Confession: I'm secretly a woman / by Josh Guess

Not in the "I have a vagina and am capable of gestating a fetus inside me" kind of way. I'm a male in all the important ways, but there is a part of me that's actually female. She's a pen name. And no, I'm absolutely not going to tell you what it is.

Let me explain.

I've wanted to branch out and write some short fiction for a while now, mostly in the erotica category. I'm not ashamed of that fact, but I decided to create a female identity for myself for what were initially very practical reasons.

One: people seem to read female erotica authors way more than men.

Two: Given that erotica is definitely *not* my genre, if they got negative attention my main works and reputation wouldn't suffer because of it.

Three: I figured it would be a nice stream of extra income.

Now, those three things remain true, but I've come to see the whole thing as a kind of experiment. Living With the Dead has a small but dedicated fan base, and that's awesome. I've got this blog as well, and facebook, and twitter, and many outlets to expand my readership. Again, good stuff. But with this new identity, I have a chance to see how I can do without all of that. No web pages, no author profile, not a damn thing except my work and Amazon.

So far, it's not bad. The first short story I wrote is on the Kindle Lending Library, and I gave it away for all five of my free days. Almost a thousand downloads of it, and since the promotion ended I've sold ten copies. That's three dollars and fifty cents in royalties. Not much, true, but that's with zero marketing or promotions in any way except making it free for five days.

I expect that once I have a few more stories out there I'll do even better. Many, many authors put their book or story out on the Kindle and get a few sales a month. I'm happy with ten in five days. I'm always trying to figure out ways to boost sales (and thus my income) but the truth is that J.A. Konrath is right--writing and indie publishing on the Kindle is a marathon, not a sprint. Building a catalog of quality work is much more likely to make you money in the long term.

Which is what I've been trying to do. Now I'm just doing it as an imaginary woman also. It's tons of fun.

I'll update off and on down the road as this experiment unfolds. I don't have any illusions that I'll get rich selling short stories at ninety-nine cents, but the potential for a nice stream of extra income is there. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Which is the best kind of optimistic to be, really.