E-books and the Romance Field

E-books and the 
Romance Field

By Anne M. Marble

©2001, Anne M. Marble  

Many people love writing fantasy, futuristic, paranormal, and Gothic romances, but few print publishers want to take a chance on those genres. Likewise, fans of these genres have a tough time finding new books in these fields. Is there a solution? Luckily, many independent e-book publishers specialize in romance. These e-publishers relish romances that fall outside of genre boundaries.


If your romance novel is something that's a bit different, or even a lot different, it just might fit in as an e-book. E-book publishers specializing in romance have put out everything from stories about ghosts, elves, and vampires finding love to romances about disabled individuals. Chances are that if your book doesn't fit the New York guidelines, you'll find an e-book publisher willing to take a chance on it.


This isn't to say that e-books are a "romantic paradise" for writers. As an e-book author, you will face four main problems: editing, publicity, reputation, and money.


Editing--E-books don't always receive the same level of editing as books put out by paper-based publishers. Readers often complain that the e-books they downloaded were riddled with errors. Sometimes the publishers don't provide editing at all. Also, the editing may not be up to typical standards. I recently found this sentence on the web site of an e-publisher. "We want to insure that the work is as free of structural, grammatical, and spelling and usage errors as is humanly possible." Uhm, the word should be ensure, not insure. See what I mean?


Publicity--Your e-book won't be given much publicity, unless you're an established author. Most likely, you will have to generate publicity on your own. (That can have its drawbacks. Some fans quickly tire of authors who promote themselves on-line all the time.) 


Reputation--If you publish an e-book, some people will assume that's because you aren't ready for prime time yet. While there are some great e-books out there, there are stinkers as well. Because of bad experiences in the past, (many?) reviewers are reluctant to review e-books. Two of the major romance review sites do not accept e-books for review.  


Money-- You won't make a lot of money by becoming an e-book author. Heck, you will make very little. Don't expect an advance, and don't expect to sell many copies. There have been cases where someone sold only a few dozen copies of an e-book. 


The e-book field is a wild frontier. Like any wild frontier, snake oil salesmen sometimes amble into town. Investigate e-publishers very carefully before signing up with them. If a publisher wants to charge you a fee, run away! Besides avoiding fees like the plague, read up on contracts. (For advice on contracts, check out http://www.sfwa.org/contracts/.) The contracts of some e-publishers sound as though they were created by greedy lawyers on acid. 


Bad web sites happen to good e-publishers. Examine the publisher's site thoroughly before you even think of sending your manuscript to them. Don't trust your e-books with a publisher whose web site looks as if it was designed by a someone who just learned how to use HTML. Badly designed sites keep people from finding and buying your book. 


Getting accepted isn't all that easy, either. Despite popular misconceptions, many e-publishers are selective. Be sure to read the guidelines! Also, e-publishers cope with limited staffing. They become overstocked on a regular basis. Right now, Hard Shell Word Factor and Awe-Struck Publishing are temporarily closed to submissions. Response times among other e-publishers are becoming slower as well. 


Still, if you do publish an e-book, you have the chance to win over some of the most loyal fans in the romance genre. Maybe we'll see you on the virtual bookshelf in the future. 


A Selection of E-Publishers 


Here is a sampling of independent e-publishers that publish romance novels. 


Awe-struck Ebooks




Awe-struck publishes romances in a plethora of categories, ranging from contemporary romance to futuristics. One of the specialized lines available here is the Ennoble line of romances, which features heroes with disabilities. They publish in other genres, including mainstream fiction and nonfiction. 




Publishing http://www.diskuspublishing.com/


Here is another pioneer of e-publishing. Besides romance, they publish most other genres of fiction, as well as some nonfiction. 


Dreams Unlimited




This publisher specializes in paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, and erotic romances. While they have branched out into horror, most of their titles are in the romance genre 


Hard Shell Word Factory




This publisher was established in 1996, so that makes them veterans in the field of e-publishing. They publish many subgenres of romance, but they are branching out into other fields as well. 


New Concepts Publishing




Like Hard Shell Word Factory, this company was also founded in 1996. They publish romances as well as cross-over books such as romantic fantasy novels. 


Romance Foretold, Inc.



This company has three imprints -- Starlight Writer Publications, Darkstar Publications, and Pulsar Books. Through Starlight Writer, they publish historical, contemporary, and Regency romance, Gothics and romantic suspense, and horror. Within the other imprints, they publish books in other genres as well as cross-over books such as dark fantasy romances.