You might be thinking that the subject of this blog post is a bit odd for me. Well, truth be told, it is. I had a family friend over the weekend after discovering that I wrote romance novels begin to question me. Why do you write romance? Do you write about your real relationship with your husband? Does your husband know you write smut? Do you want to be whipped or hit with a crop? She seemed to have a dozen questions that only came with the same response from her.
"So, you write explicit romance because you're unhappy in your marriage."
Just hold on a hot second. Never in any of my answers did I say I write romance because I am unhappy in my marriage. On the contrary, my husband and I have a very happy and fulfilling marriage, but that's honestly none of her business. It really shocked me, to say the least, that she would automatically assume it was my marriage that made me interested in romance novels. Why couldn't it be because I love a good love story or enjoy the journey of two broken people finding love again? It honestly just didn't make sense to me that she would be so offended at my choice in genre.
Fast forward two days later, I am still mulling over her assumptions. When did it become taboo to write or even read romance? Does everyone outside of the romance reader world automatically assume that every romance book is like Fifty Shades of Grey? Because I'd like to stop right here and debunk that assumption. Romance comes in all shapes and sizes from innocent, first loves to paranormal shifters in the midst of a clan war. Romance isn't just about graphic sex or BDSM, but the bringing together two people. If I sat down and counted all the genres of romance that I could think of, I'd have to borrow fingers from several more people. The romance genre is by far one of the widest range of reading genres out there. You can be whisked away in a dsyoptian world where loving someone outside of your clan isn't permitted or be seated on the back of some dirty talking bikers ride cruising down the highway. It's not just sex, but so many other emotions evolving into a passionate and caring relationship with one person. Well, sometimes more than one person if you like menage books, but again, there's a genre for everyone's tastes.
What about movies? Is it taboo to watch romance stories unfold on the big screen? How many of you binge watch television shows or movies to follow the romance story line? It's no different than reading about it in a book. The romance and the sex are all still there, but instead of reading it, you are watching being portrayed by actors in motion. It seems to me that romance is all around us in this world, but only romance novels seem to be targeted by naysayers. Which brings me back to the my original point.
When did reading romance novels become so taboo? Are we as people expected to forego reliving the feelings of falling in love all over again with fictional characters because we are romantically involved in real life? Why is reading about true love such a bad thing when our world is filled with cheating and deceitful vows? I don't know how many times this year I have seen family and friends who have been married for 15+ years divorce because their marriages went stale or their spouse cheated. We were put in this world for one sole purpose, to love. Reading romance inspires me to think outside of the box to keep my marriage alive. Every fictional couple makes my heart swell and reminds me why I feel the way I do about my husband. Sure, the settings and plots are far from my real life situation, but the emotions are all the same. While I'm not saying reading the dirty romance novels that I love so much is keeping my marriage a live, it certainly isn't hurting it.
I challenge those naysayers to try reading a romance novel and to see what I mean about the emotional connection flowing from the fictional characters into your real life. Love surrounds us all, and honestly, in a world where innocent people are murdered on a daily basis, I think we all need a little more love in our lives. Give it a try, and if you don't like it, I'll be happy enough knowing your tried.
COVID-19 is almost a dirty word at my house two weeks into the stay at home orders begin rolling out across the United States. It's been two weeks of alternative work schedules, my husband going from two jobs to none, and the madness churned to life outside at every single grocery store. Chaos incarnate has descended upon our entire country, and planet. We're fighting for our lives, to protect our families, and over all things... toilet paper because we've been tossed in a world full of fear and uncertainty as the positive case numbers been to skyrocket around us. Even going outside for essential goods and services seems a daunting task because there are some out there who are living like everything is normal, but it's not.
This experience was jarring at first, but we are coping. Just like everyone else. As 80s babies, we've never experienced being told by the government that we couldn't leave our homes aside from the occasional winter storm shutting the state down. Yet, here we are with no sports, no forms of the usual entertainment, everyone is wearing masks and gloves, and even a simple cough from someone standing behind you in the checkout line is enough to send shock waves of panic to anyone nearby. We are living in a medical war zone now. The normal rules no longer apply.
Hospitals are overrun with cases, low on essential supplies, and are forced to watch this disease steal lives away from otherwise healthy people. Laboratories are begging for test kits and able bodied workings to process them. The shelves at your local grocery store are bare because people are panic buying months of supplies. The elderly are shuttered inside of their homes from the outside and terrified to step outside for fear of contracting the virus.
We live in a state of perpetual fear now.
I am considered essential at my laboratory, and continue to work, but I do my best to spend as much time as I can working from home when able. At first, I was frustrated with that designation because I fall into the highest risk category being immune-compromised. How dare my company insist that I need to work? That feeling only lasted a day as I saw millions of Americans, friends, and family begin to be laid off without pay left and right. It's a blessing that I can still work, and that my company has stepped up to the plate to help collect and process COVID-19 tests over the last weeks. But, not everyone is so lucky.
My husband is the prime example. Both the school and the church are closed indefinitely, and while both have pledged to keep paying him from the time being, the threat of the loss of such a large chunk of our income is still out there the longer this goes on to the point he started working for a local grocery store last week to make sure we still have something coming in. But in doing so, he's has to distance himself to protect me from anything he might have been exposed to on the job. He's had to give up going to see our two new godsons born this week to protect them. People like my husband are sacrificing their entire lives to protect those they love because it's the only thing he can do in times like this.
For others, it's not such a heartwarming story. There are so many families out there that have gone from income to nothing in just a blink of an eye. They are terrified about how to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. The agencies that can provide such help are now overwhelmed with the number of calls coming in begging for relief, and help is hard to find with other agencies like churches now shuttered. Our world is crumbling around us, and these people need the most help.
Despite all of the negative, I have to hope that once the threat dissipates that our world will be forever changed in a positive way. That we as a country, and as a planet, can use the lessons we have learned to help future generations avoid such chaos. It is the idea that maybe we as a nation can stand together in support, after social distancing ends of course, and turn this train wreck around to reunite like we once did after 9/11 and the previous wars. Is it a pipe dream? Probably, but in a world of such uncertain times, hope is all that we can cling to until the world rights itself once again.
This week’s topic stems from a situation I found myself in recent months with a new author who’d asked me to read over their book before it published. I want to start off by saying that I do not even remotely consider myself an expert in the field of book publishing, but I have learned a lot within the last few years.
I’ll admit that I couldn’t finish the book because I was so distracted by the lack of editing and the choppy flow within the first 20% of the story. The book was desperately in need of a good editor and a good group of beta readers. Publishing your debut is very exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time, but there are some things you need to make sure that you’ve done before you click publish. Your debut will give your readers the first impression of your writing style and story-telling ability and in some cases could make or break you.
First impressions, in my opinion, are the most critical step to publishing more books. If your book is poorly edited, the time line is all wonky, and especially if your sentence structure hinders the flow, you may find yourself in hot water with your potential readers. Readers, especially those who are critical of grammar, may blast your book and place you on the never read again list based off of just one book. I think by following the things I have listed below that you can make your debut release as best as it can be.
1. Don’t rush your book.
Take your time writing your book and self-editing. You need to make sure that you have clearly led your characters where they want to do and not overly detailed the book. When you rush, you make mistakes like calling your character by two different names or switching the ages on characters mid-way through the book. Just take your time and write from your heart.
2. Don’t skimp on the editing
Most new authors have a very small or non-existent budget for their first book. But, editing should be your biggest expensive in writing. Just like point #1, if you rush and skimp on the editing, the readers will notice and your reviews will not be glowing. If you don’t rush on your release, you will have the time to save up for a good editor. I’d also advise trying to find beta readers who can pinpoint troublesome areas and help your story flow better. A secondary don’t for this topic is don’t let your friends edit unless they can be unbiased and brutal. You need those kind of readers to make sure your book is up to snuff. Grammar dictator friends are nice when you’re an author, but only if they tell you the truth about your book. Protecting your friendship and feelings is hard if you use a friend in this capacity, but honesty is truly the best policy.
3. Don’t ignore bad reviews.
Embrace the feedback. This is problem the hardest part of publishing after writing and editing. If you have thin skin and are easily hurt with negative words, I’m just going to come out and say that you may not be cut out for writing. You will get negative reviews and for some of those Goodreads reviewers, they will be demeaning and hurtful. But, it is what those reviewers say that should take precedence in writing your next book. If they talk about your editing, character development, overuse of certain words, or even timeline issues, you need to take those to heart when plotting your next book. If you see reviews like that from betas or ARC readers, you might consider pushing back your release to make sure you can make the necessary changes. Granted, of course, that you didn’t set-up a pre-order on Amazon. They may say out with the bad and in with the good for everyday life, but in book world, it’s completely the opposite. Embrace the bad and create the good.
1. Run your book through multiple betas and proofreaders
This! A hundred times, this! Every single person reads a book differently and notices different things. By finding a great group of beat readers and two good proofreaders on top of your editor will go a long way. I often run the unedited manuscript through my beta readers before sending it to my editor and even some times during the editing process. Before I send my final read through back, I always run it through one of my proofreaders and the other when I get the final copy back to make sure we caught everything. Having just one person fill every one of those rolls will lead to mistakes because you will honestly go blind to spotting errors after the second or third read-through. Every big time author has a team behind them and big or small, you need one of your own to make sure your book is as perfect as it can get.
2. Scour your timelines, ages, and names before publishing
I don’t know how many indie titles that I have read this year where this was a problem. A character would start off being in his mid-twenties only to jump to his early thirties within three or four chapters. Every time I start to write, especially when the book is in a series, I make out a timeline chart of character’s ages, the birth of their child, ages of their family members. Having this readily at my disposal makes the writing and plotting process easier for a new book. I also keep all of the old timeline charts and character profiles so that I do not have to spend weeks on end trying to re-work the previous books to get that information. I’d also suggest having a list of characters names so if you decide to bring side characters for a short time that you don’t end up with two or three Bob’s or Betty’s in the same series.
3. Research the market and pick a good release date
You’re probably wondering why I said good release date. There’s a reason I wrote it that way and it might shock you. Indie authors, especially new authors, need to research their genre market when picking a release date. Say you wrote a MC romance novel and you decide to publish is on a Tuesday in July. Chances are you book will not be seen because July is a big MC Romance release month because of the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Most MC authors will do a big release in July because of the rally. Tuesdays are also bad because every traditional published author releases their books on Tuesdays. Don’t believe me? Watch some of the big time blogs on a Tuesday and you will see what I mean.
As a debut author, you have to be smart about your release day. Other than Tuesdays, you need to avoid major holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Not only will your pool of readers be smaller than normal for impulse purchases, but bloggers will be away with their families. By publishing on a holiday, you will lower the likelihood of your book being seen or promoted by a wide margin. Market Smarter, and you’ll sell more books.
This week's blog post will be all about how to promote your book! Promotion is key when you are trying to establish your foothold within your genre. I won't lie and say this is easy. Honestly, it is just about as hard or maybe even harder than actually writing your book. Successful promotion is how you get your book and your name out there to drum up sales and meet fans. Without promotion, your book sales are likely to stay low because just being on Amazon or Barnes and Noble will not get your book seen. In fact, Amazon will not promote your book until you have a minimum of 50 reviews! That seems daunting, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be, and the following points are why.
1. Promotion Begins Before Publication Day
I know, I know. You are thinking, "Avelyn, how do you promote a book if it's not released yet?" The answer to that question is simple and might surprise you. New authors who spend 6 months to a year promoting their book and creating their brand have a much higher success rate than authors who pop up out of nowhere and release a book. Promotion takes time and a lot of effort to be successful. Share your teasers in groups. Find a support group for authors on social media sites like Facebook and start building relationships with other authors. Do not understand the power of word of mouth and sharing on Facebook and twitter.
One big thing with promotion on social media that you need to watch out for is flooding the same group with the same stuff. Make a list of groups where you notice your promotions being liked, seen, or even shared and rotate the days you share. Also, having several images or graphics to use with your pre-order links or links to your author page keeps your promotion fresh and draws in new people. Please make sure the groups you are choosing to share don't have a "no promo or pimping" policy or you might end up being banned.
