Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Ways of Google are Mysterious

As of the last Google Pagerank Dance this blog has a Google Pagerank of zero/zilch/nada.

Go figure.

I guess my burnt offerings were not pleasing to the great Google?

(To be fair, burnt snark smells pretty nasty).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Steffi Webb sent a polite email asking if I would list Boudior Press ("for lovers of the written erotica") at ERECsite and mention her contest on this blog. The email was a model example of how to approach a blog owner--very professional. However I regret to say that I would not touch Boudoir Press, the parent company Black Leaf Publishing, or their other imprint Blue Cloud Publishing with a barge pole. I think that winning a publishing package with a vanity press would have to be considered a mixed blessing, at best. Which is a pity as an epublisher focussing on fetish fiction could do rather well, without the pay-to-play element.

Monday, December 28, 2009


" Inc ... said its customers bought more e-books than physical books for the first time ever on Christmas Day, thanks to its hot-selling Kindle electronic book reader." [REUTERS]

And by "bought" they mean downloaded free content with the Kindle they were given for Xmas. More than half of the Kindle top sellers, even today, have a purchase price of $0.00.

Which is still kind of interesting (a lot fo people got Kindles, I guess) but rather different from a triumphant cry as digital publishing drives a lance through the heart of dead tree books once and for all.

See also:
Favorite e-book price: free

Sunday, December 27, 2009


You may have noticed AudioLark advertising on the side of this blog a few weeks ago--well I certainly did. This is a new publisher of romance audiobooks. They are currently closed to submissions until January 3rd. The are looking for all genres and lengths with a preference for previously published work. Based on their presentation and contract terms I decided to send them a reprint--Journey's End which can be downloaded for free from my website. I am normally fairly cautious about start-ups but this one seems pretty solid and a reprint is not as much of a risk as a fresh manuscript. So I am happy to say that they accepted Journey's End and I look forward to seeing, or is it "hearing", what they do with it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The $20 Question

Here's a totally non-rhetorical question for y'all. If you had a $20 amazon gift certificate, what would you spend it on?


I first came across Blue Planet via their rather awkwardly written press release for their "inaugural anthology project entitled Sugar & Spice: The Anthology for the Grown and Sexy."

Their website has a similar competent-but-somewhat-amateur look. Oh, and they don't list erotica or romance as genres they accept.

Based upon "Blue Planet Publishing was established in the spring of 2006 to provide services to new fiction authors with a passion to share their gifts with the world" I am guessing this outfit started as a self-publishing co-op of some kind.

It seems to me that for a press founded in 2006 they sure have been flying under the radar--and I am curious as to why a publisher with a track record of releasing romances would not consider romance submission queries.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pickled Cupid, wherefore art thou?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh Woe is Reader Views

Reader Views is bemoaning the fact that Good Reads is removing their reviews. They write, in part:

"For the past year, Reader Views has been posting reviews on as another source of getting publicity for author's [sic] books. However, a disgruntled person has reported Reader Views as being in violation of GoodReads' rules ... In light of this, and upon checking GoodReads site, I noted within a few minutes 10+ other "commercial sites" are posting reviews there. When I informed GoodReads' that Reader Views wasn't the only "commercial" site posting there, it requested I send them the links of the other reviewers that were in violation so it could investigate. It is not my intention to be the gatekeeper for GoodReads, and as reviewers we support each other and are not out to destroy each other. We are here to support the authors so they can in turn increase the sales of their books."

As Goodreads points out: "Subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement, Goodreads grants you permission to use the Service for your personal, non-commercial purposes only."

I am not terribly sympathetic. Reader Views provides a small number of "free" reviews which is not offered for ebooks--and their standard packages start at $75 . And they list posting on various sites as part of these paid packages.

They state: "You are not purchasing a review - you are paying for a stipend that goes to the reviewer to express review your publication." To which I reply: puh-leeze. When you give someone money for a review, you are paying for a review. When a review is paid for it is a commercial property and so, indeed, clearly against the Goodreads terms of service. Goodreads is, after all, not a "source of getting publicity for authors" it is a website for readers and should be respected as such.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shanda versus the Pirates

PC World reports that at least one epublisher is going after pirates, all guns blazing. Chinese epublisher, Shanda Literature--founded in October, is taking the largest Chinese search engine (Baidu) to court over ebooks that are accessible using that service--and their are some reports that they have Google in their sights too.

Their argument seems to be that of search engines can provide warnings that a site might contain malware, or adult content, they should be able to provide similar warning that a site is likely to contain pirated material. And they are asking that search engines attempt to provide these warnings, not suppress the sites entirely or delist them.

I have to say, that seems reasonable to me. The vast majority of pirate copies are, after all, provided via a relatively small number of websites. And, as if often mentioned, if people want to pirate they will. But a warning and informational notice would at least ensure they cannot say they "didn't know" the copy they downloaded was illegal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What if the Grapes Really are Sour?

Some interesting comments at the announcement of the winners of the Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009. Harlequin seems to have ongoing issues with not understanding why novice exect their rhetoric to apply in letter as well as spirit.

