In this episode, we talk to best-selling romance and erotica author, Jade West, about writing very spicy and often hardcore books, the elusive and surprising inner workings of the TikTok algorithm, and having your books go viral. We hope you enjoy this enlightening conversation on marketing erotica, authenticity in writing, self-publishing as a writer of spicy books, and how to write a good sex scene, and more!
- We asked Jade how she began her writing journey, and how she found herself drawn to writing erotica
- Jade offered some tips on marketing erotica, and how her background in sales and marketing helped with this task
- We learn more about how Jade learned about TikTok and how some of her books went viral and shot up the sales chart thanks to BookTok
- We ask how she got started making her own content, and why she chose to make that move, and how she creates her content (and a sneak peek at who helps her out)
- Jade talks about how she “palette cleanses” between novels, what she reads, and how she finds books she loves
- We ask Jade about writing sex scenes in novels, and how to write realistic and authentic sexual encounters between characters, and her interest in the “realness of erotica”
- And much more!
Hello Stranger (audiobook)
Sugar Daddies (audiobook)
Mentioned in this episode:
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon
Ice Planet Barbarians (audiobook) by Ruby Dixon, narrated by Hollie Jackson and Mason Lloyd
The Silver Cage by Anonymous
Jade has increasingly little to say about herself as time goes on, other than the fact she is an author, but she’s plenty happy with this. Living in imaginary realities and having a legitimate excuse for it is really all she’s ever wanted. Jade is as dirty as you’d expect from her novels, and talking smut makes her smile. She lives in the Powys countryside with a couple of hounds and a guy who’s able to cope with her inherent weirdness. She has a zebra print living room, and fights a constant battle with her addiction to Coca-Cola.
Transcription by www.speechpad.com
Joni: Hey, writers, you’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your host. I’m Joni, author relations manager at Kobo Writing Life.
Rachel: And I’m Rachel, promotion specialist at Kobo Writing Life. Before we get into this episode, we do have a little bit of housekeeping up top and that is, this will be the last episode that Joni is co-hosting, as much as I am going to desperately miss co-hosting this podcast with Joni, she is off to new and exciting opportunities. I’m very excited for her while simultaneously being very upset for both me and everybody who listens to this podcast.
Joni: Aw, Rachel, don’t make me cry. This has truly been one of the most fun parts of the job and working with you has been amazing as you know.
Rachel: I know.
Joni: So, let’s not drag this part out. Let’s get right into it. My last interview here was with Jade West who writes spicy books.
Rachel: We had a lot of fun talking to Jade about writing spicy books and also about how to market erotica. And we really got into, as we’ve discussed before on this podcast, the amazing word-of-mouth machine that is the TikTok algorithm and how it works to sell books. And Jade talks to us a lot about how she stumbled into TikTok, a couple of her books that have gone viral, and how she creates her own content. It was a lot of fun talking to Jade. If you need advice on writing or marketing spicy books, this is for you and we hope you enjoy.
We are joined today with author Jade West. Jade, thank you so much for joining us.
Jade: Oh, you are very welcome. It’s fantastic to be here. Thank you very much.
Rachel: Can you kind of kick us off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and what kind of books you like to write?
Jade: Yeah. Well, I’m known for writing pretty hardcore romance books, in that they are very explicit. Yeah. And they have quite a different theme of tones. So, some of them are a lot lighter, some of them a lot darker. But the one thing they all generally have in common is that they’re dirty to put it mildly. So, that’s generally what I class my novels as is. They touch some dirtier topics, so…
Rachel: I love it. I love it. A little bit spicy.
Jade: A little bit spicy, is one way of looking at it. Most definitely. Yeah, it’s always interesting telling people what I write, like, in general. Because they’re like, great, “You’re in author. What you write?” And I’m like, “Romance.” And they’re like, “Oh, wow, okay. Like, yeah, what kind of romance?” It’s always, “Well, it’s dirty,” and they always go, “What, like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.'” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, yeah, kind of.” “Fifty Shades of Grey” contains themes of other things as well. Yeah, so, I’m generally, known for writing pretty hardcore stuff, but yeah, that’s what I love. So, can’t really…
Rachel: I love to hear that.
Joni: And you’ve been writing for about seven years, is that right? Or you’ve been publishing for seven years?
Jade: Yeah, my first novel “Dirty Bad Wrong” came out in February 2015. So, the years have really sped by, like, it doesn’t seem all that long ago from writing the first one. Now all of a sudden, it’s like there’s a whole catalog of them and it’s like, “Wow, where did those seven years go?” It’s been crazy. But yeah, I love it. My entire life’s consumed by it. So, yeah, since I first hit publish in 2015 with “Dirty Bad Wrong,” it’s been, yeah, just consumed me forever. And drives everyone mad because when I’m writing a book, I don’t shut up about it ever. So, everyone’s like, “Here we go, here begins the process of a new completely fictional world. Let’s get set for all the characters now.” I talk about them like they’re real people all the time.
Joni: And can you tell us a bit about your publishing journey? How did you get from writing to actually publishing and getting your books out there?
Jade: It was always something that I was really interested in. And at the time, you know, all those seven years ago it was at the time where people, you know, generally were hitting self-publish and things like that. I’ve worked with the same editor the entire journey. So, I work with him developmentally. So, he does my chapters as I go, and then we reach the end and go through the whole thing over again. And then, so yeah, the first moment I hit publish myself was kind of crazy because you always hope for something. And then I hit publish and it hit 68 in the Kindle Store and it was just like, “Wow.” You know, I just still remember the shock factor of just seeing where it was and it just kind of hit that high. And from then I’ve just self-published myself apart from when I worked with the “Heartless,” “Soulless,” “Relentless” trilogy, which is my one on the wide platform. And I worked with Dangerous Press on that, which was really exciting as well, just to have that other involvement from…and being part of that be someone else’s universe effectively and having your own character set and going, “Right, let’s see how they fit in and work.” And it was… So apart from that, yeah, I’ve self-published, apart from through Dangerous Press, which has been really exciting one.
