As of this morning I’ve sold 30,627 Kindle books since 29th August, 2010. My Bedtime Erotica collections make up eighty-eight percent of those sales with 26,877 copies sold, while my first romance novel, Soca Nights, makes up five percent with 1584 copies sold. These figures are far beyond my expectations and I still have to pinch myself to ensure that I’m not dreaming.
But I’ve learned some surprising lessons this past year—the most surprising is the realization that many writers of other genres don’t consider writers of erotica to be ‘real’ writers. Writers’ forums are great places to gather information, but they are not places to air your views unless you’re one of the popular people. It’s a bizarre experience posting a response in a thread, only to have the next person ignore your post completely and respond to, or quote, the person above you. I’m an introvert and have made lurking an art form since I published my first book in 2005. This year I made an effort to join debates and to share the knowledge I’ve gained on my six-year publishing journey. The reception I received in forums was lacklustre at best, so in future I plan to lurk to my heart’s content and only offer congratulations and commiserations when due since there are enough writers willing to voice their opinions for me ever to feel the need to voice mine.
This year’s reviews have been eye-openers, too. Some clearly showed that I had made the desired connection with the readers while others forced me to look at my work more critically from a reader’s point of view. Though most were informative there were a few which seemed placed on my books’ pages to thrash them while promoting other books. I ignored these because I can tell when a reviewer has read my book, so if he/she is simply quoting from another review then the expressed opinion is irrelevant and of no use to me.
Every creative writing class I’ve taken has focussed on character development and the importance of creating characters who are dissimilar to you as a writer. I try to portray real characters whose thoughts and actions rarely reflect mine. Yet, one reviewer seemed to think that she knew me intimately just from reading one of my books. She has absolutely no idea who the hell I am, or what I do or don’t do in bed and with whom! My relatives and close friends found her review ridiculous and most felt that I should have written a rebuttal, but if the thoughts expressed are genuine reflections of what she felt after reading my book then perhaps I’m a better writer than I give myself credit for.
Another reviewer was less than complimentary about my short story, Perfect Score, in which the heroine gets her own back eventually. The reviewer didn’t finish reading the story and accused me of calling the fuller-figured heroine ‘fat and ugly’, but anyone who reads and understands the story knows that it’s first told from the male protagonist’s point of view and then switches to the female’s. The contrasting points of view are the main feature of the story, so unless the story is read in its entirety the essence is lost to the reader. In the planned revisions of my collections I may rework this story.
Great sales, good and bad reviews, and personal attacks—part and parcel of the joys of being a writer. As the saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’