Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kibbles and Bits.

I'm all Ranty McRantyPants this week. Mostly due to the foolishness of OTHERS. You know...OTHERS? Those people with whom you and I don't agree? While skipping through the blogosphere, I'm forced to occasionally soften my diatribes with stuff like, "in my opinion" and "of course, your mileage may vary," and "this is pure subjectivity on my part." But here? In my own little pit of Snotty McArrogance? I'm all about the "This is how it IS, bitches. Get real or get gone."

Christ, I just quoted Dr. Phil. Somebody pass the hemlock, stat.

First? The unholy battle against reality being waged by Romantic Times Book Reviews. I won't bother to link, because if you aren't already conversant on the topic, it's pretty much a lost cause. You could catch up if you really tried, but I don't want to be the one who enables you.

ANYWAY...what I want to know is this: is it really just coincidence that the two epublishers with which I'm currently most closely associated (Phaze and Amber Quill Press) have just put out their April bestseller lists, and BOTH of them are dominated by M/M and M/M/F romance? Seriously. In Phaze's case, five out of ten titles on the list are M/M, and two are M/M/F. Over at Amber Heat, the erotic imprint of Amber Quill, seven out of ten are M/M, and one is M/M/F.

So am I to assume that this is an anomaly? That only these two pubs are selling gay and bi romance like pervy hotcakes? Because that's what I'd pretty much have to believe if I bought the Romantic Times' claim that there just isn't any audience in their print magazine for this kind of fiction.

Of course, I'd also have to buy that there's a significant difference in the numbers between their print subscribers and their online community. Which -- I don't. I've never seen any indication of it, and I've been a subscriber and an online lurker for a while.

And please -- the print magazine audience would be offended by reviews, but AREN'T offended by black and white and full-color ads featuring men groping each other? These ads generate sales, btw. So the audience IS there. Somebody is either lying through her teeth, or woefully ignorant about current markets.

Some people have asked why M/M writers don't just take their marbles and go home if RT is going to be so painfully assinine* in its behavior. I say that's not how change happens. You don't slink away from idiocy like this -- you confront it, as oppressed minorities have been doing for centuries.

Second: the proposed new Rita guidelines. My buddy Barbara Caridad Ferrer -- DOUBLE Rita finalist for her debut YA novel, ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE -- has a rant of her own on this subject that differs from a few others I've seen having to do with the outcry over explicit sex being allowed in YA Rita submissions. Go read that.

I left this comment on said post:

"I've never, ever understood why people get so squeamish about the idea of teens knowing about/reading about sex, even amongst their peers. The idea that if they KNOW about it, they'll DO it...wow, gang. They're doing it ANYWAY. And have been...pretty much forever.

I recently read a survey of people born between 1935 and 1945 -- my mother's generation, in other words. Over 80% of the female respondents said they indulged in premarital sex back when they were young. Seriously young, given the average age for marriage (for a woman) back then was around twenty.

They did it, and they lied about it, because they didn't want to get in trouble. But nothing much has changed from that day to this in terms of sexual experimentation amoung teens. We're just more open about it.

Good novels that reflect the reality of teenaged life in America...the REAL reality, not the sugar-coated pablum preferred by many, or the Paris Hilton-esque Gossip Girls exploitation...can only serve to elevate the genre. And a frank discussion of teen sexuality is part of that reality. Especially if in includes the pros and cons of sexual experience, and doesn't turn into a preachy diatribe that kids WON'T READ OR TAKE SERIOUSLY ANYWAY.

No, I don't want my daughter or sons to have sex before they're ready. But I'm not the only arbiter of "readiness," and I'd like to be able to point them to some good fiction, complete with characters and situations they can relate to, when the time comes."

* * *

Okay, that's it for the Ranty. Now looky here: Coffee Time Romance reviews SKIN DEEP.

