Author Update and Monday Musings

Well, I finally finished my first rockstar romance–the book that turned into a trilogy. It topped out at 107,709 words, and I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s fine. That word count will change when I edit it, adding more foreshadowing to the next book (now that it is very loosely plotted out) and after some beta feedback, maybe there will be a scene or two that I can cut (though after reading that, a scene or two won’t help with the overall word count, haha).

It felt like it took me forever to write this book, when in reality, it wasn’t that long.

According to the file information, I created the file on November 10th, and I finished on January 28th. That’s 78 days, and 1,380 words per day. If you ever feel like a project of this scope is out of your reach, just remember, that’s fewer words per day than what’s required to win NaNoWriMo. I don’t write every day, and some days I’ll have a 0 word count and other days I’ll make up for it with a 5k day. You have to find a system that works for you, and if you have a problem with productivity, I recommend Elana Johnson’s book. It helps to know what kind of author you are as well, and she can help you figure it out.

I don’t have too much else to share. My third book in my trilogy should be live when you read this. The books on my VM Rheault Goodreads page are all messed up because subtitles on the ebooks don’t match the paperback and there are two entries for the same book. I asked in the librarians group to fix Rescue Me when that happened and the last time I checked, they hadn’t. When Safe & Sound is live and the ebook is posted over there, I’ll ask again to fix Rescue Me and the entire trilogy. I hate going over there, I hate inadvertently looking at my ratings. When you’re on your profile you practically have no choice, and I hate having to be there for anything at all.

Speaking of reviews, there was so much talk about them last week on Twitter and it drove me insane. One author complained about a 1 star review, and she received so much support. I don’t understand. I don’t understand complaining, and I don’t understand those people who say, “It’s says more about them than it says about your book.” Are you for real? I’m pissy enough right now to say, SOME BOOKS DESERVE ONE STAR REVIEWS! Not every book on the planet is going to be worth 5 stars, or even 4 stars, and her complaining got her called out on TikTok and grabbed her a couple more one stars on Goodreads. She said she wanted a supportive place to vent, but a public Twitter profile is not a supportive, or safe, place. There are no private places on the Internet. The only way you can be private on Twitter is if you lock your profile down, and if you’re on there to network and sell books you won’t cut off your reach that way. Blocking people won’t help–anyone can easily open an incognito window and search your name or create a fake account to stalk you with. There are crazies who screenshot everything because they have no life. She said she deleted that tweet, but I’m sure that tweet still lives on in many many computers and phones.

What bothers me the most though, and what authors can’t seem to understand, is that if you’re using Twitter as a promotional tool, you’re using it to find readers, and it’s no longer an author space for you but a reader space. You shouldn’t complain about reviews or sales because your READERS are seeing that. If you launch a book and you’re tweeting about it all day for weeks on end, but you only grabbed three or four sales out of all that promo, the last thing you should do is complain about it in the very space you were looking for readers. It’s disrespectful to the people who did buy your book. A reader space and an author space is NOT the same place, and I see this all the time. If I see you promo and then in the next breath complain you have no sales, that is a sure fire way for me not to want to buy any of your books. I’m on Twitter to network, share publishing news, and if I mention I published something, it’s to prove I walk my talk. I can’t tweet about writing, publishing, and marketing if I’m not doing those things. It’s silly, and I learned early on the very best thing I could do for my books was to separate what I do online into two areas: my nonfiction like this blog and Twitter, and my fiction like my newsletter and ads.

I’m only at 800 words right now, so let me tell you a little story–I have a friend who is a staunch MAGA supporter. Very vocal about it. (I’m not sorry to say I muted her.) Some people don’t like your political views thrown into their faces, and she kept saying she wasn’t going to hide who she was. Okay. You’re not hiding keeping something to yourself, but whatever. So she was supposed to be part of this anthology, and she was so vocal about her MAGA support that her editor had to cancel the anthology. No one wanted to work with her or the editor since the editor was affiliated with her. This caused her to apologize profusely, but the damage was already done. You don’t have to tell everybody everything about yourself, and you certainly don’t have to put every little thing online. Sometimes it pays off, like Chelsea Banning going viral, and sometimes it doesn’t. I guess only you can weigh the pros and cons of sharing something like that.

Surprisingly, that’s all I have to share. I hope you were able to accomplish a lot this first month of the new year!

See you next week!

Plot Twist! Turning a standalone into a trilogy.

While I was writing, as I am wont to do for 30 hours a week because I don’t have a life, I stumbled upon something that was a surprise I honestly didn’t see it coming. It’s not entirely unwelcome, but it will put a wrench in my plans for this year. If you follow the blog at all, you’ll know I’m almost done with a rockstar standalone. At 94k at the moment of this writing, I know exactly what I need to finish up–how many words I’ll need is another thing, but no more than 20k, for sure. It’s a long book about a depressed and washed up rockstar whose manager hires a life coach to get him back on track to record another album. This rockstar has bandmates, and they’ve been kind of hanging out, literally and figuratively, and I had no plans whatsoever to give them their own stories…until I wrote this line on Thursday evening….

Brock sighs, and I understand all that sigh encompasses. An end of an era, but the start of a life they’re unsure of. They don’t have Liv in their corner, a future with a woman they love. Divorced and single, they’ve been drifting since Derrick’s death, the band the only thing anchoring them to the ground. If Ghost Town disappears, they’ll have nothing.

Twisted Lies and Alibis by VM Rheault

That made me sad… I don’t want to leave Brock and Eddie with nothing, even if I don’t know who they are, even if I haven’t invested in them one little bit and in my head they are completely interchangeable.

And so began the idea to turn this standalone into a trilogy….but it will require some work. Here’s what I’ll have to do:

Turn the secondary characters into people and write them into the story. Like I just said, I didn’t consider them anything more than prop characters and they barely have families much less backstories and almost no page time besides brief scenes here and there. Readers will need to get invested in their lives and who they are as people or they won’t care there are books about them. That may require some rewriting on my part and giving them more page time. Usually when I write a series, I plan them out first allowing me to foreshadow what will happen in the other books. They both have children and ex-wives, and that’s about as far as I got. Not a good foundation for two more books.

Who would their love interests be? This is a tough one because I had to sort out who I’ve already mentioned and how I could turn them into romantic partners for my characters. This book is about Sheppard Carpenter who is having an issue moving forward when one of his bandmates dies in a freak accident on stage and it triggers his depression. The bandmate, Derrick, who passed away, left a wife behind, and depending on why they were married and for how long, I think that could work. I don’t know anything about Clarissa, either (even her name is a placeholder because I’m not sure if she’s going to keep it), except she was filing for divorce at the time of her husband’s untimely death, and that could work in my favor. Olivia, the life coach who is helping Sheppard, wrote a self-help book some time ago and has an agent she’s still friends with who could potentially be the other love interest. I made her old…in her sixties, but that’s an easy fix. But book one is set in California, and Agatha’s based in Minnesota. How would they meet, and what’s her story? The possibilities are there, and that’s what counts.

What are their backstories? A good romance needs two people who have a lot to overcome to be together. Since I’m working with a primarily clean slate besides their names and a mention or two of their families, the sky’s the limit….but I’ll need to sit and brainstorm because I need to think of the tropes and emotional wounds I haven’t used before. The tropes aren’t so bad–they’re easy to change to differentiate one book from another, but unique tragic backstories, or front stories for that matter, need a bit more creative juice and in the best case scenario, I’ll figure them out soon so I can plant seeds in this first book. The best series string readers along so they have no choice but to read the next book and the next book. If I can’t even imply what book two will be about, you can forget read-through.

How long will these books be? I was thinking the standalone would be 110k, but if I kept up that pace, we’re looking at another 220,000 words. Sheppard’s and Olivia’s character arcs are long….they need space because they are both grappling with so much and they have so much to overcome mental health-wise for them to be together. I might be too close to my story, but for now, all my scenes seem to be needed for their character development, so we’ll see. I’m still writing it and I haven’t reread from the beginning. I also already have a couple betas lined up so maybe they can help me cut it down a little bit. I’m not opposed to longer stories, but if I have two more books in the works at 110k a piece, I’m looking at a minimum of another 6 months of writing. But, if I do keep the books that long, at 330,000 words, it will be my second biggest project (my 6-book series is over half a million words long, and my 4-book small town winter series is 288,000 words).

