Friday, June 26, 2015

Arrrgh! Here be Pirates!

LOL. Ok, so emboldened by running into that review on accident (gonna be on Cloud Nine for days and days), I did an active search for my stuff... and it's out there. On pirate sites. XD

Now, I know I've really made it.

No, seriously! That means that someone either borrowed or bought it, liked it so much or had requests for it that they put whatever books up on a pirate site. I ... ooh, I should check Pirate Bay! ... DAMN. Not on Pirate Bay. Oh well. But still!

What should I do about it? Fuck it. Nothing. Why? People who go there pretty much aren't gonna buy 'em anyway. Second, I would spend all my fucking time ever sending emails and getting snippy with people demanding to take them down, and hey, it's free advertising. Honestly, I'm just happy someone reads the shit I write. I don't have the time or energy to chase down freebies. I took DRM OFF my books for that very reason. They're gonna pirate 'em anyway, and spread my name out there and give me free reads. Shit, I give out half my books for free anyway from time to time, so what the fuck do I care?

Now, if I saw someone saying it was THEIRS, I would go into holy shitfit mode. That's MY FUCKING WORDS, bishes! However, I see my name credited properly on all the pirate stuff, so I'm chill with it. I hope they get a few good ones off! Oooh, maybe... maybe.... I should write about cyber pirates. Hrm...

Write What You Love or... HOLY SHIT I GOT A LEGIT REVIEW!

...not on Amazon or Goodreads though, and that's not to say that Reed's review of "The Shagging Tree" isn't legit (it was, I didn't ask for 5 stars, though I think he's probably generous to erotica writers... however going through his reviews he doesn't give out five often... also go read his other reviews. They are generally cool and fairly accurate from what I've seen!), but as I was tooling around the internet at work, I wanted to reread one of Alana's blog posts here, but strangely I couldn't remember the address. Feeling a bit dumb (and lazy, cause I could have just logged INTO the blogger site, but nooooo lazy), I Googled Alana Melos and something else. Like "blog" or something, I think.

So, tooling through the results I was getting (OH, I Googled "Pulp Erotica" and then added "Alana Melos" to it, that's what it was), I was getting irritated going, "Jeez, how many pulp erotica stuff is out there?" Then I started hitting up like the book sites, like Amazon and so on, and I hit upon a blog and clicked on it, thinking it was MY blog and I'd just go through the posts to the one I wanted to read that way.

It wasn't.

Holy mother fucking shitballs it wasn't.

It was an honest, actual, OMG review of Rump Raiding Raptors! Not only that, but they did Perils and Trillionaire too! For reference, here are the links:

Rump Raiding Raptors
The Perils of Penetrating Pixies
Trillionaire Living Spaceship Docked with my Ass

And I've read them all, squeeing the whole time. And yes, the exposition is a bit much in the first one. Yes, Debbie's a cunt bitch at times. And yeah, I should have had more spaceship action. I agree with them all, spot on.

Doesn't matter if it was bad or good. I don't care. I'm just thrilled that someone actually read them. Yes, yes, I know that yeah, I'm making SOME money at this, but to have actual confirmation that someone read them from beginning to finish and had enough of an opinion to post is fantastic. They could have said they were all the biggest pieces of crap ever and I would still be squeeing. However, much to my thrill, they were concrit... as in constructive criticism. Not only that, but for the most part, they seemed to enjoy them. Or at least enough to put positive in there with negative, which is fucking fantastic!

This all goes back to... write what you love. Like the first couple I wrote was Raptors and Pixies, Trillionaire close behind, and I really loved the idea of the JKC. It was pulpy and adventurous and weird and sexy and all sorts of things and I really got into some of them. (I really want the to review Knob Gobblin' Hobgoblins now!) Trillionaire... was sort of a dare to write something that silly, so of course I went a serious route and filled it mostly with bdsm suspension bondage. I wish I would have gone more silly with that. It was an alright write, but I couldn't wait to get back to the other stuff I was working on.

