Sex Sells Kindle Books?

5 Jun

I was still a child when I first discovered my natural talent for writing. I usually enjoy doing the things which I’m good at, so writing became a hobby almost immediately. By the time I was in the fourth grade, I knew what I was going to be when I “grew up.” A writer, of course. I was glad to have figured that out already, so I wouldn’t have to worry about deciding later on.

Fast forward to about the seventh grade. Reality began to sink in and I was fairly disappointed upon realizing my odds of becoming the next Anne Rice or Stephen King. Who was I kidding? I might as well try to become a famous actress, right?

The authors that I enjoyed reading back then were among the few who had managed to make it big, but the reality was that most authors were forced to work day jobs in order to support themselves. Even if they had degrees in English or literature. This realization caused me to become terribly pessimistic about pursuing a career as a writer or author. I tried to shrug it off and told myself that I’d go to college and study something more practical.

As a teenager, I made several attempts at keeping a personal journal. I would start with tons of enthusiasm, jotting down the events of each day. I’d keep at it for a few weeks before eventually abandoning the idea. It simply required more discipline and commitment than I had.

Fast forward another few years. I had just turned eighteen. I’d dropped out of High School a year earlier and decided to leave my grandparent’s home and set out on my own for the first time. I moved from the Oregon Coast up to Portland, a much larger city. It was exciting and I was having the time of my life. I’d rejoined with my mother, who also lived in Portland. We started to party together and get high. Then I found out she was escorting to support her drug habit. I was instantly curious.

It wasn’t long before I decided to give it a try myself, posting my first ad on Craigslist and stretching the truth about my age by about four months. Little white lie. Didn’t want to scare anyone off, after all. Well, it worked. The response was massive.

In spite of all the scatter brained days without sleep that quickly blurred right into weeks, I decided to start keeping a journal once again. I told myself I wouldn’t get all hung up on writing in it every single day, which always seemed to overwhelm me in the past. I’d just write something on the days that I felt like it. Having something was better than having nothing, and I just kept reminding myself of that.

Over the next five years, I would jot down the highlights of my life whenever it struck me. Sometimes I’d write an entry every few days, other times I’d only manage to get a couple of entries in an entire month. But I kept adding to it when I could and when I felt like it.

Then I received an email out of the blue. It was from a total stranger, someone I had never heard of before. He was a non-fiction author from Oregon. Due to the nature of my writing, he asked to remain anonymous. But I checked him out and he was for real. He told me that he thought I should try finding an agent who would help me get my journal published. He said it needed some work, but he thought it was a story which people would find interesting and was sure that my writing had an audience. He even offered to help me with this, for a small percentage of any resulting profits.

I was skeptical at first. I didn’t think my journal was even close to something publishable. I replied to his email and he asked me to work on organizing all the material and to do a bit of editing. At the time, I was busy with other things. I put it off for about a year. Then I went back and put it all in the right order. I sent query letters to a couple dozen literary agents, and only two expressed any interest. One asked for a sample, which I mailed off to New York. They passed on the story. The other agent told me to rework the writing so that it could be a fiction novel.

Then my anonymous author friend suggested another option – self-publishing on Kindle. I hadn’t heard about this concept before, it was totally new to me. I did some research and decided it was much better suited for my particular story and I decided to dive into it head first. I had almost no budget at all, so I spent months learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. I left the journal pretty in-tact and didn’t change much at all.

I ended up publishing “Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort” in November of 2010. Since then, I’ve sold somewhere around 1,400 copies. I originally priced it at $1.99, but raised the price after the first few months (per the advice from my author friend) to $4.99. My best month for sales brought in nearly $500. Even the worst month has brought more than $100. I have only published one eBook on Kindle, so those numbers are fairly decent.

It’s received mixed reviews. Some people have really loved it, others hated it. Especially those people who expected a clear story line and went into it thinking it would be more like a traditional “book,” which it is definitely not. I like to call it “experimental.”

What is truly amazing about all this is one thing: I have never written a book! All I did was keep a very scattered journal and I never intended to publish it in any form, aside from the old blog I posted it on (which my author friend had discovered). I couldn’t imagine actually setting out to write an entire novel. The thought would be too scary for me to ever take on, let alone see through to the end. I have discovered that even telling your own story on your own terms can turn out to be a profitable experiment with self-publishing. So what’s stopping you?

Ashly Lorenzana is a freelance writer, escort, and author of the memoir “Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort.” She lives in the Portland, Oregon area.

GET Sex, Drugs, and Being an Escort HERE

All photos © Ashly Lorenzana 2012 – Used with permission.

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66 Responses to “Sex Sells Kindle Books?”

  1. Eric Goldberg June 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m in love!! :)

    • Editor June 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Me too.

      Ed.

    • mysterio June 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      I read the Ashley guide for kindle writing. I was a bit surprised(shocked) to find out Ashley was in the s*x trade. She provided lots of great pointers on marketing eBooks. I hope she no longer has to be in that business. Thank you to both bookpumper and Ashley for advice on selling eBooks. I hope you are all blessed in all your future efforts.

      • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

        As it turns out, we all have a sexual side to our personalities as human beings. I just happen to have made a career using mine. ;-)

        I still see my regular clients, but I don’t often take on new ones at this point. No need to do that. But the money is good, and I’m friends with lots of my clients. Many of them have been seeing me for five years or more, so we have developed our own relationships over time.

        I’m really glad you enjoyed the kindle guide I wrote, I hope it was helpful and provided some resources that will make publishing for Kindle easier!

  2. Richard Stooker June 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Does sex sells Kindle books? Of course. Look at the 50 Shades of Grey.

    • Editor June 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      Hmm, I am forced to agree.

      Ed.

  3. Kate June 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Good for you! It takes a lot of guts to put your own story out there for the world to see!

  4. Rob R June 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Wow, what a story! I had a similar-but-different way of publishing my first book. I wrote it on the drive home from work in my head, put it on paper when I got home, created a cover, uploaded it and waited. No sales for 10 weeks, but now I sell about 10 copies a month. Not bad, but since then I’ve published 12 more books and I’m constantly writing. Just do what you love!

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

      Good for you! That’s awesome. It definitely takes some time to get off the ground when you are just starting. If you can continue to build up your audience and keep publishing more great books, I am sure you will see an increase in sales as well. I am excited for you and hope it only gets better from here on out.

    • San June 6, 2012 at 6:07 am #

      You are so right!. An idea in your head won’t make any money and I should know, since I have more ideas than I know what to do with! Congrats on getting it out there.

  5. Chuck June 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    I did a little research on the erotic niche and all I can say is Wow! However, you need to decide who you are writing for. If it is for guys, well that is a bit easier. If you want to write erotic/romance for women you better check out a couple of the ebooks on how to write for women.

    I am considering the erotic niche. I have over 1,000 erotic stories from back in the early 1990′s. They would make a great source for the short erotic ebooks.

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      This is a very good point to make. Your audience DOES matter and it makes quite a bit of difference when publishing anything of an erotic nature.

      Men and women require totally different approaches to sexually-themed writing for sure.

      I’ve always written more for a male audience, but it has surprised me how many females have really enjoyed reading it so far as well. I think because I include much of my personal life, it’s more gender-transcendent.

  6. Mary Elliot June 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    I often wish I had kept a journal – there are so many things you think you will always remember, but it’s surprising how the details slip away….

    Well done Ashly for doing it, and having the courage to publish it – an inspiration to us to get on and do it too!

  7. Terry June 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Great job Ashly! I wish you the best of success!

  8. Dan Eitreim June 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I too have wanted to be a writer my whole life. But for me, writing is agonizing! But I powered through and have gotten several books up on Kindle. Congratulations on getting yours out there. To make it such a personal subject must be really scary.

    Dan Eitreim

  9. Brad June 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    What a great story – thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to more insights from the ACF module.

    • Editor June 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      Brad, more coming up!

      Ed.

  10. Paulette Quann June 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Very Interesting story. I have been thinking of dusting off a childhood memoir I started (and almost finished) ten years agop! Now that self-publishing, particularly with kindle, is fairly easy I think I will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Wishing You Success,
    PQuann

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      Go for it! Don’t let your fears hold you back. Put it out there and be fearless about it, only good things will come as a result. Best of luck to you!

  11. Tim June 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Great story, and I gotta admit the photos definitely don’t hurt in keeping the reader’s attention. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on pursuing your dream.

  12. Isabella LaMoureux June 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Interesting read. It takes a lot of self-discovery to create a journal and share that with others. Thanks.

  13. Matson Magleby June 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I have heard of this book before. I really appreciate this blog for inspiring us aspiring authors. I have yet to start my first book, but I have some stories spinning in my head.

