Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Smashwords

This is part 3 of 3 of my reviews of the self-publishing platforms I’ve used so far. Parts 1 & 2 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, respectively, are already up.

Smashwords may be lesser known, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the site. It may not have the name recognition of Amazon and B&N, but it seems to hold its own fairly well.

You can find my works on Smashwords here.

PROS

1. More Retailers

Unlike Amazon and B&N, Smashwords has a service where they will distribute your e-book to other retailers. I think this option is great, and it eliminates the need to upload your book to each retailer individually and to make changes on each retailer’s site when updates are warranted. It’s a big time-saver in that sense. Plus, you achieve a wider distribution beyond just Smashwords.

2. Top Royalties

Smashwords pays 80% royalty. This isn’t completely straightforward, but sales directly on Smashwords pay an 80% royalty rate, regardless of the price of your book (minimum of 99 cents). You can set an optional affiliate payment, which is automatically set at first to 11% unless you opt out or change it. But essentially, anyone that refers a reader to Smashwords using an affiliate code can get 11% of the proceeds of a sale of your book (or different amount, depending on what you set it at).

In my experience, most sales don’t come via an affiliate. I don’t like losing out on 11% when it happens, but I also appreciate that without the affiliate, I wouldn’t have made the sale, So there’s that.

Additionally, if your book is priced at under $2.99, you still get this higher royalty rate, which differs from Amazon and B&N. And there is no reduction based on location of purchaser.

If your book is in the premium catalog – meaning it is getting distributed to other retailers like Kobo, Apple, Scribd, etc. – the other retailer takes 30% and Smashwords takes 10%. So you still end up with a 60% royalty if it isn’t an affiliate sale. This is great on its own due to the ease of getting your book out to more places, but there’s an additional benefit if your book is under $2.99. If you publish via B&N and have a book priced at 99 cents, you would get a 40% royalty rate. If you go through Smashwords, you still get this 60% rate.

3. Strong Sales

Of course it could just be my experience up to this point, but I’ve found that the sales through Smashwords have been strong. Nearly as strong as using just Amazon, actually.

4. Affiliate System

I like the affiliate system, both in that affiliates have some motivation to link to my books, but also in that I can be an affiliate and potentially add revenue by directing others to Smashwords or particular books/authors.

5. Quick publication

At least to Smashwords, itself. My books are available on Smashwords in a matter of minutes. It takes a day or two to get to other retailers, but for Smashwords itself, it’s nearly immediate.

6. Coupons

You can add coupons and they are available immediately. Smashwords also has a section for books that are currently on sale at a discounted price or books that are listed for free.

But, unlike B&N, if you are looking at a book that has a coupon, they actually tell you the book is discounted and what the coupon code is.

CONS

1. Worse Ease-of-Use

I’ve found that the formatting needed to be acceptable on Smashwords for their premium catalog status to be far more difficult than Amazon and B&N. It’s no issue if you only want to publish on Smashwords, but if you want to go to other retailers, you have to format it in a very particular way using an older version of Word. I understand that part of this is due to needing to convert to multiple formats due to differences amongst retailers, but it also feels like it could be better-automated in 2021.

2. No Ability to Use Coupons at Retailers

While I love that I can put my books on sale at Smashwords (like Hooky On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful, and On His Orders: Entertaining Three currently are), this doesn’t carry over to retailers. It would be nice to be able to have a consistent price/promotion across all retailers. But, since I don’t have an account with other retailers and, because even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to add a coupon published through someone else, I can’t add a comparable coupon.

3. Smashwords is Relatively Unknown

I think this one speaks for itself. Most people haven’t heard of Smashwords and don’t go to it first. Again, my sales there have been fine, but I think it’s still lacking in some name recognition for a lot of consumers.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that I think Smashwords is fantastic. It has great royalties and it distributes to other retailers. It makes wider distribution easier with no need to make multiple stops when changes are needed.

My workaround to the hassle to format correctly has been to have all of my formatting preset in a document that I can then past my books into, applying the relevant formatting to each section. I think it took me about 20 minutes to format Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom this way.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Barnes & Noble Press

This is part 2 of 3 of my reviews of the self-publishing platforms I’ve used so far. The first one dealt with Amazon and can be found here: Review of Amazon.

You can find my works currently with Barnes & Noble here.

