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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

The Irresistible You: Pitches and Bios

 

Shameless Self-Promotion

All fiction writers (and most memoirists and journalists) sell fantasies, perhaps none more than erotica writers.  Yet, as I stumbled along on my own book promotion journey, I realized how many fantasies I’ve been sold about what it means to be a published author as well.  There’s the Oprah fantasy I mentioned last month and plenty of others, one of which I may be perpetuating through this very column.  By which I mean the idea that book promotion is indeed some kind of journey along a ribbon of road from The Shire to Mordor and hopefully back again, a trip with more-or-less fixed obstacles you can map out for a fellow traveler.

The truth is, this “journey” I keep referring to felt more like falling into a swamp and floundering around in the muck for as many months as I’ve been promoting my novel.  Occasionally I find some treasure, but most of the time I’m spitting out mud and picking marsh grass from my hair.  Only as I began putting together this column did anything I’ve done fall into place in an organized way.  What I write reflects more the way I wished I’d done it rather than any description of my actual path.  However, since my intent is to share what I’ve experienced in the hope that it will help other newbies, I suppose a little bit of aesthetic shaping is not out of order.  I just wanted to give you fair warning that the reality is going to be messier.

While I’m on the topic of doing what I say and not what I do, I’d like to suggest the value of organization and record-keeping in the book promotion process.  The earlier you start on this, the better.  Even as you begin researching agents or publishers, it’s a good idea to keep records of names, useful websites and other information from talking with other writers that will be a good reference for later.  Once your book is available and promotion begins in earnest, you’ll need to record all sorts of activities such as expenses and direct sales for your taxes, travel expenses, expenditures on swag, any fees to professionals who help you with websites, book trailers or other services, reminders of when you sent off a book for review or left a book with a bookstore and how many times you’ve already called the store to remind them and have been told to call again.

Admittedly, my book promotion folder on my computer has about 350 files, but I have arranged some of it into categories for interviews, reviews, bookstores, press kits and so forth, which makes things easier to find.  My to-do list, which I update and print out periodically and keep by the computer, is also arranged by category:  Personal, Bookstores, Radio, Blog Tour, Book Trailer, Reviews, Long Term and New Writing. 

Last year my taxes were much more complicated with my book promotion expenditures and again I kept those in relevant categories:  Purchases/Costs of Goods (my expenditures on my own books to sell or give as review copies), Office Expenses (including writing reference books), Office Supplies, Travel, Meals and Entertainment, Advertising, Professional Fees (for website help or consultations with publicists), Miscellaneous (postage, bank fees, Paypal fees).  Whatever helps you keep track of your activities will do, but you will have many different irons in the fire and it’s easy to lose track.  Well-organized recordkeeping will free up more time for actual promotion.

Now that we all have our filing system ready, it’s time to start filling the folders with the good stuff.  This month I wanted to focus on the most basic tools I’ve used for my promotion campaign. 

The first is the endlessly useful quick description of your book that will sell it to readers in one sentence.  You’ll be approaching all kinds of people and publications to get your book noticed and you’ll have limited time to make your case.  You want something short and honest, but tantalizing. It’s basically a pitch, the same sort of pitch you may have used to sell your novel to an agent or publisher, although it’s a good idea to give those sexy words a makeover for the general marketplace.

You’ll be using this description in query letters for reviewers, bookstores, radio interviews, guest blog appearances, as well as to people you meet everywhere.  I also recommend having a library of several pitches for different situations.  In my files I have the one-paragraph blurb for erotica markets and another slightly revised one for literary markets, as well as the two-sentence cover letter version, which also doubles as the face-to-face pitch.  It’s always changing slightly depending on my audience and my mood, but the basic information is the same.  (See the ERWA blog for samples of my pitches.)

The value of this tool was brought home to me when I went to the West Hollywood Book Fair last September and was confronted with the daunting task of selling my book to browsers who wandered over to our “California Erotica Writers” booth.  For the first few encounters I just stood there smiling nervously while the potential buyer glanced at my book, then walked away.  Fortunately, my desire to get some reward from my travel investment trumped shyness and when my next victim approached, I started rattling off my prepared elevator pitch.  This time the browser raised her eyebrows and I could see the thought forming in her mind:  This book sounds interesting.

That’s your goal with your pitch—but why not be insatiable and take it one step further to irresistible?

Now, I know very well it’s difficult enough for an author to condense a long work she’s slaved over into a two-page synopsis, not to mention a one-paragraph overview or a fifteen-second teaser.  After all, you’ve spent months or years elaborating a complex story.  But overcome that resistance.  Nothing screams amateur more than a writer who says “well, my novel is really complicated and I can’t describe it in just a few words.”  Professionals take that hurdle and when you have a book to promote you are officially a professional.  Even if Oprah hasn’t called yet.Amorous Woman

It took me a while to craft and polish my lines, but with help of fellow writers, friends, and the browsers at the book fair, I finally settled on this: “Amorous Woman is about an American woman’s (steamy) love affair with Japan.”  If I have a little more time I mention that the novel was inspired by a 17th century Japanese erotic classic.  With another few seconds I add that my novel is like a trip to Japan few tourists ever see for $8.  These three little tidbits regularly raise eyebrows in a gratifying way.

My aim in this column is to focus on book promotion activities that don’t cost a lot of money, but I’ll admit I also consulted a few how-to books.   Promoters on a budget will find many at your local library, but I wanted to mention one that helped me see the issue in a new way called Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read by Michael Hague.  Hague also gives workshops, so he’s definitely part of the machine that profits from the dreams of us writers, so I’m not necessarily telling you to spend your limited funds here.  However, because his book is meant mainly for screenplay writers hoping to catch the ear of a Hollywood producer, the extra distance from my own writing helped me focus on the universal wisdom he also provides.  Plus I got to feel relieved that at least I didn’t have to deal with the movie business!

But here’s the good news. You can do plenty of research for free by browsing other writers’ websites or even Amazon to see how books are “sold” in a sentence or two.  And you can do just as well honing your own sales pitch by asking for feedback from your beta readers—spouses, friends, writing group buddies.  Invite them over for freshly baked cookies and ask them if they’ll tell you in just a few sentences what your book is about and what in particular they liked and what makes it special.  Write down what they say.  Then hand them another cookie and ask them to post these exact sentences in an Amazon review.  Meanwhile, as they munch happily, you use their suggestions to help get ever closer to an “irresistible” pitch.   Write up a few possibilities and get their feedback.  I’ve found it’s usually easier to present two or three choices and allow someone to pick the appealing elements from each.

While you’re reducing complex literary creations to sound bites, you’ll also need to do the same thing to yourself as an author.  I’ve heard marketing professionals refer to this as “branding” yourself, and this will also appear in cover letters, press kits, and even e-mail signatures.

What do you offer?  What makes you special?  The author brings a unique sensibility to her work and the reader will be sharing in your imaginary world for several hundred pages of his time.  Why is it worth it for him to give up their time to you? What do readers think of when they think of you?  These are the questions your author pitch should answer.

Again you’ll come up with a one-sentence and short one-paragraph descriptions that summarize your special qualifications for writing the book, your best previous publications and another pertinent detail or two that makes you sound fascinating.  This could be the bio you’ve used for previous publications, but you’ll definitely want to tweak it with the goal of book sales in mind.  Because my book is set in Japan, I always emphasize my background in Japanese literature and the fact I lived in the country for several years.  I also mention a selection of my previous publications, although I have two lists, one that emphasizes the literary publications and the other that focuses on erotica.  In some cases I add that I’m a cookie-baking soccer mom and/or former college professor to introduce the intriguing contradiction of normal respectability with writing dirty stories.  My very quick self-description?  “Smart is sexy.”  Again you want those eyebrows to shoot up with curiosity.

Yes, for most of us, it’s hard to make yourself sound irresistible.  So bake some more cookies or open a nice bottle of Scotch and brainstorm with your fellow writers and readers.  It’ll be fun to hear all the praise (don’t invite any “friends” who show their love with insults, playful or not).  At the very least, the fact you are a brand-new, smoking hot novelist carries a lot of weight.  Everyone’s interested in the new kid on the block.

When you’ve polished up your sales pitches to a shiny gloss, go ahead and help yourself to a cookie.

Next month I’ll talk about two more basic tools of book promotion:  targeting your potential audience and reworking your website or blog-site for promotion purposes.  Until then, here are two more Shameless Self-Promotion Points to help guide you towards your special Shameless Self-Promotion Badge.

Happy Promoting!


Shameless Self-Promotion Points for March

ONE: Choose your favorite ways to organize information and keep track of your efforts—paper files or a binder, computer files, to-do lists in your weekly calendar, whatever combination of record-keeping works. 

TWO: Start developing a fifteen-second, sixty-second and one-paragraph pitch for your book and for yourself.  Like any good piece of fiction, they will both probably go through a few drafts, but practice makes perfect.

Donna George Storey
March 2009


If you have any follow up 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
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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