Posted in News and Appearances

#Bookland Adventures

So much is going on in #Bookworld at the moment.  Let’s do a quick recap of what’s happening out there. I’m not an expert and these opinions below are what I’ve gleaned from the posts knocking about on the web. It’s a bit of a long post but then, there’s a lot to talk about.

Sales Rankings

Amazon is stripping erotica authors of their rankings and making their books hard to find. Who knows why, it’s thought the latest SESTA/FOSTA act recently passed in US Congress. It’s a laudable aim and needs to be done. However, thought needed to be given to how this might affect online communities and social networks. I don’t know enough about this to comment so all I can do is draw it to your attention and let you make your own assumptions. There’s a good post here which gives another side of the conversation. https://stopsesta.org/ and https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/02/fosta-would-be-disaster-online-communities

It might still have to be signed by 45 but we all know the orange dirt bag idiot will do it. I may be wrong, but I doubt this US law affects other countries, just enforces censorship on the internet for US based companies and their affiliates as well as for any websites externally that sell into the US. So it impacts a huge chunk of the market ;( https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/28/sesta_passes_house/ 

Authors are understandably confused about how this will ultimately impact the whole publishing market.

Reddit have tailored back on their offerings, as has Craigslist. It’s only going to get worse as other companies fall in line with the legislation for fear of being held responsible for the actions of their users.

Someone on Kindleboards described it as a ‘purge’. Tymber Dalton wrote an informative piece about this down at tymberdalton.com. And in my opinion, she’s right, mostly. I disagree on one aspect. More about that later.

Facebook will be clamping down on the same thing, because where Amazon goes, I’ve found Facebook follows. (I personally think Bezos and Zuckerberg have a red hotline telephone where they discuss with eager glee how to fuck with authors and the publishing world.) It’s an old problem with Facebook, photos are being reported ad nauseum – innocent, bare chested men, book covers, innocuous pictures of men together –  and no one know what the hell Facebook sees that we don’t. More about that later as well.

We’ve had catfishing rearing its ugly head again. I’m not even going to go there because so much has said, I can’t add anything.

Publishers are closing down, some dealing with the meltdown professionally, others preferring to sink their heads into the red South African sand.

There’s probably much more going on, but this is enough for me to contend with now. My brain is close to exploding as it is.  So- what do we do about it? Well, I’m not sure what can be done about number 1 and 2. I guess everyone will have to see how it plays out and whether Amazon create a new category or platform for those affected authors to market their books. After all, that’s what Amazon does, right? Sells books we write so it can make a profit, more than we do in most cases. They are the megalith, the giant and we believe we need their platform to sell our books. This is true, but I still believe, even though they are a business and need to do what’s best for them, that a little communication and consultation would go a long way to becoming more professional about the decisions they make.

How do we get over this? There are ways. Tymber mentions one in her blog entry.

A.  Sell via your own website and bring that little bit of control into your own hands. You can do what the hell you like, post what you want, and readers should be encouraged to join us as we try and build our brand without external influences that are so fickle and dictatorial. Use this platform as your voice. Of course, at this point I have no clue whether selling , say, your erotica titles, into the US for your readers based there, is also impacted by this legislation.

B.  There are other sites like AllAuthor, Books+Bites and Queer Romance Ink. They work on our behalf, and while they may cost a bit of money, it’s worth it. We sell a product; we need to expect there’s a marketing cost for that, like any other company trying to get its product into the hands of would be buyers. No guarantees, simply a budget you wave goodbye to and hope like hell it gets your name out there. These links are all down on my website if you’re interested.

Facebook is a platform where one day we’ll lose all our mojo and when it goes, you need a back up plan. It’s time to start developing this now via your own website and finding other channels to get involved in.

What am I personally doing to try and help?

I’ve been promised a meeting with Facebook in London’s Head of Policy and PR. I know someone who knows him (two someones in fact) and have a great relationship with him. I want to present my petition to them, let them know our grievances and see if anything can be done.

https://www.change.org/p/susan-mac-nicol-equal-facebook-standards-applied-to-lgbtqi-community

I’ve instituted what I call a ‘class action’ (disclaimer- not a real one) against CoolDudes Publishing who’ve gone silent at all the concern regarding their authors and the books they hold. Being Me has a charity anthology published with them. I’ve written to the South African police, on behalf of all the authors and the complaint has been escalated to the National Consumer organisation in SA to handle. I’ve also told everyone down at Absolute Water Cooler not to have anything to do with them. Oh and I emailed Jeff Bezos directly (who came back to me -not him but he passed on my email to one of his senior operatives at Author Central) and he’s kindly given me next steps to have the book removed from Amazon.

