your prized MS in the way they want… 90% chance it’s headed for the round file cabinet. So, if the publisher says put the first chapter in the body of an email. Do it. If they want it hardcopy on pink paper. Do it. This is not about what you like, it’s about following the rules. You want to at least make the slush pile.

Some Basics

You must/should have on at least the first page of every attachment you send:

• Your Name (the real one)
• Address (I suggest a P.O. Box)
• Phone Number (Cell numbers work fine)
• E-Mail Address (make sure it’s reliable and doesn’t filter out important things)
• Title of the Work
• Your Pen Name
• Word Count

This is important because your manuscript and required attachments may be separated from your e-mail. Nearly every submission guideline I’ve ever read requires at least those. From what I hear, it is staggering the amount of people who don’t do it.

Name your document so it can be found easily. Think about it, if you had 200 submissions of Submissioncall.rtf you’d go nuts. So for this article, since it has a long title, I might use SubGuide.rtf. If this publisher wanted a short biography and marketing plan those might be named SubGuideBio.rtf and SubGuidePlan.rtf. This way the publisher knows exactly which submission they go to and can differentiate them from the thousands of other submissions they have.

If it’s an e-mail submission, put “Submission: Title of Work” in the subject line. If it’s for a special call, add “for X Anthology” after the title. This way the receiving editor knows immediately that they are looking at a submission, not spam, and which specific editor it should be routed to.

If the publisher does not specify a preference, use a common readable type face. I write in 12 point Times New Roman. The two other most common are Courier and Ariel. Why do you want to use those? Because if you use an obscure font and the publisher does not have it on their system your document will be reformatted by the system to whatever default font is used. Other fonts may use special characters or encoding that doesn’t survive the reformat, so you end up with strange characters in your document. This is especially true on quotation marks and punctuation. Of course, if the editor wants 10 point Arial, I change my MS. Some people grouse that it's only to make the edior's life easier. Good, make their life easier, it's about getting published not about being an indvidual in style.

Save that for content.

Again, if no preference is specified use common paragraph formatting. Use either block style (how this article is written) or first line indent. Both of those generally translate into any word processing program without problems. But some publishers ask for 1.5 spacing, some for double. Even for the same press, if a specific editor is handling an anthology he/she may have guidelines that are slightly different then the general press guidelines. Creativity needs to come from inside the story not how it’s set up on the page. If it gives the editor too much of a headache trying to read that’s going to impact how they view your story.

And always, if you see something you don't understand go to the source. Who is the best person to explain to you what they meant by the words “intensive outline,” or "marketing hook?" The person who wrote the guidelines. If you have a question e-mail and ask. Most publishers would much rather explain what they wanted rather than get something they didn’t.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The C Word

It's a perfect word. It's evocative. It's short. Its roots go back over 15,000 years. Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Casanova were among its most famous literary champions.

And yet, cunt still gets the short end of the stick. So to speak.

In erotic romance, "cunt" is generally considered the division between sensual and erotic. Do you have forty sex scenes in youe 25,000 word story? Do your characters say "fuck" and watch each other masturbate, do they use vibrators and have so much oral sex their jaws lock up? Great. That sounds sensual to me.

But do you have only three sex scenes and use the word "cunt" to describe your heroine's love canal? Yes? Then you're writing erotica, my friend.

Why is that? Why is it that one small word has the power to change sexy to erotic, to change arousing to offensive? And is it that offensive, really?

Most women seem to think so. Studies have shown that women find "cunt" the most offensive word in the English language. (Seriously.) It's forbidden. It's absolutely taboo.

But what is forbidden is often what is most erotic, as well.

I never used to write it. I didn't like to read it. Then I found a few erotic romances that did. My dislike of the word changed to--not indifference, because I don't feel a word like cunt can ever inspire indifference--but more like approval. The word was forbidden. The word was direct. The word was a little shocking.

In short, the word was pretty hot.

Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte is trying to woo that painter to her gallery? It's an old man, and he proudly informs her that he's been doing a series of paitnings of cunts. Charlotte is, of course, stunned by this. He asks her to sit for him, and you can see she's about to refuse when the old man's wife enters the studio. She's holding a tray of lemonade and says sweetly, "I bet you have a beautiful cunt, dear." Hey! That word isn't so bad after all! In fact, it's kind of...dare I say...cute? Maybe if we think of cunt as a nice word, a sexy word, a descriptive word, instead of a nasty one, we can replace it in our vocabulary and our books and hold our heads high. Just hearing the phrase "beautiful cunt" made a difference to me, since we so often associate the word with less pleasant adjectives. But if we think of the word-and the objects-as beautiful...

Chaucer used it in The Canterbury Tales, spelling it "queynte". According to Charles Panati's Sexy Origins and Intimate Things, "Chaucer believed the word was derived from 'quaint', which meant 'a many-layered, in-folded mystery'." Now really, what better way is there to describe a woman's sexual organs than "a many-layered, in-folded mystery"?

Of course, pre-Chaucer, cunt was a name. There are many families on the rolls in thriteenth-century England named "Cuntles" or "Clawcunte", or many variations therof. There were "Gropecunte Street"s or "Cunte Lane"s in medieval England as well. Clearly, the word's meaning was fixed even over 700 years ago--it first appears in written record in 1066, but seems to have had a different meaning then, although "cunt" is derived from early language, when "kuni" or words like it were used simply to mean "wife" or "woman".

Which is all very interesting, except it doesn't mean much to us or help us. Women don't want to see cunt. There's an implication that if they do, they're the type of woman who likes really graphic, nasty sex--the hardcore erotic stuff--instead of the lighter, sweeter, gentle-spanking kind of sex.

What's a writer to do?

See, the problem is, "cunt" works so well. As I said above, it is evocative. It does give the reader a distinct message: this is going to be pretty graphic. This will be pretty hot. Isn't choosing words to set a mood part of what we do as writers?

I decided to try using cunt. I wanted to see what t felt like to actually write it, to actually put that forbidden word on paper. Could I still turn peple on when I threw a cunt bomb into my work? Could I still write scenes people would enjoy, even if a cunt bobbed up at them from the page?

To my surprise, it worked. And it wasn't too bad. It was actually pretty sexy. And so exact! We're always looking for words to describe or identify female body parts. Aren't you tired of writing about slick folds or swollen entrances? Or channels, or tunnels, or whatever? Isn't it hard to use "pussy" to describe both the vagina and the vulva (a word I don't like, btw)?

This is where cunt fits in. I can talk about pussies and cunts as two seperate (but obviously closely related) entities, and I can describe a vagina without adjectives but with a word that everyone can visualize. The many-layered, in-folded mystery of a woman.

I don't use the word much (and never, ever in dialogue. I know I'm trying to be Miss Open-Minded and Miss Use Cunt, but I don't like it in dialogue. Cunt is a private thing, to be shared only with our readers through our voices, not our characters'.) But of late I've been abstaining, and I have missed it. All those folds and entrances just can't compensate for the brevity and clarity of cunt.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Details about a Revamped Publisher of Spanking Romances

This post is for everyone who has published an erotic romance story and/or a M/f spanking story--or, who has story-writing experience and is interesting in branching into the spanking story subgenre.

Discipline and Desire is changing. I can't say how yet, because I'm one of their authors and have a confidentiality agreement with them. However, they are looking for new authors and new stories.

How do I come into this? I receive a nice bonus for each new writer I refer after said writer sells three short stories to D&D. You make money, and I make money. :)

So--do you have some publishing credentials? Even one story is fine. Do you understand how to write a spanking story (or, have you written one)? It's not easy to make a spanking story sound genuine unless you have some familiarity with the genre--they are not exactly the same as BDSM stories.

D&D's set of requirements are quite specific on what is allowed or not allowed. Plus, the stories must be romances where the male is the dominant partner.

That said, the couple can be a new pairing, or an existing one trying spanking and domestic discipline for the first time. Stories can be contemporary, historical, etc. Endings should point toward a permanent committment (new couple) or a new, heightened sense of love and committment (existing couple).

