On the surface it sounds like a … well, no duh. But it’s really quite remarkable how many writers – especially erotica writers – put huge amounts of work into their craft, yet neglect an essential part of the process of actually getting people to read their work.
They slave over characters, plot, setting, language; they set up sites, join Facebook and Twitter and Good Reads; they network and network and network; and, in the end, they may be very well known … but only by other erotica writers.
Believe me, my own glass house has plenty of smashed windows: I’m far from immune to intimidation that can come from reaching outside your authorly comfort zone.
A certain level of anxiety is expected, after all: as I’ve said more than a few times, writing is a very tough life … and far too often the only people we can get to understand and appreciate what we do are other writers. Yes, they understand and, if they are good people, they will be supportive but the cold hard fact is that writers just don’t buy other writers’ books … or at least not often.
Sitting on the other side of the fence – as an editor and Publisher for Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions – I see the side effects of authors not willing or able to understand their audience: poor sales. As said, they pour massive amounts of time and effort into their books but when they put their work out there it’s like they haven’t spend a single minute trying to think about who the book was written for … who the audience is.
Sure, it’s uncomfortable – as I’ve also said, writing is a very solitary thing so it goes very much against the grain for us all to have to deal with publicity – but it really is vital to spend some quality time thinking about who your readers actually are.
And it’s not exactly rocket science – though there are a few tricks, as you might expect. The main one, of course, is when you reach out to sell your work keep in mind that’s what you are doing: selling … and no one likes to be sold to. There is a fine line between letting people know about your kick-ass erotica book and becoming a spammer. That is why simply throwing ads about your stuff out into your audience pool is never a good idea.
Instead, try to meet your readers halfway. Example: you’ve written the greatest gay Western romance ever. Congratulations! So where should you focus your social media and such? Not to be rude but … come on! The answer is right there: Gay. Western. Romance.
Join or reach out to queer sites — especially gay western or romance ones. Reach out to romance sites – especially western or gay ones. Reach out to western sites – especially gay and romance ones. Not just book sites (and I can’t emphasize that enough) but sites for folks who like what you have written. Send them announcements but also share other things as well.
Example time: I write science fiction and erotica … and erotic science fiction. So I’ve set up a Tumblr called Rude Mechanicals, which I’ve mentioned before: lots of pictures of sexy robots and the like. Admittedly, I’ve not poured 100% into my little Tumblr, but I still have quite a few followers. Coming out soon is a re-release of my erotic SF collection, Bachelor Machine – plus a brand new follow up collection, Skin Effect.
Get where this is going? The folks that follow Rude Mechanicals are probably not writers but they are interested in (ta-da) erotic science fiction. I may not get a lot of sales but at least I’m working to reach people who more than likely will be interested in what I’ve written.
So take your great gay western romance and get it out there. Sending out announcements is part of it but it’s only a part. Create a blog, a Tumblr, a whatever, and share your own favorite western or gay or romantic movies, talk about your inspirations, talk about western or gay or romantic authors you admire, discuss … everything in addition to your book.
Is your book kinky? Then – damnit – reach out to the BDSM community about your erotic magnum opus. Again, talk about your inspirations, your fantasies, what you were trying to do with your book.
Want more examples? Watch … what was it they used to call it? Oh, yeah: television. Watch television for more than a few minutes and you see commercials … they’re like pop ups but worse. After a few of these nasty things do you want to buy anything they’re selling? Of course not: but watch a show about great gay western romances in history and, before you know it, you’re on Amazon looking up gay western romance books.
There are sites and fan-bases for everything: you name it and someone, somewhere, has created a site celebrating it. But just don’t think within your books’ PR and social media box, try to push it out a bit: just because your book is gay doesn’t mean that straight readers won’t like it (and vice versa). There might be some resistance but if you approach people and sites and groups and such politely and enthusiastically they will usually be open-minded. Now I’m not saying that you should push your book on a vampire site when there isn’t a bloodsucker in site – that’s just annoying. Instead, spend some quality time with your book and think about who would like to read it – then go out and get them … or at least let them know you exist!
It may be too obvious, but it’s worth saying anyway to get it to really sink in: you have to go out there and get them … because they sure as hell aren’t going to come to you.
The subtitle to this piece, by the way, is from the Alan Partridge show … just to give credit where credit is due.