New Release: Close Enough (High Rise Novella Four) by Harper Bliss

Close EnoughToday we’re releasing Close Enough by Harper Bliss the fourth and last instalment in the High Rise series.

Here’s the blurb
Scarred by the cruel break-up with her former girlfriend, Nat has difficulty committing to Isabella. Isabella is not interested in a casual relationship, but she finds it hard to let Nat go. Will Nat and Isabella find the common ground to overcome the vast differences between their personalities and lifestyle?

And here are the FREE download links (until Sunday 31 March)
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE / Amazon CA / Amazon FR / Amazon ES / Amazon IT

You could read Close Enough as a standalone title, but we would recommend reading the previous novellas beforehand. To refresh your memory, we’ve made Fool for Love (High Rise Novella One) and Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two) free as well for the next two days.

Here are the download links (until Friday 29 March)

Fool for Love (High Rise Novella One)
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE / Amazon CA / Amazon FR / Amazon IT / Amazon ES

Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two)
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE / Amazon CA / Amazon FR / Amazon IT / Amazon ES

This marks the final episode of this sexy series set in Hong Kong. Early April we will publish all four of them bundled together as e-book and paperback. Enjoy!

Harper goes serial and why we love KDP Select

Fool for Love Ladylit is proud to publish Fool for Love, Harper Bliss’s first novella in the brand new High Rise series.

Here’s the blurb:
Betrayed by her long-term girlfriend, Alex moves into The Ivy to share a flat with her friend Nat. When she meets their neighbour Maddie, a jaded expat who’s had about enough of Hong Kong’s demanding life style, both Maddie and Alex are forced to reassess their warped view on love.

This new title is novella-length, meaning 23.000 words of lesbian erotic romance goodness. Fool for Love is free until Saturday on Amazon, so go grab your copy now!

The next High Rise novella will be released just before Christmas.

Why is Fool for Love only available on Amazon?
Once again, we’ve opted to put our latest release in the KDP Select program. This allows us to do a big promotion off the bat, by giving Fool for Love away for free the first five days. I wish I could say we’re only doing this out of the goodness of our own heart, but publishing is a business just like any other and, business-wise, KDP Select has been very good for us.

The first book we put in was Learning Curve which, as a result, has been in Amazon’s lesbian best sellers list since the beginning of August. Quite a feat for a short erotica story. Summer Heat and Younger Than Yesterday followed the same pattern, soaring into the top 20 a few days after their release date, and remaining there until now. (In fact, Younger Than Yesterday has been holding steady on number five the past few days.)

In all honesty, we never expected this kind of immediate success. We believed, like with many good things, it would be a slow build, with sales increasing after every new release, but KDP Select blew all of our expectations right out of the water.

I’m not saying that every book put into KDP Select will be a success. A few other key elements need to be present for a book to work. It needs to be good, for starters. (You may think this is a no-brainer, but, sadly, it’s not.) You need an attractive cover and, last but not least, you need to publish in a competitive category.

Erotica as a genre has been doing astonishingly well in the aftermath of Fifty Shades of Grey and I believe Harper’s books are filling a certain void in lesbian erotic fiction. All too often, lesbian erotica is written by men posing as women, resulting in the same old tale of a young straight girl discovering the joys of lady-loving with her roommate/best friend/other generic partner. Harper writes stories about real lesbians (and the occasional straight woman) and her characters don’t just meet and dive into bed together. They actually have conversations and… chemistry.

Add that to what KDP Select can do for a book, and the last three Harper Bliss stories have been very successful. But what does KDP Select do for a book exactly? Here’s our experience.

It makes your book visible
This is probably the single most important advantage. Thousands of new books get released every day. When a few thousand people download your book for free, it will very quickly make an appearance in the ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ lists, which is of vital importance.

It makes your book lendable to Amazon Prime members
Prime members get to lend one free book per month, but the publisher still gets paid for every borrow. Even better, Harper Bliss’s last three short stories have been consistently priced at $1.99, but when someone borrows it we get royalties as if the books were priced at $2.99. With the difference between the 1.99 and 2.99 price point being 35% in royalty rate, this is very advantageous for lower priced titles.

These are the main two reasons why we love KDP Select and will take advantage of it as long as it’s available. Don’t worry if you’re not an Amazon fan though, we plan a first High Rise Omnibus by the end of the year (which will be available from all retailers) and a second one, including a paperback edition, by March 2013.

Still haven’t downloaded Fool for Love? What are you waiting for?

A new Ladylit paperback

Can't Get Enough Congratulations to our naughty girl Harper Bliss with the publication of her first paperback book.

Can’t Get Enough bundles all the Harper’s novelettes we’ve published so far, plus three short stories.

Here’s the blurb:
Eight sizzling tales of lesbian lust and love.

Harper Bliss takes us from romantic Paris and groovy Berlin all the way to the scorching beaches of Thailand. The stories in this sensual anthology include a threesome, a steamy locker room encounter, a teacher crush and old friends discovering each other in whole new ways.

The ladies in this collection just can’t get enough.

And the TOC:
Younger Than Yesterday
New Girl
Learning Curve
Summer Heat
Hired Help
All of Me
The Honeymoon

Can’t Get Enough is available as e-book for $6.99 from Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon DESmashwordsKoboAll RomanceRainbow eBooks and the Ladylit web shop. More retailers will follow soon.

A paperback edition is available for $8.99 from Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon DE and Amazon FR.

We used Amazon’s print-on-demand service to print this paperback and, much to our own surprise, we were able to move the publication date up with one week. Here’s a time-line.

  • Last Monday we created the interior PDF and cover PDF and uploaded it to CreateSpace for review.
  • On Tuesday we made a few alterations to the cover after an e-mail from CreateSpace telling us some text was spilling over the spine.
  • On Tuesday evening, after a second review by CreateSpace, we ordered a proof copy.
  • On Friday the proof copy arrived in Hong Kong. We chose the slowest (and cheapest) delivery method and only paid $8. CreateSpace used DHL anyway and it took only three days to print and deliver the proof. US to Hong Kong in three days for $8. Amazing service!
  • On Saturday we proofed the proof. We made some minor modifications to both the interior and cover PDF and uploaded the new versions. Submitted them for review and… a day later the book is available as a paperback from Amazon.

So, in summary, creating (uploading, reviewing, having proof delivered and publishing) a paperback with CreateSpace takes one week. Needless to say, we’re impressed with CreateSpace’s service. The only cost we had was the printing ($2.91 for a 5×8 book of 172 pages) and the delivery ($8 for a super-speedy DHL delivery).


The importance of Amazon categories

Amazon categories are tricky but essential. They’re tricky because for some inexplicable reason Amazon makes them very complicated, but they’re of the utmost importance because they give your book visibility, which is, in these days of abundant self-publishing, the single best marketing tool you can get your hands on. (Note: this post is about our experience with Amazon US. The European Amazon stores seem to handle categories differently.)

Say, you’re a beginning author with no extensive mailing list, nor a very big author platform. In other words, you don’t have much of an audience yet. How on earth do you get your book out there? How do you get it noticed amongst the other hundreds of books published that day? Here’s how we managed to get Harper Bliss’ Learning Curve into Amazon’s Lesbian Fiction Top 20. (Note: this blog post will specifically deal with lesbian erotica/romance but the same principles apply to other categories.)

First off, Amazon Best Sellers lists are a rare (and probably the best) gift to self-publishers. Your book can be listed alongside titles by well-established authors, giving you enormous exposure. And, in the end, that’s what it’s all about. While the lists may be great and all that, they’re quite complex to figure out.

Let’s take Learning Curve as an example. We published it on 25th July, starting with five free days on KDP Select. Essentially, it’s a lesbian erotic story, and for the free days we picked the categories ‘Lesbian’ and ‘Erotica’. (Amazon allows you to choose two categories when you publish your book.)

Amazon is not overly fond of erotica as a genre (but that’s a whole other post) and it doesn’t offer any sub-genres. This means that when you publish a book in this category it has to compete with all other books in that genre, and there are a lot of those. Nevertheless, on free days, with a bit of promotion and a lot of luck, you can hope to graze the edges of the Free Erotica Top 100, which does wonders for free downloads (and that’s what it’s all about on those days).

What about that other category? Is it not easier to get into the Lesbian Fiction Free Top 100? Well, it would be, if only there were one. There is, however, a Free Gay & Lesbian Top 100 (Lee Harlem Robinson’s Dirty Pleasure has been hanging out near the top 20 for a while now), but this list doesn’t mix well with the Erotica category. In other words, once you catalogue your book as ‘Erotica’ and e.g. ‘Lesbian’, you’re only eligible for the Free Erotica Top 100, which, due to humongous competition, is very hard to get into.

So, moving on to non-free days. Despite the expected boost in sales after its free run, we realised that keeping Learning Curve in the Erotica category wouldn’t make much sense. It would have to sell too many copies to even reach the outskirts of the Paid Top 100. But, we had another trump card to play. We diversified and focused on the other category. We wanted Learning Curve to get noticed by lesbians, who are still our prime audience, and fortunately, the Amazon’s Romance category has an ‘Adult’ section. We updated Learning Curve and kept it at the lowest price possible and this is what happened:

Amazon categories

No, I’m not seeing the ‘Adult’ bit reflected in that either. You see, to confuse us even more, the categories you choose when publishing (from the KDP dashboard) do NOT correspond with the ones consumers get to see. And instead of popping up in Books > Gay & Lesbian > Lit & Fiction > Fiction > Romance > Adult (which you would expect after choosing your category), it pops up in ‘LGBT Romance’, where again, the competition is much stiffer.

This is what you get when you publish a book in the ‘Lesbian’ and ‘Romance > Adult’ categories (and the case for Learning Curve):

More categories

Out of these, Amazon magically distills Best Seller Lists (based on ever-changing algorithms). This is also the reason why so many erotica titles appear in the general LGBT lists, despite being catalogued as ‘Adult’.

Anyway, this post is not about criticising the lists (although making them more transparent and easier to use would make a lot of self-publishers’ lives a lot easier), but about stressing the importance of getting into them.

To summarise:

  • When publishing, narrow down your category as much as possible and don’t be afraid to change it. (But be careful not to switch once you’ve hit a list!)
  • Experiment and see in which category you can score the highest (the more drilled down, the better.)
  • Once you make it onto a Best Sellers List, sales will jump. People love lists and they’re an excellent browsing tool.
  • Breaking your head over Amazon categories is well worth it, and once you figure it out, you’ll know what to do for subsequent books.
  • (But hey, it is a bit of a Learning Curve.)

Behind the scenes of the publishing process

The HoneymoonYesterday we launched Harper Bliss’ The Honeymoon (it’s only $0.99 until next Thursday!) and today we’d like to take you through the various steps from completed manuscript to publication. Because this blog post is about publishing (and not writing), our starting point is a beta-read, edited and proofread manuscript.

We’d just like to give you a look behind the scenes of producing and publishing an ebook Ladylit-style.

1. Design a cover
We design all our covers in-house and while some only take a few hours to put together, others take Illustrator sessions spread over several days. Most time consuming by far is finding the right stock photo to base the design on. That being said, we love Deposit Photos (and making covers for naughty stories).

2. Format the ebook
At Ladylit we don’t just want our books to look good, we need them to. When we upload to Amazon we upload a mobi, not a Word-document that can get all mangled up in conversion. We pride ourselves in delivering books with no unnecessary line breaks and faulty characters (otherwise we wouldn’t sleep at night). When we upload to Smashwords we make sure we don’t get any dreaded AutoVetter messages so our books get accepted into the Premium Catalogue as quickly as possible. We also make a PDF-version of the book that we sell directly from the LadyLit web shop. In summary, at this stage we create a mobi-file for Amazon, a clean doc-file for Smashwords and a PDF for our own shop.

3. Upload to various platforms and check
This is fairly straightforward. The KDP (Amazon) and Smashwords platforms are easy to use. We use Sellfy to sell direct, which is even more user-friendly. (Side note: it is handy to have a blurb ready at this stage!)

4. Update website
We update the Books section of the Ladylit website and add the new book to our shop. We create a downloadable PDF preview and add the cover image to the sidebar. We also blog about the new title and try to tie it in with some useful information.

5. Adjust description on Amazon Author Central
When we upload to KDP the description field doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity, but this can easily be changed from the Author Central. We add some titles in bold and (in Harper Bliss’ case) some heat warnings in italics. In other words, we make our Amazon product page look more attractive.

6. Update social media
We add the new book to our Facebook and GoodReads page for starters. Maybe tweet about it a few times (but not too many).

7. Contact reviewers
We contact some people of whom we think they’ll enjoy the book and leave a review, and we keep our eyes peeled for new reviewers (every book brings a new opportunity).

8. Promote
We make announcements in GoodReads groups, to Yahoo mailing lists, send out our own newsletter… the list is never-ending and this step usually takes most time (because it never really stops.)

I’d say the entire process takes about two days (not including designing the cover, which is usually ready a few weeks before publication) considering that it takes 24 hours before a book goes live on Amazon.

How to make your book free on Amazon the old-fashioned (aka the hard) way

Apart from publishing (e)books, LadyLit also offers related services to authors aspiring to self-publish (such as book formatting and web design). On this blog we’d like to share some of our own experiences in the exciting new world of indie publishing and provide some helpful tips along the way.

WetterToday is the unofficial release date of Harper Bliss‘ free short story Wetter. Unofficial because, despite it already being available on Smashwords and Amazon, for now, it’s only free on Smashwords. From experience (with Dirty Pleasure by Lee Harlem Robinson), we know it can take up to two months before Amazon matches the price. But, in our opinion, the wait is definitely worth it.

‘Free’ works, which is why the Amazon KDP Select programme is so popular. Some authors, however, don’t want to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell their e-book. This doesn’t mean they can’t choose to give away free e-books on Amazon. Here’s how you do it.

Amazon automatically price-matches the e-books it sells to other retailers’ prices. Basically, all you’ve got to do is make sure your book is available for free at e.g. Barnes & Noble and you’re good to go. It sounds simple enough, but in reality, it’s more of a waiting game. Here are the steps you need to take.

1. Upload your e-book to Smashwords and make sure it has no auto-vetter errors (if you need help with this bit, check out our e-book formatting service).
2. Upload your e-book to Amazon and price it at $0.99, the lowest price possible.
3. This is where the waiting begins. Amazon doesn’t price-match with Smashwords so you have to wait until your book has made it into Smashwords’ premium catalogue and is distributed to B&N, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Sony. Getting into the premium catalog takes 2 to 3 weeks and distribution to all channels will require at least one more week of waiting (with Diesel usually being the fastest).
4. Once you find your book for sale on one of the retailers’ website, alert Amazon. On your Amazon product page (right under the Amazon Best Sellers Rank), click the link ‘tell us about a lower price’ and copy/paste the direct link to the product page on e.g. Diesel or Barnes & Noble. It also helps if you enlist a few friends with Amazon accounts to do the same.Alert Amazon
5. Wait some more and check your Amazon product page regularly, until one magical day, your e-book will be available for free.

This process can take more than a month and requires patience. It’s not a short-term marketing tool the way KDP Select can be, but in the long run, once your book is free, can generate extra sales for other books on your backlist (especially if you write a series and make the first book free). Free is, after all, the new black. Speaking of which, get your free copy of Wetter at Smashwords now (all formats are available). Enjoy!


Harper Bliss is a busy girl. LadyLit will release two new sizzling titles in the coming weeks, of which one will be completely free.

1. Wetter
WetterA FREE (and sweaty) short story about Rachel, who’s had a crush on her spin instructor Toni for months. One late night visit to the locker room steam cabin transforms her fantasies into hot, steaming reality.

Wetter will be available on Monday 25 June.






2. The Honeymoon
The HoneymoonA sizzling novelette featuring a couple of newlyweds honeymooning in Phuket. When they encounter a mysterious Asian woman in their beach side resort, they decide to give each other a very special wedding gift.

The Honeymoon will be available the first week of July.


…more specifically, LadyLit books. In our first blog post, we already talked about Harper Bliss (who has her own blog with juicy bits of news all over it) and her first LadyLit release Hired Help. Today we’re focusing on the other member of the LadyLit family: Lee Harlem Robinson.

Lee currently has two available publications, the full-length novel Come and Go and the free prequel short story Dirty Pleasure, which has been residing steadily in the Kindle Free Short Story chart since its price dropped to zero.

Lee’s story is a bit of an unusual one since, well, she’s not a real person. Lee Harlem Robinson is a fictional character created for a blog. To preserve the direct writing style of the blog, Lee’s creator thought it better to establish Lee Harlem Robinson as the author of her own story. After almost 300 blog posts it would have been strange to suddenly stick a different name on the narration of Lee’s adventures, especially since they’ve always been written from the first person perspective. And, we might as well admit it, Lee Harlem Robinson is just one hell of a name.

Come and GoLee’s first novel Come and Go deals with her dramatic adventures in romance once she sets foot on Hong Kong soil. It has been described by Amazon reviewers as ‘an entertaining and engrossing read, which lets the reader ponder whether the traditional sense of relationship of monogamy and plain vanilla sex works for everyone’ and ‘the Hong Kong L Word or an Asian expat version of Lip Service’. All the places in the book are real, so if you live in Hong Kong (or have visited) you get some extra value added to your reading experience. It’s available as both an e-book and in paperback and our next step is to get it in some brick-and-mortar bookshops.

Dirty PleasureDirty Pleasure is a short story with the same characters and settings as Come and Go and time-wise it is set before Come and Go starts. It describes the crazy weekend in Hong Kong when Lee meets her ‘lesbros’ and it is completely free. You can get it either from Amazon (Kindle), iTunes (iPad) or download it via our website.

A sequel novella to Come and Go is planned for late 2012.


Hired Help

There’s no better day to kick off the LadyLit blog than on the day the first Harper Bliss ebook is let loose on the world. Harper is LadyLit’s resident erotica writer and her stories come with a serious disclaimer, caution: hot!

Hired Help* is the first in a series of lesbian erotic stories set in the most tantalising places in the world. The next instalment will be released in early July (increasing the already unbearable Hong Kong summer heat substantially).

LadyLit also published ‘Come and Go’ and ‘Dirty Pleasure’, both by Lee Harlem Robinson. Of course, Lee’s dramatic adventures in Hong Kong need a sequel and we hope to bring you just that near the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, we’ll be blogging on these pages regularly about digital publishing in Hong Kong. Please like LadyLit on Facebook or follow us on Twitter if you want to follow our journey. We also have a newsletter you can subscribe to if you prefer your news neatly delivered to your mail box.

* Hired Help contains graphic language and f/f sex and should not be read by people under the age of 18