The wonderful and wickedly sassy Jax Cassidy is with us today, and we’re so excited to have her back! Jax is a dear friend, an awesome author, and a creative evil genius. Accomplished not only as a writer, but as a graphic designer, and one of the two great minds behind Romance Divas, an award-winning writer’s resource website and discussion forum with over 3,700 members, Jax never stops! Today’s interview theme is ‘Stayin’ Alive’, so let’s have a chat with this powerhouse to see how she’s surviving the challenges of today’s publishing industry!
Smutketeers: Jax, the Smutketeers tend to be nosy (one of our more charming features), so tell us something people might be surprised to know about you. And make it scandalous!
Jax: Scandalous, huh? I normally don’t kiss and tell but I’ve been known to strip down to my au naturale state in the name of comic book modeling. Let’s just say it was a very titillating experience. …
Smutketeers: You’ve been doing some interesting things with Smashwords. Tell us about this new publishing phenomenon, and about your Smashwords books.
Jax: About a year ago, my good friend Eva Gale had her rights reverted back for a series of short stories from her ePub. She had mentioned a desire to expand her readership and shared information about Smashwords. Her friends had experimented with this online platform and had successful results so she tried it out. In retrospect, I wish I had taken more of an initiative because, after a year since she put up her free reads, her stories are one of the most downloaded stories on their website–ever! Even their formatting guidebook uses one of her short stories as an example. Then and there, I decided I needed to get my stories up ASAP. I figured that as an author I promote on as many online venues as possible so this is no different than a type of online marketing campaign. Based on Smashwords professionalism and business structure, it was a win-win.
What I love most about Smashwords is that I get to control whether I want to sell my own stories or offer them for free for readers. Why hide those old manuscripts under the bed when you can just edit, format, and upload to get people familiar with your writing style. I haven’t put up any of my paranormal stories but from the results of my own experimentation…after the first 3-4 weeks of having my free reads available, I had around 2,000 downloads and counting. The responses were amazing and so I decided to put up a short story, DEVIL’S HEART to sell. I love this story! It’s set in Ireland and involves a hunky bar owner and a sexy indie singer. It’s a contemporary erotic that has a splash of fairytale and I even designed the cover.
What I took away from this experiment is that free reads will get you maximum exposure and heavy downloads but don’t expect to have high sales. The stories I’ve noticed that has grabbed lots of interest are ones that reach both the male and female audiences. As I mentioned, this release was a promotional experiment for me. It certainly helped bring in additional visibility but my money’s still on pursuing the traditional NY publishing route.
Smutketeers: The publishing industry is changing, and small press and e-books are becoming more familiar to the reading public. How do you think this will affect authors? Readers?
Jax: Any kind of publishing exposure is good exposure…more people are willing to try out eBook authors because it’s much cheaper and they won’t feel bad if they don’t like what they’ve bought. A lot of instant bestsellers have emerged from ePubs and small press and the numbers of them doing very well owe it all to ePublishing. I think there’s a wider demographic that ePubs and small press are able to tap into. They’re also more willing to take chances and publish stories that traditional publishers won’t.
In any industry, there are reputable and scandalous ePublishers out there but an authors job is to do the research before submitting. Don’t be eager to sign. Read the fine print on the contracts. Plan your future and see which ePub will help you get to where you need to go. There are so many online resources and so many ePub authors out there who will share information.
I’m thankful to have my start in both ePub and small press. It’s given me a chance to learn about the submission process, edits, deadlines, and proposals. The experience will help you out immensely when you get those big contracts. By that time, I’ll be prepared and at my best professionally!
Smutketeers: We know you now have an agent-the same agent who represents all of the Smutketeers, the amazing Roberta Brown of the Brown Literary Agency! Tell us a little about your writing history and the trials and joys you’ve been through. How have your writing goals and your career changed over time?
Jax: I can’t praise Roberta enough! She is the most amazing individual and has a gentle soul. She has a way of making you feel like the most special person in the world and her support has given me a huge boost during this economy. Getting signed by her was a total accident. She had rejected three of my proposals in a three-year period and I decided I’d wait to send her something fabulous when the time was right. Well, a few weeks before Thanksgiving a year and a half ago, I had written a short story I wanted to submit to Spice Briefs. I begged her to read over it and give me her thoughts on my story because I knew she had sold plenty of Briefs to Harlequin. A few days after I sent her the email, she wrote back and asked me to set up a time to speak with her. Let’s just say for Thanksgiving I had signed with my first choice agent… Still can’t believe it!
Everything is supposed to be great when you have one of the best agents in the biz, right?
In my case, I can say that it was the happiest and toughest time for me. Unfortunately the economy was swirling down the crapper the week I signed and publishers weren’t buying because they were undergoing re-organization and downsizing. Lucky me. I was no longer in the slush pile but on a whole other stack of slush pile for new authors with agents. Yep, there is a hierarchy to everything. My waits were shorter with an agent but unless you wrote what fit their bill, the days of trying to sell the book of your heart is virtually on hold. I still didn’t allow all this frustration and negativity to bring me down, so I kept writing and staying busy.
