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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reporting from RT Convention

by Raelene Gorlinsky

This week is the annual Romantic Times reader/author convention. It's in Columbus, Ohio, this year, so was an easy drive for our staff. This convention is mainly a fun event for attendees - lots of parties and social activities. EC throws a huge party every year for any and all; this year's theme was Paint the Town Red.

But for editors, agents, publishing staff, the convention is a business event. We put on workshops, have a publisher spotlight to attract authors, hold editor/author pitch appointments, chit-chat with agents and with editors from other houses. We publicize and promote ebooks and erotic romance to one and all.

EC has two events just for our own authors - a meet-and-greet the first night, and then an author luncheon. A convention like this is a great opportunity for publishing staff to get together with a lot of their authors at once, to show our appreciation of them and update them about the company's ongoing projects and future plans. And chat one-on-one with our authors about their writing plans, answer their questions or give advice.

Of course, being here in our "official capacity" does not preclude us from being fans. Like any reader, I love the opportunity to meet some of my favorite authors, tell them how much I enjoy their books. One can shamelessly troll for free books, opportunities to get ARCs. Find out about what future books to look forward to. (Yes, Sara, I do indeed want to read the rest of that Regency story, so send it! And I can't wait for the vampire chef series to come out.)

Tomorrow and Friday will be busy days for Kelli and me, several panels to participate in. Oh, and Kelli has become known to the hotel staff as the person with the "angry" soda cans - ask her what happens when you set the minifridge in your room too cold.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Mash-Ups Coming

by Raelene Gorlinsky

A little trolling through Amazon has revealed it's worse than I thought. But I wouldn't want any of you to miss these current and upcoming mash-ups! Honestly, these are for real! A lot of classic authors are rolling in their graves--or perhaps about to come back as zombies.

Vampire Darcy's Desire by Regina Jeffers, from Ulysses Press, Oct. 2009.

Mr. Darcy, Vampire by Amanda Grange, Sourcebooks, Aug. 2009.

Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat, from Eos, Jan. 2010.

This one actually sounds like I might want to read it--or maybe just reading the title is enough:
Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love and Other Dire Delights by Jane Austen & Vera Nazarian, which came out last November from Curiosities.

Not really a mash-up, more a take-off on the mash-ups, where our beloved author Jane is the undead heroine:
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford, out last December from Ballantine. It's labeled the first in a series.

Available already from Coscom Entertainment:
Alice in Zombieland: Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' with Undead Madness by Lewis Carroll & Nickolas Cook.

Robin Hood & Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers - A Canterbury Tale by Paul A. Freeman.

The Undead World of Oz by L. Frank Baum & Ryan C. Thomas.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by Mark Twain & W. Bill Czolqosz

The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by H.G. Wells & Eric S. Brown.

Coming in May:
Little Vampire Women by Louisa May Alcott & Lynn Messina, from HarperTeen.

Little Women and Werewolves by Louisa May Alcott & Porter Grand, from Del Rey.

August looks like a hot month for mash-ups:
From Tor: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead by Mark Twain & Don Borchert. Seriously.

Another not-to-be-missed August release: Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray, from Kensington. The cover tagline: Heathcliff's love could save her. His thirst could kill her.

From Sourcebooks: Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson.

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires by William Shakespeare, from HarperTeen

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mash-Up Madness: And the Winners Are...

Hoo, boy, we've got some very creative - and warped - contest participants. Lots and lots of entries, many incredibly imaginative and entertaining, so we ended up awarding "winner" status to people, rather than individual titles. You can check out the Comments section on the original blog post to see some of the hysterical book descriptions.

Gehayi (a very prolific mind!):
Scents and Sensibility
Wuthering Bites
Star Captains Courageous
Pride and Premature Burials
Little Demon Lord Fauntleroy
Troll of the D'Urbervilles
Westward, Whore!
Tequila Mockingbird

Bill Greer:
Whore and Peace
The Grapes of Wraiths
The Naked and the Undead
The Lovely Boners

Francesca Hawley:
I, Claudius, Vampire
Lady Chatterley's Demon Lover

Tarot by Arwen:
Picture of Dorian Greyback

Beth:
Shifter Family Robinson
Gone With the Wendigo
Little Den on the Prairie

Paisley Smith:
Charlotte's Deb

Kama Spice:
Beauty, the Beast
Midsummer Night's Scream

Minx Malone:
The Heart is a Lonely Vampire Hunter

Okay, winners, you each get an ebook of your choice from Ellora's Cave or Cerridwen Press. Email Martha@ellorascave.com, identify yourself as a Mash-Up winner, give her the title and author of the ebook you want and the format you need it in.

Thanks to all for participating! We're eagerly awaiting seeing some of these stories!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Survey Says...

article contributed by author Cara McKenna

I recently invited people to take a What Erotica Readers Want survey. The nearly seventy participants came via my erotic authors’ group blog, my website and Twitter, so the pool is more a focus group of erotica fans who patronize mainstream publishers such as Ellora’s Cave than a true representation of all people everywhere.

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest integer.

Gender. Respondents were 88% women, 9% men and 3% transgender.

Age. The largest group fell in the 30–39 range, making up 36% of the pool. The next largest groups were 40–49 (26%) and 20–29 (22%). 14% of respondents were 50–64 and only 2% were 19 or younger. We had no responses from readers 65 or older.

Voracity. The largest group reads roughly one erotic story per week. That said, 16% of our participants read 15 erotic stories or more per month—you insatiable perverts, you!

Formats and vendors. Nearly everyone polled reads digital erotica, with only 9% reading print exclusively. Most read a mix of the two, and 16% read digital only. The vast majority of readers get their erotica from traditional bookstores, online bookstores and direct from publishers' sites. Other sources of note are libraries, fan fiction sites, and erotic blogs and websites. None of our anonymous respondents claimed to get their erotica from pirate sites. Big, sloppy kisses from all us starving authors!

Length. Participants enjoy erotica of all lengths, though novels and novellas were most popular (46% and 35% respectively). 13% preferred short-story length and 6% preferred super-short (i.e., EC's Naughty Nooners or fan fiction / blog posts).

Character gender mix. The majority of our repondents were women and unsurprisingly, most want a man in their story. He can be one-half of a hetero couple or an m/m couple, or part of an f/m/m+ menage. Nearly two-thirds of pollees are indifferent to or turned-off by women-only erotica. Even more would pass on m/f/f menage.

What we're into reading. The meat of the survey—get your gravy! I’ve broken these data into three sections: safe themes, super-popular themes, and least-popular themes. Readers rated a bunch of items using five options: love, like, no opinion, dislike, and hate. That said, this is just for fun and I don’t encourage authors to chase trends—write what you love.

You're probably safe writing:
• Historical settings
• Full-on BDSM (D/s, bondage, etc.)
• Male Dom / alpha hero
• Sci-fi / futuristic settings
• 10+ year age difference, either gender
• Virginity loss
• Anal play
• Voyeurism or exhibitionism
• "Cheating" with permission / cuckolding
• Consensual rape role-play (contentious—12% love it, 13% hate it)
• Sex as rite / ritual
• Plus-sized protagonist
• Interracial lovers
• Kinky piercings / body modification
• Orgies (5+ participants)
• Food play
• Larger-than-average wangs (size kinda matters)

If you really want to thrill readers, take notes:
• 96% like or love light bondage
• 95% like / love contemporary settings
• 89% like / love oral sex performed on a man
• 87% like / love male-on-male action
• 83% like / love oral sex performed on a woman
• 82% like / love humor
• 81% like / love a suspense plot
• 79% like / love paranormal stories
• 77% like / love a happily-ever-after ending
• 77% like / love sex toys
• 77% like / love menage (3–4 participants)
• 73% like / love spanking
• 71% like / love outdoor sex

If you're aiming to alienate:
• 39% dislike or hate a sexually Dominant female character
• 35% dislike or hate female-on-female action

Verboten topics. I also asked what topics readers don’t like mentioned, even in passing. Here they are, along with the percentage who say they kill their buzz:
• 71% Sexually transmitted diseases / infections
• 54% Abortion
• 46% Religion / morality
• 44% Recreational drug use (excluding alcohol)
• 33% Serious illness or death
• 27% Politics
• 25% Rape or sexual abuse in protagonist's past
• 23% Children or parenthood
• 23% Infertility or erectile dysfunction
• 21% Tobacco use
• 19% Conception or pregnancy
• 6% Birth control

How we judge our books. I was surprised to find we do judge them by their covers! Nearly 60% of respondents said a nice cover is reasonably important, though they also care about the theme or blurb. 19% say a nice cover is merely a bonus, 14% say the cover is the most important thing when choosing a book, and only 12% said they choose books totally regardless of their covers. 8% chose the non-applicable option, reading their erotica in a cover-less form such as fan-fic sites.

Thanks again to everyone who participated.

