About Vania Margene Rheault

Vania enjoys reading and writing. She's lived in Minnesota all her life, and with a cup of coffee in hand, enjoys the seasons with her two children and three cats.

The Positives and Pitfalls of Writing a Series

Writing a series is hard. And daunting. Not one person can tell you it’s easy. But there are a lot of positives that can come with taking the time to write an intriguing, action-packed series.

Personally, I don’t like writing them. I’m getting used to them, but I like writing one book, being able to edit it, format it, slap a cover on it, and push it out to the world. Writing a series is more involved, but the pay off can be much more than the instant gratification of writing a standalone.

When I started writing my first person book back in December, I had a plan for it to be a trilogy. And it could have stayed that way, but a secondary character needed her story told, and I worried for a while over what that story would be. I laid a shaky foundation for her in the first three books, but now that I’m starting book six, I know highlighting her story was the right choice. At least, I hope it turns out to be.

What are the positives and negatives of writing a series? From my limited experience, I’ll give you my list:

The positives:

  1. Read-through. This isn’t to say that if someone reads one of your standalones, they can’t or won’t go on to read other books in your backlist, but if you can hook them with a solid book one, it’s almost a no-brainer that you’ll have that reader for as long as your series lasts. That means guaranteed sales for you.
  2. The books are easier to write. More than likely, the books after book one will have some of the plot built into the overall story. When I wrote my wedding series, I had to include wedding activities that included the other characters. Not only does that take up space, but readers like when other characters play a role, even if the book isn’t centered on them.
  3. They look great on your Amazon Author Page, and Amazon will create a series page for you to help promote them. This is a silly thing to point out, mostly I added it because I can’t think of any other positives. I’m sure if you enjoy writing a series, you can com up with something more, but I’m all out. A series with nice covers does look terrific on your author page, though, and if you have more than one series, it clues a reader in that you’re in this for the long haul and they can count on you to deliver books well into the future.

    This is the top of my series page on Amazon. If you want to look at the whole page Amazon provides, click on the graphic.
  4. That does remind me that a series has more marketing potential than a standalone novel. You can price a book one free for a time using your Kindle promotion free days you’re allowed every quarter (or permafree if you’re wide), and later when all the books are published you can put them into a box set. A series is good for a reader magnet prequel, too. For my wedding series, I could write a novella about how the couple meets as the series starts two weeks before their wedding. It’s a way to get readers invested and sign up for your newsletter. It would only take me a few days to write a 30,000 word novella to offer as a reader magnet but I’m writing something else right now and I would need to schedule that into my writing calendar. If I’m interested enough to bother with it.

Which brings me to the pitfalls of a series:

  1. The biggest for me is that I get bored. And you know if the writer is bored, so will the reader be. I like fresh characters; I like starting from scratch. In romance, you can write a series with a plot that spans all the books, like the wedding in mine. All the characters are in town for the ceremony, and the wedding takes place at the end of book four, but each book focuses on a different couple. That made it enough for me to write four books, but I was relieved when they were done. In fact, I started writing book one of the series I’m working on now before book 4 was properly finished. It took a few extra weeks because, unfortunately, I had checked out. I was craving something new, even though I saved my favorite couple for last.
  2. The covers are harder. This probably won’t mean much to you if you hire out. But a series is more work, more costly, and you have to keep branding in mind. They need to look like a series. If you do your own covers, that could mean hours looking through stock photos searching for pictures that have the same vibe. Once I knew the basic design of the covers, I could choose a couple and slip the composite into the template I made in Canva. It took a long time for me to decide on the layout, though, because there’s lots to consider, especially if you write romance:
    a) what’s trending? single woman? single man? man chest? a couple?
    b) steam level
    c) overall look for the genre or subgenre you’ve written in
    d) what font to use
  3. You have to make the first book strong or your read-through will fizzle and the subsequent books you write will be for nothing. This happened to me with my trilogy. My first book is weak–I didn’t know a lot about character arcs, conflict, or stakes. With the wedding series, the first couple I chose were also “quiet” and I didn’t think they had enough oomph to encourage read-through. When writing the second book, I realized that couple was stronger than the first and swapped them. This series is still new, so only time will tell if I made the right choice, but that brings me to another pitfall:
  4. Consistency. I hang on to all my books while I write them. I don’t publish them one by one. There are pros and cons to this, but the main reason I do it is to have control over editing. I like being able to make changes if I’m writing later books and a good idea comes to me, or a beta reader catches inconsistencies. But that also means I won’t know how book one will do, or if I’ve wasted my time writing a whole series first. That’s a risk I need to take because I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable enough to write one book at a time and release as I go along.

    This puts me in a position to rapid release, but I’m still so new as an author I don’t have an audience and putting books on pre-order don’t do anything.

    Some authors will release one by one and tie things up if their read-through drops off, or they keep it going if they make a lot of money and readers are enjoying their books. I don’t have either of those options when I hold onto them from start to finish.

I’m getting used to writing in a series and the first person books are going pretty fast. I will have quite the chore editing them, but like I said in a previous post, I’m going to lighten up with these, have fun, and let my characters (and my voice) shine.

Will I write another seres? Sure. The book I’m planning in the back of my mind could very well be a series. Sometimes they come to you without you wanting them to. Secondary characters can steal the show. I think those are the best kinds of series, when characters demand their stories by told. After all, if they demand it, hopefully readers will, too.


