Ella Patterson labored long and hard to write, print and distribute her sex manual, Will the Real Women...Please Stand Up. The former Dallas schoolteacher immersed herself in her project, running her business from an upstairs guest room in her DeSoto home. Between the book and about four hours of sleep a night, she managed to keep her family from getting too mad at her.
Her efforts paid off, slowly at first, as the book became a word-of-mouth bestseller in Dallas. Patterson says she has sold, in person or by mail, more than 50,000 copies of her common sense erotica.
Now, Dallas' self-proclaimed Love Goddess has signed a three-book deal with New York publishing house Simon & Schuster that includes international versions of her books. Patterson turned over the book to the publisher last week. Simon & Schuster reportedly bid heavily against other publishing heavy hitters to snare Patterson and her straight-talking sex guide.
Simon & Schuster will give her a chance to catch her breath as their professionals begin marketing and distributing Real Women. Simon & Schuster will also publish a page-a-day calendar featuring "Ella-isms," the erotic, yet folksy, observations that spice Real Women. These sexual affirmations--vastly tamer versions of the white-hot witticisms in the book--include: "Keep Secrets That Are Trusted with You"; "Take Long Bubble Baths"; "Have a Sunday Kind of Love"; and "Think of Silk When You Touch Your Mate."
Patterson's colorful language and engaging manner impressed the publishing house as much as it impressed her readers, according to Dean Williamson of Dupree, Miller and Associates.
The deal came just two weeks after Patterson accompanied her agent, Jan Miller, to New York to shop the book around. Patterson got several offers, finally settling on Simon & Schuster.
A few days after signing with Simon & Schuster, Patterson seemed calm but excited about her new prospects of becoming an American household word--at least in the boudoir.
"I am going to be (author) Terry McMillan and Oprah Winfrey all rolled up in one," she jokes.
She declined to say exactly how much the contract is worth, but her agent says the advance was "substantial." It is rumored to be in the high six-figures.
As part of the agreement, Simon & Schuster will also publish three other sizzling Ella Patterson books. The author has said she is working on Will the Real Men...Please Stand Up, For Women Who Live Alone and a novel, Woman with a Past.
The publishers are already working to get Real Women into print under their imprint. "They are not making many changes and they are going to pump it out this spring, which is very unusual," Williamson says.
Until mid-1996, readers will not be able to find Real Women, because Patterson has already sold out of her self-published copies.
A year ago, Patterson began publishing Real Women herself, aiming to teach women to have more fun with sex by taking control. "Healthy aggressive women will never feel a need to hide their desires," she preaches in the book. While men can succumb to performance anxiety when a woman takes the lead, Patterson says, "Remember to take it slow until he trusts you. When you're sure he's safe, let it all loose."
The book is brimming with tidbits, advice and revelations about women having good sex, told with Patterson's frank, whimsical wisdom.
"Men lack confidence," Ella writes. "So if you're interested in one, you'd better send out obvious signals of your attraction or he'll miss them all."
Patterson is disarming because she assumes that women want to be in charge of their own sensuality and are the true arbiters of romance. "Women who attract men regularly...have something that arouses men to a challenge," she writes.
In place of homilies like "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," the Goddess of Love recommends "letting a man know that you want him will get a better response than a dimly lit dinner."
The book is sometimes so frank it's hilarious--which could be the key to its brisk sales. Chapter titles include: "What to Do with his Penis," "Noisy Turn Ons," and "Body Metabolism Matters."
She recommends making love in taxis, elevators, and bathtubs--and that's the tame stuff. One section title is "Penis Exercises: Thrills, Chills, and Spills." One of the exercises involves using his penis to spell his name on the real woman's clitoris. The Love Goddess, of course, encourages even more: "Make it more interesting by spelling the entire alphabet in cursive, block style, or print." Don't even ask about the section on tongue calligraphy.
In the introduction, Patterson tells why she wrote the book. In short, her sex life has always been incredible. "Many men have begged me to be their woman," she writes. "I have received marriage proposals from men as old as 70 and as young as 18."
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Despite her admonition on telling secrets, Ella Patterson's the kind of goddess who likes to share--even the key to her sexual success. Every woman could be a Love Goddess, Patterson says, if she just knew how.
Even before Patterson had the book printed locally, people besieged her with orders. In a matter of months it became an underground bestseller, with copies selling as soon as they came off the press.
Her relationship with a publisher came at the right time, she says. As orders for Real Women and offers of speaking engagements poured in, Patterson found herself overwhelmed. She says that the deal will give more time to do what she loves: write.
"My plans are to continue to inform people and women in particular," Patterson says. "My focus is women's issues. And if by chance I make money while I tap into these issues, that's fine, I guess.