Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza day 3

Vector flying Star with light pink christmas backgroundCongratulations to Nicole Zoltack who won the $15 Amazon gift card in yesterday’s Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza drawing.

Today’s prize is a $20 Amazon gift certificate. Leave a comment on today’s post and your email address and you’ll be entered.  In addition, commenters will enter a drawing for a bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine.  (Comment five days, get five chances to win). If a non US resident wins, a substitute prize of a commensurate gift certificate will be given instead.

Day One ♥  Day Two

Five years ago TODAY I signed my first book contract with Black Velvet Seductions. But it wasn’t until Loose Id published Unexpected Consequences, the first Rod and Cane Society spanking romance, two years later in the fall of 2011, that my erotic romance career started to move. With Unexpected Consequences, I received my very first four-digit monthly royalty payment, ended the year with five digits, and began to develop a fan base of spanking fiction readers. People started to identify “Cara Bristol” with spanking romance.

This is one of those books that received critical, but not popular acclaim. Great reviews. Poor sales.

This is one of those books that received critical, but not popular acclaim. Great reviews. Poor sales.

So it was time for another book! I had a draft of the second Rod and Cane story, False Pretenses, sitting my computer.

So I polished it up and submitted it, right?

Wrong. I started writing a new novel in a totally different genre. A contemporary “cougar” romance about a divorcee dumped by her husband for a girl their college daughter’s age. She finds solace in the arms of a young hottie—the sexy doctor next door. Reckless in Moonlight was published in January 2012. It was raunchy and sweet. A hot sexy read–that tanked. It never did well. I doubt its Amazon sales ranking  ever rose above 50K.

So I learned my lesson, and spanked False Pretenses into submission, right?

Uh…no.

I fell in love with Decadent Publishing’s 1NS series, got an idea for a vampire romance, and then wrote, submitted and published A Scent of Longing in April 2012. Sweet. Funny. So poignant, it made me cry at the end. Like Unexpected Consequences, it practically wrote itself. Unlike Unexpected Consequences, it, well, fizzled.

This was my first paranormal. I LOVED this story, but it never sold well.

This was my first paranormal. I LOVED this story, but it never sold well.

So this time, I got with the program and finished up False Pretenses, right?

Yes, finally I did.  Loose Id published False Pretenses in June 2012. Of all the characters I’ve created, Emma Dupree most resembles me. She is a petite blond, who worked in insurance and wanted to be a journalist. I am a petite blond who was journalist but ended up working in insurance. Of all the heroes, Dan Tanner is probably the “nicest.” He’s the good guy who never gets the girl—except in False Pretenses, he does.

False Pretenses sold well. I followed up with Rod and Cane 3, Body Politics (released January 2013). I had a lot of fun writing it, and its feminist v. dom conflict  was quite popular with readers too. Of all my heroes, Mark DeLuca is my favorite (Shh! Don’t tell the others). Damn, that man is sexy! After Body Politics was published, I received my single largest royalty check EVER until this year (more about that later). At this point in my career, I had three Rod and Canes published, and I was cooking with gas!

The second Rod and Cane Society book. Yep. It sold very well.

The second Rod and Cane Society book. Yep. It sold very well.

Next I wrote a story for the Coming to Terms domestic discipline anthology with six author friends, and Rod and Cane 4, Disciplinary Measures, which as a Loose Id “Fling” (short story), was initially only published on LI’s website (another mistake on my part). Not having fully learned my lesson about changing horses in the middle of the stream, I also wrote and published Destiny’s Chance, a reincarnation paranormal that was cursed from the onset. I must have incurred some bad karma somewhere. Why Loose Id accepted it, I’ll never know. I wish they hadn’t. Loose Id wanted so many changes to the original manuscript that I deemed it unfixable, threw it out. and started from scratch, from once upon a time. And I still ended up rewriting at least half of version two, after which it still went through a couple more rounds of edits. I hated that book by the time it was done. That was the only time in my erotic romance career that I dreaded writing. In the end, I think Destiny’s Chance turned into interesting story, but it never sold well.

My personal favorite of the Rod and Cane books. Feminist v. Dom! Another hit!

My personal favorite of the Rod and Cane books. Feminist v. Dom! Another hit!

And then I started writing Rod and Cane 5. I knew it would sell.  Fans had begun asking for it and revving up their one-click fingers. I was 20K into Rod and Cane 5, when out of the blue I got an idea for a totally different story in a totally different genre—sci fi!

Decades ago I’d written a couple of Twilight Zone-ish short stories, but other than that, I’d never written science fiction before. I’d read some sci-fi, but didn’t read a lot of it. I had no sci-fi fan base. Zero. I was pretty sure most of my spanking fiction readers did not read sci-fi. There’s a lot of overlap in sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal and both my paranormals had bombed. I would be stupid to abandon a guaranteed money-maker (Rod and Cane) for a probable crash-and-burn (sci-fi).

Hadn’t I learned my lesson? Apparently not.

I dropped Rod and Cane 5 like a hot potato and dove into the sci-fi story.

And had the biggest hit of my career. Coming tomorrow: what I did right with the Breeder series.

Every wonder what you would you would do if you were reincarnated and had a second chance at love? Well, apparently readers don't. This book tanked. And it had spanking in it!

Every wonder what you would do if reincarnation gave you a second chance at love? Apparently readers don’t. This book tanked. And it had spanking in it!

Leave me a comment and your email to enter to win today’s prize of a $20 Amazon gift certificate. and an entry for a bottle of Spanking Bottom Red wine.

Tomorrow’s prize will be a $25 Amazon gift certificate and another wine entry. Be sure to leave your email address!

Clicking on any book cover will take you to an Amazon BUY LINK.

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59 Responses to Authorversary Prize-A-Palooza day 3

  1. I have a question for you. Before you, had Loose Id publish any DD books? I almost never look at their site – only on Amazon or Blushing nowadays. BDSM vs. Spanking/DD are so very different in my opinion and the readers are also different. I think so at least. Were you Loose Id’s first author to do DD?

    False Pretenses was my favorite out of the four in the series I think because I liked that heroine the best. Plus that spanking scene toward the end…wow. 🙂 Do you have a date for book 5 yet? I think you’re doing Warrior now, yes?

    Thanks for sharing your story – I love hearing it!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I was not aware of any DD books that LI published. They do have quite a few BDSM books. There are a few books that contain spanking, but I would not say that they are DD focused.

      I was nervous about that scene at the end of False Pretenses. I was afraid it was over-the-top. However, I remember distinctly one reviewer who said I wasn’t harsh enough with Emma after what she did.

      No date for Rod and Cane yet. I will get back to writing it in August. I’m thinking maybe January 2015 for publishing? I have to submit it to Loose Id, so it will according to their time schedule.

  2. Elise-Maria Barton says:

    I found myself laughing through much of today’s story. I’m so glad you made it through this period of ADD and got back on the Rod and Cane train. Sci-fi??? Lol!

    ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

    • Cara Bristol says:

      All of this might make me appear scattered, but I am very disciplined in my approach to work. During this period, I was still new to publishing, and I was trying different things. I’d always had professional jobs involving writing (journalism, PR), but I spent my career writing what other people wanted me to write. Fiction allowed me to write what I wanted to write. So at this point in my fiction writing “career” I was trying to decide what that was. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write spanking stories forever. I thought, if it’s a good story, it’s a good story. Write it and get it published. But that’s not the same as being successful. I didn’t realize people who’d bought my spanking books wouldn’t automatically try my other nonspanking books. I did not realize how Amazon algorithms worked to recommend books to buyers. I was more naive than afflicted by ADD.

      And the funny thing was, I did the same thing at two points in my career and got different results. Reckless in Moonlight and A Scent of Longing were big departures. And they “fouled.” Breeder was a HUGE departure, and it was home run.

  3. PJ Friel says:

    Loving the story so far! It’s always interesting to get a look “behind the curtain.” 🙂

    pj.friel at yahoo dot com

  4. Donna says:

    I appreciate that you continued writing when sales were not going well. You are an example for someone considering giving up their passion because of setbacks. If you love what you do, pursue it!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I don’t think there is anything in my life I pursued as relentlessly as writing. But it is my passion. I feel driven to do it.

      Before one gets published, one can explore all sorts of options. And if you’re published, and not selling, you can still explore–because you have nothing to lose. But once you start selling mistakes hurt. They hurt your pocketbook for one, and they hurt future sales because of the readers you’re not attracting. And at the very least, it takes months to get another book out. And one can only write so fast.

  5. It’s interesting how some books do well and others not so much. And let me tell you, I’m so glad you decided to write Breeder, as I absolutely LOVE that story. Cheers!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you. I love writing when a story idea is HOT. After they sit for a while, it is not the same. Breeder was hot. So were Unexpected Consequences and A Scent of Longing.

  6. Lisa Medley says:

    Well I liked Destiny’s Chance. Readers are missing out!

  7. Ironically, it was the Breeder series that introduced me to you, Cara. I loved them so much I’m going to try your DD novels even though I haven’t always been a fan of DD books. Happy authorversary!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      If DD isn’t your thing, give Reckless in Moonlight, A Scent of Longing, and Destiny’s Chance a try. Trust me, they are good.

  8. S.J. Maylee says:

    So interesting to get the details on these books from this perspective. My own books take different shapes through the process, but I rarely think that someone else might have made such big changes to their books. I’m glad you kept working to get Destiny’s Chance finished, I really enjoyed that book. That was also a very busy writing season for you, right? Thanks again for sharing your experiences and Happy Authorversary!! 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      The time I worked on Destiny’s Chance was crazy busy. I had three books to write all with the same deadline (I was working with two different publishers). And all three came out in the same month! With my time divided by three books, I could not devote the time to promotion that Destiny’s Chance needed.

  9. I have enjoyed reading your process. You have been all over the page, so to speak. What a great story!

  10. Livia Grant says:

    I am really enjoying you sharing so much information about your decisions (good and bad). It is very helpful for newer authors like myself to see I’m not the only one going through the many behind the curtain decisions. Congrats again.

  11. Now we are getting to my favs !!
    I absolutely LOVE your Breeder Series.
    This is really insightful. Thanks for letting us into your journey !!

    stamper_sierra [at] yahoo [dot] com

  12. Anne Casey says:

    The first book of yours that I read was Breeder, and I loved it! In a kinky kind of way, it’s a Sci Fi DD series. From there I’ve started reading some of the DD books and I surprised myself by liking those too. Keep it up! I love that you didn’t just write what was most popular, but what you wanted to. Love your blogging, too!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you. It’s nice to have the feedback to find out what readers liked and which book caught their attention.

  13. Even in your flops you have something going for you. They are all very well written. Which means written in between hits your fans are not going anywhere. I feel like there is no way to avoid the process of exploring to find what works for you in this industry. I’m disappointed paranormal doesn’t sell well in the spanking genre because it’s my favorite. I LOVE your sci-fi which is unexpected for me. When a storyline is that good though & the writing matches up you find yourself getting swept up with the book. I think you’re still exploring what works for you in your career. I think it’s an asset of writing in this genre to have the freedom to do just that.

    Corinnealexander4@gmail.com

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Corrine. I think I will always be exploring. But I will do it with more intent and purpose. An author needs to stay current.

  14. Casey McKay says:

    I love reading stories about journeys… it’s even more interesting to read an author’s journey. Who knows why we are pulled to write the things we write? I love those Rod and Cane books, but I really respect that you deterred from something you knew would make you money to try your hand at sci fi. It’s all about taking chances, I think, and you can’t always just stick to what you know. It certainly paid off for you. I am looking forward to reading about Breeder tomorrow!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      There are far easier ways to earn a living writing than writing fiction. I know, because I’ve done it. But I want to write what I want to write. Fiction is my passion. Money is great, and I can’t deny it’s a motivator, but I have to enjoy what I’m doing. I never want writing romance to feel like it’s a grind.

  15. bn100 says:

    The characters sound interesting

  16. Leigh Smith says:

    I have to admit I am not a fan of sci fi, yet when I read Breeder, I loved it and then you followed it up with Terran and I loved that too. Life is strange. Thanks for making me think twice before I automatically dismiss sci-fi. Can’t get with the vampire thing though. lol.

    Happy Anniversary and continued success in whatever genre you pick.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Leigh. What don’t you like about vampires? The biting? The blood? The fangs? I will say that A Scent of Longing is a vampire novel for people who don’t like vampires.

      • Leigh Smith says:

        Never say never, I may give it a try one of these days, but have to tell you it will be at the bottom of a long list. lol

  17. Thank you!

    Sometimes knowing which book to write next is challenging. Readers come to expect one thing, but a burring desire seizes you…

  18. Susan Clement says:

    I am so confused just reading the above! Where is False Pretenses now?? I have to confess I am a sci-fi/fantasy genre reader first. There is so much erotica out there, and I don’t know if your initial stories would be grouped there or if there is a ‘spanking’ genre. I probably don’t want to know, but you can’t help but read erotica if you read many books published on Amazon, which I do. I LOVED BREEDER!! That is how I became a fan, then patiently, or not so patiently waited for Terran. Loved it! I do not want these stories to end in a trilogy, with the next book. I, of course, want more!!Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It is really nice to hear about your successes as well. I don’t think I would have had the fortitude to stick with it.

  19. Cara Bristol says:

    False Pretenses is still around. All my books are all still available for purchase through Amazon (And BN, ARe)–although, the rights to Unexpected Consequences and A Scent of Longing will revert back to me in September, and December, respectively. There will be a short gap when they are no longer available, but I intended to re-release them as self-published books.

    BTW, if you like sci-fi, please try my paranormals.

  20. ok, I’m still kind of slow and sluggish today. 🙂
    Were you saying that not writing DD was the big flop, or not continuing where the momentum was, (which was Rod and Cane)?

    Because I am actually having a momentum issue / conundrum, and would love your feedback.
    also, in reference to Corinne’s comment, why doesn’t paranormal sell well?
    (sigh. It’s my favorite genre )

    you already know I loved both Rod and Cane and Breeder!
    happy official author-versary!!
    <3

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’m saying that switching to contemporary/paranormal romances after starting to build momentum with DD was a mistake. I should have published False Pretenses right after Unexpected Consequences.

      I think paranormal does sell well–but it goes through phases. Vamps are pass now. I see the zombie craze winding down. I see many authors writing shapeshifter stories that sell very well. Different creatures have different heydeys. From a personal standpoint, I need to be able to identify with the hero and heroine, so I personally like an H/h who is human. (Vampires were human once).

  21. Laurel Lasky says:

    I’ve read most of your books and love them. I am reading Terran now and the insight into the characters is marvelous. I really liked today’s post and continue to see all the obstacles an author has, like jumping through hoops.
    Big hugs,
    Laurel

  22. Your story is both fascinating and inspirational, and I love the questions and discussion it generated. I think it’s important for an author to stretch her wings and try different things, so I don’t think you made any mistakes, per se, even if the books didn’t sell well. I do think with this article along with the additional readers you acquired with Breeder and Terran, your backlist is going to experience a resurgence. Or, shall I say, it should. Just keep doing what you do best; telling stories that leave readers begging for more. Thanks for sharing your successes and “pitfalls” with us.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, Kathryn. I stand by each of my books–even the ones that flopped. Even Destiny’s Chance. If I had had the time to do with Reckless, Scent, and Destiny that I did with Breeder, the results might have been different. I expect I will continue to explore, but I am becoming more purposeful.

      When Destiny’s Chance released, it came out the same time as two other books. Unfortunately, I treated them all equally–and I shouldn’t have. I should have given Destiny the bulk of my (promotional) attention, but I split it between Disciplinary Measures (initially only released on LI’s website) and Coming to Terms, an anthology. There was no way I was going to make money on the latter two books–so I should have focused on the one that COULD have made money for me. Like I said, though, Destiny was cursed. My publisher and I couldn’t even agree on a title (we went round and round in email over it), and I didn’t get the cover art until the night before the book released! I had a brand new editor on that book. Everything that could have gone wrong with that project did.

  23. Renee Rose says:

    I haven’t read A Scent of Longing or Destiny’s Chance, but I’m sure I would love them. I think a lot of it was just everything coming out at once that month. I had that problem at the beginning of this year and it didn’t go well for me…
    reneeroseauthor at gmail

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Too many releases too fast is too much. One floods one’s own market. I did not have control over the timing of my three May 2013 releases (I was working with 2 different publishers). I almost had the same thing happen this year. I was working with two publishers and Terran and Long Shot (Corbin’s Bend) were going to release a week apart in May (again, in May!) Aiyeee!!!! This time I contacted LazyDay and asked them to move the release date of Long Shot. They moved it out a month. Better, but two months in between would have been best.

  24. Rayanna Jamison says:

    Super Interesting! And thanks for sharing. I love that you have tried a little bit of everything, and i love hearing what worked and didn’t work for you. Super excited for tomorrows post.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Guess I have a thing for smorgasbords! LOL. Seriously, I had decided to focus on spanking romance–but I wanted to explore other options too.

  25. angel says:

    Wow you worked hard and stayed at it I am glad you did I love your stories Stay strong Thanks for all the great books
    noangelalways@gmail.com

  26. Stephanie F. says:

    I’m glad that in the end things worked out and you didn’t get discouraged. I’m so glad you went into scifi though, The Breeder series is an all time favorite of mine.
    I am loving learning about your journey through publishing. It’s encouraging to aspiring writers. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

    fsteph55(at)yahoo(dot)com

  27. Karla Doyle says:

    Loving your posts this week, Cara! And I’m sorry that Reckless never took off—I thoroughly enjoyed it! 🙂

  28. Melissa Weeks says:

    wow i never realized being a writer was so difficult that you would have to scrap a whole book you wrote because one person didnt like it just cause they didnt dosnt mean others wouldn’t have but anyway im glad you got your biggest royalty check ever

    • Cara Bristol says:

      To be clear, the publisher didn’t tell me to start over with Destiny’s Chance–they told me the kind of changes they wanted to see, but they were so extensive, it was actually easier to write a new book. Publishers can be very specific about what they want–based on what they perceive their market to be.

      Reckless in Moonlight also went through some changes. I intended it to be a sweeter, story of a woman coming into her own after a divorce. But Loose Id told me to “raunch it up.” They told me the characters had to have sex earlier in the book–well, the way I’d written it they had sex on their first date. How much earlier can you get? I had to rewrite and add sex scenes in that one.

      I think the sweetness I intended still comes through in Reckless, but sex definitely sizzles. And there’s lots of it.

  29. flchen1 says:

    I’m really enjoying you sharing about your writing, Cara–it’s such an intensely personal thing, your ideas and craft. I’m glad you’re following your different inspirations even when they don’t always turn out to be moneymakers–these different explorations are clearly giving you a chance to hone your talent and try your hand at different genres. And even if they don’t necessarily reach ALL readers, each will find an audience, and may also draw them to the rest of your work. Write on!

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