Tuesday, July 14, 2009


-----Original Message-----
Just for the record, I don't promote my work. I did a great deal of target marketing to generate readers before I published my first full novel. These days, my books promote themselves. *wink* -- Morgan Hawke

Since I'm a newbie to all this, I'd be interested in hearing what you did exactly. I'm sure others could benefit, as well. Care to share?
-- Christina
I don’t mind telling you, but I should warn you that I have never had any desire to write anything other than adult fiction. I started writing with the INTENT to be an Erotica/Romance author so those readers are who I targeted. However, the techniques I used could very well work for other genre authors.

Morgan’s Secret to Selling Books
To begin with, I have an unfair advantage. I worked in the marketing department of a internet Porn corporation. They bought, rented, and marketed Adult Content – exactly what I was trying to sell and market only in book form.

The number one way a Porn company gains buying viewers is exactly the same way a Food seller gains buyers – free samples. In the porn industry, it’s called a Thumbnail Gallery Post or TGP where they offer one minute snippets of the movies they want you to rent. A food seller puts out a table and offers bite-sized portions of what they want you to buy. A free sample from a book is called an EXCERPT.

Take a look at my website. EVERY story no matter how short has an excerpt. You’ll also see that they’re NOT Teasers. They’re two to four whole chapters. Why so big?

It has been my experience that Teasing (a single page blurb,) only goes so far. It may indeed build an appetite, but not necessarily for what YOU have to offer. It’s all too easy to go to one’s own bookshelf and find something close – something you KNOW is satisfying.

I use a whole chapter or more because I want to thoroughly hook the readers into My Story. I want to make them so hungry for the rest of what I wrote that no other story will satisfy them but That One.

I didn’t stop at posting excerpts only on my website! I posted excerpts on message boards, internet magazines, in Yahoo groups – any place that didn’t cost me anything to join or post. After posting, I paid attention to the reader comments. What the readers liked, and didn’t. I then adjusted my new stories accordingly -- to make them absolutely addictive.

However, that’s not where I gathered my very first readers.

I began gathering my very first readers by posting my earliest short stories (5-10k words) on Literotica.Com an erotic story site – along with every other erotic story site I could find. (Remember, I intended to be an erotica author all along.)

Overnight I had THOUSANDS of people looking at my work, voting on it, and commenting.

For those of you who write in other genres, I can pretty much guarantee that there are story sites out there for whatever you write. I can also guarantee that they would LOVE to have you post free short stories. Sites are always looking for free content to entertain their viewers.

Note: On the Importance of NAMES...!
-- Even on the porn sites, I used a name that looked and sounded like an Actual NAME: Morgan Hawke. I did not use an internet log-on.

If you plan to go further than amateur internet publication, Crystal Vampyrss, Bloody Kiss, or StudHunter68 is NOT how you want your readers to know you! A name like that screams "Porn-writing Grammatically-challenged Amateur!" The last thing any buyer wants is something written by someone that looks like they came from a cheap Porn site.

I wasn’t paid for any of my stories, but the comments from so many readers were invaluable. In a matter of months (5 stories later,) I knew exactly what types of characters my readers preferred, what types of sex scenes and how detailed, preferred locations, settings, themes, what types of relationships and that head-hopping was NOT appreciated. However, the most common and consistent complaints were that my stories were too short. Good news for someone that wanted to write novels.

18 short stories later, I had hundreds of dedicated readers and an invitation to publish with my very first ebook publisher. I also had a half completed manuscript for a novel.

When my first novel was released from that ebook publisher, my readers crashed the server trying to download that ebook. That was without spending money on any sort of advertising or promotional gimmicks: toys, pens, postcards, or bookmarks. The reviews, awards, interviews, and invitations from two other publishers and the agent came later. (They contacted me. I didn’t contact them.)

By the time I published my first book with Kensington, I had been living job-free on my ebook royalties for two whole years – without paying a cent for advertising.

“All money flows TO the author.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Believe me, it’s TRUE. I live it every day. The only money that goes to promoting my work is my website, which costs me 15 dollars a YEAR and I maintain it myself. I don’t bother with magazines or internet ads and I certainly don’t waste my money on promotional stuff that’s only going to get tossed anyway.

I also don’t waste my money mailing books to reviewers. If they want to review my book that badly, they can ask the publisher to send them a copy. By the way, RT Magazine reviewed two of my books despite the fact that I never sent them a copy. I’m not about to pay their sky-high price for the advertising that’s supposed to guarantee a review.

Most importantly, I only go to book signings and conventions when someone else is paying the hotel and travel expenses. (I’ve been to the RT convention three times, by the way.)

I don’t pay One Cent for advertising anywhere. I don’t need to. My readers know where to find my books. It doesn’t even matter who I publish with. My readers will buy them no matter who puts the book out.

Why is that?

The number one rule in advertising is:

“If you have a good product,
it will practically sell itself.”

This is TRUE. No matter how good the packaging or marketing strategy, if the book under that spectacular cover is Crap that author has slit their own throat.

Readers talk to each other. Always have – always will.

I use Large excerpts to prove to my readers that what they’re about to spend their hard-earned money on ISN’T crap. It’s well written and entertaining. It has characters they’ll like, exotic places, and steamy situations. It’s everything they want to read.

And that’s all the advertising I need.

Morgan Hawke


  1. Thanks for this excellent marketing plan Morgan. I am currently a magazine journalist for the sex genre, but I am looking to branch into the fictional side of the sex genre soon. All about the income: when you write full-time, you never tread lightly. You go all in!

  2. Hi Jessie, I'm glad you liked my article!

    I wrote full-time long before I quit the day job. Every moment I wasn't slaving away as the porn company's publicist and copywriter (which included writing articles that were published in AVN & Klixxx magazines,) I WROTE. (Research is also part of the writing process, by the way.)

    But then, writing adult fiction isn't merely a career for me, it's an obsession.

    The book that allowed me to quit my day job...?

  3. I enjoy your work and look forward to new posts on your blog. Your writing advice is so friendly and to the point. It is reassuring to hear from a successful author that I don't need to be spending my life's saving on freebies and advertising before anyone will buy my book. The idea I can just focus on what I love to do (write!) is fabulous to hear.

  4. Hey Jade,
    -- You DON'T need to spend your life's saving on freebies and advertising. You CAN just focus on your writing.

    I DID do advertising but it was all targeted directly to my readers and where my readers were -- the Yahoo groups, the free story sites, the erotica forums, the online magazines...

    There is No Reason to waste your money -- especially when you don't have it!

  5. Good reminder. This is ALL I've been doing aside from listening to the ONE publisher who knows her shit.

    Thanks hon.

  6. Morgan, that is great advice. Of course it doesn't hurt at all that your writing is like crack. Way too addictive. I wanna be you when I grow up.

  7. "Of course it doesn't hurt at all that your writing is like crack. Way too addictive."

    -- Best compliment EVER! Thank you!
    I really don't think you wanna be me. mostly because the road that made me what I am today is Not one I'd want anyone to have to suffer.