Sascha Illyvich

Aug 292013

Hello longtime readers and supporters!

In the previous few months we’ve been trying to hold onto a semblance of normalcy at WriteSEX, I’ve sold a novel to Red Sage (and possibly a series) had one book come out from Sizzler Editions and be listed by USA TODAY as a Recommended Read, and then sold a six book series to Secret Cravings Publishing.  All those covers are featured here by the way.  The thing about the six book series is that the first three books are written.  The last three….well… I have to make a ton of time for all that.  The second book I’m pitching to Red Sage is also written and under consideration and the third book will be on their desk before year’s end.

The folks at Decadent publishing are asking me to promote more, which means spending more time blogging at other sites to get covers and blurbs out to more readers.  Expansion is key in any business if you want to make money, which I do.  This has always been a business labor of love for me, meaning I’m doing this because I love it and can make a decent living from it.  Yet it’s not easy and it IS time consuming.  Requires a lot of dedication, which we’ve talked about in previous posts.

This has left me with little time to do much else other than promote myself, which brings me to the bit of sadness here at WriteSEX.

With great regret, I’m leaving the site and handing it over to the capable hands of Jean Marie Stine, publisher at Sizzler Editions who has contributed frequently over the last three years.  The main reason this change is occurring has to do with my hectic writing schedule and lack of time to maintain the site, let alone get content updated as often as we once were.

The biggest change you’ll probably notice will be some new faces to the site who contribute twice a week.  Yes, we’ll still be the premier site for the business of Erotica but WriteSEX has outlived the purpose it served me initially in that it was part of an author platform.  My own career is shifting away from definite erotica and into more mainstream media (romance) and while I don’t mind being tied to the erotica world, I’ve never been exclusively an erotica author.  My dreams have always gone toward romance in a variety of genres, as that makes me happy.

Yes, I will still contribute here but turning the reigns over to someone with as much experience as Jean Marie Stine makes sense as it will allow the site to grow, the reader base to grow and for those of you who have chosen this path as your career, this site will remain a large part hopefully in your toolbox of writer tricks and tips.  After serious consideration, Stine was the only choice I could have made when it came to letting my baby (and a part of my author platform) go so I could free up more time for writing and the personal changes I’m about to make.

There will be classes taught and of course you can find our panels often at DragonCON and Frolicon, among other conventions I’ll be at next year.  (In fact, this post went live the day I left for Atlanta, so be sure to stop by our WriteSEX panel, Saturday 10 PM Hilton 201!)

RE: those personal changes include moving across the country to live with my mentor, Morgan Hawke for a few months while we fill up my writer’s imagination and I dive angry.

It’s been a definite pleasure to share my experiences with you, loyal readers.


Jul 052013

Yeah, it’s going to be an odd bit of updating for us for awhile as we decide where to cut the fat out of our careers but until then I’m sliding in for a post about cover art and promotion.

That’s right, the dreaded P word in erotica/romance is one that halts all authors, makes us all cringe (even badasses like me) because OH NOEZ, we can’t just write the book,  we have to promote it.

I’ve been speaking with other publishers and editors plus taking cues from what’s selling in fiction and WHY it’s selling.  According to a blog post I read at The Writing Bomb, it’s still possible to make a ton of money using Amazon’s KDP program as there are only three obstacles to a reader buying your book.

  1. Price
  3. blurb

We’re focusing on one of the two things we can control.  Cover art.  I’ve already stated that authors aren’t the best judge of character for cover designs, which is why self publishing is a bad idea.  Writers write. Artists art.

Repeat after me.

Writers write.
Artists art.

What this means is that the author hasn’t always the best judge of a cover, BUT that cover does become part of their overall branding.  Let me give you an example using the covers for two of my Decadent Publishing books:

And we’ll go with the other cover I like a lot over there, Surrender to Love:  The two covers have a very similar feel, noting image-wise that the books aren’t overly heavy stories like a lot of my other work, but they also reveal the style and tone of the book.  Both stories are actually BDSM stories, albeit light kink is used, and the covers tell us that.

The folks at Decadent would LOVE for me to spread the covers around along with a myriad of various blog posts and Q/A (which I’ve happily done) because let’s face it, they ARE part of my image.

Also, though, and this reinforces image (bad boy, etc) is the cover for my newest release “Torn to Pieces.”  Another paranormal story, another menage.  The cover reflect that as does the cover for my Red Sage release (due out next year).    For the cover of ENDANGERED, I flat out told the artist “ I don’t actually care enough to stifle the artist’s knowledge.  I’m a writer, not a cover artist. 

