Trying to Wrap up Two Books, Getting Back Books from my Publisher, and Getting into Audiobooks

1. Update on the writing.

Marriage by Design: Book 2

I should finish Nobody’s Fool tomorrow. I’m currently on the last chapter. I’m very pleased with how this turned out. It’s a cute romantic comedy. The heroine finally caved and fell in love with the hero. When I started the book, I wasn’t sure how this was ever going to happen since she was so opposed to the marriage. Fortunately, the issues worked themselves out while I was writing.

I know election time is pretty much a terrible time to get a book out, but this one is due out in mid-October. I wasn’t able to finish it before now, and I need time to get it through edits before it’s ready. I also want another book out before the end of the year. So, this is coming out around a horrible time for authors who are looking to hit an ideal publishing time.

Marriage by Design: Book 3

I’m not sure how much more I need to go in this one, but I’m determined not to rush it. This has been another comedy, but things have taken a sudden turn where it’s more serious at the moment. Essentially, our hero has finally come to grips with what a jerk’s he’s been. I don’t like getting too heavy in a romance where 80% of the book is light and funny. So I’m trying to find a balance between making him grovel enough (because he needs it) without making it drag on needlessly. I’m in the middle of figuring this out.

I want this out in January, so thankfully, I have time.

Those are the two books I’m trying to wrap up.

And I almost forgot, this one is due out August 29.

Wyoming Series: Book 3

I need to get the blog post and email list ready when it’s time to announce that this book is out. I’m worried I’ll forget to do this. Thankfully, I can schedule blog posts and MailChimp emails out in advance.

If you want to get this on pre-order, I do have them up at most retailers.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

A note about Payhip: My last two releases ended up with no one buying the book from Payhip, even though I offered 50% off the price. I’m thinking about not putting it on Payhip this time around. No one seems interested in that storefront. So if I don’t get a comment on this blog about wanting the book on Payhip, I’ll skip Payhip this time around.

A note about Google Books/Play: I am going to get it up over there on release day or close to it. Google will lower prices from time to time, and this could hurt me on the pre-orders at Amazon. The money I make on pre-orders is what I need to afford cover artists, editors, and other things to keep the business side of things going.

2. Getting Publishing Rights Back from my Publisher

I’m in the process of acquiring rights back to these books:

What that means is that there might be a short period of time where these books won’t be available. The publisher and I are working to make the transition as possible, but there’s bound to be a hiccup or two along the way. It can’t be helped. Different retailers have different ways of operating.

Please Note this about Bride by Arrangement and A Groom’s Promise:

Bride by Arrangement and A Groom’s Promise are anthologies. I’ll be taking my stories from each anthology and republishing them as brand new books. I’ll address this more in the future when they’re up.

3. A Note About Audiobooks

I have already started a couple of them. I am working with two narrators.

One is Stevie Zimmerman, and since she has an English accent, I felt she’d be ideal for the Regency Series. So far, she has done The Marriage Contract, One Enchanted Evening, and The Wedding Pact (all books in the Marriage by Fairytale Series which is my personal favorite series).

Marriage by Fairytale: Book 1

I uploaded this to ACX (which distributes to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes) and Findaway Voices (scroll down the page to find where they distribute to). I’ll announce it on this blog when this is ready.

Stevie Zimmerman and I agreed on an upfront cost, so I paid for this outright for this audiobook. This is called “pay per hour”. (I didn’t know that before.) That means I own all rights to it, and I get to say where the book goes. I am paying this way for all of the books I do with her.

There is another narrator I’m working. She is Shonda Bourn, and she prefers the royalty-share option. Long story short, when I claimed all of my books on ACX, I didn’t realize that I locked myself into the non-exclusive contract with ACX. I was in a hurry to stop the scammer from stealing more of them since this person had gotten away with stealing two of my books already. So I may or may not be able to do more books this other narrator.

A word of warning to authors who might be reading this: if you choose non-exclusive, then you can NOT do royalty-share on ACX. You have to pay per hour. Also, if you claim a book on ACX, Findaway Voices will NOT put the book on Amazon.

