What's New With Red Sage

First let me start by introducing myself. I’m Theresa Stevens, managing editor for Red Sage Publishing, a 15-year-old print house with a 2-year-old e-books division. We’re best known for the Secrets anthologies and for discovering such luminaries as Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Larissa Ione, Emma Holly, Liz Maverick, and several other names that might be familiar to Fierce Readers -- including several of the Fierce Authors!

Red Sage was the first American publisher to release erotic romance stories for a female readership. The concept, as you might know, took off. Erotic romance became the hot trend of the new millennium, and many new publishing houses came on the scene. A lot has changed in the market, and in some ways, Red Sage has changed with it. We now sell e-books, for example, and although novellas will always be part of our core line-up, we’re moving into novels in a more purposeful way. (Now would be a good time to submit your erotic romance novel of 50-80k words for our e-books line!)

But in other, more important ways, Red Sage hasn’t changed. We still want stories which are first and foremost well-told romances. Character and emotion are important. Yes, sex sells, but once the shock value of a specific sex trend has worn off, what keeps people reading these stories are great characters, powerful emotions, and happy endings. They might buy because they like the sexual aspects, but they continue buying because they get something deeper and more moving than empty porn. They get a story told from the heart.

So, with that said, here’s where we are today. The Secrets anthologies are still going strong, though preference for those slots goes to existing Red Sage authors. If you want to be in Secrets, sell to Red Sage Presents (our e-books line) first. We also have a very small line of print novels, and at some point, we plan to grow that line. For now, though, we’re releasing novels in e-books first with the possibility of print later.

Our e-books division is growing. We’re preparing to launch a new Red Sage website -- it will be lovely! -- and we’re focusing on increasing market penetration for our e-books titles. Look for your titles at your favorite e-bookstores! Some of our e-books will soon be available in print, too. We think of digital and print as different formats, different containers for content. We don’t think there should be any quality distinction between the formats. (And our reviews reflect this. Our authors get consistently high marks, regardless of the format for their stories.)

But e-books do allow us to take chances that aren’t always available with print, which is a defined container. E-books are more flexible. We can create hyperlinks within the text in a branching story (Megan’s Choice by Ellie Marvel), release stories in serial format (Secret Confessions of Lady H by Bethany Michaels), and try other experiments with form and function. The files aren’t limited by length, so if we want to include a mini-magazine in each file -- complete with recipes, interviews, and excerpts -- we can do so. It’s fun to work outside the boundaries of the printed page.

I would be happy to answer any questions about submissions in the comments. But if you’re first and foremost a reader, let me recommend a few of our stories.
- Sex & the Single Pearl by Mia Varano. If you’ve been shy of menage stories because you’re “not that kind of girl,” this is the menage story that will change your mind. Even good girls can have naughty fun!
- Scarlett & the Sheriff by Carly Carson. When we talk about great characters, this is what we mean. Scarlett is a real humdinger, and she shakes up Rand’s world with every move she makes. A bright and engaging contemporary, plus handcuffs!
- Forbidden Fruit by Anne Rainey. This story is the best of both worlds -- a smoking hot erotic romance and a traditional romance, all blended together in one beautiful plot. I love the makeover and the way she teases him!
- Nameless Surrender by Kris Daniels. Red Sage has a reputation for quality and for finding the next new wave of top authors. It’s books like this one that keep the reputation alive. Dark, pulsating, and emotional.
- Quinn’s Curse by Natasha Moore. I almost wrote “anything by Natasha Moore” because it’s so hard to pick just one of her stories. Quinn’s Curse is an unusual story -- a ghost pirate and the woman he haunts -- and Red Sage is known for these amazing, oustide-the-box stories.
- Devil in a Kilt by Nicole North. This is the first in a planned trilogy of Secrets stories involving Highland warriors and shapeshifters. You have to read this one first, and then the second one, which I love, comes out in summer 2010.
- Second Nature by Cameo Brown. This story is so creative and inventive. I promise you, after reading this one, you’ll never again take a walk in the woods without thinking of it. (Trust me on this. I live next to a forest!)
Thanks so much for being our guest here at FR today, Theresa!
Everyone, yes, if you have questions for Theresa, please ask. (She loves questions. :))
26 Responses
  1. Mason Canyon Says:

    Hi Theresa, thanks for the book suggestions. I'll definitely have to check out Second Nature. I live in the country.
    I'd love to work with you on getting on Red Sage's reviewer list, if possible. I'd also like to see if we could do something together with the hyper links you mention in featuring some of the books on my blog
    I focus a lot on mystery books, but I love all types and sometimes you just have to have a break from all the murder mystery.
    Hope to heard from you.

  2. Carly Carson Says:

    Welcome, Theresa,

    I didn't know you were going to be on here today. I can't wait to see the new website! Thanks for joining us.

  3. Missy Lyons Says:

    The choose your own adventure book by Ellie Marvel is definitely on my to be read pile.

    Can you tell us any trends you are seeing in the ebook market? For example a certain genre that may be outperforming others you would like to see more submissions in?

  4. Mia Varano Says:

    Hi Theresa, thanks for joining us at Fierce Romance. Looking forward to the new website. Also, I guess it goes without saying once you see a Red Sage Presents cover - but the covers on these stories are some of the best around!

  5. Mason, I'll email you separately.

    Hi, Carly! *waves*
    Hi, Mia! *waves*
    Thanks for inviting me!

    Missy, we see soft trends. Some story types are likely to sell more than others (paranormal, menage, super-erotic historicals), but not all stories of that type will perform well. And some underperforming types can have a standout title. There are no guarantees.

    That said, in general, readers seem to be drawn to very strong men and exotic sexual experiences. Those two factors are key. Craft a fast and tight plot with a hot hero, and layer in some exotic sex, and you'll have a winner.

