Monday, March 31, 2014

Sick Day

Well, I only got today's post partially written when I came down with a nasty infection on Saturday. Today consisted of a trip to the doctor and drugs. Now, I'm going to rest, which I hate because I get bored easily.

Y'all play nice, and I hope it's a beautiful day where you are!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Are Sales Patterns Starting to Shift in E-Books?

Some funny things have happened to my sales patterns over the last month. I don't mean funny HA-HA, but funny INTERESTING (at least from a business perspective).

If you've been reading my Status Updates, I've mentioned how my Apple Sales have been gaining on my Amazon US sales. In February, my Apple sales didn't match or edge past Amazon US. No, they were 400% more! European and Australian sales are light-years ahead of other markets Apple services.

As we close on the end of March, my Amazon UK sales are ahead Amazon US for the first time ever. Normally, I'm doing good to sell 4-5 copies TOTAL on Amazon UK in a month.

So what does this mean? Well, not a provable thing since I need a larger, more random sampling to be scientifically accurate. What I think subjectively is that the European e-book market is catching up with American e-book market in a visible way.

It will be interesting how things will shake out over the rest of 2014.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another E-Book Store Bites the Dust

I wasn't going to post today since I did two posts on Monday, but I found out this afternoon that Diesel eBook Store is closing shop on April 1.

Nope, it's not an April Fool's joke. This comes on the heels of Sony's announcement last month that they are also shutting down.

What I find amusing is that for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Amazon, Big Publishing hasn't grabbed onto an established e-book retailer and built it up. Oh, wait, it's because they have no clue.

I hope the employees of of the Sony and Diesel e-book stores find new jobs soon. It's no fun being out of work in this economy.

In the meantime, I need to look into distribution through All Romance eBooks and Google Play.

And contact my web mistress about taking the buy links off after she spent all that time getting my website updated. I'll definitely owe her a Starbucks gift card for this!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Showtime, Synergy?

If you read my blog, you know I've been jonesing for Hasbro to give Jem & the Holograms the same big screen treatment they have for Transformers and G.I. JOE. Well, I might be getting my wish.

Director Jon M. Chu is casting for a live-action Jem movie! He did G.I. JOE: Retaliation. (I still haven't forgiven Jon for killing off Duke at the beginning of the movie, but that's not the point of this post.) Currently, he's looking for (1) fan support and (2) auditions.

For additional information, check out

So what do y'all think?

[Edit to add: Good Goddess! This post is up for less than a minute and it's already got a couple of pings.]

How Do You Define Success?

Lately, I've had people say things about me hitting  the New York Time Best Seller List. Or signing TV or movie deals. Or in the case of DH, making enough money we can pay cash for a little bungalow in Waimea, Kauai.

But these are other people's definitions of success. They are not necessarily mine. Why? I know how some of this stuff works and they don't.

1) Best Seller Lists

First of all, in cases like the NYT and USAToday, the books that make a bestseller list mean that they sold more copies relative to the millions of books available for sale in a given week.

What a lot of people don't realize is that most bestseller lists are manipulated. For example, the NYT separated adult and kids' books when the Harry Potter dominated the charts ten years ago. They separated hard covers/mass market paperbacks/e-books decades ago for the same reason.

During the erotica boom in 2012, Barnes & Noble weighted their best seller list so erotica books didn't show on their Top 125 unless they were published by a trad publisher.

Also, a bestseller can be bought--if you have six figures to spend and you know which stores the list makers pull their numbers from.

So if there's so much manipulation, is my book making the bestseller truly a success?

2) Movie/TV Deals

The odds of a book being turned into a movie or TV are astronomical. I know several writers who have sold options on their books. (A option is an exclusive license to purchase the right to make a movie and/or TV show based on your story.) Not one of the book authors I personally know has had a movie or TV show filmed yet.

Even bestselling authors don't always have their stories turned into film right away. Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire traveled around Hollywood for two decades before the film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was finally made. At one point in that eighteen-year journey, Cher was considered for the role of Lestat.

So the odds of one of my books being adapted is next to nil at this point.

3) Money

I'm not going to deny that having extra spending money is very, very nice. I've had it; I haven't had it. But I have learned it's not the end-all, be-all. Yes, the bungalow in Waimea is our dream. If it happens, great. But I've not going to drive myself insane or work myself to death to achieve it.

Each person needs to define what success is to them. Maybe one of these three things defines success to you. If so, more power to you. I hope you find what your looking for. Just don't let other people decide what your success should be. Trust me; it's a sure way to make yourself miserable.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Major plus that they include Hoodwinked!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Illusion of Control

Wednesday, I spoke of my envy of Kerry Nietz. Later that afternoon, J.A. "Joe" Konrath posted an essay titled "No One Knows."

And the thing is Joe's right, and it was the kick in the pants I needed.

We humans don't control as much of world as we like to think we do. We can't control the weather, like the record snowfall in a lot of the U.S. this year. We can't control where or when a plane crashes if there's a catastrophic failure. We can't control our neighbors's behavior though we may pass lots of laws to try.

When it comes to publishing, indies do have a little more control over certain aspects of the process. We hire our own editors, formatters and cover artists. Or not as the case may be.

But we can't make people read our books.

Sure we can try different marketing and advertising techniques. Free. Exclusive. Blog hops. Spend hours on social media. Give talks to local writer groups.

We can write great blurbs and hire the best artists. And maybe, just maybe, through pleading, cajoling, tricking, and/or nagging, someone might read that first page.

But we can't make him like it. So we are right back to square one.

As Angie pointed out in comments on Wednesday, Jimmy Fallon mentioned Kerry Nietz's Amish Vampires in Space in order to mock it. Guess what? It doesn't matter because there are people out in the big wide world who like that type of story. Now, Kerry's getting some attention. So, in the end, Fallon's mockery backfired big time, and Hollywood is calling Kerry Nietz, wanting the movie option.

This is what Joe means in his essay. This is exactly the Unreproduceable Phenomenon he's talking about. There's no way Kerry or any other writer could have made this type of event happen. We simply don't have that much control over the universe.

So what do we writers do?

Not a damn thing. Go back to your desk, your couch or your comfy chair, and write the best damn story you can. That's really the only thing we can control.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Green-Eyed Monster Awakens.

Okay, I know I've repeatedly preached that a writer needs to ignore what other writers are doing. And I really do try to practice what I preach. But this book was featured on The Tonight Show.

I'm jealous. I'm soooooo jealous! And I want to read it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Blessing from Your Wee Bit of Irish Hostess

May you always have good books to read, good friends to laugh with, and good lovers to cuddle!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Off-world babes. Jim Kirk would be in heaven.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Amazon Is Going Further to Hide Erotica...Even When You're Looking for It!

Well, if the weirdness with Red Phoenix's latest release, The Keeper Finds Her Mate (Keeper of the Pack #2), wasn't bad enough, Amazon is now hiding erotica books even when you're looking for them.

Late Wednesday night, I started poking around Amazon by entering my favorite authors or erotica writers I've met online. I got some interesting search results. If one or more of that author's books has been flagged with the dreaded ADULT label, those books won't show up, even you go to the Books>Kindle submenu. And it is more than one writer that this is happening to:

To get around the ADULT label, some authors, like Selena Kitt, are going through their library and changing covers and titles.

This is the original cover of Selena's book Connections and is still used on the Excessica storefront. Excessica is a cooperative of erotica authors headed by Selena.

By the time I downloaded the book from Amazon on July 25, 2012, Selena had to digitally add a bikini to the cover model, but the book was still listed as erotica.

(By the way, this is the cover that still appears on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.)

Jump forward to the Kernel Pornocalypse in October of 2013. Everything labeled as erotica was getting banned, regardless of how covered the models were.

So Selena tried a different tactic. Not only did she create a brand-new cover, she changed the category of the book. It is no longer in Erotica, but listed as New Adult.

In this case, a reasonable argument can be made that the story is New Adult. There's only one sex scene, and it's not all that graphic. Also, Selena would be the first to warn against misleading readers.

But to paraphrase a statement Kallypso Masters made on Facebook during the Red Phoenix incident earlier this week, just how many hoops do writers have to jump through?

And she's got a point.

How long will Amazon continue to pretend it's not selling erotica? And why are their rules so arbitrary?

DH commented that putting out a defined set of rules means people will twist them to get away with things. I responded that many of us are already gaming the system to get around Amazon's undefined rules that we are figuring out.

I guess the point of all this rambling is why does Amazon make it so hard to find things that readers do want to read. Is it worth pissing off readers by hiding things, or in Red Phoenix's case, refusing to put something up for sale without saying why, thereby unleashing hordes of furious fans?

And at what point are we writers going to piss off the readers by gaming the system, changing a blurb too far to where the readers feel betray?

Why the hell can't we just call a duck as duck?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Erotica Readers Rebel over Amazon's Vague Rules

Back in January, I talked about how erotica writers were adapting to the 2013 Pornocalypse.

Part of the problem has always been Amazon's guidelines.


We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content

What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

Since the guidelines are so vague, the actual criteria changes from month-to-month, leaving writers guessing about what sets off Amazon's version of the Stepford Wives. Erotica writers have banded together to deduce the triggers that send the Wives into a frenzy, and the guidelines put out by Selena Kitt and others erotica writers have been stable for all of three months.

Apparently, Amazon has new criteria that once again, they told no one about.

Yesterday, Red Phoenix's much awaited book, The Keeper Finds Her Mate (Keeper of the Wolves #2) was blocked on Amazon, even though it was already for sale on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Red posted the e-mail she received on her Facebook page in hopes that someone could figure out what it was that Amazon objected to:

During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines. Our content guidelines apply to the book interior, as well as cover image, title and/or product descriptions. As a result, we will not be offering this book for sale.

Several experienced erotica authors and readers looked at the public information. No naked boobs or butts on the cover. The wolf refers to the fact that the characters are werewolves, not that the book contains bestiality, exactly the same as the first book in the series.

Layla took on the role as Keeper after her mother’s untimely death. She succeeded in her first Bonding Ritual, but is surprised by the forbidden act she must perform every full moon. A whole new future opens up when she is rescued from certain death by an unknown wolf. Will the strength of her bond with the four Alphas overcome the desire to deny her fate and start a new life with another?

Warning: 18+ This book contains scenes that some readers may find objectionable. 

A couple of folks thought maybe "forbidden," "mate," or "objectionable" might have added to Amazon's No-no List of Naughty Words.

But we'll never know for sure because Red's fans stepped in. And they were pissed!

Facebook statuses flew spreading the word of what Amazon had done to their favorite author. They sent furious e-mails to Amazon, then turned around and bought the book from the other retailers carrying it.

Red still hadn't figured out how to respond to Amazon when The Keeper Finds Her Mate suddenly went live at noon EDT today. While Amazon would never admit it, Red gives full credit to her legions of fans who demanded that her book be made available to them.

As of the writing of this post (it's just after 7PM CDT), Red is climbing the bestseller list:

So what the hell was Amazon thinking by blocking this book? Or was someone in KDP getting a little too power-trippy?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Low-Key Tips for Discovery

A lot of writers will dismiss what I'm about to say. Americans are very big about doing something, but that something has to be BIG in and of itself.


Because the myth is that you have to do something big to get big results.

It doesn't take big actions to get attention for you and your books. A lot of little things add up.

1) Comment on other writers' blogs.

Why? For one thing, you'll get to know folks who are in the same position you are. The camaraderie helps get through the trials and tribulations of the career. For a second, you'll have cross-pollination when your readers and theirs see that you're friends.

2) Interact with your readers.

It's always a thrill getting that first personal contact from a reader, whether it be by e-mail, snail mail, FB or tweet. Always acknowledge the contact. The personal touch will go a lot further than you realize. You've made the reader feel special, and they are more likely to recommend you to friends because you took the time to write back.

Caveat: Don't respond to non-direct communication, i.e. reviews. It makes some readers very uncomfortable, and you may inadvertently launch a flaming on yourself.

3) Keep writing.

This is the one every new writer forgets. If someone likes your first book, they will want to read your next. If you haven't written it, they have nothing to buy. And if they have to wait too long, they will forget about you.

So keep writing!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Since ABC cancelled Killer Women, here's some alternates for you.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing...

Over at The Passive Voice, indie authors discuss trends and data and writing and readers. Normally, we find all sorts of interesting tidbits that help to clarify our career decisions, trigger story ideas in underserved genres and generally give us a better understanding of the exploding universe that is the publishing industry.

But lately, there's been an odd little comment that pops up with great  regularity whenever a new idea is presented.

"What's in this for me?"

Needless to say, Annoyed Writer has said this. But others have that well...I thought they knew better.

What is it with the need for instant gratification in our culture? Why does someone else have give these people a step-by-step instruction manual on how to interpret data that MAY help their individual case? Who do they think they are to demand such things in the first place?

What it really comes down to is these people have no faith in their own talent. Why doesn't someone GIVE them the Magic Formula (TM)? Why work harder when all they have to do is find that blasted Magic Formula (TM)? Because they KNOW people are deliberately hiding it from them!

And even when they don't believe in the Magic Formula (TM), then the reason they aren't raking in the money has to be because other writers are holding them back! They moan that all the other writers and all the other genres should just GO AWAY! If the field was totally clear, then EVERYONE would buy their books!

Um, no, kids. It doesn't work like that. The reason the BHPs have been seeing slow, steady losses over the last decade is because they weren't giving readers the stories that they wanted.

Yes, revenue is dropping, mainly because the middleman is being cut out of the deal which means lower prices for consumers. Reading and unit sales are rising. More of the revenue is going to writer pockets. It's a win-win situation for both readers (more variety) and writers (more money).

However, if you're new to the indie game, it takes time to build a backlist. It takes time to build a fanbase. It takes time to market your stories. Some writers think they were promised a rose garden with 20's and 50's hanging on the thorrny branches.

Please show me who promised y'all this because I sure as hell didn't. And I want one of these magical rose bushes.

I also want a lightsabre and the U.S.S. Enterprise-D while you're at it.

In the meantime, only you can make your career decisions. I can't. No one can, but you.

Have faith in yourself. Have fun. And if something doesn't work, then the lovely thing about indie publishing is that you can change it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When Will I Be Good Enough?

A friend commented in an e-mail about how intense my blogs were last week. I had to think about my reactions to the subject matter, and I believe I figured out the commonality.

"You're not good enough."

Even though only one particular incident was aimed directly at me, that was the gist for most of the people I mentioned in last weeks' posts. I've heard this refrain my entire life, and it still pisses me off.

I wasn't good enough for my mother. Why couldn't I be athletic like my sister and brother? Why couldn't I be a pretty cheerleader like my cousin Stephanie? Why couldn't I stop embarrassing my mother by speaking my mind?

It continued through school, but now my peers and teachers piled on. Why was I such a nerd getting straight A's? Why couldn't I get a boyfriend? Why couldn't I dress right?

And it carried through my adult years. I wasn't good enough because I refused to sleep with a boss. I wasn't good enough because I wasn't employed at a big law firm. I wasn't good enough because I wouldn't work for free.

When I started writing, the rejections and the angst only added to the miasma of insecurity. Ironically, what helped, really, really helped, was indie publishing. Trusting my voice. Trusting my talent. Trusting myself.

The put-downs haven't gone away.

I had an indie writer bitch me out for congratulating another writer who was ecstatic about signing with a publisher. It's not my life; it's not my career. If this particular person was happy with her decision, then I would support her.

I also had a trad published writer tell me that since I had made a trad sale last year, then maybe now I could get an agent. There's something wonderful in having a little self-confidence. I simply asked her why I needed one if I could make my own sales.

It took me nearly fifty years to learn not to let people make me feel inferior. Sometimes, I think I would have learned that lesson a lot sooner if  had someone in my life had been willing to stick up for me.

So yes, that's why I get passionate when I see someone bullied or put  down. I know what it feels like, and I want the recipient of such treatment to know they're are not alone.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Educating Snow - BAMF Girls Club Ep. 15

Snow White's in for an education when she joins the BAMF Girls House!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Sharon Stone should have been #1. Just sayin'.