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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 08:57:58 AM

Title: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 08:57:58 AM
Some of you might remember my post from my "hey-day." Seems so long ago.

Some background - I first published in 2013. Made a bit of money. Then, in 2014, my revenues were $139,000. 2015, almost identical, around $136,000. 2016 - uh oh, down to $67,000. 2017 - don't ask. Let's just say I didn't clear $2,000 in revenue last month and leave it at that.

Three series in a row just landed with a thud. And it has zero to do with marketing or lack thereof - the sell-through rate on all three were anemic. Pathetic. My first two series (Illusions and Broken), with permafrees, averaged around 15% sell-through from Book One to Book Two. The last three (Exposure, Fearless and Temptations) were between 2-3% from Book One to Book Two.

Man, I went through a time trying to analyze what went wrong. I was hopeful with every new series, but every new series failed to impress. To say the least.

I think that I (tentatively) have figured it out. I think. I don't know, though. I'm really scared that I'm a has-been, although I'm quite sure that, compared to some of the writers on this board, I'm still considered a never-was.

Here's my theory - my best-selling series, by far, is Broken. It's angsty, there's little sex, but tons of emotion. The romance was pretty slow-burning, too - I don't think that they even kissed until halfway through the book. They had a grand total of two kisses until the book was a good 80% finished, at which point they finally get together and have sex.

After that early success, I went in slightly different directions. In one series (Fearless), I went easy on the angst and didn't put in a lot of sex, just some. It wasn't very long and the heroine was whiny without reason. Thud. In another (Exposure), the angst was there, but there was tons of sex and I don't necessarily think that the Hh had much chemistry. At any rate, they were in bed before they really knew one another. Crash. The last series (Temptations), well, I went in yet another direction - hardly any angst, with a murder mystery thrown in. Thud-crash.

I kept doubling down by not giving my early readers what they wanted from me. I kept going against my brand. And I kept not understanding that. I figured "eh, it's all romance, my readers will follow me as long as I stay somewhat within the genre." Now I think that I was completely wrong about that. And I'm worried that it's too late to really turn it around.

I guess it's somewhat like when I go and buy bread. There's plenty of whole-wheat bread out there, but I'm loyal to only one brand. It's called Dave's Goodseed. All the other whole-wheat breads are similar, but not similar enough to Dave's that I want to buy them. If I found another brand that was similar enough to Dave's, I probably would pick that up as well.

I kinda think that it's the same with readers. They're looking for similar things from all their novels. Stray from that formula just a little and they won't necessarily follow you.

I don't know, I guess this theory is as good as any. I don't think that I once knew how to tell a story and now I don't. I think that it's something else. But maybe I'm wrong.

Anyhooo...I just wanted to let this out. I also need some advice on how to start again. I'm considering this year to be my rebuilding year, so I'm not expecting much right away.

Here's my tentative rebuilding plan for 2017.

Write 10 books. Half will be back on brand, the brand that I established with my decent sellers. The slow-burning, emotional, yearning-for-each-other-but-not-getting-each-other-for-quite-awhile type book. I like writing those better, anyhow, because I don't like writing sex scenes. Gone will be the hop-right-into bed books (Exposure) and books that mesh genres (Dangerous Temptations, which is a murder mystery and romance in one).

Half will be something totally different - legal thrillers. I was a lawyer for 11 years, and I wrote one thriller, and that book was the easiest book I've ever written. Of course, the problem with this plan is that I'm starting from square one. The AWESOME John Ellsworth is helping me out by posting to his newsletter, the doll. But I'm not expecting much from this series until I get at least 5 books out, make the first one free, and go on a promo tear. Which means that I'm not expecting much from this series until next year, when I hope it will payoff. The only sucky thing about this strategy is - what happens if I write the five books, make the first one free and promote it, and find out that the whole series sucks? I guess that's the chance we all must take.

Any and all advice will be welcome about how to start again. The only thing that I ask is that if you need to rip me a new one somehow, by letting me know that you read X book and A, B, C and D were wrong with it, PM me. I get embarrassed when I'm criticized in public. As most people do. Other than that...I would appreciate advice and encouraging words.

