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How I feel after a new book release

I don’t often write reflective posts. In fact, I don’t really blog at all, because site stats have proven long ago that no one is really listening. This is actually a good thing, because right now I want to discuss something (hold on as I pause here for a minute to try to find the right word)… troubling? No, troubling is not the right word. Maybe…unsatisfying.

There. That’s better. Unsatisfying.

Often times releasing a new book, something that I’ve worked months and months on, day after day, hour after hour, is a wholly unsatisfying experience. I can tell you what I hope to see happen after I release a book. Of course, this is what every author in the world wants to happen once they publish a book. They want to check their sales that first day and see a skyrocketed number. Anything over a thousand sales (for me) would be spectacular. But, you don’t see that. Maybe a few hundred over the course of the day from all retailers is more accurate. How disappointing.

You feel panic. You feel…sad. No celebrating, please. I am trying not to cry. 8 months of hard work. So many re-writes, including more than 35,00 in a week during content edits where I basically had to ignore my baby for 8 hours a day. And what is it for? Some paltry sales. I begin to think of my rent for this house I don’t own and how I can’t afford it like this. I think of the electric bill which was almost $300 this month. We’ve shut off the a/c and are thankful for cooler temperatures this past week.

Doubts creeps in. Well maybe the book isn’t that good. But, no, I think. It is really good. I know it. I can feel it. Just to prove my point, I’ve sent about a hundred copies of the book to readers (something I’ve only done once before, long ago) and while losing all of those potential sales, I did garner reviews. Reviews, I’ve heard, is a great way to sell a new release. When readers come to your new book release page and see that pretty green text with a glowing review on Amazon, readers will snatch up that book quickly; far more so than without that text or with poor reviews littering the page.

What if the sales aren’t coming in? What if reviews haven’t seemed to change a thing?

So, you think back to your advertising plan. After all, it’s not like you just hit “publish” and did nothing else whatsoever to promote your book. You made the first book in the series free and ran a week-long advertising plan using Facebook ads and numerous other advertising websites such as BargainBooksy (a great site!) to bring attention to this series. Well, I have had great success with this free book campaign. I’ve gotten nearly 7,000 free downloads of this book, which is remarkable considering I could not obtain a BookBub ad for this book. BookBub is considered the holy grail of book advertising, in case you don’t know. Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to give away more copies of Take Me without a BookBub ad than with one. Perhaps I won’t try to rely on BB so much in the future.

Now, you may think: 7,000 free books – that’s incredible! It is. And it’s not. You have to remember how us e-reader folks work. We see a book on sale (or free in this case), and we snatch that book up. However, then we go to work and have dinner and hang out with our family and life goes on and in the meantime we snatch up other free/discounted books having long forgotten about T. A. Grey’s title. That free book never gets read.

I do this all the time. I have all kinds of free/discounted books I downloaded on my e-reader that have never even been open. Maybe one day I will get to them. But I doubt it.

All an author can hope for is that a tiny percentage of those 7,000 free downloads will actually open and read the book, and that they will like it so much that they will purchase book 2. And many book 3. And maybe, finally, my new book. By that point, perhaps 1% of those 7,000 readers will go on to read book 4. I am not good at math, but that would be, what, 70 readers? 70 sales, potentially.  8 months of work. Even longer since my previous book, which released last Halloween. Income is dropping steadily; little money coming in, and I may, if I’m lucky be able to pay rent for 1 month off this profit.

So, what can you do to let romance readers know that “Hey, y’all! I wrote a new book and I’m pretty darn sure y’all will like it if you give it a try! Try reading the first chapter or two! You don’t even have to buy it. Just try it!”? Well… fact is, I don’t know. I’ve been self-publishing since 2011 when this whole she-bang started, and sometimes I feel savvy and in control and at other times I feel like I’m listlessly floating in a very large ocean.

That’s how I feel right now. Like I’m drowning.

There are no real answers. And all of my problems are the very same ones that thousands of authors, bestselling or not, have experienced and will continue to experience for years to come.

So, what I start to do next is ask questions: what’s wrong with the book, why can’t I gain attention to my brand, what can I do better, and so on and so forth. I am a fixer. A problem solver. A strategist. So, I think about it. I’ve come up with some answers, not that I know if they are “correct” at all. Let’s have a look at them:

  1. No one is really reading paranormal books any more (unless they are bear or dragon related). Rogue Blood is a paranormal, therefore a lack of interest.
  2. Billionaires, bad boys, & office-contemporary romances are all the rage right now. Although the Blackmoore family in this series are definitely billionaires (or at least disgustingly wealthy) and the setting is definitely contemporary, and maybe some of the heroes could be characterized as “bad boys” — few readers will touch this series or this book. Because it’s listed under the “paranormal” category.
  3. You could say: “Why, T. A., simply remove the book to a different category, to which I would say no. I will not lie or be deceitful. There are vampires and Were creatures in this book. And perhaps a touch of magic, too!” Paranormal is as paranormal does.
  4. Bosses. Erotic romances with an office setting are all the rage. But what if I don’t have any of these kinds of books in my backlist? What if I don’t even have an interest in writing these kinds of books? What if I don’t believe in fad writing? Which means, I don’t like to write what everyone else is writing. I don’t like to jump on bandwagons. I never have. Then, that means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.

That means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.

Strangely, every time I have finished a book and I’m preparing to “launch” it, I always get the same jitters. I’m nervous about how readers will feel about it. I’m nervous about being able to sell any copies. I’m nervous that my book will be hated. But now, more than ever, I’m just scared. I feel, at times, like it’s hopeless; that if I don’t write in one of these fads genres, which is so overly saturated, that I will never be able to pop my head above the water again. There is no lucky coin to flip that will make you sell XXX amount of copies in one day. So much of this business is luck or happenstance. I suppose I wish I had more of that mojo right now.

Of course, not everything is a complete downer. As I said before, I am a strategist. A planner. And I do have a plan to rectify my situation.

That plan is to finish writing my Bodyguards for Hire series. There is one book published in it right now: Jace. It’s a fun, sexy romp. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did while writing that book. That on-going series is also shorter in length at around 50,000 words, a far cry from the 100k, plus-length novels of The Untouchables series that few people are reading. Since I have a baby now, which has upturned my previous writing schedule, shorter novels are the way to go, I think. I will be able to finish them sooner.

I can’t be writing one book a year. Even two a year is dismal.

So, what’s my plan? To pimp and write some more hilarious contemporary romances in the Bodyguards for Hire series. Gio (book 2) is set to release November 7th. If I can get it out earlier, I’ll do that. But I am trying to allow plenty of time for editing. Next up after that is Mac (book 3). I would love to have Mac out in December. Time will tell if I’m delusional about how much I can accomplish this year.

I am hoping to see an uptick in sales because of this series. Hopefully, more so than I’ve seen with Rogue Blood. I will very likely go on to write book 4 and book 5 of that series. I am thinking of some sexy twin Russian bodyguards who come to Miami for work.😉 It will be great.

Will this solve my problems? I don’t know. All I can do is try.

 

New Release from T. A. Grey: Rogue Blood (Untouchables Book 4)

Save 25% when you grab your copy before August 24th!

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From USA TODAY Bestselling Author T. A. Grey comes the fourth book in the suspenseful dark romantic series: The Untouchables. In these fast-paced novels, the world famous Blackmoore brothers, vampire royalty, find love in unusual places amid dangerous foes and painful secrets.

Known for little more than her beauty, socialite heiress Julianna Greenwich harbors secrets of her own. Not only is she a champion swordsman, but she’s harbored a longing for the sophisticated, charming Blackmoore brother Vasilius for over twenty-four years. When her father informs her that she is to mate with Vasilius in a fortnight, her first thought is not of happiness, but dread. The problem is that Vasilius, while once kind to her as a worldly man might be to a child, has treated her with nothing but disdain since the accident that left him scarred on his face. How can she possibly get this man to love her, when he wants nothing to do with her?

Vasilius Blackmoore used to turn the heads of every woman in the room. When the inclination struck, he’d take one (or more) of these women to his bed and leave them thinking about him for years to come. However, all that changed when an old flame scarred his face forever. Now, women can hardly stand the sight of him. And one of those women is stunning beauty, Julianna Greenwich, the woman he’s being forced to mate with. Unbeknownst to Julianna, Vasilius once heard just what exactly she thought of his new face. And he’d hated her ever since.

But what better way to find retribution than to seduce Julianna and leave her wanting for more? A series of misunderstandings, secrets and one deadly stalker whose madness leads to dead bodies, breaks down the barriers between them. Vasilius begins to think that a family with Julianna might not be so bad, if he can move on from the pain of the past and keep her safe.

Kindle US: http://tinyurl.com/gm2ueov
iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/hcym4lu
Nook: http://tinyurl.com/h7yz3tx
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jej6k7m
Read The Untouchables series today!
Take Me (Book 1)
Tempting Gray (Book 2)
Merely Immortal (Book 3)
Rogue Blood (Book 4)

Check out my USA TODAY Bestselling Bellum Sisters series for paranormal adventure, magic, and high romance. You’ll love this page-turning romance series!

Get your copy now:
Chains of Frost (Book 1)
Bonds of Fire (Book 2)
Ties That Bind (Book 3)
The Fallen King (Book 4)

ACCLAIM for T. A. Grey’s Novels!

“Ms. Grey’s world is not only magical, but erotic, enchanted, and deadly. In addition to the fiercely passionate female characters, Grey creates a fresh cast of male counterpoints who are seductive, gritty, rugged, and noble.” Vampire and Immortal Books

“What a hot sexy read! Jace by T.A. Grey is the first book of her Bodyguards for Hire Series and I have to say I want more! A contemporary romance with some sizzling erotica, lots of witty moments, a dash of danger and a couple you can’t help but love, this book has it all.” The Reading Cafe

“This story will yank you in and hold you hostage until the very last word. It’s a page turner that has captivating characters, interesting plot lines and danger around every twist.” Reviewing Vixens

“Bonds of Fire is … a wonderful story, moving fast and never stopping for anything.” Night Owl Romance

“The Bellum Sisters series … was a revelation! I instantly fell in love with the whole story and particularly with the characters. I found everything I love in a PNR story with the Bellum Sisters series.” Proserpine Craving

“I love how slow their relationship is to build because of Gavin’s insecurities (no insta love), and I love how feisty Alicia is. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Gavin and will definitely pick up the next books.” USA TODAY, HEA Blog

“This girl knows how to write a flawed alpha male…” Close Encounters of the Night Kind

Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is—the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate the Kindle…

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Fencing Swords Explained: Foils, Epees, Sabres…

Useful knowledge on fencing! Did you know there are different kinds of swords? Learn the difference between epee, sabre, and a rapier.

Fencing Swords

If you’re new to fencing then you may be surprised to learn that there are different types of fencing swords and different competition rules for using them.

I used to think that fencing was fencing and that the swords were all alike. Now I know better, of course!

Types Of Fencing Swords

There are in fact three different sword types:

  • the Foil
  • the Epee, and
  • the Sabre

In fencing, you always duel against the same type of sword.

Foils

These are light-weight swords with a blade that is thin and rounded, so very flexible. They were originally made from rolled steel foil (hence the name).

Foils are the most common sword to start learning with. However, that doesn’t mean they are just for beginners. But the discipline and skills developed by training first with a foil can be transferred to the other two swords.

Foil Fencing Target Area (Torso Only)When duelling with foils, only the…

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Writing a Pitch-Perfect Query Letter

A very helpful post on writing a romance querry letter!

Romance Writers on the Journey

Article by Shelley Adina

You’ve finished your manuscript. Now it’s time to send it out into the world. But before you stuff all four hundred pages in the mail or zap your entire file through Cyberspace, you need to take the first step: submit a query letter. Today multi-published, RITA® Award-winning author Shelley Adina is here to teach us a four-step process that makes the task seem (almost) easy.

I met Shelley at the 2008 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. At lunch and dinner the publishing professionals were spread throughout the dining hall, one at each table, and we attendees could chose the one with whom we wanted to sit. I’d done my homework and scouted out every writer of romance on the staff roster, so at lunch the first day I entered the dining hall and made a beeline for Shelley’s table. Only one other person, a nice…

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Shopping for Books: From paperbacks to eBooks

When I used to want to read a new book, back in the days of teenager-hood, I would often go to Walmart with my dad and talk him into buying me a book. These books were often Harlequin Desires (you know, the red ones!). I loved their short, sexy stories. Sometimes just how sexy things got surprised me. I still remember to this day reading my first blow job scene. Blew my mind, really. Nowadays, oral sex might be quite common in books, but for little ole’ me reading a HQ novel, I wasn’t expecting anything more than your typical loads of sexual tension and a good story.

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Of course the great thing about Walmart books is they’re cheap. I still remember picking up my first JR Ward novel there–long before she was a bestselling author and household name for paranormal romance lovers. Dark Lover was this eye-catching red cover sitting on the BOTTOM SHELF with a price marked-down sticker on it. Yeah, try to find that at a Walmart nowadays! I, being paranormally inclined, with a love for Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton (met her once at a book signing where she signed a knife for me), was naturally intrigued by the story of Wrath and Beth. I bought it and devoured it. And re-read it. Again and again. I’d never read anything like that. It was so good. The early pages of that paperback copy have long since fallen out of the book. Last I checked, they were crammed inside the book.

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Overall, I’ve had positive experiences buying books at Walmart. It was better, in ways, compared to Borders (how I miss them and their Seattle’s Best Coffee!) or Barnes & Noble, which was always more expensive.

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Then, I went off to college. Books were my only escape, but I had no money to buy any and no car to take me to the library far across the city to check out a romance. The university library certainly didn’t have a single romance book in their academic library. Much to my complete disappointment. So, I would re-read books I already owned, but as anyone can tell you, that gets tiresome after awhile. You crave that new book, that new series or writer that will keep you up late at night devouring pages like it’s crack cocaine! So I began writing my own stories (of course, that’s a whole other story) in the meantime.

It was while sitting in my dorm with a roommate that wouldn’t talk to me, lonely and depressed being away from home, friends, without a car or a job that I found Ellora’s Cave. I’m going to take a moment to say that I’ll be ignoring the stories surrounding EC, which are disappointing, to say the least. Instead, I’m going to focus on my positive experiences around EC–the first ebooks I ever read.

Not only were they the first eBooks I ever read, they were also the first erotic romance and erotica stories I ever read. And they were so, so, soooo good. Like really good.

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Some authors I found there, which to this day, inspire me and are among my favorite authors in the whole-wide world are: Nathalie Gray (hence where I took my pen name from! ‘Grey’ is much closer to my maiden name and at the time there weren’t any other ‘Grey’s’ out there. Don’t even get my started on how many there are now!), Michelle M. Pillow (READ HER BOOKS! NOW!), Lorie O’Claire (the best shifter books I’ve read in my entire life), or Lisa Marie Rice (who’s Midnight Man has one of the most erotic heroes I’ve ever read, not to mention one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. Period.)

These authors kept me up late at night, spending dollar after dollar that I did not have! Remember, I had no job, not for lack of trying, mind you; so I had to call mommy (who’s not exactly well-off) and beg “please, can I get another EC book?” My poor mom…but these books were SO good I couldn’t stop reading and it was my only escape from loneliness and my only way to read anything new that wasn’t already on my bookshelf.

Ellora’s Cave were my first ebooks. This was an age before tablets and e-readers or the Kindle App or Nook App. The only way to read these books was to be emailed a PDF, LIT or EPUB version of the story, then it was up to you to open your Adobe PDF reader or some program to read the book. You had a limited timeline to download the book, after which the link would die and you couldn’t get refunded! And you could only read the ebooks on your computers! I would take my laptop into the bathroom with me while I took baths to read. Talk about steamy bubble baths. Who remembers the days pre-Kindle like this?

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Before these things we had this thing called “a paperback book”. Look it up, it’s a real thing.

Nowadays, when I want to find a new book, author, or series to get lost in, things are more difficult. Maybe it’s the saturation of so many books on the market, or difficulty navigating at places like Amazon, but I found that I predominantly shop books by subscriptions I’m a part of. Places such as BookBub, ReadFreely, BargainBooksy, Red Feather Romance, OHFB, Digital Book Today, KND, eBookSoda and so on.

When I’m ready for a new book, I open the latest emails from these websites to browse books. They’re not all new releases–I don’t mind. They’re not always discounted by time I find the book–I don’t care. I’ll pay full price. But these newsletter and email signups make up about 95% of books I purchase. I make it into a bookstore maybe once a year and that’s often to make a gift purchase. Besides, there’s absolutely no time anymore to read a paperback with this little guy squawking!

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Me and little Peanut 

I guess this blog was a long-winded piece intending to ask: How do you browse and buy books? Let me know!