I've been writing for the spanking story industry for eleven years, and I can assure you that D&D pays the most of any publisher I've ever worked with. Plus, they are pleasant people to work for. They respond to submissions promptly, and they pay very promptly, usually within three business days of accepting the story. These folks have the highest of ethics.

If you're interested, please contact me at barrieabalard @ Be sure to take the spaces out. I would love to find some new spanking authors for D&D, and also help you sell.

Barrie Abalard

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An Epublished Author and a Luddite walk into a bar...

Taken from an actual conversation I had with a family member --

Luddite: I heard you sold your first book. Congrats! So is it coming out in bookstores? Amazon?

Epublished Author: It's an e-published book. My publisher is an electronic publisher.

L: *blank stare*

EA: Meaning that my book will be published via internet and available for download from the epublisher's website.

L: *cocking head* So how do you read it?

EA: You go to the e-publisher's website, pay for it, download it, and read it on your computer.

L: But it's a book?

EA: Right. It's a book in electronic format.

L: Weird. What if I don't want to read it on my computer?

EA: Well, some people download onto a device called a reader. Or you can just download my e-book as a PDF and print it out.

L: So it's not really a book?

EA: It *is* a book. It's an e-book available over the internet.

L: So it's a book that you read on your computer. You can't hold it, and it's not really a book. So it's an e-book.

EA: *hanging head* Yeah, close enough.

L: I've never heard of that. Well, congrats anyway!

EA: Thanks. I think.

Monday, August 14, 2006

First official poll results....

Well, over 1000 posts have come in. Remember gals, only one vote each ;) And do keep in mind that this is a reflection of which publishers, actively or indirectly, motivated people to get out and vote. But perhaps that counts for something, eh?

Our top five are:
* eXtacy
* Changeling
* Mardis Gras
* Triskelion and
* Samhain

Interesting to see so many new publishers on the list! Are they inspiring their writers, new and old, more than the more established presses? Or just drawing in more novice writers who are still in the first flush of joy at being published? Let us know what you think....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Release: 'Journey's End' by Emily Veinglory

Journey's End (e-novella 2006)
Genre: gay erotica/romance
Length/Format: novella, e-book
Publisher: Torquere

Castel is an elf stranded in human lands, slowly dying from lack of magical energy. Mendry is a human assassin descended from a line of vampire 'Dragon Knights' who seek to bring an evil dragon back to life.

When Mendry's father steals a child he believes to be his grand-daughter, the seventh generation needed to carry out the resurrection ritual, Mendry and Castel come together to save an innocent life, facing evil mages and more. Together with the child's uncle and mother, they make an unlikely band of heroes, and find a whole new meaning to the word family. Set in the same world as Emily Veinglory's first Torquere novel, Broken Sword!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Everyone Says I Should Copyright My Work

by James Buchanan

Under title 17 of the United States Code, copyright protects you from unauthorized use of your work. Most countries have some variant of the copyright law and you need to check out your countries laws if you're not registering the work in the US. Title 17 applies to all original works, including: literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The work doesnÂ’t have to have been published for you to register your copyright.

The moment you write your work on paper, you own the copyright to it. So what people actually mean is that you should register your copyright. Various reasons make it advantageous to register the copyright. Registration establishes a public record of your copyright and allows you to bring an infringement suit, if that becomes necessary. If you secure it before (or within five years) of publication, it pretty much seals your case* and if made within three months after publication you may be entitled to statutory damages and attorney’s fees (otherwise you’d actually have to prove that you suffered monetary loss – which can be a big hurdle).

Registration is actually very easy. The term of your copyright lasts for your life plus 70 years. YouÂ’ll need the following:

A completed application. The PDF forms are easy and you can fill them out on line and print them out.

