Your (fluffy) Book Matters! (and a Monday Blues update)

I was going to do a video clip on how I made one of my book covers in Canva because I had a few people asking how I created a cover like that when I posted Captivated by Her in an FB book cover feedback group. Many of the members were surprised I did the entire thing in Canva, so I said I would record what I did.

Unfortunately, when my son visited last weekend (he moved in with this dad a couple of weeks ago but spends weekends here) he also brought the flu he picked up at his new job. Wednesday I was down for the count, and I had to take Thursday and Friday off work. Because I write these early, I just didn’t feel good enough to play around with my QuickTime player and no one wants to hear my scratchy voice while I try to breathe because I can’t stop blowing my nose. I’m typing this up Friday afternoon and I am TIRED! Though I feel the worst is behind me, I’m achy and sore and frankly, beaten down.

I haven’t even felt good enough to keep editing on the last of my book I’m going to release in the fall, but while lying around, I have been thinking of a Christmas plot I could maybe write over the summer. I’ve looking at my release calendar for this year and next and there’s really no need for it, I just think it would be fun to write. I could use it as a break from all the editing and book production I’ve been doing, but it would be difficult to get into the mood in July. Haha. We’ll see what happens. I’m going to need to write something–I haven’t written for months!


Write your fluffy book!

Wednesday afternoon definitely wasn’t a good time for me to see a tweet lamenting about how there are so few readers now who read “heavy” fiction books. This is a topic I get tired of quickly. Every writer wants to write the next great American novel, but the thing is, what even is that, exactly? One of my favorite classic books is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. He may be lauded for his succinct language and his writing style, but do you know what the book is about? A man who was injured in a war, can’t get a hard on anymore and is hopelessly in love with a woman who sleeps around. At the end of the book, he realizes the type of woman she is (shallow) and that it wouldn’t have mattered if he hadn’t been injured, they never would have had the kind of relationship he wanted them to have. It’s literally women’s fiction. And women’s fiction, the last I checked, is genre fiction. A book written about a topic like that today wouldn’t win any awards. Another great American novel is The Great Gatsby, and we know that’s another book about a man falling in love with a shallow woman. I get these are poor examples; we’re not talking War and Peace here, but you get the idea.

I don’t know any writer who doesn’t want their book to change the world, but why does your book have to be “heavy” in order to do that? Winning awards doesn’t mean your book will see any sales. It means someone thought well enough of your book that you won an award. Not all of us who write care about that. I don’t. You know what would mean more to me? If someone emailed me and said, “Your book got me through a tough day. Thank you.”

Life is hard right now, and I feel like a tweet like that is tone deaf to what’s going on in the world. This person was complaining people don’t want to read a heavy book when Ukraine is still under attack, women’s rights are threatened, women are scared by the formula shortage, and so much more. If your life is that great that you aren’t being affected by those things, and you have the audacity to complain about something so trivial, congratulations. I’m happy for you. Don’t ever step foot outside your bubble.

I, for one, am happy to write romances that don’t require a dictionary by a reader’s elbow. I’m happy to write romances where a reader can pour a glass of wine and be entertained. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but don’t look down on a woman who finally got her baby to go to sleep and she just needs something that will make the shitty day she had go away. That, to me, is a greater gift than being shortlisted for any award.

There is room for all sorts of books, but you don’t make yourself feel better or look better when you insult someone else’s preferred genre–either the one they like to write or the one they like to read.

Now, I’m off to go edit my fluffy book that won’t make a difference in anyone’s life, that didn’t see me through my own hard time while I wrote it. If you don’t like it, stay away from me or I’ll cough on you.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday Madness and Creating a Community Around Your Books

I had a huge post about how ticked off I was at Facebook for restricting my page and turning off the ad to my reader magnet (Bookfunnel link) because I wasn’t following community guidelines (with their bots and lack of communication, I still have no idea what I supposedly did), but during that 24 hours, I appealed and uploaded my photo ID like they requested, and they lifted the restriction on my page and turned my ad back on. It rendered the vent in my blog drafts completely useless, but I’d rather have a useless blog post than a restricted page. I need my page. I need to be able to run ads. So I will just say thank goodness that time was the only thing wasted.

