Thursday, April 29, 2010

More from RT - Days 3 and 4

Day 3
  • Met with several aspiring authors during Agent/Author interviews, which I have to say is my favorite part of RT, and got to hear some incredible pitches! Here's a tip for future RT-aspiring-author-attendees, pitch what you're passionate about. Don't worry about whether what you've written is "saleable" or not. That's the agent's job and we'll tell you. But, when you're passionate about what you've written, it will be evident in your submission. Just make sure you can write! ;) We'll tell you that too!
  • Spent most of the day, if not the entire day with Lori and Holly who are two of the most amazing women I've ever had the chance to meet and I meet amazing women every day! When Lori tells you she loves what she does, she's not lying and she's awesome to watch "in action". In a few panels I attended, Lori and I seemed to be the "buzz" when the talk about agenting for the electronic market came up.
  • Saw one of the panel attendees using an iPad with keyboard to take notes and schedule her appointments then switch to her notes with such envious speed that I think... and this could just be my imagination... that she was able to go back in time with her typing speed.
  • Met up with with my friend Annie, whom I've missed dearly, and had a fantastic dinner and girl-talk. Even inspired her muse with a few ideas for submission to Ravenous Romance.
Day 4
  • This was to be my last day at RT and I made sure to take advantage of the Pub Spotlights to talk to Treva Harte, co-owner of Loose Id and first author I've seen to write cowpunk, Elaine English, literary attorney extraordinaire and the fabulously wondrous Stephanie "Flash" Burke. We talked about everything and anything and got so caught up in our conversation that Treva almost didn't check out of the hotel in time and Elaine nearly missed her chance at picking up her copies at the UPS Store for her next panel (which I'm kicking myself for missing!)
  • We got to hear the pub spotlight from Angela James for Carina Press and am really excited about this new imprint. I mean, how could you NOT be? It's truly a digital publisher with the backing of Harlequin but not the influence. Their marketing strategies for their authors are pretty fantastic and I'm looking forward to seeing the first books selling on June 7th.
  • Had a few people approach me as I exited one venue or another and ask about the need for an agent in ePublishing and then quickly pitching their work to me. Made me feel like a rock and roll star. LOL
This has been the experience of a lifetime, really and I'm so excited to be a trailblazer in the ePub market. An agent who will look at your ePub contracts and help launch the careers of the next "big thing" in publishing. It's pretty awesome to be in this industry!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lessons Learned from RT 2010 Days 1 and 2

I wanted to make a post last night but was so exhausted when I got back to my hotel that I barely made it into my PJs before succumbing to sleep after watching Glee. I won't mention how the "Home" songs made me homesick on my first day away from my hubby and children... nope... not going to mention the goosebumps I got from hearing Kristin Chenoweth belting out one of my favorite songs from The Wiz or how I squeed "Yaoi moment" when Kurt and Finn sang the Luther Vandross song. Nope... this post is about RT and the amazing time I'm having!

Right... so... Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2010 in Columbus, OH has been incredible and I'm so glad I chose to attend. I've had a chance to meet several publishers and authors face to face and that, above everything else, has been AMAZING! Yes, I'm a huge fangirl of so many of these people that when I actually stood and shook hands with Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora's Cave, Claire Siemaszkiewicz of Total-e-Bound, Daniel Reitz from Mundania Press and Phaze Books, I sent a little prayer I didn't look like a total fool!

But, I digress! The most important thing about these Cons is what knowledge do you walk away with? What did you learn while being surrounded by this melange of incredible authors, editors, publishers and forward-thinking people like yourself who see the future of publishing every minute they talk to you and, like you, are book geeks galore?

Lesson 1 - ePubs Rule
Yes, I'm biased, I don't care! *sticks tongue out at you* But seriously... I've been saying this for many years and ePubs like Ellora's Cave have proven the fact that ePubs pave the road for the print publishers now more than they ever did before. Print is looking at what the digital markets have done and are doing to gain and retain readership. One speaker from Samhain Publishing said it best when she said that "ePub is doing what Harlequin did with the trade paperback in the 70s... revolutionizing the publishing industry".

Ten years ago, the perception of ePub'ed authors was that these authors were not good enough for "real" publishing. Today, authors like Angela Knight, Mary Janice Davidson, Sarah McCarty, Cheyenne McCray, Lora Leigh, Kate Douglas are Best-selling authors whose roots and backlists are still purchased and found in ePubs like Ellora's Cave and Loose-Id.

Lesson 2 - Male/Male is HAWT!
And extremely "bankable". Every publisher mentioned wanting more male/male when asked what they were looking for. Other things publishers are looking for include: Men and Women in Uniform, Historicals set in the 20s or 60s, Female/Female, Menage, Interracial, Multi-cultural, Interracial Paranormal, Cyberpunk, BDSM (particularly femme domme, if you have one, query me NOW), Urban Fantasy, Rubenesque (BBW), kinky, raunchy (the hotter, the better).

Lesson 3 - Agents are Important
Regardless of whether your contract is from a traditional print publisher or a small indie ePub, having an advocate who will make sure you're not "selling your soul" and can understand and negotiate your contract is crucial. As the rules change with the explosion of the digital market rights moving into 3rd-party distributors like Amazon, Fictionwise, iBook Store, etc. it's important to understand the contract you're signing.

I believe that as the publishers begin to set pricing with these 3rd-party distributors and are allowed to set eBook prices almost equal to their print counterparts, the need for authors to make sure their contracts don't short-sell them for these sales will grow as well.

Lesson 4 - The More the Merrier
Having a group to "hang out" with is great to have. They can:
  1. Remind you to eat between panels/sessions.
  2. Go to different panels/sessions and come back to a "pow wow" where you can exchange information.
  3. Squee with you when the Mr. Romance contestants walk past.
  4. Geek out with you in full costumed garb for the Faery Ball, Vampire Ball, MadHatters Tea and other totally crazy parties at RT.
  5. Feed your buzz all the way through the event from your flight in to your return flight.
Next year, it's in Los Angeles... I'm not going alone to that one for sure! ;)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Submission Call - Breathless Press

Breathless Press continues to expand its exciting new lineup and is pleased to announce the launch of yet another new series.

In August 2010 they will add their female/female stories called Aphrodite…where female passion and sexuality tantalize the senses. To kick off the release of these new books, the company will publish STRAPLESS by Honoria Ravena. Writers wishing to submit should follow Breathless Press guidelines and put the word ‘APHRODITE’ in the subject line.

And this fall,two other two new lines will also be added to its already exciting mix of top notch romance and erotic romances. 

Launching in November 2010, author Kaye Spencer (A.L.Debran) will kick off the new series of Branded books which are sure to put the sizzle in the Wild, Wild West. The publisher is currently seeking Western themed erotic and romance stories. Submissions should follow Breathless Press guidelines, but writers should put BRANDED in the subject line of their submission.

And in January 2011, Breathless Press will be launching a new line called Cyber and is currently looking for futuristic (or Science Fiction themed) erotic stories of between 2.5k and 15k. Stories of up to 20k will be considered on a submission to submission basis. Submissions should follow Breathless Press guidelines but writers should put CYBER in the subject line of their submission.

And Breathless Press is also currently looking for the following stories-

For October-Witches and Demons (stories must contain a demon or witch element).

For December-Naughty or Nice (stories must contain the themed element of being naughty or nice).
All stories must be erotic or be in the category of a 2+ heat rating (please see the Breathless Press site for details), must be under 35k but above 1k, (no flirt lengths). Both categories are open to unpublished and published writers. There will be ten winners in each category. Stories must be original and not have been published elsewhere. Stories will be treated like any other one published by Breathless Press. They will be available from the time they are live to the time the contract expires upon which it may be renewed. Each story will get their own, unique cover with a graphic that sets them apart from regular Breathless Press stories. The author will receive the standard Breathless Press royalty of 35% of net sales.  In addition each winner will receive the following-

A $10 gift card for the book or books of their choice on the All Romance Ebook Web site.

A $10 gift card redeemable at Breathlesspress.com

Deadline for the Witches and Demon stories is June 30th, 2010 at 12.00 AM EDT

Deadline for the Naughty or Nice stories is September 30th, 2010 at 12.00 AM EDT

For all lines and contests, both new and established authors are invited to submit their work. Stories for all the new lines and contests should be e-mailed to acquisitions@breathlesspress.com

Please visit the Breathless Press Website for submission format requirements and/or to view a sample contract.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Call for Submissions - Cleis Press

As seen on and Rachel Kramer Bussel's blog:

Call for Submissions

The Big Book of Quickies

To be published by Cleis Press in 2011
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Final deadline: June 1, 2010 (submissions accepted on a rolling basis, so if I get all the stories I need before June 1st, I may close the call sooner, so get yours in early!)
Payment: $20 and 1 copy of the book on publication for The Big Book of Quickies, I’m looking for short, original erotica stories of 1,200 words or less spanning a range of topics, tones, settings, and sexual orientations. The book will include everything from quickie sex to threesomes, sex toys, public sex, BDSM, fetishes, fantasies and more. Use your imagination. Because there will be more stories than my usual anthologies (approximately 75-80), I’m especially looking for a range of sexual diversity and adventure. See my previous titles such as Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories, Peep Show, Bottoms Up, etc. for the kinds of stories I enjoy.

How to submit: Send double spaced Times or Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, not .docx) OR RTF of up to 1,200 words (this is a STRICT word count). Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) required. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to bigbookofquickies@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you'd like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. I will get back to you by October 2010.
Payment: $20 and 1 copy of the book on publication
I've been seeing numerous recent submissions that do not conform to my guidelines. They are there for a reason. Please read and follow them or risk your submission being rejected or returned for reformatting. If you have any questions, please contact me at bigbookofquickies@gmail.com

About the editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor of over 25 anthologies, including Peep Show, Bottoms Up, Spanked, The Mile High Club, Do Not Disturb, He’s on Top, She’s on Top, Tasting Him, Tasting Her, Crossdressing, Dirty Girls, and is Best Sex Writing Series Editor. She is Senior Editor at Penthouse Variations, wrote the Lusty Lady column for The Village Voice, and has hosted and curated In The Flesh Reading Series, named Best Reading Series by New York Press, in since October 2005. Her writing has been published in over 100 anthologies, including Susie Bright’s X: The Erotic Treasury, Best American Erotica 2004 and 2006, and Zane’s Purple Panties and the New York Times bestseller Succulent: Chocolate Flava II. She has written for Cosmopolitan, The Daily Beast, Fresh Yarn, Mediabistro, Newsday, New York Post, Penthouse, Time Out New York, Zink and other publications.
 
Call for submissions: Best Sex Writing 2011
(see http://www.bestsexwriting.com for more information on what I'm looking for)
To be edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Publication date: December 2010
Deadline for submissions: May, 2010
Editor Rachel Kramer Bussel is looking for personal essays and reportage for inclusion in the 2011 edition of the Cleis Press series Best Sex Writing, which will hit stores in December 2010. Seeking articles from across the sexual spectrum, covering alternative sexuality, reproductive rights and sexuality, sex education, sex and technology, sex work, sex and aging, sex and parenting, sex and religion, sex and race, sex and disability, BDSM, polyamory, gender roles, etc. These topics are just starting points; any writings covering the topic of sex will be considered. Personal essays will also be considered. I like work that looks at sex in new and unusual ways, that challenges us to think about sex and our own sexuality, is thought-provoking and possibly disturbing. I want sex journalism that's found in the most unexpected places.

Previous editions of the annual series have featured authors such as Violet Blue, Susannah Breslin, Susie Bright, Betty Dodson, Stephen Elliott, Gael Greene, Ariel Levy, Daphne Merkin, Michael Musto, Tristan Taormino, Virginia Vitzhum, and others,. And Best Sex Writing 2009 won the IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award for Sexuality/Relationships. See the rest of the series for examples of the types of writing being sought. I'm especially looking for reported pieces that are political, timely, intelligent, surprising, and insightful about sex (and its many subcultures).
Requirements: Unpublished or published articles or essays may be submitted. Nonfiction only. If the piece has been previously published, you must retain reprint rights (or include approval from the originating publication) for consideration. If previously published, story must have been published (or slated to be published) between June 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010, online and/or in print (book, magazine, zine or newspaper). Previous publication credits will be credited in the book.

Instructions: Please send your double-spaced submission (1,500 - 6,000 words) as a Word document (.doc only) or RTF attachment to rachel at bestsexwriting.com - you may submit a maximum of TWO pieces for consideration. You MUST include your full contact information, a bio, and previous publication details as per below.

If for some reason you are unable to send a Word document or RTF, send your submission in the body of an email. Put BSW11 in the subject line. Include your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and exact publication details (title of publication, date of publication, and any other relevant information). ONLY SEND WORK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REPRINT.
Editors may submit up to three submissions from their publication, following the guidelines above. Please make it clear that you are the editor submitting work for consideration from your publication, and have the author's contact information available upon request.

