Saturday, December 31, 2011

Numbers from a Newbie Writer's First Year

I had a nice early Christmas present when my third quarter royalties came through. I was expecting this to be fairly light, but it also included some October sales, which was when my third collection of short stories, A Succubus for Halloween, came out. The amount this quarter was $600, a nice little sum right before Christmas.

That takes my total profits, after taking out initial setup costs, author copies and seller’s/publisher’s cuts, to $1,300 for my first (kind of) year as a writer. Obviously this is nowhere near the same ballpark as self-publishing titans Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, but this is all money in the black, with the only outlay being my free time spent in an activity I enjoy doing anyway.

I put out three collections of short stories, with A Succubus for Christmas coming out October 2010, A Succubus for Valentine’s Day coming out February 2011 and A Succubus for Halloween arriving October 2011. Christmas and Valentine’s Day were originally priced at $5.99 and this was dropped to $3.99 about halfway in the year after eXcessica head honcho Selena Kitt did some experimenting on pricing. Christmas and Valentine’s Day sold just under 200 copies and Halloween just over 100, making 500 books (print + ebook) in total for the whole year. It’s a modest amount, but not bad considering collections of short stories rarely sell well and my subject matter is about as far from the mainstream as you can get! :)

More promising is the growth. Christmas and Valentine’s Day sold nearly 200 each over the whole year. Halloween came out at the end of the third week in October and my royalties run up until the end of October, which meant it managed those hundred-and-so sales in the first week. Baby steps, I know, but they’re going in the right direction.

Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of these sales was through Amazon, but they are not the only game in town. I can understand why some might think Amazon’s current dominance is a cause for concern, but I suspect if Amazon really started to abuse that dominance to the detriment of writers and readers, they’d quickly find themselves outstripped by one of their competitors in the way Nintendo was usurped by Sony in the console wars of the ‘90’s. For the moment they’re fantastic and a budding writer would be foolish not to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Writers shouldn’t restrict themselves to only Amazon. Having their own webpage for direct sales can be very useful once they’ve built up a following. By promoting eXcessica’s coming soon link for A Succubus for Halloween heavily on my personal blog in the month leading up to its release I was able to generate 40 sales, nearly half of the total for that book, directly through eXcessica’s own store (which also took Halloween to the top of their bestsellers list, yay! Now if only I can match Selena’s sales out in the rest of the big bad world. :)).

For people looking to self-publish as a route to fame and riches, these numbers aren’t very exciting. If I was trying to make a living as a full-time professional writer, 500 sales and a return of $1,300 for the year would be horrifying. Thankfully I’m not, so I can feel chuffed about the numbers instead of worrying about what I’m going to live on next year.

Next year I plan to put out my first novel and a fourth collection of short stories. I don’t know where the path is going to take me, but it’s going to be fun to find out!

All the best for 2012!

M.E. Hydra

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Words As Art, Amen

I guest blogged at Whipped Cream - http://wcguest.blogspot.com/2011/12/guest-blog-mia-natasha.html.

This is about the extent of the promotion I have done for Jude's Whore, my latest Excessica publication.   It's an erotic novel that contains a scene where the main character has sex with Jesus.  Oh, the taboo!  (I've been calling it Jesex.)  I know.  People have no trouble with all sorts of kink and creeper, but draw the line at their savior doing the deed.

I love Jesus.  He loves me.  IMO, he's fine with it.  I don't mean to be offensive.  The entire story came to me in a swoosh.  A dream or whatever.  It started with that scene but Jude's Whore became something else entirely - a love story between two people, a man and a woman and one of them is not Jesus.

I never thought of myself as a self-published author since I publish with Excessica but I realize now that my situation is so vastly different than that of a writer with a traditional publishing house.  I feel a hell of a lot more free to express myself  - like a true artist, the artist that I am. 

I didn't set out to cause controversy at all.  I came up with a plot that I considered to be original.  I didn't confine myself to a particular fetish.  This one has mild bondage, some mind control, erotic romance and time travel.  It has a rape scene too.  I almost forgot about that.

I also did not set out to write super-duper graphic depictions of sex.  It just happens.  Thank God I have no one to seriously reign me in.  This wouldn't be any fun if I had to conform to 10,000 suggestions by critics, rules and what have you.  I'm free to explore sexuality and learn things about myself that I would have never explored and learned had I remained in my stifled world of color and light, happiness and smiles.

I guess the thing I have learned is that I love living in an adults only world.  Of the billions of people out there, I'm sure there must be one or two kindred spirits that will get me.  And that's what's so great about self-publishing.  The novelists who are outside the regular system are the ones thinking outside the box...I mean outside the Kindle, Nook, or paperback box, that is.

Amen, mother-fukka.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

(Not So) Great Expectations

So you’ve written a book, revised it, revised it some more, had it edited, proofread. You’ve selected a cover, formatted the word file, uploaded it to Amazon. Now it’s up on the internet and available for the whole world to buy. You’ve done it. You’re published. That’s it…right?

Not quite.

In the past, in the legacy world, being published was a finishing post of sorts. A writer picked up the advance cheque and got to say they were Published. The book might flop right on its ass and sell squit all, but the writer could still say they were Published and—more importantly—keep the advance cheque.

In the modern, free-wheeling, self-published world, being published is more like the starting post. A self-published writer might have more freedom and keep a much higher percentage of each sale, but that’s worth nothing if they don’t sell any books.

This is where management of expectations becomes important. That initial euphoria on seeing your work out there in the big wide world can quickly become despair as you watch your Amazon rankings spiral down into seven figures and wonder if anyone out there gives a damn about your book.

Don’t panic!

It happens to most of us. Think of your favourite bands. Most of them started out playing in little pubs with about five people in the audience. This is the same. Unless you’re enormously talented AND lucky, a massive audience followed by bestseller status doesn’t happen overnight. In the meantime stay grounded.

1. Don’t spit in the boss’s eye and quit your day job. You’re likely still going to need it for a while. If my earnings from writing creep past my salary I might consider writing full-time. Until then I’m turning up for work at 9am same as everyone else.

2. Don’t plan to rely on the money coming in. It might not. I don’t factor royalties into my financial planning at all. It’s bonus money. I can use it for savings or splash out on a luxury item, but I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m sweating on whether it will be enough to pay the electric bill.

3. Keep writing.

4. Keep writing! Yeah, I could repeat this one ad infinitum. I have three books out and in each case a new book coming out has boosted the sales of the previous book. Don’t sit back on the first book. Work on the next ones and get them out. Doubts don’t have a chance to take hold if you’re already concentrating on getting the next book out there.

I’m not a massive success story and might never be. Since starting out last October with my first short story collection, A Succubus for Christmas, I’ve seen my Amazon sales creep up from around a book a week to a book a day. That’s still a long way off fame and fortune, but it’s movement in the right direction. It’s encouragement to keep at it and search for more potential readers.

Most of all, I’m enjoying the writing. At the end of the day, does anything else matter?

M.E. Hydra

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Thanks You Get

Thank you to those of you who have tagged Dr. Cockburn's Medicine on Amazon.com.  I really appreciate the help.  I don't have an Amazon account so I can't reciprocate the favor.  My credit cards are maxed out.  So no more buying for me.  I really thought that writing was going to be my ticket out.  I thought so because everything that was happening happened in a magical sort of way.  I wrote a novel.  It got published.  I wrote four more.  I was full of ideas that came to fruition.  I mean, it was like a dream come true.  I have had nothing but positive feedback and I made some friends along the way.

But it doesn't pay the bills.  I remember reading this article about Sheryl Crow and how she quit her job as a music teacher to become a music star but after six months of struggling she hadn't achieved her dream and she fell into a deep depression.  But then she bounced back and within a year she had an album out and I think started winning Grammys.

Tom Cruise had a similar story.  He'd said that he moved to NYC and gave himself six months to make it in the acting business.  Or maybe it was Hollywood?  No - I think he got a Broadway show and within months got his first movie and basically achieved success in less than his self proposed time limit.

So when I started writing, I had that same approach - not that Tom Cruise was my role model or anything, but I started seeing a pattern developing.  It was something that seemed to come up in interviews with many celebrities.  Don't continue if you don't make money.

Writing is another financial dead end. 

Art isn't something I will ever give up since I do it because I have a need inside of me to create, which is not motivated by money.  And anyhow, there are thousands of success stories out there about artists who struggled their whole lives before making it.  Like Louise Nevelson who was in her 80s when she finally made it.  And Grandma Moses didn't even begin painting until she was 70 years old.

I hate the fact that I have all sorts of success except the financial kind.  It's killing me.  No matter how you try to spin it, right now that is the only kind that counts.

Thanksgiving is coming up, so I want to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your support.

Three other books won't be released until December, March and May so technically it could still happen.  But as of now I'm contemplating bankruptcy so no matter the outcome it will be too little too late.  It just sucks because this has been fun.  I liked being a part of the erotica world and I liked having a secret life.

The end. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ebook Pricing - Redux

I’ve always been a proponent of higher ebook prices.

Not the crazy $12.99 more-than-the-paperback prices that legacy publishing is so fond of so they can continue to pay Manhattan rents—but higher than $0.99, certainly. Even for a short story.

That’s right, once upon a time, my short stories were selling for $2.99. And yes, they were selling.

But things changed. The indie market got more crowded. Authors started selling their full-length novels for $0.99 and some even gave them away for free. Blogs popped up everywhere telling Kindle owners where to find free and cheap ebooks.

So I decided to experiment with my prices. I lowered the prices on all my stories to $0.99—that was everything from 3K-15K. Everything else (some of which was priced as high as $5.99) I lowered to $3.99. And I left them that way for three months. A full quarter of ebook sales.

What did I discover?

At first, I found that lowering my price to $0.99 shot me up on a few bestseller lists. That increased my exposure, which was great. And I also found that my sales of those $0.99 titles doubled. Stories that had previously been selling 50 a month were now selling 100.

Sounds good, right?

But, of course, at $0.99 I was getting a 35% instead of the 70% royalty I’d been making when I was selling them at $2.99. I was now making roughly $35 a month on a story that had previously been taking in about $100 a month—a loss of $65 a month in income. Multiply that by twenty-five short stories (which is about what I have out there) and that’s a $1650 a month loss.

Worth it?

At first, I thought it might be, given the exposure. The higher you are in the rankings, the more people see your name, the more sales you make, right? But over time, more and more (and more!) indie authors started selling their stuff at $0.99 too, and those lists became overrun with cheap books.

I’d pretty much decided to quit the experiment when I read a comment from Konrath on his blog confirming my suspicion—that authors don’t make money at anything less than $2.99. Which meant, and I’ll quote Joe here:

“My data also shows that novels outsell short stories, even though I've priced my shorts at 99 cents. It stands to reason that if I switch shorts to $2.99, I'll sell fewer, but I bet I make more money. So the next step is to raise novels to $3.99-$4.99 and short stories to $2.99 and see what happens. Assuming I have the guts to do so...”

I’ve now changed all my short story prices back to $2.99, and raised my novel prices to $4.99. I imagine I’ll run this experiment for another three months and see what happens. If logic prevails, I’ll sell fewer books, but make more money.

But as Joe pointed out, doing this takes guts. Moving beyond the magical $2.99 price-point for novels, pushing those higher, to make room for short stories at that price, is a risky proposition. Will the market bear it?

Honestly, I think it will. And here’s why—Kindle readers are tired of $0.99 cheapies. The shine is off the new toy, people have stopped loading their Kindles up with freebies and cheapies, and have started getting more discerning about what they download. Many Kindle readers are starting to shy away from the $0.99 price point because they’ve read some stinkers and don’t want to travel down that road again. What was once a huge draw for Kindle readers—oooh, look, cheap books for my new toy!—has now become the opposite.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Which is why it’s a scary experiment!

Apropos for Halloween, don’t you think?

So let’s kick off this frightening new price point with a $2.99 story very fitting for the season, shall we?
 

For those of you scratching your heads, wondering how in the heck the pair of us ending up writing together, given that our genres are so vastly different, I’ll explain. Back at the beginning of the year, I’d posted some of my sales numbers on Joe’s blog, which at the time were astronomical (I was making $30,000 a month at Barnes and Noble alone!) and Joe jokingly said, “If you ever want to collaborate, let me know!”

I’d just finished reading and reviewing DRACULAS – and being the huge horror fan that I am, how could I resist? I emailed him to say, “I know you were kidding, but I’d love to collaborate with you guys.” And to my surprise, Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch actually took me up on the offer! They were planning a sequel to DRACULAS called WOLFMEN, and wanted me on board, along with a fourth writer (who has yet to be disclosed).

It made perfect marketing sense to cross-pollinate their audience and mine, which were both large, but vastly different.

Of course, no one knew if this great idea would work in practice…

So Blake Crouch agreed to take me out for a test run, and that’s how this story was born. The collaboration process was, I must say, an amazing success, and I couldn’t be prouder of the result. I really think this story is something special—but I’m probably a little biased!

If you want to know more about how HUNTING SEASON: A Love Blood Story was written, what the process was and how things developed, there’s an interview between myself and Blake included as bonus material at the end.

It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for… you guessed it.

$2.99.

Is it worth it?

You be the judge!

HUNTING SEASON – A Love Blood Story by Blake Crouch and Selena Kitt

This 8,000 (approx) word collaboration by thriller/suspense/horror writer Blake Crouch and erotic romance author Selena Kitt includes bonus interview material with the authors about the upcoming sequel to the Konrath, Crouch, Strand and Wilson bestseller DRACULAS.

-------------

He’s a butcher.

She’s the trophy wife of a trophy hunter.

They used to be high school sweethearts, but that was two decades ago, and times have changed.

Meet Ariana Plano...40 years old, miserable, stuck in a loveless marriage to the worst mistake of her life.

Meet Ray Koski...40 years old, miserable, a lonely butcher who can do nothing but immerse himself in the drudgery of his work.

Once a week during hunting season, she brings her old teenage flame game meat for processing. 

They do not speak. They rarely make eye contact. Some histories are just too painful.

But this week will be different.

This week—a shocking encounter twenty-two years in the making—will change everything.

Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Tidal Wave of Choice and a Deceptive Cover

One of the fears about the rise in ebooks and self-publishing is that the world will be buried in a tidal wave of crap writing. It’s a familiar argument—there will be so many bad Twilight knockoffs and other rubbish uploaded to Amazon no one will be able to find anything worth reading amongst the great steaming piles of ordure.

It’s one way of looking at it. Personally, I think it’s just as easy to turn it around and see the positive aspects.

The problem when creativity is commodified is that the bottom line suddenly becomes the number one consideration. It’s not enough to be good; if someone has stumped up cash in advance, they’ll want to see a return on their investment, which means the work needs to be both good and popular (or failing that, just popular, hey, Hollywood ;) ). I suspect more than a few writers have run into, “It’s good, but we don’t think there’s a big enough audience”, before the gate slammed down on their foot. As a result niche, interesting, challenging is often overlooked in favour of safe, bland, reliable (Hey, hello Hollywood! ;) ).

The beauty with ebooks and self-publishing is that the initial outlays are so small. Writers can take risks. Even if they only find a niche audience appreciative of their work, that’s still profit (providing you don’t think too hard about the time spent creating and polishing your work!). It’s also good for readers. Yes, there are going to be a lot of bad books that shouldn’t have seen the light of day (and these too might find fans—taste is subjective), but there are also going to be a lot of quirky, interesting books that might not have made it out of the slush pile under the old system. Personally, I think more choice is better than less choice.

Take short stories. I love short stories, especially horror stories. Mainstream publishing houses seldom publish short story collections. They don’t sell very well. There was even a recent tweetathon to save the short story.

I’ve put out three collections of short stories. They haven’t found a massive audience, but they have been found by readers who’ve enjoyed them a great deal. Publishers have to worry about the cost of print runs and marketing budgets. I don’t. I’m free to write what I want. It doesn’t take many sales to cover the initial costs and everything after that is gravy. That’s good for me, good for the readers who like my writing, and good for short stories, as there are plenty of bloody-minded fools like me that still enjoy writing them.

I suppose this would be the appropriate point for the blatant book plug:



I love the cover Selena and the people at eXcessica came up with. It’s totally inappropriate. This is either the darkest collection of erotica you’re likely to read this Halloween, or the most twisted, sexy-perverse collection of horror tales you’re likely to read this Halloween. Someone is going to pick up this book thinking it’s another cutesy paranormal romance with fashion-conscious demonesses, and get the shock of their lives.

I’m more in love with that idea than I should be. I can’t help it. I’m a horror writer. We want to scare people. It’s in the blood. While marketing-types would be aghast, I’m sitting here and grinning like a Cheshire Cat as I go, “open it… open it…”

It’s Halloween. I’m going to have fun. Bottom line be damned.

Enjoy the book. She’s as cute and adorable as her cover. Honest… ;)

M.E. Hydra

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dead Sensei

Am gearing up to do promos - on those yahoo sites and wherever else I can.  I hope people want to read a Halloween tale on Halloween.  It's my favorite holiday.  I have two parties to go to so far and I haven't decided what I want to be.  Usually I have my costume planned by summer's end.  I hope it isn't a cold Halloween.  I wish it wouldn't snow at all.  I'm not a fan. 

When Dr. Cockburn's Medicine comes out on Amazon.com, I hope you will help me tag it.  Tags are the keywords that help readers find books in their favorite categories.  The more tags a book has, the higher up the search engine it goes.  Cinderella Club has about five keywords tagged about three times each, which isn't many at all.  People tend to find it because it has six really good reviews.

But poor Doc Cock will be all alone out there in the BDSM world fending for itself without your help.  Excessica takes care of sending it out to get reviewed but I am not sure which review sites they use.  Am not that worried.  I'm confident people will love the story.

I feel like I'm giving birth to my second child and I actually have none of the anxiety as with the first.  CC didn't get reviewed for weeks and then the first review was scathing.  That was such a bleak time for me.  It was actually the only review like that and I'm still wondering if that woman actually read it or skimmed the first chapter.  Oh well, I don't really care.

It would be nice to have good reviews right out of the gate, but I will try not to stress about anything.  Can only do what I can do.  And I have to remember that it's about the fun of writing.  I cried this morning listening to that speech that Steve Jobs had given at a college graduation ceremony.  Something about feeling more free to live life once he'd discovered that he was going to die from cancer. 

I'm not a free spirit - I mean, as much as I'd like to be.  If I could be and be able to pay my bills, I would be.  But mama just bought another pair of shoes.  (I'm not a mother - what the hell is wrong with me?)  Help me sell this novel so I can make a dent in paying my debts.  Once I become sensible, I'm sure that will free me up to be that person Steve Jobs wants me to be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ya Chat-tat-tat-tatty-hoo

I have a button for http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/ on my blog and if you haven't yet checked it out, it is a fabulous website for readers and writers of romance.  In my case erotic romance.  They have tons of things going on - discussions, book reviews, friendships, giveaways, contests...and eloop chats. 

I've scheduled a chat for Thursday, October 27th, 2011 from 6:00-9:00pm.  I'm telling you now because if you want to join the fun, you have to sign up for the yahoo group. 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karendevinkaren/

I think you need to have a yahoo email account.  Then you go to the link and ask to become a member.  Once you are accepted, make sure you post something.  A hello or whatever, just to make sure your posts are received.  Then on my chat night, we can have a conversation about stuff, including my new book, Dr. Cockburn's Medicine, which launches the next day - October 28th. 

The way a book launch goes - it doesn't happen all at once, because the various ebook sites have different days of the week when they accept uploads.  And the print book never coincides with the ebook launch.  It's weird.  Not with a bang but a whimper.

But it's still very exciting.  I think I'll do a couple giveaways during the chat and maybe share some excerpts.  Unless, of course, I end up talking to myself.  That won't be such a big deal.  Been there, done that.  I can just post and eventually someone will read it.  Coffeetime Romance does have regulars who enjoy the chat group aspect and do it regardless of whether or not they know the author.  But it would be nice to chat with people who have read Cinderella Club or may have read an earlier version of Doc Cock before it became a 50,000 word novel.

It's so exciting to finally have another book on the market.  But I sort of know what it must feel like when an actor has to do talk shows to promote their movie.  Usually the movie was made the year before and they're currently working on something else.  And that's what's so strange.  It was a while ago since the last time I read Dr. Cockburn's Medicine.  So I have a month to brush up on it before the chat.

Oh, I hope you decide to join me.  It really will be fun to "meet" you all. 

Check out the website then get a yahoo account and click on the link to the yahoo group.  It's pretty simple to prepare to chatty-kathyfy yourselves.

Here's the link to my blog, in case you want to follow it - and please do!  http://mianatasha-erotica.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 19, 2011

2nd Quarter Royalties: Still Wagging at the Tip of the Long Tail

Another quarter gone by, another royalty cheque. $180 this time.

It’s a good thing I like my day job. I certainly won’t be handing my notice in with those figures!

Still, it’s $180 and every little dollar (or pound in my case) is welcome in these austere times. While it isn’t a revolutionary amount, I’d guess it’s reality for most self-published writers hanging out in the long tail (and even some legacy published ones as well). For every Locke or Hocking there’s going to be thousands like me and thousands more doing even worse. That’s the nature of these things.

This was the argument behind Ewan Morrison’s recent article for The Guardian as he bemoaned the imminent demise of the author as a professional occupation. It’s all a matter of perspective really. Writers lucky or talented enough to have already made it through the gates, but have failed to find popular appeal and are reliant on ever-dwindling advances, are understandably unhappy with how the publishing world has changed. They face uncertain futures and will probably need to find mundane day jobs to pay the bills, like everyone else.

Then you get folks like me, who now get the opportunity to put our work out there for people to read. I have written two collections of short stories, A Succubus for Christmas and A Succubus for Valentine’s Day. Both have sold nearly 150 copies each and made me around $750 over the last year. That’s not a lot, but it’s more than they’d have made sitting in a slush pile, or on a free website, or locked in a drawer. Something is more than nothing, especially if that something keeps ticking up every month.

As I said, matter of perspective.

(Please feel free to contribute to that ticking up each month ;) )

M.E. Hydra

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Deadline Disharmony

I think I might have a problem with deadlines.

I’ve always been a procrastinator. My approach to deadlines in the past was to put the project off until the last possible moment and then get it done in a frantic blaze of activity. Deadlines were useful to me. They said this thing needs to be finished by this date, and gave me the incentive to get it done.

As I’ve grown older, my idea of what constitutes the last possible minute has been pushed further and further back until any notion of getting something finished in the remaining time is hopelessly optimistic. Cans of Red Bull might keep me awake through the night, but they can’t magically turn one hour into three.

For me, the real problem now is the corresponding loss in productivity. I missed my last monthly post for this blog because I was battling with a tricky story. I’d like to say it was because I was engaged in frenzied writing, but in reality it was more patient hacking at a computer screen, like trying to chisel out a sculpture made of words.

Distraction behaviour is the bane of productivity everywhere, especially nowadays with so many modern distractions. I find the best way to combat it is to have multiple projects on the go at any one time. If a story is proving troublesome, switch to another one and come back to the first with a clearer head. All the stories worth being completed will get completed and with, hopefully, a minimum of head-banging-against-a-wall frustration. It should be fun, after all, otherwise why write at all.

Throw in a deadline and it gets messed up. I can’t justify switching to another project because I need to be writing this specific story for this specific date. But sultry Distraction Behaviour is still lurking and waiting to lure me astray with her glittering temptations of internet, computer games, television, etc. This is the point where my productivity takes a nosedive.

Anyone writing short stories will encounter opportunities and deadlines in the form of anthologies, magazines, competitions and the like. In the past I used to be the kind of writer that dashed from one deadline to the next, hammering out stories to match whatever theme was required. I don’t think this suits me now. I think I need to be the other type: the type that writes what they feel like writing at the time and fires off whatever happens to be most appropriate from their folder of complete and near-complete story ideas.

M.E. Hydra

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Game On

I rewrote the first chapter in Cinderella Ending.  It still needs a lot of work.  I was a little repetitive but it's not that big a deal.  I can fix it or leave it.  Thomas was thinking and I felt like he kept vacillating between thoughts coming back to his oiginal theory.  I do that all the time, but it is probably redundant in book form.  I have to mull it over some more then try to make decisions tomorrow.

I worked for several hours but only managed 1,000 words. 

I'm going to try to write tomorrow - get back into the swing of it and get focused.  I know what the ending is but will it really be a Cinderella ending?  I don't have a clue because I really don't know what I'm doing.  I don't even know what I'm doing here.  For some reason, I always thought that if you were on the right path then your journey would make sense.  Everything would sort of fall into place, like love and stuff.

I'm not sure if this is the path or the detour.

The main reason for my existentialism is that I fell asleep to a 2012 doomsday show on the History channel and I got a little freaked.  Naturally, I had a nightmare about it.  No one seems to think it's a big deal - like maybe it's another Y2K.  And maybe it is.  But according to the show, they are predicting a tilt to the earth's axis based on its allignment in space.  And depending on how much we rotate, it could have dire consequences.  This is not Mayan or Ancient Chinese mumbo-jumbo.  It's real - science.

I'm surprised that more people aren't freaking out or at least having a sense of urgency in their relationships.  Maybe preparing for the end somehow or in my case maxing out every credit card possible.  Are you even remotely thinking about this?  Getting affairs in order?  Being nicer to people, etc.?  Or am I sounding like an idiot right now?

I had better get this fucking book written so it can have a May 2012 release date.  Otherwise there could be the possibility that I write it and no one gets to read it.  How dumb would that be?

Okay doomsday - game on!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

House of Shelves

"House of Shelves" - This innovative "shelf pod" house can hold 10 TONS of books! 

Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall shelving... just for a book collection.


Someone needs to buy this gentleman an ereader.



Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Am My Own Muse

Ideas are popping up everywhere - for erotic stories that is.  They swish into my mind  at the strangest times and linger in the corner until I'm ready to tap into them.  In a way, they remind me of that creepy I-see-dead-people movie.  Like they are all standing in a queue waiting their turn until they see me and suddenly they wave their arms frantically for a chance to be written. 

Unfortunately, I'm not the ADD type.  I'm a one-thing-at-a-time girl.  So they will have to wait.  Sometimes I'll write an outline in a journal and go back to it like it's buried treasure or something.  For example, the whole story arc for Cinderella Ending is in my head but I haven't written any of it yet.  I have plans to start July 1st.  Hopefully the thing will flow out of me because there are other things to write.

Does this happen to other writers - that the more you write the more you think of to write?  I don't have time to read any more because I am constantly rereading my own stuff, and I rarely watch anything on TV past Days of Our Lives, which, as much as it's annoying me right now with that horrid freak of a girl, Taylor, muscling in on EJ Dimera, will continue to be my rabid guilty pleasure.

I wish I had more time to get this all out of me.  I need a giant summer purge, like a brain yard sale.  Or maybe I can be like Sharon Stone and be someone else's muse.  That sounds like a sexy plan.  Hmmm.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Slightly Fluffier Dose of Reality

Back here I blogged about receiving my first quarterly royalty cheque. It was for the earth-shattering amount of $84.

Well, everyone’s got to start from somewhere and 84 bucks is still 84 bucks.

A couple of weeks ago I got my quarterly cheque for the first three months of 2011. That was for $575.

Hello. That’s starting to feel like proper money. Okay, it’s beans to most people making a full-time living from writing and atoms (or maybe even sub-atomic particles) to someone like Stephen King. I’m not full-time. I still have a day job. So I don’t have to sweat over whether human beings can actually survive off a diet of hay. It’s a nice bit of extra income to go towards a new TV, trip to see the folks back home, etcetera, etcetera.

The first quarter was when my second collection came out and that definitely bumped sales of both. More books gives more chances for readers to find you. Both have sold about a hundred copies, which is also encouraging. Readers are buying the first and liking it enough to buy the second. Definitely a good sign!

A lot of my sales are for Amazon Kindle, but it isn’t the only game in town with over half of my sales coming from a wide range of other sources such as Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and eXcessica. This will be reassuring for anyone worried about Amazon becoming (more) evil and maybe slamming down the portcullis on this little self-publishing revolution at some point in the future.

Since then my sales have been steadily picking up (on Amazon at least). I guess the message is don’t be too disconcerted if your numbers don’t explode overnight. Sometimes these things take time.

M.E. Hydra

Monday, June 13, 2011

A tidbit of wisdom...


Actually, two. Literally. Here we go...

I have not learned anything new, I have observed nothing new, there is nothing I feel prompted to share industry-wise. I am about to learn all kinds of new things but haven't yet. I will report any goodness when I have it. So that is tidbit one: Always go forth and learn new things when self-publishing. And even if you are a perfectionist who enjoys beating the crap out of yourself whenever you make an error. Do not. Realize it will take you time and mistakes to master this new thing, accept it, be patient with yourself as if you were someone else and remember to listen to your body/mind/soul. Which leads me to tidbit two...

Slow down if you need to. Work smarter, not harder. Breathe. I am slowing down this week. Giving more focus and better time to less things. Careful selection of time and energy.

That's all I have for you this month, boys and girls. But I must be doing something right because the last December Ink release (Gritty: Rough Erotic Fiction) was #1 on the paid anthos list on ARe this morning. Sometimes paying attention to your pace instead of focusing on the race makes the long haul a little easier.

I ran this morning, can you tell?

Hope your summer's off with a bang. Read an ebook or three this summer. Support indie pubs. :)

XOXO
Sommer

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bringing the Naughty Back to Kindle

That's right, I'm bringing the naughty back!

All the naughty incest I've written that Amazon banned is back, albeit in a slightly altered form. What's that, you say? Did Amazon start putting these naughty books back on their shelves? No, not exactly.

When they first pulled my books, I put two of them back on Amazon's virtual shelves without any incest in them at all. Naughty Bits reappeared as Foreign Exchange and Under Mr. Nolan's Bed reappeared as Plaid Skirt Confessions for readers' guilt-free reading pleasure. But over the next few months I started noticing a pattern - Amazon was still taking incest off the shelves when it appeared...unless it involved people who weren't biologically related. So step-siblings having sex? That was okay. Stepfathers and stepdaughters? Yep, that was allowed. Step-uncle and step-niece? Step-aunt and step-nephew? Yep and yep.

Of course, Amazon didn't announce this policy. They still haven't officially stated any policy in regards to their banning of books from their site. But Excessica had a book pulled (My Father's Keeper by Parker Ford) that didn't involve any biological incest - just sex between step-relations. When we pointed this out to them, they reinstated the book. So I figured that was the clearest indication we were going to get of Amazon's line in the sand.

So I have now re-released Naughty Bits (revised), and Under Mr. Nolan's Bed (revised), along with my anthology, Back to the Garden (revised) for Amazon. And the best news is that those of you who were looking for print versions of the books? They're baaaaaaack!

Click the links below to check out the naughty!



NAUGHTY BITS (Revised)
David has been brightening up his gray Surrey, England days with the porn collection hidden in his parents' shed, but when he finds that his older stepsister, Dawn, has discovered his magazines, things really begin to heat up.

Their parents insist that their just-graduated son look for a job, but their daughter has the week off and is determined to work on her tan. Distracted David finds himself increasingly tempted by his seductive older stepsister, who makes it very clear what she wants.

Her teasing ways slowly break down the taboo barrier between stepbrother and stepsister until they both give in to their lust, but what are they going to do about the feelings that have developed between them in the meantime?
------
Note: Siblings are step-relations

Warnings: 18+ ONLY This title contains erotic situations, step-sibling incest, graphic language, anal sex, and makes mention of pornography, hammers, interesting uses for rubber bands, dungarees, bikinis, and lots of Britishisms you may or may not have to look up.
------

"Come on, David, you can tell me."

I flushed, staring directly at the sun and then closing my eyes, seeing a bright spot where it had been. "No."

"I didn't think so." She nudged my arm with the bottle.

"Is it that obvious?" I took a swallow, handing it back with my eyes still closed.

Her voice was soft as she said, "No wonder you toss-off so much in the shed."

My eyes flew open, my jaw dropped. My face burned and I couldn't say anything.
Dawn was holding the bottle up. "Crikey! This is almost gone!"

"How long have you known?" I swallowed hard.

"Long enough." She smiled

"Are you gonna tell mum and dad?"

She was grinning now. "Oh, I don't know, that depends."

"On what?" I sat up and turned toward her.

"You know mum will throw a wobbly if she finds out you've got porn."

"Why do you think it's hidden in the shed?" I sighed miserably. "Are you going to tell?"

"I was just teasing." She sat up in her chair and faced me. "What are we, ten? I'm not a grass. So you look at porn. What bloke doesn't, right?"

I sighed, relieved. I looked at her, remembering the words written in the margins. "Say, Dawn... did you... were you looking at it?"

She grinned. "She looks an awful lot like me, doesn't she?"

I nodded, meeting her eyes. "She's my favourite."

She stood, grabbing onto the back of the chair for a moment. She started toward the house. When she got to the door, she looked back at me. "Come on."

I followed her after a moment, finding her standing in the kitchen, leaning against the table. Her bikini top was on the table, too, and I was staring at her breasts. I couldn't move, I couldn't think, I couldn't even breathe.

"You like what you see?" She cupped them and pulled on her nipples. My face was burning, but my cock was stiffening in response. "They look a lot like hers, don't they?"

I nodded in agreement. Blimey, almost exactly like the girl in Naughty Bits! The same little areolas, the dark pinkish nipples. My cock jumped as I watched her rub her hands over them.

"Dawn, what are you doing?" I heard the hoarseness in my own voice.

"Well, I'm a bit pissed," she admitted. "And I'm really randy, especially after watching you wanking in the shed."

"Oh, God," I groaned, putting my hand to my forehead. She was moving toward me, and my eyes fell from her breasts down to her bikini bottoms. Now that I'd seen the top, I wanted to see the rest.

"You wanna suck these?" she purred, pulling on her nipples. "Do you wanna shove your cock in my cunt, baby brother?"

I had backed up to the wall and she was leaning in toward me, not touching me, but close. She slid her hand down into her bikini, and I could see the top edge of her pubic hair.

"You wanna fuck me?" Her hand moved between her legs.

I groaned, closing my eyes against it. "Dawnie," I pleaded. "Please. Stop."



UNDER MR. NOLAN'S BED (Revised)

Leah and Erica have been best friends and have gone to the same Catholic school since just about forever. Leah spends so much time with the Nolans—just Erica and her handsome stepfather now, since Erica’s mother died—that she’s practically part of the family. When the girls find something naughty under Mr. Nolan’s bed, their strict, repressive upbringing makes it all the more exciting as they begin their sexual experimentation. Leah’s exploration presses deeper, and eventually she finds herself in love for the first time, torn between her best friend and her best friend’s stepfather.

---------

This title contains erotic situations, lesbian sex, sex toys, some very naughty stepfather/stepdaughter incest and also makes mention of pornography, salmon, amusement parks, chocolate covered strawberries, brownies (as well as girl scouts), plaid skirts, naughty uses for confessionals and some sacrilegious humor.

---------

EXCERPT:

“I saw you, Mr. Nolan.”

His jaw dropped and he looked at me, incredulous. “Saw me?”

“The night you came into the bathroom. Do you remember that?”

Glancing at him, I saw him nod, his face pale again.

“I watched you,” I admitted, my voice almost a whisper. “Touching yourself.”

“Oh Christ,” he whispered, closing his eyes.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” I confessed. “Seeing you stroking yourself while you watched that man on the screen fuck those two girls…”

His eyes met mine, and I saw the shock in them at my language, but there was something else too, that wasn’t just shock. I’d seen it before, in the kitchen when he’d looked up my skirt, and a moment ago too, when he’d walked in and caught me masturbating.

“I can’t stop thinking about you,” I whispered, moving my hand up his thigh, high enough to feel that he was hard. I was encouraged by that, and the alcohol made me feel more free, like I’d drunk some liquid courage.

“Leah, I know this kind of thing can be confusing.” He took my hand and put it in my lap with a shaky sigh.

“I’m not confused,” I insisted, sliding down to the floor and kneeling between his legs. He shook his head, but I wrapped my arms around his waist, pressing my cheek against his crotch and nuzzling there.

“Oh hell,” he whispered, and I felt his hand moving in my hair, the lightest of touches.

“Please,” I murmured, turning my face, so my mouth moved over the hard length of him in his trousers. “I want to.”

I had him unzipped quickly, reaching in to find him, looking up into his eyes. He was dazed, startled, even a little horrified, but there was something underneath that, and whatever it was kept him from stopping me. He didn’t say no as I freed his cock and took it into my hand.



BACK TO THE GARDEN

Discover the delicious lure of a taboo siren call with four stories bundled into a wickedly hot anthology that's determined to keep it all in the family!

When Patrick's father went off to war in 1944, he told his eighteen-year-old son, You're the "Man of the House" now. Patrick's stepmother has struggled to keep them afloat, and he does what he can to help. He knows she's tired, sad and very lonely, but when circumstance brings a young woman into their lives for a brief time, it alters everything between he and his stepmother forever. Will Patrick become the real "man of the house" before his father returns from the war?

In "The Garden of Eden," Libby has lived her whole life with her stepfather, Ed, in a nudist colony. It's a very open, natural life, and they've never had an issue--until Libby's mother, Kim, re-enters their lives. Kim is appalled by their living and sleeping arrangements and wants to take Libby away from the nudist life. Libby, still devastated by her mother's abandonment, wants to have nothing to do with the shopping trips and material things her mother is offering, but the longer Kim stays, the more everything --everything--becomes a greater temptation.

In "Lassoing the Moon," Leila knows she's always been closer to her stepson, Rich, than most mothers, since Rich's father left when he was just a baby. He's been the man in her life forever--but now he's really a man, and his coming-of-age is a test for both of them.

In "Lost Souls," eighteen-year-old Lily, raised by her fundamentalist preacher stepfather, Adam, isn't allowed to date or do anything against church "law." Asked to the Halloween dance by a boy she really likes, Lily defies Adam. But when they are caught in a compromising position by her stepfather, what will her punishment and repentance be?

-----
NOTE: This is a REVISED edition.

Warnings: This title contains erotic situations, graphic language, and sex, as well as some very naughty mother-son and father-daughter incest.
-----

EXCERPT:

From "Lassoing the Moon"

She was going to hell. There was no getting around it-do not pass go, do not collect $200, she was going straight to hell without any little orange "Get out of hell free" card.

"Your turn."

Leila rolled the dice, moved her little shoe, and bought Baltic Avenue for a song. She could start putting houses on it now, since she owned Mediterranean as well. But she wasn't thinking about Monopoly. She couldn't think about anything, watching her twenty-year-old stepson home from college, sitting out in the living room in his boxers watching The Ultimate Fighting Championships on ESPN.

She was so going to hell.

"Ha! You owe me!"

Leila glanced up at her niece, startled, and forked over the money. Small price to pay for a little bit of freedom. If she just kept rolling the dice, moving around the board, no one would notice that she was watching him out of the corner of her eye, looking at the tight, ridged muscles in his stomach, the dark line of hair that disappeared below his boxers, dreaming about the hard cock she had accidentally caught him stroking in the bathroom that morning...

"Don't you want to put hotels on!?" Chloe nudged her aunt under the table, making a face. "You're not paying attention!"

Damn. Caught. Leila bought four houses, arranging the green plastic pieces on the board, glancing at the clock. Her sister-in-law should be back soon to pick up Chloe, anyway. There was no way they were going to finish this game.

Rich was making fake punches in his seat, watching the fight. "Oh, man, he opened himself up for the leg sweep!"

"Boardwalk!" Chloe squealed, bouncing in her seat and waving an orange five-hundred dollar bill.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Cents on Art Crits

Art criticism is an established style of criticizing works of art.  There are three components to it before one judges the work.

Detailed description - The critic must document all the details in the artwork.  What is there to see?  In a landscape, it wouldn't be just I see trees, it would be I see three trees in the background, in the top left of the painting.  They have an assortment of colored leaves including orange, yellow, and green.  The middle one looks to be a maple tree by the shape of the leaves.

Actually, more detail than that, but you get the picture.

Analysis - This is a detailed look at how the formal properties of art are utilized in the work of art.  How did the artist use the elements to create balance and rhythm, etc? 

Interpretation - What was the artist trying to tell you in the work of art?  Is it a painting about social injustice or love?  What are the clues that establish any kind of emotion and how do you feel when viewing it?

These three criteria for judgement reveal the three components in a work of art  - imitationalism, formalism and emotionalism.  Some people just like how realistic something looks.  Others appreciate a more formal use of color theory and line quality in their art.  Then there are the people who think art should have a message.  When a piece of art works on all three levels, the result is a good judgement, maybe even a masterpiece.

The truth is, most people don't understand art.  Some artists don't even know about these isms, especially if they are self-taught.  But once one sees that there are all these things behind the scenes at work, one tends to appreciate the gift of art.

So, now that I'm a writer, (okay, a self-taught writer) I try to utilize this same structure in my own work.  Writing is weird in that your finished work isn't actually finished until an editor or series of editors gets their hands on it and makes you second guess your original choices.

I admit that while formalism is my strong suit in painting, it is my weakest area in writing.  I am not super-duper well-versed in sentence structure, so it is helpful to have a second or third set of eyes on the work.

It just really bugs me that book critics don't use a standard format to judge the work.  They will have an emotional aversion to something and forego the amazing detail and organization of plot.  They won't see the brilliant use of literary form (if it's there).

Writing is also weird when trying to peddle to publishers.  We like sex, but not anal or whatever.  We like this but not that.  No this, this and this.  And that too.

I'm not used to such seemingly rigid guidelines to my art.  I create alone - then spring my finished series of paintings on the guests of my artist reception at a gallery.  They are always intrigued by the originality of the work.  Other artists always tell me that I'm very brave because I tend to use imagery and ideas that appeal to me personally, which tends to make me more vulnerable to criticism.

If an artist doesn't leave a piece of themselves in the work, then all it is to me is imitationalism.  I can't stand that.  It just isn't enough.  Writing can be an artistic outlet (should be) and I wish places like Amazon would stop treating a writer's art like it should be criticized without a legitimate form of assessment.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Amazon Censorship Alienates Power-Buyers


I hate to say I told you so, Amazon, but...


Okay, I don't hate to say it. 

But I DID tell you so!

According to the numbers being thrown around, Amazon is alienating its ebook "power-buyer" audience by banning erotic fiction.

What!? People are buying PORN on their Kindles? *gasp* 

Yes, yes they are. They're buying a LOT of it. And I don't know why this is such a surprise. Porn has driven every major new technology we've released. And this ain't your mama's porn.

Look, I don't know how much the holier-than-thou reading our porn in the closet commentary while spouting morally indignant objections from customers influenced Amazon's decision to ban certain books from their virtual shelves - however, I do know that while those folks are a vocal MINORITY, the Kindle "power-buyers" are a non-vocal MAJORITY - and they're voting with their dollars.

They are taking their business elsewhere, Amazon.

Do you have any idea how much my sales increased at Barnes and Noble because Amazon "banned" my erotic books from their site? ONE HUNDRED TIMES. That's right, I went from making about $1000 a month on Barnes and Noble to... *drumroll people* almost $100,000 in a month. Now, granted, that number has decreased since the whole banning thing also happened to coincide with the Nook's crazy Christmas-buying extravaganza, but I'm still earning three times the amount on Barnes and Noble than I am on Amazon almost six months later.

The polls don't lie. Readers are abandoning their Kindles for Nooks, especially the "power-buyers" that the publishing industry is drooling over. I could have told you months ago - in fact, I did - that the power-buyers were also erotica readers. And that while they might not email Amazon and protest about the book ban (although some did) in the numbers of the morally-objecting vocal minority - that Amazon was going to feel the sting of actual monetary loss when those erotica readers abandoned Kindle and went elsewhere to find their reading material.

Told ya so.

So is it a good payoff for Amazon, do you think? Was my $100,000 month just a drop in the bucket to the mega superstar? (Their cut would have been about $40K... but Barnes and Noble pocketed that money instead...)

Is Amazon too big to fail?

In this ebook game, I wouldn't make assumptions like that, even if you are Amazon. 

Selena Kitt
erotic fiction you won't forget

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Give It Away Now

I started out (or rather, restarted out) by posting stories up on amateur writing websites. Those stories (brushed up) feature in my short story collections. The originals can still be found on the internet. I thought about pulling them down, but I didn’t in the end.

For the past two months I’ve been running a little serial on my blog.

So, why am I doing this? Why am I essentially giving my work away for free?

It’s a fair argument. I could just as easily package up the serial I’m working on now as a novella and charge people 99¢ to read it.

And it could just as easily sit there on Amazon, unread, forever, even at 99¢.

I think sometimes people are too attached to the notion they must receive something from their writing for it to have value. The problem is value is determined by the market. If you’re nobody and nobody wants to read you because you’re nobody (and remember 99% of everything is crap), then your writing has no monetary value anyway.

I like try-before-u-buy. I like to give my readers try-before-u-buy. I think this is even more important for self-published work. There are still some deep-rooted prejudices against self-published work. If 99% of everything is crap, then everything with no quality control must be 99.9999% crap. The best way to counter this is to make sure there are plenty of samples of your work up and easily accessible for people to read. That way they can see how good it is for themselves.

It’s a little easier with short stories. People read the stories I have out on the internet, decide they want more and then go on to buy the books (which contain stories that can’t be found anywhere else).

I started the Locked in with a Succubus serial to drive traffic to my blog and find new readers. I don’t know if it’s actually resulted in more book sales, but it has doubled the number of visitors. Hopefully, some of them will like what they read enough to spend money on my books.

If you're unknown, you need to get known. You need to get people to read your work and get interested in what you're writing. I don't mind giving some of my stories away for free to achieve this.

M.E. Hydra

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Branding, blogging and a new release...

Hi folks, it’s been a while since I stopped in here, but I’ve been busy editing my next book and getting more distribution channels for my short stories.  That’s an interesting adventure.  Uploading to the different sites is a lot of work, much more than I expected it to be and no two sites seem to have a consistent process.  Such is the life of the self-published. 
Beyond being busy with editing and uploads, I’ve been thinking about branding.  I’m hoping the path I’m going down will elevate  J.E. Taylor into a recognizable brand.  At first, my short stories were put under Taylor Publications – not very original and not something that leaves a lasting impression.  I wanted something with more punch.  More pizzazz.  Why?  Because Taylor Publications is just too boring a label for me. 
Going back to the image I’ve been building for many years – I decided to leverage JET - my nickname in writing circles which has even been expanded to "JET-powered Jane" by one of my online writing teachers (shout out to Margie Lawson – you rock!).    Thus, my own personal imprint ‘tis born:   JET-Fueled Fiction.
So now, I’m changing all my e-books and paperbacks to have  JET-Fueled Fiction listed on the title page in addition to my name.  It’s a fun and tiring exercise – updating documents, reformatting, replacing copies on all the distribution sites that I utilize, updating the paperbacks on CreateSpace, and all in preparation for my official launch of Hunting Season this month. 
And this is my first official blog in my blog tour and giveaway that I’m doing in May.  If you’re interested in getting in on the giveaway, swing by my blog at http://JETaylor75.blogspot.com and check out the rules. 
Happy Cinco De Mayo!
Ciao,
JET

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sell-Sell-Sell!

When Excessica changed its pricing policy, I was skeptical.  I had been steadily selling about twenty books a month on Amazon.com at the $7.99 price point.  I didn't think I could sell more than that since I have only one book published and I thought sales tended to go down the longer the book was on the market.  (Cinderella Club has been out since August 2010.) Plus I do virtually no advertising - except the occasional pop-in at Literotica.com and Lushstories.com, and Facebook.

So on April 1st, I held my breath - and started selling, and selling.  Made the same amount of money with the $3.99 price point!  Counting the UK sales and paperbacks, I sold forty-six books.  (If that doesn't sound like much to you then sorry to disappoint, because I think it's pretty good for a nobody.)  I shouldn't have doubted.  I love the fact that twice as many people bought and will read my book this month than last.  And hopefully the trend will continue.  I'm on my way with five sales for the month of May and it's only the third!

I have two novels in the pipeline.  Both made it to 50,000 words.  Dr. Cockburn's Medicine will be released by Excessica on October 28, 2011 and Jude's Whore has a December 9, 2011 release date. Picking photos for possible covers is like a bride picking out china patterns.  I love this alternate reality, as long as I continue to sell-sell-sell!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Riddles and Validations

M.E. Hydra

Riddle me this:

What’s the difference between a self-pubbed author who sells X copies and a trad-pubbed author who sells X copies?

(I haven’t, by the way, but if you’d like to help me achieve this goal and have a liking for weird, kinky horror, please feel free to mosey on over here…)

It’s easy to be insecure as a writer. There aren’t finishing lines to cross first, opponents to punch out or teams to score more points than. As with most creative endeavours, where quality is subjective, it’s hard to tell if you’re any good or not.

Acceptance with a publishing house gives validation, or so the argument goes (although Joe Konrath refers to it as an example of Stockholm Syndrome). It’s a stamp of approval. Get that deal—and the advance—and a writer can say with authority, “Yes, I am a real author!”

The problem with self-publishing is the ‘published’ part is always going to come with air quotes. If any old oik can shove their badly written mush up onto Amazon, then ‘being published’ no longer feels like an achievement. For that reason self-publishing is often pushed aside and treated as a special case. If the author had to do it themselves, they probably weren’t good enough to be published in the first place. I think many of us have held this view at some point and some almost certainly still do. Check the membership guidelines of professional writers' organisations like the HWA and SFWA and you’ll see very clear stipulations on what does or doesn’t count as a valid publication for obtaining active membership.

Now that the ebook explosion has burst the dam, how important is the traditional stamp of approval?

As validation goes, that stamp is only a proxy when you think about it. To use a simple fantasy analogy, it’s an entrance exam granting permission to go and slay the dragon. Congratulations! You passed. But you still have to go and kill that dragon…

If someone else decides to skip all those stupid trials, goes straight to the dragon and hacks its head right off, are they any less of a dragonslayer?

In this case the dragon—and true validation—is finding an audience, whether it is small and distinguished or massive and lucrative.

What happens when more and more writers choose to go it alone, not because they aren’t good enough, but because it makes more economic sense than signing away a huge chunk of their royalties? Clauses like this (from HWA’s active membership requirements)

With the sole exception of comic books, self-published work can not be used for qualification purposes. "Self-published work" is defined as written material disseminated by the author (for example, email or electronic publications, publication on the author's Web site, or printed publications sold on consignment or solely by the author), or written material whose basic publication costs are defrayed in whole or in part by the author.

will cease to make any sense. As will references to 5¢/word rates and minimum advances.

Riddle me this:

Person A gets a $5,000 advance from an accredited publisher, but only goes on to sell a couple of hundred copies. Person B makes $10,000 a month selling 99¢ self-published ebooks on Amazon. Which one is the professional author?

(I’m not trying to bash the HWA, by the way. I was a fresh-faced wannabe member a while back and I found them helpful in terms of market information and discovering new writers I hadn’t read before.)

Which leads us back to the original question:

What’s the difference between a self-pubbed author who sells X copies and a trad-pubbed author who sells X copies?

My gut says the answer is this:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Self-Pubbed Cinderella

Hi everyone, I'm erotic author Mia Natasha, and today is my first post here on The Self Publishing Revolution.  Apparently the erotica I write is very explicit, more so than the average.  Which means that I have few options for publishing the work unless I do it on my own.  I was lucky to find a fit with Selena Kitt and Excessica.  Cinderella Club is actually doing well on Amazon.com right now because it is in the top 20 bestsellers in the category of rape.  I know, I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed about that or not.  I don't consider non-consent rape, because in my world the men are handsome and sexy and the women are unwilling at first but only because they  feel too guilty to be willing.  It's just a fantasy as all fiction is. 

There are plenty of women who share the reluctance fantasy.  I had read an article in Glamour magazine that said about 65% of the readers polled enjoyed daydreams involving capture-bondage.  It's a way for we independant new millenium women to relinquish responsibilty in our heads.  Not in real life.  The problem is that the book lists under the BDSM spectrum and  there are people who actually live that lifestyle who upon reviewing my book for content are all yuck, yuck.

Not everyone, thank god.  It was a book that took two years to write - from one scene in a dream to 140,000 words of epic novel.  Epic in the sense that I'm not a writer.  Not even an English major.  First generation American from an old country foreign family who has an art degree and paints for a living, thank you very much.

I'm living a dream, quite frankly, and self publishing is a big part of that.  These reluctance stories have always circled my head.  Shamefully, I was only thirteen when I wrote short stories in my room about girls who got kidnapped and boys who rescued them.  There was no sex, mind you, but the content was always there.  Is that weird?  I always knew I would be a writer one day, even though I never pursued it until now and I had never been encouraged so that obviously made it harder.

My book is doing well.  And so I've caught the bug.  I have three other novels finished, two will be published  later this year, one of which I have one chapter to go on.  I should get back to it now so that I can make the deadline.  Since Excessica is currently closed for submissions, the other one, Cinderella Thyme, Cinderella Club's sequel waits in limbo.

I'm not worried.  I believe that everything happens when the timing is right and it will all work out.  If you are the type of person who gets into ruts and doesn't think things will work out, I want you to think of me.  Because this dream of mine shouldn't have happened.  I wasn't even thinking about writing until I had that daydream of a woman (who looks like me, natch) sitting in a limousine.  It came out of nowhere like a magical summons to get back onto the right path.

Now writing is here in addition to everything else I do, not instead of.  Knowing that people all over the world are reading my book is such an unbelievable high, it really makes it all worth it.  Getting a check every three months for a dream come true is not bad either.  It certainly gets me motivated to write more.  That and I have a sick work ethic.

Pleased to meet you.  I plan to make this a regular gig so I'll pop off my glass slipper now and come back for it later - because that's what independant multitaskers do.

Here is the link to my blog - http://mianatasha-erotica.blogspot.com/?zx=418a7ac0ef1a045b

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Selp Publishing For A Cause

I'm going to blatantly blow my horn (heh) for this lovely book put out by a fabulous and talented self-pubber, Alessia Brio.

I didn't self-publish this one, but it was released through her kick-ass Coming Together series.

So, this would be one of those self publishers working together for the greater good dealios. Working together is rarely a bad thing and in this case it was a great thing. An I wash her back, she washes mine kind of thing. Or vice versa. Either way, close the door on your way out while we finish washing um...each other...or see the below shameless self promotion.

Coming Together: With Sommer

Went live today :) Book benefits LLS. The foreword was written by the amazing William Patrick Tandy, editor extraordinaire (of Smile, Hon fame) and the whole book was made possible by the unstoppable Alessia Brio.

If you go to the book's ARe page, you can read the author's note and see just what this book means to me. Now that's steamy sexy paranormal for a good cause! :)

XOXO
Sommer