An Interview with Author Success Coach Deborah Riley-Magnus

I have a guest today. Deborah Riley-Magnus is the author of Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within your Manuscript.   She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction. She's also an Author Success Coach with a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction. She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and just returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years.

Even the odds for authors with this one-of-a-kind guide to marketing success. Deborah Riley-Magnus takes tried and true marketing, publicity and promotional strategies and tailors them for the unique needs of today’s author. Every element is outlined and explained for easy implementation. You will learn:

·         How to develop a functional and strong book business plan     
·         The power of developing effective, targeted platforms
·         The basics of publicity, marketing and promotion
·         How cross marketing works and why it’s magic for an author
·         How to personalize it all to your book
Finding Author Success will take away the mystery about gaining sales and increasing exposure for your book and you as a professional author.

A portion of the sales of this book will be donated to the American Literacy Council. The American Literacy Council’s main purpose is to convey information on new solutions, innovative technologies, and tools for engaging more boldly in the battle for literacy.

Especially with the current ease of self-publishing, every writer wants to know the secret of effective promotion. Can you share one or two things that today's authors need to know that they probably aren't aware of?

Absolutely! I’m so thrilled to get this chance to talk about what most authors are thinking of as the new plague called marketing, LOL. There are so many exciting and wonderful things about controlling your own marketing, promotions and publicity!

Let’s start with Marketing. The best way to do any book marketing is to look inside the manuscript you wrote. Everything you need to market your book as the unique, fantastic piece of work it is has already been put into your story. Things like location, character preferences and general plot elements, all go into setting you apart and above every other author out there … because, no other author out there wrote that book. For example, every author does the standard, average marketing strategies. They have giveaways, they talk to genre specific reader groups, they have contests and they all do it the same way and in the same places. Let’s say you do all that, only ADD a few things they can’t do. Does a major event in your plot take place in a coffee shop? Find all the coffee shop websites and blogs you can and ask them if you can post a weekly or monthly “grind” of the day about various coffee or coffee drinkers or the battle between coffee/tea lovers or whatever works. Of course you’ll always mention your book and have the book purchase link for it. A great tag would be “Nothing goes together better than coffee and a good book!” Going a marketing step further, of course your book is a romance and you do what you can to reach romance lovers at book clubs and blogs and twitter and facebook … but, you do realize that there are far more romance lovers than that, and lots of them are right in your neighborhood. Contact nurses groups, gardening groups, neighborhood ladies clubs and even quilting and knitting groups and offer to speak and read a passage from your book for them. Trust me, these groups are always looking for a change of pace at their meetings and get-togethers. You might be a perfect fit and you WILL sell books. (This works with ebooks too!)

The next tip I’d like to offer is to uncover the Public Relations power in your book. Look hard, it’s in there. Is there a cancer survivor in your book? A dog lover? A character who is an eco fanatic? Think seriously about donating a portion of the sales of your book to the American Cancer Society or the ASPCA or a local Green organization. This is a two fold activity … it supports an important cause, and gives you another buying audience. If you state on your tweets, facebook, platform websites, blog and the book itself that you’re supporting this charity, others who support the charity and love romance will buy!

Social media has changed the author promotion playing field. So much so that Amanda Hocking credits Twitter with a large part of her self-publishing success, and yet she signed a deal with a publisher because promotion was so time consuming. How can we protect our writing time and still build a following?

My biggest fear is that poor Amanda is going to discover that the publisher doesn’t do half of what she did to promote her book. Not only that, they expect the next book to sell as well, so she’ll still be doing what she did in the first place. It’s a sad but true fact of the industry today … ALL authors must market, promote and publicize themselves and their books.

The trick is to do it smart and manage your valuable time carefully. I suggest a strict schedule. For example, TWITTER. I tweet twice each day, Monday through Friday, 10 minutes each time … then I log out. I even use an oven timer to make sure I leave when it’s time to leave. Effective twitter use isn’t only about keeping your time to manageable clips, it’s also about what you’re tweeting. In Finding Author Success I have a funny list of 10 things authors should never waste time tweeting, blogging or facebooking about. Things like cleaning their toilet, the goofy dancing dogs vid they found on YouTube (who has time to look for dancing dogs on YouTube anyway?) and gossip about other authors, publishers or lit agents. Twitter is a networking tool and should be used as such. Promote your latest blog, but each time you tweet about it, do it differently so it looks and reads different. People hate seeing the same thing, over and over. Tweet important industry information you might find. I use the tweet deck and keep a column just for “Publishing”. It’s important to stay on top of the industry, and when you retweet an industry story link, your tweet has added value to others.

FACEBOOK is another networking tool. Find your targeted friends carefully. Never mix family stuff with your Facebook for promoting your book. Do one or two posts each day, have a little conversation then LEAVE. Again, make sure your post is relevant to your fans who are viewing your Facebook page.

BLOGS. Okay, ready for this?  Do not post more than 4 blogs a month. I know, really hard. Personally I do five a week and am struggling to back it off. This addiction is bad. Make your blogs informative, entertaining and fun … again, no discussion about toilet cleaning or your kid’s flu symptoms. Keep it “Romance” oriented so that your fans can enjoy and relate.

And finally, BLOCK OFF TIME EVERY DAY TO WRITE. I’m not talking about writing tomorrow’s blog either, I’m talking about writing your book. I write for three solid hours every day (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm) and try to catch another two hours in the evenings when I’m pressed with a deadline. These are uninterrupted hours. They may involve plotting or research, but nothing interrupts that time … not even the phone.

It's nice to know I'm doing something right, since I didn't want my followers thinking, "Oh, God, not another blog post," I try generally shoot for one a week.

Ebooks are great, but they make things like book signings a challenge. Are there any promotion methods that are easier with an ebook?

YES! And, no. It all depends on how you look at it. So many e-pubbed authors think only INSIDE the computer box, but the world outside the box loves ebooks too. I always suggest having a launch party for an ebook. Invite your fans and friends to a LIVE party. (Do an online event too, but for this question I want to talk about reaching another audience.) Set up one laptop showing your book video on a loop. Use the other for placing book orders. Do a reading, right from your Kindle, to the guests. Arrange the party in a coffee shop – if your book is about a coffee shop like the one above. Find the unique promotional things about your book and go wild with it. 

As far as a book signing, it’s not easy at the moment, but I feel technology will sure catch up with that issue. My publisher does a signed ebook for me when I have a contest for my fiction, Cold in California. It’s kinda cool. But if you don’t have that advantage, maybe sign something else? A tiny bag of coffee? A small coffee mug with the cover of the book on it? It’s too easy to just toss up our hands in despair and give up, but solutions are out there. E-pubbed authors just need to show their creative muscle a little more, that’s all.

You've got your own fiction book out. How did you cross market it? And did you consider your cross market when you were writing it?

Cross Marketing is an extremely cool way to create connections between your book and book buyers you hadn’t originally thought to target. It primarily focuses on finding cross markets outside of books to build larger fan base and it’s really fun and easy to do. (Like the coffee direction.)

It’s not something one usually thinks about between one book and another – especially between a fiction series and a non-fiction book – but I certainly did think about it for my fiction. Cold in California is an urban fantasy about a double-dead vampire. Seriously, ever thought about that? What really happens to a vampire after he finally dies? Heaven? Hell? Well, nope. For twice-baked vampire Gabriel Strickland, final death meant purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse with a mess of other dead supernaturals all hoping to gain a ticket through the Pearly Gates. Go figure. I loved the idea of redemption for a creature who found the mere concept way outside of his nature, LOL.