Because I'm starting to feel that my best days are behind me. :(

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: brkingsolver on March 06, 2017, 09:07:39 AM
Reading between the lines, what stands out most to me is that you got away from writing what was easiest to you, away from the kind of stories you really like. And your readers agreed. Good luck. I wrote about 400K words last year, published 61K. My editors just didn't like the first two manuscripts I finished. The third one took off, and it was the easiest to write.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on March 06, 2017, 09:09:19 AM
I think going the thriller route is smart. They're huge right now. I don't know anything about NA, but have you considered maybe adding a paranormal slant and trying to juice the rankings with the urban fantasy and paranormal romance crowds? I think that straddling genre lines is smart (despite what others believe) and if you can get crossover readers that can only help.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 06, 2017, 09:15:12 AM
I'm sorry to hear things are not going as planned. We need heroes like you to look up to. If the old way doesn't work, have you tried putting your books in Kindle Unlimited? Or maybe a few of them? It might find a whole new market and especially with AMS promos you might be able to find the right readers. Thank you for your frankness. It helps all of us.  :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:18:23 AM
I think going the thriller route is smart. They're huge right now. I don't know anything about NA, but have you considered maybe adding a paranormal slant and trying to juice the rankings with the urban fantasy and paranormal romance crowds? I think that straddling genre lines is smart (despite what others believe) and if you can get crossover readers that can only help.

I'm a bit nervous about that. I've never really read paranormal romance, except for the Twilight series. I have thought about that. I've considered everything. I even wrote an Urban Fantasy under a pen name, then abandoned it because it got really crappy reviews on Goodreads. I don't think that I can do any of those genres justice, and I feel that I have ZERO margin of error right now. Maybe once I get back on top, assuming I do, I'll feel more comfortable experimenting again. But thanks for the advice!!!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:20:17 AM
Reading between the lines, what stands out most to me is that you got away from writing what was easiest to you, away from the kind of stories you really like. And your readers agreed. Good luck. I wrote about 400K words last year, published 61K. My editors just didn't like the first two manuscripts I finished. The third one took off, and it was the easiest to write.

You're exactly right. I hate writing sex scenes, and writing multiple ones just became a chore. Broken had very little sex. And I do think that legal thrillers are going to be bang-up easy for me to write. The last book I wrote just flowed - it's 120,000 words and I wrote it in two months while driving Uber part-time, te he. Yeah, I'm working a day job now again. So sad....
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on March 06, 2017, 09:25:25 AM
I'm a bit nervous about that. I've never really read paranormal romance, except for the Twilight series. I have thought about that. I've considered everything. I even wrote an Urban Fantasy under a pen name, then abandoned it because it got really crappy reviews on Goodreads. I don't think that I can do any of those genres justice, and I feel that I have ZERO margin of error right now. Maybe once I get back on top, assuming I do, I'll feel more comfortable experimenting again. But thanks for the advice!!!!!
On the flip side, you might want to consider that the readers you had years ago have "aged out" of that genre. You need to draw in new readers and not rely on the old in that genre (I'm guessing that's the case, right? Someone tell me if I'm wrong because I know nothing about it) and adding elements to the story will garner you crossover readers that aren't as likely to age out of a genre.
I think you're looking for stability, so that means you need to draw in as many readers as possible and going back to the well when those initial readers may be gone now (moved on to other genres, not dead or anything) might be an exercise in futility and only result in further frustration. It sounds to me as if you have no choice but to expand the scope, which is exactly what you're doing with the thrillers.
For the record, I've seen quite a few people hit on one thriller lately so that's a very smart way to go right now.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: C. Gockel on March 06, 2017, 09:27:47 AM
I'm so sorry that you're in this position. This gig is scary!

I also switched genres in 2015, and it was nerve wracking.

I would suggest that you put your legal thriller into KU and price pulse it down to 99-cents once a month. Use Booksends, FKTips, BookBarbarian, BookBasset, ReadingDeals, ReadCheaply and the other sites to give it a boost. I did this with my Archangel series and despite my horrible release time--a book every 7 months--it still made me money each month. Also, the price pulses moved me up the ranks enough to get the attention of Podium, an audiobook publisher.

