Since getting home from my book tour in mid-February, it's been busy, busy, busy. I wrapped up my final LitReactor class with a wonderful group of students, turned in one anthology and am working on another (if you are waiting to hear back, you will this month), am preparing two calls for submission to share (they will be shared first with subscribers to my newsletter so if you're not subscribed, do so now at rachelkramerbussel.com or the left-hand side of my Lusty Lady blog!), turned my taxes in to my accountant and, to cap things off, got a septiaplasty on Tuesday (deviated septum surgery). So, yeah, a little busy.
I'll be sharing more about the new approach I've taken to my work with the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series, which has included shifting everything from how I work with authors to how I promote my books and the hustle of getting the books stocked in my favorite bookstores. One of the things I'm most proud of is amplifying my authors' voices as far and wide as I can and doing everything humanly possible to make this the little series that could. Yes, it had a big following with its two prior, amazing editors, and I want to take that and run with it. I want this series to be in every bookstore it can be, which was why I was so thrilled to see it on display at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia at Faber & Faber, and to know it's at airport bookstores in cities like San Francisco and Anchorage (I haven't traveled through those yet to see it, but I hope to!).
This totally made my day and I look forward to visiting the over 50 independent bookstores across the country, in 20 states (including my own - thank you to WORD in Jersey City!) that took a chance on my series. To whoever makes these decisions, you have my utmost appreciation! I know there are millions of books out there to choose from and knowing they've selected this series that I've poured so much of my heart and soul into means the world to me. I vow to visit as many of these stores as I can, shop in them, promote them and show my thanks in concrete ways, because I want them to know how much that visibility matters, both to me and my series and to this genre that is so often overlooked on bookstore shelves. Two of the most meaningful on that list, to me, are PRINT: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine, one of my favorite places to visit that I've greatly adored, but been saddened that its two other independent bookstores have minimal to no erotica, and Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard, the town where my great grandparents settled almost 100 years ago, where I spent my childhood summers, where I visit every summer and have dreamt of seeing my name on those hallowed shelves. It finally happened and I couldn't be more thrilled and hope I get to visit both of these stores later this year. Yes, I will buy a book at every store that stocks mine, because I believe in karma and giving back and supporting the businesses I want to see in the world, especially the ones that are helping my business grow and thrive.
Part of that approach I mentioned involves being a better advocate and publicist for myself, and that includes following the simple yet damn hard at the same time advice of Amanda Palmer in her book that was eye-opening for me, The Art of Asking. As much as I now asking works, as much as I know that asking is actually what I owe myself if I believe in the work I put out into the world, it's still challenging to get over that hump, that second guessing voice in my head that told me as my finger hovered over the send button, You're being an idiot. Who cares about your dumb book when there's so many other better ones out there? Don't clutter someone's inbox. But I got over that voice, pushed it aside, told it to wait until later. I reminded myself that I believe in the power of DIY publicity, I believe in pursuing my dreams no matter how many rejections I get, and that if I want my books to not just be tucked away, unseen and unread, I have to take risks.
So I hit send, and that's what led to me being interviewed by the wonderful Maureen O'Connor in the Panoply studios for New York magazine's Sex Lives podcast.
It's titled "The Life-Changing Power of Lesbian Monida Lewinsky Fanfic," but I have to tell you, back in 1999 when I wrote that first story, I had never even heard the term "fanfic," I just wanted to be published in Shar Rednour's amazing-sounding anthology Starf*cker. Click through for a transcript of part of our conversation and to listen, and subscribe to this wonderful podcast on iTunes. My point is: ask, and you just may get to talk about your fledgling first erotica story about Monica Lewinsky, being on the writing and the written about side of celebrity erotica, Chuck Tingle, Best Women's Erotica and much more. That's what happened for me and I am already planning big things for Volume 3, which pubs in December. (And conversely, people ignoring you or saying no or rejecting your work will never kill you; trust me, if it were, I'd have been dead a long long time ago. It's the asking, the risking, the believing in yourself enough to go for it, that truly matters.) More on Volume 3 this summer, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the podcast.