Author Interview: Nina Romano

I got to know Nina on Twitter, and when she asked if I would interview her for my blog, I was all in! I’m so excited to share this interview with you! I hope you find something valuable in the interview I did with Nina. Thanks for reading!


You’ve been writing and publishing for many years. Do you have any advice for an author just starting out?

When I was starting to publish, I used to submit poems and short stories, nonfiction pieces every Friday. That was the day of the week I stopped writing and did the “business” end of writing. So pick a day to submit and make sure you send your writing out somewhere. This also can be a query to an agent, editor, or small publisher.

How do you keep the energy and momentum going over such a long period of time?

Each writing project brings with it a different set of problems to solve and research to be done because I mostly write historical fiction. It’s these various unresolved complications that spark interest.

I must say, I read a great deal of fiction, and when I read a well-executed novel, this, too, will boost my momentum and energy. With each new novel I write, I try to obtain a higher level of commitment to the piece in hopes that it’ll be more unique and render a better one than my last. I’m not in competition with anyone but Nina Romano.

We always say writing and publishing is a marathon, not a sprint, but what does that mean to you?

It’s the long haul dedication to excel, and with everything I write, I find challenges which in the short term equal the sprint and might be accomplished rather quickly. However, it’s the persistence to meet each task with the accrued knowledge from past experiences which aid in finalizing a new more difficult piece of writing. I never make it easy on myself—what would be the purpose of that?

Your books have won various awards, and I think that’s something a lot of authors, indie and traditionally published, hope for. Congratulations! I think what every author would like to know, myself included, is does winning an award help with sales, or do you find it’s a personal achievement?

Thank you, Vania. I can’t really say that winning awards or making it to a finalist category in a contest helps with marketing books. I can attest to one thing—it’s a lovely satisfaction to know you have a winner or at least a mighty strong contender. It gives you confidence to continue to attempt achieving a degree of excellence. 

You can’t win a race if you don’t participate—I think some authors are either afraid to put themselves out there for contests or perhaps it’s another issue—these contests are expensive, and that may be a super drawback to many fine authors. (My note: Poets and Writers has a great list of contests and you can look at it here.)

I’ll bet there are many people writing today who just want to write—uncaring of prizes, awards, commendations. But the world we live in doesn’t afford us the luxury to do just that. It’s a competitive world, so we must endeavor, struggle, and strive to do our best. A finalist or first place win in a particular category is merely someone’s pat on the back saying, you’ve succeeded. But it’s a lovely accomplishment and we must celebrate all the accolades we can garner. It especially helps to remember these on a dark day when you receive a negative review! 

You are published by various publishing houses and presses. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into submitting and them ultimately publishing your books?

This is a loaded question—I could write an entire thesis on it. At one point I had an agent.  To secure that agent I wrote eighty-four query letters.  We went our separate ways, but I always knew I wanted a traditional publisher. For years, every Friday I would send out poems, short stories, nonfictions pieces, articles, blogs, parts of novels to literary journals, small magazines, and blog sites—in print and online. It’s relatively easy to publish individual poems and stories.  When I had enough poems and a theme, I put them together and made collections—how?  I began to write poems or revise them to fit the theme, which I then submitted to publishers. I did the same with stories. I submitted five poetry collections and one story collection to small, independent publishers, and they were accepted and published.

When it came to novels, I did things differently. Some of my novels grew out of short stories that I had published. I took back the novel, Lemon Blossoms, from the agent, and it became the second book of my Wayfarer Trilogy. I worked backwards and wrote the prequel to that novel: The Secret Language of Women. It took me nine years to get that manuscript into the shape I wanted. I then submitted the manuscript to three small, independent, traditional publishers. I received a letter after a week from Turner Publishing saying they wanted to publish the book. I then sent them Lemon Blossoms, which was accepted, and I was under contract with them to write the third book of the trilogy, In America, which was a great challenge because I had to do it in one year.

Can you give our readers any tips on successfully submitting a manuscript?

Make sure the manuscript is in the best possible shape it can be before submitting—that means completely edited and flawless with regards to research. I had many readers for all of my books—some critiqued for me and others only read. You can never have too many pairs of eyes on a manuscript before you decide to submit it. If a writer doesn’t have good readers, they should pay a professional editor.

Never assume or think that because an editor or a publisher asks for a partial or the entire novel that it will be accepted.  It’s an exhilarating feeling, but by no means is it the gold ring on the carousel ride. At one time, I had eight agents reading one of my novels—not one took me as their client.

Don’t get discouraged. I could paper all the walls of an entire bathroom suite with rejections.  A rejection is only one person’s subjective opinion.  Read the rejection for any positive points to see if you can correct a flaw in the writing. Then, repackage the piece and submit it elsewhere.

I was told years ago that you have to have twelve to twenty submissions circulating in order to get picked up. Never waste time waiting for a single response from an agent or publisher.  SEND! SUBMIT! REPACKAGE! MAIL OUT! And keep on doing it till someone sees the kernel of gold in your writing.

I am by nature a tenacious individual. I worked hard in school, but never quit and have four university degrees to prove it. I worked hard at writing and never quit, and that’s what every writer who wants to publish should do: work hard. Today, things are easy—you can self-publish.  Amazon has a plethora of self-published books. Do they have merit? I can’t guarantee that. The old saying is: “Everyone has a story,” but that doesn’t mean everyone can write a story. My mentor John Dufresne used to say—if you can do or be anything else but to be a writer—do it. I took many writing workshops and seminars, attended numerous writing conferences, readings, author presentations and writing panel discussions. Writing is hard and not all succeed at it.  But what is success, anyway?

Success for me is the thrill of someone reading one my novels. I’m doubly thrilled if it had for the reader an aspect of universality and hit a core with them and they wrote a positive review. My books haven’t made the BEST SELLERS list of the NY Times and they may never. Are the books of intrinsic value? Do they merit being translated into other languages—I believe so. Are they novels I’m proud to say that I’ve penned? You bet they are! And are they books that could be turned into a screenplay and be made into a movie? Yes, if someone with inclination and imagination decided to, that’s also a possibility. Writing abounds in a world of possibilities—it’s what you make of it. So my advice is this: persevere. Be persistent. Never give in or give up.

There is so much that goes into writing, publishing, and marketing. What do you find to be the most challenging?

Marketing. Without a doubt. You can spend a fortune on a publicist—which I did and it didn’t pay off! I lost the advance payment of two novels! I say: don’t bother. You can take out advertisements that are costly but won’t be worth it—in fact, you can lose your knickers and won’t even break even. You can spend hours on social media and it’ll amount to the same thing—zero sales. And what’s worse it’ll be time taken away from your writing, or finding other ways to sell books.

What works? Word of mouth! And for me, personal contact with people almost always pays off. I’ve taught seminars and workshops at writing conferences, attended book fairs, given readings, presentations, and appeared on panel discussions. For me to garner sales is when I have a connection with people.  Put me in front of an audience, a classroom full of eager future writers, or a group of readers and something clicks—I’m a people person and I don’t have an introverted bone in my body. 

You’re re-releasing The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. Can you tell us why you decided to make changes and if someone is thinking to re-release a book what they can expect and what to look out for?

I had originally wanted to publish this book with my new publisher Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Unfortunately, their acceptance came right after I’d already signed a contract with a small, independent publisher. The contract ran for three years and then I had the option of taking back the rights, which I did.  I resubmitted the manuscript to SV. Why did I do it?  The first publisher only wanted one book, whereas Speaking Volumes wanted a trilogy. In my mind, that’s a no brainer! Done deal!

But that’s my experience.  Everyone else will have a different spin on why they would switch publishers, or re-write and release a book. I did a great many edits on this book, but it happens that sometimes when you fix something, another problem will arise. I hope the end product will be a finer one then was first published.  I know one thing for absolute positive certain—the cover is a knockout and I’m hoping that readers will think the material contained therein is also!

What a gorgeous cover!

I try to tailor my questions to the authors I’m interviewing, and I noticed you have given quite a few interviews! Can you give our readers any tips on approaching a blog or website and asking them to promote you and your novels?

I have been asked to write guest blogs and do many interviews, which are always fun and help give an author visibility. Some even help promote books, and although I’d like to say that sales improve, there are never any guarantees.

I’ve even approached people directly, like this interview with you, Vania. I asked you if you’d be interested in interviewing me. My advice is be polite and straightforward, and don’t take a “no” personally. If the answer is negative—just try someone else.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to the conversation before we wrap up?

I want to thank you, Vania, for these provocative questions and your valuable time. I very much enjoy talking about writing and books—so this was a great pleasure. My hope is that a writer who reads these questions and answers gains some personal insight they can put to good, practical use.


Thank you, Nina! That was amazing! I’m sure everyone who reads this will find something useful that they can use for their own writing and publishing careers. I love it when we can support and help each other!


Read on for Nina’s author bio and all her social media links:

Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. A world traveler and lover of history, she lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has taught English and Literature as an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University, Miami, and has facilitated numerous Creative Writing and Poetry Workshops at Writing Conferences throughout the States.

Romano has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has had five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks published traditionally with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World, and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.

Her Western Historical Romance, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards.

Her novel, Dark Eyes, an historical thriller set in Soviet Russia, is forthcoming in 2022 from Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Amazon Author: https://amzn.to/2SUamoF

The following three books are in hard cover, softcover print, and Kindle:
Amazon: The Secret Language of Women https://amzn.to/2MQZpNC
Amazon: Lemon Blossoms https://amzn.to/2TWqzYt
Amazon: In America https://amzn.to/2Hl2VzT

The following book is available in softcover print and Kindle:
Amazon: The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645405397
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-girl-who-loved-cayo-bradley-nina-romano/1130663914?ean=2940161021804

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3vCJ871

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ninsthewriter
@ninsthewriter

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2BFi38l

BookBub.com: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nina-romano

Thursday Thoughts: Keeping up with content and where I’m at right now.

Hello, May! I can’t believe how fast 2021 is going. Spring is right around the corner, though in Minnesota, it’s always been a little iffy when it will come and whether or not it will stick. We didn’t have a terrible winter at all, and due to some unusually warm temperatures in March, our snow disappeared a long time ago. I’ll probably do a little spring cleaning and put in a work order for a few things I need done around my apartment. While I don’t have many exciting things planned for summer, I’ve always enjoyed the lazy feel of the longer days. Do you have any plans for the summer?


Writing a blog post ahead of time requires to me to look into the future, or at least, aim to achieve the goals I say I’ve met so my posts don’t require too much editing the night before when I proofread one last time before the blog goes live. I was hoping to be done with my third book of the year (I’m at 63k, but sadly I’ve been so tired lately I spend a lot of my free time sleeping) and I am fighting a bit of quality vs. quantity, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt a lot of writers face when things are going too well. A lot of the argument comes from quality of the fiction, and something deeper, something with a few more twists and turns or a few more chapters of character development, may need a little extra time in the oven before the timer goes off. I’ve never been one not to be completely honest with what I read and write. I read and write romance. Characters have their flaws, they move past them to find a happily ever after. That’s all I’ve ever written and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to write. It doesn’t cheapen the work–it can’t or any adult writing YA, Middle Grade, and children’s books would be set aside and not considered “real writers.” Maybe no matter what one chooses to write, it’s always going to be a personal thing as to how long a book will take from start to finish, but the phrase “If writing is easy you’re doing it wrong” is always in the back of my mind after a successful writing day.

Graphic taken from positivewriter.com/printable-quote-posters-on-writing-and-creativity/

I won’t know if my books resonate with readers until the feedback starts coming in. That’s all anyone can use to gauge their skills, I guess. Can you sell your work or not? If it’s not worth the money, the consumer won’t buy, no matter how pretty your cover is or how well-written your blurb is. Simple as that.

I’m still waiting on my beta reader to get back to me with what she thinks of my first 1st person present standalone I’ll be publishing this year. In the meantime I have plenty to keep me busy. I just can’t let myself start another book. There is more to the business than writing, even if we wished there wasn’t. I’ll be focusing on that as times goes on and I’ll keep you updated on those things as I get them done.


How do you search through all the content out there? I’ve blogged before about my fear of missing out, and I need a way to figure out how to consume the information I need when I need it. I’ve thought of a couple of tips to help with that, and I’ll share them with you. Like so many streaming services and shows/movies/documentaries to choose from, if you try to pay for it all and give all your time to what’s out there you’ll go broke and crazy.

  1. Where are you in your journey? For instance, if you’re just starting your newsletter, content such as what to put in them, or developing an on-boarding sequence may be more in-line with what you need rather than how and when to cull a percentage of your thousands of subscribers who don’t open. Those two things are very different needs, and we could be talking years between needing to know each one.
  2. Is it tried and true? Things happen so fast in the industry that sometimes it’s not worth it to learn something if you’re not going to need it when you learn it. For example, I’m taking a mini-course from Mark Dawson about his launch plan. Being that I’m going to hopefully publish a book in the near future, taking that course makes sense. But if you don’t have anything that you think you’ll be publishing for a while, spending money on his course maybe wouldn’t be the wisest investment. Things can change between now and when you’re ready to publish. A new promo site may develop, or the Amazon Ads dashboard may go through a thousand changes before you’re ready to use it. Facebook is known for changing how you set up an ad. There are very few things that will never change–even tropes, trends, and craft advice can change if you write commercial fiction–but advice on what to blog about, building your author platform, or going back to newsletters, how to offer good content so readers sign up, things like that will always be necessary.
  3. How much money is it? I’ve blogged before about how some of these courses can cost hundreds of dollars. Sometimes, depending on what you need when you need it, a book or a beginners free course will be enough to get you on your way without breaking the bank. Time can also be an investment. I don’t know about your life or finances, but I would rather spend time reading about something and researching than spending money on a course that will spoon-feed the information to me, but at a significant cost.
  4. Make a list of the things you need at the moment versus what you should always be doing. Networking is something everyone should do that never stops. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past four years is not making friends with other romance writers. They can beta read for you, recommend editors, help with newsletter swaps, keep you up to date with industry news, and be all-around cheerleaders and sprinting partners. As introverts, it’s difficult to put yourself out there, but networking, especially in your genre, is something you should always be working on. Same as reading in your genre. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on in the genre you’re writing in than listening to secondhand information. Learning craft is another thing you should always be doing, but things like listening to a podcast about a new program like Kindle Vella can wait until you have the time to consider if it’s the right path for you.

