Well, I thought it was about time I talk to an author published through my very own publisher, Ellora's Cave. Please welcome Erica Anderson to Just Published this month. Erica and I also share an editor, so this should be interesting :).
The specifics of Erica's very first book are:
Title: The Antaren Affair
Genre: science-fiction erotic romance
Words: 31,895 / 107 pages
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Date Published: July 2010
Colonel Rákōsy Avar is an officer in the Imperial Forces sent to the planet Antares to negotiate an alliance. He’s learned the hard way to trust no one and has only one passion—duty. But when an Antaren kebara is sent to serve him in any way he desires, she proves too great a temptation for the battle-scarred warrior. Although he suspects a trap, he still wants her on her back. In his bed.
Meraya is a woman trained to provide sexual pleasure. A woman whose duty is to serve. She has never known freedom. Or desire. She discovers both in the arms of the barbarian colonel. But Meraya is a pawn in a deadly game of interstellar politics that could cost her everything…including her heart.
When Avar discovers he wants more than the paradise found between Meraya’s lovely thighs, he must play for the highest stakes ever, gambling with the life of a woman he can’t resist. A woman whose betrayal would destroy him.
You can read the awesome excerpt here.
Erica, how would you describe what you write?
I write character-driven M/F romance—either historical or science fiction. I’ve published one Regency-set historical and I’m working on a medieval. Also in progress are a couple of sequels to my science-fiction erotic romance The Antaren Affair.
And what’s your writing process in a nutshell?
Complete and utter pantser. I start by writing a scene that has been pestering me for a few weeks. It’s always just a random scene involving a hero and heroine. And then I figure it out from there.
For example, in my Regency-set ER, I got the image in my head of a man and a woman having a sexually provocative chat at an inn. So I wrote that scene. Their characters grew out of that encounter—I had to think about what kind of woman would engage in that sort of dialogue in the 19th century. Certainly not a proper lady. So I decided to have the heroine grow up in India with an eccentric father who ignored all social mores. Then I thought about what kind of hero has a one-night fling with a strange woman at an inn? A man who can accept the idea of an independent woman. A man who is intelligent enough to be aroused by a clever woman adept at conversation.
I’m non-linear, so I write whatever I feel like at the moment. If I had to start at the beginning and write through to the end, I’d never finish anything. I have several WIPs and I switch back and forth between them. It just depends on which hero I wake up with in the morning
That's funny. It sounds like the way I write. I call it 'writing all over the book'. I don't write linearly either. What has your submission history looked like? Rejections? Manuscripts written? Number of years ‘seriously writing’, etc?
I have two complete novels that will never see the light of day—one medieval romance and one traditional Regency. I learned a ton writing them. But I eventually figured out that I was very interested in the physicality of social relationships, which I enjoy both reading and writing.
I’ve been writing fiction fitfully since 2000, but in 2009, I decided to try erotic romance. I felt freed up by the shorter lengths possible in e-publishing. My problem was that writing 100K bored me, but working with a shorter story arc, somewhere between 30–40K, felt just right.
So, how did you pick your publisher?
Once I decided that my niche was ER, I went straight to Ellora’s Cave. I submitted my story there and sold it. I suggest that authors read books published by the publisher they’re targeting in order to match up their work with the right house.
What’s your ‘call’ story?
Not as exciting as you’d expect. I got an email from the editor to whom I’d submitted and she just said that she’d like to contract my story. I was excited, but I also felt that sooner or later it would happen as long as I kept hacking away. I did dance around the house a bit, which really freaked out the cat. And then I called my sister and gushed for about fifteen minutes straight. My sister is my biggest fan and supporter and she was as excited as I was.
A 'call' is a call, right? Did you have an agent when you sold? Now?
Nope. No agent. One of the benefits of writing for e-publishers is the ability to get serious consideration without an agent. I think I would seek out an agent if and when I try to break into print publishing. But I’m not convinced that the future of erotic romance is in print publishing. This is an exciting time to be writing—change is happening so fast.
