Getting reviews and my second try with BookSprout

We all know how important book reviews are. Hell, any review has value. When you’re going to spend a lot of money on a TV, car, a large appliance, or if you want to see if a piece of clothing is made correctly and fits the way it should, the first thing you do as a consumer is look at the reviews. As often as I look at reviews to weigh whether or not a purchase is worth it, I rarely, if ever, leave a review on a product, including books. If I read a non-fiction book I have particularly enjoyed or I thought it was helpful for what I bought it for, I may leave a review, but more than likely, I’ll recommend it on Twitter or on this blog first. As an indie author, leaving reviews is a touchy subject, and when it comes to peers, it seems if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say it at all. Because if you leave a so-so or bad review, that’s opening the door for your peers to retaliate. Not everyone can take constructive criticism and there’s no point in self-sabotage when you run into someone like that. (And trust me, you will.)

But as an author and publisher of my own books, I know how important reviews can be and simply telling an author to put together an ARC team is one of those non-answers that drive me crazy. Yes, put together a review team. Duh. But how, exactly, do you do that?

I think a statistic that floats around is for every 100 sales count on one review coming from those sales. It’s less than that, I think, if you’re giving books away. From a Google search and people blogging about their own experiences, the numbers seem to depend on genre, if you already have an audience, etc. The unpredictability of the market doesn’t help. When you think a book will hit just right and it sinks no matter how much marketing you do, or a book you never thought would have one sale shoots to the top of the charts.

I never look at my reviews–I already know my ego and self-esteem are too fragile to read them, and like I said above, there are nasty people out there who love nothing more than to try to take their grievances out on you for expressing an opinion. Unfortunately, you can’t stop the bitter and jealous people from trying to get their licks in, and the best thing you can do there is write a good book and market it to the best of your ability as there is no greater revenge than success despite their attempts to hold you back.

Anyway, I didn’t try to get any reviews beforehand for Captivated by Her or Addicted to Her when I published my duet over the summer. That was my mistake and now their buy-pages look empty months after release. A kind woman and a troll gave star ratings for Captivated and I’m thinking of doing a promotion on that book soon just to find readers and bump up sales hoping that more ratings and/or reviews will cancel out the jerk who wanted to hurt me.

It’s tough to find reviewers who will give you time for free, and I turned to Booksprout for Rescue Me. I paid for the lowest package ($9.00/month) and gave away 23/25 copies. The founder of BookSprout said somewhere (I’m in so many groups, I apologize for the lack of citation) that they weeded out the reviewers who only wanted free books, and that persuaded me to give them a try.

I don’t want to insult any of the reviewers, so if you want to go to Rescue Me’s product page and take a look, the ones from Booksprout are labeled as such by the reviewer at the bottom of the review. Out of the 23 I gave away, 17 reviewed mostly on Amazon, though a couple found it on Goodreads and reviewed there too. (Now there’s a lava pit that’s not worth jumping into.) Can I say the quality is better than when I used them in the past (when they were free)? Not sure. Sometimes we have take our expectations down a notch, and I’m guessing that’s why Amazon started the star-only rating in the first place: to encourage readers to quickly rate the book as they must think that’s better than nothing. Professional book reviewers have a formula they follow when they write a review. Quick synopsis, their likes and dislikes. You can tell from perusing reviews of your favorite books on Goodreads that sometimes the people who write the reviews need just as much time as they did to actually read the book.

Not every review can be as in-depth as one that reads like a book report, and sometimes we take what we can get.

But one of the biggest questions indies ask is, how can we get reviews? These days the only way to get reviews is to put together an ARC team which can take years of nurturing and publishing regularly, sell a lot of books and hope for the best, or paying for them. Paying sounds shady but with everything pay to play these days (ads, beta reading, sensitivity reading, editing, formatting, etc) it’s really not a surprise that the only way to get reviews (especially just when you’re publishing) is to pay for them.

There are reputable review services out there. I’m not talking about the crappy ones that approach you through an unwanted DM on Instagram, or even the review-for-a-review offers from other indies. I’ve been asked to read and review and it’s nice I can honestly say I don’t review books. It’s too dangerous to say how you really feel about a book, and even if you have guidelines where you don’t review less than a three-star book, you have to keep close to your vest who you are reading at the time or there are plenty of hurt feelings down the road. (I take care of a lot of this by not promoting my books on Twitter or volunteering whom I’m reading, if I am.)

Here are some review services that I know about, but the only one I’ve used is BookSprout.

BookSprout
“Booksprout was started because of how time consuming it was for authors to manage their review team. Since then, it’s grown into a fantastic community of authors and readers focused on reviewing great books. Our goal is to create products that speed up or automate the non-writing tasks that every self-published author must do in order to be successful.”

NetGalley
“We help readers of influence discover and recommend new books to their audiences. If you are a librarian, bookseller, educator, reviewer, blogger or in the media, get started right now by signing in or joining for free. Welcome!”

HIddenGems
“The Hidden Gems ARC program sends your novel to our list of reviewers, doing our best to match your type/genre of book with readers that are most likely to enjoy it. We constantly do our best to clean our list, removing readers that typically ask for books but do not leave reviews and as such, we have an industry leading review rate of over 80%. This means that if we send your book out to 100 reviewers, on average you may end up with more than 80 reviews!

IndieReader
“We offer two different types of book reviews: editorial and reader. The editorial reviews come from IndieReader’s team of journalists, librarians and writers. The reviews are objective and truthful and appear in print with your consent. Once approved, reviews of your book are published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieReader’s blog. If your book earns four- to five-star reviews, the review will also be featured on Huffington Post.”

Publisher’s Weekly/BookLife (Editorial Review)
“Both Publishers Weekly and BookLife Reviews treat self-published books as professional publications and hold them to professional standards. Before you submit your book, use BookLife’s free self-evaluations to help you make your book the best it can be. (These are for informational purposes only, and do not determine your review eligibility.) The best way to increase your odds of receiving a Publishers Weekly review, or of being reviewed positively, is to make sure your book is up to professional standards.”

