Mar 312014
 
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By Nobilis

Every author has strengths and weaknesses. If we’ve been working toward growth, then we know what those strengths and weaknesses are. When we work with editors and good beta readers, over time we’ll start hearing the same problems that need fixing, the same overlooked and under-addressed areas that need strengthening. And if we’re lucky, we’ll also get some positive feedback informing us of what we do well, but that’s rarer. Suffice it to say that if some aspect of your stories rarely receives criticism from your editors and beta readers, then it’s probably a strength. Once you’ve identified your strength and weaknesses, what do you do with that knowledge?

My own weaknesses pop up again and again when I get stories back from first readers. Most of the time I need to add more descriptive details, especially in how things sound or feel. It’s not that I’m not capable of setting a scene more vividly—once it’s pointed out I can easily produce the prose, but I don’t tend to think of it while I’m writing.

Lack of detail wasn’t always my only flaw. I used to overuse some words. “Begin” was a big one for a while, and its sister, “start.” I also overused “just” a great deal. After a particularly intense edit, I found that I was noticing when I was using those words, and I could stop myself right there in the first draft. That made editing later drafts much easier, because I didn’t have to fix that particular problem throughout. Since then, I’ve found I can strike the overuse of those words from my list of weaknesses.

So with what I’m writing now (the next story in the Monster Whisperer series) I’m trying to pay more attention to those descriptive details that I know my beta readers will watching for. I’ll make sure to put them into the first draft, and I’m going to pay a lot more attention to them while I’m doing my first round of edits.

Even when I’m not actively writing, I’ll learn more and faster by studying other authors’ work as well, when those authors know more than I do—or even if they just do things a little differently. I’m certainly going to watch how they use descriptive details in their scenes: what they draw our attention to and why; how the details affect character development and interaction, how they contribute to the eroticism of the story; how they’re described, etc.

Some people might worry that by focusing so much on my weaknesses as a writer, my strengths will be eroded somehow, but that hasn’t been my experience. My strengths come naturally to me, whereas the more practice I get dealing with the otherwise undeveloped aspects of my writing, the more strengths I can add to a list which, if I play my cards right, will keep growing for the rest of my life.

—–

And now for your News from Poughkeepsie:

A man shows up to a blind date to find that the woman across the table from him is a six-foot-tall female bodybuilder. She’s not really his ‘type’ but she’s friendly, intelligent, and charming. She’s not what he’s always told himself was his physical type, but they hit it off, and before too long he finds himself in bed with a very unusual woman.

—–

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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Mar 312014
 
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Mar 282014
 
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By Ardath Mayhar, reprinted from Writing Through a Stone Wall: Hard-Won Wisdom from Thirty Years as a Professional.

There are a number of elements that can make your life as a writer much easier, if you know about them from the beginning instead of having to stumble into them by accident as you stagger through the creative maze. I will list here some of the things I have learned by hard experience:

1. Read widely, not only in the field in which you are interested, but also in many different areas, from children’s books to classics, from science fiction to mysteries. I also suggest strongly that any writer read psychology, anthropology, archeology, and ancient history, getting some idea of the multitudes of ways in which our kind has lived, what cultures have existed, and how our minds work. A deep understanding of humankind and why we are who we are will give every character you ever write about much more reality than you would believe possible.

2. Don’t pay too much attention to books and courses that teach you how to write (including this one). They can be helpful, useful, and they can save you a lot of bumbling around in the dark, but every writer has his own best way in which to approach his craft. Don’t let anyone tell you, “This MUST be done in this manner,” or “Nobody works that way!” Believe me, there isn’t a way in which somebody doesn’t work successfully.

3. Study the English language. This is your bag of tools, your element, and an understanding of its grammatical construction is a powerful ally. But in addition, savor the words you have at your command. As you read work you admire, study the ways in which the author uses words to express his meaning in a unique manner. Read poetry to learn how to add rhythm and depth to your writing by the uses of unusual nouns and verbs. Think in unusual terms. And if it lies within your capacities at all, learn to spell!

4. Don’t misunderstand the old adage “Write what you know.” This doesn’t really mean “never write about anything you haven’t experienced or observed.” That would mean that nobody would ever write creatively at all, simply reporting what came within his/her purview. No, this means that if you write about an alien world, SEE that world inside your mind. Visualize the things that you write about, learn to know all about the places and people with whom you tenant your tales.

If you do write about the sorts of things you see from your kitchen window, do it in unusual terms, with original insights. You can make poetic or philosophical conclusions arise from the most mundane situations, if you understand how to look at them with the creative eye.

5. Learn the techniques of writing and then follow your instincts. Rules are made to be broken – but know the rule and break it intentionally, not accidentally. If you use a technique that defies the canon, and it means arguments with editors and copyeditors, even if it means loss of a sale, if it works for you and you know it will work for readers, stick to your guns. It is the writing that is your reward. For money, you should have become a plumber.