If you have a series, or are in the middle of writing one, and want to promote it, Written Word Media has a new promotional tool for authors. When I purchased my Freeobooksy through Written Word Media in July for the first book in my series, I had forgotten they had come out with this. I will definitely check into it the next time I want to run a promo. While it can seem a bit costly, the read-through of a readable series can more than pay for the fee. Good luck!


Thursday Musings, #firstworldproblems, and series update

Life is full of minor inconveniences. There’s even a hashtag for that–#firstworldproblems. What bothers us would make people in other countries shake their heads. I’m not talking about coronavirus now, though mask-wearing may be up there for some people who would prefer not for, um, reasons. But despite how petty and immature we can be about things that inconvenience us, when they keep coming, it can seem like life is trying its best to get you down.

I’ve had a few of those inconveniences, and I’m waiting for life to possibly get back to normal. I could be waiting for a long time, but trying to make lemonade out of lemons, or trying to find the silver lining, is getting to be a little tiring. My little inconveniences range from having maintenance in our bathroom fixing the caulking in the tub and repainting, to having to shower at my ex-husband’s while said paint and caulking dry, to being told, just a few minutes ago, that we can’t let water go down the drains in our apartment because it will make the guy’s bathroom downstairs flood. Of course he called maintenance, but the last time this happened they had to dig up pipes the front yard. So no telling when we’ll get to run our water. On the plus side, I’m clean, so there is that.

Other inconveniences range from my mouth is still hurting, and likely will for months to come as there isn’t an end to my dental work in the foreseeable future, (either they’ll finish or I’ll run out of money. Who knows?) to me being able to work from home but my cat making a meal of the ethernet cable laying on the floor. I did get permission to buy a new cord in the event this one is destroyed by tiny cat teeth, but then I’ll buy a longer one and attach it to the ceiling instead of letting lay on the floor.

Small inconveniences that add up to me being generally crabby about life right now, but make me feel like a petty snot because hello? fires everywhere. And they aren’t little, either.

In other news, I’m 26k into the last book of my series. I’m really excited to get these books all wrapped up, and it’s no secret that I am very excited to start something else. That will have to wait a bit but I can distract myself by looking more into newsletters. I created an email for my website and I signed up for MailerLite. I haven’t watched any of the tutorials to figure out how to set up a welcome email, but I should at least get that sorted so I can include a sign up link to the back of the books I’ll be editing soon. I need to figure out a reader magnet too, and look into how Story Origin works for building newsletter signups and joining promotions. I suppose I could be doing that instead of watching the old Jurassic Park films, but I feel such a kinship to Sam Neill and his crooked bottom teeth.


I’ve had to stop my ads for now. I spent 400 dollars in the month of August but made 500 (for all you math nerds that means I came in ahead by 100 dollars instead of breaking even like I normally do). Because of the way Amazon bills you for ad spent vs. the way they pay you for royalties, my ad spend money is in the hole, and I can’t afford more until that money is replaced. They pay out every sixty days, so I won’t be able to start more ads until the end of October or early November. Right now I’m still making a little very day, mostly in read-through of my series, so I’m not crying too much. I’ll start ads up again after Halloween and play up the Christmas aspect of my books, or at the very least, that they take place in the winter.

I guess that’s all I have for this Thursday. Tomorrow after I log off from work I’ll clean the bathroom and get that put together again. I hope I hear from the property management when it comes to being able to use water again. I mean, we can use the water, just not let anything go down the drain, and I’m assuming that means we can’t flush the toilet, either. We weren’t told by property management we can’t, but this has happened before, so I know all too well what is going on with the poor guy downstairs. I hope they can fix it quickly!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and if you’ve had a crappy week, things pick up for you!

Keep your chin up! Until next time!


Formatting your book with Vellum: Why I love it and why haters gotta stop hating.

taken from vellum.pub

Vellum is expensive–$250.00 for unlimited ebook and paperback capability–and I never recommend it because I’m sensitive to people not being able to afford it. Also, it only runs on a Mac and if you don’t want to pay to use MacinCloud on a PC, Vellum won’t be an option for you anyway.

But for those authors who can afford it, or hire a formatter who uses it, it can be a wonderful software that can generate book files in just a couple of hours. (Some authors say minutes, but I’ve found it can take a little longer than that–especially if you have to create the front and back matter from scratch.) I’ve formatted all my books with Vellum–even backlist titles got a facelift when my fiancé purchased a Mac and Vellum for me.

It’s amazing, and I absolutely have no argument with it.

But some authors do. They say they are disappointed in the limited capabilities and I’ve heard the familiar refrain a few times. Enough to make me mad. I take offense when someone feels the need to nitpick this software. Brad West and Brad Andalman did the indie community a huge service designing this software and continually updating it and adding new features. Still, this isn’t enough for some authors.

When I’m feeling particularly spunky, I’ll challenge them with this: a reader might appreciate the little extras you can deliver, but the real reason readers buy your book is for the story. Have you written a good book? That should be your main priority, not moaning because you can’t add color chapter headings, or fancy maps, or any other crazy stuff you want to add in a lame attempt to hide a mediocre story.

That might seem a little harsh, but it seems to me the writers who complain the loudest are the first time authors who haven’t understood that they are going to have to fight tooth and nail to sell their book and formatting is the least of their worries. (During COVID a whopping 88,000 books are being published very MONTH! — source, Alex Newton from K-lytics.)

Of course you want the inside of your book to look professional and in my mind you only need four things:

  1. Full Justification
  2. Drop Cap for Chapter Starts
  3. Professional Chapter Heading
  4. Appropriate page numbers and author name/title in headers and footers

That’s it.

Readers aren’t going to care if the chapter headers are colored images, or if they take the whole page. What they’re going to care about is if the story grabs them from the first sentence, or if there are typos or other mistakes that will pull them out of the story. They care if your story will engage them to the very last line.

Can you guarentee your readers that?

I bought a Jodi Ellen Malpas book on Amazon and I was surprised to see it came from Ingram Spark’s print on demand. She self-published this book. She’s a New York Times best-selling author. She can afford a team that can put together a beautiful book. And the formatting inside is plain. As plain as you can make the inside of a book. Because she knows her fans are not buying the book for how it looks, but for the story inside.

Here are my list of reasons why I do the minimum formatting in my books:

  1. Kindles can only handle so much. Not everyone reads on a tablet. Some people really do read on a Kindle Paperwhite, or a Voyage (that has been discontinued), Kindle Oasis, or other e-readers with limited functions. Readers can set the font so who cares if you’re bitching Vellum has a short list to choose from? Some e-readers are black and white so what does it matter if you insist on inserting colored chapter headers? E-readers strip a book of almost everything but the actual text that makes the story. If your story isn’t engaging they’ll return your book and read some thing else.
  2. Fancy formatting is a paperback perk. How many of those do you sell? Unless you write non-fiction or children’s books, then that’s something different. If you want to write in commercial, mainstream fiction, your e-books will far outsell your paperbacks. If you’re going to a convention, fine. But your cover is going to be on display more prominently than your formatting.
  3. Fancy formatting takes time. Pay for it if you insist on having it. There’s no reason to gripe in Facebook groups about how Vellum won’t suits your needs. There are other programs that will, like InDesign. If you don’t know how to use it, either learn or hire someone who does. You don’t need to complain in forums about a software you’re unhappy with. Deal with it because for every person it disappoints, it makes twenty others happier than hell.
  4. Story will always come first. Yes it’s exciting to publish and you want your book to be perfect. But your story should be the most perfect thing about your book followed by the cover. Readers will appreciate a cleanly formatted book. I know I have tossed books aside that are not formatted properly. I appreciate a plain format and a compelling story much more than a boring story with pretty chapter headers. I’ll know what the author cared more about and I won’t be impressed.

I’ll defend Brad and Brad. They did the indie community a huge courtesy developing a software that makes book formatting easy. The software produces a .mobi, epub, and generic epub for Nook, Google Play and Apple Books. It produces a PDF for the paperback. Vellum creates a beautiful book and when you’ve written a beautiful story, what it offers should be enough.


Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!


Monday Musings

Happy Labor Day! I want to take a second to honor those workers who have done so much to get us through these horrible coronavirus times. The first responders and the emergency room workers, all the nurses, doctors, people at the CDC, and the WHO, and teachers and parents, and everyone in between who has been doing what they can to make the world a better place while COVID has been sweeping through our country. As of this writing, 188,000 people have died of COVID and I don’t see this ending anytime soon. The way people don’t want to wear masks, still gather in public, and in general try to pretend nothing is going on because they are tired of having their own lives disrupted, I’ve never seen America in such turmoil. Please pray, and in November, go vote. Maybe if we all make our voices heard, we can make a change.


Anyway, I ran a giveaway with romance author Meka James, and the winner is Sandy! We will contact her so she can choose which format of Being Hospitable she wants to have, and where I should send her Amazon ecard. Meka has kindly decided to share another audiobook, and the runner up winner goes to Aila Stephens! We will be contacting her as well.

taken from Meka’s instagram account

Thanks to all the participants, and to those who read Meka’s interview! We’re fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community full of writers, authors, and friends who share our passion for all things books!


In other news I’m still working with Amazon ads, and I’m getting a little bit smarter this time month. While I came out ahead last month, I lost money on ads for The Years Between Us when I shouldn’t have. Just because you’re coming out ahead doesn’t mean you’re not wasting money. So lesson learned there. I’m keeping closer tabs on my ads, and I created a few new ones at the beginning of September. The ones I made for the first book in my wedding series just aren’t taking offing. That could be because I’m bidding too low. I’m selling books, but I think I’m still benefiting from the Freebooksy promo I did in July. And the sell-through to book four has been okay enough that it made up for the money I lost on The Years Between Us. I’m trying not to be too down on myself. I did come out ahead after all, and I am finding new readers. All you can do is keep tinkering and see if you can find that sweet spot among selling books, making money, and keep bids low.


I ran some ads for Wherever He Goes and I’m getting a few clicks but no sales. I redid the blurb today and it’s going through the publishing changes. I paused the ads while I did that, and I’ll start them up again when the changes are published. I like the cover, so the only thing left is for me to add some more categories. I published this book two years ago, and I bet I haven’t sold more than 50 books. I re-edited it along with all the other books I did back in April and May, I think, when we were all on lockdown and there wasn’t anything to do. So the insides and the cover are as good as I can make them now. A new blurb and cover did wonders for The Years Between Us, so I can only hope there’s a little magic left for this one too.


I don’t have too much else. I’m still working on book 5 of my series, and I’ll be done with it this week. I’ll probably move right on to book six and see how far I can get before the holiday stuff starts happening. November has always been a busy month for me with birthdays and Thanksgiving.

