Mar 292012

‘Well, who’d want to hire a crappy writer’, I want to scream at these ads I read on or craigslist, on just about everywhere else. Like you I search the boards, get email updates for writing work, I am out and about hustling my freelancing ass to the far corners of the globe trying to find decent paying gigs (or even just gigs that pay) as I live the dream of being a writer. And I don’t care if you are penning SEO content (which I do a lot of the time) or writing anything else for hire, you want to be paid a decent wage, doncha?

But I see jobs for ridiculously low pay on highly respected writing boards all the time! And all anybody ever wants is to hire a good writer, someone well-versed in exactly the kind of writing an employer needs, but that employer is not willing to pay the right amount of money, they expect samples (and we all know what that means…they cull a bunch of free samples from a bunch of writers, gather all the content they need and never hire a writer) and they don’t understand why they have to keep posting!

Here’s my quick and easy take: You went and hired whomever you hired or at the very least took the time to create your website (and granted that can be done easily these days in wordpress and the like) but still it cost you time, effort and consideration, right? Why cheap-out and pay so little for a writer to create content (SEO or otherwise) that could literally make or break your website. And I double dog guarantee you if you do cheap-out you are going to get what you pay for as most writers worth anything know what they are worth (give or take) and will charge accordingly and will work with a client to bring in quality work for a budget. Our work is our resume after all and we want to do lots of it, well, but get paid a fair wage.

So, while you might be a good writer and clients might be looking for good writers beware….not so many are ready to pay a good price for good writing.

Mar 242012

Like bestiality—and unlike underage sexuality—incest is a tough nut: it’s not something you might accidentally insert into an erotic story. Also like bestiality, it’s something that can definitely push—if not slam—the buttons of an editor or publisher. Yet, as with all of these “sins,” the rules are not as set in stone as you’d think. Hell, I even managed to not only write and sell an incest story (“Spike,” which is the lead story in Dirty Words) but it also ended up in Best Gay Erotica. The trick, and with any of these erotic button-pushers, is context. In the case of “Spike” I took a humorous, surreal take on brother/brother sexuality, depicting a pair of twin punks who share and share alike sexually, until their world is shattered (and expanded) by some rough S/M play.

As with any of the “sins,” a story that deals with incest in a thought- provoking or sideways humorous manner might not scream at an editor or publisher I’M AN INCEST STORY. Instead, it will come across as humorous or thought-provoking first, and as a tale dealing with incest second. Still, once it comes to light, there’s always a chance the story might still scream a bit, but if you’re a skilled writer telling an interesting story, there’s still a chance quality could win over the theme.

Unlike bestiality, incest has very, very few stretches (like aliens and myths with bestiality). It’s very hard to stumble into incest. In short, you’re related or you’re not. As far as degree of relationship, that depends on the story and the intent: immediate family relations are damned tough to deal with, but first cousins fooling around behind the barn are quite another.

Even though incest is pretty damned apparent in a story, that doesn’t mean the theme or the subtext can’t be touched on. Sometimes the forbidden or the unexpected lying under the surface can add depth to a story: a brother being protective of his attractive sister, a mother shopping for a date for a daughter, a father trying to steer his son’s sexuality, a daughter’s sexual explorations alarming (and enticing) a mother or father’s fantasies, and so forth. Technically, some of these dip into incest, if not the act then at least the territory, but if handled well they can add an interesting facet to an otherwise mundane story. It’s a theme that’s also been played with, successfully, for centuries. Even the myth of Pygmalion—a sculptor falling in love with his creation—can almost be considered a story of incest, as the artist was a parent, then a lover.

Conversely, incest can dull a situation when the emotions of the lovers involved become turned: as an example, where a person begins to feel more of a caregiver or mentor than a partner: the thought or even fantasies around sexuality with the person being cared-for or taught start to feel inappropriate. Conversely, someone might enjoy the forbidden spice of feeling sexual towards someone they’ve only thought of as a son or daughter, mother or father figure. This is also an old plaything for storytellers, the most common being a person looking for a partner to replace the strength and nurturing left behind when they grew up and moved out—or, from the new partner’s point of view, the shock in realizing they have been selected to fulfill that role.

As with any of these “sins,” fantasy can be a factor in being able to play with these themes. Having a character imagine making love to their mom (shudder) is in many editors or publishers eyes the same thing as actually doing it—but accepting and using the theme in, say, play-acting, where the reality is separated because the participants aren’t related in any way, is more acceptable. As with under-age play, S/M and dominance and submission games can also use incest as a spice or forbidden theme—especially in infantilism games, where one person pretends to be an abusive or nurturing parental figure. Once again, play versus reality (even imagined reality) can work where normally no one would dare tread.

The bottom line, of course, is whether or not the story is using this theme in an interesting or thought-provoking way, or just as a cheap shot. If you have any questions, either try and look at the story with a neutral eye, or ask a friend you respect for their opinion. But I wouldn’t ask your parents.

Mar 182012

Images copywright by owner, NOT writesex

The biggest thing authors, both old and new, have to deal with is growing your audience.  If you’re old guard and established, take a look at your career level and ask yourself if you’re comfortable with where you’re at or if you’d like more growth.  By this I mean do you wish to expand your audience (and your royalty check) and make a bigger name for yourself?

If you’re just starting out, can you grow your audience quickly?

Well, yes and no.  The biggest challenge any author I know has is trying to figure out how to expand their readership without resorting to practically giving away the product.  I’ll never support the artist mentality of being poor, broke, starving, sober and happy.  It doesn’t pay the bills.  But what does?

We’ve covered enough plotting and scene structure of a story, plus a plethora of other things in this blog to date that should help the author write solid marketable stories.  Jean Marie has covered the factors that make an author successful from an erotic publisher’s standpoint and we’ve gone over other aspects of craft.  By now you can write a story, novella or novel that a publisher should consider buying.  But the biggest mistake most authors make in marketing their sold products is in how they go about marketing.

From a typical author’s standpoint, there are the following options:

  • Online chats
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Blogging and Blog Tours
  • Business cards
  • Convention attendance

Online chats tend to be a waste of time, social media is a skill many do not possess, blogging and blog tours require tons of time spent writing posts that balance the close of a sale and the content management designed to keep readership up, BUT done successfully they work.

The last two require an outpouring of funds from the author, which is not always a smart move since it doesn’t make financial sense. If you’re talking about a low level convention such as last year’s Erotic Author’s Association Convention in Las Vegas, we’re talking air fare, hotel fare, convention fare (they stupidly didn’t wave fees for their speakers) and food.  If it’s a more upscale and established convention like RWA Nationals, we’re talking hundreds of dollars if not more for just air fare and hotel PLUS convention fees.  At least the folks at EAA kept the entrance fee fairly accessible.

If your royalties don’t justify going, then don’t.  MONEY FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR, NOT AWAY.  This is why I’m so against self publishing, because from a financial standpoint it makes NO sense.  Yes there are exceptions, but they’re rare. It may not be about who has the most money at the end of their career but how much does it suck to know that nice $500 royalty check you made last month got sucked in one fell swoop by a convention that historically proves a low return for authors?

So what IS the secret for growing your audience?

I hesitate to reveal it because it really is THAT simple.  Most people can’t grasp simple ideas, they seem “too easy.”

In an earlier post by Jean Marie Stine, she talked about reusing content across multiple sites and publishers, thus maximizing your income and keeping your time spent in proportion to monies earned.  Yes this isn’t so easy to do with novels and novellas but short stories are what attract the reader to you initially.  In the same vein, aren’t you writing short stories or taking your characters from the worlds you’ve created and writing short stories featuring them?  If so, the free erotic story markets are your friend.

Madison’s Cure and Other Erotica

Readers on sites like are voracious, many of them come back to the site to check it multiple times a day.  Their favorite author or authors may have thrown up a new story, a new chapter, a continuation of some sort or who knows!  The stats speak for themselves however.  In the first month I posted a short story from Madison’s Cure and Other Erotica: A Best Of and found myself with 23,000 hits on that story.  I followed up with a few more short stories and learned better the tricks for keywording a story to draw the attention of the reader.  This taught me how to write better promo blurbs for when I had later stories published.

The point is, using the simple tricks to avoid spending money while improving time spent will over the course of your career help grow your name.

Mar 082012

What’s on your to do list to getting noticed…

Writers just want to write

Few of us want to promote

Or to be in the limelight

We certainly don’t want to sell

But in order to get the public to buy your book

You either have to be very lucky

Or you have to get off your butt and sell yourself



Do you have a list

A timeline

An idea of how to make you, and your work viral

Have you studied what it takes

Have you enlisted the help of a publicist or a group of friends

Or do you sit in your room

Typing madly for hours

Pounding out prose

Hearts and hurts across a digital screen and block the idea that it needs to be hawked


There are a lot of ways to get noticed

Keep a blog

Get friends to review your book

Get reviewers and website owners to review your books

Have contests

Go to book signings

Put up book trailers

Post it on social media sites

Get someone –even yourself to say something horrible about it an get another to defend it, praise it

Create controversy

Do internet radio talk interviews

Put up a podcast

Go to book readings

Put out a postcard mailing

Do a mail chimp mailing

Put up band like posters all over town

Put flyers on cars at walmart

Stage an outrageous performance act skit  that drives people to a book signing

Leave torn pieces of your story – the juicy parts in bars and nightclubs with the url for people to find more

Or if you can afford it have them txt a number for the url



What ways can you come up with to get the word out??





 Posted by at 9:53 pm
Mar 012012

Every Author has an idea of what their image should be. Some are so perfect and careful about it, they have no image for the readers to connect with. Others are rebellious and insist on shocking first then wondering what they have so few fans or followers. It’s kind of like that line in the film Bull Durham, where baseball catcher, Crash Davis, comments on the fact that his astoundingly talented minor league pitcher is basically …

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

Okay, authors, let’s talk about your image. Please.

No Facebook or Twitter avatars your mother would be embarrassed to see. No pictures of your dog or cat cleaning itself. No photos of you drunk at a club, whooping it up. You’re an author and should be aware of your image. This doesn’t require a professional photo session with an expensive photographer, just a nice picture of you, clean and neat. We don’t need to see you working hard at the computer or appearing overly serious. You can show your personality, smile, enjoy the moment. Just remember, literary agents, publishers, other authors and your prospective book buyers are looking at that avatar. Are you really proud of it?          

If you prefer not to use a photo of yourself, your book cover is a good option. No book cover yet? Use an image that represents your book until you have one.

And one final suggestion, please don’t change your avatar picture more than once a year. It’s how your friends and followers recognize you. Don’t confuse us.

No matter what you write or who your audience is … YOU are a professional. You’re an author, be proud of it.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #7, Marketing.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power within your Manuscript” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

Deborah Riley-Magnus

The Author Success Coach