Category: Writing

In Which I Battle Myself to Write This

“You don’t have to write anything,” I told myself. “All you have to do is to open up a new tab with Google Docs in it.”

Yesterday, I wrote something like 4-6 blog posts, which started catching me up on my goal. I figured I could probably get ahead of schedule today, without much effort. But everything has been effort today.

It hasn’t been a bad day; it’s been an inert day.

I’m not in a bad mood; I’m just effectively paralyzed by… I don’t know what. My mind, I suppose. My ADD is full throttle, so I’m constantly distracted by stuff. I’ll sit down at the computer, and three hours will have passed. What happened during that time?

It’s a mystery.
I looked up obscure shit on Wikipedia. I argued with some twat who was wrong about something stupid, and who won’t learn anything from the experience of me walking them step by step through the echoing halls of their own ignorance. I watched some pointless videos on YouTube. I pissed most of my day away, doing nothing.

And even as I told myself that there was still time to accomplish something productive today, I told myself back that I didn’t want to do anything productive. I want to do nothing. I want to do glorious nothing all day, all week, and for the rest of my life.

It’s a trap that I’ve fallen into before, and it can be hard to get out of.

So I’ve learned to fool myself into being productive. I tell myself that I can always procrastinate later, that I need to do something, just ONE thing, then I can get back to the abyss of mindless online nonsense. Or I can watch something on Netflix. Or I can pet the dogs for an hour. Or I can stare out the window, or at a wall. But I have to do one thing first: I have to open a tab with a blank Google Document in it.

This is a trick, and I know it. Fortunately, I’m stupid enough to fall for it, and I’ve been writing non-stop for over two minutes now. I’ve battled me before, and I know a lot of my weaknesses. A blank page is one of them. I’m compulsed to put something on it, and once I have that something, I’m compulsed to add to it.

My ADD, and my OCDish tendencies can cut both ways, and against my worst judgment, I use them to cut my way slowly forward, to make myself do something productive.

My doubts kick in. Is this even a good blog post?
I parry with my own laziness: it doesn’t matter if it’s good. As I learned in school, “D” means Done.
My anxiety lashes out at me. Am I saying any of this right? What if it nobody knows what I’m talking about? What if it offends people somehow? What if….
I dodge the attacks, using my own procrastination to avoid even thinking about the questions, let alone answering them.

And here I am, 511+ words down, with a minimum goal of 800.

Things are flowing faster now, and I’m getting into the zone a bit. I’m able to type out my thoughts freely. I’m in familiar territory, because I’ve fought myself this way many, many times before. I’m fighting an enemy so familiar that we might as well share the same brain, except the enemy IS my brain, or parts of it.

I spend a few minutes trying to look up an applicable quote, something somebody once said about attaching a yoke to their own lusts. It was an eloquent idea, and a sound strategy, but all I’m getting right now are Bible quotes, and I’m pretty sure none of them are close to what I have in mind.

The point of the quote–and of this blog entry, if there is one–is that when you understand that you can be your own worst enemy, and when you study this enemy, you can adapt to an extent, and you can overcome yourself. I’ve spent depressingly close to half a century analyzing my own thoughts and actions, watching myself carefully to figure out how I’ve screwed myself up in the past, and how I’ll screw myself up in the future.
I suspect that I’m not the only one who has this kind of problem, the problem of self-sabotage, the problem of being my own enemy.

I suspect that I’m not the only one who uses this kind of solution, manipulating myself coldly toward my own agenda of self-improvement and productivity.

But I also suspect that there are many people out there that don’t have it down as well. I didn’t, decades ago. I get a little better every year. And I wish somebody had told me, had shown me, many years ago how I could fool myself into being more useful in my own life.

As a writer, the first step is always to look at a blank page.

That’s often also the hardest step, because the thought of a blank page is sometimes the scariest thing in the world, something that you’d rather kill your entire day–and even eventually your lifespan–than to face head-on.
So break it down, to the basics.
Set your goals small, starting with opening up a new document.
It’s an easy goal, and you can lie to yourself that it’s the only goal, something worth doing just for itself.

But when you get there, and you’re looking at that big, white Empty, push yourself to go just one step further, just one tiny step, and
Write.

One.

Word.
If you’re like me, that’s the hardest part, the biggest demon you have to slay.
It’s a deceptively complex project (but don’t let yourself catch on to that!), because in order to write that one word, you have to have a sentence or a half-sentence ready. And once you have that first word written, it’s easier to finish that sentence than not. It’s easier to finish that half-sentence than not, and if you have half a sentence, it’s usually easier to finish that sentence than to not.
And once you have that first sentence down, the second sentence will come pretty easily, as will the one after that.
And before you know it, you’re at 1056 words, and even a D means Done.

Why I Don’t Use Trigger Warnings

[This blog post contains minor spoilers for my story “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus”]

I’m not opposed to the idea of trigger warnings. In fact, I think that they’re often a good idea. I personally like to check with DoesTheDogDie.com before I watch a movie, because I don’t like to wander into that kind of thing without advanced warning. It’s not truly a trigger for me, but it’s certainly upsetting. Likewise, I know any number of rape victims that have been unpleasantly surprised (and triggered) by a rape scene appearing in a film where there was no indication in the ads or previews. I can understand why trigger warnings exist.

 

I also understand that in erotica, rape/reluctant/violent scenes can turn what was supposed to be a perfectly pleasant experience into something horrible, or at the least upsetting and annoying. I want all of my readers to have perfectly pleasant experiences when they read my stories–that’s one reason why I write erotica in the first place.

While I do have the common author’s conceit of wanting readers to approach my stories without any spoilers, I also understand that when dealing with erotic short stories, it’s not as much of an issue. The plot is that somebody or some bodies have sex of some kind. Because people tend to have particular kinks and sexual tastes, knowing in advance what the sex scene is going to involve isn’t a spoiler–it’s advertising.

So for the most part, I’m cool with trigger warnings, even if they’d “spoil” part of the plot.
The main issue for me is that as an independent author, I work mostly through Amazon, and that means that trigger warnings could directly interfere with my business as a writer. Amazon has a very arbitrary set of standards that is sporadically enforced. They technically will not publish any books with rape scenes in them, for example, except for all of the books that that they publish that have rape scenes in them. “The Color Purple,” for example. And most dinosaur erotica. The difference being that Amazon is NOT going to yank “The Color Purple” from their electronic shelves due to content, but any indie or small-time erotica author could have their work(s) yanked at pretty much any time.

I went into the writing of my story “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus” with the idea that I’d go against the grain–and err on the side of caution–by having the human/dino sex be consensual. Oddly, during the writing of the story, a human/human rape-fantasy scene occurred as part of the main character’s back story. It’s not a particularly brutal scene, and I wrote it in such a way that it the rapist doesn’t exactly come out on top. But it is a rape/non-consent scene, even if it’s one that isn’t likely to trigger anybody. I’d gladly warn people about that plot element in the beginning of the book, or in the blurb, except that by doing so I’d be likely to attract the attention of Amazon’s enforcers.

Sure, they don’t seem to have a problem with countless beast-rape stories like “Taken By The T-Rex,” but the nature of the content often doesn’t seem to matter as much as whether Amazon has plausible deniability. If I, the author, mention that there’s rape-fantasy or non-consensual activity in a story, and somebody reports it, then Amazon would be more likely to take action.

Remember, Amazon’s applicable guidelines are as follows:
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200672390

Pornography

We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

 

Offensive content

What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.
So the hazard for including trigger warnings for rape-fantasy/non-consent stuff applies equally to most possible triggers that might appear in my work. My BDSM novel has scenes where the main character is tied, cuffed, or blindfolded. Those things might trigger some people. But if I acknowledge that those elements are included, the Amazonian hammer might come down on me for it. Even though they’d never consider banning “50 Shades of Grey.”

Another factor is the nature of what I write.

I don’t feel bad about not including a trigger warning on “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus,” because the very nature of that particular sub-genre, dinosaur-human sex, is that consent is rarely included. It’s mostly just straight-forward stories about dinosaurs fantasy-raping humans. Similarly, my story “The Octopunishment” includes (surprise, surprise!) tentacle-rape scenes. Again, that shouldn’t surprise anybody. Likewise, my story “Moonheat” has a werewolf-on-human nonconsent/rape scene, and the only surprise there might be that the werewolf is female and the human is male.

In general, I try to write within genre and sub-genre norms and expectations when it comes possible triggers. If I write superhero stuff, there’s going to be some violence, and probably varying levels of non-consent at times. If I write monster sex, it might well include rape-fantasy scenes. I don’t feel that trigger warnings are necessary when it comes to standard conventions of a genre or sub-genre.

If anybody out there is curious about my work, but has particular things that they’d like to avoid (or to seek out), just send me an email, a tweet (public or private), or respond to this post, and just ask.

Not In A Single Word

(The following blog post includes a spoiler for the musical Hamilton)

Bill Cosby once had a popular family comedy show in which he showed off his acting skills by playing a man who was not a serial rapist. In one particular episode of this show, this non-rapist character (Cliff Huxtable) is telling his daughter a story about wanting to learn to play the drums when he was a kid. He’d listened to some records, been blown away by the drumwork, and had eagerly rushed out to find a music teacher so that he could learn how to play the drums just as well as the professional musicians that he’d fallen in love with.

Here’s a 32 second clip of that story, which as far as I can tell will not provide Bill Cosby with any income if you watch it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPF3qqO1qFA

Young Cliff Huxtable tells the teacher that he wants to (insert un-writable Bill Cosby impression of somebody playing the drums really, really well), and the teacher responds by telling him to take his drum sticks and practice hitting a wood block slowly, like this: Whack…Whack…

The point is that if you want to be great at something, you have to start out small, mastering the fundamentals and the most basic elements of that something. It’s only when you’ve gotten that stuff down that you can learn to put them all together into something great. This applies not only to playing the drums, but to most things, writing included.

This is why grammar and punctuation is important: they’re the fundamentals of writing. If you don’t learn to master those, then you won’t become great. This is because great things can often hinge on a mastery of basic elements.

Most writers want to skip ahead, just like young Cliff Huxtable did. They want to jump right to the fancy stuff, without putting in the years of practice on the fundamentals. I don’t blame them one bit, but learning the fundamentals is important not only because it allows you to avoid embarrassment, but also because it allows you to do amazing, incredible things, to communicate worlds of information with something as seemingly inconsequential as the placement of a single comma.

This is where we get to the Hamilton spoiler(s).

In the musical, Alexander Hamilton marries Eliza Schuyler. One of Eliza’s sisters, Angelica, moves overseas, and she and Alexander maintain regular correspondence by writing letters back and forth. Alexander always begins these letters “My dearest Angelica,” with the comma in the proper position, after “Angelica.”
Until one day he doesn’t.

In the song “Take A Break,” Angelica sings about the importance of that comma, because it changes position:
In a letter I received from you two weeks ago

I noticed a comma in the middle of a phrase

It changed the meaning. Did you intend this?

One stroke and you’ve consumed my waking days

It says:

“My dearest Angelica”

With a comma after “dearest.” You’ve written

“My dearest, Angelica.”

 

Here we have two characters who are in love, and who cannot be together. They cannot directly express their feelings for one another, due to sense of propriety as well as perhaps the pain of putting their feelings to words, when they cannot act on their feelings. Hamilton instead lets Angelica know indirectly how he feels about her, and he does it simply by moving a comma.

Angelica asks, “Did you intend this?”, but my impression from the musical overall is that she knows he did. She’s just experiencing the “I can’t believe he feels this way back” sort of disbelief that can happen when love is requited.

In her heart, she knows. She knows that he loves her, that he holds her in his heart in some ways higher even than his wife: “My dearest, Angelica.”

That one comma placement switches the meaning from a simple and polite expression, from technically expressing that of all the Angelicas that exist, that she is the most dear to him, to a declaration that of all the people in the world–presumably his wife included–Angelica is the most dear to him, the most loved, the most cherished. That slight movement of a comma is the difference between a prefatory acknowledgment that could be skipped over, to something that consumes a woman’s waking days.

It’s the kind of thing that a writer can only pull off if they know what they’re doing, if they have the right level of authority with their reader(s). If Alexander was always sloppy with his commas, sticking them routinely in strange places, Angelica wouldn’t have noticed the comma’s movement at all. Any deliberate message would have been lost in the general mess of Alexander’s writing.

Instead, because Alexander knew what he was doing–had mastered the fundamentals–and because he had demonstrated his knowledge of the fundamentals often and well enough for Angelica to know that he knew what he was doing, he was able to convey to her an entire world of emotion–not in a single word, but in a single goddamned comma.

That’s why you have to Whack Whack, before you can dit-dit-ditta-dit while you ding-ding-dinga-ding.

I Got Mentioned in the “Loving BDSM” Podcast

 

My Fucking Day Job keeps me pretty busy physically, but not mentally. Consequently, I have long and boring periods of time where I don’t have the opportunity to read, but I am perfectly able to entertain myself by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I try to use this as an opportunity not just to be amused, but also to further my education on my craft, as well as the world in general. I listen to classic novels, in order to study the great writers. I listen to many modern novels for the same reason. I listen to non-fiction audiobooks on subjects that I think might help me strengthen my key weaknesses as an independent writer: self-promotion and sales. I also listen to a lot of stuff just for ideas, and to broaden my knowledge of the world in general, as well as my knowledge of more specific areas of expertise that can come up in my writing.

One of the podcasts that I am subscribed to is the “Loving BDSM” podcast, by Kayla Lords and John Brownstone. Kayla is, in her own words, “a masochistic babygirl,” and John Brownstone is her Daddy Dom. Their podcast is about BDSM relationships, but is less geared toward the technical details of mechanics and biology, and is more focused on how to form and maintain strong, safe, and loving (if desired) relationships in the context of BDSM and the BDSM community.

I stumbled onto their podcast while searching for more information on BDSM relationships, because I’ve written some BDSM stuff in the past, and plan to write more in the future. Their podcast was useful in this regard, but I also quickly became charmed by the couple themselves, and have become quite a fan.

The Loving BDSM Podcast has a Bonus Section at the end of each episode, where they engage in general chitchat, discuss tangents that didn’t make it into the episode, provide updates about their lives, and so forth. Another thing they do in the Bonus Section is to discuss the postcards that they get from their fans.

I toyed with the idea of sending them a postcard, because I thought it would be nice to hear my own name mentioned in one of their episodes. I got the idea at some point that instead of mailing them a local postcard, I’d try to have a postcard made off of the cover of one of my books. I considered doing this with “Letting Go,” the romantic BDSM novel that I co-wrote with Kelli Roberts, but eventually settled on my story “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus,” because I love that cover in particular, and I thought they’d get a kick out of it.

Then I procrastinated for a long while, and recently decided that it would be simpler to just mail them a physical copy of the book, because it’s one of my stories that is long enough to work with Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing feature. So I mailed them a copy of the book, along with a note thanking them for their podcast.

Then I waited almost a full week to see if they mentioned me on their podcast.
AND THEY DID!!!!

More than just a quick “ we got this thing from Richard Bacula,” they spent a bit of time discussing the book, and Kayla read the back of the book for her listeners. I knew that it’d feel good to hear myself mentioned, but I was surprised at how over-the-top happy it made me!!

It’s a small thing, but it’s one of those things that makes me feel like a real writer. Thanks to working with Kelli Roberts on “Letting Go,” I’ve seen my name in a couple prominent places before. We got a press release on the AVN (Adult Video News) website when the book came out, and a couple of years ago the novel got a mention in Women’s Health Magazine as a way for couples to spice up their love life (i.e., read this book it will make you both horny), and while those were each certainly an absolute blast to see… this mention in a podcast with a much smaller audience than AVN or Women’s Health gave me as big of a thrill, perhaps more.

It’s one thing to see your name in print somewhere, and it’s another thing to hear it, and to hear people talking about your book. Hearing it makes it all seem more real somehow. I wrote a thing. I self-published it. I got a physical copy of the book. I mailed that copy to a couple of strangers. And They Talked About It!!

So I’m in a good mood.

This is the kind of success that is in some ways more important than direct sales, because morale is often at least as important than money when it comes to writing, at least for me.

 

Anyway, if you want to hear what they had to say about my book, you can listen to the entire episode here:
What You Can and Can’t Say in a D/s Relationship LB130

 

(Or just skip to about 59:47, if you just want to hear the part where they talk about me!)

Finding Words And Thoughts

It’s the 19th of May, and my challenge this year is to write a new blog post for each day of the month. So far, I’ve written only TEN blog posts! That’s not great. I need to catch up, and I need to do it fast. I’ve set an 800 word minimum for my posts this month, so if you’re following my blog you should probably expect to see a number of upcoming posts that are short and hopefully sweet, things that I churn out quickly in order to get to the next post.

I’ve gotten quite good at doing that kind of thing with short stories, but blog posts are a different kettle of fish. With writing short erotic fiction, especially stuff in the 800-word range, the only thing to focus on is the sex itself. There’s no time to say much else in that kind of project, although other stuff can be squeezed in. With blog posts, it’s all saying other stuff, which is less in my area of expertise than with writing highly-detailed sex scenes.

As I’ve mentioned before, the key to cranking out a lot of writing fast is learning to get out of your own way. You have to push all of your doubts aside, shove your insecurities into the basement and lock the door. You can’t spend time second-guessing or third-guessing everything that you type, because you’ve got to get through the word-count and move on to the next project, then the one after that, and so forth.

This is also where it becomes important to be what they call “fluent in writing.” Writing is a kind of language all its own, different from and more difficult than speech. Being fluent in writing means that the time it takes to translate the thoughts in your head onto the page are minimal. Ideally, you can more or less type out your thoughts as quickly as they occur.

Learning fluency in writing takes time and effort, which is why most writers hand out advice like “write every day” or “keep a daily journal” or so forth, because learning fluency takes a lot of practice. When you first start writing, it’s difficult because you have all this stuff in your head, and it’s hard to get it onto the page properly.
You might envision a tall, muscular, dark-haired man with a mustache, with a basket-hilted longsword on his hip, a cloak on his shoulders, and a top hat on his head, riding a black seventeen-hand Shire stallion with lovely brown eyes that match his light brown leather horse tack. This man is riding quickly, but not at a full gallop, and he’s in a forest of Scotch pine. The full moon is high in the sky, but the forest is still dark. He’s in a hurry to reach his true love, but he’s wary of the bandits that sometimes set upon unwary travelers in this forest.

You might, in your early years of writing, write that down as “James rode Augustus through the woods,” and then be completely puzzled why your friends and family aren’t blown away by what is–in your imagination–a very powerful scene. That’s because you haven’t learned the language of writing yet, so important details were lost in translation.

Fortunately for me, I have wasted decades of my life arguing meaningless minutia with people on online message forums. I started out on dial-up Bulletin Boards, and continue to some degree to this day. More fortunately for me, I have always had in my head an inkling that I wanted to be a writer someday, so as I was typing furiously back and forth with all those people online, I tried to use it as practice. I put forth some level of effort in everything I wrote, trying to make sure that things were well-spelled, well-punctuated, and whenever possible cleverly phrased. The net result of all this is that I am fairly fluent in the language of writing, to the point where I can usually write rather smoothly, with little to no need for serious editing or rewrites. Usually.

Another helpful factor is that I have always been a big reader, and it is always helpful when learning a new language–such as the language of writing–to immerse yourself in that language. The more you drink in, the easier it is to spit back out. You can subconsciously learn all sorts of rules and subtleties of the language that aren’t taught in school, and you find it easier to think in that language as well, minimizing the translation required to put your thoughts to paper.

All of which is to say that when it comes to blog posts, I know that I’m capable of the speed which will be required for me to catch up to my goal, and to complete my May Challenge for this year. The main obstacle will be finding enough material to write about. All the fluency in the world is of absolutely no avail when one runs out of things to say.

Why I Don’t Review Fellow Authors

I don’t review other authors, not as a rule. This is for several reasons, starting with the fact that many of my fellow authors’ egos are easily bruised. I, on the other hand, went to college specifically to study the craft of writing, and I experienced years of peer review sessions where my work was constantly judged by my fellow classmates. This judgment was not always kind, and was sometimes even brutal.

That was fine with me, and with most of the rest of the serious writers in the classroom, because what we wanted most was to know how we could improve our work. Yes, praise for the things that we did well was important, but we also needed to hear what our areas of greatest weakness were, and how to fix them. That’s not the kind of lesson that we could learn if we were easily hurt by hearing what other people really think of our writing.

Consequently, I’ve built up a callous that many other indie writers often seem not to have.

Another factor is simply my own decades of internal critiques and analyses of various popular works. When I read a book, watch a movie/play/TV show, listen to a song, and so forth, I always come away from the experience with a list of praises and complaints. I vivisect the writings of others, and I discuss writing with other people, and I read reviews. All of which has thoroughly demonstrated to me that audiences as a whole have very different tastes in entertainment, writing included.

There have been many popular works of entertainment or education that I have personally loathed, and have felt were absolutely horribly written. That doesn’t affect their popularity. Likewise, there have been any number of critically panned and/or unpopular pieces of entertainment or education that I have personally found quite enjoyable and/or well-written. Again, my opinion doesn’t affect the overall popularity or success of the work. Just because some people dislike something doesn’t mean that everybody else will, and just because some people think that something is bad doesn’t mean that everybody else will agree.

I’ve learned over time to not take bad reviews very personally, because everybody has a right to their own opinion, but that opinion doesn’t necessarily mean much about how other people might view the same work.

Moreover, there are quite a few works of entertainment that are masterfully written, but that are simply not to my particular tastes, and there are any number of works of entertainment that are poorly written, but that I personally enjoy. Quality is only one aspect of appreciation, and personal taste accounts for a lot.

So when receiving reviews, I tend to take most criticisms in stride simply because I’m not likely to be much affected by one person’s opinion of my work. Not all authors have the same attitude, however, and cannot seem to take my review of their work as simply my personal view of their work, as just Some Guy’s Opinion. They can often take it personally, no matter how politely, and/or gently I try to express myself to them.

For that matter, some authors don’t even want reviews to be gentle, and can take that kind of soft serve response as an insult in its own right. Even when attempting to determine what kind of author I’m dealing with, what kind of feedback they’re looking for, I’ve inadvertently hurt people’s feelings. After reading one author’s work, I asked how they wanted the criticism, if they preferred it to all be super-nice, or more toward the soul-crushing side of things.

Just the fact that “soul-crushing” was a possible end of the spectrum greatly upset this author.

All of which wouldn’t matter much, except that there’s often a lot of drama that goes along with hurting another author’s feelings. Especially as an indie author, I try to avoid feuds and drama with fellow writers. It all gets in the way of accomplishing my goals of writing and selling my own stories. I’ve seen too many other authors get caught up in drama following a review of a fellow author’s work, and I’ve rarely seen it pay off very well.
Even if I was willing to deal with that kind of thing, yet another factor is that I don’t have nearly as much free time to read as I’d like, and I already have a reading list that would take months or years to get through. Adding to that list, only to end up hurting another author’s feelings, is not a particularly enticing opportunity.

In short, I am a picky reader who is likely to find some kind or level of fault in almost anything and everything that I read, and in my experience most indie writers cannot deal well with people pointing out their faults. That’s perfectly fine; I’ll be quite content to avoid reviewing them for that reason.

Of course, there are always those authors who feel insulted when they don’t get reviews at all.

TWITTER!! Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For!?

Twitter first caught my attention until I was Googling myself one day to see if I was famous yet, and I found a conversation where people were tweeting about various dino-erotica titles and covers, and somebody mentioned that they liked the title “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus.” I made a Twitter account, and it swiftly became my main social media format. I tried Facebook back in the day, and I don’t like it. I have a FB account currently, but I keep forgetting that it exists, so it’s poorly maintained. Likewise, I’m on LinkedIn, Tumblr, G+, and probably some other stuff that I don’t remember. Twitter is the main one that I use.
Occasionally I’m asked if Twitter is good for promoting one’s work, and the short answer is that no, it’s not. Granted, I’m not good at optimizing self-promotion. Granted, self-promoting via Twitter is better than nothing. Still, in my experience, it doesn’t yield very much in returns.
For a stretch of time, back when I just had ~10 titles on Amazon, I spent about an hour on Twitter every morning, and another hour every evening, faithfully tweeting and retweeting and interacting and such. The net result was that for as long as I kept up that level of activity, I’d make about $10/month. Then when I slacked off, sales would trickle down to zero, or very close.
As I said, Twitter is definitely better than nothing. $10/month is–looking at straight numbers–infinitely better than $0/month. The problem is that it’s still just $10/month.
I figured okay, but I only have 10 titles right now. That’s about an average of $1/title/month, so if I get 100 or 1000 titles, I’ll be pulling in much more money for the same effort. But I don’t have that many titles. I ran into a bottleneck in my production, one I’ll talk about later: cover art. I still believe that IF one has enough titles, and IF one is active enough on Twitter in the right ways, it CAN get a decent financial return for the effort. But there are most likely other, better returns out there for the same amount of effort.
Twitter’s strength is quite simply NOT promotion.
Twitter’s strength is making connections.
It’s not hard for any indie writer on Twitter to fall into a network of other indie writers. We all occasionally (at least) ask people to buy our books, and most of us don’t do much buying of other people’s books in return, because most of us are poor and/or don’t have as much time to read as we’d like, and/or are picky bastards who became writers in the first place because most writing isn’t up to our standards.
While Twitter friends might not overall be the best buyers, they can become invaluable assets in one’s writing career. You can find beta-readers, editors, writing partners, and business opportunities that you might not be able to find otherwise. I’ve made a number of friend connections that aren’t just fun, but that help me focus on what I need to focus on most: writing.
My friend @AngoraShade, for example, is fun to shoot chitchat or food pictures back and forth with, but she’s also an invaluable beta-reader, somebody to exchange tips and information with, somebody to help boost morale, and so forth. We’ve passed ideas back and forth, tipped each other off to tempting anthology calls, discussed experiences about different formats and websites to share our writing on, and so forth.
A good friend/contact can be more important than finding dozens of customers. I have made dozens or hundreds of dollars over the past several years trying to use Twitter to self-promote, but I have made thousands of dollars by making connections via Twitter.
Most of this came from a single opportunity in the form of an encounter with erotica writer, AVN-nominated, and webmaster Kelli Roberts. We ran into each other online, and I ended up shooting her a link to my free erotic Halloween story “Corn Hold.”
She was impressed enough with my writing that she brought me in on a project she was working on, a romantic BDSM novel called “Letting Go,” a work designed to ride the wave of the “50 Shades” popularity, only with better sex scenes, and written not only for those unfamiliar with BDSM, but also for the more experienced crowd.
While the project didn’t turn out as profitable as we had hoped, due to our major promoter all but backing out of the deal, it’s still my most profitable endeavor to date, as well as some of my best work. I was able to pay some bills when the book debuted, and again when it got a mention in Women’s Health Magazine.
(Incidentally, the ebook version of “Letting Go” is free until May 11. So get a copy now!)
That’s the best way to use Twitter: use it to connect with the right people and opportunities. You don’t want to spam out random pitches to everybody, but you can get to know all sorts of people over Twitter. People are accessible on Twitter in ways that you just don’t get on other social media. You can tweet at a celebrity or a large business, and you have a chance–maybe a very tiny chance–of them responding to what you’ve said, compared to a cold email that would likely just end up in the spam folder.
Twitter is a useful tool, but it’s better for the precision work of pointed, deliberate connection-making than it is for just spamming out blindly and hoping for results.
At least, that’s my personal experience with it.