by Donna George Storey
I’m always amused when I see erotica writing workshops that advertise the potential for big money in our genre. More power to those who’ve gotten rich, and there are some out there, aren’t there, E.L. James? But most of us are doing this for love and the occasional check for the amount of a modest family dinner at the local Thai restaurant (without the tip).
Actually, I tend to take a familial attitude toward my writing, as if my stories and novels are my children and deserve my best, if imperfect, efforts at nurture and support. Two recent columns here, Lisabet Sarai’s “The Care and Feeding of Your Back List,” and Elizabeth Black’s “Preparing for the Publication of a New Novel” reminded me that I have not been as attentive a parent as I should be.
Namely, I have several dozen previously published short stories in my archive that I would like to re-issue in themed ebook collections. I managed to drum up the energy to find a new publisher for my novel, Amorous Woman, when I got the rights back from the original publisher, but I haven’t gotten it up to move beyond a list of tables of contents for my collections. But Lisabet is right. I should be doing more for these “children” in the digital age.
Part of my reluctance can be explained by Elizabeth’s thorough list of what an author needs to do to promote her work. I’ve been down that path for my novel. It was exhausting, even though I did meet some wonderful people and had some very cool adventures. But how do you promote collections of previously published short stories? And won’t they all just be relegated to the erotica desert on Amazon?
With the New Year close at hand, I figured this is a good time to resolve to do something this year with my back list, but I am wary of the realities of publishing. Larger publishers are prestigious, but in my experience, they’ve dropped the ball on promotion and take a much larger cut of the proceeds, even if I could get their interest (highly unlikely).
My preference would be a smaller publisher, but there are horror stories out there about author abuse and publishers melting into the dew, resulting in a hassle to get the rights back. Then there is self-publishing which takes the stress from the submission process and puts the responsibility for promotion all in one place.
No one said this is easy, but… is there any erotica writer out there who’s been happy with her choices? What do you think about the trade-off between a small publisher or self-publishing? I really would love to dialogue with my fellow erotica writers about these choices in the current market. It seems the pro’s and con’s are changing every day. Erotica publishing is not at all what is was when I started writing in 1997 (when Libido and Yellow Silk were still around) nor when I reached a peak of output in the mid-2000s (Bay-Area-based Cleis, Seal, Best Mammoth Erotica, Best American Erotica and Clean Sheets).
It is so valuable to share our experiences of publishing, especially in terms of how the reality is very different from the dream of publication as a path to validation and riches.
Although come to think of it, some of the most validating moments of my life have been when a reader tells me she loved one of my stories. That’s worth millions to me.
Wishing you all a happy, productive and creative New Year!
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com