Author Update, Thoughts on Getting BLOCKED, and Giveaways, are They Worth it?

Image by Mint Miller from Pixabay

Things around here are the same. I had a good Thanksgiving with my kids, sister, and ex-husband. The turkey came out well (which is always a gamble for me as I tend to over cook), all the sides were good, and I only peeled a little skin off my finger when I was peeling potatoes. The questions when we played Trivial Pursuit weren’t even that difficult, and though my sister won both times like she normally does, I didn’t feel stupid (like I normally do) so that was a win for me all by itself. I started editing for a friend of mine, and I’m excited to read something different for a change and keep my editing skills sharp. It’s been a long time since I’ve edited for someone and it’s a fun break from my own book. I’m 28k into my new WIP and I think at this point I have all the bits and pieces I need to finish it. I don’t know how long it’s going to be–I have a list of the plot points I haven’t hit yet, so I’m guessing I’ll need at least another 50k words before it’s done. Still no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I may just hire a proofer and publish it when it’s ready. I bought a 2023 calendar to keep track of all my releases and promo dates, and I’m going to force myself to use it next year. I always buy a cute planner (last year I even bought a calendar blotter though I have no idea why because the only desk I have is for work and I don’t write there) that I ignore, but I’m going to try my best to make 2023 more professional for me and my books.

I have this calendar for 2022, but I changed my release plan for several of my books, and didn’t end up using it. I wrote and packaged a duet and a trilogy instead and that used up a lot of this year. 2023 is a big year for me and I’ll be releasing quite a few books. My co-worker isn’t reading my series (she prefers watching Netflix and watching TikTok videos, SMH), so I’ll have to ask for those proofs back and figure something else out. I really wanted to have a second set of eyes on these, but even a proofreader at $70/ book (which totally isn’t bad for a proofreader, honestly) would still cost me almost 500 dollars for all six. It’s tough, it really is, and the last thing I want to do is read them again, but I may not have a choice. This series will butter my bread if they take off, and I want them perfect before I publish them.

Anyway, so one thing at a time, and I’m looking forward to publishing my trilogy in January. There doesn’t seem to be anything getting in the way of that, and I’m proud of these books so I won’t be pushing them back for any reason (unlike my series because they don’t feel ready and I don’t feel ready). What will come after them remains to be seen as I have a standalone ready to publish, but by then I might just do my rockstar romance and then figure out what I want to publish in the summer. Choices, choices, but it’s a good problem to have.


Saturday I got caught up in a squabble on Twitter about giveaways, and not to my surprise, she blocked me. It’s fine. What I said, and what I will stick to, is if your giveaway isn’t doing what you want–new readers, read-through, whatever the case may be as to why you hosted a giveaway, fix your book. Fix your cover, fix the copy that you used with the giveaway, fix your blurb (anywhere, everywhere), fix the look inside. What ruffled her feathers was when I said, free junk is still junk. She said it was harsh, but so what if it is? I’ve been on Twitter for a long time. A long time, and the most common theme that I’ve run into is when people complain their books don’t sell, but are unwilling to take advice on why. If I say I don’t like your cover because I don’t think it will meet reader expectations, I’m not insulting you. I WANT your book to sell. And YOU want your book to sell or you wouldn’t be asking for feedback. Anytime someone blocks me, my feelings are hurt, and I don’t like hurting other people’s feelings. The fact is though, I should stop offering my opinion. People truly don’t want it. Especially when they’ve already gotten ten tweets saying how wonderful their Canva cover is and I’m the only one who says it looks terrible and maybe you should be studying the Amazon top 100 in your genre to figure out where you went wrong. Staying in my own lane has always been difficult, but think of how much time I would have if I stayed off Twitter. My self-esteem levels would probably increase, considering there isn’t a week that goes by where someone doesn’t tell me, “Thanks for your input but fuck off. I like my cover how it is.” But I get the last laugh when a month later they’re complaining because their book didn’t take off like they wanted it to. Shrug. It is a pretty crappy merry-go-round that I’ve hitched myself to, an addiction that needs to be broken. That could be one of my 2023 New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never stayed where I’m not wanted, and that goes for friendships and romantic relationships as well.

If you’re thinking about a giveaway, I have some quick thoughts to make your giveaway go as smoothly as possible and hopefully you get out of it what you want.

Fix your book before your giveaway. When I did my promo for His Frozen Heart, I fixed the back matter of all four books, changed the covers back how they were before Amazon suspended my ads, edited the look insides of all of them and made sure the blurbs still held up. This is really important. If you’re buying a spot on in a Freebooksy promo or you were approved for a Bookbub Featured Deal, your book is still going to compete with other books. True, some readers load up their e-readers with every free book they come across, but if your book has a fabulous cover and a hooky blurb, readers may read your book first and if your book is solid, you may have found a life-long fan of your work. These were all the free books on November 17th when I ran my promo. Your book has to compete with others’. There is no getting around it. https://www.freebooksy.com/?s=november+17

Know why you’re giving your book away. This, too, is important or you’ll only disappointed yourself after the fact. As my friend Jeanne and I were talking about couple days ago, ROI doesn’t always mean sales. ROI could be exposure, a borrow though Kindle Unlimited, a newsletter sign up, or read-through to the next book, either through a sale or a borrow. I didn’t have a plan when I bought my Freebooksy for His Frozen Heart, and because I didn’t have a plan, my results weren’t optimal. I wanted to give it away because it’s the closest thing to a holiday novel I have, and it’s nearing Christmas. I wanted to give it away because I hadn’t done a promo for that series for a long time. But, I also don’t have plans to write 3rd person under that name anymore, so I wasn’t giving a book away to build that author name, and if you aren’t using your cement blocks to build a foundation, you’re wasting concrete.

Have realistic expectations. The woman arguing with me asked me if I saw immediate sales after my promo. I gave away 2,000 copies of His Frozen Heart, and in her mind, I should have sold 2,000 copies of other books to make up for that. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, I got read-through, and I have still gotten read-through of my other three books and will continue for a bit though those sales are trickling in now. I may not earn back my fee this month (I still stand a chance of that before the end of the year), and that’s fine. People need time to read and the holidays are busy. Some people may not have liked the first book and won’t read the others. That’s a risk when you publish any book. You can’t be all things to all people.

