Thursday, May 31, 2007


In April I noted that Red Sage had opened a website for their ebook imprint at, I recently noted that this website has been non-functional for some time. A direct email to Alexandria Kendall did not produce any explanation or information about where on the internet e-RedSage will ultimately be hosted. She did, however, confirm that the ebook line is going ahead and they are "... looking at a July opening."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Livejournal Suspensions

Barb Sheridan brought to my attention the large numbers of accounts being suspended at Livejournal for a range of reasons to do with percieved violations of terms of service. The best summary information re: fandom accounts seems to be this one by catrinella, see also this from Liz Marcs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Dear Author reports that Gail Northman has resigned from Triskelion.

Monday, May 28, 2007

You Are What You... Read?

I have always thought that one of the liberating things about writing is that the book is judged on its own merits. I guess that was pretty naive, but as a reader I never knew anything about authors. I read every book I could get my hands on, over the course of ten years or so I read almost every fiction book in the public library and was working my way systematically through the non-fiction floor too. I read a lot of books in the genres I could get cheaply in mass market paperbacks and second hand, mainly romance and westerns. I had also worked around issues of wanting to write about people not like me, specifically gay men. Fiction should free the writer too. We should write would we are moved to write; what we can earn money from writing; what we can write well. So all was happy and free in the world of fiction.

Then, of course, I grew up and joined the real world. I have made mixed comments on the issue of gay-specific shelving. On one hand I said that if this kind of shelving sells more books, then I as a writer am content. But over time I am less and less convinced by this, that is is a good reason--or that it is true at all. Even as one of those readers specifically seeking gay fiction in my local stores I have a hard time finding this small section. I generally go there after browsing the romance and fantasy shelves and before picking up my favorite magazines from the 'Men's Interest' section. I visit my own meagre print publications in their own out of the way places. My poem, not in the poetry section but under 'Religious Writing' (I am an atheist), and my story in a romance anthology in the sex/recovery>erotica section. Why on earth am I giving this store and its odd shelving policies the benefit of the doubt?

Just yesterday I got a Borders gift card. I had recently been visiting Blogging in Black and Monica Jackson's blog and this made me think about how many romance books I had read with black main characters. I could bring to mind sci fi books (4), a memoir (1) and sagas (2) but not a single romance. And given how voriaciously I have read this genre over two decades that simply means I never came across one. How strange is that? They do exist. So, I had already ordered some but Amazon (shown above) and noticed that when you look at one AA romance all the other "suggested" books and reader's lists are AA romance (when you look at AA/inspirational all the suggested books are both AA and inspy) every single one. Where is the crossover readership? When I checked a few general fantasy and mainstream books the recommendations were defintiely more mixed.

So this seemed like a good opportunity to see what Borders had to offer. I knew where the African American literature section was entirely because it is just to the left of the gay and lesbian literature. It is almost three horizontal sections and I had a look at every book there. In proportion to fiction in general about 40% was romance. I noted most of it was contemporary and urban with no historical and very little speculative fiction. Other than that the range was very diverse. There were themes that were pretty uncommon on the main romance shelves, for example infidelity comes up across many books, both gay and lesbian works are present as well as inspirational.

A quick check confirms that someone like Laurinda D. Brown (author of "Walk Like a Man") is consider more black than she is lesbian as she appears in only the AA section. My other purchase "He's Fine... But is he Saved" by Kimberley Brooks is more black than it is inspirational/religious. Having books shelved by race and sexuality is interesting enough but the fact that race is often a 'trump' genre is fascinating. As are the exceptions. I could one of the black authors I recalled having previously read in sci fi, shelved with the other sci fi. Nor did there seem to be any fantasy or sci fi in the AA section with the exception of one high concept literary work that would have to be considered something like a sci fi equivalent of magical realism.

Damned if I really know what this all means but probably the most interesting part of it all was this. I stood in the AA section for a good 15 minutes picking my books. As I walked up to it there was a guy browing already in the first section. So I started with the second and worked over to the third. I became aware the guy was staring at me. He even leaned over to be able to see my face. Having been taught as a teen to clarify and be aware of potentially negative male attention I looked at him directly, to see if he would strike up harmless conversation or back off. He picked up a book near him on the shelf and pretended to ignore me until I looked away again. Then he went to a nearby music listening post and kept staring at me, then came back to the shelf on the other side. When I went to the magazine shelf he followed and then he drifted off at the register. So, either this is an unprecedented case of a guy who finally appreciated me as the exquisite Goddess that I am, or a white women browsing the AA section is a sight worth fifteen minutes of solid staring. And that's weird... isn't that weird? I got less reaction buying gay porn magazines!

