Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sex Research?

I just read Stacia Kane's Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet.  In it, she has a chapter in which she describes that, while many of the characters in her books engage in anal sex, she has not, nor does she plan to.  So if you write a sex scene that includes an act that one has never experienced, how can you assure authenticity?

I posed the question to my husband, and he being a rather intellectual type, launched into a long-winded commentary about how a writer uses their imagination, etc,etc.  Yeah, yeah.  Imagination can only go so far.  If you've never been poked on the flip-side, how do you know what it feels like or what exactly happens?  Watching porn doesn't really give you insight into what the receiver might feel. Is it something you can look up on the internet?  Do you post a message to all your Facebook friends, "Hi everyone! I'm writing a scene where the main character gets the brown glove treatment but I have no personal experience to make the scene authentic.  Any of you like to have their buns split?

So,does anyone have any comments about how they approached this conundrum?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Update on the Ad Experiment

My ad on The Romance Reviews has been displayed for three weeks, with one more week to go.  It's a big ad along the left side of the site; grouped vertically with other covers which are all linked to their author's page (and where to buy), and the position changes frequently so sometimes mine is the first one. Unfortunately, so far this experiment with advertising has been pretty much a complete bust.  Sales for Special Offers have not improved, in fact, they may be a bit slower this month.

The site itself might not be optimal for promoting the book; Special Offers is a paranormal romance-urban fantasy and the site seems to lean toward books that seem more romancey than mine.  I guess a better description of my book is paranormal with elements of romance.  There's no love-at-first-sight (although there is lust-at-first-sight) and the one reference to heaving breasts and throbbing members was purely sarcastic.

In case my cover art wasn't helping attract buyers on the site, I updated the it after an extremely talented illustrator gave me some pointers (Thanks Daniel! Check out his novella Dakota Rawhide - it's awesome). However, the cover art has been changed in most places the book is available for sale (the exceptions being the sites to which Smashwords sends books from their Premium Catalog, which won't be updated for another week or so).  Therefore, any potential upswing in sales won't tell anything about the ad per se.  If I had wanted to get a valid assessment of the site, I should have left the cover art as is until the ad ran out.

And, of course, perhaps ads of this sort are never particularly profitable. If anything improves in the next seven days, I'll let everyone know.  But at this point, the bottom line is that advertising on that specific website has been seemingly unproductive.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why Won't Some Reviewers Review Self-Published Books?

I was just reading a reviewer’s blog that describes why they don’t accept self-published (SP) books to review.  Their main reasons were SP authors can have bad manners and argue over reviews, SP books usually have substandard covers and too many plot holes and grammatical mistakes.  These reasons for the policy excluding SP books made me laugh.  Well, maybe not LOL laugh, but it made me smirk a little.

I’m sure that there are SP authors that can’t take a bad – or even less than perfect – review without firing off a heated email. Obviously, that’s extremely bad form.  It’s better to find out where they live and stalk them. Just kidding.  Really.  But I know of traditionally published (TP) authors that have done the same.  Recently, an author of a well-received, TP, first-in-a-series book ridiculed many reviewers of the second when certain plotting details were criticized.  And this author’s disparaging remarks were in public forums and blogs.

I’ve seen a lot of fantastic TP covers, and many mediocre TP covers as well. You know what I mean, all those covers with the author’s name and the title in ginormous print, surrounding some okay photo or illustration (like a smoking gun for a thriller or a shirtless, hunky guy for a romance) that must have taken at least five minutes with photoshop to design. Or check out this blog entry Coveting Covers - Using Stock Photos that shows how a number of TP books covers used the same stock photo. Without really any alterations.  And while a fantastic cover can help sell a book, it shouldn’t necessarily mean that a less than fantastic one should relegate your tome to non-reviewable.  The reviewer can certainly comment about the cover art as part of the review, but to not review it at all based on their interpretation of the cover art seems a bit harsh. 

Which brings me to the final reason why these reviewers won’t review SP work: SP authors can’t write worth shit.  Now, I have read a lot of traditionally published books as well as many self-published ones.  And, for the most part, a fair percentage of the SP stuff is a bit iffy when it comes to plotting, grammar and spelling.  But just yesterday, I was reading a new book from a very popular paranormal romance author where she wrote about one character saving another’s life by establishing an unobstructed airway – in his ESOPHAGUS.  Really?  There’s a reason the procedure is called a tracheotomy.  Because one’s lungs are attached to one’s TRACHEA.  The esophagus is what one’s food slips down en route to the stomach.  And the author correctly calls it a tracheotomy later in the book.  How did this get pass all of the TP editors, beta-readers and ARC reviewers?  Plus, I already counted three typos, and I’m only 75% through. 

So my point is this.  Rather than an outright refusal to review the dreaded SP book, why not read the first chapter.  If it sucks, then don’t read any more and forget about it.  Or post that you read the first chapter and you wanted to shove a sharp pair of scissors in your eyes rather than have to keep reading.  And it’s not just because I am a SP author.  I think it’s a little snobbish to restrict oneself (and one’s blog readers) to the creations that are brought forth by TP companies, as if they have all the answers and do everything so much better than anyone else. Sure they do.  That’s why Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino landed a book deal with a TP house.  Although he does show his abs on the cover...

Word Counts and Strap-Ons

Yesterday, I finished chapter 4 of the still unnamed sequel to “Special Offers”.  It’s going well, but it is not easy to carve out time to write when you have a full-time job, a husband, a kid and a house to clean.  Also, I play soccer on 2 different women’s teams, so that takes up a few hours twice a week.  And I can't give that up; it is great exercise and I get to freely utilize my propensity for swearing and sexual double-entendre without worrying about remaining work-appropriate.  And as an added bonus, the conversations and random ridiculousness on the sidelines before and after the games can be both informative and hilarious.  For example, I had no idea that sometimes lesbian couples utilize a strap-on during sex (informative),  and it is highly recommended to take it off the back of the bathroom door before one's parent comes to visit (hilarious).

I keep reading the tweets from full-time authors who post about completing 2500 or 3000 words a day and it makes me feel like a slacker even though I know they have a lot more time available to work on their books.  I try to write every day, even if it is for a very short time.  During the week, when I can only write in the evening, on a productive day I usually can write about 500 words (of course, sometimes I toil for hours over a couple of paragraphs).  I get more accomplished on the weekends, but it is hard to fit everything in that needs to get done.  I wish I had one of those time thingies that Hermione Granger had in one of the Harry Potter books that let her be in two places as once.  Or a clone. Maybe I'll get to work on that in the lab today...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To Ad or not to ad...that is the question...

I just placed my first ad for Special Offers.  I’m not completely sure it was the right thing to do, but it only cost around $40 for a month of being seen along the left sidebar of “The Romance Reviews”.  It will be interesting to see if I get any additional sales as a result, but, of course, that will be difficult to definitively surmise.  Too bad the selling sites don’t have a box to check when someone buys an ebook that explains where the purchaser heard about the book.  It would help the site, too; they could see if people are just browsing their site or if they read a blog, or some review.  But without this kind of information, I will only be able to speculate what might have caused any upswing in sales.  Of course, there may be NO upswing, in which case, there’s no need to ponder the why’s and what ifs.  Although I will be able to say that it doesn’t make sense to advertise there again.