Monday update and thoughts on marketing and being an indie author

I’m writing this very late, Sunday night, in fact, because I spent all weekend putting in the edits to book four of my series. It took me a little longer than I thought it would just because I was starting to make changes that I didn’t enter into my proof. I guess since this is such a large project, it won’t be a simple wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-press-publish-and-hope-for-the-best type thing. You might say that no book should be like that, but if you’ve never written, edited, and packaged 540,000 words, it does feel just a little more serious than writing a 20k word novella and hitting publish the second you type “the end” at the end of the book. I’ve never had a problem editing and publishing with no regret, but I think, no matter how many times I go over these, they may never feel good enough, never feel ready. This will probably be the biggest project I’ll ever write, and while I know from the bottom of my heart I will never reach perfection, I’ll probably always have a little regret I didn’t do more. So for now, the plan is to edit the proofs for books five and six, put those edits in, tweak the covers because I think they could be better, and order more proofs. Then I’ll sit on them and read them all through again in February and pray to God I feel like they are good enough because I want book one ready to go by March 1st. By then the series will be two and a half years old. It’s time.


I got into another discussion the other day about the stigma of indie publishing. I really hate those conversations, but honestly, I think people use it as an excuse as to why their books don’t sell.

There are so many ways to publish now, and who can even accurately define what indie publishing is? There are huge independent publishers like Graywolf Press who are so successful that maybe authors don’t consider them independent anymore. Then we have publishers that are legit like Bookouture and Belt Publishing. Then we have the companies that aren’t vanity presses, but they aren’t exactly publishers, either, like BookBaby, Bublish, Lulu, and She Writes Press (Brooke Warner is great–you should check them out.) Then we have the smaller presses that pop up, and maybe they’re legit, maybe they aren’t. I mean, if you know how to edit, create a cover, or format a book, almost anyone can consider themselves a publisher. I’ve helped plenty of authors put together their books, but I would never consider myself a small press, nor would I want to. Then we have the vanity presses that walk the line of what’s legitimate and what’s not (like Austin McAuley, iUniverse, and Author Solutions). So when you think about the million different ways to publish, how can anyone say that readers don’t read indie? How in the heck are they even supposed to know?

I get cranky when I hear the theory there is still stigma against indie publishing, and my argument is that no reader is going to go out of their way to search who published your book. You know how a reader knows if your book is indie? If the cover is bad, if it’s not edited properly (by yourself or someone else), if the formatting is poor. That all screams unprofessionalism, and yes, self-publishing. All a reader wants is a good story in a nice package because they forked over their hard-earned cash to read your work. If you can’t give them quality, then you have no business publishing, and if you do publish, you have no right to be angry with poor reviews or returns. There are plenty of big-time indie authors who started out small, and yes, as they made more money their teams grew and some even go on to publish other people like Michele Anderle and his publishing company through LMBPN, and to me, that just blurs the line even more. Don’t push your failure on to other people. If my books don’t sell, it’s 100% my fault, not because I’m indie. WTF is wrong with people? (This is a rhetorical question, and I’m laughing.)


So, you know I went ahead and listed my book with Booksprout. I was hesitant because of the poor quality of reviews last time and since they did their overhaul, I was hoping for a better outcome. A couple reviews have come in, and it seems for the most part they’re at least reading the book. I got one sweet review and it’s always nice when a stranger can validate you’re putting out a good book:

I dislike for the cheapest plan reviewers have to include in the review that they received the book on Booksprout in exchange for a review. It seems dirty and just a little skeezy but there are plenty of review services so paying for a review I guess isn’t the end of the world. But when you give away 25 review copies, and all 25 have that at the bottom, and all the reviews are five stars, it doesn’t look honest or sincere and if a reader comes by and happens to see that, a review won’t make a bit of difference to them.

So you have to weigh the options here of publishing without reviews, which I did for my duet. I guess there’s not a right answer either way.


I really don’t have much else this week. I’ve been so busy proofing my proofs that between that and working, I don’t have much time for anything else. I thought briefly of doing NaNo in November, but I’m going to be way too busy getting my trilogy read to publish in January. I may not even be writing new stuff until next year which is sad, but I need to get my back list going. Sales for my duet have been so-so. I get a lot of impressions, but no clicks, which at first glance means my covers aren’t doing well. It could also mean my categories and targets are off, but I know they aren’t because I put a lot of time into my 7 keyword fields when I published and I emailed KDP and added more categories. Those are all on target. I knew but didn’t want to admit, through feedback on FB that the men chose weren’t sexy enough for covers. I just liked the look of them and went against my own advice which is to bend when you can because nothing is more important than doing what you need to do for your books to sell. Now that they’re on KDP in ebook, paperback, and soon hardcover, and I uploaded them to IngramSpark, changing them out won’t be easy. I’m going to wait for a while and see what happens, but learning from this, I do realize the covers for my trilogy I was playing around with won’t work. I need stronger, sexier men, even if they’ve been used on covers before. If you don’t know what my duet covers look like, here they are:

I still love them, but again, time will tell if they’ll do the job.

That’s all I have! Until next week!

Being an indie author means using what works for you, no matter the source.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. Not really a conversation I guess, because it’s long been established that we don’t see eye to eye on writing, publishing, and marketing, and that’s okay. Just looking at her back list and mine makes it clear we have different paths and different goals. She’s 100% indie, does her own thing when it comes to books, genres, writing craft, as well as covers and where she publishes her books. She’s happy, (I’m assuming she is as she has never told me otherwise) and wants to stay on that path.

I learned over the five years I’ve been writing and publishing romance is just because I want to do it the way I want to do it, it may not align with my business goals and what I want for my books. That’s an important distinction. Just because it’s the way I want to do it, it may not be the best way to make the dreams I have to come true. So, I’ve learned to niche down to a sub-genre and study what’s on the covers of the books doing well in that sub-genre. I create my covers not only with what I like (and what my skills will allow), but I also have to take into consideration what is selling, and what will meet Amazon’s guidelines when it comes to ads. Just because you’re indie doesn’t mean your books can’t look and read as professionally as they should, and this made me think: we can publish indie books while borrowing from the best of indie and trad worlds.

What do I mean?

Covers: Think like a trad author.
As an indie you can put whatever you want on your cover, but the fact is, after you publish, you aren’t competing with only indie authors. In fact, the line between indie and trad grows blurrier every day. Readers don’t care who publishes your book as long as they get a good read for a fair price. You’re in complete control of your cover, but once you start tweeting your book to generate interest, or you run any kind of ad, you’re going to compete against a lot of other authors. Authors who are traditionally published by the Big Four, authors who are published by a small press, authors who can afford to spend $500 dollars on a cover, authors who know a photo manipulation software backward and forward, and authors who put their cover together in the middle of the night high on caffeine using Microsoft Paint. This is an area where we can learn from traditional publishing. Create your cover to fit in with other books in your genre. People do judge books by their covers and who knows how many readers pass you by if your cover isn’t up to standards. Unfortunately, you may never know.

