Results of my ad with Freebooksy

I figured with a few books out now, I should do a little marketing. I’ve been against it, claiming I needed a backlist before I started putting money into my career, but I thought since my trilogy was done, I could do a little promotion.

I’ve heard about various book marketing websites where you pay for exposure, and that’s what Freebooksy is. Essentially, you’re paying to advertise your book in their newsletter for one day. There are other promotions run by the people of Freebooksy if you don’t want to to go free with your book, but I did because 1) it didn’t bother me to give my book away and 2) I was hoping for a little read-through since the other two books were available.

My trilogy is enrolled in KDP Select, and I had never used any of my free days for any of my books before, so I went ahead and chose five days for my book to be free, then I went on Freebooksy and chose a day that I wanted my book in their newsletter. In the future, if I do this again, I’ll plan ahead to give myself time to promote the promotion.

A rep reached out to me, and she was very nice, but she wanted to put my book in the sweet category romance newsletter. I replied that it didn’t belong there as the book had four open door sex scenes. I’m not sure why she wanted to do that, unless she mistook my cover. Nikki and Dane do look cute together, but I didn’t choose to put a steamy couple on the cover because there is a fine line between contemporary romance with sex, and erotica. I didn’t want anyone mistaking my trilogy for erotica. I’ve written erotica, had my “taste” so to speak, and I’m more comfortable writing contemporary romance.

Anyway, this is what the ad looked like that went into their newsletter:


You’re the one who writes the blurb, and I was afraid I didn’t spend enough time on it. You only get so many characters, and it’s difficult to try to convey what the book is about and still make it interesting in that short space.

My book was free from February 6th to the 10th. I started getting downloads even before my book went out in the newsletter. In total, while my book was free, I gave away 4,458. Between February 6th and today, February 15th, I have sold fifteen of Book 2 and six of Book 3, so you can see there was a small amount of buy-through (not necessarily read-through), and I lowered the prices of those books to .99 to go with the free promotion. Also, my page reads for Kindle Unlimited for all my titles went up from 0 to this:

page reads for KU

It’s not the best, of course, since even all those lines only represent $25.00 in sales. If you do the math, that’s a horrible ROI, at least, on paper.

Return on investment comes in many different forms, monetary being only one of them. I’m hoping now that I’ve given away so many books, people will remember my name, I’ll begin to foster some lifelong readers for future books.

My sales ranking did go up for a little bit, and I can give you a snapshot of those, though I didn’t take a picture every time my book moved up in ranks. And as everyone congratulated me, going up in rank in *free* books looks nice, but it’s not the same as going up in the paid lists.

awesome stats!3

These are the best stats the book got. I don’t know if it did much more than earn me a few bragging rights, but there it is.

Amazon did a nice thing, too and put my books together in an ad on my Author page.

tower city box set

You can’t buy them that way–I haven’t created the box set yet, and that is on my to-do list after I figure out my stupid cover for book three. (Yeah, still wrestling with it to get it exactly how I want it in paperback.)

If you were to ask me the best part about this whole promotion thing, I would have to say that it’s that people are starting to read my work. We all want people to read our stuff, but when they actually do, it’s nerve-wracking. So far I’ve been getting decent reviews. They’ve been saying my editing is solid, and there hasn’t been a complaint about formatting, which is a relief since I do all my own formatting myself.


Overall, I would say the experience was a positive one.

If I were to give any advice to someone doing this I would say:

  1. Have more than one book out. I did prove that if you spend money advertising one book, you’re really advertising your whole backlist. Not many people bought books 2 and 3 who downloaded book 1, but it was enough I was happy they were available.
  2. Having a good cover is no joke. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when no one is looking at your books, but the minute you realize people are going to be choosing your book among a selection, suddenly you’re hoping it’s good enough. Be sure it is.
  3. Have a decent blurb. I shortened mine from what I wrote for Amazon, and I worried I didn’t spend enough time on it. Had I spent more time on it, maybe I could have gotten even more downloads.
  4. Have people willing to spread the word. I don’t know how many downloads came from my Twitter followers, or my followers willing to tweet about it. I don’t know how many downloads came from the people who liked my FB Author Page. I was also naughty and told everyone on my personal FB page that my book was free, and I know it’s against TOS to do that. I only did it once, on the day the newsletter went out. And I was lucky a few people shared that post.

I won’t be doing this again anytime soon, but it was fun to try something new and to get my feet wet. A little snowflake can cause an avalanche, and I’m hoping this is true in my case. But now that my trilogy is over and done, I need to relegate it to my backlist and move forward. I’m 31,000 words into a new WIP, and I can’t wait to share with you!