So, anyway, I am inviting you all to send in recommendations or reviews specifically of romances with black main characters. And after that I will be on the hunt for romances with Asian, Polynesian, Maori, Aboriginal etc characters--and onwards from there to whatever else needs more attention (older characters, disabled characters, romances set somewhere other than US/Europe?). Because romance really shouldn't be so perfectly separated into arbitrary subsections according to race, sexuality (type or amount), age, or religion. If romance readers in general are happy for their genre area to include bondage, historical and blue-skinned aliens it should be possible to 'accidentally' come across books there about black people and gays rather then needing a free half hour and a good map to even find where they are shelved.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

That 'n' That

[SIMON AND SCHUSTER] Simon & Schuster, theoretically a highly reputable press, are now offering contracts that allow them to keep rights to books even after they are out of print (and rights would normally revert to the author). This is likely a grab for future e-book rights. They are also running a rather odd "Book Idol" system where the public can vote on book proposals. But even of you do want the "prize" of a deal with S & S, read the fine print of this contest.

[RED SAGE] I have to wonder about the commitment of Red Sage to its new ebook line when the website has been down for days without explanation.

[SIREN] Siren are solicting erotic romance submissions via Craigslist. Why does that strike me as... odd.

[HABEUS GREENUS] I will be reporting my earnings as promised, see: here. You may now point and laugh. :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tinker, tinker, tinker, poke, poke, poke -- goes the RWA

RWA - Romance Writers of America
RWR - Romance Writers' Report
PAN - Published Authors' Network

"Our proposal: Rather than having all members who write for particular publishers automatically become PAN-eligible, we are proposing that authors who can prove they have earned $2000.00 - in advance, in royalties, or a combination of the two - on one romance novel from any non-vanity, non-subsidy publisher shall be PAN-eligible."

So a piece in the latest RWR is apparently suggesting (not yet clear that this is fate accomplis) that ebook writers should prove they made $2000 from one title or lose PAN status. Currently you need only write for a recognised publisher but as soon as four epublishers made that list things started getting very busy in the back rooms, hmmm? Some "fair" (i.e. offset press-centric) changes in the wind, again.

Many ebook writers have made that, heck, make it every year. But it is the nature of the beast that this money is often made across several titles often at novella lengths (or one title over a pretty extended period). Ergo, new ebook writers will be disadvantaged, offset writers that haven't typed a word since the eighties will be fine. Perhaps a counter proposal would be that every PAN member would have to demonstrated they made $2000 from writing every year.

If you are going to stir, what is bad for the goose...

If the whole goal is to not endorse publishers that mostly pay peanuts this seems upside down. They should (if the must) change recognition and leave PAN alone.

For specific writers' comments see: Shades of Suspense : Creating Trouble in Paradise

Thursday, May 24, 2007

[New Market] Shadowrose

Dear Shadowrose proprietors,

Welcome to romance epublishing. Your website reminds me of many of the websites posted by start-up epublishers in this genre therefore I thought it might be instructive to make a few comments about it which are meant as a basis for discussion, rather than just to be a big meanie. If you would like to see more submissions from romance writers I would suggest the following.

1) Get rid of the contest that charges a $10 entry fee for manuscript submissions from unpublished writers and offers a contract and $50 as top prize ($25 for second place). Submitting to a start-up e-press is uninviting enough without being asked to pay for the privilege, let alone according to a format that allows you to turn a profit within seven submissions--this from a publisher claiming to "...receive upwards of 100 submissions per day". Furthermore do not plug a $4 self-published "short" ebook to potential authors instead of just requiring them to follow your submission guidelines. Make an effort to look like you wish to profit from selling books by other people (rather than your own?).

2) Be aware that you may not get as many romance submissions as you wish because you compare poorly to the competition not only in being a start-up but in many smaller but telling details. For example your covers are highly overused (Lulu?) stock graphics, you seem to require hard copy submission of accepted manuscripts and the use of author photos for publicity (not all authors are comfortable with his in the erotic genres). Ebooks are an instant gratification purchase. I suggest that you improve upon: "please allow 7-10 days delivery time." You need to look like you are investing in the success of the books you publish by paying cover artists and web-designers and filling ebook orders quickly.

3) You say "we" and "us" a lot but never say who you are and why you will be able to run a successful romance epublisher in this very crowded marketplace. If you know more about this biz than me (as a typical ebook writer) I might assume your approach is the correct one and I am being overly critical. Anonymity, however, is a red flag especially as it can disguise self-publishing by writers not able to be accepted elsewhere (c.f. a start up by a successful author). If this is a publisher run by Patricia Fuller and Erin Gordon, and printing is done via Lulu, it really is best to say so right on the publisher website--charging a higher cover price for your books through Shadowrose than you are through Lulu is only compounding the problem (currently $11.95 vs $14.50).

