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

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

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

What do I mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

Author Update: Emailing Jeff Bezos and what I’m working on now.

I’m writing a quick Thursday author update because on Monday I’m posting updated instructions on how to do a full wrap for a paperback in Canva. Both Canva and KDP made changes that have made my post from last year basically obsolete, and anyone who reads it now will be like, what? because the site where you can download your cover template has changed. So, you gotta stay with the times. (But no video as of yet. I know I promised, but making a video is nerve-wracking and I’m not excited to jump into it.)


I emailed Jeff Bezos’s email address this morning about my large print book. I submitted Captivated by Her in a large print edition, but KDP blocked it as duplicate content. I was a little pissy since I was able to publish two other large print books without an issue. So I wrote to his email address asking if large print was going to be blocked as duplicate content (which doesn’t make any sense to me anyway because it is) then why give us the option? There’s even a little box when you’re publishing asking if it’s large print. You can check it, and I assumed that publishing a regular print book along with a large print was a no-brainer. I guess not. In the email, I didn’t even ask them to unblock my book. I don’t care about that so much because I can publish them through IngramSpark (which is a hassle, but you do what you gotta do). I know on Amazon that can be hit and miss with availability, but it’s better than not publishing at all. I just wanted an explanation, and if they really don’t want us to publish large print, take the option away and force us to use IngramSpark. I hate seeing my blocked book on my dashboard, and I don’t want to do anything that will cause KDP to close my publishing account. I’ve always been on the up and up with them, and treat my books as a business. I just get mad when things don’t go how they should go. Anyway, I don’t expect a response. I’m sure Large Print books are not on their list of priorities, but at least i can say I tried.


I’m 30k into a new first book in a trilogy. I’ve got loose plots for all three books, and I’m having fun writing it. I was going to write the remaining four books in a different series I started last year, but the characters in this book wouldn’t leave me alone, so they’ll get slotted into my publishing schedule in 2024, and then I’ll have the other series to release in 2025. It’s a bit crazy that I’m that far ahead, but I don’t have to be.

The books I’ll publish between now (Captivated came out June 1st) and the beginning of 2024. I’ll release them 2 months apart.

I could release as quickly as I want, but there’s no point in turning on the faucet in a gush if there’s no one around to appreciate the water. I’ll slowly release while I gather email subscribers and hopefully readers. My launch (though I haven’t reached the 30 day cliff on Amazon yet) hasn’t done anything but with one book and it being half of a duet, I kept my expectations low. My plea to my newsletter subscribers who downloaded it as an ARC for a review went unanswered, and it doesn’t even have one to make the product page look nice. Maybe I should have gone with Booksprout after all. Oh well. We’ll see where I am next year at this time, though I don’t know if I’ll be doing much better. It takes so long now to build a readership, I may not be looking at any kind of momentum until 2024. But that’s par for the course in these times. I just have to work harder on building my list and learning how to take advantage of promos on Bookfunnel. Earning a reader’s trust takes time and lots of consistency. I’ll get there, I just hope I don’t burn out before I do.

My Facebook ad for my newsletter sign up is going well, and I have 218 subscribers. I’ll need to shut my ad off in a couple of days though since I’ll have reached a 100 dollar ad spend, and I don’t want to spend any more than that. I’m already paying for Bookfunnel, so I should explore that more. And I think I’ll turn off my FB ad for Captivated as well. I’m getting a few clicks but they are really expensive (26 cent a click), and my sales dashboard is a big goose egg for that book. I knew this was going to be an uphill battle, but I want to save a little money to push the book when the second comes out. Pacing in a book is important, but it’s also important when you’re blowing your budget. My Amazon ads are also dead in the water, probably because I’m not bidding high enough for them to be shown to anyone. For right now, I’m using Bryan Cohen’s method of a thirty cent click bid, and that is not enough for a romance genre, especially one as popular as billionaire. After I shut my Facebook ads off I can create a few more on Amazon with a higher bid and see if that helps. In the words of almost every professional marketer out there: Test, test, test!

That’s about all I have for today. I’m happy to be writing again, and I’ll be busy with this trilogy until the end of the year.

I hope you’re having a great month so far!

Monday Musings and Author Update

Hi! It is so good to be back. It feels like forever since I’ve blogged, andI I thank my guest bloggers and my author interviewee for the the time they took out of their busy schedules to help me out while I recuperated from surgery. Four weeks post-op, I’m feeling better. I’m surprised, really, at how it knocked me off my feet and I was wondering if the surgery did what I wanted it to do. But four weeks isn’t that long, and I feel like over the weekend I turned a corner of sorts. Right now I’m just trying to take it easy and work as my body allows.

What am I working on now?

Despite being laid up, I finished listening to my 6 book series, again. Rewriting to “take” out the takes and makes, come and gives (two other words I found I like to use a lot) was worth it though it did set me back a few weeks. I did the same thing with my reader magnet and duet, and I just finished that up a few days ago. It seems I can’t merge my business brain with my creative brain, (which may spell trouble for me later on down the road) and I wasn’t able to set up my newsletter and get that going until I was done editing. But I do have my reader magnet set up in Bookfunnel, and I figured out how to integrate my Bookfunnel account with my Mailerlite account. When someone opts in to my newsletter after they download my book, they’ll receive a welcome and thank you email that I created as an autoresponder. It took a lot of figuring things out, but I was able to add two and two and actually get four (though I think it took me about four hours). A friend tested it for me as by then I had run out of email addresses to try, and it worked for her. But I’m going to ask a couple more people if they’ll test it for me before I start promoting it. All I have to say is, thank goodness for YouTube!

Now that that’s out of the way, I can start formatting my duet. I’ve been getting a little feedback from a couple people in an FB group about the blurbs, and Sami Jo (I did her author interview last week) and I have been trading back and forth. She gave me a couple suggestions, so at least the hard part of that is done. It’s looking like if I continue to feel better and nothing else comes up, I can put the first one on preorder sometime in June. I still need a couple of weeks to proof the paperback proofs, so I don’t want to rush. I need to put my first book on preorder for a week or so so I have time to claim my Amazon author page, my Goodreads author page, my Bookbub author page and start running some low cost Amazon ads. I don’t want to put the preorder up for longer than a week though, because preorders that don’t do anything can hurt you, and as a “new” author without one person waiting for my book, no one is going to preorder it. Dave Chesson has a great YouTube video explaining this, and you can watch it here:

Once I get all that done, it’s time for a break! Just kidding. I need to re-edit the fake fiancé standalone I’m going to release sometime in September or October, and once that’s done and the cover finalized (I think I’m going to swap it out though that will cause some extra work for me) I want to write a Christmas novel to release in November. I have some kind of an idea, a second chance trope, I think, but only a glimmer of a plot. So we’ll see what happens. That means four books this year squished together, but I’ll be releasing 6 in 2023 because I’m tired of looking at that series and just want it done. During that time I need to finish a series I started last year (2/6 done) and after THAT I think I can slow down and fall into a three books a year schedule since I can promote my backlist by then.

Craft Tip:

While I’ve been trying to recuperate I started watching the Marvel movies again. My sister and I watched them during lockdown when our movie theaters closed since I hadn’t seen them before and it gave us something to do. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with piecing together each movie into the whole. There is so much going on within each movie and the over-reaching arc of the entire plot. I have watched all the movies once, and my favorites ended up being the last two since I have a thing for post apoc, and l love when Scott pops out of the quantum realm not knowing what Thanos did. So the other night I watched Captain America and it struck me as Steve and Peggy were talking about finding the right dance partner, that the end scene of Endgame where Steve and Peggy are dancing circled back to that first movie and their conversation. I think that is a brilliant example of tying the beginning of a story to the end and wrapping things up. Much like my speech teacher told us to tie in the end of our speech to the thesis statement at the beginning, there’s a sense of closure when you reference the beginning in the end. I don’t know if I always do this, as I write romance and the ending is already laid out, but I’m going to keep this in mind going forward. If you haven’t watched the Marvel movies, I would give them a try if only to pick them apart story-wise. They drive me crazy, but in a good way.

What I’m loving right now:

I can’t say I’m really loving this, but the Six Figure Author podcast ended last week. I will miss them, but I’ve come to realize that you can listen to all the marketing advice out there but if you’re writing in a small niche or something “out of the box” you’ve already chosen a rough path for yourself. The book content needs to come first and then the marketing advice, and I’ve been working on the subgenre/story/tropes and studying the covers of the newest releases, so the technical part of marketing has kind of fallen to the wayside and when it comes to listening, I’m behind. Toward the end of the last podcast, each host gave their own advice and it was heartening to hear that they all thought that a new author could still make it in this business, though it may take longer than it would have ten years ago or even five years ago. Indies are getting savvy with content, covers, and blurbs and slapping something together isn’t going to work anymore, not if you want to compete. Quality is the number one factor when starting up an author career, and even if you think your book is up to par, it may not be. If you want to listen to their last podcast, you can do it here.

Another thing that I’ve been loving is this book, Titans Rising: Publishing in the 21st Century. The sub, subtitle says it’s about writing SFF and Horror, but the lessons can be applied to any genre. I’m half of the way through it, and while they do talk a lot about SSF and Horror, they also talk about the publishing industry as a whole, a conversation I’m always eager to listen in on.

That’s Blaze, and she’s rowdy.

By the way, I saw someone on Twitter charging 17 dollars for something like this. While her video was just a little longer and it had more elements, it’s not worth paying for. I made this in Canva in two minutes. You want one, I’ll do it for free. FFS.

That’s all I have for this week. Not much has changed in the past month, though I’m making progress. I’m excited to publish again and even more excited that I’m figuring out some of the technical stuff with my newsletter.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

End of the Year Wrap Up! Goodbye, 2021!

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

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

Books/Novels/WIPS

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

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

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


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

Here are my stats for ads and royalties:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website/Blog Stats

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

taken from my WordPress stats

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

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

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

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

What are my 2022 plans?

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

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

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


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

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

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

Until next time!

Buzzword: Consistency

When you follow any type of industry, Human Resources, Business, Publishing, lots of buzzwords get thrown around. They’re trendy you know? No one does more “reaching out” or “approaching” than an HR rep. Every profession has their own language, and it’s been interesting to me to hear some of what publishing’s words and phrases are. (A while back I did a post on relevancy, and you can read it here.)

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about consistency. In HR, consistency means a lot of things. As an employee, one of the biggest ones you probably appreciate is when management treats everyone the same. Transgressions are punished equally, it doesn’t matter who the employee is. One of the best (or worst) examples of inconsistency I’ve seen in the workplace is preferential treatment given to smokers. They need their smoke breaks and are allotted time others aren’t to be away from their desks. I’ve seen employees come and go because of inconsistent training, inconsistent treatment, inconsistent guidelines, and inconsistent pay. (Ever work for a company where a new hire makes more than someone who’s been there for years because they didn’t adjust the pay of the other employees? Sucks, right?)

In indie publishing, consistency is almost a naughty word, but if you think about your life outside of writing and publishing, I can’t think of an instance where consistency is bad. Your body likes it when you go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. It appreciates it when you consistently feed it nutritious food and consistently exercise. Sometimes consistency can be a matter of health: who reading this needs to take medication at the same time every day? Who goes to the doctor every month? Every six months? The dentist? And you visit the same doctor right? You have a family practitioner you’ve developed a rapport with, someone who knows your medical history.

Here are other instances where consistency is good:

*You pay your rent/mortgage on the first of every month, you renew your lease at the same time every year.
*You go to work and leave at the same time every day.
*Probably you park in the same parking spot, too.
*Your work pays you at the same times every month. Wouldn’t it suck for you if they decided to pay you whenever they wanted?
*You train your pets to expect food at the same time every day. They don’t appreciate it when you forget.
*You pick up your kids from school at the same time very day. They don’t appreciate it when you forget, either. (Haha!)
*You bring your car in for an oil change every three months because you can’t afford the potential repairs if you don’t.

There are so many more ways in which consistency helps you or when/where you depend on it. In fact, we love consistency and routine so much that we fight change. (Who ignores their computer and phone updates?) We hate it, we can’t cope with it, and it causes us anxiety. There’s a reason why we say, “Jump before you’re pushed”– because we need the control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

So why then is consistency such a nasty word when we apply it to our books and our book business?

For one, I think we fear it will stifle our creativity. When we hear the advice to “stay in our own lane” or to “niche down and find a subgenre you like and stay there” we automatically think we won’t be able to be as creative, but that is actually the opposite of how our brains respond. Humans find freedom in boundaries. Take little kids–they thrive on schedules. They need to know what is happening because they find safety in routine. They have a difficult time coping being shuttled from parent to parent in a divorce, and not knowing where they’re going to sleep from one night to the next causes them anxiety and fear. Routine for children and adults is conducive to good mental health.

You can apply that to what you write. If you choose a niche instead of being a multi-genre author, your readers will have an easier time finding something in your catalogue to enjoy (hopefully everything!). I can use myself as an example. Under Vania Rheault, I wrote in all the subgenres: billionaire, age gap, small town. I thought I was writing “contemporary romance” but publishing has changed and while I was writing that, I was technically genre hopping and it didn’t help with sales. I had a difficult time marketing. I decided to write billionaire under VM Rheault, and I have been writing and hoarding books for the past two years. I’ve written 13 books plus the one I’m writing now. That might not be much, not when we’re talking about a career, but I already have plans for four more books to round out a series I’m not done with, and I’m rereading the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day and making notes to write another long billionaire series.

Rather than think that I’ll eventually run out of things to write about billionaires, I think the opposite. I can take any trope I want and make it a challenge. How can I take this trope, apply it to the billionaire subgenre and write a book or series readers of that subgenre will fall in love with? Giving yourself too much freedom can actually cause writer’s block. We wonder how prolific writers can write so fast, and it’s because they thrive with the boundaries they write in.

Covers are the same. You need your cover to convey your genre and fit in with the other books in that genre. I didn’t understand that, and in romance, steam level also dictates how much clothing a couple on the cover is wearing. Amazon’s new guidelines haven’t helped with this and has made covering our books that Amazon will approve for ads a little more trickier. Billionaires are pretty easy–you have a suave, handsome man in a suit, or a bad boy in a black and white photo glaring into the camera. Readers are used to what they want, and if you’re too different, they’ll think they won’t like what you have to offer. Do you ever see packaging for a favorite product change? The first thing they do is put on the front in bold letters NEW LOOK! SAME GREAT TASTE! They don’t want to scare you off when they decide to rebrand. We are automatically repelled by the change, and companies know that.

Being that there is no room on a book cover to comfort potential readers and assure them that even though your cover is different there is still a story in there they will enjoy, just give the audience you’re trying to reach what they’re used to. Why fight it when the cover is only a small thing to compromise on. You want readers right? Yeah, you do.

Be consistent with a publishing schedule. This is a big one with me, and something I struggled with. The indie authors I know who are making it publish on certain days every month, every year. I would like to publish three-four books a year, though I’m not 100% sure what those days and months will be. I want readers to know, for example, in April I’ll have a book out, and then July, and then October, and then December if I happen to have something for Christmas. I know a lot of indies have an issue with this because they write when they have time to write and publish when the book is done. Then they do it over and over again without any real schedule. It can take a couple of years to figure out how fast you can write a novel, how fast your editor will give it back to you (if you have one), how fast you can put those changes in, how fast it will take you to secure a cover. We don’t like to think of books as products, but there is a “production” process very book goes through before it’s ready to be sold. In Elana Johnson’s book, Writing and Releasing Rapidly, she encourages you to figure this out. It takes me six weeks to write a 80k word novel, but because I don’t have a “team” to help me, I do a lot of the editing/proofing myself and that takes time. Going through stock photos and playing with how the cover will look takes more time than ordering a premade or hiring a designer. Formatting might not take that long with Vellum, but it’s still time you have to put aside.

If all that sounds crazy and unattainable because you have little kids and a day job, of course you won’t be releasing ten books a year, unless you write novellas and you can write one in two weeks. It’s a process to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are and work with them instead of letting them work against you. Begin how you wish to continue. Under-promise and over-deliver, so during good years if you can crank out an extra novel, your readers will be pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed because you overtaxed yourself and can’t meet a deadline.

Be consistent in the length of your novels. We don’t talk about length of a novel very often. If you’re in KU you are paid by the page read, and obviously the longer the book is, the more you’re paid. Some authors write with this in mind, and only offer full-length novels. I don’t write novellas. Not only for that reason, but because I can’t plot a novella. I always have too much going on, and when you’re writing in 1st person, I have found (for me, at least) that it takes up a lot more space on the page. Readers like to know what they’re getting. They don’t want to pay $3.99 for a novella when they think they are buying a full-length novel. That’s not to say you can’t disperse a novella here and there as extra content, for example extra content between books in a series. Plenty of authors do that, but I think it would be very difficult to find a readership when you write full-length novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories. Write a consistent word count so your readers don’t have to guess what they’re buying when you release a new “book.”


Consistency is anything but boring. In a world where chaos reigns, consistency is a comfort. If you can change your mindset and give consistency a chance instead of eschewing it because you think you’ll be bored, you may be pleasantly surprised. I love writing billionaire. They are people too, and they suffer the same problems everyone else does. Do they have different ways of solving problems? Sure, but all of my characters, (and most I’ve read by other authors, too) learn that money can’t buy happiness, and by the end of the book would happily throw their fortunes away for true love.

Maybe this makes sense and it will encourage you to take a look at your business in a new way. Maybe you think I’m full of crap and you’ll continue to write and publish whatever whenever you want, but the next time the road you take to work is closed and you’re forced to take a detour, think about how you feel, how utterly inconvenienced you feel. Suddenly your morning routine is gone and the rest of your day is messed up. Your readers like consistency, they like knowing exactly what they are paying for when you release a new book.

I mean, this whole blog post is only my opinion, though I do have a list of resources below that back me up. If you’re writing whatever and publishing whenever, and you don’t have a problem with the results that brings your business, don’t change; this blog post isn’t for you. But if you’ve been publishing for a while and not finding the results you want, it never hurts to take stock and figure out where you can do better.

That’s what I did, and I will let you know how it works for me!

