Updated! Creating a full wrap paperback book cover using Canva (plus more screenshots!)

Quick note: I use Canva Pro, and some of the features I talk about are not available in their free plan. Before Canva added those features, I taught myself a few things in GIMP, a free version of Photoshop. (Find it here: https://www.gimp.org/downloads/) It will be up to you to learn the things you don’t know. And as always, there are no affiliate links in this post.


Because of the changes KDP made to their template generator and the updates Canva added to their software, the blog post I wrote last summer on how to use Canva to create a full wrap paperback cover is basically obsolete. The good news is KDP took away the need to do any math, and I think that will make a lot of people happy. Oh, and the CMYK vs. RGB issue if you want to publish on IngramSpark is gone as well, since Canva (on the Pro Plan) added the option to download your PDF in either.

While there are some things that still pertain to doing your cover in Canva such as making sure your stock photos are 300 dpi so your cover isn’t pixelated, there is a lot that has changed, too, so let’s dive in.


Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have a formatted manuscript. This includes all your front matter and back matter, your dedication page, acknowledgments, about the author, etc. If you do it yourself with Word, Vellum or Atticus, InDesign or other, you can make changes whenever you want (and you probably will). KDP gives you a 10 page grace, so don’t go crazy. If you hire out, you’ll need the total number of pages of the formatted manuscript that you’ll upload into KDP or IngramSpark and the trim size you’ve chosen for your book.

Once you have that, you can download the cover template that will show you the bleed areas to stay away from when creating your cover. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com/cover-calculator and enter in all the information they want.


1. Paperback or hardback That’s your choice, and I would imagine the instructions on how to do the cover are the same. I’ve never done a hardback so I don’t know if it’s worth the time or not.

2. Because you’re not creating a coffee table book or a cook book that requires colored pages (those projects are beyond the scope of this blog post) choose a black and white interior.

3. Cream pages for fiction, white for non-fiction is usually the norm. Your page color is attached to your ISBN number, so you can’t change your mind after you publish.

4. Page turn direction is left to right, but if you choose the wrong one, the template will show you a cover with the back on what would normally be the front. Just go back and change it.

This is what your template will look like if you choose the wrong page turn direction.

5. I choose inches.

6. Choose your trim size. Trim size is also attached to your ISBN so you can’t change the size of your book unless you republish. If you have a very long book, you may want to go with 6×9 due to printing costs in KDP. Look at what other authors in your genre are doing. Amazon makes it easy to find the product information of any paperback book. I used to go with 5×8, but under my new pen name I’m going with 5.5×8.5 for all my books. You’ll need to tell your interior formatter which size you’re going with as well.

7. Enter the page count. This determines the thickness of your spine. (Press Enter if the yellow button doesn’t light up.)

8. Click Calculate Dimensions.

With the new way KDP offers you the template, all you need for the canvas size in Canva are the numbers for the full cover. The width is 12.045 and the height is 8.75. Before, you used to have to do the math (adding the front and back covers and spine and bleed) to figure out this number, but not anymore.

Click download template on the lower left. It will come in a ZIP file. Open the file and save the PNG under a name you’ll remember so you can find it to upload it into Canva.

The template will have all the information you entered into the template creator and will remind you of the canvas size: 12.045 (width) x 8.75 (height).

In Canva, on the home page, you’ll want to do Custom Size:

There, you’ll enter in the numbers that the KDP template gave you:

Click Create New Design.

When you do that, you will have the exact sized canvas you need to fit the template you downloaded.

Adjust it like you would any picture or element you use in Canva.

And really, it’s that easy. No more math. No more guessing the canvas size. This is my template for the first book in my King’s Crossing Series. I’m using a 5.5×8.5 trim size, the pages of the book are 318 and I print on cream paper.

In my other blog post, I took you through the steps on how to use the template, and I can do that here. I’ll keep going with the first book’s cover.

Using the transparency, you can see the bleed lines I’ll need to stay away from when adding text. It’s why I build on top of the template, but you can always guess, and then using transparency, put the template on top of your finished cover and see if you stayed away. That’s a lot of adjusting if you’re not used to making covers, especially text sizing on the spine, but you’ll do what works for you.

Next I darken the image and add the guy. I pay for Pro, so I’m not sure what all the special features are available in the free plan but I think the background remover is worth the price alone.

Remove his background and darken him up. I play with the brightness and contrast until I like how he looks against the background.

Canva has a lot of cool elements that I’ve started using, and I don’t need GIMP as nearly as often as I used to. Because I like his size, but the photo is cut off toward the bottom, I needed something that would hide that and make the title font and my author name pop. So I found a black gradient element that I use and put it at the bottom.

This black gradient is perfect for what I need it to do:

Now I have space for the title and my author name. Canva Pro offers a lot of font options, too, and while I try to buy my own just for my own peace of mind, sometimes I do use theirs, but I always give attribution on my copyright page at the front of my books.

The font I’m using for the title is Better Saturday and Playfair Display.

This is why I build on top of the template. So I can see where to place the text so it’s a safe distance from the bleed marks.

When you’re doing the spine text, you can zoom in to see the bleed lines clearly.

Print on Demand is iffy at best, and I’m cutting it close with CRUEL. I’ll make that a bit smaller to give the printers some wiggle room. There’s always someone on Facebook complaining their spine text isn’t centered, but I’ve given up worrying about it. It’s nothing you can control. Just give the printer enough space to mess up so your text doesn’t bleed onto the back or front cover.

Add your name and imprint to the spine if you want and then do the blurb or whatever else you’re going to put on the back cover. I’ve only added my author photo with my bio one time. I also skip putting the barcode white box on the back. KDP will add it for you if you leave that space blank.

Keeping the transparency low on the background lets you see that the text for the blurb isn’t too close to the edges.

You’ll want to tweak it, of course, but when you change the transparency to 0 you can see how it will look when all the pieces are in place. (Oops, almost forgot the series logo.)

In the bottom left of the back cover, I call that the crap corner. I’ve always had a hard time figuring out what to put there because there’s not a lot of room for anything, and with the barcode in place, the corner just looks empty. I’ve started putting my author website there for lack of anything better and I think it works okay. Like I said, I leave the barcode box blank. Both KDP and IngramSpark will add it if you don’t buy or make your own barcode. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur has a free barcode creator if you want to create your own barcode. You can find it here. Barcode Creator. (Okay, I lied. I added it so you can see what it looks like.)

One of the updates that surprised me was when Canva added the choice (for Pro Plan) to download in RBG or CMYK. IngramSpark prefers the CMYK and KDP, I don’t think, cares. I’ve always uploaded an RBG because that’s all Canva has offered in the past.

This takes some of the worry off using IngramSpark because I hated seeing their error messages even though I knew what I was doing was okay. My covers always came out fine (POD mistakes aside) so I never worried about it either way, but it’s nice to have the choice.

You can use this cover for IngramSpark, too, but make the text on the spine smaller. Their spines are narrower because of the kind of paper they use. IngramSpark also has a cover template generator, and if you want to make sure you’re in the bleed lines, you can download it and lay it on top your cover. If you want to keep both, duplicate your KDP cover and name them, indicating their appropriate platforms. Using your transparency, you can adjust the font and then delete it when you’re done.

As you can see, I would want to adjust the title on the spine because it’s narrower than KDP’s template. I haven’t found there to be any other difference.

Adjust the text so they are still centered, and you’re done with covers for both templates and platforms.

What I really love doing for a series is saving the first book as a jpg or png, and then laying that over the other books in the series so all the elements are in the same place. I was actually really lucky with the pages in my books, and I was able to use the same template for 4 of the 6 books.

That was convenient because I could duplicate the cover and then swap out the guy and change the titles, and I knew everything would be the same size and in the same exact place. I don’t always expect to be that lucky, though.

Here’s what the finished product looks like. The cover looks a bit washed out, but that’s the photo and I don’t think it needs adjusting in real life. I can move the black gradient over a bit though, closer to the spine, but otherwise, I think it’s pretty good.

I think I covered everything there is to know with the updates. If you have a cover from a designer and you need to resize it, entering the numbers and generating your own template for the numbers and plopping them into Canva is easy. Another update Canva Pro added recently is you’re able to upload PDFs, not just PNGs, JPGs, and JPEGs. I haven’t needed to try it yet, but I was excited about the new things Canva is adding for us! Canva Pro also has a resize option that I’ve used for my large print books and it works pretty well.

I hope the new instructions are helpful!

Let me know and thanks for reading. 🙂


Quick Resource Links:

KDP Cover Calculator/Template Generator

IngramSpark Cover Template Generator

GIMP

DepositPhotos is where I buy all my stock photos for covers.

Atticus is a new interior formatting software created by Dave Chesson and his team at Kindlepreneur. Atticus is available for all computers, not only for Mac like Vellum is. You can find Atticus here. If you have a Mac and want to play with Vellum, you can try it for free. They’ll charge you only if you want to generate files. Find Vellum here. If you don’t have the cash for either, but still want to do it yourself, KDP also supplies interior templates with bleeds and gutters and front matter in place. Download the template with sample content. Delete theirs and copy and past your own into the template. You can find info about the interior templates here. (That is actually how I formatted my books before I bought Vellum.)

Canva Pro lets you upload fonts into your toolkit. I find lots of cheap fonts at Creative Fabrica, and there are some free for commercial use fonts at 1001 Fonts.
There’s a great gal in the Design Resources Hub group on FB who posts whenever Creative Fabrica has free or discounted bundles. You can join the group here.

Developing your eye takes time and practice. Looking at Canva templates and the top 100 in your genre on Amazon can teach you a lot. You can look up Canva Templates here.

GetCovers is a cheap place (popular and trustworthy, they are based in Ukraine) to find covers for your books if you don’t want to make your own. (They also have a very informative marketing newsletter if you want to sign up.) I’ve started looking through them for practice. This cover was in one of their Tweets; I follow them on Twitter. I thought it looked easy enough to duplicate so I tried using only Canva tools. I could probably do better if I took more time, but I think I did a good job. Because of the elements that you’ll have at your disposal, you won’t be able to get everything right, but the practice is invaluable.

May Recap and June Plans

Another month has come and gone, and I still feel like I’m trudging through quicksand, though, to be fair, I have gotten a lot done in the past couple of weeks. It’s more of a personal thing that I feel like I’m not making any progress when, in fact, I’ve made so much I’m freed up to write again. That I won’t have room in my publishing schedule until 2024 isn’t a concern, more of a blessing in disguise as I’m plotting out a new trilogy and having a difficult time. I feel like I may be broken since I haven’t written anything in months and the momentum I’ve had for the past two years is definitely gone. It is true, what they say, it’s better to have written as I have really enjoyed editing these books over the past few months, but I also like to write and I need to have at least a loose outline of all three books (for breadcrumb purposes) first before I can really dig into writing book one.

Despite a new diagnosis of a yeast infection (I swear, the fun never stops with me these days) I managed to format, write blurbs for, and create six covers for my King’s Crossing series. I’ve ordered proofs for them all, and here are the covers.

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of these, but like I’ve mused in other blog posts, I may have been too far ahead of myself for these to stick. I’m hoping covers for billionaire books don’t do a complete 180, though illustrated covers are becoming more and more popular. I just don’t think that an illustrated cover would provide an accurate depiction of what I write about (high angst), so at least I don’t have to worry about that no matter how heavy the cover trends lean in that direction.

Last week, I spent more time than necessary (because they changed their platform since I’ve last used it) setting up a Facebook ad for Captivated by Her, which was released on the 1st. I don’t expect anything to come of it; I’m still getting my new pen name out there and unfortunately paying to do it. I have just a little under 200 on my newsletter subscriber list, and surprisingly, I’ve only lost four. I did go ahead and offer them an ARC of Captivated, but only 26 subscribers took me up on it. That’s fine, even if just one or two of them leave an honest review that they liked it, it will be a nice gauge into if my books will resonate with anyone. So for now, I’m running a very small budget FB ad to Captivated, turned my ad back on for my reader magnet to build my list, and I’m running a couple of Amazon ads that don’t have much traction yet. I didn’t think an ad to a preorder would, I just wanted the algorithms to pick me up.

I might buy a newsletter promo with ENT or Fussy Librarian for Captivated when Addicted to Her comes out in August. I don’t have a preorder for it because I’m reluctant to put something on preorder for that long. It would just sink on Amazon because nobody wants it, so I feel it’s better to wait and do what I did this time–put it on preorder for a week so I have a link and in that time I can run some ads to it so Amazon knows it exists. Am I doing this right? I have no idea. I won’t know for a long time if I’m going to make any money off these books, but underneath the need for financial validation, I sure had fun the past two years writing them all.

There is always TikTok. Apparently you need to be on there ASAP if you’re a romance writer, but honestly, I’d rather throw money at ads for now than learn how to work another platform. I still don’t have a complete grasp on MailerLite and all it can do (I have a course by Holly Darling I bought during a Black Friday sale that I haven’t taken yet, either), and if I wanted to put time into anything else, I need to learn how to participate in Bookfunnel promotions because I’m paying for the privilege.

For now, I’m just happy to be writing again, even if I’m having a bit of trouble plotting, but I’ll get back into it easy enough. I’m also trying to figure out what more I can offer on this blog. I’m going to look into an indie editor series because besides my author updates, there just isn’t a whole lot going on in indie publishing right now. TikTok is all the rage and I could experiment just for the sake of telling you about it, but with only one book out anyway, I feel it would be a waste of time. So, we’ll see what happens. I won’t stop writing, but I like being able to offer content that’s helpful. I guess I’ll be brainstorming more than just plot for the next little while.


What I’m loving right now:

When I sent a newsletter out hoping to prompt the readers who downloaded Captivated into leaving a review, I knew there was a way to create a link that would send the reader straight to the review page instead of just asking them to hunt for it on the book’s product page. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur usually has all the answers, and indeed, he has a YouTube video on how to create a review link, and also a blog post that explains it a bit better. This was a golden find for me and so helpful for your readers if you ever need to ask for reviews!

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Guest Blogger: Six Great Reasons to Write Short Fiction by Vera Brook

SIX GREAT REASONS TO WRITE SHORT FICTION

By Vera Brook

You may have glanced at the title of this post and shrugged. “I write novels and series. I’m not interested in short fiction.” Maybe you even rolled your eyes. “It’s just not worth my time.” 

But wait! Don’t go away yet. I promise there are great reasons to consider writing short fiction alongside your novels and series—both to hone your craft and to market your longer fiction and reach new readers. So let’s dive in and discuss six of these reasons, shall we? 