Kirkus Reviews (Editorial Review)
“As an unpublished or self-published author, it can be a relentless struggle to attract a significant amount of attention to your book or manuscript. By purchasing a Kirkus indie review, authors can have the opportunity to build some name recognition and get noticed by agents, publishers and other industry influencers. Kirkus has been an industry-trusted source for honest and accessible reviews since 1933 and has helped countless authors build credibility in the publishing realm ever since. Browse through some of our author success stories, and get a glimpse of what exactly an indie review from Kirkus can do for you.
Our indie reviews are written by qualified professionals, such as librarians, nationally published journalists, creative executives and more. While we do not guarantee positive reviews, unfavorable reviews can be taken as valuable feedback for improvements and ultimately do not have to be published on our site.”

BookSirens (Book Bloggers)
“The book blog sites listed in our directory are vetted for quality: they are active, have clear review policies, and usually have a good following on social media. In fact, the ~1000 book blogs in our catalog have a cumulative following of over 1,000,000 readers. The most popular book review sites in our catalog have between 10,000 and 70,000 followers.
Many of these sites not only review books but also accept guest posts, do cover reveals, and participate in blog tours. While the top book blogs tend be YA book review blogs and romance book review blogs, we also feature less common genres like travel book review blogsbusiness book review blogscomic book blogs, and paranormal book blogs.”

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages (Book Bloggers)
“Published since 2009, The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages helps authors find book reviewers for indie and self-published books, and provides trusted advice for contacting them. It is the only comprehensive resource available in book format.
It is published by PartnerPress, a provider of publishing and imprint management services for authors and businesses. Together with AuthorImprints and BookReviewerYellowPages.com, it is part of Sellbox Inc., founded in 2002 by David Wogahn.
David Wogahn became editor and publisher in 2017. He previously wrote the foreword for the sixth edition, and contributed the guide to producing quality books included in the seventh edition.
We are members of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).”

What I”m hoping for using Booksprout is to cultivate a group of reviewers who like my books and will leave a review every time. Like any other platform, you have to use it consistently, meaning, you have to publish consistently. After a few books, maybe they’ll sign up for my newsletter and become part of my fan base that will also buy books. The only thing about BookSprout’s pay to play action is that I don’t see away to pause my subscription if I don’t have a book release that month. I pay for only one book a month, which is a bummer because under the free version, when I was ready to publish my small-town holiday series, I put them all up at once. I can’t do that now, so I’m not sure what that means for the trilogy I want to publish in January. I’m not going to bump up my plan, and I don’t know what it would do to my account if I canceled between books. I don’t want to delete my profile and have to start all over again–that’s no way to build a team of reviewers.

I’m a bit happier than before, and it seems as though the readers who reviewed Rescue Me actually did read it. I wouldn’t put my books on BookSprout while they are in KU, so that leaves my duet in the cold, but like I said, hopefully a couple of promos will get them to move. I’ve always had decent luck giving my books away, and while read-through drop is to be expected, I don’t think my series experienced any more than normal so I have decent hopes this time around.

I don’t have much else. This is a great thread by Zoe York on Twitter about getting reviews. Have a great week, and Happy Halloween!

Interview: Romance Novel Reviewer Jeeves Reads Romance

I was thrilled when Jeeves, from Jeeves Reads Romance, said I could interview her for this blog! As a romance writer, I’m always interested in why some books work for some people and not others. I like knowing what weighs more heavily with a reader and what, as a writer, I don’t have to stress so much about. I hope any romance author out there can learn a little something about crafting their own novels, and if you’re a romance reader, follow her blog, and bookmark her website and other social media. She completely takes the work out of finding your next read!

Let’s dive it!


Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself. How did you get into reviewing romance novels and how long have you been doing it?
No problem, it’s kind of fun to take the time to step back and reflect once in a while! I started reading romance back when I was young, probably 13 or 14. My mom would have her Nora Roberts novels around the house, or I’d sneak off with one of my older sister’s historical romances to see what she was reading at the time. That love of romance stuck with me, even after I (temporarily) ditched the books when I got a real life boyfriend. For several years, I consumed my romance via rom com movies, sitcoms, and Hallmark movies, until I got a Kindle for my birthday one year – and that love of romance novels came rushing back. I haven’t stopped reading them since! I started reading books by the authors I was familiar with growing up, and then I discovered Kindle Unlimited… and it was like a whole new world opened up. Once I started reading more indie authors, I realized how important reviews are – and one thing lead to another. I’ve had my blog since 2019.

How many books do you read a month? And please count all the audiobooks you listen to, as well!
I was reading about a book a day when I started my blog, but now I get busy with everything else related to blogging, so it’s more like 4 a week. And I’m listening to them about 75% of the time, whether it’s true audiobooks or just having Siri read text aloud to me. I love having the option to switch back and forth between text and audio, which enables me to fit a LOT more reading into my schedule.

What do you need for a book to be “unputdownable?”
That’s a tricky one! There’s no tried and true formula that works, but a book needs to grab me right away, or I make assumptions about how the story will go and I lose interest. I’m a true romance reader, so I really prefer for the characters to spend most of the book on the page together. Building the chemistry is essential, and sexual tension is a definite plus. I read everything from rom coms to mafia to angsty stories (at all steam levels), so I always love it when I’m left guessing about how things will play out. I’m much more forgiving of minor issues if I’m entertained and surprised!

For various (marketing) reasons, romance authors are encouraged to write in series. Do you like reading series or can you dig into a standalone just as well?
Standalone or series, I’ll read either. If an author has a unique idea that doesn’t work in a series, then I’m happy to dig in. There’s something to be said for interconnected standalones though – I love getting to know side characters and trying to predict which tropes will be used in their stories. It just makes the anticipation of the next love story that much stronger. I vastly prefer when a couple’s love story is contained to one book though. I’ll read duets from authors on my one-click list, but I’m done with trilogies. There always seems to be either too much time in between book releases or the middle book is dramatic filler, so if I see that a book is in a trilogy, I (almost) always pass. Don’t give me an unexpected cliffhanger though, that’s a surefire way to anger readers, lol.

Do you have a preference over 3rd person POV over 1st?
I greatly prefer 1st person, with dual perspectives unless there’s a good reason why the second shouldn’t be included. It makes me feel like I’m a part of the story, not like I’m an outsider looking in. That makes the experience more immersive. I read 3rd person occasionally, but it’s definitely not something I seek out and it has been the reason why some books haven’t resonated with me in the past.

Does the cover matter when you’re choosing what book to read?
100%. Covers typically indicate what kind of story you’re in for – something light and fun, something dark and twisty, something sporty. I read different types of romances when I’m in different moods or settings, so even if it’s a one-click author for me, I want to make sure the vibe will match. If I’m trying out a new-to-me author, then I will also be turned off by a cover that doesn’t look professional. A poorly designed cover usually means the author hasn’t taken the time to get the book properly edited, which is never an encouraging sign. Also, if I’m scrolling on social media or Amazon, then the cover is what will lead me to check out the blurb of a book I’m unfamiliar with. Covers are important.

What are some of your favorite tropes?
Tropes are more popular than ever right now! My trope-focused recommendation lists (https://jeevesreads.com/best-of-lists/themed-recommendations/) are by far the most popular pages on my blog. For example, my list of Brother’s Best Friend Romances (https://jeevesreads.com/2020/10/10/15-brothers-best-friend-romances/#more-5826) has been viewed over 40,000 times in the last two years – and that’s not even the most popular one. Readers love tropes because they usually give an indication of the type of obstacles a couple will need to overcome. I struggle with secret baby and second chance romances, but I always seem to be in the mood for a fake relationship romance or enemies to lovers friction. I’ve also been loving marriage of convenience and mafia romances lately, which can play out in a variety of ways. Grumpy/sunshine is also one of my personal favorites.

Earlier you did a blog post on books you did not finish (DNF). We’ll link to that, but can you explain a little about why you would not finish a book? What is a pet peeve or mistake an author can make that will cause you to DNF?
Yeah, talking about why books didn’t work for me can be as helpful to other readers as talking about why they DID work. Occasionally, I post a DNF Report (https://jeevesreads.com/2022/05/16/tossed-off-the-tbr-the-dnf-report-2/) that goes over why I set certain books aside. I’m a mood reader who knows what will irritate me while reading, so it’s usually pretty obvious if the experience isn’t going to go well, lol. Other readers may have different preferences, so what irritates me might be a win for them. I’m not a fan of excessive miscommunication or other woman drama, which is the fastest way to make me DNF a book. Sometimes a character’s personality isn’t a good fit for me either, it can be as simple as that. Or maybe the blurb led me astray, and the tone is not at all what I was expecting. Not all DNFs reflect poorly on the book.

You always have such awesome, up-to-date lists! How do you find the books you read? If a romance author was interested in you reviewing their book, do you accept requests? And if so, how do they contact you?
Thank you! As a reader, one of the most frustrating things for me has always been trying to figure out what to read next, or keeping track of the never-ending new releases. It can be an overwhelming experience, especially when there are so many books I’d love to check out. That’s really been the focus of my blog (http://www.JeevesReads.com) – helping other readers take the frustration out of managing their TBR and making it a more relaxing experience. In putting together my release calendar and new releases lists, I discover a lot of books I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I also follow many authors on social media, or take recommendations from fellow bloggers. Every time I see something interesting, I put it on my TBR and keep it in mind for later. Of course, my TBR is never-ending like everyone else, lol. That’s why I don’t take requests, I’ve always got something on my TBR to satisfy whatever vibe I’m looking for that day.

I’m always happy to interact on social media! I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram.


Jeeves, thank you so much for giving us your time! I really appreciate your opinions. If you want to follow Jeeves for book recs, here are all her links. Also, keep reading to enter the giveaway!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeevesreads/

Website: http://www.JeevesReads.com

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@jeevesreads

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeevesReads

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/crzyjeeves

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jeeves-Reads-Romance-107218497418106/?view_public_for=107218497418106


Because Jeeves is a romance novel reviewer, it’s only fitting I have a romantic giveaway! This giveaway includes a $25 dollar Amazon gift card (fill up your Kindles!) two champagne glasses I purchased in a gallery/gift shop in Fargo, ND, and a trinket dish that says, Happily Ever After, for a combined total of $90 dollars. I hope you enter, and good luck to those who do!

Raflecopter collects email addresses but I only use them to inform the winner they have won the giveaway.(US and Canadian residents only.) Click here to enter!

Monday Musings and Happy March!

I don’t know about you, but to me, these past two months flew by! March can be the crappiest time of year in Minnesota, but if we can get through the month without a blizzard, that would be wonderful. Spring lands on March 20th, and we have daylight savings this month, too, on the 14th, when we go back to lighter mornings and darker evenings, for a while.

My goals for March are mostly the same as every other month. Work hard on my books, try not to stress too much about things I can’t control, wait for it to warm up. I don’t have much going on in my life where I measure time by an upcoming event. Life slips away while I work, write, spend time with my family and friends. I wonder if I feel some discontent because my characters talked about this not long ago. “Do you ever think, this is all there is?” she asks. And sometimes that’s me. Is this it? Would I be happy if it were? What am I working toward? They say happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey, but you still have to know where you’re going. All those who wander are not lost, but you still decided to put your foot on that path and take the first step, right?

I guess I’m just a little reflective because of the past couple months. I’ve had a hard time transitioning from work to working from home, my cat, even though he’s on medication, still won’t let us sleep, and I’ve been dealing with a sensitive health issue. There is good news on that front, and I’m on an antibiotic now. I hope I can start feeling better. I’ve been dealing with this for eight weeks. Please don’t ever let a doctor tell you you’re okay if you feel like you’re not. The third doctor I saw finally found the problem (hopefully) and I would be dealing with something potentially dangerous if I had given up. Plus, I have a mammogram scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday), so I am taking my health seriously from here on out. While I won’t turn this blog into a health and diet diary, I am on a mission to lose a little weight, and I hope now with warming temps on the horizon that will be easier.

On that note, what else have I been thinking about lately?

We can’t please everyone. No one knows that better than an author. A while back, I signed up for Derek Murphy’s newsletter and in one post he talks a little bit about his new book Book Craft. It turns out the book that I like very much a lot of people don’t. It’s difficult when you put your heart and soul into something only to be told it’s not good enough. We do that all the time when we publish and always, without fail, there will be someone who has to say that they don’t like it. Sometimes they’ll pick it apart bit by bit–the review is longer than the book itself! That’s why authors are told not to respond to reviews. It’s not worth it. If you want to read the blog post where he talks about his book, look here. While he had a pragmatic approach to looking at the bad reviews, it still makes me feel bad he’s going through this.

