It’s all about genre.

Happy Monday! It’s almost the end of July and then we have just a few more weeks of summer left! While fall is my favorite season (woodsmoke! crunching leaves! cooler weather!) I don’t like to rush my time along, and I’m going to make the most of August and the lazy days still ahead.


At any rate, I love being plugged into the indie industry, listening to what other top indies are doing, and where their heads are at right now. Mostly, at least last week while I was consuming information, it seemed the subject was choosing genre.

Choosing genre can be really hard for some writers, reluctant to settle on one thing for fear it will stifle their creativity, or they choose not to do it all together, claiming to be multi-genre authors with “something for everyone.” While I agree that we should write what we want to write so we never lose that spark of wanting to create, I’m still of a mindset that if we want readers to consume our work, then we need to figure out how to deliver that work into the hands of the people who will enjoy it most. A friend of mine writes in several genres, never publishes under a pen name and she spends a lot of time on Twitter directing readers to books she thinks they’ll enjoy. That’s great, and if she’s willing to network and “show people to their seats” like a theatre usher, then she should have at it. But while she’s curating her own library for her readers, when is she writing the next book? “Something for everyone” is hell on marketing.

I was listening to the Wish I’d Known Then Podcast for Authors with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, and they interviewed guest Lee Strauss. I haven’t read any of Lee’s work (she doesn’t write a genre I read) but she had some great advice about choosing genre and figuring out what you like to write best through trial and error. (Hint: what you LOVE TO READ BEST is probably a good starting point for figuring out what you’d like to write best. And don’t @ me and say you read everything–I read widely as well, but if you take an honest survey of what you read, you’ll find a genre that tips the scales.) I commented on their FB page for their podcast that while this kind of information is great, the writers listening probably already know settling on a genre is the best way to go. Jami gentle corrected me and said you never know who will need to hear something like that. I agreed, but, on the other hand, a listener also has to be open to hearing the information, accepting it, and willing to apply it to their own careers.

Back when I started writing, if someone had told me to focus on one genre, I would have said, “But I am.” Little did I know that contemporary romance isn’t a genre. Contemporary romance is the ocean. Thriller is the ocean. Mystery is the ocean. Women’s fiction is the ocean. Drilled-down subgenre is a pond, a little pond where you can specialize in what you want to be known for to your readers. A duck can get lost in the ocean. Probably eaten by a shark. A duck is cute and safe in a pond. Lee’s interview proves my point–she settled into historical (1920s) cozy mystery. Can’t get any more drilled down than that.

If you want to listen to her interview here it is. She also goes a little bit into character attachment and what that means to a reader. I found it really interesting and may write a blog post about that another time.

I think talking about genre is interesting. There are so many people who think that choosing a genre will pigeon-hole them they refuse to do it, yet they try to query. Agents don’t want a book that’s a mix of three different genres. Your agent wants to see your book on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble just as much as you do, and if you’ve ever gone into a bookstore, their shelves are still divided by genre. If you’ve got a romantic fantasy horror just waiting to get out, where is the manager of that Barnes and Noble going to stick your book? Romance? Fantasy? Horror? (Never mind what that cover is going to look like :P)

I like writing romance, I’m always shipping couples who don’t need to be shipped. I look for romance everywhere. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out that’s what I wanted to write, but when I say contemporary romance isn’t a genre, I mean it’s too big of a genre to write in, too many subgenres and tropes, and like my friend who writes everything, my readers have to pick through my books to figure out what they’re going to enjoy most. That’s not a way to keep readers and, while it isn’t difficult, doesn’t have the return on investment that it could.

I think we get a little confused because when we publish on Amazon, or Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, we no longer think of shelves. There aren’t any shelves in the Amazon store, no end caps featuring the latest deal or overstock stores want to get rid of. Because of this, browsing is a lot harder for a reader, and they need to search for what they like, such as Vigilante Justice, or Small Town Romance. Then, if you have your keywords and categories correct, your book will show up on the results page. But, you’re saying, you can genre-hop and this will still work.

It will. When someone wants small town romance, maybe my Rocky Point Wedding series will pop up. (Likely not since my books are old and they don’t have many reviews, rending me useless to Amazon.) But say they like your Women’s Divorce Fiction you wrote under the Women’s Fiction genre–and they want more Women’s Divorce Fiction. Oh, you only wrote the one book, too bad, and they move on. Chances are really really good that they might read another one of your books anyway, but if you had more Women’s Divorce Fiction for them to choose from, you just caught yourself a reader who will read your entire backlist. Think of your Amazon Author Page as a store, and your list of books as a shelf. Do they all fit on that shelf? My books fit in Contemporary Romance, but with a sports romance trilogy, enemies to lovers, age gap romance, close proximity, then a four-book small town romance series, you can kind of see why a reader would like to read my enemies to lovers then drop off from the rest of my backlist. They aren’t similar enough to hold a reader’s interest. I wanted to be like Nora Roberts–able to write everything. I’ll never be like her. Her career and mine will never be the same.

I can see why you’d be balking, even to me it sounds extremely limiting, but the secret is to choose a subgenre and then have fun with the tropes. I chose Billionaire Romance to start up my pen name, but I can do anything I want with tropes. Enemies to lovers, fake fiance, my brother’s girlfriend is off limits, even a little mystery suspense. I’ll grab every reader who wants billionaire and more importantly, keep them because they know that’s all I’ll offer them. Had I known that, maybe I would have focused all my other books on small town romance. I am from a small town, after all, but it actually wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me to even write to trope. After four years of writing, you’d think that would have clicked into my brain a long time ago, but like many new authors, I was just writing the stories as they came to me and assigning the genre/subgenre/trope after the book was written, if there was even a trope after all was said and done. My sports trilogy and my Rocky Point Wedding series don’t follow tropes very well. It’s no wonder the ten books I have out never really did anything. I didn’t have a direction. Maybe all those who wander are not lost, but my books now are out in the weeds and there’s no pulling them back.

As for readers of blog posts like this, and listeners of podcasts like Jami and Sara’s, and even writers and authors who watch YouTube videos by indie authors like Derek Murphy who extol the idea of writing to market and writing to trope, maybe you aren’t ready to do things this way. Maybe you never will be, content to be a theater usher using social media and marketing to direct readers to that one book in your backlist they’ll enjoy. That’s okay. I don’t think my friend will ever change how she does things–she says she enjoys writing whatever she wants. Maybe you enjoy the creative freedom so much that you’ll take worrying about where your readers will come from in exchange. Or maybe in a couple years you’ll think back on this post and realize you’re in the same spot you were in when you read this and you’ll be open to a new way of doing things. And maybe Jami is right after all–maybe there are writers out there who don’t know there’s a better way to do things.

If you want to watch Derek Murphy’s latest video, here it is:

For me, this kind of content is interesting. While I was listening to Lee, I kept nodding, smiling even, because what she found out, I too have found out the hard way by way of little traction and no audience.

