Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is There Such a Thing as a Second Hand E-Book... Should There Be?

There are, on the internet, many file-sharing groups that people use to exchange material such as software, music and ebooks. Many recent example have been crowded with blatantly pirated copies of novels. These sites are hard to police and hard to shut down, leading authors to say things such as:

"When you buy a second hand ebook, you are in essence stealing from the author and the publisher. The person selling the ebook is guilty of copyright infringement and theft ... people who pirate ebooks are compared to cockroaches. When hit with the light, they scatter, but they show up again elsewhere." Jena Galifany

But I am left to wonder. Is there a degree of hypocracy in The Digital Millennuium Copyright Act, which seems to effectively protect ebook authors from any after market re-distribtion and resale--while leaving paperback writers unprotected. The author in print is not a different creature from the ebook author, so why are they offered less protection?

Perhaps it is simply a pragmatic matter. A physical object is clearly a person's possession. It is illogical to suggest that books differ from other objects in being bought only for the use of one person for the rest of their lifetime, not available for transfer, sale or bequest. Trying to enforce such a laws would bring about a laughable sort of prose prohibition with speak-easy libraries and second-hand bookrunners crossing the border from free Canada.

Electronic files, however, exist almost purely as intellectual property and their cultural meaning is still somewhat undefined. Strategies from the software and music spheres offer us ways to radically change what it means to buy a book. Like Napster we could pay a monthly fee for our online bookshelf--with the whole thing vanishing as soon as we end our membership? (Wouldn't Sony like that!) Or files could be made that self-destructed after use or after a period of time.

It may be possible to change readers so they see e-books more as a consummable or rental--but is this necessarily a path we want to go down? Not only do genre readers gain satisfaction from ownership of a book, but I think many writers want their work to persist in a person's ownership, as a possession and a part of their life--even one which they share with others in certain appropriate ways. Because as with paperbacks, a satisfied reader has a way of spreading their enthusiasm to others. I have deep, fond memories of the libraries, book exchanges and second hand books store of my youth which made me the dedicated book buyer I am today.

As nervous as I might be about making the ebook as disposable as a tissue or a taco, however, they clearly cannot be traded like paperbacks. The main reason being that the ability end users currently have to perfectly duplicate and replicate an ebook and trade it world-wide to millions of people. This ability shifts the balance of power massively towards the dishonest user. While a single paperback might be pass from person to person, it may only be used by one at a time and each use--and the mere passage of time--wear the book down until it is no longer viable. That is, time and tide already do to paperbacks what the DMCA does to ebooks. And try as I might I cannot see a way to allow friends to share ebooks, or second hand shops to trade them, that would not rapidly undermine the viability of the whole industry--especially when many epresses and ebooks teeter on the brink of profitability as it is.

Am I simply old-fashioned in wishing there was some room to allow the honest practise of transfer of ownership to apply to ebooks? Some way to limit it to a single copy and an appropriate gift? Perhaps I am. After all, a digital book also need never go out of print. Not only will my theoretical great grandchildren probably be able, in the far future, to buy a book I write today, they will also be able to reap the royalties of its persistence. Brave new world, that has such people in it. I cannot help but feel some foreboding at the thought.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Forum Flotsam: Thought for the Day

A thought relating to very small or new presses:

"Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."

(Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711)

--as quoted by James D MacDonald at the Absolute Write Water Cooler

Have You Ever Wanted to be a Lab Rat?

PhD student Bronwyn Clarke is studying "the Romance Genre online". If you have the time, drop in and take her survey. Oh, and you might mention ebooks in the comment section at the end ;)

[OH NO! PROMO] King of Dragons, King of Men -- by Emily Veinglory

Title: King of Dragons, King of Men
Author: Emily Veinglory
Publication Date: 27th February, 2007 (today)
Publisher: Samhain (purchase from publisher)
Format: ebook -- paperback version coming later this year
Price: $5.50 -- $4.95 for a limited period!

What can I say. At over 70,000 words this is the longest book I have written so far, you know how I love novellas. It is also me just writing something I wanted to write. Of course that might have been my first mistake. A sweet MMF, emphasis on the MM. What? you say, MMF but not erotica? That was the story that came to me--I sent it out into the world and hoped for the best.

William's late father was a knight, a disgraced knight who eloped with the king's mistress. Orphaned young, William wanted nothing more than to be a knight like his father and nothing, not his childhood lover Allen or his arranged wife, is going to get in his way. KODKOM is a tale of battles, deals with the devil, imprisonment, court intrigue and the release of mythical dragons--love, lust, angst, deceit, magic, romance and finally a happy ending when one man learns to accept true love no matter where he finds it.

Pimping yourself

I'm throwing out a few questions to the writers:

If you have a blog and a website, which do you update more often? If you track your stats, which receives more traffic?

I have a blog and a myspace account, but I don't have my own website. I have enough trouble updating my blog (I will get better at that). I'm wondering if I even need a website. If you're a professional writer, do you need a website? I know that seems like a rhetorical question, but I'd like to know what you think.

Monday, February 26, 2007

E-publishing and the Million Words of Crap

Raymond Chandler is widely credited with saying that every writer has to write a million words of crap before they can produce anything worth publishing. And it is a fairly common theme at the Absolute Write forums that not being published is a better place to be than being published badly, being published by Publish America or being published and not selling (and, for some, being e-published, self-published and/or POD-published). Another oft-repeated statistic is that most authors sell their third or fourth completed novel-length manuscript and that their earlier efforts should stay in the drawer (or be burnt, see: million words of crap theory).

And that--to the purist--is what being a novelist involves: to write, write and write again. To be rejected, rejected, and rejected again. To climb out of the slush pile beaten, battered but unbowed with skin like a rhinoceros to impart this advice to the next generation of wordsmiths. Write your million, burn your first few novels, kill your darlings. No short-cuts, no excuses and most of all, no whining.

Now, of course, between e-publishing and digital printing there is a publisher for almost every book. Lower overheads mean books with lower sales potential are still profitable--even as low as the author and a few close friends (see: Publish America). So, increasingly, many authors are probably actually publishing their million words of crap--or persisting with the notion of being an author when they have the prose equivalent of a tin ear and an ego like a souffle.

Is this opening of the publishing dikes a good thing that is nurturing and allowing the development of worthy writers that would otherwise have fallen victim to the slings and arrows of outrageous slushdom? Or does it reward mediocrity, retard development and dump unprocessed slush on the readers leaving them as dazed and confused as novice novelists used to be? I mean, if anyone is going to suffer for our art surely it should be--no matter how cruelly--the artists not the readers? (And signs of reader distress are definitely out there in the blogverse).

Perhaps a little of both but it is a thought that gives me pause. For if the harsh gatekeepers of the New York presses are no longer ruling over the industry with the red pens of doom--how exactly is an author to know if their first, or second, or third, or any of their books is truly worth publishing? Which are the kittens and which are the skunks? For if there is anyone out there less able to judge the true nature of a manuscript than a distant, NY acquiring editor then surely it is the Momma cat herself?

Help Me Come up With a Name!

If you have been checking this blog you may know by now that I have an interest in romance where the woman (by a small or large margin) is more dominant than her partner. I started a yahoogroup for writers in this area called Hear Me Roar. With Laura Bacchi's help we will soon have a reading list online and I really want to help develop this area as a recognised sub-genre.

But for this to happen I think the sub-genre needs a name, some less BDSM-specific than Femdom. Suggestions that we have floated include: Fem-strong, AlphaFem, Alphem, Female-Alpha.... I want the name to immediately conjur or the image of a woman in charge, but not immediately leap as far as a dominatrix with a boot-licking slave. So if you have any ideas for a catchy and immediately understandable name for romance about dominant women please, please share it!

[28 Feb] Perhaps I could give up on the name and just use a symbol :)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

[NEWS] From Erotic Romance to Enlightment for the World

I note with interest the arrival of a new epublishing-slash-not so secret society project from the crew at Ellora's Cave. Lotus Circle--"a multi-faceted, internet-based source for metaphysical books, products and services. The basic concept behind the website is that there is an international network of women [...] whose goal is to bring enlightenment to the world."

In reading the origins and submission guidelines I was left temporarily confused as to what is being presented as fact and what was world-building for a line of themed fiction. Fiction will be of paranormally gifted women but the epublisher will also produce non-fiction and host services such as tarot card readings and provide "Additional benefits [...] to those who choose to become members of The Lotus Circle, such as private chat rooms and bulletin boards, extended free readings and unlimited access to workshop libraries."

This has to be one of the coolest promotional vehicles for electronic fiction that I have ever seen. I thought Liquid Silver Books were really pushing out the boat for their Terran Realms, and as a participant I think Loose Id's Collector series is pretty neat, but this is even more lavish! I only wonder if it goes a little too far in blending fantasy and reality?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Never Buy a Magic Wand Over the Internet

Those of you not living under rocks have probably heard about Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry Potter) appearing in the British stage play Equus, which includes nude scenes. There has been a stunning lack of even blurry cellphone pics of what Mrs Giggles referred to the the "magic wand" out there in the blogverse. But to tide us over Nightcharm have publicised one of the first semi-convincing fakes (warning, this link leads to a picture of chimeric nekkidity).

One POV, Two POV, Pink POV, Blue Pov.

Romance readers tend to be informed, voracious reader who know what they want and are willing to buy it--in bulk. So what do you need to do to satisfy the romance reader? Well of course this is no generic romance reader but there are certainly some things that will please many, and some that will only please a few--and I think the wise author should know the difference.

One comment I know I have received on several occasions is that many readers very much want to see both sides of a romance--they want scenes from the point of view (POV) of all of the main characters. Romance is about aligning two (or more) people's dreams and expectations and it seems most satisfying to have a window into both (or all) main character's lives.

Personally I tend to like to stick with one person's point of view and if the object of their affections acts in a way that baffles them then I stick with that confusion and frustration--but what is satisfying for me as a writer is not necessarily going to work for the reader. And genre fiction is essentially a "pull" economy that, although it is inspired by the creativity of writers, exists to cater to the needs of readers. I also have two books I really want to write that are heterosexual romances entirely from the male point of view. But who, I wonder, is going to want to read them? Will I be satisfying my own needs more than that of my potential reader?

So, what point of view do you like to write... and/or to read? First or third, one POV or two... and whose?

p.s. If you want to see how many people are visiting this blog check out topblogsites

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Cock by Any Other Name [adult language]

When I was first starting out writing erotica I hesitated to use words for it. But with time, after asking advice and reading other erotic romance books it seemed to me that this genre (especially m/m) generally opts for the word 'cock'. It looks a little aggressive to begin with but pretty soon you get used to it and focus more on what the cock is doing than its preferred mode of address.