So, yeah, we can’t please everyone, and we’ll only hurt ourselves trying. All of you know about the kerfuffle with a certain author I had over the weekend. I don’t go for click bait, nor do I want to stir the pot like Jerry Springer or Perez Hilton. I don’t need the drama for the views, prefering to give my readers useful information. This isn’t a gossip blog. I want to share my experiences with writing, publishing, and marketing, my opinions on what’s going in with the industry. I’m not going to change what I like to write about because I make one or two people unhappy.

That being said, I’ve come to realize that there is a dark side to indie publishing, and it’s not just the bookstuffers trying to make an extra buck in KU, or the authors using ghostwriters who plagiarize. When I decided to publish my books, I had no idea this other side existed, and now that I know it does, I’m going to stay as far away from it as possible. It shouldn’t have surprised me there’s a dark side because there’s a dark side to anything. I’ve heard about the dark web, and the dark side of Twitter where only the accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers are allowed to go. When authors start making millions of dollars a year publishing books, they are elevated to a stratosphere many of us can only dream of, and with software like Publisher Rocket, that information is available to us with just a few clicks of a mouse. (And I’m beginning to think that’s information we shouldn’t have.) Where authors have the power to tear down another author out of fear, jealousy, or spite. Where an author can destroy another author’s career simply by siccing their fans onto that author’s Goodreads profile and trashing her books.

I entered this industry thinking everyone is kind to everyone else, but I guess when you’re making millions and your livelihood is at stake, you’ll do anything to protect it. We hear all the time that people will say if they find some kind of success that they won’t let it change them, but of course we change. We may just change for the better, when some people change for the worse.

Like a lot of my blog posts, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. I beta read, I edit, I format for others when they can’t afford to do it for themselves. I give back and I don’t keep score. I would like to think success won’t change me–if I find it. Entitlement is nasty, and this pandemic brought out the bad side in more than a few people. I’m blessed with what I have and I’m saying I’m sorry to everyone who reads this blog that something I wrote was taken the wrong way and my post was dragged unnecessarily through the mud. It’s not what I want for my blog, or the readers who loyally come back every week to see what I have to say.

We can’t please everyone, we can only control our response and move on the best we can. I have a lot of things to look forward to, and I hope you do too!

Happy Spring, everyone! Until next time!


She flicks a glance at me. “Do you ever wonder if this is all there is?”

“What do you mean?” I shift in my seat, suddenly uncomfortable. 

“Like, this is it. Work. Dates with people who don’t mean anything to you. Won’t mean anything more. Can’t, really, because they’ll never understand you. More work. A party here and there. It all feels so, I don’t want to say useless, but I want my life to go somewhere. You know?”

“You mean you don’t want your life to be one big party?” I can’t keep the bitterness out of my voice, and she catches it, loud and clear.

She turns in her seat and meets my eyes, her irises blazing in the firelight. “You think all of us have let you down.”

Christ. Talk about not beating around the bush.

“Yeah, yeah, I do.”

“I can see why you would think that, but don’t you also think that we’re allowed to go our own way?”

“Why? I wasn’t.” 


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!


Launching your book. Is there anything you can do to have a great launch?

your book launch

I have to get this disclaimer out there: I suck at launches. I hit PUBLISH and kind of move on. In fact, this goes in line with what Andrea Pearson says on the new 6 Figure Authors Podcast with Lindsay Buroker and Joseph R. Lallo. She recommends not bothering to market until you have at least ten books out.

As I found out being $70 bucks in the hole doing Amazon ads for The Years Between Us (I still haven’t updated that blurb, dammit!) sometimes spending money on marketing and advertising is just a waste of money that you may not ever get back.

But sometimes you wanna throw a little money at a new book, and maybe if you can hit the right notes it can take off and Amazon might show your book some love. That chance is getting smaller and smaller because of the competition, but it never hurts to try. You might get lucky.

Launching can take some planning, so I’ve been mulling over ideas. Because only half the books are edited, I don’t have blurbs or titles yet, and I only have basic concepts for the covers, my launch is going to go into next year. I’m a little embarrassed since I’m 18k into book 2 of my SUPER SECRET PROJECT trilogy, and I’ve been spending more time writing that than I have working on my series. That’s what you get when you chase after the shiny objects. 

When we talk about launches, probably the top two things seasoned authors will tell you is to announce it to your email list and reach out for newsletters swaps.

I can’t do this because 1. I don’t have a email list, and 2. because I don’t have a newsletter (email list) I can’t ask around. I mean, I could ask, but I would have to be clear that I cannot reciprocate. So I’m reluctant to ask because swapping implies doing it in return at some point, and I can’t. To me it would feel like asking for favors, and I don’t like owing people.

If you don’t have a street team, email list, or friends to help you out, what can you do? The only options are then to fling some money at your book.

But first, before you shove money at it, try to get some reviews.

This is my tentative plan when I have my series ready to go:

  1. Put my book on BookSprout before I put the ebook in KU. You can publish your paperback ahead of your Kindle book. Reviewers can’t put up a review on a preorder so the way authors are getting around this is publishing the paperback before the Kindle book. That way, when you do publish your Kindle book, it will have reviews. (You may have to contact Amazon to have them linked up to make the reviews show up for both versions.)
    In a previous blogpost, I questioned the quality of the reviews from BookSprout, but you have to weigh what you need versus what you want. If you can grab four or five reviews from them at least you have something to get your book off the ground. Some readers won’t read anything that doesn’t have a review. And if you have only one book out and no one knows your name, your chances of a reader picking up your book without reviews is even lower. BookSprout will offer your book to 20 ARC readers for free. If 25% of them leave a review, you can publish your Kindle book with a few stars, at least.your book launch (2)
  2. Buy some promos. I want to have my whole series published when I do this. That way the promo for book one is actually going to be for all the books in the series, and I’m hoping for some serious read-through.
    The two places I’m going to try are: Red Feather Romance. This is a promo site run by Written Word Media who also offers Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy. I’ve tried both of those before, and I’ve had better luck with Freebooksy. But I tried Bargainbooksy on a standalone, and I’ve come to realize marketing a standalone is not cost-effective. Ereader News Today. I haven’t tried this service, but other authors swear by it. I like trying something new every time I release a book, if anything, just so I can blog about it.When you look at promo sites, make sure before you apply that they don’t have a minimum review policy. Some don’t, some do, so it’s best to be sure you don’t need 10+ reviews before you apply for a promo. It saves time.