Cutting through all the noise is hard, and it’s difficult to be a hoarder of information. What do you do with a piece of information if you don’t need it right at that moment? You can put it away and hope it’s still relevant when you pull it out again, but chances are something about what you know is going to change. Like I said, ad platforms are notorious for that. There will always be new promo sites, or sites that have worked in the past but don’t work now due to saturation.

I need to remind myself that I don’t need to know everything all the time. Joining Clubhouse (the audio-drop in app) has been really hard for me–I realized that the full-time authors who do a lot of the meetings and talking can do so whenever they want because they work from home and aren’t under anyone’s restraints but theirs. I still have a day job and more than once I’ve been disappointed I couldn’t listen in a room because I was working.

I feel a lot of pressure to know all of the things, and a lot of that is fueled by being truly interested in the publishing industry, both traditional and indie. At least it’s something I can recognize in myself and try to control it the best ways I know how.


As a reminder, the giveaway for Barbara Avon’s author interview is still open! Enter to win a paperback copy of her book, Sacrilege, and a $25 dollar gift card to Amazon. Click here to read her interview! And click here fore easy access to the giveaway! The giveaway ends Sunday, May 9th, so don’t forget!

Author Interview: Barbara Avon

With the way Twitter is now–the platform showing you likes and responses of people you don’t follow–you can interact with someone long before realizing you don’t follow them or vice versa. It was this way with Barbara. I interacted with her a bit here and there, saw her name pop up on my feed a lot, but didn’t realize until she followed me that I wasn’t following her. She’s been a pleasure to get to know and has been writing and publishing for many years now. She’s a strong supporter of the indie community, and she’s a part of the huge #writingcommunity and #amwriting communities on Twitter.

I was excited when she said she would answer some questions. I love hearing about other authors’ experiences, and I feel that we can all learn a little something either through the mistakes they’ve made, or how they were able to make something work for them. I hope you can find some of your own takeaways from this interview! Thanks for joining us!


You’ve been publishing for a while now. It looks like you released your first books in 2017. Did you write and publish before that, and how did you get into writing?

First of all, I want to thank you for inviting me to this interview! 

I started this journey in 2002, which is when I wrote my first novel, “My Love is Deep”. Life happened, and I set it aside until 2015 when my husband encouraged me to publish it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that self-publishing was an option, so I lost a lot of money by having it printed at a printing house and selling it locally through Facebook. I have always loved telling stories. I earned an A + in high school on a short story I wrote set in the 1930s. My teacher even made me read the story out loud and you can imagine how harrowing that was for a shy teen girl. I knew then that I would someday write a novel. 

The indie publishing industry changes so quickly. How is publishing different now than when you first started, and do you think it’s better or worse?

As I mentioned above, I didn’t even know self-publishing existed. After losing $3000 out of pocket, someone finally told me about CreateSpace (now KDP). I honestly don’t know if it’s any different now than it was a few years ago. Self-publishing makes it far too easy for anyone to publish, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. What should come first, without a shadow of the doubt, is the story. That’s all that ever mattered to me. I am grateful that I have the outlet that allows me to share my work with the world, but far too often, I see stories published that are lacking in some way which tells me the author published too quickly, or without regard for the actual story. 

You publish wide, meaning on all platforms. How did you make the choice to publish wide instead of enrolling your books in Kindle Unlimited?

Again, I didn’t know Kindle Unlimited with an option until later in the game. Now that I’m aware it exists, I still choose to publish “wide”. To me, exposure is everything. 

You have a strong Twitter following. Do you think a strong writer’s platform helps you sell books? Where else do you like to hang out online? 

Twitter is where I sell 90% of my books. You often read tweets from others saying that follower count doesn’t matter. I disagree. The more eyes on my books, the better. I dream big, and if I’m going to be honest here, I want to be a household name. I want my books read across the globe. It’s only logical that a strong following will get one there faster. I started at zero followers like everyone else. Did my sales increase along with my Twitter following? Yes, it’s obvious that they would. I don’t spend a lot of “leisurely” time online. My days are hectic, and extremely busy. When I have some time, I dive into reading!  

In one tweet on Twitter you jokingly said your marketing manager (your husband) told you that you needed to crank up your marketing strategy a notch. Kidding aside, how do you market your books? And in conjunction with that, do you think being wide helps marketing or makes it more difficult?