Until next time!


Resources:

Finding that middle ground between your daily routine and new opportunities will get you the best of both worlds and make for a happy, fulfilling life

Do You Need More Restrictions on Your Writing?

The Paralyzing Effect of Freedom

The Psychology of Limitations: How and Why Constraints Can Make You More Creative

Author Comparisonitis and leveling up.

Last week, there was a little kerfuffle online about Sky Warren’s RAM (Romance Author Mastermind) conference, and like a true gossip, I like nosing around and seeing what the issue is.

I’m not writing this to call anyone out or judge any author, in fact, quite the opposite. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I blog to the new author, the one stumbling around trying to find his way in the industry where there are EIGHT MILLION books on Amazon with thousands more added every day.

This is a screenshot taken from a free webinar by Alex Newton of K-lytics. I screen-grabbed it in May of 2021, so the numbers are a bit outdated–and probably worse today.

I’m transparent in that I’ve written a few books, published them on my own–edited them with the help of a couple of beta readers, formatted them with Vellum, did my own covers. I haven’t found any real success–not the kind we really want when we publish a book. (We can all say we don’t want to make money or be a bestseller, but if you’re putting your book on Amazon, you’re hoping for an outcome such as that and there’s no point in lying to yourself. It will only bog your business down.)

So when conversation turns to leveling up, ad spend in the thousands, and launching to number one in the Kindle store and staying there for weeks on end, we have to realize that a conversation like this is like the difference between a janitor-in-training on his first day, and the CEO of that building conducting a billion-dollar meeting. It just isn’t the same.

I feel like these conversations come up every year, despite the information being proprietary to those conferences. You have to be making enough to be invited to attend RAM, and I am a long way off. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the information that comes out of it, but in reality, I’m not in any position to take it, either. I wrote about that before in a different blog post–we’re all at different stages in our journey and what one 6- or 7-figure author can do is not the same as what I can do with the resources that I have. That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to them talk, or take notes, or tuck away what works for them for later use, but is it going to help you with what you need help with NOW? Probably not.

I think the conflict came with the latest episode of the 6 Figure Authors podcast when Andrea Pearson recapped what she learned attending RAM. You can listen here. (Usually they post it on YouTube, but this episode is not available there. You can also listen to it on your podcast app of choice.) Because I write romance, it’s interesting to hear what the big authors are doing in regards to their business, but I know I’m not there yet. I’m not even in the black most months, so I listen with curiosity, a huge grain of salt, and a wish in the back of my mind that one day these lessons will apply to me.

How can we listen and not compare ourselves to these authors? Here are some things I take into consideration:

Are you doing the minimum first? This is a big one for me because if you’re not doing the 101 stuff, you’re not ready for the 301 level coursework. You know exactly what I mean, too. Are you writing in a series? Are you sticking to one genre to find a readership? Have you started a newsletter? Is your book GOOD? That is something we lose sight of–your book needs to be GOOD. Well-written with on-point grammar and punctuation, good story/genre appropriate/following the expected tropes and reader expectations, good cover, good blurb. If you don’t have the core quality of your product down, you’re never going to level up, or be in a position where that’s possible. It’s the difference between the crappy Frostee Freeze and the huge, brightly-colored popular Dairy Queen. Where would you rather buy your chocolate-dipped cone? (No offense to the Frostee Freezes out there, but ours is located in the ghetto and looks like the movie set of a Lifetime murder movie.)

What are your business goals? Everyone talks about this–what do you want out of your book business? But the fact is, if you don’t know, nothing you consume will help you get there. Why do you write? What do you want to get out of your business? A bestseller? Hit the top ten in your category? Do you want to have a huge launch? How many books do you have? How many books will you have by the end of the year? Are you writing a series? How fast are you going to release them? How long are you willing to do this before you see any success? This is part of the 101 stuff I was talking about above.

Find information that will help you NOW. This is probably why I like listening to the presentations from the 20booksto50k conferences in November. They are very generous and post most of the speakers on YouTube. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, unlike the mastermind classes where you already have to be at a certain level to get anything out of it. There are a lot of resources out there for newbies–podcasts and blogs, free ads courses, etc. Figure out what you need help with in regards to where you are at the present time. Are you working on craft? Looking for an editor? Exploring doing your own cover? Preparing for a launch? If you haven’t released your first book, listening to someone talk about how they’re spending 10,000 dollars on ads every month won’t matter to you, and it shouldn’t get you down. There’s no way you would (or probably could) spend that launching your first book. You’d never get that money back. Ever. There are so many resources for someone just starting out. My favorite is David Gaughran’s free course, Starting From Zero.

If you’re going to compare, at least be smart about it. I think a lot of what people don’t understand when they hear authors spending so much on their ads is that first, the authors have been writing for years and have a huge backlist (not to mention a huge readership), and second, a lot of their ad spend comes from savings of royalties already made. When you’ve been at this for years, you have savings. You’ve invested your money into CDs or high-yield savings accounts. When your interest accrued every year is as much as someone working a part-time job, you can afford to put some of that back into your ads. If you want to compare yourself to another author and base that comparison in reality, look at their genre. Is it the same as yours? Look at your backlist and how long it will take you to get to the same place. How is their book quality compared to yours? I could market my books the exact same way Janie Crouch does–but my books will never be like hers. Even if I copied the covers, genre, and tropes, our author voices and styles will never match. This is what they mean by “Your mileage may vary.” You are not another author and you never will be. How can you achieve your own kind of success?

I love this recap thread by Zoe York on Twitter. She’s so down to earth and pushes you to do what’s best for you and your books while giving you the encouragement to see that anything is possible if you work hard and don’t give up.

As far as I can see, there is no reason to get angry if someone wants to recap a high-end conference or be bitter they did. It’s the same as buying a marketing book from an author who is killing it. You can grab morsels of information but the likelihood you’re going to be able to apply 100% of what you’re consuming to your business that very second is slim.

