Sunday, December 30, 2012

Traditional vs. Indie - Which Publishing is Better?

So I've been doing a lot of research in the last six weeks or so and I've read dozens of articles on the indie publishing trend.  Really, it was once considered the last resort for people who weren't talented enough to get published but now?  Not so much.

There are THOUSANDS of fabulous self-published books out there and they are in every genre.  Don't get me wrong, there are still bad books out there too, but not as many as we were once led to believe.  Self-publishing is no longer the "shameful" way to publish.  If anything, I'm starting to see some well-known, previously published authors (who were published under BIG name publishing houses) taking the jump over to indie publishing.

Why?  Only they know, but here's my theory.  Traditional publishing houses no longer do for their authors what they once did.  Advances are becoming a thing of the past and essentially, a large percentage of the marketing and the promotion of the book is still the responsibility of the author.  I have started following a TON of big-name author blogs that they have all started and have mailing lists to that heavily promote their upcoming books/releases.  

One author friend, who had published dozens of books for her publisher, recently had one of her submissions rejected.  Apparently, it DOES happen.  But it was a book that she had worked hard on and was proud of and she is going to self publish it.  I can only hope that she sells a TON of copies and then goes back to the publisher with a satisfied and smug look on her face.  

Back when I was doing promotional stuff for Susan Mallery, I was surprised at how little the publisher was doing for her.  She's a NY Times Best Selling Author and she came up with the brilliant idea of enlisting the help of her fans to promote her books!  Honestly, the idea completely worked for her and I bow to master on that bit of marketing genius.  

Insert bow here.

When you self-publish, you work on your own time table.  Your deadlines are more flexible and at the end of the day, a larger percentage of the royalties are yours.  What's not to like about that?

So what's the downside?  The cost of said marketing and promotion and the cost of having artwork for covers done and editing work done.  Sure, you can do it yourself but as I found out on this last book, people can be mean and harsh and nasty and when you put out a product that is less than perfect (no matter how low-cost you offer it for), everyone becomes a critic.  

I am blessed to have gotten some volunteers for the next project to proof-read for me (thank GOD!) but I will probably use a paid service for the cover art-work.  Not a HUGE amount of money but when I looked at what was available for free on CreateSpace (who I use for publishing), I'm am HIGHLY displeased.  There are plenty of services out there that provide high-quality artwork, I just have to come up with what I am looking for.  And that will come when I finally decide on a title for the darn project.

A writer's work is never done...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Free Book Marketing With Ask David...

So in my constant quest to be an Indie author with a successful book, the main thing that I have to keep at (besides writing!) is the marketing.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is exhausting.  It's time consuming at after working a full day at a full-time job, I hardly have time to come home and spend time with my family before I have to be back in front of the computer writing and marketing to keep the book out there.

We are closing in at the five week mark since "The Christmas Cottage" was released and the sales have been impressive.  I'm not ready to quit my day job or anything but I have been thrilled with the response to the book.  So while I was searching for ways to promote the book on my limited budget, I came across  What's  Here's a blurb from their site:

About this site
This site promotes books and publishes reviews submitted by the community. In order to ensure high quality, all reviews are manually checked before they are published. Only reviews are accepted which can not be found elsewhere on the web. So far there are 3994 reviews published.  

Basically, I submitted the required information on "The Christmas Cottage" and will promote it through their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and the like to get the word out to more people than I possibly could.  Sweet, right?

Here's a listing of what benefits askDavid guarantees:

- We will create a book promotion page for each of your books

- We will link to your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest sites

- If there is a video on YouTube related to the book, we will display it

- We will display your profile picture if you want

- Users will write reviews of your book – you can quote them on your website

- You get automatic notifications of new reviews of your book

- Social Marketing:  visitors promote your book on Facebook, Google+, Twitter & Pinterest

- We will send a tweet about your book to our 8400 followers on Twitter

- This all will create awareness about your books which leads to more sales

- We link to you book’s Amazon page so visitors can easily buy your book

I am just signing up and getting started but I am very excited to see what kind of results we get for "The Christmas Cottage".  I am getting ready to start on the follow up book and won't have as much time to do marketing myself so I am looking forward to having more help.

I'll keep you posted on my progress! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wanted: One Literary Agent

How's this for an ad?

Wanted:  One Literary Agent.  Must be encouraging, supportive and committed to project.  Must have good connections, be licensed and be open minded to submitting one little Christmas novella to the Hallmark Channel.

What do you think?  Too specific? 

Here's the thing.  I have lost count of the number of people who have read "The Christmas Cottage" and have said that it should be a Hallmark Channel movie.  I'm not going to lie to you, I kind of agree.  And how cool would that be??  The thing is, Hallmark doesn't accept unsolicited books and whatnot; you have to have a licensed literary agent do it.

I'm working with an agent right now on a full-length novel.  You remember, she's the one who doesn't seem to remember me.  Ever.  Not a lot of confidence in her right now.  I was hoping to hear from her by now; the book is up for a final read (like a month ago) and my plan was that when she approached me and said that she'd like to represent me and the book, then I would present her with "The Christmas Cottage" and my plan for submitting it to Hallmark.

So far she's not falling in line with my plans.  

It's hard to research a literary agent.  Authors are very secretive.  They do not tell you who their agents are or how they got them.  I've done a lot of research over the years and submitting and querying is exhausting.  Plus, there's the whole "I hate writing query letters" thing.  Can't I just be creative?  Can't I just write books and have them chase after me?

That last part could have been a possibility if my rankings had stayed higher for longer.  Don't get me wrong, being in the top twenty in women's fiction on Amazon is still amazing and more than I ever could have hoped for.  I never got in to the top 100 in Kindle sales.  That would have been great.  My goal of 10,000 Kindle sales by New Year's looks like a very real possibility but  I don't know if that number is significant to anyone but me.  

I bet an agent would know that.

So if any of you knows a licensed literary agent that would be interested in helping me get "The Christmas Cottage" submitted to the Hallmark Channel, I'd love to hear from you! 

So I got one of the greatest compliments quite possibly of my life.  It was one of those moments where you think, "I've waited my whole life for this" and it's just as wonderful as you always hoped it would be.