6. Don’t rewrite just to be rewriting, because you have read that writers MUST. A good rule of thumb is to do one draught as well as you possibly can, and then go back for a second that is BETTER. Any third and fourth and fifth draught writing labels you either sloppy or afraid to finish and measure your work against the market.

Use your critical judgment, after the work has had a few weeks to cool off. Or get a knowledgeable acquaintance to read it for flow and coherence. It is possible to omit something really vital, simply because you know it so well that you think you have it down … and you don’t. People who work for thirty years polishing a novel have other jobs that support their dependents.

7. Do your best to keep in touch with other writers, if only online or by mail. This is a lonely field, and even the most devoted and understanding spouse doesn’t really understand how you feel when something you know is good gets rejected by all the suitable markets in existence. Another writer, with whom you can share triumph and frustration, can keep you writing.

8. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. Remember that it is this specific piece of writing, not you as a human being, that is being rejected. And don’t rewrite every time your brainchild comes home from the wars. If two or three editors mention the same apparent flaw, it’s time to look at that element of the story/article/book and reassess its clarity. If you begin to see loose spots and ragged edges after a time, that, not earlier, is the time to begin a rewrite.

Principally, selling is a matter of sending the same piece out and out and out until it sells. When you have used up all the good markets, put the work in a file cabinet for a couple of years and then start the process all over again. Editors change with remarkable regularity, and you can hit an entirely new batch after a reasonable lapse of time. Upon resubmitting, however, it is a good idea to change the title, for companies sometimes keep logs of manuscripts coming and going.

9. Don’t be sidetracked by literary fads. The sort of writing that lasts is that which finds a response in people who are neither academics, nor writers, nor critics. Writing is for people, not for those who practice artistic one-upmanship or academic obscurantism.

Any mode undecipherable to anyone except a professor of creative writing or another avant-garde writer is going to die soon and completely. Modern fads do not last.

10. WRITE! After work. While the washer runs, during fire drills, while driving or sitting in the dentist’s office or the bathroom. Write in your mind if you don’t have a pencil and paper.

Make notes of every person you find interesting, every place you live or visit, all the odd facts you come across. Retain flavors and scents and the feel of specific places. Everything you have ever known is going to come in handy to you as a writer, so write! And write! And write!

Too few professions have any inherent joy, nowadays. Ours is one that includes skill and love and reality and imagination. We have something inside us that we must put onto paper, in order to communicate it to our fellow human beings. We live with the demanding and frustrating elements of the business, simply because we love what we do.

***

Ardath Mayhar (1930-2012) died on February 1. Mayhar began writing science fiction in 1979, although she had been publishing poetry since 1949. During the course of her career, she published more than sixty novels in various genres, often using pseudonyms, including John Killdeer and Frank Cannon (for Westerns).

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she and her husband, Joe Mayhar, owned The View From Orbit Bookstore in Nacogdoches, Texas; she sold the store after his death. Her novels, many of which mixed science fictional and fantasy elements, included the four-volume Tales of the Triple Moons series, the Kyrannon Shar-Nuhn series, and Battletech: The Sword and the Dagger. Her 1982 novel Golden Dream was based on H. Beam Piper’s “Fuzzy” series. In 2010 she published Slaughterhouse World.

Perhaps even more important than her own poetry and fiction, Mayhar served as a mentor to numerous other science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors. She provided editorial advice, taught workshops, and often worked as a book doctor. She was a fixture at Texas science fiction conventions for more than 30 years, although a decline in health limited her attendance in the last years of her life. A poem published in the anthology Masques earned her the Balrog Award in 1985. In 2008, she was named the SFWA Author Emeritus during the Nebula Award Weekend in Austin, Texas. —SFWA, February 13, 2012

In addition to her contributions to the field of science fiction and fantasy, Mayhar is the author of over sixty books and has won or been nominated for over two dozen awards including Margaret Haley Carpenter Prize, the Omar Award, the Mark Twain Award, the Spur award, and the William Allen White Award, for her historical novels, character studies and poetry. —WriteSex Ed.

 

 

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Mar 242014
 
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By Colin

I’ve said in my previous column that writers are, by and large, not terribly greedy people.  I’ll stick by that, but it should be said that there are some things writers do covet to the point of greed or even obsession. One of those things is attention, and, more specifically, favorable attention. Most of us, after all, began as readers, for whom good books were the most amazing, inspiring things in the world. Whether it was Tolkien or Barbara Cartland or Zane Grey or Tolstoy, there’s that moment where you said I wanna do that. And it’s completely understandable that you’d want to produce something that hits someone else the same way. It’s not always about aiming for the stars, either; I have stacks of horror and sword-and-sorcery paperbacks that did as much as any literary classic to get me writing, and I look at those old writers with great respect. If I can give someone the pure pleasure they gave me, I tell myself, I’ll be happy.

For erotica writers, that impulse to take on the role of master is mixed up with something more complicated—we’re trying to excite, to titillate, to seduce. So if someone does post a favorable review of your new ebook on Amazon or Goodreads, it can be a remarkably sexy experience. You find yourself wondering about this person, this “FatalKittYn79”. You look up other books they’ve reviewed, you linger over their online profile. You fantasize that this reader truly “gets” you, and sees your work in the same light that bathed your favorite books when you were young. Since any book from your hand is an extension of yourself, reading that review can be a bit (just a bit) like meeting a potential new lover. But in that frame of mind, a bad review can be, as the kids say, a real buzzkill.

The biggest problem, though, is that most books garner neither songs of praise nor the sneers and bad comedy routines that too often pass for negative online reviews. Most books come out to a crushing silence.

Sometimes—when I really should be doing something more constructive—I will google one of my pseudonyms along with the word “review.”  This is guaranteed to bring up dozens of online bookstores where my books are for sale, along with canned text along the lines of “Read a REVIEW of Colin’s SWORD OF THE DOMINATRIX Here…” Needless to say, there’s never any review on those pages. It’s crickets, all the way to next Tuesday. Even if your book attracts a number of favorable remarks from your friends and people in your network, you always hope for more, from people who didn’t know you existed yesterday—the FatalKittYn79s of your reading public.

Now, it doesn’t take long for most writers to realize that the silence is part of the job. That realization is healthy; meeting the Silence squarely and spitting in its eye can be a great help for a writer. It can move you away from fantasies and ego to the essential business of getting on to the next book or story. Most of all, it can help you realize that quality isn’t always measured in backslaps and superlatives. It can inspire you to help build your network and develop ways of making things—including reviews, good or bad—happen for yourself.

So next time you’re faced with the Silence, try making some noise.

 

Colin is a fetish writer and the single most prolific professional author of tickling erotica working today, with dozens of books to his credit. www.gigglegasm.com and www.ticklingforum.com.

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Mar 202014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Publicity does not start and end with a press release. It certainly doesn’t end with your social media feeds, either. The one thing that no one selling “social media marketing services” will tell you is that the press doesn’t go looking for Twitter feeds and Facebook pages to fill their publications with content. I can say a hell of a lot of bad things about “social media” as a marketing tool (and will in the future), but for now I’ll refrain and tell you about what does work to get press attention, namely media kits and review kits.

You send out a media kit or press kit to get the initial attention of media outlets and introduce writers to you—and whatever you may be selling. It’s a friendly way (and in the case of media kits, a proactive way) of saying Hey, I want you to get to know me and do a story on me, so your readers or viewers will get to know me too.

“Media kits” are a general term for a package put together by you to give to the media. It is a prepackaged set of materials distributed to members of the media for promotional use. Media kits should contain both printed and digitally formatted images, your biography, a fact sheet about your book or series of books, and a copy of recent press releases or some other type of document that tells the press about your most recent newsworthy accomplishments or activities.

There are two common types of media kits: the press kit and the review kit. There is a slight difference between the two, but they both have some things in common, so let’s look at each one individually. We’ll start with press kits this month and take a look at review kits in Part 2.

 

Press Kits

A press kit contains information about you and product. It should include a “sales slick” (a printed page with images of book covers, synopsis, distribution and price information) or a sales catalog of the various books you’re selling, and other items that help the media consider running a story, or arranging an interview, with you about your books.

Here’s a list of what items should be in your press kit and explanations of what they are:

A One-Page Biography Sheet

Think of this as a cover letter. You can include photos of yourself, and you should include a header or footer with your email address, phone number and mailing address. But overall, the Bio Sheet is intended to present the press printed information about you.

The bio and personal information sheet should include a full biography, touching on everything from your life story to why you originally started writing smut—and do include where your ideas for your book(s) come from. The more information you can offer about yourself, the better.

However—and this is an important caveat—don’t drivel on for three pages! Keep the content of this biography focused and in bite-size, easy to read and digest, “sound bite”-type statements. You really want to give your whole story in about four paragraphs—you’re not writing your memoirs. Don’t get sidetracked with the yellow crayon incident and how your best buddy pulled you back from the brink of destroying the world by re-telling it for you. (If you don’t get that reference, google it!—your pop-culture history knowledge is lacking. ;) )

Include a “Company Information” Sheet

This should be a separate sheet from your bio! Make sure that your Company Information Sheet includes all of your business emails, phone numbers, addresses and any other contact information the press could possibly need to get in touch with you and your publisher(s).

The Company Information Sheet is also where you can give the media your website URL, your social media feed information and information on anywhere else you “hang out” regularly online.

An “Art Disk”

A professionally packaged press kit always includes Art Disks, so the media has all the graphics they will need to complete the story or interview for publication. Art disks should have multiple, different, photos of you, your book jackets, your company logo and any other graphic elements you are using in your publicity campaign. If you are including any video or audio in that campaign, it should be included on the art disk as well.

Many people forget that all entertainment—especially adult entertainment–is a visual medium. Most websites and publications make heavy use of photos to attract and retain viewer attention.

