Author Musings and what I’m working on now.

a woman looking through binoculars. text says looking forward to the weekend

I’m sorry I didn’t post on Monday! There hasn’t been a lot going on and I didn’t have any updates. I finished the last book in my series, and I’ve already read through it, fixing typos and deleting repetition. Since then I’ve started at the beginning, and I’m in the middle of my second editing pass of book one. I can tell I was still getting to know my characters and getting used to writing in first person present. Hopefully I won’t have to do this much editing for the other books. As I said in a different blog post, I’m not going to edit the hell out of these. I want to clean them up, but I don’t want my writing to sound cardboard, either. It’s a balancing act, for sure.

Just to see how easy it is to make a Large Print version of my books, I did The Years Between Us, and I ordered a proof that should be here Saturday. Vellum has a crazy easy way to change your file into large print (just check the box!) and adjusting the spine to my cover in Canva was pretty easy too. The only thing I’m worried about now is that someone in one of the FB groups I’m in said Amazon blocked her Large Print book because the content was too similar to another book she published. Of course it’s similar, its the same one! While there are a lot of authors who have successfully published large print versions of their books, I’m worried now that when I look over my proof and approve it, Amazon’s quality content team will reject it. I buy my own ISBNs from Bowker, and this person uses the free ISBNs from KDP print, so I’m hoping that my own ISBN will help. She’s appealing their decision to block her book, and I hope I don’t have to go through the same process. It’s tough because I’ve heard that Amazon is just swamped and to get any real help can take days if not weeks.

I’m doing Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge, though right now he’s going over information that I’ve heard many times before in his other challenges. He always puts new information into every challenge, so it’s worth it to take the time to watch all his videos, even if they feel repetitious. His FB group is very busy (with 11k members!) and I scroll through it a lot more than I should. It’s interesting to see how freaked out people get about putting up an ad and then not seeing impressions or getting any clicks. If you’re doing the challenge, or even if you’re not and you’re not seeing any activity on your ads dashboard, you have to remember a couple things:

  1. Ads sometimes never turn on. Your dashboard may say they are delivering, but they never do deliver impressions or clicks. You can turn them off if you want, but there’s no harm in keeping them going. They aren’t costing you money, and you never know if one day they’ll start to deliver.
  2. Make sure if you’re running category ads or automatic placement ads your categories are relevant to your book. What people don’t understand is Amazon won’t show your ad no matter how much you bid if they don’t find your book relevant to the audience you’ve chosen. You can add new categories to your book (besides the two that you chose when you published) by emailing KDP or Author Central and asking. This also means if your book is a new release and you don’t have any also-boughts associated with your book yet, it may take a while for Amazon to understand what kind of book you’re selling.
  3. Sales have dropped for everyone. People are dismissing the election, COVID, and the holidays that are coming up. You know, people only read when they feel like reading. Run all the ads you want, but if people are busy, stressed out, or have other books in their TBR piles, your sales are going to slow down (I’m looking at you, Sept 2020 book-dump).
  4. Your book isn’t the best out there. As I’ve said in the past, 2,000 books are published every month since COVID has come along and obliterated life as we know it. You may think your book is special and that people can’t wait to get their hands on it, but come on. You have to be realistic. You’re fighting against a tsunami of books, a handful of ads isn’t going to cut through all that noise. Be patient, create more ads, make sure your metadata is relevant to your book, and try to get some reviews.

I can sound a little callous, but all I can do is shake my head at the frenzied posts people write after they’ve created an ad. We all want our books to sell, but sometimes we forget that we are selling books, and the most important thing is the story. There was even one person who started the challenge, and then she was like, “Do you have to have a book published to do this?” Ummm. Yes? Otherwise what you running ads to?

I can understand being excited to market your books, but you gotta keep in mind you have to have a product people want to buy or your marketing efforts will be for nothing.

I really don’t have much else. I try not to get too involved with the FB groups. I’m slowly realizing that a lot of people ask for advice, but they are not in the mindset to take that advice. They’re going to go their own way no matter what you, or anyone else, tells them. They already have it in their head that they’re going to do what they are going to do, and that’s it. You can point out their cover isn’t good, or won’t fit in with the genre, you can tell them the blurb they spent hours working on still isn’t good enough, you can tell them anything, but if they aren’t ready to accept what you’re telling them, it’s a dead end and a waste of time for you. It goes against my nature to give up on people because I’m a helper, but I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past helping people who didn’t really want it, and the only loser in those scenarios was me. People definitely need to learn from their own mistakes, and that might mean losing out on sales and wasting money on ads because they were too attached to their cover to change it. Not my circus, not my monkeys.


The weeks are flying by, and I didn’t have anything to write about last Monday, and I have no idea if I’ll have anything to share this Monday. I think a lot of people now are just trying to get through the election and the end of the year. If you have a question or want my thoughts on anything, give me a comment and I’ll blog about it. I’ll do what I can to help!


If you’re curious about Bryan’s ad challenge, you can still sign up. He keeps the videos up for a few days after the challenge, and you’ll have plenty of time to start from the beginning. Look here for his first video: https://www.bestpageforward.net/oct-2020-challenge-prep-work/?fbclid=IwAR0Heh32rbee0G8FYemPAPCSQnyqVBKFiOkiIB-3E_5hz3IFjBjtzHb1wVA

Until next time!


Let’s Play a Game! It’s called, “Why isn’t my book selling?”

You can make fun of me, but I’m a part of about 40 groups on Facebook. They aren’t all about writing. Some are book promotion (bad covers), marketing (why is Facebook doing this to me?!), something about Romance (how much man-chest is too much on a cover?) general publishing (Amazon sucks!), and a little bit of everything else thrown in for good measure. (I especially like my book cover groups, and 20booksto50k never fails to amuse me).

