Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: DellArte Press

Earlier I reviewed Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press. My primary focus was on the quality of book an author using that service would get. I didn’t review either of the books for content and I don’t intend to, unless I read one of them and decide I like it. In which case, I’ll be happy to give the author a plug. Today, I want to do the same thing I did before, but I want to focus my attention on a couple of books published by Harlequin’s DellArte Press. I also want to identify differences between DellArte Press and WestBow Press.

The books I purchased are Dargan’s Desire by Wendy Young and Half-Breed by Phylly Smith. You can’t tell by the picture, but these books are smaller than there WestBow Press brethren. The WestBow Press books are 6x9 and these are 5x8, but in this case I think the smaller size is a good thing. Half-Breed is only 107 pages and had 35 lines per page, with about 400 words per page. With about 42,000 words, it doesn’t even qualify as a novel. (And let me just say one thing, if you’re going to write a story, learn where you should insert paragraphs.) Dargan’s Desire is thicker, with 218 pages. The word count should be something over 80,000 words.

They’re stock photos, but the covers on these books are eye catching. Keep in mind that all four of these books are produced by the same company, but two are through an agreement with Thomas Nelson and two are through an agreement with Harlequin. The covers for the Thomas Nelson versions are blah and the covers for the Harlequin versions are eye catching. I would love to know why that is. So, Michael Hyatt or anyone else from Thomas Nelson or Harlequin, if you happen to be reading this, I would love to know why the covers are so noticeably different.

The interiors of the DellArte books have the same blank page at the front that the WestBow books have. I was expecting that. The pages of these books are also numbered correctly, unlike the WestBow Press books, but since neither of these books have a prologue, we can’t say that this is a true difference. I suspect that if the WestBow Press books hadn’t had a prologue they would have been numbered correctly also.

Now here’s the thing that will get you Harlequin authors out there. I don’t have many recent Harlequin books. I have a copy of First Mates by Cecelia Dowdy which is published under Harlequin’s Steeple Hill imprint. I can say that the physical quality of the DellArte books is noticeably higher than for that book, which from what I have seen is typical of Harlequin books. That must really burn some of their author’s up.

I’m still not sure that I would recommend going this route to publication, but based on book size and cover design, I think I would choose Harlequin’s DellArte Press over Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press.

Now, on to the thing that would make either of these options truly worthwhile. I haven’t noticed with Harlequin or Thomas Nelson really getting behind these imprints. At the moment, I wonder if they might not be a little embarrassed by them. They’re trying to position themselves for success, just in case self-publishing gains market share, but they’re doing nothing to help their author’s. Consider that the Harlequin books and the Thomas Nelson books both have multiple blank pages. In a typical Thomas Nelson book and especially in a Harlequin book, these pages would be used to promote other books published by the company. Granted, Thomas Nelson seems to focus more on the next book by the same author, but in the Steeple Hill book I mentioned above, Harlequin advertises nine other books, a subscription service and a website. It’s unthinkable that they would allow four blank pages go unused unless they just don’t care. Given the flak they took over the original name they chose, I can understand why they might not want to mention their traditionally published books, but I’m surprised they don’t have other DellArte books plastered all over that thing. If I were publishing a book through DellArte Press or WestBow Press, I would hope that my book would appear in some of the other books published under the same imprint, but that’s just me.

E is For Erotic?

I’ve paid very little attention to EPIC, but I saw that Brandilyn Collins was bragging on her friend Stuart Vaughn Stockton winning an award from them. I followed the link to their list of winners and what I saw was shocking. Out of twenty-nine books that won awards for writing, ten of them included the word erotic or erotica in the category title. It made me wonder if EPIC, which claims to support electronic publishing, believes the “e” in eBook is for erotic. 10 out of 29—that is more than a third of the categories. I thought one category was very fitting. The winner of the category Erotica—Sinful.

I’ve never been real big on awards anyway. I figure organizations give awards primarily as a means to raise awareness of the organization. In this case, I didn’t see any names I recognized, which makes me question the creditability of the organization even more, but what particularly bothers me is that eBooks may become known as a haven for people who are out to peddle their pornographic wares. We have seen an increase in the popularity of eBooks recently. I would hate to think how much of that is driving by people who are looking for access to the pornographic material they find in erotica.

Pornography is a home wrecker and erotica is no exception. It is addictive. It encourages men to put unrealistic expectations on their wives and wives to put unrealistic expectations on their husbands. There is a desire for an increased level of stimulation and when their senses are deadened to what they find in erotica and to what their spouse can provide, they turn to other things and other people, hoping it will bring the excitement they once found through what they read. But spouses are jealous people and rightfully so. They quickly feel neglected and a rift is created in the home. For that reason, we should have nothing to do with it or the people who support it.