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March 7th, 2009

10:08 AM

The Great Ravenous Press Pillory

Firstly, let me reassure a particular slice of zealous fans of that site that this is not a rebuttal to Jane's review of Jamaica Layne's story on Dear Author. No, darlings, Mrs Giggles is not being a jellus haterz of the Beautiful Ja(y)nes and Sarah SB again. It's the weekend and a time for positive thinking, after all.

What I'm curious is once again how any discussion of Ravenous Press mentions the fact that they put out a story a day and how this is a sign that they have no quality control. Now, I like Samhain, but I think I should use them as an example first since many of those slinging this particular type of poo at Ravenous Press also write for Samhain. Samhain Publishing put out 6 stories a week, sometimes more if they have a Saturday schedule. That means 6 stories a week, just one story short of Ravenous Press' seven stories a week schedule. Ellora's Cave put out 8 stories a week, which actually makes their yearly output far higher than Ravenous' seven stories a week plan. I'm on Ravenous Press' mailing list so I know that many of these 365 stories are shorts or novellas, so it's not like they are churning out 365 mega-novels a year.

So, to those Ellora's Cave and Samhain authors and/or fans calling Ravenous Press on this so-called crappy schedule, what exactly is the problem again with Ravenous' output schedule? Perhaps some behind-the-scenes information, like maybe Ravenous Press has only a handful of editors forced to edit hundreds of stories a week under torture, will shed some light on this matter.

I'm not being facetious here - I'm serious. I really want to know what makes Ravenous Press a crappy publishing house. Their 365 stories a year output is not very different from Ellora's Cave's or Samhain's. Are they not paying their authors? Are they forcing their authors to pay for print? Okay, so Jamaica Layne's stories don't strike many people's fancy. But how about other stories? Are they riddled with typographical and grammatical mistakes? I'm really curious as to why this publisher is so terrible.

Yes, I know they made some ridiculous claims during their pre-opening days. I chalked that up to ridiculous hype typical of press releases. I know many people are exasperated by Jamaica Layne's online personality - and I confess I roll up my eyes at some of her posts now and then - and the fact that she is an editor there makes it easy to assume that Jamaica Layne is the start and end of all things Ravenous Press. We also have some controversy over Lori Perkins being an agent and a shareholder of Ravenous Press, but so far I don't hear any horror stories stemming from her involvement with Ravenous Press.

So what is it again that has Ravenous Press being listed as an "OMG AVOID!!!!!" publishing house again? Have they even proven themselves to be good or bad yet? They are still new, aren't they? What I am seeing here is people with issues over Jamaica Layne and/or Ravenous Press' pre-release "We are better than you!" hype coming out to play every time Ravenous Press gets mentioned, and that's pretty petty to me. If you think I am wrong and Ravenous Press are genuinely run by the spawns of devil out to ruin civilization and you are not just hung up over Lori Perkins and/or Jamaica Layne and/or the whole Porn vs Erotica debate, please, enlighten me. I seriously want to know your reasons.

17 comment(s).

Posted by Angela James:

Ha. I wondered how long it was going to take for someone to bring this up.

We do have weeks where there's a high number of releases, but we have weeks there aren't, as well. We don't commit to a certain number of releases, so one week we might have six and the next we might have four. The first week of the month we have two release days because we put up previously released books on the first Friday of the month (this past Friday we "relaunched" three books that were Samhain releases but that we recovered and reblurbed, so that looks like even more releases that actually...weren't).

Recently, we've had some editors who chose to skip filling their release schedule for some months in 2009 because the quality of the submissions they were getting wasn't there. So we definitely don't put pressure on ourselves or our editors to commit to anything other than putting out quality books that we love.

And as a rather standard disclaimer, I want to make it clear that I'm not commenting in any way on any other press's release schedule or books, only clarifying Samhain's, since you mentioned us specifically.
March 7th, 2009 @ 9:51 PM

Posted by Teddypig:

I just think Ravenous is just reaping what it sowed.

If they wanted to be seen as a top ePub then they needed to not only act like it but actually provide product that can compete and have sales that ranks them on the same level or above any of the other ePubs you just mentioned.

They have not done ANY of those things and everyone is asking why and with the way they continue to answer they still want to be seen as a new voice that is somehow redefining ePublishing. That schtick was questionable when they began and it remains highly questionable now.

I do notice that despite even people wanting them to succeed they seem to hate those valid questions since obviously they cannot prove they are doing a damn thing different than any other no-name wannabe.
March 7th, 2009 @ 11:43 PM

Posted by Barb:

I'm a Ravenous customer. I've read some good books from them and some crappy ones, and most of the blurbs don't even pique my interest, but I think it's important to separate the books from the publisher, and consider each title separately when deciding whether or not to purchase. I also buy from other publishers, but no one is "auto-buy" for me.

I noticed that Ravenous does not actually put out a new book everyday. Many times (maybe half?) the Book of the Day is an older release. I think even they realized that it's impossible to put out quality every day, and instead chose to feature something else.

I think it's a good decision not to take sub-par manuscripts just to fill a schedule, which Angela says they do at Samhain. The problem is that no matter what schedule Ravenous has, negative comments keep good writers from submitting to them, and that is what is going to doom their business. Yes, they pu their foot in their mouths on more than one occasion, and Jamaica Layne does them absolutely no credit.

I do think that the ones who really are hurt are the decent writers who didn't know what they were signing up for. It's too bad that they will suffer because of animosity against their publisher.
March 8th, 2009 @ 12:11 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Teddypig, so you're saying... off with their heads?

I don't get it. So Ravenous did say some stupid things. But that's pretty much all they did: said stupid things. That isn't something to hold a grudge over, is it? Ravenous has been pretty quiet recently, so I don't think they are still trying to tell everyone that they are better than everyone else.

I really don't understand why so many people behave as if Ravenous Press has personally kicked them in the face and the way some people just want Ravenous to die, be wiped off the face of the earth, humiliated, tarred, et cetera just bewilders me.
March 8th, 2009 @ 12:19 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Ha. I wondered how long it was going to take for someone to bring this up.

I brought this up twice before in the past, sigh, but people were more interested in marking territories and playing "My epublisher is better than yours" games.
March 8th, 2009 @ 12:23 AM

Posted by Jody W.:

Online marketing (including blogs and word of mouth) affects small press authors and companies far more than mainstream authors and companies. Getting a bad rep in the internet fishbowl that is Romancelandia can probably have a significant effect on sales. Same as if nobody knows who you are. You won't get the sales, even if your few readers (and your publisher) are pleased with your work. You have to stand out from the crowd somehow, and the crowd gets bigger every day.

Is RR standing out from the crowd? I have no idea. This is really the first time I've heard much about them or their product after the intial wave. They do seem to have garnered a lot of animosity from the ebook-friendly crowd, which can't help. I would love for there to be more good small presses to choose from -- as both a writer and reader -- so I certainly don't wish them ill.
March 8th, 2009 @ 12:45 AM

Posted by Anion:

For me the issue isn't at all the book-a-day schedule or the number of releases, it's simply that they do not seem aware of the market at all. And yes, as someone who has written and does read ebooks I find that insulting. It offends me that they came along with their "We're going to blow those fat housewives out of the water because WE know literary quality when we see it and you all stink" and then put out something that I simply cannot believe any thinking person would find to have any literary merit at all.

So my comments have and had nothing to do with their release schedule. It's more that they don't know the market; they seem to have no idea what readers expect from erotica or erotic romance. They think they're putting out hot, high-quality erotic work without realizing what is actually considered to be hot, high-quality work these days.

But as I said in that thread, every publisher has a few lemons. I'm sure Ravenous also has some good writers. I haven't seen one yet but I haven't read more than a few excerpts on their site either. I'm totally willing to believe they have some authors with talent. I just know Jamaica Layne isn't one of them.
March 8th, 2009 @ 3:56 AM

Posted by Teddypig:

Teddypig, so you're saying... off with their heads?


My recommendation for authors as well as readers remains the same.

There are at least twenty "go to" ePublishers I recommend checking out, supporting through purchases or submitting work too for the chance to be published before these new kids on the block who will probably be just another waste of time in the overall scheme of things.
March 8th, 2009 @ 6:03 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

True, teddy, and I agree with that. I was just trying to find out, beyond the animosity generated by Ravenous Press during their early days, whether there is any reason to put them in the Very Bad Publisher list. I'd put them in the Only If The Top Epublishers Don't Want You list at the moment, yes, but I'm also wondering whether they are as bad as some seem to make them out to be.

There seems to be a general attitude that Ravenous Press = Jamaica Layne and I suppose I do feel sorry for the other authors who are caught in the crossfire. (Not that I feel sorry for Ms Layne - she's a tough gal and I'm sure she can take care of herself!)
March 8th, 2009 @ 8:59 AM

Posted by LKC:

So many of us have been burned by epubs that are here today and gone tomorrow. We are always looking for red flags now which may or may not be fair in every case, but its better than being not being cautious enough.
March 8th, 2009 @ 9:07 AM

Posted by Teddypig:

I was just trying to find out, beyond the animosity generated by Ravenous Press during their early days, whether there is any reason to put them in the Very Bad Publisher list.

Nah, unless shock-jock tactics and a know-it-all attitude being used by an ePublisher really says "quality" somehow.

I think continued apathy is a safe bet.
March 8th, 2009 @ 10:08 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

My concern with the book-a-day thing was that they were intending to do that right from the start, and I thought that was an overly ambitious goal for a publisher where none of the people involved seemed to have much experience with epublishing (and most of them didn't seem to have much experience with erotic romance rather than erotica). If you're going to put out books with decent editing, proof-reading, cover art, etc, you need to have the staff to be able to do that, and it's probably better to start with a couple of books a week and build up to the book a day schedule.

This isn't to say that the RR people know nothing about publishing, because I thought there were actually some good signs there, behind the nonsense from one or two people about how existing epublishers were all know-nothing bottom-feeders and their authors weren't good enough to sully the slushpile of RR. Enough so that I would have written something for one particular anthology had I had the time. However, I would submit to that anthology because the editor is someone I respect and have submitted work to in the past at a different press. It's *her* reputation that makes the anthologies she's editing a potentially attractive market for me. Otherwise my attitude would be to see what they're like in a year or so, and if they're looking stable, sane and have reasonable sales, consider them as a place to send short stories to.
March 8th, 2009 @ 8:19 PM

Posted by elissa21:

Ironically, it seems the more people attack Ms. Layne in the blogosphere, the more her works sell. Maybe if they hate her so much, they should leave her alone instead of providing her with lots of free advertising.
March 9th, 2009 @ 2:48 AM

Posted by Teddypig:

Just because she sold five more still means she only sold ten total. She is not doing so hot up against Samhain or EC with her current numbers.

So again FAIL!
March 9th, 2009 @ 6:08 PM

Posted by veinglory:

The reason RR first hit the 'dubious' list was not grandious rhetoric but the co-owner/agent referring authors to the house.
March 9th, 2009 @ 10:59 PM

Posted by JenB:

The negative comments seem to be coming mostly from authors and other publishing insiders.

As a customer and reader, I was pretty impressed with my single (so far) RR purchase. I bought a m/m audiobook. The quality of the recording was outstanding (every bit as good as Audible), the price was higher than I'd have liked but still not outrageous, and the download process was easier than I'd have expected from a small press. The story itself wasn't all that great, but I can't hold a single lackluster story against a publisher. I've bought stinkers from all the other pubs too.

The RR covers are gorgeous, the web site is beautiful and pretty easy to use, and RR delivered an above average customer experience. I would buy from them again.
March 11th, 2009 @ 12:34 AM

Posted by Jessica:

I was glad to see this post. As a consumer who is in no way connected to RR or any other publishers, I have found the vitriol directed against RR to be mystifying.

A new business is making outsize claims about itself. Sure, that may be annoying to its competitors, but that's business, isn't it? It's not like they're using child labor or contributing their profits to the KKK.

I read one RR title, by Layne, and reviewed it negatively. But I'm not going to make a judgment on the press because of that one book.

I might be annoyed with RR if I were their direct business competitor, but this is really shop talk, not consumer talk, and I confess I am mystified why reader driven romance blogs have made it their business.
March 17th, 2009 @ 6:52 AM