Friday, July 27, 2012

Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland

Today I'm interviewing Melinda DuChamp, writer of the recently released ebook Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, currently free on

It has, without a doubt, the best ebook cover I've ever seen. Besides being funny as hell, the cover art instantly announces the subject matter: a light-hearted erotic parody of a famous classic fairy tale.

Where did you get this cover?

Melinda: I'm a regular reader your blog, and I contacted Carl Graves at Extended Imagery, listed in your sidebar. The mushroom is actually real. There are a whole group of mushrooms with phallus in their names. Carl did a great job making it look fairytale-like. Rob Siders at 52 Novels did the formatting. I was very pleased with his professionalism as well. 

Joe: I've read the book. It is very funny, and also pretty hot. 

Melinda: Thank you so much! The original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was very funny for its time, and the story is a true classic; a girl goes into a magical world and meets talking animals and strange characters. But I'm not sure if all of the humor holds up today. Some of the jokes and the puns are no longer relevant. I tried to keep the same tone, albeit more adult-oriented. So there are some amusing rhymes, and lots of silliness in action and dialog, in my version.

Joe: But this is for adults...

Melinda: This is definitely for adults only. While I kept the clinical terms used to describe anatomy and physical relations work-friendly PG-13, the action is a lot more explicit than that.

Joe: Reading this at work would be... uncomfortable.

Melinda: Thank you! You're sweet.

Joe: I never read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I take it there are a lot of the same types of kinks described.

Melinda: Yes. Some bondage and spanking and toys and four-ways and other fun things. I followed the structure of Carroll's novel, and had Alice run into many of the same characters, but with a modern, erotic spin on them.

Joe: Melinda DuChamp is a pen name. What else have you written?

Melinda: I have over twenty years of experience writing professionally, in many different genres. Name a publisher, I've probably done something with them. 

Joe: How many novels?

Melinda: Over fifty.

Joe: Is this your first self-pubbed ebook?

Melinda: Under this pseudonym, yes. 

Joe: I assume you have some sort of following with that many books under your belt. Why use a pseudonym?

Melinda: My mother reads all of my books, and I decided this one was a bit too spicy for her.

Joe: I haven't read a lot of erotica, but I do have some old, dog-eared copies of Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, which she wrote under the name A.N. Roquelaure. I found some of it arousing, and some of it extreme to the point of being a turn off. It went too far with the pain, in my opinion. You've got some BDSM stuff in Alice, but it is more playful than painful.

Melinda: Those are pretty raunchy books, and by the end of the trilogy Beauty had been beaten so many times I felt she needed to be taken to the ER! I wanted Alice to have an edge, and to be arousing, without the intense subjugation and pain that often occurs in many similarly themed erotica novels. Subjugation between consenting adults is fine, but I was never turned-on by being beaten or humiliated to tears. Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland has a lot of kinky sex in it, but I find the path to arousal and release more erotic than graphic descriptions of men and women being caned or whipped. But that's just one gal's opinion. Different readers have different tastes, and no one is right or wrong when it comes to their fantasies. 

Joe: Why did you start self-publishing?

Melinda: I've had shelf novels that never sold for various reasons, and it seemed like an obvious way to supplement my income. Now they have become my main source of income.

Joe: Would you go back to legacy publishing?

Melinda: I go where the money is. When my agent gets an offer, I listen. But the offer has to be serious to make me consider it.

Joe: So why call it Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland?

Melinda: I'm not above riding on coattails, and I don't believe Ms. James will mind, considering the inspiration for her trilogy. 

Joe: The tagline on the cover says "Inspired by true events." Care to elaborate?

Melinda: A lady doesn't kiss and tell. But I encourage readers to read Alice and pick out which scenes are based on fact, and which are completely made up.

Joe: Will there be a sequel?

Melinda: It depends how well it does. I've done many love scenes in my books, but never a full book of erotica. Alice was fun to write, and I do have some ideas for a follow-up, but this is a business, and I try to pay attention to what readers want. Only time will tell if they want more Alice...

Joe sez: This book really is hot, and it is currently free, so download it and support Melinda in her quest to keep secrets from her mother.

You can get in in the US and the UK.

Also worth noting is this ebook was only released a few days ago, and is already on the Top 100 free list in the UK, and close to the Top 100 in the US. It got there without any name recognition, publicity, promotion, marketing, or advertising. I tweeted about it earlier today, and got in touch with Melinda to request this interview after I'd read the book (my cover artist showed me the cover last week) but it was already at its current rankings before I did so.

It is apparently possible to make a splash and get noticed while being a complete unknown. All you need is a good cover, good book description, good book, and a good price ($2.99 normally, free until Monday.)

We'll see if these freebies lead to future sales. If they do, I may soon be writing Fifty Shades of Snow White...


JA Konrath said...

Also, gotta admit I'm curious. Many have said that my blog is a promotional tool which leads to book sales. (or in this case, free ebook downloads)

We'll see if this blog helps Melinda's rankings. She's currently #122 in the US and #61 in the UK on the free lists, on 7/27 at 6:45pm Central.

Onne Andrews said...

Just downloaded your book, Melinda. Here's wishing you the best!

Tracey said...

Downloaded and can't wait to read. Agree, best book cover ever!

Jacob Chastain said...

I can only imagine what free is doing for Melinda, or will do for her. It's a really powerful tool, Espeacially when you have a good book, cover, etc.

I just released my first short story (paired with the first 4 chapters of my upcoming novel) and have seen a good turn out so far. In 12 hours I've gotten to #38 in occult. (that's just above you Konrath, albeit I'm on the FREE side of the ranks). I will see where I fall an how much money I can churn when my free promo ends on the 29th. (It was worth it just for the site views too though)

Free has been great to me. As long as I keep producing, which I will (Four more shorts and a novel on the way), I should start seeing the money.

I just can't believe people still fight indie publishing.

Louis Shalako said...

Good interview. Follow the money, without a lot of pre-conceived notions or uptight squeamishness.

Mark Asher said...

It's funny how many variant Alice's have been written. I've seen at least four or five indie books written with that theme in the last year. I wonder how many people have even read the original?

Mark Asher said...

@Jacob: "I can only imagine what free is doing for Melinda, or will do for her. It's a really powerful tool, Espeacially when you have a good book, cover, etc."

The chatter is that Amazon changed their algorithms so a "free sale" doesn't weight as much in the paid rankings. My guess is it helps, but not as much as it used to.

Adrian said...

"It is apparently possible to make a splash and get noticed while being a complete unknown."

Uh... she may be unknown, but Fifty Shades definitely isn't -- it has a built-in fanbase -- so regardless what her name is, her book will sell.

If it doesn't, I'll be surprised.

JA Konrath said...

At 11pm Central, #144 in US freebie rank.

So much for this blog being an effective promotional tool. Even with thousands of hits, the ranking is getting worse.

Sorry, Melinda! ;)

John Falch said...

This is just a hoot! You GO Melinda!
Joe, I just love your quirky site. Nice guys finish first.

Jacob Chastain said...

Hm. Go figure? ... What got her so high in the first place though?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I haven't read the article yet, but that's a penis on a cover. P2 looks positively, flacidly unhappy by the comparison though. Lol.

Magda Alexander said...

Love that cover! Tells the whole story in one image. Wow! Downloaded the book. Looking forward to this take on Alice in Wonderland. Thanks Joe and Melinda!

Anonymous said...

I have 10 novels self pubbed on Amazon. Several times I have used the free option via Select - and I always make it to the free top 100 eventually - yet I've never been featured on Joe's (or any other) blog.

That being said...the post free paid sales 'bump' is smaller now than before.

Traci Hohenstein said...

Joe, are you sure Melinda is not your alter-ego?

I downloaded the book, mainly for the kick ass cover. Good luck with the sales.

P.S. Power said...

I'll be interested in seeing how this plays out over time. To my mind the bankruptcy of original ideas that many complain about is shown pretty well here. (Sorry Melinda, but a parody of the current best seller plus an old fairy tale, with that best seller being based on another recent popular work? I feel like the snake is starting to eat it's own tail!)

That said, I'm also a proponent of the idea that many people seeking entertainment aren't really looking for originality until after they finish the product they're looking at.

What I mean there is that everyone knows what Transformers seven is going to be about, but they'll go because it feels familiar, then complain on the internet later for not thrilling them with an original work.

So this may do very well for a while, especially since to a lot of people the changes inside the work itself will probably outweigh the title being so familiar.

Sex does sell though, and perhaps the readers of the 50 shades series will resonate to your work too?

Again, interesting to see how this plays out from a business perspective. The more I think about this, the more it seems like it has a great shot to hit the top 100 paid.

Fingers crossed for your success!

Rob Cornell said...

How funny. My free promo started yesterday, too, and also ends on Monday. I've never done one of these before. It's been...crazy. I'm currently at #30 in the US. No guest blogs. But a lot of Facebook and Twitter stuff. I just wonder if this will translate to sales when it goes paid. That's the ultimate question, right?

P.S. Not trying to get any promo by mentioning this. Since our promos coincided, I figured this was relevant to the discussion. I will not, however, stop anyone from finding the book on Amazon and grabbing a free copy. :)

Rob Cornell said...

Oh, and just downloaded a copy. Best of luck, Melinda.

JA Konrath said...

To my mind the bankruptcy of original ideas that many complain about is shown pretty well here.

I just went to see the new Batman movie, and it always surprises me to count how many upcoming films are sequels, remakes, revamped TV shows, or based on novels. Answer: 95%.

That said, I liked Dark Knight Rises. Also liked the new Spidey reboot. They had some original ideas, and I try not to judge anything before I actually see it. Ditto books. I'd suggest reading Alice before stated it is bankrupt of original ideas. I bet you'll be surprised.

The familiar seems to be a safe bet. But that doesn't mean familiar has to be crummy.

JA Konrath said...

I just wonder if this will translate to sales when it goes paid.

Congrats, Rob. And much success to you.

It has been my experience, and those of my peers, that if you manage to give away at least 30,000 ebooks you should have a small bounce over ont he paid list.

Andrea said...

"It has been my experience, and those of my peers, that if you manage to give away at least 30,000 ebooks you should have a small bounce over on the paid list."

I know this is talking about one eBook going from free to paid, but for those who are still trying to decide whether or not they want to give away eBooks:

In May, I put up the first book in my middle grade fantasy series for free. I haven't given away even near 30,000 copies, but I've definitely seen a huge, steady bump in sales on my other books since then. Though I guess that's not really a bump, since it's been three months now. :-)

I was only going to leave that book up for free for a short while, but it's been such a great promotional item that I'll be leaving it that way for as long as possible.

It pays to experiment. :-)

Susan said...

That is a fabulous cover! I read a fair bit of erotica, so I'll be taking this one out for a spin.

Good luck on sales!

Mark Edward Hall said...

Downloaded the book this morning, Melinda. Looking forward to reading it. So is my wife. Truth is, I really think you're Joe pulling a fast one. But I don't care. If it is Joe it's an interesting experiment. With e-books anything is possible.

Rob Cornell said...

Congrats, Rob. And much success to you.

Thank you very much.

It has been my experience, and those of my peers, that if you manage to give away at least 30,000 ebooks you should have a small bounce over ont he paid list.

Insert choking gasp here. 30k seems a bit out of my league for this giveaway. Mid-afternoon on the second day has me at #25 on the free list, but I've only given away about 8,500. I suppose it's possible I could give away another 22k by end of day tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.

Nothing to do but wait and see, I suppose. I am sneaking up behind Scott Nicholson on the freebie list. I'm right behind his RED CHURCH now. So at the very least I do get a little ego stroke from being on the list. :)

JA Konrath said...

If it is Joe it's an interesting experiment.

After reading Alice, I can say with total honesty that there were scenes in there I never could have thought up, let alone have written.

But it certainly has given me some ideas. :)

Jill James said...

Wonderful cover, Melinda. Wishing you many sales.

Anonymous said...

Ive read fifty shades (the first installment)so an Alice in Wonderland re-mix sounds fab:)

T. B. Back said...

If they do, I may soon be writing Fifty Shades of Snow White...

The entire Twilight fandom has officially, if unwillingly, entered the last days of Sodom, courtesy of Kristen 'Snow White' Stewart. A huge frenzied fan-dominion utterly uninformed about sex?

What are you waiting for?

Unknown said...

Hello Joe,

I'm currently working on a novel - my first, and it's the biggest writing project I've tackled in my short time writing. So far the writing itself is going well, but the anxiety and sense of dread that I've experienced when thinking of the process of finding a publisher, and the meager cut of my work that I could look forward to with them has had me a bit depressed.

So I recently discovered your little corner of the internet a few weeks ago, and have been reading through the guide and a few of the more recent entries. I'm thoroughly inspired by the success you've experienced, and happy to see that a career can be made without bowing down to the overlords that have ruled this industry for so long.

Your new fan (and pupil)

Michael Ardenne

T. Roger Thomas said...

While this isn't normally my thing, the interview has convinced me to give it a read. *Fingers crossed*

Anonymous said...

I saw your tweet about this Joe and Retweeted it after checking it out on Amazon. Cover is eye catching and it sounds interesting. It did move to the top fast! Good luck with it Melinda.

Delilah Fawkes said...

Brilliant, Melinda! :D I downloaded, and I hope it does extremely well for you when it goes over to paid. What a great idea, and a gorgeous (and hilarious) cover!

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Great interview and a bizarre idea for a book - sounds fun

Mrinal Bose said...

Melinda writes much better than E.L. James,but the same sadist-masochist content sucks. I wonder why she does not write an erotica with some original concept.

Vera Soroka said...

Finished reading it this morning, loved it! Can't wait for more!
Love the cover!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joe, for the lovely interview. What a terrific blog you have!

Thank you, all who have downloaded Alice and wished it, and me, success. Though I have had my share of bad publishing experiences, I am always uplifted by the generosity of other writers.

*Melinda writes much better than E.L. James,but the same sadist-masochist content sucks.*

As I stated in the interview, Mrinal, I approve of any kind of intimacy between consenting adults. Though I may not be personally titillated by the many kinky experiences in Alice, or in 50 Shades of Grey, I know others are, and don't find anything wrong with that. In fact, this wonderful, vibrant diversity is part of what makes human sexuality so strange and wonderful.

Besides, the theme of the novel is that sexual fantasy is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is a necessary part of existence. Alice may do things that many people would never do, but those people might still enjoy the vicarious experience of Alice's adventures. Some may not, and that is okay too. If we were all the same, what a boring world this would be!

JA Konrath said...

The above comment was from Melinda, via email. For some reason she can't post comments, so I posted it and didn't sign her name.

christamar said...

On the subject of originality: I think Melinda's book looks interesting and I'll read in part because I read Caroll's original, and the first chapter of 50 Shades.

That said, I just posted the latest installment of one of my parody novels on my blog, and I can say without a doubt that no one has seen has ever seen woman-on-dinosaur ghost action like this before.

End shameless promotion.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me? What is this? I don't understand why you did this. A plug for your designer etc? Joe, I LOVE your blog. I don't know what this is. Amazing cover, but IMO this is the kind of thing that has given digital publishing a bad name. Piggybacking and cheap erotica. Great.
Still love your blog. ;)

Unknown said...

I downloaded the book a couple of hours ago so I cannot say much but so far I am thoroughly enjoying it! The cover is fascinating and deep on so many levels and I honestly believe this book will be a total success. Excellent work Melinda!

As for Joe, what can I say, your blog is my bible and your books are my entertainment. Just pure fabulous stuff, thank you.

Unknown said...


Just wanted to say thanks for sharing this on my WTRAFSOG (What to read after Fifty (50) Shades of Grey) author promotion / book recommendation Facebook page.

For the authors - the WTRAFSOG page was setup with the general idea of capitalizing on the influx of new readers to the genre as a result of 50 Shades - and to point those readers in the direction of other erotica authors - myself included. It has surpassed my expectations and grown into a very active community with over 90 book sales a day resulting from links on the page.

There truly are some voracious readers being created by the 50 Shades phenomenon - regardless of what you might think of that series itself. As an author of erotica I am thankful for the "exposure" this series has gotten in the media - as it has led to renewed interest in the genre.

Just thought you might like to know there have been 516 clicks on the Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland link on the What to Read page since your posting last night.

Wishing you much success Melinda - I have downloaded and started reading it as well. Funny and erotic will draw me in every time.

Thanks for your blog Joe - I'm a big fan.


Mira said...

Oh my. Oh my. Oh me, oh my. What a cover. I need to fan myself and have glass of lemonade under the shade of a big strong Oak tree in order to cool down.

Well, not too big and strong an Oak tree.

So, I downloaded, will read, recommend and also wish Melinda the best of luck! She sounds like both a good writer and a smart cookie, always a good combination.

I am finding this mainstreaming of erotica absolutely fascinating. It's a good thing, but it's sort of startling to me. Where did it come from? Although, I wonder if people felt safer buying erotica on e-books and reading it privately, which then lead to bigger sales, which is now leading to mainstream acceptance.

But will there be backlash?

Always so interesting to watch our culture at work!

P.S. Power said...

Will there be backlash?


There is a small, but very vocal group of readers that wince and cringe when sex is brought up. Not just in things they read, but in general.

They will complain. I'm surprised it hasn't show up already in the reviews for Melinda's book.

(Then I haven't checked those today.)

banh trung thu 2012 said...

This is exactly what i've looking for all day, thanks for posting, i like it

Onne Andrews said...

By Monday, July 31, 11:56 CDT, Melinda's book is ranked at #7 Free on Amazon. I'd say it shows a plug by our host, Mr. Konrath, works. *grin*

JP said...

JA: Any thoughts about this:

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Melinda DuChamp is a nice pen name, my man.

Ann Crosby said...

Just finished reading this book and loved it. Can't wait for the next one!!! :o)

JA Konrath said...

Melinda DuChamp is a nice pen name, my man.

If I ever do an erotica book, I'd go with Jocelyn Kolt as a pen name. Initials JK, to go along with JA Konrath, Jack Kilborn, and Joe Kimball.

I get emails from people thinking Blake Crouch is one of my pseudonyms. Jake Krouch, maybe, but not BC.

Unknown said...

Is the any other download link except amazon? It doeanst allow to download for european region. =(

Unknown said...

Just checked "Movers and Shakers in Kindle Store UK" and Fifty shades of Alice in Wonderland is number 1 (from unranked to 137) with eight 5* reviews.

Movers and Shakers in Kindle Store UK

Hey Joe, it helped! Excellent stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, it helped! Excellent stuff.

I'm thrilled that Alice is doing so well! Joe is a dear. I also simply must thank NYT bestselling romance writer Ruth Cardello. She generously gave Alice a big push to her fanbase, and also a terrific review. You are the best, Ruth!

Anonymous said...

The above was me, Melinda DuChamp, if that wasn't obvious.

Unknown said...

Hi Melinda - yes, it is pretty obvious.

"I'm thrilled that Alice is doing so well! Joe is a dear. I also simply must thank NYT bestselling romance writer Ruth Cardello. She generously gave Alice a big push to her fanbase, and also a terrific review. You are the best, Ruth!"

(Sigh) If only... Ah well, one day I'll get someone like Ruth or Joe as well. I dare not ask anymore after a few hurting rejections (i.e. you DO NOT send cold e-mails, most said). But the Goodreads community is absolutely fantastic so there is always a way to readership.

Anyway, I am genuinely happy for you Melinda and just now reading your book.

Acid Witch said...

This is sort of interesting. She's at 816 today. High in some weird categories for porn, but, hey, maybe the erotica charts are too high for the book to climb. That said, there is clearly two things at work: 1) Joe's promotion of the book to his 10,000s of readers, which has given it a bounce due to a % of them downloading it. 2) A good cover, blurb and lots of 4-5 star reviews (15 atm). is Joe the new king maker? Maybe, he'll try again so we can see.

smober said...

This is proof of what a good cover can do. I got it just because of the cover art, and after reading some of the other comments and reviews on Amazon, it looks like I am clearly not the only person to do so.

Can't wait to read it!

Xlibris said...

The cover wow! Amazing! It's hilarious. Thanks Melinda!

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is how she got away with purloining two book titles and one story. Don't get me wrong, the book is frocking hilarious and I loved it...but is this some kind of public domain thing? Could someone write, say, an erotic version of Dumas's "Count of Monte Cristo", a la "Fifty Shades of Edmond Dantes" without getting their pants sued off?

baby plaza said...

This is exactly what i've looking for all day, thanks for posting, i like it

to chuc su kien said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed