Marketing, My Books, Writing

March of Writing Madness

Lately, my writing life resembles the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Not only was January a wasted writing month for me, but we’re well into March and I’ve started taking backward steps in the final work on my romantic comedy. I’m no longer satisfied with the title or cover idea, and I’m having a devil of a time writing a killer back cover blurb. It’s all gone insane.

I’m trying not to get superstitious and consider these setbacks a sign I should set this book aside. After all, I have another book ready for final prep. But it’s not my usual genre and will be published under a pseudonym. So I’d really hoped to get another women’s fiction book out there first, even if it’s a much lighter read than my first two.

The titles The Brevity of Roses and An Illusion of Trust came to me without much of a struggle. They’re taken from lines in the books. But this new book has a completely different voice. Chelsea, my main character isn’t given to deep thinking and poetic language. She wears flip-flops and hoodies and says, “Ohmygod” and “Seriously?” That’s not to say she’s without depth.

Chelsea’s had a bad first year after graduating college. She lost her self-confidence. Now she’s about to lose her independence. But she has a hobby—spying on her new upstairs neighbor Jeremy, a sexy but secretive Brit. Oops … sorry, slipped back into blurb crafting mode.


As usual, it’s my lack of marketing know-how that’s brought me to my knees. Titles and covers and blurbs, oh my. I’ve improved at being able to view my work as a product rather than art, but I still don’t know what words and images will help them sell. (You’d think watching six-and-a-half seasons of Mad Men would have had a positive effect.)

So, I find myself all discombobulated at a time I thought I’d be assured and ready to launch another book. I’ll just have to keep adding to my list of possible titles, hoping one will shoot off fireworks. As for the cover, well, I might have a viable new idea, but I can’t finish it without a title. And I’ll keep moving words in and out and around in the blurb. What else can I do?

I do hope March is working out fantastic for you!


Author, Marketing, My Books, Writing

Could I hear your thoughts on author pseudonyms, please?

It’s been a long time since I blogged three times a week, but since my complete blog hiatus last December, my average was a new post once a week—until last month. In April, I blogged only once. I have a good excuse, though.

I’ve been busy writing. Almost every day. All day.  I finished revising one novel and sent it to an alpha reader. And then I returned to working on a novel in a far different genre. What genre would that be, you ask? Well, it used to be called chick-lit, but that term is passé. Let’s call it romantic comedy.


If you’ve read my other books, you know I don’t usually write light stories. And neither my recently revised novel nor the other one still in first drafting are anything close to humorous. So writing romantic comedy is an experiment for me.

I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it, but I knew that was no guarantee anyone else would have fun reading it. And because writing time is too precious to waste, I decided to test my comedy writing ability by asking for a little feedback. The verdict is a thumbs-up. Yay! Now, I’ll continue my fun project with more confidence.

But since the genres of the revised novel and this one are both different genres from my usual serious women’s fiction, I’m revisiting the idea of author branding. I want my brand to be good writing, of course. But for marketing purposes it’s said to be helpful if readers identify your author name with a particular genre. In my case, that would be three author names.

I wouldn’t try to be three completely different people. For instance, I wouldn’t use different bios and author photos (two not mine.) Though I expect I’d need some presence in social media under the two new names. Even so, that might be more problematic than I think. So …


Are any of you writing under two or more author names? If so, would you share your thoughts on the pros and cons of that, please?



Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Promotion

First Time on Sale and It’s a Whopper!

Last week I announced I was trying something new in book selling. Unfortunately, the wires got crossed (my fault) and the promotion through eReader Buddy didn’t happen, so very few people knew about the Kindle Countdown Deal on The Brevity of Roses. But since I’d already paid for a promotion, I decided to do something I’ve never done before.

An Illusion of Trust: A woman learns to trust love by facing her traumatic childhood.For the first time ever, An Illusion of Trust is on sale at Amazon stores worldwide. And it’s not just slightly discounted—for five days I’m slashing 80% off the regular price of the eBook!

In this sequel to The Brevity of Roses, Renee Vaziri discovers that even when your dreams come true your nightmares remain.

When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful child and another on the way, she dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures.

Is it her imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?

Remember that you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book. The Kindle reader app is free to download for your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You can even read it straight from the Cloud in your browser.


Author, Book Reviews, Marketing, Opinion, Promotion, Publish

Do you believe all’s fair in love and publishing?

If you’re an author, you’ve probably been reading about the NY Times “book reviewers for hire” article by David Streitfeld. If not, it’s the first link listed below this post. In that article he talks about a man named Todd Jason Rutherford, who ran a lucrative business selling enthusiastically positive, but fake, book reviews. He ran ads on Craigslist to hire reviewers, who soon realized they could write more reviews—and make more money—by not actually reading the books, but just skimming the text or Googling  to learn enough about the book to fake it.

Streitfeld also reveals that John Locke, the author who became the first self-published writer to sell a million Kindle ebooks through Amazon, bought 300 of those reviews. In addition, Locke requested that those reviewers purchase their copy from Amazon, so the reviews would have the “Verified Amazon Purchase” tag to add credibility.

That’s three hundred five-star reviews! Think about that. How much do you think 300 glowing 5-star reviews would increase sales? I have some great reviews and ratings, and though a few of the early ones were from family members and friends, the rest are not—and I didn’t pay a cent for any of them.

Yes, I know publishing is a business. Locke and others like him are undoubtedly smart businessmen. But as much as I’d like to make money, I’m conflicted and can’t look at my writing strictly as a profit-making product. I can’t subscribe to the all’s fair in love and publishing mindset. I’m proud of my writing. I think it’s worth reading. I want the opinions of readers to be genuine. I don’t want someone buying one of my books based on misleading reviews. I don’t want to deceive readers to make a dollar.

In reading about this issue, I realized this is another black mark against self-published books. Those of us who’ve chosen that path have already faced prejudice, mostly from other publishers and authors who consider self-published work synonymous with poor quality. Now, if readers think they can’t trust reviews of our books, we’re even more disadvantaged.

I also learned certain groups of self-publishers (and small presses?) trade positive reviews of books they haven’t read, as in, I’ll give your book 5-stars, if you give mine the same. Some time ago, I got caught up in the “marketing ploy” of trading clicks on descriptive tags on Amazon. Though tags only help readers searching for books, not influence their buying, it felt dishonest, and I took my book off the list the next day. I know we self-publishers are at a great disadvantage in getting our books noticed, but I would rather mine get noticed honestly and for the right reasons.

If you’d care to read more about this issue, follow the links below, but I have two questions for you. Do you read reviews or, at least, consider the rating before buying a book? And do you think it’s unethical for authors/publishers to pay people to write positive book reviews?

Fiction, Marketing, Reader, Writing

Misfit Writer

Excuse this sort of stream of consciousness post. I’m all worked up from reading about other authors’ successful sales. Earlier this week I was invited to a movie and lunch. Magic Mike was the movie. Most of you have either seen it or decided not to, so I’m not going to review it. The movie was fun—because gyrating men do make me laugh. But the point of this post is not the movie or the lunch that followed, but my reaction, as an author, to being in the company of women who are in my target readership.

One of the women in that group is from my generation and the other two are of the next younger generation. None of oddthem are writers, but they are avid readers and movie goers. They didn’t discuss Magic Mike except for a few joking comments, but as we ate, I listened to them discuss several other movies and books they had all seen or read.

Listened is the operative word.

Most of the time, I could only listen because I had seen few of the movies and read even fewer of the books they named. As I listened, I felt as if I’d grown antennae and a few extra eyes. How could I be so alien to their entertainment world? Or more importantly to me as a writer, how can I write fiction that appeals to them when I’m such a misfit?

That was not the only time I’ve discovered I’m on the outside looking in. I’ve joined several reading groups on Goodreads, populated mostly by women, to find that I don’t read the same books they do. Writers are told to grow your reader base by joining such groups, not to sell, but to let them get to know you as a person. But I join and then remain silent because I have nothing to add to the conversations.

I could force myself to read the books they read, but then I’d have no time to read the books that truly appeal to me. And writers have to read, right? Yes, I know. We should write what we love to read. But when you’re a misfit like me, is that good advice?

Of course I’m not going to start writing political thrillers or something else completely foreign to me. Nor am I going to start writing “mommy porn” just because it’s selling through the roof. That’s the rub. This would all be moot if I quit thinking about how to sell more books.

If I could just not care about that, I could be happy in my little misfit world—and return to my study of Magic Mike’s character arc.