Saturday, December 31, 2011


The Ebook Cruise is free! In a nutshell, it is bringing together bloggers (people who reach readers) and authors for a week of fun so readers buy new books. It's a virtual book fair, where your "table" is a link (or image linked). The Ebook Cruise will be March 12-19, 2012.

So, HOW do you join? Easy, email me at

You can do ANYTHING for the book cruise, including if you have an idea outside of what I've listed below. The idea is the main page ( transforms into an inviting, fun location for readers, and it is advertised by all of the authors and bloggers involved (think about just 10 authors with 1,000 Twitter followers each is 10,000 people seeing the promo, and I'm aiming for no less than 30 authors involved!). is on board to advertise the event on their multitude of sites that reach Kindle and Nook readers directly. On my last event, a simple one-time mention on brought over a 1,000 hits in just an hour or two. this time around, they are a valued partner. They are also doing a very cool giveaway. As soon as I have more authors and pages set up, I will query other book blogs to see if I can't get them to participate.

Specific ways to promote your book:

There will be a Souvenir Shop all books participating will be listed, by genre.

Write a blog post about the destination your book transports readers to OR a great book you read that transported you OR a travel story you have OR so on and so on. The goal is to write something interesting that's not just BUY MY BOOK. At the bottom of your post will be your short little bio piece and links for readers to buy your book. If they like what you have to say, they will at least click to get a sample. I will be tracking links, so I can let authors know how many times people clicked on a specifc link.

Sponsor an activity. There will be a flash fiction event every night for authors and readers. ("Convince me to visit your local hometown or favorite vacation spot in 300 words or less" "Fictionalize a horrible travel experience in 300 words or less" someone experienced with flash fiction can help with prompts :)) with all participants getting a free ebook gifted through either Nook or Amazon from the author(s) sponsoring. So on the night I'm hosting, I'm responding to the prompts, encouraging people, and gift them my book. Gifting books is a great sales tool because it's a one-on-one interaction with your reader. You are personally sending them a gift through email, and can later follow up. And the type of reader who would write flash fiction I bet would write a review if encouraged to do so! :)

MADLIB: I am writing madlibs and programming the computer to do these online. I've had some success already. :) A madlib is this:
NOUN: banana
VERB: shot
WAY TO TRAVEL: horse (the reader chooses these, then the computer plugs them into a story)
On my way to the banana, my car shot a stop sign and the cop wrote me a purple ticket. I sure hope I don't miss my horse!
They are funny ways to celebrate language and I'm hoping to program them in such a way that when the reader finishes it, it shows books advertised on the bottom.... thank GOD I have a programmer for a hsuband!

TWITTER CHAT: Throughout the week, there will be twitter chats with the hashtag #ebookcruise so people can mingle :) I had thought to do this in a dedicated chat room, but I think there's added value by using established social media channels. It gets the hosting author's name out there, and helps people learn twitter. So, pretend it's March 17th 2PM-3PM EST (7 to 8 PM in UK) and I"m the host: 

Welcome to #ebookcruise chat! Where was the most exciting place you've spent St. Patty's Day?
NYC! 2005. I've never been more drunk in my life! #ebookcruise 
@Sometwitterperson UGH! Hopefully that'll be me one day, we just move to CT. But kids are a little young still! #ebookcruise 
St. patty's Day, what's that? I don't think we celebrate that here.... #ebookcruise 
@Twitterperson2 uh, I could see that. It's to celebrate St. Patrick, but mostly people get drunk and boast about any Irish heritage they have #ebookcruise 
@Twitterperson2 My Mom is Scotch-Irish, so I grew up with corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage every March 17th #ebookcruise 

See, it gets people talking! And an author could talk about ANYTHING. It's a great way to get readers interested in YOU. There will be many opportunities to host a Twitter Chat, and authors can choose a time convenient for them!

OTHER WAYS Got more ideas? Tell me! I'm all ears. This about fun and getting readers JAZZED to read books.

So right now, if you want to be part of the ebook cruise at all, I need to know. The next few weeks I will have specific sign ups for everyone, a list of blog posts I need to link to etc. And the BEST part about this promotion? It will be "fresh" all year round because it's not tied to a specific holiday.

There are MANY sites out there that list great reads, great reviews of books. This is different because it is meant to be a virtual event, something people actively participate in. I can't wait for March!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Minute Gift Guide

Bit late throwing this together: but why not?

I have a reader site. I generally only post things that appeal to readers, so I'm going to put together a LAST MINUTE GIFT GUIDE by genre for readers. If you'd like me to include your book, please just give me the title and genre, I'll pull the link.

The post will go live tomorrow morning and we can all tweet it if we so desire.

I'm thinking along the lines of $5 and $10 book groups to gift, i.e.

For the "I Read EVERYTHING" Reader in your life:

Madness Under the Mistletoe $2.99
Saffina Desforges Presents (Kindle Coffee-Break) $2.99
(another anthology, touting 13 authors for only $6!)


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Playing the Blame Game on Sales

"I'm not getting sales. There must be something wrong."

After you publish, it's very EASY to become obsessed with your sales. Did you sell anything last night? What about this morning? Wait, it's been 5 minutes, maybe you sold a book now? GRRRR. And your browser even REMEMBERS the site. I type "pub" and it auto-fills Hey, Chrome, maybe I was going to search public library, or public transportation... did you think about that?

::hangs head in shame:: Okay, I wasn't. And when I type kdp there isn't any excuse, I am stalking my sales on Amazon. It's been officially 3 months since I published CANCELLED. pph82wqaaa1vdt6 (that's my two year old's contribution to the post, I'm going to leave it. It's probably some ancient code or something that if we could only decipher, we'd know the answer to everything. Besides 42.)

So 3 months. 25% of a year. 9 books sold on Smashwords. 26 sales on Nook. 82 sales on Amazon. 2 sales on Createspace. 90 days, 119 books sold (I've sold a few more on Amazon UK, but I don't have those numbers yet as I work through Mark Williams international Digital Publishing for those rights, but it's only about 3-5 more sales). I ran a month at $.99 and a month at $2.99. Sold about the same number of books running a promotion in each time period. I'm trying out a $4.99 price point.

I auto tweet my book and friends' books, and blog posts etc. I've taken a break for the last few days (mostly because I want to overhaul the spreadsheets I'm using and I haven't had time to do that yet). In the first week of December, I had over 900 clicks on my link directly to my Amazon purchase page. 1 sale.

When you're stalking your sales, it follows that you begin making assumptions about your efforts. This is a bad plan, because there are ALWAYS variables you can't account for. Did one of your readers tell two of her friends at a play date about your book so they bought it that morning, giving you two sales, but you think it's an ad you ran on a blog that morning? See? (this is also a tenet of Total Quality Management).

I shouldn't worry about CANCELLED. The reviews are positive. I love the book, and that's what I aimed for when I chose to write a romance novel for non-romance readers. I've made major professional inroads with other authors, including a number of best sellers, and top of the line book bloggers. I'm making a name for myself as that girl who likes technology and will try to answer your question. I write a weekly column on another blog about technology, every Sunday. And I'm finally working on my next book. Not talking about my next book, WRITING my next book. I'm still in that quasi-pants it-plot it mode, where I write a handful of scenes organically, then craft a semi-permeable outline, then buckle down and jam it out. SERVED currently has about 2,000 words to its name, but it's better than 0. I also am giving co-writing a novel a try early next year, and I'm very excited about that (can't say too much more, as I might be absolute rubbish at it and the book never sees the light of day with my name on it).

I'm focusing more on making my own marketing magic. I'm organizing a major blog hop in March, and I'm partnered up with a large Nook reader community to help them on a semi-monthly basis to make fun events for their thousands of readers. I have a virtual book signing in January. I owe a blog post to the wonderful Saffina Desforges for December 24th.

But I can't waste time playing the blame game with my sales figures. Yes, I had 900 clicks on my link, but it might have been 800 authors checking my ranking (I'm guilty of that myself). Or, it might have been 400 people clicking, liking what they saw, and downloaded a sample. Only they haven't had a chance to read it yet. Or they read it and it wasn't for them (probably sparing me a 1 or 2 star review had they just purchased it).

I'm just going to keep my head down and really focus on attaining that next level of authorhood: 2 books available for purchase!!!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Got Picture of My Book On a Nook Color And I Don't Even Own One (yet)

Today, I raised my prices on my eBook. There are a slew of reasons that I did this, but mostly, I've never been cozy and comfortable at either $0.99 or $2.99. In many ways, there is just too much competition at those price points (in my opinion) and I don't 100% ascribe to some of the marketing messages other authors put out there when they are tooting their low pricing. Since I am also an indie author AND had the same pricing, my book would have those messages reflected back no matter what.

Pricing is another post. While I was checking to see if my new price had populated to Barnes and Noble, I stumbled on something completely cool. I typed in my book's title in the search bar, and just above the listing was an advertisement for Nooks with MY BOOK in the front! How cool is that? I'm on Mark Williams international Digital Publishing this week with a tech posting just about images and how they work. So consider this a more advanced topic guide. :)

I've tested a few titles, and the site is doing this for all Nook books. I grabbed a screenshot, edited out the surrounding web page stuff (used GIMP to select a square, then cropped to selection), and voila, I now have a photo of my book on the front of a brand new Nook tablet. I did also sharpen the image a bit as the resolution wasn't the greatest.

I've checked the Terms and Conditions of PubIt and can't find anywhere it says I can't highlight the ways Nook is marketing my book. It DOES say that BN has complete discretion to market my book any way that it sees fit, but is not required to do any marketing. Plus, as long as I'm using it to advertise my book listing on Nook, I doubt there will be any issue. Alternatively, I can go in and crop just around the Nook with my book on it, which is probably what I will do next.

If you don't have a Nook Color Tablet yet and you want to get a promotional image of your book on one, this is an easy way to do so!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I'm On the Fence About KDP Select

There are a number of issues with the KDP Select Lending Program that I'm nervous about. I will happily sit on the fence until I see how things shake down. Here's a few of my issues:

How the amounts are calculated...

The example given in the KDP FAQ are very generous. Only 100,000 monthly book borrowed? Only? So out of everyone with a Prime Membership, only 100,000 people will borrow a book? Sure, no problem. We'll go with it.

Then, you get a percentage of the pool of money based on the percentage of downloads you had. That math sounds amazing, as a month with fewer downloads total means you get paid MORE money. Does this make sense? Does it really make sense that Amazon is going to promote and support a program as it dwindles with $500,000 every month? What happens when only 50,000 Prime members download a book, effectively doubling the royalty paid on each download? Flip side, as the program gets more and more readers participating, you get less money per download. They're committing to investing $6 million into the royalty share pool. I'm sure more and more readers will borrow the more expensive, top titles, just like those books are the same ones always with a waiting list at your local library.

I'm concerned about the program's influence on public libraries, many of which are just now going to digital content lending. I don't like the idea of libraries having to pay authors royalties on the content they give out. I firmly believe that public libraries are a strong part of a people's culture, and that information should be available despite economic status. I don't want to see a return of commercial libraries where people pay a membership.

Second issue I have is with the likelihood that my book will be borrowed. My book is $2.99. Remember, a reader can ONLY borrow 1 book per month, or 12 books per year. I already have a hard enough time convincing readers to buy my novel instead of the three to four times more expensive NY Times Bestsellers. How am I going to convince a reader to download my cheaper title for their one book they are allowed per month when I can't even convince them to pay $3.00 for it, which they are saving by borrowing the NY Times Bestseller for free?

The exclusivity clause and allowed to make my book free for 5 days out of every 90 days also troubles me. There is already a mechanism to make your book free on Amazon with price matching. Will there be a crackdown now on authors who use this system to make their book free on Amazon? Will KDP Select, meaning your book now must be exclusive to Amazon, be the only way you can offer it for free?

In the end, I will probably not enroll my novels in KDP Select Lending. I am considering including a short story or two, that I am working on now for publication early next year. They were going to be free or $.99 anyway. I get about 30% of my total sales from B&N, and I sell my book on my personal website. I'm not giving up 30% of my income for an Amazon exclusive program....

Besides, did anyone notice that Barnes and Noble now has an indie book store?

**** I'm not the only author waiting to see how this plays out. Another thoughtful post from author Jessica Dragon Cheramie.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writing Business: Getting Back on Track for 2012

I use many water references on this blog, I'm realizing. Then again,  I've lived nearly my entire life on the East Coast next to a port. My father was in the Navy and my husband is also in the middle of a naval career. But to be clear, I love to be on the water, or near the water, not so big on IN the water (I can't coordinate my breathing well enough to swim underwater).

That aside, this picture really captures how I'm feeling right now about my writing career. There's two sides to a writing career I feel - the constant, disciplined side represented by the continual waves, and the exciting, breath-taking spurts and bursts of wonderfulness.

The bursts of power and recognition come when you get that 5-star review, or wake up and see you sold 5 books while you were sleeping, instead of just one. They are thrilling, but also have a dark side. They can raise unreasonable expectations, create deep lows that make it difficult to feel motivated to work, and really make you crazy as you try to sustain the effort you perceived made it happen.

For the last two months, I was mesmerized by the spurts and bursts in my sales figures. You see, I've improved my sales every single month since I released CANCELLED in September. But lost track of the discipline that allowed the book to be written. Since 9/13/2011, I've written maybe, maybe 1,000 words on any of my new projects. But I've written thousands and thousands of words for blog posts, interviews, tweets, and other marketing endeavors. Next month, I am running a virtual book signing tour (details to be released soon), and I think that will be the end of my concentrated focus for marketing CANCELLED. After January, and four months of living in the sun, it will be time to let my other projects take the limelight.

My mother-in-law really helped me realize just how lost I was... I mentioned to her how I had sold over 100 copies of CANCELLED and this is what she said: "That's great, but we're not proud of you for how many books you sell. We're proud of you that you wrote a book." It took a few days of these words swirling in my brain for it to really dawn on me. Even I'm not really that impressed with other people's sales numbers. I'm not. I'm more impressed with their portfolio of writing. And no one writes novels in a sudden burst (at least not that I know about), they write them with the other side of water; the constant discipline represented by the waves.

I have to use two strategies to keep my wayward focus in line.

1) Never have enough time.

I wrote CANCELLED in 30 minute increments with an 18-month-old under foot, after I had my complete outline drafted. She's now 2.5 years old. I work best under some type of pressure. Nothing insane, but I don't do very well when I don't have a jam packed schedule. When I only had 30 minutes to write, I used every one of them. Now that I have larger blocks, I find myself more and more distracted because I'm the Queen of "I have plenty of time to do this...later."

My husband and I have finally come to a compromise about me going back to work. I was initially hoping that we could get through this lean year of greater expenses due to the move and still owning a home in SC, but it's not a good idea to live so precariously, financially. Instead, I will be looking for a job in January and putting my youngest into daycare for the first time. This was very tough, but hopefully it will only be for a year or so. I'm also hopeful it will give me more time to write. Confused? if I have less time to write, it will become more precious. I won't waste the hours that I have, instead I will be looking for a way to unwind, which is what writing always is for me.

The goal is for me to only need to work for one year, and to hopefully have enough content out available for sale that the small royalty checks will let us enjoy a little extra income, but not rely on my continuing to work. My hope is that my daughter will be in daycare for about a year, stay home with me for a summer, then start preschool one or two days a week when she's 4. (My friend's son went ballistic at that age when she had to pull him back out of daycare at 3.5 to stay home, so it will be  happy medium I think. I WANT to enjoy as much time with my daughter as I can).

2) To-Do Lists.

I love preparation. Preparation is probably my favorite part of ANY project. In light of my going back to work in three weeks, I need to get done what DOES take me enormous amounts of time to do. I will have weekends, and evenings, but there are a few projects on my plate that would benefit from longer hours of attention.

  • My reader website. Oh, it's pathetic. It's there, but I need to give it far more TLC than I have. 
  • Two new sites I am working on for my international publisher. One is an estore, the other an interface for authors to upload files for publishing. I'm using my two favorite CMS engines, Wordpress and Drupal. 
  • Fine-tune my social media presence. I will have a shorter time period to work with, so my interactions will need to be very focused. I won't be able to just sit on Twitter.
  • Get my projects outlined. If I'm going back to writing in 30 minutes at a time, and I am, then I need clear outlines for the projects I want to get done next year. Things still happen spontaneously in my writing, but having the outline prevents me from staring at a blank page. It might be the non-fiction writer in me from years and years of essays. But even just a simple goal for a scene, or a few details is all I need to work my magic.
I know this is a very personal blog post, but I've been rereading some of my earlier blog posts from last year, back before I had any followers. It's been very inspiring to see just how far I've come as a writer and I'm looking forward to reaching new destinations, not necessarily heights, in the New Year.

How about you? How is YOUR writing business going? Are you making adjustments for 2012? Share them below!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Sirens 1: Derek Blass and Enemy in Blue

Working together is vital for indie authors. We can't waste energy on worrying about competing with each other, books are disposable entertainment, not a zero-sum game (meaning most readers do not have the attitude of only buying/reading a certain number of books but rather plan to eventually read all books that interest them).

I am elated to support the authors and readers of police and crime dramas in this year's Holiday Sirens blog tour. Today, I am hosting author Derek Blass and his book Enemy in Blue. Derek is not only an author, he is also a top lawyer in the Denver, Colorado area. Perhaps the fact that he lives the everyday aspect of criminal justice is why his debut novel has 34 5-star rankings!! Enemy in Blue takes a different look at the tough topic of police brutality and is a novel you don't want to miss.

Here's more about Derek:

How did you come up with the title?

That's a fun question.  There was one working title, that ended up not working by the time the book was done.  Things change, A LOT, over the course of writing a book!  Once it was apparent that a new title was necessary, I enlisted my wife and some of my readers to help me find a new title.  Through countless brainstorming sessions, one of my readers came up with "Evil in Blue."  I liked it, but not 100%.  I was grabbing the mail one day, and "Enemy in Blue" just came to me.  Funny how things happen!

Have you dealt with questions regarding whether the book is "anti-cop?"

Definitely.  And, it should be noted, the book is not anti-cop at all.  It is anti-bad cop.  Naturally, not all, or even the majority of cops, are bad.  Unfortunately though, something we're seeing more and more of as the proliferation of smart phones and phones with recording devices continues, are increased instances of police brutality.  That's really what drove me to write the book.  

Is the book based on real life events, or taken strictly from your imagination?

Again, unfortunately, the book derives from some real life events that are fictionalized for purposes of the book.  If people are interested in learning more about the underpinnings of some scenes in the book, they should Google "Frank Lobato," "Juan Vasquez," "Michael DeHerrera," and "Marvin Booker."  Throw in "DPD" for good measure.  These are all instances of police brutality that have taken place in Denver in the last six or so years.  I explain to people, without me moving to Denver, and without these incidents, Enemy in Blue likely would not have happened.  Now, my book is not historical fiction, so much of what is written is completely from my imagination!

What was the biggest artistic influence on your book?

As to writing style, has to be Don Delillo.  I have read everything he has written, and am always captivated by how he writes.  As to what I see in my head, and what I want to get down on paper?  Tarantino (the movie director) has a huge impact on me.  I think that he does a near-perfect job of blending visuals, action and music together, and I aspired to create something as thrilling as one of his movies in Enemy in Blue.

How did you choose your genre?Hard to explain, but I can see action in my head.  Fight scenes.  Car chases.  Torture, kidnapping, etc.  (Honestly, I'm not a violent guy in real life!)  It was as natural to me to write thrillers with a heavy dose of action as it would be for Christopher Moore to write cheeky fiction.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I've written a lot since I was young, and started on many novels but never followed through to finish one.  It's really a labor of love, and with a full-time job that I am committed to (attorney), it takes substantial discipline to keep writing.  That being said, there is nothing more beautiful than writing a story, or more appropriately put, to having characters write a story for you.  When I write, I'm just as surprised by their decisions as my readers.  My characters drive my story and that is an amazing aspect of writing that everyone should try!  If people are interested, I started a blog on writing a while back ( that describes many of the fun, and tedious, nuances of writing.

With all the other thrillers out there, why buy Enemy in Blue?

It's a no nonsense book, full of action and entertainment.  I wrote the book for my readers, not for myself.  I promise that you will be captivated by the action over the course of the book.  At the same time, the book invites you to be introspective on issues of illegal immigration, police brutality, and political corruption.  It's not just mind candy, but it's also not a book that will club you over the head with principles.  From a purely cost/benefit analysis, both versions of the book are very competitively priced, and the Kindle version is less than a dang cup of coffee at Starbucks!  I promise it will deliver more lasting enjoyment than that cup of joe!

Sequel possible?

Oh, yeah!  I'm working on a book that involves several of the same characters right now--and I'm trying to get it done soon because I've got a new family member coming to our family in February!


Well a HUGE congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Blass. Having a two-year-old myself, I can honestly say you're in for the best roller coaster ride of your life. It's got many highs and lows and lasts forever, but seems to move far too fast at the same time. 

 Please check out Enemy in Blue and when you like it, be sure to tell a friend or two! :)

Enemy in Blue is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Pick up your copy today or make it a gift for the crime thriller enthusiast in your life.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)