Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends



I like the week between Christmas and New Year's because it gives me a chance to tie up loose ends. The chaos and rush, rush, rush of Christmas is over and I can breathe a sigh of relief because I've survived another holiday.

I take down the decorations and put them away for next year. I finish eating all the goodies without much guilt, because I know I'm going to start fresh on January 1st. I'll start that new diet and exercise regimen, but that's for next week. For now, I'm still eating, drinking and making merry.

During the week, I gather all the old receipts and bills that need paying, filing away the old stuff, organizing for the new. I take inventory of my freezer and pantry, making notes on what to buy and stock up on.

I also gather my thoughts. I think back over the year and see what I've accomplished and what still needs work in my life. My regular life and my writer's life. I make lists and goals and resolve to get back on track for a healthy productive lifestyle.

Looking back over this past year, all I can say is WOW!!! What a wild roller-coaster of a ride. My writing life changed drastically and all in a good way.

The eBook Revolution is truly underway and I'm proud that I got in on the ground floor. Or pretty close to the ground floor. With Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and B&N's PubIt! program, not to mention Smashwords and All Romance eBooks, a writer can reach readers and start making money with the push of a button.

And that's what it's all about: Writing stories and reaching readers. Now, authors don't have to rely on anyone other than themselves. Yes, it's scary, but it's awesome, too.

I've sold close to 60,000 books this year. When I see that number, it's hard to believe. That's a whole lot of ebooks and a whole lot of readers.

Yes, my writing life has changed drastically. I'm living my dream of writing stories, sharing them with readers and making a little dab of money.

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

BICHOK Monday


I put up my Christmas decorations yesterday. For me less is more, and I have a few treasures I've collected over the years that I put out to express my holiday spirit. Last year, I bought a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I've been collecting ornaments for the past thirty years, and since I don't put up a large tree any longer, I wanted something to display some of my favorites. The little tree is perfect and it gives me a warm fuzzy every time I look at it. I like warm fuzzies . . .

Here are my writing goals for the week:

*  Finish edits on Texas Two Step short story.

*  Make cover and write blurb.

*  Figure out if I'm going to participate in KDP Select.

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

BICHOK Monday


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I mostly chilled, but I did get my Mom's short story up and it's now live. If you're in the mood for a short historical romance, check out THE DOCTOR'S WIFE.

Here are my goals for the week:

*  Finish current current Texas Two Steps short story.

*  Send it to beta readers.

*  Make cover.

*  Make timeline and deadline for new Regency novella.

*  Post on my new readers' blog.

Happy Writing All!!!


AM   :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

BICHOK Monday


Happy Monday!!! I thought I'd post a picture of a deer out in the yard at the family farm up in the Texas Panhandle. My brother took this picture. Pretty cool, huh?

We won't be going to the farm this Thanksgiving. First time in years. But we're still getting together at my mom's house and I'm sure fun will be had by all. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here are my writing goals for the week:

*  Work on another Texas Two Steps Short Story.

*  Work on Regency Novella

*  Format and publish one of Mother's stories.

*  Eat lots of turkey!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lucky Thirteen!!!


Today's my birthday. Ack!!! Don't ask me which one. I don't even want to go there. I thought about ignoring this birthday, but that's no fun. So I published a new short story instead to help celebrate the occasion.

Texas Two Steps: Melanie and Blake is my third short story and my THIRTEENTH published eBook. Wowser!!! What a difference a year makes. Last November, I only had two Indie eBooks out. I was still a newbie and wondering if I'd ever sell enough to make it worthwhile.

I'm happy to say that YES, it has been extremely worthwhile. As of this past week, I've sold over 55k eBooks (which is apropos to the birthday I'm celebrating; but shhh, don't spread that around). Finding readers for my cute little stories has been an awesome experience. The fan letters warm my heart.

Melanie and Blake is special to me besides being my thirteenth Indie-pubbed eBook. It's also my first Christmas story. I had fun with this story; it was a joy to write. I set it in Stone Creek, Texas, and Trev and Beth from HER RELUCTANT RANCHER make a cameo appearance. It's always fun to revisit characters from other books. I hope the readers enjoy it, too.

Thirteen has always been my lucky number. I love Friday-the-Thirteenths and if I can choose a number for a raffle, guess which one I prefer?

Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Reading!!!

Anne Marie    :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

BICHOK Monday


Another new week. I'm feeling kind of puny today, so I'm taking it easy. I did get a lot of my list done last week and I'll continue with it this week.

I'm determined to publish my new Texas Two Steps: Melanie and Blake short story by my birthday which is Saturday. I like to choose memorable dates to publish some of my stuff. Makes it doubly special.

Here are my writing goals for this week:

*  Format manuscript for Kindle, PubIt! and Smashwords.

*  Finish cover and blurb.

*  Choose excerpt.

*  Publish by Saturday!!!

It's always exciting for a book to go live; to release it into the wild to find readers. Exciting and scary!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Monday, November 07, 2011

BICHOK Monday



With the time change over the weekend, I'm up bright and early this Monday morning, raring to go. During October Obsession, I promised I would reinstate BICHOK Mondays for those BIAMers who wanted to keep in touch and keep track of writing goals. I also find that when I post every Monday, I have a diary of my writing endeavors. And it's fun to look back to see what I was working on at any given date.

So what did I do with my extra hour yesterday? I cleaned house. Not only because it needed it, but because it's something I can control. Between sales dropping or maybe just leveling off (I hope) and receiving bad reviews (ugh!), this self-publishing venture sometimes gets overwhelming and I just want to toss it and walk away.

But of course, I can't. I'm a writer. That's who I am. I can't quit. The voices won't let me. And if I step back and regroup, I realize I'm living my dream. I can write my cute little stories and share them with readers and make a little dab of money on the side. I'm truly grateful for the success I've achieved. I just hope it continues.

Here are my writing goals for the week:

*  Finish Christmas story and tweak it
*  Send story to beta readers
*  Finish the cover
*  Write the blurb
*  Finish guest blog article and send it in
*  Work on getting Mother's Orphan Train story up

Let's have a productive week!!!

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fifty Thousand Ebooks Sold and Counting!!!

My Adventures in Self-Publishing

Well, it's happened at last!!! I hit the 50k mark last week and let me tell you, it feels great!!! Fifty thousand people actually bought my books. My books!!! My cute little stories!!! OMG!!! It's hard to imagine, hard to comprehend.

I read a couple of blog posts I'd written when I hit the one-thousand mark and the ten-thousand mark. I remember being so happy, so thrilled. And now I've sold over fifty-thousand ebooks. Who would have thought? Not me, certainly. It's beyond thrilling.

And the writerly moments just keep on happening. One of my finest writerly moments came when I received my first fan letter. Talk about thrilling!!! It came last April. The letter was from someone who'd actually been raised in the little town in the Texas Panhandle where I based my small town of Salt Fork in The Diamondback Ranch Series. Now what are the odds of that happening? Of all the readers out there, she had recognized some of the landmarks and wanted to know if Salt Fork was her hometown. Isn't that wild?

So many readers are wanting the next installment of that series of books. It's very gratifying and I'm busy writing them. Doesn't get much better than that.

I'm also having fun writing short stories. I'm writing my first Christmas story and it should be out soon. The Texas Two Steps are sexy little short stories of passion and romance. That's the tagline of the series. They're fun to write and I hope they're fun to read.

My October Obsession 2011 BIAM Writathon is coming to a close. This has been one of the most enthusiastic bunch of writers participating in a long time. Lots of writing and editing getting done.

Okay, I just wanted to share my good news. Fifty-thousand eBooks sold. Wow!!! And that doesn't count the 1500 books I've given away for free or the ones given to our military personnel in Operation Ebook Drop.

I've said it once and I'll say it again:  It's a great time to be a writer!!!