Covers. I already had a tentative cover if this was going to be a standalone, and quite honestly, I’m getting tired of doing my own. Doing standalones is a lot easier than coming up with a concept I can handle with my limited skills and finding stock images that I haven’t used before but accurately portray how old my male characters usually are is getting harder and harder. You can tease me all you want, but I’m not cutting their heads in half, no matter how much easier that would make my life. I’m also up against Amazon’s advertising guidelines, and I’m not popular enough to sell books by my name alone. I said a long time I don’t care if they reject my ads, but it’s a lie. Amazon ads are a big part of my marketing, and if I can’t advertise a trilogy, that’s page reads down the drain. So knowing I would have to do three covers instead of one is a small deterrent, but nothing that would keep me from the project.

Covers Update: As I wrote this blogpost on Thursday, I did some cover experimenting on Friday, flipping through stock photos for hours and hours. Literally, hours and hours. But, I think it might have paid off as I came up with a tentative concept for the trilogy. I was so pleased I found the cover models, I have already purchased them (do you know how difficult it is to find men that look like old rockstars???), and since I always let you in on my creative process, I’ll show you what I came up with. For some reason I don’t feel the doubt (and still feel, to be honest) that I did with the trilogy that’s releasing right now, but I still can’t say for sure if these will end up being the final thing. They kind of appear washed out and I may need to change the background, but I used screenshots and they’re grainy, so we’ll see what working with proper photos will do. It’s funny, while doing research for rockstar romances, that there isn’t one definite kind of cover. Of course, there are shirtless men galore, but I can’t go that way, and besides maybe a stage/audience in the background, there are no similar styles. A lot of times, like mine, the model isn’t even holding a guitar. That can be good for a designer in terms of flexibility, but bad for creating something that will for sure work to bring in sales. Anyway, I’ve never been one for a cover reveal, so here they are with tentative titles–those definitely are subject to change:


All in all, it sounds like I’m going to do it, especially since I have covers now, and it would be a nice addition to my backlist. It puts a glitch into my publishing schedule though, as I was going to put out two more standalones after my trilogy releases before I start publishing my 6-book series. I’m only pushing back my series because I really really really wanted some kind of audience already in place when I release these books. I honestly think they are going to either make or break my career (think Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series)… and I wanted to give them the best possible chance. I can only do that if I have some branding and a backlist in place already. I’m growing my newsletter, and I’ll be looking at promo opportunities through Bookfunnel as soon as THIS trilogy releases in full. The second book is out today, and I have had some good feedback on the first book. Releasing another trilogy before the series goes live would be great, but I need time to write. I have a standalone (billionaire’s fake fiancé trope) already queued up for April, and if I waited until July or even August, that gives me 7 months to finish this trilogy before I start needing something to release. That’s kind of pushing it, but as I have been dragging my feet with this book anyway, it would give me a deadline to work toward. Had I known this was going to happen, I would have strung out the Lost & Found Trilogy a little more, releasing two weeks apart instead of just one to buy me a more time, but that’s okay. That just means less time on Twitter, which is no big loss. I’ll miss touching base with some of my friends, but all the negativity is getting me down again. When authors have to drag other authors down so they feel good about themselves, that’s when I have to cut out. If you think you can write better, then go do that, publish, and market your bestseller. It’s obvious people like that think they have one, so prove it. Shut your mouth and go do that. Jealousy looks terrible and I hope one day their bitterness bites them in the butt.


If you want to read more about turning a standalone into a series, here are a couple of articles that helped me:

Writing A Series – And How to Grow A Series from a Standalone Book by Kate Frost

The Essential Guide for Writing a Series vs. a Standalone Novel
Written by Kyla Jo Magin in Fiction Writing


That is all I have for this post and I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Have a good week!

Monday Motivation and My Word for 2023

Happy Monday! We are now nine days into the new year, and I’ve always been a big fan of beginning how you wish to continue. Sometimes that’s not always possible as we learn new things along the way, but setting manageable goals and ways to get there instead of expecting too much of yourself and getting burnt out is a recipe for self-esteem issues, a hit to your confidence, and an overall sense of failure. Instead of trying to do all the things, tell yourself you’ll make one positive change this year that will help you get closer to your goals. That might be learning ONE ad platform, finding ONE podcast you like and going for a walk while you listen to it, or signing up for an informative newsletter (or starting your own!).

So my word for 2023 is INFORMATION. I’ve always been really surprised (shocked really) that more indies don’t care what’s going on in the industry. They’re an author, a publisher, a small business, yet they don’t care about learning what’s going on in the publishing world. It’s mystifying to me that when Draft2Digital bought Smashwords how many indies didn’t know what that was. Smashwords has only been around since the beginning of indie publishing and was one of the first distributors for authors if they wanted to sell their ebooks wide. That’s one example of how not keeping your fingers on the pulse of the publishing world can hurt you and your sales in the long run. They were missing out on one of the largest ebook sellers online! Not to mention Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has given a lot of great interviews over the years that I have enjoyed listening to. Take an interest in the industry that you made into your career (or at least an important hobby) and stay on top of news in the publishing world and your genre.

In the past year or so I’ve been lax with listening to podcasts and keeping up with my Clubhouse rooms. When all you want to do is write, it’s tough to find time, especially if you have a day job and kids or other responsibilities. But I have to remind myself I don’t need to listen to all the things or read all the newsletters and blog posts and I only have to listen to one or two every week or skim a couple of newsletters when I empty out my email box. You never know when you’ll hear a nugget of information that will elevate your career to the next level, or maybe you’ll hear something you can pass along to a fellow indie that will help them with their business.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for 2023. While I don’t listen to every single podcast episode or read every newsletter, I like to subscribe and at least skim the subject lines in my email to make sure I’m not missing information I’m interested in.

Newsletters and blogs I’ve subscribed to:

Jane Friedman’s Electric Speed is great for publishing news. I love all things Jane, and recommend listening to her podcast appearances, reading her blog, and grabbing a copy of her book, The Business of Being a Writer. While you may not think traditional publishing news is worth knowing, what the Big 5 do and the choices they make do affect us. She gives equal time to both trad and indie publishing, and hosts many affordable writing/publishing/marketing classes. I’ve taken some of them, and if you’re not following Jane, you’re missing out. Sign up for her newsletter and blog here: https://www.janefriedman.com/free-newsletter/

Jeffrey Bruner/Fussy Librarian. Fussy Librarian is a paid promo newsletter and I while I haven’t used them yet (planning to next month when my trilogy is released) they have an excellent newsletter full of curated blog articles all in one place. I love skimming their articles and sharing bits on Twitter. You can subscribe here: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/newswire/for-authors/subscribe. And I will definitely share how my promo does!

Written Word Media. Written Word Media is home to promo newsletters like Freebooksy, Bargainbooksy, and Red Feather Romance. They host a yearly indie survey and blog about publishing trends in marketing. I’ve used their promos to great success (the Freebooksy I paid for in November moved almost 3,000 books and I’m still getting read-through). You may not care about trends, but they are my favorite thing. They tell you what readers are reading, what they’re interested in, and to an indie who wants to find readers, that can be invaluable. You can sign up here: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/sign-up/

Draft2Digital. I can’t mention them without suggesting you sign up for their blog! While Draft2Digital is used by authors going wide with their ebooks, they still offer lots of information to authors in KU. I love Dan Wood, Kevin Tumlinson and Mark Lefebvre, part of the D2D team. They are doing such great things for indies such as the free ebook/paperback formatting tool that is available even if you don’t use them to publish. What’s fun is both Kevin and Mark are indie authors so they know what indie author life is all about. If you don’t have an account with them, you can bookmark their blog here: https://www.draft2digital.com/blog/

BookBub. Even if you’ve never used their ads before or tried for a BookBub Featured Deal, you probably try to maintain a profile there, maybe even ask readers to follow you. Their author blog is full of marketing advice and if you like making graphics, they show you the best ways to make an impact on readers. I love their blog and I recommend their articles on Twitter frequently. You can sign up here: https://insights.bookbub.com/

Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur has a wealth of information on his blog, and reading all his tips and tricks and using his free tools feels almost illegal. I purchased Publisher Rocket years ago and have never regretted it, but there are a lot of free things he offers too, such as a QR code generator and barcode generator for paperback books. He stays on top of industry news and his blog is a great place to keep up to date. You can sign up here: https://kindlepreneur.com/

Getcovers. You may think this is an odd choice of a newsletter, but being that I create my own covers, their tips are actually a lot of fun to read. I love looking at the covers they create from stock photos and every once in a while I try to duplicate them. If I ever get tired of doing my own, this is where I’ll go, and you can sign up for their newsletter here: https://getcovers.com/blog/

Once you get going with some of these, you’ll find others to sign up for. I also get newsletters from Matthew J Holmes about Amazon Ads, Bryan Cohen about Amazon ads and other industry news items (sign up for his January ads challenge that starts on the 11th and you’ll be added to his email list), Tiffany Yates Martin and her editing blog, Nick Thacker and his curated blog of industry articles, Joanna Penn (more on her later) and her blog and podcast, and David Gaughran who has a wonderful blog and YouTube channel regarding all things indie. That might be a lot, but this industry is a fast business and thing move quickly.