Cara McKenna writes erotica for Ellora’s Cave. You can visit her at www.caramckenna.com. For a more detailed analysis of the survey results, visit http://naughtyauthorchicks.blogspot.com/2010/04/survey-says.html.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reminder: Mash-Up Madness Contest

This contest closes on Monday, April 19. We'll post the winners a day or two after that. To enter, go to the original blog post (http://redlinesanddeadlines.blogspot.com/2010/04/mash-up-madness-and-contest.html) and post your entries in Comments.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting Your Book "Discovered"

by Raelene Gorlinsky

This is an excellent article by Cecilia Tan, author, editor and publisher.
Discoverability, Still a Book's Biggest Problem
http://www.circlet.com/?p=1024

"Discoverability" means having readers find out about (discover) your book. You can't sell it if no one knows about it, right? In the "old days", that meant having the book on bookstore shelves, because most people selected books to buy by browsing the bookstore. But now, with the shift in the market to online shopping and with the growing digital market, that discoverability dynamic has changed. Ms. Tan addresses what she considered the three components of discoverability for books (print and digital) nowadays:
~ the transition from physical to online marketplace
~ piracy (and how to use it to your marketing advantage)
~ social media and author involvement in promoting their books

A must-read for all authors planning to stick around for the ride into the future of publishing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Submissions Hall of Shame

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Some writers are hesitant to submit their work to an editor or agent because they aren't sure if their writing is "good enough" to ask someone to look at. Well, if you ever feel like that, you can perk yourself up by seeing the REALLY BAD stuff that some people submit. Several years ago, our editors compiled a "worst of the worst submissions" list. Believe me, none of you reading this blog could do worse. Pity the poor editors who have to look at this stuff.

~ Aack! Thirteen-year-old boy gets drunk, has sex with his four adult aunts, gets them all pregnant. By the time he is 17, he's fathered seven children. Author stated this is the first in a four-book series about the "hero's" life. Claimed it was an important psychological study of the development of the male psyche.

~ OMG! Futuristic post-Armageddon Earth. Chapter One contains a murdered, mutiliated baby, evil beastmen sodomizing and slaughtering villagers. Graphic violence, no romance, no 'good' sex. Why was this submitted as an erotic romance?

~ Historical with gang-rape of captured women. Sixteen-year-old heroine gets sexual turn-on from rape. Suggest writer look up "sensual" and "erotic" in dictionary; this story is neither.

~ A lovely, uplifting story of an escaped prisoner, the family he takes refuge with (all of whom he eventually kills), and the woman who loves him enough to commit murder and suicide at the end of the book so they can be together forever.

~ Where to begin? Hmm, maybe with the gratuitous rape of the 'bad guys', or the death scene that involves a stabbing in the crotch, or the utterly cliche and offensive Southern characterizations.

~ First person fan fiction featuring Nintendo characters. Umm, "romance"?

~ Historical romance based on the Iliad, featuring spankings and rape. Very boring. Neat trick to be able to write boring rape and spanking scenes.

~ Paranormal contemporary tale about a selkie. Basically the sex life of seals--Aesop's Fable meets National Geographic special.

~ Story told in first person by dying serial killer. Describes his first murder--of his best friend by cutting off his penis and slashing his throat--then pinning the murder on the new kid in town.

~ Ick, ick, ick! Hero and heroine marry when she is three years old. Hero actually gets turned on at one point by child bride. Typical dialogue from husband to wife: "Suck it, bitch!" I don't think so.

~ A cheery story about a cheating husband who kills himself at the end of the book. (Well, okay, maybe that counts as a HEA for the wife.)

~ Secret baby! Hero who can't make a commitment, heroine who learns that "love is letting go"! "Heated kisses:, "ultimate jewel in the orb of happiness". Her cute widdle doggie gets a bwoken tail. Need I go on? Did the author miss any cliches or chances for purple prose?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 Pulitzer Prizes

Because we should all celebrate great literature.

http://www.pulitzer.org

Letters, Drama and Music

Fiction: Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)

Drama: Next to Normal, music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey

History: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed (Penguin Press)

Biography: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles (Alfred A. Knopf)

Poetry: Versed by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)

General Nonfiction: The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman (Doubleday)

Music: Violin Concerto by Jennifer Higdon (Lawdon Press)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mash-Up Madness - and Contest

by Raelene Gorlinsky

How do you feel about the current craze for mash-ups? The term has been around a while for music and other uses, but now has been applied to the blending of a piece of classic literature with paranormal creatures for a wild and wacky effect. The launch of the fad was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now we've got Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, among others. Coming up are Jane Slayre and Android Karenina.

Although I think the ideas are clever and some of the executions are creative, I'm not personally a fan of this craze. I love Pride and Prejudice for what it is, I don't enjoy any derivatives, especially not something as wild as adding zombies. I also think this is a short-lived fad.

But--in the spirit of celebrating all new ideas and interesting books in fiction, we'll have a contest about this! Post your own best mash-ups in Comments here. Give the mash-up title and the book it's based on (although clearly we should be able to tell from the title). If you want, you can throw in a couple of sentences describing what this theoretical book would be about. Contest closes Monday, April 19. Yes, of course there will be prizes! You know we love to give away free books.