However, a thread over at the forums suggested that (with some regional variation) most men actually opt for dick. Is this true? Because it really is a rather silly word and I would have some trouble using it in a sex scene without making the whole thing sound a bit ridiculous. Cock, fine. Penis, occasionally--even sometimes shaft, rod, staff etc etc..... But to me 'dick' is right up there with winky or pee-pee as a word for the phallus no grown man should utter during an intimate moment.

On the whole, in romance I am not too heavy on the nouns but sometimes you really do need to specify Tab A and Slot B (or C-F) and it seems to me that the term used needs to be both tolerably authentic for the view-point character, and relatively benign to the reader. So it has me wondering, what is your noun of choice?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Link Me, Baby

I am updating the blog to match the upcoming website redesign. I hope you like the new look. Please let me know if anything looks funny or there are broken links :(

If you are a blog member, or an erotic romance writer, please drop me the link to your blog so I can add you. Reciprocal links appreciated.

[NEWS] Torquere Press Opens New Imprint

Gay and lesbian fiction epublisher Torquere Press will soon announce a new imprint: Bareback Angels. The new imprint will publish het and menage romance and erotic romance beginning in June 2007.

[Review] Satosumi Takaguchi -- Shout Out Loud! Vol. 2

Shout Out Loud!, Volume 2 Second of a five part yaoi manga series about a long-separated father and son trying to build a relationship while dealing with other upheavals in their lives. Shino's an anime voice actor. Now he has a son to support, he's started taking on any roles he's offered -- including yaoi audio dramas. Nakaya's a teenager not quite old enough to be independent, but old enough to be initially very uncomfortable with his father's job. It doesn't really help that he's noticed the interest some of Shino's colleagues are showing in him, even if the unworldly Shino hasn't.

This volume sees some development in the various plotlines set up in volume 1. Shino may be innocent, but even he can't help noticing when his colleague Mizusawa invites him home and then kisses him very thoroughly. And passing it off as a bad case of bringing the job home stops working when Mizusawa and Tenryu start squabbling over him on a live radio show. Especially when Tenryu mentions having kissed Shino when Shino got drunk and passed out one night... Nakaya is trying to protect his father's virtue, but he's distracted by his own problems, not least of which is getting a crush on one of the ice hockey coachs.

As with the first volume, the focus is on story and character development rather than sex, although the UST gets a bit less U in this one. There are several well-developed characters here and a number of potential relationships hinted at for both Shino and Nakaya. It's a sweet and often very funny story that kept me reading, guessing at how things might play out. The sex is limited to kissing, but is none the worse for that. The artwork is beautiful, and includes quite a selection of hot guys. Once again this series scores highly on both the eye candy and brain candy.

It's possible to pick up the story with this volume, but I'd strongly recommend starting with the first volume in the series (reviewed here).

Shout Out Loud! Vol. 2 at Amazon US
Shout Out Loud!: Volume 2 at Amazon UK

Shout Out Loud!, Volume 2
at Barnes & Noble
at Powell's

Little Things that Matter :)

This is a question for all you ebook authors. What small things does your publisher do that makes your life easier? What little touches do you find with one publisher that the others might like to add?

I will start by mentioning that Loose Id provides very clear, regular royalty statements. I particularly appreciate that they report cumulative sales by title and distributor which helps me keep my figures straight--and means I can fill in gaps when I lose a statement and always know what I have sold and what payment is due.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Have you ERWFed?

If you haven't visited already please check out the Erotic Romance Writers' Forum. I have started a specific sub-forum here for anyone who might like to get more involved in EREC. The site will soon be re-opening at our new domain and as the webmaster I would appreciate any and all suggestions from lofty goals to color schemes and good sources of clip art.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Review-ocracy

I, Emily Veinglory, do solemnly promise to read and review whichever book gets the most suggestions by this Saturday (noon)--so long as the book is romance and/or erotica, can be bought at Borders or online, and is under $20.

So please, make a suggestions (and yes, you can suggest your own books). Make your suggestions as comments to this post. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

[Market] Quill-Pen Press

QPN Press has issued a call for submission for an anthology of erotic short stories. The erotic nature has to involve male dominated domestic discipline and sex in a marriage setting.

The tales we are looking for are about women getting comfortable with their BDSM (submissive) fantasies. We are looking for great descriptions of the sexually submissive emotions. The non physical aspects (power exchange) are far more important then the act itself. Stay away from four-letter expletives, use creative euphemisms instead. Since our target readership are ladies who read romance, we prefer HEA (happily ever after) endings. Keep the word count between 4,000 and 8,000.

The following is a must: heterosexual couples only, no bestiality, no blood, and no underage kids.

The anthology is planned for print softcover only at this time. The one time royalty is $40 for which we purchase three-year exclusive publishing rights. The copyright remains with authors.

Deadline: June 20, 2007

To submit go to: and follow directions.

Email with questions at

Is There Something Rotten in the State of Ellora's Cave?

Ellora's Cave must be acknowledged as the tallest poppy in the erotic romance epublishing garden. And there is a saying in New Zealand, that the tallest poppy is the one that tends to get its head cut off. That is, people tend to knock and criticise the most successful companies.

