March Madness, Marketing, and March Hares

March Madness usually refers to basketball. For many writers, the madness of March is the push to get older manuscripts finally finished, to begin new stories that have been kicking around in their heads for too many long winter months, and to figure out that elusive creature called “marketing.”

I know I’m definitely juggling all three as I finish up Book 4 of The Defiant Hearts series, which should have been finished and published about two years ago. At the same time, I couldn’t help but write back cover copy for two books that don’t exist yet. The characters have been nagging at me to get started so, at the very least, I wrote the bcc so they know I’m serious. Those pushy people in my head. Sheesh!!

Lastly, I’ve been delving into the land of newsletter marketing. Many writers, including a good friend of mine, were stranded by the closing of one business that handled relatively inexpensive emailings to large lists of thousands of subscribers. The next closest seemed to be prohibitively expensive since my friend has 25,000 signups to her newsletter. Then I discovered that for me to help her produce her newsletters, I don’t have to go with the expensive, canned variety, such as MailChimp, Mailer Lite, AWeber, or Constant Contact.

No, for very short money, under $50 per year, I can use a WP plugin to integrate her newsletter signups to her list and send her emails from an independent SMTP. This part is important since it might be a headache (meaning slow and unwieldy) to use her website’s host server to send out 25,000 emails at once.

Too technical for many, I love figuring this stuff out. All part of my March Madness routine, adding more things to my plate until I’m running around like a March hare!!! Honestly, maybe I look more like this guy on the right:

Cover of Presenting Lady Gus

I love the cover created by Philip Re. And the happy couple is standing in front of the real Thornbury Castle featured in the story.

Meanwhile, I am still enjoying a warm reception to my latest novella, Presenting Lady Gus. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet . . . click here. And if you already have, I would be grateful if you could leave a review.

Happy Spring!!

 

Defiant Hearts Boxed Set Hits Amazon #1

Doing a little bragging this Friday morning. I’m excited to learn that my boxed set of Defiant Hearts books (prequel and books 1 and 2) hit #1 on Amazon last night.

Defiant Hearts ranking

It’s now labeled a “best seller.”

Defiant Hearts best seller list

If you don’t have it already, it’s one of those temporary sales by my publisher, at the low, low price of 99 cents! Contains An Intriguing Proposition, An Improper Situation, and An Irresistible Temptation.

Another bit of publishing news, my new medieval romance, The Black Knight’s Reward, co-written with Marliss Melton, became available on Amazon this week.

the-black-knights-reward-8-f-jpegSynopsis: As the roaring flames engulf her, Merry du Boise struggles futilely against the binding ropes before relinquishing herself to her fate. Miraculously, a fearless warrior sweeps her from the stake and from certain death, placing her under his protection. However, as a nun condemned for heresy, with whispers of sorcery surrounding her, Merry’s problems have barely begun.

Luke, the king’s commander, has battled fire before and lived. Using his hard-earned moniker, the Phoenix, he has risen in the ranks of King Henry’s service with only one goal—to inherit his grandfather’s coveted estate of Arundel. Yet in the blink of an eye, rescuing a witch from the flames and stealing her away from the powerful Church have put his entire future in jeopardy!

Having vowed to protect the fiery-haired beauty, Luke realizes he wants to offer her more than merely his sword arm. Yet Merry has been betrayed before. As her dark past catches up with her, can she put her faith in an earthly savior who is torn between duty to his king and his own personal desires?

Currently, only available at Amazon in digital format, but soon, it will available everywhere in digital and in paperback.

A Video Featuring the Defiant Hearts Series and a Dog

Video stillshot1

I have two new things today: 1) a video made by REX Video Productions featuring my DEFIANT HEARTS series and the new series, the WARRIORS OF YORK, that I’m writing with bestselling author Marliss Melton and 2) my own YouTube channel with exactly one video (see #1).

If you have less than a minute, and nothing better to do, you can take a look at the video by clicking here. My slightly overweight pooch, Perry the Wonder Dog, made the final cut!

I enjoyed seeing the process of how such a mini-film is made; it all starts with the script! Then you get to go into a studio and do the voiceover narration. Finally, the video is made, with the cinematographer matching clips and images to the script.

Another stillshot of the video from YouTube:

Video_stillshot2

The No-Sales Dungeon at Amazon

I’ve been published by a publisher and I’ve self-published. Neither is a cakewalk. Both avenues take hard work, compromise, and a few regrets. In either case, after your book has been published, there’s Amazon. Many writers have a love/hate or hate/hate relationship with the ‘Zon, as we call it in the biz. Can’t live with it, can’t kill it. For some, it’s their bread and butter; for others, their dry, burnt toast.

If you’ve written something mainstream and the powers that be at the ‘Zon shine beneficently on your book, then it may be pushed before eager customers, with such phrases as, “Customers who bought this… also bought ….[name of your book here].” Ah, sweet success!!

However, if you write what is known as erotica or erotic romance or even “women’s porn” as it’s sometimes called (which is just rude) and you put a suggestive cover on said book, you may find yourself in Amazon’s dungeon. It is dark, windowless, and nearly impossible to get out of. And you’ll find that no readers are looking at your book down there. Worse still, if they search your book’s title, it may not show up in the results. That’s the curse and purgatory of the ‘Zon’s dungeon. Here’s the thing: even erotica authors have to sell books to make money to live so they can write more books. That’s how it works for any genre. And despite the current slew of 99-cent and free digital books, no, writers can’t use the zero “income” they earn by “selling” for free to buy food or clothing! Huh, go figure! But that’s another rant.

This rant is to do with Amazon tossing an erotica author’s books in the dungeon. For having a suggestive cover. On erotica. Suggestive. Not nudity. Someone’s idea of suggestive. Which must equal offensive to someone at the ‘Zon. How do I know the dungeon exists? Sorry, I won’t answer that, but you can determine the Amazon rank of a book by going here: http://www.salesrankexpress.com/. Type in a book title and you can see if it is labeled “none” (meaning safe for now until someone at Amazon deems otherwise), “not adult” (meaning safe forever), “ADULT” in big red letters (meaning off it goes to the Amazon dungeon). And the kicker is that it has to do with arbitrary reasons, as I said, such as a cover that is too suggestive to someone’s eye, or a keyword or a book description that rubbed someone the wrong way. And the other kicker is that you will find loads of erotic books labeled “not adult,” even if they are about college-age kids boinking (can I use that word?) their mom’s friends or multiple partners having sex without a plot or even a whiff of a story to be read anywhere between the covers.

Getting down off the soapbox. Almost. One final statement: Writers need to sell books to make a living. Readers can buy or not buy, and bad writing usually falls by the way side because of bad reviews and readers not buying. However, if a reader wants to buy books of a certain genre, then the playing field, or in this case, the digital bookshelf of Amazon should be level. If you’re in the dungeon, it’s not level. If a book doesn’t show up in a reader’s legitimate search of the site, even though the book matches the reader’s search criteria, right down to the title, then that’s censorship. Isn’t it?

See below: Writers are serious about selling!! (Jefferson Smith’s cartoon archive available here.)

Book fair etiquette