Mar 242014

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. and

Feb 132014

By Dr. Amy Marsh

As a writer and in my career as a sexologist, the situations I find most personally challenging are the “hurry up and wait” experiences. These are usually the times when I’ve found myself courted (often out of the blue), urged to produce something which will be published or presented in what appears to be a desirable forum, and then once I meet the deadline—nothing. Time and again I’ve experienced a flurry of communication designed to elicit my favorable responses—plus a solid piece of work—and then, somehow, there are no longer any reciprocal exchanges from the person or persons who so avidly sought my acquaintance and professional expertise. Even brief, patient emails a month or two later may go unanswered. Phone calls are not returned. The publication dates, or other matters which have an impact on me and my ability to strategize, bootstrap, and promote, are simply left dangling. And I am left to twist in the wind.

Have I been dumped after putting out? Am I just another notch on an interviewer’s belt or a social media website? Or has a cascade of life crises interrupted the process and the reporter, publisher, or agency representative really will get back to me as soon as the carnage clears?

Sure, “sh*t happens,” but why does it so often happen after I’ve turned in a piece of work?

It’s very hard to know what to do in this case. Do I “squeaky wheel” it, become annoying and persistent in a way that is frankly foreign to my socialization and inclination? Or do I assume a Zen-like exterior of uber-professionalism while patching up my slightly shredded self esteem in private? Or is it just that people have lost the art and etiquette of following up?

Writers need aftercare and check-ins, too! It’s not just for BDSM anymore!

Perhaps there should be a self-help book titled Writers who Write Too Much… and the People who Exploit Them. If there were such a book, I’d be most interested in learning how to keep my sense of plucky optimism while still waiting for all those blogs, books, and other promised projects to come to fruition. I’d like to learn how to professionally and constructively convey my desire to know publication dates and other key pieces of information, and to be informed about delays in a timely manner, so that I can—you know—twitter and blog and facebook about it. In other words, do my share of promoting the whatever-it-is, which usually also includes promoting and boosting the company, website, or whoever is hosting the whatever-it-is…

Did I mention that much of what I’m talking about are writing projects almost entirely done on spec? Sometimes with a promise of a modest bit of change coming along later (always welcome in my pre-divorce world)? Did I mention that it’s awfully hard to know just how to separate the truly wonderful opportunities, chances to collaborate with people who have struck my fancy as creative, marvelous individuals, from those who are simply out for as much free content as they can get? And instead of choosing me for my expertise, do some people see me as a reliable fallback because they think I’ve got nothing much else going on?

I have been operating on the assumption that acting professionally would elicit professionalism in return. Sometimes it does. A couple of writers interviewing me for books actually do send me a copies when they are published. On the other hand, that New York writer who wanted a free session in order to write about it has yet to communicate clearly about when his article is appearing in that hip, happening fashion site. And there are other matters left hanging out there, ones which baffle me in strange, painful sort of way.

To redeem this blog post as something other than my own personal lamentations and frustrations, here are a few cautionary words:

1) Don’t count on, or wait for, the publication of an interview to handily coincide with your self-promotional efforts. Occasionally an interview will come out just at the right time, and you can use it to promote your classes or create more buzz about your book—the operative word here is “occasionally”; even if the interviewing party has promised its publication by a certain date, don’t build your marketing or other schedules around that interview ahead of time. Create several different promotion strategies for your projects so that when the promised article fails to appear, you won’t be crushed or left without options.

2) Remember that everyone is far too involved in pushing their own agenda and advancing their careers to focus too keenly, or sometimes even care, about yours. Even people working in good faith will often have so much on their plate that memory lapses and communication gaps are an inevitable part of the process. Find a way to accept that gracefully, and again, create a few different strategies for dealing with situations on a case-by-case basis.

3) If you are able, try to find out as many details as possible before committing to create content, especially for people and organizations you don’t yet know and trust. Not every opportunity is a good opportunity; if someone wants a large chunk of your time for free, you may be better off investing that time elsewhere.

4) If you haven’t seen a response two weeks after emailing or phoning the person who courted you, you’ve probably been dumped or the project has been shelved. Pick yourself up and move on. Be civil if they actually do get back in touch at a later date. Any delays may not have been their fault. Maybe there really were extenuating circumstances.

5) Don’t become obsessive about checking the places where you think your interview or work may still be published. Just do it every now and then, and then forget about it (or try your best to forget about it).

There are probably harsh industry realities which exacerbate these problems for writers and other creators of content. And we—being on the outside—may never know what they are. All we can do is carry on, stay fresh and frosty, and above all, never become excited about something that looks like a big break. It’s probably no such thing, and you may be better off looking for the little breaks to be found with trusted professionals.


—Amy Marsh


Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, CH, CI, is a clinical sexologist and AASECT certified sex counselor, certified hypnotist and hypnosis instructor, and an associate professor of human sexuality at the world’s most radical sex school. She is a former Carnal Nation columnist. Learn more at or follow @AmyMarshSexDr on Twitter.

Jan 272014

By P.M. White

Writers aren’t social, are they? Aren’t writers at their keyboards, head lowered, with their fingers moving furiously for hours on end? Don’t they hear dialogue in their minds and not out loud?

That’s how it used to be, if we’re to believe historians.

Writers these days, however, have to be both social and prolific if they want to make enough from their stories to stave off a day job. And most writers have day jobs, often two jobs, to support their writing habit. But whether or not one needs a day job, it’s still it’s a full time job just being social—by which I mean the current primary definition of this term: marketing yourself and your writing with social media. Like it or not, most believe it’s a vital part of the literary world these days. In erotica, authors are online chatting it up on a regular basis. If they want to sell more than five books, they have to be.

But often, all the socializing in the world won’t help. So what are the tips and tricks to getting noticed? How do authors market both their work and themselves?

Author Hunter S. Jones recommends loads of reading and loads of research:

As an artist you should have the capacity to read trends. Find out what works for your genre and what feels good for your work. That seems to be the most important thing, really.

Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, offers both advantages and shortfalls, she added.

You can gain scores via some sites, gain followers on all sites, but maybe the important thing to remember is not to lose sight of your own publishing goals. What do you want and how can you obtain it?

Author Kay Jaybee recommends setting aside time each and every day to promote your work. The easiest and most obvious marketing tools, she said, are Facebook and Twitter:

By setting up an author page on Facebook, as well as a Twitter account, you can quickly post buy links, cover reveals, and writing news to help build up an audience of readers. If you haven’t the time to dive into these social media networks more than once a day, you can use Hootsuite to schedule as many posts as you like in advance—that way your work has an online presence on and off all day.

Keeping and updating a blog or a website is equally important, she added. Jaybee herself gets more than a thousand visitors a week on her blog.

Another recommendation I’d make is to go on a blog tour whenever you have a new, full length, novel or novella to market. Ask blog-owners who specialize in your genre to feature your work for a day. You can pay for professional agencies to set up such tours for you, or you could offer to swap blogs with other writers, featuring their work in return for them featuring yours. Blog tours are a great way of introducing your work to a wider number of potential new readers.

Author Giulia Napoli suggests staying active in one to two social media sites at a time when pushing your erotic writing:

You can lose hours per day—hours better spent writing—by getting sucked into long discussions or writing dozens of notes that aren’t directly applicable to marketing your books. For example, a friend of mine who writes sci-fi started to get involved in a discussion of whether or not sci-fi authors should use faster-than-light travel in their stories. He was strongly opinionated on that topic, but there was no return on the time he spent debating it.

Napoli herself can often be found on Goodreads, her preferred choice, due to the author communities found there.

Become known in the communities of readers and authors within your genre. All social sites have ‘interest groups’ of some sort. For writers, Goodreads may be the best site for this—for example, if you write fem-fem erotica, there is a Goodreads group for that. Participate in a handful of groups directly about, or related to, your genre—within reason. Toss out your ideas, but avoid arguments. Above all, be courteous, and observe the group rules!

Street teams, fans who advertise your writing on social media, also work for some authors, said Jones—but what works for some doesn’t always work for others—

What works for me is a pair of black Louboutins, black dress, pearls, small Chanel bag, Chanel lipstick and Bardot hair. And a pair of red leather gloves. This may not work for others. If you write, you live it and surely you love it. Whatever your vocation, you are selling something to someone else. Why not your book or books? If you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Why deny the world your greatness? Get out there and let them know about your work.

Jaybee cited the importance of an author page on Amazon as well, as a majority of book sales in both the United Kingdom and in the USA begin with the online giant. Sprinkle that with a helping of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest, sometimes LinkedIn—whatever will reach your readers. But no matter which social media strategies and venues you choose, you remain quiet and off-radar at your peril:

LinkedIn works for some people, but not for others, as it is very business based. It is no good writing a book and expecting people to magically have heard of it. If you don’t shout about your work it will be lost in the swamp of the hundreds of thousands of other publications out there. Each and every time you put a book or even a blog post out—tell everyone! Tweet it, Facebook post it—spread the word! Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t stress that enough.

In a world where publishers do less and less marketing, promotion has become as much a part of an author’s job as the creation of plot twists and placing of commas. I resent the time I spend marketing my work. It takes up a good two hours of my day—time I could spend writing—but sadly, it is essential. I did an experiment last year to see if my daily round of tweeting, posting and blogging made any difference, and did nothing marketing-wise for a month. My sales disappeared! Needless to say, I am back to marketing my work every day!

Offline, getting a mention in a magazine or newspaper, reading your work at an event, or doing a radio interview is also something Jaybee strongly recommends.

Reviews are another important piece to the marketing puzzle, Napoli said:

Get reviews of your work. Get them on review sites, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc. Follow everyone’s rules in submitting or offering your work for review, but get reviews from pros and regular readers of your book. Assuming most of your reviews are good, an occasional two-star review is better than no review at all. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

That said, Napoli cautioned,

An author should never, ever resort to arguing with critics.

This can destroy your reputation faster than anything. If your book gets read, as you want it to, there will be some people who’ll feel they’ve wasted their money on you and want you to ‘pay’ in return. The way they make you pay is by giving you a poor rating. Suck it up. Ignore it and go on, no matter how unfair it is. You cannot win that battle.

Book giveaways, Napoli added, are another way to generate buzz:

I’m not a big fan of giving books away over a long period, unless you’re trying to channel readers into your sequel. I think targeted giveaways, e.g., in Goodreads contests, are the way to go. When you’re getting started, contact readers who show an interest in your book(s). For example, for my erotic novel, Oh Claire!, I sent a friend request with a short note to every reader who put it on their ‘to read’ list. In addition, if a reader writes a particularly well-done review, contact that person, and tell her/him what you liked about the review. But never argue.

Despite all the tricks of marketing and promotion, Napoli said writers shouldn’t lose track of two important points: finding the right publisher and having a polished finished product.

Find a publisher if you can, even if it’s one that only publishes online. For a [rather small] percentage of the online fees, they will help with editing, publishing, distribution, and marketing. Note that online publishing fees range from 65 to 70 percent, if the book is priced between U.S. $2.99 and $9.99. Online-only publishers forward most of that to the author.

Editing is a very big deal. In my opinion, it can make all the difference in acceptance of your book. It takes time, but results in a high-quality product. I write erotica, and I know that erotica publications (short stories, novelettes, novels) are among the most poorly edited. When you find an author whose books are quality (e.g., Lindsey Brooks), you tend to read more of their works. Typically, more enjoyable stories go with better editing, because everybody involved is trying to do their best—quality, not quantity, is the key.

When it comes to editing, Napoli recommends working with other authors and reading one another’s work. But again, a word of caution:

Remember though, a good writer is not necessarily a good editor—at least not without practice.


About Hunter S. Jones
Hunter S. Jones is the author of September EndsFortune Calling and other works. When not writing novels and stories, she contributes to Over the years she’s published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history. Jones, a lover of all the finer things in life, says, ”The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one ‘lost summer’ spent in Los Angeles. I was always a complex kid. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville.”
For more information, visit Hunter S. Jones online at , Exile on Peachtree Street and Facebook.

About Kay Jaybee
Kay Jaybee is the author of numerous novels, including the Perfect Submissive Trilogies, Making Him WaitThe Voyeur, as well as the novellas Not Her Type: Erotic Adventures with a Delivery ManDigging DeepA Sticky Situation, and The Circus. She has also written the short story collections The Collector, The Best of Kay Jaybee, Tied to the Kitchen SinkEquipmentYes Ma’amQuick Kink One and Quick Kink Two. Kay has had over eighty short stories published by Cleis Press, Black Lace, Mammoth, Xcite, Penguin, Seal and Sweetmeats Press (Immoral Views).
Visit Jaybee online at, or on her Facebook page.

About Giulia Napoli
Thirty-something Giulia Napoli grew up in East Lansing, Michigan where her father was a professor at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Journalism from a prestigious Great Lakes area university. While an undergraduate, Giulia studied abroad for three years—a year each in London, Florence, and Brussels. Her interest in the many forms of erotica started and grew during her time in Europe. Giulia writes romantic erotica with themes of submission, hair fetishes, body modification and some surprising, unexpected, erotic twists thrown in. Her settings are often exotic and, especially in her new novel, Oh Claire!, global in scope, reflecting her own well-traveled experiences.
For more information on Napoli, visit her Goodreads page, or send her an email at

About the columnist
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, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

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 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


Oct 192011

Publicity is using the media to create relevant exposure for your book

Take a serious look at your book, especially your “hooks” those unique elements that not only make your book stand apart, but identify additional readers for your book beyond genre followers. What in your book or connected to your “hook” might lend itself to publicity or a charity? Connecting with a charity does several wonderful things. It shows you’re a caring author, it supports something you care about, and it connects with your story.

Don’t just randomly choose a charity. If your book has nothing to do with cancer research and none of the characters are cancer survivors, it’s not really productive to connect your book with that charity. If the charity is near and dear to your heart, by all means support it, but don’t connect it to your book, it will look and feel random.

If, on the other hand your story or non-fiction subject does directly connect with a charity, move ahead. Create fundraising events. Donate a portion of your book profits to the charity and make sure they know. Be sure to have the charity logo displayed with an announcement that a portion of your profits support Cancer Research, or The Kidney Foundation, or the ASPCA or whichever charity works.

It’s a kind of giving back that is good for the author’s soul and good for the book buyer’s soul. And, as long as you are doing well, the charity will notify it’s supporters that you are doing this. It just may result in more sales.

Be honest about this, no fake or half efforts. Charitable organizations all over the world are desperate for financial help. It’s a chance for the author to be a hero.

All of this takes place in the world of the media. Press releases and press contacts are a huge part of your publicity, and the charity will benefit from this press as well. Remember the Media Room in your Author Platform website? This is the kind of information that goes in there. If a newspaper does a story about your charity fundraising event, you post that story. If you are interviewed and/or a podcast is created, you post it in your Media Room. News doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #6, Your Image.

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 November 5 in print and ebook.

Sep 152011

Do you know which POV your story is told in?  Do you know the correct Point of View your story SHOULD be written from?  If you answer first or third person POV, you’re obviously being a smart ass.  Let’s rephrase the question, shall we?

What character’s point of view should my story be told in?

There, this defines the question better.  And the answer is simple.  The main character’s POV.  But what if you have two characters?  Presumably a Hero and a Heroine, since this is Erotic Romance I’m mainly covering, let’s stick with that assumption.  What if you have a villain?  Do we tell any part of the story from that character’s perspective?

