In my budding career as an erotic author, I have been lucky enough to hit the ball on pretty much my first swing (check out Yes Boss on Xcite), whether it is a home run or just trickles to a halt a couple of yards from my feet, remains to be seen. Here is a diary of how it happened.
Mid Jan – It has been in the back of my mind to take the stories that I have already written and make some money out of them somehow. A girlfriend of mine tells me that she is enjoying one of the Cocktales books.
I go online to find out who the publisher is. This turns out to be a little outfit called Xcite books. After reading and rereading their Write for Xcite page, I think that I might have some material that they can use, I also note that they pay 50% of their ebook royalties directly to the author. I can practically hear the sound of rustling bank notes.
26th Jan – I sign up for, download and read all the free content that I can from Xcite plus a few other similar outfits to get a feel for the standard of writing and the type of subject matter that they want. I am not too intimidated. In fact, in my own humble opinion, my stories are at least that good if not better. I do have a few problems though.
Most of my stories are really just scenes rather than stories in that they cover a single sexual encounter. This means that they are too short for submission to Xcite. Also, according to the Xcite guidelines, I need to put in more plot and motivation for my characters. Mostly, my characters enjoy the sex so much that it is its own motivation! Xcite would like a bit more depth to their thinking. The story of mine that seems closest to their requirements is about a naughty secretary and her after-hours encounter with one of the suits. Its biggest problem is that it is written from the man’s point of view and Xcite prefers a woman’s perspective. I decide to rewrite it from the woman’s POV. This will give me the opportunity to put in a bit more thinking, no offense to any men reading this .
Over the course of two long evenings, I take my 4,300 Male POV story and re-jig it to nearly 6,000 words of female POV story. Then I cut it back to 5,000 to be within the Xcite short story guidelines of 3,500 to 5,000.
29th Jan –I send off my manuscripts. Manuscripts plural as I decide to send both the Male and Female POV. I am hedging my bets but I also think that the contrast is interesting.
The title, rather pretentiously, is ‘Misuse of Company Resources’. I have edited it until I am bored. I have reformatted it with the appropriate font and line spacing. I have included all the relevant info in an email and written a short promotional blurb. I cross my fingers and hit the ‘Send’ button.
Then 5 minutes later I do it again but this time with the actual documents attached.
30th Jan – Begin waiting.
31st Jan – Bored of waiting. Begin researching how much money I am going to make.
1st Feb – Rather disheartened to discover that my chances of getting published are rather less than 1% and even if that happens then my chances of getting rich are still pretty minimal. I stop writing the resignation letter that I have been working on.
14th Feb – I get an email back from an Editor at Xcite. Just seeing it in my inbox gives me a completely out of proportion chill of excitement. It is very prompt on her part, but 2 weeks has been long enough to dampen my original high hopes somewhat. I am expecting a standard rejection letter such as the one’s Stephen King used to keep on a spike by his desk before he got his first break.
I scan her email so fast that the words are a blur. Fortunately, she is clear and direct in her writing and I spot the important bit straight away. There it is, on the third line, we would like to buy it. My heart leaps into my throat. I read the email again at something slightly less than superhuman speed, and then again at nearly normal speed. It’s true, I have sold a story. I am actually giddy.
I want to run up and down the cubicle farm corridors high fiving and cart wheeling. I just about manage to restrain myself and finish the day without whooping out loud but I do get the resignation letter back out and redraft it a few times whilst daydreaming about selling the film rights.
16th Feb – I get another email from my editor. My editor, I love saying that. I was so excited yesterday that I sent her a long gushing mail answering her questions and asking many of my own. I wanted to know how she liked the male POV and the contrast between the two voices. What it was that made her say yes. What I should write next and many more. When it turns out that she didn’t even read the male POV all the way through I am somewhat deflated.
Once I think about it though, I understand a bit more about how this works. She probably has a stack of 100 submitted stories on her desk. She reads my first one and it is good enough. Tick. She starts in on the second one, once she realises that it has the same plot as the first, she knows that she isn’t going to buy them both. Xcite caters mostly to women so the female POV is the winner. Decision made, no more effort required, stop reading. Then she is on to the next story in a stack that is now only 98 high. Except 3 more submissions just came in so there are actually 101 in the pile and she needs to get a wiggle on.
I realise that editors are very busy people who don’t have time to mentor, spoon-feed or coddle their neurotic authors. The corollary to this is that we authors have to be self-sufficient or at least find support personnel who will work for free.
17th Feb – To be fair, my editor does point me at a few things that I need to polish up like the blurb which I completely rewrite although I think I still need some practice on that front. She also helps me with the title which goes from the pretentious Misuse of Company Resources to the much punchier Yes Boss. I also get an e-contract from Accent Press which I e-sign and return.
It all feels very official now.
20th Feb – I get the edited and typeset copy of Yes Boss from my editor. Gee, she works fast.
It looks very different from my original. There are a lot of formatting and punctuation changes, some to correct my mistakes but mostly to conform to house style. It is all very professional. But then, very soon I will get a royalty cheque (I’ll buy a copy myself if I have to) and I too will be a paid professional author. Is it bad that Word had to autocorrect me when I misspelt professional just then?
21st Feb – I send back my final changes to the manuscript, which are minimal, and that is it. It is finished and ready to go. It is too late to make it better. That night I dream about ways to improve my clunky writing; a better adjective here, a judicious cut there. Was I too repetitive with my verbs or did I stretch my readers ability to suspend disbelief with too much referring to my Thesaurus. Did I explain everything and get all my ideas across or did I overburden it with too much description?
Note to budding authors; make sure it is perfect before sending it out there because there is no getting it back.
27th Feb – My editor sends me my author’s copy. There is a hot young, dishevelled blond on the cover. I always pictured Debs as a brunette as well as a bit older and more buxom. But I reckon this young ingénue may sell a few copies so that is OK. Seeing my little tale presented as a proper book for the first time is an unexpectedly large thrill. I am a bona fide author.
I start making a shopping list of things to spend my first royalty cheque on.
8th Mar – Go live date. The book is now available on Xcite for the bargain price of 65 new British pence. Of this, I will receive half, or 32.5p. I want to email my whole contacts list and make them all buy one but I restrict myself to a trusted few, the ones I don’t mind telling that I am a pornographer.
This list does not include my Mum.
7th Apr – My good friend Nicky tells me that she has seen Yes Boss on the Barnes and Noble site! Wow I have hit the big time. I Google myself and discover that I am available on:
- And of course Xcite.
I am going to be rich. Rich, rich, rich!
30th Apr – My first royalty statement arrives. My sales for March are.
Drum roll please.
So my half is £2.37.
That is about $4. Or €3 Euros.
I may have to rethink my shopping list.
Interestingly, at 65p per copy that means that I have sold 7.3 copies. I wonder who bought the 0.3.
That leaves only 3076915.7 copies to sell before I am a millionaire. Maybe April’s numbers will be better.