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E Publishers to the Rescue

images.jpgYesterday, I pulled up a review of an older book because I wanted to talk about one of my favorite anthology contributions written by Author Nicole Camden. One of the commenters, Charlene Teglia, asked what other works Camden had penned. Unfortunately, as Rosario, another commenter pointed out, Camden’s anthology contribution was her only published work.

Mrs. Giggles, another Camden fan, noted that she had emailed Camden on an annual basis to see what, if anything was new. I know that I visited Camden’s website in the early days to see what was new and there was nothing in the publishing pipeline despite Camden offering a snippet of work here or there. One can’t help but speculate that her writing simply didn’t fit the genre parameters NY as dictating at the time.


Author and commenter Teglia
noted that she, too, had hit a rough patch in writing and had stopped submitting. When questioned about this by Janine, one of my blogging partners, Teglia responded that she got back into the game, in part because she stumbled across Ellora’s Cave. Teglia now has 11 ebooks to her credit, 1 recently print published book from St. Martin’s Press, and a contract for more from Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, and St. Martin’s Press.

It’s no secret that it took a while for New York to catch onto the fact that extra steamy romances are in high demand. As Mrs. Giggles pointed out, Camden’s work was right before the epublishing renaissance and the rise of the stand alone ebook readers. Ellora’s Cave appeared to be the savior of authors like Teglia who has catapulted herself into mainstream with a nice contract from venerated publisher, St. Martin’s Press, publisher of Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich.

It’s not a put down for me to say that epublishers are launching pads for authors. It allows authors to establish an audience with something that might be too outre or less conventional for the print publishers of the day. It’s not to say that the ebook offerings are less strong than the print offerings. One of my favorite e published authors is Anya Bast but I was disappointed in her Berkley offerings. I’ve heard others say that Lora Leigh’s stronger work is her Ellora’s Cave offerings with Elizabeth’s Wolf being considered her best work to date.

I’ll be the first in line to buy Camden’s books if she goes the epublished route and hope that more authors see epublishing as a viable alternative for their work. Romance is less without Camden. It would be less without Teglia. It would be less without a lot of authors for whom epublishers made writing for a living a possibility.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Sarah McCarty
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 05:56:33

    You are so right. Epublishing was a godsend to me. I was “on the verge” for many years and had standing invitations at about every house since the dark ages (pre big merge) but the plots of the stories the editors loved were “just a bit too different than what western historical readers had come to expect” from the genre. But when I tried to write what reader’s expected, (my advice to all aspiring authors: don’t waste time trying to do this) it was not stand out enough. Like Charlene, I quit writing for a bit out of sheer frustration, but when I came back, I came back smarter and started looking for an alternative market. I found Ellora’s, heated up the books and the rest is history.

    I have to say, though, even Ellora’s was hesitant as to whether WH would do well in what was predominantly a paranormal market, but small publishers are able to take bigger risks and they did. For which I will always be grateful.

    Now, I find NY is also open to wider variety of plots which makes me very happy as an author and a reader. I like being able to find a book to fit my mood, and I like not knowing quite what to expect when I open the cover. It keeps things fresh and my money going into publisher (e and NY) coffers.

  2. Teddy Pig
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 08:29:47

    It's not a put down for me to say that epublishers are launching pads for authors. It allows authors to establish an audience with something that might be too outre or less conventional for the print publishers of the day. It's not to say that the ebook offerings are less strong than the print offerings. One of my favorite e published authors is Anya Bast but I was disappointed in her Berkley offerings. I've heard others say that Lora Leigh's stronger work is her Ellora's Cave offerings with Elizabeth's Wolf being considered her best work to date.

    Some of my favorite books the ones on what you might call my keeper shelf are titles that had a long hard road in getting published. Some like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Catch Trap did, after the author had proven themselves through other titles, and did not remain in print for long and faded back into obscurity.

    I think ePublishers short circuit this battle, they break the rules, they ignore the morality plays. They take chances where traditional publishers will not and in doing so I hope they are well compensated for it.

    The fact is that they are now printing the books I have bought to place on that keeper shelf. Treva Harte’s Alpha series, Lora Leigh Elizabeth’s Wolf, Joey Hill’s Natural Law, all of Shelly Laurenston’s, JL Langley’s and Ally Blue’s books, Samantha Kane’s Brothers In Arms series.

    Frankly I am buying less and less traditional press offerings unless they happen to be works from ePublished authors that I know and love. Because I have become willing to take chances buying Samhain, Loose-Id or EC’s latest, more than I ever did with paperbacks or hardcovers, and falling in love with the new writers.

    Funny how that is working, probably freaks those NY people out. In fact I am sure it freaks a lot of people in the business. Especially when I hear of things like publishers now making offers directly to some eBook writers since their work is right there on the internet available to anybody to buy (You do not even have to wait for delivery.) and proven to be enjoyed.

  3. Gennita Low
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 08:49:48

    Back in 1997, I was trying to sell what is now called “kick-ass” heroines and was told my heroine was too “outside the box” (the favorite phrase then) and that my voice was too “male.” I was about to give up writing the more erotic type of spy-fi that I enjoyed for more conventional themes when I got the Call in 2002. The editor was looking for a “tough heroine who didn’t need to be rescued all the time,” and was excited with my submission.

    At that time, I was also just starting to explore the new world of e-publishing because I couldn’t let go of what I really wanted to write. Timing plays such an important role in the world of publishing. It only took them five years to catch up with me. Heh.

  4. Ann Bruce
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 09:31:54

    PW: No Room for ‘Edgy’

    The gist of the article is:

    “[T]he harsh facts of book publishing…: it follows-‘rather than sets-‘the trends. Every editor and publishing executive talks about wanting to be “edgyâ€? or having an author with a “unique voiceâ€? but only if there’s already a proven market for such edgy books with unique voices.”

  5. Charlene Teglia
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 10:00:01

    Like Gennita, I was writing a little ahead of the curve. When I found Ellora’s Cave, I was amazed. HERE was where all the books I wanted to read had been hiding! I didn’t think I was hot enough for EC, but I figured what the heck, give it a shot…It’s very hard to argue that epublishing doesn’t build careers when so many authors go from there to bestsellerdom in print. (Most recently, Joey Hill, Anya Bast and Jaci Burton have all hit lists.) But beyond that, it gives those who don’t quite fit the mold a chance to find their voice and their audience. I will always be glad I took a chance on ebooks and that my epublishers took a chance on me.

  6. Jessica Inclan
    Aug 12, 2007 @ 11:24:44

    I wish there wasn’t such a fuss about e publishing, and it’s not just romance or women’s fiction where it causes a stir. Frankly, if you can get your voice out there and there are people to read your work in whatever form–that’s great.

    I’ve never published a longer work in e format, and I do not read much online or on one of those nifty readers due to constant multi-tasking (reading on the stairmaster for one), but if it allows for more people to be published and more readers to get what they want, what is the problem?

    Slighty related:

    It isn’t on the Harper’s web site yet, but check out the essay by novelist Heidi Julavits about publishing titled “The Writers in the Silos.” Sept. issue. A funny and sad look at the way publishing is going. In the same issue is a hilarious esay by Ursual K. LeGuin titled “I Know What You Read Last Summer,” which was written in response to a critic Ruth Franklin’s “criticism” of Michael Chabon’s writing “genre” fiction. Franklin wrote: “Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandonded it.” Ursula let her HAVE it!

    Jessica

  7. Jaci Burton
    Aug 13, 2007 @ 06:38:13

    E-publishing launched my career, where I remained, quite happily, for many years. I had been targeting some of the NY pubs, but my writing just didn’t fit there at the time. Thankfully there was a place for those of us who wrote just a little differently or a bit hotter than NY was ready for back then, and allowed me to expand my horizons and really stretch my creative muscles. I’m forever grateful that I can continue to be allowed to play outside the box. There’s a sweet freedom in epublishing that isn’t found elsewhere and an expanding audience that’s smart and savvy. I like it. :-)

  8. Jules Jones
    Aug 13, 2007 @ 11:17:00

    I’m certainly grateful for epublishing. My books sell well enough to qualify me for PAN membership of RWA, but at the time my books were picked up by Loose Id, there weren’t any NY houses accepting gay romance aimed at women. For that matter, there were very few epublishers accepting it, though that’s changed rather a lot in the last three years.

  9. Heather
    Aug 13, 2007 @ 11:19:25

    I really need to get used to reading e-books. I have nothing against them inherently; I just find it a bit easier and more comfortable to read a book I can easily hold in my hands. There are so many nifty e-books I’d like to read, though, so… time to get over that!

  10. BevL(QB)
    Aug 13, 2007 @ 11:39:40

    No matter what they may or may not be doing now, I’ve said repeatedly that Tina Engler through Ellora’s Cave and Kathyrn Falk through Romantic Times Magazine will always deserve some admiration and respect from me because EC, with RT’s support, managed to change the entire publishing industry.

    Geesh, remember when NY’s definition of erotic romance was Bertrice Small (whom I ADORE, btw), then they stuck their toe in the water and signed some ebook authors but made them tone down the erotica. I actually used to be disappointed when an ebook author signed with NY because I knew their mass market wasn’t going to be as good as their ebooks! Now, more and more mass market books labeled as Erotic Romance actually ARE as erotic as ebooks.

    BTW, am I the only one that gets a thrill watching an ebooks author’s growth as she perfects her craft from ebook to ebook and often on to mass market? I absolutely ENJOY following a writer from her first e-release. A few examples: Jaci Burton, Shiloh Walker, Cheyenne McCray

  11. RfP
    Aug 13, 2007 @ 15:22:33

    a hilarious esay by Ursual K. LeGuin titled “I Know What You Read Last Summer,� which was written in response to a critic Ruth Franklin's “criticism� of Michael Chabon's writing “genre� fiction. Franklin wrote: “Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandonded it.� Ursula let her HAVE it!

    Actually I don’t think Franklin was criticizing Chabon or genre fiction at all. If you read the rest of her review, in my opinion she’s clearly anti- the ghettoization of genre fic. Le Guin clarified on her website that
    “The rest of Ruth Franklin’s review of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is quite thoughtful, generally positive, and not dismissive of his longing to destroy phony divisions between “genre” and ‘literature.’ I just couldn’t resist the all too familiar image of her first sentence.”

    It’s a minor point in this discussion, but I didn’t want Franklin’s review in Slate to add to the “body count” of reviewers slagging genre. I think this is a case of a major review that disses the artificial literary-genre fiction divide–I was delighted with it.

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