Friday, April 27, 2012

The Heavy Weight of Failure

I had to gear myself up to write this. I have to say, I'm not in the greatest of moods. All month long I've been trying to block out my sales numbers. Last month was a good month and, of course, I thought this month would go up as usual. I especially thought so because this was the first month publishing my podcast. It turns out that my sales are down this month.

My ebook sales being down this month is hard enough, but what really makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under the sheets is the fact that my audio book sales are way down. In fact, yesterday was my first day when I didn't even receive one sale on my audio books. That's heart-breaking for me... especially since I started the podcast specifically to increase my audio book sales.

And it isn't like people aren't enjoying the podcast. So far I have gotten 4 five star reviews, and iTunes lists all of them as being the highest level on the popularity listing. That surprises me because I know how many listens I'm getting. I have gotten hundreds of listens and not thousands. Obviously its a relative scale, but still, it's a little heart-breaking that even with these hundreds of listeners I'm having a down sales month. I know that Easter and Tax day had a lot to do with it, but not everyone is down this month. With this increase in marketing, I feel like I should be one of them.

So this plus a few more things going on in my life is bringing me down right now. I decided not to kill myself on my production schedule this week and now I'm a full day behind schedule. Also, in spite of my latest release selling well, my other newest titles aren't selling well... except for the title that made me take a break to "find my soul". That is turning out to be my best selling book.  The English version is selling like crap, but the German version is outselling all of my other books. Amazing.

Anyway, today is the type of day that I wish I were one of my characters and I could just crawl into someone's arms and lie there for a few minutes. On top of that, a friend offered me a job doing a light re-edit on his movie. I want to do it and probably will, but I will fall even further behind on my production schedule. I should be glad that I can take a break for a fun job, but in the mood I'm in, it just weighs me down even more.

Really, this mood I'm in is because my sales are down. And it is such a clique in my writing circles, but I can't help but think that my wonderful ride is over. I used to release new books and they sold copy after copy. When that stopped I managed to get the same result when I released the audio book. Now that that seems to have gone, all I have are the German books and the book I released yesterday hasn't even gotten a sale yet... I was expecting this latest German release to be a good seller.  I'm feeling very defeated.

Tomorrow morning I have a podcast interview with a person who is probably the most successful erotica writer on iTunes. He was one of the people that inspired me to give this genre a try. But even though the questions are already written, I am feeling another failure coming on. I'm not sure how I can fail with the interview, but I feel like I'm emanating failure right now. And all of this failure is happening while I was supposed to be increasing my income so that I can afford my place without a roommate. I'm feeling very weighed down.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mortality is a Bitch but Undeniable

Mortality is a bitch but it's undeniable. I just watched the movie Cabin In The Woods. I recommend it. But it has put me in an interesting mood.

Today was a hard day at rugby. Now that I'm off of my latest age defy supplements, I definitely felt it. And as I sit here I have to admit to myself that I'm aging. Yes, the only guy on the field today that could have possibly been faster than I was is 23 years old. Sure the only other possible guy that I play with that could possibly be faster is about 26. But still, there's no denying it, I'm aging. Seriously, I would be surprised if I have 3 years left... and that's me being optimistic.

So with this reality staring me in the face everyday, I have to really start thinking about my legacy. I have the life-sized bronze statue of me. Certainly that will exist longer than all of us. I could also cross my fingers that my book Everybody Masturbates becomes a classic. But past that, what do I have? Unfortunately nothing.

From the age of 11 I thought that I was put on earth with a glorious purpose. I can remember sitting in my 6th grade class having a clear feeling that I had a well defined destiny. Then I remember sitting in my 8th grade class thinking that I had a well defined destiny. Then my 10th, 11th and 12th grade class. Then all during college and for the first 8 years afterwards. After that things got hazy, but I used to think that I was here for a reason.

Now as I sit here, I'm looking at about 2 solid years at most before my mind goes to hell. I have already lost a step. My mind could do some impressive things when I was a kid. Now that stuff is all gone. The only thing special about it now is the way it makes connections between ideas. All of its great processing power is gone. Even now, mentally I am a shadow of my former self. Physically, I'm clearly not as good looking as I used to be.