This was a question I received frequently when I taught How to Write From the Male POV and create better Heroes.  It’s actually a universal question for many new writers of erotic fiction.  Erotica authors wonder which point of view to write the sex scene in.  After all, much of erotica has a very personal feel to it as the point is to arouse, as writers, is it not?

Many writers assume that during major scene changes, the perspective should change.  They’re half correct.  A lot of writers suggest that we need to know about the villain if there is one, and that character should get a say too.  Again, they’re half right.

The truth is, POV is simple.  Tell the story from the Point of View of the character that has the most to lose. 

What do I mean by that?  Let’s break it down.  In a typical romance novel, we have the hero and heroine and a plot that runs something like this:

Hero meets Heroine (hey you’re hot)
Hero and Heroine end up in bed (light cigar/cigarette)
Argument separates the two (God he’s a jerk/she’s a bitch)
And in the end, something happens that is greater than both the Hero and Heroine’s issues that makes them examine their beliefs and realize they need the other.
Let’s figure this out (I need you/I love you)
HEA/Happily for Now

Throw in a villain and that character’s appearance should be before or during the cigar in the above example.  Considering that much of today’s erotic romance is paranormal or urban fantasy, there is a bad guy waiting to kill off both Hero/Heroine. Add secondary characters and it makes things more confusing for the writer.

Erotica is roughly the same formula but the Happily For Now or Happily Ever After ending is optional.

So what determines whose point of view the story is told from? This is also easy.  For the story to flow without head hopping, let’s use a simple rule of thumb (courtesy of Morgan Hawke

IF the story is under 20k, you simply need ONE character where the event happens to THEM and ONLY them.

IF the story is under 40k, then we have an event that affects two characters.

IF the story is under 100k, we have three characters who get a say, usually because the villain is the one doing shit to the world/universe—including the H/H.

Now that we’ve narrowed that down and fixed the potential to head hop all over the place, thus eliminating characters that are central but not integral for POV purposes, we’re left with the one question:

Who gets to talk?  And we’ll cover that technique next time I have the blog.

May 262011

by Deborah Riley-Magnus

What makes you so special? What makes your book so special? We’ve all taken a stroll through those huge book stores and gotten that shiver of terror. Even if you’re already published and about to launch your second or tenth book, that fear trickles in and without warning you start to wonder. Who is going to buy my book when they’re bombarded with all these other books? Yes, you’re writing is wonderful and your story kicks butt, but one twirl around and you see thousands of other author’s offerings and can’t help but feel the pressure. Book store or online, it’s the same.

Relax. The solution is so simple it might shock you. The most important things you need to know to make your book stand out are not in marketing books or genre statistics. They’re not in publicity strategies or media hype. The most important elements to make you and your book stand apart are right inside your manuscript.

Your all important “hooks” are in your characters, your plot and your style. In other words, you created all the solutions you need to market, promote and publicize your book when you wrote the book.

What makes your book so special is what made your publisher sit up and take notice. For example …

  • Location. Where does your book take place? Can you build, develop and implement entire promotions around that location?
  • Character. Is there something special about your characters? Are they werewolves? Historic sailors? Contemporary businessmen? Members of a club or organization that drives the story? Is there something special about your main character? Do they have a silly saying they repeat? Wear two different size shoes? Love cats? Enjoy root beer floats? Go deep, identify what makes your characters special and consider how that element might create a powerful “hook” that resonates with a prospective book buyer.
  • Association. If your main character is a gardener, are gardening clubs a good target? If he/she loves animals, are animal rescue groups a good readership target? Does your character connect with any large group of any profession or interest? Are these possible fans? Always consider association, it can open big doors for target marketing
  • Plot. Is your book an adventure about whales or space travel or 2012 and the end of time? Is your book a romance that involves people from different backgrounds? Is it a fantasy about supernatural characters struggling to remain hidden in the human world? Here are the facts about finding your “hooks” – they can be in any and every part of your book, they’re implanted inside your story and they are ready to be effective.

The power of identifying all your possible Hooks is that you can then find more target markets for your book. Automatically, readers of a specific genre will take a look and possibly buy the book. The trick to success is to go further and dig deeper.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #3, Build Your Platform.

Deborah Riley-Magnus

The Author Success Coach


Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres and non-fiction. Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various websites and blogs. She also writes an author industry blog, and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Her book, The Author Success Coach: Strategies for Author Success in a Turbulent Publishing Landscape is scheduled to be released in August, 2011. She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.

Mar 312011

Whether this is your first book or twentieth, the publishing industry has changed and the lion’s share of the marketing, promotion and publicity pushes are now up to you. It’s time to get down to business.

Remember when we talked about a Book Business Plan? Well now we’re going go a little further and show you the ways to gain real success with ten of the most powerful elements of that Book Business Plan.

Yes you’re a writer, an author, a creative problem solver for your plot and characters and boy you are good at it. So now you’re faced with the challenge of plotting your own success as an author but there’s no need to be afraid. Whether you gauge your success in the amount of money you make, the fact that your book is on a bookstore shelf, the best selling in its genre or simply the best selling e-book of the month, it’s important to you.

None of it will happen without at least trying these Ten Tools for Author Success. I’m going to cover these vital tools right here, one tool at a time. Here’s what we’ll cover in this and my following entries.

Ten Tools for Author Success

  • Tool 1, Have a Plan
  • Tool 2, Find Your Unique Hooks
  • Tool 3, Build Your Platforms
  • Tool 4, Understand Your Market
  • Tool 5, Publicity
  • Tool 6, Your Image
  • Tool 7, Marketing
  • Tool 8, Promotion
  • Tool 9, Resources Required
  • Tool 10, Follow up


What are your goals? If this is your first book, what are your publisher’s expectations? How do you propose to let the world know you have a book coming out and how do you intend to approach your market? In other words … what’s your plan?

In order to create a competitive plan, you need competitive strategies. You can start by looking to your publisher. Ask them what they expect from your book. Which of their books, genres and authors are most successful and why?

Now, knowing what expectations your publisher has, you can multiply that and set a sales goal you’ll be proud of. Within your goals should be the following categories:

  • Pre-launch exposure
    • How many pre-orders or readers do you want on a waiting list for your book? This will determine how active your pre-launch marketing and publicity will need to be.
  • First three months sales
    • Research the market, know standard sales numbers for your genre and make it BIGGER. A book’s success or failure is based on its first quarter sales, don’t sell yourself short. Set high goals and push for them.
  • Responses to your platform elements
    • You’ll see later in Tool #3 that you’ll have many platforms from which to shout about your book. Decide now how active you want the response rate to be on those platforms. This way you’ll have viewing and response goals to reach. Of course, responses can only be made to a statement and you are the only one to make the statements, so knowing how active you want your prospective readers to be, pretty much determines how proactive you are going to need to be within your platforms.
  • Demand for the next book
    • Effective platforms and promotional efforts can create demand for more books from an author. Is this something you want? If so, add it to your goals list.
  • 5 year sales goals
    • Look at your author career – where do you want to be in five years? Does writing A LOT fit into that image? Do you want to use revenue earned from your books to improve your life? The sad truth is that most authors simply can’t live on what they earn as writers, but with a plan, strategies and goals that are clear, you can create an income to substantially add to your dreams and lifestyle. It doesn’t just happen. It must be set as a goal and made part of the plan.
  • Number of successful books in 10 years
    • Seriously think about this. Some writers see themselves as the author of one or two books, the creator of a mega success that rocks the world and then they can retire. There is a difference between fantasy, goals and strategic plans. Building a career demands you identify that career. If you want a booming writing career over 10 years, you may need to plan seven to ten books, several articles and short pieces published in collections, compilations or publications, speaking engagements, possibly writing in several genres or even adding non-fiction to your mix. This is a “going wide” strategy instead of a “going deep strategy” that limits the writer to a single genre or non-fiction subject. There are several industry theories on both approaches to building an author career, but the most important opinion is yours. You’ll be living the career and doing the work.

Remember, you’re not just an author; you’re an author building a career. Once your goals are set, it’s easy to take the following tools and put a strong, effective plan in play!

Next time, I’ll be covering Tool #2, Finding Your Unique Hooks to create powerful marketing strategies.

See you then … because, after all, what’s more erotic than a SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR?

Feb 102011

And the gods of publishing spoke.

The earth rumbled and the lightening struck. All the peoples of the writing land quivered with fear and aw. And the gods said …

“Stand all ye writers and be counted! I say unto thee one and all, those of the laptop and those of the desktop, those sparrows of the tiny Twitter and lurkers of the massive writers conferences, teachers and students of the word and mid-list authors everywhere I say unto you all … PROMOTE THYSELF!”

And when the word comes down what do we all do? We panic, we pull out our hair and tear our clothes and we whine. There’s nothing like a good whine, I always say. But soon enough, we’ve all had enough whine.

Like a garden of beautiful blossoms, fantastic advice has popped up everywhere to guide us. Magnificent, excellent advice. It abounds and the sea is swollen with suggestions for website designs, blogging opportunities, platform planks (and the nails to hold it all together). What non-fiction writers and self-published authors have known all along is suddenly the law of reality for all.


But, try real hard not to get lost in the raging pulse of great advice. Don’t drown. Take it little bits at a time; there are a million ways to cook a chicken. The key to a perfectly roasted bird is the same as the path to a perfectly executed promotional plan … patience, clarity, understanding the tools and using them well. Winging it just won’t work.

Don’t go off half-cocked (oh, another poultry pun) and blanket the world with unfocused press releases or emails to spam your (soon to be no longer) friends to death. Don’t sweat over seeking ill-defined speaking engagements or stapling posters on every telephone phone pole in sight. Your face with the scrawled words, “Have you seen this writer? He/She is starving! Please buy his/her book!” won’t actually do it.


Do it carefully and unfortunately, in order to do it at all, you must first (yes, here it comes) … KNOW THYSELF … and (uh-huh) TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

Know yourself, know your skills, know your abilities and know your limitations. If you don’t have the time or energy to run all over asking if you can sign books at all the tri-state B&N locations, think about hiring an assistant to help make all the arrangements. If you can’t figure out how to reach every newspaper in the northeast, hire a company that does the press release flight for you. If you can’t figure out where to start, hire a publicist. If you can’t afford a publicist, there are a hundred books, classes, clubs and organizations to show you how to proceed. Being a writer is a business, and few businesses are successful just because they opened their doors.


If you’re not published yet, make your presence known. Who knows, the gods of publishing may reach down and touch you. Then where will you be? Unprepared, that’s where. Put together your business plan right now. Outline what makes you … the author … as valuable a product as the wonderful book you’ve written.




Now, I need to go baste the chicken.

More from the Author Success Coach?

And the Publicists Says … “Breathe”

Authors Write. Successful Authors Write a Book Business Plan


Author Success Coach

Publicity  Marketing  Promotions

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Nov 042010

By Deborah Riley Magnus

Seriously. I know no one likes to hear this, even my clients who are not of the Author persuasion, but without a business plan you are going NOWHERE.

It is vital to have a business plan because your books and you are the products to be sold. It makes most writers queasy to even imagine selling themselves but without a plan, you can hardly figure out a way for your book to sell itself. Think of it as a map getting you from staving writer to successful author.

Since I’m talking to writers, I’ve decided to take this nice and easy, no sudden movements or anything like that. Let’s start with a simple comparison … if you want to write a book, what do you need? Don’t say ‘nothing but your imagination’ because we both know that’s not so. You need a slamming idea and you need some talent.

Any writer can write a book, good bad or mediocre, but only an author knows s/he also needs to write a business plan because only a successful author knows s/he is now in business.


I’m going to toss this out so duck if you’re too afraid to catch but … the Book Business Plan starts when the book starts. A Book Business Plan covers all aspects of the product. At the moment you begin a novel or non-fiction book, you must already have a clear vision of the message, the audience and even the venues where it can be sold. This isn’t wishful thinking, guys and gals, THIS is the beginning of your plan.

My strongest suggestion has always been to ask the book business plan developer (that’s you) to start at the end. Start with your goal. Don’t be ridiculous and say you intend to be the next Dan Brown or Charlaine Harris, but trust that with the right strategy, you CAN be the next Dan Brown or Charlaine Harris eventually. They too had to go through this process, and as we all know, ya gotta pay your dues.

So, realize that when you start writing your book, you also should start writing your Book Business Plan. If your book is finished, it’s not too late, so no excuses there.


Ready? Take a deep breath. Now, imagine you’re sitting at the bank, talking across the desk to the loan manager and asking for money. What’s he going to ask you? Those are the questions you need to answer when putting together your business plan.

1) How much money to you want? This should be an easy answer. How successful do you want to be? Think of the imaginary loan amount as the financial success you want to gain from your book sales. Be realistic, you most likely won’t make millions with your first novel, but if you set the right strategy, you could make millions down the road with your fourth, fifth or sixteenth book. Honestly, few authors are millionaires, but there’s no reason why you can’t be one.
2) How do you plan to organize and manage your product? Exactly what is your plan for dealing with the organization and management of your book(s)? Should you have a publicist? Do you need an advertising agency? A book video? Imprinted bookmarks or tee shirts? Remember to research everything and be sure of the success rate for each element you want to employ. It’s a lot to think about. Can you do it alone (after all, who knows your book better than you do)? Managing the product means clearly understanding it. So now is a good time to face the fact that YOU are the product. Your creativity, your talent as a writer, your expertise, your personality, your skills … your book(s).
3) Who will want to buy your product? Now is the time to jot down all those people who will want your book, why they’ll want it and how effective they’ll be at getting more people to want it. Know – really know – who your readership target is. Are they men? Women? Nothing is stranger than discovering more men read your book than women when you thought the complete opposite. Knowing your target reader is as important as knowing good spelling and grammar. It will determine the venues you choose when the book is ready to be sold. After clarifying your target, you can develop the perfect hook for your target. This is the bee line to reaching your market.
4) What makes your product so special? You better know this or put down your pen right now. No point in writing a book if you don’t know why or if it’s special. Many writers write books they’d love to read, many write books marketing studies show readers are buying, some write books because the subject is risky or has never been explored before. KNOW why you and your book are special. It’s the backbone of a successful Book Business Plan.
5) How do you plan to promote your product? Ugh, here’s where most writers cower into a corner. Relax. You know people, lots of people. And those people know people. You gotta put yourself out there. Of course there are the “big” things you must do; social networking, book events, gaining interviews, speaking engagements, seeking book reviews and attending book shows, but don’t forget your friends. Most writers have or have had another life, another career or another circle of activity that has made their lives full. People like to support people they know. This is a powerful, easy tool to enhance the “big” stuff mentioned earlier.
6) What are your marketing strategies? Think about it. Yes, it’s cool to have your book available on Amazon or in your local book store, but where else might it fit in perfectly? Stretch your mind and think this through. If your novel is about travel, maybe you should seek distribution at a travel agency or on travel agency websites. If the story revolves around people drinking coffee, cafes often sell gift items and books. Is the story about wine? Wineries have wonderful gift shops. If your novel is historic in nature, perhaps museum gift stores can be a venue. Be creative, after all, that’s what writers do … think creatively.
7) What if you fail? Forget it. I have a very strong theory that failure is just a lack of seeking success. When someone tells you you can’t do something or market a book that way … try it anyway. Chances are it just hasn’t been tried or it hasn’t proven effective for someone less aggressive or creative. There’s a slogan I use with my clients. “We are the can-do team.” Go on, tell me I can’t and guess what … I do. So can you.