Tuesday, January 06, 2009

American Beauty - Why is it so hard to recreate a best selling book?

I asked the other day on this blog why sales might've been lower than I thought they should be for my M/M Christmas romance that released November 2008. Of course it could be the economy or Christmas shopping. Others said maybe M/M romance is getting glutted and/or finally dropping off. Ms. Jones said something to the effect of "Write another American Beauty." American Beauty is one of my biggest sellers, probably my number one. Like I replied in my comment, of course I'm trying, without copying it of course. It's hard to find the secret to a big seller. At least I think so IMHO. I try to write the best book every time I write one. I always try to top the last one. I've tried to recreate the formula for best sellers, but that doesn't necessarily work. Some others have a huge success with every book. Others have some books that stand out way in front of the others. American Beauty was an Eppie Finalist so that could be one reason why. It was good enough to final and it also has the Eppie logo. But I finaled with TWO books that same year. The other book, even though it was good enough to final and also had the Eppie logo, didn't sell nearly as well. In fact, the publisher didn't renew the contract. So those aren't the only two things that sell a book, either. Damn! So what is the perfect formula? Is it vampires? M/M? M/M/F? I wrote a vampire romance which is one of my poorest sellers. Some of my M/M's sell okay, but not as well as two of my M/M/Fs which also sold really well (The Perfect Gift by Total-E-Bound.com and Lady Makes Three by Ellora's Cave). In fact, American Beauty is a (stand alone) sequel to "Purrfect Justice" also published by Ellora's Cave. Purrfect Justice sold pretty well and I was thrilled when the judge at a court case I was almost on the jury for several months ago told me she read Purrfect Justice and loved it - in front of the other jurors and attorneys. Readers (and me) would get tired if I write American Beauty or The Perfect Gift over and over ad nauseum. And yet, I would love to recreate the magic that went into them. All I can do is study them. Dissect them. And try. But then, I'm trying with M/M's and M/M/F's like I tried with vampires and recreating and trying isn't always good enough. Suggestions anyone? REAL suggestions? American Beauty By Ashley Ladd Kirsty Engle is in shock when Bradley Miller, resplendent in a ball gown, feather boa, and tons of eye shadow, wants to rent her spare room. She can't understand why this obviously unavailable man makes her heart sing and her blood boil more than any other. Undercover police officer Lt. Brad Mueller curses his captain and the car thieves that are responsible for him being in such a totally ludicrous predicament. It's bad enough he has to dress like a babe, but he's received strict orders not to touch one for the duration of his secret mission, under threat of being fired from the force. This ladies' man doesn't know if he can stand his worse-than-death sentence - particularly after he falls for his sweet and very voluptuous landlady. As if all of that isn't bad enough, everything gets really crazy when Kirsty and her gay boss make a bet to see who can win his heart. A sizzling, hilarious romantic comedy. Review quotes for American Beauty by Ashley Ladd AMERICAN BEAUTY is a funny, off the wall romp. ~Carolyn, A Romance Review This story has likable characters, and a great supporting cast that will have you laughing out loud, and some sexy scenes that will have you lowering the air conditioner. ~ Five Roses out of Five ~ ~Dee Gentle, GWN Online Book Reviewer AMERICAN BEAUTY is incredibly humorous. ~Robin Taylor, In The Library Reviews EPPIE Finalst 2004

An Excerpt From: American Beauty

© Copyright Ashley Ladd, 2003.

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave, Inc.

He must’ve dozed off, for he awoke with a start when silky hair caressed his cheek and a lace-covered breast grazed his arm. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty,” a very sultry, husky voice crooned. “I brought home your favorite – Prime Rib and chocolate covered strawberries.” She perched on the couch beside him, leaning over him, her creamy breasts almost falling out of a slinky, frilly creation he was sure was illegal throughout the First World.

Had he thought of her as a sprite? Temptress was more like it. No, siren was the apt description. Those dusky aureoles peaked out at him again and his blood pressure shot sky high.

He swallowed hard, his pulse hammering and his breathing uneven. His cock sprung to full attention. He knew he should move away, make a joke, or do something to diffuse the dangerous situation, but he couldn’t. Not when she scooted back and rubbed against him, torturing him inhumanely.

She smelled of lilacs, vanilla, and strawberries. Then he realized it was an oddly smoky vanilla scent, and fresh juicy strawberries. He pried his gaze from her tight nipples and noticed for the first time how the dim lights flickered from candles on every surface. “Is it my birthday?” His voice crackled, sultrier than hers. His cock ached to get out of his palace and play. Down boy! It had only suffered a female drought for a few days, not the eon it felt like.

Kirsty licked her shiny lips, slow and languorously, her pink tongue just peeking out those luscious lips, promising pleasure beyond compare to any man brave enough to take up her invitation. And she undoubtedly invited him. But why? Until tonight, she’d been sweet and teetered on the shy side. Why had she morphed into this voluptuous seductress who knew all the moves, and flaunted her voluptuous body in sucking distance, to drive him so wild to forget himself and his mission?

Stars twinkled in her eyes and she ran a fingernail down his chest, which she let hover just below his navel, at the snap of his jeans. Her nipples strained against the see-through lace, taut little buds teasing him unmercifully.

He longed to touch the outer rim of her dusky areole, and his mouth went dry. He could taste it deep inside his mouth.

“What do you want for your birthday?” She leaned over him, and her bodice gaped open to give him a nearly full view of the gorgeous breast.

He sucked in his breath unable to tear his gaze from the perfect view. When she sat down again, rubbing against him, his shaft strained to be free. He didn’t know how much more torture he could stand. Never had he restrained himself before and he could barely remember why he needed to now. The female was not only willing, she was begging him to fuck her.


He almost fell off the couch, but rolled into her instead, increasing his pain to even more excruciating levels. “Starved,” he admitted, hoping she didn’t plan to tease and torture him all night like this. If she seduced him, as she surely seemed to be doing, he could succumb. Even Crowe couldn’t fault a red-blooded man for being unable to resist the lures of a nearly naked seductress.

“In that case,” a slow smile dawned over her face making her glow, “Open your mouth wide. I have something special for you.”

Available at Ellora's Cave

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Molly Daniels said...

How the hell did I manage to miss this one? I'll add it to my list ASAP!

No clue how to answer the 'what sells' question! Just write the book you want to read and hope for the best:)

Bronwyn Green said...

Sweetie, if I knew the answer to that...le sigh...

Anonymous said...

Ditto Bron's answer. And the cover may help too, I mean, whoa! :)

Regina Carlysle said...

For what it's worth my Nov. sales were just awful on a new release and it is a paranormal menage. Thought those usually sold well. Well, color me flummoxed. Maybe it's the economy/Christmas thing or maybe my book just didn't look all that interesting to e-shoppers.

But when you think about it, how many times have we read a favorite author and thought...hm, not as good as her last one. Does someone come out with a superlative book/song/movie and continually have to one-up themselves. WOW...talk about pressure.

The way I figure it. Some work and some don't. You forget it, shrug your shoulders and continue on doing the best you can.

Unknown said...

Okay - my sales are good. Why? Because I do not worry about what everyone else is writing and I write what I know. Look at your real life and the characters in it. They're the people readers identify with and want to read about - the flawed, the clumsy, the jobless, the not quite fashionable etc. American Beauty was excellent because the heroine was so real and identifiable. You knew her. You wanted her to succeed and get the hot guy. So do you know as much about MM sex/relationships? We can all ponder and imagine but unless we know,can we write it? Go back to who Ashley Ladd is. Oh, and the cover also sold that book.

As always I can be emailed me amarinda_jones@yahoo.com.au

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