You know, people mock me about saying things like this, but they just don't get it. I can remember being trapped in the Bahamas after I graduated from college and I went through a couple of weeks stretch when literally, every single day that I left my house some stranger would comment on how good looking I was. Do you know what that's like? Do you know how that fucks up a person's mind?

I did not encourage that. I didn't want it. I almost tried to avoid it, but there it was unsolicited. It was ridiculous. I remember once I left my house just to get my hair cut and the older male barber mentioned my looks. I didn't see it. Looking back at the pictures at the time and still don't see it. And because I couldn't see it, I never wanted it. But after getting it for decades and then not getting it, it does something to you. It's like being forced to take a drug for years and then having to spend the remainder of your life in withdrawal. Simply put it screws with your head.

So now, here I am. I have lost what made my brain special; I have lost what made my looks special; I'm probably a year away from losing what made me special with sports. And that 11 year old is looking at me and his heart is breaking. "You were given so much. How could you have not fulfilled your destiny? How could you have wasted it all?" He keeps repeating to me.

You know, every time I do something that no one else in the world has done, it is because of that 11 year old. He is my motivator. He is the reason that I do so many 15 hour days. I don't want to disappoint him. He was such a sweet kid. He was just the nicest kid. In comparison to him, I am currently one evil son of a bitch. I would be absolutely ashamed to be introduced to that kid with him knowing that I am who he will become. That would break both of our hearts.

So since I have ruined that poor kid's life. Since I have taken all of the potential and goodness that that kid had and just fucked it all to hell, the least I could do is make one more concerted effort to fulfill that kid's destiny. I have 2 solid years left to do it. I need to get to it.

So, the last big thing that I will try to do before my time runs out is write that book that I have discussed before. It was the book I decided to write after watching the last Harry Potter movie. I have written 29 short stories in the last 6 months and I really feel that I have the style down. And currently my best selling erotica story is a story in 4 parts. Each story is self contained and sold separately but together they tell one over arching story.

This is how I will write the YA book. I am going to break the books down into four 12,000 to 20,000 word short stories. And I will break down the series into 5 books. That means that over the next 2 years I have to write 20 short stories. Considering that I have written 30 shorter short stories in 6 months, that seems very doable.

I plan on releasing the first one for free and then probably charge 2.99 for all of the rest. I expect to sell zero of most of them. I can also believe that I will sell none at all. It wouldn't be the first time. But I'm not looking at it as a money making venture. It is my attempt to explain the workings of the universe in a very easy to understand way. My book 'The First Day After Life' was something similar, but it is not easy to understand. If anyone ever had doubt that I was a genius, then they should read that book.

But my legacy will be being able to explain the purpose of life wrapped around an adventure and in a way that even a 10 year old girl can understand it. If I can do that, then I will have fulfilled my destiny. I will be able to let go and allow the universe to do with me what it will. Thanks to the ebook format the books will continue to exist long after I'm gone and, who knows, maybe some one at some point in time will discover it and appreciate it. Maybe not. But what I know for sure is that I would have done everything that I could do.

That's my plan. I have never stopped thinking about the book and my mind has been working on it while I practiced my skills writing about sex. So some time soon I will sit down and map out all 20 stories and soon after that, the writing will begin. In truth I can feel a weight lifting off of my chest knowing that I am about to begin the last thing that I will ever NEED to do. It's actually quite a relief. It isn't particularly easy being me. I look forward to ridding myself of one of my biggest burdens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I just wrote something that I've never written before

I just did something that I hadn't done in a while. I wrote a short story in one sitting. It was a 7,700 word story so it is actually one of my longer ones. It took me about 9 hours of fingers on the keyboard writing, and I did have to figure out a way around my mental fatigue half way through, but I did it. It seems that I'm not as much over the dizziness that I've been experiencing as I thought. And it's always been the case that if I am even a little sick I can't write. But motivated with the info that I need to publish 6 more stories to afford by place by myself, I kept on charging.

What made today even more monumental was that this was the first story that I've written since writing a really crappy story (which is doing really well in Germany) and knowing I had lost my soul. The soul searching was good for me. The result was a kind of story that I have never written before. Instead of story being about the aggressiveness of the sex, it was about the gentle exploration of the main character's sexuality. It was something I actually heard from the most successful writer that I have ever personally talk to.

Could it be the best thing I've ever written. Could be. The problem is though, when ever I say that, it ends up being one of my worst sellers. This story does have a concept and title which I'm sure will do well though. My first couple of titles were great successes. My next few, perhaps, represented me being too clever for my own good. They didn't do well.

This latest title though, is meat and potatoes. The concept is strong, and the writing is delicate. This is as mainstream as I have ever written. Will it sell big, I think so. And I'm willing to put my money behind it. I am going to pull out all of the things I've learned about making a book a top 100 book. We'll have to see how it works.

I still have to edit it and record (and edit) the audiobook. But I consider this as, 1 down and 5 more to go until financial freedom... and my office back. Yay!

Friday, April 13, 2012

This is my most romantic moment

I just finished watching Midnight in Paris and it was an enjoyable movie. It was about a man understanding that the present is a valuable place to be. The main character talks a lot about walking in the rain in Paris, and certainly it looks very beautiful. But watching it I realized that I know something that was even more beautiful.

I am from the Bahamas and although I don't live there I returned there a few years ago. I met this woman at a retreat and her long tanned limbs and mane of loosely curly hair allowed for a chemistry between us that I couldn't define. On her last day I invited her on a tour of the city. So spontaneously I rented a scooter and drove her around the most beautiful part of the island. While she gripped me tightly around my chest I pointed out the caves and all of the incredible homes. And as the rain started coming down we had to get back as soon as we could.

Dropping the scooters off, I ushered her out of the rain but she didn't leave. In her real life she described herself as being a timid flower, but here, in the rain in the Bahamas, she was someone else. And as the rain drenched us both, I looked at her watching the bulging curves of her face as she smiled back.

After a while we tucked away into an ocean side bar and talked as our legs touched underneath the bamboo bar top and there was nothing off limits in our conversation. The day turned to night and around mid-night we went looking for a dark cavernous restaurant where we tucked in and ate and drank until it was 2 in the morning.

Knowing that we had to leave we both walked the streets of the island. It was emptier and more quiet than I had ever seen it. And crossing the long well traveled bridge and through the lights of the flashy hotels' pool sides, we entered the moon lit darkness of the world's most seductive beach. We were silent as we both walked and our parting was filled with unspoken thoughts. In an email I would later learn what those unspoken thoughts were. She wanted desperately to make love with me that night. She described the lust that she felt for me as almost overwhelming and safely back in her real life she wanted me to know.

That was a moment that could rival any image or story that someone else could draw and it was my reality. That was my midnight in Paris except mine was real and thanks to the movie I can now see the moment for what it was. That was my life's most romantic moment. That was my gift that the great thinker that created us all presented to me with a wish that my life be more grand than the rest. That is my real life and as sad as I am that I didn't recognize it while it was happening, I am grateful that here, 5 years later, I have come to see this moment for what it was. I was certainly blessed, and I thank the darkness of this night that I have finally see it and my life for what it is; a beautiful story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here's what I need to find to regain my soul

Today begins week 2 of 'no writing' and I'm torn. On one hand I think the break is great. On the other hand I'm concerned about my financial future. In my experience, the writing train has to continue for my earnings to go up. Another author said it best when she said, "Publishing is like getting a raise every month." Write a little and it's just a few hundred more. Write a lot and you can double your earnings. But if you get lucky and hit the jackpot, it could mean an extra 10K a month. That makes it hard to ignore.

But this break was taken because my writing had gotten soulless. I still believe that. And it is amazing that although I worked 45 hours last week, I still found time to take a step back and look at myself. This break has been good. I can feel my soul slowly coming back. Certainly there are no quick fixes. Certainly I can't wait until I am a complete human being again before I restart writing. But if I can find my direction before I restart, maybe both my life and writing will become better.

I think what I'm actually going after in my search for my soul is an openness. As my blog posts will attest, I am in certain ways a very open person. But in other ways, I am like a locked box. I need to unlock that box. Today I figured out what I have to do to open that box. It would be an act that I have never taken before. I have been taught that making yourself vulnerable can only bring you pain. But some how I need to make myself vulnerable to others. And my characters need to do the same. That is what most people find hot. If I would like to write very successful erotica books, that is what my characters must do.

