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!

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!

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!

Happy Monday! Creating a Logo for a Series and short author update.

Good morning and happy Monday! If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope you’re getting all your words down so you can take a (much needed) break around Thanksgiving if you celebrate!

I’d like to congratulate Barbara Avon for winning the fall gift basket I gave away in association with Nina Romano’s fabulous interview we did! Incidentally, I interviewed Barb last spring, and you can read her interview here.


I don’t have much going on for myself. My daughter’s birthday is this week (on the 18th) and we’ll be heading out to dinner to celebrate her turning the big sixteen. It makes me feel old to have a daughter that age, though I’ll be turning 47 on the 28th, and that really isn’t that bad. I haven’t spoken about it for a long time, but I’m still dealing with some girly issues. It’s been a long year. Luckily, I haven’t let how I’m feeling get in the way of writing, and I hit 78k on my latest novel. A friend asked me if I’m ever going to publish them, or if I’ll just hoard my books like a dragon guards his gold, but one day I’ll publish something. After the holidays, at least. I probably will be publishing without a reader magnet, but that’s a choice I’ll be making because I haven’t written anything I want to give away.


What I wanted talk about today is logos for series. I’ve been seeing so many of them lately, and I like looking at them and how they’re associated with the books. There are a few reasons why you would want to make a logo for your series, but you’d have to think about branding and how your covers are going to look before you publish book one. Indies are terrible at looking ahead (I know–I was one of them) but all it takes is a little pre-planning to make your series shine. Why do a logo?

It will make the reader aware the books are in the same series. If you have deep backlist, a logo will help separate one series from another. I say help, because your logo shouldn’t be the only thing to tie your series together. Take, for instance, Ivy Smoak’s gorgeous covers for her Empire High series. (Check them out here!) They all look similar, with the same font, stock photo model, and overall vibe.

Screen grab taken from Amazon

Here is a close up of her logo for the series. It might be a little pixelated–all I could do is take a screenshot of it and blow it up, but you get the idea.

It’s great for marketing purposes. It probably doesn’t need to be said that having a logo identifier is great for branding and marketing purposes. How? That’s the million dollar question everyone asks. How do you market? How do you promote your brand?

The first thing I thought of when doing this blog post was swag. Bookmarks are the go-to for authors and many of us turn our book covers into bookmarks to give away at events, or even just to leave in places like coffee shops. You never know who is going to pick up a bookmark and then go on to look up your book because of the hunky stock photo guy or book cover you used. But, I’m also thinking of using Dave Chesson’s QR code creator (it’s FREE). With his QR code creator, not only can you add a logo to to the code, but you can make the code go right to your Amazon series page or your Amazon Author page.

This is a poor and quick attempt to show you what I mean:

Of course, you can do better than this. It’s a very poor attempt to show you that you can match the logo on your book’s cover to the logo you can put in the center of the QR code. This is a cover I made up for one of my books while I was goofing around with concepts. It turns out it’s going to be book one of a six book series, and I only have two written right now. I’ll get back to those after I get all these standalones out of my system. But for now we’ll use the fake cover as an example. I made the bookmark in Canva (search bookmarks and they will give you a variety of templates), but VistaPrint is another great place to make bookmarks. I’ve seen their quality and they are a great resource for swag.

Another thing you can do with a logo is put it on all your graphics. Even if you don’t use ads, you can make graphics for your FB author page, Twitter, and Instagram. Here is something I whipped up for this blog post using Canva with my fake cover and the logo.

It can be clever identifier to what the books are about. The BBB for my logo isn’t a great example, but the ballet slippers that author Vivian Wood used is. We know right away her trilogy is going to be about dancers of some kind.

Taken from

It is a funny coincidence that our cover models are the same man–such is life in the life of a romance author with limited stock photos.

But this brings me to a really great point about logos. A lot of logos you will make for your covers are just going to be elements that you hunt up yourself unless your cover designer also makes them for you. Going on depositphoto.com and searching for vectors is probably the best way to find something you’re looking for, and I found a similar pair of ballet slippers Vivian used for her cover:

All it would take is a little know-how with GIMP or Photoshop to strip this pair of their sepia background and color the shoes gold to fit in with her color scheme. Like anything else you do with your cover, it’s best to buy your elements. In fact, this article from The Cover Counts says DepositPhotos is the ONLY place you should buy logo elements because different stock sites have different terms of service and vectors may not be allowed to be used a part of a logo.