My daughter starts hybrid school on Tuesday and that should be interesting. I don’t feel anywhere prepared to help her get through the year. I also started working from home, which has been nice. Except for a few glitches getting going, I think it will be a nice change of pace and if it snows I won’t have to worry about missing work if I can’t get there. My daughter only goes to school 2-3 days a week, and those are the days I’m not scheduled to work. I think this fall will work out. Now if I can get my teeth in order, that would be great. Dental work always takes so much time though, so not even sure when I can get my mouth situated. I’ll be having a lot of consultations to see what the best course of action will be for the long-term. What I have done now I want to last until I die. Morbid, but I’ve been doing the bare minimum to my mouth for the past couple of decades and I’m too old to be putting up with this anymore.


I hope everyone who has kids back in school can find some safe normalcy, and keep writing those words! In a parting note, Jane Friedman is doing a class on how to choose an agent or publisher for your manuscript! Even though self-publishing is more of a thing than ever before, there are still a large number of writers who want to query. Knowing how to choose an agent to query that will be a good fit is super important. Her class is only $25 and it may save you a lot of work and heartache! Check it out here. If you can’t watch it live, there is always a replay, so don’t feel you can’t sign up if you’re busy. I’ve taken a few classes from her before, and you ALWAYS get what you pay for.

taken from Jane’s site.

That’s about all I have for today. Thanks for stopping in, and again, congrats to the winners of the giveaway! Have a lovely September!

Book Covers. Yep, again, because I like talking about them. :)

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you guys know I love talking about book covers. I especially love talking about scammers trying to rip you off by slapping a pretty font over a free photo from PIxabay and charging you $50.00 for something you can do yourself in Canva for free. I recently called out a “designer” for doing exactly that, and the icing on the cake was another member of the FB group posted her cover with the same exact photo and said she, too, had been taken for a ride. The universe was on my side that day! I would post a screenshot, but the original poster took it down a couple minutes after. Hopefully in embarrassment with her tail tucked between her legs!

I know I can’t save the world, and if I tried, I wouldn’t have enough time to write. I do like talking about covers though and what draws readers to buy our books. I’m watching a replay of a webinar with Nick Stephenson, and like any webinar talking about sales, he goes briefly goes over a book cover case study with one of his own books.

Taken from Nick’s free webinar

What he said is that the first cover wasn’t doing a good job. So they tried book cover number two, and eventually number three. Number three had the highest click-through and he explained in the next slide why:

Taken from Nick’s free webinar

Apparently, the red title that is associated with thrillers helped, along with the placing the elements that draw the eyes toward the center of the book. I like the first cover though, and I wonder how it would have done had he just changed the butter yellow font color to the dark red that works with thrillers. I think the guy running through the tunnel draws the eye to the center of the book just as well as the silhouette on the third cover. What do you think?

But it just goes to show that even a perfectly good cover may not be doing its job.

If you want to learn more about what Nick is doing, you can check his website here. And if you want to watch any of his YouTube videos, you can check out his channel here.

Anyway, in the FB group I’m in, there was a thread about cover pet peeves, and I thought it was a silly thread because this is something that authors seem to forget. Your book’s cover isn’t for you.

Just like most people agree that reviews aren’t for the author, they’re for readers finding their next book, covers, also, are only for readers. If you get too precious about your cover, or you’re too attached, or you let pride stand in the way of sales, what are you trying to prove? And to who?

names protected to hide the . . .

Listen, if I have to find a picture of a pig and a chicken falling in love to sell my book, then that’s what I’ll put on my cover. I didn’t write my book so it would sink to the bottom of the charts because I cared more about my likes than what will sell my book.

Stock photo provided by Canva. Template provided by Canva.

Genres have cover expectations, and unless you have a solid audience already in place, you need a cover that will sell books. I’m not sure why authors have such a hard time understanding this. I know some of it is cash. Especially if you pay out and you can’t afford to swap. I mean, I’ve heard of that happening, and it’s too bad. But you’re not going to make anything off a book that has a cover on it that isn’t appealing to readers.

Authors can make fun of man-chest covers, or the boring couple with the script font on the front, or all the thriller covers that look the same (girl in red jacket running away from the camera in the fog), or all the Urban Fantasy with the tough girl holding a fireball, but in doing so it just closes their minds to the possibility that being the same as other books might not be a bad thing. And why make things harder than they need to be? Discoverability is difficult!

That thread just really boggled my mind like so many indie decisions do, I guess.

I want my books to sell. That means genre specific tropes, cover to market, good blurb, correct categories and keywords, a nice look inside without typos.

Readers have a lot of choices these days, over 8 million to be exact. Why purposely give them a reason to keep scrolling?

Okay, I think I’m done musing and I’m going to bed. One day I’ll probably get kicked out of all my Facebook groups, but I just can’t help it. I just shake my head at the authors who want to do it their way then end up crying because they don’t sell books.

Can you ever really have your cake and eat it too?

Let me know, because I don’t care enough to try.

Man chest? Yes please. 🙂 Stock photo provided by Canva. Font provided by Canva. Cover design by yours truly.

Editing: Can you edit too much?

As I look up wrapping up my six book series (I’m at 67k for book five) editing 540,000 words is weighing on my mind. It’s a daunting task. I edit my own books, which people tell me is quite a no-no, and I agree for first-time authors and writers still working on their craft. I use beta readers who hunt for typos and point out murky scenes and I take their opinions to heart and decide if what they say has any validation in my work. (It usually does.)

On the other hand, my betas are writers, too, not only readers, and writers don’t read like readers do. We are pickier, which may or not be a good thing. The problem is, the pickier you are, the more you’re going to nickel and dime your manuscript to death.

