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Read it already! A writer’s confession.

12 Aug

by Isabelle Drake

I’m not so great at reading my own writing aloud. Sure, I’ve done it. For small groups, large groups, for college credit, and a couple weeks ago, for fun.

For fun? Well, sort of. Partly for fun, partly out of curiosity and well, yeah, I also did it for promotion. Promotion! Marketing! These are topics writers are encour50s-pin-up-girl-picturesaged to think about all the time.

  • Where are you going to promote your new release?
  • How’re you going to promote your backlist?
  • What about your work-in-progress makes it marketable?
  • How are you reaching new readers?

You get the idea. We’re encouraged to try new marketing strategies–all the time. We should be innovative and exciting. Relevant. We must keep up with our blogs, twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. On the side, we’re also writing.

That’s a lot of pressure. No, not the writing. That’s not pressure. That’s fun. We’re writers, so creating stories and torturing characters, that’s what we do. It’s that marketing and promotion stuff that stresses us out. Not because we don’t want to do it, don’t understand it, or even because we’re not good at it. It’s because there’s always something newer, fresher, and more exciting we need to do. Right now that new fresh thing is Facebook Live.

Now here’s my confession. I don’t care that I’m not good at reading my work aloud.

NVP final coverI’m a writer. I write stories for other people to read. I love crafting stories and I’m thrilled that I have readers who support my work. Isn’t that what matters? The words on the page? The story? I think so. I probably shouldn’t admit this either, but I think its funny that I’m not a great performing-author. Sure, on occasion, I have pulled myself together and done a fine, if not good, job at reading. Like when I did my MFA graduate reading. But for the most part, I’m happy to hand over my work for other people to read (inside their head) and enjoy (without me there staring at them).

So, if you haven’t guessed already, I did a live reading of my new release, BAIT, from New Vintage Press, on Facebook. I was at the Romance Writers of America national convention, standing on my balcony in San Diego, wearing my favorite Hello Kitty t-shirt, and I did it. I hit go live. I said, hi, showed people around, then read.

 

Yeah, it was promotional, but more important to me, it was fun. Will I do it again? Sure. Will I worry about how well I perform? Nope. Not at all. The only thing I’ll be concerned about it whether or not people have a good time.

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Here at Lady Smut, we love to know what’s on your mind, so comment and let us know what you’re thinking. And follow too, for all the news you need–and want.

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Want to check out Isabelle Drake’s next live reading? Come find her on Facebook. Cuckold Beach 3, her newest release is the third in her smexy Cuckold Beach series is available now for preorder.

Book Trends and General Mayhem at the RT Booklovers Convention

22 Apr

By Elizabeth SaFleur

Wild horses and George Clooney couldn’t keep me from the annual Romantic Times (RT) Booklovers Convention. For five whole days, thousands of readers and authors come together to talk romance books and writing. Five whole days of no day-job talk, no meals to cook or laundry to do. Just books, glorious books.

This was my fourth RT, which this year according to rumor attracted the largest number of attendees in its history–more than three thousand one hundred people, not counting Saturday’s Giant Book Fair, open to the public.

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So, what’s it like, really?

During the day, expect long wait lines, parties, workshops and seminars, more long lines, giveaways, author signings, readings, and fan-girling — all waiting in line. (Who cares about lines? Turn to the person next to you and ask what they’re reading. Let the bonding commence.)

Hot Men Book Covers Grace Every Space Imaginable

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My favorite elevator door.

 

The registration area floor!

The registration area floor!

 

The hallway walls.

The hallway walls.

But . . . The Real Reason to Attend RT

Squealing fangirls show no shame in throwing loud love toward their favorite authors. I nearly lost my hearing in one ear from a Kristen Ashley super-fan when Kristen walked by. But who could blame the woman? It was Kristen Ashley. Live. In person. Looking gorgeous, by the way. Talking to her fans! I got equally giddy meeting Sierra Cartwright who is as lovely in person as she is on Facebook (a.k.a. the stalking space). Oh, and there was Shayla Black, Lexi Blake, E.L. James, Kresley Cole, Beth Kery, J. Kenner, and. . . well, I shall cease name dropping now so not to make you too jealous.

RT attendees wheel small suitcases from room to room, slowly loading them up with all the free books they’ve been given in sessions, at author events or picked up in the “goody room.” Thank God for an in-hotel UPS store. I shipped a HUGE box home full of books and swag. My favorite item from this year was a Viking rubber ducky.

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I shall name you Thor.

In the evening, the hotel bars cram with writerly meet-ups, costumes are donned, martinis are poured, and ballrooms of squee-ing fans fill to capacity.

The Cirque De Punk hosts.

Friday night’s party, Cirque Du Punk, a steampunk, dieselpunk, cyber punk circus complete with acrobats, jugglers and contortionists, brought out the wild. Our hosts (above) dressed in costume.

 

How cool is this?

Eden Bradley & Kennedy Layne

The last two days include the Giant Book Fair and FAN-tastic day, where readers meet their favorite authors and get books signed. See this crowd? That’s the holding pen room they have us line up in before the Fair opens. Did I mention you’ll stand in a lot of lines at RT? Just turn to your neighbor and make a new book-loving friend.

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Waiting to get into the Giant Book Fair

Besides partying with favorite authors and lugging home swag and books, a lot can be learned at RT. After hearing a dozen sessions, some themes emerged. I, heretofore, give you the the Future of Books’ cliff notes. Gird your loins. Things are changing–again. Let us know in the comments if the following sounds true to you . . . Here we go.

Book Trends or What’s Next?

What’s “hot” cycles—again. High demand genres include inspirational, multi-cultural and LGBT. What’s not hot? New adult, young adult, romantic suspense and military heroes, which are suffering “glut.” Yes, that’s the technical term for “we have too many of these.” However, one publisher said alpha heroes will never go out style. Whew. Also, while sex still sells in the erotic genre, readers are demanding more plot to go with all that erotic action.

Genres ‘cross.’ Romance writers are notorious for writing stories that bend the rules and cross genres. But hybrid stories that stretch the usual boundaries (i.e. breaking out of being “just” historical or insert any genre) will become more prevalent. Get ready for that dinosaur-time travelling-LGBT-space cowboy book. Or perhaps you enjoy erotic-cowboy-vampire-dragon tales? Set in an alternate universe? Never fear. There’s a story out there for you.

Expect more diversity. Or, as Sarah Wendell, co-founder of Smart Bitches Trashy Books said, “diversity is not a trend. Our world is multi-cultural and the romance world will catch up.”

Our very own LadySmutter, ISABELLE DRAKE along with ALIZA MANN and MK SCHILLER, gave a panel on diversity to a full house. What I learned: the story doesn’t have to come from a character’s ethnicity, but rather their culture informs and instructs their decisions as they navigate what we all go through in love and romance. Kind of like real life, huh?

MK Schiller, Malia Dawn, Isabelle Drake on the Developing Dynamically Diverse Characters panel

Aliza Mann, MK Schiller, Isabelle Drake on the Developing Dynamically Diverse Characters panel

Paranormal makes a comeback. Vampires, shifters, werewolves, succubus, ghosts and more haven’t ever really gone away as the audience for such stories is huge. But the demand for paranormal has outstripped the number of books available, according to Danielle Valente, assistant editor for the RT Book Reviews magazine.

Older characters have their day. More romances will feature people in their 40s and 50s who will be experiencing mid-life changes, receiving second chances and starting over. Again, like real life. And, after all, everyone ages, right? Why wouldn’t you want to read about someone closer to your own age?

“Clean reads” are in demand. With the rise of erotica and erotic romance, many contemporary romances “heated up.” This sent the “clean read” lover to inspirational and sweet romance. But it does a disservice in a way, said one panelist, because those who want Christian-themed stories don’t necessarily get that in what is marketed as “clean,” and visa versa.

