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Is Agent Editing Normal?

I read this on an agent blog today and light of the events that have happened to Sidney Somers at New Concepts Publishing, so I had to ask whether this is normal because it sounds strange to me.

Apparently the agent has two clients who have started their own erotic epress. The agent is editing down her clients’ works to fit into the new epress’ guidelines. The agent is also editing an anthology for the epress.

I have even heard a rumor that the agent is actually starting her own epress. So is it normal for an agent to edit down the work of her clients so that it fits into an epublishing venture started by two of the agent’s clients? I know that some authors refuse to work with certain agents because the agents themselves write. How about agents who edit? Or who own their own epress?

At first glance, while it seems odd, there doesn’t appear to be a direct conflict of interest so long as her clients know that a) she is doing the editing and b) she is being up front about her connection to the epublishing venture. Of course, if many of the work that is being submitted goes first to the epress and not out to other houses, that can be a conflict.

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

123 Comments

  1. Val Kovalin
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:01:01

    Agents understandably have their main focus on making sales, which usually involves producing books similar to what has proven successful in the past. Therefore they may not be open to a writer trying to move beyond cliche: pushing the boundaries of literature and trying new things. I’d be inclined to fend off an agent who wanted to do too much editing, especially if the editing involved a lot of content issues and not big obvious things like slow beginnings and weak endings.

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  2. JulieLeto
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:01:32

    Okay…an agent’s job is to MAKE MONEY, yes? So how does targeting a client’s work toward a start-up epress…where everyone knows the money is iffy at best…work in the client’s best interest? And actually editing work to fit guidelines…why doesn’t the author do this? That is OUR job.

    Yes, this is odd. I can’t imagine someone like Robert Gottlieb or Meg Ruley doing something like this. Seems to me the agent isn’t so into agenting as they should be.

    Of course, isn’t Richard Curtis, the well-known agent, involved in ebooks in some capacity?

    Hmmm…

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  3. Courtney Milan
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:07:46

    I have to say that sounds like an absolute conflict of interest.

    Your agent should not be there just to sell your books; she also exists to smooth things out between publisher and author. What if you get an editorial letter that you absolutely disagree with? Your first line of action is to talk to your agent, who will take the job of playing bad cop with the editor. Your agent’s 15% should not just be a cut for getting you a deal; it is also her cut for being involved in her career, and for being a buffer, when things go wrong, between you and the editor.

    If you ask an agent for help editing, that’s one thing. If she has suggestions for you to help make a book more saleable, that is also fine, because your goals are united. But when she is the editor, that’s something else entirely–it’s seriously bad news, because if she does something you do not agree with, her interest is on the side of the e-press, not squarely with you and your authorial vision and your view of your career, as it must be. How can she moderate between author and editor, if she is the editor?

    Now, if the agent is not acting as editor for her clients’ books, I don’t think it’s any more of a conflict than an agent writing. But if she is editing her clients books, then she simply cannot do her job as agent for her client–or it demonstrates that she thinks that her job as agent is simply getting sales, and not focusing on careers. Either one does not impress me.

    If she is *purchasing* her clients books for the e-press, period–even if she is submitting it elsewhere and not giving that press preferential treatment–that is also a conflict of interest, because the point is not just to sell a book, but to act as an advocate for the author’s rights once the sale has been made. She should be making sure that the author gets favorable option clauses, reversion of rights, royalty percentages. She also will help the author out if the author gets a horrible cover, and can push the editors to try and treat the book more favorably in other ways, e.g., featuring it on the front page, or include the title in marketing. If she is financially beholden to the e-press, I don’t see how she can be as aggressive as she needs to be in negotiating the contract.

    Agents do more then sell, and while editing and purchasing a client’s book may not be a conflict of interest with the “making sales” part of the agent’s repertoire, it sounds like a pretty clear conflict of interest with every other part of an agent’s job. I would steer very, very clear of any agent who did this. Either she’s got a serious conflict of interest, or she’s not doing all the work for her clients that they deserve.

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  4. JulieLeto
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:09:18

    Val, I respectfully disagree:

    which usually involves producing books similar to what has proven successful in the past. Therefore they may not be open to a writer trying to move beyond cliche: pushing the boundaries of literature and trying new things.

    Yawn. This is the same argument used by unpublished writer after unpublished writer simply because they can’t get an agent or sell to a publisher who is willing to pay them generously. It is, however, an insult to writers like J.K. Rowling, Sherrilyn Kenyon, JD Robb, Scott Westerfield, et. al, who have come up with fresh, new, innovative stories that have totally upturned their various genres and subgenres over the course of recent memory.

    Agents make the most money (as I said in my previous post, this is their main objective) when they discover the new, fresh voice. They may publish tried-and-true books as well (and tried-and-true and cliched are not synonymous to the reading public,) but it’s my experience that agents are rabidly looking for a client who will be a trend-setter in their given genre. Unfortunately, those writers also have to know how to WRITE in a marketable way. And that’s the trick, isn’t it?

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  5. Courtney Milan
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:13:54

    All that being said, I just reread the text and I’m not exactly sure what’s happening here. If the agent is editing work to try and make it work with the e-press–and she is not getting anything for it but the standard commission–that could be well within her job as “making sales.” That her clients also own the e-press isn’t that big a deal.

    As long as she isn’t making money on both sides of the transaction, and isn’t functioning as an editor for the e-press, but as an advocate for her client’s work, I think it’s okay. If this story is just, “Such-and-such agent helped her client make work acceptable for publication to X,” that is just part of the job.

    But the questions at the end threw me. If she is actually functioning as an editor for the e-press, or owns the e-press itself, I think that it’s forbidden.

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  6. Val Kovalin
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:35:29

    Good point, JulieLeto. I’d always thought it was the editors who were “rabidly looking for a … trend-setter” in that I see the editors as having the long view over genre trends and the agents as being more like sales reps/business advocates for the writer. But then what do I know, ha, ha! I like your main point that good writing trumps all.

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  7. Jackie
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 12:52:44

    How about agents who edit?

    I think it’s fairly common for agents to give their clients overall feedback, possibly even a few line edits if certain things really jump out at them. But developmental editing, in my opinion, should be done by editors.

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  8. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 13:17:37

    I had to go back and read the beginning of this three times to figure out what exactly was going on. So, if I understand correctly, this agent has two clients who are starting an epress and she is now editing her OTHER clients’ work to suit this epress’s guidelines.

    Have I got that right?

    If I have, the next question is…do her other clients know she is changing their work for the purpose of making it marketable to a single publisher? If they don’t, it’s clearly unethical. But if they’ve given her permission to edit their work for the sole purpose of selling it to this epress (I personally can’t imagine that…I have an agent for the purpose of getting my work in front of multiple editors and multiple publishing houses…and preferably established ones that can pay me a reasonable advance and/or substantial royalty payments), then okay, more power to her.

    I just can’t figure out what’s in it for her unless the two clients you’ve discussed are PAYING her for it. (And if they are, did she tell her clients THAT?) Because frankly, royalties on books with epubs (with a few notable exceptions) are small enough that it’s hard to imagine her 15% royalty cut make the endeavor profitable enough to be worth her while.

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  9. Jane
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 13:27:49

    I didn’t mean to be so oblique. I should just link to the blog post itself, but I didn’t because I don’t have confirmation that the agent is involved, financially, with the epress. I asked, but didn’t get clarification.

    However, it is as you say, Jackie. The agent has two clients that started an epress. She is editing down her OTHER clients’ work to meet the new epress guidelines. The epress is an advance and royalty paying publisher. So I assume that the agent is being paid for her clients’ works.

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  10. Seressia
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 13:55:27

    There are agents with editing backgrounds who can offer valuable constructive critiques to make an author’s work more marketable. There are authors who actively look for such agents in order to take their careers/works to the next level.

    This has my spidey sense tingling. I’m not saying it’s wrong or right since I don’t have all the info. If it was my agent, I’d ask 1) did she send it to everyone else out there first, including successful, established epresses, before deciding to sell it to her other clients; 2) is she getting paid from her epress clients to send these manuscripts their way; 3) does our agent agreement cover her making changes to my manuscripts for any reason.

    If the agent talked to her other clients about this new publishing opportunity and all it required was editing the books appropriately and that she’d handle it and they agreed, then that’s on the authors not the agent. Me, I’d want proof that I got rejected by everyone else before signing on with a brand new epub that’s got to work twice (or thrice) as hard as others to win readers.

    And I’d still be the one editing my work, because hey–I’m the writer.

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  11. Lynne
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 16:38:15

    If she’s actually editing an anthology for them, she’s way more involved in the operation of the e-press than merely helping clients prep their manuscripts to fit the guidelines. It’s like she’s their employee or subcontractor or something.

    I think I know which agent this is, and I made up my mind a while back to steer clear. The sometimes sneering tone of her blog posts and the craptastic grammar were enough to put me off.

    And this person is now hanging out her shingle as an editor?! Oy.

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  12. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 17:04:50

    The epress is an advance and royalty paying publisher. So I assume that the agent is being paid for her clients' works.

    I wouldn’t doubt the epress would pay royalties, but advances? That’s pretty rare in the epublishing industry (though certainly not unheard of), but for a start-up, that would be surprising. There must be some deep pockets back there if they are, in fact, paying advances on contracted work.

    Notwithstanding, I find it hard to believe this agent’s ONLY financial interest in the edited works is her 15% cut of the advances/royalties. If that were her only interest, I doubt she’d make the changes herself. But that’s just a guess. My spidey sense, like Seressia’s, is tingling…

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  13. JulieLeto
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 18:48:38

    Val, I think you’re right that agents have to find balance between taking on a new voice and finding something that is marketable. That is why agents are considered the first line of defense against the unwashed masses (ie, writers!) who are submitting to publishers. Editors trust that certain agents, at least, have an eye for spotting good stuff–fresh voices that are also marketable and who can write well.

    Of course, all that is subjective to some degree, but then, what part of this industry isn’t?