My father told me he was proud of me.

I know, I know...sooo cliched.  Here I am, age 44, and still seeking my father's approval.


He actually READ "The Christmas Cottage" and he doesn't really read!  He's a TV kind of guy and he actually read my book!  How do I know?  Because there is a behind the scenes, secondary character in the book that is only mentioned twice and he asked me today "What's with the best man??  Why did she need to stay away from him?? Is there more to that story or did you put that in there to torture me???"  

That made me giggle.  

See?  That would make a GREAT story to entice a literary agent in to representing me, right???   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Local Celebrity Sighting!

I had a great time tonight.  Why?  Well, tonight I traveled to visit a cousin that I haven't seen in probably 30 years!  We had reconnected on Facebook and her parents (my aunt & uncle/2nd cousins?  Still not sure!  LOL) were in town and she was hosting a Christmas get-together and I was invited.  Very excited at the invite, I took the 90 mile trek to visit my family.

What a great night!

There were more people there that I didn't know than those that I did but everyone was super nice and it turns out that my sweet cousin had been promoting my book to her friends and co-workers so people knew who I was!  Then my dear aunt was introducing me as a best selling author!  I even signed and autograph!  How funny is that?

I may not be signing books at Barnes & Noble or at some Romance convention, but this little get together was probably one of the most endearing and entertaining events I've had as an author and it wasn't even planned to be one!  I had the chance to talk to some amazing people, reconnect with family and generally, talk about my book with some people who were genuinely interested.  How could someone not enjoy that?

So while around town here I am still just Stace, it was kind of cool to go someplace and have my alter-ego get some attention.  

I found out today that "The Christmas Cottage" is no longer eligible for the Hot New Release category.  I was really kind of bummed about that one because it doubled the number of lists I was on.   But really, after a month of being on the market, I guess it kind of makes sense that I am no longer considered "new".  My numbers are dropping but really, it was exciting to know that I peaked at #10 in Women's Fiction and #116 in Kindle books.  Some authors never get that kind of rankings and so I am honored to have hit those highs.

The plan is to keep in marketing mode until New Year's and then start on the next book.  Will it be something that goes along with "The Christmas Cottage" - like maybe Ava's story?  I don't know.  Her story isn't coming to me clearly yet.  I have some other plots swirling around in my brain that my need attention first.  

I'm trying to reach that 10,000 sales mark on "The Christmas Cottage" by New Years.  If you haven't gotten your e-copy yet, now would be the perfect time!  Did you get an e-reader for Christmas?  Don't you want to stock it with .99 cent books?  LOOK NO FURTHER!!  Click HERE to go to the Amazon page and get your copy and remember to click like while you are there!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"The Christmas Cottage" by Samantha Chase

Okay, the holiday's are almost over and we've hit the one month mark since the release of "The Christmas Cottage".  As an indie author, this has been a very exciting month.  I mean, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I'd sell a whole lot of copies; I thought if I hit a thousand, it would be amazing.  After all, my first book, "Jordan's Return" really only sold a little over 100 copies.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise that at the one month mark, I've sold almost 7,500 books!  WOW!  Who knew?  I am not going to lie to you, it's a lot of work and I've met all kinds of authors who have had various degrees of success and it doesn't matter if they are traditionally published with big name (or any name) publishers or self published.  The key is in the marketing. 

This particular book has a limited shelf life due to the fact that it is set on Christmas and not many people are wanting to read a Christmas story in the Spring.  I've had to hit the promoting hard and fast and really, I kind of shot myself in the foot a little bit on this one because I released it so quickly that there wasn't any time to build up any hype and get some professional reviews done on some of big book review sites out there before Christmas.  Most sites have me on a waiting list and that's going to put the book getting reviewed somewhere around the end of February.

Not good.

I've set small goals for myself as we've gone along.  Sell a thousand books.  Sell twenty-five hundred books, five thousand...etc.  Then it was getting in the top 100 list on Amazon, then the top 50, top 30 until I hit the top 10.  I did that on Christmas Eve.  It was pretty darn exciting.  Now my goal is to hit 10,000 sales by New Year's.  Baby steps.  It's all about baby steps...

Just need to take them really fast before my window closes.

So here's the thing, I really want and need people to spread the word.  I need help getting the word out about the book - it's only a .99 cent download on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.  I need "likes" on Amazon.  I mean, 7,500 sales and only 81 people clicked like...I have 36 reviews (most are positive, two are just nasty).  


So if you are looking to do a good deed, help a struggling Indie Author achieve her dream of ending 2012 on a high note!  Go to Amazon and click on "The Christmas Cottage".  If you haven't already, download the Kindle version or send it to a friend!  Click "Like", leave a cheery little note (I cry easily).  Let's celebrate the success of the little book that could!

Thank you again for all of your help!  Let's show some of those big name publishers what they are missing and that you don't need to spend a fortune to have a best seller.

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas and here's to some successful book selling as we prepare to say farewell to 2012!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Number One Christmas Gift...

This was a stellar Christmas.  

I kid you not.

I LOVE all things Christmas but this year was just more than I expected.  It took me a while to get in to the Christmas spirit and really, it didn't hit me until about the 23rd.  Sure, I went through the motions - I shopped, I wrapped, the tree was up, blah, blah, blah - but I didn't really FEEL like I was in the holiday spirit until Sunday.  

Very unlike me.

I went out to get all of our last-minute stuff (which really wasn't everything but some things had to wait until the complete last minute), got my hair done and just had a wonderful time having fellowship at the salon.  Who knew?  My stylist had just bought my book and she was raving about it and getting everyone else in the salon excited about it (I know it's a little shallow, but I enjoyed the accolades).  Everywhere I went, people were just happy and smiling and saying "Merry Christmas" and it just made me smile.

By Monday, I was really looking forward to the night ahead.  We were making our traditional Italian Fish Sauce (very yummy) and then having about 30 people over for dessert.  That is my FAVORITE family tradition.  It's very casual and it's an open-house so people come and go for hours and it just reminds me of how blessed I am to have such amazing friends in my life.

