Category Archives: IMO

Personal, politics, religion, exasperation.

SUCCESS: the Image

A new indie writer’s image of success looks a lot like the thing in the picture above. Let’s add the year before the two showing:

LIFETODATEaug2018

So, starts out kinda empty. That’s reality for most everyone who doesn’t start with some sort of following.

In case it’s helpful, here’s how I got from the left to the right. The left side I titled Stumbling Onstage with No Script in an Empty Theater. The right is Beginning to Figure it Out.

APRIL 2016

I opened a KDP account and started writing my first novel. I’d been a writer for a long time, but not of prose fiction.

JULY 2016

Sometime in July I published a book titled Surrender to Ecstasy. I know this because I sold a book in July. To myself.AAKISSCOVER300px

I not only no longer have a copy of the cover, I don’t recall what it looked like. Here’s one of the many new ones I created because so many people told me the first one sucked.

In August I sold 6 books and 4 of them weren’t me or my friend. I had 2500ish page reads but didn’t see that because I was busy changing the title and redoing the cover.

I didn’t realize KDP was putting money in my bank account to the tune of $1.17 and not putting in the .09 from Japan or the $2.83 from the U.K. because the bank I picked to handle book business didn’t take foreign deposits.

I didn’t look at the reports page on KDP. I didn’t really know it existed. I was too busy writing book 2 and trying to figure out how to make a cover that didn’t look like shit and trying to separate the total bullshit advice from the makes sense advice.

Four months later I had sold 13 books and had about 5500 page reads. If that seems like a lot, I had one book that was a little over 300 KENP pages which is about 18 books. Some blowhard on Reddit informed me if my book fell below the 100k mark in ranking it was unsalvageable and I should move on. It fell a hell of a lot further than that. I think well below 500k.

DECEMBER 25TH, 2016

I published Desire for Bliss. This also isn’t the actual first cover.BLISSworking3crop

It’s almost impossible not to sell a few books Christmas week and I sold 20 and had 7k page reads. So I did more business in a week than I had done in the previous 4 months. I took Surrender off KDP and republished it as Desire for Touch, book 1/3 of the “Desire for” series.

If there was momentum to take advantage of, I didn’t know how. I was exhausted trying to learn six different professions and still write a book, which was my actual job. I also wanted to explore more aspects of sexuality than were part of Ben and Avia’s relationship.

One of the characters in Bliss I wanted to write about was the homicide detective, Hunter Dane. I also wanted to follow what happened to Talia and do a new adult story using one of the lawyers. Vaguely, the themes were femdom, foot fetish, first time anxiety and PTSD.

Bliss is an exponentially better book than Touch. That’s because we get better. At least we do if we write seriously and not as a hobby or a social club exercise. You want to get better. You know you suck. You also know you have something to offer.

I still hadn’t found the KDP page with the sales and page reads. I didn’t look at the bank statements or balance.

But now I had two books and had discovered free book promotion. Figured out you were supposed to use those hashtags on Twitter. And something happened: I stopped having months where I didn’t sell anything.

JANUARY 2017

I brought out Submitting to Talia and A Thing for Feet. You can read Feet here on my site for free, now.

Talia - Feet combo

I really liked, and still do, both these short stories. Anyway, I discovered Instafreebie and got a Facebook account (no idea what to do with it, but I friended or accepted friendship from everydamnbody). I started a mailing list with four names and put links to it at the end of the titles and was surprised when I got up to 50. Fifty!

Most people don’t join your newsletter so that meant like, maybe a couple hundred people read my books. Still not looking at KDP, still clueless about the bank. I wasn’t going to use any of the few dollars that might be in there, and I was still buried under being a graphic designer, a social media expert and writer.

You remember I was writing, right?  So then this happened:

MARCH 2017

AAHUNTANDCAM60x90300px

I had this picture and I loved the light/dark. The guy. I loved him. This is the first cover where I didn’t really struggle with anything but the font. I always knew what it would be: him. Hunter Dane.

I’ve spoken before about the writing, how the characters took over, how I could only finish it by telling myself I never had to publish it.

I launched it and did the few things I knew how to do and forgot about it. Except I’d joined GoodReads and some self-styled BDSM “expert” attacked the book and a lot of  his followers …. followed.

