Monthly Archives: June 2009
I continue my series of author interviews for my “Shameless Self-Promotion” column with a kitchen table chat in the charming company of Jeremy Edwards, one of the most prolific and talented erotica authors working today. Jeremy is a frequent contributor to print venues such as Scarlet Magazine, Forum UK, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and anthologies by Cleis and Xcite, as well as numerous webzines like Clean Sheets, The Erotic Woman, and Oysters and Chocolate. His first novel, Rock My Socks Off, will be released by Xcite Books in January 2010.
As readers of my column well know, selling a novel requires a lot of self-promotion, but Jeremy already has an impressive track record of introducing his work and his “brand” of witty, smart erotic fiction to the world in creative, unexpected ways. One of Jeremy’s main tools for promotion is the Internet, the topic of this month’s column, and so he’s graciously agreed to share some of his experiences with his fellow authors. Jeremy’s example is proof positive that every writer can benefit from early self-promotion.
Shameless Self-Promotion: What have you found to be the most effective ways to promote your writing?
Jeremy Edwards: It’s sometimes hard to measure these things, of course; but one promotional opportunity I had that seemed to be particularly effective was an interview (with story excerpt) at a website whose flagship merchandise consists of sex toys. Though they also sell books–and that was the raison d’etre for their featuring an anthology I’m part of–I would speculate that their audience may include a lot of people who don’t spend as much time exploring and researching the world of erotic literature as some of us do, but who *are* interested in it when it’s presented to them. In other words, I’m thinking that doing promo in a context where you can be exposed to a number of people who haven’t already heard of you, but who are likely to dig what you do, may be especially rewarding.
My other answer, I guess, is just to do as much online promotion (the area I’m primarily familiar with, thus far) as is reasonably possible and reasonably relevant. Even in the close-knit world of
erotica-author blogland, it seems that everywhere one goes, one encounters fans and colleagues of one’s colleagues whom one hasn’t previously had the chance to perform for, despite the mere two degrees of separation. And these are just the vocal people–think of all the lurkers out there, too! Everyone with a blog or a podcast has his or her own loyal followers, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to reach at least a partially new audience wherever you go. And if you’re invited back after some time has elapsed, well why not go back? There are sure to be people who missed you the first time who catch you the next time.
Mind you, with all this talk of reaching a new audience, I’m not in any way discounting the “old audience”! On the contrary: how wonderful–and fun!–it always is when friends and colleagues show up to lend support. And, hey, even established friends and fans can sometimes use a reminder that a new book is available–and an online promotional appearance is the perfect reminder.
SSP: What have been the most enjoyable ways to promote your work?
I love all of it–basically, I’m the stage-struck type, whether it’s the relatively literal stage of a live reading or the more metaphorical platform of a radio interview or blog appearance. One of my favorite formats is the combination interview/reading/conversation with a radio host: it’s fun to go back and forth from the structured Q&A to the casual discussion to the rehearsed on-air story readings. It’s a nice blend of the prepared and the spontaneous, discourse and banter, anticipated topics and surprises.
SSP: What has been the most surprising thing about the experience of book promotion?
It’s been a delightful surprise to see how many scintillating, generous people there are out there
who are eager to use their time and bandwidth to feature erotica writers on their online turf. This has struck me even as a short-story author, i.e., someone without a book that’s “all mine” to promote (though stay tuned on that one!).
SSP: Did it change your view of your writing and the writing process?
This answer doesn’t exactly correspond to the question you asked… but the support and enthusiasm of all the people who give us time in their spotlights is one of the things that motivates me to KEEP WRITING. Because, you know, there are people who care!
SSP: How about sharing your thoughts on a few specific strategies. How about blogging?
I think that regular blogging can be immeasurably helpful to a writer’s public presence. Whether it’s in-depth essays, day-to-day life-of-the-writer reports, bulletins and book covers, random musings, recommendations, links, interviews, contests, or anything else… just putting in an appearance once a week or more, in my opinion, really gives your readers a sense of your personality; keeps them from losing track of what you’re publishing; and makes them–quite rightly–look upon you as an online friend and not only as a “body of work.”
SSP: Mailing lists/author newsletters?
It’s so easy to maintain an e-mail mailing list–especially if you draw on content you’ve already assembled for your blog. My feeling is that if there are people out there who care enough about what I’m doing to ask me to mail them updates, and who prefer to have this info sent directly to them rather than (or in addition to) visiting my blog… then I’m sure as heck going to accommodate them!
SSP: Radio interviews?
If you’re not prohibitively shy, and if scheduling and time-zone issues aren’t an obstacle, then I strongly encourage you to take advantage of offers to appear on radio shows/podcasts. There’s nothing like hearing an author’s work read in her/his own voice, and a friendly audio interview adds a nice new dimension to a reader’s image of a favorite writer.
SSP: Any other strategies you’d like to suggest?
I think creativity is a big plus in online promotional strategies, especially where it directly involves the readers. I do love conventional interviews and guest-blog essays, both as a featured writer and an interested reader … but if your host is open to something “different,” consider turning your appearance into something more novel–a game, a quiz, a character-playing session, or whatever your inventive writer’s mind can concoct. These devices (or, okay, gimmicks) can even be combined with something more sedate like an interview, so you can really have it both ways.
SSP: Thank you so much, Jeremy, for sharing your inspiring ideas with us!
This month my column on shameless self-promotion deals with strategies for getting your book reviewed. Here are two samples of cover letters I’ve used to query reviewers both by email and snail mail. The first is aimed at more mainstream/literary review sites, the second at an erotica site.
Here’s the literary version:
Dear [Book Review Editor],
I would like to inquire if you’d be interested in reviewing my novel, Amorous Woman (Neon/Orion 2008) for the [insert name here] website.
Amorous Woman is the story of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and the insights she gains into the culture in her roles as English teacher, wife, and bar hostess. Inspired by Ihara Saikaku’s 17th century Japanese classic, The Life of an Amorous Woman, the novel incorporates my doctoral research in Japanese literature at Stanford University to give a nuanced view of Japanese culture and sexual mores. Although classified as “erotica,” Amorous Woman is a thoughtful and thought-provoking treatment of inter-cultural relations that transcends the genre.
I’m appending (or enclosing) a sell sheet, bio and sample reviews below. Please let me know if you are interested in reviewing the book. I can send a hard copy of the book for review or a pdf as you prefer.
Here’s a version I sent to erotica publications:
I’m writing to inquire if you’d be interested in reviewing my erotic novel, Amorous Woman, which was published by Neon/Orion in the UK in late 2007 and released in the US in 2008.
Amorous Woman is the story of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and her steamy encounters with the sexy men and women she meets along the way. 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. Inspired by Ihara Saikaku’s classic 17th-century erotic novel of the pleasure quarters, Amorous Woman takes you on a journey to a Japan few tourists ever see.
I’ve included a brief bio and some excerpts from reviews for the UK release below.
Please let me know if you’d like me to send you an advance review copy of the novel in hard copy or pdf, as you prefer.
With best wishes,
Donna George Storey
[electronic signature with link to my website and book trailer]
For snail mail, I include my sell sheet and synopsis-and-bio page. For email, I include this information as well as the appropriate blurb and bio from the sell sheet (literary or erotic depending on the site).
By Donna George Storey
Category: Literary Erotica
Book Type: Paper
Size: 4 1/2 x 7
U.S. Release Date: May 28, 2008
If you’re like most authors, only a portion of the review sites will request a review copy. Of those, not all will actually follow through on the review. It’s all part of the business. And always be sure to write a thank you note to any thoughtful reviewer. Not only will your mother be proud of your good manners, but you may have another book to send around soon.
Good luck with your reviews!