If you’re interested in trying it my way, and the way of other indies who have built and audience and are making a livable income off their books, how can you start?

  1. Pick an ocean genre. Contemporary romance, thriller, women’s fiction. The biggest umbrella you can find. Because while I said most readers don’t hop around, some do, and this wide net will catch a lot of fish. But then–
  2. Choose a subgenre. Subgenres are not tropes. Subgenres are niches within the larger genre such as billionaire romance, small town romance, vigilante justice, hard-boiled detective, family saga.
  3. Then choose your tropes. You might think that Billionaire Romance is limiting, but I’ve written 11 books so far, and I haven’t run out of ideas yet. It’s kind of like the idea “free as a bird in a cage.” You have boundaries and you know what they are so you have more fun playing. If you feel safe, you’re more secure in your story, and your confidence will come out in your writing.

Of course, coming from me, it would make more of an impact if I could say, see, my Billionaire Romance has made me $100,000 this year (God, that would help me with so many worries!). Of course, I can’t, but you can take a look at any indie author making it to see they stuck to a certain subgenre and used familiar tropes in their writing to see that I’m not wrong.

As far as genre and subgenre and tropes as buzzwords, I guess they’ll always be around. No matter how much you want to brush them off for the sake of your creative freedom, they are there for reasons that may we not understand let alone want to accept. That will have to be a choice you make, and I wish you the best!

Here is a good list of Genres and Subgenres from Writer’s Digest. I can’t help but note what the start of the article says. 114 Fiction Sub-Genre Descriptions for Writers

I didn’t find a list of subgenres or tropes for Women’s Fiction. Indie publishing has drawn hard lines when it comes to romance, something it took me a lot of time to discover. Women’s fiction is blurrier, but if you look women’s fiction authors, they still tie their books together, like Pamela Kelley and her Nantucket series, or Elizabeth Bromke and her family sagas. I did find a list of themes, and I think the article explains women’s fiction well and worth a read if that’s what you’re looking to write: Themes in Women’s Fiction


This is it for me this week. You can think of this blog post as filler, if you’d like, because I’ve blogged about this before (I hope it will be the last because I’m even starting to bore myself), but I’m spending the week in Georgia and my mind is already on vacation. I think genre, subgenre, and tropes are important though, they are the core of each book we write whether we want to admit it or not. Something clicked with me when I decided to write to trope, and maybe it will for you, too. Have a great week ahead!

Monday Musings, Fear of Success, and Where I’m at Now.

Happy Monday! It seems a little crazy to me that summer is half over. Time is flying by and I hope that you’ve all been productive! Not only is summer half over, we’ve past the halfway point of 2021 as well (which was July 2nd). What have you accomplished in the first half of the year, and what do you still want to get done before we say goodbye to this year?

This year, so far, I’ve written three and a half books. Well, maybe three and three quarters as I started one in December of 2020, but I don’t need to get too picky about it. I have slowed down and started (finally) editing these, and I’m going to release one, if not two, this year. I think I’m going to release my fake fiancé trope first, as I feel that is a stronger book than my ugly duckling trope. I just finished the second read-through of it and I’ll listen to it this week to check for typos and syntax issues. After I do that, I’ll format it in Vellum and start working on the cover. The cover and blurb will take the longest because I don’t have a team and I workshop these in various Facebook groups for feedback. Formatting, editing, and cover always take longer than I think they will, but I’m hoping for an October release.

I don’t have a Christmas story to publish this year, so I may wait to release again until after the New Year, though I always have to keep Amazon’s 30- 60- and 90-day cliff in mind. Next year I’ll begin releasing my six book series and after that, the third standalone I just finished up. It’s nice to be able to look ahead with a tentative plan, but I also want to keep writing new material and I don’t know how the more prolific indies can work on three or four things at a time to keep their production moving along. It seems almost crazy to me that authors can write and publish four books a year, though in some FB threads I’ve read the authors who do this the best are about 6 months to a year ahead of their own schedules. That makes sense and I could get my six book series ready. If I publish them two months apart, I would have a whole year of a buffer to write more books, but that seems to call for more organization than I have, especially since as I said, I don’t have help and need to keep all the details of my business straight on my own.

I was listening to the I Wish I’d Known Then podcast with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, and they interviewed Lucy Score. Lucy is a 7-figure author and has created her own mini publishing empire. While I admire her and she’s a very motivational figure, her success scares me in some ways, too. I wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with it. I don’t have a team, or a circle of people I trust, really, to help me. Her husband works for her, her brother, they have friends who help, and she pays these people. To think about people depending on my writing for their livelihood gives me anxiety and while I too, want to be a 7-figure author, the idea scares the crap out of me.


That does bring to mind something I’ve been thinking about lately, and that is fear. We all fear being a failure in our writing, releasing a book and having it fizzle out the second we hit publish. Our books can fail in a myriad of ways, and it’s tough to determine which hurts more. Maybe we publish and we get zero sales, or maybe we publish and we have a great first week only to sink and never recover. Or maybe, and I think this scares all of us, is we publish our book and no one likes it. No one likes it, and they aren’t shy about letting us know–usually in the form of a scathing review.

Fear comes in other ways, too, like success. We fear success because we don’t know how to handle it, or we’re afraid we won’t be able to replicate it. The second book syndrome is real, and even if it’s not your second book, any book you write on the heels of a successful one could cause you some fear and anxiety. Nobody wants to be a one-hit wonder.

And so we do nothing. We put off writing, or in my case, we put off publishing, thinking if we just do this one thing (write another book, wait for a life event to finish, wait for a new month, wait for a new year) then we’ll start. If you’re putting off something, like writing, publishing, querying, ask yourself why. Are you afraid to fail? Or are you afraid to succeed? You can hide behind your fear, but at least be honest about it. You can always carve out writing time–1,000 words a day will net you a decent sized book in two and a half months. If you’re not doing that, if you’re saying, I need to wait until…. that’s a huge red flag that you’re scared. I’m scared. For the past year I was telling myself I’ll publish when I finish the next book, then the next, then the next, and if I keep writing without publishing, I’ll feel like I’m drowning in the books I have on my computer. Maybe if you’re not writing you’ll suffocate on the words that are supposed to be there but they’re not. The only person who can fix that is you.

So, anyway, that’s where I’m at. I may need to learn to work on more than one thing at a time if I want to be able to write while I have books in the production phase of publishing. My mind kind of took that fake blurb I wrote for the fake cover I did for my blog post on how to create a full wrap paperback cover in Canva and ran with it, and I have an amazing romantic suspense novel stewing around in my head that won’t let me think about anything else. I love writing standalones, and the interview with Lucy helped me come to terms with that. She writes standalones as well–it isn’t always about series all the time–and it made me feel better about the standalones I’ve been writing lately. The six-book series I wrote last year during the COVID lockdown will be my shining star–I’ll never be able to do it again–but I have a less complicated series that I started (I’m two books in) and I should finish those before I lose the thread and the want to finish them up.

