The power of "No"
This week I came across one of many book promotions in my Facebook feed and it struck me as wildly inappropriate. Then it hit me that I see a lot of book promotions that basically say the same thing, just not necessarily as candidly: "He won't take 'No' for an answer." Then I realized that I'm guilty of this, too.
That's supposed to make potential readers all tingly and excited, but I just went cold because it's a blatant endorsement of rape. You've heard the justifications: If she has an orgasm, is isn't really rape. She said "No," but she really meant yes.
With the ridiculously light sentence handed to a college student in California after being convicted of "twenty minutes of action," one might think that we'd take the absence of consent more seriously. Granted, acting provocatively and teasing to suddenly withdraw the invitation isn't fair to the poor guy you got all hot and bothered. But just as a woman who dresses to draw attention isn't asking to be assaulted, a man who's any sort of man at all should have have the self-control to stop when the answer is anything but a clear affirmation to continue.
The Thames Valley Police in the United Kingdom put together this beautifully clear, animated video on the issue of consent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ. I strongly recommend that everyone watch, listen, and take it to heart.
What also bothers me about the whole rape fantasy romance thing is that much of it's being written and published by young women whose formative years were likely inundated by public safety messages stating that no one has the right to touch you without your consent. Young women growing up these days cannot escape safety messages warning them to stay aware of the environment, not to walk alone in the dark, not to answer the door to strangers, and so forth. Today's adult women 35 years and younger have been raised in a culture of fear that also tells them they can do and be whatever they want to do and be.
A woman can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but she better not invite the cute guy next door for dinner because he's a sexual predator in disguise.
As romance writers, our work is read by impressionable young women and maybe a few men. So, to the guys, here's a word of advice: These stories are fantasies that usually end in happily ever after, not prison sentences. To women, here's a word of advice: If your guy doesn't treat you with respect, then dump him. To fellow authors: Let's raise the bar and show our heroes treating our heroines with respect.
What a concept.
Getting ready for publication
Russian Gold, the sequel to Russian Lullaby and the second book in my Russian series, has been drafted and is now in the hands of beta readers. I can still use more beta readers, if you'd like to volunteer.
Writing the book is the fun part of the publication process. Editing comes next. That's where beta readers come in: they get the rough draft. The beta reads is my first round of outsourced editing. Their general impressions help identify what "regular" readers will notice when they read my book. From their comments, I can fix plot holes, inconsistencies, redundancies, and other flaws.
After revising in accordance with beta reader comments--or not, as the case may be--the next draft is then ready to go to an editor who will put his or her eagle eyes to the task of whipping the manuscript into shape. No editor expects a writer to accept 100 percent of his recommended changes, but an editor's opinion will greatly improve those story mechanics that sometimes just don't seem to work well.
I've got a cover designed. Actually, the cover for Russian Gold is a variation on the cover used for Russian Lullaby. They're themed, you know. So no sweat there. The as-yet untitled third book in the series (not serial) will have a similar cover design.
I'm also working on another book, this one is a fantasy romance. Maybe that's the same as paranormal romance, but I'm not altogether sure about that. It doesn't have a title, either. But I hope to have that ready for release by the end of this year, too. Fingers are crossed.
Like everyone else with a website and who offers a service, I'm trying to boost sales and commissions on already published titles. Hey, I live off what I earn from book sales, so this is important. To that end, I'm trying to figure out Facebook advertising, use the Amazon Associates program, and chasing down freelance gigs. Wish me luck. This stuff just isn't intuitive for me.
Making the jump to FB advertising
I'm no marketing expert. Anyone can tell you that. But even I must acknowledge that marketing is necessary to sell books. My go-to marketing expert, Fire and Ice Book Tours, did a good job, but results from the last three campaigns were lackluster at best. I heard that Facebook marketing is very cost effective and just plain effective. So, I'm trying to try it.
Unfortunately, Facebook isn't cooperating.
I don't normally consider myself stupid, but Facebook is convincing me otherwise. Something's wrong with the ad I'm trying to set up. I went so far as to establish a business page on FB: Hen House Publishing. I boosted the promotion of a sales post to almost 500 recipients. Woo. Hoo. What I really want is to send recipients in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with advertisements promoting Ulfbehrt's Legacy--you know, those little ads that appear to the right of one's regular news feed.
Facebook says there's an error with the order and offers me a link to "Fix Errors." The link takes me to the "offer information" of the ad set page and offers nothing further that's useful. What's the error? I wish the system would be specific. That would help, because then I'd know what was wrong and could work on the problem to fix it.
Oh, and if you're interested, Ulfbehrt's Legacy will be on sale for only $0.99 until September 21.