I was asked to speak for a few minutes about digital publishing for the Passionate Ink chapter’s RWA party last week. Since digital publishing is such a broad topic, I chose to take the rah-rah approach. I think the speech loses a little in translation, reading it instead of seeing it presented, but several people on Twitter requested that I post it so here you go:
“Zor Q’an Tal, High King of Tryston, Emperor of Trek Mi Q’an galaxy, Guardian of the Sacred Sands, and the most feared man in six hundred galaxies and seven dimensions, popped a cheesy doodle into his mouth.”
And in 2000, with those highly evocative words from Jaid Black, author of the Empress’ New Clothes, Ellora’s Cave was open to the public and thus began the age of erotic romance. Prior to 2000, there were other digital publishers in the market, but Ellora’s Cave, who holds the trademark for romantica, was arguably the publisher to put erotic romance on the digital map. After Ellora’s Cave came other digital publishers such as Loose Id and Liquid Silver. In 2004, Samhain Publishing exploded on the scene (I can say it like that because I work there :P) with offerings like Maya Banks 2005 debut, Colters’ Woman:
“His big hands traveled down her back and settled on her ass, cupping and squeezing, pushing her against his groin. His cock, hard, big, bulging in his jeans, thrust into the cradle of her pelvis. Can you feel how much I want you?” he whispered.”
In the almost decade since erotic romance has made its mark on the publishing map, countless other digital publishers have opened their doors from Cobblestone, to Total E-bound, to Wild Rose Press, to the most recent addition, Quartet Press. Print publisher Red Sage joined the digital-first/digital-only ranks. In that time we’ve also seen traditional print publishers join the erotic romance trend…and now release their books in digital formats as well. Beth Kery’s Sweet Restraint from Berkley Heat:
“He saw her eyes go wide but he didn’t give her a chance to respond to his totally irrational proclamation before he covered her mouth with his own.
He drank from her furiously. Pain vibrated through his flesh. Not the discomfort of a wound or an injury, but the raw, searing pain that came from exposing a desire that had long been denied.
At that moment he needed Laura Vasquez just like he needed to breathe.”
And yet, while there is now an outlet for erotic romance in the traditional publishing realm, authors and readers continue to seek out digital publishers to publish not just erotic romance, but all genres of romance, as well as fiction.
When Passionate Ink asked me to speak to all of you about digital publishing, I didn’t know how I could possibly do justice to the topic in five to ten minutes. Where do I begin to explain why I think readers and authors continue to seek out digital publishers? How would it be possible to convey how amazing I think digital publishing is. How excited I am to work in a part of the publishing industry that gives me the freedom to publish books that I love, to push the envelope and allow authors the ability to get books that bend genres (and body parts) in new and unique ways.
Then I realized that I probably don’t have to do that. Many of you already come from a digital publishing background. Those who don’t, who are here tonight, are here because of your love of erotic romance, a genre everyone can acknowledge got its push in digital publishing. So many of you already share my excitement and love of this corner of the industry.
Still, with all that’s been discussed leading up to this year’s conference, we have to acknowledge that there are those who don’t feel the same optimism, excitement and passion for digital publishing, and in some cases, erotic romance, as we do. It would be easy to be discouraged, angry and frustrated about this, and since I’m only human–don’t tell anyone, I heard earlier that there’s some talk I’ve never been seen in the sunlight and I don’t want to shatter anyone’s illusions– but since I am only human, I’ll admit there are times I feel all of those.
But then I remember I work in an industry that allowed talented authors like Lora Leigh, Lauren Dane, Angela Knight, Jaci Burton, Maya Banks, Beth Kery, Mary Janice Davidson, Megan Hart, Linnea Sinclair, Lilith Saintcrow and so many others to get their start. An industry that’s drawn authors like Deidre Knight, Shayla Black, Ilona Andrews and Lucy Monroe. And an industry that’s showcasing talents like authors Josh Lanyon, Laura Baumbach, and K.A Mitchell who write male/male fiction they otherwise might not have found a home for.
Digital publishing is a place where authors can start their careers, continue their careers, write short, write long, write erotic, write male/male, write female/female, write about three brothers loving and living with one woman…write about werewolves, demons, vampires, suspense, erotica, BDSM, and publish a book like Deidre Knight’s Butterfly Tattoo, a simple yet amazingly complex story of a man and a woman falling in love and facing obstacles…such as finding a publisher because the hero was formerly in a homosexual relationship. Digital publishing offers all of that and so much more.
I know that, you know that and I believe that as time passes and more people get to know digital publishing, they too will recognize that. I’m not going to stop believing in our industry because people question, disdain or disbelieve. In the words of Galaxy Quest, I choose to “Never give up. Never surrender.” because I have faith in digital publishing.
Chassie planned on having a whole lotta beer. She definitely needed alcohol to get the conversation started and probably an entire case to follow through with her plan. She took two bottles of Bud Light from the door and passed one to him. Snick, hiss, pop echoed, as the lids were untwisted.
Edgard’s backside rested against one counter; hers on the one across from him. She gulped her beer, cautioning herself to be tactful and calm, but what burst forth from her mouth was, “Are you in love with my husband?”
This is the industry that brought readers erotic romance and powerful books like Lorelei James’ Rough, Raw and Ready.
And it’s not going away.
Jaci Burton’s winner: Chris (comment #5)! Check out Jaci’s backlist at her website and email her at jaci at jaciburton dot com with your book choice!
Shannon Stacey’s winner: Pearl (comment #19)! Check out Shannon’s digital backlist at her website and email her at shannonstacey at gmail dot com with your book choice and preferred format!
Thank you all for keeping us company while we hijacked our editor’s blog!
So when Angela asked for any volunteers to post while she was away, I happily volunteered because, hey, I’ve got a book coming out in print August 2009. My happiness quickly deflated when she said “But, this can’t be a strictly promotional post. It should be fun and informative.” Ugh! I had five days to come up with something witty and I’m not very witty, especially on the spot. In any event, with a little help from a friend, I came up with something that I hope meets the standards.
TWELVE THINGS I’VE LEARNED SINCE I STARTED WRITING PROFESSIONALLY……
1. There are guidelines even for your imagination.
2. Writing is a solitary profession.
3. I can come up with enough words to write an entire book.
4. Characters don’t like it when you ignore them.
5. Research can be fun and interesting.
6. A plot is more than a final resting place.
7. Research can be boring and tedious.
8. The right critique partners are a blessing.
9. It’s still about being in the right place at the right time.
10. Promotion sucks.
11. Getting published is only the beginning.
12. Every story has already been told; you have to tell it with a new twist.
Now these are not in any particular order. Over the eleven years I’ve been writing on a professional level, all of these things have come into play at different stages. I know I’ll be dealing with them again.
Have a wonderful Sunday….
~~Sloan McBride (www.sloanmcbride.com)
P.S. Book One of my Time Walker Series, “The Fury” is coming out in print August 2009. Please drop by my website to read reviews, an excerpt, and see the new book trailer I created.
So here I am, sitting in my living room, which is in chaos because we’re having a new floor fitted, and a new kitchen, thinking about the RWA conference and where I’d rather be.
But the RWA Conference isn’t the only game in town. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of the RNA – the Romantic Novelists’ Association, in Penrith, Great Britain. There is a lot of cross-traffic between the RNA and the RWA, and some people are members of both, but they are very different organisations with different aims and approaches.
The RNA is primarily for published writers, although we do have many unpublished members. And the British romance market is very different to the American, with different definitions. There aren’t always romance shelves in British bookstores, and some books that would be considered mainstream in the States are counted in the UK as romance, for instance, the sagas (sometimes known as “clogs and shawls”) in which the love story is only part of the heroine’s journey. Paranormal romance is almost unknown in the UK, and historical romance is very different. Best-selling authors like Mary Jo Putney and Liz Carlyle are unheard of in the UK.
But writers are writers the world over, and the weekend consisted of jovial meetings at the bar and the dinners, and classes which could be applicable either side of the Atlantic, and over the Pacific too, come to that.
Instead of doing summaries of the talks, I’ll put snippets from the ones I went to. If you’re interested, the summaries and accounts can be found on the RNA blog, a new venture that should be on any writer’s feed list:
So here are some snippets from the talks:
Freda Lightfoot is a writer of sagas and mis-lit, and she used to own her own bookstore, so she’s seen both sides of the process. Her talk was on author branding.
“Your brand is your guarantee of quality.” She advised attendees not to stint in their efforts, but to remember that writing is a business.
Kathy Gale used to work for MacMillan and other publishers as an editor. She has now opened her own business.
“There is a big gap between writers and publishers – writers don’t always know what publishers want.
Supermarket sales have transformed the market. Supermarkets take about 12 books a month then sell them in huge quantities, instead of taking more writers and selling fewer books. In recent years that has led to the death of the midlist.
It’s very important to see yourself as a contemporary writer. Authors sometimes write in a slightly old-fashioned way, or don’t update a manuscript that has been around for years. Older authors can continue, but should try to update, new writers should write in a contemporary style.
Think about what the reader wants. You are writing for someone else, not just for yourself.
“New writers will spend a lot of time describing place and not enough characters. Don’t let pace override everything else.”
As well as a successful author, Anita Burgh is a teacher and mentor to many unpublished writers. She spoke about surviving rejection. “Dyslexia is very common among writers. Don’t be too humble in submissions, on the other hand don’t be too bombastic either. Agents and editors need you, or they can’t survive.”
Jessica Hart is a multipublished Harlequin/Mills and Boon author. Her talk was on the “f-word.” (not the one I was thinking about!)
“In a romance the story is about the obstacle between the h/h. The tension comes from uncertainty.”
“Fear is the biggest plot driver of all.”
“Plot isn’t about putting the characters in romantic scenes in romantic places.”
“The hero and heroine have to find it impossible to walk away at any part of the story.”
Jessica recommended Blake Snyder’s book “Save the Cat.”
Hugo Summerson is the former MP for Walthamstow East. His talk was on Public Speaking. His whole talk was a perfect example of how to keep an audience listening.
“When campaigning, in a car cavalcade the safest car is the first one. The last car is the one that gets the rotten fruit.”
“Don’t give handouts until the end as it’s a distraction for the audience.”
“Find out what the audience wants to know. Find out how long you’re going to speak for. Assess depth of knowledge in audience.”
“What interests people is people. Not dry facts. So use anecdotes and concrete examples.”
“How interested you are in your subject? If it bores you, you shouldn’t have accepted the invitation.”
There was more. I could go on all day. What with that, the shoes and the discussions with other authors, it was a highly successful conference, and I can’t wait until next year!
If you want to read more about the conference, or about the RNA, we now have a blog:
And our website is
Phew! I did it all without breaking Angie’s blog! Go me!
I first started working for Samhain in about August of 2007. And, as all of us newbies are in the beginning, I was under Angie’s thumb. Very much so under her thumb. And for someone like me who likes to do things on my own, I hated it. Really hated it. I had to send EVERYTHING I did to her to look at and give me approval on first. I remember complaining that I thought it was stupid, I knew what I was doing and if I had a question, I would ask. Hell, she wouldn’t have hired me if I sucked, right?
I was right about her not hiring me if I sucked…and for anyone out there’s who’s taken her/Samhain’s editor test, it’s grueling. Very grueling. But I was wrong about not needing her guidance. Very wrong. As much as I may have disliked it at the time, I know that I am a better editor today because of her guidance and flaming whip. She really has one, I promise. And it really hurts sometimes. The first edits I sent to her for one of my books, she promptly flung back at me with about a million comments on the first few pages. I remember my stomach sinking to the floor, or below that if possible, and wondering why she had hired me in the first place. And then I quickly got over, put on my big girl panties and took her comments and integrated them into my editing from there on out.
And after what seemed like years, she finally gave me the go ahead to go it on my own, that I didn’t need her approval anymore. I was so happy that I didn’t have to take that extra step anymore that took more time up. And now that I look back at that, I know that when she did that, she was telling me she trusted me. She trusted that I would put out the quality of work Samhain is known for at the Crissy and Angie expect from us.
I have yet to meet Angie in person, but I’m hoping to at RT next year. It’s in Ohio and I’m in Indiana and I’ve already made up my mind that I’ll be there. =) And I can’t wait to finally get to meet the illustrious Angela James. I mean, heck, the woman has been my boss for two years now and I’ve never even met her. But I guess in this industry that’s not so far out of the norm. =)
I can only hope to have the “status” someday that Angie has in this industry. I can honestly say she’s my editing hero/role model. LO And no, I’m not sucking up, that’s not me. I’m just stating the facts that I think any other editor at Samhain would agree with.
P.S. I was going to do something sooooo typically Tera and post nudie pics of David Hasselhoff (my hero) or some such nonsense, but I though better and decided to do something out of the norm and do something completely off the wall and be serious for once. =P Plus, I figure if I’m good this time, then Angie will trust me to babysit her blog again and I can come up with some a little more….interesting, shall we say. =)