Rachel: And have you always wanted to write? Is like being an author kind of the dream for you? Or how did you fall in love with writing, I guess is the question?
Jade: You know, it’s been since I was a kid, I think. I was always known for English at school. And again, I used to come up with these fantasy worlds and kind of, you know, live in them. And my first one was the “Magic Kingdom of the Unicorn” or something. I had a tiny little earring, this rainbow jewel earring and I remember thinking this could be the sacred jewel of the unicorn. And I had a picture on the front cover of this unicorn chasing this jewel and it became like a mini book. And so ever since then, no one’s that surprised I went into writing. It just became crazy. So, when I actually finished, it’s always a weird feeling finishing your first novel, like actually writing it from beginning to end and going, “Oh my God, that’s like, that’s my book. I’ve written a full-length novel,” but nobody who knows me was that surprised that I ended up being a writer because I was just absolutely besotted with imaginary characters, and building stories around it, and that kind of thing. So, yeah, I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve always wanted to do it. Yeah, so here I’m. So, it’s amazing to have to do it really. It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m grateful for it every day because a lot of it’s down to readers, obviously. If the readers aren’t there, you can’t be a writer. So, I’m always grateful for that.
Rachel: How did you make the shift in your writing from magical unicorns to dirty erotica, spicy books? How did that journey progress? How did you fall in love with writing erotica?
Jade: I read Jilly Cooper’s “Polo” when I was young. And then my first boyfriend was very adventurous and there we go. So, that’s when it happened. I also did chat line for a year. So, I made my income then on talking to people about filth every day, which I also loved. So, the hybrid of a fantasy universe, a very dirty boyfriend, Jilly Cooper’s “Polo,” and doing chat line I guess is the culmination of what I write now. But yeah, I love it. Like, I just adore it and that doesn’t surprise anybody either who knows me generally, it’s like, “Yeah, okay, not a surprise.”
Joni: I know that… What we’ve heard a lot from authors is that they really struggle with marketing erotica. Do you find that it’s more challenging to market or do you have any tips for people who are struggling to know how to do that?
Jade: Weirdly, I mean, the thing I did as well as chat line for a long time was, I was in sales and marketing for 16 years. So, it was kind of, I was used to taking other people’s products and brands to market. So, really it was a similar kind of thing. And again, it’s like anything, you know, you can take any product to market generally, you know, I did everything from, you know, cleaning chemical franchises right through to like high-end IT, like specific, you know, products to the legal sector and that kind of thing. So, I thought, well, is the publishing world really gonna be any different from that? It’s still taking a product to market. A lot of it was based on social media at that point as well. It still is. So, it was again, looking at branding, looking at what kind of product you wanted to work on. I mean mine was very natural. So, for any… You’re asking me, would I have any advice for authors starting? Was that what you…
Joni: I think specifically for marketing erotica because from what I understand, a lot of the platforms are more conservative about what they let authors market.
Jade: Definitely. I think a key for that is to make sure, for me, that it’s quite authentic-sounding. That as well, you have the expression in it that you combine it with always like to mainly center mind around characters so that people go on the character journey and they happen to be specifically interested in whatever they’re interested in. Yeah, the platforms can be difficult. The main thing I’ve always found is to make it clear what you are writing and to make sure that the blurb makes it obvious that it’s gonna be hardcore so people don’t get shocked by it, I think is the case. Because nobody wants to pick up a book that contains hardcore BDSM scenes and think it’s like a romcom and everyone’s like, “Oh, lovely, lovely.” And then you don’t go, lovely, lovely. And then like, “Right,” then let’s take a cane and give you thwack or whatever. So, I think it’s, yeah, authenticity, making sure that you’re careful with what you release and that people know what to expect from it. And really just go with your heart on it, I think. And make sure…
The other thing, of course, again, is branding. I’ve worked with Letitia Hasser from RBA Designs right from the beginning because I love to work and I looked in the top 100 before I released. And so much of my genre was… I had the covers by her and I contacted her and said, “Wow, I absolutely love your work, could you please work with me?” And hence, she came up with the cover for “Dirty Bad Wrong,” which is one of my… Well, they’re all, hey, they’re all striking, but again, that just summed up so well what the novel was. And so I’ve got her to thank for a lot of that because she just took it and flew. And I still remember to this day seeing it and going, “Oh, wow.” And if you get wowed by it yourself, then hopefully when it hits everybody else, they have the same response to it. So, it’s one of those things. Also, people learn as they go along. I think a lot of the time, especially now the market, I think the market’s a lot more crowded now than it used to be. So, I wouldn’t necessarily envy anybody particularly starting out on their journey so much now. But yeah, I think there’s room quite often for everybody. And readers love to read so much, which is fantastic. It’s amazing to see people get so excited and, “Oh, I’ve read this book, and this book, and this book, and this…” and it’s absolutely fantastic. So, yeah, if you hit the right mood, the right branding, the right authenticity about it, yeah, the world’s your oyster then. I love that, seeing authors come up as well and seeing their initial book and then talking to them and seeing how they grow as, you know, releases of erotica ultimately. I think it’s absolutely fantastic.
Joni: I actually think that what you did with finding a cover designer that works in your genre or in your particular niche is a really great tip because I think authors, especially when they’re starting out, not everyone does that. Not everyone looks at the area that they’re wanting to publish and to see what the… Like you don’t want your book to look the same as everyone else’s, but you want it to fit into something. So, I think that’s a great way to do it, to find one specific artist who you know you’ll work well with.
Jade: That’s it. And the continuity of it. Like, I’ve always worked with Letitia, and she understands them as well, what my covers look like, what my, you know, reader base likes and I trust her massively to give her an idea and say, “This is what the book is.” And she always comes back and absolutely floors me with it. And that’s just such a good sign if you are genuinely floored by your own cover, like, “Oh my God, wow.” But that’s something I think as you were saying, that awareness of market and knowing that your cover is gonna hopefully wow people and they’re gonna get instantly what it is, is massively important. Because I do think a lot of authors start out and they…that’s maybe one of the areas they don’t do something, they sort of try and maybe put a cover together themselves, which is sometimes fantastic, or they just don’t strike it just quite right. So, that’s probably one of my biggest tips of all is, get your cover right, get your blurb right, make sure people see it, stops them dead in their tracks, hopefully on social media. And people go, “Oh, wow, is this a book on X, Y, Z?” So, yeah, I’d recommend covers all the way. Just covers, covers, covers. And then especially editions now is another thing. People are loving the discreet covers a lot more now. So, you have your… This is the cover and also check out this version of it. I think people are loving that more and more.
Rachel: And you mentioned having the continuity in your covers because you use the same cover designer. Do you think having that continuity and a cohesive author brand all around is really important?
Jade: Yeah, I’d say 100%.
Rachel: And how do you kind of come up with what your author brand is gonna be like using your marketing background? How did you come up with like, “Ah, this is what Jade West books are gonna look like, this is what my website is gonna look like, etc.?”
Jade: Well, for me, the other thing that I did, well, I wanted to do with my brand as such was when I started, it seemed to me, because I love erotica, I love sexuality. And at the time it seemed quite early on that there was the one half that was, as they call it, the light romance, and there was the dark side. And in some ways, it was almost like the dark side was an excuse for the sexuality. Like, okay, this is hardcore and it’s because she’s been dragged into X or whatever. And I thought, well, actually, you can have the perfectly light story with the perfectly hardcore erotica. And that’s what I think was the combination for me. And with the branding side, the main thing that I wanted to keep known for was the natural erotic content. And so with the cover designs, I mean, my most famous one is “Sugar Daddies” and it’s got a specific kind of font and things on it. It’s very obvious, it’s a light one because the coloring is very pink, but anyone who’s seen “Sugar Daddies” has no illusion whatsoever what it’s about. It’s a girl, if no one’s seen it, with two lollipops, it’s obvious what it’s about. But yeah, it’s also, it’s just a girl with lollies, so, you know, but, and it’s the striking aspect. So, I love mouths on covers, for instance, that kinda thing. But yeah, and there’s other ones that aren’t quite… But generally, yeah, tone on the cover is also important. “Sugar Daddies” is effectively a menage romcom, pink, but with two lollies. So, that says a lot about the book, I think. I hope so. It seems to.
Jade: So, that’s the main thing as well. Finding your brand and sticking to it is the other thing as well is making sure that whatever people pick up, they can still be shocked, but they’re gonna know ultimately what it is that you write, for me, was a major one.
Joni: So, you mentioned “Fifty Shades,” and I don’t wanna give too much credit to that book particularly, but I do feel like among the release of that book, there was a bit of a shift in how… Because I don’t think it was the first book that people were reading that was erotica by any standards, but it went very, very mainstream. Did you feel like it made a change in the industry to sort of have people openly reading this kind of thing on the streetcar, or on the bus, or publicly? Like, I do think it changed with that book.
Jade: One hundred percent. I remember reading it myself and being like, “Oh my God, you know, you can walk into a supermarket and get a book on BDSM.” Like, and I loved it. I devoured the whole thing in like no time. And before, I mean, I remember when I first got one of my own personal favorite, erotica books, and it was this paperback tattered thing that someone had got from some sort of secondhand store. And I remember flicking through all the short stories in it and thinking like, “Oh my God,” like, you used to have to get them from pretty hardcore shops at that point, and it was like a shelf of them, you know. And then all of a sudden “Fifty Shades” hit. And it’s like, yeah, for me, I give huge credit to that book because it was such an amazing one. And from that point, everyone was like, “Wow, let’s explore this,” I think. And yeah, huge, huge respect, huge respect for that and for the really high-end, you know, ones that followed.
Joni: Yeah, it seems like it opened the floodgates to just say, “Oh, this content is something that people are looking for and people are coming out of the shadows of where they were reading it before.” I think.
Jade: Most definitely. And also then there was almost like a snowball effect because this is the other thing, I mean, people are getting so more and so more open-minded now. I think it’s increasing hugely all the time. And also people have surprised me, so, you know, in a great way. I mean, one of my books “Call Me Daddy,” which again, the title is the other thing. The title says it all, you know, it’s not that confusing about, in terms of what the title is. And I remember thinking at the time, you know, I love this book, obviously, you wanna love your own books, but is this too much for people? Are people gonna really wanna pick up a book called “Call Me Daddy?” I hope so. And it was the highest hitting in the charts. It hit number 10 in the Kindle Store and it’s like, okay, I guess people do wanna read a book called “Call Me Daddy.” And since then it’s gone absolutely amazingly crazy with all sorts of paranormal. Shifter romance, there’s everything from giant aliens, we have tentacles that do this, and that, and everything else, and forced captivity. And it’s just gone boom. And I love that about it, that people are just so open to explore what they want now in erotica and what’s gonna please them I think is absolutely fantastic. I love that open-minded thing. So, yeah, it starts with the greats like “Fifty Shades” and now it’s alien tentacle erotica. So, amazing. I haven’t gone down that route yet myself, but I have read a bit and was quite pleasantly surprised. I was like, wow, maybe I do like giant blue aliens with alien parts.
Rachel: Well, and just like speaking about the infamous giant blue alien, a lot of that steam picked up off of TikTok and BookTalk. Where people are now like, I feel like the snowball has kept going, where now it’s not people are more comfortable reading erotica in public, it’s also, people are more comfortable talking about it on a very public platform. Do you think that, like, the advent of TikTok and BookTalk has also allowed the industry to kind of continue to boom?
