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.

Thursday Musings: Why are people so cranky (toward Amazon)?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

There’s a lot of animosity for Amazon (and IngramSpark for that matter) online in the author groups these days. Authors are angry because they aren’t getting their author copies and proofs in a reasonable amount of time. One woman was experiencing a glitch on the KDP website while trying to figure out a pre-order (which is pretty common all year round, not just December) and there was so much rage in her post my laptop started smoking.

Indies have a really weird love/hate relationship with Amazon. We love them for the opportunity they gave us to bypass gatekeepers (agents) and publish our own work. We hate them for what? Spotty customer service, perhaps. Locking us into KDP Select when authors want the benefits of KU but the flexibility of still publishing wherever they like. We hate the lagging in reports on our ads dashboard, and I don’t know what else. That’s all that I can think of trying to remember what some people have complained about. We easily forget that with the invention of the Kindle and their self-publishing platform that indie publishing is what it is today. There are lots of other factors involved like other platforms coming into play (Nook, Apple, Google Play) and other distributors jumping on the bandwagon (Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, among others like Lulu and Bookbaby) and business/industry dealings I have no interest in following (pricing wars of ebooks, the big publishing houses consolidating) that have affected how indies can publish their books.

You can hate Jeff Bezos for his billions, but Amazon has made several indie author careers. Ask Mark Dawson, or Bella Andre, or Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, or any of the other huge indie authors who found their start publishing a single ebook to KDP. Many, (actually, I think all) of them have gone on to some form of traditional publishing be it in the form of new book deals or paperback only deals, or translations, what have you. Everyone knows The Martian made it to the big screen. Plus, with Amazon’s own publishing imprints, Amazon is luring away big trad authors like Dean Koontz, Sylvia Day, and Patricia Cornwall. They drank the Kool-Aid and are happier for it.

Of course, Amazon played a small role in those things–the authors can take the most credit by having a solid product that people wanted.

I see that as another reason for authors’ rage against Amazon. Amazon Advertising is blamed for taking money but not selling books. They feel ripped off, they feel like Amazon is double dipping–taking royalty money and charging for ad spend. Authors feel like they’re being played. But take a look at some of those books, and you can see why they feel that way. Their books are sub-par, they don’t follow industry standard, their covers are bad, and their books are full of telling not showing.

It’s a lot easier to blame someone else for your mistakes, isn’t it?

I experience the same glitches as everyone else. I hate when they ask you to fix the highlighted mistake, but there is no highlighted mistake. I’ve published enough books, and spoken with support, to figure out what I did wrong. My last problem was a price change that made my royalties in India 0. Amazon won’t let you do that. That section wasn’t highlighted, and it took a call to support for her to quickly look through my book’s profile and tell me what the issue was. One of the mistakes that threw me for a loop was when they stopped taking my imprint as my publisher name. I had to call and ask them why when they had in the past. They said I could list my imprint as my publisher name if I wanted to screen shot my ISBN numbers on the Bowker website and prove that my imprint name is attached to my ISBN numbers. No thanks. That was a battle I had no intention of fighting. I dislike they’re tightening their creative guidelines and I can’t run ads to my series because the covers are too steamy. It’s irritating because I don’t think the covers, in relation to other contemporary romance steamy cover, are that racy. But my ads get declined over and over and I stopped trying to slip past their moderators. It’s not worth making them mad at me.

Those are the types of things that can make a person angry, right? But the thing is, you’re running a business, and there’s no business on the face of this planet that doesn’t have some kind of issue every day. Be it employees calling in sick, or the internet is down, or a water pipe burst and your store is flooded. You’re running a small business. Things happen, and as a responsible business owner, if you’re planning a release and something happens, that’s for you to take care of, it doesn’t matter who is to blame.

The pandemic doesn’t make things any better. I don’t know how KDP sets up their support. Depending on who answers my call, it sounds like they sometimes outsource their calls. I don’t call enough to figure out when–I speak with both people with Asian accents as well as American accents. During the global pandemic, we don’t know how COVID is affecting Amazon’s employees. Maybe KDP support is working from home, or maybe they work in call centers and they are short-staffed. Their POD printers must be pumping books out like crazy, but Amazon workers oversee those and box up the copies for shipping.

Sometimes authors forget that Jeff Bezos isn’t all of Amazon. Behind Amazon’s logo are thousands of workers. They have lives. They have families. They get sick.

Your entitlement doesn’t look good on you.

Keep it out of the groups.

The bottom line is, you don’t have to publish with Amazon. You can take all your energy and ad money and use it to build a readership on other platforms. There are indie authors who do very well wide. Lindsay Buroker publishes wide and she makes a million dollars a year. Not all of that comes from Amazon. She once said that Google Play had been trying to contact her to update her banking information. When she finally got around to it, she said she had enough royalties built up there she went out and paid cash for a brand new truck. You can make other platforms work for you. Kindle Select isn’t the end-all, be-all of your publishing business. You can make money if your books aren’t in KU. You have to work for it. Just like any business owner.

Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They're underused. Tommy Lee Jones

Being in some of the author groups is such a drag right now. It’s all complain, complain, complain. I love being in the 20booksto50k group. Every single post is moderated and they don’t allow any negativity. That takes a lot of work. There’s a lot of negativity out there aimed at both KDP and IngramSpark. From the complaints I’ve read online, IngramSpark might be doing even more poorly than KDP. Personally, I’ve never liked IngramSpark’s website. Uploading books there is a bear and it’s the last thing I do when I publish because I hate it so much. I only do that so my paperbacks are available everywhere just in case. From my own experience, their POD quality isn’t any better than KDP Print. I use it for the distribution and that’s all. But we have to remember that IngramSpark services thousands of authors, and those authors are publishing books every day. You are not a special snowflake and you have to stop acting like you are.

You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force. Pubilius Syrus

I’ve worked in customer service all my life in one way or other. Going off on a customer service agent is the best way to ensure you don’t get the service and results you want. We remember you. We make notes. The second your name pops up, we cringe inside. Who knows if the customer service reps at KDP have access to a notes portion of your profile. Do you want them to say “Nice author to work with. :)” Or do you want them to say, “Angry. Yelled at me and used expletives.” The next time you call, what kind of treatment do you think you’ll receive?

Craig Martelle likes to remind us that you, as an indie author, are part of a whole. We make up that whole. You represent us. Every shitty thing you say to an Amazon rep is reflected back on indie authors. When I need to call or email, I am pleasant, I wish them a nice day. I chit chat and tell them to stay safe and healthy. I thank them for being there. They are at work to earn a paycheck to feed their families. Show some kindness. At the end of they day when they log off, they don’t care about your book. Remember that.

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. Scott Adams

I’m not quite sure what I wanted to do with this post. It’s the holiday season, people are cranky because of the pandemic. Lots of us don’t have jobs, can’t buy presents for our kids this year. I’m not without my own issues this month. But it is never okay to take your anger out on someone else. If you have that much rage built up inside you that you have to go off on an Amazon rep because something happened to your pre-order, find a therapist.

There’s not much left of 2020. Make the most of it!


Got/Get: The laziest words.

I don’t write a lot on craft in this blog. I’ll share editing books I like and tell you over and over again that no matter what you do, ads, graphics, book promotion sites, what have you, if you’re not selling a good book, you’re not going to make it. I don’t mean a well-written book that doesn’t resonate with some readers. You’re not going to please everyone, and that’s just how it is. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to keep going in the past few years of writing. Certain people may not like my stories–I’ve never written a character people hate more than Jax in All of Nothing, but never in any review have I ever read of my work has anyone told me I’m a bad writer. So whether or not people don’t agree with my characters and all their flaws, at least I can hold my head up and know I’m a good writer.

I’m not sure where I was going with that?

Oh, so I don’t offer much craft advice. That really should come from your beta readers, your writing group, your editor. What you choose to take from those people is your own business, and as one editor I know says, “It’s always going to be their book.” So yeah, I don’t like craft advice very much, at least, not giving it.

Lately I’ve been reading more on my Kindle. I pay for a KU subscription and I signed up thinking that I would keep up with my comp authors that way. A lot of romance authors are in KU and it’s always a good thing to keep up with what’s selling. That was my intention anyway, but I paid for a few months of it before I charged up my Kindle and decided I was going to take advantage of my subscription. I read a lot of non-fiction and reading in KU is a lot cheaper than buying paperbacks.

Anyway, so I finished a mystery/thriller the other day. It’s written in first person present, which is why I chose to read it. I’m writing my own stuff in first person present and for me, it’s easier to keep in that POV and tense.

It didn’t take me long to get annoyed. This author really, I mean really, liked the words GOT/GET/GOTTEN. Not short for Game of Thrones, like we associate that word now, but the. . . I guess it’s a verb? . . . got. Gotten. Getting. Get.

She’s got an open black peacoat revealing black slacks and a gray blouse beneath.

When I got in last night, (character name) was in the middle of working on a story.

I need to get to that hospital.

While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she’s got nothing.

I don’t need to do anymore, and it didn’t take me long to find these. The author turns sloppier toward the end of book, like he was tired of writing it and wanted to finish it as quickly as possible.

Maybe it’s just me because that word has already been a pet peeve of mine, but it really turned me off. There are better verbs you can use, and they aren’t hard to reach for–She’s wearing an open black peacoat . . . Even as something simple as changing out GOT for HAS. While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she has nothing. Maybe it’s not any better, creatively speaking, but to me it reads a lot better.

He was able to comb through her devices after we got them from her parents.

It just sounds all around clunky and I’ve hammered it out of my writing. I know how easy it is to slip into easy language, and sometimes that’s all right. But the more you do it the more you can fall into “telling” a story rather than “showing” it. First person is particularly difficult because we’re writing someone’s thoughts, and people’s thoughts are messy and not particularly sophisticated.

And of course, I didn’t tag any dialogue because that’s how how speak. “To make it on time, we have to get going.” “We really gotta go now.” And if you’re speaking to kids, “We really gotta go NOW.”

I’m not blaming this author–I blame her editor for not catching it, or not caring enough to catch the repetitiveness of the word and asking the author to perhaps do a word search of her document and swap out the word where applicable. This wasn’t an indie published book, and unlike some indie where you’re not sure if an editor has gone over the book, this one has. It’s too bad because the word ruined a story I could have enjoyed.

In my own unfinished WIP (67k+) I used GOT 19 times. All but one time is in dialogue. In this particular conversation I used it to express character:

“You got balls, doll, but I guess you’d have to, to lie to so many people for so long. It’s not going to be that easy for you, either, once your secret comes out. What got you into that mess, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Murray Jameson, from an untitled WIP

I can search through that book and find GOT maybe every three pages, and I wanted send out a warning. Words like putting, getting, put, got–those are lazy words and you can do better. If you can’t pull the word you need out of your brain while you’re in the zone, I don’t blame you and you shouldn’t let it derail you. Keep going but make a note, maybe an actual note so you don’t forget, that you’ll need to do a sweep for that word in edits.

I don’t write literary fiction, and I’m not out to be the next Margaret Atwood, but I do want my books to read clean and give the reader a chance to immerse herself into my story. I don’t want sloppy grammar to pull her out.

I got into plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

So easily remedied: I found plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

I know we all have our voices, our own styles, and if you want to use GOT go ahead. There is a time and place for it, and I know that. But too much of a good thing can be bad.

And that is my craft post for the month.

“Got” a pet peeve that you’ve discovered in books? Let me know!


Amazon Ads: A discussion

A love a good round table talk about things that are working in the indie community. Be it a new marketing tactic or a new way of doing things, I’m all in. I may not take any action–mostly because I know I’m not already doing what I could using tried and true methods, like building a newsletter. But I really enjoy reading discussions about something I’ve tried and can compare what their opinions and expreiences, especially when heavy-hitters in the industry weigh in with what is working for them–and what isn’t.

Trust me, if something isn’t working for them–you’re not going to get it to work for you.

And as always, we have to think of what our definition of success is. When it comes to selling books, that may mean one stranger buying your book. That may mean your first review from someone you don’t know. When you get to the people who are trying to make a living, usually their version of success is making money to live on, quitting their day jobs, maybe using their royalties to have a more comfortable retirement. Indies just starting out think small. A book here, a book there, clicks and tons of impressions are all that is needed to spur them on. I get annoyed, mostly because if you think small, you’ll be happy with peanuts. Someday I would like to quit my day job. I doubt that will never happen, but if I don’t at least aim for it, it won’t, for sure.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I stubbled upon a discussion in the Self Publishing Formula Facebook group headed by Mark Dawson. Mark runs an ads course and is a very successful indie in his own right. Other big names who were chiming in included AG Riddle and Russell Blake. I really want to copy and paste parts of the discussion, but it’s a private group and I don’t want to get kicked out. If you’re an indie and want to join, the link is here: SPF Community.

AG posted a poll: Do Amazon Ads work? In later comments he amended his question to, Do Amazon Ads work right now? And I feel that while some people are still getting their ads to work, the consensus was actually, no they don’t.

At least, not in the way we hope they will.

