When I first entered the realm of erotica and erotic romance, it was just before self-publishing really came into its own. So, like any author of the time, I was of the mind that my book was to be published traditionally or not at all. I didn’t even consider the possibility of going indie.
I got my novella picked up by a small publisher and started my journey into the publishing world. Right around the time of publication, I was headed to a conference and wanted more to show for myself than just one novella… so I decided to take a one-time-only leap into self-publishing with a short story.
Well… I kind of got hooked.
I sold another novella to my publisher, but the rate they moved for publication seemed glacially slow compared to self-publishing. As well, I wanted to expand my platform with more short stories, which my publisher didn’t work with. So… I jumped back into self-publishing.
I did a lot of reading and researching on how to do it right. I still fucked up a number of times. Over the years I got better at it, and started to bring in professionals — I now have an editor for all of my books, as well as a cover designer.
Even though I was hooked on self-publishing, I kept my first two novellas with my publisher. In the back of my mind, I had come to understand I wanted a hybrid platform — a mix of self- and traditionally-published books. I didn’t really know why, exactly, I wanted this, but I knew I did. I think it was still a hang-up of the “old” way of thinking, that traditional is a mark of quality.
Along the way, I came to know more than a few authors that self-published, but hated the process of doing so. Either it was too technical of a process or they just wanted to spend their time writing or for whatever reason just wished someone else would do it for them. Concurrently to hearing this repeated refrain, I was also asked to review books or to promote books on my blog. Quite often, I’d find that the core story was quite good, but the formatting was terrible, the cover was bland, or the great story was lost in clumsy writing. This helped me clue in that there is still a great need for publishers in this modern book industry.
Thus began the long, slow process of starting up a publishing company for erotica and erotic romance. Deep Desires Press launched at the start of this year and we have a few titles out already — and our publishing calendar is booked solid into late summer, and then spottily to the end of the year. Some of the authors who have come to us had a go at it with self-publishing and are hoping that the professional polish of a publisher will help, and others have never self-published and only want their book released by a publisher. Everyone has their own reasons for submitting to us.
Here’s a little secret, though. Lisabet mentioned in her post this week that publishers don’t know much more than authors do when it comes to promoting books. She’s right. I know a lot — after all, I have three pen names and over seventy titles published — but there’s still no magic formula to it all. However, if both a publisher and an author promote a book, that’s double the promo efforts — and perhaps to different audiences — which can only help with getting word out about your book. Working with a publisher is a team effort. That applies to more than just promotion — we work with your to strategize your publishing plan, to get your book in top-notch shape, and to get a cover you’re excited about.
It’s been a challenge to start up a publishing company in a time where small publishers are folding and authors are left out in the cold. We’ve made sure to build our company on transparency, trust, and professionalism. I think that’s come through in what people have said to us in working with us.
We believe that we can adapt quicker than the publishers that have folded and we believe that our professional output gives our authors a competitive advantage over self-published authors. However, at the same time, we’re not a cutthroat business. We understand that authors have hybrid platforms that include self-publishing and perhaps other publishers — I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t support that — so we allow authors to promote their external works on their platform with us (usually through our author interviews or through retweets on Twitter).
So where does this leave me? I’ve recently gotten the rights back for those two novellas I sold to my publisher, and the plan is to rewrite them (as they badly need it) and publish them through Deep Desires Press. However, I don’t want to overrun the publisher with my own works — I don’t want it to be “Cameron D. James and His Pen Names Press”. So, even though I own a publisher, my platform will still be hybrid. When I have a piece ready for publication, I’ll make the determination as to whether it fits best with Deep Desires Press or as a self-published title. (To date, for the first seven months of 2017, only one title is by one of my pen names.)
Self-publishing still has its place, even for me. This past weekend I wrote a novella. (Yup, a whole novella in two days. I wrote 16.5K on Sunday.) It’s a time-sensitive project about a fictionalized president who falls for a gay lover. Given the political turmoil in my neighbouring country, it’s to my advantage to release it ASAP. Thus, it’ll be a self-published project that should be out in a day or two. Some of the projects I have on my plate will go to Deep Desires, some will be self-published, and still others might go elsewhere.
My understanding of my career — and my desire for a hybridized platform — has only solidified over the past year. A hybridized platform helps expand an author’s reach and increases their opportunities. I am not and never will be a 100% self-published author — and, likewise, I’ll never be a 100% traditionally-published author. Each author’s journey and choices are their own — and this is the one that makes the most sense to me.
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Erotic Love & Carnal Sins: Confessions of a Priest (co-written with Sandra Claire). He is also the publisher and co-founder of Deep Desires Press, a publisher of erotica and high-heat-level erotic romance. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.