Showing posts with label how to write and sell erotica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to write and sell erotica. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Worth a Thousand Words: My Life with Tumblr




http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006YGDE6G/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

It may come as a surprise, but far too often authors—people who are supposedly very comfortable with words!—have days when they just don’t want to write at all.

It’s a common mistake writers make when they begin to think about social media, marketing, and all that other fun stuff: this idea that words are the be-all and end-all for them. They force themselves far too often to script tweet after tweet, Facebook post after Facebook post…until they just can’t write another line of original content, even if only to say “Look at my book!” Worse, they come to feel that because they’ve burnt out on writing tweets and posts and marketing copy, they have failed. They think about all the potential readers they have lost; markets they haven’t tapped; piles of beguiling words they should have written—because are they not supposed to be endless fonts of text? (Spoiler: no.)

Fortunately for you if you’re one of these writers, there are some great options for social networking that don’t require you to write a word. They are wordless yet powerful, simple yet evocative, easy yet poignant.

In short, Facebook and Twitter are not the only games in town when it comes to keeping yourself and your writing in the public eye.

I’m talking about using pictures rather than words. Using Flicker, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr to make your point, catch your Twitter followers’ imaginations, engage them emotionally in a way that leaves a favorable impression of you in their minds. An image-sharing tool like these can help you reach out to others, and save you a thousand words of writing, every day.

There are quite a few image-sharing venues out there—and while your mileage and social media needs may vary, in my experience they’ve basically boiled down to just one. Allow me: Flickr is ridiculously clunky and doesn’t share well with others—just spend a few minutes trying to either find an image or a keyword, or pass along a photo. Pain. In. The…youknowwhatImean. Instagram is fine and dandy for taking snapshots of your dinner, your dog, your kids, your whatever…but when it comes to sharing what you snap, or using images from other sources, it’s not exactly user-friendly.

This basically leaves us with two choices, if you want to save those thousands of words: Pinterest and Tumblr. I’ve tried both and the choice was extremely easy to make—it comes down to one thing: sex.

Let’s face it, when you’re an author of erotica and erotic romance, you are dealing with—in one way or another—characters having sex. Like lots of erotica authors, I’ve learned to (sigh) deal with platforms like Facebook that will wish you into the cornfield for showing—or in some cases even talking about—something as threatening as a nipple. We deal with Facebook because we have to. But an open-minded image-sharing social media venue is a bit like Twitter: the more the merrier.

Pinterest doesn’t like sex…at all. I used to have a Pinterest account but then I began to get messages, here and there to start, but then tons: each one about a posted image of mine that was removed due to the dreaded Terms of Service. A few were obvious, but then the images they were yanking became and more innocent. Bye-bye Pinterest.

Tumblr isn’t perfect—far from it—but even after being purchased by the search engine deity Yahoo, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times it has caused me any kind of headache. Mostly they will reject anything that really pushes a button—think of the deadly erotica sins, but with pictures, and you know what I mean (hate speech, rape, bestiality, incest, underage, pee or poo, etc).
In a nutshell, Tumblr is easy, fun, and—best of all—a rather effective social media tool that also neatly and simply integrates into Twitter and Facebook…and, no, I do not own stock.

The way it works couldn’t be less complicated: you can create any number of Tumblrs—think folders—(even with an “age appropriate” warning if you want), and then design them with any one of a huge number of themes. From your master dashboard you can see—and tweak —all the separate Tumblrs you’ve created. The themes are a blast, and the interface takes very little skill to navigate.
As for what Tumblrs you should create…well, that’s up to you. Like food? Make a nice edibles Tumblr (and they have an app that lets you to take shots of your meals if that’s what you’re into). Like history? Create a vintage photo site. Love sex? Well, it’s pretty obvious about what you can do with that.

Where do you get your pictures? You can certainly take them yourself or upload them from your various devices, but where Tumblr becomes a real social media machine is in reposting. Once you create your account just look for other Tumblrs by interests or keywords and then hit that little follow button. Then, when you look at your dashboard, you’ll see a nice stream of pictures that you can like, share, or repost to your own various Tumblr incarnations. Plus, the more people you follow, the more people will follow you.

Just to give you an idea, I started—rather lazily—my dozen or so Tumblrs four or so years ago and now my main one, Rude Mechanicals, has close to 4,000 followers. You can imagine the reach you could have if you really put some work into it.

And if you want to see how far that reach extends, you can go back and look at your posts to see how many times they’ve been liked or reposted. It’s harder to tell when it’s a reposted picture but it can also be very heartwarming to see that, for instance, when you post about a good review or a new book announcement, dozens of people liked your news or, even better, shared it with their own vast audience.

What’s also fun about Tumblr is the auto-forward feature. It’s not perfect, as there are some periodic glitches, but all in all it works rather well. When you set up your separate Tumblrs you can then select an option where—if you choose—you can also send any image to Twitter or to Facebook.
That increases the number of people your image will potentially reach. It can even go to a Facebook page you’ve created. Neat!

One trick I use is to click the handy “like” button to create an inventory of images and then—once or twice a day—go back into my list of likes to repost them to my appropriate sites…with or without Twitter or Facebook reposting as I see fit. Tumblrs also feature RSS, which means you can subscribe to one of them through an aggregator like Feedly.