Happy writing Vania Margene

Indie-Publishing 411: Chat with Vania and KT–Beta Readers and Editing

Indie Publishing Chats

Thanks for joining us for our second chat of this series. KT and I chatted about beta readers and editing. Enjoy!

Vania Margene Rheault
You’ve written Down to Sleep, and it’s been slightly edited and with a couple betas. What has been your biggest surprise so far?

KT Daxon
My biggest surprise so far has to be that my Betas were able to finish it without wanting to throw it across the room. They enjoyed it, and to me that is HUGE. On the self-publishing side of things, I think I was a bit thrown off about how difficult doing everything yourself can be.

Vania Margene Rheault
Yeah, that is a rude awakening for sure! And as you can tell by some indie books out there, not everyone gets it right.
What made you decide to beta? I’m thinking back to where I was at your stage of the game. I had written On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton and someone offered to beta for me. The feedback was less than thrilling. Then I had Jewel edit it for me. Those two people were the only eyes I had on it before I published.

KT Daxon
That’s another story I need to read …*scratches a note on my notepad*. I decided to Beta because someone told me I should. I didn’t think anyone would be interested, so I took a chance. Melissa and Shannon were wonderful. Both had different styles and gave me TONS of amazing feedback. My editor will be happy as she won’t be getting pure crap. Ha!
What are your thoughts on Betas? Pros? Cons?

Vania Margene Rheault
I say don’t let them have too much weight. If I had listened to my beta, half of 1700 would be missing. Just because they don’t like it doesn’t mean you need to take to heart everything they say. Do stay true to your work and vision because at the end of the day, it’s your book and no one else’s.
What is the next step for you?

KT Daxon
That’s some good advice to carry with me as I move forward. I let what other people think dictate a lot of aspects of my life. But, this was my story in 2013, and it’s still my story today. As for what’s next, I’m currently editing the Beta suggestions. Picking and choosing what I think needs changed. I’m hoping to be done by the start of the 2nd week of January, and I’m trying to decide if I want to do another round of Betas or just shoot it to the editor…thoughts? How many rounds of Beta advice should one take?

Vania Margene Rheault
Probably that’s not best coming from me–Don’t Run Away, Chasing You and Running Scared won’t have any. So I would say do as many as you feel is necessary.
In the near future here, you have a lot you’re going to need to know. How are you preparing for that next step?

KT Daxon
A stiff drink? Haha. Kidding … though the thought does sound appealing. I’ve made myself a sponge. I accept advice when it’s given and I utilize the veteran’s in the writing community, such as yourself, for help. I’m dedicating the first weekend of the New Year to research on all aspects of self-publishing. Cover design, formatting (which scares me btw lol), ISBN’s, whatever I need to learn to publish this book, I’m soaking it up every way I can.
Any tips on what to tackle first?

Vania Margene Rheault
I read a lot of books when I first decided to self-publish. One of the two I read right off the bat was APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book.
This was one was instrumental in getting the lay of the land, so to speak, and the other one I told you about was A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers: How to Print-on-Demand with CreateSpace & Make eBooks for Kindle & Other eReaders.publishing with amazon

While there is some outdated info in each, they both still have really important information in their own right.
The first one was given to me by someone who was taking publishing classes at our university in Moorhead. It was a textbook in their class.

KT Daxon
I intend to get the second one once payday hits. It looks like it’s an easy read.

Vania Margene Rheault
I would caution you though, and make sure you double-check advice. What works for someone may not work for you. I read up on how to do it all myself, and while 1700 didn’t come out the best, at least I can say I learned what *not* to do. Fortunately, you know people have gone through it so you should have more help than I did.

KT Daxon
That’s true. It’s good for anyone to remember that advice isn’t someone holding a gun to your head telling you to change things or else, it’s just suggestions … helpful suggestions.

Vania Margene Rheault
Right. And everyone has a suggestion. LOL Okay, we’ll wrap up this chat for tonight! Thanks for hanging out with me!

Thanks for hanging out with us! Here are a few other articles on beta readers:
Ultimate Guide: How To Work With Beta Readers

How many Beta Readers do you need?


beta readers
Just for fun, since I’m not doing chat anymore, I’m going to give away Better Critiquing for Better Writing: Use Writing Feedback to Craft Your Story, Refine Your Message and Become a Better Writer by Kelly Hart. Enter HERE.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time when KT and I discuss ISBN numbers.

Vania Blog Signature

Aila Stephens’ Interview and Giveaway (Updated post. The giveaway is closed.)

Aila StephensI got to know Aila wasting time networking on Twitter, and I read her first book, Sex, Love, and Technicalities, when it came out last year.

