Monday Musings: Updates, Word Counts, and Managing Reader Expectations.

I, unfortunately, don’t have a lot going on for this post today. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, so there’s nothing to update you there. I’ve never needed the motivation or the camaraderie. I did NaNo one year about 5 years ago, and after a ton of editing, that book turned into Don’t Run Away, the first in my Tower City Romance Trilogy. Since then I’ve never needed to “get serious” or use it as a month to “start over.” I’m actually kind of glad I don’t depend on NaNo to get words down. What do people do the rest of the year? Anyway, I actually have a blog post about why I never participate, and you can read it here, if you want.

I am, however, 56,000 words into my new novel, and more than likely it will be a duet. My FMC has a sister who is introduced to my MMC’s business partner. It stands to reason they’ll have their own story, even though I don’t have a plot for them. I’m excited for the possibility of a duet since that is something I haven’t tackled, but at the same time, I don’t want to write it. Why would I force myself to write something that hasn’t grabbed me? Mostly because of reader expectations. When you have two secondary characters and they meet and there’re sparks, readers are going to want to know what happens. Can I rewrite what I have so there are no sparks, yes, but it felt natural they were attracted to each other. From one writer to another, you know what happens when characters go off and do their own thing. It’s difficult to rein them in and they end up doing what they want to do, much to our disappointment and disapproval. I like my two side characters, and I hope a nice juicy plot ends up in my lap by the time I’m done with this book.

My favorite meme when it comes to character vs. plot:

Found on Instagram

You might be tempted to tell me to do what I want, regardless of what readers will want after reading this book. That is the indie author refrain after all. I’m an indie, I’m going to do what I want to do, but the funny thing is, the indies on Twitter who say that the loudest also lament about how low their sales are. I could do what I want and let this be another standalone, or I could put my brain to work, think up a few things for these characters, and give my readers what I know they’ll want after they read this book.

Managing reader expectations is important. When they pick up your book based off an ad because you targeted a similar author, and they see your cover, your blurb, the title, they are going to expect certain things. The novel’s content will nudge them to expect certain things. If you’re writing about a group of friends, chances are each friend is going to have her own book–especially if your novel is tagged a Book One, and you indicate it’s part of a series. Your readers will expect that. Writing Book One and then never writing another book–I’ve seen authors do that. They might as well not even have published for all the good that did. So, if I set up for my characters to have their own book, then I should give them their own book. I nag about this topic too much, but Nora Phoenix has a great blog post about this very thing, and you can take a look at it here.

As an extra tidbit, even word count can make a reader happy or disappoint them. You should be well-read in the genre you’re writing, should know the tropes, general feel, and how long the books usually are. A great way to see how long a book is is to use this website Wordcounters. There you can look up a book or better yet, an author, and get an idea of their average book length. Some of the top billionaire romances right now range from 80-110k words per book. Some are longer, but very very few are shorter. The authors I looked up also have their books in KU, so I’m going to guess that a lot of them write with that in mind. Romance can go all over the place, but a lot of the novellas I see now are written to fit between books as extra content, and the main books are full-length novels. All of you know that I’ve been trying to write a reader magnet for my newsletter, and it would be great if I could write a shorter book for that. I’m trying, but first person takes up a lot of room, and my shortest book I’ve written since changing POVs is 74k, my longest, 97k. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but maybe one day I’ll figure it out. I need a plot for a 50k novel I can write in week, please and thank you.

My giveaway I’m hosting for Nina Romano’s interview ends Wednesday, the 10th of November. You can read her interview and enter to win this gift basket full of fall goodies and a beautiful paperback copy of her book, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. I’ll ship anywhere in the United States and I’ll brave the post office to ship to Canada.

Hello Fall, orange mug with chocolates, a $25 Amazon gift card, Pumpkin candle, Vanilla Nut ground coffee and Nina’s book.

What am I loving right now?

I’m reading Elana Johnson’s Writing and Launching a Bestseller.

Usually when I read stuff like this, it’s just them preaching to the choir, but I’m hoping she can give me some good ideas on how to launch my books next year, too.

I think that is about it from me. Things, I suppose, will be quiet around here until after the holidays. I’ll be writing and relaxing, and I hope you will be doing the same!

Until next time!

Thursday Thoughts and Brief Update

Can I say I don’t know what I’m doing? Because that would probably best describe the state of my mind and author business at the moment. How to successfully launch a book, figure out a publishing plan, and start a successful book business. I know all that takes time, trial and error, and a healthy dose of luck. I can’t do anything about the luck, but I feel like I’ve put in my time, and learned a lot through trial and error. So this is what I’ve got going on right now:

Two books loaded into KDP. All I have to do is press publish. That’s not exactly true as I want to redo the blurbs again. After reading Theodora Taylor’s 7 FIGURE FICTION: How to Use Universal Fantasy to SELL Your Books to ANYONE, I grabbed some great ideas for pulling out the meat of a book and adding it to the blurb. I think one of the mistakes I was making when writing the blurbs to Faking Forever and My Biggest Mistake was that I was writing a 1st person blurb like I was still writing a 3rd person blurb. 1st person and 3rd person blurbs have a different vibe. 1st person blurbs are more personal, told in the voice of the characters. My blurbs were still sounding flat in 1st person because I was following the 3rd person blurb style that I’d adapted after reading Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good. I’m not saying his way is wrong–I loved the blurbs I’d written after reading his book, but all his examples are in 3rd person and I struggled to find a punchy way to write the blurb in the voice of my characters while trying to pull out what really mattered in the book. Theodora’s book really helped and I’m going to redo those and use her examples for other blurbs moving forward. She did a fun interview on the Six Figure Author Podcast, too, and you can watch it here:

Okay, so I have two books almost ready to go besides those tweaks, and right now I’m on a break editing my six book series. I read through the all again, and caught and fixed a few inconsistencies. I’m not going to rehash all that because I blogged about it on Monday and you can read it here. While I’m taking a break, I thought about editing another standalone. I have two that I could do: my brother’s-girlfriend-is-off-limits-trope, or the-one-night-stand-with-my-future-boss trope. The boyfriend one was the most likely candidate since I haven’t looked at it in a while and is 97k. The other one I’m excited about too, and I’ve gotten good feedback from a beta read, though the subject is a little touchy and I’m not sure how it’s going to go over with readers. It’s a little dark, but I’m hoping my readers can understand why he made the choices he made and not think too poorly of him. Those both need another editing sweep and listening to them both will take time. They need covers and blurbs and formatting and all that jazz, which means each book has at least another month a piece before they’re ready to publish.

Instead of working on those, I had another idea pop into my head and I’m writing kind of a beauty and the beast retelling, but I can’t even call it that anymore because he’s not grumpy, and she’s not trapped there–at least not in the way Belle was trapped in Beast’s castle. He’s scarred from an accident, she’s snowed in during a blizzard, and he has a ton of books but that’s where the similarities end. The idea pretty much came out of nowhere and I wanted to write it before I forgot it. I outlined what i knew of the story, but it wasn’t enough to keep it on the back burner and I’m 27k into it right now after only four days. I think I’ll hit about 80k with this one, maybe shorter, as not much is going on right now but them talking and falling in love and knowing that because of what they have going on they can’t be together after the blizzard stops (that’s not true, of course, all my books have an HEA). It’s fun, and I had to do a lot more research than I normally have to. There could be potential for another book with her sister and his business partner, but so far I would have the characters and no plot so we’ll have to see how that goes.

What I’m trying to do is line these up and figure out a publishing schedule where I can make the most of the work I’ve put into these books for the past two years. I didn’t have any business starting a new book, but I couldn’t resist, besides, it’s a good filler for the next couple months with the holidays.

As far as anything else goes, I have a promo with a new site I haven’t tried yet for my holiday box set I have selling for .99. The promo cost $25 so I should make that back KU reads at least if they have the reach they say they do. I’ll let you know how it goes and who it’s with if I have good results. For right now my ads were in the hole and I had to turn off one for The Years Between Us. It was eating up click money and no sales coming in. Those books are old and I don’t have anything new coming in 3rd person so I’ll keep the low bid ads running, but I don’t have much hope for those books anymore.

What am I loving right now?

I’m going to read through Elana Johnson’s nonfiction books. I’ve heard her speak enough that I think her books could be valuable. I’ve blogged in the past about how difficult it is to take information from top indies because they have so many more books, resources, money, connections than we do. I’m hoping that her books are geared toward anyone no matter where they are on their journey, and I can find some tips to help me as I start publishing next year. This is the link for book one in her non-fiction series if you want to check it out. Writing and Releasing Rapidly (Indie Inspiration for Self-Publishers Book 1)

Another thing I’m loving right now is Alex Newton of K-lytics has shared some info for romance writers for free this holiday season! This is taken from his Facebook page (I recommend you liking it on FB!).


I don’t have plans to release anything Christmassy, not anything new, anyway. My Rocky Point Wedding box set takes place in the winter around Christmas, but it’s not a solid Christmas story, or stories. It would be fun to play around with the idea and maybe next summer I can write a billionaire Christmas story for Christmas 2022 and see how it goes. BUT I love industry news, and if you love it too, here is the link to download his free report! FREE RESEARCH REPORT | CHRISTMAS ROMANCE

If you don’t write romance, Alex was an angel and did another report for Mystery, Thriller Suspense, and you can find it here. Christmas mysteries sound like cozies, but you just never know! I plan to watch it as well and see just want kind of mystery sells during the holidays.


That’s about all I have going on at the moment. Now that I’ve started a new book, that will be what I’ll focus on until it’s done. It would be nice to say I’m taking December off, but that will never happen. I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself, and as hard as I work on my books, I enjoy it, too.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts: Claim your book on ACX and where I am right now.

I wanted to put this at the top of the blog post, because if you don’t read anything else, at least read this. There’s apparently a wave of scammers out there who are claiming books through ACX, hiring narrators for books that aren’t theirs, and trying to make some royalties off the audiobook. Even if you don’t plan to make an audiobook (I’m not–I can’t afford anything like that right now) I’ve read in various author FB groups that you should go on ACX and claim your books so no one else can. I did last night–it took me about twenty minutes. Here is how you do it:

Go to acx.com and create an account. It’s just your KDP/Amazon credentials.

After you create an account, select ADD YOUR TITLE in the upper right hand corner.

Then you can search for your books under your author name or by book title. ACX was glitching for me last night and when I tried to select a title under my author name, it wouldn’t let me, but it would let me select the title if I searched by title and author name.

Click this is my book. On the next page, even if you have absolutely no plans to make an audiobook of this novel, click I’m looking for someone to narrate or produce my audiobook. Don’t worry about this part of it–it’s not locking you into anything.

On the next page, scroll down to the bottom and click the User Agreement box and click Agree and Continue.

After that, your book is claimed and there is no other steps you need to take. If you have other books, click Add Your Title at the upper right corner of the screen and start the process over again. If you have successfully claimed a book, the option to claim it will be gone, otherwise you didn’t claim it correctly and you’ll have to do it again.

And that’s it. With box sets and single books, it took me a little bit, plus the website was glitching on me and it took a while to claim them all. I don’t have any plans to make audiobooks, and claiming them isn’t a sure-fire way to keep scammers from trying to make a few bucks off your books, but at least it’s a start. I found this out last night scrolling through my FB author groups. Indie publishing is rife with scammers, and it’s better to protect yourself–another reason to make sure you have copyright proof of your books available! I love Amazon and think they have given us some wonderful opportunities, but they are not perfect, nor is any business, and you can’t count on others to protect your work. Thanks to Julie C. Gilbert and her instructions on her website that walked me through the process.

With that out of the way….

