Los Angeles has been hopping with literary events this week.
Thursday, I had to choose between three events - the Lambda literary Awards (I had nothing nominated. It would have simply been a social night for me), James Buchanan's reading at A Different Light in West Hollywood (just down the street from where the
Lambdas were being held) and the first Los Angeles event for the In The Flesh reading series. I choose In The Flesh (with James' blessing)
In The Flesh has been a New York City institution for several years, featuring some of the best erotica writers working today. Hosted and organized by Rachel Kramer Bussel (of cupcake and many erotica anthologies fame), In The Flesh is an important venue for erotica writers to promote their books. I was thrilled to see that a Los
Angeles version was starting. Readings are difficult in LA. Unless you're a best-selling author, Barnes and Nobles and Borders don't want you (and they won't touch erotica readings). Skylight Books has a great reading series, but again, they
don't reach out to lesser-know writers. A Different Light is incredibly supportive, but they feature GLBT writers. So where do you read if you write hetero smut? Nowhere - until now.
The reading was held in Venice at Freddy and Eddies. This store is such a great space. It feels very personal and homey. Even the dungeon sex toy room had kind of a harem, softer vibe to it instead of being hard core, which made it a comfortable space to explore the fucking machines, floggers, restraints, and paddles. They have an outdoor patio where they hold the readings. There were over 30 people there, which is a great turnout for a first event. I got to meet Maxim Jakubowski of Mammoth Book of Erotica fame. A very nice gentleman. He is largely responsible for the rise of literary erotica. He put it in print long before anyone thought there was such a thing, much less that it deserved to be published. I also got to meet Stan Kent of the wonderful Shoe Leather series. Rachel Kramer Bussel read, as did the LA host, Carly (I have her name written down somewhere. I'll add it later), and a few other people. It was a wonderful night. I wish this reading series a lot of success. (and hope to be part of it)
That was Thursday. Saturday, I went to BEA - BookExpo America. I worked the Man Love Romance booth, but had a chance to explore both halls of this monster event. I chatted with the EPIC people (Electronic Publishing) since I'm a member. The Torquere booth was nearby, so I spent some time with them and was thrilled to see how many people stopped by their booth. Torquere and MLR were the only GLBT publishers I saw. The Torquere and the Man Love Romance booths (which shared space with Aspen Mountain
Press) were the only electronic publishers there, which was really sad considering that Amazon had a huge Kindle display in the South Hall. There should have been more synergy going on there, but tried as I might, I couldn't find anyone at the Kindle booth who was interested in talking e-book publishers or EPIC with me. Hello? Amazon? Wake up. Your product is useless without content.
I'm impressed with the energy of Laura Baumbach and Deena (I can never remember her last name) from Man Love and Lorna and Shawn from Torquere who stayed on their feet all day. I'm exhausted from one day of working the booth, and work it we did. When I toured the two huge halls, most booths I passed were manned by sullen, bored people who sat behind their table displays. Not us. We had one person near the aisle, and if
someone passed and made eye contact, we did our best to draw them closer to listen to our pitch. Most did. We gave away a ton of promotional swag.
My best score of the day - a literary agent from New York was passing by. She sort of paused and made flitting eye contact. I lured her over. She said that publishers were asking her where they could find erotica writers. I didn't laugh in her face, but sheesh, Google is your friend, right? I suppose they want us to come crawling
to them instead of spending two seconds to look up ERWA or individal sites. The problem is that most agents treat erotica writers like scum. If your site flat out says you won't represent erotica writers, don't whine that you have no erotica writers as clients. But I was on my best behavior. I said, "You found us." I made sure she got the disk with sample chapters from the members of the Man Love Romance
promotions co-op. Although an agent seems to be the holy grail of most writers, at this point an agent would have to work pretty damn hard to convince me she'd be of any use. Many erotica writers have expressed the same sentiments. Once people are forced to work without your help and manage to make it anyway, it's really hard to convince them that suddenly they should hand you 10% of their earnings and then be grateful that you'll disdain to take it.
Today, I hope to write. I'm getting close to the end of my first draft of my second try at Personal Demons. (Does that make it the first draft once removed?) I'd really like to wrap it by tonight, but I don't want to rush the ending either. This story has been in my head for over three years. It started as one book, but by the fifth chapter, I realized I had way too much story for one book, so I decided to do a trilogy. Now it's almost over. I don't know if I should be happy or depressed.