Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Changes in the Romance e-Book Market

The erotic romance publishers blog recently asked readers if they thought per-title romance e-book sales were down. My answer would be yes. It is a tougher market than it used to be. The following post discusses possible reasons for the downturn, and the ways in which romance e-book publishers are trying to adapt to the changing market conditions.

Vulture.com recently published a piece profiling troubles at Ellora’s Cave, the pioneering publisher of e-book “romantica”. According to Vulture.com, the once insanely profitable publishing company has been seriously impacted by self-publishing platforms like Kindle Direct, and the Kindle Unlimited subscription service. Most authors and readers have seen this firsthand: the romance e-book market is swamped with free books, ultra cheap books, and thousands and thousands of self-published books. All romance e-book publishers, not just Ellora’s Cave, are having a tough time competing.

The modern e-book romance reader is offered an embarrassment of riches. Without some reason to be loyal to a particular author or certain publisher, the reader may well choose a book simply because it's cheap. As long as the reader is sufficiently entertained, they’ll be back, looking for more of the same. They won't care if books are self-published or not. It’s the dog-eat-dog nature of the free-enterprise system.

A whole industry has sprung up to support and inflate the visibility of self-published romance e-books. Many of these schemes are highly unethical, some are not. But that’s the subject of another post.

How is the romance e-book publishing industry responding to these changes? The solutions pretty well scare me. For example, Ellora’s Cave has been accused of failing to pay authors' royalties on time, if at all. This publisher is also attempting to publish non-romance genres. Ellora's Cave is not the only one. Samhain, a high quality romance e-book publisher, has made a significant investment in horror fiction.

Although more ethical than not paying authors, I believe diversification into other genres is not a smart business move. Legendary Wall Street investor Peter Lynch termed that kind of overreach “diworsification.” He suggests that a business that diversifies too widely risks messing up the original business because management time, energy and resources are diverted. Sure, there may be fewer non-romance e-book titles to compete with, but so what? Romance readers are voracious. Readers of other genres may not be. How many failures before a romance e-book publisher figures out what makes a superior, best-selling non-romance book? How long will it take to determine who the new audience is, and how to entice them into purchasing? That may well be why Carina Press abandoned its efforts to publish straight science fiction.

The changing market has also resulted in changing submission requirements. For example, Carina Press is no longer accepting short novella length romance fiction. Samhain isn’t accepting submissions at all.

These are interesting times.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Scary Craigslist Advertisement

The other day I found this obnoxious ad posted on Craigslist. It's a "bondage" riff on the usual nude model exploitation scam.

It's dangerous enough for a model to meet up with some stranger--at his place. It's even more risky if the model agrees to get tied up. The creep in this ad implies he should get free modeling in exchange for his "research" and "insight". This research and insight doesn't seem to extend much past his own dick. Throwing around words like SSC or sneering at Fifty Shades doesn't make him knowledgeable. What irritates me most about this ad is that the "photographer" is asking for pictures of the potential model to see if she has the "right body type". The model has a right to have her masturbatory fantasy fulfilled, too. She should ask for pictures of him.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Submission call: #BlazeBlitz

My favorite Harlequin line is looking for new talent! Submission to #Blaze Blitz gives you some truly terrific perks. Not only will you bypass the slush pile (45 day response time), you'll get editorial feedback.

You must submit through the Harlequin online submission manager between March 2nd and March 16th.

Blaze Blitz Guidelines

Get that story in!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie: Theaters Say No to Props

Theaters showing Fifty Shades have been asking moviegoers to leave their “props” (like ties!) at home. Cinemas fear such props might make other guests “uncomfortable”.

I’m thinking the movie might make some people uncomfortable!

The Valentine’s Day release for this film is pretty strange. I pity the poor guy who is forced to see Fifty Shades with his girl. The movie is going to confuse him. He’ll be asking her, "you really want someone to do that to you?"

My advice to him: Take it slow, dude. Don’t try full-on film dominance. Otherwise, you'll be like the guy who is inspired by the Youtube video of the idiot who rides his bike off a roof onto a trampoline.  Many woman are turned on by the fantasy BDSM of Fifty Shades, but part of the appeal is that the Dominant is a super-handsome billionaire. See if a dabble of BDSM will do ya, kay?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You Know You Read Too Many Romances When… (A Top Ten List)

10. You're disappointed when the romance hero is only a millionaire.

9. Having sex on the back of a camel begins to seem plausible.

8. You respond to your man's amorous advances with, "Are you trying to bed me?"

7. You summarily dismiss any guy named Bob, Frank or Paul as a possible love interest.

6. You start thinking of real people as TSTL.

5. You expect 4+ orgasms every time you have sex with your own man.

4. Your passwords are all names of your favorite romance heroes.

3. You start saying "och" and you aren't even a Scot.

2. You know that a rake is more than a garden tool.

and most importantly,

1. You know at least 50 different synonyms for penis—including MWOP.

This list was compiled from amazon romance forum posts. Thank you, ladies!

Repost from Ainsley's blog (http://ainsleydavidson.blogspot.com/)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Back in May, I wrote about my reality show audition. As part of the process, I had to fill out tons of forms, including a detailed background questionnaire: When was the last time you used drugs? How many X-rated movies have you been in? Are you current on your child support payments... and so on. Filling out the forms were exhausting, and kind of painful, because they were intended for 25 year-olds. Contestants for these shows are evidently kids who actually know the e-mail addresses of their college roommates.

With all the work I put into getting on the show, I started getting really optimistic, and truly interested in the idea of changing the world and being on TV. My plan to just enjoy the experience went out the window. The show loves me! And I love the show! We were meant for each other! I spent a lot time imagining my new future.

Months went by, and I realized my love affair with the show was one-sided. The show did not pick me. The show did not love me. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was actually mad. And then I was sad. And then I was all, "The show is gonna suck anyway, and besides, the show picked nothing but narcissistic, high-concept lack-wits." And then, finally, I accepted the rejection. I had a pretty happy non-Hollywood life before, and I would again.

Less than a week ago, I got a phone message from the show. My love needed me! I was thrilled and flattered. I knew the show was being filmed, and had heard there was some trouble with the contestants not following the rules. Happy that the show loved me again, I returned the call.

The show was, as I suspected, looking for alternates. Yes, I was still interested in being on the show. Yes, I could be ready as long as I got two weeks notice. But at the end of the day, I was massively irritated. Why had my great love returned? All the emotional work I did to get the show out of my heart and mind was wasted. I started dreaming about my new and exciting Hollywood future again. Which is nuts because the future is bleak: The young casting assistant who spoke to me knew only my name and number. Nothing else. Not the forms I'd already filled out, not what sort of person I was, not that I already had an audition "package". 

I'm pretty sure the show called me only because I'm an entry in a little black book. Some love. Heh. If anything exciting happens, I'll post an update. Otherwise, I'm going back to my happy non-Hollywood life.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Have a Website!

I'm in the process of developing a website! It's kind of raw, but hey, I've got to start somewhere!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

YOLO: Reality Show Audition

We had a family emergency recently. It took days of hard physical labor to get things fixed up and back to normal. I returned to Colorado exhausted, keenly aware of my mortality and my limitations. When faced with such a gloomy realization, some people might turn to religion, or maybe drugs.

I auditioned for a TV reality adventure show.

I took my youngest daughter’s motto to heart: YOLO or You Only Live Once, and filled out a short online form. I made hay about being an erotic romance writer. I figured that would distinguish me from the multitude of personal trainers. I swept through the questions, my answers more snarky than pensive. Halfway through the questionnaire, I got my cheery back.

Not long after, I got a call from a producer/casting/assistant type of person, inviting me to an on camera interview. I went.

The on camera audition was an altogether unfamiliar, and lovely, experience. There were three young people in the room. Two transcribed what I said onto their laptops (I think that’s what they were doing), and another worked the camera and asked questions. The interviewer was empathetic and highly personable. I wondered what they were looking for.

I’ve always been goal-oriented. Concrete achievements are the measure of success. Like a degree. Or getting to the top of a mountain, or potty training a child, or getting a book published. I soon recognized that audition success had nothing to do with a curriculum vitae. Beyond the basics of my background, the casting folk just didn’t care.

They were looking for personality.

To get to the next round, I’d need to allow the producers to see some innate, inborn part of me. I’d have to pitch who I was, not what I’ve done. And I’d have to do it by showing, not telling. Was I funny? Intellectual? Judgmental? Adventurous? Psycho? Personality analysis happens during all job interviews, I suppose, but usually there’s a pretense of discussing skills and education. The purpose of a reality show interview is only to find people who’ll make good TV. Heh. We'll see how far I get. In any case, I'm having an adventure.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pole Dancing and Me

I've always believed that I should write what I want to know, rather than what I do know. Learning something new makes writing fiction a full-on blast. But sometimes I cheat. Like when I wrote exotic dance scenes in Management Skills, I ended up relying on my general dance experience.

But ever since, I've wondered... shouldn't I find out what exotic dancing is all about? I got my chance last Friday when one of our local pole dance studios (yes, we have two!) offered a trial class for 5 bucks. Armed with curiosity and a full water bottle, I went. The instructor was cute as a button, wearing some sort of tiny volleyball shorts and jogbra. Happily, she was patient and a skilled teacher. She started out with stretches and upper-body strengthening exercises. I should've known I'd be in trouble when she started doing one-armed planks.

Soon we were learning mini-routines on the pole. Arm strength is critical. Why? Because pole-dancing is actually not dancing; it's gymnastics. It is an athletic event. The pole is made up of some sort of material that's supposed to stick well to skin. Evidently, a bare thigh squeeze can help hold a person up. Hence the instructor's volleyball shorts. Unfortunately, I wore super long shorts, sometimes known as pants. So no thigh squeeze for me. I had to hang and slide and twirl using my upper-body.

Which brings me to the subject of sexiness and pole dancing. Grimacing and grunting and landing in a meaty heap is not normally considered sexy. Let's just say I tried hard. But the instructor did teach us a little routine we could do on the floor. I convinced myself I was even graceful doing it. I committed the little dance to memory, intending to show my husband.

I performed my floor dance for him. He found it... inspiring.

The pole-dance class left me with aching shoulders and arms. I hurt for two days. I still have bruises on my inner and outer thighs and ankles. I can't wait to go to class again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Miss You, Sir: Cover Reveal

I'm thrilled to announce that Siren will be publishing my new BDSM novella series about the Quinn Brothers. Miss You, Sir will be coming out at the end of February. Take a look at the terrific cover. I love it!