2. Don't Limit Yourself to Just Facebook
Using more than Facebook? Am I crazy? Yes. Yes, I am. With the new rules of Facebook, you are more likely to not be seen, blocked, or even banned than you are being seen. The algorithms of Facebook are now blocking pages and the ever-growing numbers of Facebook police reporters will kill you unless you expand your horizons. You would honestly be surprised by the sheer number of fans you can garner from sharing funny book nerd related memes on Instagram with your teasers and snippets or sharing funny book things on Pinterest. Just because they aren't as big as Facebook doesn't mean they can't be useful.
3. Goodreads or Badreads?
Ah, Goodreads. The book review website where swearing and vulgarity are legal and where critical reviewers lurk. Once a simple book nerd website with books and groups, Goodreads has turned into the hotbed of negativity when it comes to book reviewing. I would need several friends to join in if I counted on my hands of how many times a Goodreads reviewer made me cry. They are known to be brutal and you need to know that going in. HOWEVER, it is also a great place to meet readers and advertise your books. I highly recommend checking out book especially the monthly group readers. You may not find a winner every time you join a group, but there are some out there. Look for a group with rules, and several different topics for posting. Those are all good signs of being one of the good groups
Hopefully after reading this, you will feel more comfortable about promoting your books. Promotion is hard and a necessary evil in this business. If you skip it, you'll likely have a less than successful release.
I just I read an article this past weekend that was generating negative buzz on social media. After seeing it more than a dozen times in a single scroll on my Facebook timeline, I clicked it. I knew from the title, "Kennett Library Hosts 3rd Annual Bad Romance Event,” that I was not going to agree with it, but I couldn't stop myself from finding out just what the fuss was about. The more I read, the angrier I became. If you haven’t read it, let me summarize it for you. The long and short of it is that the Kennett Library and its staff host an event to read aloud from what they have deemed as bad romance novels to the audience as a fundraiser for their library. No, that wasn’t a typo. A fundraiser that mocks the publishing industries highest grossing genre hosted by a library. An institution that sole purposes is to promote literature. It almost doesn't seem real, but this misogynistic take of such a "fun event" is very much real.
Kennett Library's use of "bad romance" to raise funds is a slap in the face of all romance authors, and a continuation of the age old stereotypes that romance novels are trashy. The only trashy thing I see about the article is the author's now revised reference that romance novels are "the discount bin of literature." It seems to be a long-standing tradition to ridicule romance when you don’t enjoy reading or writing it. You’d think being the industry profit leading that it would stave off some of the naysayers. Sadly, it doesn’t. If you didn't know, romance was number one at $1.44 billion in revenue. Second place was the crime and mystery genres at $728.2 million. You might be asking yourself the same question I did when I looked up the numbers. If romance is so profitable and popular as a genre, why do we romance authors constantly get dragged through the mud as smut peddlers and mommy porn enthusiasts? It's simple. Romance is written for women by women, predominantly. Yet, gender is only one factor to the romance stereotypical equation. Diversity, ethnicity, and even the method of publication all play a part.
With the age of e-books came a rise in both reading and self-publishing. Before, an author had to hope and pray that a publisher would read their query and publish their novel. Now, authors have a choice. Many romance authors who you see on the shelves at your local bookstores are either self-published or hybrid, meaning they traditionally and self-publish books. Before the e-book boom, all of those books would have been traditionally published authors. All. Of. Them.
Now, self-published novels are growing every single day, but so is the sterotype that those types of books are poorly-written stories by people who have no business writing a book. Oh yeah, I've seen and have on the rare occasion even in the presence of a traditionally published author degrading indie authors at a large event when I first starting publishing. I'm not saying that all self-published books are perfect because they aren't, but they are bad traditionally published books, too. Not every book is a winner. That's for the reader to decide on their own. It's not a peer review of an entire publication method by someone who has never self-published a day in their life.
So, it begs the question as to why Kennett Library is hosting their “Bad Romance” event. Why are they mocking not only an entire genre, but their library patrons as well to raise funds? The event is a continuation of the age old stereotypes that romance novels are trashy. An idea that is not only absurd, but degrading. Then again, when author of the article calls romance the “discount bin of literature” that has since been revised, I guess I should really be surprised.
As libraries are publicly funded insinuations, it makes me wonder just how many patrons will be coming to your new facility that was partially funded by ridiculing authors. Frankly for an organization that should pride itself on promoting literacy, Kennett Library has instead promoted exclusion, despite the mission statement from their own website stating they support inclusion.
