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What Is the Future of E Publishing?

076450781801mzzzzzzz.jpgLast week I made a few statements that conflated fetish fiction publishing with shady fly-by-night publishing. As Emily Veinglory pointed out on her blog, this really isn’t an appropriate charge. The conflation of unsucrupulous publishing and the content of the publishing matter was wrong and I apologize for that. A house that does publish what I term fetish fiction can still be an ethical place of business.

I do wonder, though, what the next five years of e-publishing will hold. Will epublishing be about the margins of erotica and erotic romance? Will it be about niches that fill gaps in mainstream publishing? Will houses like Samhain, Loose ID, Amber Quill Press become major players in the publishing market because of the rise of ebooks? I think that e publishing is at a crossroads.

It was about eight years ago that Tina Engler started Ellora’s Cave. It started to take off in 2003 with a reported $1.2 million in revenues. With seemingly no start up revenue, Engler turned an e publishing business into a multi-millionaire dollar concern. There was no question that once that news got out, the erotic romance publishing industry ramped up.

Now, though, it appears that the erotic romance marketing is leveling off. For one thing, e-authors have been leaving in droves for New York. First it was authors like MaryJanice Davidson, Lora Leigh followed by authors such as Shiloh Walker, and Anya Bast. More recently Lauren Dane and Lorelie James got signed to NY houses. Angela James lamented that pretty soon she’ll have no one else to edit because the NY publishers have razed her stable of authors. Secondly, erotic romance isn’t selling what it used to. Donald Maass of the Donald Maass Literary Agency commented in an interview that Erotica is selling half what is was before. At the RWA conference this summer, Jessica Faust indicated that success and sales for an erotic romance author is capped.

It seems the current focus of e-publishers is to find the books with the most kink and even some books seem to be straining for the kink. A recent EC blurb had my reviewing group turning on its head to decipher whether there was sex between a sister and a brother and a friend or a sister setting up the brother and a friend. There was another lovely ebook titled “Double Entry.” As I forwarded the blurb to the DA reviewing group, I commented that it didn’t even need a blurb, the title was so explicit in itself. I understand that sex sells but surely sex isn’t the only thing that sells. Or that the only market in epublishing is increased kink or filling the niches that mainstream epublishers like Samhain and even EC won’t serve.

Why not take a tack like Harlequin Historicals and choose different time settings. Instead of seeing how many orifices on one woman can be filled and how close in sanguinity her partner is, why not explore different time periods like the Roman time (which was purportedly a time of orgies), the Edwardian time (early 20th C). Why not different locations like Russia, the Far East, Central America? What happened to the Mayans, the generals in the army of Alexander the Great, etc. etc.

There seems to be a ton of niche areas outside of fetish fiction that can be explored yet instead of finding new locales, new fantasy regions, new whatever. Instead, the majority of new epublishers seem to find the niche in epublishing to be selling more and more outre erotic content.

Belgrave House publishes regencies. It buys out of print books, scans them in, and publishes them in e-form. I noticed that Joan Wolf’s old regencies are being picked up which is great because some of her best work was published under the Signet Regency line. Belgrave House has a niche. Niche does not necessarily mean doing something kinkier than the person before. It’s carving out an area that no one else does really well, and doing it very well. If it is kink, fetish fiction, or erotic romance for the margins of the romance reading public, then so be it. But surely that isn’t the only ebook market out there.

As I sit here at the end of 2007, I wonder what lies ahead in e-publishing? Will epublishing eventually push an ereader like myself and my blogging partner, Jayne, out of the e-market because the niches are for erotic romance margins? Or will it also serve mainstream romance readers who yearn for something different than what the NY houses choose to put out there?

I am hopeful that there will be room for everyone, but I see epublishing contracting rather than expanding, particularly as NY gets in the epublishing game.

Next week: Jayne and I put together a top 10 ebooks of 2007 list.

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

62 Comments

  1. Jenyfer Matthews
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 04:17:52

    I’d really like to know the answer to this one. For my part, I hope that with all the hype that Amazon Kindle is getting that more people will become aware that ebooks exist at all and there will be more growth in the mainstream fiction ebook market (romance, mystery, sci/fi, etc) A selfish wish since my publisher Cerridwen is a mainstream imprint – but also a wish for the reader in me who is rapidly becoming overly attached to my ebookwise reader.

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  2. Rebecca Goings
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 04:32:43

    Not all epublishers are going for the fetish fiction. There is definitely some racy stuff out there, but you can find the houses that don’t publish it. Case in point, Champagne Books (www.ChampagneBooks.com) publishes some GREAT ebook romances that have nothing to do with “double entry”, M/M, orgies, menages, or high levels of kink.

    In fact, it’s rather refreshing to know that when you shop there, you’ll get a good “normal” romantic read, rather than feeling like you’re reading a book about three (or more) people playing erotic nekkid Twister. (With or without their kinky twin brother.) LOL

    ~~Becka

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  3. Robin
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 06:57:32

    To some degree, I think the observation behind your query is that many Romance authors seem to view ebooks still as a step to NY print publishing — that is, as a start rather than a finish. And that, by and large, these are more mainstream authors. So what will happen: will epublishing simply bring in new talent to the industry only to pass on a certain percentage to NY print pubs, or will it become a diverse and robust publishing environment on its own, or will it become the place to find fiction at the margins, whether that be fetish books or other things traditional print houses won’t take on?

    And, while we’re at it, what’s the future of print publishing going to be vis a vis Romance? Will the conglomerate model still prevail, or will some new small presses break through?

    Some of this depends on the authors, I think (do they see epublishing as an end in and of itself), some of this depends on the fiscal viability of epublishers (are they really building a business and not trying to get themselves and their friends published), and some of it depends on the vagaries of market forces and technological trends (will more readers acclimate to ebooks).

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  4. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 07:20:34

    I agree that the wild frontier days of erotic romance are over. I also agree it’s a capped market for straight erotica and the authors that survive the coming fall out from NY’s over buying of inventory the last couple years (which always happens in a “hot” new genre) will likely be those that have strong cross genre appeal.

    Epublishing, IMO, has grown to the point that it is now acceptable enough that it has to not only conform more to traditional standards to compete, but it has to up its game a bit in some areas. Used to be because of the uniqueness of the product, readers were willing to make exceptions for the venue when it came to product quality. But now, as one can buy erotica and erotic romance anywhere and New York has pushed into the e market, I think readers are becoming a bit more critical. When EC first started, they couldn’t produce enough books and poor Tina was writing under three names to meet demand as they added new authors. Now, there are so many choices, readers can get their needs met and be selective while doing it. The niche that only EC once filled no longer exists. It’s been absorbed into the traditional market.