You may not know this, but for 10 years I was a professional chef. I love to cook, entertain and create wonderful flavor profiles and presentations. It’s my “happy” thing. I thought, why not a cook book … and why not a vampire cookbook? So I’m currently working on my cookbook entitled Who Says Vampires Don’t Eat: Recipes for the Loving Vampires in your Life. It’s a fun approach to all those energy sucking people we live with and deal with all the time – the nosey neighbor vampire, the hungry husband vampire, the angsty teenage vampires, the naughty kiddo vampire, the demanding boss vampire, etc. The book is sectioned off in categories, features original recipes and a short story for each category (all about elements and characters from the Twice-Baked Vampire Series). It’s a perfect cross marketing tool for the series, and I’m planning some fun with it.

The cookbook will hopefully be released after the second book in the series, Monkey Jump (release date March 2012) and the third book, AmsterDamned (tentative release date, December 2012).  

That's so intriguing. And so original. I love the concept.

I (and most of my followers) write romance. There are thousands of romances published every month, so I have a hard time believing any media outlet is going to care that I have a book coming out, but I took a peek at your book and see that you still tout press releases. Am I really wrong?

Not exactly wrong, but you are just a little uninformed of the vast usage for a well written press release. In the section about Book Platforms and Author Platforms, I talk about creating a media room on those websites. In those Media Rooms you would have downloadable copies of your current press releases among other things. Now, there is press, and there’s PRESS. I agree with you, in this day and age, with so many romance novels being released every month and so many of them ebooks, ebook novellas and ebook compellations or collections of short stories, no, the primary media is not really that interested. BUT, how many books are you putting out each year? How well are they selling? How large is your following? These are things the primary and secondary media can and will determine by what’s in your media room. You just may be someone they want to keep an eye on … but if you can’t write a clean, informative press release, will they even care? Not really.

Press releases are viewed by many people who are not even part of the press. If you ask a book store to permit you to do a reading event at their location, they’ll take a look at everything the media would be looking at. They’ll Google you to see how active you are and how capable you are of pulling off an event at all. They’ll check out your author website to see what you’re all about. And they’ll check your media room to see how professional you are and how you present your news information.

Beyond that, I’m a strong advocate of writing press releases because the writing style is extremely different from writing your book. It’s simple, clean, succinct and precise. It tells the viewer that you are an author who can treat your writing like a business. 

Okay, you've sold me. I see I have some work to do.

What is the difference between an author platform and a book platform?

I’ll make this super simple.

Your Author Platform is your business office. It’s where you, the author, can promote and talk about yourself, your work and your accomplishments. It’s not the fancy, fun place for all your books (although you will list them there with a link to the Book Platform website).

Your Book Platform is your store front. It’s where all the glitz and glamour happens. It’s where you wow readers and get them excited about your story and characters and what’s coming next. It’s where you can do all your wonderful announcements for promotions and blog tours and giveaways.

The most important thing about both platforms is to keep them separate, neat, fresh and alive. Update them with something at least once every month and tell everyone when you do. If someone is looking for your book on the internet, it’s your book platform website you want them to go to. If they are looking for you, the author (who may write in several genres and non-fiction too) they should be guided to your Author Platform website.

You're an Author Success Coach. What do you offer an author who comes to you for your services?

What I usually do for clients is help them build their Book Business Plan. This plan covers everything an author needs to have, know, and strategize to build a full, successful career. The Book Business Plan covers everything, from future strategies, budgeting, market expansion and creative exploration. It’s the Business Plan for Authors and it crosses left and right brain beautifully! Every author is different and every book they write is unique, so the Book Business Plan is a living, breathing thing that covers everything we talked about here in this interview and much more. It’s a realistic, practical blueprint for author success. And I bet you thought all you needed to do was write a book, LOL.

All kidding aside, if a writer wants to create a career out of doing what they love, they need to approach it like a business … an extraordinarily creative business.

HEY EVERYONE … I’d like to offer a FREE 10 Tools for Author Success downloadable handbook to all blog guests! Just go to and hit the button for your FREE downloadable PDF!

If you’d like to win a copy of Finding Author Success, just comment here at the blog, ask questions or just say you’re interested and Suzie will have a drawing for the winner. (The winner will be announced Monday December 5th.)

Thanks so much, Deborah, for visiting with us. You've given us a lot to think about. I hope everyone else has found your information as useful as I have.


Finding Author Success:
Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within Your Manuscript.
Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paper

B&N Paper and ebook



Want to Jumpstart your Ebook Sales?

Well, last week was an interesting week.

Monday, I got an email from Christine who runs The TBR Pile, a book review blog site, where I had submitted my debut novel for review. Based on her comments, I suspect it will be a very nice review, because the blogger who is reading it (it's a group review site) is so enthusiastic about the story that she went out and bought "cowgirl" boots. Here's a picture of the boots:

And that sort of response to a story is why so many writers are compelled to write.

And that was only Monday.

I've had a short story, All's Fair out there. It's a prequel really, to my McKnight romance Wip (tentatively) titled A Dark & Stormy Knight. It's been priced at $.99 on Amazon for the past month because Amazon won't let you list a book for free. You have to offer it elsewhere for free, report that to Amazon, and then wait for them to get off their duff and price match it. A real pain in the patootie.

When I got home from work on Tuesday, I checked my sales (yes, I'm still at the obsessing stage) and saw there were over 6k downloads. My first thought was, "Something's screwed up." Then my brain kicked in and I realized Amazon had finally made it free. I immediately checked my kindle rankings. #2. I know the rankings tell you how well you're selling compared to everyone else, but that was so beyond belief that my brain simply shut down and refused to process it.

My goal with giving  All's Fair away was to get on the Top 100 kindle list, and at that moment, I was #2 on the contemporary romance list. I was ecstatic (and more than a little awed.) By the time I got up in the morning (yes, I checked before I went to work) I was in the top ten of the general kindle list. WOW. Just . . . WOW. I don't think you can buy that kind of exposure.

A week later, All's Fair had downloaded 28 thousand copies.

Can I say that again?

28 THOUSAND downloads.

Now I don't expect everyone who downloaded it will actually read it. Or like it. But enough will. Or so I was hoping. The reviews on Amazon have been mixed (to put it mildly.) Some folks really dislike it, but according to the chatter on the kindleboards, for some unfathomable reason, negative reviews are to be expected when you make something free. The real test is what effect the freebie has on sales of A Knight in Cowboy Boots which was really my ultimate goal.

I don't have access to actual sales numbers (my publisher has those) but I can access a graph of the rankings. Before last Tuesday, the graph looked like the Sawtooth Mountains. The range swung from a hight of 65k to a low of 148k. The day All's Fair became free, the rating jumped to <10k and more-or-less flat lined, when meant it was selling steadily. I started seeing more reviews on Amazon (4 & 5 star reviews).

I would have to classify this little experiment as a great success.

Oh, and the To Be Read Pile's review? (Remember, that's how my week started.) I got great reviews, both for All's Fair and for A Knight in Cowboy Boots.

You can read them here and here.

To top off such an exciting week, Knight of Hearts appeared on Amazon. Hope y'all had as lovely a  Thanksgiving as I did. 

Another Giveaway of A Knight in Cowboy Boots

Spooktacular Giveaway Participants
Halloween's coming and all the kids will be out playing Trick or Treat and anticipating the sugar hight. Seems like there's no treats for us big kids. I think there should be. For some readers, there will be because I'm a Reader, not a Writer has organized a blog hop giveaway. (That's their image on the right. Click on it to see the list of participants.)

Since Halloween was always a favorite holiday of mine, how can I not participate in this? All you have to do to have a chance to win is to leave a comment below. Be sure I have a way to contact you and let me know what format you eread in.

To whet your lust for A Knight in Cowboy Boots, here's an excerpt:

For the second time that day, their clothes ended up on the floor. Maddie straddled him as she pushed him down onto the bed.

“You sure you wanna do this?” Zach asked. “I’ll get a lot of depth with you on top.”

She leaned over to kiss him. “You haven’t hurt me yet.”

Zach groaned with pleasure as she lowered herself onto him. She rocked up and back a few times, seating him deep inside her.
“Ride ‘em, cowgirl,” Zach muttered.

