Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trying VERY hard not to Corrupt anyone! Seriously! Excerpt and a few updates...

Won't be too chatty because I just noticed something HORRIBLE! I haven't posted an excerpt here for a very long time. So I'll make this really quick and give you a nice, sexy excerpt of OFFSIDE (The Dartmouth Cobras #4) which should be coming out some time this spring.

So that's my first update. My second update is that I'm going to be going full speed with my young adult (YA) novels. Some of you might recall me mentioning 'coming out' with my YA books. I was nervous about linking them at all with what I write now, but I've talked to a lot of people that say I'll be fine so long as I don't link back from my YA site (Which of course I wouldn't).

That said, I'll put a link at the bottom for those interested in knowing more about those books and reading the first two chapters. All the YA books are already written, so you don't have to worry about them taking me away from bringing you the naughty book you love! :)

Now here's a taste of Zach and Becky, from OFFSIDE. Enjoy!

 * * * *

The approval in his eyes was like a bright golden star bursting in the center of her chest. She inhaled deep and held her breath, waiting to see what he’d do next.
He circled the table again, stopping at her other side. Hooking his fingers to the thick straps of her dress above her shoulders, he pulled it down, moving her as he pleased, taking one arm, then the other until both were free of the dress. Only the neckline covered her breasts as he placed her arms. Her nipples tightened into sensitive little points as she waited for him to expose them, but instead he walked to the end of the table and traced his fingertips down the soles of her feet.
A giggle escaped her, and she squirmed as he did it again.
“Be still.”
And again. It tickled, but she pressed her eyes shut, ground her teeth, and fought not to move. His hand curved around her feet and she bit back a groan as he pressed his thumbs into her soles. He stroked, massaged, then tickled, alternating until the pleasure edged on torture. Yet, somehow, she kept still. Sank into a place where all that mattered was his touch. As it moved up to her calves, she sank even deeper, responding to his slow, even breaths, to his soft praise. She needed to know she had it in her to please him. To be everything he needed and wanted by doing nothing but what came naturally.
“I was right. You are precious.” He kissed her bare shoulder, then rolled the material of her dress down over her breasts. “This isn’t just sex for you. It’s so much more.”
“Yes.” She absorbed the satisfaction in his tone like the earth after a drought soaked in rain. She knew she shouldn’t speak, but she had to make sure he wasn’t just doing this for her. “Am I . . . do I make you happy?”
“More than I can say.” He lowered his head to her breasts, resting his forehead between them. He kissed the side of one breast and she shivered. The sensation was both tender and erotic. Lingering, building as he kissed his way up to her nipple. “Don’t forget what I’ve asked of you.”
Don’t move.
Pleasure speared her as he sucked her nipple into his mouth. Her eyes teared as she struggled not to arch up. As she pressed her lips together.
“No man or woman has pleased me as much as you have.”
He pinched her nipple between his finger and thumb as he sucked the other.
“I won’t be easy on you, little doe.”
He shifted down her body, drawing the hem of her dress up over her hips, over her belly, kissing the exposed flesh as he worked his way down.
“But if you are mine . . . .”
His fingers traced the edge of her panties, along the sides of her pussy lips, close to where the material had grown damp. He bit down just above the slight swell of her stomach, rubbing her panties into her clit.
  “I will give you what no one else can.”

 * * * *

Click on cover for more info and first two chapters

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DO NOT follow my bad example . . . and GAME MISCONDUCT goes FREE

This hockey card for Sloan took me hours to make. There's another version with even more touch ups on my old laptop which is about ready to go to print. Maybe I'll go take a look at it today and try some new things I've learned on Gimp. Which I think needs to be updated as soon as I have a chance...

If I'm not working on artwork for promo, or covers (I've tried my hand at a few, but was only ever satisfied with the one for Toile) I've usually got one or two WIPs going. Sometimes three. Then there's that idea for a fourth. My muse acts like a junkie tripping on speed, all the while growling at me to get my word count up while flashing scenes at me left and right. While I want to cuddle up with, say, Sloan for hot impact play, I'm seeing a tender scene between the hero and heroine from the second book in a series I haven't written yet!

Then there's facebook. And twitter. And damn it, that sink full of  dishes has been sitting there for two days! Brushing my hair at some point today might be a good idea. Don't I have a guest post to write?

It's easy to joke about how easily I'm distracted, but consistently flitting off track gets a whole lot of nothing done. So, today, I've made myself a promise. I'm going back to the single-minded obsessiveness that made putting down 10k words a day easy, and 20k possible.

But don't do that. Actually, I would suggest you never follow any example I give unless it's been sanctioned by a professional. Or you're not terribly concerned about your liver. ;)

My obsessive times usually consist of days where 10 cups of coffee a day is bare minimum. I eat only when someone pokes me with a fork in the midst of force feeding me. Once I put down the coffee cup, I pick up the glass of whiskey and coke. Or beer.

Unhealthy, and when I get in that zone I'm never quite there even when I'm not writing, but DAMN it feels good. When I stop writing because I need at least three hours sleep before starting again, when I'm going on pure passion for my work...there's no better feeling. For those who know a bit about BDSM, think of it like surrendering completely to a Dom you love. To giving up control and serving him without question. Not for what he can do for you, but because doing for him satisfies you on a deeper level.

For a submissive, one of the things that keeps the single-mindedness from being a problem is in a good relationship, the Dom takes care of the sub. Makes sure they eat and sleep. Your writing will never do that for you. It will drain you if you let it, all too happy to take control, not the least bit concerned if you can walk when it's done with you. I've never met a single muse who wasn't a sadist. And not the sweet, loving kind you meet in romance novels.

Don't fool yourself. Your muse gets off on your suffering.

So why not follow my example and turn over your heart, your body, your very soul to your passion? I've done quite well for myself doing just that. Well, because I think there must be safer, saner ways to do this. Not for me, naturally, but hopefully for you! And if not . . .

Good luck!

To end this crazy ramble, I just want to let you all know Bitten By Paranormal Romance is doing a BDSM Challenge this month and since I'm getting in on the fun (The COBRAS books are being reviewed and I'm posting on the 13th)I've decided to make Game Misconduct FREE for the length of the challenge. As of today, Game Misconduct is free @ All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, and Kobo. Making books free on Amazon takes awhile, but the price has been reduced to .99 in the meantime. 

For those curious about Sloan's hockey card, it will be available at both events I'm going to this summer--most likely Lori Foster's Reader and Author Get Together and The RN Conventions (In Vegas!!!). If you can't wait for then, another way to get swag from me is to sign up for The Dartmouth Cobras Street team: The team's FB group gets updates and sneak peeks before anyone else. I've raised the limit of members from 30 to 50, so feel free to join in the fun!

And I shall bid you adieu as I let my muse shackle me to my desk! As always, post any questions in the comments and I will get to them ASAP!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Do not read reviews. EVER. Unless you're ready to admit you cannot ignore the value of the TOP 5

Why would any author beyond the most green even consider clicking on a review? And worse, what kind of masochist would click on a one or two star review? That’s like asking someone to attach a ‘Kick Me’ sign to your back. With several staples.

Well, I’ve cut my review reading tendencies down to almost nothing. I rarely even read good reviews—which is a lot harder—and while I understand the importance of reviews, I’ve come to terms with the fact that reviews. ARE. NOT. FOR. AUTHORS. Some people may say you can learn from reviews. I guess some new authors might be able to—if they haven’t found much more productive places to learn from such as crit groups, workshops, etc. Seriously, an author is much more likely to damage their fragile egos (VERY fragile in most cases) than learn anything. And the authors with egos too big to damage don’t G.A.S about reviews.

But sometimes it’s tempting to take a peek. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at that evil blank page, wishing the words would march across it like little soldier ants and prove that your abilities haven’t been sucked into the huge black hole that swallows creativity while the interactive world online passes you by. It won’t hurt to check out who’s on facebook. Nothing much going on? How about twitter? While you’re online you might as well check your stats. It’s very important that you know what they are at any given time of day. And the rush of seeing the numbers going down a few thousand is so worth it! You now know people are buying your books! Reading them! Maybe even….enjoying them?

How can you know? Because you must know! It’s kinda like the feeling you get when you leave your baby with someone for the first time. You’re tempted to call again and again to see how the baby is doing. You can’t let go.

But you have to. Or so they say.

What happens if you can’t? Well, you could end up with a very clingy kid and not much grownup time. When it comes to books, you could end up spending more time obsessing over what a handful of readers thought of your past books than writing new ones. And if you’ve written a book that draws those one-two shots, you can actually put yourself into a depression. Not very productive.

Or you can find a new way to look at it. Now, this isn’t a criticism against reviewers in general. Everyone has their own opinion and you are entitled to yours even if it’s hurtful to the author. This is just to help a few sensitive souls get some perspective on some of the ‘constructive criticism’ commonly found in harsh reviews.

Here are the top five worst things to read in a review, and what authors should really be thinking when they read them.

5. I HATED the characters. (or) I couldn’t relate to the hero/heroine.

This is unfortunate. Ideally, every single reader who picks up your book will love your characters. Ideally every person in the world will love you. We’d all live in a beautiful utopia and spend our days hugging. Maybe groping. Mega-orgies!

No matter how likeable your characters are, someone’s not going to ‘get them’. For example, if your heroine is obsessed with cooking, I’ll probably hate her. Which you should absolutely change once you read my review, right? ;) 

4. This book was a struggle to read! Too slow to start (or fast paced, or descriptive, or not descriptive enough—insert issue) and I just couldn’t get into it.

Of course, a comment like this means you have to change your writing style. That beautiful prose that paints every scene should be removed. Those action scenes that grip the reader need to be restructured. Actually, you should do a survey of a hundred readers to see what style they like best and spend a few days compiling the information so you can write in a way that pleases them all.

And good luck with that!

3. This book disappointed me. I thought it would be just like (insert current trendsetter…or save yourself some time and insert 50 Shades).

Hmm…well, this one is harder to explain. Because really, why didn’t you write 50 Shades? Please set aside some time each day to contemplate this and amend your ways as quickly as possible. And if you can’t emulate the New York Bestseller, you should probably stop writing. That’s all anyone wants to read right now.

**Note: To be successful with this, please ignore all the reviews from readers that tell you they love your book because it’s different. They are misguided.

2. DNF, but I would like to say…

Pay careful attention to these. Often they have questions that were never answered, and you really should dwell on the fact that you didn’t answer those questions earlier. Also, how dare you lose the interest of the reader! Really, you should have included hash brownies with the purchase. Or some chemical in the paper of the b…ah, yeah. No paper. Damn ebooks!

**Note: Contact ereader distributors and suggest a method of chemically enticing every reader who begins a book to finish it. Because no book was ever not finished until the evil ebook came along.

1. Worst book ever.

Okay, stop right there. This isn’t a criticism! Well, unless the reviewer hasn’t read many books, in which case their opinion may be suspect. You have somehow managed to move beyond the hundreds of books that strive for the title, impassioned the reader enough for them to make a very lofty claim about what they’ve just read. But don’t let it get to your head. Your books may be close to reaching notoriety, but they’re not there yet. If only one person says this, it may be a glitch. If many say it…

Well, I have to admit, I’ve let it get to my head a little. I’m very close to claiming that infamous title for one of my books which has gained almost as much hate as it has love. If you plan to take the title from me, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You best have written something truly horrific!

If you’ve never been handed out one of these gems in a review, don’t worry. Keep working hard and it will come. And if you’ve gotten to the point where you haven’t been reading reviews in a while, you may already have one. But don’t go checking!

All right, but just a little peek! ;)

Friday, October 5, 2012


This is going to be a really quick post because release days are always a little crazy and I come unprepared! lol! All I have for you is an incredibly sexy scene which needs a great big:

But first, I thought I should tell you a little about my plans for the next week. And take the opportunity to pick your brains! First of all, tonight I will be hosting a chat tonight RELEASE DAY CHAT WITH BIANCA SOMMERLAND so swing by to celebrate with me! There will be THREE prizes offered to chatters chosen at random! Don't miss it! :)

Also, starting October 7th, the Cobras will be going on a tour, and what I'd like to know is who are you dying to spend time with? There will be 6 stops:

10/7 ~ Under the Covers
10/8 ~ Guilty Pleasures
10/9 ~ Kinky Book Reviews
10/10 ~ RomFan
10/11 ~ Author Alannah Lynne
10/12 ~ Cocktails and Books

Obviously, since it is their book. Luke, Sebastian, and Jami will each make a stop, but that leaves 2 spots open. So I'm going to let you choose. And as an added bonus, I'm going to be giving away a special prize donated by the Cobras to the two commenters who make the best case for their favorite player!

