Posted On February 9, 2018 by Print This Post

My Hotter Alter Ego, or Marketing with a Pseudonym by Amy Alessio

Welcome back to our favorite librarian Amy Alessio! Amy’s here to tell us what she’s been up to lately…

I find it interesting how many people tell me they’d like to try writing erotica under a pseudonym. This is usually followed by them asking me if I write about ….(some unusual kink).

As a librarian for over twenty years, I know that there are books for every type of reader. While some readers devour only one type of book, there are plenty of others who like hot romance and erotica as well as sweet stuff.  Romance readers are voracious. Variety in mood and media tastes can apply to books, too. I love Passionflix as well as Netflix Marvel series and medical dramas.

Readers will defy expectations. My friend Susan and I used to do booktalks at an area senior village. I brought large type books, Jan Karon, food themed mysteries – all things I enjoy. The audience was mostly disappointed with my selections.

“Do you have Cherry Adair in audiobooks?” One woman asked from her wheelchair. Others suggested we bring hotter books next time.  Yet another asked what other authors she’d enjoy now that she’d re-read Stephen King and V. C. Andrews several times and then proceeded to tell us that the suspense books we brought were “wimpy.”

I review over 150 books a year, mostly mystery and romance, for Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association. I’m assigned books with all levels of heat and types of relationships. After years of writing YA and sweet mysteries with recipes, which I still enjoy, I wanted to try writing some steamier stories like the ones I was enjoying reading. I admire the work and careers of Kit Rocha, Sylvia Day, Lauren Dane, Carrie Ann Ryan, Jade Lee, Livia Grant, Aya DeLeon, Caridad Pineiro and many more.

Another writer friend mentioned that she had part of a menage story written, and as we both had similar comfort levels with topics and strong work ethics, we wrote and published our two stories in  Three Hearts, the first in a four book series by Lia Violet and Ginger Leone.

While readers do defy expectations, these books are very different from the Alana O’Neill cozy mysteries I was writing. Authors who build a following for one type of book often use pseudonyms, including Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and J.K.Rowling/Robert Galbraith. Even Agatha Christie wrote romance and family stories as Mary Westmacott.

But marketing a new genre and name is not easy. It is starting a new business. It is a slow build. While we know many authors who make a steady living of publishing erotica, we have what we consider is a realistic two year business plan mapped out, and are slowly but steadily gaining ground under our new names. Patience and a willingness to experiment with writing and marketing are key to success with steamier romance especially.

Here are some tips (and things to avoid!) for writing and marketing with a pseudonym:

  1. Consistent writing and marketing: This isn’t news to anyone, but I’ve gone from squeezing writing in around work and family to making it a priority, being sure to write every day. As many erotica authors do, we publish short works on average every six weeks. I found people to do word sprints with online.

I also do a small aspect of marketing every day. We are still finding where our readers are, as some are on Twitter and some on Instagram, but we have been increasing and scheduling posts.

  1. But don’t overdo it: Ginger Leone, my writing partner, and I set up a FB review blog. We wear masks (anonymous, remember?) and do FB live reviews, as well as post memes. We bit off more than we could chew starting all this, and while we are not consistent posting there yet, it’s a big part of our plan for future growth. Initial reactions have been positive, and one romance publisher even promoted some of our videos. We turned back to the writing and publishing, adjusting our original marketing plan as it all become too much to do. We are still writing under our real names and working other jobs.

Basic marketing with pseudonyms should include: Gmail, twitter, Instagram and website with newsletter signup.

  1. Follow the Leaders: Reading erotica is necessary if you want to write it. Erotica is available at the library, either in print or in download forms that you can access from home. Don’t be shy about interlibrary loaning those hot titles. Library staff handle so many requests in one day it’s doubtful they’ll remember yours, even if you ask for good menage  or reverse harem stories.

Look at the big money makers, not just the critically successful authors. The ones who crank out weekly short stories – what are their topics? What do their covers look like? Sign up to judge contests where published erotica authors are participating, like Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume.

Network where erotica authors go, online and in person. I emailed some authors I really enjoyed, and many encouraged me and told me to keep in touch. You will have to let some key people know your pseudonym. Start with some trusted writer friends and critique partners and ask for their support. I’m shy about telling my pseudonym to people I see frequently but I knew some mom friends and co-workers who read a lot of romance, so I asked if they would like to read and give me their opinion. Many of them brought fans to our social media and online events.

Ginger and Lia joined Passionate Ink, and this year I’m enjoying being the VP of that RWA chapter. You don’t have to be a member to attend PI’s RWA conference social gathering or judge their contests.

Ginger and I are participating in promotions with other PI authors and in joint publications this year.

  1. Yet make yours unique: You do not have to have extensive and unusual sex knowledge to write popular erotica or steamy romance. Have fun with what you are writing, or this venture will not work at all.

Within erotic and steamier romance, there are lots of sub-genres.  While we are having fun exploring paranormal, menage and traditional couple erotic romance writing, we knew we wanted humor in all our stories. Shaye Marlow’s steamy yet hilarious style is similar to what I hope to achieve with Lia Violet’s voice.

Finding ways to make your story unique and memorable is as important as the hot lovemaking when you are building your author voice and brand. One of my recurring characters designs cloth sex bands and accessories for group sex, and I never fully describe what those are, or what they do. For example, all of my characters enjoy the “python” band, and I mention velcro and elastic, without further illustration.

  1. Understand what you are writing: Make sure what you’re writing is really considered erotica! Amazon keeps stories marked erotica by themselves and those are promoted quite different from romance. If you have a really sexy couple, chances are you’re writing romance and not erotica, even if the reader gets as much detail as a medical exam. Put those under romance categories.

Look at stories you read and which subject headings are most popular. Some people want unusual subjects to stand out, but readers will not hunt for things that specific. At this point you are casting a WIDE net for readers. Key erotica phrases we’ve seen are: menage, romantic erotica and phrases for key scenes in stories like swapping and swinging, threesome or handcuffs.

  1. Utilize Instafreebie, Bookfunnel and Newsletter swaps: These are very useful for pseudonyms. The free Instafreebie site will allow you to use 2 pen names. The monthly Instafreebie fee will keep names for a mailing list but even if you can’t invest that yet, it will get your book and name out in themed group promotions.  Newsletter swaps work when you build a newsletter, which you will do by having sign ups on social media and through giveaways. Even though these tools are used a lot, they are still popular.
  2. Make newsletters easier: In my work as an Author’s Assistant as one of my day jobs, I often encounter authors who are intimidated by newsletters.  While the newsletter list is crucial for marketing, especially with pseudonyms, there is no need to send them out except when you have a new release or sales promotion.

Building a newsletter quickly should involve offering a free story or hot scene for signing up. Mailchimp offers auto files for registration, and other companies may as well.

The newsletter should be very short. We all get lots of these already. Offer a quick personal message, book news, exclusive content (cut scenes or bonus character scenes), and a book recommendation from a different author.

  1. Employ strategic giveaways: There will never be a time when free books or gift certificates to book stores will not be popular.

Goodread giveaways have become expensive this year, but consider having a group giveaway with author friends. Many of done this, true, but people still want to enter drawings for $50 Amazon gift cards. I organized a giveaway with writer friends, and listed Amy and Lia as participating authors. We all chipped in $5 per pen name, and all got copies of the names of people who signed up for the giveaway, which clearly described what we were doing. When we sent a newsletter, we were clear that they were signed up because of the giveaway. Used sparingly, this method is a good way to start a list.

  1. Genre specific newsletters and websites: Amazon will not allow ads for erotica, and FB will not allow some types of content and covers. Find genre specific advertising. Ginger and I get a lot of sales from Excite Spice, which has reasonable costs. Use the pseudonym email to sign up for some erotica or steamy romance specific daily newsletters and sites to see which ones you like.

There are several FB erotica groups that encourage free posting and promotion. There are also still some popular blogs. Offer a guest post, or engage with those blogs to see where you can target your promotion. Ginger and I now use 1-2 places only per free or sale promotion and 5-6 for new books.

  1. Enjoy some sexy swag and fun contests: Moving beyond bachelorette party style favors to professional yet stylish swag is part of the brand, even with erotica. We were thrilled to have an opportunity to be part of a boxed genre promotion. We purchased heat-color changing spoons to try and stand out. They were fun, but not practical or really memorable. We did get action on our review blog, but we will go with chocolate or lip balms in the future.

We both entered a sexy scene contest, and got lots of great feedback and sales even if we didn’t move on far in the contest. Are there fun places and scene contests you can enter without a huge time or $$ commitment?  Some sex toy vendors even have sexy writing contests.

Valentine’s Day is a great time to explore reading or writing something hot, so have fun!


Join us next week for more RU!!


Bio: Amy Alessio is an award-winning librarian with a black belt in karate. She writes librarian reference books, including the co-authored 50+ Fandom Programs (ALA 2017). Her fiction includes the Amazon bestselling Alana O’Neill mysteries with vintage recipes. She also writes steamy romance as Lia Violet and is the 2017 VP of the Passionate Ink chapter of RWA. She teaches graduate-level young adult literature and webinars on book trends and social media. She enjoys helping authors find readers through her work at AuthorRx and she is a romance reviewer for Booklist. Learn more at and

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3 Responses to “My Hotter Alter Ego, or Marketing with a Pseudonym by Amy Alessio”

  1. Morning Amy!

    Sounds like a lot of hard work, but I’m hoping it pays off for you in the end! You go girl!

    So tell me, how do you determine if it’s erotica or just a hot romance?


    Posted by Carrie Peters | February 9, 2018, 9:21 am
  2. Great question, Carrie!

    I don’t see clear delineation with the Amazon subjects for stories with couples in a relationship w/o elements like BDSM.

    Stories and authors labeled as erotic usually have additional elements: BDSM, multiple partners, frequent and detailed sex scenes. It used to be more sex than feelings described erotica but there are plenty of current erotic authors with rich, in depth characters and storylines. The best thing for authors to do is read stories within the different subject headings and see where their story falls.

    Someone writing about a sexy couple is likely writing a hot romance and will want to choose those subject headings.

    Posted by Amy | February 9, 2018, 10:23 am
  3. One of the best article I have read here, you have a great writing sources.

    Posted by Part time CFO services UAE | February 21, 2018, 11:14 pm

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