So how can you edit without sucking the life out of your story?

  1. Don’t write by committee. I have to thank Kristine Kathryn Rusch for this tip. While critique partners and writing groups can offer valuable tips and suggestions, the end product should always be yours. There is no “best” way to write. Readers read your work because they like your voice. Writing by committee is the fastest way to lose your voice. You simply can’t implement everyone’s suggestions, nor can you make your book “perfect.” There is no such thing. Your book could have a million endings, a million different twists. If what you have chosen gels (meaning no potholes, you have realized character acs, etc) there’s no reason to be swayed by someone else’s opinion if you like what you’ve already got.
  2. Too many cooks ruin the broth. Every beta reader is going to have an opinion and your mind can spin if you try to listen to everyone. Some people think the more beta readers the better, but all that does is give you more opinions to listen to. Maybe you like that. I have one or two trusted betas and that’s it. I wouldn’t even bother with that except it’s not a good idea to publish without another set of eyes just to be sure you’re not missing anything plot-wise.
  3. Too many editing sweeps and you’ll edit the flavor right out of the story. I did this with Wherever He Goes. I wanted my first standalone to sound good, but all I did was make the opening chapters sound bland. It’s difficult to trust your gut, especially if you haven’t been writing for a while and you know your voice and writing style still need a little work. Going over and over your work won’t make it better–it’s already written. Make that particular piece the best it can be with as few editing sweeps as possible and move on to something new.
  4. Trust your instincts. I have already made some changes with my first couple of books in the series that I don’t agree with based on beta suggestions, and I regret them now. In my next editing sweep I’ll put them back. The things she pointed out and I changed were based on her personal dislikes and I should never have listened to her. I liked what I had before I made changes.
  5. Choose beta readers in your genre. I think that was part of my problem with number four above. The person who disliked aspects of my book doesn’t read or write in my genre. Sometimes this can be valuable, but usually having a beta familiar with your genre can help with tropes etc. and tell you if you hit the nail on the head or missed the mark. (Usually if you are an extensive reader in your genre, you’ll know without being told.)
  6. If you’ve been writing for a while, you may not need an editor. Hear me out. You may only need a proofreader so you can publish a clean copy of your work. As you’re writing evolves, you’ll become more confident and you won’t second-guess yourself like I did with Wherever He Goes, or even when I listened to my beta reader with the first couple of books when deep down I didn’t want to.

In closing, I’m not going to go all crazy with the editing of these books. I don’t want to edit my voice out of them. I want my characters to sound like themselves and that is a real risk when you over-edit. You can edit the spirit right out of your characters so they sound like every other character you’ll ever write.

You don’t want to publish a first draft, but you don’t want your editing to take longer than the actual writing either. There’re a lot of stories out there. Go write them.


If you want to hear Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s talk, she spoke at the 20booksto50k conference in Vegas last year. I think I might have referenced this video once before on the blog, but I’ll post it again if you’re curious.

Also, if you’re curious about a couple of good editing books, I just recommended these two to a friend on Twitter:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a fabulous book and it’s highly recommended by a lot of writers, agents, and editors. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Self-Editing-Fiction-Writers-Second-Yourself/dp/0060545690/

Taken from Amazon

And a new editing book that just came on the scene not long ago by Tiffany Yates Martin called Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing is fabulous! I heard about it in one of the FB groups I’m in, and it is awesome! I recommend you check it out! https://www.amazon.com/Intuitive-Editing-Creative-Practical-Revising/dp/1950830020/

taken from Amazon

Thanks for stopping in! Until next time! 🙂


Happy Wednesday! Author musings and Indie Publishing news.

Happy Wednesday! I usually post on Thursdays when I have a little something I want to share, but today I’m writing about some time sensitive material, so posting today instead.

We have five more days of this month, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always been a Fall girl, and this year, especially, I can’t wait for cooler temperatures and rainy afternoons while the wind whips the leaves from the trees. I don’t even have to dread all the snow we’re predicted to get this year as I got a new vehicle, and hopefully it will take to the snowdrifts better than my crappy little Neon ever did.

Due to COVID-related issues, my trip I was going to take this week has been canceled, and that gave me time to write I didn’t think I’d have. I got 5,000 words written yesterday and I’ll be at 70k soon. I’m aiming for 90k, but since this really is just one long story, if I reach a good ending point, I’ll stop and pick up in the last book of the series. It’s coming along, though some of the planning has dragged a little bit as I’m more pantsing this book than plotting, and I can’t sit down and write until I know what I need. That means a lot of daydreaming or free writing to figure out where my story is going and how to get it there. On the bright side, I know what I need to finish this book, so I should have it done in the next week or so.

I did a terrific interview with romance author Meka James and we’re hosting a lovely giveaway of a ebook or audiobook of Being Hospitable, and a $25.00 e-gift card to Amazon. To be perfectly honest, none of the giveaways I have ever hosted have done that well, and if you want to enter, you have a REALLY good chance of winning. There’s only been a handful of entries, and that includes me and Meka testing the link so you should definitely enter! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f2ad9b1e25/

As far as what’s going on in the news, I may be the last to report this, but a couple weeks ago, Amazon Ads have starting reporting page reads in your ads dashboard. That means if your book is in KU you can see if that ad is bringing in page reads. Now, that’s not a sure-fire way of knowing if your ad is profitable, since page reads can come from more places than just an ad. Amazon reporting isn’t the greatest, and we’re encouraged to use the KDP Reports instead of depending on your ads dashboard. But I think a lot of us were just happy that Amazon seems to be trying to make things better for us in terms of working with them. I get that we have a love hate relationship with the big giant, but I tell myself that self-publishing wouldn’t be possible with the creation of the Kindle. I mean, who’s to say if a different company wouldn’t have picked up the reigns, but had that happened, who knows what the indie publishing space would look like now. Better? Worse? Less opportunities? More? It’s nice they listen to our feedback, and I appreciate the opportunities Amazon has given us.

