Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 12 Jun 01 13:57
I asked our next guest, Susie Bright for some material that I could paraphrase and use to introduce her. Her response was so classic Susie Bright that I don't have the heart to paraphrase. Thus: "Tell them I've been a member of the WELL since 1992, and that Matisse Enzer convinced me it would be worth acquiring a 9600 modem. I've been a compulsive poster at various times in <byline.>, <media.>, and the old sex conf, as well as <popcult.>, <plumage.>, and the Sopranos topic in <TV.>. I inspired the "Humping Like a Bitch: The Britney Spears Story" topic. You wouldn't expect to see me in <nyfood.> or <socialism.>, but I have made appearances in both those conferences. I have never been to a gd conf. I'm the type of girl who doesn't look ahead in the Movie conference until I've seen the film. I show up in the Mac conference trolling for free advice. My name is Susie Bright and I am a Well-A-Holic. "Okay, now about my book. I write about sex, notoriously, and edit a fantastic anthology every year called The Best American Erotica. I am the "avatar of American erotica" according to snobs like the NYTimes. "Now, in the spirit of of showing what goes on behind the curtain, I've written _How to Read/Write a Dirty Story_. I've published it myself as an ebook, POD, and traditional paperback, selling through Amazon, booklocker.com, and my own web site, http://www.susiebright.com." M. J. Rose is the author of three novels: _Lip Service_, _Private Places_, and her newest book, _In Fidelity_, as well as the new guidebook to ePublishing that she co-authored with Angela Adair-Hoy,_ How to Publish and Promote Online_ .. She is also a journalist and writes a weekly column for Wired.com called E-publishing Ink which appears every Tuesday. M.J. has been a guest herself here in inkwell.vue twice, but today she is here as an interviewer. Last year the two met when Susie chose a passage from M.J.'s first novel _Lip Service_ for Best American Erotica 2001. Soon after that, Susie contacted M.J. for help on self-publishing her book _How to Read/Write a Dirty Story_." They spent over six months working on every detail from price to cover design and now are joining up again for this interview. Please join me in welcoming Susie and M.J. to inkwell.vue!
Susie Bright (sueb) Tue 12 Jun 01 20:32
Linda, you are very BAD to quote me verbatim, you were suppose to make me sound demure, mysterious, full of enigma. Now who knows what everyone will think I'm full of! Melisse, we havent' talked on the phone in so long that this will indeed be a chance to catch up. I jsut got my second ebook check today, I LOVE THAT. I love getting money RIGHT AWAY, it's so different from regular books and regular publishers. I'm already daydreaming about my next ebook. ANd you know, even though I have a big publisher offer on this new book, who wants to take over distribution, I think for my next ebook, I'm going to do somethign that I will NEVER give up, not for eternity. I want to see at the end of the line, if I end up making more money on an ebook I control, with no inventory, than I do on a paper book I sell to a publisher who may or may not ever report my royalites correctly. Can we tell I have an attitude problem? Ebooks are great for authors with attitude problems. Hey, did we already talk about how that sequel to Brown Sugar got a 6- figure advance at Pocket books? I still dont' know the skinny on that, expect that it's unheard of for an erotic anthology, or any anothology or repreints for taht matter, to get a 6 figure deal. By the way, for people who don't know me from my postings on the Well, I am a terrible typist. A spelling bee winner, but a D- typing class failure. Early on, everyone on the WEll told me not to worry about making typos in pico span, as long as I could make myself understood. So that is what your're going to get here. Nowadays Ithink I'm the last shitty typist in any of the Well, where did everyone else go? Back to my book... I've sent a ebook copy to every journalist I've ever worked with, partly as p.r., but also because I wanted them to have the same catharitc experience reading the section on publishign and marketing as I did writing it. Their reactions have been really, really satisfying: "You nailed it." ..... "This part made me cringe, it's so fucking true."... "Why didn't you send this to me five months ago when I started negotiating"... "You should publish that last third as a non-erotic book for writers who just need the reality check..." I'm so glad I wrote this! I could never have done it with a house editor looking over my shouldder, because I wouldn'tahve been as truthful, sad to say. so WHAT's NEW????
M. J. Rose (anewanais) Wed 13 Jun 01 11:06
I have a feeling that I'm not going to be really neccessary around here... Susie you might be best just asnwering your own questions. But I will get the ball rolling - so to speak. I think the two most interesting things about this project were: Why did you decide to self publish at all? And then why did you decide to sell your self publihsed book to a big NY publihser. Having been here done this myself - I have my own reasons - most of which don't work with you - I was an unknown when I self published and then the NY pub house offered me a validation I still didn't have and couldn't get any other way. But my God - you are Susie Bright. You hardly need validation from a NY publishing co. (And I'm a horrible speller too!)
Susie Bright (sueb) Fri 15 Jun 01 11:44
this was a book idea I'd already pitched to major houses and been turned down flat. I was stubborn about it though, because I could see with my own eyes how many people wanted to learn about the erotica genre, whether they were fans, aspriring writers, politicos, ambitious authors, etc. I could see from the costs of doign an ebook that there was NO WAY I could lose money doing it. I mean, you sell a couple hundred copies and you've covered your overhead. I looked at it a million ways and I couldn't see a downside. I dont' need to sell jillions of copies of this to make money, a few thousand would be an utter windfall fo rme, and as good as any advance I would have gotten. The appeal of a NY publisher taking it over, is to get it into bookstores properly. Right now it's an internet affair, you have to order it online, or from me, and I certianly can't handle bulk orders myself from my bedroom. Of course, I could make any kind of distribution deal I wanted, it's all so innovative at this point. when you have a successful ebook, you have some leverage, you've proved you have an audience. Also, NY houses are interestedin erotica right now, at least for the next five minutes. There's a lot of interest in proposals I couldn't have given away a few years ago.
JaNell (janell) Fri 15 Jun 01 11:45
Oddly enough, having just finished Anais Nin's diaries, I saw that y'all were starting this topic, and I couldn't wait. Do either of you write in any other genre, and if so, do you use a pseudonym? How does one get the nerve to submit erotica? And where is the best place to get started? I think erotic Hallmarks are out...
M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 15 Jun 01 12:14
Actually I think erotic hallmarks are a great idea... but that's another issue. (As for my writing - my non fiction is all about publishing and marketing and not in the slightest bit erotic and my fiction is more or less comtemporay Literary Fiction with an erotic bent - I'll let Susie answer for herself.) And I have another question for Susie - So far what has been the most interesting ascpect of doing a book on your own - self publishing so to speak - and what has been the least interesting or most difficult part.
Susie Bright (sueb) Fri 15 Jun 01 20:34
that's a funny question about pseudonyms. I've never used a pen name for my sex work, but when I was a teenage socialist, I belonged to this extrememly disciplined group who insisted i use a pseud to write about LABOR ISSUES. So if you ever find the founding docs for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and notice the name SUE DANIELS, that's me. I started writing about sex because I was writing about politics, and news, and various leftie causes. Sex was a part of that, and one thing just led to another. I wrote erotica because i was in love, and I loved to write, and I often found myself writing something for a lover, or an infatuation, and thinking it was good enough to go public with it. It really didn't take any self- conscious nerve, I was just swept away with my own excitement about writing well, and coming into my sexual maturity. I had a lot of support, socially and intellecutally, to pursue erotica. I was in the thick of a women's political scene which practically insisted you take a public position about sexual controversies of every kind. But I think that was an extraordinary time, in retrospective. I wrote my book to addres the "beginnings" of the many authors I've met in the last couple decades of editing erotica, most of whom did not arrive on a parade float. I'm thinking, you should see the Table of Contents to my book, so it's more clear what I've covered: http://www.susiebright.com/stories/HTRWDStoc.html
Susie Bright (sueb) Fri 15 Jun 01 20:41
MJ, you asked about the most interesting part... I think it's the timing factor that you've so often pointed out to me. Not having to MOVE books, or wait for books, or pay for books, allows this kind of spontanaeity that's rather incredible. If I want to share my boook with a friend, I can send it to them NOW, and they might write me back in an hour to laugh abotu something I wrote on p. 44. the most difficult part is people who are total snobs about ebooks, and act as if you just made an terrible faux pas by even admitting you created one. Their ignorance isn't going to look so darling as the months go by. I actually thought I would experience more of the snob factor than I have. Most people I've contacted to review the book have been very curious, I've popped at least three dozen ebook cherries.
Mike Gunderloy (ffmike123) Fri 15 Jun 01 22:28
(Haven't read the book [yet!] but how could I let this topic go without making an obscure allusion to the videotape that Susie and I are both in, from a decade ago? Susie, thanks for doing my makeup.)
JaNell (janell) Fri 15 Jun 01 22:39
At 37, I feel that I'm just starting to come into my sexual maturity - and certainly feel sexier, and think about it at least as often, as I did when I was much younger and thinner. Maybe I've had enough experience now to know what I want, and I'm less afraid of drawing male attention. Now I can even tell when I'm ovulating just by how much help I'm offered at home repair stores, for instance- most days, a woman has to wave her arms and yell to be waited on, but three days out of the month, I get "Can I help you? every few feet. And I'm not sure if it's me, or them. I can honestly say I only regret the things I didn't do; I was very prudish in my twenties. Relationships seem so much richer now, and, where before I might have been able to separate sex & love, although probably not, now even love has gradations between 'love and must have all the time' and 'love and enjoy when they're there'. Ripening is one of the best things about getting older.
Bedroom eyes, dining room lips (drsmith) Fri 15 Jun 01 23:41
Hi Susie, I haven't gotten the ebook yet, but plan to. Even just looking at the TOC is interesting. There isn't any book publishing on my horizon, but I do find myself thinking about some areas that are tangentially related to topics from your book. WELL-related areas, like: writing and posting erotica here on the Well, or elsewhere, online. We have an Eros conference here, but these days it doesn't see much traffic. I wonder whether your book might provide inspiration for folks to write and post more erotica, here on the Well. Then again, your book might make people think, "Yeah, I can write erotica, this book gives me some great ideas for stories. But why should I post them online? That's like giving them away. Why give them away when I can self-publish them instead?" Then again, I look at your TOC, and it looks like it has all kinds of things that might encourage folks to write, even those of us who have no plans on publishing. All those exercises look especially promising. I remember a while back, Debbie started a topic that was basically a writing exercise, where people were simply asked to write something that began with the words "I remember." Even a simple exercise like that prompted a lot of good writing. Can you post any exercises from your book? (And, of course, share any other thoughts you have on the general subject of posting one's erotica online, as opposed to self-publishing.)
-N. (streak) Sat 16 Jun 01 02:39
Hell, I cohost the eros conference, and I admit our traffic ain't what it should be. Any shot in the arm Susie can suggest would be worth checking out. Me, I keep my WELL erotica to a discreet minimum because I know some of my parents still hang around on here. I consider that a great excuse.
M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sat 16 Jun 01 05:09
I know Susie will weigh in on these questions but having read the book (more than once) I have to tell you - This book makes you horney to write. It just does - you get all fired up and twitching to sit down with a pen or at the keyboard and get at it.
pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Sat 16 Jun 01 08:00
Hi, Susie. I'm vacationing, which is hard work, but will be back to join the conversation next week. Writhe on.
Susie Bright (sueb) Sat 16 Jun 01 09:31
this question of writing candidly on the WEll about anything, especially sex, has been a very prickly subject ever since I arrived here. In some ways we have so much going for us-- a group of unusually articulate posters, a pretty decent mix of men and women, sexually openminded, and just generally playful and provocative crew. On the other hand, the very openess that makes this place so great is also what makes people cautious. In one conf, you may be sharing your expertise in your profession, then if you go blab about your health problems, family crises, or sexlife somewhere else, you wonder if you are compromising yourself in some way. Literally a couple of bad apples have shaken this place to its core on occasion. I've gotten "in trouble" a couple of times because I posted something on the WEll, and some mystery lurker "tattled" on me in such a way as to cause some problem outside the Well. Interstingly, neither of these occasinos had anything to do with a sexual tale! I didn't even think I'd posted anything controversial until it was too late. I think my case is unusual in that anything I say gets treated as more "gossip-worthy" because I am a public figure. I actually had more fun on the WEll as a member when I wasn't as famous! I'm much more discreet here now, but I could say that about my life in general. I remember sometimes we had blind subjects in <eros> that were kind of fun, but I suppose those were a lot ot handle for the hosts. They certainly were some of the more explicit and candid postings... Have we ever had an area that was just for big fat sex lies? Where you coudl guarantee that everything you said would be understood as pure fabrication? I guess it would be hard to make that guarantee!
Susie Bright (sueb) Sat 16 Jun 01 09:32
Oh, and about those exercises, I'll go look in the book and see if there's one that would reproduce well in picospan!
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 16 Jun 01 10:12
Sex lies is a good concept. Funny, I looked immediately at the <lies.> conference, and there is a topic there for lies about sex, but it was short-lived. I had to laugh when I saw who started it. An all-lies topic in the <eros.> conference might be an interesting way to try this again sometime.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 16 Jun 01 10:33
You made me look, gail! And now I know why she's chuckling: <gail> herself started the lying about sex topic in g <lies.>!
Bedroom eyes, dining room lips (drsmith) Sat 16 Jun 01 12:52
Yes. What a great topic! I had no idea there even was a lies conference. I'd say link that topic to Eros, rather than start a new topic. Even the few posts already there are worth saving. Susie, I think you're right about people just plain hesitating before they post certain kinds of material. But I think a bigger factor (to why there isn't more traffic in our Eros conference) is plain old lack of time. There have been various occasions (like when I ran a writing contest, a while back) when people would tell me they wanted to participate, but they were way too busy.
Susannah Indigo (sindigo) Sat 16 Jun 01 13:42
And I recommended that you let people submit their tales anonymously for the WELL erotic writing contest, so they could stay shy:). Susie, your book is most wonderful, and we're featuring it front and center for anyone looking to submit fiction to Clean Sheets! We also have a couple of reviews currently running about Susie's _other_ stuff: a review of Best American Erotica 2001 is at: http://www.cleansheets.com/reviews/book_06.06.01.shtml and a review of Susie's audible.com work is at: http://www.cleansheets.com/reviews/audio_05.30.01.shtml
Bedroom eyes, dining room lips (drsmith) Sat 16 Jun 01 14:46
Yes, you did recommend that -- after the contest! -- and I agree it's a good recommendation. When/if I do another such contest I'll allow anonymity. Although, when I raised that subject, during the contest, I didn't get much feedback. The subject of anonymity and erotic writing interests me. Yes, the anonymity would remove some hurdles that prevent some folks from posting. But that's just one factor; various factors motivate a writer, any sort of writer. Right? I would expect that not having your name on a piece might remove some of the motivation to write it in the first place. Although I guess you could post anonymously, and when & if it gets the feedback you were hoping for, *then* one could choose to take credit.
M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sat 16 Jun 01 15:55
Speaking of posting anonymously.... Susie can you share somethign about what it is like not to be anonymous at all. I've had my share of incidents when people who have read my fiction seem to be expecting or demanding to talk about sexual things just becuase I include alot of sexual information about my characters in my novels. What is it like for you? And ware the any parts of this new book that you wish you could have written anonymously?
Susannah Indigo (sindigo) Sat 16 Jun 01 16:22
> I would expect that not having your name on a piece might remove some of the motivation to write it in the first place I'd say it runs about 50/50, in my experience at Clean Sheets , where we get a ton of submissions -- half are dying to see their real names out there, the other half would die if that happened. So we allow for pseuds, and let them choose.
Susie Bright (sueb) Sat 16 Jun 01 17:08
i wrote a whole section in the book on how writing about sex does-- and does not -- change your sex life, and what people imagine your sex life to be. There's a personal process you go thru, when you're writing something this intimate and sensual, that is very revealing and erotic to yourself. This is entirely different from the image, or celebrity your work engenders, which is largely a big disappointment. One friend said to me, "it IS erotic to be a starfucker, and to have starfucker fantasies, to imagine being with the hottest , the wildest, the craziest-- but to be the object of those fantasies is at best, surreal, and at worst, really lonely and alienating." I find that to be true. I think my interior creative life, and my most personal erotica life, have been affected deeply by erotic reading and writing, and it's all been a gift. But that has NOTHING to do with my public persona, what I look like, or any of the things that come with notoriety.
<drift></drift> (satyr) Sat 16 Jun 01 19:53
M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sun 17 Jun 01 05:31
Susie, one of the things I'd like to know that we never talked about much was - Did you at any time fear that this wasn't a a good idea for a book? After all - your publsiher had turned it down. When you told me about it - I loved it from the first moment I heard about it. But having dealt with publisher's rejections alot I know that even the toughest amoung us have fragile egos sometimes.
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