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.