Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Making It

It looks as though I've made it to the top.  How do I know this?  I've been ravaged by pirates!  Aarrgh!

Unfortunately not the parrot-supporting, peg-legged sort, or the eye patch and swaggering variety, or even just the sailing-swashbuckling kind.  The boring, thefty kind that thought enough of my erotica to throw it up to share with their fellows, or perhaps to use it to lure unsuspecting downloaders into d.l.'ing a virus.  I'm talking now about torrent sites.

I won't link to it here because I don't want to seem to be advocating the theft of my work, exactly.  I need the money I make from writing, although I'd still write if I didn't, but I'm not a wealthy bestselling author here.  I don't clip coupons but it's out of laziness rather than an excess of funds.  I eat beans and rice more than once a week and it ain't because I'm from Louisiana.*  Downloading my work for free rather than buying a copy is theft from me and from Amazon, although I dare say they can afford it more than I can.


I don't really care.

You heard me.

The thing is, most good people don't use torrent sites, or if they do, they use them for one or two specific things and then sort of forget they're there, because they're illegal and with every download you're taking a chance on what you're getting along with that episode of Game of Thrones.**  And I believe most people are law-abiding and basically good.  Say, ninety-five percent of people.  That natural goodness is the reason I started publishing DRM-free last year, after I gave up my Sony Reader for a Kindle and discovered that the legally-purchased and rather expensive books I'd already paid to read were unreadable on my new device.  I decided not to force anyone to re-purchase (optimism) or just delete (realism) my work when swapping old devices for new ones, and subsequent publications have been DRM free and will continue to be that way (I also ALWAYS enable lending, because I'm a pip).

Let's face it, the people who use torrents all the time weren't going to pay for my book, or that cracked copy of Photoshop, or the last Twilight movie,*** anyway.  They use torrents because they don't want to pay for their media.  They don't give crap one about missed royalties, or the rights of the artist, or whether I can feed my imaginary blood hound this week.****  Which is fine.  Honestly I think pirated media is kinda low on the list of Bad Things People Do To Each Other.  I'm much more worried about genocide, and serial killers, and dicks who don't put their shopping carts in the cart returns when they've finished loading groceries into the car.

So to sum up, don't use torrents.  You could get a virus.  Also it's illegal.  But if you do use torrents, grab a copy of my book and let me know how you liked it.

*Red beans and rice is like my second favorite dish.  I'd eat it all the time even if it weren't practically free to make.

**Downloading GoT eps is understandable and even forgivable.  If HBO didn't have their butts so tightly puckered they'd put up their own download site so we could pay a fee to watch it without a big expensive cable package.  Who can afford cable in this economy?

***Not deserving of jail time, but absolutely deserving of a virus.

****I can always afford to feed my imaginary blood hound.  His imaginary kibble costs next to nothing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Writer Friends

I love making new writer friends.  Not necessarily new writers, but new friends who write who also know what they're about, who can already craft a sentence that doesn't make my head hurt, who can set a scene and make me feel it, who can make me want to read the next page.  I love meeting these people because we have interesting things to discuss, and I can skip over the usual suggestions of what books to read to learn how to write, how to make yourself finish something, how writer's block is just an excuse to be lazy, IMHO.  These were hard lessons and it took me years to learn them, and I don't have time anymore to teach the new kids everything they need to know about how to write.  You learn to write on your own.  It's the business you have to ask about.

One such new friend is Mitch Jehnsen.  Mitch is a great writer and I've been chatting with him for quite a while in emails.  He hails from Literotica, a site I joined briefly last year when I began to self-publish my dirty little scratchings.  It turned out to not be my cup of tea (too many pervy private messages when I was only there about the writing) but it worked out for Mitch, and he flourished there, and created a wonderfully erotic series which he's since published for the Kindle.

So check him out, you won't regret it.  I expect big things from Mitch in the future.  He's definitely one to watch.

Mitch Jehnsen on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Post

I wrote a guest post for Dr. Ann Nyland at Indie Book Writing about the Paypal censorship of erotica.  Have a peek!


Saturday, February 18, 2012


Not too long ago I put a short erotica story, Fire, up on Barnes and for free as an ongoing promotion.  This has been fairly successful as my sales on Barnes and Noble have increased a bit, which is what a free promotion is for of course.

Every self-published writer I know reads their reviews and probably takes them too seriously.  The new guys might as well wear screaming neon suits, they're always devastated by a one star review, always looking for a reason to give up because writers may seem like egomaniacs, but in the end we're all children looking for a pat on the head from Mommy, or Daddy, or fat Uncle Brian.  Whenever I get a poor review, if I find it particularly cutting, I cheer myself up by scanning the good reviews for the same title because if someone hated it, someone else almost always loved it.  If that doesn't work I go look at Selena Kitt's reviews and remind myself that it doesn't take five stars to tell a good story or sell well.  Different work resonates with different people, especially in a genre like erotica, which can involve very specific kinks and fetishes.

So I noticed right away when Fire began to garner some odd customer reviews on Barnes and Noble.  On December 24th, 2011 I discovered a five star review titled Flameestar to auquaclan (sic).  The text of the review reads, "Greetings, im leader of blazeclan (flamecolored shecat with long fur asnd sky blue eyes) i want to welcome u to the f9reest. My camp is the first result for 'narnia'. If ur clan needs help settling in, ask f9r flamestar. Starclan guide u."

Since it was a five star review, unsolicited, I let it be.  Hey, I've had a two star review left by someone who said in the review they didn't read my story because they don't read stuff like this.  I figured turnabout was fair play.  Ok internet crazies, I'll take your five stars as payback.

Then I had another review on the 24th titled Deputy, "My name is aquastar may i be deputy"

Then three more the next day, then seven more in the next four days.  I'm up to a total of sixteen reviews ranging from one to five stars that seem to be from people pretending to be some type of cat clan who communicate with each other in the review sections of Barnes and Noble's Nook books.

Do a search for Earth, you'll see Earth by David Brin.  His review section has ten messages from RPers.  You'll also see Earth-Born Lord by Brenna Lyons, also riddled with messages about things such as seeking mates, other search terms to use in order to find more cat clan members, and calls to arms over pretend assassination attempts and imaginary cat wars.

Here are a few more titles I found riddled with clan reviews: Aqua Erotica by Agor Singh, The Cyber Mermaid by Jane Air, Dracula Refanged by Brandy Stoker, and the grand master gathering place seems to be Tartarus by Edward M. Grant, nineteen out of the twenty reviews on the first page alone are these RPers playing their game on the back of someone else's hard work.  They seem to be targeting indie titles, and seem somewhat attracted to erotica as a genre, perhaps because of the high percentage of indie versus traditionally published titles.  I didn't follow all the suggested searches to find other titles affected (they instruct each other how to find other places to message) but it seems like a relatively new phenomenon on B&N's site.

After it became a nuisance, I marked the offending reviews on my title as not helpful, and sent Pubit an email. Pubit informed me they no longer address customer review issues, that I would have to contact customer service.  An email to customer service gained me the following email:

Dear Valued Customer:
Thanks for contacting us. We are experiencing unusually high email
volume, and want to assure you that your concerns are always very
important to us.

If you have a question about the status of your order, please check the
information we provide on your online account. You can check order
status, modify orders, and manage many other aspects of your account in this area.

Just follow this link to access your account:

If you have more urgent questions, you invite you to chat with one of
our agents by clicking on this link:

The best time to join us is Sunday through Saturday 1:00PM-4:00PM ET.

Thanks again for your patience and loyalty during this busy time.

-- The Customer Service Team at

An email that actually says they're too busy performing customer service to help me with my customer service request.  At my request a friend and fellow author also submitted an email for me, reported the offending reviews, and went into the suggested chat, where they found a bot auto-responding with FAQ topics.  Unhelpful, to say the least.

This entire situation only adds to the impression of self-publishing as hackneyed, thrown-together crap hurried onto any site that will have it without a thought to professionalism or presentation.  It makes my work look bad.  It makes Barnes and Noble's site look bad.  Their lack of attention to the problem makes it seem as though they don't care what happens to the indie erotica authors once their work goes up as long as the dollars keep rolling in.  Erotica is a cash cow for all the big (and some not so big) ebook publishers, but it seems like no matter how much we bring in, they're more likely to treat us like factory farm animals than working professionals.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Too much!

Why do I still have to pay 12.99 for a Kindle release?  Who pays that much for ones and zeros?  I know people are paying it because the book I'm looking at--Charlaine Harris's latest--is #26 in Kindle.  If it were in hardcover I'd wait for the paperback to come out, or I'd buy a trade because they look nice on my shelf.  I hope the big publishers get on board with an ebook business model that isn't all about screwing the readers and authors.  Kindles have shown that if getting your hands on books is cheaper and easier, more people will read, and people will read more.  Which means that a lower price point will earn them a higher volume.  I'm officially not buying any ebook that costs more than $9.99, no matter how much I love the author or the story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If It Was Well Done Why Didn't You Buy It, or, Why I Went Indie

Erotica isn't my first genre, it wasn't my first love and it likely won't be my last in the world of words.  It's my current passion and the first time I've had any real success as an author thanks to Amazon and indie publishing.  I've slogged through different genres in the last sixteen years or so since I started including a SASE in with my double-spaced, Courier font-ed heart's work and mailing it off to editors around the globe.  My first submission at a tender age was a second read and was rejected with a handwritten note, 'well done!'.  Huh, I thought, if it was well done, why didn't you buy it?  Little did I know that thought would define my entire career in traditional publishing.

I spent the next *ahem* many years trying to crack every professional market I came across.  Second reads, 'you almost had us', almost always personalized rejections.  I readjusted my expectations--something I excel at--and began hitting the semi-professional-but-still-respectable markets and lo!  A sale!  Ten dollars for a fairly short story.  Then a year later, holy crap!  Another sale!  A hundred dollars this time, and they paid on time and the check didn't bounce, and the editor said my story gave her shivers.  I was riding high.  I'd made it!  This was going to be the turning point and I was soon about to be the darling of the writing world, a shining star at every convention, someone they spoke of when they talked of up-and-comers and rising talent.

That was something like seven years ago.  The magazine was online only and was gone shortly after my story went up.  I had another story accepted by a semi-pro across the pond, but it folded before they could print me.  Then it happened again on my home turf.  Then a good friend edited an anthology for pro rates and I sent him my best piece, and even he rejected me, although later he said he wished he'd put me in, that his partner didn't think my story fit.  Then I submitted to another across-the-pond professional magazine and after a six-month-wait they responded with a request for a rewrite.  Score!  I rewrote the story to their specs and sat on my hands for the next year while they took their sweet fucking time getting back to me to let me know I was accepted, I would be in the next issue.  I don't think I breathed for the next three months while I waited for the quarterly magazine to come out.  Then it did and I wasn't in it.  I wrote to the editor, always polite, me, always begging please sir, may I have some more?  She informed me that my story was a filler piece for when she needed something to fill in space and she was just going to hold onto it until an issue appeared where she needed it.  Naturally this was a pay-upon-publication market, as most of them are. Also naturally, they folded after one more issue, making my wait from submission to market disappearing more than two years with no check.

Six months ago or so I submitted a very short piece online to a respectable editor, in an online forum that allowed everyone to see all the submissions.  I read all the other submissions and ten percent of them were better than mine, much better.  Lucky for me they needed fifteen or eighteen percent of the pieces, so I felt like I was a shoo-in.  Naturally.  Naturally.

Pieces weren't accepted based on any standard of quality I could suss out, they were merely hit and miss, this one for its weirdness, this one for a unique subject.  I said fuck this, finally and completely, fuck this I'm done. I began to work on a novel because I can't not write, the idea of quitting entirely gives me the wiggins, to quote my favorite Slayer, but the writing was the important part now, I'll have a dozen finished novels in a drawer when I die but I'll have written them because I said I would.  Try try again, but books this time.

Then I read an article about indie writing, something I've always been against because I felt that without quality control the written word in the form of story is devalued, which in retrospect is hilarious, because none of those editors wrote to tell me what a shitty job I'd done.  I write very well.  Some of my stories are quite good.  They get rejected for minor things, because twenty of us submitters wrote good stories that month and were put ahead of the hundred poorly-written pieces, but we didn't get in because the top two were unbelievably good stories and three were great stories and they only needed five that month, or because someone in the slush knew the editor, or because the editor had a theme in mind and our pieces didn't fit, or because they needed something with a thousand extra words, or they don't like stories with cars.  Some editors will argue this isn't the case, but I've been on that end of it too, and it absolutely is.  I've had friends on that side of it and OF COURSE it absolutely is.  There are a lot of people in the world, and some of them use their advantages to get ahead, and you would too if you had an in, we all would.  Sometimes that advantage is crazy good talent, sometimes it's other things.

I have a toolbox, just like Stephen King said I did.  I open it and root around for the best tools, and I better myself by working hard and writing something of a higher quality than what I wrote last week.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a genius writer, but I'm a solid writer, a good writer.  I can put together a moving story to entertain my readers, and it will be better than a lot of what they read elsewhere, and it won't be as good as a few, but I'm ok with that.  Because thanks to a change of heart with regard to indie publishing, now it'll be read.  People will buy it and most will like it, and some won't, but I won't be wasting any more words on themed anthologies with vague-but-rude guidelines expecting me to work my ass off without getting paid so they can tell me no thanks six months down the road.  I'm done with please, sir, can I have some more of your rejection slips with half-thought-out notes about how to improve a story that was fine as it was.

I don't have to ask, If it was well done why didn't you buy it? anymore.  Because now I've given them the opportunity to buy it, they do.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My bucket list

In no particular order...

1. Be an extra in a movie.  Preferably some kind of zombie or monster, or possibly just a dead body.  Loads of blood would be awesome.

2. Go diving with sharks.

3. Climb a mountain.  Not Everest or anything, a small mountain would be good, I don't want frostbite or elevation sickness.

4. Publish a novel through a traditional publisher.  I know, I'm an indie, but it's been a long-term goal for so long I can't give it up.  It doesn't have to sell well, and I don't have to have a million dollar multiple-book contract, just the one so long as it's print and through a real publisher.

5. Finally take a yoga class.

6. Have sex in a coat-check during business hours.

7. Stand under a blooming sakura tree in Japan.

8. Paint something worthy of fine gallery space.  (I've had a show, but not in a fine gallery)

9. Make a good friend on every continent.

10. Sell a million ebooks.

Anyone else?