Countdown to RWA — Pitching

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Happy Monday!

With the craziness of packing, etc… this post got away from me! But I still want you all to be prepared. Here is my Top 10 list for pitching at a conference.

TEN: Have a one line hook/pitch ready. Could be a sentence or a question, but gives the idea of the book.

Example:

A Highland warrior steals the intended of an English noble only to fall in love. — THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD

Gabrielle thought sleeping with her brother’s best friend in college was a colossal mistake–until he becomes her rebound and shows her what real love is. — THE REBOUND PACT

What happens when an emotionally damaged woman travels back in time, into the arms of a dangerous, sensual Highland warrior, who challenges her to let go of her inhibitions? — BEHIND THE PLAID

NINE: Memorize your one line pitch.

EIGHT: On an index card, write down your title, one-liner, and your blurb. Carry this with you everywhere. You never know when an editor at a bar or in the hallway might ask for your pitch.

SEVEN: Be prepared to take 5 minutes to talk about your book and your characters. Why is it unique? Why should they bother paying for it? Make sure your pitch shows this.

SIX: Practice your pitch with friends. It helps to actually talk it out with someone else, rather than just what’s on the page.

FIVE: Don’t offer them your printed manuscript!

FOUR: Prepare some questions for the agent/editor you’re pitching to. Show that you are interested, and that you’ve done your homework. Make sure they acquire what you are pitching

THREE: Be prepared with a second pitch! They may ask for another book!

TWO: Take a deep breath and relax. They are people, too.

ONE: When you’re finished, don’t ruminate on anything you think was a mistake to say, or what could have gone wrong. Pitching is hard, but they are used to people being nervous. Don’t beat yourself up. Revel in the fact that you did it! Go chat with your friends!

Countdown to RWA — Your Budget

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Ornament-Dollar-Bill-HeartGood morning and Happy Friday! Hope you have some fun things planned for this weekend. We will be doing a bit of unpacking, family coming into town AND I’m going to be sneaking in some time to pack a little for Nationals next week! AH! It’s coming quickly! If you haven’t tuned in already, I’ve written a couple posts in preparation for the conference (links below), and today I’m going to talk about the your budget — cash to have on hand.

Your Agenda

What to Bring and What NOT to Bring

  • Taxi/Public Transit — Make sure you have cash on hand for your ride to/from the airport (plus tip if needed). I’ve heard from some it can be as little as $5 for the public transit (each way) and $35 or so for the taxi each way. If you can, try to double/triple up on the taxi ride! When you get to the airport, you’re bound to run into other romance authors, its odd, how we recognize faces from Facebook even if we’ve never met. Offer to ride together to the hotel.
  • Food — there are some meals provided, but not EVERY meal is provided. I always bring granola bars, nuts, and things like that to snack on for breakfast or during the day when I’m hungry. But be sure to have cash on hand for morning coffee (unless you use the coffee provided in your room), lunch, dinner. Breakfast will be served on Thursday/Friday. Lunch on Thursday/Friday will be served. Coffee on Saturday. Looks like no lunch. Dinners will be on your own (used to be a dinner during the RITA awards, but its not looking that way this year). Sunday you are on your own for all meals. Try to go offsite to eat — not only will it be less expensive, but you’ll get a chance to see some of the town.
  • Drinks — It may seem odd to include this in your budget, but even if you drink tea at the bar, you will most likely find yourself there. The bar is an area where everyone seems to converge and hang out. You can meet up with old friends, meet new friends and network.
  • Sight-seeing — If you plan to do any, look ahead at costs. Make sure to figure in transportation, tickets, etc…
  • Books — Not only do I always buy books at the literacy signing, but I also make my way into the bookstore that is set up. They always have a great selection of craft/research books.
  • Hotel incidentals — you will no doubt have your budget already set aside for your hotel, but make sure to save a bit for incidentals, ie, internet, room service (if you end up getting it), hotel taxes and fees.
  • Gift shop — I also tend to find myself in here for small gifts for those at home, but late night chocolate too 🙂
  • Chapter events — a lot of chapters hold parties that you have to pay for to attend. Check on these prices/parties now so you can either pre-pay or have the cash to pay when/if you go.
  • This item is a luxery… I forgot to check-in to my flight and got like the last spot on the plane. I had enough to upgrade to business class at the airport that morning. Not something I do every time, but something I will keep in mind.

That’s about it for what I usually run into. Remember there are always ways to save — splitting meals, bringing snacks, sharing your room, buying only a certain number of books, banning yourself from the gift shop, having only one/no drinks in the evening.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on pitching.

Cheers!
Eliza

Countdown to RWA: Your Agenda

Yesterday, I wrote briefly about what to bring and what not to bring. Today I’m talking about preparing your agenda. Before arriving at RWA Nationals, its always good to have an agenda written — even if it’s loosely written. Once you arrive, it can get very chaotic, overwhelming and busy. Imagine 2000 excited women converging in one spot–loud, lol. If you had workshops you wanted to attend, gatherings, friends to meet, etc… you don’t want them to get lost in the void of chattering, laughing, and whooping.

The first time I went to an RWA conference, I was 7 months pregnant and had just returned from Disney World. I was not prepared, and I was OVERWHELMED. Ever since then, I always make sure to have a loosely written schedule.

RWA.org, even has an agenda builder on it now to help you.

Here is a list of scheduled events: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=560

Here is the list of workshops: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=562 (also the link for the agenda builder.

