AMBER LOVE 25-JULY-2013 You may recall that when ERIC RUBEN joined me for a VODKA O’CLOCK podcast previously, the audio sounded like we were on on the cargo bay of a spaceship. We had better luck this time with minor background noise and the occasional roaring truck passing. Eric is a literary agent, entertainment lawyer, and actor. This is a very long edition of VOC, happily so. We hadn’t talked in a while so it’s about two hours of romance, erotica, sex, BDSM, LGBT, publishing, pitfalls, and my unbridled enthusiasm unleashed.
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One of the main proponents for me to get Eric back on the show is because he regularly participates in the Twitter interaction using hashtag #askagent where anyone is invited – not to pitch – but to ask questions that you may have for a literary agent/lawyer. (Twitter: @rubenagency).
We take off running by talking about the stigmas of erotic fiction and why some repressed conservatives are so ashamed of sexuality. We fondly think back to how it must have been back in the ancient times when art could show genitalia before it was deemed too embarrassing and master works were ordered to be altered and covered up. The difference between erotica and porn is that erotica involves relationships. Eric explains the impact that ebooks have had on bringing LGBT books to areas where there aren’t gay-friendly bookstores. The ereaders also make the experience private.
“It’s amazing that lightning has not struck me down at this point.” ~Amber
“Everyone with few exceptions is a very sexual being whether they want to admit to it or not. And whether you’re in a relationship or not, you have a sexual identity.” ~ ER
Publishers, agents, and writers have to work on how to market the manuscript. The category is important to getting it out there to the right target audience. If you have a lead character that is a police detective solving mysteries and she happens to be a lesbian, the weight and importance of the character’s sexuality will help the team determine if it’s shelved under “Mysteries” or under “LGBT fiction.”
Susan Brockman, a New York Times Bestseller, began with romance then to Navy SEALs and then to a character who is in the FBI and happens to be gay. Eric explains the character isn’t just the gay best friend that helps a female protagonist pick out shoes. He’s on the job and might unwind in a gay bar at the end of the day. He calls it a romantic-suspense that happens to have a gay character. By the way, if you’re into Navy SEAL fiction, Eric’s client Anne Elizabeth has authored A SEAL AT HEART.
Besides #askagent, Eric also does #tenqueries where he describes a query and explains why he chose to accept or pass on the project. Remember to check those out on Twitter. You can ask things like I did in this episode: Once rejected, can a writer re-submit after editing? Would you represent an author who has a criminal past? A key reason Eric might take a risk on a new author is if he finds that their personalities compliment each other.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a publishing discussion if we didn’t talk about rejections and also the cases, like J.K. Rowling who had been rejected (under her real name and pseudonym) before finding success.
“Just be kind to yourself. You’re okay!” ~ER
Around the one hour mark, Eric regails me in the stories of how some writers and agents have faced terrible threats. By being in the public eye, they are judged on every aspect of their lifestyles from their sexual orientations to their dietary practices such as when his client Alex Jamieson, a renowned vegan chef stopped being vegan.
“Just because you don’t fit a certain type of beauty, doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful.” ~ER
Our talk even takes a quick tangent into the world of cosplay and age appropriate wardrobe. Somehow we manage to tie publishing into a chat about the sex offender registry. There’s no excuse for inappropriate behavior regardless of poor choices on the victim’s part. Eric ponders that some men are simply raised badly. In all fairness, while I deem a lot of behavior sexist, some women wouldn’t be offended by particular remarks.
“Maybe we should have our own Comic Con Douchebag Registry.” ~Amber
One of the listeners who paid attention that we’d be doing this show, submitted a question. He wanted to know if Eric could recommend a way for illustrators to meet agents. Eric suggested Book Expo America (BEA) and meet people who make picture books. Also, he suggested New York Comic Con since New York is still the center of publishing.
“We’re all here to serve in some way or capacity.” ~ER
Be on the look out for Eric Ruben in October for the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book Conference.
Podcast Recommendations from me and Eric:
- The Bailey Jay Show – if you’re rude, crude, and socially unacceptable (NSFW)
- The Nerdist – pop culture’s top interviews
- The Nerdist Writers’ Panel & the Comic Book Writers’ Panel – TV and comic writers who have been at every level
- The Business on KCRW public radio in LA
- The Treatment also on KCRW
- Marc Maron’s WTF
- Mental Illness Happy Hour @mentalpod with Paul Gilmartin