Thursday, January 31, 2008

Failure is Always an Option--veinglory

Not exactly as positive affirmation is it? But there is a time and place for listening to your inner critic or even a Little Miss Downer like me. I hear authors often say that even if a paid advertisement does not make any sales, it is building their brand or getting their name out there.

There is a third option: the advertisement might just suck. You might be getting ripped off. It might not work at all. Maybe nobody at all looked at it, or those few who looked at it utterly and irreversably forgot all about it within two seconds.

Downer #1
Advertisements do not work simply because they exist and someone is willing to pay for them. In fact, small press authors are a big enough market that plenty of people are lining up to sell us things. And selling advertising that doesn't work is so much more cost effective if you can get away with it.

If you do not require your ad to make you sales: why? In any case, you should still require it to do something, even if it is only $5 worth of something. And I mean something specific and measureable. Otherwise, how can you tell it is doing anything at all? Let's say market value for hits to a website is 5c each. That means you should get 100 extra hits that month. If you want more name recognition, you should be able to ask at an appropriate forum how many people know your name, run 5 ads, come back 6 months later and find more of those people know your name, or track google keywords used by people hitting your site (use of your pen name or title) or scan mentions of either on blogs and forums.

Downer #1
A few of us, even a lot of us, think the publisher should pay publishing costs. You know, printer set up fees and so on. So why do we not expect them to pay for advertising? Authors have always promoted by making available their person, their charm, their book-signing hand--but not so much their money. Mainstream authors are not paying their bus fare or for magazine ads.

You might argue that the ads are for the author not the book, like paying for your website. But I don't see author putting their smiling face on their ads, I see cover art--I see books. I see authors willingly paying a publishing cost. Why are we paying for ads? Because we should, or just because with high output epublishers, no one else is going to? Is it because publishers are asking to overt evidence of self-promotion and the first thing that comes to mind is paid advertising?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dragon Spell publishing [opening May 5th] is now going to go by the name Lyrical Press. Note: that is a new url to go with the new name. Of course I haven't even listed them yet. Time for an update of the list to add the hatchlings and take out the dead...

For a more cynical take on things try Karen Scott's blog, also at a new url.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It seems to me that e-publishers close in one of two ways, snark or boojum. Snark is the online equivalent of a grenade that goes off distributing blame, acrimony and badly spelled rants in all directions. And boojum? Well, I think Lewis Carroll put it best:

" 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'

So: Boojum [n] an epublisher that softly and suddenly vanishes away. e.g. Ocean's Mist. (or was that one a stealth snark that just stayed off fully public forums?)

The latest vanishing acts seem to be Tree Press? Any ideas what happened there?

Monday, January 28, 2008

With friends like these...--veinglory

Boy, I read this over and it sounds kinda negative. I hope you get that it is really a warm and fuzzy thought. No, really.

I was thinking the other day, about the role the online romance community has in my life--perhaps too large a role, oh well. I move a lot and have had most of my online friends and acquaintances far longer than anyone I know in meatspace.

What I have come up with is this. The romance forums and blogs are like an extended family that you can unplug. I don't mean a Disney family with little Bobby, Gramma, Momma making cookies and Unky Fred building Bobby a tree house. I mean a real family with some nice people, some okay people and a few people like the bickering teens, the frikkin annoying sexist cousin who is always stoned and staring down your cleavage, uptight Aunt Priss who thinks Harry Potter is the work of the devil and the uncle-in-law who stole your scooter to pawn for bail money. (In case any of my family are somehow here, those are obviously made up examples based loosely in 'The People's Court', okay?)

The difference between a real family and an online one is that the latter is optional, totally self-inflicted not only in general but moment-to-moment. You can invest, emotionally, exactly as much as you want to, and selectively. You can focus on the good, the support, the beta-reading, funny comments and charity anthologies. And if the bitching gets too much you can click a button and go straight to instead.

Digital families are, in many ways, much easier to love because they are much easier to ignore when you just happen to be in a crappy mood--and they don't have a key to your house. If anything the Internet is much easier to regulate, chill down and keep on the sunny side that the intrusively corporeal real world. That is probably why I enjoy forums and blogs so much. That is probably why I don't get too worried about snark or bad reviews. Because I can pick and choose. If I start feeling a bit bummed by a site, I just stay away for a week and by the time I come back all the posts on the front page are new.

So I guess the long and the short of it is, I really like hanging with my online peeps. And when I don't, its on me--I can leave any time. Clearly I don't want to. Did that make any sense? :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

As Jennifer asked, here is my thought about the Dear Author post--also posted there as a reply.

I don't think I understand the point being made. There are epublishers for all genres. Some with no erotic stuff at all. Look at Double Dragon et al for example of excellent non-erotic, in this case spec fic, fiction online. Their quality is not the problem, there just isn't the same demand--for many reasons including the competition and the advantages for women buying porn anonymously online rather than from a pimply youth at Borders.

Ebooks sell better in certain areas, mainly sex and self-help. Customers have decided that, not publishers and not author quality. Books are a 'pull economy'. The meet the demand far more than they create it. Any author has learned, you can't make people want a book.

So, "is the E (erotic?) hurting e-publishing"? Is sex a wound or an illness from which a format can 'suffer'? Erotica is a strong niche for ebook writers and publishers. If other genres want to do as well they need to figure out how to make it happen--and realise it isn't just about being good enough, it is about identifying and meeting customers needs and desires. If erotic romance is not what you want to read there are excellent ebooks in other genre out there to be supported and promoted. Feel free to name check your favorite non-erotic ebook writers and publishers here:

When is an epublisher not an epublisher--veinglory

Teresa Wayne started Mardi Gras which closed in a cloud of enmity and non-payment. Then she started LA Media which promptly went underground. The publisher has no website per se although Teresa is still using the domain as her own site. However LA Media still exists to the extent that it is the correct publisher of record for those few new books and listed as a publisher of these books at fictionwise.

Now some books previously sold by Mardi Gras are now listed on Barnes and Noble with LA Media as the publisher (e.g. Premonitions). This has lead to a rumor that these books are being sold or will be re-released by LA Media, when neither Mardi Gras nor LA Media has the rights to them any more. For what it is worth I don't see it. The listings are all for 'out of stock' books and the books are not for sale. I am thinking that Teresa changed her profile's publisher name and this automatically changed the vestigial listings of these books. She needs to correct this immediately.

I certainly understand not giving Teresa much benefit of the doubt. But at the same time I think authors should understand that if a book has every been listed, that old listing tends to stay up on distributor and review sites indefinitely. This is for archival purposes and to allow vendors to list and sell used copies at places like Amazon. There is an old saying that you should never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity. I would add that you can't even blame human stupidity when an automatic computer process is the likely culprit.

Now I don't think even expired books that were once with Mardi Gras should be listed with LA Media as the publisher--that should be changed. But I don't think this is part of a great malicious plan to sell books that are no longer contracted to Teresa at either press. Of course if she really is up to something like that, boy will I look dumb. But I really doubt it so now I am going with the simplest explanation of simple carelessness.

UDATE FROM TERESA AT KAREN'S BLOG: "ALL Mardi Gras Publishing books have been listed as out of print with Bowkers. L.A. Media has aquired the remaining un-used numbers. Unfortunately, Bowkers does not allow to bust up a log. So all numbers were switched in ownership, although, NO books are being sold out of contract."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mind the Gap--veinglory

As the data stands Ellora's Cave is well clear of the pack. This is most obvious in the graph of numbers sold in the first month. However my EC data set is small and recent. If we take the publishers figure of 850-900 the gap may be a little smaller, but then maybe sales are a little lower in the holiday month of December when budgets are tight. 1100 may actually be more representative of the whole year.

In any case, even in this small data set, there is evidence of an upward trend with some of the other presses and several of them have recent titles selling in the 800+ range. I think the gap might close with a few of the 'rest of the pack' gravitating upwards to EC sales level over the course of the next year or so. If I had to guess I would predict Samhain (moving up rapidly) and Loose Id (an older press, improving steadily) would be in the following group ready to move up into the major leagues. But then I obviously favor these presses having published with both multiple times. I suspect others are also well-placed to increase their per-title sales? Thoughts?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spam and the Boulder Pledge -- Jules

The Boulder Pledge:

Under no circumstances will I ever purchase anything offered to me as the result of an unsolicited e-mail message. Nor will I forward chain letters, petitions, mass mailings, or virus warnings to large numbers of others. This is my contribution to the survival of the online community.

In my case, not only will I not buy books that have been spam-promoted, I will, if I've got time, run the spam through in the hope of causing grief to the spammer. I am not the only person who feels this way about being sent unsolicited commercial email by authors and publishers. "Unsolicited" means that I didn't ask for it. Yes, even if you thought I'd be interested. No, being an erotic romance author myself does not constitute an open invitation to erotic romance authors and publishers to send me advertising for their books, no matter how convinced you are that I'd love it.

Even if I was already planning to buy a book, I will not buy it if I receive spam from the publisher, author, or people working under their instructions. No, this is not a theoretical threat -- there are actually a couple of books I was going to buy, until the publisher added me to their promo mailing list without my permission. One an anthology with a couple of my friends in. Sorry, guys, not breaking the Pledge even for you.

Yes, I *am* a Grumpy Old Fart. Find another way to promote your book.

Pass Some Joy--Pepper

First, I want to apologize for slacking off last week. I can't even say I have a good excuse. I just got really lazy. It's been a weird week for me. I've been really down for most of this month, but this week was worse, somehow. Hearing about Heath Ledger was a huge blow. He was practically my age. Just 3 years older. He was my husband's age. I know people die of all ages every day, but I don't want to be reminded of my own mortality. Then we went and saw Diary of the Dead which is an amazing, brilliant movie....and it's scary and terrifying and gave me nightmares. I still feel unsettled. On top of that, the high temperature every day has been about 15 degrees, and it's always gray and snowing and cold. I can't even remember what the sun looks like. Then there's school stuff, and writing deadlines, and the conference I'm going to, and money goes on and on.