  14. Raine June 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    This is a great story at a number of levels, but the big impact for me is Ashley finding a path to doing her writing in a way that works for her and then recognising in the Kindle platform a way to get published without entering into the whole full deal ‘publishing’ world. I think a lot of not very good writing gets published on Kindle but a whole lot of terrific, heartfelt and really, really interesting writing gets published there too. Kindle, like a whole lot of online platforms, is a springboard for creativity that is mind boggling.

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, that’s really one of the points I try to get across to people – don’t let writing a whole book intimidate you! Just write however you can and want to, the rest will fall into place.

      People that start reading my journal expecting a book are usually disappointed and don’t care for it. Those that go into it with a more open mind and realize that it was never written to be a book, usually enjoy it much more.

      There is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say!

  15. Aaron June 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Wow! What an inspiring story. I like writing but it is really hard work. Most of the time, I sit staring at the blank screen, not knowing how to continue with the story.

    Is there a way to pluck inspiration from the air?

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

      My advice is to write what you know. I am not very confident that I could develop an intricate fictional story line, but most of us don’t really have to. What we can do instead is take the people we know and make them our characters. That’s kind of what they are, after all! From there you could get as creative with it as you’d like.

      For non-fiction, I think the writing process is somewhat easier (provided that it’s not highly technical).

  16. Rex June 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Inside scoop stuff to this life is very interesting.

    This has to be one of the greatest author bios ever:

    “Ashly Lorenzana is a freelance writer, escort, and author”

    PS Thans for ACF Paul

    • Editor June 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

      No problem. Yep, that is a unique bio.

      Ed.

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked the bio. I never know what to say in those things!

  17. Greg June 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Enjoyed the story…thank you; and, the best of success to you as you continue forward…your ‘getting started’ story is inspiring to us ‘newbies’!

  18. mish June 5, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    what an inspiring story, sounds like you have made a success of your life

    • Steve June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      Congratulations Ashley on getting your first book published and selling. What do you have in the hopper for your next book?

      • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

        Thanks you! Funny that you mention it, I get that question a lot. I’ve been thinking of compiling a short list of maybe 5 unique experiences I have had with clients and publishing another short book that will focus exclusively on that element. This book has my whole life in it, everything that was happening at the time. I think my next attempt will be to isolate the more noteworthy sexual encounters I’ve had over the years. Should be very interesting!

  19. Sandy June 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I’ve only read bits and pieces of her story, but I pray that she does make enough from her “authoring” to totally leave the escort business behind for good. God gave you this talent. Ashly, please concentrate on your writing full time–it will only get better!

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! Unfortunately it’s much easier to make a profit from sex than it is from writing (at least initially) but I have been working hard to develop my talents and carve out a niche for myself in the writing business. Long way to go, but I’m not giving up yet!

      Also worth mentioning is that escorting comes with many challenges and is by no means “easy” money. Being able to live that lifestyle may be a talent in and of itself. I have tons of respect for other women who are in the business because I know what comes with the territory.

  20. Lauree June 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I was really impressed and congratulate Ashley on her decision to publish on Kindle. As others have said, this article will be inspirational to all who have ever thought of writing, but have not followed through. Ashley has given definite proof one doesn’t have to write a complete novel, or even what is considered a “story-line” for a work to be successful. Best wishes for the future.

    • Editor June 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      Great point Lauree. The definition of what a book is, is changing.

      Ed.

  21. Scott June 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Well, that is a pretty interesting story. Sounds like your life was pretty colorful before you took off on your own. Hmmm another book?

  22. Barbara June 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    I truly applaud you for telling it like it is despite what anyone else may think. I have a few eroticas published so I can honestly say that sex Does sell. Keep up the good work!

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      Thanks for the supportive comments. I really appreciate them and they are what keeps me going and helps me stay positive!

  23. Bobbi June 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    I’m glad Ashly got to finally live her dream of being an author.

  24. Arnold van der Vegt June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Great stuff. Went through a similar process with publishing books. Wrote a couple quite a few years ago and received favorable comments from prospective publishers as well as reviewers but no takers. Both are fiction – one a teens novel and the other an adult novel – both in the thriller, mystery category. Not quite as racy as a sex expose. Am now working on a non fiction book on how to make money almost using a common hobby market approach. Not too much info until I publish it. Had thought of putting it up through a web site but Kindle may be the way to go.

  25. Robert June 5, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I admire your courage. I’m going to head over to your book’s sales page and take a closer look.

  26. Jo June 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Great job Ashly. It’s really nice to see someone be themselves and honest and just do what they love.

  27. Publishing Tips June 6, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    Wow – serious self exposure. Can’t wait for the follow up!
    Cheers
    PT

  28. Chloe June 6, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Great advice. I find memoirs particularly interesting, especially these days when fiction seems to cover the same old thing over and over. I found your Kindle guide really useful too!

  29. Rich Joyce June 6, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    A Journal is inspirational when you need it, and an inspiration to keep writing…

  30. Nicolas June 6, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Congratulations on getting Ebooks done. Are zou expanding in other channels like Apple or Kobo ?

    • Ashly Lorenzana June 6, 2012 at 2:20 am #

      Good question Nicolas, we should all remember that there are other publishing platforms in addition to Kindle!

      I use Lulu for my print books and also added the eBook version there as well, which makes it available in the iBookstore. So that’s pretty cool. I also put it on Smashwords, GoodReads (to buy), Google Books and Barnes and Noble as well.

      Never hurts to experiment with others, but Kindle rules the roost when it comes to sales.

  31. Roger June 6, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Good on you Ashly, I suppose the escort part of your life will take a back seat now you are a published author and have a new direction.

    Roger

  32. Keo June 6, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    Congratulations on your book and following through to get it published on Kindle. Wishing you success on your next publishing venture.

  33. judy June 6, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    What a fascinating story. Thank you book pumper for sharing this link with me. And Ashley thanks for sharing this with everyone.

  34. Neil Plakcy June 6, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I started my writing career with porn shorts for gay male magazines, then moved on to erotic short stories for anthologies. There is a huge market (amply demonstrated by 50 Shades of Gray) for erotic fiction aimed at women readers– both straight fiction and M/M romance — gay male sex aimed at female readers. It’s the equivalent of straight men watching lesbian sex. Publishers like Loose Id, MLR, Samhain & Aspen Mountain are publishing well-written books in print & ebook form. I’ve published a lot of books with publishers & also am experimenting with self-publishing too. Thanks for all your advice!

  35. Jeremy June 6, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Any plans to publish more books? Perhaps dip into the fiction scene?

  36. Richard Allen Golko June 6, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    There’s a heck of a lot that goes into a good novel and it’s just overwhelming. I’m glad you were able t figure it out and I wish you the best.

  37. Olga Shamian June 6, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Hi Ashley,

    It is so wonderful that you conquered it, let it happen for you. I am very glad for you that you could express, do what was yours, and do it in your special way, and it found its way to its craving readers. Yay to us authors and yay to our helping friends. :)

  38. Ac Canchola June 6, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    Wow…Great job, definitely very inspiring
    Good Luck with your next project.

  39. Maz Scales June 6, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    That’s quite a history for such a young lady. I really admire you having the courage to put your story out there for all to read, especially when there are so many narrow minded, critical people who don’t hold back their opinions.

    I give sensual massages for a living and have done so for 10 years now. It gives me more time to pursue my love of painting. There are aspects of what I do that I don’t enjoy and I have been trying for some time now to find another source of income, other than the very precarious one of an artist. Last month I published 4 recipe books on Amazon and another one last week. They are doing surprisingly well and I hope to build on that with some fiction.

    Ashly, if YOU are happy in what you are doing that is all that matters. I wish you lots of luck in all your endeavors.

  40. Steve June 6, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    Great post Ashly and the results speak volumes for you! I’m final editing and creating cover for my first fiction book after some good non-fiction results but your post gave me a couple of great ideas too!

    Thanks to both you and Paul!

  41. capaloha June 6, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Thanks for the advice. Keep writing!

  42. Mondo June 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Nice story.

  43. Marie June 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring.

  44. Mark June 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Kindle is truly the ideal platform for erotica. We can enjoy our ‘dirty’ stories and nobody is the wiser about what we’re reading!

    As a guy, I think it’s a bigger challenge writing for women as the plot plays an important role. There needs to be a blend of romance going on in the steamy-story line.

    Us guys just like the sex!

  45. Beatrice June 7, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    I admire your courage. As you say, sex sells better than writing which is a downside for those of us without such an interesting story. But what can you do for an encore that is possibly as unique? :-) Best of luck, Ashly.

  46. Jo June 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Well done for having the guts to self publish after being rejected by the traditional publishing route. It can be to easy to get one knock and give up altogether.

    I’m delighted to hear a story of someone who wanted to write when they were young and finally achieving their dream. As my Dad always said he wanted to write a book, and when he was 68 he self published his first book, Stolen Birthright, I’m so proud of him for following his dream.

    Are you planning on writing a second book?

  47. Shana Jahsinta Walters June 8, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Good for you Ashly, I hope to achieve success like you one day.

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