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Why I’m Not Wild About Ravenous Romance


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I don’t think I have made any secret of the fact that I don’t like the publisher Ravenous Romance, but I haven’t clearly articulated my reasons why. I endeavor to do so in this post so that no one can accuse me of subterfuge and so that I can lay out my reasons why I don’t think anyone should think of Ravenous as a romance publisher. You are free to disagree with me but here is my argument. I think Ravenous is aggravating rather than alleviating the negative reputation of romance for two main reasons: A) Their business practices are poor and B) they aren’t selling romance.

First let me say that it doesn’t matter to me that Ravenous is in business or that they ultimately sell massive amounts of what by their own standards is "smut." But their works are not romance and they shouldn’t be associated with romance publishing even tangentially. I heard that they want to fund a Romantic Times digital expo next year and that they are going to attend a number of romance related events such as the Lori Foster’s convention and RWA. I felt it necessary to push back against this idea that Ravenous is a legitimate romance publisher. They are not. That doesn’t mean they have no right to publish or even succeed, but I believe they are currently doing that at the expense of the romance genre and market.

A) Ravenous’ Business Practices

We were told that Ravenous was going to “blow the competition right out of the water from very early on.” No other epublisher knew what it was doing or had the marketing ability that Ravenous had. It is true that Ravenous has a very aggressive marketing and publicity team. It is also true that at first glance their product and web presence look polished and professional. What Ravenous lacks, and doesn’t appear interested in gaining, though, is a) an understanding of the romance readership and b) an understanding of the romance market.

For example, when challenged about the slow rate of growth of the readership for erotic romance, Jamaica Layne, Ravenous author and editor, replies with these comments:

I think this lack of knowledge about publishing and reaching target audiences (and the slow growth of those audiences) show that even the successful epubs have not exploited all avenues for building readership….In other words, [Ravenous is] a real publisher and not a fly-by-night operation founded primarily to showcase the amateur founders’ own unpublished books (which even Ellora’s Cave was at its start).

and

I don’t think eHarlequin has done enough to create and promote an e-line that is online only. And Harlequin’s sales are down in general-’mostly because it has been slow to adapt its lines to changing market tastes.

Ms Hughes promised to return with a sales report in January. Given that Knight Moves is one of the highest selling books for Ravenous, we should have certainly seen proof of her astounding numbers to show how Ravenous is blowing the competition out of the water but Hughes is remarkably silent about her sales.   Contrary to Hughes’ claims, Harlequin’s increasing sales in the midst of a depressed market have been the subject of much news coverage, by outlets from the New York Times to Nightline.

I’m not singling out Ms. Hughes’s comments to be mean, but to point out that Ravenous has not been in business for more than five months (it opened in December) and only by dint of its tireless marketing has it become a name known within the publishing community. It is not an established house and does not deserve to the be the spokesperson for digital romance publishing.   Ravenous is not part of the digital publishing discussion because it has any history of successful sales. Nor is it does it have a reputation for quality work.   I say this from personal experience and from the statements of other readers.

It’s important to focus on the editing because it is the product that undermines Ravenous’s insistence that they will be an asset to romance and to epublishing. The first book I read was Knight Moves by Ms. Hughes, writing as Jamaica Layne . Knight Moves was reviewed here at Dear Author, and like Ms. Hughes’ publicity materials say, it has become a viral sensation. But not because it is a great work of art. Instead, it’s a trainwreck of offensive writing and strange euphemisms, and like any trainwreck, you can’t look away. Hughes uses such descriptors as “ladysoftness”. The woman’s cunt makes a “disappointed queeb” noise when she dismounts. The urinal becomes a time traveling portal. In a feat of physical impossibility, the man’s penis points 90 degrees toward his chin.

In another book, the male protagonist’s name is misspelled consistently throughout the novel. A character’s "viral masculinity" is mentioned. "Lathing" is used to describe the application of tongue to flesh throughout yet another novel. In American Star, the male protagonist describes his partner’s cock as unrolling from his pants like a paper towel roll in the kitchen and says he wants to throw the cock over his shoulder and burp it. The male protagonist goes on to talk about being turned on by the smell of raw meat and onions coming from the other man’s body. Another book contained this compilation of nonsensical sentences:

  • "Above the semi-wall of my laptop screen, I can see she looks not only at the downslide of her hottiness,” (as an aside, “downslide of hottiness” is now my motto).
  • "I lean back in the chair, my computer set to Word and ready to receive my genius, but I can’t look at it now, as neither can I Roark."
  • "He slid one hand across the creamy globes of her ass as the other reached to his desk. " (the other globe has escaped?)

Someone asked me if I was picking these books out randomly. No, many of these books were profiled by Ravenous and given away as free promotions.

Last year, Ravenous was advertising on Craigslist for copyeditors.     It’s not that you can’t find good editors on Craigslist but it does show that they didn’t have a pool of professional editors in their competition-blowing company.

Very simple mistakes are made. In one book the words “PAGE BREAK” in all caps was included at the end of a chapter. In the most recent book I read the following PDF page was in the very back of the book.   None of these are signs of a professional publishing business.

According to contract terms shared with me, Ravenous pays only on the net. This is a very good deal for the publisher but not such a great deal for the author. In other words, the author is paying for the costs of doing business. Those expenses should be the publisher’s:

“the net dollar amount received by the Publisher for sale of the Publisher’s publication(s) of the Work from the retailer or consumer, after discount, less actual returns or credits issued relating to prior sales; less shipping, mailing, insurance and handling expenses; less credit card, payment processing or collection costs; and less currency conversion costs; and excluding sales, GST, VAT or other taxes”

B) They Are Not Selling Romance

Ravenous’s worst offense, though, is the fact that the owners and writers of Ravenous are putting out what they call "feminist smut" (Lori Perkins self describes as a purveyor of feminist smut) and calling it romance. Set aside the poor editing, the suspect business practices and the hideous writing for a moment. Not one of the 6 Ravenous books I’ve read has been a romance. Four were what I would call pornography and two were women’s fiction books. Not one focused on the emotional development of a romance.

It is true that there is a lot of gray area in the space between erotic romance and erotica, but the romance side of the line always includes a focus on the emotional journey of the lovers, even if that journey is expressed and realized through sex. But what I believe Ravenous is doing is capitalizing on this gray area and on the ignorance of those outside the genre by trying to sneak into the crease between erotic romance and erotica, even though their work does not fit even the most liberal definition of erotic romance. In other words, they are trying to free-ride on the marketability of romance and exploit its legitimate market without any intention of actually selling romance.

It is, in other words, like a classic bait and switch. For readers, this means no way of returning a product that does not fit their expectations. For the market and the reputation of romance, the consequences might be even more serious because the more aggressive Ravenous’s marketing becomes, and the more visible they get in the romance market, the worse romance will look to those who already think romance is nothing more than porn for women. I suppose Lori Perkins believes that “feminist smut” makes it better, somehow. But putting aside the very loaded question of whether Ravenous’s books are feminist, consider the remarks of Lori Perkins’s business partner, Holly Schmidt, who admits to being a good girl who doesn’t read that kind of work:

Holly Schmidt, Ravenous Romance’s publisher, agrees with Updike’s assessment that "sex is like money: only too much is enough" and will be sending out erotic stories by up to 150 authors by the end of the year.

