We all love to hear success stories in the indie world. Nothing can give us all a sense of I can do this! like hearing about other authors who have been successful with their self-published books. However, I think it’s important for people to see the other side of things. It’s the side most of us see, are all-too-familiar with, but is also the side which authors are often chastised for sharing. I think it is important to keep what it’s really like to be an author in perspective while still overcoming adversity.
Late last year I was releasing my 9th book since 2011 and my 4th book to be released that year. I had a marketing plan in place, and for the two weeks leading up to my big release, I did everything anyone and everyone had ever suggested indie authors do to increase sales and get the word out about the impending release. I had three fabulous PAs who were posting several times a week each in FB groups, they were posting about my new book on their PR company’s websites and social media pages, entering me into contests, and setting up blog and podcast interviews. I did takeovers, one of my PAs put together a fabulous cover reveal party followed by a release party via FB. I blogged, I did a blog tour, I had my street team in place, I had a review team in place, I sent out my newsletter and asked other authors to include the release in their newsletter as well. The book was the third in an on-going series so I dropped the price of the first book down to just $0.99, dropped the price of the second book which had just released less than 9 months prior to just $1.99, and offered the new release for just $0.99, all in a bid to drive sales for the new release as well as the rest of the series. I took to social media and did contests, giveaways, played games. Anything anyone had ever said would help on release day I did, and then some. I even went so far as to take out Twitter ads.
The result? The day of release I had a whole 3 sales, and only had 7 sales of the book that week. In all honesty, I’ve given away more copies of that book to blogs, beta readers, and contest winners than I have ever sold. I can’t tell you how many blogs actually posted about the release as it was all set up through my PA. Out of the 6 beta readers and 6 members of my review team I had enlisted, I received feedback from one of the betas and not a single review from any of them. Despite so many people posting, tweeting, and trying to drum up interest in the release, readers just weren’t biting.
While I am extremely happy for those authors who seem to ooze success with minimal effort, I feel it’s important for authors to realize that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we work or how much time, energy, and effort we put into something, sometimes success just isn’t in the cards. Hard work does not equal success. If all it took to hit it big was hard work, there would be la whole lot more NYT bestselling authors out there. I am a writer first, a business woman second. We struggle daily with trying to balance everything and it’s oftentimes crushing when we see so many authors succeeding when we have literally done everything in our power to get noticed and it just isn’t happening for us. While it can be devastating to see so many authors burning up the Amazon charts after we have busted our asses and have nothing to show for it, we should remember that we are so much more than just our sales. Sales, or a lack thereof, should not be a measure of our worth or our success as writers. So long as we love what we do, that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
I know a lot of you are struggling with sales, seeing your dreams slowly washing away with the tide, but just remember you are not alone. Don’t let your sales, or your lack of sales, define who you are. Those of us who write for the joy of spinning a great storyline will persevere. Just remember so long as you are doing what you love to do, nothing else really matters. Sales or no sales, you are still a writer at heart.
Taboo Tales Blog offers weekly new book release recommendations as well as a monthly newsletter filled with book recommendations in the romance and erotica genres ranging from sweet, no heat romance to full out XXXXX-rated erotica. Looking for your next hot adventure or book boyfriend? Check out Taboo Tales Blog! You won’t be disappointed.
Authors – TTB is offering FREE promo via their newsletter and website right now. Surf on over and click on PROMOTE for details.
Check out the latest edition of Full on Insanity with Nicola Matt. Today I had the pleasure of chatting with aspiring author Brian Snellings.
It’s live and just $1.99 through tomorrow only! Or get it free with your KU subscription.
Click here to purchase.
With the recent release of the movie 50 Shades Darker has come another shit-storm of discussions and accusations regarding the literary validity of the book and those who have enjoyed perusing the trilogy’s pages. While I certainly enjoy reading and joining in the debates, over the past few days I have seen a disdain for a social community at large that I find far more concerning than whether or not the books have any literary merit.
Many people in the BDSM community, both readers and authors alike, have been pointing out the glaring inaccuracies of the BDSM aspect of the storyline. What they are met with more often than not is the sentiment of “It’s just fiction, so it doesn’t have to be accurate.” While I agree with this to an extent, I think society as a whole is missing the bigger picture.
Why is everyone so quick to dismiss the BDSM community’s outrage at the inaccuracies in the book? Why are their feelings, and in turn their entire community and lifestyle, being swept under the rug as if they didn’t matter simply because the trilogy is “fiction?” Do their feelings and concerns not matter?
Let’s break it down. Had this story centered around any other social community or group – say a religious sector or the LGBT community – and contained so many inaccuracies, these communities would be in an absolute outrage over it. What’s more, society as a whole would confirm that these people have every right to be outraged. Why had the author not bothered to research that religion and/or community before having that work published? Why were these groups’ feelings, lifestyle, and community not taken into consideration before publishing something so inaccurate?
If that trilogy had been centered around some horrible tragedy, such as the Holocaust, and contained so many inaccuracies, society as a whole would be outraged, and people would confirm they have every right to be outraged. How dare the author not do any research before broaching such a delicate and emotionally charged event in history before publishing?
The simple fact of the matter is, people who read historical romance get incredibly upset if the backdrop to the story contains so much misinformation that it distracts from the story. The same goes for literature centered around real-world communities and groups or events. And for all intents and purposes, EL James shined a spotlight onto a very secretive group which never once asked to have society as a whole peek into their world and then basically insult them by telling them their community doesn’t count because EL James writes about fictitious characters. It’s absolutely absurd for people to think this, much less use the “it’s fiction” excuse when the members of this community try to educate the readers of this book as to just how inaccurate the BDSM portion of the books actually is. As an author, it is our duty to ensure our stories, despite being fiction, accurately represent the world in which they are set.