Personally, I know why my publishing career is at a standstill. I made poor choices I didn’t know where poor choices. I know now through trial and error and listening to what mid-list authors have done to achieve their success. That’s why I did a 360 with my writing and started writing first person billionaire instead of the 3rd person contemporary romance. Will it help? I don’t know. I don’t know of my writing will resonate with readers. I may not know for a couple of years, and that’s something I’ll have to be okay with. Not everyone will make money in this business and I’ll have more choices to make if I’m not one of them. For now, I’m enjoying the process and I’m having fun writing. I’m not going to be condescending and say that’s all that matters, because it’s not. I want monetary compensation for the time I’ve spent writing and producing my books. Otherwise I would publish them on Wattpad or my own website and call it good enough.

You’ll have to decide what matters to you.

Your mileage may vary.

Thanks for reading!

Friday thoughts and author update.

Okay, so, I’m not doing too much lately besides writing. I’m 21k into the second book of my duet, and I’m liking the story. The loose ends I left in book one are just enough to anchor book two, and I have a pretty good idea of where the book needs to go and how it’s going to end. I don’t always have the end scene in my head when I’m starting out, and I need to get back to doing that. It makes things a lot easier for me.

In the spirit of planning, I bought a large grid calendar for 2022.

I want to start planning out my releases and along with the releases, figure out a launch plan for each one. Tentatively, for 2022, I’m going to release book one of my duet in March or April, release the other one in about 10 weeks after that, a standalone that I’ve already written 10 weeks after that, and a billionaire Christmas novel in November because I’ve never done a novel specifically for Christmas and I would have plenty of time to write it.

That brings me to my releases for 2023, and all those books are written (though I will need to proof them, format them, and do the covers), and as I release my six book series during that time, I’ll finish the other series I started (two books in, four to go).

It feels good to have a plan, and the schedule of three-four books a year will give me breathing room to keep writing. I never want to be in a position where I write and release, write and release. That’s too much pressure to keep consistency going, and I would feel better to stay ahead in case something happens and I can’t write. To keep a schedule going requires motivation, discipline, and organization and that is something I’m going to work on in the years ahead. Banking books has helped, but I have to admit, the thought of dumping them all on Amazon has an appeal.


I’m still working through some of the 20booksto50k videos on YouTube from their giant conference in Las Vegas in November. My favorite one so far has been with Sarah Noffke. She really is so inspiring. I think I might have mentioned once before, but if I have and you haven’t watched it, I hope you do. It’s worth your 45 minutes!

There are still a lot of amazing presentations I want to listen to, but because I have such terrible tunnel vision, the only things I’ve been working on right now are book two of my duet and this blog. I’ve missed some webinars, and I need to watch the one I paid for via Jane Friedman and her courses. There was another one that I signed up to watch live, but because I was writing when Zoom notified me it was beginning, I skipped it, too, but luckily it’s part of the Author’s Guild Business Bootcamps for Writers, and you can watch the replay on YouTube here. Also if you want notifications of when things like this happen, bookmark this site!


What am I loving this week?

Two things about editing caught my eye, one is the course hosted by Jane Friedman with Tiffany Yates Martin. I love anything that involves Tiffany, and I signed up for this course right away. I hope I can watch it live. There are so many people who are “editors” these days, some have a legit business, while others offer the service when they shouldn’t be editing a gallon of milk. (Hey, if your book has a review that says you have typos and/or grammar and spelling issues, you shouldn’t be offering to edit someone else’s work–especially if you intend to charge them for it. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.) With that said, even if you find someone who knows what they’re doing, you may not know if they are a good fit for you. Hiring an editor is an investment in your book and your business and you don’t want to waste that money! Take a look at this class about finding an editor that is a good fit for you!

If you want to register you can do so here.

The other thing that pertains to editing is Roz Morris’s blog post on dealing with feedback and accepting developmental edits for your book. Getting edits back at all can be really hard on any writer, myself included. A while back I did my own blog post on how I reacted to feedback, and you can read it here. I’ll probably be all about editing for the next little while because even though I’ll be jumping right into a reader magnet (no really, I can’t keep going without one) I have a lot of books to edit and in the words of Elana Johnson, package, in the next little while.

It’s nice to be busy, and I’ll be more careful than I have in the past with lists and trying to be organized. If I find something that works, I will pass it on to you!

Have a great weekend ahead, and I hope you find these resources helpful!

Thanks for reading!

How to break out of the writing community bubble and sell books to READERS

One of the biggest epiphanies I’ve had since I published my first book in 2015 is how to sell my books.

When we join social media and begin to build our platforms, we think that we’re building a base for readers to come together and talk about our books. The only problem with that is, we identify so strongly with being writers that we forget that we need to identify with being authors.

What do I mean by that?

When we’re writers, we’re writing, and we love to talk about writerly things. What tropes are trending, trading craft secrets, sharing blog posts and favorite craft books about showing vs. telling, how to build 3d characters, how to create conflict with stakes, goals, and consequences. And, of course, our wonderful notebook collection. We like to cheer each other on, beta read for each other, and support each other by retweeting snippets of our work. And most importantly, supporting each other on every platform. All that sounds really good, and it is.

It is until we want to sell books, and I mean, not to the handful of people we know on Twitter, or to the five writers we’ve gotten close to on Instagram. All of a sudden then, being a part of the writing community isn’t so great. We have thousands of followers but when we launch a book, no one cares. We might get a congratulations, or we might get a few compliments on our cover, but launch day comes and goes and the shine wears off rather quickly.

I don’t know how many books I launched before I realized all my followers on Twitter didn’t care. They were busy doing, or trying to do, the exact same thing I was.

And like a fish caught in a net, we struggle. How do we break out of our writer circles to sell books?

*Stop promoting your books to the writing community. Probably one of the very first things I did after realizing this is I stopped tweeting about my books. No one cared. Now I use my Twitter account for what I had been using it for before I published. I tweet about articles I find useful, congratulate authors on their finished WIPs, and point writers and authors to this blog. That’s it. I chit chat, but very very rarely I tweet about my books on there. My experience has improved, and I’ve gotten more hits on this website for my blog than I ever sold books.

I have a friend on Twitter who has almost 38,000 followers. I’m sure it hits her at times that if only 15% of her followers (5,700 readers) bought her book during launch week, she could make the USA Today bestseller list. When you have that many followers, it doesn’t seem so out of reach–until she tweets about her launch and not much happens.