PROS

1. Large Network

Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble has a very large platform of dedicated customers. Unlike Amazon, it’s still largely dedicated to books. This gets your book in front of potentially millions of new customers that prefer to shop for books through B&N.

2. Ease of Use

Again, B&N is easy to use, although I would have to give the edge to Amazon on this one. I think it’s still pretty straightforward and not too much work for someone with a little bit of computer literacy to figure out, though. In particular, B&N makes it much easier to add your books to the appropriate categories, whereas Amazon keeps that formula much more of a puzzle, at least for getting your books added to certain subcategories.

3. Straightforward Royalties

The royalty system on B&N doesn’t appear to have any tricks or gimmicks about it. You get 65% for any e-book priced at $2.99 or higher and 40% for any e-book priced between 99 cents and $2.98. They don’t charge you a delivery fee and they don’t reduce your higher royalty rate for something less on the basis of location of the purchaser.

There’s so much to figure out when trying to self-publish for the first time that I think this benefit is bigger than some would initially think. It’s nice to have this aspect laid out in a simplistic, unchanging way.

4. Better Royalties

In comparison to Amazon, that is. At least that’s been my experience. Amazon likes to tout that it has a 70% royalty rate, but, as discussed in my review of Amazon, that’s actually pretty misleading. When they charge a delivery fee and reduce your royalty for sales in many countries, I’m sure I get less than the 65% that B&N provides. Plus, of course, 40% on lower priced publications is 14% higher than what Amazon provides.

5. Sales & Coupons

B&N gives authors the ability to add coupons to your books without having to enroll them in a program that demands exclusivity to B&N. In face, On His Orders: Entertaining Three is currently on sale at Barnes & Noble (coupon code BNPORDERS50).

CONS

1. Coupons Not Automatically Provided

From what I can tell, even though B&N lets authors add coupons whenever they want, it doesn’t list them as being “on sale” or “discounted,” and it doesn’t automatically apply the coupon. They don’t even appear to tell customers what the code is, meaning you would have to get the code elsewhere. So, you know. If you don’t have a big network, the coupon doesn’t do much good.

2. Sales Lag Behind Others

Perhaps this has just been my experience, but the sales on B&N don’t match what I see elsewhere. B&N has a huge network, but if it doesn’t translate into sales, the network size didn’t provide a benefit.

3. Slow Publication Times

I know B&N’s systems had a hiccup a while ago that slowed publication, but I’ve found that they take much longer than most retailers to add a publication to their available inventory. I asked customer service about it once, and I received a response. Two weeks later and right after my book was finally made available for sale.

4. No Unlimited Reading Program

While Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program has some real drawbacks, it is a nice service that I would gladly use if it didn’t require exclusivity. It would be great if B&N offered something similar. I think it’s helpful for authors – particularly new authors – to get their books in front of more people.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that if I were going to get rid of using one of the three retailers I currently use, it would be B&N. Their royalties are good, their ease-of-use is pretty good, and they have a large network. But, it hasn’t translated to sales, and they negate one of their biggest perks (the ability to add coupons whenever you want) for authors without a sizeable following with their deficiencies in the coupons feature.

But if you aren’t locked into exclusivity with another retailer, it’s easy enough to get published on B&N, so there’s really nothing to lose. It just seems like this would be a better option for an author that already has an established following.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Books on Sale!

Three of my books on Smashwords are currently on sale through the end of the month. When you go to purchase, you’ll be provided with a coupon code to enter for your discount. I give the code below, but Smashwords will provide it as well. at checkout. On His Orders: Entertaining Three is discounted on Barnes & Noble as well.

Please check them out and leave me a review if you enjoyed reading them! I love to hear feedback from readers.

Hooky is priced at 99 cents. Coupon code is EU56C.
On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful is priced at $1.25. Coupon code is TE45L.
On His Orders: Entertaining Three is priced at $1.25. Coupon code is CX35Y.
It is also on sale on Barnes & Noble at the same price. The coupon code at B&N is BNPORDERS50. B&N sale price doesn’t take effect until January 16 due to their policies.
Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Amazon/KDP for Self-Publishing

One of the most common questions I see from others trying to become self-published authors is perhaps the most obvious one: where can I self-publish my works? There are a few options for publication and I’ll start with the biggest: KDP through Amazon. I’ll address Barnes & Noble and Smashwords in later posts.