For anyone, especially budding authors, who need help with social media trends, getting to grip with ways they can enhance their profiles etc, I already off coaching and Skype sessions to try and give advice. You can check it out on my website. I don’t say I have all the answers, but I’m pleased to announce I’ve helped my fair few find their feet.

https://www.authorsusanmacnicol.com/author-services/

I’ll try and regular updates as I get more details so make sure you follow/subscribe to my blog to get them.

Promotional Opportunities

As Editor in Chief at Divine Magazine, I’m offering any author who needs some exposure a free spotlight post if they wish. They can also upload their books to the site,  create their own author page, request a review and join the online community which is far less restrictive than other social networks at the moment.

Create Author Page

Join the Community

Upload Book to Site

Request a Review

Request an Author Spotlight – email us at editorial@divinemagazine.biz and we’ll get the material off to you letting you know what we need.

I don’t know what impact all this will have but I know one thing – you’ve nothing to lose by doing it and everything to gain.

 

Posted in News and Appearances

Bob Dylan had it right when he said the times they are a changin…

Batten down the hatches. I’m going in.  I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to the way we as authors promote. You might have noticed all the posts on my Facebook profile.

http://www.authormedia.com/why-traditionally-published-authors-should-not-pay-for-marketing/

I get this. I truly do. And there’s a huge element of truth in Reason #1 which has always been a huge bug bear for me. I need to know what’s working and what’s not when it’s happening, not when I get my quarterly statements. Publishers in general could do a lot to endear author confidence by having an online platform where authors can have up to date information on their sales, even if it’s not true ‘real time’. We’d at least have something. That’s why I like the idea of self-publishing. Indie authors do have better options, but they also must fork out the cash up front. It’s a decision one must make and in this climate of falling sales, readers being spoilt for choice, and the influx of new authors to the market every hour, I’m happy to let my publisher bear those costs.

I don’t agree that authors shouldn’t market themselves. We have a responsibility to build our own brand as much as the publisher does. Gone are the days where authors sit around imbibing cocktails and telling people smugly, ‘I wrote a book, you know,’ and watching their publisher do all the hard work. Authors are their own business. You might have a promotions company to manage most of your publicity and do the big stuff, but as a business, you personally must network, and build that brand. You’re not excluded from that, and to think you should be is naïve, no matter how much we’d simply like to drink cocktails and reap in those royalties.

I published this on my Facebook page recently and it garnered a lot of response. As it should. As authors we must move with the times and the vagaries of the market and have as many baskets as possible into which to place our marketing strategy. And yes, there may be cost involved with that.

http://www.authormedia.com/facebooks-2018-change-means-authors/

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

Facebook is only one of the outlets we use and it’s a biggie. It’s getting tougher by the minute to use it as a promoting tool.  Whether we like it or not, Facebook is a business when it comes to pages. If we want to promote and advertise, we need to pay for it, the same as we would elsewhere.  Facebook’s challenge is making it as easy and as cost beneficial as it can for its patrons. It’s about being able to read the results of a boosted post or campaign, have the information at our fingertips and see where we should be better spending our money. It’s about giving us the qualified information to make a choice. That’s what Facebook owes us. If they DON’T do this, then we have the right to complain.

While I hate to think they will one day monetise groups, depending on what the group was formed for, if it’s for promotion, pimping and author advertising to a selected target market- isn’t that the cost of doing business and shouldn’t we be paying for it? It might suck, but is it truly wrong?

It’s only a matter of time before other social networks decide to do the same.

If authors don’t want to pay for Facebook ads, boosted posts etc, then we need to look at where we can focus on moving our promotional efforts to places better suited. The areas we can control are our websites, our newsletters, our social networks to the point of building and maintaining a social relationship with readers, not a promotional one. Readers get to know us personally, they’ll remember us more when we tell them about something new coming out in conversation. Another area we have control over are author conferences, signing events and days out with readers to catch up.  Some of them are costly, yes, but we don’t baulk at paying for these like we do Facebook ads. Why? Because we can see the results face to face. We can see how many books we’ve sold, how many new fans we’ve made and how many we’ve happened to retain just by a hallo and a cup of coffee.

