Tag Archives: self publishing

Finding My Self-Publishing Self by Justine Elyot

It’s always a pleasure to have Justine Elyot over on mine. Not only is she a good friend and colleague, but she’s one of my fave erotica writers, and I’m really excited today because she’s going to talk a bit about her first experience with self-publishing. Welcome back, Justine!

When I were but a lass, there was definitely a stigma attached to self-publishing. Consumer rights shows on TV such as That’s Life often featured vanity presses – shoddy outfits run by unscrupulous gits who would prey on the dreams of the unpublished in order to take their money. Self-publishing proper would only be undertaken by those with the funds to pay for printing and PR. Hardly anyone, then.

Then, digital publishing happened, and everything changed. Self-publishing has gone from a vaguely embarrassing ego trip to a genuinely viable alternative to the traditional method. It seemed like a good time to give it a whirl.

I had on my hands a story that was a bit too short for some publishers and too long for others. It was also somewhat gentler and more vanilla than my usual style and I wasn’t at all sure where it would fit. So I decided to do it myself.

I’ll confess here that it isn’t the first time. I tried it three years ago, through Smashwords and, while it wasn’t terribly difficult, the manual was long and the sales were negligible. But Amazon’s new Kindle Direct Publishing seemed to be changing the game a bit so, after a bit of a confab with a knowledgeable friend, I decided to go for it.

Boy, was it easy. I was prepared to spend days up to my eyes in formatting hell, but no. I opened my account, clicked a few tickboxes, uploaded my file and…go. Well, almost go.

First I had to wrestle with cover art. I’m not good at wrestling, and I’m even worse at cover art. My first attempt has, happily, been excised from history after the brilliant Emmy Ellis came to my rescue and donated this little beauty.

Ask No Questions

It’s been three weeks now, and I can’t say sales have been stellar, but I have the KDP Select weapon of five days free promotion lined up in my arsenal and I’ll be interested to see if it makes a difference.

By signing up to the Select programme, I commit to making the story exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. After that, I can place it on whichever other sites I like. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I’m using this story, in effect, as a walkthrough for a forthcoming novel publication, to teach myself the ropes. It’s an interesting and fun learning experience, and if you fancy going for it, I’d encourage you.

But…what about the book itself? I (don’t) hear you ask!

Ask No Questions is a 32,000 word novella about a sheep farmer and the mysterious pair of legs he finds in his barn during a rainstorm. (The pair of legs is attached to a person, you may be relieved to hear.)

Excerpt? Why, it would be a pleasure!

He gritted his teeth, awaiting Kim’s response, feeling guilty for bringing her this far without thinking of the consequences, not to mention furious with himself. Actually, it was the lump in his trousers that was most furious of all, but he wasn’t about to let it have its way and override his common sense, tempted as he was.

She propped herself on her elbows, blinking at him.


“Well, you know. No…protection.”

“Do I need protection from you?”

“Look, I can go to the chemist first thing in the morning but ―”

“Well, that’s all right then. You can do that. And meanwhile…don’t tell me you’ve never heard of all the other things you can do, Mr Demon Lover?”

“Of course I know about the other things.” He began to take off his shirt, his heartbeat regulating, his hopes rising once more. It was OK. It would be OK. “Believe me, I know all about them.”

“That’s good,” said Kim, faux-innocent. “Because I have no idea at all. Please show me what they are.”

He threw his shirt aside and pounced back down on her, bare-chested, hovering over her luscious naked body. She laced her fingers around the back of his neck, pulling him further down so that when he spoke, their lips touched.

“You know fine well, madam,” he said. “You can’t pull the wool over my eyes.”

“Well, you’d know all about wool.”

He nipped at her lip, a warning, then smiled devilishly and shimmied back down until he knelt between her thighs once more.

“You’re not the only one who can tease, remember,” he said, reminding her with a thumbnail flick to one of her nipples.

“Oh God, don’t start that again,” she begged, bucking her spine.

He answered by bending and taking a nipple in his mouth, sucking luxuriously and unhurriedly while she kicked her heels and beat her fists on the rug. This was how he wanted her – frustrated beyond endurance, desperate for everything he could give.

She tried so many different tactics to move him towards her pussy – stealth, force, sweet requests, demands – but he was only going there when he was good and ready, and her nipples were as swollen as they could be.

Finally he released his engorged little captives and knelt up again. He held her eyes as his hand moved down her stomach, prodding at her navel, then lower. He placed his palm flat on her mons.

“Want it?” he asked softly.

“You know, oh God. Yes.”

He dipped his forefinger inside her lips, gathering juice from the pink swirls surrounding her clit. He could see it clearly – it was far out of hiding, as if declaring itself open to him. Come and get me. You bet I will, he said to himself.

But first he removed his finger and sucked the juice from it, watching as Kim’s face contorted with further agonies of arousal. The first taste on his tongue, the sweetest in years.

“Want some?” he whispered, harvesting more and putting his finger to Kim’s lips this time.


If you want to read more, Ask No Questions is available from…but I’m sure you’ve already worked it out…AMAZON!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Lily Harlem Shares Her Experiences in Self-Publishing

Self-publishing, which used to be the kiss of death for a writer, is now coming into its own in ways no one would have thought possible even five years ago. It’s my pleasure to have a writer who has had success in both traditional publishing and now in self-publishing. Please welcome the very talented Lily Harlem.

KD: Lily, you have critically acclaimed works out by multiple publishers, what inspired you to try the self-publishing route?

LH: Hi K D, first of all thanks so much for having me here today, it’s always great to come and hang out with you.

Self-publishing, okay, well I got the initial idea from a lecture at Eroticon 2012 – http://writesexright.com/eroticon-2013/  given by the very lovely M K Elliot – http://www.steamyspice.blogspot.co.uk –  (I’m still lusting after the fantastic scarlet stilettoes she wore that day. Wow!). She talked about self-publishing at Amazon and the success she’s had with this way of telling her stories. Yes, there are ups and downs, positives and negatives, and certainly there’s a lot of work involved. You, as the author, have to do everything, but still, she didn’t put me off and I decided to have a go. I should say at this point that M K was a wonderful help during my first steps and completely okay with me firing off emails with ‘silly’ questions. Thanks M K 🙂


KD: Tell us how the experience has been for you.

LH: Fun, stressful, liberating, worrisome, rewarding, hard work and incredibly satisfying!


KD: Now that you’ve experienced both traditional publishing and self-publishing, can you give our readers a comparison of the two.

LH: I’m definitely glad that my introduction into the world of publishing was through a traditional publisher who held my hand every step of the way. All I had to do was write, they did the cover art, worked with the edits, sorted out the copyright jargon and did a big chunk of the marketing. They took me on the wild ride that is publishing your first book without any of the stress!

Self-publishing is definitely not for the faint hearted. You have to be brave and just go for it! Certainly you have to believe in the story you’re publishing, which is where some great beta readers, who are honest and critical, become worth their weight in gold! With self-publishing there’s no editor saying “you can’t write that” or “this would never happen”. To these points sometimes I agree, other times not so much, self-publishing is all your own choice—every single word, action of the characters and twist in the plot. So yes, confidence has to play a part in self-publishing, and I don’t think I would have had the confidence if I hadn’t gone down the traditional route first.


KD: Who would you recommend self-publishing to, as far as writers go?

L H: Writers who’ve already been published traditionally so they have an understanding of the process. Plus if you already have a name as an author, and people have read and enjoyed your books, they’re more likely to pick up your self-published one.


KD:  With the rise in ePublishing the stigma that was always attached to self-publishing seems to be rapidly disappearing. Why do you think that is?

LH: It’s great that the stigma is going, it means everyone gets a chance to not only tell their story, but everyone also has a chance to read it. In regards to why that stigma is lifting, I think it’s because some really good quality authors are putting work out there, M K Elliot being just one who springs to mind. At one time self-published books were regarded as poor works, badly edited, things no traditional publisher would touch with a barge pole. But not any more, established authors can use self-publishing as a way of cutting out the middle-man and being free to write what and how they want to. I don’t think it will ever take over, but it is certainly establishing its place in the world of publishing.


KD: What’s the hardest part of self-publishing? The best part?

LH: The hardest part, definitely the editing process. Despite having my latest release The Glass Knot beta read by two separate partners, I still found a few spelling mistakes/misplaced words on my last read through, and then I thought ‘I better read it again’ and I found another two! ‘Damn, better read the whole 60,000 words over’ – I send myself slightly nuts doing that! But eventually I have to hit that publish button! I’m sure the fact that I switch between the US dictionary and the UK dictionary, depending on which publisher I’m writing for, sends my brain a bit squiffy sometimes!!


KD: Now that you’ve experienced traditional and self-publishing, could you share with us your insights. What stands out about the experience?

LH: One of the most useful things I’ve been able to do with self-publishing is offer readers a chunk of another one or even two of my books at the end. Rather than just an excerpt I’ve added full chapters. This way they can see if they fancy reading it. Also if the book that’s just been read is of a particular sub-genre, ménage a trois for example, I’ve been able to list and link my other ménage books. I’ve found this a really useful part of the experience and I hope readers like it too.


KD: What about sales? How do your self-publishing sales compare with those of your works that have been traditionally published?

LH: The amount of books I sell is pretty much the same, the main difference being with self-publishing, because the royalties are higher, I can sell a book cheaper and make the same amount per book as I would if it was being sold through a publisher. I can also track my sales easier with self-publishing, so I know if any promotional work I’ve done that week has had a direct result on the book selling.


KD: Any advice for people who are considering self-publishing for their own works?

LH: You need to have a good set of people around you to help out with cover art, editing and beta reading, I’m incredibly lucky to be good friends and write with Natalie Dae who, in her day job is a cover artist and has edited in the past too. If you’re not a US resident you have to sort out a tax-exempt number with the IRS which can be a bit of a fiddle, but well worth it. Plus be patient with yourself, know that it will take time, but when it’s all done, the feeling is great. M K was good enough to help me on the first time round, and I’m happy to pass that on and answer any questions either here or through my website.


Thanks so much for inviting me, K D, it’s been great 😉

Lily x


Website http://www.lilyharlem.com/

Blog http://www.lilyharlem.blogspot.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/lily_harlem

Facebook http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Lily-Harlem/100003519563064

Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Harlem-author-page/200182030094568

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/lilyharlem/

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4070110.Lily_Harlem


Lily Harlem


Self-published books


The Glass KnotThe Glass Knot

What’s a girl to do when the guy she falls for is married to another man?

This is exactly what happened to me. Seeing Josh Kendal stroll out of the Mediterranean Sea wearing tight navy swim trunks and looking like a hot new James Bond was a truly delicious moment. Catching sight of his wedding ring was like a kick in the shin and meeting his gorgeous husband, phew, that was enough to make any girl groan at the cruel joke God was playing on her.

But all was not as it seemed, and when Josh needed a woman to sort out a ‘delicate predicament’ I was the one for the job – heck, what did I have to lose? Certainly not as much as him, literally.

Trouble is, emotions always get tangled, loyalties can’t help but be divided and with a night of memories so hot they’d have the devil sweating, there was only one thing for it—it was time to get honest, fight for what I wanted despite society’s constraints and open my heart to the people it needed most.

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009OR4LDW

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glass-Knot-ebook/dp/B009OR4LDW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350135893&sr=8-1



Okay, so I eat, sleep and breathe football and reporting the beautiful game is my dream career. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have time for a major crush on the England captain, Lewis Tate. The bloke is sex on legs, hot with a capital H. Add in his awe-inspiring talent, his brooding good looks and what’s not to lust after?

So my excitement is sky-high as I set off with the official press team to cover England’s battle for the European Cup. But when a series of unfortunate, or as it turns out fortunate events, attracts Tate’s attention my way, who am I to say no?

Add in a misogynistic manager, an over-zealous colleague, two blue silk ties and some incredible ball-handling skills and it becomes clear the road to victory, for me, will be an intensely erotic journey. Determined to savor every moment, I hang onto my sanity as best I can while living the fantasy and wondering if it can ever become reality. Because once Lewis Tate has taken me to heaven and back, its clear no one else will ever compare.

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scored-ebook/dp/B0085MQSA6/ref=sr_1_14?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350135948&sr=1-14

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Scored-ebook/dp/B0085MQSA6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1337925243&sr=8-3


Good Cop, Bad CopGood Cop, Bad Cop

Fame and fortune is a blessing that, for me, has changed its taste from sumptuously sweet to murderously bitter. Leaving me no choice but to look over my shoulder at every turn and question the scruples of even my most faithful friends.

I would give up all the glowing adoration from my fans in a heartbeat in exchange for not running for my life. But fate doesn’t deal cards that way, and instead I find myself far out at sea and being bounced between two hot cops—one so chilly just his glance gives me frostbite, and the other showing a kindness that barely covers his own demons.

So with nowhere else to turn, quite literally, I have to trust two men I hardly know with my life and cope without the luxuries my status usually affords me. But it’s not long before I discover when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Turns out these cops are not only the wrong guys to mess with, they also have partnership skills above and beyond the requirements of their day job. And for once, while just being me without the frills, I get to discover that they are as sinfully bad as they are dreamily good in every department, and it seems, I am the one they want cuffed and controlled at the same time as they are protecting and serving.

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Good-Cop-Bad-ebook/dp/B0095WD3KI/ref=sr_1_17?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350136139&sr=1-17

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Cop-Bad-ebook/dp/B0095WD3KI/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350135941&sr=1-11



An erotic short story. When a woman wants to experiment, how does she ask for more?

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/More-ebook/dp/B008UW2PR6/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350136920&sr=1-7

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/More-ebook/dp/B008UW2PR6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350135981&sr=1-1

I. G. Frederick Discusses Judging a Book by its Cover

I’d like to welcome I. G. Frederick back to my site to share some very interesting insights into something very near and dear to every novelist’s heart, book cover design and its effect on sales.


DommemoirPeople do judge a book by its cover. Case in point: my third novel, Dommemoir. The original publisher approached me and offered promotional/marketing support to get me to sign with them.

They sponsored a launch party that featured a cake topped with a marzipan male genitalia wearing a ball spreader. I wrote guest blog posts. I gave workshops. I appeared on radio shows. I held a second launch party hosted by a Body Piercing & Tattoo establishment whose owner had been a resource for scenes in the book. The book received excellent reviews and was a Night Owl Romance Top Pick.

Sales were disappointing.

After two years, I got the rights back to the book and re-released it. I did none of those things. No party. No guest blog posts. No radio shows. I mentioned the book on Twitter, Face book, and G+.

My launch day sales exceeded those the publisher reported for the entire first quarter when it was originally released and they’ve steadily increased since then. As of mid May, my sales exceeded those of the publisher for the entire time they had the rights to the book.

The only thing I changed (except for correcting some minor typos) was the interior and cover design. And, while the former might make for a better reading experience, the latter is what dramatically increased my book sales.

The original cover looked okay in print, but it did nothing to sell the book. The thumbnail was a black blob. I never liked it, but I’d already gotten the publisher to ditch an even worse cover design and knew I’d never get this one changed.

One of the advantages of Indie publishing is having complete control over how your book looks. But, that also means you own responsibility for every facet of your book’s appearance. I’m fortunate in that I have skills as a typesetter and book designer. The interior design of the first edition of Dommemoir was just plain boring and I could fix that.

I’ve had some graphic design experience, and I’m comfortable creating simple covers for short stories. But, I’m not a designer or an artist. As I mentioned on this blog at the beginning of the year, I already had Nyla Alisia at Pussy Cat Press, who is both, redesign the covers for the second editions of Broken and Shattered. (Sales for both have also increased dramatically with the new covers. They are not romances so they have a smaller audience. But, they still outsold their original, three-year publisher release at the end of May after less than seven months with new covers. Some of those sales could be attributed to the lack of e-books when the books were originally released. But they’re selling in paper as well.)

As a result, when Nyla asked me to trust her and give her free reign to design the new cover for Dommemoir, I agreed. Although normally she only reads a synopsis and a few chapters before working on a cover design, apparently she wasn’t able to put Dommemoir down and ended up reading the entire book. (And, after she finished it, Nyla decided she would like to be a FemDom and wrote a tagline warning readers: “This book will change women’s perspective on relationship dynamics forever.”)

She took the elements that touched her, that made the story powerful, and combined them in a unique cover that captures the emotional content of the book. I know if she had tried to explain the cover to me or showed me a sketch to convey the idea, I probably would have vetoed it. But, the minute I saw what she created, I fell in love and only requested some very minor adjustments.

In one image she managed to cover every critical element of the book, without giving away too much. It is absolutely perfect! And, the sales numbers prove that a good cover really can make or break a book.

Recently, I taught a class on self publishing at a local college. When I spoke about cover design, I started with a bag full of books that I believe have great covers. One by one, I pulled each book out of the bag, held it up for a few seconds, and put it back. Then, I asked my students to tell me what genre that book was marketed in. (Genre being a way to categorize the emotional response expected from a reader.) Even with only a few seconds to view each cover, at least one student accurately stated the genre of each book.

And, then, I went on to explain why that was important.

You have to write a good book. You have to put it in front of the right audience with a blurb that entices them to read a sample. But, if you don’t have an eye catching cover that captures the emotional tone of the book at first glance, you’ll never get readers to click on your cover instead of one of the dozens of others vying for their attention.


I.G. Frederick has traded words for cash more years than she cares to admit and has specialized in erotic fiction and poetry since 2001. She has sold numerous short stories and poems to various print and electronic magazines and anthologies. Her novels have received high praise from readers, critics, and other authors.

You can download the first two chapters of Dommemoir or a free short story excerpt, “Jarod,” from her website where you can also read reviews of her work and find links to purchase her novels, poetry books, and individual short stories. She resides in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. with her submissive, Patrick, and three other felines.