Saturday, June 30, 2012

Red Phoenix: Who Are You?

Seriously, who are you?
Who am I?

I am just your average joe-ette. I worked most of my life at silly part-time jobs and one career that I really loved. However, times change and I no longer fit in that world so I've gone back to my childhood love - writing.

I am married and have kids. My children are the greatest thing I will ever do/have a part of. What a miracle kids are, even if you want to throttle them because they frustrating the crap out of you.  (I have teenagers.) But seriously, I love my kiddos. I also love my hubby - he is often the inspiration behind my male characters.

As many of you can tell, I am not an English Major. I love writing, but always found grammar to be boring and limiting. It kicks me in the butt these days as I edit my work... Funny thing is much of what I learned in school no longer holds true. I feel so betrayed!

I am a lover of the underdog. I was bullied when I was young and it has shaped me into the person I am now. I'm lucky I survived those years, some kids don't. My heart goes out to all the people suffering the scars of such treatment. Now that I have had time to reflect, my heart goes out to the bullies, too. They must be hurting units to treat others so cruelly. I will always cheer for the underdog, because they are the true winners in life.

I am a person who has made mistakes, some of them pretty big. Yet, I can't regret them because they have led me to this point and I am grateful to be where I am. I firmly believe if we learn from our mistakes and move forward then we have nothing to regret.

I am a lover of sex. Yes, there I said it. I really do. More now than ever. Writing and reading erotica will do that to a person. ;) For me personally, it has to be in a committed relationship. I can't even kiss a guy and enjoy it unless I love him - I've always been that weird. In fact, I was afraid I was meant for nunnery early on  because I was such a cold fish. Turns out, if I am going to give myself away its ALL the way, Baby - heart, body, mind and soul.

So, who is Red Phoenix? Just a fellow woman following her heart ~ no different than you. :)

~ Red

Friday, June 29, 2012

Does a Smutty Cover Sell Erotica?

"Does it matter if the images are overtly sexy if the content is predominantly aimed at readers using electronic devices?" Elizabeth Woodham recently posed that question in her blog titled, Cover Art.

In the blog, Elizabeth mentioned the recent debate brought on by the success of Fifty Shades of Grey indicating that a non-erotic, artful cover made it easier to read in public. True, but for many indie authors the books we publish are only sold as eBooks. So, does it matter?

Here is my take on the subject: I like a sexy pic and enjoy some of the covers I see on erotic novels. However, most of them look the same and may or may not have much to do with the storyline. I actually had a really sexy cover of a female's butt for my "quickie" Sensual Erotica: Bottoms Up. Even though it is just an eBook, I must say I blushed every time I looked at the cover. I eventually changed it to three wine glasses.

Why three wine glasses? Because the story is about a menage a trois and I enjoy the play on the phrase "bottoms up" since one of the young ladies in the story likes anal sex.

I know people do not flock to my books because of the tantalizing covers. However, I try to be creative and artful with the design. I think mainstream women may have an easier time purchasing them even though the content is every bit as raunchy as the more scandalous covers.

That said, I may very well be losing regular readers of erotica who think my stories are as non-sexual as my covers.

What do you think?


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Importance of a Platform as an Author

Authors and Readers Need Each Other

Without my readers, my books are just a bunch of words on a page. ~ Red Phoenix

When I first looked into getting published, all I heard was, "You need a platform." I thought, Well, that's nice. How do I get one? I did a lot of research on the web and discovered the best way to develop one as a newbie like me was through social sites like Twitter and Facebook. I will admit that the thought of spending hours on different sites seemed like a waste of writing time. I was not thrilled.

I started writing my short "quickies" Sensual Erotica and published them on Smashwords. The author's page asked for my Twitter account, Facebook account, blog, etc. What's a girl to do?

So, I dutifully (and a little resentfully) created them. Let me tell you, it is embarrassing to have conversations with thin air. I felt like an idiot writing thoughts and announcing books to an audience of zero. I determined in my head to promote myself, but it wasn't Red Phoenix who was writing the announcements. No. It was RP, my dedicated and talented PR person! ;)

My very first fan (who was not a friend at the time) was a kindhearted woman named Donna. She loved all my Sensual Erotica books and remains a true-blue fan still. It was the most exciting thing in the world to get her comments and have an actual conversation with a real live reader. It has grown since then. I now have conversations with readers and authors on Twitter, FB, Goodreads and Shelfari. It is a gas! My peeps inspire me, encourage me, and make me laugh. 

