Tricks of the Trade
Genre: M/F, Contemporary Romance
Twenty-something, sexually frustrated plumber, Will Last, is fascinated by an attractive age 40+ woman he sees in the plumbing fixtures isle of a big box store. When he casually strolls her way she strikes up a conversation and begs him to do some emergency plumbing repairs for her.
Mitzi Callahan soon has Will wrapped around her little finger. After showing her a plumbers trick for a quick repair, Mitzi reveals herself as a sex trainer and returns the favor by showing Will a trick or two in the bedroom.
Mitzi opens his world to the enchantment of older women and introduces him to one of her students, Lucy Park. Sparks fly between Will and Lucy while dancing at the club where they meet, but they must reach out across age and cultural barriers to find the romantic connection they both seek.
Unexpected Hurtles for the Novice Author
Unexpected Hurdles for the Novice Author
Hi, I’m Spencer Dryden, author of “Tricks of the Trade” a new release from Fireborn Publishing.
Although this is my sixth stand alone publication, my first book, Bliss, was published only a little more than a year ago ( April 14th 2014) by Breathless Press, which unfortunately has recently closed it’s doors. More on this later. But for now I can use several of my books published by Breathless as demonstrations without being overly self-promotional as the books mentioned here are no longer available.
I came into fiction writing at the encouragement of a friend who has been successful as a novelist and a playwright (success defined as: he’s made a living wage at his craft). He gave me three rules I call Leicht’s Laws: 1) writing is, for you; 2) publishing is for others; 3) marketplace success is a convergence of highly unlikely events.
In a recent phone conversation, we both agreed that despite the ego boost and in his case the royalties, being a writer is a lot more fun than being an author. Living under the second law has had some unexpected surprises. I thought I’d deal with one for any aspiring writer who may read this post. Its about titles.
My works often have a title before I begin serious writing. A title makes the project ‘real’ in my mind. I think it’s vitally important, at least it is for me, that a story be ‘real’ as early as possible. I try to envision a finished product, even if I don’t have a complete story line. Nothing does that better for me than a title. The reason is, I know I’m going to get stuck at some point. Giving a manuscript a name is a reminder to keep plowing ahead. My mentor also said, “writers, write, novelists finish.”
My first stand alone work, Bliss is a perfect example of a poorly chosen title. Although there are many layers of meaning in the title, it was the title for a much different work when I sat down to compose. Along the way it morphed into a woman’s struggle with sexual shame. She and her husband live in the mythical town of Bliss, New Hampshire which is beginning to turn into a feminist Stepford for her. Her husband has lost sexual interest in her, she’s being tormented by a born again pastor at their church and she is still reeling from a sexual assault as a child.
I intended the original story to be comedic in that it would pit my heroine, the corporate attorney for the town’s biggest employer, Bliss Industries, a sex toy manufacturer, against a local pastor on a PR fueled purity kick who is trying to get the business closed.
As I started writing the story, maybe as part of the magic or writing, the story emerged with my heroine as a CPA who ends up battling with the mega church pastor over shady finances she uncovers when doing an audit. I never changed the name. I should have, not only was it confusing, worse, there are hundreds of books with the title Bliss.
In case you live under a rock, when a buyer does a title search, Amazon presents books with identical titles in rank order. If you try to find Bliss with a title inquiry, it is invisible. I liked the subtleties of the title but they would only be apparent to someone who has READ the book. The cover is evocative of the multiple meanings—again I patted myself on the back for my cleverness—but if people don’t see the book what the hell is the point?
Test your title, tweak it a little to reduce being lost in the clutter. Eventually you have to enter the Amazon jungle (pun intended) . Under the third law, marketing success is out of your control but you have a better chance if your book stands out from the crowd. That begins with a title.
I was better at choosing a title for my second story, Love Above See Level. There is only one book with this title on Amazon. Still, I got in a fun play on words. It is a short story about a surfer/beach bum who is smitten by a woman who is six-feet seven inches tall. Unfortunately by the time you read this, the book will no longer be available. I am hoping to find another home for it. It’s a fun little story with a of a kind title.
Next, I wrote a Holiday theme story for an annual Breathless Press collection, Then, One Frozen Christmas Eve. which played off the lyrics to the famous Christmas tune, also one of a kind on Amazon in its brief life.
Another issue with titles is the pernicious Amazon censorship spasms. Amazon has many masters, two of which are in constant competition, the tremendous volume of business generated by erotic literature vs the puritanical nabobs who want Amazon to censor, destroy, and burn anything hinting of pornography. Fifty Shades of Grey owes some of it’s success to concealing its identity with both cover art and title.
From anecdotal evidence, it appears Amazon is more harsh with indie authors than with publishers. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid obvious pornographic content in your title. The title of my last book published by Breathless was The Substitute. It’s a story about a union journeyman plumber who risks his career by substituting for his buddy who owns a non-union plumbing shop. The fun starts when the substitute, “Gary”, discovers at his first call that the client is expecting sex and not plumbing services. The original title was The Accidental Gigolo, which I felt was descriptive but also indicative of my light hearted treatment of the subject. But I went with the less innocuous, The Substitute, out of concern for Amazon’s fickle censorship policies. There are lots of books called by that title. In this case hiding was an acceptable behavior.
Give you title a test for visibility and offensiveability (my addition to the English language) before setting it in stone.
Thanks for spending some time with me today. I welcome you questions and comments.
Spencer Dryden is a new writer, but an old guy on the threshold of draining any reserves left in Medicare and Social Security.
In real life he is a handyman, an at-home dad, inventor and web videographer living a quiet life in the frozen tundra of Minnesota (USA).
Like all writers he has a cat but they don’t get along well. He can be found at the usual writer hangouts: