Sunday, December 4, 2011

I, Publisher

This week, Ross and I become publishers.

Thursday, December 8, is the release date for Tara Buckley's first erotic novella, The Realm of You. In it, Tara looks at the ways communication in a marriage can get derailed by assumptions. Oh, and there's lots of kinky sex.

I am not Tara Buckley. To explain how I've come to be Tara's publisher, I have to back up and explain about getting rejected a lot.

In 2010, when my writing actually sucked, I minded the rejections. This year, my writing is pretty good and getting better. More importantly, I'm writing the sort of books I want to read. They just happen not to be the sort of books agents want to flog to editors, or that editors want to publish.

None of that means that there aren't a lot of other people who'd enjoy my books. At least two of my rejections started, "I love [the characters, the set-up, the dialogue, etc.]" and ended with "I just don't think [there's enough conflict, it can succeed in the market, etc.]." I take that to mean that even the odd agent or editor enjoyed my work, but didn't think it could succeed in a tight, competitive industry.

These rejections don't bother me any more. Last summer, I made a deal with Ross: I'd query everyone I could think of. By the end of the year, if I hadn't gotten an agent, we'd self-publish in 2012. I've sent out about 50 queries and, counting the no replies as "no, thank you," I've gotten about 50 rejections. Time to self-publish.

The more we talked about it, the more Ross and I realized this was a good fit. I could do the social media and some of the marketing (as well as write the books--or as we like to call it, "create content") and Ross could do all the formatting necessary for the three platforms: PRC (for Amazon's Kindle), EPUB (for B&N's Nook) and a modified DOC file (for Smashwords, which serves most other devices). Plus, as a former lawyer, I could handle the quasi-legal aspects of starting a business in Pennsylvania while Ross, who has had his own business(es) for decades, knows more about the corporate side of things.

That left two of the traditional roles of publishing to outsource: editing and graphic design. We're probably going to use a freelance editor who used to work for Silhouette for my novels, and we've used Heather C. Paye for our website banner and some cover art.

Which brings me to Tara. Tara Buckley is the pseudonym of a talented writer who wrote a BDSM erotic novella in her "spare" time. I offered to read it, and loved it. Tara was going to self-publish but hesitated because, you know, the whole business with Judy Mays getting slammed by some parents in the school district where Judy teaches English rather demonstrated that outing oneself as an author of erotica isn't always wise.

Harmony Road Press to the rescue. Ross and I offered to publish Tara's novella. That led to another writer thinking this sounded like a good idea, so Christina Thacher's BDSM novella, The Locked Heart, about a young woman whose sex life will never be the same after a chance encounter in an airport hotel bar is due to be released on December 15.

Meanwhile, for various reasons my own writing isn't likely to be ready until late spring 2012. So for a few months, Harmony Road Press is publishing erotica--really well-written erotica. If this takes off, it could be we have to start a different company to publish my legal romances. I mean, they have sex in them, but they could seem like flat beer next to the heady concoctions Tara and Christina have served up.

Just like that, I've gone from worrying about story structure and character development to learning about metadata, frontmatter, and the delicate minuet one performs to market a book without seeming to be shoving it down people's throats. I knew I'd have to learn this stuff when it was my work I was flogging enthusing about, but while it's easier to rave about someone else's stories, it's scarier to feel responsible as the publisher for a book's release.

I'm incredibly lucky to be working with Tara and Christina, who are both busy professional women with full lives and a sense of perspective. (Also a sense of the absurd, a very useful perspective when dealing with a neophyte like me.) Most of all, I'm floored by how gifted my husband is. He's figured out all sorts of tricks and shortcuts to making Harmony Road's books look right. If you like the table of contents or the progress bar at the bottom of a Harmony Road book for the Kindle, for example, that's all Ross.

If you like the books themselves, credit Tara's and Christina's hard work and deft touch with the kink.

And if you find any errors, let me know. We've all worked hard to put out great stories in a professional fashion, but mistakes can still happen.


  1. Magdalen
    Well! Congrats to you and Ross on the birth of your publishing business. Yay!!!!!(picture Kermit waving his arms)--Way to go!
    I am wishing you all the best--


  2. Thanks, Barb.

    I realize (with a blush) that it'll be a few months before Harmony Road Press publishes anything that a "Betty" wants to read, but I'll keep you posted with that progress as well.

  3. Hey Magdalen--
    This 'Betty' doesn't mind those trips to Brighton at all. (I quite enjoy Julie James' smart lawyer books--so I am expecting to enjoy yours). The serious kink is not usually to my taste--but hey, that's okay, too.

    As you know quite well, most readers read widely, so y'all should do well.


    ps Please don't desert the Bettys--we always enjoy your comments.

  4. Best of luck to you and Ross for your new venture!

  5. That's awesome! I can't wait to hear more about what it's like being a publisher. :)


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