For a few years, I’ve conducted mini-experiments, and ‘surveys’ if you like. Nothing extensive which would include other authors or their work, simply a record of how my output is doing. Among my tinkering, I’ve changed formatting, book covers, and tried genre to see if I was capable of writing whatever it might be.
I’ve had positive feedback on the latest poetry covers, and the erotica covers—in particular how I’ve sub-branded them in colour for an anthology, novella, or novel.
I started my creative writing with poetry, moved on to short stories, and then novels. Since mid-2014 I’ve dedicated some of my writing time to erotica. I got underway with a novel and a single collection of erotic short stories, so I never expected much success—the market is flooded with 25-page, and 40-page ‘books’. I’ve seen book ‘bundles’ which in their entirety amount to about 100 pages.
Why am I stressing the erotica output when I removed it from this blog over a year ago?
Using the six-month period from September 2018—February 2019, I started my latest check on how things are shaping up for my books. When I include KENP (the page reads recorded on Amazon), and the sales, I’ve found that the popularity of my genres in descending order is:
Erotica, Military, Thriller, Romance, Short Story Anthologies, and finally Poetry Anthologies.
When I’ve dug a little deeper I’ve found that the KENP brings me in three times as much money as outright sales of any of my work. KENP related to my erotica titles brings in more than half of all the money I earn on Amazon.
This tells me that although erotica receives the fewest public reviews overall, it earns the most money, and it’s from people who don’t want to buy books—they want to borrow them. They don’t want anybody to know … so they borrow, read, and get rid.
Having said all of the above, my next erotica title is Woman to Woman, a prequel to Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica—my most popular book in the genre. When the next erotica title has been published, I’ll be giving the sex angle a rest and concentrating on my mainstream writing.
Why do I intend to stop erotica when I have successful titles?
I’m not in the writing game for the money—if I was, I’d set higher prices. 🙂
I do have another experiment underway but to get accurate results I’ll need another couple of months. I will report my findings later, whether good or bad.
And there you have it—if you are using Kindle Unlimited and enjoying my erotica (which like all of my books is on KU), you’re in good company.
Don’t be bashful … leave a review.
Until next time, thank you for dropping by.
P.S. If you haven’t been over for a look at my other blog:
Ten Days in Panama was my second novel, and having first been marketed as a thriller, I amended the description to romance. The first publication of this title was in December 2013 and it’s had two makeovers since then in terms of the manuscript.
As I told my son when he left home to live abroad, ‘if we’re honest with ourselves, about every five years we think we know it all’.
In my humble opinion, the advice I gave that young man is never more accurate than with writers. We may write, revise, edit, rewrite, and so on, but if we go back to a piece of work we were proud of five years earlier, we’ll find things we want to amend. I’ve been plying my craft (and learning) since 2007, and it’s due to my targeting of a higher standard that I’ve delayed paperback editions until recently.
In Ten Days in Panama (paperback and digital), I’ve reduced the sexual content to a softer tone. If there are any readers out there who like my style and crave explicit sex scenes, check out Tom Benson – Erotica.
– The cover of the book is now brighter and I’ve reduced the strapline, and I believe in this case brevity works.
– For me, nothing has been more important or more of a challenge than tightening the manuscript to improve the reading experience. An example would be the removal of most dialogue tags, to be replaced by character activity.
It was a labour of love to produce this story the first time around, and I spent many months creating characters, situations and a story which would live on in the memory. I’m pleased to say that none of the original aspects of the tale has changed in the process.
To those who strive to maintain an updated and informative author website, you will appreciate the joy of adding a ‘paperback’ button to the page for a title. Now I have two of those buttons on display, and in the coming months, I’ll be working hard to add them to my other novels.
Thank you to all who pass by and take the time to leave their thoughts.
*Remember, if you don’t want to buy a paperback and you don’t own a Kindle, the Kindle App UK is free and it can be downloaded to a PC/Laptop.
A special place exists in my heart for this story for many reasons, but appropriately, it means a lot because it was my first attempt at romance.
I’ve spent a month working on the manuscript to convert it to a paperback. Fortunately, now that I’m retired, a month in writing terms doesn’t mean every odd hour I can squeeze in—it means an average eight-hour writing day; every day.
Why so long for a simple task?
Any author who has performed such a task will know the change from digital format to paper would normally be a case of rearranging the front and back matter. This story had already been subject to two makeovers since the original version in December2013, but it needed a total overhaul.
The new version will have the same cover but with a revised strapline.
As in all aspects of life I felt I had evolved sufficiently as a writer to appreciate where I had got it right, and crucially—where I’d continued to get it wrong.
What’s different in the new edition?
My first pass was to print the manuscript and perform a brutal red-pen edit on hard copy.
Judging from many comments on Facebook and recent reviews, my style has changed, or as I like to think; improved.
a) I removed most of the dialogue tags and replaced them with character activity.
b) I amended the sexual scenes from what was bordering on ‘erotica’, and reduced it to ‘steamy romance’. For the most part, it is now closer to ‘romance’.
Suffice to say it’s been quite a journey. The characters continue to enjoy the story, but they’re subtle in what they tell the reader about their private moments together.
Okay, so why did I ‘reduce’ the level of sexual matter?
There were a number of reasons, but mainly, it didn’t belong. The story is a romance and not intended to perform the same role as strong erotica. As with a couple of my books I’ve been fortunate in hearing from readers privately, and more than one was concerned by explicit sex.
I enjoy writing in a wide variety of genre and just as I like to have guns, explosives and fights, I also like to write about tenderness, relationships and let’s face it—sex.
My Tom Benson – Erotica site has now been up and running for a year, so if you’d like to see how I indulge my literary desire in that direction; take a look. The catalogue is growing steadily and the next erotic novel will be released in May 2018.
On the subject of releasing things, Ten Days in Panama (revised April 2018) is now available in eBook, and the paperback will be available within the month.
I’ve remained true to the original story with regard to character development and the plot.
It would be wrong not to say a public thank you to fellow author and distant friend, Carmen Lopez (author of Alone: and other short stories). We became acquainted through reviewing each other’s poetry on an international poetry site. I moved on into the world of short stories and novel writing, and Carmen performed the duties of being my first beta reader.
The inspiration for Ten Days in Panama evolved from learning about Carmen’s profession and where she lived. Indeed, the first cover for the book was designed by Carmen’s partner, Bryce.
For anybody who is now so excited that they can’t wait for the paperback, here are links to the digital version of Ten Days in Panama:
There is no excuse for not reading certain books and Amsterdam Calling is now included in that ‘certain’ category. It matters not if you use a smartphone, eReader, computer screen or prefer to handle a physical book — the options are all there. If you have a Kinde eReader you can even read the book for free on Kindle Unlimited.
The seed was sown by my distant friend and fellow author, Carmen Lopez. She suggested my knowledge of Amsterdam and its many attractions would lend itself to a good story. In the latter part of 2012, the first notes were made, hundreds of photographs perused and a simple plot devised. A few weeks later I had the makings of a thriller, but as an author will tell you, strong characters have a way of messing with your head; and your story idea.
By the spring of 2013, my tale was a romance with thriller undertones, so thanks for that, Dan and Crystal, (the main characters).
The final version took a year of rewrites, double-checking of facts, emails to businesses and reaching up to pull out hair that was no longer there. Amsterdam Callingwas no longer one of several optional title ideas and a hard-fought manuscript. By the summer of 2014, it was an eBook.
This year, having revised all of my books at least twice I was prepared to do so again, starting with Amsterdam Calling. After all, the paperback version was going to be more expensive and I wanted them to look professional in every respect. My aim was to deal with formatting so I purchased the Vellum program. I asked Aimee Coveney a professional cover designer to deal with the solution for the exterior of the paperback. I gave myself a target of four weeks for completion, and that was how long it took.
It was halfway through my final year at school, in May of 1966, the Beatles released what was to become one of my favourite tracks – Paperback Writer. I recall there was a big football tournament on TV at the time, but it took second place to my loves of music and reading. It would take a little over fifty years before I fulfilled my dream and published a paperback.
My creative writing commenced in earnest in 2007, so I spent ten years working at my craft and only publishing eBooks. For the past two years I’ve suggested I’d get into paperback versions of my books, but each time I’ve started work on the project it’s been postponed to write more stories.
To see this story in paperback is a thrill, and sales are being made which is heartwarming, but unlike many authors, I have something else which will give me a buzz. In the summer I’ll be heading to Amsterdam, so I’ll be taking a few copies of the book; gifts for people who gave me permission to use their enterprises in the story.
I’ll leave you with useful links in case you’re one of those yet to find a comfortable way to read this story:
You’ll notice in the graphic of the paperbacks, I finally have the excuse to make bookmarks. They’re double-sided and laminated, which means anybody who uses one won’t forget what I write and where to find my books.
As always, thank you for reading my post, and those of you who do; my books.