Marketing is a necessary evil and my least favourite part of being an Indie author. However, I market mostly on social media (Twitter being my favourite platform). I am also a member of BookBub, AllAuthor, Goodreads, and several other sites that feature Indie Author’s such as Patric Morgan’s Indie Book Store. In the past, I have agreed to radio interviews, television interviews, and print media interviews. I often tell authors that they must do “everything they can” to get themselves and their books “out there”. It is part of the job description to market yourself. I do believe publishing wide helps a great deal with this. You can find me on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, etc. 

You write articles for www.writerspayitforward.com. Is writing non-fiction something you’ll always keep doing? Do you plan to write a non-fiction book someday?

I have always written opinion pieces. Two decades ago, I had my own column in the local Urban Weekly and I have worked for two city bi-monthly glossies. Today, I write guest blog posts partially for the exposure, (Think: Google search), and partially because I want to help my fellow authors on their journey. 

Your bio says you’re a multi-genre author. What is your favorite genre to write? What is a genre you don’t think you’ll ever try?

Even though I started with Romantic Suspense, my favourite genre to write is Horror (including Paranormal Romance). There is something hauntingly beautiful about the dark and mysterious side of life. I’m currently working on my next horror. Despite the genre, however, there will always be love in my books. I think the only genre I will never try to write is Science Fiction. (I do write Time Travel.) I can’t imagine creating a whole world that revolves around Sci-Fi and I’m in awe of my fellow authors who can.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made since you’ve first started publishing?

Not starting sooner! Along with that, I’ll repeat what I said in my first answer – printing my first three books at a printing house. 

If you could give a new author one piece of advice, what would it be?

Confidence is the key to great writing. Be bold, be brave, be different. Cherish your own voice and what makes you unique. There will only ever be one Stephen King, and frankly, I don’t want to be Stephen King. I want to be Barbara Avon. 


Thank you so much Barbara, for taking the time to answer my questions! It’s always fun to get a glimpse at what other authors do as they are writing, publishing, and marketing their books.

If you want to keep up to date on what Barb has in store for her readers, sign up for her newsletter, and bookmark her website. Thanks again for joining us today!


Follow Barbara on Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter

Thanks for reading!

Author Interview: Women’s Fiction author Brickley Jules

I’d like to welcome Brickley Jules to the blog today. I’ve known Brickley for years, and it’s one of those friendships where I can’t remember where we met (probably Twitter) because she’s been a friend since I started writing. She has a new release coming out that I was happy to edit for her last year. With so little time, every launch is a victory, and I’m happy to be a part of her launch and the rebranding of her series. I asked Brickley a few questions about writing and publishing around such a busy schedule. Thanks for tuning in!


You published Her Unexpected Life in 2016. How has indie publishing changed since then? Anything stand out to you as better?  Worse?

The two publishing entities [CreateSpace and KDP] I used in the past have combined meaning I only have one place to go to get my work out to the public which is easier. But I’m a creature of habit so I’m not as fond of the changes as others might be.

More books are published than ever before. Can you share what you plan to do in terms of marketing after your launches?

I plan to do some more research on marketing to stay up to date and I’m going to utilize every free source of marketing I can. 

Facebook for example has many different free options like Facebook Live, Groups, Author Pages, Cover pictures and videos, and Events. These can be used together to do Release Parties and Anniversary Release Parties etc.

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Google, and several other social media outlets can be utilized to get the word out for free about my releases without costing a thing.

I also intend on using my WordPress Blog to post about my novels.

If you could go back to 2016 and tell yourself one thing that you know now, what would it be?

If you get burnt out writing, editing, or after your computer crashes step away for a bit but don’t completely quit. Don’t allow yourself to make and use excuses to justify not working on your book or educating yourself on your craft. Take a break, pick up a friend’s novel, and do some relaxing studying.

Brickley Jules is a pen name. Do you have any tips for an author thinking about publishing using one? How did you choose yours?

Brickley Jules to me has a science fiction feel and the original manuscript, Out of the Blue, I was intending on publishing, was a spicy mermaid romance but it has overall arc problems, plot holes, and needed a lot of work so I didn’t publish it. I had already done all the leg work though of establishing Brickley Jules on social media so instead of starting over with another pen name that fits my Women’s Fiction book, Her Unexpected Life, I stuck with Brickley. I do think Brickley Jules works with my erotic motorcycle romance, Vested in Her.

My advice would be to look at other works in your genre and see what vibe the names give off. Maybe do some research on the matter but ultimately you have the choice to use whatever name you want to.

A long time ago we were talking about publishing and how difficult it is when you don’t know what you don’t know. How have you gone about filling in those knowledge gaps? 