    As to subgenres, I'll tell you the same thing I tell our in-house authors: anything goes! The beauty of e-books is that there's less financial risk in trying something new, so e-book publishers can take greater risks with content. This is your chance to craft an outside-the-box story, surprise and delight readers who yearn for something fresh, and position yourself at the crest of a trend rather than in its wake.


  6. Theresa, thanks for the great recommendations. I've already read some of them, but just bought more. Yay!

    As you know, I'm hoping to one day be a Red Sage author and have my fingers crossed on my most recent submission.

    As for this purchase, I'll label it for the accountant as "research". Yes, research. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  7. Gotta love those tax deductions, Carol. :) Your subs are in my queue, but I'm in deadline hell right now. Probably won't get to do any meaningful reading until the holiday break. (pout)


  8. Hi Theresa. I wanted to make a quick recommendation for Natasha Moore's Quinn's Curse. I love this read and the cover is hot hot hot! I purchase many ebooks online, but have found that most companies sell novellas and conte length in this format. It is difficult to find an epic novel in ebook. Why is this? Are novellas a trend right now and epic novels or greater than 70,000 words a thing of the past. I ask because I continually hear my writer friends saying "I just finished my novella" or "Thirty-thousand words and almost done." For those of us who enjoy writing longer books, where do we go from here since digital is obviously becoming a staple in the publishing world? Thanks for always providing valuable information for up and coming writers.
    ~Pauline Allan

  9. sherry Says:

    I really like your Secret series I have the first 22 books in it I plan on getting the rest of them sometime I really enjoying reading them. There is some of the best authors writing stories for the series.

  10. Ah, well, that gives me something to look forward to in the new year.

  11. Edittorrent Says:

    Hi, Pauline, and thanks for the great question. I think publishers were initially excited by the prospect of being able to offer short stories and novellas as stand-alone titles, something that's simply not an option in print. And the conventional wisdom was (not is but was) that people would want shorter works when they were reading on computer screens.

    For Red Sage, because we're primarily known as a novella publisher, when we moved into e-books, it was natural for us to focus on that length. This worked very well when we were starting up that part of the business, but reader feedback indicates that they're hungry for longer works now.

    How long is long? Probably in the 60-90k range, with a sweet spot right around 75k. Readers aren't clamoring for truly epic works, and I suspect it would be difficult to sustain an erotic romance at anything over 100k. Not impossible, but difficult.

    By the way, I'm a big fan of enormous, fat, gigantic, books-by-the-pound. It's increasingly difficult to find good ones in the bookstores. Got any recommendations?


  12. Edittorrent Says:

    I am awesome. I just posted from the wrong blogging account. Go, me!

    Theresa, doing it again on purpose this time.

  13. I really enjoyed Ellie Marvel's MEGANS' CHOICE and would love to read more in the series! ;)

    I also thought Nathalie Gray's AGENT PROVOCATEUR was a blast. Very edgy and intense.

    If you're looking for a good door-stopper book, I loved Dan Simmons' THE TERROR and highly recommend it if you're into alternate history military horror/supernatural.

  14. Kristin Says:

    Hi Theresa! I just wanted to pop in and say welcome to Fierce Romance. It's so great to have you here. Happy Holidays to you!

  15. Here's a few suggestions for longer reads...JR Ward's Lover Avenged, Anne Rampling's (Anne Rice)Belinda, George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops, and one of my all time fav's is Charlotte Featherstone's Addicted. I'm going to try to skim down new book 4 to the "sweet spot" of 75,000 words. Theresa, thanks again for the great information.
    ~Pauline Allan

  16. Liz Falkner Says:

    Theresa -

    Can't wait for the new website debut. Besides the great stories, what sets Red Sage apart IMO are the covers. The Secrets anthologies are instantly recoganizable and the individual covers of the ebooks are of a high quality.


  17. Leigh Court Says:

    Hi Theresa!
    As if my book addiction wasn't bad enough, Red Sage just keeps putting out more and more awesome titles! Good thing the holidays are coming up so I can indulge my e-reader co-dependence issues without guilt.


  18. Natasha Says:

    Hi Theresa! I'll add my welcome to Fierce Romance and shoot in a thanks for recommending Quinn's Curse and my other Red Sage stories. :) Looking forward to seeing the new website.

    I'm excited to hear about the print possibilties coming up. It's great to have stories available in both formats.

  19. Wes Says:

    I'm excited about the future of e-publishing, Theresa. By chasing out the costs of printing, distribution, and returns, you are opening the doors to experimentation, niche markets, new authors, and wider readership.

    PS: For readers of this blog who have not seen this pic before, note the sign, "Red Sage Spa", in the background. I found it in the Medicine Bow Range of Wyoming where the 60s TV show THE VIRGINIAN was set.

  20. Edittorrent Says:

    Wes, honestly, distribution costs are still high with e-books. Surprisingly high. But production costs are lower for digital-only releases.

    As to returns, Red Sage's return rate was historically in the single digits. That changed this year with the changes in the supply chain, but I still think we outperform the market with respect to returns.

    Liz, thank you for the kind comments about our covers. Our art director, Tara, works very hard with our designers to ensure each cover captures the essence of the story. I love what they do! Glad you do, too!


  21. Sandy Says:

    Interesting post, Theresa. I've read some of Mia's work, and I like them a lot.

  22. Cameo Brown Says:

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing your time with all of us, Theresa!

  23. Murphy Says:

    Hi Theresa,

    I had a busy day today, but I wanted to stop by and see what you're doing. Great information and lots of good reading! Good luck with the new website!

  24. Eliza Knight Says:

    Thank you for sharing the information and the book recs! I might have a story to submit in early 2010 :)

  25. Wes Says:

    Theresa, amazing that distribution costs are still high.

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