October and First Monday Update

Writing, publishing, and marketing is like running on a treadmill. You’re working your butt off and not getting anywhere.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. I finished my latest round of edits on my trilogy and now that that’s done, I’m going to dive into writing the blurbs and creating their covers. I need to do a little better on these than I did with my duet. I’ve complained that those covers just haven’t hit the way I wanted them to, but it could be a few things, not just the models I chose. With a new pen name it will take time to find traction and my Amazon ads haven’t run long enough for me to collect any data on if the covers are helping or hurting. Surprisingly, well, it’s not really as this issue has plagued me from the second I published the stupid thing, The Years Between Us has always performed well, meaning, I get a TON of clicks, but then no one goes on to buy. I know it’s because the cover is pretty but no one wants to read an age gap romance, and they’re turned off when they hit the product page. There’s not much I can do about that. But in September, I did sell a handful of my duet, and I’ve been playing with buying a promo soon. Now I think I’ll wait until January after the holidays are over and I’ll have six books under my name instead of just three. I might as well wait. I’ll keep running ads and hope for the best.

I started up my Facebook ad for my reader magnet again and we’ll see what happens there. Ads are so weird and there are so many variables as to why it wouldn’t work. The wrong graphic, the wrong headline, maybe your description wasn’t right on the money, or your target audience is off. Whatever it is, I did take my time putting it together so hopefully I can build up my newsletter some more. Despite paying for an ad for signups, my open rate was 36% last month (I’ve heard 40% is decent) and I only had four people unsubscribe. The person who won my giveaway never responded to the email I sent her, so as always, that giveaway was a wash and honestly I just don’t care about hosting them anymore. I also gave away more ARC copies of Rescue Me on Twitter than I did for my own newsletter which was surprising but whatever, I guess. I probably shouldn’t even have offered it there, but I made 20 available and gave away ten before I took the listing down when the book went into KU.

Reviews are still coming in from Booksprout and one sounds so ludicrous I think maybe an AI bot wrote it. I don’t want to offend anyone, especially since there has been some crossover between my blog and new readers under my pen name, but once again, it makes me wonder if paying for the service is worth it and if I should even bother to keep offering my books there.

I have three months to edit and package my trilogy but I’m not going to need that long so I’m at a crossroads for what I want to work on next. I have a standalone in mind that would probably work better in 3rd person under my name and it will need some research as it’s about a rockstar who suffers from depression and doesn’t want to perform anymore. His record label pays for a therapist to move in with him to convince him to do another album but she has her own backstory. I don’t know anything about being a rockstar and I’m looking forward to watching documentaries of that kind of life. I think will be just a little darker, like All of Nothing, and it will take me longer to write it. If I decide not to work on that, I have 2 books of a 6 book series completed and I should really write the last four and get those put out. The file information said I created the first one on November 2, 2020, so I think it’s about time to tackle those and get them off my plate. A standalone sounds welcome after working on a trilogy and my other six book series that will be going to a proofreader this week as the second set of proofs came yesterday, but getting that series done would be a load off my mind. I have my publishing schedule set until the middle of 2024, so I have plenty of time to do both and cleansing my palate with a standalone sounds like what I need to take a break but still write.

Because authors need someone in their corner, especially with how trigger-happy KDP has been lately with blocking author accounts and not accept copyright information, I decided to join the Alliance for Independent Authors. I’m familiar with Orna Ross and Joanna Penn and some of the others that are affiliated with the organization and at 119.00 USD annually, it’s a good investment. I do everything I can to ensure that my books meet copyright requirements–I buy my photos from DepositPhotos, make sure I have licensing for the fonts I use. I have my receipt from Vellum if there is ever a question on how I format my books. If they ever close my account for any reason, at least I have someone going to bat for me.

I suppose that’s all I have for this week. I have a few topics for blog posts planned and also something up my sleeve with a couple other authors I’ve met on Twitter. I need to reach out to them and hammer out a time we can collaborate.

I think the only thing left is mentioning that this month, Bryan Cohen is hosting his quarterly Amazon Ads Profit Challenge. Since I’m not actively writing right now, I think I’ll carve out the time to sit and listen to the videos and go through the steps. There are some things that have changed since the last time I sat down and went through all the material, so it will probably be beneficial this time around. I’ve been working with the info that I learned a couple years ago taking his challenge, and staying up to date is always a good thing. If you’re interested in joining, click here. It’s not an affiliate link; I don’t get anything if you sign up.

Thanks for hanging out with me, and Happy October!

Author Update, What I Like Right Now, and Kindle Vella

I had a whole blog post set up about the comp title thing that happened on Twitter last week. I decided not to post it since there is just too many hard feelings surrounding those tweets, and I didn’t want to step into the middle of it. I just want to say that I think comps are important, that comparison titles and comparison authors are needed for BookBub, Facebook, and Amazon ads, which can play a vital role in indie marketing. While Allison, the woman who tweeted, was primarily talking about querying, comps have a place and can be hard to find if your book is unconventional. Many marginalized authors and writers chimed in (we all know how white the publishing industry is, and they should be loud about it, we all should), and being I’m a white cis/het woman myself, I don’t feel I add anything to the conversation. So if you’d like, and have the time, to fall into this rabbit hole, start here:


I’m doing pretty good for the writing part as of right now. This week I’ll put my second book in duet up for a very short preorder, just so that I can get my links, add some A+ content, and add the link for book two in the back matter of book one (I also have to fix a typo, so thanks to SJ Cairns for pointing that out). I should have this all up and going so the ebook will launch on August 1st. Then I have a standalone I’m going to release in October (not Halloween related, I only picked that date for timing), and if all goes well, I should have a trilogy to release in January. That hadn’t been my original plan, but I wanted to experiment and see what releasing all three books at once would do. If I can get a promo going for book one, the read-through might take off.

As you can imagine, that’s going to take some planning, and nothing I would have tried three years ago, but this is what I’m thinking about:

1. Covers.
I can’t have all my covers look the same all across the board. I have a six book series almost ready to go (I just need to read the proofs or find someone who will do it for me to check for consistency and typos.) Those covers are set in stone as I purchased all the stock photos, and I realized I was going to run into to some trouble with a trilogy. Each series/trilogy/duet should look the same to go along with your author brand, but different enough to set them apart from other series/trilogies/duets in your catalogue. Standalones are a little easier since you only need one stock photo and you’re done. A series/trilogy/duet need to work together, have a consistent vibe, and searching for stock photos while keeping in mind Amazon Advertising guidelines (because Amazon ads ARE a big part of my marketing plan) is tougher than it sounds. Hot men who haven’t been used a million times or showing more skin than Amazon ads will allow is actually quite a big ask and requires a lot of scrolling.
I also feel like these books are a little softer, and they are 10,000 words shorter per book that I usually write (so far, I have one of three left to write) so I thought maybe I didn’t need such edgy and dark covers. This is what I have so far, but I’m sure they’ll go through a few changes before I hit publish:

There’s a lot of reasons why I won’t go with all of them: Guys one and three look similar, and guy three with the smoke in his hand will disqualify him from ads (though I really like the look of him and he feels real in my head). Guy two doesn’t 100% fit, but he’s a lot of what I picture when I think about the character. I’m also a little worried they’re too plain, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Anyway, so while I’m writing, I’m also thinking about covers, which for me, since I do my own, is almost the hardest part of the whole thing.