But if you’re like me and like to get stuff done while listening, here are the podcasts and YouTube channels I can’t live without:

Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn. I love all her interviews and the sections she has at the beginning filling us in on what she’s been doing and her Futurist segment are favorites of mine. You can follow on YouTube, and she also will let you know when she has a new episode if you follow her blog. Here’s an interview between her and Jane Friedman I’ve been salivating to listen to. I just need to get my crap together and stop watching Turkish dramas.


Another podcast I love listening to is Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula. One of my most favorite interviews they’ve done is with Melanie Harlow. I think I mentioned her interview before, but if you’re a romance author, definitely devour anything she has to say about writing and craft. She’s phenomenal and you can learn a lot from her and the podcast as a whole.


The last is the Six Figure Authors podcast. While they don’t record regularly anymore, they did record one extra episode since they retired. Their backlist of episodes is evergreen, however, and you can still learn a lot. I refer these two episodes to Twitter people more than any other, though not sure it does much good. Haha.


I love consuming information about the publishing industry. I love being able to help other authors with that knowledge by passing it along via this blog and Twitter when I’m over there. I’m still trying to break the habit, but it’s so easy to scroll and when I clean out my email I schedule tweets with useful blog articles I pick out of all the newsletters I’m subscribed to. Not really sure if it helps anyone, but it doesn’t take long to share and maybe it can help someone, no matter how insignificant.


I have a few things I’ve been doing the past week. I re-edited my novelette I published back in 2016. It was all telling gibberish and it took me a day and a half to pretty much rewrite it. I’m not sure how many felts, saws, wondered, realized, and heards I took out of it, but it’s a lot tighter now and I won’t feel bad anymore if someone happens upon it. I also added two more short stories I had sitting on my laptop because I didn’t feel right charging .99 for 10,000 words. That would be something I would give away if I were wide, but the best I can do is sell it for as cheaply as I can. I had to rework the other two stories, too, but they sound better. I published one on here a few years ago, and I had to trash the blog post as they are in KU now. The other one I’m going to turn into a series at some point. It’s about an attorney who lives underground a huge city with a certain population who doesn’t mix with people who live above. It’s actually kind of a throwback to Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman’s Beauty and the Beast I grew up watching. There’s something romantic about it, living underground, and I’ve been thinking about a project like that for a very long time. To get the dark vibes I’ll need, toward the end of this year after my other series is finished I’ll read lots of mafia. I want it dark and dirty. I’m showing my age, but I should watch this again. It probably didn’t age well, but it would be interesting too.

I’m still 72k into my rockstar romance. I was distracted by a Turkish drama that my friend Devika recommended on Twitter. It was good, and a craft lesson in writing a dual timeline if you’re interested in that kind of thing. The pacing was phenomenal, and while it didn’t end exactly as I wanted it to, I think all the characters had their HEAs in their own way. If you’re interested in 16 episodes of angst, and who isn’t, look up Love 101 on Netflix. It’s an Original Series, so you won’t find it anywhere else.

I’m going to finish my book this month. I started it in November, so I’m done messing around. My characters want their own HEA and I’m eager to finish a series I started two years ago. I have four books left and that will eat up the rest of my year.

Have a good week, everyone, and listen to Joanna’s interview with Jane! 🙂

Thursday Thoughts and Author Musings

Because Monday is my year-end recap, I can use today’s post to update you on the progress I’ve made this week.

I’m 56k into my new WIP. The book goes in fits and starts, but I’m getting there and should have it done by the middle of January if I can keep up a consistent pace. The longest book I’ve written is a standalone still on my computer in third draft stages that’s 97k words (and I have no idea when I’ll publish it). I don’t know how long this book is going to be, as they haven’t touched on a couple of bigger plot points and they still haven’t had sexytimes. They also haven’t had the 3rd act break up yet, but as a planster, I at least know what that is going to entail, just not how they’re going to get there.

I had a great idea to offer a Goodreads giveaway on the first book in my trilogy. I had a question if you’re allowed to participate in a giveaway while your book is enrolled in Kindle Select, and a Goodreads employee said it was allowed as you aren’t selling books on a different platform, only giving them away.

Under any other circumstance I would question this as even the FAQ at Booksprout said they recommend your book is not enrolled when it’s available for reviews, but since Amazon bought Goodreads and they’re connected, I’ll take it with a grain of salt and hope it’s true. If I get into trouble, it will be Tiana’s fault. LOL But we’ll see if my level of organizational skills is up to the challenge. I suspect not. I also have to figure out what my advertising budget is going to be for this trilogy. I want to give away the first in my duet to at least create some buzz for this pen name as well, but I was looking through the Vellum file for excerpts for graphics for my FB author page and found a couple of typos (of course I did) I should fix before I run any kind of promotion.

I sent out my newsletter for December, but I didn’t get the open rate or downloads I usually get in the past. I only had 8 downloads of the first in my trilogy (I opened it up to 30 downloads) and I had 5 people unsubscribe. I guess the unsubscribers aren’t totally uncommon, but I was hoping for more of a response to the ARC copies I made available through Bookfunnel. (If you want an ARC, you can click here.) I’ll go ahead and put it on my FB author page and see what happens. It’s been stagnant for a long time, and the only people who like my page now are friends and family.

I submitted Rescue Me to IngramSpark, and of course I didn’t do the cover correctly. There’s always something I’m doing wrong, and it usually takes a bit of moving the cover elements around because either they’re too far away from the spine or too close. KDP will publish you no matter if you have your cover bleeding onto the spine or not (in my case the spine is usually bleeding onto the front cover), and again, I wish Ingram had a visual for you to see when you upload your files instead of waiting for the review process for them to tell you that you messed up. I’ll fix it and resubmit. When I was doing Addicted to Her, I went around and around with them a couple of times before I got it right. Canva is great, but it’s too easy not to lay the template over the cover properly to determine where the spine boundaries are.

I don’t have that much else going on. I’m trying to promote more on my FB author page and my reader page. I just discovered that I DID set up a reader group and a reader page. I had to set up the page so I could run ads and I guess I set up the reader group so my readers would have a place to find me on Facebook if they wanted. I was scheduling posts on Canva and they were posting to my reader page and I was wondering why my reader group looked so bare. Now that I know I have both, I can choose which one when I use their scheduler. Though now that I’m posting to Instagram, my FB author page, and a reader group and page, I feel like my content is a bit thin. I know people do cross-post, but putting the same content four places seems a bit much, so I’m going to have to pick and choose where I want content to go, especially since right now my reader page and group don’t have any followers and my FB author page, like I said, only has family and friends following it right now. The last thing I want to do is get caught up in all that, or I’ll never write again.

After Christmas I’ll publish my trilogy paperbacks so I have links for Booksprout, and I can probably put my ebooks on preorder so their buy pages look complete. Doing covers for the hardbacks is the last thing I have to do for them besides publishing them to IngramSpark, but I’ll do that this summer when they’re well established on Amazon first. I’ll probably wait to hunt for typos in my duet (again) until after I finish writing Twisted Lies and Alibis. I’ve written on this book long enough (I started at the beginning of November, and I’m usually done with a book by now) and I want to get the first draft finished and let it breathe while I do other things.

A writer’s work is never done, and I probably will write all day Thursday and jump in on Sunday after my family and I celebrate Christmas. My daughter will be on winter break, and if I buckle in, I can get a lot written between Christmas as New Year’s Day. My 2023 looks bright, and I hope I can level up this year with my releases.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas if you celebrate and bring in the new year safely and with much love and happiness!

Monday Musings and Author Update

I don’t have much to share this week. I finished my edits for All of Nothing and Wherever He Goes. I uploaded the new interiors to KDP just fine, and the books are already live. IngramSpark is another matter entirely. The small edits created a page number change, and and I didn’t know this, but apparently no matter how many pages your interior changes, they make you adjust your cover. In All of Nothing, my interior changed by 200 words. That’s it. Not a significant change by any means, but they are still forcing me to tweak the cover. Same with Wherever He Goes. It’s insane, and I wish their uploading system was more like KDP in that you know right away if your cover is going to fit and you can adjust before your book even sees human eyes. It’s just a total pain the butt, and I swear, once those changes are approved, I am NEVER touching those books again. After I finish my rockstar romance I’ll have a bit of time and maybe I’ll go through The Years Between Us, maybe even my Rocky Point series, just for kicks because I really do like rereading my own books, and then I can walk away from those. I know you can’t keep going forward if you keep looking backward, but rereading my older books is fun and a break for me, so if I can edit them so they sound better, then it’s a win-win anyway.

I have been writing lately, and I’m 34k into my rockstar romance now. (I was at 28k when I was “stuck.”) I write my blogposts ahead of time, so I’m hoping by the time you read this I’ll actually be at 50k and planning the last 3rd of the book. I keep changing how I want it to end–do I want to go with a cliche and knock her up, or do I want to end it in a different way? I’ve never written an airport scene before, and I’m kind of in love with the idea of her going home and him chasing her to the airport and begging her to stay. I like both, so we’ll see what they decide to do when I get there. I also have to write the song he’s going to write in the book that sets his singing career back on track. That will be fun and I’m looking forward to it.


I wrote my newsletter for December yesterday and announced my trilogy release dates. I also gave them access to download the first book (the first 25 who want it, anyway) so those dates are set. I have to wait a couple more weeks before I put them up on Booksprout because when I do that, I have to publish the paperbacks so they can leave reviews on Amazon, and I don’t want the paperbacks up any longer than necessary when I’m holding the ebooks back.

I was also looking at promo sites, thinking I might try Ereader News Today and Fussy Librarian and do a free couple of days for Captivated by Her when the trilogy releases. But, I was actually forward-thinking for once, and decided not to book a promo until all the books in the trilogy are out for read-through. (I’m releasing them a week apart.) This old dog can be taught new tricks. Then I’ll put the first free in April when I have a new launch and hopefully a new book will boost me and a promo will give me attention. Ereader News Today looks kind of hardcore–they ask you for your book’s star rating, and with Captivated having hardly any reviews or ratings, I’m actually prepared for them to turn me down. There are other places I can try, like Robin Reads, so that’s not really a big deal, it’s scheduling my free days around the promo dates they have available that takes some organization, and you can’t wait too long because dates fill up. Anyway, so I just need some patience, just a couple more weeks of sitting on these books. Made up these cute graphics for my newsletter:

Female hands holding tablet with Give & Take's cover on white background with Christmas cones, snowflakes and confetti. Flat lay composition top view.

If you count sales from other books, and why not, because selling a book is selling a book, last week I earned back my fee from my Freebooksy promo. Not from the series, but all combined, and while I’m disappointed, at least I got my money back. If we’re only looking at sales of my series, I’m halfway to earning my fee back, but my promo isn’t even a month old yet, so that could still be possible. I would have been extremely disappointed if I hadn’t yet at all because I don’t like the idea of wasting money, but I knew I had a chance since I have in the past. I’ll keep an eye on it. I was surprised to see Ereader News Today was $76 dollars for a free romance feature. Fussy Librarian is $50. Robin Reads is $75 for a free steamy romance slot. These prices can be spendy so you want to make absolutely sure that your book is advertising ready. If you’re interested in buying a promo from any of these, here are the links:
Robin Reads: https://robinreads.com/genre-divide/
Ereader News Today: http://www.ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-and-free-book-submissions/
Fussy Librarian: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/advertising


Because it’s the end of the year, we’re thinking of 2023 and all the ways we can do better. I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. Either you want to do those things or you don’t and promising yourself you’ll do them won’t get you very far if you don’t want to. But, I understand the need for goals (a dream is only a wish without a plan, blah blah blah) and one of the things I said I wanted to work on next year is my social media activity. I don’t mean hanging out on Twitter picking fights about giving away books, either (though it is fun and degrading at the same time like bad drunk sex). I saw in an FB group where they were recommending social media planners and kits to help with posts and ideas for engagement, and I bought the one from Stephanie Burdett (my bank did not like her, either, and flagged the purchase as fraud that I had to approve). She has a lot of prompts for both social media and blog/newsletter ideas, so the $27 was worth it to me. I don’t have to wrack my brain to think up something every day and I’m hoping it will alleviate the stress of posting. I’m not going to use these prompts on Twitter (I’ll drunk tweet on there instead), I’m going to focus on my Facebook Author page (that I rebranded as VM Rheault) and my V’s Vixens Read Romance page, at least so when I run ads if I get a follower or a like there the page won’t seem so empty. If you want to take a look at it, you can find it here: https://stephanieburdett.com/sm-calendar-fiction-authors/


That’s all I have for today. If I want to make it to 50k by the end of the weekend, I better get writing on my book. Coming up is my end-of-the-year recap and my 2023 plan and goals. Thanks for reading!

Getting reviews and my second try with BookSprout

We all know how important book reviews are. Hell, any review has value. When you’re going to spend a lot of money on a TV, car, a large appliance, or if you want to see if a piece of clothing is made correctly and fits the way it should, the first thing you do as a consumer is look at the reviews. As often as I look at reviews to weigh whether or not a purchase is worth it, I rarely, if ever, leave a review on a product, including books. If I read a non-fiction book I have particularly enjoyed or I thought it was helpful for what I bought it for, I may leave a review, but more than likely, I’ll recommend it on Twitter or on this blog first. As an indie author, leaving reviews is a touchy subject, and when it comes to peers, it seems if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say it at all. Because if you leave a so-so or bad review, that’s opening the door for your peers to retaliate. Not everyone can take constructive criticism and there’s no point in self-sabotage when you run into someone like that. (And trust me, you will.)

But as an author and publisher of my own books, I know how important reviews can be and simply telling an author to put together an ARC team is one of those non-answers that drive me crazy. Yes, put together a review team. Duh. But how, exactly, do you do that?

I think a statistic that floats around is for every 100 sales count on one review coming from those sales. It’s less than that, I think, if you’re giving books away. From a Google search and people blogging about their own experiences, the numbers seem to depend on genre, if you already have an audience, etc. The unpredictability of the market doesn’t help. When you think a book will hit just right and it sinks no matter how much marketing you do, or a book you never thought would have one sale shoots to the top of the charts.

I never look at my reviews–I already know my ego and self-esteem are too fragile to read them, and like I said above, there are nasty people out there who love nothing more than to try to take their grievances out on you for expressing an opinion. Unfortunately, you can’t stop the bitter and jealous people from trying to get their licks in, and the best thing you can do there is write a good book and market it to the best of your ability as there is no greater revenge than success despite their attempts to hold you back.

Anyway, I didn’t try to get any reviews beforehand for Captivated by Her or Addicted to Her when I published my duet over the summer. That was my mistake and now their buy-pages look empty months after release. A kind woman and a troll gave star ratings for Captivated and I’m thinking of doing a promotion on that book soon just to find readers and bump up sales hoping that more ratings and/or reviews will cancel out the jerk who wanted to hurt me.

It’s tough to find reviewers who will give you time for free, and I turned to Booksprout for Rescue Me. I paid for the lowest package ($9.00/month) and gave away 23/25 copies. The founder of BookSprout said somewhere (I’m in so many groups, I apologize for the lack of citation) that they weeded out the reviewers who only wanted free books, and that persuaded me to give them a try.

I don’t want to insult any of the reviewers, so if you want to go to Rescue Me’s product page and take a look, the ones from Booksprout are labeled as such by the reviewer at the bottom of the review. Out of the 23 I gave away, 17 reviewed mostly on Amazon, though a couple found it on Goodreads and reviewed there too. (Now there’s a lava pit that’s not worth jumping into.) Can I say the quality is better than when I used them in the past (when they were free)? Not sure. Sometimes we have take our expectations down a notch, and I’m guessing that’s why Amazon started the star-only rating in the first place: to encourage readers to quickly rate the book as they must think that’s better than nothing. Professional book reviewers have a formula they follow when they write a review. Quick synopsis, their likes and dislikes. You can tell from perusing reviews of your favorite books on Goodreads that sometimes the people who write the reviews need just as much time as they did to actually read the book.

Not every review can be as in-depth as one that reads like a book report, and sometimes we take what we can get.

But one of the biggest questions indies ask is, how can we get reviews? These days the only way to get reviews is to put together an ARC team which can take years of nurturing and publishing regularly, sell a lot of books and hope for the best, or paying for them. Paying sounds shady but with everything pay to play these days (ads, beta reading, sensitivity reading, editing, formatting, etc) it’s really not a surprise that the only way to get reviews (especially just when you’re publishing) is to pay for them.

There are reputable review services out there. I’m not talking about the crappy ones that approach you through an unwanted DM on Instagram, or even the review-for-a-review offers from other indies. I’ve been asked to read and review and it’s nice I can honestly say I don’t review books. It’s too dangerous to say how you really feel about a book, and even if you have guidelines where you don’t review less than a three-star book, you have to keep close to your vest who you are reading at the time or there are plenty of hurt feelings down the road. (I take care of a lot of this by not promoting my books on Twitter or volunteering whom I’m reading, if I am.)

Here are some review services that I know about, but the only one I’ve used is BookSprout.

BookSprout
“Booksprout was started because of how time consuming it was for authors to manage their review team. Since then, it’s grown into a fantastic community of authors and readers focused on reviewing great books. Our goal is to create products that speed up or automate the non-writing tasks that every self-published author must do in order to be successful.”

NetGalley
“We help readers of influence discover and recommend new books to their audiences. If you are a librarian, bookseller, educator, reviewer, blogger or in the media, get started right now by signing in or joining for free. Welcome!”

HIddenGems
“The Hidden Gems ARC program sends your novel to our list of reviewers, doing our best to match your type/genre of book with readers that are most likely to enjoy it. We constantly do our best to clean our list, removing readers that typically ask for books but do not leave reviews and as such, we have an industry leading review rate of over 80%. This means that if we send your book out to 100 reviewers, on average you may end up with more than 80 reviews!

IndieReader
“We offer two different types of book reviews: editorial and reader. The editorial reviews come from IndieReader’s team of journalists, librarians and writers. The reviews are objective and truthful and appear in print with your consent. Once approved, reviews of your book are published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieReader’s blog. If your book earns four- to five-star reviews, the review will also be featured on Huffington Post.”

Publisher’s Weekly/BookLife (Editorial Review)
“Both Publishers Weekly and BookLife Reviews treat self-published books as professional publications and hold them to professional standards. Before you submit your book, use BookLife’s free self-evaluations to help you make your book the best it can be. (These are for informational purposes only, and do not determine your review eligibility.) The best way to increase your odds of receiving a Publishers Weekly review, or of being reviewed positively, is to make sure your book is up to professional standards.”

Kirkus Reviews (Editorial Review)
“As an unpublished or self-published author, it can be a relentless struggle to attract a significant amount of attention to your book or manuscript. By purchasing a Kirkus indie review, authors can have the opportunity to build some name recognition and get noticed by agents, publishers and other industry influencers. Kirkus has been an industry-trusted source for honest and accessible reviews since 1933 and has helped countless authors build credibility in the publishing realm ever since. Browse through some of our author success stories, and get a glimpse of what exactly an indie review from Kirkus can do for you.
Our indie reviews are written by qualified professionals, such as librarians, nationally published journalists, creative executives and more. While we do not guarantee positive reviews, unfavorable reviews can be taken as valuable feedback for improvements and ultimately do not have to be published on our site.”

BookSirens (Book Bloggers)
“The book blog sites listed in our directory are vetted for quality: they are active, have clear review policies, and usually have a good following on social media. In fact, the ~1000 book blogs in our catalog have a cumulative following of over 1,000,000 readers. The most popular book review sites in our catalog have between 10,000 and 70,000 followers.
Many of these sites not only review books but also accept guest posts, do cover reveals, and participate in blog tours. While the top book blogs tend be YA book review blogs and romance book review blogs, we also feature less common genres like travel book review blogsbusiness book review blogscomic book blogs, and paranormal book blogs.”

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages (Book Bloggers)
“Published since 2009, The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages helps authors find book reviewers for indie and self-published books, and provides trusted advice for contacting them. It is the only comprehensive resource available in book format.
It is published by PartnerPress, a provider of publishing and imprint management services for authors and businesses. Together with AuthorImprints and BookReviewerYellowPages.com, it is part of Sellbox Inc., founded in 2002 by David Wogahn.
David Wogahn became editor and publisher in 2017. He previously wrote the foreword for the sixth edition, and contributed the guide to producing quality books included in the seventh edition.
We are members of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).”

What I”m hoping for using Booksprout is to cultivate a group of reviewers who like my books and will leave a review every time. Like any other platform, you have to use it consistently, meaning, you have to publish consistently. After a few books, maybe they’ll sign up for my newsletter and become part of my fan base that will also buy books. The only thing about BookSprout’s pay to play action is that I don’t see away to pause my subscription if I don’t have a book release that month. I pay for only one book a month, which is a bummer because under the free version, when I was ready to publish my small-town holiday series, I put them all up at once. I can’t do that now, so I’m not sure what that means for the trilogy I want to publish in January. I’m not going to bump up my plan, and I don’t know what it would do to my account if I canceled between books. I don’t want to delete my profile and have to start all over again–that’s no way to build a team of reviewers.

I’m a bit happier than before, and it seems as though the readers who reviewed Rescue Me actually did read it. I wouldn’t put my books on BookSprout while they are in KU, so that leaves my duet in the cold, but like I said, hopefully a couple of promos will get them to move. I’ve always had decent luck giving my books away, and while read-through drop is to be expected, I don’t think my series experienced any more than normal so I have decent hopes this time around.

I don’t have much else. This is a great thread by Zoe York on Twitter about getting reviews. Have a great week, and Happy Halloween!

Monday Musings and an Author Update

I don’t even know where to start this week. As much as I absolutely love doing every little bit for each and every book, these projects feel like they take so much work to get from my head and onto Amazon’s website.

Last week I finished listening to the last book of my trilogy. I can pick up 99.9% of typos that way, and it makes for a pretty clean final draft. I need to keep a list of words I like to lean on while I’m writing, as I discovered the word “just” in my 3rd book and went back to the first and second and realized I abused it there too. All told among three books, I think I edited out about 300. Some make sense, some can be deleted without changing the sentence, and sometimes a better word can replace it. It wasn’t a huge task, but it added an extra hour to my editing on Wednesday. But, I know the books are better for it, so I can’t be too annoyed. Last Friday I was able to format them all, much to my delight, and over the weekend I was able to create my covers.

I’m not going with the covers I talked about in my last blog post. Honesty is always the best policy (with yourself and others, but especially with yourself), and they were just not a good fit for the billionaire subgenre. It sucks, because they’re pretty and I like them, but they aren’t going to do the job. What really tripped me up was looking for models who are older. I have one MC who is 45 and another who is almost 50, and while I’m not one to care if a model matches the description inside, I can’t portray young men on the covers when there are not young men inside. There are very few older men models on DepositPhotos (that are model quality, anyway, sorry guys), and I happened to use the most popular one on Rescue Me. Luckily, my next couple of books are finished cover-wise, so I won’t be scrolling through stock sites again anytime soon. DepositPhotos seems to be kind of picked over at this point, and that will be a dilemma I’ll need to face down the road. Covers are super agonizing, but I’m confident what I finally came up with will work. They are better suited, and they still have their heads. I suppose if that’s the only thing I can’t bend on, I’m not doing too bad.


The problem I have, and will always have, is doing what you want vs. what you need to do to sell books. Someone in one of my author groups on FB posted the other day and said the best thing about being an indie is not having to appeal to everybody. I read that, and I was so confused. Of course you don’t want to appeal to everybody, but you want to appeal to SOMEBODY, preferably readers in your genre, and you can’t do that if your cover looks like Photoshop and DepositPhoto had a baby. I write this blog and publish my books in the POV of a single mom with a full-time job that doesn’t pay very much. I get it. You’re broke, I’m broke, and paying out for everything is just not possible. I have never ever said you shouldn’t publish if you can’t afford things like covers and editing. But I was listening to a Clubhouse room not long ago and one of the speakers said this: You’re gonna pay. You’re gonna pay at the beginning when you hire out for an editor and cover designer and a formatter if you don’t know a kind soul who has Vellum, and if you don’t pay there, you’re going to pay with readers after you publish your book. You won’t have any. If you don’t have money to spend, you have to spend the time, and I can’t tell you how many premade sites I perused, how many current top 100 romance lists I looked at trying to gauge what I needed compared to the skills I have that yes, I have tried to cultivate over the course of the six years I’ve been publishing (but I am not an expert by any means).

It’s easy to believe what you hear. I got a lot of good feedback from those sunset/city covers I posted on Twitter, but Twitter writers are not my readers and while I appreciate the compliments, it doesn’t matter if they liked them or not. What matters is my readers like them enough to buy my book and read it. That’s all I want. That’s the cover’s only job. It isn’t about pride or what you like, and you can look for validation on Twitter until the cows come home, but when you buy a promo and you don’t get your money back, that’s the real validation. Giving away 4,000 copies of my first in series during a Freebooksy and paying for that fee the first day with KU page reads is a high that will never, ever get old.

Anyway, that seems to be a theme lately, the them vs us. Indie vs. readers, indie vs. traditional publishing. There is no versus if you do things the way things are meant to be done. There is no line, and I keep trying to figure out who is drawing it. If you’re standing on one side of that line, why? You have to identify with being an indie so hard that you’re willing to sacrifice readers for the control? Who is really in control when a reader sees your book, doesn’t like the cover, doesn’t like the title, doesn’t like your blurb and decides not to buy? Your control is an illusion. The control is with the reader who bought a different book.


Ooof, I’m done with this part of it. There are too many negative emotions online lately. Fear and doubt and desperation. No sales and launches that sink. 965 words of you can do better and your books and readers will thank you.

Besides the painful realization my covers needed a third revamp (no one saw my first try besides my friend Sami-Jo) the rest of what I have going on should be okay. Vellum is a dream and I formatted pretty quickly. I need some blurb feedback that I’ll seek out while I get some other stuff done, and all in all, I’m excited to publish these. I still have to adjust my author name on the hardcover of Rescue Me and approve it, but otherwise there’s nothing I need to backtrack for unless I want to load it into IngramSpark too, but I’m not in a hurry to publish my paperback there. If you’re looking for a freebie upload, you can sign up for their blog. They’ll let you know promo codes every so often, and this one popped in my email yesterday:

6 Figure Authors Podcast did a catch up episode that I was excited to see. I thought it was old until Lindsay (on Twitter) said it was new, and you can listen to it here.

That’s about all I have for this week. I’ve decided to work on completing my series that I started over COVID lockdown. I have two done, four more to go, and last night I was trying to think of why I stalled out when I realized it was because I decided I needed a reader magnet for a newsletter that was a long time in coming, and I stopped my series to write a novella. Three full-length books later I realized I can’t write a novella and ended up using the shortest of the three (76k words) as a freebie for my newsletter. Now it’s time to get back into finishing that series because I want to tackle a long series about one couple like Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series. I’m not sure on plot, though Lindsay Buroker was talking about psychics some time ago, and that idea has been rattling around in my brain for a long time now trying to tie a psychic in with the billionaire subgenre. And at some point I have three standalones I want to write, so I’m glad I won’t be running out of material for the next little while. But as always, I’m getting ahead of myself, and maybe I’ll take a couple days off after my trilogy is uploaded to Amazon and my proofs ordered. I’m on track to publish in January providing nothing strange happens. I won’t be participating in NaNo this year, though I rarely do. This November I’ll be rereading the first two books and making plans for the other four. I don’t have their plots laid out yet, and I can only blame the planster life for that. I know who the characters are for the most part, but not much more.

Next week I can write about my second try with Booksrpout and catch you up on how my Amazon ads are doing and how my Facebook Ad is doing with my reader magnet and my newsletter sign up.

Have a good week!

Marketing ideas for your books

We tend to confuse marketing and advertising when it comes to our books. Advertising is what you do when you’ve already written it and published it and you’re only looking for readers. That’s running ads, buying a promo, tweeting about it, or posting in FB groups. That’s not really marketing. That’s shoving your book under someone’s nose and hoping they like it enough to buy it.

Marketing encompasses a lot more than that, and it starts with your product, a fact many indie authors don’t like because they prefer writing the book of their heart and hoping someone likes it enough to read it. That’s fine; whatever floats your boat. And honestly, it’s what you should do when you first start out. But writing the book of your heart, or the books of your heart, won’t get you very far unless you can meet in the middle between what you want to write and what readers are looking for. As I’ve said in the past, authors who can meet in the middle find their longevity in this business. Or rather than compromising on every book, write something you love, then something you know will sell, and go back and forth. I was reading Bryan Cohen’s new Amazon Ads book Self-Publishing with Amazon Ads: The Author’s Guide to Lower Costs, Higher Royalties, and Greater Peace of Mind and in it he quoted John Cusack, who said something like, “I do one project for them and one project for me.” I can’t find attribution for that quote, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s go with it. That’s not what this blog post is about, as it is your choice what you want to write, but as Seth Godin said, and I quoted him not long ago, “Find products for your customer instead of trying to find customers for your product.”

(And if you’re interested, a really great talk by Kyla Stone is available here. She talks about writing to market, but she couldn’t get to where she is today if she wasn’t writing what she loved to write.)

I’ve spent six years publishing and learning from my mistakes. Here are some tips I picked up from other authors and what you can implement with your next books.

Make sure your series looks like a series.
If you look at any big indie’s backlist all their series look like they belong together. It doesn’t matter if they’re all standalones and readers don’t have to read them in order. If they fit together, create their covers so they look like they do. Not only does a reader glancing at your Amazon page know they belong in a series, they just look nicer when they’re all branded in the same way. That means a matching background, maybe, cover models who have the same vibe. Create a series logo and add that to the cover as another way to identify one series from the next. If you do your own covers but publish as you write, create all your covers at once. That way you’re not stuck with one cover that’s already out in the world you can’t duplicate. That shoves you into a corner you don’t want to be in. Book covers are more important than we want to believe, but trust me. Look at any of your comparison authors’ backlists and see for yourself how they brand their series. Also make sure if you’re going to run ads that they meet Amazon’s policies. I had to tweak my small town contemporary series because Amazon kept blocking my ads. I had to zoom in on their faces and it ruined the entire look. I’m much more careful now.

These are books under this name. It’s easy to see the trilogy belongs together, the three standalones and then the small town series. Amazon didn’t like they were in bed. Too bad. They did.

Write in a series, but also don’t tie things up –until the very last one.
Elana Johnson calls these loops. You can end each book with an HEA, but with the overall plot, don’t wrap things up! This encourages the reader to read through your entire series to see how things finally end. With my small town series, everyone is in town for a wedding, and there are wedding activities throughout. The last book ends with the couple’s ceremony. What’s fun, the couple getting married isn’t even one of the couples featured in the books. They are background characters that help with the subplot of each book. That’s it. That might be a flimsy piece of tape holding the books together, but it was a fun way for me to end the series–with the reason why everyone was together in the first place. When Elana talks about loops, she doesn’t mean ending books on a cliffhanger, though it is well within your right and another marketing strategy you can incorporate into your writing. Elana has a wonderful series for indie authors, and you can look at the books here. I’ve read them all, and this isn’t an affiliate link.

Use your back matter.
When you write in a series, and the books are available, your Kindle can help you out by prompting you to read the next one. That can be a boost, but also, you want to take matters into your own hands and add the link to the next book in the back matter of the one before it. If you don’t write in a series, add a different book. If a reader loves your book, they’ll want to read more from you, and you might as well make it easy for them. Too many calls to action may confuse a reader, so you don’t want pages and pages of back matter asking a reader to buy a million books, sign up for your newsletter, and follow you on Twitter and Facebook. Choose the one most important to you, add it immediately after the last word of your book while they are still experiencing that reader’s high, and ask them to buy your next book or sign up for your newsletter. I have also heard that graphics work wonders and adding the cover along with the link is a great way to prompt readers to buy.

Introduce your next book with a scene at the end of the previous book.
This is one I learned from the writers in my romance group on Facebook. Say your novel is about Travis and Amy, but the next book is going to be about Rafe and Emily. End Travis and Amy’s book with a short chapter/scene in Rafe’s POV to get them excited for the next book. I haven’t started doing this, but the writers in my group give it 10/10 stars, would recommend as a great way to get readers buying the next book. Also, if you’re writing romance, readers gravitate toward those hunky men, so if you can, write from his POV. I’m definitely doing this with the trilogy I’m publishing in January, and with the six books that are with my proofer now, the third book ends with an HEA for that couple, but I added a chapter from the heroine’s POV for the next three books. I suppose I could have done it from his POV, but hers felt more natural, and I hope it will be enough to get the readers invested in her story and how the series plays out. You can do this with any genre you write in–if he’s a detective, maybe he stumbles onto a new case, or maybe something serious happens in his personal life. Whatever the case may be, add something that will entice readers to click on the link you’re putting in the back.

Bonus scenes for newsletter subscribers only.
I haven’t started this up yet because 1) you have to write the bonus content 2) I don’t know my newsletter aggregator well enough to make something like this happen, and 3) with my newsletter signup link already in the back, I’m giving away a full-length novel. If you don’t have a reader magnet, writing a bonus scene that is only available if readers sign up for your newsletter is a great way to add to your list and hopefully, the more engaged your list is, the more readers you have.

Looking at your entire backlist as a whole–or what you’ll be writing in the future.
If you think of marketing as an umbrella for your entire career, then think of advertising on a book by book basis. Marketing involves all your books, who you are as an author, and what your message is. That’s why so many authors want a logo–but attach feelings, emotions, and what you’re giving your reader in your books to that logo so they think of those things when they see it. It’s why soda commercials are always happy. They want you to equate having a good time with drinking their product. What do you want your readers to get out of your books? If you’re a romance author, an HEA, for sure, but what else? Is your brand a damaged hero? Found family? If you write women’s fiction, do you want your readers to expect a woman on a journey, or maybe sisters repairing their relationship? Best friends who have grown apart only to be reunited for some reason? Of course, that sounds like all your books will be about the same thing, but that’s not really the case. What is your theme, what is your message you want your reader to get from your books?

Publish consistently.
Training your readers to expect a book at certain time will help you build buzz as your readers will get used to your schedule. Figure out a comfortable schedule and try to maintain it. Once every 3 months seems like a good practice if you can keep up with that as you’ll never fall off Amazon’s 90 cliff. Also, if you’re writing a series, keep in mind readers don’t like to wait and you’ll have your work cut out for you if you can only release one book a year. You might just have to be resigned to the fact you won’t get the number of readers you want until all the books are released.

It’s a bit older now, but Jamie Albright spoke at the 20books convention a few years ago. She shared some good tips if you can only write and release one book a year.

Tweeting incessantly about your books isn’t marketing. Doing research on your next book before you write it, figuring out your comp authors and comp titles, doing cover research, and writing a good blurb is marketing. Running ads and buying promos to that book once you’ve written it is advertising.

It took me a really long time to figure this out–ten failed books because I genre hopped and was only writing what came to me. I didn’t publish on a schedule, didn’t have a plan. I’m still not publishing on a schedule, though I am going to try to aim for one book a quarter after my COVID stockpile is out into the world.

I’m getting a hang of this marketing thing, but it’s nothing you can achieve over night. I spent five years making mistakes. I’ll spend the next five fixing them.

Thanks for reading!


If you want resources on planning your career, Zoe York has a wonderful series of books that talk about that. You can get them here. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082CZDK75

Sara Rosette also has a wonderful book on how to write series, and you can find it here. https://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Structure-Troubleshooting-Marketing/dp/1950054322/

October and First Monday Update

Writing, publishing, and marketing is like running on a treadmill. You’re working your butt off and not getting anywhere.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. I finished my latest round of edits on my trilogy and now that that’s done, I’m going to dive into writing the blurbs and creating their covers. I need to do a little better on these than I did with my duet. I’ve complained that those covers just haven’t hit the way I wanted them to, but it could be a few things, not just the models I chose. With a new pen name it will take time to find traction and my Amazon ads haven’t run long enough for me to collect any data on if the covers are helping or hurting. Surprisingly, well, it’s not really as this issue has plagued me from the second I published the stupid thing, The Years Between Us has always performed well, meaning, I get a TON of clicks, but then no one goes on to buy. I know it’s because the cover is pretty but no one wants to read an age gap romance, and they’re turned off when they hit the product page. There’s not much I can do about that. But in September, I did sell a handful of my duet, and I’ve been playing with buying a promo soon. Now I think I’ll wait until January after the holidays are over and I’ll have six books under my name instead of just three. I might as well wait. I’ll keep running ads and hope for the best.

I started up my Facebook ad for my reader magnet again and we’ll see what happens there. Ads are so weird and there are so many variables as to why it wouldn’t work. The wrong graphic, the wrong headline, maybe your description wasn’t right on the money, or your target audience is off. Whatever it is, I did take my time putting it together so hopefully I can build up my newsletter some more. Despite paying for an ad for signups, my open rate was 36% last month (I’ve heard 40% is decent) and I only had four people unsubscribe. The person who won my giveaway never responded to the email I sent her, so as always, that giveaway was a wash and honestly I just don’t care about hosting them anymore. I also gave away more ARC copies of Rescue Me on Twitter than I did for my own newsletter which was surprising but whatever, I guess. I probably shouldn’t even have offered it there, but I made 20 available and gave away ten before I took the listing down when the book went into KU.

Reviews are still coming in from Booksprout and one sounds so ludicrous I think maybe an AI bot wrote it. I don’t want to offend anyone, especially since there has been some crossover between my blog and new readers under my pen name, but once again, it makes me wonder if paying for the service is worth it and if I should even bother to keep offering my books there.

I have three months to edit and package my trilogy but I’m not going to need that long so I’m at a crossroads for what I want to work on next. I have a standalone in mind that would probably work better in 3rd person under my name and it will need some research as it’s about a rockstar who suffers from depression and doesn’t want to perform anymore. His record label pays for a therapist to move in with him to convince him to do another album but she has her own backstory. I don’t know anything about being a rockstar and I’m looking forward to watching documentaries of that kind of life. I think will be just a little darker, like All of Nothing, and it will take me longer to write it. If I decide not to work on that, I have 2 books of a 6 book series completed and I should really write the last four and get those put out. The file information said I created the first one on November 2, 2020, so I think it’s about time to tackle those and get them off my plate. A standalone sounds welcome after working on a trilogy and my other six book series that will be going to a proofreader this week as the second set of proofs came yesterday, but getting that series done would be a load off my mind. I have my publishing schedule set until the middle of 2024, so I have plenty of time to do both and cleansing my palate with a standalone sounds like what I need to take a break but still write.

Because authors need someone in their corner, especially with how trigger-happy KDP has been lately with blocking author accounts and not accept copyright information, I decided to join the Alliance for Independent Authors. I’m familiar with Orna Ross and Joanna Penn and some of the others that are affiliated with the organization and at 119.00 USD annually, it’s a good investment. I do everything I can to ensure that my books meet copyright requirements–I buy my photos from DepositPhotos, make sure I have licensing for the fonts I use. I have my receipt from Vellum if there is ever a question on how I format my books. If they ever close my account for any reason, at least I have someone going to bat for me.

