Aug 232012

Oh, dear, I’ve done it again.

You’d think would have learned my lesson – what with the fallout over the whole Me2plagiarism” thing – but I guess not.

Just in case you may have missed it, I have a new book out, called Finger’s Breadth. As the book is a “sexy gay science fiction thriller” about queer men losing bits of their digits – though, of course, there’s a lot more to the novel than that.

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to create another bout ofcrazy publicity by claiming that I would be lopping off one of my own fingersto get the word out about it.

Naturally, this has caused a bit of a fuss – which got me to thinking, and this thinking got me here: to a brand new Streetwalker about publicity … and pushing the envelope.

The world of writing has completely, totally, changed – and what’s worse it seems to keep changing, day-by-day if not hour-by-hour. It seems like just this morning that publishing a book was the hard part of the writing life, with publicity being a necessary but secondary evil. But not any more: ebooks and the fall of the empire of publishing have flipped the apple cart over: it’s now publishing is easy and publicity is the hard part … the very hard part.

What’s made it even worse is that everyone has a solution: you should be on Facebook, you should be on Twitter, you should be on Goodreads, you should be on Red Room, you should be on Google+, you should be doing blog tours, you should be … well, you get the point. The problem with a lot of these so-called solutions is that they are far too often like financial advice … and the old joke about financial advice is still true: the only successful people are the ones telling you how to be successful.

That’s not to say that you should put your fingers in your ears and hum real loudly: while you shouldn’t try everything in regards to marketing doing absolutely nothing is a lot worse.

But, anyway, back to me. One thing that’s popped up a lot lately has been people telling me that I’ve crossed a tasteful line in my little publicity stunts – that somehow what I’ve been doing does a disservice to me and my work.

Yeah, that smarts. But hearing that I also have a rather evil little grin on my face: for what I’ve done is nothing compared to what other writers have done.

Courtesy of Tony Perrottet of The New York Times (“How Writers Build the Brand“), comes more than a few tales of authors who have done whatever they could – and frequently more than that – to get the word out about their product. Case in point are these gems: ” In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, ‘Le Horla,’ painted on its side. In 1884, Maurice Barrès hired men to wear sandwich boards promoting his literary review, Les Taches d’Encre. In 1932, Colette created her own line of cosmetics sold through a Paris store.”

Ever hear of a fellow by the name of Hemingway? Well, Ernest was no stranger to GETTING THE WORD OUT. A master of branding, he worked long and hard not just to get noticed but become the character that everyone thought he was – to the point where we have to wonder where the fictional Ernest began and the real Hemingway ended.

Then there’s the tale of Grimod de la Reynière (1758-1837), who turned the established idea of “wine and dine to success” by staging a dinner in celebration of his Reflections on Pleasure – though the guests were locked in until the next morning and, while they ate, Grimod lavished the assembled with anything less that praise. Outrage ensued – to put it mildly – but his book became a bestseller.

One of my personal favorites, though, is Georges Simenon – and not just because he lived in a rather exotic arrangement with his wife and claimed to have made love to over 10,000 women – but because he’d planned a stunt to write a novel in 72 hours while in a hanging glass cage in the Moulin Rouge – with the audience encouraged to choose the book’s characters, title, and more. While Georges sadly didn’t carry out his plan that hasn’t stopped other writers from trying their hands on the similar: Harlan Ellison, for instance, used to write in the front window of the now-defunct Change of Hobbit Bookstore in Los Angeles.

So should you lock yourself in a glass cage? Lock in a party of critics? Hire a hot air balloon? Stick flyers on windshields? Claim that another writer has stolen your identity?

Well, it’s up to you, but keep in mind what another author has said – also known for his publicity: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Oscar Wilde may not have lived in the age of the Internet but he, like Hemingway, Grimod, Poe, Simenon, Maupassant, and so many writers before or since, understood that it’s important to stand out from the crowd.

Certainly it’s risky, absolutely it can backfire, but at the same time there is a very long tradition in authors having a total and complete blast in getting the word out there about their work.

Before I wrap this up, I want to say one final thing about near-outrageousness and publicity. While I can’t speak for Hemingway, Grimod, and all the rest, I can speak for myself: money would be nice, fame would be pleasant, but why I’ve taken these risks and accepted the occasional backfires is because I’ve had a blast writing these books and so I’ll do whatever it takes to get them out into the world — and read.