Ask yourself if this is the right time to do a giveaway or other promo. I was listening to Zoe York in a Clubhouse room and she said try to do some kind of promo every three months to keep sales moving. I agree and I’ve fallen dismally behind in that regard because I’ve been too busy writing to think about my backlist. Once I settle into my pen name, all my momentum going forward will be for those books, and like a car going down a steep hill, I hope I can keep up the speed even if my foot is off the gas. I said in my last blog post that had I really been thinking overall about my business, I shouldn’t have paid for that promo, and it’s still true. I should have saved that money to push my 1st person books next year. Now I have to take that loss. I spent $115.00 on the Freebooksy spot and as of this writing have spent $8.97 on Amazon ads for the month of November. I’ve only made $83.97 this month which puts me in hole $40.00. (Because of all the extras I pay for throughout the year, I’ve only finished out a couple of years in the black, so that’s the overall state of my publishing career up until now. It’s not a surprise though, and something I’m obviously trying to change.)

If you don’t want to give a book away, don’t. I’m not your mom telling you what to do. Return on investment will be different for everyone, but the main reason I see for authors not wanting to give their book away is because they think they should be paid for their time and what they think they are worth. It’s true that some people value the things they have to pay for, on the other hand, COVID is still a thing, there’s over six million people who are unemployed in the United States, and people are struggling to buy food and pay their rent. As someone who is fortunate enough to have a little money for ads but still stresses about monthly bills, I understand both sides. Yes, I want to be paid for all the work I put into my books, but I also pay for a KU subscription because I couldn’t read as much as I want without it–especially the indie authors who aren’t in libraries. So undersand that if you, under no circumstances, are never going to give your book away, you are limiting yourself to readers who can afford to pay for every book you publish. If you’re asking 4.99/book and you’re selling a 6 book series, that’s $30.00; not a little sum to many people. Wide authors can be extremely successful, but they do run promos on book ones all the time to draw in new readers. If you don’t want to do that, that’s a business decision that only you can make for yourself and your books.


Free trash is still trash, and if you can’t judge your product with honest skepticism, I can’t help you. Maybe my words were harsh, but I don’t think she needed to block me. Mute me if she didn’t want to hear my opinions anymore–we weren’t following each other, I would have disappeared from her Twitter feed forever. I rubbed her the wrong way, and maybe one day she’ll change her mind and think giveaways are the best marketing strategy for her books. I can’t say it doesn’t bother me because it hurts to be shunned for your beliefs and maybe I’m too thin-skinned for Twitter (or to acerbic for my followers which is probably closer to the truth). Honestly though, I need to keep my nose out of people’s business and actually stop trying to help people. It will save me a lot of hurt, and people are going to do what they want regardless of what my opinions are. We’re all struggling against the stigma of indie publishing, and you’d think people would try to do their very best to fight against it, instead they do what they want and just validate those people who think indies are trash. It is what it is. As one of my friends likes to say, not my circus not my monkeys, but I sure do like to buy tickets.

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful rest of the month!

Author Update: My Freebooksy results and knowing what you want

I’m only 19,400 words into my new WIP since starting it November 10th, and I’m having a difficult time getting into it. There are a couple of reasons, mainly I don’t know when I’ll publish it, and without that sense of urgency and anticipation, finding the motivation to write is difficult. I haven’t been wasting my time not writing–I read a book that some writers on Writer Twitter were bemoaning for the “stalkerish” tendencies of the male main character. I didn’t find it terrible, not in that way, but let’s just say, the book needed an editor and the possessiveness of the MMC was the least of that book’s problems.

I also reread Wherever He Goes, and talking about editing, that could use an edit. Not with any typos, though I did catch one “reign” where I meant “rein” and I had Kat driving West to make to Florida from Utah, but the instances of “had” when there didn’t need to be blew me away, and I think I probably should have edited it first before offering it for free and giving away 77 copies during my free promotion over the weekend. It’s a super cute book though, I still love the story very much, but if I ever wanted to go back and fix all those past perfect instances that don’t need to be there, I could also recover it with an illustrated cover that would be more fitting than what’s on it now. Back when I published it, illustrated covers weren’t popular, but it would be very fitting for the kind of plot it is. That is a project for another day, or maybe never as you can’t move forward if you keep looking back.


Speaking of looking back, I’ll give you the results I have for the Freebooksy deal I did on Thursday, November 17th. I took out a promo for that day, but I also extended my free days to the 18th and 19th. I don’t know why I decided to spend money on a Freebooksy for a pen name I’m not sure I’m going to write under anymore, except that I hadn’t ran a promo for those books in a long time, and I was just curious to see how they’d do. (Just a heads up–curiosity is not a good marketing strategy.) The problem with that mentality is, if you don’t have a plan or a desired outcome, it’s best not to spend the money. I’ll explain what I mean in a bit. The last time I did a Freebooksy on the first in my series, I earned my money back right away as it was a brand new series and I think I was still getting a lift from Amazon at the time. This time around, I gave away 2,583 copies of His Frozen Heart, the first in my four-book small-town holiday series. This is what the ad looked like in the Freebooksy newsletter:

I think the best it made in the free charts was number three in Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

I don’t think I even made the top 100 with the holiday category that I wanted, but to me, it doesn’t matter where I fell on the free categories, because anyone can give a book away (I am all about bank over rank). My read-through didn’t come as fast as before, but hundreds of readers could spend the next several weeks or even months getting through my books. I may eventually recoup the cost of my fee, but I spent 115.00 on that promo, and so far have only earned 69.00 this month, which isn’t fair because I had sales of my duet and Rescue Me before the free promo. BookReport did a good job of breaking the numbers down so far:

ASIN	Earnings 	Sales	Pages	Giveaways
Totals	$32.42	10	1,429	2,583
His Frozen Dreams: A Steamy, Small-Town Contemporary Romance	$12.56	4	357	0Her Frozen Memories: A Steamy, Small-Town Contemporary Romance	$8.67	3	108	0
Her Frozen Promises: A Steamy, Small-Town Contemporary Romance	$8.10	3	1	0
His Frozen Heart: A Steamy, Small-Town Contemporary Romance	$3.08	0	963	2,583
Series Stats for the month of November
Standalone Stats for the month of November

So this brings me to what I really wanted to talk about today, and it’s this: always have a plan or some kind of vision of the ROI you want when you schedule a promo or run a sale. What is your reason why? Obviously, I had pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams for this series and this promo, and I was hoping I’d make a lot of money. I have a couple of ideas why that didn’t happen but I should have given this promo a lot more thought before forking over the cash.

What did I hope to achieve giving my books away? If I wanted the exposure, what for? I don’t have plans to write under Vania Rheault anytime soon because those books are written in 3rd person and I’m not writing that anymore (and I don’t think indie contemporary romance in 3rd person is selling anymore either). Did I just want to see what would happen? Well, I’ve gotten half my fee back, so I can’t say it was an expensive experiment, but that money, if I really think about my plans for my releases coming up next year, could have been better spent. Did I just to give them one last hurrah before I turned my back on them for good? I love my books too much to do that, especially since I was just talking about re-editing Wherever He Goes and recovering it with an updated cover. So, for me, if I can’t answer those questions, I probably didn’t need to be spending money on a promo, “just for the hell of it.” It’s never a good idea, or a cost-effective idea, to throw spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks. More than like it won’t, and all you end up with is a mess.

I didn’t have a concrete idea of what I wanted to achieve with this promo, and because money, especially this time of year, is in short supply, I kind of regret the ill-thought out spontaneity of my decision. I don’t regret all the copies I gave away, but I’m not nurturing that pen name anymore, and finding new readers for a limited supply of titles doesn’t make any sense.

So, before forking over the cash for a promo, or for any kind of marketing, really, think about what you want to get out of it. There are different kinds of return on investment after all, not just sales, and it’s okay to spend money for something other than that if you know what you want. Exposure is fine, and in these times, we do have to pay for that. Sales, how many do you want? How many sales or page reads would you need to break even or to reach your goals? Read-through? Is your first book strong enough to carry the read-through you’re hoping for? How many sales of books 2, 3, 4, etc do you want? What would make you happy? How old is your book, and have you had any new releases lately? Could you use a cover update before spending money? What about a fresh edit? Did you check your blurb to make sure it’s the best it can be before you pay for anything?

I’m glad that over 2,000 people thought my books were good enough to download. At least that tells me my covers are still decent, and the blurbs are holding their own. It also tells me that a promo on one book can affect the others. I didn’t run promos on my standalones and didn’t promote them in any way besides telling my newsletter about the free books that weekend. I simply put them for free and hoped for the best. So that was actually a nice surprise.

What’s next for me? This week is American Thanksgiving, so I’m going to be busy. I don’t have anything going on today (Monday) but I have Tuesday evening dinner and a movie with my sister. Wednesday my sister is coming over and we’re going to Downtown Fargo to snoop around, Thursday I work, but Friday I’m cooking and my sister and my ex-husband are coming over for drunk Trivial Pursuit and turkey. There won’t be much writing happening this week, but I am still excited for the story, and though I haven’t bought the images yet, I think this will end up being the cover. It’s a departure from the billionaire stuff I’ve been doing, as this is a rockstar romance, but it’s still in first person, so I’m hoping that I’ll still find readers. I haven’t had a cover come together so fast (besides Rescue Me, which took me ten minutes and I loved it from the first mockup) and likely it will stay:

stock photo preview from 123rf.com, cover made in Canva

Not sure what I’ll do with it once I’m done–doing anything for the sake of doing it isn’t wise, and while I would love to just hit publish and walk away, that’s the fastest way for a book to sink. Plus, if this is really the guy I’m going with, likely Amazon Advertising will kill any attempt to run ads which means back to Facebook–but only after Christmas.

My second set of proofs for my trilogy are good, all the little things fixed, so those are still set to publish after the holidays. I opened up book one on Bookfunnel if you want to give it a peek. You don’t have to give me your email address to download it. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ntb40bhai8

Besides that I’m just keeping on keeping on. My carpal tunnel has eased up since I’m not writing so much right now, but the girlie stuff that has been bothering me for the past couple of years still hasn’t abated no matter what I try. Some people have suggested that because of my age and hormones, yadda yadda that maybe that could be just something that will never go back to normal. That could be, but it’s a depressing thought. I’m not the only one dealing with something on a daily basis, but it’s a bummer to have to put up with something so annoying with no hope of cure or treatment.

I hope you have a good week, and a happy Thanksgiving if you’re in the US and you celebrate!

Thursday Author Update

It’s been a while since I posted on a Thursday, mostly because I haven’t had that much to say and I’ve been using Mondays as my author update days. Since last Monday was about book reviews, I thought I would use today to update you on my trilogy and what I’m doing now.

My proofs for my trilogy came back, and they are lovely. There are always going to be some tweaks, and I think I’m going to sharpen the background pictures a little more so that they look like they are actually standing in front of a city. The blur above the models’ right shoulders is actually the two buildings on the lower left of the back covers. Otherwise, I think the background colors are rich and beautiful and I have no doubt (not like my duet) that these will hit the market okay. I’ve gotten a few compliments on the large ampersand on the backs, as well, and I’m going to make the changes upload the final files this week/weekend.

I was going back and forth on what to write next as I have three standalones I could write pretty quickly, but in the end, I decided to finish a series I started last year. I have two books done, and I need four more. The first book I started as a standalone but as I got into it, it made sense for me to turn it into a series. It’s about a woman who’s father decides she should settle down and marry. He devises a list of acceptable potential husbands and tells his business partner that if he wants 50% of the company he needs to see to it that his daughter marries one of the men on the list. His business partner is in love with his daughter, of course, and the twist is, he’s not on the list, forcing him to choose between love with and 50% of a company he worked all his life for. It was a fun book to write, but while I was writing it, I realized that the men on the list could use their own stories, and that’s how the whole project was born.

It’s a little unsettling to realize that committing to this series will tie up the next year of writing for me. I can write relatively quickly for all the stuff I have going on in my life… I can comfortably write 80k words in 6-8 weeks, but then there’s editing and formatting, and covers to consider. Not to mention these books aren’t plotted out yet, and figuring out the story and how it layers into the plot is the real work of writing something this big. I waited until the last minute to put together my trilogy covers, unease and uncertainty chasing me until I practically hit publish, and I’d like a more solid plan this time around. (I already played with covers and titles for the first book–before I realized it would launch a series, or be a part of a new billionaire brand under my pen name. It’s so funny how covers and concepts evolve.) (And headless models. FFS, no! LOL) These are covers attached to a blog post on titling your book, and you can read it here.

I’m also thinking of how to brand this series, and what it’s going to be called. I like the idea of calling the series The List, and titling every book after the male character featured in it. It’s a departure from what I normally do, and I won’t have to think of titles for six books (which, let’s be honest, is a real headache).

So yeah, the last time I had a whole year accounted for, we were in lockdown and things felt pretty isolated anyway. I’m going to have to settle in, fall in love with these characters, and keep in touch with online writing friends so I don’t get lonely. But these books will be a nice addition to my backlist and I’ll be proud of them once their done.

In the mean time, I’ll make the adjustments to my trilogy, but I don’t know if I want to put the first one on BookSprout only because book one with reviews and books two and three with none would look odd (and give the impression of no read-through). Maybe I’ll look into paying for the next package so I can put all three books up at the same time, and I’ve always offered free copies to Twitter and my newsletter hoping for more reviews (that never come). So I have side things to keep me busy.


I haven’t given any love to my 3rd person books in a long time, so I scheduled a Freebooksy for my small town holiday wedding series for November 17-19th. I’m not even sure why I bothered since I’m not nurturing that pen name anymore (meaning, I’m not writing new books for it) but if the promo does as well as it did before (and the first book has six times the reviews it had before) then there’s no money lost. If you want to read how it went the first time, you can find it here. For the hell of it, since I’m not moving books anyway, I also scheduled the same free days for All of Nothing, The Years Between Us, and Wherever He Goes. The best thing about free days is if a reader has a Kindle Unlimited subscription, they’ll usually borrow it in KU before downloading it for free (and a borrow has the same weight as a paid sale). That’s why free promos, if you’re in KU, pay for themselves. It will be an exciting weekend, to say the least. I’m going to go ahead and still do another promo in January when my trilogy releases and focus on my 1st person books. But it makes sense to promote holiday books around the holidays, so no harm done. And for some reason, my paperbacks are extremely cheap right now, so maybe this promo will move some paperbacks, too. Who knows.

That’s about all I have going on. Going on a road trip with my sister on Monday to Bismarck, ND to eat at their Cracker Barrel and roam their mall. I’m hoping by that Tuesday I’ll be done with trilogy stuff and can really hop into this series. I was doing a little planning on it last night, old school, with pen and paper, but I didn’t get too far into it with my trilogy proofs mocking me from my desk. I never really could work on more than one thing at a time, but at least I don’t have “Look! Squirrel!” syndrome and finish the projects I start.

For Monday’s blog I’ll talk about my hardcovers, and I have a chat coming up with Jeanne Roland and A. K. Ritchie about publishing a second book, marketing, and all the fun stuff in between.

Thanks for reading today, and have a great weekend!

Author Update: Summer Plans

Housekeeping before I jump into the post: There is still time to read Jeeves Reads Romance’s interview and enter the giveaway. The last time I looked at the entries, there weren’t that many, so there is a good chance of winning! I’ll ship to the US and Canada and the giveaway goes on until July 4th, 2022.


Sometimes it’s great not to have anything to report. Kind of makes for a boring blog, but I’d almost rather have nothing to say than too much to grouse about because my luck went sour (who am I kidding–it’s been sour for a long time and only now just starting to turn around). I’m hoping those days are over for a little bit as for now, nothing is going on with my health (feeling better with the girly issues that have been plaguing me for the past year and a half) and I’m slowly getting over my breakup. I think it will hurt for a long time, but it’s not as heart-shattering as it used to be. The next couple of weeks are all about finishing up my adulting with a mammogram, eye doctor appointment, and a dental cleaning scheduled. But once I get those checked off my list, I won’t have much more to do and I can enjoy the rest of the summer. I’m loving the heat and I spend as much time outside as my schedule allows.


It’s been 27 days since the launch of my first book in my duet and the first book under my initials as a pen name. I’ve gotten a sale and some page reads, but I expected that. Book ones (in my experience) never do well because readers wait for the other books to release. When the second comes out, I’ll use a couple of free days in Kindle Select for book one and buy a cheaper promo. I’ve always gone with Freebooksy which is $120 for a steamy romance, but I’ll try something new like Ereader News Today or Fussy Librarian, maybe even Mark Dawson’s Hello Books. Authors are saying they don’t see the return on investment they used to, but I’ve never used any of those before and if the readers see a new name maybe they’ll take a chance on a free book. It still has 0 reviews and I wonder if I made a mistake not using Booksprout. There is just something about a book that doesn’t have any reviews. The product page looks like something’s missing. I’d even settle for a four-star a this point. At least it would tell potential readers it’s an honest review.

Wha’t I’m probably more excited about is I’m 73k into a new book that will be book one of a trilogy. I think I’ll work on them through the summer and into the fall, and just drop them all at once after Christmas. I need more books on my author page and if I do that, I’ll have six by the end of January. Then I can slowly release my 6 book series like I planned and have 12 by the beginning of 2023. I’ll have a good gauge if my books will resonate with readers by then. Right now the reads I’ve gotten from KU for Captivated are slow and spread out enough I know the people who have borrowed it read until the end, so that’s good news, at least, and probably the only perk to a snail’s pace start.

I’m looking forward to starting an editing series on the blog, and I’ll be interviewing up to 5 editors who edit for indie authors. I’ll start posting those after the 4th of July. I think craft and quality go a long way to how well you can market your book. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a cover, ads, or if you pay to get your blurb written for you. If the inside is disappointing, you won’t turn your readers into repeat customers. I (hopefully) geared the questions as something indie writers can learn from, so whether you’re writing your first book, indie publishing and looking for writing tips, or querying, you can read advice from editors who have seen it all.


I’ve been a little disappointed with the quality of covers on Twitter these days, and to keep my hand in with my own cover skills, sometimes I’ll redo them (for my own satisfaction). I would never approach an author and say their cover is bad and offer to replace it, so mostly they stay in Canva. I like this one, and maybe one day I’ll even write a book for it. The cover I redid also had a snowy cabin at the bottom and a couple up top, but I wanted to see if I could mesh the colors in a more cohesive manner and find a way to position the title better. This is not the name of the book nor the author who published the original. Actually, I think it’s one of my better covers, and I’m pleased with the stock photos I found. I didn’t buy the photos since I didn’t think it was worth it for now, and I used a combination of Canva and GIMP.

Speaking of Canva for book covers, the updated instructions I published this month have been viewed 94 times, so it’s it’s still a popular topic. The older post gets the most hits, but the information is still good and I pointed them to the updated post if they want to read that instead.

I’m eagerly anticipating what the rest of the summer will bring. More writing and more blogging, for sure, and book 2 of my Cedar Hill duet will release August 1st.

Enjoy the rest of the month!

My Highs and Lows of 2020

I’m tackling this blog post a little early since I plan to spend the rest of the month getting started with the first round of editing on my current WIP and celebrating Christmas. If we count from January 1st to December 31st, the numbers will be a little off, but not by too much.

2020 wasn’t the sh*tstorm for me as it was for some others. I still managed to write a lot of books, publish, and keep up with my blog. Let’s take a look at my numbers for 2020. I know some writers/authors who did a hell of a lot more than I did, but if I managed to get a little more work done than you this year please take it as a form of motivation for what you can do in 2021 rather than feel bad you didn’t get much accomplished. This year was unlike any other I’ve experienced and I count my blessings every day.

Books Published in 2020: 4 I spent all of 2019 writing my four-book Rocky Point Series. I published the four as a rapid release strategy at the beginning of this year. I don’t have a cultivated readership, and those books released without fanfare. How much have they earned me so far? These numbers are taken from BookReport, a Chrome browser extension.

This screenshot from BookReport says 8 books because the paperbacks are included in the count. I didn’t sell any paperbacks, and without the FreeBooksy promo I did in July, I don’t think my sales and read-through would have be been as good. And good is subjective. I have my sights set pretty high–these numbers don’t come close to what I want for my author business.

