Friday, May 13, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion Part 1

This cartoon was a little before my time, but I've heard the meme and thought it was funny.

The Reality for 99% of authors in the world is self-promotion. Even authors within the Big Four publishing houses (Harper Collins, Penguin Group, Random House, and Toll House Cookies...I mean Simon and Schuster) have to do their own promotion because the publisher can't be bothered to advertise for anyone who isn't Stephanie Meyer or Stephen King. Every other press/publishing house is labeled indie and few of these have the resources to launch much of a marketing campaign on their own behalf, never mind one of their authors. I can hear the confusion already in my readers, "But Cassandra, we all know you're talented and beautiful, but this can't be true about the Big Four. I've seen ads for Signet books in the New York Times." This is exactly what the Big Four want you to think! Every major publishing house is actually a giant conglomeration of sub-divisions that give the appearance of diversity where none actually exists. Signet, one of the major publishers of Stephen King's books, is actually just the Penguin Group. Dell Publishing, the late Kurt Vonnegut's publisher, is Random House. And so on...

I'm published by a small indie press for my novels and a small indie magazine based in Australia for my column. This is the reality for so many freelance writers and struggling authors. I like the personal attention from smaller indies personally. I know my illustrator's name--it's Katiie, spelled just like that for some reason, and she's great. She listens to me, adjusts her work to my input, and actually reads my work so she'll know what the pictures are supposed to look like. The covers and internal illustrations look how I want them to. The Big Four will tell the author, "This is your cover. We're putting logos here, here, and here. And a review from someone here. Feel free to direct your notes to that brick wall over yonder." It's the same thing with Sass Magazine. I know my editor's name--it's Annie, spelled just like that. She responds to my e-mails, is friends with me on Facebook, and has yet to tell me to direct any notes or comments to a brick wall. As much as I like Day Moon Press and Sass Magazine for their personal care and interest in my happiness, I am still left to do my own promotion, but I would probably have to do that even if I was published by one of the Big Four.

See this lovely work by Katiie? It's like she read the story.

I'm getting boring, talking too much about the industry, and that's not why people read my blog. It's like reading an economics thesis at a burlesque club. Sure, it might be important and interesting to some people, but it's not why people bought tickets. Let's get to the sexy, funny stuff...

My 2nd collection--Cover by Katiie and myself

"Astral Liaisons"
is a collection of eight short stories (my usual amount per collection) with a 50's pulp science-fiction motif. It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To be perfectly honest, the primary goal of this collection was to put a lot more group sex into the stories. I have a threesome where a couple seduces a straight girl in "The Flesh Menagerie" a fourgy (four person orgy--thanks NOFX for the term) in "Of Pirates and Politicians" and I'm not sure what you'd call the pollination room scene in "Growing a New Garden" but it involves a ludicrous number of women. I don't know why I had that as a goal when I started writing the collection, but I think I succeeded in spectacular fashion of bringing polyamory to the pages of my books.

The second goal, was to put something of an homage to all the work that came before me. Granted Megan Rose Gedris is only four years older than me, but her comic books are awesome and definitely influenced me. Throw Kurt Vonnegut into the mix along with four years of high school spent watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, and you've got a pretty clear picture of how this book came together. In the gaming world, these little gems of insider information scattered throughout a larger work are called "Easter Eggs" being a crazy gamer girl, this had a huge appeal to me and so they're all over the book.

The third, and final goal, was to launch a story that inspired my first, full-length novel, due out this summer. "The Gunfighter and The Gear-Head" is a mix of steampunk, alien invasion, and old-west, following a former Victoria's Secret model turned post-apocalyptic gunslinger (very loosely based on my girlfriend) and a brainy, but somewhat spastic engineering genius who is one of the last scientists on the planet (loosely based on myself--or so people keep telling me). Reading the story won't give away much from the book, but should give a lovely sampler taste of what is to come.
Katiie said she was adjusting this to become the cover for the book. I can't wait!

Most erotica/romance is supposed to serve a purpose, and I feel mine still serves that explicit purpose of being sexually gratifying for the reader, but there's an element of artistry to the story and other literary elements that I feel so much of erotica and romance lacks. Maybe this doesn't matter to most people, maybe erotica is supposed to be ham-fisted literary pornography, and maybe I'm just putting perfume on a pig to claim my stories are fundamentally different. Regardless of whether or not you like the sex, and I'm really hoping you will, I wrote the characters to be vibrating and interesting and the story compelling enough to be interesting in its own right even if you took out all the group sex, strap-ons, and pussy-licking.

My readership, which is still in the hundreds right now, is a lot more diverse than I originally thought. I was trying to bring lesbian fiction to a lesbian audience when I began writing these stories and books, seeking out lesbian publishers who shared my vision, and for the most part, I think that's worked out. I have recently come across a few straight male readers, straight female readers, and bisexual female readers who enjoyed the books. I'm so insular in my little lesbian world that I hadn't even stopped to consider this as a possibility. I'm glad it worked out this way though--sex and fiction are universal and should be enjoyed by all regardless of author intent. I've spoken with more than a few female authors and readers who read and write male on male erotica and romance, and isn't that wonderful!

To address the smattering of requests I've received to start including men sexually into my plans for that in the near future. Besides, as a gold star lesbian, my understanding of heterosexual sex is only theoretical.


BMF said...

please don't start including men. That's what makes you fantastically unique.

Cassandra Duffy said...

Oh trust me, I have no interest in adding in men, nor do I have the technical know-how, NOR do I want to get it.