How I Made it Into The New York Times

This post is going to be difficult to keep brief, so bear with me.

Let’s start with the story, which appeared in the Sunday edition of the New York Times on August 26th, 2012.

The title was “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy,” and it was written by Mr. David Streitfeld who is a reporter for the newspaper.

In order to understand my role in this story, we’ll have to back track a little so I can explain in as few words as possible.

Finding Reviewers for Self-Published Books

I self-published my memoir in November of 2010. In the search for publicity and book reviews, I stumbled upon a paid review service offered by Kirkus. They had a long history in the publishing industry and seemed reputable enough, so I figured their reviewers would be objective.

Alas, the price tag on their reviews for self-published books was upwards of $400 – a bit out of my budget at that time.

I figured there must be others like them at more reasonable prices, so I did a Google search. I must say that until that day, I’d NEVER clicked on a Google ad. Boy, did that turn out to be a mistake.

I saw a single ad on the right side of my screen for a site called GettingBookReviews.com. They offered reviews for $99 instead, which I decided to take a chance on.

Can Paid Reviews be Written Fairly?

That’s where it all started. The site was run by a guy named Todd Rutherford. He did what I refer to as “dicking around” for over a month, when the review was promised to be delivered in 7-10 days. That wasn’t my main issue with him, however. Upon further research, I learned that Mr. Rutherford’s company was recruiting freelance writers from Craigslist and only offering to pay them for five star reviews.

Being a freelance writer myself, that was a huge turn off for me. I was having second thoughts about this already. What troubled me most about it all was that I heard nothing from this guy after putting in my order. Every time I exchanged emails with him, it was because I took the initiative to contact him first. After a couple of weeks, he still had no update for me unless I bugged him about it. Not how you treat customers, in my opinion.

Finally, after all the unsavory things I discovered about Mr. Rutherford and after waiting several weeks, I simply wanted nothing to do with him. I asked him for a refund and wished to be done dealing with him. He responded by refusing to give me my money back, which pissed me off pretty bad. I didn’t want his review. I wouldn’t use it. I just wanted my money and hoped to never speak with this guy again.

The Power of One Pissed Off Customer

So I wrote a nasty rant about his service.

I informed him that I would be posting this letter on all the consumer complaint sites that I could find, which was a threat that I more than followed through with.

I spread it as far and wide as I possibly could. So far and wide, in fact, that on August 8th, 2011, I received an email from Mr. Streitfeld of the New York Times who said he wished to speak to me without telling me what the email was regarding.

I honestly wasn’t sure why I’d get an email from a reporter for the Times, but I was terribly curious and so I called the phone number he left in his email and once I had him on the phone, he told me that he had found my rant and explained that paid and fake reviews were topics he had been covering a great deal.

Meeting In Person

Nearly eight months passed and I was edited out of another story written on the same topic by Mr. Streitfeld. My part shrank until there was no room for me at all, he explained. I understood. But he did keep telling me that it would happen eventually.

Then on April 3rd, 2012 I received another email from him telling me that he would be visiting Portland soon and wanted to know if I could meet up with him in person to talk while he was in town. I said yes and we ended up meeting at a coffee shop near my house on the 10th of that same month.

We spoke for probably a couple of hours total. We talked more about paid reviews, the ethics involved and about writing books in general. It was a thought provoking discussion to say the least.

So after we parted ways, I waited some more. I next heard from him on July 19th. All he said was that he was still writing the story.

The Photo Shoot

Less than a week after that, they sent a freelance photographer named Leah Nash over to my house to shoot some photos of me. We took some of me on my couch in the living room and then moved outside to the deck. The one that was in the newspaper was from the second group, and wasn’t my favorite of all the ones taken at all. Oh well.

She was a very friendly and interesting lady and it was fun talking with her.

Check out the photos on her website.

Over A Year Later…

So it might have taken over a year until it finally happened, but the story was finally published in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times in August of 2012. I went downtown to buy a print copy and was surprised to see Mr. Rutherford’s face looking at me from the cover of the business section. The piece is very long for a story in the newspaper. But man did it shake people up!

On the New York Times website, the story has over 300 comments. Most of them express pretty strongly worded opinions about the whole concept, from both sides of the fence.

So what do you guys think about all this? Share in the comments.

Why Trash Talking Competitors is Lame

So earlier today, I somehow managed to accidentally click some link that took me to a rather hideous promotional page promoting Microsoft’s search engine – Bing.

Here is a screenshot (click the image for full-size if you can’t read the text):

trash talking competitors

Now, I don’t know anything about this legal case at all. In fact, this was the first I had heard about it. First sign that it’s not nearly as noteworthy as Microsoft would like for us to believe it was.

However, I don’t need to know the details to come to one clear conclusion: Microsoft is trash talking Google and in doing so is hoping that more people will use Bing when searching the web.

I don’t know about you, but this is pretty ineffective in my mind. And it really only backfires, especially when people who can think for themselves read this kind of crap.

Here are a few reasons why this kind of marketing sucks.

Name Calling Sucks

And sorry, but that’s exactly what this sounds like. It’s fine to use fear in marketing. In fact, I would argue that just about anything you’re trying to sell should be marketed with some amount of fear. Fear of something, whether it be an outcome or whatever else.

Basically the idea is to convince people that life without the product is so bad that they should be afraid of the very possibility and buy immediately.

All that is fine and good. Newspapers are masterful at this, just go grab one and read the headlines. Which ones are the most urgent and frightening? There you go.

BUT – this approach is totally ruined when you start name calling. Microsoft could easily have inspired fear regarding the invasion of privacy without pointing fingers at Google.

Honestly, if the court case was nearly as ground-breaking as they want us to think, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that most of the general public (who watch the News and shit) would pick up on the implied connection between the promo and the recent court ruling?

Mmm Hmm.

Appearing Desperate Sucks

Sorry, but my first thought after seeing this was that perhaps Microsoft is a bit SCARED themselves.

Could this screenshot have anything to do with their name calling strategy…?

I think it’s a good possibility.

Chrome has managed to grab more browser market share than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. And Google has always had the most market share when it comes to their search engine.

I guess Microsoft is none too happy about this. They must think their only hope lies in bashing on Google and convincing people that they are bad guys.

The Odds Are Against You

When you’re setting out to position yourself above the competition, shouldn’t you, um, actually be better than them to begin with?

Sorry, but if the fact is that more people are choosing to use Google’s browser and their search engine, then that means they already have more people on their side, so to speak. Microsoft better hope that people are going to change their minds over a single court case that honestly affected like zero people in any real measurable way.

I doubt this.

Besides, Microsoft has been taken to court a few times throughout its history as well…as have many large corporations. This isn’t unusual.

You Piss off Fans of the Competition

Okay, this is the biggest reason why you should probably not trash talk your competitors for your own gain…you piss off passionate fans of said competition and they create a spoof like the one I couldn’t resist hacking together in GIMP after seeing this bull shit.

Here is my version (click on it to enlarge):

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. But in all seriousness, what are your thoughts on using this type of strategy in your marketing? Yay, nay? Why is it or isn’t it cool? Share in the comments.

A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free From Pornography – W.T.F?

Okay, this is an all out rant. I can’t help myself. I don’t like attacking people for no reason, but when I feel like I DO have a reason, then all hell breaks loose.

So I opened up my Google+ account today, and the first thing that I see is a post for a new book entitled “A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free From Pornography: It’s not Just a Guy’s Problem.”

Overcome by sarcastic curiosity, I absolutely had to click it and check out the website.

First, before we continue with this very opinionated post, I would like to add a disclaimer: I HAVE NOT actually read this book.

I did, however, download the free sample offered on the website. I must say that glancing at the table of contents turned me off quite a bit. I struggled to make my way through the introduction, but couldn’t bring myself to finish even that much.

Okay, so here we go. I’m going to run down my list of very big personal issues I have with this entire concept, in no particular order.

Porn is Free, The Cure Will Cost You

Most porn on the internet is free, but curing yourself of your online porn addiction will cost you $3.99!

This is all that the authors of this book are going to charge their fellow Christian women who are “suffering from an addiction.” Seems pretty reasonable to me.

$3.99 is a nominal fee for getting God’s help on something like porn addiction, after all.

Strategically Priced

What pisses me off the most is how strategic the authors were in pricing this book on Amazon. Think they pulled the $3.99 price point out of their asses? Or maybe consulted with God on how much they should charge to do his job here?

Think again.

$3.99 is the minimum price required by Amazon for eligibility into their 70% royalty program for authors. That means that these people weren’t willing to settle for the 35% profit they would have made per book sale, had they priced it lower than this.

Claiming High Demand Doesn’t Add Up

Taking the last point a step further, the book claims that porn addiction is a widespread problem among the female Christian demographic. But if that’s really true, wouldn’t they expect to sell tons of copies? Wouldn’t it at least seem a likely possibility?

If they had expected tons of sales, I don’t see why they couldn’t have priced it at ninety-nine cents and taken the lower royalty percentage since they could bank on the fact that the book would sell in bulk.

I call bull shit again.

Where Are The Proceeds Going, Exactly?

Given the sensitive nature of this book’s subject matter, I would be very interested in where the profits are going on this product. Is the publisher/author donating the proceeds to the church, I hope?

I doubt it. My guess is the dollars are going straight into their pocket, which makes me slightly sick to my stomach.

Does Not Distinguish Normal Behavior From Addiction

Again, I haven’t read most of this book. However, from what little I did read and from scanning the table of contents, it does not seem to address one of the most important issues related to this entire topic.

As far as I can tell, it does not offer ANY sort of qualifying information to help the reader determine whether or not their consumption of pornography is in fact normal behavior, or if they are exhibiting the traits of a person suffering from an actual, legitimate addiction to said pornography.

Isn’t this, uh, like…KIND OF IMPORTANT?

Forgive me if I’m alone on this one, but I’d like to give the authors the benefit of the doubt here and assume that they are not trying to say that all viewing of porn can be explained by stating that the viewer suffers from an ailment, for fuck’s sake.

Isn’t This God’s Job, Not Yours?

And to wrap this up, my final issue with this entire concept is the fact that really at the end of the day, all these capitalist Christians are doing is chopping up the Bible and spewing out arbitrary quotations from what they claim is an already perfect text.

Why are they qualified to do this?

Is this something that God is even fucking cool with, honestly? Something tells me that the Bible was meant to speak for itself, and these people were not invited to reiterate it according to their own agenda.

But what do I know?

What do you guys think of all this absurdity? Share your reactions in the comments.

 

How to Make Money Selling Adult Content

Hey there, today I will be introducing you to a new online marketplace where you can create and sell amateur porn. It’s a site called ExtraLunchMoney, and it’s really awesome!

Introduction to Micro-Gig Sites

Maybe you’re familiar with a popular website called Fiverr that launched just over a year ago? In case you haven’t heard of it already, it was an interesting idea based around people selling services and completing tasks for a flat rate of $5 per gig.

As I started using the site and watching it unfold as they added new features and improved various elements of the user experience, I had a moment of inspiration and decided to post a gig offering to send buyers 5 adult photos of myself in exchange for $5.

Gig Sites Not So Adult Friendly

The good news? I made quite an impressive number of sales, somewhat to my surprise!

The not so good news? I soon found out that Fiverr prohibited any “adult-themed” gigs, and it didn’t take them very long to develop an effective gig approval system that made it impossible to create gigs to sell pictures.

My reaction? Someone needed to do this and give users the freedom of choosing what type of gigs they were willing to offer!

The things about Fiverr that basically suck does not end there. In fact, that is just the beginning in a long list of…well, bull shit.

For example, they take an entire dollar out of each sale you make through the site. That means you are actually only getting paid a measly $4 for whatever you are doing! I’m sorry, but that seems like too much to take out of what is such a small profit already!

It didn’t take long at all for about a trillion Fiverr clones to start springing up all over the web. But as far as I am aware, none of them have really taken off in the same way as Fiverr. More recently, they have made it possible for some users to offer upgrade services for additional costs with their gigs.

Then all I could do was wait for someone to see the same opportunity that I saw and create a site for adult gigs. It didn’t take too long, either!

I looked online for a site like the one I had in mind, and the only thing I could find at that time was a very sparingly designed site called FiveJizz. By the looks of things, someone created the site and abandoned it the next day! Not very promising.

Introducing: Extra Lunch Money!

Then, shortly after that I found the subscription form for a newsletter about a site that was soon to launch, called ExtraLunchMoney. The description of the site was exactly what I had been hoping for! I was excited and looked forward to hearing from them and anticipated their site going live!

It would be something like six months later when the site finally went live and I visited the domain for the first time. I had subscribed to the blog they had started shortly before this, and read their articles about where you could sell your adult photos and videos online.

ELM Avenue: Video Interviews With Adult Workers!

I noticed that they also had a category in their blog that featured video interviews. I clicked on it to check it out, and was pleasantly surprised! Their guests were all different types of adult workers from porn stars to authors and some cam girls too! I was immediately intrigued since I have over five years of experience working as an independent female escort.

After I returned to their website, a box in the lower right hand corner of the screen caught my eye. It was a live chat support widget that said I could send a message. So I opened it and wrote a short note, asking the person to please let me know when they had a moment to talk. I got a response right away, and the person on the other side of the screen seemed friendly and inviting.

After introducing myself, I explained that had been following their blog and watching the video interviews they posted there. I explained my background in the adult industry and offered them an interview with me, should they be interested. To my pleasant surprise, I got a positive response and later that day we booked a date for an interview via Skype, which I had never done before.

The gentleman’s name who I had spoke with was Benic, who turned out to be one of the coolest dudes in all of cyberspace! Our interview went very well and was a great experience for me. He was incredibly polite, respectful and quite obviously a very genuine type of person. If you’d like to watch the interview, you can find it here: Life as an Escort (part 2)

Custom Gigs + Paid Downloads = Multi-Income  Potential

I was quick to create my first gig on ELM once they opened the site up and started letting users create custom jobs. More recently, they added an option for paid downloads. That means you now have an opportunity to sell your adult photos and videos. This is exciting since it’s 100% passive income! I’ve sold many of my pics and vids on ELM so far.

Have you already created a couple of jobs on ELM and are wondering how you can start selling and making some money? I wrote a guest post for the ELM blog that talks about How to use Picasa Web Albums to Find New Customers. Be sure to check out some of my tips in there!