I am definitely not ungrateful–I know lots of authors would love to have these numbers. But when it comes to an author career, this is just a drop in the bucket–and I paid for those reads and sales with promos and ads. When I take a look at ad spend, I’m willing to bet I broke even. Which is fine, I’m finding readers, but without a newsletter or active FB author page, I have nowhere to keep them interested.

Sales as a whole for 2020: I have three standalones and a trilogy (also some novellas I don’t market) and these are my total numbers across all my books for 2020:

Take the 32 books with a grain of salt–I have boxed sets in there, as well as the individual Kindle and paperback versions. This number will also include the Large Print version I have of The Years Between Us. I was really hoping my series would take off, but I’ve made almost as much with All of Nothing ($634.16) as I have with the four Rocky Point books. And after I changed my cover, The Years Between Us has been doing exceptionally well too with sales of $609.24 for the year.

If you want to enlarge it, here is the breakdown for all books for the year:

Readers read a little bit of everything, which is fine. These books are an example of what not to do. Hopping around within the contemporary romance genre hasn’t done me any favors, but I’ve blogged about that and won’t bother going into it again. Needless to say, I learned a lesson and 2021 will be a new direction for me.

I also just want to add, it breaks my heart I never could get Wherever He Goes to move. I’ve run ads to that book relentlessly, and I just can’t drum up interest. I did a Kindle Countdown for it this year, and nada. Not one sale or KU page read off that promotion. It’s such a lovely little story and I hate I can’t make people read it. I’ve changed the blurb for it couple of times and I love the cover. Something isn’t right, but sometimes you just have to give up and move on. If anyone wants a free copy, let me know. Some reviews would probably help. 🙂

Thanks to BookReport for letting me pull those numbers so quickly. It’s a free Chrome browser extension and it’s a nice (free up to a certain royalty earning) tool to have around.

Total Ad Spend for 2020: After seeing my royalties for the year, how did I do with ad spend? I know with some ads I lost money, and I lost some money on single books while other books made up for it. Let’s see how much I spent in ads and if it will make me cry.

This isn’t as scary as I thought it would be:

It seems I did come out ahead with an ad spend of $1,289.91 over this year. Amazon tightened their creative guidelines and I wasn’t able to run ads to my first in series for the past couple of months, and you can see that dip toward the end of this year. I would have cranked up my ads for that first in series if they wouldn’t have done that as my series is a small-town holiday wedding series that would have been a perfect read between October and now, but Amazon is Amazon and there’s not much you can do about it besides go through with the headache of changing out covers, something I did not want to do.

Ad spend needs to include a FreeBooksy promo for $110, and a promo through eBookSoda for $29.00. Even adding those two things I came away with a royalty earning of $816.46. That’s four and a half car payments, or 136 cups of coffee at $6.00/cup or 1.25 rent payments. It helps to say things like that to put into perspective. But $816.46 definitely does not cover the hours and hours of writing, formatting, and cover design, not to mention podcast-listening and non-fiction reading I do for my books.

Still, though, you have to count your blessings. I’ve had people read and enjoy my books. That’s a great feeling.

Number of books written in 2020: 7. I wrote a six-book serial and just finished up a book one in a new series. These are all billionaire romance and that is the direction I’m going to take my writing in the new year. Each book is 85-90k which gives me a total of 595,000 words written, conservatively. I know some authors in some of my FB groups have written a million words this year, but I’m going to take my accomplishment and have an extra glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what my publishing schedule will be like next year. My six-book serial has only gone through a couple of editing sweeps, and I still need to edit them a couple more times and listen to them, too. Then the formatting and cover design. At this point in the game, you’re supposed to take royalties and sink them back into your business, but my $800 would barely buy me three decent covers, let alone six. And if I went with a paid beta reader, $800 wouldn’t cover what she charges, not for all six. I’ll have to think about what I want to do in regards to that. I definitely don’t want to push them out without another set of eyes, yet I simply can’t afford to hire someone to help me, and that level of favor is a pretty big ask. Anyway, I’ll keep you in the loop on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, number of blog posts written: 73. I’ve tried to be consistent this year, and I made it to 450 followers, earning, on average 1-2 new followers per blog post. Here are the stats WordPress gave me when I looked:

I’ve written enough blog posts they could be a book. Add that to my novel word count, and I’m pretty impressed with myself this year. WordPress also gave me my top commentors, and I want to thank them for consistently reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate you and you readers are who keep me posting week after week.

Coincidentally, when I logged into my WordPress account this morning, they congratulated me on being with them for five years. I think this is just a lesson to those who think an overnight success can actually mean that. Starting up a blog is hard work, keeping it consistent is hard, if not harder. Thinking of something to write about week after week, and staying relevant, is hard work. One of my friends loves to say, if you don’t like starting, stop quitting, and that is so true in this case. Building a blog, a following, takes patience and tenacity. Thank you for being here.

As for any other highs and lows this year, I wish for as many people who have read my books either through KU or purchased them, that I would have gathered a few more reviews. We’re told not to read reviews, but when we make graphics or whatnot sometimes it’s nice to add a glowing review to encourage people to buy.

So for 2020 here is my weirdest review from His Frozen Heart:

I’ll never begrudge a review, bad or otherwise because I think they’re all helpful and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to write a little something, and for her to say she couldn’t get it out of her head could be taken as a huge compliment. Stumbling upon it did make me smile.


I applaud anyone who has managed to get through 2020 with their sanity intact. Or at least most of it. I started working from home which has been a thrill–nothing like having a cat on your desk or being able to avoid those pesky coworkers. I’ve had a few personal problems crop up, but who hasn’t. My carpal tunnel pain is still under control with those stretches that Aidy Aaward posted earlier this year (I still thank her from the bottom of my heart for them) and with a few visits to the dentist, my mouth pain is under control too, though I am sitting here with one less tooth and hopefully a plan to rectify that situation next year. I started working full-time, but so far that hasn’t stopped my productivity.

I don’t know how many books I’ll write next year while the ones I have written now are releasing. I still have to figure out a newsletter because I know after five years of writing and publishing, that is where I went wrong. If I could redo any of my choices since I started this crazy adventure, it would be building a newsletter from the very beginning of my career.

My plans for 2021?

Start/build a newsletter. Stick with a subgenre. Network more with other romance authors. Stay grateful. Stay hungry.

What will you do in 2021?

Happy New Year!

Monday Musings

Happy Labor Day! I want to take a second to honor those workers who have done so much to get us through these horrible coronavirus times. The first responders and the emergency room workers, all the nurses, doctors, people at the CDC, and the WHO, and teachers and parents, and everyone in between who has been doing what they can to make the world a better place while COVID has been sweeping through our country. As of this writing, 188,000 people have died of COVID and I don’t see this ending anytime soon. The way people don’t want to wear masks, still gather in public, and in general try to pretend nothing is going on because they are tired of having their own lives disrupted, I’ve never seen America in such turmoil. Please pray, and in November, go vote. Maybe if we all make our voices heard, we can make a change.


Anyway, I ran a giveaway with romance author Meka James, and the winner is Sandy! We will contact her so she can choose which format of Being Hospitable she wants to have, and where I should send her Amazon ecard. Meka has kindly decided to share another audiobook, and the runner up winner goes to Aila Stephens! We will be contacting her as well.

taken from Meka’s instagram account

Thanks to all the participants, and to those who read Meka’s interview! We’re fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community full of writers, authors, and friends who share our passion for all things books!


In other news I’m still working with Amazon ads, and I’m getting a little bit smarter this time month. While I came out ahead last month, I lost money on ads for The Years Between Us when I shouldn’t have. Just because you’re coming out ahead doesn’t mean you’re not wasting money. So lesson learned there. I’m keeping closer tabs on my ads, and I created a few new ones at the beginning of September. The ones I made for the first book in my wedding series just aren’t taking offing. That could be because I’m bidding too low. I’m selling books, but I think I’m still benefiting from the Freebooksy promo I did in July. And the sell-through to book four has been okay enough that it made up for the money I lost on The Years Between Us. I’m trying not to be too down on myself. I did come out ahead after all, and I am finding new readers. All you can do is keep tinkering and see if you can find that sweet spot among selling books, making money, and keep bids low.


I ran some ads for Wherever He Goes and I’m getting a few clicks but no sales. I redid the blurb today and it’s going through the publishing changes. I paused the ads while I did that, and I’ll start them up again when the changes are published. I like the cover, so the only thing left is for me to add some more categories. I published this book two years ago, and I bet I haven’t sold more than 50 books. I re-edited it along with all the other books I did back in April and May, I think, when we were all on lockdown and there wasn’t anything to do. So the insides and the cover are as good as I can make them now. A new blurb and cover did wonders for The Years Between Us, so I can only hope there’s a little magic left for this one too.


I don’t have too much else. I’m still working on book 5 of my series, and I’ll be done with it this week. I’ll probably move right on to book six and see how far I can get before the holiday stuff starts happening. November has always been a busy month for me with birthdays and Thanksgiving.

My daughter starts hybrid school on Tuesday and that should be interesting. I don’t feel anywhere prepared to help her get through the year. I also started working from home, which has been nice. Except for a few glitches getting going, I think it will be a nice change of pace and if it snows I won’t have to worry about missing work if I can’t get there. My daughter only goes to school 2-3 days a week, and those are the days I’m not scheduled to work. I think this fall will work out. Now if I can get my teeth in order, that would be great. Dental work always takes so much time though, so not even sure when I can get my mouth situated. I’ll be having a lot of consultations to see what the best course of action will be for the long-term. What I have done now I want to last until I die. Morbid, but I’ve been doing the bare minimum to my mouth for the past couple of decades and I’m too old to be putting up with this anymore.


I hope everyone who has kids back in school can find some safe normalcy, and keep writing those words! In a parting note, Jane Friedman is doing a class on how to choose an agent or publisher for your manuscript! Even though self-publishing is more of a thing than ever before, there are still a large number of writers who want to query. Knowing how to choose an agent to query that will be a good fit is super important. Her class is only $25 and it may save you a lot of work and heartache! Check it out here. If you can’t watch it live, there is always a replay, so don’t feel you can’t sign up if you’re busy. I’ve taken a few classes from her before, and you ALWAYS get what you pay for.

taken from Jane’s site.

That’s about all I have for today. Thanks for stopping in, and again, congrats to the winners of the giveaway! Have a lovely September!

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

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

First I spent a little more time with the ad:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of choices!

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


Happy Thursday! Author musings, and holy cow, why is it so hot outside?

Minnesota has been going through a heatwave, and I’ve never been more glad than when I emailed our property management last week and had them look at our air conditioner. The maintenance man cleaned it out and now we hold steady at about 71F in our apartment. I don’t mind the heat, and I’ll go walk in it or run errands without bitching, but only if I can find some relief when I’m tired of baking my brains out. Trying to sleep when your bedroom is 85F is tough. And trying to write without any sleep is tougher yet. Am I right? First world problems at their finest, I suppose.

Health Issues.

I had a scare last week when a new brand of coffee made me sick to my stomach, and I mean, SICK. I drink a lot of coffee, and for a handful of days I felt so terrible I thought I had stomach cancer. Luckily I put two and two together and after I switched back to an old brand, I felt a lot better. I’ve also started wearing my splints again. I wear my elbow compression sleeves off and on to keep the nerves in my elbows in check, but I forgot about my wrist splints, and wearing those again have helped my pain, too. For a little bit, between my back pain and my stomach issues, I was feeling pretty miserable. But I’m back up to 98%, and as a friend said, after you hit 40, 98% is about as well as you can hope for. I know I’ll always have carpal tunnel issues, and like anyone else with a chronic health problem, it’s easy to get lost in a mini pity-party. But I took a walk yesterday and a cyclist zoomed past me on the trail. This guy had a prosthetic arm that attached at his shoulder, and it shut me up real quick. I’m sure he’d trade a bit of carpal tunnel pain to have his body whole, and it’s always a gentle reminder to be thankful for what you have.

Back to the writing part of it.

In writing news, I finished the second read-through of the last book in my first person trilogy. I’m so happy with this trilogy, and the writing went very smoothly. Now I’m worried about how the second trilogy is going to go, but I want to start writing the first book soon. While I write, I’m going to go ahead and format the first three (and hahahaha, do their covers) and order the proofs. There’s no rush to get these done. While I was going to do a pen name for these books, I’ve decided that yes, I won’t publish under Vania Rheault, but I don’t want to distance myself using a whole different name like I was thinking about. So I’ll publish these under VM Rheault. It won’t be a secret I wrote these, but I do want to keep them separated from my 3rd person books. I’m thinking more about my brand this time around and every book under VM Rheault will be a lot more consistent with feel and sub-genre than my other books. Not sure if this will help sales, but I’ve been sniffing around my FB groups learning, and it’s time to apply what I’ve picked up and see if it helps me too.

