Apr 242012

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 fans 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 writerchef@sbcglobal.net 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 Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony


Apr 202012

I’m wearing my editor hat for this post.

When an author starts to acquire publishing credits, the first thing an agent, new editor or someone with power will do is look for the author’s press kit.  We need to know what you’ve done, how you’ve done it and what that’s done for your career.  It m ay seem a little old fashioned, but the importance of an author press kit cannot be emphasized enough.

Let’s break down the press kit.

For any author, the following documents should be present:

  • 1Page – the one page that you hand out at conventions and send to organizations you approach for teaching/speaking engagements
  • Backlist – Your complete, up to date back list of publishing credits, books released
  • A professional photo – No stupid shit poses please. You’re putting your best face forward
  • Covers of last three releases
  • 3rd person author bio

That’s it!  It should also be zipped in .zip or .rar format and easily found on your website.

Yes, social media and web 2.0 make it easier for any editor to google you and find your results but you’re not doing this for me, the editor.  Not entirely.  You’re doing this because even as a smut writer, you’re still a professional.  You’re still looking at this from a career standpoint and coming off as someone who takes their career seriously will differentiate you from the others in your field who don’t do these simple things.

The 1 Page and back list come in handy often when you’re doing promotions by the way.  The back list comes in handy when your readers ask what else you’ve done or where you’ve been published and.  Giving you a quick reference makes it easier to make a quick sale when you can pull up a file, copy and paste a link or send in an email.

The author bio is obvious, a short, 100 word or less bio of who you are that includes recent publishing credits and facts about you.  Mine is up at Sascha’s Secrets.

The 1Page is a document that shows overall accomplishments in your career.  WriteSEX contributor M. Christian and I use a dual column layout that details basics such as the facts.  I’m an author of X amount of stories (btw 39 for me!) and beneath it, editing credits, WriteSEX credits, teaching gigs, what I can do for you and finally, some reader accolades.

What if you’re lacking in credits? Look, really look, at your career and what you’ve done.  Have you freelance edited for someone else?  That counts.  Do you have anything in your author platform you can utilize? Put that down.

The Press Kit is the one staple that helps you more than you think.

Oceania will hopefully return soon to WriteSEX but in the meantime, we have exciting changes coming up on the blog. 

Apr 132012

Sensuality is critical in erotica, but what does sensuality really mean? For most readers, when it comes to erotica, it means touch. I left off talking about touch until late in my series on “the senses” because it’s the sense that most people think about when thinking about erotic fiction.

It’s also the most difficult for me to write about, believe it or not. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it.

All erotica is about people touching. Sometimes it might be about people touching themselves. Sometimes the touch might not be physical — for instance, an erotic story about a man watching a stripper onstage could be hugely erotic. You need look no further than the film Tom Jones to see a complete sexual activity involving nothing but eating. In some cases (say, chastity or tease-and-denial erotica) the refusal of the physical touch takes on an emotional-erotic meaning, but even when it’s not touching it’s still about touching.

So how does the erotic writer describe touch? I’ve always struggled with this. We’re a largely body-negative culture — while still being totally obsessed with the body. We have lots of language for visual stimuli, for sounds, even for smells. Body talk is a little bit taboo.

That means that describing physical experience within the body — as opposed to action or activity — can be more difficult than describing things experienced with other senses.

Let me back up here — because I think there’s an important point to be made before we talk about “how to do it.” Above, I’ve been talking in absolutes — I’ve been saying “how does the erotic writer describe touch” and “we have a visual language.” I’ve been talking in generalities — including the whole universe of humanity in my bold statements.

That’s probably because it’s easier to be God than to be a person — why else would anyone want to be a writer?

So maybe a better way to think about describing touch in my erotic writing is this: Why is it useful?

Describing touch is useful in my erotic writing for basically the same reason it’s useful in any of my other kinds of writing — horror, science fiction, crime:

  • When I write about how something feels physically, I place myself mentally in the body of the character feeling it.
  • When the reader reads about how something feels physically — if that writing works — then the reader is mentally in the body of the character feeling it.

When the reader is within the character’s experience as wholly as possible, they are getting what they came for.

I like to think about it this way — people don’t arrive at my writing because they want me to tell them a story. They don’t even — to use an old-school journalism dichotomy — want me to show them a story. They want to be in my story. They want to experience it. That’s why I write — not because I have something I want to say, but because I want to get the fuck out of my own head. How weird is it that I use something as brain-centric as writing to get myself in my body — or, more accurately, in someone else’s body? But that’s the way I experience most wholly — when I’m transported, utterly.

Joseph Campbell put it the best I’ve ever heard anyone put it. He wasn’t talking about writing, but religious experience. But it’s just as brilliant a statement on storytelling:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.”

–Joseph Campbell

I’d go so far as to say that if Campbell’s comment was on religious experience, which in its cheapest form (in my opinion) looks for a meaning for life, then it’s worth transferring the same observation to the context of writing: They say what people are looking for is the meaning of your book — what is it about — but but what they’re looking for in your book is the experience of being alive. What does it feel like to be there?

In erotica, more than in any other kind of fiction, the experience of being touched and of touching — things as well as people — is critical to that transformation of reader into experiencer.

Focusing on touch can be a fantastic way of bringing the reader into the moment. But I find my language for how bodies feel is too often insufficient. I struggle to find the words to describe the physical sensation of an erotic experience. I find myself using the same words over and over again…which is fine; if the words work, use them. But often I hit the thesaurus or go to wordlists and other peoples’ blog posts to find words for a physical-touch experience that I just can’t describe, even though I’ve imagined it concretely.

I’m trying to translate an imagined sensation into words so that it can be translated back into the same imagined sensation in a reader’s mind.

I mean…WTF? Is that bass-ackwards or what? And what is this “language is insufficient” shit? Who am I, Jodi Foster in Contact?

Nine times out of ten, I struggle to find that physical experience within myself to describe it. But then, maybe 10% of the time, it just comes rolling out — and then, the words are beautiful, the writing effortless. I wish it could be that way more often.

But for me, it’s worth writing 9 stories to find the one that really transforms me through physical experience.

If describing touch isn’t easy for me, my guess is it isn’t easy for you. And if it is easy for you — you’re a very lucky writer. I believe that firsthand physical experience is the primary thing readers of erotica are seeking. They may rarely get it, and may satisfy themselves with a lot of other things, which may be very satisfying. But I believe the most complete and intense reading experience comes from being completely in the moment within a story, an experience that can most effectively be brought about by depictions of touch.

Apr 052012

One of the things I get asked as an editor is how do I effectively market and sell my book?  In other words, what’s the best use of my time as an author?  Unfortunately, this isn’t a short answer but it is an easy one.  From an editor’s perspective, we acquire books based on how good a story can be told, how well the writer’s skills are and lastly, how the story can make us (the publisher and author) money.

The easiest tool any author has in their arsenal is the excerpt.  Yup, you saw it.  It’s really that easy.  Once a story is polished and the author has seen their corrected galleys, they should feel free to chose an excerpt that meets the needs of their audience.  This being WriteSEX, and an erotica based audience, we want to see SEX!  Yes, adult content, sex, two (or more) bodies building up the anticipation of a climax we believe is going to happen.

In erotica – sex IS the plot.

In other erotic genres -sex FORWARDS the plot

That being said, we want to pull out a selection of text from our stories that sets the scene.  If the story is erotica, we want to see as much of the buildup to the sex scene as possible without giving away the climax.  Why?  Because looking at one handed readers and getting them off doesn’t equal a sale if you do it in the excerpt.  It’s like clip sites in pornography, you show me the money shot, why do I need to bother with the back story?  Or anything else for that matter?

Take fore example an upcoming release “Treasure’s Gift.”  It’s a FFM menage story for Decadent Publishing coming out soon. The blurb:

Treasure has always had a thing for Mark, her best friend.  When he drops in unannounced, she’s glad until she realizes his workload is keeping him occupied when the only thing on her mind is jumping him.   With the help of a very sexy friend, she uses the one thing designed to make Mark slow down and take notice.  What will he do at the temptation of two beautiful women?

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well here’s the excerpt I used originally:

Mark looked at Treasure, wishing he could just fall asleep in beautiful pools of her eyes. Or swim naked with her. 

His cock hardened uncomfortably in his trousers.  Could Treasure feel his arousal?

Did she know the depths of wickedness he’d love to explore with her?

He fought a yawn from the overbearing heat and length of his flight.  Closing his eyes, he leaned back in the chair and let out a breath.  The hectic schedule his travel required of him would exhaust anyone. 

The fact that his property was in Kingwood, he had to fly into Houston Intercontinental and then drive all the way back to Sugarland where Treasure lived added to his building fatigue, but hell, he’d do anything to see her standing before him, looking at him with a hidden mischievous grin and her hands on her hips.  Nipples would ache for him and jut out proudly while her oh so kissable lips moved.

“I’ve got all sorts of ideas, babe.”

“I’m sure you do,” she nodded.  “Just come to bed when you’re done.”

She walked away, ass swaying from side to side with each step she took.  Hands reached for the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head before she disappeared, leaving him with a view of tanned skin, no bra and the need to slake his own primal needs tonight.

“Damnit!”  Mark knocked back the drink and slammed the glass on the table.  He certainly didn’t look forward to the next few weeks of very long Saturdays despite being so close to achieving his financial goals.  Not if Treasure intended to taunt him with hints at her naked flesh. 

He had to do something about his raging erection.  Maybe a cold shower.  Or maybe a long, hot shower featuring Treasure stepping into the large tub with him, setting her delectably round ass against his cock and coating his dick in her juices would… 

Sadly, Mark showered quickly, ignoring his hard on.  He dressed in pajama bottoms, a tank top that showed off his muscular arms and pale skin.  Bedtime included a nightcap, a large one designed to knock him out so he’d sleep without dreaming of Treasure’s body blanketing his while her pussy milked the life out of him. 

Mark slumped back in his chair, head hanging forward.  He took a sip of bourbon, let the liquid burn his throat before he took another longer swig.  Sitting up, he looked over the now neatly organized stack of papers


His lips curled upward. 

The bedroom door opened.  “Mark,” The soft lilting of her voice reignited the spark of arousal. 

Mark set his glass on the desk and waited.  “Yes dear?”

“It’s bedtime.  Come to bed.”

She sounded needy. Another man would have missed the subtlety of want in her voice.  “I have things to do before bed first.” 

“Then I’ll come to you.”  Her voice dripped with unmistakable husky lust. 

Mark arched a brow. 

A moment later, Treasure appeared before Mark wearing a black see through teddy that flowed out at the bottom with lace trimming and barely reached the top of her thighs.  A scrap of lace hid both nipples and obscured his view of her sex.  Dirty blonde hair fell around her shoulders in loose curls, bouncing with each step she took towards him.  Hands started at her shoulders, smoothed down her arms, over full breasts and down her round stomach until stopping at her hips. Treasure stuck one leg forward, took a tentative step closer to Mark and stopped mere inches from him. “Well?”

His jaw dropped.  He blinked several times to make sure he was seeing right before focusing on her expression. 

She frowned.  “You think I’m fat.  I knew it.”

“No!” He stood and took her hands in his.  His stomach tightened from the contact while his cock stirred against his pajamas.  Blood pumped faster down south and his mouth went bone dry.  “No, that’s not it. It’s just…just…wow Treasure.  I’ve dreamed of this for years.”

“What do you intend to do now?”  She tilted her head and her mouth curled into a wicked grin.

We’re left wondering if he’s really going to go forward with it like a man should, or if he’ll play an idiot and turn down his best friend.  I could have used a longer excerpt to show you but again, that’s not creating demand for the reader to want to know more.  Hopefully in the excerpt above I’ve convinced the reader to buy the story.

The excerpt should not only match the desired audience but should be LENGTHY depending on story size.  Treasure’s Gift is only 5k in length, whereas my previous 1NS release from Decadent was 11k, and my excerpt was almost 2k.  The rule of thumb is simple.  You want to create as much want in the audience for your story as possible by keeping them ENGROSSED in your world for as long as possible, then pull the plug, leaving them with only the desire to buy your book.

I’ll cover more next time on Excerpts.