Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life Gets In the Way...and some Changes

I hate excuses and pity parties! I HATE them...because writing is a job. Yes, we all get sick. Take your sick days as needed and keep plugging along. I'm not suggesting we don't need time off or things don't happen to throw us off. Big illnesses, deaths in the family, and so on can derail us for weeks. But true writers write...we can't help it. We'll find a new routine and eek out the time to get something done.

And we all NEED vacations. Take them :)

When my mom went into the hospital and I suddenly became a part time care giver and normally very productive writing schedule was tossed out the window. Everything has revolved around her needs and appointments. For a time she couldn't be left alone. A big chunk of time for writing has been very hard to get. Maybe I'll get one day off but I still need to clean and do laundry and other errands for myself.

So I've been editing, noting out story ideas, and promoting around my other duties. In a week or two, the doctor follow ups will be done and hopefully things can go back to mostly normal. Her recovery has been steady. I'm frustrated that I'm not writing a lot like before but I'm still finding ways to spend time with my writing.

I didn't share a lot or in detail about my mother because so many writers out there are guilty of whining or worse--lying. People are bullying them. Or life kicked them. How do you know what's true and what's not? (Maybe I'm really jaded but several writers have been caught lying about being bullied for sympathy sales and it's disgusting).

Plus, setbacks happen in life. Whether it's health or a book doesn't sell the way you hoped. Stuff happens. It's frustrating (oh yes, it is! I want to be writing all day!!!). But I wasn't raised to be 'oh poor me' and all that. You do what you have to do and get on with it.

Don't misunderstand. We all vent a bit at times. Life can be frustrating. If I let myself go negative, I can stay there for a long time and get really down. So I try not to put that on FB or in social media too much. Minor things like the dentist--we can all relate to that. But private stuff in detail, that's just not me.


There was a time when I had a novella releasing a month but that time is over. Partly because I parted with a publisher who wasn't handling things professionally. This stuff happens too. You think something is working and whammo, someone lets the truth slip out. I like the truth but it radically changed my writing plan.

But that's neither here nor there.

I'm not playing the victim card because I'm not. But I feel I should share that there will be big changes from me. The last two months have hijacked my writing, more or less, and my publisher preferences have changed. Therefor, I won't have as many releases happening in the next six months.

The good news???? I'm going to be branching out to a new genre and longer books. Hopefully it's a success. A little risk can be scary but when so much is changing, why not dare to do something different?

Next release:
Blake's Home (MM rancher/ shifter) Oct 14th from Loose Id

More planned in the Men of Alaska series!

For now, I'll keep the new genre and that stuff to myself...until I have more concrete dates and so on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Writing Cave

I've been on a tangent in the last few days blogging about the business of writing...

It's been longer than that--as far as thinking. The playing field changes and we have to adapt. I've had too much time to think  lately.

On top of a surprise summer conference, my mother fell and has required a lot of help. Driving her around and helping her has splintered my routine and I haven't gotten much writing done at all. But there has been time to mull the changes I'm seeing...

In the next couple of weeks, hopefully the doctors will let her drive, work, and return to normal. The break from writing has been frustrating but given me time to reflect on the business side of things AND what I want to work on.

I've been a huge name or break out hit with my writing. Hopefully the old saying that everything happens for a reason is true! Maybe a little change can have a good result?

So Mid-Sept, hopefully, I'll be headed into the writing cave for a bit. Until then I have promotional stuff and edits plus mom duty...

Don't worry, there will be more Men of least 2 more to see how readers are liking them. But sometimes you need to throw in something different :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Pricing Game (hot buttons and not everything needs to be 99 cents!)

Whenever authors want to talk about pricing issues, extremes seem to pop up! Some people think you need to be at 99cents to move books. Or free! If all you want is to make a list or get a best seller tag on your name...I guess.

But this discussion isn't just about extremes. Price points matter in selling items. Many epubs have adjusted their pricing as competition grew and self pub added some pressure.

Sterling New Year is about 28k and priced at 3.99. This book did very well (for me, it's all relative)....

The next book was more like 35k (readers say they like longer books and this one had more to it) but it crossed a price level with the publisher and is 4.99. For a novella, that seems to be too much.

What did I learn? My novellas will be under 30k for this publisher going forward to maximize sales.

Pricing can be this sensitive for readers. They only have so much money and when you can buy full length novels for $4.99...believe me, I understand! Readers have tons of choices but one budget.

Some self pub authors do discount too aggressively. Full length novels for 99 cents or 2.99 permanently? That is devaluing the work. Now, a flash sale or book 4 in the series is out and you do a sale on book 1 for a week...sure.

Before self pub was a big thing, epubs could easily keep an eye on each others pricing levels relative to word count. They didn't stay lock step, that's for sure. Some are much higher than other epubs and now they're feeling that as readers and authors comment. But with so many self pubs wanting to see sales/ success--they are more willing to try anything for results.