No one, reader or writer, should be shamed for liking romance novels. We deserve respect. You may not like us, but we aren’t going anywhere.
From two bestselling authors comes the story of two people who should have never fallen in love and the dangers that lurk around them.
Blair’s life isn’t perfect, but she has a plan. Find a new roommate, finish school and finally start the future she’s been working so hard for.
And then he knocks on her door. One unwanted visitor is all it took to crush her reality and leave her living in fear. But at least she’s living, thanks to the help of a good Samaritan.
A very sexy, tattooed and motorcycle-riding man with a dog that looks as savage as he is sweet. GreenPeace saves her. He makes her feel safe. He makes her feel a lot of things she’s never felt before.
But, the danger’s not over. Her attacker is still there, lurking in the shadows and waiting to strike again. GreenPeace will put his life and his club on the line to save the captivating woman that’s stolen his heart. But even that might not be enough.
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Happy February, Everyone!
I am so excited for February to finally be here, and for a very important reason. No, not Valentine's Day, but the reveal of my new co-written series with Geri Glenn. We've been talking about doing a co-write for a long time, and now that we can finally shout it out to the world, it just feels amazing. After struggling so much last year with my personal life and writing, the words are finally flowing. Not only am I working on Dark Protector with Geri, but I am also working on BOTH Demons and Desires and Devil's Queen. So exciting, right? I made y'all a promise last month about new book in 2020, and I'm dead set on keeping it. 2020 is going to be a big year of new books. Buckle up because it's going to be one hell of a ride.
On a lighter note, I will be bringing back the NCAA bracket challenge in March. This year's prize is AH-mazing. The best part is that you don't have to be a basketball fan to participate. I'll have more details on that in my reader group once the brackets open towards the end of February. I'll also have some other fun things popping up in my group over the next couple of month's so if you aren't a member, now is the time to join!
You can use the link above in the header or by clicking here.
Better get back to writing!
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Happy January, Everyone!
It doesn't seem possible that another decade is upon us. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun, and if how fast 2019 went by is any indication, 2020 is about to get crazy.
And, what better way to kick off 2020 than with a new book announcement. Not only a new book, but a new series, and an amazing co-write with one of my favorite people on the planet. Geri Glenn. We've kept this secret under wraps for a few months now, but we are so excited to finally make the announcement now that we have a GORGEOUS cover ready to go. The debut title in our new series is hot, hot, hot, and we can't wait until release day. Stay tuned for more information about this series.
I am also working on both Demons & Desires and Devil's Queen. No definitive release date just yet, but I will be announcing them as soon as I send them off for editing.
On top of that, I do have a few other books up my sleeves that might just be coming this year as well. New series. New genre! All kinds of good things coming.
2020 is my year, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.
See you next month!
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May 2020 marks my fifth anniversary as a published author, and honestly, it seems that it was just yesterday that I published Damaged. My very first book. My HORRIBLY written first book. One that isn't available anymore because.. yeah, that horrible part I just mentioned up there. The story was my first escape from mourning my father's loss. One that I wrote in three weeks without a clue about how hard writing really is as a second career. It's easy to write a book and hit publish these days. It's even harder to watch your book get torn to shreds because you just didn't know or even understand the dynamics of your reader base. Which brings me to this month's topic. 10 things that I wish I had known before I published my first book. This comprehensive list is something I've been thinking about writing for awhile. Not only for myself as a reminder of how far I've come as an author, but to maybe those of you reading this that are struggling or even thinking about writing that first book.
1. Write For Yourself
I think this was the absolute hardest lesson that I had to learn after publishing. Everyone has an opinion. Good, bad, and the indifferent. Some like cliffhangers. Some don't. Others like the taboo. Others want that Happily Ever After like there's no tomorrow. Every reader is different, and you can't please everyone. Read that last part again. You can't please everyone. Bottom line. Write the story that you want to write, and how you want it to end because it's your story to tell.
2. Bad Reviews: Do NOT Engage
One of the hardest things you will have to do is learn to deal with bad reviews. It also goes hand in hand with number one. There's always going to be someone who doesn't like it. Everyone's personally tastes vary, and it goes back to that pleasing everyone thing again. One of the worst reviews I've ever gotten was someone who was just appalled that one of the characters in my Heaven's Rejects MC series was a fire bug. This review ripped me up and down for allowing such a person to go unchecked in that fictional world. The icing on the cake was that they ended it with thanking all fireman for what they do. Don't get me wrong, I have a very healthy admiration for the men and women who are firemen, but this reviewer was equating a fictional story to real life. It's not the same. I am writing a story, but to her... it might have been real. I totally get that she might have a personal experience with an arsonist or even been in a fire herself. I'm not discounting that at all. Everyone has their own life experiences, and reading about them trigger different things for different people. However, it didn't make that review hurt any less.
There are reviewers out there that live to rip a book to shreds, and they do not give one rip about how you think they're wrong. It's their opinion. Just like you have your own. One the biggest pieces of advice I can give to you is to not engage them. Fume all your want and vent to your close friends, but do not post anything about it on social media or even respond to their reviewers with a comment. It's just not worth the trouble. You might just ruin your reputation before it even takes off. Just don't do it.
3. Finding the Right Team
You likely see all the time on social media where an author is looking for a new editor, personal assistant, cover designer, etc. I know I do, and I've been in their position multiple times over the last five years. Finding your "tribe" for all aspects for your books is almost as hard as writing the book itself. I have found that having someone on your team that isn't trust-worthy or as qualified as you originally thought for the job puts you at a major disadvantage both personally and financially.
If your reviews constantly ding you for your editing, it might be time to find a new editor. Same goes for all of your book related services. Editing and cover designer are the two biggest things readers mention in a bad review. Well, outside the story in general. If you're seeing those two things consistently, you don't have the right team of people, and that could mean you need to make some changes. Books that are riddled with mistakes or covers that are just plain messy will hurt your sales. You have to do what's best for your business. That's the bottom line. Surrounding yourself with the right team is key to that.
The other major bullet point under this topic that we all make mistakes at the beginning. Know what? You can always go back and fix your mistakes. Remember me mentioning how horrible that first book I wrote, I'm currently in the process of fixing it right now and re-releasing it. You CAN fix it. Just don't wait until you're too far down the rabbit hole to right the ship.
This one has been a major eye-opening experience for me. When I released Damaged, I had it in my head you can't heavily advertise your book until it's released. WRONG! You should be advertising your book for months in advance of the release. When I first started publishing, Facebook group takeover parties and posting in large promotion groups on Facebook were a great way of advertising. Five years later, they are basically extinct thanks to the algorithms that hide everything anymore on social media. And, I mean everything. Posts, photos, links. None of it gets seen anymore especially in those promo groups. I recently went through my groups and removed myself from nearly every single pimp group I had joined over the years. Not only did it clean up my timeline, but now, I am seeing more relative content that I actually want to see.
But, how can you advertise on social media if posts aren't seen? Ads. Paid ads should be a major part of your budget. Done correctly, paid ads on Facebook and even Bookbub can help you sell more books than no ads at all because of the audience targeting. You can select your ad to be delivered to readers who follow authors who write in the same genre as you or even readers who use specific reading devices. Ads get your book in front of readers looking for books like yours. The downside is learning how to create eye catching ads, and not spending thousands with little return. There's plenty of courses and books that can teach you the best targeting and ad copy methods for your genre. I've taken the last year to study and test what works best for me. It's honestly helped even when I didn't publish many books last year. My blacklist sales are funding my future releases with some well targeted ads. If you aren't using ads as a major source of your advertising, it's time to start looking into that now.
5. Book Covers
Your cover is the very first thing that a reader sees. If it doesn't fit with the genre you're writing it, the chances are the readers will skip on past it. For example, you have dark romance book you've just released with great ad copy, but when I click your link on the ad, I find the cover is a couple laying in a green field with horses. As a reader, I would see that cover and think it's contemporary romance. Not dark. Off first glance, you've lost a potential sale because the cover doesn't match the ad copy.
Now, let's say you have a dark romance with a book with black tones and ominous looking person on it. Now, the genre and ad copy will fit the cover thus drawing in your reader's to check out the club or even a sample chapter.
Knowing the trends of your genre is key to your success. It's great to stand out among the crowd. It's another thing to hide what is possibly a great story behind a mismatched cover.
6. Promoting Your Book
Social media is still very key in how we interact with our readers, but you can't control it. By investing your time isn't something that isn't controlled by someone else, you're making better use of your time, and delivering the right content to those who WANT to see it. In fact, many of the promotional platforms that I have used over the years have become less and less effective. Blogs used to be a huge staple in my advertising plan. But now, they are being stifled on social media platforms because of the algorithms. I used to dream about having one of my books featured on the top dog level of blogs. Now, I don't even see posts from them unless I search for their page. It's sad to see such an important platform for authors go by the way side, but we can't control how our social media platforms pick and choose how we can share our content.
But, you have two great options at your disposal that you can control. Your website and your newsletter. The biggest of that being your newsletter. Since 2017, I have focused a lot of energy in building my newsletter subscribers organically. What does that mean? I have targeted those readers who already like my books. I've done that by keeping my back matter of my books current and by including a link to my newsletter.
Newsletters are one of the best tools you have, and one you can control. It's delivered directly to the readers inbox, and you can see the percentages of opens, clicks, etc. You can't say the same for social media. If someone has received a dozen newsletters and not opened a single one, you remove them from your list. Building your list takes time. Giveaways and Subscription freebies also known as cookies are a great way to attract a mass amount of new subscribers to your content. But, be wary. Those readers aren't loyal to you. Most will unsubscribe or even report you as SPAM once they get their free e-book or find out who won the giveaway. The best way to grow your list is to organically get readers to subscribe just like I mentioned above with adding the link in the back matter of my books. Those subscribers will have already read your content and want to know more. That's who you need to target.
The same goes for your website. If you are providing your readers with exclusive content on your website, you have more of a chance of them seeing the information you want to deliver than you would say posting on your Facebook page. Try posting character quizzes or blog posts about your writing process on your website site. Yes, you can share those links on your social media or even in your newsletters, but it drives traffic to your website.
7. Value Your Time
I can't stress this enough. Value your time. Value your work. Readers nowadays have gotten accustomed to indie e-books being priced at $0.99 even for full length books. You are basically giving away your hard work away for free. Book piracy takes away enough as it is. Don't do that to yourself. At most, you're only making $0.35 per book. If you've got all of your books priced that way, you're hurting yourself and your bottom line. This is your BUSINESS. Treat it like one. You don't see longstanding retailers like Apple handing out free iPads on the hope that consumer will buy something else to make up for it.
And, I'm not talking about putting books on sale because that's a great tool to bring in new readers to your series. Short term sales are great, but long term and steady sales are what you are looking for in terms of profit.
Pricing is another big thing you need to research. Find what works best for your and your reader base. If you have a long series, make the first book $0.99 as a way to draw in a new reader, but don't do that for your entire series.
8. Book Signings: The Good and The Bad
I love going to book signings. Getting the chance to meet readers that I have only had the pleasure of talking to on social media and getting to spend time with author friends is one of the biggest draws for me. Signings are fun, but they are expensive, especially if you are traveling a long distance to get there. Fun doesn't pay the bills. That being said, if you are going into a book signing thinking that you will make back all that you have invested into it... take a deep breath because 99% of the time, you won't even be close. I can count on one hand how many times I have made an actual profit on my signing investment. One hand. I've been to at least fifteen signings in the past four years that I can name off the top of my head. Maybe three have I come out in the green. That's 20%. Many other authors will likely tell you the exact same thing. Signings are great marketing tools, but if you walk into a signing thinking that you are going to make big bucks, think again. You won't. And, if you are working on a very tight budget, there are other ways to advertise your books that may be more cost effective than attending a signing, which is my next point.
9. Quit Spending Money You Don't Have
I don't know how many times I have seen authors posting about the mountains of debt that they are in because of their books. Admittedly, I was one of them for the first two years of my career. I wanted to be just like the authors at the top of field. I used promotion companies I couldn't afford. I went to signings where I was the only new author there and bought so much swag to give away that it took me years to finally hand it all out. It wasn't until I saw how much money I was really sinking into my then failing business at tax time that I realized what I was doing wrong. You can seriously hurt your family's finances when you don't spend within your business budget. One of the best things I did was to start tracking my monthly sales in a spreadsheet and budgeting out what I wanted to spend it on months in advance. When I had excess, I saved it to use for future releases. Within a year, I turned my failing business in a profitable one that I have today. Even when sales are down, I have a reserve of money sat aside that can offset a bad months of sales. A safety net as you will.
The bottom line is if you can't afford it, don't spend it. I don't care how much you love that exclusive photo. If your sales can't cover what you'd spend on it, just don't.
Another useful tool that I use is to try to find ways to cut my service costs when it comes to publishing. For me, it was learning to format my own books with Vellum. I was paying around $100-$200 a book on formatting alone. With Vellum, I took that $200 I would have put into formatting one book and reinvested it into a tool that will save me money in the long run. And in fact, it also gives me the ability to use formatting as a side business to generate more revenue for those authors who choose to not do it themselves. There are numerous ways that you can make your business profitable outside of writing books. Profits that you can then re-invest into your business and use to do things you weren't able to afford to do before like signings.
10. Stop Setting Unrealistic Deadlines
This one has been the hardest lesson of all for me to come to terms with. Working full-time in a stressful field and writing part-time is not easy. When you put yourself up against a deadline that you thought you could make three months ago, you're hurting yourself and your family. I don't care how many times I have talked about how I write well under pressure in the past. The truth is that it's not always the same for every book. This year has been a testament to that. Outside of a few small projects, I haven't been able to finish a single full-length title. Something always gets in the way. And, it came at a cost when I lost my pre-order rights for a year on Amazon for having to cancel a release. Long pre-orders are the most financially lucrative for me, and because I thought I could push and punish myself to get a book done, I paid the price.
If you know you can't make a deadline, stop making them. Be more realistic on your writing schedule. Your loyal readers are always going to be there to support you if you have to push back a date. Don't punish yourself when you don't get many words down for your daily writing goal. It happens, and the more pressure you put yourself under, the harder it will be to get it done. Find a pace that works best for you and stick with it.
The author life is far from easy, but I hope that if you're reading this you can see that you aren't alone in your struggles. We've all been there at some point. Pushing yourself to put out a book or even trying to write to market in a genre that you are just not comfortable with is not the answer. Write what you love. Be who you want to be. Find yourself. That's how you truly exceed.
Happy December, Everyone!
It's finally here. Christmas! My favorite time of the year. The house is decorated to the hilt. Trees and lights as far as the eye can see. Jimmy Buffet's Christmas Island is blasting through the stereo. The power bill is skyrocketing because... I like lights. LOL. I can hear Mr. Paige already grumbling about it, but I just ignore him. I live for this time of the year, and I can't help it. Reliving those childhood traditions just brings a smile to my face, and even more so as I introduce our nieces to a piece of our family history. Do you have a favorite Christmas memory? Mine would have to be listening to the scanner for Grissom Air Force Base's Christmas Eve Santa sighting report. I used to listen so intently then drag my parents home because I was not about to be skipped that year for presents because they were lolly gagging at my granny and paw's house.
Speaking of trees, as promised, I have included the video of my office tree with so many of the ornaments that I have received from readers this year. Each one a special token of support. From the handmade to the ornament, they are all beautiful in their own way. I can't thank you all enough for helping make my year round office tree so special. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of all the love and support I have behind me. Even when I can't find the words to write. I know y'all have my back.
Because this is the last newsletter of 2019, I want to touch quickly on what I have planned for 2020. Books are coming. Demons and Desires and Devil's Queen being two of the first releases. Dates are still TBD, but early 2020 is the goal for both. I will announce the pre-orders when I get to a certain point in the book. I also have a few other projects in the works, but I am not ready announce those yet. I even have a surprise return trip back to my very first book, Damaged, which has been off the market since 2016. It's about time I finish that story.
Oh... did I forget I have a little present for you all? I didn't? Shame on me! For those of you who didn't get a chance to read Silver Belles from the Christmas at the Clubhouse Anthology last year... you can read it now.. FOR FREE! My gift to you.
Claim your free copy here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/akyldlfgsa
I hope you're ready for a fantastic 2020!
See you next year!
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Avelyn Paige is an Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY bestselling Motorcycle Romance author.