Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza Day 2

Vector flying Star with light pink christmas backgroundCongratulations to SJ Maylee who won the $10 Amazon in yesterday’s Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza drawing.

Today’s prize is a $15 Amazon gift certificate. Remember all commenters from all the days will be entered into a drawing for a bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine.  (Comment all five days, get five chances to win).

Day One post here

Complete contest rules

By August 2010, a year after I signed my first contract (Intimate Submission with Black Velvet Seductions), I had two short novellas published on the BVS website and one anthology available as an ebook and in print on Amazon. But no one seemed to know BVS existed. Ellora’s Cave people knew. Samhaim, yes. Loose Id, yes. Black Velvet Seductions, uh no. I had a freebie WordPress blog (see it here) and nobody knew it existed either. In a week, I’d get maybe 50 visits.

afterwards

After completing the first drat of Spanking Melania, I stumbled across this photo. These were my characters!

And then on August 2, 2010, I logged onto my blog at 9 a.m. and discovered 75 people had visited already. I checked where they were coming from, and they were referred by “My Bottom Smarts.” If you write spanking fiction, you know exactly who that is. MBS (now defunct) was a very popular spanking blogger who listed MY blog as being friendly to spanking. By the end of day, I’d  had 350 hits! More–way more–than I usually got in a month at the time.

I was over the moon with excitement, and I thought, wow, spanking is hot. There’s a market here. I got a surge of motivation and inspiration from those hits.

I’d researched domestic discipline and spanking. The secrecy of the lifestyle intrigued me. Spankos do not tell their kids, their family, their vanilla friends about their kink. When I got that spike in blog hits, it sparked an idea…what if spanking didn’t need to quite so secret? What if there was a private club of men who spanked their wives? What if a naïve bride married a man who belonged to that club but she thought it was just a fraternal organization?

And Spanking Melania was born. I wrote the first draft of 26K words in 13 days (upon revision, it ended up over 30K). That book remains to this day the single most effortless piece of writing I’ve done. The story felt channeled. It was magical.

I realized midway through writing I had a series on my hands–that I could write about all the couples who belonged to the secret society. I submitted Spanking Melania first to BVS in September, who accepted it informally  immediately (though it took a couple of months to get a contract). By January 2011, my publisher hadn’t done anything with Spanking Melania, had not begun to edit it, and from looking at  my 2010 year-end royalties, it was clear none of my other books were selling with BVS.  My gut (and my husband) told me Spanking Melania  needed a larger, more visible publisher–especially since it would be a series.

It was a wrenching decision, but I asked BVS to release me from the contract, and the publisher graciously agreed.

The little book that could. Unexpected Consequences launched a series AND  my career.

The little book that could. Unexpected Consequences launched a series AND my career.

I was so disheartened to be starting over at square one. But I polished Spanking Melania some more, retitled it Unexpected Consequences,  and began researching publishers, devising a shortlist of three who might be interested in my kinky little DD romance.

Loose Id had said on its website that they wanted stories that would “make them squirm.” I thought Unexpected Consequences was squirm-worthy (it made me squirm!), but Loose Id was number three on my list because its focus seemed to be M/M and I was writing M/F.

I had my submission ready to send to Ellora’s Cave, which had just come out with a new”Taboo” line, which seemed perfect for a kinky DD romance. Samhain, because of its emphasis on quality stories ranked high on my list at number two.  I had planned to sit on my submission over the weekend, read over my query one more time and click send on Monday morning. I’d been tweeting about my upcoming submission (not specifying where I would submit). That Saturday an editor at Loose Id DMed me on Twitter, said she’d read and liked Intimate Submission, and asked if I ever had considered submitting to Loose Id.

Now what the hell was I going I do? Should I stick to my strategy and send an “over the transom” submission into the “slush pile” of my first choice or do I submit it to my third choice who actually requested the manuscript?

Another pivotal, wrenching decision.

I chose Loose Id. I signed a contract in April 2011, and Unexpected Consequences was published September 21, 2011. I did not expect it, but on September 25, 2011, I received a royalty statement for four days. UC had made more money in four days just on LI’s website (Amazon royalties would come months later) than I had gotten in any quarter with the BVS books.

Unexpected Consequences became the goose that laid bronze eggs. It sold quite well for about year, and now nearly three years later, still has sales spikes and maintains a nice little income stream. UC gave me my first four digit monthly royalty check, and started to generate a fan base of spanking fiction readers. Momentum built. I was selling books!

And then I did something stupid, reckless.

Coming tomorrow: mistakes and setbacks. Tomorrow’s prize will be a $20 Amazon gift card.

Post a pertinent comment about something I’ve written today, leave your email, and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a $15 Amazon gift certificate and a chance at the bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine.

For book buy links, click on any book cover.

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50 Responses to Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza Day 2

  1. It’s never easy to ask for rights back. It’s scary but sometimes necessary. Good for you for doing what was best for you and your writing career!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you. It was a very hard decision. I’d felt like BVS had given me a start, and then I was abandoning them. But, as they say, “it’s business.” Publishers do what is best for their business, and authors need to do the same. I am very fortunate that she released me. I know Unexpected Consequences/Spanking Melania would have languished if I’d not moved it to Loose Id. And it was a key book in my career.

  2. Elise-Maria Barton says:

    Wow Cara, this story is engrossing~ looking forward to tomorrow’s continuation of “The Trials of a Spanking Specialist” 😉

  3. I love this!! I can’t imagine you doing something stupid or reckless so I’m doubly intrigued! My bottom smarts still gets me hits by the way. Awesome site.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      After that spike, my blog hits dropped to a norm of 100 day (from about 50 a week), and MBS accounted for about half of all my hits. These days, my norm is 350-500 hits per day and MBS will account for a handful.

  4. Renee M says:

    You do like to leave us hanging don’t you?? Sometimes the hardest decisions are the turning points in our lives. I guess if everything was easy we would become lazy and not work to improve. Looking forward to tomorrow. Thanks

  5. LOL You’re leaving us hanging again. It’s great to hear about your experiences in publishing! Obviously changing publishers was the right thing to do. Cheers!

  6. Lisa Medley says:

    You are KILLING me. You know how I feel about suspense. I even know the ending. Can’t wait for the details. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Erm… Maybe that’s just me.

  7. Livia Grant says:

    I am loving reading about your process and hard decisions early in your writing career. Thank you for sharing the ‘behind the curtain’ details.

  8. S.J. Maylee says:

    Wow. Your story is engrossing and it’s made even better with fab writing. I think that’s what I like best about your story. Besides your determination, you simple write amazing stuff. You hear that over and over. You can do this and you can do that, but what it comes down to is great stories. Your previous book opened the door for you at an amazing publisher. What a way to move forward. You have a lot to be proud of. I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post.
    I won. Wahoo! Thanks, Cara! 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Everything is so interconnected in this business. You never know what will have a impact or when. Intimate Submission never did anything on its own, but as you point out, it did open the door for me at Loose Id–and that was worth more than any sales it might have generated.

  9. I first read Unexpected Consequences after winning a copy from you. After reading it I knew I had the absolute perfect book for my DD group that I ran at the time. We had just started a book club not long before. They loved it as I knew they would. You hit on some of the heavier fantasies of DDers. We went on to feature all of your books in this series. After that I noticed even new members had heard of your books and loved them. You really did strike gold in the spanking genre with that series as an introduction to your writing.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Wow. I never knew that. Thank you for telling me. It’s nice to know that a promotional freebie actually did some good. Authors give away books all the time, but you rarely know if it does any good as far as getting the word out.

  10. Wanda Fittro says:

    So brave of you to change publishers. But sometimes it takes a leap of faith.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      In this business you have to keep your eye on the long-term goal. Had Melania just been a stand-alone, I would not have withdrawn it. But knowing its series potential, I had to move it. I thought I would have a harder time selling future series books to a new publisher if another had the first book.

  11. Unexpected Consequences was an awesome book. What an adventure you’ve been on! I get a TON of hits from MBS. It is my main source of hits at this point! I look forward to the rest of your story. Congrats in your anniversary!!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you. It was interesting for me to look back. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Everything is so obvious to me now.

  12. I love learning from other author’s journeys. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Susan Clement says:

    Besides chuckling at this, by the time I saw ‘orgasmic read’, I was more interested in scrolling down to the squirrel. I liked that squirrel! Who would have thought spanking had blogs, not me for sure. I do, however, appreciate Ellora’s Cave and a number of the authors who publish there, Loose Id is newer to me. I find your writing journey extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to tomorrow.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      LOL. When I first read your comment, I thought, huh? Orgasmic read? Squirrel? What squirrel? Then I realized you’d looked at my old blog. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  14. Rayanna Jamison says:

    What a fun way to tell your story, and these cliffhangers keep everyone coming back for more!

  15. Susan Platt says:

    Unexpected Consequences was the first book of your that I read and I have been a fan ever since! I am so glad you found success with Loose-Id!

    Susanmplatt AT hotmail DOT com

  16. Leigh Smith says:

    Enjoyed reading your history. I’m in debate with myself right now over the same thing. Anxious to read the rest.

  17. Aubrey says:

    The cover on UC is now, and may always be, one of my all time favorite book covers. I adore that cover, and I’ll be very sad indeed if you ever change it. Also, that inspiration pic was mighty distracting. I was finding it hard to read your post. 🙂 My eyes kept drifting back to it.

    Looking forward to reading more of your journey tomorrow!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I am going to roll the dice again, and change the cover. I have noticed that other spanking romances are not as butt-focused, and Amazon is cracking down on cover nudity. I think being with a publisher known for tasteful covers (like Loose Id), insulates one somewhat from the adult tag. But I think indies are vulnerable and are subjected to a greater scrutiny.

      • Aubrey says:

        They are very tough on indies. It’s a wise move to change it. I’m sad to see it go, but I’ll still have the original to enjoy. 🙂

  18. Stephanie F. says:

    These are great lessons and tips for aspiring writers. I can imagine the decisions and hardships can be tough to negotiate. I am so curious now though about what happened next.. Your definitely keeping us titillated.

  19. wow! thanks for sharing all of this, Cara!
    I have so many questions, but I’ll wait til the end 🙂

  20. Renee Rose says:

    The universe has a way of sending us the bread crumbs if we just have the guts to follow them… good for you for taking the risk and leaping! reneeroseauthor at gmail

  21. Laurel Lasky says:

    It’s so weird. I am finding your email to me in the spam folder. Also from other friends and blushing books where I am an ARC reader. Anywhy I will now have to check my snap and trash folders. I liked the post. It must be so stressful to be a “kinky” author especially when the rules keek changing, like amazon unlimited. They found a new way to screw with the authors. I look forward to tomorrow’s post. Big hugs,
    Laurel

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I have you listed on my blog sign up under two emails: a yahoo one and a gmail one. Maybe you need to add me to your address book so it doesn’t go to spam.

  22. bn100 says:

    That’s great about Unexpected Consequences

  23. Sharon Davis says:

    Way to end with a cliffhanger! You’re doing a great job of making me want to come back each day.

  24. Melissa Weeks says:

    man i cant wait to hear what happens next you have me on the edge of my seat misky90501 at yahoo dot com

  25. WOW !! Loving this.
    It all sounds fairly easy.. so far. Lol I know it probably wasn’t at the time.
    And that cliffy !! Can’t wait. 🙂

    stamper_sierra [at] yahoo [dot] com

  26. flchen1 says:

    Wow, Cara! How fabulous that these seemingly small-ish decisions along the way have really helped shape your career in writing! Thanks again for sharing some of your path with us!

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