AM    :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The eBook Revolution: Signs of the Changing Times


Anyone notice something different in the RWR (Romance Writers Report) this month? How about that full-page ad on the coveted inside cover spot? Maybe I've missed it previously, but this is the first full-page color ad I've seen for an Indie eBook in that magazine. I'm pretty sure it's Indie/Self-Published. And can I just say: WooHoo!!!

Yes, I know the author is traditionally published, but still. It's an advertisement for a .99 eBook. And it's not just the cover of the book in the ad, the picture is of the book cover on a digital device, probably a tablet. Can I say: Wow!!! And also note, the author uses one of those cool QR codes, too. Snap that little code with your smart phone and you go instantly to her website. Is that awesome or what?

Oh yeah. The times they are a changing.

The RWR ad is the latest example of signs of the changing times. Back in May for Mother's Day, almost every Sunday ad in the newspaper featured an eReader on the front page. I'm talking about Target, Walmart, Office Depot and Best Buy, to name just a few.

 


And here's a promotional feature in last summer's Parade Magazine for Summer Reading. Notice that it's not a child sitting under a tree reading a book. Oh no. This little boy is sitting under a tree reading a book on an eReader.

Love it, love it, love it!!!






Recently in the comics section of the local newspaper, (yes, I still subscribe, but not for long), Funky Winkerbean featured a series of strips lamenting the closing of a bookstore. That in itself is sad, but it's just another example of the changing times and the eBook Revolution.

Of course, there have been numerous articles and blog-posts about eBooks and publishing all over the web in writers' circles, but the examples above are reflective of the changes in the "real" world. It's very telling, don't you think?

Yes, it's exciting times we're living in.
 
Vive la Revolution!!!


Anne Marie   :)





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Donkey Basketball: Not Just Another Fundraiser



While I was writing Her Reluctant Rancher, I needed to find an unusual fundraiser for my heroine Beth, who was trying to raise money to build a library in her small West Texas town. I wanted something different, and I remembered seeing a late-night sitcom where people were playing basketball on donkeys. It’s similar to wheelchair basketball, except the players ride real live donkeys. I googled donkey basketball and discovered that donkey basketball was actually a real fundraising business and voile! I had a great fundraiser for Beth’s pet project.

As I wrote and incorporated donkey basketball into the story, pieces started falling into place. Character traits for my hero and heroine were revealed. Organizing the event showed to what lengths Beth would go to raise money for the library. By playing in the game, Trevor’s dislike of participating in team sports was highlighted. And the donkey basketball game became a very important turning point in the story when Trev was injured and Beth discovered she was in love with him.

Writing is always an adventure. I had a lot of fun with this story. By choosing donkey basketball as Beth’s major fundraiser, key story points and character traits emerged just like magic. If I had picked some other fundraiser, my story would probably have been very different.

Here’s an excerpt from Her Reluctant Rancher:

Trev followed Dave onto the court. He couldn’t
believe he was on the back of a donkey. He concentrated
on keeping his balance, because he sure didn’t want to fall
on his butt like the police chief.

He reminded himself he was doing this for Beth.
Maybe he could make a couple of baskets and score some
points. Would she cheer for him? Would she be proud?
Why did he care?

The announcer finished his pre-game spiel and the
mayor won the toss. He passed the ball to one of his team
mates. The councilman took it down court, passed it to
another player. Trev watched the guy twist, catch the
ball, then slide right off the donkey’s back. Ouch.

The ball was loose and Dave dismounted and grabbed
it. He dropped it twice before finally remounting.
Trev sidled up beside him.

Dave grinned. “You and me, buddy. Go deep. I’ll pass
it. Try for three points.”
“Not greedy, are we?”

“Hey, might as well go for it.”
“Right.”

Urging his donkey toward the goal, Trev successfully
stopped the animal on the three-point line. Then Dave
dropped the damn ball. Trev groaned. The priest retrieved
it and rode for the opposite goal. A nice toss and the padre scored. The band played a victory song and the crowd went wild.

Damn.

Trev trotted over to Dave. “What was that?”

Dave shrugged. “I messed up. So sue me.”

“Strategy isn’t going to work in this game,” Trev said. “Next time, go for the points.”

“This is supposed to be a team effort, Callahan.”

“We’re on donkeys, for crying out loud.”

“It’s just a game, buddy.”

“Yeah, right.” Trev hated to lose.

On the next play, Trev saw a chance to score. He
stole the ball from the mayor and took it down the court.
Dave was up ahead. “Pass, Callahan. I’m wide open.
Pass the ball.”

Trev didn’t want to pass the ball. He wanted to score
the points. This was why he hated team sports. You had
to share the glory. Share the win. But there was no way
in hell he could take a shot. His way was blocked. Damn.

He passed the ball to Dave. His friend neatly avoided
two oncoming opponents and lobbed the ball. It swooshed
through the net and the crowd cheered.

Yes! Their team was winning. Trev was determined
to make the next goal. He jerked on the reins, trying to
get his donkey to turn around. The animal tossed its head
and stood still.

Trev tried again with no success. Was he going to
have to get off the damn animal and push him? This had
to be the craziest thing he’d ever done in his life. Who the hell had invented donkey basketball anyway? Whoever it was, he ought to be—

Before he could finish the thought, Trev felt himself
flying over the donkey’s head. He hit the floor with a
painful thud and suddenly everything went black . . .

***

Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie    :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!!


It's Monday again. Haven't posted a BICHOK blog in a while. Now, that doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I have. I finished the Regency novella and published it. Now I'm working on another Texas Two Steps short story. My goal is to get several of these up and then bundle them. So far, the stories have been contemporary, but I'm thinking about doing a few Texas Two Steps Historicals. Might be interesting, right?

So here are my writing goals for this week:

*  Write to the 2/3rds mark in my short story (or more).

*  Send out BIAM announcements for October Obsession 2011.

*  Print out Saturday's workshop talk and handouts.

*  Practice for Saturday's workshop at Boomerang Books (12-2pm).

That should keep me busy for the week.

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Release: The Viscount's Surprise



The Viscount's Surprise is the second installment in my Damsels in Breeches series. I really enjoyed writing this book. It made me laugh out loud at some places and cry at others. This little novella is a fun Regency Romp, and although I didn't set out to write it sweet, somehow the story called for more of a Traditional Regency style. There's delicious sexual tension and sometimes less is more. I hope the story provides a satisfying and enjoyable read for Regency Romance fans.

Here's the blurb:

Philomena Wheeler has been living a lie for the past twelve years. After her mother dies, she pretends to be a boy so she can work in Lady Hembrough's stables alongside her beloved papa. When she's promoted to the position of groom, her father thinks it's time to call a halt to the dangerous masquerade and wants to send Phil to his sister in York to learn to be a girl again.

Viscount Hembrough pays a rare visit to his mother in London. He's looking for a new groom and hires Phil for a one-month trial period before he returns to his horse-breeding estate in the wilds of Ireland. Under the mistaken belief that she's a he, the viscount takes Phil on a trip to inspect a promising stallion for his stables.

Will Phil be able to guard her secret while traveling with the handsome viscount? And more importantly, will she be able to guard her heart against a forbidden love?


And here's the excerpt:


Anthony held the door open for Phil to pass through. She kept her eyes downcast and her cheeks were pale. Her clothes had almost dried from the drenching she'd received in the rain, but she still had the look of a drowned kitten with her short auburn hair curling wildly about her head. Thank God, the innkeeper accepted her as the urchin she appeared to be.

Anthony placed his hat and gloves on the table in the middle of the room and waited.

Phil stood near the fire, and after the door closed behind the innkeeper, she turned to face Anthony. "Well, my lord? You wished to speak to me?"

He had to admire the girl's courage. She'd successfully hidden her true identity for years, and she must suspect that he'd discovered her secret, yet seemed determined to play it through to the end. "The game's up, my dear Phil. But your name is obviously not Phillip as I had supposed. What is it?"

