Thursday, January 29, 2015

Next steps after week 2 of At HIS COMMAND release

My books have been available for two weeks. Tracking sales and Amazon rankings is interesting (though I try not to check too many times a day). Sometimes the numbers go up for no reason I can see. I didn't take out an ad in the New York Times, nor was I aware of any significant publicity, yet one day I sold more than twice as many books as I did on my release day, when I assume relatives and friends were kindly supporting me by buying. And what makes numbers drop, or not increase on a day when I do have publicity, such as a post on what considers one of the most popular romance blogs, Love Romance Passion?

I paid my formatter to add both versions to iBooks because I've been reading so much about its increasing popularity, yet have sold the fewest there so far. I have difficulty navigating iTunes to view and learn about iBooks, so maybe others do, too.

I'm still seeking reviews and guest blogging opportunities. Blogging scheduled so far includes SlingWords on 2/4 and Romance Bandits on 2/5. I also have my first event as a published author on 2/4. I'm awaiting the Publishers Weekly review, and I hope a couple of others.

It's time to focus on next steps. I'm tweaking manuscript #2, set in 1455. And I need to get it to my editor soon and start in on the cover....should I feature the hero, heroine, the couple, or not have people on it? Keep the castle theme, or include something else medieval?  Will I do two versions going forward? Reupload already released books after add some great reviews, and/or  an excerpt of my next book? These are just a few of the decisions on this indie published author's mind. The jury is still out.

I need to make more time to pursue acting again, though I had a VO job this week, a print casting and submitted for a few projects. New plan: I'm going to divide my day in two or even three parts so I'm not deep into revising, then abruptly changing focus to submit to an audition, then switching again to follow up on a promotion opportunity. Because so many hours a day can be spent on my computer, I'll also fit in some movement breaks.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Week After Release Day

My release day January 21 was so much fun, including a celebration later in the evening.  

Highlights of the first week include:
  • Getting an email saying that Publisher's Weekly has selected the Historical Romance Version for review (out of thousands of submissions). They also said there's a small chance the review won't be published. Assuming it is, I think it'll be in PW and on BookLife, their indie publishing site. Of course I'm hoping they say good things....
  • Romance Writers of America asked me to write a new monthly column for their eNotes e-newsletter called Author Experiment Case Studies. I featured mine, publishing two versions of the same book, this week. I look forward to seeing what other author experiments I come across and how well they worked.
  • The USAToday HEA Romance Unlaced blog by Madeline Hunter for which I was interviewed to feature both versions was shared on Facebook 127 times, tweeted 60 times (including a tweet to HEA's 14.6K followers), and posted 9 times on LinkedIn.
  • Making Amazon's Hot New Releases lists with both versions in their respective categories.
  • I guest posted on the topic "When are you done," at Seekerville, one of Writers Digest's top 100 sites for authors, and enjoyed chatting with the commenters. And I was asked to guest on another romance blog...awaiting details. 
  • Receiving my print copies in the mail. Holding the book you wrote, with your name on it in huge letters is wonderful.
  • Amazon suggested I might like my own book.
Lowlights include:
  • Frustration trying to figure out how to upload the print versions to B&N and iBooks (which sends you to iTunes and is generally un-user friendly).
  • Not being able to instantly satisfy those who wanted to buy my book in a store. I haven't worked on that because of the time it takes that may not yield the desired result. If I'm fortunate to get good reviews from valued sources, they might pave the way on a difficult path.
  • Time management. I enjoy guest posting on blogs, but writing different posts for each and requesting spots can be time consuming. Chatting with commenters is a lot of fun, but the guest should check in often throughout the day, which can be distracting.
What's to come? Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

AT HIS COMMAND now available in paperback & print!

There's only one first release day for every author. Back in the day, you might go to a bookstore to view your book on an actual shelf, and maybe you'd sign the stock. In these digital days of indie publishing, my release day yesterday was online.

An exciting development was my interview in USAToday's HEA Romance Unlaced blog written by bestseller Madeline Hunter, Seeking shelter from the heat? So far that's been posted to Facebook over 100 times, tweeted 56 times and posted on LinkedIn 9 times.

Supportive friends and colleagues tweeted, shared, posted and commented on Facebook, and informed me of their purchases.

I spent a lot of time on social media and email, and participated in Marketing for Romance Writers' #MFRWHooks and meet the #MFRWauthor promotion.

I refreshed my sales reports and Amazon Hot New Releases every so often, and was thrilled to watch both ebook versions climb in their respective categories throughout the day, and though they went online later in the day, the print versions showed up on the lists, too. As of this writing, AT HIS COMMAND-Historical Romance Version is #21 in Medieval Historical close to making it to the first page. And the Inspirational Version is #39 in Historical Inspirational Romance. Will they climb higher? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AT HIS COMMAND Release Day! + #MFRWHooks + USAToday HEA

I'm thrilled to announce that both versions (one inspirational, one not) of my medieval romance novel At His Command release today! And I'm excited to join my first Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop. Finally, I'm honored that Madeline Hunter interviewed me for today's USAToday's HEA Romance Unlaced blog about hot or not historicals.

Could she defy her king for love?

England 1453: King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.

Nicholas has no interest in marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. He’s surprised to finally find in Castle Rising a place he feels at home. A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart. 

 At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a new husband for her, a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

If you're so inclined, purchase the Historical Romance Version (some love scenes, no faith element) here.

Book Hook:
Norfolk, England — April 1453

     Sir Nicholas Grey’s scout leaned forward in his saddle, holding up two fingers to let the others know two horses approached. Nicholas heard only the slight jangling of harnesses blended with wind rattling through the trees, but relied on his scout’s uncanny ability to hear what no one else could.
     He and his eight men sat alert, deep enough in the forest to avoid being seen while maintaining a clear view of the road through leafless branches. Nine armed men could frighten travelers. ‘Twas best to let them pass.
     Each man watched, each horse sinking deeper into chilling mire as a mud-covered, black palfrey plodded over the rise in the road, its long mane whipping in the frigid winds.
     “No rider,” Martin, the scout, murmured.
     “Look again,” Nicholas replied. 
Can love and faith surmount duty and royal commands?

England 1453: Sir Nicholas Gray planned to go on a pilgrimage after fighting the French, but King Henry VI sends him to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, Amice yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control. Mutual interest and affection grows, yet serving opposing factions seeking to rule England threatens to pull them apart. 

At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a new husband, a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide political connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival, who she believes should rule? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

If you're so inclined, purchase the Inspirational Version (mild/sweet with a faith element) here.

Book Hook:
       At first he too thought the horse was riderless. Now he could see a woman collapsed on the animal’s back. Her black hair draped down its withers, mingling with the horse’s mane. The palfrey placed each step as if trying not to jostle its burden.
     Another horse, a brown rouncey ridden by a thin, balding man, galloped after the palfrey. A look of triumph brightened the man’s face as he spotted the horse ahead of him. He bent forward, extending his hand. Fingers like talons grasped the woman’s tangled hair.
     “Mine!” he cried.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Preparing for Release Day 1/14

Next Wednesday, January 14, will be a huge day for me. I'll be crossing over from the land of the unpublished in fiction (I've written the non-fiction book Find Your Inner Fabulous and many articles for trade journals and newsletters) to having 2 versions of the same novel published and available for sale. The culmination of a 20 year journey toward publication.
I hope to return to preparing book #2 for publication, but at the moment I'm working on getting the word out about my releases. I guest blogged at Romance University, will be at Seekerville on 1/19 and SlingWords on 2/4. That night I'm really looking forward to participating in my first event and book signing as a published author: Guilty Pleasures – What Romance Publishing is Really All About. I'll be joining fellow RWA members P.E. Calhoun, Margaret Watson, Allie Pleiter, Robyn Bachar, Shannyn Schroeder, Elizabeth Harmon, Julie Ann Walker, Hanna Martine and Emma Gates.
I enjoy blogging. However, each guest post needs to be original content, and the guest is expected to check in throughout the day to interact with commenters. That's all a lot of fun, but leaves me less time and brain space for the next book.
I've been researching review sites and places to consider for advertising, and spent too much time tweaking my new Facebook page header on a fun graphic design site, I'm finishing and double-checking the multi-step process of uploading for Barnes & Noble e-books and CreateSpace print books.
There are still so many things I want to do that I'm trying not to fill my calendar with too many social gatherings and obligations. Even with the -20 windchill, I'm making some time to go out. And additional time away from my computer.
How will next week go?  Stay tuned....

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Relinquishing one dream to fulfill another....

Since I started writing with purpose (with the goal of completing manuscripts, not merely writing a few pages here and there) when I got my first laptop in 1994, since I joined Romance Writers of America and attended my first conference in 1996, my dream has been to publish with a traditional publisher.

 My heart lifted each time I got a request from an agent or editor, then sank a bit each time I received one of what's now hundreds of rejections for the 12 fiction (and one non-fic) manuscripts I completed, some even for partials after industry professionals expressed interest via queries or appointments.
I kept writing and submitting through many ups and downs. I gave workshops on persistence, including one with Jennifer Greene after we discussed across the airplane aisle on the way to a national conference whether it was just as hard to sell your 50th book as it was to sell your first. 

I've even been rejected in person, more than once. An editor talked with me in the lobby for a long time at a conference, basically to deliver the news that she liked the latest project I'd sent but didn't love it. And that that was the hardest rejection to give, because she couldn't tell me what to change. After she left, friends were eager to hear what she'd said. Because in our experience, editors didn't spend that much time with an author unless she/he brought some sort of good news or wanted to discuss a project in depth.

I've received more than a dozen revision letters from assorted editors and agents for assorted manuscripts. I made the requested changes, but they didn't love them enough. One ms won a national contest, a different one was runner up in another. Five more manuscripts placed in or won a bunch of chapter contests.

Despite so many "close-but-no-cigar" moments, many friends got published, and I kept believing I could, too.

I know many authors are doing well or very well via self-publishing and also enjoy the freedom. A few even walked away from traditional publisher contracts, while others chose "hybrid" publishing...some traditional, some self.
After so much time, effort and money, it's difficult to let go of my traditional publishing dream. I wanted to see an actual publisher's name/logo on the spine of at least one of my books so much it brings tears to my eyes even now that I won't. I wanted to have an editor on my team...not a freelance editor I had to hire, but one who paid for my work and wanted to help make it better.

It's less than two weeks until my books officially release on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. As I bid farewell to a 20-year dream, I'm looking forward to having my books on sale at long last. And work toward another goal, to join PAN, RWA's published author network. Will I earn enough to meet RWA's requirement of $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel or novella that meets the definition of Romance Fiction? Stay tuned....