Somewhere in the Middle

Looking back on things, it becomes obvious the answer wasn’t write for passion OR write  to market. The truth is, you need to find a balance between the two. You can’t do one to the exclusion of the other.

This past week, I experienced something of a crisis moment in a writer’s life. I’ve never been in this particular situation before, so I wasn’t prepared for how to handle it. When I started down this road of writing and publishing my own books, I wrote whatever came to mind. I never thought other people would read the books. I had written them so I could have a paperback copy on my shelf. Then I got into ebooks because I was going to get a Kindle and a Nook.

I’ve never been a plotter. I’ve always written whatever came to me, and somehow, the story just wrote itself out. Things were always neatly tied up, or, if there was a series, I knew something left unanswered in one book would end up answered in another.  This method lent itself to writing for passion. I was like a kid on the playground. I didn’t give any conscious thought to what I was writing. I was just playing and having a good time. That is what writing for passion is.  (Writing to market is having boundaries set up on the playground.)

Once I realized people were actually reading my books, I panicked. Suddenly, I had a responsibility to other people. It wasn’t just me I was writing for anymore. These days, most new indie authors assume they’re writing for other people. Their mindset is different from what I went into this writing gig with.

I don’t know how many authors who chose the route I did back in the “old days of publishing in 2008-2009” were thinking of book sales when they published their books on their own instead of going with a publisher. Back then, publishing your own books was seen as the option of last resort. It guaranteed you’d sell no more than 200 copies in the book’s entire life, which could outlive the author. Not selling means no one is reading the book. This means, there is no audience to write for. We were told indie publishing was doomed to failure.

So we flash forward to 2010-2012 when authors who were publishing their own books could actually find an audience. Suddenly, we had readers. And that meant when I sat down to write, I was now aware that other people were looking over my shoulder, judging what I was writing. I started to think about the market. I soon discovered that if I wrote more for the market, I got better reviews on my books. If you look at my early stuff, you’ll see a lot more 1 and 2-star reviews. I did learn what upset people and what pleased them. The more I wrote to market, the better the reviews got.

It was a natural progression that I moved more and more to the writing to market side. I didn’t want to disappoint people who read my books. I still don’t. No author sets out to piss off anyone who reads their book. It is, however, impossible to please everyone. That was a lesson I learned when I tried to change the Virginia Series from a historical romance genre to a contemporary romance genre. It turned out, I got emails and messages from people who preferred the series as in the historical genre. That was one of my biggest lessons learned: the people who matter most are those who I can please with my books. People who can’t be pleased because my writing doesn’t resonate with them are not the people I’m writing for. So I switched the Virginia Series back to historical and moved on.

In 2016-2017, I was in another state of panic (for reasons I already went into in other posts), so I went full over to the writing to market side of things. And in doing that, I realized that was burning me out. To sum up, I learned that writing for passion is very important. I hadn’t realized just how much until I started to actually hate writing.

So then I go full back over to writing for passion a couple of months ago. Yes, I feel like a ping pong ball in going from one extreme to the other. This writing thing is not as easy as some people make it look.

Anyway, my latest finished book, The Perfect Wife, went off to the editing team at the end of last month. These ladies look out for me. They do what they can to make my books the very best they can be. And a couple of them came back with the same concerns. I went into crisis mode because I’ve never been in this situation before. There’s usually something someone doesn’t like. Half the time, I’ll adjust it. If I happen to like it, I’ll keep it anyway. But this time more than one person had issues with the same things. And, to be fair, deep in my gut, I knew they were right. After getting over the shock, I sat down to revise the story so it’s more suited to the market. The changes turned out to not be as involved as I originally thought they were going to be. In fact, I had it all smoothed out within five hours (once I figured out what I was going to do). I thought it was going to take a lot longer. I’m actually much happier with the book now.

Yesterday afternoon as I finally had a chance to sit back and process everything that had just happened over the past week, I realized that there needs to be a balance between writing for passion AND writing to market. You can’t exclusively write for passion or write to market if you want a writing career. And I further suspect that each book will be different. Some books will be more toward one side of the aisle (writing for passion) while others will go more toward the other side (writing to market). All books, however, should be somewhere along the spectrum. The Perfect Duke is more toward the writing for passion side, and The Perfect Wife is more toward the writing for market side. I now realize each book will stand on a case by case basis. So that’s what I’m going to do. I will mix both approaches for what will make for the best story possible.

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Simplifying My Publishing Life

Today while I was re-formatting the Marriage by Scandal Series to put on Google Play, I decided to take those cleaner updated versions and make a Smashwords version for them. That way they would also be distributed to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, and other channels Smashwords distributes to.

While I was doing this, I realized I hadn’t gone in to update anything in the Kobo dashboard in forever. I have been updating covers of older books and revamping some old interior files over the years. It’s easy to do it through Smashwords because Smashwords will send it out to the other retailers for me. I’ve been doing this on Amazon, too. But I couldn’t remember which books I had directly up on Kobo. Out of the 80 books I currently have on Smashwords, I had put 24 of those up directly through Kobo.

Before I cause any confusion, all of my books have been up on Kobo all of this time.  But instead of going through Smashwords to get 24 of them on Kobo, I went directly to Kobo and published them there. What happened was that I kept forgetting which books I had put directly there and which I hadn’t.

I don’t know how familiar you are with distributors like Smashwords or the fact that retialers have their own platforms to upload books direclty to their store. But this has led to a common debate in the writer community. Is it better to use a distributor or to upload books directly to each retailer?

The main reason authors go direct is to make a little more money. Smashwords (and other distributors) take a small percentage out of the profits when a book is sold. I have no trouble with this. The distributors need to make money in order to keep operating. But some authors figure they could use the extra money. I don’t blame them. I have no trouble with an author who wants to keep a little extra in their pocket.

What I have learned, however, is that I am not the most organized person on the planet. It is way easier for someone like me to use Smashwords to distribute all of my books to other retailers for me. The only expections are Amazon and Google Play. Smashwords doesn’t offer distribution to Google Play. It’s easier to publish directly on Amazon since I would have to use a representative at Smashwords to distribute there for me, and I have a hard enough time remembering to keep my editing team updated on when they can expect my next book (thereby securing a slot in their busy calendars). So remembering to contact a representative whenever I had a book to publish or update on Amazon wouldn’t work well for me.

So anyway, I’m currently looking for ways to simply my life so that I can be more efficient.  I had about ten or so books directly up on Barnes & Noble via their Nook Press site. A month or so ago, I had decided to remove those and use Smashwords to upload the books over there for me. I forgot to mention that on this blog when I did it, but I’m sure the books are all over there by now. Kobo was the next logical step.

I’m going in small steps so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

I wanted to give everyone a heads up on what is going on in case you are at Kobo and see some of my books not there. They will be there. If you notice something that isn’t there in two weeks, let me know and I’ll look into it.

The good news is that it’ll be easier for me to make updates to older books so you should be able to download the new versions. On Apple, I do this on my iPhone by going to the the “updates” thing in the top of the iBooks page where books I have purchased are listed. Kindle seems to do this automatically in about a month’s time. It’s been ages since I used a Nook, and I don’t yet own a Kobo device. I want to get a Kobo device after it connects up with Walmart. I’m not sure how updates are done on the Nook or Kobo devices.

I will say one good thing about uploading these books to Google Play. It’s given me a reason to reformat my older books so that they look a lot better. I don’t do anything fancy when I format. My motto is keep it simple, especially since I don’t know what other people’s reading devices look like when they open my books. As long as my books are clean and neat, that’s what counts.

I will continue to work on updating older books so that the formatting is better and the covers are better. I’m not going to touch the covers a wonderful reader had done for me back in the early days when I was just getting my feet wet in publishing. That person really blessed me by making those covers for me, and I’m keeping them because whenever I look at them, I think of her.

As a side note, I am keeping the pen name Barbara Joan Russell. I like to dabble in other genres from time to time since it keeps my creativity going. I don’t plan to do a lot of books under that name, but when I get an itch to write YA thriller/dark fantasy, that name will satisfy it. I use Draft 2 Digital for that one because it helps separate out what I do under Ruth and what I do under Barbara. I know it’s another frying pan in the fire, but it helps me keep the two different names organized. My first focus will always be on Ruth since I love writing romance the most.

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Updates

I figured I should do an updates post since a lot is going on. 🙂 It’s nice to have my energy back for writing. Giving up the “writing to market” thing was the best thing I did in a long time.

The Perfect Duke’s release date is July 21!

The Perfect Duke Ebook Cover

I finally got it up all the retailers, including Google Play. I’ve never done a pre-order on Google Play before, so I’m hoping it’ll work like it does on the other retailers. I’ll speak more about this book in another post, so I’ll give the links on where you can find it.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Smashwords

I have more books up on Google Play!

The Viscount’s Runaway Bride (Marriage by Bargain: Book 1)

20160607_The_Viscounts_Runaway_Bride

Google Play link

The Rake’s Vow (Marriage by Bargain: Book 2)

20160709_The_Rakes_Vow

Google Play link

Taming The Viscountess (Marriage by Bargain: Book 3)

taming-the-viscount-ebook-cover

Google Play link

If It Takes A Scandal (Marriage by Bargain: Book 4)

if-it-takes-a-scandal-ebook-cover

Google Play link

~~~

His Wicked Lady (Marriage by Arrangement: Book 1)

His Wicked Lady ebook cover

Google Play link

Her Devilish Marquess (Marriage by Arrangement: Book 2)

Her Devilish Marquess ebook cover

Google Play link

The Earl’s Wallflower Bride (Marriage by Arrangement: Book 3)

the earl's wallflower bride ebook cover

Google Play link

Over the next few days, I’m working on the Marriage by Scandal Series.

Now for Books I’m Currently Working On…

The Perfect Wife is with my awesome editing team!

The Perfect Wife Ebook Cover3

Reserve your copy today!

When I get it uploaded to the retailers, I’ll post the official release date soon. Right now, it’s in the final stages of being polished up.

I’m around the halfway point at this point for this book:

One Enchanted Evening ebook cover

Reserve your copy today!

We’re at the point in this story where things are starting to get really good. Our heroine thinks the worst is behind her, but her past is about to catch up with her. Don’t worry. There is a happily ever after ending for her, so all the pain I’m about to put her through will be worked out for the best. I find the more a character has to struggle during the course of the story, the better it feels when they have their happy ending. Maybe that’s just me, but the stories I enjoy most are the ones that go through a huge range of emotions. And sometimes the darker a story gets, the brighter the outcome is.

That all being said, I also love writing comedy which is fun and light, and the next book is a good example of one of those:

The Imperfect Husband ebook cover 6

Reserve your copy today!

I just started chapter two, so there’s a long way to go, but I’m looking forward to joining Annabelle and Ben as Ben disguises himself as a woman in order to be-friend Annabelle and find out what she wants so that he can win her heart.

This will also be a romantic comedy:

Kidnapping the Viscount Ebook Cover

I’m also starting chapter two in this one. I already brought Lord Toplyn (aka Logan) from Ruined by the Earl into the story, and I gave an update on his wife and children. That was fun, and I think those of you who’ve been with me all this time will enjoy it.

***

I’m going to end this post here since it’s getting long. I just remembered that I didn’t make a July post for my newsletter blog yet. I’m not sure I’ll get to that today. I’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow. I have the four kiddos at home with me for summer, so it’s been a lot of interruptions around here. Believe it or not, I started this post this morning around 10am. Now it’s after 3pm. Time flies when you’re having fun. 🙂

Posted in Her Devilish Marquess, His Wicked Lady, The Perfect Duke, The Rake's Vow | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment