Friday, August 24, 2007

Epublishing: with Tina Burns, Acquisitions Editor, Liquid Silver Books

*****Tina will be stopping by during the day to answer any further questions you may have!! So please don't be shy!********

1. Do you have any comment on RWA’s recent re-redefinition of “Vanity/Subsidy publisher”?

No. It doesn't affect our readers, and many of our authors qualify for PAN membership, which seems to be their main concern. Many of our authors are RWA and we have never been a vanity press.

2. What do you think a writer should look for from an epublisher, and how should they expect to be treated?

My list isn’t in order of importance as I feel that they all have close to equal weight, so here’s my list:
Longevity – how long have they been in business?
Public Standing – are they looked on favorably in the ePublishing community? Are they frequently part of the rumor/blog comment mill? Are they recommended by their authors, by readers? Other Publishers?
Genreability – I know it’s not a word, but it says what I mean. ;) Know what a publisher publishes. If they publish erotic romance, a time travel mystery book with dueling shifter clans with no romantic elements won’t fit.
Quality – Want to know what a publisher is like? Buy a few of their books, different genres, different lengths, and read them. Are there mistakes? Even if the story doesn’t grab you, is there a clear storyline?
Covers – The good, the bad, and the very very bad. This goes along with quality, but I feel it’s a strong enough “must” for its own bullet point.
Contract - One year should be enough for generic contracts, and rights which won't be exploited by the pub shouldn't be claimed.
Submission guidelines - These should be simple to understand, and minimal.
Royalties - Epubs should be able to pay 40+% of revenue on all books.
Business acumen - Epub is a business, so it should be run by people with business knowledge and experience.
Editing - It's more than spell checking. Epubs should require necessary rewrites before contract, the content editing should be thorough, and there should be a separate copy editing step at the end.
Future-proof - Many electronic files from 10 years ago can't be read by today's software and devices. The epub should be maximizing the likelihood of their content being readable in 10-20 years time.
Customer service - You want your epub to treat customers well, otherwise they won't return and buy your books. Buy from them, then ask a question or make a complaint.

Authors should expect to be treated with respect and in a timely manner. They should expect to receive their royalties within the right of their contracts. I strive to be very approachable. Most times I’m an author’s first point of contact at Liquid Silver and I remember what it’s like to be a first time author, or first time to a new publisher, so I’ve made a point to keep that stressor point for authors very minimal.

3. What are the most common mistakes made by authors submitting works for consideration?

How long can this be? LOL. The biggest mistake I find is that authors submit works that aren’t critiqued by a peer. And by peer I don’t mean their best friend (non-author) who’s going to gush that it’s the best thing she’s ever read. There are many ways to find a critique partner/beta reader in the erotic romance world. Know your genre. Along with making sure a story actually makes sense, the CP will/should help the author catch any grammatical errors and inconsistencies. Yes, grammar and some writing issues can be fixed in editing, but if those problems are so prevalent that the story doesn’t come through, then it’s not submission ready.

My personal pet peeve (hint for anyone submitting to LSB) is head-hopping aka point-of-view switching. I don’t need to know that Fred the bartender thinks Sally’s jugs are mouthwatering, unless Fred happens to be the hero or the villain. Keeping the POV between the main characters keeps the story moving forward and interesting, not brain numbing. Besides, we can’t all be Nora Roberts. ;)

We have a forum for readers and authors: (**Direct link). We’ve got a thread there for aspiring authors where they (or anyone, aspiring or multi-pubbed) can peruse and/or ask questions. I’ve started a blog/thread of sorts titled “How NOT to get my book published” where I try in a lighthearted yet serious way to give authors writing advice.

4. Although conservative non-fiction has a large following, lately I have picked up on a resistance to conservative leaning fiction. Two well known agents even stated such on their Blogs. This is informative, and it means if you write from a conservative perspective, it would be best to seek representation elsewhere. My question is how pervasive is this attitude among publishers and agents? Do the political views or leanings, in either direction, of the author or characters in a book influence your decision? Would you ask an author to tone such views down to make the book more palatable to a larger readership?

Liquid Silver Books is an imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, which is a non-erotic publisher. The owners have decided that in the current market (meaning buyers market) they’re concentrating on the Liquid Silver end of their company. If, in the future, conservative fiction becomes more of a demand from buyers, then they are very open to re-launching Atlantic Bridge.

