Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Today I have a wonderfully special guest being interviewed here on the blog today. Lori Perkins, the co-founder of Ravenous Romance talks about her career as a literary agent and then branching off into opening an e-publishing company. I've read a couple of books by Ravenous Romance authors such a Keta Diablo, Lisa Lane and Elle Amery and they won't be my last. I have recently been helping out the Ravenous Romance authors create a wonderful blog for them to promote their blogs so you have to check out Ravenous Romance Authors blog.
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that going into the literary business was the career for you? How did you choose who to represent as a literary agent? Lori Perkins: I have a journalism degree from NYU and had started a newspaper in upper Manhattan. Since I couldn’t pay my authors that much, I was always telling them where to sell their articles. One of them told me I was like their agent. Then my editor left to work for an agent, and he said I would make a great agent. An opportunity came to work in an agency, and I went for it. I hated the sleazy guy I worked for, but I loved the work, and I sold a book in auction right away. The editor called and invited me to meet with him. I spent hours sorting through my closet looking for the right clothes to wear (he was the V.P. of a big company), but when I got to his office, he informed me we weren’t going to lunch. He told me I was working for a man with a bad reputation, that I was a good agent, and that I should quit as soon as I got back to the office. Which I did. I got a job with another agent, who taught me everything I know, but she was a screamer, and I hated being yelled at, so I set up my own business after 3 years of training. I love getting new writers into print. I see being an agent as an extension of my editor training. I like to think of myself as a writer’s fairy godmother, making dream’s come true. Phoebe: Did you know what type of genre writers you wanted to represent? Did that change over the years? Lori: I started out representing investigative reporters, and I thought I would find the great American novel of my generation. But I soon learned that journalists felt that they owned their story (and were therefore terrible to edit) and that literary fiction was a genre just like romance or science fiction. One day, my boss asked if anyone had ever read any of these books by Stephen King, and I confessed that I had read every one (and realized that I often lied when asked what I was reading, “Oh, the new Roth or Updike,” I’d say, when I was actually reading the new King or Rice or Koontz). She said, (and this is a quote), “Poof. You’re the new horror agent.” As soon as she gave me permission to represent horror (which really was one of my passions), I went into the back room where we stored the piles of unsolicteds, and found four horror first novels. I sold them all within a month. And a horror agent was born. I helped start Horror Writers of America with Charlie Grant on the east coast and Dean Koontz on the west coast. I have sold more than 200 vampire novels. So that’s how I became an agent of science fiction, fantasy and horror. I ended up dropping all my investigative journalists, but representing the feature writers (who wrote about music, art, theatre, TV), because they could meet deadlines and didn’t feel they owned their stories, and that’s how I became an agent of popular culture. Because I repped popular culture, I was approached by the adult entertainment industry, and ended up representing a number of those books (I’m Jenna Jameson’s agent). They told two friends and they told two friends, and before I knew it, I was up to my elbows in porn. But I wanted to do more fiction, so I was wondering if I could use this new clout in the erotica and romance market. I started reading erotica and erotic romance, and found some very talented female authors who were writing incredible stuff. I took them on, and sold all of them to the majors—Harlequin, Avon, Bantam, etc. They could write a book a month, but the major New York publishers only wanted a book a year or every year and a half. I looked into the e-pub market and realized there was a tremendous audience for this material, some of whom were already reading online. Phoebe: What pushed you to start Ravenous Romance with Holly Schmidt and Allan Penn? Where do you see RR in two years time? Do you have any long-term goals for RR? Lori: I met Holly and Allan when we were working on nonfiction sexuality books. They wanted to start a romance publishing company. I suggested that the greatest growth was in erotic romance. They researched the market and said, yeah, this is the future. Then we looked into the e-pub business and realized that that really was the future of publishing. We see e-publishing as the new mass market—an affordable way for readers to get as much as they want in a given category. When the economy picks up, we hope to offer other genres of fiction. Phoebe: RR is one of the first to break into audio. Where do you get the readers to tape the books? Are they professional readers? How are the audio sales doing? Lori: The audio book market is huge. Sexuality titles are the best-selling category, so it was only natural to offer erotic romance. We hired one of the studios that produces audiobooks for Audible to record our books. Phoebe: What do you believe to be the heart of the books at RR, the short stories, the anthologies or the full-length novels? Lori: The heart of RR? All categories sell. I think what sets RR apart from other houses is the creative twists we bring to the table, such as retelling of classic romances. For instance, we offer a M/M of Casablanca (MARRAKESH) and an erotic romance that should remind readers of GONE WITH THE WIND (except the Rhett character is a Yankee and he does give a damn!)—LAND OF FALLING STARS. We also take popular ideas from the zeitgeist and spin them. We have an erotic American Idol (all the sex you ever imagined behind the scenes is in AMERICAN STAR) and an erotic Star Trek (LUST IN SPACE is one of my favorites). Phoebe: Is there one genre that is easier to sell than another? Lori: Everything sells. We have readers who will buy 5 books at a time across category. Our best-selling categories are M/M, paranormal and contemporary. Phoebe: Have there been any surprises about the books your writers have submitted? Have any done really well that you didn't think would or vice versa? Lori: We knew M/M was popular, but we didn’t know how popular it was. We thought readers would be impressed by some of our more literary credentials, but they seem to love everything. We were surprised that a third of our readers are men! Phoebe: What do you think of all the technology and the advancement of e-books in the last few years? Do you have any ideas on what the e-publishing world might develop into in the next few years with the advancement of our technology? Lori: I firmly believe that more than 50% of all books sold will be downloaded in 3 years. That is already the case in Japan. There will be one device that you can use as a phone, pocket internet, audio device and reader. Phoebe: Do you think RR will branch into other areas like more male/male novels and Novellas or will it always be short stories and full-length novels? Lori: We’re talking about doing novellas. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Lori: All of the above. I like when an author knows the rules, so she can break them on purpose. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you as a literary agent might give? Lori: Write a short story for one of our anthologies. Read our books, and our author blogs. Join our our Ravenous Readers' group. Many of our novelists sold a story to an anthology and then we coaxed them into writing novels. Off the top of my head, I can think of 10 first time novelists at RR. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you as a literary agent might give? Lori: Do your research. Make sure the agents you are approaching represent what you are writing. Join a writer’s organization. Finish the novel before you approach agents. A lot of romance (and genre) writers are really encouraging to younger writers, so try to get a mentor. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Lori: My favorite books are Dracula, 1984, Alice in Wonderland, Gone with the Wind and Anne Rice’s Beauty Books. I think that taste is reflected in RR. I could read vampire novels for the rest of my life (and into my afterlife). Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Lori: Since I edit three RR titles a week, I no longer read for pleasure. I am currently editing our Sex and Taxes anthology. I am listening to Dharma Key on my car stereo. If I ever get three minutes to myself, I will read X, Susie Bright’s new erotica anthology (which was given to me as a Christmas present). Phoebe: Lori is there anything else you would like to add? Lori: This was an amazing interview. Your questions were really thought provoking. Thanks for having me. Phoebe: Thanks for being on here Lori!