Maddie grinned in response. “Yee-haw.”

The words were barely out of her mouth when the front door opened. A freckle-faced girl with strawberry blonde hair was several steps into the room before she saw them. “Holy shit!”

Pandemonium engulfed the bed. Maddie dove into Zach’s chest, her startled scream shrill in his ear, as he grabbed a fistful of the bedspread to drag over the two of them.

Maddie gathered up the other side of the spread as she slid off Zach. Bunching it up in front of her breasts, she struggled to cover all the vital areas before she said, “Peggy! What are you doing here?”

When Maddie called her name, Peggy blushed redder than her hair and spun on her heel. Speaking over her shoulder, she said, “I thought you wanted me to sit for you. Didn’t you say you were covering the last half of Pete’s shift tonight?”

“Oh, crap. I forgot.” Maddie started to scramble off the bed but bounced back when the spread Zach was laying on refused to stretch that far. “Shit, I’m going to be late.” Caught with no good choices, she glanced at Peggy’s back before dropping the spread and scurrying to the wardrobe. The open door blocked Peggy from seeing anything above Maddie’s knees, but there was nothing wrong with the view from the bed. Zach rolled onto his side, the bedspread strategically draped over his hips, and propped his cheek on his palm to watch.

He’d known since puberty that he was an ass-and-legs man. As she hopped up and down, trying to get a leg into a pair of black slacks, Maddie only demonstrated she had the qualities he found most appealing.

Across the room, Peggy started babbling about how someone had been going out the front door as she was coming in and how sorry she was for not ringing the bell to warn Maddie she was on her way up, and how sorry she was to have just walked in, but she knew it was Jesse’s nap time, and she hadn’t wanted to disturb him, and how she’d never had any reason to expect that Maddie might be getting lucky . . .

Maddie appeared to hear none of it as she pulled a raspberry and pink print shirt from the armoire then turned, looking around wildly for a second before her eyes found what she sought near the bed. She shot Zach a pleading look. He scooted over to the edge and stretched until he could hook his fingers around a strap of the bra she’d so hastily discarded earlier.

She mouthed a “Thanks” when he tossed it to her.

Zach continued to watch as she put it on then leaned over to adjust her breasts into the cups. It wasn’t anywhere near what he’d been hoping the afternoon would bring, but it wasn’t a bad consolation prize. Aside from how quickly she dressed—something he would have bet no woman he’d ever known could do—he liked that she was too distracted to realize the show she was giving him.

“You can turn around now,” Maddie tossed at Peggy as she closed the wardrobe. She skirted the bed, scooping up Zach’s jeans as she passed and throwing them at him. Maddie picked up the brush on top of the dresser, flung her hair forward as she bent, and began attacking her mane. Zach sighed with contentment.

Jesse started fussing in his crib as the commotion finally woke him.
“I’ve got him,” Peggy said. She hauled Jesse out of the crib and held him against her chest. “Is he the roses guy?” Peggy whispered loudly, as though Zach couldn’t hear her. From the grin on her face, he suspected he met with her approval.

Maddie tossed her hair back as she straightened, revealing a pinker-than-usual complexion. “Uh—yeah. Peggy, this is Zach.” She pointed the hairbrush from him to the grinning girl. “Zach, Peggy. She’s a neighbor. And Jesse’s sitter.”

“I’m guessing there’s going to be more roses in your future,” Peggy predicted with a grin, the memory of her own embarrassment obviously already fading into the distant past.

Zach silently blessed her for the inspiration. Flowers never came to mind unless he needed to apologize, but if anyone deserved them just because, it was Maddie. Especially after the day they’d just had.

“I’ve got to put on makeup,” Maddie mumbled, heading for the bathroom with Peggy on her heels.

Zach took the opportunity to pull on his jeans. Down on his hands and knees, he searched under the bed for his socks.

“What a hunk!” he heard from the bathroom, followed by Maddie shushing the girl. Zach grinned to himself as he put on his shirt.
Socks in hand, he sat down on the bed. His boots came next.

