New Release: Gratis: Transformation

If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll already know this, but today Gratis: Transformation, the third of the Gratis Erotica Anthologies I’ve organised has officially been released! These short story collections offer sexy stories from numerous authors in a variety of erotic sub genres.

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Why Authors Keep Bitching about Reviews

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry, because I know I’m guilty of this: constantly asking, even begging for reviews.

I know it’s annoying, because I don’t always feel like leaving a review for books I’ve read either. I worry about what to write, and whether my review will look stupid among all the others which invariably seem cleverer to me. But there’s a good reason for my irritating behaviour, I promise…

Why Reviews Mean Everything

What do writers want? To write and sell books. Not necessarily to make money, but to fund future book projects. In order to be able to write (and have our work read by people, rather than sitting around on our computers in complete obscurity), we need to have some money to put into our books. Whether it’s for cover art, editing, promotion, gifts. It’s almost impossible to make it in this business if you don’t invest anything into your books.

So, how do we sell books? We rely on our existing readers to buy our new releases, and we try to grow our readership by making it easy for our books to be found by people who’ve never heard of us before.

How do we get found? Dumb luck is too unreliable, so the answer is: advertising.

How do we advertise? When a reader finds us via our advertising, how do we make our book attractive enough to buy?

Some Facts about Advertising

  1. Not every advertising service actually works
  2. The ones that do work, won’t accept books without a proven track record
  3. They choose to measure the success of a book by its reviews
  4. Even if your book gets accepted without any or with few reviews, any reader who clicks on it, is going to feel nervous parting with their money, if they don’t trust the reviews
  5. Because it has to be said: Buying reviews is bad, so there’s no easy way out but to somehow encourage real people to leave real reviews
  6. Amazon (and perhaps other retailers as well), are rumoured to give more prominent placement of books with lots of good reviews.
  7. Think about how you buy books? Given the choice between two interesting titles, do you go for the one with no reviews or the one with 100 of them, and a 4.5 star average?

Together with having a good-looking cover, and a convincing product description, plus attractive price, reviews are a crucial part of turning a book that looks like nobody wants it into one which people are willing to spend on.

So, while I apologise for being pushy and annoying, asking for reviews, I hope this information explains my motivation behind it. And I hope next time you read a book, whether one of mine, or another author’s, you remember some of what I’ve said, and leave them a review. Even if it’s just a couple of sentences outlining what you liked about it. You’ll be contributing directly to that author’s career by doing so. And they’ll appreciate it, so much.

Happy Monday!

This Monday morning, I feel refreshed. I may be at work, and have a ton of stuff to finish this week, but things feel right. It helps that I’m basically on my own today (a colleague who never speaks, barely counts as company), so the peace & quiet is refreshing.For those of you who don’t follow me much on Facebook, I’ve had a very trying few weeks at the day job. It’s been so busy I barely know what to work on first, and as a result my personal life and I suppose my writing has suffered. On Friday, I was so fed up with it all, I abandoned my long to-do list and went home at 5 sharp. I didn’t care anymore. If I stayed late and finished everything, there’d be more to take its place by Monday.

I thought once I get home, sit in front of the TV, complain about how tired I am and fall asleep by about 10 pm, I’d have two days of nothingness in front of me. Two days of sitting around, letting the hours pass by, before heading straight back into work for the last four days before a much needed holiday. That didn’t happen. This is probably a good moment to explain that I am boring as fuck in real life. So is the hubby. We usually don’t go anywhere and an “active” weekend means we’ve done a bit of home improvement or taken a vehicle to be serviced.

Instead, the hubby suggested something crazy and out of character on Saturday. We should go clothes shopping. To illustrate just how insane it is for him to consider such an activity, nevermind to be the driving force behind it, allow me to give some examples of his attitude towards shopping and clothes in general:

  1. He NEVER throws anything away: some of his clothes actually belonged to his dad. 
  2. He is terrible at making decisions, in the rare event that he does buy an item of clothing, he generally can’t choose which colour to go for, so ends up with both.
  3. Online shopping was invented specifically for him so he doesn’t have to go out and deal with other shoppers, or inconveniences such as having to walk from shop to shop.
  4. He’s picky and never likes anything anyone else buys for him, but will generally wear it anyway because it’s a better option than having to go out and shop for himself.

