Things I wish I knew when I started self-publishing

First, some background. I’ve been a technical writer for well over twenty years. Software manuals, online help, and so forth. It’s a form of writing that barely nudges the satisfaction index. In 2009, partly to preserve my sanity, I decided to write for fun. In that year, I penned what would become the first chapter of my first novel and posted it on Literotica. Several chapters later, I’d garnered enough of a favorable response that I thought I might be onto something.

In 2013, I took the plunge and posted my first novel on Amazon, followed by several others. Writing erotica is a hobby for me. I do it when I’m not working (and sometimes when I am) and in the quiet wee morning hours when most sensible people are not thinking about anything even vaguely erotic. It’s fun. I get to exercise a different part of my brain. I get to fantasize about sex. I put imaginary people in difficult situations. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get to act out a scene with my unsuspecting partner. I write for myself and if others enjoy it, great. That said, I have to admit that some small deluded part of my soul hoped for fame (though notoriety would have been good too) and some small fortune. I’m probably not alone in that. After several years of doing this, fame/notoriety and fortune are still elusive. Which brings me to the things I wish I knew when I started…

You’re competing with free
Every day or so, Bookbub sends emails that usually contains a free title or two. Authors on Twitter and Facebook promote their freebies. If you felt like it, you could amble over to Amazon and choose from hundreds of free novels. Honestly, given the state of things, readers would never have to pay for a book ever again. (Disclosure: I do occasionally purchase novels, usually from writers I know and whose craft brings me pleasure, but my e-reader is also filled with freebies that I may or may not get to). And that’s the point: no one needs to buy anything anymore. In that context, any purchase of an indie title is a gift, a blessing, a small miracle, particularly given the fact that…

You’re competing with countless writers (a lot of whom are better than you)
Well, competing isn’t really the right word, but you get the point. There are countless writers of skill and accomplishment who nonetheless reside in the cellar of the Amazon’s sales ranking. Then there are the established bestselling authors with the weight of traditional publishing houses behind them. The fact is that there is a finite number of eyes and a seemingly infinite number of books (getting more seemingly infinite by the day because ebooks, unlike printed books, never go away). How’s an unknown indie writer to compete? In a word, you don’t. While indies occasionally pen massive best-sellers, that kind of success will probably elude you. Even if you publish regularly and build a small readership, you probably won’t be able to give up your day job. You write because you enjoy it and because you can’t not write. If you take a few readers along for an enjoyable ride, that’s probably as good as you can reasonably hope for, because…

Nothing you write precious
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your novel is the next undiscovered gem. Chances are, it isn’t. If you have several books under your belt, try this: re-read your first one. In all likelihood, you will encounter things that you wish you’d done differently. You may find mistakes. You might even be horrified. Time and experience has made your precious gem a cubic zirconia. The point is, you hone your craft with every book. Hopefully you get better. (My life as a tech writer taught me that no manual (or book) is ever finished, it’s just published). Once a book is published (warts and all), it’s out of your hands. Move on. Related to this point is that…

Your editors/beta readers are always right
Again, nothing you’ve written is precious. If you have any sense, you’ll recruit a number of readers to go through your masterwork before you publish (and even then, there will be mistakes). If you have money, you’ll hire an editor (and even then, there may be mistakes). If one reader stumbles on something you’ve written, others probably will as well. Change it. Only a fool ignores such comments. And even if you do all these things…

Some people will dislike your work (and there may be a good reason for it)
Praise is great. Five-star reviews are lovely. But crummy reviews have value as well. If you receive a review that complains about grammatical problems or you’ve triggered someone’s fragile sensibilities, take a deep breath, leave it for a couple of days to get over the inevitable fit of pique, and then read the review again. Don’t bother getting angry or resentful, because (trolls aside) there may be something to it. Like comments from editors and beta readers, you ignore bad reviews at your peril. Let the bad review inform your next work or consider re-publishing a new-and-improved edition.

It’s a slow painful process
Don’t be impatient. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t click Publish today. When you finish a book, leave it alone for a month or two. When you click Save for the last time, you’re probably so sick of the thing that you can’t look at it anymore. Start writing your next book. Read something from a writer who is more accomplished than you are. Then, if you have the stomach for it, read your draft over. Carefully. You’ll be amazed at what you find. You might be disgusted and scrap the entire project or you might impress yourself.

If and when you do click Publish, expect nothing and take the small successes with gratitude and grace.

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The Demon’s Apprentice

The 4th volume of the Demonsong series is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Until September 22, this new release and all previous volumes of Demonsong will be available for 99 cents.


devils acolyte test copy

A home, a mortal lover, and something approaching a normal life – it was more than a sex demon could hope for.

Perhaps it was too good to last.

Because now there’s a new agent of sin in town and she’s unlike anything the demons have seen before. When Mercy, an unassuming university student, is unwittingly drawn to the dark side of lust, little does she know that she has become a pawn in the timeless battle for souls. As her life descends into carnal abandon, the demons come to realize that the greatest threat to them could be one of their own.

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A couple of new ones…

I have a couple of new short stories on my Freebies and Excerpts page. They haven’t been published (perhaps with good reason) but I’ve made them available to you — the few, the proud, the followers of this dark corner of the blogosphere. The new stories are Magnum and The Duct Cleaner. Give ’em a read and let me know what you think.

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Did you get a new e-reader for Christmas? Need to populate it with something a little kinky? Well, you can download Swallowtail for free on December 26 and 27. In this cold season, enjoy the warmth of a little BDSM erotica.

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Demonsong box set

All of the Demonsong novels — Incubus, The Succubus and the Seminarian, and The Devil’s Own — are now available in a box set, which can be found here.

Even Kat and Damian, two sex demons who operate beyond any sense of morality, are governed by the quirks of fate. So when a half demon, seminarian, and a pair of rogue angels are thrown into the mix, visiting sin upon the unsuspecting becomes ever more complicated.

demonsong box

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The tyranny of the billionaire

It dawned on me as I embarked on planning a new BDSM series that there is one exceedingly rare demographic that is astoundingly over-represented in erotica.

To wit: there are 536 (give or take) billionaires in the US, and yet this near-mythical creature features in an astounding 17,560 erotica titles on Amazon. By comparison, there are 457 results for lawyer + erotica and only 60 for plumber + erotica.

Now, it’s easy to understand how some meek mouse might tremble in submissive yearning for an intense and invariably maladjusted billionaire; less easy to understand how that same mouse might submit to a plumber or pipefitter. I would argue that the latter might make for better fiction, at least in terms of exploring the sub’s motivations. I would argue further that the plumber might have more innate dominance going for him (or her) without the buckets of cash with which to unnerve and overwhelm a prospective sub.

And so I decided to steer well clear of the well-heeled and wealthy. The old slap and tickle might well be happening in mansions and estates across the land, but it would seem that most of it happens in that postwar bungalow or apartment next door.

It’s time to free the fictional Dom(me) from the tyranny of the billionaire. We are, after all, the 99%.

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The Devil’s Own

The Devil’s Own, the third volume in the Demonsong series, is now available on Amazon (

When the succubus Kat returns from her self-imposed exile with a former seminarian (and lover) in tow, she fully expects that there will be some difficult adjustments. How could joining a household that already contains an incubus and a half-demon possibly be otherwise?

An already challenging situation is soon aggravated by the machinations of a pair of angels with their own mysterious agenda. It quickly becomes apparent that there is more afoot than a simple skirmish between the forces of good and evil.

devils own

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