I have a great group of writer friends who have helped me fill in the gaps and lots of other great writers have published blog posts on their experiences along their writing journey I read those. Otherwise I’m a trial and error girl.

You have a family and work full time. How do you carve out writing time?

It’s hard to find extra time but recently I busted up my ankle and had eight weeks to work on finishing the revamping of the interior vibe of Her Unexpected Life and updating its cover.

I also took some time to work on something new for my readers. More to come on that later.

Normally I have to carry my laptop around in my mom taxi and work on my books while my daughters are at their practices.


Thanks for sharing your experiences, Brickley!

She recently revamped her book, Her Unexpected Life, and is publishing the next in series, Her Ordinary Life. You can find both of these and her erotic Motorcycle Romance, Vested in Her on all your favorite retailers!

Amazon

Facebook Author page

Goodreads

Instagram

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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!


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!

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

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!


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!



Follow Meka:

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

Thanks for reading! Until next time!


All of Nothing’s make over.

I first blogged about All of Nothing getting a face lift last week, or was it the week before? I’m not sure, but you can look here, if you’d like to read the initial post. I said I was going to go over what I’m going to do to breathe a little life into the book.

The first thing I did is redo the cover. It went from this:

All of Nothing Paperback Cover

To this:

all of nothing second coverjpg

I would say that’s an improvement. I don’t have the proof yet, and I suppose writing a blog post about the cover without the proof seems to be a bit too forward thinking, but that’s okay. I can post it when I get it. I know the title doesn’t seem to be centered, but uploading it into KDP Print proved to be one over-correction after another. The title may very well be too much to the left, but what’s what the proof is for.

At any rate, covers can go through a lot of revisions and just all around bad ideas before an epiphany is realized and you think of what you wanted to do all along, or you stumble upon the perfect couple at 2am when you shouldn’t have been awake anyway.

The first cover I came up with looked like this:

all of nothing second cover FULL TITLE

No one liked it. I put it on the Indie Book Cover FB group for feedback and while no one had anything BAD to say, no one liked it, either, and everyone agreed to take out A NOVEL at the bottom. I think I came up with a nice tagline to put in its place.

It left me a bit stymied because it has a grittier feel than what I had before, and gritty and kind of mean, more alpha, bad boy, asshole was what I was going for.

But I’m glad I posted it and listened to the feedback because one poster said she bought a premade using the same guy. She even gave me the name of the site. It’s a closed group, so out of respect I won’t post the cover, but I’ll give you the website and you can take a peek yourself if you want to see the cover she bought.

I played around with it some, putting into play some of the advice I received from the group; doing something different with the tint, but overall, I guess I felt it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do after all, I gave up for a little while.

all of nothing take two

That wasn’t even all that bad . . . but that’s okay. Trying out new things until you stumble upon something else that could be better is part of the creative process.

Going through DepositPhotos one day I came across this couple:

couple in elevator two

A lot of what goes through my head when I look at photos is, what is the steam level? That was one of the things I was aiming to up on this cover: fully clothed models weren’t depicting what my books were about. Where can I put my the title? Where can I put my name? With my limited skills, what can I do to it to make it stand out? This is important because my skills are LIMITED. I can only do so much in GIMP, and I need to know if the picture is decent as is, and if it’s not, what needs to change? A cluttered background? Can I get rid of that zooming in? The color? How real are the models. Do they look too model-y, or too human? A nice medium is what I shoot for. I probably looked at this couple while looking for others and I passed them by. Until almost a fully-formed cover with these two popped into my head, and I was able to create almost a perfect cover in half a hour.

I used what little skills I have in GIMP to fade the top and the bottom and using a few tips I learned from my friend Aila’s blog post about Canva, I was able to make the rest there.

Next week I’ll take you through how I rewrote the blurb and my process for doing it!

Plus, on Monday, I’m doing an author interview with my friend, Tom, whom I met at the Sell More Books Show Summit! His debut book will be live Monday, and I’m so happy to be part of his launch! Look for an awesome interview with him, and a $25 Amazon ecard giveaway, too!

Author Interview with tom willoughby


Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re enjoying your week! I haven’t made much progress on my 3rd book in my series, as these days off this week just have flown by (plus the weather is gorgeous and I’ve been spending time outside!) but I still plan to have it done by the weekend. 12-15,000 words left. We will see! Wish me luck. 🙂

thank you for your patince

 

Author Interview: Debut Author Dave S. Koster

dave koster author picture

Author Dave S. Koster

Dave was kind enough to let me interview him for today’s blog to celebrate his new release! Enjoy the interview and we hope you learn something from his rocky path to publication. Because, you know, nothing can go smoothly.


