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Author Topic: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money  (Read 12261 times)  

Offline angela65

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #100 on: September 15, 2016, 05:50:16 AM »
Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?

Wow. Really? Rosalind is one of the most helpful authors on here. I keep waiting for her to disappear like so many successful writers before her- Amanda Lee, Chris Fox, Libbie Hawker, Annie B. and I could go on and on. These were all Kboards regulars who were always willing to help out, and now they rarely show up, if at all. I suspect many of them leave because of posts like this.

Offline Ian W. Sainsbury

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #101 on: September 15, 2016, 06:42:31 AM »
I'm new at this - been lurking on these boards for a few months now, slightly intimidated by the sheer amount of information, help and advice available here. So thanks, everyone, for this incredible resource.
Rosalind, what a great post. I've had some early success with my first book (particularly in the UK) and I guess it's down to a combination of luck and the fact that I wrote a story I wanted to read. Your approach really resonated with me. There's a ton of stuff on kboards about marketing, promoting, blogging and selling - and I hope to be able to apply some of what I've been reading when I launch book 2 of my series at the end of the month. But hearing about someone doing so well by concentrating on what's really important - the storytelling, the writing, the importance of being 'hooky' - really made my day. The writing - the story - is the exciting bit!
"There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need."
I guess we figure it out by writing books we'd buy and read ourselves.
Thanks again - and congratulations on your success.

Ian W. Sainsbury | blog | facebook

Offline Evenstar

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #102 on: September 15, 2016, 06:59:26 AM »
Wow. Really? Rosalind is one of the most helpful authors on here. I keep waiting for her to disappear like so many successful writers before her- Amanda Lee, Chris Fox, Libbie Hawker, Annie B. and I could go on and on. These were all Kboards regulars who were always willing to help out, and now they rarely show up, if at all. I suspect many of them leave because of posts like this.

Nope, it's posts like yours (and those below) that make them stay  :D
I was recently skewered in a similar way and several people jumped in to say how helpful and nice I was. Each one of those posts lifted me way higher than the other post could ever have managed to bring me down. I think it's great, because Rosalind doesn't even need to respond herself for that message to be sent.

I am constantly struck by how supportive the Indie community is in general, but especially here. There are so few places on the internet where other people in your field are never treated like competition but instead are always doing their best to help each other.  There is no inner-circle here, but there is certainly a lot of great advice and more than that, a lot of support, not just for writing, but in general. Many people have said they found the post inspirational, which is just as helpful as the areas that Jedi Reach wanted her to cover. Yay!


Offline Moist_Tissue

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #103 on: September 15, 2016, 07:40:43 AM »
Thank you Rosalind. Your journey is inspiring.
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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #104 on: September 15, 2016, 07:45:42 AM »
OK, folks.

Thanks to all of our members who have kept it civil.

I have removed a post, however, that crossed the line and some that responded to that post.

Jedi Reach, if you would like more information from Rosalind, there's nothing wrong with asking for it civilly.  Posts that are not civil or include personal attacks will be removed.  PM me if you have any questions.  If this thread is not interesting to you, please move on.  Lots of other threads.

Let's move on, folks, so as to not derail the thread for others.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #105 on: September 15, 2016, 07:56:05 AM »
Great for you, but this isn't that helpful. Yeah, we get it, you write for your specific sub-genre audience. That's cool, but what else do you do? How are you managing your email lists? What tactics do you use to bring in your audience? Are you successful straight through Amazon only? Do you avoid promotion companies? Are you saying you just published specific genre based books and got lucky? Seriously, what are you doing? Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?
On page 4, I link to other posts and threads by myself and others that give specific info on specific topics. I also have a thread in the sticky threads at the top of the Writers Cafe called FAQs and Useful Threads or something called What Worked for Me. Or you can go to my website and search for that and find it. That FAQs sticky has the most useful threads from lots of successful folks. Well worth a look.