"Congrats to the winners, I know you have all worked very hard on your submissions. I, however, am a bit sad to learn that one of the winners is already a published author of 10+ books..." (Janelle)

"Reflecting on the 2009 writing competition announcement, “Yes, the moment all you aspiring authors have been waiting for has arrived”…I think the results contradict the original message to aspiring authors…" (Sue)

"According to the rules of this contest, if Ms. Carr is indeed already a contracted Harlequin author ... then she is ineligible for this contest." (Longtime reader)

"...our legal department and they reassured us that she was both eligible to enter the contest and to win because she is not currently a contracted author with Harlequin." (Joanne Grant).

See also:
Classic Romance Something New

p.s. my Recaptcha code for the Harlequin post was "funked off"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Epublishing delayed....

Sometimes I wonder whether large publishers want to fail at epublishing. Or do they think that if they screw up at epublishing, nobody else will do it? We have publishers charging hardback prices and paying paperbck royalty rates on ebooks. And now there seem to be more and more major publisher providing ebooks versions sporadically, and after a significant delay. Simon & Schuster are considering delaying ebook release of a book by four months. The normally slightly more reader-friendly, Harper Collins, jumped on board with this idea and upped the ante to six months.

What exactly is the logic here? Do they really think inpatient readers will run out and buy a hardback, or perhaps go online and pirate a free ebook copy? But even if there is a financial benefit do they place no value whatsoever on giving the customer what they want, in the format they want, with open simultaneous choice? Or maybe selfish people who want or depend on ebooks, like--say--the visually disabled, should just expect to have to wait at the back of the line. It seems that large publishers are only really willing to "experiment" in one area, and that is screwing their customers for every penny.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Um, Oooookaaaaaay.

Highlights from the website of Delta Publishing, a (*cough*) new "perspective" on epublishing:

"Our Authors receive 90%* of the cover price for Direct Sales and 60% *of the cover price on Third Party Sales."

Hmmm. Seems too good to be true.

"We do NOT seek to tell you how to do a rewrite of your work and it is envisaged that little or no change to the original manuscript will be needed."

A.k.a. 'we do not envisage actually doing any editing, or even reading, of your work'. Is that a rat I smell?

"Cover Prices are typically £25.00 per Electronic Publication."

($41 US) Ouch

"[You will] will need to contribute a figure towards initialisation of the marketing operation. This amount is typically in the region of £2,500.00. ONLY after you have recouped your outlay will we ask you for a small commission, 2.5% of your receipts on all product sales."

Ha ha ha ha ha, *snort*, hahahahahaha, HA HA HA HA, thud (muffled) ha ha ha ha ha.

They cannot be serious.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Books I Couldn't Give Away

I was clearing out my bookshelves and culled out about fifty books I no longer wanted. So I left these books out at work for people to take. Over a week later three poor books remained unwanted. If I had to say what these books had in common, I think it comes down to this: their covers sucked.

What the cover on the left say? It is centred, dull and the woman has funny looking fingernails. The message is rather unromantic, and the Femdommy-sounding tag-line is pretty much unrelated to the story.

On the surface the next one doesn't look too bad. But there is something vaguely unsettling about a woman draped on the back of an apparently unconscious, or possibly recently dead, young man. It may just be me that makes me wonder if, somewhere out there, there are book actually about necrophiliac candle pegging...

And just to complete the undead trend, this cover seems to illustrate one of the problems with shagging a ridiculously tall, gray-purple zombie--needing a hand free to stop his nipple from falling off.

For the record I have read all of these books, and while not particular favorites of mine they were all pretty good stories in their own right. But people do judge a book by its cover, even when you are trying to give them away.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New market (?): Books Of Desire

Books of Desire has a romance and an erotica (or "Eroctica") section.

"If you're a writer of steamy romance or steamier erotica, you've come to the right place for submitting your work for consideration. We accept only unpublished works from new, unpublished authors, as well as previously published ones. We do not, however, accept hardcore BDSM, hate, child porn or torture, horror, gay or lesbian, racism, golden showers, rape, incest, memoirs, diaries, or extremely violent material, nor any material that we feel would be offensive to others ... Our erotica scenes are explicit, but tastefully done. They are not vulgar in language. We will alert you if your submission contains vulgarity. Please contact us for a list of words we will not publish in content."

Several of the covers seem to use illustrations by "big name" fantasy illustrators. One wonders if it is with their permission?

Also while vulgarity is out is seems that abduction and rape are not: "Tina Abernathy went to bed in her own apartment, but awakens in a dark room, nude, shackled with her legs spread wide open, and finds herself being prodded and probed with gentleness that has her writhing and jerking in orgasms against her will. She is then penetrated with something so huge, she screams...." ['Taken' by Vistoria Calaway]

As far as I could see all of the books for sale on this site are by Victoria Calaway (edited to add, other authors seem to be listed by distributors--but not shown on the main website?).