But I don't want to focus on all the doom and gloom that's been weighing me down. I'm trying to focus on positive things:
1. Life on Mars starring John Simm. The show is funny and smart, and John Simm is H-A-W-T. (Also it's my favorite Bowie song).
2. Finishing our current book and starting book 6 of our Master Chronicles, Dominion.
3. Futurama quotes.
4. Mason Wyler (he's so pretty. Guh. I love him.)

That's my shortlist. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling oppressed by the January gloom. What are some things that make you happy? Television? Movies? Books? Pictures? Songs? Pass some joy along...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lord, I apologise...--veinglory

...for this more than usually pointless post. But what is the point of a blog if not to share the occasionally pointless and even slightly snarky thought.

You know I am not overly fond of Poser dolls (shown right). I have always thought they didn't resemble any real living person.

But I would have to say author Deborah Smith comes surprisingly close?

I really don't mean anything by it. It was just what I thought when I saw this pic.... possibly just the middle-distance eye focus?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Once around the blogs before dinner--veinglory

I'm bad I know. When I saw Firedrake's Weyr had tarted up their website some I had to look for one thing. As I was, evil snarkling that I am, very amused to see that in their initial guidelines the misspelled the name of Anne McCaffrey (who coined the term 'weyr') as Anne McCafferty. They now misspell it Anne McCaffery. Third time lucky?

In the news I see a couple have been denied access to the great British bus service because the gal likes to be walked on a leash [pictured]. On a personal level seeing a 19 year old girl in a leash is on my list of oh-please-don't above muffin tops but below old ladies who let their dogs lick their open mouths. But I think the bus driver is being a leetle disingenuous in suggesting the leash is a safety issue because "other passengers could be put at risk if the bus braked sharply". But I kinda like where the goth guy says he "does everything" for his 'pet' girlfriend, because "You wouldn't expect your cat or dog to do the washing up or cleaning round the house."

I wonder if we are entering a new age of truth in epublisher names? Ocean's Mist has evaporated away without a trace, after all. And now we have an art trading site setting up as an epublisher, going by the astounding name of "Whiffy Skunk". Their professionalism may be showing in statements such as: "The copyright of any work entered in its original format remains the property of the author at all times but the copyright of the published and edited manuscript will remain the property of, with all relevant copyright restrictions attached." WTF?

Conversation with the genre -- plagiarism, allusion, and intertextuality -- Jules

My thoughts on plagiarism and allusion, and how to tell the difference, are now up on my LiveJournal. a) it's 1400 words, b) I want to keep any comments in one place, so I'm giving the first couple of paragraphs and a link rather than mirroring the whole thing here as I usually do. If you'd like to comment, my LiveJournal is set to allow anonymous commenting, so you don't need an LJ account to do so.

An extensive discussion about plagiarism has been going on in some of the romance blogs over the last few weeks. One thread in the discussion has been about the difference between allusion and plagiarism. Why is one acceptable and the other not, and what is the difference between them? After all, both involve the use of someone else's work, even to the extent of word-for-word copying.

For me, the difference between the two is very simple in theory, even if in practice it's not always possible for a reader to be certain what an author had in mind. If your intent as an author is that your audience should recognise the work you're quoting, or at the very least realise that it's intended as a reference to someone else's work, you're making an allusion. If you are hoping that they won't notice that it's not your own words, that's plagiarism. For this is the key part of what plagiarism is -- that you are taking the credit for work that was in fact done by someone else.

Continued at

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jazzy Music, huh?--veinglory

After the huge plagiarism scandal you might think Lanaia Lee would give up on the 'Of Atlantis' project. But hark...

Video posted January 21, 2008--book "available world wide in March".

Some interesting info from EC--veinglory

How many erotic romance books are released each year, I wonder. It would be nice to get together some rough figures. Ellora's Cave are happy to let us know that in 2007 they released 414 new titles and in December they sold 74,000 copies in total. I would guess that would be a rather small proportion of the total number of titles released, but a hefty chunk of the copies sold? They also volunteer that average first month sales are 850-900 copies.

Although our focus at EREC is on getting information from writers (writer-to-writer communication) I am more than happy to hear from publishers and list their own data. Does anyone know if there is equivalent data available from other presses? Specifically, for 2007, number of titles, copies sold and average first month's sales.

Make with the Goss--veinglory

Seriously people, make with the goss.

Ocean's Mist press really is dead, right? The website is down, their books are no longer listed at Fictionwise. They were not considerate enough to make with the online histrionics before collapsing into a messy and protracted bankruptcy (seriously, have they no respect for the needs of bloggers!) but it would be nice to know whether authors were paid and had their rights returned and everything tied up neatly.

And Venus, I know some of you must have the goss on that! I am still assuming the website is a Marie Celeste that reappeared somehow with no one at the helm. But I have learned not to under-estimate the stupidity-slash-audacity of owners of struggling epresses. Has anyone been back in touch with GoDaddy (who yanked the site in the first place)?

Finally, I need the sales figure goss. I need only 1-4 more book sales figures for the following presses before I post their figures: Amber Quill, Aspen Mountain Press, Changeling, Freya's Bower, Phaze, Whiskey Creek Press and Wild Rose. Just email first month's sales figures, and if you have it any higher totals (to date, first year). [veinglory at]

Sunday, January 20, 2008

60? Really?--veinglory

In RWA's mag Romance Writers Report (January) there is an interview with Rhonda Penders of Wild Rose Press. She reports, if accurately quoted, that they have "a full time staff of just over 60."

Full time--paid one assumes--staff of over 60.

Given their apparent sales figures and backlist I have some trouble with that idea.

I would note that you can see the whole mag here. As the mag is for members only I suspect this open access is a mistake. Take advantage while you can :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Venus is Back?--veinglory

Last seen April 2007, Venus Press seems to have reappeared? Is this for real of a cyber-whoopsie? I am thinking that later because you get an error if trying to select a book for purchase....

Friday, January 18, 2008

Red Sage "Contest" with commentary--veinglory

I like Red Sage, I do, but I can't help myself...

Red Sage has a reputation for finding the next big stars in romance writing. Our author roster reads like a bestseller list. We’re also known for being a tough market to crack, but now we’re giving writers an opportunity to see their names added to the list of Red Sage stars!

...vainglory much?

To celebrate the growth of the Secrets line of anthologies and the launch of Red Sage Presents, our e-books line, we’re holding a writing contest. This is a great opportunity for two lucky winners to grow along with us!

Here at Red Sage, we admit to a certain fondness for the alpha male. He’s powerful. He takes what he wants. And he makes that one special woman want what he takes.

Does that last line make any sense?

Whether he’s charming or ruthless, passionate or stoic, the alpha male makes a great romantic partner for today’s strong, modern woman. And we want to see erotic romance novellas that explore the complex relationship between the alpha male and the modern woman.

The strong modern women who wants to be "taken" that as. As opposed to us throwback archiac weak dominatrices.

There will be two prizes awarded for the best stories. First prize will be publication in the Secrets anthology! Second prize will be publication as an e-book!

Epublication is second best, huh? It may be just me but I would tend to see epublication as a strategic decision made by the author at the point of manuscript submission.

And being published is a prize? because as that is the only prize I am not quite sure how this contest differs from just submitting a manuscript--other than the abstract notion of being declared a winner....

Here are the basic rules:

1. All entries must be original, unpublished erotic romance novellas of 25,000 to 35,000 words in English featuring an alpha male hero.
2. To enter, send a completed manuscript as an rtf file to Submissions@ eredsage. com with “Alpha Male Contest” in the subject line.
Only rtf formats will be accepted. All other formats will be automatically disqualified and deleted unopened. Include your full name, contact information, and credentials (if any) in your cover e-mail.
3. Entries must be received by March 31, 2008, at midnight eastern time. You may enter as many times as you wish. By entering, you are certifying that your entry is your original unplagiarized work, that you own all rights in this work, that this work has never been published, and that you are willing and able to publish it with Red Sage. Any entry not meeting these requirements will be automatically
4. In the event that none of the contest entries are deemed publishable, no winners will be declared. All entries will be reviewed by Red Sage editorial staff. All decisions are final. Non-winning manuscripts will be deleted at the conclusion of the contest.
5. For further tips on what Red Sage looks for in a manuscript, check our submissions guidelines at
http://www.eredsage .com/Writers_ Guidelines- sp8.html and our blog at
http://redsagerevea led.blogspot. com/
6. There is no fee for entering. Winners will receive a standard Red Sage publishing contract offer with standard Red Sage advance, royalties, and other terms.
7. This contest is void where prohibited by law.

Theresa Stevens
Managing Editor
Red Sage Publishing

For the best erotic romance everybody loves Secrets, and now they also love!

Everybody? (...not including perhaps the gays and 'non-modern' women).


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Won't Somebody Think of the Ferrets?--veinglory

Awwww. Look at that-->

Tired of the bad news about plagiarism? Then how about visiting this lovely site about rare ferrets. While you are there, how about a small donation? Or adopting a ferret?. As specified on site "This is a sponsorship program. You will NOT receive a black-footed ferret". LOL.

These ferret guys Travis Livieri and Paul Tolme clearly want to use the Cassie Edwards fallout for the good of the black footed ferrets and that seems like a pretty good idea to me.

My book was a number 1 bestseller on Amazon! (and why it doesn't mean anything real) -- Jules

My book was a number 1 bestseller on Amazon earlier this week. Yes, really, it was. But before you rush to congratulate me, I'm not posting this to fish for compliments. This is a lesson in how an author could honestly tell you that they're an Amazon bestseller, on sales numbers that wouldn't pay enough royalties to buy a cup of tea on British Rail.

As it happens, this particular book has done reasonably but not outstandingly well by small press standards, and has sold nearly 1300 copies if you look at the combined ebook and print figures. But it's been out for some years, and is now well down the long tail when it comes to copies shifted each month. In fact, it hadn't sold any copies at all on Amazon UK for over a month before this particular sales bonanza. Want to guess how many copies it had to sell to push it to #1 on a bestseller list?


That's right, two copies sold put my book at #1 on an Amazon bestseller list. On two such lists, in fact, and #4 on another. And that's the key to how this works. Amazon doesn't just have one bestseller list. It has lots of them. It has the books bestseller list, but it also has a bestseller list for each of the many, many categories it puts books into. So the book was #1 on

Any Category > Books > Fiction > Gay > Lesbian > Erotica > Gay

and #1 on
Any Category > Books > Fiction > Gay & Lesbian > Fiction General > Gay

and #4 on
Any Category > Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature

Amazon's ranking is based in part on both how many copies the book has sold recently, and how fast it sold them. So if a book sells two copies within an hour, that can push it well up the rankings on the chart for a sub-category where even the top sellers don't sell that many copies a day. It may even get to #1. It won't stay there for very long, of course (mine stayed there for about ten hours, helped by a third copy selling a couple of hours later), unless it keeps on selling copies. But the author or publisher will be able to say that it was a #1 seller on Amazon.

The other thing feeding into this is that there are multiple Amazons, and some of them have very slow sales compared with the US one. The UK one sells books briskly enough, but nowhere near the volume of Amazon US, so it takes fewer sales to achieve chart-topping status on Amazon UK.

I didn't game this at all. What happened was that I was talking to friends on irc, and one of them said that it was time they read something of mine. I gave the url to the page on my website with the blurb and links to free sample chapters, and someone else said, "I like the look of that, I'm buying it." I checked the book's page on Amazon a little later, and in fact two of them had bought it. I know this because the book happens to be low on stock at the moment, so the page had the thing with "only X copies in stock, more on order". I have a morbid fascination with how Amazon rankings fluctuate with time, so I checked later to see when the sales fed through into the ranking (it usually takes about an hour), and was surprised to find that book's page now reporting that it was on three of the bestseller charts, as detailed above.

Now, this was pure accident -- I didn't encourage anyone to buy the book, and the only deliberate aspect of this was that I knew that someone had just bought a book, so I looked at the chart at the right time to catch a very short-term blip in ranking. Imagine how easy it is for someone to deliberately manipulate the system. In fact, people do. There are groups dedicated to helping to push each others' books to #1 on some Amazon chart for publicity purposes. A lot of the time it's possible for the dedicated to do this on even the "all books" chart. If they time it for a day when overall sales on Amazon are slow, and are well co-ordinated, it may not cost an awful lot in terms of money spent on books.

Remember this the next time you see someone pushing a vanity publishing scheme with the proud boast that they had a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Ask the questions, "Which Amazon chart, and how long was it there for?" Because the answers may reveal the sad truth that "Amazon bestseller" isn't always equivalent to "big sales". If someone can say that the book has consistently stayed in the top 25 books out of hundreds for weeks on end, that's a *lot* more indicative of true interest in the book than a brief dash to #1 from the bottom depths of the chart.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

RE-OPENING: Logical Lust--press release

Logical-Lust Publications is pleased to announce the reopening of our website and that we're once again considering submissions of romance, erotic romance, and erotica.

To celebrate this we are running a Manuscript Contest from which at least one author WILL be offered a contract with Logical-Lust Publications and an advance against royalties.

Logical-Lust Publications is a selective digital and print publisher of romance, erotic romance, and erotica. We concentrate on quality as opposed to multiple monthly releases of titles, and pay advances with competitive royalties to authors. We are proud to be associated with some award-winning writers, and are also proud to work with all our authors with the joint aim of successful sales.

Samhain+ Sony CONNECT--veinglory

As already mentioned by TeddyPig, Christina M. Brashear of Samhain has announced:

"Samhain Publishing ... just signed with Sony Connect Inc. to distribute and sell Samhain titles!!!

I'm very excited about this new venture and the expansion of the digital side of Samhain. I personally favor ebooks over print and I'm happy to have made a deal that increases our earning potential."

And what increases their earning, increases my earning, so I am all for it :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Phlegm and Plagiarism--veinglory

I am lying on my chaise having the girl version of the man flu. The Blob is in my sinuses and Son of Blob in my right ear canal. Anyhow, you all lost the bet and I'll be keeping this post short [whine, moan, languish]. The final score was 4.25, rounded down to 4. One good Blaze, one okay Blaze and two terrible Nocturnes. All I have to say about Nocturnes as that they may have the trappings and the suits of woo (#2)--but its a little like watching Ken and Barbie play dress up.

My thought for the day is: compare and contrast plagiarism scandal with epublishers and with the big girls.

Signet is all: 'we are looking into it, stop staring at us... yes, yes, we are thinking about maybe getting someone in PR to ask someone in legal to think about doing something about all this but it takes three years just for this promo Behemoth to come to a rolling stop'.

Epublishers are all :'plagiarised book, what plagiarised book?' I mean can you even tell me, off the top of your head, who published 'The Edge' by JJ Massa (whose other books remain on sale) or ‘A Hidden Passion’ by Lucia Logan. Did I miss the mea culpa?

