Sunday, February 11, 2018

Winterheart Release






My third novel releases on Valentine's Day! I'm excited about WINTERHEART because the story is close to my heart--I was a Penny years ago--struggling to survive and wondering how to make my life richer and more fulfilled. It's my first romance/women's fiction but still contains a little suspense. Can't get away from that. We all enjoy a little what ifs in a book. I hope you will enjoy this new release and leave me a short line or two on Amazon after you read it sharing your feelings.





Friday, January 19, 2018

How Many Books Did I Sell in a Year? Self-Pub Update



A little update on how The Bend is doing. I released it last Feb. 17th--totally ignorant on how the whole self-pub process worked. Totally scared but wanting to try it.

Pre Orders went okay but I've since learned I should lower the price for that time period. Then sales slowed.

I finally put it in the KENP program and exclusively on Amazon a few months later. That means Amazon pays authors for pages read besides books sold. (Prime accts) The pages took off as did more sales. I also tried several new ways to advertise--paying $15 a shot for email blasts. They were helpful and did increase the pages read.

It's been almost a year into the venture.

To date, it looks like I might sell about 1,000 copies by next month. (including pages read and soft-cover) Much more than I sold with my first book with a mid-sized publisher.

The number isn't huge but I feel compensated for my efforts. Instead of my manuscript languishing in a file on my computer, it's out there.

Writers are told the first 500 copies sold don't count cause they are only from friends and family. Well, I don't have that many friends and family so in my mind, quite a few of those count. Strangers took a chance on my writing. I feel so blessed that so many would.


A HUGE THANK YOU READERS!

Next month, I'm trying it again with another story close to my heart. Hopefully this year has taught me what to do better and right and Winterheart will enjoy similar success.


Sunday, January 07, 2018

2018 and still writing

It's been awhile! So much has happened in the past few months. We sold our Florida home, moved to PA and are now busy building and finishing our retirement home along the banks of the wonderful Susquehanna River. Just flew back from Seattle, after a bout of pneumonia and now I'm finally getting the opportunity to finish and prepare WInterheart for publication.

I'm excited about this book--it's the longest one I've ever written plus it goes back to my roots with its inspirational theme. I pray my readers will feel that same excitement as I do. Watch for a preorder sale!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eight months post self-publishing--will I do it again? Should you?

If you are a writer like me, you wonder how another writer's books are really selling. Is self-publishing as good as some claim? Is it as bad?

My journey into self-publishing still makes me happy. Why is it important I'm happy? Because I wasn't last September when I almost gave up writing completely. I told myself last February when I took the plunge to self pub that I would stop when it was no longer fun. Today I can report that putting a book out there is still fun.

August was my best month so far. Overall, I've made almost as much money in the KENP program as I have selling e-books. So for now, that's where my books will remain.

How much have you made? you ask. Honestly, more than I did with my first book that was with a mid-sized publisher. I think that's because I have actively promoted and advertised The Bend more than I did The Mulligan. But since I'm doing it all my self online, I have more opportunities to set up the advertising, especially through Amazon.

Would I do it again? Of course. I hope to be much smarter about the next one--doing a low pre-promotional price, better book inside design, and being positive there is not one error in it as much as I can prevent. I will also choose better categories to set it up in, and start my Amazon advertising immediately rather than months later.

Already I am sharing the next cover and blurb and will heavily promote it as the time grows closer.
Honestly, selling is all about advertising. Who will find your book and buy it if you don't put it in front of them?



So my best advice to those who want to take a similar plunge? Write well, be brave, advertise and just do it. 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Ten Years Later--alive and trusting

It's hard for me to think about what life will be life retired. After a combined total of 12 jobs, 1 college degree, 2 sold houses, and 4 moves all done in the last ten years, you can understand why I find it hard to believe my life might finally settle into a nice routine.

It was August 27, 2007 when the call came from my husband that would forever change our lives. "I'm getting it tomorrow," he said. A RIF, they called it. Reduction in Force. 60+ people in one day. It was called the Great Recession and we were living and working at ground zero--construction in Florida. Second only to tourism.

It was our thirtieth anniversary. I had just arrived in Seattle to meet our first grandchild. I remember wondering what life would look like after my husband lost his dream job. I found out quickly. Dark days followed as we cried out to God to help us understand why this had to happen to us. Getting out of bed to face endless hours of applying for non-existent jobs became harder and harder. I wanted to hide in my closet and come out when the sun shone again on our lives. We had just married our daughter off the year before. These days were supposed to be filled with empty-nester fun--travel, eating out, visiting with friends. None of that happened in the years to follow.

When life sends you a roadblock, you have two choices: give in or go forward. I'm thankful to be writing this post on the tenth anniversary of the change that grew our faith. Our view of what life should be like is so much different than reality. Because you work hard, and be kind to everyone and honest does not mean your life will be a bed of roses--excuse my cliché. No, life will give you trials no matter what you do. But how you deal with them makes all the difference.

After a lengthy phone call with a friend, I started to write our blessings on a piece of paper stuck to the refrigerator. Little things at first. No bills in the mail. I didn't cry today. We were able to find a discount grocery store that sold soup in dented cans. Looking at my blessings and being thankful for every little thing saved me. But it didn't change what we went through--selling our home we loved, moving across the country to a job my husband hated, moving again and again and again to find something that would support us and let us get through each day without fear of ending up on the street.

The fear was real. We were those people on the nightly news who couldn't find work to support themselves. We lived on unemployment, savings, retirement and finally sold our house before we lost it. Friends were empathetic but couldn't save us.

Only our faith in Jesus saved us. Only the trust that He would see us through like he had in the past only this time our situation was much more dire than not having enough money to send our kid to camp. This time we had to believe or give up. It took some time --some anger, some tears, some disbelief, more anger then finally we gave it to God. Let me say this, the surrender wasn't a pretty picture. It was a work in progress (still is) but God never turned his back on us like some people in our lives did.

He still hasn't.

So here we are. Ten years later. Packing. Selling our house. Preparing for a semi-retirement because one can never totally retire after the run we had but we will be doing life at our own pace again. Together. A tiny piece of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. I doubt that feeling will ever go away but then I tell myself to breathe. Breath more. But mostly to pray. Pray and give thanks that I'm still here to tell our story.




Thursday, August 17, 2017

Celebrating SIX Months for THE BEND



I'm excited that THE BEND has been out for six months now. To celebrate, I'm doing a sale where it will be only $0.99 for a limited time.

I can't thank my readers enough who have supported my efforts into self-publishing by buying my book, reading it and then leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That means everything to me.

I'm also excited to share about my next book, a departure from THE BEND, but intriguing in its own way. WINTERHEART is a mixture of women's fiction, romance, suspense and a little bit of magic thrown into the main character's path to make her and the reader wonder how the town of Winterheart can change hearts the way it does. Check my Facebook page for updates as we get closer to next year.

Also, I have big news for those who aren't following me on Facebook but I'm not going to share that until next month. I know, I know, but I think that news deserves a special post with photos and all.

In the meantime, please pass on this sale to your friends. It's a great time for a fun summer read before it's back to school.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Five Months Post Self-Publishing

Five months after self-publishing THE BEND, I'm still learning so much. If I'm going to repeat this process again next year, I wanted to learn as much as I can with my first.

To date, I've earned more royalties with this book than with the traditional publisher and my first book. But those earnings come with a price--marketing costs. I committed to using as many marketing opportunities as I could to get my book out there. Every day, a zillion books come onto Amazon. How will someone know about mine if I don't advertise it? At least until word-of-mouth kicks in and that may never happen. I scoured the Internet for promo sites and of course, BookBub is  #1--but cost-prohibitive for this writer. So I started smaller.  Bargain Booksy, Ebook-Soda, My Book Place, Book Reader Magazine, Book Man, Bargain E-Hunters and Amazon ads. I tracked those that worked (sold my book) and those that didn't. I did not reduce the cost of my book for any but I plan to do a 99 cent sale in the coming weeks using the site that produced the best marketing for THE BEND.

Overall, the Amazon ads have given my book the most exposure but I'm breaking even on cost to sales. But since my book is still new, I prefer to have my cover in front of readers using this method. It's hard to count the pages read KENP but those have continually increased over the months so I feel there is residual effect and that is money earned.

Along with monthly promotions, I've connected with a producer to create an audio version of my book through ACX. I've read where many readers prefer to listen to a book on their phones or IPad so going that route might be worthwhile. It costs nothing and again, Amazon does most of the work for you through their program. My timeline for delivery is early fall in time to promote for Christmas shopping.

Finally, my biggest challenge has been garnishing reviews. I added a request to the back of the book hoping that would help. I've found more readers leave reviews on GoodReads than Amazon and trying to bridge that gap frustrates me. More reviews on Amazon help sell the book.

I also tweaked my book cover to add words that are used in search engines when a reader is looking for a particular genre --like psychological thriller, heart-pounding, etc. In my Amazon ads, I added search words that come up when I typed in thrillers. I also studied the top sellers in my category and used words from there that worked for my book.

Overall, the marketing of a book takes more work than writing the book. There have been days when I wanted to stop and let it go but then I remembered how long it took me to write THE BEND. It deserves a good shot. Plus, think about this--ads are run for famous writers' books long after they first come out--a year or more. Why should I settle for less for my book?

Happy Marketing!




Thursday, July 13, 2017

When Mediocracy is Good Enough

I watch America's Got Talent every week, crying when a contestant gets a standing ovation or the gold buzzer. Excited that they found their courage to take the step and share their talent with the world. But not all have that something. Most of them are average people hoping and dreaming they have that something special.

Aren't we all like that or am I the only one? Hoping deep inside, there is a talent that you can share with the world. Not to be famous, or make money but to be really really good at something. I have tried to learn so many things in my 60 some years. Ice skating, (could not do it) music--piano and the guitar and finally realized I am not musically inclined. Same with singing--my father told me to give it up. Ouch. And then I dreamed of acting but instead was given backstage duty in my senior play. I tried out for cheerleading, couldn't do the flips, and so I tried color guard. Not a chance. The list goes on. Is yours similar?

Then I turned to my love of writing. Surely someday I would be another Stephen King. Someone would read my book and make it into a movie. I'm sure all writers dream that dream. I'm no different. Finally reality stumbles through my door and reminds me that a zillion people write books. Few rise to stardom. Few books turn into Hallmark movies. Instead you must read reviews that make you cry, market into a vast void of emptiness and pat yourself on your back that at least you "did it."

I count the years I have left to pull out of average--out of mediocracy. Maybe if I studied harder. Wrote more often. Hired more editors. Maybe, maybe. Maybe I'm just not that good.

Ugh.

Like my musical ability or my physical abilities, maybe these other talents I'm trying to cultivate will always be hobbies and nothing more.

The question is: Is that ok? Can I live with being an average writer, photographer, etc. What if the one thing I'm good at will never be publicly applauded or recognized? What if the one thing I'm good at will always be between God and me? Is that enough?

Of course I know the answer. It's the answer that pops up each time after I work through another meltdown. Another reality check.

I have one audience and that is always enough. His applause deafens anything the world can bring at me.





Tuesday, July 04, 2017

CHANCE TO WIN BOOKS-INDIES FOR INDEPENDENCE! GIVE-AWAY






I've joined with other indie writers to share in a GIVE-AWAY from July4-11. Enter as many links as you want and earn a chance to win a FREE book to enjoy this summer!








Monday, June 19, 2017

Heart Shifts


I find myself waking early before the golden light shines through my bathroom windows and into my bedroom. My brain shifts into gear and soon I'm lying in bed, detailing my plans for the day. Update my book on Amazon, write a tweet that will drive traffic to the book, watch a few videos on YouTube about portrait photography, make a cleaning schedule and plan what's for dinner. 

Then I roll over. Shut my eyes. Wonder where my life is going. 

I had hoped to be living in Pennsylvania by now--working on our home, planting a raised garden, photographing the hills and rivers, looking out my front windows from the desk I purchased four years ago and has since been buried beneath boxes of all my household goods.

Instead, I'm here. In Florida. Carving a life in a town where I am uniquely familiar with every CVS, WalMart and Publix. And I can't forget Panera where once a month I meet my writer friend for lunch.

But my brain and heart keep pulling me north to the place where so much sweat and love went into. I roll over on my back, stare at the fan blades revolving over my head. I'm blessed. I'm healthy. I am luckier than many people. I go through my list of why I should not have one complaint in the world. I tell myself others would kill to be living six miles from the beach, in a community of nice people, with the ability to stay home and work.

I know I'm blessed. I thank God every day. So why does my heart keep plunging me into thoughts of my other home? Why can't I anchor it here? Obviously, this town is where God wants me to be so why can't I get my heart on board with that plan? What am I doing wrong? 

Finally I shift my blankets off me and touch my toes to the floor, grounding myself to today's plan. Thankful. Happy. Trusting. Shutting the blinds to my northern home for another day.