Anyway, if you run Amazon ads, KENP reads are another way of showing you if your ads are profitable.

Here’s a screenshot of one of my well-performing ads:

The ad for All of Nothing at the bottom of this picture does pretty good. The total KENP for the ad is 10,205 and that equals into about 23 books. (Divide KENP page reads by the number of KENP pages your book has, and that information can be found under promote and advertise on your bookshelf for your book).

If you’re interested in trying Amazon ads, watch this video with Janet Margo, Craig Martelle, and Mark Dawson. She used to work at Amazon and has some great tips for authors. Also, it’s quite amusing to watch Mark Dawson in the background smoking a cigar and drinking. LOL

In other news with Amazon Ads, they are expanding, and they added Canada and Australia this week! I did put up some Canadian ones to test the waters since I’m in Minnesota near the Canadian border (and some of my books are set along that area as well). We’ll see how it goes. I need to watch them carefully as I don’t know if the bids are the same as in the US. I’m sure the Amazon Ad Profit Challenge Bryan Cohen is going to host in October will have some tips regarding the new countries we can advertise in. It sucks that each country has their own ad dashboard, and you have to remember to calculate all the different spend totals when figuring out if you’re still ahead, which is the most important thing when all is said and done.

I’m a member of an Amazon Ads FB group and when I asked for ideas on blog posts lots of people wanted to know about marketing.

In an email that Bryan Cohen sent out to us (if you’re on his newsletter list) he teamed up with Alex Newton of K-lytics to host a webinar about genre research and he said:

Whether you want to believe it or not, meeting reader expectations is the best way to sell a lot of books. That means knowing your genre. Worrying about how to market your book after you’ve already spent six months to a year writing it isn’t the best time to wonder where your readers are. Just my two cents, especially considering I’m on book 5 of a 6 book series that isn’t *quite* like any of the longer billionaire series I’ve read. But I do agree we have write what we like, too, or we’re trapped writing books we don’t want solely for the paycheck. I hope I hit the mark with the tropes and the characters, and where I didn’t, readers can still enjoy what I did with the plot or overlook the parts they dislike.

If you want to sign up for the webinar, you can do it here: https://k-lytics.lpages.co/webinar-bpf/ It plays Thursday, August 27th, but there is always a replay if you can’t watch it live. I’m working tomorrow, so I’ll be watching the replay when they release it.

I think that’s all friends! I hope you all have a terrific weekend, and don’t forget to sign up for that giveaway! Read Meka’s interview, too! I asked her a lot of questions about her self-publishing journey!

Until next time!


Author Interview: Romance Author Meka James (Plus a Lovely Giveaway!)

taken from Twitter

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for joining me on this fabulous Monday! Today I interviewed romance author Meka James. She’s been publishing since 2014 and has lots of experience in the industry. Grab a cup of coffee and listen in as she tells us about her experiences with indie publishing and dipping her toes in the water of traditional publishing, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the blog post!


You have furbabies, real babies, and a husband. How do you find time to write books and keep up with a blog, too?

**Well, my real babies are older. My youngest is 10, that means they are way more self-sufficient which leaves me time. Plus they are at the age where mom isn’t as “cool” to hang out with. (sad face LOL). As for the husband, he works during the day which also means I have time on my hands. The furbabies sleep 95% of the day. hahaha 

You’re a part of the #turtlewriters on Twitter.  What are the benefits to writing and publishing slowly? Are there any negatives?

**Taking your time benefits because it’s less stressful. I’m slow and a pantser so I need to let the story form as I’m writing it. It works for me, but everyone’s process is different. The biggest downside would be just keeping relevant. We all know the struggles to find (and keep) readers so the longer you go between releases, the more chances you have in people losing interest in your writing. 

You’re a hybrid author, meaning you are both traditionally published and self-published. How did you decide to go this route? Will you look for a book deal in the future?

**I started out team Indie. When I began writing it was always my first choice. I joined up with a group of ladies on Twitter in maybe 2013/2014 and at the time I was the only one in the group not in the query trenches. So one year I decided to do a what the hell, and see what it was all about. I wrote the story Being Neighborly with the intent to sub it to Carina for their dirty bits line. Anything Once (Limitless Publishing) I wrote with the intent to just randomly sub it places never stressing too much if it didn’t get picked up because as I said, going Indie was always the option for me with any book. I do have ideas of subbing again but only to help with some of the cost associated with self-publishing. Between covers and editing, it gets pricey as you know, so letting a press handle that would be nice. 

You genre-hop and write everything from twisted fairytales to erotica. How does this affect your marketing and establishing a brand?

**hahaha I’m supposed to have a brand? LOL no but in all seriousness I write what I feel like. I mean the one thing that stays consistent is that the stories will be character based and steamy. I do feel like I’m coming into my own now and have a direction. I stick with contemporary and play with tropes. I like to think my characters all end up being down to earth with problems and situations readers can relate to. That I *hope* will be my brand.

You’ve played with Amazon ads and have participated in Bryan Cohen’s 5 Day Ad Profit Challenge, something I’ve written about here on the blog. How was your experience? Do you have any quick do’s and don’ts for our readers?

**Well, Bryan’s great. He hands out the information in easy to understand ways. I appreciate that. However, I’m nowhere near fully understanding how it all works and how to make what I sell actually sell! LOL I guess my best advice is to stick with it. Keep trying. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and that goes with learning the marketing aspects as well as the writing.

You attended RWA in 2019 in NYC. Can you give our readers some advice on what to expect at a huge conference like that and how to maximize your time and funds? I hope one day we can attend them in person again!

**Oh boy! First, expect to be overwhelmed. Seriously, if you’re not a crowd/people person you need to be ready for the onslaught. It’s a lot. The old RWA offered up a lot of classes, some that conflicted, so plan (not my strong suit) so you can know what you want to attend. Also, don’t go too starry eyed over all the free books at the signings. Seriously I did that at my first convention in Denver and ended up having to pay a weight overage fee on my bag. LOL Don’t be me. But have fun. Yes you’re there to network, but also just enjoy the time. Don’t let it be stressful and think you have to be doing something every minute. Downtime is important. 

You’re involved in an anthology! Congratulations! That’s so cool, and the proceeds go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund which is doubly cool. Besides giving back, how is being in an anthology beneficial to your writer platform and career?

**This will be my first anthology and I’m hoping that it will get my name out there to more readers. That is always the goal, to find new people that may enjoy my work. By teaming up with 28 (I think) other authors, that’s a lot of potential for new readers to read me and hopefully go buy through my backlist.

Did you borrow a book from your already-published collection, or did you write something new?

**The story in the anthology is new. It’s a short only about 6k in length.

That’s great! I’ll be sure to look for it!
You’ve just released two novellas related to the novella published by Carina. How did your launches go? I know every time I publish a book I make a new mistake. When it comes to launches what would you do differently? What worked well?

**Same. Honestly with each release I feel like I’m starting from scratch. The only thing I do consistently is post teasers on social media. I have gotten away from a lot of paid promotions for launches. I mean I’ve had some success with blog tours, and I still like them to help get reviews, but sometimes it can be hit or miss. So far I don’t know that I’ve done anything particularly well during a launch. They’ve all had the same sort of lukewarm reception, but I keep chugging along. At this point, I do what I’m comfortable with which is mostly the teasers. I know a lot of people don’t think social media sells books, but for me it does. 

taken from Instagram
taken from Instagram

What’s next for you in the next six months? What are you working on now?

**I am currently working on my first *planned* series that I’m hoping to publish next year. They are a small town romance that follows three friends, all now in their forties who are falling in love. Like with my Desert Rose novellas, each will have a trope featured.
Book 1: Second Chance
Book 2: May/December
Book 3: Enemies-to-lovers.
I’m also hoping to put out another novella by the end of the year, but that is mostly me being way too confident in my slow writing self. LOL But it goes back to the relevancy thing. My last book was published in May, the idea I won’t have another until 2021 is a little nerve-wracking, but sometimes it is what it is. 

I did that, too. I released a standalone novel in May of 2019, then didn’t have anything until January of 2020, and I’ll be doing something similar–I won’t have anything to release until probably next year but like you said, it is what it is.

Thanks for taking the time, Meka! Good luck with your new series!


After I gave Meka her questions, she blogged about her experience with AUDIO! I didn’t want to bother her with more questions, but you can read about her experience on her blog. Click on the picture and pick up some tips to see if audio is right for you!


Meka is really sweet and agreed to do a giveaway. She’s giving away either an ebook copy or an audio copy of Being Hospitable. Also, since I’m hosting, I’m throwing in a $25.00 gift card to Amazon so you can buy more books! Click the link to enter and good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f2ad9b1e25/?


Follow Meka:

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

Thanks for reading! Until next time!


Happy Monday! Author musings and not much news.

I was supposed to be flying to Georgia today to help my fiancé drive up from the Savannah area. I had a tooth start hurting, and because of my unwillingness to wait for a root canal, I’m getting it pulled. I was supposed to go Wednesday, but they had a cancellation and I’m going in at 3:00 today. Needless to say, I’m a bit nervous and because alcohol is a blood thinner, I can’t take a few nips before I head in. I don’t have much dental anxiety, but I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be a little scared to get a tooth pulled out of their head. I’m only happy he said he could do it and didn’t need to refer me to an oral surgeon. The sooner the better. The bright spot is, I can run errands afterward because my mask will hide the big wad of gauze I’ll have shoved into the back of my mouth. There is, my dear readers, always a silver lining!

As for my trip, I rescheduled for next Monday, August 24th. Pray all goes well because between the two of us (me and my fiancé) we have horrible luck. Case in point: who would have predicted he’d need to move in the middle of a pandemic. That’s something we didn’t need.


I am still writing, and last night after I transcribed the bit I was able to write at work I’m up to 45k for book 5 in my series. It’s going well–I still love the characters and the plot is coming along. This mystery/thriller stuff isn’t my cup of tea though. All the breadcrumbing and making sure if a character says something, (dun dun dun) someone, somewhere, follows up. I have a few subplots weaving through this book and keeping them straight is tougher than making sure my earbud cords don’t tangle. But it’s interesting to note that my skills are improving writing-wise, and I may not have been able to write a plot like this two years ago. It makes me think about a book I had to abandon about 3 years ago because like this series, there’s a bit of a mystery I just couldn’t figure out, no matter how much brainstorming I did. Now if I look at the notes, I wonder if I could fit together the pieces. I wasn’t ready to write that book. It could be after writing this series I will be.


