Its been a while since I've written a "business" blog, but for those that like that aspect of it, I figured I'd throw it out there.
About three months ago I hunkered down with the huge book on how to format your work for Smashwords, took a day, and uploaded a book. Then a few days later I uploaded another, and another until today I have just about 20 books up at Smashwords, and all of them are in the premium category save one which is still pending review.
In those three months I have brought in a good chunk of income. In fact that income is close to what I make on B&N with 50+ books out. I have found that I have many returning readers in Canada, a few in Australia, and that my books on Kobo are selling beautifully, and picking up on Sony.
There are a few things about SW that I am not in love with one is the reports on book sales. That's a bear all the way through, and I really don't know if my current payment is 3 months, 2 months, or 3 months, but SW only haha. I still will need time to figure out the timing and how things flow. The other thing that's difficult is there is no "set payout per book." For example:
Deep: A Rape Fantasy - Kobo Sale - 1.69
Deep: A Rape Fantasy - SW Sale - 2.43
Deep: A Rape Fantasy - SW Sale - 2.46
Deep: A Rape Fantasy - B&N Sale = 1.80
It makes for a bear putting it into my spreadsheets and attempting to check and balance my paychecks. But would I give up this massive increase to sales because of it? HELL NO!!!!
The other thing - oddly enough, is that SW doesn't scream professional to me. The website is. . . too simple? I sent my mother there to buy a book (she likes buying them to support me even if she doesn't read them), and her first question to me was "can I trust this site?" Its a shame, because the database and searching seems to be one of the best out there, but the simplicity of the design looks almost like a quickly thrown together blog. Again - totally not worth abandoning them for.
With the fact that the formatting has become so easy to me, broken down in simple easy to remember steps, the big boost in sales, the distribution to other major retailers, the knowledge that Mark Coker fought for Indie Authors against censorship with Paypal . . . I won't be going away anytime soon,
Many writers have goals on how many words to write a day - sometimes they're huge and sometimes they're small. I read one professional full time writer say that she always strives for 8,000 words, and then she stops herself so she doesn't get sick of writing. Her thoughts were if she could always do 8,000 then it would be steady and she'd always have something fun to write about the next day if she stopped in an exciting scene.
There are many different tips on getting your output up, but the truth about this here author (me) is my goals change and fluctuates based on what is happening in my life. For instance, this month is Christmas, I have a LOT to finish in time for Christmas, dollhouses, clothes, quilts, not to mention preschool for my daughter and babysitting off and on. Frankly getting stories out-while still a major goal-has been reduced to only a few thousand words per day.
My goal of hitting 50 books this year is being pushed back to 40 - and I'm well on my way to that (book 37 and 38 are at the editor now!) The key for me is to set goals I can accomplish, and that means if I have one that is becoming too lofty to reduce it into smaller portions. I will still hit 50 books - but I have given myself until March to hit it, allowing me the opportunity to be with my daughter and enjoy the festivities, and to produce quality.
So keep ACTIVE goals, goals that work around you and help you feel accomplished. Work continually and do do do!
Steady or Spikes?
Sales are one of those things that will never follow a formula. For a writer they vary so drastically from person to person and a story that has been liked "more than that best seller" may be overlooked for years, even if they did the exact same things as the other author.
When I decided to try to publish my erotic works for sale, and mentioned it to my good friend he sent me a link to a forum about selling sex books. There were hundreds of comments, and I spent the entire day going through it in depth, learning the "tricks of the trade." But the $3000 a month has never come for me. I consider it a good month when I break $200 a month. But I must admit I'm building. Semi-steadily.
Over and over I hear comments of people saying they want to publish only on Amazon because its "where the money is at" and yet B&N has always been equal for me, and lately its been fighting to take lead.
Another perk is my sales on B&N have always been steady, in June when I took my long break for family and personal reasons and didn't put anything new out, my sales dropped by a few bucks on B&N, still achieving at least 3/4 of my sales. On Amazon? It dropped more than half.
Writers want the knowledge that when they're struck by writer's block, the muse is courting a story that doesn't fit in your genre, or they have an emergency come up and writing is set aside for a bit that they will still bring in income. The shoddy hit or miss of my Amazon sales ensure that I'll for sure keep my writing off the KDP Select program due to the steady and strong numbers on B&N.
Words, Words, Words and Giveaway!
Being a professional writer can cause a massive headache of words. Many writers have word goals or page goals in order to meet their novel or output goal. Since most writers work from home those goals can sometimes be put aside in favor of laundry, taking children to the park, Facebook, dinner, and that show you've been waiting for on TV. If your family relies on you for certain things words can be "justifiably" put on the wayside to put your family first.
I find that my output has greatly suffered since my daughter stopped taking naps, there is always more to do with a three year old on the loose. Finding ways to stay focused while she is entertained come in spots of maybe an hour, but typically closer to 30 minutes, or the time it takes for her to watch a cartoon. I find that I need to set up certain points in order to help me stay focused.
Here's what I do - let me know what you do to stay focused for your chance to win a $5 Gift Card to Amazon! (Please be sure to put in your email so I can get it to you!)
1.) Set aside or fulfill your distractions. I start my day by getting my 3 year old breakfast and a show. While she eats I get my blog out (If I'm doing one that day.) This ensures that she's happy and distraction free for at least a half hour, while also being happy and cared for. Laundry is also another easy one to do throughout the day, set it and forget it for an hour.
2.) "Go to work." An environment change helps me remember I am at work, despite the fact that I'm still sitting in my living room. My favorite is to turn on some music. Something mood setting and not overpowering. But if you aren't a music writer, try a candle, or water fountain. Not only does will this help me remember I'm writing, but it also is an indication to my family. They hear my music and know I'm not ignoring them, I'm working.
3.) Come up with a plan. What piece will you work on? What scenes are you hoping to get through? Are you introducing a new character - whats his name and stats? If you are having difficulties staying focused during your writing period, write these out beforehand in a quick outline so you know where you are going.
4.) Open your document. I know this is ridiculously silly, obvious, and simple, but you have to have your work available to work on it. My biggest problem is I sit down at my computer and the first things I open are Facebook and Farmville. Not conducive to getting words on the page. If you are starting a new piece get it set up and organized the way you like, save it before hand so you can just hit ctrl+s on occasion without breaking your flow.
5.) Set up "break times" typically a work day out of the home goes for 2 hours, has a 15 minute break, goes for 2 hours, has a lunch break, goes for 2 hours, 15 minute break, 2 hours and done. Obviously the point of working at home is the flexibility, but giving yourself a gentle schedule will help you put off getting your coffee until your "coffee break"
6.) If your pen or keyboard is still not functioning take some time to look for inspiration or free write, but set a goal time of when you'll try writing for work again, I usually go about 15-20 minutes for these inspirational moments.
Expanding Your Business
With the latest 50 Shades' announcement: Kelly Marcel has been assigned to adapt the books for film I thought I would discuss the idea of Expanding Your Business.
The idea that you have to spend money to make money has been around since business was created, and while writing and indie publishing erotica has cut a good portion of our costs down, there are still certain things that will tap our account. I've already discussed my desire to keep close to the black. I didn't want to go into debt with this business until I could ensure that I would bring in enough to break even soon enough. Frankly I am a risk averse person and we were not in a place we could risk funds like that.
Its been almost a year and while I'm not touring Europe on my paycheck I have completely reimbursed my initial start up fees for my lap top, editor, covers, fonts, the few pieces of advertising I have set up. I am currently looking into hiring a web-assistant. Someone to check through my links and ensure they're active and correct, to give me feedback, and to help me with some extra advertising here and there around the web. But again the risk averse person within me is saying "this is stuff you do!" But it takes away from my writing, reducing my output and creativity with more analytic type work.
With each business decision there are pros and cons, and a level of risk, taking time to think them through before diving in and possibly wasting a bunch of money. When I'm faced with a decision I set up a goal, a cancellation deadline, and a baseline.
