Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

My two paying calls for submissions and why perfect grammar is so important

If you want to head directly to my two Cleis Press calls for submissions, visit Erotic Teasers (October 1, 2017 deadline, pays $100/story) and Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 (November 1, 2017 deadline, pays $200/story).

I'm looking forward to October and November, when I'll be selecting the stories I want to include in those manuscripts (then my publisher has final approval, which can take several months; see my post about the timing of the publishing process here), doing so earlier than I have in the past so I can put every ounce of my creative energy into promoting my back-to-back releases, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3 and The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2. Having two books come out in two months is not for the faint of heart, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I can handle it, and most of my time and money will have to go into BWE because that's the more popular type of book, but I will do my best to make both big sellers because I owe that to myself, my business, my publisher and my authors.

Right now I'm doing my second least favorite task that comes with the job of anthology editing: copyedits. Even though a large part of my 7.5 year full time magazine editing job involved copyediting, and I do a lot of it in my current copywriting job, being in charge of the words of other authors' is not a responsibility I take lightly. I live in fear that one of their edits won't make it into the final book, and I will look like the worst editor who ever lived. Okay, that's hyperbole, but I have an all or nothing brain and if that were to happen, no matter how proud I am of the rest of my book, I would feel awful, because once a book's in print, it's in stores and that's it.

So I've actually been dragging my feet on putting together the edits of the copyeditor I hired (something I wish I'd done for all my books and well worth every penny) and the ones my authors sent me. Then my publisher incorporates those edits into the manuscript before galleys and final books get printed.

The part about me being beyond nervous is my own issue to deal with, though trust me, if I ever quit anthology editing, I will not miss waking up in a panic with worry about this, or holding my breath when I send books out to authors, hoping their story has come out perfect.

That brings me to my calls listed above and why they're so detailed. Some of that is because I often receive an influx of stories that are similar either in setup or subject, which means I can't use them all in my books, because the two biggest things I provide to my readers is variety and sexiness. That's not something I can predict when writing a call, so I try to emphasize creativity and uniqueness.

But what I do emphasize in my calls, or at least, what I hope I impress upon those who might submit, is the importance of perfect grammar and proofreading. You might think, But Rachel, aren't you going to edit the story, and then two copyeditors as well? Yes, I am and they are, but here's the thing: If a story comes in that is riddled with grammatical errors, that vastly increases the likelihood that out of the four people proofing it (author, anthology editor and two copyeditors), someone will miss some of them. Who loses out? Well, everyone. The reader, first and foremost, because they will be distracted when reading your story. I know this as a reader who got distracted several times recently reading a novel I otherwise enjoyed. My publisher will lose out because their reputation will go down in the eyes of that reader. I will lose out for the same reason, and that directly impacts my income and potential opportunities to edit more books. And it impacts the author, because I don't think anyone out there wants their name next to words that are less than the very best they can be.

So while I accept complete and total responsibility for any errors that wind up in my final books, I do tend to gravitate toward submissions whose writing I enjoy that are grammatically correct and typo free, because I know that they will improve the quality of my anthology. Also, the above is the process with my anthologies, but if you are submitting your work other places, or self-publishing, there may be fewer people going over your words, so the onus is on you to make them readable. Ultimately, that's, to my mind, the whole point of grammar: to make words more readable, to make them flow better, to make the reader's job easier so they can enjoy the story more. Now I must return to doing that very thing, and then crossing my fingers and hoping with all my might that I've done my job well.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Tuesday is my favorite day of the week

Today is Tuesday, which to me is my favorite day of the weekend, although I love weekends too, because it's payday. Since starting my part time copywriting job last June, which I go to three days a week, I've welcomed the change of going from chasing down checks that may or may not arrive on time to doing that but also getting paid every single week for the work I've done the week prior. I'd bet money (ha!) that having a steady paycheck has contributed greatly to my mental health, because I know that as long as I show up to work, I'll have that check, and can better plan when I will pay rent and bills.

From what I can tell so far this year, my book royalties will be the biggest source of my gross income, with my copywriting job the second, but the big difference is my royalties arrive four times a year and are utterly unpredictable. They've ranged from the very low thousands to over $17,000 and I have no way of predicting quarter to quarter what they will be, so I can't rely on them. That being said, I should receive my royalty statement for Q1 2017 next week and I already have a list of what I will pay for with it, including some to my retirement fund, some to debt, some to key purchases and some investing back into my biggest literary moneymaker, the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series.

This year, as I've become fanatical about bookkeeping and started truly analyzing the cost of each dollar I earn, I've realized how wasteful I was of both my time and money in my younger days. Projects like interviews for Gothamist, some of which I am still inordinately proud of, didn't pay. Others, like In The Flesh Reading Series, sometimes broke even and sometimes didn't. A wiser person would have parlayed that reading series into a book deal and/or a sponsorship. I didn't, which contributed to its demise when I felt like I was taking advantage of myself. I sometimes wonder, what could I have done with all that creative organizing energy that would have been sustainable in the long term? I don't think of it in a regretful way but more in a how can I apply this to my work life now? way.

This month I've been busy with promoting my latest Cleis Press anthology, On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories, finalizing the table of contents for the self-published rerelease of Sex and Candy and some freelance writing, and starting next week/month, I will be planning the first of many online courses I plan to teach, organized around my consulting and teaching site, EroticaWriting101. All of those projects and whatever happens after them are part of my strategy to stay relevant in the job market. I'll also be making a copywriting portfolio page and learning more about SEO and Amazon keywords. It's a lot to juggle, but I feel good about taking a proactive stance. I'm writing an essay about how I'm paying off a large amount of debt and while I'm not proud of having the debt I'm excited that I can see the light at the end of that damning tunnel and eager to get started on projects that have the potential to yield income for many years to come. Still, as long as they will have me, I'm grateful for my job, which is teaching me a whole new world and style of writing and outlook on the world, and giving me that Tuesday morning payday to look forward to. I am ready to make new mistakes (because I'm sure I will), but at least I won't be sitting around waiting for things like I did in my twenties and thirties, when I never asked for a better job title or advocated for a raise or anything else that would advance my earning potential. Now I realize that I have the power to at least try new endeavors, measure their success and go from there.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories is out today!

Happy release day to me and my authors! I'll keep this short and sweet: today, the ebook of On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories is out! You can 1-click and download it right now for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.

On Fire Is Out Now!

Want to read the introduction? Visit the On Fire Tumblr. I'm so thrilled that these super sexy stories about couples having erotic adventures, from BDSM and fetishes to swinging and orgies and anniversary celebrations and so much more, are available to the world. This book was three years in the making, due to my own delays, so I'm extra excited. It's also On Fire Week over at group blog Lady Smut so check us out for daily posts related to the themes of the book. Thank you again to Cleis Press for being amazing to work with! And if you want the audiobook or print edition, just wait a little is coming soon, narrated by Rose Caraway, and the print book publishes officially on August 8th but Amazon told me my copy will arrive by July 31st. And if you've read the book or plan to read it, a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads is MUCH appreciated and helps readers find out about the book and helps me fulfill my commitment to my authors to get their stories before as many people as possible. Good, bad, or indifferent, reviews help; right now there are three on Amazon, two praiseworthy, one who hated it, and to be honest, the one that didn't like it is the most compelling because it has details about what they liked and what they didn't. So all opinions are welcome and valuable and help guide me for future anthologies.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

What it's like to work on three books at once

The past week has been especially busy, with my mind and to do list pulled in many directions. Firstly, I've been helping my boyfriend promote and prepare for the play he's directing, which will be performed this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Princeton, New Jersey. I don't know the first thing about theater except that I enjoy going as an audience member, but I know a few things about event promotion based on my five years of In The Flesh reading hosting and assorted book event organizing. Getting Instagram photos to show up in Blogger is not my strong suit, so if you can't see the image below, it's also here - evidence of my adventures in poster hanging (my takeaway: bring a stapler, not tape, next time).

So I've put up posters in Princeton, posted on the Chimera Productions Facebook page and Instagram account and helped make some goodie bags. I love that I'm part of an artistic couple and am happy to help out where I can.


