What Are You Doing During the Quarantine?
Happy May and happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.
I have to be one of the few people not too upset about being on quarantine. I work from home so this isn’t that different from my everyday routine, except I can’t go to the gym, the salon or church. I sympathize and pray for everyone who has been infected or lost someone.
Before you virtually yell at me, or gather ten or less people to come and beat me up, step back, take a deep breath and look at the gift you’ve been given.
How many times have you said if I had a little more time, I could get this done. Or, I need to finish my book, but I’ve got a presentation I need to get done for my other job. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but never had the time. This is your time.
Did you know if you had committed to writing 2000 words a day for the past six weeks, you’d have enough for a book? Or two novellas? If you continued writing until the lock in was lifted, you could have two books and possibly a novella or short story. Enough inventory to launch your writing career or if you’re already published…a new series.
I hear a lot of people complaining about being locked in and what they miss. This is such an amazing time.
During the lock-in, I finished a book and started another. I’ve updated my writing and marketing plans. I’ve been testing Facebook ads. This has also allowed me a chance to try some newsletter vendors I’ve never used before.
Don’t waste this time complaining or thinking you can do it later. There are quite a few businesses offering freebies or discounts to new customers. I tried a newsletter I had been wanting to try. I liked the results and will definitely be using them in the future.
When we went on quarantine, it effected both of my businesses. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really expected a huge spike in book sales because people were home. However, I failed to consider my readership. Quite a few of them have children which meant their free time was now being used for home schooling, not pleasure reading. So what was I going to do?
I really wanted to freak out, but I changed my attitude. I was in the process of finishing a book I wanted to in May. However, I didn’t finish it until last week, which means the release date needed to be pushed back.
Looking at what’s happening in the world and to my sales right now, I’m considering a different launch strategy. Possibly pushing the release back to late fall. If I do that, I would have the next in the series complete and release the books back to back. I never would have considered that strategy if it hadn’t been for this life break.
I have also been looking at additional revenue streams. I love print books. Especially hardcover. During this time, I’ve been researching other versions of my books…hardcover, limited edition and audio.
Here are some things you can do during the shut in.
Re-stock print book inventory
Order new marketing materials
Book future ads
Set up some pre-orders
Recommend Books on BookBub
Update a series
Write a novella or short story
Listen to writing Podcast or You Tube shows
Check out what other writers are doing
Support your fellow writers
Create additional revenue streams
Bottom line, concentrate on how to turn this negative into a positive. Don’t waste this time. Look at it as a set up for 2021.
Stay safe and wise.
OMG! I almost forgot I needed to post. I was watching the Hallmark Channel and recouping from Fourth of July eating.
Before I start with this month’s topic, I want to share something with you that will be revealed in the next few days. If you’re in my facebook group, Tracy’s Reeders, then you’ve seen the revised cover for A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I love it and the test results were very favorable. I’m excited to see how it performs.
The new cover is bold, sexy and tells a different story. I was about to upload the cover and decided to change the blurb. The original blurb just didn’t work. This entire rebranding process is sort of like that stray thread you try to pull, but it unravels and causes more anxiety. I’m patient because I know this is all going to work out.
I pushed the release date back a month because I want to hire a publicist to help with the launch. She needs three weeks of prep and I just finished cleaning up the final draft.
So here’s the cover:
Earlier this year, Skye Warren posted the Romance Author Roadmap on RWA earlier this year. When I finished reading it, I had a plan for the year. In creating the plan, I discovered, I had left a lot of money on the table in the form of boxsets.
I have one boxset, which is compilation of novellas centering around romance at different stages. It never occurred to me to create boxsets within my series. I started doing a little research and found quite a few authors had created boxsets out of some of their series. By that I mean, combining the first two or three books in a series.
When I finished, going through my books, I came up with four boxsets.
Falling For Her Boss: The Good Girl Part One and Part Two
Loving Her: What MY Friends Need To Know and Love Notes
Real Love : Generational Curse and Intentional Curse
Secret Love: Girlfriends & Secrets and What My Friends Don’t Know
I think this new packaging will appeal to readers not connecting with the original titles. I’m very curious and excited to see how this works. I’m still working on the pricing. I have to be careful not to overcharge and work within the pricing allowed by Amazon.