This was our first "Non-Santa" year.  Yes, we finally broke the news to Michael and I have to tell you, it was a little sad.  He still believed and to me, it was sweet.  To his older brother, it was insanity.  Part of what I love about Christmas Eve is sending them to bed and setting up the living room with all of their stuff from Santa.

Not so much this year.

I put out some stuff, not a lot of fanfare, and when we got up this morning it was like "Here's your stuff".  We bought Michael an Android tablet, he got a new cell phone, Xbox points and membership, gift cards galore - plus the traditional pajamas that they get every year on Christmas Eve.  Nick mainly got all gift cards - his initial request was for money for school but I was not handing over cash and having nothing for him under the tree.  My theory was that I would disguise each gift card in a different shaped box and then he'd have a ton of stuff to unwrap under the tree.  It worked and he was thrilled.

I bought Frank clothes - jeans, sweatshirts, a new jacket - plus a book on drum making and new drum sticks, plus some smaller stuff like a portable air compressor, a magnifier for reading blue prints for work and a universal phone charger for the car.  I got a sassy new scarf, a new iPhone cover (Mickey Mouse!), boots, jammies and a new cosmetic case.  All in all, it was a very lovely Christmas.

"The Christmas Cottage" hit #10 on Christmas Eve on Amazon in Women's Fiction and Contemporary Women's Fiction!  It was VERY exciting.  That was my dream - to have a Top Ten book for Christmas.  I was so excited that I pretty much blew up Facebook with my status!  We're at #13 today but that's okay.  My hope is that all the people that got new ereaders for Christmas and are looking to load it up with cheap and free reads will see the book and buy it.  After all, .99 cents it still pretty cheap and it's a sweet story, Dang It!!

But out of all of the hooplah, all of the gifts, all of the trappings of Christmas, what was the number one gift?  Actually, it is two-fold.  Number one, of course, is the reason for the season and that is the fact that a Savior was born.  It's easy to forget that fact when we are conditioned to think that we have to shop and buy and go crazy to get the top toys on the market but really, the gift of salvation is our greatest gift.  

Going hand in hand with that fact is the gift of family and friendship.  At the end of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", George Bailey opens a Bible where it states "No man is a failure who has friends".  That line makes me cry because we need to remember that having people in our lives who love us is one of the greatest blessing there is.  Remember to say a word of thanks for the people in your life that love you, for they are one of lives greatest gifts.

And not just at Christmas...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Writer's Remorse...

And no, I'm not talking about drunk texting.

You know, I may have shared this story before but for those of you just joining us, I'll recap. 

On November 25, 2012, I released a book titled "The Christmas Cottage".  This was a book that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month - November 2012.  Yes, I wrote it in less than a month.  The story wasn't planned, I started on NaNoWriMo late and basically the words just came to me.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Anyway, I had a book signing event for my first book, "Jordan's Return", and I wanted to have something to offer anyone that showed up other than my signature in the book.  So I came up with a plan to offer a free ebook for Christmas.  The problem was that the book signing was at the end of November and I was still really in the editing process of my quickly written book.  I rushed through the edits and had bookmarks made that essentially said "My gift to ebook...blah, blah, blah" and then I found out that Amazon would not allow me to do that.

Again, I was in a rushed mode and didn't do my research.  Shame on me.

So I decided to put the book out there for .99 cents.  It was a novella so I felt that the price was fair.  I got creative with the bookmarks and took out the "free" part.  I put the book out there and started marketing with the help of an assistant.  I didn't have particularly high hopes for the book because I remembered how little the first book had done but this book wasn't about the sales, it was about keeping my name out there until the agent in NY decided what she was going to do with a book of mine that she has in her possession.  You see, this novella was more about keeping my name out there; it wasn't about any great plan for a best seller.

Best laid plans and all that...

Imagine my surprise when the book started climbing the charts.  Imagine my surprise that people were actually excited about it and responding to my ads and cries for support.  Totally unlike the response I got to book number one.  I was giddy and excited and damn near in tears when the book hit one of the best seller lists!

Imagine my surprise when I started getting negative reviews and critiques because of my spelling/grammar/keystroke errors.  I have no excuse; I rushed the book, I didn't spend enough time editing.   The funny thing is that most of those negative reviews say that they really enjoyed the story, just that the grammar/spelling errors were too distracting.

I spent three days currently re-editing the book and tonight I re-submitted it to Amazon and will have to do the same tomorrow with Nook.  I should have taken more time.  I should have waited to release it but I was really not expecting all of the hooplah that I got.  I wasn't expecting so many mean people.

I'm reading a book right now that is a collection of short stories that is absolutely horrible.  I mean, I don't know who chose these stories but they are not a grouping that should be together.  Some stories are short and sweet while others are just crude and full of vulgar language and sex scenes.  I'm not a prude and I've written many a sex scene for my books but these scenes made me wince.  Am I going to attack the publisher and writers?  No.  Am I going to ask for a refund?  No.  I bought it, I read it, I own it.  

I'm just praying that I have learned from the negative reviews and from reading some bad books and that my next book won't be such a downer to so many people.  Sorry that I let my excitement ruin your reading experience.  That wasn't my intention...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ebook Readers: Fill up on bargain books and enjoy the weekend!

As we are approaching the final countdown to Christmas, hopefully most of us are done with our shopping and preparations.  Maybe you are getting ready to travel or maybe you're the one hosting the festivities this year.  Either way, it is important to take some time for yourself and sit and relax.  

What I have loved most about my Kindle is that I can go through the lists of Free books on Amazon and really load up my reading list essentially for nothing.  I also look at books that are under $3 because really, you can't buy a paperback for less than that these days.  So I get a variety of books to read and spend less than I would on possibly one or two books.

There are so many titles to choose from and not all of the ones that I've chosen (particularly from the free list) were memorable, however, I'm never disappointed when I take time to sit down and read.  Plus, and this is definitely true if you are traveling, it's nice to have the convenience of all of those titles in one compact place rather than lugging around four or five paperback in your carry-ons or luggage.

We spend so much time prepping for the holidays and running around that we don't take time to actually slow down and ENJOY the holidays.  I don't know about where you are right now but here in North Carolina it is very cold and the wind is fierce!  Once I am done blogging, I am curling up in my big comfy chair and reading.  If we were traveling, I would be curled up in my hotel room right now - with the Kindle - and reading.  

I'm a book nerd.  I admit it.  I was astounded to learn that I am friends with several people who do NOT like to read!  It was shocking!  I love spending my free time reading.  If I'm not reading, then I want to be writing.  Why?  So that I have something that I enjoy to read!  I'm a freak, sorry.

So when you're searching for something to read to fill the void on that holiday trip or to help you kick back and relax after a day of cleaning, shopping and prepping, consider this:  be done with the Fifty Shades books.  Seriously, that series is killing me.  It's a bit sick and repulsive and it is EVERYWHERE on every book list.  Enough already!  Look at what Amazon recommends under the genre that you are looking for and don't forget to give some new authors a chance.

In the last year I discovered several new authors whose books I have thoroughly enjoyed - they are all contemporary romance/women's fiction writers but their books are very enjoyable:  Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, Shannon Stacey, Robyn Carr... LOVE these ladies and their writing and it was exciting to find myself on the best seller lists with them!

Don't knock the indie authors or those who aren't so well known.  You never know what you may be missing!  You would be surprised how many great books there are out there that don't cost a fortune.  If you bought an ebook reader for someone or you get one yourself this year, you will have thousands of fabulous books to choose from that are under $3.00 - and really, NO ebook, no matter who the author is, should cost more than that!

We are heading in to the end of the first month of sales of "The Christmas Cottage" and my goal is to hit the top ten in women's fiction and the top 100 in Kindle sales.  My current standing has me at #13 in women's fiction and #138 in Kindle sales.  If you are looking for a great stocking stuffer for the romance reader in your life, "The Christmas Cottage" would make a great gift!  Only $6.99 in paperback.  We're looking to hit 100 "Likes" on the Amazon page a special gift for anyone who's read this far...

I will give a Kindle version of "The Christmas Cottage" to the first TWO people to comment on the blog that they shared the link on their Facebook page!  So leave a comment here with the link to your Facebook page and show that you've shared the love and you'll get a FREE ebook copy of the book.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

12-21-12 - Thanks for Nothing Mayans!

I'm not going to lie to you, history is so not my thing.  Sure, I got in to it a bit when we were homeschooling but when we were done, so was I.  I don't get in to all of the hype with things like Nostradamus (although I have watched a few documentaries), I'm not big on conspiracy theories (but I will admit that there was an interesting one on the "death" of Paul McCartney that left me thinking) and I'm not one to get all hyped up on the End of the World stuff.

If there's one thing that I am fairly certain of it's that God does not want us to know that date.  All of this theory about tomorrow being the end of the world just makes me roll my eyes.  Remember Y2K?  Nothing.  I just don't see that this is going to be anything significant except that people will remember how stupid people acted leading up to it.  

 Although, if I had to jump on the crazy bandwagon I'd have to say, Really, Mayans??? I finally get my life in order just for the world to end?  How fair is that???  I mean, Frank and I both have jobs, Nick's going to college and I have fulfilled my lifelong dream of being an author with a book on a best seller list and I don't even get to enjoy it???  COME ON!!!

Has anyone thought that maybe the guy making the calendar died and no one else could finish it?  Did you think that maybe they thought that they had put enough in to the calendar that eventually someone else would take over?  I mean, how long were they supposed to work on this calendar?  There are a million reasons as to why the Mayan calendar ended and I'm finding it hard to believe that any of them are because the world is ending tomorrow.

Boy will my face be red if that is the case!

And speaking of red, don't you love the red color on the cover of my book "The Christmas Cottage"?  I mean, it's a cute, festive little cover and I really, really like it.  Today at our highest point we were #165 in Kindle downloads!  Holy cow!!!  I've sold almost 4,200 kindle books in three weeks!  I love that I can actually track sales now.  It's pretty cool - and addictive.  I'll need to take a break from all of the tracking in the new year and spend my time working on my next book because I can see that I'm getting a little bit crazed.

It was funny because when I finally figured out the tracking this week and where to find it, my goal was to hit 4,000 sales by Christmas Day.  I was floored when we made it there today.  So my new goal (dream) is to be at 5,000 sales by Christmas Day.  I have no idea how successful we'll be but I would love to see it happen.

Don't make me miss that, Mayans!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Amazon Suggestions

So as you might have guessed, I haven't been too thrilled with Amazon since learning of their return policy.  As an independent writer who is paying for all of the marketing and promotional stuff for "The Christmas Cottage" on my own, any loss of sales is a big deal to me.  Then there's the fact that I don't really SEE Amazon doing anything to promote me and my book even though they are taking a whole lot of my money.

So imagine my surprise today and when at 7:20 this morning a very dear friend calls me to tell me that she was going through her emails and there in her inbox was one from Amazon.  If you subscribe to them you can get daily emails from them where they make suggestions for items for you to purchase based upon some of your shopping history.  Well, under Literature and Fiction, guess what book was at the top of the list???


That's right!  OMG!  Who can believe it?  But there it was!  In full color on the page in the email in her inbox from Amazon...they were promoting ME!  How freakin cool is that???

 I am not going to lie to you, it was a pretty darn incredible feeling.  I'm beginning to feel like a REAL author!  The funny thing is, Amazon does not tell me when they are going to do something like this; I guess it's just the luck of the draw but I am feeling beyond blessed that they chose me.  A little nobody Indie author from North Carolina!

Who is still waiting for either Oprah or Good Morning America to call... and perhaps the Hallmark Channel to call with an offer to make my book in to a movie.

Just a suggestion...

Actually, I'd be equally thrilled to hit the Top 10 in Women's Fiction and be in the Top 100 in Kindle by Christmas Eve.  Please share the link with your friends; like the book on Amazon, check out our Facebook page.  Everyone has been so amazing and supportive but I've got a long way to go and can use all of the help I can get!

Check your Amazon emails...I may be in there!  LOL!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The .99 Cent Ebook Refund - How Cheap Can You Be?

So tonight I FINALLY figured out where to find my sales on both the ebook version of "The Christmas Cottage" and the paperback sales.  I was so excited as I was reading the report...I mean I was positively giddy.  Then I noticed this little section of the report that said "Refund".  

Seriously, on a .99 cent book?

I'm sorry, and I say this not just as an outraged author but as a human being in general - do you buy a magazine and then return it to the store?  Do you buy a paperback book and then return it to the store?  Why?  BECAUSE YOU USED IT!!!  Amazon's policy is that if you purchase an ebook, you have seven days to return it!  Well, had I known that, I would have returned MOST of the ebooks I've read and saved myself some money.

I've read some really great books and like I said before, I've read some really bad books but I've never thought of asking for a refund because I bought the book and read it!  I know that there is some sort of loop-hole because it's a digital file and therefore no "wear and tear" can happen but for the love of it people, what is wrong with you???  What has to be going through your mind that you have to have your .99 cents back?  Now if it were a $5.00 or more book, I'd consider it but .99 cents?  Geez, if you can't afford .99 cents then don't BUY the book! 

I worked in retail for many, many years and was always amazed at what people tried to return.  Clothes that were clearly worn, food that was opened, books that were was sickening.  It's like everyone wants something for nothing.  You purchase something, you USE it, and then you want your money back?  To what end?

I'm disgusted, honestly and truly disgusted.  This world is full of dishonest people and someone who buys a book and returns it is dishonest - you USED the book.  Have the decency to keep the book.  Indie authors make next to nothing and you want to take away the measly .35 cents we make because you want to work the system.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Week Before Christmas...

I cannot even believe that Christmas is a week away!  Where did the time go?  How did it get here so dang fast??  I am so not ready and I am ALWAYS ready for Christmas.  Of course, the last time I was working full time at Christmas time was...1993.  I kid you not.  Add to that the fact that I am NOT as young as I was in 93 and that I am now the mother of two rather than one...well, lets just say I'm exhausted.

The tree is up, all of the presents that I've bought (and that is the key here) are wrapped but there is still quite a bit of shopping to do.  Luckily my bosses were gracious and gave us off for Christmas Eve so I get a four day weekend next weekend and I will most likely spend most of it in preparation  of Christmas.  There is still food shopping to do and desserts to prepare along with the holiday meals.  Again, it's exhausting.

Christmas is a little weird this year.  Nick will be leaving for school in a matter of weeks.  When we went to get our tree last weekend, it hit me that it would be the last time, realistically, that he would be with us to shop for a tree.  He won't be home to do that next year and quite possibly the whole four years he'll be at school.  And who knows if he'll move back here when he's done!  So that depressed me.

We decorated the tree and again it hit me, that it would be the last time he'd decorate with us.  For such a great accomplishment on his part, it is certainly messing with my Christmas joy this year!

The shootings in Connecticut were horrific and as a parent, I cannot imagine what their Christmas is going to be like.  As much as I go on about how depressed I am that Nick will be a couple of hours away and not be able to be home to pick out and decorate a tree, the reality is that I WILL see him for Christmas.  Those families will never see their babies again.  There are presents under their trees right now that will never be opened.  So my griping is rather petty in light of their loss.

I'm trying to not watch the news because it's too sad.  There are so many people that I miss at Christmas and seeing this all unfold just makes me even more of a mess.  Last year was the first time in a long time that I was numb with grief.  It wasn't that we had lost anyone recently, but for some reason I FELT the loss so heavily that I could barely move.  I would cry at the drop of a hat and people were starting to get concerned.  

I miss my grandparents.

I miss my stepmother.

I miss my cousin.

As our lives are finally showing signs of getting better after nearly 20 years of near debilitating bad luck and struggles, I wish that all of them were here to celebrate with us.  Frank and I both finally have jobs.  Nick is going to college.  I have a best selling book out.  Michael is growing in to this amazing young man...I think that my grandparents - who were from a generation of the most AMAZING grandparents - would just be beaming with pride and joy at all that we've overcome.  I miss them.  I love them.  I would give anything for one more Christmas with them.

So I will start of this week by getting off of my sad sack and do my full week of work with the joy of knowing that I have a job.  I will go and order our Christmas roast (which is delicious!).  I will finish the shopping and be thankful that we have money for gifts this year.  I will await some test/biopsy results and be thankful that I was able to even GO to a doctor.  I will set up our little Christmas village that until a day or two ago, I was too sad to take out because it belonged to my stepmom and just taking it out makes me miss her.  Instead, I will take it out and light it up and say a prayer of thanks that she shared it with me.  I will be thankful for all of the friends who have supported me and loved me and helped me through some rough times and how they have embraced my dream of becoming a writer.

I will thank God every day for my husband and my sons.  They are the greatest gift of all.

And, to end this sad little post on a high note, we had another great Amazon day that I am extremely grateful for, too.  Drum roll please...

#17 in Women's Fiction
#23 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#40 in Contemporary Fiction
#44 in Contemporary Romance
#73 in Romance

#5 in BOTH Hot New Releases in Women's Fiction and Contemporary Women's Fiction
#7 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction
#12 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Romance
#21 in Hot New Releases in Romance and Finally...a new record...

"The Christmas Cottage" was #227 in Kindle Downloads!!!

Still only .99 cents to download on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords and only $6.99 in paperback!  Would love to be in the top ten for Christmas!!! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Show Me the Money!

So here's a funny thought - I am an author.  I have just released my second book and it is currently on three best seller lists on Amazon and three hot new release lists on Amazon.  It is climbing the charts.  The book cost me nothing to write, edit, produce and release.  You'd think, then, with a zero dollar investment, my return would be great on a best seller, right?

Think again.

I have been absolutely AMAZED at the blatant queries of how much I have made so far on "The Christmas Cottage".  I mean, CLEARLY, when you have a best seller, that must mean that I am being handed BUCKETS full of money!

Think again.

I have had some people since the book's release, looking for that dollar amount because they are wanting a share of the wealth.  They weren't interested in helping me promote the book, they weren't interested in even knowing what the book was about; they wanted FREE copies of the book and to know how many millions I am making.

