The Books I’m Writing at the Moment

I’m happy to say my current works in progress are coming along better than I had expected. I thought I’d share what is going on with them.

First, I wanted to say this is the definitive order of the Marriage by Obligation Series:

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

I decided to drop The Duke’s Return, which was originally supposed to be Book 5 in this series, because I don’t have an interest in writing it. I realize some people will want a certain character in Secret Admirer to get his story, but there’s no plot idea that sparks my interest with him. I’ve had to say “no” to a few projects in the past because I didn’t find anything exciting enough to write about for a particular character. It just is what it is. I can’t force a story that isn’t there.

So anyway, this is the complete list of books for the Marriage by Obligation Series.

Now onto the stories themselves…

Midnight Wedding

I am 16,000 words in, and there’s already been an old bloody settee found in the attic. (This becomes important later in the story.) This story takes place at the heroine’s family estate, so the main characters are in a secluded environment. The main characters are the heroine, her two brothers, and the hero. There is only one servant available due to the heroine’s family’s financial ruin. Lord Quinton is the answer to their prayers. I thought he would be upset with being kidnapped and whisked off to marry the heroine, but he developed affections for her in Secret Admirer and is quite agreeable to the match, though he’s not all that excited they didn’t think to take any of his clothes with him when they kidnapped him.

I originally introduced Lord Quinton in The Cursed Earl. He’s the character who is obsessed with good and bad luck. I brought him back in Secret Admirer, which is due out March 2023, and he’s still convinced that he needs to tip the balance of luck in his favor. He is the right character for the gothic story I’ve been wanting to tell since 2020. So far, the humor is strong. But I already know what these characters are going to find in a remote area on the property, and the subject matter will turn dark. Something terrible did happen at this estate back in the 1600s, and these characters are about to uncover it.

I originally thought I should tone it down since this is a romance, and I know a lot of romance readers don’t like dark elements in their books. But then I decided this is my story, and if I want it done right, I need to do it this way. I have to write this for myself. If people don’t like the direction it goes, then they don’t have to read it. I’d say it’s going to be close to The Duke’s Secluded Bride. So if you are fine with that book, you’ll be okay with this one. But if that disturbed you, skip this one. That all said, there is still the humor that will help to lighten the mood. Lord Quinton’s reaction to things and the fact that the heroine’s older brother thinks Lord Quinton is the oddest person he’s ever met will help balance the darker elements.

The Earl’s Jilted Bride

I don’t know if anyone remembers that duke I was planning to get rid of who was supposed to come back. I wrote that post a while back. Anyway, my original idea for this series was to introduce the duke in Secret Admirer. He was betrothed to Lady Carol, but he resented being fixed up to marry her so he was supposed to run off. She was supposed to end up with someone else instead, who then would die, and when the duke returned, he was supposed to make things right. But honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. The plot felt stale and boring. So after taking time to figure things out, I went a different route. I decided to have news of the duke’s suicide come out at the end of Secret Admirer, thereby setting up the events for The Earl’s Jilted Bride.

In the suicide note, the duke makes it clear he is killing himself so he doesn’t have to marry Lady Carol. Lord Wright, who desperately needs a mother for his two-year-old daughter, jumps at the chance to marry her. Since she can’t imagine anyone else taking her, and since her guardian is threatening to run her to a convent, she accepts the marriage proposal. I introduce Lord Wright and Lady Carol in Secret Admirer, though they don’t meet each other until this book.

I’m only in Chapter 5, so there hasn’t been much build up to this story yet. What I know are two things: 1) Lord Wright is not the girl’s biological father, but to save the family from scandal, he hides this fact. 2) Carol is going to be accused of murdering the duke. The fact that she’s going to be accused of murder can go in many directions. I won’t know how the others in this story will respond until I write those scenes. The fun part of writing is not knowing what will happen until you’re writing it out. This drives plotters nuts, but it works for me. I want to be surprised. I don’t want to know how things will play out in advance. This is why when I read how predictable my books are, I’m thinking, “They weren’t predictable to me.” Except, perhaps, the predictable aspect stems from the fact that these are romances, and in romance, you are guaranteed the hero and heroine will work things out and have a happy ending. If that’s the case, then yes, my books are predictable, because even I know this element of the story going into it. But how I get from the beginning to the end is always up in the air to me.

