Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review Venues (under construction)

Please note, codings may not be fully accurate when a genre is accepted but this is not explicitly stated on the website. Please let me know of any additions and/or corrections by comment or email.

* All About Romance: Ro, E(limited)/P, xS. This site focuses on "major publishing houses".
* Dear Author: R(ER/FF/MM), D/P/E (digital copy preferred), ? [Recommended]* Mrs Giggles: R(ER), E*/P, S [Recommended]
* HEA Reviews: R, D, E, xS
* Night Owl Romance Book Reviews: Ro, E*/P, ?.
* POD People: A, E*/P, So (some exceptions).
* Racy Romance Reviews: Ro, does not accept book submissions, ?.
* Rainbow Reviews: A/R/E(ER/MM/FF), D/P/E, ? -- GLBTQ0
* Romance at Heart: Ro, ?, ?.
* Romance Reader, the: Ro(ER), P, ?.
* Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Ro, ?, ?. [Recommended]
* Smexy Books: R(MM), ?, ?.
* Veiled Secrets Reviews: Ro(ER/MM/FF), E*/P, ?.

* Romantic Times Book Reviews: Ro(ER) xMM xFF, P, ?.

R: reviews romance
E: reviews erotica
RE: reviews erotic romance
MM: review gay fiction
FF: reviews lesbian fiction

A: reviews all (or most) genres
D: accepts digital review copies
P: accepted printed review copies

E: reviews EbooksS: accepts self-published bookso: The 'o' means they accept this format or genre exclusively
x: means a format or genre is specifically not accepted
[Recommended]: My personal opinion only

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quoth: Lambda Redux

I would recommend reading Victor J. Banis's post "The Little Lost Lamb(da)s" in full (and, indeed, reading pretty much anything he had written).

I was struck rather viscerally by a quote he gives from his correspondence: “…I don’t appreciate a bunch of homophobic straight women who fetishize gay sex for the titillation of other straight women trashing the work of LGBT writers, editors and publishers, or our history. I don’t appreciate those same women pretending that gay fiction did not exist until they started writing it. They have no idea who you are, for example…”.

As Banis notes, many M/M writers are acutely aware of their place in a tradition going back not 20 years, but clearly to the 11th century and probably beyond. I copy below an article that used to appear on answer to the notion that female authors are "appropriating" gay stories. (As Gaywired seems to have folded this also gives me a place to archive this 2004 article).


Slash Friction Is appropriation ever appropriate?

Slash is fiction written largely by and for women, depicting the romantic and sexual relationships of gay men: “Taking two MALE characters, from a television series, movie, comic, anime, book, etc., and "pairing" them together, usually for sexual acts”. It is a phenomenon that has, until recently, passed under the radar of the gay community. Upon learning about slash many gay men are merely amused – but others are outraged.

This outrage is becoming more noticeable as slash becomes more widely known. Writer Kirby Crow notes “the disturbing trend (cue sinister music). There have been some increasingly bitter remarks posted by male (and some female) readers of Slash fiction. The complaints are that the Slash writer's treatment of male characters is often "wrong".” One magazine in particular posts a blanket ban on slash fiction on the basis that it is appropriation (presumably appropriation by woman of gay experiences).

This sort of ‘appropriation of gay culture’ criticism is periodically pointed at various different art forms from Madonna’s videos (as discussed by author Stan Hawkins in "I'll Never Be an Angel: Stories of Deception in Madonna's Music.") to movies like Priscilla Queen of the Desert as author Alan McKee details in "How to tell the difference between a stereotype and a positive image: putting Priscilla, queen of the desert into history." But before we accept ‘appropriation’ as the signature crime of the new millennium, consider this:

Fiction is, almost by definition, involves experiences outside the writer’s immediate experience. If we have no trouble with J K Rowling writing about the experience of a male child, or Don Marquis writing poetry from the perspective of a cockroach, why is a woman writing about a gay man taboo? If indeed it is, given that a great deal of fiction about gay men has been written by women – sometimes only a few books from their total output such as the Herald-Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and sometime almost exclusively such as the historical dramas by Mary Renault. It seems that only when this material started to spread beyond ‘respectable’ publishing with a speculative or literary gloss that it was really noticed and condemned. So female interest in gay love may be okay in moderation, but passing through the bedroom door may be a step too far?

I must concede that when a female author writes predominantly about gay men this does suggest that she is not just sampling the diversity of human experience, but express a particular fixation. When the material is romantic or sexual such a fixation could easily be described as a fetish. And one can hardly be surprised when individuals or groups are uneasy about being the ‘object’ of a fetish. Some individuals may have fetishes about fur, stocking or feet – but these are true ‘objects’ and hardly likely to become offended. But material that objectifies women has long been seen as disreputable and objectionable.

And indeed there are similarities in that the women depicted in heterosexual porn are displayed as young, attractive and sexually available. The gay men depicted in slash are typically young, attractive and emotionally available. Both depictions presumably satisfy some kind of wish-fulfilment for the writer or his/her audience.

However, is it really so bad to satisfy the secret or not so secret desire of an audience for certain object of affection? Many modern feminists would say ‘No’. They would suggest that material that revels in the abuse of women may be objectionable – however erotica per. se. is not the enemy. Indeed more and more women are expressing a desire to create and consume erotica of various kinds – including slash. So if erotica is not by definition a bad thing, surely our responses to it should be based on its content not the demographic details of the author?

In terms of content some slash may perpetuate stereotypes, be bigoted or otherwise unacceptable – the mere fact that the female is writing about gay men does not make this the case. Some, probably most, slash depicts heroic men in caring relationships and can in no way be seen as derogatory. That being the case, why should gay men be uniquely taboo – written about only by one of their number?

By condemning all slash, one implicitly states that it is inconceivable that any female could write a worthwhile story about gay men – and that in itself is an extraordinary prejudice. Lesbians have long been aware that pornography for men often depicts woman together in ostensibly lesbian scenarios. The complimentary phenomenon (slash by any other name) has a history just as long -- stretching from homoerotic icons by medieval nuns to science fiction comics by Colleen Doran.

In the end a woman’s fantasy is not appropriation, whether in her head, on her bookshelf or leaking from the end of her pen. Women may use gay men in their fiction, gay men may react and commentate as they wish on any of these works. But the idea that gay men own every depiction of that sexuality is in itself an unacceptable and presumptuous declaration of ownership that would sound ridiculous if extended to almost any other group. By all means complain when a writer perpetuates hate or derision – but to demand silence on this subject by an entire gender is unmistakably a step too far. Gay men need not embrace slash fiction but, I suggest, they should certainly tolerate it.

See also:
Recently, the Lambda Literary Foundation instituted new guidelines for its awards
Unpacking the Case Against M/M: Part 3, A Little Perspective
Slash Fan Fiction: Hobby or Vehicle for Social Change?

[sweet romance market, sort of] Amourose

I will confess to not being a Sweet Mary Sunshine sort of person. But sometimes there is a reason for that. I hear about a publisher, Amourose, and what do I see?

Use of a free webhost.

Above-the-fold typo: "...we here at Amourose Press do our best to treat every manusccript we receive with the respect it deserves."

"Amourose Press is not a member of the Better Business Bureau." And is so proud of this they point it out on their homepage?

"Miss Woods decided to utilize for editing, formatting, cover art, and distribution". That being a company well known for not editing or formatting at all except as a fee-charging service, providing terrible default covers and having very little in the way of distribution.

Listed as opening in January 2009, but still hasn't released any titles. They are currently closed to queries until November.

"Authors whose manuscripts are accepted retain all rights." This is rather... impossible.

"Authors receive 65% of the royalties on all sales." 65% of royalties? Presumably royalties as defined by Lulu? In the absence of a stated pricing structure it is impossible to know how much this would be.

So, there you are....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First lines of first books

All you authors out there, want to share your first lines? I don't mean the first line of your current, well-polished manuscript or recently published masterpiece. I mean the first line of the first book you tried to write. Your first stab at being a novelist.

I recently came across mine: "

The dark sky was underlit with in shades of dusky orange by the electric city night-life - almost obscuring the moon, let alone the stars."

Ouch. Can you say 'purple'? Just as well I never finished that one.

So come on, share!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Further to the discussion about XOXO Publishing, a division of Ninni Group. It has been brought to my attention that there is one other known Ninnette ("a div of Ninni Group Inc.") That being "Botham Publishing", a press so elusive it is debatable whether it existed at all. Most prominent author: Brianna Martini.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


* Dwarsligger: New paperback format idea rom a dutch company.
* A Statement from TRS [The Romance Studio] on Discriminatory Posts
* Boys Gone Wild: How Do Women Objectify Men?

p.s. the sales figures are gradually getting brought up to date. Next is the PLIST with smoke, warnings, closings, significant developments etc. If you have time, please take a look and help me to remember everything that has happened since the last update.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rumor Patrol

Ellora's Cave/Cerridwen are sending out a 10% off coupon code, is this a first? Are recent signs of increased activity at JJ incorporated pro-active good marketing or a knee jerk reaction to market downturn?

I hear Red Rose Publishing has a $100 kills fee, which they might need to retain authors if they maintain an output at the level of Ellora's Cave but, I suspect, not with the same readership?

Edited to add:
No Ellora's Cavemen this year?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lambda GLBT Book Awards Go Heterophobic

Lamda award entry guidelines for 2009:

"The Lambda Literary Foundation (LLF) seeks to elevate the status of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people throughout society by rewarding and promoting excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives ... As such, it should be noted that the Lambda Literary Awards are based principally on the LGBT content, the gender orientation/identity of the author, and the literary merit of the work." (emphasis added)

Wow. Lambda overtakes RWA in the area of introducing intrusive and judgemental rules without any prior discussion or need for it.

How many prior award winners would not meet these requirements? I'll start:
1988 recipient in the category of Gay Men's Science Fiction/Fantasy--Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (DAW). Lackey is female and straight (shock, horror).

Via Teddypig

See also:
No room for the heteronorm?/An Update

See also:
Shame On Me, Shame On You
Lambda Literary Awards: Part II

See also:
The Founder Of The Lambda Literary Awards Speaks His Mind

Reading between the lines

It seems the departure of one of the founders of Absolute Xpress,
Absolute Xpress no longer publishing romance,
and the arrival of a new romance e-publisher: Breathless Press,
are not exactly unrelated events....

Closing: Firedrake's Weyr

"Due to unfortunate family matters, Firedrakes Weyr Publishing is closed at this time. Hopefully circumstances might be worked around to allow it it reopen in the future. Thanks to all for your support." [website]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Romance hits the Xpress lane out of town

Small presses often fine tune which genres they focus on. They can expand, specialise, spin off imprints, and many other options. But there are classy ways to do this, and crappy ways to do this.

According to Ellen Ashe Absolute XPress ( has opted for "crappy". That is they have stopped listing romance genre books on their website, yet not released the authors from their contracts. Apparently the authors of romance books are meant to be happy with third party vendor distribution only, and a publisher who won't deign to have their work on their main website.

p.s. In similarly classy move Lulu has dropped non-Lulu service providers from their listings. You can still find them if you search for their specific name, but otherwise they have vanished.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

[Market] XOXO Publishing

XOXO Publishing, Gina Cianfarani CEO.

This epublisher lists romance and erotica as genres of interest.

The red flags, let me count them.
1) P&E: "31 Aug 09 - XoXo Publishing, Inc.: Not recommended. Poor contract. A publisher."
2) Video and music auto-plays on the website. That always bugs me.
3) A $4.95 shipping and handling charge for an ebook?!
4) The submission page states: "I certify that I have the right to submit the texts, manuscripts, photo's, artwork and materials that I am submitting to XoXo Publishing. This submission signifies agreement to the above and that I agree to grant an exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable, transferable, perpetual license to publicly display my submission..."


