Publishing Predictions of 2021: Pricing

I love the new year! Not only for fresh starts, but because of all the publishing predictions that come our way. It’s so interesting to me how the publishing industry changes shape, like water poured into differently shaped containers. Authors and publishers will always be around in some form, but we have no idea what form it will take!

I was listening to the 6 Figure Author podcast last night while I was making dinner and cleaning the kitchen, and they broke down a few of Mark Coker’s predictions. He founded Smashwords, an ebook aggregator for authors who want to publish their book wide. He keeps his fingers on the pulse of the industry, and his hate for Amazon aside, it’s always interesting to hear his take.

If you want to read his predictions in its entirety, look here, and thank you to 6 Figure Authors (Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea) for discussing some of the topics, too! And if you want to listen to them instead of read me, that’s cool, and you can find their episode here. They talk about some of Mark’s predictions during the first half of the show.

Anyway, so what I want to talk about today is pricing your book. The decision takes a lot more thought than just wondering if you want to sell your book for $3.99 or $2.99, and one of Mark’s predictions states that authors will lose more and more of their royalties. Here are a couple of his reasons:

Subscription service. Of course, this is a jab at Kindle Unlimited, and it’s a business decision if you want to enroll and be exclusive in Kindle Select or if you want to be wide (on other retailers besides Amazon). What a lot of authors don’t think about though is do they want the sale or the page reads? And do they want 70% royalty or 35% royalty. I price my books at 2.99, which earns me a 70% royalty. I earn a little over two dollars for a sale, but when someone reads my book from start to finish in KU I only earn $1.64 give or take depending on how long my book is. (My small town wedding series falls between 69k-72k). Mark says that the subscription service devalues our work, and maybe that’s true. On the other hand, on the podcast they talked about how a subscription service allows more people to read than ever before. A KU subscription is about 10 dollars a month, and Amazon is always doing promotions. Enrolling my book in KU could find me readers I may not find other places because they can’t afford to purchase books singly. Kobo also has a subscription service, but authors don’t need to be exclusive to Kobo to join. Of course, this is what we want from Amazon, too, but don’t count on that happening.

Paying for advertising. No one wants to pay for visibility and discoverability, but there is no business where you don’t have to, either.

And it only makes sense to advertise on Amazon when a customer is already looking at books and in the mood to buy and read. Mark’s problem with this is we’re already paying Amazon to sell our book, we shouldn’t have to pay them to advertise it, too. When you think about it though, indies who are making a lot of money off their books don’t rely solely on Amazon Ads. Like I said in my other blog post about why I left an Amazon Ads FB group, indies making a living wage aren’t agonizing over the price of their bids. The bulk of their sales come from their newsletter subscribers, newsletter swaps, and in general, publishing consistently and letting Amazon do a lot of the discoverability work on their behalf. To be successful, you don’t have to buy Amazon Ads. Craig Martelle put it best: Amazon ads bring in new readers–your newsletter keeps them.

What should you look at then, when pricing your ebook?

How new are you? When you’re new and you spent a lot of time on that first book, you want to get paid for it. That’s what I’ve come across, anyway, speaking with new authors. That makes them price their book too high, and in a world where readers, yes, are used to a subscription model, you are not going to find sales. I found this book when I was scrolling through one of my FB groups:

I’m sorry, but this is her first book, and the look inside is all telling. She’s not going to get $5.99 for this book. She’s also wide, not in KU, so she can’t even count on a few page reads to bolster her spirits.

How many books do you have out? If you only have one, you’re better off pricing it as competitively as possible and quickly writing the next book. Once you have a large catalogue you’re freer to experiment. Have a permafree first in series, create box sets and run promos on those. The author above can’t use free days that a Kindle Select participant can. When you have more books published, you can have some of your backlist a little cheaper and charge more for the new releases. All my books are $2.99, but my catalogue is in KU and I don’t think too much about my prices because I concentrate on KU readers.

What is your genre? Supply and demand is a huge consideration when pricing your book. I write romance where there is a huge supply, but there is also great demand. It makes visibility difficult and there is too much supply for an author to overprice their books. Readers don’t have to pay to find books to read. In fact, a romance reader could download free books and read for the rest of their lives. There is just too much free content out there. Whether or not that reader is getting what they pay for is something else entirely and I’ve talked to death about quality on this blog. That poor author above writes romance, and she will never sell a book for $5.99 when that is more than half a subscription cost to KU for a month.


Mark Coker is all about readers trained to devalue our work, but it’s not just the publishing industry that has this problem. Spotify has been known for not paying their artists, and Audible will only give you a higher rate for your audio book if you are exclusive with them. And who wants to be now that their gross return system is all over the news?

