Author Stuck at Home

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Here’s the latest news from my little office at home:

  • The virus is everywhere and more and more people are being told to shelter in place. I’ve been sheltering in place for years, but such is the life of an introvert.
  • I’m escaping the depressing World News by working on edits and rewrites in book 4, The Souls of Witches. I am trying to keep to a reasonably productive schedule.
  • It seems as if every author has discounted their books in a desperate attempt to get people to read instead of spending hours watching shows on the internet. I’m not one of those authors. My book discounts ended on March 31st and I don’t know that earning less than 99 cents per ebook download will keep me fed during the month of April. I don’t think $3.99 is too much to pay for an ebook. And the $7.99 for the Darkly Boxed Set cost less than if you purchased all 5 of the Darkly books separately.
  • I am, however, spending what little money I can spare on a new round of Facebook ads in the hopes of boosting my book sales during the month of April. If you see them please share them to your Facebook Feed and help other readers find their new book boyfriends!
  • I’ve got 2 house cats, 2 dogs, and two men in my house and underfoot right now. Yikes! That’s why I drink every afternoon.
  • My oven isn’t working. We’re waiting for a new heating element to arrive in the mail. So, no bread making. Sad cause it seems like the rest of the nation is baking homemade bread right now and I like to be apart of a movement. LOL
  • Because I can’t do any book signings or appearances in the near future, I plan on posting excerpts from The Love of Gods and The Fate of Wolves for potential readers this month. No decision has been made on whether any juicy parts will be shared.
  • Lastly, I hope all of you stay safe out there. Even a mild case of Corvid-19 can be debilitating.

Lugos above and Deegan below.

What am I going to do with Murmur when he arrives in June?

My books are sold everywhere.

Just click the link…https://books2read.com/b/mZByNy

A Thought Experiment

Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash

Here’s a poser for your brain…What will America look like after Covid-19?

If you think that’s a silly question or that it’s too soon to worry about any permanent changes to how Americans go about their day to day lives then perhaps, you should just sit this experiment out. But first, let me explain why I’m pondering these and other questions.

I write and sell books. This is how I earn money. And, I have two books scheduled for release this year; two very good books I’ve spent time and money on so that I can bring them to a reading public. Yet now because of Covid-19, some of my scheduled signings are being canceled, primarily the ones in March and April. I have yet to hear of any more, though I’m positive the email of cancellation will arrive in my inbox as soon as it becomes clear that life as we’ve known it has changed.

And let’s be clear, it has changed. What has happened in Italy will be our future. America is not prepared. And with stay-at-home orders coming out daily, we are learning how disruptive a pandemic can be. We’re also discovering just how fragile our economy is, how silly toilet paper hoarders are, and that some individuals are perfectly happy to ignore the warnings of scientists and doctors in the pursuit of their own personal wealth.

Based on what has happened thus far…

Here is a list of questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • In an economy based on capitalism and a service industry workforce, how are Americans going to make money if we continue to practice social distancing for more than a month? 2 months.. 3 months… 6 months?
  • Will the internet become the preferred way to shop? In essence, could every Mom and Pop business have their own Webstore instead of a brick and mortar storefront?
  • Will Take Out and Delivery become the new normal for restaurants in this country? If that happens, will the standard tip disappear?
  • If we can’t gather in large crowds for sports events, how will the NBA, NFL and other sports organizations reinvent themselves? Will Americans turn to virtual-styled sports entertainment?
  • Is access to the internet a privilege? Or in an ever more-dependent technology-driven world, should it be considered a utility?
  • After Covid-19, will higher education (College) go to online classes as a first choice instead of a last choice? And will that affect the cost of tuition?
  • Will health care become a right instead of a privilege in America?
  • After Covid-19, will parents have a deeper appreciation for teachers in this country? Will teachers get a pay raise?
  • Will home vegetable gardens, canning, and other self-sufficient skills become fashionable?
  • Will we stop giving those doomsday preppers the side-eye? I did, after trying to stock my pantry with more than just a can of soup and Oreos.
  • Will America tackle the question of universal basic income? Now that you can’t work, the idea isn’t so crazy, is it?

These are just some of the questions that I have been pondering while staying at home. And I don’t really have any answers. I guess, like you, I just have a lot of time on my hands.

I don’t know how I’m going to go about marketing my third book in June. Perhaps I can do a virtual book-signing through my website. Mmmm, perhaps. Or, I’ll roll the dice and pin all my hopes on online ebook sales. But whatever I decide, I will find a way to reach readers. They’re the reason I write the books and without them, I might as well stop writing.

At this point in time, there is no reason to assume that Covid-19 will act like the flu and that once the warm weather gets here the virus will suddenly disappear. It’s now making its way into India and South Africa, so heat may not slow it down. Health professionals are saying it might be a year before we have a vaccine. So, wash your hands. Wear gloves. Keep your distance. And enjoy your family while staying safe.

Oh, and read a book. 🙂

From the Design Chair

In the last few days, I’ve been glued to the graphic design chair. I’ve primarily been helping out a fellow author, Crystal Jackson… But that’s not all!

Hello Readers and Visitors to my author’s page! Let me give you a quick update.

In the last few days, I’ve been glued to the graphic design chair. I’ve primarily been helping out a fellow author, Crystal Jackson, with book cover design possibilities for her 3rd and 4th books. We have no idea if her publisher will accept the suggestions. I’m sharing the two she likes the most here because I doubt that they’ll be used…and the reason why is that my cover efforts for book 2 was dismissed out of hand by them.

Yet…now you know there will be four books in this series no matter what the covers end up being!

I also helped Crystal with a promotional sheet for both Left on Main (book 1), Right on Walton (book 2), and designed a poster for the upcoming release of her second book, so I’m counting that as a win! Check out her Heart of Madison Series. It’s lovely and she is a very talented writer.

*** ***

But, that’s not all!

The work I did for her inspired me to take a look at my own upcoming title. The Dreams of Demons is off to my fabulous editor, April, in just another week! So, I needed to get a jump on the promotional packet and update my website and the Legends of the Pale Series handout for the book signings that will follow. Dreams of Demons is due to be released on June 1st and I am so excited for readers to meet Murmur and Gabriela. Not only was this book fun to write but I also learned so much about Lugh and Murmur’s past and bromance that I hadn’t been aware of while writing The Love of Gods. It’s nice when characters let you in on their secrets.

What’s next you ask?

Well, my stint in the design chair is over for a time. I’ve got to do one more pass through Dreams of Demons this week before it’s sent to April…and then, I’m jumping back into writing book 5, The Tears of Demons.

And as always, thank you for all your support. I write these books for me but I am so happy to hear that readers enjoy them as much as I do.

Tarrant

Get Reviewers!

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

It’s no secret that being an indie author is just as rewarding as it is hard. If you’ve visited my site, you’ve read my posts about the upside of being an indie author…and the ones bemoaning my book marketing journey.

The Downside
The sites that promise to help me reach the bestseller list
The fee-driven promotional opportunities
The herculean effort to get reviews
And on…and on… and on.

But I also promised that if I found something that worked, I’d share it with my fellow authors. And I think I have come to a few conclusions over the course of a year…and that is…REVIEWS REVIEWS REVIEWS are the only thing you should obsessively chase once your book is published. On my sites Marketing Resource Page, there are several sites I have used and they are listed on that page. My newest find is Pubby.co

So why pay for reviews at all and is it ethical?

Yes, it’s ethical if you ask for an honest review. It’s ethical if you don’t violate Amazon’s review rules. And yes, you need to be prepared to pay for a steady stream of reviews so your book doesn’t languish among the millions of books listed on Amazon’s site.

Somewhere I read that out of every 100 people who read your book, only one will leave a review. I’ve come to believe this unverified internet fact to be true enough. It’s not that 99 readers didn’t enjoy your work, it’s that they don’t have time, don’t know how important it is to leave their impressions, or they think they’re not qualified to leave a thoughtful/real review. After all, they’re no judge of literary greatness! They’re just an average person who bought a 2.99 ebook. And the word review conjures up memories of book reports they did back in school. Who has that kind of time?

So yes, YES… YES… YES… !!! If you want to be seen, you need verified book review. If you want to influence potential readers, you need reader feedback. AKA Reviews.

So this is where Pubby comes in.

They’re the new kid on the block and their platform allows indie authors to list their book details and Amazon link for a monthly subscription fee of $29.99. This is a lower price than Dog Eared Review’s $40 (plus cost of ebook) monthly fee for one book review per month.

Pubby’s basic plan works like this… you list your ebook(s) and are given a number of snaps to begin. Snaps are their form of currency. You then spend your snaps every time you press the “get reviewed” button. Depending on what sort of review you are looking for, the amount of snaps it will cost you varies. For instance, a verified review for The Love of Gods by a Pubby reader costs me 2000 snaps. The Fate of Wolves cost me 1930 snaps. When you run out of snaps, you read books by other authors to earn more snaps. Pubby’s algorithm keeps you from reading an author who has read your book which prevents direct review swaps, and that is how they keep Amazon happy.

It’s a pretty simple idea. And is effective thus far. I’ve had my two books listed for six days during their 10-day free trial and have gotten 4 reviews. I also know that 2 more readers are currently reading my books, and they are looking for one more reader. I haven’t even begun to pay the monthly fee yet. That definitely beats Dog Eared Review’s plan.

Of course, you have to set aside time to read yourself in order to earn more snaps. How diligent you work their system is up to you and your schedule. I aim for the longer books who want verified reviews because I can earn over 2000 to 2600 snaps by reading it. I’m a fast reader and can devour a book easily in a day. I’ve listed my ebooks on a site where I know there are readers who are motivated to leave reviews. I’m going to read anyway, so it’s a win-win.

But let’s follow the money to be sure it’s an honest review I’m getting.

Because there aren’t any direct author to author review swaps there is no advantage to being over kind while posting a review. The author that reads your book isn’t an author you will get to read. And by the way, I did get a 3-star view to offset my many 5-star reviews on my book. Just wasn’t that reader’s cup of tea. It happens and you learn not to dwell on it.

Pubby is getting their money through my subscription fee, so there’s no pressure to give any author a five-star review if the book doesn’t deserve it. Pubby got their money. What do they care? By the way, I also gave a 3-star review on a book, though I have to say I am pleasantly pleased with the quality of the majority of the books I’ve read.

You work their system, earning and reading as much or as little as you want while offering your book as often as your snaps earnings will allow. And you can cancel your subscription at any time while not losing the verified reviews on Amazon.

Pretty sweet deal. Even if I only had time to read one book a month and receive one review per month, I’m still doing better than with Dog Eared Review.

If you are interested, give Pubby a try. Click on the referral link. If you sign up, I get a few more snaps.

Good luck out there!

Time for Something Special

February promo

To celebrate the release of the Legends of the Pale books to Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Rakuten Kobo, Apple Books, Thalia, Bol.ed, Scribd, 24 Symbols, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and so many more… I am discounting both books. Normally they are 5.99 but until the end of February, they will be available for download for only 1.99. This special is already in effect on Amazon and will begin at all other online bookstores on February 2nd.

There has never been a better time to discover the world of the Pale. Learn what it’s like to be loved by a god or manage a house full of male werewolves. Each is a stand-alone novel and will not disappoint.

Just follow the Universal link. New online stores are being added daily so if your preferred merchant doesn’t appear yet, it will soon.

The Love of Gods

The Fate of Wolves

To keep the party going, I have also scheduled a March promotion for the Darkly Series Boxed Set. Instead of getting all five books and three dark short stories for 7.99 …in March the entire boxed set will only be 2.99.

March promo

These are the romance books that started it all. They are full of magick, legend, and myth. Five couples, five loves that defy time, and secrets that only the gods keep. Settle in and learn all there is to know about the fey and their court.

The Darkly Series Boxed Set

Book Marketing and the Indie Author

I know what I know…and I know what I don’t know.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

A few days ago, I and a fellow author sat down with someone who wanted to make a living writing. Our listener was a young aspiring author, soon to graduate with her degree in journalism. After talking and answering her questions about our experiences and the industry as a whole, I realized that without meaning to, I’ve become something of an expert in the realm of indie publishing. The two hours we spent together simply flew by and our captive pupil left with far more information than she ever wanted to know.

I know what I know, but I also know there is so much left to know about how to be successful in this changing industry.

I can, and did speak for hours on the importance of writing that first flawed draft. Don’t stop to edit it. Just write it. Get the story out. There’s plenty of time later to edit and rewrite. I know that it’s the act of writing that makes you a better writer and that your first book is only the beginning of your education. Writing a full-length book teaches you how to craft a story with a clear beginning, middle, and an end. It teaches you pacing and form. It also teaches you that every word on the page isn’t golden or even necessary.

Editing, proofreading, and formating play a huge roll in the success of your book. It’s worth the time and effort to find a support network of readers, editors, and proofreaders that will help you polish your manuscript. It still might make it to publication with an error or two, but that often happens to traditionally published books as well. I know that your cover design and title are crucial in catching the eye of a potential reader. Your indie book must be indistinguishable from other traditionally published works so that the stigma of being an indie author doesn’t have the chance to work against you. Because, let’s face facts, the stigma arose and persists for a reason.

And then, there are the marketing plan choices that must be made. Here’s where I sound like an expert but I realize that I have yet to crack the code to this all-important and mysterious step.

It’s not that I don’t know what to do. I’ve read every article on the web about book marketing. What to do. What not to do. Articles that might be entitled; the five fatal mistakes every new author makes, what you should be doing before you hit the publish button, the importance of author branding and networking, establishing your email list early, the correct marketing strategy for each social media platform, and how do you choose a price for your ebook…along with so many more. The point is, I’m overflowing with information and established methods for reaching readers. And yet, I still don’t know how to rise above the general marketing noise of millions of books flooding the marketplace on a daily bases.

And I know I don’t know.

I blog. I do book reviews for fellow indie authors. I have a social media presence. I share marketing resources with other authors. My books are professional looking and well-edited. I have even managed to garner a few awards. I write in a very popular genre. I give books away and discount my ebooks on occasion. I have a mailing list. I beg for reviews. I have paid for promotions, ads, and joined Facebook groups. The point is, I have followed the advice of all those articles and yet I haven’t hit on that combination of methods to boost my sales into the stratosphere.

I’m not here to complain. I love what I do. I love my author-life. I realize that my books might never be bestsellers. I would like them to be, but that might not be in the cards for me. I love my books and characters. The fact that those that follow my writing love them too is perhaps success enough.

This leads me to the most important advice I gave my young audience..and it didn’t have anything to do with the nuts and bolts of writing or marketing.

And that is…

You have to love what you write because that manuscript will forever be apart of you. You will be talking about that book for years to come. You have to love it because this industry is hard on dreamers. You have to love your work, your story, your book, because others will dismiss it, reject it, and overlook it. You have to love the work because you will read it over and over again during the editing process. No one will read your words more than yourself. No one will talk about your book more than you. You have to have the faith of a true believer.

I love my books and characters. They are forever apart of me. I love what I do though I am not a bestselling author. And, if I ever figure out the secret marketing combination to make me one, I promise to post it here.

Until then, I’ll keep writing.

A Quick Review, No Chaser

An Unwilling Bride: A Medieval Highland Romance is the first book in a series by Avery Maitland. It’s sold only in ebook format and strickly through Amazon. It has a cliffhanger ending. I know some readers hate cliffhanger endings, but if you know there’s one when you begin reading, it’s far less jarring.

This book was a quick read, a single afternoon, and exactly what one would expect in a highland romance. Managing expectations is key when reaching for this type of book. Never does the author attempt to elevate the story to something more than a trade book romance. And sometimes, that is exactly what a reader wants. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake. And that is why these types of romances have always been popular.

This book has just enough of dinnae, lass, aye, and ye in the dialogue to allow a reader to imagine the Scottish brogue without it overpowering the story. If you are an Outlander fan, then An Unwilling Bride will help satisfy your craving for all things Scottish.

The characters are predictable but well-drawn. The writing is solid and the story fast-paced. I wished the book had been longer, more detail given about the time and world. But again, that’s not the sort of book this is.

The only real negative I have to share has to do with Catriona’s character. She’s presented to the reader as being fiery and headstrong, quite the opposite of her older sister, Morag. But at times, Cat’s actions and reactions to events puts me in the mind of Maureen O’Hare in The Quiet Man. She’s constantly over-acting her part. There’s no subtlety to her character at all. After a while, her stubbornness becomes annoying. And because she refuses to accept her situation as Lachlann’s wife through the majority of the book, when the pivot in the story happens, it feels rushed.

That in itself is probably too much criticism for this book, but I can’t help but feel like the author sprinted to end of Cat and Lechlann’s story in order to set up the beginning framework for what will occur in book 2.

Will I jump into the next in this series? Perhaps, but only to follow up with Morag’s character whom I found much more appealing.

So here’s my humble opinion…if you searching for a little Highland romance with tartans, raids, and muscled men brandishing swords then An Unwilling Bride is a nice way to spend a cold winter’s day.

Isn’t it Difficult Enough?

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I’m sitting here in front of my computer and trying to gather my thoughts so that today’s post doesn’t come off as a rant or a whinny bit of complaining. So bear with me as I debate whether the word I should use is bear or bare. And wonder overly long if I can I really begin a sentence with and or the occasional but.

Writing is hard. There are so many grammatical rules. Some of which are firm and unbreakable. Others feel more like guidelines because language and its usage is in a state of perpetual change. Lately, pronouns seem to me to be under attack. I often see one-word sentences and I no longer find page-length paragraphs in books or overly long Faulkner-like rambling prose. The preferred style of writing seems to be clipped, almost abrupt. Text-like.

As a lover of prose, I read with two minds. One as a writer… I would have said this if I had written it. I would have changed that. I can’t believe this got passed an editor. Is it past or passed? I know the author meant through but though is clearly on the page. This author loves commas. Or, where the hell are the commas!

But if the story is good and the characters are compelling, I read as an average reader might. Suddenly I don’t see the mistakes unless they’re glaring because their isn’t the same as they’re or there and it occurred in an important scene between the characters.

I usually don’t comment on errors in general when I write a book review for an author. I don’t because I know that the industry has changed. Many traditionally published books are full of errors. And no matter how they choose to publish, the authors are struggling with the same difficulties as I am. They’re human and have poured their imagination and heart into the writing of a book for the entire world to see and judge. And being so close to their own work, their mind simply can’t see the mistakes anymore.

Excellent writing doesn’t come naturally. It takes honing. It takes work and reworking. Writers agonize over word choice. Pacing. Sentence structure. Tense. Point of view. Should a story be told in first-person, second, or third. Only after the work has been edited and re-edited do writers begin to struggle with shaping their work into an accepted format for others to view. An editor has their preferred style of working through a manuscript. An agent or potential publisher will want to see the manuscript in a very specific format as well. And still later, the actual book’s format (ebook or print) will differ from both of these pre-published states. A lot can be overlooked during this process.

So when I begin reading a book and manage to get out of my writer-mind that knows too much into a reader-mind, I know it’s a good book.

I also feel a connection to an author who has published a book full of errors because I’ve already lived through that moment in my writing career. I have to admit the raking over the coals I received from a few less forgiving readers was absolutely brutal! I think at this point I’ve recovered, but the memory still stings.

Sometimes a book full of errors is because there was a rush to publish. Other times it’s because the editing, proofing, or formating was given over to an outside source that didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t care. Either way, it’s a painful learning lesson and my heart goes out to any other author who has or is dealing with such a thing.

It is hard enough creating the work, no matter the genre. That act of creating something from nothing takes courage. Even with the flaws, whether few or many, an author has given a piece of themselves to the world…to a reader. And that, my fellow book lovers, deserves to be celebrated and encouraged.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” (Confucius)

A Quick Review; No Chaser

Purchase it HERE! (universal link)

The Water Princess Claiming of Earth is the first book in the Elemental Chronicles by Gina Manis and it was my first ever reverse harem book. Oh My!

So where to begin…

Firstly, Gina Manis weaves an engaging story. There are strong folklore and fantasy components to her world-building; beautiful princess cursed to appear as a hag to others, ogres, magic, and so much more.  In many ways, this book is an adventure first and a romance second. It’s also a story told in first-person. I should pause here and say that I’m not a huge fan of the first-person perspective. I find that choosing that method of storytelling sometimes results in a choppy and abrupt feel to the sentences. But, that is a purely subjective reaction on my part and Manis’s prose and ability as a writer manages to rise above my personal objections.  

Because this is a no-spoiler review, let me say that Celine’s character was likable, capable, and more than just a little naive in her expectations of bonding with her three male rescuers. Managing one man’s ego is difficult enough, but three? Tate turns out to be an old love and is an earth element. Lindon is charming and seductive, a wind element. Brier is the seasoned warrior whose water element is broken. Then there’s Brown. Fairly soon I realized that Brown wasn’t what he appeared and by the end of the book I was rewarded in my suspicions. After all, in the world of magic there are four elements not just three.

I easily read this book in a day. By the end I was ready to download the second in the series, The Stolen Princess Taken by Fire. However, according to Amazon it is still on pre-order until January 21st so I guess I’m stuck having to wait to find out what happens to Celine next.

If you like fantasy romance, you will enjoy The Water Princess.