But if you’re in them long enough, there is a common theme, and that is, I’m doing my best, why isn’t my book selling?

A lot of times that’s evident, and I’ve blogged plenty on good book covers, blurbs, optimizing your product page, and making sure your keywords and categories are correct.

But there are a couple reasons why your book doesn’t sell, and it has nothing and everything to do with all those things.

  1. You think your launch has to go as smoothly as a traditional book launch or your book will bomb. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about book launches, and while we want a good one, when you’re an indie, a book launch isn’t as important as when you’re a traditionally published author. Traditionally published books get a window of about 30 days give or take after release for it to take off–if it doesn’t, it gets moved off a prime table, possibly returned, and generally forgotten about (and that author may never get another book deal). Not so with an indie book. Yes, you can put money into your promos, beg your street team to leave reviews, but hey, guess what? You’re in control of your book and you can buy ads, purchase promos, and generally promote your book forever. My best-selling book will have its two-year book birthday on October 17th.
  2. You have no comp authors. In the words of Jane Friedman, “You don’t want to be alone.” Being alone will not make you stand out, it will make it difficult AF to fit in. If your book is so odd that you don’t have comp authors, you have no shelf to fit on, virtual or otherwise. That means you have no built-in audience, that means you have no authors to mine for keywords for ads. You wrote what you wanted to write, but now what?
  3. You don’t care about what’s going on in the industry. You’re an indie author and don’t keep up with what’s going on in the publishing industry? You want to go to a doctor who doesn’t care about the next big thing in medicine? You’re crazy. Publishing is what you chose to do, so if you’re not keeping an eye on trends, if you don’t care what COVID is doing to the printers and why Amazon can’t ship your book in fewer than 4 weeks’ time, that’s your own fault. Yes, it’s a bit time-consuming to listen to podcasts, read books on the subject of publishing/Amazon, and keep up with current blog posts from heavy-hitters in the field, but if you are not aware of the world around you, I definitely won’t feel sorry for you when you get left behind.
  4. You only have one book, and worse, it’s the first of a series. We indies did this to ourselves. Readers won’t invest in your book/characters/world unless they know you have more coming down the line. You’re better to hang on to that one book and release when you have a couple more written. If this is a standalone, you can buy ads and push it, but after you have reached readers and they read it, they have nothing else to buy, and you have to pay to bring them back into the fold after you have a new book. Marketing is a lot easier if you have a couple or three to show off on your Amazon Author page.
  5. You depend on free marketing instead of learning an ad platform. The only free thing I have seen that will make any headway in finding readers is having an active FB author page/group, and that’s only if FB stops mucking around with the algorithms. If you can entice readers to join in and give them consistent content, you can nurture a reading community, but it can take years. Spending time on Twitter might sell a handful of books during your launch because your friends are excited for you, but I don’t want to sell only a handful. There are billions of people out there. I want to sell thousands of books, and I’m sure you do, too.
  6. You don’t publish consistently. I’ve harped on here enough that you know I think writing is a business and not a hobby. If you want to look at your writing as something you do only in your free time, or something you do only when you feel like doing it (as opposed to going to your 9-5 whether you feel like it or not) then you have to realize that your success will come much slower than to those who do publish a few times a year. It’s not a bad thing truly, but you also have to adjust your expectations.
  7. You think your first book is going to knock it out of the park. Unless you’ve been writing already in some capacity for a long time, your first book will rarely make a dent (mainly because your craft won’t be optimal). Any “overnight success” can tell you they’ve been writing and publishing for years. Of course there are going to be outliers, but you probably won’t be one of them. As you write more you will get better with craft, character development, plot. Keep writing and listening to feedback and don’t give up.

So what are some things you can do to make your next book sell? Besides writing a series and focusing heavily on what’s selling in the market right now, here are a couple things that you might need to do:

  1. Think of your book as a whole product. There’s a wonderful podcast interview by Joanna Penn with Suzy K. Quinn. She has a class on Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula that I can’t afford, so I jumped at the chance to listen to this podcast. She talks about looking at your book as whole before you begin to write it.
    A) Who will your audience be? (This will include genre and tropes.)
    B) Who will your comp authors be?
    C) What will your cover need to include to be genre-specific and appealing to readers?
    Taking a look at these things can help put a marketing plan in place before you even write the story.
  2. Put your artistic hat away and put on your business hat after your book is done. I know it’s difficult to think of your book as a product after you’ve finished editing it. But every artist on the planet who wants to sell their work needs to do this. Painters have agents, so do sculptors, musicians, and actors and models. They pay someone to sell their art. So do writers if they query. If you’re self-publishing, you have to do this on your own, and you need to put aside emotions and do what you need to do to sell your book.
  3. Stop thinking paper. We get really invested in our paperbacks because we love to hold the finish product in our hands, but unless going to conventions is a huge part of your marketing plan, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time on paperbacks. If doing a book signing at your local bookstore is the only marketing plan you have, you’re thinking too small. Indies sell ebooks. Online. In the past 12 months I’ve sold 7 paperback books.
  4. Start networking. I’m bad at this too, but if you network with other authors in your genre, you open yourself up to being asked to join in with promotions, anthologies, and newsletter swaps. As Jane said above, you don’t want to be alone. No man is an island, and that’s especially true in the indie business.
  5. Create a publishing plan. You don’t have to put out 6 books a year to be successful, but if you only publish one book a year, expect to have a lot slower rate of success. If you create a publishing plan with the idea you are only going to publish one book a year, then you’ll need to also create a content calendar to keep readers engaged between books. Post regularly to a FB author page, and fill your newsletter with terrific content to keep readers from forgetting about you. That might actually sound like more work than just writing another book!
  6. Start a newsletter. Email marketing is still the best way to grow an audience. Write a reader magnet for signups and put the newsletter signup link in the back of your books. You don’t need many signups to build a solid readership. I have an account with MailerLite and I need to dig into using it and building a list before my first person stuff comes out. Dave Chesson just put out a free tutorial for MailerLite and you can watch it here.

I hope these tips are helpful! I tried offer some different ideas than just making sure your cover is genre-appropriate and that your blurb is well-written. You should already have done that when you published. Selling a book is hard. The market is saturated, and discoverability is like the Loch Ness Monster–you’ve heard tales of her but never have seen her for yourself. I think she’s real though, and discoverability certainly isn’t a myth. She’s out there somewhere! Good luck!


Just a note about book covers and not believing everything you hear.

The amount of information out there is insane, right? You don’t know who to believe, what to believe, if anything is true, and I’m not talking about what’s on social media right now with regards to COVID, but with indie publishing. There are scammers out there, people who want to make a buck off of your inexperience. These people aren’t nice, and you’ll run into them time and time again joining FB groups and Twitter people tweeting their “services” such as they are.

But when you get up into the bigger indies, the ones who are making a bit of money and they turn to the non-fiction, or entrepreneurial side of things, you do expect them to know what they’re talking about.

I’ve mentioned Nick Stephenson on the blog before, incidentally when I was blogging about book covers not that long ago. Because I love all things book covers, when I got an email (yeah, I’m signed up to his newsletter) saying he could make a book cover in 10 minutes using BookBrush, I was intrigued.

I already know I won’t ever use BookBrush, I prefer Canva, and they’re cheaper. I know BookBrush is specifically created for authors and Canva is meant for anyone who needs to make a quick graphic design. I like Canva, know how it works, and I’ve loaded quite a few fonts in my kit over the past couple of years. I don’t think I’ll change anytime soon.

Anyway, so I settled in to watch it, and you can watch it, too.

I had a hard time with the video, and not only because it’s basically one big BookBrush commercial with a probable affiliate link included that he failed to mention was an affiliate link. I could be wrong, but why take the time to make a video and not include a link where he could make a bit of money if his watchers decided to try it out?

So, I watched it, and didn’t really like the cover he came up with at the end and here’s why:

  1. He advocated using Unsplash for photos, and anyone who does book covers knows that using free photos is a no-no. Especially with people in them. Websites like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay do not collect model releases and these websites do not vet photos. There are things in these photos that are not for commercial use. I went to Unsplash and typed in tennis shoes. There were several photos of generic shoes, but there were also some photos that came up with Nike (the swoosh is a dead giveaway) and Adidas. To a newbie wanting to make a book cover about say, running or a personal journey or something, they might think a nice looking photo with a pair of Nike shoes would be okay because they found it on a free-for-commercial-use website. Do the same search on Deposit Photos and not one pair of Nikes shows up at all, or any logo for that matter.
  2. He chose Romance and that is a very nuanced genre. The couple he picked had all their clothes on, and in romance (read: reader) circles, that would indicate the book to be sweet and or clean. Heat levels are depicted by the amount of skin showing on a cover, and that’s something Nick didn’t mention in the video.
  3. He didn’t do a full wrap. I admit his way could be okay for a short story or a reader magnet that may not need the level of quality a book cover would need to promote sales. Reader magnets are supposed to bring signups to your newsletter though, and I wouldn’t imagine anyone signing up for a newsletter if the draw is going to be a short story with a crappy cover. So while you may not want to fork over $100.00 for a premade for a short story or novella that won’t go on sale, eventually your newsletter subscribers are going to be your bread and butter, and you need to treat your fans with the respect they deserve.
  4. Not all fonts are free for commercial use. I don’t know if the font he picked is included in BookBrush or if it’s free for commercial use. I looked at the site I commonly go to for free for commercial use stuff, and it is featured there.

Not all the fonts on that website are for commercial use. Only the fonts with the green dollar tag are. The other problem I had with the font is that it’s not very romancy. Yes, I get he was trying to make a point in that he could make an ebook cover in 10 minutes, and he did. But font is a big deal when it comes to covers and this one, even though it’s free, just doesn’t work.

I don’t mean to pick on him, and I did make a comment on his YouTube video, so don’t think I’m ragging on him behind his back. My comment isn’t as long as what I wrote out for you here, but enough that maybe I did slap him down a little bit. I don’t mind calling out people who aren’t being entirely on the up and up. Passing out bad information is bad, no matter who is doing or how cute his accent is. I know us American ladies are a sucker for a cute accent, but don’t let him talk you into using free photos. It’s just bad news.

Here’s my version of a sweet wedding book cover:

Stock photo taken from Deposit Photos. Title font, Calgary. Author font, Bodoni FLF Cover created in Canva

And it’s easy to see if it will make a good cover by plugging it into the 3d cover mock up creator by Derek Murphy:

With the photo I chose and the title, maybe it’s gearing more toward Women’s Fiction than sweet Contemporary Romance, but it just proves my point: you need to take a bit of time to think about your cover and put some effort into choosing the stock photo, font, and overall design.

I know he was trying to prove his own point: that using BookBrush is an easy tool and you don’t have to pay out hundreds of dollars for a simple cover by a designer. And that’s true, kind of. Someone asked in one of my FB groups what is the best software to make a book cover with, and lots of people chimed in with Photoshop, Canva, Affinity Photo, GIMP, the usual suspects. I told him I use a mixture of Canva and GIMP but I said it doesn’t matter what software you use. If you haven’t developed and eye for what looks good, you’ll always make crap.

If the shoe fits, don’t step in it.

Until next time!


Author Musings and Are You a Good Writer?

fall leaves. happy weekend

Happy Weekend! I know I don’t normally post on Fridays, but my work computer at home had some problems and I had to go into my call center. It threw off my whole day, and usually I can shake off change, but today I had a couple things planned I wanted to do and after I went in to work, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around any of them. But there’s always tomorrow, right?


I did use the time to read more of Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store by David Gaughran. It’s an interesting look at Amazon, and I’ve learned a couple things. Overall, I like to read book-marketing books, but they do make my head hurt a little bit. Spending money on ads, and spending money on how to learn ads, choosing a platform (Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads, Bookbub Ads) not to mention promo sites, it can all be just a little much. Still, there’s some interesting tidbits about Amazon’s own promo tools like the Kindle Countdown and the free days you get if your book is enrolled in Kindle Select, and just a few ways to use those to the best of your advantage. I’m not sure if anything will help me right now, as I’m still writing the last book in my series, and it remains to be seen if switching from 3rd person past POV to 1st person present POV will make a difference to the way readers look at and buy my books.

I haven’t done this for a while, so just for the hell of it, let’s take a look at the top ten contemporary romance books on Amazon. This changes all the time, but here’s what was up top when I wrote this post:

  1. Playing with Fire: A Bad Boy College Romance by L.J. Shen FIRST PERSON PAST
  2. Seabreeze Inn by Jan Moran THIRD PERSON PAST
  3. Roommaid: A Novel  by Sariah Wilson FIRST PERSON PAST
  4. Riley Thorn and the Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score FIRST PERSON PAST
  5. Coming Home for Christmas: A Clean & Wholesome Romance (Haven Point Book 10) by RaeAnne Thayne THIRD PERSON PAST
  6. Marrying My Billionaire Hookup by Nadia Lee  FIRST PERSON PRESENT
  7. Wild Fire: A Chaos Novella by Kristen Ashley THIRD PERSON PAST
  8. My Husband, My Stalker by Jessa Kane FIRST PERSON PRESENT
  9. The Takeover (The Miles High Club Book 2) by T L Swan FIRST PERSON PRESENT
  10. This Is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein  FIRST PERSON PAST

I haven’t done that exercise in a little while, and there’s not as much first person present as there used to be, but that’s just a minuscule sample of the top 100 on Amazon. There could be more first person present when you drill down into some sub-genres, but I’m not going to do that now. I’m still confident my POV shift was a good move, but I won’t know until early next year when I start publishing.


In other news, I’ve been hearing a lot about stalling a release or putting a hold on book promos from October through the election, even going into next year and the inauguration. This year is going to be a bit crazy, and it doesn’t matter what side you’re on. There is going to be overwhelming disappointment no matter who wins, and authors like Lindsay Buroker and Kristine Kathryn Rusch have cautioned authors and suggested scaling back a bit during the election period. I won’t have a new book out ready until the beginning of the new year anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind. Thanks to Joshua Edward Smith for posting this on his FB page. It was a good read. https://kriswrites.com/2020/09/09/business-musings-trainwreck-fall-edition/


I still like Twitter for some things, other things, not so much. The book promos are getting a bit out of hand (I’ve heard September is being a hard month for everyone), and no one seems to be writing anymore for personal reasons. A lot of my friends have school-aged children and we’re all doing the best we can with e-learning, and over here we’re trying not to meltdown because every five minutes we have a Google Hangout meeting and my daughter doesn’t want to do it.

Anyway, so there’s a woman who’s close to publishing her first book. She’s got the preorder up, had her cover professionally done (I don’t like it, but she didn’t ask my opinion LOL) paid for formatting, so it seems like she’s got things under control. But it’s her first book, and she’s green. I can tell by some of the things she tweets . . . and by the way she shrugs off advice. You’re right, she could be taking all the notes, but when she only hearts a suggestion and doesn’t bother to even thank someone for thinking of her, I know she’s shrugging off the advice. And I get it, you can’t taken EVERYONE’S advice. There’s just too much of it out there, and yeah, I completely understand there is more than one way to do this. And looking at my sales, better ways than mine!

But her attitude drives me a little nuts, and she’s not the first indie author to put a book out, expect to become overnight sensation, and earn bestseller status without having to lift a finger besides press Publish on her KDP dashboard. We all have to cut our teeth, but I hope back when I published 1700 in 2016 and didn’t know what I was doing, I had a little more grace. I probably didn’t. We all know more than a teenager when we put out our first books. But being seasoned, (and even not that seasoned as I only have 10 books out when others have 50+) I can step back and be slightly amused. I wish her well, I really really do, but it would be nice if she didn’t act like she was the first person in the whole world to publish a book. We get it. It’s fun, it’s special, but honey, if you don’t know how to market besides tweeting on Twitter, your book is going to sink like a stone and after your 30 day grace period is up on Amazon, I’m going to watch to see what happens. Hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.


How do you know you’re a good writer? Reviews? People simply telling you you are? Sales?Who do you believe? It’s tough because while quality is subjective from person to person, there has to be an overall agreement to what “good” is or there wouldn’t be bestsellers. It hurts when I see my author friends’ self-esteem shaken because they get negative feedback. Sometimes by several people. So, how do you know what to believe and what you shouldn’t?

For me, I can look at bad reviews with a critical eye. It’s easier when I don’t have reviews that say I’m a bad writer. They can nitpick a character or plot (one reviewer said His Frozen Heart had too much drama in it), or dislike Jax because he was an alphahole and maybe I didn’t completely redeem him at the end of All of Nothing, but in the reviews that I’ve read about my work, no one has come out and said that I’m a bad writer. And that helps. But it also doesn’t. Bad writing you can fix with time, effort, and lots of words written, but can you fix something that’s “off” about your books when no one can really articulate what that is?

Who should you listen to? Too many cooks ruin the broth, but when are opinions valuable?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch in her talk at 20booksto50k in Vegas last year said shouldn’t write by committee. Write the story you want, publish it, and go write more.

If you can’t trust your beta readers, can you trust reviews? I counter that for every one unhappy person who bothers to leave a review there are 20 happy readers who won’t take the time.

Writers are a sensitive bunch, and I hope that she finds her way out of her maze. She enjoys writing, and from the small portions I’ve read of her work, she’s a good writer. Hopefully she finds her happy place, and that’s back in front of her laptop.


That’s about all the news I have for today. I’m trying to get through to the end of my last book. I’m at 43k, so I’m slow going, but I need to plan out the rest of the book so I make sure I wrap up every single plotline I had going. At work tomorrow, whether I’m back home again, or going into the center, I need my notebook and I’m going to make list after list of what I need to finish this series. I think knowing exactly what I need for the last 50k+ words will help a lot.

Have a good weekend everyone!


The Positives and Pitfalls of Writing a Series

Writing a series is hard. And daunting. Not one person can tell you it’s easy. But there are a lot of positives that can come with taking the time to write an intriguing, action-packed series.

Personally, I don’t like writing them. I’m getting used to them, but I like writing one book, being able to edit it, format it, slap a cover on it, and push it out to the world. Writing a series is more involved, but the pay off can be much more than the instant gratification of writing a standalone.

When I started writing my first person book back in December, I had a plan for it to be a trilogy. And it could have stayed that way, but a secondary character needed her story told, and I worried for a while over what that story would be. I laid a shaky foundation for her in the first three books, but now that I’m starting book six, I know highlighting her story was the right choice. At least, I hope it turns out to be.

What are the positives and negatives of writing a series? From my limited experience, I’ll give you my list:

The positives:

  1. Read-through. This isn’t to say that if someone reads one of your standalones, they can’t or won’t go on to read other books in your backlist, but if you can hook them with a solid book one, it’s almost a no-brainer that you’ll have that reader for as long as your series lasts. That means guaranteed sales for you.
  2. The books are easier to write. More than likely, the books after book one will have some of the plot built into the overall story. When I wrote my wedding series, I had to include wedding activities that included the other characters. Not only does that take up space, but readers like when other characters play a role, even if the book isn’t centered on them.
  3. They look great on your Amazon Author Page, and Amazon will create a series page for you to help promote them. This is a silly thing to point out, mostly I added it because I can’t think of any other positives. I’m sure if you enjoy writing a series, you can com up with something more, but I’m all out. A series with nice covers does look terrific on your author page, though, and if you have more than one series, it clues a reader in that you’re in this for the long haul and they can count on you to deliver books well into the future.

    This is the top of my series page on Amazon. If you want to look at the whole page Amazon provides, click on the graphic.
  4. That does remind me that a series has more marketing potential than a standalone novel. You can price a book one free for a time using your Kindle promotion free days you’re allowed every quarter (or permafree if you’re wide), and later when all the books are published you can put them into a box set. A series is good for a reader magnet prequel, too. For my wedding series, I could write a novella about how the couple meets as the series starts two weeks before their wedding. It’s a way to get readers invested and sign up for your newsletter. It would only take me a few days to write a 30,000 word novella to offer as a reader magnet but I’m writing something else right now and I would need to schedule that into my writing calendar. If I’m interested enough to bother with it.

Which brings me to the pitfalls of a series:

  1. The biggest for me is that I get bored. And you know if the writer is bored, so will the reader be. I like fresh characters; I like starting from scratch. In romance, you can write a series with a plot that spans all the books, like the wedding in mine. All the characters are in town for the ceremony, and the wedding takes place at the end of book four, but each book focuses on a different couple. That made it enough for me to write four books, but I was relieved when they were done. In fact, I started writing book one of the series I’m working on now before book 4 was properly finished. It took a few extra weeks because, unfortunately, I had checked out. I was craving something new, even though I saved my favorite couple for last.
  2. The covers are harder. This probably won’t mean much to you if you hire out. But a series is more work, more costly, and you have to keep branding in mind. They need to look like a series. If you do your own covers, that could mean hours looking through stock photos searching for pictures that have the same vibe. Once I knew the basic design of the covers, I could choose a couple and slip the composite into the template I made in Canva. It took a long time for me to decide on the layout, though, because there’s lots to consider, especially if you write romance:
    a) what’s trending? single woman? single man? man chest? a couple?
    b) steam level
    c) overall look for the genre or subgenre you’ve written in
    d) what font to use
  3. You have to make the first book strong or your read-through will fizzle and the subsequent books you write will be for nothing. This happened to me with my trilogy. My first book is weak–I didn’t know a lot about character arcs, conflict, or stakes. With the wedding series, the first couple I chose were also “quiet” and I didn’t think they had enough oomph to encourage read-through. When writing the second book, I realized that couple was stronger than the first and swapped them. This series is still new, so only time will tell if I made the right choice, but that brings me to another pitfall:
  4. Consistency. I hang on to all my books while I write them. I don’t publish them one by one. There are pros and cons to this, but the main reason I do it is to have control over editing. I like being able to make changes if I’m writing later books and a good idea comes to me, or a beta reader catches inconsistencies. But that also means I won’t know how book one will do, or if I’ve wasted my time writing a whole series first. That’s a risk I need to take because I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable enough to write one book at a time and release as I go along.

    This puts me in a position to rapid release, but I’m still so new as an author I don’t have an audience and putting books on pre-order don’t do anything.

    Some authors will release one by one and tie things up if their read-through drops off, or they keep it going if they make a lot of money and readers are enjoying their books. I don’t have either of those options when I hold onto them from start to finish.

I’m getting used to writing in a series and the first person books are going pretty fast. I will have quite the chore editing them, but like I said in a previous post, I’m going to lighten up with these, have fun, and let my characters (and my voice) shine.

Will I write another seres? Sure. The book I’m planning in the back of my mind could very well be a series. Sometimes they come to you without you wanting them to. Secondary characters can steal the show. I think those are the best kinds of series, when characters demand their stories by told. After all, if they demand it, hopefully readers will, too.


If you have a series, or are in the middle of writing one, and want to promote it, Written Word Media has a new promotional tool for authors. When I purchased my Freeobooksy through Written Word Media in July for the first book in my series, I had forgotten they had come out with this. I will definitely check into it the next time I want to run a promo. While it can seem a bit costly, the read-through of a readable series can more than pay for the fee. Good luck!


Thursday Musings, #firstworldproblems, and series update

Life is full of minor inconveniences. There’s even a hashtag for that–#firstworldproblems. What bothers us would make people in other countries shake their heads. I’m not talking about coronavirus now, though mask-wearing may be up there for some people who would prefer not for, um, reasons. But despite how petty and immature we can be about things that inconvenience us, when they keep coming, it can seem like life is trying its best to get you down.

I’ve had a few of those inconveniences, and I’m waiting for life to possibly get back to normal. I could be waiting for a long time, but trying to make lemonade out of lemons, or trying to find the silver lining, is getting to be a little tiring. My little inconveniences range from having maintenance in our bathroom fixing the caulking in the tub and repainting, to having to shower at my ex-husband’s while said paint and caulking dry, to being told, just a few minutes ago, that we can’t let water go down the drains in our apartment because it will make the guy’s bathroom downstairs flood. Of course he called maintenance, but the last time this happened they had to dig up pipes the front yard. So no telling when we’ll get to run our water. On the plus side, I’m clean, so there is that.

Other inconveniences range from my mouth is still hurting, and likely will for months to come as there isn’t an end to my dental work in the foreseeable future, (either they’ll finish or I’ll run out of money. Who knows?) to me being able to work from home but my cat making a meal of the ethernet cable laying on the floor. I did get permission to buy a new cord in the event this one is destroyed by tiny cat teeth, but then I’ll buy a longer one and attach it to the ceiling instead of letting lay on the floor.

Small inconveniences that add up to me being generally crabby about life right now, but make me feel like a petty snot because hello? fires everywhere. And they aren’t little, either.

In other news, I’m 26k into the last book of my series. I’m really excited to get these books all wrapped up, and it’s no secret that I am very excited to start something else. That will have to wait a bit but I can distract myself by looking more into newsletters. I created an email for my website and I signed up for MailerLite. I haven’t watched any of the tutorials to figure out how to set up a welcome email, but I should at least get that sorted so I can include a sign up link to the back of the books I’ll be editing soon. I need to figure out a reader magnet too, and look into how Story Origin works for building newsletter signups and joining promotions. I suppose I could be doing that instead of watching the old Jurassic Park films, but I feel such a kinship to Sam Neill and his crooked bottom teeth.


I’ve had to stop my ads for now. I spent 400 dollars in the month of August but made 500 (for all you math nerds that means I came in ahead by 100 dollars instead of breaking even like I normally do). Because of the way Amazon bills you for ad spent vs. the way they pay you for royalties, my ad spend money is in the hole, and I can’t afford more until that money is replaced. They pay out every sixty days, so I won’t be able to start more ads until the end of October or early November. Right now I’m still making a little very day, mostly in read-through of my series, so I’m not crying too much. I’ll start ads up again after Halloween and play up the Christmas aspect of my books, or at the very least, that they take place in the winter.

I guess that’s all I have for this Thursday. Tomorrow after I log off from work I’ll clean the bathroom and get that put together again. I hope I hear from the property management when it comes to being able to use water again. I mean, we can use the water, just not let anything go down the drain, and I’m assuming that means we can’t flush the toilet, either. We weren’t told by property management we can’t, but this has happened before, so I know all too well what is going on with the poor guy downstairs. I hope they can fix it quickly!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and if you’ve had a crappy week, things pick up for you!

Keep your chin up! Until next time!


Monday’s Author Musings and Catch Up.

I don’t have a lot to say at the moment. I’ve been writing my first person present books, and I’m 34k into the 5th book out of 6. I’m happy things are moving along and my alpha reader says that so far they are engaging and stuff keeps happening even if I feel some parts are a bit laggy in places. So, that’s good news! It’s going to be quite the task to edit them but because of consistency issues, I’ll do them all once book 6 is done and I take a bit of a breather. When I don’t feel like writing I’m looking through stock photos of couples I like. The covers will be a process, and you can’t start something like that too soon.

I’m happy that Canva has introduced some text effects and that will add some additional choices when making covers. It will be fun to play around with new combinations.


My Amazon ads are still doing well. I think the promo I did with Freebooksy is still working. I’m up almost a hundred dollars after ad expenses for the month, and it’s only the ninth. It would be really cool if I could make that and not spend, but paying for marketing is always going to be a necessary evil.

Not too many readers are leaving reviews on Amazon though, and I’m scared to look at Goodreads. People can be a little nastier there, and I just don’t need that kind of negativity. Being a writer and putting yourself out there is already hard enough. No need to torture yourself when you don’t have to.


If you want some more information about marketing, Jane Friedman is hosting a webinar this week, on Wednesday, August 12th. If you can’t watch it live, you can watch the replay. She always has such good information and you should give her blog a follow too. If you want information about the marketing webinar and her other online classes, click here.


I suppose that’s all I have for now. I’ve been writing a lot, working, and it feels like I’m always doing laundry. It’s been hotter than hell in MN this summer, and dealing with the heat, despite our air conditioning being fixed has been a real drain. And this week we’re supposed to find out what my daughter will be doing with her school year. She starts 9th grade next month! I can’t believe how time flies.


I hope you all are doing well, and looking forward to fall. The cooler weather will be welcome! Have a great week everyone!


Starting At Zero

Hello, and welcome to August! I hope you are staying safe, healthy, and sane. A lot of things are up in the air right now, but I did want to talk about one thing that’s been on my mind. I joined a Facebook Group for Amazon ads. Most of the members are holdovers from the Ad Profit Challenge that Bryan Cohen hosted last month. But I did notice a common theme.

Lots of us are starting at zero.

We all start at zero. Even Steven King started at zero, submitting stories through snail mail, hoping a magazine would publish his work. It’s a little hard to believe that huge writers like King and Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman, and others started at a typewriter or computer, stared at a blank page, and started writing their books for no one but themselves.

These days starting at zero doesn’t seem so daunting. There are writing groups, publishing groups, publishing conferences, virtual conferences, Zoom rooms, Facebook rooms, and more. Writers have a million places to share links and drive traffic to their book, blog, or social media sites. But even if you have a hundred people starting from zero around you, you’re still in it yourself, and when you feel like you can’t make any traction, that journey seems very lonely.

What’s even worse is starting from zero means you’re probably making mistakes that you don’t know you’re making. Mistakes that could effect you and your business for years to come. Some things can be fixed like a bad cover, some might take longer, like re-editing a poorly written book. One of my biggest is no newsletter.

But there is a ton of information at your disposal, and David Gaughran has helped with that. In his new course, Staring From Zero, he talks you through what you need to do to get your book published, and published well so it sells. The course is free, and I’m half-way through it. It’s a great resource, even for those who have been around for a little while. Things change, and David provides information that’s relevant as of July 2020. I would sign up and watch the videos. He gives you two free ebooks also, and all you need is a little time to make your books better. He doesn’t even try to sell you anything!

I’m enjoying the course so far, and because of Bryan’s Amazon Ads Profit Challenge, I’ve done some of David’s suggestions already for some of my books. What I need to do is take a couple hours and do all the things so I can give my books the best chance of selling as I can.

If only selling your book were as easy as writing it!

Click on the photo for the website to get started! Tell me what you think

Photo taken from David’s Facebook Page

My Freebooksy Promo Results for His Frozen Heart (A Rocky Point Wedding Book 1)

I did a Freebooksy on July 17 for the first book in my series to try to jumpstart some sales. Here are the results:

First I spent a little more time with the ad:

I really wanted to make sure that readers knew what they were getting. It’s a holiday romance, so it takes place in the winter. It’s got kind of a Beauty and the Beast type theme, and I wanted to bring that home because not every reader likes that kind of trope. Damaged heroes, yes, but damaged on the outside, not so much. Plus I wanted to highlight that it’s first in a series that’s complete because indies have burned too many readers with series that aren’t done or won’t be finished for many years. Readers are smart enough to know not to get invested. I’ve seen Chris Fox do this too, in his ad copy on Amazon. Plus it’s a great way to let readers know there is more than one book available.

I didn’t care so much about the ranking since potential read-through of the other books is more important. But I think I did okay in the free list in Small Town Romance:

Eleven was as high as I got, but I did go up to number 2 in Holiday Romance:

So that was fine. I don’t think it means much, to be honest–I kind of feel like anyone can give away a book. Especially if you’re paying to do it.

So the promo ran on July 17th, and the first day of the promo I gave away 3,866. I always give away the book the next day in case someone opens their email late and by chance looks to see if the book is still available. On July 18th I gave away 915. I did give away some on the 19th probably because of a time zone thing: 51. So in all total my promo gave away 4,832.

The first couple of days didn’t earn me any read-through, and that’s to be expected because a lot of people download a book but don’t/can’t read it right away. Twelve days later, I am getting some read-through and I’ve made back what spent on the promo.

Here are the stats for each book in the series this month. And if anyone wants to know, more than half of my royalties come from KU page reads.

It thrills me I’m getting read-through. I was so full of doubt when the first few reviews of book one came in and they were bad. Now, hopefully with Amazon ads I can have long tail off this promo. And if the people reading the whole series would review, that would be fantastic too. I need a few good ones to wipe out the negative ones on Amazon and Goodreads.

So all in all, I had a positive experience with Freebooksy this time around. If I could give you advice it would be this:

  • Make your ad copy in the Freebooksy newsletter count. I tried to add as much information as I could so the reader knew exactly what they were getting.
  • You’ll get more bang for your buck if you’re promoting a series. If you’re not, at least fix your back matter and offer links to other books so if your reader likes your book they have something else they can immediately read when they’re done. Don’t make them hunt–make it easy to read your books. All my books in the series link to the next. That did mean going in and adding the buy-link after publishing the next book, but the extra effort is very much worth it.
  • Make sure you have a good cover that conveys your genre.
  • Make sure the blurb is well-written.
  • Make sure if you’re promoting a first in series, that all your books look like they belong together.

Obviously, I haven’t made what I could have if those 4,000+ giveaways had been sales. And I’m not really sure what’s going on with more books. The books I’m writing now are different from these, and I think I”m going to be publishing them under a pen name. Does that mean my next book is going to be in 3rd person past? Or do I want to write in first person present? If I’m going to keep promoting these, then I should eventually have something new readers can move on to. On the other hand, if I have to fight like a trout upstream for sales, then I need to stop beating my head against a brick wall. Writing first person present is fun, and if I can find a foothold writing that, I would be content to let my 3rd person past stuff rest for a while.

Lots of choices!

Tell me, have you done a pomo lately? Let me know!


Adding categories to your book

In Monday’s blog post I talked about relevancy and mentioned that the categories you put your book into when you publish should closely fit what’s inside your book as possible.

There are a lot of questions about categories, such as, is there a list to choose from and where do we find it?

Amazon hasn’t provided us a list of categories they offer their authors, but they do let you add categories to your book–up to ten. All you have to do is ask.

But how do we do that?

The first thing we need to do is find a book that is most like ours on Amazon. This can be a traditionally published book, or choose an indie who has been publishing for a while who knows what’s going on. Meaning, they have probably already done this process, and we’re just going to borrow their categories.

To show you, I’m going to do The Years Between Us. The categories that the book is in right now is what I chose when I published:

You can choose two, and I think I did choose Coming of Age Fiction and, well, let me look. It’s easy enough to remind yourself if you go into your Bookshelf on KDP and look at the ebook details.

Unfortunately, it made me save changes and republish, so if you plan on going in and doing any promotions or anything, don’t check on your categories until you’ve done what you need to do because while KDP publishes your “changes” they lock you out. Anyway, so you can see that Amazon stayed true to what I set when I first published, but those categories are not a complete representation of what that book is. The Years Between Us is an older man/younger woman novel, and I’m not sure if that’s actually a category, so we need to snoop around. I don’t think it is, but I do know that I can do better than the categories that book is in.

I’ll go to Amazon and search in the Kindle Store, Older Man/Younger Woman and see what comes up. It can be a naughty sub-genre, and mine isn’t dirty like that. So finding a comp book might take a little bit of time. We might need to click through a few books to find a close match.

I’m going to go with this book for the sake of this blog post, but once you know how to check a book’s categories, you can check as many books as you like and search for as many categories as you think will fit your book.

The cover doesn’t look that naughty, and it’s obviously an older man/younger woman romance. I haven’t read it, and never heard of Suzie before, but let’s see what categories she used for her book:

I can’t choose Billionaire Romance because The Years Between Us doesn’t follow that sub-genre, but this isn’t the only way we can see what categories this book is listed under. If you go to www.bklnk.com, you can use this website to insert the ASIN number for any book and we’ll hopefully see if there are more categories this book is in.

Click on Catfinder and enter the ASIN in the field provided.

After you click, Go Find! you’ll be presented with a list of categories that book is in on Amazon.

It doesn’t look like there are going to be any discoveries here, except I do see that it’s listed in Romantic Comedy. She may have asked for that category to be added. That’s not something I can use for my book because my book is all about drama and secrets.

Let’s try another book. After some hunting, I found Reckless Suit: A Hero Club Novel, by Alexia Chase.

You’ll remember The Years Between Us wasn’t even listed in contemporary romance, so that’s a category we can add right away. But looking at the categories for this book gives me a couple of ideas. City Life could be one, because the book does take place in a huge (albeit made up city), and I could add Women’s Romance Fiction. So there are three I could add. Contemporary Romance, City Life, and Women’s Romance.

If your book has a lot to do with families, you could probably add Family Life Fiction, but that might be more aimed at a women’s fiction book dealing with family issues. I would prefer to aim my book at readers who want more romance in their plots.

So now that we have the categories we want, how do we as Amazon to add those categories?

  1. Go to your KDP Dashboard and click on HELP in the top right menu next to Sign Out.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click on Contact Us. That will be a yellow button on the bottom left of the page.
  3. Click on Amazon Product page and Expanded Distribution.

Then click on Update Amazon Categories.

There it will even give you a template you can fill out, and from here all you have to do is give them your book’s ISBN and ASIN numbers and the exact categories you borrowed from the books like yours.

Here is my list for The Years Between Us that I found from searching Amazon for books similar to mine, and using www.bklnk.com for the string of categories that Amazon requires you to include:

  1. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Contemporary Fiction » Contemporary Romance Fiction
  2. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Genre Fiction » City Life Fiction
  3. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Women’s Fiction » Women’s Romance Fiction
  4. Books » Books » Literature & Fiction » Genre Literature & Fiction » City Life Fiction
  5. Books » Books » Romance » Contemporary Romance

This is the exact text in the message I sent to Amazon through my KDP account:

Please add these categories to The Years Between Us in the .com store.

The ASIN number is: B07Q4143R1
and the ISBN number is: 978-0999677568

Categories to be added (list each category as a separate line item for all applicable titles)

  1. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Contemporary Fiction » Contemporary Romance Fiction
  2. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Genre Fiction » City Life Fiction
  3. Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Women’s Fiction » Women’s Romance Fiction
  4. Books » Books » Literature & Fiction » Genre Literature & Fiction » City Life Fiction
  5. Books » Books » Romance » Contemporary Romance

Thank you for adding these to my book! Your time is very much appreciated! Stay safe and healthy. 🙂


I’m always polite, and I’ve never had a problem asking them to do something. It takes about a day to get a response, and if you give them the entire string in the categories you need added, they shouldn’t have a problem fulfilling your request. Unfortunately if you want to add your book’s categories to the other stores like Canada (.ca) or the UK (.co.uk) then you have to send separate messages. (This is per Bryan Cohen and what he teaches in his ads course. I have never added categories in the other stores.)

As with the relevancy post on Monday, you want to make sure you choose the most relevant categories for your book. The correct categories will only help Amazon sell your book by putting it in front of readers who most likely to want to read it.

I always give credit where credit is due, and I learned this tip doing the Amazon Ads Profit Challenge with Bryan Cohen. He’s going to leave the video up for a little bit, so if you want to watch him in action choosing categories for his book, you can check it out here. https://www.bestpageforward.net/july-2020-challenge-prep-work/ The talk about Categories starts about 25 minutes in, but the whole video is very useful! 🙂


Amazon got back to me before I published this post, and they added my categories without an issue:

Let me know if you’re going to add some categories, and what your thoughts are with adding the correct ones. I hope you found this useful! Until next time!