When you write what you love, it shows. It really does. People can tell. I know I was calling it in with the Cheri books, but I was so excited at first... then it just... went away. For other books, like Hunger of the Heart, I was into it the entire way. Of course, it wasn't a great seller and never will be, but I LOVED writing it. I even went through and edited it! (most of the smut I really don't, quick edits, but nothing major) That story had been brewing for years in my head, and I'm really proud of it. The JKC are so much fun to write. Dirk & Debbie have such different personalities... Dirk's actually more soft-spoken and studious, and Debbie's more of a go-getter, with a helping of bitch on the side. Both are really fun to get into their heads and write, but they are way different perspectives. Waaaaay different.

Rock possesses a weird place in my writing. I like his head. He's a good guy. But I suck at writing spy thrillers, so the action and spy stuff while very interesting, is really hard to write. Writing about myths is fascinating. I can't wait to finish my kitsune book (SOON, I know), and I'm going headfirst into my werewolf horrorotica here. I love some of these books. I won't say they're high art, cause they're really not, but they're fun, and I think some people who have read it have realized how fun they are for me.

Even the Dominating books... I'll fully admit I started them just to make money, but I enjoy the different variations of femdom I'm finding. Some are soft and light, some are harder, some are just "get down on the floor, bitch, and be prepared for my faux cock!". Hell, one's even from the sub's POV. (Though I think I'll keep those few and far between. Either that or start a new series with the malesub perspective) I'm throwing in some crazier stuff now, and I've a list of books I could write. I may... end it with 9, 3 bundles, and a megabundle. But I don't know. It's fun writing.

The thing about these reviews I read too... it makes me want to go back to fun. Fuck serious. My husband reminds me that this is about fun, and it is. It so is. Yeah, the couple hundred or whatever a month is nice (stupid basement!!) but it's about keeping myself awake and alert during a long night shift at work, and giggling stupidly over some phrase that I wrote which is just over the top, or a situation which is so unbelievable it crosses over into that... weird B movie awesome fun action. The next few JKC are planned out (I've been wanting to finish some series up first before moving on), and I will have to keep in mind how much fun I had writing the first ones. It's not serious. It can't be serious.

But just because they aren't serious doesn't mean they aren't sexy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ReTweet THIS!

Another blog post, so quickly? OMG PERISH THE THOUGHT!

This is a different aspect of what's going on in my publishing world, though, so bear with me.

Retweeting is a great tool for indie authors to get the word out. It is! It's awesome! I will not lie here; I've absolutely used it, and only rarely retweeted back. There's a couple reasons for this, which might portray me as being greedy or selfish, but whatever.

  1. I've only a handful of followers... who follow all the same people I pretty much do already, with a couple of exceptions. Most of my followers are other authors who already tweet their own work, often to the same circles I tweet to. Any more tweets, and it's just ... more chaos to the flow.
  2. I generally only tweet a book once or twice, then call it good. I don't spam. I don't enjoy spam, so I don't do it. I DID spam for a couple of days to see where the sweet spot would be for advertising so I COULD tweet a book once and call it good, and then just promptly tweeted whenever a book was out, no matter what time of day it was. I'm not exactly a good self-promoter. And I apologized profusely for all those tweets, cause I felt bad spamming. 
  3. I'm not on Twitter a lot. I check it once a day, if I remember. 
  4. The sheer amount of stuff that goes across my Twitter feed is incredible. Like... really incredible. There's simply no way I COULD retweet all of that unless I set up an auto-reTweeter, which I won't do. Even for the "duplicate" Tweets I have, I type them all out cause ... I'm not sure why, but I do.
  5. If I'm going to promote something, it's going to be something I've read and really fucking enjoyed. Promoting someone else's work is like putting your seal of approval on it, especially since it's coming from a person rather than a reTweet ring or something automated. I have so few reTweets because there's nothing I feel I can personally put a stamp of approval on... except for like... two. Two books I think. On Google plus I'm more than happy to share because that's an environment where repeat posts don't mean a whole lot but shares mean a fuckton, but on Twitter, it just gets lost in the spam. I would rather my word mean something than nothing. 
Don't give a shit if people call me selfish or whatever. That's not the point. If I had thousands of followers? Yeah, I'd probably be on Twitter more. I have... 33. I think. I'd probably be Tweeting a lot more. I'd probably be aces at self-promotion. I'm not though. I'm really, really not. I've set up a little corner, and I'm fine with it. I'm not a full time writer. This is a hobby, a side job, for me. My livelihood is not dependent on the money I bring in writing. I write other, non-erotica, things. I spend time with my husband and my friends. 

I really appreciate any reTweets I get, believe me I do, and I want to help out how I can... but again, most of the stuff that passes through my feed is already reTweeted to my same followers, or originated with them. I simply do not spend that much time online. Which is weird, now that I think on it, but I don't. That time I DO spend online is generally spent writing, because I write my stories in Google docs so I can go back and forth between work and home (when I get a free moment at work, that is) without wondering where I was. When I'm not writing, I'm researching about writing, or about what I'm writing about. 

If I became a full time writer? You bet I'd be more about the self-promotion and getting into groups and stuff! I would be all over that stuff! Sad truth is that I'm not, because it's a side thing for me. Writing is a side thing for a lot of authors, and they just don't have the time or resources to be all over it, nor have the money to hire a company or a publicist to do it for them. C'est la vie. Such is life.

Writers, We Be a Fickle Bunch

We writers are a fickle bunch. It doesn't matter if it's text books, porn, sci-fi, literary classics... doesn't matter. Writers, in general, tend to be... dramatic. And a bit over the top. Often alcoholics! (Hello, Hemingway!) This author I know had a bit of a meltdown, and it wasn't their first. That's fine. It happens. Shit happens. It had just never occurred to me in this day of being constantly connected to the internet that a lot of people's meltdowns are public. I mean, we can look at Anne Rice or Laurel K. Hamilton for famous author meltdowns, but how often do we all point and laugh at the kid having a tantrum over not being able to play his xbox? Or someone going batshit crazy in a drive-up window?

It really struck home that nothing's private anymore. I keep this face and my "real" face separate (WHY CAN'T I EVER SPELL THAT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME?!) for a reason. I'm also not political or religious on this face for a reason. I sell erotica. That's it. If things make things more sexy, then I promote it (like gay rights, come on now... having buttsex is a perfectly natural and ok thing to do, people!). If it doesn't, I don't. In my REAL life, I'm very opinionated on things but... I can be there. Here, I want a sexy environment which sometimes discusses the technical aspects of writing. I don't want to do anything to kill a buzz. Not only that, I really do want to help new writers find their way a little bit if they can. There's this other author who started just after I did, and we talk a lot. They're pretty supportive, and I'm supportive of them even though their kinks aren't mine and vice versa. They've given me ideas, and I don't know if I've done the same for them, I've read some of their work and offered feedback. I'm happy to do so! (at least if I can fit it into my busy schedule of working and looking at a blank page!) And yeah, some details I do post from my RL like the basement saga, but it's pretty generic RL details.

Authors should help each other, which includes emotional support. Because you know what? It's fucking hard. Yeah, I know I say I vomit things up on page sometimes, but it's still hard. I'm putting parts of myself out there. So is every other writer. Then we all wait for approval, and by approval I mean reviews and sales. But specifically sales. It's a self-done business, and it's fucking hard. Not only do you have to create when you oftentimes don't want to, but for independent authors, you have to figure out how to get a cover, market it, sell it, keep promoting, and so on. Not only that, but authors (artists in general but we're talking specifically authors here) open themselves up to criticism which they need to smile and take. In the more traditional publishing world? More stress, believe it or not. Maybe not when you make it big, but most authors aren't "big". They have deadlines. They have editors to appease. They have to cut books down or stretch them out to fill quotas or book layouts. They often don't have control over their own work.

It's no wonder why authors tend to be a crazy bunch. In this day and age, it's all going to be public. There's nothing private anymore. Everything is out there for anyone to view, day or night. I had been thinking about letting people I know IRL know about my pen name and vice versa, but I think this has quite convinced me to keep it separate.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Think I've Got a Fan

So yesterday, when I was going through my rankings obsessively (because honestly, should I be working at work? Pfft. I should be writing... which I did a little. Just dragging on this last Cheri story. Someone should flog me? Husband? Where are you?) I noticed that almost all of my books got a borrow except for Trillionaire and the JKC ones. A little confused, but happy for the ratings bump! Hell, even the romance story I wrote--ghuls get no love, I swear--got a borrow, and it ... well, I love the story myself, but obviously it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Now, mysterious fan, read them so I can get paid! Heh.

Seriously though, I have noticed that once a book that's part of a series gets borrowed, the next, then the next does too, so I actually think there's a couple people out there who are doing like I thought they'd do: readin' 'em for the stories, not just the sex. Of course, the Dominating series is all femdom, and unconnected, but I was meaning the scifi stuff or the JKC. I think that's groovy as hell. I like erotica, don't get me wrong, but I'm finding that just writing erotica for the erotica... leaves me flat. I have to have a story. I love cramming as much sex and dirty nastiness in there I can, but there's gotta be a story, a reason why, not just 'you're hot, let's fuck'. People can watch porn for that shit, yo.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Amazon Changes the Rules Again

So, if you're a part of a writing community which publishes on KDP, I'm sure you already know about the big controversy. If not, let me sum up real quick. Amazon has changed how Kindle Unlimited (hereafter KU) pays authors for their work. Instead of waiting for a borrower to read 10% of their book and then getting a set amount (which does change from month to month), Amazon will now pay authors a price per page. Some have said it might be as much as ten cents a page which is blatantly ridiculous, others have said it will be down to half a cent a page, which is just as ridiculous. We don't know what the price will be yet, but erotica short authors are up in arms over it, and freaking out.

Now, this affects my livelihood as well, so obviously I'm concerned about it. Considering my "books" average about 10-11K a book (some are shorter, some are longer), we'll go with an estimate of 35 pages per one of my books. If it's 1 cent a page, then I'd be getting 35 cents per borrow, which is not really... awesome. If it's 10 cents a page, then it's 3.50$ per borrow. Obviously, it's not going to be that... that's way too much money. I think Amazon is going to start it off somewhere in the middle, and do what they did before... go down slowly in payout. It happened already with how KU works now. It was $2 a borrow (MAN I wish I would have started earlier!) and has stabilized around 1.30-1.40$ per borrow. Yet they're losing money. So many authors have put in books in KU, especially erotica writers, and with unlimited borrows, people are reading a lot more and getting their bang for their buck, which turned out good for writers. More they borrow, more writers earn. Yet the income for their KU program stayed about the same, if increased slightly.

Going to a page per read metric doesn't bother me too much. It's pushing closer to a getting paid per word deal that submitting to magazines and suchlike was like back in the day. I actually have complete confidence in that what people borrow of mine they read to the finish. This is mostly because MOST of my sexy bits tend to end up at the end of the book, OR there's a story there to carry them along. I'm not saying my work is high writing, but the way I've tied it together seems to carry readers from story to story with my JKC. Most of the Dominating books have a scenario in the beginning, leads to the sexy part at the end. What bothers me is that it's not... set down how much they are going to pay per page, how many words per page there are, and if formatting makes a difference or not. If I HAVE to, I'll go to 1.5 space formatting to fluff it a little, but that would kill part of my soul. I don't do that. I use a 12 size Times Roman font with single spacing, no double spacing between paragraphs... I use indents. Hence, my words per page is probably higher than a lot of erotica writers who do use such tricks to pad out their page count. I read one book where it was literally a paragraph (and not a long one) per page. That. Was. Annoying.

I understand why they're doing this, and it's Amazon playbox. If I don't like it, I can take my shit and leave. I'm considering that. They're offering 90 days after this goes into place to pull your shit out of KU, and depending on how it's done, I may. My plan originally was to pull stuff out of Amazon and sell on other forums anyway. This may just hasten it. I don't know yet. However, if they pay at least 3-5 cents a page, I'll probably stick to my original plan. 35 pages * 3 cents = 1.05. 35 pages * 5 cents = 1.75. I can live with those numbers. The sales will still be there too. But since I tend to writer LONGER stuff, it doesn't hurt me as much as those who churn out a billion 3,000 to 4,000 stories. Yeah, I've some shorter stuff, but I didn't work as long on them, so it makes sense to me that I should get paid less.

People have freaked out that this means the end of bundles, and I'm like.. this means MORE bundles. Bundles always have been and always will be free money to erotica writers. You're getting paid twice for work you already did. However, it'll mean more trash bundles too. I vow to my readers I will never ever trash bundle. I might slip in a bundle of stories from various series together, like a sampling, at one point, and I WILL bundle Dirk stories together and Debbie stories together from the JKC so that if my gay/bisexual readers want to find just Dirk stories they can, and hetero readers want to just read Debbie's they can... but that's it for my "trash bundling". Otherwise, stories will be bundled how I've been doing them. Every 5 for a JKC, 10 into a mega (haven't reached there yet tho), every 3 for Dominating, and every 3 for my shorter series. Rock, I haven't decided yet, but depending on the length of the next Rock, it may be every 2 or 3. If he continues to make me write 25K+ in a story, that's a lot of words, lemme tell ya. Two of them would be novel length then (novel length being over 50K), which would make sense to bundle them in a two pack. Just have to wait until I finish the next one.

The other thing is that it means more immediate payment up front, though the returns for each book will vary. People sometimes read stuff all in one sitting, and sometimes they don't. Assuming someone borrows a book and starts reading it right away, you'll get your cash right away (well, in 60 days, but that's the payment schedule). If they put it down and continue reading the next day, you'll get the next bit. It's more continual. That may mean a smoother graph, more consistent money throughout the month. Authors such as Selena Kitt have given us what information she has, which is really appreciated, and has offered authors to "come to the dark side"... which I already have an Excitica account, heh. My first book that is not attached to a bundle has finally come free of KU, so it was going to go up onto the different platforms out there, starting tonight when I get my conversions done. How will these other platforms perform? I have no idea. That's why I'm experimenting. I don't like being at Amazon's mercy, but they're a company and they want to make money. I get that. It's just that... so do I.

What does all this mean? It means keep your head down and keep writing until July or August until we get some numbers for sure, and then you can cry the sky is falling. For now, it's business as usual.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Too Long! Too Hard!

Anyone ever have those problems? Heh.

A quick update... or maybe not so quick since it's a blog post... got a new 9-5 job... which is actually a 10 PM to 8 AM job, so ten hour shifts, although I'll have three days off a week to do nothing in. Well, maybe not nothing... but writing! In theory! The new job is harder than my old, so I'll be hard pressed to write there, and I think my production will slow down in general. I have to just pull it together and write, and I know I can do it!

I have actually been writing! It hasn't been much smut though... I've been poking at the next Cheri story, and have officially decided to make that a trilogy if it doesn't pick up. I'm going to do those and the bundle next, then move on to the kitsune story which is a fair bit done (and will be long!). No, instead I've been working on this "legitimate" novel instead, trying to finish a first draft. After the first pass of cuts, and the new additions to it, it's at 63K words, which is legitimate novel length. I was rather surprised how clean the prose is, though I have a friend reading it to help proofread as I go. I'd forgotten I'd asked that too!

The basement... we finally did get a couple of estimates, and it's around eight grand. So, c'mon people, buy some smut! Heh, kidding. We have it, but it won't be pretty. And it also won't be for a month and a half. Prepare for some massive whining then.

I'm always really surprised when I stop writing for a while and then I come back to it... how much I miss it. Even the stories I'm not really "into", I'm "into". I like telling stories. I like all these different people in my head, these different scenarios playing out... constantly. I can't not do this. I can't not create something. A very good friend of mine once told me that, that it was necessary for me, and he was right. I always have been creating, and I always will. Writing isn't my only hobby, it's just my major one. I paint too, miniatures of all things. I pay attention to detail and color. I draw a little, and I've been paid for my art as well, so not only am I a professional author, but a professional artist.

I will always find time to make something new. It's just who I am. It's just my luck here that I found a way to get paid for it, doing something I enjoy so thoroughly.

Back to the grind, me!