In case you were wondering… I will be presenting at RWA! Along with Laura Kaye and Stephanie Draven, we’ll be presenting: How to Tackle Taboos in Erotic Romance (CRAFT). I will also be moderating: Focus on Nook Press (SELF-PUBLISHING). If you are a PRO member and attending the PRO Retreat, you may see me there as well–I am being awarded as PRO Mentor of the Year 🙂

In addition to marking workshops, events you want to attend, check in with your local chapters to see if they will be holding any get-togethers. Email writing friends who are going to see if they want to meet for a meal/coffee/wine.

Don’t forget to schedule in some down time. Whether you need it for a nap, for writing, for calling home, make sure you don’t forget to take it. I usually come back from a conference needing a vacation! Exhilarating, inspiring, exciting as it is, conference can also be quite exhausting.

I am an early to bed person, early to rise… Yet, my husband always teases me because at conference I may not be in bed until 3am…

If you see me, make sure to stop and say hi!

Come back tomorrow for talk on budgeting… You don’t have to spend too much to have a great conference!

Self-Pubblishing Interview Series with Laura Kaye

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Today I’d like to welcome my good friend and fellow chapter mate, Laura Kaye! A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Laura writes in several genres with both small and large presses. She’s ventured into the world of self-publishing and has agreed to answer my questions about her experience. Thanks, Laura!

PUBLISHING QUESTIONS…

  • What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?

When the opportunity arose to get my rights back on two books with a small press, I knew it was the right time to dip my toes into self-publishing. So I started with two backlist titles as a way of easing into it. Both books, Hearts in Darkness and Forever Freed, are available as ebooks and print books.

  • What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from someone, could you share who?

Since these were backlist titles, I didn’t have to worry about hiring editors this time around. However, I did go through both manuscripts and do some minor editing of my own. Amazing how our writing changes over the course of even a few years! I hired cover designers to create professional covers for me—for Hearts in Darkness, I hired Tricia Pickyme Schmitt, who designed the original cover for the small publisher; and for Forever Freed, I hired Hot Damn Designs. Both did a phenomenal job on the covers and that step was easy. I also hired Hot Damn to do all my ebook formatting and they really walked me through the process of acquiring ISBNs, the quirks of uploading to the various sites, etc.

HeartsinDarkness_smallerHearts in Darkness was my first self-publishing experiment, and I was surprised by how time consuming the steps could be. But there’s no denying how exciting it was to see it go live!

  • What did you do to promote your work?

A variety of things. Both books were well established before, but I still did major cover reveals, got my street team involved in shouting them out, featured them in blog hops and other blogging opportunities, and took out some advertisements, too. I didn’t do full blog tours since they were back list titles, but I do usually with new releases.

  • What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?

Easiest was working with cover artist and getting great covers I love! And I adore the control over that process! Hardest was figuring out everything I needed to know and everything I didn’t know. I’m still not fully proficient, as evidenced by the fact that I’m paying someone to do my formatting, which more experienced self-publishers often do themselves. But I’m figuring out a little at a time so that by the time I can release fully new books, I’ll have a better handle on the whole process.

  • Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?

The pros in my opinion are the control you have over the whole process, how quickly you can release a book, and the greater royalty rates you can receive. I think it’s also important that you can decide whether to also offer a book in print. Hearts in Darkness is a 30,000-word novella, and that’s not the kind of thing most publishers would take to print, but I can offer it as a self-publisher.

The cons in my opinion include the time investment required to do the business side of things, the lack of publisher support for promotion (which varies from publishers, of course, but there’s no one even built in to retweet or share my twitter or facebook posts, for example…), and finding a readership on your won. I think the latter is less challenging if you’re established, but it’s still a consideration.

  • How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?

Hearts in Darkness has been out for 5 weeks and Forever Freed just re-released. I currently have 13 books for sale or pre-order, and I definitely have had the experience of the sales bump with each new release. I saw it when I re-released Hearts in Darkness, too. Backlist is king.

  • Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?

I have a short time line, and only sales to report on Hearts in Darkness so far. But, I’m selling 500 a month on Amazon, 100 a month on B&N, 100 a month on Apple, and 25 on Kobo.  I’d recouped my up-front costs, which were mostly the cover and the purchasing of ISBN numbers, in the first few weeks.

  • What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?

Do it right and be professional. Hire editors, professional cover designers, formatters. No one should be able to look at the inside or outside of your book and know it’s self-published.

LauraKaye_ForeverFreed_800pxREADER QUESTIONS…

  • What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?

I write in contemporary and paranormal romance and have 13 novels either out or up for pre-order. I have four series underway: Hearts of the Anemoi (South of Surrender most recently) , Vampire Warrior Kings (Taken by the Vampire King releases 8/1) , Heroes (2 out and 2 more coming in 2014), and Hard Ink (Hard As It Gets debuts this November!).

  • What do you love about the genre(s)?

I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid. I love the magic, the possibility that such things could be real, and the dark sexiness of paranormal stories. I also love contemporary stories because you could imagine them really happening and the characters being people you might actually know.

  • Where can readers find you?

I’m everywhere! LOL Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter SignUp

  • Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?

Hearts in Darkness is available on Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple

Forever Freed is available on Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple (coming soon)

  • What works do you have coming out in the future?

My next books aren’t self-published, but include Taken by the Vampire King (August 1), Hard As It Gets (November 26), and Hard As You Can (February 25)

  • Are you participating in any reader contests?

I’m almost always running a giveaway somewhere!  The best thing to do is keep an eye on my Facebook or Twitter!

  • There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?

I think there’s a range of quality among self-published books, with more and more high-quality books and established authors moving into self-publishing every day. You can find errors and weak stories published by publishers and self-publishers, so problems aren’t isolated to the self-pubbed. But I think self-published authors need to know they’re working against that reputation and need to do everything they can not to contribute to it.

