Ego: How important is it? Seasoned Authors Series

ego bplanet

As a person with low self esteem, I probably shouldn’t write books. Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith described writing this way: “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

Writing is a lot like that for me. It’s an emotional endeavor with, at times, little reward. For every twenty people who love my book, there is one who hates it. Writers like me don’t obsess about the good reviews, but doggone, those harsh ones stick around for a while. (See our Seasoned Authors’ advice on bad reviews here.)

People—and my publisher—tell me I’m a good writer. SCENT OF THE SOUL is a TRR Readers Choice Nominee with blush-worthy reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. My next novel, SCATTERED SEEDS, has yet to release, but it’s already placed in contests and earned glowing critiques from my peers.

So why don’t I feel “good enough” yet? Will I ever feel good enough? I suppose not. Some of today’s best writers still struggle to get past “I Suck,” the village where I reside.

I’m mystified by those writers with the opposite problem, those egomaniacs who are so awesome they can’t possibly improve upon their writing.

How do you find the middle ground between I-Sucktown and Awesomeville? Is there some valley between the two where a writer can live in peace?

I sat down to discuss the importance of ego with our Seasoned Authors, whose bios follow. You can learn more about them and their work by clicking their names.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner. At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


Ego: how important is it? Is it important to listen to the voices telling you you’re great, or is it more valuable to admit your flaws and aim to improve your work?


Collette: Good writers always aim to improve their writing and never feel like they’ve arrived, in my opinion.

Tema: I like to think of those ever so profound words from Mary Poppins: “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

It’s important to admit you have more to learn and accept constructive criticism; however, patting yourself on the back and congratulating yourself on how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved is just as important. After all, writing is a journey and journeys sometimes take years.

Tina: I go back and forth with this. Some days I NEED to remind myself that someone out there in the publishing world liked what I wrote enough to publish it. That maybe I’m doing something right. Then there are the days when I say to myself, “What makes you think you can write a book?” Self-doubt is always there. The first time someone told me she had my book on her ‘keeper shelf,’ I cried – and cried in front of her. I believe that, like most authors, I’ll write something that I think is wonderful, then go back and read it a few days later and wonder what the heck I was thinking. We are our own worst (or maybe best) critics.

Catherine: Writers need a balance of both of these things. If we didn’t think we were a little great we’d never have the nerve to approach editors. If we don’t think we can improve and keep reaching for the stars, then we’ll probably lose those contracts and never make successes of ourselves. I once heard the story of a NY Times best-selling author who attended a writing workshop while at a big conference where she was the keynote speaker. When asked why, she said “I always have room for improvement and there’s always something I can learn.” If a best-selling author has room for improvement, then surely the rest of us do, too.

Ryan Jo: Ego has no value in a writer’s life. Those of us who make it, sell a script to a publishing house, have been blessed and lucky. We should treat it as the opportunity it is, not boast how great we are. We should never forget there are untold numbers of writers out there who are better than us, who have for whatever reason not been handed the break we just were. We should be thankful and humble, and pay it forward. And yes, by all means, if we want that second, third, etc… book, we had better admit our flaws and work hard at improving our future works. Writing and publishing is hard work. It’s also fun, but it is just that—work. And art, that we must consistently work at to get better at.

Stacy: My ego tells me the opposite, as in “oh no, this story is no good,” with every first draft I do. The most valuable tool I have is persistence. Speaking with other writers in my RWA chapter and on my author’s loops gives me comfort that I’m not alone with this “anti-ego”. We give each other writing advice so we can grow and improve. Maybe it’s our insecurity that keeps us receptive to learning.

Samanthya: Who are those voices telling you, you are great? Your editor—heck yeah. Thank you very much. Your reviewers—yes. Love you. Your friends—are they a tad Biased? Partial? Influenced? You know how good you are. Own it. And be proud. But there is always room for improvement.

Petie: I lost my ego after I gained enough rejection letters to wallpaper my guest bedroom — before I was eventually offered a contract. Ego has no place in publishing — it never helps and only hurts. Appreciate the readers you have, try to attract more, and… keep writing the best book you can!!


What do you do to combat self-doubt?


Collette: A little bit of self-doubt is healthy; it should motivate you to be a better writer. If, however, your self-doubt comes off as needy or whiney, then you need to reassess why you are writing. Wanting constant kudos or encouragement isn’t going to get the book written, make you a better writer, or hone your craft.

Tema: I take the words: “I loved your book!”, or “When is the next book booking out? I can’t wait!”, or “You are such a great writer!”—I spread those words like whipped cream on a dessert and I lick them up. That kind of praise sustains me through the darker moments of self-doubt.

Tina: I mind talk. There are days when it’s tough, but I’m constantly telling myself I’m a good writer, I’m a good person, I’m a good mother, I’m a good ‘whatever,’ because no one else will. I found a new mantra that has helped me combat self-doubt, “Happiness is a choice.” Self-doubt is a happiness drainer. It can bring on depression. Whenever I feel myself sinking into that pit of self-doubt, I remind myself, “Happiness is a choice.” I choose to be happy.

Catherine: I just keep repeating my mantra: I’m an award-winning author. It does wonders for the ego. If you have no awards yet (notice I said yet, because if you work at it, you will sooner or later), find your own ego-boosting mantra and post it where you can see it and repeat it to yourself often. Like the little train that could, we need to keep telling ourselves we can. Eventually, it will happen.

Ryan Jo: Not much of a problem for me, thankfully. I have plenty of it in other areas of my life, but I have enough confidence in my skills as a writer.

Samanthya: Just keep writing and trying to get better at my craft. Every book I write shows an improvement, at least I think so. I’m learning every day. My writing seems to flow better, I’ve taken so many workshops and learned so much, I’m really proud of what I have accomplished.

Petie: I live with self-doubt; I just work to ignore it. I remind myself how happy I am when I’m creating a new story or dolling up a completed story in editing. My mantra: You’re not in this for the money. Works for me.


Are you a confident writer, or my neighbor in Isuckistan?

Up Next Week: Protecting your writing time and space.

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series Tagged with:

What Should Writers Do Before Publication? Seasoned Authors Series

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles

Today’s Seasoned Authors blog is geared toward those of you still aiming for your first contract. I’ll bet you think all you have to do is write a good book, right? How do I know that? Because it’s what I thought, too. I know better now, but unfortunately, being unprepared for my first contract left me scurrying to catch up with the rest of the published world.