Once upon a time, I thought creating a platform was purely to create readership. Now? I know that it is part of my lifeblood as an author. I would be less without a connection to my readers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brie Practices Her Oral... The Fifth in the Series by Red Phoenix

Brie Practices Her Oral Skills is now available on Smashwords and Amazon. Join Brie as she experiences her first full week at the Submissive Training Center. Expect lots of squirming as Brie navigates the sensual art of oral pleasures. In book five, Mary will revel the demons of her past and Brie shall come face to face with a weakness that may crush her dreams.

Brie Practices Her Oral Skills 

Brie’s first full week of training is an exciting roller coaster ride! Although she receives a good review from Rytsar, Brie suffers from an underlying problem. It rears its ugly head and brings Brie to her knees - literally. She is thrilled when Sir offers to practice with her on stage. On Auction Day, the lucky little sub spends quality time with “Doctor” Harris.

This succulently hot novelette encompasses an entire week of Brie’s submissive training, including her second Auction Day.

Extended Description:

Brie’s first full week of training focuses on perfecting her oral skills. Not only does she learn the secrets of the mighty shaft, she also applies her tongue skills on a Domme or two. Unfortunately, Brie has a weakness that threatens her success as a submissive, but Sir refuses to let her fail. Time on stage provides the devoted sub a chance to express her true feelings for him. Brie’s week ends with the auction, putting her in the care of a sexy but demanding doctor.

* Adult Reading Material (18+)

 This book is for mature audiences only and contains sexually explicit content.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Playing Around with Shelfari

Recently, I was introduced to Amazon's site called Shelfari. It's a place readers can go to review and talk about their favorite books - even add extra details. It also allows the author to interact with the fans and give a little info behind the books.

As a new writer, you learn about websites you never knew existed. I remember how thrilled I was to find my work Sensual Erotica: Loving Amy reviewed on a website called Goodreads. It was so exciting that I took the time to put all of my writing on the site and made some friends there to boot. :)

However, I noticed while looking at the description of the same short story on Amazon that someone had listed all the characters of Loving Amy on the Shelfari site. Imagine a reader so excited about your story that they take the time and effort to list who all the characters are. It totally blew me away. I just wanted to hug the person!

Since then, I have been going through my published work and providing a ridiculously simplified synopsis (140 characters or less) for each one. So much fun! I also include a discussion question to see what readers think about certain issues brought up in the books. Example:

Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis for Loving Amy ~ Boy wants girl. Girl wants boy. Mistletoe gets in the way... 

Discussion Question: Have you ever had someone you wanted, but fate just seemed dead set against it?

Of course, all of this takes time - and time away from writing is precious but I believe it will prove well spent. I am always open to interacting with readers in a new way and having a little fun in the process.

I will post at a later date if I still feel Shelfari is a good investment for authors.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Tidbits about Red Phoenix


Yes, I wear a mask and I wear it for a reason. As a writer of erotica, I might shock my friends and family if they knew the naughty things that go on in my head.

I am a woman, which is why I write women's erotica. However, I like to write stories from both points of view. I've known men all my life (wink) and always wondered what it would be like to be one. How would it feel to slam your rod into a moist pussy instead of having that rod slam into you? Truthfully, I think it might be quite delicious.

My stories come from past experiences and fantasies I hold dear. Have I done everything I've written about? No. However, what I haven't tried I have researched to find out why women like the particular act and what it feels like to them.  

I am married and have children. Luckily, I partnered up with my soulmate. I am as in love with him now as I was when we first met. He makes me melt when he looks at me a certain way and he never forgets to tell me he loves me. I think all women deserve that.

I have had an... interesting past. People who know me now would not suspect where I have come from. Good or bad, all my experiences have helped me to grow and I am who I am because of the successes and failures. Life is truly a journey and a gift.

Which leads me to my last little tidbit: I have experienced significant loss. It is the reason for the sadness in some of my stories. I know pain, but I also know you can survive it. Mourn yes, but keep moving forward. Don't waste the amazing gift that is you.

~Red Phoenix

Indie Authors - Don't Let the Amazon Returns Scare You

Keep in mind that there are an overwhelming amount of readers who wholeheartedly support authors. They far outweigh the few misguided souls.

When I first started publishing on Amazon, I totally freaked out when someone returned one of my books. It was shocking, it was embarrassing, and it... hurt. I felt sad that someone hated my work so much the person felt the need to return it - even when it was free. 

Now that I have been doing this for five months, I've come to realize a few things and don't allow returns to mess with my head or my writing. The fact is people have different reasons for returning an eBook.

There are legitimate reasons:
  • They didn't mean to buy it.
  • The formatting of the book was bad and made it unreadable.
  • There were so many errors in the writing that it detracted from the story.
I also know (having read some of Amazon discussion boards) there are a few misguided Kindle users out there. Some readers do not understand if they read the book, they are expected to pay for it.

Unreasonable returns:
  • A few readers think it's a library. (I've had people buy an entire series and then returned each and every one.) They enjoyed my work, but they had no qualms about returning it.
  • Some think they can return a book if they don't like the ending or one of the characters.
  • Others don't take the time to read the description or check out the sample and end up buying a book they don't really care for.
Reasonable or not, I believe authors should watch the returns to see if a book has real problems. Normally, I experience between 1-5% returns on all of my books. However, there have been months where some of my books saw 10-20% returns and it upset me wondering what was wrong (especially when no one left a negative review). Funny thing is the following month those same books had only a few returns. So, there may not be any rhyme or reason to the returns but it is worth going back over your story to make sure there aren't any serious issues.

What time has taught me:

Amazon allows for eBook returns, so there will be people who abuse it. As a writer, there is nothing you can do. Amazon currently has the greatest number of readers so even taking into account the loss of sales, you will still see more success there than on any other site.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship With Smashwords

As an Indie Author, Smashwords has been a great place to start. The set up is very friendly for newbies and you have explicit instructions on how to get your work published. I recommend it to anyone thinking of jumping into eBooks.

  • Based on the instructions there, I was able to figure out Amazon and publish on there are well. Awesome!
  • It also affords me the ability to price my books and change the pricing whenever I want. I can even put books up for free permanently. It gets people to check out my work and those that like it buy my other books. Nice!
  • Another thing I like about Smashwords is that they distribute my books to B&N and Apple as well as other eBook sites. They even collect the money and give detailed payment information (though they only pay out quarterly). Still, it's great!
  • Smashwords stands up for and believes in the little guy. I feel supported there as an author, especially as an author of erotica. Bravo!
  • Best of all - it's FREE! Well, at least the publishing is. Naturally, they take a small cut of everything you sell. Yay!

But....

I don't know if they struggle due to a large influx of authors flocking to the site or they have bad software or they are simply understaffed because Smashwords definitely has issues:

  • Books do not show up on certain sites or take months to show up. While my books were having success on Amazon, I didn't make money on Apple and B&N because the books just simply weren't there. (And I am still waiting on some...) Growl!
  • Changes you make in price, book cover, or edits are not necessary going to show up on the other sites. Really???
  • Your books must wait to be "okayed" for distribution and sometimes this can take up three weeks to happen. And then you wait another 2, 4, 8 weeks to show up on the other sites. Crickets...
  • The support team will answer your email, but it usually takes between one to two weeks for them to respond. Sometimes when they respond, you are told to send another email with specific information and then you may have to wait an additional week or two to get a follow up response. Worse, I get a different person each time. So, even though it is the same issue I've been dealing time and time again, I have to go through the whole situation from scratch. It sucks.
  • The payments can be really delayed when the big companies like B&N and Apple are behind in paying Smashwords. The money you made in March may not be paid out until the end of August.
Despite all that, I continue to use Smashwords because it is the best option open to me at this point. I apologize to all my readers on Apple, B&N, Sony, and Kobo. You are either getting old versions or you are still waiting for books to show up. I am sorry. I wish I had some control over it.

In the end, I figure if I was using a traditional publisher, I would experience even more delays, have less of a say concerning my books and be expected to pay a ton of money for the favor.

So I still love you, Smashwords, but there are times I just want to slap you.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Play With Me at Noon: A Sexy Tale of Naughty Nooners


Play With Me at Noon on Amazon, B&N and Apple

When I wrote Play With Me at Noon, I basically lived out a fantasy of mine. There are certain guy-types we girls can't help dreaming about. Normally, when you marry you give up on experiencing the unique qualities these men bring to the sexual table.

How many of us see the love we once shared for our partner slipping away? Tina makes a desperate attempt to shake things up, hoping to change the course of her failing marriage. She takes fate into her own hands and enjoys the forbidden fruits of five strangers. Sad thing is, what she really wants is to be loved by her husband. The hot, sexy roller coaster ride seems to be going only one way for her - up, up, up. That is until the day her hubby confronts her.

Join Tina on her five-day sexapade in this steamy novelette devoted to finding a path back to the one you love. 

Play With Me at Noon:

Tina needs to feel desirable again and invites five different men in five days to “play” with her - The Construction Worker, The Executive, The Virgin, The Biker, and The Kink. The sex is AMAZING, but what she really desires is to reconnect with her husband. The twist at the end will renew your faith that true love can conquer all.

Extended Description:

Tina is in a sexless marriage. Although she loves her workaholic husband, she longs to feel treasured by him. Out of desperation, she decides to fulfill her fantasies by inviting five different men in five days to “play” with her. Each sexual encounter is steamier than the next, but her husband’s love is what she longs for most. Can their marriage survive the day he finally confronts her?

Adult Reading Material (18+) This book is for mature audiences only and contains sexually explicit content.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Does Red Phoenix Write Novelettes?

In reviews, many have asked why Red Phoenix writes novelettes (7,500 - 20,000 words). Some readers are disappointed that they aren't full-length novels.

Well, I have several reasons for preferring novelettes:

1) When I read erotica, I want an engaging story with good characters and a little backstory but not a lot of useless details. (Basically, I want to get hot in a short amount of time.) I've read erotic novels before and had to sift through some boring sections to get to the good stuff.

2)  For me erotica like a poem, concise and to the point.

3) I enjoy writing in the same way (serial publications) as some of the greats like Charles Dickens. The shorts leave you hanging, wanting more... Yum! It also allows for more interactions with the fans as the story unfolds.  * Now don't think for one minute that I am comparing my writing to his, just saying I like the set up.

4) I have a short attention span. These days I prefer reading shorter stories, so it only makes sense that I also enjoy writing them.

5) I want it to be a quick read so people can jump into bed and have a little fun afterwards.

6) Besides, the word "novelette" just sounds cute and sexy. Don't you think? ;)

The simple answer to why Red Phoenix writes novelettes:
 She likes it that way.  

  
I hope you do, too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

May Numbers for Red Phoenix on Amazon

Oh wow, what a month May has been for this indie author! I noticed at the end of April that my book, Brie Learns to Obey, was rising in the ranks even though it had just been released. I had no idea then how well she would do in the month of May. So well, in fact, that I ended up continuing that series and putting my other projects to the wayside.

Brie's success on Amazon means that people are starting to look at my other work.  All of my books have done better this month than previous months. The month of May has been a joy ride. Whoop!

For the Month of May 2012:

6,079 books purchased (Keep in mind that I get .35 for every book sold)
71,212 freebies downloaded

Best Sellers for the Month of May: (Numbers not as laughable as the past few months.)

Paid - Brie Learns to Obey 2458, Brie Learns Her Power as a Submissive 1448 and Blissfully in Love 498
Freebies - Deeper Baby! 18158, Brie's First Day of Submissive Training 16983 and Blissfully Snowbound 11098

* For the month of May I added two books on Amazon and no additional books went FREE.


Quick Recap of Past Months:
Starting to rise

April:
878 books purchased         
29,879 freebies downloaded 

March:
693 books purchased
27,571 freebies downloaded 

February:
298 books purchased         
12,386 freebies downloaded 

What I am Learning:
You need to keep the momentum going once a series gets popular. Brie Lives Her Fantasy was just published May 30 and is doing impressively well in that short amount of time. I plan to publish the next Brie book by the end of the month. Doable if I work hard.

Part of my success is due to the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey. I know this for a fact because I have fans on Facebook who have said as much. I am a lucky author because of timing.

There are small time "publishers" who will try to cash in on your indie success. Unless they can do more for you than you are doing now, my advice is to avoid them. They will just slow down the process and take 50% of what you make. (That is not to say there aren't reputable small publication companies out there, I just haven't been approached by any.)

I will update you next month to see how June pans out. You may or may not experience the same success, but there is no reason not to try if your heart is set on writing. 

Right now, I am one blown away indie author.  A big hug to all my readers!