The Brutal Truth: Keeping it Real

    I have a degree in marketing. If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know that I am overly enthusiastic about sales, marketing and design–oh, and writing! When it comes to writing I am a panster, but when … Continue reading

Authors Break Laws Without Knowing It

3 marketing mondayThat’s right, there are authors out there breaking laws without knowing it, and you might just be one of them. I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements by indie authors lately, which is great–but I came to the abrupt realization that some of these authors may be breaking the laws of trademark without knowing it. The reason? I’m seeing more and more authors utilizing the trademark logos of those vendors that currently sell their novels. This struck me because many of these vendors hold strict trademark laws over their logos, and they are even more strict on letting people use these logos. While I am sure some of these authors may have received permission from the companies, I highly doubt many of them have (the advertisements lack the disclosure materially required by the vendors). The process of approval of using a trademark involves a tedious process that just wouldn’t be worth the effort for a two day sale when you can simply use the name of the company. Now, you may be wondering, why do they care so much that I use their logo? They sell my books after all! Yes, they do sell your books, but their logo represents dollar symbols for them, and not only that, it represents an implied endorsement of that trademark. Trademark can be tricky, while you can mention a name of a company in your novel (see THIS article for the specifics) as long as it’s not in a disparaging way, using it in an advertisement is a completely different animal. This is especially true if you have your name next to it. Here are the specific requirements of book vendors you may be using:

AMAZON-

Amazon used to completely forbid the usage of their trademarked logos for Kindle and the Amazon.com website, but they have became a tad bit more lenient. When I say a “tad bit”, I mean it. They allow it, but they sure as hell won’t make it easy. They are “excited” to offer you the ability to do it if you jump through hoops. Now, let me preface this with the fact that I have not personally attempted to do this, as I don’t run sales for long enough that the time involved would be beneficial.  If you’re an author who has contacted Amazon and received permission, please be sure to leave a comment below about the process and the ease or difficulty of it. Amazon’s very specific guidelines are listed below and you can view the entire article by clicking any where within it:

These Guidelines apply to your use of trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. and/or its affiliates (“Amazon“), including AMAZON, KINDLE, KINDLE FIRE, the AMAZON KINDLE logo and the KINDLE FIRE logo (each a “Trademark” and collectively the “Trademarks“). Strict compliance with these Guidelines is required at all times, and any use of a Trademark in violation of these Guidelines will automatically terminate any license related to your use of the Trademarks.

1. You may use the Trademark solely for the purpose expressly authorized by Amazon and your use must: (i) comply with the most up-to-date version of all agreement(s) with Amazon regarding your use of the Trademarks (collectively “Agreements“); (ii) comply with the most up-to-date version of these Guidelines; and (iii) comply with any other terms, conditions, or policies that Amazon may issue from time to time that apply to the use of the Trademark.
2. We will supply an approved Trademark image for you to use. You may not alter the Trademark in any manner, including but not limited to, changing the proportion, color, or font of the Trademark, or adding or removing any element(s) from the Trademark.
3. You may only use the Trademark as specifically authorized under the Agreements.
4. You may not use the Trademark in any manner that implies sponsorship or endorsement by Amazon.
5. You may not use the Trademark to disparage Amazon, its products or services, or in a manner which, in Amazon’s sole discretion, may diminish or otherwise damage or tarnish Amazon’s goodwill in the Trademark.
6. The Trademark must appear by itself, with reasonable spacing between each side of the Trademark and other visual, graphic or textual elements. Under no circumstance should the Trademark be placed on any background which interferes with the readability or display of the Trademark.
7. You must include the following statement in any materials that display the Trademark: “Amazon, Kindle, Kindle Fire, the Amazon Kindle logo and the Kindle Fire logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”
8. You acknowledge that all rights to the Trademark are the exclusive property of Amazon, and all goodwill generated through your use of the Trademark will inure to the sole benefit of Amazon. You will not take any action that is in conflict with Amazon’s rights in, or ownership of, the Trademark.

 

Amazon reserves the right, exercisable at its sole discretion, to modify these Guidelines and/or the approved Trademarks at any time and to take appropriate action against any use without permission or any use that does not conform to these Guidelines.

If you have questions about these Guidelines, please contact trademarks@amazon.com for assistance, or write to us at: Amazon.com, Inc., Attention: Trademarks, PO Box 81226 Seattle, WA 98108-1226.

Now, number four is where this all becomes very tricky for the author. You want to put their logo on your advertisement and in any way you shake that, it pretty much amounts to an endorsement. Then there’s number five–another key to the fact many of these authors are breaking trademark law–you have to give ample space between other symbols. The fact is, Amazon doesn’t play nice with Barnes & Noble, and for that matter, Kobo, or anyone else. The final nail in the trademark infringement coffin? Number Seven! Each book vendor requires the same disclosure for each of their trademarks with their names disclosed–in a small advertisement where you want to give your novel presence, you would be giving more presence to disclosure for trademark usage. Furthermore, upon more research there are logo guidelines that also must be adhered to and give size, colors, etc that can be used (see HERE). The good news is, as an author selling through their digital media, you become exempt to the written authorization requirement as long as you use their approved logos (see HERE) and use the words Available For or Available From while still adhering to the above quoted usage regulations.

BARNES & NOBLE-

I wasn’t able to find any information relating specifically to advertisements that was outside of their normal terms and conditions. These Terms and Conditions are agreed upon when you sign up for Nook Press. Below is the portion on Trademark (for the full Terms and Condtions see HERE)

II. TRADEMARKS
Barnes & Noble.com, Barnes & Noble, Inc., or their respective parents, subsidiaries, or affiliates, or third parties from whom Barnes & Noble.com has permission, own the trademarks or service marks that are used on the Barnes & Noble.com Site. All rights are reserved. These and other graphics, logos, service marks, trademarks and trade dress of Barnes & Noble.com and its licensors may not be used without prior written consent of Barnes & Noble.com or its licensor, as the case may be. Without limiting the foregoing, no Barnes & Noble.com trademark or trade dress may be used in connection with any product or service that is not Barnes & Noble.com’s, in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among Users, or in any manner that disparages or discredits Barnes & Noble.com.

It’s safe to assume that Barnes and Noble operates it’s logo and trademark usage much like that of Amazon, with the exception that it may be even harder to receive permission to use the logo. It appears that there is no exemptions as is allowed on Amazon on the written agreement requirement.

KOBO-

Unfortunately, the most guidance I found was to look at the Kobo Brand Guidelines, which I found on the ABA, but wasn’t able to open without joining and paying a fee. Again, it’s safe to assume that their business operates under the same guidelines of other major booksellers.

Head spinning yet? Now, if you’ve violated this– you may just get a cease and desist order, or you may never hear anything at all (a lawsuit could occur, but it’s cost-prohibitive, so the most you will probably get is the order). What you do risk is readers, agents or publishers that do know these laws seeing you as being less professional, when you were only attempting to appear more professional. In the end sticking with the simple usage of the company that your books are sold at is easier, and leaves less room for reputation risk for your brand as an author. You can still create a killer advertisement without those logos, and in all honesty, if you sell at more than two retailers, the logos just clutter the advertisement and take away from your goal– intriguing the reader and getting them to “One-Click” your novel.

 

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My Author Ethics

DisclosuresAs a published author it is important to acknowledge that certain ethics come with the job. I pride myself in being professional with a high level of honestly, integrity and passion. I write many of my blog posts from my experience in the publishing and sales world. My publishing background has evolved from my original journey as a self-published author in 2012 to an Indie Amazon Bestseller as of today. My sales background includes ten years in sales, seven of which have been spent in the financial industry, including six years experience as a supervisor and top selling agent for the institution I worked for. I am currently a Retail Banking Operations Manager and Project Manager who develops Sales Campaigns, Initiatives and Training programs for the bank, along with numerous duties involving maintenance of 220+ procedures (writing, editing, creating and monitoring) and marketing projects. I am also studying to receive my degree in Marketing and plan on pursuing a second degree in Graphic Design.