What’s also neat about Tumblr is its flexibility: you can post images (duh) but you can also embed video (from YouTube or wherever) and post text, quotations, links, chat streams, and audio.
Let your eyes do the walking and let the images they find do the talking. Image-sharing tools like Tumblr are a super easy way to fulfill your need for social media presence without having to write anything.

M.Christian has become an acknowledged master of erotica, with more than 400 stories, 10 novels (including The Very Bloody Marys, Brushes and The Painted Doll). Nearly a dozen collections of his own work (Technorotica, In Control, Lambda nominee Dirty Words, The Bachelor Machine), more than two dozen anthologies (Best S/M Erotica series, My Love for All That is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica, The Burning Pen, and with Maxim Jakubowksi The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Road).  His work is regularly selected for Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and others. His extensive knowledge of erotica as writer, editor, anthologist and publisher resulted in the bestselling guide How To Write And Sell Erotica.
He can be found in a number of places online, not least of which is mchristian.com.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TWO Columns On One Day!

Wow!  Not just one but two of my writing erotica columns just went live - how cool is that?

Over at the Erotica Readers And Writers site my piece, Thinking Outside Your Box, just went up - and on the brilliant WriteSex site my brand new essay, Meet Me Halfway, also was just posted.  Here are teases of both:



Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.

I'm not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick ... but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won't do it.

Not that having some form of presence online isn't essential – far from it: if people can't find you, after all, then they can't buy your books. But there's a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.

Balance is the key: don't just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that ... even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something ... interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics ... you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.

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Let’s open with a joke: a guy pleads with god over and over: “Please, Lord, let me win the lottery.” Finally, god answers: “Meet me halfway – buy a ticket!”

Back when publishers only put out – gasp – actually printed-on-paper books I was known as a writer who would give anything I did that extra mile: readings, interviews, PR events, press releases … you name it, I’d do it. To be honest, I’ve always had a small advantage in that my (unfinished) degree was in advertising and I’ve less-than-secretly really enjoyed creating all kinds of PR stuff. I’ve always felt that a good ad, or marketing plan, can be just as fun and creative as actually writing the book itself.

Sure, some of my PR stuff has gotten me (ahem) in some trouble … though I still contest that the “other” M.Christian who staged that rather infamous plagiarism claim over the novel Me2 was at fault and not me, the one-and-only; or that my claim to amputate a finger as a stunt for Finger’s Breadth was totally taken out of context…

Anyway, the fact is I’ve always looked at publishers as people to work with when it comes to trying to get the word out about my books. Sure, some publishers have been more responsive and accepting than others and, yes, I still have bruises from working with a few who couldn’t have cared less about me and my books, but in the end most of them have been extremely happy to see my excitement when one of their editions hit the shelves.

Duh, things have changed a lot since then – but in many ways things haven’t changed at all. Books are still books, even if they are now digital files and not dead trees, and bookstores are still in the business of selling those books, even if they’re now Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo instead of brick-and-mortar establishments … and publishers still want to work with authors who want to work with them.

Not going into the whole publisher-versus-self-publishing thing (in a word: don’t) one thing that has totally changed is the importance of marketing, social media, and public relations. Simply put, it’s gone from being somewhat necessary to absolutely essential.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Confessions

Extremely cool: check out this brand new column I just wrote for the excellent Writesex site:



My name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have a confession to make.

I’ve written – and write – a…what’s the technical term? Oh, yeah: shitload of erotica. Some 400 published stories, 12 or so collections, 7 novels. I’ve also edited around 25 anthologies. I even have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, whose Sizzler Editions erotica imprint has some 1,300 titles out there.

I’ve written sexually explicit gay stories, lesbian stories, trans stories, bisexual stories, BDSM stories, tales exploring just about every kind of fetish, you name it and I can all but guarantee that I’ve written about it. I like to joke that a friend of mine challenged me to write a story to a ridiculously particular specification: a queer vampire sport tale. My answer? “Casey, The Bat.” Which I actually did write…though I dropped the vampire part of it.

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the point. I can write just about anything for anyone – but here comes the confession:

I’ve never, ever written about what actually turns me – what turns Chris – on.

This kind of makes me a rather rare beast in the world of professional smut writing. In fact it’s pretty common for other erotica writers to – to be polite about it – look down their noses at the fact that I write about anything other than my own actual or desired sexual peccadilloes. Some have even been outright rude about it: claiming that I’m somehow insulting to their interests and/or orientations and shouldn’t write anything except what I am and what I like.

To be honest, in moments of self-doubt I have thought the very same thing. Am I profiting off the sexuality of other people? Am I a parasite, too cowardly to put my own kinks and passions out into the world? Am I short-changing myself as a writer by refusing to put myself out there?

For the record, I’m a hetero guy who – mostly – likes sexually dominant women. I also find my head turned pretty quickly when a large, curvy woman walks by. That said, I’ve had wonderful times with women of every size, shape, ethnicity, and interest.