For the record, I'm not against free reads. If you put up a short story or two for free, people can try it--that's not bad. But don't make every book free...

Plenty of well known musicians have videos up for free on you can basically enjoy the song FREE. If you go to itunes to download it into your ipod/iphone's not free. So there is some good precedence for a free sample.

Or even doing a free code to giveaway for a book at a conference that's good for a few weeks but it's not free for EVERYONE all the time. Specials and sales are enticing.

The pricing strategy continues to evolve and the smart move is to pay attention to sales/reviews and what's changed (like my price point example above). ALSO avoid extremes. Holding your price high because of history or because you're worth more (when the market is at another point) only hurts you.

Going cheap might look like it's working but are you more likely to buy a book that is 4.99 on sale for 2.99? Or a book that is always 2.99? People like sales! If you're always cheap or free, then they'll expect it.

Bottom line:

1-If you're with publishing houses....know the price levels and how they relate to the word count. It can hurt you to jump up $1 because of a few thousand words (That's from personal experience!).

2-If you're self pub, price fairly and put books on sale for a limited time rather than price cheaply. Have a reason for the sale as well. A new release in that series is fine. But don't do constant sales or or it'll be expected...

Writing is hard work and we need to earn a living at it...but ignoring the current market and going too high or too low isn't in your best interest.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Writing and keeping the readers happy!

My degree is in business (accounting was my day job for 15 years until I was able to afford following my dream of writing full time).

Business is a part of the writing life a lot of authors don't like. They want to write! Some enjoy promotion, some don't. Some love to analyze trends and numbers, others don't. We all love to meet readers who like our books but bad reviews sting. We're people but all business is made up of people.

I want to stay in business! I want to keep on writing and sometimes that means dealing with the less fun aspects.

Businesses change. Trends shift. Markets and tastes are hard to track at times. Epubs come and go. Business shifts with things like self publishing and how Amazon ranks books.

E publishing freed a lot of authors from the NY system and provided options. NY is slowly changing and learning what readers what, how they want it, and what is workable in the new marketplace. They have a huge structure that needs to be reorganized.

Still, people are creatures of habit. We get used to a routine and we like it. Sometimes epubs do this as well. It's good to be King of your realm and have it your way.

Here's another way to look at it. Henry Ford once said "they can have any color car as long as it's black."

At that time, Ford at the only reliable/ affordable car for the general population. So if you wanted came to his company and bought what he had stock in or you waited for one.

Power Advantage = Ford.

Is that how it is today?? I drive a Chevy. My sister, a Toyota and the color choices are endless.

Great businessmen (and women) are GREAT because they see the new needs. The NEW opportunities. Ford could play the power game for a while but the competition would catch up. They'd offer more things to get customers to come to them. There will always be competition, problems, and new challenges.

When I was in accounting, I worked with A LOT of salesmen. As a company, we knew who our competitors were (domestic and foreign). You had to fight for business at times--China would undercut pricing etc...

In publishing, we don't want to think about competition. Readers want lots of books! We're all good. All warm fuzzies, hugs, and happy thoughts around. The competition here is very different.

Guess what? It's NOT! Competing salesmen are nice to each other. They don't take it personally if you get a sale and they don't. They just work harder to get it the next time. It's not personal, it's business. They don't go into denial that it's competition but they can be friends too. And if they're both getting screwed by foreign competition, they may even share some data to get that business back in domestic hands.

Friends/ Allies/ Enemies/ Competitors...those are some blurred lines!

Don't fool yourself--we do compete in some ways. Some readers have a limited budget so they may want your book but other authors rank above you. This is a good place to be. We're always trying to improve our writing. Move up to that next level. Strive for excellence...keep writing!

But there are other competing factors. Pricing and location are key and authors with publishers don't control either of those. Publishers need to to do their homework. To understand they (and we authors who self pub some of our work) CAN'T control the consumer. We can suggest/ encourage them to buy in one place over another...but do you want Coca Cola to tell you they'll only be at Costco, not Sam's Club too? Or the other way around? You're the want it where you want it or you might buy an alternative. Whether you're Coke,  Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper...we all want to be in stock on the shelves everywhere we can (EXCEPT pirate sites--but that's another topic).

The customer (the reader) is always right. You want it at it there. IF a publisher wants to entice readers to their site instead...they need to make it worth the effort. Bonus content free? Buy 10 get 1 ebook free (I know many readers who prefer All Romance Ebooks because of this deal and their rebate offers). Epubs can do incentive programs--some do and I don't know that it actually works. Not enough benefit? Or is it just that the readers value the convenience to buy all books in once place more than the individual epub incentives?

As an authors, I want my readers to be happy! That's the smartest business plan any pub (NY or small) can have. The hardest part is finding the info on what's changing and how I need to adjust to be positioned right to keep the readers happy. While I'm busy writing things can change. The market can shift READERS, please tell your favorite authors what you want. Publishers don't always listen to us if you have favorite publishers...tell them too :D Facebook and website with contact info give you the access! Comment and share your opinion! Vote with your reviews if nothing else.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AAD Wrap Up...

