Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post by Brianna Salera

I have a confession. I’m not Brianna Salera. I don’t even play one on TV. I do, however, write using that name and just published Brianna’s first book, Tessa’sEscape to Athena’s Ground, which is now free on Amazon. Why would I do that when I’ve got well-reviewed books under my real name?

I’m gonna blame Brianna on Joe.

My “real” books are genre reads that are well-written and professionally edited. They’ve gotten very good reviews (yes, even by a goodly number of people I’ve never met.) I’m proud of those books, and plan to do more.  The frustration is sales: the first one has sold from good to not so good, with the past six months being horrifically not so good. The second has sold well enough to take the family to Mickey D’s for a happy meal. 

Maybe twice.

I was 30,000 words into Book Number Three and plotting ways to address my woeful sales when I started hearing voices, well, a voice. It was the voice of Joe Konrath and he was singing one of his favorite songs: When One Thing Doesn’t Work, Try Another. I tried to ignore it. I put my fingers in my ears and sang “la la la la la, I can’t hear you.” But I could. Loud and clear.

A very long time ago, back in the day when covers had to be hidden because eReaders didn’t exist, I got hooked on historical ‘bodice rippers’.  My attraction to exposed breasts and giant ‘members’ died after a year or two, but I fondly remember how much fun they were to read and I wondered if they’d be as much fun to write. Joe’s Try Something Else siren song and the devil on my shoulder had me loading up my Kindle with contemporary erotic romances. I read, and acquainted myself with the heaving bosoms and throbbing members of today’s literary scene. Those books were fast and fun and I was only a little surprised when my own contemporary, not historical, storyline grew almost as quickly as this genre reader’s libido.

So I wrote it.

Now I had a little problem. I think my book is pretty good, for those who like erotic romance. But I’m a fairly conservative girl, and I embarrass easily. More importantly, I’m a professional with a serious job and I’d be incredibly uncomfortable if my day job coworkers and employer knew I wrote erotic contemporary romances. So I did what any brave writer would do, what some of you have already done, what Joe’s song inspired me to do: I published under a fake name.

I learned some interesting things with this little experiment.

A rose by any other name…the name on the cover was the only fake thing about writing Tessa’s Escape to Athena’s Ground. The book required attention to all the things we writers strive for: creative plot well-presented, interesting characters, proper pace, engaging voice, grammatical and structural competence, etc. Yes, Brianna’s name on the cover will spare me problems at work and embarrassment at the family dinner table. (“Hey Gram! Tell me about your new book, the one Mom won’t let me read.”) But it didn’t spare me the work any writing involves, whether one’s real name is on the cover or not. (Confession Number Two: the research for this one was a whole lot more fun than the research for my other books.)

Location, location, location…when starting in a new genre, reading a lot in that genre is essential, and so is knowing how to categorize your new book at Amazon. I chose Romance-erotic and Romance-contemporary after sampling other books in those categories. Did I pick the right online locations for Tessa’s Escape? I don’t know. Part of this trying-something-new business is making your best decision and being willing to change if it doesn’t work.

Girls just wanna have fun…while I’m proudest of my “real” books, writing hot romance was so much fun I could hardly tear myself away from the computer. This makes me wonder: does this mean my “real” books are the wrong genre for me? Should delight in the process of writing dictate what one writes? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m sure thinking about it in a way I hadn’t before.

Joe’s blog has given me a lot to think about over the years. My biggest blog takeaway is to try something different when things seem stuck (refuse to give up!)  What’s your Number One Takeaway from Joe’s Blog? And how have you used it?

If you enjoy erotic romance please check out Tessa’s Escape to Athena’s Ground, by me, not really Brianna Salera. It’s currently on KDP promo, free at Amazon through September 21st.  If Tessa does even a little better than nothing, I’ll probably write another in the Athena’s Ground series. It’s just too damn much fun, it keeps Joe’s song down to a dull roar, and I already have a new character bouncing around in my head, begging for a shot at Athena’s Ground.

But first I must get back to my “real” writing. I’m going to finish Book Number Three before Christmas, or my name isn’t Brianna Salera.

Joe sez: Pick up Tessa's Escape. It's free.

My #1 takeway from my blog is the comments and guest bloggers. I'm constantly learning from other people, and upping my game because of it. Thanks for the blog post, Brianna, and for the free book. 


McVickers said...

I've considered doing this, too, because the genre I currently write takes so much time, research, and editing. These, on the other hand -- good God, have you seen the recent YA and erotica books? I could write these in my sleep. And I would never consider even doing one if not for Joe's blog. So thanks again, Joe!

