Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Post by Rick Mofina

I've known Rick Mofina for years, before he began to sell like crazy. I remember three years ago, walking through a grocery store and seeing one of his paperbacks in the checkout isle, alongside a Stephen King and a Janet Evanovich, and I thought, "Wow! He made it!"

But even though Rick has sold gazillions of books, he's still dipping his toes into the self-publishing pool. Here's a guest post by him about his journey:

Fear and Loathing on the Publishing Trail – Confessions of an Uneasy Midlister, by Rick Mofina

Thanks to Joe for inviting me to tell my story.

Chances are you’ve never heard of me.

This month I am officially self-publishing my first eBook, Dangerous Women & Desperate Men, a collection of four stories.

It’s a milestone for me.

I’ve written 12 thrillers through legacy publishers and I now have about 2 million books in print in some 20 countries. Yet, this month with my first effort to self-publish an eBook I feel like I’m starting over.

I wrote my first story when I was about ten years old, in neat, cursive handwriting, and from that point on I never stopped writing.

It became my joy and my affliction. By the time I was 14, I had discovered The Writer magazine and read it as though it were a new found holy book. In high school I was the only boy in my typing class. After school, I used the old manual Olympias to type my stories and snail mail them off to magazines. I waited weeks and months for responses and collected a suitcase full of rejection. By the time I was 15, I had my first sale, a short story to a small magazine in New Jersey for $60.00.

That was a milestone.

I had become a professional. Part-time. I still had to go to school.

When I was 18, I wrote my first novel, a horrible monster that must remain in darkness. But I never stopped writing – and reading everyone -- through factory work, university, [among the courses I’d studied: Religious Responses to Death, Existential Literature and American Detective Fiction then later I was on the crime beat]. Then came marriage, kids my job as a reporter and now my fulltime day job as a communications advisor.

But the need to write is in my DNA.

I had written stories, plays and novels. By the time I was forty, and after so much trial, error, study, practicing and polishing, I had, between shifts on the crime desk, completed what I believed was a decent novel. I sought an agent. After a year, I got one in New York.

“I think I can place your book,” she’d said after reading my mss.

After another year and much hard work she’d called to say she’d sold my book to a New York publisher. I was ecstatic.

“Can I get a new car, or get my brakes fixed?” I’d asked her.

“You can get your brakes fixed,” she’d said.

I was still ecstatic.

That book, IF ANGELS FALL, a crime thriller, set in California, was published in 2000, as a paperback original. It felt magical in my hands, I was a published author. I thought everything would change.

It did.

Since my first published book and through to my 12th, I’ve learned about the world of commercial fiction, agents, publishers, editors, production, deadlines, cover art, jacket copy, permissions, blurbs, distribution, cycles, wholesalers, retailers, placement, co-opting, shelf-space, velocity, royalties, reserves, promotion, book signings, conferences, readings, panels, booksellers and store managers.

I’ve had movie options, foreign sales, audio sales and digital sales. I’ve yet to make the New York Times list, or USA Today. I’ve never been reviewed by either, but I’ve had starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal. I have readers around the world and my work has been acclaimed several times – most recently, my book The Panic Zone was nominated for a SHAMUS by the Private Eye Writers of America.

I am honored, privileged and damned lucky to be published.

It’s been said here many times and I agree: no one owes you anything. I am as blue-collar as the protagonists in my books. My old man, as the song goes, got his back into his living. I believe in paying your dues.

That’s just me.

Since I’ve been published this is my routine: I rise around 3:45-4:00 a.m. Head to the keyboard and read over chapters and make notes. Then on my 50-minute bus commute to my fulltime day job. I use those notes to advance my story. I do the same on the 50-minute commute home. I work on those notes at bedtime and repeat the process at the crack of dark. On weekends I turn those notes into chapters. I write in hotels, at airports and on airplanes.

The craft and product are paramount.

I put everything I’ve got into my work. My readers get the absolute best I can give because without them, a story never lives. I go to conferences on my own dime because as a midlister you take nothing for granted. You do all you can to hang on to the pursuit in which you’ve invested much of your life.

That’s why I’ve decided to publish my own eBook.

That, and the fact we are in the midst of a revolution.

When they first emerged, I scoffed at eBooks. Those things will never catch on, I thought. This from the guy who vowed never to stop writing books in long hand and typing them on an IBM electric typewriter.

My typewriter is mothballed. I am now on my sixth PC.

At book conferences, in the tribal camps of authors, Joe Konrath, and other prophets, would tell us what they saw on the publishing horizon.

It made me uneasy.

At the same time, authors I knew were losing publishing contracts.

Then along came kindle and things changed fast.

Some of us embrace change. Some fear it. Still some, like Joe, learn to surf. A light went on for me in 2009, at a conference in Indianapolis. A reader showed me her kindle. I’d never seen one before. Then she showed the book she was reading on it: VENGEANCE ROAD, one of mine produced by my legacy publisher.

It was another milestone.

Day by day on my bus commute to my day job I began spotting more people using eReaders. Then last Christmas as we all know, sales of eReaders and eBooks exploded. Since then we’ve all read the jaw-dropping statistics, witnessed the e-author success stories, and heard the fury of an industry in the throes of a shift in its evolution.

So what does it all mean for writers?

Simple: the path to the reader, and to success or failure, however you personally define it, has been accelerated to the point of being instant.

Some argue that it is a threat to the quality of storytelling.

I disagree.

What we’re seeing is a leveling of the publishing playing field. Those who are born storytellers, those who have the talent, discipline and pride of craftsmanship, now have a better than ever chance to find an audience. They get an opportunity that was, until now, denied them.

That’s exciting.

Allow me to digress a bit. That eBooks are a game changer was driven home to me recently.

Yes, I came up through legacy publishing and my relationship with my legacy publisher is very good. But my recent experience solidified the power of traditional publisher support when married to the power of eBooks.

You might find little new in this example, but I think it is a valid one.

My thriller Six Seconds was released in the UK in 2009 in paperback and e-format. The book has sold well around the world and in the UK. Both the paperback and e-version achieved fairly good Amazon UK rankings before sales slipped as they usually do months after release.

A few weeks ago my British publisher informed me that Six Seconds was a candidate for a brief online free-eBook promo through Expedia and iTunes in the UK. All I had to do was temporarily waive e-royalty claims.

I did, hoping the book might get some renewed attention.

Boy did it.

For about five days Six Seconds held the #1 Amazon UK ranking for all free eBooks. I was amazed. I noticed that my other books, those still fully priced on Amazon UK, also started selling. I was getting new and positive reviews and emails from new readers. Without my legacy publisher I never would have had the opportunity to participate in that promotion. Six Seconds was running in the slow lane until the power of online promotion of eBooks happened.

When the promo ended, I thought Six Seconds would plummet on Amazon UK but it didn’t. It fell but rebounded to the top 50 for some time afterward. Paperback sales climbed a bit too.

Yes, not every author gets a break like that.

I don’t feel I deserved it. As Joe would say, I got lucky, very lucky.

This UK thing happened coincidentally when I was in the process of releasing my first self-published eBook, Dangerous Women & Desperate Men. It affirmed my plan to learn to swim in the rising tide of change concerning eBooks.

Prior to that, what had been on my mind was the fact that I had a number of good stories, acclaimed stories that I wanted to offer readers. Most of the stories had been published, but I still owned all rights to them and wanted to get them in the hands of readers.

If ever there was a time for me to try to self publish an eBook this was it. But I knew nothing about the process. Zero. What I learned, I learned through Joe, other authors and reading. After thinking things through, I developed a plan and decided to make a financial investment.

In laying out my plan for you, here comes the BSP.

I selected four of my short stories for an anthology titled, Dangerous Women & Desperate Men, with the theme of ordinary people on the brink. Each are also available separately for 99 cents each.

With the first story, “Blood Red Rings,” I wanted to partner the reader for one night with seasoned cop Frank Harper. After 24 years of putting his life on the line, Harper sees it all tick down to one defining moment. “Blood Red Rings,” first appeared in Crimespree Magazine where Jon, Ruth and Jennifer Jordan have opened the door of their revered publication to short crime fiction.

The second story, “Lightning Rider,” is the study of a damaged woman determined to achieve what she believes she is owed. The reader meets Jessie Scout, a twenty-six-year-old woman who had endured a life steeped in pain and goes to Las Vegas, a city of risk, not to gamble, but to collect. “Lightning Rider” first appeared in Murder in Vegas, edited by Michael Connelly. It also won Canada's top literary prize for crime fiction, the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story, presented by the Crime Writers of Canada. It is also featured in Deadly Bride and 21 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories, Edited by Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg.

In the third story, “Three Bullets To Queensland,” we meet Ike Decker, a loss recovery agent, for the armored car industry. His dream is to leave the U.S. for Australia but the only thing in his way to realizing it is Paco Sanchez and $1.2 million in stolen cash.

The last piece is, “As Long As We Both Shall.” It features Liz Dalton, a hard-working middle-aged woman. When her world was coming apart she fought back with a shocking vengeance. This story is presented in the format of transcript, much like a court document. The story first appeared in Blood on the Holly, an anthology of Christmas mysteries edited by Caro Soles and published in 2007 by Baskerville Books. “As Long As We Both Shall Live,” was named a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story.

With this collection I wanted readers to step into the lives of everyday people as they battle extraordinary circumstances.

My publishing plan was to offer each story individually as eBook for 99 cents, and all four together for $2.99 in the collection that includes an introduction and added features, such as the stories behind some of my legacy eBooks.

For the formatting and posting on Kindle, Smashwords etc., I approached Donna Carrick with of Toronto.

Then I approached a friend, John Holt at to do the covers. I sketched my concepts and John made them a beautiful reality. For promotion, I wanted to use social media to the best of my ability, which is not much.

I also set aside several hundred dollars for advertising, chiefly for one small ad that appeared with the bestsellers list in the September 25th print edition of the Los Angeles Times.

My total investment will be around $1,300.00.

A roll of the dice but I believe in these stories.

Like my books, I’ve thrown everything I have into them. They’re good stories that, until now, were essentially sitting on my hard drive.

Thanks to the revolution they can be in readers’ hands in minutes, at least that’s the aim of the $1,300.00 plan.

If it works, I’ll do it again and keep doing it.

I owe it to the kid who used to sit alone in typing class after school hammering away on an Olympia manual typewriter and snailing off stories dreaming of the day they’d find readers.

Joe sez: First of all, apologies to Rick because I told him I'd post this yesterday, but time got away from me. I'm currently on a deadline for Timecaster 2 and have been putting in long hours and forgetting things I promised people. (Why do I still have deadlines? I'll blog about that soon...)

Second, the first thing that struck me reading this post was, "He sold 2 million books and he still has a day job?!?" I was able to write fulltime having sold only 500,000 paper books. So either Rick loves his day job, or he's not getting paid as much as he should.

Third, Rick approached me after he'd already bought the ad in the Times. Had he approached me prior to that, I would have tried to talk him out of it. I've always found ads for books to be a big waste of money. Hopefully Rick will chime in on the comments here and tell us if it was worth it.

Fourth, good for him for being proactive and trying this out. He did this the smart way: releasing the shorts for 99 cents each, bundling them all for $2.99, getting quality covers and formatting, having punchy, concise cover copy.

Shorts (and collections) don't sell as well as novels. Four other authors and I just confirmed this in a talk on Fearnet. So this isn't a perfect way for Rick to test the ebook waters, because a novel would sell better. I notice Rick some of Rick legacy pubbed books don't have ebook editions. If he's got the rights, he needs to get those live. If he doesn't have the rights, both he and his publisher are losing money.

Rick is a great writer, and a great guy. I encourage everyone reading to try out his collection (or, if you're cheap, one of his 99 cent shorts.) If you like thrillers, you'll love them.


SBJones said...

Congratulations Rick. You will do well. I am guessing you will get several hundred sales from this guest post alone.

Joseph D'Agnese said...

Thanks for your personal story, and the background on how you wrote as a kid. That resonated strongly with me, as I think it will with many people who visit this site. I first learned abut writing by typing stories on the picnic table on my parents' backyard patio.

My wife and I estimate that we have sold 240,000 books via traditional publishers, mostly nonfiction, but nothing pleases me more these days than selling one of my $0.99-$2.99 self-pubbed books.

Since I was not able to find it in this post, let me add that Rick Mofina's website is:



JA Konrath said...

Thanks for the reminder, Joe. I added Rick's URL to the post.

PolyWogg said...

Can I be the first of the new "hundreds"? :) Probably not the first, but I've bought the bundled version.

I also want to add to Rick's post that his helpful sharing is in addition to his "giving back" to the community of writers as a member of the Capital Crime writers group in Ottawa. He presented a year or so ago (I've lost track of time with the birth of my son!) and I learned a lot from his experiences...

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the book! :)

Kelly Haven said...

"Shorts (and collections) don't sell as well as novels"

They do if you write smut. I've sold 15,000 shorts and collections this month ;)

Congrats, Rick, for jumping into the eBook waters. I wish you all the success in the world! Here's hoping you can finally quit that day job soon :)

JA Konrath said...

They do if you write smut.

I gotta start writing smut. There's a hot sex scene in EXPOSED, the prequel to FLEE, but Ann Voss Peterson did the heavy lifting on it.

EXPOSED will be available this week, for those who liked FLEE...

Rick said...

Joe, everyone, thanks. A clariication. I have 2 million books IN PRINT, sales are a different matter. The ad was not a success. Joe is correct on that.

Will Belegon said...

Joe, we've met a couple of times - though you'll most likely remember my partner Alessia and not me. Most guys do. *grin* If you do decide to venture into these waters (the smutty ones where we publish, that is) then do us all a favor and bring that awesome sense of humor. Sex can be pretty damn funny at times and I would totally read snarky smut produced by that sarcastic imagination of yours...

Will Belegon said...

...and Rick, welcome to the epub world.

Anonymous said...

Rick thanks for this insight and I hope you have a good experience with your book.

Mike Dennis said...

Great story, Rick. I have every confidence you'll make back your $1300 and much more. But Joe's right. Get some novels up there.

Good luck from a fellow self-pubbed author.

Erica Sloane - Author said...

Congrats to Rick. And thanks for sharing your story.

As for bundling short stories...I recently started bundling on the advice of other erotica authors. One is selling very well. The other (newest one) is off to a pretty good start.

S. A. Engels said...

Unless this has already been addressed on a previous post, why no ad? Is that no ad at all, or no ad in a paper publication? Is that because there's no proof it helps sell books? Couldn't the same be said for Facebook?

I am building my marketing plan for my book soon to be published, and want to get the most bang for the buck out of my shoestring. I've already added a "Library" component to my marketing mix from recent convos, and now I'm curious about advertising.

And good luck, Rick. Most of us are pulling for ya!


JA Konrath said...

The experiments I've done with ads, plus the ones my publisher have run for me, haven't even come close to recouping their cost.

An ad can work if it is in a catalog, or in the back of a book. The rest are pretty much ignored.

An exception is an announcement. If Lee Child's publisher runs an ad, it tells all of Lee's fans that something new is available. But I'm dubious even that recoups its cost. A big ad in a big newspaper can cost tens of thousands of dollars. it's likely Lee's fans would be expecting the book anyway, and would have bought it without needing that expensive reminder.

But my advice is you shouldn't pay to advertise.

Karen Woodward said...

Rick, I'm glad I found out about your books. I'm always looking for good stories to read. :)
Joe, thanks for the great guest post and comments!

Andy said...

It's been, what, six, seven years since we were on a panel together at B'con? The times, they certainly are 'a changing.

Congrats on your success. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. And you deserve it, based on your work ethic. Best of luck with the new ebook release.

My own mass market original paperback sales never approached your level of sales in print. But operating as an independent--with no money spent on advertising--I've sold over 30,000 copies of my Pavlicek series ebooks in just the past four months. (And that's just between the Kindle and the Nook. Haven't had time to get on other platforms, although I've now hired Brett Battles to help me work on that--highly recommended.)

I know I'm not alone. I am sure this story is being repeated over and over with many mid-list authors.

I.J.Parker said...

Thanks, Rick, and much good luck! We all need inspiring stories. I always find something here that becomes an eye opener. This time it's the business with the individual stories plus the bundling, plus a freebie. Will do!
And I also got burnt with ads. When I still got decent advances, I decided to spend some of those on buying ads in one of the mystery fiction magazines. The ads did little or nothing, possibly because story readers aren't necessarily novel readers, but most likely because the lifespan of the magazine is extremely short. And that is another reason why stories should be e-pubbed. You're giving them a life.

Todd Trumpet said...

As mentioned in "Joe sez" at the end of the article, I had the exact same initial reaction:

Joe sez: "...the first thing that struck me reading this post was, 'He sold 2 million books and he still has a day job?!?'"

The difference is, I'm not able to so easily dismiss it with:

"I was able to write fulltime having sold only 500,000 paper books. So either Rick loves his day job, or he's not getting paid as much as he should."

Maybe this is because I haven't sold 500,000 paper books (okay, make that "probably")...

...but it's also because this seems to be an all-too-common truth in publishing, i.e.:

Even successful authors need day jobs.

Is anyone else shivering, or is it just me?


M. Louisa Locke said...

Love to see another author join the ranks of indies, and I wish Rick all the best.

I am wondering about the best way to market short stories, beyond getting in the anthology categories on Amazon. I have a friend who has published a number of short stories, and she is now working on novellas, and they don't fit into a nice genre category, and she is finding it hard to locate a market.

A Facebook page was just set up called short story shack

If anyone is interested-and the idea sounds good-a place to advertise to a readership who is looking for short stories, but I wondered if there are other sites I don't know about (and that Rick might tap into) that this great group of commentators know about.


M. Louisa Locke
author of Maids of Misfortune
sequel, Uneasy Spirits, coming out mid October

Summer said...

Congrats to Rick. And thanks for sharing your story.

As for bundling short stories...I recently started bundling on the advice of other erotica authors. One is selling very well. The other (newest one) is off to a pretty good start.

The use of the term "bundling" from an erotica author just paints a mental picture of civil war era bondage for some odd reason.

I can't wait until my virtual shelf space is extensive enough to bundle. ;-)

Pertaining to the topic at hand - I have bought and read both Vengeance Road and Six Seconds. Excellent books and your success is very well deserved Rick!!

author of Summer's Journey: Volume One - Losing Control

Unknown said...

Well done, Rick, and thanks sooo much to both you and Joe for sharing your story!

I'll be adding your story collection to my Kindle asap!

I did want to point out that you CAN do the Free Experiment as an Indie Epub Author too!

I've done it...beginning Sept 8th...and have increased my daily sales average from 45 books per day to now between 245 and 300 per day!!! And I'm now on bestseller lists throughout Kindle US, Kindle UK and iPad US, UK and Canada too and have terrific rankings even on Nook (LOL!)! And was #1 on the Free Kindle US Bestseller List for an entire week!!!

The Free downloads alone have now reached over 39,000 in two weeks, and I'm now selling 2000+ books per week from my backlist!!!

And I'm Indie Epubbed all-the-way!!!

Thanks to taking Joe's advise from both this blog and from hearing him speak twice, I'm achieving my very own Publishing Oz!

Here's the scoop:

Here's to a fabulous new adventure along your Yellow Brick Road to Indie Epublishing Oz!!!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Congrats Rick! I'm brand new to the indie publishing world, just without all your experience before that. You are not alone stepping into the unknown. I wish you luck and continued success.

Sean McCartney said...

"Don't pay for an ad"
Joe you mentioned doing ads in ebooks as a kind of "coming attractions" deal. Could the same be done with book trailers? How would you go about working that out with another author?


Juliette Dupree said...

I just posted a thread on an erotica writer's forum with a compilation of quotes from other authors on the forum. I can't share specifics because the info comes from a private forum, but here are some general stats on their sales/income:

-two authors making mid to high four figures per month
-one author making low five figures per month
-a few brand new authors selling over 1000 copies of their short stories in their very first month.

Even the authors who aren't doing as well are still seeing steady increases in their sales. I'm still new to this, and I'm uploading my first few stories this week, so I can't say how I'll do. But it's clear that if you can write erotica WELL, you can make a living even with short stories.

JA Konrath said...

Could the same be done with book trailers? How would you go about working that out with another author?

I don't believe book trailers work.

S. A. Engels said...

OK. Ads don't work. Trailers don't work.

Besides "write a lot" and "get lucky" what have you done by way of advertising and promotion that you can honestly say works?

Sounds like this "free book" deal drives readership up, but seems like it only helps if you have a back catalog.

Suzan Harden said...

@S.A. Engels - word-of-mouth is your best selling technique. There isn't a magic formula. (Believe me, I'd be the first to buy it if it existed!) Patience and a little experimenting is the key. Once you start getting good reviews from total strangers, things do pick up.