"Thrilling and beautiful." Yeah, I'll take that. :)

And finally, in case anyone is wondering? THIS is what double-Rita-nominees chat about with their crit partners on IM when they're supposed to be working on their newest proposals:

Her: "I just casually used the words "glittery va-jay-jay" in conversation with my husband and he spit out, 'WHAT??' "

Me: "Tell him it's also known as the Magical HooHoo." (TM Eva Gale 2007)

Her: "Well yes. He knows of the Magical HooHoo."

Me: "Ah. Well, they're synonymous."

Her: "This is what I told him."

Me: "Yes. Glittery va-jay-jay is to Magical HooHoo as Rottweiler is to big-ass dog."

Her: "Exactly."

Yes, that's right. DOUBLE Rita finalist and her esteemed crit partner. TREMBLE IN AWE, people.


*No, this misspelling wasn't deliberate. But I'm leaving it, because it made Barb laugh. :p

Edited to add...check this out. It made me snort coffee through my nose. But I'm taking a great deal of joy in the misfortune of others this week (for "others," read "persons in need of a full-time keeper") and will likely be sorry when Karma comes around and kicks me in the ass.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

16Comments:

Anonymous Barb said...

Well, now you've gone and done it Ollie. Our street cred is completely blown.

Wait.

Never mind.

Carry on.

And about the misspelling, you have to admit, it's a Freudian slip of the most divine, pet. I think your subconscious was trying to tell you something.

5/08/2007 8:57 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Tell me what? That I secretly believe whomever came up with and is still touting the "there's no audience at RT for M/M romance" is an ass?

I'm thinking...not so much with the secret, pet.

Seriously.

5/08/2007 9:00 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

*pokes her toe into the room*

First, let me say that I agree. (I also think that many women will not admit to liking m/m so the #'s may be higher than what was even given)

Second (and I'm going to misspell something Barb so watch out *g*) I have one point of contention in reference to RT. And it might be moot, but my mouth is big enough for both feet.

From the persepctive of a private business owner, it's RT's right to review and not review what they want.

Do I think thay have an ulterior motive with all that "My best friends are gay" crapola? Yes, I think they're hedging the #s in their favor.

I really hate it when people demand things of a privately held Co, because in a way, it's being hypocritical. (we all want freedom, no?)

If I were them, I might not want the fracas that m/m reviews might bring. It's a lot to add on and maybe they aren't ready for the growth. Maybe the $ for the growth is more than the revenue it will bring in. Maybe between the pissed off buyers (and there will be-there always is) and the extra reviewers and pages they'll have to add, it's not worth it. Who knows. What I am pretty sure of is that the majority of readers of RT are not online. I know, hard to wrap your head around, but last time I checked, they're not.

The only way to really find out is to have an anon paper/online ballot, and maybe that would tip the scales in the reviews favor. The only way you are going to get a privately held co to change it's procedures is the show them the $.

Now, if RT is NOT privately held, then let the ass whipping begin.

OK, just let the ass whipping begin.

5/08/2007 10:08 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

I think RT IS privately held. And I absolutely agree that they have the right to review whatever they please.

My problem is this: don't go around spewing crap about how you give your undying support to female authors/editors/publishers and epresses and then withhold that support when they write/edit/publish something that doesn't meet an artificial criteria. And it IS an artificial criteria. "Gay romance is to romantic fiction as Yoga is to NASCAR"? Please.

Step up and tell the truth. "We won't review it because we're afraid of the bigots coming out of hte woodwork and boycotting."

I could respect that honesty, even if I feel it's an over-all cowardly stance. Hypocrisy and denial get no respect.

As for there being a huge discrepancy between online and print readers of the magazine...okay. I'll take your word for it. But answer me this -- if there's such a big discrepancy, then why publish reviews of ebooks at all? If the readership is primarily print, one can assume they buy primarily print books, right?

I'm tellin' ya, Eva. Something is fishy in this explanation. I'm not buying it.

But I don't have to. A privately owned company will only go where the money is, as you pointed out. And they have our money -- the money of those M/M authors who choose to advertise even without the review, because those ads sell books.

No incentive to change that I can see, and as good an excuse as any to keep right on bending the truth about their reasons.

5/08/2007 11:05 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

"But answer me this -- if there's such a big discrepancy, then why publish reviews of ebooks at all? If the readership is primarily print, one can assume they buy primarily print books, right?"

Because they're in bed with EC-the future is e-books. I have no idea why the psychic line of EC is such a surprise, it was publicized a long time ago, and as soon as it was I put two and two together. If I were Kathryn, I would have done the same. She saw a hole in the genre, and she's filling it herself.

And they (RT subscribers) do buy primarily print books. But to stay current, you have to follow the cheese. See where the growth will be and meet it, that's how you stay ahead of the pack.

5/08/2007 11:44 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

They can't say the truth, because if they do-the bigots will boycott because they were called out on the carpet and they'll boycott anyway. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

5/08/2007 11:45 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

And they (RT subscribers) do buy primarily print books. But to stay current, you have to follow the cheese. See where the growth will be and meet it, that's how you stay ahead of the pack.

Exactly. And right now, what's selling most in ebooks? BDSM, menage and....M/M. I guess there's only so far they're willing to follow the money?

They can't say the truth, because if they do-the bigots will boycott because they were called out on the carpet and they'll boycott anyway. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Yes. Having an actual backbone -- the courage of your convictions, not just a lot of hot air about support and "sisterhood" -- frequently means making a sacrifice somewhere. Which we both know from painful experience, don't we, pet?

5/08/2007 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Barb said...

Yes. Having an actual backbone -- the courage of your convictions, not just a lot of hot air about support and "sisterhood" -- frequently means making a sacrifice somewhere.

Backbone? Courage of your convictions? RT?

One of these things is not like the other.

I'm fairly certain they are privately owned and as such, can do whatever the hell they want and can delineate their sandbox however they want. However, I resent their continued implication that the readers of the magazine/online site are, you know, halfwits. Because if there's anything that gets my dainties in a twist, it's anyone thinking I'm stupid. Especially when what's coming out of their mouths is complete and utter doublespeak crap.

Oh, and about that Yoga/NASCAR analogy? I've heard that some of the drivers have taken up yoga-- helps with endurance and cuts down on muscle spasms in the close confines of the cockpits.

Imagine that-- flexibility!

5/09/2007 8:58 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Heh. I'd Google that and email the link to Carol Stacy, but I understand that after she told Jane she was open to private conversation on the topic, she quit answering emails.

Hey, she's a busy woman. Fires to put out all over the place, starting with the owner of magazine, whose hair is currently ABLAZE.

5/09/2007 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

Fires to put out all over the place, starting with the owner of magazine, whose hair is currently ABLAZE.

Now there's an image I didn't need before the comments kicked in. If you stare at her too long do you turn to stone?

(Yes, yes, I know that's snakes, but work with me, here.)

5/09/2007 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

Before the COFFEE kicked in.

See what the imagery did to me???

5/09/2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

"Exactly. And right now, what's selling most in ebooks? BDSM, menage and....M/M. I guess there's only so far they're willing to follow the money?"

Yes, that is selling most in e-books, but not print, and most of their subscribers purchase RT for the print reviews.

There is a large disconnect between the online romance community, and the sales of paperbacks. That is why there are MANY authors who never go to chats, blah blah blah. It's not worth their time, that's not where the readership is.

I'll find the #'s on it.

And again, I don't agree with what they're doing at all, but I see why they're doing it.

5/09/2007 10:04 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Yes, that is selling most in e-books, but not print, and most of their subscribers purchase RT for the print reviews.

Okay, this is where I get lost.

If the rationale for not reviewing M/M is that most most subscribers purchase RT for the reviews of printed books, and M/M is mostly available online...

...then again...why publish ANY ebook reviews?

Answer: Because there's still a significant number of subscribers that read and want them.