So why do I find it so hard to say all that in my writing? The question has been bugging me for a while, so I put on my thinking cap. Part of the answer, I’ve come to understand, relates directly to chronic depression: it’s much less of an emotional gamble to hide behind a curtain of story than to risk getting my own intimate desires and passions stomped flat by a critical review or other negative reaction from readers. I can handle critical reviews of a story – that’s par for the course in professional writing – but it’s a good question as to whether I could handle critical reviews of my life.
But then I had an eye-opening revelation. As I said, I’ve written – and write – stories about all kinds of interests, inclinations, passions, orientations, genders, ethnicities, ages, cultures…okay, I won’t belabor it. But the point is that I’ve also been extremely blessed to have sold everything I’ve ever written. Not only that, but I’ve had beautiful compliments from people saying my work has touched them and that they never, ever, would have realized that the desires of the story’s narrator and those of the writer weren’t one and the same.

Which, in a nice little turn-around, leads me to say that my name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have yet another confession to make.

Yes, I don’t get sexually excited when I write. Yes, I have never written about what turns me on. Yes, I always write under a name that’s not my legal one.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel when I write. Far from it: absolutely, I have no idea what actual gay sex is like for the participants; positively, I have not an inkling of what many fetishes feel like inside the minds of those who have them; definitely, I have no clue what it’s like to have sex as a woman…
I do, however, know what sex is like. The mechanics, yeah, but more importantly I work very hard to understand the emotions of sex and sexuality through the raw examination of my own life: the heart-racing nerves, the whispering self-doubts, the pulse-pounding tremors of hope, the bittersweetness of it, the bliss, the sorrows and the warmth of it, the dreams and memories…

I’m working on a story right now, part of a new collection. It’s erotic – duh – but it’s also about hope, redemption, change, and acceptance. I have no experience with the kind of physical sex that takes place in this story but every time I close its file after a few hours of work, tears are burning my cheeks. In part, this emotional investment is about trying to recapture the transcendent joy I’ve felt reading the work of writers I admire.

When I read manuscripts as an anthology editor, or as an Associate Publisher, a common mistake I see in them is a dedication to technical accuracy favored over emotion. These stories are correct down to the smallest detail – either because they were written from life or from an exactingly fact-checked sexual imagination – but at the end, I as the reader feel…nothing.

I’m not perfect – far from it – but while I may lack direct experience in a lot of what I write, I do work very, very hard to put real human depth into whatever I do. I may not take the superficial risk of putting the mechanics of my sexuality into stories and books but I take a greater chance by using the full range of my emotional life in everything I create.

I freely admit that I don’t write about my own sexual interests and experiences. That may – in some people’s minds – disqualify me from being what they consider an “honest” erotica writer, but after much work and introspection I contest that while I may keep my sex life to myself, I work very hard to bring as much of my own, deeply personal, self to bear upon each story as I can.

They say that confession is good for the soul. But I humbly wish to add to that while confession is fine and dandy, trying to touch people – beyond their sex organs – is ever better…for your own soul as well as the souls of anyone reading your work.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "A Cookie Full Of Arsenic"

Check it out: I just posted one of my classic "Streetwalker" columns on the wonderful Erotic Readers And Writers site.

Here's a tease - for the rest click here


Ever seen Sweet Smell of Success?  If you haven't then you should: because, even though the film was shot in 1957, it rings far too much, and far too loudly, in 2013.

In a nutshell, Sweet Smell of Success (directed by Alexander Mackendrick from a script by the amazing Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman) is about the all-powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) – who can make or break anyone and anything he wants -- and the desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), who loses everything for trying to curry favor with Hunsecker for ... well, that Sweet Smell of Success.

So ... 1957 to 2013.  A lot's changed, that's for sure.  But recently rewatching this, one of my all-time favorite films, gave me a very uncomfortable chill.  But first a bit of history (stop that groaning): you see, J.J. Hunsecker was based – more than thinly – on another all-powerful columnist, the man who once said, about the who he was, and the power he wielded as, " I'm just a son of a bitch."

There was even a word, created by Robert Heinlein of all people, to describe a person like this: winchell – for the man himself -- Walter Winchell.

A book, movie, star, politician – anyone who wanted success would do, and frequently did, anything for both Walter and his fictional doppelganger J.J. Hunsecker.  Their power was absolute ... even a rumor, a fraction of a sentence could mean the difference between headlines and the morgue of a dead career.  As Hunsecker puts it to a poor entertainer who crossed him: "You're dead, son. Get yourself buried."

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Terrance Aldon Shaw Likes How To Write And Sell Erotica

This is ultra-cool!  The very fun Terrance Aldon Shaw - on his Erotica For The Big Brain site - has this very flattering, and thoughtful, review of my book, How To Write And Sell Erotica.

Here's a taste (for the rest click here)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006YGDE6G/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
 
