Free Summer Reading Time!

Yes! It’s summer at last! I always go on a relaxing vacation (yes, I am aware of my good fortune), where I eat, drink, and be merry until it’s time to slog back to work.

This summer, I propose a free armchair vacation for my readers. How about a trip to King Solomon’s Court? Perhaps a journey to a magical kingdom where princesses disappear each night, only to return with their dancing shoes worn through? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Tokyo, Japan? And in honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and Amazons in general), why not spend some time in a world where women rule and men are kept only as tools for pleasure?

It doesn’t matter which destinations you choose, because I‘m making them ALL FREE this summer! Yes, every day you visit my Amazon author page, there will be something offered for free. (Besides One Night to Tango, and Taking the Reins, which as you know are always yours for the fantastic low price of 0.00!)

Enjoy your summer reading!

 

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BAM! 3 new releases out today!

Yes! The day has come! If you pre-orderd, you are now no doubt enjoying (at least, I hope you’re enjoying it!) one of my brand new, just-released, fresh-off-the-press erotica stories. Two fairy tales and one sort of sexual travelogue… yeah, I’m a bit all over the place these days. But I’m happy with the result.

Now, if you DIDN’T pre-order, you’re still good, because today’s the day they’re all three on sale at our favorite little small-town bookshop, Amazon.com. I think Senegal Beach and The Seal Wife are some of my best work yet…. and Little Big Man & The Rani makes me laugh. (And we all know laughing is sexy!) If you’re curious — and you know you are — check them out!

Senegal Beach — a young Peace Corps volunteer confronts her prejudices. Culture shock can be sexy!

The Seal Wife — a lonely Irish fisherman, a legendary creature; an erotic fairy tale tragedy.

Little Big Man & The Rani — doomed to death if she does not spin straw into gold, Shivangi is willing to bargain with everything she has…

Celebrate Romance!

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and to celebrate I’m offering a lovely selection of erotic-romantic stories for your FREE reading enjoyment! These giveaways only last for a couple of days, so get in there now before they’re done. Because everyone knows, the best way to celebrate romance is with lots of steamy hot erotica. To be enjoyed alone or en couple. ūüėČ

Here’s what you can get:

An Amazon’s Equal – free on¬†February 13th!

amazonequal3DcoerPyrena, an Amazonian warrior, lives in an idyllic society. All sisters, the Amazons share everything: work, meals, homes… and captive men. The men they keep are for pleasure; love is unknown among these fierce women. For Pyrena, things become more complicated after she captures a handsome Greek warrior, Astrastos. As she comes to know him, she begins to realize that her world¬†is not so perfect, after all.

Flowers for the Ancients – free through Feb. 14th!

flowers-working-coverThis collection of erotic stories features women across the ancient world, from Africa, through the Middle East, to Asia. Their stories are as diverse as the heroines. They are queens and peasants; virgins and mothers; loveless and adored. Some of their names are familiar. Others are unknown. All of them lived, and lusted, and loved. Just like us.

 

lemonscoverLemons In Their Slippers: an erotic romance retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’– free through the 14th!

If you’re in the mood for some erotically imagined fairy tales, this one written just for you! Why did those princesses really wear out their dancing shoes?¬†(It should come as no surprise that more than the shoes got some action every night!) Romantic and sexy, this remains one of my fuzzy-good-feelings favorites.

And finally, ALL the ‘Ancients’ stories are FREE on the 14th only! The stories (also to be found all together, in Flowers for the Ancients) are: Sheba’s Lovely Maidens, ¬† Queen of Beauty, ¬† Buktu’s Well, ¬†¬†The Girl With The Golden Eye, ¬† A Bride for Seven Brothers, and ¬† How The Lotus Blossoms.

Lookin’ Fresh!

One of the fun parts of writing erotica is giving rein to all sorts of raunchy, taboo, impossible sexual fantasies. Like most fiction authors, ideas for my stories primarily come from my imagination. And I have a seriously dirty mind.

Not everyone gets off on the same thing, and that’s why erotica is so wonderful, because it offers a chance to explore your interests — and their limits — in a fun, safe, and relatively inexpensive way. (All you need is a vivid imagination! And that comes free.) As a result of this marvelous diversity, all of us will come across stories that just aren’t our thing. Some stories push our envelope a little too much, or cross a line we discover to be, for us, inviolable.

