The Shore

The ShoreDespite the best efforts of November, The Shore is now published on KDP. Click the picture to go through to the book page. It’ll cost you the pricely sum of 99 cents. Not even a dollar!

It’s based partly on real life events (I know both people the tale is based on and what really happened that day) . I’ll leave it up to the imagination of the reader to decide where real life stopped and my imagination took over. The water really was that cold though, and at least up until they get out of the water, all the spectators were there too.

The cover concept has been revised due to previous covers being filtered by Amazon. They’ve been filtering anything that shows any flesh. Maybe I went too far in toning things down. One observation has been that the cover looks like it might be literary rather than erotica. I was going to take the cover picture myself (this is a royalty free image with free permission to use) in which case I would have had a pile of clothes in the foreground. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have changed it much at all anyway.

I have to come think that a cover doesn’t need to ooze sex. What do you think?

How Much??? (part one)

The two most common complaints leveled at short form erotica (short stories to you and me) are that they are too expensive for what they are, and that the quality is too poor.

I received my first ‘It’s too expensive’ message yesterday. It was not actually part of an Amazon review, just a message from what looks like a fakeish account (and just a porn collector) from Tumblr. I doubt the sender bought anything, just looked at the $2.99 price and the length of the stories and made the comment to be ‘helpful’.

When it comes to pricing (and especially my pricing), there are a variety of forces at play here.

First, how much effort does it actually take?

There was that writing thing, then the first edit, my partner proof read it, then I made changes during the second edit. Then I had to format it for submission to the Kindle, create a cover, upload it all, and a final visual proof of the Kindle version online. Finally, write the blurb for the book entry on Amazon.

Oh, and then add it to my WordPress blog and Tumblr, and announce it on my Facebook page. I haven’t even started any real marketing of anything beyond trying to get a few people to read my Twitter, Facebook, Tumblrs, and WordPress blog. That’s just a value added extra effort on top of the actual writing and publishing side of things.

It can take a working day. It can take a lot less, and I can clearly see from the dreadful quality of some stories that have passed my way, that a lot of people don’t edit or proof read, and leave any grammar and spell checking to Word. However, I like to keep the quality of my work as high as I can, so each story, from conception to publishing, takes roughly a complete working day. And I charge $2.99 for that. Yes, it could sell a million copies but we both know it will not. At my going rate for commercial work in my main line of employment, I would have to sell quite a few hundred copies to earn equal remuneration.

All in all, it’s not a small venture, even for a short story. My first erotic short, Last Night in Berlin, does come in on the short side even by my own estimation. However, it still has a start, middle, and an end. It has sex. It is a complete erotic short story.  And to read it costs less than the cost of a beer.

Second, the price of beer. I judge my own disposable expenditure level by the cost of beer. In the UK the price of a beer in a bar or pub is around £3-4. Anything priced below that I class as a disposable purchase, something that is essentially a throw away purchase. After all, once you’ve drunk that beer it’s gone.

Third, blame Amazon. Amazon’s pricing structure means that at $2.99 and above I get a whopping 70% royalty. Below $2.99 and I get a measly 30%. To put that into a nice easy to view sum, selling 5 copies at $2.99 makes $10.50.  Just one cent less at $2.98, I would have to sell 12 to make around the same sum. At the very common price point of $1, I would need to sell 33 copies. I am sure Amazon have their reasons for the gouging at lower price levels. I’m not sure what they are, but they must have them.

Were Amazon willing to simply have a flat 70% rate it would give sellers much more leeway in their ability to price their works and try to make a reasonable profit from their hard work.

And finally, just because XYZ gives their 200,000 word full length novel away for a $1 does not mean that all other works should be priced relative to that. My work is my work, and I price it accordingly. I am quite sure that in time I will drop various items to $1 and probably do promotions where you can get books for free. But right now I do not. and that’s fine for me, and fine for anybody else who wants to put their work on Amazon or anywhere else.

French Lessons

ImageFrench Lessons is up and available. I have to admit the title is a little cliched, but it came after a dozen or so attempts at changing it from the original concept which involved an adult brother and sister relationship. Also a browse across the Internet for the various interpretations of Amazon’s Content Guidelines hinted very strongly at a large number of words being disallowed or getting the story filtered. So ‘French Lessons’ it is.

The title is actually the first working title I gave it a couple of years ago when I wrote the original (and very different) version. That read like a bad theater production and is better left undisturbed.

The story is a based on a mix of two real events. One recounted from a girlfriend who had a sexual encounter with two brothers. The other was twenty years ago when me and my friends were working as Au-pairs for various families in Surrey. However, It is a work of fiction, and not even the names needed to be changed to protect the not so innocent.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

R.M. xx

Running blind with taboos

Finished editing the second short story (7000+) words.  Happy enough, made a table of contents, final proof read done, got my cover and I am ready to upload to Amazon.  While I am doing this I am curious about something. I check via Google. My unrelated search threw up something about banned books and books being removed from sale. Intrigued, I investigate.

Step backwards. This is a story I wrote years and years ago. It’s actually drawn from two real life experiences; one is mine and the other is from a girlfriend. My element is an experience as an Au-pair in Surrey. The eyes of the men in those situations are always on you; mostly harmless glances and trying to see down your top or up your skirt. It really depended on the family you were placed with. Sometimes yes, the people were hot. I know friends who slept with husbands and sometimes wives. It happens.

The second element was a sexual encounter related by a friend. She had been taking a break in a relationship and became involved with guy who happened to have a non-identical twin. One day, while all sitting on the sofa she and her guy start mucking around and it leads to sex. Right in front of the other brother.  Yes, she fantasized about having sex with both of them. She also fantasized about watching them perform together too.  That fantasy did not come true. Instead, the other brother undid his trousers and masturbated to orgasm while watching them fuck, then simply left.

In my story they became brother and sister, not twins; the twenty-something son and daughter of an elderly couple who employ our Au-pair to learn some French. The daughter arrives, seduces the Au-pair, and reveals her reason; she’s an escort who pays women to have sex with her elderly father. The Au-pair feelings trampled, she decides that the money is the only thing worth being at the party for and agrees. After having sex with him, the daughter comes to see how she is and continue her own seduction. They are joined by her brother and all have sex together.

Incest. I wanted to push the envelope when I wrote it. I presented the whole thing through the eyes of the non-family member so it could explore her confrontation with various taboos. First the age gap of a much older man, then the shock of seeing the two people you desire turn out to be brother and sister. It’s not a social experiment. In the story she is disgusted by the old man at first, and then turned on by her own feelings. Likewise she sees her role with the brother and sister as the spectator. She saw them kiss and grope earlier in the evening, and at the end she is on the bed with both of them. They have sex together, all of them.

In literature, incest is a taboo that is explored as a hidden shame. In erotica it is presented as a sexual taboo; a boundary to push against or cross. It is there to titillate and excite, to make you squirm and feel uncomfortable, to make you feel their shame, embarrassment, and perhaps even empowerment.

Incest is also illegal.

Amazon has a blanket ban on certain topics. Incest is one of them. There is a loop-hole; the brother and sister can be non-blood relations. It could be a step-father with age of consent stepson or stepdaughter too.

Reading the Amazon content guild-lines didn’t help. Reading the various blogs talking about the trouble with Amazon filtering their books was much more helpful. Mostly it allowed me to step back and get back out of the main character’s head. I realised I wasn’t trying to shock the character but the reader. Notwithstanding the obvious problem of not being able to publish anything in erotica containing incest, I realised it made the story wrong.

I changed the story; initially just one word. In the scene where Christian introduces himself as the brother, I changed that one word to husband. Amazingly, that one word changed the dynamics of the whole story. Gone is the brother sister incestual relationship, in comes the husband and wife tag-team predator relationship. One word did all that. I removed a few more things that no longer quite made sense, but 99.9% of the story remained unchanged.

The erotica is a side-line. I normally write other fiction. Incest in literature is exploratory and questioning, part of a plot leading to other issues, conflicts, and resolutions.  In erotica it is titillation. I think my erotica is better off without it.

(Note: I truly believe that what consenting adults want to do with each other, especially in private is utterly between them.)

Amazon oops

And I forgot to add my author page to the amazon .COM site. grrr. Feels like I was only half finished all this time now. And why does the US site allow blog RSS feeds, while the UK Amazon site doesn’t?