A check/money order for the filing fee. Current cost (as of August 12, 2006) is $45.00;

And a non-returnable deposit of the work. The deposit requirements depend on whether the work has already been published. If you havenÂ’t published the work yet youÂ’ll need to submit one complete copy with the form and your check. If itÂ’s already been published then you need to send two complete copies of the best edition. They donÂ’t require anything fancy, just readable. Heck, the government will take a legible handwritten manuscript (although they do ask for ink). What they are primarily concerned with is that what you send them be suitable for long term storage. So good paper, and stapled or bound in some manner.

You can find everything you need right here:
Copyright Office

*Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be a substiindividualizedvdualized legal advice. I'm probably not a lawyer in your state, and you're not my client. This article also applies to US Copyright only. You should check your own regions rules/regulations or seek the advice of a local attorney.

Phaze to Accept Lesbian Erotica/Romance

By James Buchanan

Phaze, publisher of erotic romance, has announced that they will start accepting Lesbian Romance/Erotica. The new editor has decided to shift away from the former policy and open up to all sexualities.

While they primarily publish e-books, Phaze does consider moving better selling, novel length titles into print (with certain conditions). They are also in negotiations to have their print books on the shelves at a major bookseller. A lot of exciting things are happing with them right now, and they are looking for an infusion of new talent.

Phaze’s submission guidelines can be found here: Phaze Submission Guidelines

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My turn to answer the three + 1

1. Where are you published?
Torquere Press and upcoming publication with Phaze

2. How did you chooose your publisher(s)?
I was directed to Torquere by Circlet Press. I entered one of their contests and the editor told me my story was too long, but that TQ took stories of that length and I should submit there… because I really could write. With Phaze I knew three other authors with books published through them. All are very happy with the press. Plus Phaze offers a chance for an e-book to go to print after a certain number of sales.

3. What do you like best about your publisher(s)?
Accessibility and partnership. We’re in it together. Because of the royalties sharing everyone works to bring forth the best book they can. They’re responsive to questions. They keep people informed of what is selling well so that you can target your writing.

4. What are your publishing goal(s)?
I want people to like what I write. I’m not intending to make a killing on this. But I’d love to get a fanlisting telling me how much they like Nicky/Brandon or the like. And if I didn’t write I’d go nuts… so I’m just glad someone pays me to do it.


Defining What's Best

We talk about the "best publisher" a lot, and everyone loves a "top ten" list or various prestige rankings, and this information can be useful for understanding the market and what others think of publishers.

But, the truth is, and you're probably seeing hints of it already from the responses to the three questions, there is no absolute best publisher. There's a best publisher for you, and a best publisher for me, and a best publisher for Emily and a best publisher for Barrie and a best publisher for Kis. And they could all be different. Or overlap somewhat, and differ somewhat. But there is no absolute "correct" answer.

And that's what makes it tricky to figure out where to submit your work. You need to figure out who would be a good match for you, not for me or Emily or Barrie or Kis.

So, how do you do that? First, you need to figure out what's important to you. For the purpose of this discussion, you can choose three things. Barrie and Kis have suggested in their goals some things that are important to them. Probably everyone's going to mention money, so I'm going to take that off the table for now, because it's universal (although the exact ranking may vary, and we'll talk about that later).

For now, I'd like to hear from everyone (in comments or a separate blog post) about the three things (yeah, I just love the number three) that matter to you when choosing a publisher. I'm not going to give you any suggestions just yet for the possibilities, because I don't want to narrow the options. I'm looking to get more insight into all the issues you may be trying to juggle.

So, what are the three things (other than huge bucketloads of money) that, in the best of all possible worlds, you'd want your ideal publisher to offer you? What three things would convince you to sign on the dotted line if you had multiple offers?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

3 questions + bonus

1. Where are you published?
Freya's Bower and upcoming publication with Forbidden Publications

2. How did you chooose your publisher(s)?
With Freya's Bower, I saw their call for submissions on the Absolute Write Paying Market's forum. I didn't know much about e-publishing, so it was my first submission to an erotic romance e-publisher. It was a completely random decision.

With Forbidden Publications, I took the same route as Jan Darby: entering a contest. I'm blanking on where I saw the call for submissions, but I found out that FP was having a contest for short story writers. At the time, FP was one of the new e-publishers, so I browsed their site for more info about them. They seemed professional, so I submitted a short story. I was one of 15 finalists, and my short story will be released sometime in the future.