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve had a catch-up post because all I’ve been doing is writing, writing, writing, but I have slowly been working toward getting my pen name set up. I created a website that isn’t live yet because I’m waiting to get a couple of my books and blurbs ready to post, and I had my sister take a few author photos of me at the local park not long ago. I know some people don’t want to reveal who they really are, but in these days of ghostwriting, AI, and scammers trying to make a buck off Amazon, one way you can stick out is be your real self on social media. People connect with people. It’s another reason I picked my initials with my real last name instead of a completely different name to write under. I will always be me on social media: all my grumpiness, attitude, helpfulness and cheerfulness. I could never be someone else and I would never try. That said, I’m happy we were able to take a few that I like, and even though the sun was setting and it made me look orange, they came out well. I think black and white makes me look classy (and gets rid of the orange!). Here are a few. I like the black and white for the headshot, and for the back matter I’m going to use the full body shot with the flowers in the background.

With that out of the way, I was able to order my proof for Faking Forever, but I’m going to wait a few days before proofing it. I’m trying to streamline my publishing process so I don’t have to go back and redo anything. I’m going to make a patient effort to do everything at one time. The cover for KDP, ebook and full wrap/the paperback cover for IngramSpark/the Large Print edition for KDP. If I want to go one step further, I could offer the Large Print edition on IngramSpark, too, it would just take an extra few minutes to create the cover for it. It is time consuming to be the one to do all of it yourself, and I wish there was a better free way. For now I’m a one-person show and if I want it done, I’ll just have to make the time. Here’s a picture of the proof. I think it turned out really nice, and I can’t wait to figure out my publishing schedule and put it up!

There are some tweaks I’m going to have to make, but otherwise I think it turned out great! If you want to know the process I went through to create it, let me know, and I’ll blog about it. I don’t want you all to get sick of my cover posts!

I’m relieved to finally be making some progress in regards to publishing, though I haven’t made much headway with my newsletter (meaning, no signups!). Without a reader magnet, I don’t have anywhere to put the link up that will draw in readers. I’m part of writer Twitter and I haven’t tweeted out my newsletter link there, the same as Instagram. That’s the biggest problem I see indies have–they align themselves with other writers, and then they wonder why they don’t sell books. You may sell a handful here and there to your writer friends, but it isn’t going to be enough to make a career. I don’t promo on Twitter and it’s going to be the same for my newsletter. So, I’m going to have to offer a reader magnet, and it could be the ugly duckling trope I’d written expressly for that purpose after all, or this new one I’m writing that I should be done with toward the middle of next month. It makes more sense for the ugly duckling book to be my reader magnet because it’s finished and pretty much ready to go and I could start building my list for my releases that much sooner, or I could just depend on organic signups and put my link the back matter of my books and not give away a reader magnet at all. It’s tempting to do that, but building my list will take more time.

The problem is i haven’t published for so long and I’m writing books that I’m not sure are any good, (and no one really does until strangers read and review, so I know that’s not my insecurities.) that it’s frozen me in place. I don’t want to building my list and I don’t want to release my books. Except, you have to take a chance if you want a career. I mean, I know exactly why people only promo on Twitter. They don’t want to run ads or buy promos. Twitter is safe. Selling to your friends is safe. It’s scary to put your work out there and present it to strangers to buy and review. It’s easy to hide behind the obscurity of Twitter and say, “This is the best I can do” when you know deep down you could be doing more. I’m at that place now, where it would be easy for me to launch my books with no plan but a pinned tweet and say, “this is the best I can do”, but I don’t want to cheat myself out of the chance to make something with my writing. So. I need a reader magnet, and I need to stop hiding behind the guise I’m writing. There’s no point in writing to keep it all on my computer.

In other (personal) news, my midwife said my infection is gone! I had an appointment at the beginning of the month hoping to discuss other treatments and she said the tests indicate it’s gone. I’m not sure what that means for me as I still don’t feel 100% right, though I admit I feel better than I have since I found out I had my infection way back in March. I’ll keep taking my probiotics and vitamin C and giving my body time to take care of itself. It will be really nice not to have to think about it anymore, and a negative test result is a good start.

I suppose that’s it for now. Monday I’m going to talk a little about Facebook Ads. I’ve got some resources to share with you, so I hope you check back.

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!