So yeah. After I had already tired myself out trimming the hedge in our front garden (a convenient excuse to be outside spying on our new neighbours, who were just moving in – yep I’m one of those people, apparently), the simple phrase “I need some clothes.” got me disproportionately excited and off we went. Four hours later, our feet ached and we were on the way back with more stuff than I ever expected anyone to buy in a single shopping trip. It seems he caught a bit of holiday fever: the urge to go out and buy new outfits specifically to wear on holiday. And it’s contagious, because now I’ve got it too. 😛

Still feeling all enterprising and stuff on Sunday, we took the cruiser out for a lovely ride through the countryside. Amazing how sometimes a weekend of rest can make you feel more drained than one spent out and about. We’re travelling to Italy on Good Friday, and I’m hopeful that a similar thing will happen throughout the holiday. The plan is to mainly just see a lot of places, there’s not much room for downtime until we’re back on the 27th.

BTW: I’m not going to be online much from the 18th until the 27th, so if you’re going to get in touch during that time, please don’t think I’m ignoring you.

Covers, covers, everywhere!

For the past month or so I’ve been neck deep in covers. I’m looking at old ones, tried improving upon them without changing the overall look too much. And then I did a few weird and totally far-out experiments with totally different graphics. If you’ve been keeping an eye on my Amazon book listings (why on earth would you?), you may have noticed that some titles have started looking totally different, and then looked sort of normal again after a while. Here’s what happened:

1. Branding

I have decided (for better or for worse), that I want all my books to have very consistent branding, at least as far as my name goes. If you look at an Amazon page and one of mine pops up, it should be obvious (to those who know me) that it’s one of mine. How I’ve done it is by putting my name in exactly the same place on all covers, with a cute swirly symbol and a darker bar behind it. This is the case now for all my erotic titles (At First Sight hasn’t got it, because I thought perhaps it’s different enough that it should stand out). Examples below

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2. Abstract or not?

Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but when I read a blog post such as Joanna Penn’s on different approaches to covers and how they affect sales (hopefully), I tend to get a bit excitable. So I went ahead and looked high and low for suitable stock images I could use for some of my covers so that they’d have people on them. Because apparently people sell.

office-site-allJAD-girl-siteOnenight3-site?????????

 

 

 

 

 

Result: Apparently those people don’t sell. I’ve changed the Just Another Day at the Office cover back, despite being particularly proud of my efforts there and promptly sold some copies the very moment the cover reverted back to the old one. Talk about market feedback. The cover for Just for One Night is still like this on Amazon currently despite not having a wonderful effect on sales either. Why? Because I fucking adore it.

3. I think I’m getting better at this shit

Excuse me while I go overboard patting myself on the back, but I think my cover design skills have developed just a little lately. I’ve been staring at top 100 listings in my genre, trying to find something – anything- that would work for me. And although all the shirtless male torsos with rippling muscles seem to perform well, if you’ve read any of my work you’ll know that wouldn’t just be cheesy, it would be dishonest and horrible if I went down that route. (Also, stock photo sites don’t seem to offer the kind of shirtless male torso I’d want to see, without the addition of a grumpy face, a weighing scale or a tape measure, and that’s just not sexy).

*drum rolls* I give you…. the before & after shot!

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I fixed it, am I right? 😀 (Feel free to tell me otherwise, but the bar with the pretty swirly thing is staying! ’tis my brand now!)

Onenight2-siteOnenight3-site?????????

 

 

 

 

 

Again, I think the second one is better (though not as good as the third one, because that gloomy pub picture in my mind is almost horror-like and the story is really rather sweet & sexy).

Let me know what you think?

Dear Reviewers

Not a week goes by that there isn’t some author-lashing-out-against-negative-review or alternately reviewers-lashing-out-against-bad-author scandal going on in this exciting world of digital publishing. It seems like a good time to blatantly copy other author blogs to make a stand myself.

Recently, I ventured into the virtual “wild west” that is Goodreads and stayed longer than I normally would. You see, Goodreads, is a reader site. One where a lot of passionate people come together and write exactly how they felt about a certain book or story. It is known to be a potentially scary place for authors who are easily discouraged. It is the home of the “star rating only” review, where anyone can give a book as many (or few) stars they like, without necessarily stating why they feel that way or perhaps even without reading the book, as demonstrated by many books which attract stars before even hitting the shelves.

My usual approach to Goodreads is similar to what a lot of other authors do: Go in, hold your breath, add any new releases or make (only vital) amendments to existing books. And whatever you do, never scroll down to read the reviews. If at all possible, don’t even look at the average rating.

