He’s a billionaire. She’s a hooker. Things are bound to get interesting…
Cat Haus ~ The Complete Story (Parts I, II, III) as told from Cate’s Point of View
Before Cate ~ John’s Story as told from John’s Point of View
I’m sure there are questions so let’s begin….
Cat Johnson writing as Carrie Lane? Why the separate name?
Well, a certain author friend of mine who is usually dead on when it comes to publishing advice convinced me that readers were tired with the ‘old’ authors they’d been reading for awhile. (Grande dames like Nora Roberts aside.) Since my romance name was born in 2006, and publishing years are like dog years, I would technically be one of those old names readers were tired of. I personally didn’t believe what she did, that ‘new’ authors were supposedly coming out of the blue and making huge splashes on best seller lists solely because of the novelty of being ‘new’. There are far too many other factors at play in this business that dictate success or failure.
I will admit there is something to be said for the apparent trend that bloggers like to be the one to discover “new” authors and will throw all of their social media weight behind them. I’ve watched it happen more than once. In reality, quite a few of those new names are really veterans of this industry undercover. Sorry, but true. But yes, some actually were new and ripe to be ‘discovered’ when their hired publicity company handed out 2,000 hand targeted ARCs to insure 600 4 & 5 star reviews and a ton of buzz on release day. That is what made those new authors originally hit big. Of course they have to have a quality product to get readers to buy book 2 and then book 3, but taking a chance on an unknown author and book, the willingness to buy book 1 is usually all about the buzz, which drives the rank, which increases the discoverability.
Anyway, in May of 2013 I figured what the hell? I’ll give a new pen name in a different genre a try as a grand experiment. It doesn’t take all that long to write 20K words, compared to the 80K word tomes I’ve been writing for Kensington so it felt like a worthwhile endeavor that wouldn’t cost me much in time or money. And it was. I loved writing in first person. And after years of trying to avoid slut shaming by reasoning away why my heroine in my romance name books would dare to have a one night stand with the hero (because you know that never happens in real life *snort*), it was freeing writing a no-holds-barred, no apologies heroine. She’s a hooker. There’s no question she’s having sex and yeah, she enjoys it. So what? Most days I enjoy my job too. Not all days though.
So, Carrie Lane was born, my erotica pen name because this series was meant to be truly erotica. But apparently I am incapable of that. The more I wrote, the more romance crept in, until there was the L-word and romance and an HEA and all that crap I thought I wasn’t going to write for this series. But it was good and of the handful of reviews I got for my unknown name, a large number were 5 star raves. Readers really seemed to like Carrie Lane’s characters, story, and voice.
Why then did I deem this experiment a failure?
For one, I don’t have the time or energy to devote to build that pen name. Getting FB Likes, Twitter followers, blog and newsletter sign-ups, takes time. New releases drive back list sales, and I didn’t have time to write fast enough to keep Carrie alive and well. A second pen name demanded time I didn’t have if I wanted to keep building Cat Johnson, the pen name that had contract obligations. The name that pays the bills.
Reason two, I tried to get creative with the title and series name. I started with Cat Haus, the Working Girls series. A year later I changed it to the Billionaire and the Hooker series. I lowered the prices. I made book 1 in the trilogy free. I moved the series into Select and hoped for exposure through Kindle Unlimited borrows. Nothing. Carrie Lane was too far beneath the radar, so poorly ranked, with so few reviews, Amazon’s algorithms didn’t even pick me up. Discoverability will make or break an author. Lack of it broke Carrie Lane.
Meanwhile, Cat Johnson was hitting lists right and left. Top 100 in Amazon, the New York Times bestseller list twice. The USA Today bestseller list 5 times, twice with individual titles, one of those a self published novella. Carrie couldn’t even get bloggers to read and review her. Bloggers who publicly love Cat, wouldn’t give Carrie the time of day. It was frustrating. Like beating my head against the wall.
I’m done experimenting. I write for many reasons, chief among those reasons is because I want readers to read my stuff. I’m also a full time working writer. I support myself and my husband, I pay my bills with what I make in royalties, and having a series that I truly believe has potential wallow in obscurity making a handful of sales a month is insane.
Now, a warning. This series is hot and I don’t mean hot as in ripe with unfulfilled sexual tension.
Though not technically erotica because there is too much romance in it, it’s still dirty. Let me reiterate this again. If you don’t like the words fuck, or pussy, or clit, or cock, don’t read it. If you don’t want to see a hooker heroine doing things with men and women, sometimes in multitudes, don’t read it. If you have issues with oral, anal, rape fantasies, public sex, or pegging, don’t read it. It is because of all of this content that I left the name Carrie Lane on the books. I don’t want a new-to-me reader who discovered Cat Johnson through my best selling Hot SEALs series to expect the same level of heat as in those books.
This series is closer to the heat in my self published Educating Ansley and my early Samhain threesomes, such as Rough Stock, Unridden and Bucked. If you can handle those, you’ll enjoy Cat Johnson writing as Carrie Lane.
Are there 2 books? Are there 3? Are there 5? Yes to all…
I wrote the first 20,000 word Cat Haus part 1 (in first person from the heroine’s point of view) knowing I would write 2 more novellas to continue the story arc. Later, I released Cat Haus part 2 at 20,800 words and then months after that the 27,200 word Cat Haus part 3. At that point I bundled the three parts together into one complete novel-length story (at 67,250 words), but I also left the three individual novellas available for sale. Earlier this year I wrote Before Cate, the hero’s backstory and the romance from his first person point of view (46,500 words).
So readers have many options. They can get part 1 for 99 cents and then buy / read parts 2 and 3 later, or get all three in one with the Complete story at a significant savings over buying the 3 individual parts. Wondering what John was thinking and what are the secrets from his past Cate doesn’t find out during her book? Then you can grab Before Cate.
THE BILLIONAIRE BAD BOY SERIES
Cat Haus (Part I) (approx 20K words, 99 cents)
Cat Haus 2 (Part II) (approx 21K words, $2.99)
Cat Haus 3 (Part III) (approx 27K words, $2.99)
Cat Haus – The Complete Story (Parts I, II, III) (approx 67K, words, $3.99)
Before Cate (John’s Story) (approx 47K words, $2.99)
What’s next for this series?
Side characters who deserve their own story, as they often do, have presented themselves. I have plans for a story for Carrie’s favorite client Ty, and also for John’s brother-in-law, Brady, time permitting because as I said, Cat Johnson pays the bills and it has yet to be seen if Carrie Lane can pull her weight now that I’ve let her out of the closet as my alter ego and have chosen to change the series title one more time, to what I hope is a more searchable and keyword friendly Billionaire Bad Boy series name. We will see. Either way, it’s been a hell of an experiment and a learning experience all around.
AND yes, for you who like to hold a book in your hand, both Cat Haus ~the Complete Story and Before Cate ~John’s Story will be made available in paperback. Cat Haus is available in print now. Before Cate is coming in print soon.
Cat Johnson aka Carrie Lane