4) Get someone else to proofread your websites. e.g. "All submission should be sent electronically" and "The titles published are intended for mature audiances". If you must plug a self-published book on "Editor [sic] Pet Peeves and How to Avoid Them" to potential authors try and make sure that the links (both of them) are pointed to the correct place (currently one goes to your current releases where this work is not listed and the other goes to the surfer's own Lulu shopping cart). Cover links from the front page should go directly to that book, not just to the top of a page containing many books in a long column.

p.s. re: "We are looking for readers and reviewers. This is a non-paying position, but you will be the first to read and review new and upcoming titles." You want unpaid slush readers? Or am I off-base here and you are just looking for reviews to post online?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I note with interest the growth of voluntary 'Adults only' labelling scemes like RTA. My question is: is EREC an adults-only site? It is my goal that the material on the website not be explicit in nature but as the products discussed are explicit to some degree, there really is no good reason to encourage (or even fail to discourage) minors from reading, right?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The ‘What If…’ Game

A lot of great ideas come from playing ‘what if’ with yourself. Many a book was started this way. I thought, since I’m steadily running out of things to blog about, that we could start playing a game on Mondays. I’ll throw out a ‘what if’ question and you guys can chime in with your answers. You never know where you might get the inspiration for your next project.

This weeks question:

What if the man/woman you loved was a dud in the sack?

Now, if these were my characters, I would have one partner leave in a huff. Then the other could swoop in years (or maybe months) later and sweep their loved one off their feet with all the fancy new skills they'd learned in an effort to win their partner back.

How about you?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pet Meme: Brianna the Bottomfeeder

Hi, Bri here. My owner Laura Bacchi is getting ready to adopt a dog, but until then I'm stuck with reviewing her work. I know the "Other" category is probably kaput, but what kind of prize would you give a fish anyway? So I told her I'd do it for kicks. See what a loyal pet I am? And how does she reward me...?

She puts this half-naked man right up against the tank. Scared the crap out of me. Yeah, yeah, I know. You're thinking that's a good thing because I'm a bottomfeeder and all. For the record, I'm a Corydoras Panda and I don't eat poop. Anyway, when my gills finally stop their frantic panting, I take a look. It's called Afterburn: A Collection of Erotic Romance. And it's futuristic smut. Just great. I'm stuck in a tank all day and she wants me to read about horny couples going where "no one has gone before." Strike one, Laura, because fish don't dream about the stars. They think about spawning under the seaweed in an actual ocean or hanging out in some romantic corral reef hideaway. Why couldn't you write some hot mermaid-shifter tale instead?

It's all downhill from there. Let's go over the blurbs.

The Heart of a Hunter: A man sent across the universe to find his brother's bride wants to keep her for himself. Well, it must be nice to have a choice of who you mate with. Me? A horny male panda fish gets tossed in the tank and we're a couple. No choice there.

Chella's Quest: A chemist will do anything to find the stolen formula of a powerful new narcotic--even sleep with the prime suspect. Okay, this one's not so bad. I only took one break while reading it to clean up some algae on the side walls.

And The Relic of the Heart? What's with all this global warming, environmental catastrophe stuff? Yikes! I was expecting a sexy romance, not a horror story. Maybe I'm better off in the tank after all...

Then we have the last story, The Andumi Effect. What kind of a title is this? I've known tropical fish with easier names to pronounce than that! So here I was expecting another man-woman thing and--whoa!--we've got a little guy-on-guy action. As if I don't see enough of that as it is with Mickey and Brandon. Those two guppies are always swimming around, chasing each other... You get the picture. I called 'em over. They tell me they can't read, so I have to suffer through yet another space romp with a lot of sex, and though it pains me to share this, they liked it.

The next thing I know they're swimming at full speed to hide in that stupid treasure chest you sunk in here last month. If they think I couldn't see what they were up to, then they're stupider than I thought. They were rockin' it so hard, we had waves.

So thanks for nothing, Laura. Hurry up and get the damn dog already, or since you're all into this "luv" stuff, how about a male bottomfeeder?


A few of the larger epublishers have increased their cover prices recently. My first reaction was similar to many reader-bloggers out there. $8 or more for an ebook? I could get a paperback for that and still have change left over! That's too much. After all, a book is a book and you shouldn't pay more to have it only in digital format.

And then to be fair I was aware that most epublishers are small presses and so do not have the economy of scale of large offset printing publishers. Also, it is reasonable to charge whatever the customer is willing to pay--and ebook sales are going inexorably upwards. Besides, even if sales dropped a little, the profit per unit would probably more than make up the difference. Publishers are there to make money, after all.

Ebooks, it seems, can be $8 even if that doesn't seem completely rational. The closest equivalent would be a $4 cup of coffee. When Starbucks first came to New Zealand I was astonished. The coffee was so-so, very expensive and outlets were opened within sight of each other. Now I buy coffee there on average once a day. I don't intend to, I don't think it is worth the money, and yet there I am again, cash in hand.

I saw a new article recently that teased out some of the reasons why we pay more than we intend to for Starbucks coffee. Some of the highlights were: easy availability with ubiquitous outlets with long hours, a product that is a personal treat or indulgence (with a little caffeine hook), novelty items coming out all the time but reliable quality underneath, a look and language to make people feel like they are in a special club... does that sound familiar?

Ebooks are as available as the internet, a special treat (with a little erotica hook), there are new releases weekly at every publisher with some new kink or paranormal twist but a predicable genre form, there is a surrounding jargon and forums, blogs and loops to mix with other readers and writers.

Erotic romance ebooks are 'just books' like Starbucks is 'just coffee'. Rationally no better and arguably often objectively worse (and certainly more expensive page for page) than paperbacks. But as much as readers might grumble, a sexy ebook is exactly the kind of product they will be willing to pay a little more for--so long as we make it worth their while by delivering a reliable fix of a little of what they fancy that is never more than a few clicks away.

Return of the Pet Meme

Last call for the Pet Meme. The contest will close at the end of this month. There is a lovely prize package for the top dog, and cat. All you have to do is send me a review or promo post written from the point of view of your pet. In June I will take votes and declare winners :)

Cat: Ripley, Princess, Molly
Dogs: Scotty, Sydney, Frinkle King.
Or see them all here.

With apologies to Don Marquis, here is one from my significant puppy:

what is interesting
is sheep
books are not interesting
even to chew
especially ebooks

i am told
in king of dragons
there is a dog
but it is really
a devil
or a dragon
or something

and a stinky body
in a ditch
which I would find interesting
but not as interesting as sheep

or a rabbit

Saturday, May 19, 2007

No more Snark!

[NEWS] Agent blog 'Miss Snark' is closing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mrs. Giggles' Drinking Game

Mrs Giggles' Blog Drama Drinking Game, which I found via Monica Jackson's blog.

...and I quote:

"Jayne and Jane from Dear Author join the fray - 11 sips.
Karen Scott joins the fray - 11 sips.
Dionne Galace (Bam) joins the fray - 11 sips.
Emily Veinglory joins the fray - 11 sips.
Jayne, Jane, Karen, Bam, and Emily Veinglory in the house - 50 sips.
Those ladies and Nora Roberts in the house - drink until everything turns dark."

My ego was somewhat deflated by Monica Jackson's:

"I don’t really know who Emily Veinglory is or where is her blog"

...but I'll survive ;)

p.s. if you want to blog about this I suggest adding to Shiloh Walker's chain, chain, chain of bloggers: "And if you need a laugh… go here… found courtesy of Karen, who found it via Monica…who found at Mrs. Giggles…"

The Last Taboo

It struck a chord with me when I read a comment in this thread saying that talking about money and earnings is the last taboo.

After inspecting my contracts and posting at the Absolute Write forums I can see no legal or ethical barrier to posting my own earnings publicly, across all publishers and rounded somewhat. And unless anyone can tell me why this is a really, really, bad idea this is what I plan to do.


Because there are two important things to know about erotic romance e-publishing. 1) Choosing the right publisher is very important, and 2) very few of us make very much money.

I am, as far as I can tell, fairly representative of a mid-level ebook writer with a day job. Ergo what I earn might be interesting or instructive to newer writers deciding where to submit. So disclosing my income is specifically meant to demonstrate that this income is comparatively small. Fortunately I don't keep my ego in my wallet so I have no personal embarrassment about this issue. It will also be a useful basis for discussing factors such as the impact of new releases, series, genre, promotion etc on monthly income.

So this is where you tell me why this really is a very bad idea....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's a small genre, after all.

Although I attempt to comment on the erotic romance e-publishing industry I would be the first to admit I am not an insider. I did a lot of my writing in New Zealand and the rest in small middle American towns, I have been to a total of one convention. Ergo there are a few things I am only vaguely aware of and I would greatly appreciate further input.

For example, it is clear to me that many erotic romance epublishers are started by staff or authors who gain experience working with or for other publishers. Those that I know of include:

Silks Vault -[authors]-> Mardi Gras
Ellora's Cave -[staff]-> Samhain
eXtacy -[author]-> Mojocastle

I wonder if the peeps out there could add to this with descendants and a rough time scale to help draw a fully evolutionary tree of the industry today?

Smoke Signals

Triskelion have apparently been 'disinvited' from their slots at the RWA Con. It remains to be seen whether a viable epublisher will emerge from the ashes of their print enterprise conflagration. [Edited to add: more about Trisk at SB/TB]
I would be interested in hearing from Mardi Gras authors re: communications, payment and general treatment. There is an abundance of smoke but little that is in the public arena (e.g. see listing at Piers Anthony). [Edited to add, confidentially at if you prefer].

Monday, May 14, 2007

Publisher's Contests, an Opinion

I must admit that I am intensely skeptical about publishers having manuscript 'contests' where the prize is being published. It seems to me that if the prize is being published what you are doing is called 'submitting'. And in fact if pseudo-contests do attract piles of submissions then entering such a contest is just a way to guarantee more competition than usual.

