Category Archives: Erotica

Turning Failure into Success

The Complete Writer
Section VIII: The Writing Life:
Sittin’ by the Dock of the Bay?

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

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Turning Failure into Success

They say failure can help turn your losing experience into a successful endeavor. That became evident from the erotica publishing enterprise, which after a couple of years appeared to have joined the 50 percent of small business start-ups that fail within five years.[3]

On the surface, what I learned from that is not to try to sell anything unless you have some very strong marketing skills and are willing to spend uncountable hours using them. However, something far more positive is coming out of it.

These days, I have more work than I can handle. People are lined up at the door trying to get me to edit their golden words or advise on publishing them. And one of my clients hired me to help him self-publish a memoir that he intends not for the public but for family and friends.

By way of saving money on design for him, I mocked up three draft covers for his delectation. One of them turned out looking pretty darned nice. Another would be even better if the quality of the image were better—it has a couple of flaws, one of which probably resulted from dirt on the lens and the other of which appears to be a data issue. We used his images, taken with a variety of cameras over forty years.

As I remarked in Chapter 33, there are any number of good reasons to use print-on-demand or e-book technology other than trying to trying to publish a best-seller. In fact, trying to publish the Great American Novel is the worst of all possible reasons.

One of several things I learned a-sailing the Amazon is how to create a nice-looking paperback through print-on-demand technology. As a result, I now have the skills and tools to take a book all the way from manuscript to print. And that process can be modestly lucrative.

Three projects like the client’s private memoir would recover all the losses I’ve enjoyed in the book publishing enterprise.

I’ve also learned of a Mac app that allows you to create really attractive .mobi, ePub, and iBook e-books fairly simply. I may try this on the client’s MS just to see what happens. If it can handle images (not an easy trick), then I would be able to offer e-book formatting of fairly complex documents, too. This would further enlarge the opportunities to make a profit helping other people publish their projects.

I would never advise a client to spend a vast pile of money self-publishing what he or she imagines is the Great American Novel. But if the person has a good reason to create a book-length document for a business, for a nonprofit organization, for patients or customers, or for family and friends, self-publishing can be an economical and relatively easy way to fulfill certain specific needs. And if you’re just a hobbyist—and you know you’re a hobbyist—writing a book because you get a kick out of writing and would like to see your results in print or on Amazon is surely no more expensive than skiing or four-wheeling. As long as you understand what you’re doing and don’t imagine you’re going to get rich (or, probably, even to make a profit), I’ll even help you publish your novel.

Does this experience generalize?

Evidently so; otherwise we wouldn’t have those chestnuts to the effect that you have to fail before you can succeed.

In learning how to lose money, you learn how not to lose money. With any luck at all, you may learn how to make money. This is an underlying principle of all the personal finance advice dispensed in popular media: if you get into debt, you can learn not to get into debt; if a bank screws you, you can learn to use a credit union; if you’re not earning enough, you can learn ways to earn more.

Some errors, of course, are not so easily rectified: fail to save enough for retirement and you won’t have a second chance. Text your way up the wrong way of a freeway off-ramp and your next success will be a Darwin Award.

But most of the time you do have a chance to learn something—and profit from it.

CONTEST! Name the Ladies and Win a Free Advance Copy

wooHOO! Camptown Races Press is running a contest to NAME THE CAMPTOWN LADIES, over at Camptown Ladies Talk. The prize is an advance copy of one of the Press’s first Racy Books for Racy Readers, Bobbi and the Biker.

Naughty? Us?

Naughty? Us?

To win, all you have to do is come up with the best idea for noms de guerre for those naughty girls. And their (uhm) mentor Aunt Tilly has already overruled “Ashley” and “Madison.”

To enter, hop on over to Camptown Ladies and enter your best idea in the comments section. Be sure to leave a valid e-mail so we can send you a .mobi or PDF version.

Remember, these books are for grown-ups. 😉

2 Bobbi&Biker2

Writing Enterprise: Nose permanently attached to grindstone

Actually, I believe my nose has grown onto the grindstone, sort of like a tree trunk growing around an object in its way. Progress is being made on the new Racy Writing enterprise, but as usual everything has to crash on my head at once, so I can’t focus on the specific tasks at hand without distraction.

