When I decided to pull my four-book House Party Series out of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited so I could publish the stories wide, it seemed to be a logical decision. Unfortunately, being in KU means that you cannot distribute a story outside of Amazon’s little world.
As an author struggling to feed his Frenchie’s Blue Buffalo habit and my wife’s love of shoes, I need every sale I can get. Having one room in our house called the “Shoe Room” means what it says!
Locked into the Zon means that my Apple iBooks fans don’t get any love in addition to my readers on SmashWords. As a writer of explicit erotic tales, it’s more than just deciding what four-letter word to use before or after “slut?” While the vast majority of smut writers don’t get rich from pounding the keyboard, we do like to see those sales numbers clicking up like the mileage on your car’s odometer.
Hence, the eternal decision narrow or wide? Should you publish narrow through Amazon KU or go wide and include the rest of the market? In most of my stories, I’ve skipped the KU path as that allows me to publish to all markets and not just the Internet’s answer to Walmart.
To me, it was a question of picking up new readers as Kindle Unlimited allows folks who pay ten dollars a month to read anything in KU at no charge. Let’s be frank and admit that there is a lot of erotica that is almost painful to read. Counting the strokes of the whip as Foxy beats her subs is one thing, but the poor grammar and spelling in some porn stories are often atrocious.
I read a lot of non-erotic material as well as smut stories, and reading “heard” instead of “herd” or “their” instead of “they’re” seems to catch my eye more than ever these days. I’m beginning to think many rich authors are publishing their stories ghostwritten by someone else. To put it bluntly, several of my favorite authors have been crossed off my lists as I’ve discovered their new books suck.
As an engineer in real life, we as a species suffer from a genetic defect that renders us with poor English skills but able to rattle off the Fibonacci sequence with ease. Once I spoke with another engineer who said, “I ain’t got none of them.” I replied, “Do you mean those?” And he replied, “Yeah, them!”
Having studied Freud, I am painfully aware of many of my shortcomings and glad it doesn’t include my little buddy. Over the last decade of writing smut stories, I’d like to think that my level of writing has increased. Plus, I get a lot of advice from my readers (thank you, Mark) on where I had a lapse in consciousness or possibly switched hands.
Speaking of switching hands, my years of pounding the keyboard and my pud has been an onset of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. I bought a Corvette convertible to drive myself to a midlife crisis instead of waiting for it. But I’ll save that post for another time as I’ve gotten sidetracked as usual.
Back to the topic, I started with.
My original thought of publishing in KU was so that monthly subscribers could stick their toes in the water and try out my erotic musings. It seems to have worked, and over the last several years, my Amazon sales went from typically half of SmashWords sales to twice my average SmashWords sales.
SmashWords sales have slowly ticked up, but Amazon has surprised me with how quickly Larry Archer erotica sales have ramped up. It was like living in East Texas and going into a Walmart Superstore for the first time. Now we see Amazon with their hands around Walmart’s throat after strangling the smaller big box stores.
My current struggle to get premium status for House Party 2 at SmashWords has highlighted several new concerns about SmashWords.
First is turnaround time. The nice thing about SmashWords is that if your submission passed the initial gauntlet of testing, it was immediately available for everyone with his pants around his ankles. Then the final testing to premium status was typically only a couple of days.
When your story gets the “Premium” stamp, it is pushed out to all of the other publishing outlets, such as Apple iBooks and Barnes and Noble. Draft2Digital acquired SmashWords, which appears to have caused some internal tightening in their processes.
SmashWords conversion program, which converts the author’s document file to various electronic formats, is affectionally called the “meatgrinder.” Once a writer understands the basic rules of formatting, the final hurdle is the Table of Contents (TOC).
To get “premium status,” your story must include a TOC which to me is pretty useless. Most electronic readers and software don’t make the TOC easily accessible. To be honest, how often have you started a fictional story and referred to the Table of Contents? I start reading a story and quit when I get to the end. I don’t need no stinking table of contents.
Initially, House Party 2 passed all the initial checks and was accepted with open arms. Then three days later, I got a slap across my knuckles by Amazon’s nun that a link was broken. I try to carefully check this before publishing. Going through the converted ePub file, I could see a broken link. Studying my Word submittal file indicated no problems at all. I even made an ePub myself with Calibre to double-check.
After deleting and recreating the bookmarks and links, I resubmitted the file. Three days later, I got another email that a different link was now broken! WTF! This time I deleted all of the bookmarks and links and then recreated each one. After checking all of the links, I converted the file to ePub and double-checked that version.
I’ve resubmitted the file and anxiously awaiting SmashWords’ seal of approval. But unfortunately, three days later and it’s still “pending.” It’s enough to make you scream, but the last time I did, the police showed up and suggested,
“Tell Foxy to duct tape her subs’ mouths before beating them. The neighbors are complaining!”
I’m Larry Archer, and I write erotic stories for the huddled and yearning masses. Foxy and I are swingers in real life. I write erotic stories based on the things we do and see. My smut is explicit and hardcore but with a somewhat plot. My porn novels are generally positive and fun, reflecting how enjoyable swinging has been for us. If you’re interested in checking out my stories, I publish them at all the popular outlets.