Make sure the artwork you provide in press kits is capable of being reproduced in a print format. This means that images, logos and photos included in your art disk are all capable of being printed at a minimum size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches (the dimensions of a standard piece of printer paper) when set at an image resolution of 78 dots per inch (DPI) or higher (ideally 300 DPI). You will also want to include web resolution artwork in your art disks, so that an editor can immediately use the image on the publication’s web site. Web resolution is usually 78 DPI or less (generally 72), and should be sized at a minimum of 600 pixels by 800 pixels.

If you have Adobe Photoshop, do include the .psd files of all photos, logos and book covers with all of the original, unlocked layers you ended up using in the final image. This gives the publication the ability to resize and reformat them in any way they may need to run them in print.

Digital Copies of Everything

Always include a CD or DVD with digital files of every page you created for your press kit! You may be able to fit this on your Art Disk but if you can’t, include a separate disk that contains them. So many editors copy and paste for news stories, you want to give them something to work with quickly and easily.

***A Word about File Formats: Please make sure that all your files included in art disks and the digital copies of your other press kit pages are created and saved in standard file formats. And always try to include file formats that will work with both Mac and PC systems. So create your page copy in Word—and, especially, do your best to use a “compatible” version of Word, so if the person at XYZ magazine is still running Windows 98, they can open your file! Don’t assume that just because you’re sending the kit to a magazine, everyone at its office will have the newest software. Some writers won’t even be able to open a .docx file! Above all, never include a PDF of anything—it just frustrates your recipient.

The same goes for image files . . . While you should include images and logos that are created in Adobe Photoshop, don’t assume every reporter has Photoshop (or that their versions are up-to-date, if they do). You’ll also need to include JPG files of all the images associated with your press kit contents, so the writers can use the files no matter what software they have. And be careful about including PNG files, as lots of online publications have older software that can’t read them.

Supporting Evidence

If you feel you need to substantiate your place in the pantheon of erotic writers, you can also include photocopies of any publication’s reviews of your books, or other published news stories about you and your books.

However, it is best to err on the side of caution and include less of these types of enclosures than more of them. No editor wants to feel like they are out of the loop on a big news story other publications have already covered. There is also a natural feeling of competition between publications, which could make the editor receiving your press kit feel like you are comparing them unfavorably to a rival publication that already covered you. You want to avoid pissing off any editor you approach in all aspects of your publicity campaigns!

Making a Good Impression

Always package your press kits as if they are a gift to the person receiving them. First impressions are so important . . . you can’t afford to slack off on how the package you’re sending to an editor looks, smells and feels. While you may have a limited budget to work with, your press kit should be as beautifully packaged as you can possibly make it. This is the time to spend the $150 or so to have stiff, coated paper folders with your logo or other suitable images printed. Alternately, use one of the clear acrylic cover, sheet folder, binders that are available at all office supply stores. This makes a nice presentation for minimal cost.

Make sure you label your Art Disk not only with your name and book title(s), but also with exactly what is included in it. You should list things like “box covers”, “author photos”, “Bio in Word” and so on, so when they see the disk, they know what’s in it!

Put your Art Disk in a CD/DVD envelope. Whether it’s a “teabag” paper cover or a thin, plastic case. You may want to take a look at the local office supply store and purchase the plastic, stick-on, CD/DVD wallets to attach your Art Disk to the folder. Having everything attached together makes it more difficult for a harried reporter to lose a crucial piece of your press kit!

The outside of your package should look as good as the inside, so this is a great time to invest in specialty envelopes to enclose your materials. There are a wide variety of them available for minimal cost, everything from coated paper envelopes with full color images, suitable for sticking a mailing label directly on the front along with postage, to colored plastic envelopes that are opaque enough—and strong enough—to stand up to Postal Inspector standards. Be creative! A stunning packaging job arriving in the mail will get noticed among all the crappy flat-rate USPS envelopes.

And don’t forget—all press kit mailings must include your full name or company name, full address and a “regarding” line on the front of the envelope. Media members tend toward paranoid types, with good reason. Tell them on the envelope who you are, where this package came from, and write “[Author Name/Book Name] Press Kit with Art Disk Enclosed” on it. You’ll be much happier with the response your press kit gets if you don’t have Homeland Security knocking on your door because a reporter thought you sent Anthrax to their office and wants you investigated.

 

In the April WriteSex publicity column, we’ll focus on Review Kits, because while they are similar to press kits, there are some differences in the content you will need to include.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Mar 172014
 
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By Elizabeth Coldwell

Writers are constantly bombarded with advice, much of it about marketing, promo and developing an online presence—to the extent that it can become difficult to focus on the thing they actually love: the writing itself (and if you’re not writing because you love it, then why are you doing it?) But here are three pieces of advice I feel all writers, whether published or not, need to hear more often.

 

1) You Don’t Have to be Writing all the Time

This probably goes counter to what you’ve always been told, that you’re not a writer unless you’re writing, and that someone who wants to be successful and improve their craft should be devoting every possible moment to putting words down on paper. That’s all well and good, but the danger is that you end up writing for the sake of it, in order to meet some self-imposed deadline in the rush to get the next book on the virtual shelves. And events such as NaNoWriMo, which encourage people to meet a certain word count in a certain time, can end up promoting the concept of quantity over quality. Sometimes it’s better to wrestle over 100 good words than churn out 1000 that will be deleted when you read them back, and forcing yourself to keep writing on those days when the words aren’t flowing can be counter-productive to your art. On those days, it’s better to go for a walk, listen to music, or spring clean the house. Recharge your batteries, and don’t let yourself feel like a failure if you’re not continuously bashing out story after story.

 

2) Reviews Don’t Matter

Of course good reviews can make a difference to your book’s reception, as can that endorsement from Oprah or the Richard and Judy Book Club. Before the ubiquity of the internet, reviews were harder to come by—a magazine or newspaper would only have space to mention a handful of books a month, and often only the biggest publishing houses had their product featured—but now you can offer your book to dozens of review blogs, and decorate your own site with the buttons and whizzo graphics they provide if you’re a top pick. But reviews can also be penned by people who may not even have read your book, routinely handing out one and two stars on Goodreads because they don’t approve of women writing male/male fiction, or whatever their particular bugbear may be. Don’t obsess over—or respond to—anonymous criticism of your book. Never forget that one reviewer’s opinion is only that, and don’t send out books for review expecting (or even requesting—yes, it does happen) only four- and five-star reviews in return. You are more than your Amazon sales rank.

 

3) Edits Are a Necessary Evil

I’ve yet to meet an author who genuinely enjoys the process of going through edits. Sometimes, it’s hard not to believe the “track changes” function was designed purely to cross out half your novel, or allow final line editors to make nit-picky queries about hyphenated words. Some editors, it’s true, are almost fanatical about excising what they see as every last extraneous “that”, “was”, or “she” from a piece of text, or seem devoted to removing the adverb from the English language. But, at heart, they all want to present your work in the best light, and even as you curse them beneath your breath, you may discover when you’ve gone through the dreaded edits that your work is sharper, less repetitive—and those typos you didn’t notice, even though you thought you’d polished your work to a sheen, have been removed. That, of course, doesn’t mean you should blithely accept every last change (if you’re a US author being edited by someone in the UK, or vice versa, there will often be legitimate points of language and grammar to argue over), but even though it not may seem like it sometimes, editors are your friend, not your enemy.

 

Elizabeth Coldwell is Editor-in-chief at Xcite Books, where the titles she has edited include the National Leather Award-winning anthology, Lipstick Lovers. As an author, she has 25 years’ experience in the field of erotica, having been published by Black Lace, Cleis Press, Sizzler Editions, Total-e-bound and Xcite Books among many others. She can be found blogging at The (Really) Naughty Corner – elizabethcoldwell.wordpress.com.

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Mar 132014
 
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By P.M. White

Often, a quick scan on Amazon’s selection of erotica reveals one very hard-to-miss fact: there are a lot of women writing in the genre these days. You’ll also notice dozens of author names which obscure or mask the author’s gender. It’s always refreshing to see a new name—be it male, female or tbd—enter the erotic fray, and many of my favorites write from the female perspective—which they do, mostly, because they’re female writers.

There are, of course, the popular male writers: authors like the incredible Maxim Jakubowski, the awesome M. Christian, Terrance Aldon Shaw and others, not to mention age-old standbys like Vladimir Nabokov and Marquis de Sade, each providing their own unique voice to the genre.

And, few in number though they may appear to be, there are also contemporary and emerging male erotica writers out there. I’m one of them. And whether I want to admit it or not (and I must, since I’m writing this piece), I do occasionally pay attention to gender when it comes to my peers in the field. Having written erotica since 2008, my attention to others in the industry led to a number of conclusions.

For one, the illustrious golden goose is a shy little thing for writers seeking a payday in sexy literature, no matter one’s gender. For another, we male writers might almost be an endangered species when it comes to an apples-to-apples head count. This isn’t to say there isn’t a good sampling of male blood in the field. In fact, there may be more male writers than some might think.

According to author Gregory Allen, some male writers actually pen under a female pseudonym due to their fear that a masculine name might alienate readers.

“I’ve heard people say they prefer the way men write and I’ve heard people say they prefer the way women write,” he said. “I’m surprised when I hear people voice a preference like that. Short of reading every book ever written, a person can’t really say they don’t like the way women write men or the way men write women without making unfair judgments about a lot of authors. I know there are male writers who use female pen names for fear of alienating readers who prefer female authors. I don’t begrudge any writer trying to gain readers. Readers are gold. Writing is a lonely life. I used to hear that and think it was because writers are alone when they write, but now I think it’s because writers communicate intimately with a blank page.”

Allen, who specializes in female domination erotica, wrote in other genres for a number of years before turning to stories that focus on romantic, monogamous, female-led relationships.

Allen said. “When I started, I realized I had already sculpted my ideal mistress from my own fantasies in Kimberly, from Courting Her and Serving Her.”

Allen makes it a point to shut out gender stereotypes when he’s writing.

“I avoid considering my characters as male or female. I think of them as individuals, who obviously are male or female, but that subtle shift in how I think of them enables me, I think, to keep gender stereotypes out of my writing. I’m not obligated to keep my female characters ‘like’ other women, or my male characters ‘like’ other men. That frees me to focus on creating characters who feel authentic and unique, at least to me, and then I can hope readers find them to be, as well,” he said.

Author Willsin Rowe, meanwhile, got his start in erotica after he joined a project designed to mass-produce books and graphic novels. He was brought on board to produce horror stories with an edge of black comedy, but soon learned of another group on board the project tasked with producing erotic romance.

“Then, a matter of months later, I found out about a contest to write an erotic romance story. I submitted mine, and was lucky enough to win. That scored me a contract with a small publisher, and I’ve grown upward and outward from there,” Rowe said.

He describes his own work as “gritty romance.”

“It doesn’t always fit into the capital-R Romance category, but I strive to make the connections intense and rewarding,” he added.

A big difference between male and female writers of erotica, Rowe said, are descriptive terms.

“Being lateral and literal creatures, we males often write erotic scenes from a sequential, and even geographical point of view, I think. So, we’ll often spend time describing what appeals to us, which may not be the same as what appeals to a female writer,” Rowe said. “For example, a male writer may focus on the sweet way that fulsome breasts wiggle when we make a woman laugh, whereas a female writer may take that same moment and describe the twinkle in his eye as he delivered the witticism.”

Rowe said there are likely more female readers than male readers interested in erotic fiction at the moment.

He said, “All the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen tells me there’s a far higher contingent of female readers than male. And where one perspective is chosen, it’s more commonly the female. I believe that, for the most part, men are more interested in reading female POV (point of view) than women are in reading male POV. At least as far as erotica and erotic romance are concerned.”

No matter what, Allen said, writers need that human-to-human contact to grow in their craft.

“So many of us are aching for that, or asking for more of that, because a gap always exists in communication, but especially when the communication is so delayed as it is between writer and reader. But, for me, the opportunity to reach someone who thinks only female authors can be romantic or can create authentic-seeming female characters is too tempting. It’s bigger than me or my books, and if someone whose mind isn’t made up about male authors—which must be the case if they’re giving me a chance—feels differently about them after reading me, then that may be worth sacrificing a wider audience.”

Is it harder these days to be a male author these days? Rowe offered a resounding yes.

“I do think it’s harder, but it’s probably one of the softest kinds of hard you’d ever find,” he said. “We’re basically facing an automatically reticent general buying public by remaining male (as opposed to taking on a female pen name). I’ve had more than one woman tell me (without having read my work) that they don’t enjoy male-penned erotica. But as I say, it’s a pillow-like hardness. We’re not fighting for emancipation or civil rights, here.”

There are benefits as well, he added.

“It’s easier to stand out in people’s minds when you’re part of a subculture,” Rowe said. “First, there’s the physicality. I’m 6’ tall, 200 lbs, shaven-headed; I play in a band and ride a motorbike. I don’t look like most erotica/romance authors. But more than that, there’s the rather low bar that has been set by some members of the male gender. In real life and online, I’m polite, respectful and complimentary. Adding a Y-chromosome to those characteristics seems to make a world of difference.”

 

About Willsin Rowe
Willsin Rowe is the author of Submission Therapy, as well as a number of other titles co-authored with author Katie Salidas, including Occupational Therapy, Immersion Therapy and others. For more information, visit his website at willsinrowe.blogspot.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

About Gregory Allen
Author Gregory Allen can be found on Facebook and FetLife, as well as on Twitter @GregoryAllenPF. He’s the author of Courting Her, Protege Mistress, and Serving Her ­– all published by Pink Flamingo. He’s also the author of Bottoms in Love, published by 1001 Nights Press.

 

About P.M. White
Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.
For more information, visit him on Tumblr at pmwhite.tumblr.com, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

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Mar 102014
 
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By M. Christian

Let’s open with a joke: a guy pleads with god over and over: “Please, Lord, let me win the lottery.” Finally, god answers: “Meet me halfway – buy a ticket!”

Back when publishers only put out – gasp – actually printed-on-paper books I was known as a writer who would give anything I did that extra mile: readings, interviews, PR events, press releases … you name it, I’d do it. To be honest, I’ve always had a small advantage in that my (unfinished) degree was in advertising and I’ve less-than-secretly really enjoyed creating all kinds of PR stuff. I’ve always felt that a good ad, or marketing plan, can be just as fun and creative as actually writing the book itself.

