Interview With Indie Romance & Erotica Writer Harris Channing

I like to mix things up now and then on this blog so that it’s not all publishing news all the time.

Today, I am posting an interview with romance and erotica writer Harris Channing.

Some of the topics we touch on are writing in different genres, secret identities, and the huge popularity of erotica e-books.

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Hi Harris, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. There’s plenty of stuff I want to ask about, but I have to get one thing out of the way first. Does sex sell?

The short answer is yes…but there are degrees of success. The big thing right now in the field of erotic romance is the ménage. And I have yet to write one of those, but according to a lot of writers and publishers, those are the best sellers.

I see you that while you bill yourself as an “erotic and mainstream romance” writer, you actually write all sorts of stuff. Can you tell us about some of your books?

Up until this year, my only releases were in the erotic romance field. But in February I got my courage up and self-published my mainstream, paranormal romance The Demon Is In the Details. It has done better than I expected and I’m in the process of outlining a sequel.

With the relative success of Demon, I self-pubbed a Regency romance called An Unwilling Baroness.

I enjoyed this story so much that I’m in the process of writing an erotic Regency. Of course that’s not new to me. My erotic romance, Goldie and the Three Behrs, is a Regency romance.

Some of your titles have paranormal elements, others are historical romances, and others again are straight erotica or romantic suspense. Do you have to build a fresh audience in each sub-genre or do you get a lot of crossover?

To be honest with you, I’m not sure. I rarely hear from readers. But I do know what works for me, and I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.

You write erotica as well as romance. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, where is the dividing line? Do you use separate names?

I considered using different names for each genre, but Harris has been around since 2007 and I didn’t want to change and try to rebuild. As anyone trying to get their name out there knows, it’s difficult, especially when there so many people writing. I even started a Facebook Page for my ‘other’ persona – Christiana Cameron.  Poor girl, never gets any attention.

As for a dividing line, that’s in the product and website description. Being unheard of does have its benefits! Readers really don’t have an expectation as to what sort of book I’m going to be publishing.

Erotica has done particularly well in digital form. Why do you think that is?

See your question above – sex sells. Also, a Kindle with erotica is like a brown paper bag to a bum. Is it booze in there or a half-gallon of milk? Let’s face it, erotica, like many romance novels, is not something you want your boss to see you reading. Unfortunate for writers, but a fact, nonetheless.

Some commentators have speculated that readers are free to read in public without the giveaway of a lurid cover, or that they will have less embarrassment taking the book to the cashier. Do you think there is anything in that?

Yes…like I said, the covers are something I’m proud of, but would I want to run into my preacher at Wal-Mart with a copy of The Kama Sutra? Nope.

Do you write under a pseudonym?

Yes.  Harris is my alter ego…but I like her.

Are there any practical difficulties with writing under a pseudonym? Who do Amazon cut the checks to?

The only worry I’ve ever had is with a copyright notice using my real name. My last name is not Smith or Jones, so I’d rather keep it to myself. As for checks? No problem. Amazon has been very good about masking my true identity…sounds cloak and dagger doesn’t it? It’s not. Just my personal preference.

A lot of the romance and erotica writers on Kindle Boards seem to get a huge portion of their sales from Barnes & Noble. For most other indie writers it’s only 10% to 20% (if that). Do you know why this is? 

No. The simple truth is, in my case, Amazon is where my books do best…all of my genres.

I notice you have a free short story on your blog, and it seems that more and more indie writers are incorporating some free content as part of their overall strategy. Has it hooked you more readers?

I believe so.  Anyway you can get word about yourself or your work out there, you should follow through.  It’s important, albeit time consuming.

Finally, what advice would you give to a writer starting out on the self-publishing path? What do you wish you did differently, or what advice do you wish you had received?

I’d give any writer, those shooting for self-publishing or traditional publishing the same advice. Do the best work you can, read and write, and read and write. Study the craft and put your best work out there.

Thanks for having me today, David. Happy reading everyone. Hugs,

Harris.

The Demon Is In The Details:

Stella Campbell has come back to Silverton, Georgia to bury her wicked witch of an aunt. But is she strong enough to endure what’s to come? Zane Weathers has been around a long time, like, two thousand years. But he’s never met anyone who touches his warrior soul, like Stella. Together they must face not only personal obstacles, but obstacles straight from hell!

