Monday, April 23, 2012

Q/A With Sizzler Intoxications Editor

In the last few years Sizzler Editions has added a focus on Erotic Romance, trying to capture market share with an audience not so different than their own . We present an interview discussing this and more with editor Sascha Illyvich, an author who has been with Sizzler Editions since the early days. 

Welcome, Sascha
Thanks.  By the way, that intro was so corporate and boring.  You should change it.

You'd know, you're the editor. What prompted you to approach the publisher about an erotic romance line?
To be honest, my heart has always leaned towards erotic romance.  Seeing an opportunity for expansion in the erotic market seemed like a natural progression to me. After discussing  goals for Sizzler Editions, and keeping in mind the essentials for a great story and what experience I had, I approached the publisher.  Erotica is a great niche, but stats have shown that erotic romance accounts for more sales than science fiction, mystery and other genres COMBINED.  Women really buy a lot of books and know JUST what they want.  It turns out, I want it too, as a male. 

A month later, I began accepting submissions for the line.

Transitioning from author to editor must have been difficult.  How did you manage? Writers have hectic schedules and from your blog and twitter feed, it looks like you'd have trouble fitting in one more thing.
This was a case of I could use the credit and experience to further my career, or I could remain where I was AND struggle to find a way to pay it back and forward.  For me, it was an easy decision to pick up the editing cap because it gave me a way to help solve two problems.  First, a publishing house trying to expand into a new market needed some bigger names.  Thankfully I have enough friends that have come forward to write for us and would give me books, thus giving us a solid start and launch.  Second, there are a lot of writers who needed a place to start because they have a voice and have talent that needs encouraging through my rough and demanding standards. There is a lot of great talent coming out in erotic romance and erotica, and it needs a home.  Because of my past and who I've surrounded myself with, my skill set can create a new generation of writers that aren't as lost as I was.  Or at least that's my hope *G*  

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. What are you looking for specifically?
I want quality erotic romances in any genre.  Specifically, stories that meet the RWA guidelines for romance, including a central love story and a satisfying ending (Sometimes referred to as an HEA) I want the characters to struggle with themselves and with each other until they realize that ultimately love conquers all.  One of our very first submissions, Soulmate's Touch by Emma Paul fit this perfectly. The hero, a gargoyle wasn't ultra alpha but he was yummy, and the heroine didn't give in without a fight.   There was plenty of action in the story to keep me interested and it fit into my love of paranormal, which can be re-branded as science fiction romance.  Delilah's Passion by Sarah Bella has also been a stunning, erotic romance that fit perfectly the vision I have for our new reader base. We're seeking stories 30k and longer.  I want clearly defined conflict, preferably an external conflict that ramps up the pressure, and sex that forwards the plot.  Don't hold back sexually either, we want to burn the sheets up with our authors sex scenes, and in many cases have done just that.  

Is there anything you'll outright reject?
Yes, we don't touch the four sins, pedophilia, necrophilia (vampires and such don't count), underage acts, no bestiality (again werewolves and such are fine), no water sports.  There are other venues that are more appropriate for that sort of thing where people have money to defend the legal shit storm that may come their way for publishing such material.   I will also outright reject a poorly formatted story, I'll shoot down poor grammar, poorly written stories and things i have to work too hard to fix.  Our guidelines are clear on the website, both Sizzler Editions and my personal site.

You've released a number of very successful anthologies.  Tell us about those.
Sure.  My motto in business is if you want to be a success, find out what those more successful are doing and emulate them.  And do a better job. Looking at my bookshelf, I have a half a dozen or so four author themed anthologies with some pretty big names in them.  We put out a few calls for various themes back in 2010 to start putting out anthologies in 2011 and came out with a few damn good collections and anthologies.

My first anthology was Riding the Rocket featuring such classics as Cecilia Tan, M. Christian, Ralph Greco Jr, along with some of the bigger names from m/m erotic romance like Kiernan Kelly and TJ Golden.  "Rocket" is a science fiction erotic romance themed anthology and contains thirteen stories by a range of voices in m/m erotic fiction.  

At the same time, we put out a call for a romantic BDSM themed anthology of just four authors.  The stories had heart, heat and conflict. The authors in both collections did a great job of marketing and I couldn't be more proud of them.

As an editor, how do you decide the order to list the authors in?  Is it a numbers game or popularity contest?
Totes.  Seriously, no.  With a multiple author short story collection I want to take the readers on a ride, a journey.  Based on the tone of the stories, I want them to finish the book with an "ahh, I'm happy" feeling because the authors I've chosen for a project are able to mix the various techniques of lightness or darkness in atmosphere and setting along with what I'm looking for.  With "Rocket" for example, I started off with Cecilia Tan's story because she IS a name drawer but it's for a reason.  Her story set the tone for the entire rest of the anthology.  Ralph Greco's story Omakine broke from the seriousness in her story, Michael Mandrake's story gave us a different view of m/m love, while Kiernan's story showed us a lesson at just the right point in the collection.  The truth is, to me, it doesn't matter really what order the stories are presented, because readers may just find their favorite authors and read them, skipping around.  I want our readers to be able to stop on ANY page in a collection we release and find something that will catch their eye and make them start at the beginning of the story.

With anthologies like "The Sexiest Time of the Year" and "My Sexy Valentine" I had no big name draw, but I had damn good stories.  The challenge remained the same.  In My Sexy Valentine, our authors had given us snark, sex, story, and heart.  The same can be said of our Christmas Anthology.  Each author has given readers an unexpected take on the theme, be it holiday, BDSM, or what have you.  Again, taking you the reader, on a ride is my job. 

Will you continue with the anthologies?
Indeed.  They're a great way for us to expand our audience while finding new talent.  You can find out more about our calls for submissions by following @SaschaIllyvich on twitter, at the Sizzler Editions website and of course this blog.

On behalf of Sizzler Editions, thank you for your time.  
What? That's it?  Seriously?  Ha, it's my pleasure to share with our readers and authors.  Also, I still think your intro is bullshit.

1 comment:

  1. See my Sensei Rocks! Loves ya! And yes is is a great Editor too....just don't expect and easy ride, work hard and he'll do you right!