I received notice today that neither of my short stories were accepted for Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year” 2016. This wasn’t my first rejection, nor, I’m certain, will it be my last. Each rejection, however, does put me in a confusing state of mind. I am a self-published author. I go the route of the self-published so I don’t have to put up with the constant wait time for contests and short story publications. I like to write the stories as they come to me, and often these types of publications have wordcount limits which seem stifling. But, if my stories are being rejected by professionals in the field, are they good enough to be self-published? Who knows. I’ll continue submitting for publication and self-publishing my stories. Writing is a passion, not a career at the moment. I’d rather have the freedom to tell my stories the way I want, rather than be stifled by submission guidelines.
I swear I am writing, but the process is so slow. Between work and life, and the three novels I am trying finish, I don’t feel like I’m getting anything accomplished.
For those of you following this blog, please know I haven’t forgotten about you. I will have another short up soon and I am in the middle of three separate novels.
Have patience. I love you all.
Writing is hard work. Don’t ever let anyone tell you anything different. Writing is a full-time job for me. I put in an average of forty-five hours each week dedicated solely to writing (I also put in roughly fifty-five hours a week at another full-time job, just to pay the rent).
It’s true, writing does not pay the bills. In fact, the income I generate from the smattering of stories I’ve self-published on Amazon is about enough to buy me a candy bar (at least at this point). The things I publish on Amazon are short and sexy. No more than a novelette or novella, and vary rarely more than a scene or two.
That doesn’t mean these are the only things I’m writing. Some time ago I posted that I was in the midst of a full-length novel. I finished it and decided it wasn’t good enough to publish, so I threw it in the bottom dresser drawer to collect dust or be torn apart by mice and used as nesting material.
Still I write, and still it’s hard work. Character arcs, themes, plot points, and scene beats. It isn’t all just sex.
Writing something worth putting out into the world takes time and consideration. The shorts I’ve published so far have been quick and dirty little things. One shots with none of the necessary structural supports to be called a true story. They really are no more than some quick porn … and that’s okay.
That’s what they’re there for. A quick read meant to titillate and get you off (and hopefully they do just that).
Still, I want more. So I am working on more longer fiction. If that means additional time between installments of shorter work, I’ll have to live with that. I full novel, with appropriate arcs and all the fixings is what I’m hoping to create. I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it.
Do me a favor, and spread the word about the short stories I’ve published thus far. “High Tension,” my first attempt at any kind of writing, “The Diary of Heather Taylor – Part 1: Meet the Parents,” my second attempt and the first installment of the Heather Taylor series, and “The Diary of Heather Taylor – Part 2: The Arboretum,” the second installment of the Heather Taylor series, and by far my best work (and new as of today, July 3rd, 2015).
In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and you keep reading. I love you all.
It’s been almost an entire year since my last post, and I have nothing to say for myself. This blogging thing isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. I forget that it’s here, and life sometimes has a way of making things like this a low priority.
I’m back now, and planning on making this posting a regular thing. We’ll see if I can continue.
For now, let’s start with baby steps. What has the past ten months brought me? Not much.
I’ve been working on writing a novel for that ten months and it is a slow-going process. I’ve always wanted to be one of those writers who could simply sit down and crank out a story without putting any effort or thought into the mechanics or structure of the story, but as it turns out, I’m not.
I started this novel with nothing more than an interesting idea and the hope that my characters could carry the plot over eighty-thousand words. I was delusion. What started as an interesting idea quickly fell apart and became slop in the center of a pile of good intentions. My characters were flat, my plot was static, and the overall feel of the story was one of boredom and cliche.
After ten months of work, the only thing I have to show is the need for a major rewrite and a sinking feeling that I should just scrap the whole thing and try something new.
I won’t though.
I intend on working this story to it’s inevitable conclusion because I know I have something special, worthy of the time I know I need to spend on it.
So, back to the drawing board for now, and hopefully more blogs on the process of the novel to come.
So… the first short story is written. The cover art is complete. All of the front and back matter appropriate for a short story of only 10,000 words is complete. What is the next step on my self-publishing journey? Actual publishing. But, here’s where it gets tricky.
It might seem like a breeze to simply upload a file in book format to Kindle’s Direct Publishing, brush your hands off, and call it good. Certainly this would be the path of least resistance. After all, once it’s online and available for purchase, the sales should take care of themselves – right?
Oh, my smart readers, you know that is not the case. The answer is a resounding “No.”
So, what is the next step? Proper marketing, of course. The uninitiated among you might wonder why that would come before the actual publication for a beginning writer publishing her first short story. That answer is simple. One must jump through all of the marketing hoops, like research and copy writing (which is different than copyrighting), before publishing because some of the best marketing tools (and certainly some of the first points of contact with a potential reader) comes during the publishing stage. I’m talking about the book description.
How can one write an effective book description, one that will entice a reader to click the “Buy it Now” button if one has no real clue what marketing tips and techniques to use for writing that description? This is a killer first step.
So, while we’re on the subject of killing, please allow me to reference the book that helped me work through the process of marketing before publishing. Michael Alvear’s “How to Make a Killing on Kindle (Without Blogging, Facebook, or Twitter)” is a one-of-a-kind book that discusses the exact ins and outs of self-publishing on Kindle, and marketing it only through Amazon with zero hidden expense.
Michael is not paying me to say this. I have received nothing as far as compensation for discussing his book. Well, that’s not true. I bought his book. I read his book. I am implementing the extremely easy and extraordinarily simple techniques, to publish my book. If he has done his job right, and I have followed all of his advice to the letter, I should start seeing sales roll in (as much as one can with short erotic fiction).
I would like to reiterate how much of this book has made me say, “Oh, duh. Why didn’t I think of that?” Most of his advice, after reading it, makes perfect sense and seems like it should be second nature. But it isn’t. I was going to make over half of the mistakes that he has warned against. His book has reconfirmed, in my mind, that I don’t know everything there is to know – even though I think I do.
I’ve always told people that I am horrible at marketing. I don’t like to talk about myself, or my work. This fear is exacerbated by the notion that I write erotic fiction. Who can talk about that it polite company? It isn’t like I can sit around the dinner table with my friends and family over holiday and say, “Have you read my new book? There is some really hot sex happening in there. You should pick up a copy.”
Michael’s book definitely shows a way of marketing without the need for all of that. More importantly, however, he dispelled a myth that I have been arguing against since I was in college. Every single professor I had expounded upon the importance of a writer’s platform – a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Snapchat, and Instagram. The notion here is that, by simply having these things one will magically draw readership from followers.
I won’t give away Michael’s words, but he makes very valid points as to why ALL of my professors were wrong. None of that is necessary. (Of course, I still have some of those accounts – and you are reading my blog – because I enjoy the notion of being sociable with my readers, fans, and friends. Simply put, however, I am not going to utilize these accounts as marketing springboards or to pitch sales. There are different, better methods.)
I will keep everyone (and at this point, everyone includes just me as no one is following this blog, so I’m writing more of a diary) posted on how well Michael’s advice works for my first short story. Perhaps the tips he offers isn’t meant for short form fiction. On that topic, anyone thinking of picking up his book, please understand that it is written with the non-fiction writer in mind. However, he does offer several tips and hints for fiction writers, and the rest of the advice still applies. One might need to “think outside of the box” if things seem different.
So, until next time (when, with luck, I will have officially published through Kindle)…
Well, I have finally finished my rough draft, and three revisions, of my first short story intended for publication on Amazon’s Kindle platform. The purpose of this short story is to learn the ups and downs of navigating Amazon’s KDP so I fully understand the process before attempting to self-publish a longer novel.
This has become an interesting journey already. There are a lot of guidelines involved for formatting for Kindle and creating front and back matter that includes an appropriate title page, copyright information, dedications, and the like. Making sure all of this is properly formatted so my book does not look amateurish is very important to me, and I have had several resources in helping me on this path.
First, and foremost, is Amazon’s Book Building Book itself. This free eBook is great for understanding margins, pagination, and paragraph spacing. The tips offered within the book are things I would have never thought about and was well with the FREE cost. Seriously, why not take it from the people in the know? Amazon is essentially telling you exactly how your eBook needs to be formatted in order to read correctly on Kindle, as well as a few hints and tips that will help your book sell better. Who could ask for more that that?
Secondly, and almost more important than proper book formatting, is information delivered by the outstanding Selena Kitt. This woman has already paved the way for all writers of erotica, so I will not attempt to rewrite the wheel here. Instead, I will suggest that you read her blog, and the information there about publishing eBooks. The important information she covers on her blog, under the publishing section, deals with things like using proper keywords so you are not lost in the world of “the stigma of erotica” on Amazon’s search and categorization functions. She also discusses how to ride out the “Pornpocolypse” as the “straight and narrow” attempt to ban and block books containing a certain level of “questionable matter.”
Thirdly, we’re taking book covers. I cannot even scratch the surface of all of the information regarding book cover design that is out there. The bottom line, from everything I’ve read, is that one should hire a professional graphic designer (NOT a graphic “artist” – there is a difference, and if you are unfamiliar with that difference, the quickest way for me to explain it is to suggest you look at the amount of formal education the designer has had; there is a lot of science behind graphic design, and those graphic “artists” typically have not spent the time to learn that science, instead choosing to “feel” their way through the design – which often creates bad designs).
In the end, after writing the book, there is still a lot of work that needs to be accomplished before self-publishing can happen. I’ll keep you posted as I fumble my way through the process.
So… this week I spent some time writing my first erotic story meant for publications. Like many novice authors, I have written plenty of stories in the past that were never meant to be published. There are definitely trials and errors that any author will go through on the journey to publication, and I suppose one of the most difficult is actually writing.
This might sound strange, but how many people do you know, or have heard about, who intend to be novelists or authors, but simply cannot get past that beginning step of writing what is in their hearts to write? Most, actually. This seems to be the biggest hurdle to a career in writing. Many people are fascinated with the idea of being a writer, but continually find excuse after excuse for not working on their craft. In the end, even if all of the conditions are right to sit down and do the work, these people get bogged down in the minutia of the work.
I know this reality all too well. I have spent many a night telling the people around me that, “I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t work at home because I get distracted, but I can’t work away from home because I can’t concentrate.” When I finally did get those perfect conditions to do actually write, I would get so bogged down in a character’s back story, a culture’s social history, or the development of some device or another that would help move the plot forward, that it would take me months to finally get to writing a single word on the page.
When that work finally began, I would spend so much time revising as I wrote that I could spend eight hours writing my manuscript and only squeeze out 500 to 1000 words. That is ridiculous.
Then, I stumbled upon a book by the wonderful Rachel Aaron. Her book, 2,000 to 10,000: How to Write faster, write better, and write more of what you love, helped me to realize that I just needed to get myself a little more organized, and then just write my damned manuscript.
So, what I wanted to get across with this short post, is that I took my day off this Thursday and wrote 8,000 words of my newest story in roughly six hours – and that even includes several distractions from some of the folks I live and work with. I cannot express how amazed I was that I could simply sit down and write my story.
Of course, I will have to spend some time editing my first draft, but simply getting that first draft complete and under my belt has been the biggest obstacle of my entire writing career. Editing and revising shouldn’t take very much effort (revising is actually something I enjoy quite a bit).
I want to give a great big curtsey to the wonderful Rachel Aaron for her words of wisdom. Without her, I don’t know that I would have ever stepped out of my own way and completed any work. So, thank you, ma’am.