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'08 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations

by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft

Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons

2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Iím Easy, But Iím No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel

Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics

On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank

Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

e-Lectronically Speaking
by Brenna Lyons

Marketing Without Breaking the Bank

Brenna LyonsThough it might seem that starting out with marketing is a strange move, it has been a hot topic of late, so I thought I'd strike while the iron was hot.

What's the buzz on marketing? Marketing plans... What should go in them? How can an author market without breaking the bank?

Contrary to popular belief, marketing plans do not have to involve a lot of money. They just have to involve a commitment on the part of the author (and the publisher) to drum up interest in the book. That commitment can come just as easily in the form of free or low-cost marketing as it can in the form of high-price items like conventions.

Of course, you can and should name the conventions you regularly attend. If you don't attend any, you could search out affordable, local conventions and choose one to attend. But, not attending conventions is not the death of your career. Not every author can attend conventions, but they can still thrive.

I'd like to start with a polling, just to make a point: This polling asked readers what had prompted them, even in part, to purchase a book.

The responses that did the worst? Contests run on author sites, postcards received in the mail for books, promo e-mails sent by authors, toys and other goody gimmicks. Notice that the high-priced items don't do well. These are the things people tell you to do, in order to gain attention. The toys and goodies may stick around for a while, reminding the readers about the book and you, but they aren't selling books, according to readers. I'd counter that they help add to the dozen exposures you need to get a sale, but it's a costly way to get there. The truth is, these sorts of promos serve a purpose but obviously should not be the mainstay of your promotional/marketing attempts.

What ones did the best? Name recognition and recommendations from persons the readers trust. Okay...those things are largely out of the author's hands, though all marketing helps, in some respects.

Let's focus on the ones that ranged more than a 50% return. Author blog or web site, mention of the book on other authors' blogs and web sites, reading the first chapter online or in print, cover art, representative blurbs, reviews and author appearances (signings, readings and conventions). Aside from attending a convention, these are all marketing the author can do for a little elbow grease and little or no money.

In considering the list of marketing ideas that won't break the bank, remember that no one has to do it all. If you have time for half a dozen of the following ideas, do that many. But, remember that marketing is cumulative. The more chances you give people to stumble over you, the better your chances of making it to the dozen impressions and a sale. And, once readers are familiar with you (you've reached name recognition and prior experience with reading your work), it will take less impressions to get them to buy again, assuming they liked what they read the first time.

The primary priority in marketing is an author web page. Though many authors are replacing the web page entirely with MySpace, a large number of readers (and agents/editors) still expect to find an author web site, preferably a domain of the author's name/pen name.

That doesn't mean it has to be expensive. You don't have to pay a hosting site to do this. For $10-$15 per year, an author can purchase the domain name and redirect it to a secondary site, with frames.

What does that mumbo-jumbo mean? It means that you set your site up at a free server (like Yahoo) or, better yet, at the free web space your ISP (internet service provider) gives you and place an automatic redirect at your domain name that will show the page stored on your free space, but the navigation bar on the reader's browser will still be showing your domain name.

Simply put, readers want to know you. The website (indeed, most of your marketing) should sell you, the author, as a brand first...then the individual books. The web site should reflect you, should be updated often, be easy to navigate and should be interactive for readers. Give them a reason to come back and see what's new. Give them a way to interact with you and/or your characters.

Moreover, the web site (and several other of these marketing ideas) should be in place before you even start querying your work. Why? Because it shows you're being proactive. It makes a good impression and gives the editor/agent a feel for you.
Whether you choose to maintain a web site or not, you should consider joining some of the online communities, like MySpace, Ning and Facebook. Author Charlotte Boyett-Compo shares that, since her "friends" at MySpace topped 2100, sales of her books have tripled. Similarly, author Jolie duPre has placed MySpace at the top five spots on her list of Top Ten Things Every Author Should Do To Succeed. It allows readers of your genres to find you and you to find them, especially if you write M/M or F/F. It allows you to network with authors in similar genres and to form online communities for those genres.

Take the time to set up your MySpace completely. Don't leave the MySpace default settings in place. There are simple MySpace generators that help you personalize your page. My personal favorite is at  You can match your MySpace to your home page or to your book designs, by using the same program you used to build your web page or a photo editor like Paint or PhotoShop to identify the RBG color mapping of the colors you wish to use.

Other online communities you might want to consider are Yahoo groups. Find groups of writers or readers in your genre, with enough members and posts per month to make your presence worthwhile. Find groups for interests you hold and/or you use in your books. Don't hard sell your books on them. As always, be you. Use a catchy tag line on all posts and let the readers seek you out.

In addition, you might want to consider a blog on Blogger, Live Journal or one of the other popular sites, though MySpace, Ning and others include a blog feature.

Thus starts one of the great debates. What should you blog about? What do you have to say? If you're an expert on something, especially if your book/s include it, you might want to have a blog on the subject, in general. Though your bio might include information about your books, and you might refer to things you've written in them, this is a professional blog and should not focus on your writing.