3. What do you like best about your publisher(s)?
Freya's Bower has really good editors, and I learned a lot from them. They helped to bring out the best in my writing. I've also been impressed with their cover artists. Forbidden Publications hasn't released my story yet, but I've had some contact with their staff. Everyone there is friendly, professional, and open to questions.

With e-publishers, I like that I have immediate access to editors and staff members. If I have a question about something, I can just send an email and receive an answer within a day or two. Both e-publishers encourage questions and are eager to help new writers.

4. What are your publishing goal(s)?
Show me the money!! Seriously. I write in other genres, too. In general, my ultimate goal would be to land a deal with a print publisher. The big dream goal would be to be published with one of the big names. Whether I'm writing thriller, horror, or erotica, my ambitions are the same.

Kis Lee

Three Questions, Continued, Plus a Fourth

Hi, everyone,

I'm new to the blog and am here to answer the three questions.

1. Where are you published?
I'm Barrie Abalard, and I'm published with Amber Quill Press, Loose-Id, CF Publications, and a subscription web site called I have contracted with Triskelion Publishing, but the book won't be out until June 2007.

2. How did you choose your publisher(s)?
CF Publications and I go way back--to 1995. That was when I first tried my hand at erotic romance and erotica. Back then, I also sold stories to Desiree's Spanking Digest, which is out of business now. I found CF through someone who worked with me(!). How we both found out that the other wrote erotica is a long story that I won't repeat here. At any rate, my coworker sold spanking stories to CF, and gave me contact info when I requested it.

I discovered in 2001, and started selling to them at the end of that year. As erotic romance became more popular, I decided to try selling to the new epublishers. I sent in a story to Amber Quill Press's 2006 contest and won. I also sent a story to Loose-Id, which was accepted, and have parlayed those successes into a contract with Triskelion.

I went with publishers about whom I had heard the most "buzz". I have submitted to Ellora's Cave, but that was back when they were woefully understaffed, so I withdrew my submission after seven months and sent it to Loose-Id, who bought it. I will probably submit again to EC once I have something suitable. But my focus right now is on the NYC publishers. See below for more on that.

3. What do you like best about your publisher(s)?
I like CF in that I can write most any kind of story, and if it has spanking in it, they will buy it. (I've sold many dozens of stories to them over the years.) They've given me the chance to have some fun, such as creating fictional small towns and characters that repeat. Writing for CF and DSD let me explore various subgenres, such as my noir detective parody set in a politically-correct future. Lots of fun and a change of pace. Plus, writing all these stories taught me a great deal about how to write a good story. My writing has improved a lot since 1995. pays more than CF, so I like them for that. They usually accept everything I send them.

Amber Quill Press and Loose-Id are accessible to me and friendly. No arrogant attitudes or anything. I've worked with each of them on short deadlines and find them a delight--cooperative with a "let's get the job done" point of view.

I don't know enough about Triskelion yet to comment, but I know a lot of people like them. My experiences have been fine so far. The main reason I submitted to Trisk was to gain RWA PAN (Published Author) status. If you don't know what that means, never mind. It's not important in this context.

I want to emphasize that all of these publishers are quality companies that are honest and pay on time, something that's extremely important to me. I like to see what a company's track record is before I go with them, so I don't usually submit to a brand-new venture unless I know something about the people running it.

Here's a fourth question, should anyone else on this blog want to answer it:

4. What are your publishing goals?
My goals are straightforward: I want to sell to the NY erotic romance publishers, the ones who pay advances. I intend to make real money at this, and while I like the epubs I'm dealing with, my goal is (are?) hard copy books with the publishers who put out erotica and erotic romance. The item I'm working on now is targeted for Kensington's Aphrodisia line.

Barrie Abalard

Monday, August 07, 2006

Best... and Worst? (Tell us your thoughts)

Question: if a poll about the best publishers is helpful, what about one for the worst? Do you think it would be appropriate to poll people as to which e-publisher (if any) they would not recommend? Please let me know what you think!

