You Are Not Billy Mays

by | July 24, 2016 | General | 5 comments

by Kathleen Bradean

Last month, I asked writers what they wanted to see addressed on this blog. One of the comments was about how to make your book stand out among the many others.

There’s an answer to that, but first, I’d like to mention a few things not to do. I’m being realistic here, not touchy-feely. (Feel free to add to this list in the comments. I’m sure you all know bad writer behavior by now.)

1) You Are Not Billy Mays. If you don’t recognize the name, he’s an infomercial star. He sells things, and I’m sure he’s good at it or they wouldn’t keep hiring him. However, you are most probably not a professional pitchman with a team of experienced ad writers working for you.  Yes, you’re a writer, but that’s not the same as being a marketing genius or even a great pitchman. So you’re not likely to write such a great blog/ Face Book/ tweet that you’re able to turn your ad into sales. That means that you’re just adding to noise and clutter that is instantly forgotten.

2) People hate you – HATE you – if you friend them on Face Book or Twitter and instantly spam them. And by instantly, I mean anything from seconds afterwards to a month. You will be blocked.

3) Unless you’re J K Rowling, no one is going to read your press release.

4) You will be damn lucky if your publisher does anything to promote your work. Getting readings, onto panels at Cons, etc. is up to you. It’s even more difficult with erotica because people still treat it like it’s toxic.

5) You can be really kind to other writers, help promote their work, review it, recommend it, and every other thing you can think of to help them but don’t expect them to turn around and do you the same favor. I’m sorry, but it’s true. So do it out of the kindness of your heart and because you really believe in their work, but don’t for a second think that there’s some sort of karma investment in helping other writers that will pay you back dividends.

I hope you’re not too bummed out, because my best advice for getting your work noticed isn’t going to make you any happier.

Think about how you find books to read. You might look for reviews or find the recent award nominees in a genre, but poll after poll shows that the large majority of readers buy books based on a recommendation from someone they know or trust.

So how do you get someone to enthusiastically evangelize about your book?

You are not going to like this answer.

It seems too simple,

And not very helpful.

But it’s the one thing you have to do. Just one thing, After that, fate is in the hands of readers.

Are you ready for the big reveal?

Write a damn good story.

Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean’s stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Haunted Hearths, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, and She’s On Top in print. Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites have also featured her stories. Writing as Jay Lygon, her stories can be found in Inside Him, Blue Collar Taste Tests, Toy Box: Floggers, and the novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons. Read more about Kathleen Bradean at:


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Eaten any lemons lately, Kathleen? ;^)

    I'd love to believe that writing a damned good story is the key to selling books. However, evidence suggests that this is neither necessary nor sufficient. In fact, I suspect that writing something stunningly original and creative will lose rather than gain you readers among the masses. From what I can observe, the vast majority of readers want more of the same. The same what? Whatever they really liked during the first read.

    So yeah, if you can be that "first read", and get them hooked, great. Otherwise, publishing success seems to rest on being the best "me too". Repeatedly.

  2. Jean Roberta

    I'm not sure anyone really knows what works, but the comments you've both made about what DOESN'T work seem too true.
    Someone (a colleague in real life) told me about a former academic who left a flourishing teaching career to write bigfoot porn because it pays so well. I dunno. This might be an urban legend.

  3. Donna

    I think a lot of those "my friend made a million bucks writing R2D2 porn" or "dinosaur porn" (I actually heard this recently) stories are urban legends. It's a good story, although probably making no one any money. The reason why "write a damn good story" is the best advice is that it is the one that enriches the writer the most and brings positive value to the many or few who read the damn good story. At this point in my life, I resent reading anything that has been dashed off for money, so I couldn't in good conscience do that to my readers. That said, it is refreshing and important to tell the truth about the publishing experience. We've all had enough of the gushing acknowledgments' pages, thanking the ever-faithful agent, the wonderful copyeditor, the tireless publicist. Big foot porn indeed.

  4. Kathleen Bradean

    Lisabet – I'm going to prove I'm a mind reader and say that you're thinking of FSOG, and possibly the DaVinci Code. To reach that level of wildly successful sales, you have to write characters that speak to readers and your writing has to be accessible enough (as close to TV show simplicity as you can get) that non-readers are willing to read it.

  5. Kathleen Bradean

    Also – I'm secretly a reclusive billionaire writer of chef/rose erotica.

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