Thursday, April 25, 2013

If you don't like happy endings, find something else to read!

Everyone's a critic.

Honestly, I am having to learn to have thicker skin because as a writer, when you put your work out there, everyone has something to say.  Whether it's a 'well-meaning' friend, co-worker or family member, it seems that because you publically put your writing in print, that clearly means that you WANT to hear what they're thinking.

When my first book came out, I didn't market it very much so a lot of the people who reviewed it were friends who were just being nice.  I think they all thought "Hey, Stace wrote a book.  Let me cheer her on."

By the second book they were like "A second one?  Really?  Oh, good for you!" and they wrote very nice reviews.  But because "The Christmas Cottage" got a lot of publicity - mainly because it was a Christmas book at Christmas and everyone LOVES Christmas time, I was suddenly dealing with people I didn't know leaving reviews.  For the most part, people were nice but there were a few that were SUPER critical.  I was hurt but I moved on.  The biggest complaint?  Grammar errors.  I mean, they were completely right and it was an easy fix.  It was my own damn fault for rushing things so I couldn't be too terribly upset.

When the third book came out, it was not received very well.  The friends and family were like "Another one?  Already?  Well, I'll see if I have time to write a review".  Okay, fine, I get it.  You only want to help - to a point.  So most of the reviews on "Ever After" are solely from strangers.  The biggest complaint?  They didn't like Ava - the main character.  They said she was annoying.  Um...if you'd read "The Christmas Cottage" ("Ever After" is the continuation) you would have known how over-the-top her character was.

Then we got to "Catering to the CEO".  Seriously, for the first week or so, NO ONE wrote a review and I was a little devastated.  I didn't really ask anyone but I figured that since I was promoting it all over Facebook, SOMEONE would have gone and written one.  Finally, a friend of my in-laws (who has been my absolute biggest supporter!) wrote a wonderful review.  The others all came basically from strangers.  

Now here's the funny part and something that you need to keep in mind - I write romances.  Okay, when you THINK of romance, what comes to mind?  Love, relationships, sex...happily ever after?  Right?  Well, I had someone complain about the happily ever after!!  Ever romance I ever read consisted primarily of a couple getting together, having some sort of conflict, then someone apologizing and admitting their love and then, THE END!  

**SPOILER ALERT***  DON'T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK!!  So when my character Adam (who had been a controlling jerk for most of the book) finally came to his senses and confronted Cassie about how wrong he'd been and tells her that he loves her, she forgives him!  Why?  Because what good would it have been if she had responded with "Um, yeah, that's great but it's too late" and walked away?  I would have wasted 170 pages building up to something that wasn't going to happen!  

For real, lady.  She said women were pathetic.  Clearly this woman had run someone off who never came back and said they loved her.  Sorry, mean girl moment, but when you read a romance book, you WANT the happy ending; you want the man to realize he's been a jerk and that he can't live without the woman.

Maybe I need to put the spoiler alert in my book descriptions.  Something like "Warning:  This book contains a happy ending.  If that doesn't appeal to you, go find another book".  

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Because THIS is what friend's do...

It seems like nowadays (I sound like I was born in the 40's, don't I?) that a lot of people not only work a regular job, but they have second jobs to make ends meet.  You know what I'm talking about; we all know a Pampered Chef consultant or a Tupperware consultant or some other home-party based business.  Or the guy who fixes computers on the side.  

Or an aspiring author.

Am I right?

Okay, so here's the thing, when it is possible, I do what I can to help my friends with their businesses.  I've hosted a home-party.  I've paid someone to help with my computer stuff.  Today I ordered a RIDICULOUSLY expensive cosmetic primer that, while I like it, I didn't really need.  Why? Because someone very sweet was just starting their new business and I wanted to help.  She was beyond grateful and even offered to DRIVE 500 miles if I wanted to host a party!

I am an aspiring author.  Or am I no longer aspiring because I'm published?  I don't know but basically I'm an author, self-publishing, self-promoting and I have little to NO money to use for marketing and I desperately need help from my friends to get the word out on my books.

I'm not asking for a Kidney.

I'm not asking for a loan to buy a pet elephant.

I'm asking for .99 cents or to just click a button.

I think I'd have more luck with the Kidney.  I know I'm being kind of down lately but it amazes me how many people have eReaders/Kindles and won't even just download a free copy of something to get me the ranking.  I never made it to the #1 spot last night.  I have no way of knowing how far I was from it but it sort of blew my mind with 919 Facebook friends and 693 fans on my author page and only having to click on something that was free and no one would do it.  I've gotten more kind words and reviews from strangers than from friends.

It just makes me sad.

Do I help everyone that I know with their home business?  No.  Sometimes I just can't.  I'm not going to host a party for a product that I do not want/need/ or believe in but I will certainly share the link to your website or Facebook page!  I've written reviews for fellow indie authors to help them get their review count up...don't get the favor returned too often.  

I just wish that people had more of a spirit of giving.

