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Self-Publishing Master Class

learning, selfpublishing, kindle unlimited,I had to count on my fingers, but it’s about six months since I started self-publishing. It has been a steep learning curve. It’s been wonderful! Maybe not for sales of my books (boo!), but for learning about the publishing industry. Your lessons, findings, conclusions, will vary, but here are mine:

You must be obsessed. Unless you’re one of the lucky few, getting your book in front of people is a huge and ongoing effort. Definitely not “set and forget”. Think of your audience, your promise to them, keywords, the craft of writing, editing, formatting, and promotion.

No matter how much you’ve learned, it’s all changing! Okay, I’m exaggerating. The principles of good storytelling stay the same, but seriously, look for opportunities. Things are changing fast in the publishing landscape and you want to leap into the spaces that open up which suit your writing style and life. For me, one of these options is Kindle Unlimited.

Readers are THE best people. Don’t forget why you’re writing.

Remember that you have allies. It can seem like a lonely profession, but in fact, self-publishing can bring you into contact with a whole range of enthusiastic people. Be one of them!

Everything you do has an opportunity cost. If you’re promoting a new release, you’re not writing. If you’re writing, you’re not interacting with your family. If you’re obsessively tracking sales … you’re like most newbie self-publishers :) It does wear off!

Don’t be paralysed by jargon. You do need a strategy, but it’s just an evolving roadmap. A marketing plan can be scribbled on the back of a shopping list. The important thing is to live the reality that you are in charge of your publishing future. Are you going to walk into it blindly or zoom along on a powered skateboard, your pink feather boa floating out behind you?

 

first kiss, sweet western romance, kindle unlimited,My latest release, First Kiss, is 99c on Amazon or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

 

 

Salvia Week

salvia

Prepare yourself for strange happenings in a Salvia Week. You’ll want to have your sense of humour alive and kicking because it’s a laugh-or-explode kind of time.

A dozen times this week you’ll think “did you see that?” or “can you believe…?”. People’s ability to freak you out or to be plain, paralysingly stupid, is on show for the next seven days.

But never mind everyone else! Be ready for you own bit of humiliation. You are not immune to the lure of irrationality in a Salvia Week.

So I guess there’s a life lesson lurking here: don’t get stuck being afraid of looking stupid because stupid will find you, anyhow.

Remember the court jester of the Middle Ages? The idea was that the oh-so-foolish one, the holy fool, was the only one brave and stupid enough to see and say the truth.

Life is crazy. Prepare to laugh (at yourself).

“First Kiss” is out & FREE!

kindle unlimited, sweet western romance,

My new sweet Western romance, First Kiss, is out! Whew. This was a wonderful story to write, but sometimes I think that the closer a story is to my heart, the more nervous I am about it. To celebrate its release, First Kiss is free for the weekend (20-22 March). I hope you enjoy it!

If you paint a man’s horse pink, be prepared to face the consequences!

Alissa McLeod wants Craig Murchison’s attention. She wants him to see her as a woman, and not as his best friend’s little sister. But when Craig ignores her prettiest dresses, her shy flirtation and her award-winning chocolate raspberry cake, then there’s only one thing for it—she’s going to have to turn this Texas cowboy’s world upside down until he realises the one thing he needs is right in front of him: her.

For fans of first kisses, sparkling romance, ex-soldier heroes, and shy women who find the courage to risk everything for the men they love.

“First Kiss” is a short story, a 45 minute read.

first kiss, sweet western romance, kindle unlimited,

 

 

 

Hydrangea Week

hydrangea

This is the week you’ll face a fork in the road. Walk carefully because sometimes we’re blind to the other path open to us.

Hydrangeas are spectacularly colourful, and the nifty thing about them is that if you change the acidity level of the soil they’re growing in, the colour of their flowers changes. One small act generates a major shift from blue to pink (or vice versa).

In an Hydrangea Week you’ll face at least one decision with significant ramifications. Think about the end result that you’re chasing. Do you want blue or pink flowers? to continue on the path you’re on or pursue a dream?

Happy Viola Week

violas

My Great-Aunt Nancy used to call violas Johnny-Jump-Ups. They’re wonderful little plants, tough and cheerful, and friendly. They’re like smiling pixie faces in the garden.

In a Viola Week the celebration is all about crowds. Personally, I’m not a fan of crowds. This could be because I’m short and claustrophobia kicks in ;) But crowds have their own energy and embracing it can give you a much-needed lift.

People coming together for a shared, positive purpose are life-affirming. There is often a cost associated with a crowd activity (discomfort that can be transport difficulties, trodden on toes, schedule clashes, individuals we dislike, etc), but the benefits are too often ignored. Being part of something bigger than ourselves is a great way to shake our preoccupations.

So, when you see a crowd (not a mob!) this week, don’t hurry in the other direction. Take a deep breath, work out why the crowd exists, and join in. Embrace its energy and contribute your own.

Comfrey Week

DSC03768

A Comfrey Week is going to leave you bruised — but healing. Soul bruises happen so often that we tend not to notice them. We say things like “I’m just a bit tired” or we raid the emergency stash of chocolate. But we should acknowledge that someone or something has hurt us. Then we can heal.

So this week, stop reaching for chocolate (oh, okay, have a little piece), and ask yourself why you need it. What’s hurt you?

Once you’ve assessed your bruise, then you can treat it. But Comfrey Weeks aren’t panaceas. Comfrey is a poison even if you can use it externally as a poultice or ointment. Just so, how we respond to the bruises on our souls can heal or destroy us.

Be careful, think through the consequences of your actions — and don’t be afraid to get professional help.

A Comfrey Week is a great time to start the healing process. Be gentle. Be careful. But remember, even the worst bruises do heal with time.

Amazon Keywords

wordsAmazon keywords are wonderful. Get them right, and readers searching for your type of book are served your book in their search results. Get them wrong, and your book may well languish, undiscovered, and hence, unread.

I have plenty of those books.

But I’m learning! The place to start is with Amazon’s own advice on choosing key words. Did you go off and read it? If you only have a few minutes, spend it on that link and not this post :)

Keywords are about targeting your book. Who are its intended readers and what are their expectations when they pick up your book and begin reading (what are they searching for)? Targeting is vital beyond ensuring that you’re meeting your promise to readers (and that your promise is clear) because it helps you align all your promotional efforts.

By promotional efforts I mean: title (keywords), blurb (keywords), cover (visually express keywords), teasers (graphics + text to express keywords), guest posts (keywords), etc. I think marketing experts would call it “staying on message”.

Keeping the purpose of keywords in mind helps in defining them — or it does for me. If I start thinking about the cover and realise that the sort of cover I have in mind wouldn’t work for the story, then I know something is off. Shift between visual and text scribbles if that works for you. Coming up with keywords takes me days.

There are tools that promise they can deliver you the keywords you need. Do they work? I don’t know. I haven’t tried them. I’ve become dubious about all the things marketed to authors as guaranteeing results. If you have tried the tools, and have found any helpful, I’d love you to share your experience in the comments on this post.

Keywords are about your characters, your tropes (e.g. second chance love), your subgenre and so on. They are about meeting the market. Your book is unique, but it must be discoverable! But there are readers for everything. You just have to think about how to reach them.

I could talk about this for ages because the thing I’ve discovered is that the idea of keywords is simple, but their effect is so powerful (they’re in everything, influencing everything), that how we think about them is unique to each author, and we have to find a description of their potential that resonates with us. Then we have that lightbulb moment and spring into action. So almost all of what I’m saying is old news to you and you’re bored, but then one aspect catches your attention and you’re engaged.

Keywords have to engage!

What hooks you when you’re browsing for books? that’s a keyword, even if visually expressed.

If you look at books similar to yours, you’ll get an idea of keywords from their titles, blurbs and from the lists they belong to on Amazon — and don’t forget researching the words reviewers use! Reviewers are smart!!

The lists I’m talking about are at the bottom of a book’s Amazon page. Dare, my paranormal romantic suspense collection is currently free (till Feb 25) which means it’s gotten enough downloads to show up on some lists.

top

That’s great. But mostly my books aren’t ranking high on lists. Still you can see what categories Amazon has shuffled it into (based on my keywords) by scrolling right down to the bottom of the book’s page and finding these:

lists
These lists reassure me when my books go live that I’ve gotten my keywords pretty much as I wanted them — in this case, paranormal romance and the various characters or story types that people might search for, and which I deliver.

You can tell I’m not an expert, so please point out my flaws, share your experience, and if you dare, ask me questions!