“You ready, Zach?”

He chalked up another point for Maddie. A new land speed record for applying makeup.

“Yeah. Here’s your bag.”

“Are you going to button your shirt? You look like you’ve been mugged.”

He let Maddie see a lustful twinkle in his eyes. “Oh, I have been. There ain't no buttons left to button.”

“Ooh, Maddie!” Peggy said. “You go, girl.”

For the first time since Peggy walked into the room, Maddie stopped short. “You can’t walk into the hotel like that.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got another shirt in my room.”

“But you can’t walk into the hotel like that,” she persisted.

Zach wasn’t sure where her distress was coming from unless it had to do with his sister figuring out what they’d spent the day doing. He opened his mouth to reassure her again but stopped when she walked slowly across to the wardrobe and pulled out the last hanger. It held a faded blue work shirt like the ones he wore on the ranch.
She held the shirt against herself, and he would have sworn she breathed in the scent of it for a moment before she turned and offered it to him.

“Here. You can wear this.”

“You sure?” Zach asked, his hand closing around the hanger. He didn’t know why he asked, except it seemed as though she didn’t really want to part with the shirt. He was even more sure when she held onto the hanger as she considered the question. Not understanding the undercurrents of her emotions, he waited until she pulled her hand back.

“Yes. Leave your shirt. I’ll find the buttons.”

While she dug in her purse for her car keys, Zach sniffed the shirt. It smelled of sweat but only faintly, as though time rather than washing had faded the scent, but it fit well enough when he shrugged into it.

Romance Giveaway Hop

So from the eighth through fourteenth of October, Celebrating Romance is sponsoring a Romace Giveaway Hop. You know what that is, right?

If you visit the blogs listed at their site, you'll have the opportunity to win a romance novel. Heck, you'll have the opportunity to win something at every site listed. And yes, this is one of the stops.

So what can you win here? That would be a kindle ebook of A Knight in Cowboy Boots. And why should you want to win it? Well, I may be bias, but I think it's a great story. "Why should you believe me?" you ask. Ah, the world is full of skeptics. To help you decide, here's an excerpt.

“Let me get that there drink for the lady, Pete.” Mr. East Texas Drawl stepped up to the bar. “That is, if the lady don’t mind?”

She turned her head cautiously, afraid moving too fast would blur her vision.

Mr. East Texas was watching her, waiting for a cue his offer was welcome.

Maddie cleared her throat. “Thank you.”

Oh, crap. She sounded all Marilyn Monroe breathy.

He handed the bartender a ten. Maddie expected him to pull up the next barstool. Instead, he shoved it over with his foot and leaned one elbow against the bar. “So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

Maddie laughed. It should have sounded old, trite, and corny, but nothing said in that drawl could sound anything but enchanting to her. Her laughter lit something deep in Mr. East Texas’s dark eyes. Maddie suddenly felt warm. Sitting-in-front-of-a-raging-fire-on-a-cold-winter-night warm. The flutter in her heart moved into the pit of her stomach.

“Don’t tell the bartender, but I’m casing the place to see if I want his job.” Maddie said, keeping her voice conversational. The bartender's eyebrows rose, but he didn’t comment. He’d no doubt seen this dance often enough.

“Ah, well. Looking for employment. That’s respectable then.” Mr. East Texas nodded sagely. “Though I gotta admit, I was hoping you was here for less reputable reasons.”

“You mean like looking for a man to take me away from all this?” Maddie's open-handed gesture included the entire bar.

“Even the best watering holes have a long tradition of that sorta thing. Why, my daddy met my mamma in a place a lot like this.”

Maddie fought to keep a grin from breaking out across her face. How long had it been since she’d engaged in light-hearted banter, never mind flirting? It seemed like eons. “Really?”

“Well, maybe there wasn’t as much brass and mirrors. Or the selection of beverages this fine establishment has. And there ain’t no straw on the floor nor fiddle player in the corner . . . ” He looked away as though seeking a fiddle player. “And they had dancin’.” His nostrils narrowed with an indrawn breath. His eyes came back to hers. “Damn. A man oughta take a woman dancin’.”