Worth the Risk

Anyone remember Reuben St. George from It It Takes a Scandal? He was the kid brother of Corin St. George (Lord Durrant). In the story, he ran out to his estate because he thought Reuben was seriously ill. Anyway, Reuben is now an adult and ready for his own romance. I bring Reuben and Corin back in Secret Admirer, but the emphasis leans more heavily in Reuben’s direction since he is the hero of Book 4 in this series. In Secret Admirer, he meets Miss Amelia Carnel. Amelia is Lord Wright’s sister. Since Lord Wright’s book is The Earl’s Jilted Bride, I am able to bring Reuben and Amelia in for quite a few scenes that will set things up for the events that take place in Worth the Risk.

Worth the Risk starts with Reuben coming down with another illness that scared Corin enough where he demands that Reuben leave London and return to the estate. Reuben, used to taking orders from a brother 15 years his senior and reasoning that Amelia should have a husband who is healthier, heeds his brother’s wishes. He writes a missive to Amelia explaining why he’s leaving, adding that he wishes things could have been different between them. Well, Amelia is not the kind of lady who is just going to let true love walk out of her life, and so she and her brother follow him out to the estate.

This story is going to have a happy ending because it is a romance. My husband thought I was going to kill Reuben off because he’s sickly, but I’m not going to use that all-too-familiar trope because, quite frankly, that trope sucks. The reason I love romance is that it’s all about hope. Even thought Reuben is sickly, the lesson is that we can’t stop living out of fear that we might die. We have to enjoy life. It does no good to hole yourself up from other people. A meaningful relationship is worth the risk (hence the title of the story). Meaningful relationships are what makes living worth it.

Naturally, this will create some conflict between Reuben and Corin, but I’m not the far into the story yet. I’m only in Chapter 4. There’s still plenty of things that need to happen before Corin finds out that Amelia’s with Reuben. Of the three stories, this one will probably have the lightest tone, though it will not be a comedy. Midnight Wedding will have the comedic moments that will border on comedy. Worth the Risk is more of a tender and sweet romance.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Realistic Expectations For Publishing

I came across this video from Wide for the Win, and I thought it contained many good points, so I’m passing it along. In this blog post, I’m going to give my reaction to it. 🙂

First of all, I’m very happy that the focus is on being wide. There are so many videos that cater specifically to Amazon. While I think Amazon is an important place to be, I don’t like the idea of it being the only place I’m on. I’m a huge proponent of putting your eggs in multiple baskets because you never know when one of those baskets will come through for you. I’ve been publishing since 2009, and sometimes I’ll see an unexpected spike in sales on a retailer that wasn’t doing much for months, or even years. My guess is that a reader on that retailer liked my book and passed the information on to their friends who happen to buy from the same retailer, and this led to a domino effect. I mean, I run ads from time to time, but these spikes came when I wasn’t promoting anything. But who knows what caused those spikes? I have no idea. All I know is that it’s nice when those surprise spikes occur, and it’s why I like to look at videos that feature a wide mindset.

With that aside, let’s discuss the actual video:

Income

I learned that only up to 14% of authors make $35,000 or more a year from book sales. I was shocked by this. I knew that a majority of authors aren’t making a living with their book sales. Most have to supplement their income another way. But I thought 30% of authors were making a living from their writing. I didn’t expect that number to be as low as 14%. Also, I was surprised to learn that most books will make less than $500.

This just shows how much of a bubble the writing community is. We are surrounded with stories of authors making a living wherever we go. We rarely ever hear about authors who are struggling to get by. When I browse books, videos, and articles catered to the indie author, I mostly see stuff like, “How to Make a Six-Figure Income”, or the people mention making a living with their work. So I guess it’s no wonder we think most authors are making a living with their books.

Book sales aren’t stable

I know I’ve pointed this out over the years on this blog, but I think it’s worth repeating since they brought it up in the video. My book sales have pretty much been a roller coaster ride over the 13 years I’ve been doing this. I’m glad the people in the video pointed out that sometimes it’s the market that is responsible for the shift. The example they pointed to was 2020. Book sales spiked in that time because a lot of people were staying home. Now, in 2022, it’s dropped off, probably because people are going out more. Stuff that happens in the world can impact our sales. It’s a relief to know we can only do so much. I think we tend to blame ourselves too much when we don’t see sales. Sometimes it really isn’t our fault. (And for the record, my sales have dipped this year, too. So I noticed the downward trend.)

Also, they mentioned that book sales can spike due to a genre’s burst of popularity (like with the vampire craze when Twilight came out). Personally, this is why I think it’s important to write what you love. If you developed started writing books that focused on what is currently popular, you might build up a readership for that. And all is well and good until the overall excitement for that genre fizzles. What if you didn’t like that genre? What if you only wrote it to make money? There will still be readers for that genre, but the number of readers will be less than before. So you’re making less money. Will you still want to keep writing in that genre? It’s hard to write something you don’t enjoy for the long term. I know of authors who’ve cried because they felt trapped. So they were stuck with two options: either they had to keep pressing on with that genre (and be miserable), or they had to develop another genre and hope it took off.

Know the expectations of your genre

The “Book 1 in a series at free” is a great strategy for some genres (esp. romance), but it sucks for other genres. That is something I’ve noticed from talking with other authors. I’m glad they mentioned it in this video because it’s important for authors to know that just because a certain marketing strategy worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. When pricing, I’d look at what the books in my genre are priced at. Readers of certain genres expect certain prices, and some don’t trust free books.

Also, they point out that different covers appeal to different genre readers. That’s a simple marketing strategy you have full control over. Look at the covers in your genre and see which ones resonate most with the readers. I think the cover is the most important part of the book’s product page because we pick up on images faster than we do words. If we can grab someone with the cover, we can get them to read the description.

A third thing I got from this video is that you do need to meet the “story expectation” of readers in your genre. This is a harder one for those of us who write for passion to agree with, but it’s just the reality of the business. I’ll give an example from my life. Once upon a time, I joined a multi-author boxed set with other Regency authors. Those authors knew exactly what most Regency readers want, and they wrote books specifically for those readers. I, however, have gone my own way from what most Regency readers enjoy. I realize this, but I managed to get some readers who were happy with my books over the years, so I thought nothing of joining the other authors in this boxed set. These authors all sold way more than I ever did. I only got into this boxed set because the person organizing it was a personal friend. Anyway, I did read the reviews on this boxed set, and every time someone mentioned my book, they 1-starred it. The other books in the boxed set might sometimes get a low rating, but most of the time, those other books got high ratings. I was the only author who was told (over and over in the reviews) that my book sucked. Why? Because I failed to make my book compatible with the other books in the set. I didn’t meet the expectations of the fans that these other authors had acquired over the years. I was relieved when the boxed set came to an end because my book was such a bad fit, and to this day, I feel bad for even joining. I knew I wrote “different” from the Regency norm, but I didn’t realize “how” different I was. So if you’re going to go with passion, it’s going to be harder to fit in because you probably won’t meet genre expectations.

Before I leave this topic, I want to point out something I especially liked in this video. It’s important to listen to your readers instead of other authors. Your readers are better equipped to tell you what works best for you. The example in the video had to do with covers, but I think you can listen to your readers about anything. Authors mean well, but they aren’t the ones who are reading your books. If authors are telling you one thing, but your readers are telling you another, it’s best to go with your readers’ advice.

Link to multiple retailers

This one is important if you’re wide, but so many authors don’t do it. I don’t know why. Okay. I understand why if the retailer is a small place that is not easy to find, like Thalia. (I’m in the US, and I don’t even know what country/countries that is based in.) But Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, and Scribd are big enough where you can do an internet search and easily find your book. If you upload through Draft2Digital, you can use their Books2Read link to send people to the retailer they prefer. I like listing the retailers out so that readers know I’m on different place. If they know one of my books is on Scribd, for example, they might search for other books I have other there. So why not make them aware you’re on more than Amazon if you’re wide? It could mean an unexpected spike in sales in the future.

To close

There were a lot of good tips in here. I couldn’t list them all. I think the video is worth watching. If anything, it should set your mind at ease that you’re actually doing things right. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

What I’m Doing

I’m happy to say that I’m finally done uploading my stories to Radish!

That was a project I thought was never going to get done. I just finished last night. I did hold off on two stories because I have a plan to price one of those books differently come January, and I’d rather have that price change go into effect before I put it on Radish. Otherwise, I’d have to contact someone at Radish to get the price change done. That’s an unnecessary step.

Now I have to go into my Book Catalogue and put in the Radish links on the stories that need them. While I’m at it, I plan to put in links for Scribd, too. I’m not sure when I’ll put the links in, but I’ll try to get them done before the end of this month.

I’m still working on getting the AI audiobooks up on Kobo.

I’ve been going in the chronological order that is on my book list, though I did break that to get the entire series in Husbands for the Larson Sisters because of Daisy’s Prince Charming which came out in July. I usually upload the audio files during the day when everyone is at school or at work. That way I don’t have to fight for a good internet connection. The audio files will time out if someone else is using up the internet.

To be honest, the process bothered me at first, but now that I’ve got a routine down, it’s okay. I’m tied to the computer during these hours that it takes to upload each book. It takes about 4-5 hours to get everything uploaded for one book if I keep at it, but during that time, I’m also doing laundry, cleaning a room, cooking, or doing something else around the house. I have also been doing some writing, which brings me to my next item on this “What I’m Doing” list. 😀

I’m working on the Marriage by Obligation Series.

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

I already have the first book done, but I’m just started working on the next three books. These books are all considered “on hold”. I won’t go into a political discussion on this blog, but I’m not very optimistic about how things are going in the country. Because of how uncertain things are, I’m hesitant to make too much out of writing these books. I am going to proceed as if the economy will hold up enough to get these out, but if things take a serious plunge, I’m not going to publish these books. We’ll see how things are in January. At that time, I’ll decide whether to put these out there or just tuck them away.

I haven’t done anything with paperbacks.

Paperbacks are probably the most time consuming of all tasks, and I don’t enjoy working on them. What I want to do is give my paperbacks an overhaul. Amazon used to own CreateSpace, and back then, the quality was excellent. But then Amazon got rid of CreateSpace and required authors to use the KDP dashboard to make paperbacks. Not only did they do that, but now when you order these paperbacks, the quality is not that great. The trim along the cover is “off”, and sometimes the pages aren’t straight like they’re supposed to be. (This is even for the books I made long ago in CreateSpace.) Draft2Digital is what CreateSpace used to be. Also, I have changed some covers since publishing the older books, and I wouldn’t mind updating that, too.

But all of this, like anything else, is going to take time. The downside to starting out in publishing back in 2009 is that you didn’t have all of the things to look professional like you do now. Back then, it was hard to get pictures that featured people in historically appropriate clothes, and it was hard to get books looking like the traditional publishing houses’ books. You also didn’t have the ability to create audiobooks, and your choice of retailers were limited. In 2009, it was just Amazon and Smashwords. (Can you believe that?)

I’ve been doing what I can to keep up with the times, but it has been slow going in some areas. Paperbacks is one of them. Today when I publish a book, I can take care of the ebook, the audiobook, serial format, and the paperback at one time. Today I can get a cover that fits the time period to a T so I’m not stuck changing covers later. Today I can get it on all of the retailers at one time, too. For anyone starting out in this business right now, I understand why you’re overwhelmed. There is a lot involved in all of this. I would rather be catching up on this stuff with my older books than having to learn all of this with the first book.

I’m officially caught up on registering all of my books with the US Copyright Office.

This one was a full-long summer project. I hadn’t realized how many books I didn’t register. 2020’s restrictions and lockdowns put a hold on this task, so there was a list I had to do. I had 13 books I hadn’t submitted yet. Also, when I went through all of my US Copyright Registration forms, I realized I was missing three books from the pre-2020 era. I’m glad I found them so I could take care of them. You never know when a copyright issue is going to come up, and you never know what book is going to be targeted.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments