Being Who You Are

Published March 5, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

Another lesson is being learned right at this moment by me. There is a lot of pressure in erotica to conform to that which has been established by others, especially with the current undertow of censorship brought by Paypal.

I’ve been having some difficulty with a few of my projects, and I think that it can be traced to the “conformist” mentality. Regardless of the cost, we must each be who we are, so I have altered my forthcoming title list to reflect this fundamental truth. I love to write, but I must write in my own way. If I don’t do that, I’ll burn out and fade away, and the enjoyment of the task at hand will easily be lost. I really believe that the recent difficulties that I’ve been having regarding my in-progress titles can be traced to trying to force my imagination into the same box that houses everyone else.

I may never be as successful as Selena Kitt, J. A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking, Dean Wesley Smith, or any other indie author, but at the very least I can be myself, for better or worse.

An Update From the Founder of Smashwords

Published March 3, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

I (and 30,000 other indie authors) have recieved another email from Mark over at Smashwords. This is an update in the continuing problem of censorship by a near-monopoly financial company known as Paypal.

A few excerpts from the email sent out to all current indie authors who use Smashwords as a distributor:

Smashwords email/press release  (  <–clicky for the full read )

PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction.  Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction. We believe this crackdown is really targeting erotica writers.  This is unfair, and it marks a slippery slope.  We don’t want credit card companies or financial institutions telling our authors what they can write and what readers can read. Fiction is fantasy.  It’s not real.  It’s legal.

***

Unfortunately, since they’re the moneyrunners, they control the oxygen that feeds digital commerce.

***

Many Smashwords authors have suggested we find a different payment processor.  That’s not a good long term solution, because if credit card companies are behind this, they’ll eventually force crackdowns elsewhere.  PayPal works well for us. In addition to running all credit card processing at the Smashwords.com store, PayPal is how we pay all our authors outside the U.S.  My conversations with PayPal are ongoing and have been productive, yet I have no illusion that the road ahead will be simple, or that the outcome will be favorable.

***

Independent advocacy groups are considering taking on the PayPal censorship case.  I’m supporting the development of this loose-knit coalition of like-minded groups who believe that censorship of legal fiction should not be allowed. We will grow the coalition. Each group will have its own voice and tactics  I’m working with them because we share a common cause to protect books from censorship.  Earlier today I had conversations with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).  I briefed them on the Smashwords/PayPal situation, explained the adverse affect this crackdown will have on some of our authors and customers, and shared my intention to continue working with PayPal in a positive manner to move the discussion forward.

***

I will not be on the streets with torch in hand calling for PayPal’s head, but I will encourage interested parties to get involved and speak their piece.  This is where you come in…

***

Although erotica authors are being targeted, this is an issue that should concern all indie authors. It affects indies disproportionately because indies are the ones pushing the boundaries of fiction. Indies are the ones out there publishing without the (fading) protective patina of a “traditional publisher” to lend them legitimacy. We indies only have each other. (Note from CG: emphasis mine)

***

Several Smashwords authors have contacted me to stress that this censorship affects women disproportionately.  Women write a lot of the erotica, and they’re also the primary consumers of erotica.

***

All writers and their readers should stand up and voice their opposition to financial services companies censoring books.  Authors should have the freedom to publish legal fiction, and readers should have the freedom to read what they want.

Okay, Mark has my support. His statement that censorship of erotica is really a women’s issue is absolutely spot on. I hadn’t thought of the problem from that particular perspective before, but he is totally correct. Paypal and their financial masters have unknowingly (maybe knowingly) singled out predominately female aspect of the indie market. This subjective censorship driven by Paypal has already effected the incomes of numerous authors. If the majority of those authors are female, then we have a very, very serious problem. I wonder if some of the more progressive feminist groups have the balls to take on this particular issue. After all, isn’t this about independence, self-sufficiency, and the liberal expression of human sexuality in a fictional literary work?

Apparently some folks don’t like to see women being successful as independent authors of erotic fiction. This whole deal is starting to look like some serious discrimination to me.

Regardless of Paypal’s intentions, it appears to me that their actions have taken on a decidedly discriminatory tone against female indie authors.

All Romance eBooks

Published March 1, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

All I have to say about them is that this is what happens when you fling open the doors to indie authors. None of us are sick freaks (no one that I’ve met, anyway), but we do enjoy writing some seriously explicit fiction.

I never uploaded anything to ARe; however, I do have an account there if I ever decide to do so. Judging by their change of policy, it would certainly have to fall under the “romantic” banner. That’s fine. Apparently they got slammed with a ‘pornocaust’ deluge of indie smut. Certainly that seems to have deeply offended the more conservative folks who, in the process of searching for some tame romantic titles, got slammed in the face with an ass-load of pseudo-incest, vampire porn, and gay werewolves. I understand that some folks aren’t exactly as progressive as others, so I can allow them to have a fit without it upsetting me, personally.

I have to wonder if perhaps in the last few months there has been a massive shift in the numbers of writers willing to write the more explicit stories. My own opinion regarding erotica has certainly shifted to the point that I’m writing it full time. I can’t tell you how many sci-fi and thriller authors I’ve seen make the switch. Some are doing romantic erotica while others are jumping straight into explicit “porn” erotica. There’s a reason. Well, two reasons.