You can do yourself a favor by getting organized now. Yes, you need to write that awesome book, but you’re going to need a few more things, like a web presence, blog topics, etc. Prospective agents and publishers will Google you. Show them you’re serious about a career in writing.

Plan to worry about it when the time comes?

Don’t.

When you land your contract (and you have to believe you will, because if you don’t believe, who will?), you will be swamped with edits, marketing, interviews, and writing your next novel.

Our Seasoned Authors would like you to know what you should be doing now, before you land your first contract. Feel free to click on their names to learn more about them.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner.  At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


What should writers do before publication (other than write the best book possible, of course!) Should pre-pubbed writers have websites? Blogs?


Collette: A website is a must. It’s the hub for where readers, etc. can find you. Pre-pubbed authors need a few social media outlets too. How else will you begin to build a platform and following?

Tema: Yes, writers must have websites, a blog is helpful. Author’s must have pages on websites like Goodreads, and Book Movement, but most important are those reviews by bloggers, book sites, and media.

Tina: I’ve been trying to convince my unpublished friends in my writers’ group to start blogging and getting a website now, before they’re published. Because I was published with my history books before my romances, I already had a website. I hadn’t blogged, but I wish I had well before the books had come out. My friends wonder what they have to talk about since they’re not published. I keep telling them they should blog about anything they want to, to gain a following. Blog about your writing process. Blog about how your characters are driving you crazy. Blog how you had to dump the first 10,000 words you wrote. (Something Jude Deveraux did.) Blog about your dog, cat, kids, husband, birds, etc. pestering you while you try to write. Blog about a trip you took. Anything to get people interested. Then when you get a contract, blog about the excitement, the editing process, your new cover, etc.

Catherine: I think pre-pubbed writers should have their social media stuff in place before they hit the ground running with a book. I didn’t, and I’m still playing catch-up with my social media-except for my blog. I had that under my belt when I sold my first book. I had a hellacious social media learning curve for everything else while I was trying to get my book edited and marketed. Because of that, I made some mistakes.

Ryan Jo: Yes, set up the blogs, websites, pages, etc… before the book comes out. You can start with the basics and add to it as more evolves. But you want to start promoting your release 4-6 months before it comes out if possible. Book cover launch, giveaways, teasers tweets/ teaser posts, there are tons of things you can do to drum up routine interest in a book months and weeks before the book is available. So definitely yes.

Stacy: I would recommend pre-pubbed writers having websites and blogs. I didn’t and when I suddenly found myself published I had a heck of a time playing catch-up.

Samanthya: A website is necessary for any author. How else can someone learn about you? If you don’t have a lot of money for someone to set you up with a nice site, you can do your own. Workshops are offered all the time. SAVVY Authors have offered a ton of workshops, RWA chapters offer many workshops, and any author can create a website.

Petie: Everybody has their own opinions on how to market on social media, but I think most authors would say that having an informative web site with pictures and excerpts, etc. is a must-have for a pre-pubbed author. The first place a reader will go after reading and enjoying a new author is to Google to search for them. I do it, and I never cease to be amazed when I find an author without a web page.

Everybody has their own idea on what works with social media, but I can tell you I have changed my mind in recent months. I have sold way more books using Twitter than Facebook or Pinterest. Twitter is a two-way street though, and you can’t just tweet ads about your books or no one will retweet your posts or follow you, which builds your tweet possibilities. Each book promo tour I have done has added 75-100 Twitter followers.


Here’s a bonus interview question for all you aspiring writers . . .
Seasoned authors, are there any how-to books you recommend for fellow writers?


Tema: I keep trying to convince myself to purchase some of those “how-to sell a million books in a week” books, but the thought of actually reading them gives me a headache.

I do read blogs and articles about self-promotion, marketing, blogging, and advertising.

Tina: I don’t really read the how-two books, but I do subscribe to several writing blogs. No matter how much you’re published, there is always something to learn or re-learn. There are a couple of books I go to as I write. One is “The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book” by Jean Kent and Candace Shelton. The others are by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. They also have a blog called “Writers Helping Writers” that is excellent. The books are: “The Emotion Thesaurus,” The Positive Trait Thesaurus,” and “”The Negative Trait Thesaurus.”

Catherine: Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Anything by James Scott Bell or Donald Maas. I’m also a firm believer in the Hero’s Journey. It’s helped me solve some plot issues.

Ryan Jo: Chicago Manual of Style. AP Handbook of Style. A great thesaurus and dictionary. Those are basics. Books written by people who write your genre. I also like ‘Talk up Your Book’ by Patricia Fry because she covered things I have trouble with—namely talking to others about my books.

Petie: The greatest how-to writing book I have ever read is Stephen King’s On Writing. Though it’s part autobiography, the fiction master shares his pearls of wisdom on what worked for him and what might work for you. I’ve read the book three times.


Are you working on the next great novel? Tell us about it!

Up Next Week . . . Ego: how important is it?

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with:

Facebook – Friend or Foe? Seasoned Authors Series

facebook

If you’re on my Facebook friends list—Shameless plug, you can find my author page HERE-–then you know I’m an Oversharer. I just can’t seem to resist the seductive lure of Social Media, and in truth, I’ve sold many books because of it.

It’s hard to know, though, when I’ve gone from “engaging” to “annoying” with regard to any sort of promotional posts. Too much self-promotion can work against us, since potential readers will either hit the “unlike” button or hide our posts to avoid seeing another round of  “buy my book” posts in their feeds.

How do we use Facebook to generate interest without overdoing it? Let’s ask our seasoned authors, whose websites can be viewed by clicking their names:

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner. At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


Do you find Facebook Reader/Writer and Self-Promotion groups helpful at all, or do you think the barrage of self-promotion turns readers away?


Collette: Most of these groups have turned into purely promotion sites that only authors visit. There are few exceptions. I know some Facebook groups that restrict promo and encourage interaction based on the groups purpose. There are also some groups out there intended strictly for promotion and my street team members often post to them for me.

Tema: I can only speak for myself. I receive so many self-promotion e-mails that I feel inundated and overwhelmed. Most of them I just delete. Except for Soul Mate sisters, that is.

Tina: Personally, if an author is constantly tweeting or posting on FB to ‘buy my book, buy my book,’ I get turned off. I don’t even read the posts. I think a mix between posting things about your writing and posting links to your books is good. Readers like to know what we’re writing or what problems we’re having with writing. I’ve been following Jude Deveraux on FB and it’s refreshing for me to see that a multi, multi published authors goes through the same trials and tribulations I do. Readers also enjoy hearing little personal things about yourself, but please, don’t publish your views on religion, politics, or anything controversial.

Catherine: Facebook flummoxes me, and because I have a page, not a profile, I can’t participate in any Facebook closed groups. So, I’m not much help on this question.

Ryan Jo: I belong to several on line FB groups and honestly, trying to keep up with them all, respond even briefly to the other posts and remember which ones allow what within the rules is too much for me. And as a reader, I tend to shy away from constant barrage.

Samanthya: I love Facebook parties. I have found some new authors and some new fans. I think you can get carried away with self-promotion, and a lot of author contacts are other authors. I’m not sure how to hook readers, but if you have more books out there, more opportunity for someone to find you.

Petie: Please don’t crucify me for this opinion, but I truly think most of the promos posted on Facebook group pages end up authors marketing and promoting to other authors doing the same thing who have no budget to buy all the books or even have the inclination. I’ve gone down the Facebook feed for some of the groups, and all the posts are ads from authors. I don’t ever recall seeing a post from a reader.

Post a message about your book, wait ten minutes, and then go back to the group feed and see how far down the list your post has already dropped. That’s how fast authors are putting up new ads. So how can readers — if there are some actually reading the posts — absorb all those ads and pay attention to yours tucked within the mass of others?

Should we waste our time on these promos? You have to decide if it’s a time suck or not. If creating the promo only takes a few minutes to do, then what could it hurt? If it’s taking a while and taking you away from your writing, then you might want to rethink the effort.


Since Facebook changed the way Newsfeeds are sorted, do you worry that too much self-promotion will work against you in terms of your followers either unliking your page or hiding your posts?


Collette: I personally avoid self-promotion unless I have a new release, sale, giveaway, or win a contest. I don’t want to spam my friends and followers because I hate it myself.

Tema: I definitely think there is a point of no return, too much just looks like desperation. Reviews are more important, I want to focus more on getting those “anointing” reviews that are far more meaningful to readers.

Catherine: Again, Facebook perplexes me, and they will do whatever they want, whether I like it or not. So why worry? I’d rather blog or Tweet anyway.

Stacy: Never post on your own page too much self-endorsement. Think of FB not a static billboard to shout out your product, but an opportunity to talk to real-life people. Would you want to hang out with someone who only talks about him/herself? Exactly! So be interactive on FB and post things that will be interesting and useful to others.

Samanthya: I must admit I don’t have a lot of traffic on my Author Page. But I have a ton of friends on my regular page. People like more fun posts or pretty pictures than an author constantly posting promo material. So I post a lot of fun stuff on my Facebook page.

Petie: Have you ever unliked someone’s page because they inundated you with their self-promotion? However much that was, you’ll want your quantity to be far less or you risk the same fate. No one likes to be inundated with “buy me” posts.

Have you found a great way to use Social Media? What do you think works (or doesn’t)? Weigh in!

Up Next Week: What every writer should do before getting a contract.

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series Tagged with: , ,

Throwing a Facebook Launch Party – Seasoned Authors Series

launch partySince I’m awaiting final edits for SCATTERED SEEDS, it’s time to start thinking about throwing a Facebook launch party. As you can see in the photograph, my giveaways are starting to pile up. I’m going with 18th century and Irish themes, so I have everything from 18th century playing cards to tin cups to St. Brigid’s crosses that my husband brought all the way from the Soggy Auld Sod. We even made those dice!

I enjoy Facebook parties, and I’m honored when another author asks me to co-host one. Not only are they a lot of fun, but I always see an upswing in sales and new “likes” on my Facebook page after an event. I gained 30 new “likers” after co-hosting one party.

Don’t expect those numbers for every party. Some events are more successful than others, but that’s just how it goes. A lot depends upon how many supporters and readers an author has. I am extremely blessed in that regard, which means I can always count on a few friends and readers following me into an event I’m co-hosting. This benefits the launching author by introducing my readers to her work. Likewise, her readers are introduced to me during the event. And, my followers get the chance to win a prize. It’s truly a win-win-win, and you get a good deal of reward for a small investment of your time.

How do you get people to attend your launch party? You entice them with lots of chances to win great stuff, including free copies of your books (I would recommend sending through Amazon, not emailing your ARC), since that means you might gain a review later on. You should create pre-party chatter by posting little teasers about co-hosts who have agreed to take a time slot and sharing photographs of your giveaway loot. Make it sound like a big deal, because frankly, it is a big deal! The more chatter you create, the better attended your party will be. Definitely invite your family and friends. They are your proud supporters, and their banter will bring life to the event.

Trivia contests are always fun at these events. You can help your co-hosts by giving them leads well in advance. For example, co-hosts for SCATTERED SEEDS should prepare questions relating to 18th century Ireland and America. However, since the idea is to engage readers, you don’t want to make the questions so hard that attendees leave the event to Google the answers. This happened to me at a recent event, and I’ve since learned that it’s often better to ask things that everyone can answer, like, “Where’s the most exotic place you’ve visited?” You can also put up a picture and ask attendees to caption it or name the characters in the scene.

Definitely make a script for yourself, and be prepared to post something new every ten minutes of your time slot. I keep a “Launch Party Scripts” folder on my PC. The folder contains all of my past trivia questions and corresponding images. You’ll find you can recycle many of them, which will save you time in the future.

I asked our seasoned authors what they think of Facebook parties. Here’s the lineup of today’s participants:

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner. At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.


What do you think of Facebook launch parties?


Collette: I’ve been involved in a bunch of Facebook events and have found them a nice venue to meet new readers as well as network with other authors. There are guests who go from event to event just looking for giveaways and whose intent is to pirate books so you have to be careful.

Tema: I’m all for parties, count me in. No, seriously, I haven’t done one, but, for my Soul Mate Publishing debut I certainly want one.

Tina: I haven’t done one – yet. When my next book comes out, I’ll have my assistant help with that. I joined a few for other authors and it’s fun hearing the excitement they have for their new release.

Catherine: Never had one, never attended one, so I don’t have any feelings on way or another. As I said before Facebook and I don’t get along. J

Ryan Jo: Never been to one. I have been invited to a few, but never found the time as I was usually at my ‘day job’. And I lack the ambition to try my own. If someone had a good following, sufficient social media skills and time, I’d say they could consider trying it.

Samanthya: I like them. You can learn a lot about an author. I love Facebook parties because they are fun. You get to know the other people posting, you find out what part of the country they are from, and we play and laugh a lot.

Have you thrown or co-hosted a Facebook launch party? Ever attend one? What worked (and didn’t)?

Up Next Week: What should writers do pre-publication?

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series Tagged with: , , ,

Keeping It All Organized – Seasoned Authors Series

mess

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles

If you saw my writing space, you would weep for me. It’s crammed into a corner where the kitchen counter meets the dining room archway. I can almost touch the electric kettle, where my husband goes for tea at least a hundred times a day.

Stacks of writing magazines teeter on the dining table behind me. I’ve been meaning to read those. For, like, a year. At the far end of the room, a box of shipping supplies remains on the floor from my last launch party. I can see no part of my desk’s surface, thanks to schedules, bills (Oh, crap, I forgot to pay the post office box fee!), enough Post-Its to host my own ticker tape parade, and notebooks of every size and color.

It’s enough to make me want to strike a match.

The thing is, I’m an extremely organized person in all other areas of my life. If you ask my boss and coworkers at my day job to name my best professional quality, I’m pretty sure most would say, “Her organizational skills.” (We know it’s not going to be my positive outlook and go-getter attitude!)

So why is my writing space so disorganized? Because I’m a super busy writer with a tight schedule there’s no one holding me accountable. Most of the mess is marketing stuff, since that task seems to be taking over my life these days.

Am I the only author losing the battle will to stay organized? What’s the best way to track what works (or doesn’t), other than reams of paper scattered all over the house? I asked our seasoned authors how they keep it all together. In this digital world, you would think most would use computer calendars and spreadsheets, wouldn’t you? Yes, well, you’d be wrong.

Here’s the lineup and what they have to say about staying organized. Please feel free to click on their names to learn more about them.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner. At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


Today’s authors must do at least some of their own marketing. How do you keep everything organized? Spreadsheets? Word documents? Paper calendar?


Collette: I simply keep a list in a file for each of my books on my computer detailing what promotion I’ve used and whether it’s been worthwhile or not.

Tema: I kind of market by the seat of my pants, but I spend an hour or more every day on marketing. I keep folders filled with suggestions, how-to’s, websites, etc. If I had my way I’d do none of it. I much prefer being in my cave with my laptop filling pages.

Tina: I can honestly say, I still feel like I’m floundering with this. Because I write under two names, for two publishers, I have two FB accounts, two Twitter accounts, two websites, and two blogs. I’m hoping to pass some of this over to my assistant. I do feel like if I have her do more, I may lose personal contact with readers, which is an issue for me. Guess I may be a control freak.

Catherine: I like a paper calendar to keep me abreast of what’s coming up next, because one glance shows me everything. Color coding it helps, too. But I keep all my files about the blogs tours, review sites and such as Word documents. I’m trying to conquer the paper tiger, which prowls freely in my office.

Ryan Jo: Paper calendar for sure! I am old school Paper organized. Folders, calendar, notebooks. Everything has a name and a place. And I still manage to slip up once in a while.

Stacy: Paper calendar. I jot notes on my Dunkin’ Donuts calendar to keep myself on track. As an extra bonus prize, it comes with coffee coupons, which is far as I’m concerned is a gift for writers everywhere.

Samanthya: Being an accountant, I have pretty good organization skills and record keeping. I keep a calendar for blog posts and other appointments, I have a record book with a list of authors, blog spots, Facebook parties, but it is still difficult to keep up with so many when I need to work on a deadline.

Petie: I use all of the above. If you aren’t tracking your investments and public relations spreads, you are wasting your time. Not all advertising sites work the same. Some are successful and some just collect your money and bury you on a backlist or page. You have to keep track of where your efforts worked and resulted in sales and where they didn’t, so you know how to plot your future marketing strategies. And never overlap your advertising efforts on the same day or you will never know how each individual ploy worked out.

How do you stay organized? Do you prefer computer programs or old-fashioned paper?

Up Next Week: Throwing a Facebook Launch Party

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series Tagged with: , ,

When Your Book Falls in Rank – Seasoned Authors Series

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by pat138241

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by pat138241

My debut novel shot out of the gates. I remember checking my rank on the hour, squealing with delight when the book moved up into the top 100 in several Amazon lists. That heady feeling became rather addictive, and it continued well into the second and third months post-release. Then, my book baby started to fall ever-so-slightly. Did I stop checking? Heck, no! In fact, I think I checked more frequently. Talk about a waste of time. Still, I could not help myself. I am a first rate worrier, and as a new author, I thought perhaps my rank translated into the degree of success . . . or failure.

I still have what I think are respectable, consistent sales for a book that released eight months ago, but I’m starting to see big peaks and valleys between 60,000 and 400,000, and as a new author, I wonder if free falling rank is cause for concern.

What should we do when our books start to slip in rank? Does rank even matter? Let’s ask our trusty Seasoned Authors.

Here’s the lineup this week. Please feel free to click on their names to learn more about them.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner. At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


What do you do when your book falls in rank? And at what position do you start to worry about your title? Should authors even worry about rank? Is there a magic number that makes you hit panic mode?


Collette: I don’t think there is a magic number, and freaking out about rank will only zap your creativity. Write the next book, do a giveaway or two or three, engage readers, and let the rankings be.

Tema: I just did a Kindle Countdown and it seems to have thrown me back up to the top in several genres. Not a best seller by any standard yet, but I’m in the running.

Tina: From what I understand, ranking on Amazon does not necessarily reflect sales. Because my first book came out two years ago, I don’t even look at them anymore. When it goes on sale or for free, I do watch them. To me, hovering over rankings takes time away from what I should be doing – writing the next book. I certainly don’t lose any sleep over them.

Catherine: Stop watching the numbers and write the next book. I don’t worry about my numbers now. I watched them like a hawk at first, but it got to be an obsession, so I quit. I’m not in this to be an overnight success—that only happens once in a blue moon, and I’m quite aware of that. I write because I can’t not write. I did it before I was published and I’d still do it if I never got another contract. Like my publisher says, write the next book so when your breakout book hits you’ll have a backlist for readers to discover. I like that advice. 

Ryan Jo: To be honest, I don’t even look at rank. I check my sales, just to see which book is selling and how many copies. Where it falls in the ‘rankings’, I don’t worry about. Like age, weight and such, they are all just numbers and change anyway. I know authors who obsess over their rankings, and if it motivates them, great.