24 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview Phoebe and Lori! Lots of neat information here for aspiring writers too.
    Keta Diablo
    http://ketadiablo.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lori *is* a writer's fairy godmother. I'd been writing and selling erotic short stories for a decade, but none of the novels I wrote had a place in print publishing. They were far outside the margins of editors typically want. But Lori remembered my writing and invited me to submit my works to Ravenous Romance.

    I can't tell you how revitalizing that moment was for me. Now, I'm blessed to have a wonderfully collaborative experience with Lori and all the staff at Ravenous Romance. I hope readers have their own wondrous finds when they visit Ravenous Romance. Believe me, us authors love having the opportunity to bring them to you!

    Debra Hyde
    (Training Desire, Blind Seduction)
    (debrahyde.com)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am leaving a comment even though I am sadly not qualified to win that $25 gift certificate!

    Excellent interview questions, Phoebe, and Lori, wonderful, insightful answers. How the heck did you last three years with a screamer for a boss, though?!

    (this may show up twice - I was signed in under my boyfriend's account when I posted!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lots of great information about your company. I've never bought an audio erotic romance before. I wonder if listening to it makes one feel voyeuristic? It would be fun to listen with hubby though! I agree about the popularity of ebooks but wonder if that percentage will be higher than 50%.
    Thanks for the information!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great interview! Makes me glad to be a part of Ravenous.

    Jamaica Layne

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how amazingly open and and extremely supportive Lori was when I first made contact with her about my book idea. She's first rate in my book and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity!

    Great interview. Thank you!

    p.s. I am unfortunately not eligible to win the G.C. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great interview! Phoebe, you always come up with the most interesting questions ... and thank you, Ms. Perkins, for offering such insightful and thoughtful answers!