My Amazon author page is here, by the way: http://www.amazon.com/author/aliciastills.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m a huge expert on the matter or anything, but I’m also not going to blow smoke and tell Internet strangers that I make $10,000 a month publishing erotica. Seriously, why do so many people trying to scam others into paying for their publication assistance pick $10,000 a month when they’re making up income? It’s a nice, round number, but also completely fabricated.

But anyway, the point of this post isn’t to try to sell anyone on anything or to toot my own proverbial horn. I think that getting into this can be confusing and I just want to break down my impressions and experiences to help anyone else who’s thinking of giving this a go.

PROS

1. Large Network

Amazon has a huge distribution network and they seem to reach the largest audience. For anyone who’s trying to get their book in front of the most people, Amazon provides a pretty good platform for that.

2. Ease of Use

I’ve found that using Amazon’s services to get your e-book (and paperbacks, for that matter) ready for publication has been the most user-friendly. I used Amazon/KDP first, so really, it was a bit of a shock to use a different service after that to see just how far they lagged behind Amazon in terms of ease of use.

3. Highest Number of Sales

Again, it’s been my experience that Amazon has been able to get my books in front of the most people, resulting in higher sales on this platform than I’ve seen on others.

4. Kindle Unlimited Program

Okay, so this one appears on both the pros and cons list and it seems to invoke strong feelings from many self-published authors. I can see the valid benefits and drawbacks to the program, so I think it’s only fair that it appears on both the pros and cons.

For those that don’t know, Kindle Unlimited (“KU”) is an optional program when you self-publish on Amazon’s KDP platform. KU members pay a fixed price for the ability to read as much as they want of any book enrolled in the KU program. In exchange, authors receive royalties based on the total number of unique page reads they receive on the KU program each month. It gets your book in front of more people, it increases your chances of reviews (hopefully positive), and it gets you a share of the money in the KU fund.

Additionally, when you’re enrolled in KU, you have the ability to create “countdown deals,” which is when you temporarily lower the price of your book. It can either remain at one fixed lower rate for the entire length of your promotion, which is up to one week, or it can increase in steps, depending on how you want to structure it. Alternatively, you can also choose to do a free e-book giveaway instead. Your free days do not have to be consecutive. It’s easy to set up and use.

Finally, enrolling a book in KU opens authors up to a 70% royalty rate in five additional countries, rather than the 35% they would get if not enrolled in KU.

5. Fast Publication

Amazon processes submissions pretty quickly and I usually see my books available for purchase in less than a day. They aren’t the fastest, but given their sheer size, it’s a pretty quick turnaround.

CONS

1. Your Book Can Get Lost

It’s the other side of the coin to having a large network. Sure, there are a lot of potential customers, but there are also an enormous number of books, increasing the chances that your book gets lost in the shuffle.

2. Royalty Rates Are Confusing and Don’t Make Sense

Personally, I think they could easily have provided clearer explanations of their royalty rates. You have to price your book at $2.99 or higher in order to qualify for the 70% royalty rate. However, just because you meet all qualifications to receive the 70% royalty rate, you still might only get 35%. I found out that your royalty rate also depends on what country the buyer is located.

As far as I have been able to tell, this is something that is unique to Amazon, as none of the other publishers I’ve used find it necessary or appropriate to reduce royalty rates based on the buyer’s country. It doesn’t make sense to me why a buyer’s location should impact royalty rates, particularly when this is only applied by Amazon.

They also will take a delivery fee if you are enrolled in the 70% royalty rate.

3. Royalty Rates Are Worse Than Others

At 35%, KDP is the lowest royalty rate I’ve seen for e-books priced under $2.99. Barnes & Noble is 40% and Smashwords can vary, but would still be at least 49% . The breakdown of that is that Smashwords’ partners take 30%, Smashwords takes 10%. There might be an affiliate fee, which is initially set for authors at 11%, but you can opt to give a higher rate or nothing at all.

And again, even if you are enrolled in the 70% royalty rate program, you still might get bumped down to 35% depending on the country of the buyer. I’ve found that somewhere around 15% of my sales are coming from people in countries with a 35% royalty rate, regardless of my election. Additionally, they also have a slightly higher delivery fee in the 70% election (which is waived for 35%). So, at the end of the day the 70% is cut down by quite a bit, especially depending on where your sales are coming from. Even though Barnes & Noble has its higher rate set at 65%, the royalty rate overall ends being better there.

4. Kindle Unlimited Program

As promised, KU appears on the cons list as well. For all of its benefits, I still don’t have my books enrolled in KU. I did have all except for the last one, Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom, enrolled initially, but declined to renew. You make some additional money, but not much. Borrows from the KU program really drops off, too, so there is limited usefulness.

But what really bothers me about KU is that you are required to give KDP exclusivity rights while a book is enrolled in KU. Not only can you not use other publishers, but you can’t even make more than 10% of your book available on your own site.

More than that, you can’t put your book on sale or do a free giveaway if you are not enrolled in KU. There is no reason, aside from trying to force authors into enrolling in KU, despite Amazon taking a very large portion of the sales proceeds, anyway.

Also, yes, you are open to the 70% royalty rate in five new countries if enrolled in KU, but I don’t think I’ve even sold any copies in any of those countries. Maybe I have with this last round and I’m sure I will evenaturally, but that benefit is pretty limited.

Don’t get me wrong – they have a great platform and what they provide is great. But they definitely leverage their enormity to boost their bottom line at all turns.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that Amazon is great for self-publishing. I wish that KU was a better deal for authors and that 70% royalty applied to sales in all countries, but it’s easy to use and has shown the best sales so far. It’s my first stop for publishing and will probably remain so going forward.

Categories
Erotica Uncategorized

Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom now available

Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Smashwords distributors (Apple, Kobo/Walmart, others). It took longer than I hoped it would to get this out – it always seems to – but if you have a preferred e-reader, chances are, Strictly Business is there. A preview is available here.

This book pulled me a little farther away from my normal style and brought me into BDSM and female domination. The timing just seemed right to get into this genre. 2020 was a doozy of a year for my family, particularly, and writing about femdom was a nice outlet. It also aligns with my husband and I exploring domination, humiliation, and BDSM. I’m finding that femdom can be quite enjoyable for us, even if we never quite get as extreme as the characters in Strictly Business.

Regardless, I enjoyed writing it. It made me feel dirty in a new kind of way and I kept picturing that scene in Black Swan.

I hope you enjoy, and please remember to leave a review at your favorite retailer!

Categories
Uncategorized

Preview for Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom

My latest work is now available for purchase on Amazon and on Smashwords. It will also be available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords partners shortly if you prefer those retailers.

Strictly Business is my first BDSM/Femdom work and was a lot of fun to write – I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. A preview is below.

_________________________________________________________

I sit down, harder, my thighs pressing into the heels of the pumps I didn’t trouble myself to take off. Why bother? I need them for when I walk all over his body, digging the points into the many soft parts of his flesh. If he were allowed to speak, I would force him to thank me for my cruelty in between his cries of pain.

I’m sitting with such force that my tailbone is crushing the bridge of his nose through his blindfold hard enough that it hurts even me. My knees hurt as well, and I kick myself for forgetting my kneepads. I could have tied Tom to the soft bed for my sake, instead, but he deserved the hard, wooden desk that sat in the corner of every suite in the hotel. He would suffer no less for my mistake.

When I turn my head back and look down on him, his pale, blotchy skin sticks out sharply next to the darkly tanned hue of my own. The tape on his mouth hasn’t budged and he’s struggling for air, the pink in his face getting progressively darker by the second. The thin strap of fabric that’s hidden deeply in the crevasse of my ass is pressed into his nose, cutting off the only air supply I allowed him after taping his mouth shut.

The only movement I make is with my hips, slowly grinding them in a circle as I squeeze myself down onto him harder and harder, watching as his face and neck turn from pink to red and from red to maroon, his struggles against his restraints and muffled yells becoming more intense as the seconds tick past.

His struggles are entirely hopeless, and the sound of his cries make me look up and laugh. Normal people would be horrified, but I can’t help it. I hate him so much. If only he knew I would torture him for free, I wouldn’t have eight crisp one-hundred-dollar bills from him tucked safely away in my play bag. He’s so stupid that even after all our sessions, he still thinks I’m just a good actress.

As his cries reach a panicked tenor, I know he’s squirmed enough and lift my ass just high enough to hear him hungrily suck fresh oxygen in through his nose. I watch him for several moments, thoroughly repulsed by everything about him, already itching for my chance to sit again. He can pretend to hate this, but we both knew moments like this made him jerk off for weeks.

His breathing is still rapid, but the color in his face had returned to normal, and I sit down once more. His immediate howl sounded frightened, pathetic within seconds. This will be the last night I ever see him, his money being the only thing I’ll truly miss.

Categories
Uncategorized

My cuckold finally came

I made him wait until December 2nd, though. Fitting, since I made him start No Nut November a day early, too.

He liked the extra torture, though, and he really earned that orgasm. No cumming since October 30 – he could barely fuck me for the last week. 60 seconds and he was ready to lose it. Good thing he’s good with his tongue.

Still, I had to punish him a little bit for not being able to hold off long enough to get me off without resorting to oral and toys. I made him sleep with his face in between my ass cheeks two nights in a row at the end. He told me I farted in my sleep while he was pressed into me a few times, but he still listened and stayed down there.

Like I said – he earned that orgasm.

Anyway, this new kind of play had me working on a new femdom book. I’m still editing, but I hope to have it out this month.

Categories
Erotica

50% off Hooky and On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful through the end of November

Hooky and On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful are both 50% off at both Barnes & Noble and Smashwords from now through the end of the month. 

You can buy it elsewhere, too, but it’s on sale at these two retailers.  

Hooky at B&N and Smashwords.
On His Orders at B&N and Smashwords

Categories
Erotica sex Swinging

Would this be a good punishment?

My husband and I are still going strong on No Nut November. He passed the halfway mark – and then some since I made him start a day early.

But I’m struggling a little to think of ways to tease him, outside of what we’ve been doing. He’s been getting me off regularly, massaging me, serving me, etc., and I bring him close to cumming every day before forcing him to hold off. 

What I was thinking was maybe it would be a good torture move to bring him to a strip club – but without his glasses or contacts. I can see other men, but he can’t see other women… but his vision is so terrible it’s almost funny. Even though he would know naked women were just feet away, he still wouldn’t even really see them. The strippers may as well be wearing parkas and would merely look like moving fuzzy blobs. 

Categories
sex

How Slippery is the Slope?

My husband and I were talking about the slippery slope that may (or may not) exist in the sex industry. Specifically, how big of a leap is it for a stripper to go from giving lap dances to giving blowjobs for money? 

My husband said that he thinks that – for the stripper – the jump isn’t all that big. Working in a job where you’re naked or nearly naked all the time and rubbing against strange guys for cash desensitizes the dancers so much that the vast majority of them would view giving a blowjob (or more) as being just a baby step beyond giving a lap dance. 

On the one hand, let’s just acknowledge right off the bat that everyone has a price, whether they want to readily admit or not. Most of us don’t know what our price is, exactly, and we’ll never experience having someone offer us an absurd amount of money for some sexual act, but I have no doubt that if a random guy offered my husband five million dollars for a blowjob, my hubby would have the highest paid fifteen minutes of his life. And the same could be said for virtually everyone else in the world, give or take a few million bucks.

But that doesn’t mean I think it’s a small step for a stripper to become a prostitute; I think that blowing the customers is the rare exception, rather than any kind of norm. It definitely happens, but I would guess it’s a very small percentage of the time. I think it’s still a pretty big move to go from giving a lap dance to a fully clothed stranger to demonstrating your deepthroat skills to him. 

Pornstars, on the other hand, are a different story to me. When I think about it, if a woman is already comfortable with having sex with a guy on camera in a room full of people (primarily men), all of whom are in close proximity to her to begin with, I feel that having sex with two men is barely any different. Unless it’s going to include double penetration (and even then, it depends on what she was doing with just the one guy), the things she would do with two guys is really similar to what she was already doing with one and she’s still doing it on camera and in front of the same number of other people. 

But strippers? I think that’s a different story. Maybe it differs between a strip club versus a stripper that would come to a private house/party. Most places (at least in the U.S.) don’t have male strip clubs, but parties where women have hired male strippers have a reputation for getting far, far raunchier than any guys’ night out at a strip club. But male or female, regulations outside of an established business are naturally going to be harder to enforce, so I suppose that a lot of the private party strippers who do want to get paid for… extracurriculars… may gravitate to that more private venue because it’s what they wanted in the first place.

I still think that stripping and engaging in prostitution are very different situations, though. Obviously, there’s some crossover, but just think that a lot of women who are okay with being a prostitute will also strip if they’re attractive enough, both to have a cover for legitimate income and to meet prospective customers. 

Just my two cents. What do others think?