Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Man Candy Monday: Black Lace and Nexus suspended

with 56 comments

danielcraig_samtaylorwood_5He giveth with one hand, he taketh with the other – perhaps appropriate for the God of One-Handed Reads.

So there we were on Thursday, merrily celebrating Xcite putting a guy on a book cover thanks to us, and then BAM! On Friday, along came a press release stating that the UK’s main women’s erotica imprint, Black Lace, was to fold after 16 years.

OK, so the official line is the imprint, along with Nexus, has been put on hold with no new titles released in 2010. Authors haven’t yet heard anything but the mood is gloomy. It’s been a long, difficult weekend, particularly for debut authors whose books are scheduled to be released towards the end of 2009.

There’s a lot of bewilderment, sadness and anger. Comments on The Bookseller site include:

The loss of Black Lace and Nexus will leave a huge hole in what is left of literary, intelligent erotica and, I’m sure, must be devastating for Adam Nevill and all the authors currently writing for the imprints.

How stupid is Virgin Books, and in particular how strategically dumb is Mr. Sadler?

I think the marketing department may be screwing things up for them. No doubt this is a recession cost cutting thing. I love Black Lace. I want to see more.

Some Black Lace books are stunning in their intellectual exploration of sexuality and beauty of literary expression.

Between them Black Lace and Nexus have been responsible for most of the worthwhile literary erotica published over the last two decades […] It is a great shame that Random House seem incapable of appreciating the value of this […] The closure – and who believes they are merely suspended – of these two imprints is a foolish and cowardly decision.

Inevitably, there’s been a lot of chat, sympathy and speculation on Twitter (#blacklace) and elsewhere. Some have wondered whether the high number of reprints have damaged sales or if Black Lace has failed to keep pace with a growing and changing erotica market. Others have asked if the imprint’s move towards erotic romance a couple of years ago damaged brand identity and caused confusion and loss of reader confidence. Most longstanding Black Lace authors are only too aware of Virgin and Random House’s failure to invest in the line. Marketing was practically non-existent, the website rarely got updated, advances and flat fees were down and our fabulous editor, Adam Nevill, worked his nuts off trying to keep Black Lace and Nexus alive despite the loss of key members of his staff due to ‘reorganisation and cuts’ in 2008.

daniel_craig_shirtless_2And so, in our current economic climate, the vulnerable go to the wall. Authors are hoping to hear something more concrete this week, and there’s understandable anger at the company’s ability to write a press release announcing the line’s suspension yet inability to inform its authors. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, get your orders in for Volume 1 of Best Women’s Erotica from Black Lace, due out next month (September in the States). The table of contents reads like a roll call of today’s top erotica writers, established and upcoming: Charlotte Stein, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Justine Elyot, Portia Da Costa, EllaRegina, Janine Ashbless, Shayla Kersten, Madelynne Ellis, Kay Jaybee, Kristina Wright, Delilah Devlin. My story, Rebecca, a filthy riff on Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, is the first piece in the collection. Get it while you can. It could be the last Black Lace anthology ever published. (Shame about the woman’s arse on the cover.)

Last night I dreamt he came on my face again …

Kristina x,


Written by Kristina Lloyd

July 6, 2009 at 8:13 am

56 Responses

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  1. Random House said they considered Black Lace to be “the jewel in the crown” when they bought Virgin Publishing. It’s a crippling shame that they didn’t see fit to polish the jewel up a bit, or maybe put it on display, or pay for its upkeep… I know Adam Neville has done everything in his power, but short of making a couple of clones to share the workload… Well. Lots of happy-ever-after story-lining must have left me optimistic, because I still hope for a happy ending, that after a year of radio-silence they won’t actually let it go to the wall. Or someone who believes in it will step in, buy it out, invest it.

    Olivia Knight

    July 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

  2. Hear, hear to Olivia’s hope that there will be a happy ending for BL, and that this will only be a hiatus. There are so many wonderfully talented authors at BL, and it’s no exaggeration that this imprint has been for the betterment of all erotica.

    Craig Sorensen

    July 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

  3. Aaaaaaaaaaaaarhhhhhh!!!!

    (Howl of pain there)

    We know the world is run by idiots and malicious philistines. Looks like Random House is no exception. Shit shit shit. But thanks for saying everything I wanted to say Kristina, so thoughtfully and without weird animal noises.

    Janine Ashbless

    July 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

  4. What Olivia just said. Only with the animal noises of Janine. Seriously, how difficult would it have been to send us some news of this before issuing a press release?

    Madelynne Ellis

    July 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm

  5. Gosh, what terrible news. I feel for all the authors affected; erotic fiction – and its writers – will take a big hit from this. I do hope something else will arise from the ashes: maybe another publisher will see the niche in the market and set up their own imprint?

  6. On a separate, more shallow note, can I just say: your putting buff Daniel Craig and crying Daniel Craig on the same page has made me want to fuck Daniel Craig.

    That is all.

  7. Oh God. I keep thinking Adam is going to send an email that will somehow make it better. Like ECW, I celebrated on the 2nd of July (the release of my Black Lace novel, Sarah’s Education) and then – BAM! WHAM! WTF?
    There’s still a sense of waiting. I suppose one can’t help but wait for official word. But the prevailing mood is gloom.

    Madeline Moore

    July 6, 2009 at 2:13 pm

  8. What terrible news! I’m so sorry to hear it. I hope some half-naked twins from Texas can make you forget your pain, if only for a few moments.

    Seriously, though, this is distressing news. I hope you and all the authors affected find new and better paying markets very soon.

    Jessica Freely

    July 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm

  9. Hoping this situation somehow turns around for all you BL-ers!

    Jeremy Edwards

    July 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm

  10. Your post sums it all up perfectly, Kristina – and thanks very much for the linkage.

    Just read that a statement from Virgin Books is expected tomorrow, if this source is any good:

    Do you think Daniel would mind if I cried on his shoulder?

    Justine Elyot

    July 6, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  11. Um, now hold on a minute. It’s 3 AM where I am and I can’t get to sleep, and not for worrying about Mr Nevill and Black Lace/Nexus (altho I *am* plenty worried about both) but because – Jesus Christ Kristina – is that really the first line of your riff on Rebecca? Because if it is, I fucking want to kiss you till your mouth gets numb.

    First, I discover that Ashbless pulled off something I’ve always wanted to do, which is match O’s first night at Roissy for utter submissive degradation and terrible, shudderingly filthy sex (‘Janissaries’ in ‘Dark Enchantment’) and who knows when she actually *wrote* the story, but I just read it (and reviewed in on and .ca)…and now this.

    I didn’t actually KNOW I wanted ‘Rebecca’ for myself…until now. Like that boy in Grade 9 I didn’t exactly know I was in love with until he started going with my girlfriend. Then I’m biting the inside of my cheek until it bleeds because he should’ve been mine!

    ‘Rebecca’. The book surfaced recently because Felix and I were ruthlessly culling our library and he put it on the donate pile because, well sure, we’d both read it but – you don’t get RID of ‘Rebecca’, dahling. Some books you simply must have a copy of until you die and du Maurier’s classic is one of ’em. So I *was* thinking about it and Manderly and I’m pretty sure I was just about to think, ‘Hey! Why don’t I do a filthy riff on ‘Rebecca’? YEAH!

    Snooze loose, Mad Moore. I know it.

    Anyway, I would not have come up with that first line…so tell me, tell me now, you freaky deaky genius, you red-headed sassy wordmonger, you du Lloyd does London like nobody’s business, is the first line of your story ‘Last night I dreamt he came on my face again…’?

    Madeline Moore

    July 7, 2009 at 7:26 am

  12. Ha, Madeline, I love your insomnia! But of *course* it’s my first line. If you know the book, I think (and hope) you’ll get quite a lot out of my dirty version. There are plenty of references to spot, anyway.

