|First let me preface this by saying publishing houses never twist an author's arm and make them sign a publishing contract. That decision is the author's. But once the author signs that contract they are giving up some aspects of creative control. For instance, when I sold my urban fantasy novel Doomsday, I sold it as a romance. There was a small, romantic subplot in the book that I agreed to expand once I sold it. I also had to change the name of my book, as Doomsday didn't make readers envision happiness and love. So the name of the book became Tainted Love.
When I got my book cover for Tainted Love I was pleasantly shocked by how pretty it was. I loved the pinks. The only problem was, readers would buy that book expecting a sweet romance and instead get a heroine with a flame thrower and pages full of zombies. That beautiful book cover made me feel like I was falsely advertising my book. It was also hard to get readers who actually enjoyed urban fantasy to read my book.
So once I was able to, I got the rights to Tainted Love back. I changed the name back to Doomsday and got cover art I felt better represented the story. I'm working on re-writing that story right now. It remains to be seen which sales will be better, the sweet book cover, or the dark book cover. My hope is with the dark book cover. Either way, I feel better able to snag readers who are into dark tales instead of ones looking to fall in love for a few hours. :-)
I've been indie publishing for about a year now and I've learned a lot! Since October 2014 I've released 4 books. By December 2015 I'll have released 6. It's been a busy year.
All of the research I've done since October 2014 shows that the best plan to have followed would have been to focus on my Heather Elizabeth King books (since that's the name I plan to continue to write under). But I really wanted to finish the Stella Rice series for readers. 2015, ten years after the release of the original serial, seemed perfect. As a result, at the end of 2015 I'll have 3 releases as Adrienne Kama and 3 releases as Heather Elizabeth King.
I don't regret making the decision to release books under two different names. Doing this has given me some valuable information I wouldn't have gotten any other way. Heather Elizabeth King is new to readers, but as Adrienne Kama, I have a readership. This difference proved to be critical in helping me see how Amazon sales work.
When I released the first Stella Rice book, people were waiting to buy it. As a means to further prompt sales, I did a release day sale, offering the book for $.99. (Now I know a lot of authors scoff at this. I once scoffed myself, but there's a method to the madness. Continue reading to understand what I mean.) On release day, my sales skyrocketed. I was flabbergasted at how many books I sold. This was pretty cool, but it was also pretty scary because my intention was to retire Adrienne Kama so I could focus on writing paranormals under Heather Elizabeth King. With such great sales numbers, that would be difficult to do. lol About a week after release day, I brought the price up to $4.99. Because the sales had been so good, the book continued to sell, even at the higher price. Mind you, the sales didn't keep the numbers I had on the first and second day of release, but for a little over a month they stayed at a level that enabled me to see how successful indie authors are able to write full time. Why they always say it's a numbers game. The more books you have available to readers, the more they'll buy. Even if they start midway in a series. If they like what they read enough, they'll find other stuff you've written. When the first Stella Rice book came out, sales for my novella, Again increased. That's a book that came out in 2007. But the new readers I'd acquired through my Amazon sales wanted more!
With the second Stella Rice book I wanted to see how the sales would be if I didn't offer a release day sale. I released the book at $4.99, but everything else I did was the same. BIG DIFFERENCE! I had good sales, but they didn't match my sales numbers for the first book. Setting my first book at $.99 increased sales and visibility of that book, which led to more sales. This is one of the big reasons why indies do $.99 sales on new releases. It sells books, which sells more books, which sells backlist books. When the final Stella Rice book comes out I'm going to do the $.99 sales price again, to verify my results.
Lots going on. I can say this for indie publishing, it's definitely exciting. I love having the control to try different things with my releases and learn what works and what doesn't work.
This past weekend I went to the Baltimore Book Festival. As always, I had a great time! Over the past three years I've gone I've picked up a few insights on ways to have a successful signing/appearance at large festivals. Here are a few of the things I learned.
1. Candy is always nice at a signing. It draws people in without me having to shout them down to get their attention.
2. Bring a sign in book for your readers and potential readers to sign & join your newsletter.
3. No more author's tent. See 4.
4. If your author brand isn't widely known, join a signing with a brand that is. RWA for instance. All RWA and Sci Fi/Fantasy events attracted lots of readers. Those readers come for the panel and many stay for the signing. This equals book sales!
5. Readers don't like walking by tents and having promo items shoved at them as they walk by. I've never done this, but I've had it done to me. It's also a waste of money to shove promo items (like postcards) onto people who don't want them. Many trash them once the person who gave it to them is out of sight.
6. Bring a buddy if you have a long signing. In 2013 when I signed in the author's tent, I committed to eight hours. That's a long time! Everyone else had their spouse with them, so they could take breaks to use the bathroom, eat, and stretch their legs. I was alone so I only took two rushed bathroom breaks.