Although I had a full plate with my boutique design company and Romance Divas, I managed to submit two short stories and four proposals. I am currently trying to finish two manuscripts and 3 more proposals. The deadlines never cease even when you’re awaiting your fate. I truly learned so much about resilience, spirituality, internal strength, and staying positive because those things will keep that fire lit within you. I’m a firm believer that hard work and a strong work ethic will get me that big freakin’ contract. Just wait and see…
Smutketeers: What are you currently working on?
Jax: I am finishing up a paranormal romance that involves the world of Death. It’s not a fallen angel story but it’s the coolest world I’ve ever built in my head and I hope I’ll be able to share it with everyone someday real soon…
I’m also going to pick back up on an Italian contemporary I started eons ago but never had a chance to finish. I’m only one chapter away from being able to polish and send to my agent. In addition, I’ll be able to work on a very cool young adult series wrapped around Asian mythology and the elements. I can’t wait to try my hand at reaching the younger audience…of course, under a different pen name.
Smutketeers: What are your favorite genres to read? To write?
Jax: I LOVE contemporaries but I don’t limit myself to just that genre. I enjoy historical, some paranormal and erotica books. Sad to say I don’t have many opportunities to read but when I do, I can go through a stack of books in a day or two.
I never say ‘never’. I think anyone who writes historicals are brilliant. I have entertained the thought but my first love is contemporaries. Paranormals are fun to delve into when I’m in that dark headspace and need the release. Perhaps someday I’ll write a historical set in Vietnam. I think most people might not find it the most romantic or exotic country because predominantly Chinese and Japanese stories have always been at the forefront..but I’m proud of my heritage and I hope someday I can talk about all those amazing figures in history that I learned about and bring them to life!
Smutketeers: Do you believe in love at first sight, or do you think it’s lust at first sight that can turn into something more?
Jax: I’m a firm believer in soul mates and destiny. I have totally fallen in love at first sight (even had lust at first sight) but it’s even more amazing when the emotional, physical, and mental is solidified through a strong relationship. That’s when the passion never wavers and the other person is the very air you need to breathe and keep you alive. I’ve found my Mr. Right so I can tell you I have firsthand experience on this topic.
Smutketeers: What else do you want to tell our Smutkedettes and others reading the blog today?
Jax: I live by the philosophy of helping others, staying true to yourself, and indulging in whatever it is that will make you feel alive. I wish I had more free time to focus on charities, fighting against human trafficking, feeding and helping the less fortunate…but every chance I get, I try to do one act of kindness. I think that in this time and age, a lot of people have forgotten about just being nice. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Open doors, smile, help someone whose hands are full, thank someone…I guarantee you’ll feel good about yourself if you try it.
I always sign my books with “Live with Purpose, Love with Passion” and it’s something I feel strongly about. Writing has helped me through so many personal hurdles, health issues, and so much more that’s happened in my life. It’s given me an outlet and it’s a gift that I never take it for granted. I hope that when someone reads one of my stories, they’re able to escape, laugh, cry, or feel anything at all…in knowing that, I have done my job as a writer. Thanks for inviting me into your livingroom!
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We always have to end with our classic Smutketeer rapid-fire questions-so here goes!
~Love or lust? Love
~Big wedding or awesome honeymoon? Awesome honeymoon
~Daniel Craig or David Beckham? Daniel Craig (Hubba hubba)
~Rock star or Regency rake? Rock star
~Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
~Mini skirt or cute jeans? Cute jeans (Of course! I’m a jeans addict)
~Tropical beach or mountain ski lodge? Tropical beach (where I can run around naked)
~Raspberry mojito or mango margarita? Raspberry mojito (I love those girly drinks with a bit of color)
Smutketeers: Where can we find you on the web? Do you have any appearances coming up so readers can see your fabulousness in person?
You can find me online and on my social networks:
Romance Divas: http://romancedivas.com
You can meet me live for these events:
July 10, 2010
CFRWA Meeting: Group panel on preparing for RWA Conference
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
July 10, 2010
880 W State Road 436
Altamonte Springs, FL
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
July 26 – August 1, 2010
RWA National Conference
November 6, 2010
CFRWA Multi-author Holiday Book Signing
Barnes and Noble
Altamonte Springs, FL
Smutketeers: Thanks for coming to visit us today, Jax-you’ve worn us out, and that’s no easy task-whew! But you know you’re always welcome here-we luvs ya, Jax!
Jax: Thanks for the love. I may not be as kinky as you Smutketeers but I won’t divulge all my little secrets or show you the skeletons in my closet. Some things are better left behind closed doors.
Love you all and thanks for giving me the opportunity to ramble!!!!
CONTEST: To show our appreciation for our blog readers, we’re running a contest! Just post here with the names of any two of Jax’s heroes (you’ll have to visit her website to find out!) and we’ll give one lucky winner a copy of Eden’s kinky e-book BREAKING SKYE, and another winner a copy of one of R.G.’s e-books-anything from her backlist-go to her website to see what she’s got available!
BTW, Smutkedettes, Eden is blogging today with the Lolitas over at the Steamed blog about the making of her Eve Berlin costume for the Smutketeers’ recent photo shoot-and we promise those pics will be revealed here soon! Come on by and say hello! http://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/