So, Apparently My Cover is Too Prurient for an Amazon Ad + Mini Rant

AngelaQuarles_SteamMeUpRawley_400pxBehold, a book cover too salacious to get an ad on Amazon. I’m not kidding.

Yesterday, Amazon opened up advertising to non-Beta testers whose books are enrolled in KDP Select. For various reasons, I’d decided a week ago to put Steam in KDP Select (for non-authors, this means I decided to make the ebook exclusive to Amazon for 90 days), and I thought I’d try out this new opportunity.

Some early Beta testers are saying it was a total flop for them, but I’ve always been of a mindset that no book’s path is the same as another’s, and I couldn’t know if this wouldn’t work for my target audience unless I tried. Plus, I’d decided to make it super-granular to be sure it was only my target audience that would see it, thereby reducing the chance that a click wouldn’t convert to a sale.

Here were my other arguments for trying it:

  • The cost wasn’t out of line with other promo opportunities, and if it performed well, it would be even better.
  • Publishers pay for coop space with online and brick and mortar stores all the time, so why not do the same for my indie title
  • Even if I got zero clicks (and so would have spent zero bucks), I got free impressions. That’s eyeballs on my cover, which helps inch me closer to that adage of ‘you have to see a product x times before you buy’ or whatever that adage is.
  • There was a chance (slim, probably) that Amazon listened to the feedback from the Beta testers and tweaked the code for better ROI. Stranger things have been known to happen.

So, I chose to show my ad on only 38 books’ product pages whose audience might enjoy my book too. So I selected Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Kristen Callihan’s books, Bec McMaster’s, and Delphine Dryden’s steampunks, etc. I also unchecked the box that would allow Amazon to also show it on books that were similar. The way I figure, that meant my book would only compete with others to appear on the book page of just those 38 books.

Several hours later I got a rejection email saying my cover didn’t meet their advertising guidelines. I can only assume it was this part of the guidelines that flagged my cover: “Overtly provocative imagery such as partial nudity or blatantly sexual prurient content.”

I sent a reply asking: “So a bare-chested guy, which a child can see at the beach or even just seeing anyone jogging or mowing their lawn in the summer, is partial nudity??” I haven’t heard back yet, but someone else suggested that the pose is a little suggestive, and yes it is. It’s supposed to be. But is it “overtly provocative” or “prurient”?

Which brings me to my mini-rant

Why, why, why is sex in a loving relationship “bad” in our society? Why does our society find it okay to allow kids to see violence, but not images with sexual overtones, etc?

My parents were pretty awesome–when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, nudity and sex weren’t taboo subjects for me. Heck, my mom’s an artist and she let me tag along to sessions where her and her fellow artists had a nude model, etc. Nudity was beautiful. Love was beautiful.

However, violence? No way! So I was the odd child in high school whose parents let them see Rated R movies that had nudity/sex, but Jaws? I still haven’t seen it. It came out when I was of an age where I was still under parental guidance, and since then I just haven’t gotten around to it.

So my book has a woman sitting in a guy’s lap in a playful, suggestive manner, and the amount of man titty (or mipple) is less than you’d see on any given summer day down here in the hot South, and it’s unacceptable to be shown?

On The Passive Guy, a commenter noted that hers was rejected because it had manchest too, but hers was just a surfer. No suggestive pose apparently. So it’s just a bare manchest that’s got their panties in a wad?

The rejection is also illogical

The thing is, this cover passed their review when it went live, meaning that it didn’t get flagged as erotic and so didn’t get put in what’s been called the Amazon dungeon where some erotic novels are shunted. (And to be clear, my book is not an erotic romance.) The Amazon dungeon is a place where they stick titles so they will not show up in a search, not even in the list of books by that author. So that means that my cover is showing up on other book pages right this very minute! Gasp! So Steam is currently showing in their “Customers Who Bought, Also Bought” pane, or their other search and display mechanisms they have in place to sell products that people want. So why is it that it can’t show in a sidebar ad? And if I really get lucky, and sales take off, I might even show up in the Also Bought pane for one of those 38 books… So weird.

What’s left?

Yesterday, an indie thriller writer reported that hers was rejected and the only thing she can figure is that her cover had some blood spatters. Another author in a private forum quipped that the only thing that sidebar ad pane will be able to show are sea adventure novels and women’s fiction.

What do you think? Leaving aside that this could probably be a big waste of money for an indie author, do you think this type of cover shouldn’t be seen? Did your cover get rejected? If so, for what reason do you think? Feel free to post your rejected cover in the comments so we can get a feel for the range of rejected covers.

