Thursday Thoughts and grabbing ideas from big-time indie authors.

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe it’s already June 10th. I have a feeling this summer is going to fly by. Last Tuesday night I went out for my usual dinner with my sister and the restaurants were packed! I think that with summer, the COVID vaccine, and most places lifting the mask mandate, more and more people are going to be to out and about. That’s not a bad thing, but our businesses here haven’t caught up with demand. So many restaurants need staff and have signs out front. Fargo, ND, is also getting an Amazon distribution center soon, and it’s going to take 500 jobs away from local businesses that look like they already need help. I’m not against Amazon and I think it’s great we have a distribution center coming here, but it will make for some interesting times ahead and the push/pull it will create in the job market. Maybe I still have a little human resources in me after all.


As for a personal update, I’m 57,500 words into this new book, and I should be done with it by the end of the month. It’s going to be longer that my other standalones. Usually I’m just about getting to the “big bad” or it’s already happened, and I still have a few more scenes to write before I get there. While that rests I’ll get working on my newsletter (no more about that or your eyes will start to bleed) and maybe look through my list of tropes to find something simple to offer as a newsletter magnet. You know, I like writing and can write 50,000 words in about three weeks (according to my document information, I created my current WIP on May 15th). So whether I want to or not I will write something to use as a magnet, and the fun part will be figuring out what that is.

I’ve been feeling okay lately, though I’m far from kicking the infection I’ve had since December. I’m writing a side project on how I’ve been dealing with it and what I’m doing on my own outside my doctor’s help to get rid of it. I’ve done quite a bit of research and let me say that in this area of women’s health, the advancements are sorely lacking. When it’s done I’ll put a link up to it so you can take a look if that’s what you really want, but this blog isn’t the place for that type of thing. I’ll probably put it up on Amazon and other platforms for free as I don’t want to make money off it–just offer awareness in all the places that I can. It will be about 10,000 words, and formatted that might be enough to put it into a hardcopy form but I’ll have to look up KDP Print’s minimum page number count.


You all know I’m on Clubhouse and over the weekend they had an Indie Author’s Conference. They had a variety of speakers, and one evening a 7-figure author spoke about how she launched her books. Of course the “room” was packed and I sat with a notebook and was prepared to take a million notes. I have launches come up too, and I am soaking up a lot of launch plan information right now. Quickly I learned that her launch plan was going to be very different from my launch plan and I left the room discouraged. This author has been publishing for years, has a giant newsletter following, has a lot of books across four pen names and the information, while great, didn’t contain much I was going to be able to use. I am so grateful to the indie authors who are making it who are willing to share their information, but when you’re starting from zero like me and my new pen name and the only information I have is what I’ve learned on my own publishing the last four years, the information they share you may just not be ready for. There were little things like the promo sites she uses (David Gaughran has a great list here) and of course, everything I hear these days is to start a newsletter to keep your readers engaged, and she does reiterate that your book has to be ready to launch. Edited, good cover, good blurb, back matter up to snuff with the call to action of your choice (preorder link for next book perhaps) otherwise it’s not going to matter how you launch, your book will be DOA. I understand all that, but it is still a shame that authors giving advice have to remind other authors of that. At any rate, I will keep scrounging for information first, second, third, or even fourth time launchers can use. Here are the top items in my launch plan that I will start using and keep using going forward:

  1. Start/keep up a newsletter, though I’m not going to be able to participate in swaps until I can get something going and have something to offer in return.
  2. Use promo sites like Freebooksy/Robins Reads/ENT. Every once in a while you hear of a name that hasn’t been shared before that I forget too, like Red Feather Romance, part of Written Word Media specifically for romance authors.
  3. Use Amazon ads. Once I get my pen name up and going I may try Facebook ads again. The few times I have they haven’t worked very well, sucking up my money with no conversion or sales on my end, but that could be an operator issue and not a machine issue. Also, I think that what I wrote in my last blog post is absolutely true: ads work when your book is already selling well. I’ve learned you can’t press publish and walk away. I dropped the ball many times when I should have been working harder than ever to use that new release energy.

When you’re absorbing info from other authors you have to decide what you can use and what you’re not ready for. There is no shame to admit that some of the information you’re hearing is over your head. I understand why organizers of these events ask the big-time authors to share what works for them because the info they provide is invaluable. Not only do they show us the technical/business side of the writing, they show us that it is actually possible to make a living, to create a reader following.This author has been writing and publishing for years and has built an audience and more importantly, keeps that audience fed with consistent releases. You may not be ready for the information for different reasons. You can’t release that fast, or you can’t afford all the things she’s doing, or maybe you don’t even know what genre you want to write in yet and you’re exploring your options. There’s no shame in admitting you aren’t at someone else’s level. In fact, it’s smart or you’ll get overwhelmed and you’ll just go crazy trying to keep up with someone you have no chance at keeping up with. And possibly spending money you don’t have. This isn’t comparisonitis, it’s simply taking what you can, if anything, and moving on to an author more your level who is killing it in their own way. I kind of came to this realization too, while listening to Mark Dawson’s launch plan mini-course I purchased from his SPF University. He’s so far from where I am, all I can do is take bits and pieces and hopefully twist what he does into what I can use for my own purposes.

I like listening to Clubhouse chats, and there are so many people out there who are willing to share what they know. Maybe one day I’ll be sharing what I know on Clubhouse too, but I’ll definitely be starting from zero.

What I’m liking now:

David Gaughran Starting from Zero course graphic. Blue with author photo.

Speaking of starting from zero, David Gaughran has a free course that takes you through exactly that. You can find it here. (Image taken from his website.)

The Six Figure Author podcast did an episode where the hosts talked about what they did wrong at the beginning of their careers. This episode is especially interesting to listen to if you haven’t published yet, and you can listen to it here.

That’s all I have for today! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Putting emphasis on marketing over writing: an indie author issue.

It’s probably not a secret by now that I find a lot of my blog post ideas on Twitter. Be that something i don’t agree with, or something I whole-heartedly stand behind, or even something going on that I have an opinion about and want to share with others who might find that event (for lack of a better word) interesting.

Writer Twitter is fascinating, to say the least. Lots of ideas ranging from “you can’t make a living writing” to “a book deal is the only way to go” make a unique experience when you’re scrolling through the #writingcommunity hashtag.

Obviously I have my own ideas when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, and I believe in a few things that not all indies agree with: writing to market, picking a genre and sticking with it to build an audience, not using Twitter as a place for successful promo. I could probably list a few more, but it’s not important.

Today I saw a tweet from Joanna Penn, and she had commented on Lindsay Buroker’s tweet about how many books she has published:

I’ve listened to Joanna’s podcast enough that I totally read her tweet in her voice and British accent! Joanna always exudes an enthusiasm with indie publishing and life in general that sometimes it wears me out listening to her. But her excitement is usually infectious and it makes me glad that I’m an indie author and part of her community.

This is a really long intro into what I wanted to talk about today. I think that Joanna’s right in that indies put a lot of emphasis on marketing and not enough (or as much as they should) on the actual writing and publishing side of things.

The saying is true that the best marketing is writing your next book but we get really caught up in the excitement that comes with a launch and we want to push that book as long and as hard as we can. I don’t want to take away the satisfaction that comes with writing and publishing a book–we should always celebrate that–but as another saying goes, this is a marathon not a sprint, and you can celebrate the first mile, but trust me I ran a half marathon (once a long time ago) and the first mile isn’t much when you think you have twenty five more to go.

Lindsay’s brilliant career aside, I made up a list of the real reasons why it’s better to publish consistently, even if that’s just two books a year.

The Amazon algorithms will favor your book around your launch period. Amazon wants to give you boost, and anyone who launches well in their categories without doing any work can tell you this. They give you a head start, so to speak, but it’s up to you what you do with it. Most indies drop the ball because they haven’t mastered ads, or they don’t have a newsletter, or they think they can keep ranking without doing anything. But a good launch ranking is more of an illusion than anything else and if you don’t use it, you’ll sink like a stone. Publishing consistently will at least keep the Amazon’s algorithms eyes on you and as you and your books build momentum, the little push Amazon gives you can turn into something useful. All it takes is a little spark to create a flame.

Here are the stats from an author I know who launched a book during the first week of August 2019:

A friend and I were chatting about how well he was ranking for a first time author without prior books released. We didn’t know then that it’s normal to rank higher during launch week. Those aren’t bad numbers for a new author with no backlist, newsletter, no ads running, and no audience. I can’t give you the exact date he published as he re-released his book in the summer of 2020, but it just goes to show that Amazon wants to help you. Use that to your advantage.

Your Amazon Ads will do better. There are a ton of things I could talk about with ads, but the most relevant one concerning this blog post is the fact that if you’re running ads to old books, it’s like pushing a boulder up a mountain. I think it was Robert J. Ryan in his book Amazon Unleashed that used the metaphor. You might make a little headway, but in the end it probably won’t work that well. I skimmed through the first part of his book trying to find it, but I can’t. I’m pretty sure I read it in his book though, and it’s a great resource if you’re looking for more information about running Amazon ads. It all comes down to relevancy. All my books are over a year old and I try like crazy with ads to sell them. It doesn’t matter how much I bid, how high my daily budgets are, Amazon knows they’re old, and to be fair, Amazon knows they didn’t launch well. It’s tough to make Amazon care about your book and if you waste your launch period, it’s even harder.

Your frontlist sells your backlist. That’s something I’ve heard many times, but it’s not applicable if your lone book is your backlist and no frontlist is forthcoming anytime soon. This is especially important if you’re writing in a series. I still see so many indie authors trying to push a book one, when they aren’t even writing book two. What is the point of that? All that work you’re doing right now to bring readers into your series, you’re going to have to do over and over every time you release a book. Yeah, you can get them onto your mailing list and keep them updated as you write more books, but honestly, I’ve only seen this work for established authors who have an audience and that audience trusts them to follow through with the series. I’m going to stop there because I’ve blogged about that many times. But here are a couple more articles on frontlist selling your backlist.

What is a Backlist?

We Need to Talk About the Backlist

You’re giving readers what they want. As your audience grows, you’ll be giving your readers what they want. Being prolific can add stress and pressure to your career, but when readers are looking forward to your next book, that’s a good problem to have. I feel sorry for George RR Martin. Readers really want the next GoT books, but he’s stated the pressure is so intense it’s given him writer’s block. Of course, we can all hope to have the problem the size of George’s, but as you grow an audience they will look forward to every new release and publishing consistently feeds them. Out of anything on this list, this reason is probably the most important in the argument for consistent publishing.

As indies we talk so much about marketing that we forget we need something to market. I’ll never forget the writer who started Bryan’s Amazon Ads Profit Challenge and asked after we started: Do we need a book published for this? I get we can be excited and sometimes that excitement is putting the cart before the horse. Writing is hard. Learning ads is easy compared to that. Writing is hard. Playing with Canva is a lot more fun. Writing is hard. Writing a blog post or updating your website is a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Writing is hard. It’s easier to read in your genre and call it research.

Not everyone can be like Lindsay and have several 10,000 word days a week, but she does, and it’s no secret how she can write a 150,000 word epic fantasy novel in just a few weeks’ time.

Being prolific helps with marketing. It’s a lot easier to market if you have a new launch every few months.

I don’t have a system yet as to how I write and publish books. Publishing consistently gives the process almost an assembly line feel, but I try not to think of it that way. If you have a process, you’re much better off to think of it as being efficient with your time rather than typing The End, looking up from your laptop and yelling, Thank You, Next! a la Ariana Grande and shoving the manuscript on to your editor. Just because you publish frequently doesn’t mean you don’t care about your books or characters less than someone who has to take a year to write a book.

In a previous blog post I talked about taking time with your launches, enjoying your books, giving them room to breathe. I haven’t done that, not with the 13 books I have completed on my laptop because I enjoy the writing process so much. I jump from one finished book to the next without regard for how how I’m going to publish them or when. I may have gotten carried away with the writing part of it, but at least I’ve got the hardest part down pat.

As a friend likes to say, it’s all about the books. But you can’t market if you don’t have any. Create the product then worry about the rest later.

Until next time!

#MondayMotivation and Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! Take a moment to thank a service member and remember the soldiers who have given their lives to protect our freedoms. I know with COVID and masks and the vaccine and the lockdowns and everything else, we may feel like our freedoms have been suppressed or that the government is trying to take control of our lives. Sometimes we forget that being asked to do something as minor as wearing a mask to the grocery store isn’t impinging on our rights, but may in fact, help someone. I don’t want to turn this into a political blog post–we’ve had enough of that in the past fourteen months. But sometimes we have to give a little in order to get a lot back and that’s true in all walks of life, not just wearing a mask when you run to Walmart for chips. Our military members give us the ultimate sacrifice willingly, without complaint. Take a moment to thank them and remember just how much you have while others live with a lot less.


A friend of mine shared this on Facebook today, and it really resonated with me and this journey I call indie publishing.

When I decided to indie publish, like many I didn’t know what I was doing. I did my own cover, did my own formatting, for the most part did my own editing, though I did have some feedback (thank you, Joshua!) and learned how to upload the files to KDP. I did all the research, got a reminder from some friends on Twitter that KDP supplied interior templates for the paperback after crying in front of my laptop because I couldn’t get Word to do the page numbers how I needed them. All of it was a real learning experience, and while I can shake my head and think, “God, what a mess!” I wouldn’t be where I am today without those small steps.

Because I did my own covers in Word (I didn’t know about Canva then, thanks Aila!) I understand the concept of bleed. I understand the math, the principles behind how to make the canvas the size I need to make it to do a full wrap in, yeah, Canva. And even though I use Vellum now, I know I can make a nice interior paperback file using the KDP templates (use the template with sample text), if I had to go back to basics. There is something to be said for learning the little bits and pieces and understanding the little parts that make up the whole.

I thought back then I was doing crappy busy work, a means to an end, but what I was really doing is building a strong foundation for my writing and publishing business. I may have felt like I wasted hours learning how to run Amazon ads, but one day they’ll be an important part of my marketing plan and I know how to create and monitor a campaign that won’t waste money.