See also:
XOXO Publishing: music that pains, submissions that strain

See also:
AP Miller AKA Patti Rebmann Apparently Has A New Job… a.k.a. "Anonymous"?)
"I received an email the other day informing me that AP Miller AKA Patti Rebmann has got a new job. Apparently she’s the acquisitions editor at the soon-to-be-opened (slightly dodgy looking) XoXo Publishing."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

With a Whimper--Quartet closing

"For a variety of reasons large and small, Quartet Press has decided to discontinue operations. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, a hard-working team, and the support of the community, things just don’t work out. "


I wonder if/when the full story will come out.

p.s. The record for shortest lifespan for an epublisher is currently held by Entrepid Press at 21 days.

The word spreads:
* Breaking News: Indie Publisher Quartet Press Ceases Operations: "Quartet Press, the new startup that showed such promise and recently snagged former Samhain editor Angela James as its editorial director, announced today that it will disband..."
* Digital Publisher Quartet Press Disbands: "A few months after seeking its first submissions, the fledgling digital publisher Quartet Press has disbanded."
* I Did NOT See This One Coming…: "I am truly in shock. This was a new publisher I was looking to submit work to..."
* Quartet Press Are Dead?: "Is that the quickest e-press death in history?"
* Quartet Press is No More: "I have no details as to why but this is massive stinky pile of crap for digital publishing"
* QUARTET PRESS CLOSES BEFORE IT OPENS: "I have no idea what happened"

Edited to Add: Some more information via PW: "They had planned for Quartet Press to essentially be an e-books-only publishing house ... In a phone interview with Meyer, she said that ongoing discussions with a number of digital vendors made it clear that their financial projections would not work."

* How I Spent My Summer Vacation: "Welcome back from whatever you did this summer. Me, I spent my time building a digital publishing company. It went mostly okay, though, in the end, there was no company to show for it...." (Isn't that a little... um, glib? "Mostly okay" except for authors whose work was thrown back on the marketplace and people who were left unemployed?)

Monday, September 07, 2009

When is contest not a contest

Regular visitors will know my opinion about contested where the only prize is publication. It is similar to my opinion of paying for book reviews. So please forgive me for flogging this particular dead horse.

A recent announcement doing the rounds reads:

"The Classic Romance Revival website launch celebration is on, with a fantabulous "WIN A PUBLISHING CONTRACT" Contest, COURTESY OF DESERT BREEZE PUBLISHING!"

Gee, a publishing contract. I wonder how on earth you could get one of those other than by "winning" a "contest".

"Plus, Classic Romance Revival is throwing in a bonanza prize of a whole month free promo for the release of the winning book!"

Gee, I wonder how else you might get your published book promoted to readers.

But I have an added point to make here. In offering this prize Desert Breeze seems to be commiting to publishing an entire book based on which excerpts (1000 words or less) win the most votes--and you can even win this contest with an incomplete manuscript. And we all know how online votes are based purely on literary quality, right? Oh and to enter this contest you have to register with Classic Romance Revival. And anyone you get to vote for your entry also has to register.

So not only would I argue that this approach has no particular benefit to the author, it indicates to me that the publisher is not to terribly worried about properly assessing a full manuscript before accepting it for publication, and they are willing to be part of what is essentially a scheme for a author promo group service to build its mailing list?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

[Market] Always Keepers

The Romance Rag reports that Always Keepers (sweet romance audio press, previously discussed here) was founded/is owned by Avalon author Donna Wright. The Romance Rag appears to be the new blog for Always Keepers. Like their webpage when it first went, live the blog--um--needs work (default wordpress subtitle and about page, broken links etc).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

To Sell and Damnation

New horror epublisher Damnation Books (opening today) has a new approach to pricing. They offer "variable pricing" where the first copy of a book is free and the price goes up 5c with each sale until the normal retail price is reached. I am not sure if this is a cute idea or a profit-squandering gimmick. I just know I wouldn't want to be the author still selling for less than a dollar several weeks after release. (p.s. what is with the drawn-by-a-twelve-year-old-boy picture on the top right of the site?)

p.s. They had some books on Omnilit in advance of their launch, which seem to be selling well (although that may have something to do with many being priced at 99c)