2. New Marketing Tactic.
I haven’t tried this yet, so this will be somewhat of a test to see if it works. We all know to put a little teaser at the end of a book to excite the reader for the next book. But, I’ve read about some authors taking it a step further, and actually using the last CHAPTER of a book to introduce the character of the next book. I would imagine this works really well if you already have the books ready to go and can even add a buy-link to that last chapter. I’m going to try this and see how it works. If you don’t understand what I mean, this is an example: Book One is about Jack and Emma. I write in 1st Person Present Dual POV and alternate between them giving them (approximate) equal screen time. So before trying this marketing tactic, Book One would end with either Emma’s or Jack’s POV, maybe an epilogue to wrap things up (I don’t hate epilogues but don’t use them very often. In fact, I’ve started labeling them as the last chapter instead of calling it an epilogue.) But instead, Book One ends with a very short chapter in the next book’s character’s POV. In this case, since I’m always going to go with the male POV because it’s been studied that romance readers prefer, and look forward to, the next hero, that would be Raff. I’m excited to see if this works or if I’ll be accused of money-grabbing. The books are standalones, in the true sense there is no over-reaching arch the readers need to finish, so I’m not sure how it will be received. It will be a while before I can tell you, but you can be sure I’ll blog about it!

3. Overall Consistency/Relevancy.
I’ll need to create a logo for the trilogy, write up my blurbs, and write a list of the keywords I’m going to use when I upload my files into KDP. It’s a lot of work to do them all at once, but everything will be the same for each book. Relevancy is important when you want ads to work. Categories and key words should help Amazon point your book to readers who will want to read it. Amazon rewards relevancy and the more on-point your book is, the easier it is for Amazon to sell.
I’ve already done this a couple of times, so I’m hoping my process is a lbit more streamlined and it won’t take so long to put these books together.

4. Reviews.
Not paying for Booksprout was a big mistake. Captivated by Her still doesn’t have any reviews, though since I published it, I’ve sold around twenty-five books (some sales mostly page reads in KU) and I don’t have one review on Amazon. While I haven’t ran a promo for that book since book two isn’t out yet, exposure hasn’t been the best. Only a few Amazon ads have brought me the sales that I’ve had, and my lack of reviews, not even one, is disheartening. So I think for the first in this trilogy, I’m going to pay the $9.00 on Booksprout and put Give & Take up for review. You can publish the paperback and let the reviewers leave a review for that. Then once all your reviews have come in, (or not, just delist the book from Booksprout and hope the reviewers lagging will pull through) you can publish the ebook, and the reviews will appear for both versions. You don’t have to delist at all if you’re wide and your book isn’t in KU. It takes a little planning, a little looking ahead, but if you want to publish your ebook with reviews, you need to be organized. I don’t have an ARC team, and my newsletter is primarily made up of readers who signed up for my reader magnet. I’m not saying they aren’t quality subscribers, but I haven’t earned their trust for them to want to do anything for me at this point, even leaving a review.

Even though it is a lot of work, I’m excited to be publishing again.


I also have a lot of housekeeping to get taken care of once I’ve written book two and can take a short break. I need to publish Captivated by Her to IngramSpark and fix VM’s website. I have large print listed there because in the past, Amazon didn’t give me a hard time publishing them, but this time they did, and Captivated was blocked as duplicate content. So either I’m going to publish my large print with IngramSpark (if I can do it in a way that won’t tick off Amazon) or at the very least, set it up on my website so I can sell direct. I can order author copies through IngramSpark without publishing, and I can keep a few on hand for website orders. I have All of Nothing and The Years Between Us available in large print and I sell one every once in a while. I would like to offer large print because 1) I want to be accessible, and 2) I already wasted an ISBN on the ones I have under VM Rheault. Why Amazon gives us the choice to publish large print and then blocks it as duplicate content is confusing to me, but I don’t want to mess with Amazon and I won’t try again. I wish there were a live person to talk to that had the authority to unblock my book because it is a legitimate large print book that they shouldn’t have blocked in the first place, but the one rep I did talk to couldn’t do anything. They told me they would remove it from my dashboard but they haven’t, and no one did answer my email when I sent a complaint to Jeff Bezos’s email address. This is still in the back of my mind because I don’t like arbitrary rules telling me no. I’ll find a way around it, I’m just not sure yet. I would like to actually publish to reach as wide of an audience as possible, and maybe since you can publish paperbacks on Draft2Digital and you can choose where, I could skip Amazon if they’re going to make a stink. But I’m already publishing my regular print on IngramSpark for expanded distribution (they skip Amazon when they see the ISBN is already in use there), and I don’t want to use different distribution channels if I don’t have to. So, we’ll see. I haven’t asked in any of the Facebook groups yet, but when the time comes, I’ll ask a few questions.


What I’m loving right now.

Janet Margot used to work for the Amazon ads team, and she wrote a book about using Amazon Ads to advertise your books. She released only an ebook, but when Amazon sent me an email and asked I was still interested in that book (those work, people! Never count out the Amazon algorithms) I clicked on it and saw she finally created a paperback. I picked it up right away. More than just creating an ad, she talks you through cover, metadata, keywords, comp titles and authors, etc so you can make sure your book is advertising-ready before you create your first ad. Here’s Blaze with the book, and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Ads-Indie-Authors-How/dp/1737476118/


Kindle Vella

Kindle Vella is taking off, it seems, as I see more and more people publishing on that platform. My friend Dareth started up a blog, and her first post is about her experience with Kindle Vella. You can check it out here if you’re interested in publishing your own serial to the platform. https://www.darethpray.com/post/publishing-on-kindle-vella

If you’re interested in running a promo to your Kindle Vella link, Bookdoggy is one of few promo newsletters that will promote your Vella link. You can look at other services they have for authors, too. https://bookdoggy.com/for-authors/. I’ve never used them before, but if you have a few dollars to throw at a promo, it never hurts to try.

Other articles about Kindle Vella:

Kindle Vella: Description, Features, and Tips for Authors by Jason Hamilton on Kindlepreneur

What is Kindle Vella? And Should You Join as an Author? on the Reedsy Blog


That’s all I have for today. Summer is two-thirds over! Make the most of it!

Until next time!

Advertising Your Book–Categories, Targets, and Comp Authors

I was browsing through my social media writing groups the other day, and someone said something so profound that it has stuck with me ever since reading it. You know I’m a big fan of writing to market, a true believer in the idea that if you want to write a book that people want to read, write a book like the ones people are already reading.

We resist that idea because no one wants to write what someone else is writing or has already written, even going so far as to say they don’t want to write the same tropes because they have already been done before. This isn’t a blog post about that, per se, but along the same lines, I suppose.

When we write a book and publish it, that’s only half the work, something we don’t find out until the book sinks like a stone in the rankings because no one knows it exists. We might tweet about it, put it up on Facebook somewhere, create some pretty graphics and post on Instagram, or try our hand at some videos via TikTok, the new kid on the block. That bumps us up a little bit, but eventually we’ll run out of new people because free social media only goes so far (ask anyone who relies on Twitter for sales to tell you how far free social media can really take you).

So we turn to paid advertising, and what that author said blew my mind–write what you can advertise.

Just that simple thing. Write what you can advertise.

What does that mean, exactly? Can’t we advertise any book?

Yes. But can we advertise any book to success? Not necessarily.

You can advertise any book, say on Amazon, but if Amazon doesn’t know where to put your book, they won’t show your ad and you’ll get zero impressions and no clicks. That makes genre and categories really important. When you create an ad on Amazon, you have a few ad type choices: you can do an auto ad and let Amazon do the work in figuring out who to show your ad to, you can run a category targeted ad, or you can use comparison authors and comparison titles as keywords. You can also target ASIN’s of books like yours, which I have heard works better, but I can’t tell you from my own experience that it does. I’ve done all four, and I didn’t realize until just now why, but All of Nothing is a billionaire romance and one of the reasons why it has always done so well when I ran an ad is because there is actually a billionaire category to choose from when creating a category ad on Amazon:

taken from Amazon Advertising ads platform

If I choose that, and my metadata matches, Amazon knows exactly who to show my ads to–readers who want to read a billionaire romance.

My age-gap romance, The Years Between Us, doesn’t have its own category, and choosing Contemporary Romance gets me impressions, and even clicks, but if someone isn’t in the mood to read age-gap, or doesn’t like it for whatever reason, I lose that sale. The same goes for Coming of Age, which I have listed The Years Between Us under, but even though it can be considered Coming of Age as my FMC is 18, readers may not like the age gap element of the novel.

taken from Amazon Advertising ads platform
taken from the Amazon ads dashboard
taken from the Amazon Ads platform

There’s a lot more competition using an umbrella category like contemporary romance.

You can always use comp authors and comp book titles as keywords, but if you’re writing a very niche genre (like age gap, haha), or mashing together more than two, you’ll have trouble targeting the correct authors because there aren’t that many. Targeting authors is something you can do on Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads (if the author is available in the list and I’ve heard from several people that list is arbitrary), and on BookBub. If you’re one of few writers in that genre, ads may not work. Not because your book isn’t good, but because the platform doesn’t know who to show your ads to or the audience isn’t large enough.

Does this man you can’t write what you want? No. Does this mean you can’t still advertise? No. But you may not get the results you want. You may waste money figuring that out or come to the conclusion that ads don’t work which won’t be true. I stopped using Coming of Age completely because I lost a lot of money on clicks and I should probably take that book out of that category as it doesn’t honestly represent the book.

I still advertise The Years Between Us but when I do, I use the Contemporary Romance category on Amazon to mixed results. Readers like my ad copy (He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe . . . even if that means breaking her heart), they like the cover, but once they read the blurb and realize it’s an age gap romance, sometimes I lose them. Not always, but until I started keeping track of the ads for that book and pausing them when the spending overtook the sales, I lost money on the readers who decided that book wasn’t for them.

I’ve only dabbled with Facebook ads, and I don’t understand enough to give you any kind of guidance steeped in experience. I know that targeting books isn’t as zeroed-in as Amazon, which can be better and can be worse depending on your point of view. Facebook seems to have more flexibility allowing you to cast a wider net, but that flexibility can also cost you money if people are clicking on your ad and deciding your book isn’t for them after all. There are plenty of billionaire romance authors out there, even if you discounted EL James and Sylvia Day. The idea is to drill down as narrowly as you possibly can so the ads platform you’re using shows your ads to only those readers who would want to buy it. But not so narrow that you don’t have anyone in your audience! Creating a viable audience is probably the trickiest thing about Facebook Ads but I’m willing to keep trying because so many authors say that it works for them.

So what does this mean for writing to market and writing to ad platform? Already lots of indie authors balk at writing to market. They want to write what they want to write, as did I when I thought writing “Contemporary Romance” would be enough to build a career on rather than focusing on subgenre. Marketing and targeting those books was expensive and some books I couldn’t get to sell no matter what, like my road trip romance because Road Trip Romance isn’t a category, nor is Close Proximity, and besides Contemporary Romance there isn’t another category I can try. (I experimented with Romantic Action and Adventure, but my cover didn’t fit and I got some impressions, but no clicks.)

Taken from the Amazon Ads platform

I did everything I could from swapping out covers to rewriting the blurb more times than I could count and still, I just can’t sell it. My Tower City trilogy doesn’t sell either, because while there is a sports romance category on Amazon, my covers aren’t made to the sports romance subgenre, and it turns our long distance running isn’t sexy and no one is interested in it. Who. Knew.

taken from the Amazon Ads platform

The best thing you can do is a little research before you start writing. Who are your comp authors? Are they writing what you write? How is your writing different? Is it too different?

You can use bklnk.com (click author tools and use the cat finder) and find all the categories that a book similar to yours is listed under by searching the ISBN or ASIN. Then you can email Amazon and have those categories added to your book. That way you can run auto placement ads and Amazon will know where to place your ad. I asked around to see if there’s a list of categories available in the Amazon Ads platform, but unfortunately there isn’t one.

Nobody likes to be told what to write, but everyone likes to find readers. Make finding readers easier on yourself and do a little market research before you begin to write. I wish I would have known this before I started publishing. I love all the books I’ve written so far–they are some really good stories and I’m proud of them–but I truly do love writing billionaire, and I think I’ve found a niche I can have fun with for a long time. And also as importantly as enjoying the subgenre, I know there is a market for them and I’ll be able to advertise them.

What do you think? Is thinking about how to advertise your book taking it a little too far? Too limiting? Let me know what you think!

Thursday Thoughts and Personal Update

I think it was two weeks ago I blogged a list of the things I needed to accomplish in the short term to get the ball rolling on publishing some books. I am happy to say that I’ve managed to check of quite a few of those.

I proofed the proof for Faking Forever, put the changes into Vellum, generated new files and corrected the mistakes on the cover/full wrap–more on that. I created a Large Print edition and ordered a new proof of the regular print and the proof of the large print. Since I never used to utilize the back matter of my 3rd person books, it was strange to add a sign up link to my newsletter to the back matter of these. I should add a buy link to the next book as well, but I’ll have to go back and edit those as I have books available. For now the back matter only has one call to action, and that’s to sign up for my newsletter. Organic sign-ups are the best though, so I will be happy if I get any from that.

To ease some of the pressure of learning Bookfunnel and how to segregate lists in MailerLite, I decide to forego offering a reader magnet for the moment. I can write something quickly, maybe after Christmas, but I was putting too much pressure on myself when really what I want to do for right now is publish a couple standalones and start getting my pen name out there. I don’t know how Bookfunnel works, and I need to figure that out and spend more time in the MailerLite dashboard to figure out who goes where when they sign up for what. It will help when I get some signups, and then I can see what happens. I don’t want anyone not to be offered a free book because I don’t know what I’m doing. Needless to say, I decided to sell the book I’d decided to use as a reader magnet, but once I get the ball rolling and familiarize myself with my newsletter I’ll write something else. It was a blow, but at the same time a ball of anxiety loosened in my chest. I know offering a reader magnet is the best way to entice people to sign up, and I will get to that eventually, but for now. I just want to focus on getting some books ready to publish.

I also formatted My Biggest Mistake and did the cover. I have another blog post coming about this, but I asked for feedback on the blurb in my various FB writing groups. Here is the cover for this ugly duckling standalone, and the interior I formatted with Vellum:

Probably I’m not going to be able to use a dark-haired sad guy looking down again, since he looks similar to the cover to Faking Forever:

Initially I had my name at the top, above his head, but since I’m trying to keep more of an idea of branding for my books and not having to go back and redo anything, I moved my name to the bottom. I think it looks nicer. The proofs I have coming will have my name at the top, but I won’t need to order proofs again for such a small change.

I have seen other photos of the two men, and they are two different gentlemen (with some stock photos, you never know), but I’ll have to keep this in the back of my mind and go for a different look for my next few books. That should be easy to do since after I proof the proof to My Biggest Mistake, I’ll be starting to (finally) edit and get my series ready that I wrote last year during the lockdown. I am really excited to take a look at those books with fresh eyes, and it will be a challenge to do six covers, a trilogy for Zane and Stella and a trilogy for Zarah and Gage, but have them all feel similar since the story reaches over all six books. I should do the smart thing and hire out, but I like the control, and with so many scammers out there, trust is hard to come by.

This week I’ve been taking a break–it’s hard not be writing anything, but the proof for My Biggest Mistake will come Saturday, and after that I’ll be jumping into a few months of non-stop work. I’m trying to enjoy the time off, but not actively writing anything, especially since I know what I want to write next, (and it isn’t a reader magnet) is a bit strange. I’ve been reading a domestic thriller I bought a few months ago and I need to format and do a cover for the box set of my wedding series. I think that is the biggest item on my list I haven’t crossed off yet. It’s not hard–just moving Vellum files over to create a large one, but it’s busy work. I need to make a mug of coffee one evening, put on some music and get it done. I don’t want to wait too long–the Christmas books are already starting to pop, and I think I could get some good KU page reads and sales, especially if I sell it at .99 from October until December.

They’re all in KU singly, but I haven’t gotten many reads on them in the past few months. In fact, I’ve stopped looking at my sales dashboard, and only keep an eye on my ads to the extent that they are breaking even. I was going to try to find a different couple for the front so I can run some ads to the box set, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. I tried looking for a different pose of the couple on the first book, but they are all in bed, or doing dopey things like being sad at a pregnancy test result. I could zoom in on their faces to take the “lying down” element out of it and see if that works, but as they are positioned right now, Amazon won’t let my ads go through, and it’s been very hurtful for the series as a whole.

That might actually work. It would be an easy fix to upload new ebook covers for books without having to change too much if the new cover could get through Amazon’s cover guidelines. All I can do is try to submit and see what happens. It would be nice to be able to advertise these this winter. I can add zooming in on their faces to my to-do list.

As far as health news goes, my infection is gone, but an ultrasound revealed an ovarian cyst that is making me feel not so great. So I have a follow up next month to see what’s going on with that. I’m not in pain, just a sense of discomfort most days and some bloating. I’m getting old though, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

I guess that’s all for now. Things are moving along, though this week slowly. It will be nice when things pick up. I didn’t want to start writing a book. Then I would be suck for six weeks while I finished it. I’m trying to convince myself that having a week off isn’t a bad thing, and today all I’ve done is take a walk and write this blog post.

Later I’ll be creating author interview questions for Nina Romano, and there will be a giveaway…I’m thinking for fall… so stay tuned for that in coming weeks.

Thanks for checking in! Have a great rest of your week!

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 fiancĂ© 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!

Flexibility: When time and patience aren’t enough to achieve your goals.

Spotted in my Instagram feed.

As indie authors we have a lot of flexibility. Blurb not working? Change it. Cover not working? Change it. Didn’t edit your novel well enough the first time, give it another editing sweep and upload the new file. We have a lot of flexibility when treating our writing like a business. We can pivot faster than any traditionally published author, chasing trends if we’re fast enough writers, or researching sub-genres and hopping onto a hugely-demanded but underserved niche.

This quote jumped out at me this morning as I scrolled all my social media feeds while I sipped on my much-needed first cup of coffee. I like it because as indies, we’re able to search out new ways if something we’re doing isn’t working. The problem is, there is such variety out there that it’s difficult knowing when to give up and try something new or sticking with what we’re doing and hoping that our tenacity will be rewarded. We need to give something ample time to see if it’s going to work, and bailing too quickly before something can stick could cut off something that could be really viable to your business. On the other hand, sticking with something that’s not working out of fear of the unknown won’t get us very far, either.

Knowing when to keep trying and when to throw in the towel is something that needs to be taken as case by case basis and perhaps the thing you’ve moved on from could work for you later. With all the information available to indies right now, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices.

Here’s a not-so-quick list of some of the things that we as indies have control over, when to let things ride, and when to maybe give new things a shot:

  1. POV. Changing up a POV may not be an option for some people. You need to definitely work with your strengths and admit your weaknesses. If you rock 3rd person past, it wouldn’t be wise to change to shaky 1st person present just because that’s what’s trending in some genres right now. The quality of the work should always come first, or what you do after that won’t make much sense. I find writing 1st person present easier than 3rd person past. I can write faster, and as my paid beta reader just got through the first book my first series and liked it, I feel I’m capable in that area. A comment made on this blog on one of my posts said I didn’t like writing it, but that’s not true. I wasn’t sure if it was the right choice when I decided to write a book in it, that’s true. It wasn’t what I gravitated toward when I started writing because I’d read 3rd person past all my life and stuck with what I knew. But my books also were not selling that well, and since I had nothing to lose, I mixed it up. This is one area where I probably could have stuck with 3rd person past and eventually seen some level of success. On the flip side, my 1st person present books could flop. I don’t know. The amount of flexibility we have can be a pro as well as a con. If you’ve been writing in a POV you may not click with, or you haven’t found readers to click with it, change it up. You never know where a new POV will take you.

    If your current POV is not clicking with readers, you don’t have to change POV to find traction. Maybe changing subgenres would help. When I was writing 3rd person past, I wrote steamy contemporary romance. I didn’t have to change to 1st person present to make a change–I could have started writing women’s friendship fiction, or domestic thrillers, or literary fiction. Again, you need to know where your strengths are. I like writing romance and have a difficult time plotting anything that doesn’t revolve around a man and woman falling in love. Changing POVs made more sense to me than seeking out another subgenre, but I could have made a less drastic change and started writing clean romance as well. There are all sorts of things you can do if what you’re writing isn’t hitting the mark and finding an audience. I was lucky and stumbled upon first person present billionaire romance. I enjoy writing it, I feel I’m good at it, and I’m hoping that even though that subgrene has peaked, I will still find readers when I’m ready to publish.

    POV: Choosing Between First-Person and Third Person Writer’s Digest


  2. Ad platforms. This is a tricky one because your ads can only do a well as the book you’re selling. Bailing on Amazon Ads in favor of Facebook ads may not do anything for you except eat up money faster. You also have to know what your business goals are. If you’re in Kindle Unlimited, it makes sense to run Amazon Ads, but if you’re wide, Facebook can reach more people who read on all platforms. I see some authors give up on ads saying they don’t work, but they aren’t advertising a book written to market, or the cover is bad, or the look inside is full of telling. Another important thing to consider is if you learned how to use the platform. There are a lot of free resources out there and I would never try to put together an ad on a platform I wasn’t familiar with. Once you are familiar and know your ad budget then you have to figure out if your return on investment is worth it to keep running ads. It may not be. So you table that ad platform and write another book, or just hold off on ads for a bit, or try BookBub ads instead. You have to give something time to work. When I was doing Bryan Cohen’s ad challenge, there were so many people who wanted to throw in the towel after the first couple of days. If you feel like that, then maybe you don’t have confidence in your product and your gut is trying to tell you something. If you know you’re advertising a good book, then you should have patience and faith in your product. Your book will be on sale forever (unless you pull it). You can afford to wait a couple months to gather ad data to make good choices.

    The quick and easy guide to Facebook and Amazon (AMS) ads for authors by Derek Murphy

  3. Newsletter. If you haven’t started one, you can start one anytime. If your newsletter has low open rates, figure what why readers don’t want to open your mail. Maybe you’re not giving them anything of value. Maybe you’re not emailing frequently enough. Maybe the only mail you send out is when you have a new release and readers are tired of your “buy buy buy” message you send out every three or four months. Maybe you need a new aggregator because the one you’re using now sends everyone’s mail to their spam folder. If you aren’t getting the results you want, figure out why. Change your newsletter sign up cookie, or offer the readers you already have more content. There is a lot of flexibility here and you can make it work for you.
  4. Your book’s package. It’s easy to fly off the handle with changes when Canva makes it easy to create a book cover, and changing the blurb is as simple as writing something quickly and logging into your KDP account. The thing is though, you have to wait to see if what you already have can work. Run ads, ask in reader groups, or send out your cover and blurb in your newsletter and ask for feedback. I’ve blogged before that it took me a year to change the cover of The Years Between Us, and when I did, I saw immediate results. But when I changed the cover of Wherever He Goes, it did nothing for sales. Whenever I do Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad challenge, the first part of the challenge is always taking a look at the product and making sure your book is sellable. Covers get changed, blurbs get changed, categories are added. I have no doubt that a lot of those changes are for the good of the book, but also if you’re running ads for the first time for only a handful of days and you’re not seeing impressions, that may not have anything to do with your book and going through the hassle of changing your cover may be for nothing. Oftentimes it’s helpful to take a step back and give yourself, and your book, time to breathe while collecting data.

When we talk about old ways keeping doors closed, what we’re doing is talking about years of collected data. I can look back on my 4+ years of indie publishing, and I know what I did wrong. I didn’t network with other romance authors, I don’t have a newsletter. Had I done those two things, maybe my 3rd person present stuff would have sold better. Maybe my POV switch wasn’t necessary and I was just grasping at straws making such a drastic change to my writing career. OR, it could breathe new life into my writing and it could offer more opportunities than I ever thought possible.

That’s the thing with being flexible. My third person books will always be there and I can always go back to them if my first person stuff doesn’t work out, or I need a change of pace. In fact, I had a good standalone idea for my next book that I was going to write before I made the change. Now I can write it in first person or put the idea on hold. I also have 20k of a book that I need to rewrite and finish that was part of a writing prompt I stumbled upon a couple years ago. I wasn’t in a place writing-wise where I could finish it, but my skills have come a long way, and I’d like to revisit it and finish it up.

We have a lot of flexibility as indie authors. Don’t get bogged down with the way you’ve always done things. You could be missing out on a new opportunity!

Until next time!


Happy Monday! Catching up and leaving FB groups.

Good morning, dear readers. I hope you had a restful weekend!

Congratulations to Avalon Greene for winning Derek Murphy’s book! Unfortunately she can’t claim her prize because of her location, but I wanted to thank her for commenting on last week’s blog post!


Last week I started book 2 of a new series while my other series breathes and I can take a step back and give those books another edit with a fresh eye to look for inconsistencies. It’s a huge interconnecting story with a handful of plot threads and before I pass it on I need to take one more look at it. I’m not sure how long I’ll wait before I open those files again, but I’m enjoying working on this new series and I’m not in any rush to publish. 2021 is the year to do things a new way, a better way, and realize how I’ve been publishing isn’t helping me gain readers or make a foothold for myself in the publishing industry. I’m 17,000 words into this new book and my soft deadline is for Valentine’s Day. We’ll see how it goes.

In other news, I’ve culled a few more FB writing/marketing groups from my list. Here are three I dropped and why:

  1. An Amazon Ads group. This group was created by a participant in the Bryan Cohen Ads Profit Challenge last year. It was a group that was supposed to help each other by sharing information and tips and tricks to keep our Amazon ads successful. While it’s smart to know the basics when starting to use Amazon Advertising for the first time, there is only so much Bryan can help you with (especially if you don’t want to pay to join his ad school). The members of this group didn’t understand (or stubbornly didn’t want to understand) that ads are only part of the puzzle when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing. Many were trying to sell only one book, some had not so great covers, some weren’t consistently publishing, and I began to feel like I didn’t fit in there. There is always going to be more to sales and building a readership than tweaking your bid pennies here and pennies there. The Amazon algorithms favor new releases, which is why publishing consistently helps Amazon help you. (Not such great news for me since I sit on books, but there may come a day where I’m confident in my abilities and can publish as I write.) I’m not the ads police, and watching these people over and over debate on what a “good” ad consists of when they’re trying to sell a mediocre book made me clench my jaw too many times. I’m not going state the name of the group because I made some friends there and I wish them the best.
  2. An IngramSpark publishing group. I’m not sure what I thought I was going to get out of this group. I use IngramSpark to publish my paperbacks wide. It didn’t take me long to realize that while authors are smart for using Ingram to get into the bookseller’s catalogue, you should upload your paperback directly to Amazon. I thought it was a well-known fact that Amazon doesn’t play nice with others and if you use IS to distribute to Amazon, your book will frequently show not available. There isn’t a day that goes by when someone wasn’t posting about that in the group and it’s a newbie mistake I was tired of seeing. Use KDP Print to fulfill to Amazon. Use IngramSpark for everywhere else. For your ebook, use KDP to fulfill to Amazon, and try to go direct to Apple (ibooks), Nook, Google Play, and Kobo. The more direct you can go, the less you’ll split your royalties. When you use an aggregator like Draft2Digital, they take a cut distributing your book, then the platform, like Apple, takes another cut for selling it. When you’re trying to make money off a .99 book, there’s not a lot left for you. Use D2D or PublishDrive or even Smashwords to publish to the obscure platforms, but go direct where you can. At least Kobo so you have access to the promotions tab where you can apply for promotional advertising opportunities. Anyway, so many of these groups have members who post questions that can be simply answered by a Google search, and in this new year I’m too busy for that, and my patience wears thin rather quickly these days.
  3. A Book Promotions group. I must have joined this group when I thought it would be a good way to advertise my book. After listening to podcast after podcast explain how (they think) the Amazon algorithms work, and how important your also-boughts are, I would never post my book in a generic group like that. A sale isn’t just a sale–who buys your book and their reading/purchasing history is just as important. That’s something that took me a long time to learn, and authors, even in my Amazon Ads group that I left this morning, don’t want to see it. That’s okay. I’m patient. I’d rather not sell to the wrong people and wait for the right readers to purchase my books. If you think a sale is a sale, and a handful a month is your version of success, then I have nothing to say about it. That is your journey, but we are definitely not taking the same path.

I’m sure I’ll cull more in the coming months. Working full time takes more of my time than I remembered, and my main priority these days will be just getting words on the page. I’m going to turn the Level Up Romance Writers group into my main hub and network and learn from those amazing authors. Going forward, I’m going to make sure the groups I’m involved in align with how I’m running my business and that they aren’t a time-suck or put me in a bad mood. I can’t control what people do or think or feel, I can only control my reactions to those things. I’ve been really good about muting/unfollowing “friends” who condone the violence our president seems to revel in, and though a vaccine is on its way, we are still in a pandemic, most of us hanging in there with our fingernails.

I used to have a huge fear of missing out, but this pandemic has made me see that my bubble is my safe place and that there is no place I’d rather be right now.

I’m being a little more active on Instagram this month, taking part in a #newyearnewwip challenge, which is fun for me since I just started book two. If you want in on the challenge or want to follow me there for the prompts and the snippets I’ll be sharing, look here.

It might be strange to tell you about the groups I’m not in any longer, but there’s also no need to join groups that will do nothing for you. If you’re still kind of new to publishing, join Self Publishing Formula hosted by Mark Dawson. I see newbie questions there as well, but that’s a group that I don’t want to drop so I grin and bear it.

Do you have a favorite writing/marketing/publishing Facebook group? Let me know!


Writerly things I’m enjoying right now!

Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog post of 2021. I thought I would take this blog post as an opportunity to tell you about a few things that I’m enjoying this month! I know money is tight, and I do like to recommend low cost or no cost items on this blog. Read to the bottom to enter into a giveaway for CreativIndie, Derek Murphy’s new book, Craft Book, a book on, well, you guessed it, craft. It’s one of my favorite things this month.

Let’s get started!

Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge
If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ll know that I am a fan of this challenge. Bryan has taught me what I need to get started with ads, and if I pay attention to ad spend there are very few months where I lose money. It take a little time and patience–comparing ad spend to royalties and pausing ads that are spending more than they are bringing in, but I’m just at the beginning of this journey and what Bryan teaches you is free. While it is a tactic to bring in students to his ad school, he DOES teach you enough to get started. I’m well aware of the webinars and infomercials that are full of “Information” but don’t tell you a damned thing. Bryan’s ad challenge isn’t like that. In the challenge he’ll teach you how to:

*contact KDP and add categories to your book and ebook to optimize the category ad placement in the ad dashboard
*ad a subtitle to your ebook to highlight subgenre or trope to your potential reader.
*teach you to write easy ad copy for the kinds of ads where you can add a hook
*find relevant keywords for your ads
*find a workaround if you published via a different platform than KDP and still want to run ads
*what to bid and what your daily budget should be to be profitable with ads
*teach you what conversion means. If you have plenty of clicks and no sales, something is wrong. He’ll help you puzzle out why your book isn’t selling.

The group also offers a ton of support. His successful Amazon Ad School students help him moderate the FB group page and answers all the questions! They also moderate his FB live segments. There is plenty of support if you missed something or need clarification.

Some information is the same, some is different as between each challenge, Amazon tweaks the ad dashboard. I participate in the background to glean new information, but this will be my 5th ad challenge, and I don’t think I can do anything more with the information he’s given me except 1) join his ad school and/or 2) publish more books.

If you’re interested in his next challenge, it starts January 11th, and you can click here for the signup website.*

*This is not an affiliate link. I don’t get anything for recommending this challenge to you.


The 2021 Author’s Planner
I’m not much of a planner, but when Craig Martelle from 20booksto50k mentions something, it’s worth taking a look. He posted about this author’s planner, and I went ahead and bought a copy. His link is for Lulu, and the book is spiral bound. That is great for not ruining a book’s spine if you need full access to write on the page. Amazon also offers one with a perfect-bound spine, meaning as with KDP it’s glued together. That’s not such a big deal if you need to save a little money and you don’t mind cracking a spine to have access to the whole page. I’m pretty hard on my books and cracking a spine never has bothered me. (Don’t look at the covers of books I’ve taken into the bathtub!)

Taken from the Amazon Product page

The book looks fun and helps you stay on track with writing, publishing, and your newsletter. I’m excited because I have a lot going on in 2021, with new releases, and new “pen name” and the start up of a new newsletter. It’s difficult for me to pivot this way, but I’m going to use what I learned in the last four years to really make a mark with my books. Having a plan will go a long way to keeping me accountable!

Here is the link for the Amazon perfect bound edition.*

Here is the link Craig posted for the Lulu spiral bound edition.*

Let me know if you buy it and what you think.

*These are not affiliate links. I don’t get anything for recommending this book to you.


Five-Minute Focus by Craig Martelle
Speaking of Craig Martelle, what I’m really enjoying these days are his 5 minute focus videos on YouTube. He takes 5-6 minutes to talk about something like hooks, blurbs, covers, motivation, whatever and he’s just a lot of fun to listen to. He’s making a lot of money with his books, and he has a right to be excited, but no matter where you are in your author journey you have a lot to be excited about too, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about. Listen to them all at once, or one a day. He seems to record them regularly. I also like the talks between him and Michael Anderle. If you want to listen to two men talk successful indie publishing with a huge dose of gratitude for what they have, these are your men.


A Book on Craft
Last, but not least, is Derek Murphy’s book Book Craft: How to write books readers love, from first draft to final polish. I’m only fifteen percent into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s not stuffy like some nonfiction books, and I like his voice and his stories. Just a warning though, if you don’t like books that tell you to write to market, you may not enjoy this one. Derek is all about helping you write a novel and while he wants you to write your passion project, he also wants to guide that project into a book that readers will want to read.

Me reading this book is like listening to a preacher while I’m standing in the choir, but we all need to be reminded now and then that after our book is written and published, it’s up to the readers to decide if you’ve written what they are going to enjoy.

I’ve been in this business long enough (and have learned the lessons) that you can’t make it if you don’t write what readers what to read and package it in a pleasing manner. I’ve seen authors publish books in the double digits and barely sell any every month for the simple fact their covers are bad or the look inside is boring because they started their story in the wrong place.

While it’s not fair to leave a glowing review of a book when I’ve only finished 15%, I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the whole thing, and I think you will too!

Here are the cover and the blurb:

Image and blurb taken from Amazon.

Everybody wants to write a book, but most authors fall short.

You have a gift, but it’s not enough. Deep magic isn’t a spontaneous explosion of creative energy. That burns too hot. It’s unstable and unpredictable. Real power comes from deliberation, skill and craft. But you need a guide to unlock a writing practice that ignites your true potential. This is it.

You have been told that writing is a type of magic, that all craft-based strategies are blasphemy. But smart authors recognize that even if writing is an art, it’s also a craft to be mastered. It’s time to peer beyond the veil, and unlock your unique brand of powerful book craft.

This is not a book, it’s an initiation. You’re here because you love the alchemical process where your creativity and inspiration bleed onto the page. You’ve tasted the power of using letters to communicate ideas and cast spells, bewitching readers and captivating them with the powers of your mind.

You’ve got a taste for it, but you want more. So you’ve sought me out, and here we are. This information took me decades to uncover, and I don’t reveal it lightly. Not every author is ready to hear the valuable lessons I’m about to share with you, but this book isn’t for them. It’s for you.

The truth is, there are things that great books have in common- and even more informative, there are definitely signs of weak writing, which can be easily identified and avoided. 

This book will help you to…

  • Plot your book without stifling your creativity
  • Hit crucial turning points to keep readers engaged
  • Improve pacing & backstory without info-dumps
  • Increase stakes, drama and conflict
  • Double your word count and stay motivated
  • Avoid common amateur mistakes & lazy writing
  • Heighten intrigue & suspense to keep readers invested
  • How to know your book will sell before you write it
  • Why readers stop reading and how to fix it
  • Simple plotting and outlining strategies so you can write faster 
  • Revise and edit your first draft and identify problems fast 
  • Save thousands of dollars on editing and increase book sales

Ready to move from the slush pile to the bookshelf?
Scroll up and improve your writing today!

If this is a book you think you’ll enjoy, leave a comment at the end of this blog post, and on January 11th I’ll choose a winner and send the winner a copy of the ebook.


2020 is over and it’s time to kick the dust of your boots. There’s a meme out there that says you can’t claim 2021 as your year, but hell yeah, do it anyway. I have. 2021 is a fresh start to many aspects in my life, and I bet it is for you too! Hopefully these tools can help you succeed! Happy New Year!

What. Ever.

Amazon Ads: A discussion

A love a good round table talk about things that are working in the indie community. Be it a new marketing tactic or a new way of doing things, I’m all in. I may not take any action–mostly because I know I’m not already doing what I could using tried and true methods, like building a newsletter. But I really enjoy reading discussions about something I’ve tried and can compare what their opinions and expreiences, especially when heavy-hitters in the industry weigh in with what is working for them–and what isn’t.

Trust me, if something isn’t working for them–you’re not going to get it to work for you.

And as always, we have to think of what our definition of success is. When it comes to selling books, that may mean one stranger buying your book. That may mean your first review from someone you don’t know. When you get to the people who are trying to make a living, usually their version of success is making money to live on, quitting their day jobs, maybe using their royalties to have a more comfortable retirement. Indies just starting out think small. A book here, a book there, clicks and tons of impressions are all that is needed to spur them on. I get annoyed, mostly because if you think small, you’ll be happy with peanuts. Someday I would like to quit my day job. I doubt that will never happen, but if I don’t at least aim for it, it won’t, for sure.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I stubbled upon a discussion in the Self Publishing Formula Facebook group headed by Mark Dawson. Mark runs an ads course and is a very successful indie in his own right. Other big names who were chiming in included AG Riddle and Russell Blake. I really want to copy and paste parts of the discussion, but it’s a private group and I don’t want to get kicked out. If you’re an indie and want to join, the link is here: SPF Community.

AG posted a poll: Do Amazon Ads work? In later comments he amended his question to, Do Amazon Ads work right now? And I feel that while some people are still getting their ads to work, the consensus was actually, no they don’t.

At least, not in the way we hope they will.

Lots of things come into play here, and the one that I’m reminded of most is that while Amazon Ads won’t let your book sink down the rankings into obscurity, what you want the ads to do is help your book get sticky enough that Amazon helps you sell it. Email blasts, recommending your book, hitting the popularity list being chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal. Ads alone aren’t going to help you do this. This is what I gleaned from the conversation, and you can tell me if you agree.

Do Amazon Ads work?

*Yes. If you have a series. Someone commented and said that ads don’t truly work if you’re counting on read through to cover the cost of the click. This is a good point and why the number one piece of advice is to write in a series. But the ad is still putting book one in front of readers. It’s up to the strength of the book (is it well-written) and if the other books are available if the ad spend is going to be worth it.

Let’s look at the cost of a click for a standalone book at .99. You don’t get .99 off that sale–your max royalty amount is 35%, so about .35 cents. If you bid .35 on a click, you’re breaking even, right? That’s what I’m doing right now on my first in series. I put it on sale for .99 until the end of the year because it’s a holiday romance. My other books in that series are 2.99. With dynamic bids down, my clicks won’t always cost the exact amount I bid, and I may make .10-.15 on that first book. My others are priced at 2.99, in which I get my 70% royalty, or 2.09.

*Yes. If your book sells well at full price or is in KU. I’ll make more off a .99 cent book in KU than I will selling it for that price. I can spend .35 a click because a full KU read of book one will earn me 1.35. Which is a dollar in royalties.

*Yes. If you have all your categories and targeting situated. There’s nothing Amazon hates more than showing your book to people who won’t buy it. It’s a waste of time for them and for their customer. Customer satisfaction is all Amazon wants and if you’re trying to show your book to as many people as possible and you lose relevancy, Amazon will stop showing it. That’s tough for authors who genre-mash, write without thinking and have no idea what their genre is, or have poor product pages. I didn’t consider why an ad would stop working until I read Robert J Ryan’s book, Amazon Ads Unleashed.

*Yes. If your book is a good product and has the reviews to prove it. There’s not much to say here, and I’ll quote two of the comments:

Ads can only give extra visibility to what you’ve got – they can’t make it sell better. The product does the selling, not the ads.

Robert J Ryan

A very long time ago I got a degree in advertising. One of the bits of wisdom I remember is that good advertising will kill a bad product quicker.

Jennifer L Anderson

*Yes. If you know how to use them. Figuring out how the platform works takes a bit of time, and even though you may not spend much, if you want to see traction, you have to be able to afford some spending money for clicks. As I write this, I’m 19 dollars ahead for the month, but I wouldn’t be there if I couldn’t afford the 10 dollars I’ve already spent on clicks.

The problem is, Amazon ads will help you, but by a very thin margin. Using ads won’t make you a millionaire over night. I break even every month, sometimes make a little–a cup of coffee little. I have ten books out, I’m writing more (or trying to. My life has been a bit trying lately), and my covers, at least, I think, are on point even if I’ve done them myself. It took a long time for me to realize I wasn’t writing what was selling, and lots of authors do that. Maybe they’re writing fantasy, but they aren’t hitting the tropes. Maybe they’re planning a series, but only have book one released.

It’s obvious the better product you have, the more successful you’ll be. Mark Dawson has professional covers, and he writes in a couple popular series. Plus, he’s a good writer. I think all the big indies who have “made it” can safely assume their writing is good and resonates with readers. If you’re pushing water up hill as Robert J. Ryan likes to say in his book, then you need to take a look at the product, not blame the ads.

I enjoyed the discussion very much, and I hope you look it up if you haven’t. I think one of the key takeaways from the discussion is that everyone agreed they used to work better than they do right now. The market is super saturated, and by some very talented authors. We have to work with what we’ve got, and using other platforms in conjunction with Amazon ads may be the better way to go. All the big indies who joined in the discussion have large email lists and they use ads to bring new readers in, not keep readers from disappearing. That’s an important observation, and one I have taken note of.

Have you found a secret ingredient to make Amazon ads work for you? Let me know!


Thursday Musings: Working from home, new processes, and a new book!

Happy Thursday, everyone! We are all on pins and needles waiting for the election results. No matter who you voted for, I hope our president can make 2021 a great year for all of us!


Last week I finished another round of edits for my King’s Crossing Billionaire Series. I wish I could afford to send them off to an editor and wash my hands of them (except for putting in the edits afterward, of course) but I have no idea how a prolific author can afford an editor, even paying for simple proofreading, if the money isn’t coming in yet. I’ve snooped around for pricing, but man. Editors charge a lot. I totally get that, but scraping up the money for project after project, I don’t get how indies can afford it. I mean sure, I understand that eventually you’re going to make money, but if you’re not quite doing that yet, it’s tough to afford editing. Everyone says it’s an investment, and it really is, but you shouldn’t have to choose between putting out a quality book and paying for food. It’s tough. So I’ll be taking a break from those 6 books and come back to them after the New Year with fresh eyes. I”ll listen to them and make more changes and then go ahead and put them out.

Until then, I’ve started a standalone in first person present POV about a man who is tasked to marrying off his boss’s daughter for a share in his boss’s company. He falls in love with her instead, naturally, forfeiting his share of the company for love. Tentatively titled The Contract, it was supposed to be a reader magnet for my newsletter I wanted to get up and going this year. I’m 12,000 words into it already, (I started it Monday of this week) have most of the book outlined, and to be honest, I don’t want to give it away. I think it would be a great first book under my new name for the first person books I’m going to start writing. (I still go back and forth with what that will be. Some derivative of my real name is all I know.) This leaves me in a real jam because I should have my newsletter set up for the back matter of The Contract. I don’t need a reader magnet for organic signups like that, but I should have something which means writing something else in the near future. I just need something simple that will be a novella-length book that I won’t feel bad about giving away. Maybe I can pull something out of a plot generator and take six days to write 30,000 words of…something.


My new project would qualify me to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ve never needed the motivation to write quickly. I enjoy the work for what it is, and have enough support on Facebook in some of my groups. I don’t know how long The Contract will turn out to be, but it would be nice if I could hit the 80,000 word mark or so. We’ll see. I always stress about word count–it seems it’s part of my process.

Speaking of processes, starting a new project while working from home is different. When I used to go to work, I only had a notebook and pen, and being I was attached to my call station, I didn’t have any distractions. Working from home is a lot different environment, and sitting with a pad and pen here feels weird. I still need to outline–I’ll never be a good pantser. I need to know where the story is going or I would never be able to write as fast as I do. But not going into work doesn’t give me the downtime that was forced upon me, and I have to actively make time to daydream about my characters, brainstorm plots, and generally imagine the pieces of my book to put them together on paper. It’s definitely a new way of doing things.


I’ve had to pause all my ads because I’m eight dollars in the hole already this month. It would be nice if I could keep my series moving as it’s a winter wedding setting and takes place a couple weeks before Christmas, but this is a bad time of year and I don’t want to pump money into ads if no one is the mood to read. I see lots of that in my FB groups now–how everyone’s ads are dead, no one is buying and is there anything they can do? The answer is no. If there’s no demand, there’s no need for product. If people are worried about the election results, stressing if it’s safe to gather for Thanksgiving, and if the answer is yes, then doing the grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, and whatever else people are busy with this time of year, you can’t make them sit down and read your book. You’re better off forgetting ad maintenance for now and writing something new so you have a new release set up for when all this craziness is over. I know it’s a different story when you depend on your royalties, and I’m not there yet. But spending time tinkering with ads, trying to get them to deliver impressions and clicks is a waste of time.


That’s all I have for you on this Thursday’s author musings. I’m excited to be writing something fresh, and I don’t think it will take me long to get this book done. Hopefully I’m looking at a February release, and then over next spring and summer I can get my 6 book series out. I’m not so down in the dumps as I was a couple of blog posts ago. Life happens, and all you can do is roll with it.

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!