Updates On What I’m Doing

A New Chapter Might Open in my Life

Things are hectic around here right now because I spent the past two weeks getting the house ready to put up for sale. My time in Montana is coming to an end. It’s time to return to Nebraska. Of course, this is ultimately up to God. If He decides I should stay here, then things will work out so that I can’t move. If He decides I should go, then a door will open for me to go. I’ve finally learned that I need to follow God’s leading. I’ve been hit on top of the head enough by now to have figured that out. 😛 If God wills it, I’ll get another chance to live in Nebraska, and that would be an exciting prospect if it happens.

There is something about physical work and getting away from the computer that opens up the creative mind. I have this current Regency series I’m working on but no idea on what I’ll do for the next one. Then yesterday morning when I finally had a chance to get a good writing session in, I got the idea for Book 1 in a new Regency series. Today as I was writing, the idea has been getting fleshed out because the heroine’s brother in Midnight Wedding is the person I have the idea. Since I’m writing Midnight Wedding, more ideas for his story is working out in the back of my mind. My mind is blank on the historical westerns. I have a fragment of two different ideas, but sometimes those fragments lose their spark, and if there’s not a spark, I refuse to write the story.

I Made Small Progress in my Stories

This is probably the way it’s going to be for a while. I’ll be going at these books at a snail’s pace. My writing is going to be here and there. I have no idea how many books I’ll get out next year, so I’m glad I held off on getting Heiress of Misfortune out in January. That puts off the pressure of having to get to the computer so I can focus on any moving stuff I need to deal with.

Here is the Marriage by Obligation Series and the order of the books:

Secret Admirer ebook cover  Midnight Wedding ebook cover  The Earl's Jilted Bride ebook cover  Worth the Risk ebook cover

I managed to get up to 32,000 words in Midnight Wedding. Now we’re shifting into the second part of the book where things take an unexpected turn. I’ve almost completed 100 romances, and I’m just now realizing I have a second part within the middle of the story that marks the transition toward the end. How weird is that? Still, I wouldn’t want to bore myself by plotting a book out first. It’s more fun when I get to find out what happens as I go along. Like today, I discovered that something surprising that is going to happen in the course of this story. That “ah-ha” moment made me fall in love with writing all over again. I don’t want to know exactly how things will play out ahead of time.

I am at 22,000 in The Earl’s Jilted Bride. I have not hit the second part within the middle of the story yet. The heroine is still adjusting to her new marriage and has not been accused of murder yet. I have something that needs to take place before that happens.

I am at 19,000 words in Worth the Risk, and today while I was writing, I wrote out a nightmare scene our hero is going through. I didn’t intend it, but while writing, I picked out the elements in the nightmare and what they represent in the character’s waking life. This romance is turning out to be more psychological in nature than I expected. I guess my Psychology degree didn’t go wasted after all. 😉

Secret Admirer is still in the editing stage. My estimated release month for that book is March.

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Updates on What I’m Doing

I created a MeWe “The Indie Author Experience” group.

I noticed that MeWe doesn’t have a writing group that focuses on indie writing, publishing, and promotion. (If they do, I haven’t been able to find it over the past two years.) About half of the authors on that site seem to still want a traditional publisher or are brand new to writing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted a group dedicated specifically to indies and the issues indie authors face. I finally broke down and created the group myself.

Here is the link.

I’m still on Facebook and in those writing groups, but MeWe needs a group for experienced indie authors. I don’t know if anyone reading this is on MeWe, you’re welcome to join if you want. One thing is that I don’t want this group to end up being a bunch of “buy my book” posts, so no self-promotion is allowed. This group is dedicated to topics that indie authors face in writing, publishing, and promotion.

I’m still uploading AI Audiobooks to Kobo.

I’m finally in the Nebraska Series in my book list. This puts me at about 49 books to go. When you have a big backlist, it takes time to go through these things when you are uploading files one chapter at a time. I’m only putting up my romances, except for the Virginia Series. The Virginia Series has some serious flaws, and I’m not comfortable with it. I probably will never rewrite those books because there are always new stories to tell, and I’d rather focus on the future than the past.

I have gotten a couple of new paperbacks up through Draft2Digital.

Since I have some paperback interior files on my hard drive, I can get to some paperbacks up before next year. Last week, I worked on getting the complete Wyoming Series up in paperback. I don’t know if I’ll get any more done this week. There’s a lot going on around here, and I do want to focus on writing my next books.

Which brings me to where I’m at with writing. 😀

Midnight Wedding is halfway done!

I’m hoping to get to 30,000 words by the end of this week. There are some humorous moments in here, but yes, it does have that darkness to it. I’m figuring by this point in the story, you will figure out what that darkness is. I gave a heavy hint to it, but another big hint comes a bit later. I’ve already written a future scene for this book where the characters find a secret room in the manor. I got the idea for a secret room from a Fantasy Island episode I watched on Tubi. (These are the 1970s series episodes.) I had been debating how I would get from point A to point C in this book. In one of the episodes where the lady is trying to solve a murder, she stumbles upon a secret room. That’s when I got my answer, and now there is a secret room in this story. 🙂 Now I can go from where things are right now in the story to where they need to end up.

The Earl’s Jilted Bride is almost at the halfway point.

I’m hoping to get 22,000 words into this by the end of the week. Remember how I decided to kill off the duke in this series because I had no interest in writing that story? Well, that duke’s death will serve a good purpose in this book. The duke was supposed to marry the heroine of this story, but neither one wanted the marriage. At the beginning of this book, the heroine receives a suicide note from the duke. As a result, she marries the hero. So far, everything has been going great, but you know, things can’t get too great or else there’s no plot. Every story needs conflict. The conflict in this story will come from the fact that the heroine is going to be accused of murdering the duke. She doesn’t realize she’s been accused yet, but the detective in question has already talked to her and the hero without them realizing his identity. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop after they do realize it.

Worth the Risk is halfway done.

This one isn’t going to be as long as my usual books. I should get just shy of 20,000 words in this one by the end of the week. I figure this will be about 40,000 words when all is said and done. My usual book is 60,000, or just under that. I don’t believe in extending a story to make it longer. However long it’s going to be is what it’ll be. Sagging middles are not for me. So anyway, I reached the halfway point. The hero is sickly but not at death’s door. I will never write the whole “hero falls in love and then dies” kind of story. I want to be happy when I finish a book, not depressed. The main conflict of this story is more psychological than anything else. It’s about fear vs. hope. Corin will not be happy to learn that Reuben has gotten married. That’s the tension in this story. While Reuben’s brother means well by protecting him from illnesses (and potential death), he has also prevented Reuben from getting the most he can out of life. Life is more than just surviving; life is about the moments that bring you the most joy. That is the message in this book.

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Building Relationships with Readers

Today’s topic is not about making money. It’s about building relationships with readers. Building relationships with readers can lead to sales, but it’s not the focus of what you’re doing. So I wouldn’t go into this with the idea that you’ll make more money. The best way to make sales is to publish a new book, make the first book in a series free (especially if you’re in romance), or run ads. When you’re building relationships with readers, you’re building friendships. The friendships don’t have to be super close. They can be casual. But these relationships go beyond the “you’re an author and they’re a reader” stage. You’ll recognize them as soon as you see their name.

Here are some ideas on how you can find and build relationships with readers:

1. Be yourself.

I know this sounds simple, but this is the first step. You need to be who you really are. There’s no sense in trying to imitate someone else. I realize that some personality types have an easier time attracting people. There’s just something about them that makes you want to comment on their posts or email them. They have a strong appeal.

It’s not so easy for people who tend to be shy and awkward in personal situations to put ourselves out there. I am a huge introvert. It’s hard for me to communicate with people I don’t know that well. That’s why I take days (sometimes even weeks) to respond to blog posts and emails. I have to think about what I’m going to say. While writing a story comes easy, corresponding to people in real life doesn’t. I’m the person who will sit in the corner of a room and check the watch to see when I can go home. I’m not outgoing. Unless someone approaches me, I won’t talk to anyone. Over the years, I’ve learned how to be a great listener, but for the most part, I consider myself to be “boring”. There’s no real highs or lows in my life. It’s all pretty level, and “level” is not exciting to talk about. If you see yourself in this paragraph, you’re in the same boat I’m in. We need to be who we are, but we also need time to plan out what we’ll do. This makes going out and finding readers harder than it is for extrovert authors who can entertain people with their fun (and often humorous) posts.

If you’re the life the of the party in real life, finding readers probably comes easily to you. It’s a gift. Appreciate it because not all of us have it. 🙂 Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you still should be who you are. In order to build real relationships with people, you have to be authentic.

As a final note: I realize authors are busy people, and some use assistants to communicate with readers. I, personally, do not like this. If you are looking to build a sincere relationship with your readers, you need to be the one communicating with them. Even if you take longer to get back to them, it’s better if you are the one who is doing it. Anyone who takes time out of their day to say good things about your book deserves your full attention.

2. Offer a book for free and add links to where people can find you.

To me, this is the easiest way to find readers. You are letting readers take the initiative. Remember what I said about being the person in the corner of the room? Well, in this online simulation of being in the corner of the room, having those links on where people can find you is an invitation for people to come over and talk to you. The free book in this case is not about selling your paid books. This free book is there in hopes that someone will love your work and contact you. That contact allows you the opportunity to build a relationship with them.

So add links at the beginning or end (or both) of the book for your email list, your social media account(s), and your blog/website. I would put in all the places where I’m available so that they can pick the method of contact that is most comfortable for them. Some people prefer emailing directly, but others prefer to leave a comment in social media or your blog.

3. Have a contact form on your blog and/or website.

The reason I prefer a form to writing out your email address is because there are a lot of spammers out there who will put you on a list without your permission. This contact form is a good way for people to reach out to you in private. Be warned, though, that not all emails will be pleasant. Most will be. But there will be those few from people who want to complain about your books. I just want you to be aware of that in case you haven’t dealt with this yet. You can ignore reviews on a retailer. You have to see whatever comes into your inbox. You should respond to all of the good comments, even if it’s just to thank the person because I feel it’s important to let the person who took the time to contact you that you appreciate them. Words of praise are the lifeblood of every author and should be acknowledged. Also, I would answer any question that comes in. However, if someone is rude, you are under no obligation to answer that person. You might even want to block them, depending on how rude that person is.

4. Be active on social media.

In another post, I said that if you want to maximize your money-making potential, then social media is a waste of time. But if your goal is to build relationships with readers, then social media is ideal. Social media is like a party where everyone is going from person to person to chat. Now, as a general rule of thumb, I don’t like to get political on social media because you might turn off a reader (or potential reader) who has a different point of view that you do. You don’t want to alienate people who are reading your books, especially when we’re in an atmosphere that is highly charged when it comes to politics. I know a lot of authors will disagree with me, but when you’re an author in the social media sphere, you are representing your books. Unless you write political books or fiction with a high level of political leanings in them, I don’t see how this will help your author brand.

That aside, I have some suggestions that I have found helpful in building relationships with readers in the past. First, I hate to say it, but MeWe still doesn’t hold a candle to Facebook. Facebook is like Amazon. It has the majority of readers. I don’t know if MeWe will ever catch on, but I have heard authors having success on Instagram and TikTok. I’m not on either of those. I’m not on Twitter, either, but when I was, I really didn’t see any use for it with fiction. Twitter seemed to work better for nonfiction authors. Maybe it’s because Twitter was a good way of sharing articles, and posting articles typically work better for nonfiction. I did do very well with building relationships when I was on Facebook as Ruth.

The one thing that worked really well was asking questions to people in my timeline. The key is to get people talking about themselves. Since this is social media, you don’t need to stick with a certain topic. Even though I wrote romance, I could ask other things like, “What is the strangest repair you ever had to do to your house?” or “If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?” Then I would take the time to answer every single comment, and if that person mentioned something that sparked my interest, I would ask that person more questions. I ended up recognizing a lot of people by name, and better yet, I knew something about them afterwards. Sometimes these people and I would end up chatting on Facebook messenger. Other fun things was asking people to share a picture of something they loved or to share a gif that Facebook will let you post on how their day is going. There are many things you can do to get a conversation going, and a lot of these were fun.

Also, comment on other people’s timelines. You don’t have to reply to every post they make. Just comment on the ones that interest you. This way, you can reach out to them in a comfortable environment. You’re also returning a favor. They took the time to comment on your timeline. You can show your appreciation by commenting on theirs. Relationships work best when it’s give-and-take.

Another good thing were giveaways. Giveaways are horrible for making money, but they are wonderful ways to meet new people and to say “thank you” to your readers. I found that personal gifts meant more to people than a book or a gift card. These personal gifts took more time and effort, but they were worth it because I still remember the people who won those gifts. If I were to see their names, I’d know who they were, something about them, and what gift they won.

5. Your email list.

There are different ways you can do this one. I am so overwhelmed with all the things I have to do as a wife and mother while trying to take care of the writing and the publishing side of things. So I have opted to only send out an email when I have a new release out. But authors who see the most success from their email list usually do automated emails. I have no idea how to create these things. All of my emails have been manually done. That said, authors who say they see the most engagement with their readers say they will share stories from their personal lives, and they’ll share pictures of it. These don’t have to even relate to their books, but they can if you find the angle to it. One author who writes contemporary western romances said she runs a farm, and she’ll make an email about milking a cow or branding a cow, and she’ll share pictures. Another author I used to talk to said she would share recipes from what her characters made. Another author would just share funny stories about things that happened with her husband and kids. Some authors will share a story and ask if someone has anything similar to share. Some authors like to ask questions (like what I mentioned in the social media part of this post).

The key is to answer everyone who replies to the email. Authors who do more than email when a new book comes out do have a lot more engagement and a lot more subscribers. So I would say the more effort you put into this, the better your results will be. And that makes sense since that’s the way it is with everything.

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That’s all the ideas I have on this subject. If anyone has more ideas, I’d love to hear them. 😀

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