I suppose that’s all I have for this week. I have a few topics for blog posts planned and also something up my sleeve with a couple other authors I’ve met on Twitter. I need to reach out to them and hammer out a time we can collaborate.

I think the only thing left is mentioning that this month, Bryan Cohen is hosting his quarterly Amazon Ads Profit Challenge. Since I’m not actively writing right now, I think I’ll carve out the time to sit and listen to the videos and go through the steps. There are some things that have changed since the last time I sat down and went through all the material, so it will probably be beneficial this time around. I’ve been working with the info that I learned a couple years ago taking his challenge, and staying up to date is always a good thing. If you’re interested in joining, click here. It’s not an affiliate link; I don’t get anything if you sign up.

Thanks for hanging out with me, and Happy October!

The top 6 reasons listening to marketing advice is a pain in the A$$.

We all have marketing advice coming out our ears. I’m to the point where I don’t even care about marketing advice right now. I stopped listening to Clubhouse, I’m not an active participant in any Facebook group. All I’ve been doing is writing, writing, and more writing because let’s face it, marketing won’t do anything if you don’t have product. But more than that, marketing won’t do anything if you don’t have the right product. So here are my top six reasons why listening to marketing advice is a pain the you know what.

You don’t have the same backlist as the person dispensing the advice.
Frontlist drives backlist. Right? Maybe you’ve never heard it phrased like that. Maybe you’ve heard “writing the next book is the best marketing for the current book.” I like frontlist drives backlist better because sometimes we think that after a book is so many months old it will stop selling. Maybe in traditional publishing circles this is true–when bookstores yank your paperbacks off the shelves, but we’re digital now, and books on the digital shelf don’t get old. So when you have someone who’s been publishing for a while saying that their newest release earned them lots of money–you don’t know if it’s from the current release or if their new book bumped up all the books in their catalog. Listening to someone talk about how they are promoting their 20th book might not do much for you if you’re planning a second. They are 100 steps ahead of you. Take notes if you want, but chances are good what they are saying won’t apply to you. I’ve been in that position, too. Listening to big indies is discouraging. Rather than listening, I go write.

You’re not in the same genre/subgenre/novel length/platform.
If you write thrillers, what a romance author is doing may not help that much. Maybe you’ll get some ideas because a lot of marketing is universal, but for example, lots of romance authors are on TikTok right now. Whether that is beneficial for you, you would have to do your research and figure it out before you waste time learning how to make the videos. Marketing for wide isn’t going to be the same if you’re in KU, just like listening to a webinar on how to market a historical saga isn’t going to do much for you if you’re a children’s book author. Marketing advice isn’t created equal and it helps to figure out what you’re selling before listening to advice. Even marketing for historical romance would be different than marketing mafia romance. If you write short stories, chance are marketing those will be different than if you’re writing long novels.

They have money–you don’t.
It’s easy to say, “Oh, I bought a Freebooksy, put my first in series for free, and watched the royalties roll in through page reads.” That sounds like the answer to anyone’s prayers, except, then you rush to Written Word Media and see a Freebooksy spot is $40 to $175. If you’re trying to promote a standalone, there’s no way you’ll get that money back paying to give away a free book. Amazon ads aren’t nearly as expensive (I have six ads going and have only spent 4 dollars this month so far) but if you don’t know how to put together a Facebook ad, they are happy to take your money and run leaving you with no clicks and no sales. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do for free anymore, all the begging going on right now on Twitter is proof of that. So it would be in your best interest to find a couple of nickels to rub together, make sure your book is advertising ready, and hope that you can find some traction with a low cost-per-click ad. If you’re afraid of losing money, do what you can with your product so that doesn’t happen. The person who DOES make their money back and then some on ads and promos has a product that people want and all they’re doing is helping readers find it.

They have a newsletter. You don’t.
Ever listen to a 6-figure indie author talk about their marketing campaigns? They give you all the sales numbers, all the rank, and someone asks them how they did it and they say…. “I emailed my newsletter and told them I had a new book out.” Where are the melting face emojis when you need them?

courtesy of Canva

Here they are. There is nothing so disheartening as thinking you are going to hear a nugget of information that will take your author career to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, you need a mailing list. That bomb she dropped is proof of that. Only, her list was six years in the making and you’re stuck on MailerLite tutorials on YouTube. That doesn’t mean you can’t listen and write down her advice for later. She built up her newsletter somehow and she probably has a lot of tips on how she did that. Gave away a reader magnet, joined in Bookfunnel promotions (or StoryOrigin), she networked with other authors and they featured her in theirs to get the ball rolling. But you have to understand that she’s six years ahead of you. I’ve heard Lucy Score has 140,000 subscribers on her email list. You may never, ever, get there, and her marketing strategies will not be yours.

They write and publish faster than you.
I remember when I settled in for a good marketing talk with a big indie author. I had a notebook, a pen, a cup of coffee, and I was going to absorb all the knowledge. She was talking about ads and promos and the usual, and then she got to how many books she released a year.

calico cat grimacing

That really sums how how I felt. There’s no way I could do that. I write fast–I can crank out four books a year with no help. No editor, no beta reader, no formatter, no one to do my covers, just me. But she multiplied that by four, and my heart sank. Obviously, their marketing techniques are going to be way different than yours. They can put a first in series for free, buy a promo, and get a ton of read-through from the get-go. They can run ads to several books and create boxed sets. What they can do in a year, you might be able to do in five, so you need to adjust accordingly. It doesn’t mean you won’t be successful, it just means you won’t be successful as quickly. When listening to marketing advice from prolific authors who are doing this as their day jobs, keep your expectations realistic. Save up advice that you might be able to use later, but realize that you can’t do anything without product first.

They could just be a better writer than you (for now).
No one likes to talk about craft. We don’t. It’s messy and subjective and it’s easy to start talking about rules and editing and first person vs. third person, and before you know it, you’re not talking to anybody anymore because everyone is ticked off about the Oxford Comma. But the fact is, good books sell. You can run ads and sell a bad book once, but you’ll never build an audience or a loyal readership off a crappy book. People work hard for their money and they don’t like to waste it. Time is precious and trying to read a book that isn’t well written is a drain when they could be reading something better, catching up with a show they’re behind on, or spending time with a significant other or their kids. You can’t be cavalier about asking people to spend time with you. People who have writing careers write good books. So if you’re discouraged because the authors you’re listening to are telling you that they don’t lose money on ads, and/or they have a huge newsletter, it’s because their books are good. Do you think this author has readers who are invested for the long haul?

I’m not making fun of anybody–he obviously has readers–I would do a lot for 458 reviews–but when 41% of them are one and two stars, you’re not offering content readers will come back for. Imagine how this book could have taken off if it had been well-written. It’s the first in a trilogy, and I don’t have to tell you the other two books aren’t doing well. The loss of potential is devastating to me. I can’t even imagine how he feels. Maybe he doesn’t even understand his own self-sabotage and is happy with the instant gratification.


It’s really difficult to listen to marketing advice. We all write such different books. Our genres will be different, our covers. Our willingness to put ourselves out there for the sake of networking. Our author voices and style will be different. Before you try to follow any advice, your books have to be marketable or any marketing you do will be for nothing.

This is why writing about marketing is hard. It’s why it’s difficult to listen to advice. And really, what no one talks about is how much marketing you have to do before you even write that book. We try to find customers for our product, when really, it’s a hell of a lot easier to find product for already existing customers. Finding your comparison authors makes it easy to find readers–their readers are your readers. We don’t like to study the market because we’d prefer to write what we want to write. The authors with the most longevity meet in the middle between what the market wants and what they love to write. It’s easy to do market research these days–Alex Newton of K-lytics takes the work right out of it, and you can watch a short trend report that he made this month for free here. https://k-lytics.com/kindle-e-book-market-trends-2022-september/

Read on for more resources and have a great week!


If you want to work on your craft, Tiffany Yates Martin has all her classes on sale for NaNoWriMo for $29.00/each. Check them out here! https://foxprinteditorial.teachable.com/