Her green eyes widened and that damned chin lifted a notch. "Philomena, my lord."

Slowly, Anthony walked toward the fireplace. "Well then, Philomena--"

###


Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Texas Two Steps: Darcy and Gabe (Contemporary Romance Short Story)


TEXAS TWO STEPS are short, short stories of 6500 words or so. They're quick sexy reads, just the right length to enjoy during lunch breaks, soaks in the tub or while waiting in the doctor's office. 

Here's the blurb:

Ever since her divorce, Darcy Miller spends many a Saturday morning attending home repair workshops at the local Builders' Depot. When the sexy new instructor offers one-on-one lessons, Darcy discovers do-it-yourself is much more fun with the help of a handsome handyman.

And here's the excerpt:

Darcy watched as Gabe rose from his chair and stood. His blue eyes lasered in on her as he made his way around the table to where she sat. He offered his hand and silently helped her to her feet.

"Thanks for dinner," he said in that sexy voice that was beginning to drive her wild. His hand held hers in a strong grip, and his thumb rubbed circles on her suddenly sensitized skin.

"I want to kiss you, Darcy. I know we've just met, but I need to kiss you." He pulled her against his big hard-muscled body, wrapped his strong arms around her and lowered his mouth to hers.

###

Happy Reading!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Operation eBook Drop


From the first moment I heard about Operation eBook Drop, I wanted to be a part of it. For more than a year, life got in the way, but I finally joined the program this past month.

Operation eBook Drop allows authors to give away free books to service men and women all over the world. It was the brainchild of Edward Patterson, and then Mark Coker and Smashwords got in on the deal. Almost one thousand authors have donated over three million free ebooks to our troops. Is that awesome, or what? For more information go here and here.

I put all of my books for free in the program. I've emailed my Smashwords coupons to all the troops on my lists. I'm honored to participate and can't tell you the thrill I experience whenever I see some of those coupons redeemed. To think that I'm possibly giving a little bit of joy and entertainment to the men and women serving our country makes me very happy.

But the best thing to come of it so far was when I received a thank you note from a certain major in Afghanistan expressing her appreciation . . . well, it brought tears to my eyes, let me tell you. She's putting her life on the line for our country; I just wrote a few little romance stories. No comparison, really.

Operation eBook Drop is a wonderful program. I feel like I'm doing my little part (very little part) in helping the troops. Check it out!!!

Happy Reading Troops!!!


Anne Marie   :)





Monday, August 08, 2011

Celebrating My One Year Anniversary of Indie Publishing: A Retrospective/Looking Back



Saturday marked my one year anniversary as an Indie Author. I jumped into this self-publishing adventure on August 6, 2010. I chose that date because it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Easy to remember and it makes the day doubly special.

It's been a roller coaster of a ride; the emotional ups and downs literally taking my breath away. People say self-publishing is easy, but they're wrong. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and courage. You must be brave to release your books and stories into the wild. Getting your babies out there makes you feel exhilarated, as well as vulnerable. No, it's not for the faint of heart.

That said, let's take a look back at the past year. (And since I don't want to reinvent the wheel, I'll be cutting and pasting a bit from a couple of previous posts to save time.)

First off, I need to say I had a "backlist" of nine books that I wanted to publish. I've been writing a long time. I had been submitting to agents and editors, entering RWA contests and placing in a few. I even received a phone call from a Harlequin editor in New York. Not THE CALL, but A CALL. Thrilling, I must say. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I got close, but no cigar.

Then along came digital publishing and the small ePresses. I was lucky enough to sell to The Wild Rose Press and I liked being an eBook author. I didn't sell much and thought there had to be a better way. 

And then came Kindle and Direct Publishing. Bingo!!!

I started out with one book, my Traditional Regency MIDNIGHT MY LOVE on August 6, 2010. I priced it at $2.99 so I would get the 70% royalty from Amazon. It was extremely gratifying to get my first sale on Smashwords literally minutes after uploading it. I sold about 6 on Smashwords and 9 on Amazon during the month of August.

I uploaded my second book, THE DOCTOR WEARS A STETSON, the third week in September. The price was still at $2.99 and for the whole month I only sold 4 on Amazon (total for both books) and 3 on Smashwords. A little disheartening, but not totally disillusioning.

In October, I dropped the price of MIDNIGHT MY LOVE to 99 cents as an experiment and left the other book at $2.99. Sales picked up and I sold 17 copies of the Regency and 7 copies of the Western.  Smashwords sales were few and far between. I probably sold about 5 copies that month.

Not really wanting to sell my book so cheaply, I raised the price back up for November. As a result, I only sold 9 books (total for both books) on Amazon; maybe 3 or so on Smashwords.

Everyone in the Indie Author Community was excited about December 2010 with the explosion of holiday sales of Kindles and Nooks. I remember I was eagerly waiting to hit that 100 ebook sales mark.

On December 12, I released my third book, THE COWBOY'S SURRENDER. Biting the bullet, I dropped the prices on all three books to 99 cents to see what would happen. BOOM!!! Sales rose dramatically. At this time, I also uploaded all three books directly onto B&N's Pubit! instead of going through Smashwords. Immediately, I began selling more books for the Nook than Kindle.

I sold over 200 books in December. Could it get any better? Oh yeah.

In January, I released a fourth book, ADAM'S TEMPTATION. Price? Well, I started out at $2.99. After a week of no sales, I dropped it to $1.99 then to 99 cents. That book was slow finding its way in the ranks, but the other three books went through the roof!!!  I sold 643 books in the month of January, twice as many at B&N than on Amazon.
(Alas, this did not continue. Sales dropped off at B&N for some unaccountable reason.)

On February 6, 
I hit my first big milestone: One thousand ebooks sold!!! I was pretty much in shock. And SO happy!!! Sales at Amazon started to catch up to my sales at B&N.

The last week in February, I released my fifth book, A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. This is the third book in my Diamondback Ranch series. I decided to charge $2.99 since the other two were selling so well. And it worked!!! Readers were buying all three books in the series. AND LOVING THEM!!! An author's dream come true.

On St. Patrick's Day, I released my first Regency novella, TO HIS LADY'S RESCUE. This is when things started taking off. I sold over 4000 books in March and gave 500 away for free on Smashwords. By the end of March, I had sold over 6000 ebooks total.

One month later on April 16th, I hit another milestone: TEN THOUSAND EBOOKS SOLD!!! Sales exploded on Amazon.  I had two books on the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. My westerns were also making the lists. I sold 8200 ebooks in the month of April. My little novella was selling through the roof. 

It was a funny thing though. Readers either loved or hated it.  It was around this time that I received my first one-star review and it was for the little novella. I was devastated. I wanted to pull it. I posted on the Kindle Boards asking how other authors coped with bad reviews and received awesome support and hand-holding. I also received my first Random Act of Kindleness. Another Regency author had read my book and wrote a great five-star review. Life was good.

Earlier in the year, I had asked for and received my rights back to the two books I had published with TWRP.  On May 3, I published/rereleased HER RELUCTANT RANCHER. I decided to charge $2.99 since it had already been "vetted" and published. It sold more books in that one month than the 2 1/2 years at the small ePress.

May was my best month ever!!! I sold almost 10,000 eBooks that month. Awesome!!! I finally felt like a successful author.

On May 31, I published TEXAN UNDERCOVER. I started it out at $2.99, but quickly dropped the price to 99 cents. (More about my pricing strategy later.)

I published/rereleased the last book in my backlist, TALL DARK AND TEXAN, on June 2. I put it up for $2.99. In the month of June, I sold over 9000 eBooks.

What goes up, must come down. This is where the not for the faint of heart comes into play.

The third week of June, I gave a workshop at my local RWA Chapter on SELF-PUBLISHING: THE NEW PARADIGM/Living My Dream. (You can read excerpts Part One and Part Two here.) I'm glad I gave it when I did, because it wasn't long after that the summer slump settled in and my sales started decreasing.

Not fun. You know, it's great when your books are selling like hotcakes and all's right with the world. It's a whole nuther thing when sales start to tank. Interestingly, as my sales declined on Amazon, they started picking up on B&N. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. Not for the faint of heart.

I shouldn't complain too much. In July, I sold over 5000 eBooks. I gave 1000 away for free on Smashwords. I've sold close to 40,000 eBooks total. But watching my sales decrease by 50% and more is not a good feeling, let me tell you.

I try to put it all in perspective. I started out this venture with the goal of making around 300-400 dollars a month. I'm doing that and more. Readers are reading my books. I'm writing what I enjoy writing and finding like-minded people who enjoy reading what I write.

It is truly an awesome time to be a writer. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I published my tenth eBook and first short story--TEXAS TWO STEPS: DARCY AND GABE.

I'm looking forward to the next year. My goal is to release ten more stories of various lengths. I plan to charge $2.99 for my novels and 99 cents for my shorter works. I'm positioning myself for this next holiday season and beyond.

The eBook sensation is revolutionary. More and more people are going to switch over to digital reading devices, and that will hopefully be more readers for all of us. Writers need to write and publish and be ready for them. That's exactly what I plan to do.


Happy Writing and Reading and Publishing!!!


AM   :)



Monday, August 01, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!! Comparing 2006 Writing Goals to My Present Day Goals


I'm getting ready to treat my house to a deep cleaning. I'm going to spend a little of my hard-earned book money on a professional maid service. Since I'm now seriously writing again and spending hours at the computer, my house is not getting cleaned by me. And a dirty house weighs me and my muse down.

That said, naturally I have to "clean" before the cleaning ladies come. No, I'm not going crazy. But they can't sort through piles of papers and junk. And they can't clean with those piles everywhere, so I enlisted hubby's help and we're sorting through some of the mess.

Which leads me to the gist of this post. I came across a list I'd made back in 2006. I'm a great list maker. The list is on the back of an envelope and it's entitled Writing Goals.

Wow! How different that list reads compared to my Monday BICHOK lists.

Here's a sample of what I was working on five years ago when I was pursuing traditional publishing:

*  Finish tweaking CHASING THE MOONLIGHT
*  Send it to Harlequin
*  Enter the Emily Contest
*  Enter the Golden Heart.
*  Enter the Harlequin American Contest
*  Submit to Samhain
*  Take online class
*  Plan website

I was just starting to enter contests back then and didn't really enter that many. I never could justify the expense. Although, I did get a couple of requests from editors and finaled in a few, nothing ever came of it.

What a difference a few years makes!!! Now I'm writing and publishing my stories and finding readers. I LOVE it!!!

Here are my writing goals for this week:

*  Finish writing short story (see, I didn't even write short stories or novellas back then. Not much of a market in 2006.)
*  Tweak it and send to beta readers
*  Get ready to publish it
*  Add blurbs and clickable links to published books
*  Finish article for newsletter
*  Practice making book covers on PowerPoint
*  Tweak Regency novella
*  Start new story

You can see right off there are fundamental differences between the two lists.  I had no control over most of the items on the first list; success was left up to chance. The second list emphasizes the empowerment Independent/Self-publishing gives me. I'm in control. I have the power and success depends completely on me. Kind of scary. And exciting.

Oh yes. It's a great time to be an author!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part Two

Living My Dream


The publishing industry is in a great state of change. There is truly a revolution going on. Not since the invention of the printing press has such vast changes occurred with such far-reaching consequences. When Gutenberg introduced his moveable-type machine, it made books economically available to the masses. Now, I'm sure there were many die-hards lamenting the demise of hand-inscribed tomes. I can hear them grumbling and moaning about how the quality of the machine-printed books were horrible compared to those beautiful expensive books meticulously copied out by the monks in the abbeys. And God forbid, now the great-unwashed hordes would have access to knowledge heretofore available only to the aristocracy. Social order was threatened. The world as they knew it was at an end.

See any similarities to what is happening in the publishing industry today? I say that with tongue in cheek, but in a way, the same thing is happening now.

Self-publishing used to be a BIG NO-NO. There was a stigma attached and still is to some degree. Writers were convinced it could end their careers. Some still do. Recently, in an article in Publisher's Weekly or New York Times, I can't remember, they referred to self-publishing as "previously scorned". Earlier this year, RWA sent out a survey on self-publishing. That was certainly interesting. And even my own HBA RWA Chapter newsletter reports on the progress of the members who have taken the plunge into independent publishing.

In some circles, it's cool to self-publish. OMG! I'm finally one of the cool kids. I've never been one of the cool kids in my entire life. I like it. You might like it, too.

There really is no reason NOT to self-publish. If you've been previously published and have a backlist or books that didn't sell, you could be sitting on a gold mine. If you are seeking a traditional publishing contract, you should go ahead and self-publish and earn money while you wait. It's the new slush pile. Agents and editors search through the Amazon Bestseller Lists looking for new talent. Many Indies have been offered, and some have even accepted, signing deals with big publishing houses.

You need to decide what traditional publishing can do for you. How long will bookstores, as we know them, be in business? Borders is history and the repercussions of its closing will soon be felt.

If you sign a book deal today, your book won't be published for 12-18 months. You could be making money during that time equal to or more than some advances. Besides, most traditional authors are expected to do their own promotion now. Many editors aren't really editing anymore. And I hear midlist authors, right and left, are getting royally screwed.

The readers are the new gatekeepers. NY isn't the only one deciding what gets published any longer or what is worthy to be made available to the masses. The readers decide. And that's how it should be. It's all about the readers.

I'm selling more books each month than I ever dreamed possible. When I was published with a small ePress, I didn't feel like I was a successful author. Sure, they were RWA approved, but I wasn't selling books and I wasn't connecting with readers. I'm doing that now, on my own, and I finally feel successful.

Self-publishing doesn't have to be expensive. I do my own covers, format my manuscripts, write my own blurbs, upload to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to Apple, Kobo, and many other channels.

If you feel you don't have the computer savvy or skill to do it yourself, you can hire out cover art, editing, formatting and uploading. It's not that expensive. But be sure to pay a one-time fee. Do not pay someone a percentage of your sales for eternity for doing something that only takes a couple of hours or at most a couple of days or a week. That is just crazy.

What about validation?

Perhaps you think you will somehow be validated when you land that traditional contract. I don't know; that isn't my dream anymore. For me, selling thousands of books is validation. Knowing thousands of people are reading and enjoying my stories is validation. Fan letters are validation. Four and five star reviews are validation. (On the other hand, one star reviews just plain suck.) Seeing my books on the Bestseller lists on Amazon is validation. The money deposited into my checking account? Priceless.

I've never been a team player. I don't like to write to committee. The freedom to write and publish what I like to read and write is liberating. And I've found readers who actually like what I like. I don't have to bow down and submit to editors and agents, practically begging to be noticed. I don't have to write something dictated by NY. I write for myself first, then share my stories with the readers, with no middle man involved.

What about quality?

Yes, there is a lot of crap out there. But there's a lot of crap put out the traditional way, too.
***

Secrets to Success:

1.  You must write a good book. These same rules do apply as they do in traditional publishing. You want to grab the reader, suspend their disbelief, pull them into your story and make them care about your characters. Your writing needs to shine. Your text needs to be clean with no typos. You don't want to stop your reader with awkward sentences, plot holes, or weak GMC. You also don't want to stop your reader with sloppy text and formatting.

2.  An eye-catching cover is a must. I believe a picture is worth a thousand words and it needs to pop on the screen. Make sure the font is large and clear in thumbnail view.

3.  Write a blurb that catches the reader's interest. You want to snag their attention and make them want to read your story.

