Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going Back to Sapphire Falls

Last year, I was beyond excited when best selling romance author Erin Nicholas invited me to release a book in her Sapphire Falls kindle world. The book, released last October, has been well received.

Recently, I got a chance to write another book in this fabulous series, and I didn't hesitate to jump on it. Several authors from the prior releases joined me in adding new books to the collection, making it even more fun.

I'm happy to say that, Going Even Wilder, my second Sapphire Falls kindle world book released today. Like the last book, it's a novella. This one is shorter than the last one, but these are meant to be short books. The longer the books, the higher the price point which can be less appealing to fans.

Going Even Wilder is a follow up to my first Sapphire Falls book, Going for Wilder. In the first book, piano teacher, Jillian Somers, is bound and determined to get her childhood sweetheart, Jackson Wilder, to admit he still has feelings for her. Flash forward eight months to Going Even Wilder. Jack and Jill are back and this time wedding bells are in the air. Or rather they would be if Jackson would just propose to Jillian already. When Jillian decides Jackson's not moving fast enough on the proposal, she takes matters into her own hands and the hilarity ensues.

I had as much fun writing Going Even Wilder as I did Going for Wilder. I can only hope I did justice to the spirit of the amazing world created by Erin Nicholas who is one of my author idols.

With Going Even Wilder, I'm headed back to Sapphire Falls. If you want to join me, the cost of the trip is just $1.99 for the e-book. Hope I see you there!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thanks Teddy Roosevelt!

I'm not just an author. I have a day job. My day job often sends its employees to training seminars in the name of making us better. Yesterday, I went to what amounted to a leadership development training. Naturally, the facilitator had a power point presentation. One of his slides was this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy.

As soon as I read that, I had one of those a-ha moments, but it wasn't related to my day job. It was centered around my writing. I realized just how much I compare myself to other writers.

Every time I shop for e-books, I'm looking at the covers. Sometimes, I'm thinking I love a cover and how much I'd love to have it on one of my books. Other times, I'm happy that my covers are better and I'm grateful to my graphic artist.

The big thing I do when I shop for other books is look at the reviews. When I see a writer with more than twenty reviews, I'm immediately jealous. I wish I had that many reviews. I wonder what the author did, other than write an amazing novel, to encourage readers to leave a review. I start thinking about all the ways I can get more reviews and wondering if I can make it happen.

When I crack open a book and start reading, one of two things always happens. I either find myself rewriting it in my mind as I would have written it if I were the author, or I wish I'd been clever and creative enough to come up with such a stellar book.

Every month, I get a report of my book sales for the prior month. My sales are steady, but there is no way I could support myself on my royalties. I see that report, and I start thinking about my peers. Some of them share what they make on their social media. If a peer makes more than me, I start to wonder why and how I can make more money, aside from writing better or more books.

Whenever I see a book on a best seller list, it pulls one of two reactions from me. If the book is really good, I wish that my writing was on par with the other author so I could also be a best seller. If the book isn't as good as I think a best seller should be, the green-eyed monster rears its head. This is especially true when the other book is full of errors or just plain weird. I always go on a private little rant about how it doesn't make sense that a book about alligator shape shifters can be a best seller, but my contemporary romance about a Marine suffering from PTSD barely registers on the radar.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yesterday, I read this quote and I immediately understood just how true it is. By focusing so much on my fellow writers and trying to live up to them, I'm causing myself undue stress. I would not be surprised if that stress was carrying over to my writing and affecting its quality. I can also say without a shadow of a doubt that comparing myself to my peers often results in me second guessing my talent and ability and wondering if I should just give up. All because I'm so busy wondering what others are doing that I'm not putting my energy where it belongs, on my own writing.

I can't promise I'm going to quit my comparison addiction cold turkey, but I know it's not doing me any good. And I owe that knowledge to Teddy Roosevelt. Well, him and the trainer who introduced me to the quote. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Does Size Really Matter?

Last year, I was invited to participate in a Kindle Worlds release with several other romance writers. Until I received that invitation, I had never heard of Kindle Worlds. It's basically a fan fiction forum. Authors who write in this world are using the characters and settings of the primary author. Considering the person who invited me to participate was Erin Nicholas, one of the best contemporary romance authors ever, I didn't hesitate to say yes.

I have since learned that you don't have to be invited to write a story for these worlds. You can write and submit a story as long as you follow the publishing guidelines.

Several of the authors who were part of last year's Sapphire Falls Kindle World release have decided to do a release in July. With as much fun as I had with the last one, I agreed to be one of these authors, but I have a problem; a big one.

The story has to be a minimum of thirty thousand words to be accepted.

When I write, I don't focus on word or page counts. I just write. Some of my books end up being longer than others. For those shorter novels, I adjust the price accordingly.

Here's the thing with my July Sapphire Falls release. It's a continuation of the story I wrote last year. My story last year topped out at over forty thousand words. This one is just under thirty-one thousand words. While that meets the criteria, I'm concerned.

Thirty-one thousand words will translate to approximately seventy e-book pages, and here's where I'm worried. Is that too short? Do readers want something longer, or is this novella going to be enough? Should I go back in and fluff it up or trust that it's what it should be?

So many questions. As a reader, I don't mind shorter stories, but I want to see it reflected in the price. Nothing irritates me more than a writer offering a twenty-five page story for $2.99 or more. To me, that's the equivalent of a restaurant charging for a glass of water. It should be free, and so should short stories, unless they're part of an anthology.

My inclination is to beef up the story, but I'm resisting. I've already written three drafts and the third one has been fully edited. I think I'm going to trust the story to stand up as is. Let's just hope that size doesn't really matter. Does it? 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Finish What You Started

When I first started writing, all of my stories were stand alone novels. It never occurred to me to write a series. As a reader, I also don't recall reading a lot of serials growing up. I can think of a few, but I'm not going to tell you what they are so you don't realize how old I am!

A few years ago, I took my first young adult novel to Wattpad. Like You Mean It was a stand alone young adult novel about a popular teen who loses his arm in a car accident and has to learn to navigate life and relationships.

It never occurred to me to make the book a series. Not until I took it to Wattpad. As soon as the last chapter was posted, I was inundated with readers' requests for more of those characters. Not quite sure what else to do with Danni and Darren, I decided a spin off story for Darren's brother was in order. That series spawned two more series. Each set of books introduced new characters that readers wanted more of so I responded to the call of the readers as well as my muse.

Now, it's pretty common for books to be part of a series. Most of us not only expect it, we look forward to it. The more books there are, the more emotionally invested in the characters we are. I don't know about you, but every time a new book in a series comes out, I brush up on the story line by rereading all of the preceding books.

I love when books are in a series. You know what I don't love? Actually, I guess there are two things I don't love when it comes to a book series. The first isn't as offensive to me as the second.

First, I can't stand it when a writer starts a series and puts huge gaps in between the release dates of the books. The days of waiting a year for the next book in a series died when Harry Potter finally defeated Voldemort. I'm not saying I want a book a month, though it's nice. I just don't want to wait months and months between the book releases. Not without a good reason. Of course, there is one exception to this. If the book series is long, say ten or twelve books, it may take a couple of years to get from book one to twelve. That's okay, but taking two years to get from book one to book two because the author lost her inspiration? That's just wrong!

The second thing I can't stand, and I mean I hate it with a purple passion, is when a writer starts a series and never freaking finishes it. There are one or two or maybe even three awesome books with more promised only nothing more ever comes. Any number of things can be to blame: the book didn't sell as well as expected so the publisher doesn't want any more of the series, the author loses her inspiration, the author gets a better idea and shoves the original series to the side and so on.

Authors, if you want to work on more than one series at a time, that's okay. As a reader, the more I can get from my favorite authors, the happier I am. I just have one request. If you start a series, and you tell readers it's going to be a series, please, please finish what you started; especially if you ended the last book on a damn cliffhanger.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Thing About Apple

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking me when the last two books in the Kinkaid Brothers series would be available on ibooks. Before I get into that, I have to say that I received this email through the contact form on my website. You know, that form I told you I wasn't so sure I wanted to have on my website. Guess my web designer knew what he was doing after all!

Like I said, a reader emailed me to ask when the novels would be released on ibooks. I was a little surprised by this question. I thought the books were already available in this format. Just to be sure, I logged on to the ibooks website and did a search for them. Sure enough, those last two titles were missing. 

Determined to get to the bottom of the problem, I logged on to the site I use to publish all of my books. Imagine my surprise when I checked the information for my titles and found these last two had been rejected by ibooks, and you're never going to guess why.

At the end of every book I publish, I list the titles of all of my other books. Most authors do. If readers have made it to the end of a book, chances are they liked it. We want to encourage readers to check out the rest of our books. One of the books I have listed there was published last year under an exclusive contract with Amazon. It's a Kindle Worlds novella entitled Going for Wilder. Well, therein lies the problem.

Because I listed Going for Wilder as avaialbe for purchase, ibooks refused to carry my recently published novels. If I remove this title from my list of available books, they will reevaluate placement in their bookstore and likely agree to carry it.

I'm not angry so much as surprised with a touch of amused. That's a pretty petty reason for refusing to carry my newest books, especcially when you consider that Going for Wilder is a $1.99 novella. I seriously doubt making readers aware of its availailbity is going to cost Apple any money, but then what do I know?

No, I'm not going to refuse to make the change. I'm going to revise the available works page at the back of both novels and resubmit. I want all of my readers to have the option of buying my books in the format they're comfortable with, but I learned something about Apple that I didn't know before.

By the way, I have to thank the reader that brought this to my attention and my web designer for the contact form I was so leery of.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Dreaded Contact Form

If you haven’t heard, I recently launched a new website. This is either the third or fourth redesign and each one gets better in my opinion.

With this website, the designer added a feature that I wasn’t so sure about; the contact form. I’m sure you’ve all been to a website and seen one before. It’s a form on the website where you typically enter your name and contact information along with your message, which makes it to whomever manages that mailbox.

As I said, I was leery of doing something like this. One of my earlier websites included a guest book feature. It allowed visitors of the site to enter their comments which were preserved on the site for everyone to see. I’d seen it on other websites and thought it was a fun way to get an idea of what visitors to the site thought. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I hated that feature. Very few people were entering any comments, making me wonder if there was any traffic to the site. I will say the few comments that were entered were positive, but it was still depressing to see. I had my web designer get rid of that option pretty fast.

So, here we are. My new website was being designed. I had a ton of ideas for it. None of which included the dreaded guest book feature. The only thing I wanted was a form that readers could use to join my review team. Anyone who wants to get advanced review copies of my books would complete the form which would make it to my email and then we would get them signed up as part of the review team.

I got that and one other thing I hadn’t asked for. The designer incorporated a generic contact form. Whoever visits the site can fill out their name and other contact information, along with a message. While I wasn’t crazy about this form, I shrugged it off. Even if it doesn’t get used, it’s not hurting anything just sitting there. It’s not like I had plans to use it so any use it gets is a bonus.

You could have knocked me over with a feather last week when I received an email through that contact form. The email was from someone I’d never met before who read my Sapphire Falls Kindle World novella, Going for Wilder. The reader enjoyed the book and was tickled when she read my bio and found out we share a hometown so she reached out to let me know.

I may be a writer, but I can’t come up with proper words to express my happiness. I always love hearing that someone likes my books. It’s even better when that person is a stranger with no emotional investment in my feelings. That person is under no obligation to contact me or compliment me, but she did both, and it was awesome.

Even if I never get another message generated from that contact form, I can still safely say it’s worth having it there. It can stay.

And by the way, if you haven’t checked out my website you really should, especially if you want to receive free copies of my upcoming releases.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

That Book Costs How Much?

I may be a writer, but I'm also an avid reader. I have been since I was a kid. Like most readers, I have several writers that I fan girl all over. I buy all of their books and post my love of them all over social media. I also love discovering new authors.

When it comes to a new author, I take a more conservative approach. Before I buy, I read the reviews of other readers and download the free sample first. I also check the page count of the book. Something I never used to do.

Call me cheap, but if a book is less than one hundred pages, I don't want to pay more than $1.99. I'm always surprised when I glance at the specs of a book and see that a thirty-nine page short story is $4.99. I have to ask myself, what was the author thinking?

To be fair, it's not always the author who determines the price of an e-book. If the author has signed a contract with a publisher, it's the publisher who makes this decision. Being that the publisher is in the business to make money, he's going to price the book high enough to make a profit after shelling out author royalties.

If an author is using a self-publishing press, she may not be able to set the price. Some print on demand companies do allow the author to set the price, but some do not. Some base the price of the book on its length.

I'm sure there are some authors who feel they deserve to be paid a higher amount. It's not so unreasonable if you think about it. When you go to the movies, if you go in the evening, you spend a pretty penny on a two hour movie. Why wouldn't you be willing to spend the equivalent on a book?

I'll be honest. I'm not willing to spend the money unless the free sample really hooks me. And in the interest of fairness, I try to keep the cost of my books in line with their length. I never want to be one of those authors that makes you say; that book costs how much?