Lots of things come into play here, and the one that I’m reminded of most is that while Amazon Ads won’t let your book sink down the rankings into obscurity, what you want the ads to do is help your book get sticky enough that Amazon helps you sell it. Email blasts, recommending your book, hitting the popularity list being chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal. Ads alone aren’t going to help you do this. This is what I gleaned from the conversation, and you can tell me if you agree.

Do Amazon Ads work?

*Yes. If you have a series. Someone commented and said that ads don’t truly work if you’re counting on read through to cover the cost of the click. This is a good point and why the number one piece of advice is to write in a series. But the ad is still putting book one in front of readers. It’s up to the strength of the book (is it well-written) and if the other books are available if the ad spend is going to be worth it.

Let’s look at the cost of a click for a standalone book at .99. You don’t get .99 off that sale–your max royalty amount is 35%, so about .35 cents. If you bid .35 on a click, you’re breaking even, right? That’s what I’m doing right now on my first in series. I put it on sale for .99 until the end of the year because it’s a holiday romance. My other books in that series are 2.99. With dynamic bids down, my clicks won’t always cost the exact amount I bid, and I may make .10-.15 on that first book. My others are priced at 2.99, in which I get my 70% royalty, or 2.09.

*Yes. If your book sells well at full price or is in KU. I’ll make more off a .99 cent book in KU than I will selling it for that price. I can spend .35 a click because a full KU read of book one will earn me 1.35. Which is a dollar in royalties.

*Yes. If you have all your categories and targeting situated. There’s nothing Amazon hates more than showing your book to people who won’t buy it. It’s a waste of time for them and for their customer. Customer satisfaction is all Amazon wants and if you’re trying to show your book to as many people as possible and you lose relevancy, Amazon will stop showing it. That’s tough for authors who genre-mash, write without thinking and have no idea what their genre is, or have poor product pages. I didn’t consider why an ad would stop working until I read Robert J Ryan’s book, Amazon Ads Unleashed.

*Yes. If your book is a good product and has the reviews to prove it. There’s not much to say here, and I’ll quote two of the comments:

Ads can only give extra visibility to what you’ve got – they can’t make it sell better. The product does the selling, not the ads.

Robert J Ryan

A very long time ago I got a degree in advertising. One of the bits of wisdom I remember is that good advertising will kill a bad product quicker.

Jennifer L Anderson

*Yes. If you know how to use them. Figuring out how the platform works takes a bit of time, and even though you may not spend much, if you want to see traction, you have to be able to afford some spending money for clicks. As I write this, I’m 19 dollars ahead for the month, but I wouldn’t be there if I couldn’t afford the 10 dollars I’ve already spent on clicks.

The problem is, Amazon ads will help you, but by a very thin margin. Using ads won’t make you a millionaire over night. I break even every month, sometimes make a little–a cup of coffee little. I have ten books out, I’m writing more (or trying to. My life has been a bit trying lately), and my covers, at least, I think, are on point even if I’ve done them myself. It took a long time for me to realize I wasn’t writing what was selling, and lots of authors do that. Maybe they’re writing fantasy, but they aren’t hitting the tropes. Maybe they’re planning a series, but only have book one released.

It’s obvious the better product you have, the more successful you’ll be. Mark Dawson has professional covers, and he writes in a couple popular series. Plus, he’s a good writer. I think all the big indies who have “made it” can safely assume their writing is good and resonates with readers. If you’re pushing water up hill as Robert J. Ryan likes to say in his book, then you need to take a look at the product, not blame the ads.

I enjoyed the discussion very much, and I hope you look it up if you haven’t. I think one of the key takeaways from the discussion is that everyone agreed they used to work better than they do right now. The market is super saturated, and by some very talented authors. We have to work with what we’ve got, and using other platforms in conjunction with Amazon ads may be the better way to go. All the big indies who joined in the discussion have large email lists and they use ads to bring new readers in, not keep readers from disappearing. That’s an important observation, and one I have taken note of.

Have you found a secret ingredient to make Amazon ads work for you? Let me know!


Impatient readers. A gift or a burden?

You know what I love more than anything in the world? Realizing at 8 pm the night before a blog post is due that I haven’t written it yet! This week has been just a crazy time with some personal issues, a cat that won’t let me sleep, and a maintenance man in our bathroom. I’m exhausted, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t get much done on my book this week. I stalled out around 64k and I need to dig my heels in and get it finished if I want to meet my goal of the middle of December. For the first time in forever I don’t have the next book planned, so I may actually take that break I wrote about 6 books ago. Maybe.

What was interesting this week is a little drama over on the Nora Roberts blog. She released a first in a trilogy (which apparently ended in a cliffhanger) and already her readers are clamoring for the second. The comments on the blog got a little heated, and Nora and her publicist Laura shut it down pretty quickly:

For those of you who can’t read that one of her readers says: NR trilogies used to be published all in one year a month apart. now they are a year apart.
what the heck

Her publicist, Laura, came back with: The trilogies are longer, more complicated books. Nora needs the time to write them.

And Nora herself said: I did the three in three months in paperback trilogies once or twice. That schedule was by no means usual or regular. As it was, doing that cramped my writing schedule and seriously impacted my personal life.

I can’t write that fast!!!

It takes time to write, and it takes a lot of time to write these longer, more complex hardcover trilogies.

It does take time to write. Anyone who has written a book knows that. And the more subplots that are interwoven into the main plot, the more complicated and more time consuming it is. I’ve read several of Nora’s trilogies and she has each book with it’s own plot that gets tied up at the end but also an overarching plot that gets resolved at the end of book three. Those take time to plan.

You can dig through all of the discussion here, if you want.

The discussion upset Nora so much she had to write a blog post about it to, I don’t know. Defend herself, I guess. And in reality, does she have anything to apologize for? She publishes under Nora and her pen name, JD Robb, and her blog post says she write four books a year. That is more than some indies who aren’t under any publishing constraints.

And then Debra has a whole article written about her, and I happened to find her comment going deeper in to The Awakening thread:

Nora’s response is long and available at this article or in The Awakening comment thread I posted the link to earlier in the blog, but I’ll copy and past it here for fun.

Nora: I have personally explained the process to you, Debra. You are not stating facts but opinions. But you continue to contradict me, as you apparently think you know more about publishing than I do, and more than the industry professionals I work with.

FACT: Publishing the trilogy a year apart is not a marketing strategy. 

I haven’t finished writing the second book, and won’t begin to write the third until next fall. 

Your opinion that the publisher should wait a year or two—holding a completed ms, or two —is in fact not how publishing works. 

