Continuing where I left off with my dynamic guest, let’s get to it:
You recently signed with the Corvisiero Agency, last winter I believe? How has your experience with an agent been different than without one?
Much less frantic! I did it right at the New Year.
Signing with Saritza (Hernandez) at Corvisiero gave me someone to handle all the little things that I’d never think of or never have the time to manage. S’funny… she didn’t “hustle” me to get me signed. We had talked on and off socially, back before I thought an agent for romance fiction made much sense. And then there came this point when I was wading through hundreds of emails in a day and starting to lose track of what needed my focus at any given moment. I have a bad habit of saying yes to too much because I always figure I can sleep or eat later. Bad for my sanity and bad for writing!
THAT is what Sary does for me. She handles the details and helps direct my focus mindfully. One of the greatest things she did before I signed was present a battleplan for what she could do for me in particular. Every writer is different, every agent ditto. And having an agent that partners with you for mutual evolution is a blessed thing, devoutly to be wished! LOL That battleplan has become a powerful protection and touchstone in all my decisions. Plus, I’ve been able to hand over a lot of the minutia to her, and also to brainstorm potential projects in an intelligent way. She keeps a close watch on the markets and the publishing ecosystem… and that gives me a clear sense of where my energy is best spent.
*Gushing* Yes, Saritza is awesome! I just signed with her and am giddy as hell to be working with her on my Carolina Bad Boys project.
Next question (and this is one I love to see from both sides, especially with the explosion of self-pubbing): Would you ever consider self-publishing? Under what conditions, or with what story?
That’s a short, blunt answer, and there’s a pile of logic and experience under the ticking of that mattress.
I know a couple people that have made a success of self-publishing, but I understand the trade-offs, and (at this point) can’t imagine any reasonable scenario that would justify them. Every report of dazzling success in self-publishing involves someone who built an author platform somewhere else and then harvested benefits in self-publishing based on that platform.
Can you make money for yourself by publishing yourself, sure. But that’s like saying you could make The Avengers if someone gave you $300 Million. No, actually you couldn’t do any such thing…because as a producer you’d have to sign actors and designers and technical experts and shooting locations… all those staffers aren’t interchangeable cogs. Those people have creative relationships with established producers/companies and as a member of the Hollywood studio system you would access those relationships in a different way. Partnering with a publisher is no different. As part of a great team you cultivate relationships that help you grow creatively, financially, and professionally.
I am a writer, but I have other skills useful to the publication process. Still, it behooves me to hand those tasks over to a team of professionals that know how to do their jobs (as publishers) as well as I know how to do my job. I would always rather work with a gifted publisher who understands the market and the mass-media machine so that I can get on with the business of writing my next project. Like any partnership, that evolves over time. Hell, for some folks even finding a good publisher becomes a horrible chore…but that’s part of any profession: finding allies and skirting jerks. The fact that there are shady, shitty publishers just means we should be vigilant and forthright so that these shysters curl up and die.
Whenever people crow about the bales of money they can make in self-pub, I ask that question. What do you GAIN by self-publishing? With a handful of exceptions, if you can make a fortune in self-publishing you can make even more working mindfully with a talented, credible publisher. ALL of the effort you’ll pour into being a publisher for yourself is effort that won’t go into your writing. Worse, because of the “panacea” of self-publishing, a lot of crappy books make it to market that shouldn’t see the bottom of a birdcage. As a self-published author you automatically have to battle your way to market through thickets of shitty, badly produced books. Can you? Sure…but that’s an awful lot of effort spent on publishing books rather than writing them.
I’ll admit to being smitten by the self-publishing success stories floating around but have thus far ignored the siren call for many of the reasons you stated. I would definitely like to give it a whirl at some point in the future though.
You’re a very active member of the gay romance community and president of Rainbow Romance Writers of America…how do you want to see gay romance change? For readers? For writers?
I’d like to see us outgrow the ghetto completely and emerge as a robust public community. We are strongest when we stand in the light and encourage others to do the same.
I value the LGBT romance tribe deeply and I’ve done everything in my power to strengthen it however I can. Our market and readership is drastically different than it was five (or even two) years ago. We have grown and changed over the past decade, but at times I see folks rehashing old battles and operating as if we are still a little pocket universe.
That’s ridiculous. We are reviewed in major papers. Our books sell hundreds of thousands of copies. We have become a major presence at all of the big romance events and just watched a gay romance title sit on all the major lists for months…and yet I still hear authors insisting that we’re somehow persecuted because some folks don’t read our books. To that I’ll say, a hell of a lot do and more will.
- Clandestine gathering in clubs and secret rooms huddling together for safety (groups /forums), speaking in code words (M/M, GFY) to escape detection, and sharing our experiences informally because we needed a safe outlet (fan fiction, slash) and any LGBT content is good simply by virtue of existing.
- Defiant, “we’re here, we’re queer” demonstrations and displays… when we point out to the mass-market (fighting with RT and RWA for recognition) that there are LOTS of us hidden in closets (LGBT characters in mainstream books) and moving among them in closets the world over (ebook revolution lets people buy in private). Public outrage at mistreatment and bashing (Tara Taylor Quinn, MTM, etc)
- Gradual absorption into the mainstream as they discover they can make a buck, moving from acceptance to celebration… (LGBT romance events at RT, RWA 2012 brouhaha), appearing in mass market properties (Lover At Last, Suzanne Brockman’s SEALs), coverage in tolerant major press as part of the landscape (RT Bookreviews, Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today), being courted by media conglomerates who can read the bottom line (NY pubs scouting LGBT titles, distinguishing ourselves from erotica)
My point is… we face a different landscape now as professionals, and we need to face it professionally. I have zero interest in re-fighting battles we’ve already won or in quatting in a constant pose of persecution as if we’re all trapped in an afterschool special from 1983. I also hold no truck with the (all-too-addictive) politics of victimhood; I’ve watched that shit destroy movements within the literal (as opposed to literary) LGBT community. Squabbles, snits, and unprofessionalism reflect poorly on all of us.
Writing is a profession, and treating LGBT romance professionally helps all of us at every stage. Writers have to earn their readers; readers should demand the best of their books. The strength we’ve gained by gathering in places like GRL and the Goodreads group have transformed our writers and our books. That’s fabulous. But we aren’t gathering as a community because we are victimized, but because we learn together and evolve together. We come together, not in weakness, but strength.
Wow! Those are incredibly powerful ideas. I’m all fired up now. I love your vision and no-nonsense myth-busting.
What are RRW’s 2013 goals or objectives?
As always, the RRW board is trying to do everything possible to help members build their professional networks, their audiences, and their craft…but that seems like a shameless beauty pageant answer.
This year, a lot of our goals have been procedural… finalizing and upgrading the new website, getting our classes launched and operational, updating the by-laws to reflect the actual activities of the chapter, and also “diplomatic” communication between events, publishers, and organizations that need to meet on “neutral” ground. We’ve continued the event strategy begun last year, but we’ve also initiated our first ever in-person meetup, a Writers Workshop at GRL2013 offering classes and networking for authors of LGBT romance.
Last year was very razzle-dazzle in terms of tackling mass-market media and making the chapter a visible presence at genre gatherings. I’m very proud of the connections we made by working together and those partnerships continue to bear fruit for all our members.
There is no gay romance category for either the RWA Golden Heart Awards or the RITAs. I was wondering if Rainbow has addressed this? Or do you believe there shouldn’t be a separate category, and that LGBT writers should enter regardless of the ‘pairing’ in their novels?
RRW hasn’t addressed this because none of the board has had any particular interest in preserving the ghetto we’ve seen spring up around the genre.
