This has been a challenging last couple of weeks. I don’t know where the time went. I’m going to keep this short. First, I want to thank Jann Ryan for the nice interview a couple of days ago. The timing is perfect. Her post summed up what I wanted to write about.
When Jann approached me about the interview, I was working on The Good Girl Part Trois. I was a little behind and didn’t finish it until a little later. Once I finished, a major problem occurred… an unexpected additional book in the series.
News of another book should be a good thing, and it is. But when you don’t have a cover, it becomes a problem.
When I wrote The Good Girl Part One, I quickly found a cover image I liked. While looking for a cover for The Good Girl Part Deux, I came up with this idea to use the other half of her face for book two. When placed side by side, you saw her entire face. Then another book happened. But I had a problem. I was writing another book and didn’t have a cover.
I tried not to panic at the thought of not having a cover. I figured it would all work itself out, because book four wasn’t coming out until summer. I forgot Jann was going to need the cover for her post. Oh crap! I was on borrowed time. My immediate response was to wait until I released book four and change the covers for the first three books in the series. I figured I’d do a special promotion centered around the new covers. I had a plan. I didn’t say it was a good one, but it was a plan. I knew what I needed to do… redesign the series.
I found a new set of images and created a new set of covers. The new covers were nice, but I could never get the skin tone right. I submitted the new covers to one of my Facebook groups for feedback. I implemented the changes, but I couldn’t get the skin coloring right. These new covers were quickly becoming too much work. I reached out to a couple of my author friends, and they gave me some very good feedback. One even sent me a photo suggestion. I used it to troll depositphotos.com searching for similar images. Within a few hours, I had images I liked, which could easily be tweaked.
This may not sound like a big deal for most authors, but it is for me. I haven’t committed to custom images yet, so I try to find images I can tweak to look like African Americans or AA images that haven’t been overused.
The new covers for The Good Girl Series are very contemporary, which I love. They change the entire feel of the series. As much as I didn’t want to change the covers, I knew it was for the better.
What do you think?
Old Covers – These were the first updates from 2018
See you next month.
Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
This morning I woke up to a daunting historical fact. Five years ago, I made a rather strange decision or idea to publish a title a month for a year. I’ve spoken about this project several times over the past years. When I set out to do it, I had one main reason, to sell more books.
I heard the best way to gain readers and sell more books was to write more books. I also heard it was easier to do advertising with more than one book.
When 2016 started I had one full-length novel, a novella and a novelette. What I didn’t have was a completed series, or at least a duet. I now know that was a big mistake. If I were to ever do another challenge like that, it would center around one series.
I have learned a lot about writing and publishing books. I think I finally have a handle on my writing style and what my readers expect from me. I write books that aren’t necessarily written to market. In my books someone is always wrestling with their feelings, raging hormones and how they mix with their faith. I like to hook my reader with something a little sweet and sassy so they can get to know the characters. The heat levels grow as the series progresses. In my writing world, the characters need to read like real people. It should feel like you’re reading about someone the reader would actually know.
I have three series and two duets I need to tie up. I’m not saying I’m going to tie up all of these collections this year, but I’m going to try.
I’m also guilty of using cliffhangers…another thing I tried to sell books. I think it would have been successful if I’d immediately released the next book in the series.
Last year I didn’t release a book and my sales suffered as a result. What did I learn from this…no new book and a lack of marketing my backlist leads to no money. I did however, participate in some incredible free promotions which gave me awesome results. My book Unexpected Love was #1 in one of my categories on Amazon US and UK for three days. I was on the roof. Both of my other books peaked in the top ten of their categories.
These promotions yielded several thousand downloads and sales which I loved.
I take responsibility for my low sales, because I failed to do adequate marketing and advertising. I refuse to kick myself for not sticking to my production schedule. I was distracted by a little thing called COVID-19.
So what is my plan for this year? I’m not quite sure. I know I’ll be releasing a book in February. My goal is to release the next in that series approximately three months later. I’ll also be releasing new covers for my Alex series as well as another book.
The other thing on my list is the follow up to Unexpected Love. I have the cover, title and eleven thousand words. Seeing several free copies have been downloaded and it ends in a cliffhanger, I need to release the follow up asap.
Before I start any writing plan for 2021, I’m going to take a few days, clear my head and make a reachable and achievable plan.
So what’s your author plan for 2021?
Happy December. I am excited to say I slayed my first NANO this year.
I’ve talked before about attempting to do NANO and my epic fails. This year, I made a decision and stuck with it. I am proud to say, not only did I do NANO, I hit the 50K word mark a few days ahead of schedule.
I kept a journal for the month. It was my way of staying on track. To summarize. My original plan was to take a few days off, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I wrote thirty days straight. There were a few days when I didn’t meet my word goal. Then there were days, when I got off of my writing schedule. I learned for the purpose of NANO, it was best for me to write in the morning. When I wrote in the afternoon or late in the evening, I got tired.
I also, learned some of my writing habits didn’t work during NANO. When I write love scenes, I usually write to music. However, during NANO, the music seemed to slow the love scenes down, but helped with the rest of the story. I think the reason some of my normal habits [music, the occasional glass of wine, writing at night] didn’t work was because I felt pressured to complete the task.
I have to be honest. I wrote fifty words during the month. Actually, it was 51,000+. I could have ended the story at 50K. However, it would have been a major cliffhanger and I promised my readers I wouldn’t give them another cliffy with this series. I think somewhere around the 30K mark, I realized the story wouldn’t be done at the end of the month. I did however know I’d make the 50K word challenge without a problem.
Do I like the story? Yes. I love the story. The only problem I’m having is that if I don’t get a hold of the characters, another book will pop out. I really want to end the series with this book. I never intended for this series to go beyond three books. When I wrote the first novella, I intentionally left it with a cliffhanger. I never expected, the second novella to end with a cliffy, but it did.
When I started writing book three, last year’s NANO attempt, I assumed it would tie up all the loose ends. The joke was on me. When I got to the last couple of chapters, it became obvious another book was on the way.
When I got inspired to do NANO, I knew this was the perfect push I needed to write book four. I also had a few thousand words to start with. I understand the point of NANO is to write a book. I wasn’t sure if it was a new story or complete a story. I asked around and got great feedback. In the end, I basically started from scratch. I think I may have used a couple hundred of the original words I carried over from book three. The rest were all new.
What’s the status of my NANO book? I’m approximately 20K words away from the end. I’m trying hard to end the series with this book, but if I don’t, I look forward to hearing what these characters have to say.
Will I do NANO again? Yes. And to make sure I do, I’m adding it to my production schedule for 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I did it. I officially jumped into the NANO pool.
I don’t know what it is about this year and the desire and excitement to participate in NANO. Maybe it’s the unusualness of 2020 or maybe it was just this was the year I was supposed to do it. I have attempted to participate in NANO in the past, but never followed through. Technically, I can say I did NANO in 2016 when I wrote and published a book a month, but I won’t because that was a different writing schedule. By that I mean, some of those books had been written over a period of months. The ones written in a month were less than fifty thousand words.
I am a proud pantser, but I am also a planner. I spend about an hour on Sunday or Monday planning my weekly schedule. NANO is the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I also research things I’m not familiar with or need direction on how to do.
Knowing I was going to do NANO I went to YouTube and a few AuthorTubers. The amount of information out there was overwhelming. I heard everything from stockpile your favorite snacks, stay hydrated, don’t forget the wine and coffee, meal prep, hire a housekeeper if a messy space is a pet peeve, post “do not disturb” or other threatening signs on your office door for annoying family, join a NANO community, exercise, have your favorite music and get plenty of rest. Oh yeah, and make a writing plan.
I thought my head was going to explode. I took a step back and reminded myself of one simple fact. I wrote a novelette in three days with about six hours of sleep, coffee and a couple of meals a day. I’m pretty sure I can handle fifty thousand words in a month.
How did I prep for NANO? I created a plan that was right for me.
Commit to NANO
Don’t just say you want to do it, but tell someone. When you give life to the task becomes a reality.
Join a group for accountability
This is one of the areas where I messed up in my previous NANO attempts. Having an accountability group encourages me to stick to my plan and make attainable goals. Thanks Charmed Writers.
I liked the suggestion to have snacks at the ready. However, prior to NANO, I was diagnosed as being wheat, soy, almond, cow’s milk and egg white sensitive. Some of my favorite snacks include those things. However, I found a couple of things that work, plus I have plenty of water, coffee and red wine.
Keep a journal
I decided to keep a journal of my daily progress. I also use it to keep notes about my book.
Set a daily word count
The other prep tip I liked was setting a realistic daily word count. I knew I wasn’t likely to write on Sundays, Thanksgiving and I needed a little flexibility for BFCM [Black Friday Cyber Monday] sales for my lingerie business. Exceeding my daily writing goal will allow me to skip a couple of days if I want to.
Figure out what to write
When I was toying with the idea of NANO, I had an idea of what I wanted to write…the follow up to my 2019 NANO book.
As I said, I’m a pantser so when it comes to writing, I plop my butt in the chair and let the characters tell their story. Last year I selected a book I wanted to write, but for some reason I never connected with the story. It was like the characters had gone silent. I switched books and the story practically wrote itself. I didn’t complete the book, but I did write fifty thousand words during NANO.
I completed my 2019 NANO book in February of this year and as of this post, it’s with my beta reader and headed to my editor this weekend.
I wanted to release the book earlier, but with the strangeness of 2020, I decided to push it back to February 2021. When I completed the book, I had no intention of continuing the series. But the characters said something different. I deleted the last chapter and made part of it the first chapter of book four, the book I’m writing during NANO. My plan is to release the books back to back next year.
I just completed NANO day four and I feel good about my progress. As of this post, I’m at 9002 words. My daily goal is 2084 words, but I’ve been exceeding it.
Here is the best advice I have for anyone wanting to do NANO…just write. Whether the words make it to the final draft, it doesn’t matter. The goal is write a book with at least fifty thousand words. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be completed.
Happy NANO and Thanksgiving.
Happy fourth quarter. We are a few weeks away from NANO season. I have received emails, seen blog posts and You Tube videos reminding me about NANO month.
A few years ago, I signed up for a NANO account and never participated. Last year, I reactivated my account and signed up to participate in NANO for the first time. I posted questions in some groups for advice and to make sure I was signed up correctly. I was all set.
I had a book I was working on and figured this would force me to complete it. I thought I was doing well. Unfortunately the words just weren’t coming so I switched books.
I figured the book I switched would be easier to complete. I based that assumption on the other two books in the series which were novellas. As I continued to write, the book grew. Every time I thought I had an ending, the characters kept talking.
When November ended, I hadn’t completed my book. I took a break and continued writing. I completed my book…a few months later. I also have the first couple of chapters for the fourth book. By the way, I never intended to write a fourth book in this series, but when your characters talk, you kind of have to listen. So, not completing NANO it worked out for me.
As I stand on the precipice of another NANO season, I’m faced with a very important decision…do I NANO or not?
I don’t want to make a promise and not follow through. Grant it, the only person I would be disappointing is me. Considering how things worked out for me last year, it might be to my advantage to sign up for NANO.
So what are the pros and cons to doing NANO this year.
I can’t figure out a valid reason not to do NANO this year. Writing a book in a month isn’t new for me. After all, that’s what I did every month in 2016. I think right now my focus is a little off and participating in NANO this year could possibly help me.
If I do this, does anyone have any tips on how to survive and win at NANO? Clearly my previous plan of sitting down and writing on a whim didn’t work, otherwise I would have finished my original NANO book.
Happy NANO Prep.
See you next month.
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