So, the epublisher's approach: swift and decisive action -- or sweeping it under the rug?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nocturne vs. Blaze--veinglory

So I got curious about mainstream category sexy and paranormal. Being a scientist, I didn't get a book, I got a sample. 8 Silhouette Nocturnes and 20 Harlequin Blazes off ebay. Which should I start with?

I am opening a betting pool. Between noon on Sunday and the end of the day how many will I read? Round it to the nearest half book. Winners get a book of their choice--once I have finished it myself :)

To help with your estimate you might like to know.

* I live alone but have a dog.
* I read quite quickly but have a short attention span.
* I have plenty of pizza but no coffee.

And yes, that is a Hello Kitty toaster behind the coffee-maker.

Plagiarism is serious busines...--Pepper

I'm really happy that Cassie Edwards Plagiarism Story is getting play outside of the Blogosphere. I'm happy it's been picked up by the AP and spread over several newspapers and websites. And no, it's not glee. I'm not gleeful at the thought of an old lady getting humiliated or embarrassed over this. But I'm happy because she, and her publishers, are being held accountable by the public.

I've been working in education, one way or the other, for the past seven years. I've seen students plagiarize other sources in their essays. Sometimes it's genuinely out of ignorance--they really don't know why it's a problem, or the simple steps they could take to avoid plagiarism altogether. Sometimes it's out of pure laziness. They're overwhelmed. They don't want to write a paper. It's the end of the semester and finals week. Sometimes really good students just seem to snap and then you'll find them taking short-cuts--really stupid, lazy short-cuts.

I'm a softy. I hate smacking them down. Especially when I know a student is an otherwise good kid. But I'll do it every. single. time. And not just for their sake. I have to be vigilant as a teacher, and my colleagues have to be vigilant, and the students have to keep an eye on each other (in workshops and peer reviews). Their education depends on their honesty, in many ways, and I have to do my best to be careful about that fact.

I think it's the same principle in publishing. Signet took the "she did nothing wrong" stance. Who knows why? Maybe because they honestly don't know the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Maybe they honestly think it's more important to stand behind their author right now. Maybe they just don't see it as a big deal because it's not "academia." But it is a big deal. Because they're setting a scary precedent. In taking this stance of support for their author, they could be screwing over other authors. In terms of sales (if people boycott over this) and in other, more insidious ways. If everybody takes a lax view on plagiarism, then it'll be much easier for unscrupulous people to justify stealing from other authors, in big and little ways. People need to know that thieves will be caught--and punished--one way or the other.

But really, what it comes down to is quite simple. People don't like to be lied to. They especially don't like to be patronized.

ETA: And now I see Signet has changed its mind.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In other, other news.

Well bugger me, has Ocean's Mist closed after all?

Fictionwise buys

p.s. don't be too surprised if you can't get onto the Smart Bitches blog. The Cassie Edwards plagiarism story has hit the mainstream media and they are probably getting a little more traffic than their server is used to.

Cassie Edwards and the Three Stages of Post-Plagiarism Psychology--veinglory

From past experience the stages for the author and publisher tend to go:

1) I didn't do anything wrong
2) It was only a little bit wrong
3) It was totally wrong but somehow it wasn't really my fault

Meanwhile the online observer goes through their own stages

1) Outrage
2) Glee
3) Dismay

As Chrisphoer Scalan said last year of the similar but less extensive Kaavya Viswanathan affair:

"It's not glee I feel about the hot water she finds herself in, but dismay. As a teacher, I'm not interested in piling on this teenage writer, but rather in using her experience as a cautionary tale for other writers, editors, teachers and publishers."

Cassie Edwards and Penguins may still be paddling around between #1 and #2 but I think it is time we hastened from #2 to #3.

Because there are two important qualities to effective punishment. One is to actually change the behavior of the transgressor. And I think blogs like Dear Author and Smart Bitches have not only an important but a necessary role not only in detecting transgressions like plagiarism, but absolutely insisting they be taken seriously.

The other is quality is what separates punishment from abuse, and that is that the person wielding the stick is not enjoying themselves.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Senior Wiggly Graph--veinglory

Normally when I introduce you all to Senior Wiggly-Graph (showing average sales figures for erotic romance ebooks) I have two points to make:

1) Ebooks and the selling, not so much. I mean, more than none, but not on a par with the big boys yet.

2) But sales are trending up.

#1, check.

#2, um... oops.

As always, please send your sales data to veinglory at

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Random Thoughts about Review sites--veinglory

A few review sites are looking for reviewers, presumably after the holiday season 'fade out'. Two Lips is looking for reviewers and editors, and mention that they also run Topaz Promotions. Which answers one question. Who is behind the most annoying promotion company I know of--well, between them and Promo Crystal, sorry Crystal--just my feelings as a loop and forum user. I hadn't put Topaz and Twolips together before (in the library with the candlestick, I think).

Now, admittedly I have this thing about publishers or review sites having profit-making author services. My logic is this. A company providing books or reviews should be oriented to readers. Therefore they should be adept at selling things... to readers. Not to authors.

