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.

Fifty Shades of Telling it Like it Is – Meet the Reviewers Part Deux

I’m back with the reviewers for Part Deux of the interview. What do they have to say about self-publishing and the problem of sockpuppetry? Read on to find out.

  • Question #7 – The ease at which writers can self-publish has created a flood of books available for either free or for next to nothing. The filter through which manuscripts passed (i.e. publishers and agents) is no long there. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Cat Alley

  • From a writers stand point it is a good thing… from a readers it means more is available and a lot at much cheaper price. But what I am also finding is a lot of editing errors. If we continue this way then the writer has to find good editors. I understand that no one can be a perfect editor, but that is why you have readers before you publish your book. It is a reflecting of you as a writer, take more pride in your work.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think the good outweighs the bad. Yes, you get the occasional book that is atrocious, but for the most part, you get such a wide variety of stories and voices. I enjoy being able to read good stories and not being told what constitutes a good story by publishers. Sometimes they get it wrong.

PW

  • From a writer’s point of view, the ease of self publishing is good, however, the author needs to take extra care about typos and editing because it can make or bread their book if a reader has to constantly deal with typos. A few don’t matter, but a lot can jar the story. Editing becomes critical, because you want to make sure character names don’t become mixed up, or situations in the storylines get confused.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #8 – It seems as if reviews are one of the only ways to separate the unreadable detritus from the true gems. Do you think because of this too much emphasis has been placed on the importance of reviews?

Cat Alley

  • Not at all. I think they are very important, but not as important as your beta readers and your editors. Reviewers only help sell it after.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think reviews are a great tool in deciding whether or not to take a chance on a new book, but most readers still go with their gut on a book regardless of reviews. Maybe if they see all ones and twos they’ll pass it by, but for the most part, either the book will pique a readers interest enough to buy, or it won’t. Reviews give a reader confidence to purchase a book they’re interested in more than tell them which book to buy in my opinion.

PW

  • I agree with Cat that a beta readers and editors are critical. The only thing a reviewer is going to do is give an opinion of the book, which can help some people decide to read a book or not.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #9 – Can you judge a book by it’s cover?

Cat Alley

  • The cover is what always attracts people at the beginning. For me that is the first attraction, then i read the back and if it sounds interesting I get it. It is a lot like meeting a new person. You instantly judge if you want to meet them by there looks, then you introduce and make small talk, if a spark is there you learn more about them.

DelSheree Gladden

  • A great cover definitely helps, but it is by no means a guarantee of quality. Two of the most eye catching covers I’ve seen this year turned out to be the two books I gave the lowest ratings to.

PW

  • Ususally the cover is the first thing to catch a reader’s eye, then the blurb about the book. The blurb will actually be the selling point once the reader picks up/looks at the book after seeing the cover.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #10 – There have been a lot of reports in the media recently about bogus “sockpuppet” reviews. Does this activity diminish your status as reviewers or make what you do that much more important?

Cat Alley

  • umm.. I don’t watch the news or really listen to it so I have no clue what a “sockpuppet” reviewer is, but it doesn’t sound good.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think the quality of the sock puppet reviews show through and don’t convince readers as much as the person posting them hopes they will. When someone is posting dozens and dozens of reviews because they’re being paid for them, not because they actually read the books … well, it’s hard to be that creative and write quality, meaningful reviews. They all start to look the same and readers pick up on that.

PW

  • I think that bogus ‘sockpuppet’ reviews hurt legit reviewers as a reader may not trust them in the future. I also feel that this ultimely hurts the authors, as it may give readers the impression that this is the only way they can get someone to read their book.

Livia Ellis

  • Final Question – Have you ever started to read a book with the intention of reviewing it, and it was so bad you just abandoned it before you wrote it up?

Cat Alley

  • I have always finished it if I have been asked to review it published, might not have been a great review but I have a very hard time just abandoning a book… I always hope that it will get better. The few books I have come across so far that has been very hard to finish have been beta books where I could sit down with the author and discuss reasons why it was hard to read, see if it is something that can be fixed or not. But I have had one beta book I could not finish. I am sure it had nothing to do about the book itself, just was not my cup of tea and I could not relate at all to the characters.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I have a weird compulsion to finish a book no matter how bad it is. There is only one book I started reading in my entire life and did not finish. That was back in high school and it still bugs me. However, I have really wanted to quit reading books. With books I review, I try very hard to find at least a few positive comments, but I do say as nicely as possible what the book’s failings were.

Samantha Truesdale

  • I always finish a book and review it if I have told the author I would do so. In the couple of cases that I didn’t particularly care for the book, I try to leave a constructive review. There is only one book I can think of that I absolutely could not bring myself to finish, and that was the second I’m the Shades of Grey series. Thank you so much for doing this! It has been fun!

PW

  • I always finish a book I get for review. I may not like the book, but try to give some positive remark if possible. If I end up reading an author with two books I don’t like, I just don’t get their books to read. It’s not fair to the author. I have actually not finished a couple of print books because I just could not deal with errors or storyline, but they were not something I was going to be reviewing.

Livia Ellis

  • Final Final Question… anything you’d like to add?

PW

  • This has been fun and I look forward to the blog. Thanks for the questions and getting to meet other reviewers.

Samantha Truesdale

  • Thank you so much for doing this! It has been fun!

DelSheree Gladden

  • Thanks for the fun questions! Can’t wait to see the blog next week!

Cat Alley

  • I want to thank you for taking the time to ask me what I think in general of my process. I can’t wait to see your blog!!

Erotica’s Lost Literary Roots

Recently I’ve downloaded a lot of free erotica through Amazon. I want to read what other writers write for a couple of reasons. Since my student days when I was learning the craft of writing it has been pounded in to me that writers read and they read prolifically. Message received. You want to be a writer? Go and read. I also like to know what that small coterie of erotica writers I run with is getting up to. There are hundreds of free books available on Amazon. I can both read what others are writing and not have to pay for it.

Four hours I’ll never get back later … I don’t even know how to comment. Where to begin? What can I possibly say? I want my four hours back. I was embarrassed for some of the people that produced the work. How is it possible to have so little pride in ones own work? Why put that level of unreadable crap out into the world with their name attached to it? Do the writers just not see how badly written what they write is? This may be. I’ve met a few people in my time that really didn’t get that their writing wasn’t that good. They didn’t want to hear it. Personally, I want to hear it when my book needs work. By wanting to hear it, I mean I want the critique to be both focused and useful. “You suck” doesn’t help. “You are using too many passive verbs and are slipping tenses” helps. Then I go and look at my work and fix it if I think it needs to be fixed, or leave it if I like it the way it is. I’m working on a fictional memoir at the moment. Sometimes I do things on purpose that wouldn’t normally work in a traditional narrative. This is me being fancy. Not me being lazy. I can’t explain away what I read as literary gymnastics that have perhaps just gone over my head. It’s just bad writing.

It boggles my mind. Is it because they’re writing erotica and there is a presumption that as long as there’s a lot of sex it doesn’t have to be well written? That there is no need to carefully craft a story? That the story should be the focus and the sex is just an element of telling that story? I’m angry. I’m insulted. I’m really really really pissed off that these hacks are polluting the waters with their bullshit. It is hard enough to get a work noticed without having to contend with it being lumped into the same stew as a book that confuses and winch for a wench and a “Japanse Komono” for a kimono and thinks that all a gay man really needs to go straight is the fine lovin’ of a panty-less vixen that can jerk him off with her foot?

Erotica has a history. It is coeval with the foundations of literature. Even the Hebrew Bible contains romantic, sexual love. Example: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for thy love is better than wine”.  From there it just gets steamier and is so beautifully written! “Let his left hand be under my head, and his right hand embrace me”. Nice!!

To compare and contrast, a passage from a work which I will not name lest I unwittingly promote it.  Setting the scene – a young woman who calls herself as Candi (with an I) describes herself as being a twenty-two year old co-ed, crowned with long red hair that “is so long it touches her cute tushie”, a “tight ass begging to be fucked good”, big “perkey” tits, a very pretty face, and a recently shaved “cunt”.  We join Candi (with an I) after she has gone into a gay bar in search of a “hot stud”. “I was hot and horney and wiggled my tight tiny butt in his face the spandex of my little dress moving up so he could see I had no underwear on with my g-string that covered my new shaved pussy … ”

Who wears a g-string and panties?

Not nice. I so wish that was a unique example, but unfortunately it isn’t. I call on the spirits of Collette, Anaïs Nin, and Sappho to spare us all! How can any writer of literary erotica expect to follow in the footfalls of the greats with so much static clogging up the airways? I’m not being rhetorical. I’d really like to know how. I really would.