Jade: One hundred percent, 100%. TikTok, I mean, I’ve got a stepson who’s 19 and he was constantly on TikTok, like, I didn’t get it, to be honest. Like, he’ll be there and then just be like this random stream of like, just ran-…there’s just noise. And I was like, “What is that?” And he’d be like, “It’s TikTok.” And I just didn’t get it. I mean, I’m almost 40, so I was like, “I’m just too old for it, whatever.” And I was like, “Okay, fine.” And then BookTalk took off. And I remember I was there the one day and all of a sudden “Sugar Daddies.” So, it was, you know, it’s five years old at the point, just took off and just hit top 100 again. And I was just completely flabbergasted, like, where’s this come from? And it was a viral, I think it must have been one huge viral video on TikTok that then spins the rest, and all of a sudden there’s more and more TikToks about it. It literally shot Sugar back into top 100. And, of course, then I got on TikTok and the amount of people, amazing people talking, reviewing, sharing, posting crazy-like books, clicking pictures with like videos with quotes and stuff. And then before, you know it you’re sucked in. Like, I know I’ll just sit and scroll through and I’m like, “Ooh, I’ll bag that one to my read list. Ooh, ooh, hang on, how about that one?” That’s how I ended up reading about a “Big Blue Alien” was just like, how can I not, like, it’s all over TikTok. Like, I have to read this. I read it in one sitting. I was like, people are sucked in by it. Like, there’s a reason for that, boom, straight through. So, yeah, so I’m now sort of like flicking through it constantly and it’s amazing to see the variety of people on it as well. Like, everybody’s finding their voice in some people. I mean, I can’t imagine myself personally dancing around a kitchen to a video. I don’t dance anyway. But it’s amazing to see the different approaches. Like, some people are dancing with disco lights and book quotes, other people are putting, you know, quotes in and talking about it and unboxing videos and it’s absolutely incredible. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the community for doing that. And it’s the connection of those videos person-to-person as well. Sorry, I’m waffling about TikTok, but I’m still completely flabbergasted by it. I think it’s absolutely incredible.
Rachel: Yeah, we love TikTok here. Joni and I spend a lot of time discussing about TikTok, sharing TikToks with one another, just talking about it. So, please continue to discuss.
Jade: Oh, it’s amazing. And I couldn’t believe it. I mean, and the other amazing thing as an author is, I mean, it’s been the case of bloggers and stuff anyway. I’ve always been massively grateful for it. Anybody that wants to take the time to read your book and then share it or talk about it’s an amazing thing to say. But to see people actually there in person, face-to-face effectively on TikTok talking about your book and the reaction they’ve had to it just blows me away, absolutely blows me away. And it’s fantastic. And just even on like, these are the books I’ve read, these are my favorite novels. And you see yours amongst it just out of the blue and it’s like, wow, someone’s actually taken the time to share this and talk about it. And yeah, it’s absolutely fantastic. I love it. There’s such a variety of them. There’s such a variety…
Joni: When you said earlier that you signed on to TikTok and saw all of these videos and quotes, like those were of one of your books?
Jade: Well, originally. Because I asked in my reader group, literally, I was like, “Sugar has hit the top 100 again. Like, thank you very much, everyone. It’s absolutely incredible. Does anybody actually know why?” And someone just said “TikTok.” But that, just TikTok. So I loved it.
Joni: Wow, so it wasn’t you at all, it just sort of… became it’s own thing? That’s really cool.
Jade: No. I was like, “Thanks, everybody. Does anybody know why?”
Joni: It must have been really amazing for you to go in and see all that.
Jade: It was crazy. And then there were so many videos about it and I’d be scrolling through just as a TikTok user. I see it places, and it was like, wow. And there was one video, it got millions of views, millions, and it was someone recommending their books and Sugar was on it and it was like, oh, wow, like millions of people have seen this video and there’s Sugar there. And they did it recently, “Bait,” my other one. And I saw this incredible video, which absolutely, I was laughing my head off. It was someone talking about because “Bait” is a story, it’s consensual non-consent. So, it’s a woman who posts about what she’d like from fantasies online and a guy responds to that. And there was a video and it was someone going like, oh, succumbing to the desire of posting the ad online. And then there was… I’m trying to remember exactly what he said and then a huge guy with a Jacob’s ladder piercing comes and chases you through the… And she like just flew herself onto the bed and it was just absolutely hilarious. And, again, it had thousands of likes, thousands of likes. And of course, then “Bait” shot up, just shot up the charts.
Joni: That’s really cool.
Jade: And it’s just fantastic. I love seeing all that. Yes.
Joni: Well, you got a boost to sign into this platform you don’t really know, with everyone just showering you with love.
Jade: That’s it. I always thought that… It’s just fantastic, but that happens all the time. And it’s amazing just because I’m also a member of book groups on Facebook Printers as a reader as well. And sometimes if you see somebody, you know, go like, “Can you recommend any books on this?” And click on the comments and when you see your book listed by like different people talking about it, and someone’s like, “Well, thank you.” So, I always try and like, and comment on every post that anybody’s done that I see or any comment anyone’s posted because if they’ve taken the time to appreciate my novel or novels enough to publicly talk about that, then that’s a huge amount of somebody’s time. That’s a huge amount of respect from somebody. So, I always try my best, you can’t catch everything because otherwise I’d literally be on TikTok 24/7 just scouting, and then Facebook, and Instagram or whatever. But I do try my best, but it’s in huge amount of respect. I think it’s… And it’s just booming. It’s exploding. It’s just more and more and more and more and more and yeah, I love it. But yeah, my stepson used to be on it, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I used to be like, “Seriously, are you ever gonna get off TikTok?” Like you wanna do something else? And he was like, “Nope. Scrolling through.” And I was like, “I don’t get it.” And now there’s me doing it, just with book stuff, and his stuff’s like funny videos of animals or people doing… Mine is literally books, books, books, books, books. So, they do the algorithms or whatever they do pretty well.
Rachel: The algorithm is wild. It’s wild.
Jade: It’s amazing, yeah.
Rachel: And we’ve talked to a couple authors who have had their books go either like semi-viral or viral on TikTok. And what I always find so fascinating is it always happens organically. Like, it’s not like it’s rarely a marketing push on behalf of the author, it’s just like the right reader picks up your book, makes a video, that video goes viral, somebody else then picks up the book. Like, the whole thing is just fascinating to me. It’s so cool.
