Publishers Starting to Nit Pick

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.

Kinky Literature
Amazon Kindle
SmashWords
Apple iBooks
Kobo
Barnes and Noble
Scribd

About LarryArcher

Larry Archer's the name, smut's my game. I am a writer of erotic literature that's generally always HEA (Happily Ever After), which typically involves no regrets sex. I write in a humorous style with a plot and suitable for reading with one hand. My stories are full of sexual situations that are often taken straight from our swinger lifestyle in Las Vegas. If you want to enjoy erotica, where every page is dripping with action, give me a try.
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10 Responses to Publishers Starting to Nit Pick

  1. Mark K says:

    You’re welcome.

    Or should I say “your” welcome, to stay in line with the topic. 😉

    I agree there’s a boatload of tripe out there.

    Some authors I give the benefit of the doubt because my gut feeling is they’re not native english speakers.

    I’ve also realized a bunch of authors are just ripping off stuff posted at Literotica, asstr.org, etc. One is willing to cut even more slack to those who post on those sites, for free and aren’t trying to make a buck, but those plagiarizing them, and not even bothering to change the text, other than perhaps a global search and replace for character names, are just plain lazy and disgusting.

    Especially when one considers the spelling and grammar check in Word is pretty effective. Of course, one must know when one should use the various homonyms, like “its” vs “it’s” or “their” vs “they’re”, but still, it isn’t that frackin hard to run the frackin check.

    With regards to the conversion issues you’re facing Larry, I’m a noob in that regard so I have no clues.

    I decided long ago to keep everything I have on my iPad as epub and download and convert anything I get form Amazon using Caliber. I bought a program to rip the DRM off azw format files so I can do that.

    And before the copywrite police jump down my throat, I consider it perfectly equivalent to making a cassette recording of an LP one purchased for one’s own personal use. That was deemed not an infringement of copyright law, as long as one didn’t try to sell or distribute those tape copies.

    Yeah I know this dates me as an old fart for listening to LP’s and cassette tapes. so be it.

    Like

  2. Mark K says:

    Hey, I just had a thought about those broken links.

    Are there any spaces in the link address?

    I know in Windows that if one simply copies and pastes the link address in an e-mail, Word document, etc., any blank spaces will break the link. That is, everything after the space won’t show up in the hyperlink format (blue and underlined), and so the full path won’t be “included” in the hyperlink.

    The solution is to hit “ctrl” + “K” and the insert hyperlink window appears. If you’ve already coped the link address to the clipboard, just hit “ctrl” + “V” after this to paste it. Hit “enter” and your done.

    One quirk I’ve noticed with this is that the insert hyperlink window sometimes “remembers” the address of a previous link that may be a subfolder or domain of the hyperlink you’re trying to make, so look carefully at what it says it’s using for the hyperlink address. This might be what happened as well.

    Like

    • LarryArcher says:

      Mark,

      No it’s broken bookmarks. If you unzip the ePub (Thanks Lisabet) the toc file clearly shows the link is there but the bookmark is missing. I finally started saving every iteration that I uploaded to SmashWords and the resultant ePub file. The bookmark is in the original .doc file yet after processing the bookmark is missing. I’ve learned that for instance you only bookmark the first character and not the phase as that sometimes screws the bookmark up. But that’s a problem in Word apparently. It’s hard for me to fault the meatgrinder as they would have caught it (at least I hope so). My guess is that there is some malformation in the Word file that causes the conversion to fail. It’s not a showstopper but an aggravating issue.

      Thanks,

      Larry

      Larry@LarryArcher.com or LarryArcher69@gmail.com for WordPress folks. *Cuckold Club – First Date – *Hotwives satisfy their Bulls https://larryarcher.blog/stories/cuckold-club-first-date/ “*Erotica from the dirty mind of Larry Archer*.” Check me out on Kinky Literature . Read my Blog at http://LarryArcher.blog. Twitter: @Archer_Larry Tumblr: LarryArcher.Tumblr.com MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/larryarcherauthor For your Kindle at Larry’s Amazon Page . or Larry’s SmashWords Page for all other digital formats.

      Like

      • Mark K says:

        Normally in Word, I use the heading styles and build a TOC that way. That won’t work here? I’m a noob when it comes to using the conversion programs for Amazon, Smashwords, etc. so forgive my ignorance.

        I use heading styles and the caption feature all the time in Word docs for work to build TOC, list of figures, tables, etc. as well as cross references. I do get the occasional glitch that I have to fix, and have learned to update all the fields then search for “error!” & “section 0”, since broken links will include those statements.

        I’ve made epubs of stuff I downloaded from Literotica, using Caliber, and that seems to make a TOC that works just fine.

        I can jump to the chapters in SumatraPDF (on my PC), iBooks app on my iPad, or when I open the epub using winrar and have the TOC html file open.

        Like

      • LarryArcher says:

        Mark,

        That’s the same basic process I use. Scrivener compiles my story and outputs a single Word .doc file. Scrivener creates the chapter head statement by putting about 10 carriage returns followed by auto-generated text “Chapter ??” in the designated heading font.

        SmashWords doesn’t like more than a couple of CRs in a row and so I manually go in and delete the carriage returns then change the style of the “Chapter ??” to Heading 1 as Scrivener can’t set the style (I can’t figured out how). Then I create links to each chapter and link the TOC entries to the chapter. All that works and it’s basically the same as before I switched to Scrivener. With HP2, I just kept repeating the same process of creating bookmarks and links until SmashWords accepted it.

        My .doc file goes into SmashWord’s conversion process and comes out as an ePub. You only get a pass/fail result and there are no hints as to what went wrong

        Thanks,

        Larry

        Larry@LarryArcher.com or LarryArcher69@gmail.com for WordPress folks. *Cuckold Club – First Date – *Hotwives satisfy their Bulls https://larryarcher.blog/stories/cuckold-club-first-date/ “*Erotica from the dirty mind of Larry Archer*.” Check me out on Kinky Literature . Read my Blog at http://LarryArcher.blog. Twitter: @Archer_Larry Tumblr: LarryArcher.Tumblr.com MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/larryarcherauthor For your Kindle at Larry’s Amazon Page . or Larry’s SmashWords Page for all other digital formats.

        Like

  3. kdaddy23 says:

    KU “makes sense” because, as a subscriber myself, I like being able to keep up my voracious reading habit for one monthly price. But I’m glad you write about this from the author’s side of things but continues to make me wonder why I want to go back to writing stuff and getting paid for it.

    That and I seriously doubt the stuff I tend to write would pass Amazon’s censors…

    Like

  4. Hi, Larry,

    I do think that the merger has made Smashwords more testy.

    It’s also the case that the longer a book is, the easier it is for mistakes to creep in.

    By the way, I definitely think your writing gets better all the time. I thought Company Business was great (though you STILL need an editor… I found a number of embarrassing mistakes).

    Glad to year that House Party 2 finally made it through the gauntlet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LarryArcher says:

      “though you STILL need an editor… I found a number of embarrassing mistakes”

      Thanks for your comment. While I agree that an editor would be possibly helpful, it would not be very practical. From what I’ve been able to glean, my sales are in the upper quadrant of most porn writers, but it doesn’t seem realistic to give away a majority of my profits to hire an editor. In a perfect world, it would be nice, but my goal is not to have to pay people to read my smut. While my goal has never been to get rich writing erotica, I still like to be in the black. Paying an editor hundreds of dollars to correct my “embarrassing” mistakes is something I can’t make a valid financial argument for. The pros don’t seem to override the cons.

      Porn has come a long way from its beginning as poorly typed, misspelled stories photocopied and passed around but will never be mainstream reading in the cold light of day. Other than the occasional 50 Shades that somehow manages to break free of its bonds, most of us will have to be content to wallow in the gutter and scrape for our pennies no matter our level of education.

      While my expertise in the English language pales in comparison to a trained professional, I personally feel that I write reasonably decent shit. Laughingly, I’ve noticed that virtually every mainstream story that I’ve read usually contains a few faux pas, so I don’t feel so bad with only the help from my Frenchie keeping my feet warm.

      Like

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