Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why I'm Wild About Ravenous Romance...

The title of this post, Why I'm Wild About Ravenous Romance, isn't an accident. The odds are I would never write anything that dramatic (or painfully self-indulgent) in a blog post title unless I had a good reason. In this case it's about search engines. About four years ago a nasty low end blogger wrote a negative post with a similar title and I'd like something to show up that balances that post out. From my own POV, as someone who has been working with Ravenous for almost four years now. I knew it would take time, but I've never been in a hurry.

The main reason why I waited so long to write this post had more to do with gathering information from my personal experiences than anything else. To write a blog post about a new publisher, before that new publisher has even had a chance to do anything is just dumb. I've worked with a lot of publishers in the past twenty years. I've worked as an editor for magazines, small tabloids, and print media. I worked in advertising for a wig company in Japan that paid very well. I've worked with all the LGBT presses there are. I'm not mentioning these things to brag or boast. I'm mentioning them to show that I have the experience on which to base my opinions on publishers, and to form a subjective opinion.

If you spend too much time reading the nasty bloggers you'd think publishing was this cutthroat business where everyone's worried about sales and promotion. But I've always found that publishing, in a general sense, is a decent, friendly industry with nice people who tend to be more open-minded about things. I don't think I've been lucky when I say I've only worked with one gay publisher in the past who was an asshat, while the rest of my publishers have been spectacular...all of them. I think most people who have worked in publishing for a while would agree with me that it's a nice business to be in. Even as far as competition goes, most people in publishing would agree that there's room for everyone...and room to support those who are starting out.

One of the publishers with whom I've worked closely has been Ravenous Romance, a digital only e-publisher that launched its web site four years ago. Though I've never met anyone from Ravenous in person, I've gotten to know them all from the owners to the cover artists to the copy editors. And every single time the work experience has been positive. I've been paid on time, I've never had to worry about quarterly statements, and the check, as they say, has always been in the mail from day one. They also pay advances in some cases, which is not common for most e-publishers nowadays. For me, those advances are more than money. They mean the publisher trusts the author and knows the author will deliver and follow the contract. And it's that kind of trust that means all the difference in the world to authors.

As an unagented author with more than 100 listed published works on goodreads alone, it hasn't always been easy dealing with the business end of publishing. I don't like dealing with it, but I've had to learn that I represent myself and I'm responsible for my own best interests, not the publisher's best interests. And I've never had any issues with any publisher except that one gay press that shall not be named here. With Ravenous the hardest thing for me to do has been not to get too friendly, and to keep that distance between author an publisher, to keep things businesslike. They are such decent people it's been hard to do. And, I tend to keep things simple and I don't ever make unrealistic demands on any of my publishers either. In other words, I'm not a pain in the ass. I don't e-mail them ten times a day. I don't need them to coddle me. I do my job, I follow the contract, and I keep it professional at all times. I often wonder what they think of ME, because I tend to be so hard to reach on an emotional level.

As I said, I've wanted to write this post for a long time for many reasons, not just because of that nasty low end blogger. And I've saved the most important for last. When I started to get interested in e-publishing everyone was laughing at it...even my best friend who is a literary agent for over thirty years. He told me e-books would never "take off." I'm glad I didn't listen. When I started working with Ravenous I will admit I had my reservations because they were so new and e-publishing was so knew. I come from an old school that's not really that old but it is specific. Books took months...or years...to be published, lgbt authors were paid flat fees (no more than fifty bucks) and with copies, and when print books were released I almost never knew when they were out. Once I stumbled on one in a bookshop and didn't even know it had been released.

That all changed for me with Ravenous Romance, especially the lgbt part of it. They've given me the chance to write gay fiction I never thought I'd be able to write in my lifetime. I'd always wanted to do it but there weren't any publishers (or agents) that would take a chance on the kind of lgbt fiction I was writing. I've never been told I couldn't do something. And for me that's the biggest reason why I've enjoyed working with Ravenous, and hope to continue working with them in the future.

But more important, all this is based on my own personal experience, not hearsay from someone who knew someone who had a friend who knew someone who worked with a publisher. And if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

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