Now that I'm sort of caught up (edits turned in), I can start to recap AAD.
I still have a lot of laundry to

I ran into a reader at the gate at Chicago's Midway Airport and Lisa and I chatted...more AAD people arrived. Desiree Holt cut it close connecting from her other flight in from Texas but we were all good. Nice flight...

The trouble started with the hotel. I'd shipped 4 boxes. 2 for the welcome bags and 2 full of swag I'd hand out. It shouldn't take over an hour to locate properly labeled I missed part of the Midnight Rodeo.

But I wasn't the only one....many others were hunting down boxes. The hotel service overall was slow. The restaurant was a repeat offender in this area. My hair dryer in the room died and the replacement one took a while and the new one sucked...cut out constantly. I was really unimpressed. The room we had for the book signing was packed tight. I've never been so scrunched in at any book signing and I've been doing this for a while!

So that's the bad stuff. And it had to do with the hotel...

Now to the conference :) The Midnight Rodeo was at 4pm but it was fun. A mechanical bull was there for people to ride and take pictures with...I did neither. lol BUT they had awesome goody bags. A bottle of water and a cookie ! Yes, this is what you need the first day because everything in the hotel was overpriced...we needed the water! Thank you!!

The Welcome event was went the full 2 hours but lots of readers got great prizes. As an author, I couldn't win anything so it lacked anticipation for me but Mr. Moose liked the cup on the table...

The next day I was going to have breakfast with one author and it grew to a big table...What fun!

That day Isabelle Drake and I had planned to camp out and give away goodies.

The little squeezie moose became popular! And those pens, you might think you have enough pens and pass them up...but they have 3 inks in them! Many readers started clicking away...they make me feel like a kid again :)

Thursday was the Author Reception I was a part of. More goodies given out  :) Chatting with readers and bloggers! I was so tired after that, I couldn't even go to the Bookie awards. I grabbed dinner and talked with readers/writers/bloggers. Mr. Moose already had a following...

I kept up with the awards on FB via my phone. Desiree won 5! WOW!

Friday, Isabelle and I did the same thing!! A little in the AM, lunch and then more swag giveaways in the bar area. Roz Lee and others joined in.

That night was the Leather & Lace party...Mr. Moose was popular by then and drinking a rum and coke ;)

The next day was the signing. I didn't bring books, just swag and some postcards for my latest ebook releases. That worked out okay...

Did you get a moose? That was my question to those who passed by :O)  I got a lot of interesting looks but most stopped and checked out the fun of the Men of Alaska series!

I gave away all the stress reliever moose that I brought to AAD! And 99% of the pens! Whoohoo!

That night was the Sins/Virtues Ball. After the long signing, I really needed a nap and night off, but the table that I was at was Sloth. So it totally fit. I went in PJs and we got to hang out without having to look fancy like the others :)

Lizzie T. Leaf was a generous hostess and so nice! Mr. Moose loved his gift bag:

I had a really early flight Sunday morning so I ducked out after dinner (good cheescake!) but it worked out. 

I was home early and could check on my mom (who had broken her collar bone less than a month earlier and, while she had my dad, he's not the best caretaker). Then I could relax and sleep in my own bed.

Mr. Moose was beat... but he loved meeting everyone :)

We'll be at AAD Atlanta! Until then, Mr. Moose is tucked in. He'll play online but first he has to oversee Men of Alaska 3: Sterling Rose!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Post AAD and Sterling Sunshine Party

Survived my first ever Authors After Dark con! That is an awesome place to meet readers.

I'll be going next year as well. Atlanta in August will be hot but most of the time, I'll be camped out hanging with readers and passing out swag!

I gave away a lot of squishy moose to celebrate my Men of Alaska series :)

To further celebrate Sterling Sunshine...I'm having a FB event!!

It'll be August 23rd and there will be prizes.

Join here and get all the details:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Off and AAD

Sorry I'm been stuff that included a hospital stay for a close member sucked me away from my writing world.


Totally NEW Website layout!!

check out :

Sterling Sunshine is doing great on Amazon (thank you!!!) and has gotten great reviews (thanks again!)
It's up at Nook now :)


Don't worry, I'll be working on Men of Alaska 3 (Sterling Rose) in August...

In October, I'll have a new release that is MM rancher/shifter themed. Blake's Home will be out just in time for Gay Rom Lit! 

Also in October...Black Cat Strut will release. It's a short quickie that you can pre-order now:
It'll release in time for Halloween (it's a MM halloween themed story). So another MM in October!

As of Aug 6th, I'm off to Authors After Dark in Charlotte! I'll have some news to share from there...something to blog about :) I have a lot o brainstorming/planning to do. But there is still family stuff to deal with when I get back, so don't think I'm ignoring my writing. Just have to balance things differently for a couple of months while I help out...