Today's REV UP WEDNESDAY guest is USA Today Bestselling Author and Ellora's Cave powerhouse, Jaid Black (pseudonym for Tina M. Engler, founder and owner of Ellora's Cave Publishing). She is known to many as the "Queen of Steam," a well earned moniker. Her motto? "Well-behaved women seldom make history." - by Laurel Ulrich. When publishers wouldn't contract her books because they were too risqué, what did she do? She started her own publishing company, with a focus on digital books. And today, that company has grown to become one of the Big Six of the digital publishing world. This alone can give you an idea of the kind of person Jaid is - but aside from her amazing, unique credentials, she is funny, respectful, down to earth, and most of all, she calls a spade a spade. Even better, she really loves "Chocolate Mouse Royale ice-cream from Baskin & Robbins, Jamocha Almond Fudge ice-cream from Baskin & Robbins, & Mint Chocolate Chip ice-cream from damn near anywhere." (taken from Jaid's website). How could I ever disagree? To top it off, she has some really great advice to give readers here. I really like this lady, don't you?
More about Jaid...
How long have you been writing?
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
After The Empress' New Clothes was published and people actually bought it. It was a "wow!" & an "aha" moment for me :-)
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
Go for it.
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
For reading, true crime and old school romance faves. (By old school I mean favorite romance authors I read before I started writing it!) For writing, I prefer erotic sci-fi romance capture fantasies.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
I worked as an international reservations agent at Continental Airlines. To this day I remember the airport codes of most major cities... too bad that never comes up in Trivial Pursuit, lol.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
I don't believe in taking writing courses unless it's for learning something technical, like formatting screenplays. As to writing in general, you're either born with the gift or you're not. It's like being a fast runner; you either are or you aren't.
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
I have written under 3 names, Jaid Black being the most popular. I intended to be Jade Black (as opposed to Jaid), but at the time AOL was pretty much it in terms of the online experience and firstname.lastname@example.org was already taken so email@example.com I became. (FYI: I don't use AOL anymore, lol.)
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
A few years after I had been published multiple times at my company, Ellora's Cave! By then I didn't need the money, but I did need the personal validation of knowing someone - anyone! - other than myself would publish me. Plus, it was good exposure for EC.
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
No. That manuscript, if you use the term very loosely, will never see the light of day lol. I don't even know what happened to it actually. Maybe anthropologists will unearth it 1000 years from now :-P
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
Of my first published novel? One. I can't imagine writing more than 1 draft.
Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
I avoid them like the plague. You know what they say about opinions.
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I subbed directly to publishers; they rejected me for being too "pornographic" so I created my own company.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
By the time I accepted a contract from an outside publisher, EC was already doing very, very well. So basically I phoned Ethan Ellenberg up, told him I'd been offered a contract with Berkley, and asked him if he would represent me, lol.
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
Many, many times. Every rejection made me cry.
What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?
With agents it always has to do with trends, or at least it does 99% of the time. With publishers it pretty much depends on the house, but most of them seem to gravitate toward established trends. There are, however, publishers like Ellora's Cave that set those trends by taking chances.
What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?
I said it 11 years ago and I'll say it again now: digital publishing will one day be the only type of publishing that exists. It's naive to think that everything in life BUT books will advance in terms of technology. Not to mention the fact that print books put a strain on our natural environment; it takes a substantial number of trees to make one box of Kleenex so you can imagine the waste caused by the mass production of print books. It doesn't help that bookstores rip the covers off and make them unsellable if they don't move them in X number of days, then turn around and reorder the same titles two months later. Recycling is more expensive than most people think so to use recycled paper the majority of publishers would have to pass that cost onto someone else (raise the price of books for the consumer or lower author pay) to stay financially sound. In other words, recycling isn't used much in the print industry.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
I think authors should do whatever feels right to them. They need to go into it with realistic expectations, though. A good editor is worth their weight in gold and doesn't come cheap. You need a professional quality book cover and good artists don't come cheap. You need to market the hell out of your name and ads definitely are not cheap! Plus the market is already flooded with self-pubbed books, the vast majority of which seem to be lacking in editing, art, and marketing.
How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?
I feel badly for the clerks being put out of work by the big chains. Unfortunately, they are the casualties of technological evolution.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
Both. The vast majority of my sales are digital, though.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
Behave professionally. Don't get involved in gossip and drama. Believe in your writing or no one else will. NEVER give up! When you do make it, don't read reviews of your books because your editor will give you a heads up when a good one comes in. If negative reviews somehow penetrate your self-imposed bubble... fuck 'em. It's just one person's opinion and people tend to take the time to write for negative reasons far more so than for positive ones. From a publisher's standpoint the most important rule to remember is this: Do not bite the hand that feeds you; it's tacky, classless, thankless, and professional suicide. What I've learned over the years is that if an author will publicly attack one publisher, they will attack you too if you contract them.
What are you working on now?
A story for the Ellora's Cave anthology, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?
Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
The most challenging to date was Kil from Enslaved. I knew people wanted his story very badly so I felt intense pressure.
How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?
Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?
Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?
Doing the same thing I do now, but taking on additional entertainment venues. I've got several things in the works right now that I can't talk about yet. (Sorry!)
What's your website URL?
Are you on Facebook?
How do you connect with readers?
Facebook, Twitter, and RomantiCon.
And lastly, please tell readers about the recent experience of having one of your EC books hit the NYT bestseller list.
I'm positively thrilled! Not only is it our first book to hit the major lists, but the author who wrote it (Laurann Dohner) is exclusive to EC. Nobody can say she only made the list because of books she has in New York. This is a dream come true for me!
She has been described by veteran Hollywood actor/writer/director Emilio Estevez as "A wonderful satirist!" Jaid Black is the pseudonym of Tina M. Engler, the founder & owner of Ellora's Cave Publishing. Ms. Engler has been featured in every available news outlet, from the Washington Post and L.A. Times to Forbes, Publisher's Weekly, national TV news stations, and the Montel Show. Ms. Engler was officially recognized by Romantic Times Magazine with their first ever Trail Blazer award as the mastermind of erotic romance as you know and love it today. Writing as Jaid Black, her books have received numerous distinctions, including a nomination for the Henry Miller award for the best literary sex scene written in the English language.
Latest and upcoming releases:
Something Wicked This Way Comes: Volume I
~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.