Now I'll share the blurb and the excerpt. Scroll to the bottom for buy links and don't forget to comments for your chance to win!

 Blurb: Against some attacks, the only hope is to come out and meet the play.

Last year, Jami Richter had no plans, no goals, no future. But that’s all changed. First step, make up for putting her father through hell by supporting the hockey team he manages and becoming an Ice Girl. But a photo shoot puts her right in the arms of Sebastian Ramos, a Dartmouth Cobra defenseman with a reputation for getting any woman—or, as the rumours imply, man—he desires. And the powerful dominant wants her…and Luke. Getting involved in Seb’s lifestyle gives her a new understanding of the game and the bonds between players. But can she handle being caught between two men who want her, while struggling with their attraction to one another?

Luke Carter’s life is about as messed up as his scarred face. His mother is sick. His girlfriend dumps him. When he goes to his favorite BDSM club to blow off some steam, his Dom status is turned upside down when a therapeutic beating puts him in a good place. He flatly denies being submissive--or, even worse, being attracted to another man. He wants Jami but can’t have her without getting involved with Sebastian. Can he overcome his own prejudices long enough to admit he wants them both?

Caught between Luke and Jami, Sebastian Ramos does everything in his power to fulfill their needs. His two new submissives willingly share their bodies, but not their secrets. When his own past comes back to haunt him, the fragile foundation of their relationship is ripped apart. As he works to salvage the damage done by doubt and insecurity, he discovers that Jami is hiding something dangerous. But it may already be too late.


This ebook contains material not suitable for readers under 18. It also contains scenes that some may find objectionable, including hockey violence, BDSM, ménage sex, bondage, anal sex, sex toys, multiple partners, woman love, and man love including, but not limited to an erotic shower scene. Readers are advised not to attempt reenacting the scene while reading the ebook.


The glass dildo she'd bought earlier that day sat on the bed behind her, disinfected and ready to use. She picked it up and ran her fingers over the wide head, then down the pale blue winding ridges. Sebastian had told her to pick one that matched him in size, but she must have overcompensated. If Sebastian was this big, he never would have fit inside her.

"I showed it to you, right?" She tongued her bottom lip. "It's pretty big."
"I can see that." The edge of Sebastian's lip twitched. He reached into the shower where Luke stood under the spray and ran his hand from the nape of Luke's neck to the small of his back. "But it will be the only thing to fill you until I am with you again. Try it, Jami. If it hurts too much then I will buy you another."
"Yes, mi Rey." She scooted backwards on the bed and opened her legs. Then she stroked the cool, smooth glass head of the dildo between her folds. Her eyes fluttered shut as arousal flared deep in her core. She forced them open and moaned at the sight of Sebastian stripping, of him stepping into the shower to pull Luke, dripping wet, into his arms. They kissed, slower than before, with Sebastian easing off several times and speaking quietly to Luke when it looked like he was trying to rush things.
Jami had a hard time paying any attention to the glass dildo, growing warm with her body heat. She stared as Luke clasped his hands behind his neck and closed his eyes. He swallowed, nodded, and let Sebastian guide him down to his knees.
Her lips parted as Luke's did. Her mouth went dry as Sebastian took hold of his dick with one hand, put the other hand on the back of Luke's head, and eased him forward.
"That's it, semental. Very good." The muscles in Sebastian's forearms and stomach hardened, as if it took all his strength not to thrust it. "Circle the top with your tongue. And breathe. Yes. Now open wider."
Inch by inch, Sebastian's dick disappeared into Luke's mouth. He stopped with about half his length inside and drew out.
"More this time. Use your lips with the same pressure you enjoy Jami or I using on you."
 A rough sound came from Luke as his lips glided over and over the slick, flesh, as he accepted more and more. Sebastian groaned and began to fuck Luke's face at a faster pace. His balls bumped Luke's chin and he rasped in a harsh breath. Held Luke in place with his cock stuffed in his mouth.
"I love the way you look like this, niño. On your knees, sucking my dick. I could fuck your hot mouth all night." Sebastian slid out and pulled Luke to his feet. "But I'd rather fuck you."
"Oh God!" Luke shook as Sebastian turned him to face the wall which had the cuffs on suction cups stuck to it. "God, I'm gonna come!"
"Not yet." Sebastian reached around and fisted his hand around the base of Luke's cock and squeezed. "I won't help you next time. Calm yourself. You may come when I am inside you."
Luke's jaw hardened. He nodded and positioned his hands so Sebastian could attach the cuffs.
Once Luke was restrained, Sebastian stepped out of the bath to retrieve something from the counter. He glanced over at Jami as he held up the lube and squirted some into his palm. "We will be watching you now Jami. Stretch yourself open with that glass dildo as I stretch him. Match my pace."
"Okay." Jami held the glass dildo against her slit as Sebastian stepped behind Luke. She was so wet that half the head slid easily inside her as she watched Sebastian push one lubed finger into Luke's ass. She worked the tip in and out, panting as Sebastian's thick finger sank in all the way.
"Push back against me, niño," Sebastian said as he added a second finger. "Yes. Yes, just like that."
"Fuck that feels . . . almost too good. Ah!" Luke bowed his head and gasped as Sebastian pumped his fingers in and out. "Please! Please . . . ."
Sebastian combed his fingers into Luke's hair and jerked his head back. His tone was rough with passion. "Tell me what you want me to do."
"Fuck me, Sir!" Luke rasped out. He twisted his head slightly and looked at Jami. "I need you to fuck me now!"
 Jami whimpered as she pushed the dildo in deeper. It felt uncomfortably big. And she was so desperate to be full.
But then Sebastian latched onto Luke's hip with one hand and used the other to aim his dick to where his fingers had been. He rocked his hips forward and she shoved the dildo, crying out as it impaled her and her core rippled around it with a violent orgasm. She had to hold the end to keep her body from pushing it out. Her thighs quivered with the sensation, like an electric bolt striking the same spot, over and over. Red spots filled her vision, but she could still make Sebastian out, on the screen, watching her.
He held still for a moment. Then made Luke bend over a little more.
She held her breath as he thrust in.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Self-pub vs Traditional Pub #3: Total Reject-My story

I've debated for a long time coming out about this, it's something very few people know about me. Not that I'm ashamed or anything—the genres I write just don't mix.

But it's an important part of my story.

Erotic romance is a fairly new love of mine. I grew up reading more fantasy and sci-fi than anything else, and when I picked up a romance novel, it was always historical. At the time, I didn't know they were 'Bodice rippers', I just found it exciting to read about these young women being captured and ravished.

Now, I always knew I would be a writer. Writing romance, however, didn't appeal to me at all. I've never been too crazy about chick flicks, romantic comedy, romantic drama. Not that I never watch that kind of movie, but it's rare that I enjoy anything too sappy. No, I preferred Urban Fantasy. I wanted to be Ann Rice, or Laurel K Hamilton. Or, for the longest time, LJ Smith.

I decided to write Young Adult.

My first 100k novel was written in High School, mostly during math class. I wrote other books, and yes, even some fan fiction, though I kept that to myself! lol! Many of the books were never finished, but that first one that I finished was special. I know many authors look back at their first story and smile, all the while swearing that book will never see daylight.

After 10 rewrites, over 200 rejection letters from agents, and about 50 from publishing houses, I can't say the same. In a way, though, I'm glad it was rejected. It wasn't ready.

I wasn't ready.

Everyone tells you not to give up, but the rejections got to me. I wasn't even thinking about self-publishing at that point because it seemed like failure. It seemed like something rich people who couldn't get a contract did so they brag that they were published. But to my mind—and, I think, to most people's minds then and still—they weren't really published. Hell, even being with a small press wasn't all that special. I knew I would never make it if I didn't get an agent and make it to one of the big publishing houses.

Finally, I had to admit I wasn't going to do it with a YA book. The market was saturated. Romance seemed an easier genre to get into, so I decided that would be my way to get my foot in the door. And then once I was well known—yep, I still had dreams then of being BIG. Like Stephan King big—I could get my best book, my most special, most spectacular book, out into the world.