Last month, I ran a handful of ads to my Tower City Romance Trilogy Box Set and I got a few nibbles but no sales, so I shut the ads off. It included the sequel novella I wrote a couple months ago when I re-edited the trilogy, but because I didn’t sell any of the box set, I published the novella separately this morning. There’s no point in keeping it exclusive material for a set that’s not selling. I can throw some low-bid ads at the first book and see if anything happens. I have it set up as a paperback too, but the cover needs tweaking. I’ll do that later this week, I suppose, though I doubt anyone is going to want to buy the paperback. It won’t be worth the price. It’s a substantial novella as far as they go (29,500 words), but it was still too slim to put text on the spine (at least, KDP couldn’t center it correctly and I finally just took it off rather than fight with the uploading system on KDP and the PDF). But it will be available, so I guess it doesn’t matter in the end.

This morning I also set up a freebooksy for book one of my Rocky Point Wedding series. I was thinking about doing a Christmas in July type thing, so I was able to tailor the ad copy in that general direction. Whether it will hit or miss remains to be seen, but I have that set up for the middle of July and my free promo days are already set up on Amazon. I actually did okay buying a freekbooksy a couple years ago for the first book in my Tower City Romance trilogy. I made back the cost of the promo and then some in KU page reads, and I can’t remember how many downloads my book got, but I made it quite high (in the top ten) in the free steamy contemporary romance category. I’m hoping I do better this time around with an extra book and better writing. I haven’t calculated read through for my series yet, since the last book has only been out two weeks, but people are buying it, so I’m hoping this series has better read-through potential. I just checked because I was curious, and I noticed that the last book in my series wasn’t enrolled in KU. Sigh. I can only blame myself for not checking, and I hate to think what that has done to potential page reads when the first three are in KU and the last wasn’t. Everything else is, but at least I figured it out before the promo went live next month. Live and learn, folks. Live and learn.

Newsletters.

I’m still looking into starting my newsletter. I’ve decided to go with MailChimp since Jane Friedman and Mark Dawson use it. That was probably one of the hardest decisions because there are so many newsletter providers out there and they all have their own sets of pros and cons. But if heavy-hitters like Jane and Mark use MailChimp, then it should be good enough for me. I did have a newsletter set up with them a couple years ago, but I never sent out anything, not even to myself as a tryout. I wasn’t as research-savvy as I am now though, and I’ll be watching plenty of tutorials on how to set up a newsletter effectively. And I’ll probably need to blow off the dust on my author email account. I’m not worried about content, just the over all learning the platform and setting things up so my emails are sent smoothly. Everything is a learning process. I’ll also be typing out a novelette that I wrote at work over the course of a few weeks, and though it’s got kind of an ambiguous ending, I’m considering using it as a reader magnet. I have to type it out though first–20 handwritten pages front and back. I think that equals about 15,000 words give or take. Not terrible, and written in first person present, so it’s a lead-in to my pen name. Now I’ll have to look into group promos to build my list but that’s more research and a post for another day.


How is everyone doing? Getting stuff done writing-wise? This is a great tip from my friends Petyon and Scarlett on Twitter:

I would definitely encourage you to follow these lovely ladies on Twitter! Until next time, everyone. 🙂


Being a Career Author. Do you have what it takes? Part 7: Pricing

My Book

In this blog series, I’ve been going through results of a survey by Written Word Media conducted in September of 2019. In it, they surveyed Emerging Authors who make less than 60k a year and have 6 or less books in their catalog, 60kers who have 22 books in their catalog, and 100kers who have 28+ books in their catalog.

The last point in the survey is pricing.

In their findings, they discovered 20% of emerging authors have a book priced at $10.00 or more. I’ve come across this attitude many times, even from some of my writer friends. Their attitude is this: I spent a lot of time writing that book. I want to be compensated for it. The first book is always the hardest. Sometimes it takes the longest to write. But, unfortunately, a first book is usually the weakest of the collection as well.

Usually, after not selling a book for a while, or after more than a handful of people telling them that they’re crazy, those authors drop their prices to something a little more competitive. I mean, if you can sell an ebook for $9.99, would you rather sell one copy, or sell three copies at $2.99? The amount you earn is the same, but you have two more readers who may end up being lifelong fans.

10-768x494

graphic taken by survey linked above

The survey also says that 50% of emerging authors think a free book is a good marketing technique, whereas 63% of 60kers and 100kers think giving away a free book is a good idea.

free-book-1-768x494

graphic taken from survey linked above

Of course, that makes sense. The reasoning is the fewer books you have, the less likely you are to want to give them away.

Authors who are wide and have several series out are more likely to have a permafree first-in-series. If you’re exclusive with Amazon, if you want to do a free book, you can only do a promo with the free days KDP allots you.

Pricing low or free is helpful for a first in series, proving your first book is strong enough to entice your readers to read the rest.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that traditionally published books will have a higher ebook price because those publishers want you to buy the paperback or hardcover edition. Their whole business model is based on print. So if you’re looking at trad pubbed pricing, keep that in mind while pricing your book.

I would say the easiest way to price your book is to do what other successful indie authors in your genre are doing. A 100k word epic fantasy is going to be priced differently than a 25k word romance novella. Readers won’t show you any mercy, and they’ll be quick to give you a bad review if they feel like you’ve ripped them off.

What can you do?

  1. Price competitively. Do research and find the most popular price point in your genre, then stick with that.
  2. Realize readers don’t care what you went through while writing the book. They want a good read at a fair price.
  3. If you don’t want to give your book away, then don’t. No one’s forcing you. You may not like the idea of KU either, and that’s fine. Do what is best for you. It takes 24 hours for a price-change to take effect on KDP; you’re not bound to a decision.

As for what I do? I’ve learned giving my standalones away won’t do too much. The survey implied readers will read your other books, but that’s not always true. Especially a reader who has never read you before. They don’t feel a connection to you, or a loyalty to you yet.

Probably the most successful time I’ve ever gave my book away is when I used a free day in Select and paid for a Freebooksy. Because the book I gave away was the first in a trilogy, I made the promo fee back with KU reads over all three books. I broke even which is better than losing money, and I got some reviews out of it, too.

In truth, set a book or two at 2.99 or 3.99 depending on genre and word count, then go write more books. Worrying about the price of one book isn’t going to do you any favors, and paying to give one book away if it’s your only one doesn’t make sense.

Save the strategy for when you have a few more books in your library.

In the next blog post, I’ll wrap up this series, and we’ll explore the extra data WWM supplied after the survey came out.

See you then!


end of blog post graphic

Being a Career Author. Do you have what it takes? Part 5 Marketing

Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well!

If you just popped onto my blog, welcome! If you’ve visited before, welcome back!

We’ve been going through the Written Word Media Survey they conducted last year in October.

They broke down three types of authors–the ones who make less than 60k a year and have six books in their backlis, 60kers who have 22 books in their backlist, and 100kers who have 28+ books in their backlist. They broke those groups into sections on who pays how much for what.