Blurbs: Think like an indie.
Up until recently, and I mean, like the past couple of years (which is recent when you’re talking about publishing) blurbs (plot teasers on the product page, not one-sentence praise from your peers) were written in third person present tense. It was just the way things were done, and there are still indie authors who write their blurbs this way, despite that their book is written in first person/present/past. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around a romance that was written in first person, and it took me actually writing a romance in first person dual POV for me to fall in love with it (no pun intended). While this was going on, the savvy authors started writing their blurbs in first person, using the voice of their characters. If you look back, the authors who started that and bucked the system were GENIUS. Blurbs have always been, and always will be, a marketing tool. Because it’s a trad thing to write your blurb in 3rd person present, there have been some people who are reluctant to move away from that (and I blogged about that too.) Personally, I think blurbs written in first person makes sense (and only applies to authors who write in first) and you can have a lot of fun writing your blurb that way. This is time for a good reminder that you should always research what other authors are doing in your genre and what reader expectations are. Writing your blurb in third could lose you readers, or make readers unhappy when they read a 3rd person blurb and expected a book written in 3rd person as well. There are some readers who detest first person books and go out of their way to avoid them. If you like to troll Twitter (and I mean scroll, not be a jerk) you can read some more thoughts on 3rd person vs. 1st person blurbs using these Twitter search results:
https://twitter.com/search?q=1st%20person%20blurbs&src=typed_query

Release schedules: Think like an indie.
Being an indie when it comes to how often you can publish and when can help you build an audience quickly. Trad authors are stuck to once a year, maybe twice if they’re with a small press with a flexible schedule. It seems Amazon imprints like Thomas and Mercer or Montlake allow their authors to publish a little faster, but all in all, authors who can release a book quarterly (3-4 a year) have a better chance at building an audience so why not use that to your advantage? It hurts to save up books, but if you’re a slow writer, why not? Write, edit, and package three, then write more as you release. this can start a publishing schedule that you can maintain and after a while, your growing audience will know when to look for a new release. In the time a trad author publishes three, an indie could publish nine to twelve, and that just means more money in your pocket.

Series: Think like an indie and trad author.
Indies are getting better at this, but I’ve seen some books in a series that don’t look like they’re a series because their covers don’t look the same and don’t have a similar vibe. Trad has always been great with series branding, using the same fonts, backgrounds, and characters. For instance, the first book in the Flowers in the Attic series was published way back in 1979.

photo taken from https://thebookmelon.weebly.com/blog/flowers-in-the-attic

Series branding is important, but these days in the era of fickle attention spans, a trad house may pull the plug before a series is complete because it’s not selling. Sometimes an author gets a chance to wrap up, but sometimes not. Readers get angry, but like my friend Dea pointed out on Twitter the other day, it’s not up to an author if they have a book deal whether or not to continue a series:

This is where being an indie can make all the difference. IF YOU’RE AN INDIE AND YOU’RE WRITING A SERIES, FINISH IT, OR AT LEAST WRAP IT UP! Readers don’t like being left hanging, and when you’re publishing your own books, there’s no reason not to finish. The release consistency subject above also comes into play here. If you’re going to make use of a cliffhanger, you better have the next book ready to go (hopefully on very short preorder), or you’ll get bad reviews like this one:

Use your freedom to your advantage and keep your readers informed. I was tweeting with this author, trying to figure out the best way to let her readers know so this didn’t happen again. Is posting a publishing schedule in the first book’s blurb the way to go? Perhaps this would be a good reason to use A+ content? I’m publishing a six-book series next year, and yes, I do use cliffhangers. But unlike the author above, they are all written and I will be releasing all six in one year. When I read the Crossfire series by Sylvia Day, she did give the characters a happily for now ending just for the fact she’s a trad author, knew her readers would have to wait a year between books, and wanted to give her readers a bit of closure until the next book came out. When you’re indie and you need time, maybe that is the better way to go. Personally, I’m not sure what the answer is, but I will never not have all my books written in a series before I publish. Just for the fact avoiding small plot-holes and consistency issues will always be reason enough for me to wait to publish while I write.

The overall look of your book: think like a trad author.

A lot of authors don’t know this, but there is a set of guidelines you can (should) follow when you publish. The Independent Book Publisher’s Association lists them on their website and covers everything from what you should have in your copyright page to reminding you that your interior should be full-justified. It’s amazing that you can be a life-long reader, but when it comes to assembling your own book, how a book should look flies right out of your head. I’ve seen books that are left-justified only, no page numbers, spaces between paragraphs (this is okay for non-fiction, but I’m referring to fiction books), double spaced, no front matter except a title page, nothing in the back, not even an About the Author page. There’s no reason you can’t put out a professional product. To find the list of guidelines, look here:
https://www.ibpa online.org/page/standardschecklist

While I understand the disgust thinking about traditional publishing can evoke in an indie, there are lessons trad can teach us. Your book should look professionally put together, even if you’ve done it all yourself. When you’re asking a reader to pay for your product, it’s up to you to make sure they are paying for quality. It doesn’t matter how you reach that standard, it’s only important that you do. If that means hiring out every step of the way, then that’s what it means. Some may only need an editor, some can edit their own work and do just fine. Some indies are a one-stop shop and do every single thing for themselves, or use $50 dollar premades to cover their books that go on to make thousands of dollars. As indies, we have so much flexibility, but don’t use that as an excuse to do what you want. Once you put your book out into the world, you want readers and you want readers who will recommend your book to others. You want people to take photos of your books in their gardens, next to their cats, at the beach, and they won’t do that if your book has a crappy cover on it.

You CAN have your cake and eat it too. Just maybe scrape a little frosting off it first.

Until next time!

Editor Interview: Kimberly Hunt

I met Kimberly on Twitter some time back, and I’m a member of her Facebook group, Revision Division. We’re also members of Romance Editor Q & A since I do a little editing myself and keep up the skill not only for my own books but for those I edit for on the side. I appreciate Kimberly’s time, and I hope you enjoy the answers to all the questions she so graciously filled out for me.


Introduce yourself! How did you get into editing and what are your qualifications? What genres do you enjoy editing most?
C.S. Lewis said “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” This is exactly what I did. After twenty years in the corporate world, I took a sabbatical and it shook my world to realize how amazing it is to fill my day with activities I’m passionate about. I have always enjoyed my work and the companies that employed me, so it was jarring to realize I could be happier. Before I set off on a vacation volunteering in Peru, a friend of the family asked if I’d read a novel he’d written. The story was amazing, but I couldn’t get past the number of errors. This was my inspiration to look into copyediting. My natural ability to spot punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling errors lent itself well to copyediting, so I took courses to start there. My education introduced trusted resources like dictionaries and style guides and working with publishers taught me how to create and maintain a style sheet for consistency. The more advanced courses I took revealed my true passion is earlier in the process, with developmental editing. I love assessing the big picture elements like structure, plot, pace, point of view, and character development to help writers improve their stories. I love editing romance the most but I also enjoy editing women’s fiction, mystery, and psychological thrillers. I’ve edited all heat levels and time periods but prefer steamy contemporary.

There’s the saying that a writer needs to write a million words before they can write something publishable. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
Whoa, that’s a loaded question without a simple answer! On one hand I don’t agree with the limitations of hitting an exact word count and refraining from sharing your work until it’s perfect. We grow and learn from making mistakes. I definitely don’t think writers should wait for an arbitrary milestone to publish. On the other hand, I agree with the sentiment of the saying where putting in the hours and the work makes for a better quality product in the end. Have you read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers? He has a point about it taking 10,000 hours to become exceptional at something.

What is the biggest mistake you see indie writers making right now? (For example, info dumps at the beginning of their book, not enough conflict, too much tell vs. show, etc.)
I’ll admit I had to give this question some thought because I see such a wide variety of manuscripts with different issues. Considering both the unpublished manuscripts I edit and the completed books I read for pleasure, I’d say the biggest challenge seems to be related to pace because conflict is tricky. Many authors struggle to create believable conflict that escalates. Each chapter needs a purpose where the complications grow and the consequences are impactful. Many of my developmental editing projects require suggesting solutions for improving chapters without clear purpose. It’s hard to move the plot forward if the reader doesn’t know what the character wants, why they want it, or what stands in their way.

