Five years ago this week I signed my first erotic romance publishing contract. Since then, I’ve released 15 titles. During my authorversary I will share the stories behind the books,decisions and consequences, and offer a new prize drawing each day of the event. Every day the prize increases! In addition, everyone who posts a comment will receive an entry into a drawing for a bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine. (Comment on multiple days, get multiple entries for the wine). To receive the wine, you must live in the U.S. and must provide a street address (not a post office box). If the winner lives outside the U.S., a substitute prize will be awarded.
Today’s prize is a $10 Amazon gift certificate. The winner will be announced tomorrow. Be sure to leave your email address! (Complete contest rules here).
Let’s begin at the beginning…
Before erotic romance, I wrote mainstream women’s fiction. Five years ago in 2009, I had one self-published print novel under my belt (which I’d lost money on), three unpublished novels, and a collection of short stories, a few of which had been published in magazines (biggest coups: a $2,000 sale to Good Housekeeping, and a $1,000 sale to Woman’s World ). I’d won a dozen fiction writing awards. But with the exception of infrequent, limited short story successes, mostly I’d garnered rejections. Between agents, publishers, and magazines, I had racked up several hundred. I’d been contracted with two agents both of whom were unable to sell any of my novels.
I’d read romance since I was a teenager. But sometime in the mid 2000s, I started reading erotic romance. I’d read a Lora Leigh ménage book that contained spanking within a sex scene, and I remember thinking, hm…that’s interesting. I also read a Shayla Black BDSM book that I thought was very well written.
But I wrote mainstream and planned to hop back on the hamster wheel and begin submitting my short story collection to agents.
And then I got the idea.
One day, I was bored and for fun wrote a playful story about an employment interview that turns sexual when the female job candidate and her prospective male boss succumb to their mutual attraction. I threw everything I could think of into the story. It had BDSM undertones and a sexual smorgasbord that included sex toys, anal sex, and spanking. At the end, the reader learns that the couple are married and are role playing to celebrate their anniversary. I had wanted to write something different from what I was reading (Danger, Will Robinson, danger!)—so I juxtaposed the past with the present, contrasting what happened when the couple first had met with what was occurring now.
I titled the story Intimate Submission.
In my typical humble way, when I completed the story I thought, this isn’t bad, maybe I can sell this. Where I acquired the optimism after garnering hundreds of rejections, I don’t know. Um…ego?
That was May 2009. The ebook market was very different then. I was aware of Ellora’s Cave, but did not know of any publishers who published erotic shorts. Through the miracle of Google, I landed on Black Velvet Seductions, a small ebook publisher who’d put out a call for submissions for a “spanked wives anthology.” The stories had to be 5-15K (at 11K mine was). They had to focus on a relationship (mine did). And they had to contain spanking. (Check, please!).
I fired off a submission immediately. I’d never felt more positive about a submission in my life. I was almost sure I had sold it.
A month later I received a one page critique of my story—and a rejection. Basically, BVS hated the way I played fast and loose with the time and did not like the ending (that the couple was married), but offered to look at the story again if I reworked it and rewrote the end.
Rewrite the end?! That was the POINT of the story! My first inclination was to say no thanks. But by morning I admitted to myself that I wasn’t getting anywhere doing things my way, so I would give it a shot. I emailed the editor thanking her for the critique (seriously, no one has ever written a full-page manuscript critique after a submission before) and said I would resubmit.
I kept many of the same scenes, switched to a strict chronology, changed the characters’ motivation, and rewrote the end. Off it went.
And BVS sent me an acceptance letter and a contract, which I signed on July 23, 2009! Intimate Submission was first published in October 2009, but it was only available on the BVS website as a pdf. Amazon was not accepting works of less than 30K at that time. (Later when Amazon started taking shorts, BVS did release it for Kindle as a stand-alone).
By the time Intimate Submission came out, I’d read the two stories by anthology co-authors Starla Kaye and Richard Savage and saw that their novellas focused more on domestic discipline than erotic spanking. So I decided to try that. My second erotic romance, Secret Desires, was an M/F/M ménage DD story (I was still going with the smorgasbord theme). I submitted it to BVS, and it was accepted for the “spanked wives” anthology and published as a stand-alone July 2010 on the BVS’s website. Both stories came out in the anthology Spanked! in ebook and print in October 2010.
Yay! I was published! I had a foot in the door!
Foot in the door? More like a toe—maybe. And just the little one. Not even the big toe. I received my very first quarterly royalty check for Intimate Submission in January 2010, and it was $30. At the end of 2010, with the two stand-alone stories and the anthology, I only made $300 for the entire year.
And then out of the blue something happened to change everything.
Coming tomorrow: an unexpected surprise and the book that did get me a foot in the door. Tomorrow’s prize will be a $15 Amazon gift card.
Reminder: today’s Authorversary prize is a $10 Amazon gift certificate. To enter, leave me a comment pertinent to this post and your email address either in the sign-in box or in the comment box. The winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced in tomorrow. Also, You’ll receive one entry toward the bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine.
For book buy links, click on any book cover!