I’ve known you for a long time, though I can’t remember who introduced us, but for those new in the writing community, tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been writing since around 2002 – I picked it up when my wife and I moved back to Alaska from Maryland. I actually did a bit of writing when I was in High School, but I was mostly interested in video game storylines at the time. In any case, back in 2002, I was out of work and was sketching up ideas for a video game, but lacked the technical skills for game development, but story writing was something that seemed more attainable. I dabbled for ages, taking large breaks to build a house, learn how to make furniture, work briefly as a college teacher, and other various hobbies. Then in 2014 (I think?), I had a moment on my morning commute. It was one of those days that only an Alaskan commute can give you – loads of golden light spilling over the tops of snow-capped mountains. The moment amounted to: What the heck are you doing? Either you do this or you don’t do it. I concluded that I was entirely too stupid to know when I couldn’t do a thing, so I decided I was going to double-down and get serious about it. I finished the book I had been working on for about 10 years and later that summer started my second, Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, which was the one just published on the 5th of June.

I remember Wine Bottles and Broomsticks from way back when you tried to fund it using InkShares. Can you tell us about your experience? (To see his old campaign, look here!)

This was one of the most informative experiences I’ve had yet with the business. On the whole, it was good in that the system was easy to use making the technical bits of the process manageable. That said, I would never recommend this avenue to most writers. You have to have a following of readers or supporters first. If I were a ‘personality’ with fans, I might have made the goal, but I didn’t have that. I’m a new author from the perspective of readers even now after having done rather a lot of self-improvement and several (unpublished) books under my belt. I think it’s hard to convince readers to buy a book from an unknown that won’t be ready for weeks or months. The other part of the experience was just how much other writers tried to help.

In a blog post from a couple years ago, you said the book was going nowhere and ultimately, you chose to self-publish. It seems like this wasn’t as easy decision for you. How did you finally decide to publish your novel on your own? (To read that blog post of Dave’s, click here.)

Honestly, that post was from a pretty negative place. I’d queried 30 or 40 agents and failed the crowd-funding even after tons of help from other writers. At the time, I really wanted to get an agent and go traditional. I was hoping that I might be that rare unicorn who manages to become a full-time writer. I think this book was the first step realizing that it’s not going to happen. Anyhow, fast-forward to last fall. I decided that I wanted to self-publish the Dark Queen of Darkness. This was mostly because I’d realized that an agent won’t pick up my work, and in even if s/he did AND I got a publishing deal, I’ve got a full-time job that actually pays the bills and I couldn’t meet their deadlines or expectations. I need to keep things on my schedule and my time, so self-publishing suddenly was the only viable route. This spring, after working with an editor, and meeting with a cover designer, I started looking at nuts and bolts bits of publishing, I realized I have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing. Even with all of the advice and what-not, I still don’t really ‘get it’. I decided, around that time, that I’d quietly release an already finished book in order to learn how to operate all of the software, navigate the platforms, and generally understand how all of these things work. The whole point of publishing Wine Bottles and Broomsticks was to ensure a smooth launch for the Dark Queen of Darkness.

There is a lot to learn. Even after six books, I always make a mistake when I publish. Every time. It’s infuriating, so I definitely know where you’re coming from. Luckily there is a lot of help out there, and you’ve been part of the online writing community for a long time now. Did you find they were a help to you during the publishing process? Did the networking pay off?

The writing community has been a huge help. Everyone I’ve engaged with has had something helpful to say or offered their time to read/comment or otherwise help me do a better job at the craft. Not to mention hours of encouragement. I think I pointed out your amazing help on cover design. I’d never have been able to work that out on my own. Actually, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have even tried to self-publish without the confidence I got copying your notes. So, yes, the networking has paid off and given me the confidence I completely lack on my own. If it weren’t for the writers on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, I’d probably have given up.

Yeah, I don’t think the moderator of that group liked my how-to tutorial. She shut down comments not long after I posted the entire thing. To be fair, I should have posted on the other FB page they have for the how-to stuff for cover design, and not the feedback page. But I hoped it helped a few people who otherwise wouldn’t have known. Anyway, this is your first book! What would you say was the hardest part about the publishing process?

I’ve got a whole bunch of ‘hardest parts’ I could go on for days. I was very nearly in ugly man-tears mid-day Tuesday over it. By far, though, trying to get all of the accounts set up and stuff uploaded. I still don’t have my book uploaded to Ingram Spark yet, because it won’t save the title and I haven’t got the foggiest clue as to why. Runners-up include: paperback layout (InDesign is spendy for me, and Vellum doesn’t work on my computer). The third is the business side. I’m still absolutely mystified about what royalty plan I should be taking. I got spooked by 70%, so went with 35% because if I’m making less money it must mean I’ve got less liability? I don’t even know. Those are just the starting points.

Definitely take the 70%. What Amazon allows you to take depends on how much you’re pricing your book for. Grab whatever you can!