To answer your specific questions, I don't write in a niche. I write in four subgenres of romance but some common elements in my work seem to come through for a certain audience. I write realistically and with a lot of warmth and an emphasis on family and friendship, and I write with humor. I write place well and I write emotion well. I write steamy but not explicit. Those are some of the specifics about the writing.

I am in Select and it seems to work better than wide for me. I am not a great marketer and don't do that much. Currently I am using Amazon ads and getting some visibility from the books of mine that are trad pubbed through various Amazon arms. Almost all my books are in audio and five are translated to German with more to come, and those things help. Basically though, IMHO the most important marketing happens before you publish the book, as I explain in my What Worked for Me post. I can't give too many specifics about "Do This and You'll Be Successful." My advice tends to be very basic and I think a lot of success comes down to basics. Many people have found books like Chris Fox's and Libbie Hawker's useful for specifics.

I have a mailing list now but I didn't for the first few years. Probably dumb. Most of my success has been word of mouth I believe.

I hope that helps. Thanks to all the others who've chimed in. I do understand how frustrating this business can be.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 10:24:59 AM by Rosalind J »

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #106 on: September 15, 2016, 07:57:26 AM »
Whoops sorry Betsy. I wasn't offended. I got it.



My post referred to a post that has been removed.  Thanks for responding to Jedi Reach's legitimate question. --Betsy
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 10:40:28 AM by Betsy the Quilter »

Offline Jedi Reach

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #107 on: September 15, 2016, 09:27:45 AM »
On page 4, I link to other posts and threads by myself and others that give specific info on specific topics. I also have a thread in the sticky threads at the top of the Writers Cafe called FAQs and Useful Threads or something called What Worked for Me. Or you can go to my website and search for that and find it. That FAQs sticky has the most useful threads from lots of successful folks. Well worth a look.

To answer your specific questions, I don't write in a niche. I write in four subgenres of romance but some common elements in my work seem to come through for a certain audience. I write realistically and with a lot of warmth and an emphasis on family and friendship, and I write with humor. I write place well and I write emotion well. I write steamy but not explicit. Those are some of the specifics about the writing.

I am in Select and it seems to work better than wide for me. I am not a great marketer and don't do that much. Currently I am using Amazon ads and getting some visibility from the books of mine that are trad pubbed through various Amazon arms. Almost all my books are in audio and five are translated to German with more to come, and those things help. Basically though, IMHO the most important marketing happens before you publish the book, as I explain in my What Worked for Me post. I can't give too many specifics about "Do This and You'll Be Successful." My advice tends to be very basic and I think a lot of success comes down to basics. Many people have found books like Chris Fox's and Libboe Hawker's useful for specifics.

I have a mailing list now but I didn't for the first few years. Probably dumb. Most of my success has been word of mouth I believe.

I hope that helps. Thanks to all the others who've chimed in. I do understand how frustrating this business can be.
Thank you.




Edited.  As I said earlier, if you have any questions about the moderation of this thread, please PM me. --Betsy/KB Mod
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 10:38:55 AM by Betsy the Quilter »

One Click. Enter my word.

Offline BellaJames

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #108 on: September 15, 2016, 09:43:29 AM »
I'm going to say this because I'm one of those people who needs to find answers to my burning questions and I search, I ask, I read and I listen.

Jedi Reach, I get your point but maybe the first part of your comment didn't sound so friendly.

I'm a long time lurker and I read quite a few posts by authors like Rosalind, H.M. Ward, Bella Andre and numerous others (I am writing romance so they interest me more) and I spend far too much time searching round the internet for more information on self-publishing. I have a folder full of stuff.

I just read an AMA on reddit by a NY times bestselling romance author and I was shaking my head at some of the questions the members asked. They were odd. Not much about her preparation, the way she works, how she got published, how she achieved her success etc... I presume most on that AMA are not writers but readers or people who wanted to ask a romance author about bedroom issues.

I like these sorts of threads, however I will add that these threads are more helpful when other members ask direct questions to the OP, rather than the OP writing a novel length first post. If you understand what I mean.

How I see it is, you have a successful author on here who is open and sharing her knowledge and experience, ask her some questions.

Oh and from what I've seen, Rosalind has shared a lot of good information and advice on here. You can look back at her old posts.

Thank you Rosalind for answering my question earlier.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 10:14:07 AM by BellaJames »

Offline KeenToWrite

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #109 on: September 15, 2016, 10:03:34 AM »
Jedi Reach, the point of the original post wasn't to provide a flow chart for success. It was to share a personal story with the intent of offering inspiration to others. Saying "this isn't that helpful" and "make this post actually helpful" and "Cool. I guess?" - those are far from neutral statements, nor do they constitute a simple request for information. This post has been helpful to a lot of people here, as is apparent in the responses. There's plenty of great advice on these boards that can help you, which other authors have been more than happy to provide out of kindness. I don't think it's a huge ask that they be offered the same kindness in return.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #110 on: September 15, 2016, 10:18:20 AM »
Look, I'm pretty sure my post was neutral and if anything, leaning on the right intent to sort out helpful information. At no point was there ever a personal attack. The only 'attacks' came after when the fans lost their mind at me ASKING FOR INFORMATION instead of [mutual admiration society]ing. If that's the 'reg' on these boards to worship over gaining USEFUL INFORMATION THAT CAN HELP US then you can go ahead and close my account right now. I didn't sign up to fan anybody.
Thank you.

I think folks jumped in because I actually have given all the info you asked for in other posts (including What Worked for Me, which pretty much details everything I did during my first year or so of publishing). This particular post was on another topic. People who responded to say "thanks" have probably read my other posts and my responses in other threads, so I guess they were just responding to this particular thing at this time.

Mostly, in this post I wasn't trying to say, "Yay, me" (at least I hope I wasn't) so much as to talk about the ways our minds try to trick us into thinking, "You're not good enough" and "Look at how much better Author X is doing." I was trying to offer up my own approach to dealing with that critical voice, because that's been my biggest struggle so far in publishing.

If you want more step-by-step advice, I do suggest you (or anybody) check out that FAQs thread at the top. That's FULL of step-by-step advice from people more successful than me, who've approached their careers much more methodically. Here is the link:

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,41454.0.html

(And, yes, although I understood where your post came from, I did think it came off a little harsh. If you want info from authors, there's probably a better way to ask for it.)



« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 10:20:55 AM by Rosalind J »

Offline Dale Ivan Smith

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #111 on: September 15, 2016, 10:29:20 AM »

On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.
Rosalind,

Congratulations on your very well-earned success! This is so inspiring, especially that you write what you are passionate about even as you aim for your genre's "reader bullseye" (to quote my editor). I'm pushing publish two months from today--the first novel is ready to go, and I'm rewriting the second. I also love how in tune you are with your own process. Thank you for sharing this!

Dale Ivan Smith | Website | Facebook

Offline Steven Slavick

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #112 on: September 15, 2016, 11:04:05 AM »
Thanks for taking the time to post, Rosalind! You're always gracious and inspiring, and I love it when fellow authors reveal a little of the backstory behind their success, especially when they didn't follow the typical road to achieve their goals. Kudos to you!


Offline m.a. petterson

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #113 on: September 15, 2016, 11:53:34 AM »
Thank you for posting, Rosalind -- especially the links.

I found the hooky one pretty damn hooky!


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Offline SM Barrett

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #114 on: September 15, 2016, 04:01:13 PM »
Rosalind,

First of all, thank you. Trying to convince myself that the new series I'm working on might just find some success is certainly the most difficult thing I deal with, and it seems many authors struggle with self-doubt. Recently, in a conversation on stage with Stephen King, George R. R. Martin expressed doubts on his abilities, which was sobering.
Posts like yours are like cool water after a hike through a desert.

I noticed you mentioned using Amazon ads. I've looked into this, especially the pay-per-click vs. Campaign options, and I'm wondering if you've ever written in detail about your experience and advice with this marketing option.

Long-time lurker, fan of your posts! :)
S.M. Barrett

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #115 on: September 15, 2016, 04:53:16 PM »
Super inspiring. :) Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #116 on: September 15, 2016, 05:03:01 PM »
Rosalind,

First of all, thank you. Trying to convince myself that the new series I'm working on might just find some success is certainly the most difficult thing I deal with, and it seems many authors struggle with self-doubt. Recently, in a conversation on stage with Stephen King, George R. R. Martin expressed doubts on his abilities, which was sobering.
Posts like yours are like cool water after a hike through a desert.

I noticed you mentioned using Amazon ads. I've looked into this, especially the pay-per-click vs. Campaign options, and I'm wondering if you've ever written in detail about your experience and advice with this marketing option.

Long-time lurker, fan of your posts! :)
I don't have too much to say about those ads, really. I use both kinds, and they both work pretty well. I experimented with them--they're much, MUCH easier to learn to use than Facebook ads. The Product Display ones are quite a bit easier to "get," and they pay off about as well in my experience. The main thing is having a hooky tag line and a good cover.

I guess I'd say, set your budget low and try a few ads and see which work best, draw some conclusions, keep experimenting. Remember that they'll only show the amount you earn from SALES, not borrows. You can probably figure that you'll get borrows on your usual sales-to-borrows ratio, so you can add that amount in there as well.

I figure these ads are strong because you're advertising exactly where people are looking for BOOKS, and you can target people who buy exactly your type of book. They're on their Kindles or on an Amazon book page because they're shopping for books, and they're two clicks away from being able to buy or borrow yours. That's about as targeted as you can get for an ad--a whole lot more targeted than Facebook.

Offline SM Barrett

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #117 on: September 15, 2016, 05:08:14 PM »
Much appreciated! These sorts of details do help!
S.M. Barrett

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #118 on: September 15, 2016, 05:12:51 PM »
Much appreciated! These sorts of details do help!

I should add that my effective ads range from about 7-17 cents/click, and that the click-through rate on the good ones is .7-.9%. I consider those pretty good numbers in the context of a positive or nearly positive ROI from purchases alone.

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #119 on: September 16, 2016, 11:34:24 AM »
Great for you, but this isn't that helpful. Yeah, we get it, you write for your specific sub-genre audience. That's cool, but what else do you do? How are you managing your email lists? What tactics do you use to bring in your audience? Are you successful straight through Amazon only? Do you avoid promotion companies? Are you saying you just published specific genre based books and got lucky? Seriously, what are you doing? Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?

Dude, Rosalind has made more than 4000 posts on here, nearly all of them helpful and you haven't even cracked 50. Every question you asked she's written about at length in those 4000 posts. Stop being a whiner and demanding people do for you. There's a search function. Make it your friend.
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Offline smw

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #120 on: September 16, 2016, 12:39:18 PM »
My very important ( :D ) question is:

In that picture you have a lot of notebooks.  What was your favorite notebook to use so far?

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #121 on: September 16, 2016, 12:48:23 PM »
My very important ( :D ) question is:

In that picture you have a lot of notebooks.  What was your favorite notebook to use so far?
Probably these two. The pepper one (I actually needed 2; wrote A LOT of that book in a notebook) made me smile every time. It's my notebook for CARRY ME HOME, my first real-deal  romantic suspense/mystery, and the first time I wrote for a publisher. Huge challenge, very scary. I needed my hot peppers.


Offline smw

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #122 on: September 16, 2016, 12:52:58 PM »
Probably these two. The pepper one (I actually needed 2; wrote A LOT of that book in a notebook) made me smile every time. It's my notebook for CARRY ME HOME, my first real-deal  romantic suspense/mystery, and the first time I wrote for a publisher. Huge challenge, very scary. I needed my hot peppers.



Haha.  That pepper one is great.  And congratulations on your success.

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