    Also keep in mind your publication date. Popular promo sites book out a couple weeks in advance. If you’re launching  your Kindle version on January 10th, you may need to rethink it if you can’t get a promo date until February.

    This brings up the subject of release pricing. I think I’ll release the first book in the series at .99 and release the other books at 2.99.  I’ve tried 3.99 and that seems to be too high. When you’re releasing into KU, price doesn’t seem to matter as much because you’re going more for the page reads than you are sales. If you’re wide, price matters a little more, and then you have to research in your genre what other books are going for.

  3. Ads. I may still do some Amazon ads a few weeks after the release of book 4. That might keep my sales and page reads up after the 30 day drop off when I run out of books to release. I’ll have my SUPER SECRET PROJECT close to being done, probably, but that will be under a different name so I won’t have the power of this release behind it. What little power there might be.

your book launch (1)

I’m being realistic with this launch. My kind of books are not what’s selling right now. You might wonder how that’s possible, because romance is romance. But if you take a look at the top ten, only three of them are written in third person past, and one of them is from Nora Roberts. I don’t count her.

  1. Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward: 1st person past
  2. The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown: 3rd person past
  3. Crazy for Loving You: A Bluewater Billionaires Romantic Comedy by Pippa Grant: 1st person present
  4. Havoc at Prescott High (The Havoc Boys Book 1) by C.M. Stunich: 1st person present
  5. A Nora Roberts reprint from 2009: 3rd person past
  6. No Broken Beast by Nicole Snow: 1st person present
  7. Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor: 3rd person past
  8. My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish: 1st person present
  9. Insatiable: A Cloverleigh Farms Standalone by Melanie Harlow: 1st person past
  10. Stealing the Bride by Nadia Lee: 1st person present

You can dig deeper down the list and keep counting, but that small sample is enough for me. I’ve blogged about this before, too, how I think that 3rd person past is going out of style, and after my wedding quartet, I’ll have to decide if it’s even worth writing anymore. I mean, there’s no telling when 3rd person past might come back around. Everything circles around if you give it time. But you also have to resist banging your head into a brick wall trying to sell books readers don’t want.


Anyway, I’ve talked enough about my launch plans. It seems the best plans will incorporate a little teamwork by way of newsletter swaps, but it puts you in a hard place if you don’t have one of your own.

If you find this is the case, you can be stubborn like me and keep doing what you’re doing, or you can start a newsletter, and realize that it’s going to take you a couple years to build a list of readers where you can tell them about your releases and other books you enjoy. Also, there’s no time like the present to reach out and make some friends in your genre. If they’re your friends and want to help, maybe they won’t ask you for anything in return. Some people out there are still nice. Just be careful not to take advantage.

Got any other launch ideas? Let me know!


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Booksprout Review Service

 

book sprout logo

We all need reviews, and finding a platform that can deliver for a low cost or free is like a goldmine to an author. Reviews are social proof our books are good. They show potential readers that others have enjoyed it. They help us create ads either by being able to pull out the review itself for a graphic, or using keywords in all the reviews for our ad keywords.

For an example, here’s the graphic I made in Canva for Bookbub:

bookbub don't run away ad fourth try

There’s a lot of controversy around reviews. Some indie writers/readers insist on leaving poor reviews when reading books to “warn” other readers what a piece of crap it is.

I’d written blog posts about that before, and it’s one reason why I don’t promo my books on Twitter. Writer Twitter is full of people who think they write better than you and they are not shy letting you know about it.

There is even a review of Don’t Run Away by someone I gave a free copy to with a Starbucks gift card. I was getting rid of author copies that had a significant typo in it. Two years later her review pops up on Goodreads. Three stars, and her review starts “This normally isn’t my genre…”

I know they say that a mix of reviews is actually better for your book, but those kinds of reviews I can do without.

You’re probably in the same situation I am. You need reviews beyond family and friends, and the odd Twitter person who wants more than anything to say something bad about your book.

Real, helpful reviews are hard to come by. A reader’s first thought usually isn’t to leave a review of a book unless they were blown away. All they care about is what they’re going to read next.

I’m a member of quite a few groups on Facebook, and one group was talking about Booksprout. I always thought Booksprout was a tool to deliver books and arcs to readers from a list you provided, but Booksprout actually provides their own reader list. You can give away up to twenty arcs with the free option, fifty with one tier option, or unlimited with the second tier option.

booksprout pricing plans

Anyway, 20 out of 20 arcs were claimed for Don’t Run Away in 13 of 20 arcs were claimed for The Years Between Us.

You can choose how long to give your readers to read the book before a review is due, and I gave my readers a couple of months, just to be realistic. Then the reviews near that date started rolling in. Around this time, I was having huge doubts about being wide, and I gave my readers a few extra days to leave a review before deleting the arcs. I put my books back into KU because the quality of the reviews wasn’t worth waiting for. Meaning, I didn’t get all twenty for Don’t Run Away, and I didn’t get all thirteen for The Years Between Us.

The reviewers who did review my books gave them favorable stars, and maybe that’s all that matters to you. But the actual review was just a quick summary of the book. And I don’t mean one or two reviewers did that—most of them did it. At the end of each review was the sentence, “I was given a free copy of this book through books proud in exchange for an honest review.”

Here’s a sample:

booksprout review one

I mean, that’s not a bad thing. Honest transparency. But too many of those on all your books make you look like you’re buying reviews—which is exactly what you’re doing, free service or not.

I didn’t keep an eye on my reviews, and this one popped at me while taking screenshots:

booksprout review two

There are people on there who read the books, it seems, not just skim them. And I thank this reviewer from the bottom of my heart to see she got what I was trying to do with The Years Between Us. 

But overall, the quality of the reviews may not matter to you. If your book has zero you’re trying to gain some traction, you might think a review is a review, even a cardboard-sounding one. And that would be your choice.

I’m not against using Booksprout in the future. Put your arc out there ahead of time, have reviewers leave the review on the day the paperback comes out, wait a week for the reviews to populate, delete your arcs from Booksprout, and then announce your Kindle version is live. You’ll already have reviews for your book. (Thank you to Jami Albright for this release tip. One I’m going to try for the first book in my new series coming this winter.)

I don’t know if you really need to pull your arcs, but I prefer not to give Amazon a reason to give me the stinkeye.

If you have a book that doesn’t have many, if any reviews, give Booksprout a try. You never know if it will work for you.


What are some other ways to get reviews?

  1. Write a good book first. Most readers prefer to review good books. Give them thought-provoking material, or give them a good laugh, or information that will change their lives. The product always comes first.
  2. Ask. Authors are terrible at asking. Put a request in your back matter. If you enjoyed this book, please leave a review. That’s it. Don’t squish it in there with other calls to action. If you want reviews, ask, and leave it at that.
  3. If you have the cash, use a service like NetGalley. Make sure the services reputable otherwise you’re wasting money. You can take a look at my review of the Happy Book Reviews service here.
  4. Create an arc team. This can take some time, but it might be worth it in the long run. Start a Facebook group of readers in your genre and ask them to review your book when it comes out. Building a team can take a long time and lot of work.
  5. Start a newsletter. Build a newsletter following. Your fans will be the first in line to buy and review your book.

Not all reviews are created equal. I have more reviews on Goodreads than I do on Amazon. Maybe readers are more comfortable leaving reviews there, or maybe that’s their preferred platform because they feel they can be more honest. (Or just leaving a star review, something Amazon won’t let reviewers do.) Whatever the reason, a review is a review, so we should celebrate when our readers take the time to tell us what they think.

Let me know your experience with Booksprout, or if you think you’ll give it a try!


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My Midlife Crisis. I Mean, my Mid-Year Check In.

 

It seems completely crazy to me that half the year has gone by. After a crappy winter, my first as a divorced lady, plus a surgery (old news) and dealing with a POS car on top of all that, my spring smoothed out, THANK GOD.

surgery photo

How I started 2019. This smile was before I started puking from anesthesia.

Blaze got better and is fitting into our new family dynamics. I post a lot of pictures of her and my other cats over on Instagram. If you want to follow me there, click here for my profile link.

My car, after $600.00 in repairs, is running all right, but the countdown is on to buy something better.

I published The Years Between Us in May, but that too, is old news. Though, really, it doesn’t feel like old news. It still feels like a brand new book. Not many people have read it, and it has 0 reviews on Amazon. I have it on BookSprout, and if you want to nab a copy for review through that service, click here.

I had a nice vacation last month to Georgia with my sister, and I met up with David Willis, a fellow writer I met on Twitter a couple years ago. I can’t even tell you how much I adore the ocean.

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Spring is about new beginnings. Summer about shaking off the winter, sleeping in, and picking up more hours at work. Things are going as well as anyone can say their life is going.

Planning my next six months won’t be much of an undertaking. Like Adam Croft said in a New Year’s interview with Joanna Penn, he doesn’t treat the new year any differently. He does what he needs to do to get the things he needs done to write and publish books. And I feel that way about the rest of 2019.

When you are running your own business, being a self-starter and a self-motivator is a must. No one can force you to do the work. All you can do is look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want to sell your books or not. If the answer is yes, well, you can’t sell what you don’t have.

I’ll be finishing my Wedding Party series in the next few months. I’m 18,000 words into book three. As I write, I’ve been exploring covers. Formatting will be a snap with Vellum, but to put links in the back of the books, I’ll have to publish all of them at once so the links will be available, then I’ll need to add the links to the back matter and swap out those files. It’s nothing less than what other successful indies do, but it still sounds like a pain in the ass.

Anyway, anyone keeping track of my progress knows I’m getting a little fed up with this lack-of-sales thing I’ve got going on. It’s not my way to whine–in fact I tend to avoid those who do on a consistent basis. I can’t handle how energy-sucking it can be. I need all the energy I have for myself.

In the next 12 months, you’ll be seeing a lot more progress reports from me. I’ll do this because:

  1. not all of us are making money at this writing thing, and it’s okay to talk about it.
  2. if I find something that works for me, I want to share it because it might work for you, too.
  3. I’m at a point where my backlist should be making me a little money. Focusing on writing and not marketing has been at fault, but this is why I’m experimenting now. I thought All of Nothing would be a game-changer for me, and it has been in some ways. It’s the most-read book I have. But that was luck or better timing as when I used a free day and ran a Freebooksy, All of Nothing was in KU.

Why in this business does it feel like all roads lead to Amazon_ HMMMM.

My personal life probably has a lot to do with how I look at sales. But I’m not different than any other writer using their royalties to buy a better place to live, buy a newer vehicle, or pay down credit card debt.

Anyway, I’m doing what I can and what I can afford to do.

In September, I will be a part of an author panel and luncheon at the Fargo Public Library. I’ll be able to sell my books there too. A lovely woman who connected with me via LinkedIn emailed me the opportunity, and I said yes. While it may not yield any results, it made me remember that local networking can be just as important as networking online.

Something like this makes me excited I’m wide–if, after the luncheon, the library wants to carry my ebooks in their lending catalog, my books are available in the library program through Draft2Digital.

I’ll continue to blog in lieu of a newsletter. I prefer to blog, and every time I publish a new post, I gain new followers, so thank you for reading!

This post needn’t be too long. I’m struggling to write my books and stay afloat like many others out there. Some may have it better than me, some may have it worse. But as I have said many times in the past, we can only work with what we’ve got. Keep your chin up and a smile on your face.

Why in this business does it feel like all roads lead to Amazon_ HMMMM. (1)


Care to share how your 2019 is going? Drop me a comment.

Share a little triumph that will carry you for the rest of the year. ❤


My books are wide! Find them at your favorite ebook retailer.

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

Try the Tower City Romance Trilogy Today!

all graphics made with Canva.com

The Years Between Us is Available!

It’s May 1st, and The Years Between Us dropped out of pre-order and it’s available! I just approved the paperback so that should pop up on Amazon shortly.

The book has been in pre-order for so long that I forgot it was out there. Since I finished it up and listed it, I’ve written the first book in my Wedding Party series and close to finishing the second book with about 15,000 more words to go.

I’ll chat with you about a couple things, and then I am off for the Sell More Books Show Summit in Chicago for the weekend, hopefully to learn how to market my books and put them in the hands of eager readers. I’ll recap that when I get back.

For now, I’ll let you know I only did pre-order to give myself some time to write. I released All of Nothing in October, and everyone says that six months between books is way too long. I agree. For most indie romance writers, three months is probably the maximum they leave between books, some even publishing 50,000 words every month. I still think I write pretty fast considering I have two children, three cats, and I work a day job to pay bills. I also see my sister once a week, I try to walk and catch up on podcasts, and I write this blog. So it’s not like when I’m not writing I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs. But even if I could sweep all that aside, I don’t think I could produce more than three books a year, and that’s okay. I don’t want to write less than 70,000 word books (now that my novella streak is over) and sometimes that means plotting a little more and taking time with character development.

At any rate, the pre-order I did wasn’t to gain sales during the pre-order period, and that’s a good thing since I only had ONE pre-order on Amazon. I actually clicked the wrong button on Draft2Digital, so I didn’t know until a couple days ago my book was already available through them since April 17th. I would have been upset had I been trying to do a proper launch, but in my way of doing quiet, (AKA not telling anyone) launches, no one probably knew about my mistake.

As my 13 year old daughter likes to say, Whatevs.


May Goals

I have a few May goals.

  1. One is that I need to redo my trilogy covers.
    They are okay as far as being homemade, but I’ve gotten better at my skills, and well, trends have changed since the two and a half years since I published them.  Last night I took a look at the top 100 in contemporary romance on Amazon to get a feel of what’s out there. I’ve been looking at www.depositphotos.com to find new couples. For the amount of open door sex scenes in my books, my couples have too many clothes on. I’ve come to realize this through reader feedback and the fact that Freebooksy, when I did a promo for Don’t Run Away, wanted to put it in the sweet romance category. So I’ll be looking for couples who have a playful, sexy, fun vibe about them. As always, this took some doing because I needed to find couples that looked like they belonged together since’s it’s a trilogy. I’ve also been studying font and the color of the titles. A hot pink/fuchsia is in, along with a hot aquamarine in a handwritten font. I think I got it, but now I have to go through the trouble of creating them, and swapping them out with all the other vendors. Including Ingram Spark if I decide to keep my books listed there. Is it time for a drink yet?
  2. Finish book two of my Wedding Party Series.
    I have book two almost done, and I probably could have finished it if I wasn’t going out of town this weekend. I also realized that book two is stronger than book one, and since the stories parallel the same timeline, I can move book two to into book one position without too much rewriting. Jared and Leah are going to need a bit of rewriting anyway. I wrote on half before my surgery, the second half after, and I feel the ending isn’t as strong as it could be. I’m being very careful how all these are written and published because I want good read-through. To read more of my thoughts about writing a series click here. 
  3. Start book three. 
    I should  be able to start book three. I have the characters and their backstories mapped out. I have an inkling of some things that will happen, but I still need to sit down plot out the BIG BAD and of course, make sure I add some wedding stuff in there. Like, I don’t know, Marnie and James’s actual wedding. They aren’t going to be a premiere couple, but they are the reason this series is in creation, so I better get them married off.
  4. Start and finish an editing project.
    I’m helping a friend of mine edit the sequel to one of her books. I’ve already done one sweep, and she sent it to me again. It shouldn’t take me long to get through it, so I can’t even count this as a goal, just something that I’ll be working on the first week in May. I’m excited for her, and I love helping her. I’m proud of the work she’s done on her books because like you and me, we have a lot going on but she doesn’t let that stop her.

May looks to be shaping up into a busy month, but now that the weather has finally cleared up, my cat isn’t sick anymore, I’m healing from surgery just fine, and whatever else little things I was going through seems to have tapered off for now (knock on wood for me) I should be able to to cruise through writing this series and being able to publish them toward the end of fall/beginning winter of this year, into the rest of winter of 2020. All the while, of course, writing another book, which will be a new standalone that I’m already quietly plotting out.

A writer's work is never done. There is always a new story to tell.


It’s also not lost on me that I’ll be needing to look at promos here soon, and what exactly I can do to bump up sales. The new covers to my trilogy will be a start. To be honest, I’ll probably need to redo the cover to All of Nothing, too. I’ve gotten some reader feedback that Jax is so much of an ass that readers didn’t care for him all that much. Rewriting the blurb and redoing the cover to better prepare readers for his unlikable personality may head off more negative reviews. While I try not read reviews, when opinions make it to me, I try to listen. All of Nothing is very love it or hate it, and if I can prepare my readers by changing the cover to more of a bad-boy type, and rewriting the blurb to focus on how damaged he is, that would be a win for me.

By the beginning of 2020 I’ll have ten contemporary romance books out in my genre. They will be good, solid books, and there’s no reason why I can’t start making some money. I’ve been waiting to build a backlist, which I am doing, quite well, if I do say so myself. Now I just have to put my books to use because there’s no point in writing them if no one is going to be reading them. AmIright? 


If you want to take a look at The Years Between Us, it is live on all platforms. Zia Bishop is in love with an older man, and you’ll have to read to see how that turns out! Click the photo to be directed to your favorite retailer! If you’re waiting for the paperback, that should be available soon. There’s no reason why KDP Print should find anything wrong with it.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely weekend!

The Years Between Us Paperback Cover

Where I’m at with my Wedding Party Series

jaredandleah

My first try at creating an aesthetic. All pictures taken from Pexels/Pixabay/Unsplash


 

I said since there is going to be such a long time between releases, I would try to update my fabulous readers better on my writing process while I write my Wedding Party Series. It used to be called my Bridesmaid Quartet, but as I was planning out my characters, I realized I was writing about only three bridesmaids and a groomsman. The Wedding Party series is a little more accurate, and more than likely that’s what I’ll call it when I publish it.

So where am I at?

Okay, well, first of all, I had carpal and cubital tunnel surgery on January tenth. I was able to write 35,000 words (about half of my book) before that, and I was pleased the book sounded as well as it did as a first draft. Had I not had to take time to recuperate, I more than likely could have had the first book done by now.

But I did something I don’t like doing.

I left a previous book undone. The Years Between Us was technically done when I opened the file for Jared and Leah (I always name the file by my characters’ names because it takes a while for me to think up a title), but it wasn’t edited. That’s what I had planned to do while I was in recovery.

Recovery took a little longer than I had expected, and I slept a lot. I watched a lot of Netflix. Luckily, I had thought ahead and planned out a few blog posts, so my website didn’t go neglected. I tried to tweet when I could. But mostly I gave myself a pass and took two weeks of a needed break from a very hectic publishing schedule so far.

The Years Between Us

The unofficial cover for The Years Between Us. Made with Canva.com and photo from canstockphoto.com

I have been able to give The Years Between Us two on screen editing sweeps. I usually print it out and edit it on paper, but I’m thinking this time I’ll skip that step and go straight to the listening part of it. Thinking about this after writing this section of my post, I realized I can’t skip this step. When I edit on paper, that is when I break up my book into chapters. I don’t write my book with chapters in mind, only breaking up my POV changes with scene breaks, and when I print out my book, it’s easier to “chunk it up” while in paper form.  

I’ll be working on two books simultaneously, and I don’t particularly care for it, but I like writing Jared and Leah and there’s no rush to put out The Years Between Us. When I DO get it done, it will be going on a long preorder, just so I don’t have so long between books, though by romance indie publishing standards, since I published All of Nothing in October, I should have another book out now.

Anyway, I did realize not long ago while I was reading my friend Aila’s blog, I’ll need to change a few things, and the sooner the better. Most of the time I don’t care what I name my characters as long as I haven’t used the name before, and it matches what I think the character looks like. Towns are the same. Sometimes I look up names, sometimes I steal them from work. (I work in a call center and see names of cities and towns all day long.) Sometimes I use a name generator. I didn’t think anything of using Blue Ridge, Minnesota for my small town’s name. Until I was reading a blog post of Aila’s. Color me surprised when I saw this:

Harlot of Blue Ridge

Beautiful! (And used with permission. Thanks, Aila!)

All I can think is that the name of her book kind of got stuck in my mind. I mentioned it to her, and she was very gracious, saying I didn’t need to change it. But she thought of it first, she’s further into her WIP than I am, and seriously, there are so many other names to choose from, I don’t need to steal borrow anyone else’s. I can’t tell you how excited I am to read her book though, and if you want to follow along with her writing journey, you should follow her blog and give her a follow on Twitter. I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with what she gives to the indie writing community.

I am not going to lie: it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. I’m not 100% healed, meaning, I’m not 100% pain free. My doctor said it could take my body up to 12 months to repair itself. On the bright side, I don’t feel any worse than when I did before my surgery, and if I could type through the pain then, I can type through it now.

I went back to work last week, so I’m hoping that returning to a schedule will help me make better use of my time.

In my next blog post, I’ll break down what I’m doing with Jared and Leah, and maybe share an excerpt or two of what’s been going on!

Until next time!

jared and leah for end of blog posts

 

EL James has written another book! (And why does anyone care?)

e.l.-james-the-mister-livre

Photo taken from iD Boox. Click here for the article.

There was some big news in the book world last week: EL James has written another book!

50 shades

I heard about it in a few Facebook writing groups I’m in, and Publisher’s Weekly had to mention it in one of the newsletters I subscribe to.

The thing is, I don’t understand why anyone cares, and so passionately, it seems.

Well, I understand. Her 50 Shades of Grey took the romance community by storm and sold a record number of books. The trilogy was turned into movies, which, in turn, made E L James a household name and millionaire. It’s what any indie writer, or any writer, for that matter, dreams of.

el james books

She was a so-called “overnight success” (though her fanfiction of Twilight had been online for free for years prior) and the inventor of what is now called “Mommy porn.”

But why is it such big news that she’s writing again?

Even if you didn’t like 50 Shades of Grey, you have admire a woman who could write a few books that captivated so many people. Regardless of how well, or not well, they were written, James told a great story. If you want to read about what made her trilogy so intriguing, read The Bestseller Code. The authors of that book break down what James did (either purposely or by mistake) that made her books so un-put-down-able.

I didn’t read her books. I bought the trilogy a long time ago from a thrift store, and I flipped through the other two in a Target while my kids looked at toys. But I didn’t buy them.

I did, however LOVE the movies. I own them and rewatch them all the time. And yep, I paid to see them in the theatre. If the movies followed the storylines of the books at all, I can see where people would be intrigued.

But in terms of the indie community, I don’t understand the derision aimed at poor Mrs. James. I mean, if you’re going to roast her over an open flame for the bad writing, what are YOU doing to improve yours?

christian grey had his tools. do you have yours_

I’m glad that EL James has written another book. I’m glad she had the courage after being treated how she was by the writing community (proving once again that writers are not readers. READERS purchased her book, and it was the READERS who lined her bank account.) I’m glad she wasn’t intimidated by her own success.

I think this is an opportunity for writers to support other writers. What can we do to support other writers?

  1. Stop tearing each other down.
    EL James wasn’t fully responsible for her book being what it was. She was a first time author, and her publishing house could have supported the editing process more than it did. Instead they pushed out her book to make use of her popularity online. It paid off, but I’m not denying her book could have been edited better.
  2. Leave positive feedback. 
    Even the most horribly of written books can have positive things you can say about them. And if you feel you can’t be nice about anything, just don’t say anything at all. Sometimes silence really does speak louder than words.
  3. Don’t read outside the genre of your preference.
    The thing that made the most angry were the people who were dissing 50 Shades of Grey weren’t James’s target audience. 50 Shades was a New Adult, possibly Young Adult novel, and if you couldn’t appreciate the book for what it was–Anastasia Steele trying to find her place in the world while falling in love–then the book wasn’t for you to begin with.
  4. Learn from James’s mistakes.
    Instead of laughing at the kind of book 50 Shades is, take a look at what you didn’t like about it, and learn how to avoid those things in your own writing. Did she not pull off 1st person? Too many adverbs? Was her book too wordy? Were there plot holes? (The movies indicate there were.)
  5. But also realize she did SOMETHING right.
    She had to have, otherwise no matter how much marketing she had behind her, her books never would have taken off to the extent they did. What did she do right? She’s a good storyteller. Christian Grey was notably, romantically flawed. He was everything a reader wants in a romance novel hero.
  6. Be careful what you wish for.
    Success comes with people who will be jealous of you, and who will want to cut you down just for the fact you made it and they didn’t. To be ostracized for success isn’t something anyone wishes for. And while James seems to have had all the luck and success in this world, you want people to keep your books on their shelves–not donate them to a thrift store.
    This isn’t the kind of reading nook you want people to build with discarded copies of your books.

    50 shades fort

 

Congratulations to EL James on her release! Let me know if you plan to read it. 🙂

The Mister is on pre-order until April 16, 2019. If you want to preorder it, click here.

Thanks for reading!