  • What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?

The New Adult books have really taken self-publishing by storm! And though many of them have been picked up by self-publishers, I’d still recommend Wait for You by J. Lynn, Easy by Tammara Webber, and Monica Murphy’s One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.  I’d also recommend books by self-published authors Eliza Knight (ahem!), Marie Force, Katie Reus, Laurie London, and Laura Wright, among others!

Thanks so much for having me here!

Thank you for being here, Laura! And for the shout-out *winks*. If you’re looking for an emotional, evocative, adventure, please download Laura’s books! She is amazing!

Countdown to RWA Nationals!

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ImageIf you’re like me… you might have just looked at the calendar and realized that in one week, you’d be in Atlanta at RWA Nationals.

Yikes! Time to get ready!

I did at least already book my flight/hotel and arranged for babysitters for the kids… 

I really love going to Nationals. I missed it last year because of attending several other conferences, but this year, despite my conf load, I decided I had to go. There are many reasons I love nationals–networking, workshops, immersing myself in the world of romance, and seeing many of my friends who for the rest of the year are too far for visiting. Its five whirlwind days of excitement. I always leave pumped and ready to write and take the world by storm.

If this will be the first year you go, get ready for an awesome, inspiring time. The friends you make will be friends for life. My very first roommates at Nationals are still my friends–and I just went to Scotland with one of them too!

Sooo…I’m going to put up a daily posts until the morning that I leave, regarding preparing for Nationals–and I will give daily updates while I’m there via Twitter/Facebook, and I will try to post here as well at least once or twice.

Today’s post is about what to bring and what not to bring…

DO Bring:

  • Comfortable but nice clothes–business casual–for workshops and panels. A nice dress (or suit) for the RITA awards. If you’re attending any publisher/agent/chapter gatherings, make sure you find out what the attire is, so you can have the appropriate outfit.
  • Shoes. Its a right of passage. Hot shoes are a must.
  • Flip-flops or sneakers for when the hot shoes kill your feet 🙂
  • Travel sized toiletries. If you have roommates…the bathroom might get crazy.
  • Hangars. With 2-4 women in a room, I guarantee the hangars will disappear.
  • A sweater. Conf rooms are cold.
  • Advil/Tylenol/Allergy meds, etc… 
  • Mini-pack of tissues, chapstick, gum
  • Notepad/pen
  • Laptop — if you plan on blogging, writing, etc…
  • Cash. It is easier to pay a bar tab with cash. Remember to keep your receipts for meals, because you can write them off. (Alcohol can not be written off.)
  • Your agenda (will post about how to make one tomorrow).
  • Reservation print-outs
  • ID cards 
  • A credit card (for hotel, purchases, emergencies)
  • A budget (will talk more about this as well in a later post!)
  • Cellphone numbers (and your cell!) of those you plan to meet up with.
  • Snacks — I always pack granola bars and nuts, sometimes it gets too crazy to grab a meal.

DON’T Bring:

  • A printed out copy of your manuscript — too cumbersome, and if an agent/editor requests your manuscript, you can always email it to them. They won’t want the printout on site.
  • Books to read — there will be so many books to read that are given away for free… so so many…
  • A bad attitude. This is a fun place with lots of camaraderie. Enjoy it!

So, tell me, are you going? Are you excited? 

Stay tuned! Daily posts on your agenda, budgeting at Nationals, pitching, networking, etc…

Self-Published Interview Series with Mary Tate Engels

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silverEaringsHappy Monday! Welcome back to another week in the self-publishing interview series! This week’s interview is with romance writer Mary Tate Engels. Enjoy!

PUBLISHING QUESTIONS…

Thanks for inviting me, Liza. Since I’m published in both eBooks and print, I hope readers and writers will find inspiration and encouragement from my story.

  • What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on eBook or print only or both?

What do you have to lose?

In a roomful of writers, editors, and agents at the RWA Conference in 2010, a prominent agent was asked about the advisability of self-pubbing eBooks. At that time, the entire conference was denying any substantial change in the industry. The room grew deathly quiet when he said, “What do you have to lose?”

I had already obtained rights to my backlist from Dell and Harlequin but wasn’t sure what to do with them and how e-pubbing would affect my career. The question struck me – what, indeed, did I have to lose? I could take my books from the out-of-print shelf to selling again. That’s win-win for me!

I had met Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer and CJ Lyons and watched what they and others did to take charge of their careers. They didn’t lose a thing by e-pubbing. Other influencers have been from Marie Force and all of the member/writers of the self-ClairesEmbraceFINALpublishing loop. They keep me informed and encouraged.

  • What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from a someone, could you share who?

Game Change

For me, coming from the old school, agent-model, my learning curve has been huge. It started with accepting the changes in the industry, then my commitment to continue doing what I love – storytelling. So far, I’ve e-Pubbed 8 of my backlist – with 21 to go. The process began with scanning, then correcting and editing to update, then – cover designing! I studied how I want my name to appear and a few specific design elements, like the cat in my name and the zig-zags on my Southwestern books. My cover designer is http://www.digitaldonna.com and I love working with her. The other digital stuff is done by my husband and one of our techy sons.

  • What did you do to promote your work?

I feel that the best thing a writer can do is to write and produce a good book and another, so that has been my priority. I’m working on establishing my platform as a contemporary author writing about chasing dreams and finding love. I change my website landing page monthly and am considering a blog.

  • What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?

DarkEmbraceFINAL-1Promotion-Promotion-Promotion!

The most difficult – promotion. Most writers will agree. The most rewarding – creating each book the way I envisioned it from cover to character arcs and fulfilling story. That’s powerful!

  • Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?