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Hey not-Brianna! I'm grabbing Tessa's Escape. Sounds interesting. Thanks to Joe, I recently wrote something I didn't know I could write, and had a blast doing it.

He's an inspiration, and so are you, experimenting and trying new things. You GO girl!

Dullahan said...

I've been ghost writing for years to make extra money. Last year a customer asked me where he could buy my books. It threw me, because I had never considered it. I don't crave fame.

However, I can damned well ghost for myself instead of others. So now I do. Everything from self help to chick smut. Not a word published under my name.

The first I will publish in my name will be a transition memoir, from ghost to author. Tell folks how I stopped working for others. And a lot of it has been inspired by what Joe puts out here. He provides so much motivation.

What I take away from Joe's blog?

Keep writing. If you want anything from your writing, you cannot stop. You cannot wait a year to see if it works. You cannot wait a month to see if people buy your work.

Jill James said...

I've been thinking a lot about this too. I have some story ideas that are "so" not what I normally write. The idea of being someone else is tempting.

MP McDonald said...

Wow, I almost could have written Brianna's blog post. I have a decently selling series in one genre, but wanted to try my hand at something a little more risque. I also had heard about Joe's 8 hour Challenge or something like that. I confess, it took me a little longer than that to write this, and I did have three betas check it over before publishing it. Still, it went from my head to publishing in about a month. It was fun to write and I plan on adding a second book to the series soon.

After publishing it, I had a dilemma though. How the heck do I market it? I can't use the same channels I use for my thrillers. After a week of literally a handful of sales, I posted it on my author fb page, and got another handful of sales. Now I'm kind of stuck.

Anyway, I'll grab Brianna's book and give it a few tweets (using my alias! haha!) Best of luck, Brianna!

Anonymous said...

What fun! I think I'll try that. I've always wanted to get back to the smutty writing I used to do when I was a teen. Funny how now that I'm an adult I write 'real' YA books. I also write adult romantic comedy novels too, but I've always wanted to try my hand at erotica. No, scratch that. I'm going to go back to full on cheese like in trashy romance novels of the eighties and nineties, because that's what I love!

Thank you for the free eBook.

AnonyMiss xx

Anonymous said...

As someone up to the first 30K words of my first draft of first try fiction (I have previously sold nonfiction on Amazon), I face the same issue. My real name or pseudonym? And if I choose a pseudonym, how far do I go? Alter ego blogs and webpages and so on?

How far can one push the online persona of a pseudonym?

w. adam mandelbaum said...

My greatest takeaway from Joe's site, besides the fact that he is immensely successful without a trace of arrogance, (and from seeing some of his videos he is an effin' funny guy), is this:
Just as Nassim Taleb has shown us in THE BLACK SWAN, just as Malcolm Gladwell has shown us in OUTLIERS, and just as Joe repeatedly admits--a lot of success in this arena, in any arena--is LUCK.
If I may relate a personal legacy publishing story that shows this...
Back in 1998 I do a gig for a book packager involving biographies for a biographical encyclopedia that was supposed to be published by Reader's Digest, which it wasn't, but I still got paid. In any event, I have lunch with the book packager, and tell him about a book idea I had concerning Psychic Spying. I mention that St. Martins just had a successful book on the subject published, but mine deals with the entire history of it. I do a quick proposal. He gets me an agent, I have lunch with the agent and suggest he push it to St. Martins, and bim, bam boom, I get a nice contract for a newbie. That is LUCK, people, not genius. Right place right time stuff. On the other side of it, when promoting the book, one of my interviews was with Paula Zahn when she was on Fox Network, and it would have been great promo for the book--if it ever aired--but it didn't, because at the time it was preempted by the then current story about Elian Gonzalez, the little Cuban kid that the US wanted to deport. So the largest piece of promo I get is kaboshed by that story. That also was LUCK--albeit bad. Anybody who has any experience with legacy publishing can relate bizarre luck stories, both good and bad--and both beyond the control of the writer. Same deal in indie publishing. So much is beyond our control. You just keep throwing the excrement against the wall and hope some of it sticks. Anybody who is not familiar with the concept of SURVIVOR BIAS should become familiar with it stat! Joe is honest enough to keep repeating this lesson in his own inimitable and articulate manner. Thanks be unto him.

Colin M said...

Hi Brianna,

Thanks for the post. I have a few questions about pseudonyms. If you have any insight I'd appreciate it.

When you use a fake name, how do you copyright your work? How do you protect your fake name - do you have to copyright that too or trademark??
When you post your book on Amazon, to you have to set up a whole new account or can you put it under your regular one?
If you apply for an ISBN do you have to do so with your real name?
For us that have never done this, if you could walk us through the process, it would be great.


w. adam mandelbaum said...

to colin m
re: copyright pseudonym this from copyright office:
An author of a copyrighted work can use a pseudonym or pen name. A work is pseudonymous if the author is identified on copies or phonorecords of the work by a fictitious name. Nicknames and other diminutive forms of legal names are not considered fictitious. Copyright does not protect pseudonyms or other names.

If you write under a pseudonym but want to be identified by your legal name in the Copyright Office’s records, give your legal name and your pseudonym on your application for copyright registration. Check “pseudonymous” on the application if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and if the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym where indicated.

If you write under a pseudonym and do not want to have your identity revealed in the Copyright Office’s records, give your pseudonym and identify it as such on your application. You can leave blank the space for the name of the author. If an author’s name is given, it will become part of the Office’s online public records, which are accessible by Internet. The information cannot later be removed from the public records. You must identify your citizenship or domicile.

In no case should you omit the name of the copyright claimant. You can use a pseudonym for the claimant name. But be aware that if a copyright is held under a fictitious name, business dealings involving the copyrighted property may raise questions about its ownership. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this matter.

Works distributed under a pseudonym enjoy a term of copyright protection that is the earlier of 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from its creation. However, if the author’s identity is revealed in the registration records of the Copyright Office, including in any other registrations made before that term has expired, the term then becomes the author’s life plus 70 years.

you don't trademark your name unless it is associated with a product--not a book. if you are publishing on kindle, the instructions are clear on what to do. if you are ONLY publishing on kindle, you do not need an ISBN.

Hope this helps.

Frank Bukowski said...

Interesting article Brianna (?), and follow up posts from all. Sexual fantasy is a subject I write about a lot, though not traditional erotica. Got to be honest, the smut mania in ebooks right now reminds me of the Klondyke goldrush. People think there's easy money to be made. All you need is a dirty mind and a keyboard. Guess there's a lot mining that seam right now. Some good writers, mostly not, from what I've read. Mostly it feels like reading the same book a hundred times, with a different cover. I blogged about it a few weeks back:
My main issue is the bandwidth the dross takes up from genuine writers, and the ammo they give to cynics who think all self-pubbed ebooks must be that bad. Everyone gets tarred. But hey, I guess for every writer there's a reader, and who the hell am I to tell people what to buy and read. I wish you all luck guys, keep putting in the hard yards and the rewards will come. For me the main reward is getting written and out there in the first place. Peace.

Brianna Salera said...

Thanks to all for your comments!

@Colin M., Adam is correct about copyright and Amazon process.I dutifully copyrighted my "real" books but opted not to file a copyright for this one. The copyright law protects the creator of the work the instant it is put in tangible form (i.e. written on paper/computer). Of course the potential problem without a filed copyright is proving you are the person who really, and first, created the work, should someone 'steal' it. Also problematic if you want to assert your rights in other circumstances.

At this point, I'm comfortable without the filing. Now if it begins to really sell...

You don't have to have a separate account with Amazon for your pseudonyms. Amazon makes it as easy as uploading a book with your own name on it.

Colin M said...

Hi Brianna and Adam,

Thanks for your responses. The only part I'm stuck on isthe following: Whether you register copyright under a pseudonym (without your name), or you don't register it at all, how do you prove that you are that pseudonym?

Would it be sufficient to mail yourself a copy that says "written by Joe Kimball, pseudonym of Joe Konrath", leaving it unopened in case of a dispute?

Perhaps I'm over thinking this, but we hear of some pretty silly lawsuits.

Thanks again for your thoughtful responses. The rest makes sense for now. I'll try it out once I get to "The End"

Brianna Salera said...

@Colin: proving that you are the person behind the pseudonym could be difficult. Mailing yourself a copy of the work and leaving it unopened is commonly referred to as a ‘poor man’s copyright.’ From what I’ve read, it’s not useful. Go here for the Copyright Office’s comment.

I’m not an attorney, so if you have lingering concerns you should 1) read up on it some more, and if still concerned, 2) consult an attorney.

As for me, I’m not planning on registering Tessa’s Escape unless it starts to sell well. If it looks like there’s a series in my future, I’ll register it as my pseudonym and list my real name as the author. Yes, then my real name and this work will be publicly accessible to anyone who wants to check the records. For personal and professional reasons, this would not be my first choice but it wouldn't be terrible if I did it to protect my rights to a series that (surprise!) had become financially valuable.

Good luck with your decision-making!

J.M. Ney-Grimm said...

@Colin If you truly want to keep your identity a secret you will need to create an imprint name to use on Amazon. Unless you create a separate account using your pen name. Otherwise your real name will appear as the "publisher" in the various stats on the Amazon page for your book. Just FYI.

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Colin, the reality is whether or not you copyright your work, you do have certain copyright protection. The other, often overlooked reality, is it costs a Hell of a lot to prosecute a copyright infringement action, and the reality is that unless you are making beaucoup bucks from your book, you'll go broke defending your rights to it. I defended a copyright suit one time, when my client was dead wrong, but only wound up paying the copyright holder $5,000.00 Between all the defendants, he received $20,000.00. He paid his attorneys a $40,000.00 legal fee. This kind of thing is not taken on a percentage basis--at least not for small fry authors like us. Don't worry so much.

Summer Daniels said...

Hi Brianna ... well Not Brianna ... whomever ... :-)

I shared your freebie on my WTRAFSOG (What To Read After Fifty Shades of Grey) FB site ... over 700+ downloads so far today from that site ... so good luck ... and best wishes ...

Summer Daniels

Eliza said...

Hey, does anyone know if I could put my real name on the copyright page inside my book?

The only reason I use a pen name is because my real name is so common there are a bunch of other authors out there with the same name. Could I write on my copyright page inside the book itself, "copyright (pen name here), a pseudonym of (real name)" ?

I don't care if my readers know my real name, I just want to make sure I can protect my work with my real name in the future.

w. adam mandelbaum said...

Eliza- yes you can. Used to be an occult writer with a pseudo of "Ophiel" but the copyright page had his real name--Ed Peach.

Colin M said...

Hi Adam, Brianna and J.M.

Thanks for your input. I love the information sharing on Joe's blog. I've checked out all your books and have added some to my to be read soon list. Thanks for the book Brianna.

Brianna Salera said...

@Summer: THANKS!! Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog post and it was a very nice contribution to Joe's site.

I hope you don't mee saying two things:

1. I think you should write what you enjoy writing instead of what you think you should be writing.
2. You described your story so well, and your book sounded interesting..if the writing in your book is anything like your blog post it would be great...but when I saw the cover, I straight away thought I would never purchase a book with a cover like that. I buy lots of books on kindle and still some on paper...I spend maybe a thousand pounds a year on books, I buy books on kindle that I know are not professional authors and are self published, some haven't got amazing covers but they were all of a certain standard. Your writing in the post tells me you're a great writer, clear and witty..but the cover says the opposite. I don't mean to be rude or clever by pointing this out, but maybe this is harming your sales.


Robin Huebner said...

Hi, I just finished reading Tessa's Escape and I want more! Will you continue with this story? I want to know how it ends really ends for them. What a fantastic place Athena's Ground is. I will be leaving my review where I can and hope for the story to continue and/or another book in this series. Thank you and good luck!

Jeff Ezell said...

Brianna wrote: "I think my book is pretty good, for those who like erotic romance."

Hey Brianna, I'm not a romance book kinda guy. Your book is GREAT! Thanks for your gift of Tessa's Escape as free download. I grabbed it for future reading in case I ever had the time with several hundred on my MUST READS list before yours.

My "mistake" is I opened it as a curiosity. My tablet never left my hand until I finished it. Reading at the sports bar watching football drew questions like, whatcha readin'? My response, research!

It should be required reading for everybody in that bar and anybody in a relationship. Great story with "How To" bonus. Well written.

Maybe violating Amazon's review codes I wrote one anyway. They don't know who the hell I am, but other prospective readers need to know how good your book is. I encourage people on this blog who read your book to do the same. If you missed the freebie, BUY IT! It can change your life.

Write more like this Brianna and I'll buy!


Brianna Salera said...

Hey Robin and Jeff: THANKS for the kind words and the reviews. @Robin: I hadn't planned to tell what happened to Tessa in the next book...was going to let the readers imagine what their future was, but your comment has me re-thinking that in a very serious way. @Jeff: I didn't expect any male readers, let alone one who'd actually really like the book! You taught me not to be so sure about who my potential readers are in this genre I'm experimenting with. Thanks again, to you both.

Jeff Ezell said...

Brianna, have you considered the story possibilities/challenges from a male POV attending a non-traditional center for men with relationship and sexual issues like maybe Eros's Epiphany?

I think the male psyche will present more complex challenges to overcome.

Hey, email me for more story ideas. Maybe David will need to attend to catch up with born again Tessa!

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Jemma Glass said...

Hello Brianna. I picked up your free copy and finally finished it just last night. I really enjoyed the book.

I am currently working on a piece under a pseudonym and wondered whether you had any contact details. Maybe a pseudonyms email address? Or twitter account? It would be great to talk more about the challenges and successes you have had.

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