Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All About Ravenous Romance

As most of you know by now, LUST BITES will be coming to an end soon. What's next for Jamaica Layne, you may wonder? Well, I'll be writing for an exciting new erotic epublisher, Ravenous Romance. Exciting why? Because unlike most of the other startup erotic epublishers out there, Ravenous was founded by a group of seasoned US print publishing executives, along with legendary literary agent Lori Perkins. In addition to a combined forty-odd years' experience in traditional publishing, the folks at Ravenous have startup venture capital and a very successful PR firm at their disposal----along with a distinguished stable of authors, several of whom are New York Times bestselling authors in other genres. Even more impressive, Ravenous has already built this set of credentials before they launch next Monday, December 1st with their first set of books and stories.

How do they do it, you might ask?

Well, first let me tell you a little bit about the books I'll have out from Ravenous beginning next month.

I've Been A Naughty Nurse, Volume 1 of the VITAL SIGNS series, will release on December 7. VITAL SIGNS can best be described as Gray's Anatomy with the sex left in! There are currently five books slated for the series, with new titles set to come out approximately every three months. No more waiting a year or more between print titles!

My other upcoming novel for Ravenous will be Knight Moves, an erotic time-travel romance. The heroine is a toll collector for the New Jersey Turnpike who just happens to get caught up in a time-vortex trap that sends her back in time to twelfth-century England, where she is made to work as a concubine in a powerful knight's castle. She learns to make the best of a bad situation, though, and not only has a grand old time, she falls in love with a fellow time-travel prisoner, foils her captors and manages to get herself---and her newfound love---back to their own century.

I've been very impressed with how professional and well-administered this new erotic epublisher is behind the scenes----but what about you, the reading public? I'm sure all our Lust Bites readers will be interested in just how this new publisher will distinguish itself, so I recently sat down for an interview with Holly Schmidt, one of Ravenous' founding partners and it's editor-in-chief.

Jamaica Layne: What is your prior publishing background? Why did you decide to start Ravenous?

Holly Schmidt: My publishing background is in non-fiction. I started my career at Rodale, where I ran the book clubs, then moved on to be Publisher of Fair Winds Press, a division of London-based Quarto Group, Inc. While I was there, I launched the Quiver sex imprint. Then I left to start my own book packaging company with an exclusive contract with Sterling Publishing, which is owned by Barnes and Noble. After 15 years in print publishing, I knew the time was right to make the leap into digital publishing, and (my longtime business partner) Allan Penn and I were exploring the romance genre about the same time legendary literary agent Lori Perkins contacted us with an idea for starting a new company. We hatched the Ravenous idea, researched and developed a business plan, were lucky enough to have the advice of great consultants from inside the e-book industry, and the rest is history.

Jamaica Layne: There are a lot of erotica e-presses out there. What will distiguish Ravenous from the pack?
Holly Schmidt: Look at how many print publishers there are. Look at how many Chinese restaurants there are. Generally, when there is a lot of competition, it means the market is viable. I would be much more worried if there weren't a lot of other e-presses. That said, it can also mean that the barrier to entry is low, which generally means the barrier to success is high. We will be distinguished by our product mix (audio, short stories, as well as novels), our pricing, our marketing, our visuals, and ultimately, the quality of our material and retail interface. I think, when we launch, it will be pretty clear how we're different.

Jamaica Layne: What can erotica readers expect from Ravenous? Will there be a unique"feel" to Ravenous books?
Holly Schmidt: Since Lori Perkins and I both have strong editorial backgrounds, our books are characterized by well-edited good writing. I'm not saying all of our books will win the Pulitzer, but you won't find a lot of sloppy passive voice or other amateur constructions in our work. Also, our books are story-driven. The sex scenes are certainly there, but they aren't the point of the books. The point is the love story, and the sex exists to further the plot and character development. We are also publishing some well-known authors who come from outside the romance genre, and they bring a different perspective as well.

Jamaica Layne: A lot of erotica writers read Lust Bites. What are you looking for from writers who want to submit to Ravenous?
Holly Schmidt:We're looking for creativity and good writing. Beyond that, we will consider all types of erotic romance. We don't publish straight erotica--there has to be a love story.

Jamaica Layne: I know Ravenous is releasing all its titles in both written ebook form as well as audio ebook simultaneously, which is unusual. What can you tell us about Ravenous' audiobooks?
Holly Schmidt: We're really excited about our audiobooks. They're being produced by the top audiobook production company in the U.S., who does work for Audible and the major NY trade houses. They're being narrated by professional actors, and they are of terrific quality. I think the audiobooks will bring this type of content to an entirely different customer, and will help to broaden the genre. It's been fun to hear from the narrators how much they enjoy the books, too!

Jamaica Layne: There seems to be a lot of mainstream media interest in the Ravenous launch. Can you tell us about that?
Holly Schmidt: We've been pleased with the response we've had so far, especially considering the website isn't live yet. We hope the buzz continues post-launch.

Jamaica Layne: How will Ravenous appeal not just to existing romance and erotica readers, but to a broader market as well?
Holly Schmidt: I think that our books, with a few exceptions, like the male/male and kinky ones, are pretty mainstream. They are very, very sexy and steamy, but they are great stories first and foremost. I think we'll attract a customer who might not think of herself as an "erotic romance" buyer, but who likes a good love story. And, ultimately, who doesn't? We have a number of well-known cross-genre authors who will bring a completely different readership to Ravenous, and we hope, will help increase the visibility and credibility of the erotic romance genre as a whole.

Jamaica Layne: Anything else you'd like to add?
Holly Schmidt: I think this business is ready to move beyond the wild-frontier stage. Ebook and digital audiobook sales are exploding, and print publishing is dying. I predict that in five years, the major retail chains (the ones left standing, that is) will have drastically cut their inventories, and will stock mainly best-sellers. Publishing will go from producing 150,000 books per year to 75,000, and it will be very difficult for new and midlist voices to be heard. I hope we can offer these talented writers a successful outlet for their work, one that offers an opportunity for creativity and keeps working writers working, without the environmental waste and exploding costs of print publishing.


Madeline Moore said...

Congratulations on the new e-publishing venture, Ravenous Romance folks! With such stellar people working on it, RR should be a big success.

I admit, I hate to see the demise of print books forecast, although the new 'Kindle' technology just may be the thing that seals the deal. I could never do my reading staring up at a screen, but with a Kindle in hand, I can certainly see making the transition. That's as a reader. Now, can I make the transition as a writer? We shall see...

Janine Ashbless said...

Congratulations Jamaica on this exciting new venture! - and good luck with Ravenous Romance. You made contact with Lori Perkins at exactly the right moment by the looks of things.

Now I'm going to hide under the bed and have a panic attack:
Publishing will go from producing 150,000 books per year to 75,000, and it will be very difficult for new and midlist voices to be heard.


Kate Pearce said...

It will be interesting to see how Ravenous Romance gets along! I've heard a lot about them.

I'm not sure I think the print book market will shrink quite so rapidly as that. But I definitely think it will shrink, I still like a real book in my hand but I suspect in 20 years I'll be in a minority. :)

Congrats Jamaica!

Janine Ashbless said...

Yes, you're editing a couple of short story anthologies for RR too, aren't you Jamaica?

Is editing a new venture for you?

Jamaica Layne said...

Editing erotica is indeed a new venture, but I worked as a professional editor in other areas for many years. There's still time to submit to both anthologies I'm editing (though Sex & Politics subs close Dec. 1)

Lil said...

Ravenous Romance sounds great. Looking forward to learning more about them and their books. I love print books but must say that the ebooks are terribly convenient to lug around when travelling.

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