Raising the Curtain. Author Secrets Revealed

So, with that promising title, “Raising the Curtain. Author Secrets Revealed”, just what secrets will I share with you?

For a start, I’m going to talk about author newsletters and what we (authors) have been obsessing over for the last few months: cross-promotion.

Then I’m going to answer the perennial question of where we get our inspiration.

Finally, I want to talk about the emotional cost of publishing a book.

Cross-Promotion

In the last few years, there’s been a massive increase in the number of authors independently publishing their books. On the one hand, advances in digital publishing and marketplaces such as Amazon have made it ever easier to independently publish. On the other hand, traditional publishers either shed or provided limited support to many of their midlist authors (people whose books seldom hit bestseller lists, but who sold enough to live on their royalties, and had devoted fans). There were other factors, too, in the decision of popular authors to publish independently: contract negotiations breaking down, editorial conflict, the freedom to write what they wanted, and timeliness (with traditional publishing it can be two years or more from submitting your book to seeing it published).

For me, the appeal of independent publishing is the ability to write what I want, price it as I want, and generally indulge my control freak tendencies. I have final say on everything from covers to afterwords.

But one of the consequences of this explosion in independent publishing is an absolute avalanche of new books. The challenge for authors (both traditional and independent) is to get their books in front of readers.

A few years back, blog tours were big. These have faded. Then came promotional newsletters like BookBub, which is still huge, although many of its competitors are losing ground (in the sense that advertising a book with them nets less and less sales). Filling that space are authors’ own newsletters – and this is where cross-promotion comes in.

Many authors now have newsletter subscriber lists well in excess of 10,000 readers. (My list is a teensy fraction of that). These lists have become valuable capital for authors. They swap space in their newsletters along the lines of “if you feature my book on this date, I’ll feature your book on that date”. Sometimes it’s even possible for smaller authors to pay to have their book featured in a bigger author’s newsletter. You’ll notice the effect of this tactic particularly when an author has a new release and they’re pushing it everywhere.

The other way newsletters are used in cross-promotion is when a big sale or giveaway involving multiple authors runs and one of the conditions for participating in it for the author is to feature the promotion in their newsletter.

I guess by now you’ve realised how often my newsletter has included cross-promotional activities. Trust me, it is stressful to organise such things. First and foremost, I don’t want to bore you with relentless promotion. There’s also my personal fear that one day I’ll forget a book I’ve promised to share with you and the author I promised will be rightly annoyed.

While I salute the authors that are making this style of cross-promotion work for them and their readers, I’ve tried it long enough now to know it’s not for me. My newsletter subscriber list is too small to get me into the bigger, more effective cross-promotional activities, and the smaller efforts don’t generate enough sales to justify the effort. So once I’ve cleared the handful of cross-promotional promises I’ve made and which are still outstanding, you will find significantly fewer book and event announcements in this newsletter.

Afterthought: Box sets and anthologies are another cross-promotional tool that some authors find hugely successful, and which just stress me. (As I write this post, I’m getting the idea that I’m not a team player … hmm).

Sourcing Inspiration

Inspiration, the magic that generates a plot idea and then keeps it moving, comes from two places.

The first is curiosity. Every new experience provides the opportunity to ask “why?”. Inspiration for a novel takes that “why?” and turns it into “what if?”. Once you have an idea strong enough to handle a battering of “what if” challenges, you have the basis for a plot.

But what happens when the plot hits a wall? What if 😉 you’ve written yourself into a blind alley?

Then the second secret of sourcing inspiration kicks in: relentlessness.

Inspiration requires persisting at a project. You might get a hundred rotten ideas before the perfect one materialises. When it does, it feels like magic, and often authors forget just how long and hard they fought to reach it. Inspiration is hard work.

The Emotional Cost of Being an Author

Publishing a book is a leap of faith. Heck, writing the book is! Each time you sit down with a blank page you have to squash the toadstools of doubt that mock you with the threat that this time no one will want to read what you’re writing. Or they’ll read it and hate it. Or perhaps, even more scary, they’ll be disappointed. Hating a book is at least a strong emotion. Books that fall flat are my real fear.