ETA: If you’d like to post your rejected cover in the comments, use this code: <img src=”URLofYourImage” width=”150″ />

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Hot For Fridays: Hot Kiss

BBC+blog+logo+final+whiteTrying a new blog hop, this one has a different challenge each week, which sounds fun! This week’s challenge is to post a hot kiss. Well, no prob! Since I did a hot kiss from Steam Me Up, Rawley this past Sunday, I thought I’d pull one from Must Love Breeches today.

Here’s the blurb:

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

The Hot Kiss

A little setup–the hero and heroine are at the British Museum:

The suddenness of the kiss stunned Isabelle. His strong hands, cradling her face firmly. His body, pinning her to the wall.

Whoa.

Probably the sexiest thing anyone had ever done to her. So manly. But she didn’t have time to analyze it, oh no. Right now, it was all she could do not to let her knees buckle as his mouth moved on hers and sent delicious shivers up and down her whole body.

She opened her mouth to him. His tongue hungrily plunged in and claimed her, made her his. At least, that was how it felt to her: possessive, primitive, and damn good. In desperation, she twined her arms around his back to steady herself.

A groan issued from deep within him and he pressed his body more firmly against her, his arousal hard against her lower stomach. She had caused this reaction? Hoo.

A hand left her cheek and slowly caressed her neck, each finger leaving individual trails of fire. She couldn’t help it—her neck was sensitive—and a little moan escaped her. Waves of delight chased up her spine and she arched her back. His lips abruptly left hers and traced a steamy path across her chin and down her neck, while his hand brushed across her shoulder and ever so slowly came to rest on her breast. She sucked in a deep breath and rested her head against the wall.

She should stop him, they were in a public place, after all. Though deserted. Still. But, wow, his lips… Now they suckled the soft skin of her ear lobe, and the puffs of air from his nose tickled her ear and shot warmth through her. She shuddered. He stroked her breast, and she held him tighter. How in the heck was she still able to stand?

Abruptly, he tore himself away and stood several inches from her, breathing heavily, one hand on her shoulder, another pawing his hair. He closed his eyes and took more deep breaths.

Isabelle breathed heavily, too. Wow, had they been making out in the British Museum? The thought turned her on even more. With shaking hands, she smoothed her skirts, trying to calm herself, and trying to think straight. He certainly knew how to mess with her senses, that was for sure. What were they going to do now?

She’d been telling herself he didn’t feel the same attraction, that the kiss at the Crosley’s had been only a cover. But clearly his reaction now screamed otherwise. Someone of his demeanor and control, to suddenly toss that aside and kiss her so passionately, so spontaneously? In a public place?

Lord Montagu straightened. “Forgive me, Miss Rochon. I have behaved abominably. Shall we depart?”

Shall we depart? Gah!

If you’d like to read more hot kisses, visit this page for links to the rest of the participants!

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200pxMore about Must Love Breeches

She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.

“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

“a delicious twist on historical drama and romance” — USAToday

“Filled with historical tidbits and larger-than-life characters, the sweet story is a delight…” –Publisher’s Weekly


 

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Weekend Writing Warriors – STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY – An energetic kiss

wewriwa_square_2Back from a long absence. I keep meaning to be regular about this, but, well. It just hasn’t happened 😦

Those warriors who know the drill, my excerpt is below. For newbies, this post is part of a weekly blog hop where participants share eight sentences from their work. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to find new authors, so be sure to visit the link to the other Weekend Writing Warriors.

Today, I’m going to share with you the first kiss between the H/h in my steampunk romance STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, which released this past Wednesday *throws confetti*. Also, today (Sunday) is the last day to get it at it’s release week price of 99 cents!

And he couldn’t help it–he cupped her face, pushed her against the wall, and crushed her mouth with his. Heat speared through him, tightening his loins. Just one taste of that fire, that energy. He had to feel that energy, experience that energy. He had to know that energy. What made her unsuitable also made her so delectable. Just. One. Taste.

Poor guy has no idea what he’s in for… To read more excerpts, visit Weekend Writing Warriors!

More About STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY

AngelaQuarles_SteamMeUpRawley_150px

Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?

In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father’s dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.

Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she’s spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.

With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?

 

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Release Day for STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY + Giveaway!


Note: Stay tuned to the end for a giveaway!

To all outward appearances today, as I put out my second full-length novel, this is me at the start of this GIF, trying to be all cool and stuff, and then at the end, that’s me on the inside! This poor story had a rough start and I’m so excited to be able to finally share it.

Journey to Publication

I originally wrote it in May of 2012, all excited about the steampunk world I was imagining in Mobile, Alabama in 1890 and was eagerly revising it when I signed with my agent, who quickly shot it down, saying steampunk was dead. When New Adult started gaining in popularity, I tried to tell her this was New Adult, but it didn’t grok until a year later and then she wanted to see it right then, and I’d stupidly set it down and never revised it, so it wasn’t at all ready for my agent to see it. I delved into revisions and sent it out to Betas, but when I got them back I was also getting burned out and took a break from writing, so when I finally picked it up again last year, my agent wasn’t as keen to see it, which served me right. And then we amicably parted ways.

I had it in my head, even after I decided to self-pub Must Love Breeches, that I would seek new representation for Steam, but then luckily a lightbulb went off when I realized I didn’t have to shop it first. I looked at it objectively–did I love the story and hope others would too? Yes. But was it something that was sooooo commercially appealing NY would want it? No. I’d missed the boat on steampunk and according to what I was hearing from my agent and others, New Adult (from a NY perspective) wasn’t interested in NA that wasn’t contemporary, and after coming off of several years of waiting to see if they’d pick up Breeches, I just didn’t want to wait on something I knew they wouldn’t want. This doesn’t mean I won’t pursue a traditional deal, and I do have a project that’s in revisions that I think might stand a chance, but there was no sense putting Steam in the long queue for the inevitable rejection. This isn’t meant to be negative or sour grapes. On the contrary, I found it rather freeing, as it gave me options, which I love, and I think if one is to be successful, one has to look at one’s work in an objective, business-like matter. That’s what’s so great about indie publishing, as we’re able to fill a need for books of our flavors, but which aren’t in high enough demand to make it a viable business proposition for NY to take a chance on–NY can’t make a living catering to niches, whereas indies can.

So Steam got more revisions and Beta rounds and it went off to a developmental editor, who had fantastic feedback and made it much better (Thanks Jessa Slade!). Then it was off to my copyeditor, who I was really excited about bringing it to the next level. But luckily, I gave a launch date to Amazon that was a month later than I anticipated having it ready, because several days after it was due back to me, and I’m wondering what’s happening, I learn she’d been struck down by the flu, poor thing! So it was a mad scramble to find a replacement that could give it a good edit during that first week in December and Julie Glover did me a solid, thank you!

So what’s the deal with Steam?

  • it’s set in the Deep South, in a world where Lincoln doesn’t get shot
  • it’s got an armored pet monkey
  • it’s got a hot, well-intentioned, but bumbling hero
  • it’s got a Jack-the-Ripper style murderer terrorizing the good folk of Mobile
  • and a heroine who finds that less terrifying than marriage

I forgot to do a blog reveal of the trailer I made a week or so ago, so here’s the visual for ya:

Here’s the blurbage:

Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?

In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father’s dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.

Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she’s spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.

With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?

I’m trying something new with this launch, and that’s pricing it at 99 cents for release week, so if you’re at all interested, pick it up before Monday, as it will go on it’s normal price of $3.99. Have no idea if this will help get it more exposure and find its audience, but I figured it was worth a try.

I’ve made some image quotes, which you’re free to pin or share:

SMUR_Quote3 SMUR_Quote4

Here’s some tweets, if you’re so inclined. Just click on the image or the text and it will prefill it for you:

Tweet: It's release day! Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying? STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY http://ctt.ec/buPlQ+ Tweet: It’s release day! Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying? STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY http://ctt.ec/buPlQ+

Tweet: STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY releases today, a #steampunk #romance at the release price of #99cents until 1/19 http://ctt.ec/2H91n+ Tweet: STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY releases today, a #steampunk #romance at the release price of #99cents until 1/19 http://ctt.ec/2H91n+

releaseblitz

Over 20 blogs are part of my release day blitz tour hosted by Twinsie Talk Book Reviews (thank you, Angie!) and some will be doing reviews, if all goes well. Also, there will be a 3 chances to win an ecopy of both Breeches and Steam over on twinsietalk.com! Here’s the tour participants:

Reviewers:

TwinsieTalk Book ReviewsStephanie’s Book Reports | Eyes on Books’ Next Favorite ReadLittle Shop of Readers

Blitz participants:

Rough Draft Book Blog  | Literary Treasure Chest | Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog | The Shadow Portal | Indies Steal Our Heart | Reading by the Book | Pinky’s Favorite Reads | Eskimo Princess Book Reviews | A Pair of Okies | author sandra love  | Writing Between Corsets and Bustiers… | D&S Book Blog | Musings by Mandy | Sweets Books  | Evocativebookreviews | Becca the Bibliophile | A Dirty Book Affair | Spreading The Word With Denise & Donna  | Imaginative Dreams | Verna Loves Books | Not Your Average Book Blog

Thank you!

Thank you bloggers participating in the blitz, and thank you to all who’ve followed me on here over the years and have supported me–the online writing community is truly amazing! This is me poking my head against the internets and saying:

Thank you

Oops

I set this all up last night so it’d be ready to publish when I woke up, and I forgot the buy links!

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Almost Kiss Blog Hop – Excerpt from MUST LOVE BREECHES

MLBQuote2It’s the 6th Annual Almost Kiss/No Kiss Blog Fest!

Participants post an excerpt from any work that celebrates that tantalizing moment when two people want to kiss, but don’t, or almost kiss. Sometimes it can be sexier than a full-on kiss.

I’m going to bring you an almost-kiss from my debut novel release Must Love Breeches: A Time Travel Romance. Here the hero and heroine are in a closed carriage and the heroine is trying to screw up the nerve to be brave and initiate intimacy, and she’s not quite sure if it will work. Warning: Only read if you like to have your palm and arm kissed and find that sexy 🙂

 

Okay, just do it.

She reached up to touch his scar. Man, her hand shook a little, but too late to turn back now.

His eyes darkened, the hazel one almost matching the brown one in color. Interesting. The space between them, so large, the time it took for her hand to reach him, embarrassingly slow. Oh, Lord, and she was leaning at an awkward angle toward him. To remain steady, she put her left hand down on the seat.

Finally, the gloved finger of her right hand reached his face and traced a path to the cleft in his chin, a feature on any man that made her want to go ‘Rowr!’

He was not. Doing. A thing. He only stared back. God, where was that black hole? So much for trying to take control, pushing past her fear.

She closed her eyes and let her hand drop, swallowing her mortification. Her breath hitched—something warm grazed her upper arm, while a hand grasped her wrist. Her eyes flew open. His fingers paused for only a moment as they delicately passed by her elbow’s inner curve.

Shivers flitted through her body and erupted as goose bumps on her skin. When had that body part become so sensitive?

The light touch of his fingers brushed down her gloved arm and slowly enfolded her hand in his. He turned it slightly, so her palm faced up, exposing the soft part of her arm. When the warmth of his lips met the tips of her fingers, her breath caught.

Somehow she’d moved closer to him on the seat, and as she gazed at his lips, transfixed, he moved his head lower and kissed her palm. His head moved a fraction and he placed another soft, tender kiss on her wrist. Her fingers curled inward.

Oh, God. Breathe. Air. In lungs.

No one had ever done this to her.

And it was so, so, well, so erotic. Who knew?

She couldn’t tear her gaze away from his slow progression. His delectable mouth moved up her arm with soft kisses until it reached the end of the glove, right below her elbow. He paused. His warm breath caressed her skin, raising more hairs across her body. What would he do next? Then, his lips touched her bare flesh for the first time, just on the inside of her elbow.

Heat seared around her chest and speared downward. Where had all the air in the carriage gone? Her head—fizzy. Their breathing filled the coach, heightening, joining, wondering. An urge to push him back against the seat and jump his bones gripped her.

Slowly, he raised his head. What would those painstakingly tender lips feel like against her own? She moistened her lips with her tongue, and his gaze snapped to them. It seemed like forever since he’d placed that last kiss on her arm. His head inched forward, his eyes roaming her face before meeting hers…

The carriage clattered to a stop and jolted her sideways. His strong hands grasped her waist, steadying her.

“Miss Rochon?”

She couldn’t catch her breath, but he seemed calm enough, the bastard. She pushed back to her side of the seat and took deep breaths through her nose, trying hard to look as if she were doing nothing like that at all.

If you’d like to read more almost kisses, visit this page for links to the rest of the participants!

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200pxMore about Must Love Breeches

She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.

“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

“a delicious twist on historical drama and romance” — USAToday

“Filled with historical tidbits and larger-than-life characters, the sweet story is a delight…” –Publisher’s Weekly


HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

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