Schmidt , who says the tales do not reflect her own taste – "I’m a nice girl who married her high school sweetheart"- is hoping to attract major writers to pen their own tales of "hot love" including Updike and fellow New Englander Stephen King.

And what, exactly, is the difference between soft pornography and the "erotica" that she is selling over the web for 99 cents (66p) a day? "A better vocabulary."

Then there is the Hughes:

I don’t think calling erotica porn is off-base at all. (After all, I write it). And the fact a lot of epubs try to dance around the fact that what they publish isn’t porn (when in fact it is) is a big part of their marketing problem. The fact is, whether they admit it publicly or not, women consume porn in very, very large numbers. And these same women appreciate it when their erotica (or porn, whatever) is well-written and of high literary quality. (Historically, erotica has been written by some of the most respected and literary authors in history, such as Anais Nin, Henry Miller, James Joyce, Joyce Carol Oates, I could go on forever). Erotica/porn does NOT equal bad. I frankly think the romance world’s attempt to separate themselves from porn is one of it’s [sic] biggest marketing mistakes.

Publishing is a business. And business is always about profit, first and foremost. If publishers are not profitable, they will go out of business. Why attack them for wanting to make money by publishing high-quality "feminist smut" (my agent’s term, not mine) and marketing it in a similar fashion to the rest of the adult industry?

Ms. Perkins knows how to pick sexy erotic books that sell, big-time. As an example, she sold Jenna Jameson’s book HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE A PORN STAR. That book spent six weeks on the NYT bestseller list in 2004 and continues to backlist very well-’in hardcover, no less.

The only mystery left here is why anyone at Ravenous believes romance readers are fooled about what they are putting out into the marketplace.

C)   Conclusion

On the Ravenous twitter page, they claim that they will change publishing. Perhaps, but I don’t feel it will be changed for the better, at least not as far as romance is concerned or epublishing in general. If a person picks up only one Ravenous book thinking it is an example of good erotic EPUBLISHED romance, what are they going to think about the books put out by other digital publishers? Or romance books that you are reading? Why shouldn’t romance be constantly mocked for being trash when it is represented by a company like Ravenous? Why shouldn’t digital publishers be excluded under the theory that they aren’t legitimate publishers?

The romance genre has a right to more respect. Romance readers and authors have a right to more respect. I do not believe that Ravenous Romance respects anything about romance, except for the money they believe they can make off of the genre and its loyal, generous readership.

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

86 Comments

  1. Leslee
    May 03, 2009 @ 05:25:17

    Thank you Jane! I am always blown away by how you calmly and eloquently you state your argument.

  2. Nadya
    May 03, 2009 @ 05:25:54

    And here I thought I knew all the romance-related epublishers. Mind you, I spent almost hundred each month buying romance ebooks. And yet, I’ve never heard of Ravenous Romance until this article. I guess their marketing strategy to “blow the competition” is going the other direction.

  3. Kimber An
    May 03, 2009 @ 05:43:33

    I must say I agree, which is rare. I almost never agree with you all, even though I have tremendous respect for you ladies. Call it Erotica, Romantica, Erotic Romance, whatever, but call it what it is. I’ve learned, as a blogging book reviewer, that readers just hate it when they buy a book expecting one thing and getting another. Backfires, big time. Also, sometimes it seems like a book will be called a Romance just to cash in on the enormous buying-power of Romance readers. Readers are tired and busy, but they’re smart and sensitive. It’s in every publishing professional’s own best interests to tread carefully and with great respect.

  4. Shannon Stacey
    May 03, 2009 @ 06:48:56

    I wasn’t thrilled to see them promo-ing themselves at RTB. 1-it’s not a promo blog. 2. She’s full of shit. And 3-I’m tired of their trying to legitimize themselves by elbowing their way into the romance community.

    Hell, I’m still pissed about them managing to get the NY Times to group them in with Samhain.

    They publish garbage—referring to lack of editing and craft, not sexual content—and they don’t deserve the attention.

  5. Shannon Stacey
    May 03, 2009 @ 07:05:41

    PS- I’m sure there are authors who will hope the community won’t judge all of RR’s books by the consistently unprofessional examples we’ve seen. Unfortunately, you’ll probably be judged right along with publisher you chose as the best home for your work.

  6. Sandy
    May 03, 2009 @ 07:28:51

    I have a couple of friends who write for RR who have had good experiences. My biggest concern is the same as yours, Jane. I think over-the-top erotica (or as Perkins calls is “feminist smut”) is tainting true romance. The line between erotica and romance has always been blury, but in the case of RR, they don’t release any true romance at all despite their name. I get enough ignorant comments from people when they ask what kind of books I write because they assume all romance must be porno. Very frustrating…

  7. Nadia Lee
    May 03, 2009 @ 07:41:35

    I don’t even know what to say except that “the smell of raw meat and onions coming from the other man's body” = erection killer

    BTW — according to the PDF file image you posted, it took them 3 minutes to edit Maestro’s Apprentice.

  8. Keishon
    May 03, 2009 @ 07:42:21

    I think a lot of readers are discerning enough to differentiate between what is good romantic fiction regardless of publisher but to see RR aggressively push it’s way through to make their brand synonymous with romance is quite disturbing. Here’s hoping they’ll implode.

  9. Anon Y. Mouse
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:23:43

    I was appalled to see them listed next to Samhain and EC as “newcomers in epublishing.” Oh eff you, NYT, EC *created* erotic romance epublishing and Samhain perfected it, imo. Ravenous deserves to be in the same sentence with them only if that sentence is “Unlike Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing, Ravenous Romance is unprofessional, pushy, and not selling romance in any way shape or form.”

    They make me ill, and I’m still waiting for Jamaica to come back and give us all those huge sale numbers. Hell, I’m still waiting for the media blitz of October ’08 that never happened.

  10. Stevie
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:36:48

    I think we need to trace the origins back; who convinced the publishing world that there was a vast market for badly written and appallingly edited porn?

    Yet another sin to be placed in the ledger entries on Laurell K Hamilton…

  11. Heather Massey
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:41:41

    After reading your post, Jane, I clicked on over to RTB and found this.

    Sigh.

  12. Mireya
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:42:47

    Duplicate. Sorry!

  13. Mireya
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:43:08

    Jane, speaking from the erotic romance perspective, I’ve seen what you describe from other epublishers, only difference is that they didn’t have the money or marketing machine and know how so to speak, to be aggressive in their promotions. Hence, either they ended up shutting down (I can think of at least two that where HORRENDOUS and are no more, thank God), or are having mediocre sales and no impact on the readership whatsoever.

