Sunday, July 31, 2011

My rebuttal to romance genre bias

Sometimes you just can't keep your thoughts to yourself. Read my comments if you're interested.  I encourage you to add a comment if you're moved to.

Writing a good romance is about so much more than adding sex to a story.

As the author of "Maid for the Billionaire", I thought I should chime in on this discussion.

Lumping the romance genre into one "sex sells" clump is a mistake. People read romances for as many different reasons as they read other fiction. As in with any other genre, it would be better to suggest that the writer has a firm understanding of their targeted readers rather than suggesting that the trend is asking for authors to spice it up.

I love category romances. I've been reading them since I was in my mid teens. Presents. Desire. Sheiks. Secret babies. To dismiss my love for the genre as a love of "soft porn" reveals a genre bias. Don't get me wrong, reading soft porn is delicious, but it's not what draws me to these books.

There is an unspoken promise made between a category romance author and the readers. It sounds something like this: I will take you on a fun, emotionally charged adventure with a hero you will enjoy being with and a heroine you can imagine yourself in the place of. You will laugh and probably cry, but nothing too awful will happen. We will escape into a place so wonderful that the stress of your day will dissolve. The background will be exotic. The dialogue will be captivating. There will be sexual tension. All you have to do is let go and enjoy. Does it have to be realistic? Hell no. This is escapism. Bubble bath, glass of wine, relaxation after a tough day at work brain candy.

Erotic writers make different -- and just as legitimate -- promises to their readers.

So, please don't jump on the "sex sells" simplistic train. Not if you want to discuss the romance genre intelligently. Not all romance novels are the same. Not all romance writers are the same.

Keep an open mind and engage some of us in craft discourse. You might be surprised to discover that it's not as easy as it looks.

Increasing Twitter Followers

Maid for the Billionaire has done well so far.  Since April 21, 2011 I've had just over 130,000 downloads.  I've averaged 1 - 2,000 downloads a day.  This past week I only had 6,500 downloads so I'm starting to think about promotion again.

What have I been doing instead?  Writing, writing, writing.  Which is what people say is the best place to put my energy, but I do want Maid for the Billionaire to be visible until the end of August when Book 2 comes out.

So I'm off to find more online connections.  First goal, 2,000 twitter friends. I have a little over 800. How am I going to do it?  I'm going to seek out people who are interested in the type of romance I write...either to write it or reading it....and I'll follow them.

I try to retweet whenever I come across a tweet from an author who is promoting via a review or a contest.

I've also started answering tweets.  Making the connection more personal.

Will it work? Let's see.

Either way, I have met so many amazing people from all over the country via this experiment....actually from all over the world.  Expanding my twitter base is actually exciting.  I don't know which new readers or fellow authors those connections will introduce me to.

I've been very, very lucky so far and I am savoring and remembering to be grateful for each stage of this ride.

I'm also working my butt off on Book 2.  Whether people love it or hate it, I'll put it up onto Amazon knowing that it was the best story I know how to write....and that's all any author can really do. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This is why I love his blog -- Are you writing

When I start to drag or I get confused I head over to Joe Konrath's blog and he sets me straight with some good old fashioned tough love.

This post was an example of exactly the kick in the butt I sometimes need. 

So, I guess I'll be the bad friend and send you there.  But stay only for the length of one post and then get back to writing!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Ok, my book dipped to # 13 on the FREE list last week so I decided to ramp up the promotion a bit.  I think it worked.  I started tweeting more and going onto facebook more.  Within a few days I was back at # 6.  It works.  I don't know why it works, but it does.  Don't underestimate it.  Don't fear it.  Just jump in and do it.  I have no idea if my method is the most effect but I try to 1) retweet 5-10 things one of my followers wrote about -- I figure this helps them get the word out about their projects  2) I try to find 20 or so people a day to follow 3) I try to find topics that writers or romance readers would be interested in.

I was talking to a writer this weekend who said that she finds that facebook is the most effective promotional tool for her, but she has 5,000 friends.  I don't even know how you find 5,000 people but I can imagine that if you do....Facebook seems more personal than tweeting.  Anyone know how to get 5,000 friends? lol

The word people keep tossing around lately is audio.  Everyone is asking if I have an audio book version.  Not sure how to get one, but I suppose I should try.

My next personal goal, outside of writing, is to figure out Create Space and design a cover that will work well on it.  I'd love a hard copy of my book.  One more way to make it feel real to me.

100 reviews on

I don't know why I'm so excited (maybe I like milestone numbers), but I just reached 100 reviews on (and the book is still a 4+)

I am dancing tonight with glee.  Every little step of this journey makes it feel more real and is worth celebrating.  After beginning to think that my book would never be read by anyone outside of my family and a handfull of's out there being read.

What is more incredible for any writer than knowing that your story is being read and enjoyed?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Ok, my first royalty check will be pretty amazing, too.  But for now it's enough just knowing that I can write the type of story I've always enjoyed reading.

Thank you 100 reviewers!  I'm so happy I could laugh and cry at the same time!

Numbers Numbers Numbers

I recently spoke to an author who said her favorite part of my blog was that I share my numbers.   So, here are the most recent download averages.  

Amazon US...I average between 1 -2,000 downloads a day.  As time goes on, it's closer to 1,000.  But that seems to be the number that it required to stay on top of the FREE Bestsellers list.  When I was at #1....I had more than 2,000 a day.  When I sit around's at about 1,300 a day.  When I'm in the low teens I'm usually at 1,000.  Mondays and Tuesdays the numbers dip.  Wednesday - Sunday they fluctuate.  You'd think that the best day would be the weekends but sometimes it's actually Thursday night.  I've been fortunate to have not left the top 20 since my book went FREE at the end of May.  Staying visible is a huge help in promotion.

Amazon UK ..... I have 100 - 500 downloads a day.  Usually closer to 100.  I'm off of page one of their ranking. I'm #14 in the contemporary.   When I was higher in the UK, my numbers were never that amazing.  They never compared to the # in the US.  What that tells me is that the books sitting at the top of the FREE UK list might not be pulling in huge numbers either.

Smashwords....  my total is close to 8,000 since April 21 of this year.  I think I average between 50 - 75 a day.  They aren't huge numbers anymore.  However, the exposure I've gotten I credit Smashwords.  They put my book in a large number of places and on all sorts of lists.  When I put my second book up for money I'm definitely using Smashwords again.  They have been very good to me.

Barnes and Nobel ....never put my book FREE....and my numbers have always been very low there.  At .99 cents a download, I average 1 book every two days.  Compare that to the 100 I had downloading a day at the same  price on Amazon before they made my book FREE.  At last check, my count for the month was 14 sales for July. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maid for the Billionaire continues to rank high on Amazon

Just a quick note.  Maid for the Billionaire has been on the top 20 on Amaazon's Free list for almost two months now.  Ever since it went FREE.  It hit #1....went down to 6 for a long time....dipped to 13 recently...and now seems to be headed back up to 5-6.  I am thrilled.  I hope it stays there until I can get book 2 out.  Thank you to everyone who downloade it and gave this new author a chance.  I am so grateful for this experience.

Oh, the things I know and don't know

I met some incredible people at a writer's tea today and learned so many things.  

  • Create space on Amazon is worth looking into.  You can get a hard copy of your book in trade book size.  Apparently people don't mind spending more for this.  I thought it would be weird if I have Book 1 up for FREE and then charge for the hard copy, but a publisher said it wasn't odd at all.
  • I learned that even though I went through Smashwords, I don't have an ISBN....or learning about ISBNs is definitely something I need to look into further.  It doesn't matter so much for what I've done so far, but it will matter as I move forward.
  • I learned that you can sell different rights to your book.  For example, I can sell just the audio rights to Maid for the Billionaire.  I had no idea.  I can sell international rights.  
  • I learned that you can talk to a publisher for a long time before anyone clues you in that you're not talking to a fellow
  • I learned more about Twitter....the mysterious world of Twitter.
  • I heard about this site you can buy ready made covers for reasonable prices...
It's late so I'll share more tomorrow....but great day full of helpful self-publishing information.

Monday, July 18, 2011

120,000 downloads and writing

I haven't been updating my blog as frequently because I'm furiously working on book 2.  Thank God I have family to help with my one year old.  I write on the weekdays from 8-3.  At 3:00, regardless of how great the writing is going -- I stop.  It has been working out well.  I get a nice chunk of uninterrupted time and still have plenty of time to play outside with my family afterwards.  The weekends are all about family and friends.   I could probably finish faster if I made sacrifices, but balance is important to me. I have three children who need as much as I need to write.

Although I love my job, I'm not looking forward to going back to it in September because my writing time will drop to an hour or two a day....and become 5-7am out of necessity.  Hard to feel the romance at those

Amazon downloads are still over 1,000 a day.  I'm at about 120,000 downloads total (B&N, Amazon, Smashwords)  since April 21, 2011.

The scariest part of self-pubbing is also one of the best parts....Book 2 is being designed entirely by me.  I don't have an editor telling me to add here or take away that.

Sometimes that is

Then I remind myself that all I can do is write the best book I know how to, to write a story that I would like to read, and to pray it finds readers who enjoy the same type of over the top romances I do.
So, I'm still doing some promotion, but not as much.  I'll start it up again when I finish Book 2.

I am, however, helping to promote other writers I come across.  I have a new appreciation for how much a little boost helps.

So, if you're reading this and would like me to mention you, send me an email at and I'll do my best to get to it in a timely manner :) 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Self-pubbing questions

I recently met with some traditionally published writers who had questions about the whole Smashwords, Kindle, B & Nobel.  Before you read these answers, remember that I'm new to all of this.  Most of the information can be found by reading over each site's small print.

Question 1:  Does Smashwords take a cut of what you make on Amazon?

I would think they do since when you publish to Smashwords there is an option of having them post your work on Amazon.  You can get around this by choosing where you want Smashwords to publish your work.  I said no to both Amazon and B & N because I had heard that there were formatting issues.  Is that true?  I don't know, but I am glad that I put it up myself.  My profit from Amazon will be only my profit.  Now Barnes and Nobel never went anywhere for me.  I think I get 30 downloads a month if I'm lucky.  Maybe I should have gone through Smashwords for them.  Smashwords does a lot to promote your book with its affiliation programs.

Question 2:  Do you need to hire an editor?

I didn't, but then I'm a mother of three and Maid for the Billionaire was my first venture into publication.  It had been read by several editors so I had a pretty good idea of where my writing was.  That said, I am still finding little things that I missed and formatting is TOUGH.  If you can find a reasonably priced place that will do both for you, I'd jump at it.  It's worth it to have a polished product.  You don't want typos or formatting issues to turn people away from a good story. 

Question 3:  Can you make your own cover?

If you've read my blog at all -- you know that this is still a question for me.  There are beautiful covers sitting at the bottom of the ranking list.  There are simple covers up and down the numbers.  I'm considering paying for my next cover.  Will it make a difference?  We'll see.

Question 4:  How do make your book FREE on Amazon?

If you do a search, there are several authors who have all kinds of plans for how to do it.  Simply put, if it is free somewhere else it will likely go FREE on Amazon.  I used Smashwords as my FREE publication site and it worked out well for me.  That  said, I hear it doesn't always work and there was some debate whether it is changed by computer or a more subjective human force.  I honestly don't know.  Try something and if it doesn't more articles and try again.  It took almost a month for Maid for the Billionaire to be FREE.

Question 5:  How long should your book be FREE before you charge?

There are as many answers to this as there are authors self-publishing.  I've seen people using all sorts of strategies.  I would look at what your goal is and work backwards from that.  I'm a new author.  I like to think that I have a strong story which is only the beginning of what I hope is a good trilogy.  I probably won't ever change the price on Maid for the Billionaire.  New people are buying Kindles everyday.  They want FREE books.  Leaving MFB FREE allows me to constantly find new readers.  I've been lucky that book 1 was well received and has stayed high on the FREE ranking.  I'm writing like crazy to get Book 2 done for the end of August to take advantage of the interest in my series.  I'm not making any money now (although I did make almost $800 before it went FREE), but if I sell Book 2 for $1.99....I'll get 35% of the profit.  And then it's all about praying that a good percentage of those who downloaded book 1 will come back and buy book 2.  I really don't have much control over that, outside of promoting and doing my best to make my second book as good as the first one. 

Question 6:  What would you do if a traditional publishing house offered you money for the series now?

A bird in the hand?  I don't know.  There is a certain freedom that comes from knowing that I can write Book 2 the way I want it to be written and that it will be judged not by one woman, but by the readers.  It's also scary.  I only have myself to pat on the back or blame at the end of the day.  And the rewards?  From what I hear, Mills and Boon (my dream publisher) would have given me somewhere between $7-17,000 dollars for the sale.  Amazon is a gamble.  Maybe I'll make nothing.  Maybe $1.99 will be too much for a new author to charge.  BUT if it isn't....if people liked book 1 enough to return and buy book 2....let's crunch numbers:  I'm at about 110,000 downloads.  Let's say half of those people buy book 2.  that's 55,000 people....which would be $38,500 dollars.  Quite a difference.  Is it any wonder that JK Rowlings decided to self-publish?  The percent of profit goes up as your price does.  The type of book I write probably sells best under $2....but I've seen plenty of books priced pretty high.  Those books get (I think) 70% profit.  No, I'm not sure I would take a contract right now.  Not yet.  Not until I see how I do on my own.

If you  have any questions about the process, I'll answer them the best I can.  I am by far not an expert, but I do believe in the motto "When we work together, we all do better." 

Too many years of teaching Kindergarten? lol  Maybe.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Isn't it wonderful?

I still can't believe that I met (and am now exceeding) 100,000 download on Maid for the Billionaire.  It's truly a dream come true.  The most amazing part?  When people write to me about what they enjoyed about the book and I see that THEY GOT IT.

I think of a good category romance like a roller coaster....and as a reader I'm drawn to certain types of books because they have the turns and the flips I like.  I like knowing that nothing too bad is going to happen.  I enjoy the crazy situations the characters find themselves in, the huge fight that makes it seem like they could never get back together, and I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

I still get emails and reviews that inform me of how completely unrealistic my story is.  I laugh with glee and think to myself, I KNOW, ISN'T IT WONDERFUL?

As I revise and deepen Nicole and Stephan's book,  I hope their story finds the same acceptance.   I'd love to be here again after the August release of For Love or Legacy, announcing the same reader reaction to my second book.

On that note, back to the computer for me.....back to New York where Stephan is still being a stinker and Nicole is not going to be very happy when she finds out what he has been up to.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this journey.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the kind words.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What a thrill

What a thrill to find my book on the same page as authors I have known and admired for so long.  Makes the dream seem just a little more possible.

Now it's just hard work, determination, and a lot of writing! 

A good review

Maid for the Billionaire was just reviewed by Romantic Love Books:

I'll just show you the PROS....for the CONS you can visit the link

"Pros: This book is awesome — by far the best self-published book I’ve read to date. It’s fast paced, the characters are developed, it has a hint of mystery and suspense, and it’s well written. It’s free and clear of the majority of grammatical mistakes and misspellings common in self-published books, and it’s written at a professional level. It doesn’t read like a self-pub at all."

I am absolutely thrilled that Kristen liked my book.  When Maid for the Billionaire was turned down repeatedly by traditional publishing houses I was seriously beginning to doubt my ability to write.  I had been told that readers wouldn't like Dominic.  I had been told that Dominic was too weak of an alpha.  I like my alpha heros a bit more human than most, I guess.  I don't mind the baggage as long as they have a heart of gold.

I didn't want to change Dominic and I'm glad I trusted my instincts and didn't.  

My next hero is very different than Dominic --- and I hope he will be as well received.  He's also not your typical alpha hero.  

Thanks again, Kristen, for the nice review.