Now if there is an extra prize of some sort, cash money for example, then that is a contest. But why is this necessary if the publisher pays out in the traditional way, through good sales and fair royalties? It just seems to me that the flashier the bow, the more likely it is that the present underneath will be a disappointment.

And when prizes get peculiar it just puts me off further. For example "Crescent Moon Press' [?] First to be Published Contest!" offers "a $100 American Express card." A what? Why does that sound like the $100 you get when you don't get a $100 because, for example, you aren't American, already have an American Express card or prefer not to collect opportunities to get into debt. Prizes are cool stuff, or cash money. Anything else just makes a complicated situation even more unnecessarily complicated.

Which is not to say publishers shouldn't look for material, open calls, themes, anthologies, shared worlds are all great and wonderful things to spark a writers imagination and get everyone on the same page. When publishers say they just want work that is original and well written this may be true but does not set them apart from the other 50+ epublishers in the genre. So having a niche, themes, lines etc actually helps the author know when they have found the best match for their work without necessarily excluding anyone else from giving it a go.

But, to me, it works like this 1) Publishers wants manuscripts 2) publisher asks for manuscripts, 3) Author sends manuscript to the publisher of their choice. It is a matter if filling a need as best we can and the language of contests and prizes seem more apt for promotions and marketing to readers--not attracting new authors.

Sexual Conundrum

I have a bit of a problem on my hands. One of my sex scenes has run away from me and is steadily approaching 6k. I'm considering cutting it down some, but I'm not sure if I should.

How much of a good thing is too much, do you think?

New Epub: Dark Eden Press

Epublishers are multiplying like bunnies these days. Here's another newbie that plans to open on June 15th.

Dark Eden Press

Taken from the front page of their website:

Dark Eden Press is a brand new company committed to publishing great novels and making our authors as happy as possible because without our authors we won’t be successful.

Our great staff is comprised of people who are also writers that will go out of their way to make sure your book is as good as it can possibly be before it goes out to the readers.

We are accepting submissions in all genres. Below you will find a list of the heat levels and what is not acceptable. We are accepting well-written stories with solid plots, well-developed settings, and characters that are fully developed. Your submitted story should fit into a specific genre and heat level; however, some crossover of genres is allowable.

We expect all submissions to be as free of mechanical errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling as possible. We do have editors on staff, but we will not rewrite your story for you.

We do accept previously published works, but we can only accept your out of print works if you hold the exclusive rights. Should we accept your manuscript for publication, we will ask you to provide proof of rights.
Please send your query and first three chapters of your manuscript to

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Print is Hard

Recent events have me thinking about epublishers that put out print copies. Writers want print copies, on the whole. Of course we do. Print books are real books, you can show them to your grandmother, take them to signings and so forth. Most of us would probably even sacrifice a degree of monetary income to have a print version of our books.

But print is hard. Print books are returnable pretty much in perpetuity. Returned books are not even a break even proposition, they are a financial loss for the publisher that trickles in years after they have already paid royalties. Print books are hell to get into stores and even more of a pain in the ass when they come back from them unsold. The profit margin on a trade paperbacks is slim. The cost benefit ratio not so great.

I see writers opting for publishers who guarantee a print editions and I understand that, I've done it myself. But emotional decisions, decisions to do with having something to hold in your hands and show off, are not sound business decisions. And small publishers who invest heavily in taking multiple books to print every week are taking a much bigger gamble than those that stick to e-books. A gamble that it seems, even for some of the front runners, does not always pay off.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

My Website To-Do List

Dear Author provides an excellent summary of what readers want from an author's website. Sadly my own site fails to delivery on almost every point. Time for another update....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trouble at Trisk...

There is a little smoke hovering over the Triskelion camp which is going through a transition. For more info see the lengthy post at Piers Anthony and this thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Rumours suggest books that were going to print within weeks have been pulled or delayed and the print option may be withdrawn altogether.

[Edited to Add] ... and this thread at Romance Divas.

[Edited to add] On a side note it seems to me a danger of encouraging authors to pay for their own advertising is that changes in scheduling and release formats leads to authors bearing a financial cost rather than just being slightly inconvenienced?

Front Runners

My primary goal right at the beginning when EREC was formed to help writers make good publisher choices in the area of erotic romance e-presses. I often skirt a difficult line in terms of sharing honest information fairly, and gossiping about my colleagues inappropriately. I can only hope that for the most part I have judged the difference correctly. Certainly I have received not so much as a single negative comment about EREC from any publisher so far--whether this is due to my dubious tact or my undeniable insignificant I cannot tell. There is still an implicit rule of silence out there about sales and income and so reliable information remains difficult to find.

