Results of my ad with Freebooksy

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

page reads for KU

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

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

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

awesome stats!3

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

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

tower city box set

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

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


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

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

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

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

Happy writing Vania Margene

Indie-publishing chat: 411 with Vania and KT–Author photos

Indie Publishing Chats

Today’s chat we talked about author photos. Lots of people go with the casual photo, even a selfie, on social media, and if that’s the image you want to convey, that’s fine. But when you publish a book AND WANT TO SELL IT, you’re opening a business. I feel like you will be taken more seriously as a business person and an author if you look professional online.

Here’s a sample of author photos: EL James, Jennifer Weiner, Hugh Howey, John Green and Stephen King.


Let’s open the floor to chat. Thanks for listening in!
KT Daxon
Let’s talk about author photo first, what do you think?

Vania Margene Rheault
Author Photo sounds great! My brother in law did mine about a year and a half ago. I guess I need an update.

KT Daxon
Awesome! I have a friend who agreed to take mine. It’s a matter of matching schedules around appointments and kids. I may have to take my own. What should a new writer consider when getting an author photo taken?

Vania Margene Rheault
Well, I guess for me, it’s a question of the kind of presence you want to convey online. Some people go totally professional, some people use a selfie, that looks pretty good, some use a selfie that definitely looks like a selfie, and some don’t us a real photo at all, only an avatar or their logo

KT Daxon
What do you advise against? You mentioned before that obvious selfies are a no-go.

Vania Margene Rheault
I suppose if you want to maintain a level of professionalism, you should find someone to do it for you. If you’re going to query, what kind of picture do you want a potential agent to find? S/He has to work with you. First impressions are important.

KT Daxon
As with everything one does in life is.

Vania Margene Rheault
It’s like people saying they don’t judge books by their cover–yeah they do.

KT Daxon
If I take it myself, I planned to use a tripod and a remote. Ha! So there are ways to not have to pay out or have a friend do it, correct?

Vania Margene Rheault
Sure. I asked my brother in law to do it. He has a decent camera.

KT Daxon
What should the photographer (no matter who it is) think about when taking the photo? Full body? Headshot? Etc?

Vania Margene Rheault 
Well, that’s up to you, but a headshot seems to be the best. You have to think like Twitter, or Facebook, your Amazon Author page and your Goodreads page, they all will have a photo, and sometimes the space isn’t that big. Also, you may want your photo on the back of your book, or in the back matter with the about the author section. Those photos aren’t big either, so you want something that looks good, in a small size.

KT Daxon
Plus, most people don’t want full body photos of themselves. LOL. Do you recommend getting a number of poses to have on hand?

Vania Margene Rheault
Yeah, no thanks. I have a few poses, but I use the same one almost everywhere. It’s important to stay consistent so people online recognize you. You want your readers to be able to find you. I have a few different poses in my media tab on my website though, in case I get famous and a reporter wants to use a different picture. 😛

KT Daxon
Ha! Love it! What about IN the photo? Backgrounds? What should the picture NOT have in the background, etc. I’m not wording this right so hopefully you know what I’m asking.

Vania Margene Rheault
Well, I’ve read to not have a brick wall behind you. And I actually see that a lot. I had my best ones taken in a breezeway at my local library. Natural light is the best! Joanna Penn goes into this a little bit in her How to Market a Book. She advises you to do your hair, put on some makeup, don’t wear a busy print. Outside looks good, if you’re near a tree or something. Or go to a cafe, so you can pose with a coffee mug and maybe a book. But turn the book so you can’t see a title.

KT Daxon
Oooooh, good tips! I would have never thought a brick background would be bad!

Vania Margene Rheault
Yeah. Or a chain-link fence can make you look like you’re in prison.

KT Daxon
I’ll have to check out that book, sounds like it could have excellent tips in it. BTW- you should write your own “How to Publish” book…*wink* just saying. ❤
Hahaha. That’s funny.

Vania Margene Rheault
Thanks. Not sure I want to go into non-fiction right now. Maybe when I have the sales to back up my knowledge. 🙂 I was thinking of doing some kind of planner or journal with my trilogy theme. All the couples had a ton of photos and I could pull quotes from the book.

KT Daxon
That would be awesome! I love that idea.

Vania Margene Rheault
So do you have any ideas for the author who doesn’t want to put their picture out there? That has always kind of mystified me.

KT Daxon
Well, I believe each their own, but it baffles me why an author wouldn’t share with their readers what they look like. This could be a whole other blog post topic but, I think it’s important for a reader to know about the book and the author. Why do you think authors hide behind their words? What are your thoughts on those that do?

Vania Margene Rheault
I actually am not sure. I guess they are concerned about privacy. But what happens if their book takes off? Will they not do signings? Or do interviews? Will they not do face to face meetings with anyone who wants to sell their books? I guess they don’t think that far ahead.

KT Daxon 
Maybe it’s self-doubt? Like, they don’t think they’ll ever make it that big? Could be a great guest post idea for a future blog? I know for myself, I think big with low expectations

Vania Margene Rheault
That’s true. I kind of feel like, if they act like no one is going to read their work, then no one is going to read their work.

KT Daxon
I agree. If they think it’s bad, everyone else will too. That’s why I think it’s important that through the doubt, anxiety, and stress; you stand behind your work and have faith in it.

Vania Margene Rheault
That would be an interesting blog post–find someone who is not willing to put their photo out there. But I only know a handful of people who do that, and they probably wouldn’t talk about it.

KT Daxon
Hmm, tempting to do it myself.

Vania Margene Rheault
Although, on Twitter, there are lots of people do that–I’m just not friendly enough with them to ask.

KT Daxon
See what I can come up with…lol

Vania Margene Rheault
Sounds good! Anything else for our author photo chat? I can’t wait to see yours! Here’s a list of the places it can go– Amazon Author Page, Goodreads, your FB author page, if you have one, your Google + page if you have one, LinkedIn, Twitter, of course. Your website. Even a business card at some point.

KT Daxon
I think that’s it for Author Photo, but thank you for telling me where all it can go. Many of those places you wouldn’t normally think of, especially as the anxiety rises with the publication date nearing.

Vania Margene Rheault
Right. It helps to have a list. There’s a lot you need to know, but on the bright side, when you’re a relative unknown, no one is watching you make mistakes. 🙂

Like usual, our chats bleed off into things not fit for chat, and we started talking about something else. But here are a couple more articles on having an author photo, if you’re on the fence about having one, or even revealing your true you to your fans:

The Relevance of a Professional Author Photo

A Picture Says It All Or Does It? Judging an Author by Their Photo

An Author Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words
Your book jacket photo will follow you for years. What do you wear? How do you look?

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again at our next chat!

Indie Publishing 411: Chat with Vania and KT — How it began

Indie Publishing Chats

First off, Happy New Year! We hope your New Year is full of writing and publishing, and we also hope this chat series will help you in those endeavors during 2018.

This blog series will help us too because let’s face it, we all have issues finding content. We want to be interesting, but helpful. We don’t have to keep repeating topics over and over–there are thousands of bloggers blogging about the same thing. But when I realized that KT and I have a goldmine of relevant information at our fingertips, we decided to dive in.

Let’s follow KT while she edits and publishes Down to Sleep! We’ll dish about indie-publishing news, talk about things you need to think about before you publish, and obstacles that come up in the process.

This is our first chat. Thanks for tuning in!

KT Daxon
I’ll let you take the lead on the chat because I’m clueless. You mentioned going back to the start?

Vania Margene Rheault
Yeah. Let’s go way back.  When did you start Down to Sleep? Can we call it that? Were you still thinking about a title change?

KT Daxon
Nah … I think Down to Sleep is the correct title. Once you read the full story and have suggestions, I’m open to them, but as of now, that’ll be the title. Goes along with the next book’s title too.
When did I start Down to Sleep? Down to Sleep is a product of NaNoWriMo 2013. It’s come so far since that first draft, but yeah. The story idea is 4 years old. Life happened in the middle of rewrites that caused elements to change but it originally was crafted in November 2013.

Vania Margene Rheault
And I feel like I’ve worked on Don’t Run Away forever! I wrote that for a NaNo project in 2015. How did you learn to join Twitter? And what were your goals for joining?

