Filling in . . .

Let me start by letting you know that I received an SOS from Amanda earlier this morning. There was something about it being morning, no coffee and and a raging headache. Let’s just say she wasn’t a happy camper. So, since I happened to be up — sort of — and, as she said, looking for ways to promote my latest book, she asked me to fill in. She did ask me to say she would be posting her thoughts on the YA article she linked to earlier in the week just as soon as she’s online again.

Anyway. . . .

If you guys hadn’t figured it out, I’m pretty new at this writer business. I’d tried some years ago to do it the old-fashioned way. I sent queries out to agents and publishers and got the usual canned responses. Since I didn’t know any better, and since my family didn’t look at writing as a “real” profession, I quit trying to break in and left my writing for my therapy. (Come on, I can’t be the only one who is in a better mental space when I’m writing than when I’m not.) Considering the fact that our family tree is populated with journalists, the attitude sort of surprised me but then I guess there is a difference between journalism and fiction writer (well, there used to be, but I won’t go into my opinion of most so-called journalists these days).

So, I acted like an adult and got a “real” job. Let me tell you, being an adult isn’t as much fun as folks want you to believe, at least not if you aren’t doing the job you want to do. Now, I’m not talking about wanting to be a racecar driver or pro ball player and you don’t have the talent or reflexes for both. No, I’m talking about when you have the need to do something and you choose not to for whatever reason. For me, the need was to write and I made the choice not to because of family pressure and, to be honest, the fact that I do like to eat regularly and have a roof over my head.

Then the day finally came when I realized that the publishing business had changed. Or maybe I’d just changed. I didn’t really care if my work came out from a BIG publisher. What I wanted to do was write and get my work out there for the readers to find. As sure as I’m owned by a mass of cats and dogs, no one was going to read my work with it stashed under my bed. So I started looking at what my options were and finally decided to go with Naked Reader Press — if they’d have me.

I was lucky. They not only wanted me but one of the first novels NRP put out was my romantic suspense Wedding Bell Blues. I knew even then that Sarah and Amanda and company were using WBB as a test case. If it did well, they’d want more from me. Fortunately, it did do well enough for them to ask for something else. There’s nothing like getting that call from your editor telling you that they want to see another novel from you.

Of course, this being Sarah, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. She wanted another novel, but she wanted me to try my hand at something a little different. Paranormal Romance was selling well. She wanted to see me making money, hopefully lots of it, and she’s a business woman. If I made lots of money, NRP would also make money. So, hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

I’ll admit, I fought it. I had never read a paranormal romance at that point. What I’d heard of them didn’t endear them to me. I like a book with a good plot and characters folks can relate to (even if one reviewer of WBB doesn’t believe a doctor can obsess about her daughters getting married). Writing a book that was just a series of sex scenes tied loosely together with an improbable plot didn’t appeal to me.

But, NRP wanted a book and I wanted to deliver one. So I started reading paranormal romance to see what I might be getting myself into. Some were good. A few were very good and a great many were downright porn. Then, in the course of all the reading, I realized I could write my kind of book and still call it paranormal romance. Sure, it wouldn’t have as much sex as some folks would expect and others would be put off by the sex it did have in it. But I’d learned one lesson very quickly with WBB: you are never going to please everyone who reads your book.

huntednewcoverSo, I sat down and started writing. Hunted was the result. To my surprise, it did well. Sarah — damn her — had been right. Paranormal romance does sell. What she didn’t warn me about was that the characters are LOUD and even more DEMANDING. They don’t want to let my fingers leave the keyboard any more than they are willing to let me try to write anything but stories set in their universe. Which is probably a good thing since Sarah, grinning like the evil woman she is, told me that I needed to write the second book in the Hunter’s Moon series ASAP in order to take advantage of how well Hunted was doing.

HUNTERSDUTYAnd that’s where Hunter’s Duty ( formerly known as Blood Moon and, in my less affectionate times kimchee junior) comes in. It’s the second book in the series — and, yes, the third book is already demanding to be written. Of course, being me, I’m trying to hold off as we wait and see what the sales for this book will be. Not that it is keeping my muse quiet. Oh no. SHE assures me the sales will be just fine and that I need to get started on Hunter’s Pride. Yes, she’s already given the book a title and has told me the basic plot.

