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What Sarah was Reading in September

Like Jane, I’ve been reading a lot of ARCs for November and December, and wow, you’re all in for some real treats.

Riptide Publishing opens its door on October 30. It’s already open for pre-orders and sending out review copies. Almost all of the initial offerings so far listed are under 30K words. And honestly, $2.99 for 10K words seems utterly ridiculous to me. $4.99 for under 30K words$10 for 100K words? I mean, 100K words is a great story, but $10? Really?! While the stories are great and the idea behind the new press is admirable, with price points like that, I can’t see it getting very far.

Rachel Haimowitz’s Master Class is a fabulous (short) look at the beginning of a very intense BDSM relationship. It does an amazing job at getting at the psychology of both of the dominant/sadist and the masochist/submissive. I loved it. It was super-hot. It was super-intense and really heavy BDSM, but very well done. Review on release. Apparently I talked about this one last month. I’ve skimmed it since then too which is why it’s on this month’s list too. That’s how good it is.

 

Peter Hansen’s First Watch: Tentacles. This book comes highly recommended, but it’s got tentacles and I haven’t actually managed to get past the first scene with tentacles. I’ll let you know if I ever do. Just…tentacles!

Aleksandr Voinov Dark Soul Vol.1 is about the mob. And I love Voinov’s writing, but I really really REALLY have a problem with heroes who are part of a crime organization and have no intention of getting out of it. So…I’m having a hard time with this one too. No tentacles, just criminals.

Of the three Riptide books I’ve flipped through or read so far, the writing is exceptional, but the subject matter is very dark, very different. That could be a good thing and could gain the press a reputation very quickly. But I still think readers are going to balk at those price points.

I also received the Carina Press m/m holiday shorts. And OMG guys, these stories are amazing. Perfect novellas that tell wonderful heartwarming stories. More extended reviews on release for all of them.

K.A. Mitchell’s Christmas Proposition: Small town guy trying to keep his family Christmas tree farm afloat gets back together with former lover who owns a natural gas company. Told from only small-town guy’s perspective, but you see the vulnerability of both characters. And groveling on BOTH sides. :) Wonderful, as always.

Harper Fox’s Winter Knights is a ghost story about Gavin, a man whose Catholic lover Piers breaks up with him because Pier refuses to come out to his family and Gavin had issued an ultimatum. Gavin then meets some ghosts who save his life and help him find his way back into a better relationship with Piers. What I LOVED about this story was how Gavin and Piers’ relationship was actually bad for both of them and they both learn how to improve it in order to find their way back to each other. For how short the book is, it’s brilliantly constructed and I loved the characters.

Josh Lanyon’s Lone Star was like a What If? story: What if a ballet dancer and a Texas Ranger fall in love? Except they fell in love before they were a ballet dancer and a Texas Ranger and get back together right when both their careers are taking off and that’s the barrier between them. It’s a cute story but I didn’t 100% believe that their careers wouldn’t pull them apart again.

Ava March’s My True Love Gave To Me is the historical of the bunch. It starts the story when the two men are 19, very much in love, but one of them’s too scared to pursue the relationship and runs away to America, away from his own feelings and his lover. Four years later, he’s back, determined to win his lover back. Much MUCH groveling ensues and there’s an utterly black moment when all hope is lost. I love stories in which one character has to admit how much wrong he’d done and the other character seriously has to just…forgive him.

These four stories from Carina were unbelievably good. They’ve done a brilliant job gathering these amazing writers together for these novellas.

L.A. Witt’s The Distance Between Us and The Closer You Get are two books that follow a couple through a threesome in the first book and then the third of the threesome in the second. TDBU is about a couple who have broken up but are stuck living with each other because they can’t offload the house they bought together. They bring in a roommate and both end up sleeping with the roommate, then sleeping all three together. This allows the couple to work through their issues so that they can get back together. TCYG (releasing in November) tells the story of the roommate, a self-described slut, who goes out with the friend of one of his lover’s daughters. His blind date is a virgin and they slowly figure out how to fit together, with the help of the characters from the first book. I adore Witt’s writing — love love love it. And these books are just about characters falling in love, getting past their own emotional barriers, and finding their way to each other better than ever before. Wonderful. I’ll review both when TCYG releases.

Distance Between Us: Goodreads | Amazon  | nook

The Closer You Get: Goodreads | Amazonnook

Kari Gregg’s I, Omega was so full of WTF that I honestly don’t know if I can bring myself to read it again to review it. Three months ago, Gabriel had been bitten by a werewolf who fucked him and he’s been on the run ever since. Even though he wants desperately to be with this werewolf, he’s terrified of him too. The werewolf finds him, fucks him, and kidnaps him, taking him back to the pack’s house. He forces Gabriel into a heavily D/s relationship, collaring him and tattooing him without Gabriel’s permission, waiting for Gabriel to give his final surrender, but he never TELLS Gabriel anything. And he won’t let anyone else tell Gabriel anything. So a lot of the conflict in the book comes from Gabriel’s fear and mistakes because of his utter ignorance. It made me NUTS! It’s the total and direct opposite of Safe, Sane,and Consensual. And the sex wasn’t even that hot.

