Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why I have Decided to Self-Publish Instead of Legacy Publish

Recently, someone sent me an e-mail asking if I intended to send my manuscript to actual publishers (a.k.a. legacy publishers such as Hachette, Penguin Group, or HarperCollins) instead of self-publishing through Amazon. He suggested that a legacy published book would appear "more professional" than a self-published book, and I would benefit more in the long run. While I was flattered that this person had a high opinion of my writing, I disagree with his stance on legacy publishing for many reasons.

A few years ago, I dated a lady who had two romance novels published through HarperCollins. She had many friends and acquaintances who were also published authors, and I met many of them through her, including her mother who made The New York Times Best Sellers list several times over. I'm not going to list any of their names because I don't think they'd want me to divulge the following information about them. Let's just say that meeting these people shook up my perceptions of the publishing industry.

I used to equate published authors as the epitome of success in the creative writing field. They were a shining example of someone who made it in the industry. I assumed that they earned a lot of money and made a living doing something they loved, which is writing.

Then I met these authors and faced a bitter shock. Most of them were poor. Half of them had to continue their day time jobs (one worked at Best Buy while another worked at Barnes & Nobles) while the other half lived off government handouts. All of them entered into dubious contracts with the publishers where they hardly earned any money while the publishers kept most of the profits. On top of that, the publisher owns all the rights to their books, including the story, the series, the characters, or whatever else the author devises.

The only exception was my ex-girlfriend's mother, and that was because she sold millions of books. Even then, her publishers constantly screwed her over. She once had to threaten legal action against one publisher and managed to get her way when she made a public statement to her fans about the publisher's actions. Most of the time, she simply resigned to whatever fate the publisher had in store for her. My ex's mother made a decent living off of her book sales, but it seemed like the publishing companies kept the majority of the profits, along with the rights to her stories and characters.

The rest of the authors entered into shabby contracts where they signed all their rights away for a meager advance (an advance is the amount of money paid to the author to make a living while he or she writes the novel) and a small percentage of the royalties from each book sale. Only the bestsellers got offers good enough to sustain a normal living. The rest of the authors had to live off of regular jobs. Some resorted to government handouts because they feel that that anything beyond writing is beneath them, so they dipped into the taxpayers' pockets for sustenance.

The atrocities would not end there.

Most authors usually get a one or two print run, where their books would be on the store shelves for a limited time. Usually, they would be lucky to have two books on the shelf at Barnes & Nobles with the spine facing out so the customers would have to pull the book out just to view the cover. After a short time, their books would disappear off the shelves, and unless they sold exceptionally well, they would never appear again. My ex-girlfriend would occasionally have one book on the shelf at a random Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or Borders store, and even then, it was difficult to find in the stacks of romance novels surrounding it.

The authors had no say over their book covers either. Even my ex's mother had to accept whatever cover the publisher had in mind. Most of the time, these covers had nothing to do at all with the book. Unfortunately, most people judge a book by its cover. A great cover can sell a shitty book. So when a publisher decides the cover of the book, the chances of getting a good cover are about as consistent as winning a game of roulette.

Then, there's the money. Authors earn "royalties" from book sales, which is a small percentage. Hardcover books earn more royalties than paperbacks. The percentages differ according to contracts, but the average royalty rate for a paperback tends to fall in the 6% range. That means an author having a paperback book on the shelves at a retail of $7.00 would make $.42 royalty on each copy sold. So if that author sold 10,000 copies of that book, he or she would only made $4,200. Considering that it usually takes 2 years for their books to reach the shelves once the final manuscript is submitted, that's not very much money.

Many authors have their contracts cancelled because the initial orders of their books do not reach the desired amount. Overall, authors constantly bend over to get fucked in the ass by their publishers.

With all of this given bullshit associated with legacy publishing, I chose to go with self-publishing. Here are my following reasons:

- I receive a 70% royalty rate for each ebook sold through Amazon. Even if I sell my book for 3.99 (which is cheaper than the $7.00 paperback price tag I listed earlier, I would earn $2.79 for each book sold. If I sold 10,000 books, then I would earn $27,900. That's a lot better than the $4,200 from the legacy published paperback sales of 6% royalties.

- I set the price of my book. Cheaper price means more sale. Most legacy publishers place their ebooks at a higher price than their paperback counterparts. There is no reason why an ebook should be $15 when there are no printing and distributing costs involved. Legacy publishers don't understand this concept.