4.  Low price. For an unknown author, this is the best and easiest promotion, IMO.

Only you can decide whether self-publishing is right for you. You might want to ask yourself a few questions:

1.  Is your writing costing you money? IMO, money should always flow to the writer. Entering contests and going to conferences is expensive. Instead of gambling with the money you spend on your writing, invest in yourself.

2.  Is your writing giving you joy or causing you frustration?

3.  Are you content to write for an editor or agent? Or do you want to write for the readers?

4.  Do you want to wait years and years before catching an editor's attention? Then wait for more years to pass before you actually see your book in print? And will there even be any bookstores left when your book finally comes out?

***

I've spent the past year building my "business." I've laid the foundation and put out nine books. From now on, I will be writing new product and releasing it into the wild. I'm having fun and keeping a light-hearted attitude. I'm trying not to take it so seriously. I hope this shows through to my readers. If I'm having fun, so will they.

I love being self-published. I am living my writer's dream. I'm writing what I want to write. I have readers anxiously awaiting my next book. And I'm making a little dab of money . . . and then some.

In conclusion, all I can say is: It's a wonderful time to be a writer!!!


Happy Publishing!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!!



 I'm having a difficult time getting started this Monday morning. I really need to buckle down and get some writing done on The Viscount's Surprise. I'm heading into the final act and transitions are always hard for me. I know how I want the book to end, it's just the getting there that can freeze me in my tracks.

Here are my weekly writing goals:

*  Get to page 85 on Regency novella.

*  Start Yahoo email loop.

*  Start formatting Mother's sci-fi.

*  Add links and blurbs to my Regencies and resubmit to Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

*  Look into joining Operation Ebook Drop.

That should keep me busy.  *grin*

Hope everyone has a great week!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part One

Living My Dream


Every author has a dream. Whether it's getting published by a big NY publisher, landing an agent, seeing your book in Barnes and Noble, holding your book in your hot little hands, writing a NY Times Bestseller or just writing that Great American Novel, all authors have high hopes for their literary masterpieces.

For me, it's basically always boiled down to this:  Write books, publish them, share them with readers and make a little dab of money.

Let me give you a little backstory about my Author's Journey:

My dreams have changed over the years. At first, I wanted my books to look like the Regency novels of the time (which was like 20 years ago or more) and I wanted to see them on bookstore shelves. Then I started targeting Silhouette Desire/Special Edition and in my mind, my books would look like those books. I dreamed of seeing them in Walmart and Kroger and of course, Barnes and Noble.

But after receiving rejection after rejection, I nearly gave up hope and almost quit writing altogether.

Then I noticed some of my HBA chapter mates publishing with small ePresses and they were having SO much fun. When I heard of a gentler, kinder publisher, I decided to send one of my rejected books to The Wild Rose Press. The editor loved the book and bought it. I was finally published and soon became accustomed to being an ebook author. Yes, I had print copies of my books, but they looked kind of funny and didn't sell very well. I'll always be grateful to The Wild Rose Press for giving me the experience of receiving THE CALL or THE EMAIL in my case. They were very good to me and really are a first-rate company.

But when I submitted my little Regency novella to a different editor over there, she wanted to make all kinds of changes. She had a different vision for the book than I had envisioned.

Now, I'm not opposed to changing what doesn't work in a story. And the novella did have a couple of fatal flaws that needed correcting.

It was about this time that I wished I could just write and publish ebooks in PDF format and sell them on my website. It was also about this time an online friend told me how she was self-publishing an anthology with Lulu so she would have another book to sell at book signings. I thought that was a great idea and began looking into that possibility. It was also about this time that I discovered the blogs of JA Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith. I found out about Karen McQuestion and how she was publishing rejected manuscripts on Kindle and making a little money.

Hmm, I thought. I had six manuscripts languishing on my hard drive plus my new Regency novella. I believed they were cute little stories and it would be fun to release them into the wild, share them with readers, and maybe make a little bit of money on the side.

When I started this venture over a year ago, I was half-ashamed to tell anyone what I was planning to do. I thought maybe I'd make some egg and butter money; you know, like farmer's wives used to do. I thought maybe I'd make enough to eat out at a nice restaurant every once in a while. And if I had good luck, I thought maybe I could make 300-400 dollars a month. But secretly in my heart of hearts, I didn't really believe I would do that well.

BOY WAS I WRONG!!! I'm making a little dab of money plus some. With the advent of the Kindle and Direct Publishing, I am living my dream. And now I love being a Kindle author. Independently published. I hope the day comes when I'll be selling 1000 books a day. Will that happen? I don't know, but I can certainly dream.


Happy Writing and Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Keep up the Serious BICHOK!!!

Mondays roll around with predictable regularity, don't they? *grin*

I survived my workshop presentation last Tuesday night. It went over amazingly well; much better than I had anticipated. I'll be posting that workshop in installments here on the blog very soon.  Wednesday, I crashed and burned (more like chilled) all day long. Wrote every day and I feel good about getting in the writing groove again. I'm finding the joy again. Finally!!!

So, here's my list for the week:


*  Write new pages on Regency Novella. I would like to get to page 50 which would be the half-way mark.


*  Post to a few Amazon forums.


*  Start work on rights reversion letters for my mom.


*  Start formatting a manuscript for Lulu.

Happy Writing!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Serious BICHOK!!!


Monday morning again. Time to gear up for the writing week. I did pretty well last week writing every day, but I missed Friday because we went to the farm and made pickles. Yes, I could have taken my laptop, but I knew I wouldn't write, so I left it home. The good news is:  the "cowboys" came to separate the calves from their mothers, which was sad in a way, but very helpful for my writer's brain to see and record. So you never know when an opportune writerly moment will occur. *grin*

My writing goals for the week:

*  Write two pages every day on the Regency novella.

*  Finish tweaking the keywords and titles of my books.

*  Survive Tuesday's presentation of my Self-publishing workshop. *grin*

*  Tweak one cover and upload.

*  Post on Meet the Authors Forum at Amazon.

Hope everyone has a productive week!!!

Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tall Dark and Texan


I'm happy to announce the re-release of the last book in my back list. TALL DARK AND TEXAN was previously published as Chasing the Moonlight by The Wild Rose Press. I originally wanted to title it Tall Dark and Texan, but at the last minute changed my mind. This is my bad boy book. It also has the girl next door and a secret baby plot with a twist. The story is set in the small town of Stone Creek, Texas. Beth, Trevor and Maggie from Her Reluctant Rancher make a cameo appearance.

Here's the blurb:

Former bad boy Mitch Defalco roars into Stone Creek, Texas, on the back of a Harley with his newly discovered daughter riding behind him. Single mom Sarah Cooper cannot believe he's moved in next door.  She had a secret crush on him years ago when he dated her older sister back in high school.

As Mitch tackles the responsibilities of fatherhood, Sarah admires the way he's turned his life around. She asks him to help her with a personal problem: Her fear of men. Mitch knows he's bad news for sexy Sarah, but how can he refuse her dangerous request, when she's determined to move forward with or without his help?



And here's the excerpt:

Mitch didn't wait for permission. He moved in closer, touching his lips to hers, pressing gently, letting them both get a feel for the other. He'd sworn he wasn't going to kiss Sarah Cooper, but sitting next to her on the swing like this, she was a temptation he had no power to resist.

For a minute, she didn't respond and he worried that he'd overstepped his welcome. Then her lips trembled beneath his, and she exhaled a soft sigh. When he heard the little moan in the back of her throat, he put his arms around her and pulled her forward.

Mitch deepened the kiss, taking it to the next level, swiping his tongue against her lips. She opened for him, tilting her head for better access and he slid inside her mouth. She tasted of chocolate and vanilla and the sweet essence of Sarah . . .
###

Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie  :)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Serious BICHOK!!!


