Friday, February 27, 2015

Split Personalities

So I've been doing a lot of reading on Reddit (as well as banging out the next Janus Key Chronicle, more on that at the end) about writing erotica. It seems as though I underestimated the number of titles I'll need to see "real" results... the estimate is about twenty. Yipes, that's a lot of titles to have under your belt. I mean... even at the minimum of 5K words apiece that's 100K words. Even if I could bang out that much that fast--I have to have some inspiration, folks!--there's no way Jotham could or would do twenty covers in a month. He's not quite freaking out that I'm almost done with the next Chronicle. I figure aiming for one a week or, at worst, one every two weeks is within reason for me. I can write faster--no problem there--but there's so much else I want to do that I get distracted from banging out shorts.

For instance, I thought of another serial I could do about the adventures of a virtual reality gamer in an MMO. I have enough experience with MMO's to do this easily, and with VR... well, you can get some freaky shit going on there that is completely not real. You could even have a game that's based on nothing but sexing. There are a ton of games like that already. Would there be a cohesive plot? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it'll just be a chance to set story aside, write some smutty, filthy piece, publish it, and move on. I also had an idea based loosely on a character of mine from an MMO... which there will be more on that later. Anyway, the whole idea is a really damn dark erotica because this character of mine was a sociopath, and it was in a superhero MMO, so there's a modern setting I haven't seen used too much in erotica yet. But hey, super heroes are big now, right? I also have a semi-serious erotica which is a retelling of a... well, more on that later, since that one will be freaking huge.

Now, if I were any other erotica author, I'd create a new pen name for each of these ideas. I don't get why because there's also a lot of talk about building an audience and getting titles under your name. To me, that seems counterproductive (unless you're mirroring, but that's another post which I will get to at some point). I mean, if people know my writing style... and let's face it, first we had butt-fucking raptor men, and now we're going to have gangbanging pixies, the Janus Key Chronicles are going to be a whole plethora of variety. I don't need to have a different pen name for writing gay smut as opposed to straight smut or BDSM compared to monster fetishes... it's all erotica to me. It's sort of like the idea that erotica and porn is different. To me, it's all the same.

That contradicting advice is a little confounding. Maybe it works for other authors, and maybe it's because they mirror a lot, which I am not doing. Heh, if I did, Jotham would have a fit for making cover after cover after cover. "Ok, now do one for Asian men. Ok, now African American women. Ok, now Hispanic men." He's having enough of a hissy right now with just designing my second one, which is probably going to leave me to designing some of the more "serious" erotica covers by myself if I keep up at this pace.

Update for the Janus Key Chronicles... I'm six thousand words into the next one, and I'm aiming for at least ten thousand words. If my calculations are correct, that will be about three thousand words of pure smut, and a thousand word denouement. This one focuses on Debbie (and gasp, I had a sex scene already with her! But it was plot development? Go fig.) It's entitled, and this is set in stone now, "Debbie Gudgeon and the Perils of the Penetrating Pixies." I even looked up macrophilia... it's a thing. Giantesses is a thing. Way to hit a fetish, me! Completely by accident too. I'm procrastinating a little by writing this blog post, but these words are easy to write... they flow out because it's just my thoughts being vomited up onto the virtual page. Ten minutes and that's it.

I really want to work on this other semi-serious erotica, which is already at fourteen thousand words, and I've barely scratched the surface.

Also, so far no sales or borrows. It makes me sad face, but according to all the data I've found, I can start looking forward to consistent sales at around the 20 story mark. If I don't get any, or very few, up until that point, I don't know if I can stick with it. We will see, ladies and gents. We will see.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's Alive! It's Alive!

Ooh, which I should do a Frankenstein's Monster one. Hm.

Anyway, the book is live! And will probably not sell worth a darn amongst the other erotica out there, but hey, I had a lot of fun with it, which was sort of the point. I got some practice writing too, and I have ideas flowing in the old brain pan again. All in all, so far I would call it a success. It would be even more of a success if people buy it, but... I think I've come to a compromise in my pricing conundrums. Like, ok, the standard for the erotica short industry seems to be $2.99. If I continue onward, I'll first promise to write as long as I can and try to hit at least 10,000 words per short, if not more. It's not a full length novel by any means, but at least it's not "3800 words of scintillating beaver erotica" or whatever, because yeah... yeah, authors put how many words are in the piece in the description. I wouldn't be proud of 3800 words myself. This first one--where I didn't know what I was doing--is over 8500. I don't know how many exactly anymore since I've made adjustments and additions to it, but it's definitely over 8500, which seems to be twice the length of most erotica shorts.

Secondly, as soon as I come out with my second story, I'm going to drop the first one down in price. I'll give that a try and see how it goes. Also, according to the guides I have read, you're supposed to bundle up like three of your stories into a bundle and put that on sale once you have three. I'm going to wait until I have five, then do the first five worlds, but once I hit ten, then I'll do the second five worlds, AND ALSO a Dirk 5 story pack AND a Debbie 5 story pack. In theory, I'll have fourteen published by only writing ten stories. But what I like the most about that is that if people are more interested in the dude, then they can just pick those up. If they are interested in the chick, they can pick those up. If they want the whole thing, then they can bundle it up and save money. I'm all for saving money!

Also, while I was writing this, some very kind soul (@LianahMorgan) retweeted my "It's live!" tweet... to 4500 followers. So, that's awesome! Maybe keeping up the blog and the tweeting won't be bad, plus it gives me an outlet to let out some of my thoughts which I really don't want family reading.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Now, We Wait...

The short's done, the cover's done, and now we just wait while it's in the "review" phase from Amazon. As I stated before, I decided to go with the $2.99 which seems so prevalent in the other erotica shorts. It just doesn't seem like it's fair to me. We'll see how it goes--this is an experiment--but I can't say I like it.

The cover--which you'll see below--is absolutely ridiculously awesome. I really couldn't have asked for better. Jotham and I went back and forth on the fonts, but in the end decided with a combination. My name is in a different font than the title, and the title is in a faux Indiana Jones font, complete with a similar shading in color. It really jumps out at you, which is what I wanted. It wanted it to grab people's attention and reel them in either for the racy quality or the tongue-in-cheek quality, because this is firmly written tongue-in-cheek. Honestly, I really had to stop after every paragraph during the sex scene because laughter was threatening. Laughter is not really conducive to desire, so I hope I got the racy part done alright.

Still working on a title for the next. I'm not sure how many "shorts" I'm going to give this serial to see if it'll actually work. Three? Four? Ten? It'll definitely concern Debbie and pixies, of that much I'm certain, and I thought of a few new rules too for how this whole world-jumping thing will work.

I do wonder if people will enjoy it. I mean, I hope they do. I want it to be successful, thus the reason why I actually had a professional do the cover art. It's not Jotham's fault if it's cheesy. It's exactly what I wanted.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cover Design HOOOOO!

And by that, I mean a Thundercats reference, not a prostitute.

Jotham is in works for designing the cover now. He's got most of it already designed, with a really great theme which can carry from serial to serial. After extensive research last night, I found a couple of suitable sites which I emailed (or otherwise contacted) and inquired just in case if it was OK to use their stock photos in erotica. I've gotten some yes's, and that was all I needed. There's also a helpful reddit link which has more information about stock covers and what restrictions are on certain sites. I can't help but to think that people might mean the more "traditional" erotica, but we'll see if any problems arise.

Once the cover is finished, it'll go through the review process with Amazon. I feel bad about charging $2.99 initially, but since it's an experiment we're going for it. After my research, it seems as though that's the going price for short erotica, which still seems like a rip-off to me. This attack of conscience is after I told Jotham I absolutely would not mirror (another post, likely later tonight since it's on my mind) because that really felt like ripping people off, while he phrased it as "expanding your market and catering to people's wants". Going back to the price, that price seems to have stabilized in the market. I actually read posts warning authors not to charge $0.99 because then people would see it as cheap and assholes would demand porn for free and leave bad reviews.

The other thing I'm vaguely worried about is the rules of Kindle Direct Publishing. From everything I've read on it, it seems arbitrary as to what's offensive and what's not. I mean, this short is entitled "Ass Rammed by Raptors" which is kinda explicit? But not really? It's not like there's going to be actual butt-fucking on the cover. IIRC, it'll be hot guy, raptor, background scene, title. That's about it. I trust Jotham to put something together that's funny. Oh, I should suggest to him to put a cop hat on the raptor (it relates to the story). When looking for a cover picture for the hot guy though, I found several with guys with their hands cuffed which would have been perfect... but KDP objects to people being bound on the cover... but upon further read, that seems to only apply to women. Just to be safe, I chose a picture which suggested the theme, but left the guy's hands actually free. I'm also vaguely worried about the title. Not only is there already a book called "Rammed by Raptors", but ... well, there's a book already called "Rammed by Raptors". It's pretty close.

And after a quick discussion with Jotham, I think we've decided to go with "Rump Raiding Raptor". There may be modifications to the cover because of this, since we finally decided how to do an introduction to indicate which of the characters the short is focusing on. Wish us luck!

What's the Difference Between Erotica and Pornography?

That's the question, isn't it? What is the difference, and why does it matter?

It matters to me because upon doing research for the upcoming book (yay!), Jotham pointed out to me that many places which sell stock photography won't allow their pictures to be used in pornography. Now, considering we've actually found pictures that were used for books like "Pounded by President Bigfoot" (which is right in our target group) on these stock photo sites to no obvious repercussions, it shouldn't matter. The thing is though... "Pounded by President Bigfoot" and the like really aren't erotica: they're pornography. It's written porn, but it's porn. Or is it?

When you say "erotica", it conjures up images of satin sheets, lit candles, and two bodies moving in and out of focus all steamy like, but not really seeing "the good stuff", right? Pornography would be the opposite, sexually speaking: two (or more) bodies moving together, showing everything from every angle in good lighting. Like... erotica is Cinemax late at night, and pornography is the Playboy channel. Some people say the difference is that erotica has a story, and porn doesn't. (I disagree with that, but that's a different post later on.) 

Here's the thing though: erotica is a synonym for pornography, and vice versa. Personally, I always thought "erotica" meant literary pornography. It was still porn... it was just written down and had no photos. A quote by someone famous says that pornography is erotica which is not to the taste of the person describing it. I think I like that definition the best. Why? Because it's all fucking subjective, that's why. It's all in the eye of the beholder. Everyone under the sun is going to have a different view of what is erotica and what is pornography. Some people say that erotica is only for women's brains, and porn is only for men's crotches. Others will say one has a story and the other doesn't. Some will say that porn is just pictures, erotica is writing.

My personal opinion? Porn is erotica. Erotica is porn. They both aim to get you off. You can dress it up as fancy as you like, or you can take it all off and show it proudly to the world, but the end result is orgasms. How's that bad again? (Setting aside arguments for exploitative works--I do not hold with that at all.) Oh yeah, I forgot; people are so damn repressed mentioning anything about porn will get you the angry and disgusted looks, "OH. You watch THAT?" Well, yes, yes I do. I happen to enjoy porn. I enjoy erotica. They're the same thing for me. It's kind of like... when I want action and adventure, I watch something actiony. When I want something funny, I watch a comedy. When I want romance, I watch a romance. When I want sexy fun feelings, I watch porn. (Or read, whichever.) So, yeah. They're the same.

That really doesn't help to find stock photography for the covers though. There are a couple of sites that cater for erotica, but I don't know how they would feel if they thought it was for butt-fucking raptor-men.

Friday, February 20, 2015

First Chronicle is Done!

Awright, so the first of the Janus Key Chronicles is done. Damn... that's just a fancy phrase for saying "gay dinosaur porn". Of course, not every part of the Chronicles is going to be dinosaurs, nor gay. I think what I'm most proud of is just setting a goal and finishing it. It came out to just over 8500 words, and I think does a good job of introducing the "rules" of the series, at least initially. As it goes on, it'll get more and more complex. Hopefully, it'll get better too.

After thinking long and hard about this, I decided to take the 70% royalties that KDPSelect offers for pricing things at a minimum of $2.99. This is just as an experiment, so we'll see how that goes. I am really sort of opposed to it in theory, but at least the word count is over 8500, so people will be getting more words than the normal short story blurbs.

 I've got the manuscript edited and ready to be uploaded, and gotten most of the tags in the publishing. All I have to do now is wait for Jotham to finish the cover art, and it'll be up! I think tomorrow or the day after it'll be submitted. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Raptors Wrote this Blog Post!

So, this is it, the grand experiment: writing smut for money.

Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing wrong with erotica in just about any form, so long as it conforms to the laws, of course. There's just a thing about trying to be a writer... you want to be known for your "real" work, whether it's historical fiction, horror, how-to manuals, whatever. How many people out there really want to be known that they write erotica? In my experience... not many.

At the same time, though, erotica's probably the most profitable market, unless you happen to be John Grisham or Stephen King. Unless you make it big, there's no way you can really make a living off of it. Sure, you can supplement your income while being creative, but it takes a special sort or a lucky break to make real money off of writing. There's a reason why starving artists are starving. It's not that they suck... it's a tough market, in any form.

Erotica, on the other hand, always sells. Sex sells, period. Even in a depression, porn is the only industry that actually makes more money. Year after year, more money. Why is that? I've read somewhere that it's because erotica is disposable, and that makes a certain amount of sense to me. You read or watch it or look at it, get off, and then you're done. You could read, watch, or look at it again, but it just won't be the same. The excitement of discovery is gone, the arousal caused by finding out what happens, even if it's only slightly different than a scenario you had seen before, is new. Hence, porn is disposable.

With the advent of self-publishing through PubIt and Kindle Direct Publishing, among other services, people now have a whole new range of literature available to them that they never had before. In addition to that, writers have the opportunity to put their stuff out there and grow an audience without having to audition with literary agents or publishing companies. Great deal, right? Well, the downside is that the writer has to do everything, and unless they invest a lot of time into promoting their stuff, odds are they still won't get noticed. Don't get me wrong--there are some real success stories out there. For the most part, though, some really good authors get unnoticed, and it's a shame. (Support indie authors, yo!)

Again, there's one market that grows: erotica. I know of a lot of good writers who just churn out vapid story after vapid story describing sex, and they get a fair wage for it. If they can build an audience, they can make a lot of money with little effort. People always want sex. So, here's an experiment. I am going to put in the minimal effort of promotion--minimal as in... not much. Maybe a facebook page, this blog (which is actually just a place for me to write thoughts about sex and whatnot without having my friends and family go 'oh, she's into that??', but it works for promotion!), an email address, and a twitter account, I do believe. I'll just write whatever story, have my husband make a cover, publish it, and see how it goes.

The thing is... what I'm finding is stupidly popular is monster and shifter erotica. Stuff like, "Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay". That's... just sort of horrifying, but upon further thought... who cares? It's a fantasy, right? It doesn't hurt anyone, and if people like it, why not? Fantasy sells. Sex sells. Let's remember that. However, I just can't write smut. I just can't do it. So, to make this experiment fun for me, I decided to write in a story and throw some facts in it that interest it. To this end, the husband and I came up with "The Janus Key Chronicles", which I'll delve more into later. The facts, well, who doesn't love science?

So, even though I'm going to be writing erotica, there's things in there that I love. It's a craft, and while I'm using a nom de plume, I'm not really embarrassed to say that I write this stuff. It's a market, a need, a desire, and people are going to fill it... even if it's with ass rampaging raptors.