- I own the rights to my book. Not the publishers.

- I can make changes to my book at anytime.

- My book stays on Amazon indefinitely (or until Amazon or whatever publisher goes under, which is unlikely). I don't have to worry about the publisher yanking the plug to my book, even if my book doesn't sell well.

- I choose the cover of my book.

- I can sell through other self-publishing outlets such as Smashwords instead of Amazon.

- I can sell paperback copies of my book via print-on-demand, and control the price. In fact, I plan to order several hundred physical copies of my books and sell them at bachelorette parties.

- Once I complete my manuscript (receive the final edit), I can upload it and have it on the market immediately. I don't have to wait a year or two without pay for the publisher, printer, and distributor to drag their feet with my product.

- I don't have to send hundreds of query letters to literary agents (who will take 15% cut of my profits) in hopes that one will accept me and negotiate a contract with a publisher that will involve signing all of my rights and most of my profits away.


The above reasons are just what I can remember off the top of my head. Now there are some people who think that legacy publishing is superior. They say that self-publishers don't have the "quality writing" of legacy published authors and "cannot hack it" in the industry. That kind of statement may have been true a decade ago, but more and more legacy published authors are turning to self-publishing as a means to distribute their product because of the prominence of ebook readers and distributors now. Besides, there are many low-quality legacy published authors that no one would ever bother to read.

Legacy published does not determine quality of a book. The customers do. They are smart enough to determine if they like something or not. If someone self-published a load of rubbish, then no one is going to buy it. A perfect analogy of this is Minecraft, the video game. This is one of the best-selling games out right now and it comes from an indie developer, not a big corporation. The customers determined its success.

There is the misconception that legacy publishers will market their authors, thus earning them more sales, and that self-publishers have no one to market. That may be true for big time authors like Stephen King or J.K. Rowlings. This misconception does not take in account the average published author. In fact, most of the authors I have met constantly bitched and moaned about their publishers telling them that it was their responsibility to do the marketing. They assumed that their publishers would market for them. Many of them considered marketing and sales beneath them.

That said, I had a literary agent interested in the manuscript of my memoir. Given what I've seen of the legacy publishing industry, I'm going to stick to self-publishing. I don't mind marketing on my own, and my blog gets enough web traffic that it's a good place to start. I can also sell physical copies of my books at my shows. From there, the networking possibilities are endless.

I believe that ebooks are the future of publishing. They will gradually replace paperback books just as digital music has replaced CDs and cassette tapes, and steaming movies has replaced movie rentals such as Blockbuster. Sure there will be the person who prefers the physical copy of books, but the big six publishing companies can no longer act as the gatekeepers to determine what books are good enough for people to read. The customers will do that.

That's why I'm self-publishing. I have more to gain from it than legacy publishing. And I maintain all the control.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Palooza

I stripped for a group from Ohio last night at a rental house in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They called their event a Palooza, meaning a large party, even though it was really a bachelorette party resembling every other bachelorette party. There were 23 women in attendance, most of them blonde and all of them shrieking loud enough to piss their neighbors off.
They requested a cowboy outfit, so I wore leather pants, my cowboy boots, a white button-down shirt, and a black cowboy hat.
The women hovered in the early 20’s age range, but many of their mothers were present. Only one of the mothers participated with me. The rest watched, cheered, and laughed as I laid their daughters spread eagle on the living room and humped them.
For some reason, everyone wanted me to focus my attention on Lauren more so than the bride. Lauren was a tall and cute brunette. I didn’t even notice her until the bride mentioned her and pointed. Lauren hid in the kitchen, and buried her face into her hands when the crowd pointed her out. She wanted to disappear, but her friends chanted her name until she relented. Peer pressure is a bitch sometimes.
As I dragged her out from the kitchen, I asked the crowd, “So why is it so special that I get Lauren? Is there something I need to know?”
“Lauren is really innocent,” one girl shouted.
“Yeah, she’s a virgin!”
“Teach her a thing or two,” another girl said.
Everyone laughed. Lauren turned as red as a fresh tomato. I made sure to give her an extra amount of intimate contact. The room erupted in glee as I teabagged her. Lauren took all of the embarrassing antics in stride, smiling and hugging me once it was over.
The crowd wanted more as their hour drew to an end, but I was done. Due to the presence of the mothers, there was only so much I could do in an hour’s time frame before my routine became repetitive. We took pictures together, and everyone thanked me with faces full of smiles.
On my way out, I ran into one of the mothers. She told me that two of her daughters were in there. One ran from me, but her other daughter bore the onslaught of my performance.
Stripping in front of a mother and daughter combination was nothing new to me, but I always wondered how the mothers felt as they watched their daughters engage in salacious acts with a complete stranger. I never thought to ask about it until now.  
“Just curious, how do you feel watching a male stripper do bad things to your daughters?” I asked the mother. “Does it feel weird at all?”
“Oh, pretty innocuous about it,” she replied. “It’s probably weird for my daughters because I’m watching. But I think it’s pretty funny.”
As she told me this, two girls strode up us wearing a pair of men’s white underwear that encompassed the both of them. One girl, facing forward, had the crotch end on, and the other girl, directly behind her wore the ass end of the underwear. The underwear appeared stretched to its seams and ready to rip apart any moment. They waddled around the living room lacking coordination like they were competing in a three-legged race.
I assumed that the other girls had something planned for later with this shared underwear phenomenon. Women come up with some pretty creative games.  