If you want to be paid for your work, there are only a couple things you need to do: put out a good product–no one likes to pay for junk, and that includes a poorly written book–and nurture an audience. If you have a group of readers who will read you no matter what, you can price your books accordingly and know your readers will pay because they enjoy your books.

Amazon isn’t the problem. Subscription models aren’t the problem. It’s indies who are impatient and don’t publish quality. They give their books away to whoever will read them (especially in exchange for reviews), and they can’t nurture an audience because they don’t publish consistently. Everyday in the groups I see the indies who are doing it right, and the indies who are doing it wrong, like the romance author above. Of course, it took me a few years to figure out what I’m doing wrong, and now I’m adjusting accordingly and hoping to learn from my mistakes.

My main point is, your readers will pay you.You just have to find them first.

Another interesting article about pricing and how much authors are paid. It’s not just indies having a tough time: https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/how-much-do-authors-make/

Do you agree? Disagree? With me or with Mark? Let me know!


Amazon Ads: A discussion

A love a good round table talk about things that are working in the indie community. Be it a new marketing tactic or a new way of doing things, I’m all in. I may not take any action–mostly because I know I’m not already doing what I could using tried and true methods, like building a newsletter. But I really enjoy reading discussions about something I’ve tried and can compare what their opinions and expreiences, especially when heavy-hitters in the industry weigh in with what is working for them–and what isn’t.

Trust me, if something isn’t working for them–you’re not going to get it to work for you.

And as always, we have to think of what our definition of success is. When it comes to selling books, that may mean one stranger buying your book. That may mean your first review from someone you don’t know. When you get to the people who are trying to make a living, usually their version of success is making money to live on, quitting their day jobs, maybe using their royalties to have a more comfortable retirement. Indies just starting out think small. A book here, a book there, clicks and tons of impressions are all that is needed to spur them on. I get annoyed, mostly because if you think small, you’ll be happy with peanuts. Someday I would like to quit my day job. I doubt that will never happen, but if I don’t at least aim for it, it won’t, for sure.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I stubbled upon a discussion in the Self Publishing Formula Facebook group headed by Mark Dawson. Mark runs an ads course and is a very successful indie in his own right. Other big names who were chiming in included AG Riddle and Russell Blake. I really want to copy and paste parts of the discussion, but it’s a private group and I don’t want to get kicked out. If you’re an indie and want to join, the link is here: SPF Community.

AG posted a poll: Do Amazon Ads work? In later comments he amended his question to, Do Amazon Ads work right now? And I feel that while some people are still getting their ads to work, the consensus was actually, no they don’t.

At least, not in the way we hope they will.

Lots of things come into play here, and the one that I’m reminded of most is that while Amazon Ads won’t let your book sink down the rankings into obscurity, what you want the ads to do is help your book get sticky enough that Amazon helps you sell it. Email blasts, recommending your book, hitting the popularity list being chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal. Ads alone aren’t going to help you do this. This is what I gleaned from the conversation, and you can tell me if you agree.

Do Amazon Ads work?

*Yes. If you have a series. Someone commented and said that ads don’t truly work if you’re counting on read through to cover the cost of the click. This is a good point and why the number one piece of advice is to write in a series. But the ad is still putting book one in front of readers. It’s up to the strength of the book (is it well-written) and if the other books are available if the ad spend is going to be worth it.

Let’s look at the cost of a click for a standalone book at .99. You don’t get .99 off that sale–your max royalty amount is 35%, so about .35 cents. If you bid .35 on a click, you’re breaking even, right? That’s what I’m doing right now on my first in series. I put it on sale for .99 until the end of the year because it’s a holiday romance. My other books in that series are 2.99. With dynamic bids down, my clicks won’t always cost the exact amount I bid, and I may make .10-.15 on that first book. My others are priced at 2.99, in which I get my 70% royalty, or 2.09.

*Yes. If your book sells well at full price or is in KU. I’ll make more off a .99 cent book in KU than I will selling it for that price. I can spend .35 a click because a full KU read of book one will earn me 1.35. Which is a dollar in royalties.

*Yes. If you have all your categories and targeting situated. There’s nothing Amazon hates more than showing your book to people who won’t buy it. It’s a waste of time for them and for their customer. Customer satisfaction is all Amazon wants and if you’re trying to show your book to as many people as possible and you lose relevancy, Amazon will stop showing it. That’s tough for authors who genre-mash, write without thinking and have no idea what their genre is, or have poor product pages. I didn’t consider why an ad would stop working until I read Robert J Ryan’s book, Amazon Ads Unleashed.

*Yes. If your book is a good product and has the reviews to prove it. There’s not much to say here, and I’ll quote two of the comments:

Ads can only give extra visibility to what you’ve got – they can’t make it sell better. The product does the selling, not the ads.