I read My Dark Vanessa over the weekend, and if you haven’t read it, you should! I read that book faster than almost any book I’ve every dug into, even faster than when I started Daisy Jones and the Six and couldn’t put that down until I was done.

I just ordered Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer, and I have Butterfly in Frost to read next by Sylvia Day. I am trying to make more of an effort to read first person present books while I write it in, and I wish I didn’t have such a hard time reading on my Kindle. I could get good use out of my KU subscription reading all the top 100 romance books on Amazon to keep up with what my fellow authors are doing.


Anyway, my ads are still doing well. I’m up 100 dollars this month so far! It’s a little scary thinking of all the money I’m spending, and I wish that Amazon would bill me at the same time they pay out royalties. It wouldn’t look like it hurts so much then. But surprisingly, or not, my biggest seller is The Years Between Us, after I redid the cover. I can’t express how important a cover is. Even if you think your cover is good, if it’s not selling your book, don’t be afraid to change it!

I will always be grateful that I have the flexibility as an indie to change things that aren’t working, and the humbleness to admit that the choices I’ve made may not always be the right ones. People can get so stuck with their choices thinking that once a choice is made there is no other way, but that kind of thinking keeps you from broadening your horizons and maybe finding a different path that really works.


As far as anything else goes, my daughter is starting 9th grade next month, and things are still up in the air. She chose to do the hybrid plan instead of all online, and I supported that. She didn’t do so well at the end of last year. She may be an introvert, but we all crave human contact. So this week I’ll be taking her to get her hair done and doing a bit of school shopping for some new clothes and school supplies. So I suppose it worked out that I had to postpone my trip, but I do miss him and I’m excited for the changes that will happen once we’re finally in the same town!


I’m watching the replay of the marketing webinar Jane Friedman put on last week. I linked it to you in last week’s blog post. She has a lot to say on marketing for both traditionally published authors and indies, and the very first thing she said was you have to make sure your cover, blurb, and the product as a whole are good. After you put your book for sale, your book is no longer just a book, but a product. I joined an Amazon Ads Facebook group after Bryan Cohen’s Ads Challenge finished, and lots of people forget that you need a good product. All the time I see, I’m tweaking my ads all over the place but I’m not getting any sales. So I take a look at their books and I can see right away. Poor cover, or the blurb is a big block of text. Maybe they have a genre mashup and they don’t have the correct categories chosen, and who knows what they’re using for keywords. I’m not saying I have it all together. My cover for TYBU is a good example. But, if you’re going to ask for advice, at least listen to what someone has to tell you. They could be right on point, even if it means more work for you.


I suppose that’s all I have for now. I try to give my readers some kind of value or tip, but while I still listen to a lot of podcasts and I’m in the middle of that webinar, I haven’t discovered anything to pass on. Bryan does have his next ads profit challenge starting in October, but God, for some reason that just seems so far away right now. And with David (please, God) finally here, I may not sign up for it. It’s going to take a bit to get him settled in and I’ll still be working and doing as much writing as I can to finish up these last two books before all the plot flies out of my head and I don’t know what I’m writing anymore. Sounds silly, but I don’t keep notes. I’m writing these back to back to back and all the details of every little thing are in my head. Maybe not the best way, but it’s my process nonetheless.

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead, and if you want to know how my dental appointment goes today, let me know and I’ll post a comment. Tell me something yucky you have to do this week!


Monday’s Author Musings and Catch Up.

I don’t have a lot to say at the moment. I’ve been writing my first person present books, and I’m 34k into the 5th book out of 6. I’m happy things are moving along and my alpha reader says that so far they are engaging and stuff keeps happening even if I feel some parts are a bit laggy in places. So, that’s good news! It’s going to be quite the task to edit them but because of consistency issues, I’ll do them all once book 6 is done and I take a bit of a breather. When I don’t feel like writing I’m looking through stock photos of couples I like. The covers will be a process, and you can’t start something like that too soon.

I’m happy that Canva has introduced some text effects and that will add some additional choices when making covers. It will be fun to play around with new combinations.


My Amazon ads are still doing well. I think the promo I did with Freebooksy is still working. I’m up almost a hundred dollars after ad expenses for the month, and it’s only the ninth. It would be really cool if I could make that and not spend, but paying for marketing is always going to be a necessary evil.

Not too many readers are leaving reviews on Amazon though, and I’m scared to look at Goodreads. People can be a little nastier there, and I just don’t need that kind of negativity. Being a writer and putting yourself out there is already hard enough. No need to torture yourself when you don’t have to.


If you want some more information about marketing, Jane Friedman is hosting a webinar this week, on Wednesday, August 12th. If you can’t watch it live, you can watch the replay. She always has such good information and you should give her blog a follow too. If you want information about the marketing webinar and her other online classes, click here.


I suppose that’s all I have for now. I’ve been writing a lot, working, and it feels like I’m always doing laundry. It’s been hotter than hell in MN this summer, and dealing with the heat, despite our air conditioning being fixed has been a real drain. And this week we’re supposed to find out what my daughter will be doing with her school year. She starts 9th grade next month! I can’t believe how time flies.


I hope you all are doing well, and looking forward to fall. The cooler weather will be welcome! Have a great week everyone!