Posts Tagged ‘marketing’


(more…)

Advertisements

Tara Lain was named Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and her Genetic Attraction Series was runner-up for Best Series of 2011. Additionally, her novel Genetic Attraction was nominated for a CAPA (Cupid and Psyche Award ~ given by the Romance Studio) as best contemporary romance, and she was nominated for a CAPA as favorite author of 2011. Her novel Golden Dancer won The Romance Reviews Best Book of 2011 in the LGBT Ménage category.

What prompted me to ask Tara Lain for an interview was my intrigue and respect for the subject matter of her novels, which is very often (but not always) gay erotica/romance. My interest was piqued a few years ago, when I had an account on Goodreads.com. Browsing through the readers’ reviews, I couldn’t help noticing a major trend: women who love books written by women about men who love men. The inescapable, mass popularity of this genre surprised me as much as it intrigued me… and naturally, I had no choice but to check it out. The first book I ever read of this kind was a book by Tara Lain.

I think Tara Lain is not only a great author but I also think she is a brave person. It takes courage to write about such socially sensitive topics… and it takes grace to do it well. I think Tara has what it takes to keep doing what she’s been doing for a very long time to come. She was as enthusiastic to be a part of my author interviews as I was to have her, and I’m grateful to her for taking the time to answer some of my questions.

Q: You originally began writing non-fiction. What kind of non-fiction did you write?

A: I still write non-fiction every day. I own an ad/PR agency and write magazine articles, blogs, websites, white papers, email blasts and much more for my clients in technology and medical markets.

Q: In terms of process, what are some of the main differences between writing fiction and writing non-fiction?

A: There are surprising similarities. Some of my employees say my fiction writing has made me a better and faster non-fiction writer. In non-fiction, it’s all about the thesis. What is the article or paper going to prove or show? In fiction it’s about what is the hero’s problem? What stands in the way of him achieving his dreams? (I say hero because I write mostly M/M, but it’s also true for heroines) The big difference, of course, is dialogue. It’s a very different method of expression from prose. I adore dialogue and love writing it. And, I don’t get to write sex scenes when I’m writing for Waste Water Digest!  LOL

Q: Of your own characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Oh, I can’t play favorites. They’re all my kids. I do have a special affection for the yummy Roan Black in The Scientist and the Supermodel and Genetic Attraction. He was my first love! He comes back in my new book, Genetic Celebrity, being released on July 24th. I also adore my feisty little Rodney Mansfield in Fire Balls. He is such a mass of contradictions — a real alpha hero in a five foot eight inch body with pink hair.

Q: Erotic fiction is very hot right now. What do you attribute that to?

A: I think erotic fiction is always hot. It’s just that digital publishing now provides a much wider selection to appeal to people’s individual tastes. The books are inexpensive, high quality and easy to acquire. What’s not to like?

Q: What originally got you interested in writing male/male (M/M) erotic romance?

A: I had decided to write an erotic romance — a M/F, older woman/younger man story. Then I ordered a book from an author I had been enjoying. All the books I had read of hers up to that point were M/F, so I simply ordered this book called Heaven without much investigation. The book was M/M and I was surprised. I started reading, kind of looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching, and immediately fell in love with the dynamic of M/M romance. The unintentional mentor was my friend Jet Mykles. I added another man to my M/F story and immediately became both a M/M writer and a ménage writer neither of which I had ever intended. I have been reading and writing M/M romance ever since.

Q: Do you prefer to write male/male erotica/romance, or male/female, and why?

A: I prefer writing M/M (or M/M/F) romance for many reasons. Two men together have no assigned societal gender roles. They both have the same physical capabilities and limitations so the writer can mix them up in lots of fun new ways. Like in my LGBT [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender] romance, Fire Balls, my hero is a flamboyant artist who is only 5’8” tall but he is a black belt in karate and a top in bed. His lover is a big, hunky firefighter who by nature is more submissive although he’s very heroic at work. The roles are fluid. I love that. As a woman, I enjoy crawling inside the skin and emotional framework of my men and showing that men have deep feelings. I write few traditional alpha males who are silent and stoic. My guys cry as much if not more than my heroines. Also, gay men bear such a burden of discrimination that it adds a complex dimension to even a simple story. Plus, I love giving them a happy ever after!

Q: How do people respond to you when you tell them you write gay erotica/romance?