There’s a lot of talk about whether or not it’s necessary to have a manuscript edited before querying. What are your thoughts?
Most of my clients are independent authors, but I have helped several writers improve their story and polish with a copyedit prior to querying. I have more than one data point for authors gaining representation and eventually signing publishing contracts, but I can’t take credit for those achievements. Their storytelling talent far outshines my knowledge of where a comma goes. But as a businessperson who has reviewed cover letters and resumes before hiring someone, that first impression needs to be solid, so editing before querying could be beneficial even if it’s not required.

How do you keep the author’s voice intact while also guiding them with suggestions on how to make their book the best it can be?
Great question! My job is to point out both what works well and areas for improvement. I give suggested solutions in comments or in a revision letter for the more lengthy explanations. Changes made directly in the manuscript are usually corrections to indisputable errors. I reference Merriam-Webster dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style to support the corrections I propose. When line editing, I tread carefully to make sure I’m respecting the author’s voice while keeping concision and clarity a priority.

Is there ever a time when a book would require too much work? What do you tell a writer whose book isn’t ready for a professional edit? What resources do you refer them to?
This has happened a few times. Sometimes an eager writer finishes that first draft and jumps to the editing stage too soon. Revision and self-editing are recommended in these cases and I often provide resources for finding critique partners or offer to take on the project as a writing coach instead if the manuscript isn’t ready for editing yet.

What advice can you offer an author who can’t afford a professional edit? Are there things they can do to sharpen their own self-editing skills?
Definitely! These tips don’t replace the value of working with a professional editor, but they do offer some cost-savings if you can self-edit as much as possible first. I have a bunch of videos and blog posts on this subject on https://revisiondivision.com/tips but here is my best advice: read aloud to yourself, others, or have Word read it aloud to you. You’d be amazed by how much this trick catches. It will highlight awkward flow and bring attention to missed words and sneaky errors.

As an editor, it’s important you’re honest and give critical and actionable feedback. How do you offer this feedback so a writer doesn’t take it personally?
Diplomacy. I aim to provide valuable feedback through constructive criticism AND praise. By pointing out a writer’s strengths and showing in their manuscript where something works well, they learn and grow. On a scale of one to ten, with one being a Positive Pollyanna and ten being brutally honest, I’m probably a moderate four. I’m a professional and my training emphasized how to provide actionable feedback tactfully.

Are there any other tips or thoughts you would like to add about editing or publishing?
Adding on to that last question, I’d like to encourage writers to expect good and bad feedback. But they shouldn’t react right away in order to avoid an emotionally defensive response. Edits can be overwhelming. After initially receiving feedback, it’s a good idea to set it aside and digest. See what resonates and come back to it later to make a plan for revisions. Most importantly, do not give up.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk about something I’m so passionate about. 😊


Thank you, Kimberly, for your time!

How to find Kimberly:

Website: https://revisiondivision.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RevisionDiv
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/revisiondivkimberly/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2376033425801031

May Recap and June Plans

Another month has come and gone, and I still feel like I’m trudging through quicksand, though, to be fair, I have gotten a lot done in the past couple of weeks. It’s more of a personal thing that I feel like I’m not making any progress when, in fact, I’ve made so much I’m freed up to write again. That I won’t have room in my publishing schedule until 2024 isn’t a concern, more of a blessing in disguise as I’m plotting out a new trilogy and having a difficult time. I feel like I may be broken since I haven’t written anything in months and the momentum I’ve had for the past two years is definitely gone. It is true, what they say, it’s better to have written as I have really enjoyed editing these books over the past few months, but I also like to write and I need to have at least a loose outline of all three books (for breadcrumb purposes) first before I can really dig into writing book one.

Despite a new diagnosis of a yeast infection (I swear, the fun never stops with me these days) I managed to format, write blurbs for, and create six covers for my King’s Crossing series. I’ve ordered proofs for them all, and here are the covers.

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of these, but like I’ve mused in other blog posts, I may have been too far ahead of myself for these to stick. I’m hoping covers for billionaire books don’t do a complete 180, though illustrated covers are becoming more and more popular. I just don’t think that an illustrated cover would provide an accurate depiction of what I write about (high angst), so at least I don’t have to worry about that no matter how heavy the cover trends lean in that direction.

Last week, I spent more time than necessary (because they changed their platform since I’ve last used it) setting up a Facebook ad for Captivated by Her, which was released on the 1st. I don’t expect anything to come of it; I’m still getting my new pen name out there and unfortunately paying to do it. I have just a little under 200 on my newsletter subscriber list, and surprisingly, I’ve only lost four. I did go ahead and offer them an ARC of Captivated, but only 26 subscribers took me up on it. That’s fine, even if just one or two of them leave an honest review that they liked it, it will be a nice gauge into if my books will resonate with anyone. So for now, I’m running a very small budget FB ad to Captivated, turned my ad back on for my reader magnet to build my list, and I’m running a couple of Amazon ads that don’t have much traction yet. I didn’t think an ad to a preorder would, I just wanted the algorithms to pick me up.

I might buy a newsletter promo with ENT or Fussy Librarian for Captivated when Addicted to Her comes out in August. I don’t have a preorder for it because I’m reluctant to put something on preorder for that long. It would just sink on Amazon because nobody wants it, so I feel it’s better to wait and do what I did this time–put it on preorder for a week so I have a link and in that time I can run some ads to it so Amazon knows it exists. Am I doing this right? I have no idea. I won’t know for a long time if I’m going to make any money off these books, but underneath the need for financial validation, I sure had fun the past two years writing them all.

There is always TikTok. Apparently you need to be on there ASAP if you’re a romance writer, but honestly, I’d rather throw money at ads for now than learn how to work another platform. I still don’t have a complete grasp on MailerLite and all it can do (I have a course by Holly Darling I bought during a Black Friday sale that I haven’t taken yet, either), and if I wanted to put time into anything else, I need to learn how to participate in Bookfunnel promotions because I’m paying for the privilege.

For now, I’m just happy to be writing again, even if I’m having a bit of trouble plotting, but I’ll get back into it easy enough. I’m also trying to figure out what more I can offer on this blog. I’m going to look into an indie editor series because besides my author updates, there just isn’t a whole lot going on in indie publishing right now. TikTok is all the rage and I could experiment just for the sake of telling you about it, but with only one book out anyway, I feel it would be a waste of time. So, we’ll see what happens. I won’t stop writing, but I like being able to offer content that’s helpful. I guess I’ll be brainstorming more than just plot for the next little while.


What I’m loving right now:

When I sent a newsletter out hoping to prompt the readers who downloaded Captivated into leaving a review, I knew there was a way to create a link that would send the reader straight to the review page instead of just asking them to hunt for it on the book’s product page. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur usually has all the answers, and indeed, he has a YouTube video on how to create a review link, and also a blog post that explains it a bit better. This was a golden find for me and so helpful for your readers if you ever need to ask for reviews!

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Author Update

Mondays always seem to come around so fast! Last week was a wash as I was still sick, and today was supposed to be the day I posted a video on how I made one of my romance covers in Canva. Last week went by in a haze of chores, sleep, and work, so I will do my best to get something figured out and post for next week.

As for today, I don’t have much going on. Everyone is slipping into the lazy days of summer. My Clubhouse marketing chat is on hiatus until the Fall, and I’m missing the only podcast I used to listen to as they wrapped up to pursue other things. I’m still trying to figure out why I feel like crap even after my surgery, and I have another appointment on Tuesday. It would go a long way if I could feel better, and I’ve been really struggling lately to remain upbeat and positive. Twitter isn’t the fun, supportive place it used to be, and it’s been difficult not to feel alone. Not just in the writing part of it, but in my personal life as well. My fiancé and I broke up after a five year long distance relationship and my son moved out to live with his dad to have a built-in ride to work for his summer job.

I’ve had a lot of transitioning to deal with lately, and when I clicked publish on my paperback the other day, I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment (though if you wanna see how pretty the cover looks, click here). I also felt a bit let down as I don’t really have anyone to share that with. Most of my writing friends with whom I was close faded off, and the one person who would have been my biggest supporter is gone. It’s not that I’m complaining about any of that. I like being alone–I just have to get used to all these changes and find joy where I can. And of course, I don’t want to turn this blog into a Debbie Downer’s journal. I’ll bounce back one of these days; I just need time to adjust.

I have been working on my books, though that is another area of my life where sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or why it even matters. I love writing and I love publishing, so I won’t stop any time soon (it’s what saved me the past two years), but a friend of mine on Twitter yesterday and I were talking about crap books and how it seems anyone can get anyone to buy anything if you make a video about it on TikTok. It’s pretty sad when you see people posting their sales figures in the author groups on Facebook, and the books are no better than first drafts. I’m not saying all books are like that, or that I would resent any author their success, but it is disheartening for anyone who puts their heart and soul into their books only for them to sink while “other” books do well. In the end, it will be their loss because with the number of books out there for readers to choose from, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and in most instances, a first draft won’t cut it. So I can feel bad for myself now, but I’ll build my book business on good books and be proud of that.

I haven’t done anything with my paperback on Amazon yet besides claim my author page and add my photo and bio. Captivated by Her hasn’t clicked in with Goodreads or Bookbub yet, and I don’t want to manually add my book to Goodreads because I know from past experience it will eventually auto-populate, then I’ll have two of the same book on there. I’m also wondering if I want to go through with paying for Booksprout for reviews, and if I want to offer Captivated to my newsletter subscribers in exchange for a review. From what others have said in the past, I don’t think I would get many takers anyway, but reviews are important, and it makes the most sense to ask my newsletter subscribers and get into the habit of treating them like the VIPs I want them to be. I also hate that Booksprout went to a paid only service, and even at the cheapest rate ($9.00/month) the quality of the reviews in the past wasn’t worth it.

I went ahead and set up Captivated by Her in Bookfunnel so I have the link available if I decide to offer it in my newsletter. There is an option where you can put an expiration date on the link, so I might just tell my subscribers they have two days to download it and then in two weeks’ time email them a review link so they can post a review on Amazon if they want. This book is the first in a duet, anyway, so I’m not looking to push this book very hard. I’ll run some ads when the ebook is live, but I’ll use a couple of free days in Kindle Select and buy some promos when the second book comes out.

What I’m waiting for is for my book to show up on Goodreads so I can claim my author profile under my pen name. I may never be wide, so claiming my page on Bookbub may never be something I care about. Bookbub ads are great if you’re wide and your book is on sale, but I’m hearing it’s still difficult be approved for a BookBub feature if you’re in KU, so not sure if building my profile on there is something I want to waste energy on.

That’s about all I’m doing right now. I’m working on my covers for the series I’m going to release next year–titling these books is already giving me fits and doing the covers is probably pointless right now anyway because who knows what the cover trends will be in January. i just need to put them together so I can order proofs. Reading them in paperback form is the last step I need to finish editing them and then I can finalize everything this fall.

Despite being down about my current situation, I’m still working, trying to stay relevant and keep on top of things in the industry. There just isn’t a whole lot going on, which can be a really good thing, but it also doesn’t set me up to talk about much on here except what I’m doing with trying to get my pen name off the ground. I still think I made the right choice there, but I forgot how long it took to get everything situated.

So, I guess that’s it from me. This blog post is posting late today because Work was busy and then I went to my sister’s last night for dinner and a movie. By the time I got home, I was just ready for bed. We can’t be winning all the time.

Have a great week, everyone!

Guest Blogger: Six Great Reasons to Write Short Fiction by Vera Brook

SIX GREAT REASONS TO WRITE SHORT FICTION

By Vera Brook

You may have glanced at the title of this post and shrugged. “I write novels and series. I’m not interested in short fiction.” Maybe you even rolled your eyes. “It’s just not worth my time.” 

But wait! Don’t go away yet. I promise there are great reasons to consider writing short fiction alongside your novels and series—both to hone your craft and to market your longer fiction and reach new readers. So let’s dive in and discuss six of these reasons, shall we? 

Actually, it might be helpful to first define short fiction. I dwell in the world of science fiction and fantasy, and in that world, we break down short fiction into four main lengths. Flash fiction is typically 250 to 1000 or 1500 words; a short story is between1500 and 7500 words (with 3000 to 5000 words considered a sweet spot); a novelette is 7500 to 17500 words; and a novella is 17500 to 40000 words. Anything longer than 40000 words is a novel. Other genres may use different definitions, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with some short fiction in your genre. 

I also want to mention from the start: if you want to write short fiction, you need to read short fiction first. Not a huge amount, but some. It will help a great deal. If you find a story that absolutely blows you away, you can study it for craft and apply what you learn in your own writing. And by searching for short fiction to read, you will also discover markets where you could submit and publish your own short fiction later on. 

How do you find short fiction to read? There is a rich plethora of short fiction magazines and anthologies out there, some in print, some digital, and many available in both formats. My favorite tool to search for magazines and anthologies (to submit to but also to read), and to track my submissions, is the Submission Grinder. You can search by genre and length, pay rate, response time, etc. And it’s absolutely free to use (although you could support the creator to help the good thing going). The Best of… anthologies are also a great choice, as long as they are pretty recent. 

Okay. Let’s first talk about the benefits of writing short fiction in terms of craft, and then about all the different ways to use short fiction to market your longer works and widen your readership.

Craft reason #1: Practice and improve your openings

sketch of woman sitting at desk. orange background text: craft reason 1: practice and improve your openings

The openings of novels are crucial. When a reader comes across your book on Kobo or Amazon, they’re very likely to open the ebook sample and read the first chapter or so. If the opening grabs them and pulls them in, they will get the book. The same happens in physical bookstores. The reader picks up a paperback and reads the first few pages. 

The opening is crucial! But how often do we get to practice writing the opening? If you write long novels, not very often. Just once per novel. Short fiction lets you practice writing different kinds of openings and get better and better at them. A super helpful skill that you can directly apply when writing your next novel.

Craft reason #2: Practice and improve your endings

sketch of woman sitting at desk, green background, text: craft reason 2: practice and improve your endings

If the opening sells your current book, the ending sells your next book (or so the saying goes, and I think it’s true). But as novelists, how many endings do we get to write? Not many. Again, just one per book. Short fiction lets us write lots of endings and different kinds of endings, and as with openings, practice makes perfect, and the improvement is directly applicable to novel writing. Stronger, more effective endings could also make a huge difference for the success of your series, where the read-through rate is critical and you want to do your best to compel the reader to jump directly to the next book in the series. 

Craft reason #3: Experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

sketch of woman sitting at desk: aqua background, text: craft reason 3: experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

Maybe you write crime mystery and want to try adding a speculative element, like a futuristic technology or a paranormal ability. Or vice verse: you write speculative fiction but want to venture into the psychological thriller territory. 

However, it can be daunting to jump straight into writing a novel in a new genre. Short fiction is a perfect playground to try it out and see what happens, without investing too much writing time and effort. In fact, even reading short fiction in a new genre is a great way to get the lay of the land, including popular tropes that you could play with and subvert as you wish—as long as that short fiction is current, published in the last decade or so. 

So far so good? Great. Onward to using short fiction for marketing!

Marketing reason #1: Put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

sketch of woman sitting at desk: orange background, text: Marketing reason 2: put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

Let me ask you this: What’s the biggest challenge for writers today? It’s discoverability, isn’t it? 

Whether you are self-published, with a small indie press, or with a traditional publisher, it is incredibly tough to get readers to find your book. I don’t know how many millions of books there are on Amazon, but it’s an astronomical number, and advertising is expensive. 