Actually, it might be helpful to first define short fiction. I dwell in the world of science fiction and fantasy, and in that world, we break down short fiction into four main lengths. Flash fiction is typically 250 to 1000 or 1500 words; a short story is between1500 and 7500 words (with 3000 to 5000 words considered a sweet spot); a novelette is 7500 to 17500 words; and a novella is 17500 to 40000 words. Anything longer than 40000 words is a novel. Other genres may use different definitions, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with some short fiction in your genre. 

I also want to mention from the start: if you want to write short fiction, you need to read short fiction first. Not a huge amount, but some. It will help a great deal. If you find a story that absolutely blows you away, you can study it for craft and apply what you learn in your own writing. And by searching for short fiction to read, you will also discover markets where you could submit and publish your own short fiction later on. 

How do you find short fiction to read? There is a rich plethora of short fiction magazines and anthologies out there, some in print, some digital, and many available in both formats. My favorite tool to search for magazines and anthologies (to submit to but also to read), and to track my submissions, is the Submission Grinder. You can search by genre and length, pay rate, response time, etc. And it’s absolutely free to use (although you could support the creator to help the good thing going). The Best of… anthologies are also a great choice, as long as they are pretty recent. 

Okay. Let’s first talk about the benefits of writing short fiction in terms of craft, and then about all the different ways to use short fiction to market your longer works and widen your readership.

Craft reason #1: Practice and improve your openings

sketch of woman sitting at desk. orange background text: craft reason 1: practice and improve your openings

The openings of novels are crucial. When a reader comes across your book on Kobo or Amazon, they’re very likely to open the ebook sample and read the first chapter or so. If the opening grabs them and pulls them in, they will get the book. The same happens in physical bookstores. The reader picks up a paperback and reads the first few pages. 

The opening is crucial! But how often do we get to practice writing the opening? If you write long novels, not very often. Just once per novel. Short fiction lets you practice writing different kinds of openings and get better and better at them. A super helpful skill that you can directly apply when writing your next novel.

Craft reason #2: Practice and improve your endings

sketch of woman sitting at desk, green background, text: craft reason 2: practice and improve your endings

If the opening sells your current book, the ending sells your next book (or so the saying goes, and I think it’s true). But as novelists, how many endings do we get to write? Not many. Again, just one per book. Short fiction lets us write lots of endings and different kinds of endings, and as with openings, practice makes perfect, and the improvement is directly applicable to novel writing. Stronger, more effective endings could also make a huge difference for the success of your series, where the read-through rate is critical and you want to do your best to compel the reader to jump directly to the next book in the series. 

Craft reason #3: Experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

sketch of woman sitting at desk: aqua background, text: craft reason 3: experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

Maybe you write crime mystery and want to try adding a speculative element, like a futuristic technology or a paranormal ability. Or vice verse: you write speculative fiction but want to venture into the psychological thriller territory. 

However, it can be daunting to jump straight into writing a novel in a new genre. Short fiction is a perfect playground to try it out and see what happens, without investing too much writing time and effort. In fact, even reading short fiction in a new genre is a great way to get the lay of the land, including popular tropes that you could play with and subvert as you wish—as long as that short fiction is current, published in the last decade or so. 

So far so good? Great. Onward to using short fiction for marketing!

Marketing reason #1: Put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

sketch of woman sitting at desk: orange background, text: Marketing reason 2: put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

Let me ask you this: What’s the biggest challenge for writers today? It’s discoverability, isn’t it? 

Whether you are self-published, with a small indie press, or with a traditional publisher, it is incredibly tough to get readers to find your book. I don’t know how many millions of books there are on Amazon, but it’s an astronomical number, and advertising is expensive. 

If only there was a way to reach the readers in your genre—the readers who are most likely to enjoy your writing—and introduce yourself to them… Well, there is! Short fiction magazines in that genre. If you can get your story published in a magazine like that, guess what will happen? Hundreds or thousands of readers who already love the genre will read your story and discover you, the author, and all your other books! I discovered some of my favorite authors that way—by reading their short story in a magazine first. 

If your flash fiction or short story or novelette gets published in a top tier market, you will also get paid a nice amount; and even better, if the contract is good, you will get paid for only for the first-publication rights and anthology rights, but you can republish your short fiction in your own collection later on. 

Imagine that! A terrific promotion—and you get paid for it, instead of the other way around. 

To be fair, the best magazines and anthologies are competitive. Don’t expect to send them your first story and get an acceptance email (although if you do, congrats!). Rather, think of short fiction as part of your writing journey. It will take time to write good short fiction; it will take time to get it published. But I truly believe it’s worth it. In fact, personally, I consider writing and submitting short fiction as important to my writing career as my novels or series, at least for now. 

One last idea: When you are done with a series, consider writing a short story in that world. In most magazines, if your story gets published, it would be accompanied by your short bio, and the bio could mention your series and encourage the readers to pick up book one. Be careful not to include spoilers in the short story. And just to be safe, you could center it on a minor character or event, rather than the major character or the main story arc. But if your story is compelling and intrigues the readers enough to want to know more, you could gain new fans for your entire series!

Marketing reason #2: Reader magnets to build your newsletter list

sketch of woman sitting at desk, mauve background, text: marketing reason 2: reader magnets to build your newsletter list

Short fiction also works great as a reader magnet (for new readers to sign up for your author newsletter). By definition, short fiction is short, and therefore takes less time and effort to write than a novel. This makes it easier to give it away for free than an entire novel, especially when you are just starting out and only have a few novels published (like I do). And a fun short story or novelette can still entertain the readers and, if they like it, bring them one step closer to becoming your fans. 

The last bit of advice on reader magnets: Use a strong, compelling short story. It should be as good as you can make it in terms of your writing craft, even if it’s short. Don’t forget that the goal is to woo and impress a new reader enough to read more of your work and become a loyal fan over time. A careless, poorly edited short story will not cut it, and you could actually lose a reader that way.   

Marketing reason #3: Gifts to reward your loyal fans and keep them engaged in between books in a series.

sketch of woman sitting at desk, yellow background, text: marketing reason 3: gift for fans to keep them engaged between books in a series

Another terrific way to use short fiction is as a gift for your loyal fans, already on your mailing list. And one time when such a gift might come in handy? When you are in between books in a series, and your fans are anxiously awaiting the next installment. Unlike with a short story that you would submit to a magazine, for new readers who are not familiar with the series, here you are writing primarily for fans who know the characters and the plot inside out. You may still want to be careful with major spoilers, just in case a few readers are behind in their reading. But you have more leeway in terms of what you could refer to in the short fiction, and it might be fine to assume quite a bit of knowledge of the series already. 

A quick mention, since this post is already getting long: Many authors use short fiction as Patreon rewards for their supporters. It’s a similar idea to gifting a short story to your fans through your newsletter. And the best part? Whenever you gift short stories to your fans, once you have enough stories, you could publish a collection of your short fiction! How cool is that? I adore individual-author collections. And it’s another book to your name, so helps with discoverability too. 

One last thing I wanted to mention: Nowadays, both reader magnets and gift copies are distributed electronically, and that’s especially true for short fiction, which may be too short to publish as a paperback. So basically, you would use an ebook version of your short story or novella to give away. You want to make sure that the ebook is correctly formatted, including epub and mobi files, but the distribution can get complicated pretty quickly because of all the reading devices out there. So my recommendation would be to use a service like BookFunnel where you can open an account (for about $20 a year currently), upload the files with your short story (you will need a cover!), set up a landing page for the readers to download the ebook, and then share the link. 

That’s all for now. I think I ran over the word limit a little bit. (Oops. Sorry, Vania. I hope that’s okay.)

Before I let you go, here are a few of my favorite resources on the craft and the marketing uses of short fiction. Best of luck with your writing!


Resources:

Writing Excuses podcast – a long-running podcast about writing and publishing fiction, with the focus on helping the listeners improve their craft and become better writers. 

Mary Robinette Kowal’s guest lecture on writing short stories – part of a series of lectures on the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy directed by Brandon Sanderson.

Kristin Kathryn Rusch’s lecture “How to Write A Short Story: The Basics” – practical advice on crafting short fiction from an award-winning, multi-genre professional writer and editor.

The Submission Grinder – a free online tool to search for short fiction markets and track your own submissions. 

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)’s collection of model publishing contracts – includes anthology and magazine contracts. 


Vera Brook is a science fiction, fantasy, and romance writer, and the author of the SAND RUNNER SERIES. Her latest book, THE KISS, a paranormal love story, came out in November 2021. She’s working on two entirely new series, a standalone novel, and a whole lot of short fiction. You can learn more about her writing on her website at verabrook.com. She also tweets about her writing journey, books she loves, and things that interest her at @VeraBrook1.

Copyright © 2022 by Vera Brook

Monday Musings

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Happy Monday! laptop with red coffee mug, paperclips and scratch paper that says happy monday

Good morning, and Happy Monday! I think I’m always excited about Mondays because they are my Saturdays, and usually after a morning of errands and chores, I spend the rest of the day writing. I hope anyone who is facing a full workweek starts off with a productive day!

Lots going on in the indie community last week, most of it centered around Brandon Sanderson and his 24 million dollar Kickstarter. Now, most of what I’ve seen on Twitter has been derogatory at best and downright nasty at worst, and it’s really sad that there is so much jealousy when an author finds so much success. I would never speak ill of any writer who has taken the time to build an audience, nurture loyal fans, and deliver on the promises he makes to those fans. Some people on Twitter confused Kickstarter with GoFundMe, which is incorrect. GoFundMe is a site for donations only. Kickstarter is an investment website, and those people support others monetarily in exchange for product after that product has been manufactured. I’ve seen Kickstarters for more than only books–video game developers use it as do board game creators are two off the top of my head that I’ve seen. I got a little crabby with Twitter when I didn’t see one person offer him any kind of congratulations at all. Of course, that’s Twitter, and when I moved on to Facebook where Brandon is doing a lot of what my peers are trying to do, over there the tone changed to awe, support, and viewing what he’s done as motivation for their own careers.

The thing to remember about what Brandon Sanderson did is this: we all have the power to do it. Brandon has been nurturing his career for many many years, and he’s known for writing science fiction and fantasy. You can look at his career as a case study for your own, and see that he was consistent with genre, consistent with output (I’ve heard people say he’s quite prolific), and consistent with quality. If you want to get down on him for treating his books like a business, then go ahead, but there is something to be learned by his success. Maybe a 24 million dollar Kickstarter propels him into outlier status, but it’s nothing he hasn’t earned, and nothing that you can’t aspire to with hard work and dedication to your business and craft. While they aren’t doing 24 million dollar Kickstarters, every genre has its own powerhouse authors, and in the romance that industry that’s LJ Shen, Melanie Harlow, Ava Harrison, Willow Winters, Tijan, Lucy Score, Skye Warren and many others. Some, like Skye, even share what they’ve learned (she’s the founder of Romance Author Mastermind). One of the best author interviews I ever heard was with Melanie Harlow and James Blatch on the SPF podcast. I’ve mentioned her interview on the blog before, and you can listen to it here:

Brandon, too, shares his secrets on YouTube, and you can watch his classes here:

There is no one more generous than a successful writer. They’re always willing to tell you how they did it, but the fact is, it won’t matter to you if you don’t work on your own craft and be flexible enough to change things that aren’t working. Just the other day I saw someone on Twitter say, I ignore all book marketing advice. Okay. Do what you want to do, but the thing is, two months from now, she’ll be whining she’s not selling books.

If you want to read an interesting article about Brandon on Slate, you can look here:

How Angry Should Other Writers Be About Brandon Sanderson’s $22 Million Kickstarter?
Parsing the reactions to the sci-fi/fantasy author’s record-setting campaign.
BY LAURA MILLER


I finally received the email that Booksprout is raising their prices and that there will be no free option for a review plan. It’s unfortunate, and I’m still struggling to decide if I want to pay or not. The decision would be easier if the quality of reviews was better. Some of the reviews from there were just a five star with a three sentence summary of the book. Readers won’t glean anything from a review like that, and when they say that their review was given freely in exchange for a free book, it looks fishy and spammy as hell. I know it’s better for reviewers to say they were gifted the book in exchange for a review, but since there isn’t a free plan on Booksprout anymore, we’re essentially buying reviews, and we’ve always been told that’s not a good idea. Some others in different groups mentioned Voracious Readers Only but that’s also pay to play at $20/month. It may be better to concentrate on my newsletter and build up my subscribers than to invest 240 dollars a year in a review service. At least those readers will be mine and they’ll be happy forever as long as they keep enjoying my books. If you’re interested in the new pricing for Booksprout you can find it here.

I guess that’s all I have for this week. I’ve been formatting my guest blogger posts for next month, and I still have to get Sami Jo her interview questions. Hopefully I’ll work on that today. Right now I’m focused on getting my series edited one more time since I know what I’m looking for now.

Here’s a funny meme that brings to mind all the times I’ve gone through these books courtesy of @AneAbraham on Twitter:

meme in three parts: first part, cartoon man riding bike, holding a stick with text: finished editing manuscript for the last time. 

middle panel: guy shoving stick through the spokes of front tire with text: wait, that doesn't look right.

last panel: guy lying on the ground with the bike tipped over next tot him with the text: it's not ready yet!

But as they say, comparison is the thief of all joy, and I just finished reading a 75k word Billionaire dual first person POV and I noticed that author, too, like to use the words “take” or “taking.” When I searched my Kindle for the word, she used it over 200 times. Many more than I did in my novel that has 11k more words in it. Do I regret going over my books again after discovering this? Not really. I’m not “taking” them all out–sometimes the sentence just makes sense with it in there, but the sentences I am rewriting sound better, stronger. It’s unfortunate I thought to look though, as the book, according to Publisher Rocket, is set to make $7,000 this month. It just goes to show that what will bother you won’t bother other people, and to write the best book you can and not compare your work to others.

That is all I have for this week!

Comparison is the thief of joy. Text typed over pink and white flower petals.

Thursday Thoughts and an Author Update.

Today was an unexpectedly busy day: I had to bring my cat, Harley to the vet. I noticed she would go into the litter box but not do anything, and I suspected she was constipated, which turned out to be the case. $400.00 and an enema later, she’s shaky but going to the bathroom. She’s snoozing on the floor next to me right now where I can keep an eye on her. The vet sent us home with some stool softener and some fiber-rich food. I hope this does the trick as it was a costly trip for me, but who can put a price on love?

calico female cat hidden by white blanket with face poking out

Anyway, I’m not feeling much better than she is, having taken another dose of ibuprofen today which is not like me at all. My hysterectomy is all set for the 28th of March, and I dropped off my FMLA paperwork at the clinic this afternoon.

flat desk with laptop and sharpened orange pencils. Guest blogger text

I didn’t want to leave the blog unattended, and I set up some pretty cool guest bloggers for the month of April while I force myself to relax and recuperate (haha). Barbara Avon will be writing about being a multi-genre author, and I asked Vera Brook to write something about writing short stories and submitting them for publication. I’m also going to interview Sami Jo Cairns about her experiences with small presses and her thoughts on going indie with her series for the first time. Since I always do a giveaway with my author interviews, I probably won’t post that until the end of the month when I can get to the post office if need be to mail out a prize. So I’m really l excited for some fresh blood on the blog as well as some exciting topics I’ve never written about because those aren’t my experiences. I may look for one more person to help me with the remaining Monday of the month, but we’ll see. I don’t think I’ll be incapacitated to the extent I can’t write or blog, but I was hoping to also launch a book in April, but I honestly don’t see that happening right now.

I am going through my six book series again. During the last sweep, I thought I was fixing everything that needed to be fixed, but then I was listening to book 6 and I started catching all my crutch words I didn’t notice with the other five books (why am I like this?). While I caught some discrepancies last time, this final read-through is rewording sentences to get rid of them. The books as a whole will sound stronger, but this edit requires ingenuity on my part. My crutch words in these books: take/taken/taking/took and making. I’ve never had a problem with those words before, but since these are the first books I wrote after I switch to first person present, it was how I was writing while I figured out my voice I’m just now recognizing. I am VERY happy with the way the first book is sounding since realizing I needed to weed out those words, and I shouldn’t need to read them again after I’m done.

But this does put me in a quandary as I don’t work on more than one WIP at a time (I consider my series one project) so if my beta reader finishes my duet in the near future, I may not be in a position to work on any fixes he brings to my attention. Which sucks, but because I’m working with a huge story arc, I’m reluctant to edit another project and break my momentum. I can listen to these pretty fast though, and I think I’ll only be a month before and I can publish in May instead of April. I’m nothing if not patient, so this isn’t as bad as I thought it was when I started rereading my series again from book one.

I did get some nasty news though, and MailerLite is revamping their interface which is a terrible terrible terrible idea, because I had just finally gotten used to dealing with the old one. I haven’t even logged on to see the changes. I might have my reader magnet set up on BookFunnel, but when my my tax refund dropped into my account, instead of saving it, I made a rash and too-positive-thinking-for-my-own-good decision to upgrade my BookFunnel account so I can just share the BookFunnel link to my reader magnet and BookFunnel will collect email addresses for me. It decreases the number of clicks a person has to do to sign up for my newsletter, and since I paid extra for MailerLite integration, my life should be a little easier. But I still have to figure out all that stuff, how it works, yada, yada, yada, so I’m not going to be flat on my back watching Netflix and eating ice cream while my body is trying to figure out where my uterus went. I have a crap-ton of stuff to do, and if I take three or four weeks off work, I can put 40 hours a week into my second job. Of course, that’s not me scamming my FMLA. I have plenty of paid time off they’re going to be more than happy to use first, which is fine. I can’t afford to take time off without getting paid for it somehow.

In other crappy news, too, with BookSprout also revamping, I’ve heard in an FB group or two that they are doing away with their free plans. If you don’t know what BookSprout is, it’s a website where readers request arcs of books that need reviews. You can put your book up and ask for reviews and where you want the readers to post them. I tried it, didn’t get too much of a response for my books, but it’s one of those things that only work if you’re writing to-market commercial fiction. My 3rd person stuff was okay, but still, like finding readers in general, I didn’t stick to a subgenre and it made it difficult to hook readers and reviewers alike. Still, I was going to try again with my launch this spring. So far, the free plan is still available, but I’ve heard nothing about being grandfathered in while they roll out the new update.

When I added up what I spend on my business for my accountant, it made me a little sick inside. I know you have to spend money to make money, and as indie-publishing evolves and it’s more difficult to compete with other authors, you may find you have no choice but to invest in some of these tools. I got into it with someone on Twitter today who said Twitter sells books, and when I asked how many (because I don’t believe it does) he didn’t have anything to say. When you depend on only one thing for marketing, and I don’t even care if you choose Twitter, or FB ads, or Bookbub ads, or you like TikTok, you have to realize that your reach will be limited. In his book, Nicholas Erik outlines many ways to market your book. It’s a very informative, and you should grab a copy.

And if you can’t resist some drama, here’s the thread on Twitter I’m referring to.

Have a great weekend, everyone! See you Monday!

Knowing when to pivot. (What does that mean?)

a picture of zoe york's three books about writing and marketing romance.  look here to buy:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082CZDK75
To check out the series, look here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082CZDK75

I just finished Zoe York’s Publishing How To series, and I really enjoyed the books, her thoughts and experiences on publishing romance, goal setting for your author career, and so much more. She’s been writing and publishing for years now, is a full-time author, and has made a bestselling list or two.

What I’m about to say doesn’t have anything to do with these books–I’ll circle around to them–but lately I’ve realized that when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, you can consume all the marketing advice in the whole world, but you won’t get anywhere unless you have a good product, and more importantly, a good product people want to buy. That’s part of the reason why I haven’t purchased Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course (comes in at close to 1,000 dollars, and SPF offers it twice a year). If you don’t have the books to back up your ads, your ads aren’t going to do anything.

When I take a look at my publishing history, I was writing good books. I received the odd 1-2 stars most authors do, but on the whole, I’m writing good books. That’s important to me because I do most of the editing and production alone. But something was still off because over the past few years, I didn’t find any traction. One mistake was my newsletter, or lack of one, I should say, and the other was my lack of direction with the books themselves. (I also didn’t understand author brand, but that’s an old discussion we can have on another day.)

It was just this morning when a woman in a writing FB group was talking about this very thing. She was sub-genre hopping and couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting any traction. Maybe she’ll believe me, maybe she won’t, but I told her I had the same problems with my own books and decided to niche down.

desk with laptop, plant, and coffee.

be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods.

My issue with pivoting is that it took me a long time to realize I had to do it. Some writers who struggle may never understand that it’s not their marketing chops, or their covers, or their blurbs, but simply what they are writing in the first place. Depending on how fast you can write, that can take years. Years that can feel wasted because if you had been writing the right thing in the first place, you wouldn’t still be at ground zero wondering where it all went wrong. But that’s like a chicken and egg scenario–how do you know what’s right or wrong until you put it out there? And what are the metrics you’ve decided to pin that on? Sales? Reviews? I’m nowhere near making a full-time author’s salary–I checked my dashboard yesterday and made 2 cents. (That tells me someone borrowed the book in KU and opened it to make sure it borrowed properly, then went off to do something else. Or they read the first page, didn’t like it, and returned it. If I think to check back, I’ll see if that person read it or not, but that micro-level of caring is not in me and never will be.) Admittedly, those books are old now, and even dropping 10 cents a click in ad spend to those books is probably a waste of money because as we’ve determined, Amazon loves consistency and relevancy, and I won’t be writing any more of those books for the foreseeable future.

So what will make you decide that it’s time to pivot?

At the beginning of the post, I brought up Zoe’s book because in it she says knowing when to pivot and niche down is a personal choice, and it is. You have to look back at your books, where you are, and decide if it’s enough for you. I see indies making money. I want that, too. It’s not a driving force, but financial security is important to me, and who doesn’t want to get paid for doing what they love?

When we talk about pivoting, what does that even mean? It means taking a look at what you’ve been writing, looking at that lack of success those books are bringing in, and deciding to try something new. It can be as simple as what I did–turning from writing “Contemporary Romance” to Billionaire, or doing a full 360 and changing from Christian Romance to Horror. But then that begs the question too–will the pivot be in the right direction? I have no idea. I can’t even say if these new books will resonate with readers until I put them out. I THINK I’ve taken a step in the right direction: billionaire, first person POV. According to Alex Newton of K-Lytics, Billionaires are like vampires and will never die. So, that’s a good thing. But there are a lot of other things that can turn against me: writing style, the tropes I chose to write about, the issues (backstories) I’ve given my characters and decided to tackle in my writing. Changing from Contemporary Romance to Billionaire might not be the magic bullet I hope it is, and right now, I don’t have a plan C. I’m not even sure how long I’m going to give this pivot a go before I decide this writing business isn’t meant to be. I have enough books saved up to publish 4 a year for the next 3 years, so at least until then (because why not publish them since they’re written), but I’ve been skating financially since my divorce, piecemealing paying my bills with scraps of income from various places while giving my writing career a chance to do something, and I can’t do that indefinitely. As Kristine Kathryn Rusch says, there are easier ways to make money. Less stressful too, I bet.

desk with laptop plant and coffee

a pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision. eric ries

So, if you’ve been banging your head against your laptop trying to figure out why you’re just not seeing the success you want, maybe it’s time to pivot. What is selling right now that’s close to what you’re already writing so you don’t go out of your mind? I’m not saying be a slave to the market, or to trend, though I’ve seen Alex Newton’s indie reports, and trends don’t change nearly as quickly as we like to say they do. I’m saying find something different to write that’s hotter, more niche than what you’ve been writing and see if that works.

All those who wander are not lost, but sometimes you think you know where you’re going and end up not knowing where in the hell you are. That was me before looking at my backlist and choosing to write Billionaire. All of Nothing has made more than all my other books combined, so I feel this pivot was a good choice. Now all I have to do is publish, wait and see.

Fingers crossed.

Starting out with BookFunnel, and yeah, as always, Happy Monday!

Good morning! I don’t have any new goals except that I would like to finish listening to the second book in my Cedar Hill duet so I can format them and order the proofs from KDP. I’m going to take a break before proofing those and I probably will write the billionaire-wants-a-baby trope novel that’s been in my head for a little bit. I wasn’t going to, but I need something to do with my time. It was going to be a standalone, but my FMC has single friends, and I realized it would be a good start to a 5 book series, or so, though the rest of them will have to be put on the back burner for the time being. I’m still looking at an April release for book one of the duet, and I’m gathering information on launch plans and forming a tentative schedule for the first month of its release. Maybe I’ll blog about launch plan ideas for next week and give you some of the resources I’ve been checking out and my thoughts on them.

Today and I wanted to talk about BookFunnel. BookFunnel has been around for a long time as a book distributor and also a newsletter builder. I’ve heard a lot about BookFunnel in recent months, especially at the beginning of this year as we all look toward our new goals for the year and how we can better run our businesses. It’s not a secret that I’ve been talking about my newsletter on the blog, all the steps I’ve had to take to set up a newsletter through MailerLite, and my back and forth and back and forth with whether to offer a reader magnet or not. I did, in fact, decide to offer a newsletter magnet–one of my shorter (78k) standalones I was going to publish this year. Instead, I uploaded it to BookFunnel, and in my welcome email, I give readers the link they need to go to BookFunnel and download it.

When I was looking into setting up my account, I wanted to research how to do things on there before diving in. That’s just my way. Before I even opened Vellum (a formatting software) I watched hours of how-to videos so everything would look familiar. I hate stumbling around, not knowing what I’m doing. I watched this how-to video on Mark Dawson’s SPF channel on YouTube:

That was very helpful, and it talks you through initial set up. While I believe, like Elana Johnson, to begin as you wish to continue, I just signed up for the $20/year plan.

You can look here for what the plans offer. Ultimately, I’d like to go with the mid-list author plan as the $20.00 plan doesn’t collect email addresses if you send traffic directly to the download page. It creates an additional step for your reader as you have to send them to your newsletter sign up page and ask them to sign up before they have access to download your book. You can say it will weed out the freebie seekers, as if they do go through all the steps to sign up for your newsletter to have access to your free book, chances are they really like what you’re writing and will remain a lifelong fan. On the other hand, you want to make things as simple as possible, and well, extra clicks will always turn some people off.

I just pay so much for other writerly things right now that another $100.00/year on a pen name that I’m not sure will take off just seems a bit much. (My Office 365 subscription, Canva Pro, and my WordPress subscription come to mind off the top of my head.) I’m going to release a duet and a standalone this year (and possibly a Christmas novel in November/December if I can find some Christmas spirit) to get my feet wet, and I think that will be a good enough gauge to see if my books are going to resonate with readers. I can upgrade at any time. Probably the most inconvenient thing about choosing the cheaper plan is that you can’t run a Facebook ad to your reader magnet. A lot of authors I know will run FB ads to their BookFunnel download page and let BookFunnel collect the reader’s email address for the newsletter signup before they can download the free content. BookDoggy will also promote your BookFunnel download link. Paying for newsletter signups is a bit controversial, but I’ve heard good things about running Facebook ads to your BookFunnel link to grow your mailing list. I just want to test out my books first to see if there’s even an audience there before spending more money. I’ll have my newsletter sign up in the backs of my books, the cover of the reader magnet, and the blurb to entice readers to sign up.

The downloading page is beautiful. Here’s the page to my reader magnet:

The landing page displays the entire blurb, but this is what it looks like before you scroll down. I’m not going to share the link with you, but I do offer a short story, and I’ll share that link with you now.

I had an idea for what to do with a short story that I wrote a couple of years ago. It doesn’t have a happy ending, doesn’t fit in with the brand I’m trying to create for myself, and I had no idea what to do with it. It sat in a notebook for a long time, and when I was writing the second book of my duet, I had an idea of what to use it for. In my second book, Talia, my FMC, gives her email address to Beau, the MMC. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and there was a phone number in the book I was reading, I dialed it. If only to hear the “That number is not in service, please check the number and dial again” recording. I’ve always been curious, always wanting to know what, where, when and why (and the name of the dog), and I’m still like that. It drives my kids and sister crazy. Anyway, when Talia gives her email address to Beau, I thought, what if someone emailed that address and what if Talia responded? It’s a fun Easter egg probably no one will ever figure out, but if you email her address, you’ll receive an autoresponder message that thanks the reader for emailing, apologizes that she can’t get back to you personally, but as a thank you for emailing, please download a short story she had to write for English class (she’s in college in the book). I created an email address for her– taliajeanscott(at)gmail(dot)com –and set up a vacation autoresponder with the BookFunnel link inside it. Was it a lot of work probably for nothing, yes. But I don’t think I would have bothered to do it if I hadn’t had the short story already written.

If you want to test out BookFunnel as a reader to see what your readers will get if you use it, you can download Talia’s short story as a demo. Be careful if you read it–it’s 5 chili peppers on the heat scale–which is another reason I felt I didn’t have anything to do with it. I write open-door sex scenes, but nothing like that short story that borders on erotica, I think. Anyway, here’s the link, and a picture of the landing page if you don’t care about downloading it: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/xwng7qjy2w

Yes, I had to format the short story with Vellum (another writerly purchase, but has earned back what I paid and much more), add the copyright page and author’s note in the back, and I created the book cover with Canva using a Deposit Photo stock photo. It probably was a whole lot of work for little gain, but it was something fun, so whatever. I’m not the first author to provide Easter eggs in their books, and these days, we’re all looking for a bit of an edge over the competition. Feel free to steal this from me, and if you do, I hope it works for you!


There are a lot of benefits to using BookFunnel, and I barely touched on any of them, mostly because I haven’t had the chance to try out everything they offer. I’ve heard a lot about how you should have your own newsletter built up before attempting to join any promos for building your list, and I”m not interested in using BF for that… yet. I would like to grow my list organically first, from the sign up link in the back of my books, though I know that could double or triple the time it will take for me to grow my list. But, that’s getting ahead of myself considering I don’t have even one person signed up for my newsletter yet. Hopefully that will change in April when I release my first book.

If you want to hear Damon Courtney talk about BookFunnel at the 20booksto50k Vegas conference last November, you can watch it here.


There’s not a whole lot going on for me besides just keeping on keeping on. I’m trying my best to remain optimistic, but with my impending release, that’s getting easier. I haven’t published for so long, it’s giving me something to look forward to. I didn’t remember how much work it is. No wonder I’ve spent the past two years burying my head in the sand and just writing.

I think that’s all I got for today. I hope you have a lovely week ahead!

Until next time!

Tentative launch plan for my duet: thinking aloud and plans for the next three months

It’s a nice thought!

Happy first Monday of 2022! I hope the start of the new year has gone well for all of you!

Two days ago I was thinking about writing another book. It would be a reader magnet for my newsletter, but in the end, I talked myself out of it. I’ve been saying for a while now that I want to start launching some of my books, and I can’t do that if I’m writing. In 2022 I’ve decided to play to my strengths, or at the very least, try to co-exist with them and I can’t write one book while writing or editing another. It will be easier for me to accept it and postpone something new because I’d never get any of my older books off the ground. So I gave myself a pat on the back, even though this book is all plotted out and I even played with covers. I’ll write it after my duet is set and ready to go, and not a minute before.

So, now that that crisis has been averted, I can start to drill down on what I need to get done for these two books. I’m still going to try to launch in April. Being that I still have to listen to both books to make sure I don’t have any typos and I still proofread the paperback proofs no matter what, a mid-April release day for the first book should be doable.

So here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. This week I’m going to look at comparison authors and titles for ad keywords. I already have been doing this a little when I was doing cover research. Billionaire is all over the place now with everything from models in color, to black and white, to objects. I can’t get a bead on anything that’s trending definitely, except it seems a single male still graces more covers than a couple. I have a small list of the big-named authors that dominate the top 100 on Amazon, but I’m also going to dig deeper and make a list of mid-list authors that I may not have heard of that are still doing well. Publisher Rocket is great for finding out info on the “competition” and that software will let me know if it’s worth my time to add them to my comp author list.
  2. This week I’m also going to write my blurbs and try for feedback in the romance groups I’m most active in. I read T. Taylor’s 7 FIGURE FICTION: How to Use Universal Fantasy to SELL Your Books to ANYONE and pulling out the universal fantasies from my books and building blurbs around them makes a lot of sense. You can grab the book, and also join the Facebook group here. Asking for feedback has always been iffy for me a) because I’m not always as active as I should be and you should never ask for a favor unless you’ve already give one and b) a lot of what I’ve been told just hasn’t been helpful. I wrote a blog post about asking for blurb feedback and you can read it here.
  3. I’ve said for months I’m going to create a list of newsletter promos that don’t require a minimum number of reviews. I’ve been sitting on this for months because I haven’t needed it, but it will be a great resources for people, so what I need to do is settle in with a snack, put on some music, and just get it done. I have list after list of promo sites, I just need to go onto each website and break them down. Starting up a new pen name without any reader group/newsletter/ARC giveaways pretty much guarantees me to releasing with 0 reviews. But even though I didn’t get the best results with Booksprout, I wasn’t writing to market as well as I could have been, so giving that site a try with my new books might be something I’ll consider. I have come to realize that if you use Booksprout correctly and publish frequently, it’s a place on its own where you can build a community of readers who will snap up every book you put up for reviews. Changing my mindset may be helpful considering it will take a while to build my own reader group, and nurturing a community on Booksprout may be faster, at least for this year’s releases. If you want to read about my Booksprout experience, you can look here. If you’re curious about the review site, you can look here.

So that’s what I have going on this week–mostly a lot of busy work while I give the books time to rest. During the last two passes I made some changes to the breadcrumbs I had to leave for the characters to solve the mystery part of the plot, and I want to give myself space so the next time I read them through I can see if the changes make sense.

In the meantime, I can nail down the covers I’ve been playing with. Because of the feedback, I switched out both of the models and changed up the background, so it was helpful. The covers for these two books hold a lot of weight because not only are they setting the tone for what’s inside, but they’re also setting the tone for my entire catalogue of books going forward and my author brand. There was no point in niching down if my branding isn’t consistent. That’s another reason why making a list of comp authors by hand instead of letting Publisher Rocket pull a list for me is really important. I need to make sure I’m aligning myself with the correct authors. Here’s what I have so far:

Part of the problem with asking for feedback is that people will throw out solutions like you know how to do those things. When you have limited capabilities like I do, it can be tough to follow everyone’s advice. I asked for feedback for the guy on Addicted‘s cover because I’m not 100% I like the shadow on his forehead, but when everyone told me how to “fix” it, I had no clue, so watch out for that. I can’t use photo manipulation software in a way a lot of authors and graphic designers can, I can usually only look for a different stock photo or try my best with what I know in GIMP. Chances are I’m making a big deal over nothing because both models have shadows. It’s probably more important that they look cohesive and that they belong together as a set.


Finally? A reader magnet? I’ve only been talking about it for months….

Talking with my significant other, he gave me the idea to go ahead and use My Biggest Mistake as a reader magnet. It’s a 74k standalone, and with the way I have my publishing schedule set up, I won’t be publishing it for a while. It’s already edited, formatted and has a cover. What this means is I would have to figure out BookFunnel in a hurry. I have the barebones of my newsletter signup worked out, though I do have a MailerLite course by Holly Darling that purchased on Black Friday for my birthday that I haven’t started yet, either. I have a landing page set up with the welcome email. I think all I would need to do is create an account with BookFunnel and download the book files and add the BookFunnel link to my welcome email for the download. I probably do have time to do all that, but it’s my nature to watch tutorials and see how others do it before trying to do anything myself. Considering that it’s my shortest standalone and that I don’t have plans to publish it anytime soon, I think it makes sense to use it as a reader magnet for the next little while. It doesn’t change too much for me, just adds more to my to-do list that needs to be completed by April because I’ll need to have it all in place for the duet’s back matter.

It really is no wonder why indies have it so tough these days. So much jumping through hoops to play the game.

My inspiration quote for you for 2022 🙂

The last thing I’ll need to do is get all my files ready and submit a preorder for book two so I have have the link available to put in the back matter of book one. It’s not that I like preorders or think they’re beneficial, especially since my audience will be in KU and they don’t preorder books, but in this case, I need them up so I can claim my Amazon Author page and my Goodreads profile. It’s been so long since I’ve done either of those that it’s going to take me a couple days to figure it out again. I can also start running low cost-per-click ads to the preorder and test my keywords to see if I get any impressions and clicks. I’m going to release at full price, though I’m not sure what that will be. Prices are rising, and $2.99 books are considered on the lower-end of pricing. I may bump up to $3.99, maybe even $4.99 since I’m not targeting people who will buy my books, though if they wanted to, I wouldn’t argue. No, my target audience is the whale readers who devour books in KU. I’ll have to up my prices on paperbacks, too, because the of the paper shortages. It’s really too bad because I’ve always tried to keep my paperback books affordable, but IngramSpark is raising the cost of their fees. Between that and the cost of paper, it’s expensive to publish through IS these days. I know one thing, if you put your price on your back cover, IngramSpark makes you match the price in your account, so if you don’t want to keep tweaking your cover, don’t put the price on the back. I’m not even sure if I’m going to publish with Ingram with this new pen name. I probably will, but I just don’t know if the effort is worth it.


So, I have a lot to keep me busy, and of course I’ll keep you guys updated! I’ll have a lot of new experiences to write about in the coming weeks. I hope you all had a fantastic start to the new year!

Until next time!

2022 Goals, Plans, Process, and Learning about Yourself.

When we start a new year, we always have a ton of plans. In the past two years, a lot of those plans have been derailed by COVID, but we’ve (hopefully) made the best of it.

I’ve been struggling lately to figure out how I want my publishing schedule to go moving forward. I’ve read a lot about consistency, not only what (sub)genre you write in, or how long your books are, but also when you release them. I’ve seen firsthand with this blog how posting consistently can build a readership, and I don’t think it’s any different for books. So, I’ve been trying to figure out what will work for me and create a schedule that I can maintain going forward for years to come.

The problem is, you need to know a lot about yourself before you can plan out something like that. Here’s what I’ve learned by taking a look at how I’ve worked and how I’ve spent my time in the last two years, which, to be fair, isn’t as accurate as it could have been because of the pandemic, and I know others are in the same situation. Still, I’ve been working from home for the past year, and my health issue aside, things have calmed into a lifestyle that will be constant for the foreseeable future. This is a list of discoveries I’ve put together that will hopefully help me develop good work habits that I can keep going.

  1. I have to shower and do my hair and makeup for the day–even if I’m not going anywhere. When I started working from home, it took me a week or two to realize that I can’t get anything done in my pajamas or skip taking a shower. To feel professional, I need to look somewhat professional. My kids make fun of me and my sister teases me, but I just feel better. I don’t have a desk and do a lot of my writing on my bed (space and privacy are hard to come by in our tiny little apartment) but I’m more productive and not prone to take a nap, either, which can be a time suck because when I nap, I nap. I’ve stopped trying to figure this out and I just go with it. The first thing I do after I take my daughter to school is shower, and I always get ready for work as if I’m going into the office, even though I’m just logging into my computer in the bedroom.
  2. I don’t like writing fiction in the morning. Not because I can’t function before noon, but because I find my creative spark in the evenings. I’ve learned, over time, that if I didn’t have to get up in the mornings for anything, I’d probably write from about 8pm until 2am, and sleep in the next morning. Because I can’t do that, I have to work around it. I usually write in the afternoons from noon to 3pm, and this is when I get a lot of my writing done on my days off. I also write as soon as dinner is over (in the winter, this works especially well as it’s already dark by 5pm–I love to write in the dark!) until I have to go to bed around 10pm. Knowing this is helpful because I can use the mornings after I get my daughter to school and shower to blog, create ads, and submit my books for promos. I can do administration stuff before noon and turn on my creative brain for the rest of the day.
  3. I can write a 85k book in about six to eight weeks. That’s not bad (some authors are a lot faster), but I’ve never timed how long it takes me to do the rest. And by “the rest” I mean edit it, get the feedback from betas I need to feel good about the story, format it, create the cover, and load everything (ebook, paperback, large print) into KDP. In the years I’ve been publishing, I have come to the frustrating realization that editing will always take longer than I think it will, and creating the cover always takes a long time because I need to research what’s trending in the market, find the stock photos I would need, and experiment with fonts, placement, etc. I don’t want to hire out, and I will avoid it for as long as possible. So, I can write a book in six weeks, but the editing and the rest of the production can also take another six weeks. This is something I definitely need to know so I never miss a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, or a preorder date.
  4. I have no problem getting things done, but giving myself daily to-do list is always going to be a waste of time. I’m good with things I need to get done on a macro-level. “Finish writing the book this month” is a good example of how I can put something huge on my to-do list and get it done, but breaking things down into micro-level daily tasks will never work. This is why I’ve never been able to work with planners. This was actually a huge revelation for me. Like today, I didn’t plan on doing a blog post. I was going to write on my book all day, but this idea popped into my head, and I decided to write the core of it down for Monday. I think I can work around this mental block, and I’m going to plan weekly and monthly goals. I’ll plan out what I want to do for the week, say write 20,000 words on my WIP, do a blog post, and search for stock photo models, and then, instead of trying to force myself into a daily schedule, write down at night before I go to bed what I’ve managed to accomplish. Hopefully, if I plan Monday to Monday, by Sunday night I’ll have everything crossed off my list and I can start a new list for the following week.
  5. I will always write before anything else. This is a such a big pro that I hate to turn it into a con. I mean, if you don’t have books, you can’t do the rest, so I’ve always given myself a pass when it comes to getting other things done. I don’t like writing blurbs. I like creating covers, but I don’t like having to put together the full wrap for a paperback, or creating a separate full wrap for IngramSpark, or loading to either KDP or IngramSpark. Vellum makes formatting easy, but it’s still not writing and passing it off to a formatter would only cause more work because I need to be able access to my files to change back matter when necessary. On the other hand, if you’re not willing to suck it up and do the parts you don’t like, no one will ever be able to read your books because they’ll be held captive on your computer. What this means going forward is I’m going to have to start rewarding myself for the non-writing tasks that get done when a book is in production and after it’s published. I don’t take time to celebrate, and because I love the writing part of it so much, I don’t take much of a break between projects, either.
  6. My tunnel vision will always make things harder. I work on one book and one book only. I know how much faster my schedule could go if I could edit one book in the early afternoon and write on a different WIP in the evening. Tunnel vision is another area where it’s too good of a pro to be considered a con. I never EVER get distracted by shiny object syndrome. Yes, I can get antsy toward the end of writing a book, look forward to new characters and a new plot, especially if I’m writing a series, but I have never abandoned a WIP to write something new. I will finish a book and edit it and only then move on to the next set of characters. Unfortunately, like I said, this can slow me down, and I’ll have to make peace with that.

It’s all fine and good to have goals, but if you don’t understand your own processes and personal limitations, it will be difficult for you to reach those goals. You might have noticed I don’t have many external obstacles. My children are older (my son is 22 and still lives with me and does the bulk of the chores around the apartment, and my daughter is 16 and self-sufficient) so they don’t take up much time. I’m divorced. I work from home now which has eliminated driving time to and from work. I don’t have much stress. I like my job, and I don’t have many commitments besides movie night with my sister on Tuesdays. If you have little kids or you have a demanding day job, you’ll have to adjust your goals accordingly. I don’t watch much TV. If you’re juggling three or four different shows, you’ll have to work around that lost writing time. Looking at your daily schedule, your weekly schedule, and your monthly schedule can give you an idea of where your time goes and how you can create attainable goals for yourself.

I did buy a planner for myself, and what prompted me to take a look at what I have going on internally that could interfere with a writing/producing/publishing schedule is Elana Johnson’s book, Writing and Marketing Systems.

I had to buy the planner, it was just too cute not to. While I’ve tried to use planners before, I’ve never succeeded, but hopefully using it in a different way will help.

It’s frustrating to work so hard and not feel like you’re going anywhere. I want to climb out of my rut and start making some things happen. What are you going to do for 2022 to dig yourself out of your own rut? Let me know!

Until next time!