Big Picture vs. Bottom Line

  • Perpetuity of my book vs. a shelf life determined by a sales force that doesn’t know me and is only looking at the bottom line.
  • Global sales vs. limited sales determined by publishing house distribution centered on their own bottom line.
  • Full control for the writing and publication of my books vs. full responsibility.  I like the control, perpetuity, and reaching readers globally. But it’s a lot of responsibility and hard work.

The reward of hearing from my readers, many in foreign countries, that my stories or characters touched them is my bottom line.

  • Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?

Sales, schmells!

At last count, I’ve sold over 15,000 books and 3 times as many on Amazon as on Smashwords. Foreign sales are picking up, which I find very exciting. And I always offer a book each month for 99-cents.

  • What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?

What do you have to lose?

Just this: Your reputation as writer.

Make a commitment to produce the best book possible. If you produce crap, even once, you risk losing readers. Give them a good story, entertain them, excite them, and inspire them.

  • Make sure your writing is stellar – hire an editor if necessary.
  • Craft your story the best it can be.
  • Ensure the formatting is correct so that you’re giving the reader the best quality in a book form that they’re accustomed to.

EmbraceableYouFINALREADER QUESTIONS…

  • What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?

Published in both fiction and non-fiction. Books are listed on my web site: www.marytateengels.com

I write Romantic Women’s Fiction – strong women chasing dreams and finding love.

I have 8 contemporary Western eBooks:

Speak to the Wind – currently 99 cents

A Rare Breed

Love’s Dawning

Callahan’s Gold

Rogue Diamond

Under the Desert Sky

Under the Desert moon

Coming soon: Irish Hearts trio: Claire’s Embrace, Dark Embrace, Embraceable You

Nonfiction Southwest History:

Tales from Wide Ruins, Jean & Bill Cousins, Traders;

Corazon Contento, Sonoran Recipes & Stories from the Heart

  • What do you love about the genre(s)?

What I love to read and write: Sexy romance, strong women, inspiring characters, amazing in spite of difficulties, exploring cultural differences, kickass adventure and travel, awesome and upbeat stories.

  • Where can readers find you?

My website http://www.marytateengels.com; on www.facebook/marytateengels.com ; Amazon for Kindle; www.smashwords.com for B & N’s Nook, Apple’s iBook, Kobo and all other readers. I offer a 99-cent special each month because I want my stories to be accessible to everyone.

  • Where can readers find your books? Print/eBook?

My eBooks are all listed on my website and all major eBook distributors. My landing page is a mini-newsletter giving info about my current activities, books, and travels. Also, you can e-mail me at www.marytate_engels@yahoo.com. I love hearing from my readers and will always answer.

  • What works do you have coming out in the future?

I am so excited about these three related books, all of which will be out by March.

Claire’s Embrace, a prequel set in the 1960’s, is Three Weddings and a Funeral meets Love Actually.

Dark Embrace, set in Ireland, is Sex, Lies, and Video Tape meets The Chieftains.

Embraceable You, set in a small Maine town, is LL Bean meets Victoria’s Secret.

  • There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that? 

All? No way! Some, maybe, but I believe the competition in the marketplace will take care of shoddy work.

  • What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?

Read what you like, who you like, and what resonates with you, no matter about the reviews. Just like determining whether to read a book off the shelf, go for the author who speaks to you. Or…

  • If a friend recommends an author, the book probably has merit;
  • If the author has more than one book out, chances are that author has developed experience and writing skills that rise above;
  • Many Indie authors have specials that introduce themselves to readers, so you can get a book or novella at a reduced rate.
  • Take a chance and discover a new author for yourself by reading the blurb and the author’s description of the book’s content.

Eliza, thanks for the guest spot and opportunity to talk about my passions, my books. I hope something I’ve said here inspires, encourages, and informs someone about following their dreams. Maybe it’s not writing, but art or crocheting or starting your own business. Commit, determine the process, and go for it. What do you have to lose? 

Lucky in Love Blog Hop!

Lucky in Love? Well, are you? It’s a time of luck and wealth…or not. With each romance we find ourselves in a new world of love and memories. Are these just by chance? Is it luck? Welcome to the second annual Lucky in Love Blog Hop where we want to hear about your love, your romance, and how much you love St. Patrick’s Day!!! Are you wearing green? Ready to get pinched…or wait…do you like that?

I’m an Irish girl, grew up searching for the pot of gold with my grandfather who promised me leprechauns were real. He’d sing me Irish ditties, and when I first visited Ireland, I was drawn to the land like I’d finally reached home. But you know, even with all that pot of gold chasing, I never felt lucky–I don’t WIN anything. Recently, though, I realized, I am lucky, maybe not with Bingo or the lottery, but I have a wonderful family and friends–and I’m lucky in love. I’ve been with my husband since I was a teenager and it seems our love only grows stronger with each passing day.

In my newest release–Behind the Plaid (Highland Bound Trilogy), Emma Gordon wasn’t so lucky in love. Her first husband is a tyrant, and she runs away from him while on holiday in Scotland. Lucky for her–she travels back in time and into the arms of Laird Logan Grant. *Fans self* He may well be one of the hottest heroes I’ve written yet…

He dominated her mind. She possessed his soul.

Emma Gordon escapes from a troubling marriage in which she’s completely lost sight of who she is. Desperate for independence, she leaves her husband while on a trip in the Scottish Highlands. Only thing is, she ends up hurled back in time to the 16th Century Castle Gealach and headlong into the arms of the handsome, intimidating Laird Logan Grant. Thrust into a world filled with treachery, danger and intensity she must summon the courage to find her way.