KT Daxon
Well, I think timing will help us both pay off. Having just read Don’t Run Away, I think it was an excellent investment of time. ❤
When you asked me this earlier, about Twitter, I started to sweat. It’s a painful subject as to why I ventured onto Twitter and it involves me leaving Facebook for good. An incident led me to Twitter. Back then, I hadn’t fully engulfed myself in the idea of becoming a full-time writer, so it amazes me to this day how welcoming the writing community has been. It’s as if one day, I woke up and here I am. It sounds unreal but it’s the truth. I discovered hashtags and as the old trope goes, “the rest is history”.
Once I dug myself a cozy spot in the writing community though, I developed goals for my career.
I wanted to write and publish my stories. When I became serious about writing, it was an escape. A way to save myself from myself. I connected with amazing people, both good and bad, and decided I wanted to rebrand myself. I created a pen name, and set out to be a supportive force in the community. I’m still working on that part, but hopefully it’s paying off. I’ve always cared what people think about me, so I figured, be nice … who doesn’t like nice people? Ha!
Stop me or I’ll talk your ear off.
Should I be asking you questions too?

Vania Margene Rheault
That’s interesting because I joined social media thinking I was going to sell books, not join a writing community that would support me but not buy.
(If you want to, sure. As we get deeper into the process it will be easier for me to know what you need help with.)
I was thinking Twitter would be more of a marketing tool. It’s great that I found such a supportive community, like you said, but now I need to focus on finding readers. Thoughts?

KT Daxon
I’ll admit, when I joined Twitter, I too thought it was a platform to sell books. But, as each day passes, I’m realizing that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Not to shine a light on the negative right away, but I’ve noticed a bit of “do this for me,” but not a lot of giveback.
I agree that once you build a platform of support, the next phase is finding your readers. My question is, how do we do that? What’s the best way?
I have many of my followers tell me, “I can’t wait to read your book,” but I can only hope they mean that once my book is actually published.

Vania Margene Rheault
I have ideas on that, that we’ll talk about later. I think the best thing you can do before you worry about any of that is to concentrate on putting out a good book. I was going to ask you about your pen name. What made you decide you needed one? I’ve had a couple comments on my blog post that said I don’t need to worry about one (for my fantasy; I’m a contemporary romance author) but with genre-hopping, I feel like I should have one.

KT Daxon
I wrote a blog post explaining the meaning behind my pen name. I decided I wanted one because I wanted one. My name doesn’t pop on a book cover and I wanted one that did.
James Patterson has written different genres and doesn’t use a pen name. IMO, it’s all a personal choice.
Putting out a good book, or 3 is what I am working on now. Finding readers is pointless if you don’t have anything for them to read, so I agree there.
I researched reasons why people use pen names because I thought it was just to hide your real name because people didn’t want coworkers or family to know they wrote certain genres.  I never understood that though, if I write something, I want people to know it’s me who did it. LOL. I selected a pen name that was still me 100% and pops on a book cover. 🙂


That was a fantastic first chat!

Some of our chats will bleed into other topics, so if you feel like we end a chat rather abruptly, it’s because we’ll be picking up during our next chat where we left off. KT and I will be posting the same chat, with perhaps a few differences in the intro and smoother closings at the end. Look for us Thursday, January 4th, when we discuss editing and betas!

I hope you all learn a little something, and for sure, if you have questions, please let us know, or tweet us at @v_rheault and @thektdaxon!

Other articles on pen names:

Should You Be Using a Pen Name? by Helen Sedwick

Why Using a Pen Name is a Risk that Writers Shouldn’t Take

JK Rowling is right – a pen name is a writer’s best friend

Vania Blog Signature

Competitiveness. Let’s Not Talk About It

The other day, I got into a little spat with a couple people in a Facebook writer’s group. Someone announced that they had just published their book. There were a lot of congratulations, but there was one woman who felt the need to edit this person’s post. Yes, there was a typo in it. But it was clear this person hit the comma on their phone instead of the spacebar. No harm done, right?

