Monday, May 31, 2010


I notice there is a new site called eBookDiva selling romance ebooks. But, as usual, lines are being blurred:

"eBook Diva is an eBook community specifically developed for romantic fiction readers. It presents an eBook store, reader reviews, and a writers community where aspiring authors can submit and share their work."

A community is 'it'? Anyway, so they want writers too:

"The Tales of the Diva writers' community was developed to establish a free online presence for aspiring romantic fiction writers. Discover the latest talent and engage with the authors. We encourage feedback on the stories posted. By submitting stories, you allow readers from all over the world to be exposed to your work, and you can receive feedback directly from your audience. Also note that the copyright of all works submitted remains the property of the authors."

How generous of them to allow aspiring writers to give them free content. Oh and as for not taking copyright:

"Any software, content or other material (collectively, the "content") that is on this site is the copyrighted work of New Holland Publishing (SA) (Pty) Ltd and/or and/or its suppliers. Use of the content is governed by the terms hereof. If you do not agree to these terms, please do not use this site. By using this site, you signify your acceptance of these terms."

So, basically a publisher that does not (as far as I can tell) actually publish romance is setting themselves up as a third party vendor of romance ebooks, and asking writers to 'share' their work on that site for free.  They are doing this in partnership with Mills and Boon (a British publisher wholly owned by Harlequin) who are providing a lot of the initial content and EBookSite who presumably helped with the software.

Which leaves me wondering, what exactly is new Holland Publishing bring to the party?
See also:
Romancing The Ebook – South Africa's Romance Ebook Store, Ebook Diva, Launches New ebook store for ePub Romances

Sunday, May 30, 2010


So, I previously commented on StoneGarden not displaying books on its website and requiring people to register to use their website.  However I will not be able to tell you any more about the website behind the membership wall because, three weeks after applying to register, I was declined.

" Publishing - Your registration has been rejected!

Your registration at Publishing has been rejected for the following reason:

NOTE: This email was automatically generated from Publishing ("

So, I was automatically rejected, with an exclamation mark, for the following reason:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First NZ eBookStore from Whitcoulls

Living in New Zealand involves a lot of waiting.  Waiting for movies to be released in region 5, waiting for big TV shows to get cheap enough for a local channel to buy, waiting for new products like paperbacks to sell out in bigger markets and start to filter over the pacific ocean.  Peculiar monopolies continue to impede access, especially to American products.  Until recently ebooks were something of an exception because the internet is everywhere.  However many contracts, even for ebooks, are country specific.  So non-American consumers are going to have more trouble buying overseas or be effected by national settings that make many ebooks unavailable to them.  In short, ebooks will get as hard to legally acquire as other media.

Hopefully one development that will help is the opening of the new Whitcoulls ebook store, in combination with the release in New Zealand of the Kobo ebook reader.  There may still be some gaps in availability until world wide ebook rights become standard in contracts, but a local ebook retailler might fill in some of the gaps by providing unique content from New Zealand publishers who have not previously released many ebooks. The Whitcoulls store will sell in multiple formats and the Kobo wouldn't be a bad choice as the main New Zealand ereader as it works with interchangeable formats like ePub and PDF.

However I am currently an ex-pat in America so I am not really sure what the up and down sides of this development are... or the state of ebook retailing outside of America in general.  So I would love to hear about this from any of y'all who are trying to buy ebooks from outside the US.  Which vendors deliver all content to all countries, and how long do you think that might last?

See also:

p.s. sadly you can't buy my books at the new e-store, although you can get the POD.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Romance Academia

I have been quiet this week as I am away from home at a serious meeting of serious scientists talking about serious social issues.  And some time in the middle of the second day I think I nailed what has been bothering me about the developing field of romance academics (and no, this was in no way related to the topic of the meeting that I was at).  It is mainly this: there are some things that I just don't want to take seriously.  Erotic romance and blogging being near the top of that list somewhere between newsreader's haircuts and Merry-Go-Rounds.

I have watched the development of academics specialising or dabbling in the study of romance fiction and as a person who is mostly an academic (I have been off the reservation a bit in the last few years) I kind of expected to be really interested in it.  I spent some time trying to convince myself that I was interested in it.  But I'm just not, and that's fine. Genre fiction has the glorious capacity to be as serious or as frivolous as you want it to be.  But if I ever have to sit through two days of contemplative deconstruction of the gender dynamics of shapeshifter orgies or discourse analysis of the coy protestations of gothic ingenues it will be like I have lost my last refuge against a rising miasma of seriousity and self-importance. 

And this really is not a criticism of Romance academia.  I think every topic needs to have a serious side and a silly side and some people happily traverse both.  But I am staying on the silly side and unapologetically and unironically enjoying erotic romance as a participant, not an observer.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poll Results

THIS WEEK: The last book I finished reading was:

LAST WEEK: The epublisher I have bought the most romance/erotica ebooks from in the last year is:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

[Market] Silver Publishing

Silver Publishing is a rather difficult site to understand. On one had it seems to be an epublisher, but on the other hand it seems to be an ebook vendor. It also carries more advertising than is common for either a publisher or a vendor.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Friend Opus.

I was previously rather hard on the website for Opus Expo, a Canadian epublisher.  A year and a half later the website is much improved.  However I would note that you have to send a signed contract upon submission of your manuscript.  A contract which, by the way, includes the following highlights:

" grant to OpusExpo the exclusive right throughout the World to publish, reproduce, broadcast, perform, telecommunicate, distribute, rent, sell and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever any material or content (each a "Work") that you submit to OpusExpo for publication..."

"OpusExpo's editor(s) shall have the right to alter, edit, update and/or modify the Work in any manner whatsoever ... OpusExpo may submit a final proof to you for proofreading. You will be allowed ten (10) days to make typographical corrections, but you may not otherwise change the Work."

The contract gets even murkier on the issue of royalties:

"OpusExpo will pay to you twenty five percent (25%) of OpusExpo's gross receipts which arise as a result of any exploitation of the Work. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no royalties will be payable on the first 25 copies of the Work which are sold."

Gross receipts (or "gross) is generally defined as the total amount of income received without subtracting any costs or expenses (IRS).  However, Opus Expo defines it as follows:

"OpusExpo's gross receipts are defined as all monies actually received by OpusExpo from the exploitation of the Work less any publishing costs, distribution costs, refunds, returns or trade credits paid or granted by OpusExpo in connection with its exploitation of the Work."
Is it just me or have they just defined gross as being net?  Oh wait, it gets better:
"It may be necessary to employ agents to assist in the publication of the Work. All commissions and amounts paid to such agents will be deducted from OpusExpo's gross receipts for the purposes of calculating the royalty. As well, any license fees paid by OpusExpo to any third party for any content that may be included with the Work will be deducted from OpusExpo's gross receipts for the purposes of calculating the royalty."
This may just explain why Opus Expo's current line up consists of Public Domain works?

OT Some things I wonder about the Publishing website

1) Does "reading from a different angle" refer to reading from the angle of being a blonde, or the angle of being a gorilla?
2) Is it really a good idea to have a logo that suggests one's books are written by bemused gorillas?  Were the monkeys on strike?
3) Why have a Frequently Asked Questions page when it seems you either don't get questions, or don't answer them?
4) Why do they require anyone with an interest in the publisher (perhaps, for example, a customer?) to undergo a three-step moderated registration process?
And finally, 5) why is the website for " Publishing" at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What's in a Name?

I will admit that I wandered across this article and noticed that the journalist was remarking, with some horror, that some one thought her name sounded like a romance author's name. Blah, Blah, romance is crap, etc. It's not like that is a new tune.

But I found the general point of the piece interesting, that women may lose something by taking their husbands name when they marry. For example she referred to (but doesn't bother to name or cite, I think it's this one) a study suggesting that women who retain their maiden name earn more money and are perceived as more ambitious and less caring.

The comments on this article sink it to an even lower level with gems such as "Funny how women have no problem with a man spending half is salary on a diamond ring... yet feminists can't be asked to show the same kind of commitment" and "I have always thought that any woman who thought taking her husband's name was a problem, was a misandric pig. Show some commitment to the marriage or don't get married at all."

I was trying to think of any romance novel that covered the post-nuptial naming issue, but drawing a blank. I guess it falls under prosaic but alienating issues most writers just prefer to leave ambiguous (like circumcised versus natural or do heroines carry condoms).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Poll Results

THIS WEEK: The epublisher I have bought the most romance/erotica ebooks from in the last year is:

LAST WEEK: literary agency refering clients to their own wholly owned epublisher is:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Online Puritans: Are Nipples the New Gay?

Almost every major online vendor or online bank has caused difficulty for the purveyor of erotica (and genres lumped into the same general category).  We had Amazon removing sales ranks from gay fiction and non-fiction (a.k.a. amazonfail).  Paypal has a spotty history when it comes to erotic, nude of gay material and Google checkout has similar policies.

The most recent... um, "front" on the battle to define what is decent or appropriate online seems to be the female nipple.  Facebook outlawed the nipple, drawing ire from breast-feeding advocates.  And now Steve Jobs has declared the iPad a nipple free zone.

The German press were astounded and the entire app for major newsmag Stern was taken down because it included a gallery of erotic photos, and Apple staff added pixelation to the sexy gals in the pdf edition of their magazine.  Now, I am not a huge fan of page-three-style girls but this is like the guy at the newstand covering their naughty bits with magic marker before selling them.  A bit presumptuous, no?

"Today they censor nipples, tomorrow it's editorial content," said a spokeswoman at Bild. Because Europeans take the right to bare boobies seriously--and I think they are right to do so.

I would make two points here. The first is that apps and e-magazines are not on the open internet--they are selected and downloaded by adult people for their personal use, just like print magazines. So when you have a proprietary format and device seizing enormous market share, banishing anything deemed adult is a very intrusive form of social engineering.

The second point is that a nipple is not sex. A nipple is a nipple. I may not want to see a pair next to the daily weather report but readers of the Stern do, and that's their choice. Conflating nudity with sex is the same as conflating gayness with sex. It is a kind of moral policing that is implicitly judgemental and insulting to a publication's creators and consumers.  It says 'people like them' should be ashamed for sullying iPads gleaming white online premises.

And if the Apple Empire they are willing to take on a magazine with the profile and circulation of Stern, small erotic romance epublishers haven't got a chance.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Is Romance Fiction ready for a Real Cougar?

With all the sexual liberation going on we are starting to see more 'older woman/younger man' fiction. But are we really going 'all the way'?

Many stories seem cougar-lite at best with a single digit age difference, kind of like calling a size 14 heroine 'BBW'. And, as I have previously mentioned, the women on the covers of Ellora's cave's cougar line look laughably youthful (IMHO cougar doesn't start 'til forty, although urban dictionary suggests 35 and Wikipedia agrees.... and those men don't exactly look like twinks either.)

And the reaction of commenters to Kick-Ass actor Aaron Johnson (19) and pregnant fiance direct Sam Taylor Wood (43) suggest that age-squick is still out there, although anti-sexism is valiantly trying to counteract it.  Especially telling is that notion that being a cougar is only okay if you are ridiculously hot.

When it comes to meaningless sex it seems a young hunk is fine to bed, but a wedding or parenting step-kids or motherhood or still being around when the gal hits 60 still seems a bit much for a mainstream readership, unless the age difference is essentially trivial.  But if this is true, where is the HEA?  Can anyone recommend a true cougar romance novel with a heroine over 40 or an age gap of at least 15 years?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Agents just wanna be publishers? [Diversion Books]

First we had Lori Perkins blurring the lines by referring authors she or others at her agency represented to an epublisher she co-owned. Now the Waxman Literary Agency is apparently starting their own epublisher (Diversion Books) which is releasing books written by their clients. Diversion Books opened quietly this March and is unrelated to the existing Diversion Press.

The similarity to the Ravenous Romance affair extends to the arrogance of the founders, in this case Scott Waxman: "I think because it emanates from my literary agency it gives us a unique perspective on what the authors need and want. Because we understand editorial development, rights, various genres and the everyday life of an author I believe it will provide a comfort level for writers."

That is, other epublishers presumably do not understand 'editorial development, rights, various genres and the everyday life of an author'. Puh-leeze. If blithe acceptance of an obvious conflict of interest is meant to be part of the brave new world of epublishing I want nothing to do with it.

Waxman is a very respected literary agency, but how long is that going to last? They wouldn't be the first to squander a big share of their reputation on an ill conceived money making project (Kirkus Discoveries, anyone? Harlequin Horizons?)

Linkin reports that Waxman also founded the short-lived epublisher "Live READS".

News via Romance Divas

See also:
On self-dealing <--recommended reading
It's Just Upsetting

How does this make sense?

The Strongest Start Novel Competition is advertised with the following blurb (emphasis added):

"We're looking for opening chapters that will create a burning need to find out what happens, how the characters turn out, how the novel resolves itself. The kind of start that gets an agent to call back, a publisher to show interest, and a reader to plunk down their hard earned money. Above all, give us three opening chapters that will keep us reading. The winner of the Strongest Start Novel Competition will be the writer who is judged to have the strongest three opening chapters. In addition, one winning writer will be selected from each of the three category competitions. Two runner-ups will be selected from the main competition as well as from each category competition."
The the main winner receives: "Self-publishing package, $500 cash, subscription to TheNextBigWriter Online Writing Workshop."

Because clearly if you have a book that would hook an agent or a publisher you should, um, self-publish it with Createspace....

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Google to Sell Ebooks

It seems that Google is going to sell ebooks through their controversial Google Books portal. It's specific strength would be the ability to suggest ebooks based on users search words.

In a perfect world this would be healthy competition for Amazon, or at least create a climate for others (like Borders) to grab a decent share of the ebook market. But Google has been trying to get their paws on out-of-print books for free--making them arguably even more hostile to authors interests that Amazon.

The ebookstore "Google Editions" is scheduled to open in June or July. And on the up side they do not plan top wed their ebook format to any specific website or device. But most of the details about pricing and publisher involvement/control are still very foggy

My overall response is not "yay!" or "boo!" but more along the lines of "meh". Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Diana Gabaldon really doesn't like fan-fiction

No I mean she really doesn't.

"’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf..."

Overall she makes some good points and is certain entitled to a strong opinion on the matter, which affects her directly. But one eyebrow inched up when I saw:

"...Ergo, including sex is by far the easiest way to get someone to look at something. I assume that that’s one of the reasons fan-fic authors so frequently write sex scenes or slash stories."

Okay, benefit of the doubt here. I will assume she specifies gay sex stories because they are more common in fanfiction.

"I wouldn’t like people writing sex fantasies for public consumption about me or members of my family—why would I be all right with them doing it to the intimate creations of my imagination and personality?"

But the dividing line between reality and fiction is feeling a little thin here. However her closing point is the most problematic even for authors who are not that bothered by fan-fic interfering with the lives of their fictional "family".

"If I learn about fan-fic and _don’t_ make any protest, I might at some point lose all control of what’s done with and to my characters. Practitioners could point to the fact that I knew about this stuff and didn’t object over a long period of time, ergo, I must think it’s OK...."

Her blog post has 502 comments. That's too many to even consider reading IMHO. No doubt I am just repeating what is in there....

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Requesting Sales Figures: Eternal Press

Some general warnings:
Preditor & Editors: "Not recommended."

The rumors about low sales:
Piers Anthony: "I have learned of royalties under $5 for a year."

A high kill fee being used to retain even low-selling books:
AbsoluteWrite: "Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00..."

BTW their listing at EPIC is seriously out of date.

I would like to request reports of sales for Eternal and Damnation Press, both erotic romance and other genres.

See also: