Monday, December 31, 2012

Blog Challenge #15: 10 Things I've learned about being the ePub agent in 2012

Photo by Saritza Hernandez
If I could go back in time and leave myself a note about becoming a literary agent, what would I tell myself? What have I really learned about being an ePub Agent, the first in the industry and one of the first to approach digitally-pubbed authors with an opportunity to have a partner in their career?

I suppose the best way to do so is to do a Top Ten list. So here are the top ten things I learned about being an ePub Agent in 2012.

1. Go with your instincts and don't let your authors deviate you from them. Your gut's never steered you wrong.

2. Authors need guidance as well as a partner in business. Be ready to not just talk them down but to lift them up as well.

3. Business and friendship don't always mesh. Be ready to part ways with one if your friend is also your client.

4. Digital publishers have authors who are sometimes blindly loyal to them. Warn your clients about this but understand that sometimes it's better to just let them learn the hard way.

5. It's ok to not represent every book your client writes and be ok expressing that to them. Let them decide what they want to do with it and be encouraging of their choice either way.

6. Take breaks from the business every quarter and recharge your batteries. It can be a weekend or a week but make it a time you spend doing things you enjoy like spending time with your friends and family, reading a guilty pleasure book or just getting away from it all by unplugging.

7. Don't compare one client to another. While some may have similar writing styles and genres they are individuals and their needs and goals are very different. Be ready to work with each client's needs individually.

8. You're not always going to be the bearer of good news and at times, you may even be painted as the enemy to your client by those in their circle for one reason or another. Grow a pair, develop that thick skin and be ready to remind your client about their goals and career path and prepare to walk away from that client if necessary.

9. Don't bad mouth anyone in this industry. People may talk shit about you or your industry but they shoot themselves in the foot when they do that. If you can't do business with people without disparaging comments about them why do business with them in the first place?

10. This is the most exciting and scary business to be in and an experience I wouldn't trade for the world. Have fun! The day you don't find it fun and rewarding, walk away and do what brings you joy. Life is too short not to!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Guest Post: Awesome U.S. Gay Movies

Hello, fair readers! And thanks, Sary, for having me on the blog today.

For those of you who don’t know—I write books. Romance books about gay men. As such, I watch a lot of gay movies, and gay-themed television shows.

So: Welcome to my Gay Movie Review blog tour! The tour calendar is at the end of the post, so you can follow along to other stops. As with most blog tours, there’s a prize involved. A randomly selected commenter will win a DVD of my favorite gay movie I’ve watched this year, Weekend, and a free book from my backlist.

On with the blog… In the wide world of gay cinema, I’ve watched more from other countries than I have from the U.S. I’m not sure why, but U.S. gay movies often feel self-consciously artsy to me. However, there are a few U.S. gay films that I’ve sincerely loved. Here they are…

#1: Kiss Me Guido

First off, I have to admit, Kiss Me Guido is old. It’s so old that I rented it from the small, indie video store walking distance from my apartment when I was in my twenties. Released all the way back in 1997, Kiss Me Guido was the first gay film I ever saw, and stayed my favorite for ages.

Truth be told, Kiss Me Guido is less a film about gay men and more a film about New Yorkers, but that’s fine. It’s hilarious. Maybe you need to be from New York to truly enjoy it, but I don’t think so. I think everyone can appreciate the beauty that is Kiss Me Guido.

Here’s the set up: Frankie is a young Italian-American man living in the Bronx with his family. He dreams of being an actor, and when his asshole older brother (played by Anthony DeSando) hooks up with Frankie’s girlfriend, Frankie decides to move to The City (aka Manhattan.)

He answers a want ad in the paper (remember those?!) for a roommate in an apartment in Little Italy. Of course, Frankie isn’t realizing that Little Italy butts up against the very gay West Greenwich Village.

Through a series of events, Frankie ends up living with a gay actor named Warren and starring in a play directed by Warren’s ex-boyfriend, Dakota. Frankie pretends to be gay, and to be Warren’s boyfriend. Warren has to learn to live with a “guido”.

Cultures collide as the macho culture of Italian-American Bronx clashes with gay village life.

It. Is. Awesome.

In a way, Kiss Me Guido is a lot like the other 90’s movie, Chasing Amy. That was also about the clash between suburb and city, straight and gay.

Personally, I love intercultural comedies and romances. In fact, my latest work in progress is an intercultural romance between a gay, anglo college kid and a Latino firefighter. It’ll be a while before I have a release date for you lovies, but I promise, you’ll enjoy it!

Great performances in Kiss Me Guido included the absolutely perfect casting of Anthony DeSando as Frankie’s brother Pino, and Craig Chester as Warren’s best friend Terry. (Craig Chester is probably best known for his role in Adam and Steve.) But everyone in the film was great. I laugh every time I watch it.

 Check out the trailer for Kiss Me Guido Here:

#2: Latter Days

Latter Days was made only five years after Kiss Me Guido, but it doesn’t have that same “old movie” feel. Maybe its production value was higher, or maybe moviemaking techniques leapt forward between those years, but Latter Days doesn’t have that grainy, old-skool-video feel to it, and it certainly doesn’t suffer from the sound quality issues of Kiss Me Guido. (Kiss Me Guido was filmed outside in parts. In New York City. It sounds like someone just hung the microphone over the actors’ heads and you can barely hear them talking over the background noise.)

Regardless, Latter Days is one of those movies everyone seems to love. It was written and directed by C. Jay Cox, the same screenwriter who wrote Sweet Home Alabama, and it shares some of the same elements: fish out of water, big city versus small town…

The plot is simple: young, promiscuous gay man falls in love with a Mormon missionary. Honestly, it could be the set up for a M/M romance. It’s a reformed-rake story, a coming-out story, and a love story.

Now, here’s the thing. Yes, I enjoyed the movie. BUT, there were a couple problems that nagged me. First off, Christian (played by Wes Ramsey) was supposed to be a self-absorbed gym rat, but I didn’t really see that, maybe because we didn’t see him go to the gym. I’m pretty sure this is because they only had the money for a few sets. Still, it felt like telling instead of showing. I wanted to see him working out and being more obsessed with his appearance.

My second issue was that Elder Aaron Davis, the missionary (played by Steve Sandvoss) went home to Utah for a big section of the movie. Now, I’m not sure how they could have avoided this, but in romance novels I hate it when the main characters spend too much time apart. It especially feels like a cop-out when the main characters separate and do nothing but soul searching from the black moment to the plot resolution.

That’s what happened here. Too much time apart.

Still, the premise was great, there were some great lines, and more than anything, there was amazing chemistry between the two main characters. Christian and Aaron sizzled off the screen. They were totally believable as a couple.

Christian and Aaron were both adorable and sexy, and for that reason alone, you should watch Latter Days. It won a few awards, including one at L.A. Outfest. Check out the trailer here, and see what you


This ends today’s installment of the Daisy Harris Gay Movie Review Blog Tour. Come by my blog next Tuesday, where I’ll be discussing the Eating Out Franchise, part 2: The Rise of Chris Salvatore! 

Tour schedule:

 Tuesday, November 27 — Awesome Gay Foreign Films, Volume 1 (Cup o Porn)

Thursday, November 29 — Good But Depressing Gay Foreign Films (Alyssa Linn Palmer)

Tuesday, December 4 — Soccer-Themed Gay Movies (Cup o Porn)

Thursday, December 6 — Totally-a-M/M-Romance-Plotline Gay Films (Joyfully Jay) 

Tuesday, December 11 — So Bad, They’re Good Gay Films (Cup o Porn)

Thursday, December 13 — Awesome Foreign Gay Films, Volume 2 (Jessica Freely) 

Tuesday, December 18 — Eating Out franchise, pre Chris Salvatore (Daisy Harris) 

Friday, December 21 — Awesome U.S. Gay Films (Saritza Hernandez, agent) 

December 25 — Eating Out Franchise, post Chris Salvatore (Daisy Harris) 

Thursday, December 27 — Gay Adoption Films (Fiction with Friction)

Saturday, December 29 — Gay Films for the Holidays (Tara Lain)

Birkenstock-wearing glamour girl and mother of two by immaculate conception, Daisy Harris still isn't sure if she writes erotica. Her romances start out innocently enough. However, her characters behave like complete sluts. Much to Miss Harris's dismay the sex tends to get completely out of hand.

She writes about fantastical creatures and about young men getting their freak on, and she's never missed an episode of The Walking Dead. Want to learn more about new releases, general news and my latest inappropriate boy band crush? Sign up for my newsletter!

Or visit my website:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Jennie Jarvis to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Photo Courtesy: J.L. Jarvis

Ever read a manuscript that doesn't just make you want to re-read it immediately, it makes you want to go and learn everything you can about the author so you can fangirl them for all eternity? Yeah… that's exactly what Jennie Jarvis' BOOK OF MELANIE did for me. I don't know if it's the epic fantasy journey we take with Melanie, the rich world-building that immerses you right from the start or the fact that I could see this book give GAME OF THRONES and THE HUNGER GAMES a run for their money but I totally fell in love with both the author and the manuscript. 

She was being courted by several agents and I was ecstatic when she emailed me this morning to say she'd picked me. She likes me! She really, really likes me! :)

Join me in welcoming Jennie Jarvis to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Jenny Jarvis has worked in the film and television industry in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and New York City before returning to her home state of Florida. Since moving back to Florida, Jennie has successfully built and coordinated screenwriting competitions as well as served as a judge for film and theater competitions. While working in Beverly Hills, she served as a script analyst, producing coverage for producers, investors, actors and writers. She has operated as a freelance script consultant (“script doctor”) for over ten years working with clients around the world. Through her independent production company, Astorax Productions, she has written and directed a number of short narrative and documentary films. 
As a literary writer, Ms. Jarvis has regularly contributed to the blog since its inception and has won multiple awards for her writing over the years. While a lot of her most well known writing is academic writing, she has won awards for essays, poetry and short fiction. She has recently completed her first novel, The Book of Melanie, for which she and her agent are diligently seeking publication. She is represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Agency. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog Challenge #14: Welcome to my workday

Well, it's that time again. The holidays are coming upon us and end-of-year planning is happening all around yet it sometimes feels like I have to remind folks agents are people too. I was reading Andrew Zach's Annual Reminder that Agents are People, too and while I was nodding along with the post, I received several emails from folks who queried me a few months ago asking for status on their queries. They were well within the allotted timeframe to send a status request so I wasn't bothered by the emails but it suddenly hit me how much I have to get done at the end of this year and how much that's delayed my response time.

So, I wanted to give you a glimpse into my regular "workday". I put the word in quotes because so much of my day is a workday that it's generally a full 18-21-hour day.

My day starts at 5:30 AM where I get the kids up, start breakfast and get the medicine regimen started. Two of my three teens are on daily prescriptions so breakfast is a requirement at my house or I can never be sure they've taken their meds on time. Once their buses take off (one of them has a bus stop in front of the house while the other two have to walk out to the front of the neighborhood), I finish eating my breakfast while reading my Twitter/Facebook feeds.

I'll hop in the shower around 7:30 AM or after 8:30 AM if hubby hasn't beaten me to it then start my day-job. I get a full 7.5 hours at the day-job and will take advantage at lunch and breaks to either review a manuscript from a client or reply to emails from clients and colleagues. The Keurig gets a great workout during my heavy conference call days (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) as I tend to drink 4-6 cups in this 7.5-hour period.

Around 4 PM, I'll start "transitioning" from my day-job to the agency work if I don't have to pick up the teens from extra-curricular activities at school (one is in Band, another in ROTC). Transition from one job to the other requires switching laptops and going through email. I start from the bottom up so I can reply to emails sitting in my inbox the longest. The past few weeks though, I've had to really weave both jobs together as we prepare to move into our new place this week.

Once dinner is done and the kids are doing their homework, I'll sit back down at my laptop to read manuscripts from clients. This takes me longer than usual because I'm being interrupted every few minutes with a question from a teenager about their homework or one of the little ones staying with us will decide to have a conversation with me at this time. We have my sister-in-law with her 3-year-old and 8-year-old girls staying with us so you can imagine how quiet my house is at any given time. Did I mention how glad I am to be moving this week?

If the teens don't have more than a few classes' worth of homework, while they're taking their showers at 9 PM, I'm moving to my room to do some "real" work. Headphones in, I tackle manuscript revisions, email replies, royalty summaries (I still handle the monthly royalty payments for former clients with L. Perkins). Two days out of the week, I sit down and focus only on pitch-writing. It takes me two days to do this because I read manuscripts on my iPad while sitting in the car waiting for the kids, during breaks, any chance I get. I then transfer those notes to a Word document for my pitch and, as you know, your first draft is never the best one so it generally takes me 3-4 revisions before I'm happy with a pitch package.