Erotic romance/erotica genre plateaus. According to several panelists, sales of erotic titles aren’t growing like they used to. In fact, all e-books are selling “flat.” However, that’s not to say e-books (or erotic books) aren’t growing at all.

Let me explain.

Estimates put the Amazon e-book inventory at four million books. Oh, wait. It’s grown again—since I typed this sentence.

And, unlike print books which can go ‘out of print,’ e-books last (almost) for forever. This means the library only gets larger and won’t diminish. (That’s more choices for you, dear reader.) So, if a genre goes “flat” (meaning doesn’t grow), it simply means authors are keeping up with demand but not overtaking it. Rather, more books are entering an ever-growing pile.

Only if a genre drops, should anyone become concerned because it means other types of books are lapping another genre around the track. That’s not happening. Erotic romance is holding its own. So, never fear. Plenty of smexy stories will be waiting for you!

Book prices will drop. Specifically, e-book prices will continue to drop, which is making readers happy but authors nervous. We’ll leave it at that.

Apple becomes a bookseller contender? Heard this before? Except the iTunes/iBooks presence was (much) greater than the previous three years I’ve attended RT, and buzz was afoot that they were going to finally make their move to compete with Amazon. Yes, please. Personally, I’ll be watching this closely.

The rise of audiobooks. In the last two years, the number of audiobooks offered have doubled, and there still aren’t enough titles available to meet the demand. This is a “mammoth” trend, as people grow busier and a need to multi-task exists. Can you blame a reader who wants to get their smexy on with their favorite book boyfriend as they wash the dishes?

(Guess what? Lovely (Elite Doms of Washington Book 1) will be available on audiobook this summer. Squee!)

Watch for smaller reader/author gatherings. Social media fatigue is setting in. Many people are unsatisfied with the superficial relationships created there. In response, live events are growing more popular, especially where authors hold their own reader events. Smaller conference (think 100 people versus 3,000) provide a community feel, allowing more time for and accessibility for in-depth conversations between readers and authors.

Maybe it’s time for a LadySmut conference? Would you come?

However, let’s not do it in Vegas, okay? Because the not-so-great thing about RT was our convention hotel, the God awful Rio hotel/casino. Cigarette smoke everywhere, unbelievable food prices (larger than my hotel bill-no joke) and poor staffing were thorns in this other-wise heavenly event. At least all sessions and events happened in one compact (non smoking) area. I also managed to get in over 10,000 steps a day. My hotel room was .89 miles from the convention area. I am not complaining when I got to see this every night:

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Fitbit, you’re my bitch.

If you’re planning on attending RT next year, let us know. It’s May 2-7, 2017 in Atlanta, GA. I’d love to meet up with you, as would all the LadySmutters who attend. In the meantime, give the LadySmut Facebook page a little “like” so you can be part of our ongoing scintillating book talk.

Speaking of books, check out our very own ISABELLE DRAKE and KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM’s new releases!

KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM’S Barefoot Bay: Wild on the Rocks (Kindle Worlds) is part of the launch of New York Times bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Kindle Worlds! (Read more about Kindle Worlds here.) Driven by wanderlust and insatiable curiosity, Quinn Forrester views every new gig for her mixologist business as another chance for adventure. Until the night she wanders down the wrong hallway and witnesses a mob murder.

ISABELLE DRAKE’s Off the Rails (Make Me Over Book 1) is a delicious romantic comedy we can all relate to. High school reunion—three words that threaten to derail Madison’s life. Now she has only eight weeks to find the perfect guy, the perfect job, or a way to pretend she has the perfect life.

Until next time, my friends. Stay cool. Stay reading. We got your smut covered.

*****

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it — “it” being the smex, the BDSM, or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington.