Jade: I love that about it as well. It’s like, because people have used adverts and stuff like that for so long, which is also fantastic. But the viral aspect, because yeah, everybody who goes viral, like you said, then more people read it and if they like it then they post and it just sort of explodes on its own. And I’ve only had… I’ve had a couple of my own TikToks go relatively viral. Not by billions of view standards at all, but for me, it was trying to keep that sort of in-brand because I quite like the lighthearted, the quite lighthearted aspect of erotica. And one of mine that went… My first one I ever did was literally, it was playing on Sugar, which was my…which was, you know the one, well it’s my biggest seller to date. And I got two lollies and just said, “Do you think you could suck to it once, Sugar? And it’s quite obvious what that means. But my stepson, bless him, well, he did a college course on video design and production and he used me and my books as his project, which was fantastic. But, of course, he used the example of the TikTok we filmed and they presented it at his college. So, there was people going, like, about random brands and stuff like that. And then there was Misha, and it was like, “Yeah, here’s the books, and here’s the trailers for the books.” And there was me going, “Do you think you could suck two at once?” Like, played to the whole hall. And he’s just… I put a TikTok image for all that as well. Like, I’m so proud of my stepson. Look at his college presentation. It was brilliant, but, wow, you know…
Joni: Did they know it was his stepmom?
Jade: Yeah. Yeah, which is the classic thing. It was just, it’s even more crazy, just like…
Joni: It’s really funny.
Jade: I helped my stepmom film a video where she was asking if people could suck two lollies at once. But he’s used to being around me anyway. It’s not a surprise. Not that I have two lollies in front of him or anything by any stretch, but he knows what my books are like. And the TikTok production is another thing that I’d love to talk about because I’m not naturally a TikToker as such. But we did one the other day because the soundtracks that come up, and, of course, there was Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” for BDSM novel. How could I resist that? So, it literally did “Hit Me Baby one More Time” and then shove “Dirty Bad Wrong” into the scene. But even recording that, right, trying to get the shot of the book to land exactly on the camera was a nightmare. It took about 800 attempts of just the camera being there. And then Misha was shoving this book logo. Sometimes you can just go straight past the camera, sometimes the spiders to it. It was just like, so people must have a better technique to it than I’ve got by a million miles because that was just book slide note, book slide note, book slide note. And then Misha tried to slow the song down. So, it was literally like…”Hit me, baby…” just for this book and we sped it up and it was the most quick speed of like, do stop. It was embarrassingly funny. So, kudos to anybody who can manage those because it takes me a long time to get anything ready. So, yeah, that’s my TikTok journey so far is trying to shun books into scenes and talking about two lollies at once. It’s doing okay, hopefully. It’s doing okay.
Rachel: And not to just keep talking about TikTok because I will talk about that all day, but how did you make the move? Like, how did you decide to go from kind of passively watching videos and liking comments to creating your own content?
Jade: I kind of figured I was having so much fun with it as well. It’s a thing, just watching other people’s videos and thinking, do you know what, this is so much fun. And like I said I don’t dance ever. Like, I’m renowned for it. I just can’t do it. I just don’t, like I’m at the side of a disco, I just can’t do it. I just never have been able to. And so the idea, and I’ve seen these amazing dancing videos of people sort of doing all the, you know, and then book quotes, and I thought I can’t do that. I’m gonna look like such an utter idiot if I try and dance in… I just can’t. So, I opted to sort of bring the personality element out of it because it was so personal, TikTok, as well, but you had a real sense of people on it. And hence I did the sort of my own dirty humor, I guess, it is with some of it. And just love sharing that kind of thing because… But you’ve also got about three seconds, I think, to grab people before people scroll on and the amount of times I just scroll on without thinking. So, again, it’s that wanting to grab people and hold their attention. And quite a lot of that I think is either shock or humor, which is always what grabs me is people shock, or humor, or the genuine sort of review side. But yeah, I love all that. But yeah, the thing that made me take the leap was just going… No, I’m enjoying these videos so much. I think I really, I should really do one that showcases that kind of humor side largely. But it’s a big thing to suddenly post a random video of yourself, I think, because like it’s not something I would generally do necessarily. So, and some of it’s embarrassingly funny because I wanted to do… There’s a DVP scene which is quite renowned in “Sugar Daddies” for instance. And I wanted to… You can’t go on TikTok and say…you’ve gotta kind of mask it or make it funny. So, I ended up at a golf course, like a mini-golf course on a Saturday afternoon with two golf balls in my hand now down next to a hole, a golf hole saying, “Karl and Rick, you have one condition, you need to be able to take two in one hole, drop in the two balls into the hole.” And these people around just watching must have been thinking, “What the hell is she doing?” And the first time it was cringe because I literally had these two golf balls drop them into the hole, one of them bounced back out again and ran down the track and it’s just like, what the… So, again it took about 50 attempts I think. And so I love that kind of humor side of it where again, you know, “Hit me, baby, one more time.” It had to be done, you know, it had to be done for a BDSM book like “Dirty Bad Wrong.” So, yeah.
Rachel: And like Joni mentioned earlier, a lot of authors can sometimes find it challenging to market erotica to just like in the ad space, for example. But on TikTok, it’s a whole other challenge because you have to avoid using any kind of sexual or explicit language or else it’ll get flagged. So, that must be really fun to try to come up with creative ways to talk about your books without actually saying anything that they’re about.
Jade: Yeah, I failed the other day on that because I couldn’t resist taking…it was a soundtrack and it’s the song, “They won’t stop coming and they won’t stop coming.” So, I couldn’t help myself. Like, my latest novel’s called “Strangers in My Bed,” like it says it all again. I mean, the title says it all. And I couldn’t resist. So, when I pitched this video, it was the song lyric was like, “They won’t stop coming and they won’t stop coming,” and TikTok just went, “No, we’re not posting that.” It just wouldn’t post it. And I’m not surprised. I did actually use the water emoji after as well, which maybe wasn’t the best idea because they definitely flagged that. So, I was like, “Okay, well, that’s not gonna work.” So, it’s definitely a challenge but I just love the humor side of it and trying to make it… And then there’s all these things now where it’s like, okay, you substitute the letters for numbers and try and disguise it and that kinda thing, which does seem to work pretty well for people. And I love that as well, just seeing it. And then this random stream of text comes up and it’s just almost like code language of like ero dick with like a one instead of the eye and stuff. And I love all that as well. I think it’s so creative. So yeah, you definitely…
Joni: It’s a really creative platform in general, I think.