I’m supposed to be going out of town next Monday, a trip to Georgia, but we’ll see how things go. I’ve had bad luck traveling lately, and my daughter just informed me she has a cavity that I would like to get taken care of before I go but my dentist has a busy office and that may not be possible. I don’t know if I’ll have a blog post for next Monday. Summer has slowed down for everyone, and at this point in time, I wouldn’t know what to blog about. It wouldn’t hurt to take a week off, but since I’ve started this crazy publishing path, when have I ever done that?


Coincidentally, Craig Martelle did a 5 Minute Focus on the price of success. He just streamed it today, so i will leave you with that, and a reminder of a couple things going on this week. Make the most of the rest of your summer!

Until next time!


Bryan Cohen started his Amazon ad challenge today. Amazon thought so highly of it that they featured his challenge in their blog. If you want to learn the basics of how to put together an Amazon ad for your book or series, check out his challenge. It’s all free, and if you join the FB group attached to the challenge, he, along with some of his staff at his blurb writing business and some of his successful students of his Amazon Ads school are around to help you out. I learned everything I know taking these challenges, and if I keep my eye on my ads dashboard, I never lose money.
If you want to check out the Amazon blog post, click here.
If you want to sign up for his ad challenge, click here. (This is not an affiliate link.)
If you want to join his Amazon Ad Challenge Facebook group, click here.
If you don’t want to join a FB group, he expanded this challenge to a slack group, and you can click here to join.


Wednesday, July 14th, Jane Friedman is hosting Elizabeth Sims in a Zoom webinar about writing dialogue like a pro. I’ve signed up for it, and for $25, all the information is worth it. There is a replay if you can’t watch it live, and Jane sends you the files afterward to download to keep. It really is a great value, and as far as I know, everyone can use a little help with their dialogue. If yours is stiff, doesn’t sound natural, or if you have a problem with dialogue tags, this class is for you. Click here to read more about it and to sign up. (This is not an affiliate link.)

Enjoy your week!

Thursday Thoughts and grabbing ideas from big-time indie authors.

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe it’s already June 10th. I have a feeling this summer is going to fly by. Last Tuesday night I went out for my usual dinner with my sister and the restaurants were packed! I think that with summer, the COVID vaccine, and most places lifting the mask mandate, more and more people are going to be to out and about. That’s not a bad thing, but our businesses here haven’t caught up with demand. So many restaurants need staff and have signs out front. Fargo, ND, is also getting an Amazon distribution center soon, and it’s going to take 500 jobs away from local businesses that look like they already need help. I’m not against Amazon and I think it’s great we have a distribution center coming here, but it will make for some interesting times ahead and the push/pull it will create in the job market. Maybe I still have a little human resources in me after all.


As for a personal update, I’m 57,500 words into this new book, and I should be done with it by the end of the month. It’s going to be longer that my other standalones. Usually I’m just about getting to the “big bad” or it’s already happened, and I still have a few more scenes to write before I get there. While that rests I’ll get working on my newsletter (no more about that or your eyes will start to bleed) and maybe look through my list of tropes to find something simple to offer as a newsletter magnet. You know, I like writing and can write 50,000 words in about three weeks (according to my document information, I created my current WIP on May 15th). So whether I want to or not I will write something to use as a magnet, and the fun part will be figuring out what that is.

I’ve been feeling okay lately, though I’m far from kicking the infection I’ve had since December. I’m writing a side project on how I’ve been dealing with it and what I’m doing on my own outside my doctor’s help to get rid of it. I’ve done quite a bit of research and let me say that in this area of women’s health, the advancements are sorely lacking. When it’s done I’ll put a link up to it so you can take a look if that’s what you really want, but this blog isn’t the place for that type of thing. I’ll probably put it up on Amazon and other platforms for free as I don’t want to make money off it–just offer awareness in all the places that I can. It will be about 10,000 words, and formatted that might be enough to put it into a hardcopy form but I’ll have to look up KDP Print’s minimum page number count.


You all know I’m on Clubhouse and over the weekend they had an Indie Author’s Conference. They had a variety of speakers, and one evening a 7-figure author spoke about how she launched her books. Of course the “room” was packed and I sat with a notebook and was prepared to take a million notes. I have launches come up too, and I am soaking up a lot of launch plan information right now. Quickly I learned that her launch plan was going to be very different from my launch plan and I left the room discouraged. This author has been publishing for years, has a giant newsletter following, has a lot of books across four pen names and the information, while great, didn’t contain much I was going to be able to use. I am so grateful to the indie authors who are making it who are willing to share their information, but when you’re starting from zero like me and my new pen name and the only information I have is what I’ve learned on my own publishing the last four years, the information they share you may just not be ready for. There were little things like the promo sites she uses (David Gaughran has a great list here) and of course, everything I hear these days is to start a newsletter to keep your readers engaged, and she does reiterate that your book has to be ready to launch. Edited, good cover, good blurb, back matter up to snuff with the call to action of your choice (preorder link for next book perhaps) otherwise it’s not going to matter how you launch, your book will be DOA. I understand all that, but it is still a shame that authors giving advice have to remind other authors of that. At any rate, I will keep scrounging for information first, second, third, or even fourth time launchers can use. Here are the top items in my launch plan that I will start using and keep using going forward:

  1. Start/keep up a newsletter, though I’m not going to be able to participate in swaps until I can get something going and have something to offer in return.
  2. Use promo sites like Freebooksy/Robins Reads/ENT. Every once in a while you hear of a name that hasn’t been shared before that I forget too, like Red Feather Romance, part of Written Word Media specifically for romance authors.
  3. Use Amazon ads. Once I get my pen name up and going I may try Facebook ads again. The few times I have they haven’t worked very well, sucking up my money with no conversion or sales on my end, but that could be an operator issue and not a machine issue. Also, I think that what I wrote in my last blog post is absolutely true: ads work when your book is already selling well. I’ve learned you can’t press publish and walk away. I dropped the ball many times when I should have been working harder than ever to use that new release energy.

When you’re absorbing info from other authors you have to decide what you can use and what you’re not ready for. There is no shame to admit that some of the information you’re hearing is over your head. I understand why organizers of these events ask the big-time authors to share what works for them because the info they provide is invaluable. Not only do they show us the technical/business side of the writing, they show us that it is actually possible to make a living, to create a reader following.This author has been writing and publishing for years and has built an audience and more importantly, keeps that audience fed with consistent releases. You may not be ready for the information for different reasons. You can’t release that fast, or you can’t afford all the things she’s doing, or maybe you don’t even know what genre you want to write in yet and you’re exploring your options. There’s no shame in admitting you aren’t at someone else’s level. In fact, it’s smart or you’ll get overwhelmed and you’ll just go crazy trying to keep up with someone you have no chance at keeping up with. And possibly spending money you don’t have. This isn’t comparisonitis, it’s simply taking what you can, if anything, and moving on to an author more your level who is killing it in their own way. I kind of came to this realization too, while listening to Mark Dawson’s launch plan mini-course I purchased from his SPF University. He’s so far from where I am, all I can do is take bits and pieces and hopefully twist what he does into what I can use for my own purposes.

I like listening to Clubhouse chats, and there are so many people out there who are willing to share what they know. Maybe one day I’ll be sharing what I know on Clubhouse too, but I’ll definitely be starting from zero.

What I’m liking now:

David Gaughran Starting from Zero course graphic. Blue with author photo.

Speaking of starting from zero, David Gaughran has a free course that takes you through exactly that. You can find it here. (Image taken from his website.)

The Six Figure Author podcast did an episode where the hosts talked about what they did wrong at the beginning of their careers. This episode is especially interesting to listen to if you haven’t published yet, and you can listen to it here.

That’s all I have for today! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Putting emphasis on marketing over writing: an indie author issue.

It’s probably not a secret by now that I find a lot of my blog post ideas on Twitter. Be that something i don’t agree with, or something I whole-heartedly stand behind, or even something going on that I have an opinion about and want to share with others who might find that event (for lack of a better word) interesting.

Writer Twitter is fascinating, to say the least. Lots of ideas ranging from “you can’t make a living writing” to “a book deal is the only way to go” make a unique experience when you’re scrolling through the #writingcommunity hashtag.

Obviously I have my own ideas when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, and I believe in a few things that not all indies agree with: writing to market, picking a genre and sticking with it to build an audience, not using Twitter as a place for successful promo. I could probably list a few more, but it’s not important.

Today I saw a tweet from Joanna Penn, and she had commented on Lindsay Buroker’s tweet about how many books she has published:

I’ve listened to Joanna’s podcast enough that I totally read her tweet in her voice and British accent! Joanna always exudes an enthusiasm with indie publishing and life in general that sometimes it wears me out listening to her. But her excitement is usually infectious and it makes me glad that I’m an indie author and part of her community.

This is a really long intro into what I wanted to talk about today. I think that Joanna’s right in that indies put a lot of emphasis on marketing and not enough (or as much as they should) on the actual writing and publishing side of things.

The saying is true that the best marketing is writing your next book but we get really caught up in the excitement that comes with a launch and we want to push that book as long and as hard as we can. I don’t want to take away the satisfaction that comes with writing and publishing a book–we should always celebrate that–but as another saying goes, this is a marathon not a sprint, and you can celebrate the first mile, but trust me I ran a half marathon (once a long time ago) and the first mile isn’t much when you think you have twenty five more to go.

Lindsay’s brilliant career aside, I made up a list of the real reasons why it’s better to publish consistently, even if that’s just two books a year.

The Amazon algorithms will favor your book around your launch period. Amazon wants to give you boost, and anyone who launches well in their categories without doing any work can tell you this. They give you a head start, so to speak, but it’s up to you what you do with it. Most indies drop the ball because they haven’t mastered ads, or they don’t have a newsletter, or they think they can keep ranking without doing anything. But a good launch ranking is more of an illusion than anything else and if you don’t use it, you’ll sink like a stone. Publishing consistently will at least keep the Amazon’s algorithms eyes on you and as you and your books build momentum, the little push Amazon gives you can turn into something useful. All it takes is a little spark to create a flame.

Here are the stats from an author I know who launched a book during the first week of August 2019:

A friend and I were chatting about how well he was ranking for a first time author without prior books released. We didn’t know then that it’s normal to rank higher during launch week. Those aren’t bad numbers for a new author with no backlist, newsletter, no ads running, and no audience. I can’t give you the exact date he published as he re-released his book in the summer of 2020, but it just goes to show that Amazon wants to help you. Use that to your advantage.

Your Amazon Ads will do better. There are a ton of things I could talk about with ads, but the most relevant one concerning this blog post is the fact that if you’re running ads to old books, it’s like pushing a boulder up a mountain. I think it was Robert J. Ryan in his book Amazon Unleashed that used the metaphor. You might make a little headway, but in the end it probably won’t work that well. I skimmed through the first part of his book trying to find it, but I can’t. I’m pretty sure I read it in his book though, and it’s a great resource if you’re looking for more information about running Amazon ads. It all comes down to relevancy. All my books are over a year old and I try like crazy with ads to sell them. It doesn’t matter how much I bid, how high my daily budgets are, Amazon knows they’re old, and to be fair, Amazon knows they didn’t launch well. It’s tough to make Amazon care about your book and if you waste your launch period, it’s even harder.

Your frontlist sells your backlist. That’s something I’ve heard many times, but it’s not applicable if your lone book is your backlist and no frontlist is forthcoming anytime soon. This is especially important if you’re writing in a series. I still see so many indie authors trying to push a book one, when they aren’t even writing book two. What is the point of that? All that work you’re doing right now to bring readers into your series, you’re going to have to do over and over every time you release a book. Yeah, you can get them onto your mailing list and keep them updated as you write more books, but honestly, I’ve only seen this work for established authors who have an audience and that audience trusts them to follow through with the series. I’m going to stop there because I’ve blogged about that many times. But here are a couple more articles on frontlist selling your backlist.

What is a Backlist?

We Need to Talk About the Backlist

You’re giving readers what they want. As your audience grows, you’ll be giving your readers what they want. Being prolific can add stress and pressure to your career, but when readers are looking forward to your next book, that’s a good problem to have. I feel sorry for George RR Martin. Readers really want the next GoT books, but he’s stated the pressure is so intense it’s given him writer’s block. Of course, we can all hope to have the problem the size of George’s, but as you grow an audience they will look forward to every new release and publishing consistently feeds them. Out of anything on this list, this reason is probably the most important in the argument for consistent publishing.

As indies we talk so much about marketing that we forget we need something to market. I’ll never forget the writer who started Bryan’s Amazon Ads Profit Challenge and asked after we started: Do we need a book published for this? I get we can be excited and sometimes that excitement is putting the cart before the horse. Writing is hard. Learning ads is easy compared to that. Writing is hard. Playing with Canva is a lot more fun. Writing is hard. Writing a blog post or updating your website is a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Writing is hard. It’s easier to read in your genre and call it research.

Not everyone can be like Lindsay and have several 10,000 word days a week, but she does, and it’s no secret how she can write a 150,000 word epic fantasy novel in just a few weeks’ time.

Being prolific helps with marketing. It’s a lot easier to market if you have a new launch every few months.

I don’t have a system yet as to how I write and publish books. Publishing consistently gives the process almost an assembly line feel, but I try not to think of it that way. If you have a process, you’re much better off to think of it as being efficient with your time rather than typing The End, looking up from your laptop and yelling, Thank You, Next! a la Ariana Grande and shoving the manuscript on to your editor. Just because you publish frequently doesn’t mean you don’t care about your books or characters less than someone who has to take a year to write a book.

In a previous blog post I talked about taking time with your launches, enjoying your books, giving them room to breathe. I haven’t done that, not with the 13 books I have completed on my laptop because I enjoy the writing process so much. I jump from one finished book to the next without regard for how how I’m going to publish them or when. I may have gotten carried away with the writing part of it, but at least I’ve got the hardest part down pat.

As a friend likes to say, it’s all about the books. But you can’t market if you don’t have any. Create the product then worry about the rest later.

Until next time!

Mare of Easttown: A Character and Plot Study plus Author Resources. (Spoiler Alert!)

**Spoiler Alert!** I’m going to talk about the HBO Max crime show starring Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown. I won’t give everything away, but if you haven’t yet started and want to keep all the details a surprise, skip this blog post. I won’t be mad. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the show, Mare of Easttown is about a detective played by Kate Winslet who lives in a rundown New England town. When a homicide takes place, she investigates. While it’s only on its third episode as of this writing, it didn’t take me long to get sucked in, and after every episode, I’m excited to get back to my own manuscript. Not many shows or movies encourage me to want to write, but Mare of Easttown definitely gets the creative spark going every time I watch.

Mare is a typical detective, and until you list her attributes and flaws, you don’t realize how cliche her character is to the police procedural, crime genre. Of course, that can be a good thing–you have to meet reader and viewer expectations. She drinks too much, though I wouldn’t quite call her an alcoholic. She has a tragic back story: dealing with the death of a child, the death of her father when she was young, and a divorce. Those are important because they make her what she is–a rough around the edges, but kind, character. She doesn’t let anyone get too close to her, and that includes her friends, her mother, and her remaining child.

The one thing that sets my teeth on edge, and I suppose you could consider that a good thing, as it’s eliciting some kind of emotion, is that her life would be a lot easier if she made better choices. Everything from her temper to the way she treats her friends and family to the way she drinks while she goes over evidence and police reports at home, it all makes me want to shake her and tell her her life doesn’t have to be this way. Probably, if she’s got a good character arc going for herself courtesy of the writers of the show, she’ll figure it out. What remains to be seen is how much she’s going to have to lose before she does.

Other facets of the show that are actually tropes of the genre are the out-of-town detective who is also assigned to the case because Mare isn’t doing a good enough job, her ex-husband getting remarried, and she develops a love interest with an outsider–a guest author who is teaching at the local college. Right away we see that the detective also assigned to the case is going to cause friction, though to my surprise it didn’t take many episodes for them to start getting along, but I was glad of that. Mare has so many other conflicts with her personal life that she doesn’t need to add any more in her professional life. Her professional life is already rocky as the Chief of their department, her boss, isn’t happy with her performance with a previous still-open case and that has consequences later on. Her ex-husband is implicated in the homicide, and of course, I would bet in one of the episodes that her love interest will also be implicated in some way. That’s just the way these shows and books go. Whether anything will come of it, we don’t know. Red herrings are what make this genre. The best writing is when everyone is a little bit guilty and the red herrings have a some merit.

I really like the feel of the show, how gritty it is, and we get a taste with the opening credits. It’s rainy, cold. There is no sun, and even if it’s not raining, everything looks washed out and old. You can tell right away that this is a poor town. Not enough money to go around–Mare lives with her mother to help share costs, and her mother is another source of conflict. I just cringe the way she treats her mother when I have so much regret with the way I treated mine before she died. Anyway, life is hard, and we see that in the way the sun never shines and everyone is walking around in a winter jacket frozen to the bones.

There would be a lot that goes into writing something like this–because at the heart of the show is the homicide that Mare has to solve. All the other stuff like relationships and how she deals with her losses, or how her family members are connected to the crime, they are all just obstacles she has to overcome or at least bury so she can do her job. As a casual consumer, it was fun to watch her and her new partner search a local park at night for shell casings and/or a stray bullet, but as a writer and one with zero knowledge of police work, I watched carefully how Mare found a chip off a building caused by a ricocheting bullet, and how she followed (imagined?) the trajectory to find the bullet buried in a tree. That’s tenacious, but we also get a glimpse that under the beer and vaping and personal problems, she is (was?) a good cop.

Under the heart of all of it is the police work, and it has to fit into the story as seamlessly as the rest.

Would I want to write something as involved as Mare of Easttown? I’m not sure. I like the romance part of writing, and I don’t think that Mare and her guest author are going to ride off into the sunset. That’s not the kind of show this is. My detective would definitely need a love interest, a serious one, but one that brings as many problems to her life as it solves.

The only things I know about police work are from the eight seasons of Castle that I loved to watch, but when you get into crime fiction like this, unfortunately, the devil is in the details. If real cops shot their guns as many times as Kate Beckett does in one episode, they’d be out of a job. No, I’d definitely need to dive deep into the world of police work, and besides enjoying watching Castle and Mare of Easttown, I’m not quite sure if that level of interest would fuel a book or a series like the one I’m reading now about Emma Griffin, an FBI agent by AJ Rivers.

If I wanted to write crime like this I would have to prepare big-time, and I would start with these:

1. Read Cops and Writers: From The Academy To The Street by Patrick J O’Donnell. When looking at resources, it’s important to try to find things that are current. Police policy and laws change all the time. You want to start off as close to this year as you possibly can, then you can research details as you write. This book was published in 2019. Not bad.

2. Listen to these two podcast episodes on the Self Publishing Formula. One is with Patrick J O’Donnell, the gentleman who wrote the book above, and Hollie S. Roberts.

3. Join the FB group that Patrick and James talk about. I’m not a member but it sounds like a great resource for writers. You can find it here.

4. Watch more shows like Mare of Easttown and definitely read more books. I started Big Little Lies on HBO as well, and that is also an interesting show where the plot revolves around a murder. I enjoyed reading the two detective books from Dea Poirier, and if I did decide to write in this genre, I would definitely dig up more. (No pun intended.)

5. I would have to decide if writing a series is the way to go or a standalone, and even these days domestic thrillers/crime are being written more in the first person POV as AJ Rivers’ and Dea’s books are. First person and third person both have limitations and would dictate how you write your books. I’m very comfortable with first person right now, but it’s not so easy to give another character their POV like it is in third person. They are a little old, but Tami Hoag’s detective series is written in third person past and they are based in Minneapolis, which I enjoyed.

6. I would buy a police scanner and listen to the types of calls that come in around my area. Not only would it give me a feel for the kind of crime that is committed in my city, but I think it would also spark story ideas.

7. Undoubtedly I’d want to make a contact at my local police department. It can be something as small as taking a tour, or something more involved as requesting a ride-along, but chances are good I’m going to need someone I can email questions to. Contact your the PR department for your local police department and ask how you can reach out to a police officer.

While I may never want to write crime/detective novels, there’s no doubt that there’s a certain dark romance to them that intrigues almost everyone. Whether I want to devote time to a new genre, that decision won’t come until much later. I have several things on my plate right now, but I’m going to bookmark Mare and come back to her time after time. Everyone can use a little motivation now and then, and she’s mine.

Until next time!

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday Thoughts: How fast do you write?

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope the week is treating you well.

There isn’t much going on in my corner of the world. I’m close to finishing my fake fiancé billionaire romance. I keep saying I’m going to take a break from writing and do other things, things I need to do like set up my newsletter, but I always dive into another book. After this book is done and breathing, I will get my newsletter sorted out and go through the edits my beta reader will give me when she’s done with my ugly duckling trope I gave to her a few weeks ago. I’m going to have my newsletter link and welcome email ready for the back of that book and publish it as soon as it’s ready. That is my plan for the next couple of months, providing everything goes well.

I only say that because I’m still dealing with this infection and while it’s only a bit painful and uncomfortable, it still takes away my focus. With any health issues, minor or major, sometimes you can’t help but worry about what’s going on. Thinking I might have to live with this for the rest of my life (there are only so many rounds of antibiotics I want to subject my body to) causes me some stress, though thank goodness I don’t have the anxiety I had at the beginning of the year. I admire anyone who can write while they have health issues, mental or physical. I am doing my best to stay positive and keep writing, and hopefully, one day, this too shall pass.


On that note, I want to talk a little bit about writing speed. There’s been some talk on Twitter about quality versus quantity, and the majority agreement seems to be you can’t have both. I have to admit, this makes me a little cranky because as someone who has a lot of time to write, and uses that time, I do manage to write a romance novel of about 75k to 80k in about two months, give or take. Writing in 3rd person past tense was harder for me for some reason, and writing in 1st person present tense, the books seem to go faster. All that is besides the point though. There will be writers who take years to finish a novel, and there will be others who can finish a book in a month, or even a couple of weeks.

I think one of the main reasons we still think it should take time to write a book is because the traditional publishing industry only publishes one book a year by an author. (Normally. Nora Roberts’ publicist just mentioned on Nora’s FB official page that Nora writes four books a year. They have to go somewhere.) That is their publishing schedule, and we tend to to think they do that because the author needs that year to write the book, when in reality, that author probably wrote that book in three months, and it takes the rest of the year for edits, book cover design, formatting, and a huge marketing push before the book comes out.

With indie publishing, any timetable is non-existent. Write as fast as you want, publish when you want. Depending on the genre–romance, cozy mysteries–authors can write books quickly, send them off to their editors, hire out formatting and book covers, and keep up with a schedule that might seem grueling to some, but easy for them. That does not mean their books are crap.

I really resent anyone who implies my books are crappy because I can write them in a reasonable amount of time. There are writers who are faster than me. Lindsay Buroker averages 10k to 12k days (not weeks) regularly. Does that mean her words are crap? She’s a seven figure author. She’ll tell you her readers say, no, her books are not crap. There are writers who dictate and can write thousands of words an hour. Do I feel slow writing romance? Maybe. I feel REALLY slow knowing I haven’t published anything since early 2020 and I’m taking the steps I need to rectify that.

I could go into my daily routine and show you all my obstacles and how I write despite them, but you all know I’m divorced and a single mom of two human kids and three cat kids. I work full time. I do the shopping alone. I read fiction and nonfiction, write this blog, spend time with my sister, listen to podcasts, and go for walks. I still write 10-15k words a week.

If you have to belittle someone for using the time they have to write, you need to look at yourself and your own schedule. Where does your time go? What is your mindset? Where do you want your career and business to go and how fast? Do you think of your writing as a business or is it just a hobby? If you say you don’t want to write one day because you’re not in the mood and all you’ll write is crap, guess what? You need to write the crap before you write the quality. In quantity comes quality. It takes thousands of hours of practice to master anything. If you don’t put in those thousands of hours, you won’t have the quantity and your quality will suffer. I learn something new about myself and my writing every time I write a new book. A writer will never stop learning, and every book he writes will be better than the one before. That’s quality and quantity in a nutshell.

Craig Martelle did a 5 Minute Focus on the topic of quality. You can listen to it here:

So please stop sneering at the people who write quickly. It doesn’t mean their books are terrible. There are going to be terrible books out there. A debut novel will never sound as good as that author’s tenth, even if they worked on it for five years. I’ve clocked a lot of hours writing, a lot of hours going through beta readers’ notes, and editors’ comments. I write. I learn. I write some more. I’ve earned a two-month book.

If you want to increase your speed, here are two great resources! Check them out. 🙂

Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love is a fabulous resource.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Also, Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour will help you boost your word count.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Chris also did a really fun interview on the Six Figure Authors Podcast where he talks about writing speed, making your writing time count, and writing to market. I love listening to him speak, and you can listen here:


And last, but not least, I’m formatting interview answers by the lovely Barbara Avon! She’s been writing and publishing for a little while now and she has some great advice when it comes to navigating the indie publishing world. I’m also giving away a paperback copy of her book Sacrilege and a $25 dollar Amazon gift card. That interview will show up on Monday, so check back and enter!


That is all for now, I hope you have a lovely weekend! Keep writing!

Until next time!

Pricing Your Book: Who is your reader?

My local mall doesn’t have a lot to offer. You might think that’s crazy–why would the city mall in Fargo, ND be lacking? Joking aside, there aren’t many stores in the mall anymore. “Back in the day”, there used to be something for everyone: toy stores, candy stores, bookstores, clothing and shoe stores for every family income range. Back to school used to be an exciting day-long event.

Now, not so much.

The other day I noticed they are putting in a Sephora–that’s expensive makeup to anyone who doesn’t know.

Last month they opened an Athleta to replace Gap. That’s an expensive workout clothing store to anyone who doesn’t know.

I wondered why they put in an Athleta when we got a Lululemon last year. That’s more expensive workout clothes if you didn’t know. Pair those stores with a Dry Goods and a Francesca, and the only affordable place left is JC Penney with customer service so bad I don’t bother to shop there. I don’t want to go through the hassle of paying for something if I find something I want.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this, and my point is, if you’re financially challenged, you’re not shopping at my local mall. You’re going to bring your limited spending money to places like Kohl’s (don’t forget your coupon!), TJ Maxx, Old Navy, and Marshall’s.

This made me start thinking about where the mall finds their customers, and how indie authors find their readers.

Whether my mall has intended to do so or not, they are shutting out the little shoppers. Shoppers who can’t afford $100 dollars for workout leggings. Shoppers who could spend $100 at Kohl’s and buy three or four pieces of clothing–maybe more.

When you price your book at launch and you choose if your book is going to be in Kindle Select to take part in the Kindle Unlimited program, or wide (on other platforms like Books and Nook) you are consciously deciding where your readers are coming from and how much money they have.

In KU, readers pay $9.99 a month to read an unlimited number of books. Granted, not all books are in KU–a lot of traditionally published books are not, so a reader is sacrificing selection for value (though with the number of books published every year, month, and day that’s not much of a sacrifice if you ask me).

Anyway, so KU readers are one type of readership. They may be whale readers and read a book a day, or every two days, and their subscription fee pays for itself in a week and the rest of the month really is “free” for them. They may love indie authors and binge every book that author has written before they move on to another author. No matter how or what they read, they have limited income and $9.99 a month is a bargain.

