What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* S.L. Hannah was born in Poland, grew up in Canada, and moved to Southern California to pursue her love of single-engine airplanes. The Need is her first erotic thriller. The manuscript won the 2013 Florida Romance Writers Golden Palm Contest for New Adult Romance, and is an adaptation of a screenplay about a woman struggling to free herself from her lover’s physical and emotional binds. Buzz about the break-out novel calls it “one powerful piece of writing…creepy as hell.” S.L. Hannah lives in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not writing fiction, she continues to solve the aviation problems of the world.
Today S.L. Hannah will be talking about the best and worst pieces of writing advice she's ever received.
1. Join RWA.
* When I finished writing my third book I really hit a wall. I was not getting the type of sales I wanted. I felt like everything that I was trying in the marketing department was failing, and I was second-guessing my ambitions as an author.
* I somehow stumbled upon the LA Romance Authors (LARA) group while doing a web search and went to one of their monthly meetings. I immediately felt welcomed and informed, and then got to talking with one of the members after the meeting who suggested I not only join LARA, but Romance Writers of America (RWA). It really was a great piece of advice and if you’re going to endeavor into writing romance I consider it a priority. Both are extremely supportive and knowledgeable groups. I have learned so much since joining not only about the business side of things, but also about the craft of writing.
2. Hire a professional book cover artist.
* I am a pretty good graphic designer and have done design work for myself and certain clients, but book covers are a whole different ball game. It took me a while to realize that because in the beginning I thought all design was the same. However, a professional book cover artist is looking at a lot more book covers than you are and will know based on your genre what is appropriate and what is too out-of-the-box. At the end of the day, the book cover is mostly what is going to sell your book. In fact, if your book isn’t selling, you should strongly consider changing your book cover or your price, or both. Plus, just like you should never publish a book without a professional editor, you should have a professional cover artist at least look at the book cover you’ve created.
3. Write every day.
* There is nothing leisurely about becoming an author because in order to keep growing your fan base you have to keep writing and publishing books, and that demands an awesome amount of time and discipline. And the worst thing you can do is take big chunks of time off from your writing. I’m not saying that you can’t ever take a vacation, but especially if you’re trying to finish a book you need to face that blank page every day, even if you only end up mustering a dozen words. It’s better to face your demons than ignore them, because eventually that demon will turn into a great 50,000 word manuscript.
1. Stop writing smut.
* There is a lot of people that look at romance writers as smut peddlers so there can be stigma attached to this genre, even though it is the highest grossing genre in fiction. Many years ago, when someone first tried to burst my bubble, my heart pounded loudly in my chest and my face felt very hot. I had no idea how to defend what I was writing so I pretended to laugh it off, like, you have no idea what you’re talking about, and quickly walked away.
* When people ask me now what I write, I proudly tell them romance, erotica…anything having to do with the female perspective on relationships and sexuality. I try to engage and inform, even if they look uncomfortable while I’m suggesting a few of my favorite titles, like Nine and a Half Weeks, and explain how psychologically complex and riveting romance novels can be.
2. Write what everyone’s reading.
* This to me is code for “follow the trend”. Don’t get me wrong, I think trends happen for a reason, and I have seen some authors capitalize by writing a book in a genre that’s taking off, but if you’re only writing in hopes of making money off a trend, you’re likely in for disappointment. Writing a book does not guarantee hitting the lotto. If a genre is taking off and you legitimately have a great story idea that can follow suit, then go for it, but if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons it will likely show through in your final product.
3. Don’t invest your money in a hobby.
* Except writing isn’t a hobby for me anymore and it’s pretty much impossible to go from hobby to any type of business without an investment. If you’re self-publishing, you’re paying for everything from an editor to whoever is setting up your blog tour. Even if you’re fortunate enough to get a publisher you will still have to invest some of your own money in marketing efforts. Marketing is always, and should always be your biggest book publishing cost. In the movie business, the rule of thumb is, whatever you spend producing the movie, should be your budget for marketing. I would argue, it can be more than that, and it’s very similar in the publishing world.
* Straight-laced coed Angie has never felt daring enough to…experiment. Until tonight. The skin around Heather’s lips is soft, unlike the stubble Erik lets grow in, and the night unfolds like an erotic dream, tapping into an unexplored part of Angie’s body and mind.
* But Heather’s seduction turns into a nightmare when Angie wakes up tied to the bed and is told she can’t leave. Alternately seduced and tormented by her lover-turned-captor, Angie is pulled ever deeper into a twisted world of pain-for-pleasure and multimedia exploits. As the stakes rise, both women give into a desire for connections neither has had, and Angie’s struggle to escape becomes a bigger dilemma: Would she leave if she could?
* Winner of the Golden Palm Contest for New Adult Romance, this erotic thriller dares to explore the darker side of our fantasies and their sometimes unintended consequences.
* She saunters back to where we’re standing and places one of the daggers into Rachel’s opened hand. Rachel smiles wide, as if she’s been waiting to do this all along.
* “Which brings me to you,” she says, thrusting the other dagger against my chest. It lands heavily and almost slips from my fingers.
* “I’ve come to the conclusion that your problem is you’re not sure where your loyalties lie.” She retrieves the key from around her neck. “And that’s not good for business.” She takes a few steps back and hangs the key around Rachel’s neck. “Or pleasure.”
* Moments later, she’s slithering behind me. The fingers of her good hand swim lightly across my shoulders and neck. Her lips brush against my ear. “I love you, Angie,” she whispers, “but I’m ready to let you go.”
* The statement both crushes and relieves me. I almost don’t want it to be true. As much as I hate her for hurting me in so many ways, I still love her too. I’ve experienced more emotional and sexual highs and lows with her in one week than I have in my entire life. And part of me doesn’t want that to end. What is normal supposed to look like after this?
ANNOUNCEMENT! S.L. Hannah will be awarding one commenter a paperback copy of The Need (U.S./Canada only for book) and one commenter a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour! So be sure to leave a comment AND use the Rafflecopter below. Also, visit the other tour stops for a greater chance of winning!
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