I’m not much of a political debater, and because of that I’m going to give a very PC answer so I don’t get myself in trouble. I’ll give an example vs replying with a general answer….

I have gotten a couple submissions where I’ve felt that the story focused on pushing the author’s views of a certain subject on the reader, or that the “emotion” behind the story was “preachy”. In those instances, if the story could sustain itself outside of the politics of the issue, I start a dialogue with the author about it. What’s the point they’re trying to get across? I’ve found that most times, authors don’t even realize their personal beliefs were coming across so strong, and willingly work with us to make the story approachable for all readers.

5. With a primarily digital mode of publication, how do you decide how much to publish? Are all high quality manuscripts that meet the perceived needs of your customers published, or is there a goal for monthly or annual publications?

I don’t make the decisions as to how many books a week we publish, the owners do, but we’ve found that to maintain the high quality of editing, covers, and stories we’re known for, two books a week is a good consistent number. We don’t have a monthly or annual goal to hit, yet at the same time, yes, all high quality submissions that fit our criteria are most often contracted and published. We don’t accept books just to fill a publishing quota.

6. When would you advise an author to seek publication with a traditional print publisher and when is it in their best interests to publish in digital format? The pros and cons are often debated among authors, and I was wondering how the actual publishers saw these issues.

That’s hard for me to answer. It’s my opinion that that question is often an author’s personal choice to go print or ePub. If I receive a submission email from an author letting me know they’re looking forward to seeing their books on the bookshelves of a brick and mortar store, then I let them know that they might be considering the wrong publisher. Liquid Silver does have some books in print. In the next few years we will be printing more and they will be available in bookstores, but we are primarily an ebook publisher and we’re going to stay that way. We’ve set very high criteria for books to move on to the print stage of our business.

Epublishing offers many pros to the publishing world: Quick turnaround from start to finish, a wide variety of genres, and the ability to mix genres to name a few.

Liquid Silver has had many authors make that transition from ebook author to mainstream print, and we’ve no issues with that happening and are very flexible and encouraging of our authors that choose to do so. Sasha White, Jasmine Haynes aka Jennifer Skully, Alyssa Brooks, Amie Stuart aka Celia Stuart, Jodi Lynn Copeland…the list goes on. Some of our authors that have recently gotten print contracts are Shara Lanel and Terri Schaefer, both excellent authors and still write for us.

7. Can you share any sorts of revenue targets you have in mind when purchasing a manuscript? I assume that you need to sell a certain number of copies before the time spent acquiring, editing, and publishing is worth it financially. What is that approximate point? What percentage of manuscripts make this cut-off?

We have some authors whose sales of most books are consistently poor, but we welcome their next submission. Why do we adopt this apparently counter-intuitive approach?

LSB is focused on epub for the long term. We regard the current phase as the learning period--for authors and us--before epub goes mainstream. As such, we want quality stories as #1 priority; good sellers are very welcome, but not necessary.

We can afford this approach because it keeps our business lean, which is a major reason we're still around since 1999--the pay-off is in the future. So to summarize: no revenue targets for a manuscript, but it must (potentially) be a good story well told.

8. By far the most famous epublishers currently are focused on erotic romance. I would guess that far more erotic romance is bought in ebook format than in print. First, is this guess accurate? Secondly, what prospects do you see in the short to mid term for other genres in eBook format? Will we soon see non-romance mysteries or fantasy or manga taking off? Will we see it with your company?

I answered this mostly in number 4, but yes, right now erotic romance is the “it” buying genre at the moment. As far as genre’s we will take, anything and everything, as long as the story is good and it’s erotic romance. I’d love to see a really good erotic historical, especially medieval times. (not-so-subtle-hint)

As an aside, speaking for LSB specifically, the story line must stand alone without the descriptive sex that constitutes the erotic part. If your story is a string of sex scenes held very loosely together by what might be considered a plot, then we don’t consider it erotic romance. The romantic connection between the characters and the storyline are first and foremost in our books, the descriptive sex a bonus. I like to think of them as romance books that leave the lights on.

9. Is there such a thing as a best seller list for e-books?

We’re don’t have a published one, though it is something we’ve considered. We do after a few months use Fictionwise as a bookseller and they have a best seller list that Liquid Silver is a frequent addition to.

10. Since marketing and promotion are a shared venture with publishers and authors, what do you see as some of the best venues and tools to establish the name and work of a new writer?

