Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: “Hey There, Big Boy–“

by | March 9, 2012 | Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker | 2 comments

Oh, dear, I’ve done it again. 

You’d think would have learned my lesson – what with the
fallout over the whole Me2plagiarism” thing – but I guess not. 

Just in case you may have missed it, I have a new book out,
called Finger’s Breadth.  As the
book is a “sexy gay science fiction thriller” about queer men losing
bits of their digits – though, of course, there’s a lot more to the novel than

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to create another bout ofcrazy publicity by claiming that I would be lopping off one of my own fingersto get the word out about it

Naturally, this has caused a bit of a fuss – which got me to
thinking, and this thinking got me here: to a brand new Streetwalker about
publicity … and pushing the envelope.

The world of writing has completely, totally, changed – and
what’s worse it seems to keep changing, day-by-day if not hour-by-hour.  It seems like just this morning that
publishing a book was the hard part of the writing life, with publicity being a
necessary but secondary evil.  But
not any more: ebooks and the fall of the empire of publishing have flipped the
apple cart over: it’s now publishing is easy and publicity is the hard part …
the very
hard part.

What’s made it even worse is that everyone has a
solution:  you should be on Facebook,
you should be on Twitter, you should be on Goodreads, you should be on Red Room,
you should be on Google+, you should be doing blog tours, you should be …
well, you get the point.  The
problem with a lot of these so-called solutions is that they are far too often
like financial advice … and the old joke about financial advice is still
true: the only successful people are the ones telling you how to be successful.

That’s not to say that you should put your fingers in your
ears and hum real loudly: while you shouldn’t try everything in regards to
marketing doing absolutely nothing is a lot worse.

But, anyway, back to me.  One thing that’s popped up a lot lately has been people
telling me that I’ve crossed a tasteful line in my little publicity stunts –
that somehow what I’ve been doing does a disservice to me and my work.

Yeah, that smarts. 
But hearing that I also have a rather evil little grin on my face: for
what I’ve done is nothing compared to what other writers have done.

Courtesy of Tony Perrottet of The New York Times (“How
Writers Build the Brand
“), comes more than a few tales of authors who
have done whatever they could – and frequently more than that – to get the word
out about their product.  Case in
point are these gems: ” In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a
hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, ‘Le
Horla,’ painted on its side. In 1884, Maurice Barrès hired men to wear sandwich
boards promoting his literary review, Les
Taches d’Encre
. In 1932, Colette created her own line of cosmetics sold
through a Paris store.”

Ever hear of a fellow by the name of Hemingway?  Well, Ernest was no stranger to GETTING THE
WORD OUT.  A master of branding, he
worked long and hard not just to get noticed but become the character that
everyone thought he was – to the point where we have to wonder where the
fictional Ernest began and the real Hemingway ended.

Then there’s the tale of Grimod de la Reynière (1758-1837),
who turned the established idea of “wine and dine to success” by
staging a dinner in celebration of his Reflections
on Pleasure
– though the guests were locked in until the next morning and, while
they ate, Grimod lavished the assembled with anything less that praise.  Outrage ensued – to put it mildly – but
his book became a bestseller.

One of my personal favorites, though, is Georges Simenon –
and not just because he lived in a rather exotic arrangement with his wife and
claimed to have made love to over 10,000 women – but because he’d planned a
stunt to write a novel in 72 hours while in a hanging glass cage in the Moulin
Rouge – with the audience encouraged to choose the book’s characters, title,
and more.  While Georges sadly
didn’t carry out his plan that hasn’t stopped other writers from trying their
hands on the similar: Harlan Ellison, for instance, used to write in the front
window of the now-defunct Change of Hobbit Bookstore in Los Angeles. 

So should you lock yourself in a glass cage?  Lock in a party of critics?  Hire a hot air balloon?  Stick flyers on windshields?  Claim that another writer has stolen
your identity? 

Well, it’s up to you, but keep in mind what another author has
said – also known for his publicity: “There is only one thing in
life worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about.”

Oscar Wilde may
not have lived in the age of the Internet but he, like Hemingway, Grimod, Poe, Simenon,
Maupassant, and so many writers before or since, understood that it’s important
to stand out from the crowd. 

Certainly it’s risky, absolutely it can backfire, but at the
same time there is a very long tradition in authors having a total and complete
blast in getting the word out there about their work. 

Before I wrap this up, I want to say one final thing about
near-outrageousness and publicity. 
While I can’t speak for Hemingway, Grimod, and all the rest, I can
speak for myself: money would be nice, fame would be pleasant, but why I’ve
taken these risks and accepted the occasional backfires is because I’ve had a
blast writing these books and so I’ll do whatever it takes to get them out into
the world — and read

To quote Groucho
Marx: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a
dog it’s too dark to read.”

M. Christian

Calling M.Christian versatile is a tremendous understatement.
Extensively published in science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and even non-fiction, it is in erotica that M.Christian has become an acknowledged master, with stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and in fact too many anthologies, magazines, and sites to name. In erotica, M.Christian is known and respected not just for his passion on the page but also his staggering imagination and chameleonic ability to successfully and convincingly write for any and all orientations.

But M.Christian has other tricks up his literary sleeve: in addition to writing, he is a prolific and respected anthologist, having edited 25 anthologies to date including the Best S/M Erotica series; Pirate Booty; My Love For All That Is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica; The Burning Pen; The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowksi); Confessions, Garden of Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant), and many more.

M.Christian's short fiction has been collected into many bestselling books in a wide variety of genres, including the Lambda Award finalist Dirty Words and other queer collections like Filthy Boys, and BodyWork. He also has collections of non-fiction (Welcome to Weirdsville, Pornotopia, and How To Write And Sell Erotica); science fiction, fantasy and horror (Love Without Gun Control); and erotic
science fiction including Rude Mechanicals, Technorotica, Better Than The Real Thing, and the acclaimed Bachelor Machine.

As a novelist, M.Christian has shown his monumental versatility with books such as the queer vamp novels Running Dry and The Very Bloody Marys; the erotic romance Brushes; the science fiction erotic novel Painted Doll; and the rather controversial gay horror/thrillers Finger's Breadth and Me2.

M.Christian is also the Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, where he strives to be the publisher he'd want to have as a writer, and to help bring quality books (erotica, noir, science fiction, and more) and authors out into the world.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Hmm. And I thought all this promotional craziness was new! Fabulous post, Chris, and thought-provoking, too, underneath the levity.

    I will say for the record that FINGER'S BREADTH can stand on its own as a remarkable piece of fiction – without any gimmicks to prop it up.

  2. Jude Mason

    You know, Chris, when I first saw you going on about lopping of a digit, I wondered, first, how you'd write without it. Second, who'd win it as a prize. Morbid, but what the heck. A pickled bit of the 'literary streetwalker' to brag about. One could put it on the mantel and crow about it to the neighbors.

    Okay, it's been a long day.

    I really impressive post. Promotions have always been the very hardest part for me and one I doubt I'll ever be comfortable with. I bow to those who come up with original ideas, and keep all of their body parts intact.


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