One of Topaz's services is "Send out new release emails to no less than 50 eloops and monitors the loop for responses." This includes sending 7 promo messages to the same loop on the same day (I only checked back as far as Jan 3, I suspect it is sometimes more) including some duplicate posts and not responding questions I asked on the loop. Sometimes, I must say, less would be more. Yes I am in the process of amending the group rules to spell this out, subject to a member vote-slash-sanity check (sometimes I am irritated by thing just because I am easily irritated, so I have to check). And perhaps I should have addressed this privately but as they are meant to monitor the loop I would think discussing them by name on the loop might have sufficed....

Secondary thought: Twolip is currently running third in the preds and eds poll. Who votes most on that. Readers... authors? Someone out there clearly does like them, they represent some good authors. Shrug. What would I know. After all blogging isn't about being right. About half my opinions would embarrass a crack-addled hamster. The other half are of my opinions rock. Sad thing is I have no reliable way of telling which is which other than just throwing it out there.

Possibly I am just to snarky and overly biased by this company's previous attempt to sell expedited reviews as recommended by review-for-profit expert Kathy Burns-Millyard (as spelled out in the article how to start a profitable book review business). From which I quote (my emphasis):

"Over time, possibly just a few months but definitely within a year if you really work at it, you’ll have more reviews than you can handle. At that point, you should consider paying other writers to create the reviews. Many beginning writers will work for free, so you could farm out your “standard” reviews to them with just the promise of a free book. If you want to also farm out the expedited reviews - you will need to farm this out at some point, can you imagine getting 100 expedited review orders each week? ;) In any case, you could offer other starting writers $10-$20 pay per review plus the free book, and you’ll still have writers beating down the door. Eventually you could hire a “managing editor” and let all the writing be done by others… while you’re off in an exotic land somewhere without a worry in the world."

Writers write reviews for free or 10-20% of the fee being charged, providing reviews for writers and profit for business people. Where, I wonder again, are the readers? Because even if one doesn't pay, a review site should provide a return on the investment--a copy of your book, which is not worthless.

Monday, January 07, 2008

In other news--veinglory

Cassie Edwards is getting called on some heavy borrowing (i.e. plagiarism) from sources by Smart Bitches and Dear Author.

Sex and Love, Presumably in that Order--veinglory

I recently bought a book published in 1917 called 'Woman: her Sex and Love Life' by William Robinson. And the final chapter, amongst others, gave me a little something to think about. I thought I would share an excerpt.

"It is my sincere belief--and I cherish the belief in spite of the horrible wretched war which seems to be shattering the very foundations of everything we hold dear ... that the time will come when the world will be practically free from pain and suffering. Almost all disease will be conquered, accidents will be rare, the fear of starvation or poverty or unemployment will no longer haunt men and women, and every infant born will be well-born and welcome ...

Yes I believe that the time will come when the world will be practically free from pain and suffering. But there is one exception. I do not believe that we will ever be able to entirely eliminate the tragedies of the heart ...

... it is the duty of everybody who loves mankind to study the various phases of human sexuality and help to spread sane and human ideas on the subject of Sex and Love."

So there you are. Go forth and spread.

(So tell me, what sane idea would you like to see spread in erotic romance writing?)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

You Are What You Eat--veinglory

Have you ever read one of those chick lit stories where everything is Gucci and Prada? I think it would be hilarious to do some slob lit parody full of all of the most unfortunately named products currently for sale in big box stores and corner markets in the US. Do you think a publisher would be freaked out by all the brand names? It's only funny if they're real, after all.

Anyway, here is a loaf of bread that I just *had* to buy at my local 7/11--it gets even better--what is this bear doing to the Bimbo bread? Do you have any others that I could use?

p.s. I have started a job board on the side column. Please let me know if you know of any open positions at reputable erotic romance epublishers or related businesses.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

NEW EPRESS: Firedrake's Weyr

Opening Jan 31. All genre but apparently implicitly not seeking m/m, or haven't thought about it much which is curious given that it tends to substantially outsell m/f.

"Romance: Boy meets girl, they fall in love. Sometimes they have sex sometimes they don't. but all the time they end up happily ever after. The sub-genres are as stated above, but with the Romantic Elements..

Erotic Romance: Same as the romance category, but the sex is more descriptive. Cruder language may be used where necessary, and multiple partner relationships may be explored."

p.s. Dragons are the new Rose when it comes to naming your press?

p.p.s. How is this a contest?

p.p.p.s. The about us page doesn't say who 'us' are.

p.p.p.p.s. 'Weyr' is a word invented by Anne McCaffrey. I don't know if that is significant but it doesn't strike me as wise to use the word without authorisation (as is secured by the 'Weyr' fanzines). But who knows. I am easily confused by things as small as the domain being "Firedrakes Weyr" and the title just "Firedrake Weyr" [the domain for this name is not taken].

p.p.p.p.p.s They suggest a main reason other epresses fail is "Failure to diversify their product selection". I disagree. Many fail for not having a specifc niche where there is an unserved or poorly served readership. All genre epublishers are already common just as all romance epresses are (e.g. Bareback Angels, currently being scaled back to an imprint of Torquere).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Author Websites--Pepper

I have a horrible confession to make (which is related to why this post is so very late). I've had a professional webpage since 2005--that's not the confession--the confession is that I haven't updated it since January 2007. Yeah, that's right, a whole year. I had two good reasons for this. The first is that I am lazy. Soooo lazy. I keep meaning to do something about that procrastination. Secondly, because I've been so busy with Vivien, I haven't been writing my own books. The net result of this is that we had over a dozen Jamie Craig releases this year, and I had 4 of my own books. 3 of which just came out in the last six weeks. I felt like I didn't have anything to update, and Vivien took care of all the Jamie Craig stuff.

So, we all know that a good author page is important. Thanks to the generosity of Vivien and the talent of April Martinez, I now have a new gorgeous, lovely website, and my 2008 resolution is to update it regularly. How much time do you spend on yours? Do you give it as much attention as you should, or do you just make a token effort?

Lies, damned lies, and surveys--veinglory

Ring ring [the phone]

blah blah blah Many people with young children, grandmothers and mothers, feel movie ratings are getting more and more lax, while the movies themselves have more and more adult content. Do you agree? [paraphrased]

I don't have children

We are still interested in your opinion. [blah blah, some stuff I missed but was pretty sure I didnt agree with it either]

I don't agree


Um, I don't agree

Every year for every one family movie produced there are [a lot, maybe 4 I don't recall] that are are rated R released. Do you agree that there should be more family movies.

No. [She is implying as a proportion not an amount and besides I can't stand leading questions. You can lead a pervert to censorship but you can't make them eat it].

What?! [slightly surprised and unhappy tone of voice]

No, I don't agree. [What part of 'no' didn't she understand?]

Well you don't fit the demographic we are tring to reach.


No shit Sherlock.

Seriously. I had a delivery man at the door and the dog was doing his Hound of the Baskervilles routine so I didn't really get who these people were--American... Entertainment... Nazis? No nothing quite so obvious. Can anyone tell me? Because when they release the data I want to be there. I bet it will say all you good Americans out there wan't less adult-rated movies and harsher ratings. Something any movies with gay charaters in them already get slammed on pretty hard. [And not in the good way].

I want to be there to say how astoundingly outrageous their surveyor was telling people what they wanted us to say--giving slanted if not utterly incorrect information and challenging negative answers in a disapproving voice. Even I hesitated to say no when she set it up so that it basically meant I hated small children, grandmothers and movies with ponies in them. But the question was not actually about loving families, it was about suppressing and censoring adult-rated entertainment.

Those are not the only two choices.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Just saying--veinglory

What should you do if some blogger suggests that your book has a funny title, odd cover or peculiar plot element?

a) call it cruel, snark or trashing
b) attack their character, intelligence and/or motives--and say they asked for it
c) get your friends to do the same
d) grow some skin

How's this. I could post a blog with a picture of a voodoo doll. Whenever you want to say something to a blogger or reviewer. You could anonymize it and post it to the doll instead? It would be cathartic ;)

Defining Pornography--veinglory

Now y'all probably know that I embrace the porn. Pornography is any work designed to sexually arouse, and I am down with that. Pornography and romance had a hot passionate dirty affair and erotic romance is their love child.

But then there are those who think pornography is anything that, for some reason, goes out of its way to be without literary merit, degrading to women and--if at all possible--twirling its moustache by the side of the railroad track to which poor helpless, virtuous erotic romance is tied.

But I digress...

What does the average person on the street think pornography is? Here are some suggestions from urban dictionary. feel free to suggest your own.

  • 95% of the websites on the internet.

  • Any material which becomes, right after masturbating, not at all interesting.

  • Sexier than sex itself.

Definitions are voted on. I notice funny and positive ones are at the top, denigrating ones in the middle, and "Pointless filth that destroys families and eventually turns men impotent" at the very bottom.

This makes me happy.

See also, the top definition for "porn"

  • The best thing in the world

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Everyone Likes to Win...--veinglory

But how many book awards do we need?

...said the grinch.

But seriously, not only is it Eppies [EPIC] and CAPA [Romance Studios] time but the preditors and editors readers poll is now open and every online bookreview site that I had never heard of is giving out their own. Oh, and these guys.

I find myself thinking: what award out there so impresses me that I would run out and buy the book that won it, or even make a point of having a look at it? How many of these awards have any clear function beyond free publicity given by the author to the awarding body? [If you can think of an award that is an endorsement you pay attention to as a reader, which one? Please tell!]

I know how to do well in the polls, you get a whole lot of friends, associates and fellow forum members to vote for you--most of whom have never read the book. But does promoting a website do the author any good, if the few who actually win the small colored digital image prize get no sales as a result? Even a little trophy is, what, a $10 payment to one person for the promotion efforts of every nominated author.

Don't get me wrong, awards are nice. If some one other than me nominates one of my books, I appreciate that a lot. If I win then that probably gives me a little happy feeling. But I am not chasing these things any more, or playing a game of voting for people reciprocally or based on some tenuous social connection. I will not be nominating my own books and I will be voting, should the opportunity arise, only for books I have actually read and liked.