Stacy: For me there is no set number for “free fall” or “panic time.” Numbers flux over time. I have made it a point with myself not to make myself crazy over it. I do, however, check my sales numbers periodically. If sales are down, sometimes I focus more on marketing. I post in Facebook clubs, which does take some time. I also take time to see which low-cost ads will be effective and then schedule those ads. But I’ve found that sales will also go up and down inexplicably.

For me, concentrating on writing my next book is the best way to get my numbers up. Each new release brings me a larger amount of sales, and new readers. My advice would be to not worry about rank because writing the next book may solve the ranking problem.

Samanthya: The best thing an author can do is write. No need to panic. Your book will sell or it won’t. Keep writing.

Petie: All authors worry about rank. It’s inevitable and it’s also probably psychologically repressive to do so. However, we can’t seem to help it. An author has to resign themselves to continue marketing, pressing, and interacting regularly with readers for the long haul. I’ve run promos where spikes occur soon and promos where spikes occur later. Readers step up to the plate at different times, and you can’t control them. Do your best job every day, put your best marketing foot forward, and then force yourself to stand back and let the chips fall where they may.

If you don’t constantly push marketing efforts for a book on some type of regular basis, your rank will naturally erode, but do not fear. I’ve recently done a book tour for an older release of mine that had been out for two years, and the tour was just as successful as the ones for my new spring release. So never panic, but never give up on your rank either.


Sage advice from our seasoned authors. Do you worry about rank? How often do you check? Come on, ‘fess up!

Up next week: Keeping it All Organized.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Blog Tours – Are They Worth It? Seasoned Author Series

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s nothing better than firing up your laptop and seeing your book baby in lights. To keep novels in the limelight, many authors use Virtual Book Tours, or simply, Blog Tours.

What is a blog tour? Quite simply, it’s a list of blogs where your book is featured over the course of a month or two. You can arrange one yourself by creating a schedule and filling the “stops” with bloggers. The tour stops can include anything from simple spotlights with a buy link to in-depth reviews, guest blogs, or interviews. Putting together your own tour is difficult, not only because it’s time-consuming, but because it’s hard to find willing bloggers.

Established tour companies have an array of bloggers at the ready. Pricing varies according to the length and type of tour. Many of them ask bloggers not to review if they do not like your book, but you should ask about this up front. Before booking with a host, you should follow a few of their tours to get a feel for how they operate. Is the home page frequently updated? Are there too many images, creating a slow-loading page that will chase readers away? Are there frequent no-shows on the tours? Do the reviews have a “canned” feel to them, like the reviewers only skimmed the books they are spotlighting? Do the bloggers have many subscribers? Do they cross-promote on Social Media?

Let’s ask our trusty Seasoned Authors how they feel about the matter.

Here’s the lineup this week. Please feel free to click on their names to learn more about them.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner.  At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


What do you think of blog tours?


Collette: I have a couple of companies I really like. Not only have the owners proven ethical and provided the service they promised, the price has been reasonable.

I’ve also dealt with other tour sites that have not come through, been quite expensive, pirated my books, and even had a host attack me when I didn’t comment the day I was hosted on their site. I’d had a neighbor of 24 years die and my mother-in-law had a stroke. Needless to say, I’ve not used that site since.

I also have an assistant who schedules me on blog sites I can’t get onto on my own.

Tema: I actually have never done one, but it seems like a great idea and many authors swear by them.

Tina: I’ve been part of some. I’ve also been part of Facebook parties, which, to me, are more personal. You get to interact with readers who are following the party. Both take a lot of time.

Catherine: I’ve done a few, but can’t say if they’ve been extremely helpful for selling books. I saw a small uptick in sales, but not a long lasting rise. Blog tours can be fun, though. But like any other marketing tool, they require time away from the book writing. It took weeks to write all the posts for my Goddess Fish tour. So, choose carefully. I think if I did another paid tour, I’d choose a tour that guaranteed reviews with my posts. It’s a sure return on your money.

Ryan Jo: I have never tried a blog tour. It is something on my wish list. I think I might save it for a release I feel especially moved about. ‘This’ is the one I want everyone in the world to see. Like everything else, you pay for the convenience of having the work mostly done for you compared to seeing up your own contacts and schedules. Is the reach and results any better? I’ve heard writers say yes and no.

Samanthya: I recently booked a promotional blog tour. Many believe a blog tour is the way to go. I’ve been a guest on author blog spots and I have hosted authors in my Teaser Tuesday Newsletter. I like helping other authors and I think it is good to support each other. Who knows what all works? Getting your name out there is important.

Petie: I LOVE them. I have had great luck with some of them — I have used three different tour companies in the last year. My best suggestion — do your homework on the tour company(s) before you sign on. Go to one of the recent tours listed on their web page and visit each of the blog sites on the tour list, paying particular attention to the number of subscribers and/or followers listed in the stats for each site. Check the number of web pages on the participating blog sites. Is it a regular blog with multiple pages or one with just a home page that only lists promos for a particular tour company? These are important issues for it’s not just the number of sites the tour company books for your blitz or your cover reveal or your review tour, but also the quality of the sites that will ensure your marketing success on the tour.

There you go, more great advice from our Seasoned Author Series. Have you used a tour company? Was your experience a positive one?

Up next week: RANK. Should you worry about it?

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series, Writing Tagged with: , , ,

Book Reviews – Seasoned Authors Series

Photo courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“LAAAAME.”

That’s the word that sent me back to therapy, nearly ended my marriage, and stripped me of all confidence.

It happened on a blog tour, something I’d shelled out hard-earned money for, and it was a real kick in the crotch. The rest of the tour was a whopping success, and in truth, even my harsh reviewer still gave me three stars and wrote much good about my novel. Hers was, however, the first spark of negativity after a string of awesome reviews, and that single word she used—“LAAAAME”—obliterated all others. It settled into a corner of my mind where it festered for nearly two months. Nobody—NOBODY!—likes their work to be criticized, let alone called lame. It cut me to the quick.

I’ve grown into a big girl since then, and looking back, I’m grateful for that reviewer’s honesty. Fellow newbs, we will get bad reviews. Sometimes, we’ll deserve them. Sometimes, we won’t. And one thing I’ve learned since my debut release is that bad reviews often say more about the reader than our work.

For example, I am presently enjoying a novel set in very early 17th century America. The author’s style and voice are fabulous, and her setting authentic, including her hero’s adherence to religious principles at a time when men probably prayed before farting. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I checked the book’s reviews and found single stars because readers thought the book “too religious.”

This is a perfect example of what I mean by reviews being more about the reader. Sometimes, your story will unwittingly hit a reader’s hot button. I’ve even seen some bad ones given merely because a the book contained a swear word, or because the reader doesn’t like stories about dragons.

We need book reviews, good and bad. How do we get them? And when we do get those bad ones, how do we handle them?

I asked our trusty Seasoned Authors. Here’s the lineup this week! Please feel free to click on their names to learn more about them.

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner.  At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.

Aven Ellis is a bestselling author of sports fiction.


Why do you think most readers don’t review books they purchase?


Collette: Quite simply, it’s a time thing. It takes time and effort and everyone is short on time these days. They also don’t have a connection to the author.

Tema: That’s one I haven’t figured out yet. I write a review for almost every book I read, both on Amazon and on Goodreads. It’s my favorite kind of blog, a promotion I heartily enjoy. People are lazy, they’d rather get the notches on their belt of amounts of books I’ve read, then take the time to analyze what they’ve read and spend the time sharing it. We are all so busy in our lives, running on the treadmill of life. I guess it’s hard to find the time.

Tina: It may be simply a time factor.

Catherine: Procrastination. A busy life. They don’t like the book. They mean to leave a review, but forget. Take your pick.

Ryan Jo: Time for one. Trying to figure out what to say. Fear of being found out if they didn’t like it and left a bad review. Perhaps they don’t realize how important it is to the leave reviews for shoppers. I never did until the last few years. I’ve read thousands of books and never left a review until last year. Because I never realized the importance. But people are busy and tend to forget too.

Stacy: Maybe readers don’t understand the massive impact reviews really do have on authors. The more reviews authors have, the more customers will take a chance on reading someone new.

Samanthya: I think a lot of people don’t think it’s necessary. Sometimes, if the book isn’t good, they don’t want to give a bad review. I’d rather not paint anyone in a bad light or discourage them. But I do have a pet peeve with series. I like a beginning and an end in every book I read. That’s why in my series, each book has a hero and heroine and their own love story with a satisfying end.

Petie: In my humble opinion, reviews have become their own little art form with a standard protocol of providing anywhere from a short to lengthy rewritten synopsis of the author’s book and then a final paragraph or more with the reviewer’s personal opinion. I think the synopsis portion scares a lot of readers away. Authors hate writing a book synopsis, and we write for a living. Imagine how a reader feels about producing one.

I wish there was a way to let all readers know authors would be happy with just a few sentences as long as the reader did a review. Also, Amazon won’t accept a too-short review. I’ve had that error message myself when I critiqued a product and tried to do a single short partial sentence review. Amazon apparently has their own length requirement, which may reduce the number of overall submittals by readers as well.

Aven: Time. It takes time to sit down and review a book.


What advice would you give new authors about reviews, either how to get them in the first place and/or how to handle bad ones?


Collette: Building a solid reader audience and building relationships via social media can lead to larger number of reviews. Street teams work well too, but they take time to develop.   A few honest, sincere reviews are far more valuable than a bunch of one-word reviews too.

As far as bad reviews go, they are inevitable. Aside from trolls, whose intent is to cause trouble and just be nasty, poor reviews are usually the result of taste. Not everyone likes the same thing. On the other hand, if you repeatedly see similar comments in critical reviews (editing, research, etc.) you might want to take a look and see if your writing could use a bit of polishing.

Tema: Reviews can be painful, and romance reviewers are notably some of the worst (the cruelest) on the planet. There is a line that must not be crossed; every author will tell you—never respond to a bad review.

In fact, I wrote a blog on bad reviews on Goodreads entitled: How Thick Does an Author’s Skin Need to Be? It’s pretty humorous. https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/7180298-how-thick-does-an-author-s-skin-have-to-be

As far as getting reviews is concerned, I’m a firm believer that you must throw your manuscript, book, against as many walls as possible. Keep throwing, asking, pleading, begging, and banging—someone’s bound to open the door.

Tina: My advice would be to ignore them. I once had someone review my first book and admitted they didn’t really read it, then proceed to give me a 1 star. I was upset, then brushed it off. Everyone likes different types of books. There have been books I’ve read, or tried to read and gave up because I didn’t like it for one reason or another. When I look at their reviews on Amazon, I’m amazed at the people who loved the book, while I didn’t. It’s all a matter of opinion. Both my publishers say to ignore them and not get in an argument with the reviewer. I’m not sure how to get people to review books. Many are happy to get a free one, with the idea that they review it, but then never post a review.

Catherine: On getting bad reviews, remember reading is subjective. Your book was good enough to get the attention of an publisher and/or reader. Hyperventilate for a few moments then go on, and never, never respond to the author of a bad review.

Ryan Jo: First, ignore bad reviews. It’s hard. It’s crushing. But don’t be tempted to respond. Call a friend, get drunk, binge your fave food or TV show, but don’t respond to a negative review. Ever. Please. Okay, second, wait a little while (days, weeks) and go back and read the review with open mind. Is there any grain of truth to the claim(s)? Is there something you could improve upon? Or is this person just an unsatisfied troll who likes to dump on writers? Check them out, look at their other reviews. Do they love some books and hate others or just hate every printed book known to man? Finally, move on. It’s one person’s opinion. Let it go. If you see a slew of positive reviews, and the occasional bad one, shrug it off. If you see an overwhelming amount of low reviews, check your ego and investigate. They might be trying to tell you something.

I wish I knew the magic formula for getting reviews. Offer to review for others and hopefully they’ll reply in kind. Stick to similar genres you write and like. Push to blogging sites and hope for the best. Don’t be pushy though.

Samanthya: It is always good to have reviews. Celebrate when you get a good review. For one you don’t like, you can do one of two things. One- You can ignore it completely. Or Two- decided if it has any merit and if you can learn from it or if you disagree and then just ignore it. Not everyone is going to like your work. Feel confident and keep writing.

Petie: Reviews are a sink or swim ordeal. If you go out on your own and try to obtain reviews by finding review sites and querying them individually, you will probably sink. I used to send out 50+ review requests for each new release, and I would be lucky to get four to six acceptances, and then not all of them would follow through.

For my last release, I did a few book review tours with promotion companies and obtained 19 reviews that way and additional reviews on Reading Alley. Whether we like it or not, reviews sell books. We need them. Book promos are not the cheapest, but they are the most successful means that I have found for obtaining reviews.

