Natalie Bahm and Agent Sara Megibow On Self-Pubbing For a Good Cause

So, today I have a special treat for you guys. My agency-mate Natalie Bahm is here, along with our agent Sara Megibow to talk about the amazing project Natalie is launching this week.

Just to give you a bit of background, I met Natalie through blogging a few years ago. She is one of the nicest people you could meet (finally got to meet her in person this summer), and I totally credit her with having a hand in my own publishing journey. Because if you've ever read my "how I got my agent" story, you know I originally got to Sara through a client referral. Well, that client was Natalie. So I'm forever indebted to her. ;)

And now I'm more than thrilled to share her debut book with you guys. And here's the deal--she's giving all of the money she makes on this book to a family with a sick child. ALL of it. How amazing is that?

So read about her journey with Sara to self-pub this book and then go pre-order the book. Not only will you get a fantastic story, but you'll be lending a helping hand as well.

Now, over to Natalie and Sara...

 

Natalie Bahm

Natalie:

In two short days my very first book, The Secret Underground, will debut. Last spring I decided to self-publish it as a fundraiser for the family of sick baby named Jayden.  Only, I didn’t self-publish the normal way.  My agent, Sara Megibow, and agency, Nelson Literary, helped make it happen. It’s been a pretty unconventional journey and Sara and I wanted to share some of it with you.

 

 

 

Sara:

There are lots of great reasons to self-publish. There are bad reasons too (like giving the middle finger to NewSara Megibow York or because an author doesn't want to wade through the rejection process). 

Natalie didn't ask me, "can I self publish this book?" Instead, she asked, "how do I create a book that can be used as a fundraiser for a charity that I believe in with all my heart?" Since raising money for Jayden was our number one goal, we had to make a career choice based on that end result. And, I am so proud of this team because that's exactly what is happening. With each purchase of The Secret Underground - whether in ebook format, print format or audio book, whether from amazon or Kobo or Nook or iBookstore -  Jayden's family receives money for their much-needed health care costs. What greater success is there? We're helping a baby and his family and self-publishing is allowing us to do that.

 

Natalie: 

I honestly never imagined stepping into the self-publishing world.  I’m the kind of person who struggles to make decisions and gets really stressed over details.  And, as some of you know, self-publishing is all about the details. 

When I heard about how Jayden’s family was struggling, I knew I had to do something to help them. I talked to Sara about doing a book for Jayden and she and I discussed options. We decided that the only way we could get a book out quickly and send all of the profits to Jayden’s family was to self-publish. 

To be honest, the idea terrified me.  Luckily, I didn’t have to do it alone.

  

Sara:

At Nelson Literary Agency, we pride ourselves on operating in an educated and holistic publishing environment. As an agency, we keep up to date on what's going on in publishing and communicate any and all opportunities to our clients as they present themselves. 

This is a fancy way of saying that two years ago it became very apparent some clients were interested in self-publishing as opposed to traditional publishing and some were interested in doing a bit of both. So, the agency set out to create a system in-house to offer these options to our clients. The idea is that each client can handcraft an author career - combining traditional publishing deals with self-publishing opportunities as they see fit (with agent advice and feedback). Just to be clear - clients can self-publish on their own without us if they want to - we don't own their rights as a publisher would.

In short, the NLA Digital Platform was created just for cases like Natalie's - to offer NLA authors more options for their books. Like I said above, the number one goal in creating The Secret Underground was to have a book that could operate as a fundraiser for charity. So, we really had to be creative when coming up with our business plan. I'm glad that my boss and our excellent staff paved the way so Natalie and I could really benefit from everything self-publishing has to offer.

 

Natalie:

There were several major benefits to having the agency’s support.  The biggest thing for me was I didn’t have to do anything alone.  Sara and the NLA Digital Liaison, Lori, helped with every single thing—from selecting editors and a cover artist, to formatting files for the different distributers, to developing a marketing plan.

Another perk was having access to things that aren’t available to most self-published writers—like having ARCs on NetGalley and getting the book distributed to booksellers (like Overdrive) who don’t usually work with self publishing authors.

But, I’ll be honest, even with all the help it was still A TON of work.  Now that it’s done though, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I know it will make a difference to Jayden’s family and in the end, that’s all that matters.

