Seasons Greetings!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1

Happy Christmas to everyone, and I hope you all have a wonderful New Year in 2015! I have been distracted (sabotaged!) by real life over the last few weeks, so unfortunately writing has taken a bit of a back seat recently, shame I know. However I have been half keeping up with the news, and it seems as always there are changes afoot in the self publishing world, and 2015 will produce a whole new set of challenges.

My first challenge is to actually get something published! However I am not going to rush it, as I want my writing to be the best it can be. There have been several frustrations and setbacks in bringing my books to life during 2014, and I can’t thank all of my forum friends enough for all of the helpful advice and inspiration I have found, not to mention some fantastic books! (I may even write a few reviews for the New Year!) And I’d like to say a special thank you to all of my Twitter and Blogging friends, you know who you are!

I hope you all have a great 2015!

Reality or Fantasy – Perpetuating the Myth?

One of the things I am trying to achieve in my writing is a sense of reality, both in my scenarios and characterisation. Obviously, this is difficult when dealing with a work of fiction, especially Erotica, but it seemed important to me as I began to write ‘Elise’ that whatever happened, could happen, and that the characters are rounded, normal people, flaws and all.

My main character Elise is driven by a longing built up over his lifetime, a longing reinforced by his fantasies, to the point that when he receives an unexpected invitation from the mysterious Mistress Rhiannon, he cannot help but follow, even though it is against his better judgement. Thrilled at the chance to live out his lifelong fantasy he embarks on a journey that will change his life forever. He soon finds out that reality is quite different from fantasy in many ways, and that the dominant women he encounters are not quite so perfect as those in his dreams, and are often as confused as he his.

In other words, I wanted the book to reflect proper human relationships, which, even in a Domme/sub relationship are actually as complex and normal as any other. As a dominant woman, my friend Ferns over at Domme Chronicles clearly illustrates this point in this brilliant post from her blog.

D/s stereotypes

One thing I love about Ferns is her insightful openness, she is not afraid to talk about her own fears and vulnerabilities, and just what she expects from a female led relationship. One thing she does hit upon, is the fact that peoples expectations are often driven by fantasy and not reality, while I don’t despair, I am often amused when I see pleas from inexperienced submissive men saying things like, ‘I will do anything you say Miss’, or simply, ‘I want to be a slave.’ Often sending these messages to all and sundry, or without knowing anything about the person they are contacting except for a few lines on a website. As Ferns says, “this is the realm of pros and fantasies and porn and play and every media depiction of femdom ever”. And yet it happens all too often.

Clearly though, even if I try to give a balanced view, as an erotica writer I am of course going to be one of those ‘media types’ who perpetuate the fantasy. Obviously, there is a readership out there, which enjoys reading such fantasies for a variety of reasons. Obviously my books do depict scenes of BDSM and D/s relationships, this is erotica, after all, and if you are going to read erotica you expect to be titillated at least, don’t you?

Because of that, no matter how ‘real’ I may try to make it, I would be cheating my readers if I did not include scenes that would most likely fall into the pro-domme type fantasy. However, one thing I have tried to do is place these scenes in some form of longer context, in other words, while ‘Elise’ finds himself in improbable situations, there are no slave-farms or secret islands here! One of my worries is this fact; will the readership accept something different? Will people enjoy everyday scenes, with flawed or often bored and confused characters, albeit with an intense undercurrent of sexual tension?

I have no idea, but I can only write the books that I want to write, and I can only hope that some people at least may enjoy following Elise’s journey, even if it does not exactly fit any formula. Now I am not saying there is no place for the billionaire/slave-farm fantasy, personally I loved ‘Breaking Josh’ by Lily Snow, but I’m not about to go looking for Blackwood Manor, or start firing off fawning emails to anyone who calls themselves ‘dominant’ on Fetlife! Unfortunately for Ferns though, there will always be those whose grasp of reality and compromise will always be coloured by years of longing and fantasy.

This is the premise behind Elise, who finds his life turned upside down because he could not resist the chance to live his lifelong fantasy, only to find that his fantasy, is nothing like the reality. To illustrate the point I have posted some new writing on my Books page. I would love to know what you think, are we all driven by lifetime longings? Are you curious enough to follow Elise’s fantasy? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Many thanks to Ferns for permission to link.

The Self Printed Splash!

A little while ago, I was thrilled to discover that one of the most entertaining and useful books about Self Publishing was about to get a major update, not only that, but the author, Catherine Ryan Howard, agreed to answer any question I put to her, in return for a little publicity. Since I trust her opinion this was a no brainer! I have mentioned her work before, and I have no problem with recommending Self Printed, a must if you are at all curious about this strange self-publishing business! Catherine’s book spurred me on to actually get something done, even though I am not there yet!

Blank white book w/path

I have been struggling recently with splitting my novel, which has been difficult, and time consuming; It looks like it will end up as three novels around 70 to 80,000 words or thereabouts. So, I am relieved to find that Catherine agrees with my decision! I’m not quite sure if Catherine fully understood what I meant, I was not suggesting maximising profit at the price of quality! And yes obviously selling 13 pages for $3 is a rip off, in any currency.

I have since discovered that there are in fact some nefarious (I would say criminal) people that in fact copy and paste the first few pages of a novel, and try to sell it as a more famous work, presumably some people would also think it okay to sell a few pages of their own writing for a premium price. This may be fine if it imparts really useful information or knowledge, but for a novel? I don’t think so. Anyway..

This is the question I asked Catherine: –

The other day I came across two ‘novels’ on Amazon at all of 13 pages each at over $3. There has also been talk on Kboards about splitting books to make a series. Many of these are around 50.000 words. My own first novel is going to come out at around 160 – 170,000 words. And I understand Create Space has an 850-page limit for paperbacks.

I am currently wrestling with the dilemma of splitting my book, or not, which will necessitate some re-writing for the story arc. But the two halves will still be a reasonable length

What do you think is a reasonable length for a £2.99 novel? And at what point do you think it becomes a rip off?

Catherine said; –

This is a tricky issue, because we have some double standards.

We can all agree that it is a rip off to charge $2.99 for a book that’s 13 pages, right? I think so.

But at the same time I think $2.99 is an okay price to charge for long form journalism (10,000 words?) or a novella (30,000 words) – and for a full-length (70,000+ words) book.

And yet I don’t think you should start adding on the $ just because you wrote a book that’s above-average in length. That’s not fair on the reader. Physical books aren’t sold by the page.

But Franny 160k is an incredible length for a novel. If you can’t cut it down, I would definitely suggest splitting it into two or three. You have some practical reasons here: CreateSpace as you mentioned, has a page limit, and then there’s the shipping for that paperback. (Can you imagine?! It would be seriously expensive if it’s done by weight.)

But you can’t start thinking, well, this book is 70k and it’s $2.99, and my book is twice that length so I’m going to make it $5.99. That’s not how it works. If books were priced by length, we’re all be in knots by now.

I think you should split it and try to keep your e-book price point down to around $2.99, although it might be a good idea to charge less for the first instalment after a while (e.g. $1.99) to “entice” readers to pay full price for the other one.

Thanks Catherine! This is just the sort of strategy I was contemplating. Now all I have to do is actually finish the things! I have got far enough to begin contemplating cover designs, and hope to post about this little minefield soon.

 

More about Catherine..

 

Catherine Ryan Howard is a writer, self-publisher and caffeine enthusiast from Cork, Ireland. SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING (3rd edition) is out now in paperback and e-book and available from Amazon. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter today (Friday 24th) and/or visit www.catherineryanhoward.com for chance to win an amazing prize that will get your self-publishing adventure started!
 
“SELF-PRINTED is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results – The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series  

 

The Best Erotica Author Ever!

Posted in Writing | 1

So, there I was, a few months ago, huddled in a deep sense of self-satisfaction and smugness, as I realised my first novel ‘Elise’ was in fact almost a novel. At least in the sense that I had written all of the words and it made a story. Well, not quite, there were bits to fill in, but I knew where that was going, so no problem, just put the time in.

My ego was boosted even further by the fact that I had already started a promising looking spin off, in what I intend to be a series of short vignettes featuring some of the wonderful characters I have created, and not only that, I had already started the follow up novel, called, in my head at least, ‘Elise in the Wild’.

Brilliant smugness all around! Large Chardonnay for ME! My thoughts drifted to promotion strategies, writing my knockout author profile, Writing my knockout book blurb, designing my amazing covers, chatting to my New York Editor at midnight and not even worrying about the cost, as I watched my Amazon sales rank soar to the bestseller list, and not even in my own category! The interviews, the guest blogging, the fetish club tours, and all of the other (er – luxurious?) trappings that come with being, The Best Erotica Author Ever!

Of course, I realised, there was some way to go, and I told myself, Rome was not built in a day, but at least I was in the home stretch. But then, I still had to actually do all of those things. And that was even before I contemplated the mind bogglingly complicated process of actually converting my manuscript into an actual published format.

