November 10, 2010

Put yourself out there

Blog, today I've got a nugget of advice to share with my blog followers who are aspiring artists of any kind.  Yeah, it's those four words in the title of this post, and I'm living proof that if you put yourself out there as much as you can, something good always comes of it.

It's funny how life works.  You can push, push, push, with no results:  send out query letters, enter contests, buy advertising for your stuff, etc. and achieve nothing but a lot of rejections slips and flat website tracking on your Google Analytics charts.  But then out of the blue, from some little thing you did so long ago you forgot about it, big fat results occur.  In fact, it's likely you'll never even know what it was you did that brought those magical results!

Blog, let me illustrate with a few examples from my experience.

An Amazon bestseller

I started writing erotic romance fiction as Diana Laurence in 2004.  My first published book was the ebook version of Soulful Sex: Erotic Tales of Fantasy and Romance.  In 2004 I did an awful lot of things to try to promote my work, but nothing generated sales even close to one completely freakish fact:  When you searched for "erotic romance" in Amazon's ebook store, my book showed up right at the top.  I suppose that was due to the title, but I was never sure why.  Consequently though, that book was in the top ten romance ebooks sold on Amazon for 18 months.  (I like to think the fact that it was good and received an Eppie nomination--the Oscar of ebooks--helped, but to be honest, I don't know!)

A convention appearance

In 2005, when I was still just starting out writing romance, I got an email from the publisher of Romantic Times Book Review magazine, a very famous lady in the biz.  She wanted to know if I would appear on a panel on erotic romance at the upcoming annual convention that the publication sponsors, the best-attended in the romance field.  Trust me, Blog, among the names of those invited to appear at this con, I was absolutely an upstart.  To this day I don't know what I had done to attract the woman's attention, except that back then I tried to promote my books in every way I could, including blogging and doing guest essays and columns.  I may have given the impression I was more of an expert that was truly accurate....  But at any rate, appearing at the convention in Florida with those famous authors was quite a thrill.

Bad news becomes good

Also in 2005, my publisher went out of business, just as I was about to release the third volume of Soulful Sex stories.  Was I bummed?  You bet, Blog.  But on the advice of my publisher I decided my best course of action was to start publishing my books myself, ebooks and print books and all.  It was a lot of work at first, but all became worth it very fast.  My profits were suddenly like five times more per book I sold, plus I had complete control of editing, production, promotion and sales.  That bad news turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to my writing career.

A Google hit and handy coincidence

In 2007 when I released my novel Bloodchained, I encountered another fortuitous search engine situation.  At that time, when you googled "vampire romance," my book came up on the first page.  Why, I can't begin to guess.  However, by sheer coincidence, it was right about then that another vampire romance, Twilight, maybe you've heard of it, was becoming a hit.  So a whole lotta peeps were googling "vampire romance," Blog.  For a time that book sold even faster than Soulful Sex had.  I wish it still came up that high on Google....

One online essay, one sweet publishing deal

In 2009 I was contacted by a midsized independent publisher and invited to write a book for them on taming vampires.  The editor had searched on that term to find an author to flesh out the idea she had for a new title.  The search turned up an essay I had written years before for the Novelspot website.  My treatment of the subject matter impressed her.  I got the gig, and How to Catch and Keep a Vampire turned out to be the biggest book this publisher had ever tackled.  I earned a nice big advance, the book sold in countries all over the world, and it even got picked up by Target stores.  All because I wrote an essay and offered it for free to a website.

An email from China

This year I was contacted by a book agent in China about the translation and publishing rights for my Bloodchained books.  I still have no idea why she picked me and my books as having appeal in the People's Republic, Blog.  But I signed a contract and in no time flat she had found a publisher for both books.  I was paid royalties up front on the full press run for the two titles, quite a wonderful sum, especially when I didn't have to do any additional work!  And now I'll have my first titles translated into a foreign language...Chinese, of all things!

Just because I put myself out there, Blog.

internet phenomena and failed completely.  I've sent countless article proposals to magazines without a nibble.  I've won a few contests, but lost dozens.

It certainly seems that the harder I push, the fewer results follow...while when I'm just going along doing my regular writing thang, miracles drop from the sky.  Well, one clarification there, Blog:  I'm not saying laziness is the way.  I'm saying that you just have to keep doing things, putting your art out there wherever and however you can, like sewing seeds.  I've worked my butt off, in fact.  However, what amuses me no end is how success comes when I least expect it, and from the most surprising sources.

Aspiring artists out there in Blogland, keep on keepin' on!  Love what you're doing no matter what results you see, and someday something really amazing will happen to you.  You just watch.


  1. Oh Yes!!! This is the best blog yet! Thank You!!!!!What you write is so true. I have not met such success yet but I can see how the daily tasks we do, all little steps towards nurturing our dream, can eventually reap our success!

    Thanks Again! You're the bomb-diggity!

  2. Con, I think you've done wonderfully in the time I've known you. You've put yourself out there a whole bunch and the world is definitely starting to take notice! I look at your works in our house all the time and they bring me much joy. Keep it up, girl!

  3. Thanks for the advice, Diana! :) Your work is wonderful, just like you are-- so thanks for sharing it and yourself with us. :)

  4. THanks for the inspiration! I wrote a few erotic stories on the Literotica website but other than that my writing isn't erotic, though I am interested in the genre. It's fun!

    Glad to have found you. I am going to have to look up your books now.


  5. Erika, you're so sweet! Erotica is nothing if not fun. :-) Pleased to meet you too!