‘C’ is for condoms, consent, coercion and conflict…

Over on my site, Tamsin’s Superotica, I’m doing the A to Z blogging challenge at the moment – which means a post per day through April, with time off for good behaviour on Sundays! So far, I’ve reached ‘C’, so I’m sharing it here.

One of the fun things about taking on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is deciding each day what the particular letter will stand for. ‘C’ is day that positively spoils the erotica writer for choice – I could have chosen cock, cunt, clit, cunnilingus, clamps, cuckolding, cum, climax…there’s an endless list of dirty ‘C’ words and I could have written a post or found a story excerpt based on any of them. But instead, I’ve chose to return to one of my pet themes – the expectation that some, not all, readers have that erotica writers should write ‘responsibly.’ By which I mean, my characters should always use condoms and practice safe sex. That they should always secure consent for any sexual act. Coercion – not allowed. Cheating – another big no-no. In short, anything that might create conflict in stories that are by their nature highly sexual should be avoided or at the very least, come with a warning and a major comeuppance for the perpetrator.

Fuck that!

You may have read my previous posts on this issue. So why do I feel the need to revisit it?

Before I started writing erotica, some four or so years ago, I hadn’t really read any erotica. And even now, I don’t read a lot of it – too much like a busman’s holiday. But naturally, I read some, for research purposes and to see what writers I adore have been writing. Last week, for the first time ever, I stumbled across what I can only describe as a ‘safe sex disclaimer’ at the front of a book I was reading for research. Seriously? This is what it said:

This is a work of erotic fantasy. In real life, please protect yourself and your lover by always practising safe sex.

I’m still open-mouthed today as I look at it on the first page. It was accompanied by another disclaimer stating that all the characters were over 18 and every act was consensual. To me, these warnings and disclaimers are unnecessary and strange on so many levels.

  • Who needs a health warning on a work of fiction? Could someone mistake it for a ‘how-to’ guide? I’m afraid if a reader is still at the level of being unable to distinguish fact from fiction that means they’re a child – and children shouldn’t be reading these books. This is, after all, the most adult of genres.
  • Why a disclaimer stating that all the acts are consensual? Isn’t the writing clear enough for the reader to able to discern this for themselves? Or could this be a disingenuous attempt by the writer to position the work as some sort of pseudo-non-con?
  • I assume my readers don’t need this sort of mollycoddling – in which case, a disclaimer of this nature is horribly patronising. And frankly, if a reader wants to practise unsafe sex, that’s their choice and as an erotica writer, I don’t feel myself in a position to lecture them about it. Furthermore, if I wrote a scene in which my characters behaved in a dubious manner, it would not make me in anyway responsible for anything dubious a reader might do. After all, we don’t feel it necessary to exhort the readers of crime fiction not to go out and rob, torture or murder people.

So why did the writer feel that they needed to include such disclaimers? To cover themselves in the face of reader criticism, perhaps? I’ve been called out for having characters not use condoms, for being coercive, for smoking cigarettes (though amazingly not yet for alcohol consumption), and strangest of all, one reviewer complained about a character giving another character Advil – because it has some very dangerous side effects!

6813717_sPerhaps I should include disclaimers to keep my readers totally safe – if you read Alchemy xii, you will come across characters who go outside in the snow in February stark naked (don’t try this at home, you might catch pneumonia), travel in cars without seatbelts (don’t do this in case you’re involved in an accident), carry a penknife (just don’t!), eat steak tartare (please don’t eat raw meat after reading this), have multiple piercings (don’t try to do these yourself – if you want a piercing make sure you go to someone licensed), drink alcohol (please drink responsibly within the recommended limits), go hiking without a map (oh no!), bare knuckle box (you could sustain a nasty injury), practise shibari (don’t tie ropes around anyone’s neck, don’t tie the ropes too tight, and actually get some instruction before even attempting it), swear (that’s not nice), lie (also not nice)…I could go on, but you get the picture.

I could write a story in which no disclaimers were necessary. A woman could meet a man (both above the age of consent, naturally) and they could fall in love and have safe sex. End of story. Nothing dangerous, no conflict, no bad behaviour by any character. Everything would be wonderful.

But I won’t write that story – no conflict equates with not plot. (And most of my stories are heavily plot driven.) In fact, the more often I’m confronted with this issue, the more indignant I become. And the more inclined I am to have my characters do anything I want them to do without censure. As I said earlier, this is a grown up genre and I want to write adult stories with adult themes and flawed characters. And I will.

(Though please don’t think I’m suggesting that readers should be thrown unaware into scenarios that may be triggers for them. It’s just that the book blurb should do it’s job and make the nature of the story perfectly clear without the need for warnings and disclaimers inside.)

For other genres, none of this is an issue. So it shouldn’t be for erotica. Fiction is fiction and we should be able to write whatever the hell we like. If you want safe, go back to reading children’s literature – may I suggest the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen?

Ready for a little hotwife/cuckoldry?

Cuckold
noun: a man whose wife has committed adultery, often regarded as an object of scorn

More specifically, in erotic fiction, cuckoldry stories are a sub-genre of BDSM fiction. The wife is the dominant partner, exploring her sexuality; her husband is sexually inadequate, humiliated by his wife’s adulterous adventures with far better able and equipped partners.

And he likes it ;)

A variation on this is the hotwife story, where the sexual humiliation angle is far less prominent: the wife explores, and the husband gets off on her adventures rather than his own humiliation.

So what’s so hot about your partner screwing around? For the cuckold it’s a very psychological thing: it really is a form of BDSM where the wife’s exploits take the place of the paddle and handcuffs.

And for the husband of the hotwife, well, in some cases it can actually be a sub-genre of romance: a woman is liberated, while a man puts his partner and her happiness at the center of his sexual fantasies, made all the more intense by the fact that these fantasies are being acted out.

Or maybe there are other reasons.

But at the bottom line, these stories are hot, and here are some recent examples.

Cuckolded in Space by Victoria Kasari
They demanded my wife get pregnant…by any means necessary! I was prepared to do anything to get myself and my gorgeous blonde wife off the overcrowded Earth and to the colony on Mars–even lie about the fact I was infertile. But when my lies were uncovered, we were told we’d have to return home…or agree to my wife getting pregnant by another man. And not just any man. Leon, the muscled black hunk she’d been flirting with. He’d take her hard, without protection…and right in front of me. He’d give her the children I couldn’t…and I could do was watch.
Amazon USAmazon UK

Wide Load Coming: Bareback with the Trucker by Katie Cramer
“It’s not cheating if my husband wants it, too.” Every three weeks, Alec makes the long and dangerous trip to Lightpoint Research Facility to drop off essential supplies for Professor John Coleman and his devastatingly beautiful wife, Tanya. But this time is different. This time, Alec’s services are needed for a different reason… The gorgeous Tanya wants Alec inside her, bareback and unprotected. Her husband, ready to become a cuckold, will be watching on CCTV the whole time…as long as Alec agrees to satisfy his wife in ways the Professor can’t. Asked to become their bull, Alec faces a moral dilemma. But Tanya knows exactly what she wants and is almost impossible to resist…
Amazon USAmazon UK

Wide Load Reversing: Bareback with the Trucker 2 by Katie Cramer
Tanya has been changed forever after letting her husband watch her with another man. Eager to repeat the experience, she prepares for Alec’s return. But this time he’s bringing someone else with him… “His need to see me satisfied, to be so jealous of what he can’t achieve, is so degrading…so humiliating.” Both Alec and his colleague Joe make the dangerous trip to Lightpoint to deliver essential supplies. When they get there, they realize their truck is carrying precious cargo…something Tanya has arranged to ensure the three of them will experience something her husband could never hope to compete with… “Our marriage will never be like it was. Never.” An erotic romance featuring an alternative but loving relationship, this short story features two alpha males and a married couple experimenting in mature fantasies, lifestyles and situations.
Amazon USAmazon UK

My Nearly Man: Confessions of a BBW Hotwife #1My Nearly Man: Confessions of a BBW Hotwife #1 by Sadie Somerton
I’ve often talked with my husband about me sleeping with other men. It turns him on, and that turns me on. But I’d never converted that fantasy into reality. Not until last night… Last night I hooked up with my nearly man, Bradley. Way back we’d kissed, we’d flirted, but we’d never gone beyond that. But last night? Last night it all became very real… A steamy and very explicit story of cuckoldry, exploration and rekindling old flames.
Amazon USAmazon UK

 

STEPping Out: Amazon’s Familiar Double Standard. Again. Still.

Five months ago, I did a blog post about Stepbrother Dearest – the first stepbrother book that broke the pseudoincest barrier, pushing into romance. At the time, I lamented the fact that as an erotica author, Amazon wouldn’t allow me to use the word “stepbrother.” Not in my title, not in my blurb, not anywhere (except maybe inside the book, where it wasn’t searchable) that might warn a reader that they were about to read something about “pseudoincest” (i.e. a relationship between non-biological family members). But Penelope Ward was allowed to use the word “STEPBROTHER” in her mainstream, new adult romance novel about (wait for it) pseudoincest. With that decision, Amazon took its double standard to a whole new level.

Since Ms. Ward’s use of STEPBROTHER in her title, Amazon has seen a huge influx of Stepbrother titles in romance. Here’s the interesting thing–Amazon still won’t let erotica authors use any reference to relationships in their titles. We are still calling daughters “little brats” and fathers “the man of the house.” Granted, they seem to have backed off a little on some terms. We can use the word babysitter now, although the word “virgin” can still get you in trouble. Erotica authors are using the “first time” euphemism instead.

If nothing else, Amazon has forced erotica authors to adapt.

Well, they’ve adapted again. There has been a large rash of STEPBROTHER titles appearing on Amazon written by erotica writers. But they’re not appearing in erotica. They’re showing up in romance. Some of them belong there–no reason an erotica author can’t write a romance, right? Of course not. As long as it’s a romance, I see no problem with it. It’s a current loophole, and if Amazon’s going to leave one, authors are going to walk through it until a wall is put up. That’s been proven in this business over and over again.

The problem is, there have been a few cases where a “stepbrother” title has been banned/blocked. If an author misjudges the market and accidentally puts their book into the “erotica” category instead of romance, they risk getting the book blocked. In erotica, STEPBROTHER or ANY family reference is still taboo. (Ironically, the word “taboo” is just fine though!) But you can put it in ROMANCE with the words STEP, STEPBROTHER or STEPSISTER. So far, Daddies and Mommies or variations thereof, are still out. But, authors can get away with a lot more in romance in general. If an erotica author tried to publish a book called PRICK it would get ADULT filtered faster than you could say “Put a condom on that!” But in Romance? It hit Amazon’s top ten.

Isn’t it ironic? The place where you’d expect all the dirty words, we’re not allowed to use them. At least, on the outside. While the romance authors get to write about cocks in their blurbs and put half-naked people on their covers and write about pseudoincest all they like – as long as they give their characters a happy ever after, of course.

I realize a lot of authors are jumping through this loophole, hoping to cash in on the “pseudoincest-romance” craze, like they jumped on the motorcycle club bandwagon, the shifter bandwagon, the billionaire bandwagon, etc. And I don’t blame them. Amazon opened the door and practically invited them in to this one.

The problem is, Amazon can slam that door too. So while I’m not above jumping through this loophole myself–I’ve just started a series of books called “Stepbrother Studs”–I want to caution writers. Especially erotica writers, who are jumping on this trend. Tread carefully. Watch your blurbs, watch your covers, watch your titles, and pay attention to the market. If you’re putting books in romance, please make sure they fit the genre.

Otherwise, you may find out just how hard Amazon can slam a door that was previously wide open. And how much that hurts. Right in the pocketbook. Ouch!

Believe me, I’ve been there and done that, and it’s not fun. So make hay while the sun shines, why not? But let’s not keep pushing the boundaries until Jeff Bozos decides to stop clowning around and pick up the whip again to force authors back in line. That’s only gonna hurt everyone, in the long run.

So, to sum up, if you’re writing step-romance:

1. Make sure it’s a romance.

2. Put it in ROMANCE, not erotica, if it has a “Step” in title. (and see rule 1)

3. If it’s not a romance – if your characters aren’t falling in love (and no, adding ‘and they lived happily ever after’ at the end doesn’t make it a romance) don’t put it in romance. Readers are going to be pissed and you’re going to risk your account when the book gets blocked. If you want to see what an stepsibling pseudoincest erotic romance reads like, there are three listed below that will be free for 24 hours (and available to be borrowed on Kindle Unlimited). Are they hot? Yep. Are they short? Relatively. Are they romances? I think so. Read them and judge for yoruself.

4. Watch your blurb, title and cover. Remember your audience. Romance readers like it dirty too, sometimes, and that’s fine, but pushing the boundaries too far may end up coming back to bite you. So just be smart.

I’ve got the first three in my new series out now. Free. If you want to take a look at them for what to do, go ahead. Covers are sexy guys (fits the genre), titles have “stepbrother” but they’re in romance. And while they’re not novels, they’re a good 8-10K in length, and they all have couples who are fighting their taboo attraction to one another, but ultimately give into it–and fall in love. In other words, they’re romances.

Check them out. Judge for yourself.

stepbrotherstudsaaronLARGE

FREE through 3/12/2015

STEPBROTHER STUDS: AARON

Melinda loves winning, especially when it means trouncing her arrogant stepbrother, Aaron.

He thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips, but the nineties called and it wants its catch phrase back, because as far as Melinda is concerned, he’s more like all that and a bag of dicks–at least, he is lately..

All her friends think he’s hot, but they don’t have to deal with his smug smirk or his giant ego. All they can talk about is his rumored, giant… something else.

So on their long train ride home for winter break through the Canadian mountains to Upper State New York, she decides to make a wager with her big-headed stepbrother, one she hopes that will settle the score between them, once and for all.

stepbrotherstudsbrianLARGE

STEPBROTHER STUDS: BRIAN

FREE through 3/12/2015

Jill’s parents aren’t home, it’s the middle of the hottest summer on record, and there’s a huge built-in swimming pool in the backyard.

Well, what would you do?

The only thing standing between her and the best party of the summer is her jerky older stepbrother, Brian. He says he’s trying “protect” her but he never lets her do anything fun! It looks like he’s going to be a party-pooper this time too, until the perv decides to give her what she wants—with one caveat.

Everyone who comes to the party, has to come naked.

Now the hottest party of the summer just got hotter, and Jill’s about to find out that she’s not too keen on the way all the other girls look at her sexy stepbrother. In fact, she’s starting to look at him in an entirely different light herself…

stepbrotherstudscameronLARGE

STEPBROTHER STUDS: CAMERON

FREE through 3/12/2015

Virginia hates him. Her stepbrother, Cameron is older, annoying, listens to crap music, borrows her stuff without asking, and teases the ever-loving life out of her.

She hates him when she finds out he’s taken her iPod again. She hates him even more when she finds out he’s been spying on her, and not only that, he’s been “sharing” his sexy discovery. And charging his friends admission!

She hates him while she’s plotting her revenge.

She hates him all the way up to the point that she can’t anymore. Because now, she’s falling for him–the one guy she knows she can’t have.

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com

Pow! It’s Shibari Girl!

A few days ago, I saw on Facebook that the wonderful Rose Caraway was going to be doing a reading at Writers with Drinks in San Francisco on Valentine’s night – and as always when there’s an event involving any of my erotica writing friends, I wished fervently that I could have been there too. What I didn’t realise at the time was that Rose was going to be reading from my story “Pow! It’s Shibari Girl!”, which appears in her anthology, The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.

After the event, I was delighted to see that Rose’s husband, Big Daddy, had videoed her reading and had posted it on You Tube. Hooray! I would get my chance to see Rose read, even if I couldn’t be there in person. So just imagine my absolute delight when I clicked play and discovered that it was actually my story Rose had chosen to read.

Have a listen – she reads it brilliantly! Absolutely slays it!

I don’t do readings myself – or at least I haven’t done one yet. So this was the first time I’d heard anyone reading one of my stories out loud in front of an audience. Of course, this means that I haven’t heard an audience reacting to one of my stories before – and I now know what a very special experience that is. “Pow! It’s Shibari Girl!” is a comic piece about a female superhero who captures villains and ties them up shibari-style. Rose read it amazingly and the audience laughed, sometimes uproariously, in all the right places.

It’s often pointed out that writing is a solitary business. I sit alone and agonise over my words – and then eventually I send them out into the world. I don’t get to see people reading them, so I never have any idea how they might be reacting, sentence by sentence. But this time, for the first time, I was privy to the audience’s response. And it was a great response – all that I could have wished for.

For me, that was pretty damn cool. So thanks, Rose. You rocked it!

 

 

Cliffhangers and romance

Earlier this month Tamsin wrote about serials with cliffhangers: TV serials often end an episode on a cliffhanger, but when it comes to books many readers dislike them. The commonest reason seems to be that the cliffhanger wasn’t expected, and you get to the “end” only to realize you might have several months or longer to wait until you can resume the story.

But as one commenter pointed out, if it’s clear you’re reading a serial from the outset, then perhaps things are different. I recently joined a Facebook group dedicated to fans of cliffhanger fiction, at least partly because I was about to publish a four-part serial, the first three installments of which end on cliffhangers.

My approach was to be clear from the outset: this is serial fiction, aimed at Kindle Unlimited (so readers signed up to KU can get each part for free), and while each part is a complete episode (just like those TV series), it’s part of a bigger story and may end on a cliffhanger.

It’s a difficult balance to strike. I don’t want to get too defensive about using a long-established storytelling technique, but at the same time I don’t want readers to be surprised by the approach.

Anyway… all four parts of the serial are out now, and the first one is picking up some great reviews, so I’m hoping I’ve got it right! It’s certainly been fun to work with a structure that is a bit different to my normal stories.


Published under my paranormal romance pen-name:

Dreamcaster by Ruby Fielding

Dreamcaster (A Fantasy Romance), Part one by Ruby FieldingI live in the ruins, my home city occupied by invaders from the north and my memory full of gaps.

I had thought I could survive out here beyond the city walls, but now the soldiers are hunting me down. My only escape is the man who comes to me in my dreams, Malachi. He seems to be looking out for me, protecting me. When I’m with him my heart lifts and I know that I am his.

But he’s not real… is he?

With his help, I’m starting to remember my past… but the secrets locked away there could get us both killed. Malachi tells me I’m special, that I have powers. But will that be enough to save us?

Dreamcaster: A story of romance, magic and brutality in a war-torn world where love lies in tatters and one woman may hold the key.

**Dreamcaster is published in the short serial format, with each of the four instalments available free via Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select**

Available from:

Cliffhangers – are they…

Cliffhangers – are they…

Did you click through to here to find out how that sentence ended? It is a bit of a cliffhanger… The full title of this post should read Cliffhangers – are they acceptable in book serials? As I’m in the throes of writing a 13-part serial, they’re something I’ve been giving a bit of thought to in recent weeks. Should I end each episode with a cliffhanger to tempt my readers back or should each month end with a degree of resolution?

18838131_sWhat exactly is a cliffhanger? According to Merriam-Webster Online, a cliff-hanger (they hyphenate it, while Wikipedia doesn’t!) is: a story, contest, or situation that is very exciting because what is going to happen next is not known. Wikipedia, meanwhile, identifies a cliffhanger as a plot device which leaves the protagonist in danger or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode. The purpose of the cliffhanger is, of course, to draw the reader or viewer (they’re richly utilised by television series) back for the next chunk of the story.

As far as I’m concerned, cliffhangers frustrate and delight in equal measure. Shock revelations and impending danger certainly excite. But then just as the hairs are rising on the back of one’s neck, the closing credits flash up on the screen or the reader’s confronted by the hideous little legend

To be continued…

What? I need to know what happens. I need to know now! Will she survive? Is he really going to confront his wife/mother/boss? WTF – she can’t be their lovechild!!!! And then the faithful reader/viewer is left high and dry for a week or a month or two with questions swirling through their mind and, if they really care about the character, a desperate need to find out…What. Happens. Next.

Personally, I think they’re harmless fun. But over the course of my not particularly long writing career, I’ve come to notice that the readers of serials seem to hate them. Passionately. Yes, they feel that strongly – I’ve even seen reviews in which readers vow not to read any more of a series simply because the writer’s had the audacity to wind up Book 1 or Book 2 on a cliffhanger. How very dare they?

But I have a little sympathy here, more so in the case of books than for TV serials. After all, with a TV series, you only have to wait a week. But with a book? You could left in limbo for six months or more. And that’s a hell of a time for some poor woman to teetering at the edge of the abyss. (Oh, but she’s the main character – we know she’s not going to die or the series couldn’t continue.) However, reading a full-length book or a novella that doesn’t end with some sort of satisfactory resolution – well, no one likes that.

subscription pack-page0001So what have I done with Alchemy xii? I’ve decided not to employ shameless cliffhangers at the end of each episode. I can’t see the point in frustrating and infuriating my readers, so most episodes finish whatever the episode has started in terms of current action. Of course, there’s an over-reaching arc – the relationship between Harry and Olivia and the question of will-she/won’t-she submit to him, will-she/won’t-she make it through training – but I don’t tend to leave her jeopardy. My hope is that the characters and the main story are compelling enough in themselves to bring readers back, month after month, for more – and I’m assuming that this will be a much more successful strategy than resorting to cheap tricks and leaving my heroine tied up and vulnerable at the end of each chapter.

What do you think? And if, as a writer, you have finished a book on a cliffhanger, how did your readers react?

 

 

 

Without a “Fantasy” Category, Erotic Ebooks Go All Over the Place

Categorization is a tricky business. It’s one of the reasons library science degrees exist. Anyone want to take bets on how many library science graduates Amazon employs right now?

There are probably a few tucked away in the corporate structure somewhere, actually, but they sure as heck aren’t working on the ebook erotica neck of the woods.

It’s not something I see as a huge obstacle to my sales, although ease of browsing certainly helps customers and sellers alike. But it’s a phenomenon I watch with no small amount of amusement as, for lack of an a dedicated “Fantasy” category, erotica ebooks with any trace of fantasy or supernatural themes go everywhere.

Pick a category and you’ll see some werewolves or dragons or vampires in there somewhere. “Action & Adventure” category? Alpha-shifters on the front page. BDSM? Several fantasy creatures in the Top 10, on both sides of the controlling/controlled coin. “Historical,” check (shifters again). “Humorous,” check (Werewolves, dinosaurs, tentacles, you name it.).

Interracial, heh, of course — probably not what the closet fans of “Made it with Mandingo” and “Ghetto Booty IV” were looking for, but you can’t deny that dragon-on-elf action fits the bill. Even the separate “African American” erotica category has its share of swashbuckling black swordsmen in fantasy worlds, the made-up geographies of which really call both the “African” and “American” descriptors into question.

This is not so much a cri de cooter for a dedicated Fantasy category in Amazon’s ebook erotica section as it is an amused observation — and a reason to bookmark your favorite authors’ webpages, subscribe to their newsletters, and otherwise stay up on what they’re publishing, rather than hoping to stumble across it as you browse your favorite genres, because you never know where stuff is going to end up. Often we don’t even know.

So yeah, I went there. Get on some mailing lists! We gotta make it easy for you, because Amazon won’t, and we all know how much you like those easy boys and girls.

How to Get Goodreads Reviews

Hey everyone,

So I was going to write today about the cost of sleep deprivation and how it hinders your ability to think or do anything creative, and further complain about the fact that I haven’t had a decent night sleep in months due to some coke addicts living above us, but then I read Tamsin’s great blog post on how to write a book review, and figured I’d do it from the other side as well.

How to get goodreads / amazon reviews.

This works best for Goodreads, as Goodreads gives you more avenues to reach the type of reviewers you want.

I started up a spreadsheet with the following info along the top:

  • Book
  • Goodreads Link
  • Reviews #

I was looking for books that had a lot of reviews, similar to mine.

After that, I gathered 10 book names that I thought were similar to mine.

You want to have an idea of what type of people you want to contact. Generally you want people who give good, interesting and thoughtful reviews, especially if they loved the book similar to yours.

Remember, you’re asking for honest reviews from strangers, so you want to try to ensure the best match for your book and not simply contact everyone who has reviewed the books you’ve chosen.

I then copy / paste the user’s URL to my spreadsheet.

You can only send a limited amount of new PMs in a 24 hour period, so using urlopener.com, I opened up the first 20 (I’m only able to send to 15, I don’t know if you get more for more established accounts).

Here’s a script you can use.

Subject: Free ARC: *Brief Description / Genre*

Body:

Hi there!

I’m Name, the author of a book I think you might like. I’m hoping you’d live to review with a free advanced review copy.

Elevator pitch of book.

I’m offering the book to you for free in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads and Amazon.

You can read more about the book here:

Cover Link

If you’re interested, please let me know your email address and what format you need (Formats)

Thank you so much,

Author Name

I then tracked it on another spreadsheet with:

  • Goodreads URL [With the URL I copied earlier]
  • Email [They provide]
  • Format [They provide]
  • Sent [Yes/No]
  • Reviewed [Yes/No]
  • Rating [Star Rating]

I colour coded the lines. Red means I sent the initial goodreads PM, yellow means they responded and wanted a review copy, black means they declined, and green means their review is posted.

I’d then send out the book to everyone that requested it via email.

Subject: Review Copy: Book Name [format (i.e. mobi)]

Hi there,

Thank you for offering to review a copy of Book. I will give you a quick email upon its release so you can post your review on Amazon if you like.

You can leave your review on Goodreads whenever you are finished.

Link to book on Goodreads.

Thank you for taking the time to read and review the copy of this book.

Author Name

I then follow that up with another PM to make sure they have received it and basically tried to be friendly and open up a more information and friendly dialogue. Just something personalize like:

“Hi Name!

Just wanted to make sure you received the book okay :)

Author Name.”

Using this process, I got about a 50% response rate! I’ve started this 2 weeks ago, and already 20% of the people I’ve contacted (42% of the people who responded) have left their review!

I also did posts in a couple groups (in the appropriate section for authors promotions, or ARCS), but only received 2 responses total which isn’t great considering I posted in 4 groups.

How about you guys? Readers, would you be flattered to be chosen? Authors, have you had success in this way?

Also! A bunch of friends have a new boxed set out this week if you want to check it out! Candy Quinn is one of the illustrious fifty authors, in the boxed set coming out in March :)

Shades of Domination

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How to write a book review

Have you ever wondered how to write a book review? Is there a right way and a wrong way—or is it simply up to you to splurge your feelings for the book onto the page? Personally, I hate writing book reviews. I’m always short of time and I never think I manage to do a book justice—in terms of time spent reading and rereading, analyzing and then composing my thoughts. A good book review will be able to convey to its reader something of the essence of the book, the intent of the writer, whether they have succeeded or failed in that intent and—ultimately—whether it’s going to be a book the reader will enjoy reading.

And I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit that I pretty much fail at this. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do too many reviews. Reviewing books is its own genre of writing and professional book reviewers possess a certain skill for it. That’s not to in any way invalidate all of the reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. As a writer, there’s nothing I appreciate more than when someone who has read one of my books takes the time to leave their response to it—and I and most other writers have had some wonderful reviews that leave us smiling for days after we receive them.

The flip side of that coin is the not so wonderful reviews that one occasionally stumbles across. Not because they say something bad about the book, or that the reviewer doesn’t like the book. As writers, we’re all fair game for that—no book is universally loved and everyone’s all entitled to their own opinions. No, what I’m referring to here are the sorts of reviews that don’t really tell us much, or anything, about the book. Or which fixate on one small aspect that seems to have completely colored the reading experience for a particular reader.

Man lighting upIf you remember my last column here, I was talking about a reader whose enjoyment of Alchemy xii had been marred by the fact that the characters didn’t practice safe sex. This week, another reviewer has expressed disgust that the main character smokes—a vile, suicidal habit. Fair enough, I understand people’s concerns in life about safe sex and smoking—but this is fiction. You can’t smell fictional cigarette smoke, so how much can it bother you? Would the reviewer have been happier if Harry had been smoking an electronic cigarette? As I’m writing a serial, I could have Harry give up smoking in the episode I’m working on, but I rather fear that by this point I’ve already lost the anti-smoking brigade. However, when it comes to the review I’d rather have known what she thought about the story or whether she found the sex hot…

But at least that reviewer had an opinion! A reader recently gave an anthology I’m in a three star review with the comment, ‘haven’t read much yet.‘ That’s not really a book review, is it? To be fair, I know exactly why this happened. Every time I buy something from Amazon, within a few days I receive an email asking me for a review. And usually, I haven’t read much yet, so I don’t bother. This reviewer was obviously just telling them the truth—but why didn’t he wait until he had read much and was in a position to give a genuine opinion?

Like I said, I’m pretty crap at reviews myself. So how should one go about writing a book review? With a bit of research, I’ve been able to pull together some useful tips.

  • Read the book. This obviously is essential and should go without saying. But I felt the need to say it anyway. Because I sometimes wonder if reviewers have actually read the book from the comments they make.
  • If you know you’re going to review it, take notes as you go along and highlight good and/or bad passages. That way you’ll be able to back up the comments you’re going to make.
  • Keep it honest—one reason why it’s not always a good idea to review books written by your friends or lovers or editors. There’s nothing more awkward than posting an honest review of a really bad book written by your partner.
  • Start by setting the scene. What genre is the book? What’s the basic premise of the story? Who are the protagonists? But don’t go in to too much detail. Don’t be mistaken by thinking a book review is simply a summary of the plot. And that’s all. Those reviews are less helpful than actually reading the book itself.
  • Don’t reveal spoilers. Unless you’re waging a vendetta against the author whose book you’re reviewing. (No, don’t even do it then!)
  • And saying ‘SPOILER ALERT’ won’t work. That makes everyone read it to find out what’s going to happen. And then they’re annoyed with themselves and even more annoyed with you.
  • But do say ‘SPOILER ALERT’ if you simply want to tempt more people to read your review. And you don’t care that they’ll hate you for it.
  • Discuss the things that worked for you—the plot, the writing, the characters, the humor… Are the settings well drawn? The people realistic? Is it believable? Does the narrative flow? Does a clear theme emerge over the course of the story? Does the hero make your panties wet/give you a hard on? Give reasons as to why you thought particular elements were strong. Site examples to support your opinions. Do your own life experiences give you any special insight into what the writer is talking about?
  • Mention any problem areas you identified. Were there holes in the plot? Did the characters behave inconsistently? Did you stumble across poor grammar or typos? Do you take issue with any particular scenes? For example, this is from a real one-star review of one my books: The book is mainly sex scenes. And who has anal sex for the first time in public on a hood of a car?!? Ridiculous!
    Monkies

    Okay – it’s not a sports car but I think they’re having anal!

    So, this reviewer could have gone into a little more detail. I’d like to know, is ‘mainly sex scenes’ a bad thing? In erotica? And what’s the problem with the anal sex on the hood of the car? Would it be better if it had been vaginal? Or is it that anal sex for the first time should be in a more appropriate setting? The car was a famous German sports car but perhaps another model would have made it more acceptable. We writers need detail, so we know where we’re going wrong!

  • Try to make your criticisms helpful to other readers. Not like this one: “bla bla bla off list.” It accompanied one star for an anthology—but what does it even mean?
  • Avoid making any criticisms into a personal attack on the writer—remember, they will probably have poured their heart into the work, not to mention many hours of work. And be aware of how relevant your criticisms will be to other readers—the fact that you hate cigarette smoking doesn’t make it a bad book.
  • Don’t be afraid to venture an opinion on the work, even if it’s not the same as the opinion of most other reviewers. It will make your review more interesting reading—but make sure you can justify your view.
  • Finish your review with a recommendation to read or not, or an indication of who might enjoy the book.
  • Review your review! Do you think it will be helpful to someone trying to decide whether to read the book or not?

237 readers found this review article helpful!

 

 

New Adult month

January has been something of a New Adult month, with new books from several fabulous NA authors, and a big prize draw to help promote them! (Scroll down for links to the draw.)

Titles include these:

Damage by PJ Adams

What happens when a girl who’s scared of being discarded meets a man scared that he won’t be able to discard her?

Holly’s family has lost almost everything and now she’s left holding what remains together: a rebellious sister, a grieving father who won’t admit anything is wrong, bills and debts Holly can barely keep on top of with her assorted part-time jobs… Juggling her responsibilities with college and an ex-boyfriend who wants to be more, life for Holly is anything but easy.

The mysterious new owner of the Hall would appear to have everything, but his dark, brooding presence suggests otherwise and rumors abound. Why would a man so wealthy shut himself away like that? How can a man who has everything already have lost even more?

And can love ever emerge from such damaged beginnings?

A passionate and intensely moving New Adult romance full of the twists and turns familiar to readers of PJ Adams’ work, including the bestsellers Winner Takes All and Black Widow.

PUBLISHED 20TH JANUARY: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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Trouble Makers by Emme RollinsTrouble Makers by Emme Rollins
When your best friend falls in love with a rock star, you either join her in her fixation, or you spend a lot of nights eating ice cream and watching Netflix by yourself. If you can’t beat them, join them, isn’t that what they say?

While Bree—my best friend since forever—couldn’t get enough of “Trouble” and their lead singer, Rob Burns, I set my sights a little lower – and to the left. Rob’s immediate left, that is, at least on stage. Tyler Cook was Trouble’s lead guitarist, a tall, glorious, dark blonde, beautiful specimen of a man who could make ovaries explode and panties drop with just one twist of that smirky smile of his.

Of course, it was all just in good fun, two girls going to Trouble concerts and screaming ourselves hoarse along with the rest of the fans. Bree’s fascination with Rob, and mine with Tyler, was a fun little fantasy, a distraction from our boring everyday lives, mine as a dental hygienist and Bree’s as an elementary school music teacher, until one day the “what-if” game Bree liked to play—and in, “what if we met Trouble some day?” and “What if they asked us to go on tour with them?”—actually happened.

Actually. Happened.

One minute we were going to see Trouble in concert, and the next, we were backstage, face-to-face with the real-live, sexy thing. I never expected to meet rock god Tyler Cook. I never expected to end up on a tour bus with sex god Tyler Cook. I certainly never expected to fall in love with the man, that beautiful, broken, wild man, or become so hooked I simply couldn’t give him up—no matter what it cost, or who I hurt, even myself.

Because sometimes you have to stop asking yourself, “What if?” Sometimes you have to find out what happens next.

OUT NOW: Amazon USAmazon UKBNApple

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Temptation Returns by Lisa CarlisleTemptation Returns by Lisa Carlisle
Antonio returns from the Marine Corps to begin a new life as a civilian. While visiting Cape Cod, he meets a strange woman who reads his Tarot cards. He doesn’t believe in such nonsense; after all, he’s a Marine. When he returns to Boston, he receives a ticket to a rock club where he runs into the one woman he never forgot.

Lina can’t believe Antonio is back in town, right before her wedding. Being around him again resurrects long-buried feelings. Will she be able to resist temptation in the form of a dark-haired Italian Marine, the same man who once broke her heart?

OUT NOW: Amazon USAmazon UK

 

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Acting Brave by Helena NewburyActing Brave by Helena Newbury
She’s spent her whole life acting. But can she make him believe she doesn’t love him?

Three years ago, a terrified girl named Emma fled a world of crime and abuse in Chicago and bought a one-way ticket to New York. She reinvented herself as an actress, enrolled at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy and buried her pain beneath a vivacious new persona. Her new name was Jasmine.

Now she has to pull off the performance of her career.

Landing her dream part in a police show, she finds herself falling for her co-star, Ryan, a real-life cop. If she lets him get too close, he’ll awaken memories she doesn’t want to face and uncover secrets that could endanger them both. But how can she keep a guy at arm’s length when she has to kiss him on camera?

The last place Ryan imagined himself was on a TV show. Blaming himself for the death of his partner, he’s on a downward spiral of rage and guilt. The show is his last chance…but how can he keep it professional when his co-star is a woman he’s crazy about?

As their on-screen and off-screen relationships merge, things go from hot to blistering. But when Jasmine’s old life catches up with her, will a cop be the one person she can’t be around…or the only person who can save her?

PUBLISHED 16TH JANUARY: Amazon USAmazon UK

 

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