And they were serious.

So for the mathematically challenged, let me make it super easy for you to understand... I invested $0.00 to produce the book - I used all of the free services that Create Space provided.  I invested $0.00 to list the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords and in return, I listed the ebook version for a measly .99 cents.  Of that .99 cents, I get about .35 for each download.  The book would have to be downloaded 2,857,143 times (approximately) in order to make a million dollars.  I can GUARANTEE you, the book has NOT been downloaded that many times.

Now the print version.  I priced this version at $6.99 and it's paperback.  I still felt it was a little high priced for the size of the book but the reality was, that's what I needed to set it at to show any kind of profit. And that profit is only $1.48 per copy.  Amazon gets the rest.  If it sells through Create Space, I get a whopping $2.78.  I went with the free distribution options because to expand the options would have cost me $25 that I did not have.  For some reason, the sales haven't tracked on Amazon yet and I am working out the kinks to figure that out but according to Create Space, I have sold 29 copies of "The Christmas Cottage" and one copy of my previous title, "Jordan's Return" making my royalties for December $74.19.

I realized that advertising to get the book out there is not free.  Sure, there are some free options but to really get the ball rolling, you have to pay something.  So far I've paid out approximately $200 between advertising and having the blessing of an assistant.  So technically, I am about $125 in the NEGATIVE.

So for those of you looking to cash in on my success, please keep in mind that it is my author name that I am building; it is the achievement of a life-long dream that is making this success so damn wonderful.  I feel sorry for those who only see success in dollar signs.  I'm not going to get rich doing this but the joy that I have in writing something that people are reading?  That's priceless!

We hit an all time high earlier today on Amazon and it was pretty freakin exciting!
#29 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#45 in Contemporary Fiction
#69 in Contemporary Romance
#12 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#14 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction
#18 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Romance AND...
#330 in Kindle Downloads

It was a great way to start the day and yet there was no chauffeur driven limo waiting to take me to work, I did not book a Disney Cruise and my lunch was some $5 take out from a local pizzeria.  I am not living a financially charmed life, people, but I am damn happy! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ebook Readers...

Love them?  Hate them?  Know how to use them?  

Last year for Christmas, Frank bought me a Kindle Touch.  I was not gracious about the gift at first.  I opened it, smiled and was like "Oh!  Look at this!" when the reality was I was fuming inside because I had told him a week earlier how much I did NOT want an ebook reader!  I prefer the feel of a "real" book, I enjoy turning the pages, I love scanning through them and re-reading some of my favorite parts...

What an idiot I was!

It took a little time but then I learned to embrace the Kindle and after a while, I kind of stopped buying paperbacks.  Not completely, mind you.  There are a couple of books that I have bought in paperback mainly because they weren't available in ebook format and I just had to have them right away.  Crazy, I know, but there it is.  

I didn't feel the need to step up to the Kindle Fire or covet any other more high-tech reader, I enjoy my simple Kindle Touch.  Then I discovered the Kindle App for my iPhone.

I'm lucky I still have a job.

I have found great joy in reading on my iPhone no matter where I am.  Hell, that's what got me through the long lines on Black Friday!  I read three novella's in a 24 hour period all from the convenience of my phone!  Who knew!

My soon-to-be 13 year old (yikes!) was browsing the campus bookstore when we went to tour Nick's college and he discovered the Nook from Barnes and Noble.  He was mesmerized by the whole thing and then started a campaign to get one for himself.  I was curious as to why it had to be the Nook; I don't have anything against the Nook but I wanted to know what it was about the Nook that drew him in.  The answer?

He could watch Netflix on it.


So I did a little research and basically the more high-tech "tablets" or ereaders have all kinds of apps to not only read but watch movies on and he told me that he is allowed to have an ebook reader at school with him.  I then had to remind him that he would have to actually READ on it if he had it at school and not be watching Dr. Who on Netflix.  I got the eye roll and the "Mom, please" but I could tell that he hadn't considered the possibility of getting caught watching TV at school.

Ah, youth.

The thing that really got me was the price of the Nook, the Fire, and the like.  He's 13.  I don't think that any child (and yes, he is still a child) needs to have the most expensive gadgets on the market because really, they don't know how to take care of them.  So we compromised and he agreed to not NEEDING the Nook and would be happy with an Android tablet.  Thank God for Amazon and Black Friday.  We got a sweet deal and when I see that he can really take care of his electronics (he's lost his iPod about a dozen times), we'll think about upgrading.

So what's your favorite tablet or ereader?  Have you found one that is far more superior than the rest?  I would love to know!

And you know what is the best part of the ereader?  MY BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON THEM!!!  "The Christmas Cottage" is currently #398 in Kindle downloads and 83,174 on Nook and only .99 cents per download!  Such a deal!!

Daily Amazon Stats:
#32 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#52 in Contemporary Fiction
#80 in Contemporary Romance
#11 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#14 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction
#22 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Romance

Would Oprah please give me a call!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Indie Author Support

I am, by nature, a talker and a sharer.  Sometimes I share too much.  If you've read this blog for any amount of time I'm sure you'll agree.  I don't keep much to myself and if there is a way I can help someone then I will.  I believe in trying to be encouraging and supportive while at the same time, being realistic.

I sound fabulous, don't I?

Anyway, in my long running quest to becoming a published author I learned one solid truth:  Authors are VERY secretive.  It's true.  Particularly the ones that have agents and have a big name publisher behind them; they would survive all kinds of torture before offering any real advice or leads on how an unknown author can get published.

They don't tell you who their agents are, they aren't really forthcoming in their tale of how they finally landed their agents or publishing contract and essentially you get a very "Stepford Wives" kind of vibe - everything is good, it all worked out great and they are so happy.  Seriously?  Now I know that not everyone has a great "road to getting published" story like J.K. Rowling but most of us will never see that kind of success either.  