So, him being completely FOS didn’t really help me feel better, esp because you aren’t supposed to correct their ignorant asses. But then someone posted this review on Amazon. And it didn’t matter what anyone else ever said. For me, Knees was a success. Because of this:

on March 29, 2017
Its rare to read a m/m BDSM story and find so many truths. I read the book and heard the voices of my peers and my community. For those living in the kink culture, this sweet story of power, control and surrender echo’s our stories. Outstanding writing, I hope the author will continue to explore this genre as she has a gift.

DOUBLECOVERS300I put it behind me and started a novella about Ben Hart’s early relationship with J.J. Johnson. I did put Knees in an Instafreebie giveaway.

I published Writing for Ben, which became Thank You for Your Submission, which I thought was kind of droll.

So, where was I with the money?

Amazon got my attention, finally, about these royalties they couldn’t deposit and I finally looked at the bank account.

Whoa.

There was like, a couple hundred dollars in there. People were reading my books! Sweet!

I started Matchstick Men. Not because I thought Knees was some great success, but because Hunt and Cam were my Sherlock and John and I’d always wanted to write police procedurals. I felt like maybe I should finish the “Desire for” series, but, no one seemed to really care.

SO HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED …

An absolutely lovely mm/bdsm author read Knees and liked it and recced it to some book bloggers (I always wondered how you got a book blogger to cover youAAAMMCOVER090517250) and one of the bloggers read it and liked it and put me in all these groups on Facebook (I had no idea there were these kinds of groups on FB) and suddenly I was publishing Matchstick Men and getting reviewed and my newsletter list was in the hundreds.

This, BTW, is the original Matchstick cover. Matchstick Men came out almost exactly twelve months after Desire for Touch. I’d spent a year writing. I’d also learned a crapton about graphics and programs and how to cheat ’cause I’ll never be able to Photoshop.

I learned more about marketing and social media-ing (not so good at that).

NOV-DEC-JAN  2017/2018

$500 A MONTH. And I had hardly any expenses. You ain’t gonna get rich that way, but you could make payments on a new car.

I brought out Dancing Men and the boys insisted I write Snowed-In. Readers were talking to me and I had a group and a brand and a name and almost a thousand people on a mail list.

It scared the living crap out of me.

MAR/APRIL/MAY 2018

But then I had an epiphany. I had a series. I was writing Psychic Men, which would be book 5. People liked them. I mean, I liked them, so why did that surprise me?

FIVEBOOKS4wordpress

What I had to do was find my audience. If I had all this support just from Twitter and FB and some amazing book Bloggers, aren’t there more people who’d like Hunter Dane and Camden Snow? So I set out to discover where I could take the money I’d made and invest it in advertising that wouldn’t sell my books to someone, but would tell them what they were.

My Book Bub Ads Experience.

I had 186,000 page reads and sold over 600 ebooks in June. Sylvia Day I’m not. But I am, in my own mind, a successful indie ebook author. Because I’m getting what will be for me a very substantial paycheck? Not exactly.

I produced a set of titles I’m proud of and people like. AT THE SAME TIME.

So I’m beginning to figure it out. I succeeded. Anything more is bonus time.

I wanted to tell you that. You who are new. Maybe it’ll help.


 

Leaving Facebook

Why isn’t Mark Zuckerberg under arrest for treason?  I get why Trump isn’t, there are unprecedented legal questions so no one knows exactly what to do.  But Zuckerberg also conspired with a foreign government to fix a U.S. Presidential election. The U.S.Attorney General can charge him any time he wants.

‘Course, Trump appointed him.

We all know about how much information FB has collected on us. Sold for many millions to those folks who call your cell to sell you shit or collect an old debt. Pop up their ads everywhere online you go.

They bought your information from Zuckerberg. Your sex, age, location, politics, phone number. The FB Terms of Service everyone accepts gave him our permission to do that.

But now, he’s gone to banks to buy confidential information from them about us. That news caused FB’s stock to go up.

I just deleted my account. They say it takes at least two weeks to unwind all your data and delete it. Except they don’t delete it. They keep it. They say they don’t associate it with your name.

Right.

We  let this happen and we continue to allow it, support it, sustain it as long as we don’t want to be bothered leaving, deleting and moving on.

BTW, he owns Instagram, too. In fact, Zuckerberg controls the information that flows to and from 2.5 billion people.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/06/is-it-time-to-remove-zuckerberg-from-his-office/

TRADEMARKING WORDS

WHOPPER    BURGER KING    BK    JR

Those words are all trademarked. That doesn’t mean I can’t write “That fish he caught was a real whopper!” It means I can’t call my burger that if I own a restaurant. Here are some more presently trademarked words:  bubble wrap, dumpster, jet ski, memory stick, lava lamp.

No one gets a trademark by accident because a clerk in an office wasn’t paying attention.

There are so many. It’s not easy to get a trademark. It takes months or sometimes years.  There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through. You usually need a lawyer.

There’s actually nothing wrong with an author trademarking a word in a series title. In fact, it’s a standard thing to do in the industry. (See header image – source: http://www.sylviaday.com/best-selling-books/ ) Or trademarking the repeated word in the series titles. It’s similar to trademarking anything that identifies your product.  It isn’t immoral, illegal or unethical.

What is unethical, although not illegal, is copying a more successful author’s series title, using a similar font, naming your series the same thing as theirs in hope of getting their readers to read your books. The ones you can’t manage to sell on their own merit.

It’s cheating. It’s what makes authors trademark their series names and title words. Worse, it’s unprofessional, juvenile and simply the mark of a bad writer. But it’s not new.

Picking a pseudonym of KING is common for a newb horror writer. Putting it in all caps at the top of the cover, doing any of this tricky stuff that’s supposed to get you readers instead of just working hard to become a good writer, is all part of why indie authors get so little respect in the industry.

The author who trademarked “cocky” isn’t the problem.

Psychic and The Cube

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A friend and I have the same story about our first encounter with a Rubik’s Cube.

We fiddled with it for a few minutes, tossed it aside and never picked up another.  Or that was my story until I was writing Psychic. During some research I saw links to solutions. Being the Queen of ADDland, I watched one.

Then I ordered one.

Now, I’d have ten times as many titles out of I could just write nonstop for 8 hours a day. But writing is like surfing. You ride a wave but than you have to paddle back out ad sit in your board ad catch another wave.

While you wait you write emails or whatever. Solving the Cube was one of my whatevers.

I read somewhere that only about 2.3% of the population can solve a Rubik’s cube. I’m not one of them. I just followed directions. But, even following the directions and solving is something to be a bit proud of. There are  43 quintillion ways to arrange The Cube.  (43,000,000,000,000,000,000.) Those sharing their methods can’t account for all those possibilities so you do have to figure out sometimes how to adapt the thing you have in your hands to the instructions that don’t cover your scenario.

 

The current world record is held by Mats Valk, a Dutch teenager, who managed to solve it in 5.55 seconds.

Robots, however, been able to solve the Rubik’s cube even more quickly. The Cubestormer III robot built from Lego kits and powered by a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone solved it in 3.25 seconds in March this year.

Just thought you’d want to know.

You Write Your Books

I keep saying I don’t write romance because I don’t.

Fantasy is great. Romance or shifter or sci-fi or whatever, I’m down with fantasy.

I just don’t write it because I’m pretty sure I’d suck big time at it. I’m a person who reads nonfiction for pleasure. And we usually write best what we read most. When I did read fiction, I usually read mysteries. The author who influenced me the most was Truman Capote. He refined and popularized, some say invented, the “nonfiction novel” with the publication of In Cold Blood. It’s a kind of writing that is, by the fact of what it is, loosely-defined.

It’s what I write. Capote, whose literary shoes I’m not fit to tie, wrote mostly  fact that read like fiction.

I write fiction that insists on being true to reality. Not bound by it, but very much based in it. Camden Snow is physically based a real pro athlete. His accomplishments are mirrored in teen-aged Olympic medal winners. I write about BDSM clubs or sex from the experiences of my life and the lives of people I know. I write about being a cop as I was a cop and cops I knew. Hunter Dane poses for stock photos, nude or semi because a cop I knew did. You rarely find a lid with a Tamil burial jar. A clitoris is not a little nub. A comminuted femur fracture can take four months to heal well enough to bear weight.

Things are fictionalized or it would’t be fiction. Ben Hart makes sexual support devices that are about serving women instead of men. That’s wildly fictional, unfortunately.

My next book will be out …. soon. Not when I’d planned. Before Spring ends. It’s got graphic sex, as usual, because my boys can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves for more than five minutes. Like most of my stuff, it’s fact-based and a bit science-heavy.PSYCHIC2tohoAnd it has a really interesting list of research links.

I write love stories. But what’s inside the book is only what you find there.

“It is the theory which decides what we can observe.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN

 

NO SMUT ALLOWED

When I started my writer’s journey, I was briefly on a terrible Reddit board about writing “smut.” I was told my covers and blurbs were’t sexy enough. That I’d be a failure and make no money if I didn’t write to market and follow the formula of the wildly successful smut-writers trying to help me. None of them gave their author names. There was no evidence anyone was wildly successful. They were all about money and zero about writing.

I don’t write smut. I write erotica. And there is a difference. Dale Cameron Lowry, MM romace author and my first blog reviewer, described it thusly when he reviewed On His Knees in May of 2017, here:

This isn’t a romance. … It’s not stroke fiction, designed to get the average reader off as quickly and dramatically as possible while they hold the book with one hand. …

On His Knees is erotica in the most basic sense: “stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals.” (Thanks for that definition, Sylvia Day!)

Here’s the thing: readers get off reading my titles. I write explicitly. Maybe too explicitly for some, I guess. But I see them, I feel what they feel, want what they want, fear and love and suffer and triumph with them. In and out of bed—or car or van or BDSM club playroom. Or in a bathroom hearing the music you know will kill the man you love and knowing you don’t have time to save him. double1lighter

They make me feel them.

And while I have very literally never written anything to arouse a reader, my message to you is: You absolutely get to get off reading this stuff. You get to cry and laugh and be confused. They are. I was. Have a damned orgasm if you are so inclined. I made a sort of joke about it in one of my promos for Snowed In because it really is a lot of sex.

The reader experience is theirs. And readers get to have feelings about what they read, because if they don’t, WTF am I bothering to write for? But what happens between the men I love is not any word that implies there is something wrong or cheap or dirty about what they do or who they are. Or who a reader is and how they  respond.

My message to readers is: If you just read my books for the sex, to get off and that’s all, cool. There’s nothing cheap or wrong or dirty about you, either.

addi-


 

Romance Writers of America and the Absence of Black RITA Winners

Romance Writers of America posted a tweet a few days ago with a link to this article: Board Commitment to RITAs and Inclusivity

Is there a problem?

According to the RWA article, less than 1% of finalists are black. So, how many black authors entered their books? They don’t know. ONLY 2000 ENTRIES are allowed. If 99 of them are from black authors, that’s less than 5% of the entries and a really big field to compete against. In which case, none of them winning at this point is a high-probability outcome. (ETA: The original % I posted was 1. A reader in comments pointed out the error. Thank you.)

So, the numbers are not the problem. That is, the simple fact that a black author has not won a RITA is not indicative of prejudice or process failure on the part of the RWA. I suspect the numbers are similar for all authors who include themselves under the POC umbrella.

So how are the contenders chosen, anyway?

The authors, themselves—or their publishers—enter the RITA, choose what category to enter in, and pay a fee to enter.

RWA wants a black RITA winner. I’m sure they’ll make one and absolutely let everyone know. But the choice to enter, to pay the fee, is with the author/publisher. If there’s an issue, it’s with the percentage of black authors who have joined the RWA. SO –

How About Actually Putting a Category in the RITA for POC romance books?

RWAcategories

Right between Contemporary Romance: Short and Erotic Romance they can add Diversity Romance. And that’s a lot more inclusive than just looking for a black author.

When you invite people to dinner, you have to make a place for them at the table.

addi-


ETA: I already removed a comment for ad hom. The topic is in the title. Individuals are not topics. I should remove the one I am answering, but there are two good points in it. If you want your comment read here, stick to the subjects of the article.  –addi