What’s Up?

ImageI decided I needed to take a moment, show my blog some attention, and catch up after what was a hectic start of the year.

First off – Sport of Kings was released by Liquid Silver on January 1st.

Second – Volume Four of Memoirs of a Gigolo will be out on February 1st.

A few readers have asked me if there is something else on the horizon. First – thank you. I’d probably be doing this if you weren’t buying my books, but that you keep coming back for more tells me I’m doing something right.

A very very brief glimpse inside of what’s coming up. I have a romance coming out sometime later this spring through TWRP. I have a couple mainstream romances (which are pretty spicy but not erotica) I’m trying to get agented. I have something completely different which I’m working on that will appeal to readers who like mainstream contemporary fantasy. A YA dystopian in which I indulge my love of ancient cultures, mythologies and religions. Finally, after Memoirs I’ll be launching a new serial.

That’s it for the moment. Now I’m back to work for the next couple of days in advance of the launch of Volume Four of Memoirs of a Gigolo.

FREE This Weekend – Volume Two of Memoirs of a Gigolo

I have to say I wasn’t sure at first if I would put Volume Two of Memoirs of a Gigolo on promo. But in the end I decided that it’s still early days for the serial and the promo does the job at bringing new readers into the fold.

So for one time only, I’m offering it up for free. That isn’t to say I won’t put it up again for free, but I can say that I’m just not certain when (or even if) that will happen. But for now and at this moment, it is available for free on Amazon.

There is no risk with free, but there is much to gain. I love Oliver, Olga, Elon, and possibly even Renatta (still not sure if she will have a redemptive moment yet). I do hope to find more readers that enjoy what I write as much as I enjoy producing it. For me, writing Memoirs is a labour of love. I hope that comes through.

Taking a Chance Early: Memoirs of a Gigolo – Happy Halloween Oliver

Memoirs of a Gigolo was always planned to be a twelve volume serialization. I have stuck to my guns and turned down pretty decent offers to give it up as a compiled work. I knew my characters and understood the story I wanted to tell and why I wanted to tell it the way I was telling it. Serialization works.

But then I had a problem. How do I tell the story from only a single perspective and in the first person? Tricky. There is no room for any external information that isn’t filtered through the perspective character. Very tricky. But doable. I looked on it as a challenge. Then one of my early readers, a person with a fancy-schmancy writing background from a stupidly expensive university (we actually went to school together, so I’m really making fun of myself in the process and not just being mean), made me sit down and really think about what I was trying to accomplish from such a tricky position.He made some very valid points about the place I was going to be writing from. I had hobbled myself from the start. The least I could do was use dialog tags. Memoirs of a Geisha was  written with dialog tags.

I stuck to my guns. I can get very stubborn when I want my way. I wasn’t going to change. I like how I wrote Volume One. It read in my head like a true diary. I could hear the internal thoughts of my protagonist in the words. Besides… who the heck uses dialog tags in their diary? I was determined. Fail or succeed, I was going to put out the first volume as I always imagined it would be. If I wanted to compromise, I would have given the whole thing to a publisher.

So it was released. But my friend’s words kept coming back to me. Loathe as I was to admit it, he had a point; there was room for greater dimension and depth. It is very hard to create a three dimensional character from my chosen vantage point. So I did the most insane thing I could do. I added another loop to this trefoil knot of a story. I created the option of writing stand-alone stories which were placed outside of the main arc. Freak of the week  or filler episode in tv-speak. Holiday specials. Halloween is the first one on the block. I’m not going to give away the story. I will say that Oliver is not the POV character. I will also say that I’ve remained true to the style I developed for volumes 1-12

This is a risk. I could be diluting the main story with the addition of the perspectives of secondary characters. The first stand alone was just released a day ago. Already I’m receiving positive feedback, but I have also generated some confusion. The number one question: Is this Volume Two, or is there another Volume Two? There is another Volume Two. It’s out November 1st. Fortunately there will be only one more holiday special that is released near the end of a month – Christmas and New Years.

There are expectations now for other stand alone stories. I can already visualize myself how they are going to work with the existing material to create a complete universe for my favorite male prostitute. What I need to do is draw a line and say this is enough. As tempting as it is to keep adding to the story, I have to tell it as it is now defined. Not an easy thing to do when the only person I really have to answer to in this process is myself.

Fifty Shades of Fallout – After the Promotion

Memoirs of a Gigolo was available on Amazon for free for five days. Never again will I do a five day promotion. I must have been out of my mind. Or woefully inexperienced with the process. Never again. I have learned my lesson via trial by fire. Two days, perhaps even three, would have been enough. Five was too many.

Here are the hard numbers and a few facts:

  1. 1972 copies of Memoirs were downloaded across the various amazon sites. I was so close to 2000. I very nearly did another promo push, but just didn’t have the heart to ask for support one final time.
  2. Memoirs reached #7 on the top 100 free erotic downloads list.
  3. Since the promotion ended a week ago, I’ve sold 79 copies priced at $.99.
  4. 18 five star reviews have been written on the various amazon sites. Readers seem to get what I was trying to do with Memoirs.
  5. 1 four star review was written on amazon.
  6. I’ve been contacted by four agents – two are highly respected, two I’ve never heard of. I’d love an agent. I think I might go down this road.
  7. No less than two publishers that rejected Memoirs asked me if I’d be interested in placing Memoirs with them. I haven’t responded. I’m not sure if I turn on the hyper-bitch, accept, or just politely send them a form letter that reads something like… While I am unable to comment personally on every query, please know I did give your work my full consideration.  Thanks for thinking of me. I wish you nothing but the best in your publishing career…. OH the temptation!!!! I wouldn’t do it. I want to work with these people at some point in the future. But it would be so delicious to dish it out for once.
  8. 214 guests attended my virtual release party on Face Book.
  9. I tried to figure out how to market on Twitter – and then failed. I can’t figure out Twitter.
  10. I very nearly posted a picture of my BFF’s husband, the scary freaking Marine who is currently in Afghanistan, on my Facebook Page and told everyone he’s my boyfriend. I write erotica – as one of my friends told me it’s like blood in the water for the sharks. I’ve attracted a couple of weirdos. They’ve been banished from my Facebook Page.

Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Two will be available on November 1st.  I’m absolutely terrified that it won’t live up to expectations. Sophomore syndrome or something like that. I’ve already started sending out the invitations to my virtual release party. I’m lining up blog slots. I have a few interviews set up. I’m watching and learning from my writer friends. The learning curve arches like a rainbow. Something is happening. I can feel it.

50 Shades Free – Five Promotional Days on Amazon

Memoirs of a Gigolo has been available for free on Amazon for the past three days. I’ve hit a high ranking of #7 on free erotic books and have given away 1474 downloads. I still have two days left to go on the promotion – the sky is still the limit. I’m putting the numbers up simply because this is the question my writer friends ask me the most often; what are my numbers? I honestly don’t know what to say at this point. I’m stunned by the response. So how did this happen and did I do the right thing giving so many books away? What could I have done better? What did I learn?

It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I signed up for the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. If I’ve learned nothing else from the Marketing Maven, I’ve learned to diversify and not to limit my exposure. There is a lot of debate raging amongst indie authors about the machine that is Amazon and buying into their marketing scheme. After a fair amount of weighing the pro’s and con’s, I opted in to KDP Select. For the uninitiated, a quick primer on KDP Select. First, a caveat; if you sign up for KDP Select, read the fine print. You might be giving up more than you want to.

  • When you sign up to KDP Select you agree to three months of exclusivity. What does this mean? You can only sell your ebook on Amazon. That takes Smashwords, Lulu, All Romance Ebooks,  and a few others off the table. You are limited to Amazon as a platform to sell your books.
  • In exchange for giving away your power to sell on a variety of platforms, you receive five free promotional days. Basically, you are given the option to promote your book for free for five days. Once again, just so we’re all on the same page, you give Amazon 90 days and they let you give your book away for five of those days.

I know… I thought the same thing. Why would I want to give my book away? I’m not asking much. $.99 – even in this economy, not a fortune. I’ll admit I was doing okay – not great, but okay – before the promo days began. I sold on Smashwords, Lulu, and All Romance along with Amazon. I actually had the most sales on Smashwords. So why did I in effect hobble myself, but signing up for KDP Select?

Numbers. The larger the base of readership I can build in anticipation of the release of Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Two, then the better chance I have of generating the kind of momentum that pushes a book into becoming a trend. I may not make any money selling Volume One, but I’m getting something so much more valuable – a fan base that will be looking forward to Volume Two. I’m active on Facebook, I’m reasonably savvy when it comes to social media and networking, and (yes) I blog. I enjoy blogging, but the simple truth is, my blog is one giant advertisement for my writing. I’m also anticipating building an audience as I release each volume of Memoirs of a Gigolo.

I want to put Memoirs of a Gigolo into the hands of people that might enjoy it with the hope that at some point in the future, they’ll want to read everything I write. In essence, fans. There are a few writers that I read based on their name alone. I want that kind of following and I’m willing to work for it. By work, I mean work. Eighteen hour days for the past three days. A little more preplanning probably would have spared my nerves. So what would I have done differently and what will I do the next time around? A few things.

  • Memoirs is written in twelve parts. Each part is scheduled to be released on the first of every month for twelve months. If I hadn’t had the October 1, 2012 release day for Volume One set in my mind as a jumping off point, I might have gone into my promo days with more positive reviews (i.e. those of four or five stars).
  • I would have begun advertising earlier. I started promoting the day my free days began.
  • With more reviews, I could have approached some of the bloggers and websites that feature free and bargain Kindle books.
  • I wouldn’t have scheduled all five of my promo days in one block. I would have staggered them three then two.
  • I also would have leaned on some of my writer/blogger friends to promote me.
  • I would have paid for some follow up advertising.

Do I qualify this as a success? Absolutely!! My book is already in the hands of nearly 1500 people. If I carry some of them along to November 1st and the release of Volume Two, then I’ve succeeded. Do I plan on doing this same sort of promotion for Volume Two in November? I think you can count on it.

Giving It Away

 Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume One is up for free on Amazon this weekend. When I published on Amazon I was given the option of enrolling in the KDP Select program. At first I hesitated. I asked around. Received both positive and negative reports. The consensus seems to be, either you love it, or you hate it. I figured at this point, this whole self-publishing thing was an experiment. I might as well go all in.

I’m the first to admit I’m in the dark when it comes to marketing my self-published book. I have no idea what I’m doing. Up to this point, I’ve done a lot of for-hire work and have had the dubious pleasure of being able to hand over my work and be done with it after the writing was finished. It was no longer my problem after I did my part. Granted, my paychecks reflected the fact I was just an anonymous person behind a keyboard never to receive any acknowledgement, but it was certainly an easy enough way to make some shoe money.

I’ve talked to a few experts, but I’m throwing darts. Trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t is a study in hedging my bets and hoping for the best. So I’m quite literally giving it away. Let’s see what happens.

50 Shades of the Next Big Thing Part 1

I have a friend that owns a bunch of small bookshops in Dublin. When there is a scheduling pinch and I’m free, I go in, sit behind the counter, read, and take peoples money. I could make a career out of this. Possibly the best job I’ve ever had. And get to sit around and read AND I get paid in books!!! Sweet!!!

So what have I noticed as I sit perched on my stool reading and drinking a latte? There’s always a BOOK. That one book that just about everyone walks in the door and asks for. Last year it was Game of Thrones. Every other person that walked in the door, regardless of age, sex, race, or fashion sense, wanted Game of Thrones. Couldn’t keep it on the shelves.

No shock, the BOOK that everyone has to have right now is 50 Shades of Grey. Disturbingly, I had a bunch of old ladies in when I worked a morning last week looking to buy 50 Shades of Grey. Even worse, they asked me about it. They were sort of cute about it actually. Very giggly and girlish. I had to tell them the truth. I hadn’t read it. Bondage isn’t really my thing. Besides, I’d heard that it’s not really that good. This comes from a few unrelated sources that I usually trust when it comes to books. The big critiques; poorly written, the characters are wholly two-dimensional, the sex isn’t all that great. One of the nice old women in her petal pink windbreaker with the Princess Cruises emblem on a sticker stuck to her boob, very rightly pointed out that I had said myself that I hadn’t read it. So, who am I to judge?

Absolute right! I haven’t read it. I am in no position to judge. Number one thing that bugs me about people smack talking a book or an author is when they haven’t even read the book themselves. Hand up – guilty as charged. They left with their books wrapped in discrete little paper bags and I picked up a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. I sat there on my perch with my latte in one hand and the current BOOK in the other hand. My mind couldn’t get into the story. I kept on coming up with alternative names. 50 Shades of Tie Me Up and Tie Me Down. 50 Shades of Smack Me on the Ass Because I’ve Been a Bad Bad Girl. 50 Shades of Please Don’t Make Me Read Anymore of This Crap.

Oh my… sigh… If we lived in a meritocracy where only the truly stellar books made it to the top of the sales charts, then 50 Shades of Grey would be lingering on EL James’ laptop never to see the light of day. I have writer friends that are working like dogs to get noticed that produce books of much higher quality than 50 Shades of Grey. Yikes it’s bad!

It’s not that I think it isn’t sufficiently erudite or contains the sort of verbal gymnastics most people with advanced degrees in English think books should have before they become worthy of our notice, it’s just really poorly written. I mean ehhhh…. I’m a firm believer that books should be thought provoking, entertaining, accessible, and have a plot that can be found by the average reader without the need of a compass and a flashlight. I would have cheered 50 Shades of Grey for being at the forefront of the push to make erotica mainstream accessible and acceptable. But it stinks.

So how the heck did it get so popular? How did such a badly written book become the next big thing? I don’t know. I have no idea. If I knew I’d be out doing it. I’m pushing my new release Memoirs of a Gigolo like it was one of a million other books available for download on Amazon… which it is. I know two marketing people. I’m going to try to wrangle them into talking with me about what drives this sort of mass hysteria when it comes to a book.

50 Shades of the Next Big Thing Part 2 will be available a week from today