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fickle Females

Saturday - July 13, 2014

Last night my agent booked me for two parties. The first one at 7 P.M. and the second one at 9 P.M.

There was one problem though. The drive time between the two parties was two hours.

My entire performance tends to last about an hour. It takes me that long to cycle through a variety of activities and girls. The customers expect an hour due to the large amount of money they hand out, so anything less than that causes dissatisfaction.

Tardiness also causes dissatisfaction. There was no way I would make the second party by 9 P.M., even if were to speed down the interstate.

I called the second party to ask if I could bump the time to 10 P.M. The girl who answered said that the time had already been delayed to 9 P.M. She originally requested that I show up at 8. "We plan on hitting up the clubs once you leave and we don't wanna go out too late," she said.

Because the first party booked me a week in advance, I had to honor their 7 o'clock reservation. As a result, I had to cancel my second show.

I called my agent and told him.

"No problem," he said. "I'll just get another guy to do it."

The rest of my evening continued as planned.

The first party, a surprise 40th birthday party, was amazing. It was located in an upscale neighborhood that had a pristine golf course. The ladies showered me with money like they had too much of it. They eagerly participated in all my activities, and everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included. I left with over a hundred dollars in tips.

Once I got home, I made dinner and sat down to relax. I was tired, hungry, and wanted to relax in my living room for the rest of the evening.

Then at 9:48 P.M. the phone rang.

It was the customers from the second party, the one I had to cancel.

"Hey, we're trying to call your company and no one is answering," she said. "I figured that you may know someone we can talk to."

"What's wrong?" I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.

"Well, your company told us that they got an Italian guy to show up. So we told the security at the front gate of our condo that an Italian guy would show up ... Well, a guy showed up, but he looks nothing like the picture. First of all, he's black. He definitely does not match the picture of the guy we picked. And he has some other guy with him, which is just weird. We gave security the description and name of an Italian guy. They won't let this guy and his friend in, and we don't really want them to come into our place."

"I'd like to help you," I offered. "But I probably won't be able to get a hold of my agent. He's pretty busy with the phones on Saturdays."

"Can you come strip for us?" she asked.

"I don't feel comfortable taking another guy's job from him," I said. "And it'd take me two hours to get ready and get out there."

"I see," she said. "Wait, I think your company is calling. Let me take this. I'll text you afterwards. Bye."

As soon as I got off the phone, my agent sent me this text message: "Call the Orange Beach party. They may take you."

I replied: "Yes. They wanted me to it. I think they turned the other guy away."

My phone rang again. This time it was my agent.

"These fuckin' racist bitches are really pissin' me off," he said in a tone mixed with anger and exasperation. "They don't want the guy who showed up because they think he's black. He's fuckin' LATINO! I told them that, but they still think he's black. They're demanding a white guy, even though this guy drove an hour and a half to their location. Anyway, if you want to still do this party, it's yours."

"The earliest I can get out there is midnight," I said. "And they've already been flaky twice tonight. The last thing I want to do is drive all the way out there just for them to give me attitude or turn me away."

"I hear ya," he said. "I mean, you offered to do they show at 10 P.M. earlier and they said it was too late. Now it's fuckin' 10 o'clock and these dumb bitches want you to drive out there. If they took the time you originally said, then we wouldn't even have this problem right now. I swear, sometimes I just want to reach my hand through the phone and choke the shit out of some of these bitches."