My last blog post was a convoluted 2000 word monstrosity on how even though everyone advises authors to have a professional cover made, if you write in a genre that supports a simpler cover, there’s no reason why you can’t learn how to do them on your own. At any rate, you can read it here, and watch my rudimentary YouTube video on how to use Canva templates for an e-book cover so you don’t have to start from scratch. I hope to do a few more of those videos–if I can make a cover, anyone can.

The next installment of this blog series is marketing.

For fiction, marketing isn’t what it used to be. Even three years ago when the words “author platform” were the buzzwords in the author community, hardly anyone says those words now because nobody cares. (And this is for fiction. Memoir and nonfiction have their own rules and nothing I’m going to get into here.)

For fiction, author platform isn’t as important as a simple newsletter, and before, author platform meant your presence on everything from Twitter to Google Plus. That’s not true anymore.

If the author platform is falling by the wayside, how do you “market?” Marketing is simply finding out what kind of books people want and/or need to read and telling them about your book if your book fills that want or need. That’s it. Author platform used to do that. You would use your platform to draw readers to you and your content.

But as the survey points out, you can use promos and let them tell readers about your book. That’s a lot easier than tweeting into the void.

marketing promos

graphic taken from survey linked above

According to the chart, BookBub came in first for promos. Not everyone will be approved for a featured deal, and sometimes Amazon doesn’t like them. The too-swift uptick in sales flags their algorithms. I’ve heard from some authors that they’ve had their books frozen due to suspicious activity. They get it sorted out but it takes time and they lose sales. Also, featured deals are expensive. I know in some genres they can cost up to $600 so they aren’t an option for all authors. 

Promos like Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy work better than ads. I have found that for my own books, anyway. And as the article points out, there is no learning curve. Set your sale, set your promo, and walk away. Let the promo platform deliver your book to their readers.

Marketing-Is-Hard-graph

graphic taken from survey linked above

But what the article doesn’t say is it makes the most sense to use a promo on a book one in a series. If you run a Freebooksy promo on a standalone, yeah, you’re paying to give your book away. And contrary to that poor delusional soul on Twitter who thought being on the top 10 list of free books on Amazon made her a bestseller, unfortunately that isn’t the case. A bestseller implies you are selling books. Nice try though.

If you’re in KU, sometimes you can get some page reads from a Freebooksy on top of giving your book away because instead of downloading it for free, a reader who has a membership with Kindle Unlimited will read your book there instead.

Ads aren’t bad, but they’re complicated and keeping tabs on them so they don’t lose money is time consuming.

If you’re in KU it makes the most sense to learn Amazon ads–then you’re advertising for sales and page reads. If you’re wide and are everywhere like Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, Nook, using Facebook and BookBub ads (not the featured deal) makes sense. Though there is a way when creating your Facebook ad to choose Facebook users who like the Kindle, and that would target only those who buy books from Amazon.

I have dabbled in all the ad platforms and lost money on all of them, too. Your ads will only work if you have a killer product (cover, blurb, title, and look-inside) and it’s only after you lose money when you find out that your cover may have missed the mark or your blurb sucks.

Promos also feature your book’s cover and promos like Freebooksy and BargainBooksy gives you 130 characters or so for a short piece of ad copy so it’s worth it to take the time to write a short hook for each of your books.

Of course, the saying that the best marking marketing for your book is writing another book will never be wrong, and a steadily growing backlist will ensure your readers that you’re going to be around for a while.

Which may also take the place of author platform. Why be everywhere when you could be writing?

What can you do?

  1. Write more books. Promos only work if you have a library to offer your readers. Unless you’re looking for reviews. Freebooksy is around $100 a pop. Not in the BookBub featured deal pricing, but still spendy. Know what your goals are and make the fee count.

  2. Make sure your book is solid. It’s all a waste if you don’t have a good book to offer.

  3. Don’t be scared to stagger promos or overlap them for a longer sales tail. If you put your book on sale for .99 schedule a BargainBooksy and an E -reader News Today (also known as ENT). Authors who are trying to get in on a list like the USA today bestseller list schedule a ton of promos for the same time.

If you want to learn an ad platform there are lots of resources out there:

15039589_10103979409972338_6557733006768953375_o

For Amazon ads, the best thing you can do is follow Bryan Cohen on Facebook. Ask to join his Selling for Authors Facebook group, and do the 5 day mini challenge he’s starting on January 13th. It’s free, and he will teach you how to use the platform correctly and not go broke. Oh, but I thought you said you lost money, you ask. Yes, yes I did. It wasn’t due to following his instructions, but because an ad for The Years Between Us took off, and no one liked the blurb. So I got plenty of clicks on that super awesome ad, but no sales. I should have killed the ad sooner, but I didn’t and that’s my fault.

BookBub. BookBub has a newsletter they send out to all their subscribers. At the bottom of every newsletter are sponsored books. You bid like you would on Amazon, and if you win, your book has a place at the bottom of the newsletter.

Readers click and it takes them to wherever you linked the ad. The best resource I can direct you to is David Gaughran’s book. He knows how to run that platform, and I would’t try to do any BookBub ads without reading that book cover to cover. When I was wide for two months, I tried BookBub ads. I wasted the money to test ads, to test the graphic, whatever. Don’t Run Away was permafree, and I got a lot of downloads. That didn’t lead to sales of the other two books in the trilogy, and only after two months I went back to KU.

412mZB5USRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Facebook ads. Mal and Jill Cooper came out with the second edition of their book, Help! My Facebook Ads Suck! They explain the platform, what works, how to target your audience. I wouldn’t do a Facebook ad without at least skimming this book so you know what kind of ad to choose, how to put it together, and what kind of graphic to use. I haven’t done much with FB ads. Sometimes I’ll boost a post off my FB Author page. I did that a few times to announce I was back in KU, and I got a small bump in page reads for a little while. I also am boosting posts from my pen name author page to start a little awareness of the books I’ll be releasing in the spring. But nothing too hardcore.

They do include a page about Instagram ads. Since IG is owned by FB, you can run Instagram ads from your FB ad account. I never tried it, so I can’t tell you anything about my experience.

It’s best to focus on one ad platform and learn it really well. I’ll stick with Amazon Ads. Bryan is really easy to understand, and what he teaches you works. But he can only hold your hand for so long. You need to have a viable product or it won’t matter if you choose ads or promos. Nothing will work.

As for a list of Promo sites–people are so generous with what they know. A round of applause to Dave Chesson for putting this list together. 


That’s all that I have on marketing. No two books are alike, so no two books are going to sell alike. Find your audience. Are they like you? Where you do you find your books? Market your books there. Sounds simple, but in the end, it’s enough to make you swear off writing forever.

Good luck!


My next post talks about exclusivity vs. going wide and what the Written Word Media survey has to say about that!  See you then!

end of blog post graphic