    Thanks for the link, Justine. Hopefully we’ll know more today. Direct communication with authors would be nice too. Fingers crossed.

    And I must say, amidst all this horrible uncertainty, it’s been really fantastic to see how so many writers have pulled together to share info and theories, and to offer support, sympathy and hope. It feels like we have a strong community here which believes in itself and in its worth – even if those in certain other quarters don’t.


    July 7, 2009 at 8:05 am

  13. Also, agreed: Janine’s ‘Janissaries’ is wonderful. And ‘Cold Hands : Warm Hearts’ from the same collection pretty much blew me away. An astonishing piece of fiction. Just perfect.


    July 7, 2009 at 8:09 am

  14. slurp slurp lick lick

    Madeline Moore

    July 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

  15. Woohooh! – Thank you Kristina! I’m honoured. Really!
    And I’ve already told Madeline how much I appreciate her online review of Dark Enchantment, but thank you again Mad Moore!

    Janine Ashbless

    July 7, 2009 at 9:24 am

  16. I’ve had an email from Adam who says he can’t comment on the situation till his period of consultancy ends. He’ll be in touch with authors next week when he knows his own fate.

    Authors will be getting an email from the MD today which will explain more.

    Apparently the Bookseller press release was in response to the news breaking via a rumour and Adam wishes it hadn’t happened this way. He said he didn’t want his 2009 authors worrying. I sent him a link to this post and he was very touched and thanked us.

    Also, he told me it was fine for me to pass this info on.


    July 7, 2009 at 10:51 am

  17. We can only hope that there is a silver lining, somewhere. It seems incredible that no one has stepped in to buy BL, at least. As I understand it, sales of foreign rights have been up, so maybe a German publisher will buy Nexus/Black Lace and we’ll all end up getting paid in Deutschmarks?

    I guess that Random House doesn’t realise that this lack of news puts so many people’s lives ‘on hiatus.’

    Didn’t it used to be said that publishing is a trade for gentlemen?

    Now I go to comfort Madeline.

    Thinking of you all,


    Felix Baron

    July 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

  18. So it’s official. And Adam’s role is ‘at risk of redundancy.’

    Madeline Moore

    July 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

  19. ‘at risk of redundancy.’

    Is that British employment-speak? What a way to talk about a human being, like they’re a disposable gadget!



    July 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm

  20. Felix, but then we’d all have to write in German!

    (Kidding… Was trying to insert a bit of levity in this dire scenario.)


    July 7, 2009 at 9:28 pm

  21. I sent this to Mr Sandler:

    I firmly believe that as long as people have brains and genitalia there will be a desire for literate Erotica. It is a shame that you are giving up Black Lace’s historical stronghold in that area, possibly allowing another house to come in and claim it.


    July 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  22. Ach! Verdamt! But seriously, both Madeline and I have been transalted into German, and her book is doing well there. Mine – not so much.

    Felix Baron

    July 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

  23. EllaRegina,

    You got ovaries, girlfriend.
    BTW Kristina and Mathilde, somehow this site has become the place where we come to share our thoughts and feelings on this traumatic event. Thank you for being here for all of us.

    Madeline Moore

    July 7, 2009 at 9:54 pm

  24. Ella – I used to work in ‘Human Resources’. Most hateful phrase ever. But that’s what we are, apparently.

    Justine Elyot

    July 7, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  25. Oops. Sorry, it’s *Sadler* not Sandler, MD @ BL.

    Thank you, guys. I could post whole letter here if you’d like, if that wouldn’t be damning myself. I was also not happy that the BCC email feature was not employed.


    July 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  26. […] Cover Watch has a more in-depth look at the decision here. Interestingly, the Girl’s comment was rehashed in the Guardian article without attribution, […]

  27. This really blows. Sorry to hear this is happening. Article was great.


    July 9, 2009 at 10:52 pm

  28. Black Lace should have stuck with releasing a handful of quality new erotica books a year rather than putting that aspect of their business “on hold” or reissuing tired books as they have in the past.

    There is still a demand for well written original erotica and plenty of talented authors to write it. This is a huge loss to erotica writers and the fans of their work.

    I recently started a small erotica community site and even though its brand new I’m getting daily sign ups of readers and writers as well as submissions of work so its quite obvious to me that erotica still has its place – looks like we will all have to get our “naughty story” hit online rather than curling up with an exciting read in the future!


    July 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

  29. The world of Publishing faces financial meltdown and authors of erotica (minor niche market)wonder why an erotic imprint goes on hold!

    Grow up, know and understand the business you have chosen to enter into as writers. Mainstream fiction has reached crisis point too, and publishing houses are laying off top-rated eds and thinning down imprints to skeleton level in order to stay in the book selling frame.

    So what if a few authors are up in arms about lack of outlets, and let’s be honest here, half of the Black Lace authors are writing for Romantic imprints and mainstream fiction (shelf filling supermarket books). Basically, you’re hacking any and all genre’ with formulated plots, cardboard characters and often as not, little knowledge of what you’re writing about and byjove it shows in the piles of remaindered books one sees at paper recycling depots.


    July 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm

  30. Jo, go fuck yourself. Thanks.


    July 12, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  31. Wow, there’s a dining partner for Daisy Goodwin…


    July 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm

  32. Jo, do I detect a heaping dose of schadenfreude?


    Felix Baron

    July 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

  33. Awww, Jo. I know it’s sad that you never got published and now, with the state the industry’s in, probably never will. But that’s not our fault!

    However, we’re still sorry that our formulaic books stood in the way of your masterpiece. But don’t worry- as soon as the publishing world gets back on its feet, I’m sure it will finally recognise your genius.

    Charlotte Stein

    July 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  34. As a senior editor (now retired) I became acquainted with written abuse from disgruntled authors: long since immune to such. Good luck with future attempts at placing your work.


    July 13, 2009 at 8:08 pm

  35. I don’t think dinner would work out between JoBailey and Daisy Goodwin. Being vultures, they’d feed off each other’s flesh like carrion until nothing remained, not even their garments and shoes.

    The waiters would be very angry, what with nobody left to settle the bill.


    July 13, 2009 at 8:17 pm

  36. JoBailey, it’s *you* who came in *here* to abuse and kick people when they’re down. Didn’t your background as an editor give you any kind of respect or sensitivity for authors?

    And, while you may have experience, do you know what you are talking about in this specific case? I could give you a list of publishers who do “formulaic” and “cardboard.”


    July 13, 2009 at 8:23 pm

  37. Jo: There are people here–heroes to me–who take the writing of erotic literature very seriously, and who are very, very good at what they do. They are artists, not hacks; and the amount of talent, intelligence, originality, taste, research, writing time, and literary passion that they devote to creating compelling books is on an order that I think merits positive recognition. In return for their labors, they earn very little money–but a great deal of appreciation from their readers. Sadly, they also encounter undeserved scorn from people who haven’t read their work and who don’t understand what erotica is.

    Economic realities aside, I hope that your judgment and experience as a high-level publishing professional might enable you to reconsider your sweeping, denigrating remarks implying that Black Lace authors essentially deserve their fate.

    Jeremy Edwards

    July 13, 2009 at 8:36 pm

  38. Always an editor, never an author, eh? That explains a lot. Who did you edit for, Jo? Someone impressive?

    Felix Baron

    July 13, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  39. I’m getting pissed off now. As Jeremy Edwards said, Black Lace authors are talented, intelligent and passionate. The vast majority of us are feminists.

    Saturday I was a guest speaker on a panel of authors at Humber School for Writers. The topic was ‘Success Stories.’ Everyone there was a writer. I was treated with respect by the other speakers and peppered with intelligent questions from the students, afterwards.

    I was a student at Humber School for writers when D.M. Thomas (author of The White Hotel) was a tutor. He said ‘Madeline writes great sex without metaphor, which isn’t easy to do.’