I’m at 103 subscribers now, (squee!) and I’ve had 118 claims on my book so far (with 291 clicks, so a little less than half are taking action). Yes, I’m paying ($27.00 at the moment) and I think I’ll turn it off when I reach $50.00, maybe $40.00 depending on how things go). My click spend is only 9 cents which is pretty good as far as I can tell, but this was just a small thing to get the word out, and I’ll probably run another ad when Captivated by Her is live. Even though I have a tiny bit of money to play around with, I don’t want to blow through it too fast, and there are other ways to build my list without ads. Besides the welcome email they receive when they sign up, I haven’t sent out another, and I’m looking forward to that in the next week or so. I would like to send one before my release so they aren’t hit with a “buy my book” email as the second email they get from me.

But anyway, my anger wasn’t 100% warranted (I had no idea they would help me so fast), though when I set up my ads campaign at the beginning, it would have been nice if they’d asked me for my ID first. I’m running a business, using their business to help me, and I have no problem with providing them with what they need. I just wish they weren’t so heavy-handed with the way they do things.

In the meantime, I ordered two more proofs of Captivated by Her and Addicted to Her just to make sure the changes I made to the covers turned out okay. I flipped through both books and found just a couple of tiny things to change which required me to upload new interior files, too, but I think they are going to look as good as I can get them without going crazy. I should be able to put my pre-order up for book one sooner than I thought, though waiting for June sometime while my FB ad runs a little longer while I get as many newsletter signups as I can is also an option.

This ties in really well with what I’ve been thinking about lately. I don’t read a lot of romance–I’m busy writing it instead–but I realize that an author can’t be part of the {insert genre here} community unless you know what’s going on with your peers and in the industry. I realized this, and anyone who doesn’t know what kind of content they should put in their newsletter or on social media, realizes this, too. You can’t talk about or recommend other authors, other books, romance movies, or anything else if you aren’t consuming that content. If you don’t know what to post in your newsletter, you aren’t dialed in enough. A newsletter is for news. News about you and your books, for sure, but also news about what you’re reading, what you’re watching, information that you think your readers will appreciate because you’re building a community of friends around the genre you like to read and write.

I do this with this blog. If I didn’t keep up to date for my own personal knowledge, I would never have anything to share with you. I keep up to date because it helps me with my own publishing endeavors and then I pass along what I find useful to you.

There’s no reason not to be able to do this with fiction. When the second season of Bridgerton dropped on Netflix, every romance reader known to man, even if they didn’t read historical romance, stopped right in the middle of what they were doing and sat down and binged. Because you know what happened if you didn’t? You missed out on all of the conversations that sprang up on social media. You were in the dark. You didn’t understand the outrage caused by a more chaste season, and you couldn’t weigh in on what you thought about their on-screen chemistry.

Taken from: https://www.tvinsider.com/1041720/bridgerton-season-2-storms-to-the-top-of-streaming-rankings/

Another example of this is The Lost City, a movie that came out not long ago with Sandra Bullock. I couldn’t see it in the theatre because I was recuperating from my surgery (and my sister didn’t want to see it, but don’t tell her I told you).

I’ll have to wait and stream it when it’s available, and I’ll be so late to the party everyone will already be nursing a hangover by the time I crack open my first bottle of wine. Being late doesn’t matter so much, as you can always say… “OMG! I just saw… can you believe it?!” and get the conversational ball rolling that way.

Another example I have is when Netflix dropped 365, a movie, I guess, based off a steamy romance book. I should know this. This is my forte. The second I get my words in for the day, I should be gobbling this stuff up! I’m so late to this party, there’s already a part two!

There’s nothing more heady than being able to join in with a group of people who have the same likes you do and find friends to share those things with. (You know how a lot of authors say they find their beta readers and ARC reviewers through their reader groups? This is what I’m talking about. Your readers become more than your readers because you share the same interests and you grow close to each other over time.)

It probably won’t help when I say that building a platform is like making friends because to us introverts, making friends is the scariest thing in the world, and something we aren’t good at. It requires opening up a little bit, sharing things about ourselves, and there’s always a risk of rejection when we do that. On the other hand, maybe it’s not so scary if we can already approach people with things that we have in common. A lot of what making a friend entails is weeding through all the similarities and differences, and sometimes we find that the things that we don’t share in common outweigh what we do. Then the relationship fizzles out. When that happens, what’s the worst outcome? An unsubscribe? A potential reader won’t go on to buy your books? That’s okay. We don’t need fake friends in real life, and we don’t need to hang on to people who won’t read our books.

Trying to get a new pen name off the ground has required a lot of revelations and scrutiny into the past five years to see what I’ve been doing wrong, and figuring out what I’ve done right. That may be a different post. But anyway, how can you make friends through your newsletter and social media? More importantly, how can you make friends in your genre that will draw in readers who will stick with you throughout your career? What do you have to offer them? If you say not much, go read a book in your genre, go watch a movie you can recommend that has the same vibe as your book. See what happens.

Have a good week, everyone! Next week I’ll probably play with how to make a video and record doing one of my book covers. I’ve been getting a lot of requests on how to make a romance cover with only Canva and minimal skill, too. Here’s my latest one I did for the book I’m going to release in the fall. I may do a tutorial on how I did it.

Until next time!

Monday Musings and Author Update

Hi! It is so good to be back. It feels like forever since I’ve blogged, andI I thank my guest bloggers and my author interviewee for the the time they took out of their busy schedules to help me out while I recuperated from surgery. Four weeks post-op, I’m feeling better. I’m surprised, really, at how it knocked me off my feet and I was wondering if the surgery did what I wanted it to do. But four weeks isn’t that long, and I feel like over the weekend I turned a corner of sorts. Right now I’m just trying to take it easy and work as my body allows.

What am I working on now?

Despite being laid up, I finished listening to my 6 book series, again. Rewriting to “take” out the takes and makes, come and gives (two other words I found I like to use a lot) was worth it though it did set me back a few weeks. I did the same thing with my reader magnet and duet, and I just finished that up a few days ago. It seems I can’t merge my business brain with my creative brain, (which may spell trouble for me later on down the road) and I wasn’t able to set up my newsletter and get that going until I was done editing. But I do have my reader magnet set up in Bookfunnel, and I figured out how to integrate my Bookfunnel account with my Mailerlite account. When someone opts in to my newsletter after they download my book, they’ll receive a welcome and thank you email that I created as an autoresponder. It took a lot of figuring things out, but I was able to add two and two and actually get four (though I think it took me about four hours). A friend tested it for me as by then I had run out of email addresses to try, and it worked for her. But I’m going to ask a couple more people if they’ll test it for me before I start promoting it. All I have to say is, thank goodness for YouTube!

Now that that’s out of the way, I can start formatting my duet. I’ve been getting a little feedback from a couple people in an FB group about the blurbs, and Sami Jo (I did her author interview last week) and I have been trading back and forth. She gave me a couple suggestions, so at least the hard part of that is done. It’s looking like if I continue to feel better and nothing else comes up, I can put the first one on preorder sometime in June. I still need a couple of weeks to proof the paperback proofs, so I don’t want to rush. I need to put my first book on preorder for a week or so so I have time to claim my Amazon author page, my Goodreads author page, my Bookbub author page and start running some low cost Amazon ads. I don’t want to put the preorder up for longer than a week though, because preorders that don’t do anything can hurt you, and as a “new” author without one person waiting for my book, no one is going to preorder it. Dave Chesson has a great YouTube video explaining this, and you can watch it here:

Once I get all that done, it’s time for a break! Just kidding. I need to re-edit the fake fiancé standalone I’m going to release sometime in September or October, and once that’s done and the cover finalized (I think I’m going to swap it out though that will cause some extra work for me) I want to write a Christmas novel to release in November. I have some kind of an idea, a second chance trope, I think, but only a glimmer of a plot. So we’ll see what happens. That means four books this year squished together, but I’ll be releasing 6 in 2023 because I’m tired of looking at that series and just want it done. During that time I need to finish a series I started last year (2/6 done) and after THAT I think I can slow down and fall into a three books a year schedule since I can promote my backlist by then.

