Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ravenous Correspondence--veinglory

I have decided to copy below exactly what I asked Dalyn Miller about Ravenous Romance and the full reply. You will see in my letter a slightly blunter statement of my current assessment of erotic romance epublishing than I normally project on the EREC blog. EREC is to some extent a group entity with, would you believe, a more positive tone than my own personal, gritchy view of the world. (Most people find EREC gloomy enough, even so). Anyway, for your edification and information with thanks to Dalyn Miller, apologies for the length:

Dear Dalyn Miller,

Epublishing sure is living in interesting times. I appreciate your visit to my blog. I apologize for getting a little tetchy. Across the three main sites of discussion (Dear Author, EREC, Absolute Write) I have seen accusations of everything from ignorance to harassment--not to mention the suggestion my career would suffer. I guess it was starting to get to me. Especially as some of these posters certainly appeared to have a connection to Ravenous.

The background to is that I started it to encourage authors who epublish to do their homework and either have realistic expectations, or continue to aim for commercial publishing as someone hoping for a full time writing career clearly should. I also want to encourage good ebook authors to submit to the best epublishers rather than the fly-by-night basement publishers with sparkly websites but no skills or capital. To be perfectly honest most erotic romance epublishers are, at best, a waste of time for any semi-professional writer. Our site collects sales figures and reports of publisher misconduct (primarily charging fees or failing to pay royalties)--to help authors make informed choices. I think a good many of us are hoping to see a breakthrough, fourth generation epublisher that sells in the 5 figure and up range (within two years of release). This will signal the beginning of a truly professional era for epublishers after years of Wild West trading with presses opening and folding every few months.

That is the background, but what are my questions? Well this all began because Dear Author picked up that a respected agent was selling to an epublisher. Involvement of an agent is a sentinel for 5 figure+ deals and so of great interest. Simultaneously we became aware of pre-existing rumors that someone was backing Lori Perkins to *start* an epublisher, and the ambiguity attracted my interest as a blogger. There seemed to be elements of interest and it furthered the goal of the blog of encouraging analytical thinking in epublishing authors. So I suppose my main questions are these.

1) Are agents other than Lori Perkin's submitting their clients' work to Ravenous Romance
2) Is the advance being paid $1 per manuscript page
3) What approximate sales per title is Ravenous Romance predicting and is it in the 10,000+ range
4) Did Hollan package the Cosmo Kama Sutra?

I will be perfectly honest and say that the tone of some comments suggesting that a "real' publisher will clearly do better in this game (along with agented "real" authors) although potentially true is not likely to play well in communities heavily populated by authors, editors, owners and even brand-loyal readers of existing erotic romance epublishers. Which is not to say that existing publishers are setting the bar high enough, I think a shake up and new approach would be welcome. That said, a hostile response to discussion of technical details and difficulty in pinning down facts is more typical of presses that fail to thrive or are approaching a critical failure (Dark Castle Lords, New Concepts, Triskelion). And the sheer number of 'crash and burn' episodes in erotic romance epublishing has, perhaps, cultivated a skeptical ambiance. So I appreciate the opportunites to clear a few things up in my own little corner of the internet.

Please be sure to let me know what parts of your reply may be quoted on the blog.


Emily Veinglory

Dear Emily,

So sorry for the delay in my response, thank you for your patience! I understand he trials and tribulations which have come with e-publishing, especially in the erotica and romance categories, however, it is an exciting new world for publishing and those of you who have been in it since the early days have experienced the highs and the lows of the industry. Skepticism is to be expected. However, please be aware that Ravenous Romance’s principals are approaching this business from a professional standpoint, are investing a lot of money in it, and are bringing in partners who will help them achieve new levels of success for their authors, including a sophisticated web marketing firm who will ensure that they are reaching the right consumers in the right way.

You are already aware that your site is an incredible resource to this community and we’re pleased that the buzz has already begun for Ravenous Romance here and elsewhere! And we’re pleased that our authors are chiming in--enthusiasm is infectious, after all! However, authors aren’t always able to communicate the facts of the business model as clearly as we can as publishers. That’s why we’d prefer questions be asked directly of us instead of speculated upon in the public forum.

The answers to your questions are below:

Are agents other than Lori Perkin's submitting their client's work to Ravenous Romance? Yes, and we have contracted some agented work already. However, we expect many more submissions once we release our announcement next week. We are looking forward to seeing both agented and non-agented submissions.

Is the advance being paid $1 per manuscript page? Advances depend on the book and the author’s sales history, but our rule of thumb is $1 per page, in the literary tradition of Anais Nin’s famous collector. Our goal is to give new writers an opportunity to reach readers. We will also publish award-winning writers and their proteges, who come to us as a result of Lori’s expertise and experience, and will be able to give them a new outlet for their work. As we grow, the advances will be based on the authors’ previous titles’ sales.

What approximate sales per title is Ravenous Romance predicting and is it in the 10,000+ range? We are not comfortable releasing details of our business assumptions, but we expect aggressive sales in the multiple thousands of copies per title, and our sales figures have been vetted by digital publishing industry experts.

Did Hollan package the Cosmo Kama Sutra? No. As one commenter astutely pointed out, the Cosmo Kama Sutra was published two years before Hollan incorporated.

As I referenced above, we will be releasing a general announcement to the book trade and the public next week, and it will have even more information. Further announcements will come as we grow closer to our December 1 launch date. I will be including you on every announcement from here forward; you will be fully informed about every aspect of Ravenous Romance as we release that information. And we would like to invite you and your readers to share your comments and suggestions with us directly as we develop the website and content.

Thank you again for your interest. Feel free to reprint any or all of this email on the site.


Dalyn A. Miller
Dalyn Miller Public Relations, LLC


Anonymous said...

The expression "big hat, no cattle" comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued but skeptical. Multiple thousands of copies per title? Sure, it's possible for an ebook to sell that well (depending on publisher), but *every* ebook they put out they expect to sell that well? I'd love to know how that's going to happen.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this as it progresses. Either they've discovered a secret no one else in epublishing has found, or they're in for an awakening, and not a pleasant one. Either way it will be interesting to see unfold.

Martel said...

I am happy to see that Ms. Miller responded to your query. It seems that Ravenous is trying their best to clear up any misconceptions that have been aired in this forum and others along the way.

I hope that the authors who work with them will keep authors-at-large apprised of the successes/failures as things unfold.

Best of luck to all parties concerned.

Martel Sardina

Anonymous said...

Multiple thousands per title? These people are delusional. Good luck with that, folks...and don't be too shocked when it's actually multiple "dozens" instead...if that! That naive statement alone tells me that these people haven't a clue about the e-pub industry...and their "so-called" experts are also clueless.

Stacia said...

I'm astute! :-)

I certainly wish them the best. As I've said before, I'd love to see a new ehouse open up and be successful. But I have to agree I don't find thousands of copies sold realistic, certainly not in the beginning. Unless there's some magic key, some particular thing everyone wants that none of the other ehouses are currently publishing, I think they might do a bit better than any other new ehouse, which is to say, slow build-up to okay sales.

As I said on AW, because of the money and experience behind them, sure, I'd feel more comfortable submitting to them than to some other startup ehouse. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't rather place my work with an established house.

But I appreciate them answering questions, and I appreciate that the "Screw you, we're professionals, hey thanks for warming up the market for us" attitude seems to have disappeared.

Anonymous said...

I've had multiple of thousands (like one multiple, haha) copies of sold of a title, and I've had multiples of ten sold ... I wish them luck, but wish we had more specifics. Hopefully their statement next week will clear things up.

Kris Eton said...

Hm, I think it could be possible with the backing they are mentioning that they could sell thousands. I know it took EC years to get to the point of selling 750+ in the first month...but they came out of nowhere, really.

If this epub has Lori's name and some authors people have heard of as their debut books, why couldn't that be true?

I have no clue what the sales have been for eHarlequin's books, but I'm guessing pretty darn good since they are expanding their offerings in e-books and are looking for more short titles in different genres.

I know, Harlequin is Harlequin...but if some of the 'name' authors advertise their connections with this new venture...I think lots of copies could be sold.

I'm keeping my eye on this one. EC has a HUGE long wait and is very specific about what kind of books they are looking for. (definitely more sex and less story, which is not totally my thing) So to have another 'big' site with decent sales would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Kris, your average reader has no idea who Lori Perkins is, and I have yet to hear of any "name" authors who've signed with this company.

I think we'd all like to see another big house, and nobody's saying Ravenous won't be it. But the simple fact is, ebooks don't tend to sell in those numbers, and ebook readers tend to be loyal to a particular house or a couple of houses. Harlequin is a HUGE name; it's simply not possible for a startup to form itself a brand that recognizable in three months.

And ebooks cost next to nothing to make, especially when you already have it dormatted and ready with cover art. It's not like HQ is putting a big finanical investment into releasing their titles as ebooks. If only ten copies of each book sold they'd be profiting.

Yes, EC came out of nowhere, so by your logic every new epublisher should be selling 750+ copies (I assume you mean of each title) per month. But...they're not.