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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing


Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun


Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Ideas
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry


2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Myths
Graduation


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Jail-Baiting
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Retro-Shame
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido


Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Shameless Self-Promotion

by Donna George Storey

Bigger is Better:
Bookstores from Indies to Amazon

 

Shameless Self-Promotion

I didn’t used to be a size queen.  For me the meat didn’t matter—smaller was actually preferable since it usually came along with a charm and sensitivity the big brutes didn’t bother to cultivate.  Indeed I used to have a beautiful relationship with smaller guys, but alas, I must blame the path of shameless self-promotion for the death of a great romance.  Because of course, I’m not talking about men, but rather the tragic Casablanca-like grande affaire between me and the independent bookstore.  Back in my Parisian days, small bookstores were my favorite places to browse and buy.  Independent bookstores offered more character than the chains, a sensibility that was evident in the choice of books as well as the décor, which often felt like browsing in a lovingly collected personal library.

Now, with a few important exceptions, I can’t enter such stores without a shudder of post-traumatic stress.  And when two neighborhood bookstores, institutions with venerable histories, finally closed their doors forever due to the hard economic times, I only smiled grimly.  Yes, they’d broken and battered me, but I was the one left standing.

All this is to say that unfortunately, one nasty surprise shameless self-promoters will discover is that most small bookstores don’t love small writers.  If you’ve got a self-published or POD book to sell, you will be especially vulnerable to the freeze treatment.  I’ll never forget the afternoon I entered a prissy, purportedly woman-friendly bookstore in my town to be obsequiously greeted by the saleswoman walking the floor.  She seemed ready to lay down her life to satisfy my every desire.  But, when I told her I was a local author who’d come to talk about the possibility of the store carrying my book, her lips withered into steely frown.  At the news I was talking erotica, albeit a fascinating, groundbreaking book based on a Japanese classic available through Ingram and the Independent Publishers Group, an Arctic wind began to howl through the shelves.  The saleslady then informed me haughtily that the book buyer was currently in conference with a Penguin sales rep—you know, someone selling real books—and I could most certainly not leave a review copy with a press kit unless I had a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for its return.

Some booksellers seemed warmer as I made my appointed rounds, but a distressing number “lost” my review copy (I suspect employees saw a dirty book, decided to take it home for a one-handed read, and stained it too badly to return it).  Many more buyers needed repeated reminders by phone, which resulted in their stocking one copy in the dustiest, most cob-web-covered corner of the establishment.  Sex toy stores proved even harder to crack, although you’d think they’d see us fellow lust-peddlers as compatriots. I understand that smaller stores do have to consider the bottom line and erotic novels probably don’t fly off the shelves, especially if they aren’t positioned to reach reader eyeballs.  Or maybe the hostility is a reaction to countless local authors who come begging.  Whatever the reason, once I was selling instead of buying, I sank from queen to beggar in record time.

Of course, a few sainted small bookstore owners were genuinely welcoming.  They listened to my spiel politely, did a computer search for my book and immediately ordered a few copies for the store.  I will love these people forever and make a point to give them my well-deserved local book dollar. 

Yet was it worth it to pound the pavement for a cold shoulder 75% of the time?  My answer depends on whether I’m in a fighting mood.  I would say that if you’ve already cultivated a relationship with a store and they know you well, definitely give it your best try.  If you don’t have a major distributor, you can offer to sell your book on consignment.  If the book sells, the store gets 40% of the cover price and you take home 60%, although the burden is usually on you to check back.  And whether you are promoting a book now or hope to do so in the future, scope out local bookstores that are cool enough to carry erotica and host edgier readings.  These are the places you should approach first.  Finally, I’ve had the most success with small stores when I show up in person, although a sex-friendly store in another city might be worth an email query with a brief synopsis and jpg of your cover.

Surprisingly enough, behemoth Barnes and Noble was exceedingly accommodating.  All I had to do was call all the stores in the area, identify myself as a local author and every story ordered two copies on the spot.  Of course, due to their shelving policies, Amorous Woman was always placed spine-out in the “S” section of fiction which virtually eliminated any casual interest it might draw in the erotica section.  But after a lifetime of lauding the little guy, this polite treatment gave me an appreciation for the generosity of the bigger bookseller.

Which brings us to Amazon, the biggest bookstore on the block.  Yes, the place has its problems.  It donates to red politicians (remember when conservatives would have been horrified to be associated with that color?) and is no doubt responsible for the deaths of many a “good” independent bookseller.  But Amazon is a friend-in-need to the shameless self-promoter—in particular self-published and POD authors because all you must have to get shelf space is an ISBN number.  And while you may want to continue to support your local merchant, you can gain a lot by using the resources Amazon provides to writers with little backing from their publishers.

I wanted to mention two books that I used to educate myself about Amazon, although many of these suggestions will be familiar to any regular Amazon customer.  Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t is a decent general reference, although it is a bit dated and perhaps optimistic about opportunities.  Steve Weber’s self-published Plug Your Book: Online Book Marketing for Authors was also instructive for me when I started out on this journey, as it deals with not only Amazon, but web sites, blogs and blog tours.  Now, being the most frugal of the frugal book promoters, I’m not saying you should rush out and buy either.  Too many people out there are far too interested in preying on the befuddled promoter who might believe spending money makes you money.  But these books did help me get myself organized and are reasonably priced.  They certainly cost less than the book marketing seminars I see advertised online, so I want to give credit to them.

Perhaps the most important use of Amazon is the page that lists your book, which is generally recognized as a place to gather reviews (see my column on reviews).  Many blog reviewers will repost at Amazon if you ask nicely and of course friends and colleagues are prime supporters.  If someone reads and praises your book, don’t hesitate to ask—politely—for a brief review.  Another way to garner more reviews is to approach Top Reviewers with an offer of a complimentary copy.  You can sometimes get in touch if you see a positive review for a book on a related topic.  I posted a query on Amazon’s Top Reviewer’s discussion board and got two responses from regular reviewers, both of whom went on to give me favorable reviews.  My numbers did move a bit after both were posted, although you can never be sure there’s a direct link, but the review will remain on their pages as well as mine for future browsers.

Speaking of Amazon numbers, if you’re not yet published, enjoy this time when you can chuckle at the silly fools who constantly monitor their sales rankings.  Yes, we’re ridiculous, but the trouble is, like lab rats we do get occasional, apparently arbitrary dips that hearten us.  When the number creep toward seven digits, it’s not quite as much fun, but it always gives us something to do when we’re bored.  My advice?  Avoid the habit if you can—and do let me know how you manage to pull that off because I’ve rarely managed a week without a peek or two!

When my novel was first published, Amazon had an Amazon Connect program, which involved registering your book, then getting verification from your publisher.  At that point your blog posts would automatically appear on your book page, providing potential buyers with more information about you.  Now things are different.  You still have to register, but your book page has a link to an author page, which the buyer can click on if interested, and your latest blog appears there.  I’d guess the extra step means far less exposure from this feature, but it’s probably worth signing up anyway.

Other ways to use Amazon may seem obvious to you, but they weren’t to me.  Every author should develop at least one Listmania for your own books and anthologies.  Catchy titles will get more views.  Mine—“Smart is Sexy: Erotica with a Ph.D.”—has over 3800 views, so sex definitely sells in that instance.  Both of my reference books tell me that “So You’d Like To” pages are even more popular but require more preparation as well.  Basically this feature requires an informative essay along with book recommendations.  I’m planning to do one about Japan’s floating world, sex clubs and love hotels, casually slipping in my novel as an aside.  You don’t want to make this all about your novel, but rather an educational experience for interested readers.

You can participate in the Amazon community in other ways that support your project indirectly.  First you want to apply to have your book listed in a specific category—unless your publisher has done so.  I applied for “Japan” for example.  Make sure you’re a member of Amazon Associates, a program that gives you a small cut of any sale that you refer to Amazon from a blog link.  You probably won’t make much money as a single author, but occasionally you’ll score enough to get a modest gift certificate.

While getting Amazon reviews for your own book is desirable, reviewing the books of other authors you admire can benefit you in two ways.  If you write eye-catching, sexy reviews, potential buyers might come looking for more about you and discover your sexy book.  Also, the more “helpful” votes your reviews receive, the higher you climb in reviewer ranking.  This won’t make a huge difference in book sales, but it’s a painless way to improve your profile.

Speaking of helpful votes, as part of a good neighbor policy, make it a habit to rate helpful reviews accordingly.  All it takes is a simple click “yes” and you’ve rewarded a thoughtful reader who’s taken her time to support authors.  Unless of course it’s a mean, stupid review, then you have my permission to click “no”!  While you’re voting, you also want to add tags to your friends’ and colleagues’ book pages.  The greater the number of tag “votes,” the higher the book will appear in searches.

In spite of the drawbacks of Amazon, it provides a valuable service to authors who can list their book indefinitely rather than rely on the old-fashioned system of a single window of six weeks during which a book either made it or died and was remaindered.  Amazon allows us to promote our books indefinitely, so for that alone, I have to give the big guy a great big thank you.

Next month I’ll discuss the thrills and chills of radio interviews and how to determine when it’s time to ramp down the promotion of one book and focus on new writing.  Until then, happy promoting!

Shameless Self-Promotion Points for November

One:  Explore the options for selling your book in local bookstores from Barnes and Noble to your favorite erotica-friendly indie store.  Be prepared to suffer public humiliation, but remember, it makes a bitchin’ story!

Two:  Analyze Amazon for the ways its features for authors can help you promote your book and your “brand.”  Incorporate community-building generosity into your casual online browsing by giving reviewers positive votes and adding tags to other authors’ books.  In the shameless self-promoting game, when you do a favor for a friend, they’re much more likely to return it!

Donna George Storey
November 2009


If you have comments, questions, or stories to share about shameless self-promotion, please drop by Donna's blog or send an email to: donna@donnageorgestorey.com

Read more of Donna George Storey's Shameless Self-Promotion in ERWA 2009 Archive.

______
"Shameless Self-Promotion" © 2009 Donna George Storey. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written.

About the Author:  Donna George Storey taught English in Japan and Japanese in the United States and has finally found the work of her dreams writing erotica. If you're really nice, she'll bake you a batch of her Venetian cookies, with layers of marzipan, jam and chocolate, that take a ridiculous amount of time to make and are (almost) better than sex. Her work has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies including Clean Sheets, Fishnet, Best American Erotica, Best Women's Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.
Her first novel, Amorous Woman-a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman's love affair with Japan, Japanese food and lots of sexy men and women along the way-was published by Neon/Orion. It's currently available at Amazon and Amazon UK, and from her web site, DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.
For more of her musings on sensual pleasure and creativity stop by her blog:  Sex, Food and Writing. You can also take a quick trip to Japan with Donna's provocative Amorous Woman book trailer at: www.youtube.com



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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Faithless
Review by Spooky

Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
Review by Spooky


'09 Book Reviews

Anthologies

A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Frenzy
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Novels

A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Broken
Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Exposure
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Faewolf
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Shuck
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Transgressions
Review by Vincent Diamond

Non-Fiction

Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister