KU vs. Wide (Can you have your cake and eat it too?)

The answer is no.

I’ve ran into a couple of people on Twitter and in some Facebook author groups who are trying to use both KU and wide tactics, at the same time, to bring in readers. I love reading threads like this, not only because I’m curious what people are thinking and how they’re running their businesses, but sometimes I’ll chime in and try to help someone who seems to be genuinely floundering. I had a back and forth with this guy, and it made me think–can we play the Amazon KU vs. Wide game successfully, and if we can’t, who loses? The question the original tweeter asked is, Do you have your books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

Splitting up your books is never going to work well because you’re going to alienate one set of readers somehow. Enrolling book one of a series in KU and publishing the rest of the books in that same series wide is a terrible idea, but they think:

a) the KU readers will buy the rest of the books in the series and
b) the wide readers will buy all the books anyway

Not only is this just plain old being a jerk and trying to game the system, but:

1) KU readers don’t buy. They already pay for a KU subscription–which is the whole point of paying the subscription fee, and
2) Not everyone reads on a Kindle or uses the Kindle app, which is the whole point of going wide, right? To reach the readers who read on a Nook or uses the Apple Books app. Or likes Kobo.

I wondered why these authors didn’t want to mark their first book at .99 or even free and ask Amazon to price match, but then I realized it’s because they would make more money on page reads (a 250 paged book brings in about $1.10 if a reader reads the whole thing) and more than what Amazon pays out for a .99 cent book. (KDP pays only a 35% royalty on a book priced that low.)

So they really are trying to game the system. The only thing is, it’s the readers they are trying to bring into their fanbase that are hurt. If you want to appeal to readers, you have to think like them. I have a KU subscription, and just the other day, I saw a Facebook ad from a wide author I was curious about who was giving away a first-in-series. I downloaded it and read it, and had I wanted to continue the series, I could have bought the others, but I didn’t. The book didn’t grab me enough that I wanted to continue. That’s another thing these authors don’t think about trying to game the system–your writing has to be TOP NOTCH to make a reader shell out money to keep reading. I mean, that’s a no-brainer anyway, but had her series been in KU, I would have read the next one even though the first book didn’t engage me all that much. But to buy them, there are three more in the series, each priced at $4.99, that would have been a costly stretch for me. Fifteen dollars to finish a series where the first book didn’t grab me… ah call me cheap like the guy in the tweet, but that’s just way too much. (And if I were to pay that for a book–I would go to Barnes and Noble and buy a beautiful hardcover by an author I know I’ll enjoy.)

You might be wondering where I’m going with this, and it’s this: I’m obviously not her reader. With her books having 1,500 reviews a piece, she knows who her readers are, and they are willing to pay for each book. True, giving away a free book can definitely bring in new readers, but you are taking the chance and if you don’t hit the mark, you’ll lose those new readers just as quickly as you brought them in.

When it comes to building a fanbase, you are much better off focusing your energy on doing things the right way than spending all your time scheming the best way to “pull one over on Amazon.” This could stem from a hatred of Amazon–no one likes having to be exclusive to gain the rewards of participating in KU. But while you think you’re being smart, what you’re doing is hurting readers who want to read your books. KU readers aren’t cheap–they just aren’t your readers.

What can you do if you’re wide? How can you reach the maximum number of readers? Well, if you’re going on the assumption that readers are, indeed, cheap, and don’t want to pay for books, yet you want those vile creatures as your readers (I’m kidding, kind of), Kobo does have a subscription service similar to KU, but your books do not have to be exclusive. The only problem with enrolling your books into that program is that to have access to it, you have to publish directly with Kobo, not let a distributor like Draft2Digital or Smashwords publish on your behalf. Kobo Plus is similar to KU in that readers pay $9.99 for access to a library of books and Kobo pays the author based time and pages read. (You can look at the full article about royalties here.) So while you may not like the idea of losing out on KU readers, nurture Kobo readers, enroll your book into Kobo Plus and use your marketing tactics to tell people that your book is enrolled there. Readers don’t need a Kobo device to read Kobo books, either. The Kobo app is free to download and will turn any tablet or phone into a reading device. (Although, if you like to read in the tub like I do, some Kobo Readers are waterproof, and you can find the list here.)

Instead of complaining because you think the grass is greener on the other side, pick a side and water that patch. It’s easy to let your Kobo readers know your books are available in the Kobo Plus library. For all the time I spend on Twitter, never ever have I seen a tweeted ad like this:

It took me longer to decide on the Kobo logo to use than it did to put that together. (I already had the fake cover mockup made–I’m assuming if you promote your books you’ll already have a few graphics made, too.)

I mean, I guess there’s no help for the people who think it’s funny to try to pull the wool over Amazon’s eyes enrolling their books in Kindle Select while their books are published on other platforms:

Truly lovely human being, there. (And I would love it if Amazon reached out to that author and asked to be reimbursed for all the KU royalties he earned while breaking their exclusivity policy.)

This Twitter thread showed the true colors of some indie authors, and I didn’t like what I saw. Most blamed Amazon for having to stoop to their underhanded ways or crappy attitudes, but, no one, not one person, ever said you have to sell on Amazon, exclusive or not. And then we wonder why indies have such a bad reputation as authors, business owners, and publishers. You know, I feel sorry for people who have to deal with us. I really do.

There are a ton of wide resources out there, and I’ve blogged about them before. Don’t like KU, don’t be in it. Want the page reads, enroll in it, and suck it up you can’t be anywhere else. Plenty of authors make a good living off of KU, and plenty of authors make a good living wide. I can list a number of things that enable them to do it, and if you can’t, it would help your business to figure it out. (I’m not making money yet because I’ve spent the past four years learning what’s on that list. I can only hope making changes to the way I run my own business will help.)

Stop trying to have your cake and eat it too. All it will do is give you a stomachache.

Good luck!

Resources:

Wide

Killing It on Kobo by Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Wide for the Win by Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Wide for the Win Facebook Group

Amazon

Amazon Ads Unleashed: Advanced Publishing and Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors by Robert J Ryan

Amazon Ads for Authors: Tips and Strategies to Sell Your Books by Deb Potter

Amazon Ads FREE course by Dave Chesson

And if you just want to get back to basics and start over, David Gaughran put together a free course on starting from day one:

David Gaughran, Starting from Zero

The 80/20 rule and how you can apply it to your writing and marketing (The Pareto Principle)

The 80/20 rule is pretty simple. You want 20% of your effort to bring in 80% of your results. If you did 80% of work for only a 20% ROI, you’d get burnt out pretty fast. So what does this rule really mean? When it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, you have to figure out what will require the least amount of effort that will give you the most return. That can be different for everyone. Here are some tips to getting ahead with 20% of effort because no one has time to work for nothing.

  1. What are you writing? Bryan Cohen came up with an excellent analogy during the last webinar I listened to. He said, if you’re not selling books, take a look at what you’re writing. Is there a demand for it? He used underwater basket weaving memoirs as an example. If you’re writing a series about your experiences with underwater basket weaving but no one is into that, writing book after book isn’t going to help you find readers or increase sales. You’re just adding supply where there is no demand. You’re wasting a lot of effort for little return and eventually you’ll get burnt out and possibly give up. What can you do to fix that? Think about what you want to write. That is always important because you need to like what you’re writing. There are other genres I’m sure you like to write besides underwater basket weaving. If you can find what you enjoy writing and match that up with a genre that’s selling, you’ll be a lot closer to that 20% of effort because you won’t be spending so much time writing something that won’t sell.
  2. Find an ad platform that works for you. Beating your head against a wall trying to figure out Facebook ads and how to use them without going broke might be a huge waste of your time if Amazon’s auto placement ads bring in steady sales with a low cost-per-click. On the other hand, maybe your ads aren’t working at all because your cover isn’t on target for your genre and you’re getting plenty of impressions but no clicks. You’re wasting 80% of your effort trying to make ads work, and when you only gain maybe 20% in return, you’re either losing money on clicks that don’t generate sales or you’re wasting time fiddling with click cost, daily budget, and ad copy, which can be just as valuable, or even more so, if your life is packed and you have a limited amount of time in which to write. Amazon ads work well if your categories are set correctly, the keywords you chose when you published are accurate and relevant, and you have a good cover/title/blurb. Contrary to popular belief, if you show Amazon evidence you have a good book, they will help you promote it by showing your ad. Facebook ads work well if you can zero in on your target audience and can create a good ad–stock photo, headline, maybe an excerpt from your book. How you go about learning those platforms is up to you, as we all learn differently and click with different people teaching those classes.
  3. Choose your social media platforms wisely. If you’re on Twitter 80% of your “free” time and your engagement isn’t encouraging sales, maybe it’s time to rethink where you spend your time. It’s different if you’re on for social hour to relax or blow off steam, or if you’re wanting to make connections and network, or join in a chat, but tweeting promos all the time with no engagement (on your followers part) and no sales seems like a gigantic waste of time to me. You’d be better off creating a Facebook Author/Reader group and posting engaging content on there, or blogging about genre-specific topics to encourage your readers to buy your books. You could also start a newsletter and write a reader magnet, or if your reader magnet is old, create fresh content to spice things up. Whatever you do, if you’re not seeing a return for the investment of your time, it’s time to try something else.
  4. Make a list of what’s working… or not. If you’re like me, you haven’t been in the game long enough to know what works, or at it long enough to know what doesn’t. I’m not making much money. The five years I’ve been writing and publishing have been true lessons of what not to do. How can we make a list of the things that work if we don’t know them? Look to the pros. Everyone says newsletters are the key to a good launch and steady sales. I don’t have evidence to the contrary, so I started one. Writing without a niche didn’t give me very far, so I’m drilling down. Not networking in my genre has left me feeling lonely and I don’t have any opportunities for collaboration or newsletter swaps, so I’m joining in more. Those are all big mistakes, but if I correct those and experiment to see if those are things that will work for me, I can add them to the list.

Chances are, if you’re a writer, you can never go wrong with spending the most time writing your books. Building a back list can increase your overall sales, and consistently adding books to your front list will keep the algorithms at Amazon happy.

Ultimately, you want to work less but while doing so, achieve more. This is especially important if you’re like me and writing isn’t your day job. I have a lot of places for my time and attention to go, and doing things that won’t move my business forward will only be a waste of time in the end.

What are your 20% activities? What are some that are considered part of your 80% but still enjoy doing? Let me know!

Facebook Ads Beginner’s Class and looking at other author’s ads on Facebook

If you’re like me, you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see an ad for a book, so you click on the READ MORE and read the excerpt the author provided, or you click the Amazon buy-link and take a look. Not only could you find a new read that way, but all of a sudden your feed is full of books because the FB algorithms have decided that you love to read and they’re going to show you every ad under the sun. This can work out to your advantage because you can look on the author’s page and see the kinds of ads the author is running–and how many. This could be a big help if you see an ad with lots of engagement, or if you know an author is moving books and want to know the kinds of ads s/he’s running.

I don’t want to single out an author or her ads because I’ve been getting reprimanded for that lately (haha, it’s okay, I just have to be more careful with what I say on here) but I can show you how to do it and you can use the steps to look up ads that pop up on your own feed. We all read and write different books anyway, so if you want to take a look at an author’s ads library on FB here’s how:

First find an author or group that is running ads. This can be an author running ads from her FB author page or a group such as Ravaged Romance that runs ads for authors and books. Click on the page to go to their profile and on the left hand side should be a Page Transparency box. You may need to scroll down a bit to see it. Click on SEE ALL.

After you click on See All, scroll down in the box that pops up and click on GO TO AD LIBRARY.

When you do that, you’ll see all the ads that page is running. You’ll have to turn your ad blocker off if you want to see them–because they are ads and your blocker won’t let you preview them. It took me a minute to figure out why the page wouldn’t load on my Mac.

There you can see all the ad copy that author or group is using with what kind of blurb, excerpt, headlines, and creative (stock photo).

You want to research authors who are writing what you write and then you can see what makes their ads so popular. Like with covers, you don’t need to copy down to the letter, but borrowing the vibe or feel of the ad could help you with reach and conversion.

Some of the smaller authors I chose for this experiment didn’t yield a lot of data, but if you look at a bigger indie author if you click on the SEE AD DETAILS, on the ads no longer active, you’ll be able to see the number of impressions, the potential reach of the audience chosen, how much that author spent on the ad, and who the ad was shown to.

I think it’s interesting to see what kind of ads authors are using on Facebook, and, if anything, it’s another way to waste time poking around when you should be writing.


If you want to take a Facebook Ads class for beginners and can’t afford a lot, I signed up for Mal Cooper’s Facebook Ads for Beginners, and it’s only $50.00. I read both of her Help! My Facebook Ads Suck books, and taking a Zoom class with her should be as interesting as it will be fun. I don’t have a book to promote yet, but I”m hoping the class will prepare me for when I do. If you want to look into her class, look here: https://www.thewritingwives.com/service-page/facebook-ads-beginner-class

Taken from the email she sent out.

If you’re looking for a more advanced class, she’s offering one of those too, but it is a little more money. You can look up the details here: https://www.thewritingwives.com/service-page/building-next-level-audiences

Taken from the email she sent out

That’s about all I have for today. Facebook Ads were something I couldn’t get to work for me, but there are a lot of reasons for that. I wasn’t writing in a niche and hadn’t really nailed down a brand. When you don’t do those things, it’s difficult to figure out who your audience is. With my billionaire romance, I have a ton of comp authors, and finding my audience will be a lot easier. If I can figure out how to create an ad and keep it on point, I hope I won’t lose too much money.

These links aren’t affiliate links. I just thought I would share since Mal’s been in the industry for a long time and knows her stuff.

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday Thoughts: Claim your book on ACX and where I am right now.

I wanted to put this at the top of the blog post, because if you don’t read anything else, at least read this. There’s apparently a wave of scammers out there who are claiming books through ACX, hiring narrators for books that aren’t theirs, and trying to make some royalties off the audiobook. Even if you don’t plan to make an audiobook (I’m not–I can’t afford anything like that right now) I’ve read in various author FB groups that you should go on ACX and claim your books so no one else can. I did last night–it took me about twenty minutes. Here is how you do it:

Go to acx.com and create an account. It’s just your KDP/Amazon credentials.

After you create an account, select ADD YOUR TITLE in the upper right hand corner.

Then you can search for your books under your author name or by book title. ACX was glitching for me last night and when I tried to select a title under my author name, it wouldn’t let me, but it would let me select the title if I searched by title and author name.

Click this is my book. On the next page, even if you have absolutely no plans to make an audiobook of this novel, click I’m looking for someone to narrate or produce my audiobook. Don’t worry about this part of it–it’s not locking you into anything.

On the next page, scroll down to the bottom and click the User Agreement box and click Agree and Continue.

After that, your book is claimed and there is no other steps you need to take. If you have other books, click Add Your Title at the upper right corner of the screen and start the process over again. If you have successfully claimed a book, the option to claim it will be gone, otherwise you didn’t claim it correctly and you’ll have to do it again.

And that’s it. With box sets and single books, it took me a little bit, plus the website was glitching on me and it took a while to claim them all. I don’t have any plans to make audiobooks, and claiming them isn’t a sure-fire way to keep scammers from trying to make a few bucks off your books, but at least it’s a start. I found this out last night scrolling through my FB author groups. Indie publishing is rife with scammers, and it’s better to protect yourself–another reason to make sure you have copyright proof of your books available! I love Amazon and think they have given us some wonderful opportunities, but they are not perfect, nor is any business, and you can’t count on others to protect your work. Thanks to Julie C. Gilbert and her instructions on her website that walked me through the process.

With that out of the way….

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve had a catch-up post because all I’ve been doing is writing, writing, writing, but I have slowly been working toward getting my pen name set up. I created a website that isn’t live yet because I’m waiting to get a couple of my books and blurbs ready to post, and I had my sister take a few author photos of me at the local park not long ago. I know some people don’t want to reveal who they really are, but in these days of ghostwriting, AI, and scammers trying to make a buck off Amazon, one way you can stick out is be your real self on social media. People connect with people. It’s another reason I picked my initials with my real last name instead of a completely different name to write under. I will always be me on social media: all my grumpiness, attitude, helpfulness and cheerfulness. I could never be someone else and I would never try. That said, I’m happy we were able to take a few that I like, and even though the sun was setting and it made me look orange, they came out well. I think black and white makes me look classy (and gets rid of the orange!). Here are a few. I like the black and white for the headshot, and for the back matter I’m going to use the full body shot with the flowers in the background.

With that out of the way, I was able to order my proof for Faking Forever, but I’m going to wait a few days before proofing it. I’m trying to streamline my publishing process so I don’t have to go back and redo anything. I’m going to make a patient effort to do everything at one time. The cover for KDP, ebook and full wrap/the paperback cover for IngramSpark/the Large Print edition for KDP. If I want to go one step further, I could offer the Large Print edition on IngramSpark, too, it would just take an extra few minutes to create the cover for it. It is time consuming to be the one to do all of it yourself, and I wish there was a better free way. For now I’m a one-person show and if I want it done, I’ll just have to make the time. Here’s a picture of the proof. I think it turned out really nice, and I can’t wait to figure out my publishing schedule and put it up!

There are some tweaks I’m going to have to make, but otherwise I think it turned out great! If you want to know the process I went through to create it, let me know, and I’ll blog about it. I don’t want you all to get sick of my cover posts!

I’m relieved to finally be making some progress in regards to publishing, though I haven’t made much headway with my newsletter (meaning, no signups!). Without a reader magnet, I don’t have anywhere to put the link up that will draw in readers. I’m part of writer Twitter and I haven’t tweeted out my newsletter link there, the same as Instagram. That’s the biggest problem I see indies have–they align themselves with other writers, and then they wonder why they don’t sell books. You may sell a handful here and there to your writer friends, but it isn’t going to be enough to make a career. I don’t promo on Twitter and it’s going to be the same for my newsletter. So, I’m going to have to offer a reader magnet, and it could be the ugly duckling trope I’d written expressly for that purpose after all, or this new one I’m writing that I should be done with toward the middle of next month. It makes more sense for the ugly duckling book to be my reader magnet because it’s finished and pretty much ready to go and I could start building my list for my releases that much sooner, or I could just depend on organic signups and put my link the back matter of my books and not give away a reader magnet at all. It’s tempting to do that, but building my list will take more time.

The problem is i haven’t published for so long and I’m writing books that I’m not sure are any good, (and no one really does until strangers read and review, so I know that’s not my insecurities.) that it’s frozen me in place. I don’t want to building my list and I don’t want to release my books. Except, you have to take a chance if you want a career. I mean, I know exactly why people only promo on Twitter. They don’t want to run ads or buy promos. Twitter is safe. Selling to your friends is safe. It’s scary to put your work out there and present it to strangers to buy and review. It’s easy to hide behind the obscurity of Twitter and say, “This is the best I can do” when you know deep down you could be doing more. I’m at that place now, where it would be easy for me to launch my books with no plan but a pinned tweet and say, “this is the best I can do”, but I don’t want to cheat myself out of the chance to make something with my writing. So. I need a reader magnet, and I need to stop hiding behind the guise I’m writing. There’s no point in writing to keep it all on my computer.

In other (personal) news, my midwife said my infection is gone! I had an appointment at the beginning of the month hoping to discuss other treatments and she said the tests indicate it’s gone. I’m not sure what that means for me as I still don’t feel 100% right, though I admit I feel better than I have since I found out I had my infection way back in March. I’ll keep taking my probiotics and vitamin C and giving my body time to take care of itself. It will be really nice not to have to think about it anymore, and a negative test result is a good start.

I suppose that’s it for now. Monday I’m going to talk a little about Facebook Ads. I’ve got some resources to share with you, so I hope you check back.

Until next time!

Thoughts on video and why it’s not my go-to marketing tool.

So, funny thing. I thought I already published this! Then I saw it in my drafts, and I must have forgotten I didn’t schedule it. Since I have more time sensitive material for a different post, this is going out three weeks later than I initially thought, and I’m sorry for the Monday I missed when I thought this went out!


There’s a lot of talk about video for book marketing these days, and if you’ve heard conversations about TikTok and the news that Instagram is going to be more video-focused to compete with the newish platform, then you’ve maybe thought that you should give it a go, too.

I haven’t jumped on the TikTok bandwagon for a variety of reasons, and not just because I don’t particularly care to be in front of a camera. I’m 46 years old and it took me 46 years just to be reasonably comfortable being filmed and having my picture taken. A lot of it comes down to not having any f*cks to give, and what completes that pie is knowing that I look better than I have most of my life because I’m happy with where I’m at and don’t care what other people have to say about me.

On the other hand, I know I could lose weight, my old, crying cat keeps me up at night and if I don’t want to look like a zombie, I need a full face of makeup, and my hair is a limp mess if I don’t do anything with it. That sounds like a lot of work for a sixty-second video, and while people say you don’t have to look your best when you’re in front of the camera, I wouldn’t NOT want to look my best–especially if I’m talking about my books or promoting someone else’s.

And then we get into voice modulation (who wants to sound like a cow, dying or otherwise?), the background (my space is extremely small without a bare wall to be had anywhere), and background noise (see cat above).

It all seems to take too much time away from writing. I have very little patience with that at is it. I’m doing the cover for my first billionaire standalone and waiting for cover critique and blurb feedback makes me restless. I haven’t written new material in weeks (that makes me twitchy), but I just can’t with the amount of books I have on my computer right now. I have to start putting out material or I’m going to be so overwhelmed with the work it will take to put them out I’ll suffer from analysis paralysis and won’t do anything.

You can’t get away from video talk, and I’ve listened to some useful rooms in Clubhouse about TikTok and using video to stay in the algorithm’s good graces on other platforms. Whether or not I’ll try video remains to be seen. It’s not only putting my pretty big nose face in front of a camera, it’s also learning the platform you’re going to post on, and if need be, learning editing software (internal or external) to make your videos look like you know what you’re doing.

I’m not on TikTok, and I get annoyed with people who post their videos other places. I know it’s a timesaver to repurpose your content, but I’ve complained for years about people posting the same content everywhere. There’s no point in me following you on IG, Twitter, FB, and anywhere else you are if you’re going to post the same stuff–practically at the same time. I might as well follow you one place and open my time up for other things. I’ve muted accounts that do that, and I’m sure others do it too. Videos can be shared a lot of places, and I have no idea how useful it is to share your TikTok video on YouTube, FB, and Instagram. If you’re going to go viral (which sounds like a goal for most people) it would make more sense to let/encourage OTHERS share your video other places otherwise you just look spammy. I’ve seen Dea Poirier’s tweets lots of places, and not because she puts them there. She’s had viral tweets of her own and not once that I’ve seen is because she’s shared on every platform she can find. The true test of popularity is when others start to share your content.

This is one of Dea’s tweets I saw EVERYWHERE on FB after she tweeted it. In fact, it took me five seconds to find it searching murder recipe meme.

Anyway, I believe it’s better to find one or two platforms you enjoy (for me that would be this blog and Twitter) and focus your time and attention there instead of spreading yourself thin and offering mediocre content because your book is under deadline and you’re pressed for time. Maybe I gravitate toward my blog and Twitter because there isn’t much call for video on these platforms. I was talking with a friend the other day, and I told her I don’t like IG because of the toll it takes on my hands holding my phone. Holding my phone aggravates my carpal tunnel. I like things I can do on my computer and while I can post on IG on my laptop, I feel like I’m missing the point of the platform when I do that. You’re supposed to be experiencing the world and sharing those experiences with others–something I’m not very good at because when I’m out and about, besides taking a picture a drink or two when I’m with my sister, I try to stay off my phone.

I’m not good on social media–my Twitter engagement is abysmal, I haven’t posted to my FB author page in months, and on my personal FB page all I share are photos of raccoons. I don’t have much use for social media. I think I come across as prickly and hard to get to know. That’s me in real life as well. I’m a loner at heart and it takes a long time for me to warm up to someone. (Though the friends I have made on Twitter I’ve had since I joined in 2013.) It’s not an ideal way to be if you’re hoping to connect with thousands of readers, and I am trying to put myself out there more in my romance group and asking for feedback on my covers and blurbs. I’m also terrible at taking a hint. I have a few people on Twitter who RT everything, or like all my Tweets, and I never reciprocate. They want to interact because they like my content, and I need to be more mindful of the people who WANT to talk to me.

If you’re looking to get started in video, these tips I’ve gathered might be of use to you, too:

Look at what other people are doing. If you’re a romance writer, look at what other romance authors are doing. Study their viral videos. What made them pop? The music they chose? A new book they’re talking about? We don’t need to copy others, but pick up tips from other authors who are killing it. We do this with covers, with blurbs, even POV (switching from 3rd person to 1st) and we can learn from our peers in other ways, too.

Choose who you’re going to be. If you’re going to film yourself without makeup or your hair done, be okay with that, make your peace with it, and embrace it. I don’t know how beneficial it would be to look like a beauty queen for the first six months while you build and audience then all of a sudden “be yourself.” Be yourself from the start and then you can’t fall off that path.

Figure out what your platform is. Romance is easy–hunky cinnamon roll guys, swoony love stories. I’ve never been good with posting about romance, when it should be my number one go-to for any post. I should read it as much as I write it, and I should embrace all my book boyfriends–the ones I create and the ones I love to read about. How I would get that into videos that promote me as a romance author, I have no idea. I’ve kind of turned into a billionaire romance author, and if Jamie Dornan wants to come over and make out with me while I film it for TikTok, that would probably be a good start. He’s married though, so I doubt his wife would be on board.

Focus on one. If you want to do TikTok, make it a primary goal to build your platform there. Like any social media app, it takes interaction for some algorithm love, and not just by your fans. You have to comment, you have to reply to comments. That takes time and it will be easier to find the time if you just have one platform you need to worry about. If you already have a following on Instagram and want to start posting video there, then do that. But no matter where you post a video, remember it’s the books that are the most important. You don’t have anything to market if you’re not writing.

Look at your genre and where your audience is. TikTok feels younger, but is it? I don’t know. If you’re running Facebook Ads and they work for you, can you say your audience is older? A quick Google search says the average age of a Facebook user is 40 years old. Does that mean your audience is older? Maybe they aren’t on TikTok. If you write Young Adult, it might be a place to consider. If you’re writing “seasoned’ romance and your target audience is a divorced woman in her mid-fifties, it might not be the best place for you to spend your time. Doing some market research and figuring out where your audience is on social media will at least keep you from wasting time on a platform where your readers aren’t hanging out. Romance readers seem to be everywhere, which makes it hard for a romance author not to (want to be) be everywhere, too, but I can look up the top ten billionaire romance authors and if they aren’t on TikTok, that takes some of the pressure off.

Stay out of the author/writer community. For most authors, Twitter doesn’t sell books because we’re so deep into the #writingcommunity we can’t see straight. Unless you’re happy with a handful of sales for the lifespan of your book, other authors are not your readers. This is why Craig Martelle says it over and over again in the 20booksto50k group, it’s why in most FB author groups there is no self promo. Because the other members are not your readers. It’s going to be the same with TikTok and Instagram. Don’t tell other authors in your groups to follow you there, because your account will be following authors, and other authors will be following you. It’s really difficult to find that line in the sand and stay on the right side. Especially since we’re supposed to read in our genre, and I like to promote the romance books I’ve enjoyed. It will take more time to build a fanbase made up of readers, but it will be worth it in the end.


I don’t have many resources for this blog post. BookTok is still new and you will probably get the most out of joining the TikTok for Authors Facebook group. Clubhouse is now open to everyone (though I have 10 invites if you want to be personally invited into the app–DM me on Twitter), and there is a TikTok for Authors Club on there, too. You can join and listen in on conversations where they discuss what is working for them, and after a bit you might have a tip to share!

Search for the room in the app!

The last resource I have is a book I read a while ago when I was looking into getting video. Amy Schmittauer’s book, Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging, has a lot of great advice when it comes to vlogging and those tips can help you at least feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Image taken from Amazon.

Getting comfortable and understanding your goals and the content you want to provide is half the battle when it comes to using video to promote your books. Consistency will help, and if you enjoy what you’re doing, that will come out in your videos too. I don’t know if I’ll ever get into video. It’s difficult not to jump into the next big thing when you want to market your books and feel like sales have stalled, but the one thing I can count on is writing the next book which is where you can always find me, no matter what kind of hot new platform comes along. Good luck!


I’ve been struggling with content for this blog for a little while–maybe that’s a good thing as it means the indie community is quiet. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to still post four times a month, but my more informational blog posts on the first and third Monday of every month, and now that I’m back into publishing, a personal update on the second and fourth Thursday of every month. I think that will still provide my subscribers with the content they find helpful but it will take some of the pressure off me to keep my blog posts relevant. I still very much enjoy this blog and don’t plan to stop blogging, and who knows . . . maybe things will pick up once the summer is over and there will be more things to talk about again. Thanks for understanding!

Monday Musings: Thoughts on being an indie author, the RWA, and what I’m loving right now.

Being an Indie Author

Being so fully immersed in the indie community, I see a lot of support indie authors. I think it’s great, you know, who doesn’t want to be supported? But we also say this a lot: who publishes our books doesn’t define us or the quality of our craft. So can we have one without the other? Can’t we say we should support ALL authors–because what we’re doing is hard, no matter who publishes us.

I don’t mind being defined by the fact I’m an indie author. I never wanted the stress of querying, and I never considered a book deal to be anything but giving my rights away for pennies on the dollar. But, if I’m running my business correctly, I don’t feel I need any more support than any other author. Traditionally published authors rarely get much help from their publishers except for certain cases like they’re already a household name, or a book sold at auction and the publisher markets the heck out of that book and author because they want to earn their advance back and then some. If you read a book, do you review it? Are you more inclined if it’s an indie book with 5 reviews, or a trad book that already has 1,000? Maybe it’s a nitpicky thing to be thinking about on a Saturday morning, but I was scrolling through the WordPress reader before I set up this blog post, and because I follow a lot of indie authors, I saw this phrase this morning and it stuck out.

Do indie authors need any more support than any other author? I know a couple of authors who are published by small presses. Smaller than small, tiny, presses, and to be honest, I feel like they need more support than I do! Those presses don’t have the budget for marketing their authors, yet those authors, in essence, gave their rights away and now they don’t have access to their KDP dashboard to run ads. If they do run ads off of their Facebook author page, they are paying for ads for a small percentage of royalties. At least I know if I sink time and money into my books, it’s for me. It must be difficult to accept that if you spend time and money on your books and you’ve been published by a tiny press that you’re not only working for yourself, you’re working for them, too. I suppose it depends on what you’re willing to give up and what little you’re willing to receive in return. You can support me, but I’m thinking another author might need it more.


The RWA and Vivian Awards

I just erased about 600 words of what I thought about the RWA and the Vivian awards and all that’s going on with that organization. The more I thought about it, the more uneasy I felt, and I think I’m going to take the easy way out and not say anything. I’m glad my membership expired last year and I’m glad I didn’t renew. I had high hopes for the restructuring of the organization, and for what the new president could do. It seems like it’s going to be more of the same, and in a world where we’re all moving forward in every way possible, it’s not right for an organization who says they champion all writers to hang back. Inclusion can’t just be a concept. It has to be a way of life. I don’t ever want to be a member of an organization that can say it, but not mean it and prove it by their actions.


KDP and A+ Content

I’ve also been hearing a lot about A+ Content on KDP. I haven’t tried it yet, though I know with the impending releases I have coming soon, I’ll have to decide if I want to invest in the time it takes to make the graphics to put anything together. If you use a lot of graphics on social media, you may already have something you can repurpose, and if you pay for Canva Pro, resizing them to the pixels KDP requires is pretty easy. It sounds like an utter time suck to me. I like to play on Canva as much as the next person, but thinking about adding all that extra to my books’ sales pages gives me hives.

If you’re interested, Dave Chesson has a comprehensive blog post outlining its features, and I’m sure in the coming months now that the Kindle Vella sensation is pretty much over, we’ll be hearing more about it and if it’s working for other authors. For now, I can only assume that a good title, good cover, good blurb, and a fantastic look inside will get your further than spending time making graphics. On your book’s product page, you have to scroll to reach the extra content, and if your cover isn’t good or your blurb isn’t hooky enough, a reader isn’t going to spend time on your product page anyway. It all depends on where you want to spend your time. My creative brain would rather write, but my business brain knows there’s no point in writing if I can’t get readers to the words.


Book Marketing with Jane Friedman

taken from her website

Speaking of finding readers, if you are looking for new ways to market your book, I suggest you give Jane Friedman’s book marketing webinar a try. She knows the industry inside out and I’m sure she’ll have new insights as to what is working now and what you can avoid. It’s only 25 dollars and you get the replay if you can’t watch it live, the files she uses, and you can download the video if you want to be able to watch it again. I’ve taken several of her mini-webinars (as I call them) and there is so much value. Look here for the course description. Effective Book Marketing for Any Author (Even If You’re Starting From Scratch)


Billionaire Romance Stats by Alex Newton of K-Lytics

Screengrab taken from Alex’s K-lytic’s site.

If you’re looking at writing billionaire romance like I am, Alex Newton of K-Lytics did a report you can purchase for $37.00. The pre-recorded webinar talks about what is selling in the billionaire romance market, how hot the niche is, what book covers are selling, etc. It’s interesting information, and just knowing that I chose a subgenre that will never die (like vampires he says) gave me some security. He also analyzes different genres and subgenres and all of his mini-reports are chock-full of information. A great value! You can find the Billionaire Romance Report here.


That is all I have for today. I’m 18k into a new project while I get my blurb and cover together for the first book I’m going to release…I’m not sure when. I wanted to this year, and maybe I still will if I can figure out some kind of launch/release plan. Obviously I’m not going to hit it out of the park with one single standalone, but that one single standalone is going to be a foundation for a new pen name and I want to make sure every book I release from here on out counts. Pressing Publish and walking away did nothing (and I’m not quite sure why I thought it would), so I have to figure some things out. If that means waiting, that means waiting, but I’m not going to wait too long. I’d rather publish for a handful of readers than keep these books on my laptop for any more time. I will keep you posted!

Until next time!

What makes a quitter?

taken from Google search for quitter definition

There’s been a lot of talk about quitting lately, and it’s not just Simone Biles who withdrew from Olympic competition citing mental health reasons.

In the writing community, I’ve seen writers quit querying, quit writing on a certain WIP that wasn’t working, quit Twitter, quit blogging. Quitting has negative connotations, and it’s a terrible thing to be called a quitter. But what if that thing you’re trying is hard? What if it takes too much time, or you don’t have the energy to spare after a long day? Quitting is akin to giving up and giving up implies that you’re weak. When is it okay to give up? When is it okay to say that you can’t handle the thing you’re trying to do anymore and walk away? Is it brave to know your limitations or are you a coward for not finding strength to keep going?

My friend Gareth posted an interesting think piece on his FB Author page, and I’ll quote it here (with his permission) because I think it’s something worth talking about:

The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” attitude is constantly leveled at people who are struggling. The general concept being: you struggle because you don’t work hard enough. This suggestion is often given unironically by people in privileged positions.

I don’t doubt there was a time when the opportunities were more readily available for a few hard-working souls to make enough money, not just to live on, but to be considered a successful person. Nowadays, I’d argue those opportunities are fewer and further between. People who become successful, often require luck, good timing, or a little help. This is even true of artists and creators.

As a sometimes writer, the whole landscape has changed in the world of writing and the belief is you just have to be talented, lucky… and teach yourself the skillsets of three or four jobs that used to be done by three or four different people. It’s a lot. To become a successful writer is very difficult, especially if you’re doing it alone. At which point JK Rowling is usually brought up. lol. No, it’s not impossible, just much harder than people think.

Beyond the obvious Trumps and Kardashians there are plenty of examples in the artistic and entertainment fields of those who perhaps had their bootstraps yanked up before they got started: Bradley Cooper, Taylor Swift, Paul Giammati, Emma Stone, Rashida Jones, Lady Gaga, Carly Simon, Nick Kroll, Rooney Mara & Kate Mara, Lana Del Rey, Robin Thicke, Kyra Sedgwick, Armie Hammer, Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Salma Hayek, Adam Levine, Edward Norton, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Tori Spelling, Bryce Dallas Howard, Balthazar Getty, Chevy Chase… the list is long.

There’s no doubt that talent and hard work is important, but the bootstraps mantra is a poisonous misrepresentation of the real world. I doff my cap to those writers who have found some success; to all who achieve their goals, and wish good fortune to those who are still working towards them.

taken from Gareth’s FB post

I see this a lot in the writing community, and even have been a part of it myself. The unrelenting Go! Go! Go! attitude can get exhausting, and I take responsibility for my part in it. You don’t get anywhere without hard work, and that can be said with just about any profession out there, some more demanding than others, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers. But along with that hard work is the need for a little luck. You networked with the right person who featured your book in their newsletter, or you courted the right book blogger at just the right time, or you applied for a BookBub featured deal, and the guy going over the submissions was in a good mood that day and approved yours. Of course, this brings to mind the preparedness+opportunity=success equation, or as Christian Grey told Anastasia during their interview, “I’ve always found that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

When it comes to publishing, or in Simone’s case, gymnastics, you do need to do the work. You can’t publish a book that hasn’t been written, and jokes aside that marketing is harder than finishing a book, finishing a book to some is the most daunting task. Then you hear that you shouldn’t publish until you’ve written a million words and who wouldn’t be discouraged? Gareth is correct in his author post, too. We do wear many hats–editor, graphic designer, copywriter. If we don’t excel in any of these areas, and we can’t afford to hire out to fill in the gaps of our own skillset, our books can fail. I may have spent as many hours learning what makes a good cover as I have writing because I can’t afford (don’t want to, and there is a lack of trust there, too) to hire out, and after watching tutorials and practicing I realize there’s potential for others to simply not be able to grasp those concepts. I’ve said many times before, if I didn’t write romance I’d have no choice but to hire a cover designer because my time is more valuable than learning how to do a to-market cover for any genre that requires more than what I’ve taught myself to do.

We can say that Simone Biles is a coward for dropping out of competition, but think of the hours of hard work she put into her practices just to make it there. If she had given up at any point in her career, did one hour less practice, slept in every morning she wanted to, she might not have made it as far as she did. Online, I’ve seen people use her withdrawal as an excuse to give up their own endeavors saying it’s brave to know your limits, and it is. But knowing what will break you mentally or physically is a lot different from stepping outside your comfort zone, something, it seems, few people are willing to do anymore. How can you find your best, move your career to that next level, if you’re not willing to push your boundaries? Giving ourselves permission to not do what we don’t want to do because it’s uncomfortable sets a dangerous precedence.

So how much bootstrapping do we need to do? I guess that’s up to you and your personal barriers. I’ve written through a divorce (I wrote All of Nothing during that time), I’ve written during carpal tunnel surgery (and I’ve admitted I probably didn’t give myself as much time to heal as I should have) and since December of 2020 when I contracted a disgusting, persistent, and painful case of bacterial vaginosis from dryer sheets, I’ve written three and a half books. If I had let ANY of that hinder me in any way, I wouldn’t be where I am right now–with a healthy backlist of 3rd person POV contemporary romance books, and a splendid start to a 1st person billionaire romance career.

I’ve worked my day job for twenty years, typing for the deaf and hard of hearing. When you think of your writing like a career–something you plan on doing and enjoying for the rest of your life–you make time for it. You show up whether you feel good or not, much like a regular job you count on to pay your bills. If you’re lucky, you like your day job. I like knowing I make a difference in someone’s life on a daily basis. I like my co-workers, and I like my supervisors. I’d have to, to show up 4-5 days a week for almost half my life. I also like writing, and I love every aspect of publishing–from editing my own books to doing the cover to writing the blurb. Loving what you do makes it easy to show up, and if you love what you do, the energy and the time you put into improving your business isn’t a task. I won’t say writing and publishing isn’t work even if you adore it because it is. It’s work to craft likable characters, it’s work to make sure they have a satisfying character arc. It’s work to nail your grammar and punctuation to give your reader an enjoyable experience.

Part of the problem with bootstrapping, especially in the indie writing community, is no one can tell you how long it takes to make it, how long you have to struggle (two years, five years, ten years?). In other professions, you can have a timetable at least. Night school will eventually lead to graduation, an internship will eventually lead to a paid position. No one can tell you when you’ll “make it” off your books, or what “making it” even entails these days. A living wage? Part-time earnings? $500 a month in royalties would get some authors I know into better living situations, or make it easier to put food on the table, or the vet bills for our cats easier to pay.

But I do know one thing, and it’s this: success won’t come if you quit. Simone didn’t get to where she was because she was a quitter, and the last thing she’d want is for you to use her choices as an excuse to quit. Simone isn’t a quitter, and if you want to see your book out into the world, you can’t be a quitter, either. It’s tough. I know how tough it is. Five years in the industry and all I’ve managed to do is spend money. I’ve learned a lot along the way–and knowledge is priceless–but it’s hard when I see authors who have been writing for less time than I have and are making it. They found a niche, they had their strike of luck, and they’re going gangbusters, making thousands a month on their books. I’m happy for them, but I wouldn’t be honest if I don’t say I’m waiting in line for my turn. That’s what Gareth’s post was getting at: success may never come my way, no matter how hard I work. Working hard without success is a quick way to find burnout, something I’ve been dealing with the past year–especially while I’ve been dealing with my infection.

Does it make me discouraged? Yes.

Does it make me work that much harder because I know it’s possible? Also yes.

The list of artists that Gareth shared all had one thing in common. They believed in their art and they didn’t give up. They kept producing, they kept putting themselves out there. I come from a generation where pop stars made their start at the local mall. I’ve seen videos of Britney Spears, Tiffany, and Debbie Gibson all performing in mall foodcourts, Other artists sing in dive bars and in the streets, anything to get out there. We do the same with our books. We buy ads, we share snippets on Twitter and on our blogs. We do what we can to get noticed.

Bootstrapping isn’t easy, but Taylor Swift still wrote her songs, Simone Biles still practiced, and you still need to write your words. Maybe that means writing through life’s turmoils, and we all have them, some more serious than others, but no one said this was easy. There are days where I haven’t felt good enough to write, in a mental or physical capacity, but I never stopped. I took a break, but I never stopped.

It’s funny because everyone is looking for the magic bullet, not wanting to admit the only magic bullet there is consistent hard work and tenacity, and yes, a lucky break.

So what makes a quitter? I don’t know. I’ve quit some things in my life. You can say I quit my marriage rather than hanging in there. I’ve quit running in favor of writing. I’ve quit friendships that took more than they gave. In doing so, my ex-husband and I will never get back together. It would be impossible for me to run a half marathon anytime soon, and if I wanted to repair those friendships, there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to. Go ahead and quit, burn those bridges if that’s what quitting entails, but be sure to measure the rewards and consequences because sometimes there is no going back.

Until next time!

Thursday Thoughts, Kindle Vella, and where I am right now.

I feel like I’m running on a treadmill. I’m making progress toward my health, mental and physical, overall, but hell if I’m going anywhere. That’s how this phase of my writing is going.

It’s tough feeling like you’re not going anywhere.

I’m finished listening to the first book I’m going to release–a 1st person billionaire. There is still a lot to do before I can even get my hands on a copy of the proof, and I’ll create a checklist for you all as I get them done. This book doesn’t have a title yet, something so simple that is going to give me hives. I’ve made plenty of mistakes naming my books, and now that I’ve learned so much in the past four years of writing and publishing, there’s a lot of pressure to apply all that I’ve learned. I’ll still make mistakes, but cover, title, blurb, metadata, keywords, pricing, and everything else that goes into putting the book up for sale, those areas don’t give you a lot of leeway for error. Anyone can tell you who has had to make changes to an already published book, it’s just easier in the long run to get it all right so you can enjoy the launch rather than worry about having to fix the interior or change a typo on the cover. Yeah, that is a lot of added pressure, but slow down and don’t panic, and it will be okay.


There’s been a lot of talk about Kindle Vella, and this can cause its own kind of FOMO and anxiety. To be honest, I never cared about Kindle Vella, and once I heard someone break it down, it really didn’t entice me to want to try it. What she said is this: Writing episodic fiction is more than just sitting down and splitting up a novel at mini-cliffhanger-type scene breaks. Writing episodic fiction is a skill, in work you can see for yourself such as writing soap operas, telanovelas, and podcast fiction. You have to write with intent. You have to know the story you want to write and how to write it. I have no knowledge of writing episodic fiction, nor do I want to learn simply to try a new platform where I may or may not find success. I know how to write books, that’s it. Short stories, novellas, novels, and episodic fiction all have their own rhythms and nuances, their own reader expectations. Once I heard her say this, it made so much sense that I was glad I didn’t let myself get swept away in the hype.

If you do want to try Kindle Vella, or want to learn more about it, look here:

What is Kindle Vella? And Should You Join as an Author? (Reedsy Blog)
Amazon Kindle Vella for Serialized Stories Launches in the US
Kindle Vella Authors Facebook Group

As with any piece of writing, if you don’t write it correctly, with skill and talent, keeping reader expectation in mind (why are readers reading your work, what do they want to get out of it), you won’t go far. That’s true for anything from blog posts to articles on Medium, to submitting to a literary journal, to writing a book. Rather than jumping on the next big thing, ask yourself if your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to find any success. If you don’t have time to learn how to write episodic fiction, but you can crank out a novel in six weeks, ask yourself which is a better use of your time. You may decide after you break it down that it’s not right for you after all.


I wasn’t able to go to Georgia this week. My SO caught COVID and I had to cancel my trip. He’s doing okay, a little tired, a little achy, but I wasn’t able to go. In a small way, I was relieved. I don’t like flying. It’s not the flying so much as how so many people lately have had poor experiences with the airlines. Canceled flights, sitting on the runway for hours on end only to taxi back to the airport. It’s terrible, and I’m not sure if things will get any better. I never had a good experience flying before COVID (the Fargo, ND airport has never been able to get me to my layover on time) and it seems the pandemic made dealing with airlines that much more troublesome. We’ll figure something else out–he may come visit me in October. I’m just thankful he’ll make a full recovery after a few days of sleep.

So I’ll keep plugging away at my books, setting them up and seeing how I can optimize my launches. Making my books the best they can be, looking forward to fall, and trying to enjoy life on the hamster wheel.

Until next time!