    This is good. It’s a sign of a viable market maturing, but I think for e-houses, it’s changing the game. There’s actually no reason e houses should lose their authors so completely to NY. The emarket is tiny comparatively, but it’s a strong market and they are in a position to offer contract terms that reflect the advantages of their market to entice authors to keep writing for them. While there is absolutely no E house that can compete in any way with a NY house in terms of exposure and ability to exploit rights to the author’s advantage (In this size does matter), the e-market is an equally strong and attractive market for authors in its own way and what I think will eventually happen is E houses will learn to capitalize on the strengths of their market and make their contracts more favorable so NY pubbed authors will see e-house as another opportunity to investigate. This will be good because every house whether it be NY or E needs a good mix of authors, established, mid list and up and coming to be ride the fluctuations of the market.

    Basically, I’m a firm believer that both markets offer something unique and over time that will settle out to a middle ground that works for house, author and reader.

    Oh, and fwiw, down the road I don’t think E pubs will continue to do print so much. The traditional distribution structure is brutal on cash flow and the likelihood of garnering enough shelf space in this shrinking market to stay in the black will be slim for a small press.

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  5. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 07:43:36

    My guess as to how technology will influence the current market. Mass Market paper back version of books will gradually disappear. Trade paperback, ebook and audible will release at the same time and replace the mass market format. Hard back will continue in it’s current form.

    Just my guess.

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  6. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 08:31:38

    M/M, orgies, menages, or high levels of kink

    I just cherish Hallmark moments like this and having teh ghey lumped in with all that nasty immoral A-B-NORMAL sex. I think I will go get some coffee and read something about werewolves since this does not look good.

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  7. Charlene Teglia
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 08:40:28

    I can say that as long as epublishers offer a viable market for odd lengths or fun subject matter that isn’t hot in NY (for instance, I love aliens; NY is not so hot on SF romance), I will continue to produce ebooks. My epublishers have thus far not said no to aliens, vampires, werewolves, Vikings, time travel, or precognition. They’ve also said yes to mainstream romantic comedies.

    I do think you see a lot of what’s outside the mainstream in ebooks, or have so far, because ebook readers tend to be outside the mainstream. There may not be enough appeal for a 60,000 book print run with a romantic comedy, but there are still readers who want them.

    Extreme kink will have a very limited audience regardless of format.

    As far as the erotic market being overserved, I think most of us saw that coming two years ago. It’s a viable market and it isn’t going away. But I think it’ll come down to “real” market numbers as things adjust.

    It will be interesting to see how things change!

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  8. sherry thomas
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 09:31:14

    Somewhat off-topic, but I was struck by this line from the interview with Donald Maass, it’s part of his “Wish List”

    A literary romance with a heroine for all time and a tragic ending, written by a man.

    That just rubs me wrong in all kinds of ways.

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  9. Terri Schaefer
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 10:11:04

    The one thing that I’ll always cherish about e-books is the chance to write (or read) a great book that NY didn’t feel comfortable taking a chance on for “shelving” reasons. I write books under my “mainstream” name that get interest from the bigger publishers, but in the end can’t be shelved under a particular category because they cross genre lines.

    E-pubbing gives me the opportunity to continue to write the books of my heart, and as an author, isn’t that the whole point? Yeah, I want to make enough money to quit the day job, and to that end I’ll always continue to try and break into the bigs, but if I never do, at least I know I’ve found a home with places like Samhain and Liquid Silver.

    The reading variety and quality of both houses, as well as the evidence of long-term business plans, make me confident that they’ll be around for a long, long time.

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  10. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 10:12:16

    I was gonna say Sherry that out of all those books Donald Maass listed out as stuff he was looking for… none of it sounded like anything I would want to read and some of those “original ideas” sounded vaguely like things that had already been done in sci-fi/fantasy and bombed.

    I think the small eBook Publishers will keep going strong as long as they are not providing exactly what the mainstream presses are already dumping in the mainstream readers lap. I think that sex sells and well written sex sells even better which is why all those mainstream readers bought El Lora’s Cave when they first started and will buy from anyone providing a quality product that is doing something different.

    I see ePubs like Belgrave House going away faster than the original content driven niche erotic market since Belgrave relies on out of print backlist from the mainstream presses and I think those will dry up once the mainstream presses “get” what the eBooks can do and start mining their archived out of print backlist.

    I think the whole Simon & Schuster contract issue warned about by The Authors Guild shows these guys are becoming aware of what all this means and are leveraging towards no more out of print books by way of eBooks. Original content becomes wealth on-line at least.

    I am much more concerned about the lack of standards that hurt a writer. Not continued judging of the morality of the content of the eBook or questioning the taste of the reader.

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  11. Alison Kent
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 11:02:21

    Maas’s full quote from the interview is:

    Erotica is selling half what it did a year or two ago. (If you read it you'll know why.)

    How do you interpret the second half of his comment? As in, do you think he’s also referring to the authors straining for the kink / fetish fiction factor?

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  12. Lorelei James
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 11:16:53

    Just a quick clarification – my sale to NY wasn’t as author Lorelei James – but as author Lori Armstrong. I write erotic contemporaries for Samhain (Angela James is my editor there and no relation to me) and I write pure hard-boiled mystery for Medallion Press and now Touchstone/Fireside.

    The more kink you read, the more kink you want – I find that best describes my reading style when it comes to erotica. Never thought I’d enjoy reading M/M, let alone writing it, but god help me, I do. Supply and demand. And as an erotic author, I like to push the envelope. Not to shock, but to find the characters boundaries and my own. I would never buy a book that’s fetish focused or incestuous, but it is not my job to judge the folks that read, write or publish it. Obviously people like those things since they’re selling. Is it crap? Is it any worse than some of the stuff on the shelves that NY publishers are putting out that’s ‘safe’? No. I’m just happy there are places like Samhain who are willing to go along for the ride.

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  13. Michelle
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 12:51:43

    One thing that I think some people miss that carrry the banner push the envelope (kink) at all cost is that when it comes down to it-the story is what matters. If someone comes up with an idea for a story first-character development, good plot and kink plays a role that is a whole different ballgame than someone who starts with wanting to put in x amount of sex acts/kink and tries to then come up with plot and characters as fillers.

    If you would remove all the erotica or kink and be left with a good book then that is what will last and sell.

    I posted something similar on Karen’s blog and got some authors’ panties in a bunch. Some authors write good stories with kink/erotica out there while some people just write whatever is in fashion at the moment and the story/plot suffers.

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  14. veinglory
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 13:36:04

    I think the point is that it is a good story and the sexual content in integral to it–so if it was removed you *wouldn’t* have a good story. Good erotic romance is not a good story with sex added, it is a good story at least partly about or told through sex.

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  15. lisabea
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 13:52:30

    I just cherish Hallmark moments like this and having teh ghey lumped in with all that nasty immoral A-B-NORMAL sex. I think I will go get some coffee and read something about werewolves since this does not look good

    Coffee is on me, Teddypig.

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  16. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 14:11:49

    If you would remove all the erotica or kink and be left with a good book then that is what will last and sell.

    I totally disagree with this. In fact I think this is the key element that drives me nuts around many good Romance authors that write say wonderful Romance but crappy erotica.

    You cannot tack something like BDSM onto a story anymore and make it work. Shock value to sell a Romance is getting tired and I as a reader at least demand more than that. It has to fit, it has to make sense, it has to be believable, you cannot just tell me you have got to show me that these characters live this and understand the concepts and you have to sell me that the characters would actually do this.

    On top of that I hate it when not only is it tacked on by an inexperienced author who simply wants to sell more books but the characters actually dismiss it eventually judging it all as being somehow abnormal sexuality incompatible with their relationship. Preaching to the reader that their enjoyment of those scenes was bad… shame shame shame!

    BLAH! Parts is not parts. Good stories are not Mad Lib based tinker toys that you accessorize to fit the given hot market.

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  17. Bev Stephans
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 14:25:12

    I am trying to reconcile the fact that several authors that I really liked when they e-pubbed, have disappointed me with their NY Pub. offerings. It’s almost as if they were trying to impress NY with their writing and went off the track somewhere. Maybe they weren’t as good as I thought they were!

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  18. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 14:47:48

    It's almost as if they were trying to impress NY with their writing and went off the track somewhere. Maybe they weren't as good as I thought they were!

    I think comments from people like Donald Maass show just how mainstream publishers are creating our issue. I feel the same way as you do. I look at what the author has available in eBook form and wonder WTF happened? They hire these talented edgy popular eBook Writers and then pressure them not to rock the boat.

    Keep it all clean bland and safe. Oh, and make sure it is a series.

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  19. ilona andrews
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 14:48:25

    There is always room for excellence and if e-publishers succeed in attracting the right type of talent, I think they will persist. Yes, right now there is a lot of kinky stuff out there, but the market place is beginning to settle down and e-publishers which will fill precisely the type of niches Jane is describing will eventually evolve.

    It happened in print before; for example Night Shade Books , a small press publisher, puts out wonderful fiction in a beautiful format. They survive by not only “discovering” new authors, but by publishing works from established names, which for some or another reason don’t fit into larger publishers’ catalog. They put out limited quantities of collector editions, which are highly priced but still do sell out.

    Imho, e-publishers have something going for them that would keep them viable: greater flexibility.

    First, e-publishers permit an author to explore a subject matter NY doesn’t necessarily view as viable. It doesn’t have to automatically mean fetishism. A friend of mine has trunked a marvelous idea for Rome-themed romance, because her agent told her it would be a hard sell. I’d love to read it. E-book, print book, I don’t care. Gimme.

    Second, e-publishers offer the ability to put out a book of shorter word count. It is hard to sell a novella to NY unless there is some sort of anthology in the works, spearheaded by a BNA. And some ideas simply don’t fit into novel format. That’s a niche I don’t think NY will ever fill – it simply isn’t cost effective.

    (For example, I have two unfinished UF/paranormals sitting on my hard drive, because I know they will come in under 50K and no amount of filler would ever raise them to 90K. I probably won’t ever finish them. I can’t be the only idiot sitting there with unfinished novellas on her hard drive.)

    Third, e-books are cheaper. I went onto Samhain Publishing’s New Releases page and most new releases are priced at $5.50. I found stuff in the regular catalog that I would buy for $4.50. And I can pretty much have them instantly. Hard to beat that.

    So I don’t think e-publishers will go away. The field is evolving, and natural selection is taking place, but I think the readers will win out at the end.

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  20. Lauren Dane
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 15:14:20

    I have no plans to stop writing for Angie and Samhain. I enjoy writing for Samhain, they appreciate me, give me a lot of freedom, challenge me to write great stories and I have an excellent editor. These are things I value and I’m not tossing them aside.

    I think for a great many authors who started in epublishing, we’re not “trading up” we’re simply trying other things. My options narrow what I can do and where, yes, but I write for five different houses and at each house I write different kinds of things. That’s a wonderful thing for me.

    In truth, when I read Donald Mass’ comments about erotica and erotic romance, I just got the feeling it wasn’t his cup of tea. And whatever, lots of things aren’t lots of people’s cup of tea. But to equate your personal preference with a gauge for quality seems, well, irrational.

    All markets hit trend dumps when it seems like all you can find is X and then everyone proclaims they’re sick of X and it’s harder to sell X because editors declare X off limits. So three months later it’s Z that sells and the cycle begins anew.

    Erotic romance won’t go away. It fills a need. Readers like it. It’ll reach a balance and overall, that’s a good thing for all of us readers and authors alike because hopefully, the quality line stays high.

    Epublishers won’t go away either but I do think you’ll see a small group staying very successful with everything in between.

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  21. Michelle
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 15:22:54

    Teddy, I agree that some authors try to tack more sex or kink onto a story just because it is the in thing. But I still think good writing and good story will shine through. For example Morgan Hawke’s Interstellar Discipline-that has some serious kink/sex/BMSD but I love that book for the characters and the world building and the emotional connection. Take the kink out and you still have a powerful story-that is what I meant.

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  22. Footshooter
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 15:42:11

    I’m probably shooting myself in the foot here, as an epublished author, by admitting I don’t buy as many e-Books as I used to. Part of this is because, after a long drought of intriguing print titles, it seems like my To Be Read pile is overflowing, and print books eat up my budget faster than ebooks do. But the main factor is weariness with some of the trends epublishing has chosen to exploit. It’s not that I’m shocked or disgusted by threesomes, vampire/werewolf/mate!mate!mate! paranormals, or first-person urban fantasy narrated by unnecessarily snarky heroines. I’m just not interested. Been there, read that, don’t care to read it yet again.

    I think EC’s quality has suffered and their reliance on sexual gimmickry has increased since they doubled their weekly offering of new eBooks. I know there are still quality books in there, but, honest to gosh, I’m sick of wading through dreck to find them. If a book doesn’t come from an author I know and like, or with a recommendation from a reviewer I trust, I ain’t buyin’.

    Simply put, what I want is a good story. Not the same story, not a deliberately shocking story, not a story that aims for edgy by relentlessly pushing the boundaries of good taste–I want a good story. A good story can transcend my content preferences (though not my hard and fast objections) in the blink of an eye. BDSM doesn’t float my boat, but, man, that Joey W. Hill can write. Yaoi ain’t my thing, but Barbara Sheridan & Anne Caine’s books intrigue me.

    I do have some boundaries as to what I won’t read–rape, (tw)incest, pedophilia, bodily waste–and most of those boundaries are covered by the guidelines of the bigger epublishing houses. I also understand that my boundaries aren’t universal, and that part of the “risk-taking” ePubs do includes not just agressive trend-jumping, but picking up books that not everyone will like. That’s fine. I’ll pick and choose. I’ll buy what I want from epublishers I respect, and I’ll avoid what I don’t want.

    After all, there are readers who might find my stories objectionable. Let she who is without kink cast the first stone…

    As a reader, there are plenty of ebooks which, for reasons of content or quality, I simply don’t want to read. But as a writer, I appreciate the way epubs accept shorter formats, encourage genre-crossing, and take risks on stories that would confound NY pub marketing departments.

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  23. whey
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 15:54:05

    Champagne Books (www.ChampagneBooks.com) publishes some GREAT ebook romances that have nothing to do with “double entry”, M/M, orgies, menages, or high levels of kink.

    That’s good to know, since I won’t have to keep a track of this epublisher’s releases. (About 95% of buy e/book purchases are in the m/m genre. I just wish there was more m/m romance and less m+/m+ erotica. I like my ghey HEA.)

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  24. bettie
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 15:57:27

    A literary romance with a heroine for all time and a tragic ending, written by a man.

    That just rubs me wrong in all kinds of ways.

    Me to, Sherry. And, like Teddy, I didn’t see anything on that list that I wanted to read.

    In truth, when I read Donald Mass' comments about erotica and erotic romance, I just got the feeling it wasn't his cup of tea.

    Me, too, Lauren. Perhaps one of the reasons the bigger epubs have done as well as they have is because the publishers and editors genuinely like the genre, and thus have a better feel for it than those who are just out to make money.

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  25. Angie
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 16:13:32

    Bandwidth isn’t exactly a scarce resource right now, so I find it interesting, in a disturbing way, that the complaint is about what erotic publishers are publishing, rather than about what’s missing from the e-publishing end of the industry in general. No one’s stopping anyone from starting an e-press for historical romance with lines based on times and places NY doesn’t feel are marketable. But there’s no requirement for any of the erotica publishers to stop what they’re doing and change. They’re not using up all the internets or anything; there’s plenty of room for the non-erotic publishers to hop on board and do their thing. Complain to the (het) historical romance people about what they’re not doing, rather than complaining to the erotic publishers about what they are doing.

    Is there crap out there under the erotic romance umbrella? Of course there is. But there’s crap all over the bookstore shelves, too — tame, vanilla crap published in New York. Sturgeon’s Law will always apply to the publishing industry; no genre has a corner on the crap market, nor does any one entire genre deserve to be sneered at because of its lower tier.

    Teddy — exactly. [sigh] Every time I think we’re making some progress as a society, someone lumps m/m (and probably f/f) into the same bucket with kink and orgies and all that “nasty” stuff.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with kink or orgies; no one’s being forced to read it and those of us who enjoy a well written kink or orgy book certainly appreciate that there are stories out there for us to read too now. But there’s no reason why m/m or f/f should be considered any racier or edgier than m/f.

    And absolutely about the badly-done kink. [sigh] Whether it’s writers who don’t know what they’re doing spreading dangerously false info, or writers who have their characters “wake up” at the end of the story and decide that they don’t “need” all that nasty-icky kink after all, those are wall-bangers for me. I’m especially peeved with the spread of dangerous ignorance, though, because that could turn around and bite a lot of people. I posted a rant about it recently in two of my blogs because I think it’s an important issue. But I think you’re right that at least part of the cause of this is writers who don’t know much about kink and apparently don’t enjoy it at all (and certainly don’t understand what it’s all about) jumping on the kink bandwagon just because they want to be in on the hot new sales gimmick. :(

    Michelle and Teddy — I think you’re missing each other. It sounds like Michelle is saying that to be good, a kink story still has to be well-written, which I agree with. But it sounds like Teddy’s hearing Michelle say that all the “good” part of a kink story is apart from the kink itself, that you can remove the kinky bits as with an exacto knife and still have a “good” story left, which is incorrect. If you can remove the kink and still have a good story, then it’s not a good kink story, and IMO not a well-written story period. But I think [squint] that’s not what Michelle’s actually trying to say. Sorry if I’m misinterpreting one or both of you, but it seems to me that you wouldn’t actually disagree except for some miscommunication.

    Yes, you have to have three-dimensional characters and a coherent plot and a well-developed world, or the story won’t work whether it’s kinky or not. But the kink has to be an integral part of all three of those things or the book won’t work no matter how well done the rest of it is.

    Angie

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  26. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 16:21:50

    If you would remove all the erotica or kink and be left with a good book then that is what will last and sell.

    I actually agree with this, in general, although I’d word it a little differently… If you took out the sex/the kink, would it still be a viable, cohesive story with more than say 50-70 pages (assuming the book is roughly 100-150 pages long. Sex can’t be all, or even half the plot, in my opinion. It leaves little room for character development, plot development, etc.

    The sex in an erotic romance can’t drive the plot. It can be co-pilot, but it can’t be the plot. There has to be something outside the sex, something that causes the hero/heroine to fall in love. They don’t fall in love because of good sex, fantastic sex. So unless the hero and the heroine spend a decent amount of time NOT having sex, the story isn’t there.

    Right now, some of the erotic romance titles selling are just this, one sexual romp after another. Yes, it’s selling. But any of us who read blogs have seen the rumblings about content over the past year or so.

    From what I’ve seen, those who blog about romance, review it, talk about it online, tend to be a little more savvy, a little more discerning and generally on the cutting edge. They picked up on the hot romance trend a few years ago, the general reading public followed. They picked up on the big paranormal trend and the general readers followed. They were among the first to really talk up ebooks…and a little more of the general public is checking out ebooks, more new readers discovering it every month.

    My theory is that online bloggers and the passionate online readers are indicators are future trends. When I see bloggers and the passionate readers are getting a bored/tired/frustrated/irritated with current trends, I suspect that the general reading public will follow. The rumblings I hear in the online community, to me, indicate an apathy that will soon be present among general readers.

    I have absolutely no doubt that a shake down of both ebooks and erotic romance in general is coming. Whether it’s in 08, 09, 10, it will come. Those who want to still be standing when it’s done need to get a firm solid foundation under them now . They need to be known for writing good, quality stories…not just hot ones. Because the ones that just write hot, with little thought to plot, characterization, etc, are the ones that are going to fall first. Likewise, the publishers, e- and print, the ones that survive will be the ones known for quality.

