Thursday, May 19, 2016

You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money... Right?

Oh boy. In what might be a huge mistake, I have... (drum roll, please)... paid for advertising.

Nah, not on Facebook, although I'm investigating that as well. Since my books are almost exclusively offered on Amazon, I went with them first. The first unhappy surprise: minimum hundred dollars expenditure. Second unhappy surprise: I have to wait, potentially up to 72 hours, for them to review it.

The book I chose to advertise is The Queen of Swords... of course. If I have some success here, I may branch out and do a similar campaign for Delilah. Those are the two I consider my most popular (even though 1001 Erotic Nights is my best seller, by far). The first reason is... well, it's easy to pin down the interests. It's all based on comics and thus, I targeted people who would buy comics or super hero novels. The second reason is that there are three books out in the series. If people like Queen enough, they may check out Prince, and then Princess.

It was pretty easy to set up. My nerves will be wracked until it's actually a live campaign. I'll keep thinking, "OMG WHAT IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT?! WHAT IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG?!" which is silly, of course. The next thought is, "What if I don't sell a damn thing and I just threw a hundred bucks away?" That would be a lot more shaming. However, Queen has some of my best reviews, Rebecca Wolfe's audio is wonderful to listen to, and I think it's fun and dark and sexy to read. You ONLY get 150 characters to sum up the book, though! This is what I ended up with:

In Imperial City, villain-for-hire Caprice works hard... and she plays harder. This novella contains dark, sometimes brutal, sexy, mature content.

It hits all the main components. She's a villain (check) who is hired (check). She works hard (check... sort of a nod to her being a bad ass) and plays hard (check). It's dark (check), bloody (check in the 'brutal' comment), sexy (check) and for a mature audience (check). There's no main element of the book which I left out, I think. Oh, and it's a novella, NOT a novel (check). I do NOT want people to be surprised by the length. The next books are novels, yes, but this one isn't. I think Prince has more sex in it by virtue of its length, but per capita... Queen is packed with sex. I wasn't sure HOW much I wanted plot and how much I wanted sexy times yet, so I erred on the side of sexy times. IIRC, Princess has three and a half sex scenes in comparison... basically the same amount as Queen. But it's three times as long. Longer than that!

This is a new, nervous step for me. I am reluctant to bug bloggers and say "Hey, review my booooook!" but that'll be the next terrifying step. People have often told me that you have to spend money to make money, and I hope this pans out. If I get a lot of click throughs, that'll be good. If I get a lot of sales, that will be better. If I want to be taken seriously...I need to advertise. Which that's a whole other post--people not taking erotica writers seriously. I seriously challenge anyone on the street to write a hot sexy scene and get people to fap to it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Hey, y'all! I'm happy to see I was on the ball and posted that Villainess 3 was live. I was afraid I had missed that since I tend to neglect the blog here, save for when I come back to "real life" work and decide to update.

Now, in reference to my title, what I'm going to talk about today is "making it" as a independent author. I won't give out solid numbers, but I figured if I want to quit my job and do this for a living, I'd need to make about $1500 a month three months in a row. Not only would that give me a sizable nest egg to fall back on, but it would show consistency month to month like that. That would be working a full time job in addition to writing, not just writing full time. Since I'm at work (*looks around*) obviously, I'm not making that.

I won't lie and say that it's not my dream to write for a living. It is! Of course it is! It's every writer's dream to be the next Stephen King, or heck, even Dean Koontz... or EL James. I think I first got into erotica because I thought, "Oh, hey, easy money." And while it is easy, and there's money, it's not exactly "easy money". There's work involved. There's stuff I'm not so good at doing involved... like making covers, and networking, and promotion. It's not just writing a story and sending it out into the universe, expecting it to be popular. Sometimes, yeah, you can get lucky, but those instances are pretty few and far between. It's work. It's hard work, but because I love telling stories, it makes it easy for me.

A couple people know this, but I started a romance pen name too. No, I shan't be giving it out here. At least, not yet. Romance isn't my thing. Like, writing about dirty, filthy sex is one thing, but writing romance? It's a lot harder. There are formulas you must follow there to be successful, and tropes you need to learn because readers expect it. It's a learning process. I won't say that process is fun cause it's not. It's work. But I still get to tell stories, even if they are romances. Who's to say there can't be derring do and all sorts of fun stuff in it?

A couple other people know I'm writing "legit" novels too, though they are not published yet. I put legit in quotes because the erotica I write is legit, but people scorn it. Hell, people scorn romance, yet romance is probably THE top seller anywhere. Neither are easy to write. This novel I have is sizable, and I'm thinking it's probably to complex and doesn't make sense and all sorts of other negative things... but it's the one I've put the most effort into. Even my Villainess and Delilah stuff, which I love dearly, haven't gotten even a tenth of the work this novel has. Does that mean it's better? No. It means I've just put more work into it... and that I've dragged my feet trying to publish it.

Through all this, I'm not a popular author. I have fans, which is still trippy to say, but not popular. In general, the stuff I write is at worst, average, and at best, mind blowing. (seriously, someone said that!) I can handle that. Even the femdom stuff, the Dominating Her Man series, I've been told was better than much of the other stuff out there. It wasn't super hard core... but it wasn't meant to be. It was meant for people, myself included, to dip their toes into different aspects of the BDSM culture. This one might be about pegging. This one might be about bondage. This one might be about humiliation. And so on. Even when I haven't put my heart into it, it's still alright. I can deal with that.

I think what's holding me back is pushing. I don't push. I'm not a pusher. I CAN be aggressive, but in general I'm laid back and kinda nervous about pushing my stuff onto people. It's promotion, and I have remind myself that it's OK to push because that's part of my job as an indie writer... to push and wave my hands and say "Look at this! You'll like it!". But it's all part of the learning curve. Before I could write, I had to learn how to write, how to put stories together, how to make sentences, how to punctuate, spell, and all that other stuff. Before I can promote, I have to learn HOW to do it and get the mindset for it. I shouldn't (and don't) expect success overnight because while I learned how to put sentences together all of my life, I've only been a few months at learning how to promote myself. Each step forward takes me a closer step to my goal. And say I only make ten bucks a month, or fifty, or a hundred, or five hundred... each dollar gained is closer to my goal. And it's more than I would have had had I just sat on my ass and not did anything.

I've been at this for a year now, and in that year I've published over 45 stories, a couple of which have been full length novels, and at least a dozen novellas. Think about that. Does your favorite author put out novels twice a year? Of course not. (Of course, I don't have to go through copy editing and editing and approving covers and waiting for publication either. Advantage of self-pubbing there.) On a work day--because I write during my work days--I can write five to ten thousand words. That's inbetween working at my "real life" job. I read somewhere an average writer only writes about two thousand. If I did this for a living, anything under ten thousand a day would be a failure for me.

Some authors work really fast. I know of one who puts out a story every day to every other day. He's amazing. I know other authors who can't write that fast, who have real life responsibilities they must attend first and are lucky if they write two hundred words. Yet we're all in the same race. We're all learning, albeit at different speeds, and growing. We're all moving along to our dreams and while some of us are at the end of the race, cheering the rest on (and it's true, the "made it" indie authors tend to be really supportive of the little guy; it's pretty amazing), others are still racing at our own pace. It's been said this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that is so true. We'll get tired and winded. We'll get revitalized by the crowd. We'll work at a steady pace with periods of rest and periods of frantic activity, but each movement puts us one step closer to our end. The people I'm racing with aren't my competition; they're my companions. We're all doing it together.

*waves a hand* Inspirational thought for the decade. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Art is Subjective

Not the best title, but it works. Yes, this is again about Chuck Tingle's Hugo nomination (go, Chuck!) and about art and subjectivity in general.

One of the things you don't know about me (but soon will) is that Tommy Wiseau's The Room is one of my favorite movies. It's hilariously bad. It's been lampooned and reviewed so many times, and those reviews are hilarious, but the movie itself is a spectacular piece of terrible film... and I fucking adore it. It's a matter of taste. I admit to having some simple tastes at times, and what I like for art is often a big part of that simplicity. It comes down to this one thing:

I enjoy laughing.

That's it. That's why I like some really terrible stuff, which isn't put together the best, or has obvious errors, or other people would look at me like I'm crazy and be like "WTF". It makes me laugh and smile. It pulls from me a stronger reaction than even my FAVORITE movie of all time, and just about every other movie I've ever watched. I never laughed so hard in my life than when I got stoned and watched The Room. (*gasp* Yes, I smoke "the refer" recreationally, sue me) Even watching it sober makes me giggle like a giddy schoolgirl.

For this reason, I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax. They make bad movies really damn funny. It's not really done out of a sense of meanness for the movies, but rather a certain kind of love for them. Only people who love movies that much spend that much time watching them, bad, good, mediocre... all kinds.

So it is with Chuck Tingle. The Tingleverse makes me smile. It makes me laugh. It makes me shake my head and go "WTF did I just read?!", and these are all good things. Of the writers I've read, so very few pull a real emotional reaction from me. And of those that do? Not many of them the level of sheer giddy joy and amusement Mr. Tingle brings me. It's all subjective. What works for me may not work for you.

He's this sort of comedic genius which comes along a couple times in a life, that strikes you just right, and makes you happy because you laugh when you read his stuff. His Twitter page is hysterical. And behind it all, behind all those silly books and unreal circumstances and outrageously crazy tweets, there's a few real messages there. He tells us in his way to love people, to accept them for who they are whether they are unicorns or raptors or not, and he points out in hysterical ways the hypocrisy of folks who butt in other people's business, and he comments on current events in a way which often flies right over the head of the people he's satirizing. He's clever and funny and good-hearted. Even if it's all fake, fake name, fake humor account, fake everything... who cares? The persona created is good, and wants to bring good things to people's lives, and for that, if nothing else, I admire the fuck out of him. Me? I'm too full of hate and spite to bring about messages of love and shit.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but that's fine. He's one of my favorite authors right now because I know I can pick up one of his short stories and come out the other end with a smile. I can't say that about any other author I read. Not a one.