Swapping Out One of the Books on my “To Write” List for This Fall

I’m still planning on writing these books:

Marcy’s cousin’s book (This is a Regency.)

I finally decided to call The Duke’s Secluded Bride. (I don’t have a cover for this yet, but I have contacted the cover artist about working on it.) It’ll be Book 5 in the Marriage by Fairytale Series. This series has been my experiment in a more gothic type of setting, and I’ve been having so much fun with it that I’m reluctant to part from it. I don’t know if there will be a Book 6, but I know there will be a Book 5.

The Outlaw’s Bride and The Rancher’s Bride (These are historical westerns.)

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2  The Rancher's Bride ebook cover 2

These are Book 1 and Book 2 in the Wyoming Series.

I have to go back and reread what I’ve written so far of The Outlaw’s Bride because I haven’t touched this one in two years.

***

Now for the one I’m swapping out…

Okay, so the book I had to ditch was the historical western idea of the woman with the kid(s) who marries the guy with no memory. I do want to get to this story at some point because I like the premise.

But this is what happened…

I was on the Period Images website looking for a picture of the couple who best fit for historical western idea above. I find it a lot easier to write a book if I have the cover to look at. Anyway, I noticed that Period Images now has a gallery of pre-made book covers. All I would have to do is add the text, name, and/or series (or logo).

And as I was scrolling through the images, I found the perfect pre-made cover for Miss Lilly Lowell and Mr. Morris. They initially showed up in The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. Lilly was Claire’s superficial sister who wanted a to marry a titled gentleman for the prestige, and poor Mr. Morris had been desperately trying to get her to marry him. Now, I knew they would ultimately end up together, but the details always eluded me. I knew she would do something to trick him into marriage. I just never knew what the trick was or how things would play out. So I was unable to write the book.

After spending all these years looking for the right plot to come along for their book, I saw the pre-made cover on Period Images that made everything click into place. The title came to me, and then I thought, “That’s Lilly and Mr. Morris’ book!”

And I knew Lilly will end up doing a lot of things a proper young lady isn’t supposed to do in order to win the favor of Mr. Morris. I plan to bring in a single Lord Edon and a single Mr. Robinson. This book will take place between the events in The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife and A Most Unsuitable Earl. So we’ll get to see Lord Edon when he was playing the role of a rake, which will be a lot of fun. I love Lord Edon, especially when he’s with Mr. Robinson. I’m not sure what other characters I can weave in.

So far, I have a request for Lord Toplyn, and I think I can bring him in, though it’ll probably be in a small way. The main characters will be Lilly, Mr. Morris, Lord Edon, Mr. Robinson, and someone who is close to Mr. Morris (a friend, sister, brother, etc.). Anyone got any Regency character you’d like me to bring in? I can’t promise I’ll be able to do it, but I’ll try.

Okay, so now for the cover reveal:

Breaking the Rules ebook cover

A quick side note: I am currently rereading The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife where Lilly and Mr. Morris are introduced, and I chuckled when I realized Lilly was a blonde in that book. Stuff like that gets missed when an author’s been away from a book for a few years. I love the cover as is, and I want the woman to keep her dark hair in it. I’m going to have Lilly wear a blonde wig because she thinks blonde hair makes her more beautiful. That’s the way I’m going to explain away the different hair color. I’ll be looking for other little details during the course of reading through The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife.

Back to the post…

I have no idea if this book will be part of a series or a standalone. I’m going to write it and let the story lead me wherever it wants to. I’m tired of trying to come up with a series every time I start a book that is not #2, 3, 4, etc down the series line. I find it easier to relax and just write the story if I’m not worried about what happens after the book is done.

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Thoughts on Indie Publishing and The Value of Books

I read this quote in an interview Mark Coker did with Hannah Howe on Mom’s Favorite Reads that really resonated with me.

Traditional publishers judge books based on perceived commercial merit.  They want to publish books that will sell.  That’s how they stay in business.  This means there’s a strong inclination within traditional publishing to measure a book’s worth based on sales.  This leads publishers to take fewer risks on unknown authors.  It leads them to publish more celebrity drivel.  It causes them to reject books that serve smaller audiences.  And it causes them to trade short term gains for long term losses.

As far as I’m concerned, this quote could be easily applied to indie publishers. An indie publisher is someone who publishes their own books. In my opinion, indie publishing has become traditional publishing all over again. In the indie world, sales are the big topic. The main question is, “How can I sell a book?” instead of “How can I write a good book?”

I get what Mark is saying. He’s pointing out that traditional publishing only publishes books that are going to make money. And he’s right. Back in 2009 and 2010 when I went to writer’s conferences, agents and editors of publishing houses admitted that a lot of great stories were rejected based on the fact that they couldn’t market it to a wide enough audience. They would rather take a book that was mediocre if they knew how to market it to the biggest audience possible because, at the end of the day, agents and editors needed to be paid. It wasn’t personal. It was just business.

When I look out at the current indie publishing landscape, I’m seeing the same theme all over again. “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” This is why some authors in the community have gone against their ethical beliefs. They have preached one thing for years, and suddenly, they changed course. They’re now doing things they once told other authors not to do, and they do it because of money. Then they justify their actions by saying, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.”

Sometimes I miss the “good old days” of indie publishing. This was when most people looked down on self-published authors. (This was back in the 2008-2010 era.) The criticism didn’t bother me. I was publishing what I wanted, and it’s a lot easier to enjoy writing when your main concern is telling the story the way you want (rather than letting the market—aka the widest audience possible–tell you what to write). The best thing about this time period was that other authors who were indie publishing had the same mindset I did. We were doing it for the love of writing. We were excited to bypass the publishers and see our books in the world, exactly as those books were meant to be. Meanwhile, all of the writers concerned with money and respectability kept submitting to traditional publishers. Unfortunately, we’re not getting those days back any time soon, and it does make it difficult to stay focused on the passion side of writing when you’re surrounded by people telling you to treat it as a business.

I’m tired of a book’s value being measured by how much money it brings in. I’m tired of authors comparing themselves to other authors, and I’m tired of the rat race where we’re all expected to make a certain amount of money every month if we want to be seen as “equal” to those who are “important” in the indie community. A writer is one who writes. It shouldn’t matter how the book is published or how much a book makes. Each book has value.

Now, Mark does say that each book has value. One of his goals as the founder of Smashowrds is to help authors figure out how to use best marketing practices in order to get more sales. But if that’s all someone reads in the interview he did at that blog, then I think you missed the bulk of what he’s saying.

The main meat of the interview is really based on the emotional well-being of the writer. He discusses things like how to be happy, pursuing your dreams, and other things that go beyond writing. I found the overall interview to be very inspiring. The best news is that writers have control over their emotional well-being. Sales are out of a writer’s control, and to focus on something that is outside one’s control isn’t a good idea. If sales are the things we strive for, then our well-being is dependent upon other people, then we’re going to be let down. We need to focus on what we can control.

I really like what Mark says here because it helps to put a book’s value in perspective:

My view is that if your book has the potential to change one person’s life, your book is just as important as some New York Times bestseller.  Even if that one person is your mom, son, daughter or future grandchild.

Many books and authors aren’t fully appreciated for their genius until long after the author is dead.  Books are meant to be immortal.  Books that are ahead of their time won’t sell well, but they’re no less valuable to humanity.  If anything, these books are gifts to the future of humanity.

I was recently listening to a podcast from a man who’s been dead for decades, but the work he laid out during his life has had a big impact on me today, and I know others have been better off from his work, too.

It’s short-sighted to get caught up in how a book is selling. It’s easy to miss the big picture. With the digital age, books have the potential to go out into places authors don’t even think about. Who knows what impact anyone’s book can have today, tomorrow, or hundreds of years from now?

This is where I go into a spiritual tangent, so if that’s not your thing, skip the rest of the post.

When I started writing romances back in 2007, I was determined to write them in a way that glorifies God. This is why my romances are the way they are. I don’t like to be preachy. I get turned off by preachy movies and books. I like a Christian theme so long as it doesn’t derail the whole story. Over the years, I noticed some of my books lean more in the spiritual direction than others. It just depended on the characters and plot. But at the end of the day, each book I write is one I want to do according to His leading. As much as it pains me to admit, I have taken my eyes off of Him. I’ve been putting my time and attention into the material side of writing, and it’s only led to frustration. To sum up King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, chasing material things is grasping for the wind.

So I’ve made a decision. As long as God is leading me to write, I’ll write. This is regardless of whether I hit 100 romance books. This is regardless of whether I get a job. I might not be able to write as fast if I get a job, but as long as He wants me to write, I’m going to do it. At the end of the day, all that matters is what He wants.

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What if Someone is Trying to Claim Copyright to a Book You Wrote?

This post is specifically for authors.

It’s about what to do if someone claims they own the copyright to the book you wrote, and they submit a takedown notice to a retailer to have your book removed. (And the retailer believes them!)

I don’t know how many authors have run into this scenario, but this week, it happened to me. My goal in writing this is to warn you so that you can be prepared in case it happens to you. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

***

Earlier this week, I received an email from KDP saying that they wanted to make sure I was the copyright holder to my paperback book titled Falling In Love With Her Husband. I thought I had triggered something in the system when I changed the glossy format to matte for the book. I had heard other authors say stuff like this happened to them when they made similar changes, and that it was no big deal. All you had to do was reply with a, “Yes, I own the copyright,” and all was good.