But as I said, recently, I ignored my usual M.O. in favour of actually looking around with my eyes wide open. I read every single review I hadn’t seen so far, looking for not just the occasional pat on the back which would keep me going, but also constructive criticism to help me improve. My ratings aren’t brilliant on Goodreads, but they’re probably quite normal, not terrible. Informal advice for authors states that Goodreads and Amazon averages will normally differ by one star, and that’s about what I saw.

While reading, and taking note of some of the issues reviewers found with my work, I tried to work out which were worth keeping in mind, and which were just down to a difference in taste. After all, you can’t write something that’ll appeal to everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. I also was reminded of the “like” feature which allows you to give a bit of appreciation for reviews and other content, similar to the “like” button you find on Facebook. Then I felt tempted to “like” all my reviews, even the bad ones. I may not agree with everyone’s opinion, but I appreciate they took the time to share.

To the right reader, a negative review complaining about a certain aspect of the story can be a positive. Perhaps the thing one reviewer didn’t like is something another is looking for. In any case, I appreciate someone out there taking the time to read my work and commenting on it. That’s a lot more than I could’ve hoped for a couple of years ago.

I felt worried though. If I “like” a negative review, could this be seen as trying to be sarcastic? Would it seem invasive to think that a nameless, faceless writer who sells their work on Amazon actually pays attention to Goodreads? I’ve heard of people getting into trouble for thanking a reviewer for a positive review, as though simply entering Goodreads is akin to reading someone’s private correspondence over their shoulder, or eavesdropping on a personal conversation among friends. I suppose I can see where people are coming from, yet at the same time, this is unrealistic. When you post your views on a public forum – a website anyone can sign up for and read through – that’s not private. It’s exactly the same as sharing incriminating photographs of yourself on Facebook and then being surprised when the cops knock on your door. The internet is not private.

But I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes either.

So I’m explaining myself here instead, on my home turf. I do appreciate all the reviews I’ve gotten. Even the negative ones, because they give me something to learn from. Thanks, everyone! And please keep ’em coming because nothing is lonelier than an Amazon listing with zero stars.

My Boring First Time

Since a fair proportion of my thoughts involve the subject of virginity, I figured it’s only fair to share my own first sexual experience. It’s possible I’ve mentioned it before, actually I don’t really remember and can’t be arsed to search through my older posts, so here goes…

In a time, about a decade ago, and a place which was in a different country from where I am now, I was 17 and somebody’s (online) girlfriend. We had known each other (online) for about one-and-a-half years and had met I believe twice before. I’m sorry in advance, it’s been a while and the details are very blurry.

The first time we met in person I was 16, and he was 21, and we made out and fooled around a bit but there was no sex-sex. The second time, at his place, there were too many parents and other such people around to be able to get away with anything much. My memory is trying to tell me he wasn’t that interested anyway, didn’t see the need to hurry and might’ve even liked the idea of waiting, but I’m not 100% sure now.

I on the other hand was not (and still am not) known for my patience.

So, upon seeing each other again around the time of my High School Graduation, we were messing about a bit in my bedroom and I decided it was time. Rather than jerk him off or doing a sort of strange dry humping type thing, I wanted to know what the real thing would be like. I don’t recall being particularly turned on, just sort of curious.

“Let’s try it,” I said. “If you don’t want to after that, we don’t have to do it again.”

He sort of shrugged and mumbled something about thinking we were going to wait, then agreed and I took my panties off.

After climbing on top and trying to figure out what the right angle would be (I’d practised with a vibrator before, but that’s different), I soon figured out a way and the initial stinging went away pretty quick too. I rode him, he came, I didn’t, and it was overall alright.

A little while later we did it again and that was also OK. Then we had a shower together and my insides were on fire and I wondered if that burning feeling would ever go away.

It did by the next day, so we did it again, and a few times later I figured out how to make myself cum. If anyone’s taking notes, he was quite slim, I was as well, and him sitting with legs crossed with me on top, grinding into him while hanging on from my arms around his waist did the job at the time. Sadly, now that I’m not so skinny, any sort of thigh fat gets in the way, plus the hubby’s thighs are quite muscular, so that technique no longer works. Thankfully others do.

I always found it quite amusing that at 17 I lost it at the same age as my mom (yes, we talked about issues like this). Though to this day I wonder if her experience was more exciting. I should probably ask her next time we’re downing wine in front of the TV and expect a blushy, awkward, response in between coughs that starts with: “What have you got to ask me that for…”

There may be people reading this now, thinking “OMG that sounds boring as shit, don’t you regret it? Sure he was your boyfriend at the time, but don’t you wish your first time was more… special?”

No, I don’t really care. My virginity wasn’t precious and it didn’t need to be guarded with my life and handed only to my knight in shining armour. And let’s be clear here, that guy was no knight of any sort.

There had to be a first time, and I’m glad it was consensual, that’s all there is to it for me. It might’ve been better if I’d been madly and passionately in love with the guy. But really, the first time is going to hurt and you’re not going to be particularly good at it. The second time it gets a little better, the third, fourth, fifth times perhaps you’ll start to see the point of it. Or not, I’m pretty sure I got over the novelty of it pretty quickly- with him, anyway. I have zero patience for regrets and what-ifs.

I think when you’re with someone compatible enough and you do find that passion, you’ll have an awesome experience anyway. And if it isn’t your (boring) first time, at least you’ll have the frame of reference necessary to know how great it was, plus you’ll know what to do. Sounds like a double win to me.

I Get Shy Talking About My Writing…

I Get Shy Talking About My Writing… And it’s not why you think.

Right, you’re reading this probably because you’ve read my stories and after that might’ve followed me on social media or happened upon this site. Chances are we know each other at least loosely, indirectly. I have zero self awareness on this issue, so I’m not sure if you’d find what comes next surprising, or if I am way more obvious than I thought…

The idea of telling people what I write about makes me feel weird and icky inside. I get a sort of ticklish sensation right above the stomach, sometimes higher up in my chest, which grows into an uncomfortable pressure of varying intensity. This sensation tells me that I’d like to just say what I’m about to say, but preferably not while I’m still standing in front of you (whether literally or figuratively). I’d like to find the right words, write them down and leave you a note. Then I could run away while you read and understand it so I don’t have to deal with any feedback or risk getting nervous and blurting it out all wrong. These instincts are very inconvenient in a time when writers are supposed to be their own best spokespeople; I can’t afford to end up in a crowd and answer the question with a whispered: “Oh, just some stories, no big deal. Tell me about yourself instead!”

I’ve tried saying I write Erotic Romance which is true enough, but doesn’t feel quite right to me. Another possibility is to say I write ‘Romance with sex’, which is essentially the same but makes me feel like I’m about to be misunderstood and lost between the imagery of rapey alpha male knights and innocent maidens with heaving bosoms. I’d like you to understand, I really do, I just don’t want to have to open up enough to make it happen.

It’s not the sex. I don’t really give a shit about the fucking, the crude language, the cum stained sheets or used condoms that might feature in some of my stories (Mental note: must include cum stains in a future story, that would be hilarious); these things don’t embarrass me. Sex is easy, fun, quite acceptable even.

What gets me tied in knots is that I write about people who are real to me: strange, awkward people with fears and worries and hang-ups that often don’t even need to exist. Secretly, I like them better the more fucked up they are, which to me is quite a horrible thing to admit because it reeks of Schadenfreude. Then I try to justify it by giving those same people a happy ending with lots of fireworks along the way. My absolute favourite thing in the world is to watch (and write about) an underdog ending up on top.

Is that strange? Probably not, if one is to believe expressions like “everyone loves an underdog”. So why do I worry so much about how people will react? I’m not even that bothered about the sorts of people who think the character in question is weak and would prefer a confident type who swoops in with all the answers and the Great Handbook of Sexual Technique memorised beginning to end. Quite the opposite: what worries me the most is for someone to come up to me and say: “What made you think you could take a person / scenario / characteristic like this and use it for entertainment and profit. You’ve made me look and feel like an asshole because of it. How dare you!”

I think it’s because growing up I’ve always felt like an underdog myself. While the popular kids would reject me, I could count on solidarity from the other “outcasts”: I was never truly alone. And it would be a tragedy if something I did made another person feel worse somehow, even if it was unintentional. I’d prefer if it were the opposite actually, but that would make me sound all pretentious, so rather than admit to that, I’d prefer to sit quietly in the crowd, observing and keeping my thoughts to myself… Unless I have something funny to say.

Piracy & Why You Shouldn’t Give a Fuck

If you have a strong opinion about the subject of piracy, specifically ebook piracy, this post may either interest you or ruin your morning. If the word piracy makes your stomach turn and cause anger to well up inside you until you feel like spewing venom all over the computer screen, you may want to give it a miss, especially if you’re very attached to your side of things no matter what anyone says…

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Piracy is bad.

Right? That’s what we’re all supposed to believe as authors. Pirates are evil thieves who might as well come into our house at night, take money out of our wallets and crap in our beds. It’s the lowest form of sharing entertainment or knowledge, because its creators do not get direct compensation. Every pirated movie, song, book, whatever, that gets downloaded in this world, is a slap in the face to its creator, nothing else.