    I have yet to read a Ravenous Romance book though I have received a couple of their submissions, so I can’t really say about their product. I am not doubting you, what I am trying to say is that this is not the first instance in which a new epublisher opens it’s doors purporting to sell erotic romance when, in reality, what they are offering is something else. And if you take a close look at Ellora’s Cave product from the moment they opened their doors (using EC because they were the first truly successful erotic romance epub and developed a huge loyal readership), you’ll see that a lot of their offerings are pretty much sex with a bit of romance. However, they were good in giving a truly romantic feel to their books, even those that were more sex than anything else, so I have to give them that. Thankfully the sort of imagery you just described is not part of their style.

    In erotic romance, you can’t apply the classic definition of romance. Every time the subject comes up the argument starts as to what erotic romance is or isn’t. The only thing that seems to be uniform is the fact that what is smut for some others seem to consider erotic romance. Why is that? I have no idea. Every epublishing house has and follows their own rules. In other words, everyone does whatever they want, even the print publishers that jumped into the erotic romance bandwagon because sex sells. There is no uniformity with erotic romance, there are no standards to go by, there does not seem to be any consensus of any sort which means pretty much anyone can open an epublisher and sell anything under the tag of erotic romance, and I think that is what Ravenous Romance is banking on. It is going to be extremely difficult to stop them from continuing on the road they are going, and let’s face it, your blog has clout, but it’s but a little spec in the sand.

    I don’t think the readers are stupid … but as you well know, if you play the media well, the hype will take you places. And if there is one thing they know how to do from what I’ve seen, is how to play the media.

  14. Mora
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:46:29

    I’m really glad I found Samhain, Noble Romance, Liquid Silver, Loose ID, and Cobblestone before Ravenous Romance, or I might have been put off of epublishers. I tried one of their books and couldn’t believe how poorly edited it was. I actually felt insulted by how little the company seems to regard the intelligence of its potential customers. And yeah, I wish they would call themselves Ravenous Erotica or something, because romance they ain’t.

  15. CourtneyLee
    May 03, 2009 @ 08:48:35

    I hate to be crude, but when I read the last two long quotes from Hughes, I threw up in my mouth a little.

    I first heard about RR when Knight Moves got its F reveiw here and I am still glad that my ebook money goes to Loose Id, Sahmain, and other epubs that know what it is to not only publish romance, but to have standards as well.

  16. Sandy
    May 03, 2009 @ 09:05:09

    We do have to acknowledge one thing, erotica sells, especially in ebook form. I write mainstream romance for my publisher Siren-BookStrand, and I own quite a bit of real estate on their best sellers list — if that list is of mainstream romance. I can’t crack the “all titles” list except as a blip on the radar. They’ve been wonderful to work with! But I also realize that I don’t bring them nearly as many readers as their Erotica and Menage Amour lines. That being said, erotica, romance, ANYTHING should be well-written and edited. I don’t think RR puts much time into their edits (3 minutes???), hence errors such as the hero having two different spellings of his name and errant “PAGE BREAK” messages.

    Courtney — Love the “threw up in my mouth” comment!! :-)

  17. Eve Boston
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:15:06

    Until DearAuthor.com’s articles, I had never heard of Ravenous Romance. After seeing (on the link to the last page of the RR .pdf) that an editor spent 3 minutes editing the work, I was appalled.

    For me, erotic romance is about the love story, with lots of lovemaking, but in context. The story has to be well-told and free of errors or literary blunders that jolt the reader’s attention right out of the story.

    I write for Cobblestone-Press.com as Eve Boston and was very impressed by the professional attention that my manuscript received from my editor. Not once, but three times, my manuscript went back and forth between us. We also exchanged e-mails about story elements. I didn’t keep track, but I wouldn’t be suprised if she spent 40 hours editing — it was at least that much on my end, making the requested changes. (I am also the author of several nonfiction books under my real name. I can attest to the value of a good editor; she or he can make or break a book.)

    I believe that the designation “smut” is a matter of opinion, but there is no excuse for poor editing. In the end, the readers will decide the success or failure of a novel. The publishers that survive are the ones with great editors who have a true love and respect for our craft.

    - Eve Boston

    http://EveBoston.com

  18. Anon-H
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:15:53

    I must admit that when I saw that RR hyped they would be publishing a book a day my radar went on full alert. Putting out that much means there’s a good chance the quality of editing will suffer. I’m published with two epublishers and my books were edited twice by two different people and editing does not happen overnight if it’s done correctly.
    If RR is in business two years after opening, then I may rethink my decision to avoid submitting to them. For now, they’re not on my list.

  19. German Reader
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:16:52

    There have been a couple of RR short stories out at fictionwise this week and with the 50% sale I was really tempted to try one just to see how bad they are.

    And then I noticed how VERY short they are. For a list price of $ 2.99 the shortest “book” is only 1223 words long. Reading time 3-4 min. Huhh! Sorry, not with me!

    For that money I rather get a few scoops of ice cream – indulgence time 10 min = satisfaction guaranteed.

    Must be real marketing geniuses at RR.

    And somebody who believes porn and erotica are the same clearly has no idea what he/she is talking about.

    That onion / meat smell reminds me of somebody who once told me his wife was a body odor fetishist – Yuk!

  20. Diana Castilleja
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:18:04

    Unbelievable. A friend and I were just talking about RR yesterday, and not in a good way.

    Those quotes…. I’m of the same mind. I almost lost my breakfast-I still might.

    This entire bit:

    as “ladysoftness”. The woman's cunt makes a “disappointed queeb” noise when she dismounts. The urinal becomes a time traveling portal. In a feat of physical impossibility, the man's penis points 90 degrees toward his chin… The male protagonist goes on to talk about being turned on by the smell of raw meat and onions coming from the other man's body.

    … I’m speechless.

    I think their product will speak for itself. Sadly, the industry will suffer for it. Until they implode a la Mardi Gras or Trisk I see no good coming from their efforts.

    After hearing about their witnessed behavior at RT, I don’t see that they feel they are in the wrong and the necessary changes will not come from them to save the black eye we’re all about to receive.

    I know it sounds peevish and high handed, but history repeats itself too damn frequently and often in epublishing for me to feel optimistic about this.

  21. Alisha Rai
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:24:05

    Schmidt , who says the tales do not reflect her own taste – “I'm a nice girl who married her high school sweetheart”

    I can’t believe neither can she Roark. She must Roark virally!

    If she has a vagina, I’m not surprised the tales don’t reflect her taste. I haven’t read an RR beyond what’s been reviewed here, but forget erotica, they aren’t even women’s porn in my book. I have never been so turned off. If they hadn’t lost me with their crummy marketing, the roll of brawny tumbling out of the guy’s pants would have killed it. Ew.

    Whoever their cover artist is needs a pat on the back and a huge raise. Those covers are nice, and probably the only thing keeping them in business.

    Am I the only one who’s getting sick of the Jenna name dropping? How does representing a porn star = good erotic romance?

  22. MD
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:25:40

    I have never purchased a book from Ravenous Romance and I never will, thanks to you, Dear Author. So you are having some impact. Here’s hoping you have more.

  23. carolyn jean
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:27:42

    I’m glad you’re paying such thoughtful attention to things like this–I wasn’t putting together the picture here. They should not be positioned as a spokespublisher in any way.