M. Christian’s How to Write and Sell Erotica is a collection of short essays drawn from his regular blog postings on the ERWA website. As one might expect from their origins in the blogosphere, the style of these pieces is personal, pithily opinionated and, at times charmingly irreverent; informal but always informative. Topics are wide ranging, touching on numerous issues of concern to established and aspiring writers of genre (i.e. non-literary) erotica. I especially like Christian’s definition of erotica as works that “do not blink” when it comes time to describe sexual activity—a healthy counterweight to the sort of prissy detachment on display in Benedict’s book. His repeated observation that, in our society, if you cut off somebody’s head “you get an R rating; if you show someone giving head, you get an NC-17” is right on the money in addition to being funny as hell because it’s so maddeningly true. I find moving his suggestion that, perhaps, someday society will achieve such a level of enlightenment, frankness and maturity that erotica will disappear as a separate genre—would that it could be so in our lifetime. Like Bright, Christian does his share of cheerleading, offering encouragement and inspiration, though usually with a healthy dose of realism and a plea to maintain a set of realistic expectations. There are so many marvelous quotable passages in these essays I find it hard to choose only one; so updating the ancient practice of sortilegium for the Age of the E-Reader, here’s one at random:
One more thing you could do [by writing erotica] is help people. We don’t like sex in this country. Sure, we sell beer and cars with it, but we don’t like it. We’re scared of it. Living in this world with anything that’s not beer and car commercial sexuality can be a very frightening and lonely experience. Too many people feel that they are alone, or that what they like to do sexually is wrong, sinful or sick. Now, I’m not talking about violent or abusive sexual feelings, but rather am interest in something that harms no one and that other people have discovered to be harmless or even beneficial. If you treat what you’re writing about with respect, care and understanding, you could reach out to someone somewhere and help them understand and maybe even get through their bad feelings about their sexuality—bad feelings, by the way, that maybe have been dished out by the lazy and ignorant for way too long. 
As with any book of this type, readers will not always agree with the author on every point—and that’s as it should be. For instance, I don't agree with Christian--or Stephen King for that matter--who argue that a writer should never resort to a thesaurus. (As the compiler of The Erotic Writer's Thesaurus on this site, you can bet I disagree!) Nor does Christian like the idea of constantly “changing up” descriptive words in a text, especially where bodily parts are concerned. Others may be horrified, recalling nightmare critique sessions in creative writing class where they were admonished to avoid repetition and parallelism like the plague. Christian could have a point, although his tone may be a tad too ex-cathedra not to wrinkle a few noses, I remain skeptically neutral on this particular issue, while Christian is happy to inform his readers that he never got much out of those creative  writing courses. He also doesn’t particularly like being reviewed—“shut up!” I think were his exact words. All I can say is; tough titties, dude; the book is recommended, so suck on it!
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Writing Coaches and Teachers


Check this out: the fun article I wrote for the new - and wonderful - WriteSex site has just gone up at the equally wonderful Erotica Readers And Writers site.  Here's a tease:


For new writers, the temptation is obvious: after all, if you don’t know something, shouldn’t you seek out a way to learn about it? The question of how to educate yourself as a writer is a necessary and important one, of course, but an often-invisible second question follows: how do you sift through the piles of would-be writing coaches, teachers and other purveyors of advice to find the ones who will lead you toward genuinely better writing? The problem isn’t that there are over-eager teachers galore, but that far too many of them are preaching from ignorance—or just dully quoting what others have already said.

This is particularly true of erotic romance. Now, I have to admit I’ve been more than a bit spoiled by other genres, where you can write about whatever you want without much of a chance—beyond clumsy writing—of getting rejected for not toeing the line, so approaching erotic romance has been a bit more of a challenge. Romance authors, after all, have been told time and time again that there is a very precise, almost exacting, Way of Doing Things … and if you don’t, then bye-bye book deal.

But times have changed, and while a few stubborn publishers still want erotic romantic fiction that follows established formulas, the quantum leap of digital publishing has totally shaken up by-the-numbers approaches to romance writing. Without going too much into it (maybe in another column…), because ebooks are so much easier to produce, publishers can take wonderful risks on new authors and concepts, meaning that they don’t have to wring their hands in fright that the new title they greenlit will go bust and possibly take the whole company with it.

Because of this freedom, erotic romance can be so much more than it ever was: experimental, innovative, unique, challenging, etc. These are no longer the Words of Death when it comes to putting together a book.

One of the great, underlying tasks of teaching—one I love, but with some reverence and an occasional pang of dread—is challenging the boring, formulaic, way that so many talk about writing (which is also to say that a huge part of the reason I love to teach is that it’s a weird form of revenge against all the bad writing teachers I’ve had over the years). There are, however, far too many writing teachers who relentlessly parrot that erotic romance has to follow a strict formula to be successful. They spell out this formula in stomach-cramping detail: what has to happen to each and every character, in each and every chapter, in each and every book.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WriteSex And Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker

Busy little bee, aren't I?

Check it out: up on the fantastic Erotica Readers And Writers Association blog is a new Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker piece - AND I have a new article on the fun WriteSex site. Here are teases of both - just click on the [MORE] button to go to the full thing.



A pal of mine asked an interesting question once: what's my definition of erotica, or of pornography? Other folks have been asked these questions, of course, and the answers have been as varied as those asked, but even as I zapped off my own response I started to really think about how people define what they write, and more importantly, why.

It's easy to agree with folks who say there's a difference between erotica and pornography. One of the most frequent definitions is that erotica is sexually explicit literature that talks about something else aside from sex, while porno is sex, sex and more sex and nothing else. The problem with trying to define erotica is that it's purely subjective—even using the erotica-is-more-than-just-sex and porn-is- just-sex-analysis. Where's the line and when do you cross it? One person's literate erotica is another's pure filth. Others like to use a proportional scale a certain percent of sex content—bing!—something becomes porn. Once again: Who sets the scale?