I’ll be frank. I don’t WANT an LGBT “category” anywhere: in contests, media, or elsewhere. A lot of people will disagree with me on that but I think it’s a honey-trap. Sure it sounds appealing, but it also segregates us in ways that make us separate and unequal. What I want is LGBT romance to be considered as romance, period. If we are going to say that gender doesn’t matter then it shouldn’t. For the same reasons, I as a gay man do not fight for “gay marriage” but for marriage equality. I want us on the bestseller lists and I want us to deserve to be on those lists. I want all of our books to keep getting better and reach wider audiences.
Still, it seems so sad for a subsection of romance entirely predicated on authenticity, bravery and tolerance to BEG for labels that presume all sorts of nonsense about human intimacy. I understand the impulse, but it’s a sobering one. Now, I’ll happily point out when someone tries to scrub us out of existence (like the More Than Magic fiasco last year, which backfired horrible on the bigots who started it), I’ll proudly go and kick ass at romance conventions and public events to bring attention and new readers to LGBT romance…but I’m not ever going to waste time trying to reupholster the ghetto to make it more comfortable. Ugh.
So… all that blather is a longwinded way of saying: Nope. I never want to see an LGBT category. And I cringe at the notion that the “only way we’ll get noticed” is by cordoning off a little patch of protected ground. Our authors, our books, and our readers deserve better treatment than pigeonholing.
Right on. *scurries over to GR to remove my m-m book shelf* Kidding! (No I’m not…)
What is your next novel? What can you tell us about it? When will it be released? (C’mon, please? I’m jonesing over here!)
Well now… I know a lot of contemporary-only readers feel slighted and I’m making full amends.
As fate would have it I’ve just turned in a brand new contemporary novel called Bad Idea…about comic book fans and movie monster makers. It’s coming out this fall from Dreamspinner: “A reclusive comic book artist gets swept of his feet by a rowdy FX designer who struggles to prove that love isn’t a disaster and heroes don’t need capes.”
Bad Idea is set in Manhattan and got a lot of the rawness and humor of the Hot Head world, but it covers different turf. It’s about a super-shy illustrator and an outgoing makeup artist who collide and collude on an erotic comic about a sex demon named Scratch…a project which kinda destroys and saves their lives and…by extension pop culture. LOL No big.
Bad Idea is the first book in the “Itch” series about guys wrestling with their own figurative demons as they turn a homoerotic demon character loose on comics, games, movies, etc. Which makes this a gay romance about gay romance changing the world. A lot of my own experience working in film and comics has leaked into the book, natch.
Actually, my paranormal “Scratch” series started back in May and intertwines with these contemporary “Itch” books; folks who read Horn Gate have already seen the comic being written in Bad Idea, i.e. the first story-within-the-story. Both series can be read independently but for omnivorous readers, a lot of thematic overlaps and resonances intertwine in fun ways.
What perfect timing! I can’t wait to get my grabby little hands on this!
Some mistakes are worth making.
Reclusive comic book artist Trip Spector spends his life doodling super-square, straitlaced superheroes, hiding from his fans, and crushing on his unattainable boss until he meets the dork of his dreams. Silas Goolsby is a rowdy FX makeup creator with a loveless love life and a secret streak of geek who yearns for unlikely rescues and a truly creative partnership.
Against their better judgment, they fall victim to chemistry, and what starts as infatuation quickly grows tender and terrifying. With Silas’s help, Trip gambles his heart and his art on a rotten plan: sketching out Scratch, a “very graphic novel” that will either make his name or wreck his career. But even a smash can’t save their world if Trip retreats into his mild-mannered rut, leaving Silas to grapple with betrayal and emotions he can’t escape.
What will it take for this dynamic duo to discover that heroes never play it safe?
Go read the comical Bad Idea excerpt Omg! “I’m cruising a corpse.” Chuckle-chuckle-chuckle! And then pick it up here:
All Romance Ebooks
Connect with Damon:
Cheers so much for chilling with me once again, Damon, and congrats on your new release today! Now, I’ve got some reading to do–Trip and Silas are waiting for me