I'm on a MISSION!!! I must write new material, because as of last Thursday, I've published my entire backlist!!! For ten months, I've been busy tweaking, editing, formatting and making covers for all nine of my novels and novella, and they are up and live on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

Now it's time to get back to the writing. I finally have the hard-earned confidence and motivation to get new books out to my readers. Because believe it or not, I HAVE readers!!! I love saying that. I love knowing people are buying and reading and ENJOYING my stories!!! It is truly a writer's nirvana.

Here are this week's writing goals:

*  Write two pages each and every day of new Regency novella.

*  Finish character sketches for new WIP.

*  Make Kindleboards and blog pages for TALL DARK AND TEXAN.

*  Start tweaking categories and keywords for all live books on all platforms.


My main objective is to get back in the habit of daily writing and producing new pages. I plan to make post-it notes that say: MUST WRITE DAILY PAGES. I'm going to stick them all over the house to reinforce the subliminal message.

I've been in a slump for the past six years. Time to haul myself up and out.

I CAN DO IT!!!  AND SO CAN YOU!!!

Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Release: Texan Undercover


Texan Undercover is a fun Retro Read. It certainly was fun to write. I call it Retro because the story is set in 1998. You know, back in the day before WiFi, Bluetooth, blueray, and flat screen TVs became widespread. There were no smartphones, netbooks, iPods, Kindles or Wii.  MP3s were relatively new and people still watched movies on VHS. Not everyone owned a computer; laptops were mainly used in the corporate world. Tablets were taken for headaches, texting pretty much didn't exist, and internet cafes were becoming popular here and abroad.

This book is my one and only attempt at writing a romantic suspense. (So far.) I had my heroine open up a chain of cyber cafes in several Texas college towns. I added a sexy private eye who goes undercover to catch a computer hacker. What you get is a fast-paced story filled with laughter, love and delicious sexually-charged tension. The coffee and lattes aren't half-bad either . . .


Here's the blurb:

Sparks fly and computers crash when Claire Maxwell's cybercafe is used for nefarious purposes. She's thrown into the midst of an undercover operation and doesn't like it one bit. She really doesn't like being thrown in the company of the hot private eye handling the  case. Claire doesn't believe in love or happily ever after anymore. Can the handsome P.I. change her mind?

Dillon Anderson needs Claire's help to stop a dangerous corporate hacker. What he doesn't need is the sucker punch of desire whenever she's near. Dillon has always avoided beautiful "upper-class" women, but avoiding Claire proves to be an impossible mission. Can he get the job done without getting done in himself?


And here's the excerpt:

Claire never would have believed she could react this way to a strange man.  His spicy aftershave turned her insides to mush.  "I have the paperwork filled out," she said, scooting a neatly typed sheet of paper across the desk. "All I need is some ID and your signature." 

Dillon reached in his pocket and pulled out his wallet.  He handed over his driver's license, then skimmed the paper.

Claire stared at the plastic card in her hand.  "This says your name is Dillon Andrews."

He looked up from the paper, leaned forward and motioned for her to do the same.  His gaze locked on her.  Mesmerized her.  She leaned closer.  

"Ms. Maxwell," he said, his soft tone just this side of a whisper, "I'm working under an assumed name.  The ID is fake.  This is an undercover investigation.  You need to remember that at all times.  Got it?"

He carefully enunciated each word, almost in exaggeration, like he was explaining something to an inept child.  Claire felt her hackles rise.  His eyes held her frozen.  He wasn't looking at her like she was a child . . .   
###


Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Change Underlined Text to Italics

Techno Tips for the Techno-Challenged

Many of us are tweaking and editing old manuscripts; breathing new life into old stories that have been languishing unread and unloved on our hard drives. We're self-publishing our "backlists" in the hopes of sharing our stories with readers.

With that comes the sometimes tedious and daunting task of formatting or reformatting the manuscripts to upload onto Smashwords, Kindle and Nook. One problem I've had with several manuscripts is underlined text. Back in the day, when I submitted manuscripts to editors, writers underlined text to indicate italics. Talk about a daunting task!!! It's not easy trying to change every place in a 60K-120K word manuscript where there are "italics"! Ack!!!

The good news is you don't have to go through the whole manuscript page by page searching for the underlined text. Find and Replace is your friend in MS Word.

Here's how to do it:

Be sure to save a copy of your document before doing this, just in case.

1.  Go to Find and Replace.
2.  Hit little blue square in bottom left-hand corner of drop-down box.
3.  Place cursor in the Find text box and click the Format button.
4.  Click on Font.
5.  Click on Underline Style and select the type of underline (usually the first example under words only).
6.  Click on Font Style, then choose Not Italic. Click OK.
7.  Place cursor in the Replace text box and click the Format button.
8.  Click on Font.
9.  Click on Underline Style and choose (none).
10. Click on Font Style, then choose Italic. Click OK.
11. Replace All.

And that's all there is to it!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!!


Monday again!!! Time to set my weekly writing goals. I feel good about last week. Got a lot on my list either done or well begun.

Sales are brisk, and I just hope they continue. I cannot believe how well this self-publishing venture is going. Books are finding readers, great reviews, bestseller lists, fan mail!!! OMG!!! It's a writer's dream come true!!!

Gotta get on that next project, and I will, but I want to finish building my foundation and putting all my blacklist up.

Here's my list for this week:


*  Start formatting cybercafe manuscript for publication.

*  Work on Mother's sci-fi book.

*  Critique/edit another manuscript.

*  Help/consult a writer colleague.

*  Write two pages of Regency novella.

*  Attend the HBA Chapter meeting.

Want a peek at my cybercafe cover?

Yummy!!!

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!!


Happy Monday!!! For me, Mondays start my writing week. Weekends I pretty much take off and enjoy family time. Monday-Friday is when I do the most writing and writing-related tasks. Although, I do sometimes sneak in "busy work" tasks on the weekends. Like last night, I finally uploaded HER RELUCTANT RANCHER to Scribd.

I didn't get everything done on my list last week, so some of it will carry over.

Here are my goals for this week:


*  Finish tweaking cybercafe story.

*  Find cover art for it.

*  Format my mother's sci-fi and start uploading/publishing.

*  Write five pages of new novella.

*  Start learning about Twitter and promoting.

*  Start working on HBA RWA workshop.

When I finish polishing the cybercafe story and get it formatted and the cover designed and work out the blurb and excerpt, in other words, make it ready to publish, I will be finished building the foundation of my self-publishing sales catalog. I've been working fast and furiously for a year getting my "backlist" up and live. After July, I will be starting a new adventure and writing new material, creating new product/frontlist. Then I will be living my dream of writing stories, publishing them, and sharing them with readers.

Happy Writing!!!


AM   :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Her Reluctant Rancher


I'm happy to announce the re-release of HER RELUCTANT RANCHER!!! This book is very dear to my heart, because it was the book that made me a published author and I got to experience receiving THE CALL or in my case, THE EMAIL.

Now that I've gone totally Indie, I'm giving the book a new life and hope it finds many new readers. Check it out!!!

Here's the blurb:

Living with his stern grandfather taught Trevor Callahan one important lesson: Caring makes a man weak. Now the old man is dead and Trev returns to Stone Creek for one reason and one reason only--to sell the Rocking C Ranch. Maybe then he can put his past behind him and move on.

Beth Evans once confused lust for love and vows never to let it happen again. The bookmobile driver is trying to raise funds to build a new library. The late Hank Callahan bequeathed a million dollars for the project, but he attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.


And here's the Excerpt:

He leaned across the desk.  “You know, we haven’t discussed the kiss the other night.”

She scooted the chair back.  “There’s nothing to discuss.” 

He stood and slowly came around the desk, reached for her hand and pulled her to her feet.  “I want to kiss you again.”

“That’s probably not a good idea.”  Oh, lord.  She was playing with fire and if she wasn’t careful, she was going to get burned.  Bad.

“Probably not.  I know you said we’d never kiss again.  But don’t you want to kiss me?  Can’t you feel the pull between us?”

“Yes . . . No!”  She jerked her hand free and started backing away.

He followed, closing in on her until she bumped against the library table.  “Just one kiss, Beth.  One kiss can’t hurt.”

Before she could react, before she could reply, Trevor wrapped his arms around her, covered her mouth with his and God help her, she was a goner.

###


Remember:  Life's too short, NOT to love a Texan!!!


Happy Reading!!!


Anne Marie  :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

BICHOK!!!


Happy Monday!!! After a terrific April Madness 2011, I've decided to reinstate my BICHOK Mondays so we can all keep in touch and continue with our writing objectives. It's always nice to have company along the way on the writing journey to help keep us honest and provide accountability.

Already this morning, I have uploaded HER RELUCTANT RANCHER to Kindle and Nook. I will be uploading to Smashwords and Scribd later today. HER RELUCTANT RANCHER  was previously published with The Wild Rose Press. I have nothing but good things to say about TWRP. They were very very good to me. But I wasn't selling many books with them and I believe I can do better on my own. We shall see.

Here are my writing goals for the week:

*   Publish HER RELUCTANT RANCHER.

*   Update website and blog announcing the rerelease.

*   Announce the book on various forums.

*   Edit and tweak cybercafe book.

*   Start hunting for cover art for cybercafe book.

*   Prepare for book signing on Saturday at Boomerang Books.

I hope everyone has a great productive week.

Happy Writing!!!


AM     :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ten Thousand Ebooks Sold and Counting!!!

My Adventures in Self-Publishing

On Saturday, I hit another milestone in my self-publishing career. I pushed past the 10k units sold since I went "live" last August.

Can I just say:  Wow!!!

As I've sold more books, I've had many more writerly moments; some bad, but mostly good. It seems like every day, I experience a new writerly moment. It's a great time to be a writer!!!

Here are a few examples of some of my more memorable writerly moments:

*  It seems for every 1000 books sold, I get one review, maybe two. I don't know if this is normal, but it is normal for me. I'm very lucky to receive mostly four and five-star reviews. But two weeks ago, I received my first one-star review and I can tell you truthfully, it SUCKED!!!

I was pretty devastated. I know I'm supposed to have a thick skin, but it still hurt. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and you can't please everyone, but it still was not a pleasant experience especially since she said she hated it. Ugh!!!

And it happened the same night when both my Regencies hit the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. Talk about flying on an emotional high one minute and crashing the next!!!

Luckily, a fellow writer (whom I did not know) noticed it. She bought my book and read it and liked it and offered to write a good review. Thank God!!!  This was my first experience with a Random Act of Kindness (or a Random Act of Kindleness as we Indies like to say). One of my finer writerly moments rising out of one of my worst. As Calvin's dad says: It builds character.

*   I've also been fortunate to have my books making the Top 100 Bestseller Lists in various genres on Amazon. My two Regencies are hovering around the Top Ten and two of my Westerns are in the Top Twenty and Fifty. This has helped sales immensely.  A few times, all six of my books have been on the lists at the same time!!! I'm sorry to say I don't know the secret formula or handshake to get on the lists. It's really up to the readers. They are the gatekeepers in this new paradigm.

*  During Read an Ebook Week in March, I gave away almost 500 free ebooks.  I also sold over 4000 ebooks that same month. Great writerly moment.

*  As I've sold more books, I've also experienced more returns. Not a good writerly moment, but it's part of the business. I just don't look at that column in the sales reports. *grin*

*  My sales are slowly growing across the pond. I sold 50 books last month on AmazonUK. This month so far, it's 100. Good growth. I can only hope it continues.

*  I haven't received any fan mail yet, but I do have my very own Customer Discussion Forum on Amazon where I can talk directly to readers.

*  And speaking of readers. My sister was right. There are readers out there anxiously waiting for the last two books in my Diamondback Ranch Series!!! Is that great or what?

Every day, it just keeps getting better and better. Writerly moments abound. I am living my dream:  Write books and publish. The readers are what count in this business. The money's nice, too.

Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Format Ebooks (Updated)

Techno-Tips for the Techno-Challenged


I don't believe in reinventing the wheel. I'll tell you right now, if you're serious about self-publishing in ebook format, go to Smashwords and read Mark Coker's Style Guide. It's free and it explains the steps to format Word documents in detail. Read it, study it, then read my easy step-by-step instructions. I've simplified the steps required to un-format and reformat a Word document so it will be streamlined and acceptable on the Smashwords', Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and B&N's Nook Press Direct Publishing programs.

Now remember, I'm basically a techno-klutz. I do not mess with HTML coding and when I say simplified and streamlined, I mean simplified and streamlined. We're moving from a print medium to digital. Your formatted document is not going to look like a manuscript document or a printed book. The sooner you accept this, the better.

Today's readers are used to reading on computers and smartphones, netbooks, iPods and iPads. They are used to reading digital. Digital is different from print. It looks different, feels different, but it delivers stories to readers just the same. Readers want good stories that grab their attention and keep it. They are eager to be entertained. One of the most important jobs a writer must do is NEVER stop the reader. You never want to pull him out of the story world you've created. You don't want to interrupt or disrupt his suspension of disbelief--not only in the structure of the story, but the formatting of the story as well.

Formatting doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be pretty. The text needs to flow, just as a story flows. Most readers don't care whether you use smart quotes or curly, block paragraphs or indented. All they want is to be able to read your story with ease, comfort and pleasure.

I format as efficiently as possible. I use indented paragraphs, straight quotation marks and two hyphens instead of em dashes. These three simplified elements help make uploading Word documents to the various ePub platforms seamless and trouble-free.

When preparing to upload your properly formatted Word document to Smashwords, Kindle and Nook Press there are a few things you need to do in order to make the process run smoothly. You'll need a catchy title, an attractive cover, a well-written blurb (like back cover copy) and a description, both short and long. I always include an excerpt in the long description as a matter of preference.

You also need to choose your keywords and metadata carefully. Google keywords and metadata and study how it's done. 

So now, without further ado, here are my twenty-five steps showing how to format ebooks. Please note that these instructions are written for MS Word: Mac 2008. If you are using other MS Word editions, you will have to modify and adjust accordingly.


How to Format Ebooks for the

 Techno-Challenged:

Before you begin, remove headers, footers and page numbers from manuscript. Adjust Margins: Top 1 in; Bottom 1 in; Left 1.25 in; Right 1.25 in; Gutter 0; Header .5 in; Footer .5 in.
***
1.   Save original document.
2.   Select All.  Copy and paste into NotePad or Text Edit and save.
3.   Quit Word. Reopen Word.
4.   Copy and paste document from NotePad/Text Edit into new Word document.
5.   Save new document as a .doc file under new name. Ex: CowboySurrenderEbook.doc.
6.   Activate Show/Hide. (The little paragraph icon on Toolbar.)
7.   Go to Tools: Auto Correct: Check the little box: Automatically Correct Spelling and formatting as you Type. Click on Auto Format as You Type. Uncheck all boxes.  Do NOT hit Okay!!! UNCHECK the Automatically Correct Spelling and Formatting as you Type BOX. Hit Okay.  Box closes.
8.   Go to Format: Auto Format:  Options. Uncheck all boxes under Apply and Replace. Hit okay. Box closes. Hit Cancel. Box closes.
9.   Select All. Go to Format: Style: Click Normal. Make sure it reads: Times New Roman, 12 point, flush left, single space. Hit Apply.
10.  Select All. Go to Format: Paragraph: Alignment: Left, Outline Level: Body Text. Indentations: Left 0; Right 0.  Line Spacing: Single.
FOR INDENTED PARAGRAPHS: Left: 0, Right: 0, Special: First Line, By: .33, Spacing: Before: 0, After: 0, At: LEAVE BLANK. Hit okay. Save.
 11.  Replace two spaces after sentences with one space: Find: 2 spaces (hit space bar twice), Replace: 1 space (hit space bar once). Replace All. Repeat. Save.  (Remember to clear spaces from Find box and Replace box to avoid later misery).
12.  Delete tabs. Find and Replace: Find: ^t, Replace: blank, Replace All. Save.
13.  Paragraph returns should only be at the end of paragraphs. No more than 3 returns in a row.
14.  Replace curly quotes with straight quotes. Find: ", Replace: ", Replace All. Save.
15. Replace curly apostrophes with straight apostrophes. Find: ', Replace: ', Replace All. Save.
16.  Replace em dashes with hyphens. Find:  ^+, Replace: --, Replace All. Save. 
17.  Remove all section breaks from document.
18.  Remove all page breaks.
19.  Make Chapter Headings 14 point, bold, centered, two paragraph returns from last sentence (enter enter ), one paragraph return (enter) to first sentence.
20.  Make ****: one enter above and one enter below, then center.

For the last five steps, after you type the information on the pages, highlight the text and center it.

21.  At the top of first page: TITLE (Font 14pt), enter,  by, enter, author, enter, ****, enter, SMASHWORDS EDITION, enter  ****,  enter. See examples below.
22.  Copyright page: (copy and paste from samples) center it:
23.  Dedication (Font 14pt), enter, (who you're dedicating it to), enter, ****, enter enter , Prologue/Chapter One. See examples below.
24.  At the end of the story: ### About the Author (Font 14pt). See examples.
25.  Other Books by Your Name  (Font 14pt). See examples.

###

After you've reformatted the document, save it. I always skim over the text for "hanging chads:" formatting errors like dangling elipses, sentences with no space between them, no more than three paragraph returns in a row, etc. You need to make sure the text runs smoothly with no glitches. You want it to look as good as you can possibly make it.

Then I save the document under three different names/versions: Smashwords, Kindle and Nook. For example:
   Adam'sTemptationSmashwords.doc
 Adam'sTemptationKindle.doc
 Adam'sTemptationNook.doc.

No doubt about it, the first time you do this, the learning curve is very steep. Hang tough! Believe me, it gets easier with every book you format.

Below, I've shown examples of title pages (front matter) and last pages (back matter) to include in your documents. Note: a Table of Contents is becoming more common for fiction. I'll be doing a How to post on that soon. Google it to find out more.


***
EXAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE: (SMASHWORDS)
You must include the Smashwords Licensing Agreement in order to be considered for inclusion in their Premium Catalog.

Adam's Temptation
by
Anne Marie Novark
***
SMASHWORDS EDITION
***

***
Millionaire professor, Adam Brant is hiding from life. When his broken engagement is plastered all over the papers and tabloids, he retreats to the only place he's ever felt he belonged—his late grandmother's lighthouse in Briny Cove, Florida. He vows to live in seclusion away from nosy reporters, money-hungry women and people who can't accept him for who he is.

Ambitious wanna-be journalist, Megan O'Conner is stuck in Briny Cove, living with her family, struggling to finish her degree and working odd jobs. When she finds out the new tenant in the old lighthouse is Adam Brant, Megan believes she's found her ticket out. But as she becomes better acquainted with the sexy professor, everything changes. Will she choose the exclusive story or the man who has stolen her heart?
***
Adam's Temptation
Copyright © 2011 by Anne Marie Novark
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
***
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
***
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
***
Dedication
To my brother John.
Thanks for the crash course in scuba diving.
***

CHAPTER ONE
(Start the story.)

***
EXAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE: 
(KINDLE AND NOOK)


Adam's Temptation
by
Anne Marie Novark

***

***
Millionaire professor, Adam Brant is hiding from life. When his broken engagement is plastered all over the papers and tabloids, he retreats to the only place he's ever felt he belonged—his late grandmother's lighthouse in Briny Cove, Florida. He vows to live in seclusion away from nosy reporters, money-hungry women and people who can't accept him for who he is.

Ambitious wanna-be journalist, Megan O'Conner is stuck in Briny Cove, living with her family, struggling to finish her degree and working odd jobs. When she finds out the new tenant in the old lighthouse is Adam Brant, Megan believes she's found her ticket out. But as she becomes better acquainted with the sexy professor, everything changes. Will she choose the exclusive story or the man who has stolen her heart?
***

Adam's Temptation
Copyright © 2011 by Anne Marie Novark
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
***
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
***

Dedication
To my brother John.
Thanks for the crash course in scuba diving.
***
ADAM'S TEMPTATION
by Anne Marie Novark

CHAPTER ONE
(Start the story.)
***
BACK MATTER

EXAMPLE OF INFORMATION AT THE END:


###
 (You must use these three marks after the final story sentence in the Smashwords edition. I use it in every edition.)

For more eBooks by Anne Marie Novark
Go to Amazon.com
***
For email alerts about upcoming releases:


and Facebook.
 
***
About the Author . . .
(Optional)
Anne Marie is a Texas girl, born and raised. Romance is her passion. She loves to read and write about men and women falling in love, overcoming life's obstacles, and living happily ever after. She writes spicy contemporary novels, usually involving a cowboy or two, as well as Regency historicals.
Anne Marie lives just outside of Houston with her husband who is her best friend and her own special hero. They have two grown children, two mischievous cats and one sweet puppy dog. Besides reading and writing, Anne Marie enjoys puttering around in her flowerbeds, going to garage sales, collecting antiques and watching old movies. Visit her at www.annemarienovark.com.
***
Other books by Anne Marie Novark:
Her Reluctant Rancher
Chasing the Moonlight
Midnight My Love
The Doctor Wears A Stetson
The Cowboy's Surrender
A Match Made in Texas
To His Lady's Rescue
Adam's Temptation

***

Marketing Tips: 

1.  In both the front and the back of your ebook, include links to your website, mailing list (you do have one, right?), and Facebook Author Page.


2.  Include links to your other works in the back matter of each book. Naturally, make sure the links are consistent to each edition. I don't use links in the Smashwords edition because it gets distributed to Sony, Apple, Kobo and Diesel. 


This makes a little extra work, but it's one of the easiest and most profitable forms of advertising/promotion/marketing you can utilize.



FOR EXAMPLE:
 (After the links to website, mailing list, etc. say something like:)
 


You might also enjoy:
Return to Stone Creek Series
Living with his stern grandfather taught Trevor Callahan one important lesson: Caring makes a man weak. Now the old man is dead and Trev returns to Stone Creek for one reason and one reason only--to sell the Rocking C Ranch. Maybe then he can put his past behind him and move on.
Beth Evans once confused lust for love and vows never to let it happen again. The bookmobile driver is trying to raise funds to build a new library. The late Hank Callahan bequeathed a million dollars for the project, but he attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.
***
Return to Stone Creek Series
Former bad boy Mitch Defalco roars into Stone Creek, Texas, on the back of a Harley with his newly discovered daughter riding behind him. Single mom Sarah Cooper cannot believe he's moved in next door. She had a secret crush on him years ago when he dated her older sister back in high school.
As Mitch tackles the responsibilities of fatherhood, Sarah admires the way he's turned his life around. She asks him to help her with a personal problem: Her fear of men. Mitch knows he's bad news for sexy Sarah, but how can he refuse her dangerous request, when she's determined to move forward with or without his help?
***
A Regency Romance Novel
For years, Damien Avenall loved Alexandra Turlington like a little sister; or so he thought until she grew into a lovely and desirable young lady. In a moment of madness, he kisses her and everything changes between them.


Alex often wonders why the dangerous viscount betrayed their special friendship. His kiss awakened her to passion, but she knows better than to give her heart to a libertine. Or does she?
***
HAPPY READING!!!

*** 

The publishing world is changing as we speak. New opportunities abound for writers. You can now put your work directly before the readers. Take control of your writing career. Come on over to the Dark Side!!!


Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)