The flutter in Maddie’s stomach moved lower.

“What kind of dancing do you do to fiddle music?”

“The spirited kind.” He let a beat pass before he continued. “But I think you’re the kinda woman a man takes slow dancin’. Someplace where there ain’t much light, so’s nobody’d see when I kissed you.”

He held her eyes, waiting for her response.

Someone down the bar hollered for Pete’s attention and he moved away. Their audience gone, Maddie swiveled on her barstool to face him straight on.

“What if I didn’t want to be kissed?” she asked, knowing her body language sent a completely different message.

“Why, ma’am . . . ” He leaned slowly closer as he spoke. “I don’t think I’d ask first.” His lips brushed hers lightly. Just a gentle touch, as though she’d been kissed almost in passing. He pulled back, but only a couple of inches. Neither of them had closed their eyes. Maddie swallowed, trying to work up some moisture in her suddenly dry mouth.

“My daddy says sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”

“Does he?” Maddie forced out.

“Oh, yeah.” His tone was heartfelt. “And I think I may need a passel of forgivin’,” he said just before he kissed her again. 

So now that you're convinced, you're asking, "How do I win a kindle copy of this?"

It's simple. Leave a comment on this blog. On the 19th, I'll get out my magic eight ball (aka Excel's random number generator) and pick the corresponding commenter to win. You can check back on the 19th, or even better, make sure I have a way to contact you to let you know you won.

Make sure you visit the other stops on this hop as well 

Is it Erotica?

I'm published now and that's a wonderful feeling, but there are still a few things that confuse me. Okay, there are a lot of things that confuse me, but we're only going to talk about one today.

I chose Pink Petal Books as my publisher, at least in part, because they have such great covers. (See? Over there on the right. Isn't mine fantastic?) Traditional publishing seems to be falling apart at the seams, so the decision to go with an epublisher made sense to me. Epublishers pretty much got their foot in the door with erotica, and I think, in some people's minds, that mostly what you find there. Now you can find anything from sweet romances to hard-core erotica. I don't know if the numbers still show most of the royalties being paid to erotica authors, but for a long time, that was the common knowledge.

So what am I confused about?

I'm confused about what earns a book the label "erotica."

You see, when I was trying to figure out where my story fell in this wide spectrum, I read some erotica authors like Emma Holly. Some were good, some were not to my taste, but what they had in common was the intense focus on sex. And usually, sex long before there was any sort of emotional bond. Often, at least one of the characters had very liberal views about sex partners and sexual activity (bondage, threesomes, orgies, etc.) Yes, they had a story. Well, the better ones did, but in most cases, I don't think the audience for these books are reading for the riveting plot.

I was saddened. Mostly because I could see I was not going to be getting any steaks from this cash cow. I knew I couldn't write like that. Not comfortably anyway. Yes, my stories are sensual. Spicy. Sexy. I don't close the bedroom door, and I don't wait until the end of the story for my characters to consummate. Love is the payoff, not sex. For me, the emotional lives of the characters are the heartbeat of the story.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that my publisher had listed the book on several distribution sites as, not just erotica, but as five-chili peppers hot erotica.

I cringed. I considered asking them to change it. I knew anyone who expected an Emma-Holly-type story would be disappointed.

In the end, I decided to let it stand. This is their business, after all, and I'd chosen to trust them with my baby. I don't want to second guess their every decision, but it has led me to question how one decides what is erotica and what isn't. Is it like my definition of kinky? (Kinky = something I wouldn't do. This is a wonderful definition, BTW, since it means that if I'll do it, by definition, it isn't kinky.)

Isabel Allende is quoted as saying, "Erotica is when you use a feather, porn is when you use the whole chicken." So maybe erotica has to do with the size of your feather because there's a whole world of difference between a chicken feather and an ostrich feather.

So help me figure this out. What makes a story erotica in your mind? Where do you draw the line?