This month my column on shameless self-promotion for newbies focuses on creating pitches for your book and yourself with the aim of making both of you irresistible to readers. I mentioned that I have a variety of these teasers in my files to suit many different audiences, and I wanted to share a few samples that are too long to include in the column in the hope that it will be a helpful reference for other writers.
I’ll start with the paragraph I use on my sell sheet. This is the one-page piece of paper with all of the basic information about the book I send with my press kit or as a stand-alone. Here’s what I use for erotica markets:
Take an exotic, erotic journey to a Japan few tourists ever see….
Amorous Woman is the story of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and her sensual encounters with the sexy men and women she meets along the way. First-time novelist Donna George Storey, a widely published erotica writer who holds a Ph.D. in Japanese literature, challenges the boundaries of culture and genre in this modern remake of Ihara Saikaku’s classic 17th century novel of the pleasure quarters. Lusty, wise-cracking Lydia—the modern Amorous Woman–experiences every flavor of erotic pleasure Japan has to offer from illicit encounters in hot spring baths to fantasy orgies straight from manga porn. Described by critics as “rich with sensual detail, humor, and emotional complexity,” “hard to put down,” and “literary erotica at its best,” the novel will change your image of Japan—and erotica—forever.
For the literary targets, I replace the third sentence in the blurb with this:
“Perceptive, wise-cracking Lydia—the modern Amorous Woman—delves beneath the surface of Japanese society in her roles as English teacher, wife, bar hostess, and the mistress of a wealthy man.”
For my bio, I have this for the erotica markets:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna George Storey has taught English in Japan and Japanese at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley. She is a graduate of Princeton, has a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Stanford and has published over ninety stories in numerous journals and anthologies including Scarlet Magazine, Best American Erotica 2006 and the past five annual volumes of Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica and Best Women’s Erotica. Her work has been translated into Italian and received special mention in Pushcart Prize Stories 2004. She currently writes a column, “Cooking up a Storey,” for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association about her favorite topics— delicious sex, well-crafted food, and mind-blowing writing. Amorous Woman is her first novel. Read more at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.
For the literary queries, I add in Prairie Schooner, Gettysburg Review, Fourth Genre, Wine Spectator and “she is also the author of Child of Darkness: Yôko and Other Stories by Furui Yoshikichi, a translation with critical commentaries (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, 1997).”
Almost makes me sound respectable, doesn’t it?
Here are some samples of pitches I use in cover letters. The first for an erotically-inclined audience:
Amorous Woman is the semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan. The heroine’s steamy, yet thought-provoking adventures include romps in love hotels, hot springs trysts, working as a bar hostess and sometime prostitute and encounters with lesbian manga porn artists. Based on a 17th century Japanese erotic classic, the story combines the frank and witty treatment of female sexuality in “Sex and the City” with the elegant exoticism of Memoirs of a Geisha.
This is what I send to more mainstream venues:
Amorous Woman was published by Orion in the UK as part of their Neon line of literary erotica and was released in the US in May 2008. The novel was inspired by Ihara Saikaku’s 17th century Japanese erotic classic, The Life of an Amorous Woman. Intrigued by Saikaku’s picaresque, but emotionally complex tale, I decided to translate it into the modern story of an American woman’s experiences in Japan during its economic “bubble.”
Finally, I wanted to share a bio that was tweaked by professional publicist Lauren Cerand during an online workshop on Innovative Publicity Basics I took in the summer of 2008:
DONNA GEORGE STOREY (donnageorgestorey.com) used to spend her time doing things like graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and getting a Ph.D. from Stanford in Japanese literature. Now she writes award-winning erotic stories and has just published a steamy novel,
Amorous Woman, that will take you on a trip to a Japan few tourists ever see. Don’t miss her monthly musings on sex, food and writing at her blog, Cooking up a Storey.
To be honest, I don’t use this. It sounds too stuck-up to me, but it’s the way a professional pitches me, which is an interesting reference point. But maybe I should use it. What do you think?
Well, I think that’s more than enough of me–feel free to share your own pitches, observations or questions here. The feedback and support of other writers has been the shining bright spot in the promotion experience and I hope to do my small part to keep us connected. Happy promoting!