Another thing that I've been grappling with is what I should write next. I write in 3 different subgenres. One subgenre and series sells best on iTunes; another subgenre and series sells best in audio book; another subgenre and series sells best in German and another series sells best on Amazon. This makes it very hard to decide where I should focus my energy. A few months ago I decided to focus on what sells best for everyone else on Amazon because Amazon is everyone's biggest money maker, but those books have been my worst sellers on Amazon (and my best on iTunes).

So the question is, what do I write now that I'm pushing to gain a mainstream audience. Do I continue to chase the large audience now that I have the podcast, or do I write what my fan base likes? I continue to be torn.

I think that I will spend the rest of this week preparing 2 more episodes of my podcast. After that I will continue to do some thinking. I could record a couple of audio books, but something tells me that I should invest the time in continuing to work on myself.

Also, I didn't buy the scuba certification lessons as I said I would. I didn't because I was told by my current roommate that he would be moving out. He was a nice guy, but he has turned me off from ever having a roommate again. And now that I can afford to live alone I think that I will try it. Since I can only barely afford it right now, I'm thinking that I should wait until my sales increase a little before I pay for my lessons.

You know, I wish I could do something more dramatic like go for a little trip where I can leave my daily life behind. But I have so many self-imposed obligations that it will have to continue to be a dream. Oh well.

Coming back to vulnerability, I have to say that this whole vulnerability thing stumps me. I feel like I could do it, but it is like that first kiss, when do you do it? Finding the right moment to make your self vulnerable is such a hard thing to know. And searching for the appropriate time my entire life, I have never found it.

I know not to envy anyone else's vulnerability because most people have no control over it and become victim to it. But still, I envy it a little. It is the same way I envy the screwed up characters that I write about... actually vulnerability is probably the exact reason I some times envy my characters.

Hmmm... I have to think about that. I didn't realize that any of my characters had vulnerability until now. Oh wait, you know what? My characters are vulnerable because they are forced into exposing themselves. What I need to create are characters that are vulnerable in their curiousity. That's what people find hot. Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Brain is Starting to Fry!

First off, I would not make a good spy. In the last day I have twice published my pen name under my stage name. But that's Okay. I'm thinking about breaking down the wall that exists between the worlds anyway. The great thing about being self employed as a writer is that I don't have a boss that could fire me if the don't like something about me. The only people that I have to answer to are my readers. And it is my erotica readers that employ me so I have nothing to fear if I integrate my two worlds.

I think it will happen naturally though when the podcast airs. It's kind of hard to avoid it from happening the more my voice gets out there. And honestly, I would be comfortable with that. I will never print both names together, but I don't really care that much anymore if people know what I write.

On another topic, today was one of those draining days when by 2pm I was already asking myself, how other people do what I'm doing. It is always funny when I realize the answer. I asked myself how is it that other people are able to publish books while voicing their own audio books, while creating a personality test with a programmer in India while creating a podcast, and translating their books into foreign languages and creating audio books in those languages; and then I realize that there is no one else in the entire world doing that. What I am doing exceeds anything that any of the extremely successful romance authors are doing that it is ridiculous. Yet some how I keep thinking that I'm not doing enough.

I am literally doing 3 different things that no one else in the world is doing. Literally! Yet here I am saying that I'm not doing enough. What the hell man!

Come to think of it, I think I was supposed to be taking this week off, wasn't I? I knew that I couldn't because of the podcast, but I didn't suspect that I would actually be working. I'm not sure what I thought I would be doing, but I thought that because I wasn't writing, I would have all of this extra time to think about my life and grow as a person. Yeah right, my brain was fried after only 10 hours of work. That's how much I worked today; after only 10 hours, I was fried.

Today, me, the writer/voice over guy/sound producer/business owner, had to figure out a problem going on with the server 'A records' that my software programmer created to upload the mysql database onto my server. Damn mysql! By 9:30pm when I stopped working, my brain felt like it was melting. At one point I was on the phone with trouble shooting two different web hosting problems and once that was done I had to deal with 2 other problems having to do with 2 separate businesses that I own. And all of this was while I was Skyping with my programmer in India answering his questions. MY BRAIN WAS MELTING!

I guess what I should remember is that this too shall end. I will not continue to be this busy. Once this program is done I won't have to go through this again, and I will sell sooo many more books. But let me tell you, if I don't end up selling a ton more books, I will be so depressed. If this doesn't double my sales, in a shorter time period than usual, I will know that I really don't know what the hell I'm doing.

I can't imagine that it won't happen though. All of my author friends think that what I'm doing is an amazing idea and all of them keep saying how great it will turn out for me. All of them without exception. That's got to mean something, right?

I think what I'll do to help me better relax is pay for my scuba certification. How awesome will it be for me to go over to Catalina Island and go scuba diving? Doesn't that just sound like one of the coolest things ever? Aren't there seals and seaweed beds over there. And I'm from the Bahamas so maybe it's time that I got back into the ocean. Man, I can feel myself relax just thinking about it. Ok, it's a plan. This weekend I'm paying for my scuba certification lessons. Awesome!

Oh yeah, and I write books. Here they are.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm being forced to grow personally. Here's why.

It has been a while since I've posted here. The truth is that I have been blogging under my pen name about my erotica books and I consider this one my personal blog. Business before pleasure, of course.

But now I have a dilemma. I have realized that I have lost my soul. And it's not because of what I'm writing, it's because of my life. I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I like to keep my mind busy so that I don't have to think about my life. There are aspects of my life that I absolutely love, but I have to say that my lack of sexual connections is affecting me. And I don't mean, lack of sex. That could be better but it's fine. No, it's the intimacy thing. I need more intimacy in my life.

I think what has really kicked it over the edge for me is the fact that I write about intimacy all week. Thinking about intimacy is my job. Figuring out how to get people into intimate situations is what my fans (I love saying that) come to expect from me. And therefor my lack of having it is seriously affecting me. I have long started to envy the characters that I write about. I sometimes write about some screwed up individuals, but more often than not I find myself wishing that I were them.

So scooting ahead in the story, I wrote something last week and it was dark. It was kind of soulless. It was a bit angry. It was not hot. It wasn't even porn. It was something else entirely. I guess it was, as I said, soulless.

That happened because I am starting to lose the softer part of who I am. I guess I'm trying to protect myself by shutting that part of myself off. But when writing erotica/romance you can't do that. You absolutely can't disconnect with that aspect of yourself. So now, I have a serious problem.

After realizing that, I declared that I will stop writing until I reconnect with myself. That's good. This weekend I took some very strong steps in that direction. It was even a personally phenomenal weekend. But where do I go from here? I do have to do some work this week. I absolutely have to publish my podcast. But how much do I do past that? My audio books are selling very well. Do I take this time to record 2 of the books that I would consider a risk instead of a sure thing? That's not writing, but it will again take away my time to think and feel stuff, and having time to think and feel stuff is what made this weekend so powerful.

So I'm torn, I tell ya. This is exactly how I've been my entire life. I never took vacations because to me vacations were the time to do the work that I couldn't do while working. Something tells me that it would be better for my mental health if I didn't work, but I took a look at my fellow writers' sales numbers. Some of the writers that started at the same time as I did are now making more than twice what I am.

I know that the reason for it is because I only wrote 1 new book in January and 1 new book in February. During those months I was doing my translation experiments and audio book experiments. Granted, I'm now making a good profit because of both, but probably not as much as if I continued at the same writing pace that I was at in December. And now if I choose not to do any writing until "I find myself", I will fall even further behind. I was once the fastest one in my group to a $1000 in earnings. Now I'm amongst the slowest to $5K. I'm very competitive and that does not feel good to me.

What I keep telling myself though is that eventually the German market will grow and I would have been there on the ground floor making me one of the most successful authors there. And I also say to myself that audio books is also an emerging market and I would have been on the ground floor for that rise as well. (Those that were on the ground floor with Kindle ebooks in the US are now making a mint.) I also say to myself, now that I have the audio books and German books, the result of my podcast will be amplified. This is what I keep telling myself so that I don't feel back about slacking. But I'm not positive that I can continue to tell myself that if I just stop doing all work.

Like I said, I'm torn.

Oh, and remember my books. Check them out here.