So I did what had worked for other authors in the past.

But this situation was different. Why? Because in this instance, someone had claimed I had stolen my own book!

Yesterday morning, I got an email from KDP saying this:

Hello,

Thank you for the information you provided regarding the following book(s):

Falling In Love With Her Husband: A North Dakota Historical Romance
Ruth Ann Nordin (A2D76D4TTMXLJ0)

Prior to your submission, we received a notice and takedown for a book that matches to yours, from a third party claiming that the distribution of the book above was not properly authorized due to copyright infringement

We don’t involve ourselves in third party disputes and because we have not received any communication from the involved parties that the matter has been resolved, we have determined that we will not be making the book(s) available for sale on Amazon at this time.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Fortunately, I had registered my book with the US Copyright Office, so I have the Certificate of Registration. I scanned it into my computer and then took a screenshot of my KDP dashboard showing the paperback linked to the ebook where you can see the dates of publication and the ASIN numbers for the paperback and ebook version. (Amazon refers to the ISBN as ASIN in my dashboard.)

As a side note, if this happens in the future, I’ll also add links to where my book is on other retailers. I didn’t think to do that yesterday.

So I attached these the Certificate of Registration for Falling In Love With Her Husband and the screen, along with this email:

The person who reported the takedown notice has stolen my book.  I am attaching two things. One is the US Copyright Registration form, and the other a screenshot of my KDP dashboard that shows I have published this book originally through CreateSpace and that it was published in 2009.  I am the copyright owner of this book.  I am the only publisher of this book. I have not given permission to anyone else to publish this book.
Please check my KDP dashboard if you need further proof. You can compare the ebook to the paperback to see that I wrote the paperback.
Please notice the date of publication and the fact that the ASIN is 1441492461. This matches the books ISBN.
The stolen book’s url is this: https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Love-Her-Husband-Historical/dp/B01F81R18Y . Notice the the ISBN does not match. Also, notice that this person (who has no rights to publish this book) does not even list out the book title the same way I do.  I would never title (2009-04-24) in a title. I don’t know where “CreateSpace Independent Publis (1750)” is, but I suspect it is not in the United States.
I live in the United States.  I have registered this book with the US Copyright Office. That copyright is effective as of June 19, 2011. I am sending an attachment of the scanned copyright certificate.
I’m reporting a takedown notice on the stolen book ( https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Love-Her-Husband-Historical/dp/B01F81R18Y). Whoever uploaded this is an imposter. He/she did not write the book. They have no rights to publish it.
Let me know if you need anything else on my end.
Thank you,
Ruth Ann Nordin

***

This is what KDP sent me a few hours later:

Congratulations! The following book(s) you recently submitted have been reviewed and were successfully passed:

“Falling In Love With Her Husband: A North Dakota Historical Romance ” ID: PRI-C1Y33J3X85V

The book(s) will soon be published on Amazon. Please allow up to 48 hours for the book(s) to become available in the Amazon Store.

We look forward to offering your book to millions of Amazon customers and wish you the best of luck in promoting and selling your work!

Thanks for using Amazon KDP

As of this moment, the stolen book is still up. I’m keeping an eye on it.  Back in 2011, someone stole a couple of my books, and Amazon was refusing to take one of them down. I spent three weeks trying to get them listen to me, but they wouldn’t. So, I had to get a copyright lawyer to contact Amazon for me. Within an hour, the book was removed. Copyright lawyers can do some things I can’t with Amazon. I’ve decided that if that stolen book isn’t removed by next week, I’m going to get a copyright lawyer involved.

So, for what it’s worth, my advice to every author is to register your book’s copyright. In the US, that is the US Copyright Office. (If you live outside the US, I would look up whatever place you have available to do this, if there is one.) I know it takes time to do this, and I realize it can be expensive to many out there. It’s currently $55.00 to file online with the US Copyright Office, and since I make paperback versions, I have to buy two of them and mail them in. So when all is said and done, I spent almost $100 to register one book. If you don’t do paperbacks, you can just file the ebook version. But I would rather pay $100 to have proof on hand that I own the copyright to my own book so that when stuff like this happens, I’m ready for it.

Some people might say that my particular case is rare. Back in 2011 when I had three books stolen, people told me it was rare to have your books stolen. Yet in the following years, I’ve heard many stories of authors who have had books stolen from them and put up for sale on different retailers. (Most of the time, it’s Amazon, but no retailer is immune from this.)

Anyway, what might be rare right now could be commonplace tomorrow. It doesn’t hurt to have the copyright certificate on hand. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but in case you do, it makes life a whole lot easier when you’re trying to prove you wrote the book.

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