A: My husband loves it and tells everyone. So does the rest of my family and most of my friends. One or two are disapproving and prefer to ignore that whole side of my life. One of my friends who is a gay man was pretty amazed when I told him but he loves my books and tells all his friends. They keep saying, “But she’s a straight woman, right?” That makes me smile a lot!

Q: It has long been more socially acceptable for two women to have a sexual/romantic relationship than two men. Why do you think people are suddenly so interested in male/male relationships? What do you think has changed that has made male/male relationships so much more widely accepted, especially in literature?

A: I like to think that we writers of M/M romance have had something to do with it. Let’s face it, women develop the standards and mores of a society. Women love romance and they love men. Tons of women have found they love reading about two men together and suddenly the idea isn’t icky any more–it’s HOT! Those women raise children. Certainly a woman who reads M/M romance on her Kindle is going to make more of an effort to understand when her son says, “Mom, I’m gay.” On a grander scale, the world has grappled with its discrimination on many fronts. It’s time we dealt with this one.

Q: What inspires you more than anything?

A: The first two words that came to mind are justice and authenticity. For astrology buffs, I have six planets in Libra. I have an over-developed sense of justice and hate to see anyone or anything treated unfairly. And all of my books end up being about people living an authentic life –finding the way that is right for them and being willing to sacrifice to have that life. I never intend for the books to have that theme. It just happens.

Q: Of your own novels, which is your favorite and why?

A: Oh my. I can’t choose. I love Genetic Attraction because it was my first novel (and still one of my best). I really like Golden Dancer. I had never written romantic suspense before and it has three super complex heroes (it’s a M/M/M ménage). Spell Cat is my first paranormal M/M romance and I love my cat, Aloysius. Fire Balls was one of those books that just wrote itself and has been my all-time bestseller so far. And Sinders and Ash is such a total fairy tale romance it’s hard not to love it. Oh dear, I love my enemies to lovers in Beach Balls. I love them all. I can’t choose.

Q: Who do you base your characters off of?

A: I make them up. No specific inspirations (except for the male fashion model in my upcoming book, Genetic Celebrity, who is based physically somewhat on Andrej Pejic). My characters walk into my head and tell me who they are.

Q: What are some of the strongest marketing strategies you’ve found for your novels?

A: I am what is affectionately referred to as a promo whore! Since my day job is in PR all my instincts point in that direction. I know from professional experience that promotion is a cumulative effect. People often say “I’ve seen your book so many places. I think I have to get it.” I do everything– Facebook, Twitter, two blogs plus a group blog, blog tours, blog hops, online chats and parties. I just consider promotion a part of my job as an author.

Q: Do you prefer hardcopy, or e-books?

A: E-books. Though I have hundreds of paper books in my house, I took to the ereader like the proverbial duck to water. I love the idea of carrying hundreds of books in a tiny package. I enjoy the process of reading digitally.

Q: What does your writing space look like?

A: I write in the same place I work. I am lucky enough to get to work from home, so I have a nice wrap around desk with two big screens and a powerful computer.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: I love to walk and I adore movies. I also do some mixed media collage which I don’t have much time for now but I pull out occasionally. And, of course, I love to read.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m writing the next book in the Aloysius Tales, my paranormal series. The first book was Spell Cat and this will be book two. It’s about a young witch who has the gift of prophetic painting. When this book is complete, I’ll start another story in my contemporary fantasy series to follow Sinders and Ash.

Q: In your opinion, what is the absolute best part of writing?

A: I love walking into new worlds and meeting new people!  : )

 

For more information, or to contact Tara, go to:

 

E-mail:                   tara@taralain.com

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Author blog:       http://taralain.blogspot.com

Book blog:           http://beautifulboysbooks.blogspot.com

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

Facebook:           http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Lain/100001514105686

FB Page:         http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Lain/205042046209804

Amazon:          http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Lain/e/B004U1W5QC/

B&N               http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Tara-Lain?keyword=Tara+Lain&store=book

ARe     http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Tara+Lain


    

     We all choose different paths in our approach to the business of being published according to what it is we want, and these days, there are more options than traditional publishing, in which the writer seeks a publishing house to represent his or her work, usually at the cost of several years of rejection, and/or having one’s self-esteem beaten down and battered to a bloody pulp by a series of professionals who may or may not know what they’re talking about.  Now, we live in an age of indie art where writers can publish their own books.  There is conventional self-publishing in which the author fronts the money to have his or her book put into print, and is solely responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of the book.  Also, we now have print-on-demand books in which a publisher prints whatever amount of books the audience requires and the author puts no money upfront as the cost is taken from the sales of his or her book.  There are branches of each of these methods of self-publishing (some more appealing than others) extensive enough that a writer these days has far more options than he or she once did, and personally, I think that’s pretty wonderful.   However, despite the fact that I am currently standing in that terrible position where it feels like the whole publishing world is standing in line to get a chance to tell me I’m not good enough, traditional publishing is the path I have chosen.   

     Before I began this journey, I first gave a lot of thought to what it was I wanted from this.  I knew that if I was going to pursue this path, that I was going to be in it for the long haul, and that I would need to be willing to go through whatever level of hell I had to in order to get to where I wanted to be.  I suppose this explains the several-years reluctance in which I shied away from this whole “writing thing” as if it had fangs and a thirst for blood, but nevertheless, this is the path I have chosen.      

     After fully understanding all of the various avenues of publishing, I firmly settled on traditional publishing because I knew that, although I would meet far more resistance, going the traditional route would ultimately lead me down the paths I wished to wander.  I realized that even if I failed, I’d be far happier having given it all I had than not having done everything in my power to make it happen. 

     That being said, there are several disadvantages to traditional publishing, not the least of which is the possibility that you might never see your book in print.  Agents and publishers are flooded by manuscripts on a constant basis and it’s very likely that your pride and joy will be buried, overlooked, forgotten or never even looked at.  To break into writing the traditional way, you need to have a firm faith that one day, someone will see your work and have a strong enough vision for its possibilities in the market.  You need to believe that your writing is strong enough to stand out among the abyss of other talented author’s books.  Above all, you need to be patient and you need to keep writing.  If you’re going to take this route, it’s not enough that you’ve written a book.  Now you need to write the next one.  And the next one.  Eventually, you will have a pretty vast library of material for an agent or editor to choose from, and if you can get their attention once, they’re going to want to see more of your work.

     I’m lucky.  I have that faith.  I suffer terribly from other various personal insecurities, but there is one place I have total faith and that is in my writing.  At a soul-deep and cellular level that is impossible to explain, I know I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.  I may not be published next week or next year, but it will happen.  Despite the fact that thus far, I’ve garnered six rejections from agents, and been (so far) ignored entirely by another dozen, the towel isn’t feeling anywhere near heavy enough that I think it needs to be thrown in yet.

     What someone traveling down the traditional path needs to understand is that rejections aren’t personal.  This is not an attack on the author or their work.  This is an agent giving you respect enough to admit they don’t have the vision necessary to take your work to the heights it could reach.  I have yet to meet a rude agent who tells me that I suck and I really need to just give up.  In fact, the agents I’ve corresponded with have been encouraging, pleasant and professional.  A few of them have taken a sincere interest in my book and offered some good advice.  In that way, this is nowhere nearly as brutal as I had expected… but then again, I’m pretty new still.

     I’m sure I’m headed for some far harsher dealings, but I’m tough enough to be told no.  The fact is, I don’t have to have this right now.  Whether or not I ever get published is, as far as my writing’s concerned, inconsequential.  I will continue writing, and then writing some more, whether or not it happens.  I’m okay waiting for the right agent, the right publisher.  I believe with everything I am that somewhere out there, exists someone who will have that vision for my work which will carry it to the places that I can not.  I’m not an editor.  I’m not a marketer or a publicist.  I’m not an agent or a publisher.  I’m a writer.  It’s my job to write the best novels I can, and to trust the other professionals to do their jobs the best they can.  I don’t mind being told that I need to get better at my job, so long as it’s by someone who knows what my job entails.  As far as I’m concerned, it would be arrogant of me to write a book and think it was good enough to impact the market without getting some serious professional input.  So I’m not going to go down that route.  I’m going to do my job and I’m going to do it well. I’m going to continue getting better at it until, one day, I can be where I set out to be.  But it takes time.

     And as that time goes by and my rejections pile up, I am encouraged more and more by other writers to self-publish.  But I won’t.  I know far too many people in this business who are successful to not have faith in it.  And besides, I respect the business.  Despite the neglect it’s awarded me thus far, and despite the abuse that it will surely hurl at me in the future,  I love this business too much to walk away.  I couldn’t do it anyway. I am learning good business and good ethics.  I am learning how to effectively write some truly knock-out, wicked good stuff.  And above all…  I am meeting my heroes… the ones I looked up to when I was a kid.  It’s an honor to be among them.  Who am I to turn my back on that?

 


     So, after four long months of feeling much like I was being frisked by a police officer, I finally heard back from the New York agent yesterday.  Of course, after that amount of time, I was certain she wasn’t going to choose to take me, so it wasn’t as hard of a blow as it could have been when she told me she was sorry that she wasn’t going to offer to represent me.  Her greatest concern was that The White Room was caught somewhere between commercial and literary fiction.  I assume this means that she felt marketing the book would be difficult.  Otherwise, she said very kind things about the manuscript, and admitting she could be wrong about it, encouraged me to continue seeking other agents.

     I expected to be shattered, but strangely, I’m okay.  I am lucky, I suppose, to have the luxury of understanding how this business works a little.  I didn’t expect to write one book, meet one agent and become a an all-time famous novelist.  In fact, if I follow along the same statistical lines as the majority, I can expect an average of six or seven more years of rejections before one of them chooses to represent me.  The sad fact is, unpublished authors are a high risk.  It’s similar to a college graduate who has a hard time getting a job because they lack experience.  But how can you get experience if no one hires you?  The writing business is much the same way.  This goes to show that in any field, competition is stiff and one must always begin at the beginning, which unfortunately, is at the bottom.

     Needless to say, about a month ago, it was clear to me that this wasn’t going to happen with the New York agent, so I began querying other representatives.  This week alone, I’ve gotten three rejections and have more coming to be sure.  Thankfully, I have yet to receive any of the scathing reviews I’ve heard so many horror stories about.  The agents who have replied to me have been kind, supportive, and encouraging.  In one case, I was simply told, “I’m not the right agent for this.”  In another, I was asked to send the first five pages so the agent could get a feel for my voice.  After a day or two, she wrote back saying thanks but no thanks.  And,of course, the New York agent.

     So, what is the next step?  From conferences, my mentor, and listening to other writers, I’ve learned that it’s too early on to start thinking about revamping the story.  If I receive twelve or fifteen rejections, all pointing out the same troubles, then it’s time to revisit and revise.  But until then, a writer must keep in mind that one, or even a few agents’ opinions are not law.  They’re generally looking for a book that speaks powerfully to them and leaves them with little doubt about it’s possibilities in the market.  Some agents will read your manuscript and get a strong vision for it… and other will not.  So for now… I will keep writing, because that is my only weapon against the rejection.

     From what I have learned, one of the biggest (and most common) mistakes a writer can make is to write one book and place all of their hope into it, not realizing that it may never be published.  After having one book rejected a few times, they throw their hands in the air, call this an impossible business, and bow out of it.  I’m not going to do that.  If it takes me ten years to get published, then the way I see it is, I will have ten to fifteen novels written by then, which will create a great back log of material when my agent asks, “what else have you got?”  This is an incredibly tough, rigid business and, as I’ve been repeatedly and earnestly warned, it is not for the weak.   Times like these, writers must simply remind themselves that all the great writers have taken some pretty tough punches to  the gut in this business.  Laurell K. Hamilton was told she didn’t fit into a genre tightly enough to ever be published.  “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, by Robert M. Pirsig was rejected one hundred and sixteen times before it caught the right person’s eye… and poor Stephen King was rejected several times a month for almost fifteen years before he published “Carrie.”  So you can’t quit because someone says you’re not good enough.  This is simply that part of the process which separates the hobbyists from the lifers and, on the bright side, weeds out your competition. 

     I am lucky.  I have a vast network of supporters; people who have read my work and love my work.  These people keep me in perspective and remind me of the realities of this world that I, for some masochistic reason, insist so vehemently on one day penetrating.  So, I will let myself feel this.  I will feel bad for myself for an hour or two and then I will sit down and keep working on the next story while The White Room makes it rounds among the agents I have sent it to and the agents I will continue to send it to. The truth is, I believe in The White Room- as it is right now.  If I need to make some changes later on in order to find it a home, I will, but for now… I still believe in it and will continue believing in it until the time comes that I no longer can.  But… in the meantime, I have about a hundred more books to write…  so that’s what I’ll be doing.