Of course, there are some things I tried to jump ahead on, like publishing before building a newsletter, but that’s probably a blessing in disguise. On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton isn’t the kind of genre I stuck with, and building an audience based on that first book would truly have been a waste of time. I jumped full into publishing before networking in my genre (what genre?! I didn’t figure out what I wanted to write, until, well, last year, I guess) and I published ten books in contemporary romance without making many, if any, professional contacts.

When you look at your day to day of writing, publishing, and marketing, no step is too small, no step is too insignificant to skip over. There is a learning aspect to everything we do, every podcast we listen to, every connection made, every blog post we read, every non-fiction book we read and recommend to another writer.

There are a lot of quotes out there that say the same thing along the lines of, keep moving, don’t stop; it doesn’t matter how slow you’re going as long as you’re moving forward. Lots of sentiments about never giving up. But instead of pushing forward, let’s flip that a bit and start saying that every little bit helps. Any little thing you learn could turn into something that could elevate your career to the next level. No small step will be useless.

quotemaster.org

We need to start on the rung closest to the ground, or we’ll be like that person trying for a rung s/he can’t reach.

So, remember, as you plan the rest of your year you may not be publishing a book, or you may be launching but don’t have a significant plan (look at Jami Albright’s for ideas!), or you may be struggling with genre and what you want to write next, and that’s okay. No action is ever wasted as long as you take a lesson away from whatever it is you do.

Good luck and have a wonderful holiday!

Until next time!

Giving your books room to launch and living with your characters: an author’s befuddled musings.

When writers finish a book there’s a lull. We’ve finished what we’ve been working on, maybe for months, sometimes years, and there’s a . . . silence after we type The End. There’s a strange letdown even as we’re excited to finally finish. Sometimes that can lead to confusion because we don’t know what to write next, or we get excited to start a new project while that one breathes, or we love editing and jump head first into reading and rewriting.

No matter what your plans are, chances are you go through a period where you just don’t know what to do, and that feeling is even worse once you publish and that project is done forever. Multiply this feeling by 100 if you wrap up a series.

But how done is it?

Do you really move on when you finish a book? Do the characters let you? If you’ve established a fanbase, do your readers? I’ve been thinking about this lately as I try to figure out some kind of publishing plan for my books. “They” say rapid release can be great to keep the Amazon algorithms going in your favor and to keep readers happy. But based on my experience when I rapid released my series last year, that only works if you already have an audience who is waiting for the next book. That isn’t me or anyone trying to start a new pen name.

One thing I heard on the Six Figure Author podcast not long ago is the idea to give your books room as you publish because that gives readers time to build a community around your books. This makes sense and takes some of the pressure off to publish quickly. Posting to a Facebook reader group and giving out extras to your newsletter subscribers will keep readers excited, and it will give you more time to run ads and build book buzz.

But then I think, well, how long is an author supposed to linger over a series or readers’ favorite characters?

Authors like E L James and Stephanie Meyer, J K Rowling, and Sylvia Day keep getting sucked back into their bestselling worlds. Do you think that Erika ever gets tired of thinking about Christian and Ana, or do you think she’s just grateful they made her the bestselling author she is today? I mean, what happens when your readers are hooked on one book or series, but your author mind has already moved on to something else?

Granted, it’s a nice problem to have, and if it ever happens to me, I won’t complain, but it doesn’t give an author room for something new. Maybe if you have fans clamoring over your books like that, it doesn’t matter if they want short stories and more books and/or the same books and scenes from different points POV–you’ll be happy to give that to them. It’s just hard for me to wrap my mind around giving your readers all these extras from books and worlds that you, as the author and creator, might have already moved away from.

That brings me back to the beginning of the post when I talk about downtime between books. Is there downtime? I suppose it all depends on your mindset and if you can keep up the excitement for all your characters and their worlds and if you can, or even want, to whip up a short story or novella (2.5 anyone?) here and there or an extra bonus scene for a series or novel that, in your mind, is old, because you’re excited about a new project. Lindsay Buroker seems she can do this easily enough, even though she’s very prolific and has several series that contain several books for sale.

Slowing down and taking time to smell the insides of my books will be an interesting concept.

One I will be tackling soon because I just can’t keep writing without stopping to edit and publish one of these days. I don’t know how much time I want to wait between releases. How much is not enough, or how much is too much because we can say take all the time you want and do things the way you want to do them, but consistency is important and staying relevant with Amazon can make a big difference when you need exposure and discoverability.

I’m taking a mini-course by Mark Dawson about his launches. He has an established audience, so his launches are going to look a lot different from mine, but he pads a lot of time before the launch. He posts to his author page on Facebook regularly, months before the launch. He offers giveaways and changes the banners to all his social media to graphics that feature that particular release. I have never done that. I don’t recall ever changing my banner for a release of any book. He also changes the text on the graphic from a pre order request to a buy it now order when it’s live. But while he’s doing all that, I’m assuming he’s writing the next book, and maybe it’s just how I’ve functioned for the past few years, but I’ve only ever thought about one book at a time. And maybe, if I’m fortunate enough, I may need to start thinking about past books for years.

E L James first published Fifty Shades of Grey in April of 2012. Let’s not go into the history of the book as it was when she self-published it. It’s not really important unless you want to add even more time to how long Erika has lived with these characters. Fast forward to now of 2021, and she’s still publishing in that world, the last book in Fifty Shades with Freed coming out in June, in Christian’s POV. That’s nine years of living with Christian and Ana. Some readers might not even remember she published The Mister in 2019. (I still think she ended that on a slight cliffhanger and I’m waiting to see if it’s the first in a trilogy I think it is or if she’s going to write something different.)

We can do the same with Stephenie Meyer. She published Twilight back in 2007 and she just published Midnight Sun, Twilight from Edward’s perspective this year. Not to mention she did a few other projects based off Twilight such as The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (The Twilight Saga) and Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (The Twilight Saga). Someone in my NaNoWriMo group accused Stephenie of writing her own fan fiction, but I don’t know how that’s possible if she’s doing what the fans want. As a reader, I’ve always enjoyed the male POV more so than that of the female main character, especially when we’re talking romance, and it could just be both E L and Stephenie were giving fans what they wanted.

Sylvia Day didn’t have to write completely different novels in Gideon’s POV when she wrote the Crossfire series. She wrote three books in Eva’s POV only, then incorporated Gideon’s POV into the remaining books. I’m betting because fans wanted his POV and her publisher told her to start writing in his POV. Unless she started just to round out the remaining books, but I doubt I’ll never know the real answer. She, too, was unable to leave behind Gideon and Eva so easily when she wrote Butterfly in Frost, where the female main character is friends and co-workers with Eva. We get a glimpse of how, seven years later, Eva and Gideon are doing, and what happened to Cary, Trey, Tatiana, and the baby they were going to have together. The first Crossfire book was published in 2012 and she came out with Butterfly in Frost in 2019.

I’m only bringing this up because I can’t fathom still being interested in a world I created seven years later. I may need to get over that as backlist books are bread and butter to a lot of authors, both indie and traditionally published, and doing promotions on older books, particularly first in a completed series, can bring in a steady stream of sales. I’m not going to stop running ads to my 3rd person books, but I know that not taking a personal interest in them any longer won’t help sales. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my books and all my characters, but when I give them their happily ever afters, their stories are done in my mind. Bad thing? Good thing? I have no idea.

How do you feel about looking back? As readers, it’s natural to have a favorite book, I’ve read The Sun Also Rises several times, but I wonder how often Ernest Hemingway thought of it after his career took off and he was immersed in writing other books. I’ve read several of Nora Roberts’ books over and over again as well. Nora’s publicist is in charge of her social media, so it’s Laura (or her assistant) who pulls quotes and makes graphics from Nora’s backlist to keep the buzz going. Nora, with help, has her mind free to always be thinking forward. To me, and to many other authors who can’t afford a virtual assistant, that’s a luxury.

Anyway, you have sat through 1600 words of musing, and for that, I thank you. I was thinking of going into a personal update, but I’ll do that on Thursday. Have a great week everyone!

Until next time!

Mare of Easttown: A Character and Plot Study plus Author Resources. (Spoiler Alert!)

**Spoiler Alert!** I’m going to talk about the HBO Max crime show starring Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown. I won’t give everything away, but if you haven’t yet started and want to keep all the details a surprise, skip this blog post. I won’t be mad. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the show, Mare of Easttown is about a detective played by Kate Winslet who lives in a rundown New England town. When a homicide takes place, she investigates. While it’s only on its third episode as of this writing, it didn’t take me long to get sucked in, and after every episode, I’m excited to get back to my own manuscript. Not many shows or movies encourage me to want to write, but Mare of Easttown definitely gets the creative spark going every time I watch.

Mare is a typical detective, and until you list her attributes and flaws, you don’t realize how cliche her character is to the police procedural, crime genre. Of course, that can be a good thing–you have to meet reader and viewer expectations. She drinks too much, though I wouldn’t quite call her an alcoholic. She has a tragic back story: dealing with the death of a child, the death of her father when she was young, and a divorce. Those are important because they make her what she is–a rough around the edges, but kind, character. She doesn’t let anyone get too close to her, and that includes her friends, her mother, and her remaining child.

The one thing that sets my teeth on edge, and I suppose you could consider that a good thing, as it’s eliciting some kind of emotion, is that her life would be a lot easier if she made better choices. Everything from her temper to the way she treats her friends and family to the way she drinks while she goes over evidence and police reports at home, it all makes me want to shake her and tell her her life doesn’t have to be this way. Probably, if she’s got a good character arc going for herself courtesy of the writers of the show, she’ll figure it out. What remains to be seen is how much she’s going to have to lose before she does.

Other facets of the show that are actually tropes of the genre are the out-of-town detective who is also assigned to the case because Mare isn’t doing a good enough job, her ex-husband getting remarried, and she develops a love interest with an outsider–a guest author who is teaching at the local college. Right away we see that the detective also assigned to the case is going to cause friction, though to my surprise it didn’t take many episodes for them to start getting along, but I was glad of that. Mare has so many other conflicts with her personal life that she doesn’t need to add any more in her professional life. Her professional life is already rocky as the Chief of their department, her boss, isn’t happy with her performance with a previous still-open case and that has consequences later on. Her ex-husband is implicated in the homicide, and of course, I would bet in one of the episodes that her love interest will also be implicated in some way. That’s just the way these shows and books go. Whether anything will come of it, we don’t know. Red herrings are what make this genre. The best writing is when everyone is a little bit guilty and the red herrings have a some merit.

I really like the feel of the show, how gritty it is, and we get a taste with the opening credits. It’s rainy, cold. There is no sun, and even if it’s not raining, everything looks washed out and old. You can tell right away that this is a poor town. Not enough money to go around–Mare lives with her mother to help share costs, and her mother is another source of conflict. I just cringe the way she treats her mother when I have so much regret with the way I treated mine before she died. Anyway, life is hard, and we see that in the way the sun never shines and everyone is walking around in a winter jacket frozen to the bones.

There would be a lot that goes into writing something like this–because at the heart of the show is the homicide that Mare has to solve. All the other stuff like relationships and how she deals with her losses, or how her family members are connected to the crime, they are all just obstacles she has to overcome or at least bury so she can do her job. As a casual consumer, it was fun to watch her and her new partner search a local park at night for shell casings and/or a stray bullet, but as a writer and one with zero knowledge of police work, I watched carefully how Mare found a chip off a building caused by a ricocheting bullet, and how she followed (imagined?) the trajectory to find the bullet buried in a tree. That’s tenacious, but we also get a glimpse that under the beer and vaping and personal problems, she is (was?) a good cop.

Under the heart of all of it is the police work, and it has to fit into the story as seamlessly as the rest.

Would I want to write something as involved as Mare of Easttown? I’m not sure. I like the romance part of writing, and I don’t think that Mare and her guest author are going to ride off into the sunset. That’s not the kind of show this is. My detective would definitely need a love interest, a serious one, but one that brings as many problems to her life as it solves.

The only things I know about police work are from the eight seasons of Castle that I loved to watch, but when you get into crime fiction like this, unfortunately, the devil is in the details. If real cops shot their guns as many times as Kate Beckett does in one episode, they’d be out of a job. No, I’d definitely need to dive deep into the world of police work, and besides enjoying watching Castle and Mare of Easttown, I’m not quite sure if that level of interest would fuel a book or a series like the one I’m reading now about Emma Griffin, an FBI agent by AJ Rivers.

If I wanted to write crime like this I would have to prepare big-time, and I would start with these:

1. Read Cops and Writers: From The Academy To The Street by Patrick J O’Donnell. When looking at resources, it’s important to try to find things that are current. Police policy and laws change all the time. You want to start off as close to this year as you possibly can, then you can research details as you write. This book was published in 2019. Not bad.

2. Listen to these two podcast episodes on the Self Publishing Formula. One is with Patrick J O’Donnell, the gentleman who wrote the book above, and Hollie S. Roberts.

3. Join the FB group that Patrick and James talk about. I’m not a member but it sounds like a great resource for writers. You can find it here.

4. Watch more shows like Mare of Easttown and definitely read more books. I started Big Little Lies on HBO as well, and that is also an interesting show where the plot revolves around a murder. I enjoyed reading the two detective books from Dea Poirier, and if I did decide to write in this genre, I would definitely dig up more. (No pun intended.)

5. I would have to decide if writing a series is the way to go or a standalone, and even these days domestic thrillers/crime are being written more in the first person POV as AJ Rivers’ and Dea’s books are. First person and third person both have limitations and would dictate how you write your books. I’m very comfortable with first person right now, but it’s not so easy to give another character their POV like it is in third person. They are a little old, but Tami Hoag’s detective series is written in third person past and they are based in Minneapolis, which I enjoyed.

6. I would buy a police scanner and listen to the types of calls that come in around my area. Not only would it give me a feel for the kind of crime that is committed in my city, but I think it would also spark story ideas.

7. Undoubtedly I’d want to make a contact at my local police department. It can be something as small as taking a tour, or something more involved as requesting a ride-along, but chances are good I’m going to need someone I can email questions to. Contact your the PR department for your local police department and ask how you can reach out to a police officer.

While I may never want to write crime/detective novels, there’s no doubt that there’s a certain dark romance to them that intrigues almost everyone. Whether I want to devote time to a new genre, that decision won’t come until much later. I have several things on my plate right now, but I’m going to bookmark Mare and come back to her time after time. Everyone can use a little motivation now and then, and she’s mine.

Until next time!

Author Interview: Barbara Avon

With the way Twitter is now–the platform showing you likes and responses of people you don’t follow–you can interact with someone long before realizing you don’t follow them or vice versa. It was this way with Barbara. I interacted with her a bit here and there, saw her name pop up on my feed a lot, but didn’t realize until she followed me that I wasn’t following her. She’s been a pleasure to get to know and has been writing and publishing for many years now. She’s a strong supporter of the indie community, and she’s a part of the huge #writingcommunity and #amwriting communities on Twitter.

I was excited when she said she would answer some questions. I love hearing about other authors’ experiences, and I feel that we can all learn a little something either through the mistakes they’ve made, or how they were able to make something work for them. I hope you can find some of your own takeaways from this interview! Thanks for joining us!


You’ve been publishing for a while now. It looks like you released your first books in 2017. Did you write and publish before that, and how did you get into writing?

First of all, I want to thank you for inviting me to this interview! 

I started this journey in 2002, which is when I wrote my first novel, “My Love is Deep”. Life happened, and I set it aside until 2015 when my husband encouraged me to publish it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that self-publishing was an option, so I lost a lot of money by having it printed at a printing house and selling it locally through Facebook. I have always loved telling stories. I earned an A + in high school on a short story I wrote set in the 1930s. My teacher even made me read the story out loud and you can imagine how harrowing that was for a shy teen girl. I knew then that I would someday write a novel. 

The indie publishing industry changes so quickly. How is publishing different now than when you first started, and do you think it’s better or worse?

As I mentioned above, I didn’t even know self-publishing existed. After losing $3000 out of pocket, someone finally told me about CreateSpace (now KDP). I honestly don’t know if it’s any different now than it was a few years ago. Self-publishing makes it far too easy for anyone to publish, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. What should come first, without a shadow of the doubt, is the story. That’s all that ever mattered to me. I am grateful that I have the outlet that allows me to share my work with the world, but far too often, I see stories published that are lacking in some way which tells me the author published too quickly, or without regard for the actual story. 

You publish wide, meaning on all platforms. How did you make the choice to publish wide instead of enrolling your books in Kindle Unlimited?

Again, I didn’t know Kindle Unlimited with an option until later in the game. Now that I’m aware it exists, I still choose to publish “wide”. To me, exposure is everything. 

You have a strong Twitter following. Do you think a strong writer’s platform helps you sell books? Where else do you like to hang out online? 

Twitter is where I sell 90% of my books. You often read tweets from others saying that follower count doesn’t matter. I disagree. The more eyes on my books, the better. I dream big, and if I’m going to be honest here, I want to be a household name. I want my books read across the globe. It’s only logical that a strong following will get one there faster. I started at zero followers like everyone else. Did my sales increase along with my Twitter following? Yes, it’s obvious that they would. I don’t spend a lot of “leisurely” time online. My days are hectic, and extremely busy. When I have some time, I dive into reading!  

In one tweet on Twitter you jokingly said your marketing manager (your husband) told you that you needed to crank up your marketing strategy a notch. Kidding aside, how do you market your books? And in conjunction with that, do you think being wide helps marketing or makes it more difficult?

Marketing is a necessary evil and my least favourite part of being an Indie author. However, I market mostly on social media (Twitter being my favourite platform). I am also a member of BookBub, AllAuthor, Goodreads, and several other sites that feature Indie Author’s such as Patric Morgan’s Indie Book Store. In the past, I have agreed to radio interviews, television interviews, and print media interviews. I often tell authors that they must do “everything they can” to get themselves and their books “out there”. It is part of the job description to market yourself. I do believe publishing wide helps a great deal with this. You can find me on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, etc. 

You write articles for www.writerspayitforward.com. Is writing non-fiction something you’ll always keep doing? Do you plan to write a non-fiction book someday?

I have always written opinion pieces. Two decades ago, I had my own column in the local Urban Weekly and I have worked for two city bi-monthly glossies. Today, I write guest blog posts partially for the exposure, (Think: Google search), and partially because I want to help my fellow authors on their journey. 

Your bio says you’re a multi-genre author. What is your favorite genre to write? What is a genre you don’t think you’ll ever try?

Even though I started with Romantic Suspense, my favourite genre to write is Horror (including Paranormal Romance). There is something hauntingly beautiful about the dark and mysterious side of life. I’m currently working on my next horror. Despite the genre, however, there will always be love in my books. I think the only genre I will never try to write is Science Fiction. (I do write Time Travel.) I can’t imagine creating a whole world that revolves around Sci-Fi and I’m in awe of my fellow authors who can.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made since you’ve first started publishing?

Not starting sooner! Along with that, I’ll repeat what I said in my first answer – printing my first three books at a printing house. 

If you could give a new author one piece of advice, what would it be?

Confidence is the key to great writing. Be bold, be brave, be different. Cherish your own voice and what makes you unique. There will only ever be one Stephen King, and frankly, I don’t want to be Stephen King. I want to be Barbara Avon. 


Thank you so much Barbara, for taking the time to answer my questions! It’s always fun to get a glimpse at what other authors do as they are writing, publishing, and marketing their books.

If you want to keep up to date on what Barb has in store for her readers, sign up for her newsletter, and bookmark her website. Thanks again for joining us today!


Follow Barbara on Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Thursday Thoughts: How fast do you write?

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope the week is treating you well.

There isn’t much going on in my corner of the world. I’m close to finishing my fake fiancé billionaire romance. I keep saying I’m going to take a break from writing and do other things, things I need to do like set up my newsletter, but I always dive into another book. After this book is done and breathing, I will get my newsletter sorted out and go through the edits my beta reader will give me when she’s done with my ugly duckling trope I gave to her a few weeks ago. I’m going to have my newsletter link and welcome email ready for the back of that book and publish it as soon as it’s ready. That is my plan for the next couple of months, providing everything goes well.

I only say that because I’m still dealing with this infection and while it’s only a bit painful and uncomfortable, it still takes away my focus. With any health issues, minor or major, sometimes you can’t help but worry about what’s going on. Thinking I might have to live with this for the rest of my life (there are only so many rounds of antibiotics I want to subject my body to) causes me some stress, though thank goodness I don’t have the anxiety I had at the beginning of the year. I admire anyone who can write while they have health issues, mental or physical. I am doing my best to stay positive and keep writing, and hopefully, one day, this too shall pass.


On that note, I want to talk a little bit about writing speed. There’s been some talk on Twitter about quality versus quantity, and the majority agreement seems to be you can’t have both. I have to admit, this makes me a little cranky because as someone who has a lot of time to write, and uses that time, I do manage to write a romance novel of about 75k to 80k in about two months, give or take. Writing in 3rd person past tense was harder for me for some reason, and writing in 1st person present tense, the books seem to go faster. All that is besides the point though. There will be writers who take years to finish a novel, and there will be others who can finish a book in a month, or even a couple of weeks.

I think one of the main reasons we still think it should take time to write a book is because the traditional publishing industry only publishes one book a year by an author. (Normally. Nora Roberts’ publicist just mentioned on Nora’s FB official page that Nora writes four books a year. They have to go somewhere.) That is their publishing schedule, and we tend to to think they do that because the author needs that year to write the book, when in reality, that author probably wrote that book in three months, and it takes the rest of the year for edits, book cover design, formatting, and a huge marketing push before the book comes out.

With indie publishing, any timetable is non-existent. Write as fast as you want, publish when you want. Depending on the genre–romance, cozy mysteries–authors can write books quickly, send them off to their editors, hire out formatting and book covers, and keep up with a schedule that might seem grueling to some, but easy for them. That does not mean their books are crap.

I really resent anyone who implies my books are crappy because I can write them in a reasonable amount of time. There are writers who are faster than me. Lindsay Buroker averages 10k to 12k days (not weeks) regularly. Does that mean her words are crap? She’s a seven figure author. She’ll tell you her readers say, no, her books are not crap. There are writers who dictate and can write thousands of words an hour. Do I feel slow writing romance? Maybe. I feel REALLY slow knowing I haven’t published anything since early 2020 and I’m taking the steps I need to rectify that.

I could go into my daily routine and show you all my obstacles and how I write despite them, but you all know I’m divorced and a single mom of two human kids and three cat kids. I work full time. I do the shopping alone. I read fiction and nonfiction, write this blog, spend time with my sister, listen to podcasts, and go for walks. I still write 10-15k words a week.

If you have to belittle someone for using the time they have to write, you need to look at yourself and your own schedule. Where does your time go? What is your mindset? Where do you want your career and business to go and how fast? Do you think of your writing as a business or is it just a hobby? If you say you don’t want to write one day because you’re not in the mood and all you’ll write is crap, guess what? You need to write the crap before you write the quality. In quantity comes quality. It takes thousands of hours of practice to master anything. If you don’t put in those thousands of hours, you won’t have the quantity and your quality will suffer. I learn something new about myself and my writing every time I write a new book. A writer will never stop learning, and every book he writes will be better than the one before. That’s quality and quantity in a nutshell.

Craig Martelle did a 5 Minute Focus on the topic of quality. You can listen to it here:

So please stop sneering at the people who write quickly. It doesn’t mean their books are terrible. There are going to be terrible books out there. A debut novel will never sound as good as that author’s tenth, even if they worked on it for five years. I’ve clocked a lot of hours writing, a lot of hours going through beta readers’ notes, and editors’ comments. I write. I learn. I write some more. I’ve earned a two-month book.

If you want to increase your speed, here are two great resources! Check them out. 🙂

Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love is a fabulous resource.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Also, Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour will help you boost your word count.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Chris also did a really fun interview on the Six Figure Authors Podcast where he talks about writing speed, making your writing time count, and writing to market. I love listening to him speak, and you can listen here:


And last, but not least, I’m formatting interview answers by the lovely Barbara Avon! She’s been writing and publishing for a little while now and she has some great advice when it comes to navigating the indie publishing world. I’m also giving away a paperback copy of her book Sacrilege and a $25 dollar Amazon gift card. That interview will show up on Monday, so check back and enter!


That is all for now, I hope you have a lovely weekend! Keep writing!

Until next time!

Pricing Your Book: Who is your reader?

My local mall doesn’t have a lot to offer. You might think that’s crazy–why would the city mall in Fargo, ND be lacking? Joking aside, there aren’t many stores in the mall anymore. “Back in the day”, there used to be something for everyone: toy stores, candy stores, bookstores, clothing and shoe stores for every family income range. Back to school used to be an exciting day-long event.

Now, not so much.

The other day I noticed they are putting in a Sephora–that’s expensive makeup to anyone who doesn’t know.

Last month they opened an Athleta to replace Gap. That’s an expensive workout clothing store to anyone who doesn’t know.

I wondered why they put in an Athleta when we got a Lululemon last year. That’s more expensive workout clothes if you didn’t know. Pair those stores with a Dry Goods and a Francesca, and the only affordable place left is JC Penney with customer service so bad I don’t bother to shop there. I don’t want to go through the hassle of paying for something if I find something I want.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this, and my point is, if you’re financially challenged, you’re not shopping at my local mall. You’re going to bring your limited spending money to places like Kohl’s (don’t forget your coupon!), TJ Maxx, Old Navy, and Marshall’s.

This made me start thinking about where the mall finds their customers, and how indie authors find their readers.

Whether my mall has intended to do so or not, they are shutting out the little shoppers. Shoppers who can’t afford $100 dollars for workout leggings. Shoppers who could spend $100 at Kohl’s and buy three or four pieces of clothing–maybe more.

When you price your book at launch and you choose if your book is going to be in Kindle Select to take part in the Kindle Unlimited program, or wide (on other platforms like Books and Nook) you are consciously deciding where your readers are coming from and how much money they have.

In KU, readers pay $9.99 a month to read an unlimited number of books. Granted, not all books are in KU–a lot of traditionally published books are not, so a reader is sacrificing selection for value (though with the number of books published every year, month, and day that’s not much of a sacrifice if you ask me).

Anyway, so KU readers are one type of readership. They may be whale readers and read a book a day, or every two days, and their subscription fee pays for itself in a week and the rest of the month really is “free” for them. They may love indie authors and binge every book that author has written before they move on to another author. No matter how or what they read, they have limited income and $9.99 a month is a bargain.

Being wide cultivates a different readership, though you do have more flexibility with your prices and sales–if you choose to use them and many indies do not. When indies are wide they expect readers to pay for their books (duh). They can’t be borrowed like the KU model (unless you’ve enrolled your book in the program Kobo offers, but if I’m not mistaken you have to publish directly to Kobo instead of using an aggregator for the option to join).

Readers on other platforms may have more disposable cash and will buy your $2.99 book if they really want to read it. They won’t blink an eye at spending $11.97 for a four-book series at $2.99/each. Sometimes indies will do a permafree book, meaning it’s free everywhere, usually the first book in a long series to draw readers in, or they’ll run a .99 cent sale, but when you’re wide, you have to figure out your marketing strategy or no one will know you’re having a sale.

I’ll scroll through Twitter and see a book promo that makes me interested enough to click on it. Sometimes I’ll click on that link and see the book isn’t in KU, but the author hasn’t added any other store links to the tweet to indicate they are selling on other platforms, too. That ends up wasting my time, and other readers’ time when they have a KU subscription and are looking for books to read in KU. What’s the point of going wide if all you’re going to do is promote your Amazon buy-link?

This isn’t a blog post about enrolling into KU versus selling your books wide. There are plenty of those, and I don’t need to add my voice to the noise. But what this blog post is about is knowing who your reader is and guesstimating how much money they have to spend on books. With all the free content out there, and sales, too, a reader with a KU subscription or limited funds isn’t likely to spend $4.99 on an ebook. Especially if that ebook is only 50k words like a lot of romances out there. My opinion may be unpopular, especially with indies being told these days to “know your worth.” I know my worth, and I also respect my readers’ pocketbooks.

So what exactly am I proposing?

*If you’re wide, promote your books and all their platforms. You can use Books 2 Read, a universal link creator that will create a link to your book that will point your reader in the direction of their favorite retailer.

*Make your reader aware of sales. You can use social media for this, and your newsletter, but also use promo sites that let readers know your book is on sale. Some readers who like you when your books aren’t in KU or Kobo Plus have to wait until your book is on sale, and that’s the choice you’re making not enrolling into one of these programs.

*Read Wide for the Win by Mark Leslie Lefebvre. This is a great resources for reaching all the readers you can while publishing wide. Which is why you went wide in the first place, right?
Joanna Penn interviewed him recently on her podcast, and you can listen to it here:

*Research how to sell books at regular price. More often than not you’re asking readers to buy a book at full price. Some readers still have a hard time swallowing the idea of parting with money for something they can’t hold in their hands–like an ebook. Check out David Gaughran’s video on how to sell your book at full price:

*Research how to reach wide readers with ads specifically for wide books. David Gaughran also has a really awesome book on how to use BookBub ads, and you can find it here. Mal and Jill Cooper has a fabulous book out on how to use FB ads, and you can find it here.

*Make your books available in the library system. This is one of the sad things about having to be exclusive with Amazon while my books are in KU. I can’t add my ebooks to the library system. When you are wide, aggregators like Draft2Digital will enroll your books in library systems like Overdrive and bibliotheca. Ask readers to request your book from their local libraries.

*Go wide with your paperbacks too. Clicking expanded distribution on Amazon with your paperbacks is limiting and earns you less royalties than if you publish with IngramSpark. IngramSpark will distribute your paperbacks to all the online book retailers and also enroll your book into the library system.

My local mall has lost sight of who its customer is. Unfortunately because of what they offer (or don’t) I can no longer be one of them. I can’t afford to shop at most of their stores, and the one or two that interest me aren’t worth the hassle of finding a parking spot, navigating down the corridors to the store and then leaving again. Customers with money can browse the high-end selection from Lululemon or buy games and other computer/gaming equipment from Best Buy–an anchor store that replaced Sears when the chain went out of business.

When you sell anything, you have to know who your customer is so you can tell them about the products you have. Probably the most profound piece of marketing advice I ever heard was this: Don’t force customers come to you, you go to your customer. I don’t know who said it first, I think Craig Martelle said it in one of his YouTube videos–it could have been anyone in indie marketing space, honestly–and it’s true. “Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to books. My mall needs to show me they want my business by offering me stores I can afford to shop at. Since they aren’t, they’re telling me they don’t care about my business, that the customers who can afford to shop there are enough for them.

When you’re wide and you only put your Amazon link in a tweet, you’re telling a potential customer that a) you don’t care if they have a KU subscription or you’re hoping they don’t and b) you don’t care if they like to read on a different platform.

I don’t care if you’re wide or not, your business plans are not any of my concern, but if you are, I can’t buy your book, not unless you somehow let me know your book is on sale. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of reader my income has turned me into and there are a lot of readers like me out there.

What’s really interesting is that just this morning I was listening to Andrea, Lindsay, and Jo on their newest podcast episode of Six Figure Author, and Andrea polled her newsletter subscribers. She asked them why her newest series hasn’t done so well, and the resounding answer was that readers lost a lot of disposal income due to COVID. Also a lot of people just weren’t in the mood to read because the past year has been so stressful. If you want to listen to the podcast you can listen here:

Find your reader, market to them.


Coming up, I’m going to have an author interview with Barbara Avon and maybe a giveaway too! Have a good week, everyone!

When Authors Act Out Online

Last week there was a bit of drama when an author lashed out on Twitter at readers for leaving less than a five star review. Of course everyone was offended, and in true form, went to her Goodreads book profile and slammed it with one star reviews in retaliation.

When stuff like this happens, it’s always a train wreck, and we can’t look away as the author goes down in flames.

This isn’t the first time an author has behaved badly on social media–I recall the author who had their book deal terminated because she tweeted a derogatory remark about a Black woman eating on a train.

We’ve probably all had our fair share of cutting it close on social media–pressing an opinion on someone who doesn’t want to hear it, posting about religion, politics, or a hot take about COVID. Lots of authors say they should be able to post whatever they like, and to a point, I believe that, too. My personal Facebook profile is public and I post memes that have the F word in them–a lot. I have a dry sense of humor, but I try not to share anything that would be offensive (I don’t spread racism or body-shaming and wouldn’t even if I wasn’t an author). I support a lot of wildlife rescues, and if you follow my feed long enough, you’ll see that I love bats and foxes. On Twitter I get into spats–someone called me a twat the other day because I defended Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series–and if you ask for an opinion, I’ll give you mine. If I hate your cover, yessir, I will let you know. It’s not my problem if you agree with it or not, but I’ll tell you straight.

One thing we don’t consider is the state of an author’s mental health when they lash out. When I read all the drama that author put on herself–slamming those reviewers for less than five star reviews–I didn’t automatically call her a bitch or entitled. I thought, what is that author going through she has to lash out because of a good review? What is that author’s life like? Does she see a therapist? Is she on medication? Did she just go through a breakup? Did the stress of launching of her book make her snap? If you comb through some tweets, someone reveals the author was high and tweeting in the middle of the night. I have no idea if this is true, but it wouldn’t be the first time an author, or anyone for that matter, has been drunk or high and posted something they later regretted. Drunk-texting an ex and begging him to come back isn’t the same as tweeting something so terrible it could ruin your career, but you get my meaning.

Authors are already a lonely bunch, and I haven’t met many writers who are actually in a good place mental-health wise. They’re only good at hiding that they aren’t. Even the woman who called me a twat defaulted to rage someone had the audacity to disagree with her. That’s a lot of anger built up to attack someone you don’t know for having a differing opinion. I would imagine this author has been querying for a while and hasn’t managed to grab a book deal and she’s furious someone like Stephenie could not only secure a book deal, but became an international bestseller and was offered a movie deal, too. Maybe anger isn’t a mental health issue, but anger management is in the behavioral health department, and this author should find some help.

Anyway, I got a little off track there. The whole point of this blog post is that things aren’t always what they seem, and I hope I wasn’t the only one to have given this author the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that’s misplaced and she does feel entitled to 5 star reviews, but I tend to think this last year has been hard on everyone, and not enough people are giving others grace. The world is a huge place, but when we are stuck in our little bubbles, it’s hard to walk a mile in someone’s shoes–especially if we’ve been under lockdown for the past 12 months.

I don’t know what this will do to her career. I Googled a bit, but at the time of this writing, there isn’t a blog post or article I can reference that even speculates. I don’t know what her publisher will do, or if she has a PR manager who can do damage control or if they’re interested in doing that. I do know she’s lucky in that something will take her place–I’ve already heard grumblings about the Vivian finalists that the RWA put out a couple days ago. I didn’t renew my membership so I don’t know what book title is evoking the anger (something about a serial killer romcom?), but #romancelandia will be interesting to watch coming up.

What can you do to keep your social media on track?