I agree. It certainly is an exciting time. What’s it like working with a publisher and editor? Are revisions really as bad as you hear?
I’ve been very happy with my experiences at Ellora’s Cave, and Grace is one amazing editor. She has both an eye for detail and a great sense of humor—trust me, that’s a good thing in an editor!
So far, my submissions haven’t needed much revising. But I tend to self-edit an MS to within an inch of its life before I submit. I’m sure the time will come when I need to revise by (re)writing or deleting large chunks of text, but I want to avoid that as long as I can. One key, at least for me, is to let an MS sit for a few weeks after I’ve finished it. Then, when I go back and reread it, I have a much more critical and distanced eye and can spot problems before I submit.
I totally understand the desire to type “The End” and turn around and submit. But I just close the file and start working on something else, which takes my mind off the finished MS and allows me to be productive while I get some distance.
Of course, I have to agree about Grace! After all, she might read this :). How did you feel the first time you saw your cover? How much input did you have?
I adore my first cover. I was thrilled. Overjoyed. And very, very lucky. My input was limited to a brief description of the H/H. I’m fortunate to write for a publisher that puts time and money into cover design. I think some e-publishers make a major mistake by going cheap on covers.
What was release day like for you?
Anti-climactic. And since my coworkers in real life don’t know what I do on the weekends, I couldn’t exactly crow over the water cooler that my erotic romance was just released.
LOL. How did you market your book?
Promo is a massive part of e-publishing—more than I realized at first. I try to maintain a web presence through my blog and by posting frequently on Goodreads. I have so far refused to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts because of the time involved. I realize that I’m probably missing out on readers, though. The more I get involved in on-line groups, blogs, commenting, etc., the more I realize that I have to set boundaries.
That said, the on-line romance and erotic romance communities are amazing—I’m convinced that romance readers and writers are some of the nicest, most supportive people in the publishing business.
Yes, I'd have to agree! What’s the most surprising thing you learned during the publishing process?
This isn’t a surprise so much as it’s a self-realization—how addictive writing can be. When I’m really involved in a story, I actually resent having to do anything else, including eating and sleeping!
I also discovered that in e-publishing, you have to maintain momentum—months between releases, rather than years. That’s the thing about our technologically driven world—time is compressed and faster is better. That’s a lot of pressure for a writer!
What do you think were the factors that got you published?
Two things: 1) editing until the MS was as perfect as I could make it and 2) matching my work with the right publisher.
Also critical was constantly reading and writing—reading because you can’t be a good writer without being a voracious reader and writing because you can always improve.
I worked in publishing for several years and one of the things that amazed me was encountering writers who felt that altering a single word of their work was a desecration of their art
Yes, I think you have to constantly grow as a writer. What’s your 5 year plan look like?
Wow—I have so much going on and a bottomless pit of story ideas. First up is to finish the three stories that I’m working on which are set in the same universe as The Antaren Affair.
Then I want to finish a book-length medieval erotic romance and submit it to a print publisher.
Then I plan to return to a Regency-set erotic romance WIP that’s been languishing for months.
I’d like to eventually support myself by writing, but I’m a long way from that point in my life. I’m sort of embarrassed to say that I don’t have a plan, other than to keep writing as fast as I can, as often as I can. Having a day job is sooo annoying!
Sounds like a plan to me :). So, what’s next for you?
My sequel to The Antaren Affair features Lt. Jholtan, who was a character in TAA. It’s called The Vanoran Affair (really original, right?) and you can read an excerpt here.
What’s the best advice you can impart to writers aspiring to be published?
1) Develop a thick skin;
2) Understand that you can always improve your writing;
3) Write--unplug from the net, shut the door, turn off the phone and get your butt in the chair.
Awesome advice! Number 3 in particular. Thank you so much for being here today, Erica. I appreciate how much you opened up about your journey and the insights you've shared. I learned some things about you I didn't know! If anyone would like to learn more about Erica or keep up to date on her books or anything else, you can visit her on her blog.