The fact that she called him out on it wasn’t really what bugged me–it was the fact that her own post had a typo in it. All this poor guy did was post he’d published a book. That’s all. So why the need to attack him? I usually let this stuff go, but the fact she did it with a typo herself made me jump in.

typos_LI (2)

But like all good catfights, it didn’t end there:

i'm going to hell_LI

Did you notice that the person corrected her typo? I wanted to tell her that correcting her typo didn’t make her comment any less bitchy.  The person correcting my comment was someone different, but I like to think I got the upper hand there, too. Know your grammar before you begin correcting people, or you’ll just look like a fool, and yes, it is damaging to your online presence.

I’m trying to figure out why people need to be so callous. It came to me in the shower (where all good ideas do).

We jump on each other because we’re insecure and jealous. These people probably haven’t published anything, and they felt threatened by this person’s announcement.

Does that make it okay? No of course not, but I think it does point out something no one likes to talk about: competition.

Writers support each other, that’s a given. When we’re writing.

But what about when we’re trying to sell our books, novellas, shorts? What about when we try to market our blog posts?

There are only so many publishers/agents/bookshelf space to go around. Whether we like it or not, we are competing for prime real estate.

So when we feel like people are “ahead of us” in some way, be it a new marketing trick, or what????!!!!!! . . . they just put out another book? It can feel disheartening, and it can make some people, not very nice frustrated.

But you know what? It’s okay to have those feelings. We all feel them. Yes, I support all my writer friends; yes, I want their books to sell.


I want my books to sell, too.

Maybe, maybe you can even admit, you want your books to sell more than you want their books to sell.

You can admit that–in a dark little corner of your soul. It’s okay. It’s natural that if someone is choosing between your book and someone else’s you want that person to choose yours.

But it’s what you do with those feelings that matter.

Don’t: attack people online; in the end, it only makes you look bad
Don’t: not write because you feel it’s hopeless
Don’t: stop supporting your friends because they make you feel inferior with their progress or sales

Do: turn those feelings into productivity and work harder
Do: trudge through those feelings and support your friends anyway (Jennifer Probst has a wonderful section on this in her book Write Naked which you can find here.)
Do: keep those feelings to yourself, or confide in someone you trust who won’t turn on you or blab behind your back.

The guy who was put down in that thread PM’d me to thank me for sticking up for him. I have been known to stick my nose in a few places where it doesn’t belong because I’ve been on social media long enough I don’t give a f*ck what people think of me. If I see nastiness, for the most part, I’ll call you out. There’s no need for it. We all have one goal: for people to read our work. Being nasty online is counterproductive to that. You can bet I’ll remember those two women, and if they ever publish anything I’ll look the other way.

Speaking of memory, I remember Rebecca Thorne posted a little something about this during her experience at the Dallas Writer’s Conference in 2016. Must have stuck with me to remember a blog post from over a year ago, and you can read it here.

After I defended my use of and at the beginning of a sentence, I left that group. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life–and I certainly don’t need to waste my valuable time defending idiots who just won’t get it anyway.

You can be supportive and still want to do well for yourself.

And for those other two, karma’s a bitch, baby.



Let me know what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

PitchWars: Should You Enter?

PitchWars is an annual writing contest where writers all over the world compete for the chance to be mentored by traditionally published authors. If you have a completed novel, you can enter. While mentors comb through entries, everyone involved in the contest spends about a month on Twitter making friends, talking about writing, and sharing their favorite GIFs.

Once picks are announced, mentors and mentees work together for two months on the mentee’s novel. After that, there’s an agent round where roughly fifty agents will read the entries and make requests for manuscripts that spark their interest.

Photo 1

Right? It’s an amazing opportunity to network and get your foot in the door with traditional publishing. The question is, should you enter?

Yes, I think every unpublished writer who wants to go traditional should try it once. I entered this past August and didn’t get a spot, but thought it was a very valuable experience. However, please save yourself some heartache and assume you will not win a spot. Getting into PitchWars is no easier than getting an agent from cold querying.

So why should you bother? As with everything in this bizarre universe of ours, it has its pluses and minuses.


Seriously, the Odds Are Not in Your Favor

Ignoring duplicate entries, over 2800 people entered PitchWars in 2017. There were 180 spots. That’s a 0.6% acceptance rate. For context, Yale Fucking Law School has a 9.7% acceptance rate.