For example - another avenue I'm looking into is web ads on a popular website. The pros are that it is relatively cheap, has no cancellation fees if it doesn't work, the trial period could be as long or as short as I like. The cons are that while it would advertise to my web presence and help me expand my blog and my site I don't know if it will directly influence sales, plus all my advertising thus far has been free, and stepping into the world of paid advertising means that I will have more money I need to make to stay in the black. I have decided that I will set up a 2 month trial, with the goal of reaching 500 "new" views on my pages.
In the end my decisions are based on my overall goals for my business. Views may not instantly translate to sales, but without views people won't know about my works.
Word of Mouth Sales
So yesterday I had a door-to-door salesman come and show me vacuums. I was more than happy to let him come in and clean my carpet while I watched haha. But in addition to the clean carpet and the inspiration for a silly irreverent erotica, I also made a few "sales" and handed out a few business cards.
On Sunday I got my hair cut and my hairdresser took a card as well.
The fun thing is that all I'm doing is talking. Pretty much everyone asks within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone "what do you do" and when I say "erotic author" usually it inspires some sort of further conversation, usually akin to "wow that sounds like so much fun!" and it being treated like I said "stunt double" or "movie star". Some want the facts on how I got published, some want to know about inspiration, and some want to "talk shop." Pretty much everyone that goes into a positive conversation at some point asks my pen name, when I offer them a card they're thrilled.
So I guess long story short I'm saying talk to strangers, treat that kid at the door begging to sell you a vacuum (or at least demonstrate it!) with courtesy and answer truthfully when they ask you what you do. And get business cards to back you up!
Work, ReWork, and Work Again
I have been working. Hard. Hard enough that I have felt the pressure at night when I am attempting to sleep. Hard enough that there is serious kink in my shoulders from hunching over the pc, and in my legs from bending and squatting and lifting.
My first novella is complete, and to the editor, final edits are hopefully received tomorrow for a tight publishing deadline by Friday.
The cover has been done for a few weeks and has been officially released. I have done an interview available on June 1st, and The Binding: An Erotic Fantasy is scheduled to be reviewed by GraveTells in mid-June.
My life has taken a crazy turn in the last month or so. An emergency happened with a friend of friend causing some direct changes to my lifestyle. Namely a 1 year old boy coming over 4 days a week.
The good news is that my writing career while- slowing drastically-has not died. I have simply reworked my strategy. We are going at it in a bit of a different way.
Instead of pounding out delicious sex stories that kept my readers drooling for more of my delectable tales, I have focused on one or two longer pieces. Including my very first novella, heavy duty advertising, and less hours at the keyboard.
Sometimes businesses need a wrench to be thrown into the works to shake things up a bit, and that's certainly hoping this wrench shakes things up in a positive way.
Every company goes through "slow" periods, times when sales are not at their peak and profit margins are slim (or even non-existent) and writing is no different. Keeping that in mind through these ups and downs is key.
The good news with selling our books is that our store front doesn't close down when we need to take time off. Our books stay on the shelves
I find it absolutely amazing what I get to call research. :) The other day I spent a few hours pouring over Dreamstime looking for a photo for Isaac for an upcoming interview with him to promote The Binding: An Erotic Fantasy. He needed to be tall, strong, sleek, dark haired, and handsome. A few days later I was pooling around looking at pretty pussy, searching out one with heart-shaped lips to ensure that my vision was accurate.
Research is something any writer and artist does (or at least needs to do) and that is doesn't eliminate erotic authors. It may be something like reference photos, or porn to discover the "know how" of DP, or something as boring as whether its lay, lie, or laid.
I have just started reading a book entitled The Black Witch, its a horror novel, and a bit outside my norm, but already I can tell the author knows a lot about ships. Whether its was countless hours of researching the differences between stem and stern or what they called old sailors, Michael Rivers is on top of it. I don't know a great deal about ships, so I certainly am not verifying everything he says as true and accurate, but it reads smoothly and he sure could fool me if its not!
The point is that whether or not you are experienced with sex you need to read like you are! If you're not a man discuss with a man how it feels to ejaculate. If you're not a female find out what that moment of pleasure is like for one! If you don't have a husband, wife, or good friend you feel comfortable talking about that amazing moment with then join a forum, there are hundreds of thousands out there, and many of them enjoy talking about sex! You don't necessarily need to experience double penetration to feel the pleasure of something in your pussy and ass at the same time.
Erotica and sex in writing is perhaps one of the most true parts of fiction out on the market today. Not because somewhere at some point a professor banged a cheerleader, but because the act itself is a moment of pure feeling. It has the opportunity to connect a reader to your character in ways that many other pieces won't ever share. If you don't believe me step into the mind of Phedre in Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. I was not into pain AT ALL before I "met" Phedre, and when it came to bondage I didn't mind an occassional blind fold, but the idea of having my body completely submitting to another's will...nope. Until I read Kushiel's Dart and saw through her eyes. The world Phedre lived in was so real, so vivid, the sensations she experienced and Ms. Carey wrote about so deliciously connecting that BDSM has moved up my pleasure list.
And it would have been lacking without the research.
Sales Discouragement = Excuses
I went on Barnes and Noble forums the other day and was reading a post about sales.
One "gentleman" was freaking out because he'd only made 5 sales that month. He was talking about removing his many titles from B&N because he wasn't making any sells.
Someone had made a comment that if he removed it he wouldn't make any money, and it really started a snowball effect. Since there isn't any cost in having them posted the idea of simply "leaving them to be discovered" is a good one.
I read a post on One Handed Writers that brought up that each book is an investment. You invest time and creativity. I truly agree with that.
Someone else posted that he should remove them to let the rest of us have a better chance, but that is the surest way to never make any money off them.
I have a lot of "hobby" writer friends, and when they ask me how I'm making it I am happy to give them all my feedback, notes on how I am doing it, how much I am expect and hoping for, etc. But they continually say things like "Oh, well, I guess I don't really have the time." or "I don't think I want to hire an editor" or "I need my muse to help me" or "well maybe I will look into it after my big project is finished" or "I don't know how to make a cover". In the end they have given me excuse after excuse and you know what? I'm not breaking any arms. I am only telling them how I did it when they ask! But they aren't willing to put in the investment, they only want to reap the rewards.
I think the idea of success and failure is holding a lot of them back, the dream is only a dream until you start making it a goal.
One of my friends said "what if I only make a few sales?" I said "How many is it making in your closet?" She laughed, but I hope she got my point.
Sales discouragement comes with many faces. The "I haven't made much I'm pulling them." The "I made double last month why can't I get any sales this month?" The "Its been so many months and I'm barely bringing in $500, but others are saying they're bringing in $3,000, what am I doing wrong?" But in the end its just excuses, and fears.
Watch out for this monster in your own life, if you are a writer beware comparing your sales to someone else's. Beware of letting "well sales are down this month" become "I should stop wasting my time writing."
Remember to look at the big picture, each book can have a lifetime online. It can sell forever. My "worst seller" - one that had never made a sell before in fact - has been bought four times this month. True, four times doesn't even compare to my best sellers, but four times is giving me money in my pocket, and it could very easily turn into more sales. It will be up there for the rest of my life (or as long as eBooks last!) and longer.
Some Pixel Dust
Dear Friends, I must apologize for the rearranging of the blog, the additional pages and removal / merging of others. I realize its not fun to learn a website and then have it go all "changie" on you - but I believe the changes are for the best, frankly I was getting so many books that I got lost on my own all lesa's works section. So I have divided it into subcategories: babysitter, cheerleader, menage, and paranormal/fantasy, you can find them all to the left.
I have also merged the about lesa and the contact lesa page, so if you'd like to email me you may find it there.
There are also a few new reviews on the what lesa likes page. So take a wander over there too. I may be adding a few things over the next few days, so please bear with me I'll try to make the changes as smooth as possible.
***The content on this page contains sexually explicit content
- not intended for people
Thoughts that tickle her fancy!