You’re not commenting, but contradicting and insisting against every fact given you that you’re right and I’m wrong, that Laura’s wrong, that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

Once again, I ask: Do you work in publishing?

If so you’d know that in order to publish a major release in less than 6-8 months means serious added cost—it’s called crashing for a reason.

This is not how the process is intended to work or should.

You can keep insisting you’re right, you know better than I do how publishing works. 

But that won’t turn your opinion into a fact.

The most interesting part though, is Debra’s opinion on the publishing industry:

Debra: Please stop making comments on a blog about the publisher setting release dates according to their timeline and not considering the customer? What is wrong with suggesting that the publisher can alter a release schedule? They can and they do. Many times. Assuming that just because we read Nora’s books we have no idea about anything that a publisher does is insulting. It is a business. It should consider its customer. Without the customer there is no business. This is business 101. I am sorry that you do not want me to state facts. Publishers can and do publish books in less than 6-8 months. Fact. It does not have to affect Nora’s writing time. Fact. A publisher does sit on MS’s when it is prudent or they are waiting for an event before they release. Fact. Publishing trilogies a year apart is simply a marketing strategy. Fact. I am reading the book for a second time. Fact. I will read it again before the next book drops. Fact. That does not mean I cannot comment on the fact that the publisher, that controls the release date, cannot change the release dates. If you do not want people to post facts-do not have a blog open for comments.

Of course, I don’t agree with her going off the rails on Nora Roberts. Nora does what her publisher tells her to do, and that’s it. All Nora cares about is writing a good book, and she does. Four times a year.

But what this does tell me is that Debra reads a lot of small press and indie. Indies and small presses who have a lot more flexibility in their publishing schedules. Indies who write books, save them up, and rapid release them especially so their whale readers can binge an entire series in one sitting. This is definitely a different kind of publishing than what Nora does, and quite honestly, I’m expecting the worlds to collide more frequently as more and more authors turn indie and more and more readers grow aware of that fact.

Debra has forgotten that even though Nora finishes a book she’s put into a queue same as other authors. With cutbacks there are fewer editors who edit the books, and her cover artist isn’t solely working on her book. Indies are in charge of their own editing schedules and buying a premade for a book cover doesn’t have much of a wait time involved.

Where does that leave us? Especially those of us who write romance? When customer demand outweighs supply, that can be a good thing, right? Except when indies try to write ten books a year and get burnt out on reader expectation.

Sometimes the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes she’s a Karen who feels entitled to getting what she wants when she wants it. I’ve seen that behavior more than ever before with COVID and the horrible things some authors have said about KDP (Amazon’s POD service) and IngramSpark. They forget that these call centers and POD printers are run by people. People who may have gotten sick and need to go home and quarantine to get better and prevent others from getting sick. I’ve seen some nasty treatment of workers for the POD companies right now and it’s disheartening. A sick employee doesn’t GAF where your proof is, Karen.

Indies are the same. We get sick. We have to look after sick family members, not just in COVID times, but all the time. Some of us still have day jobs and we write when we can. Some of us write through pain of carpal tunnel or other illnesses like depression. Nora, in a previous blog post some time ago has said she has dental issues and finds herself in a dentist’s chair frequently. Having had a tooth pulled a couple months ago, I can agree that teeth issues are not fun.

I won’t even get into quantity over quality simply because yes, some authors do need time to daydream, take walks, think about their book and where they need it to go, what their characters are telling them. Just because I’m not sitting at my keyboard pounding out letters doesn’t mean I’m not in some capacity writing every single second of my day. And it’s exhausting.

Debra got a lot of flack online for trollsplaining to Nora Roberts, but I’m interested in what she’s saying, even if she could have put it in a nicer way. Indies are spoiling readers. They want what they want, and they get it. And if you sign up for an indie newsletter, you get more than just the books. You get excerpts of coming books, deleted scenes, novellas, just-for-newsletter subscribers short stories and in some cases character art, word searches, crossword puzzles, and coloring pages, exclusive giveaways. It takes a lot these days to keep a reader of indie books happy, and if you don’t believe me, read Debra’s comments again.

So far, I don’t have a readership clamoring for my books, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing. At least, not until I have a Debra trolling my website hounding me for the next book.

What do you think?

Happy Monday everyone! Have a great week!


December! The last month of 2020 to get anything done.

There were a few memes/quotes around this year trying to bolster productivity and motivation like this:

Image found on Google search
Image found on Google search

I would imagine they came from places of good intentions, but really, all they did was make people who weren’t productive more ashamed of themselves. Even in this blog I tried to, maybe not bolster your spirits because I’m a little too blunt for something like that, but I didn’t want you to waste the year away either.

So whether you were able to write a book a month, or you’ve barely been existing, there’s only one more month left of 2020, and you have the chance to make the most of the last four weeks of the year.

What do I have planned for the next four weeks? I’m not calling it quits quite yet, and I have a book to finish up. I’m at 63,000 words, and I would love to write another 20k in the coming two weeks before Christmas. One of my big 2020 goals was to learn a newsletter aggregator, and I even went as far as to set up an email address for this website and to sign up to MailerLite. I haven’t watched any of the tutorials on how to use that product yet, and I do not have a newsletter sign up link yet. I still have four weeks to accomplish this, and I need to so I can put the link the back of this WIP when I publish it. I guess I’m balking because then I have to learn how to use Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin, and while I miss going to school, studying up on those platforms is not something I’m looking forward to. On the other hand, once I learn them I won’t have to do it again.

On Black Friday, Mark Dawson bundled three of his courses and I purchased them, including the one by Suzy K. Quinn on how to write a bestseller that I’d been drooling over for a little while. I don’t have a timeframe on when I want to get those classes done, but I have started Suzy’s course, and it will be very interesting as well. I like studying what goes into a bestseller–what makes books popular. I’m taking almost a scientific outlook to that course, picking apart the elements of a bestseller. Always keep learning. You never know what will help you later.

I’ll keep up writing this blog through the month of December (I’ve already seen some 2020 recaps, but I’m not there yet). I rarely go on Twitter after I announced my break, and I don’t miss it. I miss a couple of friends on there and in 2021 I may start a new and more intimate account. I’ll lose big followers like Jane Friedman, Lindsay Buroker, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, and Robin Cutler among others whom I have gotten to know over the past five years. Or I may just leave it alone as Twitter wasn’t giving me anything constructive anyway.

I did try to stay motivated during 2020, but like everyone else, I went through some rough patches. Not that my life changed all that much. I’m an essential worker, which means I never had to worry about my job or where rent was coming from. My only change there has been being able to work from home, an option that hadn’t ever been available to us before. I’m surprised by how much I like it, but it could have something to do with the cat company on my desk.