Goodreads | Amazonnook

I read S.A. Reid’s Something Different twice through, the second time right after the first time. It was a self-pubbed book sent to DA for review. I *loved* it. Review here.

Goodreads | Amazon | nook

I’m flipping through a few other books, not actually settling down to read anything because (1). I have a book I really need to review, and (2). I’ve got craploads of grading to do. I’m skimming through an ARC of Sarah Wendell’s EIKAL until I can get my hands on a paper copy. I’m having a lot of fun with it (and feel extremely honored to be quoted twice, so can’t really comment on it further with too much impartiality — see how easily I can be bought?). J.L. Merrow’s Wight Mischief – I adore Merrow’s voice. I’m about 10 pages in and love it so far, of course. Cara McKenna’s Curio – another story about a prostitute. This is the only m/f romance on this whole post. Looking forward to it. Lynn Lorenz’s Bayou’s End – I enjoyed the first story in this series, but I’ve read the introduction to this one and was seriously unimpressed with the writing, so I’ll probably skip through the rest of it and see if there’s anything worth reading.

So, anyone else reading any good m/m that I’ve missed? Any prostitute/sex worker stories that I’ve missed?

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

35 Comments

  1. Brie
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 10:41:34

    I had the same thought about Riptide, it has great potential and the authors and titles sound great, but the prices not so much. There are several stories I want to read but they are way too expensive. So in the end I might get some of the books by authors I’m familiar with like L.A. Witt and Voinov, but I will think twice before getting one by an author I don’t know, and that’s a crying shame because I’m always looking for new authors. Then there are some stories that are under 1$ but come on! 15 pages? I’ll read that in 5 minutes. Why aren’t they selling them as an anthology or offer some type of discount if you buy them all or something like that? There are two short stories that I really want to read but I’m not sure if they are worth it.

    Having said that, I’m really excited about this new publisher, first because I’m happy to see more m/m titles available and that more people are paying attention to the genre, and also because it seems like they are committed to publishing quality over quantity, and I really appreciate that. I hope they are successful but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    Happy reading Sarah!

  2. Sirius
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 10:58:51

    Have you read Broken by Jessica Freely? I have not yet, but friend loaned it to me and it definitely has prostitute/sex worker in there.

    Yes, subject matter in many Riptide books is very dark and sometimes too dark for me, that is why I could not preorder too many books from there. As to prices, well, we shall see, if the editing turns out to be as good as they claim and so much better than many other presses, I have no problem with it. I am so tired of badly edited books, that I am willing to pay few bucks extra for good editing. Although I totally understand how many readers cant and if their claims of superior editing turn out to be false, I will be one annoyed reader, because yeah their prices are not cheap at all. But again, look at MLR, their full length novels are consistently 8.99 and editing is, well not good for me. The one full novel from Riptide that I preordered is 9.99 (Rianon Ertweiller’s book? I am sure I butchered her name), if it is edited well, to me it is much more attractive.

    Thanks for the reviews.

  3. jayhjay
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 11:49:15

    I have been reading some of the Riptide ARCs. It is definitely an interesting mix of short/light/funny and heavy/dark/intense in terms of the types of stories. So far I have enjoyed what I have read though and am really looking forward to some of the new stuff coming up (especially Damon Suede and LA Witt’s books).

    Excited to hear you liked LA Witt’s two stories. They are in my TBR pile as I am reviewing them on my blog in a couple of weeks. I love her writing so I am so looking forward to these. Looking forward to Merrow’s new book too. Love her writing.

  4. Sunita
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 19:13:23

    So glad to hear about the Carina anthology. I’m really looking forward to it.

    A question about Riptide to you and anyone who has info: my impression is that the higher prices are being charged to provide better editing. But who are the editors? Do we know? I looked for this info a while ago and it seemed as if some of the authors are also the editors, but I could be wrong about that.

  5. Sirius
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 19:15:31

    @Sunita: I have no idea who the other editors are (I am pretty sure there are several), but from interview on Wave’s site, I was 99% sure that Rachel Haimowitz is one of the editors at least. Thats all I know.

  6. SarahF
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 19:31:49

    @Sirius: I read the excerpt of BROKEN and…I just couldn’t. I mean, I’m sure the character gets redeemed and isn’t always a stupid asshole. But he starts off as a stupid asshole and…I just couldn’t. That whole mob thing, right?

    @Sunita: Aleks and Rachel are both editors. I know they’re hiring at least one, maybe two more, but I have no idea who they are. So yes, they’re publishers, authors, and editors altogether. Like every other e-press in that respect.

  7. Rachel Haimowitz
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 19:42:54

    @Sarah: I’m so thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed Master Class; thank you for sharing your enthusiasm! As for Peter . . . I have to admit I laughed at what is fast becoming the most common response to his book (“Tentacles! :O”), but I promise the tentacles are rare and mostly offscreen, and it’s so, so worth it.

    @Sunita: Our staff is listed on our website, here: http://riptidepublishing.com/staff and the two owner-editors (myself and Aleks Voinov) have both released one of our own series through Riptide (though we did not edit ourselves, nor do we accept our own work blindly; we’ve rejected one story among the owners already). We have a third in-house editor coming on board in November, and a handful of professional copyeditors and proofers (by which I mean Manhattan or equivalent house experience, not just someone with a BA in English).

    You’re right that good editing is very expensive, and that’s the root of our slightly higher price point. That said, many other e-rom presses charge $8 to $9 for a long novel (Carina, Loose Id, and MLR come to mind) and $3.99 for even short novellas. Heck, Loose Id sells some of their flings for $3.99, so while we might be a dollar or two pricier than some of the competition, we never considered the cover prices outrageous or unreasonable. Time will tell, though; it’s the gambit we’re making that readers are willing to pay for quality M/M fiction, because in a market that niche, where you can’t recoup the thousands of dollars it costs to do a proper edit by selling 20,000 copies, the only other way to make that model sustainable is to raise the cover prices a little. God knows I’d rather spend $10 on a novel I’ll love and re-read, though, than $6 on a novel I DNF for all the errors and plot holes.

    If you have any other questions, we’d be happy to answer as best we can.

    Thanks all for the interest!

  8. Mary G
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 22:21:03

    Hi Sarah
    For new – I have a review of Devotedly His, a novella by Shawn Lane, coming up at the USA Today Happy Ever After blog.

    For not so new – I loved Hot Head by Damon Suede and Devlin & Garrick by Cameron Dane as much as I loved Resistance by L.M. Turner which I found here recommended by you. So good that I can’t archive them on my Kindle app, the equivalent of my keeper shelf lol.

  9. Kara Lyndon
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 01:28:48

    I don’t get the idea behind raising prices for quality edits, specially in the case of Riptide Publishing, cause the edits are still in-house. That’s the sticking point for me. Raising prices to recoup costs there is nil, cause the press isn’t SPENDING thousands of $$ on those edits at all. They’re spending the time to do it themselves, sure, but they aren’t paying an outside editor thousands. So placing a higher price sticker on it just mean the owners are taking a larger hunk of money. I guess they can argue that that’s their due, but I disagree.

    To me, quality edits aren’t the selling point at all. At least they shouldn’t be. It’s like buying a new car but someone selling it for $10K more because it’s been cleaned and is in perfect working order. Well… the new car should be that way no matter what. We expect that as buyers, so why should I pay more for something I should expect to receive from a quality vendor in the first place? Edits aren’t chrome wheels, bucket seats, and a GPS. They aren’t add-ins that make it special, y’know? Edits are like the inspection a new car is always given before it’s put up for sale. You don’t pay more for that inspection, it’s just expected. Quality edits shouldn’t be something we’re willing to pay a higher price for. It’s something we should expect as readers.

  10. Annabeth Albert
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 02:12:29

    @Kara Lyndon, I don’t know you, but I’m pretty sure I love you. Word. I have no opinion on Riptide, but you are 100% right that readers SHOULD expect quality editing no matter what. I don’t hold indie published authors to a lower standard simply because editing is expensive. I don’t hold tiny presses to a lower standard because good help is hard to find (and expensive). I don’t give NY published books a free pass just because they’re an established/prolific/favorite author. I expect quality editing. Period. Do what you have to do to get there, charge what you need to charge to pay your editors a fair, living wage, but quality editing isn’t a bonus–it’s assumed. I no longer care *how* a book is published–indie, small e-pub, big publisher, but I do care deeply about editing. I balk at paying $10 for 100k, but that’s because I’m a cheap, prolific reader. $7 or so for well-edited 100k? Absolutely.

  11. Rachel Haimowitz
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 02:20:11

    @Kara: Not every stage of the edit process is done by the owners, nor is every edit. It’s also quite literally a full-time job and then some for the owners, so the ability to make a living wage is pretty important in that regard if we plan to eat. We also take a pretty small share of the money overall–our author contracts START at 50% of profits and climb to 70%–so it isn’t as if we’re rolling around in heaps of gold coins Scrooge McDuck style ;-)

    That said, I agree with you that quality edits SHOULD be a reader’s due. Unfortunately, they’re not. Our price points are still lower–sometimes significantly so–than most of the ebooks coming out of “traditional” presses, whether major or independent, except for the titles with a large enough readership to be released in the mass-market format, which precludes virtually all M/M (with the exception, perhaps, of one or two stray Harlequin titles a year). At presses where a new ebook release is $12.99 to $14.99, you’ll (usually) get that quality as a matter of course, but make no mistake, you’re paying for it.

    But when it comes to other presses in the M/M space–which is where you’re more likely to expect a novel to be $7 instead of $12.99–a significant majority of those presses pay their editors pennies on the dollar for the value of their work, and are therefore unable to attract quality editors at all. Books from even major e-pub presses are routinely full of errors, from simple proofing errors (which is what happens when you “pay” your proofer by “allowing” them to keep a copy of the book they’re supposedly proofreading) to substantive developmental issues. Many of these presses compound the problem with a “quantity over quality” philosophy that sees them buying hundreds of books each year that weren’t even close to ready for publication, which results in under-paid, under-trained, under-skilled editors trying to work with a manuscript that wouldn’t be salvageable under the best of circumstances. I love the M/M space dearly, but sadly, the majority of books–at least that I’ve read, that my partners have read, that our authors and our fans have read–fall into that category.

    Now, I’m not saying there are no M/M presses out there that offer quality editing ever, or that you can’t find good M/M books, because of course that’s not true. What I AM saying, though, is that the prevailing model in M/M publishing is quantity over quality, and there is no way to make a consistent quality model sustainable unless you charge prices a little more in line with mainstream than epub OR you pay your authors next to nothing. The problem with paying your authors next to nothing is that they can’t actually afford to write more books when their royalties are tiny. And since the overwhelming chorus we’ve been hearing of late from readers is that “you get what you pay for,” and a too-big percentage of $5 and $6 novels end up in the metaphoric trash after chapter 2, we made the choice we made. And that choice will allow our readers to take quality editing absolutely for granted, because WE feel it’s the readers’ due too.

    So far, those who’ve read our books have shown tremendous enthusiasm for it. I understand that our model won’t be for everyone, and I never expected it would be. But it’s our sincere hope–for our authors, for our genre, and for ourselves–that enough people find enough value in what we do to allow us to keep doing it.

  12. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 02:30:20

    Just to put some numbers out there: I know what some mid-sized m/m presses pay their editors, and I’m just giving two examples:

    Case one: $200-250 (This includes everything – developmental editing, line edits (they don’t employ proofers))

    Case two: ~$200 for first editor, ~$100 for second editor, proofer gets to keep a copy of the book they worked on.

    Now, at these rates, developmental editing simply doesn’t happen, and if you calculate ~50-100 hours of work (and that’s a clean one) per novel, you end up with howlers like “He road him hard.” I don’t know about you, but being unable to breathe with laughter was probably not what the author intended with that sex scene.

  13. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 02:35:34

    Correction: Now, at these rates, developmental editing simply doesn’t happen, and the editing itself is so rushed you end up with howlers like “He road him hard.” I don’t know about you, but being unable to breathe with laughter was probably not what the author intended with that sex scene.

    Editing does take 50-100 hours of work – in case of a clean novel, and much more if it’s not clean. At Riptide, the book goes back and forth as often as it takes; three, four, five passes, whereas you get only one or two elsewhere, and most stuff is just waved through and kicked out of the door, because “readers won’t notice the difference” – whereas we believe they do.

    There’s a delightful quote from the owner of a mid-sized e-publisher that also does m/m: “Proofers? Who do you think we are, Kensington?”

    I think that says it all.

    (Apologies for the rushed first comment – multitasking at work = bad idea.)

  14. Sunita
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 07:11:30

    Thanks for the replies. I realize that most m/m presses have authors as editors and vice versa. I should have been clearer that my question is about the type of editing as much as who is doing the editing, and how much autonomy and influence the editors have.

    In Riptide’s case, are the two in-house editors doing developmental and content editing? I am just trying to clarify. Two of the editors I most admire are at tiny houses, but I’ve read a number of their books and I developed that admiration over time.

    As to prices, if Riptide’s $8.99 price is the list price and discounted at Amazon and elsewhere (or eligible for Fictionwise’s frequent discount codes, for example), then it’s comparable. But if the price is fixed, then it is higher than I pay for other epubs’ m/m books.

    I’ve never paid more than $9.99 for the e equivalent of a fiction paperback in the many years I’ve been buying ebooks. I’m not sure where the $12-$14 range for books is coming from. I’m not doubting that it exists, I’m just not familiar with those prices and my comparison set is going to be the effective price of $5-8 (I don’t buy MLR etc. at $8.99 unless I really want the book, I wait for a sale).

  15. Sunita
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 07:14:48

    I also meant to comment on copyediting: I don’t mean to sound harsh, so if I do I apologize. But like @Kara Lyndon: I consider clean copy to be the cost of doing business in publishing. I don’t expect to pay more for a book that has a system in place to correct “road” to “rode.” And if I’m asked to do that, I’ll find another book to read.

  16. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 07:40:29

    @Sunita – There will be a loyalty discount system once it’s tried and tested. We also do loads of giveaways (subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win). FW is closed to new publishers, but there’s ARe and of course, always, Big A.

    In our case, we put two fully-qualified editors on every job. Both editors look at developmental issues, then do line edits (four-eye principle), and finally there are several proofing passes as well. We’re in talks to several freelancers (similarly qualified), and we will be joined by a third fully-trained editor in November. What you’re currently seeing is our start-up team – we do have growth plans, but as any start-up, we’re currently mainly founder-powered until we have sustainable growth and the cash flow to support the model as envisaged.

    I’m only aware of prices in the UK and Germany (where you easily pay the equivalent of $20 for a paperback, and discounts on books are illegal), but I believe that $11-13 is a common price point for paper novels in supermarkets, and looking at the e-prices of bestsellers, I see much higher price points.

    Also, the real cost factor is developmental editing. Everybody can correct “road” to “rode” – but fixing the pacing in an otherwise good novel, that takes some real skills and understanding and training, which is far less common (and much more expensive) than finding a spelling bee champion.

    One of the reasons behind launching Riptide is this dearth of developmental editing. I’ve published with a fair range of m/m publishers, but the only publisher that actually provided in-depth developmental editing was Carina Press (and I will still publish with them, because of the top-notch editing and great covers). Everybody else pretty much just kicked my books out of the door after slapping a cover on. Now, I’m either already perfect, or people didn’t care, or they didn’t have the skills/financials in place. And I don’t believe I’m anywhere near perfect as a writer.

    Having undergone editing at Riptide, I can say that the last time I’ve been edited to that level was when I published my print novels in Germany (again, with the exception of Carina).

  17. Sunita
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 08:30:43

    @Aleksandr Voinov: Thanks for the reply. I understand where you’re coming from on prices better; I remember paying $16 for a mass market in Oslo a few years ago, and Germany wasn’t much better.

    For European and Australia/NZ readers, these prices may not induce sticker shock, but I think US readers are still going to find them to be high. But if the quality is really good, some at least will be willing to pay them. I regularly buy books at author/publisher websites if I highly value their work, especially for very small publishers.

  18. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 11:13:38

    @Sunita – Thanks, and the small publishers definitely value the support highly.

    But the price debate is interesting: I mean, I spend three times an average paperback’s price when I go to the cinema (which doesn’t even cover gas/fuel, snacks, and after/pre-cinema food) – vastly overpaying for those 90mins of entertainment ruined anyway by the running commentary of some kids in the back; I spend more money on a coffee from your anonymous chain store than on most ebooks (novellas) out there – and that coffee lasts me all of twenty minutes if I take it slow. That goes up to (high) novel prices if I grab a slice of cake/pastry with that.

    I don’t believe we overcharge for the five to ten hours’ worth of entertainment you get from a good novel if you look at comparatives. Also, you’ll want to re-read a good piece of writing. Lots of people don’t even finish a bad piece of writing. I certainly know I don’t. Also, we don’t use DRM, we keep your books on the bookshelf in your account, so we are as user-friendly, reader-friendly and author-friendly as we possibly can. I do believe that care and attention have a value, and so does good entertainment.

  19. Annabeth Albert
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 11:24:12

    So the $10 is in UK dollars? Because I’ve never paid $11-$13 at a supermarket. 7.99 yes, but nothing higher. I’ve read m/m from Carina, Samhain and other smaller presses. I am consistently impressed with the quality from Samhain and Carina–and I’ve never paid $10 for a book. Ditto Dream Spinner and Loose Id–usually good, trustworthy editing and a price point more in keeping with what I am able to pay. I 100% support the idea that quality editors deserve decent money for their hours of hard work & I am very much looking forward to another source of quality m/m stories, but I’m concerned that Riptide may not get as wide of a readership as it deserves with those price points. Courtney Milan discussed on her blog a few months ago the idea that editors could be paid a % of a book’s profits, either up to a certain maximum or indefinitely. If lowering a price, just slightly, lets x % more readers find and buy it, then perhaps giving editors a bonus as sales go up might be one option? I don’t presume to know the ins & outs of running a small press, but I do know that as an ebook consumer,price makes a huge difference in whether or not I read all of an author’s backlist or just sigh wistfully at it. At Carina and Samhain prices, I can roar through a backlist, sending way more dollars into the revenue stream than a single $10 purchase. Again, I’m not trying to be too negative–I think what Riptide wants to accomplish is really admirable.

  20. Kara Lyndon
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 13:52:46

    @Sunita: I second that non-US prices are certainly higher for books you buy in store, which does explain some of that sticker shock (but exported anything ends up way more expensive non-US, not just books). The question then becomes will that sticker shock keep the majority of US buyers hesitant or will they take the chance? That’s anyone’s guess. I just know a lot of people who can’t afford the prices Riptide has, no matter what the editing is like.

    I completely agree on your Copyedits Expected comment. I just… forgive me… take it a step farther. ALL editing should be expected. The level of editing varies from one book to another, and its the publisher’s choice which things they publish, y’know? If a press takes on a story that NEEDS content edits instead of just giving a revise/resubmit notice, then I feel like the press made that executive decision, so I as the reader shouldn’t have to pay for their choice of story. Editing is part of the package, so I just don’t think that’s the selling point.

    What bothers me is I feel like Riptide is implying that they’re the ONLY ones doing editing of any quality (except for Aleksandr’s mention of Carina). That it makes them special. And that giving authors a fair share of royalties is revolutionary. I guess it depends on your idea of fair, but I can think of plenty of other presses who offer fair royalties while managing to keep prices reasonable. It just depends on what the author is looking for. I’ve seen royalties anywhere from 40% to 80%, and that’s not including advances some places offer. As an aspiring author, I’ve been doing a lot of research so when I’m ready to submit my stories (if I can ever finish them), I know what I’ll be getting into wherever I go. I don’t want to get down on Riptide, and I’m really not trying to be cruel or anything. I just keep seeing all this media blitz about Riptide doing something you can’t find anywhere else. It’s supposed to be innovative, and I just haven’t seen that. I’m not saying they’re BAD, but their ideas and business model isn’t new to me. Only time will tell.

    @Annabeth: I’ve also never seen prices like that for comprable presses online. The books at the supermarket are usually expensive because the big presses are doing that Agency model, which is all about pushing ebook prices crazy high to drive sales back to print books. I’m assuming Riptide isn’t doing Agency pricing (print prices would be less than ebook if it were Agency). So comparing Riptide to larger Agency style presses is like comparing apples and rhinoceroses. Just because that style pushes ebook prices higher doesn’t mean its okay to charge that much in general… or that its sustainable. Everyone’s saying Agency pricing is the larger publisher’s last gasp, trying to keep their dominance over print books, so it’s definitely not going to last long. I just think prices that high won’t draw in new readers when it comes down to the bottom line for most buyers.

  21. Sirius
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:09:18

    @Annabeth Albert: I have to say, that I used to buy three -four titles from Dreamspinner alone a week and while I bought some great books from them and I still not abandoning them completely, I disagree with the idea that on average their editors are doing a good job. At least I disagree with it now, maybe year or so ago it was better, I feel that it drastically declined. As to whether Riptide is the only one who will be doing quality editing, well I will have to read their books first to decide for myself, but no, I do not think too many presses are doing that. Yes, sure it is a given we should have good editing in the books we buy, as somebody who buys a lot of titles even now, when I get review copies, and who used to buy A LOT more (probably have around 1100 mm ebooks only (not counting the books which I bought before ebooks) all together, 90% of which I purchased), I do not think we do have it, good editing it is, from the most presses. Loose ID is not bad, Carina is good IMO, Samhain is very good, but everybody else? I have a suspicion that when I buy clean book from everybody else is because author made sure to submit a clean book and not because editors helped much.

    I know that not many readers agree, but I am more than happy to pay couple extra bucks for that. I am by no means saying that it is a given that it WILL result in a good editing, again see MLR press, from whom I only buy now if I got a good recommendation or if the author I know and love. They charge $8.99 for novel and sometimes I wonder where all that money goes, since I do not see that it goes to edit. If Riptide will go that road, I will be saying bye bye very fast. If not? I am not a fan of agency prices and trust me only pay thirteen – fifteen bucks for two – three authors on whose books I am hooked, but I have paid ten bucks for mainstream ebooks more than once and will pay it for well done mm novel as well. JMO of course.

  22. Annabeth Albert
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:17:15

    @Sirius I have only read Marie Sexton and Andrew Grey from DreamSpinner as well as several anthologies and some of J.L. Merrow’s backlist (I think that is her former press). Marie turns in awesome work no matter who her publisher is, so perhaps she’s not the best barometer. But the anthologies were clean–I have lower expectations for super-short stories in terms of content editing. Again, your mileage may vary! And 1100 m/m books!!!! I bow down before your awesomeness :) :) I tend to be very selective about all my purchases before I hit buy, and only buy m/m of authors I’ve already read or that comes with awesome reviews and a great excerpt.

  23. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:21:50

    @Annabeth: I’m not sure I follow you on “UK dollars”? The UK uses pound sterling (GBP). I’m giving a rough estimate – especially rough considering that both the US dollar and the GBP are on a roller-coaster and who knows what one dollar/one pound will be worth tomorrow, considering the threat of hyper-inflation/stagflation/recession and currency markets behaving strangely.

    The problem with paying an editor a % of sales is, frankly, that the m/m space is tiny compared to the rest of romance, and an editor might end up getting paid almost nothing (a novel might be a complete flop and sell only 20 copies – I know such cases). I don’t believe it’s fair of a publisher to expect its editors to shoulder that entrepreneurial risk. And even if you do, and if you have a stable of editors working under such conditions, there will almost certainly be fights over the novels that are most marketable and are expected to sell the most.

    Which means that maybe more innovative, daring books won’t get picked up (as editors would only choose the big sellers, especially contemporary novels written by Big Name authors). It’s a model we looked at and right now, we’re not doing that, for fairness’s sake and because we believe that the entrepreneurial risk should firmly remain with the founders.

    Also, we are going to use loyalty schemes and discounts – these prices have an amount of flexibility calculated in.

    @Kara – we said nowhere that we’re unique or the only ones doing what we’re doing. We haven’t invented the wheel and we have a great deal of respect for other boutique publishers putting out excellent work without cutting corners.

    There *are* things we do very differently to other publishers, and we’ve learned from many so-so or negative experiences in the space. I have a lot of respect especially for Carina and Samhain and while I’m personally going to – hopefully – publish most of my work via Riptide (if it gets accepted by the other editors, and that’s far from certain), but I will continue to place work with other publishers that actually add value to the product and make me a better writer, and that treat me like an adult and don’t force me to sign ROFR clauses.

    I also commend you for doing your research on the market – I’d hope more authors did that before they sign a year’s work away for 25% royalties, accept 7-year contracts with ROFRs at a house that only employs comma policewomen/men rather than real developmental editors and proofers.

  24. Sirius
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:29:23

    @Annabeth Albert: Yeah, I am more selective now, but yeah, “if I have money I buy books and then I buy food and clothes” is about me lol.

    I reviewed Marie Sexton’s book from Total ebound, publisher which I usually just ignore and the book was pretty clean in my view, so no I do not think she is the best example, I agree that all her books are awesome and neither JL Merrow is. I have read novellas where characters did wierd wierd things, something that good editor should have caught. Mind you, I am reviewer and reader with limitations (esl, even though I live and work in the US, I am still esl speaker), so I tend to miss typos, if there are not many of them, or story engrosses me. I have starting to notice more typos lately, not less and thats not a good thing, thats an indication that I may have missed just as many.

    As a reviewer, I do my best to choose new authors to review as well, but as I already complained elsewhere, my recent stunt of reading seven or eight Dreamspinner novellas for the review with the authors new to me, made me very tired and very cranky.

    Again, I really really do not want to sound as walking advertisement for Riptide, trust me, I am not. I barked away from Alex’ series (way way too dark for me), from Rachel’s book, and they have so many freaking vampires. I am so tired of vampires. I bought a few, because I loved the authors’ previous books, but it was a chore to choose. But I took a chance on Damon Suede’s book and LA Witt’s book and two others. We shall see.

    But if they will provide clean product, and more variety, I will stick with them.

  25. Sirius
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:30:02

    @SarahF: Yes, thats Broken. Scared to read now lol.

  26. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:30:30

    @Sirius – In my humble experience, my books are usually clean because I have a group of fantastic betas who really deserve all the credit. Even so, there are developmental edits in several of my books that I see *now*, years later, and wish I could fix, but I can’t. I do feel that many publishers are letting their authors down, frankly, by not helping them become better writers and putting out better books. For me the tipping point came when I kept reading books that could have been great – if they’d only been edited properly and if the author had had a real partner in a good editor.

    There are m/m presses that operate a “black box” scheme – you hand over your book and several months later you get an edited version. There’s no contact or discussion with an editor, no guidance, no dev. edits… and then I look at my book and ask myself: “What did they do o get 75% of my money?” Even worse, a year later you realize that the thing reviewers keep pointing out? They are totally right, and an editor should have caught that while it could still be fixed.

  27. Sunita
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:40:43

    @Aleksandr Voinov: I agree that books are not expensive compared to many other commodities. But people don’t generally make the comparisons to non-book products, even if they are also forms of entertainment. For better or worse, a reader compares the price of a book to the price of another book. Unless it’s a book a reader absolutely has to have, she’s likely to have a mental upper bound on prices and she won’t often exceed that.

    I just did a cursory check of Kindle books at Amazon UK. Books from LooseID, Dreamspinner, Carina, and Samhain are mostly under £4; the exceptions were Lanyon’s Adrien English books, which were £5.73. There was no indication these were discounted prices, although I’m assuming they must be.

    ETA: Just caught up with the later comments and have to say I agree with Sirius re: Dreamspinner. In my much more limited experience, their content editing is not good (and I don’t blame the editors, I blame the press’s policies). When I compare a single author’s works across different presses, pacing and other issues that are generally dealt with in substantive edits are more problematic in the DSP books. I find it particularly exasperating because these are some of the authors and books I think the most highly of.

  28. Sirius
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 14:48:07

    @Aleksandr Voinov: I absolutely agree that your books are clean (for me as reader), not that I doubt that whatever developmental edits you found may be needed. I also read the books, where I was thinking, omg if only the editor could tell the writer to take out the repetitiveness, or fix huge plot hole, it could have been so much better.