Jade: It’s amazing. And the difference is like we were saying earlier in terms of videos, like some of them are so serious about book reviews and others are jumping on bed talking about people, Jacob’s ladders chasing them in the dark, and stuff. And that, it’s just brilliant, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Joni: There’s room for everything and that’s why we love it.
Jade: Yeah. But I think it’s taking over absolutely everything now, like, which is fantastic. Like the BookTalk community is going absolutely phenomenally well. And I do wonder how… Compared to six or seven years ago, the way books now go viral or marketed is so different now, I think. And I don’t think now that traditionally when books used to be released, I think it was generally quite a specific strategy of the buildup with a book blogging community, and then, you know, hit release and you sort of watched it where it went and you tried to get into the Autobooks or whatever and get into the algorithms and shoot the book up. Now, there are books shooting up the charts from all over the place based on quite often, like we were saying, one viral video. So, the top 100 or whatever it is, whatever the best seller list on any platform is now, is so unpredictable compared to what it used to be. You’d have like new releases and now it’s just like, wow, Blue Alien, number one on everything. Which is fantastic. It’s amazing. Or like Sugar shoots up out of nowhere. It’s just, I love that about it. I love the unpredictability of someone going, “Oh my God, have you seen this novel?” “No.” Everyone then sees it, everyone goes and loves it or grabs it or whatever, and then it’s the whole stream and you see the same books over and over. And then it just ingrains you. What’s it, in marketing, generally, you have to see something seven times before you acknowledge it, and then it becomes sort of subconscious. So, the more videos that people have with their… I mean, I don’t even wanna know how many times I’ve seen “Den of Vipers”, for instance, in a video. Like, it’s a lot. It’s amazing.
Joni: Basically like word of mouth on steroids, right?
Jade: Yeah, it’s absolutely…
Joni: It’s really cool. How often do you release books now?
Jade: Again, it varies so much. Like, I just released “Strangers in My Bed” like a week ago, before then I hadn’t released in 14 months. And then other times like they just fly like crazy and I’ve just literally, I think “Poison,” one of mine was done in a couple of months just because it just went through. In fairness, “Strangers in My Bed” is two novels in one effectively. It’s like, it’s a huge paperback by far, like compared to all the others on my shelf it is massive. And that one was effectively two full-length novels in one. But generally, I’d say mine, I tend to release about three a year I’d say. Really slowing down a little bit now, but I tend to like write them just all the way through. Like I get obsessive with them as well massively. So, like everyone, like I said earlier, it drives everyone a bit crazy because I just don’t talk about anything else. And I literally talk about… The amount of times with “Strangers in My Bed,” people have heard about Gary [SP], I don’t know if, we shouldn’t talk about him too much. Like, but the characters in general, like Ant, and Cass, and stuff, and they’re just like, “Oh, here we go. Here we go. Yeah. What’s happened with Ant and Cass now?” And it’s just become real to me. So, it depends, but I tend to try and then palate cleanse. So, if I’m gonna read novels it’s normally between books. So, then get right, this one’s done, write, release, whatever, and then it’s try and cleanse my palate with a load of reading and then try and start what’s another one from trash because I can’t go from one to another. I love it when authors can because so many authors have like the buildup of different novels’ brain that they sort of finish one and then they jump straight back in and hit another one out there. But I can’t work like that so much. Some people release a book a month. It’s incredible.
Joni: Oh, we know, it’s wild.
Jade: Yeah. And I’ve got huge amount… It’s just, wow. One author I know said that they can write up to 20,000 words in a day.
Joni: They’re probably dictating. That’s what we’ve learned from talking to people. But that seems to be how people get that kind of volume of words written. It’s amazing though.
Jade: It’s just absolutely incredible. Like, I’d be up for 24 hours, like literally writing solid. I don’t think I could get any sleep. But like…
Joni: I can’t imagine it either. But I love how passionate writers always are about their books. It’s amazing to hear and how excited you get about talking about your characters and letting that bleed into all aspects of your life.
Jade: It’s just amazing. Well, in some ways, I remember one of the most sort of things someone said to me once, because, like I said, I was in sales and marketing for years, but I’ve always been a bit eccentric, not eccentric, I dunno what the word is for it. Someone, a businessman I was working with got quite confused by me slightly because I was generally quite well known for taking products to market. And when he met me, I just wasn’t part of the mold he had…I don’t think he’d ever seen in the high-end sales as such like that. And I think he was a bit sort of “Wow, okay.” And then he was almost relieved when I became an author because he was like, “I understand it now. Like, you’re an author. Oh, yes, that makes more sense.” And sort of like made more sense to him then really that was where the… Because I must come across as quite fixated, I think, for people in general life. And I love the passion talking with other authors specifically about it. Because you can have such an intense conversation with people about imaginary characters with how their imaginary characters are going, with how your imaginary characters are going, and all sorts of stuff. And I absolutely love the creativity side of it and the amount of author friends I’ve made on just from being an author myself is incredible. And everyone that I’ve come across, everyone has book world dramas, especially on TikTok. There seems to be quite a lot of, a little bit of drama sometimes, but again, the support of it is absolutely phenomenal between authors and seeing other people succeed. And I’ve had an awful lot of support on that, which is always fab. And yeah, the stepson that I told you about who shared his two lollies project with the college has now just walked in. Yeah. Hi.
Jade: There he is. I was saying this is a podcast. Wanna say hello?
Misha: Hello, podcast.
Jade: I was telling everybody how you were helping me with TikTok and shown it to…
Misha: I got best marks for that.
Jade: Yeah, he got a distinction for that project, literally.
Misha: I got the highest mark in the class.
Jade: Yeah, literally proved.
Joni: Amazing. Congrats. So, he did great.
Jade: Yeah, Misha’s got home from work. Program sale. So, apologies for that. He’s quite something. He’s been amazing.
Joni: And are you working on anything right now? I know you’ve just released a book, so…
Jade: Yeah, I’m pallet cleansing. And again, it’s such a weird one because “Strangers in My Bed” was so dark and intense. It was my darkest one I’ve written and the most twisty one I’ve ever written. And it was two books effectively in one. So, after that, it was absolutely just, whoosh, like, exhausted just of living in that universe. Not that I don’t wanna live in it again. So, my next one is gonna be a lot more along the lines of “Sugar Daddies,” which is a lot lighter. And in some ways, it was strange because I only wrote the first chapter of it the other day and the tone change was crazy. It was just like, wow, just sort of dancing on air a little bit like, woo. So, I’m working on another more romcomy, menage sort of thing next. Again, it’s gonna be relatively hardcore. But yeah, I did a bit of pallet cleansing, and then I’ve just gone the other way now because I just, I think it would drive everybody crazy if I did another duet in one of dark romance themes of talking about twists and turns. And kind of, I think they’d just be like, “Please, can you write something little bit lighter for the next one?”
Jade: Just write something a little bit more chirpy.
Joni: When you’re palate cleansing, do you read within the genre that you write as well or do you read it more widely?
Jade: Quite often. I mean, I like all kinds of books, really, whether that’s factual more or just a variety. I love quite often reading friends’ books and I love reading generally as well in genres that I don’t write in. Like, yeah, for example, the blue alien book is not something I generally write and I was like, I’ve gotta try this out. Absolutely devoured it and it doesn’t surprise me because then everyone was like, well, there’s 18 books in the series and they read them in like 4 days or something. And it didn’t surprise me in the slightest. So I was like, I’ll literally read through that.
Joni: Which book is this? So we can just…
Jade: “Ice Planet Barbarians” was the one I read and it was literally number one in the entire store on it. I thought I’ve to do this, I’ve got to read this. Like, it sounds fascinating. And I sat there and I read it through in one sitting, which doesn’t normally happen for me. I’m quite in and out with writing but…with reading. But my God, that book just sucked me in. It was just incredible. Like, so that kind of thing. And sometimes I’d love reading some of my friends’ work as well. Made the mistake once, not mistake, but I was doing a book signing called Romance in the Falls at Niagara and I was reading a friend of mine’s book called “Pet” by Isabella Starling and I thought, it’s okay, I’ll read a bit and I’ll go to bed before the signing. Lo and behold, could I put it down? No. And my partner’s going, John’s going, “Will you just put that book down now, please, and go to sleep.” And I couldn’t do it. And then I ended up waking him up to tell him about it. Like partway, I was like, “Guess what just happened now?” And he’s just, “I don’t… Can we just go to sleep now?” “No.” And there’s another one I read which is one of my favorites of all time called the “Silver Cage.” And it’s actually by anonymous, I dunno who’s written it. I woke him up again in the middle of the night to tell him that I was sobbing, literally sobbing, going, “This book, you’re never gonna guess what’s happened.” Again, he was like, “I really don’t care.” Like “Can you just let me go to sleep, please?” And it was that kind of stuff. I love being consumed by them. But yeah, different genres. I like quite a lot of, almost like a cult fiction, almost one of my palate cleansers. I go back to the same books as well quite often. Like I do that in movies and stuff as well. I would generally watch, I don’t even wanna know how many times I’ve watched “Alien Quadrilogy.” I don’t know. It’s a lot, it’s a lot. Same as a couple of the books I’ve read. It’s a lot. But yeah, variety of genres I’d say. That was a long-winded answer to that question. Quite a lot of different genres I’d say.
Rachel: One thing I wanted to ask you, and I’m kind of taking a hard turn from reading into writing, is if you have any advice for authors when it comes to writing sex scenes, because obviously your books contain several and you’re obviously quite comfortable talking about sex and writing about sex, so I was just curious if you have any advice for writing authentic, good sex and romance novels?
Jade: Try it out. No. A lot of it… This is the thing, again, it depends on what kind of angle that people are going for. Because you can write fantastical kind of erotica, which is, you know, consumed by passion and stuff like that. In reality, people say mine are quite gritty because if you’re gonna… I’m trying to put this in a…if you’re going to write in some ways about taking 15 guys at once, there are gonna be some repercussions from that, as in, you need some preparation and you need some aftercare from that. Like it… So, I tend to keep mine pretty gritty on that score. And again, it’s right from the heart ultimately. And also, I mean, let’s change the subject, what turns you on? Is the other thing. If it’s gonna turn you on, like genuinely, then it’ll strike the chord with other people. And that’s one thing that always amazes me slightly is people will quite often say like, with one of my books, “Poison.” And it’s one of my more extreme erotic novels, I’d say. And I love that book, not because of the way I’ve written, but I love the content of it. It’s actually my boyfriend’s face on the cover. And I love it because it’s so… And people think that’s absolutely disgusting that book. And I’m like, “Yeah, but I love it.” Oh my God, I just love it.
Again it’s…so yeah, be authentic, write about what you really… Because if you end up thinking about it, around writing the scenes and stuff, and you end up thinking about it and thinking it’s really hot yourself, there are gonna be people out there that share the same taste. Not all the time everyone’s a fan of “Poison,” for instance, some people put it down partway through and go, “I’m not reading this, this is absolutely not my bag.” But other people don’t like reading books about “Call Me Daddy,” or being hit by cane, or whatever else happens. But yeah, be authentic. Again, it’s just, I think writing, a lot of it’s about authenticity, and I do try and bring in a lot of my own personal experience to it. And that’s not just erotica. Like in “Sugar Daddies,” Katie, one of the main characters has a dream of having her own riding stable livery yard. And Samson, her horse that she loves is based on my old horse, Robbie. He’s the same breed, he’s the same type of horse. So, again, you get the authenticity of that bond between a character and her horse. And that was just my horse, you know, and I think people can tell that not that you have to go and do…go in a club explicit, for instance, like I’ve said about, and have like a whole group of you doing all sorts of stuff to get, but if it turns you on then write it, you know, and read it, which is the other thing.