Apart from the location, there is no connection between ‘the games’ in the story and the games usually associated with the Scottish Highlands.
It is my first novella, and if the idea appeals to enough readers there will be a series. My plan at the present time is to continue to at least five stories. Each book will introduce new characters, but cameo roles will be played by characters featured in other stories from the series.
Central to the idea is the Highland Haven Hotel which is in a remote location, not surprisingly – in the Scottish Highlands.
Is it wham, bam, thank you, ma’am?
No, it isn’t, because although the predominant activity is sexual, the characters will have a background, a voice, and as might be expected, particular preferences ….
Each book will have a cohesive story to carry the journey of the main character and at least one support character.
These books are not among the longest, or most complicated I’ve written, however, the most ambitious aspect will be for me to inter-relate the characters of the individual tales, and the dates.
I accept the erotica genre does not appeal to everybody, but in my reading experience so far, I’ve found a lot of badly written work in this category. It was after reading a famous, modern story I was inspired to write the genre myself. The ‘Shades’ book, in my opinion, is neither believable nor properly researched. I applaud the author for making a fortune – selling rubbish.
How does my version of erotica compare?
It’s not for me to say, however, I have more than one title out there now, and they carry positive reviews. Enough said.
I am always keen to learn about a fellow author’s route, from those tentative steps of composing a first piece of work, to first publication and beyond. Irrespective of age, or experience, the early days are the most difficult, as they are with most ventures.
It’s good for a writer’s morale to take stock occasionally, but publicly like this. It’s also self-marketing, but we can’t hide our light under a bushel, because therein lies obscurity.
My story may not be awe-inspiring, but I’ve reached another stage with my latest release.
Now is a good time for me to take a look back.
In 1992, following a military career of 23 years, I next took up retail management, which I did for 20 years. In the mid-90’s I started to write my military memoirs. It took over two years and the writing was abysmal. I abandoned the memoirs, and over the next few years I wrote short stories for my own amusement, not knowing anything of the required discipline.
In 2007 I wrote a rhyme whilst on a coffee break. A colleague told me I should join an online poetry site. I did and I wrote 700+ poems in three years, but felt the need to do something more.
I read short stories and books on how to write them, whilst I practised. I took out a subscription to a national writing magazine. In 2010 I won a competition and had my story included in an anthology. Poetry was left behind, as I spent every available minute producing ideas to create short stories.
I joined a website and a local writing group and learned much from having my work critiqued. I’d long had a yearning to write a novel, but felt it was beyond me. My first novel was inspired by a fellow poet on the other side of the world. We’d reviewed each other’s poetry and kept in touch. I’m delighted to say that our friendship has remained firm and we continue to support each other.
In December 2012 I published ‘Ten Days in Panama’, a romance-based thriller. I knew it wasn’t great, but I had introduced aspects of the thriller, and I knew I had to write something more exciting. It was a steep learning curve, just as it had been with short stories. I used the manuscript ‘rest’ periods as a time to continue writing short stories.
When I read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I was disappointed in the content. I got the impression that the author had a good idea, but minimal knowledge of her subject. I am amazed at the success of that series.
I had experimented with writing erotic stories, but they’d never been seen. I thought back over my life experiences and decided I had the knowledge and imagination to adapt them and create a variety of scenarios. In June 2014 I published my second short story anthology ‘Coming Around and other erotic stories’.
My work on thrillers continued. In July 2014 I published ‘Amsterdam Calling’, a psychological thriller. Since moving on from poetry, my practice had been to work on more than one project simultaneously, so my next book was at an advanced stage.
I published ‘A Taste of Honey’ in December 2014. It was another vigilante story, but this time about a rogue female detective – in the US.
From late 2014 into early2015I had a handful of private messages asking if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel. These were not random queries, but from folk who had read my erotic anthology. Just as I had with my poetry a few years before, I sensed a challenge, but once again, a challenge I relished.
One of the greatest things we can all do as indie authors is to support our peers. Try to read other indie authors, and provide reviews. Make an effort to read widely in genre – it really does pay dividends.
Another good idea is to do as I’ve done here, and produce an occasional update on progress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book so far, let people know you are out there.
As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Feedback is always welcome.
In the wake of having recently reviewed the writing of others, and formatting for another writer, I thought it was time for a little self-indulgence.
My latest novel, Amsterdam Calling, was born from a simple idea. Knowing that I had visited Amsterdam several times, I was asked by a friend to describe the city and some of its many attractions.
I developed the plot from there.
In a similar style to some of my other work, I used two main characters to create an interactive partnership from early on in the tale.
Dan is an investigative journalist from the UK, who, for reasons that rapidly become apparent, feels the need to, ‘lie low’ for a while.
Crystal is a fashion designer from the USA, but her heritage lies in the Netherlands. She flies from Chicago to New York to attend the reading of her father’s will, and is handed two letters by the family lawyer. Crystal decides to visit Europe for the first time, to find her roots; in Amsterdam.
As Crystal starts to uncover her family’s history, she realises that her distant relatives were heavily involved in the Dutch Resistance movement during the German occupation in WWII. A neo-Nazi extremist group takes a keen interest in the American, and they stalk her.
While touring the city with his new acquaintance, Dan discovers that as a result of his recent revelations in a Sunday newspaper, somebody has been tasked with bringing him to account, and not in a good way.
As the story develops, the reader is taken on a tour of many places of interest, in and around Amsterdam, including some of the finest museums in the world.
I delayed publication of the book for over a month, whilst I awaited permission from certain establishments to use their copyrighted names. I think it was worth the wait, and now as sales get underway, I await my first reviews.
The jacket of a paperback book is the outer covering, and on a hardback; it is the loose cover around the actual book.
An eBook does not by the nature of its publication have a physical jacket, but it must have the pertinent information found on traditional books. This is known as the ‘blurb’, or jacket blurb. It is that aspect of the jacket that I’ll look at today.
The blurb on the jacket is a follow up to the title and front cover. Just as those two items are important in attracting a reader’s attention, so too is the jacket blurb. On a physical book it will be on the back, but for an eBook, it appears on the screen, usually slightly further down than the cover graphic.
What should be included on the jacket information?
On physical books, on the front, we will have a title, perhaps a sub-title, author’s name, and a graphic of some description. On the spine we would expect to see; title, author’s name, publisher, and perhaps a miniaturised graphic. On the back cover we would find the jacket blurb, a price and a barcode. On occasion the graphic may be continued around the entire jacket, including the spine.
How much information will we find within the jacket blurb?
This depends on a variety of things. Publishers will have guidelines. The story will have one or more key characters and a plot to describe. The key is to give enough to interest a reader, but not tell them the entire story in brief. I aim for between 100 – 150 words. That may not sound like much, but any more than 150 words feels long when it’s being perused.
Rather than include my own jacket blurbs here, I will provide links, and then you my dear readers may, if you wish; check them out. My romance,“Ten Days in Panama” contains 158 words of jacket blurb. My thriller, ‘Beyond The Law’, contains 97 words of jacket blurb.
I’m about to head out on my blog patrol, but before I go, I’d like to thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on … ‘K’
In keeping with the advice given by many successful writers, I have become a firm believer in leaving a piece of writing to one side. Stephen King is one such writer who suggests this idea in his book‘On Writing’.
The idea, short story, chapter or entire first draft can be left in a drawer, tray or on file on a computer, but the important thing is that it is left alone. You the writer, will come back to the piece at some stage down the line and see it differently. It may be days, weeks or even months, but having already experimented with this theory – I know it works for me.
I have now reached a point where a short story is not released for public consumption until I have written at least three drafts – spread out with a week between each. Does that sound like a chore? Perhaps it is, but what if you manage to have at least three or more ideas on the go at any one time, as I constantly seem to do? That is where I believe it works.
Apart from short stories, I have my thriller ‘Hawk – A Manhunter’ patiently waiting for my return. I have reached the end of a second draft with it and haven’t revisited the manuscript for weeks now. I have taken the precaution of writing passages in a notebook when ideas come to mind so I have fresh new scenes to include in the next draft.
My new venture is ‘Discovering Amsterdam’ which was born from a suggestion by my very good friend and fellow writer Carmen. Yes, the same person who is acknowledged in the cover of my first novel, ‘10 Days in Panama’.
‘Discovering Amsterdam’ will be a romantic novel which looks at the relationship between Dan, a British writer/journalist and Crystal, an American Fashion Designer. The plot will see them meet in Amsterdam, having been in touch by email for over a year. Crystal is eager to trace her European ancestry and Dan is her sidekick in the quest.
During the project they will visit many of the wonderful museums found in Amsterdam and through their eyes so will the reader. Well, that’s the theory anyway. I have a basic knowledge of Amsterdam and it’s main museums but I will be double-checking any factual information with more than one source – plus another visit.
Thank you for reading – and a special thank you to anyone who managed to follow both Part 1 and Part 2 of this session.