Explicit erotica sells, and it’s fun to write. Go check the Kindle forums and see how many sci-fi indie authors are actually paying their bills off of their work. Go ahead, check it out. The answer is: Not many. I’m not slamming the sci-fi folks. Hell, I write sci-fi titles as well (not under this name, obviously). I have made quite a bit more off of erotica than I’ve ever made off of sci-fi. Writers dream of writing, and sex is a topic that all writers can handle. Do you know how many of the well known traditionally published authors got their start in erotica (explicit as well as romantic)? You would be surprised.

What I write does not embarrass me. I am not ashamed of explicit erotica. It’s fiction. It’s both entertaining to write as well as read. Psycho-sexual fictional exploration that tests the boundaries of that which is socially acceptable is, in my opinion, one of the great facets of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

ARe is certainly entitled to opt-out of the explicit erotica scene; although, it seems that they would have been better off to actually have had an “explicit only” section for their website. Ultimately, it’s their decision. I’ve got plenty of other options available.

Time: The Scary Part About Writing.

Published March 1, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

It is so easy to let time slip by. Everyday I bring to mind the reality that distraction and procrastination are my worst enemies when it comes to writing. Hmm, I should add self-doubt to that equation; although, self-doubt is rapidly becoming a non-issue.

From everything that I’ve read and personally experienced about being an indie author, there are two rules which must never be broken if you want to be truly successful:

  1. Write
  2. Write some more…every single day.

I’ve seen some good advice on the interwebs. The most important two pieces of advice are: BIC (Butt in Chair) and HOK (Hands on Keyboard). For the life of me, I can’t recall where I found them.

Just the other day I was talking to a personal acquaintance about the importance of BIC/HOK when she burst out laughing. She said, “I’m sorry, but did you say that ‘Big Cock’ is the most important thing?” I should be sure to mention BIC/HOK separately or more slowly in future conversations! Too funny.

Alrighty, I’ve got some writing to do.

Two Common Sense Rules

Published March 1, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

Found a brilliant blog entry for a traditionally published writer turned indie writer. This is a good read.

Dean Wesley Smith’s Blog ( <—Read the whole thing there)

Common sense #1: It takes a lot of practice to become a professional-level storyteller. You may think your first story or novel is brilliant because you rewrote it ten times and your workshop loved it, but alas, it might not be. In this new market, just as in the old one, the readers will judge. Let them, either through traditional channels or indie publishing. And then write the next book and the next and keep working to become better. Keep writing and learning.

Common sense #2: New York publishers can get your book into the hands of thousands and thousands of readers and help your online sales of your other works. Or you can put your book up first, do a POD, and then try to market the book to traditional publishers while it is selling for you and making you a little money along the way. But just because you are an indie publisher, don’t rule out traditional publishers.

Again, in this area, there is no right way. Just do what feels right for your writing and ignore anyone trying to give you a rule.

***

2) All writers write differently. And that includes you. My way of producing words won’t be correct for anyone but me. So instead of listening to others looking for the secret, just go home, sit down at your writing computer, and experiment with every different form and method until you find the way that produces selling fiction that readers like and buy. Find your own way to produce words that sell.

3) Learning and continuing to learn is critical. This business keeps changing and the only way to stay abreast of the changes is to go out and keep learning and talk with other writers and find advice that makes sense to you and your way. Go to workshops, conferences, conventions and anything else you can find to get bits of learning. Read everything you can find about the business.

In the Midst of Romance

Published February 29, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

Oi, romance!

I’m enjoying the new style. It’s a bit odd for me to approach writing (anything) from a softer, more romantic viewpoint, but I must say that it is fun. While the Daddy’s Fucking Princess stories are far more hardcore, sexually speaking, I find that there is an equally powerful sense of arousal even without the explicit sexuality. I like it. Whether or not I can bring the heat in a similar fashion as other more successful authors remains to be seen; however, improvement is definitely a stepping-stone on the path to excellence.

I can honestly say that a year ago I would never have imagined that I would ever, ever be writing erotica… Funny how things change.

I remain curious about how the more romantic flavor will stack up against the more explicit flavor. We shall see. The month of March is dedicated to finding out which one will be superior. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem continuing to write tales with either emphasis.

Well, by the end of next month I should have more to say on this particular topic.  *crossed fingers*

Horray for Smashwords!

Published February 28, 2012 by C. G. Sorrows

I’m no longer mad at you, Smashwords. That’s entirely due to this statement from one of the head honchos:

Smashwords email/press release

This potential relaxation doesn’t solve the broader issue of censorship. I think if a writer wants to write fiction around the theme of [anything], I think they should be able to write it if it’s legal.

Despite the ugliness shown to me and Smashwords over the weekend, I’m still working to protect these very people who attack us.

We need financial institutions to get out of the business of telling writers what they can write and what readers can read. Without this much-needed debate, the slippery slope gets more slippery for all indies.

The campaign at hand goes beyond erotica authors. It’s an indie issue. Indies are breaking the boundaries previously set by large traditional publishers. This boundary-breaking scares people. We should welcome the debate about what a “good book” should look like. I think a good book is anything legal that readers want to read, even if I don’t want to read it myself.

This troublesome tide can shift if financial institutions are forced to answer why they’re prohibiting legal fiction.

Thanks,
Mark Coker
Founder
Smashwords

I like this Mark guy. He’s got a way with words.

More to come in a bit…

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