I was looking at your not-so-well performing series, and one thing that struck me was that they have decent reviews. I would take *at least* one of those series, put the whole thing in a box-set and put it in KU. I would release the box set at full price *quietly* and then get a 99-cent BookBub on it (and announce it to your mailing list then.) My guess is that the page reads will be enough for you to make your numbers on it.

If you keep two of those permafrees out of KU I'd bundle them and market them together. Also, if possible, I'd try to get Broken into a box set with multiple authors, either free and 99-cents.

I'm sorry you're going through this, but I know you're going to pull yourself back out.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: PermaStudent on March 06, 2017, 09:31:15 AM
Annie, thank you for this post.  I think it's easy for some of us in self-publishing to look at success and think that there's a magic number: a level of earnings, or a certain number of books, or a certain number of fans. Once you attain The Magic Number, you've got it made, and you can relax.  In reality, it's a constant struggle.  Even (perhaps especially?) for the folks who are doing very well. 

I remember your "hey-day" post, and I've read a lot of your posts on these boards to follow your journey and glean some wisdom.  I've gleaned a lot from other folks around here, too.  I've learned that success in self-publishing can turn on a dime.  All of the success you worked so hard for can be here today, and gone tomorrow.

By the same token, one can also make a comeback.  The folks who keep trying even though they've failed, and who are willing to take a hard look, and learn, and fix mistakes, and keep moving on no matter how many setbacks, can make a new start.  To quote Winston, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

I think you're doing those things. From your past success, we know that you are able to write a series that sells and resonates with a lot of readers. 

Keep trying, and thank you again for stopping in here to update.  I enjoy your posts. I hope I'll see one soon that documents your new success with legal thrillers, and your renewed success with romance.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: EvieBarry1988 on March 06, 2017, 09:32:56 AM
encouragements! :P
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:39:28 AM
I'm so sorry that you're in this position. This gig is scary!

I also switched genres in 2015, and it was nerve wracking.

I would suggest that you put your legal thriller into KU and price pulse it down to 99-cents once a month. Use Booksends, FKTips, BookBarbarian, BookBasset, ReadingDeals, ReadCheaply and the other sites to give it a boost. I did this with my Archangel series and despite my horrible release time--a book every 7 months--it still made me money each month. Also, the price pulses moved me up the ranks enough to get the attention of Podium, an audiobook publisher.

I was looking at your not-so-well performing series, and one thing that struck me was that they have decent reviews. I would take *at least* one of those series, put the whole thing in a box-set and put it in KU. I would release the box set at full price *quietly* and then get a 99-cent BookBub on it (and announce it to your mailing list then.) My guess is that the page reads will be enough for you to make your numbers on it.

If you keep two of those permafrees out of KU I'd bundle them and market them together. Also, if possible, I'd try to get Broken into a box set with multiple authors, either free and 99-cents.

I'm sorry you're going through this, but I know you're going to pull yourself back out.

Thanks Carolyn! That's good advice, but getting a BookBub...sigh. I think that they're literally done with me. The last one I ran with them was for "Fearless," and that one did so poorly that I'm afraid that they're never going to touch me again. For anything. I even tried to shoot a free box set to them, and they turned even that down. I don't think that I can rely on them anymore, not that I ever did to begin with. I've only had a few ads with them (not for lack of trying).

As for putting things in KU - I can't do that because Apple has made up a good 50% of my income. Granted, the books aren't doing much over there right now - but I did try KU for a few months, and I can't say I succeeded in it. Only one series did well (Broken, of course), and that was with spending a lot of Facebook money. And it certainly didn't go gangbusters. The rest were still anemic - anemic page numbers and sales. I don't think that KU is the answer right now, although I might go ahead and put my new NA books in there.

And I thought about putting my legal thrillers in there, but made a BIG mistake - I uploaded the book wide, and then changed my mind and wanted to put it in KU. Well, I can't pull it off of Kobo, because I put it in their special program that is styled like KU. I have to have that book on Kobo for six whole months. So...KU is out for the legal thriller series, at least for now.

:)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Sailor Stone on March 06, 2017, 09:45:03 AM
Here's my tentative rebuilding plan for 2017.

Write 10 books. Half will be back on brand, the brand that I established with my decent sellers. The slow-burning, emotional, yearning-for-each-other-but-not-getting-each-other-for-quite-awhile type book. I like writing those better, anyhow, because I don't like writing sex scenes. Gone will be the hop-right-into bed books (Exposure) and books that mesh genres (Dangerous Temptations, which is a murder mystery and romance in one).

Hi, I can tell by your drive that you'll find your past success again. Hang with it. I think the bold text is key. This is just my own instinct, but when we get away from our own muse and write only for the other, it makes writing, which is hard work to begin with, even harder. I'd write what you're most proud to put your name to. It sounds to me like you did that with your first series and your readers connected to your story in a very big way.
I think it's a three sided affair: author to book, book to reader, reader to author. You have to connect to the book first or the other relationships go nowhere.
You've done it before--fall in love with what you are writing and make it come alive--your enthusiasm is the chain that links you and the reader to the book.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:46:54 AM
On the flip side, you might want to consider that the readers you had years ago have "aged out" of that genre. You need to draw in new readers and not rely on the old in that genre (I'm guessing that's the case, right? Someone tell me if I'm wrong because I know nothing about it) and adding elements to the story will garner you crossover readers that aren't as likely to age out of a genre.
I think you're looking for stability, so that means you need to draw in as many readers as possible and going back to the well when those initial readers may be gone now (moved on to other genres, not dead or anything) might be an exercise in futility and only result in further frustration. It sounds to me as if you have no choice but to expand the scope, which is exactly what you're doing with the thrillers.
For the record, I've seen quite a few people hit on one thriller lately so that's a very smart way to go right now.

That's a good thought...I've given serious thought to doing light-hearted paranormal romance like Kristen Painter. That was one of the things that I was seriously considering. Maybe I'll give that more thought. Or read in the paranormal genre and try to get a feel for it. Thanks Amanda!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:48:47 AM
Here's my tentative rebuilding plan for 2017.

Write 10 books. Half will be back on brand, the brand that I established with my decent sellers. The slow-burning, emotional, yearning-for-each-other-but-not-getting-each-other-for-quite-awhile type book. I like writing those better, anyhow, because I don't like writing sex scenes. Gone will be the hop-right-into bed books (Exposure) and books that mesh genres (Dangerous Temptations, which is a murder mystery and romance in one).

Hi, I can tell by your drive that you'll find your past success again. Hang with it. I think the bold text is key. This is just my own instinct, but when we get away from our own muse and write only for the other, it makes writing, which is hard work to begin with, even harder. I'd write what you're most proud to put your name to. It sounds to me like you did that with your first series and your readers connected to your story in a very big way.
I think it's a three sided affair: author to book, book to reader, reader to author. You have to connect to the book first or the other relationships go nowhere.
You've done it before--fall in love with what you are writing and make it come alive--your enthusiasm is the chain that links you and the reader to the book.

I think you're right. I fell in love with my first two couples - the ones in the Illusions series and in the Broken series. The other couples in my other books - they were just characters on a page. I need to feel it more. That's going to be key. Thanks!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 06, 2017, 09:53:48 AM
Have you thought of adding books to the series that works? Or is that not possible?
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:57:33 AM
Have you thought of adding books to the series that works? Or is that not possible?

Yeah. I actually was going to do just that. I started a new book in the Broken series and another one that was a spin-off with one of the daughters, but I wasn't feeling it. But I'm definitely going to do that in the future, once I figure out what to write.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:58:06 AM
I'm sorry to hear things are not going as planned. We need heroes like you to look up to. If the old way doesn't work, have you tried putting your books in Kindle Unlimited? Or maybe a few of them? It might find a whole new market and especially with AMS promos you might be able to find the right readers. Thank you for your frankness. It helps all of us.  :)

Thanks for your kind words!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 09:59:07 AM
Annie, thank you for this post.  I think it's easy for some of us in self-publishing to look at success and think that there's a magic number: a level of earnings, or a certain number of books, or a certain number of fans. Once you attain The Magic Number, you've got it made, and you can relax.  In reality, it's a constant struggle.  Even (perhaps especially?) for the folks who are doing very well. 

