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