When we talk about logos, we’re not talking about trademarking it as part of your official brand, author brand, or book brand. It’s more a part of your cover like the font you use than it is some of real legal value. Just like the guy above we both used as a cover model, there’s nothing that says an author can’t like your logo so much they want it as part of their own series and copy it. Indies are a pretty good group of people though, and I don’t hear of thievery like this very often, especially in romance author circles. But because we’re all limited by stock choices out there, one can only hope that an author’s or cover designer’s creativity will keep them from having to copy someone else.

How do you make a logo? It would be tempting to go into Canva and search logos and and alter one to suit your needs, but you should make your own with elements you purchase (please stay away from pixabay, unsplash, pexels, and other free sites) and use fonts that you have purchased or you know are free for commercial use. I’ve been thinking about the logo I’m going to make for the duet I’m currently writing, and my King’s Crossing 6-book series will definitely need one.

Canva is the easiest way to try a design, using their free elements, and then when you think you might have what you need, look to DepositPhotos and buy what you can find that will fit.

Most authors have an author logo, too, and I made one for my pen name. For now I’ve been placing the on the backs of my books in the empty bottom left hand corner of the cover. The cityscape theme matches the stock photo I use on my newsletter signup, and If I rebrand the author page on Facebook I have now, or start a new one, the cityscape can be part of the header too.

You can have a lot of fun with a logo for a series, and it’s great way to tie your books and covers together, and with splashing it everywhere, maybe you can build some brand awareness!


I don’t have much else today. It’s going to be a busy week, and I’m going to try to get this book done before Thanksgiving so I can rest a few days during the holiday. I still don’t have a plot for book two, but I left a lot of loose ends in book one (not for the couple, they’ll have their HEA) but book two is definitely needed now, and all I have to to do is figure out how to do it.

I’ll think of something.

Until next time!

Monday Musings: Updates, Word Counts, and Managing Reader Expectations.

I, unfortunately, don’t have a lot going on for this post today. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, so there’s nothing to update you there. I’ve never needed the motivation or the camaraderie. I did NaNo one year about 5 years ago, and after a ton of editing, that book turned into Don’t Run Away, the first in my Tower City Romance Trilogy. Since then I’ve never needed to “get serious” or use it as a month to “start over.” I’m actually kind of glad I don’t depend on NaNo to get words down. What do people do the rest of the year? Anyway, I actually have a blog post about why I never participate, and you can read it here, if you want.

I am, however, 56,000 words into my new novel, and more than likely it will be a duet. My FMC has a sister who is introduced to my MMC’s business partner. It stands to reason they’ll have their own story, even though I don’t have a plot for them. I’m excited for the possibility of a duet since that is something I haven’t tackled, but at the same time, I don’t want to write it. Why would I force myself to write something that hasn’t grabbed me? Mostly because of reader expectations. When you have two secondary characters and they meet and there’re sparks, readers are going to want to know what happens. Can I rewrite what I have so there are no sparks, yes, but it felt natural they were attracted to each other. From one writer to another, you know what happens when characters go off and do their own thing. It’s difficult to rein them in and they end up doing what they want to do, much to our disappointment and disapproval. I like my two side characters, and I hope a nice juicy plot ends up in my lap by the time I’m done with this book.

My favorite meme when it comes to character vs. plot:

Found on Instagram

You might be tempted to tell me to do what I want, regardless of what readers will want after reading this book. That is the indie author refrain after all. I’m an indie, I’m going to do what I want to do, but the funny thing is, the indies on Twitter who say that the loudest also lament about how low their sales are. I could do what I want and let this be another standalone, or I could put my brain to work, think up a few things for these characters, and give my readers what I know they’ll want after they read this book.

Managing reader expectations is important. When they pick up your book based off an ad because you targeted a similar author, and they see your cover, your blurb, the title, they are going to expect certain things. The novel’s content will nudge them to expect certain things. If you’re writing about a group of friends, chances are each friend is going to have her own book–especially if your novel is tagged a Book One, and you indicate it’s part of a series. Your readers will expect that. Writing Book One and then never writing another book–I’ve seen authors do that. They might as well not even have published for all the good that did. So, if I set up for my characters to have their own book, then I should give them their own book. I nag about this topic too much, but Nora Phoenix has a great blog post about this very thing, and you can take a look at it here.

As an extra tidbit, even word count can make a reader happy or disappoint them. You should be well-read in the genre you’re writing, should know the tropes, general feel, and how long the books usually are. A great way to see how long a book is is to use this website Wordcounters. There you can look up a book or better yet, an author, and get an idea of their average book length. Some of the top billionaire romances right now range from 80-110k words per book. Some are longer, but very very few are shorter. The authors I looked up also have their books in KU, so I’m going to guess that a lot of them write with that in mind. Romance can go all over the place, but a lot of the novellas I see now are written to fit between books as extra content, and the main books are full-length novels. All of you know that I’ve been trying to write a reader magnet for my newsletter, and it would be great if I could write a shorter book for that. I’m trying, but first person takes up a lot of room, and my shortest book I’ve written since changing POVs is 74k, my longest, 97k. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but maybe one day I’ll figure it out. I need a plot for a 50k novel I can write in week, please and thank you.

