Monday, October 20, 2008

When Content Isn't King

Last week on Cult of Gracie, Callie & I were joined by Pearly Writes and Rebecca Deos for a long conversation about SEO and content.

For the most part, we all agree: content is the best organic SEO. You'll have to listen to the show for where we split hairs regarding SEO and social network sites, etc., but worthy of noting here today was our discussion regarding use of content.

Callie and I began the conversation by stating that before you blog (or your business, really) you have to know your mission. How else are you going to measure your success? Part of this business of your mission relates to content, how to use it, and the matter of "should you give it away for free?"

While we all agreed there are times to withhold content for money, deciding 'when' is the tricky part. Callie, who does consulting & writes conceptual articles & "how to" posts, discussed how some of her most thoughtful "free stuff" was often either not understood & therefore misapplied, or read too quickly (a kind way of saying that folks didn't really get it) and the information was not used correctly. She's decided that she won't be giving such things away, but rather saving most of her "goodies" for clients ~ not just to be paid, but to ensure that the advice or concept is applied as intended. Rebecca, an escort, uses her blog to write about things that interest her purely as a way for prospective clients to know more about her. And certainly an author has to decide what stories/columns should be sold versus what can be given away for free, as 'exposure.'

In any case, this "to be paid or not to be paid" is a rather subjective decision ~ one which can only effectively be decided once you know your goals/mission.

But this lead to a conversation about the worth of writing ~ again, partially based upon all the recent loss of so many "sex columnists". (It's a conversation I appreciate being kept alive by grande folks such as Amber, Dacia, & Callie.)

My thoughts wandered to the matter of value ~ value beyond paid or not, or how much per word, etc., but the matter of the value of adult writing on human sexuality.

We know that sex is deemed a less legitimate conversation than say politics, finance, or technology. Everyone knows I find that both a stupid ideology (everybody literally has a reason to both know about & explore sexuality) and a dumb argument in light of the fact that sex does in fact sell ~ and I'm talking actually selling sex, be it porn, toys, or sex worker services ~ to the tune of millions, billions of dollars annually. But the value of sex writing, fiction and non-fiction, cannot be discussed only in terms of its relation to non sexual writing ~ if only for the fact that we're missing the definition of the value of writing in general. Time for some conceptual algebra.

What value does writing have? And perhaps, more pointedly, just what is of value on the Internet?

Lately I'm more and more struck by the freakish facts which point to the fact that technology & its tools (the code, widgets, etc. known as Web 2.0) garner more money, attention and credit than content.

Name a site, strip it of its content and what do you have? Just a bunch of code. Yet people are buying code and concepts of code & tools rather than putting money into what it is that people really come to, return to, and love sites for: content.

All websites are publications/productions, so this monetary focus on the tools of the publication/production is akin to gushing over the pencil, the typewriter, the lush yet blank pages of a magazine. I'm focusing on writing here (and perhaps it's warranted because words are still the way things are found on the Internet), but this applies to images too. For example, Flickr without photos and images is nothing but a a potentially cool tool that's not being used; it only becomes popular when the tool is used to deliver content.

But the money seems to be going to the folks who create the tools, while content creators, adult or otherwise, are slighted. It's too lopsided.

So perhaps the question we should all be asking isn't, "Should I give it away for free?" or even "When should I give it away for free?" but rather "When are the big sites with budgets going to realize how damn important content is?"

For the flip-side of this argument, please read Rebecca's thoughts from after the radio show.

And then, please do tell us all what you think about the use of content and the value of writing.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Freelance Bloggers Getting Paid

The brilliant Genia of SistersTalk has started FreelanceBlogger.net ~ and yes, she's included a category for adult or sex bloggers.

Also included in the community is advice on and other tips ~ including this list of social bookmarking sites, with opinion on their effectiveness for traffic and SEO.

The plan is to get all you bloggers who want to get paid over there, registered and posting your mini-resumes and then go after companies looking for bloggers. Genia is anticipating a 30 - 60 day time line to get the community active before she'll really begin courting the companies who will pay for bloggers, but there are already some Available Freelance Blogging Jobs listed.

The sooner you get registered, the sooner your potential for a paid blogging gig.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cult Of Gracie Radio: The Marketing Whore Edition

Both Callie Simms & I will be back on Cult of Gracie Radio tonight, from 9-10 PM (Central), discussing mainstream & mature marketing from more of a 'how to' aspect. Tonight's agenda includes the following discussion:

* SEO: application tips (how) & definitions of purpose (why)

* The purpose behind & use of blogs (when to use, what they are for; when blogging doesn't make sense)

* Content: What is, and isn't, content with a purpose, and the issue of "giving it away for free". (somewhat related to both of the above)

* Ethics & 'feelings' about blogging & online user IDs. (When using a pen name feels icky, but is necessary; are there situations to 'out' yourself?)

(Of course, I'm sure we'll still have plenty of lively debate as we defend our reasoning!)

You can join the conversation by calling 646.200.3136

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Clash Of The Sex Writers: Should We Stay Or Should We Go Now?

A further, even lengthier, response to Audacia Ray's The End of the Sex Writer?

Like myself, Audacia says she sees herself as an activist, an advocate; and that writing is the medium for her message. In that sense we have to accept that there will not be paid writing gigs ~ in fact, there really are no paid activist positions.

No, not because getting paid is becoming "a sell-out to da man," but because no one pays a person directly for their activism. (Unless you count lobbyists; but so far, I've found no one willing to back sex as an issue. Let me know if you have any leads and I'll give you my packet.)

You could start a non-profit; but in order to become paid you'll need to be the executive director (at the beginning, you'll be lucky if you can afford to pay for even that position). But then, because staff members are usually not allowed to be on the organization's board, you will lose ability to control the organization. (After several years in the nonprofit sector, I've seen how the, "Oh, but I've selected the board to maintain my vision," works out. That varies between "poorly" and "horrific," by the way.)

I've written before about having to decide if you're in business or an activist, so I'll refer you to that post.

Now, if you've opted for "business" (with or without a dose of "activism" or "cultural mission" to your branding) and refuse to monetize your own site(s), looking elsewhere for a paycheck, let's look at what's happening in the business of sex writing.

Sex is still a taboo. Those of us who work with/in/under/behind/through any issues of sexuality, legal or not, face discrimination (and I mean real discrimination, not the made up kind). There are less options in general and they come with higher fees we must pay, further scrutiny for services, and even bigger prices in terms of employment and social relationships. Audaica (who I swear I am not picking on!) has been running into these issues head-on recently, as noted by Chris in The Shrinking Public Square.

I don't mean to sound bitchy or condescending here and I'm certainly not trying to alienate myself from anyone, let alone anyone in the business of taking sex out of the closet and having it be a recognized & respected part of the human experience; but I've been talking about all of this stuff here, and here, and here, and ~ hell, pick a site, a post, as you'd like. It's been a decade of writing online, folks.

It's not that I'm whining that no one's listening to me (although, who doesn't like to be noticed?), but it seems that there's a huge gap in understanding. Maybe it's due to age & experience (I'm likely at least a decade older than most of these folks). Or maybe it's a failure to understand how publishing works ~ especially when it comes to mainstream publications and sex.

The fact is that these publications which were paying sex columnists were not in the business of sex education nor with a mission of sex positivity.

Be honest, dear readers, if you weren't following the authors involved here because you knew them, would you ever turn to Valleywag or Wired for your sex info?

Does anyone read Fleshbot? It's no literary journal; it's a smorgasbord of tits & ass for 20-somethings who don't know better (and for older folks who should know better). This is due, in no small part, to cranking out way-too-much content ~ as Audacia mentioned. That's not only a shame, but a failure on the part of the writer &/or activist who expects to be read at a site that pushes more pink bits than the eraser factories do.

Naked City ~ that blog was so clunky I heard things fall off when the page loaded. And don't even get me started on what's wrong with the Village Voice.

So, times get tough, advertising shrinks, and these publications decide to axe writers. It happens; in print, on the web, everywhere. It's tough for smart writers who know they had done nothing wrong, had nothing to do with the decision (nor any of the decisions prior on how to run their business), but that's the way it goes.

For all the "newness" of these Internets, business still has the same old model to follow: make profit. (And more than a few of them are missing the boat by applying the same practices that they mock print for; but that's for another time.)

Do I think sex writers were likely viewed as the first to go in these economic cuts? You bet I do. In fact, if I were sitting there, making the decisions, I'd likely have done the same thing. A) Sex is not representational of the companies' core missions, and 2) having sex on pages can will deter advertisers.

If these companies had committed more to the issue sexuality as a right and therefore an integral part of their publications, rather than posing as sex positive hipsters exploiting sex columnists & titillating titular to garner some eyeballs and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge mentality, then my call ~ and likely the publishers' ~ would have been different.

On one hand I am frustrated by a world which refuses to have sexuality be a part of legitimate conversation; I'd love to see sex included as an important, fundamental human issue for grown-ups period.

On the other hand, these places were only using sex as a loss-leader and they could no longer absorb the loss.

That was their bottom line talking.

And they had no sex positive mission to adhere to, remember?

Now, when it comes to "sex writers," we all have our choices to make. Not just, "stay or go?" but if we stay, how? Are we in business? Are we activists? Both? And if both, how will we blend the two?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amanda Brooks On Marketing On XXBN

Amanda Brooks, a retired escort and author of The Internet Escort's Handbook series, will be on Cult of Gracie radio at 9 pm (central). Since Amanda's second book, Advertising and Marketing: Successfully Creating and Selling Your Image Online, is due out in June, this is an excellent time for you Marketing Whore readers to listen ~ and call in.

If it's anything like her first book (NWS), it will be brilliant ~ and useful for more than escorts and PSOs etc. So don't miss it.

For more on Amanda, see the show details.

As most (?) of you know by now, I work with Amanda Brooks at SWOP-East. But before you go thinking that's why Amanda's book got such a rave review, you should know it's quite the opposite: Amanda's brilliance convinced Gracie that she'd like to work with the brilliant Amanda Brooks and SWOP-East.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright, Should I Give Away First Rights?

In Bad ways to use your rights (and the links therein) Val Gryphin discusses what happens when authors publish their stories and original written works at their blogs. She cautions:
There is no such thing as "pre-publishing," and posting your work online gives up your first rights. You do not have to be paid to give up your first rights! All that has to happen is your work be printed in a periodical, or put online where anyone can access it. Do either one of those and you loose your first rights, which are the most valuable in almost all cases.
But too, she offers many examples where publishing online has generated book deals for the actual works published as blog content. The trick is to calculate a plan and execute it well.

In her post, Val also mentions Dana K. Cassell's Writing Contest Cautions, sharing this tip for spotting a bad contest:
No entry fees - Writing contests cost money to run. If they aren't charging, how are they paying prizes and judges?
I'd say the contest should be paid by selling copies, or with sponsorships; not a lottery based on the fees of submitting authors. But that's just me.

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"You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography"

Roxanne Rhoads tells us how Erotica was insulted in Writer's Digest (NWS):
Mr. Vaughn interviewed a romance agent for information about the romance genre, a Steven Axelrod who supposedly has been a romance agent for over 30 years. (Obviously not a very good one if he knows nothing of the hot, hot, hot market of erotica). Axelrod is quoted as saying "You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography," he says. "It's hard to see it as true romance, and it has a very limited audience- they can't seem to grow it. Very few good storytellers seem to be staking their careers there."

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Paid Writers, Or Paid Posts For SEO?

This post from CNN Money, Firms that actually pay bloggers (a bit) focuses mainly on Associated Content, one of Google's babies.
One of the more intriguing approaches to this model is Associated Content, a site backed by Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) North American advertising chief Tim Armstrong and hatched by his former college roommate, Luke Beatty. What sets three-year-old Associated apart is that in addition to promising to share revenues with its contributor community, it gives writers an up-front payment based on a nifty Google-like algorithm to assess the potential popularity of submission.

Once an article is run through Associated's "yield management system," the company then sends the writer a one-time up-front fee that typically ranges from $4 to $20.00 (although most of the payments are closer to the low end). Additionally, Associated pays contributors $1.50 for every 1,000 page views their article, which usually run in the 600-word-count range, generates.
To many this will seem less than the amounts garnered via advertising revenues, donations, affiliate sales, &/or direct product sales; but at least they are paying ~ even if the math is as complicated as Google's own algorithm.
Indeed, among the attributes Associated's software analyzes are popular key words that entice search engines, and whether the author already has a track record within the system. If the system deems an article unsuitable for print, a content editor will send it back with some thought on how it can be made ready for distribution. This happens with about 30% of submissions, Reiss said, noting that nothing is "spiked" in the traditional media sense, but rather held until the system says it is ready.
If this sounds like articles are edited, that's not exactly true... It's more about SEO than the craft of writing:
In a sense, Associated automates the front-end story-generation process in publishing the same way that Google, Yahoo and other online giants have attempted to automate the back-end process of advertising online. Traditionally, publications spend a lot of effort vetting potential contributions and setting editorial budgets to attract the appropriate level of talent to write for them.

Reiss is quick to caution, however, that Associated's business is geared toward giving casual bloggers or first-time writers a way to get paid and have their work more widely read - but it's not (yet) seen as a replacement for mainstream media. Being a big-name writer already gets you no points, nor does Associated's computer give marks for good writing.
I also found this intriguing...
One of Associated's rivals told me that the rub against them is that they are filling the Internet with sub-par material that is geared toward gaming search engines - a claim that Reiss rejects.
Who was that unnamed rival, anyway? Inquiring minds want to know...

As a Google baby, it should be no surprise to read the following:
As far as [Ashley] Sinatra is concerned, Associated's system does have its quirks and perks. She has written on everything from the benefits of raw pet food to makeup tips and advice for aspiring writers, all for "basically minimum wage". But, she says, her most widely-read article was one she submitted last May -about celebrities baring their breasts in public. Apparently Associated did not offer her an advance payment for that piece, but it was her most lucrative work to date, yielding around $30. "They usually don't pay up front for celebrity things but those get the most page views," Sinatra, 18, told me over the phone. "It's weird, their system: You can write an article about something really boring but somebody will want it."
Once again, even though Google knows sex sells, they won't properly acknowledge it up front.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Erotica Authors, Take Note

From M.Christian's Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Risks:
I could go on, but I think I've given you enough to chew on. I believe that writing about sex is something that no one should be ashamed of, but I also think that we all need to recognize and accept that there are many out there who do not share those feelings. Write what you want, say what you believe, but do it with your eyes open. Understand the risks, accept the risks and be smart about what you do -- so you can keep working and growing as a writer for many years to come.
I could comment ~ should comment, perhaps. But really, what can I possibly add that he or I haven't already said?

The above may be preaching to the choir, but we all need a "Hallelujah" now and then.

There's more in Christian's series, so go check it out.

Also worth noting, if you're a smut writer or publisher, Erotica Revealed reviews erotic books.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Applause Is Nice; But Send Money Too

My friend, Emily Dubberley, is one of those interviewed in An orgasm of one's own: women who spank back.

Mostly this is just a plug *wink* but if you're interested in knowing more about women as a target market for your adult business read it.

Those who are in the biz, will love how the piece starts:
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." The crux of Virginia Woolf's polemic on female creativity -- first declared in 1928 and walloped around the theoretical arena ever since -- resounds today more than ever for the post-Sex and the City generation. Sure, the envisaged room is a "post-war Upper-East side walk-up" and the finances are limited by a substance abuse problem (expensive footwear), but the ethos remains the same: for women to create, they need agency.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Peek-A-Boo Transparency

When it comes to visibility on the Internet, there's a delicate balance to maintain.

Transparency is desirable, but as any woman can tell you, you certainly have to protect yourself.

Des Walsh writes discusses anonymity from a practical sense, but so does Jennifer Woodard Maderazo at PBS.

The dilemma is between being known and credible, and being 'found' and frightened.

Obviously I'm a huge advocate of pen names. I have a history which makes them second nature and deal in a subject matter which makes one mandatory. So I began my life here on the Internet with a working name ~ a professional name I work under. (Gracie Passette, not just The Whore; I find the latter fun.) And I advocate pen names for anyone, in any profession. I don't believe that pen names make you less credible.

(I often think it would be great if you could literally make a name for yourself in your 9-5 cubicle, and say work as "John Peterson" rather than use your birth name. It makes it so easy to un-plug at the end of your work day when you stop being "John" and start being David aka The Real You.)

But if this doesn't sit right with you, or if you've already begun your career with your real name, for heaven's sake be careful about it. Consider what you share, how you share it, and with whom you share it. Tell the truth, but cloak what you can.

It's like dressing to tease, but still allowing for some modesty.

(In truth, many bloggers etc. use their real names not for their current level of credibility, but for the vanity of it).

You aren't faking anything, just being discrete for safety reasons. And anyone who thinks you have something to hide, some hideous skeleton in your closet or facet of your life you are trying to hide, is well... Partly right. Maybe not about the skeleton. But you are trying to hide some part of yourself so that you can be safe and live your life. (As can your family and friends.)

Not using your real or birth name isn't any different than electing not to put up photos of yourself. But then again by the same token, don't use a name which belongs to someone else or describe yourself (character, integrity, knowledge etc.) other than what you are. That's like using a photo of a model; that's misrepresentation, lying.

Sure, when you become famous you won't be easily getting that table at (insert whatever hot spot for dining you'd like), but then you won't have someone following you to your home either. Or at least you've made it more difficult for them to do so.

Being accessible is a huge part of credibility; but that doesn't mean you must allow anyone, everyone, into your home.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Putting On My Big-Girl Panties, One Leg At A Time

Recently I was flattered by receiving a comment from Naked Confessions author Shel Israel. He complimented me on my review of the book and expressed concerns regarding what he thought was my anonymity. I emailed him regarding his concern and proffered an interview opportunity. (A sincere wish as I really love the book and wanted to present some questions based on my experiences, including in the adult industry.)

But Shel wasn't interested, saying, "...I think I'll pass on the interview. I've been reducing the interviews I do anyway as I get into writing my new book. But more than that, I just don't see much potential business for me with your target audience."

:sigh:

I really expected more from Shel. I expected him to understand that business is business. I expected him to understand that credibility ~ or lack thereof ~ is a huge part of this business and to relish the opportunity to discuss how the adult industry is more often than not about promoting naked people rather than getting naked themselves. If Shel can't see how vital transparency is to this business, who can?

But he didn't.

I can complain and whine all I want ~ and some days, believe me, I do ~ but in the end, I have to get dressed and face the day like any other professional. So be they lacy, frilly, or slut-red, I put on my panties one leg at a time; just like those good old boys do with their tidy-whiteies. And so it is with the business of marketing.

Despite what I believe to be intelligent discourse here (this certainly isn't some pandering smarmy sex blog), and in the area of business and marketing which his book(s) are targeted at, Shel thinks we adult business folks are too... too, what? Sexy to have legit concerns? To absorbed in sex to have any brain matter left over for business matters? Whatever his reasoning, he has dismissed us as a book-buying-consumers.

Israel's not alone in this attitude. Lots of folks dismiss our business. And they write us off as "being sex" rather than being in the business of sex. This is exactly what and why I'd like to discuss Naked Conversations here at this blog; we have an image problem and we'd like to resolve it.

I urge all of you who purchased Naked Confessions, or those who are thinking of buying the authors' books, to contact them and tell them that you are more than sex, more than frilly panties or thong briefs, and that you are in fact, their audience.

Tell 'em that you have brains in your heads, money in your pocket, and that you'd love to have them interviewed by The Whore. Tell them to stop putting us in the Pink Ghetto.

Contact information is found at each author's blog:

Shel Israel's Blog

Robert Scoble's Bog

** UPDATE: 04/20/07

It seems, based on emails and some comments that many of you are missing the point regarding who Shel Israel is &/or what the book, Naked Conversations, is about. Please read this post with the book's review ~ or at least note that this is a book about blogs and how companies can/must use them. (It is not erotica or sex; it's a business book.)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hired Guns & Rented Hands

Dear Whore,

I'm looking to hire some blog writers or buy content for my blog. What do you suggest? (Who do you suggest?)

Bogged Down in Blogs
Dear Blog-Bogged,

The Whore is not anti-paid writers, but she does have words of caution.

Blogs are largely popular due to passion, voice and other personalisation the format allows, so the matter of guns for hire for blogging is vastly different than hiring copywriters for website pages, press releases and other writing gigs.

Since a large part of a blog's appeal is that readers come back for more ~ and this more isn't just another post on the subject, but more of the person they enjoyed ~ buying content is trickier.

It's best to have a regular writer (or several) at your blog. Regular and engaging authors allow for a consistency in tone and voice that gives the blog its style. This also means you will be less likely to have redundant (boring) content. Hiring or contracting writers to write on a theme means you're going to end up with several generic pieces. I know this is quite a popular thing for some bloggers to do ~ hire writers to write based on a set of keywords and just wait for that Google ad money to roll in (not!) ~ but honestly, have you ever visited that blog again? Do you think those blogs have fans?

(Those are rhetorical questions; the answers are 'No.')

I know several writers quite well who write weekly posts for other blogs (under differing pen names or completely selling the content to the person who owns the blog), and their 'regular Wednesday post' or whatnot has developed a following all its own. Readers visit every week to read those posts because of it's voice and personality. (Hopefully each other hired gun has the same pull for the other days of the week.)

If you don't have enough passion to write on the subject, if you are not able to speak to the audience you are seeking, or if you just plain aren't "a writer" at all, hiring a pro may be a good thing. (Please, do not use free-to-use-as-long-as-you-include-their-credit-box as posts ~ that's not original or unique to your blog. If in a pinch, it's better to have a blog 'guest' write an entry for your blog than it is to use such useless and old-hat material. If it's just a time issue, maybe form a group blog?)

If you must hire, try to find & hire regular writers. They'll add more than just words to your blog, but give it the je ne sais quoi that sets your blog apart from the others.

(As for the 'who,' as mentioned, I do know a few writers who'll do this ~ if you really need a connection, email me and I'll see if I can hook you up.)

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Social Media Marketing Reading

Some required reading regarding social networks ~ keep in mind, if you have an adult site or blog, your content may not be welcome (and you'd likely be missing your target audience anyway).

Of How to Leverage Web 2.0 & Social Media Sites to Market Your Brand & Control Your Message, I have to say their comments about MySpace, Yahoo! 360 & Technorati accurately reflect my experiences and so I'm taking what they have to say about the others to heart.

In How Many Friends Does Your Book Have? there is a more hopeful or promising picture of MySpace ~ for authors anyway. I can't deny the stories told, but my experiences are more in line with what SEOmoz has to say (above).

Over at Spin Thicket (one of my addictions), they have a whole category dedicated to what they call Social Disease Media. Funny, sad-but-true, and just the facts, this section is good reading for those interested in Web 2.0/Social Networking.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Blogger By Any Other Name

Dear Whore,
Can you write under a user ID and still be 'real' enough to be an authority?


Really a user name or ID is nothing more than a pen name, a pseudonym. Sure, MonkeyBoy23 or BBW_Brenda isn't as real-name sounding as Nom de Plumes Mark Twain or George Eliot, but that doesn't make them less credible. And look at the number of actors and actresses which have stage or screen names ~ certainly doesn't stop them from getting work or being recognized. In fact, there are many examples of folks whose 'fake' names became so popular or credible that they have taken their pseudonyms as legal names. (This is not recommended for MonkeyBoy23 or BBW_Brenda ~ or would that be "BBW Underscore Brenda"? *wink*)

Credibility and authority are based on what you do, who you are, not what your name is.

Have you done your research, presented information, shared enough about yourself to show that you are an expert in your area? (Those things we've discussed in past Marketing Whore Newsletters.) If you've made mistakes do you print retractions, updates or other additional information clearly showing that you are willing to take the actions necessary to be honest and show your ethics? Doing these things shows that you are real person, ready to be responsible for what you write.

Being responsible is a start, but how about being responsive?

Can you be reached for complaints, questions, comments? Do you answer emails ~ and promptly?

These actions matter more than the moniker you use.

Look at it this way: If Walter Cronkite read the news the same but was called by another name, would it matter? Would he have been less than legendary? No. His character, integrity and all the other professional qualities he possessed is what made you want to remember his name. And that what names are for ~ a way for us to remember each other, a way for us to find one another. Do something worthy of remembrance and they'll remember your name. Do a good job blogging, earn reader respect, authority, and your readers will think as much of "MonkeyBoy23" as they would have of "Tom." That's step one in branding yourself and your blog.

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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Q & A The Authority Way

Naughty Words has an excellent interview with Jerry D. Simmons regarding the erotica and sex books & the publishing industry. (Must reading for authors and book whores.)

I love how she asks the questions complete newbie (or even idiots) would ask. She's willing to ask the questions others fear to ask for looking stupid. You know the old saying, the only dumb question is the unasked one, well Naughty believes that's true.

While she doesn't pose as an expert with all the answers, she maintains her authority. This is how:

* She collects all the questions emailed to her
* She reviews them, looking for the cumulative information being sought
* She finds experts in those areas to interview
* She poses the questions to her interview subjects with some context (both personalizes the interview and illustrates what the question is really about)
* She publishes the interview

This way her readers get the information they seek but need not expose themselves. Authors know that Naughty will get them the information in a way which does not embarrass them. The experts interviewed understand what is being asked. Naughty maintains her status as a trusted authority. Everybody wins!

For other great author and publishing insider interviews, click her "Interviews with Pros" label or tag.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mental Midgets (A Rant)

This is a re-run of an older column of mine ~ but a friend recently had a (uncannily) similar experience, so I re-published this of necessity.

Is it just me, or do humans seem to be developmentally stuck?

At some point, humans, as a species, seem to remain at a mental/emotional state that resides between the ages of 8 - 12 years of age.

As adults we are easily titillated (did you giggle over that?!) by words & functions that make young children titter (and again?!). Words like buggers, boobies, fart, butt (and all their endless variations) often reduce any adult (in the US anyway) to giggles, even tears.

Why is it that we are the only animals to be so caught up with tension regarding basic biology?

This was pointed out to me again when I went to register for a mail box at one of those newly named UPS Stores.

I simply wanted an address for snail mail that I could use for professional correspondence (with regards to my website & writing), yet not have my privacy or safely at risk.

I don't know if any of you have ever done one of these things, but the paperwork is likely less if you apply for a passport to the US from an Arabic country...

Now I can understand the need for 2 forms of ID. But credit cards, social security cards, bank cards etc. do not work. You need to have a photo ID (drivers or other id works, and is 'do-able'), and one of the following: rental contract or home mortgage documents, or other equally sacred documents.

(Now I ask you, who in their right mind carries such items around?)

During the course of my application, I had to fill out my real name & address, and then the company or DBA information, each about 10 times. During this lengthy process, I had to talk with these people and they were often confused as to which went where.

They seemed amazed that I would want such a service. Hello, am I the first rental they have had?! And when I tried to explain that this was for contact purposes, yet to conceal my personal home, they were confused.

So I told them, 'Look, I run a website with adult content, and write about adult subject matter, I don't need to invite trouble.'

This drew nervous laughter, and side-ways glances. I swear to you, the one guy elbowed his female co-worker!

I could have just as easily said 'poop' and the reaction would have been the same...

Now I hope that they had their giggles, and have now moved on. I hope their immature reactions to the matter of sexuality lasts as long as that of a 8 year old, and they forget about me by dinner time.

If not, I have just given my personal information to the some scary folks ~ The very thing I had hoped to avoid with this post office box rental.

If I wrote about spleens, I wouldn't need this extra safety measure. But even if I choose to do so because I live in a large apartment complex where packages can be 'lost' and the mail can overflow when I travel, I don't think spleen-article-authoring would gather such a response.

If I was a proctologist, sure. If I said I was studying nasal membranes & mucosa, and had to explain to their blank stares that I worked with boogers, sure, then they'd laugh.

But then, none of those professionals probably needs to worry about 'fans' arriving unannounced at their homes. (They likely have the opposite situation...)

But since I do care, I was there. Renting a box to save my former 'rental box.' *wink*

And giggle they did. At a paying customer yet.

It isn't easy being an adult webmaster or author... Some days, we are the only 'adults' involved.

*sigh*

Additional Reading/Ranting:

For more on the Pink Ghetto, Chelsea Girl speaks of limp publishers and rubbery dicks.

Even MS Word is sex-negative.

Also, related to all this talk of sex writers and public perceptions is this discussion on authors and pen names.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Where Can You Sell? Where Can You Buy?

Like Gracie, I've had my share of bad dealings with eBay.

As a buyer, I hate that I can't find what I am looking for because I need to hunt for the secret passageway to the back alley which is the 'mature audiences' area and that my secret knock has a time limit which puts be back outside the back alley again and again. I'm looking for vintage men's magazines, pinups, antique erotic works, sex books (both new and historical titles) etc. -- it really shouldn't be like buying moonshine in during prohibition.

As a seller, I detest a greedy eBay which is all too happy take my money in the form of seller fees which are equal to those items which are not hidden in a back alley. (I pay the same fees yet have less exposure?! Sheesh.) And I have been driven to drink with the yanking of listings which are "against policy" even if not so stated. (I was the lister of the books Gracie wrote about here.)

In response to the above, we sell our items in our own stores. But as a collector of old sex history, it was awfully darn nice to have one large source for so many goodies. While many sites have tried to be the 'new adult marketplace', most folded due to the usual problem of not enough traffic (missing buyers and sellers both). So when I heard about Rummage Monkey, a new entry in the race for online marketplace supremacy with both 'wine & spirits' and 'adult novelties' categories clearly visible, I was interested.

Interested enough to interview Jeff Scanlon and Gary Legastee of Rummage Monkey.

One thing I couldn't really discuss over at Collectors' Quest was the dirty subject of naughty collectibles and the general sexual repression that is eBay...

Thankfully, I knew Gracie would let me air the dirty laundry out here. *wink*

After ranting about the various troubles with eBay's marketplace platform and polices for 'adult items' I asked both men what their plans were regarding all sorts of adult items. Gary and Jeff both explained that in order to be a member at Rummage Monkey you need to be 18; once you login as a member you'll be able to see the adult listings (and wine etc.) if you so wish. Both men assured me that they were committed to allowing for the sale of mature items. They understood that people want these items, and like alcohol, they aren't going to prohibit such items but keep Rummage Monkey open to legal buyers of these legal items.

"We don't think anyone not wanting these items is going to find them -- they'll have to search for them or browse a category as they would any other item. While adult items likely won't be featured on the home page, anyone who wants to find them will be able to do so."

"Are you going to bury the items in a maze of hidden alleyways and secret knocks? Lock us out when we are still logged in? You won't hide the link to the adult section?" I asked.

"Rummage Monkey makes money when items are sold, so making these items hard to find and therefore hard to sell, isn't in our best interests, is it?" Jeff grinned.

"Listen, Jeff," I said, "Did you know that vintage Playboy magazines can be sold in the non-protected areas of eBay, but other vintage men's magazines, even those with less skin shown, are not? Ah, the myriad of rules, is confusing and confounding. I completely understand and respect the business model -- I get that it's eBay's site, so they can do what they want; you can do what you want with your site. But I need to know how seriously you are committed to a marketplace which supports these items."

"I bet there are plenty of newer magazines & media which eBay offers which show much more than vintage Playboys," Jeff chuckled.

"I smell a money rat: Playboy's a known giant, a rich vein to mine. So eBay grants the money giant prominent placement and denies the others. There must be some rationale behind it... Will there be splits like that, weird little censoring rules based on who knows what? Is it Big Boys win; to hell with the rest?"

"The only thing we're really worried about are the images -- No explicit images, no matter who made it or who is selling it. As for the big boys, no. We're Foreign Exchange Sales Brokers working with many middle and small business owners so we see Rummage Monkey as an affordable marketplace for our clients and others like them."

"What about the issue of bdsm materials? Many of the banned or problematic items at eBay (and payment processor PayPal) are not 'adult' in the legal sense -- for example, they pulled a BDSM book which requires no brown wrap, isn't kept behind the counter -- anyone can purchase it from their local book store or online at Amazon. Would you allow this book to be sold at Rummage Monkey?"

"Sure," Jeff said.

"Where would it be listed? In 'Books' or in the 'Adult' category only?"

"'Books', I'd imagine... Isn't that where you'd look for it?" he replied.

Cheeky monkey.

"So, the bottom line: How committed are you to those of us who buy & sell these sort of items?"

"I can't promise you that if we have a seller blowing out thousands of flatscreen TVs and they come to us saying they're pulling from our site because of a bdsm book in the book's category that I won't pay attention... From a business point of view, that wouldn't make sense either. Depending upon the situation, we'll have to listen to the marketplace."

"So what would happen?"

"I'd probably move those items to the 'adult' category."

"So, bdsm items wouldn't be pulled?"

"No. Not unless it had inappropriate, explicit, images."

"I know you're a new site, and that much of this is new to you... And, again, I understand the business model. I understand that things may change... And I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but to be absolutely clear... Say that this seller of flatscreens says moving bdsm to 'adult' isn't good enough. Say he says that he wants no bdsm merchandise on the site... What's your response then?"

"Oh, no, we wouldn't pull it completely. Those legally selling and buying bdsm items should have a place to sell too. We'd be open to moving the items to 'adult' but not banishing them."

They convinced me that they're rather serious about offering a marketplace which is open to mature interests.

***

If you're an author peddling your erotica and don't want to bother with setting up your own shopping cart, a seller of sex toys looking for additional venues, or some other sort of adult etailer, I'd give Rummage Monkey a look-see yourself and see if it's an option for you. (If you've got vintage risque and adult collectibles, be sure to give me a shout out! lol)

Another note for you marketing folks out there: Rummage Monkey also will manage your Google Adwords accounts for you. If your mind boggles at how to analyze and therefore improve your current campaigns; if keywords, writing, formatting and the like are alien territory and you're unsure just what you're doing; Rummage Monkey has people and software they'll put to good use for you. According to Gary, for the accounts they manage they've increased hits by 3-5%. And if you have Rummage Monkey managing your Adwords account, you get a free store -- no monthly store fees, no final value fees. Contact Gary and Jeff regarding this service.

As noted in the other interview, Rummage Monkey has clear and easy contact information listed, so don't be shy & ask your questions. They also have a Rummage Monkey Blog.

by Deanna Dahlsad

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Friday, February 23, 2007

New Marketing Project To Help Independent Authors Sell More Books

Jerry D. Simmons is currently gathering names of those interested in testing the program which hopefully will begin no later than April 1, 2007.

For those who don't know who Jerry is, he's a retired Vice President and Director of Sales for the former Time Warner Book Group. He's spent more than 25 years working in the traditional publishing industry in New York. And he wants to help indie authors.

Yes, sex writers and erotica authors are welcome. (Hey, he let me in.)

Since Jerry cannot provide many details on the project (due to a non-disclosure agreement for funding), here are the basics you likely want to know:

* Self-published authors & those with small presses are welcome.

* The group is international.

* All of your titles are welcome, no limit (except illegal books, child porn, etc.)

* In this program, indie books will not be competing with traditionally published books.

* There is absolutely no cost or obligation of any kind for you to participate, nor will there be a cost once the project is off and running.

* You may opt out at any time.

* The goal is to sell books to readers, not to sell a program to authors.

(That last bit is what sold me.)

I asked Jerry a few quick questions in anticipation of author questions...

Jerry, I joined and I hope others will consider this as well ~ the greater our numbers, the greater our success. I thank you for taking the time to answer some quick questions so that others may have more information and make informed decisions about the independent author project.

Thank you very much Gracie, much appreciated.

I know you don't want to prematurely dish details of the project, but what is the philosophy behind it?

To create a community of Independent Writers and Authors which will become a destination for readers around the world looking for voices never heard and stories never told.

Why is this needed?

The biggest problem with selling independent books is that you cannot imitate what the bigger publishers do successfully and you should not be wasting lots of time or money trying to gain any noticeable entry into the market they control. The best opportunity to sell more Independently Published books is to create your own market. Take from the bigger publishers strengths, exploit their weaknesses, and establish your own destination for selling books.

What sort of authors are you looking for?

Any and all writers are welcome. Poets, screenwriters, columnists, if you write and you are interested in your work being read then please join our community.

Give us one important fact about you that you believe is important for authors to know.

I am passionate about wanting to help Independent Writers and Authors create a marketplace where they can sell their work.

Where can they find out more about you, your experience and your philosophy?

My website is WritersReaders.com, and here is my blog.

Any posts or articles which you think best illustrate you and the spirit of the project?

Here's my 5-part series on the community: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

If interested in joining Jerry's project, all you need to do is send an email saying "Jerry, I'd like to be included in the indie author test project." His email is: Jerry -at- WritersReaders.com.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sound Advice

An author? Check the Author Promotion Checklist from Ephemera Bound Publishing.

Louise Bohmer, author and editor, discusses Professionalism and Community ~ a must read for all who work on the Internet.

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Bloggers V. Journalists

UCSB student Nicki is conducting research regarding blogs and bloggers, with a focus on credibility issues. She's interested in determining if bloggers are deemed as credible as other news media outlets, if bloggers receive or should receive the same rights as journalists do, and other issues of authority.

You are invited to participate via her anonymous online survey.

If you are like The Whore and find you have more to say on the matter, let Nicki interview you. (I think I talked her ear off, poor thing lol) If you'd like to share your opinions and experiences with Nicki, email me and I'll connect you with her.

Out of respect for her research, I won't discuss all my thoughts here ~ but when her paper's completed in March, you know I'll explode with my comments here. Nicki's promised to share some of her results with us too, which ought to be very interesting.

So go take the survey and email me if you'd like to participate in an interview with Nicki. A little good karma goes a long way.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

News (You Should Be Able) To Use

For those considering tech toy upgrades: Ringtones will always be bigger than mobile smut.

For those in or considering entering the European market, Middle aged British women have the lowest sex drive in Europe - and the most headaches.

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Friday, February 2, 2007

About The Pink Ghetto

The Pink Ghetto by Lux Nightmare is getting lots of blog attentions ~ for damn obvious reasons. Here's one of my favorite quotes from that piece:

"Trying to build your life, your career, around a discussion of sex means accepting that you will always have a fringe identity. That no matter how academic, how smart, how clean you keep it, you will always be on the edges of polite society. You will always be in the Pink Ghetto, and you will never be able to escape it."

It's part of why I speak often about such issues as sex education and the problems with being a person (especially a female) who works in, writes about or cares about human sexuality. Just ask me, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Gwen Masters, or Chelsea Girl.

The fact that writing about sex is controversial in any way is another reason I have this blog: because there's little support and few warn those with interests of the realities (or smack them upside the head when they are idiots). I might as well take on the cause.

As for the immediate problem of you being able to read or access this information while at work, please read Chelsea Girl's sticking it to the man's censoring server.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Social Networking on MySpace, Part Two

Continuing from Part One...

How consistent are you with managing your MySpace account? I myself intended to make weekly blog updates, but I sometimes feel lucky if I get in for messages etc. Do you think being consistent if not very active is important in social networking?

Carrie: I have to admit to not being that consistent with updating the blog on MySpace, probably because it's not my main writing blog. That is here. I also have a few other writing blogs dotted around the place that also get very few postings published to. I no longer have a personal blog to write on due to too many nasty comments and reactions. I log in at least once a day to pick up blog subscription messages, friend requests and messages. I think it's extremely important to do that because I want to keep the account updated and fresh for promotional purposes.

Jolie: My MySpace page is updated once a week. It's very important to update at MySpace on a consistent basis.

Autumn: I login at least once a day. I blog - well, I try to blog twice a week but I'm happy if I've added something interesting once a week.

Is it important? Definitely. People won't come back to your blog or your space if you don't have anything interesting to read/view/listen to. And if people write you messages and you don't get back to them for a week at a time they think you don't care. Once again, it all goes back to people feeling that they have a relationship with you. And actually developing relationships with people - not just putting in an appearance once in awhile.

What do you use MySpace for? (Here are some ideas, feel free to add your own ~ and if more than one purpose, please guesstimate percentages.)

Marketing/selling to clients/customers.

Networking with other professionals in your field.

To establish connections with press, writers, publications you hope will help promote you.

The free blog service.

Ability to start a group/community devoted to yourself or your works.

Socializing/staying connected with friends & family.

Really, it's just for the free link(s) to your sites &/or projects; you put little thought into its larger purpose.

Autumn: As I've already mentioned, developing relationships with potential readers/clients is important so that's the biggest thing for me. Not just potential buyers, but the ones who like to read for free as well. They are just as important as the buyers. (I'd say 50% is for this purpose!)

Meeting other people in the industry is important as well. There is so much to learn for someone who is so relatively new, like myself. IBA is almost a year old but I started out knowing virtually nothing. A lot that I've learned has come from people I've met ... (About 20% for this purpose.)

The bulletins are a great way to make people aware of new things you have to offer. For instance, my Members Area just opened in January, so bulletins are good for making people aware. I put on a pre-sale special in a bulletin (as well as the blog) so that people here would have a chance to purchase memberships at a drastically reduced price. (10% for bulletins)

Carrie: I use MySpace for Networking with other professionals in my field. I've received a few review requests via MySpace and establishing connections with press, writers and publications. I don't expect anybody to promote me though I've had one or two posts written about me and about my work. I would say it was about 50/50 on the percentages. I don't use MySpace for forming close friendships offline or for keeping in touch with family.

Jolie: I use MySpace for promotion.

Do you have specific goals with MySpace? (Say, hitting a number of friends, targeting specific audiences, recruiting etc.) Or do you just participate and see what comes of it all?

Carrie: I tend to just participate and see what comes out of it all. I'm quite lazy in that respect but really, it's more to do with the lack of time more than anything else. If I'd used it that way when I first started out on the Internet it would have worked out better but I didn't know about it right at the start so I missed out on that opportunity.

Autumn: Sara had some very definite goals. One was to hit 1000 friends by Christmas and I was very impressed that she did that. Another was to visit and comment on every friends page, which she also did. I, myself, not so much. My main goal is to update a couple times a week at least.

Jolie: I'd like to hit a goal of 1,000 friends, but it's not planned. I don't send out friend request. They come to me!

When it comes down to it, MySpace is just another way of networking ~ only instead of a professional organization, it's a much bigger pool with more 'public' to reach. This is good in the sense that you can reach more people, but also each profile or member is a single piece of straw in an immense pile... How do you stand out? What do you do to be found?

Jolie: I have over 800 friends, but I try to keep in contact with about 100 of them. A lot of people have me on their top 24 because of the contact.

Carrie: To increase my exposure I link to my profile from my main writing website, post comments on other friend's profiles on MySpace and I make sure my profile is attractive to look at. Most of the friend's requests I've received are from authors who I've worked with and reviewed their books/websites who have then gone looking for me on MySpace.

If you have a website or blog independent of MySpace, is there any difference between marketing/promoting it as opposed to your MySpace page?

Jolie: I update my website but it doesn't have the people interaction like MySpace does.

Autumn: Blogging, bulletins, and comments. And of course, responding to messages!

Carrie: I do have a website and blog independent of MySpace and I consider these more important for promotional purposes. My main website has been around for 6 years at various domains and I've worked hard to get it where it is today. It still requires more work, though, from me to get it higher up in the search engines. My daily traffic is really low compared to my partner's website! I consider my main website as more important than MySpace as it looks and reads more professional. It holds so much more information than my MySpace profile. I don't like to overload my profile at MySpace because it can then look cluttered and amateurish. There are no ads or pop-ups on my site.

Do you feel you reach more professionals in your area (for ex. authors meeting other authors or publishers) or more consumers (continuing the example, authors meeting book buyers or book reviewers)?

Autumn: So far I would say more professionals.

Carrie: I feel I've reached more professionals via MySpace. Mind you, I can't tell if any of the hits to my book on Lulu.com has come from MySpace or elsewhere! Few people go from MySpace to Hentracks or Sexography, though.

Jolie: Actually, both!

I find that I've had more interaction with and concrete results with professionals at MySpace ~ for example, this whole interview or conversation happened there ;) But when it comes to readers or consumers, not so much. To be fair, it's not always possible to 'see' transactions that occur at other sites. (Hits to my sites, but sales not so much.) Can you definitively state that you have made sales because of MySpace, and if so, pls. describe. If not a direct sale, what other deals or connections have made MySpace worth the time?

Autumn: Definite sales, no. Page views, yes.

Jolie: I don't have a way to tell about the print anthologies, but I have sold ebooks through my MySpace contacts. I've also received book reviews from MySpace friends.

Carrie: I can't say for definite I've received any sales or downloads from MySpace. I've got no way of tracking the hits or download stats of my freebies so I just keep them up there any way! I have had many contacts with authors though which enable me to reach them when I have review offers taking place. This is a good way of networking and it's given me an idea of changing the way I request review submissions. Hopefully, I can increase the amount of requests even further by adding the ability to accept them on MySpace.

I have made linking partners though, which is another important part of increasing your presence on the web.

So, there's a lot of effort which goes into social networking. Overall, do you consider MySpace a worthwhile endeavor?

Autumn: Absolutely. The more effort you put into it, the more you reap the rewards!

Jolie: YES!

Carrie: I would say that it is, definitely. I have had more chance of getting to know people in the same field and genre as me and it has connected me to some excellent erotic magazines thereby increasing my chances of publication. If you don't mind the ads I would recommend it to anyone for networking and promotion.

The Participants:

Autumn Seave: Webmistress of Inky Blue Allusions which features erotic serials (with personal bi-weekly email option or membership option), short stories, and audioerotica. Autumn & company have officially been on MySpace for about a year ~ "But we only really got serious about it around 4 months ago."

Jolie du Pre: Author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance. She also runs GLBT Promo and Ebooks by Jolie at MySpace. Her website is www.joliedupre.com. Jolie's been on MySpace since 2004, but says, "I didn't become active until May of 2006."

Carrie White: An Erotic Writer & Book/Website Reviewer. She also writes sex toy buy guides for a well known sex toy shop on the Internet. Her websites are Hentracks and Sexography. Carrie's been on MySpace for about 3 or 4 years, if not longer.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Writing, Publishing & Editing Smut

I (finally) got around to publishing my thoughts at New Publisher Journal and this reminded me of an older post about the status of erotica. (I am not the only one thinking about that.)

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Social Networking on MySpace, Part One

You've likely all heard the hype about MySpace and other social networking sites. Praised as a huge boon for marketing, sites like MySpace sure do have potential and there's no shortage of articles on using social networking sites. Even Rachel Kramer Bussel's chimed in on the subject.

Once upon a time, any professional who didn't have their own URL was considered less than credible. Now enter MySpace and other social sites and suddenly you're told you're missing out if you don't register and begin blogging, posting bulletins and be-friending as fast as you can. If your own domain name and official website were necessary to branding, it now seems that you must be a part of another site in order to be cool ~ or at least accessible to the cool.

A presence at MySpace, FaceBook, Oomph or the like is not only a 'must do' to reach customers, but the number of contacts or friends has even been used like magazine circulation numbers to add to sales dollars. If public comments become testimonials about you & your products become the pull, the number of friends you have becomes business leverage.

Purported to be an easy tool for the marketer who believes in buzz Vs. ad dollars, is social networking the real thing?

I decided to have a few of my MySpace friends chime in with me on the subject. Meet the participants:

Autumn Seave: Webmistress of Inky Blue Allusions which features erotic serials (with personal bi-weekly email option or membership option), short stories, and audioerotica. Autumn & company have officially been on MySpace for about a year ~ "But we only really got serious about it around 4 months ago."

Jolie du Pre: Author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance. She also runs GLBT Promo and Ebooks by Jolie at MySpace. Her website is www.joliedupre.com. Jolie's been on MySpace since 2004, but says, "I didn't become active until May of 2006."

Carrie White: An Erotic Writer & Book/Website Reviewer. She also writes sex toy buy guides for a well known sex toy shop on the Internet. Her websites are Hentracks and Sexography. Carrie's been on MySpace for about 3 or 4 years, if not longer.

I began using MySpace, and any and all social networking sites that I belong to, for the same reasons: I got tired of all my associates and friends telling me to join ~ and that things would be so much easier if I would message them there. I eventually gave in. What brought you to MySpace? Was it a friend, or other social reason, or was it for business reasons?

Autumn: One of my writers suggested it as a means of reaching potential readers. But now that I'm here it is for business but also very social. I love talking to people and getting to know what makes them tick!

I know that part of building a business is having a presence on the Internet and MySpace is one of the biggest places to build a presence.

Jolie: Business reasons - promotion. I started to take MySpace seriously because other authors took it seriously.

Carrie: I don't think I was ever referred to MySpace. I probably came across another author's profile and thought, "Seems like a good idea."

I initially joined for fun I think but then, saw how it could be used for promotion so I started to really push it out. I found places that provided free MySpace layouts and codes and customized my profile to make it look more attractive.

What had you heard about MySpace? Any success stories?

Carrie: Since I joined, I've read numerous articles about the promotional opportunities on the site, and have decided to stick with my account. I've met a number of good writers on here and have been put in touch with many more. So, all in all, I think it’s a good way of networking and finding friends who write in the same genre as you. Another friend of mine, P.G Forte also mentioned how much better her sales of a particular book was after posting details about it upon her profile. So, I've added details of my books to my profile and am just waiting to see how well my sales do!

Autumn: I'd heard good things from others who are musicians and in other forms of the arts and when I realized that the adult industry has it's own presence here I knew I couldn't ignore it.

Is this your first try with a site like MySpace, or have you previously tried other sites like Friendster, Tribe, Ryze etc?

Jolie: This is my first try with a site like MySpace.

Autumn: This is the first time I've been serious. I dabbled in msnspaces (under a different name and for more personal type stuff) and hi5 (I can't even remember my name there!) but only playing around. And I guess I just didn't stay around long enough to really get to know anyone. Oh, and I did spend some time at CherryTap, which is fun, but I prefer MySpace.

Carrie: MySpace was the first site of this kind for me but since then I've joined Xpeeps.com which is an adult version and other community style blogs and groups, though MySpace is the one I'm most active on. I get some pervy contacts from Xpeeps but you kind of expect that to some degree. If you visit, I have to warn you, it's a bit more raunchy on there which includes my profile picture ;)

I think it's really important to get your name out there within your chosen field so I now have profiles all over the place even if I don't update them all the time.

Between blogging, sending/replying to messages, befriending others etc, how many hours do you put into managing your MySpace account?

Autumn: For myself, I'd say a couple hours a week. But my Queen of Marketing and Promotions, Sara Winters (i.e. BlueSW) spent the most time building the profile, editing blogs, promoting, building a friends list, and doing bulletins. At the beginning I bet she spent at least 10 hours a week. She rocks!

Carrie: I put in maybe a couple of hours a week which gives me plenty of time to answer messages, approve or deny friend requests, post on the blog and read comments etc. It's enough time for me to do what I need and keep the profile updated.

Jolie: 1/2 hour a day for all three sites.

As women, how much of your time is spent not only with 'spam' messages, but the unwanted pervy approaches? (Hey, I gotta ask!)

Autumn: I get 3 or 4 spam messages a week and 1 or 2 pervs every week. That is what inspired my latest blog entry "We're People Too!" I mostly ignore them but if they are particularly nasty I send them a message to let them know it is not appropriate. They are usually apologetic and stop.

Carrie: I've been pretty lucky so far and have very few if any spam or pervy comments. My only complaint is despite setting my account not to accept friend requests from bands, some still do trickle through. I've also been notified of a suspect profile on MySpace via my Xpeeps account and have successfully managed to get it closed down. I'm trusting too much some would say and up until now I allowed free rein on my comments. That's all been changed now and my password and email login as been changed too, due to unsuccessful login attempts on my account.

Jolie: Very little of my time. I'm careful about who I approve on my friend spaces.

As you can see, working social network sites requires some dedication and devotion of time. In the next parts we'll get into using the site features & discuss what rewards there may be.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Help For Writers

Naughty Words blog is dedicated to authors of erotica and sexual non-fiction.

There you'll find calls for submissions, as well as writing tips, surveys, interviews, and promotional opportunities.

Here are a few of my favorite posts:

* Talking with Anthology Editors, Part Five

* AuthorIsland.com and AuthorScene.com

* Selenia's Cavern Quality Writing Services

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Have an Erotic Story Website or Blog? Want It Reviewed?

Authors who have websites and blogs with erotic stories, and would like to promote them, here's an announcement for you!

Carrie White, who runs Hentracks Reviews, has now opened up Sexography, and decided to expand her erotica reviewing to include websites.

Now along with her book reviews, she will be reviewing story or text only sites or sites that have stories within them.

When Carrie and I first talked, I told her how difficult it is for story sites to get attention let alone stand out in a 'world' which is so focused on image/movie sites. So her choice to include websites with her other erotica reviews is good news for us all.

One of the great things about Carrie is that she does allow for you to quote from and use reviews in your promotional efforts (as long as you properly credit/link to her) ~ Doing this also increases her traffic, which will increase the number of reads every one's own reviews will receive, which is good for all of us!

Another great thing about Carrie is that she's a professional. She communicates well during the review process, and will let you know when the review has been published. Those with pay sites will appreciate the fact that Carrie will not ask for you to renew the review pass a dozen times.

Anyone who wishes to take Carrie up on her services, should contact her at her website ~ and please, as a courtesy, tell her that Gracie sent you. Feel free to tell other erotica authors you know, but please ask that they drop my name too ~ it's the kind and respectful thing to do! (It's not that I make a dime off of this, it's just proper networking!)

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