  24. Lynne Connolly
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:45:08

    I write erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave and Loose-Id. I write highly sensual historical romance for Samhain.
    In all cases the publishers have a handle on what is erotic romance, what is erotica and what isn’t. I appreciate that because I write the books of my heart, and worry about classification and placement later.
    But to read about a publisher that doesn’t know the difference is more than irritating. I have to say I’ve not yet read an RR book, apart from the freebies, because the freebies put me off. Not my thing, and definitely not romance. Erotica, maybe, whether bad or good.
    Reader expectation is important, and many readers of erotic romance are looking for a romance with a bit of added hotness, not an erotica story. They know, and they’re not fooled.

  25. Robin
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:52:47

    I’ll simply repost the comment I just left in response to Perkins’s sales pitch over at RtB:

    At Ravenous, we want to merge these two powerful (and commercial) erotic sensibilities, widening the readership of this female-pleasing (even if they're M/M stories) entertainment. We are reaching the readers of explicitly erotic romance, as well as the erotica reader, offering a guaranteed Happy Ending (which is what both these forms of fiction demand).

    Of the RR books with which I'm familiar, I have not seen either a literary sensibility or a focus on Romance, and these are books promoted by RR, not dug from the annals of the site.

    I am tempted to make a comparison between the feminist values of these books and the literary legacy of Norman Mailer, but that's really a side point to my main issue regarding genre Romance and RR.

    As someone who a) reads all across the erotic spectrum, from straight erotica to erotic Romance to Romance where there is no explicit sex, and b) reads and studies a boatload of popular and literary fiction/non-fiction, I am certainly on board with the efforts to reduce the judgments about women and sex that now make so much taboo that should be naturally accepted, embraced, and celebrated. If RR were simply about that, it would be one thing.

    But RR comes across to me as yet ANOTHER publisher that wants to capitalize on the Romance market without taking the time and effort to actually deliver genre Romance to its readership. Romance, by its generic definition, does not merely “guarantee a happy ending;” otherwise, any book that offered a happy ending and included sex would comply.

    Romance constitutes the focus on a romantic relationship (and more specifically on the emotional development of that relationship), and in the case of erotic Romance, that relationship, its emotional development and romantic progress, is primarily translated and communicated through sex. Thus in erotic Romance, the sex is primary and central, but it's in service of the development of the romantic attachment. The happy ending is merely a function of the romantic success of the couple, although it's true that many readers refuse to compromise on the full HEA.

    I am what would probably be considered a very liberal reader of the genre, in that I do not demand the EA part of the HEA, and I don't have that many boundaries or rules in what I consider Romance. I even thought an argument could have been made for the last Press who tried to enter the Romance market, namely Juno Press with their Paranormal Romance anthologies (which I understand are no longer called that), even though not all the stories ended happily for the protags. But here, with RR, I don't see the Romance part of it at all, and the comments of Perkins, Hughes, and others have done nothing to convince me otherwise. Nor has the copyediting, which is downright embarrassing and casts yet another shadow over the Romance genre.

    Romance readers are profoundly genre loyal and generally quite willing to spend on Romance books. Who wouldn't want a slice of that market? But I just find it insulting that RR is being so aggressive in its marketing under a Romance name without seeming to have any interest in the genre itself.

  26. Anon Z.
    May 03, 2009 @ 10:55:42

    I want to know RR’s sales. I’m counting on Veinglory to dig up some numbers :)

  27. Nadia Lee
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:00:11

    @Anon Z.: She may not have any numbers to share. IIRC she gets them from authors who self-report anonymously, and I don’t know how many RR authors are willing to do so.

  28. Tatia Notte
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:02:54

    This punctuates a conversation I had last night after a friend gifted me RR’s “Market for Love.” (When you write about sex, this stuff comes out of the woodwork from friends)

    I don’t write romance, either – I’m on the darker underbelly, almost romance-less side of sex – so I can’t speak to the integrity of the genre, but all the same, I cannot believe the ridiculous language and over-the-top, nonsensical euphemisms in this material.

    I can't believe neither can she Roark. She must Roark virally!

    Ha! Priceless, Alisha.

  29. Bree
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:07:07

    am not doubting you, what I am trying to say is that this is not the first instance in which a new epublisher opens it's doors purporting to sell erotic romance when, in reality, what they are offering is something else.

    I think the difference here is that no attempt is being made to even shoehorn these into a romance format. I’m not saying I don’t occasionally wonder if the latest m/m/f/cucumber/m/m/f/m/vibrator/f story’s HEA isn’t a bit unlikely…but I have not seen a ton of erotic romance where the author doesn’t even try. And hey, I could be looking in the wrong place. But I’m not even talking about quality or effectiveness here…I’m talking about the author trying to convince me that whoever the protagonists are (and however many there are in whatever unique configurations), they are involved in a romantic journey that resolves in a satisfactory manner.

    That is my baseline. And I’ve read the submission guidelines for a lot of epublishers… excepting very specific and clearly marked lines that admit to being erotica, I don’t see a lot of places soliciting romance without that HEA or HFN requirement. And while I lack the mental fortitude to soldier through to the end of all of these RR books, I have gotten the distinct impression from Jane’s discussions that a lot of them make it difficult to even identify who might be considered the romantic leads, much less pick out a satisfactory ending for them.

    And that’s not a judgment. Heck yeah for journeys of sexual discovery and whatever else you want to write about. But don’t stick your 20th century vampire novel in historical just because the vampire is super old, and don’t put your erotic adventure in romance just because it has sex. Poor categorization is dumb and makes people angry.

  30. Jules Jones
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:17:01

    As Nadia Lee notes, Veinglory collates self-reported information from authors — and doesn’t publish numbers unless she can provide an average from multiple books and authors. Publishers do occasionally report figures for publication on EREC as well, as Ellora’s Cave did last year.

  31. Lori
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:18:44

    They do market though. I get 3 or 4 emails weekly from them, that’s from signing up for a free short story pre-opening which I never got. But in the last month they email regularly with 50% off offers and all sorts of promotions.

    I’d never spend my money there. Although I’d happily chip in to keep Jane stocked with their books for the pure pleasure of her reviews.

  32. Nialla
    May 03, 2009 @ 12:33:12

    RR reminds me a lot of the late, not lamented site FanLib.

    They saw fanfiction was popular, came in with no real understanding of what it was and expected it to be a gold mine. They wanted to limit what fans could write, in order not to offend the copyright holder, and if you were a good little fan, you might get a t-shirt. Or perhaps your work could be used as the basis for an episode or tie-in book, and you wouldn’t get a dime.

    Sounds like RR is wanting to lure in romance readers without understanding what romance (or erotica, erotic romance or porn) is beyond knowing we spend a hell of a lot of money on reading materials. They want that money, but from the excerpts I’ve read, they’ll only get it out of unsuspecting readers once, then never again. If they last a year without attitude adjustments, I’ll be shocked.

  33. Estara
    May 03, 2009 @ 12:49:05

    I just found this comment from Holly Schmidt on the romance article that the Smart Bitches linked to on Huffingtonpost.com. Emphasis in the blockquote is mine.

