Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: Samples of Pitches and Bios

This month my column on shameless self-promotion for newbies focuses on creating pitches for your book and yourself with the aim of making both of you irresistible to readers. I mentioned that I have a variety of these teasers in my files to suit many different audiences, and I wanted to share a few samples that are too long to include in the column in the hope that it will be a helpful reference for other writers.

I’ll start with the paragraph I use on my sell sheet. This is the one-page piece of paper with all of the basic information about the book I send with my press kit or as a stand-alone. Here’s what I use for erotica markets:

Take an exotic, erotic journey to a Japan few tourists ever see….

Amorous Woman is the story of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and her sensual encounters with the sexy men and women she meets along the way. First-time novelist Donna George Storey, a widely published erotica writer who holds a Ph.D. in Japanese literature, challenges the boundaries of culture and genre in this modern remake of Ihara Saikaku’s classic 17th century novel of the pleasure quarters. Lusty, wise-cracking Lydia—the modern Amorous Woman--experiences every flavor of erotic pleasure Japan has to offer from illicit encounters in hot spring baths to fantasy orgies straight from manga porn. Described by critics as “rich with sensual detail, humor, and emotional complexity,” “hard to put down,” and “literary erotica at its best,” the novel will change your image of Japan—and erotica—forever.

For the literary targets, I replace the third sentence in the blurb with this:

“Perceptive, wise-cracking Lydia—the modern Amorous Woman—delves beneath the surface of Japanese society in her roles as English teacher, wife, bar hostess, and the mistress of a wealthy man.”

For my bio, I have this for the erotica markets:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna George Storey has taught English in Japan and Japanese at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley. She is a graduate of Princeton, has a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Stanford and has published over ninety stories in numerous journals and anthologies including Scarlet Magazine, Best American Erotica 2006 and the past five annual volumes of Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica and Best Women’s Erotica. Her work has been translated into Italian and received special mention in Pushcart Prize Stories 2004. She currently writes a column, “Cooking up a Storey,” for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association about her favorite topics— delicious sex, well-crafted food, and mind-blowing writing. Amorous Woman is her first novel. Read more at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.

For the literary queries, I add in Prairie Schooner, Gettysburg Review, Fourth Genre, Wine Spectator and "she is also the author of Child of Darkness: YĆ“ko and Other Stories by Furui Yoshikichi, a translation with critical commentaries (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, 1997)."

Almost makes me sound respectable, doesn’t it?

Here are some samples of pitches I use in cover letters. The first for an erotically-inclined audience:

Amorous Woman is the semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan. The heroine’s steamy, yet thought-provoking adventures include romps in love hotels, hot springs trysts, working as a bar hostess and sometime prostitute and encounters with lesbian manga porn artists. Based on a 17th century Japanese erotic classic, the story combines the frank and witty treatment of female sexuality in “Sex and the City” with the elegant exoticism of Memoirs of a Geisha.
This is what I send to more mainstream venues:

Amorous Woman was published by Orion in the UK as part of their Neon line of literary erotica and was released in the US in May 2008. The novel was inspired by Ihara Saikaku’s 17th century Japanese erotic classic, The Life of an Amorous Woman. Intrigued by Saikaku’s picaresque, but emotionally complex tale, I decided to translate it into the modern story of an American woman’s experiences in Japan during its economic “bubble.”

Finally, I wanted to share a bio that was tweaked by professional publicist Lauren Cerand during an online workshop on Innovative Publicity Basics I took in the summer of 2008:

DONNA GEORGE STOREY (donnageorgestorey.com) used to spend her time doing things like graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and getting a Ph.D. from Stanford in Japanese literature. Now she writes award-winning erotic stories and has just published a steamy novel,
Amorous Woman, that will take you on a trip to a Japan few tourists ever see. Don't miss her monthly musings on sex, food and writing at her blog, Cooking up a Storey.

To be honest, I don’t use this. It sounds too stuck-up to me, but it’s the way a professional pitches me, which is an interesting reference point. But maybe I should use it. What do you think?

Well, I think that’s more than enough of me--feel free to share your own pitches, observations or questions here. The feedback and support of other writers has been the shining bright spot in the promotion experience and I hope to do my small part to keep us connected. Happy promoting!

Find out more about Donna George Storey and her adventures in shameless self-promotion at her blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Drive

(as part of my new gig writing for the ERWA's blog here's one of my classic Confessions columns. Enjoy!)

A friend of mine recently called me ‘ambitious.’ I’m still not sure what he meant by that -- compliment or criticism? Put-down or praise? It’s made me think, though, and that’s always a good thing. I’d normally describe ambition as a drive to succeed, a persistence to rise in status, income, reputation, so forth. But what does that mean to a writer? It could be money, but when is money the answer to anything? It could be ‘reputation,' but then a lot of bad writers are well though-of, even famous (are you listening Tom Clancy?). Ambition can also mean a cold-heartedness, a reckless disregard towards anything and anyone that’s not directly related to a goal. God, I hope I’m not that.

I do know that writing is important to me, probably the most important thing in my life. Because of that, I look for opportunities to do it, to get it seen. I rarely let opportunities pass me by: markets, genres, experiments, anything to get the spark going, juice up my creativity, to get my work published. Erotica was one of those things, an opportunity that crossed my path, and that has been very good to me. I didn’t think I could edit a book, but then I had a chance to do that as well, and now have done 18 (or so) of the suckers.

The fact is, opportunities never find you, you have to find them. The fantasy of some agent, or publisher, or agent, who picks up a phone and just calls you out of the blue is just that or so rare it might as well be just a fantasy: certainly not dependable as a way of getting published. Writing is something that thrives on challenge, growth, change: some of that can certainly come from within, but sometimes it takes something from the outside: some push to do better and better, or just different work. Sending work out, proposing projects, working at maintaining good relationships with editors, publishers and other writers is a way of being involved, in getting potential work to at least come within earshot. It takes time, it certainly takes energy, but it’s worth it. The work will always be the bottom line, but sometimes it needs help to develop, get out, and be seen.

Remember, though: “Ambition can also mean a cold-heartedness, a reckless disregard towards anything and anyone that’s not directly related to a goal.” Drive is one thing, but when it becomes an obsession with nothing but the ‘politics’ of writing and not the work itself, it takes away rather than adds. Being on both sides of the fence (as an editor as well as a writer) I’ve know how being determined, ambitious, can help as well as hinder in getting the work out. Being invisible, hoping opportunity will find out, won’t get you anything but ignominy, but being pushy, arrogant, caring only for what someone can do for you and not that you’re dealing with a person who has their own lives and issues, can close doors rather than open them.

I like working with people who know about ‘Chris’ and not just the person who can publish their work, just as I like writing for publications that are run by kind, supportive, just-plain-nice folks. Rejections always hurt, but when that person is someone I genuinely like or respect then I’ll always do something better next time. As I’ve said before, writing can be a very tough life: having friends or connections that can help, both professionally as well as psychologically can mean a world of difference. Determination to be published, to make pro connections at the cost of potentials comrades is not a good trade-off. I’d much rather have writing friends than sales, because in the long-run having good relationships is much more advantageous than just the credit. Books, magazines, websites, come and go, but people are here for a very long time.

I also think that sacrificing the love of writing, the struggle to create good work, is more important than anything else. Someone who has all the friends in the world, a black book full of agents and publishers, but who is lazy or more concerned with getting published than doing as good a work as possible is doing those friends and markets (as well as themselves) a serious disservice. Getting out there is important, and determination can help that, but if what gets out there is not worthy of you ... then why get out there in the first place? It might take some time, might take some work, but good work will usually find a home, a place to be seen, but bad work forced or just dumped out there is no good for anyone, especially the writer.

The bottom line, I guess, is that I really do believe in ambition, both for work and to find places to get exposed, but more importantly I believe in remembering the bottom line: the writing: that the drive to be a better and better writer is the best kind of ambition of all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself ....

The always-wonderful Adrienne here at the Erotica Readers and Writers site has asked me to contribute some fun and silly and possibly even informative posts to this blog but before I get to the fun and the silly and the possibly-informative, I thought it might be a good idea to tell you all who I am.

Some of you, natch, will already be familiar with me. After all, I've been a friend and supporter of ERA for a very long time. More visibly, I write a column for ERWA called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker, the newest one you can find here.

Beyond ERWA, I'm also a writer and an editor with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. I've edited 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, and others. I am the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, Licks & Promises, and Filthy; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll.

I also have a few fun blogs you might want to check out as well: my home page at www.mchristian.com where I post stuff primarily about, well, me; meine kleine fabrik where my brother, s.a., and I post about all kinds of weird and wonderful things; and Frequently Felt, which is where I post about all kinds of weird and wonderful things of a sexy nature.

Please feel free to send me tips, comments, suggestions: zobop@aol.com.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Call for Submissions: Noble Romance

Noble Romance Publishing is a royalty-paying, full-service e-publisher of superior quality, cutting-edge erotic romance. We challenge our authors to take risks, to push the sexual envelope while still maintaining their story's romantic integrity, the combination of which is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning erotic romance reader.

Current project:

Spank Me! Anthology-length. $25 advance against standard anthology royalty rate.
http://www.nobleromance.com/specialprojects.ppx

Self-explanatory. All stories must involve spanking as a sexual plot device. All genres accepted.

- 7k-10k words

- Multiple submissions are accepted, but an author may only appear once in any given NRP anthology.

- Deadline for submissions is open.

Please note: Previously published authors may sell on proposal (query and synopsis). Include your publishing credits in the body of your email. All others please submit your complete manuscript to submissions@nobleromance.com. Put the words "Special Project Submission" in your email's subject line.

Happy Writing! And remember...Think Kink!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Call for Submissions: Dreamspinner Press

Dreamspinner Press specializes in publishing M/M romance and erotica in both paperback and eBook formats.

DSP is seeking gay homoerotic stories in all genres. While works do not need to be graphic, they must contain homosexual romance of an erotic nature and focus on the interaction between characters. Stories may stand alone or be part of a well-developed series. We encourage tales that cross genres; for example, a science-fiction mystery or romantic fantasy:

* Romance – Modern or historical love stories with strong characters.
* Science fiction – Science fiction, paranormal, urban fantasy worlds, futuristic, time travel, and alternate reality stories.
* Fantasy – Dragons, elves, fairies, and knights in shining armor.
* Westerns – Cowboys and/or Native Americans.
* Military/Paramlitary/Mercenary – Political thrillers, espionage, and in the field stories.
* Mystery – Provincial country detectives, fast-paced thrillers, or hard-boiled PIs.
* Horror – Scare us with your vampires, zombies, and things that go bump in the night.
* Holidays – Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or Christmas.

Dreamspinner publishes several categories of titles:

* Novel - 60,000 words and up (Paperback and eBook)
* Long Novella - 30 to 59,999 words (eBook)
* Novella - 15 to 29,999 words (eBook)
* Short Fiction - Under 15,000 words (eBook)

Formatting guidelines and submission details at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association call for submission pages.