Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Reasons I'm Going Indie



Becoming a hybrid author is something I’ve wanted to do since I started writing with publication in mind. I’m happy to say that, three years and five traditionally published books later, I’m finally taking the plunge and self-publishing. It’s a scary plunge and one that I wouldn’t do without the encouragement and support of a great group of people. Plus a lot of thought—yeah, there was a lot of thought that went into this too. Most of the time it was just that—thought—and no concrete planning. Two weeks ago, I got the push I needed to finally go indie. 

That push? Well, it was the Big 5 saying thanks but no thanks to a submission that is near and dear to my heart. It was one publisher saying, yeah, okay, let’s make huge changes and we’ll talk again. It was me feeling for the first time that I didn’t want to make those big changes. I wanted this book to stay real. Intimate. Close to how it was meant to be. So I said, “no,” and my lovely agent said, “self-publish,” and I said, “yes!”

This doesn’t mean I’m against being edited. Not at all. All of my traditionally published books have gone through heavy editorial and I LOVE the stories they became. But this book…this book wasn’t one I wanted to chop and stitch back together. I like the rawness of it and the story it has to tell. Fear aside, I weighed the option to self-publish vs. heavy editing and resubmission, and came up with five reasons going indie was right for me:

Scheduling

I write fast. This means I almost always have a book either completed or nearly so. Trying to juggle editing, proposal writing, submission, editing, resubmission, etc is even more frustrating when you’re ready to put out another book, but you’re a slave to a publisher’s schedule. The book I finished a year ago, may have to wait another year before it ever goes into print. Self-publishing a series means that I can add book releases in between my traditionally published books. This can give me a well-paced stream of books so I have several coming out per year, versus maybe only one. Great for my readers, and great for me!

Income

The above publication schedule means I’ll have a steadier income flow, versus waiting months and months in between releases. I don’t know about other authors, but my books tend to drop off in sales about 6 months after release, which thins the royalty flow. Being able to put out a few more quality books not only pumps up the flow, but also helps build my backlist of titles. I have no great expectations that going indie is going to make me rich, and I’m not even looking at it that way. I do, however, expect that it will build upon the income stream that my books are already generating, and that’s the point.

Creative Control

I’m not much of a control freak, but there’s something wildly exhilarating about being able to choose my own cover, write my own blurb, and decide when my book will be published. No waiting months for a publisher to decide when to release my book. No cringing a little because I really don’t like the cover my publisher made…and trying to swallow it down because I can’t change it. I can lower or raise the price if I want to! I can have a flash sale, or become part of a boxed set, or whatever. Because the control is mine. All mine. Creative freedom is also a nice perk. Maybe I feel like writing something ‘out of the norm’ or ‘edgy’ that might not fit what publishers are looking for right now. I can still write it, get opinions on it from my agent and critique partners, and publish it. No house editorial approval needed.


Great Support

I can’t emphasize enough how much my support network means to me, and what a huge role they played in my decision to do this. I belong to a kick-ass writing group of experienced indie authors, best-selling traditional print authors and everyone in between. Among us are cover designers, copyeditors and two authors with absolute mad skills in developmental edits. I have a professional team at my fingertips, and I’m so grateful. In addition, having an agent and family on board with this next step are crucial too, because I always have somewhere to turn when I need help, have a question, or just need reassurance. I would never consider putting a book out there that wasn’t professionally developed and edited, and with my support group, I don’t have to.

Growth

Developing technique, refining your natural voice and learning the industry are all parts of being a professional author. I consider going indie another avenue in learning and growth. You know what? Maybe I’ll realize that self-publishing really isn’t my thing. But as least I tried, and that’s what counts.

So there you have it! I’m one of many taking the step from traditional to indie, and I’m excited to be part of the hybrid author community! What about you? Is self-publishing in your future?


COMING NOVEMBER 24th, 2014

 
 ***Please note this is a temporary cover. Final cover image coming soon***


“A gentleman would get to know you patiently, intimately, before demanding anything of your body. Tonight,I’m not going to be a gentleman.”

For wealthy British surgeon Isaac Kimball, being the good guy comes naturally. Caring for Chicago’s poorest fills his days and keeps his other side—the dark one that craves sensuality and control—at bay. When Isaac is prevented from saving a charity he loves, an acquaintance offers him a proposition: transform a woman from the streets into a sophisticated mistress who can pass in London high society, in exchange for the charity’s salvation. A ridiculous suggestion until he realizes he knows the perfect woman—one with an understated sexuality and sharp wit that continually tempt his control.

Mila DePardo counts the days until she can get off the streets and put her criminal past behind her. When Dr. Kimball offers her a ticket out of hell and into the glitter of London society, lying about her identity is easy. Until the chemistry between them starts to crack her no-sex rule, and the pleasure of Isaac’s touch changes everything she thought she wanted.

When the truth starts to unravel and Isaac’s own secrets come to play, Mila’s will and belief in herself is put to the test. She might win the mistress experiment, but can she survive him?

Add to GOODREADS






Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hot Fireman Alert!

I can't wait for you to meet Garrett Mateo, sexy fireman and bartender. Breaker of women's hearts and rescuer of puppies and all that jazz. Mostly, he's just cocky, sassy, a little self-absorbed and sexy as hell.

He's delicious. Trust me on this.

You can enter to win a signed copy of THE FIREFIGHTER'S APPEAL on Goodreads. Giveaway entry closes July 20th at midnight.


Be sure to join my Facebook author page for release day goodies, starting on August 1st, 2014.

Or, sign-up for my author newsletter for exclusive swag and giveaways on release day!

Want it all? Come over and be part of the E Team, my awesome street team!

 AMAZON

GOODREADS

Monday, July 7, 2014

What if Feels Like to Turn in Your Last Contracted Book

Today marks a milestone: I will turn in the very last book in my first contracted series, to my editor. This is the end of a beginning that has opened up a huge, gaping hole.

Why? Because that book was also my very last contracted book, period. I have no more. Nothing else. Nada. Zip.

It makes me feel like this:

Funny Panic animated GIF

Yeah, it feels strange. Like, I have no deadlines ahead of me (except for editing this beast I just turned in).Of course, I keep pondering that maybe...just  maybe...I'll never have another contract. O_O. No one will want me. OMG, whatifIneverwriteanotherbookthatanyonewantstobuy?



Airplane Movies animated GIF

There is a nice, fluffy sense of freedom associated with fulfilling all the contracts. My writing platform is wide open. I can write whatever I want! I canwriteallthethings!

In the meantime, I'll  be over here with a chocolate cake. And some Doritos. And wine. Lots of wine. And cake. Did I mention...

Cake?

Stress eating is a thing. You should (n't) try it sometime.





In the meantime, look for my next two releases: THE FIREFIGHTER'S APPEAL comes out August 1st, 2014, and PAINT RIVER RANCH #3, comes out in November, 2014. After that...

I'll have to get back to you. :)









Thursday, July 3, 2014

Money and the New Author



  































***Disclaimer: My verbal filter is OFF today***

After reading a very excited post by a new author on a group, about quitting her day job (she carried insurance) to write full time, and her first book had JUST been acquired (with no advance), I really, really felt like I needed to get the below off. My. Chest. 

 Atm Money animated GIF

Money


I don’t know many authors who write simply for the pure joy and torture of writing, but a few do. The rest of us expect, at some point, to make a little money. And perhaps a smaller demographic, like me, absolutely has to either profit from writing, or give it less effort. (That’s a sad truth, but there it is).

I decided to pursue my writing passion after someone challenged me to finish a book I’d been working on for 7 long years. So I did. In the process, I joined an awesome and inspiring group of women writers, one of whom who had just signed a huge (think movie huge) deal with lots of $$$ attached to it. It was her debut, and it pulled her out of poverty. As a young mother with 3 kids who was often taking a negative paycheck because childcare cost more than I was making, her story was inspiring. And hope-giving. And, OMG, that could be me! 

Less than a year later, another writer friend self-published an erotica series and, within a few short months, had earned a shit-ton of cash and pulled her family out of poverty, as well. She was working 3-4 jobs at the time to support her kids. Inspiring stuff. 

 Money Norma Desmond animated GIF

We live in a relatively poor community. There are no really good jobs here (trust me; I’ve been looking for nearly 3 years). My husband has always worked 2-3 jobs at a time, and I have a day job, but we’re still bottom-of-the-barrel, struggling for every penny, living paycheck-to-paycheck lucky people. So when I signed my first book deal, I thought, “Yay! Residual income!” I knew it wouldn’t make much (it’s made about $225 in 2 ½ years), but I figured it was a start. 

A few months later, I found a lovely agent and sold a series. Things were looking up! “Hey,” I said to the husband. “My publisher just put out this email with the average earnings for each book in the line I’m signed to.” We looked at the numbers. Our eyes went O_O because, money! Then I counted how many books I had coming out in that line and I really went O_O!!! The potential was more in a year than I’ve ever made annually in my professional life. 

 Money Reaction animated GIF

The husband was happy! The kids were excited! I felt like I was FINALLY helping my family financially (wow, I could help the teen pay for college in a couple years!) Yeah, you see where this is going. The hype was all in my head. Of course, I knew *average earnings* were a crap shoot, but I wanted to really believe I would break through and hit some of those numbers on that email. 

Not even close. In the past 18 months, I’ve made in the very low 4-figures OVERALL, from 2 titles, which includes an advance for an un-released title. A far, huge, continent-sized cry from the numbers I’d initially printed out and hung by my desk for inspiration (I’ve since burned that email). I recently passed the two year mark from the date my first book came out. The husband and I had agreed on two years as a relatively good assessment of whether or not this endeavor would be profitable. 

We underestimated that timeframe, too. At this rate, which is a realistic one, I’m convinced it will be 5-6 years before any real profit begins to show.

Perhaps, if your publisher is confident enough in your book to put a ton of backing behind it, or you get a nice, large advance, or you have enough cash to hire a professional publicity and marketing team--or, you just have REALLY GREAT LUCK with a BREAKOUT book, your experience may be different. However, if you're an everyday, new author, with a family, a job, bills and limited cash to spend on your own promo, I think you'll see a similar path. 

The Lesson: Don’t count on the money. Don’t listen to anyone else’s story and think for a single minute that you can achieve the same thing. Should you be competitive? Yes! Should you have goals and dreams for your writing career? YES! Just remember, the money is slow to come in. Very, very slow. Your writing buddy with the six-figure deal is NOT YOU. Someday, it could be you, but it’s not today.

 1990s Crying animated GIF

I still have my day job, and though I am actively looking for another job, I plan to continue writing. And I really think this is the way of most new authors like me. Recently there was a really smarmy article by some dude who accused romance writers of sucking off their spouses. As much as I hated that article (enough, actually, to not even waste time looking up the linky), the douchebag author had a small point: If you don’t have a spouse to help support you, or some other way of providing for yourself or your family, shiny new authorship probably isn’t going to do that for you. At least, not right away. 

Keep your day job (s). Keep writing. Keep dreaming, and maybe, if the stars align, the next 6-figure $$$ deal will have your name and bank account on it. 

Money isn’t everything. But when you spend countless hours on your craft, it sure does help. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wrangler Butt is a Thing, Y'all!



Okay, I'm not from the south, but I've always wanted to give a hearty Y'all! So there it is.

I am, however, a country girl from the Northwoods of Wisconsin and I grew up around my share of good looking country boys. Besides muscles, smooth, tanned skin and killer, crooked smiles, those boys all had one other thing in common: Wrangler Butt.

What is Wrangler Butt? Ladies, it's only the best thing to happen. Ever. See, Wranger jeans somehow crafted their jeans to perfectly conform, smooth, lift and outline the male rear-end. To. Perfection.

Since the men of my Paint River Ranch series all wear Wranglers, all I can do is show you the glory that is Wrangler Butt.

Let me know in the comments: Yes or no to Wrangler Butt?? There's a give-away involved. ;)


wrangler butts drive me nuts!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tucker Haywood Stops by for a Visit--you've been warned




So, Tucker from ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY just stopped by and he's pacing in the kitchen at the moment. Kinda like a caged animal...all long-legged strides and growly expression. Probably because I forced him to come in here when it's such a beautiful day outside. Too bad for him. Big baby. Let's see if I can make him behave long enough to answer a few questions.

Hey, Tucker. Come on in and have a seat.

Yeah, okay. How long is this going to take?

 Depends on how long it takes you to cooperate.

*blinks* Fine. I don't want you making me fat in the next book or something, so...

Good boy. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to our readers. We all, er, really appreciate the pose you did for the cover of ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY. 

*shrugs* Yep. 

Cowboys are always in demand, it seems. What’s your favorite thing about being a cowboy?

Have you seen my ass in these Wranglers? Draws women like moths to a hot, hot, denim-covered flame. As long as they understand that it’s one night with me, and one night only. If not, they can find a different flame. Know what I mean?

So, your answer is women?

Does there need to be another answer? 

I…suppose not. Okay, so ranch work can be taxing, obviously. What kinds of things do you like to do when you leave the ranch?

I have to leave the ranch? *snorts* No thanks. I’m happy right where I am. 

Well, I’ve heard that the Tit for Tap bar is an old favorite of yours. Has that changed?

I used to go there a lot. But, I only go there on…certain nights now. No big deal.

Oh, yes. When Sophie Miller is waitressing, right? 

Sophie’s a distraction. That’s all. Moving on…

A distraction from what?

Am I running for President, here? Does it matter why I go there when she’s working? It’s a safety thing. I want to make sure she’s safe working there…with all those other men around. 

 Huh, well, it sounds like Sophie might be a little more than a distraction.

*shifts in his chair* Yeah, well, she’s a city girl. City girls don’t know how to handle rowdy cowboys and country bars, or anything else around here. Hell, you saw her freak out over that squirrel, right? Point made. So, moving on…

Fine. Which is your favorite brother, Levi or Cole, and by proxy, Jaxon?

They all drive me bat-shit crazy. Next.

Speaking of Jax...what's his story anyway?

Seriously? You wrote him. You already know what his story is. 

*rolls eyes* Yeah, yeah. What’s your biggest weakness?


*smirks* Look at me, sweetheart. My biceps are illegal in ten states. Do I look like I have any weaknesses?

I heard something about chocolate chip cookies bringing you to your knees…

You have cookies?

Okay, well, thanks for the chat, Tucker. I hope our readers get a chance to stop by Paint River Ranch and see you in action. Riding horse, roping cattle and showing off those Wranglers, and all.

Fine. Just tell them to bring double chocolate chip. No nuts. *gets up*

Great. Well, Tuck, thanks for....okay, bye...nice to see you...and he's gone. That boy!

Meet the Paint River Ranch boys and form your own opinions, but I gotta say: HOTNESS! I'll see ya at the ranch. ;) 

So, there's been a lot of talk about Jaxon getting his own story. If you've read ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY, you'll know why he's in such demand. All I can say, is that I'm working on making it happen. In the meantime, Jax has found himself with a Blue Heeler puppy and said puppy needs a name. Boy or girl? I'm not sure yet. You tell me, and give me a name in the comments below. 






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How Words Sell to Become a Book

This post is for my family, friends, and fans who might not completely understand the process words go through to actually become a book. I'm posting this because I know my family is often confused as hell. Like, "You wrote it, so why hasn't it sold?" confused. This is to be expected, and it's okay, because if you don't know the process, it's easy to assume because a manuscript is written, it automatically becomes a book.

Nope. All the nope's.

Here's a fun, gif-filled outline of how words become (or not) a book:

First, I write ALL THE WORDS!

 

Now, my friends and family know when this manic process is happening to me because I will not answer the phone or step foot outside my house for days. I used to write fast. As in, 60,000 words in 6-7 weeks fast. Since a particularily challenging life events in August, I'm much slower (damn it). 80,000 words takes me about five months now.

That's five months of NOT answering the phone or stepping out my front door. Mostly. I am a hermit, yo. And I make no apologies.

Once I type THE MOTHER EFFING END, I can send it to my agent right? RIGHT?

Nope.

I first do about ten rounds of self-edits on the manuscript, and then send it to my Critique Partners. And I wait for them to have time to read it.

And I am mostly not patient with the waiting. 




What's a Critique Partner? They are the lovely ladies who pat me on the head and say nice things like, "You're super talented, lady, which is why it pains me to tell you there is SO MUCH wrong with the plot in this book that I had to scrub my eyeballs with bleach." or, "Jesus Christ, are you going to use a serial comma or not? Be consistent before I die." (Looking at you Tamara).

Yeah, my CPs rip it apart while lathering me up with compliments. They speak the hurtful truth with a side of unicorn bacon and rainbows. Once I get all their feedback (usually from 3-5 critique partners...this can take weeks), I REVISE AGAIN!






While revising AGAIN, I listen to unhealthy amounts of Hiddleston reading poetry, because his voice seriously soothes the hell out of my manic brain. And I eat chips while listening to that sound gifted from the babies of Angels and Goddesses and unicorn blood.



Okay, so a few more weeks have gone by. And now I'M DONE with my CP revisions. Now, I send it to them again. Yep, again. They read it again. They tell me it still sucks or it doesn't; what to change, what to leave alone. Likely, I'm back to revising again. And then....

And then......!!!

Finally, I can send it to my lovely literary agent, Nalini, from Spencerhill Associates.












Yes, Finally!

My agent takes a peek. A good long peek. We chat on the phone a couple times and talk about whether or not this is a SELL-ABLE project. Wait...back up. I should mention that she and I always chat before I begin a project to see if the market is right, or will be soon, for what I have in mind.

That hurts the brain a little, doesn't it? Simply put, just because I want to write it doesn't mean there is a market. So my Millionaire Matchmaker meets Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure mash-up might not be the most lucrative project. Just sayin.'

And then, my agent give me (can you guess????) REVISIONS.
 

 So, Gods, I revise again. And then I send it back to my agent to see if she's happy. If she is, we go on SUBMISSION, also known as the nine realms of hell. (If she's not, I get. To. Revise. Again)

So, The Nine Realms of Hell is the big, dark beyond where all the book editors live. Book editors work for publishing houses, and they are the "big dogs" who read an author's manuscript and decide whether or not it is a good fit for not only the house, but the lines the house is currently publishing, or will be publishing in the future.

Gatekeepers, that's what they are. So, let's say my agent submits my book to editor T and publishing house Z and editor T loves it! She's SO EXCITED and wants it in the worst way. GREAT NEWS, right?

Not really, because now editor T has to take this work of yours that she loves so much, and present it to the Acquisitions Department, also known as the shark pit, of publishing house Z. Acquisitions makes the ultimate decision on whether or not they will be offering you a contract for your manuscript.

And that's all we're really after--that coveted contract!























If they choose not to purchase your manuscript, but they really like your writing style and/or voice, they may offer you the opportunity to do (can you guess) revisions based on their opinions of what needs to be changed. You can do that, and send it back to them for another peek. Or, they may completely pass on your project, but invite you to resubmit to them with your *next* manuscript.


I've had pretty good luck. I sold my PAINT RIVER RANCH series right out of the gate. My next series was acquired by Harlequin, but only after they rejected the first project I sent to them. They remembered me, and stayed in touch with my agent to see what else I was working on. They offered a contract on my next series, starting with THE FIREFIGHTER'S APPEAL, which comes out August 1, 2014.

My latest book isn't going as easily along the submission process. Not. At. All. It is market-current and by all rights should be highly marketable/ sell-able. But guess what? So far, none of the houses we've submitted it to are interested.

 


 So you see, even after you follow ALL THE STEPS, sometimes words don't turn into a book. Are we giving up on this project of mine? Heck no. There are still a gazillion nine realms of hell to contact. But what will happen is this: My agent will keep suggesting tweaks to the manuscript until it sells, which means I will be doing more....

REVISIONS.


I hope this has been a helpful peek into why my life is always so crazy. Because I'm insane, I always work on more than one project at a time, so I may be revising two works at once, or creating a new manuscript while revising one I've already completed.

I still won't answer the phone. And weeks will go by before I leave the house for anything other than the day job and picking up my kids.

But guess what? I wouldn't change a minute of it.