Going Wide in 2020

Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

For the past few months, I’ve been watching my Kindle Unlimited stats and I’m not thrilled. Despite my marketing efforts, the hours I spend agonizing over tags and descriptions, and the promised advantages of being enrolled in Amazon’s Select program, I’m not seeing enough bang for my buck. Amazon arguably has the biggest share of the ebook market, but after a while, exclusivity becomes limiting and expensive for authors with more than one or two books to promote.

So after publishing 3 books in 2019, I’m faced with a fork in the road. I either have to stick to the Amazon exclusive program or go wide.

Going wide means offering my books everywhere books are sold online. It seems like a no-brainer, no? Actually, it is a more time consuming and longer road to travel for authors. It’s simply easier to remain exclusively with Amazon. But having all your eggs in one basket has its own set of risks. Amazon can derail all your efforts if they decide to drop some of your hard-earned reviews. (That happened to me early in my publishing career.) Or, if they change your genre or tags without explanation….like moving a romance book into erotica. (That has also happened to me. I got it fixed but it took a herculean effort on my part to get two of the Darkly books back into the romance category where they belonged.)

A lot of an author’s success in going wide has a lot to do with name recognition as much as it has to do with the quality of their books. More markets mean more time on social media, more ad placements, and pretty much just more of everything before you see any results.

I tried going wide in 2010 and 2011 with Smashwords and it didn’t really help me. Their platform was okay back then, but it wasn’t slick or exactly easy to use. And because that experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth, I’m going with Draft2Digital this time. The interface is easy, the graphics are appealingly modern and fast loading, and the support staff is wonderfully responsive to issues that authors run into while trying to market their novels.

The ability to make universal links for my books is probably my most favorite feature. With a single click, readers are given a choice of online bookstores from which to purchase the ebooks. So if you like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or others…it’s all there in one place to find.

For example, here’s a list of my books with their universal links.

Enchanted Darkly
Bound Darkly
Kept Darkly
Surrendered Darkly
Resurrected Darkly

The Love of Gods
The Fate of Wolves

If you’ve clicked on any of them, you’ll notice that Resurrected Darkly is on preorder and that The Love of Gods and The Fate of Wolves is still available through Amazon only. That will change at the end of this month once my three-month exclusivity commitment to Amazon is fulfilled. You will also notice that Draft2Digital and Books2Read has provided a landing page for authors. Not only do you get the book cover and blurb, but you also get access to the author’s bio and shown other books by that author. I have to say, it impressed me. That level of simplicity and professional design should help me keep my social media ads clean-looking.

The next step in my 2020 marketing plan is to create and publish an ebook box set for the Darkly books through Draft2Digital so readers can download the entire series at a discounted price. I hope it will encourage readers to try out this fey romance-adventure and breathe new life into a series that I love.

I’ve also gotten a firm deadline from my editor for The Dreams of Demons, book 3 in the Legends of the Pale series. So now, I can confidently begin laying the groundwork for its June 1st release. And at this point in time, I’m committed to the “go wide” marketing plan. More and more I’m finding that not everyone likes Amazon.

I guess that’s all I have to report today. Thanks for checking in with me here at the Chalkboard. I’m just getting back into the swing of things after taking time off from writing to be with family over the holidays. In the coming days, I’ll be posting several book reviews from my holiday read pile. Otherwise, it’s back to work on book 4, 5, and 6 of the Pale series.

May your 2020 be the best year yet!

Fighting Preconceived Notions: Romance

For some reason this week I’ve been running into the same wall. It usually begins with an eye-roll from the other person after I explain that I write romance novels.

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Ah, where to begin…

For some reason this week I’ve been running into the same wall. It usually begins with an eye-roll from the other person after I explain that I write romance novels. Somehow my being a romance author makes me less than in their eyes; less talented, less serious, less theme-based, less thought-provoking. Dismissable.

“Really? You don’t like things like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Anna Karenina, The Notebook, Time Traveler’s Wife, Outlander…?”

Before I know it, I’m defending the entire genre and explaining that my books aren’t like the princess driven trade paperbacks they might have read in their youth. The entire genre is now woke, where consent and diversity are addressed, and strong female leads are the norm.

If the conversation manages to get past the first roadblock, I’m then justifying the sex scenes in my books and that of other authors.

“Why do they even have to be there in the first place?”

That question usually leads to my explaining the very big genre differences between romance and erotica. Sex as a plot device versus sex for sex sake. I might even launch into a diatribe on the lingering dislike of romance as another subtle form of slut-shaming. Luckily, that usually only happens after a glass of wine…or two.

The final nail in my conversational coffin occurs when I explain that I write paranormal romance.

“Yes, paranormal.”

“No, that doesn’t necessarily mean vampire. It could mean ancient gods, werewolves, shifters, demons, or any other supernatural being.”

“Yes, I realize vampires aren’t real.”

“Oh, I’m sorry you don’t enjoy fantasy. Shame really. Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland. They really were fantastic books.”

At that point, the conversation is over. There’s no reason to explain the difference between paranormal and fantasy. They don’t understand me, and I don’t understand them. How do you live in a world without a touch of magick?

Ick.

I’d like to say that these conversations only happen with individuals of a certain age or gender, but I can’t. This week it’s been weirdly random. The fact that I’m running into it more at Christmas time than earlier this year is even stranger since this is supposed to be the most magical time of the year.

Christmas is when we should celebrate love in all its forms. Real or fictional.

So yes, judge a book by its cover and quality of prose but don’t limit yourself by genre. Take a risk. Try something new this season. You just might encounter undiscovered worlds and characters that find a permanent home on your bookshelves.

The Holidays are Here!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I have to admit that 2019 has been especially good to me. I’ve published a total of three books this year and have been allowed to devote all my energy to writing. The new Legends of the Pale Series has been highly praised by readers and reviewers alike which is a wonderful gift for any author. And, the Darkly Series is now complete a series of five books I can be proud to have written.

Literary Titan has been especially exuberant with their kind words and with their acknowledgment of the Legends of the Pale and Darkly books this year by bestowing Gold and Silver awards to many of them.

I do have one more book signing this year at the Madison Artist Guild on Saturday the 14th, but then I’m taking a short break to be with family before attacking the new year and the first draft of book 5 in the Legends of the Pale series.

Next year, I plan on attending several book festivals between book signings… and of course, books 3 and 4 will be released in 2020. Soon the Legends of the Pale books will be available at the Southern Pen Bookshop, in Monroe, Georgia. Be sure to check back from time to time for the latest news on my progress.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Tarrant

Soon my books will be at the Southern Pen BookShop in Monroe, Ga.