So here's my giving for the day:  A brand new indie author reached out to me.  She released her first story today.  It's a short story (24,000 words) and it's a sexy contemporary read (yes, there is sex - gasp!) and she's dipping her toe into the self-publishing pool and not so much feeling the love from other authors.  Well I'm willing to give some love.  Breah Elise's "Mistaken Identity" is a sensual, sexy read that had me turning the pages for sure!  It's only .99 cents on Amazon right now.  You can click HERE to buy it. 

Will you show the love?  Will you buy it?  Will you share the link?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Settling for Number Three When Number One is So Damn Close!

I am a tortured artist.

No, I'm not being dramatic.  At this moment in time I am, indeed, tortured and as a writer I am technically an artist.

This self-publishing thing is making me crazy.  I'm completely losing my mind and it's not a good thing.  I watch numbers, rankings, reviews and it's enough to make a grown woman cry.

Which I do.

A lot.

So as part of the Kindle Select program that I have done with my current book, "Catering to the CEO" and my previous book, "Ever After", I get the option of offering the book for free for up to five days.  I get to choose the dates and for the most part, it's a cool marketing tool.

Unless you are SO CLOSE to being number one but you just can't do it.  I mean, it's a FREE book.  It doesn't cost your friends or family ANYTHING to just download the damn thing.  You don't have to read it, just download it and give me a freakin minute of joy today.  But are they?

I hit number two in Free Women's Fiction, number four in Free Contemporary Fiction and number 21 in the Free Kindle Store.  Seriously?  I cannot break that invisible barrier and get my minute in the spotlight?  IT'S FREE, People.  As in NO COST TO YOU.

I'm cranky.  I'm annoyed and I am going to have to eat some brownies to deal with the pain.

I think I'm disappointed more than anything else.  I watch people share ridiculous posts on Facebook or tweet utter nonsense but to do something that cost nothing that would actually HELP someone, and they can't do it.

So, I'll sit here with my brownie bites while I give away my 13,000th book in three days and STILL not get that coveted spot at the top of the list.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting Votes, Gaining Stats and What the Heck, Amazon!

It is a very busy time to be me.  Seriously.  I just released my fourth indie book (this time a full-length novel), I'm editing a completed novella, writing a follow-up to said novella, and trying to figure out which work-in-progress I want to finish up/polish to submit to my agent.  

As if that isn't enough, I am doing 95% of my own marketing and promotion on all of my books and just found out that I have been nominated for THREE Indie Romance Awards that I have to campaign to get people to go and vote for me!  It's exhausting.  All of this WHILE being a wife and mother, working a full-time job and just fighting to survive.


So how can one person with a VERY limited budget do it all?  It's not easy, I can tell you that!  Okay, the fourth book, "Catering to the CEO", is out on Amazon.  I went with the Kindle Select again just because.  Honestly, it's very time consuming to submit your file to multiple sites because they all want it in different formats and whatnot and I just don't have the time or energy.  I am trying a little bit different of a marketing strategy on this one and I'll see if it pans out for me.  Being that this book is a full-length novel, I was able to justify pricing it a little bit higher.  Again, we'll see if it pays off.

I'm guessing that the "Like" button on Amazon is a thing of the past because I have used multiple browsers on multiple computers and asked dozens of people and nobody seems to see the dang thing.  Why would Amazon take it away?  Probably because people try to manipulate results and do the "I'll like your page if you like mine" and so the results are kind of not an accurate telling of what people honestly think of the book.  I can admit that I am guilty of that.  But still, I wish there was a way that they could track traffic just to see if there is interest in your book!
Then the Indie Romance Awards.  I'm pretty excited about these but this offers a challenge all its own.  Getting votes.  Good grief, you'd think I was asking people to donate a damn kidney.  With 500 fans on my Facebook Author Page and another almost 900 on my personal page, do you know how many votes I have?  21.  TWENTY-FREAKIN-ONE.  I can't even get angry anymore but I'm still seriously annoyed.  This whole self-publishing thing is hard enough - with just the actual writing and editing.  Add marketing and promotions and then campaigning for votes?  There aren't enough hours in a WEEK! 

There's a site called "Get Online Votes" that you can submit your info too that will direct people to your site where you need votes.  It's not as sketchy as it sounds because people have to actually go to the site, click on your link and go and vote; it's not like it's hacking the site or anything.  And believe me, I don't know enough about computers or programming to even try to hack anything!   No, right now I'm seeing if I see any results from them to help me gain some votes and in return, I go and vote for other people's stuff.  We'll see.

Stats, Votes, Sales...Oh, my!

If you can, please vote for me on the Indie Romance Convention site.  I am nominated for Best Indie Contemporary Romance for "The Christmas Cottage", Best Indie Romance Novella for "The Christmas Cottage" and for Indie Author of the Year - Samantha Chase.

If you're looking for something to read, "Catering to the CEO" is out on Kindle along with "Ever After", "The Christmas Cottage" and "Jordan's Return".