  • Pause before you tweet or post. I’m always taken with this poster in my clinic’s office when I check in. If what you’re going to to post isn’t any of those things, maybe you don’t need to put it out into the world.
Think before you speak: 
Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
  • Double check what you’re posting on social media is the message you want to convey to the people who follow you. A lot of authors don’t know what their brand is, and I’m not really any different. To the indie authors in the community, I want to be seen as helpful, kind, supportive. I don’t want to be known as someone who is willing to make a buck off iffy information, and trust me there is a lot of that out there. I’ll tell the truth. If you’re cover isn’t working for the genre, it’s not working. If it looks homemade, I’ll tell you. That may not be seen as kind if it’s not the feedback you’re looking for, but there is a huge gap between Writer Twitter and the professionals in the Facebook groups I’m a part of who are making a living wage with their books. I’m not looking to bridge that gap, but if I can help one person make one more sale than they would have, then speaking up is worth it.
  • What are your social media goals? I’m on social media to have fun, network, learn new things about the industry, and drive readers to my blog. I don’t have a reader group on FB (yet), I post what I want on IG without regard to trying to find readers. There is a strong romance community (that I have found, anyway) but it mostly consists of writers sharing the romance novels that they love to read when they aren’t writing. It takes a while to realize that social media (free book marketing) doesn’t work as well as it used to.

If you’re angry, you may not take that pause before lashing out, or maybe you need to vent and have no where to put it but a long FB post. Censoring yourself may be one the hardest things you can do if you feel passionately about something, but the last thing you want to do is lose out on a networking opportunity or a collaboration, or even a book deal if that’s what you want because of something you said in a moment of weakness online.

Mental health is a serious issue, but if you follow along with that author who lashed out and see what other writers and book bloggers did to her book on her Goodreads profile not everyone is willing to give the benefit of the doubt or a second chance. I realize you can’t live your life in fear, but you can think about what you’re projecting out into the world. That might actually help your mental health in the long run.

Do you want to read more about the mental health of writers? Look here.

The Writing Life: Writers and Mental Health

Shattering the Misery Myth: How to Nurture Your Mental Health as a Writer

Thursday Thoughts, Clubhouse, and Time to Think.

It seems all anyone can talk about these days is Clubhouse, and I was lucky enough to be invited into the app exclusive for iPhone users (thanks Aidy!). If you haven’t heard of Clubhouse, it’s an app where you can drop in on any room of your choosing and be a fly on the wall. I’m a part of a couple of indie writing rooms and a publishing room. One of the rooms, or I guess “club”, is hosted by my Level Up Romance Group on Facebook. There I get to listen to the speakers “on stage” chat about whatever topic they’ve decided on (today it was Kindle’s new platform Vella, but that’s a different blog post). It’s not scripted, not like a podcast where the interviewer answers questions previously given to them by the hosts. It’s fashioned as more of a chat/discussion, or if you’ve ever been to a conference (not just a writing conference but any professional conference) I liken it to dropping into a breakout session and listening in. If you don’t get anything out of it, or you need to attend a different session, you can slip out the door, or in the app’s case, you can press on “leave quietly” and leave the room.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of this app–I’ve never spoken and haven’t been invited to. (My area of expertise is limited and I’m not making any money selling books so I doubt an invitation will be forthcoming in the near future.) I’m still learning how to move about the app (or hallways), and the first time I attended a room, I was scared to blow my nose because I wasn’t sure if I was muted or not. (Unless you’re invited to speak, you are, but it’s up to you to unmute yourself when it’s your turn to contribute.)

As you can imagine, there is a lot of information passed along these casual chats and it feeds right into my Fear Of Missing Out.

I present myself as a pretty stable individual mental-health wise, and for the most part, I am. But when it comes to the indie publishing industry and all the information out there, I have a desperate fear of missing out on the NEXT NEW THING. How are authors making money, what are they doing, what are they trying? I can get a bit obsessive when it comes to gathering information, and it’s only been in the past six months or so where I’ve tried, consciously tried, to loosen the reins and dump some Facebook groups. I don’t listen to nearly as many podcasts as I used to, either. I haven’t listened to Joanna Penn for quite some time, and it’s been while since I listened to the Wish I’d Known Then podcast hosted by Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, though that one should be at the top of my list since they both write romance and interview romance authors on the regular. I don’t listen to The Sell More Books Show since Jim Kukral left. I don’t care for the new format (no offense, Bryan!) and I don’t click with H. Claire Taylor, Bryan’s new cohost. The only podcast that I listen to every week is the 6 Figure Author podcast. I like Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea, though if it’s just the three of them talking, sometimes their information can get a bit repetitive, and I’m not always interested in their guests, though they are more business-minded than some podcasts I’ve listened to about publishing (recently they interviewed Joe Solari).

The reason why I stopped listening to so many podcasts is because if I listened to as many as I think I needed I wanted, or as many as are available, my mind would not rest. I need the time unplugged to think about my books. I need the time to mull over my plots, what my characters are doing, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. If I constantly have a voice yipping in my ear, my brain can’t wander, I can’t brainstorm, and my books will never get done.

There isn’t only one way to write a book, but this is my way. It helps me keep writer’s block at bay. There is no quicker way for me to shut down than if I sit at my computer and I don’t know what I need to write during that session. I call myself a planster, and I plot as I go along, and for me, that does mean knowing what I need to write that day even if I don’t know what I need tomorrow.

This applies to blog posts too. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say on the drive home from dropping my daughter off at school. I never would have had that time if I would have been listening to a Clubhouse meeting or a podcast. Sometimes even music takes away the space in my brain, and in the past I’ve been able to write with music in the background, but I’m moving away from that and writing in silence more and more.

So, enter Clubhouse and my need to know everything. So far the app is new, and there aren’t many rooms you can join, which is a good thing for me. To add to the urgency, rooms aren’t recorded. Either you can join and listen at that moment or you can’t. At least with a podcast, webinar (most offer replays though you can’t join in with a live Q & A session), or even a YouTube video, you can listen at your leisure. While Clubhouse could be a fabulous resource for authors down the road (especially once they are out of beta and you don’t need an invite to join) FOMO is real for a lot of people, and it will be interesting to see how others handle their time.

I don’t know everyone who is on stage most of the time, I know a few of the authors who speak, and they are all full-time authors. I mean, if you’re making ten grand a month on your books, I guess you can feel like you can make time to listen and join the rooms. I need all of my writing time still, because I work full time, have three cats (one of which is always needing something) two kids, and a social life. I need time to shut my brain off or my books won’t get written.

Time to think about your stories and blog posts and other content you share on social media is important, and I need to remind myself constantly that I don’t need to know everything. I like knowing what’s going on in the industry, especially romance. I probably wouldn’t have started writing in first person present had I not been keeping my ear to the ground. I wouldn’t have gone with MailerLite if it wasn’t the most recommended newsletter aggregator. Chances are if I wasn’t paying attention to the indie news in general, I wouldn’t have known to ask for a Clubhouse invite in the first place.

But I have to make sure I have space in my brain for books–which is doubly difficult if you’re already worried about something going on in your life. For me, it’s my health, but I’m slowly getting back to normal there, and eventually that space can be taken up with something else–hopefully nothing quite so serious. The next time I need an oil change, maybe, or when I need to make an appointment for a hair trim. It’s emotionally exhausting worrying about something, and when you can find quiet, it’s best to take it instead of cuing up a podcast or joining a room on Clubhouse.

It’s all about finding that elusive balance.

And that’s always easier said than done.

All stock photos supplied by Canva Pro.