Did I mention I wasn't into writing romance?

My first effort was . . . okay. But I got bored and couldn't finish it. I tried a short story for an anthology, but it was rejected. Months were dedicated to one story, then another, but nothing worked for me, I couldn't get into it. I did research, read everything I could get my hands on, picked up my first erotic novel and then it hit me. Total light bulb moment. This wasn't boring and sappy! This was passionate and it could have a story beyond the romance! I could do that!

So I wrote Rosemary Entwined. Naturally, I skipped any attempt to write a normal, contemporary romance between one man and one woman. <g> By this point I'd read a few ménage books, some really bad ones, and I knew I could do better. It wasn't arrogance, I had some experience with ménage and I could write what worked. And what didn't.

The story was primped and polished and out it went. You'd figure by now I would be used to rejections, that the first one hitting my inbox wouldn't faze me, but I remember falling apart, remember telling my father, who'd always believed in me 'I can't do this.'

I then got the speech about how many times some of the best books in the world were rejected. A big hug and a 'Get back to work'.

Looking back, I think that made a huge difference for me in the process. No matter how emotionally involved I was, writing wasn't only my passion, my dream—it was my job. I've had many different, crappy jobs, from telemarketing to working in a hotel, cleaning rooms. I went back to school and took Auto body mechanics because cars were the only thing I loved enough to take me away from my writing for even a little bit. But when I had to choose, writing or cars, the choice was obvious. I sacrificed something I loved for something I loved more and I couldn't let that be for nothing.

Which meant getting up every single day and sending out query letters. And starting that next book.

Epublishing was new to me then, but I quickly learned who the big ones were and almost just as quickly was told my book wasn't for them. Then one day an email came in from a recent batch of submissions I'd sent out and . . . I was offered a contract! I screamed and cried and you better believe I signed that contract right that second.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I probably should have taken my time and read the whole thing first, but I wasn't thinking straight then. Luckily, it was a very good contract. Rosemary Entwined had a home.

Shortly after, I was offered a contract for Deadly Captive—which, btw, was rejected by almost as many agents, publishers, and epublishers as my YA novel—and I felt like I was really getting somewhere. But months later the pub closed, my right were reverted, and once again I was stuck with a book nobody seemed to want.

And sales for my first book were nowhere near what I thought they would be.

But I was published. I knew I could do this now. Unfortunately, self-publishing still didn't seem like the way to go. I would find a publisher that would take my book.

Noble Romance's 'Dare to be Different' slogan had me daring to hope that maybe they'd like my book. Their response time was amazing. Then again, I had absolutely no patience. My book had to be out there, like, yesterday! I already knew I wouldn't make lots of money, not for a few years at least, but I had reached the point where just knowing someone was reading the books I worked so hard on was good enough. I was slowly learning the realities of the publishing world and accepted the fact it would be a long time before I could live off my writing.

During this time, I'd also joined a writer's group and made some amazing connections. I was growing as a writer and becoming more confident with my work. I went to my first event that summer, the Lori Foster's Readers and Writers Get Together and that gave me another dose of reality. There were so many authors! Aspiring authors that I spoke to who were so eager and wanted to know how I did it. I gave them the best advice I could. Keep writing and submit everywhere. To be honest, I spent most of my time in the hotel bar—I was overwhelmed by all the people!—but I made some pretty cool contacts there too.

On the way home, I wrote The Trip (inspired by the hellish bus ride) and then I threw myself back into my writing. I worked on Game Misconduct, Deadly Captive: Collateral Damage, and Rosemary & Mistletoe, almost simultaneously. Writing about hockey . . . well, let's just say it sparked a new fire inside me, renewed my passion for writing. DCCD was also very special to me because people were talking about Deadly Captive, I was getting fanmail and I had readers who were waiting for the next book, but since it was a sequel I had to offer it to Noble Romance first.

But I was prepared to be picky about where Game Misconduct ended up. I sent out queries to the big epubs, got a few rejections, then an offer. But my vision for the books was different than theirs, so I withdrew my book. By this time, I'd 'met' Kallypso Masters (there's a reason I have her up first with a post on self-publishing) and she made doing it myself seem possible. Between her support and advice, as well as some crits and buttkicking from Cherise Sinclair and Cari Silverwood (and countless others) I was ready to take the next step.

And despite what I'd first thought, it wasn't a step down. It wasn't my last option because my book wasn't good enough to be published any other way. It was a choice.
Probably the best one I've made yet.

This post is a bit longer than I planned, but I'll be writing another about my start as a self-pubbed author and what worked for me. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.

Previous post in the series:

Self-pub vs Traditional-pub Series #1

Self-pub vs Traditional-pub Series # 2 *Guest Post Kallypso Masters

Monday, July 30, 2012

Self-pub vs Traditional Pub series #2: KALLYPSO MASTERS' opinions and Advice

**note from Bianca Sommerland: Some of you know that I considered self-publishing for a long time before actually doing it. I was afraid I didn't have what it took to make it alone. Kallypso Masters gave me wonderful advice and support. She has given me permission to share her words on the subject from a recent conversation. I'm adding her links and such myself because if you haven't read her books, you should! <g>**

Kallypso Masters:

Free from Amazon and other distributors

No disrespect to anyone who wants a publisher or is just starting to write, because there are things they can teach you that you need to know. But I spent 20 years learning those things in RWA and classes. I'm still learning, of course, with each new editor and beta reader I work with, but I've said before, I'm very Domme about my books and my career. I'd have probably been urged to conform with the publisher's rules so i didn't do anything risky or too terribly different.

I also needed to make a living FAST. Remember, I quit my job and THEN started writing Masters at Arms. I don't do things normally. So, I had one year to make it. I didn't have time to wait for validation. I knew I'd learned the craft and was ready to see what readers thought. So I hired a content editor and had a graphic artist friend do my professional covers.

Best decision FOR ME. If I'd sold with a publishing house as well as I did on my own, I estimate I'd have lost 70-80% of my income and would have been job hunting now, not writing full-time.

Please mention in your blog that 40% royalties on ebooks does not mean 40% of list price. The publisher gets 60-70% of list and THEN calculates your 40% from that. Many also take out fees for services and I've heard from authors that have since gone indie that they wound up with 11-19% of list price.

That's obscene and my big beef with publishers. They tout how they take care of all those big bad details like editing and covers, but then you have to keep paying for those one-time services thru the nose as long as they continue to sell your book. As I said above, some even deduct charges for those from your royalties!

For my first three books, granted with some discounts, I paid $2000 for the editor and $200 for the covers. With book 4, I'll pay $1700 for those two team members alone and $60 more for the formatter who will help take care of that detail I hate.

So to date, a publisher would have gotten at least $80000 of my proceeds, and more as time went on. If I had just sat back and let them take charge, I know I would not have sold 65000 books in 11 months, because I'd probably still be waiting for my first or second royalty check because of how long it takes them to accept and release a book.

I don't see that they would have promoted me nearly as well as I've promoted myself. ALL authors nowadays have to promote themselves. Even the Big 6 NY publishers have gotten lame in that area, unless you're a megastar like Nora Roberts or something.

Again, writers had better make sure they are ready first and not skip over all the years it takes to prepare themselves and learn this craft. It is too easy to publish your own work, without even getting it edited professionally.

I also know there are talented authors who prefer continuing on with a publisher because the thought of handling those few, but mega important, details is more bother than they want. Perhaps they still have day jobs and just want to focus on their writing. (Of course, they are losing so much of their income to the publisher and could possibly ditch the day job if they also ditched the publisher and went indie.) maybe they think the publisher is going to promote them and they don't want to do that themselves. (Talk about shooting themselves in the foot!)

Your suggestion of going with multiple publishers with or without going indie is also a good thing. Not all publishers are created equal. Ask their authors what they think before you sign. Don't focus on their stars, tho. Ask the ones whose books aren't at the top of the best seller lists, because that's where most writers start out.

Bottom line, it's a personal decision each author needs to make. I'm glad it has worked out for you, Bianca! You're a talented writer and you engage really well with readers (you big tease!) so I knew you'd do well as an indie. It's the ones who do nothing but promote themselves who turn readers off, but it is probably those who come across as real people and who put themselves out there on social media every day who do best at winning the hearts and minds of readers. Just my opinion, of course.

But indies also have to publish better books than those put out by publishers. You have to be different and suck readers in so they don't want to leave the world you've created. I write very emotional stories that aren't for everyone, but those who want to laugh, cry, and scream as they read will keep coming back for more, because I'm a big tease too! And they get addicted to the Masters at Arms Doms really quickly. My job is to keep providing a fix--and I'm late with the latest!

Gawd, I can't believe I typed this on my iPhone! But I'm very passionate about this! :)

I agree, self-publishing is NOT for everyone. New writers or those still learning the craft of writing should join writers groups, network, and find critique partners, because if you can't write a good story, even the publishers aren't going to take the time to nurture you along. I did this for about 20 years, off and on. (Possibly five years of dedicated RWA membership, meetings, conferences, etc., back in the 1990s.) I have eight manuscripts in various states of completion that I practiced on over those 20 years. You will NOT see me upload crap like that for readers to see, much less buy. I don't know many authors whose first attempts at writing novels were great reads. THAT's the problem with the ease of self-publishing. Too many writers see figures like those I shared and think that's going to happen to them. Heck, when I was trying to decide whether to self-pub, I was seeing what Bella Andre was making. Wow! I wanna be her when I grow up! And I know at least a handful of writers doing self-pubbing in this group who are making much more with their self-pubs than their publishers, even if they aren't as vocal as I am. But it's hard to determine if the publishers at least helped them find an audience.

I respectfully disagree with advice about going traditional first for those who DO know the business already, as I did. I had done my homework and I knew what I needed to do to succeed. I also had a RWA chapter mate who presented on going indie just when I needed to make the decision whether I submit to Samhain again and wait around (time I didn't have), or take the risk and go indie. I'm a risk taker AND I had a retirement nest egg that was supposed to be left untouched until I was at least 65 that I convinced my hubby to "invest" in me. So, I had 7 months to do nothing but write and get three books published. Three is the magic number for success, it seems.

(Names removed) and others are absolutely right if their assessment of themselves and their circumstances told them to go with a publisher for the support net and taking care of expenses they couldn't afford to cover at the time. Indies have to create their own support network. I am part of the Kentucky Independent Writers group (with lots of former and current RWA members tired of being second-class citizens in that organization), the online Indie Romance Ink group on Yahoo Groups, and I read blogs and network with other indie authors online. Of course, being with a publisher offers no guarantees either. Figuring out what readers want is a full-time job in and of itself.

So sometimes the publishers do have to eat the costs of the books that don't sell well and hope someone else in their house will help make ends meet. But I'm with Bianca Sommerland--it's all about the money. First off, getting $28 out of $70 made kinda sucks, but what IF the author's book made $5,000 from distributors in one month. I wouldn't want to be the author having to subsidize the others in the house who weren't selling as well. (Maybe that's selfish. I know publishers where everyone works together to promote each other's books and it just makes me tired to think of doing all the reading, reviewing, and pimping necessary to keep up. I'd never get any writing done. So, it's a control thing.)

Of course, I know a lot of indies AND writers with publishers who won't make $5000 in a year, much less a month. Whether it's because of the quality of the writing, the genre they in, the marketing they do or don't do (remember, all authors have to market themselves without appearing to be self-promoting all the time, because then they turn people off). Maybe it was a great book that just didn't catch on. If the publisher sticks with them through their third book (or the indie keeps writing and publishes a third book), chances are things will improve. If all I had done in that first year was publish Masters at Arms, I wouldn't be making a living at writing. It wasn't until Nobody's Hero (#3) came out that my sales went into 5-digit royalties the following month.

Here's Kristen Lamb's blog about five mistakes self-pubs make. I don't agree on all the points, but overall she has some excellent points.

I'm glad to hear there are some publishers who do right by their writers and that there are authors happy with their publishers. Too often over the last 20 years, though, I've heard the horror stories with publishers, which probably is part of what made it easier for me to go indie with no regrets.

I'd like to thank Kallypso Masters for sharing her experiences with us. For more about her journey, or info about her books--along with some seriously hot teasing, please visit: Ahh, Kallypso . . . the stories you tell. 

For #1 in the Self-Pub vs Traditional Pub series, please visit: Self-pub vs Traditional Pub series #1