    I think I need to reiterate Debra's note that Ms. Perkins really is like a literary fairy godmother. It is not often one meets another with such a passion for all of the genres I love so much, as well as the desire to seek out new talent, and it is an honor to write for Ravenous Romance (I am also ineligible for the gift certificate, but I HAD to post!).

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's been a joy reading this article - great way to get to know Lori a bit better! What Lori says about submitting to the anthologies is true--it's an excellent way to get noticed by the editing staff.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wasn't sure what genre/sub-genre I wanted to write in. The approachability and blogs like Lori's are a big part of why I decided to become a romance writer. Her appearances make my dreams feel doable.

    ReplyDelete
  10. great interview, but Lori always makes agents seem like people.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great answers, Lori! It's so true, research about anything is very important. I've never met someone who works as hard as Lori and enjoys her work, no matter how hard she works!

    About the ebooks, as a librarian in my 'other' life, I have to say I do see ebooks taking over 50% of the market, however, until they're library downloadable friendly, I'm afraid not more than that. Personally I love ebooks, but it's the technology not the content that's a hinder. My 2 cents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's great to know the story behind "Lori". Oh, and my hubs got a real kick out of knowing that your Jenna Jameson's agent.

    Wear your "Writer's Fairy Godmother" title proudly. You earned it. You're a joy to work with.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was a wonderful interview.Lori you earned the crown of Writer's Fairy Godmother!!!Authors are so lucky to have someone like you on their side.Truely an agent that cares about the writers and the readers.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awesome interview, and how cool is that that you were told you would be a great agent? Awesome background story

    ReplyDelete
  15. Awesome interview. It was very interesting to read. lexeetoste@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a great interview.

    I haven't had much time to read for pleasure either in the past year, but I feel compensated because I did edit the new LASTING LUST: KINKY COUPLES IN LOVE anthology that's launching soon on ravenous romance, and I was amazed at how many wonderful, professional writers submitted stories about dedicated couples who are truly in love, and truly love their love lives.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lori -

    Thanks for doing this interview. You certainly have given me a little kick in the pants to start working. Thank you for this, and I can't wait to hear more.

    Tami

    tami.winbush @ gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. What an insightful interview Lori and Phoebe! I loved your questions and responses. It certainly was inspiring.

    Pam S

    pams00@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Lori,

    I loved your interview. I learned so much more about you as a person and an author.

    What is great is that you also enjoyed Anne Rice's beauty books. Not a lot of readers cared that much for them but I found them to be riveting.

    Thank you for having such a great contest and for putting my name in the hat.

    Gayle

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great interview? Is RR selling menage? And how is that selling? Also, it's nice to see that you are looking for authors to break the rules.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, we are doing menage and threesomes. I'm currently looking for short stories (2000-5000 words) for a threesomes antholgoy. Send queries to lperkisnagency@yahoo.com.

    We have a number of menage novels. Two Men and a Lady by Brit M. is great.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Phoebe,
    Thanks for letting me know when you'd posted this!!!! I was looking forward to your interview with Lori.

    I've been listening to the hype about RR for the last couple of months and as a writer, I'm interested.

    I'm keeping my eyes open just in case I have something good to send their way...

    April Morelock

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for the great interview. I will be going over to check out RR. BTW - I love the Beauty books as well.
    lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  24. pout - I had this fairly long comment and of course there was an error and it didn't post. Oh well. I can't even remember most of what I wrote. I talked about m/m romance (big in fanfic/big market), RR's audio (which I love), and how I'm weird and hate Anne Rice's Beauty books.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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Phoebe Jordan
I'm a part-time aspiring romance novelist, book reviewer and blogger. I've always wanted to travel the world and learn everything I can about other countries. Learning the Italian language is one way of trying to make that dream come true. Traveling will help me with my writing because I'll be learning about the history of the U.S., Latin America, England, Italy, and Ireland, the countries I find so fascinating while reading the romance genre.
 
I read and review romance novels of almost every subgenre along with erotic romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels. You can find the reviews at my blogs, Talk About My Favorite Authors and Phoebe Jordan's Reviews. I’ve also started a live podcast show called TAMFA | Phoebe Jordan hosted on Blog Talk Radio. This show is dedicated to everything I love about romance and young adult novels. I love having romance and young adult authors live on my show to be interviewed and showcase their books.

I plan to write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, paranormal romance and young adult when I get my writing career started with help from Keta. I'm not sure what genre I'll write to begin with since I love to read so many different romance genres.
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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Phoebe has read 1 book toward her goal of 180 books.
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