It’s all about genre.

Happy Monday! It’s almost the end of July and then we have just a few more weeks of summer left! While fall is my favorite season (woodsmoke! crunching leaves! cooler weather!) I don’t like to rush my time along, and I’m going to make the most of August and the lazy days still ahead.


At any rate, I love being plugged into the indie industry, listening to what other top indies are doing, and where their heads are at right now. Mostly, at least last week while I was consuming information, it seemed the subject was choosing genre.

Choosing genre can be really hard for some writers, reluctant to settle on one thing for fear it will stifle their creativity, or they choose not to do it all together, claiming to be multi-genre authors with “something for everyone.” While I agree that we should write what we want to write so we never lose that spark of wanting to create, I’m still of a mindset that if we want readers to consume our work, then we need to figure out how to deliver that work into the hands of the people who will enjoy it most. A friend of mine writes in several genres, never publishes under a pen name and she spends a lot of time on Twitter directing readers to books she thinks they’ll enjoy. That’s great, and if she’s willing to network and “show people to their seats” like a theatre usher, then she should have at it. But while she’s curating her own library for her readers, when is she writing the next book? “Something for everyone” is hell on marketing.

I was listening to the Wish I’d Known Then Podcast for Authors with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, and they interviewed guest Lee Strauss. I haven’t read any of Lee’s work (she doesn’t write a genre I read) but she had some great advice about choosing genre and figuring out what you like to write best through trial and error. (Hint: what you LOVE TO READ BEST is probably a good starting point for figuring out what you’d like to write best. And don’t @ me and say you read everything–I read widely as well, but if you take an honest survey of what you read, you’ll find a genre that tips the scales.) I commented on their FB page for their podcast that while this kind of information is great, the writers listening probably already know settling on a genre is the best way to go. Jami gentle corrected me and said you never know who will need to hear something like that. I agreed, but, on the other hand, a listener also has to be open to hearing the information, accepting it, and willing to apply it to their own careers.

Back when I started writing, if someone had told me to focus on one genre, I would have said, “But I am.” Little did I know that contemporary romance isn’t a genre. Contemporary romance is the ocean. Thriller is the ocean. Mystery is the ocean. Women’s fiction is the ocean. Drilled-down subgenre is a pond, a little pond where you can specialize in what you want to be known for to your readers. A duck can get lost in the ocean. Probably eaten by a shark. A duck is cute and safe in a pond. Lee’s interview proves my point–she settled into historical (1920s) cozy mystery. Can’t get any more drilled down than that.

If you want to listen to her interview here it is. She also goes a little bit into character attachment and what that means to a reader. I found it really interesting and may write a blog post about that another time.

I think talking about genre is interesting. There are so many people who think that choosing a genre will pigeon-hole them they refuse to do it, yet they try to query. Agents don’t want a book that’s a mix of three different genres. Your agent wants to see your book on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble just as much as you do, and if you’ve ever gone into a bookstore, their shelves are still divided by genre. If you’ve got a romantic fantasy horror just waiting to get out, where is the manager of that Barnes and Noble going to stick your book? Romance? Fantasy? Horror? (Never mind what that cover is going to look like :P)

I like writing romance, I’m always shipping couples who don’t need to be shipped. I look for romance everywhere. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out that’s what I wanted to write, but when I say contemporary romance isn’t a genre, I mean it’s too big of a genre to write in, too many subgenres and tropes, and like my friend who writes everything, my readers have to pick through my books to figure out what they’re going to enjoy most. That’s not a way to keep readers and, while it isn’t difficult, doesn’t have the return on investment that it could.

I think we get a little confused because when we publish on Amazon, or Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, we no longer think of shelves. There aren’t any shelves in the Amazon store, no end caps featuring the latest deal or overstock stores want to get rid of. Because of this, browsing is a lot harder for a reader, and they need to search for what they like, such as Vigilante Justice, or Small Town Romance. Then, if you have your keywords and categories correct, your book will show up on the results page. But, you’re saying, you can genre-hop and this will still work.

It will. When someone wants small town romance, maybe my Rocky Point Wedding series will pop up. (Likely not since my books are old and they don’t have many reviews, rending me useless to Amazon.) But say they like your Women’s Divorce Fiction you wrote under the Women’s Fiction genre–and they want more Women’s Divorce Fiction. Oh, you only wrote the one book, too bad, and they move on. Chances are really really good that they might read another one of your books anyway, but if you had more Women’s Divorce Fiction for them to choose from, you just caught yourself a reader who will read your entire backlist. Think of your Amazon Author Page as a store, and your list of books as a shelf. Do they all fit on that shelf? My books fit in Contemporary Romance, but with a sports romance trilogy, enemies to lovers, age gap romance, close proximity, then a four-book small town romance series, you can kind of see why a reader would like to read my enemies to lovers then drop off from the rest of my backlist. They aren’t similar enough to hold a reader’s interest. I wanted to be like Nora Roberts–able to write everything. I’ll never be like her. Her career and mine will never be the same.

I can see why you’d be balking, even to me it sounds extremely limiting, but the secret is to choose a subgenre and then have fun with the tropes. I chose Billionaire Romance to start up my pen name, but I can do anything I want with tropes. Enemies to lovers, fake fiance, my brother’s girlfriend is off limits, even a little mystery suspense. I’ll grab every reader who wants billionaire and more importantly, keep them because they know that’s all I’ll offer them. Had I known that, maybe I would have focused all my other books on small town romance. I am from a small town, after all, but it actually wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me to even write to trope. After four years of writing, you’d think that would have clicked into my brain a long time ago, but like many new authors, I was just writing the stories as they came to me and assigning the genre/subgenre/trope after the book was written, if there was even a trope after all was said and done. My sports trilogy and my Rocky Point Wedding series don’t follow tropes very well. It’s no wonder the ten books I have out never really did anything. I didn’t have a direction. Maybe all those who wander are not lost, but my books now are out in the weeds and there’s no pulling them back.

As for readers of blog posts like this, and listeners of podcasts like Jami and Sara’s, and even writers and authors who watch YouTube videos by indie authors like Derek Murphy who extol the idea of writing to market and writing to trope, maybe you aren’t ready to do things this way. Maybe you never will be, content to be a theater usher using social media and marketing to direct readers to that one book in your backlist they’ll enjoy. That’s okay. I don’t think my friend will ever change how she does things–she says she enjoys writing whatever she wants. Maybe you enjoy the creative freedom so much that you’ll take worrying about where your readers will come from in exchange. Or maybe in a couple years you’ll think back on this post and realize you’re in the same spot you were in when you read this and you’ll be open to a new way of doing things. And maybe Jami is right after all–maybe there are writers out there who don’t know there’s a better way to do things.

If you want to watch Derek Murphy’s latest video, here it is:

For me, this kind of content is interesting. While I was listening to Lee, I kept nodding, smiling even, because what she found out, I too have found out the hard way by way of little traction and no audience.

If you’re interested in trying it my way, and the way of other indies who have built and audience and are making a livable income off their books, how can you start?

  1. Pick an ocean genre. Contemporary romance, thriller, women’s fiction. The biggest umbrella you can find. Because while I said most readers don’t hop around, some do, and this wide net will catch a lot of fish. But then–
  2. Choose a subgenre. Subgenres are not tropes. Subgenres are niches within the larger genre such as billionaire romance, small town romance, vigilante justice, hard-boiled detective, family saga.
  3. Then choose your tropes. You might think that Billionaire Romance is limiting, but I’ve written 11 books so far, and I haven’t run out of ideas yet. It’s kind of like the idea “free as a bird in a cage.” You have boundaries and you know what they are so you have more fun playing. If you feel safe, you’re more secure in your story, and your confidence will come out in your writing.

Of course, coming from me, it would make more of an impact if I could say, see, my Billionaire Romance has made me $100,000 this year (God, that would help me with so many worries!). Of course, I can’t, but you can take a look at any indie author making it to see they stuck to a certain subgenre and used familiar tropes in their writing to see that I’m not wrong.

As far as genre and subgenre and tropes as buzzwords, I guess they’ll always be around. No matter how much you want to brush them off for the sake of your creative freedom, they are there for reasons that may we not understand let alone want to accept. That will have to be a choice you make, and I wish you the best!

Here is a good list of Genres and Subgenres from Writer’s Digest. I can’t help but note what the start of the article says. 114 Fiction Sub-Genre Descriptions for Writers

I didn’t find a list of subgenres or tropes for Women’s Fiction. Indie publishing has drawn hard lines when it comes to romance, something it took me a lot of time to discover. Women’s fiction is blurrier, but if you look women’s fiction authors, they still tie their books together, like Pamela Kelley and her Nantucket series, or Elizabeth Bromke and her family sagas. I did find a list of themes, and I think the article explains women’s fiction well and worth a read if that’s what you’re looking to write: Themes in Women’s Fiction


This is it for me this week. You can think of this blog post as filler, if you’d like, because I’ve blogged about this before (I hope it will be the last because I’m even starting to bore myself), but I’m spending the week in Georgia and my mind is already on vacation. I think genre, subgenre, and tropes are important though, they are the core of each book we write whether we want to admit it or not. Something clicked with me when I decided to write to trope, and maybe it will for you, too. Have a great week ahead!

Monday Musings, Fear of Success, and Where I’m at Now.

Happy Monday! It seems a little crazy to me that summer is half over. Time is flying by and I hope that you’ve all been productive! Not only is summer half over, we’ve past the halfway point of 2021 as well (which was July 2nd). What have you accomplished in the first half of the year, and what do you still want to get done before we say goodbye to this year?

This year, so far, I’ve written three and a half books. Well, maybe three and three quarters as I started one in December of 2020, but I don’t need to get too picky about it. I have slowed down and started (finally) editing these, and I’m going to release one, if not two, this year. I think I’m going to release my fake fiancé trope first, as I feel that is a stronger book than my ugly duckling trope. I just finished the second read-through of it and I’ll listen to it this week to check for typos and syntax issues. After I do that, I’ll format it in Vellum and start working on the cover. The cover and blurb will take the longest because I don’t have a team and I workshop these in various Facebook groups for feedback. Formatting, editing, and cover always take longer than I think they will, but I’m hoping for an October release.

I don’t have a Christmas story to publish this year, so I may wait to release again until after the New Year, though I always have to keep Amazon’s 30- 60- and 90-day cliff in mind. Next year I’ll begin releasing my six book series and after that, the third standalone I just finished up. It’s nice to be able to look ahead with a tentative plan, but I also want to keep writing new material and I don’t know how the more prolific indies can work on three or four things at a time to keep their production moving along. It seems almost crazy to me that authors can write and publish four books a year, though in some FB threads I’ve read the authors who do this the best are about 6 months to a year ahead of their own schedules. That makes sense and I could get my six book series ready. If I publish them two months apart, I would have a whole year of a buffer to write more books, but that seems to call for more organization than I have, especially since as I said, I don’t have help and need to keep all the details of my business straight on my own.

I was listening to the I Wish I’d Known Then podcast with Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, and they interviewed Lucy Score. Lucy is a 7-figure author and has created her own mini publishing empire. While I admire her and she’s a very motivational figure, her success scares me in some ways, too. I wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with it. I don’t have a team, or a circle of people I trust, really, to help me. Her husband works for her, her brother, they have friends who help, and she pays these people. To think about people depending on my writing for their livelihood gives me anxiety and while I too, want to be a 7-figure author, the idea scares the crap out of me.


That does bring to mind something I’ve been thinking about lately, and that is fear. We all fear being a failure in our writing, releasing a book and having it fizzle out the second we hit publish. Our books can fail in a myriad of ways, and it’s tough to determine which hurts more. Maybe we publish and we get zero sales, or maybe we publish and we have a great first week only to sink and never recover. Or maybe, and I think this scares all of us, is we publish our book and no one likes it. No one likes it, and they aren’t shy about letting us know–usually in the form of a scathing review.

Fear comes in other ways, too, like success. We fear success because we don’t know how to handle it, or we’re afraid we won’t be able to replicate it. The second book syndrome is real, and even if it’s not your second book, any book you write on the heels of a successful one could cause you some fear and anxiety. Nobody wants to be a one-hit wonder.

And so we do nothing. We put off writing, or in my case, we put off publishing, thinking if we just do this one thing (write another book, wait for a life event to finish, wait for a new month, wait for a new year) then we’ll start. If you’re putting off something, like writing, publishing, querying, ask yourself why. Are you afraid to fail? Or are you afraid to succeed? You can hide behind your fear, but at least be honest about it. You can always carve out writing time–1,000 words a day will net you a decent sized book in two and a half months. If you’re not doing that, if you’re saying, I need to wait until…. that’s a huge red flag that you’re scared. I’m scared. For the past year I was telling myself I’ll publish when I finish the next book, then the next, then the next, and if I keep writing without publishing, I’ll feel like I’m drowning in the books I have on my computer. Maybe if you’re not writing you’ll suffocate on the words that are supposed to be there but they’re not. The only person who can fix that is you.

So, anyway, that’s where I’m at. I may need to learn to work on more than one thing at a time if I want to be able to write while I have books in the production phase of publishing. My mind kind of took that fake blurb I wrote for the fake cover I did for my blog post on how to create a full wrap paperback cover in Canva and ran with it, and I have an amazing romantic suspense novel stewing around in my head that won’t let me think about anything else. I love writing standalones, and the interview with Lucy helped me come to terms with that. She writes standalones as well–it isn’t always about series all the time–and it made me feel better about the standalones I’ve been writing lately. The six-book series I wrote last year during the COVID lockdown will be my shining star–I’ll never be able to do it again–but I have a less complicated series that I started (I’m two books in) and I should finish those before I lose the thread and the want to finish them up.

I’m supposed to be going out of town next Monday, a trip to Georgia, but we’ll see how things go. I’ve had bad luck traveling lately, and my daughter just informed me she has a cavity that I would like to get taken care of before I go but my dentist has a busy office and that may not be possible. I don’t know if I’ll have a blog post for next Monday. Summer has slowed down for everyone, and at this point in time, I wouldn’t know what to blog about. It wouldn’t hurt to take a week off, but since I’ve started this crazy publishing path, when have I ever done that?


Coincidentally, Craig Martelle did a 5 Minute Focus on the price of success. He just streamed it today, so i will leave you with that, and a reminder of a couple things going on this week. Make the most of the rest of your summer!

Until next time!


Bryan Cohen started his Amazon ad challenge today. Amazon thought so highly of it that they featured his challenge in their blog. If you want to learn the basics of how to put together an Amazon ad for your book or series, check out his challenge. It’s all free, and if you join the FB group attached to the challenge, he, along with some of his staff at his blurb writing business and some of his successful students of his Amazon Ads school are around to help you out. I learned everything I know taking these challenges, and if I keep my eye on my ads dashboard, I never lose money.
If you want to check out the Amazon blog post, click here.
If you want to sign up for his ad challenge, click here. (This is not an affiliate link.)
If you want to join his Amazon Ad Challenge Facebook group, click here.
If you don’t want to join a FB group, he expanded this challenge to a slack group, and you can click here to join.


Wednesday, July 14th, Jane Friedman is hosting Elizabeth Sims in a Zoom webinar about writing dialogue like a pro. I’ve signed up for it, and for $25, all the information is worth it. There is a replay if you can’t watch it live, and Jane sends you the files afterward to download to keep. It really is a great value, and as far as I know, everyone can use a little help with their dialogue. If yours is stiff, doesn’t sound natural, or if you have a problem with dialogue tags, this class is for you. Click here to read more about it and to sign up. (This is not an affiliate link.)

Enjoy your week!