Logan is tormented by a dark past and harbors a secret that could tear his country apart. He’s consumed with the need for control which wars with his longing for harmony. Unable to resist Emma’s beauty and spirit and the calm that she invokes, Logan confesses he desires her—but only on his terms. He promises erotic encounters that will change them both forever, and quench their overwhelming desire.

Despite her own reservations, Emma longs to get close to the mysterious laird, even while she is desperate to return to her own era. She agrees to Logan’s proposal to satisfy her curiosity, but in the end embarks on a daring, passionate affair that rocks her to the very core. Secrets are uncovered, souls bared, spirits transformed. Neither of them can hide behind the plaid.

This is the first book in the Highland Bound Trilogy and is intended for mature audiences only.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ecopy of Behind the Plaid! And for your chance to be entered into the grand prize!

Can’t wait to read it? Check it out now at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Almost 300 bloggers have giveaways and posts about those men we love! 

But that’s not all….

We have TWO grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

Now what are those prizes? 

1st Grand Prize: A $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

2nd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

For additional chances to win the grand prize, click here and follow more author links!

Self-Publishing Interview with Zoe Dawson

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authorpicWelcome back to another week in the self-publishing interview series! This week’s author is Zoe Dawson. Enjoy!

PUBLISHING QUESTIONS…

  • What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?

I have been published with Harlequin Books for 17 years under the Karen Anders pen name.  The  process of getting books through the traditional system and published is slow.  So, I can only get so many books out there for readers to enjoy.  Part of the reason that I wanted to self-publish is to write and publish faster in a non-traditional way.  The other part of the draw to self-publishing for me was the creative freedom.

Right now my books are available in ebook format, but down the road, I intend to include print books as well.

  • What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from someone, could you share who?

As the sole proprietor of my own self-published works, the most important task for me is the product and if I don’t sit down and write, there will be no product.  I made the decision that to free up my time I would hire professionals to do some of the nitty gritty tasks for me.  I hired Faith Freewoman (website) to edit.  She did an excellent job on book #1 and #2 of the Going to the Dogs Series.  For the cover design, I was lucky enough to get Robin Ludwig at Robin Ludwig Design Inc. (http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/).  She did an excellent job on my series covers, giving them all a simple, eye-catching, cute design with a clear series brand.  All the covers are now done and I’ll be revealing them on my blog (http://zoedawsonauthor.blogspot.com/).  I also have a fabulous formatter, Michael Zapp.  He can be reached at his email address mzapp@zapptek.com.  He’s a very patient, fast, thorough, and affordable formatter.  With the help of these people, there were few downs.

  • What did you do to promote your work?

Reviews:  As a traditional author, my books were normally picked up by the usual book review sites, including Romantic Times.  But the process for getting reviews for my indies has been difficult.  I’ve submitted to many reviewer sites and have received some reviews, but the process is slow.  My guess is that there are such a large quantity of indie books that need review many reviewers are juggling very busy schedules.

Promotional Ads:  I’ve bought promotional ads at several sites to get the word out about my book.

Facebook:  I regularly post information regarding my book on my Zoe Dawson Facebook and Karen Anders Facebook pages.

Blog Hops:  I blog hops that have been very successful.  I intend to do many more.  Blog Hops are a fun and engaging way to connect with readers, writers, and reviewers.

Twitter:  Used the medium to announce information, but have recently focused more on connecting with people on Twitter rather than advertising.  It’s been quite fun.

Goodreads:  Set up a profile and I had originally blogged there before I set up my blog on blogspot.  It’s also been a dynamic way to interact with readers, reviewers and writers.  I think once I have more books out, I may buy an ad and see how that goes.

  • What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?

The learning curve when I released my first book was steep.  Luckily, I had a lot of help from great loops and from personal friends who are also in the writing business.  Also, the promotion can be time consuming.  The easiest was the uploading of the book.

  • Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?

For the pros:  I get to write exactly what I want to write.  I can easily track my sales through the dashboards of the various sites where my book is for sale.  Getting paid monthly instead of twice a year.  Better royalty rates.  Books never go out of print.  I have control over my series.  I have the ability to make changes.  I keep all the rights to my book.  Short publishing time.  Control over content, cover, and description.  Lack of a hard deadline.

For the Cons:  I have all the responsibility.  I front all the costs.  Limited distribution of the print book.  Reach fewer readers.  Limited review choices.

  • How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?

I have two books out and I uploaded one in September 2012 and the second in December 2012.  I am shooting for as little time as possible between the publication of the books in my Going to the dog series (tentatively scheduled for June 18, 2013 and November 17, 2013).

  • Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?

To date I’ve sold 131 copies of Leashed and 61 copies of Groomed for Murder across all the sites who carry it.

  • What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?

Be patient with yourself and with the process.  Get on a helpful loop and read as much as you can, but temper that with your own decision making.  There are so many people who are willing to help.  Two fabulous blogs that I have found invaluable are:  http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/ and http://www.molly-greene.com/

READER QUESTIONS…

  • What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?

I write contemporary romance in mystery, comedy, police procedural, suspense and paranormal romance.

To date, I have two ebooks out, titled Leashed and Groomed for Murder.  The first and second books in the Going to the Dogs series.

  • What do you love about the genre(s)?

For mystery, police procedural and suspense, I love the danger aspect, the discovery, the woman in jeopardy and the action.  For the paranormal, it’s all about exploring a new world either within our modern world, or other worlds yet to be discovered or created.  I love the kick ass aspect of urban fantasy.  As for comedy, I used to love to read it.  I had no idea that I’d be competent in writing it, so that was a wonderful new discovery for me.