Using the buddy system at a long signing makes for a much more pleasant signing.
That's all I can think of right now. I took notes, but I lost them. D'oh!
Today I read Joanna Penn's book, How to Make a Living With Your Writing. If you're an indie author, this is a book you'll want to check out. She covers topics that I've been considering, but not quite sure how to implement.
It's offered FOR FREE right now, so you'll want to check it out IMMEDIATELY!
The main theme of this book is to tell indie authors what they can do to become full-time authors. To become a full-time author, the author needs to be an author entrepreneur. To be an author entrepreneur, the author needs to have multiple streams of income. Joanna Penn, for example, writes fiction, non-fiction for authors, has a podcast, a very popular blog, and is a professional speaker. The idea is that she's not solely dependent on one source of income. If one line of income falters, there are still many others. Now if you're Hugh Howey or Liliana Hart (two of the most successful indie authors around today), you probably don't have to be so worried about multiple lines of income.
Although, you can find Liliana Hart speaking at writer conferences around the world, sharing her keys to success. In fact, she's been a speaker at conferences for years.
I enjoyed reading How to Make a Living With Your Writing. It had many of the same ideas I read in Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, with David Wright: One of the biggest being, multiple streams of income! Like Joanna Penn, the authors have a podcast, non-fiction books for authors, and are speakers.
So how does a busy indie author who is holding down a full-time job find the time to create lines of income in addition to writing fiction. For me, that means doing something I've been passionate about for a long time anyway. Sharing what I've learned on my publishing journey with newbie authors. What format will that take? I'm not 100% sure yet. What I do know is that I'm going to focus my blog on "writerly" posts. I'm still relatively new to this indie things, so I'll share more of my discoveries here on the blog. Hopefully you won't make the same mistakes that I have. Another thing I'm considering is creating short modules for readers. Right now, topics would be geared more toward authors looking to go the traditional publishing route, since most of my experience has been as a traditionally published author. Topics would include:
- The importance of a well-written query letter
- How not to piss of an editor
- The importance of a well written synopsis
- Ways to make writing the synopsis less painful
- How to know who to submit your query package to
That's all for now. I hope everyone had a great weekend!
Soon, Sunday nights won't be back to the day job in the morning. It will mean, tomorrow I get to do something I LOVE!
It's been a crazy year! I'm not sure what I was thinking when I started making so many life changes.
I've felt a bit overwhelmed this year, to say the least. I haven't been as productive as I was last year, in regards to promo and marketing my books. I've pretty much just been learning, writing, and editing. Next year I plan to up the production schedule and do a better job of sticking to my release dates. And while I'll probably still release Adrienne Kama books periodically, my focus is on my Heather Elizabeth King books and building my brand as a paranormal author.
|Front & Back Cover
I'm proofing my book! Digitally for now. I have an actual paperback coming in the mail. I'm going to have to push back publication of the print version, but I'd rather do that than risk selling a book that doesn't look the best it can possibly look.
I already see a few things I'm going to fix. Still, this is exciting. Usually I have to wait and wait and wait and wait for my paperbacks to release. Now, I have full control over this.
I may even start releasing the ebook and paperback at the same time!
I just finished formatting my first indie paperback. Whew! Feels like I had a workout. It's so nice to wait for the box of books to come in the mail from the publisher! LOL!
A few things that I had to consider that I hadn't thought of before:
1. Book Size - You'll notice the ebook is about 314 pages. When doing the print version, the larger the book, the more expensive it is for readers to buy. So, the challenge here was for me to get the page count down without sacrificing the book's readability. I'm going to get a print copy sent to me so I can see exactly how the finished product will look. You can see files online, but for something like this, I need to hold the paperback in my hand before I start charging people for it.
2. Cover Art formatting. Syneca at Original Syn creates my cover art and she's brilliant. She sends me all the files I need for ebook & print. That doesn't mean I'll have the common sense to use the correct file!
First, I uploaded a cover without consideration that there wasn't a back cover with it. So readers would have purchased the book and gotten a paperback with a fancy front cover and a plain white back cover. No art, no book blurb, nothing. LOL Not good!
Second, I didn't think about the book spine. Size the book incorrectly, and the book spine will not print properly.
Third, CreateSpace requires PDF cover uploads. Not JPEG. I'm so used to every image I work with being a JPEG that I mentally warred against the PDF requirement. Fortunately, Syneca is smart enough to combat the ridiculous things new indie writers do.
3. Glossy cover or Matte cover? Go online to research and nobody agrees. But the arguments I heard in favor of matte covers were more convincing than the ones for glossy. Plus, most of the books in my own personal library have matte covers.
4. Book size!!! Ack!!! I hadn't anticipated this. I thought this would be a sort of, once size fits all deal. Nope! So I went with the recommended, 6x9 cover. By the way, there's also much disagreement about this online.
The author basically gets to decide exactly how her book will look. It's very freeing, but a lot of work. The thing that took the longest was trying to get my page count down low enough so the price would be affordable. I should note here that while the author is able to decide how much to charge, CreateSpace gives them a minimum price based on the book size. So the author cannot go below that price.
It's been a great, two day adventure! I've learned much and won't be surprised if there are still changes to be made in the print version of Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost, and the Demon. But I'm learning and I'll be better prepared for my next paperback.
During the day I work as a Business Analyst. Last week we had our birthday lunch for the month. I'm new to the team so many don't know I write fiction. One of my co-workers asked what I write, I said paranormal mysteries and paranormal romance. At paranormal romance, she burst out laughing. She'd never heard of that sub-genre before, until recently. She wasn't rude at all, but I thought, I'm glad I didn't mention the paranormal erotic romance!
Luna Bay is a book I originally published back in 2007. I haven't read it since I approved the final proof of it, and to be honest, I'm pretty scared of reading it. Angela, a friend I used to work with, read it a while back and assured me it isn't crap, but I'm still afraid. I wrote that book while my marriage was falling apart. My marriage ended within weeks of me turning in the final to my editor. I was also about two months overdue. It was the worst possible time to be writing a book. I remember thinking, as I struggled to finish it, "if I'm ever able to finish this book it will be my greatest triumph!"
Well, I did finish it. And it received some good reviews. But now that I've resurrected Adrienne Kama--so to speak--and am re-releasing many of those books, I thought it would be a great time to re-release Luna Bay and give it the TLC I was unable to give it a few years ago.
I didn't release this one with Ellora's Cave, so I'm not sure how many people even know it exists.
Now, when I read the blurb, I'm amazed at how subconsciously I wrote things from my own life into this book. For Belle, the man she loved fell out of love with her. She tried to win his love back, and in the process, ended up wasting many years of her life. So she wished for a new one. Literally. Up at the top of the book it says - and I love this - "BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT!" For Belle, she got A LOT more than she bargained for.
After eighteen years of marriage to an emotionally cruel husband, Belle Harris realizes she has wasted nearly two decades of her life with a man who does not love her. Newly divorced and forty-three, Belle wants another chance at happiness. An unexpected encounter with an eccentric book seller who claims to have a magical fix for her problems may be the solution. With nothing to lose, Belle speaks enchanted words that send her eighteen years into the past to relive her life. Unfortunately for Belle, the eccentric book seller not only sends her back in time, he sends her to an alternate universe teeming with supernatural beings, malevolent warlocks, and sexy as sin lycan. Belle is not prepared to face the challenges that await her in this new world. Neither is she prepared for her body s immediate response to the sensual lycan warlord, Anwar.
Anwar Thomas has sworn allegiance to the ruling family of his wolfpack, and until recently, peace has reigned among his people. The emergence of the sinister lycan, Derq, and his bid for control has divided the inhabitants of Luna Bay. Making matters worse, the body of a lycan male is found in town. The last thing Anwar needs is distractions. But once he sets eyes on the sultry beauty, Belle, he s hard pressed to control his desire for her.
Sexy Excerpt - WARNING - This excerpt contains adult language and imagery
Belle walked past the second floor bathroom and paused in front of Kevin’s door. The music wasn’t coming from there. There was another room in the opposite direction, but Belle didn’t bother going back that way to investigate. The music was coming from in front of her, not from behind. She’d thought there were only three bedrooms on the second floor. Somehow she’d missed the fourth room. Now that she was in the hall looking, she could see the door to the fourth bedroom at the end of the hall, and from the noise coming from the other side, she figured she’d found the source of the music.
She crossed the hall, listened at the door for a few seconds, and then knocked. The door swung gently open, but not onto another room as she’d expected, but onto a wide, outdoor walkway. The moment she stepped outside she could feel the cool night breeze rising off of the sea and smell the fragrant scent of the ocean. The moon was a large crescent in the sky, shining brilliantly from above.
Apparently, this house was even larger than she’d realized.
Various, overstuffed lawn chairs and lounges were positioned around a large table. Candles were set on tall stands and upon the walkway wall, but none were lit.
On the other side of the walkway was an open door. Loud music blared from within. By now she could tell it was hard rock of some sort. The singer was squealing about something or other, trying to be heard over dueling guitars and drums.
More curious than before, she walked to the door, intending only to pull it shut, then go down and let the dog in. Maybe she’d get a little peak inside, but just a peak, nothing more.
She stepped into the doorway, bent inside to clasp the doorknob, then gasped.
A man. A man unlike any she’d ever seen, was in a corner of a sea blue bedroom doing pull-ups. And he was naked. As naked as the day he was born. But as far as she could see, his body didn’t have an ounce of baby fat on it.
His shoulders were wide and such a creamy shade of milk-chocolate that she had to crush a sudden desire to walk to him, press her lips to his hot flesh and run her tongue along his succulent curves.
Muscles rippled as he worked, every complete circuit was accompanied by a low, masculine grunt that made Belle’s insides roll. His skin was slick with sweat. Beads of moisture glided over his shoulders, down his spine and into the crevice between his butt cheeks. Watching that slow, seductive trail of dampness trickle over his body made Belle a little light-headed. Her heart raced, she began to pant, and she couldn’t pull her eyes away from the delicious tableau for all the tea in china.
She could see his face in the full-length mirror set into the wall in front of him, and his face was as perfect as the rest of him. Deep brown eyes were narrowed with concentration, and his dark brows were furrowed. Save a light dusting of stubble on his chin, his skin was smooth and unblemished. He had a wide mouth, and temptingly full lips. Lips she suddenly wanted to taste.
His chest was as muscled as his back and tapered down to narrow hips. He was as perfect as the man in her dream had been.
She had to swallow before she let her eyes dip lower, before she found out just how perfect this stranger really was.
Her eyes slid down, past his hips to his strong thighs, over his hairy skin to his flaccid penis. She bit her lower lip as she stared, feeling dazed. Her body was rousing as it hadn’t in years. Desire, pure and unfiltered, had her nipples hardening into tight buds.
Even at rest his size was impressive. His shaft lay against a thatch of curly dark hair. From where she was standing, she could see it was thick, with skin that looked silken and soft. She wondered what a man like the one in this room, who was so well endowed, could do to a woman like her; a woman who had gone without the attention of a man for more years than she could remember. How fantastic could he make her feel? Would he be a selfish lover like Stan, or one who sought to see that she took as much pleasure in sex as he did. Like the man she’d dreamt about that first night after she’d made her wish. That perfect, beautiful, imaginary man who’d made love to her.
Biting her lip harder, she refocused on the tender flesh bobbing between his legs. The engorged cockhead, the thickening shaft, his…
She blinked, got another look at the body part in question. It wasn’t lying docilely against the man’s thigh anymore but hard and swollen.
Her jaw sagged. She forced her eyes up, past the reflection of his tight abs, beyond his nipples, his wide shoulders, and to his face. “Oh,” she chirped in a high, panicky voice.
Get a glass of wine, put on Kim Waters, and get ready for some good reads!
I'm a huge fan of paranormal mysteries/urban fantasies, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite authors here for anyone who is looking for a great, paranormal read.
Kim Harrison - http://www.kimharrison.net/
She writes urban fantasy about a witch who solves murder mysteries. Great Series!
Juliet Blackwell - http://www.julietblackwell.net/
She writes paranormal mysteries, also about a witch who solves murder mysteries. Her reads are a little lighter in tone, but just as excellent. Juliet Blackwell is one of my favorites!
Heather Blake - http://www.heatherblakebooks.com/
She writes paranormal mysteries. Ha! I didn't realize this until now, but her series also features a witch. Guess what she does? She solves murder mysteries. Awesome series. Her books have a cozy mystery feel.
I just discovered Patricia Briggs this week. She's been a bestselling author of urban fantasy for years, but she's new to me. Her heroine is not a witch, but a walker. She can shift into a coyote. The world building is excellent. It features walkers, werewolves, fae, and more! http://www.patriciabriggs.com/
Any paranormal authors you'd like to share? Please feel free.
A question I get asked a lot is, why I choose to indie publish despite having written for traditional publishers.
There's nothing wrong with traditional publishing. In fact, there are many awesome perks.
I may traditional publish again. But right now, I'm enjoying being the captain of my ship.
Writing for a publishing house often feels like I'm writing solely for my editor instead of for my readers. Editors and readers are concerned with totally different things.
Readers care about:
Editors care about:
Paranormal Mystery (new cover coming soon)
I could go on.
Writing a good story isn't always enough. For me, I got tired of submitting my story to editors and hearing back how much they enjoyed the book, the characters, the plot, but didn't think they could sell speculative fiction with a Black heroine. I heard that A LOT. And it's very frustrating to put months into a book, have people think you've told a good story, but to still have it rejected by publishers because the race of your lead character isn't "right."
I don't think publishers/editors realize ethnic women read genres other than romance. There's a lot of multi-cultural, speculative fiction out there, but it's hard to find. When I discovered Tananarive Due and how easy her books are to get, I was so excited! And I spread the word! You don't have to be Black to enjoy her books, you just have to enjoy a good book. She tells a scary story like nobody else!
So, by publishing my books myself, I never have to be told again how enjoyable my stories are, but the race of my lead character is wrong. I don't worry about that. I get to focus on the story now.
Things I've learned since I began indie publishing:
There are lots of great resources out there if you're thinking of indie publishing. Some of my favorites are:
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