While I’m not an advocate for Patreon, or other arrangements like this (I’m not judging, it’s just not for me), I do know authors are using this to deliver bespoke material to select readers and eke an existence out of it. I have no idea how this brings new readers to an author’s book as it’s something I haven’t investigated. It works for some though and nowadays, anything we can do to encourage sales is relevant. It’s what works for you as an author that’s important.

The other way we can encourage book sales (although it can’t be measured) is with sites like

Queer Romance Ink

AllAuthor

Book + Main

Paranormal Romance Guild

The Romance Reviews

I belong to all of them, and while I can’t measure my success, I have access to time saving applications, preferential reviews, ease of social media use and a lot more. That’s valuable to me in terms of time and money. It gets my reach further out, via their web sites, and attracts people who might read my stories.

The trick here is to check the quality of what’s on offer and who is behind it. There are a lot of similar sites out there who promise a lot and deliver less. These ones I have a relationship with and I trust them.

On my website I have my own Bookateria which links directly to my publisher’s site to purchase, because I earn more royalties that way. I’m looking at creating a merchandise range this year as well. Who wouldn’t want Leslie’s sexy legs on high heels on a tee-shirt?  In short, I’m taking a long, hard look at everything I do to make sure it’s beneficial for me, and my readers.

Because times are changing and if we don’t move with it to become the creators of our own success, rather than rely on third parties like Facebook to do it for us, when that alarm bell rings for the final time, it’ll be too late. And as an industry, together, we can perhaps create a stronger genre where everyone benefits.

 

Posted in News and Appearances

Swagging along, singin’ a song…

This is something authors both love and hate. Love because it gives us an opportunity to be creative. Like a narcissus flower on the river, watching its own reflection, we gaze at our images and sigh in happiness as we emblazon our brand on various pieces of promotional gifts designed for giveaways or Author meets.

We hate it because yes, of course it costs us money, even though well spent, and also —bigger issue—what the hell do you do that’s different from what everyone else is doing? I’ve done tee-shirts, mugs, pens, postcards, all the usual, and I’d love to find something a little different. I did do the whole Tenga Egg thing, that’s true, but at almost £10 an egg, it’s not something I can envisage me doing again soon. It’s damn expensive. My own branded condoms were fun but again, not cheap. Book charms on necklaces worked well, and aren’t too expensive if you get them from Etsy. I also bought two Kindle Fires when they were very well priced. One is in my cupboard, and I’m not too sure what to do with it, the other has been promised as a Grand Prize to the wonderful shiMMer event coming up in July.

 (Talking about shiMMer, if you haven’t pre-ordered my books yet for signing, DO IT NOW!! There’s a great prize up for grabs for one of the people who do, a positively pleasurable cornucopia of treasures. This will be drawn after the pre-order window closes on May 24th).

I think I still have a signed Alfredo Roagui 2016 calendar somewhere as well. That was ordered from him via Etsy and took a long time coming from Mexico. I could see the dust settling on the gulch, as I thirsted away, waiting for them to arrive…and some Men of London magnets. I bought the wrong size, and they ended up being big enough to fit as an advertising billboard on the side of your car door.

I did however come across a fabulous site doing a great range of promotional flash drives. To me, this is an item that always comes in handy in today’s digital world. I purchased these from them and I’m thrilled at the way they came out. They aren’t the traditional USB; they’re much more compact and easy to pop in a wallet. These little beauties will be coming with me to shiMMer as well.

I still have more swag to order, and I’ll be visiting ye olde faithful Vistaprint or Etsy for some economical ideas. I’m thinking pens, notepads, smaller fridge magnets this time, and mousepads.

What’s your favourite form of swag, as an author or a reader/blogger? And if you have any great suggestions for anything you might have done and where to get it, please feel free to leave it right here….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fellow Authors, News and Appearances

Being Me Author Lunch event in London

event-banner

So, what do Susan Mac Nicol, Harper Fox, KC Wells, Sue Brown, Rhys Ethan, Aleksandr Voinov and RJ Scott have in common? Well, the answer is that they’ve all pooled their time and resources for one lucky person and their guest to join them at an intimate lunch event at a cosy, central London restaurant. You’ll both be wined and dined, there will be great goodie bags for you, and each one of these authors will sign a copy of a book you fancy having in your library.