I’m also not sure if I should release the boxsets all at once or one at a time. I do know initially they will only be in ebook format with print only available on my site, eventually.
Time will tell how these are received.
See you next month.
I hope you are enjoying the last days of spring and are excited about summer. I love both. I’m a little reticent in my excitement, because I am so behind. As I have mentioned in previous posts. I had no idea this rebrand would take so long.
I am finally about to release a new book, the first since first quarter of 2018. The book I’m about to release, A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN Vol Two [ASGV2], I finished in summer of 2018. I received it from my editor late September or early October. I don’t remember exactly when. I elected not to release it until after I returned from the RAM conference. I knew I’d learn some things I could use, but still release the book at my projected time of December 2018. This would have been the anniversary of volume one in the series. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, because underestimate of the rebrand.
I thought the rebrand would be simple. I’d change a few things on the website, hold the new covers until 2019 and update the cover on volume one. All of which I thought wouldn’t still allow me to stick to my scheduled release date. That didn’t happen.
I could have released the book without the rebranding being complete, but I decided not to. Looking back, I think I made the right choice. I went through several covers for ASGV1. I knew changing that cover was going to set the tone for volume two. What I didn’t count on was a change in the story.
I like writing cliff hangers. However, some of my readers don’t. ASGV2, had a cliffhanger. I liked it. In fact, I thought it was a good way to sell books, but not in all cases. FOR ME, I think it works when the next book is ready. In my case, I knew the next book, was going to be at least eight to ten months out. I was in a Facebook seminar and had the chance to ask a bestselling author her thoughts on cliffhangers. She was not a fan and said most readers aren’t either. She said readers want a HEA. I was a little dejected.
What convinced me was my manicurist. She asked how the book was coming and we got into a discussion about cliffhangers. She told me she didn’t like them and most readers don’t unless the next book is available. I was deflated. Not satisfied with those answers, I did more research and was surprised how many agreed with them.
I went back to my book, deleted the cliffhanger and all the things associated with it. When I finished, I was left with a few wholes that needed to be filled. I really thought it would have been a piece of cake. Instead, it was almost a rewrite. When I finished, I had deleted A LOT, added two characters, revealed more of my protagonist personality and added approximately 5000 words. There is a cliffhanger, sort of with another character. She has a secret, but if I choose to give her a story, I have something to work with.
Now that I’ve finished, I’m having second thoughts about the proposed cover. It doesn’t feel right. It’s missing something. So it’s back to looking at hundreds of shirtless men. I guess I have to take one for the team. [Smile]
So what did I learn from this step in my rebranding process? Don’t get attached to your story or cover. I liked the ending and the cover I selected for ASGV2. However, after making a few changes to the story, I like it better. I haven’t selected a new cover yet, but I’m sure it will be more reflective of the story.
Target release day for A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN Vol Two, July 30th. I’ll keep you posted.
Last month I shared about my plans to rebrand myself as an author. This month I started putting the plan into action. Excuse me while I pause for a little childish whining…this is hard.
Now I’m back to my adult self. No one who has gone through the rebranding process said it would be easy. It’s more like masochism. How is it possible to derive pleasure from such a challenging process? But it’s exciting seeing the changes come to life.
I have another business and had the opportunity to work with a consultant and was shocked at what I learned about my business. I’ve been an entrepreneur for quite a while. I thought I knew my business, but in the back of my mind I always felt I could be doing more…doing better. So when the opportunity arose to work with a consultant, I jumped at it.
I thought I had my stuff together, but after the first meeting, I realized I didn’t know crap about my business. When she asked me “Who my customer was?” I gave my answer. Only to discover, it was too broad. I thought my website was amazing, after all, the site host, family and friends, all said it was great. They were sincere in their compliment. However, the reality was, my social media was a mess [Thank God Elena Dillion helped me with my Pinterest page before my first meeting, giving me one brownie point with the consultant]. There was a mix of styles. The colors and graphics were all over the place. My business profile had no cohesion.
When I completed the process with the consultant, my business had a definite brand. So when I listened to the RAM speakers talk about rebranding, I understood because I’d just gone through it with my other business. However, this was a little more difficult because the product that needed a new look was something I created. Something I needed to take a hard look at.
As writers we are very creative, but sometimes we’re not as objective to the marketing process as we need to be. I’m not saying you have to design your own covers and graphics. You do however, need to know what the trends are in your category and most importantly, you need to know who your reader is. And make the necessary changes no matter how painful it is.
I write Contemporary Romance with African American Romance as my secondary category. The books in these categories are similar. I looked at the also boughts for the titles I wanted to change and came up with designs I liked. The commonality for both categories was shirtless men or couples. My two most downloaded books have shirtless men wherever possible or a hot couple. Of course there’s an exception to every rule. For me that rule is having a woman on the cover. My third most downloaded book, has a woman on the cover.
My cover design plan included shirtless men, couples, bold fonts and eye catching blurbs.
I’m using stock images right now. I would love to use exclusive images on some of the books, but I first want to see what the reaction is going to be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stock images. However, if you can afford to use an exclusive image, do it. Most exclusive images give you a little more latitude in use. If an exclusive image isn’t an option and you can’t find anything you like with one of the stock image sites, there are several free sites with nice images. Some of the free image sites allow for a little more flexibility in use. I’ve used www.unsplash.com and www.pexels.com .
I have been in the creative lab and wanted to share some of the new covers. [These are all stock images from Deposit photos.] I have a little tweaking to do before making these live.
THE FIX UP…
I like the original cover, unfortunately, after a couple of years, the bloom is off the rose. The new cover was originally A Southern Gentleman Vol 2. The new image felt more in tune with the character.
I like the image, but the font is horrible. I’m pretty sure the poor font choice is why this book isn’t moving as well as it should. I opted not to change the image because I might want a new look when I release book two and what a cohesive look.
FIRST ENCOUNTERS OF LOVE…
This was my first boxset. It does fair. However, the image is similar to another one which does well. You’d think this would benefit. However, I think the other image confuses people or makes them think they already bought the box set. I’m going to try something I’ve never done before, a couple. I know the shirtless man does well, I’m hoping the couple does just as well.
Before I finalize a cover, I ask my reader group for feedback and then run test ads on BookBub and Facebook. The one with the best results is the winner.
My plan is to start releasing the new covers this month.
Next month, I’ll share all of the updated covers and talk about my production schedule.
It’s five days into the new year and I still don’t have a production schedule. I hear your screams. It’s not like I’m clueless. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it. Unfortunately, right now I feel a little like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz….”If I only had a brain.” I’ve got a brain, but right now it’s full of the other things I need to get done before I can figure out what I want to write. Okay, that might not be exactly true. I have a completed book I held back for a few reasons.
Last year, I had the privilege of attending an amazing conference, Romance Author Mastermind. When I say incredible, that is an understatement. I spent three days and evenings in total fan girl mode. I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to Lauren Blakely in one session and Carly Phillips in another. CD Reiss is so down to earth and funny. I tried to maintain my cool when I spoke to Skye Warren. And I was so excited to see Brenna Aubrey on a panel and leading roundtables. Wow! There were so many others I can’t even call all of the names. I also got to spend time with Maria Seager and Christine Ashworth.
Once reality set in, it was time to get to work. When I say I’m still buzzing, it’s not an exaggeration. I got a major wake up call. I went into the conference with a sense I was going to need to make a few changes. After the first session, I knew few was an inaccurate word. A lot of changes were going to be required.
Let me clarify. I don’t have to make changes. However, Whitney G…yes, I met her too. Side note, she was so nice and she brought the most delicious cookies for everyone. She asked us a simple question, “What level of writer do you want to be? Three, Four, Five, Six or Seven Figure Writer?” I have to paraphrase the next part. She said if you’re told you need to change your cover or make some other change how you respond will indicate what type of writer you’re on track to be. The three and four figure writer will hesitate and not make the change because they’re attached to the thing that needs to be changed. The five figure writer hesitates, but makes the change. The six and seven figure writer is making the change before they get to their computer.
I want to be a six, seven figure writer. If that means a rebrand is required, then so be it. Someone asked CD Reiss, “What about the readers who already bought the book? Won’t they be upset you changed the book?” I won’t use her exact words [Smile], but she said they already bought the book, you’re trying to market to those who haven’t.
Like I said, I went into this knowing there was a strong possibility I was going to have to make a few changes. However, when I sat down with Brenna and Olivia Rigal and asked their honest opinion about one of my covers, I braced myself for their feedback and got confirmation. CHANGE WAS NEEDED. I went upstairs and got to work. The following morning, I had a new cover. However, it’s not the one I’m going to use, but it got my juices flowing.
But that was just the beginning. We’re still talking covers. I was introduced to “Exclusive Cover Images.” Sweet Baby Jesus…I had no idea this world existed. Side note, I have been using stock and there is nothing wrong with stock. Hey, you have to crawl before you walk, but entree into this world comes at a price. [I’ll do a post about that later.] I didn’t know you couldn’t use stock on certain types of marketing materials [i.e, book marks, postcards, posters, etc.]. Let me clarify, you can if you purchase an extended license. That additional cost is plus for using an exclusive image.
Before attending RAM, I made a few drastic decisions. I shut down all of my ads…Facebook, BookBub and AMS. I wanted a clean slate once I put everything I learned in to play. Only thing is…you know how they say actions have consequences? Well, here’s my consequence to my drastic move…no ads, equal no sales…no money. However, I did have a clean slate.
I thought I knew a few things, after all, I do my own covers and graphics. I have decent book sells. But sitting in a room filled with women who have achieved the level of writing success I want, was contagious. I don’t see how it was possible to leave without wanting to get to the next level.
This all leads back to why I don’t have a production schedule yet. I completed the sequel to my best seller A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN before RAM. When I got accepted to the conference, I made a decision not to release it until after the conference. I am so glad I did, because if I had, I know the release wouldn’t have produced the results I desired. So here I am with a book on deck, but first book one needs a major facelift.
So this year, my blog will focus on my steps to rebrand and what I learned at RAM.
First step, rebrand Tracy Reed Author. I know who she is, but am I conveying that to my readers? I’ve been reviewing my covers and blurbs…first steps in the re-branding process. I like my covers, but RAM taught me, they could be better. I made a list of all my books and took a hard look…images, fonts, colors. Then I looked at them as thumbnails. Then I looked at the top books in my category. Doing the comparison was difficult. I took the things I liked and figured out how to apply them to my covers and style.
I’ve tried to do artsy covers. Artsy is nice, but in my case it wasn’t selling as many books as I would like. Funny thing, the image I selected for A Southern Gentleman Book Two, is one I had considered originally for book one. Apparently, I was on the right track. I went with another one because I thought it was too steamy. Talk about full circle.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been as open to change the cover if it hadn’t been for what I learned in the graphic design session with Regina Wamba and CD Reiss’ openness about her covers. I didn’t think I was the abs author until I was on my way to a signing talking to my mother. I have one book with abs on it and thought it was being down loaded daily because it’s free. This book has been out since Summer 2016 and hovers in the top Free 100 on Amazon daily. Occasionally it will spike to the top 15 or slip a little below 100. It didn’t occur to me it was doing well because of the cover. Who knew a shirtless man could sell books?
I selected a book that wasn’t moving to start the rebranding process. THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE, has a new cover and blurb. I posted the covers in the RAM FB Group for feedback then tested the options with my reader group and was surprised. Next was test ads on Facebook and BookBub. I made two ads, one with a shirtless man and the other with a blurb and the book. Do I even have to tell you which one worked? Next step is to make it live. Because I’m changing several books, I want to wait until more are ready. Anyone who tells you rebranding is easy, is removed from reality. In addition to the books and marketing graphica, I’m also tweaking my website, another reason I’m waiting before I make the new covers live.
Next month, I’ll share the evolution of my first covers to undergo rebranding and possibly my production schedule.
After everything they have gone through. Why now? Why this?
Stories that will sweep you away . . .More info →