Robert J Ryan

A very long time ago I got a degree in advertising. One of the bits of wisdom I remember is that good advertising will kill a bad product quicker.

Jennifer L Anderson

*Yes. If you know how to use them. Figuring out how the platform works takes a bit of time, and even though you may not spend much, if you want to see traction, you have to be able to afford some spending money for clicks. As I write this, I’m 19 dollars ahead for the month, but I wouldn’t be there if I couldn’t afford the 10 dollars I’ve already spent on clicks.

The problem is, Amazon ads will help you, but by a very thin margin. Using ads won’t make you a millionaire over night. I break even every month, sometimes make a little–a cup of coffee little. I have ten books out, I’m writing more (or trying to. My life has been a bit trying lately), and my covers, at least, I think, are on point even if I’ve done them myself. It took a long time for me to realize I wasn’t writing what was selling, and lots of authors do that. Maybe they’re writing fantasy, but they aren’t hitting the tropes. Maybe they’re planning a series, but only have book one released.

It’s obvious the better product you have, the more successful you’ll be. Mark Dawson has professional covers, and he writes in a couple popular series. Plus, he’s a good writer. I think all the big indies who have “made it” can safely assume their writing is good and resonates with readers. If you’re pushing water up hill as Robert J. Ryan likes to say in his book, then you need to take a look at the product, not blame the ads.

I enjoyed the discussion very much, and I hope you look it up if you haven’t. I think one of the key takeaways from the discussion is that everyone agreed they used to work better than they do right now. The market is super saturated, and by some very talented authors. We have to work with what we’ve got, and using other platforms in conjunction with Amazon ads may be the better way to go. All the big indies who joined in the discussion have large email lists and they use ads to bring new readers in, not keep readers from disappearing. That’s an important observation, and one I have taken note of.

Have you found a secret ingredient to make Amazon ads work for you? Let me know!


Impatient readers. A gift or a burden?

You know what I love more than anything in the world? Realizing at 8 pm the night before a blog post is due that I haven’t written it yet! This week has been just a crazy time with some personal issues, a cat that won’t let me sleep, and a maintenance man in our bathroom. I’m exhausted, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t get much done on my book this week. I stalled out around 64k and I need to dig my heels in and get it finished if I want to meet my goal of the middle of December. For the first time in forever I don’t have the next book planned, so I may actually take that break I wrote about 6 books ago. Maybe.

What was interesting this week is a little drama over on the Nora Roberts blog. She released a first in a trilogy (which apparently ended in a cliffhanger) and already her readers are clamoring for the second. The comments on the blog got a little heated, and Nora and her publicist Laura shut it down pretty quickly:

For those of you who can’t read that one of her readers says: NR trilogies used to be published all in one year a month apart. now they are a year apart.
what the heck

Her publicist, Laura, came back with: The trilogies are longer, more complicated books. Nora needs the time to write them.

And Nora herself said: I did the three in three months in paperback trilogies once or twice. That schedule was by no means usual or regular. As it was, doing that cramped my writing schedule and seriously impacted my personal life.

I can’t write that fast!!!

It takes time to write, and it takes a lot of time to write these longer, more complex hardcover trilogies.

It does take time to write. Anyone who has written a book knows that. And the more subplots that are interwoven into the main plot, the more complicated and more time consuming it is. I’ve read several of Nora’s trilogies and she has each book with it’s own plot that gets tied up at the end but also an overarching plot that gets resolved at the end of book three. Those take time to plan.

You can dig through all of the discussion here, if you want.

The discussion upset Nora so much she had to write a blog post about it to, I don’t know. Defend herself, I guess. And in reality, does she have anything to apologize for? She publishes under Nora and her pen name, JD Robb, and her blog post says she write four books a year. That is more than some indies who aren’t under any publishing constraints.

And then Debra has a whole article written about her, and I happened to find her comment going deeper in to The Awakening thread:

Nora’s response is long and available at this article or in The Awakening comment thread I posted the link to earlier in the blog, but I’ll copy and past it here for fun.

Nora: I have personally explained the process to you, Debra. You are not stating facts but opinions. But you continue to contradict me, as you apparently think you know more about publishing than I do, and more than the industry professionals I work with.

FACT: Publishing the trilogy a year apart is not a marketing strategy. 

I haven’t finished writing the second book, and won’t begin to write the third until next fall. 

Your opinion that the publisher should wait a year or two—holding a completed ms, or two —is in fact not how publishing works. 

You’re not commenting, but contradicting and insisting against every fact given you that you’re right and I’m wrong, that Laura’s wrong, that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

Once again, I ask: Do you work in publishing?

If so you’d know that in order to publish a major release in less than 6-8 months means serious added cost—it’s called crashing for a reason.

This is not how the process is intended to work or should.

You can keep insisting you’re right, you know better than I do how publishing works. 

But that won’t turn your opinion into a fact.

The most interesting part though, is Debra’s opinion on the publishing industry:

Debra: Please stop making comments on a blog about the publisher setting release dates according to their timeline and not considering the customer? What is wrong with suggesting that the publisher can alter a release schedule? They can and they do. Many times. Assuming that just because we read Nora’s books we have no idea about anything that a publisher does is insulting. It is a business. It should consider its customer. Without the customer there is no business. This is business 101. I am sorry that you do not want me to state facts. Publishers can and do publish books in less than 6-8 months. Fact. It does not have to affect Nora’s writing time. Fact. A publisher does sit on MS’s when it is prudent or they are waiting for an event before they release. Fact. Publishing trilogies a year apart is simply a marketing strategy. Fact. I am reading the book for a second time. Fact. I will read it again before the next book drops. Fact. That does not mean I cannot comment on the fact that the publisher, that controls the release date, cannot change the release dates. If you do not want people to post facts-do not have a blog open for comments.

Of course, I don’t agree with her going off the rails on Nora Roberts. Nora does what her publisher tells her to do, and that’s it. All Nora cares about is writing a good book, and she does. Four times a year.

But what this does tell me is that Debra reads a lot of small press and indie. Indies and small presses who have a lot more flexibility in their publishing schedules. Indies who write books, save them up, and rapid release them especially so their whale readers can binge an entire series in one sitting. This is definitely a different kind of publishing than what Nora does, and quite honestly, I’m expecting the worlds to collide more frequently as more and more authors turn indie and more and more readers grow aware of that fact.

Debra has forgotten that even though Nora finishes a book she’s put into a queue same as other authors. With cutbacks there are fewer editors who edit the books, and her cover artist isn’t solely working on her book. Indies are in charge of their own editing schedules and buying a premade for a book cover doesn’t have much of a wait time involved.

Where does that leave us? Especially those of us who write romance? When customer demand outweighs supply, that can be a good thing, right? Except when indies try to write ten books a year and get burnt out on reader expectation.

Sometimes the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes she’s a Karen who feels entitled to getting what she wants when she wants it. I’ve seen that behavior more than ever before with COVID and the horrible things some authors have said about KDP (Amazon’s POD service) and IngramSpark. They forget that these call centers and POD printers are run by people. People who may have gotten sick and need to go home and quarantine to get better and prevent others from getting sick. I’ve seen some nasty treatment of workers for the POD companies right now and it’s disheartening. A sick employee doesn’t GAF where your proof is, Karen.

Indies are the same. We get sick. We have to look after sick family members, not just in COVID times, but all the time. Some of us still have day jobs and we write when we can. Some of us write through pain of carpal tunnel or other illnesses like depression. Nora, in a previous blog post some time ago has said she has dental issues and finds herself in a dentist’s chair frequently. Having had a tooth pulled a couple months ago, I can agree that teeth issues are not fun.

I won’t even get into quantity over quality simply because yes, some authors do need time to daydream, take walks, think about their book and where they need it to go, what their characters are telling them. Just because I’m not sitting at my keyboard pounding out letters doesn’t mean I’m not in some capacity writing every single second of my day. And it’s exhausting.

Debra got a lot of flack online for trollsplaining to Nora Roberts, but I’m interested in what she’s saying, even if she could have put it in a nicer way. Indies are spoiling readers. They want what they want, and they get it. And if you sign up for an indie newsletter, you get more than just the books. You get excerpts of coming books, deleted scenes, novellas, just-for-newsletter subscribers short stories and in some cases character art, word searches, crossword puzzles, and coloring pages, exclusive giveaways. It takes a lot these days to keep a reader of indie books happy, and if you don’t believe me, read Debra’s comments again.

So far, I don’t have a readership clamoring for my books, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing. At least, not until I have a Debra trolling my website hounding me for the next book.

What do you think?

Happy Monday everyone! Have a great week!


eBookSoda Promotion. Worth Your Money?

Image taken from website

Marketing your book feels harder than actually writing the silly thing, and we’re all looking for inexpensive but effective ways to promote our books. I tried eBookSoda last week, hoping to promote His Frozen Heart because of the holiday season. Amazon is turning my ads down now because of their “suggestive pose” and I’m not going to swap out covers just to appease the Zon. I have to keep reader expectations in mind, and them showing a little skin clues readers in this is going to be a steamy read. Amazon tightening up their creative guidelines has more than just me in a pinch, and we’re all searching for ways to replace the ad platform.

Anyway, so while listening to a podcast, the interviewee, Sara Rosett, reminded me of the promotional site and I recalled they weren’t that expensive. For $29.00 you can buy a spot in their reader newsletter and get your book in front of new readers. Similar to eReader News Today, or Free- and BargainBooksy, this is a one-time fee for a one-time promotion.