Sigh.

So, here comes the push. You knew there had to be a push, right? Check my books out. Think of it this way. The more books I sell, the more Sarah gets to tell me, “I told you so.” That makes her happy and a happy Sarah is a Sarah who writes more. So, in a way, by buying my books you are also making sure Sarah writes more books for you to buy. See, it’s a win-win situation 😉

Seriously, I suck at this promotion stuff. Most writers do. So, if you’d like to see a sample of Hunted you can find it here.

You can find a sample of Hunter’s Pride here.

As for the rest of it, don’t keep shoving work under your bed or in the closet. Find yourself a good editor and then get it out there. We’re so lucky as writers to have so many different options for making our work available. Do your homework and choose which works best for you. But, if you have the need to write, write. There can never be too many stories.

 

33 Comments

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33 responses to “Filling in . . .

  1. Dan Lane

    If I could substitute “telling stories” for writing, you’re not alone. Stories are how we tame the mad, chaotic, and often unpleasant world and make it easier to handle. Well, at least I do. I may not be a writer, but I *am* a reader, and I think storytelling takes as much chops as any other job- at least if you want to be good at it. Sure it takes a basic aptitude, but it’s not like wanting to be in the NBA but lacking the requisite inches. Just knowing *what* the story is won’t cut it alone, but the “how” can be learned or taught. Reading through your sample chapter shows you’ve got the knack- paranormal romance may not be my thing, but I’ll pass it along to my fellow readers who do enjoy it. *grin*

    The “push” doesn’t have to be so bad, I think. What would your characters say? Some stories, I think they would say “kill this author NOW before she gets me into any worse trouble!” *grin* Seriously though, it’s not bragging or anything bad. Or it doesn’t have to be. It’s sharing stories with friends you haven’t met yet. Let your inner adolescent loose to say “Hey lookit this! It’s awesome because magic and shapeshifters and danger and oh yeah there’s actual sex and romance but none of that icky dumb porn stuff so buyit buyit now!” *grin*

    • Dan, that’s easy to say but in this day of social media, a bit harder to do. At least for me. I’d much rather be writing than spending time on Facebook or – gag – Twitter. I’m behind the learning curve where social media is cocnerned that it’s not funny. Sigh. I’d be so much happier if all I had to do was write.

      • TXRed

        Several articles I’ve read recently suggest that social media requires less than most people think, in that sending out a “next book’s out” or “New review of my book’s up at [paper/magazine/blog]” tweet on occasion is enough. Blog tours and excessive posting/tweeting turn off more readers than they attract. Which leaves the question of “what is an excess of tweets” wide open, but still. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have no social media presence, for personal safety reasons.)

        • Eh, if I posted too many tweets, I guess that might turn off half of my 16 followers….

        • Which is about all I do. I have to change my facebook password every time because I log on there so infrequently I never remember it. But I do need to do more than I have been. Still, as I said, I’d much rather be writing my next book.

  2. ABE

    You are absolutely correct: there is always another story to be written, another reader to entice.

    And you probably wouldn’t have read a paranormal romance otherwise, so that’s another gain for other writers of the genre.

    It’s all good.

    • You say that because you didn’t have to read some of the really bad ones I did. I will admit, they showed me what I didn’t want to do. But there are some things no brain should ever have to read because you know you’ll hever be able to forget them.

      • Dorothy Grant

        I still have one friend who hasn’t given up on a certain popular necromancer PNR. I’m glad she hasn’t, because I really liked the tough-chick-works-with-cops-to-solve-crimes start. A while back, she handed a slim volume to me, grinning. “Here, try this one! It’s pretty fluffy, but she finally wrote another where the sex isn’t the plot!”

        So I sympathize. Oh, does my brain with its layers and layers of scars substituting for a mental filter ever sympathize.

        • I know exactly what series you’re talking about. I loved the first five books or so. Now, it bears so little resemblance to the original premise that I haven’t read one of her books in several years. Which I hate because I, too, liked the tough-chick-etc.

          • bearcat

            I think about everybody knows who she is talking about. Obviously she is still attracting plenty of readers, but it is a different group than she attracted at the beginning of the series. I tried several of them, because you can see the shadow of a good story in there, it just never really comes out in the later books that I tried.

  3. mobiuswolf

    You go girl!!!

  4. Synova

    What do I know. Seriously, What. Do. I. Know. But it seems to me that a series builds, but not necessarily in a linear fashion. The next book really ought not depend on sales from the one before if you know it’s a good story and well done and it catches your interest and passion… there’s bound to be others that like it too. And if someone likes number one, but thinks that number two is meh, they still might try number three, and by then be entirely invested with the characters. And people are probably more likely to even *try* book number one if there are two or three more in the series because they know if they do like it that they found something more than a one-off.

    Also… a few years ago a local author (an older man who’d had some national success and acclaim a couple decades ago) had an idea he was enthused about and was writing a novel and working with an editor… well, he sold it. I *think* it was to TOR but I could well be wrong about that. In any case, I’m thinking it ought to be out pretty soon, right? They’re now talking summer 2015… nearly 5 whole years after the publisher bought the book. And I wonder… is he waiting to see how the book sells before he writes more of them? Or is he going to have a five book series ready to go?

    Which makes more sense to you?

    Not writing the following books only makes sense in the old paradigm, where poor sales means the publisher won’t even touch the next book, in that case it would make more sense to write four more “First” books to see if any of them do better because the unbought follow up books in the series couldn’t be sold at all. Now they can be.

    • Laura M

      What Synova said. My sons have very clearly told me that they don’t buy books unless they are part of a series when I suggest they try this-or-that. They don’t want to feel all bereft if it turns out they like a book and there’s only one. This is kind of wimpy and pathetic, but it’s still market data.

      • Laura, your sons sound like mine. And readers like them are why I will give a series at least three books before I give it up. But then I have to start asking myself if the series is paying enough to keep me working on it.

    • Synova, as a reader, I agree with you. But as a writer, I have to look at whether it is worth the investment in time and effort to write a third or fourth book if the previous book doesn’t sell well. That’s not to say I won’t write it. But it may not be the next thing I work on. Unfortunately, the characters in my head don’t want to wait their turn.

  5. Dorothy Grant

    Speaking as a reader, write the next book now. You see, I’ve been trained by years of picking up a book, finding it’s good, then picking up the second book, getting into the groove… only to be abandoned and never find a third book.

    Now, I understand that the publisher put out the first one, saw the numbers, put out the second, saw a drop, and cut the series off – then demanded the author get a pen name because “their numbers were bad”. If you replicate this in indie, and never give your series a chance to find readers and grow, I fear you are replicating the bad decisions of said publishers, not the good ones.

    For this behavior has trained a generation (or two) of readers like myself to automatically give a jaundiced eye to any “series” with only one or two books out. I’ve been burned too many times, and won’t start a series with less than three books without a hefty recommendation… and if it’s a fantasy epic series, I won’t start it at all until it’s complete. (Paging George RR Martin, GRRM to the courtesy phone.)

    Unless it’s Prachett’s discworld, and in that case it’s because each book can stand alone, can tie into its little series, and ties into the world at large – but if there should be no more Discworld books, still it is complete, and we aren’t left waiting for Brandon Sanderson to tie up all the plot threads possible in three massive books. And therein lies the difference…

    So write the third book while you’re waiting on numbers. If you can, make sure it stands on its own for people who’ve never read anything else in the series… and that it wraps up a major plot arc or theme across the first two. This way, if the series still doesn’t sell well, it stands complete as a trilogy and you can turn to other things – but if it does sell well, you can start a second trilogy / overarching theme, or play with different characters, or expand upon the lives and complications of the main characters.

    Also, you will not be building a brand as “author who doesn’t complete series.”

    • Synova

      Exactly. There’s connected stand-alones and then there’s Mr. Martin. (And Robert Jordan, and…) I get that some people really really like the humongous epics so they’re not a losing proposition for the author but I too am at the place where I won’t start one unless it is complete.

      • Unfortunately, for every Martin, Jordan, and Prachett, there’s yet another Piers Anthony series….

        (Or at least that’s how it was when I stopped buying them).

      • I’m the same way. That’s why these books are a connected series and not the next goat gagger, you-must-read-the-last-book-to-understand-what’s-happening book like Jordan et al.

    • Dorothy, I know. I know. As I said, I already have the next book in the series plotted. Fortunately, these are books that can pretty much stand alone. So if someone misses the first book but picks up the second, they won’t be completely lost.

      The thing is, I have to take a break right now to keep the series fresh. The last thing I want is for each book’s characters to be nothing but rubber stamps of the book before. Besides, I have another book Sarah has been after me for more than a year to write — one that doesn’t have shapeshifters in it. Okay, so there’s a ghost or three and a mother who is determined to find a way to get her daughter to the ER so she can meet a nice eligible bachelor doctor. But this one is more in the line of WBB than of the Hunter’s Moon series.

      Don’t get me wrong. I know I need to bring out a new book in the Hunter’s Moon universe every three to four months. I just need some head space away from it right now since I wrote Hunted and Hunter’s Duty back to back.

      • Dorothy Grant

        Hey, some head space is a completely different thing than an abandoned series. I’ve been trained to wait up to a year between releases, so that’s not such a bad thing.

        And I have some minor reader-want impending: your sample was good enough to sell your first book, and when I have spare time, it’ll likely sell the second. And then I’ll be as unhappy as a wet cat if the series gets cancelled, eh?

        • Dorothy, I assure you, Ellie’s series isn’t getting cancelled. In fact, Sarah told her yesterday not to wait too long before writing the third book in the series — something I’d already told her. This series has been very loud for her and I warned her that when she already has a title, the rest of it isn’t too far behind.

  6. Slap mah wrist, but I had never heard of Naked Reader Press!
    I’ve written a blog, written a lot of mini-essays on Facebook and elsewhere, and finally this past May I decided to try fiction. I’ve done about 100 000 words since, two completed novels (one’s probably a novella, but it’s the first part of a series and the second book is underway). I began submitting as a serial to keep myself writing, began the second novel (totally different) before the first was done, and I’m editing both for publication as of now.
    I began publishing on a couple of free sites; am I a writer, or just a wannabe? After rewriting and editing, I’ll soon be ready for actual, pay-to-read publishing.
    My question is this: why is NRP a better deal for indie writers than Amazon?
    As for ‘am I a writer’, a cliffhanger at the end of book two got actual hate mail! “You killed off ? I hope your computer blows up!” Yeah. That’s a quote, except for putting a name in the space. Some were worse.
    I got lots of support, too. If you get that kind of reader support, I’d say that’s enough to call yourself a writer.
    The serial publishing got me fans. Really. It’s hard to keep my bony butt in the chair after reading some of them; I have this urge to just float around for a while. Some have followed me to another site where I’m publishing and they promise to buy the books once they hit a commercial venue.
    If NRP is a better deal than Amazon, I want to know about it, and why.

    • Synova

      I think I know how it works, but I’d love to have the official story from someone at Naked Reader Press.

    • Basically, NRP was set up to let our authors write and not have to worry about things like editing, conversion — for digital or print, cover design, ISBN purchase and registration, etc. We do all that and the authors receive at least 50% of what we get from Amazon or the other retailers where our books are sold. (The “at least” is contingent on what retailer is involved and if enough copies of a title have sold to trigger a higher royalty rate to the author.)

      Sure, everything we do, you can do yourself. Heck, most of us who work at NRP not only publish through the house but also on our own. Some even work with other publishers as well. Why? Because we believe in the adage of not putting all our eggs in one basket.

      For me, it is worth having editors, copy editors/proofreaders go over my work and having someone else worry about cover design — and do a much better job than I can do on my own.

  7. Should have been ‘the main character’, but I separated it with something this site doesn’t like, and it ignored those words. Sigh. Please insert them mentally after ‘You killed off…’