Weekends are my favorite agency workdays because I can spend all day working... if the hubby and kids have not made plans for us. Did I mention my house is a pigsty? Ok, so it's not THAT bad but yeah, there's little to no time to clean and I'm always jealous of those families who can afford to hire a cleaning service. My teens do the bare minimum until I start to bark at them to do some REAL cleaning. My car has not been washed or detailed in months. My oven looks horrific and though I pin great DIY ideas to get it clean, I just can't find the time to actually do it. Want to get me something for Christmas? Send me a cleaning service, a lawn service or mobile car wash-detailing service.

My family doesn't really get to see me even though they see me every day. I'm just not "here" when I'm working and... I'm working all of the time. So when I say it takes me 8-10 weeks to reply to your query, please understand I'm not being facetious. My clients come first and many of them have been waiting a while to hear back from me on their manuscripts which we both need to get out there to make us money.

So when you see us close to submissions, please know we're not doing it on a whim. We're really looking out for our clients and our families as we attempt to maintain our sanity. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Announcement: Welcome J. Leigh Bailey to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Photo courtesy of J. Leigh Bailey
I'm super excited to announce the signing of J. Leigh Bailey (Jenni) whose LGBT YA Romance novel, GUYLINER had me up all night reading and contacting her at 3 o'clock in the morning via email to offer representation. She had another agent courting her and I was sweating it out hoping she'd pick me for a few days before she finally said "yes".

J. Leigh Bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of... well, everything...but some habits aren't worth breaking. She's been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She's a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

She wrote her first story at seven, which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fan-fiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. She was quite put out to be told, years later, that the character's name was actually Lex. Her second masterpiece should have been a best-seller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes Young Adult LGBT Romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance.

Welcome Jenni! Looking forward to a long and prosperous career together!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Closing to Submissions until 2013

In order to get caught up on queries and a rather large "to be read" pile of great manuscripts, I'm glad to announce our agency will be closing to submissions starting November 22, 2012 through January 2, 2013.

If you have submitted a query prior to November 22, it will be considered and you'll receive a response from me before we re-open the submission queue. Be sure to check my submission guidelines for details on how to submit your work and what I'm currently shopping for.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Jennifer Kacey to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Photo courtesy of
Jennifer Kacey
Jennifer Kacey is a wife, mother and business owner in Texas with very long black hair and a penchant for high heels and pretty outrageous toe nail polish. She started reading romance books back in college and liked it so-so then found erotica and "it felt like coming home". Finding a genre that catered to the dark, naughty side was an amazing revelation and she's had character hounding her to tell their stories ever since!

A morning person who doesn't drink caffeine, Jennifer is a glass half-full kind of girl. She's bad at all sports ending in "ball" and enjoys the hot weather months where she can drink in the sun. She refuses to use a flat sheet to sleep, loves perfume but only one particular type and plans to own flip-flops in every color of the rainbow before she dies.

"On a daily basis I am overwhelmed by the good fortune that is my life, and vowed years ago never to take it for granted." — Jennifer Kacey

Jennifer's debut novel, Together in Cyn is a delicious BDSM erotic romance featuring a menage-a-trois that is sure to keep readers breathless and slightly… warm!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blog Challenge #13: Why Gay Romance?

My kids during gender-swap day at school
I'm an advocate of love. A champion for its cause. A passionate believer in the happily ever after. Gender has never played a factor in how I perceive love and if my children are anything to go by, they feel the same way. Love is love.

If you've followed my blog or read through the posts (welcome new readers) you've undoubtedly noticed that I represent a lot of GLBTQ romance. These "Gay Romance" authors have works in various subgenres, featuring a myriad of gender-pairings but at the core of each of their books is love. It's all about the love!

When I'm passionate about something, everyone knows about it. Ask any of my clients and they'll tell you how passionate I can be when discussing any of their works, their careers, my family, coffee, the publishing industry and Harry Potter. Get me talking about any of these topics and you'll not hear an intake of breath for several minutes. But I don't just talk about my causes, I champion them and each of my clients is a cause I fervently fight for on a daily basis. I advocate their work, I champion their successes and I'm passionate when I pitch their work to publishers and the media.

Rainbow Flag courtesy of
Creative Commons
One of the causes I advocate the most is the mainstreaming of "Gay Romance". Why? Because it's not a subgenre to be shelved in the Gay/Lesbian section of your bookstore. It's a love story between two (or more people) just like all of the other romance books shelved in the romance category. It's not shameful or perverted to see two men embrace passionately on a romance cover. It's not ugly to see a transgendered model on the cover of a romance novel. Our love stories are not, and should not, be categorized by our gender or that of our partner's any more than the color of our skin is.

I champion the love because if we were more tolerant about love and less complacent about hate, perhaps the current political landscape (in the US) could be better. The topics that would matter in this election would not be based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race. It's all about the love, man!

It's about love. It's why I'm passionate about it. Why I advocate for it. Why I champion it and why I thirst for more of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Challenge #12: Conference Etiquette

I'm at the Florida Writers Conference in Lake Mary, Florida this weekend and having a great time talking to prospective clients, other industry professionals and the amazing staff and faculty of the FWA. While I'm here, a few of my clients are attending GayRomLit in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and getting up to all kinds of fun shenanigans if the FB pictures are anything to go by). Before they attend conferences, my clients usually ask me what should they be doing (especially if I'm not attending and there are pitch appointments available) so I thought it would make for a good blog post.

If you're an unagented author at a writer's conference, your focus should be to pitch your work to as many agents and editors as you can. Get your work and your face in front of these amazing individuals who will eventually fight each other for the privilege to say they signed you. If you're already represented however, what are you supposed to do?

  1. Talk to editors and agents about your work in casual conversation. When sitting at dinner or during any of the Meet and Greet events, approach the editor your agent is courting with your work and introduce yourself. You don't need to pitch your work, you simply want to garner interest and put a face to the pitch the agent has sent them. Mention anything you're working on and if they seem interested let them know you'll let your agent know they'd like to take a look at the project. Ask them for their business card and give them one of your own.
  2. When you get back to your room that night, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to speak to them that day and to e-introduce your agent. Make sure to cc your agent in the communication and mention that you spoke with them about your upcoming project and your agent will be following up with them.
  3. Network with other authors and ask them about their experience with the publishers you're interested in working with. If you hear too many negative experiences at one particular publisher, you know to avoid them and let your agent know. Make that discussion part of your career planning talk.
  4. Talk with readers and at book signing events, let them fangirl you. Feel free to talk about your upcoming projects or even works you're thinking about (especially if they're sequels to successful books) and start building the book buzz.
  5. Relax and schedule time during the day to take a nap, hydrate and spend some time away from the masses. You need to recharge your batteries and keep yourself as healthy as possible. While "Con-crud" is likely to set in when you leave, having moments of rest and keeping yourself hydrated go a long way toward keeping those nasty germs from settling in your system.
Conferences can be a great networking opportunity if you know how to do it. Mingle, mingle, mingle. If you're an introvert (and many authors are) think about attending your first conference with a close friend. Having a friendly face around while you're doing these scary things can help you feel more at ease.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blog Challenge #11: The Grinchlike Agent?

My son David is a huge fan of Jim Carrey's How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie. When it's on, we watch it on TV even though we own the DVD and one year when he was 9 or 10, if I could've managed it, he would have gone as the Grinch for Halloween. Now, I'm just a fan of Christmas music.

Most of my friends and colleagues shriek when they hear me playing Christmas music before Halloween but I just love the way the music makes me feel. I'm always smiling when listening to it and whether it's a Carol or a Song, it always makes brings me great joy.

I'm about to dive into my query inbox and no... I'm not planning to reply in Grinch fashion but actually giggled when I came across the Grinch YouTube vids. I think authors sometimes see us as Grinch-like with our book of queries open saying, hate, hate, hate, double hate, loathe entirely!

It's not always like that! ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Juliann Rich to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Reading Juliann Rich's CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE manuscript took me back to those awkward teenage years at Bible camp where you really come into your own and start to understand more about yourself and your religious beliefs than ever before. I felt such a connection to her characters that I was eager to offer representation but wanted to get a feel for the author first. Would we click? Would she be open to revision and career planning? Does she have other books planned or started? After the first 10 minutes of our phone conversation I knew she would be an asset to the agency's stable of authors and I was sure I had to be the one to get her Gay YA manuscript out to the world. Looking forward to working with Juliann. Welcome to the Corvisiero Literary Agency, Juliann!

Photo courtesy: Juliann Rich

If you ask Juliann Rich about her childhood in Minnesota, she is quick to tell you that she grew up as close to Heaven on Earth as possible! After all, with a candy store three houses away and a library right across the street, what more could any child want? If you ask Juliann’s mother about her childhood she will share a tidbit or two: Juliann was a wanderer, prone to disappearing; however, she could always be found in the children’s section of the library ~ nose deep in a good book and quite often a bag of goodies! 

Juliann pursued her love of the story in college, both in her studies of English Literature and Creative Writing. She is a voracious reader drawn to stories that break her open to new ways of looking at the “truths” that are so often taken for granted. It is not surprising this passion has found its way into Juliann’s writing. 
As the mother of a grown son who is out and proud and as the daughter of evangelical Christian parents, Juliann has found herself smack dab in the middle of one of the most controversial topics to challenge our society and our churches today. 

Her debut novel, Caught in the Crossfire, follows the lives of two boys who meet and fall in love at a Bible Camp . . . and find themselves questioning every truth they’ve ever believed. 

Juliann lives in Southern Minnesota with her husband, and two adorable but incredibly naughty dachshunds. She enjoys hiking and canoeing the many lakes in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley, though she always feels the tug of the North Shore where Lake Superior holds her heart. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Elia Winters to Corvisiero Literary Agency

I'm always excited when I find a great manuscript in my query pile and ecstatic when said author chooses me to represent their work. Such is the case with my new erotica author, Elia Winters whose BDSM erotic romance manuscript PURELY PROFESSIONAL caught my eye and steamed up my iPad screen! I have a thing for sexy Dom college professors teaching strong professional women how to give and gain pleasure in sensual submission!

Photo Courtesy: Elia Winters
Elia Winters has always been a New England girl. Although she spent much of her childhood in Florida, she returned to her home state of Massachusetts as a teenager and has remained in New England ever since. She was blessed with an artsy, creative, somewhat quirky family that nurtured her eccentricities and helped shape her into the sassy woman she is today.

Elia holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a  bottomless well of geekiness; in her spare time, she is equally likely to be found skiing, camping, playing tabletop games, or watching Doctor Who. 

A writer all her life, Elia likes to dabble in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. She loves BDSM erotica and men who can use semicolons.

Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets. You can find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blog Challenge #10: Customer Service and Customer Loyalty

Customer Loyalty: The fact that people choose to use a particular shop or buy one particular product, rather than use other shops or buy products made by other companies. Source: The Longman Business English Dictionary
Photo credit: The Consumerist

Customer service is as much about customer loyalty as it is about having a happy customer. A happy customer is a repeat customer and repeat business is what can make the difference in the bottom line for any business. Customers are not just the people walking into your storefront to buy your book, eat your food, buy your product. Customers are also consumers and this definition encompasses everyone from the patron to the store clerk.

Successful businesses know the biggest part of good customer service is dependent upon a happy workforce. While a good salary is important to keep employees, many remain with their employers simply because they feel loyal to their employer. Why? Because their employer has gone out of their way to earn their loyalty. Perks, freebies, gifts, outings, all go a long way toward improving the employer's overall approval rating with their employees. That's why many employers now include things like free coffee bars, free exercise programs, telecommuting options and even simple things like free water bottles and sun visors to keep their employees happy.

customer (n): A person, company, or other entity which buys goods and services produced by another person, company, or other entity. 
consumer (n): An individual who buys products or services for personal use and not for manufacture or resale. A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at the store, and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements. Any time someone goes to a store and purchases a toy, shirt, beverage, or anything else, they are making that decision as a consumer.

Photo credit: Oneras
Employees are not dumb and we know these perks are just a way to "appease" us when salary hikes don't happen but sometimes, it's those little things that make the difference for an employee thinking of going elsewhere. As I celebrate ten years with my employer, I realize that many of my coworkers (those who have survived the many lay-offs in the publishing industry) have been with the company as long as I have or longer. In fact, we have several employees who are going on their 40th year with our company. They started working in the mailroom as 18-year-olds and since they're not ready for retirement, continue to work in our industry and remain loyal to the company they've served in one capacity or another for four decades.

Many are also very loyal to the companies they do business with. One of my coworkers (who has asked to remain anonymous) has been with the same bank for 40 years. In our economy, with banks gobbling up one another over the past few decades, he's never thought of going elsewhere. He says he's not always happy with his bank but "they've gone above and beyond for me a few times and you reward that dedication to customer service with customer loyalty." It made me think about customer loyalty and how it affects me and my family. My parents, I think, are the quintessential loyal customers. 