 

Thank you so much for letting us visit, Roni!

 

The eBook version of The Secret Underground is available for preorder through Amazon and iTunes.  On Friday you’ll be able to order it from most other online booksellers (including Kobo, Sony, B&N, Google, Overdrive, etc).

 

The print version will be available Friday on Amazon. 

The audiobook should be available shortly from Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

For more information about Jayden visit http://helpbabyjayden.wordpress.com/

Click HERE for details about The Secret Underground

Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Ally is the only witness to a bank robbery in her small town. Unable to block out the memory of the robbers, a notorious gang known as the Gauze Men, Ally joins her little brother and a bunch of neighborhood boys digging a hole in her backyard.

Only the hole isn't just a hole - it's a massive set of tunnels snaking beneath the neighborhood and heading for an abandoned steel mill. Ally is old enough to know the danger, but she reasons spending time with sixth-grade heartthrob Paul is more fun than sitting at home with her worries. And dangerous it is - none of the kids' parents realize the tunnels exist, but the Gauze Men might.

 

You can visit Natalie and Sara on Twitter @NatalieBahm and @SaraMegibow

Here's a video to learn more about Jayden: 

Now, (Roni here again), everyone go forth and purchase! Buy for your family or friends if you're not into middle grade. It will be the best money you spend all week. And I'm sure his family thanks you.

The New Adult Genre: Here To Stay This Time?

Image via CollegeDegrees360 (flickr cc)A while back, I think in late 2009, there were rumblings of this new genre called New Adult. This genre would cover an age group often ignored in fiction--the 18-25 year old protagonist. In theory, it was supposed to fill in the gap between Young Adult fiction and Adult fiction. St. Martin's even came out with a call for that type of book. It felt like it was going to be a "thing". I remember all this distinctly because my friend, Julie Cross, had written a book that had college-aged protags (Tempest) and ended up publishing with St. Martin's.

But after that initial buzz about the genre, I didn't hear too much more about it for a while. Personally, I was kind of disappointed because I really like the idea of stories about that age group. So much happens to us in those years--it's rife with the drama of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, figuring out who you are, who you want to be, etc. All the good angsty things that can create good fiction. Plus, you can be a little more flexible with your characters because you don't have to worry as much about the rules that apply to YA fiction. So I was hoping it would get more traction than it did at the time.

Then, just when I thought the idea has faded into the background, 50 Shades happened. 

Yes, most of the buzz about 50 Shades is about the "erotic" parts. But honestly, that part was nothing new. Erotic romance, and specifically BDSM erotic romance, has been around for a long, long time. And has been a thriving sub genre for at least a decade. What was different about 50 Shades was that it was basically erotic YA. Yes, yes, the heroine is in her 20s but it READS like a teen character. (And that makes sense considering it was originally Twilight fan fiction.)

So back in March when I was chatting with agent Sara and YA author Mari Mancusi about 50 Shades at a conference, I jokingly predicted that the next big thing was going to be erotic YA. That's what I thought the book was tapping into.

And holy crap, you know what? I was kind of right. (That never happens.) Except it's not YA, it's New Adult. In the past, it's kind of been a touchy area--18-20 somethings having smexy times in a book, but now it's everywhere. It's a "thing". Look at the books that have done really well post-50 Shades: Bared to You by Sylvia Day (heroine is fresh out of college, starting her first job), Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (college student I believe), Beth Kery's Because You Are Mine (heroine is right out of college), On Dublin Street  by Samantha Young which I'm reading right now (heroine fresh out of college.) I also read Sheltered by Charlotte Stein earlier this year and it was in the same vein. I know there are many more, but that's just the ones off the top of my head.

Of course, these also have another theme in common--the older, more experienced guy. But that's nothing new to the romance genre. Most historical romances have that dynamic. And even in my books, I usually have a more experienced guy (usually meaning more experienced in BDSM) even if the age difference between the hero and the heroine may not be big. 

AND by total coincidence (seriously, I pitched this idea before this trend started rolling), my e-serial tentatively titled NOT UNTIL YOU falls into this category. The story starts on the day my heroine graduates from veterinary school. And my hero, her neighbor, definitely didn't plan to get involved with some "kid". : ) Of course, his plan doesn't go so well.

So I, for one, am excited about this trend. I always say that erotic romance and YA are my two favorite genres to read. I even started out writing YA. And it's one of the reasons I did a dual timeline in Crash Into You. Half the story is ten years earlier when she's in college, so it's actually half new adult, lol.

So this genre kind of blends what I love most about both adult romance and YA together. When it's well written, I really enjoy that coming-into-adulthood story where we get to see the insecurity and angst of being young and unsure mixed in with the ability to explore and take some risks, to act like an adult.

And with all this momentum, I'm hoping the genre is here to stay. Not just in the erotic subset but in general. Bring on the new adult!

So how do you feel about this genre? Have you read anything you'd consider New Adult? If so, what's been your favorite so far?

Fill-Me-In Friday - Best Writing Links of the Week

 

Fave photo of the weekTaking kidlet on a miniature train ride in Fort Worth yesterday. Kidlet declared, "It's just like the Dinosaur train! But no dinosaurs." :)

Alright, we've made it to Friday, everyone. Congrats. :) And since I had to skip last Friday's round-up, we have an extra long one today. Hope you find something worth reading.

 

On Writing/Publishing: 

 

On Social Media/Marketing:

 

For Gits and Shiggles:

 

What You May Have Missed Here: 

 

So that's what I have for the week. How was your week? What are you reading?

Your Facebook Page May Be Blocking Your Fans

Keep Out

Photo by Zach Klein (flickr cc)

I didn't plan on posting today, but I wanted to do a quick PSA about something I found out today. So on occasion I've had a friend or two say they couldn't reach my Facebook author page. I tried to send a few different versions of links to those people, but no matter what I tried, they couldn't get to it. Even if they searched for me, my name didn't come up.

Then yesterday I did a post on Facebook vs. Twitter: Where The Readers Are and I had more people have the same issue. So I put a call out on Twitter this morning to see who could access the link and who couldn't. Well, turns out, it was blocking anyone from outside the U.S.  Uh-oh.

So I did some research and discovered that Facebook apparently has a setting that defaults to only allowing people in your home country to view your page. It blocks EVERYONE else.  !!!  I was shocked to find this out. I've had this page for at least two years and had no idea. I always wondered why my FB page grew so much more slowly than Twitter. I figured it's because I'm on Twitter more. But now I realize I was unintentionally locking out a whole lot of people. *sigh*

Therefore, I wanted to let everyone know about this setting so that you can check your own page and fix it if you're set on the same default.

To fix this, go to your Facebook PAGE (This is not for profiles but for fan pages.) Click on the Admin Panel, then Manage Permissions. Then make sure there are no countries listed in your "Countries Restrictions" box. And select the button that says "Hide this page from viewers in this country." If you have no countries selected then that will mean it's open to all.

If you need more visual directions, here's another blog post with pics.

Grr. Kind of frustrating that I'm just figuring this out now, but hopefully you can save yourself the trouble.

And for anyone out there who has tried to access my page and had issues, everything should be fixed now. You can follow me here. : )

Am I the only one who wasn't aware of this?

Facebook vs. Twitter: Where The Readers Are

Photo by Ed Yourdon (flickr cc)Facebook or Twitter? It's a question that people seem to have definite feelings on. Most people prefer one strongly and see the other as a pain. In the past, I've made it no secret that I'm a Twitter girl. I like the fast pace and the simple interface. I like that I can follow a bunch of people and get a little nibble of everything. And frankly, I use it as my blog reader now since I never seem to have time to keep up with my Google Reader.

However, over the last two months or so, I decided to put more effort into my Facebook presence. Many established authors swear by Facebook for connecting with readers, and I know that people are way more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter.

So I begin to put focus on FB and not just by copying tweets over there. FB and Twitter are inherently different in the kinds of updates that "fit." I also made the point of keeping FB more reader-focused than writing-focused. Twitter is filled with my fellow writers who don't mind hearing about word counts or craft-related things. But FB seemed to be getting more pure readers, so I didn't want to bore them with the technical side of writing.

And you know what? Yesterday, the difference in "crowd" became noticeable.

I posted a question on both Twitter and Facebook asking what I should put on a stamp I'm going to use when I send out signed bookplates. One option was my tagline "For the Fearless Romantic" and the other was "Greetings from The Ranch."  For those of you who aren't aware, The Ranch is the BDSM resort in my series.

So the results were very telling. Almost every one of my Twitter followers said the Fearless Romantic one. Then on Facebook, every vote was for The Ranch. It was amazing how divided it was.

And then I realized the difference. My writer friends were going for the one that spoke more to "author brand". We've been trained to think that way, to have that marketing hook. But my READERS who are already fans of the books were thrilled at the thought of having "Greetings from The Ranch." One line is meant to "sell" the books to new people. The other serves to entertain people who love the series already.

So, it was an easy decision. Anyone who is asking me for a bookplate is already a fan. Therefore, this needs to be for them. It's not about selling someone new on the book. If this were for promo material at a conference or something, the fearless romantic line would be the better fit. So it was a lesson in knowing who your audience is for something.

BUT, back to the point, this also showed me the clear distinction. Twitter is where my writer friends hang out. Facebook is where more readers are. (At least from my own anecdotal evidence and what I've heard from other authors.)

So which one should you do? 

Short answer: Both

Longer answer: If you don't have time for both, do which one you enjoy the most because that's the one you'll probably thrive at.

But here are some things to consider and make a good case for cultivating both...

Why Facebook Is Important?

  • It's the most likely place fans will look for you besides your website.
  • Not everyone is a social media addict (like we writers are). Your every day person may not read blogs, have a google plus profile, a Twitter account, or a Goodreads account. But even the most social media averse person probably has a Facebook page. My grandparents have one, my parents have one, my high school teachers have them. I'm hard pressed to think of someone I know who DOESN'T have one.
  • It allows you longer updates because not everything can be said in 140 characters.
  • It gives you the chance to put up exclusive content and sneak peeks to give your readers something extra for following you and reading your books.
  • You only have to post an update one or two times a day. So there is more opportunity for interaction about one topic.
  • It's easy for people to share you with their friends.

 

Why Twitter Is Important?

  • There is an incredible writer community on there. Writing is a solitary business. Hanging out on Twitter is like the office water cooler. You can go there for gossip, encouragement, or just to vent to each other. 
  • Some readers do prefer Twitter and that will continue to grow.
  • It is a wealth of blog link love. Like I said, it acts as my blog reader these days.
  • It's more casual than FB in my opinion. Since you can update throughout the day, each update doesn't have to be super profound. : )
  • It's easy to share things via Twitter.
  • It doesn't have all the restrictions like FB. And your followers see your updates--you don't have to pay extra to "promote".
  • You don't get a crap ton of emails anytime someone comments on something.
  • It's less of a commitment for someone to follow you on Twitter. Most people won't "Like" a FB page unless they are a fan already. But many people will follow you on Twitter just to check you out and see what you have to say. So it's easier to introduce yourself and your books to new people.

Each obviously has benefits and drawbacks. But I think if you can manage both, you're going to find you have a more well-rounded online presence. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you and connect with you.

So, if you aren't already there and want to hang out with me, you can find me on Twitter AND Facebook. ;)

What do you think? Do you have a preference? To those of you on both platforms, do you find a difference in the "crowd"? As a reader, do you seek out authors on any particular social network?

Read the First Chapter of FALL INTO YOU

Hi everyone, just wanted to let y'all know that FALL INTO YOU's first chapter is now posted. : ) For those who read this in the back of MELT INTO YOU, you'll notice a few slight changes from that version.

Click here to read Chapter One

 

He’ll do anything for you. But you’d better say please.

When tomboy sports reporter Charli Beaumonde loses a dream TV job because she’s not girly enough for primetime, she’s determined to land a big scoop and prove her boss made a mistake. But when she gets too close to a football scandal and finds her life threatened, Charli accepts an offer from family friend Grant Waters to hide out at his place—even if Grant predicts nothing but trouble from his buddy’s hard-headed, uncompromising, irrepressible, younger sister. There’s one more problem…

Grant’s “place” is The Ranch, a BDSM resort in Texas, and he’s used to being in charge —even if that means trying to keep Charli in line. But much to Grant’s surprise, she’s intrigued—even envious—of his trainees. They’re the epitome of what she’s never been: sexy, beguiling, and totally irresistible to a man. Still, Grant doesn’t believe for a minute that the sharp-tongued Charli has it in her to be anyone’s submissive. But Charli’s already on her knees vying for the chance to prove that even the Master can be wrong sometimes.