BLOG reviewsAs a published author, my reading has taken a significant hit because of time restrictions, but also ethical issues. It’s much easier to write a review when you aren’t an author. When you are, any criticism is not taken kindly. That being said I would like to disclose the following as my strict policies for reviewing:

  1. I never accept review copies from other authors. If asked I will politely decline and advise that I will look at the book description, and if interested, I will purchase the book and review it in my own time.
  2. I will no longer post reviews of Self-Published or Independent Authors that are three stars and under. I will rate the novel as is such on Goodreads, and post that the author may contact me for a full review if they are interested. I will not rate novels under three stars of authors I personally know or have an acquaintance with. This creates a blackmail situation in which I do not wish to be involved.
  3. I will follow the following format when reviewing novels:
  • Star Ratings can and may have 1/2 Stars
  • Each Review will include an Overall Star Rating
  • Each Review will be broken down into the following individual Star Ratings with explanations for the ratings:

-Book Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Cover: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Plot: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Creativity: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Grammar: 1-5 Stars; 5 being error free (this will NEVER happen, not even with major pubbed books)

-Simile Use: 1-5 Stars; 5 stars being the best, meaning no similes were used. 1 meaning similes were used in excess and pulled me out of the novel.

-Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Show Not Tell: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best- dialogue driven without excessive and obtrusive description

Additionally, please keep the following in mind for reviews of my novels:

  1. I do not respond to negative reviews of my own novels, but I may, at my discretion, respond to positive reviews.
  2. I never pay for reviews.
  3. I do directly contact bloggers to request reviews.
  4. I will never ask a reviewer to not post a review because it doesn’t show my novel in the best light. That is their right. If they are a part of the blog tour for the release of the novel that is hosted by myself and or my publisher, I will state that I prefer the review not be posted as a part of the tour–but I do not require/condemn it.
  5. You can contact me if you would like to review any of my novels via Goodreads messaging.
  6. I may share good reviews on Social Media, but will not concentrate on them.
  7. I hold the right to not read each and every review that is written for my novels.
  8. I disclose that I do not read reviews of my novel that are personal attacks (yes, these do happen).
  9. I disclose that I do not tend to read reviews that are 2 stars or under.
  10. I respect a reviewers opinion. I acknowledge that my writing style is not for everyone.
  11. Don’t be surprised if I like a JPEG you created for your review and ask if I can use it in marketing materials, but I will always ask permission and give credit on the materials to your blog or you.
  12. I save all fan art to my Pintrest board.

ARCAny reviews posted before the release date of my novels will be of UNEDITED Advance Reader Copies (hence referred to as ARCs). An ARC is an unedited Galley that is distributed by myself and my publisher before the publication date to solicit early reviewers; this includes both electronic and paperback additions. The novel is disclosed as an ARC with with words “Unedited Advance Reader Copy” on the electronic or paperback cover. The following disclosure is issued to each receiver of the ARC from myself and my publisher:

This is an UNEDITED Advance Reader Copy that will contain grammar and syntax errors. The final version of this novel may appear slightly different in content, but plot and characters will remain the same.

E-ARCS will additionally have the following disclosure:

This novel is a review copy for your use and your use only. This file is not to be shared, forwarded, or otherwise misused under copyright law.

The paperback versions will be used for promotional purposes and will also include the word “PROOF” on the back page. This will never be sold for a profit. Additional information and format changes may occur before the final version is released.

In addition to being used to solicit early reviewers, the electronic version will be utilized as a gift to those that participate in Promotional Events before the release date of the novel, including, but not limited to, cover reveals. If you participate in a Promotional Event and are given an E-ARC, reviews are welcome, but not required.

Reviewers are asked to take into account that any copies (ARCs) given before the publishing date contain such errors.

Feature FridayI do cross promote other authors on my blog. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have read their work, but I do believe in assisting other authors in their goals. I reserve Fridays as promotional days for other authors, but may participate in tours on other days if they cannot or do not fall on a Friday. My release dates (including cover reveals) do fall on Fridays, and I will promote my own novel on Feature Fridays. Feature Friday is open to authors to approach myself for interviews, cover reveals, or other promotional items with the exception of reviews (see the above review policy).

BLOG ratingPG-18

While I have published Young Adult novels, and write/illustrate Children’s Novels, this blog will be utilized to promote my New Adult novel and other novels in the genre. Thus, the rating is PG-18 due to slight to moderate sexual content and language that may be contained in Excerpts or Teasers.

Boston or Bust?

That would be a big giant:

BUST

I took a few weeks to let the issues that occurred be addressed by the BBF staff before deciding to sit down and write this. Then once they’d “resolved” the issues I took a few more weeks to stew over that. I’m going to be honest and open here, as I always try to be. I’m going to try to be factual as well…Here goes…

So what happened? I was extremely excited when I learned the 5th Annual Boston Book Festival was offering this:

New in 2013! Individual authors and independent literary presses can take out a table along “Indie Alley.” This newly created, author-exclusive exhibitor area is situated in front of the John Hancock Tower at the intersection of St. James Avenue and Clarendon Street. The Boston Magazine even spoke about it…

The independent author and self-published book industries are booming at the moment, and organizers of the annual Boston Book Festival recognize that

So to cater to the demand, for the first time ever, they are offering up space to those who have worked tirelessly to get their name out without the help of a major publishing company to back them up.

“That market is exploding right now. I think one of our goals [at the festival] is to always spark the interest and creativity of aspiring authors, and to have attendees be able to see people who are out there [self-publishing], and getting voices out there, which can be inspirational for them,” said Norah Piehl, deputy director of the Boston Book Festival. “It provides a voice for people at the festival that may not otherwise be heard.”

(Read the Entire Article by clicking on Boston Magazine above).

The key thing here that happened was–we weren’t heard. I really should have known better, as I am from Mass. In fact I was only a twenty minutes from Boston growing up. The thing is, I’m not really all that familiar with Boston. I didn’t realize the place they were putting us was NO WHERE near the event on Copley Square. We were abandoned in a corner; one that no one would even pass through to get to the main event. What do I mean by abandoned? There was absolutely NO signage indicating where we were, and the map…our tiny, miniscule dot was laughable. Many authors had fans and/or family members that came specifically for Indie Alley–and they couldn’t even find it! The event was to last from 10PM to 5PM, and promised to send some of the 25,000 people that attend annually our way. Great in theory! There sure was a huge mass of people on Copley Square–there was live music, booths with books and major published authors, oh and TONS of people…a BLOCK away from us. The attention and traffic to those areas was obvious, and then the other obvious thing was the MASSIVE amount of space that we could have been in. No, I’m not talking about the lawn of Copley Square–it was obvious that was not to be trodden on, and I’ve got no issue with that. I’m talking about the space around the lawn to the right that was empty! The space that to the front and left was filled with those major published authors. In the end I sold some books, one to a fan of another author who I just happened to be talking to when the fan came, and another two to two other authors at the fair. The bill for this day…well, between what I paid for the table, to drive on the Mass Pike, the time spent driving (3 hours total), the time I spent freezing my butt off  and the cost of marketing materials and paperbacks. Well, I’m in a big fat red zone. The BBF pointed out that was a risk we took, because they couldn’t guarantee attendance. The fact is, the BBF gave us plastic tables, with .50 cent plastic table clothes and a sticker with our name on it and an area where no traffic would go through. By 2:00 half of the authors had left in a huff, and by 2:30 I’d left, too. I was sullen, but at the same point, it was a risk. I understand that–I only wished we hadn’t been thrown off in a corner–or that there was SOME sort of signage indicating the hole in the wall that we were in compared to the main event. I didn’t want a refund. I’d just wanted my voice to be heard–a struggle that is evident in being an Indie author; one that the event organizers claimed they understood. They’re attention to the main event (which we should have been included in and it was always alluded to that we would be) and claimed ignorance of us indicated they didn’t understand. So, I decided to write a letter:

I’m not sure if you would be the person to speak about this, but the event really didn’t go the way that I thought it would. I was very disappointed with the set up, as there was no signage indicating where we were, and we were a block away from the actual Festival. Honestly, it really was like being in an alley, but it wasn’t even in direct walking distance of the festival. It truly felt as though we were an after thought. I was excited for the chance to be a part of a major book festival, and was disappointed that we were put off in a corner where no one would, or did, find us. It was even more frustrating to see the plethora of people gathering at the actual festival, and the mass of empty space in which we could have been–actually a part of the festival. I’ve had more exposure at local high school craft fairs, of which I paid much much less to be at. I do thank the organization for attempting to invite independent authors to the event, but in the end it felt like we were being scorned. I appreciate you taking this into consideration for your future events. I’d love to be a part of the Festival next year, but only if cost and the location are considered and changed.

Looking at it now, it does seem a bit harsh, but it was truthful. I did feel scorned and put in a corner. In fact this kept playing in my mind:

I certainly don’t want to sound like a cry baby in this situation. I took the risk. I paid the money, and I realized it really didn’t work. C’est la vie. I was surprised by the BBF’s answer:

Dear Indie Alley Exhibitors,

Many of you have reached out to us after the last week following your time at the Boston Book Festival.  We are disheartened that so many authors had a bad experience at this year’s BBF. Our intention with setting up Indie Alley was to offer independent authors a chance to exhibit at our event and we are sorry that Indie Alley did not draw the audience we had hoped it would. 

To address some of the issues you have raised, you should know first of all that the space that we used for Indie Alley is the only one the city of Boston would allow us to use.  Our request to close Trinity Place to traffic was denied and the grass at Copley Square is off-limits.  In terms of foot traffic, we had planned to have an entire day of poetry readings in the Blue Glass Café in the John Hancock building, which would have brought several hundreds of festival-goers through your exhibitor area.  We were notified less than a month before the BBF that the building’s power would be off for HVAC repairs and that we would have to relocate the poetry.  This was unforeseen.

Indie Alley was an experiment, and apparently one that failed.  We regret that failure and in future years will return to our policy of not offering individual authors exhibitor space.  This is a shame, but we have no other choice given the poor attendance this year.

While we are as disappointed as you are that Indie Alley was not a success, we did invest both time and money in setting it up.  This was a risk that you as exhibitors and we as the event planners took jointly and while your contract states that there are no refunds, in light of the poor attendance we would like to offer to refund each of you half of your fee.  To request a refund, please download the attached document, sign and either fax or mail it back to us, attention <name removed for privacy>.

Please know that we have learned from this year’s experience how better to serve our community in the future, and we hope you are able to attend and enjoy the BBF in future years.

We got a list of excuses, but no explanation for why they didn’t decide to move us to the large area NOT on the lawn, or to the huge sidewalk area that was still in viewing of the main event. No explanation for why there was NO SIGNAGE indicating where we were. No explanation for why we WERE A TINY dot on a map. We got a refund, and an invitation to attend in future years BUT NOT AS EXHIBITORS. This was the part that upset me the most. In future years <we> will return to our policy of not offering individual authors exhibitor space.

WHAT? Really? That was the part that had me sitting rereading the letter over and over again in disbelief. Shunned. Scorned. Abandon. Definitely not understood. This year didn’t work, we can all admit that–but why can’t we work to make this better? I’m sure that many of the authors, including myself, would be willing to meet via conference call with event organizers to talk about how future years could be better organized. I’m a project manager–I do marketing plans–there’s a failure component in both. You fail, you look at why and you revise your plan! You do not abandon it!

So, yet again, New England is left without a Festival or Conference to celebrate Indie authors and what they contribute to the literary world. BBF could have filled that hole, and after one poor attempt they gave up. I don’t plan on giving up, but at this point there isn’t much I can do in the way of Festivals. So, plan on coming out to the bookstores that I do my release signings at, and the high schools I do craft fairs at…I’ll be there with a great novel and a smile!

10 Books all for $.99 Each!

fall in love sale

Each one of the great novels showcased in the sale is from an independent author and features romance from a tidbit to a whole dollop. So go ahead, fall in love with reading this fall by picking up any of these titles from October 1-7th.

Love Exactly by Cassandra Giovanni

Love ExactlyEmma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again.
Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life.
With just one cup of coffee they’ll begin a journey of self-discovery at each others sides, but can Emma handle Evan’s fame while dealing with her own demons? Emma’s checkered personal past, a bad relationship that haunts the edges of her memories, threatens to make everything implode on them when Evan takes matters into his own hands.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words…they’ll destroy my soul–Can Emma handle being put back together and facing who she’s become because of it?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

Casted by Sonya Loveday

CastedJade had spent the majority of her life running from the Triad. The Triad, are a powerful group, who would stop at nothing to obtain Jade and the missing spell book for leader, Lorenzo’s, nefarious plans. And now that she has absorbed the highly coveted magic contained inside the missing book, there is nowhere left for her to hide.
With the help of her friends, Jade steps out from the shadows and learns how to fight back. But no one is prepared for Elinor-the woman bound inside of the book that’s trapped in Jade’s mind. Now she not only needs to protect herself from the Triad, but from what’s hiding inside her mind as well.
Jade never expected the answer to it all would revolve around love.
Edge is dark, mysterious, and a sworn member of the Triad. He also hides a secret past that threatens the thin line he walks between good and evil. Lives are at stake when Jade and Edge’s two worlds collide. Can Jade learn to trust him when he says he is her pre-ordained and vows to do everything he can to protect her? But more importantly, can she trust herself and the woman in her mind?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

 Waterfalls Down by Danielle Rohr

Water Falls DownWhat have they done to me here, to cause me to be unable to see beyond my cage?

Three teenagers committed and locked away in a mental institution act on impulse, and manage to escape. Without a plan, money, ore even identification Lynn, Chelsea, and Garret must find their way in a very big, and very predatory world. After a great deal of travel and agony, they find paradise in the form of Yosemite National Park. Battling the elements of nature, as well as mental illness leaves these three broken, and defeated. Will they find the solution that can save them, or will they fight against the current until they grow weak, and become just another statistic?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Mere Enchantment by Alicia Rivoli

Mere EnchantmentA World Like No Other…

When a newly formed group of friends finds themselves fighting for survival, little did they know that was just the beginning.

When Chloe, Megan, Jason and Zach are forced to take cover in a nearby cave from a violent storm they find their new friend Preston there as well. Zach guides the group through the cave but as they go deeper strange things begin to happen and they find themselves separated in a magical kingdom surrounded by unusual people and wizards. Things get even more dangerous as they travel the kingdom in search of the city of Mere and each other.

As their journey unfolds, Preston discovers that the bedtime stories he was told as a child are true and that his rightful place in time must be realized. The kingdom itself has gone under attack as Jacan, a traitor to the crown, forces his armies through the magical borders.

Looking back Preston should have recognized that it was all real. He should have seen the signs. But how could he have known? After all, Jacan was just a villain in a story that took place in a far off mystical land. How could he have imagined that the stories that his father told him as a child were true?