We were T-Mobile customers for more than 20 years before switching to Sprint. We were with them when they were Aerial, then Voicestream before becoming T-Mobile. Yeah, that far back. When we would call customer service for anything and they pulled up or account and saw how long we'd been with them, they always commented and thanked us for being loyal customers. My mom stayed with T-Mobile even when my father decided to try out Sprint 10 years ago because she said "they've always been good to us." A few times, when our minutes went over for one reason or another, they did their best to work with us and even made changes to our plan mid-contract just to keep us. Then their ownership changed, company policies changed and customer service went downhill pretty quickly. So much so, my Mom actually asked me to look for another company to move our family plan. 20 years with T-Mobile, 5 phones in one plan and more than 20 phones among the family who we told to make the move with us. We moved to Sprint and while their customer service is not stellar, we feel ok there. Of course, when anything goes wrong, she holds me accountable and responsible for anything Sprint does that she doesn't like and that's very parallel to my role as an agent but that's a story for another blog post.

Your readers are consumers and based on the definition above, their buying decisions are influenced by marketing. But so is your decision, as an author, to choose one publisher, editor, agent over another. You are a consumer as well and you choose one opportunity over another based on their "sales pitch" or marketing. Who's selling you the best opportunity?

Photo credit: andreaarden
Publishers need to remember the concept of Consumer Loyalty when working with their authors. A fat advance goes a long way toward making the author happy in the beginning of the relationship but knowing that their publisher wants to do everything in their power to keep their authors cranking out work with them helps authors stay with them longer. Especially the smaller presses whose lists are growing. Providing authors with small perks like free books for charity events where the author will attend, providing branding materials at reader conferences to show pride in having the author among their stable of authors, even small things like sending care packages when an author suffers a loss, is in the hospital, has a birthday or life-changing event go a long way toward retaining that author's work and getting future works as well.

Trading Consumer Loyalty for Customer Loyalty. A lot of small digital presses like to be both bookstore and publisher and have established a "following" at their websites with customers who come and buy books to support their favorite authors knowing authors make a higher royalty rate when their books are purchased via the publisher's bookstore. But the number of customers there are far less than those at the major bookstores. But the truth is, customers shop at the bookstore, not at the publishing house. I have yet to stop in at Random House and shop in their lobby for my favorite books. If your publisher is delaying sales via a wider distribution channel, is it in their best interest or yours?

"But, they've been so good to me." I hear this all of the time when talking to authors "they've been so good to me, I'd like to send it there" and/or "my editor is awesome and I know the publisher has some issues but I want to keep working with him/her". First of all, it's not up to just you to decide where we submit the work. We're a team now and while it's important to know where you feel comfortable having your work, my job is to make sure I get you the best deal for your talent. You are the product AND consumer. If you're going to put another work with that publisher, it should be because you're doing well there and feel like it's the best place for you and your works. Second, your editor can leave tomorrow and your books are stuck at a publisher you weren't exactly "happy with" in the first place so what happens then? Are you willing to be stuck in a miserable relationship with a publisher until your rights revert back to you (if ever)?

Photo credit: Jason Grote
Your publisher should do what they need to do to ensure they keep getting your product to exploit and while a higher royalty rate, or a fatter advance check may seem like they care, ask yourself why are they offering me so much? Is it because they know I'm an investment that will yield a profit within the term of the contract I've signed with them (this is the right reason) or is it because it's easier to put the blame on you when your book doesn't sell well, or your advance doesn't earn out with the bare minimum (if that) of the marketing and publicity work they've done on your behalf?

Remember, this is a business and the publisher is going to do what they need to do to make money. Your loyalty may not be their priority… but should it be?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog Challenge #9: Dealing with Self-Doubt

I'm sure we have all reached a point in our lives where everything comes into question. Am I good enough? Am I worth it? Do I deserve it? What if I fail again?

Writers deal with self-doubt all of the time and I know because I get those calls from clients when they reach the finish line, when all the words have been written and the book has really taken shape where the niggling feeling of "this is not my best work" comes into play. All it takes is one critique partner to not enthusiastically react to the work the way the author had hoped to send them into a corner, knees drawn up wondering if they should ever write another word.

Writers are not the only ones. I can't speak for other agents when I say this but I can assure you that there are many days where I wonder if I'm good enough. Can I do this? Can I really live off 15%? Can I sell this manuscript to New York? Can I get my client what they deserve? Can I... can I... can I?

My mantra on a post-it note
Truth is, I know I can. I KNOW I can do anything I set my mind to. It's written on a post-it note on my laptop. It's part of what I tell myself every morning while I "center" myself. "I can do this! I can be a better me than I was yesterday. I can do anything I have complete control over. I can. I can. I can." Problem is that self-doubt likes to creep in when circumstances beyond my control force me to change direction abruptly and while I've always prided myself in being adept at maneuvering that treacherous road in the past, I have come to understand that as I get older, it's more difficult to veer off quickly. Reflexes are not what they used to be and emotional reflexes even less so. Where I used to be able to shake off that feeling of uncertainty, now it festers for a bit as I look for a way to turn myself around.

I think the most frustrating part of self-doubt, at least for me, is that little voice in the background saying, "are you kidding me?" See, that little voice is usually broadcasting loud and clear when I'm on my "good" days about how bad-ass I am. There's never a sense of doubt when that little voice gets to take over the mic, center stage and remind everyone of what I'm able to do. It's the voice I allow front and center when I'm talking with clients, editors, coworkers, family and since it never really leaves it's frustrating to know the voice is there and I just can't hear it as loudly as I need to when I need it most.

When my clients are going through these moments of self-doubt and need someone to "talk 'em off the ledge" they call me. I don't always stroke egos but I soothe their minds and remind them of how good they are. We talk for a little while (or sometimes a long while) and I don't hang up until I know they're feeling well enough to get back to their computers and finish the book. I'm lucky to have a husband who is my "talk me down" guy. He doesn't stroke my ego either, just helps me remember who I am. Sometimes that's all we need. Someone to remind us of what we are and what we can do.


How do you deal with self-doubt? How do you combat it?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Belinda McBride to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Please join me in welcoming speculative fiction writer, Belinda McBride to the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Belle Starr
That's right! We've signed another client and I'm not afraid to say, I'm slightly smitten with this one. Belinda McBride can best be described as incredibly diverse with a skill to make you forget you're reading a book when immersing yourself in her writing. I first fell in love with her writing when I picked up a copy of Belle Starr when in search for sci-fi romance with a kick-ass heroine. Of her books, it's still my favorite and I may just give her cookies to write me another one. How can you go wrong with bounty hunter shifters in space! ;)

Belinda McBride

Belinda was born in Inglewood, California, but grew up far to the north in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. While her upbringing seemed pretty normal to her, she was surrounded by a fascinating array of friends and family, including various cowboys, hippies, scoundrels and saints.

She has a degree in history and cultural anthropology, but in 2006 made the life-changing decision to quit her job as a public health paraprofessional and stay at home full time to care for her severely disabled niece. This difficult decision gave Belinda the gift of time, which allowed her to return to writing fiction, which she’d abandoned years before.

Belinda’s hobbies include soap making, dog shows, collecting gemstones, travel, and Chinese martial arts. She has two daughters, six Siberian Huskies, a half dozen betta fish, and an array of wild birds that visit the feeders in the front yard.

As an author, Belinda loves crossing genres, kicking taboos to the curb, and pulling from world mythology and folklore for inspiration. She won the Passionate Plume in science fiction for her m/m romance An Uncommon Whore, and the EPIC in paranormal romance for Blacque/Bleu.

Belinda is committed to taking her readers on an emotional journey and never forgets that at the end of the day, she’s writing about love.

You can find Belinda on the web at her website, goodreadsFacebook and Twitter.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Announcement: Welcome Tere Michaels to Corvisiero Literary Agency

Please join me in welcoming GLBT Romance author, Tere Michaels to the agency! Tere's highly successful M/M romance trilogy Faith, Love & Devotion have consistently hit the Amazon GLBT Top 20 and have been dubbed the "gateway" books to the gay romance genre. Her contemporary romance titles also include her very hot polyamory title Three to Get Ready at Ellora's Cave and Personal Shopper at MLR Press. I have been a fan of Ms. Michaels' work since I first read Faith & Fidelity in 2010 and have not-so-secretly fangirled her ever since.

You can find her at:
Welcome to the Corvisiero Literary Agency, Tere!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blog Challenge #8: Reasons for having representation in ePub market

Just a few of my clients
As the writer conferences continue to fill up and folks start to make appointments with various agents and editors to pitch their work, I hear the proverbial "you don't need an agent to query epubs" and I sigh, turn my iPad sideways and start writing a blog post about why, yes, you DO need representation.

So... here are just a few good reasons to have an agent in your corner when publishing in ePub or otherwise.
  1. Sale of sub-rights - You still need an agent to do this. Audio, foreign language, movie/TV, etc. are still managed through agents. If you're not aiming for the sale of these rights for your work, then yes, you may not need an agent. If you're aiming high, get an agent!
  2. Contract negotiation / Advice - Yes, you can do this on your own and those who understand contract law (specifically publishing contracts) can negotiate the contract without having to pay someone 15% commission but if you're not sure about what you should do, contact an agent or pay someone a consulting fee to help you review the contract and advise you on negotiation points. This is your livelihood you're talking about! Wouldn't you prefer to have someone in your corner who is as invested in your success as you are?
  3. Brainstorming - Authors helping authors brainstorm ideas can be a beautiful thing but are you getting saleable ideas or are you just hashing up ideas based on a "trend"? I use air quotes around the word trend because, in reality, what hits the shelves today was sold several years ago and while epublishing has a shorter pub schedule, what is found on their shelves today was likely purchased anywhere from 6-18 months ago.
  4. Career Planning - A huge part of my job consists of helping my clients prepare for the future. What are their financial goals, can the reach those with their current publisher? Are there opportunities in previous contracts to exploit rights not exercised by the publisher? Is there a market the publisher is not exploring? Are you happy with your career prospects at your current publisher?
No, you don't need an agent to get in the door to some of the ePublishers out there but it does make it easier for you to manage your career when you have a partner in the business as invested in your success as you. You need someone out there who is working for you. Who's out there, every day, working their fingers to the bone for you!
I am out here for you. You don't know what it's like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok? - Jerry Maguire

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Challenge #7: New Office

Cartoon by Andrew Fowler (@gumshoo)
Usually, on the first day of a new job you get to meet the HR manager who takes you on a tour of the building you'll be working in, introduces you to your immediate supervisor and welcomes you aboard with a stack of papers to fill out. Carrying your little box of personal effects to your new cubicle with your supervisor in tow, you are likely introduced to a few coworkers on the way and left to settle in before someone from IT calls to help you get your computer access and voice mail information. You're given a few minutes to store your personal belongings away before your supervisor knocks on the cubicle wall, tells you of a meeting you're both late for and walks with you to the conference room telling you a little about what to expect and apologizing for not being ready for you. At least, this has been my typical first day at new jobs in the past but it's been 10 years since I've started a new job and even longer since I've had to do so outside of a virtual environment.

Picture by Alan Levine
This week was my first week at Corvisiero Literary Agency and while it would have been interesting to walk into a new building and greet the staff with Marisa in tow, sitting in a Google Hangout with the lovely ladies of the staff was much more fun! We really have an incredible staff of interns, agent apprentices and junior agents I'm very excited to be working with.

Another very different aspect of a first week when you work in a completely virtual environment is the need to ensure your files are well organized to help you access information on the fly while in the middle of a virtual conference or simply while getting acclimated to a new work environment. Our staff is pretty awesome in this regard too. I have spreadsheets for everything and seeing that the staff already had similar ones made this first week that much easier for me!

I still have a ton of work to do to get caught up on the week but this transition has been so smooth and invigorating, I'm like a kid in a candy store... or me in a bookstore. Giddy as all get-out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Announcement: Change of Agency

Look at me being all excited!
I can finally announce that I will be a senior agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency effective Aug. 2, 2012.

The past 2 1/2 years at L. Perkins Agency have been some of my most exciting, engaging and educational years of my life. I am forever in debt to the amazing Lori Perkins and Louise Fury who took a junior agent under their wing and taught her how to fly.

It was always my goal to grow in the industry and either open my own agency or partner with another agent to work together to continue making strides in the publishing industry (both in traditional and digital publishing) and the gals at L. Perkins made sure to prepare me for it as the first ePub Agent in the industry! A title I'm extremely proud to hold and will continue to use.

I'm both excited and nervous about this new opportunity and looking forward to all of the great things coming up at Corvisiero Literary Agency. I plan to continue to represent authors and provide consultation services to those who choose to self-publish or just need a bit of direction. My passion has always been to guide and inspire others so I plan to continue to do that as a digital publishing consultant with the Literary Powerhouse Consulting Group and as a senior agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency. It's going to be a blast to be a part of the LitPow Writer's Network and am looking forward to working with the great team there.

You can see my bio, what I'm looking to represent and how to query me at the new agency here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blog Challenge #6: The Art of the Query

Courtesy of The Art of Alba
I'm always genuinely surprised at the sheer volume of queries I receive on a daily basis that I end up having to reject for simple reasons: they're not what I'm looking for.

Queries that didn't hit the mark this week include works I don't represent, weak character and/or plot development, stories with clichéd storylines/heroes and genres I'm not currently seeking works in.

While it can appear frustrating to go through so many queries in a day and not be able to request a partial or full, I do enjoy seeing the creativity displayed in the vast number of stories I get to weed through on a daily basis. Some stories, while intriguing to me, fall outside any genre I represent or appear great as story ideas but then fail to capture the essence of what the query tried to convey. For example, a new twist on the werewolf/vampire dynamic that in the query shows promise but in the sample provided proves it's just another werewolf/vampire romance. While cliché generally sells, there has to be an engaging voice attached to the story to make the reader feel like this is a completely new way to see an old classic.

The popularity of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in the erotic romance category means I get a lot of queries stating their book is something that will appeal to the readers of the best-selling "Mommy porn" book. I have to admit, the first thing to cross my mind when I see this in a query is... "not another one." I still attempt to read the query and sample pages as objectively as possible but have found myself putting some of those queries aside to re-read and decide on after a few days to give myself a bit of time to be more objective about what I'm reading.

So what are some queries that worked? The ones with strong characters in genres I represent: Romance and erotic romance at the moment. Works with a strong voice and a hook that made me want to keep reading beyond the first five pages. Storylines that while apparently clichéd, gave me an alternate point of view to consider: a Zombie Dad trying to stay together long enough to see his kids off to college, a Vampire hunter whose lover happens to be the Vampire King, etc. The possibilities are infinite.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blog Challenge #5: Chibi Sary

Courtesy of The Art of Alba
Got to work on a webcomic collab with a good friend of mine, James Alba, to create a Chibi Sary comic. She's too cute for words! Show your support by clicking on the link and "liking" his page.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blog Challenge #4: Summer Schedules are made for Keurigs

My work hours are varied at best and extremely crazy all of the time. When you work from home, it's easy to forget to take breaks, eat lunch or dinner and stop yourself from working through the night. I have calendar reminders set up to tell me to "get up and walk around" and "go eat something solid". Now that the kids are home from school, remembering to feed them helps me to remember to feed myself but it's also an opportunity to teach my kids about work responsibility.

I was up late last night going through queries when my youngest asked me if I always work "this late". It was 2 AM. I looked up from my laptop, smiled and nodded. When they're in school, my workday typically starts at 6 AM and ends around 5 PM when I start making dinner. I spend my evening with them and avoid email and social media as best I can until they're nighttime routine is complete and they're in bed. I return to work around 10 PM and make up "for lost time". During the summer, my hours are a little more relaxed. I get to sleep in until almost 8 AM! Win!

I know many of my author clients have the same type of schedule with their kids at home for the summer. Some of my clients even homeschool their kids and still manage to churn out 3-4 books per year! They're my inspiration and the reason my Keurig gets one hell of a workout!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blog Challenge #3: Reading speeds and editing

I'm not a fast reader. Even if the Staples eReader speed reading test stays I read faster than 60% of the nation, I just know I'm not a fast reader. Never have been and it has frustrated me in the past because friends would finish books hours (in some instances days) before I would and sometimes spoil the ending for me. In high school, I started "skimming" through texts I had to read just to avoid this and the bad habit stayed through college. Mind you, some of the reading material we had in college was boring as hell and skimming saved my sanity (and my eyesight) but it made it difficult and sometimes even more frustrating when someone would catch something I missed.

When I started working in the textbook publishing industry, one of my first jobs required me to do a Quality Control check (QC) on page elements. We were expressly told NOT to read text but to review the "look" of the page. Were there widows, orphans on the page? How many sentences started with the same word? How much white space was there between paragraphs? Were the headers equidistant and centered across the page as required? What about styling? Were there any "soft returns", manual line breaks or double spaces after periods? If so, we fixed those elements then sent the text back to copyedit to review for consistency, grammar, spelling and fact-checking.

Unfortunately, I had a real difficult time NOT reading the text and would catch misspellings, comma splices and poor sentence structure in the text then get verbally reprimanded for marking it up. I couldn't help it! I can't NOT read the text and if I see a wrong, I must right it! I MUST!

You can see why I got along with the editors and copy editors better than the production teams now, don't you? As time went by, I learned to QC without reading and just "skimmed" the text for anything that stood out in glaring detail. I became the nightmare of many restaurant waitress whose menus had typos and poor design. I would actually take out my green pen (red = editorial, blue = design, green = QC) and mark-up their paper menus. Now, I can't read anything without looking at the whole picture. If there are too many similar words together in a paragraph (or several sentences start the same way) I stop and mark it up on my eReader. Sad, I know but it's just a part of who I am now.

ereader test

What about you? Do you read pretty fast? Do you skim the text when you read at a quicker pace?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blog Challenge #2: Personal Reading Interests vs Professional Ones

Continuing with my Blog challenge: 100 Things Important to Me, I've decided to post today about personal reading interests versus professional reading interests. While these are usually the same (genre, pairings, etc.), my professional reading interests also include those of the editors whose lists I'm hoping to pitch my clients' works.

Here are a few personal reading interests and how these then translate to my professional ones.

My Personal Reading Interests include:
  • M/M erotic romance in all sub-genres with my tastes leaning more toward BDSM and Sci-fi. Combine the two and do it well and I'm in reading heaven!
    • Some of my favorites include Christine D'Abo's No Quarter. I also love it when books remind me of a world I'm already familiar with and enjoy. In this case, it was Star Wars with Han Solo and the Bounty Hunters. While the story is not fanfic, per se, it has a taste of the world I've always loved and explores aspects of the world I would have loved to see in a homoerotic Star Wars. 
    • Another one with this same feel (though much more pronounced and evident in its fanfic origins) is Evangeline Anderson's Slave Boy. I enjoyed Ms. D'Abo's rendition better than Ms. Anderson but it had everything to do with writing style and editing and not the story content (especially since they're so similar in origin).
    • If you're looking for something similar with M/F erotic romance, pick up Lauren Dane's Undercover.
  • Historical erotic romance NOT set in Victorian time frame. While I enjoy a good Victorian or Regency novel, I love reading books set in various eras of time.
    • One I've fallen in love with and could not put down was Marguerite Labbe and Faye Sutherland's The Gladiator's Master. This m/m historical erotic romance reminds me of the show Spartacus (which I adore) and still remains its own story with a powerful cast and delicious imagery. While the show is more bloody, this book is truly much more erotic. It's not your typical historical romance and you really learn about the era as you learn about the characters and their world. The prose and dialogue in this book is so poetic, you feel enlightened just by reading it! :)
    • Along the same lines of a non-Regency historical romance is Liz Fischera's Captive Spirit whose incredible tale of a Native American woman's quest to return to her people after being captured by the "white man" in 16th Century America remains one of my all-time favorite reads. Yes, it's listed as romance by the publisher and it does have a happily ever after but the "meat" of the story is really Aiyana's plight to achieve her freedom.
  • Vampire and werewolf books. As saturated as these topics seem to be in the publishing industry, they're still selling and likely because of people like me who really enjoy a good vampire book.
    • I'm a bit of a vampire and werewolf snob and not ashamed to admit it. I like to read vampire books that are bloody (and can be erotic) and enjoy books that push the envelope and my level of comfort. One of those came as a surprise to me as it was a Young Adult horror book in the Vampire's Assistant series by Darren Shan: The Vampire Prince. These books had me reading the entire 12-book series in a week and it had a lot to do with the fact the vampires in this book are not your typical "beautiful" Anne Rice vampires (which I adore as well). Their battle with the Vampinistas is truly an epic saga and in this middle book of the series, you're taken on an emotional rollercoaster!
    • As far as werewolf stories go, the one I keep going back to and enjoying immensely is J.L. Langley's Without Reservations from her With or Without series. I love the world-building in this series and the way we fall in love with each character and pairing then get their stories in other books. They're unapologetic about their wolf nature without beating me over the head about their wolfish tastes. It's a great series and one I have on auto-buy as soon as they are available for pre-order.
My Professional Reading Interests include:
  • M/M Erotic Romance in all sub-genres (see the pattern here?) but while I love Sci-fi and will gravitate toward those for my personal reading, these are not as easy to place. Sci-fi just doesn't sell in the romance genre as quickly as contemporary romance. It has a lot to do with where the readers are when it comes to Sci-fi and usually, they're not sitting in romance forums or seeking for romance titles. The truth is, romance is still a predominately female readership world and most Sci-fi readers are male. Most... not all. What IS selling in M/M Erotic Romance (and now M/F thanks to Shades of Grey is BDSM).
    • One of the books I was able to sell and it has been selling like hotcakes is Heidi Cullinan's Nowhere Ranch. My personal opinion on why it sells so well is biased as I think it's a fantastically-written book but it likely has a lot to do with the fact that Heidi doesn't hold anything back from the reader. Would I have picked up this book to read if I'd never read anything by her before? Maybe. The cover alone would have intrigued me to at least peruse the first few pages but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that after reading that sample, I would have purchased the book outright. I had such a visceral reaction to this book that I had to email Heidi and tell her I was in tears and loved this book so damn much I had to have it.
    • In the M/F and M/M/F world (though these camps usually don't like to play together), I sold Kele Moon's Beyond Eden whose menage tale of BDSM exploration is not only dark and sensual but filled with symbolism and controlled chaos. You root for the underdog in this book (Paul and Eve) while loving how much you hate the dark and punishing Dom (Danny). It was not a difficult sale to the publisher when the editor fell in love with Kele's "voice" which I knew would be the case the minute I read the manuscript.
  • Historical Romance is still selling to publishers as their readership continues to make their buying power known and while I may prefer to pick up a book set in 16th Century middle America, it may not sell as well with some romance publishers as it would with others. Regency and Victorian continue to make strides in this genre.
    • An example of one such great sale was Alex Beecroft's By Honor Betrayed set in the 16th century and featuring (as is her brand) life on the seas. She's known for her "Age of Sails" tales and I knew this book would easily find a home. Of course, she came to me with an offer to read already on the table so this sale was not a difficult one but after reading the manuscript prior to pitching it, I knew it would get picked up quickly! Alex has a way of immersing you in her tales that if you've never read a historical romance in your life, or have no idea what life on the sea is like (or even been on a boat) you can still relate and feel like part of the story. It's a talent and a gift she wields with great humility.
    • Another great sale and one whose fruits we're working hard to see bear is Jay E. Hughes's Valiant One; a M/M historical romance dubbed "The Gay Braveheart". This one was sold as a romance but in the "rules" of romance it toes the line. It has more history than romance so it doesn't sit well with readers seeking for the softer side of M/M romance rather than the almost brute-like force with which Ragnar and Prince Edward get it on.
  • Vampire and werewolf books are selling to publishers but in smaller numbers as these continue to saturate the market and it feels like everything's already been done. But if you have clients mine, who like to break rules and live for a challenge, you may find a few surprises in this arsenal as well.
    • This was the case with Louisa Bacio and her New Orleans series. The Vampire, The Witch and the Werewolf returns to the simpler days of the genre where vampires were sexy, sucked on your neck and kept a pet werewolf for protection. Ok, so maybe those weren't the simpler times but it's certainly the romanticized version of it that has kept Hollywood buzzing with movies like Van Helsing. This series is picking up steam and speed as she releases other books in the universe giving us glimpses of the world she's created. Her follow-up in the series, Chains of Silver features her werewolves and is just as entrancing as her menage prequel. I think what's helping this series grow in popularity (aside from the obvious of a menage with a vampire and a werewolf) is the character-driven stories that weave throughout the series.
  • Contemporary romance is what sells though and what will continue to sell as escapism is what most romance readers look for when purchasing their books. It's true for traditional publishing and even more so in ePub where romance can be as erotic as you want it to be!
    • When it comes to steamy erotic romance you can count on Kele Moon to deliver and boy does she in her Battered Hearts series: Defying the Odds. This series has several great things going for it, the first being the hero having a career as a Mixed Martial Arts UFC fighter, then there's the small-town feel of the fictional town Garnet and the many steamy sex scenes she doesn't shy away from. The fact that this one also comes in at that sweet-spot of a word count (50k-80k) She's got several books planned in this series and the second one is scheduled to release in July.
    • But she doesn't just write M/F, her M/M Packing Heat is as steamy as her hetero works and I believe the reason both sold easily to the same publisher was the likability and ability for readers to connect and relate to the characters in the books. It didn't hurt that this one also had a bit of a cliché character-pairing with a cop and a firefighter pairing off. You can't go wrong catering to the masses at times and having a bit of indulgent fun as an author. Both of these books have sold extremely well for the author and it doesn't look like we're going to have to wait long for her next ones to hit best-selling status as well.
So I suppose my reading interests don't vary as much. If they did, I wouldn't enjoy the manuscripts I'm selling and believe me, I don't ever want to be in a position to sell a manuscript I don't enjoy. I have several great manuscripts I'm shopping around and some that have been out in submission for longer than I would like them to be but I believe in the stories... I just have to find an editor who likes them as much as I do.