Releases January 2013

Available for pre-order from Amazon  and Barnes and Noble!

The Return of the Serial Novel and My New Book Deal!

Hello, all. I know Fridays are usually reserved for my weekly links roundup, but I'm postponing that for a super fantastic announcement. :)

For those of you who get Publisher's Marketplace, you've probably already seen it, but this posted last night:



 
 
   Fiction:
Women's/Romance 
  Roni Loren's next story in her LOVING ON THE EDGE series about an innocent vet school student who joins her sexy neighbors at a BDSM ranch for one weekend of freedom before she starts her professional life, to Kate Seaver at Berkley Heat, releasing in serial installments, for publication in 2013, in a nice deal, by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency (world).

 

Photo by Robb North (flickr cc)Yay! So for those of you who are closely following my series, you may be wondering whose book this will be. Well, this is going to be Ian Foster's (from STILL INTO YOU) and Cela Medina's (Andre's little sister) story. Originally, it was only going to be the novella, NOT UNTIL YOU. But things have changed and now Ian and Cela get their own full story!

AND it's going to be released in the new (or very old depending on how you look at it) format of the e-serial. This means it will be released in sections. We haven't decided how many segments yet. Most likely 6-8, but we're going to determine where the natural breaks in the story occur before we nail that down. Each segment will be released once a week.

I am so excited about this project and about this format. I wasn't sure at first when I heard about the e-serial because I'm a person to devour books all in one sitting. But then I gave Beth Kery's serial Because You Are Mine a try and am finding that I'm really enjoying this kind of reading. Because the segments are brief, I'm able to finish one in two nights of sitting by the bathtub while my son bathes. It's kind of nice to feel like I completed something each time. And it keeps me immersed in the story longer. Sometimes I read so fast that I'm sad the story is already over. So this kind of makes it more of an experience when it's stretched out piece by delicious piece over time. 

So I was won over to the format. Then my editor contacted me wanting to discuss the possibility of turning Ian's story into a serial. I couldn't have been happier. Ian's story (who is going to be called by his last name Foster now--since by coincidence, Beth Kery's hero is named Ian too, lol) is different from my others. I haven't written a heroine this young and inexperienced before (though she's no pushover, Andre is her brother after all). It was a new challenge and a whole lot of fun. 

Dates are still floating around but this will release after FALL INTO YOU in late Spring or Early Summer.

And be on the look out for more people releasing books this way. The e-serial thing was starting to buzz in a lot of places already, but now that Amazon has released their Kindle Serials, expect to hear even more about it.

Here are just a few places that have tackled the topic lately:

The Revival of the Serial - Dear Author

Books on the Installment Plan via The Kill Zone

Ebooks anf the Return of the Serial Novel via SeattlePi

Beth Kery on Writing the Serialized Novel via USA Today's Happily Ever After

 

So that's my news. : )  

How do you feel about the return of the serial? Do you think it's a format you'll enjoy? (It seems people either love it or hate it, lol.)

The New Fall TV Season Starts: Anyone Else Gun Shy?

Photo by Sarah Reid (flickr cc)I love this time of year, not just for the break in 100+ heat, but because it signals the return of favorite shows and the start of new shows. (Though I will mourn the end of Big Brother summer deeply.)

And in the past, I used to look forward to finding those new TV shows that were going to grab me and keep me. Those shows that were going to become part of my weekly routine for years to come. Remember those? For me, it's shows like Friends, Dawson's Creek, Seinfeld, The Office, Lost... Shows that I can look back and remember the time in my life that they provided the background too. For instance, Dawson's Creek reminds me of making french bread pizza with my college roommates and all of us sitting on the floor to watch a new episode.

But in the past few years, I've started to grow wary of starting new TV show relationships. Besides True Blood and How I Met Your Mother, I haven't committed to anything non-reality show. And this is sad.

BUT, the reason why I've grown so gun shy is because it seems like networks give absolutely no time for a show to catch on anymore. You start watching something, get hooked on the damn thing and then 4-5 episodes in, it disappears forever. Not. Cool.

So I've taken to letting shows run for a while with the intention of going back and catching up if it sticks around. Of course, this usually results in whole seasons of shows on my DVR (hello, American Horror Story) and then I feel overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling it and never get to it. This also means I've missed out on some shows I know I'd like because I'm so behind now--Fringe, Modern Family, Bones. I still want to get some of those on DVD, but it's trying to find the time. It's a bad cycle.

But like a girl who still goes back to the bar after too many failed dates, I'm probably going to give a few shows this season a try.

Here are some that I'm tempted to try. You can click on the poster to find out more about each show.

Elementary (CBS)

A modern day take on Sherlock Holmes, that's a high concept I can't look away from.

 

The Mindy Project (Fox)

I loved Mindy Kaling on The Office so I have high hopes for this one.

 

Revolution (NBC)

A world without electricity. They have advertised the crap out of this one--which is usually a BIG sign that the show is going to end after a few episodes. Seriously, it seems the ones with the biggest budget and advertising campaign get slashed first. But I like the idea of it and I'm always in search for something to fill the hole that Lost left.

 

666 Park Avenue (ABC)

An apartment building where everyone made deals with the devil? This could either go very wrong or very right.

 

Chicago Fire (NBC)

TV Guide promises lots of shirtless firefighters, so yanno, I'm compelled.

 

Go On (NBC)

This is simply because I love Matthew Perry and am pulling for him to find something that works post-Friends

 

Nashville (ABC)

I'm a sucker for shows that involve music, but we'll see...

 

Partners (CBS)

This one is from the people who brought us Will & Grace, so may be worth checking out.

 

Beauty and the Beast (CW)

Okay, so I never watched that show in the 80s and wouldn't have much interest now, but it's on the CW and that station has a talent for doing shows that hold my interest.

 

Underemployed (MTV)

This follows a group of friends one year out from college graduation when their big time post-graduation dreams haven't gone the way they'd hoped. I saw the preview of this one and it looks like it could be funny. 

 

All right, so those are the ones that caught my eye. Which new shows are you looking forward to this season? Are you gun shy about starting and getting attached to new shows like me? What shows have played background to different times in your life?

 

*All TV posters from IMDB.com except for the last which was from MTV.com. Click on each poster and it will lead you to the source.

Book Hangover and The Book That Gave It To Me

Photo by Nanny Snowflake (flickr cc)So you know that feeling when you get caught up in a book and you can't put it down so you shirk all other responsibilities and consume the thing like it's the last box of chocolate before the apocalypse?

Yeah, then you finish it and you look up, blinking to take in your surroundings, vaguely remembering where you are. And the rest of the day you're kind of still half in the book and half in real life? It's disorienting. It's awesome. it's the sign of a fantastic book. (Or a serious illness.)

That's what I call book hangover. And I had it this weekend with More Like Her by Liza Palmer. I don't usually read women's fiction/chick lit (if we're still calling it that). I don't have anything against the genre. I just tend to gravitate toward more straight up romance. Plus, the women's fiction I've read in the past has always left me hanging with those darn fade to black love scenes, lol. Yes, personal preference, but when a story builds up all that sexual tension, I want to see the payoff. Just sayin'. But anyway, I digress. This book did have a fade to black, but the scene was so sweetly sexy and poignant in the lead up that I didn't feel short-changed.

So I'm so glad I gave the book a try. And if you're wondering how I ended up picking the book up at all since it's not my preferred genre (because I'm always curious about how readers find a book), here's how it went: Sierra Godfrey, who I met through blogging, mentioned how much she liked Liza Palmer's blog and her writing. So I went to the blog and really enjoyed her voice (and her 80s references) and thought "Hmm, if her blog is this funny, maybe I'd like her books." This was a passing thought. Not a purchasing decision.

Then I went to RWA and she was at one of the free signings. So even though I had my stack of books with shirtless mancandy covers already (score), I thought, "Hey, look. I thought I might like her books. Maybe I'll give this one a try." (Yes, I still go to the free signings at RWA. I know this is probably considered tacky by some once you're published and all, but yanno, me + books + free = an inevitable conclusion. My will is not iron. Sue me--or don't, I've already had enough of that this year. ;) )

So that's how I found my way to this book. And now I will pay for future books because I'm a fan and know that I'll probably like her others since I enjoyed this one so much.

So anyway, the book is fantastic. Read it. Laugh. Cry. Picture Sam naked.

More Like Her  by Liza Palmer

Genre: Women's Fiction/Chick Lit

Summary (from Amazon):

What really goes on behind those perfect white picket fences?

In Frances’s mind, beautiful, successful, ecstatically married Emma Dunham is the height of female perfection. Frances, recently dumped with spectacular drama by her boyfriend, aspires to be just like Emma. So do her close friends and fellow teachers, Lisa and Jill. But Lisa’s too career-focused to find time for a family. And Jill’s recent unexpected pregnancy could have devastating consequences for her less-than-perfect marriage.

Yet sometimes the golden dream you fervently wish for turns out to be not at all what it seems—like Emma’s enviable suburban postcard life, which is about to be brutally cut short by a perfect husband turned killer. And in the shocking aftermath, three devastated friends are going to have to come to terms with their own secrets . . . and somehow learn to move forward after their dream is exposed as a lie.

 


 

And I've been on a bit of a reading binge in between my writing binges lately, so here are two others I've read and loved recently:

 

 

Genre: Erotic Contemporary
Summary (from Amazon):

When struggling waitress Melody Dylan gives a handsome, lonely stranger a simple gift she has no clue her life is about to take a drastic turn.

The stranger ends up being Clay Powers, a famous UFC heavyweight fighter. Clay’s large build and dangerous fists have always intimidated. People in his hometown keep their distance and Clay is fine with that. Everything changes when a new waitress at the local diner buys him a piece of pie on Thanksgiving. Touched by the gesture when it’s obvious she can barely afford to survive, her warm smile and lush body churn up powerful feelings that leave Clay wanting more from her than pie.

Melody is running from her past and the small, country town of Garnet is the perfect hiding place. With an ex-husband after her and scars from her abusive marriage etched deep, the last thing she expects is to fall for a man who makes a living with his fists, but she can’t resist Clay or the tender connection they share.

Finding love in the most unlikely of places, the passion is undeniable, but Clay and Melody know their haunted pasts and unpredictable futures leave the odds stacked against them.

My take: Sexy and sweet. I devoured this one in a day. I haven't read anything by Kele Moon that I haven't liked.


Wife for Hire  by Christine Bell
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Summary (from Amazon):
He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

My take: Funny and sweet and just an all around enjoyable romp. Full disclosure, I know Christine. But I don't pimp books I don't love. Truly. You'll never hear me singing some book's praises just to be nice to someone. (If I don't like it, I just say nothing at all, lol.)

So anyone else get book hangover? What great books have you read lately? And what gets you to pick up a book that's outside your normal genre preferences?

 

Fill-Me-In Friday: Best Writing Links of the Week

Cave Silhouette

Photo via NeilsPhotography (Flickr CC)

*peeks out from writing cave* *blinks* Wow, there's light out there. And people.

Writing Update: How is it Friday already? I think I missed a couple of days this week. I've been trying to write with the Fast Draft mentality this week (not true fast draft of 5k a day, but writing without obsessing and going back constantly to fix stuff.) It's definitely not my natural state and I get walloped with the anxiety of it all at least once a day--what if I'm going in the wrong direction, what if I'm writing all these words that won't be used, etc. Ack. But so far, I haven't gone back, and in the last three days I've written about 7k words, which is a decent pace. Hopefully they're mostly the right words. We'll see.

Book Update: There will be official announcements coming soon, but I did get a couple of good news things this week. All I'll say for now is that it looks like you'll be getting stories from The Ranch for a while to come. : )

All right, now on to the best links I've come across this week...

