Writerly things I’m enjoying right now!

Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog post of 2021. I thought I would take this blog post as an opportunity to tell you about a few things that I’m enjoying this month! I know money is tight, and I do like to recommend low cost or no cost items on this blog. Read to the bottom to enter into a giveaway for CreativIndie, Derek Murphy’s new book, Craft Book, a book on, well, you guessed it, craft. It’s one of my favorite things this month.

Let’s get started!

Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge
If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ll know that I am a fan of this challenge. Bryan has taught me what I need to get started with ads, and if I pay attention to ad spend there are very few months where I lose money. It take a little time and patience–comparing ad spend to royalties and pausing ads that are spending more than they are bringing in, but I’m just at the beginning of this journey and what Bryan teaches you is free. While it is a tactic to bring in students to his ad school, he DOES teach you enough to get started. I’m well aware of the webinars and infomercials that are full of “Information” but don’t tell you a damned thing. Bryan’s ad challenge isn’t like that. In the challenge he’ll teach you how to:

*contact KDP and add categories to your book and ebook to optimize the category ad placement in the ad dashboard
*ad a subtitle to your ebook to highlight subgenre or trope to your potential reader.
*teach you to write easy ad copy for the kinds of ads where you can add a hook
*find relevant keywords for your ads
*find a workaround if you published via a different platform than KDP and still want to run ads
*what to bid and what your daily budget should be to be profitable with ads
*teach you what conversion means. If you have plenty of clicks and no sales, something is wrong. He’ll help you puzzle out why your book isn’t selling.

The group also offers a ton of support. His successful Amazon Ad School students help him moderate the FB group page and answers all the questions! They also moderate his FB live segments. There is plenty of support if you missed something or need clarification.

Some information is the same, some is different as between each challenge, Amazon tweaks the ad dashboard. I participate in the background to glean new information, but this will be my 5th ad challenge, and I don’t think I can do anything more with the information he’s given me except 1) join his ad school and/or 2) publish more books.

If you’re interested in his next challenge, it starts January 11th, and you can click here for the signup website.*

*This is not an affiliate link. I don’t get anything for recommending this challenge to you.


The 2021 Author’s Planner
I’m not much of a planner, but when Craig Martelle from 20booksto50k mentions something, it’s worth taking a look. He posted about this author’s planner, and I went ahead and bought a copy. His link is for Lulu, and the book is spiral bound. That is great for not ruining a book’s spine if you need full access to write on the page. Amazon also offers one with a perfect-bound spine, meaning as with KDP it’s glued together. That’s not such a big deal if you need to save a little money and you don’t mind cracking a spine to have access to the whole page. I’m pretty hard on my books and cracking a spine never has bothered me. (Don’t look at the covers of books I’ve taken into the bathtub!)

Taken from the Amazon Product page

The book looks fun and helps you stay on track with writing, publishing, and your newsletter. I’m excited because I have a lot going on in 2021, with new releases, and new “pen name” and the start up of a new newsletter. It’s difficult for me to pivot this way, but I’m going to use what I learned in the last four years to really make a mark with my books. Having a plan will go a long way to keeping me accountable!

Here is the link for the Amazon perfect bound edition.*

Here is the link Craig posted for the Lulu spiral bound edition.*

Let me know if you buy it and what you think.

*These are not affiliate links. I don’t get anything for recommending this book to you.


Five-Minute Focus by Craig Martelle
Speaking of Craig Martelle, what I’m really enjoying these days are his 5 minute focus videos on YouTube. He takes 5-6 minutes to talk about something like hooks, blurbs, covers, motivation, whatever and he’s just a lot of fun to listen to. He’s making a lot of money with his books, and he has a right to be excited, but no matter where you are in your author journey you have a lot to be excited about too, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about. Listen to them all at once, or one a day. He seems to record them regularly. I also like the talks between him and Michael Anderle. If you want to listen to two men talk successful indie publishing with a huge dose of gratitude for what they have, these are your men.


A Book on Craft
Last, but not least, is Derek Murphy’s book Book Craft: How to write books readers love, from first draft to final polish. I’m only fifteen percent into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s not stuffy like some nonfiction books, and I like his voice and his stories. Just a warning though, if you don’t like books that tell you to write to market, you may not enjoy this one. Derek is all about helping you write a novel and while he wants you to write your passion project, he also wants to guide that project into a book that readers will want to read.