Why are they doing this? One reason is they all love their readers. The other one is a little more serious. Susan Mac Nicol is a trustee for The Being Me Campaign — www.beingmecampaign.com — and this is one of the ways these authors are trying to help Susan raise money for the organisation. Susan’s fellow authors have been incredibly supportive giving her their time and contributing to the event. Ditto for the Being Me Campaign Chairwoman and co- founder, Tracy Shayler, who’ll be joining them at this dinner. So, there’ll be a table for eight set up for them- who will be the other two people who’ll be there for this evening of fun, food and laughter no doubt, and the opportunity to ask us anything you ever wanted to know about them, their books, the genre or the charity?

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Pictures will be taken and there may even do some live streaming from the event.

You can donate and participate here : Being Me Author Lunch Event  

The date of this dinner is Saturday 14th January 2017. A venue has not yet been determined but it will be in central London, chosen for easy access. The time is 12h30 pm. Dress is whatever makes you feel comfortable.

All you need to do to participate in this exciting event is donate £5.00 (or more if you fancy) to the charity over the next 30 days. The winner will be announced on the 22nd December, just in time for Christmas. Make sure you click the £5.00 donation sum if you’re only buying one. For every £5.00 you donate, you are entered into the draw again for the prize. There is only one winner chosen.

The competition is open to anyone all over the world of course because we didn’t want to discriminate. Logic tells us however flying in from abroad for this event might not be feasible. However, that’s your call if you donate* and you win!

We’re sorry that this event is limited to the UK but we didn’t see how we’d be able to facilitate this any other way.

There are some terms and conditions, and you can read them below. Please make sure you read and understand them because the organisers would hate you to be disappointed about anything. If you have any questions, please email susan@beingmecampaign.com

*There are limitations to this offer so please read the terms and conditions. chuffed.org also add 0.35p to your donation so the final amount will be £5.35. If you want to only donate £5.00, please enter the amount as £4.65. NOTE: chuffed. org will also add an optional payment to your donation- please ensure you remove this so you aren’t charged for it on the payment screen.

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Your donation constitutes your ‘raffle ticket’ to enter the draw. Should you not win the lunch prize, donations will not be refunded.

 The ‘Event’ – the dinner at which Attending Author/s will be present

The ‘Event Organiser/s’- the team arranging this event

The ‘Attending Author/s’ – one of the named authors appearing in the list of dinner guests

The ‘Winner/s’ – the person chosen by the random generator to be the head guest together with their chosen guest

The ‘Venue’ -the place at which the event is taking place and which is named above

The ‘Date’– the chosen date at time of your donation

The ‘Time’ -the time of the lunch event taking place

The ‘Parties’ – all the people attending the lunch event 

  1. These named ‘Attending Author/s’ have kindly agreed to be part of this ‘Event’ but the ‘Event Organisers’ reserve the right to substitute or cancel names attending should there be unforeseen events leading to one or more of them not being able to participate.
    Every effort will be made to substitute another ‘Attending Author’, but this is not guaranteed. 
  1. The ‘Date’ and ‘Time’ has been set and will not be subject to change by the ‘Attending Author/s’ unless there are extreme If this happens, the winners will be contacted and discussion for an alternative date will take place.
  2. If a rescheduled and mutual date cannot be arranged between the original ‘Parties’ within 1 (one) week, the original winner will be refunded their donation in full and another winner will be chosen to attend the lunch on the planned alternative date.
  3. *If the ‘Winner’ chosen is not based in the UK, or within reasonably close commuting distance, it is up to them, should their donation be chosen, as to whether they attend the event. This period of notification to advise whether they will attend will be limited to 72 hours after being informed of their winning status. If they cannot attend, then another winner will be drawn and after 72 hours, the same caveat will apply. Their donation will not be refunded.
  4. The ‘Winner/s’ will be expected to make their own way to the venue, and no costs will be borne by the ‘Event’ for any costs, transport, accommodation or other costs, incurred by the ‘Winner/s’
  5. The ‘Event Organisers’ also reserve the right to change the ‘Venue’. Every effort will be made to keep this event in the general locale of the originally named ‘Venue’ in central London.
  6. Unless advised otherwise prior to the event, the ‘Winner/s’ allow the use of their picture/s for anything taken during the event in any relevant social media streams and networks.

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If you decide to donate – thank you so much and we wish you the best of luck in the draw!

 

 

Posted in News and Appearances

Tea – and ginger biscuits

I need to write this. I’ve seen a few posts lately about authors getting despondent, wondering why they keep going. (I guess they’ve just had a royalty statement. My latest one from one of my publishers was crap, but I can at least buy a few cups of coffee and perhaps a bun with it. Maybe even buy a few Kindle books to support those despondent authors.) I hope this post cheers these authors up and makes them feel a little better about the work they do. Because it’s an amazing thing to do, writing and publishing a book. Never forget that.

I feel the same way some of the time. Writing is an insecure business. We authors wonder why we keep publishing books, why we put up with the vagaries of readership, fans, popularity. We sometimes wonder why, when others are rising to the top like cream with thousands of book sales, that while we seem to do okay, most times we’re that soggy ginger biscuit that suddenly fell into our tea, languishing at the bottom of the cup. *Cue pitiful sobbing* We’ve all been there, no doubt. I know I have. I’m a qualified ginger biscuit. That said, I’m thankful for every one of my sales and my readers. The readers make it all worthwhile and I treasure them.

THEY are why we keep doing it. It’s a simple basic truth, nothing profound about it. We do it because we love writing. We do it because creating worlds and characters where we can control them, make sure they get what they deserve, and make the world a better place through reading, is our mission. We do it because for every ONE single sale you make out there, someone is reading the story you wrote. Any sale is a good sale and those loyal readers who support us, wait for our next offering, cajole us, push us, inspire us, berate us, tell us how much they enjoyed our book- they are the reason we do what we do.

I understand for those authors who are fortunate (or unfortunate enough perhaps given the gist of this post) enough to make writing a full time job it’s a scary place. And my heart goes out to them when they fall short of what they expected or things get tough. Believe me, I’ve been there. I tried to be a full time writer for ten months when I lost my job, my house, my self-respect because I struggled to find someone to employ me. And trust me, I struggled. I had to get back into full time work and I was lucky enough someone took me on. So I know what it’s like to try make a living off writing alone.

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My hat goes off to anyone doing this and who keeps fighting. You guys are my heroes. I hope to be a hero too some day.

So remember – keep going please, because I’m one of those readers who love your stories. Who joins you on the journey you create for us to enjoy and escape into. And if you decided not to do it anymore, you’d be sorely missed.

 

 

Posted in Future Works, News and Appearances

Warning! Warning! – Gay Sex in this book!

I have to agree with this post from the lovely Alina Popescu. Thanks to her for starting this off. I’m probably going off on a bit of a tangent here, but bear with me. I think it will make sense in the end.

Alina Popescu article

nanny-state-poster-400x372In my opinion, this big, wide world of ours (not just Britain) is becoming a damn nanny state with its trying to protect us from ourselves. I may well become unpopular with this post, but you know what? I don’t really care.

Every day we hear and see things like this-

Don’t eat too much sugar, oh look, let’s tax it so people have to pay more for eating it.

Let’s hide cigarettes in plain brown wrapping and stow them away under the counter so people won’t be tempted to smoke.

And then there’s this – I can’t even…I mean WTF?? Really?

https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/04/two-kids-spotted-playing-on-a-beach-cops

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/18-examples-of-the-nanny-state-gone-wild

By the same token- let’s leave alcohol on show everywhere, make some cheap stuff so people can rot their guts, offer free drinks at Happy Time and generally promote drinking as a social pastime. I speak from experience when I say alcohol has been a huge detrimental factor in my family life (not for me but family members). It doesn’t stop me going out and buying a good bottle of wine though.

Why? Because I make the decisions for myself on what I’m going to drink, and how much.

I decide whether as a mother I give my kid a good slap on the bum because he or she is being a brat. I decide whether or not my kids can knock themselves on the forehead swinging conkers, or get a nasty scrape because they’re playing hop scotch. I decide whether to give a homeless person a sandwich or buy them a cup of coffee without Health and Safety breathing down my neck. Gasp! I even make the decision to eat that lasagne that’s over its sell by date. Sacrilege indeed.

So…. going back to warnings and preserving people’s sensibilities, (I told you I’d get there in the end) there are those who believe we should put them ad nauseum on books in case it offends or distresses someone. Hmm, let’s use Love and Punishment as an example of this type of warning

Love and Punishment2

This book is about two men in a relationship, features raunchy gay sex, bondage, kidnapping and assault, rolling pins being shoved up a man’s arse, various nasty scenes of aftermath killing spree gore, a psychopathic serial killer, a detective who believes the ends justifies the means, and a singular act of determined and gritty violence by one man protecting the man he loves that some people might not agree with. It defies social morals and norms and asks the question- how far would YOU go to keep the one you love safe?

Hell, you know what, maybe I should use that as the blurb. It sounds like an interesting book to me. This warning is so going on Facebook afterwards as a post of its own. So who’s scrambling to go buy it? I see you…you can run but you can’t hide.

Recently a fellow author and very well-known book reviewer trashed both me and Love and Punishment because she didn’t like the subject matter. I believe in retributivism and her crowd didn’t like that I’d expressed this personal fact about myself in my Author Notes; they also thought some of the scenes were gratuitous. Well, hell, I know it’s not everyone that likes having a scene where a rolling pin is used as a torture implement but it’s really not that bad. I mean, look at fisting. Are warnings given for that happening in a story? Worth Keeping dealt with sexual abuse and self- harm, Saving Alexander did the same, but I didn’t get flack for that.

WorthKeeping_Cover FinalBad things in books can often be used for good. A young man I know got in touch and said it had helped him, as a self-harmer himself, reading about what Nick was going through. Saving Alexander was used as a therapy tool by someone as a book for patients to read about and overcome similar things that happened to Alex. So it can go both ways.

I don’t generally put warnings on my books. Read the blurb and you’ll get the idea as to what a book is about. It’s about two men falling in love, telling their story and yes, hopefully having great GAY sex. If you feel uncomfortable reading the book, or don’t want to read about GAY sex, put the book down. Don’t read any more. If something acts as a trigger for you, please –put the book down. Let me be clear. I’m not belittling anyone who has had bad experiences and may still be suffering from it. But to be honest, me writing about strawberry pancakes or twinkling fairy lights may be a trigger for some people. An author can’t cover all eventualities.

One of my next WIP books is about a sexual predator priest abusing a young boy and then slaughtering his family. It has self-harm and I’ll make sure that factors into the blurb somehow so people know what it’s about before they buy it. If anyone has a specific concern about the content, I’ll answer them willingly and then let them make their own decisions about whether they read it or not.

Books are fiction. They are stories of fictionary people in fictionary situations. (I think that’s a great word, fictionary – I like it, not sure if it actually exists in this context but hey. I’m a writer. I get to make stuff up.) The author sets out to shock, make the reader feel emotion, empathise, sympathise, hate, adore, feel sick- it’s called writing. And if we achieve this, we’ve done our jobs. This group loved Love and Punishment by the way -it came third in a reader poll against some tough competition, not even in the M/M genre, but in the Thriller/detective category.

Competition win 3rdCaveat Emptor – Buyer Beware. Arm yourself before you buy a book. I like to think my covers and my blurbs give a reader an idea of what’s in the book. Reading a review or two before you buy also helps. Downloading the sample before you buy will help. Ask a friend. Use one of the wonderful reading groups we have on Facebook to ask a question if you even think there might be something in there you don’t like. I think there’s also a fine line between telling a reader what to expect overall and putting specific warnings about content in the preface/blurb to the book. I’d like to know the book I’ve purchased is MM. I don’t like cliff-hangers, so I’ll check out the book forums first if I suspect there is one or have heard there is. I’m not all that fond of ménage, so again, I’ll do my homework. But if I see the blurb talks about Larry, Curly and Mo in a relationship, I kind of think I’d have my answer. I’m not fond of mixed M/F and M/M sex scenes in the same book. I read both but don’t like it together. I won’t read twincest or incest. I’m not keen on every BDSM book out there, there’s only a few authors I read who I think tackle the subject well and with variety. And sometimes I’ll slip up and buy a book that has this ALL in the same story and you know what?

I pull up my big girl pants, forget that book and find the next read.

 

Posted in Fellow Authors, News and Appearances

Review Hype and How To Get Over It

This might be a bit of a long post but it needs to be said. I see a lot of stuff going around about how readers distrust seeing a lot of five star reviews for a book. I get that. What I’m asking people to do is take a step back and think about things for a minute. Yes, there are frauds out there who buy reviews. Yes, there are authors out there who get everyone they know, regardless of whether they’ve read the book, to pop a five-star rating on Amazon. Yes, the are those unscrupulous wankers who create different personas and then go give themselves a great rating. Go you.

5 stars

Here’s the simple truth. We are not all like that. Some of us earn our five star reviews. We don’t ask for them, we don’t solicit them, we don’t beg for them. Yup, we beg for reviews, but we don’t stipulate what rating they need to be. Reviews are unfortunately the lifeblood of an author’s business, enabling all sorts of things to go on in the back ground. Get a Bookbub deal; push our stories a little further in the ever changing and very confusing Amazon ranking system. We don’t like it any more than you do that we have to try push this aspect of our business. Because that’s what it is to us. A business.

We sell a brand- ourselves- in the hope someone likes it and buys it. The fact we enjoy what we do and would probably do it even if we didn’t get paid for it is beyond the point. We do it because we love to write our books and we love when people love to read them. Getting paid to do so is a great consequence and of course, we all love it when our royalty cheques drop through the virtual door, no matter how much. Anyone who says different is lying to themselves. It’s a validation that people like your work along with the things that DO probably mean more- messages you get from readers telling you this, the little comments you see about your work in groups and reading clubs, the postings on your Facebook wall when a reader wants to tell you how much they enjoyed your book. I love it when that happens. I do it myself too as an avid fan-girl of some authors. And Benedict Cumberbatch. And Adam Lambert.

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But when it comes to reviews, 99% of us prefer honesty. We prefer someone to tell it like it is, as long as you’re not a troll just trying to destroy something, good or bad. Then you deserve to be covered in tar pitch and set alight. (Disclaimer- no trolls were harmed in the writing of this post and I am not advocating or promoting BRAT – Bloody Revenge Against Trolls).

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The proof of this statement is in the pudding.  Everyone knows I’m friends with a man called Scott Burkett, a well-known book reviewer and blogger and true friend of the MM genre. He’s given me great 5 star reviews for most of my books. But he didn’t hold back on Stripped Bare, or Feat of Clay, both books he wasn’t 100% sold on. No 5 stars there. I’ll be interested to see what he makes of Cross to Bare. Author Diane Nelson is an avid reader of my books yet Cross to Bare? 3.5 stars. She didn’t like it as much as my others. My own PA, Kirsty Vizard- a 4-star review for Feat of Clay. My own beta reader Rita R gave me 4 stars for both Feat of Clay and Cross to Bare because they didn’t ‘speak to her’ like my other books. So I think it’s safe to say no one is being held to ransom to produce a spate of 5 star reviews ‘because we are friends’ or connected in some way. I prefer this honesty from my friends. I don’t want lip service or fawning absolution. I want people to tell me how much they enjoyed my books, so I can perhaps write a better one next time. Just keep it constructive. Flapping your lips and spewing vile diatribe (often totally ignorant) about a book or worse, the author themselves, is just asking for karma to come back and shove its fist up your arse without lube. (Those of you who’ve read Laverne’s story will recognise this action. And no, it isn’t a secret desire I have)

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Of course, while I take into account what people are finding negative in my books, I might not always agree with it. It’s my book, my story, and I’ll determine its pace and content, and factor in what I think I need to take out of a negative review. If someone doesn’t like that – well, that’s their prerogative. Just like its mine to write my story the way I want to. So I’m not going to race out and change my next WIP unless I think the reviewer has made a valid point, in my opinion as the author and based on what my beta readers and knowledgeable editor suggest. Again, I’ve been known not to listen to them either, in everything.

So please don’t think that just because you see a bunch of five star reviews on an author’s book, it means they’ve bought them or solicited them. That not only offends me, it offends the individual person doing the honest review the best way they know how and the professional bloggers who have no axe to grind either way and who run their business being honest and saying it like it is.

There’s a sure fire way to see whether an author is deserving of their reviews – it’s called a sample. The one thing Amazon is good at doing is providing you, the potential buyer, with a fairly hefty sample of a book you intending purchasing. Read it. If it appeals to you, then buy it. Of course, if you’ve read an author’s books before and loved them, thinking them worthy of five stars yourself, the chances are their next ones have the same appeal. If it isn’t a five star book for you; okay then. Perfectly acceptable. I’ve read books from favourite authors and thought ‘Meh’. definitely not a five, maybe not even a four. Some books I’ve read from those at the top of the charts, I’ve wondered how the hell they got there in the first place. Not every book appeals to everyone.  Put a review up and tell people why. Tell them what you liked, didn’t like. Your opinion counts.

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Read the blurb- make sure you want to read a book about men having sex with each other, ménage, BDSM, child abuse, and the like before you buy it. It’s all there for a reader to make an informed decision.

Then find a quiet place to read, make yourself a hot drink and get something to nibble (hot chocolate and crisps are my snacks of choice as I curl up in an armchair) and find out whether that five star review was truly justified.

 

 

Posted in Future Works, News and Appearances

Oh how the world turns…

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I think I’ve said this before but I’m going to bore you and say it again. I love my new role as a writer/published author/scribe/wordsmith/woman of letters….Whichever way you look at it, it has changed my life to the point where I meet the most interesting, supportive, funny and downright irreverent characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. And now that I have ‘branched out’ into writing stories about the world of the gay male romance relationship, it’s just got better. I do talk about things in this post that may offend sensitive viewers, so feel free to look away now. This specific genre group of writers is incredible. In the words of the ladies in that wonderful British sitcom, they are ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. Eddy and Patsy would be so enamoured with this lot.

You can read more about Ab Fab here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105929/ if you’re interested. It’s a classic if you like neurotic, sarcastic, chain smoking, drug popping and hard drinking women with attitude. And let’s face it, who doesn’t…

Anyway I digress. Back to this group of writers who have given me such pleasure over the past few months. Not the pleasure your dirty mind is thinking of, although …hmm, I guess there is an element of that when you’re reading hot, loving, gay man sex scenes…
Despite me being a newbie to the scene (in every way really, both writing and in this genre- my first book was only published August last year and my first M/M romance will be due out soon) they have taken me into the proverbial fold, offered me support and encouragement, some jaw dropping moments, an education beyond compare in the ‘ins and outs’ of writing this type of story and a lot of entertainment.

Like my beta reader for ‘Stripped Bare’ (a well-known author and gay man himself sense checking some of my scenes) coming up to me and saying ‘Sue, page 14 – honestly, cum doesn’t dry or travel that far.” Ahh. That’s telling me isn’t it. Right, I might have to revisit that bit. The realistic drying and distance of travelling cum needs to be addressed. (I have to say I think he said this for maximum impact when there were other people around who may not have known what we were talking about. He can be such a tease that way. I shudder to think what they thought but they were too polite to say anything if so.) And I have a feeling there will be more little gems of wisdom from my mentor before he’s through with me.

BTW which is the one more in use- cum or come? is this perhaps a US versus British spelling variation? Thoughts please…

There was the debate on whether a tongue stud will affect a blow job and if so, in what way? Good, bad? Anyone tried it, have an opinion? Of course they do. I am now enlightened up and beyond the call of duty on the effect of a tongue piercing on a man’s penis. There was also the whole online discussion about solo shower masturbation and whether men used this as their happy time to relieve themselves. That garnered quite a few responses.

Then there’s my personal favourite, another fellow author, also a gay man, who offered to ‘test drive ‘my sex scenes with his boyfriend so that my research could be validated. Whether it actually happened or not I have no idea but this man and his partner deserve a commendation for their commitment to duty. If there’s an Oscar out there for this, someone let me know. Maybe we should think of a name for it. Feel free to give me your suggestions. Not too rude please. It might have to be mentioned on national TV.

The wonderfully named Gayology101 forum on Goodreads is a complete eye opener and I thank the stars we have actual gay men and women answering questions that we straight women pose on their sexual activity. It gets a little raw in there I can tell you, but nothing we writers can’t handle in the name of ‘research’.

I mean, honestly, where else could one talk about these sorts of things without feeling like a pervert? And believe me, getting it right is extremely important. There’s nothing worse in my eyes that the research not being done properly and ticking someone off when they’re reading a book because it’s so blatantly wrong or unrealistic. You may not get it all right, and others may disagree with your take on some things but at least you tried like hell to do it right in the beginning.

Of course, all of the above applies to heterosexual sex as well, but I have a far better idea how that works, being an active participant myself. But when you’re writing about something you’ve never physically experienced or done (note I don’t say never visually experienced and I shall leave you all to ponder on the relevance of that statement) you need help to make it work. So befriending these authors, most of whom are more experienced in writing in this genre than I am, who have already run the gauntlet and had their men have mind blowing sex with each other, was a privilege and an honour. Discussing things in forums which may seem a little ‘out there’ was an education. Reading their books and finding out how they tackled the subject matter was enlightening and rewarding and most pleasurable. I doff my hat to them all.

All in all, I am enjoying this phase I’m going through and have every intention of continuing it. After all, David Sarnoff, businessman and pioneer of American radio and television, said:
‘Whatever course you have chosen for yourself, it will not be a chore but an adventure if you bring to it a sense of the glory of striving.’
Well, I am definitely striving…..so the path ahead can only be a LOT of fun.