  • Where can readers find you?

www.zoedawson.com/

www.twitter.com/ZoeDawsonAuthor

www.facebook.com/zoedawsonauthor

www.goodreads.com/user/show/8615573-zoe-dawson

http://zoedawsonauthor.blogspot.com/

  • Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?

5.5"X8.5" Post Card TemplateLeashed

Jack has some ‘splainin’ to do!

That’s right! Callie Lassiter’s normally well-behaved Great Dane Jack has run off and done the wild thing with the neighbor’s dog. It must be puppy love! It’s doubly embarrassing since she’s a professional dog trainer. Of course, the neighbor would have to be hot, hot nightclub owner bad boy Owen McKay, just the kind of man Callie is determined to avoid.

Owen’s comfortable with his playboy status and the hype in the media. But the ground moves beneath his feet when he gets an eyeful of the girl next door. The Dog Whisperer never looked this good! How can he convince this wholesome honey that his player days are behind him? Maybe Jill, his Great Dane can help him with this dilemma now that she’s pregnant and Callie’s dog is to blame.

Is this bad boy a bad bet?

Amazon

5.5"X8.5" Post Card TemplateGroomed for Murder

Can a dog have a bad hair day?

​​Brooke Palmer owns Pawlish, an exclusive doggie spa and grooming business in upper Manhattan, but when a client’s champion poodle gets a bad poodle cut and has to undergo therapy to recover, the client sues.  The lawyer they send is drop dead gorgeous, but Brooke won’t be wooed by a corporate shark in a sharp suit.​

​Corporate lawyer Drew Hudson has better things to do then take on this ridiculous lawsuit, but since he works for the client’s husband, he has no choice.  After meeting the beautiful, sweet-tempered owner, he can’t keep his mind on the silly case.  But when the client turns up dog gone dead, Brooke may be a conflict of interest when she’s charged with the murder.  All Drew wants to do is prove that this sexy entrepreneur is not dangerous, except to his heart.

Can she take a chance on him?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

  • What works do you have coming out in the future?

Hounded, Book #3, Going to the Dogs series – Summer 2013

Collared, Book #4, Going to the Dogs series – Fall 2013

In Her Sights, Book #1, LAPD Heat series, Entangled Publishing – Winter 2013

I have an urban fantasy series with romantic elements planned.  I  am also planning  a female former-Marine turned motocross competitor who uses her recovery agent exploits to fund her motocross addition.

  • Are you participating in any reader contests?

I have Leashed and Groomed for Murder here:

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9608.Best_New_Author_Books

  • There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?

I strive to make all my novels as professional, easy to read, and entertaining as I can possibly make them and I invest in professionals to help me do that.  I see it as investing in myself.  It’s well worth it.  I believe that with any kind of generalization, something truly wonderful can be overlooked and, although, there may be self-published authors who are not doing as professional work as they can, all self-published books shouldn’t be lumped into the same category.

  • What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?

Only that, on the whole, self-pubbed authors are writing for your enjoyment.  I’d imagine that when they are writing for the money or status, it’ll come across in the writing.

Also, if you like an indie author, like their page, their author page on Amazon, and if you can write a review or drop them a line and let them know how much you enjoyed the book, it’ll make their day.   I know it makes mine.

Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction.

She’s launched the first book in her self-published Going to the Dogs Series.  Leashed begins the tails (pun intended) of four New York City dog professionals who meet at a dog park and become fast friends.  Out now, Groomed for Murder, Book #2

She is also publishing with Entangled Publishing and will have her debut novel out with them in 2013.  It’s the first book of the six book The Misfit Squad Series of police procedurals, featuring a group of troubled homicide detectives who have landed in the “last chance” squad.  If they don’t shape up, they’re out.

Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, and soon paranormal and urban fantasy novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.

New Release! Notorious Woman!

Happy release day to my alter ego, Annabelle Weston! Today the 3rd book in the Desert Heat series released!

notoriouswoman_msrNotorious Woman

Kate has a bad reputation. Since her pa’s murder, she’s been a whip-wielding, ball-busting hellcat, determined to prove she can run a ranch just as well as any man. Then her little sister goes and hires a new foreman—a foreman who makes Kate tingle in places she shouldn’t be tingling, not if she wants to keep up a tough façade. When Jake takes liberties by kissing her—never mind where he kisses her—she clocks him in the chin then hopes he’ll kiss her some more. What’s happening to her?

Jake isn’t just at the ranch to help run the place. He made a bet he could tame Kate, a bet that would give him the money he needs for his own piece of land. He never expected her to be so ornery…or taste so sweet. And he never expected to like her more when she’s cantankerous. Unfortunately, it’s a bet he can’t afford to lose, even though he’s already lost his heart.

Inside Scoop: This historical romp is a sexy Western take on The Taming of the Shrew.

An Excerpt From: NOTORIOUS WOMAN

Copyright © ANNABELLE WESTON, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

About a quarter mile from the gate, he came upon a farmhouse, what appeared to be a bunkhouse on the left and a shed for a farrier on the right. Both could use a coat of fresh stucco. As Jake rode up to the house, he came to the conclusion these ladies were over their pretty little heads.

A chicken coop listed to one side. A few chickens scratched the dry earth. He doubted they laid a decent egg to breakfast on. The first winter storm would most likely knock the coop over. No self-respecting coyote would have any trouble breaking in and helping himself to a not-so-plump chicken dinner.

There was a good-sized barn with an empty corral behind it. Beyond the corral, a pasture where livestock should be grazing. He frowned. The girls had no idea how to run a ranch and obviously that idiot of a foreman who had worked for their pa didn’t either. Nobody had done a lick of work in a long time. Damn good thing he’d come along when he did. He’d fix the place right up.