I am gradually sneaking the sales figure data up on the website. It is clear that sales are creeping up across the board so it is likely that all figures posted are under-estimates of how a new release would do coming out today or in the near future. Please do keep sending me new data and updates: for each book send as much as you have out of the following 1) Publisher 2) sales to the first payment (approximately one month) 3) sales in the first year, 4) sales to date, 5) sales to end of contract (to: veinglory AT

The early figures give this top five in terms of initial first month sales only 1) Ellora's Cave, 2) Loose Id, 3) Samhain, 4) Liquid Silver Books, 5) Torquere Press*. Please bear in mind that these data are not representative and give a rough estimate only. Other sales-based information suggests similar front runners. For example, the RWA recognise: Ellora's Cave, Triskelion, Loose Id and Samhain while Brenda Hiatt's 'Show Me the Money' shows 1) Ellora's Cave, 2) Renaissance Ebooks, 3) Changeling, 4) New Concepts Press and 5) Triskelion as the higher earning e-publishers.

We are all working with highly incomplete and partially out-of-date data but I would suggest that writers seeking higher sales should place some emphasis on these publishers and be aware of how sales data is collected and handled on each of these sites. Be aware also that some publishers that are not powerhouses now are clearly moving up through the pack, and publishers vary in their ability to sell niche material and their willingness to put up with certain authorial quirks and foibles.

Interestingly if you go by online 'buzz' newer publishers with a fresh stable of authors are often more frequently and vehemently recommended to novice writers. I can only hope that, after spending months or years writing a book, new authors will invest a few days in researching publishers and developing some idea of what to expect upon the book's eventual release.

I have dithered for some time over whether to develop a firmer system for recommending epublishers but in the end I can see no acceptable empirical way to do so. Instead I will continue to collect together what information I can find or solicit. Any recommendations I blog remain entirely my own personal opinion based on that information and my own flawed judgement. If you want to know just how flawed I should post my own meagre monthly earnings... in fact, that's a great idea, I think I will. I also embody a conflict of interest in being published by presses including Loose Id, Samhain, Torquere, Lady Aibell and Cobblestone Press--and having submitted unsuccessfully to one other (Changeling Press, as it happens, whom I continue to hold in high regard, and not just based on the Groucho Marx principle**)

The better selling epublishers do seem to be those mentioned above (do you agree?), but I lack data on other likely front runners including Amber Quill and Changeling Press. I also have favorites from amongst the smaller and newer presses with good market plans and skilled management (including Mojocastle and Drollerie). And any author will have to take into account many factors other than gross sales. In the end one thing I agree with RWA on (and this would not be a long list) is that authors have to do their own research, make their own decisions, and wear the consequences.

* Torquere gets an unintentional empirical advantage in providing figures quarterly so their data is actually for anything up to the first three months.
** "I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Publisher Forums: For or Against?

Warning, rampant opinions ahead:

Forums are fun, hell I spend a lot of time on them; nobody could say that I don't like forums. But they are an online tool with a specific function and they have more than their fair share of problems. Forums tend to get bugs, are vulnerable to attack and breaches of security and have quirks of use that make them irritating even to those who embrace the technology.

Phaze forums have been up and down and are changing to a different provider, Chippewa/Lady Aibell's forums have fallen and can't get up prompting a welcome return to direct email communication, meanwhile Cobblestone are referring writers more and more to their forums. Do you find forums make things easier and improve communication?

My take on it is this. Forums are a complimentary technology. They allow peer-to-peer communication and audience participation. When people go to the publisher's website the forum says 'come in, sit down, stay a while--we value you.' But when it comes the business end of things, to edits, royalty statements and all important communications between a publisher and an author, my request would be: please use email. I think it is a courtesy of communication to send private information directly to the person who needs it rather than making them come to you. The economics of e-book writing mean most of use write for more than one house and we do not all want to hang out in the clubhouse.

It may be marginally easier for a press to put material on a forum for everyone to come and get, but is if significantly easier for the author to be sent this information directly--and the effort is very much appreciated as an sign from the publisher that they see each writer as business person with whom they have an specific reciprocal relationship. Of course then you have issues with bouncing emails and authors must make the effort to keep their email address information current and their spam filters properly adjusted, that is the other side of the coin.

In the end, if my books are a sale-able commodity where would the publisher rather see me: at their yahoogroups, forums and chats, or at my desk writing the next book? Or do I have the horse and cart in an incorrect configuration here? (It wouldn't be the first time).

Cover Quizz

Jana at Romancing the Blog is one of many bloggers who have been discussing covers recently. I thought we might try a small and very unscientific experiment. I have gleaned the first standard new release cover shown on the websites of 5 top erotic romance epublishers, cropped to obscure publisher name and use here only as a basis for discussion and commentary. Let's see whose is most appealing to our non-random sample of completely biassed observers. Just reply ranking them from 1 to 5 (1 being the best). And can you guess the publisher? (no peeking). To my eyes most look rather similar in both content and style?






[Edited to Add] More about the fall of clinch, the rise of man-titty and those wtf cartoon covers at dear author.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Some News, but Mostly Trivia, Commentary and Stuff Gleaned From other Blogs.

[RWA] Suggested changes to the RITA and Golden Heart contests--courtesy of SB/TB.

[Time Warner plan] American readers might want to look into the "Time Warner plan" to make small magazine publishers pay more for postage than media behemoths. Protest site here, as mentioned by Naughty Words.

[Weird Weres] Mrs Giggles has brought this up in the past, now it is SB/TB. Time for someone to start an anthology for the oddest were-critters writers can dream up?

[Blogsquall] Some post-blogsquall discussion at Dynamic Trio.

[For Fun] --Not that it is funny, really. Ernest and Bertram, a tragic gay love story with muppets...

[One Thing I agree with Karen About] I’m not the only person who doesn’t understand what the Lotus Circle is about.

[Commenting on Reviews] Should you? Saskia Walker does, suggesting that reviewers shouldn't speculate about author intentions. In my own opinion (that being a thing of highly dubious value) responses beyond 'thank you' are still not a great idea.

[How to Make Money From E-books] Interesting stuff from Lena Matthews. As it happens I disagree. Do you need a website? It probably won't hurt but I don't think you do nor that "excerpts are a must", let alone that you should pay someone to run a site for you. IMHO you write, you choose the best possible publisher and all the rest is icing. But that's just me--I'm opinionated but I am also often totally and utterly incorrect.

[All That Vampire Chick Lit] I'm not the only one to notice.

Things That Make You Go Hmm....

After reading yet another book with a fisting scene, I can't help but wonder why the only thing I ever read with this type of kink in it is gay romance. Why aren't there any M/F fisting scenes?

So, how come no one's doing about it. lol. Is there no female demographic that would enjoy reading about something like that (which I doubt) or some unknown taboo in romance community that I'm not aware of (possible, I suppose).

What do you think?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Blast from the Past

One of my quirks is that I cannot resist an old book on human sexuality. In this one a very progressive Edwardian writer explains that woman actually do have sexual needs. And terrible things happen if they are not satisfied!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


[NEWS] Night Owl Romance is seeking book reviewers for M/M fiction.

So I think we need a word for disputes that fluff up on the internet, how about "blogsquall"? "Blog Opera?" Or is there one already that I don't know about?

Romantic Times CEO Kathryn Falk's comments have been discussed to death. Time, I think, to stop flogging that one. Pithiest comment I saw: "What the Falk?" by Lisabette at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

RT staff defended the volunteers who removed the manlove group's promo at their convention--stating amongst other things that 1) Laura (the groups leader and rep) somehow got all the facts wrong, 2) she shouldn't bother going to the con anyway and that 3)their "print" readers don't like MM. I don;t know what happened exactly at RTCon, but I do think these comment and the defensive mention of having "gay friends" says it all.

I consider RT a great magazine on the whole but this is the last straw for me. There is also at least one erotic romance epublisher how has withdrawn a large advertisement and suspended all advertising with RT. The RT staff truly seem to have parted company with good sense in the way their staff and representatives are conducting themselves out and about in the blogverse (which they apparently hold in some contempt along with all things digital).

As with RWA I am often told to join into groups with limited tolerance of non-heterosexual romance and RT seemed to be moving oh-so-slowly in a more inclusive direction. But with RT they are accepting ads but not delivering promised reviews, accepting con fees and moving promo, and telling us that "their" readers are not people like me (readers of all genres of romance including MM)--I have to conclude that my time sitting in the back of the bus is over, even if I have more cushions than before and a lovely cup-holder.

Maybe it is cutting off my nose to spite my face but I am not putting any more money into the pockets of a magazine that conducts itself in this way. I am open to suggestions re: alternative reading matter....

[Edited to add] Thoughful stuff about RT over at dearauthor

Debates continue to flare up about whether Ellora's Cave are in a bit of a downward slide. I have been highly sceptical about this but readers' complaints persist and sales at their main competitors seem to have gained significantly in the last few months.

[Edited to Add] SB/TB don't seem to be in a hurry to endorse advertising with RT either?

[Edited to Add] More Ellora's Cave drama from Karen.

What People are Searching for When They Surf Here

I know it's nosy, sorry, but Google Analytics tells me the search engine keywords people use to get the this site. My top ten favorites, or maybe not favorite... just well, you'll see:

adjectives to use when writing erotica
[I'll take suggestions from the studio audience]

wiggly graph
[The best kind]

dark exotic sexy vampire names
[So not Eugene, then? Rupert? Egbert?]

lesbians "do they use vibrators"
[...and can I watch?]

bleck pussy
[Would that be Linda Bleck, illustrator of 'A Natural History of Sex : The Ecology and Evolution of Mating Behavior'? No?]

shirtless firefighter
[The best kind]

sexy shirtless firefighter
[I stand corrected]

erotica cucumber
[GBLTV? Vegesexuals don't get no respect]

asexuals threaten adult
[Give me your wallet or I will not have sex... right... here!]

food for killer crab alien
[guacamole, take my word for it. Everyone keeps feeding them unconscious blonde bimbettes but really!]