Craft Tip:

While I’ve been trying to recuperate I started watching the Marvel movies again. My sister and I watched them during lockdown when our movie theaters closed since I hadn’t seen them before and it gave us something to do. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with piecing together each movie into the whole. There is so much going on within each movie and the over-reaching arc of the entire plot. I have watched all the movies once, and my favorites ended up being the last two since I have a thing for post apoc, and l love when Scott pops out of the quantum realm not knowing what Thanos did. So the other night I watched Captain America and it struck me as Steve and Peggy were talking about finding the right dance partner, that the end scene of Endgame where Steve and Peggy are dancing circled back to that first movie and their conversation. I think that is a brilliant example of tying the beginning of a story to the end and wrapping things up. Much like my speech teacher told us to tie in the end of our speech to the thesis statement at the beginning, there’s a sense of closure when you reference the beginning in the end. I don’t know if I always do this, as I write romance and the ending is already laid out, but I’m going to keep this in mind going forward. If you haven’t watched the Marvel movies, I would give them a try if only to pick them apart story-wise. They drive me crazy, but in a good way.

What I’m loving right now:

I can’t say I’m really loving this, but the Six Figure Author podcast ended last week. I will miss them, but I’ve come to realize that you can listen to all the marketing advice out there but if you’re writing in a small niche or something “out of the box” you’ve already chosen a rough path for yourself. The book content needs to come first and then the marketing advice, and I’ve been working on the subgenre/story/tropes and studying the covers of the newest releases, so the technical part of marketing has kind of fallen to the wayside and when it comes to listening, I’m behind. Toward the end of the last podcast, each host gave their own advice and it was heartening to hear that they all thought that a new author could still make it in this business, though it may take longer than it would have ten years ago or even five years ago. Indies are getting savvy with content, covers, and blurbs and slapping something together isn’t going to work anymore, not if you want to compete. Quality is the number one factor when starting up an author career, and even if you think your book is up to par, it may not be. If you want to listen to their last podcast, you can do it here.

Another thing that I’ve been loving is this book, Titans Rising: Publishing in the 21st Century. The sub, subtitle says it’s about writing SFF and Horror, but the lessons can be applied to any genre. I’m half of the way through it, and while they do talk a lot about SSF and Horror, they also talk about the publishing industry as a whole, a conversation I’m always eager to listen in on.

That’s Blaze, and she’s rowdy.

By the way, I saw someone on Twitter charging 17 dollars for something like this. While her video was just a little longer and it had more elements, it’s not worth paying for. I made this in Canva in two minutes. You want one, I’ll do it for free. FFS.

That’s all I have for this week. Not much has changed in the past month, though I’m making progress. I’m excited to publish again and even more excited that I’m figuring out some of the technical stuff with my newsletter.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Monday Author Update: Spring is Here!

There isn’t a whole lot going on with me–I’m in surgery today and I have some great guest posts lined up for the next three weeks. Barbara Avon is writing about being a multi-genre author on April 4th. She’ll also have a new book out by then, so watch for that! Vera Brook will be blogging about the benefits of writing short fiction, and that will post on April 11th, and I interviewed Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy author SJ Cairns for the 18th. That interview will have a giveaway, as well, so make sure you pop in!


I’m still plugging away trying to rewrite sentences to “take” out take and make out of my manuscripts. Those are just two crutch words I fell back on when I switched to 1st person present and I didn’t notice. After this series, I’m going to read over my reader magnet again and buff that up. While I start to build my newsletter signups after I edit my reader magnet one more time, I’ll have to edit my duet again. I mean, those words aren’t crazy to the point where the books sound bad or I would have hopefully noticed a lot sooner, but I can’t deny that the sentences are stronger when they’re rewritten. It’s such a drag, especially since I probably used those words in ALL my books, and I have two more books in a series I started and four more standalones that I’ll need to re-edit.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you an example:

Zarah will have that same power. I see glimpses of it when she’s feeling good. It makes me proud of her, but her legacy isn’t something I can comprehend.