Now as I have waded in to the pool of being an Indie Author (I really like that title!) I find that Indie Authors are a MUCH more forthcoming breed of people.  They are willing to talk to you; they are willing to go to your page and hit "like", and they are willing to offer a heartfelt congratulations.  I've worked with several published, main-stream authors and not one of them has offered me a personal "congratulations" on the success of "The Christmas Cottage".  I'm a little offended by that.

Then the next area of support/no support are the locals.  We have a newspaper here in town.  They took the free copy of my book, promised an interview...three weeks ago.  Small town bookstores look at me like I'm asking them to give me their first born when I ask to put a couple of books on their shelves!  Hey, did it ever occur to any of these people that locals might benefit from supporting locals?

Back when "Jordan's Return" came out I can remember how I had so many people congratulating me and encouraging me and I had an aunt who said to my mom, "I don't see what the big deal is; it's not like it's a real book."  Why?  Because I'm self-published; because I'm an Indie.  

You know, we are a society that supports all kinds of idiots who have no talent but have their own reality shows but for the thousands of Indie Authors who have REAL talent, we can't get the time of day!  How is that possible?  Now I know that not every Indie Author has talent but then again, haven't we all read a book by a normally best selling author that kind of sucks?  I know I have and more than once!  

I feel like making a bumper sticker that says "Have you hugged an Indie Author today?"!  How funny would that be?  Would anyone bother to hug me??  It's crazy...  All I'm trying to say is, hey, Indie authors are just as talented, if not MORE talented, than traditionally published authors and we should not be treated like the red-headed stepchild.  For those of you not wanting to engage because you think you are better than don't know what you're missing.
Today's Stats:
#39 on Amazon's Best Seller's in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#68 on Amazon's Best Seller's in Contemporary Fiction 
#516 in Kindle Downloads
#13 on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#16 on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction

Remember, "The Christmas Cottage" is only .99 cents on Kindle or $6.99 in paperback.  Help me show those snobs that an Indie Author can stay strong on the Best Seller List!!  Order your copy HERE.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advertising on Facebook

In my quest for more social media marketing, I am coming up against some weird options and some that are a little, shall we say, less than forthcoming with their prices and then the ever so popular "Free" advertising that is not anything even remotely resembling free.

I have paid some money for advertising and it's all been relatively small - $5 on one site for 24 hours worth of exposure, $8 on one and $10 on another.  I believe they are working because we're doing well on the Amazon charts and that's where I am focusing the most right now because while Barnes and Noble is awesome, I truly believe that Amazon is going to generate more overall sales.

Tonight, I did something that I was kind of confident that I wouldn't do.  I created an ad on Facebook.  They aren't free, it's $10 a day but with the target audience that I generated the ad toward, I have the possibility of reaching over 30 million people.  We'll see.  To me, that seems like a lot and really, I'm pretty sure that out of that target number, about 75% of them aren't on Facebook all that much.  I'm doing the ad for only two days to see what kind of sales/interest it generates.

The ad is simple; it simply headlines "Samantha Chase Fan Club" and then mentions that the Kindle download is only .99 cents and then the link to the Amazon page.  Next time I may do it just to get the likes, I'm not sure.  There was a spot for me to enter a coupon code toward the advertising but I could not find any such code.  So I'm going to search the web over the next two days and see what I can find because if I can find that elusive $50 in advertising credit code, that would give me more time to keep the ad out there.

We were in the top 30 on the Amazon Best Seller list today and that is always exciting.  My goal is to hit the top 25 by next weekend.  I'm hoping this little campaign will help me achieve that goal.  This is just all so new and confusing to me.  Add to that the fact that Amazon hasn't released any of my sales info yet, it would be nice to know that I am actually MAKING some money and not just spending it.

This is why writers need assistants.  We cannot possibly write the next best seller when we are continually having to market and promote.  Although, from what I understand, the days of the publisher helping with that is almost gone forever so really, whether you are an Indie author or with a publishing house, you have your work cut out for you and you would be wise to have someone helping you.  Thank you, Dot, for helping me!  Soon, you'll be making more money than me on this endeavor.  LOL!
Our final stats for the day aren't great but we'll take them!
# 41 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
# 68 in Contemporary Fiction and # 538 in Kindle Downloads.  

If you see the ad on Facebook, give it a click!  And if you haven't had the opportunity yet, please click HERE and go to Amazon and "Like" the book - and download for only .99 cents!  Help the starving Indie Author! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

When Good Books Get Bad Reviews

I am not going to lie to you, as an avid reader, I have read my share of bad of bad books.  I do a lot of book reviews both for websites and do them on Amazon, too, and while it's always easy to write a positive one, it's not as easy to write a bad one.  What we enjoy reading is a personal choice.  Not everyone is going to share your opinion and what one person loves another may hate.

All of this was not really a big issue to me until I became an author. Now all of a sudden it's a HUGE issue.  On Amazon I have a hard time leaving a bad review because it is MY name next to it and I feel like I wish I could leave the review anonymously.  I don't want the author to know my name.  She may look me up and yell at me!  LOL!  So why leave negative reviews?  Sometimes, it's the only way to get some satisfaction from a really horrible book.  

Today, I got my first bad review.  One star.  Yikes.  My heart dropped.  Now I am realistic and I know that the book is not perfect.  It was not meant to go as far as it has and I did not spend as much time editing it as I should have because it was originally planned to be a freebie download and I was under a time crunch to get it out for Christmas.  So the reviews are now starting to come in outside of my loyal readers and today's review hurt a little.

Then I went to the reviewers profile.  

She leaves bad reviews for everyone!  She's done a total of five reviews and they are all bad.  And let me tell you, it's not just on indie authors, she gave a one star review to Danielle Steel!  And she's like the QUEEN of women's fiction!!  She gave a two-star review to Nora Roberts!  So while my first thought was "how do I erase this review?" after seeing what this woman does, I realized it was like a little badge of honor.  Clearly she is reading the wrong genre if she feels the need to hate everything she reads.  STOP READING IT THEN, DUMMY!

I mean, if I only read Science Fiction books of course I would write bad reviews because I HATE Science Fiction!!!  So while I hate seeing that stupid review, I feel like I've "arrived" a little.  Now I truly am entering the league where there are players who are my heroes.  Writer's whose work I have long admired, I now have something in common with!  It's kind of cool.

