Monday, April 16, 2012

Romantic Times Publishing Snippets

So, I'm back from Romantic Times and, whoa, it was a whirlwind of awesome.  There were a lot of things that went on but I wanted to talk briefly about a few noteworthy things that I heard while I was there that really showcase the way publishing is changing.

  • Romance author Monica Burns and some of her peers have partnered with Barnes & Noble to found Rock It Reads in order to help distinguish quality self-published books. Too many great self-pub gems languish in a market that's swiftly becoming glutted. Here's one way to find the diamonds in the rough. This sort of vetting process was talked about a lot at RT and seems like one way that self-published works will be able to get more recognition since it's nigh impossible to get a review via traditional sites and publications. (There will be a long ranty post on that subject coming, childrens.)
  • In order to capitalize on the Fifty Shades of Grey craziness, author Tiffany Reisz, who writes BDSM themed erotica, will be getting her ebook release date for The Siren book one of her Original Sinners series advanced to May 1 instead of July 24th when the hard copies come out. It looks like we're finally seeing a large publisher utilizing the inherent flexibility of digital publishing. Where Harlequin goes, others will follow. (I pre-ordered this. Ms. Reisz is awesome and after talking to her a bit, she's definitely qualified to write very knowledgeably about BDSM. Also, I clearly must support this ebook first release thing! Of course.)
  • While the ebook author signing took place separately from the 'real' author signing (that's a stratification I didn't like), there were plenty of authors who were sitting at both. There appears to be a growing subsection of authors who are writing not only for traditional publishing houses like Orbit but also for small press/e-publishers like Samhain. That's awesome for readers who want more of their favorite authors and it's great for writers who want to experiment. I was very pleased to see how crazy busy the ebook signing was.
  • At one panel I was listening to Lucienne Diver talk about how a publisher's decision to buy books is driven entirely by what 'book stores will shelve.' Apparently, a book can only be shelved in one place, so a sci-fi romance is either science fiction or it's romance - it cannot be shelved in both. Unless, of course, the publishing house wants to pay for the book stores to do so. The first thought that popped into my head was, "Book stores? Plural? There's really only one at this point." The second thought that popped into my head was, "If we're so limited by the shelf space, why don't we get rid of the fucking shelves?" (And yet people are still damning Amazon for shaking up the trad pub business model. The mind limps.)
There will be more on all of this stuff once it has time to percolate, but I wanted to get it out of my head and onto the page before I passed out. There was definitely a vibe of moving into the future at Romantic Times, though some seem to be holding hard to the past. 

I'll also have some panel recaps, author quotage, and pictures up soon!
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  1. Nice summary. I'm quite curious about the long ranty post about reviews for self-published books, too. I've been debating whether I want to pay the $425 for a Kirkus review for A Gift of Ghosts -- I'm struggling to decide whether it's a worthwhile investment or a waste of money and I can't really find much evidence either way. I think it's maybe a gamble and could wind up being either. But I've never done anything toward getting formal reviews for Ghosts -- I think I sent it to a grand total of three bloggers, none of whom bothered (to the best of my knowledge), and I don't really know whether it's worth the effort to try. Maybe your post will clear it up for me! (And are you writing? Is that why the rant?)

    As for the book shelf problem, yep. That's one of the reasons I love e-readers. Publishers also have the problem that if they don't have the right relationships with the bookstore buyer -- ie, they publish romance, but not science fiction, so they don't have regular meetings with the science fiction book buyer for B&N -- they could absolutely love a book, think it was the greatest thing ever, but still be totally unable to sell it (and thus unlikely to take a risk on publishing it.)

    1. Ok, so having read "A Gift of Ghosts" after the mention over on the odeck, it was rockin' awesome and more people should read it. But paying for a Kirkus review seems like too much.

      But I don't know how else to get reviews for a self-published e-book, except to pay like you say. It's a conundrum. This is the trouble with breaking trail on a new thing: there's no existing system in place.

    2. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. And yeah, buying reviews just doesn't feel right. Intellectually, I think I know that the right thing to do is to just keep writing and not worry about selling, but the idea of actually being able to write for a living is so seductive. Laurie needs to write the rant on reviews so I can know whatever she knows. :)

    3. Given that paid Kirkus review are listed separately, often negative, and seldom read... I would say they are worth pretty much nothing unless you get one of the 'best of' recognitions.

    4. Emily! I just cracked open the copy of Father of Dragons that you gave me at RT. Thank you again!

      Wyndes, I mentioned and thought of you sooo many times at RT. In fact, I discussed your book with Monica Burns and Joan Swan. I was saying that I was deeply unhappy that it's so damn hard to sift through the bunch of self-pubs to find the good stuff. I mentioned that I had read your wonderful book but there was no real promotion path outside of social media or the odd blogger. They both said that everyone was having the same problem and that's why they wanted to get together to do their vetting thing. They're still getting together their submission guidelines but that should be published soon.

      Also, I didn't realize you had to pay for a Kirkus review. This chaps my already chapped ass.

  2. Nearly a week after that RT workshop and I'm still fuming about the idea that in science fiction you can either have your science or your romance but never both. I'm greedy and I want both. :)

    Another workshop I went to on science fiction romance took the time to emphasize how you had to get your science as right as you possibly could, because otherwise what were you doing writing science fiction? Interestingly, that second panel featured authors who write both m/f and m/m science fiction romance: I wonder if that makes a difference to the market?

    1. Hi Olivia! You and I were totally on the same page, there. It's so dumb that we have to have this "sci fi for girls" and "sci fi for boys." I'm actually writing about that right now. I'm woefully behind on updates.