I remember your "hey-day" post, and I've read a lot of your posts on these boards to follow your journey and glean some wisdom.  I've gleaned a lot from other folks around here, too.  I've learned that success in self-publishing can turn on a dime.  All of the success you worked so hard for can be here today, and gone tomorrow.

By the same token, one can also make a comeback.  The folks who keep trying even though they've failed, and who are willing to take a hard look, and learn, and fix mistakes, and keep moving on no matter how many setbacks, can make a new start.  To quote Winston, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

I think you're doing those things. From your past success, we know that you are able to write a series that sells and resonates with a lot of readers. 

Keep trying, and thank you again for stopping in here to update.  I enjoy your posts. I hope I'll see one soon that documents your new success with legal thrillers, and your renewed success with romance.  Good luck!

Thanks for your encouragement! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Evenstar on March 06, 2017, 10:00:10 AM
Annie! Yay! You inspire me, you always have.  ;D

I'm sorry you are having a rotten year thus far, but you are still here, and will balls made of tenacity. That's the real key.

My two pence worth: I think you should plunge yourself wholeheartedly into legal thrillers. You know you can do them, and you can feed the market better if you focus on one thing. Just don't forget to throw in a little of your trademark romance  ;)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 10:06:56 AM
Annie! Yay! You inspire me, you always have.  ;D

I'm sorry you are having a rotten year thus far, but you are still here, and will balls made of tenacity. That's the real key.

My two pence worth: I think you should plunge yourself wholeheartedly into legal thrillers. You know you can do them, and you can feed the market better if you focus on one thing. Just don't forget to throw in a little of your trademark romance  ;)

Thanks Stella! That was my initial thought - concentrate on the legal thrillers and only them. I've found something out about myself - I get sick of writing the same thing, so I have to take long breaks between books. Like a month or more where I do little but watch trashy TV and reading. I'm trying to see if I can write consistently, without breaks, if I alternate between genres. I have to keep feeding the beast right now. I can't afford to take time off. The upshot is that the legal thrillers have to be written in a month or less, and they're going to be long. I might burn-out with that schedule, so I might just go ahead and do what you advise - stick with the legal thrillers, but take time off.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Emilia Winters on March 06, 2017, 10:32:05 AM
I completely agree, self-publishing is a constant struggle because we have to adapt to the market, or curve balls that Amazon throws at us, and, especially this past year, we have to do it writing books faster (especially if you write in genre fiction, like romance).  I, like you, had a good amount of success a couple years ago.  In 2015, I had a billionaire romance series that just took off, to the point where I was earning 5 figures a month and it landed me a nice KU All-Star bonus.  2016?  I made a fourth of what I made the previous year.  I knew that I either had to change something, or I would have to find a full-time job elsewhere.

So in January of this year, I wrote the first book of a new series in a different niche of romance (science fiction romance).  I did my research beforehand.  I knew going into it that I wanted it to be a money-maker, so I wrote it to market.  Luckily, I enjoyed reading SFR (I was familiar with a lot of the tropes) and upon further research, I knew that there was a better chance of making lists in that niche than in contemporary romance.  I published just last month, using everything I've learned in the past 3+ years of self-publishing to launch a brand new pen name (mailing lists, ARCs, promo stacks, etc.).  And it has been a tremendous success to date, on par with the billionaire romance I released two years prior.

I'm not giving up on my contemporary romance pen name.  I still plan to release books because it's still a genre that I love even if it was only netting me about $1k a month (a far cry from my own "hey-day").  And I encourage you to write what you like to write.  Mariana Zapata has hit it out of the park with her slow-burning romances.  She has a lot of emotion and little sex scenes as well and people are absolutely crazy for them.  If you can tap into that market and make slow-burning romances your brand, I think you'll do great.  I also encourage you to branch out.  I know nothing about the legal thriller market, but if you like writing them, then why not! :)  There are also niches in romantic suspense, and perhaps cozies?

Self-publishing is a grind, but I'll be rooting for you!  :)  Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: truc on March 06, 2017, 10:34:06 AM
Longtime board lurker saying...