Whoa there, boy! What was he doing? Thinking like that would have him trying to make a permanent home out of Crowley ranch. That wasn’t how it was going to be. He was going to win this wager and then get on to Texas where the real cattlemen lived. In his pocket would be a fat purse—enough to buy his own place.

Best to keep his goal in mind, else he’d wind up draining his blood and sweat on this spread with nothing to show for his effort.

Kate Crowley came out on her porch carrying a lit coal-oil lamp as the sun was about to set. She wore riding clothes and a hat. Thankfully, he didn’t see any whip or other weapon.

A gust of wind whipped her loose hair and reddened her cheeks. He had to admit she made a picture of Western country womanhood any man would be itching to come home to. The fact that for a split-second he thought of coming home to her disturbed him greatly.

Her eyes met his and he couldn’t help but notice taut nipples beneath her blouse. Jake sucked in a breath, his own body reacting with sudden lust. She drew a wool shawl tighter around her shoulders. It hugged her curves and gave the impression of vulnerability. She appeared sturdy enough, he reckoned, but there was no mistaking she was holding her own against a stacked deck.

“You found us,” she said kindly. In the dying light, Jake could see the gratitude reflected in her eyes.

“Yes ma’am.” Jake tipped his hat. He couldn’t afford to be sorry for her plight. Like he’d told the boys at the saloon, her dilemma wasn’t his concern. In six weeks, he’d be a man of means. Most likely, the sisters would be on their way back East, where ladies belonged. “You here to check on my sobriety?”

“Do I need to?”

He chuckled. She gave as good as she got.

“Come with me,” she said and stepped down from her perch. “I’ll show you where to put your gear.”

Like a general who’d just given orders, she marched off, her head high. He couldn’t help but watch the sway of her hips. No matter how much she tried to be one of the boys, this woman had virtues no man could ignore.

Resolve twitched his lips as he pictured her walking like that without any clothes on. Her ass would sway and dimple with each step. He imagined the curve of her bottom as he held her. Damn if he didn’t wonder what she’d be like underneath him. Would her fire scorch him?

His cock grew hard, pressing uncomfortably against his denim. He adjusted his stance, giving himself a chance to settle down.

Jake led Rascal to the bunkhouse where Kate stood waiting by the open door. She went inside, hung the lantern on a wooden peg and set the bedding on the nearest bunk. Her hands lingered a moment on the rough mattress, and seeing her bent over like that, Jake had the urge to come up behind her and press his aching cock against the curve of her buttocks.

Clearing his throat, hoping to gain some control of his lust, he asked, “Where are the other wranglers?” Jake poked his head inside.

“There aren’t any others,” she said, furrowing her forehead.

He raised a brow. She had to be joking. “You hired me to be a foreman. You mean to tell me I’m the only hombre working here?”

Her lips pressed together as she watched him, almost as if she was annoyed that he would question her. But question her he would. This was not the job he’d agreed to. Foreman was one thing. Doing the job of a dozen wranglers wasn’t.

“You’re our only employee. We can’t afford to hire any more help right now.”

“How in the heck do you expect to get the considerable amount of work that needs doing finished by the time winter rolls in?” He stared hard at her. “Which will be sooner than you think.”

Kate stepped forward, her shoulders pulled back, breasts pushed tight against her blouse. The intent he knew was to appear taller, stronger, but instead she looked hotter than hell and had him thinking of hauling her into his arms to feel the softness pressed against him. “I intend to do my share of the work. My sister too.”

Jake let out a whistle. “You must be joshing. I can’t bring cows down from these hills with a couple of women.”

Her eyes glowed in the lamplight. “That’s exactly what we are going to do, Mr. Madden. Are you telling me you’re not able to do the job?”

Jake pushed his hat back on his head. Was she questioning his abilities? He didn’t like what he saw but he wasn’t going to back down with so much at stake.

“I didn’t think so.” She rested her hands on her hips. Ample, curving hips. “You can put your horse in the barn.”

“No thanks. He’ll do fine in the corral. No use spoiling him.”

“Suit yourself.”

When she brushed past him, heat encompassed him. Instinctively Jake reached out, stopping her. She glanced up at him, fire filling her eyes. He breathed deep. She smelled of flowers, sugar. Gripping a tendril of her loose hair, he twirled it around his fingers.

“What are you doing?” Her voice was soft, husky, giving away that she was more affected by his simple touch than her words showed.

What was he doing? He wanted to kiss her. To touch her.

Instead Jake shook his head, pulling himself from whatever spell had overtaken him. He blinked a few times, dropping his hand to his side.

READ IT!

Check out the other books in the Desert Heat series!!

Self-Publishing Interview with Barbara Binns

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Welcome back to another week in the self-publishing interview series! This week’s self-pub author is Barbara Binns. Enjoy!

D77S0049PUBLISHING QUESTIONS…

  • What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?

I came into this backwards. I had a book traditionally published in November 2010. PULL. It was with a small press that ceased operation in 2011. The sales numbers were not good, and my agent was unable to find a new home for the book or for my next manuscripts. But I had people asking about purchasing the book. So, earlier this year (2012), armed with the return of my rights, I decided to self-publish.

  • What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from a someone, could you share who?

AllTheColorsOfLove LogoWriting, obviously.  PULL was originally edited by a wonderful woman at my publisher, Evelyn Fazio. For the second edition, I went in and changed a few things, but primarily it is the same as the original. I did the CreateSpace formatting; tedious at first, but now I know what I’m doing. I hired Everything-Indie to do the Smashwords and Kindle formatting. They are also doing the editing for Being God.

I intended to hire someone to do the new cover. That person bowed out. Then I tried buying rights to the original cover from the former publisher.  That too fell through.  And then there were scheduling issues with the next person I contacted.  What at first seemed a disaster turned out to be a godsend. I bit the bullet, learned how to use Photoshop, and created my own cover for Pull.  It’s, similar enough to the original cover so people won’t be confused, yet a little truer to my own original vision. And I learned to be so adept at Photoshop in the process that I jumped in and did the cover for Die Trying and Being God.  I guess I like being artistic

I also decided to go for the “full-monte,” including establishing my own publishing label and imprint, AllTheColorsOfLove.   The work involved included buying my own ISBNs, signing with a distributor, fulfilling orders, and still finding time to write the next book. I’m hiring a new editor for my next book.

  • What did you do to promote your work?

Not enough, I do know that. I’m still working on promotion, that is the part I hate, but I’d have to do that even if I were traditionally published. I have finally established what I consider my platform: Diversity in YA fiction and Reaching reluctant readers.  With I give speeches at librarian conferences, schools, etc.  I’m old-fashioned enough to like to visit or Skype. And I get to do some fun interviews, like talk to Sammie the parrot.  As a YA author, I consider these two of my most important venues. I do give-aways at the conferences. I am also planning a giveaway on Goodreads, and on Figment, once I finally understand the site.  Recently I signed on two judge a library student writing contest, and a high school poetry contest for next year, all to help me reach my readers.   And I’ll be making another presentation in 2013 at the American Library Association conference in Chicago in June.

  • What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?

PULLFrontAll the marketing stuff. Only I was doing a lot of that even when I was traditionally published, I just upped the ante.  Maybe the hardest part is still ahead of me, next year, when I have to do the taxes for my new company.  I hate doing my own taxes.

  • Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?

Honestly, there are too many cons to count, including the fact that everything is on me. There’s no one else to blame. I have to make all the decisions an editor/publisher would have, and still hire an editor to help me revise the thing so that it is suitable for readers. And income tax next year will be a total mess.

But the pro – everything really is in my hands. The rewards are mine, the feeling of control is great. (Maybe that’s why my newest book is title Being God, I enjoy control even if it means I’m overworked) And having people recognize my work, read the book I totally put together, compliment the cover, ask me to come speak to their group or conference because of the power of my work, that’s priceless.

  • How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?

PULL only came out in October, so I can’t say much about sales yet.  I will say that in addition to Amazon and Smashwords, I have signed an agreement with Follett Library Services, and fulfilled my first order. AllTheColorsOfLove just received an order for twenty books from a school.   And I received a request from Florida from a man who has read my short stories and wants to pre-order my new book.   Die Trying only came out in November. I’m really waiting to see what happens when Being God comes out in February, 2013.

  • Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?

It is still too early, I’ve only been self-published since October. I am surprised that nothing has sold on B&N so far, but both Amazon and Smashwords are selling. The physical book versions are selling more than the eBook, but that’s not so surprising with YA. As I said earlier, I’m really waiting to see what happens with book three.

  • What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?

Patience, persistence and a good editor. All are invaluable.

READER QUESTIONS…

  • What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?

DT copyI write YA (Young Adult) contemporary romance and coming of age.  I have two books out, PULL ISBN 978-098818210-3, and Die Trying and other stories, ISBN 978-098818219-6.

  • What do you love about the genre(s)?

I love that it’s so open, there are many things you can do in YA and young readers are accepting. As long as the story pulls them in, they will go with you. On the other hand, the minute you bore them they drop you, so it keeps this writer on her toes to make the words sharp, tight and compelling. I also write about culturally diverse characters, and I like exploring different lives and presenting that for readers to enjoy and see that maybe we’re all more alike than it looks on the outside.

  • Where can readers find you?

Hordes of places.  I admit to doing the best job of keeping my blog updated, http://barbarabinns.com You can always reach me by email.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/BABinns

Twitter: http://twitter.com/barbarabinns

Facebook: http://facebook.com/barbara.binns.3

Website: http://babinns.com

Email: binns@babinns.com

  • Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?

My books are available in both paperback and eBook format. PULL is on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, B&N for Nook, and Smashwords) and Die Trying and other stories is a collection at Amazon in paperback, B&N for Nook, and Smashwords  Schools and libraries can order from Follet Library Resources, or directly from the publisher (me).

  • What works do you have coming out in the future?

Being God frontBeing God, ISBN 978-098818211-0, a sequel to Pull, will be out at the end of January. This book focusses on Malik Kaplan, Pull’s antagonist, and his further relationships with Barnetta, his enemy’s sister. (After all, you can hate the guy, but love little sis)

  • Are you participating in any reader contests?

If only I have time. I will be judging several contests over the next few months, does that count?

  • There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?

Unfortunately sometimes this is more than a rumor, something those of us who consider ourselves serious need to be aware of and try to differentiate ourselves.  Anyone can publish a book these days. That sometimes means books with poor covers and poorer editing.  As a result all indie books are getting a bad name.  During my workshops with librarians I talked about Indie authors, and immediately people began to grown. Many of them had first-hand experience with poor quality self-published novels they purchased and then could not use in their collections.

We who want to do a professional job need to find ways to distinguish ourselves from the pack.

I admit I gave them some advice that some Indie authors may dislike, but I think we need to look at how we distinguish ourselves from the pack.

  • What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?

You mean other than reading my books?  Amazon reviews are easy to come by, if you have enough friends and relatives, you can get liked and reviewed up the whazu. Because I write YA, I know the kids are big on asking friends what they read. Do the same. when you do find a worthwhile Indie book, keep track of the author and look for their other works, and share the information with other