The biggest lesson I’ve learned in 2022 and how I’m going to use in it 2023

Like a reader pointed out in her comment on my blog post last week, sometimes people have to learn things on their own and in their own time. That’s never been more true for publishing. There is so much information out there, and to consume it in some way (blog post, podcast, non-fiction book, reading a tweet) then applying it to your own circumstances can be a lot of work–and you need a healthy dose of self-awareness to even know you need the information in the first place. Not at easy feat when we’re told from the second we start writing our books that our novels are our babies and every baby is beautiful, not a product to sell.

https://quotefancy.com/quote/1139974/Jackie-Collins-I-have-written-20-books-and-each-one-is-like-having-a-baby-Writing-is-not

It’s important to know where you want your publishing to go (well it is for me–I’m done trying to tell people what to do), and you can think about these things if you’re unsatisfied with where your career is up to this point: Do you want to publish for fun and earn some pocket money, or do you want more? Do you want to make what you’d earn working part-time? Do you want to be a full-time writer and quit your day job? I think a lot of us, whether we really want to admit it nor not, would love to at least make a part-time income. Part-time, for me, would be about $10,000/year. Depending on where you live in the world and what you do as a profession, that’s either a lot or barely what you earn in a month at your day job. I work for a non-profit, I’m barely scraping by, and that’s half of what I make in a year. To say an extra $10,000 a year would turn my life around is an understatement. It would take care of a lot of worries for me. It’s not asking a lot, but that is the biggest thing I’ve learned this year–I have to write out a goal in black and white and figure out a plan on how to get there.

Changing what I’m writing was a good start (and something not a lot of people are willing to do). Most indie romances are written in first person now, and two years ago, I pivoted and that’s what I started writing in. It wasn’t that difficult–just a minor change in mindset and some feedback to put me on the right path since I’ve never written in it before and only read it without acknowledging it like the Hunger Games trilogy and the Twilight series.

But I need to do more than that. Through the years I’ve gotten the basics down: that marketing pertains to your whole brand and what you’re offering readers across the board as apposed to advertising which is only buying promos and running ads to your books. It’s funny that when you start a pen name you get a fresh start when it comes to your brand. I had to figure out how I was going to present myself to readers. It helped that I already had a few books written (not published) and I caught on to some characteristics/themes that I can play with: my characters are older, some divorced, they’ve gone through a trauma which means a shitty backstory they have yet to overcome so they can find love. My covers are cohesive, even if they aren’t in the same series, and over time I want people to be able to catch a glimpse of a cover and say, “That’s a VM Rheault romance.” That’s branding, that’s marketing, and that’s something I’ve learned on my own over the past five years. That’s not anything anyone can explain to someone else–it has to click. (When you have 20 books and they all look different, maybe it will click or maybe it won’t, or maybe you just don’t care. And definitely, under no circumstance, will I tell you that you should.)

Made in Canva

So for 2023, I thought I’d do the math and figure out what I needed to make $10,000 a year. Having more books, of course, is helpful all around, and right now I only have three under my pen name, though All of Nothing, a standalone under my full name, has been my biggest earner since I published it and my small-town holiday series comes in second because of read-through. I’ll always run ads to those books, but as I figured out during my Freebooksy promo, I think I just want to focus on my first person books for now and see what I can do with them. I have three out, I’ll release three more in January, and a standalone in March.

What I’m thinking, and though I haven’t accomplished it, I know it’s achievable, is the idea taken from the 20booksto50k concept, being if you have 20 books published, you should be able to make $50,000 a year. Twenty books is a lot of books (and let’s assume we’re talking full-length novels, only based on the idea that I’m in Kindle Select, and the longer the book the more you earn from page reads.) Maybe then, you can halve that and say I want to make $25,000 off ten books. That’s nothing I’ve done with my ten that’s written in 3rd person, but I know where I went wrong, even if they are in 3rd person. I didn’t stick to one sub-genre, my covers were abysmal because I did them myself starting out, my trilogy wasn’t solid because my writing just wasn’t there yet. I could have hired a better editor than I had, though, I just hadn’t written enough to find my voice and my writing was the best it could be at the time. I definitely could have had better covers, but I hadn’t heard the secret of researching the top 100 in that genre and blending in with those books. I was all about the “vibe” and capturing it on the cover, and I definitely didn’t know about stock photo sites and used pictures from Pixabay which is a huge no-no. I didn’t know how to write good blurbs or good ad copy for ads, and I didn’t know how to use those platforms anyway. It’s not a surprise that I haven’t earned $25,000 a year off those books. I was doing too many things wrong. Even though they’re “fixed” too much time has gone by to do anything with them.

Now I’m on the right path, or at least a frontage road going in the right direction, having a concrete number to shoot for is probably best. There are some things you need to know, such as your ratio of read-through from book one to the others if you have a series, and how much you earn from page reads if you’re in KU. I’m actually kind of surprised to see how many authors don’t know how to calculate pages read when they’re in KU. I’ll show you quick in case you don’t know. To find how many KENPs (Kindle Edition Normalized Page) are in your book if it’s enrolled in Kindle Select so it’s available in Kindle Unlimited, you have to go to your bookshelf, click on the promote and advertise tab of the ebook and it’s at the very bottom of that page.

My KENP for Captivated by Her is 404. Now that we know that, we can divide the number of page reads with that number to find out how many total books have been read. When I look for the number of pages reads for Captivated by Her for this year I get 14,800. 14,800/404 is 36.63. So roughly 36 full books in page reads since I published in June. You should know the KENP of all your books. (If you want to know how much you earn, multiply the total number of page reads by .0045 [the average payout of a page read by KDP–this fluctuates and you can use .0044 or even .0043 if you want to assume a decrease] and in my case 14800*.0045 is $66.60).

The KENP for the second book in that duet is 397. We can do the same for Addicted to Her: I’ve had 4593 pages read, equalling 11 full books read. (Royalties–4593*.0045=$20.66.). We don’t have to do the math to see that there is a significant drop off from book one to book two. And thanks to Mal Cooper, this is how you figure that percentage. But first, KU reads are only part of the equation. I did have a couple sales, so let’s factor those in.

Captivated: KU page reads equalling 36 books. Sales 13 (9 ebook, 4 print) Total: 36+13 = 49
Addicted: KU page reads equalling 11 books. Sales 5 (3 ebook, 2 print) Total 11+5 = 16

According to Mal’s math, you divide the number of book 2 by the number of book 1 and it looks like this:

16 / 49 = 32%.

32% of the readers who read book one went on to read book two. Mal says you want read through from book one to book two to be about 50% and each book after that will likely drop even more. If you want to read more about read-through, I grabbed her formula from the post she did for Dave Chesson, and you can read it here. https://kindlepreneur.com/calculate-series-read-through/

Where were we again? Oh, yeah, so I want to know how many books I would have to sell if I want to make $10,000 from my books next year. My books are around the same length so we can assume I make $1.78 from every full book read in KU and $3.49 for every ebook sale. (Remember to give KDP or your other platforms their %–Amazon takes 30% if you choose the 70% royalty, and 70% of 4.99 is $3.49.)

If we just go by full sales and not page reads, I would have to sell 2,865 books in 2023 to earn $10,000. Considering in my lifetime of publishing, I’ve only sold 887 books (not counting page reads) that seems like a significant feat–on the other hand, it’s not as many as I thought it would be. $10,000 sounds like such a large sum, LOL. But that’s also 5,617 full books read in KU, which may or may not be easier. ($10,000/$1.78 = 5,617 books.)

The math seems like the easiest part–it’s the advertising and marketing that trips us up. So what am I planning to do to sell that many books?

Use my Bookfunnel subscription in a more productive way. I haven’t taken advantage of any promos or newsletter builder opportunities. I’ve been waiting until my newsletter looks like it has something to offer and also been waiting until I have a few more books in my backlist. I plan to snoop around after my trilogy is out. I’ll have six books published and that seems like a good number to see how things go.

Keep going with ads. After the holidays I’m going bump up my bid per click on my Amazon ads and create some new ones with updated keywords and see if that helps. Right now I’m doing conservative bidding per Bryan Cohen but romance is competitive and bumping up my bids might help with impressions and getting more clicks. Amazon ads are easy with category and keyword ads, but Facebook is a bit trickier when it comes to building your target audience. I’m going to research a little more into how to build that audience so I’m not wasting clicks.

Buy more promos. There are a few I haven’t tried like Ereader News Today, Robin’s Reads, and Fussy Librarian that will put books in front of readers who have never heard of me before.

Start posting regularly on my FB pages. I was sneaky and turned my Vania Margene Rheault Author page into my VM Rheault Author page so I don’t haven’t start from scratch there. I don’t have a significant following, but I connected that to my Instagram that I also rebranded. I’m going to try harder to post content on there rather than waste time on Twitter. I’m so disillusioned with my experience on Twitter lately that the best thing I can do is to spend that time in a place that will have a better return on investment. I also have my V’s Vixens reader page that I started that I run ads from. If I post content there regularly, I can pick up followers from my ads. Building a social media platform takes time, patience, and content. If I trade the hour I spend scrolling Twitter every day, I should be able to post content no problem and that should be better for me long-term.

Publish consistently. The best thing I can do is publish consistently. I have the next 18 months set out and hopefully, by the time those books run out, I’ll have 6 more (or another year’s worth). I don’t want to think of my books as widgets on a factory conveyor belt, but I have to admit, there isn’t so much pressure to write quickly when I know I have time. With how my mind works it’s difficult for me to write a new WIP and go back and promote older books, but I’m going to explore turning two days a week into marketing only and then the rest of the week into writing days. Maybe that will help. Focus is a good thing until it’s not. Then you have to figure out ways to work around it and make it work for you rather than against you.

Keep putting my books on Booksprout for reviews. Publishing without reviews is tough and my duet may never recover (which would be a crummy start to my pen name). All I can do promote it and hope readers who like it review it. Unless I pull them out of KU and put them up in Booksprout, there’s not much more I can do, but I’m not willing to do that. It was a mistake I’ll learn from and move on.


Will I get to $10k in 2023? I don’t know. I’ve never been in this place in my life with all that I know now. If all goes to plan, I’ll have 8 books for sure, maybe 10 with two of my six book series released toward the later part of the year. All I can do is my best, apply what I’ve learned, and hopefully I’ll find some readers who enjoy my books!

I have three more Mondays after today to post before the New Year. One will be my end of the year recap that I usually do, and the other two, I’m not sure. The last Monday is the day after Christmas, so I might take that Monday off. We’ll see. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Thursday Author Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thanks for reading today, and have a great weekend!

Monday Musings and an Author Update

I don’t even know where to start this week. As much as I absolutely love doing every little bit for each and every book, these projects feel like they take so much work to get from my head and onto Amazon’s website.

Last week I finished listening to the last book of my trilogy. I can pick up 99.9% of typos that way, and it makes for a pretty clean final draft. I need to keep a list of words I like to lean on while I’m writing, as I discovered the word “just” in my 3rd book and went back to the first and second and realized I abused it there too. All told among three books, I think I edited out about 300. Some make sense, some can be deleted without changing the sentence, and sometimes a better word can replace it. It wasn’t a huge task, but it added an extra hour to my editing on Wednesday. But, I know the books are better for it, so I can’t be too annoyed. Last Friday I was able to format them all, much to my delight, and over the weekend I was able to create my covers.

I’m not going with the covers I talked about in my last blog post. Honesty is always the best policy (with yourself and others, but especially with yourself), and they were just not a good fit for the billionaire subgenre. It sucks, because they’re pretty and I like them, but they aren’t going to do the job. What really tripped me up was looking for models who are older. I have one MC who is 45 and another who is almost 50, and while I’m not one to care if a model matches the description inside, I can’t portray young men on the covers when there are not young men inside. There are very few older men models on DepositPhotos (that are model quality, anyway, sorry guys), and I happened to use the most popular one on Rescue Me. Luckily, my next couple of books are finished cover-wise, so I won’t be scrolling through stock sites again anytime soon. DepositPhotos seems to be kind of picked over at this point, and that will be a dilemma I’ll need to face down the road. Covers are super agonizing, but I’m confident what I finally came up with will work. They are better suited, and they still have their heads. I suppose if that’s the only thing I can’t bend on, I’m not doing too bad.


The problem I have, and will always have, is doing what you want vs. what you need to do to sell books. Someone in one of my author groups on FB posted the other day and said the best thing about being an indie is not having to appeal to everybody. I read that, and I was so confused. Of course you don’t want to appeal to everybody, but you want to appeal to SOMEBODY, preferably readers in your genre, and you can’t do that if your cover looks like Photoshop and DepositPhoto had a baby. I write this blog and publish my books in the POV of a single mom with a full-time job that doesn’t pay very much. I get it. You’re broke, I’m broke, and paying out for everything is just not possible. I have never ever said you shouldn’t publish if you can’t afford things like covers and editing. But I was listening to a Clubhouse room not long ago and one of the speakers said this: You’re gonna pay. You’re gonna pay at the beginning when you hire out for an editor and cover designer and a formatter if you don’t know a kind soul who has Vellum, and if you don’t pay there, you’re going to pay with readers after you publish your book. You won’t have any. If you don’t have money to spend, you have to spend the time, and I can’t tell you how many premade sites I perused, how many current top 100 romance lists I looked at trying to gauge what I needed compared to the skills I have that yes, I have tried to cultivate over the course of the six years I’ve been publishing (but I am not an expert by any means).

It’s easy to believe what you hear. I got a lot of good feedback from those sunset/city covers I posted on Twitter, but Twitter writers are not my readers and while I appreciate the compliments, it doesn’t matter if they liked them or not. What matters is my readers like them enough to buy my book and read it. That’s all I want. That’s the cover’s only job. It isn’t about pride or what you like, and you can look for validation on Twitter until the cows come home, but when you buy a promo and you don’t get your money back, that’s the real validation. Giving away 4,000 copies of my first in series during a Freebooksy and paying for that fee the first day with KU page reads is a high that will never, ever get old.

Anyway, that seems to be a theme lately, the them vs us. Indie vs. readers, indie vs. traditional publishing. There is no versus if you do things the way things are meant to be done. There is no line, and I keep trying to figure out who is drawing it. If you’re standing on one side of that line, why? You have to identify with being an indie so hard that you’re willing to sacrifice readers for the control? Who is really in control when a reader sees your book, doesn’t like the cover, doesn’t like the title, doesn’t like your blurb and decides not to buy? Your control is an illusion. The control is with the reader who bought a different book.


Ooof, I’m done with this part of it. There are too many negative emotions online lately. Fear and doubt and desperation. No sales and launches that sink. 965 words of you can do better and your books and readers will thank you.

Besides the painful realization my covers needed a third revamp (no one saw my first try besides my friend Sami-Jo) the rest of what I have going on should be okay. Vellum is a dream and I formatted pretty quickly. I need some blurb feedback that I’ll seek out while I get some other stuff done, and all in all, I’m excited to publish these. I still have to adjust my author name on the hardcover of Rescue Me and approve it, but otherwise there’s nothing I need to backtrack for unless I want to load it into IngramSpark too, but I’m not in a hurry to publish my paperback there. If you’re looking for a freebie upload, you can sign up for their blog. They’ll let you know promo codes every so often, and this one popped in my email yesterday:

6 Figure Authors Podcast did a catch up episode that I was excited to see. I thought it was old until Lindsay (on Twitter) said it was new, and you can listen to it here.

That’s about all I have for this week. I’ve decided to work on completing my series that I started over COVID lockdown. I have two done, four more to go, and last night I was trying to think of why I stalled out when I realized it was because I decided I needed a reader magnet for a newsletter that was a long time in coming, and I stopped my series to write a novella. Three full-length books later I realized I can’t write a novella and ended up using the shortest of the three (76k words) as a freebie for my newsletter. Now it’s time to get back into finishing that series because I want to tackle a long series about one couple like Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series. I’m not sure on plot, though Lindsay Buroker was talking about psychics some time ago, and that idea has been rattling around in my brain for a long time now trying to tie a psychic in with the billionaire subgenre. And at some point I have three standalones I want to write, so I’m glad I won’t be running out of material for the next little while. But as always, I’m getting ahead of myself, and maybe I’ll take a couple days off after my trilogy is uploaded to Amazon and my proofs ordered. I’m on track to publish in January providing nothing strange happens. I won’t be participating in NaNo this year, though I rarely do. This November I’ll be rereading the first two books and making plans for the other four. I don’t have their plots laid out yet, and I can only blame the planster life for that. I know who the characters are for the most part, but not much more.

Next week I can write about my second try with Booksrpout and catch you up on how my Amazon ads are doing and how my Facebook Ad is doing with my reader magnet and my newsletter sign up.

Have a good week!

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 (Yep, Again)

I wish I had more to write about this week, but the problem is, I just haven’t been into listening to podcasts or reading the non-fiction books that have accumulated in my TBR pile. If it’s not happening on Twitter then I probably don’t know much about it which is sad, but the state of my life at the moment.

King’s Crossing
I’m knee deep editing my King’s Crossing series and it’s slow going because all the “takes” and “makes” I thought I managed to get rid of before I formatted them and ordered the proofs. Well, I didn’t do as good as job as I thought. I probably got tired, and I can’t blame myself because holy God, there are a lot. If I didn’t have that to worry about, I think these books would actually sound pretty good. No typos, at least, still getting rid of some repetitive words, but after editing the first two books of my trilogy, I can definitely tell these are the first books I wrote writing in first person. I fell into a bad rhythm and editing it out, even after several passes, has been a lot of work. Still, seeing them in book form has been very helpful, and I’m confident after this final pass, they will be good enough to publish. I’m only on book two, and there are a lot of sentences I marked that I have to rewrite, but the story is good. The consistency (so far) is solid, and I’m very happy with that. I’m also happy with the logo I created using a DepositPhotos vector I found:

Made with a vector from DepositPhotos in Canva

The “Book One” changes obviously, but after several failed attempts to create a logo with an X myself, I was so happy to have stumbled upon an X with a crown already made. I seriously love it!

Booksprout
I went ahead and put Rescue Me on Booksprout. I did it over Labor Day weekend, which probably wasn’t the best time, but so far I’ve given away 24 out of the 25 copies they make available. The paperback is already on Amazon, no sales, of course, but that’s okay. I’ll put the ebook up on October 1 like I planned and hope there will be a few reviews when I do. I’ll offer a few copies to my newsletter, though last month I had 7 people unsubscribe. I don’t know yet if they are good subscribers or not. From what I’ve heard, the open rate is decent (40%) but I ran a giveaway and only one person entered. After hosting giveaways on here with little participation, that’s actually not surprising, but it’s too bad because it’s a really great prize! What I need to do is think about running my ad on Facebook again for my reader magnet and see if I can’t get some more subscribers, and also look into Bookfunnel promos since I’m already paying for that. If you want a copy of Rescue Me, a one-night stand, steamy billionaire romance with an HEA, then grab a copy. It’s offered through Bookfunnel and I limited it to the first 20 people who download. You don’t have to give me your email. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/z92k8x1a92. Here’s the blurb. I got a little help from S. J. Cairns, and I think it sounds pretty good:

Sam
When my wife passed away, I buried my life with her.
For two years, I lived like I was already dead.
Until one night, when I meet Lily. Lying in her arms, I’m reminded of what hope feels like.
But sometimes what could have been is stronger than what could be, and I have a difficult time letting my wife’s memory go.
As I get to know Lily, I realize it isn’t only my past standing in our way, and what I’ll have to do to stop hers from destroying her future may very well destroy mine instead.

Lily
Billionaire Samuel Sharpe is beaten down and weary, and when we meet in a hotel bar, there’s no way I can say no when he asks me upstairs.
After a violent divorce, I’m struggling to find a fresh start, and a one night stand with the man who would turn out to be my boss isn’t part of the plan.
My ex-husband broke me, and until I met Sam, I didn’t think anyone could put me back together again.
I should have known my past wouldn’t leave me alone, and I can’t ask Sam to rescue me.
Compared to his wife’s memory, I’m not worth saving.

Hardbacks
With some persuading, I created hardcover versions for the two books in my duet. It didn’t take that long, and with some help from JP Garland, I was able to position the elements on the cover correctly, as the template is a bit different. I’ll write about it in full when I get my proof copies so I can post a picture. I placed the order today and it said they won’t come until the beginning of October, but I won’t forget.

IngramSpark
I approved my duet paperbacks on IngramSpark this morning. It took a little back and forth on the second book with the cover as they kept saying my spine was wrapping onto the front, but when I adjusted it, it still wasn’t correct. I overcorrected then they said my spine was too narrow, but that seemed to knock me out of a loop and when I moved my elements back to where they were before, the cover was accepted. I don’t use the Expanded Distribution option on KDP as I feel IngramSpark is more professional if I want to have my books in bookstores or if one day I ever drudge up the courage to ask the indie bookstore in downtown Fargo to carry my books. I’m always amused when authors bring in their author copies from Amazon, like they don’t understand that Amazon is every bookstore’s competitor and booksellers really don’t want the KDP POD stamp in the backs of the books they’re selling. It’s just proof to me that indies need to keep an eye on their own business and do things the professional way so they look like they know what they’re doing. Publishing is a business, after all, and booksellers don’t have to waste time with an indie who isn’t professional. There are plenty of authors who are.


That really is about all. Since my mind is a one-way track, I’ll be focusing on proofing the proofs of my series. I won’t be able to think about anything else until that’s done, but with as quickly as it’s going, I should be able to have them finished by the middle of October. Entering in the fixes takes longer than reading the proofs because for some reason, seeing a sentence that needs to be rewritten…i can’t wrap my mind around writing it in a different way. It’s just roadblock I need to overcome because of course there’s a different way to rewrite a sentence. There’s a million different ways to rewrite a sentence. After that’s completed, I will put all my attention on my trilogy because I want to get those out in January, and I have to still finalize covers and write my blurbs. With all that going on, I’m itching to get back to writing, but depending on how all the above goes, I may not be writing new material until next year. It’s just how my mind works. I’ve decided to go with it instead of fighting it. Besides, I like getting one project done and moving to the next. I feel more productive than having three or four things going on at once.

I hope you all have a good week! There’s not much of 2022 left. Do you have any goals you want to reach before then?

Until next time!

Monday Musings and What I’m Liking Right Now

This is the last Monday of August, and I hope the month has treated you well. I got a lot done this month, including finishing the last book of my trilogy. It came in at a little over 80k and I’m pleased with how all the books turned out. They still need editing, but I’m on track to release them in January. I still don’t have a firm publishing schedule for them, maybe a week apart, but I do know that I’m not waiting between books like I did for my duet.

Sales of my duet have been slow, and no reviews on Amazon for either book as of yet. I’m running Amazon ads and actually just created a couple of fresh ones with a higher bid hoping to get more impressions and a few more clicks. I contacted the Librarian’s group on Goodreads and had my second book added to my pen name profile. The one thing I dislike about adding a subtitle to an ebook is that it looks like a different book from the paperback, and I have no idea why the paperback of Captivated was added but the ebook of Addicted was after that. It’s annoying, and though I don’t have any kind of OCD, I grind my teeth anyway.

Not that I should care, I guess, but it just looks funny to me. There have been discussions wondering if adding a keyword-stuffed subtitle is necessary or even helpful (though we all know that it’s against Amazon’s TOS) but there is still no arguing tropes in romance sell. It is getting to the point though where I have seen so many qualifiers attached to a blurb, I wonder if it does anything at all: A steamy small-town second chance standalone happily ever after with no cliffhangers full-length novel. Are readers that picky or are we just so marketing-focused we’re compelled to spell out every dirty detail before a reader buys? I don’t have the answer to that, but it’s interesting to think about nonetheless.

I finished proofing the proof of Rescue Me, and it’s all ready to go in KDP. I’m still on the fence if I should use Booksprout to find reviews–if I am, I should publish the paperback now so I have a link and ISBN as they ask that information when you set up your book for reviews. (At least they used to. I’m not sure if they still do–the platform went through an overhaul over the spring and I’m not familiar with it anymore.) There is no free plan for that service like there used to be, and the kinds of reviews I was getting almost doesn’t make it worth paying the $9.00 fee. I feel as though most readers use it as a vehicle of accessing free books and if they do leave a review it’s a synopsis of the book (if they’ve read it) or a copy and paste of the blurb (if they haven’t). Still not unsure, but a standalone would be a good book to try it out with, at least, so I’m still considering it. Here’s a little thing I made on Canva. I think my copywriting skills are getting better.

I have the large print version stuck in my KDP dashboard, but after going around and around with the large print version of Captivated, I’m not going to bother to try. It can just be stuck in there. I never did get an answer from anyone who answers Jeff Bezos’ email, so I’ve given up offering large print. I asked in the 20booksto50K group if anyone had a workaround, and the only thing that made sense to me was when someone said KDP doesn’t want you to have two paperback books available and if I was stubborn and wanted to offer large print, I would have to create a hardcover edition. Printing is already expensive enough as it is–a large print paperback costing about 16.99 to earn any royalties, and adding a hardcover on top of that isn’t worth it. I don’t give up on many things, but fighting with Amazon is one of them.


A tweet caught my eye this morning. Well, not this tweet as I answered her a couple of days ago when I saw it first, but I think the response I saw this morning was interesting.

I’m not 100% sure what he means–I asked for clarification but haven’t received a response as of writing this blog. To me, it can be taken two ways. 1) indies don’t know how to reach readers, which would be the natural assumption considering the original tweet, or 2) readers don’t like reading indie. When I first read the tweet, I thought that’s what he meant–that readers avoid indie for whatever reason. But then I read the tweet again after a couple cups of coffee, and he probably does mean indies don’t know how to reach readers. It’s interesting to me that he recognized it and lumped us all together and admitted it. I don’t know, I’m probably reading too much into it, it was just strange to see it in black and white. It’s also interesting to me because there is so much more to marketing your book and yourself as an author than just tweeting all the time. I’ve learned this creating my pen name and getting that going. Marketing begins with the products you want to sell so what is your product and what does it consist of?

*Genre/tropes
*Voice/writing style
*Cover
*Title
*Blurb
*How often you publish/how many books you have out and how many you plan to publish in the next year
*If you stick with one genre or if you genre-hop and/or sub-genre hop
*Metadata for your book such as categories and keywords

These are pretty important when you’re trying to market, and most authors don’t think about any of that until the book is published and they can’t find anyone interested in reading what they’ve written. If you don’t consider any of that, what you do after will be hit or miss. And what comes after that? Building a newsletter (though everyone says you should before you publish, and that’s a feat in and of itself) running ads, buying promotions in newsletters like Fussy Librarian and Ereader News Today. And after that, once you start to find some readers, you better be writing the next book or have one almost ready to go. That’s why indies don’t understand marketing. Marketing isn’t the same as advertising. https://www.outbrain.com/blog/marketing-vs-advertising-7-key-differences-you-need-to-know/

As far as the idea that readers don’t want to read indie–that’s a valid reason why there are some authors with no sales. They look indie. Their covers are only so-so and their books need editing. They only have one book out and it makes them look like a newbie (I am fully aware what my Amazon Author page looked like when I only had Captivated out and that’s why I’m going to publish my trilogy with little time between books). I don’t mean to insult indies. I am one, so why would I do that? But the less indie you look and your book sounds, the better your sales will be.

He answered me (real-time blogging is cool!) and I was actually kind of right on both counts:

I’m not going to argue with someone’s beliefs. I think in some way, shape, or form we all have to do a little marketing/advertising of our books. Tweeting isn’t going to get you very far.

Anyway, so that’s kind of what I’ve been thinking about today. I started my pen thinking years into the future. What my sub-genre would be, my voice/style of my books, the age of my characters and what that means for the ages of my readers. I research covers before I create mine, I try better to think of more relevant titles for my books–something I’m terrible at–but I know a title can make or break a book. Of course, I had to publish for five years before I figured out any of that, and I’ll have to publish for at least year before I know if that kind of preparation will pan out.

If you want to fall down the rabbit hole, I linked the picture of the original tweet to Twitter. I’m always interested to hear what others are saying about marketing and publishing.

September will be full of editing and playing with covers. I won’t start a new project until my trilogy is ready to go, but I do have loose plans what I want to write next. After tackling a trilogy, a standalone will be welcome. I had the idea when I was still writing in third person, but I think I can make it work in first just as well. There’s nothing stopping me from writing it in third and publishing it under my name and not my initials, but I rather like first person present and I might as well keep going with my pen name. We’ll see.


Oh, I forgot what I’m liking right now. Haha. Can’t be that great. Just kidding. When I have a bit of time, I’m going to listen to the roundtable talk moderated by Jane Friedman about the DOJ vs. PRH trial and what it means for authors and the book business. I didn’t follow the trial as it was happening, and if you didn’t either, but you’re curious, give it a listen.

Have a good week, everyone!

Until next time!

Monday Madness and Author Update

Happy Monday! I haven’t started a blog post like that in a while, but I have been making the most of my summer, sleeping in whenever I can and writing whenever I have free time to do so. My daughter starts school (11th grade!) on the 29th, so we don’t have much summer left, especially since some of my free time now will be taken up getting her ready for school and bringing her to picture day and orientation, but after everyone gets settled with the new routine, things should calm down again.

I applied for a second job, as well, substitute teaching in the schools this year. I’m hoping to pick up a couple days a week, but I’m going to try to keep my momentum going with my books. I don’t like the idea of working 54 hour weeks, but you do what you gotta do. I need to crawl out of debt and maybe once I do that, my (financial) future won’t seem so bleak. It sucks being worried about money and if my books aren’t selling, the money has to come from somewhere. (And it’s what I get for trusting the wrong person, but that water is long under the bridge and there’s no point in crying about it now.)

I’ve been working my day job typing for the deaf and hard of hearing for Minnesota Relay for twenty years now, and I hadn’t needed to update my resume in some time. I did about seven years ago when I graduated with my HR degree (I can’t believe it’s been that long) but I never did get an HR job, choosing to start writing books instead (smart move? maybe not). I had to search for my resume in the black hole of my laptop and it was pretty thin, so I included all the books I’ve written and published, added that I did my own covers in Canva and that I’ve written a successful (to me it is) blog for the past six years. At first I wasn’t sure if I should include my books, but if I hadn’t it would have looked like I haven’t done anything professional for myself since I graduated with my HR degree, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all know how difficult it is to write a book, edit it, format it, create a cover, and publish it. After I submitted my resume and my application, it occurred to me that it was smart I included my books, not only because it shows I haven’t been standing still, but also because it gave them a chance to decide if writing smut is something they would have a problem with. Apparently, they didn’t, as I had orientation last week, but looking back, I”m glad I added my books, and if you’re looking to bulk up your resume, you should add yours, too.


I’m 52k into the last book in my trilogy, so finishing it up won’t take long. I’ve read books one and two twice, and I’ve been editing book three as I write it but there will still be some additional editing needed. I wanted to make Roman, my MMC in book three, a nervous, trying-to-quit smoker, but he hasn’t turned out that way, so either I edit that in or I find a new guy for the book cover. I like the idea of him getting over, or trying to get over, a smoking habit, because that fits his personality and some of the shit he’s going through in the book. I’m not a natural smoker, though, and I haven’t written a character who is before, so it was difficult to remember to include it. In my mind, he’s trying to stop so it shouldn’t be too much work to write in the cravings and the fidgeting. In the end it depends on how much editing I want to do, and usually that answer is none.


I had an interesting back and forth with an author who was disappointed in sales for his debut. While that’s not unusual as we’re all fighting for space these days, his debut was also a first in a series. When I reached out and told him that more than likely he wasn’t going to sell anything until he had a few more books out in that series, he replied that he would be releasing books a year apart. While that might be the norm for trad authors, a book a year is mighty slow for indies. Readers won’t hang around for a year between books, but I recognize not everyone has the time to write more than that, especially if your series is a fantasy and your books can creep over 150k for words.

I stared to explore what authors can do to keep readers interested between books, and here’s what me, S J Cairns and Dareth Pray came up with:

Newsletter/Blog
There was a toss up between what’s better. There doesn’t seem to be much difference–they both require you create content to keep readers informed–but between the two I would choose building a newsletter. A newsletter you might send once or twice a month, but if you only blog once a month, your blog won’t grow. A lot of my traffic for this blog comes from internet searches, but in order to do that you have to create relevant content regularly, staying within a range of topics that you will eventually be “known” for. Building search engine optimization is a long road and you still have to put the word out somewhere that your blog is available (mostly I just tweet the link). Getting newsletter signups is hard in its own way, but giving out a reader magnet can help. Put the signup links in the back of your books for organic interest, and use the time to keep writing the next book. Another reason I choose to build a newsletter is those subscribers are yours. Your blog followers come and go, and true, newsletter subscribers can unsubscribe, but they chose to sign up so if you give them content they like they’ll hopefully stay on your list. It’s up to you what you offer, but no matter what you choose consistency and offering your readers what they want will keep them interested between books.

Social Media
This can mean anything from tweets to updating your Facebook author page. Reach is hard when you depend on free social media. On Twitter, you might be part of the writing community, and while we like to think so, tweeting to the #writingcommunity isn’t the same as reaching readers. Instagram is about the same. I see so many tweets that say, “Follow me on Instagram!” but I don’t know what good that does. On Instagram, you can try to find readers using hashtags, but trying to climb out of the writing community pit is difficult once you’ve falling into it. I think it’s like quicksand. You just won’t find enough readers there to move the needle. We’re all too busy writing the next Great American Novel to read. (You may argue with me, and that’s cool. It all depends on what success means to you. I’ve been on Twitter for a long time and tweeting about my books hasn’t done much for me at all, but if it has for you and you’re happy with it, I’m glad for you!)

Encourage readers to follow you on Amazon, Bookbub, Goodreads, etc.
When you have a new release, they will email your readers, so if they somehow missed your updates, they will still hear about your next book. I have my newsletter sign up link in my Amazon bio and I changed my Twitter bio, and put my newsletter signup link there, too. I also added it to my Goodreads Author profile. Add your links wherever you can, such as your email address signature. Every little bit helps.

If you don’t have much time to write, creating content to tell readers that you’re still writing seems counterproductive, but if you ARE writing, sharing snippets and inspiration won’t take long. You have to find one way that you enjoy and stick with it. Consistency is key, no matter where you focus your energy. Keep your expectations in check and realize that if your series needs 6 books for it to be done, you are asking your readers to wait for 6 years before you conclude that story. That’s a big ask, and as far as marketing goes, you will have an easier time keeping readers the more books you have. Keep writing, and good luck!

Resources:

Author update and depending on luck

There’s no doubt about that luck can play a crucial part of success, but it never makes up 100% of someone’s achievement of their goals. I see it a lot, especially among the unsuccessful: “They were just lucky.” “They knew someone.” “They wrote the right thing at the right time.” It’s hard not to be resentful of someone else’s success, especially if it appears they didn’t work all that hard for it.

There are people like that–their charisma is off the charts and it seems they get handed things without them even having to ask. There is privilege out there too–I’m not discounting that at all–but accusing someone for being successful simply because they were lucky insults the hard work people put into their dreams and gives the person saying it an excuse not to work as hard as required to get the results they want (even if they won’t admit it).

We have this conversation a lot about EL James and the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. She was an “overnight success” or she was just riding on Twilight’s coattails because Fifty Shades was originally fan fiction. But was she all that lucky? She posted her books on a fan fiction site, they were picked up because people were responding positively to what she’d written. Maybe it was just luck she wrote fan fiction to begin with, but she read Twilight, she wrote the books. Maybe it was luck that what she wrote hit at that particular time, or the publishers who approached her knew it was the right time, but with ways to monitor trends and study what’s selling, it’s not so hard to find a genre that already has hundreds of thousands of readers. If you’re interested in genre research, look up Alex Newton of K-Lytics.

What are some scenarios where it looks like luck could have played a bigger part than it really did?

She knew the right person.
It’s always easier to have an in–that’s with any aspect of life, not just publishing. But you have to network to make those connections, form relationships with people without the idea that sometime down the road those friendships will be beneficial to you. Going to conferences helps form relationships, joining author groups and participating in discussions, whatever you have time for, will help you be part of the community. What’s the theory, you’re only six people away from someone else? If one of those six people have something nice to say about you, that could be your “lucky” break.

He never gave up and wrote the right thing at the right time.
This does sound lucky, no two ways about about, but you have to keep writing, keep plugging away at your craft. A writer who thinks they don’t have anything to learn is in a dangerous situation. No one will truly max out on their creative potential. Keep writing, keep learning, and maybe you’ll be like Hugh Howey who wrote for several years before he struck it “lucky” with Wool.

She recognized what wasn’t working and changed.
This is probably the hardest part of being in charge of your own career. You do what you want to do for as long as you want to do it, but if what you’re doing isn’t giving you the success you want, then you need to change. It’s that simple. You DON’T need to change if you’re satisfied with what you’re doing and what you’re getting out of it. I’ll say that again. You don’t need to change if you’re happy with the success your actions are bringing you. It’s only when you don’t find the success you want that maybe you should look into something else. How do I know when authors are unhappy? When they complain about sales. When they blame their lack of success on outside factors like it being summer (what?) or general sales slumps. It’s easy to be bitter when you can look at someone’s career and say, “Well, she’s lucky. She stopped writing cozies and started writing reverse harem.” You don’t know all of what an author goes through to make a choice like that. Maybe she really loves cozies but what she writing wasn’t hitting right. Maybe she did a ton of market research and read a lot of books before she tried her hand at RH. Maybe she networked a lot and was able to ask for a few favors and fellow authors added her book to their newsletters. Pivoting and knowing when to do so is a personal choice, and not “lucky” by any means. And even then, changing direction doesn’t mean you’ll find success, but you’re more apt to find it if you’re flexible. This goes for covers, blurbs, and yes, genres. When do you pivot? That’s a choice you have to make and only you will know when you’re unsatisfied enough to try something new.

Anyway, that’s just my thoughts on luck. Rarely do we know the whole story behind someone else’s success. Saying they have time, money, skill, acquaintances, what have you might make you feel better, but it won’t help you get to where you want to be.


In other news, I’ve started my last book in my trilogy. I’m trying to baby my hands a bit, as writing 77k words in 27 days didn’t do me any favors. I’m not sure why I write so fast, why I’m compelled to do so. I’m not on a timeline, I don’t have any deadlines looming over me. I just like to write, get that story out of my head and onto the screen as quickly as possible. I need to take a break or if I hurt myself irreparably, I’ll never write again, so I gave myself two months to get this done. This book is a wrap-up, and has a few more plot points than the other two. I think it will be a little longer than 77k (which is what the other two books are) but that’s fine. As long as my hands don’t fall off my body, I’m having fun.

Book Two in my duet releases today. I added some A+ content, emailed KDP and asked them to add a couple more categories to the ebook and book. I don’t know if I’ll run any promos until Rescue Me comes out in October. I want to wait for a long enough time period to go by so the handful of people who buy it full price aren’t mad when book one goes on sale. Marketing strategies are always confusing, and I’ve never had a big enough backlist to learn what to do and what works. I’m still fumbling in the dark, but when my trilogy is done and is released in January, I’ll have six books out and it will be interesting to play around.

I don’t have much else. I decided to not host giveaways on my blog anymore. I rarely get any takers, and if I’m going to spend money, I’ll offer giveaways to my newsletter subscribers. If you want to sign up for my newsletter you can do so here: www.vmrheault.com/subscribe. You’ll have access to my free novel through BookFunnel and you can enter the giveaways there. I have one coming up since both books in my duet are out and maybe I’ll put something together for Christmas. I don’t want to say my giveaways on here were a waste, because I don’t think they were, but interest has certainly waned, and there’s no point in offering if no one wants to enter.

I hope you’re having a great summer so far! Make the most of the last month!

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!

Short Author Update and June Recap

There isn’t a whole lot going on right now. Working a little extra because my money is flying away faster than a snowflake in a blizzard, but everyone is experiencing a little financial crunch, so that’s nothing new. I’ve turned off both ads on Facebook, one for Captivated that was eating up money with no sales, and the other for my newsletter signup/reader magnet. That was a tough one to turn off, mostly because it was working. I have a newsletter list of 220 people–25 having unsubscribed since I started running the ad. But it was working, maybe too well, and it was eating up money through lots of clicks. I’ll turn it back on again when my bills are caught up.

Now that July is upon us, in two weeks I can put my pre-order up for the second book in my duet. Book one isn’t doing so hot, but that’s okay. I’ll figure out a promo next month and see what happens.

I’m 13k into the second book of my trilogy. Yesterday’s words were hard won, and when that happens, I need to close my laptop and do more plotting. When I start a book I have most of the major plot points figured out, but I’m having trouble with this book filling in the muscle to my skeleton as I have often compared my plotting process. So I have to drill down and remember and refine my characters’ stakes, motivations, and consequences and figure out some scenes. The writing will come easier then.

I’m also, for some reason, more sensitive to word count with these books. Book one ended up at 77k, which is fine. I’m panicking for no reason, really, but when I have a tough time getting the words out, thinking of the total word count is always quick in my mind. I can skim through what needs to happen and in my brain and I count 5k or so, which is ridiculous. Everything takes more space when writing everything out than it does thinking about what needs to happen next.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who worries about word count. Audrey has word count anxiety (https://audreydriscoll.com/2019/12/01/word-count-anxiety/) and Karena has some great tips on meeting word count–the outlining tip is the one I rely on most (https://www.spalmorum.com/how-to-stop-worrying-about-word-count-but-here-are-5-ways-of-hitting-your-word-count-goals-every-time/). Terry has a process that sounds a lot like mine–(https://terryodell.com/dont-obsess-about-word-count/), and some people, given that if you indie-pub, just write until the story’s done. Sarra Cannon, creator of the HB90 planning system, also has thoughts on word count that you can read here (https://heartbreathings.com/long-self-published-book/). It’s nice to know I’m not the only neurotic writer out there.

After today, I’m going to start an editing series for indies, and the first guest editor is Kimberly Hunt. Due to poor time management skills (not really, when I start writing a new book, that’s all I care about) I don’t have anymore lined up (but I have reached out to potential editors who were interested in doing the interview) and that is something I’ll be working on after finishing up here. Despite dragging my feet, I am looking forward to the series and helping indies through their answers to my questions polish their novels for submissions and publication. I’ll still be posting updates, but that will take up the rest of the rest of the summer if I’m lucky.

So, I am off to do some more writerly things, some of which may or may not involve wine, since it is a holiday. I hope all enjoy the day, make it productive, and have some fun.

Until next time!