    As a digital publisher (www.ravenousromance.com), we have access to more information about exactly who are customers are and what they prefer than traditional print publishers. It is fascinating to see how voracious these readers are, and how they buy across all subgenres, even in one order. Yes, the material is escapist, but it’s also entertaining. I think it’s interesting that the media has latched onto the legitimacy of romance fiction when they don’t question romantic movies the same way. Nobody asks whether “When Harry Met Sally” is a legitimate art form, and these books are the literary equivalent. It’s the inherent snobbery of the literati rather than the taste of the consumers themselves that sparks the conversation. But, go Princeton for taking it to a higher level!

    Okay, so when she’s commenting there she sells romance and has all the answers, but when she’s at home she sells feminist smut… hmmm… interesting

  34. Shiloh Walker
    May 03, 2009 @ 13:07:47

    I haven’t read anything of theirs, nor do I really want to, but I do have to say…

    I don’t read feminist smut. I read romances. And if they are labeling their stuff as smut, I don’t have any desire to learn anything else about them. I’ll spend my money and my time on publishers that understand the difference between smut and romance.

  35. Lex Valentine
    May 03, 2009 @ 13:08:40

    I’m really glad that when I began researching epubs last fall in order to start submitting my work, I got the sense that RR might not be a good place to submit to. Since then my work has been contracted by Cobblestone Press, Pink Petal Books, Noble, Freya’s Bower and Wild Child Publishing. I’m just glad I wasn’t so desperate to be pubbed that I took whatever slick offer was out there because without my background in business and media consulting, I could easily have become a RR author. I feel sorry for those authors who just wanted to get pubbed only to have their work turned out unedited for reviewers to shred. That’s such a lousy way for a publisher to treat the authors that make their paychecks.

  36. joanne
    May 03, 2009 @ 13:08:46

    by Heather Massey May 3rd, 2009 at 8:41 am
    After reading your post, Jane, I clicked on over to RTB and found this.

    Sigh.

    Love her or hate her or somewhere in between, Ann Somerville’s response to that article was laugh out loud funny — while being right on the money.

    My 2 cents: I really really really wish they wouldn’t use the romance label for their product and their site but I feel even less happy about the fact that they have buyers who seem not to notice just how badly edited and written the RR books actually are.

  37. Sasha
    May 03, 2009 @ 13:45:21

    Jane, that is a very well-written piece where you got your point across very well. Thank you for sharing. Having read a RR ebook on promo as well, I couldn’t help but agree with you more. Spelling errors and smut to a ridiculous level are two things that surely do not make RR a romance publishing house. FYI, the ebook I read was by Jamaica Layne (A Capitol Affair).
    I think RR, belongs in the same genre as “Lit Erotica,” which is just that — erotic literature. Nothing more, nothing less — simple “fem-smut.”

  38. CourtneyLee
    May 03, 2009 @ 14:38:21

    Does anyone else really not like the word smut? One of the recurring definitions of it at dictionary.com is “indecent language or publications; obscenity.” That doesn’t really sound like something to aspire to, IMO, when one wants to be romantic. Pornography‘s definition there is “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.”

    Not to self: be wary of anyone calling their brand of romance either smut or porn.

    Erotica, on the other hand, is defined as “literature or art dealing with sexual love.” That’s much better. :)

  39. Robin
    May 03, 2009 @ 14:50:18

    @CourtneyLee: I think Perkins is trying to reclaim the word by attaching it to “feminist.” The problem is, though, you’ve got to be turning out a really high level product, IMO, one beyond reproach in professional quality, to do that with any measure of success. And despite the massive influx of capital that seems to be pouring into RR’s promo machine, some of the more technical areas of the press — copyediting, for example — seem like they’re in the red.

    What I find ironic is that for all the claims of unashamed eroticism, Perkins et al still keep trying to attach Ravenous to more “legitimate” things, whether that be literary erotica or genre Romance. If erotica is legitimate, why the need to connect it to anything else? The legitimizing — to me — belies any real confidence in the open, unashamed celebration of female sexuality for which RR supposedly stands.

  40. SonomaLass
    May 03, 2009 @ 15:15:42

    the latest m/m/f/cucumber/m/m/f/m/vibrator/f story

    @Bree: thanks for making me spit coffee near my keyboard!

    I’m all for erotic romance, and even erotica that is not romance. But if it is marketed as romance, then I have certain expectations, and so far I have seen nothing to indicate that RR understands that. I hate that there will be people who see the name of the publisher and thus assume that what they are putting out is typical of romance, or of e-published romance.

  41. MO
    May 03, 2009 @ 15:50:47

    Anon Z, I’m more than willing to share sales numbers with Veinglory but I haven’t received a royalty report of any kind yet. According to the contract, checks (and apparently royalty reports) aren’t sent out unless you earn $100 bucks (minus the $10 advance.) So….yeah. Checks are cut within 30 days of the end of the calendar quarter so if I’d earned out, I would have gotten paid by now.

    Unless, of course, the delay in payment is due to the contract clause about not paying authors until the publisher is paid by vendors. But that’s not a very satisfactory excuse considering all the other epubs that were denigrated by RR authors manage to pay timely every month while dealing with the exact same vendors.

    I subbed a short story for an anthology to feel out the publisher. I’m not overly impressed with the editing or content of the handful of books I’ve purchased or the free reads I’ve downloaded. I write both erotic romance and erotica so I know where the lines are as far as tone and sexual content. While I’ve read some interesting pieces from RR, I’ve yet to read a *romance*. They’d be better served to call it Ravenous Erotica or something similar. When I buy a romance, I want a romance, you know?

    And I hate to sound mercenary but I’m earning ten times or so the RR minimum for a quarterly check in my first month of release at EC. For all that talk of blowing other pubs out of the water, well, I mean, the proof is in the pay.

  42. Jackie B
    May 03, 2009 @ 16:07:36

    I noticed spelling errors and the elusive “PAGE BREAK” when I was reading Twilight’s Edge, a Ravenous Romance by Jo Atkinson, but that was the only negative. The story was more solid that I expected, there was actual romance not just crazy sex, but overall it was decent. Maybe the owners of Ravenous Romance are a little whacked out, but some of the stories are decent.

  43. Janine
    May 03, 2009 @ 16:38:42

    In American Star, the male protagonist describes his partner's cock as unrolling from his pants like a paper towel roll in the kitchen and says he wants to throw the cock over his shoulder and burp it. The male protagonist goes on to talk about being turned on by the smell of raw meat and onions coming from the other man's body.

    I wish I could go back in time to the moment before I read this.

  44. More Annon
    May 03, 2009 @ 17:04:08

    Did you know that Harlequin and RR are co-sponsoring an event together at RWA Nationals?

    Does RR’s connections in the industry make them impervious?

  45. J.C. Wilder
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:14:17

    I just love it when someone comes on the scene and basically says, everyone else is crap so ignore them and Look At Me. Usually that indicates a person who is needy and lacks in self-esteem. If the only way RR can tell the world how fabulous they are is to ‘blow the competitors’ – I hope they have sturdy kneepads and lots of mouth wash.

    RR isn’t publishing romance and the readers know it. They, like so many other epubs who have bit the dust in the past few years, came onto the scene because they a) wanted to make some quick cash and b) because they thought it was easy – and they’ll fade away just as quickly. When they do we’ll all whip out the air freshener and go on about our lives reading and writing romance novels.

  46. theo
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:41:18

    @More Annon:

    Say it ain’t so!! If that’s true, then my respect for Harlequin in all of it’s formats has dropped drastically.

    I’ve not purchased from RR, nor do I intend to. After having followed first the original Jamaica Layne review and subsequent #RRTheaters on twitter, I have to say, I’ve read much better stories than RR puts out at EdenFantasys. All submitted by amateurs who buy from them. And I can read those for free.

  47. Karen Templeton
    May 03, 2009 @ 19:47:58

    Did you know that Harlequin and RR are co-sponsoring an event together at RWA Nationals?

    Just read through the entire schedule, including the workshops, and don’t see this. What event would that be, please?

  48. K. Z. Snow
    May 03, 2009 @ 19:50:07

    I can tell you this much — if RR does end up with a bonafide submission from John Updike, I and millions of other people will sure as hell buy it! Whoa, now that would be a coup. Imagine the headline in PW: Upstart E-pub Channels Dead-Author “Hot Love” Stories.

    Seriously, though, as long as there are people willing to buy this stuff — regardless of the company’s bad business practices, regardless of misleading product-labeling, regardless of egregiously moronic writing and nonexistent editing — all the squawking in the world can’t and won’t change a damned thing. At the risk of stating the obvious, the publishing biz is reader driven. And if readers prefer shit sandwiches over honey-baked ham (that doesn’t mean anything, by the way; I just pulled the metaphor out of the air), what can we high-horse riders do except keep blowing air out of our asses?

    (Sorry. I’m in Blunt Mode today.)

  49. Lexie C.
    May 03, 2009 @ 20:47:05

    All I can really say is ‘wow’. I don’t read a whole lot of e-books to begin with (my eyes just don’t love me for it, plus I like the feel of books in my hands), but I’m glad I read this article. Samhain is mostly what I look at when I feel the urge for a e-book (mostly because I like a few authors there) and I’ll stick to that side I think.

  50. Topics about Love-stories » Blog Archive » Why I’m Not Wild About Ravenous Romance
    May 03, 2009 @ 22:50:26

    [...] Kel put an intriguing blog post on Why Iâ Permalink Comments [0] [...]

  51. Jules Jones
    May 04, 2009 @ 02:50:05

    Picking up on what MO said @41: other epublishers also have that clause about not paying out royalties until they’ve received the payment from the distributors, and they enforce it.

    The difference is that there are large, successful epublishers which don’t have that $100 minimum payout hurdle. That hurdle is *bad*, for more than one reason. And those epublishers also manage to sell enough copies through their own website to pay monthly, not quarterly, royalties without waiting for the payments from distributors.

    [Just to be absolutely certain -- is that "no money after the advance until you've accumulated $100" a standard part of their contract? Because if so, that's a red flag that needs to go on the information about them at writers' forums.]

  52. Nadia Lee
    May 04, 2009 @ 03:13:47

    @Jules Jones:

    is that “no money after the advance until you’ve accumulated $100″ a standard part of their contract? Because if so, that’s a red flag that needs to go on the information about them at writers’ forums.

    I don’t see why any writer would insert that clause, so I’m guessing that it’s there to protect the publisher.

    I know some epresses that have $25 minimum; $100 feels a bit high.

  53. Nonny
    May 04, 2009 @ 03:29:01

    One of my e-publishers has a $25 minimum for payout, which I don’t mind. $100 is way out of line for me, particularly when some of my e-books have sold nowhere near that amount.

  54. MO
    May 04, 2009 @ 04:28:06

    Jules, as far as I know that’s the standard contract. I sent a copy to Veinglory a few weeks back because I thought she’d be interested in the paying on net bit and such. She might know if other writers have received the same contract. I know the paying on net issue was brought up on AW since it was worded sort of bizarrely.

    I totally agree the $100 minimum is way too high but I tempered my concern with my curiosity to see just how *awesome* RR was. Suffice to say, not very in my book. Glad it was just a short story I’ve wasted.

  55. Lynne Connolly
    May 04, 2009 @ 04:52:04

    So it would be interesting to discover how many authors have received a statement, as well as the amount. $100 in 3 months isn’t too much of a stretch, I would have thought, when RR wants to be the biggie in the biz. But for a startup, maybe not.

  56. kyra
    May 04, 2009 @ 05:09:06

    Lathing, huh? Watch out for those splinters………..

  57. Nadia Lee
    May 04, 2009 @ 05:48:51

    @MO: Even if you don’t get paid anything due to the $100 min, shouldn’t you at least get the royalty statement? Otherwise how do you know how many copies you sold, etc.? *confused*

  58. Tess MacKall
    May 04, 2009 @ 06:49:19

    Maybe RR should stop putting all their money into PR and drop that hundred dollar minimum and pay authors in a more timely fashion and not make the hurdle so high to reach. It’s quite obvious some of the authors, at least, aren’t making the minimum. So what is RR doing, using that money to promote RR? And any way you cut it, those credit card fees charged back to the authors is a nice little chunk of change when you multiply it by all the authors in their stable. Doesn’t a bona fide agent know that is a “no no” for authors? Would she allow one of her clients to sign off on a contract like that? I don’t think so.

    When all is said and done, looks like RR is going to buy its way into respectability. Nothing wrong with forking over the bucks to promote the company, authors, and books as long as they are putting out a quality product. However, it seems that RR ignored the opportunity to clean up its “editing act” and correct the problem when it was pointed out here on this blog. Instead, it stayed the course and went back to buying respectability without earning it.

    Quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of seeing these RR big wigs in all these articles touting their know how and success when they haven’t been around long enough to even take off their diaper. Let alone the fact they don’t seem to have a handle on what romance means. And honestly? After reading some of these freebies, I can tell you they don’t know what erotica is either. I say give them their own damn category, their preferred tag line of “smut”, and launch them off into the nether regions of the internet.

    That way we’ll all be happy. Everyone needs to find their niche after all. lol

  59. SandyW
    May 04, 2009 @ 07:29:28

    The fact that Perkins entry at RTB is an advertisement is obvious. But what really caught my eye were the comments. The fact that so many of them are by Ravenous authors makes me want to start polishing the glasses for the E-Book Publisher Implosion Drinking Game.

    I really get the impression that a large percentage of the folks at Ravenous, from the top down, really were not readers or writers of romance in any significant way before they decided to Make Some Money from it. And that continues to irritate me.

  60. Jody
    May 04, 2009 @ 07:41:39

    I read somewhere that the RR advance is $200. I can’t recall where…somewhere in a long thread of comments, no doubt.

  61. Tess MacKall
    May 04, 2009 @ 07:54:46

    The fact is, LP and RR authors are all over groups asking people to go over to RTB and to comment for them, claiming they are “being tarred and feathered by DA”. So it is indeed a rally the troops all call. And a lot of times that leaves egg on the face too.