So in my hurry to stop the scammer, I boxed myself into a corner. I’m trying to get that resolved by contacting ACX to be able to switch the books the narrator wants to work on out of non-exclusive to exclusive, but I don’t know if that will be possible. It all depends on what ACX will let me do.

I was able to get one book in the exclusive agreement, and that was one I had not been able to claim yet because it was one of the stolen books. This is the same book Shonda had done, and it had made it to Amazon. I got the stolen version removed (thankfully), and then Shonda and I started communicating, and we saw no reason to let her work go to waste. So we’re in the process of getting this book back up:

Virginia Series: Book 1

Since we did a strict royalty-share agreement on this book, it can only be on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. I can NOT put it on Findaway Voices.

I’ll let you know when that goes live.

4. You Tube Channel and Audiobooks

I was thinking of dusting off my You Tube channel, which I haven’t uploaded anything to for years, and making old books available to listen to over there for anyone who can’t afford audiobooks. The catch on this is that my voice is nothing like Stevie Zimmerman or Shonda Bourn. My voice is amateurish, so the quality is not going to be professional. I just wanted to warn everyone. I don’t want people to go to my channel expecting an award-winning performance. 🙂

Right now, I’m working on a shorter book called The Purchased Bride (which is in the Bride by Arrangement anthology that I did with Janet, up above in the post). I’m still learning how to edit audio and need to figure out how to get this stuff posted on You Tube.

I was originally going to do Meant To Be myself since it’s one of my favorite stories, but my husband said he’ll do the male voices for me. So our goal is one chapter a week. We’ll see how long he wants to keep this up. I’m not sure he realizes how much work will go into this project, but it would be fun to work on it with him.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Forever Yours Trivia

Dave and Mary have been married for 10 years, and I used the way marriage has been for me (20 years now) as a basis for a realistic view of marriage. Your average day isn’t going to be the drastic ups and downs of how things seem when you first fall in love and wondering if the other person loves you back or not. After you’ve been married for a while, you settle into a routine, and things have a natural flow to them. The love is still there, and deeper, and you really do feel like your spouse is an extension of you.

People had a mixture of thoughts on this book when I announced I was writing it. Half of the people were excited, and the other half were like, “Not another Dave and Mary story. Haven’t you already done two?” But I always felt they had a trilogy to write, and the series would not have been complete without it.

The original plot idea came to me in 2013. It was much different from the way things turned out to be. Originally, Dave was supposed to injure his leg and be unable to do any work. That was the only part that stayed the same. One of Mary’s brother-in-laws (whom I introduced in To Have and To Hold) was Bert. I don’t know how many people remember him, but he drank a lot and would pretend to shoot himself because he was miserable in his marriage to Mary’s sister. Anyway, Mary’s sister was going to die, and Bert was going to leave Maine with his son to make a new life in Omaha. He was to spend time with Dave and Mary while he figured out what to do, and as payment for staying there, he was to do the chores around the place that Dave usually did. Anyway, long story short, Dave was supposed to worry that Bert and Mary were getting along too well, and Dave was also supposed to have trouble maintaining an erection and such. There was also a part in the story where Dave was supposed to fix the fence in the pouring rain to stop the cows from escaping. (This was when everyone was gone.) As a result, he was supposed to get seriously ill and almost die. As you can see, this was intended to be a serious story. However, Dave didn’t care for that plot, so I opted to go in a completely different direction, and the story ended up being light-hearted comedy instead. Dave is much happier with this version.

Also, here was the original cover I had planned. (Thankfully, I never used it.)

The things that happen with the kids like when Rachel pushed Adam to get him away from the spilled milk, the impatience Isaac had over the cornstalks not growing fast enough, and Rachel forgetting to tell Isaac not to go to the barn while Mary talked to Dave are all incidents based on real life with some minor tweaks.

The purpose of the scenes when all of the Larsons are together in any Larson book is to give an update on how the family is all doing. I know there’s a lot of people to keep track of, but this is for the benefit of people who have been reading my books over the years. They aren’t necessarily important to the plot.

When Tom throws the roll at Joel, it’s my reference to when Joel threw the biscuit at him in The Marriage Agreement. (Unlike Joel, though, Tom wasn’t able to hit him.) Sometimes I like to draw on something from another book I’ve already done for fun. Another example, Joel’s reluctance to do any laundry or cleaning stalls was a reference to how he was in Eye of the Beholder when he used every excuse possible to get out of the chores.

I thought it would be nice to show the transition Richard and Amanda went through in living in the small apartment and getting their first modest home (in Wagon Trail Bride) to when they became wealthy, so I chose that to replace the original plot with Bert in it. At the time, I didn’t know what I would do with it. Thankfully, while I was writing the scene where Dave and Mary were eating at his parents, the idea of Dave getting jealous over Isaac’s sudden admiration for Richard came to me. I was so relieved I nearly jumped for joy because I felt like I was starting to write the book with no sense of direction.

During the writing of the book, I switched the two horses (Jack and Susannah) around so much that it took several read throughs to get them right. In one scene, Jack was the horse Dave been on when he fell, and in others, the horse was Susannah. I also kept changing the position of where Jack was at after Dave fell off of him. One time, he was standing close by, and at another time, he was near the barn. The whole thing with the horses was just crazy.

Mary could never sell the apple pie recipe. I did fiddle with the idea of having a bad storm ruin half the crops, but I can’t think of Mary without her apple pie, so she kept telling Maureen and Connie no.

This is a side note that has nothing to do with this story, but Jacob Larson (the kid Mary and Dave had after Adam) took over Ralph Lindon’s mercantile when he grew up. I like the idea of doing Adam’s and Jacob’s stories, but I don’t know when I’ll get to them.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Thoughts on Joanna Penn’s Lessons Learns from Her 500 Creative Penn Postcast Episodes (Part 2) (A Post for Writers)

I’m just going to pick up where I left off in the last post.

Joanna’s Lesson #4: Try different strategies for marketing and branding in order to find the ones that work best for you.

My thoughts: This is largely dependent on the genre you write, your personality, and your budget. Also, nonfiction will market a lot differently than fiction. There are a lot of different methods for marketing out there. There’s no way I can list them all.

What I will say is that if someone suggests a marketing strategy to you, and your initial reaction is, “I’d rather poke my eyeball out with a fork,” then this strategy is not for you. I don’t care how well it works for other people. You are not them. You are you. You will be better off seeking out writers who share your marketing preferences and talking to them if you’re looking at a way to fine tune your marketing skills. How do you find writers who share your preferences? This is going to be trial and error. It’ll require you to get on social media and go to writing groups. There are a lot of writing groups on Facebook. I tried MeWe, but they don’t have the quality of writing groups that Facebook does. That is the best place I’ve found for author interaction. If anyone wants to know what groups I find helpful, let me know in the comments. There are also author blogs, but Facebook groups will cover a variety of topics that are most helpful, and your range of people will be broader.

As a general rule, long-term marketing is thought of as “long term”. This is not about getting rich fast. It’s about the steady movement of activity that you can see yourself doing on a regular and consistent basis for years to come. You want something you can stick with. That’s why it has to blend well with your personality. For example, some people like doing videos, and they’re really good at it. They have a flair for it, and you can tell they’re having a good time. These people don’t usually care for blogging. They’d rather talk instead of write. But for me, I’m much happier blogging because I think much better when I type than I do when I talk in a video. Also, I hate selling in person at craft shows. You have to be really engaging in person to pull this off, and in person, I am the person who is in the corner of a room, not front and center stage. Online, I’m a different person. I have no trouble at all joining in conversations. So just consider the kinds of things you naturally lean toward. What are your strengths? What would get you excited? (Or, if nothing else, what doesn’t make you want to run into a hole and hide?) Marketing can be fun if you pick the right activity.

Joanna mentioned content marketing. I also like this type, and it works really well for introvert types. Content marketing involves anything to do with your stories. For examples, I have a lot of Book 1’s in my series for free. Other authors like to do short stories or extra scenes to go with a story. Some people might even pretend to be a character from a story. There are many ways you can work around this. It’s basically looking beyond the book itself and adding to it with fresh new content.

Some author prefer ads. Now, this all depends on your budget. Never go into debt to market your books. (Also, I would never advise anyone to go into debt for covers, editing, formatting, audiobooks, etc.) Ads can be fairly cheap ($15 or so) to expensive ($1000+ a month). For example, you can have a one-time ad where you pay for it and then go your merry way. Or, you can have a pay-per-click ad like on Amazon or Bookbub, and these can be a lot of money. I’ve heard of authors spending $5000 a month on ads. You have to make sure you’re making more money than you’re spending to make this strategy worth it because not all ads will yield a profit.

In addition to overt marketing strategies, it’s important to look at “branding” when you’re building up your author platform. This is all in line with long-term thinking, and it’s the mindset that makes you a professional author. This all takes time. I don’t think anyone settles into their “brand” right away. I think this, like marketing, is some trial and error as you figure out who you are as a writer and how you present yourself (and your books) to the world.

The nice thing is you don’t have to appeal to everyone. I don’t believe you can appeal to everyone even if you tried. Our brand is going to separate us from other writers. The way we engage with people in real life or online will reflect our personalities. We might try to imitate someone else’s style as we’re trying to figure out where we fit in, but over time, our real selves is going to develop as we get more comfortable. I think it’s best to embrace yourself as you are. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and being aware of those will help us figure out the way that works best for us as we engage with the world around us. For example, I have always been best at one-on-one interaction. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I prefer to sit and listen to other people, and when I’m comfortable, I’ll start volunteering information. So it’s pointless for someone like me to have a brand where I’m front and center in a group leading the discussion or running the Facebook parties. I do think it’s much easier for the outspoken authors to sell books because they are outgoing people. They are naturals at drawing people to them. But it’s not impossible to reach people if you’re more of a quiet person like I am. I think for quieter people, the content we create (along with things like ads) will be our main strength, which is why I’m inclined to focus more on creating new books than I am on any other form of marketing. We all have our strengths, and it’s worth taking the time to evaluate those strengths and figure out how we’re going to use those to the best of our abilities.

At the 51 minute mark in this video, Joanna has two authors featured that discuss the importance of having a core audience who wants our books. What I like most about this is that it’s not so intimidating to think of all the people out there and trying to find them all. I like the idea of focusing on a smaller group. It’s a much easier process when you are looking at reaching one person at a time. (I admit this goes along with my personality.) The way I see it, getting out there with my books is really about building relationships with other people, whether they read my books or not. I do think it’s important to appreciate the people who currently love our books. I know we are always looking at ways to expand and reach new people, but I don’t think it’s wise to lose sight of the people who are currently with you. Back in 2008 or 2009, there was an author who seemed really nice and seemed to be sincere in engaging with me. I bought her book and, as she asked, I left her a review. Well, after that, she pretty much ignored me. It was like I no longer existed. That hurt. They say that people might forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.

Joanna’s Lesson #5: Think like a professional author. (This starts around the 59 minute mark in the video.)

My thoughts: She’s right about life being short. We need to make the most of the time we have. It’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do with the time we’re granted. So basically, being a professional author is about showing up for writing even when we’d rather watch a movie or go to the beach. I don’t think it’s wise to write every single day, but there is something to be said for having a habit of writing on a regular and consistent basis. I’ve been at this seriously since 2008, and it really is all about embracing the habit of writing.

I also love the idea of the reward being the story itself. We tend to get this turned upside down in the writing community. The writing community says the story is not enough. The writing community says that the reward is the money, some award, or hitting a bestseller’s list. This is very unfortunate. Because of this thinking, books (by themselves) do not have value. Writing a story is not valued, either. The writing community says the only thing that matters is how “successful” those books are. From personal experience, I can tell you those things don’t satisfy in the long run. They offer temporary boosts of pleasure, but the pleasure quickly passes because no book stays at the top forever and there is always someone more “successful” who comes along.

If you want to truly be happy as a writer for the long term, it’s best to reject the writing community’s opinion. Let the story be the reward. Write the book you most want to read. Write the book so that you can go back to it over and over again, and, after reading it, you can think to yourself, “I’m so glad I wrote that.” That is the key to having a kind of joy that never goes away. You can’t control who reads the book, who will review it, how it ranks, or how much it makes. All you can control is the story itself.

Posted in Uncategorized