The War Against Erotica

Last week, Barnes & Noble deleted approximately half of the erotica from their site and banned the accounts of dozens of erotica authors. Authors who were affected were sent form emails that simply stated the author had violated B&N’s policies — and authors who followed up to ask for further information or to make a case that they had not violated the policy were simply sent the same form email again. By the end of the week, it seemed that B&N had reversed whatever decision they’d made and reinstated most (or perhaps all) author accounts and their books.

Currently, Amazon is going through KDP accounts. If you have a KDP account, you might’ve noticed that your books are all out of order when you log in — that’s because when Amazon “investigates” a book, it jumps to the top of your list as it’s the most recently modified file. So far, it seems that few (if any) erotica books or accounts are being banned. Amazon has not said a word about what they’re doing — so authors are unsure if it’s another crackdown on erotica or if it’s perhaps something more innocent (like adjusting file information for the new Kindle Unlimited page numbering and payment system).

Erotica authors are, understandably, quite nervous right now.

This isn’t the first time a vendor has cracked down on erotica — these “pornpocalypses” happen on an almost annual basis. Huge catalogues of books are blocked or thrown in the “adult dungeon” on Amazon, authors lose their accounts, and that brings about the end of their self-publishing careers.

It’s a frustrating experience because vendors such as Amazon (who blasts erotica catalogues on an almost annual basis), Kobo (who did an erotica purge last year), and Barnes & Noble (which caused mass panic among erotica authors last week), make a ton of money on self-published erotica. They don’t like to admit it, though. In fact, when someone makes a stink about all the erotica on these book sites, the sites respond with a message like “Yikes! We had no idea this was going on! We’re going to delete everything!” Once the inevitable media attention dies down, these sites let their erotica catalogues grow again — until someone new raises a stink.

There are any number of reasons for this — but there is one reason that stands out above all others: We bring this on ourselves.

Not all of us bring this upon ourselves, but certain individuals within the self-publishing community make poor choices that lead to this unnecessary scrutiny and subsequent disaster.

I’m not normally the type to name names and call people out on their bad behaviour, nor am I one to usually make an example of bad books. (Nor am I one to freely swear in blog posts.) Today is different. Today, instead of talking about what we should be doing, I’m going to show you some examples of what people are doing that are wrong — because, apparently, we aren’t getting the message through to some people.

Chances are that if you’ve read this far, you’re one of the authors that treats self-publishing as a profession and you don’t do these things, so I may be preaching to the choir here. Nevertheless, let’s get started…

Self-Publishing is a Profession

Self-publishing may be a hobby to some, but it’s a profession for others. Even if it’s a hobby to you, you want your books to appear as professional and top-notch as possible. If you’re throwing garbage on Amazon and Smashwords, then what’s the point of self-publishing?

You can cut corners on editing and cover design, especially if this is more of a hobby for you, but unless you’re a very experienced author, you cannot write a draft and throw it up for sale. You need an editor. I have multiple pen names and I’ve been published over 80 times. I need an editor. I’ve published about a million words, but that doesn’t mean I can publish without a proper edit.

If you can’t afford an editor, then get a well-read friend to give you honest and critical feedback. If they say it’s perfect, find someone else, as they are either not experienced enough or objective enough. No one is a perfect writer. Also, a proofread is not an edit.

If you don’t want to get an editor or an objective friend because you are doing this as a hobby, then join a writers group and don’t self-publish. Don’t fuck things up for the rest of us.

At the core of all this is an ignorance of the very basic rules of story telling, such as:

Point of view. Pick a point of view. Stick with it. Don’t head-hop. If you don’t know what these mean, Google them.

Grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you’re having trouble with sentence structure and your editor isn’t doing a good enough job, run your story through the Hemingway App or Grammarly to at least catch some of the problems. If you use the Hemingway App, it tells you what grade level your writing is at — you want to aim for about grade 5 for easy readability. (Using these sites are not a replacement for honest and critical feedback from an editor.)

Don’t refer to the cover image. I went perusing Smashwords’s recent publications and I found two books that refer to the cover image. The first was by a young writer (who I will not call out, as they are beginning this wonderful journey of writing and publishing and will make mistakes along the way) who had published two books — one was a novella and the other was a “book” that just had the cover image so that you could look at it.

But then…

Annette

This one, though, when Annette is introduced, the narration literally says “That’s Annette on the cover of this story!”