Three Questions

Since we're going to be talking about the state of erotic romance publishing, it might help if we shared a little bit about our backgrounds, the stuff that qualifies us to talk about this business.

Just to get things rolling, I'll start with three basic questions (and answers).

1. Where are you published?
I (Jan Darby) am published with Liquid Silver Books,

2. How did you choose your publisher(s)?
I'm a little embarrased to admit how serendipitous my choice was, since I'm a firm believer in market research and logical decisions even in an artistic career. But, in fact, I entered a short story contest that Liquid Silver sponsored, hoping for some feedback, and surprised the heck out of myself when I was a finalist. Liquid Silver then asked me to expand the story into a novella for publication, and soon What Alice Wants was under contract. The decision to enter the contest wasn't entirely random, at least; I did research Liquid Silver before entering the contest, so I knew it was reputable and could provide me with the feedback I was looking for, and would be a good publisher if I ended up there.

3. What do you like best about your publisher(s)?
Liquid Silver has been great about three things, in particular. First, the people there are fun and enthusiastic and encouraging. Second, the publisher is working hard, for both herself and the authors, to stay in this business for the long run. And third, the art director, April Martinez, is brilliant, and creates or oversees covers that are the best in the industry.

Okay, who's next to answer these questions?


Sunday, August 06, 2006

More Early Poll Results

72 votes in two days and I think those little monkeys at Samhain have been busy ;). Once I have 250 votes I will start listing our top 5 as EREC's best by popular vote!

The best Erotic Romance E-Publisher, by popular vote, so far....

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Amazon, ebooks and antitrust

Like a bizarre re-enactment of the hunting of the snark, all the ebooks on Amazon quietly vanished away--and nobody noticed. Or at least google doesn't suggest any great outcry. I guess that puts us ebook writers in our place?

And I quote (from googlecache, message now missing): "As of July 12, 2006, Microsoft and Adobe format e-books are no longer available on As part of our commitment to provide the best customer experience possible, we are now supporting the Mobipocket format. We remain committed to e-books and encourage customers to visit where they can purchase and download tens of thousands of the most popular titles."

And from Amazon support:: "...As part of our commitment to provide the best customer experience possible, we are now supporting the Mobipocket format. We remain committed to e-books and encourage you to visit where you can purchase and download tens of thousands of the most popular titles."

The best customer experience is produced by trashing almost every ebook currently on sale? OMG. All the ebooks gone due to a sweetheart deal with the company (mobipocket) that they just bought--trashing the most publically accepted ebook formats including pdf and html.

Shall I suggest just in what manner I think the "customers" are being "serviced"?

Early Poll Results

Okay [grins] there are only eleven votes so far but I do so love making graphs.

The best Erotic Romance E-Publisher, by popular vote, so far....

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Dreaded Query Letter

James Buchanan

It’s been pushed to such hype that it instills chills in people just thinking about trying to write one. It’s a business letter folks. Why do you want to buy my product? Here’s the answer. Follow the standard business letter format when writing. Use good grammar and have someone proof read it for typos.

It should look something like:

Your name and address


Publisher name and address

Re: Title of work
Genre (or special call)
Word Count

Dear editor:

My first paragraph usually starts with a hook line. For Twice the Cowboy I started with “Manuel Santos Fuentes was not the type of cowboy Jess Graff was used to.” The first line and you already know two things about the book: it’s about cowboys and it features two guys. Am I going to win a Pulitzer Prize for that? No, I don’t have to. All you need to do is make the editor want to read a little further. Think of that first paragraph as the back cover blurb. What would make you pick up the book and read it? Short, sweet and catchy is what you’re going for.

The next paragraph is usually a one paragraph synopsis of the book. For a short story, your first paragraph will be enough. Novella length or longer you’ll need to tackle a more detailed summary. Answer the question, “what is your book about?” Phrase the answer as though you were talking to your best friend over coffee and they asked you. You’ll want to hit the pivotal plot points. If it’s a romance tell them what is driving or derailing that romance.

Third tackle “why I can write this book.” For Cheating Chance I went into some detail about my experience working criminal cases for the prosecution, the detectives I met and the war stories they told. A simi-historical fantasy novel, Lord Carabas, I pitched with my research and that I was a former competition epeeist so I know dueling. Say you don’t have those kinds of qualifications. Did you grow up in the area you’re writing about? Are you an avid reader of Regency Romances so you know the genre inside and out? Those things count. If the publisher wants a marketing hook this is where you would put it.

Prior publications are what I close with. When I first started trying to publish erotic romances, those consisted of an in-house series of training manuals, some college poetry and a couple of short trade articles. While they were not great as references, my past work did show that 1) I could write a sentence and 2) I could work with an editor. As you get more work published in your genre you can phase those earlier works out.

Last you close with a “I look forward to hearing from you.”

That’s it, you’re done.

A newbie's look at e-publishing

What the heck is e-publishing? That's what I asked myself about six months ago. I had heard of electronic publishing, but I had never purchased any before. I like to hold a new hardcover or paperback in my hand, so I never thought about e-books. Until I decided to dive into the erotica market.

Until the beginning of 2006, I wrote erotica just for fun. Then I became acquainted with an erotica writer who suggested that I submit my stories to paying markets. Why write for free when you can get paid for it? That rationale worked for me. I started to research erotica markets by going to sites like the Erotic Reader and Writer's Association and Naughty Words. I read guidelines, browsed online magazines, and studied the markets.

While researching short fiction markets, I discovered a whole new world: romance e-publishing. I learned that a lot of readers like the convenience of downloadable e-books. I also learned that many of the romance e-publishers also publish "spicier" fiction, sometimes called "erotic romance." Some readers want romance filled with hot characters and even hotter action. I didn't have to focus only on erotica markets. I could also send my fiction to erotic romance e-publishers.

One day I saw a call for short stories by, an e-publisher specializing in erotica and romance. I browsed their website and studied their submission guidelines. I submitted a writing sample, and they liked it enough to offer me an author's contract. After two months of writing and editing, my first ebook Kayla Finds Her Way was released on June 7, 2006. Afterwards Forbidden Publications, another e-publisher, contacted me with some good news. They would be releasing my short story in the near future.

Currently I'm working on a novella, and I have a short list of e-publishers already in mind. I still consider myself to be a newbie in the erotic romance field. Will e-publishing be the next big thing? I have no idea. I just know that there are opportunities for erotic romance writers, and I plan to jump in with both feet. Who wants to join me?

Kis Lee

The Best Erotic Romance E-Publisher is....

If you have an answer to that question please share it with us! The poll is located on our EREC index page. If you do not see the name of the publisher you want to vote for please comment here and let me know.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Release: 'Roses in December' by Fiona Glass

J M Barrie once said, "God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December." My first ever novel, Roses in December, has just been published by Torquere Press.

The book is a novelisation of my short story Garden of Remembrance and tells the full story of the soldier, his lover, and the beautiful lost garden they discover together.

Blurb: "Recovering from an injury, British soldier Nat goes to Partington Towers, a quiet place in the country where his body and soul can heal. Fascinated by the elaborate Victorian gardens there, Nat goes exploring, finding some of the gardens' former glory still intact, and finding something even more interesting in Richie, a young man Nat can't help falling in love with.

The gardens are more special than even Nat realizes, and soon he finds himself outed to his unit, fighting to stay on as the gardens are sold to a conservation society, and in love with a man that died before he was born. Can Nat use the strange magic the gardens possess to find he and Richie a happy ending?"

Author Alexa Snow describes the novel as "fine literature, with delicately crafted writing shaped by the hand of a true master". Why not check it out for yourself, either on my website or from Torquere Press, and find out why Barrie's quote is so appropriate for this poignant love story.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well, Howdy!

This will be the Blog for the Erotic Romance E-Publisher Comparison Site (EREC)--new and improved. Currently the site is neither new, nor improved, but keep watching--change is in the air!