South Dakota Series Gets a Facelift

First of all, the stories themselves stayed the same. I didn’t change anything in the stories.

Okay, that aside, here’s what I did do…

I’ve been meaning to go back and give the South Dakota Series a facelift for a couple of years now, and I finally decided this was going to be the year I was going to do it. I gave it new covers, new formatting, updated backlist of other books at the end, and two books got new descriptions. I made these changes on Smashwords and Amazon. Amazon will probably take effect first. Smashwords will send out the changes to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and its other channels.

I also just went through CreateSpace and updated the covers for the paperback editions. But this will probably take the longest to get through because I need to order the proof copies and then approve them.

Just so you know what series I’m talking about…

Here are the old covers:

loving elize   bid for a bride   bride of second chances

Here are the new ones:

Loving Eliza new cover5   Bid for a Bride new ebook cover   Bride of Second Chances new ebook cover2

So if you see the new covers and think, “Did I read those stories?” The answer is, “Yes, you probably did.” That’s why I showed the original covers. I remember covers more than I do titles when I look at other authors’ books. There’s something about the visual that’s easier to remember.

Anyway, the changes will take some time to trickle through. I just uploaded everything to Smashwords, Amazon, and CreateSpace. Smashwords will distribute to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and other smaller retail channels. So give this stuff time to work its way through the system.

Also, while I was at it, I decided to make my first boxed set. I asked a question on Facebook about boxed sets, and a lot of people were in favor of them. I’m sure those of you reading this already have the books, so there’s no reason to get this boxed set, but since I do have the boxed set made, I figured I’d show the cover.

SD Boxed Set Complete Series 3

I decided on pricing it at $4.99, and I put it on pre-order for March 31. The reason I’m doing a pre-order on it is to give myself some breathing room because I have to get ready for Make Believe Bride’s release on March 24. I have some things I need to get ready for that day. The pre-order on the boxed set will give me time to round up links to post them across my blog and website. Pre-orders are great for getting things ready ahead of time, which is why I do them all the time.

Anyway, I tried to make a boxed set with the Native American Romance Series last year, but it fell through because I couldn’t get everyone in my team to work together. So this time, I decided to take on the project myself. So, while this facelift of the South Dakota Series isn’t perfect, at least it’s done.

I plan to go back and give facelifts to old books, but that will take me a while because doing this series took me a full three days, which was longer than I expected. I need to focus on writing books. I’ll get to the facelifts as time permits. Writing the next book will be the priority.

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Books I’d Like To Write

This blog post is really a “thinking out loud” type of post. The best way for me to figure things out when I’m sorting through ideas is to discuss it in a blog. Being a writer, I think it’s easiest for me to wade through things when I write them down. I’ve found talking about it helps somewhat, but writing it is much more effective.

Over the years, I’ve gotten questions about whether or not I ever plan to write certain books. Maybe it’s because we’re heading into a new year, but that topic has been on my mind lately. Unfortunately, time is a limited resource. At the rate I write, I average 9 books a year. That might sound like a lot. The truth is, however, it’s not. I currently have about 20 books on my To Write List, and I’m only able to work on 3 of those right now. I think 3 is my limit. I’ve tried to do 4 at a time, and it’s not feasible. Maybe once all of my kids are out of the house, I can do 4, but as long as they’re living at home, 3 is it.

Here is my list at the moment:

What is already finished…

1. Make Believe Bride (Marriage by Fate: Book 3) is already uploaded and on pre-order for March 24.

2. The Marriage Contract (Marriage by Fairytale: Book 1) is with my editing team. This is estimated for an April release.

What I’m currently working on…

1. The Perfect Wife (Misled Mail Order Brides Series: Book 3) has just begun. I’m currently on Chapter 4. Natalie hasn’t found out Mark had lied to Tony and Velma yet, but she’s going to soon. I know she’s not going to be happy with him, but honestly, I don’t know HOW mad she’s going to be. That’s up to the character. (I gave up long ago trying to tell my characters what to do or how to feel.) The publishing month is either June or July. I’m hoping for June.

2. I just started the first scene in The Perfect Duke (Marriage by Fate: Book 4). I can’t say much without spoiling Make Believe Bride (Book 3), so I’ll keep it there for now. The publishing month is probably going to be July or August. I’m hoping for July.

3. One Enchanted Evening (Marriage by Fairytale: Book 2) will be started later this week. Again, I can’t say anything without spoiling stuff from Book 1 in this series. I expect this one to be out either late August or September.

So that leads me with what books I’m looking to write for the rest of this year…

Obviously, the first order of business will be finishing up the series I’ve already started.

1. I’m hoping to write Annabelle Larson’s romance in Book 4 of the Misled Mail Order Brides Series, even though she’s not going to be a mail order bride). Originally, I was planning on a trilogy, which is why I had three women come into Omaha to be mail-order bride. Annabelle is Tony and Mark’s younger sister, and since she fits into this series starting with Book 2 (The Rejected Groom), this series would be a good place to put her story. So this would put me in the September – October range for publishing.

2. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a Book 5 for the Marriage by Fate Series, but if I do, I’d like to make this Miss Duff’s book. Who is Miss Duff? Remember in Married In Haste when Lady Eloise convinced a new member of Ladies of Grace to ditch the gentleman she wanted because he didn’t have a prestigious enough title for her? Well, she did ditch him. And now she wants him back. However, I don’t know if it would work well for this series, or if I should bump her to a new one. This would probably be in the October – November range. If I learned nothing else from last year, it’s that publishing anything in December is like watching a boat sink as soon as it sets sail. It’s always best to wait until January. I think people are just too busy in December, so it makes for a bad month to release a book (at least for indie authors.)


So I guess for this year, I’ll probably publish 8 books instead of 9. That’s not bad considering they’re all going to be full-length novels.

When I started this blog post, I thought I was going to be able to start a new series at some point this year, but I don’t know if that will be the case unless Miss Duff starts a new one, but if she did, I don’t know if I’d write it right away. I have a feeling she will be in Book 5, but I don’t want to say for 100% until I know for sure.

I’d like to get another book out under my pen name. I don’t know if that’s possible or not. We’ll see.

I will attempt one novella this year…

I know a couple of you want another Dave and Mary Larson story, but I’ve also gotten feedback from people saying, “No, not another book featuring them.” So that’s why this one keeps getting pushed aside. If I can make this between 20-30K words, I’d probably do it. So I’m working on some ideas. I know going in that this is going to be one of those niche books, but I do like the idea of writing it because I love Dave and Mary and because I personally know the people who want to read another story. So I’m going to try it. No promises though. If I notice it’s getting too involved, I’ll cut it.

A look further than this year…

Now we’re looking into my 5 Year Plan

1. Someone asked if I’m going to write more Larson books, and the answer is yes. After I finish with Richard and Amanda Larson’s children, I want to write about Tom and Jessica Larson’s four girls. Remember that story I started called Mail Order Husband that I had planned to make the start of the Fort Benton Series? Well, I decided I’m going to slip this book into the Larson family instead. So this will start a series featuring Tom and Jessica’s daughters.

At the moment, I don’t have ideas for the other Larson kids, so that’s why I’m going to Tom and Jessica. Something tells me Tom is going to make a fun father-in-law for four very lucky heroes.

2. I want to go back in time in the Regency Collection back to the very first series I wrote, which is Marriage by Scandal. Anyone remember Lord Roderick, Lord Edon, Mr. Christopher Robinson, and Lord Clement? Yeah, I’m going that far back.

Over the years, I’ve gotten requests to write Lilly’s story. Lilly was Lady Roderick’s sister. (Lady Roderick is Claire.) Lilly almost married Lord Hedwrett, but Claire and Christopher managed to convince her not to do it. So Lilly didn’t, and I’ve been thinking it would be nice to finally write her story. Her story would start a new series.

Some have also asked for Lord Pennella’s story. I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if he’s redeemable or not.

3. I’d like to finish the Montana Collection. Shane’s book is due out at some point, and unfortunately, I have so many other projects, it keeps getting pushed back. But this is in my plan.

4. I do plan to do the rewrite of the series Stephannie Beman and I started with The Stagecoach Bride. I got almost 20,000 words into the rewrite of that book (The Outlaw’s Bride). Then I stopped because I realized I couldn’t do 4 books at a time without driving myself crazy. Since this book is going to be free, I need to be on better financial footing before I can finish it. So it’s on hold. Afterwards, I will write the other books in this series.

5. I also plan to rewrite His Brother’s Wife that Stephannie and I had started (but never published). We got about halfway into it when we couldn’t figure out where to go next, so we had put it on hold. Since Stephannie decided she didn’t want to write romances anymore, I bought the rights to that book (and The Stagecoach Bride and the series) from her so that I could continue them.

6. Hugh and Vivian (from Her Heart’s Desire, which is Sally Larson’s book) will get a story at some point. I’m waiting for the right time and the right plot.

7. I’ve gotten questions about writing Billy’s story. Billy made his appearance in An Unlikely Place For Love. I rarely ever hear anything about that book, but when I do, it’s usually followed with a “Will you do a story on Billy?” I’m currently listening through my books on my Kindle a little each night when I go to bed. I’m doing this to refresh my memory on characters, what’s happened, etc. When I get to An Unlikely Place For Love, I will try to mark the timeline of when this book takes place and where it might link to other books I’ve done. I’d like to pair him up with someone in the Larson family. I think one of those characters would be a good match. My mind needs to incubate on this one.


There are other story ideas and characters who will pop up as I continue writing. I used to think that I’d run out of ideas, but it seems the more I write, the more ideas I get. So there will be more added to this list as time goes on. I’ve rambled on long enough.

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Hard Decisions

I hesitated to write this blog post, but I remember back when I published Return of the Aliens, and I had said I planned to make the serial episodes of that book free. Except when I realized that in doing so, I would probably get a lot of emails asking me to write more sci-fi Christian thrillers. Whenever I give out a book for free, I end up with people asking for more books in that series/genre. And I didn’t want to keep writing more sci-fi Christian thrillers. I wanted to stick with romance because romance is what I love most. The problem was that a couple of people were upset with me since I never came out and said I had changed my mind. (Since then, I have run promos on Smashwords where I offered the book for free during one of their sales week. I’m running one right now for Read an Ebook Week. Here’s the link. The sale ends on March 10.) Just please don’t ask me to write any more of these types of books because I don’t have any desire to write another sci-fi Christian thriller…at least not at this time.  I apologize for not addressing the issue sooner. Looking back, I realized I should have addressed it on this blog at the time I published it.

Which is why I’m going to be upfront about doing a price change to some of my books.

I’m going to have to raise the price of new releases. 

This will start with The Perfect Duke and One Enchanted Evening. The new price will be $3.99. (The Perfect Wife, Make Believe Bride, and The Marriage Contract will still be $2.99.) So this is something I’m slowly phasing in.

This was a very difficult decision to make. It’s not one I wanted to do, but I have to pay the bills and provide for my family (I have four kids) while also paying my quarterly tax voucher payments. My business is set up in such a way that I didn’t get a corporate tax break. About 43% of my income goes to taxes when you factor in Federal and State, and I’m paying based what I made the previous year. (I was hoping for that tax break so I could keep on pricing new releases at $2.99.) I don’t think any author really discusses this stuff. If they do, I’ve never seen this addressed in a post. Usually, I read about lousy royalty rates from traditionally published authors or how much money some self-published authors are making. No one seems to dive into the realities of this business. (If someone has, I’ve missed it.)

Anyway, since I have been losing money for the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to boost the income back up without upping the price of my books. Unfortunately, none of these worked. (Yes, I have run some ads, but I can’t afford a lot of them. I have to be careful with what I buy. For example, an editor will always come before an ad.)

First, I made an attempt to write shorter books so that I could get more books published. My thinking was that if I could get novellas (25,000-30,000 word books), I could make up for losing income. Publishing more books would mean more money, and more money means I could keep pricing my books at $2.99.

This, unfortunately, did not work because every single story I wrote wanted to be in the 50,000-70,000 word range. That seems to be my natural writing point. I even tried plotting to keep the story as simple as possible with The Bride Price, but the characters changed the last half of the book on me. I had to toss the plot out and go the way the story was leading. Since then, my word counts have been over 50,000. Married In haste was at 65,000 in first draft. Editing brought it to 63,000. The Rejected Groom finished at 58,000 but was edited down to 55,000. Make Believe Bride was 68,000 when I finished the first draft. Editing brought it down to about 65,000. The Marriage Contract finished at 71,000, but editing brought it down to 68,000.

So this is the problem I’m facing. It’s very hard for me to write a novella. I have done it a couple of times, but most books end up being novels. In order to tell a complete story, I’m the kind of writer who needs higher word counts.

Second, I considered putting new releases in KU.  KU (Kindle Unlimited) at Amazon pays for pages read while boosting rankings (thereby offering better visibility to everyone browsing for books). If an author isn’t in KU, they tend to get pushed back, and it’s harder to be found. This does hurt sales. Since 2011 when Kindle Select came on the scene, I’ve been getting pushed back so it’s been harder for new people to find me. Now, I will say it seemed to level out, but when KU came on the scene, it was another hit to my discoverability. I’m not complaining. I’m just explaining that KU has definite appeal to authors, especially romance authors since romance it popular over there.  I certainly understand why authors are in it. I also understand why readers pay into the KU subscription service. It is a really good deal for readers.  But the problem is that being in KU means I would only be able to put that book on Amazon.  I would end up excluding readers who buy from other retailers.

I know there’s the “You could just put it in KU for the first three months and then distribute everywhere afterwards” argument, but I’d feel like I was betraying my readers who buy my books on those other retailers if I do this. There are people who’ve been with me for years who don’t buy my books on Amazon. And both Amazon and readers from the retailers have offered me support and encouragement when I really needed it in the past. I know some of them by name and engage with them in emails and on Facebook. Even if the conversations don’t take place often, these people mean a lot to me, and I want to make my books available to them on the day they’re released.

Another thing that’s important to me is that I keep creating quality books. I know authors who can write faster than me, and they do a fantastic job. It is possible to write a book that is 50,000-70,000 words in a week or two and have it be a great book, especially if the author knows where they’re going when they sit down to write the story. For me, it takes longer. I can’t write a book faster than I already do without sacrificing the quality of it. My average is 1-1.5 months to finish a first draft. Granted, I usually write 3 books at a time, but when you factor in time to edit, format, and upload, I seem to average 2.5 – 3 months to get a new book ready from start to finish. In the end, I usually publish 8-9 novels a year. I want every book I write to be as good as, if not better, than the last one. I want to give people a story worth investing their time and money into.

I’ve rambled on and on, and it’s because I don’t want people to be upset when they see a price increase. I want everyone to be prepared for it. I know some of you are on tight budgets. I don’t know if this means you’ll have to stop buying my books, but if you can’t buy them anymore, I understand. There are no hard feelings on my end. Fortunately, there are a lot of books lower than $3.99 out there to choose from. I think one of the strengths of the market is that there are a wide variety of authors and price points to choose from.

Originally, I was thinking of doing $2.99 for the pre-order and then bumping it up to $3.99 on release day, but I distribute through Smashwords to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. Apple is great about changing things right away. Barnes & Noble and Kobo, on the other hand, can take weeks. Amazon is as quick as Apple, but Amazon requires price matching, so I can’t do anything on Amazon until the change takes effect on the other retailers. The pre-order special price idea I had just isn’t going to work.

Like I said above, The Perfect Wife, Make Believe Bride, and The Marriage Contract are at $2.99, and they will stay that way. I’m not changing those prices. The books I am just starting to write (The Perfect Duke and One Enchanted Evening) will be $3.99.  I haven’t decided if a new release starting a brand new series will be at $2.99 or $3.99. I do think having a lower price for the first book is a good idea. But we’ll have to see where the future leads.

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