But let’s say you’re lucky enough to get in. As of July, PitchWars has almost 250 success stories. This means ~250 people have gotten agents out of the 385 mentees selected between 2013 and 2016. Don’t get me wrong, a 65% chance of getting an agent is HUGE, especially compared to the 1% cold query success rate rumor I keep hearing about. But it’s far from a guarantee.

Am I trying to shit on PitchWars? Absolutely not. But you need to go into this with wide-open eyes. You should have faith in yourself as a writer and your journey; your book will find a home (whether it’s with trad pub, self-pub, or small press). But it probably won’t be through PitchWars. PW is not a golden shortcut ticket to unlock the Gates of Traditional Publishing.

The Secret to Getting Picked Is a Goddamn Mystery

Photo 2

In addition to the numbers working against you, there is no real way to know why your manuscript does or doesn’t get picked. Some mentors give feedback, but most do not. Your book has to fit into a specific and subjective set of standards, which include…

  1. It has to be good. Good voice, solid plot, interesting characters, quality writing, etc. are essential.
  1. But it can’t be too good. *facepalm* I know. But if you’re going to work with a mentor for two months, they need to have a vision for what they can do to help you improve the book. Contest rules say to submit a “complete and polished” manuscript, but I would read this more as “complete and copyedited.” Your lump of clay needs to be good, but it still needs to be a lump of clay.
  1. It has to mesh with the mentor’s tastes. Before you submit your application, mentors will post wish lists about what kinds of stories they’re looking for, which is helpful, but look at their backlist too. Does anything about their work resonate with you? Their voice? Their subgenre? The tropes they use?
  1. But it can’t be too similar to the mentor’s body of work. If the mentor has a series about a talking squirrel who solves mysteries with a cynical school janitor, they probably won’t feel comfortable working with you on a book about a talking chipmunk who solves mysteries with a grumpy hotel maid.
  1. It has to be marketable. Mentors are more lenient about this than agents are, but it still has to be clear where your book will fit in the market.
  1. The mentor has to believe you can work together. Mentorship isn’t just about quality and marketability. It’s an interpersonal issue, too. Some mentors will stalk you on Twitter to see if you’ll be a good fit.
  1. Weird miscellaneous factors can decide your fate. Maybe your protagonist has the same name as their favorite niece. Maybe your book takes place in their hometown—which they HATE. As they always say, this business is subjective. Considering some mentors have hundreds of entries to wade through, it could be literally anything that puts your book in the “Yes” pile.

Not surprisingly, aside from #2, the reasons a mentor will accept or reject your work are similar to why an agent will or won’t request more pages. Once again, PW is not simpler or easier than cold querying an agent.

Social Media Is Hell

What makes PW such an event is the social media component of it on Twitter, but to be honest, I have conflicting feelings about that aspect. In the weeks leading up to the submission window opening, there are all kinds of Twitter games, encouraging you to get to know mentors and other PW hopefuls. Once the submission window closes, the Twitter party continues for another month…but it gets more intense.

The entire purpose of the PW Twitter community is for everyone to get worked into a literal frenzy. They want you to be excited and proud of your work, which is a nice thought, but it also sets up unrealistic expectations. Many mentors post teasers about entries they’re enjoying— there’s an entire hashtag for them. There are also endless posts telling you to stay positive because there’s always a chance you could win a spot. It was an exhausting rollercoaster.

At least with agents, you know to pray for the best but expect the worst. Cold querying is beautiful in its simplicity. I send out my package, note the expected response dates in a spreadsheet, and walk away. If I follow agents I’ve subbed to on social media, I don’t have to worry their posts will be hints about submissions they’re reading. Some agents do #tenqueries, but those posts include specific reasons for passing on or requesting more pages of a project. They don’t post cryptic messages about something they might pick.

So if you do enter PW, protect your space. Like all social media, PW Twitter can become too much. Don’t be afraid to block hashtags, mute certain accounts, or take a break.

Advantages – Why You Should Enter Anyway


Photo 3

I know, I raised a lot of issues with the contest, but I still think it’s worthwhile to enter at least once. Whether you’re new to the querying trenches or are a seasoned pro, PW has something to offer.

 If You Do Get Picked, It’s a Great Opportunity

It doesn’t hurt to buy a lottery ticket—just don’t gamble away all your money. Go in with low expectations, but if you do have the fortune of getting selected, the mentorship alone is an amazing opportunity. Not only are you getting free, in-depth help from a professional writer, but you’re also forming a connection with them. I often hear about mentors who still talk to and help their former mentees with their writing. Like with any other industry, you need connections to thrive. Mentorships are invaluable.

As I said earlier, the agent round may or may not yield fruit, but it does boost your chances.

You’ll Make New Friends and Expand Your Twitter Presence

While I wasn’t a fan of certain aspects of the PW hashtag, overall, I did enjoy the sense of camaraderie among entrants and mentors. If you participate in any of the games (e.g., GIF competitions) or interact with the hashtag, you’re bound to connect with other PW hopefuls. Some of these people will become followers, critique partners, and even friends. For some writers, PW has become as much a valued tradition as NaNoWriMo because of the unique community.

PitchWars is also a good excuse to post content and build your brand. Twitter is the most popular social media platform for us writer types, so if you’re looking to network, it’s the place to be. Many unpublished writers are using their growing platforms to build hype around their manuscripts by showing off novel aesthetics, character interviews, and memorable quotes. Taking advantage of the PW hashtag can help you with that.

You’ll Discover New Authors

Since mentors are wading through their slush piles for free, it’s nice to give back by reading their books. There are over a hundred PW mentors, so there is plenty of new content to discover. You might find your next favorite book or a new comp title to use in your query letter.

It’s Good Practice for Rejection

If you haven’t queried agents or publishers before…Welcome! PitchWars is a great way to rip off that first Band-Aid of rejection because there’s going to be tons of it, regardless of how you publish. Agents will reject you, publishers will rebuff you, and readers will scorn you. Get in the practice now with PitchWars. Rejections from faceless agents are way easier to digest after getting rejections from friendly mentors you bonded with.

It’s a Kick in the Pants

Most people don’t enter PitchWars because they simply happened to have a polished manuscript lying around. They prepare. Whether they just found out about PitchWars existed three weeks before the deadline or they’re a third-year PitchWars veteran, PW hopefuls haul ass. If you’re looking for motivation, the contest is a great stimulus for finishing your book and writing a query letter. Even if you don’t get a spot, you’re still way ahead of where you were before.

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PitchWars will re-open in August 2018, but you can read this year’s winning entries here:

nadia's logoNadia Diament writes sexy, funny things. You can ask her esoteric questions on Twitter here, check out her blog here, and read her stories here.


Why I Canceled my Twitter Chat

Last night I canceled my chat.


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

Let me explain.

There are a lot of chats out there.

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

I chose the wrong hashtag.

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

I was going broke.

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

I have a publishing schedule I want to keep.

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

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

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

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

Tell me what you think!

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Five Reasons Why I’m Not Marketing My Books Right Now

As always in conversations about self-publishing, the subject of marketing your book comes up. I hosted a Twitter chat last week on Self-Publishing, and people wanted to talk more about marketing than anything else.


I get this. I mean, we all want people to find our books; we write so people can read our work. But when people ask me what my plans are for marketing my books, I have to tell them, I have no immediate plans.

And here’s why.

  1. I don’t have enough content.
    You don’t need a marketing plan if you have no content. (Good grammar for a writer, huh?) Various numbers come up, but I follow @BadRedheadMedia‘s #bookmarketingchat on Twitter, and in one of her tweets, she said your career doesn’t start an upswing unless you have 6 to 10 books published. That seems like an impossibly high number, and when I first started in self-publishing, that number was 3 to 5. But with all the new writers publishing books, it’s harder and harder to make a name for yourself, and I believe that number will get higher as the market floods even more.
  2. I don’t want to throw money at one or two books.
    This kind of goes hand in hand with number one. I do have content, but not enough to warrant paying for any kind of marketing. Even if you were to stumble upon a plan that works and drew people to your book, after you draw those readers in, they’re done. They have no backlist to read through if they like your work. I’m too poor to start over every time I publish a new book. When you spend on an ad to market one book, you’re actually advertising your whole list.
  3. I genre-hopped.
    I wrote a Romantic Fantasy for my first go at publishing. I wrote it expressly to experiment with publishing, to get a feel for the process. On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton is two different novellas of the same story, one told from my male main character’s point of view, and one told from my main female character’s point of view. Summer Secrets is six novellas. The story is about six couples told in chronological order, and I published them together so readers would be forced to read them that way. These are Erotica and not my genre of choice. Since I’ve published those, I’ve settled into Contemporary Romance, full-length novels at that, and I don’t want to spend money on books that are not in my genre. When I market my books, I’ll market books that will be the foundation of my writing career. There is no point in marketing books in a genre I won’t write anymore.
  4. I’m researching how I want to market my book.
    I’m reading books right now on how to run Amazon ads, how to run successful Facebook Ads. I read a book on how to use Goodreads as an author. Marketing takes time and money—I don’t want to try these vendors without knowing what I’m doing. I talk to people who have tried various things and they say they don’t work, but they didn’t take the time to figure out how they work so they don’t waste money. It’s important to know what CPC (cost per click) is, what RT (not retweet, you tweeters) Read-Through means, and how to calculate ROI (Return on Investment, not a weird spelling of your sister’s boyfriend’s name). Knowing this stuff puts you ahead of the game, so you’re not wasting money on tactics that won’t work. Here’s a tip: If a person put together a class, say Mark Dawson and his Facebook Ads class, then that way of advertising is complicated and investing a few hours of your time to learn how it works and maybe learn some insider tips can only help you.
  5. I’m networking.
    Yes, networking is a part of marketing. When you hear that you should start networking a year before your book comes out, that’s not a lie. Some suggest even longer. You need to get to know book bloggers—be a blip on their radar as an acquaintance, even a friend, before you have a book to peddle. There is nothing more irritating than having someone introduce themselves to you for the sole reason to ask something of you. Follow them on Twitter, like their FB page. Wish them a nice day, or a great weekend. Listen to podcasts by successful indie authors, like their FB pages, follow them on Twitter, read their books. Become involved in the indie-publishing community. Everyone knows everyone in this business, and you want everyone to know you. I listen to The Sell More Books Show podcast, and Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen host. Bryan Cohen wrote a book, How to Write Sizzling Synopsis, which I bought to support him since I love the podcast. It’s a wonderful book, and I’ve written Don’t Run Away’s blurb with his tips. It took me 15 minutes. It was fabulous. One day I was listening to their podcast, and they had a guest, Michael Cooper. Coincidentally, I was reading his book about Facebook Ads, because someone in Brian D. Meeks’ Amazon Ads Facebook Group recommended it. I’m in his group because I read his Amazon Ads book, and he runs a Facebook group for his readers who want help with their ads. Funnily enough, it wasn’t that long ago he did a guest spot on Joanna Penn’s podcast, to talk about his book. Everyone knows everyone. I’m not suggesting you get to know people just to use them. But if you get to know them, even peripherally, (I tweet and blog about their books all the time; well I tweet and blog about any books I like all the time) then maybe one day when you cross paths, they’ll already have heard of you and will be more willing to help you out, by say, inviting you to be a guest on their podcast. Networking, letting relationships grow naturally, organically, takes a lot of time. Start before you’re desperate for publicity.

Those are my five reasons I’m not marketing right now. I’m writing books to have a decent backlist before I throw money at anything. When readers find me, I want them to ask, “Where has she been all my life?” not, “Oh. She only has one book out?” I’m learning how to market, where best to put money so I don’t waste it. As I do that, I’m getting to know the heavy-hitters in the indie publishing world. Even if you’re not so keen on getting to know them, you can at least study what they do in their careers, what makes them successful, so you can duplicate it.

How long will I “prepare” before I actually punch in my credit card number, or submit my book to a blogger?

It depends on how fast I can write.

Check with me next year.

I Googled “How many books does it take for an indie author to start their careers in 2017?” While I didn’t get a straight up answer, the Google spit out some interesting articles that you can read here and here.

Tell me what you think!

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