I go by cover, blurb and title (in that order). A cover will catch my eye first, I’ll buy the book if the blurb sounds interesting, and I choose which story to read on my Kindle by which title interests me (because, let‘s face it, with all the books I have on my Kindle I‘m not going to remember the blurb to all of them). The titles may not have been paramount in the past, but with e-readers, they are very important.
Do you plan your posts in advance? Are you ever at a loss for a new post/idea?
Oh God, yes, I’m at a loss for new posts and ideas a lot! It’s getting better though. I always got this huge writer’s block whenever I sat down to blog. I don’t usually plan my posts in advance. I do it sometimes, when I think up new topics but have already posted that day, or if the topic really stretches on and I split it into two or three parts. A week and a half from now I’m doing a “Twink Week” in honor of my upcoming release, Absolutely Eric, (that features a very proud twink), so I’m having a bunch of guest bloggers from the m/m genre. But generally, I just blog when I feel like it. It’s not the best strategy, but it’s the only way I can stay active on my blog without clogging up with writer’s block.
I know writer's block. It seems sometimes you turn to activism. Do you find you're preaching to the choir about gay rights or falling on deaf ears? Do you see a lot of prejudice and discrimination in your daily life?
I feel like I’m mostly preaching to the choir, but I still hope that I’ll be able to influence some people who either hadn’t formed an opinion or manage to sway the narrow minded opinion of someone who believes that it’s okay to bash on other people just because those people are gay. I don’t see a lot of prejudice and discrimination in “real life” (my hometown or country), but it’s all over the internet and it sickens me.
I’m outraged by a lot of what I read on the internet. It’s hard for me to understand how people can be so narrow minded about gay rights. I mean, gay rights are just basic human rights and everyone’s supposed to be entitled to that. It shouldn’t matter if you’re black, white, male, female, gay or straight. The fact that LGBT people are getting trampled on for being who they are is just wrong. I’m an Icelander and LGBT rights here are very strong. I’m not saying that every Icelander is welcoming to gay people, but most are, and most understand that being gay isn’t a choice. The only choice about it is coming out or not (and no one should live in fear of being who they are). I was raised to believe that all people were equal, so it breaks my heart to see a group treated with so little respect.
What drew you to erotic fiction? Did you feel you were limited by other genres?
I actually jumped from paranormal YA to gay male (m/m) erotic romance. It’s a very weird jump to make, but I was curious about the LGBT section in netgalley.com and after I got assigned KC Burn’s Spice and Solace, I was hooked. I’ve hardly read anything other than m/m since. I also dropped my YA writing and focused solely on writing m/m erotic romance. There’s just something so fascinating about two men in love and that wasn’t new to me when I started reading m/m. I’ve been fascinated about it for years and years. Mind you, not all m/m stories are erotic and I hope that people don’t automatically lump it with eroticism. There are very deep stories behind most of the m/m books I’ve read and although there are explicit scenes in a lot of them, I refuse to call them “erotic” – I call them “erotic romances”. The focus is usually on the romance factor and the erotic bit is thrown in as an extra treat. Then there are gay male horror stories, paranormal stories, contemporary (etc) with no erotic (or romantic) content, where the main character just happens to be gay. I wouldn’t say I felt limited by other genres so I turned to this one, it was just that I fell in love with this genre after reading one book. I definitely recommend trying m/m; I think a lot of people would be surprised, especially with the vast sub-genres available (m/m sci-fi, anyone?).
I recall D.F. Krieger mentioning the need for fantasy and someone in my twitter feed mentioned Arthur/Merlin as a relationship. No pigeon-holes, for certain.
Where did your audience grow from? Are they mostly readers? Other bloggers? Twitter, etc?
I started out with a blog and a facebook account. I get a lot of traffic on my blog through facebook, because I announce there when I have a new blog post, but I also link the direct feed from my blog on my Goodreads page. I recently joined Triberr, which is a great marketing tool, and created my own “tribe” called Gay Romance. We’re now a group of 22 m/m writers and reviewers who share each other’s blog posts on our Twitter accounts with a quick click. That generates a lot of traffic as well. So yeah, my audience is a mix of facebook, Twitter and Goodreads people.
The people who comment on my blog are mostly friends and readers of my books. I try to reply to every comment to stay active, but more importantly because I like replying. I really like interacting with people online.
You have many contests on your blog. Do you find contests and give-aways are an effective way of growing your audience? Have you tried other strategies that worked as well or better?
Hop Against Homophobia</b> that’ll take place on the International Day Against Homophobia, May 17th - May 20th. We already have over 200 m/m authors, reviewers and publishers signed up. It’s going to be a schmorgage board for m/m lovers, but I strongly encourage all romance readers to check out the blogs and give m/m a try. For my own giveaways, I don’t offer gift cards if I’m offering a book as well, because I want the ones who sign up for those to be people who are actually interested in reading m/m, as opposed to people who are looking to score a gift card. Nothing wrong with trying to score a gift card (I do it myself sometimes), I just feel like an m/m book prize is wasted on someone who has no intention of reading m/m. If I do gift card prizes, I won’t offer up a book as well.
As for other promos, social media is very important. You do have to pick and choose though, because you can’t be everywhere (or you won’t have time to write!). Pick two or three and stay active, just interact with people and be yourself. I’m active on facebook, Goodreads, and I try to be active on Twitter as well (though that’s not my favorite). Then, of course, I try to be active on my blog. Interviews and guest blogs are also great for exposure and name recognition.
Then, of course, you should get to know your fellow genre/blog writers and help promote each other. Everyone benefits from cross-promo.
Even me! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out Erica's books: A Life Without You, Hot Hands, Grade-A Sex Deal, The Walls Have Ears, Free book In His Pocket, and watch for Absolutely Eric coming out May 11 from MLR Press.