Got any of your own to share? Think I should stop spying?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Web Bitchery...

It may be faintly ironic that this issue has been most recently mentioned by the site called Book Bitches, but they have a point. The internet allows authors and readers unparalleled access to each other. But it seems that its immediacy is something of a double-edged sword. I have been pulled into more than a few online hissy-fit-cat-fights myself and it is never, never a good idea.

The four rules I try to follow these days are simple: do a little research on a situation before wading in, give an opinion as an opinion, give the benefit of the doubt, and never use personal insults. To anyone I encountered before I hit upon this approach I apologise without reservations, and if you ever catch me in a lapse call me on it. If you want to join me in this pledge of digital civility, please do. I do believe hypocrisy is just part of the human condition but I try to keep it to a minimum :)


New press: Red Rose Publishing

[Edited to add] By totally coincidence as this post was sitting in the drafts folder an example of the internet-turmoil emerges (not that it would ever take long for an example to emerge these days).

Best summarised by Dear Author: Kathryn Falk from Romantic Times posts a lengthy comment against blogger Karen Scott over a book review for an Ellora's Cave book suggesting negative reviews are somehow... well, pretty much equivalent to stomping kittens (read it yourself if you dare). Other senior RT staff seem to support the outburst. Meanwhile (um, conflict-of-interest-wise) the same Kathryn Falk has written a book due out by the Lotus Circle an imprint owned by the same people who own Ellora's Cave.

p.s. my hypocrisy may already be showing, dammit....

[Edited to Add] Or maybe it kinda wasn't but was actually Falk who did or didn't say.... something. Or not.

[NEWS] No More Plogs... and More Roar

Amazon has decided to pull the plug on author plogs. They will be replaced with a more traditional blog function called Amazon Daily.

The AlphaFem group 'Hear Me Roar' now has a blog. New members welcome.

[Edited to add] The RT convention are to be applauded for being inclusive of M/M (gay male) romance at least to some extent. But not for allowing Hyatt staff to remove M/M materials from the attendee-only promo areas whilst leaving equally explicit heterosexual material. Two thumbs down for the Hyatt Regency Houston.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

[MARKET] Harlequin Spice Briefs

Word Length: 5,000–15,000 words
Format: eBooks
Editor: Susan Pezzack Swinwood
Editorial Office: Toronto

Spice Books is looking to acquire bold, sexually explicit editorial that pushes the envelope for its new eBook erotica program, Spice Briefs. These are highly erotic short stories; although brief, these novellas should still establish context for the erotic content through an interesting and engaging premise (a great hook), a well-constructed plot and believable characters. Quality editorial is paramount.

Spice Briefs
E-mail address:

[PROMO-ish] Dealing Straight by Emily Veinglory--and writers' habits...

As a member of Romance Divas where being 'giggled' has become an widely understood term, and a long time fan of romance reader/blogger Mrs Giggles I finally bit the proverbial bullet and sent her one of my novellas. After all, I have always said that an honest review is better than a glowing review--because readers gravitate to the former and get very cynical about the latter.

So the review for my MM coyboy novella Dealing Straight is up today. Due to some issues with the Mrs. Giggles website it is at an alternative url. And I scored a respectable 82!

"Dealing Straight delivers what those old cowboy movies featuring oh-so rugged men in tight jeans vowing brotherhood forever and how no women can tear them apart only hint at: hot consummation of the love that cannot be spoken aloud."

And that pretty much does sum it up.

She goes on to pick up some issues that have been on my mind recently. Anyone who reads my work will detect that my heroes are, um, wimps. Really, the whine, they bitch, they make sarcastic remarks and they take ages to actually do anything about their problems. My hero's love interests on the other hand are, um, perfect. Handsome strong and riding to the rescue. Looking at my two works-in-progress I think.... hmmm, more of the same.

So sue me, that's my thing. But it is getting a bit old. I am curious if y'all find yourself falling into a certain dynamic between your main characters and what you do about it. I am thinking that it might be time to write alternating points of view. That would help flesh out the love interest character rather than have him be the 'idealised' sort all the time. I am probably going to start by writing a sequel to my werewolf novella 'Eclipse of the Heart' written entirely from the former 'love interest's point of view. I have plotted a story idea for one of my rare alpha male types who has been a secondary character in two previous novellas.

So, in short, I have no idea if a Mrs Giggles review will send readers running off to buy my book but it gave me some food for thought and is certainly something I would do again.