To quote Groucho Marx: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Aug 162012

While we’ve covered pacing from a plot standpoint, and broken down some of the  more technical aspects of pacing, we’ve never really defined what it s or how it should work in an erotic story.

The default answer of course, is that it’s up to the writer.  But that answer doesn’t Djent.  It won’t hold water, nor will it hunt.  The reason is because we’re writing erotica for sales, not for the sake of art.  There’s nothing wrong with writing anything for the sake of art, as long as it’s understood that only a very small minority of people buy that shit.  The res of the world reads and spends money on things they can relate to, not abstract concepts.  Want proof?  Look at the 50 Shades of Grey fad.

Anyway, pacing is key to a story and is the element that dictates how fast the story moves along.  In erotica, move things too quickly and details get left out, readers can’t get involved.  Move too slowly, the readers get bored.  Finding that balance is critical when putting out a 5,000 word story, or a 100k novel.

The pace of a story, how fast it occurs must make sense and move at a speed comfortable for the average reader.  Veritably, your ability to craft a story that keeps readers focused and draws them into your world is helped along with things like description, diction, tone, setting, character and so forth.  Using these things in tandem with keeping pace in the story will enhance the reader’s experience, making them hungry for more.

In Stalker, (A story agent Marisa Corvisiero has) I started off with light, quick pacing to get the reader engaged, because the novel itself would be brutal, sexually heavy and filled with what I hope is a tumultuous ride for my readers that draws them deeper into the Land of Faery.

Chapter One opens thusly:

“Goddamn, I hate these fucking cum shot posers!”  Millie tapped a spiked heel against the concrete.  Loud music thumped not too far from where she and a half a dozen others stood waiting for admittance to the club.

She raised her chin, “Move it you fucking asshole! They’re playing Combichrist!”

Wind whipped her skirt around. 

Dirt and industrial scents such as oil and metal along with the heavy mixture of clove cigarettes and cheap alcohol filled the air around her. 

Some stared oddly at her and wondered if she were a real Faery or if she were just trying to fit into the gothic scene.  Her ears were typical Fae, pointed and triangular, a dead giveaway to her fae heritage. 

Millie didn’t give a shit about the gawkers.  She went without glamour because it tended to waste energy needed for other things.  Usually her jobs didn’t require her to blend in. 

Tonight however, Millie was on a mission to relax. 

Guys wore tight black pants, studded leather adorned with buckles or even rings. Black dress shirts, tank tops or no shirts were standard Goth uniform.  Some of the men in the line wore dresses.  Some had wild hair or shaved heads, but all stood in line to get into Dallas’s hottest Goth club on a Thursday. 

The fairer sex went for the Goth witch or Dominatrix look. 

Sadly, many of them wore too much makeup. 

Millie looked towards a bouncer who knew her by name and shot him an annoyed glare.  She mouthed something inappropriate to him.

He shrugged nonchalantly and went back to checking IDs. 

She huffed, crossed her arms beneath ample cleavage while tapping a black spiked heel against the pavement and tried to be patient.

 “Shut up, bitch!  The song just started.  And you know the DJ plays an extended set of his stuff,” a large hand clapped onto her barely covered ass. 

Sucking in a deep breath, Millie started to turn around with her fist cocked.  She spun around on a pointed heel, started to throw a punch into the very large body of Virus.

The lupine’s scene carried on the humid breeze and knocked her off balance.

Virus was six foot five, three hundred and fifty pounds of pure wolf. He was also built like a brick shithouse.  He grinned, baring fangs, and smoothed a hand over dyed black hair before readjusting his ponytail.  A shirt hung loosely off massive shoulders.  He folded well defined arms over his chest.  Green eyes sparkled and emphasized a clean shaven face. 

“Hi,” he beamed and winked at Millie.

Millie dropped her hand and wrapped her arms around the wolf. Laying her head against his chest, she whispered, “You’re a shit.” His body radiated warmth compared to hers, go figure.  Winter in this realm was colder than she often realized. She hadn’t had the brains to put on heavy clothes and the tight corset that pushed full breasts up close to her chin left her arms uncovered.

Her skirt barely covered her ass, which Virus promptly fondled, earning him a dirty look.

An eyebrow rose.  “Stockings, and I assume a garter?  Millie what are you doing out tonight?  Your father would be furious if he found you in the mortal realm dressed like this.”

She slapped his shoulder.  “Oh, like you ever cared what my father thought.  Besides, he’s dead.” Millie let out a heavy sigh and leaned into his warmth.  Virus was a friend of the family and had saved Millie from one stupid Fae court incident after another.  Grateful for his presence, she ran a hand over his slicked back hair, irritated that he’d changed its color again.  “And why did you dye your hair again?  Wolves don’t need to do that, did they?”

You do care,” he winked and nudged her hips with his. 

The pace is light, allowing for a comfortable introduction into Faolan’s world of heavy BDSM.  I used it again when I described Faery.  To set the tone, I again used pacing in my description of the world of the Unseelie Kingdom:

The landscape changed rapidly before Faolan’s eyes. He noticed the severe difference in scenery.  A cold wind blew hard past them.  Barren bluish snow and ice covered the land.  Just a mile or so away, Faolan spotted tall structures. Polls stood tall on the horizon with swinging wires between them.   “Where are we?”

“Welcome to the Unseelie Kingdom, my Prince.  Technically it starts here but behind us,” she stretched her arm out, “the lands blend together for a period before we get to the Seelie Kingdom.” Millie set her hand on his shoulder and steadied herself. 

A shiver would have set in if he were a normal being.  Barren land spread out before them except for the polls and an odd silent hum. “I thought this was supposed to be a land of beauty and darkness.  Aren’t you fae all about that?  And why are you not cold?”

A deep blue hue covered the dark sky and made the bright lights of the city seem even brighter. 

“You don’t know much about the two kingdoms do you?”  She narrowed her eyes at him and then returned to looking out towards the empty ice and city. 

He shook his head.  “I’m afraid I know very little about your history.  I have never needed it.  Most fae I have ever met were either toys or ones who needed to be put down.”

Her gruff voice sounded even harsher in the wind.  “You make it sound like we’re broken and should be treated like dogs.” 

The direct tone in his voice sounded harsh but the statement was just that.  Practical reality was a bitch, he knew.  Faolan tightened his grip on her hand.  Her fingers shook.  “I am not the one who set the rules.”

She glared hard at him.  “Try to remember that you are the odd one here.  Even if I took you at your word, that doesn’t mean anyone else will.”  Millie pulled him forward.  “Come on.”

She stepped cautiously into the snow.

Again, short, clipped sentences and dialogue help convey the urgency while steering emotional investment where I the author want to take the reader.

Next time I have the blog we’ll talk about slow pacing and how to remedy that with action and dialogue.

Aug 092012

Marketing is building awareness that your book exists. An author’s marketing tools are:

  • Your Polished Image
  • Your Platforms Activity
  • Your Social Networking

Sound a little like everything discussed in these Tools for Author Success, doesn’t it?

Everything so far has been explored just to build powerful awareness of you and your book. It’s important that you understand that Marketing – creating awareness – is the only way promotions can work! If no one has heard of your book when you finally begin promoting it and creating events to sell it, NO ONE RESPONDS. They need to know the book and you exist before they’re willing to spend the money to buy the book.

 If you don’t blog regularly, use Facebook and Twitter effectively and on a regular basis, keep your websites updated and Media Room neat and full with every element readily downloadable for the media to use, you’ve dropped the ball. Only with all these things in play and working like a perfectly oiled machine, can you know that you’ve done your job and created awareness for your coming book. If you haven’t, all your promotional efforts will fall on deaf ears. Sorry. Sad but true.

Marketing isn’t a general rule, it’s the life blood for success. Take a serious look at your marketing efforts and determine if you’re doing everything you can to create awareness, or doing the bare minimum and wondering why your book sales are not fantastic. Marketing is like wearing a red silk tie every single day … everyone around you recognizes you as the person wearing the red silk tie! What we’re shooting for here is that every time the name of your book is mentioned on social networking, blogs, living, active websites and among readers of your … you and your book’s red tie is getting more and more recognizable! Soon everyone will be wearing red silk ties and reading YOUR BOOK!

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #8, Promotion.

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 Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

Deborah Riley-Magnus

The Author Success Coach