That floored me. An author directly and overtly referring to the cover image? That is a huge no-no for fiction writing. It could work for non-fiction, but only in special circumstances.

The quality of writing in self-published works ranges from better-than-traditional-authors to absolutely atrocious. I have stopped reading self-published works because half of them are by authors who don’t know story structure, POV, grammar, punctuation, or any of the dozens of things that an author must know. This is also why I’ve stopped reviewing books. I get offers from authors I know can write extremely well, but I also get offers from authors who are nowhere near ready for publication — and I don’t have the time to sort through this.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that there is a lot of very excellent self-published fiction out there. I have just grown tired of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

The biggest problem I’ve found with self-published fiction is that too often there simply isn’t a story, or at least not enough of one. Two people meeting and falling happily in love? That’s not a story. You need tension and conflict — maybe they meet but can’t stand each other (which is how a lot of romances work), maybe one has to win the affections of the other, perhaps the romance is a secondary storyline to an adventure plot.

Unless it’s a short story, you can have the problem solved on the first attempt. The heroes need to fail and come up with a new strategy to win the day.

A perfect romance is not a story. An effortless and conflict-free hookup is not a story.

If you don’t have a story, don’t publish a fucking book.

Invest in a Cover

You can usually identify a self-published title at a glance — because of the atrocious cover.

I’ve seen:

  • hand-drawn covers. Don’t ever do this.
  • covers that are not “book sized”. All covers should be at or close to a 2:3 ratio, such as 1600×2400 pixels; do not do a square cover or a different ratio UNLESS it’s an audiobook or a kids book. Even then, if the kids book is an ebook, you want a cover that fits on an ereader… which is at or close to a 2:3 ratio.
  • covers made with paper, scissors, and tape, then scanned and uploaded.
  • covers made in Paint or Word.
  • obviously copyrighted photos used illegally.

Ideally, you would invest in hiring a cover artist or cover design company.

However, this may be out of your budget range. You can easily purchase a stock photo and use Photoshop (or a free equivalent like Gimp or a user-friendly online program like Canva) to put something together. You can even find free stock photo sites that offer royalty-free images that you can use for any purpose.

If you are purchasing stock photography, make sure that the site you are purchasing from allows you to use it for erotic ebooks (read the terms and conditions).

And for the love of God, pick a photo that is at least remotely sexy.

Here we have a cottage that may be a location in the book — but if I’m looking for jerk-off material, I won’t even give this a second glance:

Nancy

And I don’t know what the fuck this is:

kingdom

And I highly doubt President Trump makes an appearance in this book:

conversation

Also, that author is opening themselves up to a lawsuit from the lawsuit-loving president.

And, please, don’t use garish, neon font.

Also, make it readable.

Product Descriptions

Write a product description that entices the reader and draws them in. Blurbs are written in first tense, are not weighed down with unnecessary detail, and are engaging.

None of the blurbs on the books I’ve shared here are good. Most of them are godawful.

For examples, look at traditionally published books and take notes on what they’re doing.

Categories

This is the reason we’re in this mess!

Categorize your stories properly.

Let’s look at this one:

lolitta

This is incest erotica being categorized as coming of age fiction. What the fuck?

Should you choose two categories? Yes. But for fuck’s sake, make them relevant. Incest erotica is NOT coming of age fiction. I’d barely call it “romance >> erotic”, but I’m willing to let that slide as I haven’t read the book and that’s at least an appropriate category. If this author wanted an appropriate secondary category, I would have gone with “fiction >> erotica >> men’s erotica”.

Let’s look again at the others we’ve already called out:

conversation

^ That’s somehow both business fiction and action romance? If the author meant it’s a romance set in the workplace, the proper place to make that distinction is in the tags, not the business category.

And then there was this:

kingdom

^ I think this might’ve been miscategorized. The blurb seems to indicate political science, not general romance.

And we also saw this:

Nancy

^ “Women’s fiction”? Really? Granted, I haven’t read the story, but… generally books about prostitutes are not women’s fiction. That genre tends to be about women finding themselves, recovering from loss, finding strength in family, etc. While it’s not impossible for this to be women’s fiction, I doubt that’s the best category.

And, finally, we started off with this:

Annette

^ I read the whole thing. It’s not contemporary romance. It’s not any kind of romance. It’s not even a fucking story. It’s a scene (that evidently refers to the cover image). If I had to choose a category, wow… I’d go with… uh… general fiction or perhaps literature (though that’s a stretch).

The Problem With Miscategorization

Shitty writing, crappy covers, and atrocious blurbs are bad enough for the self-publishing industry, as it gives us the reputation that we rightly deserve, but above absolutely everything, it is miscategorization that is killing the erotica self-publishing industry.

In self-publishing resources, we are told to think creatively with categories. If you write a western romance, you could categorize it as general romance and historical romance — but if you instead categorize it as general romance and western, then you get the readers who read westerns and are open to a romance book. It’s sound advice.

That is — it’s sound advice for romance, but you have to be careful with erotica.

You don’t fucking categorize incest as coming of age fiction.

Let me explain what happens:

  • A mother and child go on Amazon or Smashwords to look for a good ebook
  • They type in some innocent keywords or click on some ideal categories (coming of age fiction, perhaps)
  • They scroll through the list together until they find “Sex With Daddy For An Easy A”
  • The mother sends the child out of the room and, mouth agape with horror, clicks around a bit more and finds more incest or extreme erotica mixed in among kid-friendly titles
  • The mother contacts Amazon and complains
  • Amazon is slow to respond, so the mother goes to the local media
  • The media raises a stink
  • Amazon releases a press statement that say “Yikes! We didn’t know this was happening! We’re deleting everything now!”
  • All of us who play by the rules have any of the following happen:
    • Our titles get banned / removed
    • Our titles get put behind the “adult filter” (also known as “dungeoning”) and our sales plummet because we’re not as discoverable anymore
    • Our accounts may be cancelled, ending our self-publishing career, as Amazon bans your tax ID number permanently

Sound extreme?

I can almost guarantee that’s what happened at Barnes & Noble last week, minus the part about the media. It happened a year or two ago when a mother and daughter were looking for animal books and found erotica on Amazon. It happened last year on Kobo.

Those of us who play by the rules have to sit back and try not to stress out as our erotica colleagues are getting hit by the “ban hammer” and try not to freak out over the same thing possibly happening to us. Those who are in it for the quick buck — likely those that break all the rules — give up and move on. The industry recovers, we get back on our feet, and then a newbie who’s heard that erotica is an easy way to make big money comes in and breaks all the rules — throwing us into the same cycle.

If you’re thinking of writing erotica, here’s how you make money on it:

Write. Edit. Revise. Proofread. Get a cover. Publish. Repeat.

That’s it.

The money in erotica (other than risky and temporary trends and highs that lead to you eventually getting banned) is in building a catalogue. I have over 80 erotic titles under various pen names and I make a decent income from writing.

More importantly, it’s consistent income.

Sure, a rule breaker might make a ton of money before they go and wreck everything for the rest of us, but those of us who are in it for the long haul make more money over time.

I’m not perfect.

I never claim to be. I’ve made mistakes and I continue to do so.

I also don’t like calling people out on their shit. Everyone starts somewhere and if any of these authors are new to self-publishing, the last thing they need is a public lashing.

But I’ve had it.

I am probably one of the most patient and understanding people you will meet, but I’ve had it with those who constantly break the rules in search of a quick buck and just end up making the rest of our lives a living hell.

I continue to support indie authors

I know how hard it is to make money as an indie author. Truth be told, most of us do it because we love telling stories, not because we’re chasing money.

My offer for book promotion help is always open and is always indie-friendly. This rant doesn’t change that fact.

Indie publishing is a lot of fun — it’s challenging, but it’s fun. If you’re a total newbie to self-publishing or if you’re perhaps guilty of making some of these mistakes (or perhaps you’re one of the authors I made an example of) — don’t let this hinder you from doing this, if this is really what you want to do.

Learn from your mistakes, learn from the mistakes of others, and strive to do better.

Like I said, I’m not perfect. I’ve made many mistakes with self-publishing, but I learned from them. I’ve also learned from looking at what other authors do — both good and bad.

Anyone with interest, patience, and perseverance can do this.

Let’s write some good books. 🙂

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It’s Butt Week!

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I’m participating in Butt Week!

All week long, CB Archer is holding a rump-tastic party filled with great deals, free books, prizes, games, and more! Click on the graphic above or below to visit CB’s site and learn more!

And I’ve got two books on sale this week! Both Forbidden Desires: The Complete Series and Go-Go Boys of Club 21: The Complete Series are on sale on Amazon for only $0.99 each! (Click the Butt Week graphic above or below to find the links to these books and all the other amazing MM reads on sale this week!)

bw-tw

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Forbidden Desires: The Complete Series

Forbidden-Desires-2400

Forbidden Desires: The Complete Series

Cameron D. James and Sandra Claire

There are some lines not mean to be crossed … some desires that are forbidden. But try as one might, some taboos are simply too irresistible to hold sacred.

From a young man hooking up with his best friend’s dad, someone he’s always considered to be like a father, to a priest who engages in carnal sins with a parishioner, to a bombastic American president and his illicit love affair with an illegal Mexican rentboy … these men explore the forbidden, indulging in their deepest, darkest desires.

Collected in one volume are three such stories — tales of forbidden passions and devious desires.

Forbidden Desires is a 78,000-word bundle that collects Seduced By My Best Friend’s DadErotic Love and Carnal Sins: Confessions of a Priest, and The President And The Rentboy.


Purchase the ebook for only $0.99 at Smashwords, using coupon code YB47E!
That’s 83% off! Coupon code expires August 22, 2017.


Want to purchase the ebook at full price instead?
It’s available for $5.99 at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Excitica | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords


Prefer paperback? You can find that here:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Giveaway

What’s this?
The paperback is also up for giveaway on Goodreads!
(Canada and USA only.)

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Author Interview: Rebecca James, author of Teresias Bound

Hi book lovers! Today we have Rebecca James, author of Teresias Bound, stopping by for a chat!


RJames-72dpi-1500x2000-1Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release, Teresias Bound, is a sci-fi/fantasy and involves a futuristic trans character. It went live on July 29.

What was the hardest or most difficult scene to write?

I think the most difficult scene to write in this book was the scene where Aiden’s female body is transformed to a male body. I’d never want to make little of the struggle trans people go through, but since my book is futuristic, the transition is more complete and fantasy-like. I had a little difficulty envisioning what that might look like at first.

What’s the most difficult part of writing a sex scene?

For me, the most difficult part of writing a sex scene is making each one unique and sexy. Most M/M readers have read hundreds of sex scenes, and it’s not easy writing something that not only doesn’t sound like everything else out there, but also fits the plot and develops a real connection between characters.

Are you writing anything now? Can you tell us about it?

I usually have several projects going, so I can switch off when my muse takes a notion. Right now, I am writing book two of my Angel Hills shifter series and also working on a sci-fi/fantasy that has a sort of mail-order-husband plot.

Can you describe your editing process?

Usually about half-way through a book, I do what I privately call a “comb-over” where I re-read what I’ve written and get a feel for where I’m going and what I need to make sure to conclude. During this process, I edit errors, rearrange sentence structure, etc. When the book’s finished, I go over the second half, and then I have one or two beta-readers look at it mostly for continuity. It then either goes to my publisher’s editor and then back to me, or, if I’m self-publishing, I hire an editor.

Will you be attending GRL in Denver this year?

Yes! I’ll be there as a supporting author, and I’m so excited about it. I’d love to meet my readers, and if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter and going to be there, let me know—I’ll have a special gift for you. You can drop a message at my website: https://rebeccajamesgayromance.wordpress.com/ , facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccajamesgayromance/, tweet me: @rjamesromance1, or email me: rjames201581@yahoo.com. You can also find me at tumblr: http://rebeccajamesbooks.tumblr.com/

Thanks for the chat, Rebecca!

RJames-72dpi-1500x2000-1Now, go and check out Rebecca’s new book, Teresias Bound!

Aiden is a man in a woman’s body. His dream is to fly to Aquarix where the elusive Fluens–the only species capable of changing his life record and physically making him a man–reside, and for years he’s been working at a seedy brothel in Solarias to save enough money to make that dream a reality.

Lydo, the prince of Teresias, has spent his youth leading his father’s army and avoiding his responsibilities on his home planet. On brief leave during a dangerous mission, he stops at a brothel and acquires the services of a feisty young prostitute who insists Lydo refer to her as a boy. Amused by the girl, the prince pays her way to Aquarix.

Aiden is euphoric at his transformation, but Lydo is more than a little disconcerted by the fact he is attracted to Aiden as a man.

When it’s time to part ways, Aiden fulfills his second dream by taking a job on a spaceship. Resigned to step into his expected role on Teresias, the prince returns to his homophobic planet. But as the king parades princesses before his son in hopes of a betrothal, Lydo finds his heart remains with a certain adventurous boy somewhere out in space.
rj imageAbout Rebecca James:
Rebecca James is a right-brained Scorpio living in the southern United States. An English major and life-long reader and writer, she only recently became a published author. At present, Ms. James only writes in the M/M genre.

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Interview with Spencer Barnes, author of Drink, Dance, HUMP!

 

DDH---[FRONT]-B

Greetings book lovers! Today I’m thrilled to have Spencer Barnes with me, author of Drink, Dance, HUMP!

I read this book and knew I had to have him here on the blog for a chat — read on for our interview and then don’t miss the blurb and buy links at the bottom! This book is a sexy and fun-filled read!

Let’s start with a basic question — tell us about Drink, Dance, HUMP.

Drink, Dance, HUMP is a coming out story that paints the gay party scene and all aspects of our crazy gay lives.  Where a conservative gay boy, who had never met a gay before, slowly goes through the coming out process, then ramps up to the full roller coaster ride of meeting boys, making friends, and partying like no frat boy or private school kid could even imagine.  From waking up under a pile of men, having hot tub orgies and getting bjs behind a dumpster kinda ride. It’s like 50 shades of GAY meets Chelsea Handler’s Are you there Vodka, it’s me Chelsea with a touch of Eat Pray Love.

That sounds like a pretty accurate description! Now, this book is memoir, right? Are all the stories true?

It is amazing I’m still alive.  Yes, it’s all true.

This book is FULL of sex… but what do you consider your wildest sexual adventure?

I’ve had so many!  The wildest was probably having an orgy with 5 Greek guys in Athens that I met at a bar with my friend Pete.  It’s in there so you have to read through to find it.  My friend Pete walks into the hotel room at 5am and kicks them all out but I had already humped them all at that point.

Wow… Five guys?

*Clears throat*

Um… even though I write erotica, I’m actually quite shy in real life. If you could give me one tip to pick up guys, what would it be?

You need to be in tune with gay energy.  Watch where boys look, how they position their feet towards you or away, and how long they will hold a glaze.  Gay guys like to chase so you have to let them chase you and then right at the perfect moment on the dance floor or in a bathroom stall you go make your move when you know they are into you.  All of their work in chasing will have paid off but you were actually luring him in like a sailor to the singing Sirens of greek mythology!  To the victor goes the bubble bum.

*Takes notes*

Back to the book — what are you hoping readers will get out of Drink, Dance, HUMP? What’s the message you want them to walk away with?

My story is a universal story of learning what makes you happy.  Only when you let go of social prejudice and what other people think can you truly be you.  Only when you let yourself be young, lustful, and self-indulgent will you every truly self actualize and find yourself.  Gay hedonism is something to run to when you are blessed by being gay than to run from.  I’m extremely grateful that I grew up in a family and city that allows me to be who I am and even allows me prosper.   I’m a lucky kid.

That sounds great! Thank you so much for coming by the blog today, Spencer!

Readers, keep scrolling for the cover, blurb, and buy links! You’ll love this book — I know it!

DDH---[FRONT]-B

Spencer’s life is perfect…almost. He’s got a spiffy job and a tip-top wardrobe, a solid group of friends and a packed social calendar. But Spencer’s got a secret: he’s gay. When he finally spills it to his friends & family, a whole new life floods in hard and fast. There are clubs to hit, men to do, and fun to be had.

Drink, Dance, HUMP! is the story of one young man’s journey of self-discovery from being a closeted, suburban kid to a man on the gay party scene in Toronto and around the globe. Spencer dives deep into the raunchy, turbulent world of disco balls and strobe lights, stiff drinks, drugs, and hook-ups with a hot guy or four. Hearts get broken, demons are confronted and Spencer grows up, trying to figure out exactly where he fits in the hedonistic rush of it all.

Step into the adventure of one gay boy as he drinks, dances, humps, and discovers that his hedonistic ways aren’t just something to embrace, but the very road to self-knowledge and self-acclamation.

Buy the book on Amazon

About Spencer Barnes

“In every man there is an eye of the soul which is more precious than ten thousand bodily eyes.”   Plato

This is Spencer’s first memoir / erotica book.  He currently lives in NYC and is still finding and refinding himself by drinking, dancing and HUMPING his way through life.  He believes Plato was super gay firstly because he looked like a Williamsburg gay with that beard and secondly because he knew that it is pointless to pursue anything else when you don’t allow yourself to “know thyself”.

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Upcoming Publication Schedule

Well… it’s been a while since I’ve released a book. The President And The Rentboy came out in early February. That was five months ago… that’s a long time in the world of erotic fiction. While in genres like sci-fi or fantasy, an author can release a book a year and be considered productive, erotic authors are often held to a more frequent release schedule.

While I generally don’t like to give into the pressures of this sort of thinking … this is what I’ve got planned for the next year (if a specific date isn’t mentioned, the release will happen toward the end of the month)…

  • July 2017: Forbidden Desires: The Complete Series by Cameron D. James and Sandra Claire, in both ebook and paperback. This collects Seduced By My Best Friend’s DadErotic Love and Carnal Sins: Confessions of a Priest, and The President And The Rentboy. I just saw the concept art from my cover artist and holy crap is it amazing. I can’t wait to get this book out!
  • August 2017: Sex For Money: How to Write, Publish and Sell Gay Erotica and M/M Erotic Romance — 2nd Edition. While it’s only been about a year since the original Sex For Money came out, the world of self-publishing has changed dramatically. This updated version will have much of the same content, but will expand on areas that have grown and remove areas that have disappeared (like All Romance eBooks). The revision has been written and it’s with my proofreader right now. If you bought the first edition and would like to see the second edition, I’ll share here on my blog on in my newsletter how you can get your copy for free. (Basically, you’ll have to show me that you purchased the first edition and I can email you the second edition — but those details will be sorted later.)
  • September 2017: Currently Untitled (Academic Discipline #1) by Cameron D. James and Dominic LeBlanc. This is a new school-centered series by myself and Master Dominic. Apparently, Amazon doesn’t allow Dominic to use “Master” as part of his name, so his pen name for “respectable fiction” (as he puts it) is Dominic LeBlanc. We’ve written the first draft of this book already — it’s a BDSM-themed love affair between a college student and his professor.
  • October 2017: Schoolboy Secrets (Academic Discipline #2) by Cameron D. James and Dominic LeBlanc. Like the Forbidden Desires series that I co-wrote with Sandra Claire, this Academic Discipline series is non-connected … each book is entirely standalone. Book 2 features a love triangle between an 18-year-old student at an all-boys private school, his PE teacher, and the principal, and will feature BDSM elements. We’re presently partway through the first draft.
  • November 2017: Currently Untitled (Academic Discipline #3) by Cameron D. James and Dominic LeBlanc. We don’t actually have a plot outline for this one yet … but we will soon!
  • December 2017: Academic Discipline: The Complete Series by Cameron D. James and Dominic LeBlanc. This will be a bundle of the three novellas in ebook and print format.
  • January 16, 2018: Autumn Fire. This was my very first novel, which had been published by Champagne Books. It’s currently unavailable because I’ve had the rights returned to me. I’m rewriting it (fixing a few things that bothered me and smoothing out some of the writing now that I’m a lot more experienced as a writer) and will be publishing it through my company, Deep Desires Press.
  • Winter/Spring 2018: New York Heat. This is a project I am very excited about. It’s a continuation of my two bestselling series, Men In The Hot Room and Go-Go Boys of Club 21. It will be a full-size novel in ebook and print. In a nutshell, Simon and Brad from the Hot Room stories move to New York to open a yoga studio next to Club 21, and the novel will follow all of the men as they confront the changes in their lives. It will be written so that if you have not read the previous books, you will get along just fine.
  • Spring/Summer 2018: Ryan’s Stars (might be renamed as Ryan’s Boys). This is also a sequel to Go-Go Boys of Club 21, but follows Ryan, Francis, and Damien in Los Angeles and the hedonistic world they live in. It will also be a full-size novel in ebook and print. It will be written so that if you have not read the previous books, you will get along just fine.
  • May 8, 2018: Silent Hearts. This was my second novel, also published by Champagne Books. It’s also currently unavailable for the same reason as Autumn Fire and I will soon be working on rewriting it. It will be published through Deep Desires Press.

These dates are flexible. The only ones that are absolutely firm are Autumn Fire and Silent Hearts as they are scheduled to be released through Deep Desires Press. Everything else depends on me being able to stay productive — but with a full-time day job and running Deep Desires Press, finding time to write can be difficult. I think, though, that I can do this.

Send coffee.

And cute boys.