Email address (for queries and submissions): rachel at bestsexwriting.com

Payment: $100

Deadline: June 1, 2010

Expect to hear back from me by September 2010 at the latest.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

So what is it you do, exactly?

I've been asked to detail the process of what I do from the moment an author accepts me for representation (yes, we sweat bullets thinking we'll be rejected just as much as the author does when he/she submits their query) to the moment the pub contract is signed... and beyond. Well... here it is in a nutshell... perhaps a walnut shell but a shell nonetheless!

  1. Query Received - It really does start with the query! Authors need to make sure the query letter is not just eye-grabbing but stellar in the information it provides. My decision to open attachments (which should include your manuscript) is based solely on the query letter. If I don't like your query, you will receive a rejection e-mail from me. I try to detail why the query is being rejected but as the query pile grows, form letters become the norm. But we're talking about those that I accept, so let's continue, shall we?
  2. Read Attachments - I was going to include this as a subtopic to the first step, but in reality, if the query grabs me, then this is the next logical step. I open the attachments and dive into the synopsis for the novel first. Is the synopsis detailed enough to give me a good idea of what this novel is about? Are the characters introduced in the first page of the synopsis? If I get to the bottom of the first page and I don't know the name of your main character (nevermind that it should also be included in the query letter) we have a serious problem and it will likely lead me to sending a rejection letter. With the queries I've received lately, I've actually gone ahead and read the novel attached as well even if the synopsis is weak. Some authors have trouble simplifying their scenes in their synopses and I could miss out on a great opportunity if I stopped there. So, I push myself to read the novel and if it "wows" me in the first few pages, I'll send an e-mail with offer to represent the author.
  3. Offer Representation - Sending out these e-mails are the highlight of my day (and unfortunately they're not a daily occurrence). I try to make these personal and not a form letter. I try to give each of my clients a little information about myself and try to include some accolades on their work and why I want to represent their work. Most times, it's because what they've pitched is ready for me to send directly to a publisher and while I was reading I could think of three or four publishers I could send the manuscript to. This is usually where e-mail tag comes into play.
  4. Pray - Seriously. I send a quick prayer for guidance with... and FOR my clients that they pick me to represent them and that we are well-suited to each other. Like a marriage, our relationship has to work well and we have to be able to still respect each other in the morning or we're never going to be a successful team.
  5. Prepare Documents for Pitch - One very large difference in the digital market to the print, is the inability to just call an editor up, invite them to lunch and casually drop into the conversation that I have an amazing manuscript I want them to look over. I'm an ePub Agent because I work and represent work in the virtual and/or digital world. This means, I have to send my pitch letter to the submissions e-mail address that thousands of other authors are sending their queries to. What sets me apart, is that my query is marked "Agented Query" and I send out an email to the editors I know at the digital pub letting them know that I'm sending something for them to look over. Getting the manuscripts ready though, takes a few days for me and this is why:
    • Edit the manuscript. While I'm not an Editor by trade, I do catch the inevitable typo, misspelling and stray comma splice here and there. I clean up the manuscript as best as possible and return it to my client for review and discussion. While I don't like to make recommendations for revisions unless warranted, my clients can expect to see comments in the margins ranging from "SQUEE" to "I can't believe I didn't see this coming!" I will also make suggestions to my clients about blurbs (though I must admit to not being as good at writing these) syntax and even chapter breaks if necessary.
    • Save the manuscript, query letter and synopses in the formats the various digital presses want them in. Some want them in .rtf others in .doc. Some want only Times New Roman - 12 pt type to be used while others will only accept Courier - 12 pt. This translates into my having several "versions" of the manuscripts saved on my computer for my clients (thank God for external hard drives) ready for my cover letter (aka, the pitch letter).
    • Send e-mails out with manuscripts, synopses and query letters attached to the various digital pubs.
  6. Notify Clients - I let my clients know when I've sent out pitch letters and to which pubs via e-mail. I use this time to also encourage my clients to get started on their next novel. I may ask about what they're working on or mention submission calls that have been posted by the various pubs.
  7. Negotiate Contracts - This is actually the fun part for me. While every publisher says their contract is "standard" many will allow and expect you to make contract revisions. This varies from publisher to publisher and author to author. Each publisher has a different risk factor in their business and when dealing with new, previously unpublished authors, they are more conservative with their risks. Simple law of averages, here folks. If they don't see a possibility to make money, the publisher will not contract the work. Once they do, however there is always room for improvement on the contract. Everything from royalty schedule to advances can be negotiated and based on the contract as well as the relationship the editor and the author can have, I make my recommendations to my clients. We are all in this to make money and in order to do that, the relationship between the author and the editor needs to be a good one. If the editor doesn't understand where the author is coming from and vice versa, the relationship will start off on the wrong foot and end on that same foot.
  8. Party Hardy - Okay, so it's not really party time yet, but once the contracts are signed and the editor and author get working on edits, galley proof and cover designs, I'm pretty much out of the picture for this book until the publisher decides that a major revision needs to occur which could set the pub date back if the author doesn't comply right away.
  9. Advocate, Advisor, Confidante - When authors panic, agents provide the valium. We talk them off the ledge and remind them that they're about to see their book published for the first time and yes, everything will be fine. We encourage them when they feel sales are not going to be what they expected, we provide a shoulder to cry on when a favorite scene is cut for length and pimp the hell out of them on Twitter, Facebook, and every social networking site we can get our little hands on.
THEN...
We start all over again! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busy Days Keep Me Busy

I've been meaning to make a real post for several days and just haven't had a chance to breathe long enough to sit down and put my thoughts on screen. Even as I take a minute to write this entry, I'm thinking of a million things I have yet to do and need to do including cleaning my house! LOL

Let's see... I guess I can start with the business!

  1. I'm going to the Romantic Times Book Lover's Convention in Columbus, OH at the end of the month and everything has just fallen into place for it in a way that I couldn't even DREAM of! I will be taking appointments to talk with authors while I'm there. Have to get my schedule when I arrive for those. Though, if you looked at all of the events I want to go to, you'd think I was crazy! LOL I was able to get airfare, roundtrip, non-stop for $117 (total). Car rental came out to $159 for the week and Lori Toland was able to help me get a hotel (and not just any hotel... but the Crowne Plaza!) 20 minutes away for $57/night! I'm telling you, everything's just fallen into place. So much so, that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?
  2. I've been shopping a manuscript around and we now have 2 bites from 2 pubs we're very excited about. Just waiting to hear on another pub that's asked to take a look at it and then it's a matter of signing contracts and my client will be on her way to being a published author! Pretty cool!!
  3. I've also received a few queries last week, of which, I've accepted two: Rebecca Leigh and Jamaica Layne (who also writes under Jay Hughes) both from Ravenous Romance. I'm excited about what they've written and I'm pitching their manuscripts this week.
And now... time to crawl into bed with a good eBook and the hubster! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Love Publishing Vid

Punk Writer Kid created this vid and it's just made of awesome so... without ado... and featuring cameos by Colleen Lindsay, Nathan Bransford, Kathleen Ortiz, Mandy Hubbard and books by YA authors like Pam Bachorz I give you...



Totally awesome!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Patience Please

My sister used to work at Sears when she was in High School and worked in the stock rooms managing the inventory. Whenever she had to enter information into the computer, a dialogue box would pop up saying, "Patience Please". She hated this dialogue box and it became the running joke around the house that waiting was definitely not a virtue of hers.

I've never been a very patient person either, so I completely understood her frustration (while snickering because if you can't laugh at your sister's frustrations who can you laugh at, right?). I was better at hiding my impatience but inside, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive or my birthday party to begin would drive me batty!

I suppose as I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate the anticipation of a good thing. Waiting for approval letters from pubs has to be one of the most frustrating times for anyone. For new authors, doubly so. You've birthed this amazing manuscript... sweat, blood and tears shed... and then presented it to the world for public scrutiny. You've sent it to agents, publishers, friends, neighbors, anyone who can validate your work by telling you how wonderful it is and then... and then you wait. They have to read it, of course and that takes time. Finally, the approval letters arrive (after several rejections because what would life be without a little disappointment, right?) and you're on cloud nine million!

Then the waiting continues!

Now, it's time to negotiate contracts. Wait for responses from agents and editors on revisions, advance and royalties information and, if you're one author... a change in penname! Being a published author is really... a waiting game. But you're not alone in that waiting room when you have an agent with you. We're sitting there, tapping our fingers and bouncing our knees waiting to be called back into the room with you... we're just a little better about hiding our impatience. ;)