Monday, October 29, 2012

Romance Reader Stats from RWA

RWA commissions an annual study of the U.S. romance publishing industry and romance readers. The 2011 information was just published in the November 2012 Romance Writers Report magazine.

Industry sales information for 2011 is from Simba Information, Bowker Monthly Tracker and AAP:
  • 2011 U.S. romance fiction revenue: $1.37 billion; 14.3% of consumer book market.
  • Simba estimates that for 2012, the overall U.S. consumer book market will decrease by 3.7%, and the romance category will decrease to $1.34 billion (but be up to 14.5% of overall market).
  • Ebook sales of romances were 44% of total units in first quarter 2012 (compared to 26% ebook sales in total book market); mass market accounted for 29%; trade paperback 17%
RWA's romance book buyer survey, conducted by Bowker Market Research:
(Of course, I'm always a bit leery of statistics when they don't tell me all the details of the study--like how many people polled, how selected, the demographics, etc.)
  • 91% of romance buyers are women
  • about half of romance buyers are between the ages of 30 - 54
  • 31% of romance buyers consider themselves "avid" readers; 44% consider themselves "frequent" readers
  • Have been reading romance for more than twenty years: 57% of avid readers, 43% of frequent readers, 41% of occasional readers
  • Element enjoyed most about romance novels: happy ending
  • 94% of romance readers have read ebooks (either purchased or free)
  • Top overall reason a romance buyer selects a book to purchase: likes the author (45%)
  • "Very influential" reasons for selecting a romance to buy: enjoyed author's previous book, book is part of a series, book description, recommendation from trusted source.
  • Not influential: promo items (postcards, trading cards, notepads, pens, calendars, bookmarks, etc)
  • Online elements that influence purchase decision: online bookseller websites, reading about it/seeing it online, seeing it on a bestseller list, author website, seeing it discussed on Amazon
  • How readers become aware of romance books (does not imply purchased -- just knew about a book): in-store display, read an excerpt online, recommendation from friend/relative, author's website, teaser chapter in other print book they were reading, online retailer recommendation on retailer site
I must say, I'm surprised at the 94% figure for having read an ebook. That is MUCH higher than for the reading population as a whole. Romance readers definitely are more open to digital instead of paper.

What do you find the most surprising or significant information from this study?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Britishisms Becoming American

by Raelene Gorlinsky

The BBC News Magazine has an article on Britishisms that are becoming sorta common usage in the U.S. (or at least we are familiar with the terms and know what they mean, even if we don't all use them ourselves).

See the full article at  for definitions. But here are the words. Hmm, I don't think I've ever heard 'chav' or 'numpty'. But I realize I do hear and use many of the others.

gap year
pop over

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Comprise / Compose

I see "comprised" used by British and Australian authors, but rarely by Americans. Is that because American writers almost always use it incorrectly?

There is no such phrase as "comprised of"! Never put 'of' with 'comprise'. Write that on your palm in ink, please.

"The whole comprises the parts; the whole is composed of the parts."
(Or: The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole.)

Either of these is correct:
The alphabet comprises twenty-six letters.
The alphabet is composed of twenty-six letters.

A couple of tests to see if you've got the usage correct:
~  'comprises' = 'is composed of'
~  you can substitute 'includes' for 'comprises'.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bookstores and Romance

by Raelene Gorlinsky

You think romance novels have a low rep in the U.S.? Some people look down on you for reading "bodice rippers" or "porn"? (Of course, almost all these are people who've never actually read a romance themselves, know nothing about the genre.) Well, at least U.S. bookstores (online and physical) recognize that half of all fiction paperbacks sold in this country are romance, and so from a business perspective support the genre.

Not so in other countries.

I've always heard that bookstores in the U.K. carry little romance. When I was there in April, I went to the largest bookstore in London. It took some searching, but I finally found the romance section--three rows in a very short section. And facing the wall--you couldn't see it from anywhere else on the floor, you had to be actually looking for it.

Most bookstores in Germany are small independents, and I was told carry little romance. Frankfurt does have a newish very large bookstore (part of a chain, I think), something the Germans are still getting used to. Four floors--Rebecca and I roamed the whole thing. NO romance section. They do carry bestselling books, such as the German translation of Fifty Shades of Grey. And they have a small Science Fiction & Fantasy section that had some paperbacks of what we might label paranormal romance (Gail Carriger, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Larissa Ione, etc.). There was literary fiction and the classics, poetry and plays, a small section of mysteries and thrillers, a children's and YA department. Most of the store was nonfiction: cookbooks, reference and technical works, biographies, history. Oh, they did have a section promoting ebooks, featuring the store's own branded e-reader.

So maybe here in the U.S. we should consider ourselves lucky that we can so easily find romance books.

Any of you checked out bookstores in other countries? What's your experience with them?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair: The EC Experience

by Raelene Gorlinsky

We had a very busy time at Frankfurt Book Fair, we were swamped with foreign publishers who wanted to talk about the potential market for erotic romance. We saw publishers from markets/countries that in past had little interest in romance or erotica--eastern Europe, South America, India. They are still a bit tentative, not sure erotica will work in their countries, but starting to think about it and look for books to which they can buy translation rights. Some expressed that they may want to start with acquiring rights to romance novels, see how those fly in their countries (yes, in some parts of the world there are few romance books, it's not considered a desired genre). Then, if they can sell romances to their readers, they'd try erotic romance.

The Friday edition of the Frankfurt Show Daily magazine had an article on the growing popularity of erotica--and a sidebar for us, "Ellora’s Cave, the wildly popular digital and print erotica and romance publisher from the United States"!
(scroll down)

Representatives from several library distributors came to talk with us. We already make EC ebooks available for library lending through several US distributors, but so far not in other parts of the world. The lady from New Zealand was very eager. I also talked to some audio book companies. And talked to Google about their international expansion of Google Play (their ebook retailing division).

The college students came around on Friday. We had a good time chatting with them, they were so eager to learn about publishing and e-publishing, about the business and marketing aspects, about the varying acceptability around the world of romance and erotica. Several expressed their gratitude that we were so friendly and willing to talk to them--apparently some of the companies and publishers at the Fair brushed off the students, made it clear they wouldn't waste time with them. Not a good attitude--these students are readers/customers themselves, and future employees for our industry.

Fun tidbits:
There was a very strong police presence at the fair--groups of good-looking, young, buff (female and male) uniformed officers everywhere. They stopped by our booth a lot to look at the Cavemen calendar and chuckle. I wasn't able to convince any of them to actually take a calendar or book. I guess they can't really carry such around when they are on duty and in uniform. One of them explained to me that they aren't allowed to take gifts or giveaways of any sort--it could be construed as an attempted bribe, I suppose.

The new acronym in the publishing industry is GAMA: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. The technology and etailer giants that now control our publishing world.

We gave away 1000 of our big Bad Girls of Romance bags. They were widely acclaimed as the best bags available at the Fair--huge and sturdy. We saw people everywhere carrying them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Peculiar Punctuation

Not that we necessarily want to encourage any authors to use these, but they are certainly fun to know about:

14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed
(Go to that article to see the actual marks and get a full explanation.)

A few are really cool--I actually want to see a story submission using these! (Of course, first you have to figure out how to get the weird characters to show in your Word file. Try checking or )

Exclamation Comma (when you want to indicate excitement, but not end the sentence yet)
Question Comma (when asking a question but continuing the sentence)
Interrobang (the punctuation equivalent of OMGWTF?!)
Snark (to indicate the sentence has a sarcastic or ironic meaning) [Actually, I'm wondering if the article author made this one up!]

Of course, the problem is that readers (or 99.9% fo them) won't know what these marks are or what they mean. They'd likely just think it's a misprint or typo, alas.

Many of the rest of the listed marks are primarily used by copy editors and proofreaders to indicate changes or text formatting, they are not something you'd see in published story/book text. And there are a few with specialized technical usages.

Sheffer Stroke
Because Sign
Section Sign

Monday, October 15, 2012

International Book Fairs

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Today I'm on my way home from the Frankfurt Book Fair (as implied, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany). Editor Rebecca Hill and I represented EC at this industry event and had a busy, busy four days. My Friday blog post will talk about our experiences and excitement at FBF; today I'm discussing book fairs in general.

Frankfurt is the largest international book fair among many. London, Bologna, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Sharjah, and on and on... The Frankfurt fair takes up five huge halls, a total of ten floors, of the massive complex here. Several thousand companies participate, representing all parts of the world, although half the fair space is occupied by German businesses. Our EC booth was in the International hall, which had twenty rows stretching the length of the building.

A book fair is a "trade" event--it is for professionals representing the many elements of the publishing industry to come together to conduct business and share information. It is very much not an event for authors, readers, bloggers, bookstores, and so forth--there are no activities for them, the business purpose of the fair is not aimed at them.

[Book Expo America is not really a "book fair" the way others labeled that are. BEA's main function is to provide a venue to promote/publicize new books to those who can influence reader purchases. There are author signings and readings; book promotion videos and talks; free books by the ton given away; sessions for bloggers, for reviewers, for aspiring authors, for bookstore people, for fanatic fans. In other words, the "audience" the event is trying to reach is the general reading public, not the publishing industry.]

So what is the business conducted at Frankfurt and other international book fairs?

(1) Rights sales and licensing: The main function of the Fair is for publishers to sell territorial and translation rights to other publishers, or to license book-related products. For example, Ellora's Cave publishes "worldwide English" in both digital and print; we don't produce our books in other languages. Publishers in other countries buy from us the right to translate and distribute our books (specific titles they select) in their language.

(2) Services: Does a publisher need to find a company to digitally format their books, print them, distribute them (digital or print), market them, ship them, advertise them? Create apps or enhanced ebooks or graphic novels? There are hundreds of companies at the Fair ready to convince you they are the best business partner for your company's needs.

(3) Information and education: Panels and presentations on things that affect the publishing industry. What are the changes and trends going on? What is impacting our markets? How do we predict or prepare for future reader interests? What are the new technologies? What are Amazon, Google, Apple, et al, doing next and how will it affect the whole industry?

A few famous authors come to speak. Arnold Schwartzenegger was here--but the intent of his appearance was not to convince you or me as a reader to buy a copy of his new book. His purpose was to promote his book in a way that would convince publishers outside North America that readers in their countries would love to read about him--and therefore, those publishers should buy translation or territorial rights from his U.S. publisher.

Friday is traditionally another type of "education" day at FBF. That's when university students in programs such as Publishing, Library Sciences or Literature come to try to learn about the industry they want to work in. We spoke to students from Germany, U.S., UK, France and Japan.

There is actually a "public" component to Frankfurt Book Fair. Tuesday through Friday are for business; Saturday and Sunday the halls are open to the general public (for an admission fee). They can come in and browse, see the displays of publishers. It looked like a few booths sold off their display wares. EC gives away any print books and promo items left by Saturday--it's good reader publicity, and it would be too expensive to ship stuff back home. But the main activity for the public was unrelated to books, despite being held at and in conjunction with the Book Fair. Because it's just a few weeks before Halloween, there were huge costume contests going on in the German halls. Imaginatively and elaborately dressed people everywhere... And the parking lots were filled with stalls selling food, clothing, jewelry, knick-knacks--not book-related, just sort of a general craft fair.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tattooed Librarians

You don't still subscribe to the old cliche that librarians are dull and straitlaced, do you? If so, take a look at these women flaunting their profession.

Courtesy of Mental Floss, "11 Amazing Librarian Tattoos"

My three favorites: 
It's a card catalog!


And of course the Tarot card. Funny, I have dozens of Tarot decks, and I don't remember seeing a Librarian card. ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Plural People

by Raelene Gorlinsky

"There are men and women in the scene. How do I easily refer to the group?"

We always, as writers and editors, want some variation in words. It's repetitive and boring to use people hundreds of times in the book. But what else works when the group in the orgy room includes both male and female bodies, or the group of friends giving you advice on your love life comprises men and women?

Depending on the circumstances or the relationship of the group members to each other, try some of these:

general public
guys - As a singular noun, this is male. But it is now accepted as colloquial use for a mixed-gender group.
menage -The original meaning is a group of people living together. A specific number is not implied, it can be more than just "a trois".
peeps (in its contemporary colloquial usage, not meaning the Easter candy)

Or, if the people have something in common such as profession or activity, refer to them by that group term: teachers, joggers, soldiers, actors (which includes male and female), millionaires, revelers, orgiasts.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Getting Started at EC

by author Margaret L. Carter
(see contest at end)

Before I became an Ellora’s Cave author, in addition to my print publications (mostly nonfiction on the supernatural in literature) I’d had a few e-books published already. They were full-length novels, however. When I wrote Night Flight, a vampire romance novella that I felt needed more extensive and explicit sex than any of my past vampire fiction, I didn’t know what to do with it. In those bygone days novella markets were scarce. I unsuccessfully submitted the story to the only suitable prospect I knew of, an erotic romance paperback anthology series.

Then I heard about Ellora’s Cave. A publisher that specialized in erotic romance, wanted paranormal—and accepted stand-alone novellas.

I already knew some of the advantages of e-publishing. E-pubs were flexible about length. They kept their doors wide open to different genres, crossovers and varieties of subject matter, such as embracing vampires when many conventional publishers decreed that vampires were “over”. E-pubs invited electronic submissions, a BIG time- and money-saver for authors. They answered submissions quickly (as opposed to a year or more of waiting with traditional novel markets) and put newly accepted books on the publication schedule with equally prompt timing. They offered frequent, open communication between editors and authors. E-pubs even allowed authors to give input on cover art. In addition to the versatility of e-books, they can also stay on sale forever. No longer does an author have to worry that her backlist will fade into oblivion.

Ellora’s Cave featured another advantage—a market for short works, a boon for me because the novella seems to be my natural length. (Other e-publishers later ventured into shorter length stand-alone fiction, but at the time EC was one of the few.) And one more surprise perk—monthly royalty checks!

I’m proud to write for a publisher that made a reputation as the groundbreaker in its field and garnered so much respect for erotic romance and electronic publishing. Ellora’s Cave got there before it was hot and in fact helped to make it hot.

In honor of the EC anniversary celebration, I’ll give away a 2013 Ellora’s Cavemen calendar to a random winner. If you’d like a chance to win a calendar, please e-mail me at MLCVamp (at)

Website:  (Carter's Crypt)
EC author page:

Friday, October 5, 2012

That's a Bookstore?

Amazing what you can turn into a bookstore. See the article for photos of bookstores in what used to be movie theatres, old factories, a firehouse, a railway station, a canal boat, a church and a funeral parlor. My favorite is the one that used to be a circular manure tank. (The article reassures that it now smells like paper and books, not manure!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Weak Words

By copy editor Victoria Reese
He contemplated the miniscule chamber, its prosaic tile at odds with the neo-modernistic appurtenances.
Excuse me? I honestly had a writer once who used words like this in the novel he was writing. The above sentence is a description of a bathroom in an old farmhouse. Although I consider myself well-read and familiar with the English language, I had trouble getting through his story. This is an example of PhD language. Words that are too full of themselves or using language that sends the reader running for the dictionary.
If your reader has to stop to figure out what you’re saying, you’ve lost him or her. The use of simple words does not always mean dull or uninteresting. For instance, walk may be dull; stroll is simple but descriptive and interesting; perambulate is verbose. Consider the following examples:
Dull?                   Interesting           Over the Top
cart                      carriage               conveyance
wordy                   glib                     loquacious
name                    moniker              sobriquet
Hopefully you see the pattern here. Use colorful, interesting language but don’t require your reader to check the dictionary every other sentence.
When we write, we tend to use the same favorite words over and over. Like meatloaf or a well-remembered meal from childhood, they’re comfortable. We know them—know how to spell them and use them. Ah, but does that mean they’re good?
Not necessarily. Just like a favorite dessert, too much of anything is not good. Some words that seem perfectly fine are actually weak words that give your writing less impact than it should have.
For instance, Shakespeare didn’t call Katharina a mean woman. He called her a shrew. When a cat is chasing a mouse, it doesn’t jump suddenly. It pounces. A teenage boy wolfs his food. The words shrew, pounce and wolf are stronger than the lukewarm phrases they replace. Search your manuscript for overused or lukewarm nouns and verbs and see if you can’t find a better way to say it with stronger words.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How Lucky Can You Get?

By B.J. McCall

I write love stories that sizzle. That’s my objective from the first paragraph. I love sexy, alpha male heroes. They may be human, werewolf or vampire, gun-toting, sword-wielding or mindbender, but they are the take-charge kind of guys. I want my soldier, mercenary, detective, prisoner, celestial warrior or prince hero ready to give up all for my heroine.

I like feisty heroines. Maybe that’s why I love the sci-fi, urban-fantasy and paranormal genres. My heroines can be soldiers, mercenaries and spaceship pilots. I want them tough but feminine. I want them to share in the adventure and have toe-curling sex. In “Silk”, in the Seasons of Seduction anthology, my heroine is a private spaceship pilot transporting a dangerous prisoner who is a mindbender. Although Rhys Adon doesn’t physically touch Lisin Silk, their first encounters are hot. In Scarlet Tear, Ceyla is a pirate’s prize but the sexy pirate isn’t winning a submissive slave. Ceyla is plotting her escape.

In every book, I want a really sizzling moment. I want my readers to fall in love with my hero and wish they were the heroine. Writing for Ellora’s Cave has allowed me to reach for that sizzle. I can’t believe I’m an official “EC decade author”.

Electronic publishing was new when I heard about Ellora’s Cave. The conveyor of the news was Kate Douglas. At the time I had been published by a small print press specializing in erotic novellas. My latest submission, an erotic sci-fi story, had been turned down and Kate suggested I try Ellora’s Cave. My story was accepted.

That was a decade ago, the story was Icy Hot and my relationship with EC had begun. Electronic publishing has flourished, forever changing the world of publishing. Erotica has become a popular option for readers and Ellora’s Cave has set a standard for the industry to follow.

Icy Hot was the beginning. I’m still writing for EC and loving every minute. I am privileged to have stories in five of the fantastic Cavemen anthologies.

This is my decade year and I’m included in another great EC anthology. “Kela’s Guardian”, a paranormal demon story, will be published in Something Wicked This Way Comes Volume 4. I have just signed a contract for a werewolf story titled Pleasure Pact and I’m looking forward to more exciting years with Ellora’s Cave. I’m doing what I love with a great group of people. How lucky can you get?