So this little one star review will not get me down.  Why?  Because I am still moving up the charts!  Suck it, bad reviewer!!!  Sorry, that was a mean girl moment!  Here are the daily stats:

#35 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#64 in Contemporary Fiction
#91 in Contemporary Romance

#12 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#17 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction
#29 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Romance

Thank you for all of your continued support!  "The Christmas Cottage" is a sweet little novella and would make a perfect stocking stuffer for the romance reader in your life!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Shopping on Facebook?

I know I may be in the minority here, but I truly wish I had more time to just sit down at my computer just for fun.  I sit at a computer all day at work but I don't have the luxury of doing anything "fun" on it during the hours of 8 and 5.  Sad but true.  With so much to see on the web I am limited as to how much I can see and and with working full time, I am limited in the time I have to actually go OUT and Christmas shop.  The solution?  

Shop on Facebook.

No, I'm serious.  Think about it.  I am a fan of all kinds of products that I love.  I follow Target, Walmart, Amazon...all of the big stores so when there's something BIG going on, they share it on Facebook.  Then, with the invention of Pinterest, you get people sharing things that they like to see, do and make and then it gives you ideas of what you can, well...see, do and make for the holidays.

I find out about new books from authors that I love, I find out about contests to enter to win stuff for the holidays; really, for me?  Facebook has almost become a one-stop shopping endeavor.  I get to catch up with friends, see what's new in their lives and find out what they are buying and doing for Christmas.  Why?  Because we share EVERYTHING on Facebook!  Even stuff we shouldn't (and you know who you are!).

I found a deal where I can get $5.00 off on Amazon through a link on Facebook.  I found a giveaway that Target was doing, heck, most of my book sales on "The Christmas Cottage" have been generated from posts that I've put out on Facebook!  It's really a great social media resource.

And I wanted to add an addendum from Thursday's post:  "Social Media Marketing".  Another great way to get the word out besides blogging, Facebook, Twitter and the like is  This site allows you to post links to articles that you want to share with the masses.  I think they are primarily looking for news worthy articles but I post the link to my blogs there and it's generating some traffic so THANK YOU,  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to post my ramblings on your site.

So do you find Facebook informative or just a place to go to kill time?  What social media sites do you find to be most helpful?  I'd love to hear about them!

Daily book update!  We have made some MAJOR headway on the lists and I am THRILLED!!!  As of 9:00 this morning the stats are as follows on Amazon:
#42 in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#80 in Contemporary Fiction
#11 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Women's Fiction
#16 in Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction
AND.... Drumroll please...# 627 in Kindle downloads!!!

I am beyond blessed by this endeavor and I am so thankful for all of the support I have received!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Social Media Marketing

This whole experience lately has been a learning process. What I figure out daily is exhausting.  I can now understand why people figured out that they can charge for this service and people will pay for it.

Social media marketing.

I am telling you, a year ago when I published my first book I figured I'd put it up on Amazon, tell some friends and word would spread like wildfire.

It did not.

I learned to list it wherever I could, blog about it, put it on Facebook and Twitter but it's not the kind of thing that can only be done once.  It has to be done DAILY.  Several times a day.  On multiple websites.  All. Day.  Long.  In the last year I have found quite possibly hundreds of sites that are for book reviews and reviewers, discussion boards about books, places where you can list your book (some for free, some not so much) would take quite possibly a month to just catalog all of the sites and figure out which ones will give you the most exposure.

As much as I love Amazon, I'm not feeling like I'm getting a whole lot of anything from them.  If anything, they've sort of stalled my progress.  I've had reviews removed because, to them, they seemed like the writer of the review was too personally close to me.  So basically they are saying that people who know me, who BUY the book and like it, cannot write a review unless it is something basic like "Loved it!"  Now don't get me wrong, I would love to have about a hundred "Loved it"'s on the site but that's not happening right now and I can't obsess about it.  So although they are getting money from my book, they aren't doing anything to help it sell.

Where is the logic in that?

Twitter is still a mystery to me.  I don't spend a whole lot of time on it.  I have almost 400 followers (and you can follow me HERE) but I wonder, do any of these people really read what I'm tweeting?  I just really started doing the tweeting about a month ago so in the world of Twitter, I have relatively few "tweets"; I'm rectifying it now.  But I know for me, I don't have time to sit and read the tweets of the nearly 800 people that I follow!  So how does this benefit me?  I don't know.

I have a Facebook fan page for my author persona.  Samantha Chase has 51 followers.  That makes me a little sad but the numbers are growing a little bit more ever week.  It's another slow process.  Every day, several times a day, I post the progress of the book or something about what's going on in my "career" but it's nothing exciting.  I have a website but a friend designed it and it's too complex for me to update and so it's a little stagnant right now - all of the Jordan's Return stuff is all over it; very beach themed and sort of clashes with the whole Christmas thing I've got going on right now.

I would love to get on a blog roll of some sort.  I need the exposure but there are some long waiting lists to get on them.  The other day I was a featured author on and I've got another site that is interested in doing an interview with me.  These are all great things but it's searching them out and again, figuring out who is going to get me the most exposure that I'm trying to figure out.

The local newspaper is supposed to get back to me about an interview and I have a display in a local bookstore...back in the day, these would be great things but local advertising really doesn't do much for you.  We have another local bookstore here in town that won't carry the book until he sits and talks with me.  That's going to take another week and being that the book is Christmas themed, I kind of feel like the time is NOW to get it out there.  No one has the urgency that I do and I'm growing frustrated with it.

So what have I learned?  I've learned that even well-known, multi-published authors have to do their own marketing.  Most of them have assistants to do that for them because the publishers are not doing it.  There is no magic fast-track to climbing the chart when you are a new indie author.  You still get blocked by the big guys.  So I sit and I wait, not so patiently, for my turn.  It can happen.

Daily Amazon Update:  #59 on Amazon's Best Seller List for Contemporary Women's Fiction and #1101 in Kindle downloads.  We're still moving up and it still feels great!  But I wouldn't turn down some more "Likes" and maybe a review or two...just saying...