Tag Archives: publishing

Indie Publishing, Three Years and Counting

I’m still here, even though I’ve been pretty quiet lately.

I haven’t posted much in the last year, especially about self-publishing, because I didn’t feel as though I had much to contribute. I’d pretty much shared what I had to say in my post about that first year, and all the decisions that a newbie had to make. But now that I’ve been on this path for a little over three years, I feel like I have a new set of choices. One of the big ones is: how much and what kind of publicity is enough?

This is actually an old decision revisited. Within a few months of starting out, I’d taken to heart the advice that the best promotion is getting the next book out. The corollary to that is to wait until you have five or six books out (some sources even say ten) preferably in a series, before you start trying to do any serious promotion. I wasn’t that hardcore, nor was I that patient. I ran quite a few free promotions and .99 sales on several different books. Some worked better than others, and they all worked better when I paid for an ad to advertise the promotion. But over the months I noticed that the sales became less effective, not only for selling books, but also for generating reader reviews. (Thank you, every single one of you, who has bought and reviewed one of my books!) And over time I found that the additional revenues were eaten up by the cost of the ads.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to Indie publishing, this isn’t news to you.

One of the immutable laws of business is: adapt or die. So I tried a few things like writing a newsletter, updating my metadata, and my product descriptions, both of which helped sales  a little, though not much. About five months ago I decided to give advertising a rest and focus on writing. I was pleased to note that even without “goosing” sales with promotions, my sales held steady and even improved a teensy bit.

Teensy isn’t good enough, though. Now that I have six novels out (three of which are in a series), I think it’s time to get more serious about getting eyeballs on my books. I’ve been researching what has works and I decided to experiment with some of the techniques that Nick Stephenson recommends in his book, READER MAGNETS: Get Readers to Come to You. While not over promising, the results he reports sound pretty impressive, so it’s worth my time to give it a go, I think. It also seems to be a good fit with the 80/20 rule. (Getting that 80% of results from the most effective 20% of effort.)

I’ll let you know how it goes. And if you don’t want to wait, go buy Stephenson’s book for yourself. I’d love to hear how it works for you. I’d also love to hear from the other authors out there what you’ve done to get the word out. What do you think REALLY works?

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I you live in the Tucson area, be sure to check out the TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS this coming weekend, March 14-15. Over 300 authors will be speaking, along with many food vendors and live music. I’ll be speaking Saturday afternoon at 4:00 on a panel with several other authors about the differences between Indie and traditional publishing. I hope to see you there

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I’m planning something special for the wonderful people who subscribe to my newsletter, so make sure you sign up!


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Publishers Behaving Badly, Part… I’ve Lost Count

David Gaughran has collected information about this train wreck and analyzes it far better than I could. This is a must read if you’re waffling about how to approach publishing. (Also note: David’s novel and short story collections are free today.)

Publishers Behaving Badly, Part… I’ve Lost Count.


Filed under Guest Post, Publishing


Available at Amazon and B&N

Available at Amazon and B&N

After a brief promotional period on Amazon’s Kindle Select, my sensual fairytale WITH HEART TO HEAR is again available for Nook online at Barnes and Noble. Like LIGHTBRINGER, it’s also available in other formats at Smashwords.


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To Series or Not to Series

I recently had an online conversation about whether a book being part of a series helps or hurts its sales. Almost everything I’ve read suggests that most readers like series. What they don’t like is not knowing where a book falls in the sequence, or being left hanging until the next book comes out.

When I started writing my first novel, DANGEROUS TALENTS, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just writing a story I wanted to tell. I certainly wasn’t trying to start a series at that point.

Then my critique group said, “Tell us Ragni’s story!” So I wrote FORBIDDEN TALENTS.

By this time I’d decided that writing a third book in a series that wasn’t selling yet was a bad idea, so I wrote two more stand-alone books, VEILED MIRROR and LIGHTBRINGER. Except some of the characters in LIGHTBRINGER  told me that their stories needed to be told too, so it turned out to be the first of another series. And then I decided I had to tell a story that turned out to be connected to the Celestial Affairs universe, but not actually about the Celestials. I started writing SEDUCED BY TRUST. Then I stopped because the hero’s mom needed her story told first. That’s how BETRAYED BY TRUST came to be written.

The problem with writing multiple series is that you have to keep it all straight. That’s too much for my little brain to remember, so I have  haphazzard story “bibles” that help me keep track of eye colors and name spellings. I’m also creating a series arc for the Celestial Affairs and Trust books.

Some writers just can’t stand to outline because it robs them of the joy of discovery. Fortunately, I’m not one of them. I start with a general idea for a book, some characters, a place and a goal. I’ll write a chapter or three to learn about them, but it doesn’t take long before I have to know where I’m going, so I draw myself a little map which gets more and more detailed as I go along. Usually that’s enough for a singleton, but with three more books in the Celestial Affairs series and the two Trust books to link in, I can’t wing it. I have to know.

So I’m drawing myself a big map that covers all six books. Each of the next two Celestial Affairs books, GUARDIAN and APOSTATE, will stand alone but will build to a big finale in the last book, SERAPHIM. At least, that’s the plan.

So here I am with three series begun, and readers asking for more in each of them. It might not have been the smartest way to go, especially since I’m not the fastest writer, but I’m thrilled my readers are so enthusiastic. (And when it comes out, I promise to tell you where a book fits in each series.)

In the meantime, the next book to be released is the 2nd Vinlanders’ Saga book, FORBIDDEN TALENTS. You won’t have to wait long–it comes out in early October.

Thanks for reading!



Filed under Publishing, writing

What’s In the Works?

First, a couple of announcements:

I’ll be speaking this Saturday after lunch at Tucson’s Saguaro RWA chapter meeting. I’ll be talking about Paranormal Investigation, drawing upon my experience with the Western Society for Paranormal Research. The meeting begins at 10:00 at El Parador Restaurant. Check the link for more info.

I’ve made my first foray into getting my books into stores. Mysterious Galaxy and Dog Eared Pages have sold my books at special events in the past. Now The Bookworm on White Mountain Blvd. in Pinetop, AZ will be selling my books in their store. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!


I thought I’d share a little bit about what I’m working on at the moment.

In mid-May I finished the first draft of Firstborn, which will be retitled BETRAYED BY TRUST when it’s released. This book takes place in 1979, and fits into the Celestial Affairs universe. If you’ve read LIGHTBRINGER, you’ve already met one of the characters: Gideon. (This isn’t his story, though. I promise I’ll be writing that soon. Gideon’s book will be titled GUARDIAN)

Right now I’m putting a final polish on FORBIDDEN TALENTS  before sending it to the editor. I already have the cover for this sequel to DANGEROUS TALENTS, and I love it! This book tells Ragni’s and Saeun’s story, but Dahleven and Celia are important actors in this book, too. If all goes as planned, FORBIDDEN TALENTS will be coming out in late August or early September.

One of the projects I’m considering after all of that is pulling some of my meatier posts on self-publishing together into a book. I’d love to hear from all of you on whether you like that idea, and if so, which topics have helped you the most. (Also if there is a topic you’d like me to expound upon.) I’ll draw randomly next week from those who comment on this post for either a free Kindle copy of DANGEROUS TALENTS or a signed copy of the paper edition. Your choice.


Filed under Publishing, writing

My Self-Publishing Journey: The Balanced Approach

I recently read a blog post by Joe Konrath in which he explained for those who couldn’t figure it out for themselves, that he was abrasive on purpose in order to drive traffic to his blog. I’d say “duh” except I’ve thought myself a time or two that he could persuade more people to his opinion if he used more honey than vinegar. But persuading people isn’t Konrath’s objective, as he explains, nor is selling books. His stated goal is to learn from his readers’ arguments.

As readers of this blog know, while I value much of the info I gain from Konrath’s blog, (like this excellent post about problem clauses to watch out for in traditional publishing contracts) I don’t subscribe to his version of Socratic philosophy. I prefer a balanced approach. And to that end, I’d like to recommend to you this post by Rob W. Hart titled “Six Tough Truths About Self-Publishing.” He pretty much nails it. The only thing I disagree much with is #5: Kiss Movie and Foreign Rights Goodbye. The fact is, movie deals aren’t common for any author, traditionally published or not, so the fear of this loss is a paper tiger. And there are ways of getting your book translated without the imprimatur of a publishing house. But you will have to pay either a flat fee or a percentage to the translator. One way or the other it will cost you money.