  62. Lynne Connolly
    May 04, 2009 @ 08:14:40

    “The fact is, LP and RR authors are all over groups asking people to go over to RTB and to comment for them, claiming they are “being tarred and feathered by DA”. So it is indeed a rally the troops all call. And a lot of times that leaves egg on the face too.”

    I was afraid that was the case. Obviously I’m not in the right groups (or perhaps I am!)
    See, that is a big red flag for me. Both epubs that I worked for that went bust or just disappeared did that. They urged writers, editors etc to support them in all forums and venues, and then left said writers and editors to take the flak. When you get to the phrase “we’re one big happy family” back off – fast.

    Maybe EREC got it right when they said that RR was a “disappointing queeb.”

  63. Tess MacKall
    May 04, 2009 @ 08:26:24

    Actually, Lynne, I saw it on Whipped Cream last night in conjunction with a chat the RR authors were doing there. And before that, it was posted at Castles in the Sky. Take a look at it if you get the time. There’s a lot more than just the “tarred and feathered” sentence, of course. lol

  64. Jules Jones
    May 04, 2009 @ 08:33:50

    The size of the advance depends on the length of the manuscript. A novel will pick up $200, but a short story gets much less. Which would not be a problem if you had any reasonable prospect of earning out that advance, *and* of picking up the money over and above the advance without having to wait until it accumulated $100 — if it ever did. Yes, that’s presumably $100 across all your titles, but if you’ve only got a couple of shorts with them, that might not be so easy to do. And compared with getting $50 for one time anthology rights from Alyson or Cleis, and $10 for all rights from RR, I know which slushpile I’d be submitting a short to first.

  65. anon
    May 04, 2009 @ 09:04:41

    I have to agree with a lot of what’s being said here. The problem with that is that I am a Ravenous author. I write romance, not erotica, and frankly I haven’t enjoyed much of what I’ve read of my fellow authors’ work, because I don’t enjoy reading erotica. RR could remedy this particular issue by putting a “rating” on each book as to where on the romance/erotica spectrum it is and be honest about that. Nothing upsets a reader more than not getting what they expect. It means we lose that reader as a repeat customer who will take a chance on a random book, knowing that more likely than not they will enjoy it.

    I’ve had more than my share of issues with editing and other publication-process disasters, and the stress and time it’s taken to deal with have set my writing time (and motivation) back considerably. I’m not even going to go into the issues of payments or contracts, because those are another issue and I’d rather focus on what’s being published since that affects how readers perceive a publisher.

    I feel that I have to promo my work twice as hard to overcome these issues, and that the publisher is making it harder for me to sell books rather than easier. I am a fairly new author but I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    Luckily, my book got some great reviews and a couple of awards, and hopefully it’s being judged purely on its own merits and not lumped in with everything else at Ravenous.

    This whole thing just makes me want to cry. It might not be so bad if RR took a step back and learned from the comments being made rather than just brushing them off as “sour grapes” or a targeted attack on the company or its management. Every company experiences growing pains when first starting out. But I can’t see how they hope to succeed if they can’t learn from their potential market about how to improve.

  66. Anon76
    May 04, 2009 @ 09:26:17

    Sigh. Not another “rally the troops” thing…

    I personally use a very simple litmus test when it comes to new publishers. Regardless of the exact genre designation, I read the blurbs and excerpts and a sometimes a book or two, then play the “name another” game. (Why only “sometimes” on reading a book or two? Because if the blurbs and excerpts are shoddily written, then I don’t feel all cozy about spending my hard-earned money on the rest of the book.)

    But, back to the “name another” game. I try to name any other houses who I think would publish said book. I look at the author’s storytelling ability, word choices, sentence structure, and yes, number of typos. And in reality, I don’t put any of those faults on the author. I put them where they belong, on the publisher.

    I know that sounds weird, but it is truly the publisher’s fault if they buy such slip-shod stories. The ones that were meant to be shoved under the bed with the dust-bunnies while the author hones his/her craft.

    So, if in the end, I can only name other publishers who I feel will basically publish ANYTHING at all if a dime was to be made, then I pass and write the newbie pub off until they class up. Which sometimes never happens.

  67. Neenut
    May 04, 2009 @ 09:55:44

    To the anonymous writer from ravenous romance who wrote this:

    Luckily, my book got some great reviews and a couple of awards, and hopefully it's being judged purely on its own merits and not lumped in with everything else at Ravenous.

    Honey, I’d really love to play poker with you just once.

  68. Jane
    May 04, 2009 @ 10:21:37

    I checked with Harlequin and there is no planned cosponsored event with RR.

  69. veinglory
    May 04, 2009 @ 10:43:05

    The pattern, to me, does seem to be big impressive claims that are not quite what they appear (Updike, Harlequin etc)…. It produces a certain skepticism.

  70. Pam
    May 04, 2009 @ 10:43:31

    All I know is when I first heard about avenous Romance, I went to their website. I read a lot of ebooks. Mostly from Samhain and some Ellora’s Cave and Red Sage and some from Harlequin. But I try new things when they catch my eye.

    So I got three books from Ravenous just to try them out. I couldn’t make it more than halfway through any of them. But that’s the good thing about ebooks because you can have loads of them on your reader and if one sucks, you go to the next one.

    Anyway I haven’t gone back to Ravenous Romance again. Why bother.

  71. Also Anon
    May 04, 2009 @ 11:22:35

    I was also curious about RR, and so submitted a story to them for an antho. So far, the process has been needlessly complicated, and when I asked *why* the books are only paid on net, I received a response indicating that just means they are paying based on the remainder after each affiliate takes their cut. I’ve even seen Jamaica Lane spout that line on AW. Except, that’s not what their contract says. I just barely turned in the contract, so I don’t know what the editing process will be like.

    I’m glad that I just experimented with a short story (under 10k even) and not something longer. I think I would be very, very disappointed if I subbed something that took me months to write and received that contract in response. It is really quite insane. I’m surprised anybody signs it as it stands.

  72. Alessia Brio
    May 04, 2009 @ 11:45:24

    …so I don't know what the editing process will be like.

    I received ZERO edits to my short story… or any correspondence about them, for that matter. The standard contract, however, I was able to negotiate without any hassle. It’s not set in stone. And my “advance” was paid promptly. No complaints there. I don’t expect to see another dime, though. Since the story was a quickie piece of stroke I wrote for a magazine that never got off the ground, I don’t feel I’m out anything.

    The biggest deterrent to further submissions from me will be RR’s reputation for sloppy editing and purple prose. (#RRTheatre is embarrassing by association.) Phaze has first dibs on my longer work, but my short-short stuff needs pub-love, too. I’m hopeful RR will overcome its reputation, because there’s a lot of energy behind the house.

  73. Also Anon
    May 04, 2009 @ 13:05:05

    Yes, it is negotiable. I did ask to change the language that gave them all the rights for the life of the copyright. But I didn’t attempt to change the way they payment is structured re: net vs gross. I didn’t think they would budge on that.

    It’s disappointing that there’s not an editing process. After I subbed, I found three or four typos. Not a huge deal for a submission, but it’s definitely something you’d want to catch before the thing is published!