My giveaway I’m hosting for Nina Romano’s interview ends Wednesday, the 10th of November. You can read her interview and enter to win this gift basket full of fall goodies and a beautiful paperback copy of her book, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. I’ll ship anywhere in the United States and I’ll brave the post office to ship to Canada.

Hello Fall, orange mug with chocolates, a $25 Amazon gift card, Pumpkin candle, Vanilla Nut ground coffee and Nina’s book.

What am I loving right now?

I’m reading Elana Johnson’s Writing and Launching a Bestseller.

Usually when I read stuff like this, it’s just them preaching to the choir, but I’m hoping she can give me some good ideas on how to launch my books next year, too.

I think that is about it from me. Things, I suppose, will be quiet around here until after the holidays. I’ll be writing and relaxing, and I hope you will be doing the same!

Until next time!

“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.” How true is that statement?

Do whatever you want, and don't worry about what everyone else is into. 

Rachel Kramer Bussel

Woman in purple camisole sitting on red chair looking away from the camera.

You guys know I consume a lot of content. Not as much fiction as I should be for a romance author, but I live and breathe non-fiction, especially anything having to do with market trends and industry (both indie and trad) news. I have a fascination with learning, not only to pass things on to you, but because you don’t know what you don’t know, and I like knowing it all. Or trying to. Picking through the weeds is difficult and time consuming, and even today because I have to work, I’m missing out on Clubhouse rooms (and you all know how much I agonize over that).

Anyway, so on one of my off days, I was listening to a Clubhouse room and after an hour of extolling the virtues of TikTok, she says, “But you don’t have to do any of this if you don’t want to.” I would imagine some of us felt relief, because sure, you DON’T have to be on TikTok to sell books. It’s a relatively new platform and it’s not like books didn’t sell before it’s invention. But. After an hour of hearing how wonderful and fun it was, being told that it was voluntary punched me in the gut. After listening to testimonies about how worthwhile it was, how people did manage to sell books on there, her comment didn’t sound true. It sure as hell sounded like we needed to be on TikTok.

It made me think about what we can use in the business and what we really don’t need. These opinions are coming from a place where I wish I would have done some of these things and where I have tried some and think they have merit, where I found some tractions with sales, and what I know I’m missing out on because I didn’t do them. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

You don’t have to . . . be on social media . . . if you don’t want to. You really don’t have to be on social media if you don’t want to. Twitter is a time suck of negativity, IG is going down in flames as TikTok runs miles ahead. No one likes Facebook. But if you don’t like social media, what does an author have left to sell books? You need something. Anyone who pushes Publish and walks away knows you need something or no one will know where your book is. Probably the hardest lesson I learned in the past five years of publishing is that without a newsletter, without a reader group on on Facebook, if someone wanted to be a real fan of my books, I didn’t give them a chance to be. There is no where for them to meet up or chat with me. Sure, I’m on social media, but I’m not active and anyone who finds my author page will see my last post was from almost a year ago. Why would they hit the like button? It’s not like they would get anything out of it. So if you don’t like Facebook, you still need someplace for your fans to meet up. I get it. As a newbie author, maybe you’re thinking you won’t ever have fans, at least not for a long time. This could be true, but you don’t need to make it any harder for them than it has to be, either. If you don’t want to be on social media, you need to replace it with something. I didn’t have a social media presence or a newsletter and after a reader read my book, there was no way for them to connect with me, or me to connect with them to let them know of sales and/or new releases.

You don’t have to . . . start a newsletter . . . if you don’t want to. For years I didn’t start a newsletter. I didn’t want to take the time to learn. The thought of cranking out a book to offer as a reader magnet didn’t bother me (yes it does), but there is so much that goes into a newsletter, and it still makes my head spin. It’s easy to say, “Start a newsletter,” but it’s the behind the scenes that makes me bitter. Learning the platform, learning BookFunnel (because it’s the best way to distribute any bonus material and gather email signups), or StoryOrigin, seemed like a giant waste of time to me when all I wanted was to write books. If you have an active reader group on Facebook, you might be able to get away without a newsletter, though you’re planting seeds in someone else’s garden and everyone says not to do that. You could blog for readers, and Anne R. Allen even has a book about that very thing: The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors. It may be a bit outdated, but her content advice should still be relevant. The only problem with directing a reader to your website is that you lose the control to connect with them. They choose to visit your website or read your blog. If you can snag their email, you can contact them whenever you want. True, they still have to open the email, but they voluntarily signed up, so that makes it more likely they will at least peek at what you have to say. Do you need to start a newsletter? Nope. But as an author who has been writing and publishing–steadily, I might add–with no readership after all this time, it’s my biggest regret.

You don’t have to . . . learn an ad platform . . . if you don’t want to. Like the other two things on the list so far, you don’t have to learn an ad platform, but you do have to have something to replace it, be that a newsletter or using promos such as Freebooksy, BargainBooksy, Ereader News Today, Fussy Librarian, etc. If you want to get the word out about your book, and you don’t want to be on social media, start a newsletter, or learn an ad platform, that doesn’t leave you a lot of marketing choices. Because I haven’t had a newsletter and I’m not active on social media, learning an ad platform and using the promo method are the two things I’ve used to find readers. Not a lot of readers, but more than if I hadn’t used anything at all.

You don’t have to . . . write in a series . . . if you don’t want to. From the minute I started writing and publishing, all I heard was write in a series. There’s a lot of wisdom to this. Read-through (KU page reads and sales of individual books) is great if your first book is strong and you don’t take too long between releases. You have more marketing choices if you write in a series (like box sets and offering the first book for free to get readers hooked), and ad spend isn’t so bad if you pay for a little higher click because essentially you’re not only advertising one book, but many books (as many books is in your series, obviously). So what’s the problem? Writing is hard. Publishing is hard (so much to learn!) and costly. If your book one isn’t strong enough and readers drop off, every book you write after book one is a waste of time. Instead of figuring out how to do covers for one book at a time, all of a sudden you’re thinking about series branding and formatting. If you’re a new author, that’s intimidating. Not to mention if you don’t have friends to lend a hand with beta reading, editing a series can be very costly. I never advise anyone to publish without at least one more set of eyes besides yours on the book (I don’t care who that is). Writing standalones has always been more enticing to me, and I can write them quickly. They’re more manageable, and publishing one book is a lot faster because I have this weird thing with writing an entire series before publishing it. (Which has come in handy this time around as I did find a small little something from book 2 to book 3 that affects book 5 that I can fix now.) What can you do if you like to write standalones too? 1) Use your back matter. Advertise another standalone in the back. Use a buy-link, add the cover. Some ad copy. 2) Don’t let too much time go by between releases, or don’t market heavily until you have a backlist. If readers love you (and you want them to, right?) they will read all that you have. If that’s only one book, they might love it, but then they have nowhere else to go. (And this is especially true if you don’t have a newsletter or a group they can join to hook up with you while you write the next book.) But this also brings me to….

You don’t have to . . . write in one (sub)genre . . . if you don’t want to. You don’t, but it will make things easier if you do. For a few books, anyway. Or if you really want to, it can be wise to separate genres by pen name, but it will slow your productivity, depending on how fast you can write. I decided to use a pen name for my billionaire romance though I think they could have fit in with my contemporary romance okay. I like the idea of starting over, of having one specific subgenre under one name. Of course you can write whatever you want under one name, but marketing might be a little harder and the chance of finding readers who will read it all are slim. What can you do if you want to genre hop? The best advice I’ve heard is to try to not stray too far. Contemporary romance is all-encompassing, and I thought I could write whatever I wanted. It wasn’t true. If I ever get tired of writing billionaire, I could probably get away with writing Mafia, as they have similar tones. Not that I have plans for that as I have never even read a Mafia romance. Admittedly I don’t know much about other genres like Fantasy. An author could maybe get away with mixing RomCom and Women’s Fiction, especially if the WF has humorous elements in it. Domestic Thrillers could pair well with Mystery or Thriller. It will help your cause if they have similar elements and similar covers, so the books your Amazon author page look cohesive.

I could probably do a lot more of these; there are plenty of “rules” in the indie publishing space. The fact is, you can do whatever you want, but that leads to the indisputable fact that you may not achieve the results you want as quickly as you want them. I’ve been publishing for five years. I don’t have the audience I want because I didn’t give them a way to hook up with me, or a space for them to hang out with each other. No readers means no sales. What kills me is I did it my way for a long time, when I was more than willing to do what I needed to do it right the first time. I just didn’t know what that was. It wasn’t TikTok, and while I’m curious about the platform, I’m still wondering just how worth it it is. The whole idea of anything is to do what you enjoy so you can keep up the consistency of that thing. I don’t like my FB author page. I don’t like Instagram. I don’t want to learn how to use TikTok when I can put that time to use and write bonus material, a reader magnet, learn BookFunnel, network with others, and read more in my genre (and while doing that, join a billionaire readers’ group to help me stay on top of the hottest trends).

It’s all where you want to spend your time, how fast you want to put books out, and what you enjoy doing. You don’t have to do anything. You’re an adult. What do you want to do, and will it move your book business forward? That’s a question only you can answer.


What am I loving this week?

Alext Newton of K-Lytics did a comprehensive romance report for the fall of 2021. Being that I love keeping up with the industry, I bought it for $37. You can find out more about it and purchase it for yourself by clicking here. It’s not an affiliate link. I love Alex and the work his team does, but we aren’t affiliated. 😛

Another thing I loved is the interview James Blatch did with romance author Melanie Harlow on the Self Publishing Formula Podcast. She had some great advice, and I really related to what she had to say. I love it. You can listen to it here.

That’s it for me today! Have a wonderful week everyone!

Until next time!

Is your book worth the blood, sweat, and tears, or is it time to move on?

We all want to feel like our books are worth reading. It’s why we write them, it’s why we publish them. It’s why we spend money on them with book covers, editing, and ad spend.

We want people to love our books.

But there comes a point in an author’s career when you look back and think that maybe that book isn’t worth any more time or money. It didn’t quite hit the mark with story/trope/character, or the cover is never going to be quite right, or you’ve changed the blurb so many times you wanna puke. No matter what you do to it, no matter how many ads you run, you just can’t get it to move.

And that happens. Even in the traditional publishing space. A publishing house throws hundreds of thousands of dollars at an author in form of an advance, and the house scrambles to push that book and make it a bestseller. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. An author who doesn’t earn out is screwed, but we can shake it off and go write something else.

I’ve complained about my books before, but I don’t sit and bitch and then do nothing. I’ve redone blurbs, I’ve redone covers. Heck, I’m using the #stayathome order to re-edit most of my books. I’ve found small inconsistencies and typos, even some small formatting issues. In some of my earlier works I’ve smoothed out telling, a lot of passive voice. They’ll be better. But better enough to start earning me money?

Probably not.

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ads Challenge. In this challenge we learned how to bid, what our daily spend should/could be, where to find keywords. This challenge was great because he even taught us how to do some very simple ad copy, and this was so helpful. I hope whoever read that post took the challenge. It was worth the time, and it was FREE. Can’t get any better than that.

I did the challenge, and I’ll share my numbers with you in a minute. I chose All of Nothing, my strongest book, the book that I’ve sold the most of, and it did great. But I still came out on a loss. I ran a few ads to other books too, and I’ll give you my results on those, but for now, let’s take a look at All of Nothing.

At first I started the challenge with His Frozen Heart. First in series, it’s a no-brainer. I have book two out, book three is about to drop at the end of the month. Book four at the end of May. But in the middle of the challenge I changed tactics because something Bryan said resonated with me. He said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Choose the book that sells the best.” You could have twenty books in your backlist and one is always going to sell better than the rest. Some books are just going to carry the others, and that’s the way it is. Especially if you sub-genre hop like I do.

Anyway, All of Nothing has outsold my other books by an extreme margin, and all I can think of is that it hits closer to home in terms of what’s selling right now in the romance genre (a little more grittier, a little more raw). That doesn’t mean I’m making money, but I’m selling books.

So, I changed gears and used Publisher Rocket for keywords for All of Nothing. (Folks, if you run Amazon ads and not using this magnificent piece of software, go get it right now. I’ve had it for a while, but never used it because I was using Bryan’s free way of gathering keywords. Free is fine, but in this instance, you get what you pay for.) About a year or so ago I changed the cover, six months later I redid the blurb. Those changes paid off, and now there’s nothing more that I can do to it to make it sell.

In the month of April I’ve spent $135.22 in ads and I’ve made $103.93.  I’m in the hole $32.00.

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My rank fluctuates between 15,000 and 12,000 in the Kindle Store. 12,xxx is the lowest (highest) ranking I have ever achieved. (Sorry, no screenshots. I check rank just to see if my ads are working.) But I am still in the hole. According to Bryan, I may not be in the hole forever–people borrow books and that makes your ranking go up, but don’t sit down to read right away and you don’t earn KU page revenue until they do. So while I lost money, maybe I really didn’t. There’s no way to really know. I can’t operate in the red to that extent, and I stopped my ads. Maybe the KU page reads will catch up to my ad spend and one day I’ll break even. Maybe not. All you can do is wait.

Obviously my book has the capacity to sell. And there are a few things I can do: bid lower. Not run so many ads. (I had about twenty going.)

Is it worth it to run ads to All of Nothing? Maybe. But the problem is, if they like Enemies to Lovers, or Bully Romance, or Billionaire Romance (those are the categories I used to search for keywords) then they have nowhere else to go in my backlist. None of my other books are like that. So they buy that book and move on to a different author.

The Years Between Us e-reader coverI run ads to The Years Between Us, too, and that was the book I was thinking about when I decided to write this blog post. The Years Between Us is an older man/younger woman trope. The problem with that is the indie industry has made that book naughty. When a reader in KU picks my “My Best Friend’s Dad” and there’s half-naked people on the cover, they know what they’re going to get. Lots of forbidden, naughty sex. Maybe even the heroine giving away her virginity, or at the very least, finally having sex with a “man” who knows what he’s doing. My book has that too, but it’s not gritty. I’ve tried running ads to it, and I’ve reworked the blurb. (I’ve blogged about this book in the past, and I’ve lost a lot of money in ad spend [about $70] before I changed the blurb.) Changing the blurb worked a little bit, and the cover is next. I don’t think the cover is working, but I ran some ads to it during this challenge too.

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Definitely not the loss that All of Nothing suffered, but I didn’t run nearly as many ads to it this time around because I’ve been burned before and I killed them when All of Nothing started operating at a loss. The last thing I can do is change the cover. It’s the only cover in my collection that doesn’t have a couple on it. After that, I’m just going to have to move on and admit that the book missed the mark.

It’s tough when you’ve written a book and it doesn’t sell no matter what you do to it. And in KU, like a friend and I were talking about last night, a reader could get to page 20 and not go any further because the book wasn’t what they expected it to be. 100 readers could do that, and in KU speak, that’s 2000 pages read. So you have no idea, really, if a book is being read cover to cover, unless the reader happens to leave a review.

The book I started the challenge with, His Frozen Heart, isn’t doing so well, either. And the poor reviews right out of the gate probably didn’t help it.

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I have twenty ads going for this book, and it’s dead in the water. I used Publisher Rocket for this book too, but it’s a Holiday Romance, Small Town, and people are looking forward to spring. If I want to market it after all the books in the series release, I could do a Christmas in July promo, or really push it hard this October when the holiday books start coming out. I didn’t plan very well for the release of these books, but I wanted to wait until I had them all done and edited. I’m not counting this series out yet, but I have a feeling these four books aren’t going to make much of a splash.

The problem isn’t just with the books though, it’s with me and how I’m operating my business.

I don’t have a newsletter going, and I don’t have any place for my readers to go to talk about books. I’ve blogged about that before. You need a place for the readers of your books to meet up and chat. And chat with you. There are plenty of people who say that they don’t want to start a newsletter because they themselves don’t open them. But listen, you’re in this as a writer, not a reader. Readers who only read, who are not part of the writing community, they LIKE hearing from you. The love the giveaways that are exclusive to them. They like the short stories that are especially for them. There’s a reason the theory 1,000 true fans exists. Because it works. All you need is 1,000 true fans who will read buy anything and everything you write and you are on your way to a real career.

Sticking with a sub-genre would help exponentially. All Billionaires, or all Small Town. I write what I wanna write, and lots of indies will stand on that hill until they die. But in this business, “Build it and they will come” doesn’t always work. When I first started writing, I thought Contemporary Romance was a thing. It’s only a thing if you’re trad-pubbed and already have an audience 20 years in the making.

You have wiggle room with plots, sure, even if you stick with a sub-genre. Maybe had I written The Years Between Us as also Small Town, that would have helped. But it’s placed in the city and Matthew is not a Billionaire, either. I could make him one, but he doesn’t live that lifestyle in the book, so it would mostly be a lie in the blurb the story couldn’t uphold. I don’t want to do that to my readers. Damn you Christian Grey and the expectations you created!

What will I do from here? I have a first person trilogy I need to work on after I’m done editing my backlist. I’m switching gears that way, and maybe that will help. I have no problem writing Billionaires, and my first person is more on target with what’s selling at the moment, but that might not always be true, either. I need to be smart, and I’ll create a newsletter to go along with that pen name.

It’s really tough, putting time and creative energy into a book only to find it’s not going to resonate with readers. We all want our babies to be loved. But at the end of the day, sometimes you have to realize the book missed the mark and move on. There are a ton of stories out there to write.

What do you think? Do you have a book you’re ready to give up on? Let me know!


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Another update, because, why not? And other musings of a #stayhome life

I had a blog post planned for today, and it’s even written out in my notebook. I need to type it up and get it out there, because it’s part of the 2020 predictions from Written Word Media. I would like to get that series finished up so I can blog about other things. Though, with this virus stuff going on, (and I don’t mean to make light of it at all; I know it’s affected many people) it feels almost strange to be carrying on in any normal sort of way.

silhouette-4233622_1920Even with my rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, write, write, write mentality I like to shove down people’s throats on this blog, I haven’t been doing much of that.

That’s not to say I haven’t been doing something. I was dismayed to find one day that some of my Vellum files for my books went missing. It’s not technically a big deal. I mean, I still had the .mobi files for Kindle the PDFs, but I didn’t like not having the actual files that upload into Vellum. So I took it upon myself to take the PDFs, convert them back into a Word docx and put them back into Vellum.

It’s just as convoluted as it sounds, and when you convert a PDF into a Word docx, the formatting isn’t 100% the same. And when you put that Word docx into Vellum, it gets messed up even more. So what I did (for my own peace of mind and my weird anxiety I get when I think about my books) I decided that while I was fixing the formatting in Vellum, I would give them a light edit and push them back into the world.

I’ve taken the last two weeks and I did All of Nothing, The Years Between Us, and Wherever He Goes. I guess because the formatting changed, or maybe I chose a different font for the text, who knows, I had to redo cover dimensions for All of Nothing and Wherever He Goes. That wasn’t too big a deal, since everything was saved in Canva and I had all my stock photos still saved there. Recreating them with a different canvas size didn’t take too much time, and I’m getting good enough that I didn’t bother ordering proofs before publishing them (something I used to do every time I made a change to the paperback).

It was actually kind of interesting to go back and read my books again, and I learned a couple things along the way:

1. I need to keep my baby name book with me. ALWAYS. I used the same names over and over again. There’s a Jared in Wherever He Goes, and there’s a Jared in my Wedding series. I reused the name Max, as well. Dismayed, I found I used Erik in All of Nothing, and there’s an Eric in Don’t Run Away. There’s an Elmer in Wherever He Goes, and an Elmer in the new trilogy I’m editing (I’ll change his name, for sure). You know, there are so many names available, I shouldn’t have reused the names at all. It’s not like I’m 60+ into my backlist and I’ve run out of choices. For consistency and scared I would do more harm than good, I didn’t change any of the names. Maybe in the future an Excel sheet will come in handy.

2. I use the same imagery. I’m consistent in imagery, and I guess that’s what people mean when they say they know a book’s author by the way it’s written. Though some of the metaphors and cliches change from book to book, it’s evident I like the sound of a certain way of comparing things.

In the mirror, I give myself one last look. The dress shows off just enough leg, my hair is a blonde mess of curls down my back, my eyes have just the right amount of shadow and eyeliner.

I’ll pass, if no one looks too closely.

After all, even imitation gold shines in the light.

This is an example of some of the language I like to use from book to book, and while it’s pretty, I need to make sure that I’m mixing up my imagery or my books will start to sound the same.

3. My themes are the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’ve been told that a consistent theme weaving your books together will help with marketing. My theme, so far, is when you fall in love with the right person, you can find your place, you can find your home. Of course, in romance you have to be careful that the woman isn’t losing herself in her man, that her world doesn’t revolve around him. So it’s important that you give your female main characters their own backstories and make sure they have their own arcs so they fall in love and find their place with their man on their own terms. All my female characters battle their own demons before allowing themselves to find happiness in a relationship. This is the way romance has evolved, but I don’t have any complaints. No one wants to read about a doormat who doesn’t have her own life outside of her love interest.


I could tell that when I was writing Wherever He Goes that I was a bit stiff at the beginning and I did take the chance to smooth out some sentences and make the scenes and paragraphs flow a little better. I didn’t hit my stride with that book until the middle, and I find it interesting because already by Wherever He Goes I had already written quite a few words. But that book was my first standalone after the my Tower City Trilogy and I guess I was getting used to new characters and plot.

I don’t know if I’m going to do every single book I’ve published. The box set file for my trilogy is still intact, so pulling those out and making the books single again to recover my Vellum files won’t take that long, and they won’t require proofing unless I want to go back and read them. I suppose I could since in the back of my mind I feel like those are mediocre offerings at best and I’m reluctant to advertise them. If I read through them and fix typos, etc, then maybe the time I invest doing that will come back to me since I’ll be more comfortable promoting them. That’s committing to a lot of work, and for now I’m going to do 1700. I don’t have the file for that cover anymore–that was way back when I was doing covers in Word, and Canva wasn’t available yet. So I want to revamp that and reformat the insides with Vellum. I’m excited to do that–and it won’t take me long. The whole book is barely 50k. I already edited an old paperback so I just need to add them in and make the interior pretty. It’s a romantic fantasy, and once I update the cover and keywords, it might actually make a few sales. It’s a cute little story, and even though it’s the first one I published, I’m still proud of it.

I think I even found a stock photo that might work:

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I know the font will play a big part of the cover, and to be honest, I totally fucked myself with the title. On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton is atrocious, and if I cared at all, I would unpublish and start over. But while it’s a sweet little thing, it doesn’t mean enough to me to completely revamp it. As they say, mistakes were made, so what’s the point of pretending they weren’t?

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been doing with my time. It’s amusing, at any rate, and it’s actually kind of heartening to know that I like what I write and I feel like though there were typos I had to take care of, my books are solid and I’ll have confidence in running ads to them in the coming years.

Tell me what you’ve been up to! Are you doing little things to keep your mind busy or have you been able to write?

Let me know!


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2020 Indie Publishing Predictions: Indie Authors and Marketing Collaboration

2020 indie publishing predictionsThe third 2020 prediction offered by Written Word Media is that authors will collaborate on marketing. I don’t think this is a prediction so much as it is them saying, indies will do more of it, or they will be forced to do more of it because it’s harder than ever before to get anywhere on your own.

This is where the evil networking comes in. A favorite marketing technique right now is newsletter swaps, but that comes with its own pitfalls. When you agree to recommend a book to your readers, you’re telling them, “I liked this book, and I think you’ll like it too.” You don’t want to lose trust of your readers because you swap with authors who may not be writing quality books. It takes time to read books by your fellow authors, and I would imagine it would be difficult for you to say, “I don’t want to swap with you. I don’t think your book is something my readers would enjoy.”

You also don’t want your book to be in a swap where the author has recommended a lot of books. Too many recommendations means fewer eyes on your book. Unfortunately, this advice is only good for authors who have a newsletter and you have hundreds to thousands of email sign-ups. Building a list takes a long time, and you may not be able to use this marketing technique for a few years.

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That number seems extraordinary if you don’t have a newsletter yet!

The article also suggests that group giveaways will be popular marketing technique. I can tell you as an emerging author with no email list or audience that posting or tweeting about a giveaway to no audience is a huge waste of time. Group giveaways only work if every author in that group already has an audience who likes their work. And those are the authors who don’t necessarily need to market – they already have a solid readership. They are just rewarding their readers for being fans.

If you’re an emerging author, you can always network, and maybe one day you can be invited into a giveaway with other authors doing better than you. I know from experience banding together with other emerging authors won’t do much.

With my series, I have the potential to put together a really cute gift box of Minnesota Untitled design-2items and include my books. I haven’t because anytime I try to give something away, I hear crickets. But that’s my fault. I haven’t cultivated an audience, I genre-hop under my contemporary romance umbrella, and I haven’t made connections with other romance writers. I don’t have a newsletter or reader group to announce my giveaway to. I could put together the cutest giveaway and no one will care. And that is the danger of emerging authors coming together. As an emerging author, you have to cultivate your own audience before you can market with others.

Another thing the article points out is that not everyone is trustworthy. In the era of scammers both on the publishing and author sides, you have to be careful who you work with. Everyone needs to do their share (time-wise and money-wise) and you have to market with authors who write good books or your book will be labeled terrible by association.

If you want any hope of being asked to collaborate in any way, your book has to be well-written, your cover must be spot on, and your blurb on point or no author will want to work with you.

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What can you do?

As an emerging author, don’t worry about this right now. Work on your own audience. Your loyal fans will be the most important thing to your writing career. Then start slow. Honestly recommend books you like without asking for anything in return. Build your relationship with your readers with trust and integrity. Keep writing and producing good books. All this marketing talk won’t matter if you don’t have good books in your back list and if you’re not producing regularly.

I’m at a place where I’d rather throw some money at ads than network, and that’s only half the problem. I’m an introvert and don’t like talking to people, but I believe that this prediction or some variation will eventually come true – especially since I’m writing romance. There’s huge potential in the romance genre for group projects, and I can’t let myself shy away from meeting people. I could let some really good opportunities pass me by.

This is one of my 2020 goals for myself – be more involved in my romance groups and start a newsletter. Have I done either? I’m researching newsletter aggregators and I have started to post more online. Not enough to help but it’s a start.

I’ve been busy writing books, and I’ll be releasing seven this year. But I do have to meet in the middle and find a balance among writing, marketing, and networking.

How do you feel about this prediction? Are you ready to collaborate with your fellow authors? Let me know, and thanks for reading!


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