Sure, some of my PR stuff has gotten me (ahem) in some trouble … though I still contest that the “other” M.Christian who staged that rather infamous plagiarism claim over the novel Me2 was at fault and not me, the one-and-only; or that my claim to amputate a finger as a stunt for Finger’s Breadth was totally taken out of context…

Anyway, the fact is I’ve always looked at publishers as people to work with when it comes to trying to get the word out about my books. Sure, some publishers have been more responsive and accepting than others and, yes, I still have bruises from working with a few who couldn’t have cared less about me and my books, but in the end most of them have been extremely happy to see my excitement when one of their editions hit the shelves.

Duh, things have changed a lot since then – but in many ways things haven’t changed at all. Books are still books, even if they are now digital files and not dead trees, and bookstores are still in the business of selling those books, even if they’re now Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo instead of brick-and-mortar establishments … and publishers still want to work with authors who want to work with them.

Not going into the whole publisher-versus-self-publishing thing (in a word: don’t) one thing that has totally changed is the importance of marketing, social media, and public relations. Simply put, it’s gone from being somewhat necessary to absolutely essential.

But this post isn’t about Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogs and the rest of that stuff. Instead I want to talk about how you work with a publisher: what they do, what you do, and how to make it all work for the best.

A very common myth is that publishers are finger-steepling, mustache-twirling villains who pay for their volcano lairs and diamond-collared Persian cats with the sweat of writers. Okay, a few do, but the good ones started as writers themselves and have simply worked their way up to being in a position to try and help other writers – and, sure, make some bucks along the way.

Another common myth is that publishers don’t care about their writers. Okay, let’s be honest: a writer who sells a lot of books is definitely going to get the lion’s share of attention, but a good publisher knows that any book in their catalogue can be the one to go from one sale a month to ten a day.

There’s a very important factor: publishers deal with a lot of writers – some of whom have written dozens of books while others have two or three … or only one. With that many titles you can’t really expect a publisher to be able to give you 100% attention 100% of the time. Yes, they want you to succeed – they have a vested interest in your success, after all – but they have to try and bring that same level of success to as many of their writers and books as possible.

That does not let them off the hook when it comes to doing their jobs. A good publisher, most importantly, knows the business of publishing. Often this means they have to do things that authors don’t like: saving money on covers (or refusing to use your aunt’s watercolors as cover art), asking for changes to books or titles, requiring authors to think about social media and audience, asking for copyedited or clean manuscripts … and so forth. They do this not because they enjoy watching a writer cringe, but because they have lots of experience with what won’t sell, what might sell, what is worth a lot of time and what isn’t.

Believe it or not, publishers are also people: they work very hard – too hard in some cases – to be the publisher they, as writers, would want to work with. As such, they don’t just want to make a book a runaway bestseller; they want to make that book’s author excited and happy about their work.

Personal disclosure time: yes, I am a writer but I also have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks. To put it mildly, it has been an eye-opening experience to start out looking at publishers as a writer, and end up looking at writers as a publisher.

During all this I try to remember my own excitement of when my books came out, and all the plans and strategies and so forth I had the pleasure of putting together. It was stressful and depressing more often than not, but then there were the wonderful moments when I felt the publisher was also thrilled about me and my work. As a publisher, I’ve tried to return to the favor to other writers.

Did you feel a “but” coming? Well, you should because sitting on the other side of the fence I’ve noticed that a few – not a lot, thankfully, but still far too many – writers want to win the lottery but won’t buy a flipping ticket.

Okay, I promise I won’t turn this into a “get off my lawn” rant but I do have a few words for advice for dealing with publishers – and how to making the transition from A Writer to A Cherished Author.

For one thing, always remember you are just one of many writers a publisher has to deal with. Yes, you have rights and a publisher should always respect and care about you and your work – but being demanding or a prima donna will get you nothing.

A good publisher will work very hard on marketing, promotions, exposure, new ways of doing anything, etc. – but, and this is extremely important, you need to as well. In short, buy a ticket!

Don’t have a website? Make one! Don’t have a Facebook page? Create one! Don’t have a Twitter feed? Sign up! Don’t have a Goodreads, RedRoom, etc., presence? Get moving!

The same goes for following your publisher’s social media links and such. Sign up and friend and favor them, and when your book comes out let your publisher know that you are excited and happy about it. Tell them of your marketing plans, send them your press releases, talk to them about the ways you are working to reach your audience … don’t just sit back and wait for them to do all the work.

Social media is timeless: your book might sell tomorrow or next year, which means that your marketing and such should also never stop. It breaks my heart when authors decide that their book is a failure when they don’t immediately see a fat royalty check – when the fact is the book is a failure because it is they who have given up on it. Publishers feel the same way: none of them want to hear that they screwed up by not making a book a bestseller when the author walked away from the title after a few months.

I could go on, and I will in more columns, but let’s wind down by restating the point of this post: working with a publisher is a partnership. They have duties and responsibilities but you, the author, have to step up and enthusiastically show that you, too, want to make your book into a magical, hotter-than-hot, golden ticket.