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  14. Anion
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 19:38:15

    An agent editing their client’s work is normal; my agent made several editorial suggestions on my book before submitting, and every other writer I know’s agents did the same thing.

    But it appears this agent is indeed acting as a straight-up editor, in so far as she is putting together anthologies and posting calls for submissions to these anthos on her blog, without any mention of taking the authors of the chosen subs on as clients. In other words she is working purely in an editorial capacity and is presumably making some money from the whole thing. Presumably that money is coming from the publishers, as the payment on the stories is $1 per page(?!) and 38%.

    Personally, ANY agent who submits to epublishers is an agent I would avoid. My agent doesn’t touch my epub stuff; s/he (I’m being ambiguous, my agent isn’t a transexual) has much bigger fish to fry. That’s fun short stuff for me, side projects to fit in between other work. S/he did look over my contract (I only write for one epub house) as a favor and to make sure it didn’t conflict with any of the NY stuff, but that’s it.

    Any agent not savvy enough to know that start-up epublishers are a BAD bet for a writer is an agent I would worry about. Any agent so desperate for sales they’re submitting their clients’s work to such houses is an agent I would worry about. Any agent submitting their clients’s work to houses of which the owners are other clients? Man. Something is seriously fishy there.

    I was unable to find any info about this new publisher. No owners are listed on the site, no submission guidelines, no nothing. It’s not due to open for several months yet, and what is there looks nice and professional, but it’s clearly only ebook, and that’s a glutted market already (I mean erotic romance ebooks, not ebooks in general, sorry).

    Bottom line is, I’d always heard this agent has a good reputation, but I’m starting to wonder if something is rotten in Denmark.

    Oh, and I gotta go with Julie here. With all due respect, Val, I believe the book that got me my agent pushed some serious boundaries and tried some very new things; that’s why s/he signed me, and that’s why s/he sold my book(s).

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  15. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 00:07:30

    I think there are two separate but related issues here (at least):

    First there is the issue of the agent acting as editor (dual roles). That may not be an automatic conflict of interest as we usually think of it, but if the role of editor compromises the role of agent, or vice versa, then it’s just not good (and a COI).

    Then there’s the issue of the agent working both sides of the deal (dual clients) as it relates to the questions of consent and disclosure. If all parties are aware of and have knowledgeably consented to the deal then it may not seem like a great idea to others, but those who are participating are doing so cooperatively and that’s their business, so to speak.

    Back to the first issue of the dual roles, this would be my concern as an author considering any agent. I tend to think it can get difficult when one person occupies a number of different roles, because the various responsibilities are not always going to be in concert, and an author should be able to count on an agent to represent her *to* the publisher. In this case, it’s *to* and *on behalf of* AND *from* the publisher, which just seems like too many hats to be wearing comfortably or stylishly.

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  16. Angie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 00:43:58

    Why would anyone use an agent if they want to submit to an e-press? [blink] I certainly don’t use an agent with mine, and I can’t see any reason at all to pay someone 15% for what’s always been a very straightforward business transaction. It’s like paying an agent to submit your shorts to magazines — why?

    If this person’s clients really want their agent to do e-press submissions for them, then fine, whatever. But if they’re handing manuscripts to their agent with the impression that they’re going to be submitted to New York publishers, and they’re not only going to e-presses instead, but are being edited down for at least one of those e-presses, then IMO that’s a huge violation of ethics.

    Another issue is just who’s doing the work. This:

    for an agent to edit down the work of her clients

    gives me the impression that the agent is actually doing the editing, not just sending notes to the writers telling them to tighten up the beginning and cut Chapter Ten. I’d be very upset with an agent who actually edited my work for me, rather than making suggestions. Although again, if the writers involved are fine with this, then I guess it’s up to them.

    It just all sounds very squirrely to me. :/

    Angie

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  17. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:53:48

    I am a client of the agent in question—-who by the way, is one of the top agents in the industry in terms of sales. (She has sold literally thousands of books to the big NYC houses over the past 20 years, and has numerous NYT bestsellers to her credit). She was upfront about her connection to the publisher, and left it up to me whether I wanted my work placed there or not. The epress is paying advances, and also offering the most generous royalty split in the industry.

    The new epress in question has been started by two former editors at a major NYC publishing house. Those two editors had a combined experience of several decades in the big publishing industry, and chose to break away from traditional publishing because they felt it was not publishing the kind of erotica the market demanded. The publisher has substantial investment capital behind it, and there will be a huge media marketing push behind the launch. Because of the high level of credibility of the agent and editors behind this, I was confident in allowing my work to be submitted there. And the agent in question continues to submit my other work to print houses. (I should note that the work she submitted of mine didn’t need to be edited down; it was already the right length for this press).

    An agent’s job is to make money for her clients. If editing her clients’ work is what it takes to get the deals, that works for me.

    I recently fired my former agent of four years for not getting the job done in terms of sales. My new agent (the one in question on this post) has already gotten me more sales in one month than my former agent did in four years.

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  18. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:24:05

    You might also want to check out the parent company of the new epress, Hollan Publishers:

    http://www.hollanpub.com

    They are already established as a publisher of high-quality print books.

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  19. JulieLeto
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:22:59

    Just out of curiosity…but why all the secrecy with names? What epress? What editors?

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  20. Lynne
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:51:06

    Jill Elaine Hughes said:

    They are already established as a publisher of high-quality print books.

    Well, if “established” means being in business since fall of 2006. :-)

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  21. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:55:56

    I second Julie’s question.

    While the information we’ve received from Jill makes it appear this is all very much on the up and up, I have to admit that I’m still a little boggled over the idea of an agent actually “editing down” her clients’ work.

    Normally, when an agent wants her client to change something in a work prior to submission, she sends the client a revision letter detailing the changes she thinks should be made. Ditto publishers. The editor sends a revision letter to the author requesting changed and the author makes them and/or accepts/rejects specific line edits. The author is involved in the process every step of the way because the book is HER work and will go out with HER name on it.

    This isn’t to say what the agent is doing is wrong. Just that, as an author, I would not want my agent “editing down” my book for submission. I’d want to her explain to me what changes were needed and then allow me to make those changes myself, should I agree with them.

    ‘Nuff said.

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  22. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:03:09

    So they are a non-fiction publisher breaking into the fiction market by launching an erotic romance epublishing house.

    They certainly seem to have publishing experience, which is more than some epubs can say. But ero-rom is a tough market, as evidenced by the many companies that have imploded over the last couple of years. I certainly hope that they are successful–viable publishing options help us have careers.

    As for the agent, like I said in my earlier post, if the clients received full disclosure and are satisfied (as seems to be the case with Ms. Hughes), that’s on them. Some writers wouldn’t be comfortable with that, just as some writers aren’t comfortable with their agent writing in the same subgenre they do, and some writers beleive the agent’s job is to find a viable market for their work and the editor’s job is to edit. It’s part of what a writer has to decide when they are searching for and signing with an agent. We are all different and we all have different comfort levels.

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  23. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:17:54

    Lynne, Ravenous’ “sensual lifestyle” coffeetable books (which are shelved in the Human Sexuality section of most bookstores) have all been bestsellers in their niche. (50,000-150,000+ copies), which are HUGE numbers in such a short time for coffeetable books. SO I don’t think the lifespan of the publisher should be in question if it is pulling in those sales numbers in print books within 1 year of launch. Also, their print books are done in partnership with Sterling, a major publishing imprint.

    And the ebook publishers that imploded did so because the people who started them had no background in publishing and had absolutely no idea what they were doing. I think it’s pretty clear that Hollan/Ravenous knows exactly what they are doing.

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  24. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:20:53

    This isn't to say what the agent is doing is wrong. Just that, as an author, I would not want my agent “editing down” my book for submission. I'd want to her explain to me what changes were needed and then allow me to make those changes myself, should I agree with them.

    It is my understanding that my agent is only editing down books by her authors who have specifically given her permission to do so. Some other authors are making the changes themselves according her suggestions.

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  25. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:23:06

    There’s no secrecy: just visit http://www.hollanpress.com or http://www.ravenousromance.com. They only accept agented submissions, and don’t post editors’ names on their site—-just like the major houses.

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  26. Anion
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:40:26

    The epress is paying advances, and also offering the most generous royalty split in the industry.

    Actually, 38% is NOT the most generous royalty rate in the business, as anyone getting into epublishing should know. If I’m not mistaken there are several who pay 40%, including The Wild Rose Press (with whom I am in no way affiliated, and who I normally don’t recommend simply because they’re small and sales are low. But to be fair, they do offer a better split than “Ravenous Romance”, and they’re not the only ones.)

    And what sorts of advances are we talking about here?

    Look, Jill, if you’re comfortable with this that’s great. But publishing paperback art books and non-fiction is NOT like erotica/erotic romance epublishing. The fact remains that your work has been sold to a brand-new epublisher, with no name or connections in the epublishing world, by an agent who is also functioning as an editor for that house–which is in itself a conflict of interest no matter which way you look at it and no matter how big a name the agent has or had at one time. Epublishing readers tend to buy from the ehouses they’re familiar with; they don’t branch out as much. To succeed as an epublisher you need to know how to reach that audience and what they want, and believe me, competition is extremely stiff. Erotic romance ehouses are a dime a dozen; only a few are big enough that their authors earn more than pocket money.

    I sincerely wish everyone involved luck, I do. I like to see new houses succeed and I like to see people trying new things. But that doesn’t mean I think what’s going on here is right.

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  27. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:46:12

    Ahem. Their PRINT bestsellers by far have all been erotic “sensual lifestyle” cofeetable books. And these editors have 20 years experience in the NYC publishing world. They have already demonstrated they can deliver big sales in print in a very, very short period of time.

    The 38% split is only for domestic sales. There are several other markets which will also be exploited, at various royalty rates. And I’ll take 38% at a house that is actually capable of selling books over 40% at borderline, struggling Wild Rose any day.

    Furthermore, it is my understanding the marketing push for this new imprint will include full-page ads in Romantic Times, Publishers Weekly, and other major magazines, as well as major broadcast media. There will also be a huge presence at the Romantic Times conference in October.

    Say what you will, but this thing is going to be very, very big. My agent wouldn’t be touching this with a hundred-foot-pole if she didn’t think the numbers are going to be huge.

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  28. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:53:47

    Even if their sales are at the very top end of erotic romance epublishing (a few thousand copies) the involvement of an agent strikes me as odd and unnecessary, let alone the number of hours editing would take. And, no matter what their credentials are, an epress’s sales will not be at the top end while they are a start-up.

    I would be inclined to assume the agent had a motive other than the rather slim financial motive of, at best, a few hundred dollars. Agents typically paddle in richer waters than that. IMHO.

    The prediction that it will be very big seems odd given that it is currently very, very obscure–and the erotic ebook market is very, very crowded. Where is the niche? Where is the huge market?

    Many presses have splashed on print ads only to discover it is a misdirected and expensive habit given how few of the subscribers to big print even know what an ebook is, let alone want to read one.

    I agree with Anion, I don’t think these people understand the romance ebook readership. Or at least they are going to have some swirling mixed press online before they even get out of the blocks.

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  29. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:03:37

    I would be inclined to assume the agent had a motive other than the rather slim financial motive of, at best, a few hundred dollars. Agents typically paddle in richer waters than that. IMHO.

    Her motive is the expectation of extremely high sales, the highest ever seen in epublishing, and the resulting commissions on those sales.

    I can see that most of you are skeptical (so was I, at first), but those of us with the inside info on this publishing house are convinced they will blow the competition right out of the water from very early on.

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  30. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:16:45

    I have ‘outside’ info on the size of the erotic romance ebook reading public–and the number of companies already feeding it high quality product ( erecsite.com/PLIST.html ). I look at what Ellora’s cave, Samhain and Loose Id are doing and I think they are pretty much hitting the market that is there ( erecsite.com/SALES.html , brendahiatt.com/id2.html )

    So far the only evidence of Hollan’s ability to sell ebooks in the 10,000+ range is they are rather good at doing something else, and they plan to advertise in venues where the majority of readers are not very interested in ebooks (an approaches others have tried in the past many times). If there is more to it I would like to know. I think it would be unwise to underestimate what the top epublishers are already capable of, and to assume any company will certainly (or even probably) do an *order of magnitude* better.

    If there is a large untapped market we have all been ignorant of you will have my abject and sincere apologies for not seeing it. At all. The ebook reading publish is small, growing slowly, and I can’t see any way it would support those kind of figures over the next few years.

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  31. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:23:22

    The ebook reading publish is small, growing slowly

    I believe that is because the existing ebook houses that are keeping their heads above water (i.e., Ellora’s Cave) were not founded by people with a background in traditional publishing.

    In fact, even Ellora’s Cave’s founders admit to flying by the seat of their pants most of the time. 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. I’d rather have a seasoned publishing executive with 20 years experience publishing books that sell big behind a startup publisher than a an unpublished housewife like the head of EC was—who has indeed been successful, but probably not at the level she could have been had she had a solid publishing background.

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  32. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:31:37

    Then how do you explain the similar scale of sales by eHarlequin?

    I agree that publishing experience is great. But print publishing is different to ebook publishing. Mainly due to the ebook readership being much smaller and demographically much different. Not to mention the small issue of format and distribution.

    Time will tell.

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  33. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:47:11

    eHarlequin’s Spice Brief sales are doing well, is my understanding. And Harlequin is primarily a print publisher, so its readers are still buying all the titles it puts in eform in print. 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.

    There are a select few EC authors who earn mid-six figure annual royalty incomes from their Ellora’s titles alone, by the way (mostly those who write BDSM). And several of those authors are my agent’s clients.

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  34. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:52:25

    I’ll close by saying that I can understand the concerns that several posters have with this startup given what has happened with New Concepts, Triskelion, etc. But unlike some of the e-houses of the past (which are mostly run by insane idiots like Madris dePasture) Ravenous is just plain different. It’s been founded based on a solid business plan drawn up by seasoned, experienced publishing executives who have a solid track record of publishing high-selling books. It has significant investment capital behind it (which they could not have obtained had they not had a well-thought-out business plan.) They are working with top literary agents to acquire their titles. In other words, they are 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).

    We’ll see how it goes. I sincerely hope that the house becomes very successful not for my own sake, but so many of my fellow authors can have a lucrative, professional, and viable option for publishing.

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  35. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:55:53

    One thing I learned from collecting sales figures is that ‘very well’ doesn’t convey anything substantial. I haven’t got specific figures but a few reports of ‘similar to Ellora’s Cave’ and ‘not better than Ellora’s Cave’. maybe they have picked up since then with the give-away promotion.

    Let me put it another way. Ebooks are largely an online phenomena, that is where they are bought (predominantly straight from the publisher) and largely where they are marketed. So… is Ravenous e-books online launch going well? Because whether they intended it or not, their branding just started hitting their potential readership.

    Personally, I am not seeing the savvy. But that could (sincerely) just be me.

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  36. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:59:14

    I think you need to get the audience here better. I am not concerned about Ravenous going bankrupt (they might, they might not, but it certainly wasn’t my point). I just don’t for a second believe they will average sales in the ‘needs an agent’ range of 10,000 copies or higher. At least not for a good many years.

    Ravenous is not unique in having executives, capital and a plan. I see no evidence that they are boldly going where no epublisher has ever gone before, or that they are packing warp.

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  37. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:07:52

    Ravenous is not unique in having executives, capital and a plan. I see no evidence that they are boldly going where no epublisher has ever gone before, or that they are packing warp.

    And after having poked around Hollan’s site and the Ravenous Romance site, I also see no evidence that they are making any significant push to attract either readers or writers to the new e-imprint. There’s nothing anywhere online I can find regarding guidelines for manuscripts–this seems to be a trade secret. Perhaps, because they don’t take unagented submissions, they feel it’s unnecessary to disseminate this information to the broader public, but to me, holding one’s cards so close to one’s vest hardly seems indicative of a new publisher making a push that will result in a big splash.

    Could just be me, though….

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  38. ilona andrews
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:09:02

    There will also be a huge presence at the Romantic Times conference in October.

    April. RT is in April.

    http://www.rtconvention.com/

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  39. Anion
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:18:55

    I believe that is because the existing ebook houses that are keeping their heads above water (i.e., Ellora's Cave) were not founded by people with a background in traditional publishing.

    Oh, riiight, I see. It’s because Jaid Black didn’t have a background in traditional publishing that readers aren’t faster to adopt a reading format they don’t want. It’s because the existence of ebooks in general is such a sneaky secret. We were hoping Amazon might draw attention to the existence of ebooks when they came out with the Kindle but, man, they just didn’t put any money into promoting that thing at all, so I guess it’s got nothing to do with what format readers prefer.

    EC does well more than “keep their heads above water”. Over 11 million a year in sales is much more than “keeping their heads above water”. And those EC authors who make that kind of money? Have dozens of titles, in all different subgenres–not just BDSM, and the benefit of EC’s familiar and large name and reputation behind them.

    I don’t know why I’m bothering to respond here, honestly. You obviously know better than any of us who’ve actually been involved in epublishing for years, especially Emily who’s made almost a second career out of studying the business and educating writers on it.

    In fact, even Ellora's Cave's founders admit to flying by the seat of their pants most of the time. 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.

    It’s not as simple as “a lack of knowledge about publishing”. As we keep trying to tell you–we, who have years of experience in this specific area–epublishing and print publishing are different beasts. EC practically invented epublishing. They fly by the seat of their pants because that’s what trailblazers DO. (And despite anyone’s personal opinions about EC or its founders or the direction of the company, I think we can all agree that they created an industry, and NY followed, right?)

    Also, 50,000-150,000 copies sold is a bestseller in any niche. Could you please share those titles with us? Surely we’ve heard of them, seen them on the lists? I’d love to check out some of the company’s bestsellers.

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  40. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:40:29

    I looked at Ravenous’s print books sales ranks. The best of them is #60,822 and most are more than #100,000–and that includes recent releases. Note, although it is not an exact science, one copy a week works out at about #50,000. That is only one distributor, admittedly. But combined with other online discussion about the founders career history I would not rush to choose them over Jaid (and I am not one who would rush to choose Jaid).

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  41. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:46:48

    Here’s an article from the Boston Globe on Hollan’s bestselling sex titles:
    http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/smut_for_sophisticates/
    The article is from some time ago, but gives some background on the press and its future directions. I believe the titles it has put out that qualify for “blockbuster” status are :
    The Cosmo Kama Sutra and its somewhat perplexing spinoff, Cosmo's Aqua Kama Sutra,
    69 Ways to Please Your Lover
    Diary of a Sex Fiend.

    Also, I misspoke regarding the RT conventoin in October. I meant to say that in addition to a huge marketing push in the RT’s October issue, there will be a huge media/convention push for Ravenous in October, which will include author/publisher appearances in some major venues. I don’t have a lot of into on that right now since I’m not slated to be one of the authors making public appearances (as I’ll be out of the country for most of October) but if you watch Lori Perkins’ blog as well as the Ravenous site, I’m sure the details will be posted there soon.

    It seems no amount of evidence I post here will convince the naysayers, so I guess we’ll just see where the sales go once the imprint launches. There were a lot of people (including writers) who said Ellora’s Cave wouldn’t get off the ground, too. Just saying.

    And since the press is getting all its titles from agents of its own choosing, that would be why they aren’t advertising for submissions right now. They might in the future, they might not, I don’t know.

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  42. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:49:12

    I looked at Ravenous's print books sales ranks. The best of them is #60,822 and most are more than #100,000-and that includes recent releases

    Amazon sales rank is not a reliable indicator of actual-copy sales, especially for coffee-table books, the vast majority of which are sold in bookstores. 75% of print book sales still come from booksellers.

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  43. Karen Templeton
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:55:59

    Following this thread with interest (and not saying more than that ;-), but have to agree that Amazon sales rank numbers mean virtually nothing unless you’re talking major, major seller. Series romance numbers, for instance, are generally abysmal for the rank-and-file category writer, because most copies are purchased in stores. And because the numbers reflect RECENT activity more than NUMBERS, an older book ranked in the millions might well have sold in the mid-five figures when it was new.

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  44. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:59:31

    Indeed, that is quite true. But it interests me that Sterling/Ravenous print books sell worse, on Amazon, than print books from many epublishers (like Samhain, top seller #2,762). And epublishers make the majority of their sales in an entirely different format. Amazon is a rough measure, but 100,000 is a very big number. Add 75%, add 95%, it will still not be a very large figure.

    I am not really feeling convinced that Hollan/Ravenous are on a higher plan of ability even in the world of print. Of course I will be happy to see how many of their books are stock in my local Borders, maybe a few other will do the same (or to be extra fair, Barnes & Nobles, which has a special connection with Sterling)

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  45. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:01:10

    And since the press is getting all its titles from agents of its own choosing, that would be why they aren't advertising for submissions right now.

    Wow. Just wow.

    Is there any reputable publishing house that limits submissions by advertising its guidelines only to its “favored” agents? I am well aware that many editors prefer working with some agents over others and give certain agents’ submissions preference over others, but as far as I know, most publishers that accept only agented submissions don’t restrict which agents can submit to them.

    Basically, what this publisher is saying is that only authors who are represented by certain agents can submit to them. If you have an agent, but it’s not one of their “approved” agents, you’re out of luck. And, of course, just as it’s not telling you whether any of your work might fit its guidelines, it’s not even telling WHICH agents are on its list.

    Maybe I’m naive. But for now, I’m just flabbergasted.

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  46. Anion
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:11:57

    I don’t think you understand, Jackie. We’re clearly dealing with a company so exclusive, so incredible, so perfect in every single way, that the rest of us are simply incapable of processing it. This is something the likes of which has never been seen before, don’t you get it? It’s clearly not for peons like us to say anything. We’re just rabble.

    As I’ve said, I genuinely wish everyone success. I like to see new publisher succeed. I’d love to see a great new venue for writers. But I’m also realistic and understand the business of epublishing, and I think I have a right to wonder.

    Oh, Jill, could you please share with us the names of some of the writers whose work will be the debut titles of Ravenous? That would probably help the rest of us judge what sort of stories we can expect.

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  47. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:51:02

    And to be fair, when one’s agent is also the agent of both owners of the press, there is bound to be a natural mutual understanding

    agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2008_08_10_archive.html#2337294159433917276

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  48. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:58:38

    I know that my agent, Lori Perkins, has sold several of her clients’ works to Ravenous, including my own. And since Ms. Perkins is currently the USA’s top agent for erotica (i.e., she reps the bulk of the erotica authors whose print books consistently sell 10,000+ copies in print), you can bet that it’s top erotica authors. As for which ones she’s sold to Ravenous, you’d need to ask Ms. Perkins herself, but I know for a fact she reps the following authors:

    Alison Tyler
    Jenna Jameson (yes, the porn star)
    Wendy Diamond
    Polly Frost
    Kirsten Lobe
    Cecelia Tan

    Following this thread with interest (and not saying more than that ;-), but have to agree that Amazon sales rank numbers mean virtually nothing unless you’re talking major, major seller.

    Kimberly is absolutely right. Amazon sales rank is totally meaningless as far as actual copy sales go. (Nielsen Bookscan has to-the-minute actual copy numbers). And most ebooks are still purchased direct from the publishers, not via Amazon.

    Basically, what this publisher is saying is that only authors who are represented by certain agents can submit to them. If you have an agent, but it's not one of their “approved” agents, you're out of luck.

    I frankly don’t see how the publisher only choosing to work with certain agents is a big deal. Plenty of big houses do just that. And the fact is, very, very few agents are representing erotica right now. So it would make sense to me that they would only work with agents that have an existing stable of published erotica clients (and there are only a couple of those). Any legitimate publisher has the right to be highly selective and publish only the best quality available, and by going directly to only those agents that rep proven authors that write exactly what the publisher is looking for, that is good business sense to me. If they open themselves up to unsolicited, unagented submissions, they’ll get flooded with a bunch of crap, and will then in turn take insane lengths of time to wade through the crap before they can actually publish anything.

    I think I am now hearing something that sounds a lot like sour grapes.

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  49. Angie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:11:46

    Any legitimate publisher has the right to be highly selective and publish only the best quality available, and by going directly to only those agents that rep proven authors that write exactly what the publisher is looking for, that is good business sense to me.

    I’ve never heard of any publisher who only chose writers from certain agents. While there are well-known agents with excellent stables of writers, no tiny pool of agents has ever had anywhere near a monopoly on the “best quality available” in writer-land. That attitude just sounds whacked to me.

    I think I am now hearing something that sounds a lot like sour grapes.

    Ad hominem, dear. I don’t see sour grapes at all, but more incredulous blinking. Those of us who are primarily e-published don’t have agents, so there’s absolutely no “sour grapes” in our being all o_O over your new e-publisher taking only manuscripts from certain, choice agents; it doesn’t affect us one way or the other, and no one here is saying, “But my agent is worthy!!!” It’s just that the whole idea is a bit weird, in general. [bemused smile]

    I do hope this works out for you all. I’m just not betting any cookies at this moment.

    Angie

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  50. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:17:25

    oops—typo. The correct spelling of one of the above authors is “Cecilia Tan”.

    FWIW, Ms. Perkins is looking to expand her stable of erotica clients, so if you write erotica (epubbed or print-pubbed), and need an agent, query her.

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  51. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:21:20

    I frankly don't see how the publisher only choosing to work with certain agents is a big deal. Plenty of big houses do just that.

    As I said, maybe I am naive. Maybe this IS common practice. It’s just that when I go to publisher spotlights at RWA, what I hear is not “We only accept submissions from certain agents” but “We only accepted agented submissions.” The implications are pretty different, yes?

    If they open themselves up to unsolicited, unagented submissions, they'll get flooded with a bunch of crap, and will then in turn take insane lengths of time to wade through the crap before they can actually publish anything.

    Of course, that was not my suggestion. They have a perfect right to accept only agented submissions. I have no issues with the notion of accepting only agented submissions. But there is a difference between “agented submissions” and “submissions from only these agents.” I just think that’s limiting the pool so much, the publisher could be shooting itself in the foot.

    Perhaps it’s a great model, though. Time will tell.

    And it’s certainly not sour grapes. Just concern that a startup publisher may be overselling its prospects to authors who are represented by agent(s) with whom it has a particularly cozy relationship.

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  52. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:27:55

    I don’t know for sure, but it could be they are only limiting themselves to certain agents for their preliminary set of books at initial launch. This may or may not be their practice once the house is up and running.

    But whatever they choose to do or not to do, legit publishing is a buyers’ market, and when it comes to buying manuscripts, the buyers make the rules. This is the way it’s always been. If this is how they choose to acquire their books, aspiring writers really aren’t in any position to tell them no. As someone else already pointed out, there are plenty of other epublishers out there. Go submit your work somewhere else if you don’t like this house or don’t like the way it does business.

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  53. Karen Templeton
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:47:43

    I guess what’s most perplexing to many of us (and I think Veinglory touched on this point above) is the assumption that this publisher is somehow going to convince the hordes of readers who don’t read e-books for reasons that have little to with editorial content that these books are worth plunking down $$$ for an e-reader, ignoring the tactile issues that keep many readers firmly in the print camp, etc. Were they to launch in both print and e-book, it would make more sense. But only in e-book format?

    Not getting it. Hence the skepticism.

    And that’s not sour grapes, but simply flags going up for a number of us who’ve been at this for a while, too. Not to say the model can’t/won’t work, that perhaps there’s something at play here the cynics among us aren’t seeing. But when you figure in this idea that they’re only accepting from a limited pool of agents — which I assume means they won’t even look at queries from other agents — it just looks…off.

    Sorry.

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  54. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:01:55

    The thing that will finally settle all of this controversy is sales numbers. I’ll check back in next January or so with a report.

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  55. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:10:35

    I think at this point the only evidence that will convince naysayers will be actual sales numbers. Because saying it’s going to have 40% sell through or kick other established e-houses in the wallet is all well in good, but you still have to get readers to come knocking–and buying.

    Those who purchase ebooks is small portion of the market. If we take Ms. Hughes data, 25% of sales still come from brick and mortar. Even if we’re generous and say that Amazon owns half of all online books ales, there’s still a smaller number that is electronic sales, and that’s with them hawking the Kindle left and right (on their site, of course.)

    I also don’t think one can say publisher A is going to be gangbusters in an area they aren’t known for (Sterling) then bash another publisher B with the same model (Harlequin) especially when Publisher B is a known and decades old name in romance. Cause I think we can say Harlequin knows what from marketing.

    It is entirely possible that there will be crossover between coffee-table book buyers and erotic romance ebook buyers. 100% crossover, the law of averages says not. Otherwise, Harlequin would have 100% crossover on its titles (as in one Spice sold for every Blaze or Desire), as would all the other major houses with e-titles.

    I think the only true success story of an ebook is Stephen King’s The Plant, which grossed over $700K for six installments, with profit at just over $400K. But that’s Stephen King and dude’s got millions in print. And he did stop that experiment.

    Based on what’s been presented here, Ravenous is a publishing house created by clients of one agent, and is only taking submissions from clients of said agent. That’s the only thing that seems to be different from other epublishing ventures at the moment. Again, I hope Ravenous goes like gangbusters. The spidey sense, though, she’s still a-tingling.

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  56. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:18:00

    Mea culpa. It’s looks like we’re talking straight erotica, not erotic romance. Perhaps therein lies the difference.

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  57. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:22:00

    Mea culpa. It's looks like we're talking straight erotica, not erotic romance. Perhaps therein lies the difference.

    Although that does make one wonder why they chose to call the imprint “Ravenous ROMANCE,” doesn’t it?

    I have to admit, I’ll be following this publisher’s progress with interest. Not because I hope it doesn’t live up to expectations, but because it would be so marvelous if, for once, the caveat “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” didn’t prove to be accurate.

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  58. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:31:28

    there will be straight erotica (of all kinds, including M/F, M/M, F/F, BDSM, and all levels of kink), romantic erotica, erotic memoir, and sexy romance.

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  59. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 15:42:34

    to put things another way, they are selling porn. ;) And porn is by far the most lucrative thing on the Internet.

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  60. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 16:14:11

    to put things another way, they are selling porn. ;) And porn is by far the most lucrative thing on the Internet.

    Ah, is it time to break out the ‘Romance is not porn’ flashcards? If, as Perkins claims on the blog entry you linked too, Ravenous is an “erotic Romance” publisher, I hope everyone involved understands that genre Romance, even erotic Romance, is not the same thing as erotica. Or porn, for that matter.

    I can see that most of you are skeptical (so was I, at first), but those of us with the inside info on this publishing house are convinced they will blow the competition right out of the water from very early on.

    Quite honestly, what comes across to me most strongly in this thread is that everyone involved in this venture is looking for the quick buck — that it’s a get rich quick in publishing endeavor, not a let’s publish some really good quality erotica and hopefully get rich doing it venture. And while I’m not so naive to believe that publishing isn’t ultimately about profit, we’ve seen the casualties of straight greed in the myriad dead small print and all-size electronic publishers. Now it may be that the goals are not primarily those of profiting from porn, as your last post suggested, but that’s what I’m picking up, especially given the close quarters Perkins and Ravenous currently occupy.

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  61. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 16:18:46

    What comes across to me is that maybe some of the people participating in this new endeavor haven’t done very much research at all into erotic romance epublishing as it currently exists, respecting what it is and its readership (*especially* respecting the readers), and coming up with a practical plan to do it different and better. Because eventually someone will break through the sales volume glass ceiling for erotic romance ebooks; I just wouldn’t count on it being Ravenous.

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  62. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 16:54:19

    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 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.

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  63. Angie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 17:10:00

    Umm, no. Erotica and porn are not the same thing. I agree with you that neither erotica nor porn are bad, but after that we’re completely on opposite sides of the fence.

    And erotic romance is another beast entirely. One of the main issues I think is hurting the erotica/romance industry is that too many publishers try to pretend that erotic romance is the same as erotica or porn, tossing all their books with explicit sex into the same bin and leaving it to the readers, who might prefer one flavor or another, to sort it out at random. Personally, if I’m looking for an erotic romance and I spend money on a book that turns out to be erotica, or even porn, I feel cheated and am much less likely to spend money with that writer or publisher again.

    Porn — sex for the sake of sex. The whole point of its existence is the “Yay, sex!” factor. And no, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Erotica — sex with plot, but the point is still the sex. No need for an HEA or even for the characters to know one another’s names. More than a fuck scene (or just a string of fuck scenes, if it’s a novel) but without romance’s boundaries and conventions.

    Erotic romance — this is a romance, with the usual genre conventions, but focusing heavily on the sex. A good erotic romance will make sure the sex scenes all pull their weight as elements of the story, but the sex and eroticism feature heavily in the storyline itself, allowing or even requiring quite a lot of sex because the story demands it.

    And that’s not even considering “regular” romances which happen to have explicit sex.

    There are differences, and it’s not fair (or smart, in the long run) for a publisher to try to pretend otherwise. By labelling each story clearly, they can appeal to the audience which wants that sort of story. Lumping all three under one label is like selling vegetables in opaque plastic bags all labelled “CUCUMBERS” when actually the customer might be buying carrots or zucchini or potatoes or celery or kale, depending on which bag they pick up out of the bin. It’s ridiculous and it leads to annoyed customers.

    It might work sometimes, if a store actually carries only yams and its regular customers like yams and learn that if they buy what the store calls cucumbers they’ll get the yams they want. But yam-lovers who don’t know the code won’t buy them, and cucumber-lovers who hate yams will spend their money and be annoyed with what they get. This is a crazed way to do business and the fact that there are publishers who operate this way and do make money because they have a pool of readers who happen to like what they’re offering and have broken the code, doesn’t make it any less crazed.

    Angie

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  64. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 17:17:18

    I promised myself I wouldn’t post again in this thread, but I can’t seem to help myself. (Is there a 12-step program for Commentaholics?)

    But this did me in…

    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.

    And it would seem that Ravenous is dancing around it every bit as much. If they weren’t, why did they not call it Ravenous Porn instead of Ravenous Romance?

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  65. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 17:37:22

    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.

    Um, this is a NONFICTION title by a famous porn star. You can't equate the sales of such a book with the sales of an epublished erotic romance. This isn't apples and oranges, it's elephants and pebbles. If you told me your agent repped Molly Weatherfield (aka one of the top 25 sexiest authors ever according to Playboy) and had put her on the NYT's list I'd be more inclined to assume you know what you're talking about.

    I’ll be curious to see how the epublisher does (though I don’t hold out high hopes based on what I’ve seen so far). And no, this isn't sour grapes. I’m a print published author with no desire to break into the epublishing market (in fact, my agent would laugh her ass off if I even suggested such a thing, and I have frineds at Loose-Id should I ever change my mind).

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  66. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:28:17

    I’m still trying to figure out what porn Joyce Carol Oates has written.

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  67. Anion
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:38:03

    I don't think calling erotica porn is off-base at all. (After all, I write it).

    WOW! Really? You write it? Because none of the rest of us do. In fact, you’re the only one here with any experience in publishing at all, especially epublishing. So thanks for educating us.

    Angie has it exactly right. If you’re calling yourself Ravenous Romance, you better be publishing romance, or you’re going to upset readers. And Jackie has it right too–why not call it Ravenous Porn? Who’s dancing around the issue there?

    Porn is different from erotica or erotic romance. I sometimes jokingly refer to my erotic work as “porn” as a joke or in moments of levity; I certainly don’t imply anyone who doesn’t see it that way is stupid. To be perfectly honest, if it’s porn I want, why would I bother paying money for a literary ebook without pictures? Why wouldn’t I simply go to any one of thousands of free websites and blogs with pornographic content?

    As Kalen said, there is a HUGE difference between an erotic non-fiction written by a famous porn star and an erotica/erotic romance/PORN ebook. And why do you keep making this about your agent’s choices of what will sell in erotica? Is your agent one of the publishers? Shouldn’t you be telling us how the publishers know what works and sells in erotic fiction?

    You do realize, don’t you, that (with all due respect) 10k print copies sold is not that much, right? That Lora Leigh and Angela Knight and yes, even that sad housewife Jaid Black regularly sell several times over those numbers?

    I really do hope for the best. I keep repeating it because you seem incapable of understanding that by having questions and doubts we’re not saying you’re stupid or trying to put you or anyone else down. I think we would all like to see this venture succeed. And we’d love you to keep us posted.

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  68. Smarmy
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:38:20

    Joyce Carol Oates’ _entire canon_ deals with sex and sexuality to some degree. She also writes some very explicit stuff under a variety of pseudonyms. (See her Wikipedia page).

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  69. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:45:13

    I’ll keep everyone posted. The only reason I posted here in the first place was to show that the agent/publisher relationship that was being questioned in the OP was on the up-and-up. And of course, the resulting discussion has devolved into petty insults, defensiveness, and name-calling. I was merely trying to share the information I had from the inside, and I got crucified for it at every turn.

    I have nothing against Jaid Black or Ellora’s Cave, by the way. I LIKE EC and their books. Ms. Black is obviously very successful, but I also think she was just very, very lucky. (i.e., she had the right idea at the right time, and she is also one of those unique individuals who can improvise and adapt quickly, and it was this quality that helped her succeed using her innovative epub business model, despite her lack of publishing knowledge.)

    On the other hand, EC’s print division is taking a bath financially, according to my understanding. And I think that may be rooted in the administrators’ lack of experience in the traditional print market. I may be proven wrong at a later date, of course, and that would be great for EC and its print authors. Just as all the naysayers on this board may be proven wrong.

    Cordially—

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  70. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:16:24

    I'll keep everyone posted. The only reason I posted here in the first place was to show that the agent/publisher relationship that was being questioned in the OP was on the up-and-up. And of course, the resulting discussion has devolved into petty insults, defensiveness, and name-calling. I was merely trying to share the information I had from the inside, and I got crucified for it at every turn.

    LMAO, this is priceless. You may want to scroll back and see with whom the petty insults actually started. I can even give you some hints (do a text check for “insane” or “unpublished housewife” or “borderline, struggling” for starters.)

    This discussion hasn’t been a cruxifiction at all. This has been experienced, professional writers asking questions about a new publishing venture, questions that ANY writer wanting to get (and stay) published should ask. It is good business sense. It’s all well and good for you to make claims on the publisher’s behalf, but the fact remains that they are planning to launch an erotic romance publishing house (two months from now? With nothing on their website about it yet?) and they have no experience in romantic fiction erotic or otherwise.

    Some of us have been through the fire, so forgive us for being cautious when we see smoke.

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  71. I Should be working
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:21:23

    I don’t have an ebook reader, and don’t know the quality of pictures they show. However, if they are good… I’m looking at what Hollan has done so far, pictures along with content for their nonfiction. I’m thinking about the question–what would draw a “new” market for the erotica romance or straight erotica books that would get the huge numbers in sales? Then I’m thinking, mixing the erotic pictures into the fiction books maybe? A fully illustrated erotica romance book?

    Just wondering.

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  72. Smarmy
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:25:00

    You actually don’t need an ebook reader to read ebooks. You can just download them to a regular PC and read them on the PC, or you can download and print them. This is what I do.

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  73. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:25:18

    Joyce Carol Oates' _entire canon_ deals with sex and sexuality to some degree. She also writes some very explicit stuff under a variety of pseudonyms. (See her Wikipedia page).

    I’m not unfamiliar with Oates (/understatement), so I’m assuming you’re being sarcastic here. You are being sarcastic, right? Because even at her most provocative, Oats is writing *about* sex and sexuality, in the same way she likes to write about violence, about family, about class, about sexual politics and gender, etc.

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  74. Smarmy
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:25:45

    and they have no experience in romantic fiction erotic or otherwise.

    I don’t think this is true, actually.

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  75. Smarmy
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:33:57

    I believe that Joyce Carol Oates has written sexual thrillers under her pseudonym “Lauren Kelly.”

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  76. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:35:58

    I see a bunch of erotic nonfiction on their website. I haven’t seen any romantic fiction, erotic or otherwise. If you could point me to some, I’d love to take a look. Research is important.

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  77. Anion
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:44:42

    Never mind.

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  78. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:48:43

    I believe that Joyce Carol Oates has written sexual thrillers under her pseudonym “Lauren Kelly.”

    I tend to think of her Rosamond Smith books as more sexualized, but in any case I would never place Oates’s work in the categories of Romance, erotica, erotic Romance, or porn.

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  79. Jill Noelle
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 20:32:41

    Just posted this in the EREC blog…reposting it here, slightly edited.

    Did anyone download their free short story (which, by the way, they call a Hot Fling — Does Loose Id still use the term Fling for their shorts?).

    Anyway, I signed up for their newsletter and downloaded the short. I found it an interesting little tale, but hardly erotic and barely romantic. This is a good representative sample of the erotic/sexual content…you can judge for yourself:

    She pulled a condom from her bedside table and rolled it over his cock, and Joe fucked her in a variety of positions, trailing a train of denim and cotton from one ankle. — from Hair, by Jo Atkinson.

    Personally, I prefer something with a little more detail, a lot more emotion and, well, a few more words. :-) But even with the lack of truly erotic and/or romantic content, and even though the ending fell a little flat for me, the author still managed to capture my attention.

    I also paid a visit to the agent’s blog site. According to her posts, I gather erotic romance is a fairly new genre for her. (Notice I said erotic romance, not erotica). She posted a topic on books/themes she’d like to see, and then chose one idea after a few people had responded (Sex and Shoes-themed), and did a call for submissions. She stated the new epublisher will pay $1 per page, plus 38% royalties. I’m guessing the $1/page is the advance mentioned earlier? Better than nothing, but not as good as some…

    In any case, they’re making big claims, so I’ll be watching them closely to see how they do. And of course, I wish them well. :-)

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  80. Smarmy
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 22:13:53

    Ms. Perkins has posted the following comment on her blog in response to some of the controversy posted here today:

    Lori Perkins said…
    “Any agent can submit to Ravenous Romance.

    I’ve always worn many hats in publishing. I’ve published 4 nonfiction books, edited two erotica anthologies and have been an adjunct professor at NYU for two decades.”

    So I think that dispells a lot of the concerns people had that she was the only agent submitting work.

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  81. Anion
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 05:20:54

    Yes, but what it doesn’t do is dispel the concerns that what she’s doing by being involved with this publisher clearly violates AAR’s Canon of Ethics. In other words, the professional association for literary agents considers what she is doing to be unethical.

    Oh and, yeah…that excerpt? With all due respect to the writer, why would any woman buy that when she can go to EC or Samhain or Loose-Id or LSB and get something really detailed and hot? Or hell, go to her local bookstore and get something really hot, with a satisfying story around it?

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  82. Just Saying
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 08:03:40

    Yes, but what it doesn't do is dispel the concerns that what she's doing by being involved with this publisher clearly violates AAR's Canon of Ethics.

    This may be why she chooses not to be a member of the AAR.

    Yet she is “Highly Recommended” by Preditors & Editors–one of a select few—was recently named one of the top 10 literary agents by Writers Digest, is often cited by SFWA as one of the best agents to land, she takes only 3-4 new clients each year out of more than 30,000 queries, she has sold more than 2000 titles including many NYT bestsellers, etc. etc. etc.)

    Your mileage may vary, of course.

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  83. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 09:16:47

    This is a good representative sample of the erotic/sexual content…you can judge for yourself:

    She pulled a condom from her bedside table and rolled it over his cock, and Joe fucked her in a variety of positions, trailing a train of denim and cotton from one ankle. -’ from Hair, by Jo Atkinson.

    OMG. I just shot tea out my nose. That’s freaken hi-alrious (as Jayne from Firefly would say).

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  84. Anion
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 09:36:29

    Whether she’s a member of AAR or not doesn’t change the fact that they consider what she’s doing to be a violation of ethics. It is a practice they do not approve of or condone and one they warn writers to beware of.

    I really wish some people in this thread were capable of understanding that nobody is saying Lori Perkins isn’t an effective agent or hasn’t been one in the past. We’re not calling her names. We’re not calling her a scammer. We’re not even warning people away from her. We are simply noting that she is doing something unethical, and gambling with her clients’s work on a start-up epublisher with no guarantee of success, which is something authors should be aware of when they’re considering whom to query.

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  85. Just Saying
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 10:09:17

    I don’t think it’s unethical as long as she’s upfront about it, and leaves the decision whether to submit there or not up to her clients.

    It’s only unethical if she’s steering clients’ work there at the expense of more lucrative deals elsewhere, while also not disclosing her involvement with the publisher. And that doesn’t seem to be what she’s doing at all.

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  86. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 11:01:43

    I have to say, I am much relieved to hear that Ms. Hughes was mistaken with regard to the issue of whether any agent may submit work to the publisher, although it isn’t clear to me that many agents would bother since the publisher doesn’t appear to be making any significant effort to inform anyone of its existence, submission guidelines, etc. Of course, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but it seems odd that an erotic epublisher with a planned launch in several months’ time isn’t making itself broadly known now, especially if it hopes to “blow the competition out of the water from early on.”

    I do want to express my sympathy for Ms. Hughes, who went to the trouble of trying to answer our questions and only got more questions and skepticism. I hope it’s clear that my only motive here (and I think the motive of other posters with similar concerns) is that I hate to see authors get the shaft. That’s not to say that’s what’s going to happen here, but I’ve been around long enough to take big promises and high expectations with little practical action with a huge grain of salt.

    And that’s what I see here. Big promises. High expectations. But very little “there” there that any outsider could reasonably see.

    That’s not naysaying or ill-wishing. It’s just observation of the available facts.

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  87. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 11:48:00

    I appreciate your comments, Jackie.

    FYI, I just got off the phone with my agent this morning and we discussed the controversy here a bit. One thing she did mention is that Ravenous will be working in partnership with Simon & Schuster on putting some of their better-selling ebooks into print.

    I think they have not been forthcoming about submission guidelines, etc., because they don’t have to in order to get quality work submitted to them from agents who are up-to-speed on the erotica business. It is after all part of the job of a good literary agent to sniff out new markets well before the public gets a hold of that info. As my agent told me today, “traditional publishing is a bit like the Mafia, and a lot of info is just totally kept from public consumption.”

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  88. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 12:42:13

    I think they have not been forthcoming about submission guidelines, etc., because they don't have to in order to get quality work submitted to them from agents who are up-to-speed on the erotica business.

    *head desk* *head desk* I’d love to see a list of the agents who are falling over themselves to submit their client’s “quality work” to a start-up epress. My friends who write erotic romance for big houses (like Pocket) have agents for those deals, but their agents aren't interested in their sales to EC, Loose-Id etc. because the return just isn't worth the investment of their time.

    It is after all part of the job of a good literary agent to sniff out new markets well before the public gets a hold of that info. As my agent told me today, “traditional publishing is a bit like the Mafia, and a lot of info is just totally kept from public consumption.”

    One again: *head desk*. All the “traditional publishers” I’m aware of who are in the erotic romance business go out of their way to let the writers know what they’re looking for (hello, RWA publishes updates like this all the time for their membership).

    If this really is the belief/plan of this new house, I’m simply blown away by the lack of industry savvy already on display.

    I'm so emailing my agent to ask if she's even heard of this start-up. I just can't help myself . . .

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  89. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:10:17

    One again: *head desk*.

    You know, this level of rudeness is just ridiculous. I’m just sharing the info I have because that is what people have asked for. There’s no need to run me through a shredder if you don’t like the info I present about this startup. (And a a startup epress already having a print partnership with Simon & Schuster is hardly something to sneeze at.)

    I also have agented print contracts with major houses, just FYI. (I also don’t write erotica under my own name).

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  90. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:11:56

    If this really is the belief/plan of this new house, I'm simply blown away by the lack of industry savvy already on display.

    Well, here’s the thing. If the publisher has strong connections to multiple agents who represent erotica/erotic romance writers–and I could make a list of at least a dozen high-powered agents in that market aside from Ms. Perkins just off the top of my head–they may not NEED to disseminate information about their submission guidelines to the general public.

    But if their plan is to launch an epress in several months and have it blow the competition out of the water in short order, there’s a stunning lack of promotion directed at the very people one presumes would buy their books–i.e., people who use the Internet. If you do a Google search on terms like “epublisher” and “erotica” and “erotic romance,” Ravenous Romance is nowhere to be found in the first half dozen or so pages. And a search for “Ravenous Romance” itself brings up Emily Veinglory’s post on the EREC blog but doesn’t even FIND their site.

    How are they enticing readers and expanding the market for erotic ebooks? Where’s the marketing push to get readers to try their freebie and convince them to come back for more? I just don’t see it. If anything, what I see is a rather arrogant “If we build it, they will come” attitude, both toward authors/agents and the readership they hope to attract. And, aside from _Field of Dreams_, I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen.

    Again, though, I’ll admit that there may be factors at work here I’m just not seeing. Maybe they are targeting a completely different market than that previously tapped by epublishers (people NOT on the Internet? people who don’t currently read romance/erotica?) and that’s why I’m not seeing the push. I am more than happy to be proved wrong here, because I’d love to see ebooks become a truly competitive and viable market.

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  91. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:15:43

    The big marketing push will begin in October, in multiple media outlets, according to my understanding.

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  92. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:29:56

    You know, this level of rudeness is just ridiculous. I'm just sharing the info I have because that is what people have asked for.

    Really? Cause it looks to me like you’re sharing your own *rah rah* OPINION and asserting that those of us who are skeptical of the claims being made are either ignorant of just how publishing works or are full of sour grapes (those specific words are yours, and if you want to talk about rudeness, that accusation would seem to far outweigh *head desk*).

    You're selling, we're not buying. Time will tell (and I'll certainly be watching to see how this plays out).

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  93. veinglory
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:36:51

    Also the readers of sites like DearAuthor are read by some of the people you are going to be selling to. Onlign PR yur doin it rong. That was probably rude. I’m going into time out now. p.s. Jackie, it doesn’t find their site because their site doesn’t have a google page rank. Hmmm.

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  94. veinglory
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 14:07:07

    Damn my typos. Damn them.

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  95. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 15:23:09

    I’m signing off too. I’ll post updates again around the time of the marketing push in October, and again in January after the publisher has launched.

    Best wishes to everyone and their writing careers, be they online or in print (or both).

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  96. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 15:24:22

    One last response—

    Maybe they are targeting a completely different market than that previously tapped by epublishers (people NOT on the Internet? people who don't currently read romance/erotica?) and that's why I'm not seeing the push.

    This is exactly what they are doing.

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  97. Anion
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 16:00:10

    Jill, dear. Virgin Black Lace is a good house. It is _not_ a major one. It hardly has distribution in the US.

    I suggest you learn the industry before you start presuming to educate all of us on it, and any rudeness in this thread most certainly started with you, as Seressia pointed out earlier. I’d be happy to give you the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps you don’t realize how you come off in print…but you’re a writer, Jamaica Layne. You should know.

    So Ravenous’s big idea is to push ebooks and erotic stories at people who have not previously indicated they want those things? Hey. It could work. As always, I wish you and them success.

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  98. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 16:33:19

    It hardly has distribution in the US

    Ummm, not true. I can buy all their current frontlist Virgin titles at my local Barnes & Noble (in-stock, not ordering). And they are also paying for front-turning and table space. There was indeed a time when they didn’t have good US distribution, but that has changed. Go check out your local Borders or Barnes & Noble if you don’t believe me. Portia Da Costa’s latest title is getting a lot of attention especially.

    My Virgin book will be receiving some pretty big US publicity this fall (full-page ad in the RT, premium store placement, promotion to all the major US reviewers, etc.)

    You obviously don’t know everything, either.

    And I have some other contracts for books that are not yet released. (Just got one today, in fact).

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  99. Anion
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 19:42:21

    My Virgin book will be receiving some pretty big US publicity this fall (full-page ad in the RT, premium store placement, promotion to all the major US reviewers, etc.)

    Sigh, in other words, they’re doing for you what they would do for any other writer? A friend of mine had a book out earlier this year with a very small press; they did the same things for her. In fact, those epublishers you’re denigrating also do those things, believe it or not.

    Your local B&N has Virgin books; mine doesn’t. I never said Virgin wasn’t a good house–why is it so hard for you to actually read what is written? What I did say is that it is not a MAJOR house; a claim you made above. If you didn’t mean Virgin when you said you have a contract with a major house, then I apologize for assuming and beg you to enlighten us; if you’re going to drag out your contracts as proof that you know better, you need to back that up with some facts.

    I honestly don’t know why I bother replying to you. You’re not actually paying attention to anything any of us are saying. Instead you keep repeating that your agent is the best and biggest and brightest star in the whole agenting world; that the publishing house you’re signed with is the best and biggest and brightest star in the whole epublishing world. And you know, I think it’s great that you’re so confident and proud of everyone you’re involved with (unlike you, I’m capable of saying nice things too, and actually meaning them). I just also wish you wouldn’t shove it down our throats.

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  100. PO'dNCPAuthor
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 20:04:24

    (unlike you, I'm capable of saying nice things too, and actually meaning them). I just also wish you wouldn't shove it down our throats

    Whatever you think of Ms. Hughes or her writing, all she’s done is provide answers to all the questions that were posed to her. If you don’t want to hear the answer, maybe it’s best not to ask the question in the first place.

    And if you really want to trash-talk epubs, I could tell a million and a half horror stories about New Concepts Publishing.

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  101. Jill Elaine Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 20:50:36

    What I did say is that it is not a MAJOR house; a claim you made above. If you didn't mean Virgin when you said you have a contract with a major house, then I apologize for assuming and beg you to enlighten us; if you're going to drag out your contracts as proof that you know better, you need to back that up with some facts.

    Well, since you asked. . .

    Virgin Books was acquired by Random House in mid-2007. Since that acquisition, Virgin has ramped up its distribution and marketing arms considerably using Random House’s considerable resources. And unless I am from another planet, Random House is indeed a major, major publishing house. (One of the biggest, if not THE biggest). My contract is actually generated and signed by Random House. My royalty checks are cut by Random House. My annual earnings statement for tax purposes comes from Random House. Not to shove it down your throat or anything, but. . . (smile)

    I never said Virgin wasn't a good house-why is it so hard for you to actually read what is written? What I did say is that it is not a MAJOR house

    Have you looked at your local Barnes & Noble _lately_? The improved Virgin distribution in the USA has coincided directly with the Random House acquisition, and those changes in distribution started earlier this year. I’m willing to bet you _at least_ would find Portia da Costa’s latest, GOTHIC HEAT, which is selling very well on both sides of the Atlantic.

    And I never said you weren’t a nice person, anion. I am sure you are. I just don’t see why you have to attack every single thing I say when I am merely answering questions that were posed to me.

    Wishing you all the best nevertheless. And since you know who I am as well as what my pseudonym is, anion, how about introducing yourself? Based on this very entertaining exchange we’ve had, I’d like to buy some of your books. And I mean that sincerely.

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  102. Anion
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 20:54:11

    I don’t want to trash-talk any epubs. I haven’t trash-talked any epubs, and I’m well aware of the horror stories regarding NCP.

    I don’t have any opinion of Ms. Hughes’s writing, either (and have said absolutely nothing about it). All I know is, she’s made several rude and inflammatory statements in this thread. I do appreciate her answering questions, and I have repeatedly–repeatedly–wished her, her publisher, and her agent success. I’ve said several times I sincerely hope Ravenous turns out to be everything she’s certain it will be.

    But she has certainly done more than simply answer questions, and I think if you read her replies again you’ll see that–I’m not the only one who’s pointed it out.

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  103. Anion
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 19:50:20

    Oh, goody. We share a publisher. I wasn’t aware that Random House UK had purchased Virgin Books, so I stand corrected on that, but searches at my local B&N and those of several of my friends have still not turned up any Virgin books–perhaps their geographical areas simply don’t cater to them–and it still doesn’t change my opinion of your attitude here.

    And thanks, but no. To be perfectly honest, given some of the comments you’ve made elsewhere about your reading tastes, I don’t think you would enjoy my work. I certainly wish you success, though, and look forward to hearing about how Ravenous does when it opens.

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  104. apoorwriter
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 03:21:28

    They only accept agented submissions, and don't post editors' names on their site-’-just like the major houses.

    Really? What major houses are these? Cause when I visit Harlequin to check out the submission guidelines they give me the name of the editor to address it to. I’ve seen the editors named at other houses even if they don’t allow un-agented submissions.

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  105. Dana
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 01:21:53

    Heya, all,

    I’m one of the authors signed to do some books for Ravenous, I did not have an agent, but submitted a story through the editorial guidelines, and ended up signing for several books with them. All of my books are definitely erotic romance in several genres (paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy) and while I may not make a ton of money here, I’ve been impressed with the editors. I have no previous e-publishing experience, but do have a mystery novel and several short stories out in print, not self-published. I figure publishing is pretty much a crapshoot no matter what and I can use the self-discipline with the writing schedule… So, like all of you, looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Ravenous!

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  106. jillnoelle
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 09:12:04

    I did not have an agent, but submitted a story through the editorial guidelines,

    What editorial guidelines? Do they list guidelines somewhere?

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  107. publishingguru
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 10:41:22

    Really? What major houses are these? Cause when I visit Harlequin to check out the submission guidelines they give me the name of the editor to address it to. I've seen the editors named at other houses even if they don't allow un-agented submissions.

    Random House (and all their imprints), Simon & Schuster (and all their imprints), Viking, the list goes on and on. NONE of these houses list their editors’ names or writing guidelines on their sites, because they only take submissions through agents. THe only guideline you’ll find says something to the effect of “We only accept submissions through literary agents. Unsolicited submissions will be returned unread.”

    FWIW, Ravenous’ parent company, Hollan Publishing, is a successful book packager with established ties to the several major houses for which it has successfully packaged and sold books.

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  108. publishingguru
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 10:41:54

    Really? What major houses are these? Cause when I visit Harlequin to check out the submission guidelines they give me the name of the editor to address it to. I've seen the editors named at other houses even if they don't allow un-agented submissions.

    Random House (and all their imprints), Simon & Schuster (and all their imprints), Viking, the list goes on and on. NONE of these houses list their editors’ names or writing guidelines on their sites, because they only take submissions through agents. THey only guideline you’ll find says something to the effect of “We only accept submissions through literary agents. Unsolicited submissions will be returned unread.”

    FWIW, Ravenous’ parent company, Hollan Publishing, is a successful book packager with established ties to the several major houses for which it has successfully packaged and sold books.

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  109. Dana
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 21:43:01

    I queried them via a friend who’d worked with one of the editors and was sent the guidelines. I’m assuming they’ll go up on the website when they go live. Point being, I didn’t have an agent, just a contact name and a ‘hey, so and so recommended I contact you’ and they were very courteous and responsive.