    My advice to those just getting into epublishing would be take time to hone and polish your craft, tell a good story~don’t focus on breaking the rules so much because, IMO, when rule breaking is the writer’s focus, the story tends to suffer.

    “double entry”, M/M, orgies, menages, or high levels of kink.

    Teddy, I don’t necessarily think this was lumping M/M into some dirty little pool where all the nasties are thrown. But maybe I’m not looking at it from your standpoint. I’m looking at it from there are readers who do prefer nice, traditional romances, with a traditional HEA, no vamps, no handcuffs, and a hero and heroine. It’s a preference thing and people are entitled to have them without being pressured into thinking otherwise.

    Personally, I don’t care for M/M. storylines. They just don’t do anything for me. Just as I generally don’t care for westerns (both romance and the western genre), I don’t care for non-fiction, I don’t care for straight erotica, and I don’t care for biographies. This isn’t a slam against M/M…it’s just my preference.

    I love a good traditional romance. I love the ones with hot sex and a good story, but since sometimes that’s not always so easy to find anymore, I’ll take the nice and traditional and not worry about the hot so much.

    Problem is, with a lot of the current ebook offerings, it’s not always easy to find them. There’s a slew of vamps, shifters, menages, M/M, handcuffs, etc. They sell. So publishers want them, writers churn out what they hear is selling… and sadly, yeah, I do think churn is the right word for some, but in catering to the popular trends, many of the more traditional readers aren’t getting their reading needs met.

    Even in erotic romance, there’s a readership that simply want a good, hot contemporary, no handcuffs, no threesomes, no vamps or shifters, no bdsm, no M/M. But those aren’t as easy for the readers to find right now.

    For the record, I haven’t exactly left EC. No, I’m not writing for them as much but I do still have books scheduled with them, and with Samhain as well. I write fast. I always have. While I could probably write 4-6 full length books a year, Berkley isn’t going to buy that many from me… *G* at least not right now.

    Since I do write fast, writing for these three publishers fits my financial needs and my writing needs. I tend to veer more towards contemporary or suspense for my epubs, partially because my brain would get tired if I did nonstop paranormal, and because I think it fills a need that’s being left on the wayside with the current paranormal surge.

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  27. Angie
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 16:33:12

    I don't necessarily think this was lumping M/M into some dirty little pool where all the nasties are thrown.

    Shiloh — that might not be what was meant, but it’s certainly what was communicated, and to more than one person. I hope I just misunderstood, I really do. But we see that sort of lumping-together often enough, and it gets frustrating.

    No one’s saying anyone has to read m/m, or anything else they don’t want to read. I have my own likes and dislikes and preferences too, as everyone does, and that’s fine. I agree that people who like more traditional romances, and m/f, and HEA (which don’t have to always go together) should be able to find them, and that it’s a shame if they can’t. But this isn’t a box of fixed size, where adding one thing requires taking something else out.

    When it sounds like people are saying, “Get rid of that icky m/m, that perverted kink, so we can have more of our normal romances!” there’s an assumption being made that there have to be fewer of one thing before there can be more of another, and that’s just not the case, certainly not in e-publishing.

    If you like gentler het romances, then there should be more of them. That’s fine. But sometimes it looks like people who see their own preference pool shrinking are using kink or m/m as a scapegoat, which is depressing as well as not addressing the real problem.

    Angie

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  28. Rebecca Goings
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 16:40:38

    Teddy, I don't necessarily think this was lumping M/M into some dirty little pool where all the nasties are thrown. But maybe I'm not looking at it from your standpoint. I'm looking at it from there are readers who do prefer nice, traditional romances, with a traditional HEA, no vamps, no handcuffs, and a hero and heroine.

    Shiloh hit my point on the head. I did not mean for my words to offend, and if they did, I do apologize. I merely meant Champagne Books leans toward the more traditional end of the spectrum, not that I personally think kink, m/m, menages, etc are “icky.”

    I would never belittle anyone’s choice of reading material, and if I came across that way, again, I apologize.

    ~~Becka

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  29. Treva Harte
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 16:55:12

    So far print publishing is not e-book publishing. Print doesn’t do erotic romance or kink the way e-pubs do. (To be honest, most hot print stories tend to make me wonder what the fuss is about.) But if it sells for them, eventually print publishers will do the same kind of stories e-publishers do. I don’t see that happening in the near future but I’m quite sure they’ll give their market whatever it wants.

    That said, many of our gone-to-NY authors return and continue to write for Loose Id. I do think eventually authors choose one or the other kind of writing to concentrate on…as I said the markets and the writing are different and it’s hard to keep doing both of them well.

    Finally, I’ve always enjoyed the stories LI releases but I’m impressed with how the quality of the writing has improved over time. The competition is getting tougher here and,of course, an author learns from previous authors’ best stories. I do expect that to be a trend for the future.

    Treva Harte, EiC of Loose Id

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  30. Michelle
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 17:22:50

    Angie and Shiloh thanks for getting what I was trying to say. Of course if you remove the sex and the “kink” you won’t have the exact same story, or just as good a story. But you should have some good bare bones there, a plot, characters and an emotional connection. If all the story has is sex/kink I just don’t think it works as a “romance”-I am talking focusing on Romance and not straight Erotica. (Nothing wrong with that). I still think it needs to come down to a good story.

    I think when some authors start out with a gimmick and then try to work a story around the gimmick is where you lose out. Or if you just add kink/sex on as an afterthought-same thing you lose out on quality. It feels to much like jumping on the bandwagon.

    (For non-erotic M/M-Lynne Flewellings’ Nightrunner series is very good-it is under fantasy)

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  31. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 17:35:07

    >>I do think eventually authors choose one or the other kind of writing to concentrate on…as I said the markets and the writing are different<<

    Now, this I wouldn’t say is necessarily true. I can think of many authors who write the same for both markets and are successful in both markets. I think there exists a perception that it must be different, but I don’t think the reality bears that out. Especially when one considers it’s the same audience buying in both markets.

    If an author chooses one over another it’s likely other motivations rather than a “Here I must write like this” and “There I must write like that” edict. I write for four imprints at two NY houses and am epublished and while this is admittedly anecdotal evidence, I’ve never experienced any editor telling me “It’s different here.”

    I have, however, made choices based on other issues.

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  32. Angela James
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 17:56:55

    More recently Lauren Dane and Lorelie James got signed to NY houses. Angela James lamented that pretty soon she'll have no one else to edit because the NY publishers have razed her stable of authors.

    Just to be clear in case someone thought I was actually lamenting, my post wasn’t meant to be serious, but more tongue-in-cheek. The majority of our authors who sign with NY still write for us, though there are, of course, those who don’t for various reasons. And we’ve also had several authors who started in NY who branched out to epublishing with us.

    (For example, I have two unfinished UF/paranormals sitting on my hard drive, because I know they will come in under 50K and no amount of filler would ever raise them to 90K. I probably won't ever finish them. I can't be the only idiot sitting there with unfinished novellas on her hard drive.)

    Heh. Good length for epublishing. And it can still go to print ;)

    Speaking for myself, one thing I wish more authors would consider epublishing for (and Samhain in particular, duh) is as a viable place to finish a series that a NY publisher has decided, for some reason, they no longer can publish. I mean, how many times have you heard you’re (as a reader) not going to get the end of a series because the publisher doesn’t want it? Now, epublishing can’t offer the advances or the same exposure, but so many times I’ve heard an author say “it’s finished but the publisher doesn’t want it, I would love to be able to finish this series for my fans.” Really? In that case, it’s not really doing the author any good sitting under the figurative bed, as Ilona mentioned above. Why not publish it through an epublisher, spread some fan goodwill and make some money while you’re at it? I can think of some authors, from my reader perspective, who I’d love to see do that, even if it wasn’t with Samhain but just because I want to read the end of that series/trilogy.

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  33. Angie
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:05:45

    Or if you just add kink/sex on as an afterthought-same thing you lose out on quality.

    Michelle — oh, absolutely. [nod] In fact, IMO this is true for any kind of romance, straight or gay, vanilla or kink or what-have-you.

    I read a book recently which was about a novelette’s worth of story padded out with pointless sex (lots of pointless sex) to novel length. This book was by a popular author but I was disappointed, and I’ll think hard before buying another one of this person’s books. I know a lot of people are in it mainly for “teh sexx0rz!!” and that’s cool, but I’m not one of them. If there’s no point to a particular sex scene — if it doesn’t further the plot or show characterization or develop a relationship or something — then I start skimming and don’t start reading again until the actual story starts up again.

    My favorite stories-with-sex fully integrate the sex scenes, though, so that there is some point to each one besides just “Wow, sex!”

    Which doesn’t mean that books with wall-to-wall sex-for-the-sake-of-sex shouldn’t be published. :) But I’d appreciate it there were some way of indicating when this was the case, so that I can go for the plot-heavy books and people who are into lots of sex can easily find it.

    And I think that’s really the point — doing our best as an industry to try and make sure that everyone has the kinds of books they like to read available, and that there’s some quick and simple way of telling whether this particular book is or isn’t the kind one wants to read.

    I can think of some authors, from my reader perspective, who I’d love to see do that, even if it wasn’t with Samhain but just because I want to read the end of that series/trilogy.

    Angela — me too, and I think this is a great idea. [nod] In cases like that, there’s a built-in audience and it probably wouldn’t take a terribly huge marketing campaign to make the readers of the series/trilogy aware that the next book(s) are available at http://www.whatever.com.

    Angie

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  34. Karen Scott
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:09:55

    I just cherish Hallmark moments like this and having teh ghey lumped in with all that nasty immoral A-B-NORMAL sex.

    Hey Teddy, that comment was very Monica Jackson-like of you. *g*

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  35. Marianne McA
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:10:00

    Thought the Donald Maass list of romances they would like to see was thought provoking.

    What would an ‘inspirational paranormal’ look like? Would it be a Philip Pullman/Meljean Brook kind of thing – where you’ve a paranormal world with some concept of heaven? Or do traditional miracles count as ‘paranormal’?

    And I can’t quite imagine ‘A time travel romance in which both protagonists travel through the ages-’and never meet’.
    I could see it working as a book – there was a very clever series on TV (Duck Soup, I think it was called) recently that had a hero and heroine, both looking for love and perfect for each other, who never quite met – but it was perhaps more comedy than romance. Can you love someone you never met?

    And why time travel?

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  36. DS
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:34:05

    Because Philip Pullman is notably an atheist, I think the idea of him writing a paranormal is– fascinating. Not a dig at atheists by the way. I’m just trying to figure out how this would work.

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  37. Angie
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:38:58

    DS — it’s just like a religious person writing a fantasy. :) You don’t have to believe something is true to learn the rules and tell a story which uses them. I’m an atheist and one of my recent releases was a ghost story where there’s a confirmed afterlife; it’s just like writing about any other mythos.

    Angie

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  38. Treva Harte
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 18:49:36

    M/M, orgies, menages, or high levels of kink

    I just cherish Hallmark moments like this and having teh ghey lumped in with all that nasty immoral A-B-NORMAL sex. I think I will go get some coffee and read something about werewolves since this does not look good.

    Now, now, don’t fret. I believe any sex can be A-B-NORMAL and kinky and immoral if you write it right.

    Treva

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  39. Jen
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 19:10:36

    If you like gentler het romances, then there should be more of them. That's fine. But sometimes it looks like people who see their own preference pool shrinking are using kink or m/m as a scapegoat, which is depressing as well as not addressing the real problem.

    I think this comment really hits the nail on the head, because as a reader, I have seen my preference pool shrink markedly over the past two years. There was a time when I would buy 3-4 books from EC a week; now, I actually can’t remember the last time I bought a book from them. I don’t even check their site on new release days any more. To some degree, Loose ID and Samhain have stepped in to fill the gap, but the upshot is that I don’t buy nearly as many ebooks as I used to.

    From Jane’s post, it’s clear that I’m not the only reader of mainstream romance/ romantica who feels increasingly alienated from the ebook market nowadays, and I wonder if that’s sound business practice for the industry as a whole. Granted, I don’t know what the sales numbers look like. Maybe the demand for and sales of M/M and M/M/F romance far outweigh my lost business, in which case, more power to those epublishers who capitalize on that demand.

    I want to stress that I have nothing against M/M, M/M/F, BDSM, etc, and would not classify them as abnormal. But they’re still not my preference (I would buy M/F/F, but those books are very few and far between), and seeing my reading choices shrink so much is really frustrating. So I can only second Jane’s call for historicals with more diverse settings (why don’t these exist anyway? Are publishers unwilling to accept them, or are authors loath to do the research necessary to write a credible romance set in, say, ancient Rome?).

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  40. K. Z. Snow
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 19:11:28

    Regardless of all the kvetching and wishing and crystal-ball gazing being done by reader-bloggers, agents, editors, and reviewers, the frustrating bottom-line is this: erotic romance is still far and away e-publishing’s most profitable genre. Period. Good writing, crappy writing, strong plots and characterization or lack thereof, people still gobble it up. And gobble and keep gobbling.

    Those of us who’ve produced books in a variety of genres/subgenres are keenly aware of this. Ellora’s Cave titles far outsell the mainstream fiction (much of it quite superb) offered by EC’s sister company, Cerridwen. I suspect the same is true at Samhain–at least, I know that’s been the case for me. I’ve also had an ambitious fantasy languishing at yet another e-pub for two or three years; it will never earn what a plot-thin EC Quickie can bring in over the course of thirty days.

    So…e-publishing’s output is all about what readers buy. And that’s the name of that tune.

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  41. veinglory
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:13:50

    Exactly. I think m/f, f/f or sweet writers are now in the unusual situation of having to be better than the m/m, menage and kink fic to get a spot on the schedule. For a long time it was the other way around. The market is fluctuating but there are epublishers out there aiming specifically at historical, sweet or even inspy niches. More power to them :) It is a pull economy and so if people want it smart publishers should come up with a supply.

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  42. Kristina Cook
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:14:41

    I’m happy to report that Kensington, too, is willing to take chances on some unglutted time periods–I just sold three Edwardian-set romances to them (though I’ll be writing them under another name). Just thought I’d mention this since you specifically mentioned Edwardian! I think it’s a good sign that NY is expanding its definition of ‘historical.’

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  43. Charlene Teglia
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:19:13

    Hey Snow, an EC Quickie does not have to be plot-thin. Just sayin’. *g* No, it’s not what you can develop in 100,00 words, but it can still have a tight plot that fits the length.

    And I do have to say that some of what constitutes good writing is subjective. One person’s keeper is another’s wallbanger. There are books I cannot see the appeal of for the life of me but there are readers that love them. Which brings up what I see as a major strength of epublishing: variety. Epublishers can afford to offer more variety, something for every taste. An ebook can be profitable without selling as many copies as a print book would have to sell to break even.

    Really, I think epublishing and print/big NY publishing are very complementary.

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  44. Sara Dennis
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:58:40

    Just chiming in to say: K.Z. Snow, you are 100% correct.

    I have a few books completed that NY has passed on. I know there are readers out there that would enjoy them. I ponder, from time to time, giving them to an epublisher to see if they would sell. What holds me back?

    Commercial and capitalist as it sounds, it’s that I know they’re not going to make me money. I’ve watched my own figures. When one Quickie written for EC earns more in two weeks than five books that are non-erotic do in a year+ of release? Yeah. That gets depressing and discouraging.

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  45. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:59:35

    So…e-publishing's output is all about what readers buy. And that's the name of that tune.

    KZ, I think the issue is that many of the die hards, those who used to buy and gobble up every single erotic romance out there… AREN’T. Yes, there are plenty who do, but the number isn’t as big as it used to be, and part of that problem is quality, and for some readers, the lack of choice. Choice as in more than just paranormal, vamps, shifters, M/M, menage… or all of them wrapped up in one, with a thin plot thrown in and little attention paid to characterization, etc. There are plenty of readers dying for more contemps, more comedic romances, more historical.

    From some of the grumblings I’ve seen or been told from some erotic romance authors, sales are down.

    I’ve heard rumors from trustworthy sources in the know that as many erotic romances aren’t being bought from NYC.

    I seen rumblings on sites that a year ago were very ebook friendly that ebooks just aren’t what they used to be…or in some cases, they are exactly what they used to be, not evolving, not improve. Growth, and I’m not talking dollars, is essential. Craft can never stop improving. When it does, readers get bored…or at least, this reader does.

    Yes, that hot stuff sells. But erotic romance is a trend. Those who write quality can survive the fall out when the next trend hits. I don’t see erotic romance disappearing, but I do see it leveling…and I think that’s already happening. And after it levels, it will drop off. That is the way a cycle works.

    Those who see it coming and prepare for it can avoid being part of the fall out. That’s my thinking of this post, as an author. Staying with, even staying ahead, of the trends would be wise on the author’s part and not just banking on what’s selling today will continue to sell tomorrow, next month, next year.

    Regarding plot-thin quickies can make money, my thinking would be that a plot-rich quickie would bring even more~and it wouldn’t be a book that shortchanges the publisher, the author and the reader that shells out the money.

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  46. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 20:59:48

    Hey Teddy, that comment was very Monica Jackson-like of you. *g*

    Karen, one of these days I am going to make a graphic like the Bevets card on Fark.com… for just for her.

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  47. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 21:02:10

    guhhhhh… quality is key, so says the author with some type-os in the above post. :|

    What happened to the preview box?

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  48. Teddypig
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 22:33:09

    with a thin plot thrown in

    Would Sir care for a mint?
    I can’t, I’m stuffed.
    But Sir… it’s wafer thin.

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  49. Lauren Dane
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 22:42:29

    The way this business works is that there is always something new/hot/now that makes more money than other things. That is simply the way of the world. Trends are trends. Erotic sells well especially in ebooks and it has for me since I started.

    And each author will have her areas she does well in and others not so much. Anya Bast kicks butt with her fantasy erotics, for instance. Mine? If they’re classified as paranormal they do great, if they’re classified as fantasy, they do well but never come to be my top sellers.

    I write erotic and non and I have to say my quickies are not my big sellers. My M/F werewolf with relatively no kink, very story heavy plus novel, Ascension is my biggest seller ever and continues to be. Yes, next in line are two menages with some mild boytouching but really, they’re all novels with a lot of story.

    Also, my Chase Brothers series from Samhain are not erotic and they sell really well. I just don’t cotton to erotic = great sales, non erotic doesn’t. Authors build readerships by telling stories people like to read. They might be unexpected stories, but it’s not all about the volume and combination of pink parts that counts.

    Still? When I write sex, the sex is part of the story and in some cases, the sex does drive the plot. If I use kink, I use it for a reason. Sex is a really rich plot device.

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  50. Sara Dennis
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 23:04:39

    When I say that erotic sells more than non-erotic, I’m really not just saying that to hop on a band wagon. That’s something I’ve seen not only in my own sales, but in other authors’. Is it a trend? Sure. Will the trend change? Yes, very likely. I am absolutely not arguing that.

    But I think that saying that all it takes to sell well is writing a good story is not entirely true. Certainly most authors. me included, think that the stories that they sell are good stories. At least I hope they do. :) I personally do not write, craft-wise. any differently when I’m writing an erotic story than I do when writing something non-erotic. And of the feedback I’ve gotten from readers/reviewers, the majority of the most positive and favorable has come about books that are non-erotic.

    And yet my erotic titles far outsell the non. Again, yes, probably at least in part due to the current trend. But I honestly don’t think that it’s because my non-erotic stuff isn’t written as well or isn’t as appealing. (I know no one said that directly.) I think that the readership simply isn’t there at the moment.

    I want to voice my opinion, though, because I think that there are many times when an author who writes non-erotic ebooks gets the message that they’re not selling because they’re just not as good a writer as those who do write erotic romance, and I can’t bring myself to accept that as a constant truth.

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  51. Lauren Dane
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 23:54:00

    Of course I didn’t say all you need to do is write a good story. I also said there are always things that sell well and others that don’t (and even gave personal examples) and said erotics to sell well.

    I said:

    Authors build readerships by telling stories people like to read. They might be unexpected stories, but it's not all about the volume and combination of pink parts that counts.

    The point is – this business is more than how much sex you put in a book. It’s about building your name, building your readership, growing your reputation. And, it’s also about a lot of luck. What time of year your book comes out. Who publishes it. What other books are out around yours. Your cover. What the weather is like even.

    Ebooks are a niche, just like other publishers have niches. What makes someone choose an ebook over something they can buy in a bookstore? Usually it’s about availability of a certain kind of story line. For instance, level of sensuality. Readers can buy regency romances at their local grocery story so it makes sense sales of regency ebooks with lower levels of sensuallity don’t sell as well as ebooks. It’s not a matter of menage werewolves being better than sweet regencies, it’s a matter of what sells to what audience and why.

    I can’t see where I or anyone else here stated non erotic writers aren’t as good though. I think sales are market driven. And sometimes not even that, sometimes it’s an idea of what the market wants. That’s a reality. Some really excellent writers get rejected every day while not so excelent ones get contracts. Again, another reality.

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  52. K. Z. Snow
    Dec 23, 2007 @ 23:54:45

    My bad, Charli. I should’ve made it clear I was speaking in relative terms. What I meant was, Quickies have built-in length and content constraints that prevent the same development of fictional elements one would expect to see in longer works. The phrase plot-thin was merely a way of telegraphing that point.

    Writers, like all other product- and service-providers, are at the mercy of market trends. Making money doing what we love means giving the public what it wants. I’m hoping along with a lot of other people that e-book buyers’ tastes will soon start to diversify more. It would be a dream come true, for e-publishing as a whole, if authors could realize the same income from other genres and subgenres that they currently get only (or largely) through hot-hot-hot romance.

    If that were to happen, I guarantee there would be an explosion of variety and quality in e-pub offerings!

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  53. TeddyPig
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 00:06:20

    menage werewolves or even better a Chase brothers orgy… now see I would buy that Chase brothers orgy book.

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  54. Sara Dennis
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 00:29:10

    I can't see where I or anyone else here stated non erotic writers aren't as good though.

    No one has that I’ve seen, Lauren. I wasn’t claiming that you or anyone had, honestly. No offense intended.

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  55. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 09:13:05

    “From Jane's post, it's clear that I'm not the only reader of mainstream romance/ romantica who feels increasingly alienated from the ebook market nowadays,”

    Actually, the reason may very well be a function of epublishing’s ability to turn on a dime. Used to be in the days of rapid growth that if the customer service got multiple requests for a certain story types, the call would go out for say, Menage, M/F/M, BDSM, Vampire, M/M. Whatever it was. Many authors would submit stories written to those requests and they would be published. This could all happen within a couple months. If they sold well, more get submitted and published. Think of it as a big wave gaining momentum. Many of the initial sales would be hefty because of the curiosity factor, but then, if the sales dramatically dropped off, the publisher would say, “no more this and that, We need this now.

    FWIW- Not all experiments were successful. M/F/F is a prime example of something requested that had a brief curiosity run, and then the sales were so bad the publisher flat out said no more of that, leaving many authors holding stories with no place to go.

    Publishers and authors discovered along the way they could use the curiosity factor to prolong momentum of a sub genre of sexual preference. If the sales start to drag, the publisher might call for, or authors might decide to add something more to the mix. . Ie. when menage slowed, M/f/f was introduced. When that started to flag, there came M/M/F, (but the M/M part was light) and when that started to flag it went to M/M/F., heavy on the M/M. And when that started to flag, straight M/M. And when that starts to flag there will be… something else if this pattern is pursued.

    Short term, I’m assuming this type of marketing worked well. However, I don’t think the model has stood the test of time for the simple reason it was premised on “always something new” to drive sales. In a general business sense, the model relied on the effect of short term titillation rather than a long term growth plan. It also, because of the emphasis, moved the product offered away from the broadest sales points of the market (The customer base the business was built on) to the much smaller fringe points.

    I don’t think this was the plan. I think it was an inadvertent side effect of utilizing a dynamic that worked. And while there’s no reason for an epublisher to lose any customer base they currently have, I do expect to see them moving stronger back into the larger market in the near future. I just makes sense that they would. Which means likely more traditional feeling erotic romance for those that like contemporary, historical, comedy, paranormal, etc is probably on the horizon. (my guess because it makes sense) The nice thing about epublishers is that they can move very fast to meet reader requests and they can do it very well at the same time, which should work out happily for everyone, whatever their reading preference.

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  56. TeddyPig
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 10:38:52

    Psssst Happy Holidays everyone!

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  57. whey
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 12:28:20

    Ie. when menage slowed, M/f/f was introduced. When that started to flag, there came M/M/F, (but the M/M part was light) and when that started to flag it went to M/M/F., heavy on the M/M. And when that started to flag, straight M/M. And when that starts to flag there will be… something else if this pattern is pursued.

    Or… the publishers were resisting going straight to m/m where there is, IMO, a strong, fanatic readership. Just have to watch out for the m/m market getting glutted with crap (okay, I think the glutting started about 6 months ago).

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  58. Angie
    Dec 24, 2007 @ 12:33:28

    Whey — very true. [nod] The m/m audience is huge and devoted, and has been for decades. This isn’t just a fad or a trend, and it’s not going to go away unless the e-pub industry makes a long string of incredibly stupid mistakes to drive the audience away. The trick is convincing them that there are m/m stories worth paying for when they’re used to getting all they can read for free. [wry smile]

    Angie

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  59. Chicklet
    Dec 26, 2007 @ 13:04:24

    The trick is convincing them that there are m/m stories worth paying for when they're used to getting all they can read for free. [wry smile]

    Why, Angie, whatever do you mean? *blinks innocently* It’s not as if I have a gigantic folder on my harddrive filled with fanfic links or anything…. *g*

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  60. Angie
    Dec 26, 2007 @ 13:13:53

    Chicklet — no, no, of course you don’t! ;)

    Angie, glancing at her own multiple folders of links, plus her more recent del.icio.us account

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  61. Jules Jones
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 06:36:44

    Well, I don’t have a hard drive full of links. That’s because I’m an old school fan, and have several hundred dead tree zines…

    ReplyReply

  62. Heather Massey>>The Galaxy Express>>Nobody Does It Better: Samhain Publishing
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 20:37:27

    [...]many romance readers and bloggers are already on the ebook bandwagon[...]

    ReplyReply

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