So if they're going to publish ebook reviews, then why leave out one of the most lucrative sub-genres?

Answer: They're caving to outside pressure from idiots who can't live and let live.

I get that. I get why they might cave. I'm not happy about it, but I get it.

But to say it's because the audience isn't there is inaccurate. If the audience is there for erotic ebooks -- and it must be, or they wouldn't review them, right? -- then the audience is there for M/M erotic ebooks, because that's one of the top-selling sub-genres.

It's like saying...

We sell apples and oranges. Most of our customers buy oranges, but we get enough income from the folks who like apples that we'll continue to sell those, too.

All signs point to Granny Smith apples being VERY popular with people who buy our apples. But we don't sell Granny Smith because people who buy oranges won't buy them.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR APPLE CUSTOMERS??? THEY buy them. What's the point of selling apples AT ALL if you're not going to sell the apples your customers WANT MOST??

Answer: They caved. As is their right.

And it's my right to call them hypocritical cowards for doing it.

That said...you know I still totally love you, right? ;)

5/09/2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

It's not that they won't be purchased, it's WILL THE REVENUE LOST (from the bigots-which IS their base) added to the $ lost adding reviewers/add space/printing and mailing costs balance the scales by what they gain.

They might need a few more years to make up those #'s. This is a fairly 'new' sub genre (i know it's been around forever, but it's new to mainstream) and coughing up $ to put behind the new kid on the block is risky. Especially when the majority of your base is in the central US, not the coasts.

Again, just a theory. When I get some time I'll look at $ #'s.

5/09/2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

It's not that they won't be purchased, it's WILL THE REVENUE LOST (from the bigots-which IS their base) added to the $ lost adding reviewers/add space/printing and mailing costs balance the scales by what they gain.

You know, if they'd come out and say that? I'd at least feel like they didn't think I was too stupid to know that M/M is selling. To THEIR readership. Maybe not the ones who only buy print, but the OTHER ones, whom they use to justify reviewing ebooks in the first place.

But that's not what RT is saying. They're saying they won't publish the reviews because there's no audience. And I find that statement -- a falsehood told to cover their asses at the expense of the authors and publishers Kathryn Falk CLAIMS to support -- offensive. I don't much care to be lied to by anyone.

Do I believe they'll lose revenue if they publish the reviews? Well, why is it okay to publish the ads -- images of men literally groping each other on the covers of the books? Won't THAT lose them revenue, too? Or maybe not enough to matter, since they're GAINING revenue from the sale of ad space.

So, to sum up...RT is afraid to publish M/M reviews. They're also afraid to tell the truth about WHY they won't publish M/M reviews. But they'll take the money of M/M authors because it balances the revenue lost by publishing the ads -- all while continuing to tell us there isn't a audience within their print readership for our work. Lying to us. And being shocked and dismayed when we refuse to buy the lie.

Yeah, I know, it's business. But I'm allowed to be disgusted by the total lack of integrity here.

And I guess maybe I'm a little bit in denial. I don't want to believe that majority of the romance-reading population is THAT full of ignorance and hatred for gay people. Because that's what it comes down to, doesn't it? Where all the fear originates?

Like I said when this story broke, the whole thing makes me a little nauseated.

5/09/2007 12:32 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

"But that's not what RT is saying. They're saying they won't publish the reviews because there's no audience. And I find that statement -- a falsehood told to cover their asses at the expense of the authors and publishers Kathryn Falk CLAIMS to support -- offensive. I don't much care to be lied to by anyone."

Isn't that the way it is with everything though? From school councils to politics to medicine to ---everything?? What is said to pacify and what the real motivations are? All little shadows of the truth?

It all comes down to, "Do you love me?"

Meaning, actions speak louder, in all cases.

We just need to keep making the point. Eventually Erotica started getting reviewed despite the outraged cries. BUT it was when they realized that the floodgates of NY opened. (Aphrodisia, Spice--etc.)

5/09/2007 2:16 PM  

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