If only there was a way to reach the readers in your genre—the readers who are most likely to enjoy your writing—and introduce yourself to them… Well, there is! Short fiction magazines in that genre. If you can get your story published in a magazine like that, guess what will happen? Hundreds or thousands of readers who already love the genre will read your story and discover you, the author, and all your other books! I discovered some of my favorite authors that way—by reading their short story in a magazine first. 

If your flash fiction or short story or novelette gets published in a top tier market, you will also get paid a nice amount; and even better, if the contract is good, you will get paid for only for the first-publication rights and anthology rights, but you can republish your short fiction in your own collection later on. 

Imagine that! A terrific promotion—and you get paid for it, instead of the other way around. 

To be fair, the best magazines and anthologies are competitive. Don’t expect to send them your first story and get an acceptance email (although if you do, congrats!). Rather, think of short fiction as part of your writing journey. It will take time to write good short fiction; it will take time to get it published. But I truly believe it’s worth it. In fact, personally, I consider writing and submitting short fiction as important to my writing career as my novels or series, at least for now. 

One last idea: When you are done with a series, consider writing a short story in that world. In most magazines, if your story gets published, it would be accompanied by your short bio, and the bio could mention your series and encourage the readers to pick up book one. Be careful not to include spoilers in the short story. And just to be safe, you could center it on a minor character or event, rather than the major character or the main story arc. But if your story is compelling and intrigues the readers enough to want to know more, you could gain new fans for your entire series!

Marketing reason #2: Reader magnets to build your newsletter list

sketch of woman sitting at desk, mauve background, text: marketing reason 2: reader magnets to build your newsletter list

Short fiction also works great as a reader magnet (for new readers to sign up for your author newsletter). By definition, short fiction is short, and therefore takes less time and effort to write than a novel. This makes it easier to give it away for free than an entire novel, especially when you are just starting out and only have a few novels published (like I do). And a fun short story or novelette can still entertain the readers and, if they like it, bring them one step closer to becoming your fans. 

The last bit of advice on reader magnets: Use a strong, compelling short story. It should be as good as you can make it in terms of your writing craft, even if it’s short. Don’t forget that the goal is to woo and impress a new reader enough to read more of your work and become a loyal fan over time. A careless, poorly edited short story will not cut it, and you could actually lose a reader that way.   

Marketing reason #3: Gifts to reward your loyal fans and keep them engaged in between books in a series.

sketch of woman sitting at desk, yellow background, text: marketing reason 3: gift for fans to keep them engaged between books in a series

Another terrific way to use short fiction is as a gift for your loyal fans, already on your mailing list. And one time when such a gift might come in handy? When you are in between books in a series, and your fans are anxiously awaiting the next installment. Unlike with a short story that you would submit to a magazine, for new readers who are not familiar with the series, here you are writing primarily for fans who know the characters and the plot inside out. You may still want to be careful with major spoilers, just in case a few readers are behind in their reading. But you have more leeway in terms of what you could refer to in the short fiction, and it might be fine to assume quite a bit of knowledge of the series already. 

A quick mention, since this post is already getting long: Many authors use short fiction as Patreon rewards for their supporters. It’s a similar idea to gifting a short story to your fans through your newsletter. And the best part? Whenever you gift short stories to your fans, once you have enough stories, you could publish a collection of your short fiction! How cool is that? I adore individual-author collections. And it’s another book to your name, so helps with discoverability too. 

One last thing I wanted to mention: Nowadays, both reader magnets and gift copies are distributed electronically, and that’s especially true for short fiction, which may be too short to publish as a paperback. So basically, you would use an ebook version of your short story or novella to give away. You want to make sure that the ebook is correctly formatted, including epub and mobi files, but the distribution can get complicated pretty quickly because of all the reading devices out there. So my recommendation would be to use a service like BookFunnel where you can open an account (for about $20 a year currently), upload the files with your short story (you will need a cover!), set up a landing page for the readers to download the ebook, and then share the link. 

That’s all for now. I think I ran over the word limit a little bit. (Oops. Sorry, Vania. I hope that’s okay.)

Before I let you go, here are a few of my favorite resources on the craft and the marketing uses of short fiction. Best of luck with your writing!


Resources:

Writing Excuses podcast – a long-running podcast about writing and publishing fiction, with the focus on helping the listeners improve their craft and become better writers. 

Mary Robinette Kowal’s guest lecture on writing short stories – part of a series of lectures on the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy directed by Brandon Sanderson.

Kristin Kathryn Rusch’s lecture “How to Write A Short Story: The Basics” – practical advice on crafting short fiction from an award-winning, multi-genre professional writer and editor.

The Submission Grinder – a free online tool to search for short fiction markets and track your own submissions. 

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)’s collection of model publishing contracts – includes anthology and magazine contracts. 


Vera Brook is a science fiction, fantasy, and romance writer, and the author of the SAND RUNNER SERIES. Her latest book, THE KISS, a paranormal love story, came out in November 2021. She’s working on two entirely new series, a standalone novel, and a whole lot of short fiction. You can learn more about her writing on her website at verabrook.com. She also tweets about her writing journey, books she loves, and things that interest her at @VeraBrook1.

Copyright © 2022 by Vera Brook

Guest Blogger: The Pitfalls and Perks of Being a Multi-Genre Author by Barbara Avon

The Pitfalls and Perks of Being a Multi-Genre Author

I’m going to speak from my heart in this blog post about the pitfalls and perks of being a Multi-genre Author. Who am I, if not honest and true to myself? In turn, I’m going to convey those feelings to you. Keep in mind that these are my personal thoughts on the subject. This article is not about trying to sway your opinion. It’s about my personal experience. 

The pitfalls – There are none. 

The perks – There are many.

I’ll start by elaborating on the fact that I don’t feel like there are any pitfalls (or roadblocks) to being an author who writes in various genres. I consider myself more of a “storyteller”. I’m like the grandmother who beckons the children to sit at her feet and asks them what kind of story they would like to hear. 

I never considered “boxing myself in” when it came to writing stories. There are infinite stories to tell, and so far, I have explored writing romance, horror (including paranormal and psychological), fantasy (time travel), literary fiction, thriller, and even children’s books. Compare writing in multiple genres to dreaming. Do you dream in only one colour? Do your dreams encapsulate only one type of scenario? Probably not. I let my mind take me where it wants to take me. I let my imagination flow freely. Being an Independent (or Indie) author, I am allowed that freedom of expression. I don’t report back to anyone (i.e., an agent, or publisher) to ensure that my story fits a trend. My name is not synonymous with any one genre; in fact, my name, and brand, are synonymous with being multi-genre. (Or that is my goal at least.) I don’t wish to be know as “Barbara Avon – Romance Author”. I wish to be known as “Barbara Avon – Author.”

I’m often asked this question: “Do you use your real name across genres?” 

Yes, I do. 

The inevitable follow up question to that is: “Does it hinder or help?”

So far, I have not had any reader tell me that they are put off by my choice to write in different genres. In fact, I had a very good friend honour me by saying that I inspired them to try their hand at writing different genres, which brings me to “the perks”. 

I can revel in different worlds. I allow myself to explore not just a romantic situation, but a horrific one, or one that will let me travel in time, or one where I thwart the evil villain. Is this a “perk”? Yes, because I’m going to put it simply: Life is too short for me to prohibit myself or allow myself to stifle my creativity. 

I started this journey later in life. I was 42 when I self-published my first book. Growing up, I used my imagination to escape the doldrums of daily life. I was a shy kid, and especially so when I switched schools and became the “new kid”. I was often alone, reading, listening to music, dreaming. I started writing angsty poetry in my teenage years. When I was awarded an A + for my short story in high school English Class, that was it. I caught the writing bug and knew that one day I would write a novel. What is my biggest regret? It’s that I didn’t start sooner. That’s what I mean about “life being too short”. I had a lot of time to make up for. My first three books are romantic suspense, but (inspired by the great Jack Finney), I thought to myself, “Why can’t I write time travel too? Why can’t I at least try?” They are merely words. Place them strategically one after and another, and eventually, you’ve created something out of nothing. I soon realized that I could write time travel, and then horror, and I even became a serial killer in a book or two. 

I have a box of all my books. It’s a time capsule, of sorts. I want it passed down to family throughout generations, and between the pages, they will catch glimpses of who I was. Because there are many facets to a person’s personality, there is so much to learn about me through my words. Yes, it’s fiction, but authors leave a piece of themselves on the page.

I want to state a very obvious perk: I have the chance to reach more readers. I have the chance to romance someone, or scare someone, or help someone skip through decades. When I started this journey, I had a group of loyal readers (who resided locally) who read each of my books, regardless of the genre. It was clear to me that I wasn’t chained by genre, and the creative freedom remains exhilarating to this day. As an Indie I also have control over cover design, marketing; everything that has to do with publishing a book, from start to finish. I am my own publisher, but let’s face it, readers don’t care if I’m Indie. They want a good story, period. As a reader myself, I want a good story, period. Fiction is our greatest escape, and it thrills me to know that I can help someone escape their life, if even for a few hours.

Here’s my advice if it’s advice that you seek. Do it. If you are a horror writer who has always wanted to delve into fantasy, do it. If you prefer to write under a pen name, do that too. When it comes to pursuing a desire, I’ve always said that I’d rather regret something I did, than regret never doing it at all. 

What’s next for me? After publishing a romance last November, I am currently working on a psychological horror. Later this year, I’ll be publishing another romance. After that, a Christmas story (as is my tradition every year). I’m also asked, “Is there any genre you won’t tackle?” Yes, I will never be able to write Science Fiction. (Side note – I leave science out of time travel stories.) I also would never be able to write Historical Fiction (1900s and earlier), or Regency Romances. (I’m in awe of my fellow authors who are able to expertly write in those genres.) However, I do want to try my hand at romantic comedy soon. I also love marrying genres! No one says that you can’t write a horror story with a romantic subplot. In fact, it’s my brand: “Love is the most remarkable magic – Even in horror.”

When will I stop writing? Never. Not as long as I have my senses and use of my hands. My books will last forever, but I will not. That is the greatest perk of being multi-genre. I’m immortal through my books. I was able to traverse multiple different worlds – and what a ride it was.  

Barbara Avon – Multi-Genre Author
Browse all my books here — Barbara Avon on Direct.me 

Barb’s new release, R E V I V E D is available now!
Check out R E V I V E D and other titles on her Amazon author page.
Happy Reading!

Lack of Productivity. What’s causing it, and how to fix it.

I’ve seen the topic of productivity a lot lately, maybe because we’re still in what’s considered the beginning of the new year and we’re all scrambling to keep up with New Year’s resolutions and tackle the goals we’ve set for ourselves. I haven’t specifically written about productivity, though I did write a blog post about writer’s block, which is akin to the weird uncle of the family when we talk about writing productivity.

I guess by now it’s a running joke that the hardest thing a writer can do is sit down and write. Butt in chair. Carving out that time. But I have never, in these six years I’ve been a part of the industry, understood this. I get writing is hard, and I’ve come to learn this about myself while writing and/or editing–If I hit a rough patch in dialogue, or say I’m echoing a word in a sentence and I want to rewrite the sentence to take out one of the words and I’m at a loss as to how to do it, instead of pushing through, I’ll flip over to Twitter. That’s avoidance. For now, I let myself do it because so far it hasn’t hampered my output. Normally, after I scroll for a second and see the same old drivel, I’ll flip back to my manuscript and keep going, but it can interrupt my flow.

I’ve seen a lot of tweets about productivity or lack thereof, and, unfortunately, if you’re writing to publish, and more importantly, if you’re writing to publish to build an author career, you kinda need it.

One of the hardest lessons you’ll ever learn in this industry is you don’t have nothing if you don’t have a book, and over time, you need several if you want to find any traction. If you’re writing a series, you have way more marketing power behind you if your series is done. You can’t accomplish that if you’re not writing.

What are some causes of lack of productivity? Here’s a short, though not comprehensive list, of what I’ve seen out in the writing community:

You’d rather do something else. This actually tells me a lot about how you feel about writing and publishing, and if you truly would rather watch TV, read a book, go for a drive, or make dinner, then honestly think about stepping back. Of course, it would help to know the reasons why you’d rather do something else. Maybe you’re not seeing the results you want, or you’ve lost interest. You started writing as a hobby and you’d rather pick up a different hobby like crocheting or knitting, or get back into exercise. If you’d choose to go to the dentist over sitting down and writing the next chapter, give yourself permission to stop writing. No one is forcing you, and if you hate what you’re writing, chances are, your readers will be able to feel that when they read your book. Move on. It’s okay.

You don’t like what you’re writing. Starting a new project is okay as long as you can finish something. If you lose interest in your WIP at the halfway point every time, something else is going on with more than just productivity. Maybe it’s a craft issue because you get bogged down in the saggy middle. Maybe finding an alpha reader who will read as you write, or a critique partner can help you stay motivated and give you tips and ideas on how to finish. The problem with learning craft is that you have to write to learn it. This is the same for characters, too. If you hate your characters, you have to figure out why. Is she a whiny snot? Doesn’t act her age? Is he an alphahole without any redeeming qualities? Are they not doing anything interesting? Find some feedback from somewhere, or refresh your creative well and read for a while. Start a new project, sure, but if you’re going to add to the 20+ WIPs you already have on your computer, you need to do some digging and figure out what the problem is and how you can fix it.

You have no idea what to do with it once you’re done. I’m reading Zoe York’s Romance Your Goals, and in it, of course she talks a lot about setting goals–setting realistic goals, and goals you have to work to reach. I have a lot of thoughts about goals, productivity, and strategies and tactics that will help you achieve those goals. If you have 10 finished books on your computer, they won’t do anything if you don’t know what you need to do with them. More than covering them with a good cover, writing a good blurb, and putting it up on Amazon. I mean, do you have a newsletter? Do you know an ads platform well enough you won’t lose money? Do you have a launch plan for what you’re going to do when your book is done? If you don’t, that could be causing you some productivity issues. If you have no idea what you’re going to do with it once your book is finished, there’s no real reason to finish it then, is there? That way of thinking was pretty much me for the past two years, but instead of lack of productivity, I think I had too much. That is a problem in itself because now I have lots of books and still no real actionable plan to maximize those books and pay myself for all the time it took me to write them.

Maybe you have an idea, but it’s too overwhelming to think about. We talk a lot about a five year plan, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what we’re eating for dinner in five hours, never mind where we want our careers to be in five years. If that look into the future terrifies you, ask yourself why. Writing and publishing is a long game, but if that look into the future bogs you down, shorten the timeframe. Maybe look to the next two years, plan out the books you want to write, be it three a year, two a year, whatever you can handle, and let yourself get excited about what’s coming in the immediate future.

You’re burnt out. I think I’ve mentioned this a lot on here, when I heard Jo Lallo say on the Six Figure Authors podcast that there is no faster way to get burnt out than when you work hard for little to no pay off. I’ve you’ve been working for a months, maybe years, and your career is in the same place as it was before, that can affect your productivity. You might wonder why you’re still trying to make a go of it, and you’re thinking about giving up. This conversation goes back to goals–what you want out of your writing and more importantly, how you’re going to get it.

You don’t have any writing friends to cheer you on or commiserate your failures. You’ve probably heard me mention this a time or two. A lot of my friends I made when I first joined the writing community are gone. They dropped off because they don’t write anymore, or we don’t talk for some reason or other. I was friends with a woman for a long time until I realized our friendship was all about her, and her writing, and her roadblocks, and whenever I would say something positive about me, or my books, she blatantly ignored it. I faded off from that friendship and a couple others. While I don’t recommend staying in a friendship (or any type of relationship!) that takes more than it gives, replace those friends with other people or you’ll look up from your laptop one day and see that you are alone. It’s tough to write and be proud of your successes if there is no one to share them with. Take that opportunity to reach out to other authors in your genre and make connections and friends there. Those relationships will be more meaningful because they’ll understand the ups and downs of writing and publishing in that genre. There are so many sprinting groups and people who are willing to be accountability partners. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel if you have people to reach out to when you want to share your goals and small successes.

At the core of productivity is passion. You have to have passion for what you do, and joy and the love of writing will keep you coming back to your laptop and your characters. Sometimes other things will get in the way, but ultimately, if writing matters to you, you’ll find a way to keep going.

Good luck!

End of the Year Wrap Up! Goodbye, 2021!

I always look forward to the end of the year wrap up! I love looking back to all that I accomplished over the year and making a mental note of what I can do better during the next year.

Here’s a look at what I did during 2021:

Books/Novels/WIPS

Number of books published: 0
I didn’t publish anything this year. In fact, I haven’t published anything since February of 2020 when the last of my Rocky Point Wedding series released. And even as I was releasing those, I had been writing my first person books, so in my head, I had essentially already moved on. I am planning to release in the spring of 2022, but we’ll see how that goes. I had every intention of publishing this year, but I got too caught up in writing to take the time to do any production or marketing of anything I’ve done.

Number of books written: 6.5
I’m 57k into the second book of the duet I plan to release in the spring, so I can’t count it as a full book I’ve written this year. I won’t finish it before December is over, but that’s fine. I’ve written approximately 560,000 words this year (which is 30,000 less than last year, ha!) and here is the list of couples and the month I started their book:
Finn and Juliet (book two of a series I haven’t completed. I wrote Colton and Elayna, book one, in November/December of 2020) January 2021
Fox and Posey (Faking Forever, standalone) April 2021 This book is loaded into KDP and all I need to do is hit publish
Dominic and Jemma (standalone) May 2021
Brady and Allie (My Biggest Mistake, standalone) July 2021 This book is also complete and loaded into KDP
Sam and Lily (standalone) August 2021
Rick and Devyn (Book one of Cedar Hill Duet) October 2021
Beau and Talia (Book two of Cedar Hill Duet) November 2021; will finish January 2022

I have a small gap between Finn and Juliet and Fox and Posey because this year I had a health thing with my girly parts. I’ve blogged about that a little bit–no one wants to hear about my health issues–but I can’t believe I’ve been dealing with consequences from using the wrong dryer sheets for 12 months. I had a reaction to Snuggle (and I only realized that was what it was after hours of reading through women’s online health forums) which gave me Bacterial Vaginosis, and I am still dealing with unbalanced vaginal pH even though my infection is gone. Suffering from that, getting it diagnosed, and trying to figure out treatment and a cure took up a bit of time (and headspace), but, let me tell you, I am very proud of myself for writing through it and not giving in to the crappy mindset dealing with this has put me in. Am I feeling better now? Yes and no. I’m feeling better than I did at the beginning of the year but not completely. I am in a better place mentally because at least I know what I’m dealing with and doing what I can to get back to normal. For three months I didn’t understand what was going on because I had no idea dryer sheets could do that. I’m hoping my body can right itself, and that 2022 will be better for me than just selling books.


I haven’t stopped running ads to my backlist. Even though I won’t write 3rd person again in the foreseeable future, running low cost-per-click ads doesn’t hurt as long as I keep an eye on them and don’t lose money.

Here are my stats for ads and royalties:

I didn’t quite make $1,000 this year, but what I did make was a surprise considering I haven’t published anything for a while, and I don’t promote that often. Ignore the 34 books. I have 10, but I have a couple of boxed sets, too.

As for Amazon ads, this is my year to date, and I’m actually pretty impressed that I made more than I spent in ads.

I stopped babysitting them, mainly because for a little while, Amazon didn’t mind the covers to my Rocky Point Wedding Series, and later they deemed them against their guidelines and my ads were suspended. That, as you can imagine, was a big disappointment, but by then, I was writing my 1st person billionaire stuff and I didn’t bother changing the covers. It was a huge lesson to keep Amazon’s guidelines in the back of your mind when designing your cover or hiring out. I was looking at premades not long ago, and some of the “billionaire” stock photo models were holding alcoholic drinks. (Rich guys sure like their aged whiskey, haha!) But those covers would never pass Amazon’s restrictions and you end up paying for a cover you can’t use to run ads. Anyway, so I stopped running a lot of ads to my books, which, in turn, didn’t translate well into sales. But, you live and learn and change your covers.

I spent another $25.00 on a promo when I created a boxed set to my Rocky Point series and ran it at the beginning of November. I didn’t earn the fee back. I did, but not on the boxed set, only sales overall, so I considered it a fail.

I used three free days for my Rocky Point boxed set just last weekend and gave away 41 boxed sets. Nothing to write home about, but I didn’t buy a promo for them. I usually grab a spot in a Freebooksy newsletter to promote my freebies, but I didn’t care enough, and I’ll be looking forward to something new in 2022.

That’s it for my books (and my health).

Website/Blog Stats

I blog every Monday and most Thursdays and since I’ve fallen into a schedule, I’m seeing growth little by little every year.

taken from my WordPress stats

A few days ago, WordPress just congratulated me on 6 years of blogging, and I can’t believe so much time has gone by. I truly enjoy blogging about my writing, publishing, and marketing experiences.

As you can see, even staying on topic and blogging consistently my growth is slow. Right now, I think I get about 30-50 visitors a day, and gain 1-2 new blog followers every time I post.

One thing I have learned this year is to have a goal to work toward, or you’re just ambling through the brush. I don’t have a plan for this blog except that I’ll keep writing and trying to help you all through the weeds of publishing and marketing by writing about my mistakes and what has worked for me. I have no plans to try to monetize it with ads or affiliate links. Writing a non-fiction book about indie publishing doesn’t interest me, nor does starting a podcast. I like blogging because if i don’t feel like writing fiction, I can come here and blog about whatever, and I’m still writing and keeping my fingers in the pie.

Probably one of the strangest things I’ve come across since publishing is how little indies care about what’s happening in the industry. It’s difficult (and time-consuming) to listen to podcasts, read other blog posts, and join in webinars, but I don’t understand how authors expect to make it in this business if they don’t know what’s happening. Maybe I’m the only one who enjoys it? I have no idea, but you can be sure I’ll always keep you posted!

What are my 2022 plans?

I will release next year. I said it this year, but I have to get over my fear of releasing to no one. I’m going to move forward with the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the past few years, and even if it takes another five, I’ll be in a better place in 2027 than I am right now. Nothing is a waste. You can’t succeed unless you fail, but as Jo Lallo said in an episode of the Six Figure Authors podcast, there is no greater reason for burnout than working hard without achieving some success.

One of the best podcast episodes I heard this year was when they talked about what they would do starting fresh if they had the knowledge they have now. It was really eye-opening and helped me plan out the next two years of releases. You can listen to it here:

Maybe they’ll give you some tips on how you can run your book business in 2022.


I’m not going to go into what I’m planning for next year. I’ve blogged about it quite a bit, and things change. What I have in place now might not work, but I am trying to make a writing and publishing schedule I can stick to without sucking the joy out of what I like to do most: write.

Probably the biggest lesson I learned about myself this year is that while I want to write for readers and start making money, I am afraid of turning something I love into something I have to do to pay bills. That might not happen, and even if I found moderate success, I like my day job and probably would never quit. There’s no point in worrying about something like that, but as I read books about writing and publishing systems, schedules, and all the talk about planners (HB90 is a popular one this year, y’all), it’s a concern that’s in the back of my mind I can’t quite pry loose. I guess we’ll see where this crazy business takes me.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s, and I’ll see you back here in 2022!

Until next time!

Monday Update and Editing a Series

Happy Monday!

It’s almost the end of October and there’s nothing better than fall weather in Minnesota! November is always fun because it’s my daughter’s birthday month (she’ll be 16!) and mine, too, but I won’t be sharing how old I am (haha!). I took Thursday off for Thanksgiving and I plan to make a turkey like I did last year–though I overcooked it and I’ll do better this time. There’s only two more months left of the year, but I don’t have any particular plan besides working on a new WIP because I miss writing. I could edit something, but I’m a little tired of that since I just read through and fixed some inconsistencies in my six-book King’s Crossing series and I need to cleanse my palette before more editing. I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo–I don’t need the motivation to get anything done, and the month is terrible for me all around. I do wish everyone who is participating very good luck, and I hope you all meet your goals!

Editing a Series

I didn’t have a plan for today’s blog post, but I did want to talk a little bit about how difficult it is to edit a series–especially if you don’t have help. You would think that after a few years of writing and publishing I would have enough coming in by now to afford an editor, but I don’t and the reality is, I’m not alone. Indies seem to make the same mistakes and that holds us back. Not always–some indies know exactly what to do to get to where they want to be–but others, such as myself, we flounder as we learn “the rules” of the publishing industry. What we don’t gain in royalties is made up in knowledge, but that’s small consolation when we were hoping our beloved hobby would help us pay a few bills here and there, or, at the very least, nudge us into the black after expenses.

Anyway, I have a beta reader who’s going to read them all for plot and consistency issues, and he’s a writer friend who will do it for free. He’s not a professional by any means, and all I can do is hope that I took care of everything on my end and that he catches the rest (if there is anything).

Because this blog is geared for the bootstrapping authors who pretty much do every little thing on their own like I do, I made a list of things that can make it easier on you if you’re editing a long series alone. No, it’s not optimal. I hope you have someone who can help you like I do (even if it’s just one person), but even if you do, you’re going to want to do the bulk of the work yourself to make it easier on the people who do take the time to help you.

Write them as quickly as you can. What was helpful was I didn’t spend a lot of time writing them, meaning, I didn’t leave a lot of time between books. I wrote them all in a smooth sequence that took about ten months because it’s all one gigantic story. There wasn’t time for me to forget anything, and if I had a question, I knew where to look because it hadn’t been that long ago I wrote it.

Use a series bible. I depend on my memory a lot more than I probably should. I remember eye color, hair color, features, pets. As I write, my characters become real people, and it’s easy to remember how they look if they are real to me. That doesn’t always mean things stay consistent, and during this last read through of my series I wrote down eye color, hair color, names, bits of background. You might already do this when you start a series or new book, and I do too, but this series was completed a while ago, and I’m not 100% sure where those notes are. I grabbed a new notebook and jotted down everything that was important. One of the saves I made this time around was thanks to my story bible. I had changed one of the character’s names from Alan to Nolan.

Give it a rest. I take huge chunks of time between each editing read. It’s how I can credit the two saves I found this time around. One save was at the beginning of book one when I mentioned the director of the FBI, but in later books I had demoted him to an agent. It was an easy fix, but I had already read these three times before I caught it. The other big save was when Zane, my MMC, knew something at the beginning of book three, but I didn’t reference in book two how he came into the knowledge. I had to reread almost the entire book to a) make sure I didn’t forget that someone told him what he knew and b) look for the perfect spot in which to write it in. Giving it a rest is probably the most helpful thing you can do, especially if you work on something else while you wait. If you can go back to the story with a clear head, it will feel like you’re reading it, maybe not for the first time, but the story won’t feel so tired.

Trust your reader. You may be tempted to repeat things, especially if your series is long, but all that does is give you opportunity to mess up details. I try not to repeat things, especially if I catch myself thinking it’s for the reader and doesn’t further the story along. Readers are smart–it’s why a lot of authors turn fans into beta readers. They have great memories. I remember one interview with Marie Force on the Self Publishing Show and she said she has betas who read her entire series over from book one whenever she writes a new book because they read for inconsistencies. If you have a beta reader who starts a 20 book series at book one to help you with plot issues, then you better believe she’s got a great memory. Readers picture your characters in their heads how they think they look. It’s not necessary to harp on the physical attributes of your characters. You don’t have to go over plot point after plot point, but if you do mention a gun in a drawer, you better remember to use it because your reader will remember you put it there. If you’re interested in listening to that interview with Marie, you can watch it here. She offers so much useful information, I loved it!

Proof your proofs. Lately I’ve also been listening to my books before I format them and create proof copies. Listening to your novel can point out syntax issues, typos (it’s funny when the voice says a word in a funky way), repeated words, etc. That’s a more micro editing step, and as you can tell, I’m more concerned with the bigger picture–especially when you’re dealing with so many books at once. I like listening to them, and I make the most changes when I take the time to listen. It’s a very time-consuming step.

Reading them in book form does something to my brain, and I find a lot of mistakes, both proofing-wise and content-wise. I binge them like a normal reader would, and since they feel like a book and smell like a book, they have a cover and all the back and front matter, it’s a different kind of reading experience. I used to print them out at Office Max, but that got to be too expensive and wasted paper. Creating a proof copy is cheaper, even if you pay for expedited shipping.


As far as using a software like ProWriting Aid, The Hemingway App, or Grammarly, I find those only work if you already know the rules and can decide for yourself if you’re going to take their suggestions or not. Not everyone has a degree in English, and I get that, but you should also learn the fundamentals or software like that will hurt more than they help. I don’t use any software, nor writing/plotting aids like Scrivener or Plottr. Among the edits I do on screen using plain old Word, listening to the manuscript, then proofing the proof, I hope I take care of most of the issues. At least, as far as I can tell. I don’t have any reviews indicating my books could use another edit (which is a terrible thing for a book–reviews won’t go away, even if you’ve done another editing sweep and your book is 100% better).

The biggest challenge I’ve had with editing these is boredom, and if your heart isn’t in it, that can make you miss things. I’m tired of reading them and taking time between edits helps. Not that I want to give anyone an impression I don’t like my own work. I doubt authors like EL James, Sylvia Day, or Stephenie Meyer are ever caught saying they’re tired of the characters that made them famous. I love them, but it will be nice to write something else while these breathe–again. I was hoping to start releasing them over the summer, but I don’t know how that will work out. I can only work as fast as I can work–especially alone.

Do I have any resources for editing a series? There’s nothing really out there that can help you edit alone. There’s no argument that a second set of eyes can go a long way–as long as that second set of eyes comes with a good memory and can remember inconsistencies and plot issues. The best you can do on your own is to remember your own work. Remember the plot points, remember your character arcs, write down plot twists so you can refer back to them later to keep details straight.

It’s tough not to have help, or be able to afford it. I have a couple of prolific readers in my real life who I know from work, and I maybe could ask them if they would be willing to proof the final copies before I hit Publish, but we’re talking six books here. I don’t know how long it would take to get through them all. It would probably be wise if one of them agrees, and I can afford to pay small fee, say $50 a book. That’s cheaper than you’ll find anyone to do it online. As I like to say, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I still have plenty to do before I reach that point. Until then, to give myself a break, I’ll write another stand alone. You can never go wrong writing another book!

I suppose that’s all I have for today! Have a great week everyone!