In celebration of her sequel’s release, Sex, Love, and Formalities, I’ve interviewed Aila, and I am also hosting a giveaway! (More on that later.) Settle down with a cup of coffee, and listen in to my interview with her! Enjoy!

You chose IngramSpark over CreateSpace. Can you explain why?
I was drawn to IngramSpark because of the reported quality of their paperbacks. I don’t know how many YouTube videos I watched where people had ordered copies from both Ingram and Createspace, and most authors liked the paper quality of Ingram better. I also liked the fact that my books would potentially be more attractive to brick and mortar stores—because you know, we Indie authors become household names so quickly. 😉
To be honest, I’m now convinced that using a combination of IngramSpark and Createspace is the way to go.

You published your first book in July of 2016, and now you are releasing the sequel in November of 2017. Can you give our readers some pros and cons of waiting over a year between books?
After SLT came out, life slapped me in the face. It wasn’t just one or two little things, it was more akin to a typhoon of problems pounding at my shore. I tried to keep writing during this rough period, but it was easy to see my creativity suffered and I knew I needed to step away if I wanted to even remotely be proud of my work. It stung…but in the long run, I think Sex, Love, and Formalities is better since I waited. The first storyline was weak—so I suppose that’s the pro. During the absence, I wasn’t writing, but I was thinking.
The cons are numerous. People forgot me. I wasn’t selling copies of SLT, therefore it’s hard to build hype around SLF. I will always worry I lost some of Briella’s voice.
All in all, I don’t recommend waiting over a year between books if it can be helped.

Sex, Love and Technicalities

The gorgeous cover for Sex, Love, and Technicalities. Love!

Now that you’ve released two books, can you tell us some of the things that surprised you about the self-publishing industry, or maybe the publishing industry in general?
It surprised me how much I enjoy the process. I love the fact that with self-publishing everything is up to me…which is also terrifying. There are a lot of rules. Marketing is the bane of my existence. That was one thing I hadn’t expected: How much I dislike marketing. I like creating marketing materials…it’s what to do after that baffles me.
I am glad I self-published these first two books. I think it was a great learning process, and I’m sure I will self-publish again. But the two books I am writing next, I plan to pitch. I’m still uncertain about how long I will pitch them before I decide to self-publish them, but I am excited to learn another side of the publishing industry.

Having gone through the publishing process twice now, can you tell us what you would have done differently the first time around with the knowledge you have now?
With the first book, I would have done more editing. I would NOT use IngramSpark for eBook publication. I also would have formatted the eBook myself from the beginning. I would force myself to market more.
With the second book, I wouldn’t have put my passion on hold for so long. I’d force my unsociable self to be more sociable.

In your opinion, what is the best part of the self-publishing process?
It may sound odd…but making my own book covers. I absolutely love making them. I hope people like them half as much as I loved making them.

sex love and formalities

The dazzling new cover! Her cover design skill is proven here. Great job!

Will you ever query and try for a traditionally published deal?
Yes. That’s the plan with the next two books. Alabama Rain is a book I’ve been working on intermittently for the last year and a half, which will now get my full attention. Then I have a project I’m currently outlining and preparing for which has a placeholder title of Underthings.

Thanks for having me, Vania! I am sure I speak for all your readers when I say thanks for all you do for the Indie writing community. You’re an inspiration!

Thank you, Aila, for taking the time to answer my questions. If anyone has other self-publishing questions, ask in the comment sections or tweet us. 🙂 We’ll be more than happy to help!

Please follow Aila on Facebook Twitter (mandatory to enter the giveaway) Goodreads and of course, follow her on Amazon! Keep up to date on her blog posts, and please take a moment to check out her website.

The giveaway for Aila’s release includes:
An assortment of coffee and tea
A coffee mug
Signed paperback copies of Sex, Love, and Technicalities
and Sex, Love, and Formalities
A $25.00 gift card to Amazon sent to the winner’s email address

The giveaway is open internationally, so don’t be afraid to enter!

Click here to enter!!!


Updated to congradulate Rebecca Yelland on winning the giveaway! I hope you all enjoyed Aila’s launch–she had a blast! Thank you all for helping make her day a huge success!


Why I Canceled my Twitter Chat

Last night I canceled my chat.


I think there was some surprise, and there was a little disappointment.  But I’ve been running it since April, and while it has been fun and I’ve made a lot of friends, I think I managed to get all that I could out of it.

Let me explain.

There are a lot of chats out there.

There are a gazillion chats on Twitter. You can find a chat on any day of the week, sometimes more than one, sometimes even more than two or three or four.  There are only so many hours in the day, and writers are busy. When they decide to give up some writing time to participate in your chat, they are giving you a gift. But since there are so many chats on Twitter right now, I was finding it hard to compete.  And because there are so many chats on Twitter, it was hard to stay original. Finding topics and themes that weren’t being used by other Twitter chat hosts was impossible. (If you want a complete list of chats and Twitter writing games, look here. Mica does a wonderful job of keeping everything in order.)

I chose the wrong hashtag.

My chat never achieved the elevation of other chats. This isn’t me being whiny, I’m just stating a fact. I had my regulars, my friends who wanted to support me (thank you!), but in all the months I hosted, it never blew up to the epic proportions I wanted. I think this had a large part to do with my hashtag. #SmutChat was a chat for everyone, and I tried to make that clear. But I think lots of people avoided it because they thought we were going to talk about romance or sex, or only the Romance genre, or Erotica. Had I chosen a more generic hashtag, I may have seen more movement. Perhaps if I had chosen to go full-blown smut and only focused chats around that topic, I could have drawn in the romance and erotica writers. I tried to go down the middle of the road, and it didn’t work. That was my mistake.

I was going broke.

At the end of #SmutChat, I gave away a writing resource that tied in with the topic. To me, this was genius; to everyone else . . . no one seemed to care all that much. In actuality, I had to plead with people to enter the giveaways, and there were never more than 6 or 7 people entering the giveaway at the end of every chat. There is so much free stuff on Twitter right now, the giveaway did nothing. I even had one person who won tell me they would get a hold of me when they found an address they were comfortable giving me. I offered the e-book version instead, but they said no. I can only take this to mean the person who won didn’t really want it to begin with, and that book is still sitting on my bookshelf. I didn’t mind spending money on the books and the shipping, but I was beginning to feel underappreciated. That’s no one’s fault but my own, being it was my idea to do the giveaways. I was hoping to set my chat apart from other peoples’ chats, but it didn’t work so well.

I have a publishing schedule I want to keep.

I have three books coming out in the next three months, and I have another book rumbling around in my head that I will write after my trilogy is released. Until they host one, no one can understand how time-consuming a chat is. They are a lot of work. Thinking up the topic, doing the graphics, tweeting about it. And that’s only the prep work. You have actually sit down and do the chat, and sometimes people will answer late, or the next day. As a courteous host, you want to try to touch base with everyone so I would be on the computer one or two hours after chat, and I would also answer tweets the day after. I know this is a counter-argument to the one where I wanted chat to grow even bigger because I would have spent even more time on it. Maybe I would have felt all the time spent on chat would have been worth it then. I’m not belittling the people who did take the time to participate, but sometimes you have to decide if you want to go big or go home. I decided to go home.

Think about what you want to get out of your chat.

What do you want to achieve with a chat? I had chat twice a month, and I would say I spent about 12 hours a month on prepping and the hostessing. What do you want to gain out of giving up that time? Twitter followers? What will you do with your followers once you earn them? Twitter doesn’t sell books, so those followers you gain will do nothing but plump up your numbers. Are you holding a chat to add it to your platform? That was my initial reason. I was doing something tangible that would add to my social media platform. But there again, you’re building your platform to sell books, connect with readers. Putting on a chat doesn’t do that. If you want to just make friends and connect with your followers, then hosting a chat is for you. If you want anything else out of it, think about what else you could do instead. Blog more, put that time into building your website. Write. Having a platform doesn’t do you much good if you’re not writing and/or publishing. Can you get what you want out of a chat by participating in others’ chats? I think with the little bit of free time I’ve recouped from canceling mine, I will participate in a bigger chat where I can still make friends, talk about a topic I love.

In parting, you may think this was just a big whiny blog post about how my Twitter chat didn’t go well for me, and now I’m crying about it. I’m actually blogging about it so anyone who is thinking about starting a chat knows the pitfalls of hostessing/hosting a chat, and what it entails. I appreciate every. single. participant. of my chat, and I have made some wonderful friends during the months I hostessed.  I started chat in April of 2017, and I ended it right before NaNo and the holidays could take people away. I feel I ended it on a positive note, and I’ll still be doing chat, in my own way. I’ll be blogging about the topics I want to talk about, rather than holding a chat. I’m hoping this will drive some traffic to my website, and I’ll encourage comments at the end of my posts. Maybe this won’t work either, but like anything in life, if you don’t take risks, you won’t get anywhere. I took a chance with chat, and I enjoyed it. But you have to know when to cut your losses if something isn’t working. Good luck to those of you who want to start a chat. And I’m not disappearing–I’ll still be on Twitter a lot. I’ll participate in other chats and enjoy the hard work I know goes into one. I’ll let the hostess handle the rest.

Tell me what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

#Smutchat Giveaway–NaNoWriMo

Thank you for participating in #smutchat tonight! I hope you had a great time talking about NaNoWriMo!

Tonight’s giveaways are Monsters by Gareth. S. Young and Book in a Month, the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. The other giveaway (yes! there are two winners tonight!) is The Wolves of Dynamo also by Gareth S. Young, and Write Your Novel in a Month, how to complete a first draft in 30 days and what to do next by Jeff Gerke.


A special thank you to Gareth S. Young for his donation of his books! Please follow him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and find him and his books on Amazon!

Thanks for playing, and have a wonderful weekend!

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#SmutChat Self-publishing Topic Recap!

I run a Twitter chat called #smutchat. It’s geared toward more than just smut, (though I am a romance author and I like to chat about that too, from time to time) and last night we talked about self-publishing.

I said I would recap the chat for a few people who couldn’t make it, so here you go. 🙂


#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (2)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing

Question one, when I was making it up, was intended to be a question about the process of self-publishing. Was it formatting your paperback book? Dealing with uploading to KDP? Maybe figuring out your book cover? Some hit the nail on the head; others went far beyond.

smutchat recapsmutchat recap 4smutchat recap 2smutchat recap 1smut chat recap 3

smutchat recap 5


#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (3)

To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to get out of this one, and the answers were all over the place.

smutchat recap 7smutchat recap 8smutchat recap 9smutchat recap 6

#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (4)

This question brought about the answers you would expect. It’s expensive to publish a book if you hire out, and no we can’t afford it, and no again, we probably won’t see a return on that investment any time soon. Yet the people who don’t know what they’re doing and publish bad-looking books muddy the pool for the rest of us who do it right.

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smutchat recap 15

nadia covers

gareth editing


#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (5)

ISBNs are expensive–at least, they are in the US. CreateSpace gives you one for free and if you use theirs, they are listed as your book’s publisher, not you. Kindle Direct Publishing will give you an ASIN number, but I read somewhere that selling an ebook isn’t considered publishing per se, it’s just selling a file. I use my own ISBN numbers for both my Kindle file and my paperback for CS. Here’s what others said:

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emae isbn numbers

#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (6)

This is tough because if you don’t know you don’t know it, how will you figure it out? I researched the hell out of self-publishing, CreateSpace, and Kindle before I published On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton and I still got a lot of things wrong. When you self-publish on your own without help from someone who has done it before, you’re bound to make mistakes. I still make mistakes. I had to resubmit my cover for Don’t Run Away. CS said they “fixed” my cover, but I wanted to fix it myself. The more I know, the better off I’ll be. Here’s what other people thought:

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That wrapped up the chat about self-publishing. Though I didn’t showcase them here, there were several tweets about book marketing. I haven’t delved into marketing yet, so I don’t have anything to offer in the way of that or what works. I do know that I have been reading up on Amazon Ads, and a good book by Brian D. Meeks seems to make a lot of sense. Whether it will work for you (or me) remains to be seen, but you can find it here. I have also been reading about Facebook Ads and this is the book I’m reading.

Rachel Thompson @BadRedheadMedia  runs a book marketing chat. You should check out her chat and maybe get some tips and ideas on how to market your own book. She has also written a book about it, and you can find it here.

In some sub-tweets, I told someone to look at Author Marketing Club, run by Jim Kukral. He’s co-host of the Sell More Books Show podcast I listen to every week. He also runs Happy Book Reviews if you’re interested in finding more book reviews. I haven’t used his services so do so at your own risk. Like everything online, be careful where you throw your money. I do listen to his podcast though, and he seems to be on the up and up or I wouldn’t point them out to you.

I also tweeted some interesting facts about self-publishing:

#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (14)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (13)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (12)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (11)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (10)

Anyway, thanks for reading over the recap. I apologize if I didn’t feature one of your tweets to a question. It was difficult wading through the answers, though I do appreciate everyone who participated last night! If you’re interested in all of the answers, or you want to look at the sub-tweets, please take a look at the hashtag! It was a great chat!

Vania Blog Signature

#Smutchat Self-publishing giveaway!

Thanks for participating in #smutchat tonight! I hope you had fun learning about the self-publishing industry!

The giveaway tonight is How to Self-Publish for Under $100 by Cinquanta Cox-Smith.

publish under 100 dollars

Self-publishing can be expensive–pick and choose wisely!

Thanks for playing! Have a lovely evening!

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