Best start with a proofread then. Now, proofreading is something that I do at work, in my real life enthralling (yawn) part time job. So, no problem I thought. Not so I quickly find out. Proofreading a long work of fiction is not as easy as it sounds. And, It takes ages! Now, one of the things I told myself in writing the novel was that, I was going to write about things that could actually happen, they maybe improbable in real life, but nevertheless plausible. I was pleased to see I had done that, except for the obvious gaffes, such as asking the girl ‘Piano’ to lick something while gagged. (Yes, I really did that!) And it shows just how much continuity matters, Just like in the movies. Several dozen such gaffes later, I’m feeling a bit despondent. I delete too many superfluous words and sentences, I change things around, tighten it. Edit again. Finished? No, it’s a mess.

Heading to Kindle, I decide to learn from the greats in my genre, there are some burning questions, what is the setting? How is it structured? What is the length? Subplots? Or not? How much characterisation? And a million others – such as the big one;

How does ‘Elise’ compare?

Well, I had great fun reading some great (and not so great) books, and just thought that well – I’m different. That is worrying; will I have a readership? I know my writing is a bit odd for the Erotica market, perhaps sometimes a bit whimsical, and certainly does not fit a formula, but then I thought, who wants a formula anyway? (Actually – many thousands! Help!). The other thing I realise is that I’m no good at doing that sort of analytical ‘pulling apart’ and comparing thing. Apart from brief moments, I just can’t be dispassionate enough to actually analyse someone else’s writing while I am actually reading it. So I continue, being totally confused, which I think is the normal state of life, as ‘Elise’ continues its journey into being.

Now, feeling not so quite despondent, I know I only have to do some tidying up, add some detail in the middle bit, and make sure the end sort of ties things up and also leads into the next book. Then there will be two more proofreads, a line-edit, a spell-check looking for common mistakes i.e. manger for manager, and what or who belongs to whom. Not a lot then, I’m almost there! Print it, put aside, continue work on other brilliant work, some despondency resolved. Goody!

Confused? I know I was! Initial comments were fine; ‘I love the way it explains things from the slave’s point of view,’ Was one, followed with, ‘I really want to know what happens to Elise!’ So far so good I thought, I have at least one reader engaged, but then the bombshell, ‘It does not ring true. Rhiannon would not do that. It needs a back story.”

Ah! The dilemma! Did it need a back-story? I was not convinced, but don’t I have to keep my readers happy? I figured it would be possible to write a new beginning, explaining some things, and if I did not like it, I could omit it if necessary without any impact on the rest of the book. I found an unused prologue I had written earlier, and began to revamp it into a whole new Chapter One. I was quite pleased with it, I decided it did indeed add an extra dimension, and could possibly stay.

Feeling ever so pleased with myself, I printed it off and handed it to another reader, who quickly scanned through it and said no, no, no! What? Grief! However the advice was succinct and to the point, apparently, my characters would simply not behave as they did, Mistress Vixen was simply not dominant enough, and Rhiannon’s authority was in question, why did they all do her bidding instead of simply slapping her across the face? Oh dear.

I begin the re-write, launching into one of the most gruelling months ever! It actually took over a month, and was incredibly difficult for some reason. Normally, I have a scene or a story milling about I my head, I think about it for a few weeks, until I reach a stage where I have almost memorised the words, then I sit down a write it, occasionally letting the text take me in new directions. With this re-write I could not do that, so it was with some relief when eventually I thought it was finished.

My first reader asked me to publish it, in the hope that I could get more comments, so I have put the new beginning here, to see what people think. Please take a look, and let me know your thoughts, good or bad, I would love to know.

All of these additions and re-writes have significantly added to the length of the book, so I now have a new dilemma, of whether to split it or not. Again this will involve some re-writes. I am of course anxious to see it published, and this will unfortunately delay that, but it may actually improve the book, and I definitely want to produce the best story that I can.

Splitting the book really has caused me a dilemma, so much so that I have written a little question about it for Catherine Ryan Howard, as part of her launch Splash for a new version of her book Self Printed. If like me, you are an aspiring writer, or indeed established, I would say you really need to read Self Printed, Its funny, witty and packed full of useful advice. Of course there are different sources of advice and strategies out there, but none are as readable as this. And before you ask, Catherine has not bribed or paid me to say this, in fact she does not even know, but I have absolutely no qualms in publicising her launch of Self printed 3, because I have found it so useful, and brilliant! Of course I have entered her little competition thingy, in the hope I can bag myself a free copy!

Are you just starting out, or do you remember those days? What sources of advice did you use? How did your first book come into being? Was it easy? Do let me know. You can use my Contact Form if you do not want to post, but I would love to hear from you, and do let me know what you think of my writing!

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