  29. Kara Lyndon
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 15:07:36

    @Aleksandr Voinov: You’re saying that you aren’t doing anything new, but the whole advertised aspect of Riptide that I’ve seen is all about Making Waves and Changing the Tide in the publishing community. If you’re doing nothing new, then you’re not making waves. I’m sorry and I don’t mean to be rude, but all I’m seeing is another M/M press intent on putting out quality stories, which is the goal of all the others too. The only big difference I’m seeing is the price point, and that isn’t what I want any press to be known for. :)

    All we’re talking about here is the hypothetical quality of the editing at Riptide, but none of that can even be shown until you guys send out the first wave of books to the public. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together because I want to be wrong. I just want you guys to prove yourselves beyond the hype. Again, I know that’ll just take time, so I’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out with your press’ books.

  30. Aleksandr Voinov
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 15:36:18

    Kara – We’re happy to be judged by the quality of our books, because those hundreds and hundreds of work hours do make a difference. I’m happy to agree to disagree about the other points, because the last thing I want to do is sound defensive. As you say – everything else remains to be seen once we have solid proof/evidence.

    Sirius – I’d be happy to tell you in detail where things went wrong in my books, which title and where, but I prefer not to do that in public. Let’s just say, I wish I’d had a good dev. editor on the other stuff I put out. In some cases, I can’t wait to get my rights back so I can fix things myself.

    Sunita – You’d have to compare books of similar lengths. I don’t know how long these books are, but yes, in general, novels on average cost a couple bucks more at Riptide, whereas we charge about the same for novellas and novelettes (and shorts). Also, I’d be happy to email you some of my stories “post editing”, and you can compare how much work any of the presses put in by actually looking at the editor’s work. That’s pretty enlightening, but it’s not something I can do on a public forum, for obvious reasons.

  31. Sunita
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 15:43:18

    @Aleksandr Voinov: Oh, I believe you on the editing. I’ve heard similar stuff from both sides of the author-editor divide. Substantive content editing takes a serious commitment of time, effort, and talent.

    As I said before, I think there *are* readers who will pay more if they trust the press; it’s just tough to build that trust when you’re new. But I know you know that, and I’m hoping you succeed.

  32. Chelsea B.
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 16:27:32

    I have heard of, like, NONE of these books, haha! I gonna have to look ‘em up!

  33. Terry V.
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 06:36:29

    I’ve been exposed to Riptide through Goodreads and I’ve been following them anxiously, even though I bought nothing in pre-sales. (I’m waiting for their actual grand opening–yeah, I know I’m missing a chance to win a year’s worth of books, but I never get lucky at those things. Just me.)

    Anyway, been reading this huge discussion and just wanted to point out something:

    I don’t think Riptide is charging extra for good editing. I think most m/m presses cut corners on editing so badly that they can afford to drive down the prices across the board. There’s a huge difference there.

    And what most pubs do, *that’s* the real crime against us readers. Because on one hand, we expect quality and we deserve it, dammit; but on the other hand, we’ve been made used to low prices that frankly don’t give quality a chance.

    I’m sick and tired of buying books that sound great but end up in the trash ten pages in. I’m sick and tired of having to triple-check reviews for every book that piques my interest. Of having to wade through so much dirt for that rare glint of gold.

    You know what? For heaven’s sake, *stop selling me discounted crap*.

    I want a publication that consistently puts out quality material, not because it lands some authors that can write well *despite* in-house editing, but because it knows what quality is and gives a crap about it. I want to see the pub’s logo on a book and know that if the book suits my tastes, it will be a great read.

    If Riptide can deliver on that (and that’s a big if–fingers crossed), then for me they *will* be turning the tide. I wouldn’t mind at all going back to paying normal prices if it means they bring consistent quality back into the game. And more power to any presses that follow them (beyond the few good exceptions mentioned in this thread).

    Just my two cents.

  34. S.
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 21:09:57

    @Terry V. – I wholeheartedly agree.

    As a reader who is willing to spend quite a bit on books, I’ve been disheartened by the m/m publications over the past two years. With the exception of very, very few authors and one or two publishers, no one in the m/m genre gives a hoot about editing. Someone mentioned DSP and LooseID – I hate to say this, but they are some of the worse offenders in the field.

    I’d rather not read any books than be disappointed by yet another poorly edited piece of work. I subsist on recommendations nowadays. If Riptide does provide quality editing with all their books, and they manage to send out a positive message to the rest of the m/m world, I’m game. I think it’s probably a bit early to tell right now, but change is much needed in the m/m genre. I am eager to see the impact it will have on readers and publishers alike.

    Bottom line – I don’t think it’s wrong of me (or anyone else) to expect professional quality in published works. If Riptide can promise that, hey, I’m all for it.

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