"Just curious. Do male customers who book female strippers ever give you these problems"

"Not very often. It's almost always the women. They complain about every fuckin' thing imaginable. Guys are easy. Just send them a hot girl with ass and titties and they're happy. Girls are a constant pain in my fuckin' asshole. They want some fantasy guy that they been dreaming about for the last 20 years to suddenly appear and strip for them, and if you don't send them someone that perfectly fits that bill, they raise hell. They bitch when the guy is 3 minutes late. They bitch about everything. Like I said, I'd like to just smack 'em a bunch of times."

In the end, I decided against doing the party. My agent was more than understanding.

After I got off the phone, the girl from the second party sent me a text message asking me to come out to perform. She said I could show up around midnight.

I did not reply.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Release Coming Soon

The Cover of the Book
My book is complete and going through the final editing stages right now. It will be released later this month (or beginning of August at the very latest) for the Amazon Kindle. Other mediums will follow, including physical copies for those who dislike ebook readers.

The book will be a complete guide on how to become a male stripper, covering the insides of the industry and the types of work out there. It will also explain how to deal with customers, agents, and potential problems on the job.

In addition to the how-to guide, the book will contain the following exclusives:

- A list of companies that are hiring male strippers

- Candid interviews with seasoned male strippers and booking agents.

- A closer look at the darker side of male stripping

- 4 new exclusive and never-seen-before stories.




Monday, June 30, 2014

Party Log: June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27

Bachelorette party.

Orange Beach, Alabama.

7 girls.


My agent called me last Friday and asked if I wanted to do a last minute party for a group of Tennessee girls at 3 p.m. Unfortunately, I had a work meeting that afternoon and would be unavailable till later that night. He called them back, relayed that information, and rescheduled a show for 9 p.m.

"I told these girls you were in the military and had to work earlier," he said when he called me back. "They sound horny for you now."

I laughed. Based on his words, I could tell that this would be a great crowd. My call to the customer confirmed this assumption. Her name was Katrina, and she sounded ecstatic over the phone. "We're sooo looking forward to this!" she said. "This is for my sister, and she always wanted a male stripper."

"Have you ever had a male stripper before?" I asked. I needed to know, because male stripper virgins usually need a quick guide on what to do.

"Once," Katrina said. "For my bachelorette party a couple years ago. He was terrible. So terrible that it was funny! I ended up dancing for him. He didn't even know what he was doing. He said it was his first time stripping and all."

Now I knew that the bar was set really low. All I had to do was show up and pull off my normal routine, and these girls would be happy. "Can't believe his company sent him alone to his first party," I said.

I showed up in a cop uniform, as Katrina requested. Her little sister, the bride, bought into the charade. She thought that I was the actual police until I began taking my shirt off in front of her and dancing. She squealed in pleasant surprise. She loved my performance, but I had to regulate my physical interaction with her to a more tame level. She did not want to incur her future husband's wrath, according to her words.

The other girls were more receptive towards my perverted activities. Especially Katrina. I gave her a male stripper version of a lap dance, which involved rubbing my frontal bulge against her pussy. She said, "Wow, I think I suddenly feel very hot."

"And wet," I joked.

Everyone laughed. The other activities we did consisted of body shots and blindfolds. The girls played along flawlessly. I couldn't have asked for a better crowd. My performance had the King Midas touch where anything and everything I did was golden.

Once I was done, the girls commented about how much better I was than the last male stripper. Out of curiosity, I asked what he did.

"He just said that it was his first time," one girl said.

"Yeah, he just kept taking off clothes after clothes," Katrina said. "He was wearing layers of clothes. And he didn't have a good body or was good looking. I was very disappointed and wanted him to leave, but the other girls told me that he was expensive, so I had to tolerate him. So I was like ... fuck it ... I'll make the best of it, so I started dancing for him and all the other girls and made it into a good time.

"But we loved your performance, Dion! That was what I wanted out of a male stripper," Katrina said.

"Well, thank you. But it was your group that made it fun. You and your friends participated in all my activities and were enthusiastic about it all. That's what makes a good party. It's the male stripper and the audience meeting at the center, and your group met me more than halfway."

Everyone was flattered by my response, but it was the truth. Participation is key to any show. Imagine going to a rock concert where no one sings or claps along. The audience just sits there in silence listening passively to the music. In turn, their dullness affects the band on stage, preventing them from drawing any sense of motivation or energy. Crowd reactions make or break a show, whether it's a rock band, a comedian, or a male stripper.