I’ve written one story like that: Her Birthday Breeding. I am proud to say that it is my one and only story dirty enough to be relegated to Amazon’s infamous “adult dungeon,” and therefore unsearchable. You’re welcome, world.

As a result of the spicy subject matter, this is not everyone’s cup of tea. (Or herbdaybreedingcoverrather, coupe de champagne!) Frequent comments are “I wasn’t comfortable with the concept,” or “it only makes sense if the husband was sterile.” (Surely, it¬†couldn’t just be for the fun of it!) Evolutionarily speaking, few things should be more exciting to a man than being in direct genetic competition with another male; or to a woman than to be the joyful participant in said competition. (Don’t believe me? Do some reading!) If that sounds like fun to you, then this is your kind of story.

Also, my cover skills have dramatically improved since I made the original. This hot little fantasy needed a makeover. Inspired by the SNL classic “Dick in a Box” (thank you, Justin Timberlake!) — and please tell me you’ve seen that! (original video is funnier, but this one will do) — I’ve make my own naked-man-holding-a-box design. We all know what’s in there. It’s what I want for my birthday every year! (And Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, and Saturday…)

If you’d like a fun little romp between the sheets with an adventurous married couple and a stud-for-hire, hop on in and enjoy!

Her Birthday Breeding — on Amazon¬†or Smashwords.

Flirting with Amazon: diving back into KU

Like many indie authors, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. Besides the fact that it employs about half of my hometown — resulting in a Seattle housing boom and shocking real estate prices, I might add — Amazon makes almost every book in the world available to anyone. You have to admit, that’s really great. In addition, Amazon has made it possible for independent authors to publish their books at no cost, unlike most “vanity publishers” who continue to ask hundreds of dollars for the same service. Without it, readers in Great Britain or France or India (all of which have bought my books) would never even know my work existed. My first book was published through Amazon CreateSpace, and honestly, I never looked back.

So, yes, I’m grateful to Amazon. And I will continue to go there first when looking to publish my work. But the trick to Amazon is the exclusivity issue. To benefit from KU (Kindle Unlimited), and have access to author-driven promotions like book giveaways and price reductions, an author must agree to make their book available through Amazon alone.

flowers-working-cover
Flowers for the Ancients — now on KU!

For a while, I didn’t like this. It didn’t seem like a good deal; Amazon is so full of books and information, my work was easily lost among millions of others. Not many readers seemed to be using the KENP feature, which pays per page read by subscribers. So, I branched out. I used Smashwords and AllRomace eBooks – both of which I also appreciated for their more open-minded view of erotica. No adult dungeoning. That place is not as fun as it sounds.

However, again and again I’ve been forced to admit that, despite diversifying, most of my sales still come from Amazon. In which case, it seems silly not to take advantage of their KU program. So, basically, I’m back in. Not all of my work is KU; I picked the stories that sold mostly there, and kept the others up on Smashwords & ARe.

Amazons Equal ebook Cover
An Amazon’s Equal, back on KU!

Also, don’t forget that I offer two short stories for free on any platform, Amazon included! (How did I get Amazon to offer them for free? Price matching. Read this Smashwords blog post for instructions on how to do it.)

Grab One Night To Tango and Taking the Reins as freebies, then go on and check out all my KU books on Fionna Guillaume’s Amazon author page.

Self-publishing options for erotica authors

As an author, I am all-indie: I do my own cover art, editing, formatting, and self-publishing (in addition to the writing, of course!) Admittedly, I have not been brave enough to dip my toes into the dark, whirling seas of traditional publishing. Reaching out to agents and big publishing houses makes me feel, mostly, depressed. (As an aside, I did go the traditional route for an earlier, non-erotica book of mine… Got encouraging¬†feedback from several agents after they read through it, but none of them wanted to take it on in that huge and heartless world of brand-name publishing. It was a story I believed needed to be told, so I self-published anyway!)

Being an erotica author has many perks, but visibility and mainstream publishing are not among them. That said, it has been fun to sleep around – in a manner of speaking – with the different attractive self-publishing services out there. Now I am far from promiscuous with my publishing; surely there are many other fine venues to distribute¬†your work. However, I’m currently working with three. So here I thought I would offer you my insight into how my experience has been with each of them.

Amazon

Ah, the little hometown book business that has somehow morphed into a global megamarket of STUFF-SELLING! Now I like Amazon for a variety of totally silly reasons; not least of which is that they employ about half the population of my city. However, they also offer some serious benefits to authors.

  • Pros:
    • Super easy eBook publishing option with KDP. The cover creator tool can make your bland little photo look all arted up, like a professionally¬†designed book cover. They help with formatting and proofreading to transform your manuscript into an honest-to-goodness Kindle eBook.
      • And all of that is free, of course.
    • Everybody uses Amazon. Like, everybody, all around the world. If you publish with Amazon you have instant access to their huge global market.
      • It’s easy to leave reviews, which encourages readers to respond to your work. Whether or not they bought it at Amazon, anybody can rate & review it.
        • Handy for when you give out advanced reading copies, people buy paperbacks, or shop through another online retailer, etc.
    • They keep it professional by tracking sales and keeping a record of all transactions.
      • You also get paid on a regular basis. Sure, it may be only a couple of cents (particularly with international sales, unless you happen to be a huge hit in, like, Japan or somewhere. You never know.) Still feels good to see those little deposits every month.
        • Oh, and you can get paid straight into your bank account. Very secure – it’s Amazon; they’re on it – and no middlemen to deal with. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Paypal).
    • Your author page is a built-in feature, that you can easily customize as you wish. Great way to get your work displayed in one attractive place; you can also add a link to your blog posts so readers can stay connected.
    • This is a big one: Amazon makes it easy to produce a beautiful print version of your book. Createspace offers structured guidance throughout the process, from formatting to cover creation, to proof review and sales. For those who love the feeling of a paper book in their hands, you can’t go wrong here. (And, besides ordering prints and shipping, Createspace is also free).
  • Cons:
    • Amazon is huge. Your book is one of millions. Unless you are super good at the keywords game – or you have a secret fan base – your book baby will pretty much be swimming in a crowded sea. Like those little infant jellyfish, where so many are produced it doesn’t matter how many get eaten by plankton so long as a couple hundred grow up to complete the cycle. Basically, chances of your book standing out among ALL the others are, frankly, small.
      • Keep in mind that your indie book will be in direct competition with all the traditionally published stuff out there. You know, New York Times bestsellers and the like. Competition is stiff and brutal. As usual, money does most of the talking…
    • Authors don’t have much control over pricing. $0.99 is the minimum; I do not believe you can set your book to perma-free on Amazon. (If any fellow authors out there know how, please enlighten me!) And that’ll only get you 35% royalty. To get 70% royalty your book must be $2.99 or more.
      • Huge preference is given to books that are published exclusively with KDP. Called KDP Select, this system offers subscribers the chance to read as much as they like during the month, for one block payment. The author gets a couple cents (CORRECTION: half a cent) for each page read. So, not a bad system overall. The catch is your book must be published exclusively with Amazon in order to benefit. Super-strict monogamy; the jealous-lover vibe doesn’t jive with¬†my wild side.
      • You can only do free promotions for your book if you are a KDP member. And even then it is limited to a maximum of 5 days her KDP enrollment period (about 3 months).
    • And here’s the really bad news: Amazon censors smut. Yet, anything considered too exciting – say, a female nipple, ass cheeks, or even underboob; or catchwords like “breeding,” “cum,” and god-knows-what-else – will get your book placed solidly in the Adult Dungeon. This is basically a no-search zone. Your book will exist, but no one can really find it unless they have a direct link there (or happen upon your Amazon author page and browse your full body of work). Yeah, the adult dungeon is a bad place to be. Lots of perfectly good erotica ends up there. It’s sad.
      • I hate censorship. It’s against my American principles. Free ALL THE NIPPLES!

Smashwords

I have a fond place in my heart for Smashwords. They were the second place I began distributing my work, and I appreciate their independent, creative spirit. Also they are erotica-friendly. Lotsa good smut on Smashwords! (Still need to cover up the nipples, alas. But at least you can wear a thong…)

  • Pros:
    • Smashwords distributes to several well-known online retailers. At last check, that includes Barnes&Noble, iBooks, and a couple others. This gets your book distribution on a wider scale than simply through Smashwords alone. (Still most of my sales come from Smashwords, straight up.)
    • You, as the author, have pretty much all the control. By this I mean you can set your price – or not – however you like. Smashwords has pricing flexibility, and all get you more or less the same royalty percentage. And you – the author – get the lion’s share. This means:
      • You can offer promotions whenever you want (either by creating a coupon to share with folks, who then can buy your book for free or a discounted price).
      • You can set your book to free, or let the reader set the price – attractive options to get your work out there into readers’ hands.
      • Smashwords is helpful and clear when it comes to recording sales and keeping track of earnings.
    • Smashwords has its own program for converting your MS Word document into several marketable formats. Yes, you have to follow their formatting guidelines, but these are not too difficult. Mostly, the conversion quality is correct, though you have to keep an eye on it. It’s a real help to those who aren’t comfortable doing their own file formatting & conversion.
    • Much less censorship with Smashwords. You still need to keep some things under wraps – I was told that third party retailers, such as Barnes&Noble, won’t accept “nipples, bare buns, or floppy bits,” but almost everything else goes. Also much more flexibility in your wording options, grossly offensive profanity aside.
    • Smashwords is exclusively a publisher of indie books. So, your indie creation is safely among its peers, where it can stand out as the superb piece of writing (or piece of crap, depending) that it is. It’s comparing apples to apples, instead of apples to kumquats, if you will. At least you aren’t competing with the big boys.
  • Cons:
    • You have to provide¬†your own completed cover, ready to upload. Sorry, no help from Smashwords there. BYOA – Bring Your Own Art.
    • Smashwords pays only once a quarter (about every 3 months). You only get payments transferred if they are over $10. Also, it is paid¬†into a Paypal account, which is less convenient than direct transfer to your bank. This is fine, but can be annoying if you don’t use Paypal usually and keep forgetting your password.
    • Most of the people who shop at Smashwords also publish on Smashwords. Keeps your work circulating around fellow indie authors, but I don’t know how many everyday folks really go eBook shopping there. This kind of limits your market. Though, it can be a great way to connect with fellow indie authors.
      • This makes getting/leaving reviews difficult. People can only rate & review if they bought your book through Smashwords directly. Lame.
    • Although you can download several different versions, it does not communicate directly with a Kindle. So if you have one of those it will require the middleman intervention of another program (like Calibre –¬†an excellent free resource) if you want to transfer files around.

All Romance eBooks (sad note: as of January 2017, ARe is no longer in business. I leave my review anyway, for the sake of reflection.)

Man, am I glad I stumbled across this one! A large online market exclusively for romance and erotica eBooks. In other words, exactly the place to go for any number of steamy reads. If you’re in the market for eBook love, this is the place to go!

  • Pros:
    • They sell only romance and erotica. So, your readership is pre-selected; people know what they’re shopping for at ARe! (And they expect to get it.)
    • Also a collection of all-indie authors, so your book is in good company.
    • You have tons of control over your book’s features. This includes:
      • What format it is offered in (up to 10 different formats available, but you choose the ones you want to provide)
      • Cover art (Nudity is allowed! AT LAST!)
      • Pricing (anything from $0.00 on up; also it is easy to change pricing at any time.)
        • I give away a LOT of my free work on ARe. It’s a great place to get visibility in that respect.
      • Fixed-duration discounts are also super-easy to set up. People love to snag freebies when they’re offered!
      • Excerpt from your book, to entice readers in.
        • It can be explicit. Yay!
        • You also can include multiple product tags. Readers can contribute tags, too, making a rich collection of links to your work.
    • Readers who purchase can have their romance eBook sent directly to their Kindle email. Convenient for Kindle readers – like me – who do not shop exclusively at Amazon. One less middleman to deal with!
  • Cons:
    • No formatting help here, folks. You must provide your own, ready-to-go eBook documents in whichever formats you want to distribute. (Once again, Calibre is a¬†tool to use in order to make this happen; there are others, too, but I am very satisfied with Calibre!)
      • Same goes for cover art. You have to get it ready, and it must be submitted in a very specific size (200 x 300 pixels). Bit of a pain.
      • In fact, their whole file submission process is a bit of a pain. Lots of weird rules like no spaces or symbols in the file name; weird system of uploading; annoyance when stuff is inexplicably lost and you have to start over. It takes patience, cursing, and lots of wine to make it happen.
    • You only get paid once a quarter (every 3-ish months, as I said), and only through PayPal. Also they take $1 for every deposit. Minimal handling fee, whatever, but it’s still there!
      • Actually, I’m not sure what royalty I get from them… definitely have been paid, but what percentage? Dunno. It does, however, give a breakdown of sales for any given period, and describes how much goes to you, the author, for that amount of time. Kind of hard to get a big-picture overview of sales, though.
    • It is a relatively small market.
      • That said, I tend to make a lot more sales on ARe than either Smashwords or Amazon. This, I think, is because it’s already targeted to romance & erotica readers.¬†So, it is definitely a good venue to distribute my work!

Well, folks, that’s my insight! I hope it may be helpful for some of you other hardworking indie authors out there. Don’t give up! Keep on writing, and remember why you’re doing it: for love, not money. ūüôā

The book I wish I’d read in college

So I graduated from college a rather long time ago, but time is relative, and I still remember well how I looked, felt, and reacted back then. Without giving away too much of my not-so-sordid history, suffice it to say that in college I was on a mission to get a good education in every way: academically, of course, but also socially in doing everything (and everyone) I wanted to do. Like most college girls, this involved a lot of romantic and sexual disappointments. (Let’s just say that, in my opinion, men are like red wine, not white; you want to enjoy them aged.) Anyway, those many years ago I decided to treat myself after each of the oh-so-common breakups. And my treat was romance novels.

Now, when I read a romance novel, I’m looking for romance, of course. But mostly I’m in the market for sex. At the time, I didn’t know about erotica, or how to find it – oh, poor innocent! – so I was pretty much stuck with the paperback shelf at Barnes & Noble. (Yes, as I said, this was quite some time ago.) Due to the nature of college relationships, I ended up reading quite a few romance novels. But the vast majority of them left me unsatisfied. My complaints:

  1. Not enough sex. Pretty straightforward.
  2. Most of the time, it involved a virginal girl who is gradually subdued by a much more experienced man. Not a bad thing at all, except when it happens again, and again, and again, to the point of the predictable.

Being an even more ardent feminist in college than I am now (and I am still), this infuriated me. Why, I thought, are there no romance novel where the more experienced woman shows the man a thing or two? Why does the virginal girl always get to have all the fun? And why aren’t there more sex scenes?!¬†(In response to that frustration, I started writing erotica. And I still do, so don’t ever let anybody tell you that I don’t use any of what I learned in college! Worth every penny.)

All this to say, after my disappointments with romantic literature as a young woman, I began to write my own. I wanted a story that had the elements of a romance novel, but with a strong and sexually experience heroine, and a story line that, while developing a romance, mostly revolves around sex. I was also something of a fantasy geek at the time, which helped me build a fantastic setting: a historical fantasy universe where the mythical Amazons of ancient Greece did, in fact, exist. The society they built would naturally be centered on women, but how would they reproduce? How would they manage things? How would they defend their lifestyle? And what about love? All these questions were the basis of An Amazon’s Equal.

I wrote it, began to hate it, abandoned it, came back to it years later, finished it, started to like it again, re-read and changed it, and finally decided it was good. You know, the usual¬†writer’s process. But I struggled to find a place for it. It’s not strictly erotica, being a full-length novel. It’s not the typical romance novel, either (Harlequin wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole!). Also, as it was born of the feelings and desires of my college years, it is not the kind of book that would necessarily attract an older audience. So, what is it? I pondered and put the book on ice while I did some more research. Then, by chance, I stumbled across it: New Adult!

New Adult is a fairly new genre focusing on protagonists between the ages of 18-25-ish. The events and situations are meant to appeal to readers in this age bracket, as well; think about yourself in college, and what kinds of books attracted you then. (I’m imaging myself at the 24-hour cafe, drinking far too many chai tea lattes while voraciously finishing the latest book…) Another way to think about it is as Young Adult, but now of legal drinking age. Yes, New Adult Romance is a thing, and this, I discovered to my delight, is where my book belongs.

Another long story to explain my decisions and, I hope, my writing choices for this novel. Although I’m all grown up now (more or less), it’s fun to relive those college days. If you’re in the mood for a sexy stroll down memory lane – or if you’re still in college and in the mood for a fantasy romance that promises lots more than ye olde grocery store bookshelf – I invite you to check it out.

Girls with swords and the guys who love them: good at any age!

An Amazon’s Equal

NEW amazon cover jpg 2