Available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords for 99c.

An Unwilling Baroness:

Three years ago, Chloe allowed her heart’s desire to leave her. Now Jude is back, but between his mother, her father, and the Baron von Richter, is she destined to become an unwilling baroness?

Also available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords for 99c.

***

Thank you to Harris Channing for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read more about her at her blog.

Finally, there is an interview with me over at the blog of GW Jefferies.

 

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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11 Responses to Interview With Indie Romance & Erotica Writer Harris Channing

  1. Great interview and The Demon Is In The Details sounds like my kind of read.

    Thanks for sharing, Harris!

  2. Brondt says:

    Interesting. I always like to hear from writers in other genres. It’s easy to get isolated in the fantasy or spec-fic crowd. I think, from what I’ve seen around forums and such, that the Kindle has really had a massive effect on the erotica genre, as Harris points out. There seem to be so many writing erotica who suddenly have an outlet to publish it more mainstream, and in that sense epublishing, I think, has done more for some genres than others…

    • I wonder also if it is easier to keep a secret identity with self-publishing. After all, the less people that know, the less chance there is of it getting out. If you have an agent and a publisher, that’s more people in the circle, and someone is bound to leak it at some point. Just a thought…

      • Brondt says:

        I think you’re definitely right about that. The anonymity works both ways: The author doesn’t have to go public, especially if his/her family and friends might disapprove, and the read hides behind the faceless Kindle, as you and Harris point out above.

  3. Thanks for posting this David.

    Yes, sometimes family does disapprove. When I excitedly told my mother that my first short story, THE BODY DOUBLE had been accepted by Whisky Creek Press Torrid (yep, an erotic short story) she said, “That’s great. But for God sake, don’t tell you grandmother.”

  4. Sean McGuire says:

    I never got the point of erotica. What’s the appeal? There’s the excitement of sex… but what happens after that? Please call me out if I’m wrong, but the point of erotica seems to be to excite readers. Do you need good characters for that? Do you need a good storyline, or good conflict for that? I’m not trying to put anyone down, but I’m trying to understand this genre.

    When it comes to sex in literature, I’ve always found it to be more powerful when it’s implied. The best love scene I ever read was in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope”. Snicket never writes a word about when the couple actually kisses. But somehow implying it makes it far sweeter than actually writing it down.

    • Sean,

      I think that as with all genres you will have writers with strong plots and characters and those who don’t. I’m betting the more successful erotica writers are in the first camp. I can’t answer your question as I don’t tend to read erotica or romance, but there is a huge audience out there for it. I would think that for any book from any genre to be successful you would need those ingredients. Obviously, with some genres (like memoir or literary fiction) there is a stronger emphasis on character development – but then its detractors would say that it does so at the expense of plot and story. Different strokes etc.

      Regarding your larger point re. sex in literature I think it really depends. Does the scene drive the story forward? If not, then maybe it’s superfluous. Sometimes it’s better when it’s implied (or even when the relationship is never consummated. However, one of the filthiest books I ever read was The Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking.

      Dave

  5. Actually, I find that erotic romance and erotica are different. With my stories, they’re love stories with sex not sex with no plot. The difference between an erotic romance and a traditional romance is the language pertaining to the act itself and the frequency of the scenes. Yes, I’ve written short erotica pieces, but the bulk of my work is romance with sex.

    As for your not seeing the point of it, that’s fine. Don’t read it. Mostly, women read it, I find and Sean, I’m supposing your a man. But with that said, I’ve never seen the point of Playboy bunnies…but Playgirl dudes, I see the attraction.

    As with any genre, there will be detractors and even though I enjoyed writing my erotic romances, I enjoyed writing An Unwilling Baroness and there’s absolutely no sex in that book. That’s one of the beauties of being in Indie publishing, the freedom to write what I want regardless of subgenre. I am, however a romance novelist at heart.

    • Sean McGuire says:

      Thanks for being candid. As I said before, I mean no harm. It’s refreshing to hear a different point of view on this subject. Everyone I knew growing up didn’t like erotica. I have characters in my own novel that struggle with sexuality. It was great to hear a romance novelist speak about all that.

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