Monday, November 14, 2011
Erotic Corner - Cautiously Optimistic in these Turbulent Publishing times
One of the stigmas about this business, and I mean writing erotica in general, be it erotica or erotic romance is the flack people may give you about writing "dirty books." That can and will be addressed in a separate post. Today's post is going to focus on the Publishing side of things.
If you've been following WriteSEX regularly, you've seen our over 100+ years of combined experience. From M. Christian's posts on how to maximize profit AND stretch your writing muscles, to Jean Marie Stine's advice on why erotica still sells, and everything in between (this is a plug for Oceania and Thomas Roche!) you've gathered that the best way to really make a living off writing is to write well, write often and keep pushing on, despite rejections. But what else makes a writing career? I mean there IS the self publishing route, but serious professionals tend to avoid that route as they understand that time is money and time spent designing covers that may or may not sell, plus file conversion, uploading to the few sources you'll sell at, plus the math, becomes a problem.
Enter the publishing house. They handle all that, and get your book out with potentially reduced profits to you, unless you've built your audience. No biggie, right? Fast forward to the age of e-books and we have in erotica, the big three:
1. Ellora's Cave
3. Loose ID.
Around the same time, eXtasy books came into existence, as did a number of other e-publishers , many of whom are still around. (Side Note: Sizzler Editions has been around longest of all, but has focused on a different business model, IMO, resulting in targeting a different audience.) Many of whom have had problems internally that have spawned authors with their own desire to run publishing companies. The problem with this now is that because of the confusion in New York, it seems like a LOT more publishing companies are sprouting up, and your options are vastly much larger than when I started writing. This is both good and bad. The good: It may be easier for you to get your work published by a house that's hungry for talent and new opportunities.
The bad: The house may fold. And they may screw you in the end.
I've been screwed over three times. That leaves ME with my five year rule, which I just broke upon my submission and acceptance to Decadent Publishing. My rule was thus - I will NOT write for a house less than five years old, especially now, considering all the factors that go into publishing, including our economy, desperate people with schemes, etc. Except that I just signed and emailed the contract back to Decadent last week. I know the owner, and most importantly, my agent gave me the backing. My guesswork was taken out of the equation by my e-agent. (We'll cover the belief I'm currently forming about why you'll eventually need an agent working with e-houses in another post)
Because I've spent time talking to the owner, I met some of the very sexy staff at the Erotic Author's Association convention, and got a sense of where I could place my trust should an offer come my way, I went ahead and asked my agent about subbing to Decadent. She gave the green light, two weeks later, I banged out a story, subbed it and two days later had a contract offer. (Since writing this post, I have banged out another story, subbed it and yes, two days later, got another contract offer!)
For someone like me with as much experience as I have, gut feeling plays an important role. Plus, I'm lending my name upon acceptance to their house in hopes that it'll be a great fit for both of us. I also had a back up plan in case they rejected me (It could happen!) or we worked together for a time and things went south or didn't go as planned/hoped.
Fast forward a few days later and I received an invite from a VERY new house to give them a story for an anthology. They'll remain unnamed as I'm not a slander guy unless I've been burned bad enough to warrant destroying them. I made reference online to how I'm doing them a favor and glad to so do, despite my reservations. The offer was rescinded, both of us wished each other luck and the incident will go forgotten about before you even finish reading this post.
I mentioned the favor thing partially as a joke but more so because this is my career and I intend to get to the top. This is the important thing. It's YOUR writing, it's YOUR career. So it's also your responsibility to take all sorts of things into consideration during these tumultuous times in the publishing industry. Yeah, my ego comes off a little too big for some but I'm through screwing around with my career. I've had twelve years to do that with and the results were not what I wanted until the last two years when things started to break open for me. So I can't waste my time with people who won't work with me especially when THEY'RE the new guy on the block. It's really just too risky. But for some other authors, that risk may pay off tremendously. I hope it does. I don't like to see authors or publishers fail. But in ANY industry I have been in, the key question was, what's your skin in the game? If I've got 12 years, and they have 100+ years in separate parts of the industry, it'd seem that they have the upper hand. But do those people have the combined skill to execute the plan of a successful publishing house? (This isn't a direct shot either, it's a question I'd ask of anyone) On day one, you don't know. On day 1,825 (I'm skipping a leap year) you've got a pretty good idea.
I think by now we all know the stat about new businesses and failure. For those that don't, something like 80% of new start ups fail in the first year.
When new opportunities in publishing become available to you, I encourage you to seek them out, feel your way through things and see what happens. But have a plan in mind. And a backup plan in place before that.
Erotica publishing works the same way non erotic publishing works, our career path is just much more fun since it involves sex. But do your research. Do your due diligence. You wouldn't trust your child, spouse or dog to just anyone, so why not treat yourself as the writer you are.
That writer is career focused, business oriented and optimistically cautious.
Sizzler Editions has been around slightly longer than Ellora's Cave. Different business strategies have placed EC in the top slot just as Sizzler Editions is expanding and growing. That's the beauty and bane of this industry though. Different business strategies. Many work, many work for the long haul, and many fail in the long run. But not always.