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.

Recently Unearthed for Week 38

Wednesday seems like a good day to post some links to a few blog posts that caught my notice – here is a round up of the better blog posts I’ve found during the past week.

  1. Jeanette Vaughan, author of Flying Solo, has a similar view to mine of the next big thing  and shock value.
  2. Guest blogger Tali Spencer discusses book theft and copyright protection at Shira Anthony
  3. Always a favorite, Two Nerdy History Girls (any chance they might need a third?) and a gorgeous prom dress from the 50’s.
  4. EL James on Katie by Emma Jay at Smokin’ Romance
  5. Adele DuBois unveiled the cover for her latest She’s Furry Yiffy. Hand up – I had to google furry yiffy to figure out what the heck it was, but I think I’m going to like this one!
  6. Secret Shame on Eleventh Stack
  7. ingoodtastedenver takes us to the Pompeii exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
  8. 80 Breakfasts does a redo on the grilled cheese that I can’t stop eating.
  9. A primer in verbal gymnastics from makeapowerfulpoint
  10. Need help coming up with a name? The Random Name Generator.

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

How to Query a Book Review Blogger by Anne R. Allen

Dear Readers (can I write dear readers without sounding twee? I don’t think so, but anyhow…) –
Earlier this week I had a bit of a professional crisis wondering how the heck a little ant like me could make it to the top of the publishing heap when those who had made it were making a concerted effort to be jerks. My post about the skulduggery of R.J. Ellory reached more than a few people who were outraged, but also had been around enough to know that he is just one bad example in a world filled with people that truly to go out of their way to help others.
Anne R. Allen, author, blogger, speaker, and all around decent human being that would never write a spiteful review of anyone’s work, commented on my post, and added a link. The topic, one which I had been discussing at length with another writer that is struggling as much as I am, how to query a book review blogger. The very thing I’d been biting my lip and scrunching my nose trying to figure out. And voila – in the way that only these things can happen serendipitously, the answer was presented to me.
I have cut and paste Anne’s recommendations below. I do encourage you to have a look at the full post. We may have Anne around later, so please feel free to leave your thoughts, impressions, and questions.

How do you find interested book bloggers?

The best way is to check similar books in your genre—especially those that have been recently released. Do a search for those titles with the word “review” and read as many reviews as you can. Make a list of the reviewers you like and read the review policy.

Almost no blogger will take all types of books. Some only read traditionally-published paper books; others want only indie ebooks for Kindle. Some specialize in Nook. They almost always have specific genre requests, so read carefully, and always follow them. Even if the blogger agrees to do a review outside their genre, you won’t reach the right readers. People don’t go to a chick lit review site to discover the latest zombie gore-fest.

How do you approach them?

You should make initial contact with a query—the same way you approach other gatekeepers like literary agents and editors. This means you send a professional letter—not a Tweet or wall post on Facebook.

Here are some general rules for scoring a review:

  • Read the guidelines carefully.
  • Then, um, follow the guidelines carefully.
  • Never send an unsolicited book: query first.
  • Don’t query with books outside the prescribed genre. Personalize the query.
  • Keep queries short and intriguing.
  • Don’t take it personally if they turn you down. Reading takes a lot of time and most of them are swamped.
  • Understand the review is for the READER, not the writer, so negative reviews happen.
  • If you get a less than stellar review, mourn in private and move on. NEVER respond to a negative review.

Last November I interviewed popular childrens’ book blogger Danielle Smith of There’s a Book, and she gave some great advice on how to get your book reviewed by a blogger. She says the best way to approach a book blogger is to keep your query professional, but show some personality.

Reviewer Danielle Smith’s guidelines for authors:
  1.  Make sure you address the blogger by name
  2. Include a two to four sentence synopsis—no longer
  3. Keep personal information to a minimum. And don’t guilt-trip.
  4. Attach an image of the book cover
  5. Give the age range of the intended audience
  6. Include the page count (for print books)
  7. Provide the publication date and expected time frame of when you’d like to see the review posted for scheduling purposes.
  8. Don’t ask for a review outside the blogger’s genre
  9. Don’t query if you don’t have a website or a blog. (That screams “unprofessional” to a blogger.)

In other words, treat the book blogger like a professional and she will reciprocate.

If you want to know more about book bloggers and how to approach them, Danielle Smith is leading a panel at the Central Coast Writers’ Conference with several Book Bloggers, including Amy Riley of My Friend Amy, and Pam Van Hylckama Vleig aka Bookalicious Pam who is also an agent with San Francisco agency Larsen-Pomada.

And if you want to read some genuine, not-paid-for Amazon reviews, here are some hilarious ones for a set of Bic pens.

How about you, scriveners? Would you ever consider paying for reviews? Does this change your opinion of John Locke? Do you read book review blogs?

Thank You For the Skinny Latte

I have sold eighteen copies of my book Memoirs of a Gigolo since first releasing it last Thursday. In total, between sales on Amazon and Smashwords, I’ve made $8.76. I’ve never made any money from royalties on my writing before. I am deeply touched that eighteen people took a chance on me and my writing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I sincerely hope you are not disappointed. Today, I went out and bought a skinny latte at Bewley’s on Grafton street with my royalty money. It was the best latte I’ve ever had. Thank you again. I’ll never forget that latte. Love – Livia

Leap of Faith: I’ve Self-Published

I never thought I’d self-publish. But I did. This week I stretched beyond my perceived technical limit, and figured it all out. My pet project has been rejected for the last time. I don’t know how many publishers I’ve submitted it to. They all love it. But they want it as a complete work and not in the twelve volumes I’ve divided it into. I don’t want it divided.I want it distributed in twelve different parts. Possibly more. Who knows? I love this story. I love the characters, how they develop, and the world they inhabit. By serializing it I have the ability to add as many volumes as I want. Especially now.

Each of my friends that has self-published promised me I wouldn’t regret it. Despite their encouragement, I did have a moments panic and a bit of hesitation as I worked at it this week. What am I most afraid of? That I’m too much of a perfectionist and there would be mistakes that I could only blame on myself. That no one would buy my book. That I’m really a rotten writer and there are a dozen people out there ready to give me one-star reviews. That I’ll have to put myself out there to market my book. It’s paralyzing the fear.

I own my lovely story. The only one that has any say is me. Talk about liberating.

So what do I do now? Please buy my book. It’s called Memoirs of a Gigolo. The story is about a young man that has come to the end of the party, he is on the edge of growing up, figuring out who he really is, and what truly matters to him.

Why I Love Jude Deveraux

I write romance for a few reasons. Mostly because I like watching two people fall in love before my eyes. I’m a bit of a voyeur in that way. I read my first romance back when I was about ten maybe eleven. It was discovered at the library where I spent a lot of my time. When I was too young to work, I went library after school for refuge. My love for books already existed. What I gained was an appreciation for quiet and the love of solitary pursuits. I read sci-fi, fantasy and romance.

During an on-line writing workshop I took a few years back, one of the participants jumped upon her ass-cheek-chaffing high horse when another participant asked her if her novel counted as romance. The shock! The outrage! The sycophantic falling over herself when I called her out, let her know I was (and quite proudly) a romance writer and that in fact it was a billion dollar business. Unbelievable. Coward was willing to trash the genre writer and her craft when she thought she was immune from criticism, but the second she’s asked to add a little of the proverbial shack to her yack, she’s got nuttin’.

People like to escape. Naughty pirates with billowing shirts help that along tremendously. Chances that you’re going to time-travel to the Scottish Highlands are probably zip. Thank god for the romance writers with enough imagination to help you get there courtesy a four-hundred-page novel. Lot’s of people read for intellectual persuit and entertainment value. They read Booker/Pulitzer/Noble worthy books. I read these books. They’re usually very good and not a little depressing. There is no reason to justify wanting to read for pleasure as there is no reason to justify wanting ot watch reality TV for pure entertainment.

My first romance novel was a Jude Deveraux and I absolutely fell in love with the Montgomery men. I had to have been ten at the time and I was absolutely in love. Probably the reason I’ve always liked the tall, dark and handsome types can be traced back to Jude Deveraux. If I ever get a chance to meet her I will make an ass out of myself. It will be my “I’m not worthy” moment.

Possibly the reason I enjoy writing series with interwoven elements is because of my hero Jude Deveraux. Each of my manuscripts contains extensive family trees and characters which tend to pop up in other peoples stories. I love this about Jude Deveraux’s work. I just love it. I like weaving a braid when writing a story. I love the subtle thread that appears here and then there. That moment when reading and the passing stranger is really that other character from another book.

I am unapologetic about loving writing romance. I love what I do.