Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest post by Aleksandr Voinov: M/M in 2012 and beyond

On this last day of the Riptide Launch Party & GayRomLit After Party we have another guest author from Riptide Publishing here at Rarely Dusty Books. Only this time it’s an author who hasn’t been to GayRomLit, like the other authors who have been our guest this past ten days. Aleksandr Voinov however is one of the founders and co-owners of this new publisher (together with Rachel Haimowitz and Chris Hawkins). Aleksandr is talking about his view on the m/m genre and gives a prediction for m/m in 2012. Don’t forget to check out the end of the post for a chance to win some more of the great prizes Riptide is offering.

By Aleksandr Voinov

Lots of people have written great, insightful analyses of where the m/m genre might be headed. We seem to be headed for the mainstream, while the market itself seems to get more competitive. There have never been so many books published by so many authors. Publishers fold, others, like Riptide, are just starting out. It’s certainly a vibrant little industry.

It’s also getting a lot more competitive—as so many books are getting published, it’s harder to be noticed in the din. At the same time, I feel we’re right now in a new stage in our development as a genre. Some readers are getting tired of shoddy editing, naked-torso covers, and repetitive plots. It used to be new and thrilling to read explicit gay sex in books, but I feel we’ve reached the stage where that’s not enough.

Readers, on Goodreads, Amazon, and many other reader forums, are demanding “more”. More characterization than “the blond”, or “the cop”, more plot than: “They meet, they fall in love at first sight, they have mind-scorching sex all night, pledging each other eternal lurv, and they are off to the church and then adoption agency the next morning.” And more editing than commas being at “roughly” the right place. After all, the internet is full of badly-edited writing and gay sex – who wants to pay for something that’s not better, or sometimes even worse! – than what you get for free? I wouldn’t.

So my prediction for m/m in 2012:

1) More big names in the m/m space are going to self-publish. Josh Lanyon is already putting stories directly on Amazon. Others will follow.

2) Other authors are more likely to migrate to friendlier contracts. Friendlier contracts being: No ROFR clauses that force them to stay with the publisher; a bigger slice of royalties (why sign your book away for 25% if you can make 50%?); contracts that run out faster (three or four years rather than seven or “lifelong”).

3) All other things being more or less equal, editing and good covers are becoming more important. If an author can choose between a vaguely embarrassing PhotoShop botch-job and a cover that actually represents their story’s mood and characters – which one is more attractive? Also, there are many authors that want to get edited properly – which means a lot more than getting a quick visit from the comma police.

4) Quality control will get more and more important. Readers are tired of “meh” stories. They want new, different, exciting, well-written stories that look good, read well, and don’t feel like they are the millionth cheap copy of a cheap copy. To produce that, publishers and authors will have to work even better together, in my book. I think in some ways, it might be time to learn some lessons from mainstream publishing and respectable indies.

At Riptide, we’re trying to account for all of those trends (minus the self-publishing, but then, the owners are publishing some of their work through Riptide). We’re only accepting stories that have real potential – gay sex isn’t enough (unless it’s for our erotica line), we want good stories well-told. Once acquired, we’re striving to guide every single book through the production process until it’s the best it can be.

We’re taking risks on unconventional stories, offering a wide range from m/m romance to gay literary fiction, and we also publish trans fiction and ménages. We’ll never put a cover on that we (or the author) would be embarrassed about. People only get a naked torso if they really, really want one. :) And, being authors too, we’re offering one of the friendliest contracts in the industry.

I’m pretty sure we’re well-prepared, whatever happens to the genre next year, or in ten years, or in thirty years.


Riptide Grand Opening Giveaway

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win any backlist book of choice by Aleksandr Voinov (excluding Counterpunch and Dark Soul 1)!

Riptide is having a Grand Opening tour, of which this blog post is a part. At the end of the tour stop, Riptide also awards one lucky commenter a big Riptide swag bag, US resident only. If an international winner is chosen, they will substitute for a gift certificate to All Romance E-Books.

The best part is, that each comment in the blog tour earns you one entry in the grand prize drawing for an iPad. Other prizes are a Nook and a Kindle.


Website Riptide Publishing | blog tour list | website Aleksandr Voinov | weblog Aleksandr Voinov | Aleksandr Voinov on Twitter | Aleksandr Voinov on Goodreads


  1. I hope you are right about the covers. Bad covers are a total pet peeve of mine (I complain about them on my blog all the time. I must say i have been continually impressed with Riptide's covers so far.

  2. Self publishing is becoming the "big thing." Which unfortunately is not always a good thing. I've seen some big names self publishing their stuff and while I'm not against it, more money for them, it's not always a good thing. The problem is that not all of these stories are well edited because they're self published.

    Now I won't get into the fact that many publishers have crap editors so what's the quality you're getting for that cut, which I grant you is a problem, but that doesn't necessarily mean toss out stuff without proper editing to be self published.

    While I'm definitely not against self-pubs and do read those books, I still look to publishers first and foremost for the books I read. I think the competition is good and does create better quality so way to go.

  3. The covers at riptide so far a fab ... I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but i know I do ... If it has a doggy cover I'll advoid unless it's recommended. Y someone I trust


  4. I agree, the covers are wonderful. I swear, I want to make posters our of a couple of them!

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  5. The cover of Dark Soul is _so_ beautiful! Not only I wouldn't be embarrassed by it - I would show it off to others!

    Good luck to you all! :)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I agree with you. I love your covers.

  8. Book covers are a very important aspect of a book. When they're bad, it does turn me off. Riptide's covers seem really well-done thus far and has me excited to purchase them.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  9. got to agree with everyone about covers. The self pub industry suffers because of this. There are so many choices out there of people who make covers for a living and do a damned good job. It is worth the extra money to get a great cover. When I see a long list of books, it is the awesome cover that I will look at first. I do read blurbs, but I will read the blurb of a great cover first.

    Josh Laynon's books are great mysteries and just happen to be m/m. Another wonderful series is the Cut and Run series by Urban and Roux. Another great story that happens to have a wonderful m/m story too.

    I can't wait to read some of the RipTide titles!

  10. The covers, thank you for that. I did a post about recycled covers, because I always see the same dude on every cover for a different genre of story (like the dude in the cowboy hat goes with everything)

    Thats why I always appreciate the awesome book covers, they don't always come along.

  11. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing from an insider's viewpoint :-)

    smaccall AT

  12. @All: Sorry for joining so late – my work week was really crazy.

    @Jayjay – I completely agree. I know many authors are deeply unhappy with the shoddy jobs they get at various places. The problem is, that we can’t say in public “I hate this cover, but trust me, the story inside is really good!” So the publishers are getting away with it.

    There are good cover artists out there that don’t charge the earth.

    @Kassa – Absolutely. The problem is, I think the lack of editing is one of the causes for the boom in self-publishing (the others, I think, are that we as authors do our own marketing anyway, and it’s a good way to monetize the backlist).

    We know what a good developmental editor charges (anywhere between 700 and 2,000 USD, depending on length), and even the publishers aren’t paying that (it’s more like 200-2500 USD for a novel).

    Now, ideally a self-published author would hire a solid editor, but that’s very often not the case (I’m NOT talking about any specific writer in our genre, I’m talking about the few self-published authors in the mainstream I’ve read, and the lack of any type of editing is glaring).

    Is it a good thing? I think it’s an option, and some authors actually thrive, get solid covers, an editor, and thus keep complete control and don’t have to give most of the money away to a publisher that actually cares a lot LESS about their book.

    @Sarah – Thank you! The covers are really important to us. It took two weeks until we were happy with only the FONTING on First Watch. I think we might have driven LC a little insane with all the back-and-forth.

    @Tracey – I know that some of our authors have made posters out of them – that’s the biggest compliment you can get. :)

  13. @Aija – Thank you! Jordan Taylor did a fantastic job. I could stare at my covers forever. :)

    @Maria – Thank you! We’re doing our best (and we’re perfectionists, too…). It’s really important to us that everybody can believe in the cover (just like in the story).

    @Joder – Thank you! Absolutely – and I think with the Kindle Fire and iPad, the old argument of “it doesn’t show on an e-reader” doesn’t hold water anymore. I do wonder what some publishers think – it looks a lot to me like they think “as long as it has a naked chest, people will buy it”. I think that’s simply not correct.

    Readers are more demanding than that.

    @Sharon – Yes, I’ve read on Amazon’s forums that people say “I hate self-published books, but I can tell them from the professional books because the covers are so bad.”

    The thing is, there are many talented cover artists that don’t charge the earth, so good covers aren’t even more expensive – they just require care and attention from the publisher, which I find often sorely lacking. And, yes, I do like both Lanyon and Urban/Roux a lot. I do like more stuff going on than just sex over hundreds of pages. I do want a solid plot and some real character development.

    @Pants Off Reviews – Yes, the recycled covers. We do our best to make sure the images we’re using haven’t been used by everybody five times already. It requires a little more care and attention, but it’s very worth it. With everybody using the same stock images, a little more care and attention goes a long way.

    @Bookwyrm – Thanks, I’m happy to share. :)

  14. It was my pleasure, Aleksandr. Thank you for being my guest and for your view on the genre we all love! It was so nice of you to make time to come by even with your busy schedule. Thanks!


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