If you want to hear the short bio of Lanaia Lee (writer of "Of Atlantis") read in a voice that is a cross between Captain Kirk and Vincent Price go to this page and click where it says "click on the Player".

Monday, December 07, 2009

RWA, HaHo and the Public/Private Divide

I found a comment on the recent Writer Beware post very interesting. Specifically: "As far as I was aware the RWA did not and has not made any public statements. The RWA made a private statement to members about Harlequin. Members then chose to post the message all over. Subsequent messages have been very explicit about not forwarding."

This does, quite sincerely, make me wonder: on what basis would an organisation with thousands of members have statements and policies they want to release to members, but not to "the public"? Can a large representative organisation really say: 'we disapprove of group X, but please do not tell them, or any other people who might also disapprove of them'?

Well, if course they can, but how would it be a realistic request or a good idea in terms of transperancy and honest discourse?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Interesting Post

Moira Rogers has a good post which adds an important caveat to my simple formula that earnings = royalty rate x sales volume: Why 3rd Party Royalty Rates Matter. Third party sales will be increasingly important as the ebook market matures.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Market: Inner Vision

"Our vision for our fiction both literary and contemporary fiction is to create a new genre which we call "Reality Fiction." These stories encompass cross-cultural topics such as societal, familial, religious, political concepts, no matter the genre. Main character: one must be African American the other must be of a different ethnic group ... Stories should reflect the slow but steady homogenization of the races."


Some time back I was involved in some threads at Romance Divas and Absolute Write on the subject of The Wild Rose Press. Many glowing reports were made of what TWRP is doing--which is great. I did feel obliged to mentioned that the last time I had data (sales data being kinda 'my thing') average sales per title was somewhat less than 20. At the time I failed to notice how TWRP characterised this thread in their publicly accessible readers loop. That is:

"I've been told by several authors and writers that there is some negative talk about The Wild Rose Press on some loops like romance divas and there's another one that I don't remember right now.Anyway, the talk has been nasty and spiteful and while I have not read the posts from what I've been told its become quite the bashing."

For the record I want to say that I think that sales levels for a publisher absolutely should be discussed. A writer is a laborer who gets to set the value the place on their work, including its financial value. The only way they can know how much a publisher will pay for their work is by knowing the profit per book and the likely sales volume per title. Supportive communities and positive affirmations are great, but not normally higher on my list of writing goals than reaching a substantial readership. Others may have different goals, which is certainly okay with me--but writers communities are all about providing information of in choosing a publisher--including estimated earnings per title.

Either that or I, and others who took the role of devil's advocate in this discussion, are unprofessional, jealous, ignorant haters who lie sleepless at night formulating spiteful plans to taint the joys of others.

Take your pick.

Edited to fix link.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Links On Topic/Off Topic

On Topic
If you know someone who likes free ebooks, I would suggest sending them to Online Novels. All of the ebooks here are posted with author permission, guarantee non-pirated. Including my own novella Journey's End.

Off Topic
This etsy store sells bowties for cats. They should also sell the bandages and iodine for later....

On Topic
Publishing Perspectives brings us: What's Hot in Romance? E-books, Baby! It's a good, accurate post that I have seen linked and tweeted quite a lot. But a little 'rah, rah' for my blood.

Off Topic
Some happy videos. because the world needs more happy:
Because the world needs more happy.
* Do a deer: Musical flash mob.
* Riski Business: an elephant being born [note: includes fluids, blood etc]
* Dog welcomes returned soldier: <--what it says.

On Topic
It looks like a new company selling "personalised" romance novels is now cutting into's action. The new outfit "U Star Novels" offers erotic and gay/lesbian options. And no, this isn't some kind of paid link. I just find the whole idea morbidly fascinating. I mean how could you possibly write a good romance that was generic enough to insert an actual couple into just by changing the names and eye/hair color? I doubt any of these books is actually worth reading. But I give U Star credit for not slapping a maximum heat rating on they same sex books--that is, showing that they know that sexual orientation and sexual explicitness are unrelated issues.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Amazon Continues to Pick the Best

Now it is their Book Cover contest (you need an Amazon account to access it). I will gloss over the fact that the books largely match their "Best Books of 2009" profile in leaning to non-fiction, literary styling and so forth. Customers are able only to vote for a handful of preselected options. So these are their annointed editor's picks for the top 60 covers of the year.

As covers go, none of them are horrible. But I ask you: what is 'best of 2009' about this?--> The choice of a plain white background? The use of capital letters?

The biography covers are all a face (general front facing and centered) and a title (generally white or a pale, warm color). Actually, several of the books in other categories follow the same basic formula. Subject: centred (or largely absent). Font: white (sometimes orange). Exciting: not.

The cover for the Book of Wool cover shows... well wool. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn't strike me as one of the most wonderful covers I have seen this year. Actual "art" seems to have been banished entirely.

Color me underwhelmed. I looked at all of the covers, but I didn't even bother to vote.

Some further reading on related topics:
AAR: My Reading Habits Wallow in Shame, Apparently
Project Gutenberg: Cherchez the romance?