The best answer I can give … Write another book, and another. The more you write, the more your name gets in front of readers, and word of mouth is the fire that will fuel your sales. Don’t get too caught up in the loops or forums, pretty soon you’ll be chatting and promoting too much to write again. When you do promote, sell you, the author, your name, not just your books. If your name is Sue Black, and your book title is Rainbow Kisses and How I Married the Leprechaun Guarding the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow, which is easier to remember?

Joke Question:
"I have a manuscript for a erotic romantic paranormal suspense starring Hugo the Were-Alpaca and a famous movie star, Angela Jolee. Angela is fed up with her movie star husband and lost in life until she meets Hugo, a budding author and blog commenter not based upon the author at all, and discovers she can only find happiness when naked with Hugo and using bowls of pudding in intriguing ways. It is complete at 185,000 words and is the first in a series, though it can certainly stand upright and for a long, long time on its own. It is typically ready to be re-read in under 5 minutes. Book 2 features Hugo and Jessyka Albra; book 3, Hugo and Tyla Spanks; and Book 4 explores the possibilities of all four together. Interested?"

If the pudding is chocolate or butterscotch, email me.

Liquid Silver Books –
Liquid Silver Forums –
Liquid Silver Blog –
LS Reader Group -
Submissions -

Tina Burns
Acquisitions Director
tina @ (*Note: I added the spaces to keep Tina's email away from the spiders, so remove them to email her.)

Thanks so much, Tina, for a fantastic interview!


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the short answer for the last two questions in #4 is YES and YES. -V95

pacatrue said...

I'm dumbfounded that you actually submitted the joke question.

And I have a buyer! (I just replaced the word caramel with butterscotch throughtout.)

pacatrue said...

Umm, uh, a little note since Tina might drop by... um, there is no such novel. I'm not insane.

December/Stacia said...

Well, V95, I think that's a good thing in regards to romance, really. I don't want political issues in my romances, at least not overbearingly so. *shrug*

Lol Paca, actually Tina ASKED for it!

Bernita said...

Another wonderful, honest interview.
Thank you both.

Laura Buchanan said...


I have a couple of story ideas that I want to submit to the Jewels of the Nile Quickie series. Should I go with one submission I think is the stronger story or can an author submit more than one submission?

Tina said...

Thanks December for giving LSB the opportunity to meet with your readers!

V95: I guess I felt that explaining my answer to #4 would be better than plain ol' Yes. If you think about it, I didn't get my job in erotic romance by being closed minded. In fact, I was a big part of the push to offer our Molten line which welcomes GLBT stories, and we have our first F/F story coming out later this year. But I think what December says is right, the readers don't want romantic CNN, they just want romantic. ;)

Laura: Two things, we don't have a Jewels of the Nile Quickie series so I think you're thinking of another pub, HOWEVER, I would love to see something from you and yes, we will take multiple submissions. :)

Anonymous said...

"Well, V95, I think that's a good thing in regards to romance, really. I don't want political issues in my romances, at least not overbearingly so."

"But I think what December says is right, the readers don't want romantic CNN, they just want romantic."

I agree 100% -if it's even across the board. -V95

Kelly Maher said...

Hi Tina,

I was a little late posting this for the original call for questions:

What are your thoughts on writers who seemingly hop from one publishing house to the next? What kind of long-term stability are you looking/hoping for in a writer?

Tina said...

Kelly: Better late than never right?

By hopping from one house to another do you mean with the same book? Or just being multi-publisher-published?

Liquid Silver doesn't discourage authors from publishing at other houses, and we think it's a great way for the author to get wide exposure. Plus, if they read them at the "other pub" and like them, they'll come to LSB to get their other books and get intro'd to our library.

As far as taking their book from us and moving it to another publisher, that's sort of a double edged sword. We have a one year ebook contract which lends to the author being able to move their book very easily, but I think it can be detrimental at the same time. That being said, we have accepted books that have been previously published, but they still go through our extensive editing process and we're very careful about labeling them previously published.

Long-term stability? We don't require a certain number of books from our authors so they're welcome to go as they please, but we like to foster an environment of professional welcome and fun. No matter how many times it happens, each time I get another submission from a current author, it thrills me, to know that we've built the right kind of house and that they want to stay.

Kelly Maher said...

Thanks, Tina! I appreciate the chance getting to know you and LSB.