    That’s when I decided to try writing erotica. I chose to submit to Black Lace because of the quality of the novels it produced and the long-standing good reputation of the imprint. The day Adam Nevill welcomed me to the fold with, ‘Congratulations, you are now a Black Lace author,’ was one of the best days of my life. Hearing that the imprint, along with Nexus, will not be publishing new material in 2010 was one of the worst days of my life.

    To be ridiculed by would-be creative writers at a time like this hurts. So get your facts straight or cut it out.

    Madeline Moore

    July 13, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  40. “As a senior editor (now retired) I became acquainted with written abuse from disgruntled authors: long since immune to such. Good luck with future attempts at placing your work.”

    Personally, I think there’s a huge difference between an author acting unprofessionally when an editor rejects or deals with their work in a way they don’t like, and a person responding in kind to some very nasty comments from anonymouse who seems to enjoy kicking people when they’re down.

    But that’s just me. It seems strange that you, as a retired senior editor, don’t recognise the same.

    “JoBailey, it’s *you* who came in *here* to abuse and kick people when they’re down. Didn’t your background as an editor give you any kind of respect or sensitivity for authors?”

    Apparently not.

    Charlotte Stein

    July 13, 2009 at 9:16 pm

  41. Apparently self-editing is quite a different skill then.

    Justine Elyot

    July 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

  42. JoBailey, there was a person with your name and same alleged status [Jo Bailey (retired senior editor)], who made similarly antagonistic remarks on in 2008. From what I can tell *that* Jo Bailey seems to have been driven from Authonomy by the crowd of people s/he alienated.

    Was that you? It’s a tiresome hobby by now I would think. Isn’t there something more productive you could be doing, that wouldn’t upset people and make them think ill of you?


    July 14, 2009 at 8:09 am

  43. As a senior editor (now retired) I became acquainted with written abuse from disgruntled authors

    Hmm. I wonder why those authors might have been antagonistic toward you, Jo? Certainly nothing in your bedside manner to encourage it…

    Jo does illustrate a good point here, though. Not from the content of the comments, but from how rarely I have seen these kinds of inciting statements on erotica blogs and boards. I can count on one hand all the times in the last year I’ve seen someone bound on agitation blow into an erotic topic trying to stir the soup.

    In some other groups, it’s a relatively common thing.

    No need to drive such a person out. Best just to ignore them. If no one replies to their flame comments, it leaves them powerless.

    Craig Sorensen

    July 14, 2009 at 9:28 am

  44. Dear Ms. Bailey,

    The fact that the publishing industry refuses to take any responsibility for the abysmal state it is in does not bode well for its future.

    The minute the industry let bean counters determine what was worth publishing was the moment they signed their own death warrant. That they hypnotized themselves into believing there were “sure bets” instead of replenishing the cultural landscape with new and innovative work, the rise of the formulaic and the derivative has been upon us. Sooner or later, even the lowest common denominator reaches its threshold of boredom.

    Moreover, when a publisher consistently devalues the source of its content, sooner or later, authors will do what many people in the music business did; they will find ways to cut out the middlemen and make their own arrangements with the consumers of their cultural product.

    You don’t think so? Take a look at what iTunes is doing to record companies. Since publishers already force writers to do the bulk of their own marketing, and since many of them have become cleverer and more internet-marketing savvy than the publishing houses, my guess is that the days of the big houses are over.

    You can’t consistently abuse the producer of content and expect them to keep coming back for more punishment. Sooner or later, they find a way past the thorn in their side.

    And who will employ you then?

    remittance girl

    July 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  45. Instead of taking my comments as personal attack of kicking when down,(metaphorically speaking) look at overall issue of global financial meltdown. Recession is upon us, and it stands to reason that publishing cannot remain immune from lower book sales worldwide.

    As an editor I agree the marketing departments and many CEOs at publishing houses have indulged personal gain at expence of many whom provide the goodies to market. It’s a sad fact, at the same time reality of marketing is always subject to trends and buyer power. Afterall, the shopper, who ever s/he maybe, they are the ones who dictate what it is that tickles their fancy, and erotic writers are far more reliant upon tingle factor.

    Yes, I came here by link from The Bookseller!

    Yes, I told you a few home truths.

    Yes, I equally told Authonomites a few home truths about the objective behind HCs electronic slushpile, of which a few responded in same manner as you (plus collective rejection to reject reviews of novels). To date no author from the top 5 (eds desk) has secured a publishing deal. Of those advertised as successfully having secured a deal with HC and of being authonomites, all secured PDs before placement of their works on authonomy. Work it out for yourselves. You all. published authors, know the turnaround times from securing a possible deal/re-edits/signing contract/publish date.

    Publishing is a war zone, in which individual houses take no prisoners.

    Talking trends, erotica was at its peak in the seventies/eighties when Masquerade Publishing (America) couldn’t get hold of enough erotic novelists to fill the shelves. Virgin’s Nexus was going great guns wayback too, Black Lace merely a twinkle in the eye of Nexus team. When BL was finally born Masquerade was already calling it a day because the Internet (USA) was jampacked with free pictoral and written pornography/erotica. True, UK Internet was barely up an running late eighties early nineties.

    Book sales are subject to fashionable trends, erotica no less so.


    July 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

  46. For the record: not Ms – Mr!


    July 15, 2009 at 8:29 am

  47. It’s difficult not to take your comments as “a personal attack,” when you say things like this:

    Basically, you’re hacking any and all genre’ with formulated plots, cardboard characters and often as not, little knowledge of what you’re writing about and byjove it shows in the piles of remaindered books one sees at paper recycling depots.

    I despise when people say something mean, and then attack those who respond to the meanness. You clearly came here looking for a fight.


    July 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

  48. I’m wary of anyone who claims to be an editor but uses ‘formulated’ for ‘formulaic.’ ALL plots are formulated, ‘given form,’ whether or not they follow a trite formula and so are ‘formulaic.’

    Felix Baron

    July 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  49. Honestly, I think the post could have been about toy poodles, and I’d feel the same way. My issue isn’t what we’re talking about, but a stranger’s need to whip out his dick and piss on everyone else.

    But it’s this realization that helps me every time: you’re going to reap just what you sow.



    July 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  50. Felix, dear fellow, adjectives are an author’s worst enemy.

    Formulated: transitive verb

    formulaic: adjective


    July 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm

  51. ‘I am blue.’ Blue is an adjective, no? So what’s wrong with ‘plots are formulaic?’

    BTW – It’s adverbs that are our worst enemies. Adjectives have their places.

    Felix Baron

    July 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  52. I think dipshits are an author’s worst enemy.


    July 15, 2009 at 3:42 pm

  53. Oh, Alison. Brava! I agree.

    But I do have to wonder what HE is doing here. (Apologies for the mistake in gender, Jo. I thought, from the tone of your comment, that you were female, although possibly not homosapien.)

    Maybe he as aspirations to write erotic fiction? BDSM? His specialty is that he brings off masochistic writers by telling them, over and over again that they’ll never get published.

    remittance girl

    July 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm

  54. Let’s leave the androgynously-named visitor alone, folks. We were holding a wake and he came in to kick the coffin. No harm done, except to our feelings.

    Here’s to Nexus and here’s to Black Lace. They lived hard and died while still young and beautiful. We’ll never see their like again, but life goes on.

    Keep creating, and the devil take those who envy us our sparks.

    Felix Baron

    July 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm

  55. […] Remember when Daniel Craig cried over the demise of our publisher, Black Lace? Well, this month marks the end, the final curtain, as the last new release from BL rolls off the press and hits the shelves in the UK. Sniff! On Demand, a linked short story collection from Justine Elyot, is garnering some great reviews already. Not only that, the book has a wonderful cover which we thoroughly approve of on ECW! […]

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