Hart is right about most of it though. Self-Publishing is hard, and growing your sales takes time and money–like any new business venture. A lot depends on luck. But for me it is much more rewarding than what I was doing before. And I’d rather give you the straight scoop as I know it, than fan the flames of resentment toward publishers.


Filed under Publishing, writing

Arizona Dreamin’ Is Almost Here!

Next month on June 2nd, I’ll be speaking at Phoenix’s only romance reader event, Arizona Dreamin’ This popular event gives readers a chance to chat with their favorite authors in scheduled groups and over dinner. And if you’ve ever thought of writing your own romance novel, two editors, Gail Delaney of Desert Breeze Publishing, and Lea Ann Finley, Senior Editor of Decadent Publishing will give a presentation about e-publishing, and will be taking pitches. Also attending will be Jimmy Thomas, a #1 cover model, and host of the Man of Our Dreams pageant during dinner.

On Saturday I’ll draw from those who leave comments to this post for a free ticket to Arizona Dreamin’. Tell us about how you enjoyed going to the event last year, what the man of your dreams would be like, or even what else you’d like me to talk about on this blog.  You can even just say, “Hi!” Just leave a comment and I’ll put your name in the hat. 🙂



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DANGEROUS TALENTS will be featured on Kindle Romance Novels at 5 pm (EST) today. Check it out!


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Guest Post: Casey Wyatt

Thinking Outside of the Box

Frankie – thank you for having me as a guest on your blog and for allowing me the opportunity to share my experience.   My journey to publication has been fairly short.  I sold two novels in 2011, the first year I began actively submitting.

I wrote Mystic Ink as my NaNoWriMo novel in 2010. In 2011, I polished it up and began entering it into contests. I pitched it to editors at CT Fiction in May and received several requests for the full manuscript. One publisher read the book, liked it, but passed due to marketing concerns. I also had one of the big 6 interested as well.  Then I waited, and waited, then waited some more.

In the meantime, I wrote another book – The Undead Space Initiative.  I knew the book didn’t fit into any conventional publishing genre. It’s a book about a vampire stripper who has to escape to Mars!  The dilemma – how do I pitch it?  As paranormal romance? Sci-fi romance? Urban Fantasy? Bigger publishers want books in clearly defined genres. So I had to think outside of the box and target publishers who were open to cross genre books which led me to digital first publishers.

So, later that summer, I sent out Mystic Ink and my other completed novel:  Ascension.  I still needed to edit The Undead Space Initiative, so I held onto it. Right away, I got full manuscript requests for both books.

By fall 2011, Soul Mate Publishing offered to buy Mystic Ink.  I suppose I could have waited close to a year for a response from the traditional publisher, but why? Publishing is a business and I wanted my book in readers’ hands. Keeping the book out there for a year or more meant that no one would be reading it! I’m a story teller and I have a lot more stories left to write.

My other rationale – If I was going to be expected to do all my own marketing and promotion anyway, I might as well try an e-publisher. Their publication turn-around times are much shorter and they generally don’t want the rights to your story forever.

In November, I sold The Undead Space Initiative to Pink Petal Books. I almost sold Ascension too, but it wasn’t meant to be. Not yet. I haven’t given up on the book. It’s back out for submission.

My focus right now is promoting Mystic Ink and working on my next book – Devil’s Advocate.  And I’ll need to revise The Undead Space Initiative.  2012 is going to be busy!

I haven’t ruled out pitching to traditional publishers and I hope to have my latest WIP in shape by May for CT Fiction Fest 2012. Someday, I may consider Indie publishing too.

All paths are viable options for me!

Thanks for much for having me as a guest.

I’d love to hear from your visitors about their publication experiences. And from readers- does the publisher (traditional vs. electronic) or format (print versus e-reader) matter to you? Or is it all about the story?

Visit Casey on the web: www.caseywyatt.com  or at http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com/. You can also find Casey on Facebook and Twitter (@CaseyWyatt1). Mystic Ink can be found at www.soulmatepublishing.com and at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Mystic Ink Blurb:

The last thing Nix, a Sea Nymph, wants to see behind the dumpster near her tattoo shop is another dead mortal. She also doesn’t want to hear Hades piss and moan about how the souls of the dead aren’t making it to the Underworld. And Nix certainly doesn’t want to be attracted to supernatural police agent, Calder Quinne when he comes to investigate. All Nix really wants is to run her tattoo shop in peace and quiet. Hey, we don’t always get what we want, now do we?

Mystic Ink Excerpt:

Nix, thoughts still swirling in her mind, headed toward the side door. After she unlocked the deadbolt, her eyes automatically went to the dumpster. Nothing. Thank the Gods. Her sigh of relief was quickly sucked back in. A dark shape further down the alley caught her eye. Maybe it was a heap of clothes or a bag of garbage. Whatever it was, it was lying near the entrance of the Underworld Gate. The Gate was invisible to all eyes, except Guardians—like her, Hades, and Charon. Whoever or whatever was back there couldn’t have known how close they were to the Underworld.

“Hell. Now what?” Please, be trash that some rude asshole left in my alley.

Rather than kick it with her foot, she decided to be more prudent and find something long to use as a poker. While grabbing a shop broom inside, she registered how quiet the place was. Of course, Basil wasn’t there. He was still with Jason.

Back in the alley, Nix slowly approached, straining for a better look. The pile was inside the building’s shadow. The closer she got, the more the lump resembled a body. She cursed. “Oh, come on! Why does this keep happening?”

Broom at the ready, she gave it jab. The mass was solid and there was no crinkle of plastic. So much for the garbage bag theory. Man, she did not want to have to call the police. At the rate she was going, they would probably arrest her just on principle.

Stupid mound.

She lifted the broom, ready to strike. An arm sprouted from the pile and shot up, stopping the handle from falling.

Nix barked, “What the hell?”

The broom clattered to the ground.

A dark figure rose up. The set of the shoulders, the short black hair . . . it was awfully familiar. “Cal?”

“Nix,” he said, his voice strained and tired. His arm extended, propping his body against the brick wall.

“If this is your idea of a joke, it’s not funny.” When he didn’t respond, Nix came up behind him and placed her hand on his back. “Are you—”

The words choked off. There was something wrong. Really wrong. His energy, the essence of his life, was out of whack. Like he was missing . . .

She put her hand up to her mouth, swallowing dread as he turned to face her. “Cal, where’s your soul?”


Thanks, Casey, for sharing your journey with us! Be sure to check out Casey’s website where you can learn more about the inspiration for Mystic Ink.


Filed under Guest Post

What’s In A Name? (Or A Title?)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I’m a little over a third of the way through the first draft of FIRSTBORN. As I wrote in an earlier post, I’m trying out Rachel Aaron’s suggestions to improve my productivity. Now that the holidays are past, and my tree is finally down, I’ve been working on FIRSTBORN. My output has improved, but it still wouldn’t impress anyone. My progress has been good enough though, that I’ve been thinking about what comes after I finish: publication. And I think I ought to change the title.

I surveyed Amazon, and there are a ton of books already with “Firstborn” in the title. “Scion,” too (the sequel to FIRSTBORN). I want titles that convey suspense and romance. We did some brainstorming, and the favorites of my critique group were: BETRAYED BY TRUST, and BOUND BY TRUST. The only problem: when I checked them out on Amazon, there were several similar titles. An alternate, SEDUCED BY TRUST, has no overlap, but doesn’t have the lovely alliteration.

This is a dilemma faced by every author and publisher with books sold online. It’s important to title a book so that it will be easy to find, and will entice the reader to look a little closer. You don’t want your book to be #18  on page three of twenty identically titled books. Ideally, the title will also have something to do with what the story is about. And, of course, even if you come up with an original title, there’s no guarantee that a book published next week won’t duplicate it. Titles can’t be copyrighted, after all.

Here’s a very rough blurb for the first book:

It’s 1979. To save an Elemental Spirit from slavery, Marianne seduces the scion of the powerful family he’s bound to. But the Trust she works for wants more than her loyalty. They want her son. And they won’t let Marianne, or the man who loves her, get in their way.

And for the second book:

Thirty years ago, Evan was conceived through seduction and betrayal. Now he’s inherited what was meant for another man: an Elemental Guardian. Two powerful organizations are in pursuit, and the woman he loves works for one of them.

So I invite you to make suggestions. If you come up with a title different from those above, that I decide to use, I’ll send you a free copy of the book when it comes out.


Filed under Publishing, writing