Time to read: 6 minutes
I have zero things to write about this week. All I’ve been focused on is getting words down for this trilogy, and as of right now I’m 62k into the second book. I am loving this couple though, and turning that standalone into more books was a good choice.
These are character-driven books, and every once in a while I get a touch of imposter syndrome. Are these books going to be boring? Is there enough going on? But I’ve come to realize that character-driven books are what I write. Probably the only book I’ve ever written where characters are actually moving around on the page is Wherever He Goes, but that’s a road trip novel. There’s not much of a road trip if they aren’t moving and things aren’t happening. I’ve described my books as “quiet”–characters exploring themselves and how they need to overcome their flaws to get what they want. There’s a fine line between a character-driven book that’s “quiet” and a book that drags. I don’t get a lot of feedback before I publish, but I’ve already had some volunteers for this trilogy. I’m going to need them, I think, if only to reassure myself that the books move forward and keep readers interested.
The biggest tip I have for anyone who wants to write a character-driven book, or think they are, is you can’t be repetitious. My books depend a great deal on dialogue, but that means when characters are speaking to each other, new information must be presented at all times or there must be some kind of internal revelation. If your characters are only rehashing what has been spoken of previously, you’re wasting your readers’ time. Always know what you want out of a scene, and if you have characters talking just for the hell of it, usually that’s a sign you don’t know what your characters need, what they want, or how they’ll go about getting it. With every conversation, information must be revealed for the first time and/or a personal discovery must be made because of that information. Most of the time, that’s not difficult, but sometimes, especially in real life, people need to hear something more than once for it to sink in, or they need to hear it from more than one person. That’s not a great thing in a novel and rehashing can slow your pace and bore your reader. Try to make each scene count.
Some people might be a little confused between what a plot-driven novel is and what a character-driven novel is. There are plenty of resources out there if you want to explore, but I like this slide by a presentation Melanie Harlow did a while back.
Surface problems are usually not that important in a character-driven romance novel. It’s the emotional wounds of the characters that keep them apart and are a bitch to overcome. The emotional wounds and the flaws they must overcome is what the 3rd act breakup is all about–if there is one. As you can see, the emotional wounds are what causes the true conflict in a romance novel, and if you don’t have those, everything that keeps your couple apart is superficial and readers won’t be invested in your couple staying together for their happily ever after.
Melanie spoke at the 20booksto50k conference last November, but her talk is incomplete and the audio for what is available is poor. But, I mention it because the slides are available, and they are a goldmine of information if you want to download them. https://drive.google.com/drive/folder… She’s also part of a steamy romance panel, which I haven’t watched yet (hello work/life balance) so I can’t comment on quality, but you can check it out here.
Also, there is an Emotional Wounds thesaurus available, and it’s great for digging and thinking up ideas for how to make your characters miserable. You can check it out here. https://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Wound-Thesaurus-Writers-Psychological/dp/0989772594
My Freebooksy for the first in my trilogy went really well. For the two days it was free, I gave away 3,797 copies. I think people are still confused how this can convert to royalties earned, and I’ve said in the past that a Freebooksy only works well if you’re giving away a first in series. Read-through is where the royalties come in. Also, if you’re in Kindle Select some readers will borrow your book instead of downloading it, and if they do that, you get paid for page reads. You have to weigh the pros on cons of paying to give your book away. It won’t give everyone the return on investment they’re looking for. In my case, between borrows and read-through, I earned back my fee ($120.00) in 4 days and so far have had a ROI of 131%. (ROI = Net income / Cost of investment x 100.) People don’t read right away and my book is sitting on 3,797 Kindles. I can only hope that as the weeks and months go by that people get to my book in their TBR piles and go on to read the other two books in the trilogy.
I admit I dropped the ball and didn’t have Amazon ads running during that time. That will probably turn into a mistake for me as I had nothing propping up that promotion. The only other thing I was doing was running an FB ad to Rescue Me, and I already said last week how that turned out. Right now I’m running an ad to Captivated by Her, but I’m watching it closely as the last time I tried, I didn’t get any sales for the clicks. I ended up pausing the ad. I have it on sale for .99 right now and I used a different graphic to go along with the ad. I’m hoping for a better outcome.
The next big push might be a Freebooksy for Captivated when my next standalone book comes out in May. Though I did want to try Fussy Librarian and Robin Reads as well. It’s hard to believe that I’ll have had 7 books come out in 11 months, but I know some authors can do that all day long for years. I think this pen name is coming along though, and I have no regrets pivoting.
The only thing I have left is what I’m loving right now. I’m excited I signed up for a TikTok class with Jane Friedman and Rebecca Regnier. It’s $25 and the slides (if there are any) and a replay is available if you can’t watch live. TikTok is probably going to be my next step in trying to get the word out there for my books, but I like to explore and learn before jumping in. If you want to sign up, you can do it here. https://www.janefriedman.com/tiktok-basics-for-writers-with-rebecca-regnier/
That’s all I have for this week. Until next time!