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  110. Dalyn A. Miller
    Aug 25, 2008 @ 17:00:29

    My agency represents Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ for public relations and communications. Based on this thread and others, I felt it was important to clear up some of the confusion here, and I have compiled the following:

    10 Facts About Ravenous Romanceâ„¢

    1. Hollan Publishing and Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ are two different companies majority-owned by the same people.
    2. Hollan's non-fiction print packaging business and Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ are run as two completely separate businesses.
    3. Lori Perkins is a paid editor and minor shareholder in Ravenous Romanceâ„¢. She does not take a commission on any book sold to Ravenous Romanceâ„¢.
    4. Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ pays an advance on all books contracted and their royalty rates are competitive.
    5. Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ does accept non-agented submissions. You can email us at submissions@ravenousromance.com for submission guidelines.
    6. E-books and downloadable audiobooks are tremendous growth areas in publishing, while the bricks-and-mortar print industry is shrinking. This is why the founders of Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ have launched this business.
    7. You do not need to buy an e-reader to read Ravenous Romance'sâ„¢ books – if you're reading this, you already own the technology to read these books. They can also be downloaded to your iPod Touch, iPhone, or smartphone (Blackberry, Treo, etc.).
    8. To illustrate the strength of the market: FictionWise.com, the largest online retailer of e-books of all genres, reports that 51% of their sales are erotica or romance titles.
    9. Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ is committed to connecting exceptional writers with passionate readers.
    10. Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ has been developed by seasoned professionals who are sensitive to the issues faced by their readers and writers. A sophisticated website and comprehensive marketing plan will be revealed in the coming months.

    Thank you for your interest in Ravenous Romanceâ„¢. Your feedback is very valuable to me and my clients at Ravenous Romanceâ„¢. Lori Perkins has conducted her business over the past 20 years with the highest level of integrity, and will continue to do so. She is dedicated to and passionate about the erotica and romance genre, and is held in the highest regard within the publishing community.

    Ravenous Romanceâ„¢ will be beta testing in November, and we'd like to invite dedicated readers to help us test. Please email us at michelle@ravenousromance.com to sign up.

    For more information or with specific questions, please email me at dalyn@dalynmiller.com. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you.

    Dalyn A. Miller
    Dalyn Miller Public Relations
    http://www.dalynmillerpr.com

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  111. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 27, 2008 @ 21:29:34

    What worries me most about this company is that there is no buzz about it. Absolutely none. I’ve not seen any calls for submissions in the regular places and I don’t know anyone who has said they have signed for them.
    I used to have books with NBI, RFI West and Triskelion, so yes, I’ve been through the mill.
    I’m currently with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain and Loose-Id. Since I joined these companies, my sales have become much bigger than they ever were before. Despite my being around the epublishing scene almost since its commercial inception.
    Which says to me that my work may be improving, and that the publishers I am currently with have their own loyalty base.
    I’m not in the six figure bracket, but I am in the five figure one, and I only have two releases at EC (with more on the way, I’m delighted to say). I’ve been told that my income will improve as I increase my backlist, something I’m keen to do.
    I work with editors I respect enormously, all of whom I knew, personally or by reputation, before I joined the companies. The owners are not all the first generation ones.
    My guess is that the company has formed a link with one of the big phone companies, in which case they will be producing short stories and maybe shorter novellas for people to read on their cell phones. The stories will be tied to the phones, much as Amazon are trying to do with the Kindle. It would fit with the parent/sister company profile as a book packager and would contain some synergies which are worth exploring. They might buy a story outright, as some magazines do, but this carries heavy investment at the publisher end, so paying royalties is the most economical way to go, in case the venture is a failure.
    I have no idea why Ms. Perkins would otherwise get involved, as I’ve always had the impression that she’s nobody’s fool and she has a reputation to protect.
    I’ve been saying for years that if someone would only form an alliance with a cell phone company like Sony, Apple or Nokia, there were profits to be made there and a ready-made market. But, well, I’m only an author. What do I know?
    But – Ravenous?

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  112. Angie
    Aug 27, 2008 @ 22:58:34

    Cell phone novels are huge in Japan, so it’s not impossible. I’ll admit that I personally have absolutely no interest in reading a novel a paragraph or two at a time, which is how the system works in Japan, but there are clearly enough people out there who’ll pay for exactly that, so I suppose it’s worth a try, whether it’s what Ravenous (and… yeah) is up to, or whether someone else jumps on it in a year or three. [shrug]

    Angie

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  113. Anion
    Aug 28, 2008 @ 03:25:42

    I see a few others have also posted updates, but I thought I’d drop this in as well:

    http://www.erecsite.com/2008/08/ravenous-correspondence-veinglory.html

    Ms. Miller was kind enough to explain a few things further, and to correct several erroneous statements made here (like that Hollan was responsible for the Cosmo Kama Sutra; they were not).

    BTW, Publishingguru, it’s not entirely true that none of the major houses name their editors on their sites. True, they don’t have a section for guidelines and which editor to submit to, but the names of the editors are certainly available–for example, Penguin has a blog where editors often post. Random House has imprint newsletters where editors write short articles or answer questions, or even simply announce new acquisitions under their own names. It may take a little more hunting, but the info is there.

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  114. Anion
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 08:07:48

    And another add:

    http://www.erecsite.com/2008/08/from-craigslist.html:

    Quoted from Craiglist, found via Jan Darby at the Absolute Write forums

    Ravenous Romance needs freelance copyeditors for erotic romance novels (50K words) and short stories (2500-7500 words). Quick turnaround. Interested in long-term contracts for high volume of work.

    Compensation: $200 per novel, $25 per short story

    #

    Ravenous Romance needs interns to read and evaluate erotic romance novel and short story submissions and copyedit manuscripts. Must have some copyediting training and/or experience, an affinity for erotica or romance books, and great communication skills. We offer a fun work environment and great experience for your resume!

    Compensation: no pay

    So…Ravenous has huge pots of money to throw around, but not enough to hire full-time professional editors.

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  115. Jill Noelle
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 09:54:43

    So…Ravenous has huge pots of money to throw around, but not enough to hire full-time professional editors.

    If I’m reading their ad correctly, they want long-term contracts with these freelance editors, which amounts to full-time…but since they’ll be contract workers, RR won’t be responsible for things like unemployment taxes and benefits. The freelance contract editors would be responsible for filing and paying their own taxes (including self-employment taxes – blech), based on a 1099 they’ll receive from RR at the end of their fiscal year.

    Lots of big (and small) companies do this, and there are positive and negative aspects for doing so. Saves the company money – unemployment taxes can be huge, and I’m not sure if it’s a Federal law or not, but I know in NC, if you offer one full-time employee company-paid benefits, you have to offer the same benefits to all your full-time employees. But on the downside, you don’t have as much control or leverage (only what’s provided in the contract), and it doesn’t build a sense of company loyalty quite the same way hiring them on as an actual employee might.

    Most companies use contract workers for short-term assignments (relatively speaking), or as a stepping stone toward full-time employment. In other words, in this case, RR could use contracted freelance editors for six months or a year, weed out the poor potential employees, “train” the good ones on how things are done at RR – and save money (unemployment taxes, etc.) during the process. Then, once an editor or group of editors are “up to speed,” they can hire them on as full-time employees. This is a very common business practice. Just sayin’. :-)

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  116. Do You Want to Know All of the New ePresses? | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 04:01:01

    [...] working as an editor and had a financial interest in the epress as well as agenting. In response to my blog post, an author, Jillian Hughes, came forward to announce that Ms. Perkins was her agent and that Ms. [...]

  117. Southern Fried Chicas » Raising the Bar
    Sep 08, 2008 @ 01:09:48

    [...] not the television show. Dear Author has already blogged about it, twice even. And, in case you have no clue what I’m talking about, agent Lori Perkins is [...]

  118. Dave Kuzminski
    Sep 11, 2008 @ 12:55:43

    The discussion thus far is quite interesting. P&E has been interested in how this has been developing for a bit of time now. For now, we’re still neutral since it’s only been announced that Ms. Perkins is editing an anthology. Of course that could be of more interest to P&E if she’s to be a permanent editor, but even that would not be sufficient for P&E to recommend against her simply because she has an excellent track record in sales. P&E’s criteria about editing was primarily developed to help writers know when to avoid bad agents who were interested only in making money out of the writer’s wallet based on faulty assumptions and false hopes for obtaining representation. So far, we see some honest disclosures and that’s good.

    Furthermore, the publishing house is a trade publisher and not a vanity outfit. P&E’s criteria does not penalize agents for owning a portion of an honest trade publisher. We see a conflict only when a vanity house is involved, though there remains a possibility of a conflict of interest in other situations.

    While P&E will continue to monitor this event, I antifipate that P&E’s criteria will evolve based on how this develops and what other facts emerge. Regardless of how it settles out, P&E’s criteria will change appropriately to reflect the best advice it can offer to writers.

    Dave Kuzminski, Editor
    Preditors & Editors ™

    ReplyReply

  119. Start Up EPress Sending Lots of Unsolicited Emails to Authors and Readers | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Nov 06, 2008 @ 20:49:11

    [...] remember that Ravenous Romance promises to blow other epresses out of the water. You might also remember one of its biggest cheerleaders is Jill Elaine Hughes or [...]

  120. Just Because It’s Got the Name, Doesn’t Mean It’s the Same | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Nov 16, 2008 @ 04:00:49

    [...] to answer the question before it’s asked, yes, this post is partially a response to the ongoing Ravenous Romance discussion.  And no, I don’t know for sure that the books [...]

  121. REVIEW: Knight Moves by Jamaica Layne | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 04:00:54

    [...] Ravenous Romance first appeared on my radar, I blogged about it and you were quick to come to inform us readers that this new epress would “blow the competition out the water from very early on.” [...]

  122. Why I’m Not Wild About Ravenous Romance | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    May 03, 2009 @ 04:00:41

    [...] 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 [...]

  123. The Not-so-deep Thoughts » TT #35: WTF 2008
    May 05, 2009 @ 18:34:59

    [...] 13 Ravenous Romance courtesy of Jill Elaine Hughes/Jamaica Layne. Some writers need to learn marketing departments exist within companies for a [...]

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