Being wide cultivates a different readership, though you do have more flexibility with your prices and sales–if you choose to use them and many indies do not. When indies are wide they expect readers to pay for their books (duh). They can’t be borrowed like the KU model (unless you’ve enrolled your book in the program Kobo offers, but if I’m not mistaken you have to publish directly to Kobo instead of using an aggregator for the option to join).

Readers on other platforms may have more disposable cash and will buy your $2.99 book if they really want to read it. They won’t blink an eye at spending $11.97 for a four-book series at $2.99/each. Sometimes indies will do a permafree book, meaning it’s free everywhere, usually the first book in a long series to draw readers in, or they’ll run a .99 cent sale, but when you’re wide, you have to figure out your marketing strategy or no one will know you’re having a sale.

I’ll scroll through Twitter and see a book promo that makes me interested enough to click on it. Sometimes I’ll click on that link and see the book isn’t in KU, but the author hasn’t added any other store links to the tweet to indicate they are selling on other platforms, too. That ends up wasting my time, and other readers’ time when they have a KU subscription and are looking for books to read in KU. What’s the point of going wide if all you’re going to do is promote your Amazon buy-link?

This isn’t a blog post about enrolling into KU versus selling your books wide. There are plenty of those, and I don’t need to add my voice to the noise. But what this blog post is about is knowing who your reader is and guesstimating how much money they have to spend on books. With all the free content out there, and sales, too, a reader with a KU subscription or limited funds isn’t likely to spend $4.99 on an ebook. Especially if that ebook is only 50k words like a lot of romances out there. My opinion may be unpopular, especially with indies being told these days to “know your worth.” I know my worth, and I also respect my readers’ pocketbooks.

So what exactly am I proposing?

*If you’re wide, promote your books and all their platforms. You can use Books 2 Read, a universal link creator that will create a link to your book that will point your reader in the direction of their favorite retailer.

*Make your reader aware of sales. You can use social media for this, and your newsletter, but also use promo sites that let readers know your book is on sale. Some readers who like you when your books aren’t in KU or Kobo Plus have to wait until your book is on sale, and that’s the choice you’re making not enrolling into one of these programs.

*Read Wide for the Win by Mark Leslie Lefebvre. This is a great resources for reaching all the readers you can while publishing wide. Which is why you went wide in the first place, right?
Joanna Penn interviewed him recently on her podcast, and you can listen to it here:

*Research how to sell books at regular price. More often than not you’re asking readers to buy a book at full price. Some readers still have a hard time swallowing the idea of parting with money for something they can’t hold in their hands–like an ebook. Check out David Gaughran’s video on how to sell your book at full price:

*Research how to reach wide readers with ads specifically for wide books. David Gaughran also has a really awesome book on how to use BookBub ads, and you can find it here. Mal and Jill Cooper has a fabulous book out on how to use FB ads, and you can find it here.

*Make your books available in the library system. This is one of the sad things about having to be exclusive with Amazon while my books are in KU. I can’t add my ebooks to the library system. When you are wide, aggregators like Draft2Digital will enroll your books in library systems like Overdrive and bibliotheca. Ask readers to request your book from their local libraries.

*Go wide with your paperbacks too. Clicking expanded distribution on Amazon with your paperbacks is limiting and earns you less royalties than if you publish with IngramSpark. IngramSpark will distribute your paperbacks to all the online book retailers and also enroll your book into the library system.

My local mall has lost sight of who its customer is. Unfortunately because of what they offer (or don’t) I can no longer be one of them. I can’t afford to shop at most of their stores, and the one or two that interest me aren’t worth the hassle of finding a parking spot, navigating down the corridors to the store and then leaving again. Customers with money can browse the high-end selection from Lululemon or buy games and other computer/gaming equipment from Best Buy–an anchor store that replaced Sears when the chain went out of business.

When you sell anything, you have to know who your customer is so you can tell them about the products you have. Probably the most profound piece of marketing advice I ever heard was this: Don’t force customers come to you, you go to your customer. I don’t know who said it first, I think Craig Martelle said it in one of his YouTube videos–it could have been anyone in indie marketing space, honestly–and it’s true. “Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to books. My mall needs to show me they want my business by offering me stores I can afford to shop at. Since they aren’t, they’re telling me they don’t care about my business, that the customers who can afford to shop there are enough for them.

When you’re wide and you only put your Amazon link in a tweet, you’re telling a potential customer that a) you don’t care if they have a KU subscription or you’re hoping they don’t and b) you don’t care if they like to read on a different platform.

I don’t care if you’re wide or not, your business plans are not any of my concern, but if you are, I can’t buy your book, not unless you somehow let me know your book is on sale. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of reader my income has turned me into and there are a lot of readers like me out there.

What’s really interesting is that just this morning I was listening to Andrea, Lindsay, and Jo on their newest podcast episode of Six Figure Author, and Andrea polled her newsletter subscribers. She asked them why her newest series hasn’t done so well, and the resounding answer was that readers lost a lot of disposal income due to COVID. Also a lot of people just weren’t in the mood to read because the past year has been so stressful. If you want to listen to the podcast you can listen here:

Find your reader, market to them.


Coming up, I’m going to have an author interview with Barbara Avon and maybe a giveaway too! Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday Thoughts, Clubhouse, and Time to Think.

It seems all anyone can talk about these days is Clubhouse, and I was lucky enough to be invited into the app exclusive for iPhone users (thanks Aidy!). If you haven’t heard of Clubhouse, it’s an app where you can drop in on any room of your choosing and be a fly on the wall. I’m a part of a couple of indie writing rooms and a publishing room. One of the rooms, or I guess “club”, is hosted by my Level Up Romance Group on Facebook. There I get to listen to the speakers “on stage” chat about whatever topic they’ve decided on (today it was Kindle’s new platform Vella, but that’s a different blog post). It’s not scripted, not like a podcast where the interviewer answers questions previously given to them by the hosts. It’s fashioned as more of a chat/discussion, or if you’ve ever been to a conference (not just a writing conference but any professional conference) I liken it to dropping into a breakout session and listening in. If you don’t get anything out of it, or you need to attend a different session, you can slip out the door, or in the app’s case, you can press on “leave quietly” and leave the room.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of this app–I’ve never spoken and haven’t been invited to. (My area of expertise is limited and I’m not making any money selling books so I doubt an invitation will be forthcoming in the near future.) I’m still learning how to move about the app (or hallways), and the first time I attended a room, I was scared to blow my nose because I wasn’t sure if I was muted or not. (Unless you’re invited to speak, you are, but it’s up to you to unmute yourself when it’s your turn to contribute.)

As you can imagine, there is a lot of information passed along these casual chats and it feeds right into my Fear Of Missing Out.

I present myself as a pretty stable individual mental-health wise, and for the most part, I am. But when it comes to the indie publishing industry and all the information out there, I have a desperate fear of missing out on the NEXT NEW THING. How are authors making money, what are they doing, what are they trying? I can get a bit obsessive when it comes to gathering information, and it’s only been in the past six months or so where I’ve tried, consciously tried, to loosen the reins and dump some Facebook groups. I don’t listen to nearly as many podcasts as I used to, either. I haven’t listened to Joanna Penn for quite some time, and it’s been while since I listened to the Wish I’d Known Then podcast hosted by Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, though that one should be at the top of my list since they both write romance and interview romance authors on the regular. I don’t listen to The Sell More Books Show since Jim Kukral left. I don’t care for the new format (no offense, Bryan!) and I don’t click with H. Claire Taylor, Bryan’s new cohost. The only podcast that I listen to every week is the 6 Figure Author podcast. I like Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea, though if it’s just the three of them talking, sometimes their information can get a bit repetitive, and I’m not always interested in their guests, though they are more business-minded than some podcasts I’ve listened to about publishing (recently they interviewed Joe Solari).

The reason why I stopped listening to so many podcasts is because if I listened to as many as I think I needed I wanted, or as many as are available, my mind would not rest. I need the time unplugged to think about my books. I need the time to mull over my plots, what my characters are doing, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. If I constantly have a voice yipping in my ear, my brain can’t wander, I can’t brainstorm, and my books will never get done.

There isn’t only one way to write a book, but this is my way. It helps me keep writer’s block at bay. There is no quicker way for me to shut down than if I sit at my computer and I don’t know what I need to write during that session. I call myself a planster, and I plot as I go along, and for me, that does mean knowing what I need to write that day even if I don’t know what I need tomorrow.

This applies to blog posts too. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say on the drive home from dropping my daughter off at school. I never would have had that time if I would have been listening to a Clubhouse meeting or a podcast. Sometimes even music takes away the space in my brain, and in the past I’ve been able to write with music in the background, but I’m moving away from that and writing in silence more and more.

So, enter Clubhouse and my need to know everything. So far the app is new, and there aren’t many rooms you can join, which is a good thing for me. To add to the urgency, rooms aren’t recorded. Either you can join and listen at that moment or you can’t. At least with a podcast, webinar (most offer replays though you can’t join in with a live Q & A session), or even a YouTube video, you can listen at your leisure. While Clubhouse could be a fabulous resource for authors down the road (especially once they are out of beta and you don’t need an invite to join) FOMO is real for a lot of people, and it will be interesting to see how others handle their time.

I don’t know everyone who is on stage most of the time, I know a few of the authors who speak, and they are all full-time authors. I mean, if you’re making ten grand a month on your books, I guess you can feel like you can make time to listen and join the rooms. I need all of my writing time still, because I work full time, have three cats (one of which is always needing something) two kids, and a social life. I need time to shut my brain off or my books won’t get written.

Time to think about your stories and blog posts and other content you share on social media is important, and I need to remind myself constantly that I don’t need to know everything. I like knowing what’s going on in the industry, especially romance. I probably wouldn’t have started writing in first person present had I not been keeping my ear to the ground. I wouldn’t have gone with MailerLite if it wasn’t the most recommended newsletter aggregator. Chances are if I wasn’t paying attention to the indie news in general, I wouldn’t have known to ask for a Clubhouse invite in the first place.

But I have to make sure I have space in my brain for books–which is doubly difficult if you’re already worried about something going on in your life. For me, it’s my health, but I’m slowly getting back to normal there, and eventually that space can be taken up with something else–hopefully nothing quite so serious. The next time I need an oil change, maybe, or when I need to make an appointment for a hair trim. It’s emotionally exhausting worrying about something, and when you can find quiet, it’s best to take it instead of cuing up a podcast or joining a room on Clubhouse.

It’s all about finding that elusive balance.

And that’s always easier said than done.

All stock photos supplied by Canva Pro.

Keeping Your Focus: Shiny Object Syndrome

When there is so much you can (and should) be doing as an indie author, it’s difficult to keep your focus. Writing should come first, though sometimes it doesn’t, and when you let other things get in the way you can suddenly look up and see that several days have passed and you haven’t written a single thing. And by other things I don’t mean laundry or family activities. I mean making graphics for your Facebook ads, searching for keywords and making ads on Amazon, watching craft videos on YouTube and an assortment of other things that are important to your business but can take time away from your writing.

Another issue that plagues writers is the shiny object syndrome. Writing is hard, and it’s tempting to chuck a current project and start something new. Beginnings for some are a lot easier than finding your way through the murky middle of a book or you finished a project and don’t care to edit it because you ignored a couple of major problems you didn’t, and still don’t, know how to fix.

The problem is though that if you let your shiny object syndrome go on for too long, all you’ll have is a computer full of half finished projects and no clear idea of how to move forward.

Last year I realized a rather surprising cause of burnout–lack of progress, lack of moving forward and/or lack of success. When you feel like a hamster on a wheel, it’s no wonder you can get tired quickly.

So what can you do to start moving forward?

  1. Figure out your plan. If you’re writing to build an audience you need to publish consistently (in all ways, I’m learning, genre as well as time-wise) even if that’s a book a year. If you’re dabbling, maybe you don’t care as much about completing a project, but even dabblers and hobbyists need to complete projects now and then. Finishing something gives everyone a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and publishing on Amazon, your blog, or a place like Wattpad feeds our need to have readers read our work and supplies the feedback we crave.
  2. Make a list. What are all the projects you have going right now? What projects do you have simmering in the back of your mind? Make a list of the projects that are sitting on your computer in various stages of completion, then make a list of what you’d like to write in the future. Many authors have a file full of ideas to draw from when they are ready to start a new project. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on a great idea–you can always come back to it once your plate is clear.
  3. What is your closest project to completion? If you choose a project that’s almost done, finishing it will be that much faster. Then you can let a beta reader read it, workshop it with a critique partner, or post it on your blog.
  4. Create a cover for it. These days it doesn’t matter if it’s just an extra epilogue for a newsletter sign up, or a short story, everything needs a cover these days, and you can find motivation and inspiration to finish that project if you create a cover for it with the idea that one day soon you’ll publish it. Canva makes it easy to look at templates and experiment with font and font placement. Just be careful that you don’t spend too much time doing that. A project that will never get done doesn’t need a cover.

I have a lot of projects on my computer, almost 9 books in various stages of edits. I’ll get them done, but like in my blog post musing about publishing and launch plans, I need to figure some things out. I need to publish something soon, so I can find the high again. There is nothing, NOTHING, like holding the proof of your paperback book in your hands. I’m going to try to do a better job of putting my work out there on social media. Never been afraid to blow your own horn. Not many will do it for you!

I was trolling Twitter while I took a break writing this post, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Focusing your energy and your attention is hard–there is so much outside stimulation vying for it–but it will be worth it in the end when you can check off items one by one on your list.

That is a great feeling to propel you to finish even more things!

Good luck!

Want to read more about shiny object syndrome? Check these out!

Do You Have ‘Shiny Object’ Syndrome? What It Is and How to Beat It

5 Ways to Resist Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and Finish What You Start