However, I cannot help but notice a trend in reader's blogs such as Karen Scott's mentioning disatisfaction with the content and quality of EC's recent output. Both Karen Scott and Mrs. Giggles have mentioned Liquid Silver Books and the relative newcomer Samhain as favorable by comparision (full disclosure, I am an author with Samhain).

Mrs Giggles says: "I don't care much for Ellora's Cave books anymore due to the overkill of the whole "BDSM alien/furries/vamps" formula."

and Karen Scott: "I have tried the new authors, but most of the newbies that I’ve read, have sucked in a big way..."

And yet Ellora's Cave books continue to sell well and fill the trade paperback shelves. Do they really need to change the way they do things, or just have a website make-over and show some signs of listening to readers? They did (finally) open to m/m submissions and it wouldnt hurt to have more works outside the bondage vampires and so on--although this rather depends on writers submitting quality work in fresh areas? There has been criticism of EC's branding from the beginning and the Ellora's Cave management proved to know what they were doing each time.

While their sales are way ahead of the others I think Ellora's Cave have great cause for complacency, but the pack may just be closing in on them?


Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Sales Figure Project

Hi all!

I continue to encourage writers to email me ( confidentially with sales figures for erotic romance ebooks. I am particularly interested, at this time, in hearing about sales at Mardis Gras and Triskelion.

All I need to get started is first month sales--where available also first year, total to date, and sales to the end of the contract (for each book, by publisher). All figures are strictly anonymous and no names are stored in the database.

So far only a few figures are posted because although I have data for over fifty books I only post the average figures for each publisher when I have a minimum of five books by a minimum of three different authors.

I am also tracking overall average figures which will be calculated over the last 100 books reported. These give some idea of typical sales in this genre regardless of publisher--shown below. If the industry is going well (from the writer's point of view) these should be going onward and upward!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Predators & Editors Results

The Predators and Editors readers poll has been closed and the results tallied. In the category of "Book Publisher" the winner is...

1. Samhain Publishing*

The top ten include: Whiskey Creek Press*, Siren Publishing*, Double Dragon Publishing, eXtasy Books*, Hadesgate Publications, Mundania Press*, Ellora's Cave*, Changeling Press*, The Wild Rose Press*, Liquid Silver Books* and Wings ePress.

So that is 7 in the top 10 that are either an erotic romance e-publisher or an epublisher with an erotic romance imprint or focus! Congratulation to Samhain Press and all the top 10 finishers. If you, your editor, artist or any other associate placed in any of the categories please let us know!

Please update your links!

As part of our move to our own domain the EREC blog is moving from: to -- effective immediately.

Please update your links to the blog. The blog will be published at both addresses for a transition period.

The fixed web-page (pages other than the blog) are also moving but please note that the erecsite version is in beta mode and will not be fully functional for a few weeks. I'll let you know when the fixed website has officially moved to the new domain.

Thank you for hanging in their while the updates are completed. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Now *That's* Good Blog.

Which romance, erotica or publishing blogs do you visit pretty much every day? Let us know? My top pick right now would be Dear Author which provides a wide range of book reviews and industry news. Dear Author's a not snarky blog, but it is often a great reality check, giving a reader's point of view on books, technology and the industry. And recently Mrs Giggles has been posting some really interesting stuff about about erotic romance epublishing. Seems she caught some flack for this. Maybe some ebook authors out there are a leetle oversensitive. It's a business, guys--not a religion...

Romance Fiction Rant of the Day...

So, I like romance series but I am starting to get annoyed by characters that do nothing but interrupt the romance in progress, in order to advertise a "coming attraction".

I mean, there is nothing wrong with mentioning that the hero has a friend. Then in the next book when his friend falls in love with an auburn-haired orthodontist (or whoever) it won't come as a big surprise. And this friend might be in the background in a few scenes. He isn't really part of the story but he isn't getting in the way either.

Even better, the friend might actually be part of the story. Maybe the hero goes to him for advice. Maybe the heroine goes to the friend for help when the hero gets in trouble. Maybe the friend tries to stop the romance because he is sure the heroine is a gold-digging trollop. You know, the friend is part of the main story and gets his own story later.

But why is it that what happens is often something like this:

She smiled, shaking her head. "One of these times it's going to stick. And you might find it's more complicated than it seems, this love business.

"Maybe you're right," he said with a shrug and the slight insolence of a man who's never had to choose between love and career. One day darlin', she thought to herself, I'd like to see you deeply in love and torn apart by it, then see if the superior smirk isn't wiped off that dark, handsome face of yours. One day.
(From Brit Bad Boys/Nancy Warren)

Holy foreshadowing, Batman. The heroine had no reason to have this conversation--let have such strong opinions about Mr. Tall, Dark and Smirksome (whom she had met briefly whilst in the throes of falling in "deeply" love with some one else, and being "torn apart" by it). Please, please guys. Secondary characters in a story should contribute to that story before trying to get me interested in reading more about their own.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What People Want...?