This is a sentence from the fourth book of my series. You can see the “makes me proud” part of that sentence. I do that…all the time. In this example, it’s easy to fix it from that to simply, I’m proud of her, but her legacy isn’t something I can comprehend.

You might not think it’s a big deal, but when I do this 250 times in an 80k novel, it’s a bit much.

Another example is something like this: She stands from the couch and takes the pill bottle I gave her off her desk.

Rewriting this is simple too: She stands from the couch and lifts the pill bottle I gave her off her desk.

I use “takes” a lot as a verb (I used the word on average 200 times per novel) and it’s as boring as “got” and “get.” (In the book I’m reading now–the author uses “get” 300 times, and “got” 164 times, which is really distracting. But she doesn’t have my problem, and she uses “takes” only 70 times. Haha. We all have our issues.)

It’s not difficult to find a better verb, and the sentence is stronger and reads better.

As I said, it’s not time consuming, but when my brain is stuck, figuring out a different way to say the same thing can be difficult.

That pushes back my launch of my duet even longer than I had anticipated, surgery aside, but I’m trying to convince myself that’s a good thing. I want to launch this pen name strong, start off with a solid foundation because I’m tired of doing things the wrong way and wondering why nothing is working. And the very last thing I want to do is publish a book and have to re-edit it. I hate that. Part of my process for this new pen name is to try like hell not to mess up a release so I don’t have to go back and fix anything.

So, that’s my life. Editing, trying to set things up so I can launch my duet. My best hope now is to have my duet out this summer sometime. I don’t need long to re-edit a book, but sometimes I feel like it I need a lot of brainpower to rewrite a sentence. It’s actually pretty easy, but when your brain is stuck on something, you need to jiggle it loose and figure out another way to say the same thing. I don’t aim to take out all of them–I believe you can edit so much you edit out your style and your voice and I don’t want to do that–but now that I see them, I can’t unsee them, and I can see where my brain would get stuck in that rhythm while I was writing.


There’s a lot of talk about writing conferences this year, but I’m not going anywhere. Not because of COVID, just because I have so much in virtual stuff both paid and free to get through that I don’t have time to go anywhere. As much as I would love to be able to network in person, I would like to have some books out too, so I’m focusing on editing, publishing, and building my newsletter through social media while trying to consume the content I’ve paid for.

On a happier note, I looked at MailerLite’s emails, and they aren’t getting rid of their classic design. I don’t need to redo or relearn anything when it comes to my newsletter, so that was welcome news. But since I upgraded to a BookFunnel’s integration I’ll need to figure that out before I start promoting my reader magnet.


The Six Figure Author Podcast with Lindsay Buroker, Jo Lallo, and Andrea Pearson is ending soon. I was pretty bummed when they announced it during their last episode, but I can see where the podcast would be time consuming. Jo said in the comments of this episode they’re leaving their FB group up, so that’s nice. It’s a great resource for indie authors, and maybe they’ll post their career updates there instead of sharing on their podcast. If you want to listen to their latest episode, you can find it here:

I will try to update you all when I’m feeling better, probably on a Thursday since Mondays are booked for the next three weeks (which takes a lot off my mind) and I’m thankful I have friends willing to help me when I’m in a tight spot.

I hope you enjoy the guest posts and enjoy the warming temperatures! I know I will.

Thursday Thoughts and an Author Update.

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

calico female cat hidden by white blanket with face poking out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend, everyone! See you Monday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

desk with laptop, plant, and coffee.

be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods.

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

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

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

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

desk with laptop plant and coffee

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

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

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

Fingers crossed.

Thursday Thoughts and Author Update

I haven’t give you an author update for a while, but mainly I’ve been listening to my series and slowly getting that ready for my 2023 release. I just started book 3, and I’ve been tweaking, checking consistency with the other books, making sure there aren’t any discrepancies with what the characters say and the information they find out from book to book. You might wonder how I can do this, and let’s just say, I have 75% of my 480,000 words memorized. Haha. I’m kind of kidding, but kind of not and it definitely helps that I’ve already read through this series about five times and let months go by between reads (I wrote these in 2020). Also, listening to these books is a different way of consuming them, and I’m finding things I wouldn’t catch by reading only.

I am very satisfied with how these are coming along, and despite a mini-breakdown I had a few weeks ago about finding beta readers and proofers, I feel good about them all as a whole. I’ve come to the painful realization that I won’t have any betas or proofers, mostly because now isn’t the time to test proofers and betas. I should have set up a system and formed my “team” long before this, and it’s just too big of a project to be trying people out now to see if they are a good fit. While it’s always is a good idea to have more than one set of eyes on your books–especially for newbie authors–sometimes that just isn’t possible for one reason or another and while no one likes to admit it, there are indies out there who publish with the barest of editing and do just fine. In a perfect world, I would love to have some feedback on the overall story and to make sure all the details are consistent, but with my English degree and my firm grasp of grammar and punctuation, I’m not worried about the technical side of things, at least. I’ve been sifting through stock photos too and marking the ones I like but I won’t be able to do the covers until closer to the end of the year when I can get a better look at what will be trending. Who knows what will be hot for Billionaire covers a year from now? There’s no use getting set on a couple or anything else if I’m going to have to redo them later. Cover-to-market is really important, especially in romance, and getting impatient will just create more work for myself.

I’ve already had to redo my covers for my duet, as black and white covers with a pop of color for the title are slowly starting to slip away. I revamped the covers for my Cedar Hill duet, making them color instead of black and white. Excuse the rough shape they’re in. They aren’t set in stone, and I haven’t purchased the stock photos yet. Tell me which ones you like the best:

Anyway, so I won’t be doing the covers for the series, but I can do everything else, and I’m hoping I’m finished with them by the summer as I still think I want to write a Christmas novel for release at the beginning of November. Listening to these isn’t taking as long as I anticipated it would, so I should have plenty of time to write it while doing everything else to get my duet ready for release thing spring and my series ready for next year.


This is a topic that would probably better fit a Monday post, but I just want to complain a little bit about it here. The other day, an agent on Twitter tweeted this advice:

Twitter tweet snapshot:

It breaks my heart when I get a great pitch for a book somewhere between 50 and 70k. It's almost always a no. There are exceptions, of course, but in general, adult fiction is between 80k and 120k. 60k is just too short to fit comfortably on the shelf.

12:03AM 2/6/22 Twitter Web App

81 Retweets 264 Quote Tweets 714 likes

Writer Twitter blew up. This agent was attacked on so many levels, and so many people who had to weigh in on this agent’s advice and opinion. She eventually locked her account down and I wasn’t privy to most of the horrid aftermath. I’m appalled at the way the writing community treated her, and I feel terrible she was subjected to such aggressive behavior for simply offering a guideline to help querying writers.

No one wants to hear there are rules, and there’s not a day goes by on Twitter when I don’t see “I’m an indie so I don’t have to follow the rules,” or “Rules are made to be broken.” There are rules, and break them at your own detriment. If you want to query, follow the agent’s guidelines. That includes the genre they rep and the length of the book they prefer. If you want to indie publish, go for it, but there are industry standards. You need to format your book correctly, and include all the correct parts. You can’t use any photo you want for the cover. You can’t use song lyrics in your book unless you write to that artist’s record label and ask permission and probably pay a fee. (If you want more legal advice, Helen Sedwick’s book, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Second Edition: Updated Guide to Protecting Your Rights and Wallet is invaluable.) There are a gazillion “rules” we must follow every time we publish a book. To say there are no rules is destructive. Not following the rules can prevent you from finding readers at best and can land you legal hot water at the worst. I don’t understand why writers and authors continue to beat a dead horse, but there are rules.

Here is a tweet threads to scroll through if you want. I thought I saved more, but I can’t find the other one where I stole the screenshot of the tweet to begin with. The agent’s tweet and thread is gone–it disappeared for me when she locked her account down, but there’s plenty of fodder if you want to scroll through on your lunch break.

If you want to read another agent’s thread about word count and guidelines, here’s Laura Zatz’s thread:

When it comes to word count, I have found that reaching a higher count can be difficult for newbie writers because 1) they don’t understand how to twist a subplot into the main plot, 2) don’t develop their characters well enough to explore full character arcs 3) don’t know how to write engaging conflict and/or 4) they tell, not show, which always takes fewer words–showing takes a lot more room on the page. Also, some, but not all, indies have gotten into the habit of writing shorter because it helps them publish faster keeping them on top of Amazon’s algorithms.

If you’re a romance author, and like writing novellas, look at Carina Press–the digital arm of Harlequin. They take agent-free submissions, and they publish novellas that are 35k words and up.

Anyway, I’m going back to listening to my book–which is 91k, by the way. Every book in this series is between 85-93k, but they are as long as they need to be for that section of the story.

Be kind to each other, y’all. How you present yourself online will stick with you, and may come back to bite you in ways you never would have dreamed possible.

Until next time!

Author Musings: Personal Update and Amazon’s Also-Boughts

Happy Thursday! Thursday’s aren’t so great for me because they’re actually my Mondays, and work has been super busy lately. But I have been able to get a lot of editing done on my days off and I might be able to publish a little sooner than the April release date I was aiming for. Anyway, so I missed my blog post for Monday–I was just so into editing last week I completely spaced on it. Not much is going on right now in the indie publishing world anyway, so probably a lot of my blog posts for the next little while will just be my writing updates as I finally publish after two years of not.

But I was perusing Twitter like I’m wont to do, and there have been many authors lamenting over their lack of sales, especially as the new year has rolled around, and lots of celebrating when they manage to cajole one of their followers into a purchase. I just want to caution anyone who begs for a sale by saying this: a sale isn’t just a sale.

When you’re an indie author going through a dry spell, you might not think that’s true. You celebrate every sale, and to an extent, you should. But on the other hand, if the readers who buy your book don’t regularly read in that genre (i. e. they bought your book as a favor or to do something nice or to “support” you) their sale isn’t helping you.

Amazon’s algorithms are stronger than we want to believe, and it’s IMPERATIVE that when you publish a book, Amazon knows exactly what genre it is and exactly who will read it. I’m sure you’ve all gotten those emails of recommended books. I’ve seen tweets from amused (and bemused) authors wondering why Amazon would email them about their own book. It’s really because you’re been looking at your own product page without using an incognito window and now Amazon thinks that’s the kind of book you’re interested in. This happens when you look up any of your friends’ books, too. I get emails for all kinds of books I would never actually buy–because I’m clicking on links from Twitter, looking at books mostly to see why the author is complaining they aren’t selling.

While this can be amusing, maybe even frustrating, it’s actually a demonstration of how you can use Amazon’s recommendation emails to your advantage. You want Amazon to email potential readers about your book, right? You do want Amazon to list and feature your book at the bottom of another author’s product page and encourage them to buy it because it’s similar to the book they’re already looking at?

This isn’t successfully done if you don’t train Amazon to understand who your book is for. When you receive an email about a book that doesn’t interest you, you simply delete. But what if Amazon emails you books you might actually like? You at least click over to the product page. I’ve purchased several non-fiction books this way because I’ve taught Amazon to know I love publishing industry books through my order history.

For example, I was looking at an author’s product page whom I know from Twitter, and the authors in the CUSTOMERS ALSO BOUGHT ITEMS BY section were all authors I recognized from Twitter. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Twitter authors were obviously supporting each other, but they all wrote in different genres. It’s obvious this author wasn’t finding readers in his genre. His friends were supporting him, and while that’s great, you can’t make a living like that, either.