I tend to disagree.

Before Christmas, a group of us launched Gratis: Midwinter Tales. Because I’m obsessive like that (and I’m in charge of keeping the website over at gratisanthology.com up to date), I did regular google searches for our title to see if we’d got any blog mentions. Within days, I found a hit from a torrent website. For those of you who aren’t aware, torrents are tiny little files that give a torrent software all the data it needs to download the contents of the file from random strangers online who were kind enough to share it to the world. You can use torrents to download movies, songs, books, software, for free. Usually people use them to share and obtain paid content for free in which case it’s illegal and often what is meant by the term “internet piracy”.

Anyway, back to Gratis: Midwinter Tales. Someone had put this book into a massive collection of Anthologies. Gratis is supposed to be free anyway, but that’s not the point. I don’t know if the other featured anthologies were free or paid. When I downloaded the torrent (selecting only Gratis, before anyone gets their panties in a twist that I downloaded a shit ton of potentially pirated other books), it transpired that it was one of the first versions I’d uploaded to Smashwords.

My first reaction was one of shock. The book had only just gone live, and already someone downloaded it and put it into this collection. This was unexpected and filled me with pride because to me it meant that someone thought it was WORTH putting into that collection. When I was about to share this happy news with others, I wondered though, if perhaps they wouldn’t be equally excited.

Every time I see the subject of piracy come up on Facebook (today is no exception), the affected author feels hurt, outraged and betrayed. Of course there’s a big difference between having a free book “pirated” rather than a paid one, but in truth, when I search for my name on google, I would welcome to see my paid stuff shared freely as well.

More often than not you’ll see statements like:

“I spent ages sending take-down notices to the sites, this is such a pain in the ass and I’d much rather not have to deal with this!”

“It was a review / giveaway copy. I feel so upset, I don’t think I’m going to give out review copies any more or hold giveaways, because you just can’t trust people to be decent nowadays!”

“Pirates are thieves and should understand that when someone downloads my book on there it directly affects my bottom line as an author. I wish people would understand it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as stealing a physical item from me personally!”

And then underneath you’ll see dozens, perhaps hundreds of comments from sympathetic well wishers who join in condemning the evil pirate. Looking at it all, I am often forced to sit on my hands to prevent me from saying something wrong. I want to be balanced and offer another view that might alleviate the frustration the author feels at finding his/her content pirated, but really I feel like starting off with the following:

“Fucking get over yourself!”

This may make me a cold-hearted bitch, but really, I fucking hate seeing all these melodramatic rants about how the author’s children are going to go hungry just because a book got “leaked”. They’re not. It doesn’t fucking matter.

Piracy = lost sales

This is what a lot of people think. If my book is pirated, more people will get it for free and not pay for it. This must be correct, because the music industry keeps crying about exactly the same thing (and they are wrong). Therefore, finding a pirated version of my book is a potentially world-ending disaster which will leave me penniless. Fuck, no!

The biggest problem is, it’s impossible to measure exactly how many sales are supposedly lost by piracy. You can’t go back and test how much you would’ve sold, had your product not been pirated.

Let’s think about this by looking at why people might download stuff for free instead of paying for it:

1. They’re cheap bastards who don’t want to pay for anything.

While you may feel that these people are filthy criminals, such a person does not represent a lost sale. If they don’t download your book for free illegally, they might move on to the thousands of free books legally available on Amazon. They’d have reading material to last their entire lives without ever having to pay a penny.

2. They’re after a particular book, but couldn’t easily find it for sale, or upon trying to purchase it legally found the cost to be prohibitive.

This applies more perhaps to traditionally published books, or self published books which are available only in some regions or on some platforms. If someone’s got a Kobo reader, but you publish only on Amazon, they’re not going to buy a Kindle just to read your book. They may not know how to download a book purchased on Amazon and convert it for use on the Kobo reader either, so the easiest thing to do is perhaps to find out if someone’s already done the hard work for them and put it on a torrent website. Similarly, if you want to sell your 20 page werewolf gangbang story for $9.99, Mr. Pirate is likely to get pissed off and download it for free out of spite. Again, if your (traditional) publisher has in all their wisdom decided that the US gets your release right away, and the rest of the world can wait, because readers there are clearly not as valuable, the same might happen. Piracy may have lost some sales, but really, publisher / author stupidity had already lost the bulk of the sales before Mr. Pirate comes along.

3. I really love this book I purchased on Amazon/wherever and I’d like to pass it on to a friend who I think will enjoy it.

You can do that with a paperback fairly easily, and noone will say it’s piracy or theft. Digital content somehow is subject to different rules and as a reader, I don’t know why that should be the case. To me, a book is a book. But apparently according to Amazon, any ebook I’ve purchased, is actually “licensed content”. If they want to (and they have in October with controversial titles), they can just take it away from me without refunding my money. I’m not easily able to lend the book to a friend. And if I ever buy another ereader, I’m technically not allowed to keep my books and convert them to a different format, because they want to lock me into the Kindle ecosystem. As a reader and a consumer accustomed to free choice, this pisses me off greatly. Just because I want to buy a new, prettier book case, doesn’t mean I will throw out all the books I already own!

If I take a file I purchased legitimately and email it to a friend and openly admit to doing it, I have to worry about the anti-piracy brigade to group together and tell me I’m a filthy thief for not buying the paperback and giving it to that same friend. How the fuck is that fair, I still paid for the damn book in the first place?

Anyway, let’s now look at the possible consequences of piracy:

1. Visibility

Your title up on a torrent website may make more people aware of its existence. It’s like free advertising. Indie filmmakers tend to see the value in trying to get more people to find out about their new movie, so they may even share it themselves.

“The biggest threat facing authors and publishers today is not piracy, it’s obscurity.” – Smashwords founder Mark Coker. See the article I stole that quote from here, it’s well worth it.

2. If it’s any good…

Someone who gets the book for free, who may be new to your work, perhaps really ends up loving it. Maybe they’ll take you seriously as an author and actually go out and buy the rest of your books. Even if they don’t, or you don’t have other books, perhaps they’ll tell their friends about how awesome you are. This, of course is a win as well.

The entire Music piracy debate I’ve referenced above, has actually stirred up some data that music piracy has been shown to increase sales rather than hurt them. Think about that for a moment. When something is good quality, and someone gets it for free, they are motivated to then spend money on it or related products. A reader who gets a free copy of your book, may love the story and the characters that they’re not content with their free version. They may buy a paperback version to proudly display in their home or buy the audiobook to listen to on their way to work. They may turn up at signings and conventions just to see you and buy a hardcover just so they can get your autograph.

How to prevent piracy

People are lazy, we all know this, because deep down every one of us is lazy too. We want to get the maximum result with the minimum effort from our side. We want awesome books, right now, at a fair price and for the ereader of our choice. Some of us think $4.99 is a fair price, and some of us think 0 is a fair price.

If you’re a self published author, you’re in luck because you can effectively counter a lot of the reasons I mentioned in the previous section that might drive a reader to piracy. Make your book easily available in as many places and on as many platforms as possible, and make it a fair price. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher may be to blame for any piracy issues you face. Good luck to you, but it’s still not worth getting that upset about something you cannot control.

Treat your readers right

If you’re anything like me, you value your readers. You still feel that excitement every so often at the thought that someone out there actually wanted to read something you wrote. It’s even more exciting to think someone not only wanted to read it, they were happy to pay for it as well. But don’t forget that just being willing to spend time (as opposed to money) to read your work is a pretty big deal.

A lot of us need to earn something from this writing gig, but don’t be a cheap bastard about it, because readers don’t like to be treated like criminals.

If someone pirated a review copy, and you know who it is, don’t give that person another one if it bothers you so much. But reviews are too valuable to stop giving out copies altogether.

If someone pirates a book received in a giveaway (similar though unrelated, if the very next day after winning a paperback on Goodreads, someone puts it on Ebay), don’t stop doing giveaways of any kind.

Don’t be an asshole to all your readers, just because one of them shared a book of yours on a torrent website. Some of your readers will understand why you’re upset, a lot may not.

Don’t worry about emailing every website to take down your work, it’s a lot of hassle and often has no effect anyway.

Instead, try to feel pleased that at least you’re “famous” enough to be pirated in the first place. Make yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or grab a glass of wine and take a deep breath.

It’s not the fucking end of the world. And be glad you weren’t plagiarised instead, because that’s way worse.

 

The Old & the New

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone!

I feel inspired today. Granted, I may have glanced over some of the New Year’s Resolutions or the more sensibly named Goals for 2014 posts on Facebook without taking much of the information in properly. I may also have previously pooh-poohed the need most people seem to exhibit for about a week in early January before slipping into old habits and forgetting all about that brilliant plan to visit a gym three times a week. Nevermind that those extra pounds always seem to ruin any attempts made to purchase a new pair of jeans (except jeggings, thank god for jeggings), junk food and sweets always win by the 20th of January, or early February for the most disciplined of us all.

No! This isn’t one of those posts. (Although I could really use a kick up my arse to finally start using that treadmill which has been collecting dust in my living room. Volunteers, form a neat queue and please, no pointy shoes!).

Instead I’d like to talk books & writing.

2013 has been pretty good, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. It helps to be reminded of just what all has transpired and then perhaps figure out a way to top it in 2014. So let’s start, at the beginning:

3rd of January 2013: I published Just Another Day at the Office Part 1. I had been writing this story for several months at that point and felt like something really had to happen. Mostly it was due to impatience that I was wasting my time with just one short story up on Amazon which wasn’t really doing much. But nevertheless, I published Part 1, and by May had the whole serial out. My first novel(ish) length work. I never thought I’d have the drive to follow through but somehow I got there!

5th of February: Part 2 came out and it was still the good old days when KDP Select could make an impact (that’s the Amazon scheme that gives you 5 days to make your book free as a promo, in exchange for exclusivity). So of course I had to try it for myself. I gave away loads of copies of Just Another Day 1, and sold a bunch of Just Another Day 2. I finally felt like a real writer, and knew I had to start acting like one.

Also in  February: Not sure of the exact date, but I was recently reminded by expiration warning emails from my domain name registrar that this site is up for renewal in February. It’s hard to imagine now because it feels like so much time has passed in between, but this website isn’t even one year old! The next thing I did was start a mailing list, because apparently everyone should have one. I still feel like I’m a bit new to the concept (and who in their right mind would want to receive emails from me every month?), but I think it went pretty well, all things considered.

March: I published Just for One Night (I know, I should really sit my ass down and write that sequel I’ve been hinting at), and Just Another Day 3. This of course does not mean I actually wrote two things in March. Sadly I have this thing called Compulsive Procrastination Syndrome which means I write stuff, leave it half / mostly finished and ignore it for months at a time before finally getting it done and published.

May: Just Another Day 4 and with it the end of the serial. Cath & John’s story felt complete. I can’t even begin to explain (again) how very pleased I was and still am. I often dreamed but never fully believed I could write a full book. Now I know that I can because I have: this is going to be the first of many!

July: Just Another Day at the Office came out in print 🙂 It was extremely exciting to hold it for the first time.

October: A much needed sequel to Ladies’ Day came out: British Champions. I promise I won’t leave it another year before continuing that particular story…

December: Gratis: Midwinter Tales came out. A free anthology featuring some amazing talent in the genre, which also happily kicks off another series of mine, The Rebound List, conveniently while I still haven’t finished some stuff I’d started earlier in the year. Of everything I’ve done this year, Gratis was basically the grand finale. In fact I was shocked by the interest we saw in this anthology and encouraged to try and replicate it…

What’s next?

So, enough reminiscing and patting myself on the back for 2013. What’s important now is to look ahead at what needs to happen in this coming year to keep growing as a writer and self publisher!

The Rebound List: I had set myself a goal of finishing #2 in this series in December. Sadly I failed. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up, so right now I’m aiming for January. Hopefully the remaining parts will follow soon after so I can add another full length release to my catalogue.

Just for One Night: That sequel. I know, really, I’ve been way too lax about this one. And the same goes for what happens after British Champions. I’ve got a vague idea for both, but nothing concrete.

Gratis: There will be another Gratis collection scheduled to publish on the 20th of March. The line-up is already looking good, even if I’ve yet to put the first word on paper for my contribution. 🙂

Audio: I desperately want to release Just Another Day (1? Maybe more?) in audio. While I do not fully get audio books (not fiction, anyway), I love listening to podcasts and such in the car. For me the draw is that I get to be entertained and (since they’re podcasts, not fiction,) learn something. But it would be so cool to revisit this story and bring it to life a bit. I have a few parts of it recorded already, hopefully I can get organised and finish it shortly.

Video? Closely related to the audio goal above, wouldn’t it be cool to post the same on youtube? A lot of people create book trailers for their work, which I don’t fully understand. But it might be nice to do some videos of books being read out and perhaps some relevant imagery? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s something to think about.

Diversification: I love the stories I’ve written, the genre I’ve played around in (Erotic Romance). It’s a lot of fun and seems to work well for me because I constantly seem to dream up new stories. This last bit is especially weird because I’ve never been a reader of Romance really. My usual reading tastes are much darker, ranging from Fantasy to Crime and Horror. So because of that, I’d really love to try my hand at something else under a different name… Perhaps 2014 will be the year I diversify!

Efficiency and Timeliness: Since starting the newsletter in March, I believe I skipped one month where I had nothing to say and been late on multiple occasions. This year I won’t skip a single one, I hope! Also, hopefully I’ll have more to add to the blog. What would everyone like to see on here? More previews of stuff that’s in progress perhaps? I’m not a natural born blogger, so coming up with thoughtful articles all the time is just simply not going to happen. Expect off topic rambling and rants, perhaps the occasional anecdote. Now if only I had enough of a life to have suitable material…

Stuff that’s in progress: I have a significant part of a new story written, tentatively called The Best & Worst Year. I know where it’s going, but just haven’t done enough with it. This year, I will. It’s a bit weird, this one, but I know it must be told. Obviously I already hinted at another story for Gratis 2, it’s meant to have a spring / Valentine’s theme and I hopefully will have something. I also have an idea for a fantasy / historical thing which is attempting to develop into a story which will hopefully see the light of day in 2014. This would be one of those attempts of mine to diversify, because I do love fantasy as a genre. But this one still feels pretty erotic as things stand right now.

Marketing / Promotion: perhaps I’ll crack Twitter this year? Nah, probably not. OK, advertising then? I’ll try, but I really don’t know… Perhaps the way forward is to just keep working away and trust that those who will enjoy it, will end up finding it somehow. Maybe 2014 will be the year that I get the fuck off Facebook and onto Google+ write more. Realistically though, that’s not likely to happen.

 

Anyway, I suppose what I’m trying to say in a really roundabout way is that yesterday, on the first day of a brand new year, I spent a lot of time moping around on the sofa feeling depressed. One could guess that it was due to the holidays coming to an end and the day job starting again. Or the prospect of having to take down the Christmas tree which seemed to make the living room so much nicer to be in. It was neither of those things though, instead I was sad because I’d read a bad review. It wasn’t even directed at me personally, just at something I believe in 100%. And somehow I felt a stab deep inside my heart because this other person, a complete stranger, could not see my vision and understand the intent behind it. That’s pathetic, ridiculous even. Why should I feel upset just because some person somewhere doesn’t like something I like? Have I ever sat around wondering why the world is so cruel because a stranger doesn’t like chocolate as much as I do? No, I haven’t.

Why is this different?

Essentially it is exactly the same thing. Tastes differ, and that’s fine. People have opinions and feel like they ought to express them even when they don’t fit in with mine. Fuck it. Despite all that, 2013 has been a great year and I ought to feel happy about everything that’s happened in it. And 2014 will be even better, so long as I don’t get distracted!

Sexual Bucket List – Hedonist Style

Last night, over some (a lot of) wine, I noticed a link on Facebook. This link.

Some of the items on that list seemed a bit boring, so I decided to create my own personalised version. Now I’m not saying that I’ve done all of the below (there’s still time), but let’s just say I’d score 30.

1. Kiss a girl & Like it
2. Masturbate in public
3. Masturbate with someone else present who didn’t notice (or at least they didn’t let on), extra points if it was a parent.
4. Use a friend’s pic on FB as “(s)inspiration”
5. Have a wet dream about someone you’re not romantically involved with
6. Sleepy / passed out sex
7. Let your partner sleep with someone else
8. Watch
9. Sleep with someone else with your partner’s permission
10. Food play
11. Strap on sex
12. Masturbate in front of a friend
13. Sex in the bath, realising it’s so not worth getting bruised knees over
14. Finger a guy & make him like it
15. Develop a fetish you don’t want to tell anyone about
16. Threesome
17. Sex somewhere outdoors where you could be discovered at any moment
18. Have a Tumblr feed which should never be opened in the presence of workmates / anyone, ever
19. Post a questionable picture on Facebook and pretend it never happened
20. Sell sex toys online
21. Realise selling sex toys online is a crap business idea
22. Write your fantasies down and charge people for them
23. Have a fake identity nobody knows about
24. Honeymoon sex
25. All the positions in the Kamasutra
26. Pregnant sex
27. Unsafe sex, because you simply couldn’t help it
28. Cybersex
29. Confess your deepest, darkest desires to someone, even the really icky ones
30. Draw blood (accidentally?)
31. Do a virgin
32. Age gap, extra points if over 10 years
33. Make up / break up sex
34. Get spanked for being a bad, bad girl and resist urge to spank back
35. Cry during an orgasm

What would you score?