I stand by that statement, so she came up with a concept that turned into the art you see in this post.  I’m pretty thrilled actually.  Given what else I’d said about the cover, she nailed the idea and it took some getting used to because the story itself isn’t a light hearted romance but rather a dark one.  So dark in fact that one of my big name friends found herself unable to read the book as it messed with her head.

Somehow I felt validated by this.

Anyway, the grand point I’m making about cover art is that publishing is a numbers game just like many other careers and the more people who see your cover and enjoy it, the more potential for sales you’ll have.  And remember, it IS part of your image, that sexy cover art.  OH, and make sure you have your art on your site!

Jun 062013

June 29th -  2 PM PST -

Pitch your sexual fiction & nonfiction.  Ask your writing & publishing questions

  • Our target markets
  • How you can write for us
  • What we’re looking for
  • How to format, submit and get published

Three Sizzler Ediotions editors will discuss

Writing erotica

M. Christian, Senior Editor, author of over 300 short stories, seven  novels,  and two dozen anthologies

Erotic Romance

Sascha llyvich, Romance Editor, award winning erotic romance author and anthologist

Publishing and non-fiction

Jean Marie Stine, Publisher,  author/anthologist/journalist, 3 novels, 7 anthologies, two collections. over 200 stories and articles

20 minute presentation – then our editors will take your questions

Jean Marie Stine has been running Sizzler Editions since 2000, publishing only the highest quality erotica under the Sizzler Editions imprints, along with the PageTurner division for mainstream and non erotic fiction/nonfiction.

All three editors are contributors to WriteSEX - The highly popular site dedicated to teaching about the business of publishing/writing erotica.

May 022013

One of the things I promised we’d cover at WriteSEX has to do with knowing your story vs. the actual story being told.  In every novel there’s what the writer wants the world to see and what the story is really about.

We write a book or story and think it’s about one thing, when it turns out it’s really about something deeper.  Each well written novel has a point it’s trying to prove, an ISSUE based on a PREMISE.

Knowing the difference can make synopsis writing and selling the book/story MUCH easier.  Let me illustrate this with an example from my career:

My recent sale to Red Sage required me to fill out standard author paperwork.  This paperwork though, unlike most places I’d been published before required me to understand and know my marketing plans for the book, and thus rework my original synopsis and cover letter.  It asked me to dig deeper, and be a tighter writer just so they could sell the book to their audience, which is the ultimate goal.

Endangered is essentially a story about overcoming addiction through love, through support while learning how to deal with the harsh reality surrounding the major characters.  Each one portrays some aspect of the core ISSUE in one way or another, as it happens around the plot.  Josef is the clearly obvious addict, swearing allegiance to the bottle and the dragon while Isabella seems addicted to her logic.  The problem with that logic is that it can’t fight the bond growing between her and Josef, except there’s still the issue of her lover, Livia.

Livia’s addiction is…well you’ll have to read the book.  but when I wrote and tried to sell this story in the first place, I wasn’t telling the story from the point of what ISSUE was being addressed.

I simply thought this book was a paranormal menage story involving three characters.   Since I knew the core issue of the story, I knew the plot and could write it quickly.  Coming up with the reworked details Red Sage wanted took some serious time – time I could have spent working on the next book.  It’s my fault for not really looking at the marketing aspect of this story from a wider perspective.

Had a similar conversation with Margie Church about the Razor series she and KB Cutter have written for Sizzler Editions.  Love’s Storm just came out but while we were all crafting the blurb I kept telling Margie to make the blurb pithy and find out what the core issue of the story was – This is something Morgan Hawke taught me but I took my sweet time learning.

Razor is a love story with a point to prove.  As the editor, I’d say the point is “Polyamory is a different type of love, one that requires a lot of work and trust, but does exist.”

Margie will have a better version of that if she comments.

We’ll cover Premise next time I have the blog.

Apr 252013
Bound After Midnight - Paranormal Erotic RomanceSizzler Editions, a/the premier publisher of erotic eBooks since 1998, announces a new site for erotic literature junkies to access their catalog of 1500 titles, []
Built on a new, more flexible, platform with additional layers of subcategories, the new Sizzler Editions site features the ability to find related books by theme and series. Next to each book cover, readers will see convenient tabs featuring the book’s description, direct purchase links and other information. The updated site also incorporates video trailers for featured Sizzler Edition titles, and expanded Author bio pages.
Of the new site, Publisher Jean Marie Stine says, “Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that we no longer host and sell books ourselves. Readers will instead find a links, which take them directly to a book’s Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks page.
“At the redesigned Sizzler Editions site, readers can not only easily find  the book they like, but they can buy it from their preferred vendor in a new tab  and have it downloaded instantly into their ebook reading device without ever leaving the Sizzler Editions site.  It’s a win-win for both readers and for us!” 

Stine reveals that the site is continuing to add improvements above and beyond the update unveiled April 2, 2013. “The new site is still very much a work in progress. We will add audio interviews with our authors, include even more features to enhance the visitor’s search experience and more titles from new erotic authors are always being added to our catalog!”Debut releases at the new site include bestselling bondage author, Powerone’s new Cold War spy shocker, Slave of the Kremlin, two novellas of paranormal romance by Sarah Bella, author of Bound by Blood, and a first-ever collection of Herotica editor Marcy Sheiner’s stories, Love & Other Illusions. Also scheduled for release in the coming weeks are Love’s Storm by Margie Church and K. B. Cutter, the second installment of their controversial trilogy about polyamory, plus a new collection of erotic science fiction stories, Skin Effect, by M. Christian. Coming soon to Sizzler Editions are the first of three books books by sexologist Amy Marsh reporting back on Love’s Outer Limits, and new books by Terri Pray, David Jewell and other bestselling authors.

Bookmark now, and start exploring the new features rolled out in the first phase of the update, and  be sure to come back for the official grand reopening on May 1st, when there will be free eBooks, special prizes and other delights.
About Sizzler Editions:
Sizzler Editions is one of the leading ebook publishers of erotica on the internet. Sizzler issued their first ebooks in 1998, and since that time have published over 1500 ebooks books. As of 2013, Sizzler Editions has more than 1,300 erotic ebooks available for sale, and a growing list of new titles.
Sizzler Editions prides itself on presenting the finest in erotica for every sexual interest and orientation. Sizzler Editions imprints include Intoxication (Erotic Romance), Submission (Bondage and BDSM), Attraction (GLBT Erotica), Scorcher (Hot & Hetero), Hot Flash (Short & Collections), Encounter (SciFi and Fantasy), Sexerience (Nonfiction), HerSelf (Women’s Erotica), Platinum (All-Time Best Sellers), Victoria (Erotic Classics), Bounty (Bargain Omnibuses), and Thrill (Mystery & Adventure).

Sascha Illyvich
Editor – Intoxication line:  Erotic Romance

Sizzler Editions
2930 Shattuck Ave. Suite 200-13
Berkeley CA 94705
Mar 282013

During the changing tides in publishing, a lot of questions abound as to how to get published, what to do, do you need an agent or not?

Today we’re going to focus a little more on career oriented information.  Let’s state the facts first.

  • FACT: Writing is a very lonely process, putting the writer at will with his/her own mind in a room alone until such time the writer can return to reality.
  • FACT: Publishing isn’t an easy business to navigate, which is why you’re reading sites like WriteSEX
  • FACT: Serious authors know when the time to move up in their career be it for money or whatever, they need a team.
  • FACT:  You alone are responsible for your success or lack thereof. 

An agent can be part of that team.  Let’s be clear, not all agents are created equal, but with any group of similar things, there will be bad apples and good apples.  I’d like to believe the majority of agents have the author’s best interest in mind as it helps not just the author, but the agent’s bottom line.

Let’s be clear.  If you’re in publishing and taking your career seriously you know you’re in it for money.  The RIGHT Agent can help with that.  But it’s not just the money end of things they’re good with.  The relationship is a give and take.  Let me start with an example from last year.

I’d been busting my ass all year with less than stellar results (thanks Amazon) in sales and was offered a temporary editing gig that could become permanent.  As an editor for Sizzler, I do all right, getting paid faster due to my quick turnaround on books.  It dawned on me I’d do better if I quit writing, left the reader groups I’d become so beloved on, and just focused solely on editing.

I called my agent to have her stop me from my stupidity.  She did.  On numerous occasions both Saritza and Marisa have stopped me from doing dumb, career ending things because they believe in my career and in ME.  And it’s not a bottom line thing, either.  Yes, that’s part of it but the fit here is that I respect their firsthand knowledge of something I’d have to get second hand.  Numerous times that will happen, things change, authors change, grow, setbacks occur.   The agent can guide the author out of the maelstrom.

I respect the skill sets they possess and that’s important.  Yes, I will learn the things they have to teach me, but at a much slower pace, and at a pace that takes time away from my writing.

What creative people often forget is that making money is a team sport.  Yes you can go it alone, yes you can struggle, learn the lessons, become the best writer of your genre with the most knowledge but if you make a lot of money it’ll be over a longer period than if you have someone who can help you accelerate and learn certain lessons faster.

Erotica is no different.  Yes, our fun is a little more hands on (heh) but it’s still publishing.  The agent who knows how to navigate the options, knows how to help you steer your career toward your goals.

It behooves the author to make choices with their career that help further his goals.  Understanding how to help your agent help you will only benefit you further.   Stubborn authors may get ahead but the slow path isn’t one I’d like to be on.

Yes there are horror stories.  Covered that above.  There’s a plethora of authors who made bad decisions because they didn’t think tings through or have clarity.  There are also a number of unscrupulous agents as in any industry.  Sometimes the two pair, sometimes they don’t.

The changing face of the industry, with publishers going under, Amazon being Amazon, new opportunities coming up, new trends popping up, it all becomes madness that makes writing, the very thing we want to do, difficult.  Why not go with a guide, someone whose job it is to navigate and explain options, thus allowing you clarity in your career?

The more I can help my agents to help me, the further and faster we’ll all get ahead.

As with anything though, nothing worth having is worth having without work.  Writing erotica, or otherwise for a career choice is no different.

Mar 202013

We had a bit of a snafu with the original site and while that sucks we lost, (we may try to buy it back in the future) the WriteSEX site still lives on, continuing our mission of providing you with quality information on the business of erotica, publishing, writing or otherwise.

This site will be fully up to date before next week, as I leave for Frolicon.  We have a panel there first and foremost, plus a lot of ground to cover by our talented authors in their absence.

Topics I plan to cover when my slot is up:

  • The Agent/Author relationship
  • Deeper POV in sex
  • Knowing your story and THE story – The key difference in writing the synopsis and blurb
  • Crafting the Synopsis that Sells (and that editors like)
  • Leveling up (or when it’s time to take your career to the next level)
  • And many more.

I’m pondering adding the RSS feeds from Chris and Thomas, will definitely add the one from Deborah Riley Magnus to help you all.  She’s presenting some exciting opportunities for serious authors.

The audio from DragonCONs past will be throw back up too.

Rotation will start next Thursday, March 28th.  I’ll be in Atlanta, but the post will be up by then along with some of the site features restored!

On behalf of the WriteSEX team, welcome back!

Jan 102013

Hello and happy new year, readers.

We at the WriteSEX blog have been excited to continue bringing you viable information on the ever so relevant topic of publishing erotica.  As experts we strive for perfection in our art, knowing that all we can truly do is improve upon the previous day’s work.

There will be a few new updates to the site overall, I have only to make the time!

What I’m going to cover today has more to do with reflections and advice for the erotic author.  Yes, I know I gave some advice some time back and it was well read but talking to a few other authors has prompted me to reiterate and add to the previous sage wisdom I’ve posted.

Starting out as an author 13 years ago, I was young, naive, foul mouthed and strongly opinionated.  About everything.

And when I took flack for my writing choice, I had an opinion too.

When I took rejections (yeah, they did happen from time to time) I took them gracefully to the person rejecting me, but I had a tendency to blast the party in question on public loops.

Or worse, I’d whine.  Not like, inner pain, demons tormenting me, whining. That’s valid :P

But “woe is me, the publishing industry sucks…yadda yadda.”

It’s never that an author is unjustified in their feelings (well, sort of) but rather, the feelings need not be displayed because of appearances. There was a story I used to tell about my daily drinking habit vs. those of a lot of the others in publishing and it goes like this:

I drink daily.  Usually 4 a day and it’s mostly wine and whiskey and no more.  Yeah, I spread it out and have food and if I miss a drink big deal.  But I’m consistent.  At conventions, this is obviously not always the case, but the difference is in how my peers act after two or three.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and not get drunk and say stupid things while some of my peers run their mouths and speak things we’re all thinking.

Being drunk isn’t bad, the appearance of unprofessionalism and the inability to remain a publishing professional is.  I’m not advocating a drinking hobby, mind you.  I AM suggesting you as an author remain in control at all times.

Getting negative reviews is similar, as the new author is prone to not having a thick enough skin to let things roll off their shoulders. We all get bad reviews.  Some of us know to let those reviews fuel our career to a new place where our writing grows.

Others know how to blast the big magazines whose competition for quality reviews is enormous and may often be chosen by advertising dollars small press might not have access to.

What Oceania, Christian, Thomas, Jean Marie, Debbie and I have been stressing overall is that you press on if you want this to be a lucrative business.



Dec 242012

It’s been a pretty productive year so far.

Have you made any of your goals?  I have learned a new level of patience thanks to both my agents.  DragonCON, Frolicon, teaching Male POV LIVE, hanging with writer friends, getting out new releases and re-covering old ones…it’s been a long year but a prosperous one.

Hopefully we’ll get more of the last few months worth of posts put up in audio once I revamp the blog a little.  There will be some changes but only beneficial ones as we practice the art of Kai Zen–continuous self improvement, in the desire to bring you the best content we can.

Fr0m all of us at WriteSEX, we wish you a happy and joyous season followed by a prosperous new year.

We’ll be on hiatus from December 17th-Jan 10th.  We’ll be back strong with my first post of the year, followed by M. Christian, Jean Marie Stine, Thomas Roche, then finishing up with Deborah Riley Magnus before starting all over again.


Dec 062012

It would be impossible to over emphasize the importance of the blurb for your book in its success, or the importance of certain key elements and ways of thinking to the success of the blurb.

When it comes to selling a book to the 87 readers out of 100 who rarely visit book review sites, are not compulsive blog readers, and who will learn of a book only when they visit, for example, Amazon, go to their favorite category, and encounter a thumbnail of the book cover and the blurb for the first time. To this group the cover and the blurb are almost the publisher’s only marketing tools.

The cover’s purpose, really its only purpose, is not to illustrate a scene from the book (scenes often make poor covers from the eye-arresting and sales perspective, and a reader can only know it is a scene after something else makes them want read the book). The cover’s purpose is to rivet the reader’s attention and make them want to read the blurb (if they don’t do that, they are a lost potential sale).  In that sense, covers are not only a marketing tool, but perhaps the book’s most important single marketing tool, and must be designed with marketing as their purpose and goal.

The first thing I had drilled into me about blurbs is that a blurb should open with “hook” that grabs the reader’s interest immediately and simultaneously encapsulates the book’s theme. It should not open with just a description of the character: “Mary was a single mother who worked in advertising where she was a success.” – kind of thing. But a provocative, curiosity stirring, attention getting statement or question. One technique is the challenging question. “Did he plan to to marry her – or murder her.” Another technique is a tantalizing summary of the book’s core situation: “A competition spirals into a tantalizing game of bondage and seduction…” “When a California dyke meets a lesbian from India, sparks fly!” Another very effective technique, which attracts perhaps the largest number of people to look at a book, is to cite a bestselling book, author, movie or tv show with a wide audience which is looking for more of the same: “Fans of Terry Goodkind will love this new urban fantasy novel.” “People who loved Star Trek, DS9 will thrill to this new saga of an almost forgotten space station caught on the crossfire of two warring empires.” etc.

Then for the body of the blurb. It was drilled into me (and from the blurbs i found on the backs of recent paperback bestsellers I have read this is still the practice) that the blurb should be as personalized as possible and tell the story from the pov of the protagonist in such a way as to create sympathy for and identification with or curiosity about the protagonist/s, while making their situation compelling; and that and each sentence of the blurb should deepen the specifics of that story, focusing on the situation and feelings of that character (or when multiple characters, maybe a sentence or two for each character and the essence of their story). In short it should make the book sound so appetizing that the reader’s mental mouth waters to read it and they can’t resist clicking the Buy button.

The following are examples from the first two paperbacks I pulled off my shelf, there are hundreds more like them on my office shelf.

Blurb for Harlequin’s Montana Legend: “Happily ever after wasn’t too much to wish for! Young widow Sarah Redding swore that if Providence sent her another man to love, he would definitely have to love her back. Then into her life rode Gage Gatlin, a rugged jewel of a man who could offer her everything—except his heart! Gage knew Love was a fairy tale. But devotion and desire—those were things he knew he could build a life around. One he could share with Sarah Redding, a woman practical yet passionate, caring to both of their daughters, a; woman he wanted forever. If only she didn’t want love.”

From Kathy Reichs’ Deja Dead: “Her life is devoted to justice—for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern—and  she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her—her best friend and her own daughter—in mortal danger….”

Now let’s construct a blurb with these guidelines in mind.

Don’t start with the character’s history, and then get to the story. Start with the emotion or conflict. Don’t write: Jo was a widow with a farm. Frank worked for a land development company seeking to build luxury townhouses. When they met sparks flew.” Instead, start this way: “Sparks flew when Jo a widow with a farm finds herself up against Frank, a land developer who wants her farm for a luxury development.”

Keep the focus on the characters. “Jo wouldn’t admit to herself that she was attracted to Frank until she found herself in bed with him for a night of amazing sex.”

Stay with her, keep the focus on the protagonist (hero or heroine). “She fled the next morning and refused to see him or answer his calls or email.”

Take us to a turning point for drama: “But as he lay in a coma in a hospital, victim of a vicious attack by thugs hired by a rival development company, Jo realized she truly loved him.”

Then conclude on a cliff-hanging note of suspense: “Yet she knew that if Frank recovered, his job would still be to destroy everything she loved.”