How to handle bad reviews? Have a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir [if you’re a red fan] and holler, “whatever!” or something worse at the top of your lungs. You won’t believe how good that feels. Just remember you can please some of the readers some of the time, and all of the readers some of the time, but you will never please all of the readers all of the time. Me? I shrug, stick out my tongue or flip a finger at the bad ones on my computer screen, and move on.

Aven: I highly recommend that new authors do blog tours. You will not see sales from them-but you will connect with book bloggers who might love your work and become bloggers you can put on future review lists. This is how I cultivated my go to group of book reviewers and my beta team.

[Regarding reviews], you have to decide if you are an author who wants to read them and take what you can learn from them OR if you are an author who would rather not read them. I personally do not read my reviews.


There you have it. Advice from the pros. Have you ever left a bad review? Have you ever received one? How did you handle it?

Up next: Blog Tours. Are they worth it?

Posted in Seasoned Authors Series, Writing Tagged with: , ,

How Long Does It Take To Write a Novel? – Seasoned Authors Series

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Today, we begin the Sunday Seasoned Author Series. Over the coming weeks, we’ll tackle the questions that haunt every new author, like How Do I Market My Book Baby? Is My Rank Okay? Should I Hire An Author Assistant? Oh-My-Sweet-Good-Golly, a Bad Review . . . What Now? Quit?

When the publication high wears off, new authors tend to come down—hard. In the months following my debut release, I longed for a how-to manual or at the very least, an experienced pal. I made plenty of mistakes, some expensive, some just plain stupid.

Thankfully, experienced authors are happy to help young’uns navigate the hot sands of the post-publication desert. I can’t think of any other profession where that is the case, and I am continually surprised by—and grateful for—the generosity of my peers. I decided to ask if any of them would answer a few common questions. Not surprisingly, the hands shot up.

Rather than keep their advice to myself, I decided to share it. Some of the participating authors are self-published. Others went the traditional route. All have taken more than one trip around the farm on the turnip truck. They are incredibly talented, and we are lucky to have their advice so freely given.

And here’s the lineup:

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner.  At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


I mean, holy cow, right?

Today’s topic is writing speed. Do you produce books fast enough? Does speed even matter?

One of the first questions I asked myself after landing a contract was, How long should it take me to write my next novel? So, let’s find out. How long does it take a successful novelist to complete another manuscript?


Collette: It depends on the novel. My shorter novels, 50,000-70,000 words take about two months and my longer ones, around three months.

Tema: 6 months to 1 year

Tina: That’s a tough question as I don’t write full time. I also have other projects going on at the same time. I may be working on one book, then get edits from my editor for another and have to stop working on my WIP. Then I have to get my head back into the current WIP, only to be interrupted with more edits. It’s frustrating, but all part of the process.

Catherine: That depends on whether I keep at it or procrastinate and whether I write by the seat of my pants or fully plot. I’ve written a 10,000 word novella in less than a week, working only 2 hours a day, but it was fully plotted. The last full-length book I wrote with my husband took forty days of actual writing spread over about 8 months. If I’d write daily, ignoring the rest of my life, I could probably finish a 90,000 word book in about 2 months. Life, however, always interferes.

Ryan Jo: Depends. Shimmers of Stardust was written in four months. The original idea simmered in my brain for something upwards of 17 years. Usually a year though, roughly. Now, I have one I’ve been working on, my problem child, and it’s going on two years and I’m around half done with the rough draft.

Stacy: About six months from story concept to finished product. Researching my topic takes about two months, writing the novel itself takes roughly three months. Editing can last another month, depending on the extent of revisions needed.

Jessica: 3-4 months. I do have a day job, it’s more of consulting type role, so it varies how much time I can devote to writing week to week. I did reduce how often I worked the day job, but found I wasn’t able to manage my time as well and still wrote the same number of books – go figure. But I like 3 months to write and edit.

Samanthya: It took me fourteen years to write the first one. I’m retired now and thought I would have more time to write. But I spend time with my mom, babysit my grandchildren, go to ballgames, my hubby and I like to travel, so I have less time to write. I write, read, look-it-over until my eyes are crossed, then send it to my editor. Then I begin my next book or I take a vacation. But once I begin a book, I am anxious to finish it.

Petie: My novel completion times vary. Research has a decided effect on the length of time it takes me to complete a manuscript. I’ve written one as fast as seven months and taken as long as a year and a half, but all were written while holding down a full-time “day” job. I took early retirement last year and now work full-time writing. I completed my last manuscript in five months. My goal is to complete three manuscripts a year.


It seems the answer is: it depends, and it varies. But I’m guessing you’re wondering how long is too long between books. And if you rush it, won’t it affect the quality of your writing? Let’s ask!


Collette: I think it depends on the author. More well-known authors have a solid following who anticipate upcoming releases, but newer authors have to keep a more constant public profile.

I also think there are authors who can write quickly and produce quality products, though I have read books that have shallow plots, and the authors produce large numbers of books.

Tema: I don’t know if there is an expiration date on how long between books, but I definitely can read the difference in quality when an author rushes to produce a book. Too often, particularly in the Romance Genre, the books lack the polish that would set them apart. They begin to sound too much the same. I’m not a fling it against the wall and hope that it will stick kind of person. I like to polish and hone.

Tina: Because I write for two publishers under two names, it seems as if it’s a long time between books, but with the books and short stories in anthologies, I’ve had something published every year (sometimes two a year) for the past three years. I wish I could write simultaneously for both publishers, but I’d need two heads, four hands, etc. I do believe the pressure to publish more books does affect quality. I’ve read authors I’ve really like, then all of a sudden, they’re putting out two or three books a year. I don’t care as much for their writing. You can tell they’re rushing. Also, there are authors whom I wonder how they produce so much. Then I realize their books are novella—only 75-80 pages. Mine are 275-300 pages. Makes a difference in how long it takes to write one.

Catherine: Most publishers like their authors to produce something every 6 months or so because it keeps you in front of the readers, but because life always interferes, I’d say a year is probably the longest an author should go between books. Now I should take my own advice.

Ryan Jo: My first book came out November 2013. My second novel September 2014 and third novel in November 2014. The pressure to promote, especially the last two only two months apart made me feel like I was having twins. It took time away from writing the current WIP and when I did write, I felt I needed to be promoting ‘the twins’. I couldn’t win! Sometimes it still feels that way. Like a treadmill I can’t get off of. Ideally, I’d love one full length book and one novella to release a year. That to me sounds like the perfect balance. Maybe I’ll try it out. I would never want to just crank something out because a self-imposed ‘deadline’ is approaching. Spread it over into two years between releases if the next one will be better.

Stacy: I write continuously, sometimes juggling several manuscripts at once. Trading off between stories allows me to gain a fresh perspective on each of them. I don’t feel the pressure to produce the next story for my publisher. But I do feel driven by my need to write. Too much down time makes me antsy. If I don’t have an idea for another story I let out my creative side in other ways, such as art classes.

Jessica: Ideally, I’d love to have a book out every quarter, but it just doesn’t happen. I run about two a year since I like to make sure I have enough time to promote between releases. It’s worked for me, but I think I probably would have gained more momentum if I’d released more, sooner. However, I tried that once and the quality of my release did suffer, so now I try to do what I feel comfortable with.

Samanthya: I set no time line. Except for my Christmas story. I wanted it out by this Christmas. As far as pressure, I do that to myself. I get so involved with my characters I hate to say goodbye, although it is wonderful typing The End. So I find I can’t wait to start a new book and create a new set of characters.

Petie: If you have more than year between releases, you lose the momentum built from the last release. If you have a “day” job, it’s difficult to do more than one per year, especially if you have family considerations. Yes, I absolutely think that pushing books out too quickly can affect quality, because the editing often gets shortchanged in an effort to speed things along.


So, newbie authors, did you find any answers to the questions rattling about in your noggins? Did you learn that you’re pretty normal in terms of pace? Let us know. How fast do you write?

Join us next week when we tackle—ta da!—REVIEWS!

Posted in Author Interviews, Seasoned Authors Series, Writing Tagged with: , ,

Anne B. Cole is BACK, Baby!

I’m thrilled to welcome Anne B. Cole back to my blog. Anne’s here with her latest release, Souls Estranged, Book Two of her Souls Trilogy. Welcome, Anne.

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RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2015

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing Co.

Genre: Supernatural Suspense, Elements of Romance

She fled to save him from the curse. Now she must flee to save herself.”

Back from their adventures in Souls Entwined, Sam Daggett begins a new relationship with Gretta Dobbs, whose memories of their time traveling experience have been erased. Determined to never leave her again, Sam vows to help Gretta, despite the bad luck curse on her heirloom ring. Within hours of their return, tragedy strikes.

As Sam becomes the third victim of the bad luck curse, Gretta’s memories of her time spent in the past begin to return. Unable to remember more than snippets, she realizes that anyone close to her is in grave danger. In order to keep Sam and her family safe, she flees in the middle of the night.

Finding the perfect summer job in the back hills of Virginia, Gretta unknowingly crosses paths with a serial killer. With guidance from their ancestral spirits, Roxana and Katarina, Sam desperately attempts to find Gretta before the curse strikes again.

The Interview

JD: Anne, welcome back! You’re a very busy lady, with three active teens and a job teaching preschoolers. How on earth do you stay motivated?

AC: Writing a series keeps me motivated. Souls Estranged is the second book of The Souls Trilogy. I’m currently writing the third book and recently thoughts of having to say good bye to my characters became very real. Ideas of spin offs began to pop into my head.

JD: Today’s authors must do at least some of their own marketing. How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

AC: It is so easy to open the laptop and submerge into the depths of social media and marketing. I found myself slipping away from what I love to do, write. I’ve discovered a way to get back to writing and juggle the marketing tasks. At night I place a post it note on my lap top that says, “500 First”. When I get home from work and see the note, I write 500 words on my WIP before I go on the internet to check email/social media/marketing sites. Often I write more than 500 words:)

JD: That’s a great idea. I might have to steal that one from you. When you do sit down to write your 500 words, do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

AC: I prefer total silence, but with three teens and a husband who works at home and needs white noise…I’ve learned to write in just about any setting.

JD: Would you be willing to share a photo of your favorite writing spot?

My favorite writing spot is in my dining room with a window view of my garden and bird feeder that a friendly squirrel visits. My cat, Monster, keeps me company right beside my computer.

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JD: Aww…

Do you write full-time?

AC: I’m a part time preschool teacher, full time wife and mother, and part time writer. I squeeze writing and reading in every chance I get. I started writing a few years back while sitting at my kids’ swim meet. It was an all day meet with little to do in between my kids’ events. I realized I forgot to bring the book I was reading so I turned over the heat sheet and jotted ideas for my own book. Now days, I never leave the house without my Kindle or a composition notebook to write in.

JD: How do you feel after a long bout of writing?

Depends on what type of chapter I’m writing. If it is a sad scene, I feel sad. If it is an action scene, I’m pumped up. If it’s a romantic scene…well, you get the idea.

JD: Who is your favorite character in Souls Estranged, and why?

AC: Oh, that’s a tough question…Of course I love my hero and heroine, Sam and Gretta. But in Souls Estranged, I have to choose Katarina, Sam’s ancestral grandmother whose spirit entwines within Ruby, an elderly nurse who befriends Sam and helps him throughout the story. Katarina also entwines within a terrorist in order to enter Tartarus to rescue her daughter. And finally she entwines within a squirrel to keep an eye on Gretta.

Katarina’s feisty determination to break the curse and protect Sam and Gretta is emotionally touching and adds a bit of humor to the story.

JD: When a reader reaches the end of Souls Estranged, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow? 

AC: I love reading fiction and leaving a novel with thoughts of, “What if this could really happen?” Even though supernatural suspense is exactly that…supernatural, I hope to leave my readers with the feeling of supernatural possibilities.

JD: Thanks for being here, and best wishes for a great launch.

Who Is Anne Cole?

In addition to writing, Anne teaches preschool and is raising three very active teenagers with her husband of twenty-three years. Her hobbies include running so she can indulge in her cravings for ice cream, donuts, and chocolate chip cookie dough. She squeezes in time to read and write between practices, competitions, and meets. Her pet cat, Monster, keeps her company as she completes the final book of The Souls Trilogy, Souls Endure, tentatively scheduled to be released summer 2016.

You can connect with Anne at any of the following:

Trailer   Website   Twitter   Facebook

Click to see Souls Entwined Book One of The Souls Trilogy on Amazon.

Click to see Souls Estranged Book Two of the Souls Trilogy on Amazon.

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: , , , ,
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