Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cat. Bag. Out.

On my personal blog yesterday I let the cat out of the bag on some juicy inside gossip. If you didn't read it, no worries, I'll post the gist of it here. Basically I write under two names. Kelly Kirch is the mainstream writer of Romantic Suspense and Regency Set Historicals. While the stories are warmish, they are not considered HOT by most industry standards. Sizzlin', sure.

Katie Blu writes erotica. She writes for Ellora's Cave and Total E Bound, though TEB does not yet have one of her books out yet. So I feel like I have a good grip on the variety seen in what is popular and to what extent. I also write under four imprints or three publishers and three editors for those names. It's an interesting juggle to say the least. I only recently admitted to the link between the two names as I felt it important to come clean. I was overwhelmed at the support from my friends who read the blog.

Basically it comes to this, mainstream is not as popular as erotic fiction. All my mainstream books in ebook format and print together do not total a single month from the brand new author Katie Blu made in a single month for a single work. No, I will not go into detail. I don't ask you what you make, do I?

It started as an experiment. Two blog friends of mine write erotica and we wondered what would happen if you put a name out there that you never promoted. Would the sales come in or did promo have a specific change in the numbers? Then came the urging of one of my editors. I was intrigued, believing I couldn't do a book with erotic elements. So never one to back out of a challenge, I penned Hot Under the Collar. I tried to put every situation I could think of in there to shock my editor. She, I discovered, is unshockable. I tried a few more times and still, no shock value.

In the whole experiment I posted a very few times to chats and a few times to blogs with excerpts. I rarely commented on the editor's loop to keep a low profile. But with my other name, Kirch, I posted constantly. I did all the foot work, schmoozing, blogging, chatting I could come up with. I purchased promo items and signed books. But it remained true that the erotica well outsold the other books.

Is it because erotica is easier to buy online than a bookstore, no embarrassment factor or judgments? Is it because it's sexier? Better story? Worse story? Maybe it's not just one thing but several. The experiment worked. I have proof for myself and a need for cash flow.

Erotica sells. Sex sells. No matter how you slice it, that's where the big bucks lie.



  1. If my alter-ego is as successful as yours, I'll be satisfied:)

  2. Both Katie and Kelly are talented, but at least in the case of e-books, you're absolutely right. Hotter book=more sales.

  3. Great post, Kelly. I think "sex sells" is a timeless fact and the internet provides a "safe" way to indulge in reading habits that some book store clerks might frown down their nose at as they ring a reader up.

  4. I've been wondering about the promo thing myself. What to do? How much and when? First let me say, I'm so proud of you. Second, I'll agree and say my experience has been the same. My mainstream titles sell well but nowhere near the single erotica title currently available. I have release dates for several more Regina Carlysle titles and I'm anxious to see how they do.

    Yep. Sex sells. Think I'll just keep writng the erotica. It's working for me.

  5. Of course, this raises the question of why we write. Do we write for the money or for other reasons--for ourselves, for the art, for communicating something meaningful, etc. etc.?

    And if we chose to write hotter because it sells, what does that mean for all those other reasons people choose to write.

    And if we say, "Oh, I'm still doing all those other things, but putting in some steamy scenes" that raises all sorts of other issues. Like pandering to the masses, writing gratuitous sex (which we rail against in movies and TV and advertisements), writing scenes that aren't necessary for the story, and so forth.

    Can we both choose to write in a genre because it sells *and* write for the sake of writing? Does anyone claim to?

    (Guess I'm feeling like a Devil's Advocate today--goes with my generally contrary nature.)

  6. Ooo. I like Devil's advocate-ing. I write Kirch because I write what involves me. Those books consume me with a passion and I MUST write them. Katie books are gratuitous. They are purely for the cash flow which keep me able to write what I love. For me, that's it. That's the whole story.

    I did connect with Beloved Brother though. It was surprisingly different for me. But I still put in the scenes to shock Helen.

  7. Indeed. There can be no second thoughts about that. & it is also safe reading it by way of e books.


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