So what can you do? In this case, a sale isn’t just a sale. A sale to the wrong reader can muddy your book’s sales history on Amazon and either Amazon will send emails to the wrong readers, or worse yet, not bother to promote you at all.

Amazon algorithms can help you sell books, but you have to help it help you.

How?

  1. Make sure your book’s categories are correct. You can add more than the two KDP allows you to choose when you publish if you email support
  2. Make sure your meta data is correct when you publish (the 7 spaces for keywords you fill in when you publish)
  3. Don’t promote to your #writingcommunity friends
  4. Run ads and target your category/comparison authors/comparison titles
  5. Use newsletter promos (choosing the right category) to attract new readers. David Gaughran has a great list here.

The more in alignment your book is to your genre, comp authors, and comp titles, the better chance you have of Amazon helping you sell your book.

If you want more information about also-boughts, David Gaughran has an in-depth blog post and you can read it here.

If you want to learn more about the Amazon algorithms, Reedsy has a great course they will email you for free. It will explain what the algorithm is and how you can make it work for you. You can sign up here.


I love keeping an eye on what’s going on in the industry, and I think another trend that’s coming is longer books. My first person books are naturally longer than my 3rd person, and when I made the switch, I was surprised I could consistently hit a 80-85k+ word count when before I was happy with 70-75k. But lately I’ve been seeing billionaire/bad boy/mafia romances coming in at 100k+ word counts. Are romance books getting longer? And if so, why? A lot of romance authors are in KU, and many romance authors also write in series which can up the word count because they are setting up the next book.

Will this affect my writing? Probably not. 85k is a sweet spot for me and unless I work harder at creating subplots, I think that word count works for the way I write my stories. It is interesting though, how it seems romances are getting longer and could be evidence that readers would prefer longer books over books half that size or even novellas. Longer books also give writers room to build that slow burn, and explore deeper and richer character arcs. I’ve read several books that are huge with including family and friends. When your characters explore relationships outside of their romance plot, that can also deepen your character arcs and add words. Ultimately, you do have to do what’s right for your book and the story you need to tell. But I’ve always been big with meeting reader expectations, and if a reader is expecting a 350 page book, and you give them half that, you could find yourself with unhappy reviews.

I think this kind of goes along with the pricing increase I’ve been seeing as well. A longer book does mean a higher paperback price due to printing and paper shortages, and indies are pricing their ebooks at 3.99, 4.99, 5.99, and even 6.99. If you’re going to price that high, you definitely want to give your readers what they are paying for. I, too, will probably raise my prices this year, though my marketing strategy isn’t focused on ebook sales (my books will be in KU) or paperback. I’ll leave my paperback prices as low as I possibly can make them and still earn a dollar a book. I love reading paperbacks, but unfortunately, I can’t afford 15.99 per paperback, even if I understand why authors need to price them that high.

If you want to check out the word counts of your favorite books, or keep an eye on what other authors in your genre are doing, you can use Word Counters, and you can find it here.


I’m going back and forth with writing a Christmas novel for this year, and it’s hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit three weeks after the fact. I can not offer one, and publish three books this year, or I can write it later this year. The problem with writing it later is that I’m going to spend the rest of 2022 getting my six book series ready to publish in 2023. I probably will need all year because these books still need a bit of an edit, formatting, covers, and a beta reader/proofer if I can find one who is willing to do it cheaply and be time efficient. (A big ask, I know.) I don’t want to stop my editing and production momentum to take a break writing something for Christmas. So either I do it after my duet is done and before I start editing my series, or I skip it all together. I have another standalone hanging around I could prepare and publish, but I don’t know how well a non-holiday book would do with a December release.

Anyway, that’s about all I have for an update. Monday, and I will get to a blog post, will be about BookFunnel, my reader magnet, and my experience with setting up my account.

Have a great weekend!

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

It’s a nice thought!

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

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

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

So here’s what I’m thinking:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

My inspiration quote for you for 2022 🙂

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


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

Until next time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!