The last freshman comp course I will ever have to teach (I sincerely hope!) is now over and grades are posted. No one flunked, thank God, and only two got D’s. So that’s a mercy, and it’s also one distraction permanently off the table.

A week or ten days ago, I compiled a list of Über-To-Do’s needed to change heading for The Copyeditor’s Desk and its imprint, Plain & Simple Press. Tacking this particular ship into the wind is quite an undertaking. I figured if I could do three of the following per day, in a week or so I’d be ready to devote most of my time to writing and publishing short racy squibs.

Move the Blogging Empire, which consists of a lot of sites, from my web guru/friend’s server to WestHost.

Said friend does a wonderful job of wrangling websites, but he’s a young dad of four who recently landed his Dream Job in the corporate world.  Bizarrely, though, Dream Jobs require you to work, and since this guy isn’ta slouch, you can be sure every living, breathing moment of his life when he’s not caring for his family is spent working. So he folded most of his small IT business when he jumped on the commuter train. He kept a couple of his old clients, including moi, but it soon became apparent that he was going to need some time to have a life.

Another blogging friend referred me to her back-end Web guru. At this time we’ve moved the passel of websites to the self-hosting server. In the next few days, the new guy will reorganize the sites (well.. re- is not operative for something that’s grown up like topsy: he’ll organize them into something rational.

Writers Plain & Simple remains alive, despite WordPress.com threatening to close it down. We will move it over to WestHost and make it a subdomain of plainandsimplepress.com, the site for my S-corp’s Plain & Simple Press imprint. Watch this site, and please…try not to get lost! 😀

Assign remaining ISBNs to upcoming books.

Mooted. You have to have the cover art to do that, and I still haven’t been able to get the artist off the dime. He says he’s done about half of the covers for the Fire-Rider series.

Purchase another 100 ISBNs.

Done. All upcoming books now have informally “assigned” ISBNs, which at least I can enter on the copyright pages. Officially inscribing them with Bowker will have to wait until (yesh…) the artwork surfaces.

Set up Excel spreadsheet to track ISBN purchases and assignments.

Done.

I really need a database. Access didn’t come with the version of MS Office I bought for the Macs. And come to think of it, I don’t even know if Access will run in the Mac environment. In any event, it’s been so long since I’ve used Access, the re-learning curve would be excessively high…so for the nonce I’ll have to make do with Excel and Quickbooks.

Experiment again with using PowerPoint to create cover art for e-books. Check out that link: King’s covers don’t look staggeringly awesome, but they’re sure as heck good enough for genre fiction. And believe me, folks who buy the kind of stuff Camptown Races Press will publish are not buying it for the covers. 😉

To do, pending download of some stock art.

Actually, in the past I’ve tried following the guy’s how-to steps with an ordinary photo and found that it’s easy to do. Remains to be seen whether I can faze the result past Amazon and Nook. But…huh…if he can do it, so can I. By golly.

Buy a month’s subscription to Shutterstock and download as many images as allowed.

Pending.

Before I actually pay for a subscription, I wanted to find and compile lists of images fitting as many categories as I imagine the naughty novelettes will require over the next six months to a year:

Biker stories
Ghost sex stories
Traveler stories
Banner images for websites
Generic sexy images
M/M
W/W
Threesomes of various combinations
Racial configurations of various combinations

Create an Excel workbook with spreadsheets to keep track of stock art and public domain images

Done.

Did I mention that I need a database?

Study the user manuals for the Friedlander templates used to compile the stories in hand. Study the user manual for Calibre. Figure out how to use Calibre to convert from Word to Kindle and ePub formats.

Done, sort of.

Today I will try these on the cookbook and hope to get the thing online, around the ongoing hassles of trying to straighten up the sites on WestHost, which as we scribble are consuming more and more time.

Because the diet/cookbook has a lot of lists, formatting it may be difficult, and so I don’t want to just hand it over to Amazon to do the conversion. If I can’t do it myself, then I’ll hire my ebook guy to do it…but of course, that means it will be weeks (if ever) before it goes online.

The novelettes and the Fire-Rider serials have virtually no elaborate formatting: no subheads, no lists, no tables, no images. So I think those can simply be uploaded to Amazon along with their cover images.

Learn specs for Kindle and Nook covers.

Done.

Learn how to upload content to Nook.

Done.

Write proposal and cover letter for Boob Book.

Done

Find a half-dozen agents or markets for Boob Book. Send proposal to the first of those.

Done.

Learn how to upload files to Snowflake Press for print-on-demand; do so for Slave Labor and order ten copies.

Under way. To be completed today, I hope. Maybe.

Learn how to sell hard-copy books on Amazon and do the fulfillment in-house, not through fulfillment by Amazon.

Later!

Publish the diet/cookbook in e-book format on Amazon.

Pending: whenever I figure out how to get it formatted propertly.

Establish an account and publish Slave Labor and the How I Lost 30 Pounds in Four Months on Nook.

Later!!

To accomplish most of these little tasks in a week or so has required me to start at around 5 in the morning and work all the way through, without stopping except for a few snacks and to cope with things that can’t be put off, until I can’t work anymore, which is about 8 or 9 p.m.

And that, my friends, is what’s entailed in quitting your day job.

Two Bookoids Down…

Only eighteen more to go! 😀

Last night finished the second of the ten to twenty racey “books” I’d like to turn out per month. “Bookoid,” is what they might best be called. The word length is definitely in the ball park of what’s being turned out. But that word length is not very long: about 7400 words, for this one.

It’s taking a lot longer to write these things than people say they take, or than I planned. I see, for example, by this blog that I thought the present magnum opus would be done two days ago. I completed the first bookoid six days before that. So it’s taking me about a week to write one of these things.

That’s only four a month, and I need a bare minimum of ten.

The big problem is the constant stream of interruptions. Some days it feels like I can’t get ten minutes without SOMETHING busting in to my concentration.

Yesterday, for example, the car had to go to the repair shop — that’s two trips through rush-hour traffic, back and forth. Twenty minutes after the mechanic dropped me off at the front door, the handyman showed up to fix the kitchen sink. He occupied a fair amount of time, though he didn’t charge anything (which was nice….since the car is about to bankrupt me).

Final student papers are coming in. To get some of them to turn in their 10-page exudations early so we’d get a little slack on the awful deadline for filing final grades, we offered them  20 points of extra credit to post their papers before Monday. So naturally, the best and the brightest have begun turning that junk in.

Okay, so the brightest students are easiest to grade, because all you have to do is slap an A on their paper and you don’t have to waste your time justifying WHY you’re giving the person a D (it’s a waste of time because these folks have heard the same stuff a score of times and don’t pay the slightest bit of attention — some of them don’t even bother to read your comments). But it still consumes time to read them, even in a cursory way.

Speaking of exudations, one of the three surgical incisions I came away from the Mayo with is infected. It’s worse this morning, so I’ll have the privilege of spending half of today trying to cope with that, which will entail another trip to the hospital and a trip to a pharmacy and probably some throwing up in response to whatever antibiotic they inflict on me.

The designer called and revealed that he is only JUST beginning to look at compiling the 18 Fire-Rider covers I need to have before I can post that series on Amazon. Grrrr! But when he did that, he also revealed that I must have been in my cups some weeks ago when I sent him the list of books & titles — he thought the title of book II is the title of book I, and from there things went downhill.

So  now I get into my files and see, yes, somehow that list got completely garbled! I’d sent him something that made exactly zero sense.

So that meant I had to rewrite that, try to get it right for a change, and send it to him.

Then there was the back and forth with the web gurus. The exiting guy — alas, this lovely man got a JOB (horrors!) and besides has four kids and a wife he imagines he should spend time with — is going to move the blog empire over to WestHost today. The new guy is going to reorganize it. Among other things, this site (Writers Plain & Simple) will become a subdomain of Plain & Simple Press, allowing the domain name to revert to GoDaddy.

This scheme — converting a number of free-standing business-related sites to subdomains of my main business websites — will save a ton of money over the long run. GoDaddy is now charging several hundred dollars a year for the many domain names I’ve claimed. Speaking of sucks: that’s a money suck.

So I’ll end up dropping five domain names and picking up one new one: Camptown Races Press, the new imprint for the p0rn enterprise. Good. Very, very good.

Because I was waiting for a number of people to call, when the phone rang I had to pick it up. Normally I don’t…when you get to be my age, you get on every predator’s phone list, so every day I get two or three phone calls from scammers trying to victimize old folks. And yes, I am on the National Do Not Call List, a pathetic joke. Sometimes I can tell the caller is a crook — the ones that spoof Directory Assistance are a bit obvious. 😀 But sometimes Caller ID won’t have enough information to tell whether it’s the handyman calling from his cell or what.

The phone kept jangling all day long. Every time I’d sit down and just get focused, BRRRRRIINNNGGGGA! And there’s some moron on the other end.

No, I cannot afford call blocking. The phone company does not want you to block their customers — the people who pay them for your phone numbers — and so they charge an arm and a leg for call blocking. No, the Panasonic phone that lets you block around a hundred numbers is not a practical option: you need a master’s degree in software engineering to figure out how to program it.

Then Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend decided that NOTHING will do but what I have to traipse out to Sun City to have dinner at his house while New Girlfriend is off in Colorado. It’s all very nice that he’d like to socialize with me, but… He invariably wants me to come out there in the rush hour. So to get there by 4:00 I have to leave here by 3:00. By the time I’ve sat around his house until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., a third of the day is shot!

(Hereabouts, evening rush hour starts at 3:00 p.m., especially during the summer when guys in construction and other strenuous trades start at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to get around the worst of the heat.)

By way of negotiating this social event, SDXB phoned me…what? Three times? Four? I can’t recall, but every time I sat down to work, there he was on the phone again.

So, what have we got here: TEN ONGOING DISTRACTIONS breaking up ONE day!!!!! Shee-ut! No wonder I can’t get any work done.

Well, it’s after 6 a.m. We can call the Mayo 24 hours a day, so I’d better call and let them know I think this damn thing is infected. That will mean traipsing up there today. If they let me in this morning, then the first half of the day will be erased, for all practical purposes.

If I have to wait until this afternoon, then I won’t be able to go to the writer’s group I favor, which meets at the library of a westside suburb halfway to Yuma.

There’s another time suck. They meet for three hours once a month. It’s an hour’s drive each way: five hours down the hole.

Normally I do not hang out with writer’s groups — they really are an unholy waste of time for someone who already knows how to write and edit, thank you very much. But this group is something else. Most of them are already published, some of them through real presses, some through Amazon. And what they’re interested in is not how to become a Writer with a Capital W, but in how to market.

Marketing is my big weakness. Hustling my wares is far from my favorite pastime, and I’m not good at it. So I see enough value in this group to make it worth killing half a day a month sitting around listening to them.

At any rate, what it boils down to is

a) it’s taking longer to write these things than I figured (original estimate was one every two or three days), and
b) even when it looks like I have a day that’s going to be free, it in fact is a pastiche of interruption and nuisances.

That makes it unlikely that I can turn out ten to twenty bookoids a month, unless I write much shorter. How many s∈x acts can you cram in to 3,000 words? And how much space does that give you to come up with an entertaining reason to present the s∈x acts?

Turning out one a week, which seems to be about the rate we’re looking at, means not doing anything else. I haven’t written the proposal for the Boob Book, even though the chapters, intro, and appendix are ready to go. I haven’t worked on formatting the last two of 18 Fire-Rider serials so they can go online as soon as Gary finishes the covers. Nor, indeed, have I budgeted several hours to sit down and study how to get the things up.

Claro, I’m going to need those four wannabe writers to contribute to this project. So far none has come forward with a draft. It remains to be seen what will happen there. But to get even 10 a month online will take more than one person writing the stuff.

Maybe I should come up with some writing prompts for them…

On the other hand…I have to tellya! Writing this stuff IS a hoot. The one I finished yesterday turned out to be a great deal spicier than the first effort. And in 7,000 words, you can come up with characters that are more than cardboard figures. You can even create a little backstory. These are stories that are probably worth reading for more than just the smυt. But there’s plenty of that, too.

And each of these stories lends itself to a series. Think I’ll go back and forth between them. The next bookoid will be another biker story; then the following will return to the incubus tale.

Speaking of time sucks, now it’s after 7 a.m. Got to water the plants before the heat fries them and get cleaned up lest I have to schlep to the Mayo hospital. Ugh.

A New Publisher a-Borning?

Wow! Things are popping in the racey-book kettle. Most notably, four writers have come forward expressing interest in writing for the new publishing enterprise. One is the best journalistic writer I know who’s still in the business. Another is experienced with the genre, and the other two are promising.

This is amazing.

My second lively bookoid, to be called The Ouija Lover, is almost done — should wrap it up today, barring any new interruptions. I have a good idea for the second installment of the Biker Babe idea (now dubbed Bobbi and the Biker), and a fair idea for the second Ouija Lover.

Meanwhile, check out this little report about a publishing company called Ellora’s Cave: They claim at one point to have been selling 200,000 books a month! Holy freaking MACKEREL! I’ve worked for publishers who would be happy to sell 200,000 copies a year.

Well. I certainly don’t need to burn up the world like that. All I need is to earn a fraction of a living. And it looks like that actually could happen with this tack.

On another (related) front, I’m in the process of moving my self-hosted sites to another service. I probably will move Writers Plain & Simple off WordPress.com at that time — whenever we decide which service is best. I hope I don’t lose those of you who are following… If the site disappears from whatever service brings it to you, bear in mind that the domain name will remain the same: writersplainandsimple.com . Follow me there! 🙂

First Erotica Novelette in Hand!

Hm. Maybe that’s not a felicitous turn of phrase. 😀

Doesn’t take much of this kind of writing to cause you to hear double meanings in about every third word anyone speaks. Who knew?

At any rate, my first effort at writing erotica — the hard-core variety, I mean — is DONE! And sent off to a couple of writing & editing pals for review. One of these wants to fall in with me by way of seeing how this works; she’s more interested in the standard romance formula than I am, and, we might add, a far more gifted writer of fiction.

She being an MFA type, she actually can crank a piece of lit’rature. Me, I’m lucky if I can write a coherent blog post that doesn’t put the reader to sleep. But on the other hand, what we’re proposing to publish hardly comes under the heading of literature.

It took a great deal longer to write the thing — all of about 7100 words — than I expected, since I was in the hospital for five days and pretty much out of it for a couple days after that. Whether I can actually write ten to twenty of these a month remains to be seen. But I suspect once you get the hang of it, you probably can move along at a brisker pace.

And I have an idea for the next bookoid — a piece of spectrophilia. Yes. Believe it or not, getting it off with ghosts is a fetish. And it’s one that’s been around since humans have been human: apparently it stems from a surprisingly common hallucination caused by sleep paralysis. Weirdly, I haven’t come across a story at Amazon specifically revolving around a succubus or an incubus. But there will be one. Soon. 😉

Today, though, I’m going to read some Anaïs Nin. I downloaded Delta of Venus and Little Birds yesterday. Interestingly, her introduction describes the challenge of writing to clinical details in the absence of anything resembling a credible or intellectually interesting plotline. Her client, who was paying her $100 a month to write smυt for a supposed “old man” (who actually was himself), kept urging her to can “the poetry” and just write “sex.”

If you’re used to doing any real writing, that’s easier said than done. In the current biker book, I found myself developing character (as if by instinct) and building motive. Even though I managed to keep the action going at a fair clip, probably more “poetry” intrudes than is desirable.

Heh.

Oh, sorry.

The point is, it’s harder than it seems to build a story solely by moving puppets around on a cardboard stage.

Nevertheless, probably thanks to “the poetry,” Nin is regarded as one of the finest writers of female erotica in English, even though she thought of the stories as caricatures. Which of course is exactly what p0rn is: cartoonish. Clinically cartoonish.

I, on the other hand, do not care if I’m ever regarded as a fine writer by anyone. I just wanna make a living. And not by teaching freshman comp or greeting Walmart shoppers.