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Understanding the Smashwords Survey — Sex For Money, Post #20

Sex For Money is a semi-regular blog series about my experiences in writing, publishing, and marketing gay erotica and M/M erotic romance. All of this information is from my own experience, so your experience may differ. It’s hoped that sharing this information might be helpful to new and aspiring erotica and erotic romance authors, as I see a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation out there. To read more Sex For Money posts, click here.


Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written a Sex For Money post! The last one was in December 2016 — so it’s about time I got back into them!

I’ve been fairly dormant lately, at least online, because I’ve been working on getting my new publishing company kicked off and into high gear. Now that it’s underway and the bumps have been smoothed and the team is working together well, I’m finally able to start getting back into writing and blogging and publishing (my own stuff).

And I figure a necessary part of getting back into my role as a smut writer is to get back into these self-help posts. And the timing is pretty much perfect.

Late last week, Smashwords released their annual survey, which compiles massive amounts of data collected by Smashwords in relation to book sales. While, for most authors, Amazon is the powerhouse of sales and Smashwords is a distant second, this data is still useful. (On that note, though, I should point out that for many authors, myself included, Smashwords is a prime source of royalties. I make about 1.5-2 times more on Smashwords than on Amazon.)

The first reason this data is useful is that it shows you trends regarding what’s selling through Smashwords and their third party vendors. If you’re wondering what sells on Smashwords, you’ll find our answer here. The second reason this data is useful is that even if you’re a devoted Amazon fan, Amazon gives its publishers almost no data.

If you haven’t already, I’d strongly suggest taking a look at Smashwords’s annual survey and flipping through the slides. You might take something different from the data than I did.

Some of the data is likely useless. For example, they found that the bestselling books had longer titles. Does this mean you should come up with longer titles for your books? The problem is we don’t know if the better sales was because of the longer titles… or if it was more or less coincidental. If JK Rowling released a book through Smashwords, it would be a phenomenal bestseller, regardless of the length of title. We don’t know if the books were selling because of their titles or because of the author.

However, it could be that the longer titles were better for keyword searches. While I generally don’t like “keyword stuffing” — which is where you have something like Title of Book (gay erotica with lots of gangbangs and forbidden hook up discrete encounters tentacle sex BDSM) — a slightly longer title that catches search traffic is a good idea. One of my bestselling titles is Seduced By My Best Friend’s Dad. It’s also one of my longest titles. What drives sales? I doubt it’s the length of the title that is making sales. But I bet that because I have a more descriptive title, I’m catching search traffic, clicks, and sales. If I had gone with something artsy like Hotter Than The Campfire or simply Camping Trip, I wouldn’t get that search traffic — and even if I did get that search traffic, the titles are not sexy or appealing.

Smashwords found that bundles and box sets sell well. That’s something most authors in the industry have found. As soon as you have a number of related titles or a completed series, it’s to your benefit to create a box set or bundle and price it at a low price. It’s believed by many that those who buy individual ebooks are a different market than those who search out bundles and sales and deals — so by offering a cheap bundle, you’re not necessarily undercutting your sales, rather, you’re reaching a new market you weren’t reaching before.

Their findings on prices were interesting. $3.99 might be the new norm. I firmly believe (right now anyway) that short stories should still be $2.99. If you’re in a non-erotic genre and you’re reading this post, you might want to price a short story a little lower — it’s really in the erotic genres only that readers will spend $2.99 on a short story.

If you have something longer, then maybe $3.99 is the way to go. I generally price my novellas at $3.99.

On that note, the Romance Writers Association found a few years back that $6 was considered by readers to be an appropriate price for a romance novel ebook. So, I tend to price between $2.99 and $5.99, depending on the length. ($5.99 is a good price for a bundle.)

However, again, we don’t know if the surge of $3.99 books is because that price is somehow appealing… or if there were a number of appealing books that happened to be priced at $3.99.

The lack of clarity in the data can be frustrating sometimes, but it’s not like the staff at Smashwords necessarily know what’s causing these trends. They’re just crunching the numbers and presenting it to us. Even so, it’s far more helpful than what we get from Amazon.

Part of being an author in the erotic genres is simply going out there and trying your ideas and seeing if they work. Erotic authors and romance authors have been at the forefront of the ebook revolution and have led the industry into that new realm. If you do something that doesn’t quite work, that’s fine — dust yourself off and try something new. And if you find something that works well, then ride that wave until it runs out.

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