As of this writing, I have 14.5k followers on Twitter. Lately, say in the past two years or so, I’ve been focusing more on writing books than networking, probably because of my realizations. I’m in KU and not eligible to reach the USA Today bestseller list, but it would take about 35% of my followers for me to reach 5,000 sales.

If you want to read more about making the USA Today bestseller list, read a really neat article by Nicholas Erik here.

Take a look at your accounts. Are most of your followers writers like mine are? That is not going to help you. You can start over, but if you don’t know how to connect with readers, you’ll fall into the same trap. I’ve been in the writing community bubble for so long, at this point, I have no idea how to use social media to find readers. Last month, I gave myself permission to stop posting on Instagram. I have 373 followers, and I would guess that at least 75% of them follow me on Twitter and or are actual friends with me on Facebook. I never knew what to post, and it was a weight off my shoulders when I stopped. My Facebook personal profile and my Instagram account are linked, so whatever photo I post on Facebook will post on Instagram, but what does it matter? I don’t post about my books on my personal Facebook page. I don’t want my friends and family reading my books. They aren’t my readers and spamming them is pointless.

*Use promos to reach reachers. Unfortunately, a lot of what I’m going to say now may require a little money. You won’t hear too many authors say that they can find readers for free. You have to learn an ad platform, or buy newsletter promos, pay for a Goodreads giveaway, join BookFunnel promotions, and/or start a newsletter. All of those will cost a little bit, depending on what you choose and what you have going on at the same time. As far as promos go, buying a spot in newsletters like Freebooksy or Robins Reads or E-reader News Today will bring in new readers and you won’t be bothering your writer followers with unwanted promos about your book. For a great list of promos, David Gaughran created a list. I’m going to work on my own list because some of them have a review minimum, and I want the ones who don’t handy when I start releasing books next year. Not all of them are expensive. The one I used to promote my holiday boxed set of A Rocky Point Wedding was $25 dollars. It will be up to you and your prices and marketing strategy to choose the promos that will give you the most bang for your buck.

*Publish regularly and add a link to the next book in your back matter. This is probably the best way to keep readers engaged and reading your books. No spamming required.

Bookbub did a blog post about using back matter to sell more books, and you can read it here.

*Learn an ad platform. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on ads. Just because you set a five dollar a day budget on Amazon Ads doesn’t mean Amazon is going to spend your five dollars a day. Plus, even if you set your bid at .30/click, that doesn’t mean every time someone clicks you’ll actually pay .30. If you choose dynamic bids down, sometimes clicks can come in a lot cheaper. The only way I have ever seen authors spend more money than they had intended was when their book wasn’t ready for advertising. When your “look inside” has typos, your cover isn’t to market, your title is off, and your blurb needs feedback–that is the only time I have ever seen an author lose money. Now, you may think all that is great and say ads don’t work, but more often than not, it’s going to be your cover or your blurb that wastes your money. If you want a free way to learn Amazon Ads, Dave Chesson has a free course through his website Kindlepreneur.

*Create an FB author page, or group, but don’t tell anyone. Yeah, that’s right. Don’t tell anyone. Add a request into the back matter of your books asking them to like your page or join your group. Add a request to your newsletter…and that’s it. I didn’t realize until I was writing this blog post the whole reason I’m disinterested in my own FB author page is because most, if not all, of my likes are by other authors who don’t care if I publish another book. Why am I going to waste time updating my FB author page when I’m not going to get any engagement? We do this with all our social media: Twitter, TikTok, FB author pages/groups, Instagram, and our newsletters. Stop it. You may want to follow other authors who write in your genre on TikTok to see how they are promoting their books, but otherwise, don’t invite other writers/authors to like your stuff. It will get you nowhere fast. It may even cost you money. See newsletters.

*Start a newsletter, but only put the link in the backs of your books and use BookFunnel and StoryOrigin to promote your reader magnet and accumulate signups. When you reach your free limit with your newsletter aggregator (if you’re using MailChimp or MailerLite), you want the people on your list to be buying your books. Deadweight costs you money, and I’m sorry if you don’t want to hear that. Your friends aren’t deadweight, and okay, they aren’t. But if they don’t open your emails, if they sink your open rate, if they don’t click on the links, if they aren’t buying your books, why are they subscribed and why do you want them to be? They aren’t supporting you, and if you’re doing that to your friends, you aren’t supporting them. Stop it.


Breaking out your writer bubble on social media is hard, but if you’re happy with the results, then you don’t need to change. If you’re unhappy with sales, are disillusioned with social media and all the time you put into networking with “readers,” it’s time to try something different. I am a lot happier on Twitter now that I stopped trying to sell books on there. I get a lot of clicks to this blog if I have an interesting topic, but mostly I use it to connect with other writers so I don’t feel so alone in this endeavor.

Writers like to hide behind social media because writing/publishing/reaching out to readers is hard. Publishing consistently is hard. A lot of writers like to write in all genres and that makes finding readers difficult so they tweet into the void and hope for the best. This is fine if this is your business model and it meets your needs, but if you need more than what you’re getting out of your current situation, you need to change.

A new year is coming–how are you going to find readers in 2022?

Until next time!

Thursday author update and lessons I’ve learned rereading old work.

I’ve been neglecting my blog as of late because I’ve been so swept up with my books. I finished the first of a duet last month, and after a couple of days’ rest, I hopped into writing the second book. I didn’t give myself enough time to think about what I needed to put into book two, and I stalled at 10k, burnt out and floundering.

I decided to take a break, but instead of stepping away completely, I dug up my five book epic fantasy series I began way back in 2015 before I starting publishing romance. These books are full of everything I learned not to do: head-hopping, word echoing, and oh my goodness, so much repetition and telling. They also don’t follow epic fantasy word counts–book two is only 57k. I remember writing these books, being so consumed by the characters, and the way I write hasn’t changed. When I start a new story, the characters and the plot monopolize my every waking moment. I would constantly think about these characters. I was more of a pantser back then, before I wrote more and drifted comfortably into the planster I am now.

I started rereading these because I really love these characters, and I’ve even thought about taking a detour and fixing them up. I wrote a blog post about it, but I never did pause my contemporary romance momentum to do it.

I have learned some lessons while rereading work that is six years old, and I thought I’d share them with you:

Not everything you write needs to be published. I’m not going to fix these and publish them. I have often thought about it because I love these characters and while I was writing them, I poured my heart and soul into them. But there is so much wrong with just the writing, never mind the non-existent characters arcs and weak conflicts, that I would have to rewrite them from the beginning. We’re talking 441,000 words, and not all of them are good words.

It’s important to know genre expectations. I don’t know why I thought I could write an epic fantasy. Back then, I hadn’t read Game of Thrones, nor had I much exposure to anything like that. The books aren’t word-count appropriate, and they don’t contain the required tropes, such as The Chosen One. (I do have one character who was “chosen” but she does not go on a journey to save a kingdom or find herself along the way.) While I can appreciate them for what they are with an author’s admiration for the start of what I hope will be a long-term and lucrative career, I know readers won’t value them as much as I do. That is one thing indies don’t seem to understand. Just because you love your work, if you’re not fulfilling reader expectations of that genre, your readers may not. It takes a lot of courage to look at your work and admit it’s lacking.

The core of who you are will always be evident in all your work. What’s funny is that I realized even after all this time, I used some phrases, favorite words, tone, and general feelings in these books that I have not lost. I suppose you can consider that my writing style, my author’s voice. It’s fun to see the ways I’ve changed, how I’ve grown into my writing, but how much of it has stayed the same.

I use the same character names. It’s probably best I created a table to keep track of the characters names I’ve used from book to book. No matter how imaginative I think I’m being, chances are I’m using names I’ve used in the past. In the second book of the duet I’m writing, my female main character’s name is Talia, and imagine my surprise when I opened these files and I have a female character named Talia. In this one thing, being consistent is not a good thing and can cause reader confusion if you do it too often or with books published too close together.

They were a foundation for bigger and better things. Jumping into a five book series as a “first book” laid a foundation for the books I’ve written since then. Looking back, I didn’t consider it such a daunting task. I was telling a story (and boy was I telling–no showing in 441,000 words) and it didn’t occur to me to be scared of the magnitude of the project. That attitude has served me well, and since then, I have written a trilogy, a four-book series, and a six-book series that I will publish under my pen name next year. There are times when jumping feet first without looking can have consequences, but in this case, writing this series without concern set me up to be utterly fearless in the trajectory of my career.

They weren’t a waste of time. Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn over the past five years of writing and publishing is nothing I’ve done is a waste. It may feel like it, as last month I barely made $50.00 and that was after paying $25.00 for a promo and a little bit of ad spend. Not enough to mention, as my books are old and I’ve let them and my ads stagnate. But I do have to console myself every once in a while with all that I’ve learned:

*How to format–I learned the hard way copying and pasting my Word document into a KDP interior for a paperback book. There are so many programs now that will format for you in practically just one click of a button that it’s almost laughable how many hours I spent copying, pasting, and tweaking that template to create the perfect paperback interior.

*How to do covers. I read Chris McMullen’s 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, and he laid out step-by-step instructions on how to make the text boxes to do paperback covers in Word. Yeah, in Word. How to create the text boxes for the back cover, spine, and front cover. Published in 2012 by CreateSpace, back before KDP existed, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it now, but it’s how I learned and knowing about the dimensions, bleed, and how to do the math still helps me every time I need to create a new canvas in Canva for a full wrap.

*Writing to market. I learned it’s not enough just to write a book. If it were, I could publish my epic fantasy and it would find a million readers. I’ve learned about tropes, genre/reader expectations, how to look at the top 100 in your genre for covers to help cover books to market. I spent a lot of time writing what I wanted to write. That should never be a bad thing, and for me, it hasn’t been, but you have to find a way to meet in the middle with writing what you love and also what readers love to read.

*Things about myself. While writing that series and the books since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I love learning about the industry. I learned I love being part of the writing community. I learned that there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing. I learned I love writing this blog. I’ve learned that I love everything about writing a book, editing it, formatting it, doing the cover, and uploading it to KDP. (Notice I didn’t say I love writing the blurb LOL). I think this is why I’ve stuck it out for so long. I love every aspect of this industry. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the five years I’ve been publishing. Not everyone has the tenacity to stick with something where success seems so out of reach.


I’ll finish reading these, and in doing so, I’ll say goodbye to these books. As long as they are on my computer, I will always think in the back of my mind they are “fixable” when in reality, they are anything but. I’ll email them to myself and delete them from my hard drive. I don’t need them hanging around anymore. It will be bittersweet, but there are so many more stories, so many more characters to write about. I will never rewrite them. Sometimes we need something just for ourselves, something we aren’t going to share with anyone else, and these books will be that for me. No one has read them besides me, and no one will. I need to say farewell and look to the future.


Okay, I’m sniffling, and to move on from being sad, here is what I’m liking this week.

The 20booksto50k Facebook group hosted by Michael Anderle and Craig Martelle had their annual writing/publishing convention earlier last month. They’ve been putting up their presentations on YouTube for those who could not go in person to Las Vegas. One day I will, but not for a couple of years. I have too many responsibilities in November to make the trip–at least until my daughter graduates high school.

I’ve been slowly getting through some of the ones I really wanted to watch, and I loved, loved, loved Kyla Stone’s presentation on writing to market.

I don’t know why I get so enamored with that message, because I am a huge advocate of it, and all I do is nod my head. But her talk really spoke to me, and I am so amazed at what she has accomplished in such a short amount of time. I want to be Kyla when I grow up. Or hopefully in the next five years I’m writing and publishing. Check it out!


That is all I have for today. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Monday! Author updates and thinking about 2022

Happy Monday after US Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday and were able rest and relax over the weekend! I missed last Monday’s blog post. I was so swamped with getting my edits on my book done and overall burnout that I dropped the ball. I should have at least told you I would be skipping, but I hope to make it up to you all with the goodies I have to talk to you about for the rest of the year!

I did have something else I wanted to talk about today, but it’s getting pushed until next week because I need more time to write it, so I’m going to do a short author update and talk about goals for 2022.

I’m done with my third read-through of my kind-of Beauty and the Beast retelling. It veered from that as some stories do, and I won’t be using that description as a marketing ploy when it’s published. Anyway, I never usually edit books so quickly after finishing them–I’ve always been a huge fan of letting books breathe–but something about this book has hooked me. Maybe it’s because I finished it so quickly, or maybe because I didn’t want to leave the loose ends untied, but whatever it is, I’m finished reading and moving on to plotting book two. I don’t count drafts, but after this third read-through it sounds fantastic and unless book two requires that I make changes to book one, all it needs now is a proofread. I’ve been mulling over what I want book two to be about–mostly I need to wrap up the over-arching plot of book one. I didn’t intentionally not finish, but it just kind of worked out that way, and it’s fine. It’s giving me more room to figure it out, so I need to find a way for my female main character to do what the FMC in book one failed to do (though she tried her best). I was also thinking about tropes and naturally, as a much younger sister, there’s going to be an age gap that I didn’t count on, but won’t drill down on either. I was thinking about a secret baby, but an age-gap/secret baby is what I did for The Years Between Us and while this will be written in 1st person under my pen name, I dislike reusing plot devices. Their ages are set–there isn’t much I can do about that, but he might not knock her up after all. Brainstorming and coming up with backstories for my characters and how those affect their present stories is a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to sit with pen and paper and think about all the ways I can make their lives miserable.


I listened to a great room on Clubhouse last week during the Monday Marketing hour for my Level Up Romance group. The question they asked today was, what is one thing you’re going to work on for 2022?

That’s an interesting question to me, especially since I’ve started helping someone as an alpha reader/editor/critique partner. She’s been with small presses and is looking to indie publish. Today I asked her what she wanted for and from her books.

It’s such an important question because with so many books on Amazon and so many choices going wide on other platforms, publishing isn’t just about putting up a book and walking away. Publishing now requires a lot of thought as to where you want your career to go. How many books can you write/edit/publish a year? What is your genre? Where are your readers? KU? Wide? A lot of authors don’t understand that marketing begins while writing the book. If you can figure this out before you waste too much time, you’re ahead of the game. It took me five years to learn this.

What do I want to work on next year that will help me and my business? I’d like to expand my squad. Find beta readers that will consistently help me (I’m more than willing to help in return!). Maybe find an editor that I can afford–at least a proofreader so I can have that extra confidence I’m putting out a typo-free product. Possibly find a cover designer, because honestly, while I enjoy it, I’m tired of doing my own covers. (This part is actually a lie. I probably will never trust anyone to do my covers, but it would be nice to have help.) For the amount of books I’m going to have coming out in the next little while, it would be super not to have to do all the work for each and every one. But, networking and connecting with people who offer services is difficult and sometimes you have to waste spend money to realize that someone isn’t going to work out.

The paid beta reader I used a few months back didn’t give me enough feedback for what I paid. Maybe that was my fault because I didn’t know the questions I should ask, but after the lack of feedback, I know now (and that can be a blog post for a different day). So while her fee wasn’t a complete waste–I learned a lot about myself and what I need–it didn’t go toward what it could have, either, which is a bummer. I never talked to her about it, and that was another mistake, I just figured to leave well enough alone and to try someone else. That’s not a great way to build relationships–you should always be able to talk to the person you’re doing business with, and possibly I could hire her again only this time be clear with what I need because what she did give me was fine–it was what she didn’t that I had a problem with.


What am I loving right now?

There is so much information that I haven’t consumed yet–from the K-lytics reports that I’ve paid for and the free ones Alex made available, to all the 20booksto50k talks from the conference in Vegas earlier, that I am downing in content and I have many many many hours of watching and listening ahead of me.

If you want to start in on the conferences, I did watch Elana Johnson’s talk and she touched upon what she’s going to be working on in 2022. How she’s going to market all the books she’s going to be putting out, and doing it all without going crazy. She has a great sense of humor, too, so listening to her speak was a lot of fun. You can watch it here.

I’ll be sharing the ones I like best as I watch them.

Another thing I’m loving right now is the book, Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon by Mark McGurl. Hat tip to Jane Friedman for pointing out the New Yorker’s article about the book (follow her on Twitter for more insights into the publishing industry). You can read the article here. After I read the book, I’ll probably do a blog post about it. How Amazon has shaped, and is shaping, the publishing industry is fascinating to me, and how Amazon molds how indies write is really interesting, too. (And how some indies rebel against it.) For example, the idea of making the first 10% of your book the best it can be because that’s the amount of sample pages Amazon lets a reader skim to help them decide if they want to purchase your book. Another example is how Amazon pushes its own imprint books and how that dictates how readers find the books they want to read while perusing Amazon. Of course Amazon is going to push the books they publish, and being they are the biggest book retailer in the US, those books will do well with Amazon’s power behind them. How does that shape what’s trending, what’s popular, and how do indie authors respond to that with the books they write hoping to cash in on what is selling on the top 100 lists? I love reading about that kind of thing, so I will definitely check back in. If you want to take a look at the book yourself, you can find it here.

So, needless to say, I will be quite busy in 2022. It would be too much for me to hope that I can finish writing book two of this duet before Christmas being that I don’t even have a plot for it yet, but If I can get it finished by the end of the year and work out a few things, I would love to publish these as the first two books of my pen name in the spring. I’m doing that because unfortunately, and I have lamented about this in the past, you cannot build a readership on standalones. You can certainly publish standalones, but the real butter for your bread comes with read-through of a series. Any indie making it will tell you that. In fact, I was going to go ahead and rebel, and publish two standalones at the beginning of next year, but changed my mind after listening to Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea talk abut what they would do now if they were to start over knowing what they know now. Not one of them said they would publish a standalone, and while that was disheartening to hear, I also have to take their advice. Publishing a duet first is my compromise. Read-through to book two will be nice while I get a feel for my readers and they get a feel for me. I’ve said in the past I don’t write billionaire romance the way the other top 100 authors do. My characters are older and they hit upon issues that I haven’t found in a lot of the billionaire romances out there. So this will be me slowly testing the waters, and all I can do is see if it works. If you want to listen to that podcast where they talk about that, you can listen to it here:

I think that is all I have for now!

Until next time!