Yes, we can all agree that people loved this book because it was your typical “girl meets damaged hero and teaches him how to love” HEA love story. It’s a storyline that has been used for centuries. The problem lies when the author did not bother to do any research into a rich society that actually exists, grossly misrepresents their lifestyle and relationships, and never once acknowledge she may have been premature in such representations in her haste to get the books published. To compound the problem, because most people do not realize just how wrong the depictions in the books actually are, they do not understand why the BDSM community is so outraged about the discrepancies. And the more the community tries to educate people on why they cannot support the books, the angrier people get, once again dismissing the community’s lifestyle and standards as not being of any value or importance because “it’s just fiction.”
And this leads me to the whole point of this article. Exactly when did it become socially acceptable to dismiss an entire community of people simply because the average person doesn’t understand them? Why are their feelings and outrage over the gross misrepresentation of their community not valid? I had so hoped that society as a whole had come much further along than this.
If nothing else, many people have admitted that the trilogy was their “gateway book” which has led them to seek out books written by authors with a better understanding of the lifestyle, those who have researched the topic, who have or is currently living the lifestyle, or who just want to do their own works and their readers justice by providing them with a more believable fictional experience. Yes, it may be fiction, but that doesn’t mean research and work arent’ involved.
I only ask that readers keep in mind that the BDSM community exists. It is a society filled with loving people and relationships, and their chosen lifestyle has validity and they should be respected, even if it is within the pages of a fiction book. After all, fiction may be art imitating life, but misrepresenting the truth has far-reaching consequences when dealing with people, lifestyle choices, heritage, and society. This group of people exist in the real world, and both the people and their lifestyle have every right to be respected by everyone, even authors who write about fictitious characters.
I’ve been boggled recently by the number of authors who hold onto this stance that EL James somehow “invented,” made “mainstream,” or “legitimized” erotica. Erotica and the porn industry is a multi-BILLION dollar a year industry and has been for decades. You can’t get much more “mainstream” and “legitimate” when you are raking in that kind of sales every year.
The simple fact of the matter is, there were thousands of erotica writers already out in social media long before EL James came onto the scene, along with millions of erotic novels. James did not “pave the way” for erotica any more than Stephen King “paved the way” for horror or that Stephanie Meyer “paved the way” for vampires. People were already talking about erotic literature with their coworkers, erotic authors advertised their work on social media, there were already thousands of active forums and social media groups and websites devoted to talking about and advertising erotica, we were already discussing it in our book clubs, and we were already talking about it with friends. Erotica was already mainstream and a legitimate literature genre long before EL James. She may have become the poster child for the genre and made more money off of it than anyone else, but the genre was already very well established and doing very well long before her books were released. It is much the same way that while George Lucas and Gene Roddenbury may have made more money off of science fiction than many other sci-fi authors, the genre was alive and well long before they decided to join the ranks of HG Wells.
Erotica has had, and still has, a huge following, hundreds of millions of readers and thousands of authors all discussing the art form. All James’ books did was drawn in the very small minority of readers who had shied away from the genre. They picked up the book and began singing its praises. People who already read and appreciated the genre bought it to see what all the fuss was about, and most promptly tossed it to the side in favor of better writers because, again, they were already heavily into the genre and had been for years (multi-BILLION dollar industry, remember?). Despite the sales numbers, more people dislike the story than those who did like it, because again, there were more people already into the genre who were used to better written literature than there were “novice” readers who had just stumbled upon the genre. James’ success is certainly uncanny, but she certainly didn’t “legitimatize” the industry.
There has been websites dedicated to erotic literature for decades now, and many of these authors have a very large following and a lot of success. Case in point – the above screen shot. This is a snippet of a list of the most read erotic stories on an adult website I used to write for. In case you can’t wrap your mind around the number of reads on that first story, it is 11,073,078. That’s over 11 MILLION reads on that story. The next one is over 8 MILLION reads. Just the first 11 stories (and that site hosts hundreds of thousands of stories and authors) on that site have more than 45 MILLION reads total. That’s pretty damn “mainstream” and “legitimate” for a genre which everyone seems to think didn’t appear until James’ got published, especially considering some of those stories came out years before 50 Shades.
Let’s also not forget Anne Rice’s Beauty Trilogy which was also a very successful BDSM publication which came out in the 80s, and also her book Exit to Eden. In addition, there are also the hundreds upon hundreds of Harlequin novels and authors which have been around for decades. These weren’t books being read in the privacy of people’s homes, they were being toted around on school campuses, to work, being talked about on social media and in book clubs. The billions and billions of people who already enjoyed the genre were already talking about it. James just got the other 20% of the population talking about it, too. While that is certainly something to be admired, it hardly makes her a “founding father” of the genre. While *you* i.e. the small number of readers who weren’t already into the genre may not have noticed what was going on in the literary world prior to 50 Shades, erotica was being written, it was being talked about it, and it was being advertised just as much as it has been since 50 Shades was released. People just didn’t notice it prior to James. It’s like saying murder and all the horrible things in the world weren’t happening before the days of social and broadcast media. Yes, it was. It’s just much more accessible now thanks to the media.
In summary, James has without a doubt become the poster child for erotica. However, there is a huge difference between being the poster child for a genre and actually being the first person who ever wrote in it. It is also a huge stretch to consider her the person who somehow broke down barriers on a genre that was already raking in over $4 BILLION dollars a year and which had several million erotic books already on Amazon’s virtual bookshelves. A poster child she may be, but erotica was already mainstream long before she came along, and it will continue to exist long after the next big craze hits.
Had a lovely chat with International Bestselling Author Taylor Dawn. Check out the full interview below.