Archive | November, 2012

When Do You Put a ‘Best Seller’ Note On?

28 Nov

Recently I had an amazing run with my story It’s in His Kiss and had some really great outcomes:

Yup, that’s KISS at #1 in its sub-category! That was a pretty awesome day.

Followed up quickly by this:

KISS made it into the Top 50 in Contemporary Romance, its main category, for both the ebooks and the overall category.

I danced. I shouted. I took screen shots. I just waved when my co-workers looked at me funny during the dancing and shouting.

Someone mentioned I needed to add “Best Seller” to the cover. That got me wondering –> Is this enough? Is this the new Best Seller? Have I been so brainwashed by old-school publishing that I can’t accept it? It was a best seller on Amazon, our number one seller of books. Is that what matters now? Am I qualified to Amazon Best Seller on there?

Should I, I don’t know.

So, I ask you to chime in! What makes a best seller NOW? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments too. I’m famously nosy 😉



When the Holidays Inspire You

26 Nov

I’ll admit it. I have holiday fever. I love this time of the year. There’s a certain sort of magic that seems to float on the air like dandelion wisps.

And so, while I figure out what the heck is going on in the two books I’m writing to follow-up the novella … not to mention trying to get them done for January and February… I decided, what the heck! Why don’t I write a holiday short.

Yes. Now. Go ahead. Point and Laugh.

So, this weekend I wrote 10k for a New Years Eve story. It’s about 1/2 way done (which means it work out to about 80 pages, or almost 2 hours for the average reader). I’ve already picked out a cute cover and found an available editor.

The work just needs to get done this week.

So, I’ll be writing everywhere I go. I may have annoyed the guy next to me on the bus this morning with all my scribbling. But he smelled funny, so we’re even.

And so, I’m having one of those days where I really don’t want to be at work. I want to be home bringing more emotional destruction and ridiculousness to my poor, belabored heroine as I send her on yet another internet-dating adventure.

Hmmmm… *cough* Is that a cold I feel coming on?



6 Book Giveaway

20 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m giving stuff away!!!!

On the It’s in His Kiss page, you’ll see a bar of books running across the middle known as the Also Boughts. I’m giving away KISS plus, all 5 of the Also Boughts on my front page. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, all you have to do is tell me a book you’re thankful for. I’ll be drawing Wednesday night.

*Disclaimer Junk: Must have a kindle or kindle app on your phone/computer/etc & be in the US/Canada Amazon gifting area.

These are the books. Click the picture to check them out!

and, of course:

So, just tell me what book you’re thankful for and why. Check back Wednesday night to see who was our random winner!


When Characters Force Their Backstory

19 Nov

Lately I’ve been picking up books that I seem to put down almost immediately. They might be great books. I might even end up giving them 4 or 5 stars in my tracker if I read them all the way through. But, I’ll never know.

What’s the new thing that’s been stopping me? Characters forcing their backstory (I know. You’re shocked. It’s not like the title gave it away or anything.)

In the last month I’ve picked up books where the main character is telling us “I didn’t have a choice. I had to do XYZ.” I, the reader, have been like “You had to quit your job? Why? You gave us no reason? You had to move back to that small town? Why? If your parents are dead and your inheritance doesn’t matter to you and there’s no binding reason, then you didn’t have to. You decided to.”

Maybe it’s the economy, but the idea of anyone giving up a good job they like in a town the enjoy living in and an apartment with good rent is… ABSOLUTELY LUDICROUS. And I don’t mean the rapper.

I 100000000.7% can not accept that as a reason to move a character to the middle of no where so hijinks can ensue.

It’s cheap writing. I hope if I do it, I’ll catch myself.

But the problem is this: If I don’t believe your first 3 pages, you’ve lost me. Why would I spend the rest of the book trying to believe her (and in her) if I don’t believe her actions or why she made them.

Set up is vital. Don’t let anything in your sample pages give your reader a reason to not hit the buy button.

Yes, we all do impulsive things occasionally. But there is a big difference between an impulsive move (which you still have to justify) and a move that you’re blaming on situations that don’t truly exist in your story.

Remember, the set up is in the sample. It has to be as close to perfect as possible, not just to be good writing but to sell.

If I’m reading your sample, I’m yours to lose at that point. Don’t make me not hit buy.


When Caitie Makes Assumptions

13 Nov

Last year I wrote 22 Steps to Successfully Self-Publishing. It still gets linked on a fairly regular basis and I still get thank you emails from people just a few months behind me on this ladder.

It’s now been over a year since that post went live and I realized I made a huge, HUGE, miscalculation. I’ve realized that everyone’s “good enough” is not the same.

Personally, mine is “as good as I can get it with free and hired help.”

But, I’ve also learned a couple things while doing this:

  1. People dismiss you rather easily if you only have one book out that they can see.
  2. People dismiss your advice if it isn’t what you want to hear.

As I finish three more stories and work on my writing for the other part of my life, I’ve felt more confident chiming in when people ask questions.

Recently, another short story writer asked for advice somewhere.

GREAT! I thought. A chance for me to give back a bit! As someone who doesn’t have the freedom to market or use a name to promote, I’ve learned a few things by watching my numbers (which I’m inordinately pleased with based on the no-marketing-short-story thing.)

Through the process I decided there were several very controllable steps to upping your sales numbers. I went to his books, read his blurbs, looked at his covers, checked out his prices and word count, looked him up on Goodreads and then went back and posted a few suggestions:

PRICE: I don’t care what the super-successful famous writers of short stories are saying. I’m not paying $4 for a short. Ever. Not even from Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Maybe if she let me sit in her office and watch her write it. But, still, probably not.

These authors do have more freedom to charge more for their product because they already have a demand, a customer-base. If you don’t already have a customer-base, you don’t have anyone who is going to pay a lot to test your ride.

COVERS: For the love of stars, how many readers have to comment in their reviews about bad covers for writers to get it? I got the cover for KISS for $22 by watching for a sale and buying pre-made. Don’t go out this weekend, buy a good cover instead.

Also, personal pet peeve alert: Covers that are homemade (that’s not the pet peeve) that are not standard cover size. You might as well print across the top, I ignore standards. Read at your own risk.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: NY Traditional Publishing has spent a gazillion dollars figuring out what works. And what doesn’t. Sit down, read 50 product descriptions of successful books in your genre (trad and indie) and then write yours. Pay attention. Do what works.

I’d add one thing that isn’t on your book’s Amazon front page. The sample pages.

SAMPLE PAGES (the Look Inside option): Unlike everything listed above, sample pages do one thing typically: Kill a sale.

It isn’t very often someone will get to the sample pages without being pretty sure they want to buy the book. They’ve looked at the cover and the blurbs, read the product description and the reviews. At this point the reader is most likely thinking, This sounds pretty good. Let’s see if the writing passes muster.

And here’s where my assumption was wrong. Recently I’ve been clicking on a lot of samples. Every time someone asks why they’re book isn’t selling, I do those three things (cover, product description, price, and then  check their own Goodreads). Then, if all those things look good, I read their sample.

About 20% of the time I don’t buy the book after reading a sample of something I was all set to drop cash on.

I’ve seen arguments saying “polish your sample pages” – but that is 100000% the wrong attitude and just stating it shows that you know it.

Your entire book should be able to sell itself. A reader should be able to open to any page and see the care and craft that has gone into the product.

If you’re a writer, one thing you must understand is this: Dropping the cash to put out the best product will bring you in more revenue. Better product = better reviews. Better reviews = more sales. More sales = more revenue. More revenue = an easier time paying to polish the next project.

GOODREADS: I’d estimate that 70% of my sales come from Goodreads. My readers there have been fabulous to me. Even my 2 star reviews haven’t been those blind-hatred-attacks that people claim are rampant on GR. I know that I need to be very thankful to every single person who has taken the time to rate/review me there.