Maybe in the case of promotions the saying, “You get what you pay for,” is accurate. eBookSoda didn’t do much for me.

Besides lack of sales, the biggest problem I had is they didn’t proofread my ad. This is totally my fault and take responsibility. I should have been more careful with my ad when I created it, but they didn’t proofread it, either, and this is the ad that showed up in the newsletter:

I know the title of the book is my fault–I’ve done this in the past, especially when typing quickly creating ads in the Amazon Ads platform. But I was saddened to see that they didn’t fix it when creating the newsletter. This is a good lesson to proof your own work, but if you expect eBookSoda to also proofread for you, don’t count on it.

As far as sales go, I only sold three books on the day it came out, and nothing afterward. Usually I get a good bump in KU reads when I do a promo, but I didn’t get that either.

You can see from the photos that on the day of the promo, I made $1.28, and the next day $1.41. I didn’t get a bump in KU reads, and those royalties are from a book set at $.99. Overall, for the month of November, I’ve made $12.33 for the first in my series, which definitely is not something to brag about. I don’t have any Amazon ads going right now, mainly because the ones I’ve submitted have been rejected by the AMS team. I was hoping turning to paid promos instead of ads would bolster sales, but it did not.

One of the few pros to the promo site is that there were only two other books with mine in the newsletter sent out that day. When you purchase a FreeBooksy or BargainBooksy through Written Word Media, your book is grouped with several, and it’s up to your book cover and ad copy to really hook a reader into clicking because there is much more to choose from.

I don’t know if eBookSoda’s claims are true–that they can reach 26,000 readers–but I didn’t go for the extras you can pay for with your promo: Twitter and Facebook. They ask if your cover is explicit to not choose the Facebook promo option, and I didn’t because I assumed they wouldn’t like my cover and didn’t want to give eBookSoda a hard time. Possibly if I had been able to choose the Twitter and Facebook ad-ons ($9.00/each) I could have had a more successful promo, or I could have spent another $18.00 on nothing.

At any rate, I won’t be trying eBookSoda again, and I will save my dollars for other promo sites even if they may be a little more expensive.


As for my Amazon ads, I’m up $30.00 total for the month, but I have paused a few of my ads because they are spending more than they are making. Mostly I’ve been writing my next book, and for now I’m going to give up on pushing these books for the holiday season. Since I’m veering off in a new direction, I’m not sure how much time and money I want to invest in my 3rd person past novels anyway. I’m getting really bummed out Amazon is giving me a hard time with my covers, and I’m thinking about going wide with them and just kind of letting them go. I’m not giving up on them, exactly, but I may have found everyone in KU I’m going to find and perhaps wide now would be a better fit. I do remember I had some kind of weird anxiety with my books on other platforms, and I’m not sure what brought that on but it’s worth remembering. There’s something comforting about having all my books just in one place, but having all your eggs in one basket can also be anxiety-inducing for others.

There’s no one answer, unfortunately, and I don’t have a clear path for what I want to do in 2021.

When I try another promo site, I will let you know! Until then, have a wonderful conclusion to 2020, and I will talk to you again soon!

Until next time!


Giving your novel a title

Out of anything publishing a book can throw at you, I find titling your novel the most important and the most nerve-wracking. Considering I have a book named On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton, there’s evidence that I have failed miserably. It sounds like an address for a hooker meetup. Of course, it being my very first novel I ever published, there’s a lot more wrong with it than just the title.

I think the wrong title can hurt a book, mainly through sales if your potential reader can’t lift the genre or form some kind of expectation from it.

Though the book sells okay, I don’t think the title of All of Nothing helps it any. People and search engines ask if I mean All or Nothing, which how the phrase is supposed to go. No one knows, or probably cares, that I named that book after a song from The Birthday Massacre that I listened to relentlessly while writing the book. It fits, kind of, but could the title have been a little more title-to-market? Absolutely.

Naming my small town wedding series could have driven me toward a bender, and by the time I settled on the names for the four books, I never wanted to see them again. That’s a dangerous attitude, because I’ll be marketing these books for the rest of my life. Not seeing them again isn’t an option.

Coincidentally, the other day I was listening to the Wish I’d Known Then Podcast with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett and they had guest Robin Cutler on for an interview. Robin’s been the director of the POD part of IngramSpark for a while, and they asked her what she feels is the biggest mistake indies make. She said their book title. With everything that goes into publishing a book, it surprised me a bit that she said that, but then, on the other hand, a title is pretty important, and maybe authors are stymied by it just as much as I am.

I’m sure many of you have come across a book’s title and wondered what in the heck was going on with that author when they named their book. Just for fun I pulled a couple of books from a book promotions Facebook group. I’m not invading anyone’s privacy as that group is open to the public and this is a promotion of sorts. But I scroll through that group every so often and it’s evident that the authors weren’t thinking about marketing, branding, or overall reader impressions when naming their book.

It’s too bad those titles don’t do a good job of representing what’s inside. Some of those covers are nice and the authors put a little time in, or at least put out the money for a premade. But if you happened upon any of those, would you know what you’d be getting? Especially those couple whose covers don’t hit the mark, either? The only one I hesitated including was Perfekt Match. Obviously that book is about some sort of magick, hence the spelling. But I don’t know what there is to be gained by making a play with the spelling like that. To me, it makes the word look wonky, and if that’s the way the author spells it in the book itself, I wouldn’t put up with it long.

Now that I’m doing a rebranding of sorts in 2021 with 7 new releases, I’m going to be a lot more careful when naming my books. The titles need to match genre, content, cover, and blurb. This goes along with what Suzy K Quinn says in her interview with Joanna Penn. She says while you write your book, or even before that as you plan it (genre, tropes, if it will be a series, etc) if you can look at your book as a whole package, marketing that book will be a lot easier after it’s published. I’ve heard a lot of authors say they didn’t have a plan for their book before writing it, only after did they worry about audience and then they struggle to find a place for it with categories, sub-genres, and genres. It’s tough. It’s like being at a party and winning the white elephant gift. What’s inside? And do you really want it?

Titles are a pain but FB groups such as the Indie Cover Project are great for asking for opinions. Sometimes you have to have a thick skin–sometimes there isn’t a lot of handholding in groups like that, but when I was feeling out a title for the book I’m working on right now, they were very helpful.

The book I’m writing is a standalone and the premise goes something like this:

To earn fifty percent of the company he helped build, Colt Jameson needs to find a husband for his boss’s daughter and is given a short list of acceptable candidates. He turns bitter when he realizes he’s not on the list. Elayna Carmichael is beautiful, frivolous, and an alcoholic. He has no intention of falling in love–even if they were childhood best friends.

Billionaire heiress Elayna Carmichael pretends to be a lush to anonymously volunteer at a women’s shelter. She’s been in love with Colt Jameson all her life. He’s a workaholic and she knows he would never loosen up to be with her.

When not one, but all of the candidates agree to marry Elayna, Colt will have to decide if his half of her father’s company means more to him than finding love and claiming her for himself.

I’m no good at writing blurbs–it takes me forever, but this is just a quick synopsis. Of course the book has more to it than just that–lots of backstory and damaged characters are my forte, but this will suffice. It’s not a funny book. I can’t write humor, and I’ll never try. So when coming up with a title, I was thinking something like The Husband List. I workshopped that, and the general consensus is that it sounds like a romcom.

The vector cover still popular these days and I would maybe go for that rather than real people. I would just expect to have to refresh the cover after a couple years if it falls out of style.

So possibly I could go for The Husband Contract. The title feels a little more weighty, not so funny and sweet. And of course, you want to look at what’s selling in the genre, so looking up Billionaire romance, this is the top ten right now:

It looks like we have some very serious men in suits–which looks to be exactly what I need for my serious/dark billionaire romance.

If you’re like me, you can play all day and as long as it’s clean and you have a guy in a suit (and maybe a city in the background for extra points) a cover won’t take long.

They give off a crisp look that I’ve admired on Willow Winters’ book covers.

I may not go with that with the title at all. I don’t want to mislead my readers and usually with this kind of title, the contract would be between the characters, not the female MC and other men. I suppose it would depend on how well I write my blurb.

I’m only 32,000 words into this, about a third of the way through, so I have plenty of time. But this rebranding is important. I feel like while the past four years haven’t been a waste or a mistake, I finally know what to do to start my writing career on the right track. I’m choosing this standalone to publish first because by the time it’s ready, a year will have gone by, and I need to dip my toes back into the publishing waters. Plus, I’ll put the link to my newsletter in the back and maybe I can get a few organic sign ups while I edit and format my series I’ll release later next year.

Anyway, I’ll keep experimenting and thinking and see what I come up with. A lot of times I’ll think of a concept and then end up publishing a completely different idea. It’s fun to play.

What is the hardest part for you? Title? Cover? Blurb? Let me know!

**Some photos were taken from the Canva Pro collection. Some were taken from DepositPhotos.com. If I like a stock photo found in Canva, I look for the version in Deposit Photos and download it with one of my photo packs I purchased through AppSumo around Christmas last year. I never use a photo that I haven’t paid for.

Fonts are either from Canva Pro or my own personal collection I have purchased through PIxelo or Mightydeals. I also find some free for commercial use fonts here.


Thursday Musings: Working from home, new processes, and a new book!

Happy Thursday, everyone! We are all on pins and needles waiting for the election results. No matter who you voted for, I hope our president can make 2021 a great year for all of us!


Last week I finished another round of edits for my King’s Crossing Billionaire Series. I wish I could afford to send them off to an editor and wash my hands of them (except for putting in the edits afterward, of course) but I have no idea how a prolific author can afford an editor, even paying for simple proofreading, if the money isn’t coming in yet. I’ve snooped around for pricing, but man. Editors charge a lot. I totally get that, but scraping up the money for project after project, I don’t get how indies can afford it. I mean sure, I understand that eventually you’re going to make money, but if you’re not quite doing that yet, it’s tough to afford editing. Everyone says it’s an investment, and it really is, but you shouldn’t have to choose between putting out a quality book and paying for food. It’s tough. So I’ll be taking a break from those 6 books and come back to them after the New Year with fresh eyes. I”ll listen to them and make more changes and then go ahead and put them out.

Until then, I’ve started a standalone in first person present POV about a man who is tasked to marrying off his boss’s daughter for a share in his boss’s company. He falls in love with her instead, naturally, forfeiting his share of the company for love. Tentatively titled The Contract, it was supposed to be a reader magnet for my newsletter I wanted to get up and going this year. I’m 12,000 words into it already, (I started it Monday of this week) have most of the book outlined, and to be honest, I don’t want to give it away. I think it would be a great first book under my new name for the first person books I’m going to start writing. (I still go back and forth with what that will be. Some derivative of my real name is all I know.) This leaves me in a real jam because I should have my newsletter set up for the back matter of The Contract. I don’t need a reader magnet for organic signups like that, but I should have something which means writing something else in the near future. I just need something simple that will be a novella-length book that I won’t feel bad about giving away. Maybe I can pull something out of a plot generator and take six days to write 30,000 words of…something.


My new project would qualify me to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ve never needed the motivation to write quickly. I enjoy the work for what it is, and have enough support on Facebook in some of my groups. I don’t know how long The Contract will turn out to be, but it would be nice if I could hit the 80,000 word mark or so. We’ll see. I always stress about word count–it seems it’s part of my process.

Speaking of processes, starting a new project while working from home is different. When I used to go to work, I only had a notebook and pen, and being I was attached to my call station, I didn’t have any distractions. Working from home is a lot different environment, and sitting with a pad and pen here feels weird. I still need to outline–I’ll never be a good pantser. I need to know where the story is going or I would never be able to write as fast as I do. But not going into work doesn’t give me the downtime that was forced upon me, and I have to actively make time to daydream about my characters, brainstorm plots, and generally imagine the pieces of my book to put them together on paper. It’s definitely a new way of doing things.


I’ve had to pause all my ads because I’m eight dollars in the hole already this month. It would be nice if I could keep my series moving as it’s a winter wedding setting and takes place a couple weeks before Christmas, but this is a bad time of year and I don’t want to pump money into ads if no one is the mood to read. I see lots of that in my FB groups now–how everyone’s ads are dead, no one is buying and is there anything they can do? The answer is no. If there’s no demand, there’s no need for product. If people are worried about the election results, stressing if it’s safe to gather for Thanksgiving, and if the answer is yes, then doing the grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, and whatever else people are busy with this time of year, you can’t make them sit down and read your book. You’re better off forgetting ad maintenance for now and writing something new so you have a new release set up for when all this craziness is over. I know it’s a different story when you depend on your royalties, and I’m not there yet. But spending time tinkering with ads, trying to get them to deliver impressions and clicks is a waste of time.


That’s all I have for you on this Thursday’s author musings. I’m excited to be writing something fresh, and I don’t think it will take me long to get this book done. Hopefully I’m looking at a February release, and then over next spring and summer I can get my 6 book series out. I’m not so down in the dumps as I was a couple of blog posts ago. Life happens, and all you can do is roll with it.

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!


Content Marketing, easier said than done.

woman holding coffee cup quote:One of the best ways to sabotage content is to not tie it to your goals. Know why you’re creating content. 

– Ellen Gomes

When we think of content marketing (and really, who doesn’t think about it at least once day) a lot of us probably have no idea what that is. We hear the phrase a lot, especially us authors who have a lot of content to sell and share. At least, we should have a lot of content to sell and share. After all, we’re creators, and we should be creating content on a regular basis.

I had a friend a while ago (we don’t talk anymore–she’s one of those people who have faded off) and she had this problem. She desperately wanted to be part of the writing community. Her debut novel flopped, and her self-esteem took a hit. She was never really the same after that, though she tried. The problem was, and still is, she’s not writing. So you can imagine the difficult time she has trying to fit herself into the writing community when she’s not writing. Or more specifically, she has no content to share on social media. I see her really struggle find her place on Instagram, create her Facebook Author Page, she hasn’t blogged for months, and nothing she has found works. She’ll post, delete her profile, lay low, come back, post, delete her profile, and I feel like I’m on some weird merry-go-round. I can’t imagine how she feels. And lest you think this is me just poking at her for something to blog about, let me be clear, when we were talking, I tried to tell her this. Many many times. You have no content if you’re not writing.

So what is content marketing? Content marketing is sharing content for free, to lead customers into paying for other content. Where does this content come from? See, this is my ex-friend’s problem. If you’re playing the writing and publishing game, I’m assuming you’re creating it. If you’re not, then you have nothing to share. Novels, novellas, short stories, even flash fiction. The best content can be repurposed. Blog a short story for feedback, then sell it. Give away novellas, then box them up and sell them. Take excerpts from your books and make pretty graphics. If you pay for Canva Pro, it now lets you schedule your graphics onto your FB author page and you don’t have to worry about remembering. Blog a first chapter then put the buy link at the bottom and encourage your readers to buy the book to read the rest. Newsletters too, are all about giving your readers something for free and then when you have something to purchase, they will.

What my ex-friend needs to do is stop worrying about social media and start writing.

What else can you post on social media?

*Share books you like. I’m assuming (lots of that going on here) that you write what you love to read. If you think of your FB author page as a community rather than something you have to do, it might help. Share the books you have loved, talk about why you liked them.

*Find a “calendar” of things to post. These are floating around social media–the challenges authors post for 30 days of content. Every day is something new. A selfie and five things no one knows about you. Your favorite writing spot, the pets that keep you company while you write. A favorite quote from a book. This is an example someone posted in an Amazon Ads group I’m in for Instagram. You can grab some of these ideas to help brainstorm. Some of these are more for fellow writers than readers, and you’ll have to be careful you don’t start posting more for your peers than your readers. A lot of us fall into that trap, but the writers I know aren’t the readers who will sustain my lifelong publishing career.

#autumnauthorchallenge daily social media ideas

*And of course, you want to share your works in progress. Talk about your characters, what sparked that idea. Why you’re writing what you’re writing. You can give updates on release dates, ask for reviews, if you have two potential covers for a book, take a vote.

If you’re creating content, actually creating it regularly, you shouldn’t have a problem sharing, even if it’s raw, unedited. Sometimes readers like that content best. They get in on the ground floor of a building and can watch how it’s built, from the basement all the way up to the penthouse.


These are all ideas I need to start doing for myself. Trust me, I only have 128 people liking my FB author page, and for good reason. There’s nothing but tumbleweeds drifting by because I don’t think of my FB author page as a community where readers of romance can come together and chat about books. I feel it’s a time suck, just a place where I have to go to waste time instead of writing. Content marketing doesn’t have to take long, though, and that’s something I need to remember. As long as you are writing regularly, the hard part is already done. Making time to write consistently is difficult for a lot of people because they’ve hit a snag or they’ve lost faith in their abilities. Imposter syndrome can hit hard. I’m not going to say people run out of time, because in 24 hours in a day, if you really want to find time to write, you will. If you have time to watch a television show, you have time to write.

Deleting profiles and putting them back up only to take them down again has a lot of consequences, mainly people will lose faith in your ability to stick it out for the long haul. Every time you delete your profile, you have to start from zero. It’s hard enough doing it the first time. I remember posting my very first blog post and I had zero subscribers. I can’t imagine doing that willingly every couple of months. It also hits your SEO.

woman holding a coffee cup. quote: google only loves you when everyone else loves you first. wendy piersall

Search engines like Google favor websites and content that has been around a long time and that offers current and relevant information to the person using the search bar. Every time you start over, you’re starting you SEO from scratch too, and that’s not a smart thing to do. In a private window, I searched for Chance Carter. A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about the things he’d done to his readers scamming the indie community. If you search for Chance Carter now, my blog post is on the second page of results. He was so popular he still takes up the first page of his own search results, but I find it pretty fascinating that something I wrote about him is still so popular that I get hits on that post every day, and lands me on the second page of Google results. I never would have gotten there if my website didn’t have an online history.

I sincerely hope my ex-friend finds her place. We don’t talk anymore, mainly because like a drowning person struggling in the water, I didn’t want her to take me down with her. These past few months I’ve been trying to make connections with authors who have the same work ethic and visions for their writing careers as I do. Maybe one day she’ll find her path, and I hope she does. It’s hard for me to watch anyone hurting.

She will continue to struggle though, if she’s not creating. Write those books, those novellas and short stories and share them with your readers! Create your content, create your community, and you’ll find content marketing will be a lot easier when you have something, and someone, to share it with.


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!