Tag: Advertising

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!)

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.

Being An Invisible Writer

Conventional wisdom is that independent authors can’t ever achieve success by going around asking everybody they meet to buy their books, especially if they do it by spamming out social media posts, emails, and what not, asking people to do exactly that with no other introduction. Conventional wisdom is correct.

What you’re supposed to do is to come at things a bit more sideways than that. You have to create a “platform,” some kind of format or forum where people come for something other than your for-sale writing. Once you have the crowd good and hooked on whatever free thing or things you’ve been giving them, then you casually mention that oh, you’ve happened to have written something that happens to be for sale, in case anybody is interested. By this time, the people all know you, and they presumably like you, and they’ll be much more likely to be interested in whatever it is you happen to be selling.

Conventional wisdom is very likely to be correct again… but it doesn’t do me any real good at this point.

I’ve put in the time and effort to study my craft at a national university. I got my degree, but it’s not bringing me any money, so I have to have a day job to pay my bills while I try to fend off the student loan jackals repeatedly. I’m not asking for pity here–it’s all perfectly normal, and I’m not exactly a starving artist. But if I had it all to do over again, I’d do things differently, because the only real skill I picked up in college is writing itself.

I have the skills it takes to weave (hopefully) compelling stories, full of interesting characters and/or situations. I do not have the skills required to make a podcast, or to have a YouTube channel, or whatever else it takes to build a decent platform. So it seems to me a bit like going to law school, then graduating to discover that all lawyers must hand-build their own office before they can take any new clients. It’s a bit frustrating.

Not only do I lack the skills it takes to build a pre-existing audience for my work, I also lack the time. It can take years of dedicated work to build up a decent base of potential consumers who are all interested in you and what you have to say, and I’m in my mid-forties. Taking on what is essentially an unpaid second job, in a field I’m uninterested in, and spending a few years at it before seeing real results, just doesn’t seem like something that I’m realistically able or likely to do.

All of which means that I have to find other ways to let the world know that I exist.

I mean, sure, I’m going to try to work on my platform, and my brand, and so forth. That’s one reason why I’m dedicating this entire month of May to adding to my much-neglected blog. Blogs, actually, because in addition to my old Goodreads blog, I’ve set up another blog on WordPress, and it’s seeing some activity already. I only started my WordPress blog five days ago, and I already have 13 followers. That, plus my 150 followers from my Goodreads blog means that I have a potential platform of 163 people. Maybe it’ll increase significantly by the end of this month, and much of my irritation and hand-wringing about platform-building will turn out to have been for naught. I doubt it, but that’s okay–I have other plans.

Because I don’t envision much success with building my own platform, I plan to try to figure out ways to use other people’s platforms. For example, this year I’m focusing more on submitting work to anthologies, because while I only get a one-time fee for that kind of work, the people putting together and selling the anthologies are going to do the heavy lifting when it comes to promotion. The people will hear about the anthology because of the antho-makers’ platforms, and when they buy the book, they’ll read it, see one of my glorious stories, and think to themselves, “My! Who IS this Richard Bacula chap, and where can I read more of his wonderful writing?” Then they’ll go to Amazon, see my 30-something titles currently available for sale for as low as 99 cents (ahem!), and perhaps make a purchase or two.

Similarly, I plan to look into doing some guest blog posts on other people’s better-supported, better-promoted blogs. If you’re reading this, and you have a blog with any kind of decent following, and you might like a guest post from yours-truly, let me know.

For that matter, I’m always open to co-writing short fiction with other authors. There are plenty of authors who have the opposite problem that I do–they’re significantly better at promotion than they are at the actual writing part. For that matter, there are non-authors who have a platform and a following, and who haven’t really considered breaking into the erotic fiction market, and who could use a talented co-author like myself. Again, if this sounds like it might describe you or somebody you know, contact me or have that person contact me.

As things are, I feel that my main obstacle is simply getting the world to know that my writing exists. My sales currently make my writing a fun hobby that brings in beer money, or the occasional minor windfall like when my BDSM novel (which happens to be free for Kindle today if you want to check it out) “Letting Go” was mentioned in Women’s Health Magazine a couple years back.

I guess that’s all that I’ve really got to say at this point. I’ve got some other irons in other fires, and some secret schemes to rocket me to the top, but nothing really worth discussing at this point.

See you next time!