Yeah, I think authenticity is the main thing, and having the research in it as well to know that there are some quite uncomfortable scenes in my latest one because if the main character…if I’m just gonna get cast to go into a bedroom and do what he wanted to do, there’d be some preparation involved in that. And that’s almost one of the most uncomfortable things people find in it is, “Oh my God, it’s like that,” and yeah, it is. So, again, people sometimes get a bit of, I”m not sure about that,” which is totally fine, but I love all that. I love the realness of erotica whereas other people don’t. So, yeah, if writing about a huge cyclops alien with four tentacles turned you on then write it like it turns you on and people will read it and it’ll turn them on, I suppose. Which is great. I mean, I enjoyed “Ice Planet Barbarians.” I didn’t think I’d personally find an alien that hot, but I was shocked. I loved it. I enjoyed it.
Joni: Amazing. Yeah, I think you make a good point about being authentic. Same thing with communicating with readers. People can tell. And I think that’s really what it comes down to. And where can readers find you online?
Jade: Generally. I mean, TikTok is one that I…
Joni: It’s so awesome. Can you share that link?
Jade: TikTok is the… Yeah. Also, I practically live on Facebook is the other thing with the dirty readers’ group that I’ve gotten scrolling through. I mean, this is the other thing about social media, it’s fantastic because… But I’ve always said you could spend 24 hours a day on it easily. By the time we’ve gone, like, let’s have a look at Facebook, let’s have a look at Instagram, let’s have a look at people’s newsletters almost and interact with them, let’s have a look at TikTok. But I’m generally pretty plugged into all of it. And then you get addicted to it. Because I’m like, “No, today I’m gonna have a look in the morning and that’ll be it. That’s me done.” And all of a sudden, it’s lunchtime. I wanna have another look. I’ll have another look. Then last thing at night is … . So, people can generally find me across platforms.
Joni: Can anyone join the dirty readers’ Facebook group?
Jade: They can do, there are some questions to enter because, again, there’s people who see… I don’t even know. People must see dirty in the title then “I,m gonna join.” It’s a little bit like, “Okay, do you actually like novels or wanna read a novel, or are you just scrolling through every book group with every group on Facebook with the title dirty and trying to join it?” But yeah, generally it’s pretty open. People don’t have to have read any of my books to join. It’s because quite often people are discussing all kinds of books in the comments and things.
Joni: Awesome. All right, we will share that link. And did you have any other questions, Rach?
Rachel: No, I think I’m all good. I wanted the sex scene writing advice, that’s why I’m here.
Joni: We love to hear it. Amazing. No, but genuinely, I think it’s something that newer authors do struggle with because it’s hard. It’s hard, and then you worry about other people you know reading it.
Jade: It has a separate life. I live in a small town. I’m not joking, but you’re in the supermarket and people are like, “Hey, I’ve read your latest.” And honestly, the most interesting thing I’ve ever had happen to me, I was going on a cruise holiday with my partner and there was a table of us, you know, just I was smoking a cigarette actually, and there was like a table at the top and I knew the whole… You know, like, “Hey, how are you? Like, where are you from? What’d you do? Lalala.” And I said, I was an author and, of course, everyone’s like, “What you write?” And I said, “I write this.” And it was just after “Dirty Bad Strangers” had come out and I was talking through a bit of the plot and one of the women was like, I’ve heard about this book. And I was like, “Really?” And she was like, “Yeah, my husband was reading it on the plane.” And I was like, “Really? Okay, wow. Okay, are you sure?” And she was like, “Yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely he was.” And I thought, okay. So, we got up to go down back to our room and this guy comes charging across the deck, literally comes charging across and he’s like, “I read your book on the plane, I read your book, like, and it’s about Jason, it’s about this, it’s about that.” And I was like, “Wow.” And I actually won these amazing moments. I looked at him and I said, “What was your favorite scene?” And he said, “The barn scene.” And we have this look between us because I know full well what the barn scene involves. It’s a group scene in a barn where a woman’s blindfolded. And we’re looking at each other and it’s just like, “Cool, I’m glad you really enjoyed that.”
And it’s the same with the supermarket. People go like, “I love your latest book.” And yeah… It’s, yeah, so everybody knows, but everyone knows me like that anyway. Not so much on cruise ships randomly, but people in this small town I lived in would know that. But for other authors that come from different communities, or people whose friends maybe don’t know them in that way so well, or people who’ve got families that are a little bit more reserved about things, it must be quite hard and also quite hard to publicly present, maybe, the work that they do. I know a lot of people, a lot of authors, especially newer ones, are quite sort of tentative about releasing and people knowing who they are in their communities and things. And I’m sorry, they have to go through that in a way because it must make it so much harder to kind of not be so expressive about your books to the people around you. So, yeah, that must be quite sad for people. Quite challenging sometimes to wanna gush about a character or a scene and realizing that nobody has a clue what you’re writing about. But yeah, I’m lucky. I’m lucky on that spot. So, yeah, as you can tell, I talk all day about books, books, marketing books, plots of books, other people’s books. I just don’t shut up ever about it. It just does everyone. Drives everyone mad.
Joni: No, it’s perfect on a podcast. That’s what we wanted. Well, this has been really fun. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for doing this.
Jade: No, thanks for having me. It’s always great. It’s always great to talk about, like I said, with books and people are interested in books, and plots, and marketing them, and everything. So, thanks very much for having me, I’ve very much enjoyed it and I much enjoyed talking about blue aliens, and people edging the top of the charts, and enjoying blue alien getting it on. So, that’s great.
Rachel: News for me. Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you are interested in picking up Jade’s books or following her on socials, we will include links to all of that in our show notes. If you are enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com, and be sure you are following us on socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.
Joni: This episode was produced by Joni Di Placido and Rachel Wharton. Our editing is by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is composed by Tear Jerker, and a huge thank you to Jade for being our guest. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.
Rachel: I’ll miss you, Joni.