Saturday, April 19, 2014

How corporate censorship is hurting erotica writers

My overall ebook sales trends.
It is official--first quarter of 2014 was my slowest quarter as a writer since I made the switch from doing the print market to being an indie writer selling ebooks though online retailers (Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc.). Well, if you ignore my very first quarter which I tend not to count because my stuff was only available though Smashwords, and Smashwords alone that quarter.

So overall, over the space of ten quarters, I have went from nothing to making good money back down to almost nothing.

And I know exactly what to blame for this sales trend.

It is not laziness. It is not fickle customers. It is not my own personal mental and emotional state. It is not my ill physical health (migraines suck). It is not the national economy. It is not the global economy.

No, all these things together do not account for the sales trend.

No, this trend is all about corporate censorship of erotica.

The big spike in my sales was when I full distribution, as in even Apple iBookstore was carrying my full line of offerings.

Since then, Apple has discontinued carrying a lot of my ebooks. And even those stories which were rewritten to confirm with iBookstore standards do not move--gee, I guess even Apple fans do not want to read watered down vanilla erotica. Kobo has killed all my money-making erotica. The Sony Readerstore has gone under, transferring users' libraries to Kobo (my own personal library of other writers' stuff had a third of it not transfer over--and I am not into the extreme types of erotica). And the less said about Amazon, the better.

The only place that my full line of erotica offerings is still being carried is Barnes and Noble, and they did a weird thing to the default search so that you have to trick the system in showing you erotica even when you punch in the exact title and author into the search inquiry.

In other words, you can only find my best selling erotica at one online retailer who is hiding it behind a search wall.

(Please note that the recent addition of Scribd has not worked its way though the system yet...but I imagine that corporate censorship is to follow as soon as they decide that they do not want their customers using their service to pay yucky smut.)

As for my other types of writing, they have been slow, but steady without no great increase or decline in sales. Too bad that my overall sales depend upon heavily on erotica ebooks. If I could find something mainstream or even niche to write that would move at a quicker pace I would devote more time to writing it than writing erotica.

Bottom line: Corporate censorship is hurting erotica writers and their income. And that includes little old me.

Friday, February 28, 2014

You are only allowed to write one genre says self-proclaimed expert

One of the statements that make my top ten list of stupid things to say about the business of writing is that "Successful writers should quit after a certain point, in order to allow other writers a chance at success." The latest variation of this statement came from Lynn Shepherd, who decided to tell JK Rowling that she should not be writing books aimed at adults.

Shepherd first states how she finds it wrong that adults were reading the Harry Potter books...gee, I am one of those adults that committed a sin by doing so. Then Shepherd goes on to state that Rowling adult writing is dreadful, yet sold by the bucket-load because Rowling has a famous other words, Rowling's writing sucks and she cheated by having a reputation. Shepherd accuses Rowling of trying to set up a monopoly that threatens to kill the careers of all other crime writers.

Shepherd closes her piece off by saying:

"So this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo's Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can't wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word. By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure - I would never deny anyone that - but when it comes to the adult market you've had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you're doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it's time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe."

As can be expected, there has been a certain amount of backlash over this statement, including a s**t storm of one star reviews on Shepherd's own novels. Shepherd has resorted to damage control:

"[I] only ever meant to raise the issue of how hard it is for new writers to get noticed and how publishing is much more of a zero sum game than people often think."

So why is this type of statement on my top ten list of stupid things to say about the business of writing?

First, we all entered into this zero-sum game willingly, knowing fully damn well that it is a zero-sum game. We also entered with the idea of becoming famous enough to be able to write whatever we wanted to write...JK Rowling has earned her right to experiment in other genres. And Rowling did try to keep a low profile--and failed...much like Stephen King tried to do with his Richard Bachman experiment.

(By the way, I think that Running Man is a really good story that should not be judged by the movie.)

Second, maybe the book market is not a zero-sum game to begin with. JK Rowling helped introduce a whole new generation to the addiction joys of reading. If she wants to continue to write for her existing readers, many who are now adults, then Rowling should be allowed to do so. I figure that some of her addicts readers will need more literary drugs books than she can produce (two books a year maximum, I figure), therefore some of these readers will buy books from other writers...possibly even me.