How could any of them have known that their destinies were already written, and that to discover who they really are would take courage that they never realized they had?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

American Girl on Saturn By Nikki Godwin

American Girl on SaturnThe summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

First I Love You by Genevieve Dewey

First I Love YouOne part Godfather, two parts Emma and a dash of Casablanca mixed together, “First, I Love You” isn’t a detective novel, a gangster novel, a mystery, a romance or a family saga. It’s a little of all of the above.

Imagine being a detective with a mobster for a father, or a mobster with a straight arrow, good cop for a son. This is a relationship that is tricky on its best day. Add in some well-meaning meddling from a mob princess sister, an arrogant DEA agent, and gangsters running a human trafficking ring and you have a recipe for a book that refuses to follow the rules. Told from the perspective and point of view of each the six main characters this is the first novel in a trilogy about love, loyalty, revenge and redemption.

Omaha Detective Tommy Gates has kept his gangster father at arm’s length his whole life. Mickey Downey has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find ways to get back the son he lost through Witness Protection. Now Tommy has taken an opportunity to work on a Federal Human Trafficking Joint Task Force in Chicago where his father lives. Tommy’s sister Kiki and his mother Mary see this as an opportunity to build a relationship between the two. Tommy’s new DEA partner James Hoffman sees it as an opportunity to gain leverage over Mickey Downey. Tommy’s other partner, FBI Agent Ginny Sommers wants to keep Tommy’s family as far from the case as possible. When Kiki and James join forces, sparks fly and it sets fire to a maelstrom of unexpected consequences for everyone involved.

Amazon

A Construct of Angels by Andrew Toynbee

A Construct of AngelsAfter accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death.

Still haunted by her domineering and abusive stepfather and driven by a life-long search for her missing younger brother, Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilisation into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

This, the first in the ‘Angels of York’ series, follows Sara’s increasingly dangerous adventures during the six days that lead up to the September Equinox, a time of increasing darkness. As the population of York is plunged into panic, overwhelming the emergency services, Sara finds her loyalties torn between her newfound companion, now incarcerated within York’s largest mental institution, and her sworn medical duties.

Should she lend any credence to his insistence that his purpose on Earth is to prevent an imminent catastrophe? Or that it is being orchestrated from within the city itself?

As her nights are filled with terrifying dreams and she is once again confronted by the memories of her abusive childhood, Sara is forced to accept that only one avenue remains open to her – to put her own life to one side in order to help prevent the rapidly approaching doomsday.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Deer in the Headlights by Staci Hart

Deer in the Headlights

Sweary, Sexy 18+ Romance

How do the Greek gods kill time? Because they’re always bored. It’s an unavoidable downside of being alive for thousands of years. So, they play games. Games with human players. Remember Shakespeare? Yeah, that was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite vs Ares.

It’s Aphrodite’s turn once again in the rounds of competitions, and she’ll defend her domain: Love. She hasn’t lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia, and she’s not about to start now. Apollo is her first competitor, and he’s on a mission to win. If he wins, he’ll get a token; a favor that Aphrodite must fulfill. And with that favor, he’ll finally get the one woman he’s never been able to have.

Aphrodite and Apollo will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can’t get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And she couldn’t have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other. They just don’t know it yet.

Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a man-whore. A brooding, gorgeous, rock star man-whore. Lex always has a boyfriend, but she’s never let anyone in enough to let herself go. Not really. Not ever. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can’t make it work, no one can.

But she has more at stake than just Lex and Dean. Apollo killed her mortal love, and that beef has been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to start a fight, and get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, her best friend, is the one person she can confide in, laugh with, and always count on for a healthy helping of bacon when she’s having a bad day.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, and gain power. Making a mess with humans has never been so fun.

 Snake in the Grass by Staci Hart

Snake in the GrassIt’s Round Two of high stakes Love Connection on Olympus, and this time, everything has changed. For Aphrodite, at least.

Ares is on deck, and Aphrodite is nervous. As much as she loves to hook up with him, she doesn’t trust him as far as she could throw him, which isn’t very far. He’s a big dude. They haven’t been together in a very long time, but she can’t resist him. She never could. Even when every part of her screamed that he was a liar.

Ares has a plan to keep Aphrodite, for good this time. He wants to win the game, but he’ll hold back to get what he wants. He’s sitting on a chance that he’s been waiting thousands of years for, and he’ll do what he has to do to convince her to stay forever.

The only thing that could stop him is the secret that he’s been keeping from her for eons. If she finds out, it will destroy everything.

Kat and Dillon have been through a lot, and everything has been to protect their younger siblings. They have sacrificed everything to make sure their brother and sister are safe. The players are tough and loyal. Fierce and determined. But they become each other’s weakness, even though they fight it, and even though it means danger for Kat and her sister.

If Aphrodite can get the players over their egos and issues long enough to see that they’re meant for each other, the competition will be a piece of cake. One that she’ll eat a la mode, right in front of Ares, if she beats him.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

 What the Heart Wants by Staci Hart

What the Heart WantsIt’s 1984, and Tanaka Katsu is paving his way in the Yakuza. His marriage to Yuki was a business deal, and one that he has paid for with his happiness.

Aphrodite can’t stand that he’s so miserable, and Hera, the goddess of marriage and monogamy, has a strong hold on Yuki, who will do whatever it takes to get what she believes is hers. Aphrodite won’t sit by and watch Katsu’s life slip away with no chance at love, so when he takes a trip to Vegas, she’ll introduce him to his match.

Kim never thought she’d be in the situation like the one that’s coming her way, but what the heart wants is a powerful thing, and one that’s impossible to walk away from.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

Sales Saturday: Go Team!

As an Indie author marketing can be hard, and no matter what you do it can feel like you are working against an impenetrable wall of thousands of other Indie books, some of which, where put out there by people who just decided to hit the magical “publish” button. It’s frustrating to see a book you’ve read and know is riddled with errors surpass yours. Even more frustrating to watch some of the things that hit the shelves by major publishers. I know that sounds arrogant, but there’s a little green eyed monster inside of us all, isn’t there? The thing to NOT do is sit there and just think about those “ideas” you have in your head. The thing TO do is to keep pushing forward and think of more things to do to put your novel out there. Keep emailing bloggers, Facebookers, and tweeters, most of all keep writing and formulating bigger and better marketing plans. A marketing plan is the key to a proper roll-out of a novel, and while it will never guarantee you become the next Jessica Sorenson, Colleen Hoover or Jennifer Armentrout, it puts you ahead of the game because it allows you to measure what you’ve done and what you can do better. For more about marketing plans click any of these articles:

Marketing Plan: Part 1

Marketing Plan: Part 2

Marketing Plan: Part 3

Marketing plans can evolve, and very often times do, due to the element of “measuring failures and successes”. As I looked at falling numbers of sales for Love Exactly I realized that I needed to find a unique way to increase numbers on a novel when it was reaching the end of it’s cycle. (We’ll talk about the book life cycle another time). I currently run an independent author support group on Goodreads called the FBI (Fabulous, Bold, Indies), and after interacting with many other authors that are also struggling in the Indie world I took a step back and looked at the group and it’s reasoning.

I began the support group because of the slush of author groups that I’d seen that were only a means of promoting one’s novel. This is great–we need that, but we also need other support–somewhere we can talk about the difficulties of marketing, writing, editing and the publishing world.

Then I thought–why not utilize both of these things to test the theory of “The Power of the Team”. I’ve been a supervisor for some six plus years (which doesn’t sound impressive, I know, but I’m also only 24), and I know the power of working as a team–and the effects of a floundering team. As authors we are independent vehicles; every single one of us is working against the other–pushing, shoving and sometimes kicking, one another aside to get a piece of the “sales” pie. I stepped back and looked at my sales career. At my day job I’ve had to be a strong team player, but I was also a strong independent seller. I’ve learned through my career that both of those things CAN indeed go together. So, why can’t they go together in the publishing world? I think they can, and to prove that I’ve teamed up with a handful of other great (struggling) authors to put on a “Fall in Love with Reading $.99 Sale”. Each one of the great novels showcased is from an independent author and features romance from a tidbit to a whole dollop, so go ahead, fall in love with reading this fall by picking up any of these titles from October 1-7th.

fall in love saleLove Exactly by Cassandra Giovanni

Love ExactlyEmma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again.
Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life.
With just one cup of coffee they’ll begin a journey of self-discovery at each others sides, but can Emma handle Evan’s fame while dealing with her own demons? Emma’s checkered personal past, a bad relationship that haunts the edges of her memories, threatens to make everything implode on them when Evan takes matters into his own hands.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words…they’ll destroy my soul–Can Emma handle being put back together and facing who she’s become because of it?

 

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

Casted by Sonya Loveday

CastedJade had spent the majority of her life running from the Triad. The Triad, are a powerful group, who would stop at nothing to obtain Jade and the missing spell book for leader, Lorenzo’s, nefarious plans. And now that she has absorbed the highly coveted magic contained inside the missing book, there is nowhere left for her to hide.
With the help of her friends, Jade steps out from the shadows and learns how to fight back. But no one is prepared for Elinor-the woman bound inside of the book that’s trapped in Jade’s mind. Now she not only needs to protect herself from the Triad, but from what’s hiding inside her mind as well.
Jade never expected the answer to it all would revolve around love.
Edge is dark, mysterious, and a sworn member of the Triad. He also hides a secret past that threatens the thin line he walks between good and evil. Lives are at stake when Jade and Edge’s two worlds collide. Can Jade learn to trust him when he says he is her pre-ordained and vows to do everything he can to protect her? But more importantly, can she trust herself and the woman in her mind?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

 Waterfalls Down by Danielle Rohr

Water Falls DownWhat have they done to me here, to cause me to be unable to see beyond my cage?

Three teenagers committed and locked away in a mental institution act on impulse, and manage to escape. Without a plan, money, ore even identification Lynn, Chelsea, and Garret must find their way in a very big, and very predatory world. After a great deal of travel and agony, they find paradise in the form of Yosemite National Park. Battling the elements of nature, as well as mental illness leaves these three broken, and defeated. Will they find the solution that can save them, or will they fight against the current until they grow weak, and become just another statistic?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Mere Enchantment by Alicia Rivoli

Mere EnchantmentA World Like No Other…

When a newly formed group of friends finds themselves fighting for survival, little did they know that was just the beginning.

When Chloe, Megan, Jason and Zach are forced to take cover in a nearby cave from a violent storm they find their new friend Preston there as well. Zach guides the group through the cave but as they go deeper strange things begin to happen and they find themselves separated in a magical kingdom surrounded by unusual people and wizards. Things get even more dangerous as they travel the kingdom in search of the city of Mere and each other.

As their journey unfolds, Preston discovers that the bedtime stories he was told as a child are true and that his rightful place in time must be realized. The kingdom itself has gone under attack as Jacan, a traitor to the crown, forces his armies through the magical borders.

Looking back Preston should have recognized that it was all real. He should have seen the signs. But how could he have known? After all, Jacan was just a villain in a story that took place in a far off mystical land. How could he have imagined that the stories that his father told him as a child were true?

How could any of them have known that their destinies were already written, and that to discover who they really are would take courage that they never realized they had?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

American Girl on Saturn By Nikki Godwin

American Girl on SaturnThe summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

First I Love You by Genevieve Dewey

First I Love YouOne part Godfather, two parts Emma and a dash of Casablanca mixed together, “First, I Love You” isn’t a detective novel, a gangster novel, a mystery, a romance or a family saga. It’s a little of all of the above.

Imagine being a detective with a mobster for a father, or a mobster with a straight arrow, good cop for a son. This is a relationship that is tricky on its best day. Add in some well-meaning meddling from a mob princess sister, an arrogant DEA agent, and gangsters running a human trafficking ring and you have a recipe for a book that refuses to follow the rules. Told from the perspective and point of view of each the six main characters this is the first novel in a trilogy about love, loyalty, revenge and redemption.

Omaha Detective Tommy Gates has kept his gangster father at arm’s length his whole life. Mickey Downey has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find ways to get back the son he lost through Witness Protection. Now Tommy has taken an opportunity to work on a Federal Human Trafficking Joint Task Force in Chicago where his father lives. Tommy’s sister Kiki and his mother Mary see this as an opportunity to build a relationship between the two. Tommy’s new DEA partner James Hoffman sees it as an opportunity to gain leverage over Mickey Downey. Tommy’s other partner, FBI Agent Ginny Sommers wants to keep Tommy’s family as far from the case as possible. When Kiki and James join forces, sparks fly and it sets fire to a maelstrom of unexpected consequences for everyone involved.

Amazon

A Construct of Angels by Andrew Toynbee

A Construct of AngelsAfter accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death.

Still haunted by her domineering and abusive stepfather and driven by a life-long search for her missing younger brother, Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilisation into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

This, the first in the ‘Angels of York’ series, follows Sara’s increasingly dangerous adventures during the six days that lead up to the September Equinox, a time of increasing darkness. As the population of York is plunged into panic, overwhelming the emergency services, Sara finds her loyalties torn between her newfound companion, now incarcerated within York’s largest mental institution, and her sworn medical duties.

Should she lend any credence to his insistence that his purpose on Earth is to prevent an imminent catastrophe? Or that it is being orchestrated from within the city itself?

As her nights are filled with terrifying dreams and she is once again confronted by the memories of her abusive childhood, Sara is forced to accept that only one avenue remains open to her – to put her own life to one side in order to help prevent the rapidly approaching doomsday.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Deer in the Headlights by Staci Hart

Deer in the Headlights

Sweary, Sexy 18+ Romance

How do the Greek gods kill time? Because they’re always bored. It’s an unavoidable downside of being alive for thousands of years. So, they play games. Games with human players. Remember Shakespeare? Yeah, that was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite vs Ares.

It’s Aphrodite’s turn once again in the rounds of competitions, and she’ll defend her domain: Love. She hasn’t lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia, and she’s not about to start now. Apollo is her first competitor, and he’s on a mission to win. If he wins, he’ll get a token; a favor that Aphrodite must fulfill. And with that favor, he’ll finally get the one woman he’s never been able to have.

Aphrodite and Apollo will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can’t get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And she couldn’t have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other. They just don’t know it yet.

Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a man-whore. A brooding, gorgeous, rock star man-whore. Lex always has a boyfriend, but she’s never let anyone in enough to let herself go. Not really. Not ever. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can’t make it work, no one can.

But she has more at stake than just Lex and Dean. Apollo killed her mortal love, and that beef has been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to start a fight, and get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, her best friend, is the one person she can confide in, laugh with, and always count on for a healthy helping of bacon when she’s having a bad day.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, and gain power. Making a mess with humans has never been so fun.

 Snake in the Grass by Staci Hart

Snake in the GrassIt’s Round Two of high stakes Love Connection on Olympus, and this time, everything has changed. For Aphrodite, at least.

Ares is on deck, and Aphrodite is nervous. As much as she loves to hook up with him, she doesn’t trust him as far as she could throw him, which isn’t very far. He’s a big dude. They haven’t been together in a very long time, but she can’t resist him. She never could. Even when every part of her screamed that he was a liar.

Ares has a plan to keep Aphrodite, for good this time. He wants to win the game, but he’ll hold back to get what he wants. He’s sitting on a chance that he’s been waiting thousands of years for, and he’ll do what he has to do to convince her to stay forever.

The only thing that could stop him is the secret that he’s been keeping from her for eons. If she finds out, it will destroy everything.

Kat and Dillon have been through a lot, and everything has been to protect their younger siblings. They have sacrificed everything to make sure their brother and sister are safe. The players are tough and loyal. Fierce and determined. But they become each other’s weakness, even though they fight it, and even though it means danger for Kat and her sister.

If Aphrodite can get the players over their egos and issues long enough to see that they’re meant for each other, the competition will be a piece of cake. One that she’ll eat a la mode, right in front of Ares, if she beats him.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

 What the Heart Wants by Staci Hart

What the Heart WantsIt’s 1984, and Tanaka Katsu is paving his way in the Yakuza. His marriage to Yuki was a business deal, and one that he has paid for with his happiness.

Aphrodite can’t stand that he’s so miserable, and Hera, the goddess of marriage and monogamy, has a strong hold on Yuki, who will do whatever it takes to get what she believes is hers. Aphrodite won’t sit by and watch Katsu’s life slip away with no chance at love, so when he takes a trip to Vegas, she’ll introduce him to his match.

Kim never thought she’d be in the situation like the one that’s coming her way, but what the heart wants is a powerful thing, and one that’s impossible to walk away from.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

Sales Saturday: Professionalism in the Workplace

You’re probably wondering how in the world “professionalism in the workplace” has anything to do with being an author, or publishing, but I assure you it does. It means even more if you’re indie. If you’re traditional, you have the robotic mechanics down–someone else is posting on your website, sometimes your blog, but either way there is a vetting process. When you’re indie there is one vetting process–YOU. What I’ve seen time and time again is the fact that some forget that this really is a career to some people. I’ve had fights with my husband about this very same thing–why do I have to post on a regular schedule on my blog, why do I have to spend 3-4 hours a week marketing, but he never questions the actually writing. He used to tell me it was a hobby–he doesn’t anymore. Maybe it’s because I actually started to sell enough that it constitutes more than a $20 per month stipend from Amazon–or maybe it’s because he’s seen how seriously I take this. I imagine this as my sole career, with a marketing company to help indies on the side, someday and thus, I must always think about presenting myself in a professional way.

The Author Workplace AKA the Internet

Part A) The Blog

It’s a soft line in the sand, professionalism VS. way too much information in the author world. Every author is told you need to have a blog, but the guidelines from there get very vague. What do I put on my blog–what do I say? How do I present myself? The presentation is where things tend to get a bit, let’s say, soggy. As an author you do want to let your readers get to know you. It makes everything about reading the books you write that much cooler. It makes you that much more human. I’ve learned after countless times of explaining my two part job–one as a Retail Banking Operations Manager and then as a published Author, that no matter how insignificant you feel in the publishing world, the second you say I’m published, people go nuts. Their eyes widen and they say “So you’re like famous?”. The other reason I get a jaw drop is because I apparently look like I’m eighteen, that being put aside, being able to say I’m published usually leads into the conversations about where they can find you. The best place is your blog–and that’s the last place you want to put information that say, your main employer could find, that’s unsavory, or as I’ve seen just a tad bit oddThe sogginess of the blog dilemma is knowing exactly where the line is that crosses from letting your readers get to know you, to just way too much information. I’m not going to lie, I’ve read things I just didn’t want to know about authors on their blogs, or that frankly, I just didn’t care about. You want what you convey on your blog to be of value to your readers, because you might find some of those readers are solely readers of your blog and not your novels. I’ve made several business contacts in the business world that I know follow my blog, but would never read my books–they enjoy the content of the blog, especially my Saturday ramblings about sales. So how do you determine what to post on your blog? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Would this fall under TMI to those who don’t know me?
  • Am I portraying myself the way I’d like to be seen?*
  • Does this add value to not only the readers of my novels, but the sole readers of my blog?
  • Does this make a person want to go out and buy my book? (This doesn’t always have to be yes, but if it pertains directly to your book, it should be yes)
  • Would I find this information useful or pertinent on someone else’s blog?
  • Would I be comfortable with my grandmother reading this?
  • Would I be comfortable with my employer reading this?**

*In thinking of portraying yourself you must also think about the content of your novels. I know several writers whose blogs are never serious, which is fine, but the question that occurs is–are your books jiving with the appearance that you are giving? If you are never serious on your blog, your books shouldn’t be serious either. The reason being, and some may disagree, that if you portray yourself as silly–then that is what the reader is going to believe your books will be. You create the image of your books by creating the “brand” of you as an author, so if your books are serious, but you never are, then your readers will end up confused. It will especially confuse those readers that have never read your novels, because you are the first stop on their impression of what that novel might be like.

**Yes, the big employer question. I’m not going to lie there are somethings I wouldn’t really want my employer to read on my blog–like the steamy excerpts, or the excerpts that contain swears, but there’s another line–one that’s harder to define. It isn’t really about professionalism in this case, because it’s a part of my job as an author to market my novel and it’s content. I would be doing an injustice to my readers if I let my stringent professionalism in my day job not allow my characters to swear! So there it is. My characters swear, and yes, they have sex, but I don’t think that’s a secret.

Part B) Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Ah, yes, the social media craze. I’d say that most social media follows the same general guidelines as your blog does. You want to ask yourself the same questions about each of your posts, and make sure that you are comfortable with your answers. There is, however, another very helpful hinter I can give you. I’m a part of an author group where an author got flamed by a parent who saw their daughter looking at their slightly provocative Facebook. The reason was that they didn’t have their settings in Facebook correct. Please, especially if you’re a New Adult or Adult author who posts pictures of half-naked promos, make sure these settings are correct.

Edit Page> Edit Settings> Age Restrictions

Edit Page> Edit Settings> Profanity Filter

Part C) Responding to Reviews

Now this, this, is a hot topic of debate across many boards. What do you do about nasty, unhelpful, ridiculous reviews? You LEAVE THEM BE. Do not respond. Do not attempt to delete them. Do not sit there and seethe like a child who just got their toy taken away.  DO NOT have a friend or family member respond. Move on and keep on moving. It is extremely unprofessional to respond to a review of this nature, even if you “try” to do so subjectively. The end game is, your book is your baby, and you can’t respond subjectively.  The most important part is that everyone is entitled to their opinion of your novel, and after some period of time you will get to the point where you see a bad review and you can laugh at it–not spitefully, but just in general, laugh. I finally got to that point, and boy, did it feel good! The other side of the coin is responding to good reviews. I’d say you can do this, it’s not unprofessional, but at some point you just won’t be able to anymore. I do a simple “like” on GoodReads and move on.

You’re a author, take it seriously, just like it were your day job. You represent the masses of authors that are Indie, and everything you say and do leaves an impression of how Indie authors are. Don’t be the bad apple that spoils the bunch.

If you’re indie, don’t forget to join the FBI!

indie author grab

Sales Saturday: Check-Points

Does anyone remember this little guy from my post back in January where I talked about Setting Goals? There were a few steps I mentioned in the process–Goals must have the following elements:

  • Specific
  • Challenging
  • Accepted
  • Feedback

We’ve come to a bit over the half-way point in the year, and thus we need to reach a Feedback check-point. It’s time to look at the goals and evaluate progress. I’m going to warn you–my life took an unexpected turn that I never expected, so here are the results:

Book Related:

  • Distribute 400 books this year between giveaways and real sales. Last year I distributed 240 books between InBS and WITS

Results: I’ve sold over 1000 books, SOLD them, this doesn’t include giveaways. With giveaways I’m looking at close to 1200 books. I’m still in shock, but as is natural with my personality, I WANT more. I NEED more. Watch out Colleen Hoover, I aim on being as successful as you.

  • Publish 3 novels. Last year I published 2. I have one set in stone to publish this month, and I would like to release one in the Summer and one in the Winter. Which ones they will be really depends on the development of what I am currently writing.

Results: I admit I got seriously side-tracked. I mean it. When I wrote that blog post I was working on Deadly Sins and hadn’t even thought up Love Exactly. Imagine that only 5 months later I’d published a novel I’d not even thought of yet, and it’s the one responsible for the 1000 book mark. I marketed that thing to an inch of my life. I poured everything I had into it, and the results speak for themselves. I hit #1 in Books on Dysfunctional Relationships. My pride begged me to keep it there, but I couldn’t once I looked at the other books on the list. They were true-stories, Love Exactly is fictional. Thus, I contacted Amazon and fixed the issue. I hated to see it drop from #1, but it wasn’t in the right playground. So I’ve got 2 novels down, one more to go to hit my goal. Can I do it? I hope so, but when I intended on getting back to Deadly Sins, I got side-tracked again with the newly named Flawed Perfection (Beautifully Broken, #1). Then the readers begged until I caved, and I announced Love Exactly would become Love Exactly (Sticks & Stones, #1).

  • Reach 250 followers on my blog. I am at 139 now, and that was since May.

Results: This is the most shocking bit to me…I now have 1400 followers. I exceeded my goal be even more than my sales goal, and each week I’m moving up by about 10%. Seriously, thank you guys. You’re amazing!

  • Have 4,000 views on my blog. This year I got 2,800 views since May.

Results: Again, I’ve exceeded my goal, and I am currently at 5871 views.

  • Reach 100 fans on Goodreads.

Results: I’ve reached 190.

  • Get some five stars, get some two stars, maybe some one stars: Stop reading every review and making myself feel like a bug pinned to a board. Reviews are important, but when they make you feel like less of a person, less of a writer, like an insect–it’s time to stop reading them. I’m also hoping I will get so many that I can’t read them all.

Results: EPIC FAIL. For the life of me I can’t stop reading them, but I’ll tell you this, even with the fact that Love Exactly is loosely based on my own experience, I feel more immune to it. I had a reviewer apologize because they thought Emma was all over the place, and they didn’t like her. I frowned, not because I was upset–Emma is much like me, and honestly, I am well aware there are people out there that don’t like me (you have a right to feel whatever way you wish)–but because she apologized. She owned it as her opinion, she explained why she didn’t like Emma. She has that right. Now I can even look at the review that made my blood boil–the one of InBS where the person told me I should rot in hell for writing it, and any one who liked it should join me, and I laugh. I think that shows some growth. Now that I say this I’m going to get a review that has me in tears–I just know it!

  • Design at least 10 book covers for myself and other authors.

Results: EPIC fail…or maybe not. Honestly, I haven’t had time to design them for anyone but myself, although I’ve had requests.

  • Get better at writing and marketing my book.

Results: Yeah, I’d say I’ve done that, but guess what–I will always be striving towards this goal. There is no way I will ever accomplish it completely.

  • Continue to post at least three times a week.

Results: I’d say I do this 85% of the time, that’s pretty good considering my current schedule.

  • Maybe, just maybe, make some money doing this.

Results: I might be able to payoff the “book credit card”. I have reached the threshold where I have to report the earnings on my taxes, and hire an accountant because they’ve become too complex between earnings and business costs.

  • Have a successful book reading.

Results: Errm…I had a successful signing, but I’ve moved away from readings. They just aren’t popular in my geographic area.

  • Inspire someone.

Results: I don’t know what the results of this are. Have I inspired anyone? Have I inspired you? Let me know 😉

Personal:

I can’t share all of these because anyone can view my website 😉

  • Receive my Associates Degree in Marketing.

Results: Not there yet, but my Financial Accounting books are here for me, and I’ve reached the half-way point in my degree.

  • Look into getting my Bachelors Degree.

Results: I’m not sure if and when I will look into this. Once I finish my degree I’d like to solely concentrate on getting out as many high quality books as possible. School does get in the way of this, so I might opt to see where being an author takes me.

  • Continue to expand my photography company Gio Design Studios–post at least once a month on there.

Results: EPIC fail, but again, I just haven’t had time. Photography is a fun side job for me–I’ll be leaving shortly to view a venue where I am doing a wedding. 🙂

  • Begin the process of converting the photography company into a publications marketing company (designing covers/back covers, advertisements, book trailers).

Results: The conversion is complete. The company now has two slogans and websites: Gio Design Studios, More Than Just Cameras and Cars–photography; Gio Design Studios, More Than Just a Book–book marketing.

  • Start to actually save some money.

Results: Fail, or not? I’m not sure. My husband and I hit troubled waters, more bills than money, but we’ve been there and done that. We’ve hit an impasse, and are now able to save money as of this month–I’ll explain the reason to this, which was something I didn’t want to post on here in January. I’d been looking for a new job that better utilized my skills, and would be a promotion. I got it, and the best part is, it’s at the company I’ve worked at for the past 5 years. I’m so happy that I was able to stay with the company as it grows and evolves. I went from an Assistant Branch Manager to Branch Administration, Retail Banking Operations Manager. THE best part is, although I’m working 42-45 hours a week, I actually love my high-stress, run, run job. It takes every part of the jobs I’ve held in the past that I loved and combines it into one job, with the added perks of being involved with our marketing department. It’s amazing. I’m still in shock that I got my dream job, and that it actually is what I wanted, for we all know the grass isn’t always greener! 😉

  • Be able to say that I’ve kept the weight off for two years.

Results: I’ve kept the weight off for OVER two years.

  • Try not to let people asking me if I eat bug me. Tell people to shove their sandwiches in their own mouths.

Results: My husband now asks me if I ate anything when I get home, but only because I’m go-go getter 🙂 Those that asked me if I was eating are no longer in the picture.

  • Get my In Between Seasons tattoo.

Results: Scratch that. I want a different one, and I’m sold on it. I’ve designed it, and I’d like it on my other wrist. My husband is dead set against it. 

  • Help my dog lose some weight, too.

Results: Bubski is at the perfect weight for his little ChuRussellness. (Chihuahua Jack Russell), and has been for about two months. The vet was thrilled! 🙂

  • Continue to work out three times a week.

Results: The new job has caused a need for adjustment in my schedule. I didn’t work out last week, but next week I’m setting a schedule that works with the new job, and I’m sticking to it.

  • Start taking my camera with my everywhere so that I stop feeling like I’ve missed that perfect shot.

Results: If I forget mine, Jeff usually has his, so I just steal it! 🙂 I also have a cell phone with a 13 megapixel camera!

  • Manage my time better.

Results: Husband says: No. I say YES, I published a book in under 5 months…start to finish!

So how are you doing with your goals?

Sales Saturday: Press Releases

It would appear that just like paperbacks are waning, so is the traditional newspaper. The newspaper isn’t dead, though–it’s found a different format–the internet.  The newspaper and other media distributors are a great source for authors to advertise. The reason is simple–it’s FREE. If you write a great press release then you will get free marketing from the distributor that you have inquired with. There are some basics that are a bit obvious: make sure your grammar is correct and the press release is free of typos, you include pertinent information, and you include websites for the readers to get additional information, but how do you find out where to send your press release?

First and foremost, you will want to post your press release on your own website. This can often be forgotten when you are sending them off to a dozen or so media sources. The next thing you should do is find vendors that are in the location of your event, or if your event is online–or is simply just announcing the release of your book, vendors that will find sympathy and wish to post your information. Either way location can be quite important as far as where you are. It makes no sense for me, as a author from Connecticut, to send a press release to a vendor in California. The reason I say this is that many papers are locally run, and thus, they strongly support businesses and writers in their area. Yes, I want people in California to buy my book, but it would be a waste of time for me to send a press release to a paper that has no gain in promoting me. If you want to reach people outside of your local you can hire an agency such as PRNewsChannel or connect with bloggers who may be interested in posting your press release. As far as working with bloggers to issue press releases, I have found that asking for participation in cover reveals, book blitzes, and blog tours is much more effective because they aren’t as dry and bland. Press releases are meant to cut to the point and while a well written one is a pleasure to read, they aren’t much more than 200 words. I can’t recall the last time I saw a blogger post a press release; however, I’m quite sure that if I asked many would help. It just becomes redundant if these bloggers are also helping out with any of the other marketing events that I described.

I’ve personally had a lot of luck with press releases–I’ve had two of them printed in the local newspaper and the third one was posted on their website. I know who my local papers are, and they do try to support local authors. My first press release caught the attention of the Bulletin, and instead of just a bland press release, I was interviewed and reported on in the paper– it was an amazing experience!

As you can see press releases are very important for letting your local community know that you exist and how to find you. The press release may be intimidating, because as an author you have already written so much. You have a zillion posts for blog tours, and you already had to sum up your 50k+ book into -300 words! After all that, a press release is a little thing. The first one I wrote took me a good two hours, but with time it gets easier. You get a format that works for you and you run with it; the press release for Love Exactly took me about 15 minutes! So here are the basics:

  1. Know your vendors and follow their guidelines (the Bulletin requires less than 200 words in length, proper grammar, free of typos, and sent within 2 weeks of the asked for post date).
  2. Include the day you want the release to go out. You will see most sample press releases say “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”–don’t just go with this because the sample says it. This tells the paper to release it as soon as they can, but if you want it to run on a specific date, you will want to note this.
  3. Make it snappy! You want it to draw in the reader, so throw in something to make them interested.
  4. It’s okay to add in something like “the highly anticipated release”–it is for you, isn’t it? This catch line will keep the person reading, and then they may look you up to see what’s so awesome and forthcoming.
  5. Include your website and contact information.
  6. If it’s an event be sure to include dates, times and rain dates, if applicable.
  7. Don’t forget to talk about your book–throw in something from your book blurb, but don’t try to fit the whole thing in! You won’t be able to fit your whole book blurb into a press release for most local papers due to length restrictions (they post these for FREE for you, so they don’t want to take up too much space).
  8. Don’t forget to send it out once you write it!
  9. Make sure you list your credentials or previous works (if you have a lot you may just want to sum up a few key points).
  10. Follow-up to make sure you know when they will be posting it so you can grab up a few copies for yourself!

newspaper

Here is the press release for Love Exactly sent to the Bulletin and others yesterday:

FOR RELEASE ON OR WITHIN THE WEEK OF JUNE 20, 2013

Cassandra Giovanni’s highly anticipated debut into the New Adult genre, Love Exactly, will be released on June 20, 2013. Giovanni debuted onto shelves in May of 2012 with her unique take on Young Adult post-apocalyptic fiction, In Between Seasons (The Fall, #1). Later that year her Young Adult Romantic Suspense novel, Walking in the Shadows was released, and in January 2013 her first Children’s Illustrated novel, The Adventures of Skippy Von Flippy was released. Giovanni continues to blaze her path in the publishing world with her Contemporary Romance Love Exactly. The novel concentrates on the protagonist’s struggle to keep her dark past in the confines of her memory while handling a budding relationship with a famous musician who is just as reluctant to let someone in as she is. Emma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again. Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life. Together they will find out what it means to be in Love Exactly. A release signing will be held on June 22, 2013 at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT from 2:30-4:30 PM. For more information please contact Bank Square Books at (860) 536-3795 or visit http://www.cgiovanni.com.

Work in Progress:Marketing the Tour

Right now the manuscript just came back from my Beta readers hands. She found some great typos, and pointed out some minor changes that need to be made. It’s still in the hands of my amazing editor, Whyte Rose Violet & Scribes, but should be back by the week’s end. While I wait to hear back I’ve been working on marketing the blog tour, as well as the full paperback cover. There will be a release day blitz hosted by Girls Heart Books on June 20th, and then two weeks of tours for the books. The first week, June 24-30 will also be hosted by Girls Heart Books. The second week, July 1-7 has been managed by me. It’s a huge task to take on, but I’m really happy with the way things are shaping up. Here is the schedule (just waiting to hear back from one of my author fabulous bloggers, Babblings of a Bookaholic), along with tour button.

blog tour button

 

Blog Tour Dates and Stops:

July 1:

·         Sara–http://enthralledbybooks.blogspot.com/

Excerpt and Playlist

·         Danielle–http://denaliskies.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Steamy Vs. Beautiful Sex Scenes

·         Amy–http://www.the-book-diaries.blogspot.com/

Review and Favorites Excerpt

 

July 2:

·         Maggie—http://maggiethom.com/

(Possible) Review and Interview

·         Tiffany–http://tiffanylovesbooks.wordpress.com/

Dream Cast

·         My Guilty Obsession—http://myguiltyobsession.blogspot.com/

Review and My Favorite Excerpt (guest post/excerpt combo—my fav and why)

 

July 3:

·         Julie–http://chapterbreak.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Pros and Cons of being Self-Published

·         Dee–http://www.thebookwranglers.com/

Review and Interview

·         Faith–http://sweetreez.wordpress.com/

Faith’s choice playlist and dreamcast

 

July 4:

·         Nitzan-Katia Schwarz–http://drugscalledbooks.blogspot.co.il/

Guest Post—10 things I never thought I’d tell you

·         Rebekkah—http://themusingwriter.blogspot.com/?

Character Interview—Evan

·         Kimberely—http://kimberleyjones17.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—Making Sparks Fly

·         Krystal–http://enchantingreads7.blogspot.com/

Review and Evan’s Tattoo’s Guest Post 

 

July 5:

·         Tanya–http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/

Guest Post-How I fell in love with writing again

·         Martha–http://theshortone08.blogspot.com/

Review

·         Mary Sue–http://marysuehobika.wordpress.com/

Interview

 

July 6:

·         Nicole–http://bookaddictedaa.blogspot.com/

Character Top 10—Evan’s for writing music

·         Vanessa– http://www.boekiesbookreviews.com/

·         Mandy–http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—YA Vs. NA

·         Jessica Tornese–http://jessicatornese.com/

Guest Post—Writing Rituals (where I write)

 

July 7:

·         Krista–http://breatheinbooks.blogspot.com/

Review and favorites excerpt

·         Kirsty–http://kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Character Interview–Emma

·         Christine–http://www.shebookblogs.com/

Review, Excerpt and playlist

Other exciting things happening will be the huge giveaway scavenger hunt. Each of the tour stops will have a bold term, which will earn an extra entry into the giveaway. What’s in the giveaway? Lots of great stuff, of course! There will be more to come on that later. New authors out there, blog tours are a huge part of a successful marketing plan. One thing to be clear is that they aren’t about increasing, but about increasing sales as well as exposure. This is about branding your style as an author and connecting with your readers. This is why giveaways are a great thing to have, the scavenger hunt is an even better way to get the readers involved on each stop. This is great marketing because each stop has something unique to offer, you solidify the want for the novel, and it also creates great marketing for the actual blogger who has assisted you by participating. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that blog tours are a lot of work, first there is the finding of bloggers, the organizing of the dates and the events. The events–that’s the biggest amount of work. There are a lot of posts to write, lists, character biographies and interviews. It’s ALL worth it, because honestly, just like writing a book, it’s amazing fun! I can’t wait for you to see the different posts on the tours!

As for the paperback cover–I’m having some trouble choosing the back cover photograph. Here are the choices. What do you think? It will be set to the lower right corner and will fade into the black background of the cover, and in case you are wondering, yes that is me.

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