This was my favorite meme to come out of quarantine.

My sister and I used to have Tuesday movie night, but we had to change it up and we watched the Marvel Universe movies in order because I had never seen them before. That turned into a regular Sunday thing and it kept us occupied for a few months.

I’m decorated for Christmas and my cat loves to sleep under the tree:

This post does sound like a recap after all, but I’ll go into all my highs and lows at the end of the month.

There are four weeks of 2020 left. I’m going to make them count, and I hope you do too!


eBookSoda Promotion. Worth Your Money?

Image taken from website

Marketing your book feels harder than actually writing the silly thing, and we’re all looking for inexpensive but effective ways to promote our books. I tried eBookSoda last week, hoping to promote His Frozen Heart because of the holiday season. Amazon is turning my ads down now because of their “suggestive pose” and I’m not going to swap out covers just to appease the Zon. I have to keep reader expectations in mind, and them showing a little skin clues readers in this is going to be a steamy read. Amazon tightening up their creative guidelines has more than just me in a pinch, and we’re all searching for ways to replace the ad platform.

Anyway, so while listening to a podcast, the interviewee, Sara Rosett, reminded me of the promotional site and I recalled they weren’t that expensive. For $29.00 you can buy a spot in their reader newsletter and get your book in front of new readers. Similar to eReader News Today, or Free- and BargainBooksy, this is a one-time fee for a one-time promotion.

Maybe in the case of promotions the saying, “You get what you pay for,” is accurate. eBookSoda didn’t do much for me.

Besides lack of sales, the biggest problem I had is they didn’t proofread my ad. This is totally my fault and take responsibility. I should have been more careful with my ad when I created it, but they didn’t proofread it, either, and this is the ad that showed up in the newsletter:

I know the title of the book is my fault–I’ve done this in the past, especially when typing quickly creating ads in the Amazon Ads platform. But I was saddened to see that they didn’t fix it when creating the newsletter. This is a good lesson to proof your own work, but if you expect eBookSoda to also proofread for you, don’t count on it.

As far as sales go, I only sold three books on the day it came out, and nothing afterward. Usually I get a good bump in KU reads when I do a promo, but I didn’t get that either.

You can see from the photos that on the day of the promo, I made $1.28, and the next day $1.41. I didn’t get a bump in KU reads, and those royalties are from a book set at $.99. Overall, for the month of November, I’ve made $12.33 for the first in my series, which definitely is not something to brag about. I don’t have any Amazon ads going right now, mainly because the ones I’ve submitted have been rejected by the AMS team. I was hoping turning to paid promos instead of ads would bolster sales, but it did not.

One of the few pros to the promo site is that there were only two other books with mine in the newsletter sent out that day. When you purchase a FreeBooksy or BargainBooksy through Written Word Media, your book is grouped with several, and it’s up to your book cover and ad copy to really hook a reader into clicking because there is much more to choose from.

I don’t know if eBookSoda’s claims are true–that they can reach 26,000 readers–but I didn’t go for the extras you can pay for with your promo: Twitter and Facebook. They ask if your cover is explicit to not choose the Facebook promo option, and I didn’t because I assumed they wouldn’t like my cover and didn’t want to give eBookSoda a hard time. Possibly if I had been able to choose the Twitter and Facebook ad-ons ($9.00/each) I could have had a more successful promo, or I could have spent another $18.00 on nothing.

At any rate, I won’t be trying eBookSoda again, and I will save my dollars for other promo sites even if they may be a little more expensive.


As for my Amazon ads, I’m up $30.00 total for the month, but I have paused a few of my ads because they are spending more than they are making. Mostly I’ve been writing my next book, and for now I’m going to give up on pushing these books for the holiday season. Since I’m veering off in a new direction, I’m not sure how much time and money I want to invest in my 3rd person past novels anyway. I’m getting really bummed out Amazon is giving me a hard time with my covers, and I’m thinking about going wide with them and just kind of letting them go. I’m not giving up on them, exactly, but I may have found everyone in KU I’m going to find and perhaps wide now would be a better fit. I do remember I had some kind of weird anxiety with my books on other platforms, and I’m not sure what brought that on but it’s worth remembering. There’s something comforting about having all my books just in one place, but having all your eggs in one basket can also be anxiety-inducing for others.

There’s no one answer, unfortunately, and I don’t have a clear path for what I want to do in 2021.

When I try another promo site, I will let you know! Until then, have a wonderful conclusion to 2020, and I will talk to you again soon!

Until next time!


Getting Stuck and Losing Momentum with your Novel: What you can do to get moving again.

All of us go through slumps. It’s difficult to be creative when we’re stressed out and worried about things. I’ve heard a lot of stories on how writers just have not been able to get the words flowing since COVID. I can’t say as I blame anyone. If you don’t know where your rent is going to come from because you’ve been laid off and the government has stopped the extra funds from coming in, I wouldn’t be able to think about my next project either.

I’ve been stuck working on my book the past few days. I haven’t wanted to work on it, would rather binge Lucifer. But the problem with that is, I enjoy writing, and I also think of my books as a business. If I go through a slump, so does my business. My books aren’t great earners right now. Without any type of ads whatsoever, my books make pennies a day, but I’m definitely not going to make any money on books I don’t write.

My slump, fortunately, has nothing to do with COVID. If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know that I just came up for air after writing six books back to back. I started last year, in December of 2019, and finished them up about two weeks ago. I’m letting them breathe now, which is why I’m starting a different project. Almost 40k into it, I haven’t felt as excited or connected to this book as I have past projects. Wondering why, I came up with this list. If you’re having a problem with connecting your book and your characters give these ideas a try:

Get to know your characters again. When I started writing I only had a shadow of an idea who my characters are. When thinking up a new story, writers will come up with plot first, then characters, or characters, then plot. I try to think of both of them together. The characters, who they are and what they want, drives the plot. I didn’t plan out who they are as carefully as I usually do, and I need to go back over my character notes and familiarize myself with who they are as people. This would maybe be a good time to try to create an aesthetic and dig through stock photos to find models that would remind me of what my characters look like.

Remind yourself of the stakes. Sometimes if you’re struggling with a story, it helps to remind yourself what the stakes are. What do your characters want? How are they going to get it? And what is standing in their way? I write romance, so the characters want each other. But what is standing in their way? A lot of time it’s their own personal demons that prevent them from needing who they need to be to take what they want. It’s no different in my current WIP. Colt’s father abandoned them to live a life Colt doesn’t approve of. Ever since then he’s worked his butt off for what he wants. What he wants prevents him from seeing what he NEEDS. So going over what you have and reminding yourself what the stakes are and what is standing in their way if they can’t have it will help keep your story moving.

Keep your head in the game. Lately because I haven’t felt like writing, I’ve been binge-watching Lucifer on Netflix. It takes a lot to hold my attention (I can list a million TV shows I’ve stopped watching because I got bored) but so far Lucifer has kept me entertained. I suppose it helps that Tom Ellis is hot, and his accent is hotter. The only problem is, when I did take a break from watching Lucifer to write, it wasn’t an accident then that my character started to sound like him. Lucifer is catty, and my character, Colt Jameson, isn’t. So it felt very out of character for him to sound snarky after I watched five episodes of Lucifer. I know lots of people can watch and read books while writing their own work, and I never had a problem with doing that either. But this time around because I don’t know my characters very well, it was easy for me to turn them into people they aren’t supposed to be. That gave me a feeling of disconnect from my book, and in turn that made me wonder if what I’m writing is even any good.

After reacquainting yourself with your characters, reread what you have. It probably won’t be as bad as it seems, and if it is, take a very deep dive into your characters’ personalities and fix it. Whatever your views on editing during writing are, I know that if I don’t feel good about what I’ve written, I can’t write more. I do not like to rewrite. My first drafts, besides minor changes and proofreading, are usually my final drafts when it comes to story/plot, at least. I don’t have GREAT IDEAS I need to implement after my book is done. I don’t think, “THIS STORY WOULD SOUND SO MUCH BETTER IF THE ENDING WENT LIKE THIS!” No, no, and no. I write it how I like the first time around and then, the end. So I can go back and read what I have so far and reshape some of the scenes when the characters don’t sound like themselves, or if they sound like they have forgotten their own stakes.

Don’t worry about word count. This is a major one for me because I’m worried about word count the minute I open a new Word docx. Anyone will tell you that’s a terrible way to write, and I don’t make up scenes to reach a certain goal (and have never needed to). But for some reason I need my manuscripts to fall into the range of about 70-90,000 words. I always worried more when writing third person, and it seemed harder to reach that 70,000 word mark. First person is a lot easier to reach that 70k mark and my six books in my billionaire series, they all fell between 84,000 and 90,000 words. It is a terrible habit of mine to worry. And I shouldn’t. My WIP right now is at 39k, at least half of what this book will turn out to be, and I know every plot thread that needs to be wrapped up before the end.

I didn’t take a long enough break. Six books is a lot. The plot just came to me out of nowhere, and I wrote those books as fast as I could. They consumed me for almost a year, and all I did was live, breathe, and dream about Stella, Zane, Zarah and Gage. They were my entire world for a long time and the minute I finished the first set of edits on those books, I jumped into Colt and Elayna. I started a new project to let those other books breathe and I want to edit them again with fresh eyes in a few months. I should have taken more of a break. Taken some time to read a few books, or go for walks, since the weather right now is actually quite lovely. But I jumped in because it’s not my nature to take a break, and now with that disconnect I described, I am feeling a bit burnt out.

Remember why you started. This sounds trite, but we all started writing for the sheer love of writing. I love to write, to tell my characters’ stories. We can get so swept up in the money, the marketing, our sales rank, what are ads are doing, the newest and best promo sites, and newsletter building that we forget it’s about telling a fabulous story! I want to tell Colt and Elayna’s story. I want them to find their HEA. That’s why I wanted to be a romance writer. I want my characters and their readers to fall in love again and again and again. My characters are my friends and I want to enjoy them.

So what I’m going to do is remember who my characters are and what their stakes are. What is the end game. I don’t have the ending scene in mind yet, and I should figure that out to give me something to write toward. Like I said, I know everything that needs to be included to wrap things up, it’s just a matter of getting it all down on paper. This book also has series potential, and I’ll need to figure that out before I publish if I want to keep going. Elayna’s suitors should each find their own happily ever after, but that would require at least four more books. Since I’ve already created this world, it would make sense to keep going, but that is a blog post for another time.

Do you ever lose momentum? How do you find it? Let me know!


Giving your novel a title

Out of anything publishing a book can throw at you, I find titling your novel the most important and the most nerve-wracking. Considering I have a book named On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton, there’s evidence that I have failed miserably. It sounds like an address for a hooker meetup. Of course, it being my very first novel I ever published, there’s a lot more wrong with it than just the title.

I think the wrong title can hurt a book, mainly through sales if your potential reader can’t lift the genre or form some kind of expectation from it.

Though the book sells okay, I don’t think the title of All of Nothing helps it any. People and search engines ask if I mean All or Nothing, which how the phrase is supposed to go. No one knows, or probably cares, that I named that book after a song from The Birthday Massacre that I listened to relentlessly while writing the book. It fits, kind of, but could the title have been a little more title-to-market? Absolutely.

Naming my small town wedding series could have driven me toward a bender, and by the time I settled on the names for the four books, I never wanted to see them again. That’s a dangerous attitude, because I’ll be marketing these books for the rest of my life. Not seeing them again isn’t an option.

Coincidentally, the other day I was listening to the Wish I’d Known Then Podcast with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett and they had guest Robin Cutler on for an interview. Robin’s been the director of the POD part of IngramSpark for a while, and they asked her what she feels is the biggest mistake indies make. She said their book title. With everything that goes into publishing a book, it surprised me a bit that she said that, but then, on the other hand, a title is pretty important, and maybe authors are stymied by it just as much as I am.

I’m sure many of you have come across a book’s title and wondered what in the heck was going on with that author when they named their book. Just for fun I pulled a couple of books from a book promotions Facebook group. I’m not invading anyone’s privacy as that group is open to the public and this is a promotion of sorts. But I scroll through that group every so often and it’s evident that the authors weren’t thinking about marketing, branding, or overall reader impressions when naming their book.

It’s too bad those titles don’t do a good job of representing what’s inside. Some of those covers are nice and the authors put a little time in, or at least put out the money for a premade. But if you happened upon any of those, would you know what you’d be getting? Especially those couple whose covers don’t hit the mark, either? The only one I hesitated including was Perfekt Match. Obviously that book is about some sort of magick, hence the spelling. But I don’t know what there is to be gained by making a play with the spelling like that. To me, it makes the word look wonky, and if that’s the way the author spells it in the book itself, I wouldn’t put up with it long.

Now that I’m doing a rebranding of sorts in 2021 with 7 new releases, I’m going to be a lot more careful when naming my books. The titles need to match genre, content, cover, and blurb. This goes along with what Suzy K Quinn says in her interview with Joanna Penn. She says while you write your book, or even before that as you plan it (genre, tropes, if it will be a series, etc) if you can look at your book as a whole package, marketing that book will be a lot easier after it’s published. I’ve heard a lot of authors say they didn’t have a plan for their book before writing it, only after did they worry about audience and then they struggle to find a place for it with categories, sub-genres, and genres. It’s tough. It’s like being at a party and winning the white elephant gift. What’s inside? And do you really want it?

Titles are a pain but FB groups such as the Indie Cover Project are great for asking for opinions. Sometimes you have to have a thick skin–sometimes there isn’t a lot of handholding in groups like that, but when I was feeling out a title for the book I’m working on right now, they were very helpful.

The book I’m writing is a standalone and the premise goes something like this:

To earn fifty percent of the company he helped build, Colt Jameson needs to find a husband for his boss’s daughter and is given a short list of acceptable candidates. He turns bitter when he realizes he’s not on the list. Elayna Carmichael is beautiful, frivolous, and an alcoholic. He has no intention of falling in love–even if they were childhood best friends.

Billionaire heiress Elayna Carmichael pretends to be a lush to anonymously volunteer at a women’s shelter. She’s been in love with Colt Jameson all her life. He’s a workaholic and she knows he would never loosen up to be with her.

When not one, but all of the candidates agree to marry Elayna, Colt will have to decide if his half of her father’s company means more to him than finding love and claiming her for himself.

I’m no good at writing blurbs–it takes me forever, but this is just a quick synopsis. Of course the book has more to it than just that–lots of backstory and damaged characters are my forte, but this will suffice. It’s not a funny book. I can’t write humor, and I’ll never try. So when coming up with a title, I was thinking something like The Husband List. I workshopped that, and the general consensus is that it sounds like a romcom.

The vector cover still popular these days and I would maybe go for that rather than real people. I would just expect to have to refresh the cover after a couple years if it falls out of style.

So possibly I could go for The Husband Contract. The title feels a little more weighty, not so funny and sweet. And of course, you want to look at what’s selling in the genre, so looking up Billionaire romance, this is the top ten right now:

It looks like we have some very serious men in suits–which looks to be exactly what I need for my serious/dark billionaire romance.

If you’re like me, you can play all day and as long as it’s clean and you have a guy in a suit (and maybe a city in the background for extra points) a cover won’t take long.

They give off a crisp look that I’ve admired on Willow Winters’ book covers.

I may not go with that with the title at all. I don’t want to mislead my readers and usually with this kind of title, the contract would be between the characters, not the female MC and other men. I suppose it would depend on how well I write my blurb.

I’m only 32,000 words into this, about a third of the way through, so I have plenty of time. But this rebranding is important. I feel like while the past four years haven’t been a waste or a mistake, I finally know what to do to start my writing career on the right track. I’m choosing this standalone to publish first because by the time it’s ready, a year will have gone by, and I need to dip my toes back into the publishing waters. Plus, I’ll put the link to my newsletter in the back and maybe I can get a few organic sign ups while I edit and format my series I’ll release later next year.

Anyway, I’ll keep experimenting and thinking and see what I come up with. A lot of times I’ll think of a concept and then end up publishing a completely different idea. It’s fun to play.

What is the hardest part for you? Title? Cover? Blurb? Let me know!

**Some photos were taken from the Canva Pro collection. Some were taken from DepositPhotos.com. If I like a stock photo found in Canva, I look for the version in Deposit Photos and download it with one of my photo packs I purchased through AppSumo around Christmas last year. I never use a photo that I haven’t paid for.

Fonts are either from Canva Pro or my own personal collection I have purchased through PIxelo or Mightydeals. I also find some free for commercial use fonts here.


Catching up with what I’m doing and Bits and Pieces of Publishing News.

Lately my blog posts have been a hodgepodge of little things to make up a whole post. It’s tough when you don’t have a lot going on, and sometimes I feel like my blog posts are the blind leading the blind. I don’t have much to offer in way of advice, particularly because I haven’t found anything that is working for me sales-wise.

Anyway, like everyone else, I’m glad the election is over, though I”m sure we’re far from finding peace. Hopefully that won’t deter readers from reading like it has over the past few weeks. I can’t tell you the number of authors who have complained about sinking sales. It is what it is. I’m in the hole with my ads this month and I paused all of them and created a few new ones to target holiday romance for my series. What’s really nice is that Amazon now lets you run ads to your series page which allows a reader to pick up all the books with one click.

We’ll see how that goes. I haven’t done the math to look at read-through for all my books, but I can do that now, out of curiosity. The last book was published in May of this year, so I only have five month’s of data too interpret. Using the read-through instructions and formula by Malorie Cooper on Dave Chesson’s Kindlepreneur website, read-through is dividing the copies of the second book sold by the copies of the first book sold. You have to do a little math if you’re in KU.

Remember, the number of KU pages read divided by the number of KENPC pages in your book will tell you how many books those page reads equal to.

Doing the math, I have sold 214 of the first book in my series between June 1st 2020 and October 31st. That total includes both sales and KU pages read.

I have sold 97 books (together with sales and KU pages read) of book two.

That’s a read-through of 40%. 40% of my readers who read book one went on to read book two.

A profitable series will have a strong read-through for all the books, and we can calculate read-through of book two to three doing the same math:

Book two’s sales and KU page reads was 97 books. Book three has a total of 76 books sold. (Together with sales and KU reads.) That makes read-through (76/97=) 78%

And read-through from book 3 to book 4 using all the same formulas: 88% read-through. Meaning 88% of people who read book three will finish the series and read book four.

According to Mal Cooper, my 40% read-through from book one to book two could indicate a problem. I already know from reviews that the reception of my male main character is lacklustre at best. As I’ve said in the past, a physically damaged character is neither sexy nor romantic. Besides trying to market the book as a beauty and the beast retelling, there’s not much I can really do. His injuries make the whole book. It’s nothing I can go and change to encourage read-through. My sales from book one to two will just have to be a lesson in the future. It’s also a reminder if you’re going to invest time in a series, you need to hit it out of the park or the other books won’t matter. Your book one won’t be good enough to entice readers to read them.

I will keep an eye on my ads, make sure they stay profitable. With the holiday season approaching, if I can grab a couple sales and come out ahead, it will be worth advertising.


photo taken from their website

In other news, IngramSpark has decided to give ISBNs away if you publish through them, like Kindle Direct Publishing has done all along. The only problem with that is if you publish on Amazon and use their free ISBNs, you can’t turn around and use those on Ingram. Then you take the free ISBNs from Ingram and all of a sudden your book is listed under many numbers, and that doesn’t sound good to me.