Kelly Haven does have a good point about erotica shorts and novellas. About 1 out of every 3 readers who buys my paranormal erotica will come back and buy my urban fantasy novels.

JA Konrath said...

Besides "write a lot" and "get lucky" what have you done by way of advertising and promotion that you can honestly say works?

Collecting fan emails for a mailing list works. Announcing on Twitter, Facebook,

If you're lucky enough to be invited to keynote speak somewhere about ebooks, that works.

S. A. Engels said...

Thanks to all.

I know there's no "magic bullet" or pill, or method or vehicle that works. Seems genre specific, too. I will build my marketing database and see how it goes. I'll post my successes (when they happen).

The internet, just like WebMD, can be your worst enemy. Everybody out there says something else. Everyone is an expert. And I know trial and error, make mistakes, learn and succeed is the best "formula."

I come from a traditional advertising background. My schooling, experience, and therefore every cell in my body says that it takes $$ to make $$. In the world of product promotion, the first thing you do is throw money at a problem.

If somebody can just guide me to the money tree, that'd be cool. Actually, seems like erotica might be the closest thing to that. And fun to write and research, too.

Donna Carrick said...

Fantastic article, Rick. Most of my fellow-writer friends are avid followers of Joe's blog. It should encourage others who have been hesitant to dive into the e-publishing world. You know I'm already a fan of your work, and seeing your brilliant covers on the page gives me a thrill!
Very best,
Donna Carrick

Jill James said...

Rick, I read Six Seconds when it came out in paperback. Awesomeness!! Wish you much, much success in eBooks.

Bug Dog Books said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bug Dog Books said...

It is so nice to see a fellow Canadian writer featured on your blog, Joe. Way to go Rick and way to go Joe!

James Scott Bell said...

Rick, it's great to see you take the plunge. I've enjoyed the conversations we've had at B'Cons, and you've always been generous in your advice.

For traditionally published authors, self-publishing shorter works is a no brainer. It complements the print, builds platform and readers. Plus, if you love the form, it's just plain money in the bank. My first suspense collection has pleased me no end this way, and my second is coming out soon. I've just stuck my toe in , but I've got nine more toes and then feet (a backlist) after that. The trend line is indisputable. You will not only make your investment back, you'll be making frosting ever more. It's a nice feeling.

Hope to see you again down the road. I'll spring for the chicken quesadilla.

Greylocks said...

I always appreciate hearing the various viewpoints Joe brings to this blog from his guest posters.

On the matter of short fiction, my gut instinct is that sales will eventually improve. The genre fiction reader has become conditioned to equate word count with value and to regard short fiction as "literary", a word that is toxic to genre fiction consumers.

So some reconditioning is required, but I think in this fast-paced world there will be more people who would like, for example, to be able to read an entire story on their iXXXX while riding on the train to work, or on their lunch break, or after putting the kids to bed and finally have a half hour or so of solitude and quiet. Short fiction sales may never match novels on a per-unit basis, but then again, you can also write more short fiction in the same amount of time.

Once people start discovering (or rediscovering) genre short fiction, I think they'll start looking for more titles. I regard myself as a case in point (as a reader, not a writer).

Pamela Callow said...


Congrats on your foray into e-publishing! I can't wait to read your collection of short stories (I just bought them for my iPad kindle app).

Thank you for sharing your experience -- you have always been very generous to other writers.

I've "liked" your page, and might suggest you add a few tags for people to check, so your antho is easily searched. I've added Shamus, Crimespree, vengeance, Las Vegas, Arthur Ellis, police, cop...



Summer said...

If somebody can just guide me to the money tree, that'd be cool. Actually, seems like erotica might be the closest thing to that. And fun to write and research, too.

There is a big difference between writing erotica and writing quality erotica that keeps the reader "coming back" (pun intended) for more.

Just as everyone cannot write great dialogue, or thrillers, or romance - not everyone will be able to write erotica. It can be much harder (yes - pun intended again) than it looks.

author of Summer's Journey: Volume One - Losing Control
A True Romance / Erotica Series

Edward M. Grant said...

Besides "write a lot" and "get lucky" what have you done by way of advertising and promotion that you can honestly say works?

As a reader, I would say there's only one kind of advertising that definitely works (as Joe's mentioned before and touched on above): getting your blurb in the back of a book that I like.

Probably half of the e-books I've bought so far I only found because I read an e-book I liked and there was a blurb at the back advertising a book by a different author in a similar line which looked like it was something I would want to read. It's pretty much a no-brainer for advertising because your ads will go directly to the kind of people who want to read your books.

The hard part is probably finding other writers who want to cross-advertise in that way.

Sean McCartney said...

"Announcing on Kindleboards"

I seem to always get yelled at when I post a book release. Must be doing something wrong.

"I don't believe book trailers work"

That's too bad. I know when I speak at schools I show the trailers and the kids really like them. They are some of my best advertisments.


Rick said...

Hi Everyone:
First, apologies for being so late to jump in and respond - the demands of my other life.

I am overwhelmed by all the warm good will and kind words, I had feared you would all consider my blog the ramblings of a glory days hack.

Joe, you are very very generous.
I'll share with you all, that while I believed the ad in the LA Times was worth the discounted investment, it proved to be a flop.

As Joe says, you learn from failure.

I will work on getting my backlist out in eformat.

You are all very very kind. I will continue to work hard with my legacy publisher, while I explore and learn the ropes of e-publishing.

Above all, I believe I have some good stories to offer. I just hope readers discover them.

JA Konrath said...

I know when I speak at schools I show the trailers and the kids really like them.

So they're buying your books because of the trailer, or because they say you speak?

Public speaking can sell books, but it isn't cost effective. Travel expenses, and time away from writing, aren't worth the few books an appearance sells.

There are exceptions. I've sold hundreds, and even over 1000, books after doing a talk to the right crowd. But a few dozen sales isn't worth it to me.

A book trailer, which can cost a few hundred (or thousand) dollars, is not an effective use of marketing dollars, because:

1: I have never bought a book based on a trailer, and I only do promotion techniques that work on me, and

2: A visual tool to sell text doesn't make a lot of sense. A movie trailer is parts of the movie. A book trailer isn't what I see in my head when I read a book.

YMMV, and I always keep an open mind. If someone showed my book trailers sold books, I'd be the first in line to do one.

Brian Drake said...

I'm not sure I believe any longer that short story collections do not sell as well as novels.

My 12-story collection, "Reaper's Dozen", has been my leading seller *all year*. My novels have not sold as many copies. This month, though, is the exception: the novels are selling and "Reaper's" has not (except for one copy in the UK). Perhaps readers of the collection are now buying the novels? Who knows. But I see no reason not to release further short story collections in the future..

Bruce Andrews said...

@Edward: The hard part is probably finding other writers who want to cross-advertise in that way.

Actually, I doubt it. The hard part is probably finding GOOD authors that want to cross-advertise that way. Still though, this forum seems like a reasonable place to look!

Karl El-Koura said...

Hello and congrats from a fellow resident of Ottawa, Rick! I'm most amazed by your work ethic ... holding down a full-time job and writing so productively astounds me. You must have a VERY understanding wife.

S. A. Engels said...

Summer, I hear ya (authors around here can be very sensitive)!

I didn't mean to make my flippant comment seem like I would (or even could) just flip a switch, change genres and start writing erotica. I know that writing for any genre is not an easy thing. I actually have great respect for the erotica writers out there, writing what they want and promoting the fact. It takes balls to write about what people real think and feel.

Obviously, good writing is the key. That's the main jist of the arguments I see here:
"Nobody wants some hack to come in and glut the market with crap."
"If you write more than 2 novels per year you must be writing crap"
"If you write crap, you'll sink to the bottom, etc..."

I don't think anyone here thinks they write crap. I don't think anyone here wants to be labeled a crap writer. When somebody says, "Make sure you don't write crap" I check the Url and make sure I'm not on the Newbie's Guide to Publishing Crap blog.

I'm not on that blog, am I?

Renee Pinzon said...


What do you think about buying ads on Kindle Nation Daily?

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those newbie erotica writers discovering the power of short-form writing. I'm not in Kelly's league, by a long-shot... but I think eRotica writers have stumbled onto the secret of marketing & selling short stories..

*Write in a popular genre
*Bundled short-stores sell better than single-stories.
* Write fast & well
*Create eye-catching covers (just like you would for longer works).

Sounds simple and a little silly, but it seems to work! I'm already planning an experiment under another pen-name writing Novellas and Short Stories for the Paranormal market.. we'll see how it pans out...

