My First Self-Publishing Experience

To introduce myself, my name is Ashly Lorenzana. I’m twenty-three years old and I live in Portland, OR where I’ve worked as an escort for over five years. Over these last several years, I kept a personal journal/blog about my life in general, both as an escort and a drug addict. I never thought anything of it, until I was contacted by a local published author (who wished to remain anonymous) who asked me if I’d ever considered publishing it. Surprised, I wrote him back and said no, it was just my silly journal. He told me he was even interested in possibly working out a deal where he would lead the project and we could find me an agent. I didn’t feel that the writing was ready for something like that, and he agreed that it needed some work.

A year went by before I finally took the time to sort out all of the journal entries into chronological order. I’d kept the blog on several different sites at various times, making it somewhat of a mess to organize. It took me a while, but I finally got them all in one place and in the correct sequence.

He told me I had two options. I could query agents and go the traditional route, or I could try Amazon and self-publish. I didn’t know much about self-publishing at all, so I read some of the articles he sent me and learned some of the basics and what was involved.

Due to the subject matter of my book being incredibly personal, it was full of profanity, some sex, and lots of drug-related discussion. I wasn’t sure it would appeal to any agents, but I did send it out to many after I self-published. However, I really enjoy the freedom over the content that comes with self-publishing. Sure, it’s a lot of work. I’ve put so much into it, but I was lucky since I had tons of free time to do that.

Back in November of 2010, I published my book “Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort” on Amazon as a Kindle download. I went and posted a notice in one of the escort review forums where I advertise to let everyone on there know I had published it. I got some good response from there, since many of the members knew me or knew of me from my presence in the business over the years.

I was pretty fierce in my efforts to promote the book. I wrote my own press release and distributed it through an online paid service. After it went live, I was contacted by a rock station in Calgary to do an interview, which went well. I was also invited to do a live reading in NYC by a sex worker advocate and activist who hosts a monthly event for those in the adult industry. Unfortunately, that was too far for me to travel.

I then scoured the web for sites that offered free book reviews, as well as book bloggers who were willing to review self-published books. I sent my pitch to a long list of them, after carefully reviewing their submission guidelines. Some said no, some said yes. I managed to get a good handful of constructive reviews.

I also used the internet to find resources that helped me send my pitch to local and national journalists and media, to see if they were interested in my book. I made sure to send it to my local newspaper,  The Oregonian. I was interviewed by a lead columnist for the paper, and my life story as well as the book was featured on the front page of the metro section in January 2011.

By contacting blog owners and podcast hosts, I’ve managed to make it on several shows for interviews that promoted my book.

A couple of months after I published on Amazon, I also made my memoir available on Barnes & Noble, Lulu and more recently Smashwords. So far, I have sold more copies on Amazon than any other site. I also plan to make my title available through Createspace in the very near future.

I did all the editing for the book, as well as the simple cover design. Deciding to self-publish was a good excuse to finally make myself learn the basics of how to used GIMP, which I had been putting off for some time. Although the final product was far from perfect, I feel proud of it overall.

Here are my sales numbers from Amazon (US) for  “Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort” (initially priced at $1.99 and changed somewhere around early March 2011 to $4.99):

November 2010: 34 copies

December 2010: 94 copies

January 2011: 241 copies

February 2011: 112 copies

March 2011: 85 copies

  • Congrats Ashly – Here’s to your continued success with SDBE!

  • Eva Lynne

    I downloaded the book for Amazon Kindle and read it cover to cover, having a hard time putting it down. You mention that the original text required some ‘work’, but being unfamiliar with the editing process and how far it goes to supplant the author’s voice, it is not possible to know who to credit (I lean strongly towards believing it is you, the author), but the voice of this book is sublimely captivating by what I personally perceive as artistic magnificence. Your word selection, lengths of phrase and delivery were, to my ear, harmonic. I am not only *not* a doctor (;-)), I am also not a literary professional or scholar by any stretch, however, I am a consumer with a palate for subtleties that I discovered while reading this book that, in all honesty, could be interpreted fictions I’ve projected and, guess what? That’s my prerogative as a reader 🙂 It would not be possible for me to do this (presuming I’m generally not subject to delusion or other other disorder of thought) without having been successfully influenced by the writing skill to trust the basic integrity of the story from start to finish. I admire your writing skill and recognized immediately a talent that I’ve been chasing for myself that you seem to possess innately. You might consider looking into the possibilities this further affords you as plan ‘C’, one day. You will be doubly blessed should you make it through to the other side with both a genuine wisdom AND the ability to communicate that knowledge to others, persuasively.

  • Colin

    Just bought your book hope it helps you – will recommend as well good luck Colin x