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Not dead

I know it’s crazy. Anyway. I’m ditching my old theme and going old school. Less flashy but it’ll load faster.

Just wanted to explain the visual change for the two people who might see this…

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News

End of year

2017 has sucked.

It could have been way worse, of course. I haven’t contracted a major disease. I have a place to live. I have a job. In comparison to some other years in the ’10s’, it’s been good in a lot of ways.

In the way you probably care about, in relation to my writing and publishing, it’s sucked. Getting Her Substitute out there didn’t really count; that was a holdover from 2016, where I spent way too long pissing about to get the book out that year. I felt happy to get it published of course, and I appreciate every single one of you who bought a copy.

Beyond that, it wasn’t good. Or pretty.

I’m not asking for sympathy here. I’m trying to tell you how I’m… feeling is maybe the wrong way to put it. I’m trying to tell you where I stand as we head into 2018.

I hit a real middle-aged milestone this year. I’ve been writing mask fiction for almost 20 years – almost half my life. While I’ve been writing this, I haven’t been writing much else. I need to change that balance, but that doesn’t mean I need to stop writing mask fiction. Instead I need to treat this more seriously, along with my other writing, which I’ve neglected for way too long. I thought putting up a site, getting stuff published and selling a few books would be serious, but it hasn’t been. Not really. I need to start writing more and writing faster. I need to be more responsive to what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve no idea if it’ll happen or not. But I didn’t want to end this sucky year without at least coming out and saying something publicly. So, here I am.

See you on the other side of the New Year.

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News Process

Her Smile is now an audiobook

(Also, I’m not dead.)

Her SmileHer Smile is now an audiobook. Yes. With a professional actress reading it in sexy, sultry tones. You know you want to hear this.

If you don’t care about how I made this happen, go ahead and buy it. It’s only $3.95 – oh snap, it’s even discounted! C’mon, that’s less than you spent on coffee today. You’ll need to have an Amazon account.

As another incentive, you should know that the original text of Her Smile has been revised and expanded. If you already own Her Smile in ebook format, download it again and you’ll see the revised version. (Or if you’ve already got it downloaded, it should update automatically.) If you’ve never read it, give it a go. It’s half the price of the audiobook – a mere $1.99 – and I think you’ll have a good time.

So, you might be asking…

How did you get an audiobook done?

About six months ago (not coincidentally, about the last time you heard from me) I started looking into the possibilities of producing an audiobook based on something I’d written. I knew practically nothing, but I thought it’d be fun.

My first concern was about, well, sexual content – was it allowed? Unsurprisingly perhaps, that’s not an issue. Just as there is almost every flavor of kink in ebook form on Amazon, there’s a similar diversity when it comes to audiobooks. It’s basically right there, and all I had to do was go looking for it on Amazon and Audible. You can do the same.

Then the question was how? I don’t know any voiceover actors. I’m pretty sure no-one wants to hear me reading and trying to do the sexy woman’s voice. Turns out there’s already a solution in place: ACX.com. The site is part of Audible and Amazon, and basically acts as a marketplace where authors can find producers who’ll work on their audiobook. Essentially you create a profile, put up some audition material and wait for auditions to come in.

So, I had to pick something to let people audition for.

I chose Her Smile for the obvious reason that it was short. Paying a professional to read your work isn’t cheap, and I couldn’t really justify paying for a whole novel to be produced, unabridged, which at my length could easily run into thousands of bucks. Just like when I’d used it to test the ebook publishing process, Her Smile came to the rescue again.

I took some care with the audition material. I chose several sections of Her Smile, wanting to ensure I could get an idea of how a potential narrator would perform in a ‘normal’ scene, in a sex scene and when reading female or male parts. I wanted a female narrator, although in theory it could have worked just as well with a male narrator who could manage a good female voice. Female was my preference though, so once I’d prepared my audition materials, I put them live and crossed my fingers that someone – anyone – would audition for this thing.

I didn’t really need to worry. In less than a day I had a number of auditions to listen to. Turns out ACX has a lot of producers, and apparently no-one has a problem with my weird fetish fiction! Before too long I was nervously downloading samples of various producers, getting ready to squirm in my seat at the sound of people reading my words.

I didn’t squirm. Much. Every single audition I heard was professional, and several were really good. I actually had a decision to make; I’d half-expected to have no-one apply, so now I had to figure out who I wanted to give the ‘part’ to. Such responsibility!

(By the way, if you’re wondering how it feels to hear a total stranger read – no, not read, perform your writing… well, it feels pretty surreal. And good. Surreal and good. But mostly good!)

Her Smile - audiobook cover

It didn’t take long to make my final choice. Despite a number of good auditions, Ruby Rivers stood out to me; not just because of her performance, which was great even at audition stage, but also because she was friendly, helpful and quick with her responses to my frequent questions. Fantastic for a first-timer like me. Needless to say her price was also right!

Ruby really was superb to work with, and if I’m honest, we could have wrapped the book in about a month if I hadn’t been so slow. Since when did I ever do anything fast, though? First I wanted to do a ‘polish’ of Her Smile that turned into more of a heavy revision, adding almost 1,500 words to the total, but still leaving it as a ‘short’ story. Then I needed to give Ruby some direction on her performance, to get it closer to what I wanted. Finally I made some new cover artwork which you can see above, paid Ruby, and that was that.

So now we have what I believe is a world first – a professional actress narrating a piece of female mask fiction. If nothing else, you’ve got to be intrigued, right?

I’d love to do this for future works, but basically it all depends on your reaction and on sales. So, you know what to do: buy Her Smile in audio form today, and let me know what you think, either below or via the usual contact page.

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News

Reminder: price increase on Her Substitute (and other stuff)

Well. Time flies, eh? Blah blah blah cliché, blah blah blah aphorism. Here we are at the end of February, just about, so I figured I was overdue for an update.

Not that I’m sure anyone is reading these updates. Let me know if you do. I used to blog a bit more frequently, back in the day, and I could do more but blogging takes time from writing. Although that’s a weak defense; plenty of other stuff takes even more time from writing. Ah well, you get the picture. Let’s dive in.

Reviews for Her Substitute

First of all, thanks! Thank you to everyone who left reviews on Her Substitute on Amazon.com (and .co.uk, fellow UK people!). I don’t have time right now, unfortunately, to quote people. I will at some point and add them to the page for the book.

I really, really appreciate your time to review the book. It absolutely makes a difference to sales, to perception and most important of all (ahem) to my ego. Only kidding. Nothing helps that. Anyway – big sloppy wet kisses or hugs (your choice) to all my reviewers.

Want to be one of the people receiving this unwanted close contact? Review the book already people.

Price increase for Her Substitute

As I mentioned back when I launched Her Substitute, the initial price was introductory, for all you lovely people! As of March 1st, I’m pushing the price to $6.99 (and near equivalents – basically whatever A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy costs globally, it’ll cost the same). In addition, I’ll be adding Her Substitute to Kindle Unlimited, which means I have to remove the PDF version from Gumroad, where it’ll be gone for at least three months. Let me bullet point all that for ease of skimming:

  • Her Substitute will cost $6.99 as of March 1st
  • It will become available to read for free, for Kindle Unlimited members
  • It will be removed from Gumroadif you want the PDF version, buy it now

Why do I have to remove it from Gumroad? Because putting a book in Kindle Unlimited means it can’t be available for sale anywhere else. It’s a rolling three month exclusivity period. If, at the end of the three months, I can see that the ‘sales’ (AKA page reads) for Her Substitute don’t look as good as the Gumroad sales have been, I’ll pull it back out.

Which makes me think I should consider putting Practice to Deceive in Kindle Unlimited too. Hmm.

On to the free stuff!

The New Job… is coming back

After a couple of months away I think I cracked – kind of – where to go next with The New Job. (A title which is so ‘working’, it might as well be earning a paycheck.) That means in the next newsletter (which will go out this week, i.e. in March) you’ll be able to read some more of it. Yay! As always, I appreciate feedback – especially on stuff like this, which is totally in process, hence my stop-start cadence, really.

Are you sitting there saying “What the hell is The New Job?” You should subscribe to the newsletter.

Did you see my ‘ad’?

YouTuber and masking enthusiast couple KairaChloe have been making mask videos for a while, and also were taking commissions – so I asked them to make a little video for me to promote Her Substitute. I wrote a little script, Chloe got on camera and had fun with a mask. Here’s the result.

Fun huh? It wasn’t super elaborate, but still I got a few new readers from it. It always surprises me that there are people out there who don’t know about mask fiction. I have thoughts on this, but I might save them for another post. I’m currently thinking about another commissioned video which might promote my books in general… this time without masks. We’ll see if it works out.

That’ll do for now! I’ve got more, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Speak soon!

 

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News

Her Substitute is… out now!

Hello everyone! Welcome to February, and that means today… Her Substitute is out! Yay!

(Wild applause, throwing of roses, possibly panties, I’m fine with either, standing ovation, etc etc.)

You can pick up your copy right now in Kindle ebook format. It’s on sale in (deep breath) the US, UK, Canada, Australia Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, BrazilNetherlands, India and Mexico local Amazon sites. Phew. I should point out, I only wrote it in English….

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly Writer
Click here to buy Her Substitute (Amazon US, Kindle)

… or if you prefer, in PDF format over at Gumroad for the same price:

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly Writer
Click here to buy Her Substitute (Gumroad, PDF)

Your choice!

The physical, honest-to-God real book version is coming very soon. It’s ‘publishing’ on Amazon right now (after some sort of weird glitch last night) and should be online in the next day or so, so hold up if you want that. FYI – it’ll be $14.99, which is obviously higher. Turns out actual physical trees, printing, shipping etc are involved in that production. But I’m sure it’ll look absolutely lovely on your shelves.

Please remember the ebook prices are for the first month only. Come March, the PDF version will be removed as I put the book into Kindle Unlimited for at least three months. (So, if you’re wanting to read it that way, you’ll have to wait. But why wait? It’s like, the price of a cup of coffee.)

And next? Yes, reviews

If you enjoy Her Substitute, then I would be absolutely indebted if you could leave a review. Especially if you are outside the US – believe it or not, it’s taken me years to realize that there are separate reviews for sites like Amazon.co.uk… so I need reviews in my home country, fellow Englishmen!

In the first month, I’ll do something special for my favorite review. I have no idea what. Something nice? Anyway, if you do leave a review, let me know somehow via comment or contact page, I care not.

More importantly, let me know what you thought! Us writers crave feedback.

Finally, I have to thank Vic one more time for letting me romp around in his plot and with his characters. I deeply appreciate it. I also deeply appreciate the other person in my dedication… but they can read that for themselves.

Enjoy. Happy Book Release Day!

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News

Her Substitute – paperback is being published

Just pushed the button on the print-on-demand paperback for Her Substitute

Her Substitute - publishing the paperback
Her Substitute – publishing the paperback

Should – fingers crossed – be live tomorrow along with the ebook, or if not, a day or so later. Let’s hope!

If you pick up the paperback, please send me a pic – would love to see it in the wild. (Come to think of it, I’d be happy to see pictures of your Kindle or your phone or whatever with the book on it!) In theory it should look something like this render…

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly Writer

Other stuff: I removed the password protection from the second extract, so if you aren’t a newsletter reader (or even if you are) it’s open to you now. So go peek, unless you want to read the book un-spoiled.

The non-Amazon version of the book will go online sometime tomorrow, probably. It might slip to Thursday. I have some big stuff going on tomorrow, but I’m going to try really hard to get it done. Fingers crossed.

Update just in case you turned up here later: the paperback version is on sale here.

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News

All the details on Her Substitute

Hello folks! Sorry I went a bit quiet. Been fighting off a cold this week, which is terrible timing. With less than a week to go before Her Substitute arrives, I wanted to answer a few questions and give you a few details. Let’s go!

Her Substitute is launching at a reduced price

Short version: Her Substitute, in eBook form, is going to launch at $4.99. On March 1st or thereabouts, that’ll go up to $6.99. Get it first and get it cheaper by pre-ordering today.

Longer version including a lot of thoughts on pricing and how much you mean to me, dear reader, over here.

Her Substitute is launching in Kindle, paperback and PDF/epub formats

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly WriterThis is really good news if you hate Amazon, you hate DRM or you hate electronic doohickeys. While you can’t pre-order, on or around Feb 1st (it depends on a few things), Her Substitute will have a paperback version available through Amazon for $14.99, and a bundled PDF and epub version for $4.99 through Gumroad (link will be available Feb 1st).

The PDF/epub version is perfect if you can’t use Amazon, don’t want to use Amazon, or want to read on an alternative e-reader to the Kindle. The paperback version is perfect if you don’t want to rely on batteries or screens, or just want to touch – ahem – something with your hands that feels… good.

However…

The PDF/epub format will be available for a limited time

The reason A Lie Within A Lie isn’t in PDF/epub is because it’s enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which is Amazon’s quite frankly sneaky way of getting self-pubbed authors like me to keep our stuff in their ecosystem. The way it works is, while a book is in Kindle Unlimited, members of that service can read the book for free. I get paid based on how many pages are read. Over time, that amount adds up pretty nicely, while over time generally the ‘real’ sales for books go down.

So, after probably a month or two – I’m not going to set a date on this yet, I’ll see how sales are – I’ll be removing the epub/PDF versions from Gumroad, and putting the book into Kindle Unlimited. I will give everyone a heads-up on this, don’t worry, but it makes sense to me. Am I wrong? Let me know, or more obviously, buy from Gumroad. If the sales are high I’ll reconsider.

Now, what else. Oh yeah.

I’ll have extracts from Her Substitute available here this weekend

… and they won’t be the extracts that end up on the Amazon page (which is the first 10% of the book) or from parts of the story you might know, if you originally read Vic’s wonderful original. Nope. New stuff. Aaaaannd

… there will be an additional extract for newsletter subscribers

I know. Ain’t I a stinker? Look, it’s not like I’m bombarding you with email (er, let’s not dwell on that too much) but if you want to read an additional extract before the book’s out, then hey. Subscribe to get it, is all I’m saying.

The newsletter with the additional extract will go out sometime late Sunday. So, you know, get on that.

 

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On pricing Her Substitute

Big topic, this. I’ve thought long and hard about pricing over the years (Yep, it’s been years – Practice to Deceive came out in 2013) and in the end, I’ve decided that a combination of my speed, my genre/niche and my sales all point to one thing: I’m pricing a little too low. Let me explain a bit.

The perceived wisdom on self-pubbed Kindle sales is to price at $2.99 and churn out fiction fast. That might work if you’re writing ‘vanilla’ erotica – and even, honestly, niche stuff, to a degree – but when you have an even smaller audience, it doesn’t work so great. At some point I’ll do a real sales post, but for now, let’s use made-up numbers. Say I sell 10 books a month at $1 each (this is purely for ease of math!). I’d make $7 off those sales, Amazon takes $3. In an ideal world I continue to sell 10 books a month continuously, and I have an income stream. I write more, expand catalogue, and $7 a month becomes $70 a month (10 books) becomes $700 (100 books!) and then somehow, I’m rich.

Except, it doesn’t work that way.

In three years of sales on Practice to Deceive, I’ve probably made a few hundred bucks. Now, I can always reach more people, for sure, and I work to do that through marketing, etc. But, given the subject matter (specifically using masks vs the more ‘traditional’ transgender approach), I’ve got inherent limitations on my audience size. You wonderful folk.

When I first launched Practice to Deceive I’m pretty sure I priced it at $7.99. After a while, seeing all of these people insist that you had to price at $2.99, I dropped to that number. Here’s the thing: sales didn’t change. So, eventually, I settled on $4.99. It’s been that way since.

When I was finishing up A Lie Within A Lie, which is about 30,000 words longer than Practice to Deceive (so, about 150K) I was worried about the price. I was also kind of worried about the subject matter (see this post). It had been a while since I’d launched a book, so I was feeling nervous. In the end I decided to split the book in two, with the first part priced at the ‘must-price’ $2.99 level, and the second at $6.99. Total, $9.98. If I’d launched at that number for one book, I feel confident I’d have gotten complaints, or sales would have suffered. As it was, the pricing seems to work. Sales are pretty equal on both parts, which means pleasingly, people generally seem to want to read the second part after they read the first.

Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that yep, I can price higher than $2.99 for sure, and make more from less books. (This doesn’t mean I intend to write less, but my output isn’t going to go from one, two books a year to 10 overnight.)

Her Smile, by Ghostly WriterI tell you all this because frankly, I’m price sensitive on your behalf. I am personally always looking at my word and page counts, wondering to myself if the price seems ‘worth it’. But, I’ve sat by for way too long seeing many, many transgender ‘novels’ debut on Kindle with a sub-50 page count, for $2.99. (By contrast my only sub-50 page piece, Her Smile, is only 99c – the cheapest you can sell on Amazon.)

By any measure, compared to that, $4.99 for 262 pages for Her Substitute is really a bargain. (Let’s not start comparing with the real world either. Kindle books are regularly priced above that from ‘real’ publishers and of course, what does $5 get you these days? Not much, and I would certainly argue, it’s damn good dollar-to-hour entertainment value.)

As you can tell, this is something I’ve thought about a lot. I’m completely, utterly aware that if I ever want to make ‘serious’ money writing, I’ve got to up my output considerably. As I work on that however, I’ve got to remain sensitive to pricing, and to what the market – ie you – is willing to pay for.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. As always, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me directly via the contact page.

We now return you to our scheduled smut, already in progress.

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News

Quick update for January

Happy New Year. At last. Clearly, I am not dead. Yet.

The New Job (and the newsletter) aren’t dead either. I’ll get it out soon. For those who haven’t, feel free to sign up from any of the spots around the site and get both the newsletter to ignore and access to a piece of fiction that’s been (very) slowly growing.

Writing has been painful as of late. Various reasons, all personal. Trying to grind out the words, but it’s been hard. Hoping to address this soon.

However, I’ve managed to get my shit together long enough that soon – like, within a few days soon – Her Substitute (nee The Substitute) will be hitting pre-order on Amazon. I’ll also have it available away from Amazon, at least for a limited period. Much more to come as the date of release approaches. I think I can say with some certainty you’re going to like it.

For now, leaving you with that, and a generally warm fuzzy feeling, as I’m a nice chap. More soon.

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Practice to Deceive: now in paperback (honest)

Hello all! Long time no see. Not that I can see you. You get the idea…

Practice to Deceive - mask fiction novel - 3D coverAt long last, the paperback version of Practice to Deceive is finally available. It’s a real book! Since I first got my proof copy last summer I made a few minor changes – improving the book’s layout, and tweaking the cover a little bit. I’ve updated all of the imagery you can see around the site, and of course the new cover is on Amazon, both in Kindle and paperback formats, and over at Gumroad as a PDF.

As I think I mentioned before, by necessity the paperback costs more than the Kindle version – $14.99 for US customers. That’s because the cost of print-on-demand printing is obviously higher than the cost assigned to a Kindle book. Hope you can understand. As it is, it feels pretty competitively priced; it’s an almost 400 page book, after all. Having seen the proof myself, I can vouch for it being a high quality finished product.

So, if for whatever reason you’ve been waiting to buy Practice to Deceive in physical form… now’s the time to pick it up. If you do, please send me a picture of the book. (You don’t have to be in the picture!) I’d love to see my words in physical form out there in the world.

More news soon. Just wanted to get this out in the world!