  74. Lynne Simpson
    May 04, 2009 @ 14:30:48

    @Jane: Thank goodness. I’d be really worried about Harlequin if they associated themselves in any way with an outfit like RR.

  75. Sandy D.
    May 04, 2009 @ 14:41:40

    Can someone tell me exactly what’s feminist about their smut? Because the excerpts I read weren’t particularly empowering for women.

    Maybe they’re feminist in the same way they’re romance. *shrugs*

  76. MO
    May 04, 2009 @ 17:33:38

    @Nadia Lee, yeah, you’d think they’d send out a royalty statement of some kind but nope.

    I also received *no* editing or discussion about editing of my short story in an anthology for RR. Oh, and my contract wasn’t even finalized before the anthology was published! Luckily, this particular short story was something I’d written for personal amusement so I’m not heartbroken over losing it for, most likely, the $10 advance that was, like, two weeks late. Live and learn and all that.

  77. allison
    May 05, 2009 @ 09:43:17

    @Sandy D.: I agree. I left a similar comment over at the sales pitch at RtB. I simply don’t see what’s so feminist about having a woman kidnapped to serve in a harem and then performing for a man over and over and doing things that are not pleasing to her but please the man. These tired plots simply recycle the male fantasies and do nothing to show that women can (and should) put their own needs first or even on an equal footing.

    Simply because it’s a woman writing dirty, raunchy, poorly-written smut doesn’t make it feminist. It makes it dirty, raunchy, poorly-written smut.

  78. Lisa J
    May 06, 2009 @ 00:44:37

    Can someone tell me exactly what's feminist about their smut? Because the excerpts I read weren't particularly empowering for women.

    I don’t even think that they understand what feminist is at all. In fact I am shocked to find that Jamaica Layne is a woman, I was convinced she was a 14 year old school boy :-)

    Lets just say that I wont be buying anything that they put out – ever.

  79. Roxy Harte
    May 06, 2009 @ 21:05:50

    I keep hearing others say that Ravenous Romance writers love Ravenous Romance, that they are happy there…

    Are they? Really?

    I submitted and had accepted one story, it came out in their Sweaty Sex Anthology. I will not submit any further stories to Ravenous Romance.

    I am so happy I was published with Liquid Silver Books, Loose-Id, and Lyrical Press before becoming entangled with Ravenous Romance. Their business practices could be termed sloppy at best. In their hurry to publish daily, be seen, be heard, they forget there are actually authors doing the work. Items like timely contracts (I actually received a contract the day after publication and have yet to receive back signed copies months later), advances (I was promised $10. and I suppose it is a moot gripe that I was never paid because of the low dollar amount), or correspondence replies (even though I have written the editor and Lori Perkins about my concerns on several occasions, they have not been addressed.)

    I would encourage any author who is taking their career serious to avoid Ravenous Romance completely. I wish I had.

  80. BevBB
    May 07, 2009 @ 11:26:49

    @Bree:

    And while I lack the mental fortitude to soldier through to the end of all of these RR books, I have gotten the distinct impression from Jane's discussions that a lot of them make it difficult to even identify who might be considered the romantic leads, much less pick out a satisfactory ending for them.

    I come to this late and I should probably just leave it alone but I just couldn’t resist because the above reminded me so much of something I read and saved several months ago from an article on Teach Me Tonight (emphasis added for comparison):

    If we stay with the basic meanings, both pornography and erotica may be well-written or badly-written; both may deal with kinds of sexual activity that an individual reader finds either exhilarating or repellent or any point between: the big difference is that pornography is episodic and lacks the true story arc and distinctive characters that we expect to find in a fully evolved novel. It is aimed only at arousing physical sexual response in the reader. A simple test of pornography is that the average reader can easily lose track of exactly who is doing what to whom. Erotica, though focusing on sexual activity, should follow the conventional structure of novels in having a proper story and believable characters.

    Tossing words around doesn’t fool anyone for very long if there isn’t a product there worth the money people are paying for it – I don’t care how cheap it is – particularly if you’re trying to sell it to people who do use those words all the time.

    Now, if your market is people who don’t know anything about the genre(s) at all . . . ?

    What I’m seeing is a distinct disconnect between “product” and audience. Who the heck are these people really trying to sell to?

  81. Anne Manning
    May 09, 2009 @ 10:52:22

    @J.C. Wilder: J.C., doll, ROTFLMAO!!!
    >>hope they have sturdy kneepads and lots of mouth wash.<<

    I’ve been writing romance for a long time and this whole erotica/romantica thing has been bothering me. Jane’s take on the situation is right on and, though I am not a prude and believe a writer should write what she wants and the reader should be able to get and read what she wants, do we have to cede the field of romance to what is…I’ll say it!…smut?

    Thanks, Jane, for saying what needed to be said.

    Anne Manning

  82. Anne Manning
    May 09, 2009 @ 10:56:18

    @MO: Re contract terms, if you want to see a “model contract” for the e-publishing industry, go to http://www.epicauthors.com. EPIC a long time ago put up a model based on the best practices in the industry with a list of red and yellow flags that you might see and should be aware of before you sign.

    Anne Manning
    http://www.annemanning.com
    http://www.writeranne.blogspot.com

  83. Jane
    May 09, 2009 @ 14:39:57

    @Anne Manning I hope anyone’s contract that reads like the model one at EPIC takes that sucker to a lawyer because there is some very bad contract law terms included in that model contract. It’s a model for something but not a good publishing contract.

  84. Liane Gentry Skye
    May 28, 2009 @ 07:07:40

    Thank you for voicing your concerns so eloquently.

    Since RT, I have read a (small) sampling of what Ravenous is publishing. It’s not for me. I write hot. I write hot love stories. I hope I write hot, well crafted love stories. What I don’t write is smut. Never have, never will and God help the editor who dares refer to my work as porn. Such an assertion advances feminism how?

    Thanks for the information. It certainly confirms my gut reluctance to submit my work there.

  85. Tania
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 04:41:45

    I feel sorry for the writers who use RR. I have read a couple of books published by them and there is no lack of tallent there. The works just lack the polish of a great editor. So many of these writers could go so much further with the correct guidence.

  86. Chloe Waits
    May 27, 2012 @ 18:18:23

    Saw this old post and had to reply: I bought some books by Ravenous Romance over a year ago. I have seen the odd book that I would categorize as romance there (Keta Diablo’s Land of Falling Star’s a great example) but I just wouldn’t categorize a lot of the books I read as romance, erotic romance. I had enjoyed one by Cecilia Tan there for instance. Unfortunately after that, there was a great sale there, and I made the mistake of picking up several books, most of which I started and literally stopped reading because I was so disappointed.
    I read a story, which while written well, just made me shudder. Use of the word “crotch” just pulls me out of the story. Some of them just seem anti-romance to me, not meeting any expectations at all.
    I think of course this publisher should put out their work, there is a market for it, but they are marketing most of it wrong in my opinion as romance. I like that they take risks and am all for it, but as a reader of romance, my expectations were just not met.

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