 

On Writing/Publishing: 

 

 

On Social Media/Promotion:

 

 

What You May Have Missed Here:

 

 

For Gits and Shiggles:

  • 2012 BTCA finalists <--Want to know what crazy deep-fried concoctions have finaled for this year's Texas State Fair? I think the deep-fried cinnamon roll with bacon is going to be the one I get in line for.

 

 All right, that's what I've got for this week. How has your week been? Hope y'all have a great weekend!

3 Reasons Why Coercing Readers Into Newsletter Subscriptions Is a Bad Idea

Image via opensourcewayWhen it comes to marketing our books, all of us want a captive audience. We want to know how to find the readers who love our books and the readers who COULD love our books. And we want to be able to reach out to these people so we can connect with them, build relationships, and at some point let them know when we have something new out. And one of the traditional ways of doing that for authors is the newsletter. 

Talk to any marketing expert and they'll mention the importance of building your "list". The list being that group of people who have voluntarily signed up to listen to you. And this list is so important because a) This is your captive audience and b) It's something that can't be taken away like Facebook or Twitter (Remember MySpace? If you'd built all your following there, you'd be in trouble now.)

So that's why you'll see so many writers running contests that give you points or require you to sign up for their newsletter or blog in order to enter. You can give away a Kindle and get that ever-precious list to grow to hundreds, thousands! Whee!

Yeah. And guess how many of those people ACTUALLY give a flip about the kind of books you write? Exactly. They wanted to win the contest and jumped through your hoop, but they are not your target audience. But, but, but... you say. But they COULD become my readers when they see my kickass newsletter in their inbox. But they know my name now and name awareness is everything. But, but, but...

Here's the thing...

This is what typically happens when I've signed up for a newsletter in the past just to enter a contest or get something:

  • I see it in my inbox, don't recognize the author, I delete it.

Everyone gets enough email, and we're accustomed to deleting spam and advertisements without even opening them. Newsletters are great when it's someone I'm truly interested in. But if I'm not a fan already, no newsletter has ever converted me into one.

  • After I delete it a few times, I start to get annoyed and I unsubscribe.

So now, not only am I not interested, I kind of have a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like I was coerced into this subscription and now I have to waste my time to unsubscribe.

 

Why Coercion Doesn't Work

1. Email is a higher level commitment these days.

If I sign up for a blog, it's easy enough to scroll through my blog reader and skim past posts that don't interest me. But you do have a chance of catching my eye and maybe getting a new fan if you write something interesting. But if subscribing to a blog is like smiling at a guy across the room to let him know you could be interested, signing up for an email newsletter is like giving him your phone number and agreeing to a date. It's a bigger commitment. You don't want to date everyone. You hand pick those people.

2. It doesn't foster true connection with your readers or potential readers

When we sign up for something just to be entered for a contest, it's pretty clinical. Okay, what do I have to jump through to win this thing? Sign up for newsletter--check. Tweet the contest--check. This isn't introducing you to new readers necessarily. It's not giving them a reason of WHY they should WANT to follow you and get that pretty newsletter.

3. Newsletters are typically very fan-focused so play to a different audience than the group you coerced.

There are exceptions, but in general, newsletters are set up to play to that captive audience--your current fans. But if I'm not already a reader of your books, what do I care about exclusive excerpts or the cupcake recipe your character used? *delete* This goes deeper into what you should put in a newsletter. I personally think author newsletters are meant for current fans and blogs/twitter/facebook are better for attracting new people to try your books. But feel free to disagree with me on that one.

 

Can you tell I got one too many newsletters in my inbox this week? ;) I think newsletters are a fantastic feature to have added to your website. Many readers are NOT daily blog readers and like having a newsletter come to them to remind them that you have a new book out. However, I think newsletter sign-up should be truly voluntary. It's called "opting in" for a reason. And it's fine if you offer some freebie for signing up--an exclusive chapter, a free ebook, whatever. But have it be something that encourages interest in your books, something that plays to your target audience.

Don't just build a list to build a list; make it a meaningful one. One hundred true fan subscribers are better than a thousand people who really just wanted to win a gift card and have no real interest in you or your books.

So what do you think? Anyone else get annoyed by the newsletter thing? What newsletters do you love to get and look forward to reading? What audience do you think an author newsletter should be targeted toward--current fans or potential readers?