Third, publishers and fans loathe people who bad mouth their favorite writers. Publishers hesitate to publish books by writers who are prone to pouring gasoline on another writer, especially when they set themselves on fire while doing so. Fans remember who bad-mouthed their favorite writers, and will stay away in droves...well, once they get done beating you with a stick, that is.

Fourth, telling a writer to quit writing is a good way to start a permanent state of war with said writer. Heavens know that I still carry a grudge against the last three people that have told me to get out of the business--all of which seemed to resent the fact that I was making more money at it than they were. Of course, in this case, JK Rowling might not care...Shepherd is rather small potatoes, after all.

Fifth, writers are not restricted to one genre in the course of their career. Just like an actor can become a writer, producer, or director--writers are allowed to switch pen-names (if they like) and genres. Saying that Rowling is only allowed to write children books is like telling me that I am only allowed to write erotica because my first check as a writer came from that market...or telling a person flipping burgers that they are not allowed to become a writer because they first worked in food service.

Sixth and most important, would Lynn Shepherd herself quit writing to give other writers a chance?

I am willing to bet that she would not. Anyone who has ran though the gauntlet is not going to quit simply because other people are less successful than they are. In fact, having ran the gauntlet, one knows that other people can do so also. Again, think about other professions--there is no rule saying that a successful person has to quit to give other people a chance at success. We do not see politicians and CEOs retiring just to give people in the call centers a fair chance.

Life is not fair. And Lynn Shepherd seems to have forgotten this fact...but I think that she is getting a reminder of it right now.

As for JK Rowling, trust me--someday she will quit writing...she is not immortal, after all. *wink*

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013--The final three days!!!

The NaNoWriMo writers in Denver Colorado made steady progress.
Early November 28, 2013: Thanksgiving Day--at 3:49 pm, I was only at 30,574 words--needing 19,426 more words to hit the fifty thousand words in thirty days goal of National Novel Writing Month. I could imagine my Three Critics smiling among themselves that I was proving once again that I am incapable of accomplishing anything. And there was no way that I was going to prove them wrong--after all, there is no way that someone can actually finish twenty thousand words (40% of a novel) in just three days.

End of the day--November 28, 2013: Somehow, someway, by the end of Thanksgiving Day, I had managed to have written 7,804 words for the day--bringing me to 37,960 total.

November 29, 2013: Another hot writing day--6,668 words done in twenty-four hours--it brings me to 44,628 words for the month.

November 30, 2013--last day of National Novel Writing Month--despite a brief interruption of a friend fixing a computer problem--I managed to get 5,434 words done--bringing my total at 7:50 pm up to 50,059 for the month.

Yes, that is right--somehow, I managed to go from a sure loss to a win in the last three days of the NaNoWriMo. I am a winner of the 2013 National Novel Writing Month.

And at 7:50 pm, I crossed the line of fifty thousand words for the month.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013 week four progress

Where I was at 3:49 pm on Thanksgiving Day during the NaNoWriMo.
The last update on my progress towards the goal of fifty thousand words in thirty days (oh, the insanity of National Novel Writing Month) found me sitting at 22,379 words on the 21st of November--basically, 44.7% done and only at 64% of the suggested amount done by that point, with 27,621 more words needed to hit the goal...and a suggested 3069 words a day if I wanted to divide up the remaining words up evenly though the remaining days of November.

November 22, 2013: Getting a bug up my ass, I spend more time setting up the front and back matter template for a possible Golden Dawn/Wiccan/pagan/magical correspondence course than I do working on the Nanowrimo. At the end of the day, I only advanced to 24,574 words.

November 23, 2013: It was a community networking day in my local Wiccan/pagan community. I spend three hours at the Mercury Café talking to other people in the local Denver Wiccan/pagan community. When I get home, I post a blog post about an idea that I have for a Golden Dawn community project--the idea is met with the sound of crickets chirping. 25,864 words.

November 24, 2013: It is a grey day--and it affects my mood. The slight depression makes my total of 26,227 words look really bad.

November 25, 2013: Still feeling a little blah. I do a whole ten words that day, bringing my total to just 26,237 words. I do promise myself that I will continue working on the rough draft until it is complete...because I am stubborn.

November 26, 2013: I work on the rough draft and advance my word count to 28,471 words. Plus I spend a hour or two taking photos of jewelry for the Celtic Soul Etsy store. All in all, between the two tasks, I consider this to be a very good day, full of accomplishments.

November 27, 2013: I manage to get to 30,156 words by the end of the day. That is only 67% of the suggested word count for that point in the month, and only 60% of the way to the final goal of fifty thousand words.

Early November 28, 2013: Thanksgiving Day--at 3:49 pm, I have only wrote 418 more words. It looks like this attempt of cracking the goal of National Novel Writing Month is going to be a complete failure. And that probably surprised no one--especially my Three Critics--after all, my Three Critics claim that I am not really a writer in the first place, believing in their hearts that I should go back to flipping burgers for a living.

Friday, November 22, 2013

National Novel Writing Month 2013 progress week 3

My NaNoWriMo 2013 progress week three
As you might remember, National Novel Writing Month for me this year started off rough with me tossing my first idea into the round circular file. I did catch up a little bit on my shortage week two, which left me at 11,564 words on day fourteen, and only halfway of where I should have been at that point (according to the suggested 1667 words a day that the official NaNoWriMo site suggests).

I wish that I could say that I have managed to catch up to where I should be at this point in the challenge, but I haven't. As always my failure to do so will probably make my Three Worst Critics very happy.

Day 15: The night of the local Open Full Moon ritual which I attended (I am a member of the Hearthstone Community Church's board, so I try to always attend the OFMs). 12,231 words.

Day 16: Spent the day running errands--my word count continues to grow ever so slowly. Looking over the stack of books that I want to review on one of my other blogs, I start writing a post about Demonolatry. 12,330 words.

Day 17: Reading over the daily email of a Yahoo group postings, my planned Demonolatry post starts to look more complicated, simply because I am about to give a positive review to an author who ended up getting roosted for one of her previous books (and has annoyed one of the big names in the Golden Dawn). I end up spending more time than I originally planned to on finishing the Demonolatry post (which is located here). 12,506 words.

Day 18: The best day so far during this year's NaNoWriMo--I add 3943 words to my total. I finally hit the point where I am a third of the way towards the final fifty thousand word goal for the month--and 55% of where I should be. 16,449 total words so far.

Day 19: I don't gain any ground, but I do not lose any ground either. 19,128 words.

Day 20: Again no gain, no loss. 21,357 words.

Day 21: Awoken up early by bill collectors--it throws me off for the entire day. I start working on the chapter that explains how fast food companies squeeze their workers to maximize their profits (the one chapter that has to be published, even if I hit delete on the entire book). Only 1017 words for the day. My grand total at the end of week three: 22,379--44.7% of final goal done--64% of where I should be at this point.

In order to finish the fifty thousand word rough draft on the 30th, I have 27,621 words still to write--basically, I need to write 3069 words a day to accomplish that.

And for those interested, I have already promised myself that if I miss the final goal that I will continue to hack out words until the rough draft is complete.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo week two progress

At least, I am visible on the chart.  
So yesterday was day fourteen of the joys that are the National Novel Writing Month, therefore it is time to update all my loyal readers about where I am at in the process (and by "loyal," I mean random people coming by who are so bored that even this entry is entertaining).

[For those of you who have not came directly from the last entry, my score on November 7, 2013 was 4918 words with an estimated finish date of January 11, 2014--basically, I was at 42% of the suggested word count by the end of that day.]

Day 8: 4945 words--estimated finish date is January 20, 2013. I did complete some writing this day, but it had nothing to do with the NaNoWriMo--it was a rant for the Hearthstone Community Church's monthly newsletter...those words do not count towards the novel.

Day 9: Depression rears its ugly head. At the end of the day, I am only at 4959 words--January 30, 2014 is when I might be done with the first draft.

Day 10: I hit 6701 words by the end of the night, with January 14, 2014 looking like my estimate finish date. I also hack out a short erotica story and upload it to Smashwords. Just like the OFM column, the erotica story does not count towards my NaNoWriMo word count.

Day 11: 6722 words--I fall to January 21, 2014. Maybe I shouldn't have written that erotic story the night before.

Day 12: 7968 words--January 15, 2014. Sadly my wife's computer is exhibiting problems.

Day 13: 9695 words--January 7, 2014. Yep, my wife's computer definitely has an issue--joy! I get to share the computer with her until her computer gets fixed...which means that given a choice between her working on her business or me working on my rough draft--she wins.

Day 14: 11,564 words, and my new estimated date of completion is December 31, 2013. I need to hack out 2,261 words a day (opposed to the 1667 that I would need if I had not fallen behind), and am currently at 49.5% of where I should be at this time.

Tonight is the Open Full Moon ritual, therefore I am probably not going to get a lot done today on the rough draft. I imagine that will make some of my haters happy--after all, I suspect that they would like to see me fail to complete the NaNoWriMo goal this year also. I am undecided on whether I should let them be happy or not--but I will admit that there is part of me that wants to set them on fire with lots and lots of words.

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 week one

You can barely see my progress this week.
As some of you know, I am once again attempting the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month...actually, it is international nowdays)--that wonderful time of year when some writers welcome insanity into their lives and try to write a fifty thousand word rough draft in the space of thirty days--yep, that is right, an entire rough (first) draft of a novel.

This is my seventh attempt. The first five happened in college. The first year, I missed my word count by the amount of words that went into that semester's term papers...which is why I count the first year as a partial win. My last year of college, I lasted a whole was the same semester as I was doing my senior seminar in literature (I was reading two books a week just for that class). Last year...depression, exhaustion, it was just not a good year for me at all (in hindsight, I have a real good idea of what was actually derailing me).

So here is how my first seven days of Nanowrimo went:

Day 1: Just three words written. At that pace, I would finish on June 19, 2059. Things could only get better...well, provided that I did not completely give up. I had went to one of the food banks on this day (and realized that I really needed one of those two wheeled shopping carts on the way back--thank goddess for the kind Christian ladies who decided to have mercy on me and give me a ride...because after half a mile [three quarters] I was exhausted).

Day 2: 207 words completed--it is really just an outline (still exhausted from the food bank run). On a bright note, estimated date of completion--March 1, 2015.

Day 3: Spot massive plot problem. Only at 223 words--I might finish the first draft by September 7, 2015.

Day 4: Decided to toss the first attempt for the time being--someday, I will attempt to finish Farmer Ants...but not this month. Switched to an idea that I had earlier in the year, Burger Flipping Confessions. The only problem with this idea is that someone might mistake the novel for the story of my own life--it is sure to get at least one family member upset. Still, I am starting to feel desperate, and I had been kicking around doing this one for at least six months. I reset my word count. By the end of the day, I have 1434 words done on Confessions--new estimated date for completion is March 20, 2014.

Day 5: I don't actually remember what happened on this day. I know that I had a panic attack about something...probably the household budget. I do dimly remember talking about going back to looking for a job in food service. At the end of the day, I am only at 1447 words--April 23, 2014 is the new estimate for date of completion.

Day 6: The calendar for the NaNoWriMo that I had printed out said, "Send in the flying monkeys." Sadly, that is exactly what happened. Some person took offense to a very neutral, and very true statement that I made on the internet, and decided to let me know that they were upset. I am presented with a choice of giving into their demands which will take days to accomplish (if I can even do it that quickly) or allowing them to sic their lawyer on me...considering that I had done everything that I was legally required to do, I decide to ignore them and work on the novel instead. There is now a chapter in Confessions that I am really hoping ends up on the cutting room floor, but might end up in the finished novel if the theme shows up again. I finish the day at 2029 words--maybe by March 28, 2014, I will be finished with this rough draft. (Also took some pottery photos.)

Day 7: First day of actually hitting the suggested daily word count. I feel more positive than I did the day before considering that a flying monkey did not succeed to derailing me. (I took more pottery photos.) The chapter I wrote needs a heavy reworking. But still, at the end of the day, I am at 4910 words, and might finish on January 11, 2014.

So in summary, I am at about 42% of the word count that it is suggested that I be at by the end of day seven. On the bright note, I believe that I have enough to flesh out the rest of Burger Flipping Confessions. And I took a temporary cover shot yesterday for the book.

If you buy ebooks on Smashwords, Burger Flipping Confessions is currently set at "Reader determines the price" which as we all know is the same as setting the price for free, except that you are actually considered to have brought the book (unlike the "free" setting), therefore you can access the final version on Smashwords after I edit it and set the price to something realistic.