What I find interesting isn't necessarily what the distinction between erotica and pornography should be but why there should be one to begin with. Some writers I've encountered seem to be looking for a clear-cut definition just so they won't be grouped together with the likes of Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy. While I agree that there's a big difference between what's being published in some of the more interesting anthologies, magazines and Web sites as opposed to Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy, I also think that a lot of this searching for a definition is more about ego and less about literary analysis. Rather than risk being put on the shelves next to Hustler and Spank Me Daddy, some writers try to draw up lists and rules that naturally favor what they write compared to what other people write: "I write erotica, but that other stuff is just pornography. Therefore what I write is better."

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Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.

Not that having some form of presence online isn’t essential – far from it: if people can’t find you, after all, then they can’t buy your books. But there’s a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.

Balance is the key: don’t just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that … even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something … interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics … you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.

[MORE]

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How To Wonderfully WriteSex

 

Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):

Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.

I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.

[MORE]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out-

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:


It's a huge no-duh that we live in an Information Age: from high speed Internet to 4G cell networks, we can get whatever we want wherever we want it - data-wise - at practically at the speed of light.

But sometimes I miss the old days. No, they weren't - ever - the Good Old Days (I still remember liquid paper, SASEs, and letter-sized manila envelopes ... shudder), but back then a writer had a damned long time to hear about anything to do withthe biz.

If you were lucky you got a monthly mimeographed newsletter but otherwise you spent weeks, even months, before hearing about markets or trends ... and if you actually wanted contact with another writer you either had to pick up the phone, sit down and have coffee, or (gasp) write a letter.

No, I'm far from being a Luddite. To borrow a bit from the great (and late) George Carlin: "I've been uplinked and downloaded. I've been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing; I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal mutlitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond."

I love living in The World Of Tomorrow. Sure, we may not have food pills or jetpacks but with the push of a ... well, the click of a mouse I can see just about every movie or show I want, read any book ever written, play incredibly realistic games, or learn anything I want to know.

Here it comes, what you've been waiting for ... but ... well, as I've said many times before, writing can be an emotionally difficult, if not actually scarring endeavor. We forget, far too often, to care for ourselves in the manic pursuit of our writing 'careers.' We hover over Facebook, Twitter and blog-after-blog: our creative hopes of success - and fears of failure - rising and falling with every teeny-tiny bit of information that comes our way.

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex


Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):
As I’ve mentioned before, in many ways, I’m a queer beast—in the literary world, especially, because I’m an editor and publisher (for the great Renaissance E Books) as well as a pretty prolific writer. I know the biz from both ends, as someone rejecting as well as getting rejected. Wearing my editorial sombrero, I’ve noticed a trend in the stories and novels I’ve been reading … professional annoyances, pains in the derriere, pissing-off things, and just plain rude stuff that I thought I might vent … er, ah, share with you. This also gives me a chance to explain how to deal with editors—though, as with anything in professional writing, it’s very subjective. This is stuff that I consider important, or frustrating, etc., but another editor might feel completely differently about.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Love For How To Write And Sell Erotica

I normally don't post amazon reviews but this one for my book, How To Write And Sell Erotica, is just too damned cool:

Amazon.com:
Don't let the odd cover fool you - this book is a class act above the rest. I can hands-down say that it is by far one of the best-written ebooks on writing and publishing erotica that I've ever read...and I've read quite a few! M. Christian's writing style is clear and easy-to-read, and the author's splashes of humor makes the book more personable. I can tell by the writing of the ebook that M. Christian is an amazing author (or at least, an amazing wordsmith!), and I will likely purchase fiction from him in the future. He covers everything from start to finish and all the goodies in between, and if this book isn't on your shelf, it should be. Much of what he writes holds true for the writing life in general, and he generously shares his long experience in the field with the reader. I do not regret purchasing this ebook, even at the high price.
(five stars)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What's Erotic?

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:




It's one of the most common questions I get asked – by budding writers via email or in person during one of my (ahem) Sex Sells: Erotica Writing classes: what makes an erotic story ... erotic?

But before I answer [insert suspenseful music here] a bit of exposition is in order: there is a huge difference in writing for yourself, such as when you are first dipping your ... toes into erotica writing, and when you've made the very brave decision to throw your work out into the professional world.

If you are writing for yourself then you really don't need to be thinking about sex (or the amount of it) at all: you're writing for your pleasure, or just as practice.

But if you do decide to send your work out you really do need to be pay close attention to where you're submitting: when a publisher or editor puts out a call for submissions they are often – or should be – quite clear about the amount of sexuality they need or want from a writer.  If you're sending a story, say, to a site, anthology or whatever it's always a good idea to scope out the territory, so to speak: read what the editor has accepted before, take a gander at the site ... and so forth.  That, at least, should give you a ballpark feeling of what (and how much) they are looking for.

But [insert dramatic drum roll] as far as the right, perfect, ideal, amount of sex for a story that isn't just for your own pleasure, or a very specific market, goes ... well, what's sex?

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (19)



Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):

Oh, dear, I’ve done it again. 
You’d think would have learned my lesson – what with the fallout over the whole Me2plagiarism” thing – but I guess not. 
Just in case you may have missed it, I have a new book out, called Finger’s Breadth. As the book is a “sexy gay science fiction thriller” about queer men losing bits of their digits – though, of course, there’s a lot more to the novel than that. 
Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to create another bout ofcrazy publicity by claiming that I would be lopping off one of my own fingersto get the word out about it. 
Naturally, this has caused a bit of a fuss – which got me to thinking, and this thinking got me here: to a brand new Streetwalker about publicity … and pushing the envelope. 
The world of writing has completely, totally, changed – and what’s worse it seems to keep changing, day-by-day if not hour-by-hour. It seems like just this morning that publishing a book was the hard part of the writing life, with publicity being a necessary but secondary evil. But not any more: ebooks and the fall of the empire of publishing have flipped the apple cart over: it’s now publishing is easy and publicity is the hard part … the very hard part. 
What’s made it even worse is that everyone has a solution: you should be on Facebook, you should be on Twitter, you should be on Goodreads, you should be on Red Room, you should be on Google+, you should be doing blog tours, you should be … well, you get the point. The problem with a lot of these so-called solutions is that they are far too often like financial advice … and the old joke about financial advice is still true: the only successful people are the ones telling you how to be successful. 
That’s not to say that you should put your fingers in your ears and hum real loudly: while you shouldn’t try everything in regards to marketing doing absolutely nothing is a lot worse. 
But, anyway, back to me. One thing that’s popped up a lot lately has been people telling me that I’ve crossed a tasteful line in my little publicity stunts – that somehow what I’ve been doing does a disservice to me and my work. 
Yeah, that smarts. But hearing that I also have a rather evil little grin on my face: for what I’ve done is nothing compared to what other writers have done. 
Courtesy of Tony Perrottet of Th e New York Times (“How Writers Build the Brand“), comes more than a few tales of authors who have done whatever they could – and frequently more than that – to get the word out about their product. Case in point are these gems: ” In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, ‘Le Horla,’ painted on its side. In 1884, Maurice Barrès hired men to wear sandwich boards promoting his literary review, Les Taches d’Encre. In 1932, Colette created her own line of cosmetics sold through a Paris store.”
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "Oh, how beautiful."

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:




Funny that these columns are called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker because ... well, I have a confession to make. 

I'm very much on the fence about the whole thing, and am still dealing with doubts about whether or not I've made the right decision but - in the end - I think it will end up being a good thing.


I know, I know: I've been a rather vocal - if not strident - opponent of that particular corner of the social media universe, but a very good friend of mine pointed out that, to call down The Bard, I "doth protest too much."

It hasn't been easy: I tell ya, nothing like having a nearly (gasp) twenty year writing career resulting in only 433 'friends' and 68'likes' on my author page to really make the dreaded depression demon really flare up. 

But I'm sticking with it - not because I think that I have to, or that Facebook is the end-all, be-all solution to all my publicity needs - but because it was something I really, honestly, didn't want to do.

Obviously, explanations are in order.  See, I'm a firm believer in pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: as a person and, particularly, as a writer.  Sure, you have to like what you are doing - both in how you live your life as well as the words you put down on 'paper' - but growth comes not from comfort but from adversity, from challenge. 

I didn't set out to be an pornographer, but then an opportunity presented itself and (surprise!) I was actually pretty good at it.  I didn’t plan on being a 'gay' writer - because, no duh - I'm not, but (surprise!) I not just did it but came to really enjoy it.  I didn’t think I could be a teacher, but (surprise!) I've found that I really get a kick out of it.

I may have hated Facebook - hell, I still hate Facebook - but I had to at least try it.  Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but at least I'll have stretched myself.

For creative people of any ilk, that’s extremely important.  For one thing, it can keep your creativity rip-and-roaring, key to avoiding deathly boredom and staleness.  Professionally, it's essential: writing just what you want, what you’re comfortable with, can really limit where you can sell your work.  That you love to write, say, erotic romances is fine and dandy but if you do then there will only so many places to show off, or publish, your work. 

You want examples?  Fine: I'm now on Facebook – we’ve already discussed that uncomfortable fact - but since I've written quite a few queer novels I've decided that my next one is going to be (you ready for this?) straight - and not just straight but with a 'happy' ending.  My short story work, too, has a tendency to be, let's be honest here, bittersweet at best - so my next collection is going to be much more uplifting.  I've never written a play, so I'm planning on writing one sometime this year.  I've never written for comics - well, I wrote one - so I'm going to work on more.  Will these projects be tough?  Sure they will: but who knows what I may discover about myself and what I'm capable of?

Who knows, maybe even Facebook and I will become fast and good friends and will walk down the social media aisle together, skipping merrily and holding hands.

And if not ... well, I tried.  There is nothing wrong with giving something a shot but then deciding it's not for you.  Rejection, both internal as well as external, is part of a writer's life.  There's nothing wrong with it.  Trial and error is how we learn, how we grow. 

Writers far too often think that the 'names', the celebrities, the legends sat down and created wonders of the written word, masterpieces of story, with no trials and tribulations.  But - as I've said before - writers are liars and very few will admit that they might have been an overnight success ... after failing for decades. 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Bond, James Bond ... Or Do I Really Need An Agent?


Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:



The world of professional writing can be ... no, that's not right: the world of professional writing is - without a doubt - a very frightening, confusing place.

Not only are there only a few diehard rules – to either slavishly follow or studiously avoid - but even basic trust can be a very, very rare: should I put my work on my site, or will it be stolen?  Should I even send my work out to other writers, for the very same reason? 

What about editors or - especially - publishers?  Does my editor really have my best interests in mind?  Should I make the changes he or she suggests or should I stand my ground and refuse to change even one word?  Is my publisher doing all they can for my book?  Are they being honest about royalties? 

Back in the days of print - before the revolution – a lot of these questions would have been answered by an agent: a person who not only knew the business but would actually hold a writer's hand and lead them from that doubt and fear and, hopefully, towards success ... however you want to define that word.

Agents spoke the cryptic language of rights and royalties: they could actually read – and even more amazingly - understand a book contract.  They'd be able, with their experience and foresight, to say when a writer should say yes or no to edits.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (18)



Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):
Back in the ‘good old days’ of smut – when pornographers had to haul their steaming piles of sexually explicit materials up four and five flights of stairs – a certain writer with a gleam of sexy potential in his mesmerizing green eyes … okay, I mean me … wrote a column for the fantastic Adrienne at Erotica Readers & Writers called “Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker.” 
Now one of the things I did was part of being a Streetwalker that really took off was a little series I did called “The Four Deadly Sins:” a playful examination of the things that smut writers could do but that could – to put it mildly – make their work a tough sell. The very same “sins” I’ve been posting here on WriteSex. 
Fast forward a … decade?! Sigh. Anyway, I had to put aside my Streetwalker days for other things but that little verboten list has always been by my side, especially since I’m now an Associate Publisher for the wonderful Renaissance Books (which includes Sizzler Editions, our erotica line). By the way [COMMERCIAL WARNING] my old columns are now in a dead-tree and ebook collection called How To Write And Sell Erotica [COMMERCIAL ENDS] 
The reason why those “sins” stay with me is because one of my Associate Publisher things is to consider books for publication – and still, today, erotica writers don’t seem to understand that while, sure, you can pretty much write whatever you want there are still some things that will more-than-likely keep your work from seeing the light of day. Just for the record, the four are underage (self-explanatory), beastiality (same), incest (ditto) and excessive violence (torture porn or nonconsensual sex). But I’m here to talk about a new one that’s popped up … or ‘pooped out’ to blow the joke.
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Confessions of A Literary Streetwalker: What Is Sex ... And How Much?


Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:


So let's ask the question: what is sex – especially what is sex when it comes to writing erotica? 

I will not begin with a dictionary definition ... I will not begin with a dictionary definition ... I will not begin with a dictionary definition ...

It's a very common misconception that erotica is supposed to turn the reader on ... or to be exact, that it is supposed to be written to turn the reader on. 

There's a huge problem with that, though: mainly that you, as a writer, have no idea what turns a reader on.  Even getting the cheat sheet of writing for a specific anthology there is no way you can possibly cover every permutation of that theme. 

Let's pick anal sex, just to be provocative: some people like anal sex people of the pure sensation receiving, or giving; while others have their desire mixed with domination or submission, etc., etc, etc.  Bottom line – sorry about that – you, as an erotica writer, cannot cover everything, erotically, when you write.

So how do you know how much sex to put into a story – and how to approach what sex you do put into a story? 


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

GLBT Live Chats with the Pros At The Erotica Readers & Writers Association!



GLBT erotica is a genre to be reckoned with, and The Erotica Readers and Writers Association will help interested authors with two GLBT Live Chats with the Pros: Delilah Devlin and M. Christian will be on hand to answer questions, offer advice, and exchange ideas with authors of GLBT erotica. Whether you're penning your first gay fiction, or are a spicy-seasoned pro, don't miss this opportunity.


M. Christian, associate publisher for Renaissance E Books (which includes Sizzler Editions), is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 400 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, and Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica. If you want to know what GLBT editors want (and don't want) and how to make your submissions stand out, M. Christian will be happy to answer your questions.
Read more about M. Christian at www.mchristian.com

ERWA chats are held on the ShadowWorld chat server, channel#erachat.

(Follow the link above. On screen you'll see 'Connect to ShadowWorld IRC'. In the Nickname box, key in your name. Leave the channels box at #ERAChat, and click 'Connect'. A chat text box will appear at the bottom of your screen)



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Confessions of A Literary Streetwalker: "A Cookie Full Of Arsenic"




Ever seen Sweet Smell of Success?  If you haven't then you should: because, even though the film was shot in 1957, it rings far too much, and far too loudly, in 2012.

In a nutshell, Sweet Smell of Success (directed by Alexander Mackendrick from a script by the amazing Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman) is about the all-powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) – who can make or break anyone and anything he wants -- and the desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), who loses everything for trying to curry favor with Hunsecker for ... well, that Sweet Smell of Success.

So ... 1957 to 2012.  A lot's changed, that's for sure.  But recently rewatching this, one of my all-time favorite films, gave me a very uncomfortable chill.  But first a bit of history (stop that groaning): you see, J.J. Hunsecker was based – more than thinly – on another all-powerful columnist, the man who once said, about the who he was, and the power he wielded as, " I'm just a son of a bitch."

There was even a word, created by Robert Heinlein of all people, to describe a person like this: winchell – for the man himself -- Walter Winchell.

A book, movie, star, politician – anyone who wanted success would do, and frequently did, anything for both Walter and his fictional doppelganger J.J. Hunsecker.  Their power was absolute ... even a rumor, a fraction of a sentence could mean the difference between headlines and the morgue of a dead career.  As Hunsecker puts it to a poor entertainer who crossed him: "You're dead, son. Get yourself buried."

Welcome to 2012: we have iPhones, Ipads, Nooks, Kindle's, 4G, Bluetooth, Facebook, Twitter ... in many ways we're just a food pill away from every futuristic fantasy ever put-to-pulp.  But there's a problem ... and it’s a big one.

I think it's time to bring winchell back ... not the man, of course, even if that were possible, but the word.  Yes, a lot has changed from Walter and Sweet Smell of Success but, sadly, as the old cliché goes: "the more things change the more they stay the same."

The Internet has altered – quite literally – everything, but in many ways the speed, and totality, of its change has made a lot of people, writers to readers to just-plain-surfers, desperate for benchmarks: a place or person to go to that, they hope, will be there in the morning.

For writers this often means an editor, site, or just another writer.  In the 'biz' these people are called names: meaning that mentioning by them seems to have a kind of rub-for-luck power for other writers – with the ultimate prize being (gasp) noticed by them.  Sadly, this make-or-break mojo is occasionally true – though a surprising large number of these “names” are only divine in their twisted little minds.

I've said it before and so, naturally, I have to say it again: writing anything – smut to whatever you want to create – is damned hard work: all of us writers put our heart and souls down on the digital page and then send it out into a far-too-frequently uncaring digital universe.  No writer ... let me say that again with vehement emphasis ... is better than any other writer.  Sure, a few get paid more, have more books or stories published, but the work involved is the same – as is their history: name any ... well, name and you will see a person who, once upon a time, was sitting in the dark with nothing but hopes and dreams. 

Which is why these ... winchells give me unpleasant flashbacks to Lancaster telling Curtis: "Son, I don't relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don't you just shuffle along?"

Honestly, I will get to the point: never forget that what you are doing, as a writer, is special and wonderful.  Yeah, you might be rough around the edges; sure, you may be years away from stepping out of the shadows and into the blinding light of being (gasp) a name yourself; but you deserve respect.

I have a simple rule.  Okay, it might be a little harsh but it keeps me going in the face of trying to get out there into the big, wide, and far-too-uncaring world: ignore me and I ignore you. 

Facebook likes and comments, twitter responses, by the way, don't count.  That's not communication – at least not to me (not to sound like a crotchety old man).  If I write anyone – an editor, site, or just another writer – and I don't get an answer then I wish you into the cornfield.  The same goes with rude responses ... like the writer who asked me to promote her book.  I said that I would if she'd promote mine as well.  Quid pro quo, right?  She never wrote back – not even after a few polite suggestions for mutual exposure  ... so I hope she likes popcorn.

Being rude, not answering messages, playing the "are you a name? If not then screw you" game: there is no reason for this behavior.  Never!

Instead of trying to suck to up names or support them and their sites with a pathetic fantasy that you, too, may actually be seen by them, find some real, true, and good friends: people who will hold your hand when it gets dark and scary; who will bring you along no matter where they go; who understand the bumps in the road because they, too, are on the same path; who will understand kindness but also karma – that good begets good. 

Being a winchell may taste good, at first: being able to consider yourself better than other writers, to associate with other names in the business, to be able to make – or break – anyone who want for whatever reason you have ... but there's a great Hollywood expression that rings in my head just as loudly as any line from Sweet Smell of Success:

Always be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because those are the very same people you'll be meeting on the way back down.

In closing, remember that anyone, anywhere – name or not -- who doesn't treat you with at least professional equality, mutual respect, or just simple human politeness is, to quote from Sweet Smell of Success: "A cookie full of arsenic."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Self Or Not?

Check this out: I just wrote a neat little "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" for the great Erotica Readers & Writers site about the perils of self-publishing.  Here's a tease - for the rest just check here.



Before I begin, a bit of disclosure: While the following has been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books. 

Now, with that out of the way...

So, should you stay with the traditional model of working with a publisher or go the self-publishing route?

I'd be lying if I said I haven't been thinking – a lot -- about this.  The arguments for stepping out on your own are certainly alluring, to put it mildly: being able to keep every dime you make – instead of being paid a royalty – and having total and complete control of your work being the big two. 

But after putting on my thinking cap – ponder, ponder, ponder -- I've come to a few conclusions that are going to keep me and my work with publishers for quite some time.

As always, take what I'm going to say there with a hefty dose of sodium chloride: what works for me ... well, works for me and maybe not you.

Being on both sides of the publishing fence – as a writer, editor, and now publisher (even as a Associate Publisher) -- has given me a pretty unique view of the world of not just writing books, working to get them out into the world, but also a pretty good glimpse at the clockwork mechanisms than run the whole shebang. 

For example, there's been a long tradition of writers if not actively hating then loudly grumbling about their publishers.  You name it and writers will bitch about it: the covers, the publicity (or lack of), royalties ... ad infinitum.  Okay, I have to admit more than a few grouches have been mine but with (and I really hate to say this) age has come a change in my perspective.  No, I don't think publishers should be given carte blanch to do with as they please and, absolutely, I think that writers should always have the freedom to speak up if things are not to their liking, but that also doesn't mean that publisher's are hand-wringing villains cackling at taking advantage of poor, unfortunate authors.

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