At the same time, I've been working on three anthologies simultaneously, and that's quite a mental challenge to keep track of what stage each one is in, attend to the seemingly umpteen emails and tasks associated with each, and not go into ultra panic mode. My anthology On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories publishes tomorrow, and as part of my efforts to reinvent my book promotion efforts, I've done a few new things. It will be listed soon on Netgalley, which is exciting for me because it has the potential to reach so many more book bloggers and reviewers that way, and I've done some outreach but would like to do more. It will also be On Fire week over at Lady Smut so stay tuned for related posts, including one from me Wednesday on the backstory of why this book took three years to come out (spoiler alert: I messed up) and a sexy excerpt.

At the same time, I'm diving in to self-publishing by reissuing my 2007 anthology Sex & Candy with a super hot new cover, new title and a few new stories. For that I had to contact all the original authors, some of whom had changed email addresses so the email bounced back to me, some of whom have updated their bios and bylines. I also solicited a few new stories so that the book isn't entirely a reprint of the first. The original was print only; the new edition will be ebook and audiobook only. So far I've only worked on the words part. Next it will go to the authors to look over for typos or grammatical errors, then I will send it to my amazing copyeditor, who is helping save my books from being horrifically riddled with grammar issues. Then...I'm not exactly sure because I've only self-published one short story and my then assistant did the hard part. So I'll have a learning curve in terms of formatting it for Kindle and possibly other retailers. Then Rose Caraway will be recording the audiobook. I'm hoping to have the ebook out by September, so stay tuned.


Along with all of that, I'm in full-fledged marketing mode for the book that will probably outsell the other two a few times over and therefore deserves the bulk of my attention, from a business/logical perspective: Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3. Since this is part of a long-running series, which started in the year 2000 with Best Women's Erotica edited by Marcy Sheiner, then moved on to titles with calendar years before I took it over and we switched to Volume numbers, bookstores seem to be more inclined to stock it. Volume 2 was in over 50 indie bookstores and my hope is that more will sign on for Volume 3. So what am I doing all these months before the publication date? I'm making a list of long lead media for my publisher, Cleis Press, to send early galleys to. I'm booking readings for 2018 before bookstores fill up. I'm researching bloggers to contact about the book. I'm brainstorming with my social media assistant about what we will do in the months leading up to the launch so I am not sobbing in agony over having too much to do right before. Basically, I'm trying to set in motion a successful book launch, because the better the book does out of the gate, the better the chances that Volume 4 will do well. My hope is that if the books continue to sell well, I'll be asked to edit more of them, but even if I'm not, I want to make sure all the time, effort and money (I don't have the exact figure handy but I've easily invested thousands of dollars in promoting the series) pays off. If it doesn't, then I will turn to other income sources, because I'm 41 so am thinking about if I have a kid, how I will support them, not to mention retirement.

On top of that, I'm trying to launch a new series of online classes, for which I have to write the lectures and video scrips and learn how to use my new Blue Yeti microphone. That's another project that I decided to do to try to reclaim a semblance of financial stability for myself, because even though I'm on track for my business to have a six figure year and surpass last year's income, that doesn't mean 2018 holds any such promise. So there's a lot on my mind as I navigate all these projects, and any day now I will get edits back for The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2, the book that's coming out one month after BWE of the Year 3, and will therefore add a fourth book to the mix. For that one I'll have to finagle 68 author contracts (there's 69 stories in the book, but mine is one of them), prepare marketing materials, and more. So there's a lot on my plate, but as I said above, there has to be, because I need to be firing on all cylinders in order to make this whole career thing work.

When I break it all down like I have here, it's overwhelming. The only way it isn't is if I do a little bit each day so I can assure myself when I go to sleep each night that I've done the very best I could to provide for myself and my family, to make my authors' work seen and read, and to do right by my publisher (where applicable). Just as I never know how long any given employment will last, I never know if I'm about to edit my final anthology or not. Many factors go into those decisions but ultimately it's a matter, for me, of supply and demand. That may sound cold and artificial, but it's more than just business for me. I only want to produce books that readers want to read, and only ways I have to measure that are via book sales and reader feedback. I'll write soon about the incredible notes I've received recently that buoyed my hopes and reminded me of the human faces behind the numbers on a royalty statement. Those are heartening and incredible, but as much as that's true, I can't turn in a lovely handwritten note to my landlord. Or I could, but they could still evict me if I don't pay the rent. So that's on my mind, not because I'm in danger of eviction, but because until I save up several months' worth of rent, not to mention pay off all my debts, I won't feel like I have any kind of financial stability. The way I see all these marketing efforts is that while there's only 24 hours in a day, I literally can't afford not to market the hell out of my books. So that's what I'm doing, while also promoting my authors, especially my Best Women's Erotica of the Year authors, on social media. At the same time, I'm also trying to get as many worldwide authors as possible to submit stories to my upcoming anthologies Erotic Teasers and BWE of the Year 4, which can sometimes be an uphill battle and stressful because 90% of people submit in the last week, but until that happens I often think, What if I have to cancel this book after I've accepted an advance because there's not enough author interested? So, you know, no pressure or anything.

If you've read this far, you are very kind (thank you!). If you're thinking, Rachel, I want to help you and your books succeed. What can I do?, here's my answer: If you've read it or plan to read it, leave a review of On Fire on Amazon starting July 18th, no matter where you acquired the book, and/or Goodreads, or mark it as "want to read" on Goodreads.

On fire review calls

Retweet when I Tweet about my books. Let someone know about my titles if they're asking about erotica. Ask your local library or bookstore to stock my books. Sign up to get a free copy of BWE of the Year 3 from me and leave a review. Lastly, you can think good thoughts (I know, that's super woo-woo, but I believe every little bit helps). It's certainly what I'm doing as I prepare to launch a new book into the world tomorrow.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Brides article on how erotica can help relationships

I'm thrilled to share my first article for on how erotica can help improve your relationship. There are of course other benefits to reading sexy books but they asked me for ideas geared toward couples, so that's what I wrote, with wisdom from some wonderful relationship experts (and a few more pieces are in the works). I also gave some podcast and book recommendations at the end to get people started. So far online people have been all over the Fabio photo they chose, which I think is hilarious. He is still so recognizable as a cultural figure all these years after his heyday!


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Friday, July 14, 2017

My new book On Fire has arrived - hear me tonight on podcast Sex Out Loud

My copies of my new Cleis Press anthology On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories arrived yesterday! I love that moment of opening up a box and seeing a book that I made, with the help of so many authors, my publisher and their distributor. This one was a long time in the making, due to my own delaying, so I'm thrilled these stories are about to be out in the world. On Fire will be out on Tuesday, July 18 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.



The print edition will hit bookstores August 8th and Rose Caraway is narrating the Audible audiobook, which will also be out soon. I'll post when that's for sale. Tonight, July 14th at 8 pm EST I'll be joined by three of the contributors, Donna George Storey, Angela R. Sargenti and Lawrence Westerman, on the podcast Sex Out Loud hosted by Tristan Taormino. Can't wait to hear these authors read from their stories! If you miss the live broadcast, you can listen via the link below to the recording. I'm especially looking forward to it because while I've done readings with Donna before, I haven't heard the others read their work.


The book was just reviewed by RT Book Reviews, which said, in part, "A wide variety of writers add their flavor to this eclectic assortment of erotic delights. Each manages to be unique when telling their particular story. Kudos to Bussel for doing an excellent job in organizing this collection."

And I'll conclude with a favor: to a large degree, my books succeed due to reviews from readers like you. If you have read or plan to read On Fire, I'd love if you left an honest review on Goodreads (any time) or Amazon (starting July 18th). The better this book does, the better my chances are for getting more book deals to edit more anthologies and publish more wonderful authors!

On fire review calls

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Listen to me Friday on Sex Out Loud podcast

This Friday, July 14th at 8 p.m. EST I'll be talking live with host Tristan Taormino on Sex Out Loud podcast about On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories, which comes out Tuesday in ebook form (and August 8 in print and very soon in audiobook) from Cleis Press. I'll be joined by three contributors: Donna George Storey, whose stocking fetish tale "Sensitive to the Touch," opens the book, Angela R. Sargenti, whose "Masquerade" is a very hot vampire erotic story, and Lawrence Westerman, who wrote an incredible femdom BDSM story, "Dreams Made Flesh." And a reminder that through this Saturday, July 15, I'm giving away 15 autographed copies of the On Fire print edition (U.S. only) over at Goodreads, and I do monthly giveaways in my author newsletter open to anyone in the world - the July newsletter already went out, but the August newsletter will have a Women in Lust giveaway.


Listen in then and subscribe to Sex Out Loud in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts so you can hear us if you miss the live broadcast.


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