Respect your reader and only sell something worth buying. Respect yourself and only show your skill at its best.


When People Ask Writers the Wrong Question

11 Nov

Last week I wrote a blog about When Writers Ask the Wrong Question and found myself asked the wrong question as a follow-up.

I was asked: If you’re all for exploration in YA, why is your story so sweet?

First off, Yes. KISS is a sweet adult contemp. Second, Yes, all of my stories will be sweet. Third, what does that have to do with other people’s YA?

I’d start by saying that I’m not for free for alls in the YA world. There are things out there that are great books, but I wouldn’t hand to 90% of teens. But, for those 10% maybe their vital. I also wouldn’t hand sweet YAs to a lot of teens either. They’re just not interested or past that. Just because the audience that needs or wants a book is small, doesn’t mean that book shouldn’t be written. Sometimes, it means it should be written.

Teens (if you’ve bothered to talk to one lately) are individuals just like adults are individuals. They are not a Mass Group of Cyborgs. They have different tastes, needs and things they enjoy. And so, books for teens should be different, just like books for adults.

As for my books, I love Romance and Rom Coms and Chick Lit and Humourous Women’s Fiction and whatever else we’re calling these books at the moment. But, sometimes I max out on the sex! sex! sex! in some of them. Sometimes I want more than the how-fast-can-we-find-a-flat-surface I often feel bombarded with. Sometimes I just want the sweet part of falling in love.

And so the real question has nothing to do with what’s going on in YA. It has to do with what’s going on with me as a writer. I write sweet because I wish there was more of it. Because I think sweet is a great source of love. Because I don’t think sex is needed to fall in love. Because I think friendship and respect and laughter are great foundations for love.

Is hot sex to follow? Boy, I hope so. Do I need to write that to tell the stories I tell? Not really.

I’m a strong believer in “if it isn’t needed to move the story forward, then it isn’t needed” and that’s where my stories fall. That doesn’t mean my characters are dull or passionless. It just means you don’t get to spend time with them naked.

And seriously, naked strangers are typically just weird anyway, right?


When Writers Ask the Wrong Questions

6 Nov

I’m on several writer’s forums. There are questions that pop up over and over again. Sometimes it’s great to see someone new come in and ask a question that was asked two months ago because a lot might have changed. But sometimes you just want to ask, Did you do more than join and post your question, because 2 pages back there’s an amazing answer to that.

But hey, we all get excited and do that.

Then, there are just the wrong questions. I’m seeing it a lot. I’m seeing it more than a lot. I’ll estimate I see it almost every day. I’d say the majority of the time it has to do with YA or Romance (maybe SFF has their own problems somewhere else) but it goes something like this:

Can you have sex in a YA? OR Can you curse in a YA? OR Do you have to have parents in a YA?

Or maybe, Do you have to have a happy ending in a Romance? OR Can the H/h cheat in a Romance? OR How soon do the H/h have to meet in a Romance?

If you’re new to the genre, these are valid questions. That’s not the problem. The problem is what these questions show us about you as a writer. What these basic level questions tell me is that you want to dive in and write in a genre that you don’t read and you haven’t researched. It always makes me wonder if you’re chasing the money.

I honestly don’t believe asking others basic questions is research. That’s the equivalent of Cliff Notes…but with a chance they’re wrong.

Because, just like that writer didn’t do her research, now she’s trusting unvetted sources.

I’m going to be honest, I’ve watched people have STRONG opinions about YA because they have kids. I’ve watched people have STRONG opinions about Romance because they watch Rom Com movies.

Those are not qualifications.

So, you’re asking, Caitie, what’s the right questions then?

Easy: Can you tell me some of the best books in this genre? How about one or two you think are the worst? Can you also tell me why you picked those books.

Then, once you have your homework, go read. Trust me, if you don’t enjoy reading in the genre, you’re in the wrong place. Granted, you aren’t going to love everyone’s “best examples” but you’ll understand the genre better (and how/where you want to be in it.)

And that’s really the first step to being a great writer. Being a great reader.