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Mar 062014
 
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By Blake C. Aarens

My first piece of erotic fiction was published in 1991. Since then, my work has appeared in magazines and journals, in print books and e-books, in all kinds of anthologies, and even in book-length collections of my very own. The constant across all those forms and formats has been that I respect sex and I respect writing and I don’t ever lose sight of either one of those things when I come to the keyboard to craft new work. The basics of sex and the basics of writing are shockingly similar. In both pursuits, it’s all about the nouns and the verbs, the who-what-when-where-and-why.

1 – People, not just parts
If I don’t give a f*#@ about your characters, I won’t care when you write their clothes off and start bumping their pelvises together. Build people—fully realized, deep, conflicted human beings—before you even begin to worry about his length & girth or her cup size.

2 – What the f*#@ are they doing?
Give your reader details—specific, anatomically correct, graphic details. Certainly temper your language to the format and intended audience, but SHOW us what your characters are doing. People read erotic literature for all kinds of reasons: to be the fly on the wall or to imagine new possibilities for themselves, to name just a couple. It is our responsibility as writers of erotica to plant details in our readers’ brains that set their neurons firing.

3 – What time is it?
What day, what week, what month, what year? It’s important. Cuz morning wood is a whole lot different from the wood ya gotta work for at 11 PM after 2 meetings, a performance review, and getting 2 kids fed and bathed and off to bed. And an anonymous sexual encounter on the hood of a car in Chicago in January is a completely different animal from that same scene set in New York City at the end of July.

4 – Where the f*#@ am I?
Take the reader to your bedroom. Or the back row of your favorite movie theater. Or the one room in your place where you’ve never “done it”. The setting for an erotic encounter is one of the major players in the scene. Don’t give it short shrift.

5 – Why them, why this, why now?
More often than not, this last essential detail is for the writer more than the reader. The piece you’re crafting might not actually get into why these 2 (or more) have come together to come, but you as the writer certainly better know the answers. Knowing your characters’ basic motivations, their backstories, and their specific erotic needs are the jumping off points for any encounter you write. They are the place where you, the author, must begin.

Take your writing seriously. Take sex just as seriously. This is the most important thing I have learned, and I pass it on to you.

 

Live fully, keep reading, and don’t stop pressing those keys!

—BCA

 

Learn more about, and keep up with, Blake C. Aarens on Twitter as @BCAarens, and at her Amazon Author Page.

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Mar 032014
 
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By Nobilis

Like anything else, kinks run in fads—especially when it comes to fiction. A few months ago, everyone was talking about the authors who sold thousands of copies of dinosaur erotica ebooks. Then it came around to bigfoot and similar creatures. I’m sure in a few months it will be something else again. While each fad was in its prime [and before Amazon started its somewhat zealous censorship campaign —ed.], those books clearly had a large array of readers who couldn’t get enough of them, and I don’t begrudge their authors a bit of their success. This is also a great thing for me, because I consider tentacle sex (one of the things I like to write) to be somewhat related to those stories. I might get a bit of a boost in sales.

And then there are the other topics I like to write about: things like growth transformations, genderfuckery and other kinds of shapeshifting. Those aren’t even close to being in fashion, and they don’t necessarily appeal to the people who would buy them for an ironic laugh. There are folks out there who like those stories, but their sub-sub-genres aren’t getting blogged at Buzzfeed, Jezebel or Io9. And that’s fine too. Maybe someday I’ll get featured in one of those big-name blogs, but I’m certainly not going to build my career around hopes of a few weeks’ worth of fame and fortune by discovering a previously unrecognized novelty niche.

Because ultimately, it’s my career. My hope is that people buy my books because they like the way I write, not solely because they like what I’m writing about. If I’m not a good writer, then they won’t come back after the first book. But if they do like my work, the subject matter isn’t as important. On a number of occasions, readers and listeners have said to me, “I never thought I’d like a tentacle-sex story, but I liked this one!” or “Lesbian sex isn’t usually my thing, but this story really caught my attention.”

That’s my favorite kind of reader. Those are the folks who will stick with me, maybe read things they otherwise wouldn’t have. I think that’s the kind of reader we all ought to aspire to attract, if we don’t already. Does anyone really want the stories they’ve written to leave their readers either vaguely disappointed or unsatisfied? To have their name forgotten when the reader goes to find something new to read? I’m not at my best when I’m trying to write to someone else’s taste, when I’m trying to imitate or emulate; I’m much better off following my own muse. So I stay with what I like to write.

Not that this type of commitment makes it easy to see someone halfheartedly knock out a series of monster-du-jour books and get lots of attention (and dough) for it—I’m not immune to a bit of success envy. But I understand on a fundamental level that the stories I tell have to be my stories.

Because otherwise, who will tell them?

—–

And now I’m going to follow that essay with a story idea, as I do every month. Please have a look at it, and decide if you can make it yours—because a story is more than idea:

What if you were born on an isolated space colony with a small population, say a hundred people or so, and discovered you really were the only person on the planet that had a particular fetish? There’s always something missing from your life—until a starship arrives, carrying someone with a brain implant allowing any fetish to be put on and taken off like a new set of clothes…

—–

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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