A Typical Erotic Romance Writer Looks Like This

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I’m not a typical erotic romance writer, but I know exactly what one looks like.

I know this because over the past month, I’ve been lucky enough to attend two amazing romance writing retreats. The first, was with the Western New York chapter of RWA, where most members write historical or contemporary. Few write sex scenes “with the lights on”.

The second was just this past weekend in honor of Evernight Publishing’s 6th anniversary. Unlike the ladies of WNYRW, most Evernight authors write those steamy scenes with all the lights on and the doors and windows wiiiiide open.

As I packed my bags for the Evernight retreat, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my sisters in smut. I’d only met them online, and their baby-thumbnail-sized profile pictures didn’t reveal much.

Would they all be foul-mouthed dominatrixes in zippered PVC pants? Or would they be monosyllabic cat-ladies, hiding under layers of cardigans?

No and no.

Try bubbly event-organizers with rainbow-striped hair and sparkly high-heeled booties. Pittsburgh Penguins tee-wearing sports fans. Retired teachers with wild blond curls and a wardrobe like Stevie Nicks at her peak of dark whimsy.

This is what my retreats have taught me about writers of sexy stories: There is no typical.

Okay, admittedly, there are a lot of cat owners. And a high comfort level with using the word “cock”.

But aside from that, they are a remarkably diverse group. Young enough to get carded. Old enough to ask for a senior discount. Married. Single. Quiet. Chatty. Accountants, techies, retail clerks, graphic designers and stay-at-home moms.

I did notice a few things about my ER sisters that sets them apart, together, however.

They are passionate.

Not just about romance. Not just about writing. Their interests run the gamut from jewelry-making to hockey and modern dance to rock-climbing, but whatever they’re into, they’re into it hard-core, ‘til death do us part. These are no dilettantes.

They are open to experimentation.

I’m not talking about sex, though if their books are anything to go by, who knows? These women are not only willing to try new things, they leap at the chance, both in their writing and in their lives.

Write an M/M story about a shape-shifting alien and merman? Yes! Travel to a foreign country to hang with a bunch of strangers for three days? Heck, yeah!

They’re into embracing.

Embracing diversity. Fetishes. Alternative lifestyles. Same-sex partners. Multiple partners. Interracial love (even better, interplanetary love). LGBTQ and every other letter of the alphabet you can think of.

They may not practice or identify as any of the above, but these women are accepting.

Love who you want to love, how you want to love them. And while you’re at it, why not write a book about it?

They love to hook up.

Hook up as in connect. With their readers and their fans-to-be, and with other authors and industry professionals. These ladies are all about forging lasting connections. Not just because they want to advance their writing careers, but because connecting with other romance-lovers as one of the biggest perks of the job.

I might not be a typical erotic romance writer. But that’s okay. None of them are.

Or should I say, none of us.

Failure to Launch

 

You may have noticed a few changes here at Hazel Hughes Romance. Like in the sidebar. Do you see it? That book cover enticingly labeled “Coming Soon”? That’s because I recently signed a contract with Evernight Publishing and in a few short months, I will be releasing my new erotic romance novel with them!

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No, I don’t have a release day yet, but I’m gearing up for the launch anyway. Because I really want this launch to be different from my first.

I don’t normally post about writing and publishing. When I started this blog, I aimed it at readers, not authors. But, as so many feverish romance readers are also feverish romance writers, I thought I would share my admittedly limited experience with launching a book.

Think of it as a What Not to Do for aspiring writers.

No Preparation: 

When I released Please in the spring of 2014, I thought I was prepared. I mean, I had written the best book I could write. I’d gotten it professionally copy-edited. I had a killer cover and a catchy blurb. What more did I need?

I released it on Amazon. Then I did a blog post about it, reposted that to Facebook and waited for the praise and the dollars to roll in.

Can you guess what happened?

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

Sure, Please was live. But it was just single minnow in the sea full of books that is the Amazon Kindle Store. How was anyone to find it? And if it did somehow slip into their nets, what would make them want to pay money to keep it (besides that killer cover) instead of throwing it back?

Well, it would have helped if I had thought about the fact that I had…

No Presence:

When I released Please, I had a blog that was a few weeks old and a handful of “friends” on facebook whom I hadn’t actually interacted with. In other words, for all intents and purposes Hazel Hughes didn’t exist.

As romance author Natasha Boyd, mentions her RWA workshop 3-2-1 Launch, it is incredibly hard for fiction authors to build platform before they release their first book. But at least they can build presence. Online presence.

What do I mean by that?

A blog or a website where you post regularly. Ditto Facebook page and profile, Amazon and Goodreads Author Pages. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever floats your boat. Just like sex, being there is good. Engaging is sooo much better.

No Promotion:

After I realized that the multitudes were not thronging to read my erotic romance novel, I decided to research what I could do to find potential readers. Not wanting to spend any more money, I made a list of erotic romance book bloggers, prepared my pitch and sent it off.

Many bloggers refused to review self-published novels. Some were too busy to accept. And some just weren’t interested in a book that had already launched.

I did get a few reviews. But it was both too little and too late. Three months in, Please was old news.

There are so many ways for authors, indie or not, to promote their work, most for very modest fees. Blog tours, guest blogging, giveaways, Facebook ads, to name a few. Research, investigate, talk to those new author friends on social media.

No Persistence:

So what did I do? Well, I’m ashamed to say, I just gave up. Stuck Please in KDP Select, decided I wasn’t meant to be a romance writer and got on with my life. Stopped blogging. Stopped posting on Facebook. Stopped writing.

Only, you know how that goes.

When you’re a writer, it’s like you have a mosquito bite deep inside of you, and the only way to scratch it is by writing. I don’t need to tell you not to give up writing, because you can’t. But don’t give up on the other stuff, either. Prepare for your next launch, expand your presence, continue to promote.

Which brings me back to that sidebar. My new novel, Dance with Me, will be on virtual bookshelves in a few months. And this time, the erotic romance-reading world will know about it well in advance. If you’d like to be among the first to read it, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter.

*Oh, one more thing – Platforms. I only released Please on Amazon. Big mistake! More platforms = more potential readers. Get that book out there!