I realize buying ISBNs in the States is a big pain, not to mention very costly, but when people say you need to invest in your business, this is what they’re talking about. You need to protect your work. I buy my ISBNs from Bowker and use the same paperback ISBN on both Amazon and Ingram. That way my paperback is listed under one number. The one I paid for that belongs to me. That’s important to me. I also use an ISBN number for each of my ebooks. Some will say that’s a waste of money because Amazon will assign your book to an ASIN number, but then if you’re wide, you can’t use that ASIN number as that belongs in only Amazon’s system. So there again, you have different identifying numbers for every ebook platform you publish on.

There is has been argument in the past that you can’t use the same ISBN number for a .MOBI file and an ePub because they are different formats. Then you have people who say that a digital file is a digital file. When I went wide, I used the same ISBN number for my ebooks across all platforms and nothing bad happened. I can’t imagine this would even be an issue now that Amazon asks you to upload an ePub to their platform instead of a .MOBI file.

You can have Ingram distribute to Amazon, but I’ve heard of people having trouble with their books being available (listed “out of stock” instead) and you don’t have access to your KDP dashboard and you can’t run ads if Ingram supplies your books to KDP. It’s always better to go direct where you can. It might take a little hassle, but then, we went indie to stay in control, didn’t we?


I’m 20k into my new project, about a man tasked to finding a husband for his boss’s daughter in exchange for a portion of the company he helped build. It’s going well, though I feel like no matter how much planning I’ve done with this book, I’m pantsing it. Maybe I’m just tired or maybe I’m still not used to writing in first person present, but it’s coming along, and if I keep up the slightly faster pace than a NaNo participant, I should be done with it by the end of the month. We’ll have to see if that happens. I have a lot coming up in the next couple of weeks, namely a longer work schedule, Thanksgiving, a couple of birthdays and possible jury duty. I write when I can, though, so if not by the end of the month, by the middle of December, for sure. Here’s a sneak peak of a sliver of a scene I wrote the other day. There is potential for spin-off books, but I still have my 6 book series I need to polish to release next year. I’m grateful there is so much to write about.

Man in suit leaning against a grey stone wall. Text:
I meet his eyes. They’re hard, bits of frosted green glass. “We’re beyond that now, don’t you think?”

We aren’t talking about sex, we aren’t talking about love. We’re back to his fucking fifty percent and what he’ll do to get it.

“I—”

“I’ll fulfill my end of Dad’s bargain. Sit back and collect.”

He nods, turns to go.

“Don’t come back, Colt. There’s nothing between us anymore.”

“Don’t fool yourself, Elayna. There never was.”
created with Canva Pro. Photo purchased on depositphotos.com

That’s going to be all for today! I hope you have a productive week! Good luck to those participating in NaNo!

Thursday Musings: Working from home, new processes, and a new book!

Happy Thursday, everyone! We are all on pins and needles waiting for the election results. No matter who you voted for, I hope our president can make 2021 a great year for all of us!


Last week I finished another round of edits for my King’s Crossing Billionaire Series. I wish I could afford to send them off to an editor and wash my hands of them (except for putting in the edits afterward, of course) but I have no idea how a prolific author can afford an editor, even paying for simple proofreading, if the money isn’t coming in yet. I’ve snooped around for pricing, but man. Editors charge a lot. I totally get that, but scraping up the money for project after project, I don’t get how indies can afford it. I mean sure, I understand that eventually you’re going to make money, but if you’re not quite doing that yet, it’s tough to afford editing. Everyone says it’s an investment, and it really is, but you shouldn’t have to choose between putting out a quality book and paying for food. It’s tough. So I’ll be taking a break from those 6 books and come back to them after the New Year with fresh eyes. I”ll listen to them and make more changes and then go ahead and put them out.

Until then, I’ve started a standalone in first person present POV about a man who is tasked to marrying off his boss’s daughter for a share in his boss’s company. He falls in love with her instead, naturally, forfeiting his share of the company for love. Tentatively titled The Contract, it was supposed to be a reader magnet for my newsletter I wanted to get up and going this year. I’m 12,000 words into it already, (I started it Monday of this week) have most of the book outlined, and to be honest, I don’t want to give it away. I think it would be a great first book under my new name for the first person books I’m going to start writing. (I still go back and forth with what that will be. Some derivative of my real name is all I know.) This leaves me in a real jam because I should have my newsletter set up for the back matter of The Contract. I don’t need a reader magnet for organic signups like that, but I should have something which means writing something else in the near future. I just need something simple that will be a novella-length book that I won’t feel bad about giving away. Maybe I can pull something out of a plot generator and take six days to write 30,000 words of…something.


My new project would qualify me to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ve never needed the motivation to write quickly. I enjoy the work for what it is, and have enough support on Facebook in some of my groups. I don’t know how long The Contract will turn out to be, but it would be nice if I could hit the 80,000 word mark or so. We’ll see. I always stress about word count–it seems it’s part of my process.

Speaking of processes, starting a new project while working from home is different. When I used to go to work, I only had a notebook and pen, and being I was attached to my call station, I didn’t have any distractions. Working from home is a lot different environment, and sitting with a pad and pen here feels weird. I still need to outline–I’ll never be a good pantser. I need to know where the story is going or I would never be able to write as fast as I do. But not going into work doesn’t give me the downtime that was forced upon me, and I have to actively make time to daydream about my characters, brainstorm plots, and generally imagine the pieces of my book to put them together on paper. It’s definitely a new way of doing things.


I’ve had to pause all my ads because I’m eight dollars in the hole already this month. It would be nice if I could keep my series moving as it’s a winter wedding setting and takes place a couple weeks before Christmas, but this is a bad time of year and I don’t want to pump money into ads if no one is the mood to read. I see lots of that in my FB groups now–how everyone’s ads are dead, no one is buying and is there anything they can do? The answer is no. If there’s no demand, there’s no need for product. If people are worried about the election results, stressing if it’s safe to gather for Thanksgiving, and if the answer is yes, then doing the grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, and whatever else people are busy with this time of year, you can’t make them sit down and read your book. You’re better off forgetting ad maintenance for now and writing something new so you have a new release set up for when all this craziness is over. I know it’s a different story when you depend on your royalties, and I’m not there yet. But spending time tinkering with ads, trying to get them to deliver impressions and clicks is a waste of time.


That’s all I have for you on this Thursday’s author musings. I’m excited to be writing something fresh, and I don’t think it will take me long to get this book done. Hopefully I’m looking at a February release, and then over next spring and summer I can get my 6 book series out. I’m not so down in the dumps as I was a couple of blog posts ago. Life happens, and all you can do is roll with it.

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!