In addition to that, you'll want to have an author blog. An author blog would rightly vary in content from promo posts to posts about the writing process, about you and your life (though remember that the readers are not your confidants) and even into interviews (of your characters, of industry professionals and even of other authors), reviews and opinion pieces. Always remember that your blog is a public document. You won't want to make enemies of prospective editors and agents, current or prospective publishers, etc. on it.

Remember that having blogs in several places (like MySpace, Ning and Blogger) will not necessarily add much to your marketing workload. You can use the same or similar posts on all of your blogs, though some posts are better suited to one audience than another. For instance, on MySpace, you can restrict your reading audience to those with profiles that proclaim them more than 18 years old. In such a case, you might feel freer to say something you can't in an open community.

Any blog post that sets you up as a professional or expert should be properly fact-checked. Having a blog does not mean you know what you're talking about. If you blog and give faulty information, you're not doing yourself or anyone else a service by it.

Once you have print books on Amazon, you should consider Amazon Connect. What does this do for you? It allows you to post updates, notes to readers, reviews and blog posts directly to your book pages. That makes it possible for you to network the books you have selling at Amazon together and even include those not selling at Amazon. It also allows you to network with other authors and readers.

Always ask which review sites the publisher routinely sends to. You may be able to add to that, especially those that take e-book copies to review. Remember that reviews scored highly in the polling. But, having reviews isn't enough. You have to use them. Place them on your site, in your tag line, on yahoo groups and blogs, etc.
Some review sites offer author spotlights and author pages for a small fee. In the case of The Romance Studio (TRS), that cost is $2.50 per month. You have to weigh the exposure you're going to get against the cost to you, of course. But, sites like TRS are well worth the exposure for the price, in my opinion.

Some other ideas for marketing that won't break the bank...

  1. Online chat rooms
  2. Interviews on review sites and blogs
  3. Yahoo groups' author spotlights
  4. Banner ads or covers placed on review sites (Don't discount group banner ads on high-profile sites.)
  5. Group ads and/or reviews in major review magazines or industry magazines
  6. Banner ads for your books on your own site
  7. Cross-link with other authors, links and/or banner ads.
  8. Issue free or low-cost press releases online.
  9. Issue media releases to local media.
  10. Have a media page on your site.
  11. Have a news page on your site.
  12. Write articles for e-zines and print magazines, for the byline.
  13. Submit review copies to print magazines where you won't get a review but will get an announcement of release in their magazine (as you will with LOCUS).
  14. Write articles for magazines that connect to the content of your book (pagan magazines if your book has pagan characters and situations or dance magazines if your book is about ballroom dancing), for the byline.
  15. Offer free short stories or scenes removed from books in edits on your web site or as contests. Contests do serve the purpose of drawing readers back to your site. Having a site is not enough. You have to entice people there.
  16. Write strong, representative blurbs for your books and use them. Have a full range of blurbs ready, before you start querying. That would include a concept blurb, a log line (12-words), a 25-word, a 50-word, a 100-word, a 150-word and a 250-word book-back blurb.
  17. Have a comprehensive cover art sheet ready to submit to the cover artist for your book, especially in indie/e, where this is encouraged. Include pictures that resemble your characters and places you use in the book, full descriptions of your characters, including text taken from the book, colors the artist will want to use or avoid, etc. The more information the cover artist goes in with, the more likely that the cover will be representative of your book.
  18. Carry a copy of your own book around with you, especially at conventions.
  19. Wear t-shirts for your books, carry key chains for them, etc.
  20. Start a street team.
  21. Start a card cult.
  22. Place local author or award-winning/bestselling author stickers on your bank card, your library card, etc.
  23. Wear your convention badge (the small, black or blue ID carrier-style pouches) as a purse.
  24. Always carry extra promo gear (like pens and key chains). Everyone you give one to becomes a walking billboard for you, as well.
  25. Place window clings or bumper stickers for your books on your vehicle.
  26. Arrange a buddy chat to get cross-readership with established authors, helping you build your own readership.
  27. Form a promo pack team.
  28. Trade promo gear to maximize your convention presence, even when you can't attend many conventions.
  29. Donate something small to promo baskets being given at conventions.
  30. Get in on group promo CDs. In one case, I got 30 authors together and had 1000 CDs replicated, with a full-color label, for an investment of less than $30 per author.
  31. Enter reasonable but respected contests.

Obviously, some of these things will work better for one author than for another. For instance, authors in areas that are intolerant to erotic writing will not want to do things that out them publicly. As I said, choose a handful that work best for you, and happy marketing.

Coming next month: Submitting to an indie/e publisher... What is the same? What's different? What does that mean?

Brenna Lyons
January 2008

"Brenna Lyons' Electronically Speaking" © 2008 Brenna Lyons. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Brenna Lyons wears many hats: award-winning author of more than five dozen published works, senior editor of an indie/e publisher and board member of EPIC (The Electronically Published Internet Connection). You can learn more about her at

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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy