The Post Where I Discuss Marketing

This is dedicated specifically to writers or those who are aspiring to be writers. If this isn’t your thing, feel free to skip. 🙂

Inspirational motivational quote "It's a slow process,but quitti

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The best marketing strategy in the world is word of mouth.

And we have no control over it. We can’t control who reads our books. We can’t control who likes our books. We can’t control who mentions our books to other people.

Social media and newsletters are not about selling books. They are about building your brand.

Your brand is who you are. It’s the whole package. It’s what you say, it’s what you do, and it’s what you write. These all get rolled up into a ball that gives people the overall view of you. Your brand inadvertently leads to sales. So yes, you should be active and promote because it leads people to your books.

Social media is a good place to get to know people. I wouldn’t make this a “sales pitch” arena. The sales pitch comes on the day of a book’s release or on an ad. If you’re using Facebook, MeWe, Twitter, Instagram, etc as a daily billboard to tell people you have books they can buy, you’re wasting your time. Add something of value. Participate. Share jokes. I like to share jokes because it’s good to laugh. Things are far too serious on social media with the onslaught of political posts out there. I’ve had to hide some people’s posts because I couldn’t take the drama anymore. My favorite posts are those that lift people up and make them feel better. I don’t go on social media to get upset. I go there to relax. As an author, think about the message you want to send. How do you want others to feel when they see your name? Social media connects your name with a certain kind of emotion. What emotion do you want others to have when they see your name?

I know there are email lists, but not every writer wants to spend time coming up with “fresh and new” content to share with their list a couple times a month, which is what seems to be the frequency needed in order for email lists to be effective. I’m not any good at coming up with fun and interesting emails about my personal life or about cute animals or whatever. Some authors have a knack for this. I’m not one of them. So I don’t do them. If you happen to be an author who does this, it might be a good option to  help build relationships with your readers. But if the idea of having an email list gives you the hives, then you’re better off focusing on another marketing strategy that you enjoy. For me, it’s blogging. I love to blog. So I do that instead of an email list.

Ads are a way to sell books, but be careful about how you do them.

I think ads are mostly effective on your most popular free books. Free still works, but it has to be utilized effectively. It’s best if the free book leads to other books you write. If you can cross the free book to paid books, that’s ideal. If you write all standalones, free can still be good. I found a couple of authors that way. But I would use ads on the free book(s) that is already performing the best. That way, you’re using your strongest asset to reach new people.

That all aside, I think it’s important to look at two things when paying for ads. 1. Make sure you can afford them. Don’t go into debt to buy ads. If you start burying yourself into a hole by buying ads with the hope you’ll yield a profit later, later may never come. Also, the more debt you go into, the harder it’s going to be to dig your way out. 2. Make sure you’re not throwing money into ads that aren’t yielding a return. Do the time to study the numbers. Which ads paid off? Which didn’t? Ditch the ones that don’t do you any good. You don’t want to lose your profit. Your profit is how you’ll be able to pay for an editor or a cover artist in the future. You need that money in order to stay in the black.

The best use of your time is writing the next book.

This is going to sound ridiculous to most people, but writing a good book is the very best way to sell books because if someone loves your book, they’re going to tell others about it. Fortunately, writing your book is something that is fully under your control. You can do social media, newsletters, and ads to lead people to your book, but if your book isn’t satisfying to the reader, you did all of that other work for nothing. Your books have to sell themselves. They have to attract people. And fortunately, you have the ability to create a story that compels people to keep turning the page.

This is why a writer’s time is best spent on the next book. My advice is to do more writing than marketing. If people like your book, they will want to read more books, and if they want to read more books, they might end up telling other people that your books exist. The quality of your book will lead to word of mouth.

It’s a slow process. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not exciting. No writer in the indie community is going to be jumping up and down with enthusiasm because they’re told to focus on writing the next book because word of mouth is the best marketing strategy out there. They’re looking for a magic formula they can use to guarantee sales right now. The truth is, there is no magic formula.

Alright, that’s all I got on marketing. If anyone has thoughts they’d like to add, I’d be happy to hear them. 🙂

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Updates on What I’m Doing

I finally got Nelly’s Mail Order Husband up for pre-order.

Nelly is Tom and Jessica Larson’s oldest daughter.

Nelly's Mail Order Husband for website

At the moment, it’s on these retailers:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

Smashwords

(It will be on Google Play and Payhip later, and I’ll offer a discount on Payhip.)

During the edits, Lauralynn Elliot (my editor) made a comment that gave me the idea for Book 2 in the series. Inspiration can come in the most unexpected ways. 😀 Since I’m already writing three books, Book 2 in this series will have to wait.

Fairest of Them All comes out on the 31st.

fairest of them all ebook cover

Click the cover for pre-order links!

I can’t believe how quickly next Saturday is coming! It’s unreal. Next week I start homeschooling my kid while the others return to school. It’ll be interesting to see how my writing will fit into the new schedule. I looked through the Abeka materials, and I already know I’m going to have to buckle down and focus in order to do both. I can tell the courses are going to be intense.

I started writing this week!

I experienced a couple of hours where my mind was blank. After getting up from the computer and roaming around the house several times, I made myself sit down and type. It was rocky at first. I did a lot of deleting. But I’m in Day 3 now, and the stories are finally coming along. I’m relieved. Even better, the creative mind is exploding all over the place.

I think this is the benefit to taking a vacation and letting the creative mind relax. The subconscious mind had all summer to work on the storylines for the books I had selected. I didn’t appreciate the value of that vacation until today when things just quickly fell into place for all three books. All summer, I had no idea how I was going to pull certain stuff off, and today while I was writing, the characters all led me in the right direction. If I don’t take breaks, this stuff is like pulling teeth. The dots do connect, but it’s harder to see how they do that. I haven’t taken a break from writing since 2015, so I had forgotten the value of letting the creative mind rest.

Okay, I’m stepping off the soapbox.

I’m at Chapter 12 (33,000 words) in The Outlaw’s Bride

This is Book 1 in the Wyoming Series.

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2

I had started this one back in 2017 and then dropped it when I didn’t feel like writing it anymore. I knew I would feel like writing it at a later date, and this summer, I realized it was the right time to finish it. I’m glad I waited.

This is a rewrite of The Stagecoach Bride (that I had done with Stephannie Beman), and I have changed who the characters are to fit how I plan to take the series. I had been concerned over how I’m going to toughen up the heroine in this book to do what she’s going to need to do when the villain comes along. In this version, the hero is your typical beta hero. That’s the kind of hero I often write. I don’t do many alpha heroes because they don’t come naturally to me. I have done a couple in the past, but if you’re familiar with my work, you know I gravitate to the beta hero. The hero in this  version wanted to be beta. I think that’s because my heroine is softer than most heroines.

Anyway, I was fretting over who was going to take her to task and give her the mindset she’ll need, and today the hero’s sister came to the rescue. The sister did teach the heroine in the original version of this story, but in this version, her role is more prominent. Once the sister does her job, the characters will be ready to move toward the next stage in the book, which is leading to the confrontation with the villain.

This book will be the first in a new series.

Breaking the Rules ebook cover

I’m almost finished with Chapter 1 in this, and I already realized this will be Book 1 in a new series. The heroine was having a conversation with a gentleman at a ball, and she said something that led the gentleman to believe her friend is interested in him. The friend is NOT interested in him. But the heroine inadvertently made him think she was. The truth is, the friend thinks this gentleman is dorky, in looks and in personality.

As soon as those dots connected in my mind, I knew I would have to pair the two up. It sounds like it could be a really fun book to write. So that will be #2 in this series. I haven’t given this series an official name yet, but I’m thinking Marriage by Design. We’ll see how things play out. I’m going to give it a little longer before I settle on the series name.

I know the motivation behind the family’s strange behavior in this book.

This is Book 5 in the Marriage by Fairytale Series.

The Duke's Secluded Bride ebook cover

I’m also at the end of Chapter 1 in this book. The setup for this book is that the hero is going to marry the heroine through an arranged marriage. The hero and her brother will agree to the marriage. The brother tells the hero that she’s extremely shy and that she’s afraid to go to London to find a husband. The hero is eager to get married, and since he likes the brother, he agrees to go to the country estate to marry her.

This book is loosely based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. The key to that one is the woman lives in seclusion. In this book, she keeps to one wing of the manor. She doesn’t venture beyond that point, and she rarely has anything to do with anyone. She rarely even sees the brother, her mother, her aunt, and her uncle.

I knew there was a reason behind her behavior, and I knew something else was going on behind the scenes that the hero isn’t told. But during this whole summer, I couldn’t figure out what that something was. Then while the brother was talking to the hero about Socrates and Plato, everything fell into place, and I understood exactly what was going on. I can’t say what that is because it would spoil the book. It’s a shame because I LOVE the path this book is doing to take. The stuff coming up is the perfect setup for a gothic romance. I can’t wait for the hero to get to the country estate! That’s when the fun will really begin! *rubs hands together in anticipation*

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My Old Fantasy Series gets a Facelift

This summer while I was on vacation from writing, I managed to get the “spring cleaning” done on my old books that I’ve been wanting to tackle for a couple of years.

Just this week, I finally updated the book covers for my fantasy series.

Here are the original covers:

a royal engagement ebook cover  royal hearts ebook cover  the royal pursuit ebook cover  royal heiress ebook cover

Here are the new covers:

A Royal Engagement new ebook cover  Royal Hearts new cover  The Royal Pursuit new cover  Royal Heiress new cover

I was never all that crazy about the original covers, but at the time I made them, I was in the middle of moving and had so many other things going on that I could not devote my full attention to the project. I loved the stories. (Still do.) I originally wrote these in the 1998-2004 time frame. I rewrote them in 2015 because the stories wouldn’t leave me alone. This was a 100% passion project. This series was never published with the mindset of making money. It was just about having them published because I loved them and wanted to see them out in the world (and especially on my Kindle).

But I was never thrilled with the covers. When the books came out, I figured I’d go back and give them better covers at some point. But then I got so caught up in writing romances. Yes, this fantasy series was my passion project, but my first love is romance. So I kept putting this series on the back burner. I did go back and add some spicy content last year (I think) to Royal Hearts and The Royal Pursuit because no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, the storytelling part of my brain kept telling me the stories weren’t complete until I added them. As soon as I added them, the stories finally felt done.

Now, I had no such compulsion to do that to The Royal Heiress, so I left that one alone. If I don’t think a story needs sex to make it complete, I don’t write it. I know that surprises a lot of people since I have sex in 95% of the stories I write, but once in a while, a storyline will come up that doesn’t need one.

I go with what is best for the story. I also vary how much spice to add to a book depending on what makes the story strongest. I never put anything into a story that’s filler. I only put in what makes it work. This doesn’t just go for sex. This goes for everything that makes its way into my books. Humor, drama, violence, action, any historical facts I learned while researching a topic to put in the book, etc.  I write whatever is needed for each and every scene. I hate sagging middles. I like to get to the point. So only what enhances the story to some degree will make it into my books. I’ve tossed out quite a few scenes along the way because when I finished the first draft, I realized they weren’t necessary.

Anyway, while I was searching pre-made covers on The Book Cover Designer, I realized that the “writing to market” voice started to rear its ugly head. (Old habits are hard to break.) Instead of looking at covers that appealed to me (the person who wrote the books), I was thinking, “What will so-and-so think?” “Am I branding these books correctly?” “What about consistency?” I had to stop myself in my tracks and remind myself of two very important facts. 1. This series doesn’t sell at all so it really doesn’t matter what others think of the covers. 2. Who cares what others think? These are my books. I can use whatever covers I want to.

As a side note: I have always used covers I wanted for my romances. This is why I don’t have scantly clad women or men on my covers, even though most of my romances have sex in them. I don’t like the covers that look as if the characters are ready to hop into bed. Sure, they might be ready to hop into bed during the course of the story, but that doesn’t mean that’s their goal. Their goal is to have a happy marriage. Their goal is the happily ever after ending. And I find that is best portrayed by the kinds of covers I do. I love the tenderness of an embrace or smile. I love pretty flowers and brides. Sure, marriage involves sexual activity, but it’s foundation is in the emotional connection between the characters. That’s why I choose the covers I do.

Anyway, now I’m 100% satisfied with this fantasy series and can move on to other things.

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