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!


Writer Burnout. Three surprising causes.

We talk a lot about burnout, and in these times, it’s even a more important topic. We need to take care of ourselves because this is our passion, our calling, our gift to be able to give our stories to the world, and we don’t ever want to have to stop.

I listened to a podcast episode of The Six-Figure Authors, and they talked about burnout. We all know what it is, but what causes it? I’ve written about it before, but I never thought to look at the reasons why a writer would have burnout besides the simple explanation of working too hard. Jo Lallo, Lindsay Buroker, and Andrea Pearson gave a few of their reasons why burn out occurs and it gives me a new perspective, and also, new ways to combat it.


One of Jo’s reasons for burnout is not seeing results. I didn’t realize how much I related to this until he said it. I jumped headfirst into the publishing industry, and sometimes I feel like I jumped into the wrong end of the pool. Instead of an easy dive into the water, my head met concrete and I’m flailing. This isn’t uncommon for a lot of first-time authors. They think they’re going to make a huge splash with their first book, or they put out a series to the sound of crickets. So they do it again, and again and again all to achieve the same meagre results. I feel that way, especially when I know I can’t sell books unless I buy ads, and then I only sell in books what I spend in ads. If you don’t see some kind of progress, that can create burnout.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is also the definition of insanity. We all think writers have to be a little bit insane to take on a career like this, but I don’t think that’s what we have in mind when we call ourselves crazy.

What can you do?

I have to remind myself that this is a long game. A very long game. I mean so long I want to do this for the rest of my life. Success may not have found me yet, but one day it will. Reward yourself for small accomplishments. I’m always on to the next book and I don’t give myself credit for finished projects. I published 300,000 words this year and didn’t do anything special. When book four released, I was already knee-deep in the next book. That’s an awesome mindset, but also consider that writing and publishing a book is no small feat. You should celebrate it – even if it doesn’t sell.

Also realize that things can change and a promo that worked really well last year may not get you the same results now. Indies need to be flexible. We need to try new things. Frustratingly, this may result in losing a bit of money. No one wants to do that, but when you run a business it’s always a risk.

Take a break and assess why you aren’t making any headway. Is the genre you chose to write in not having a moment and therefore there’re no readers? Maybe your covers are off. Maybe you skimped on editing and reviews show that. Maybe you need reviews, period. Running on a hamster wheel won’t encourage you to keep writing. Jump off and try a new path.


Andrea mentioned her health. You can burn out quickly if you don’t feel good. Maybe you don’t want to take a nap because in two hours you can write 2000 or 3000 words. But remember, if you’re exhausted, if you can’t think straight, how good are those words going to be?

Even though you can’t see it by looking at someone, a lot of people have chronic pain they’re dealing with. Back pain, carpal tunnel. Auto-immune disorders and fibromyalgia. Some have depression, some have so much stress in their personal lives it manifests physically.

What you can do?

Keeping up your health is important. A lot of people are high risk if they catch Covid. A lot of us are sedentary — sitting at our desks 10 hours a day, and it might be even fair to say a lot of us could stand to lose a couple pounds. Burnout can happen if you’re writing when you aren’t feeling well enough to write. Take care of yourself. Eat well, go for walks, stretch your arms to prevent carpal tunnel. Meditate. Your writing will sound better if you feel better.

If you have a chronic illness, know your boundaries. Andrea says she needs lots of sleep, and we know that’s always easier said than done, especially if we have children or pets to take care of. She has to work out to keep her weight at a manageable level to help a condition she has from getting out of control, and we know even if you don’t have a health issue that exercise can help; it’s good for you regardless.

Use adaptive equipment. I use voice-to-text a lot more than I have in the past. Stand while you type instead of sitting if you can. Take frequent breaks and drink lots of water. We don’t talk a lot about ergonomics, but if you have a bad back or neck pain, sitting properly can make a difference between getting those words down, or having to stop. I know as a woman without a room of her own in which to write, it’s a constant struggle to find a comfortable way to type every day.

I’ve mentioned Aidy Award a few times in my blog posts. She’s a successful romance writer, and she posts in the romance group I’m in. Recently she shared a video of carpal tunnel stretches that have helped me. Since I’ve had surgery on my left arm, I may not ever feel 100% because I’m of the mind that getting cut open can do more harm than good. So far while it hasn’t taken all of my pain away, I feel better now than before but not perfect. But I do these stretches every day, and maybe you can make them part of your routine too. They help!


Lindsay brought up one reason for burnout that I never thought of before — doing parts of the writing business you don’t want to do. Not everyone can afford a virtual assistant and we’re stuck doing things we don’t want to do. Writing a blurb, formatting books, running promos, setting up ads. It’s drudge work and nothing turns an offer author off faster than knowing you have back matter to change. It’s a bore checking and answering email or keeping up with social media when you’re just not feeling it.

What can you do?

Take a day and get it all done. Lindsay call these admin days. Know you aren’t going to write. Make a list, make a cup of coffee, turn on some music and just get it done. We love to procrastinate and bury our heads in the sand, but that won’t get that blurb written or a Facebook ad set up. Sometimes you have to set aside a couple of hours to go through stock photos, because not every indie can afford to hire out for covers, or if you can, you want to give your designer an idea of what you like.

I haven’t updated my website in a while, and I haven’t added my new books to my Books page. I have over 600 emails sitting in my inbox. It’s such a drag. But reward yourself when you’re done. Dig into that new book. Order your dinner in. Take a bath. Go for a walk.

Having to do admin work over and over again comes with the territory, but there will always be days when there is more to do than others, like a book launch. Sometimes when I blog I’ll do two or three at a time and that will free up my week. Scheduling tools can be a big help, and when I go heavy with Twitter, I use Hootsuite. Sometimes you do have to pick and choose where you want to put your energy and just add what you’re putting off to the next to-do list.


Listening to the podcast was eye-opening and interesting. When we think of burnout we automatically think we’re working too hard, but that’s not always the case. Being able to pinpoint what’s going on can help us take care of the issue, or go about it in a different way. Try a promo site you haven’t tried before or kill your ads and cleanse your palate. Find new keywords and try again.

There are aspects to being an indie writer we just are not going to like. Recognizing the cause of burnout is one step in the right direction.

What causes your burnout? Let me know!

If you want to watch the podcast for other ideas and tips to keep burnout at bay, you can watch it here. Thanks for checking in!