Indies talk a lot about going wide. Is your book in the Kindle Unlimited program? Or did you choose to publish on other platforms like Nook and Apple Books?

I plan to go wide, but it’s going to be step-by-step so I can figure it out. When I do The Dark Queen book, I’m hoping that all of the pieces will be in place and it’ll go relatively smoothly across all platforms at once so I don’t have any terrible delays. Essentially, the goal is to add a second book to an existing platform rather than try to get it all set-up and hope I don’t experience any unexpected snags on launch day.

A) How did you come to that decision?

The decision on Kindle Unlimited is based on the hugely restrictive nature of KU. Plus, it’s possible to be completely banned from Amazon’s platform if you violate their TOS, which is a lot more restrictive in KU. After I saw Adam Dreece’s situation a few years back, I don’t know if you remember that, but I concluded that it just wasn’t worth it. Plus it leaves me with questions on stuff like: Can I sell locally at book fairs and things? What’s more, I’m not really sure it’s any more lucrative for someone who isn’t particularly prolific.

I remember Adam’s situation; it happened to a couple other big-time authors around that time, too. That would be scary–especially if you’ve grown to rely on that income. Joanna Penn encourages first time authors to learn Amazon first and then after the dust settles, so to speak, learn the other platforms. Which makes sense. Adam Croft endorses going wide from the get-go. They are two different animals, for sure, but depending on the kind of publishing schedule you have to stick with because of personal obligations, learning Amazon first may be an easier task.

B) If you’re wide, what aggregator did you use, and how was that experience?

I haven’t set up with an Aggregator. This is 100% because still totally new to this and just learned about that right now. Even then, I’m a bit of a control freak and would likely prefer to release per-platform on my own, where possible –at least at first. I don’t know much about Kobo, but B&N is trying to put together a system similar to Amazon for authors. I’ll use Ingram Spark to publish the books outside of Amazon’s platforms and they seem to have services that’ll get me there. I’ll likely change my mind after I research aggregators more and start to understand all of this better.

There is a lot to learn. Some would argue that Barnes and Noble is sinking, and fast. It’s probably one of the reasons why authors stick with Amazon. I have good feelings about Kobo, and you should go direct with them so you have access to their promotions tab. You have to email them for it, but you can only access it if you go through them directly. I use Draft to Digital for places like Apple Books, and yeah, Nook. They upload my book to a few places I’ve never heard of, as well. IngramSpark will publish your ebook too, if you can get them to work for you.

You released the paperback after the ebook. What was the reason for that?

In a nutshell: Impatience. I hadn’t planned on saying much or letting folks know it was out there until everything was ready and I could see it myself. It seems that every time I press a new button in this world, I learn something, new, profound, and sometimes expensive. I’m the sort of person that has to do a thing before I can really learn it, and getting things all ‘set up’ but un-launched is like a task waiting for a problem that will take 2 weeks to sort out. The paperback is ready, I just haven’t seen the proof yet. I was having trouble with the gutters, so I’m not convinced the printed copy will turn out – plus I’m concerned about the cover quality. When I hit the button to publish, I was really thinking that once it’s available on Amazon, I have something to point to in setting things up for Goodreads and the Amazon author page. Plus, I thought it might help a bit in getting Ingram Spark going. There are so many things to do in launching a book and this is all my first time.

You mentioned once you thought self-publishing would be expensive. Was this true in your experience? How did you save money? What was the biggest expenditure in the process?

My experience is that it can go both ways. Wine Bottles and Broomsticks cost a couple of hundred dollars when all costs are taken into account, before advertising. I didn’t get an editor, and I did my own cover. I’m not convinced this was the right decision. Dark Queen of Darkness has been very expensive so far. The dollar figure is likely to be a few thousand to get professional editing, cover, layout, and other things. I’m 95% certain I’ll never make that money all the way back.

Do you have any plans to market?

Yes, but not until I get everything in place. I want to do some testing with Amazon promotions and advertising on other platforms. When I launch Dark Queen of Darkness, I’ll do local events as well and will try to launch with a bit more fanfare than a retweeted post from my wife. I want to see what sort of return on investment might be reasonable.

I understand. I’ve gotten grief for pushing publish and walking away. But the community on Twitter is fabulous–there is so much support there. Every seems genuinely happy for you and cheering for your success. I usually tweet out a little something, but as you write more and publish more, you’ll find you need to break out of writer social media and find that reader social media. Easier said than done!

Thank you for chatting with me! If you have any issues with anything, let me know how I can help!


Check out Dave’s book cover . . . isn’t it great?! You can click the cover and it will take you to Dave’s Amazon page. Give him a follow there, and at Goodreads! Dave blogs too, and you can follow his website here.

wind bottles and broomsticks book cover

Thanks for reading!