Janice Lane Palko said...

Thanks, Rick. Don't you know just when I've decided to go indie, I've been offered this tremendous day job using my writing and editing skills that I'd really enjoy too. Your disciplined writing schedule has inspired me that I can do the day job and publish too.

Archangel said...

that is so great Rick. I love how you never gave up. Has the ring of 'go west young man' to your choices.

A question, if I might... I wondered did your regular publisher not have a clause in your last book contract saying you had to offer them the next book first, or you had to not publish anything anywhere else that might in any way be competition with their last book they pubbed with you? It's a tricky clause and one that several have gotten tripped up by, to my mind, unfairly, I mean blisteringly may you go to the hottest flame of brimstone, for attacking authors that way. So just was wondering because there is a super nasty rash of publishers apparently and currently going after authors re some semblance of that clause. It is enraging that a person's creative will can be signed away in a sentence.

again congratulations: I havent read your work, but will, it is waiting for me on my ipad... so this weekend. As soon as I write hopefully another 30k words. You know how it goes. lol


Jon Olson said...

A great story. Such success! I'm inspired, but also daunted by your talent, Rick. I check out your books.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

Darlene Underdahl said...

These blogs are wonderful. They give me hope.

Thanks, Rick and Joe.

kathleenshoop said...

@Renee re: kindle nation daily ads

I have had great success with ads placed with Steve at Kindle Nation Daily. Each time an ad runs, my book sales spike and then when the ad is over I fall less and less in the rankings. I think those ads are an incredible value with great impact. I know for me (and it seems by the stats Steve presents on his site that others benefit greatly as well) the ads are money in the bank.

Steven M Moore said...

Hi Rick...and Joe,

I'm going completely eBook now and am also using Donna Carrick at Carrick Publishing. First and foremost, she's a writer who understands how to write. Her novel The First Excellence is excellent and a fascinating look into Chinese culture. However, you and I have perhaps committed the sin of taking advantage of her talents as an eBook formatter--this undoubtedly takes time away from her writing.
r/Steve Moore
author of The Secret Lab, Full Medical, Survivors of the Chaos, and other sci-fi thrillers

Summer said...

@S.A. Engels,

Summer, I hear ya (authors around here can be very sensitive)!

I didn't mean to make my flippant comment seem like I would (or even could) just flip a switch, change genres and start writing erotica. I know that writing for any genre is not an easy thing. I actually have great respect for the erotica writers out there, writing what they want and promoting the fact. It takes balls to write about what people real think and feel.

Sorry!! I wasn't trying to be sensitive or defensive - it is indeed my experience that there are some very talented writers on here - that could easily cross genres.

All I meant was that being successful at it was not as easy as it would seem - pretty much true for everything in life.

All the best,


Unknown said...

I think an ad on targeted sites like Kindleboards would work a lot better than taking one out in the Chicago Tribune, and they're cheaper. I'm in the process of trying that kind of advertising. I'll let you know how it works for me.

Renee Pinzon said...


Thank you for telling me that! I haven't known anyone who has used it and I was hoping to hear from someone on this blog whether or not they had a good experience. Joe's blog has such a straight shooter practical approach that makes sense to me. So I've even gotten to the point where I trust the commenters here more than most.

Yeah, I have a Joe addiction. He's a gateway drug to publication.


Grant McKenzie said...

Congrats, Rick. It's funny how our publishing stories keep crossing paths. (Rick and I both worked at The Calgary Herald for many years, and we both share the same agent). After my first two books were published by Random House and Penguin to much reader acclaim, I have just launched my new thriller, K.A.R.M.A., as an ebook exclusive, too. Readers in the UK, especially, have embraced it just wonderfully and are already posting fabulous reviews - very cool to see.
Wishing you all the best.
Grant McKenzie

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

I'm glad you said that buying ads is a waste of money because I've been thinking about buying ads, but really can't afford to throw cash away.

Selena Robins said...

Congratulations, Rick, wishing you many sales in your new publishing venture.

I concur what Joe says about Rick. He is a class act. Having met him a few times at book signings and he was also kind enough to come out to Algonquin to speak to my Literature class, and gave the students solid advice which I know they benefited from. He really is a nice guy.

Okay, enough gushing. I'll put my money where my mouth is and buy your self-published book. :)