And this is partly why authors indulge in a frenzy of cross-promotion and other marketing efforts. Yes, we need the money from royalties (living on fresh air is not actually possible, sadly), but we are also fighting demons of doubt. Sales and good reviews help to muffle those doubts. They help us to keep writing.

Thank you for your support!

 

Demon Hunter

Phoenix Blood

Her Robot Wolf

It’s the Meaning of Life! 42

I haven’t actually read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, but I know from pop culture that 42 is the meaning of life – and having recently reached that auspicious age, I’m waiting to see how it plays out. What meaningful things will happen this year?

Random photo! So not beach weather – I didn’t even get out of the car!

My nana was fascinated by astrology, clairvoyance and similar things, so I grew up with such discussions and access to those kind of books. I’m not sure if anyone is old enough to remember the psychic Jeane Dixon? My nana had at least one of her books, as well as things about Nostradamus, crystals, etc.

Who would have believed that all those things would swirl around in my head and thirty years later, emerge as the raw material for paranormal romance novels?

My nana was Polish, one of World War II’s displaced people, and I wonder how much predictions and astrology gave her a needed sense of control? When the world feels crazily unstable, we search for meaning and surety.

So although I won’t be searching for meaning by consulting astrology (I’m a Cancerian and a rabbit) I accept that people do. Everyone has their own ways of coping. I guess I make up a fictional world and escape into it – and call it work!

New Release

Demon Hero by Jae Vogel is just out. I’m always on the look out for new books and authors in Kindle Unlimited.

What if your whole life has been a lie?

Cora’s Hollow is under threat of social disruption. The signs are written all over the buildings and the faces of its people.

The Fae have been pushed into hiding. Fear of magic has been the strongest propaganda tool offered by the human government. Whether or not the people believe is of little importance. A divided public is the easiest public to control.

Follow the story of a Freedom Fighter, a Bartender, and a Veteran as they discover their love for one another and fight against the endemic social war with little hope to survive.

DEMON HERO is a standalone contribution to the Charmed Legacy Dark Fae Hollows collection. Stories can be read in any order.

To learn more, visit CharmedLegacy.com

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For a limited time, additional Urban Fantasy novels are included in this ebook. 

Buy/borrow link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073NKVRWC  

Coming Soon

Marked by Fate: Defined by Their Choices is an anthology of young adult science fiction and fantasy. The cover really caught my eye, and it says it’s at a special pre-order price of 99c. Bargain!

A collection of 25 Fantasy and Science Fiction YA coming of age novels from New York Times, USA Today, International, Amazon bestselling and Award-Winning authors!!

 This action-packed boxset is filled with teen warriors who encounter shadows, queens, witches, wizards, werewolves, and shifters. Sometimes these young adults partner with immortals, angels, vampires, demons, and gods. And with occasionally genetically engineered soldiers, cyborgs, and robots as they discover magical hidden fantasy worlds, encounter mind-blowing dystopian lands, space stations, and galaxies they could never have dreamed existed. Marked by Fate to complete these deadly and dangerous quests filled with nonstop action and adventure!

Releases October 23

Preorder link: https://www.amazon.com/Marked-Fate-Origins-Exclusive-Collection-ebook/dp/B072KFCWCT/  

B&N:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/marked-by-fate-kristin-d-van-risseghem/1126655058

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/marked-by-fate-1

IBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1229491448

Kindle Unlimited Discoveries

I’ve never heard of a tattoo magician. Stolen Ink by Holly Evans is the first in a series in Kindle Unlimited. It sounds good – and the cover looks great.

I’ve never had a tattoo. I’m the kind of person who gets bored with, then annoyed by, the same old thing, so a tattoo would drive me insane. That said, I have been inside a tattoo parlour and it’s hard to forget the sound of the needle. Ouchies! A magical tattoo, one that you could change with a thought, would be great 🙂

Free in July – Instafreebie

I saw this on Facebook, so I’m sharing here. Free Fantasy novels in July at Instafreebie – the site emails you the book and you email it to your kindle (or other e-reader) to read it.

Writing Update

Desert Devil has taken longer than I hoped to write. This isn’t a bad thing. It means the characters took the story and charged, and I had to wrangle events so that everything made sense. But the result is high energy and fast, so that’s cool. It should still release in August.

Meantime, I have so many ideas for Stargirl & Her Wolf, the sequel to Her Robot Wolf that it’s a good thing Jaya is such a strong character. She’s going to have to be! (Does that sound ominous? Lots of adventures!)

And, meantime another character is pushing for their story in the wilds of the galaxy, so I really need to get writing!

Huge Book Sale & Dreaming of Home Reno

This newsletter includes home renovation and house dreaming, a book sale you don’t want to miss, and huge news about the next adventures of Vulf and Jaya (from Her Robot Wolf).

Home Renovation – It’s Easier in Fiction

I love, love, love looking at houses online, and I can justify the time lost to this fascination! The houses provide inspiration for my writing. I mish and mash their ideas to accommodate my characters. See? Justified! Totally 😉

A friend put me onto Old House Dreams. I think Queen Anne houses are my favourite American style. Here in Australia, I love Federation houses. You can see the similarities.

I’ve been watching a few home renovation shows on TV recently, which prompted the idea for this post. In particular, I was watching a guy struggle to strip paint/varnish from a mantelpiece, and it reminded me that although the thought of renovating in real life is hideous (ack! the stress, the disruption, the dirt, the knowledge that something ALWAYS goes wrong and costs more), I do have some DIY skills (yeah, that memory surprised me, too). For instance, I can strip paint – and wallpaper. LOL I’m a stripper 😉

It’s interesting to think back and realise how many skills we accumulate through life, and then, forget about!

These days I much prefer to indulge my ideas for awesome interior design the fictional way – I inflict … uh, gift … it to my characters.

Do you enjoy home renovation or have any disaster stories? And what is your favourite style of house?

Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Sale, July 1-2. 99c novels

Over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels are 99c this weekend. Go wild! Link: http://pattyjansen.com/promo/ 

Her Robot Wolf, Where to from Here?

If you’ve read Her Robot Wolf, you’ll know from its afterword that the timing of the sequel is very much dependent on readers’ reception of it. Fortunately, with over 20 great reviews in its first month, I can justify juggling my writing schedule to fit in the sequel this year! (and if you’re wondering why I’ve been quiet lately, it’s all the work and thinking of all the work I’ve committed too. Ugh. Over-whelming – but fun!).

So … *drum roll* I’m aiming to release Stargirl & Her Wolf in September. That’s insanely ambitious, so the date may slip to October. But I enjoy Jaya and Vulf’s adventures so much that I might actually gain some time as the writing happens faster than I’ve allowed for in the schedule. I’m allowing for winter flu and life emergencies because we all know that as soon as you don’t, they happen!

I don’t have a blurb, but I can tell you that you’ll be visiting the pirate planet of Corsairs and I really, really want to stroll through the Star Guild Shaman Academy, so we’ll be going there, too.

 

 

Speculative Fiction Romance Sale

For fantasy, paranormal romance and science fiction fans, there’s a Speculative Fiction Romance 99c Special on till June 30. Some fabulous books!

For those of you wondering if I’m ever going to have a proper newsletter again or if it’s all book promo – yes!

I’m just flat out at the moment, but I have a chattier newsletter in the works.

I hope you’ve been reading some great books while I’ve been head down, writing Desert Devil. The hero insisted on rejoining his old combat courier unit, and I’ve been wrestling with more characters than normal – leaving me with little brain space for newsletter writing. It’s a wonder I haven’t replied to questions of whether I’d like a cuppa with “the pendant! who has the freakin’ pendant? Aarrghhh, the demon is here!”

Catch you soon 😉