Time-Out

Hello fellow denizens of the world which some call sordid, and others perverted. Those of us who know it better realize it is all a part of life – no matter what the narrow-minded may think. Life, love, sex, and frolicking – with or without the benefit of clergy – has remained a part and parcel of who and what we are for as long as we’ve been around.

Some – many – look upon the activities of those who do not cut themselves off from basic and intrinsic parts of our beings as something “other”. Mostly, I think, they fear to recognize those same yearnings within themselves, and that fear divides the world into yet another “us and them”.

Seeing the world in terms of absolutes, in “black and white” lessens us all, and gives permission to wish the most terrible fates upon the “other”, who is not human, at least not like “we” are.

Yet both sides bleed when cut, hope for a better world for their children, and, for the most part, have many more similarities than differences.

Writers often bring this out in their works, allowing readers to enter consciousnesses not their own, to live through characters who don’t think like they do, who do not necessarily believe as they do, yet have enough similarities that almost all can recognize them as fellow humans, and thus allow them to empathize. It can make this a better world.

It’s a tough life, being a writer – especially a writer of the taboo. We work so hard to bring joy, and what do we get for it? Scorn and vilification along with our accolades. However, honour and the goal of the betterment of the human condition drives us on past pain and scorn. [At least that’s my story … and I’m sticking to it.]

But, we are the same as you. We have hopes and fears, joy and sorrow, just like everyone else. And, this week, life gave me one of those kicks in the teeth that we all get from time to time. It has left me somewhat injured, though nothing that I will not recover from – but not in time to write today’s post.

Thus, I beg your indulgence and hope you will come back in a fortnight, when this particular disaster will have shrunk with time and distance. Hopefully no new one will intrude, and we can continue as before.

Live the Joy, my fellow denizens, our time here is too short to deny it its full measure.

Delta.

* * *

Echo Chambers’ books

Delta’s Books

Dear Plagiarizer: Breaking Bad – A Bad Idea

19843099_sDear Plagiarizer:

You are obviously confused about what plagiarism is and how copyright works. Since plagiarism and copyright are important to me, being a writer who spends hours creating the original material I publish and all, I thought I would educate you about the topic. The first place I would have thought you might look, plagiarizer, is to the internet standard, Wikipedia:

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’‘s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

I can see where you might have become confused, plagiarizer. When the subject of plagiarism came up in school, I remember teachers saying, “Put it in your own words.” And that was the extent of their lesson. But there’s a problem with that phrase–put it in your own words–oft repeated by teachers and professors everywhere. It gives students, writers, and possibly future authors, the idea that putting something “in your own words” makes it yours. It doesn’t. Putting something in your own words allows you to express the idea without directly quoting the person who said it–but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to cite the work the idea came from. That’s the basis of research.

Plagiarizing fiction is a little different from plagiarizing an article or an essay. Two authors can take the same idea and write a completely different story. Let’s take the example one of the forum posters used in their response–that two authors are both writing about a small town girl who falls in love with a vampire. One is Twilight, the other is Vampire Diaries. They both have similar ideas–tropes–but they are very different in their expression, their characters, their happenings, even if they share some of the same vampire lore. Vampire Diaries didn’t plagiarism Twilight, or vice versa, no matter which came first. The authors simply used the same trope (girl in love with vampire, love triangles, etc) on which to base their fiction.

There is never, ever a time, when writing or publishing fiction, that it’s okay to use someone else’s work and “put it in your own words.” Let’s be clear about that. It is wrong to ever rewrite fiction and call it your own.

Apparently, plagiarizer,  you didn’t get the memo or you took your teacher’s word for it that “putting it in your own words” made it all okay. Aubrey Rose has come forward about this issue, but I personally know several other authors this has happened to who are afraid to come forward in fear of retaliation from the plagiarising author. And if the forum post above is any indication, it’s clear you believe you did nothing wrong. After all you said:

I looked at a selling genre and wrote a book around them. I didn’t think it was going to be this severe. I didn’t copy anything. The story stayed in my memory and I had significantly altered it.”

Altering a work does not make it yours. You probably weren’t around back in 2008 when the Cassie Edwards extravaganza happened. She was a traditionally published author whose publisher dropped her because she plagiarised. And being banned from Amazon KDP or dropped from a publisher are the least of your worries when you plagiarize something, plagiarizer.

As to how severe the consequences may be, let me enlighten you, plagiarising author, about just how serious it is. While plagiarism isn’t technically illegal – you can turn in a completely plagiarised school assignment and not get arrested, although you’re likely to fail the course if you get caught, and maybe even kicked out of school, especially at the college level – plagiarism can also be a copyright violation. That’s where you can get yourself into trouble and pretty big trouble at that. And I’m not just talking about your book being removed from Amazon, or your account at Amazon being closed, and your IP and ISP address being blocked by Amazon. Obviously that’s bad enough–it really hits you where you live, when: This is my only income-stream ATM!” 

(Just an aside – I find it ironic you used the acronym ATM, which I assume you meant to indicate “at the moment,” because you are currently using other author’s hard work as your own personal ATM–automatic teller machine. Well, plagiarizer, your bank account has now been closed. And that’s not all that may happen to you. I’ll get more into that later.)

If you are taking someone else’s work and simply rephrasing it, as was the case with Aubrey Rose’s book (and quite a few others I’ve seen as well) – you are violating copoyright. There is a concept in intellectual property rights that you may not have been aware of, naive plagiarizer, called “substantial similarity.” Check this glossary of intellectual property terms for its definition. I’ll repeat it for you here. (Note I’ve cited the source… that’s how not to plagiarize, plagiarizer. I’ve bolded the most important phrase in the quote.)

SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY [copyright]. The degree of resemblance between a copyrighted work and a second work that is sufficient to constitute copyright infringement by the second work. Exact word-for-word or line-for-line identity does not define the limits of copyright infringement. U.S. courts have chosen the flexible phrase “substantial similarity” to define that level of similarity that will, together with proof of validity and copying, constitute copyright infringement.

I’m pretty sure, plagiarizer, even if you have not read this particular term, Amazon’s copyright lawyers have. And banning your account is the least of the actions that could be taken against you. Perhaps, plagiarizer, you aren’t as naive as you claim. Maybe you thought you would pick authors you assumed couldn’t pursue you with a lawsuit and decided to rewrite their popular works as your own in order to cash in on the gold rush of KDP self-publishing?

Did you think you wouldn’t get caught? That avid readers wouldn’t notice the similarities between your book and hers? Or did you just not care? You figured, if you got caught, you’d take the money and run?

Here’s the problem with your theory: a) you did get caught, and eventually, anyone who does this, will get caught–someone will find out and you will be exposed and b) you can still be sued. I don’t care what country you live in, how protected you feel you are, or how “innocent” this crime feels in your head.

You think the author you’re plagiarising has no recourse? But how do you know who that author is? I have more than one pen name, plagiarizer, and you could have chosen one of mine and not even know it. I have more than enough resources to come after you. And I would — on principle alone. As self-publishing becomes more lucrative, as more and more authors make money from their creative endeavors, they are branching out into other genres. Hugh Howey is currently writing a romance novel. He has more than enough money – and integrity – to come after you, plagiarizer. What if you plagiarise his pen name “by accident?” What if you plagiarise a traditional author who has branched out and self-published erotica or erotic romance? Anne Rice wrote her erotica under the name A.N. Roquelaure. What do you think would happen to you if you chose to plagiarize her, before anyone knew A.N. Roquelaure was Anne Rice?

Don’t think you’re protected, plagiarizer, that even if you’re found out, the author won’t come after you, because you could be wrong, and being wrong can be costly. Do you know what happens, plagiarizer, if you are sued and you lose?

You give up all profits from the plagiarised work. You pay back the profits, plus damages. The law says you have to pay up to $150,000 for each work infringed. You will also have to pay the author’s attorney fees and court costs. That’s right, plagiarizer–the author won’t have to pay to sue you, in the end. You will pay to be sued. The court can also issue an injunction against you or even send you to jail.

Was it worth it, plagiarizer?

And for anyone out there still doing this, or considering it, because all your black hat internet marketing friends are doing it too, ask yourself this: is it worth the risk? Are you ready to pay the consequences for breaking bad in this instance? Because you never know who you’re plagiarising, especially in erotica and erotic romance. The names you see on the covers? 80% of those are pen names. And they might be pen names of authors who have a lot more money, resources and integrity than you do.

——–

Authors if this has happened to you, check out this resource: Authors United Against Plagiarism. The more authors united against this – and the more authors reporting it – the worse it will get for plagiarizers who believe they can continue to do this and get away with it. 



Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASE: Crazy About the Baumgartners

The Unexpected Big Hits

For the first time, we watched Pretty Woman. I’d heard about it, of course. It’s the movie that started tropes, that pretty much created a genre, and that launched careers.

movies_greatest_movie_couples_gallery_13And watching it… it’s all wrong. A poor prostitute, with a big mouth? A rich man that isn’t particularly dominant, and has been through therapy because of his daddy issues?

It’s all shot with the intention to make her seem like the hero, though. A loud woman who is confident and sexually self assured and not at all submissive? She doesn’t take his bullshit, calls him an asshole, and though she’s excited for the money, she still maintains her boundaries and autonomy.

It’s just amazing to me because of how out of place it must have been around all the other big hits that year. Home Alone. Die Hard 2. Dances with Wolves. Ghost.

The directors took a chance, they tried something that hadn’t been done before, and they started a genre.

And that’s also why 50 Shades of Grey was a hit. There weren’t a lot of BDSM novels available, there certainly weren’t any with a female character like Anastasia, or a male character like Christian. It had the right blend of naivity, sexual awakening, dominant man, dark pasts, and wish fulfillment.

Women were able to pretend they were Anastasia, being seduced to the dark side in a safe way (i.e. in a romantic relationship that is based on a BDSM) who is offered everything she ever wants. In a world where wealth is so envied, so desired, I think that was probably the thing that tipped the scales in its favour.

Pretty_Woman_11 People want to be rich. Reality television tells us that over and over, we’re just fascinated by wealth and wealthy people. We have a vision of what wealth looks like and how people would behave, especially men. Confident, controlling…

50 Shades was never written to be a hit. It was written because E.L. James had a passion for this story, for these characters, for the world. She might have had an inkling that she might be able to make some money off it, which is why she self published it, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what a phenomenon it would be.

Much like Pretty Woman, 21 years before it, it didn’t fit in. It was an anomaly, a leader. It didn’t follow in the footsteps of everything else. The characters are flawed, they don’t fit in with society, and they changed the world.

(And both of the men are rich, because it is a romance, after all. And everyone wants to be financially spoiled.)

The Fucking Farewell

I’ve been thinking a lot about real life conversations with men vs. erotic romance novel stuff.  I find myself having imaginary conversations with the man I’m seeing and when we talk face-to-face or on the phone the reality is it goes nothing like the way I imagine.

Books are often geared towards women, especially those written by women because we aspire to have an epic sexual romance that is better in fantasy than reality.  One where no one farts or clears their throat or does other obnoxious things that grate on a person after days, months and years of being with them.

Our meet/cute didn’t go that well.  I mean, I didn’t think it did because I felt like the expectations for both of us had to do with our individual experiences.  And like I said, no one acts the way you think they will.  I acted chatty, telling stories the way I always do and later he said I talked too much.  He told me stories too so I vehemently deny that I didn’t also listen intently to what he shared, although at the time, I did kind of think he was a combination of wounded divorcee and egomaniacal jerk.  He started calling me afterwards, stalker-like and that settled down.  Then it stopped altogether so I started it up again and our conversations became intimate and honest, and like nothing else I have ever experienced before.  Now I’m not sure where we are to be honest with you.

I hate when I start out with my giant ego and think about all the things that are wrong about the guy – wrong for me – and then I make some sort of massive 360 and start thinking the exact opposite.  I start thinking I want to marry him and have his baby, and grow old with him and hope I die first because I can’t stand the idea of living without him even though we’ve only had a couple of dates and we really don’t know enough about each other to even know what 40 years of marriage would be like.  But I live far into the future.  In a way, it’s like that episode of STNG when Jean-Luc was out cold for like 30 seconds but he lived an entire life on another planet and learned to play the reed flute.  I convince myself that the universe has intervened and now it is my turn to have a great love despite that rocky start.  And I will have my happily ever after, after all.

I get so crazy-like and I’m not that type of whack-a-doodle, honestly.  Maybe I am and I scared him off inadvertently – oh, and here I go making excuses and analyzing the whole thing as if it needs to be dissected and figured out, like a science project.

In romance novels, the man loves the woman’s quirks.  We don’t ever know his quirks because he’s a strong guy without any.  But in real life, I think there are more women for men than there are men for women.  Men can pull this – I want something casual – routine as if women are a dime a dozen and maybe we are.  We on the other hand,  fixate on the one we want.  The one with the all the attributes we write down on a scrap paper and fold into the pages of The Secret.  Oh, it doesn’t matter if there are red flags that go against what we believe.  And if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, watch an episode of Bachelor in Paradise.  How the girl is already naming their children and the guy is like, I think we should explore other relationships while we are here and not pair up.

I’m thinking the whole thing is a giant Jedi mind trick.  It’s happened before where I feel like my mind has been somehow altered.  Mind control.  Hmmm.  Then I think I am totally head over heels in love and then…crickets.

I’m like a baby who only sees the rattle and wants it but when it’s not there I feel like it was never there to begin with.  The idea of real love just tortures me to tell you the truth.  I don’t want to want it because I feel like I can’t go back there and get my heart ripped away from my chest like a character on the TV series Once Upon a Time.

I stopped writing again.  It was something I did to babysit myself in a way and I feel like that time spent was incredibly isolating and resulted in only patching my finances and not fixing them.  I need to rip the Band-Aid away.

Frankly, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself if this relationship doesn’t pan out.  But I know that as of now, I don’t want to be Mia anymore.  This will be my final post here at One Handed Writers.  Thank you, Michelle, and everyone else for the opportunity to participate in this forum.  I wish you all the best in your careers.  My books will still be for sale and it will certainly be hilarious if they start selling despite my disappearance from social media.  I’ve sold nothing on Amazon since my sale ended so I will be able to easily monitor that during the transition.

As a thirteen-year-old, I used to write stories in a spiral notebook while sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I am, always have been and always will be a creative person to my core and that requires a lot of alone time to actually do that work.  But it shouldn’t be at the expense of a real social life.

Grilled by the Sexy Librarian!

Hi,

Yes, it’s happened – I’ve been well and truly grilled by the Sexy Librarian in my first ever audio interview! Frankly, it was the sort thing I never imagined would happen to me – but it did and you can listen to the interview for yourself!

Some of you, of course, will know who the Sexy Librarian is, and all about her. You might even be one of her devoted ‘lurid listeners’! But if this is all new to you, let me explain. The Sexy Librarian is Rose Caraway, rightly famous as one of the most erotic voices in audio books. But as well as narrating super sexy erotica anthologies which you can find on Audible, Rose also produces the Sexy Librarian’s Podcast and Blogcast and, as if that weren’t enough, is now also an erotica editor.

So I guess I should have realized that when she accepted one of my stories for her latest book, The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, that other things would follow…

As I said, this was my first ever interview and I was really nervous – but Rose made me feel immediately at home and then launched into a fun discussion about my work and my writing processes. And to give you a taster, here are the written answers to a sample of her questions:

How and when did you start writing erotica?

I’ve probably been writing erotica for between two and three years now. It all started when I stumbled across a submission call for an erotica anthology. I was, at that time, writing contemporary women’s fiction and I’d written several sex scenes – so when I saw the call, I thought, Sure, I can do that! (Perhaps I should mention at this point, I’d never even read any erotica, let alone attempted writing it!) But, call it arrogance or call it stupidity, I wrote my story, sent it off and – wow! – it was accepted. The rest, as they say, is history, albeit with a rather steep learning curve.

Would you consider yourself a ‘Plotter’ or a ‘Pantser’?

Definitely a plotter to the max! I start with the germ of an idea and then I build it up and flesh it out with an outline and then, if it’s a novel, I move on to a chapter breakdown which gives a really detailed outline of whatever needs to happen in the chapter. But naturally I’m only human and sometimes I stray from my carefully constructed plot. Result? Total disaster. I know well enough not to do that now – it’s all about the outline, baby! That’s when the real work gets done and writing is simply the chore that follows.

What are the hardest scenes for you to write?

The first scene of a new book is always tough. You’re feeling around for the tone, trying to introduce the setting and the characters and the backstory, while keeping it exciting and dynamic. Although I’m a linear writer, starting at the beginning and then working through to the end, I pretty much always rewrite the first couple of scenes once I’ve settled in to the rhythm and tone of the piece, and worked out which details need to be introduced immediately and which can be slipped in later.

Connection scenes between the main protagonists can also be tough. They’re the most fun to write but also the most challenging. These are sort of scenes that start off as conflict and end between the sheets, and you need to get the balance between the two characters just right to make it believable and sexy!

What advice would you give to new writers with regards to their journey in finding their writing style?

Just WRITE, WRITE and WRITE some more. I once read that most people’s first published novel is actually the fifth one they’ve written. It takes a long time and a lot of words on the page to develop a unique voice that you can rely on to tell your stories. Put it this way, if you wanted to be concert violinist, you wouldn’t expect to pick up the violin and play at concert standard from day one, would you? So why should writing be any different? I don’t think writers ever stop growing and developing, so the more you write the better – whether it gets published or not.

There are plenty more questions and some laughs on the audio interview but Rose finished up by asking me some quickfire Pivot questions:

What is your favorite erotic word? Tremble

What is your least favorite erotic word? Nether, as in nether lips!

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally when writing erotica? Creating realistic characters who connect with one another

What turns you off when reading erotica? Contrived names for body parts – yuck!

What is your favorite erotic curse word? Fuck!

What erotic sound or noise do you love to write in a story? The sound of a zipper being undone, the clatter of shoes being kicked aside, the rustle of clothing slipping to the floor…

What erotic sound or noise do you hate to read in a story? Flesh slapping against flesh

What profession other than Erotica Author would you like to attempt? I would have love to have been a lawyer

What profession would you not like to do? Being a dentist or a nurse

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? What the hell are you doing here? You’re not dead yet!

You can find The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica at:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Cleis Press

Hitting the erom heights in Canada

I love Canada.

A Canadian bestsellerA few weeks ago I wrote on my own blog about how my romantic suspense novel Winner Takes All had somehow become a runaway bestseller in Canada, topping several genre charts and peaking at number 8 of all books at amazon.ca. I studied what had happened quite closely, but just couldn’t put my finger on the reason for the book’s Canadian success. Sometimes, though, these things just happen: a couple of sales give a book a push and become a handful of sales; that gets the book into a few also-bought listings and targeted email promos and it can snowball. You really can’t control these things, so I put it down as a nice fluke and moved on.

This month’s novel, Black Widow, seemed to confirm that. This book had almost exactly the same kind of promotion as Winner Takes All, but appeared to vanish without a trace in Canada. Then, out of the blue, I noticed a few days ago that something was starting to happen. With all the promotional activity over, and no explanation I could identify, Black Widow had hit the top thirty of all books in Canada, jumping from a ranking of lower than 7000 to number 24 in the space of a day…

As I watched, it kept climbing, peaking at number 14 overall, topping the romantic suspense chart and hitting number 2 in suspense, before starting to slowly slip back.

I’ve no idea what’s going on, but I’m delighted that my two most recent novels have been Canadian bestsellers. It’s a real thrill seeing my books up there with the likes of Stephen King, Jodi Picault and Kathy Reichs, and I’m just starting to think that this may be something more than a fluke.

So, as I say, I do love Canada, and in particular I love Canada’s bestseller lists!

14canada

Black Widow is available from:

The Strange Privilege of Sex Writing (Plus Some Free Erotica, Relevant to Discussion)

I’ve been writing self-published erotica for my living (or part of my living, anyway) for a while now.

Contemporary self-publishing being what it is, that’s necessitated a fair amount of digital infrastructure: publisher accounts, blogs, social media feeds, and so on, all of it tied to my porn-writing name.

That’s a risk for anyone, in our sex-phobic culture. Being tied to sex-positive speech or writing exposes you to a lot of negative attention.

But it also comes with a certain freedom. Because my mailing list, my Twitter feed, etc. all exist to support the sale of sexual fantasies, other sex-positive or just plain old sexual content is, for lack of a better word, germane.

To put it more bluntly, I can tweet about sex toys flopping all over my apartment, and no one bats an eyelash:

a-vivian-vane-silicone-cock-tweet

I don’t view that freedom as an unalloyed good, mind you. While it’s sort of fun to be all va-va-voom vamped-up sexy in my online presence, it’s a little depressing that A) it’s essentially required for the job, and B) it’s a consistently effective sales technique. That doesn’t say wonders for my integrity or the sophistication of my clientele.

But the freedom to be filthy I have, like it or not. I was reminded of how unusual that really is when I entered a story into an erotic contest over at Bad Girl’s Bible, and then found out that the “voting” would be done by social media shares (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.).

It’s a cute idea, but it got me thinking about how few people really have the ability to just up and re-tweet a link to an erotic, BDSM-themed work of fiction on their social media feeds.

For a lot of people, that would be a real problem! It drastically limits the number of people who can give feedback or “votes” in the contest. And that’s a little sad to think about.

So long story short, I’m glad that my job entitles me to be a little more openly sexy and sexual online than most people. But I continue to be weirded out by the idea that it’s “okay” for me to do that because I indirectly make money off of it, whereas people who just do sexy things for fun need to keep it discreet.

Capitalism, as they say, forgives all vices but tolerates no virtues. But you all get a free BDSM short story out of it, if you want to read one, so have fun! And if you have the freedom to link to it on Facebook or Twitter, well, I won’t say no to your celebrating the freedom in the practice..

BDSM Has Made It To Advertising

Sex sells. Everyone knows this. But I had to giggle when I opened up a new mascara sample and read the package it came in. I guess BDSM sells mascara now.

I subscribe to both Birchbox.com and ipsy.com. For ten dollars a month, both sites send samples of new products. Birchbox.com seems to send the high-end stuff. I get to sample products I’d never buy in real life, because one, I don’t get out much :) and two, I’d never drop $50 on a new shampoo that uses oil to clean your hair. What? Putting oil on your hair to clean your hair?

I sampled said shampoo when it arrived in one of my monthly boxes, loved it, went to order it from their site (free shipping) and saw it was a $50 shampoo. Who the hell spends $50 on oil shampoo? Well, it seems that now, I do.

I also now buy $5 candy bars. Damn you Chuao Chocolatier and your amazing pop corn pop bar and your firecracker bar. I bought about 10 of their assorted mini bar gift sets and handed them out like candy at Christmas. (You rate the products that come every month, building up points. Between points, and free shipping, my Christmas handing out of OMG good chocolate was free!)

My mom is now addicted as well. For her birthday all she wanted was as many pop corn pop bars as we could find. Shipping them in the summer heat was going to cost more than my house, but we found a local provider. Between my sister and I, we bought them out. So good. I thought I’d fall for their Maple Bacon Bar, but no, the pop corn pop and the firecracker won my heart.

Sorry, I’m getting off target. Chocolate seems to do that to me. Through Birchbox.com I’ve sampled everything from nail polish to granola bars. Perfumes to face creams (the expensive ones I’d never try on my own.) Lotions, eyeshadows, eyeliners, all kinds of stuff. Some things I’ve been impressed with and gone on to buy. Most samples end up being used but never bought, and some I didn’t like. They went to my teen.

Ipsy.com seems to send the newest drug store products, which I’m actually a bit more apt to buy. Today’s samples included a dry shampoo (I love dry shampoos, woohoo!) a pore refining face cream, a lip gloss, an eye shadow, and the BDSM mascara that actually caused me to alter what I was going to write about today to write about all this instead.

It came in a little folder- here is a picture. imageBlack packaging, of course. I first noticed the name: Urban Decay’s Perversion. Loved it. I thought, Oh, I could so use Perversion as a book title. Hell, I just used ‘Corrupted’ as a book title.

Then I opened it.

“GET SEXED UP IN ONE STROKE” Ha, nice!

It went on, “So intense, you might need a safe word.” I won’t write it all here, but it also says, in regards to a separate primer, “foreplay for your lashes,” and “our creamy formula…wets lashes…”

Now usually with mascaras, kiddo gets them immediately. She loves trying different mascaras, and I have my perennial favorite, but this one I feel I should hide in my drawer next to my vibrator. I will be trying this mascara.

Sex sells. Advertising works. Subscription-based models work, at least for me.

I’ve only very recently started advertising my books. Why? I’m too poor to pay the rates I know Bookbub or Freebooksy etc charges, not that Bookbub would take anything I write, but still. I tried eBooksoda, when it was brand new and free to advertise. Nothing. So I didn’t bother with it yet. I figured I needed more of a back list first anyway.

And then I heard about this thing called the ‘summer slump.’ I was just starting to build sales, a slump was the last thing I needed. So I did a few things in preparation.

I resolved to publish something new every Monday through the summer. Even if it was just a bundle. Something. Every week. I put it exclusively with Amazon, so I could have immediate free days. I figured that putting a new title up every week was enough work, I didn’t want to deal with every store every week. I also figured once the titles did their 90-day time exclusive to Amazon, then I’d put them up elsewhere- B&N, etc.

So, I published every Monday, it was usually live sometime on Tuesday. I used all five free days the very first weekend it came out, usually Friday to Tuesday, since my day to blog here is every other Tuesday. That way I could plug some of my free days.

So basically I have new material weekly, a new freebie every weekend, and I also tried a few free/cheap advertising sites. Summer slump? What summer slump?

My sales have grown all summer! And honestly, when Amazon Unlimited showed up out of the blue- I got a big boost. Since everything I did all summer was already enrolled when that program went live, I was in the small pool that was shoved into it from the beginning. I did sweat how much the program was going to pay, but hoped it evened out, since I had both 2.99 titles and .99 titles in there.

My 2.99 titles obviously lost money per download, but they got downloaded a lot! And my .99 titles did amazing.

And as you know from my $10 a month sample subscriptions to Birchbox and Ipsy, I like the basic idea. I am trying Unlimited, free for the first month. So far I like it. I’ve read/sampled a lot of work I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Long term it remains to be seen, as both an author in the program and as a reader in the program, but I’m willing to give it a try. If I was a big movie person I’d probably belong to NetFlix as well, but I don’t. Too busy reading and writing.

I am also in the middle of consolidating pen names. My other pen name didn’t have much to it, but was longer and less hard core. It was the one family and some friends knew about. This Jamie Klaire name was the one I hid, being more sex, less story, and also holding some taboo titles. But then I found myself wanting to do paranormal as well, and so did not want to deal with a third pen name.

So screw it. Jamie Klaire will be it, and it will hold everything. Hopefully people like to read a variety, like I do. My other name’s two novels are now renamed, re-covered, re-authored, and a series. Adapt, baby! Adapt.

Shuffling pen names, trying sexy advertising, serializing novels, hanging on for the interesting ride that is the new subscription model in Amazon, every day is an adventure!

It is a scary ride, but I’m buckling my seat belt and hanging on for the highs, lows, and loop-de-loops. What else can I do? I’m here to stay, and if staying means rolling with the whims of the big boys, so be it.

There was a survey in one of the writers boards about Unlimited. Every time I peeked in there to check the results it was dead on 50/50. Love it or hate it, whatever Amazon and the rest do, I am nothing but a small shrimp in their ocean. Here’s hoping that there are more ups than downs.

Oh, if you haven’t read my milder stuff, originally under my now defunct pen name- parts 1 and 2 are free through today, Tuesday August 19. Click the cover to be taken to Amazon.

Part 1 of the 8 part Corruption Series

Part 1 of the 8 part Corruption Series

 

Great Writing Tips To Make Readers Hate You

I believe it was Margarette Atwood that first dished out the writing tip I encountered: don’t look to the genres you write for inspiration, look to the genres you don’t write.

The rationale being: if you’re just looking to other writers doing what you do for inspiration, then your work is going to be derivative, typical, unremarkable. You’ll be less likely to bring something new to the table for your genre of choice, and instead of creating new and interesting experiences in, say, science fiction, you’ll be adding to a backlog of “been there, done that’s”.

That clicked with me immediately, and validated my own feelings. I loved reading history, alternate-history, science, science-fiction, but mainly enjoyed writing fantasy, romance and erotica.

Theodoras-DescentThere were certain things I liked about particular genres, but had little interest in replicating the whole thing myself. For instance: I love sprawling universes of so many scifi settings, the attention to detail, the daring to dream of future worlds, future societies and what may come. But I hated the idea of bogging my own writing down in what would inevitably become an obsessive compulsion to “get the science right” when I didn’t even care that much.

I want to tackle the issues that scifi so often does, in that sweeping, impressive manner, but without having to pick up a degree in several different technical disciplines to make it sound believable. (Okay, let’s be serious: to satisfy my own need to not make factual errors.)

So I write stories I enjoy in other genres, because I enjoy them too. I just so happen to enjoy them more with a focus on the things that matter to me.

Fantasy? Love it! But with a focus on romance? Even better!

When you start to draw inspiration from other genres, however, you risk running afoul of the small but vocal readers who demand you obey all the writing conventions of that genre. And I do mean all the conventions.

You want to write romance? Well it damn well better have a happily ever after ending.

Oh, and don’t you dare try writing in third person omniscient if this is a contemporary novel!

Erotica? Well don’t you even try to make the underlying plot have some substance, I just need a quick spank book!

The list goes on and on.

However, the narrow criteria of what certain genre fans expect can be both frustratingly restrictive, and creatively inspiring. Finding a way to give readers the happily-ever-after they so desperately need while still breaking the mould was what inspired our novel, the Warlord’s Concubine. And that remains to this day my favourite of our published work. In the end, it’s important to know the common reader expectations, while at the same time making sure it doesn’t stifle the artistic integrity of the plot.

For our latest creative writing experiment, check out our horror novel, Theodora’s Descent! A whopping tale of terror, with an erotic element that will be sure to leave many pearls clutched. Now available for pre-order on the following sites:

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble / AllRomance / Smashwords / iTunes / Kobo

“A Promise Made…”

A famous Canadian poet once wrote “Now a promise made is a debt unpaid” (Robert Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee” c1907). Well, last post I talked about Kindle Unlimited, begged for people to borrow my stuff, and promised that I would report on it. So, to pay my debt, I guess I’ll have to report on results.

I said I figured this Kindle Unlimited program would not do me any favours. It looks like that is true. My sales over the last two weeks have dived. Usually August sales are very similar to July’s – for me. Sometimes they are a little better, sometimes a little worse. Sales for the first two weeks of August are less than 50% of July’s. I’m not the only author whose sales have dropped off a cliff.

During the last two weeks, I’ve had 16 borrows – 13 for Echo’s 2 books available for this program, 2 for Delta’s 15, and 2 for my Genre Name’s 3 (whose books usually make up 60% of my sales). Thank you to those who took the time to borrow these books. Actually, due to continually falling sales over the last two years, those 16 borrows almost make up for missing sales. Pitiful. Three years ago, I made a decent living with my books alone; two years ago, a poverty existence living; but every new Amazon change seems to cut into sales. Now, I make coffee money. Ah, well.

“A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

I believe that writers make a promise to readers with every piece they put out: “This will be the best I can do.” I work under that assumption, and perhaps I put too much stock in that. I want the book to be as perfect as I can make it. I won’t rush a work out the door. That means a lot of editing, proofing, and ensuring that (to the best of my ability) the work is logical and consistent – as well as being the best writing that I can put out.

Is it worth it? I published a genre novel last month. Including writing, editing, proofing, working on the cover, etc. that novel took over 200 hrs – perhaps as much as 300 hrs – to complete. First month sales (which are usually the best) have seen me working for less than 25 cents per hour. Echo’s “Sliding into the Abyss” series saw at least 300 hrs put into them. Thus far (and the first episode came out almost a year ago) – less than 20 cents per hour, probably closer to 15c/hr.

Time, and each sale over the days, weeks, months, and years will increase my hourly rate, of course. Right now, however, it’s pretty depressing – and if there is one thing I don’t need in my life, it’s more depression.

“A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

Now, that’s depressing. I’ve made too many promises. I’m in hock up to my ears. But I’ll make one more. I have 8-10 Delta stories floating around unpublished. I’ll start work on them to bring them up to my standards and publish them in an anthology. Delta has sold 44 books so far this year. Probably my own fault as I haven’t published a Delta book for a long time. Still… Is it worth it?

“A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

And the worst of those are the ones you make to yourself. They are the ones you most need to keep. My promise to myself was to write things that meant something, to have a purpose behind them. It’s getting hard.

Delta.

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Echo Chambers’ books

Delta’s Books