Me reading this book is like listening to a preacher while I’m standing in the choir, but we all need to be reminded now and then that after our book is written and published, it’s up to the readers to decide if you’ve written what they are going to enjoy.

I’ve been in this business long enough (and have learned the lessons) that you can’t make it if you don’t write what readers what to read and package it in a pleasing manner. I’ve seen authors publish books in the double digits and barely sell any every month for the simple fact their covers are bad or the look inside is boring because they started their story in the wrong place.

While it’s not fair to leave a glowing review of a book when I’ve only finished 15%, I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the whole thing, and I think you will too!

Here are the cover and the blurb:

Image and blurb taken from Amazon.

Everybody wants to write a book, but most authors fall short.

You have a gift, but it’s not enough. Deep magic isn’t a spontaneous explosion of creative energy. That burns too hot. It’s unstable and unpredictable. Real power comes from deliberation, skill and craft. But you need a guide to unlock a writing practice that ignites your true potential. This is it.

You have been told that writing is a type of magic, that all craft-based strategies are blasphemy. But smart authors recognize that even if writing is an art, it’s also a craft to be mastered. It’s time to peer beyond the veil, and unlock your unique brand of powerful book craft.

This is not a book, it’s an initiation. You’re here because you love the alchemical process where your creativity and inspiration bleed onto the page. You’ve tasted the power of using letters to communicate ideas and cast spells, bewitching readers and captivating them with the powers of your mind.

You’ve got a taste for it, but you want more. So you’ve sought me out, and here we are. This information took me decades to uncover, and I don’t reveal it lightly. Not every author is ready to hear the valuable lessons I’m about to share with you, but this book isn’t for them. It’s for you.

The truth is, there are things that great books have in common- and even more informative, there are definitely signs of weak writing, which can be easily identified and avoided. 

This book will help you to…

  • Plot your book without stifling your creativity
  • Hit crucial turning points to keep readers engaged
  • Improve pacing & backstory without info-dumps
  • Increase stakes, drama and conflict
  • Double your word count and stay motivated
  • Avoid common amateur mistakes & lazy writing
  • Heighten intrigue & suspense to keep readers invested
  • How to know your book will sell before you write it
  • Why readers stop reading and how to fix it
  • Simple plotting and outlining strategies so you can write faster 
  • Revise and edit your first draft and identify problems fast 
  • Save thousands of dollars on editing and increase book sales

Ready to move from the slush pile to the bookshelf?
Scroll up and improve your writing today!

If this is a book you think you’ll enjoy, leave a comment at the end of this blog post, and on January 11th I’ll choose a winner and send the winner a copy of the ebook.


2020 is over and it’s time to kick the dust of your boots. There’s a meme out there that says you can’t claim 2021 as your year, but hell yeah, do it anyway. I have. 2021 is a fresh start to many aspects in my life, and I bet it is for you too! Hopefully these tools can help you succeed! Happy New Year!

What. Ever.

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!


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!

Tuesday Thoughts, Large Print, and Getting Rid of Twitter

Hi, everyone! I know I usually post on Mondays, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been struggling with finding things to blog about lately. I go through that sometimes. I feel like anything I have to say has already been said a million times by someone else, and especially when it comes to writing and publishing, I don’t have much new to share.

I did decide to take a Twitter break, and if you follow me, you can either friend me on FB, or like my FB author page and we can touch base that way. I just couldn’t take the negativity anymore, and it was bringing out my own negativity toward other people. Twitter as a whole is very emotional, and I just can’t handle how sensitive (and insensitive) people can be and when they lash out because of it. I’m not a fragile flower, but geez, there are only so many times I can be “put in my place” without feeling it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel like a whole lot of people are writing over there anyway, and it’s not such a great place to find supportive writers who want you to succeed. Last week, I made a graphic and congratulated an author on her release, and she never bothered to retweet it. I think that was the start of me being so discouraged I just wanted to leave. If you can’t support me supporting you, then why are you on there?

twitter logo bird with a red circle through it. no more twitter

I didn’t delete my profile or deactivate my account, but I did pin a “see you next year” tweet to my profile and I deleted the app off my phone. I logged out on my laptop to remind myself when I go on there just to go on there that I’m trying to break the habit. I’m sure it’s one of those things where I’ll go through withdrawal for a few days and after it’s over I’ll feel better.


I blogged about doing large print for The Years Between Us, and I got the proof in the mail the other day. It looks great! I approved the proof and I didn’t have any problems with KDP flagging it as duplicate content. I may do some other books as time allows, though Amazon has stopped putting Large Print as a buying option on the book’s product page. So even though I know there are visually impaired people who would appreciate a Large Print book, I have to weigh time versus return on investment. In the scheme of things, doing the Large Print didn’t take very long, so I could do most of my backlist in the next year or so if I did one per month. We’ll see how it goes. I buy all my own ISBNs, and I have to keep in mind that expense as well. With the way Ingram has been glitching lately and not accepting Vellum files, this book is only available on Amazon, and I didn’t check the box for expanded distribution. I’m impressed that I could price it at 14.99 and still make a couple dollars. In expanded distribuion, I would have made fifty-six cents.


I’m still editing my series, and I suppose that’s going to be something you’ll hear from me for the next little while. I get discouraged when I think about needing to figure out newsletter stuff. I’ve looked around StoryOrigin, and I don’t think I’m going to be using it for right now. I feel like authors forget that cultivating a newsletter list is more than just getting people to sign up for it. You’re supposed to be collecting emails from readers who are going to be fans of your work and support you. I may get the newsletter stuff figured out so I can encourage them to sign up in the backs of my books and aim for as many organic signups as possible. I don’t want to lure readers with a free book to sign up. I know that’s the thing to do, but freebie seekers will cost money eventually because you’ll pay for them to be on your list but they won’t buy when you send out email blasts about a new release.

You guys, I know the rules, but I’m tired of playing this game. I just wanna write and make money doing it. Yep.

Well, I don’t have much else. I did Bryan Cohen’s ad profit challenge, but he didn’t offer anything new from what he showed us in his last challenge. I don’t think I’ll be doing any more of those, though I have met some nice people doing them.

I’m always on the look out for new non-fiction to read, but I haven’t been reading much since I’ve started working from home. It’s a lot easier to get words down now that I am, and I’m reading less. Which is probably why I’m all dried up when it comes to blogging. That said, I’m still listening to podcasts, and the Six Figure Authors podcast has Sara Rosett on this week. She wrote a non-fiction book about writing a series. Since that is one thing I’ve managed to make myself bend for (I prefer standalones) I figure anything that could make the process more tolerable (and profitable!) I need to look into. I ordered How to Write a Series, and I will tell you how I like it. I didn’t realize there is also a workbook that goes with it until I accidentally clicked on it trying to grab the link for you all. Check them out!


If you want to listen to her interview on the podcast, you can find it here:

Thanks for reading!

Author Musings and what I’m working on now.

a woman looking through binoculars. text says looking forward to the weekend

I’m sorry I didn’t post on Monday! There hasn’t been a lot going on and I didn’t have any updates. I finished the last book in my series, and I’ve already read through it, fixing typos and deleting repetition. Since then I’ve started at the beginning, and I’m in the middle of my second editing pass of book one. I can tell I was still getting to know my characters and getting used to writing in first person present. Hopefully I won’t have to do this much editing for the other books. As I said in a different blog post, I’m not going to edit the hell out of these. I want to clean them up, but I don’t want my writing to sound cardboard, either. It’s a balancing act, for sure.

Just to see how easy it is to make a Large Print version of my books, I did The Years Between Us, and I ordered a proof that should be here Saturday. Vellum has a crazy easy way to change your file into large print (just check the box!) and adjusting the spine to my cover in Canva was pretty easy too. The only thing I’m worried about now is that someone in one of the FB groups I’m in said Amazon blocked her Large Print book because the content was too similar to another book she published. Of course it’s similar, its the same one! While there are a lot of authors who have successfully published large print versions of their books, I’m worried now that when I look over my proof and approve it, Amazon’s quality content team will reject it. I buy my own ISBNs from Bowker, and this person uses the free ISBNs from KDP print, so I’m hoping that my own ISBN will help. She’s appealing their decision to block her book, and I hope I don’t have to go through the same process. It’s tough because I’ve heard that Amazon is just swamped and to get any real help can take days if not weeks.

I’m doing Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge, though right now he’s going over information that I’ve heard many times before in his other challenges. He always puts new information into every challenge, so it’s worth it to take the time to watch all his videos, even if they feel repetitious. His FB group is very busy (with 11k members!) and I scroll through it a lot more than I should. It’s interesting to see how freaked out people get about putting up an ad and then not seeing impressions or getting any clicks. If you’re doing the challenge, or even if you’re not and you’re not seeing any activity on your ads dashboard, you have to remember a couple things:

  1. Ads sometimes never turn on. Your dashboard may say they are delivering, but they never do deliver impressions or clicks. You can turn them off if you want, but there’s no harm in keeping them going. They aren’t costing you money, and you never know if one day they’ll start to deliver.
  2. Make sure if you’re running category ads or automatic placement ads your categories are relevant to your book. What people don’t understand is Amazon won’t show your ad no matter how much you bid if they don’t find your book relevant to the audience you’ve chosen. You can add new categories to your book (besides the two that you chose when you published) by emailing KDP or Author Central and asking. This also means if your book is a new release and you don’t have any also-boughts associated with your book yet, it may take a while for Amazon to understand what kind of book you’re selling.
  3. Sales have dropped for everyone. People are dismissing the election, COVID, and the holidays that are coming up. You know, people only read when they feel like reading. Run all the ads you want, but if people are busy, stressed out, or have other books in their TBR piles, your sales are going to slow down (I’m looking at you, Sept 2020 book-dump).
  4. Your book isn’t the best out there. As I’ve said in the past, 2,000 books are published every month since COVID has come along and obliterated life as we know it. You may think your book is special and that people can’t wait to get their hands on it, but come on. You have to be realistic. You’re fighting against a tsunami of books, a handful of ads isn’t going to cut through all that noise. Be patient, create more ads, make sure your metadata is relevant to your book, and try to get some reviews.

I can sound a little callous, but all I can do is shake my head at the frenzied posts people write after they’ve created an ad. We all want our books to sell, but sometimes we forget that we are selling books, and the most important thing is the story. There was even one person who started the challenge, and then she was like, “Do you have to have a book published to do this?” Ummm. Yes? Otherwise what you running ads to?

I can understand being excited to market your books, but you gotta keep in mind you have to have a product people want to buy or your marketing efforts will be for nothing.

I really don’t have much else. I try not to get too involved with the FB groups. I’m slowly realizing that a lot of people ask for advice, but they are not in the mindset to take that advice. They’re going to go their own way no matter what you, or anyone else, tells them. They already have it in their head that they’re going to do what they are going to do, and that’s it. You can point out their cover isn’t good, or won’t fit in with the genre, you can tell them the blurb they spent hours working on still isn’t good enough, you can tell them anything, but if they aren’t ready to accept what you’re telling them, it’s a dead end and a waste of time for you. It goes against my nature to give up on people because I’m a helper, but I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past helping people who didn’t really want it, and the only loser in those scenarios was me. People definitely need to learn from their own mistakes, and that might mean losing out on sales and wasting money on ads because they were too attached to their cover to change it. Not my circus, not my monkeys.


The weeks are flying by, and I didn’t have anything to write about last Monday, and I have no idea if I’ll have anything to share this Monday. I think a lot of people now are just trying to get through the election and the end of the year. If you have a question or want my thoughts on anything, give me a comment and I’ll blog about it. I’ll do what I can to help!


If you’re curious about Bryan’s ad challenge, you can still sign up. He keeps the videos up for a few days after the challenge, and you’ll have plenty of time to start from the beginning. Look here for his first video: https://www.bestpageforward.net/oct-2020-challenge-prep-work/?fbclid=IwAR0Heh32rbee0G8FYemPAPCSQnyqVBKFiOkiIB-3E_5hz3IFjBjtzHb1wVA

Until next time!


The Positives and Pitfalls of Writing a Series

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

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

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

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

The positives:

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

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

Which brings me to the pitfalls of a series:

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

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

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

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

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


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


Thursday Musings, #firstworldproblems, and series update

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Keep your chin up! Until next time!


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

taken from vellum.pub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

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

Can you guarentee your readers that?

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

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

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

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


Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!


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

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

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

Taken from Nick’s free webinar

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

Taken from Nick’s free webinar

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

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

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

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

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

names protected to hide the . . .

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

Stock photo provided by Canva. Template provided by Canva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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