Show Me the Stars: Why I (and Many Authors) Need Reader Reviews

15 Mar
I need to know how I'm doing. For all our sakes.

I need to know how I’m doing. For all our sakes.

By Alexa Day

Is there anything more tedious than the person who does not grasp how fortunate she is? I think not. I endeavor not to be that person.

I recognize that I have one of the best jobs in the world. I love writing erotica and erotic romance. I’m always happy to share my Tuesdays with you folks. I have so little to complain about.

I really hate to ask you for anything when I’m so happy, but this has been on my mind a lot lately.

I have very, very few reviews.

I did have the audacity to complain to a colleague about this once. She told me to count my blessings and move on. After that, I stopped complaining for a while, but now I find this is bugging me again.

I want to be clear about something first. Nothing is going to stop me from writing. I’m wired a little strangely. If I’m not writing, the pressure builds up in my head and I become cranky and difficult to live with. Writing is self-care. So I’m going to keep writing, whether there are reviews or not.

If there are no reviews, however, I am left to presume that one of the following four things is true.
1. My work is actually awful, and everyone is sparing my feelings.
2. No one is reading my work. Tough to say whether this is better or worse than #1.
3. You don’t want the whole world to know you read That Kind of Thing.
4. You told me exactly what you think of my work in person and don’t understand what I am now crying about.

Let’s grab those one at a time.

If you are hesitating to leave a review because my books are awful, you’re not really helping either of us. If I don’t know there’s anything wrong with a particular story, I’m going to keep writing stories that are basically just like it. I need to know if something’s not working for you. That’s just quality control. Don’t worry so about hurting my feelings. I’m an attorney. I’ve been a newspaper reporter and a bartender, and before that, I integrated my high school. I have been called everything a woman can be called. You are not going to hurt my feelings with words. I’m a writer. Words work for me, not the other way around.

As for the second possibility, I really do struggle with whether it’s better or worse than knowing the work is horrendous. I would venture to say that most authors worry that they’re shouting into a void, sending their hard work out into a world that couldn’t be less interested in it. The idea bothers me a great deal, despite the fact that I’m hardwired to keep shouting, even if no one cares. Discoverability is a big deal in our fast-paced high-tech publishing world. My concern that no one sees my work runs deeper than my ego (which is saying something). See, if I don’t have all that many reviews, the world gets a little smaller for me. Any number of promotional opportunities want to see a certain number of Amazon reviews. Besides, how often have you passed on a product that only has a handful of reviews?

With regard to the third option, I want to share a little Amazon secret with you.

Amazon recognizes that you might feel weird about revealing to your friends and family that you read the sorts of … well … explicit sexual content I take such delight in writing. Amazon wants to help you out. Your Amazon settings likely hide your reviews of Those Kinds of Things (explicit sexual reading, vibrators, etc.) from the prying eyes of your judgmental circle of acquaintances. You can tell the whole world that you loved that anal scene so much you had to reach for one of your favorite, highly reviewed toys. If your settings are all right, the public at large need never know.

Finally, I want to thank those of you who have actually come right up to me and told me you enjoyed my book. If I seemed shocked, please bear in mind that I think I’m shouting into the void, as I mentioned above. I like talking about books with readers, and few things are as pleasurable as knowing what readers want to see in their favorite stories.

I still need you to leave me a review.

I know you just told me how you feel about the book, and I’m really grateful for your kind words. But that was for me. The review is for the other people on Amazon. People who don’t know you or me. People who are wondering if this book is better than that one or why they should bother to buy either of them.

That wonderful stuff you told me? Well, other people on Amazon need to hear it at least as much as I did.
So, you see, it’s both safe and beneficial for you to come out of the woodwork and let me — and the rest of your favorite authors — know what you think of our work. More reviews, even the bad ones, ultimately mean better visibility. Better visibility means better sales. And better sales make it that much easier for me and my colleagues to keep writing.

You can spare a kind word for that, right?

Follow Lady Smut. We want alll the stars.

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