Having suggested that erotic romance writers need to look beyond the standard themes I thought I would look around the blogverse for pleas, hints and incitements to meet unsatisfied reading needs. Please pipe up to agree, disagree or add your own:

"I love, love, LOVE married characters stories." -- Sharon at the WriteMinded Blog

"What is it about romance that excludes athletes? They’re our everyday heroes, the men who drive in the winning run, throw the winning pass, make that basket or goal when their team is depending on them. [...] Anyone else interested in seeing more hunky guys swinging bats in their romances?" -- Amy Garvey on RomancingtheBlog

"One thing that continually frustrates me in romance is the lack of heroines over a certain age - and when you do get a heroine over 30 or even more rarely 40, she’s often a stereotype." -- Lauren Dane

"I love me a romance which is also a horse story" -- Bronwyn Jameson

"No, I'm not kidding when I say we need more sex in romantic eroticas" -- Mrs Giggles

Cover and Country...

While looking for this vaguely remembered book I had in mind its gorgeous cover art. It's been a good ten years since I read "Taming the Forest King" but I still could have described its very apt and autumnal cover.

So when I kept coming up with the American art, shown right--I thought 'No that's not it'. It wasn't just that the art was different. I knew full well that the version I read was most probably British and the one I would find online would most probably be American. (I would have read the UK version due to a book monopoly deal relating to the New Zealand market that I will discuss another day).

But there was no way this cover could in any way be associated with the story I had read. Who was this generic sword bimbo? Where was my matter-of-fact calavry colonel? That art would fit Red Sonja far better than poor Tevra! What is it, I wondered, with the 'Betty and Veronica' effect--all women on American cover art look the same! Am I being to harsh? Is this just my Antipodean prejudices showing? Is there really any big difference?

It seems to me that British covers lean towards line art and a sort of classic hand-drawn illustrated look. American covers lean more to paint and stock photos, interspersed with generic abstracts and cloned women of various types. But I wanted to do a little test, based on a book with several UK and US covers. The only example I could come up with that has multiple editions in each country may be far too well know to represent any challenge, and it didn't meet my pre-conceived notions very well... but let us try. Below are shown three UK covers and three USA covers for the same book. Which is which? Can you tell? (Title covered because it is different in the US and UK).

[16 Feb 2007] The answers! (As a link so others can play):

M/F Romance with Subdominant Men

I invite (nay, beg) you to share with me any titles you know that involved alpha women and not-so-alpha men. This might be femdom or sweet romance. Periodically I emerge and try to satisfy this reading-craving, and the results normally leave me skuttling back to m/m wondering (yet again) whether I am some kind of freak.

And why is it, that every time I mention this possibility on romance forums I get comments like "I don't know how there could be a beta hero that wouldn't seem desperate or pathetic".

Right now heroines are typically subdominat or subordinate to the hero as a matter of course. Sure, she may still be a heat packing policewoman with the attitude of a rottweiler--but only if the hero is a vampire assassin that makes Vlad the Impaler look like a sissy-boy. The differential in most cases is roughly the same. People who point me at writers like J D Robb are not appreciating what I am asking for.

I have noticed many publishers specify no femdom, and editors may look a little nervous at about my alpha female book ideas and usher me calmly back to the gay vampires. Gay vampires are good, right? Well yes, they sure are. But my bitter female PI and her uptight businessman lover are hot too, my chatelaine and her protector, my retired assassin and her hot young prince... sigh.

I prefer sweetish stories with a subdominant (c.f. subordinate) male. The best examples I can give are: "Taming the Forest King" by Claudia Edwards and the play/movie "Why Not Stay For Breakfast" in which the alpha heroine is a truly marvellous young pregnant woman. Please share your own examples of all kinds of dominant female romance and erotica.

"dirty, dirty marketer"

I thought I'd share an interesting link -

The Marketing Whore - Gracie Passette's marketing blog for adult webmasters. Even though the target audience is different, it contains interesting articles. Her thoughts on blogs and Myspace are relevant to erotica/erotic romance authors.

I don't know about you, but I need all the marketing information I can get. If you have any other links to share, please post them in the comments section.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Male Rape Scenes in Romance

Is it just me or is it becoming increasingly common to subject the hero in heterosexual romance to male rape? It is not even that I have a problem with rape scenes, or even titillating rape scenes--although that is certainly not my preference as a reader it is just fiction and people's kinks are their own prerogative. But when a mainstream romance publisher includes titillating male rape scenes my questions are these:

1) If a publisher does not accept any plot lines involving, let alone describing, male on female rape—why is male on male rape okay?
2) If that same publisher does not accept romance that includes male on male consensual sex, why is male on male rape okay?

Examples include: Cross Stitch (US title: Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon, many titles by Susan Squires (also showing female on male rape). I know there are others, can anyone remind me? —one was about Vikings.

I am even more disturbed by readers responding to commentary on the subject like this: Courtney on “The rape. Ooh, the rape. Diana Gabaldon is NOT a woman who enjoys man to man sex! I don't think any hetro [sic] person does! Now, I have to take a deep breath, cause this annoys me a lot.”

Male rape seems largely used to create that archetype 'the wounded hero'. But by presenting the event erotically I just have this sneaking feeling that these scenes are telling us something... that society's comfort level with gay sexuality is back in the dark ages--you know when heroines needed to be raped because virtuous women would never consent to ‘doing the dirty’ even if they secretly enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

[REVIEW] Satsumi Takaguchi -- Shout Out Loud! (Sakende Yaruze!) volume 1

First time I've ever posted through Blogger -- please forgive me if I mess it up.

I've been reading yaoi manga... Here's my review for Amazon.

Shout out Loud!, Volume 1First of what is apparently a five volume series. The first three parts are now available in English translation; the remaining two parts are scheduled for release in April and August.

Orphaned 17-year-old Nakaya goes looking for long-last father, expecting to find a burnt-out salaryman, and instead gets a baby-faced 33-year-old who makes a living as an anime voice actor. Finding himself with an unexpected son to support just as his current series is finishing, Shino tells his agency he'll take any job. What he gets offered is roles in boys love audio dramas -- and as becomes clear to the reader and eventually Nakaya, but not (yet) Shino, two of Shino's co-workers are gay and have the hots for Shino.

There's a good story in this book; the primary focus in the first volume is father and son getting to know each other (no, not in that way). Nakaya's mother fell pregnant when she and Shino were teenagers, and she chose to leave Shino to stop him sacrificing his education to look after them. Now they have to build a relationship, at a time when both are grieving, and Nakaya is having to make decisions about his own education. It doesn't help that Nakaya's grandmother has never forgiven Shino for getting her daughter pregnant, and doesn't want Nakaya living with Shino.

Along with this, there's a look at the voice acting industry, and Shino's developing relationships with two of his fellow actors -- platonic on Shino's side, but not on theirs. And then there's Nakaya's teacher, who is also gay and has a thing for nice voices...

The erotic content in this volume is mostly in the scripts Shino and his colleagues are working on, though there's one very nice kiss. If you're looking for hardcore you'll be disappointed, but fans of UST should enjoy this one.

The cover's a bit disappointing, but don't let that put you off, as the interior art is much more attractive. Note that it's a lot less bishounen in style than many (which matches my own preferences).

I liked this a lot. There's an interesting story with relationships that develop over time, there's a lot of gentle humour, it's nicely drawn, and the guys are hot.

Shout out Loud!, Volume 1
Shout Out Loud! Vol. 1 at
Shout Out Loud!, Volume 1 at
at Powells

Epublishers: ...and the little one said, roll over*

The EREC List currently includes 43 e-publishers of erotic romance, and I know there are probably at least a dozen more (please comment to let me know about any I have missed). Some of these epublishers will not survive the year, others will never seize a meaningful market share. From the point of view of readers it is becoming hard to keep track of an author's output and there are legitimate questions about quality control [as addressed recently by Mrs Giggles]. But these complaints should not be placed solely at the feet of the authors.

There is no doubt that erotic romance epublishing is a busy and crowded marketplace. Romance readers once waited loyally for the paperback output of their favorite authors. The more reading time you had, the more authors you followed. And for print-published writers and paperback readers this is still a great strategy. However is seems like the online readership has increasingly adapted to follow a different strategy, one already common with erotica readers. They follow specific epublishers based on either their niche or their quality assurance. Many epublishers have a clear specialty such as Torquere for gay and lesbian fiction and Discipline and Desire for male domination and spanking. Others compete in the mainstream of erotic romance and strive for a high level of quality; they hold and grow their readership to the extent that they achieve this goal. In either case the reader may no longer feel any particular compunction to read an author's m/f short story at one epub just because they liked their novel length m/m at another--especially if that author is prolific and works across many sub-genres.

E-publishing, for the most part, is a bulk business. If you want to pay the bills solely through e-publishing you need to generate as much viable content as you can. A reality erotica writers have long had to live with. The realities of the market inevitably put pressure on writers trying to maintain quality, but more importantly on editors to define a niche or raise and hold high the bar. The editor's role is largely invisible in the word of paperbacks, but crucial in the digital domain were the gate-keepers are many and variable in their competence. It is the acquiring editor's judgement that creates the e-publisher's brand--they need to hold the line with both new and established authors if they are to keep their company afloat.

Can the high output of epublishers be sustained? I think it can and the reason is this. The new digital production methods (e- and POD) allow each reader to find the very specific material they like. If you like full-figured heroines, interracial, gay, femdom or almost any kind of demographic or relationship so long as there are a few hundred other customers looking for the same thing then an epublisher and a writer will find it worthwhile to cater to your needs. Low overheads allow the exploitation of smaller niches. So while many writers will compete for the mainstream erotic romance market, the others can either battle to the top of that pile or build a smaller one of their own.

The key is that customers make their demands known and epublishers listen. The demand of alpha vampires and female centred menage may be high but it is not inexhaustible. Both writers and publishers need to find and exploit the still uncharted territories of romance and desire. New epublishers should not seek to clone the success of Ellora's Cave indefinitely, any more than new writers should all model themselves on Jaid Black. In the end the heat in the reader's seat comes from the fantasy they share with the writer. Women's (and men's) fantasies are so much more diverse than the main themes epublishers are catering to. So writers need to explore their own fantasies rather than strive to write BDSM or gay sex when it really doesn't rock their boat. E-publishers need to take a chance on new material rather than only mining the known seams of demand. (How many epublishers initially turned away m/m because "our customers are women" rather than letting those customers define their own needs?)

Eventually the large publishing houses will steal much the erotic romance epublishers' thunder--providing real erotic romance and even m/m and BDSM reading at chain stores. But the smaller markets will never be accessible to companies depending on large offset print runs. And the smaller, kinkier or quirkier, markets will always include material people prefer to buy online and store in digital forms. When I see writers asking 'how do I write yaoi, or bondage or m/m when I am not interested in it?' I can't help but wonder what wonders they are interested in and are not writing. Where are the books full of furries, pegging, forced feminisation or all those other unexploited wonders of human sexuality? When one publishing area gets crowded, the smart critter leaves the pack and tries his or her luck in a new territory. Risky? Maybe, but no riskier than trying to snatch market share from between the teeth of Ellora's Cave and the other alpha epublishers already well established in their niche.


* And to explain the title of this post, you may remember the children's counting song that starts:

There were ten in a bed
And the little one said
"Roll over, roll over"
So they all rolled over
And one fell out

Epublishers who don't want to feel crowded, or even fall out, need to realise that there are many more places where we can make our beds.


[Feb 12, 2007] Edited to add, Racy Li makes a similar point here.
[Feb 16, 2007] See also this from Joyce.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

[REVIEW] British Bad Boys

British Bad Boys
by Nancy Warren
(ebook: Mobipocket)
Rating: worth a look.

The first time I picked up the book I looked at the cover I laughed--the second time, I bought it (sometimes quirky covers make all the difference). It shows a man who seems very proud of his cufflinks standing in front of a stately home saying: “Anything you like, luv.” A very confusing mélange of British stereotypes to be sure. Sort of Prince Charles meets Footballer’s Wives by way of the East End. Inside are three linked stories that are pretty much cozy small town love stories with high flying professional people.

The opening scene gives us the Earl of Ponsford being served tea by his Butler (called “Wiggins”, I kid you not) and putting on his navy blazer. Alas, I had a lot of trouble with the setting. An estate with over 180 staff and a small village that would not exist without this estate. The village is all quaint with stone cottages, thatched roofs and no street lights--but includes a range of stores including an internet café and a pub with multiple vegetarian food options. Oh well, in the interests of romance I shall suspend my disbelief.

Having done so I found it rather nice to read about terribly talented, likeable people falling in love with each other. First George the architect-Earl and TV producer Maxine, then Publican Arthur and author Meg, and finally head chef Rachel and playboy businessman Jack. There is love at first sight, sex (not described in great detail) at first opportunity and marriage in the not to distant the future. Of the three stories the last, ‘Union Jack’, is most engaging as both characters have their foibles and the secondary characters support their story rather than being heroes and heroines obviously planted for use later on.

The first two stories ‘George and the Dragon’ and ‘Night Round Arthur’s Table’ are nice enough but far too similar. Not only do both explore the sensual scenario of a man showing a woman how to play darts—but the sex scenes echo each other with men with busy lips and lines like “You’re so wet,” he whispered [George] and “You’re so wet. So hot,” he murmured [Arthur] creating a distracting sense of deja vue. Both of these stories only provide a token obstacle to overcome in that high-flying American women are not sure they want to move to England or, or as Maxine calls it “the go or stay dilemma.”

Overall the treatment of the British theme straddles authentic and cheesy aspects. An earl who looks like Hugh Grant and every heroine in the book being a visiting American. Everything from over-cooked beef to bad weathers get a mention in what feels a little like a rough guide to national clichés. The author obviously knows England pretty well but the way this is expressed often feels a little forced and it is like the authentic details sit awkwardly next to cheerful stereotypes. I mean, is there a particular point to the following exchange other than to point out that Brits have some funny sounding food?

“I thought it was fish and chips.”
“No, darling. You’re thinking of sausages and mash.”
Maxine said, “I’m still waiting to try toad in the hole.”
“And wait till you’ve tried Mrs B.’s bubble and squeak,” George said.

Overall the author's voice seems to be an American one, which meshes better with the heroine’s points of view than that of the heroes. But given that this collection is part of the Brava ‘Bad Boys’ series it should not be surprising that foreigners are being offered up largely as a slightly exotic curiosity. Oh, and as is also usual with this series, none of the men is even slightly bad.

There were occasional perplexing moments such as when some guy called Ted is a “lighting man” on page 68 and a “sound tech” by page 70. And the scene where Meg suddenly tells Arthur that she can see a bloody corpse in his pub, and only after six paragraphs about the importance of a good manicure is this revealed to be her writer’s imagination at work not a psychic gift or mental breakdown.

The collection's redeeming qualities are the eminently likeable characters and heart warming pair-ups. Its main problems are brushes with both stereotype and cliché. Competently written but a little too sweet for my taste. Your mileage may vary.

[Market] Freya's Bower

The weather outside might be frightful right now, but at Freya's Bower, we're dreaming of sunshine and hot steamy nights. To celebrate summer in all it's glory, we'll be offering a new fast, fun and flirty line of beach reads on June 21, 2007, the official first day of summer. We're looking for some great short reads (short stories from 10,000 to 15,000 words and novellas from 15,001 to 30,000 words) dealing with the theme of summer, sun, and love. All romance and erotica subgenres allowed, as long as it fits within the theme. We'll take all heat levels, from sweet to sizzling, but no matter what the heat, make the temperature rise!

Deadline for submissions: April 21, 2007 (although decisions will be made on a rolling basis)Selected authors will receive the standard Freya's Bower contract. Royalties are paid at 40% of net profits. Stories will be released as stand-alone mini ebooks, with the eventual possibility of print as an anthology to be discussed.

Submit your stories and/or any questions directly to Heather Sapp at Please follow the guidelines for submissions:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Read Any Good Books Lately?

The EREC Blog is interested in receiving book reviews for any erotica and/or romance works. Our only limitations are that they should be reviews of bought books by authors not personally known to you.

To post reviews simply email ERECmail @ gmail .com and either attach the review and your byline, or ask to join us as a blogger.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mrs Giggles, Promoting Ebooks and Moist Thongs

In a recent post book maven Mrs Giggles really hits the mark in saying a great many things about effective ebook promotion, including:

"I don't read ebook reviews on other websites [...with exceptions...] because the reviews on those websites are pretty much fluff. Can I say that they are fluff, because honestly now, they are. All those reviews with "five stars", "five roses", "five moist thongs", or whatever they use on those websites as grading objects are meaningless to me because most of these reviews are nothing more than a paragraph or two of plot summary and a closing paragraph urging me to buy those books."

I highly recommend reading her full post.

See the Absolute Write forun post I believe is being referenced at the beginning of the article here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

[PROMO] Dreams and Desires

Sometimes I get to be part of a project that really makes me proud to be a part of the romance community. This a genre that is escapist sometimes even frivolous--but publishers like Freya's Bower can come up with a project that is about more than entertainment.

Dream and Desires is an anthology of 19 stories ranging from sweet to sizzling. All of the stories, art, editing and formatting were donated to allow the profits to go to a women's shelter. Freya's Bower is primarily an e-publisher but they have really done an immaculate job in releasing Dreams and Desires in ebook, paperback and hardback formats with distribution and a returns policy to allow this book to be stocked in stores.

With Valentine's day coming up I would encourage you to consider buying a copy of Dreams and Desires. Not only are there stories by stellar print and epublished authors but this charity anthology is, in every way, a work of love.
Even Mrs Giggles gave Dreams and Desires a great review.

Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and a store near you.

How to say 'no, thank you' to M/M and F/F

It is not often I can draw the do and don't examples from a single publisher--in this case Scarlet Publishing. I fully understand that gay and lesbian romance is a niche that some publishers do not include. For example, it is perfectly reasonable--even rather helpful--to specify:

"We are not seeking M/M or F/F romances at this time."

However a press release for a contest from the same publisher states:

"Entries that include m/m, f/f, bondage, rape, or bestiality will not be considered and will be returned to the author. All genres of romance will be accepted."

(Bold and italics were in the original, not added by me)

All genres of romance, except of course anything relating to perverts. This from a promotional post sent to a gay fiction yahoogroup.

[Feb 10th] Edited to Add: It has been pointed out that the website page referring to this contest used to use similar phrasing but it was changed to remove any mention of m/m or f/f. Might I respectfully suggest just sticking to the perfectly sensible and diplomatic phrase used on their main site: "We are not seeking M/M or F/F romances at this time." Writers of gay romance may not appreciate the way the original exclusion was phrased, but they would also not want to waste their time or that of the editor writing for a contest not open to m/m or f/f material. Publishers not comfortable with gay fiction should, of course, not solicit it. But as with any matter of sexuality (as with race, religion or politics), tact is called for.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Domain Soon

EREC will be moving to a new address at -- but right now I am going through the 27 trials of extreme frustration required to get a domain registrar to talk to a webhost--hampered by the fact that I only speak pidgin geek. The site will display at both addresses for a transition period.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Input Sought: Asylett Press

EREC would be interested in hearing about recent author experiences with Asylett Press.

Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

I was thinking today about the issue of who is behind an epublisher. When dealing with new companies without a record of performance, I look at who is running the company. Apparently I am not the only one. New epublisher Resplendence felt obliged to post a reason for not having easily accessible contact details and names. Specifically to: "to protect our families and our privacy ... [from] unscrupulous and downright sick people out there."

I, personally, think this rather misses the point. The prospective writer doesn't need a home address and pictures of the editor's children. They don't need any personal information whatsoever because although the writer-publisher relationship may become personal it is fundamentally professional. I don't need to like my publisher, I do need to believe in their abilities. It is for that reaon that writers approaching a start-up press are looking for successful relevant professional experience. Despite their apparent bad experiences Resplendence staff continue to post information about their homes, families and pets--but little that suggests they have experience in selecting, editing and securing effective distribution for romance fiction.

I welcome Resplendence as the 40th e-publisher on our list and wish them every success. They have identified a promising niche in the area of novel length romance, including non-erotic genres. I applaud their recognition of the author's desire to make a personal connection and to see their work come out in paperback as well as ebook form. If, as seems to be implied, this means they will limit the number of authors they take on, I would see this as a very positive approach. This is a vital ingrediant needed to bridge the gap between e-publishing author farms and the traditional small press. But where are the specifics? Assertions that customers will flock to them for their quality fiction seem speculative at best, as a basis for success. The romance genre is already very well served by presses not known for putting out substandard products or being cold with their contributors.

In my humble opinion a better impression would be made by giving names and stating facts. Where direct industry experience is lacking a clear, specifc and detailed marketing plan can make up the deficit. It is great that a publisher promises to make me a part of their family but I, as it happens, already have a family. My main concern is, how well will they sell my books?

Article Ideas Needed

A few minor changes are on the horizon for EREC. One of these is that we will become a (low) paying market for non-fiction articles. Our pay rate will be $5-10 to purchase non-exclusive electronic publication rights for articles ranging from 500 to 1,500 words in length. Articles would be selected by a consensus of the EREC Team and new articles would be published weekly, depending on supply.

In preparation for the change I would like to have a list of article topics of interest to our readers. Please post your suggestions here or email erecmail @