Today we're happy to welcome Aleksandr Voinov as a returning guest at Rarely Dusty Books. He's here as part of Riptide Publishing's Blog Party to celebrate their first anniversary. Congratulations, Riptide!
Let's give the stage to Aleks, who brought some great prizes to win for you and has some interesting things to say about the developments in the M/M genre.
Thanks for joining us on the Riptide Publishing First Anniversary Blog Hop Bash! All month long, we’re bringing you guest posts and interviews from your favorite authors, artists, and Riptide staff. As a thank you for helping us celebrate, we’re also giving away $10 in Riptide store credit to one lucky commenter at every stop! Simply leave a comment below by 11:59pm on Sunday, October 7th to enter. Be sure to check out our complete tour schedule to find out where else you can enter to win—one Grand Prize winner drawn from commenters at all the stops will also win a Kindle that we’ll load with every book we publish in 2013!
Plus, check out our anniversary sale—All October long, backlist titles are 15%-50% off!
Today, we have a guest post from author Aleksandr Voinov:
2012 – What a year it has been!
They say you shouldn’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, but we’re close enough to the end of the year that we can at least do a (very) cursory headcount. About a year ago, Rarely Dusty Books asked me for a post on where I saw the genre going; so let’s see how well my crystal ball worked. Here’s the old post >>
Here are my predictions:
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.
I got that one wrong, or rather, it came with a twist. Several big m/m writers never submitted to publishers in the first place and started out self-publishing. Dani Alexander, Vicktor Alexander (clearly something magic about that name!), and Daniel A Kaine all went directly through Amazon and seem to be doing all right in terms of sales and popularity. Compared to other new guys starting out with a traditional m/m publisher, they certainly don’t seem to be at a disadvantage. So, that change is being carried, apparently, by newcomers. Who would have thought.
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”).
I think I got that one right. I’ve been privy to discussions on an unofficial author loop where a large amount of authors complained of their contract terms and swore to rather disembowel themselves with a spork than to ever again sign the legal equivalent of a loving knuckle sandwich. Authors wisen up slowly, but when they do, things get interesting. Anecdotally, I’ve been approached by three different authors in the last month or so to advise them on their contracts, which is a great deal more requests than I normally get. Most of those contracts were as author-friendly as a shiv in the balls, so some publishers are still trying to pull stunts.
3) All other things being more or less equal, editing and good covers are becoming more important.
I stand by that, as that’s the feedback I’m hearing from “our” authors. Regardless of recent bleating in the mainstream press about how e-books are killing cover art (really? I mean, REALLY?), covers remain important and authors are aware of that. Even the self-published authors in our genre are hiring editors, so editing is important and will remain important to deliver a good book. I’ve recently heard rumours that one of the big m/m publishers is cleaning up their act in terms of editing after a huge amount of negative feedback from, bloggers and reviewers about slipping standards. I can’t vouch for the veracity of these rumours, but anecdotes from several sides seem to support my theory.
4) Quality control will get more and more important.
Right now, I struggle to find evidence for that. Maybe it’s my optimistic nature that made me write that, but, to be honest, I think I’m seeing just about as many badly-edited and badly-written books as I used to. I hope I’m wrong, and I’m optimistic that we’re all trying to make the genre a place with more quality books that are written well and packaged and marketed well.
What struck me in the last 12 months or so, BTW, was the assertion that readers are getting tired of naked torso covers. I bet we’ve all seen the kind of cover that’s on the Fifty Shades Trilogy: not one semi-naked bosom, not one naked torso anywhere in sight.
Right now, there’s a flurry of rebranding going on, as het erotic titles are stripped of their lurid bodice-ripper images and made to resemble the Fifty Shades trilogy as closely as possible. While I’m already getting tired of the now omnipresent minimalist black cover with one single suggestive item on them, it’s much easier on my eyes overall, so I’m applauding that at least. I do wonder when the m/m romance/erotic romance genre takes a leaf out of that particular book, but we’ll see. Right now, there’s no scarcity of mutilated torsos.
Another thing I saw happening this year (again, it’s anecdotal). I attended the UK GLBTQ Meet in Brighton a few weeks ago, which was organized and run by UK-based m/m writers, and featured guests from the States (like Jordan Castillo Price). And despite all the envy and jealousy and back-biting I’ve seen in the genre (and which is definitely its ugliest aspect at times), the meeting, seeing people face-to-face and coming together for a shared purpose really, in my book, made an enormous difference.
I think maybe the nasty people are just louder or so disruptive that they drone out the vast sense of comradeship and mutual support that is also in the genre, and, I daresay, more pervasive and powerful than our few toxic black sheep. Well, the nasty people didn’t attend, and what was left was a large room full of writers, bloggers and even that rare species, readers, who talked, laughed, networked and overall had a great time.
While Europe (and I count the UK as part of that) is a little behind the US in organizing our “scene”, I do feel that the meeting galvanized the Europeans quite considerably, and I’m curious what that will bring. We’re definitely onto something good here, and we now have a strong basis on which to build. We at Riptide are definitely glad to be part of this and support it any way we can. I can only imagine that it’s going to grow and prosper from here.
On to an even more awesome 2013!