From what I've been reading on the board the past two years have been incredibly hard on Indies. Since I'm pretty new as an author myself I just wanted to add my 2 cents' worth of support--you HAVE been successful w/a 6 figure income which means that you're already heads and shoulders above most writers (Indie AND trad-pubbed). It make take some maneuvering but I'm sure you'll get to a better, more profitable place.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on March 06, 2017, 10:45:48 AM
The only encouragement I can give you is to write what you love and you already plan on doing that. But I'll add one more . Come back here and report your progress so we can encourage you all along the way .
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 10:50:51 AM
I completely agree, self-publishing is a constant struggle because we have to adapt to the market, or curve balls that Amazon throws at us, and, especially this past year, we have to do it writing books faster (especially if you write in genre fiction, like romance).  I, like you, had a good amount of success a couple years ago.  In 2015, I had a billionaire romance series that just took off, to the point where I was earning 5 figures a month and it landed me a nice KU All-Star bonus.  2016?  I made a fourth of what I made the previous year.  I knew that I either had to change something, or I would have to find a full-time job elsewhere.

So in January of this year, I wrote the first book of a new series in a different niche of romance (science fiction romance).  I did my research beforehand.  I knew going into it that I wanted it to be a money-maker, so I wrote it to market.  Luckily, I enjoyed reading SFR (I was familiar with a lot of the tropes) and upon further research, I knew that there was a better chance of making lists in that niche than in contemporary romance.  I published just last month, using everything I've learned in the past 3+ years of self-publishing to launch a brand new pen name (mailing lists, ARCs, promo stacks, etc.).  And it has been a tremendous success to date, on par with the billionaire romance I released two years prior.

I'm not giving up on my contemporary romance pen name.  I still plan to release books because it's still a genre that I love even if it was only netting me about $1k a month (a far cry from my own "hey-day").  And I encourage you to write what you like to write.  Mariana Zapata has hit it out of the park with her slow-burning romances.  She has a lot of emotion and little sex scenes as well and people are absolutely crazy for them.  If you can tap into that market and make slow-burning romances your brand, I think you'll do great.  I also encourage you to branch out.  I know nothing about the legal thriller market, but if you like writing them, then why not! :)  There are also niches in romantic suspense, and perhaps cozies?

Self-publishing is a grind, but I'll be rooting for you!  :)  Good luck!

That's encouraging! Sounds like you've been where I am and came back. Give me hope that I can do the same. Congrats on your new success! Sci-Fi romance is something where you can clean up, from what I hear, because it's underserved. Or it was. Maybe it still is? That's an interesting idea, too. Thanks!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Jessie G. Talbot on March 06, 2017, 10:55:59 AM
Writing what you love is vital. As for your dud series why not try rewriting them? Find something to love about them and make them worth YOUR while, then re-release with new covers. You're extremely prolific so sparing a few minutes for your red-headed stepchildren shouldn't interfere with writing the legal thrillers.

And what a lesson learned. Ouch. My heart goes out to you.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 10:59:15 AM
Writing what you love is vital. As for your dud series why not try rewriting them? Find something to love about them and make them worth YOUR while, then re-release with new covers. You're extremely prolific so sparing a few minutes for your red-headed stepchildren shouldn't interfere with writing the legal thrillers.

And what a lesson learned. Ouch. My heart goes out to you.

Oh, that's a good idea! Red-headed stepchildren - that just made me laugh. They are red-headed stepchildren for sure. I want to beat them all into submission, but the very thought makes me insane.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Emilia Winters on March 06, 2017, 11:06:05 AM
That's encouraging! Sounds like you've been where I am and came back. Give me hope that I can do the same. Congrats on your new success! Sci-Fi romance is something where you can clean up, from what I hear, because it's underserved. Or it was. Maybe it still is? That's an interesting idea, too. Thanks!

I think there are already signs that SFR is slowly filling up.  Shifter romances were HUGE in 2015/2016, so the market became oversaturated.  I think a lot of those authors are coming over to SFR because the two niches aren't all that different and the readership is very similar (ie. many paranormal/fantasy romance promo sites take SFR).  I think, ultimately, it's about finding your niche where you can make lists to get visibility--and the great thing (and the frustrating thing) is that these niches are constantly changing based on what readers want.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 11:22:06 AM
I think there are already signs that SFR is slowly filling up.  Shifter romances were HUGE in 2015/2016, so the market became oversaturated.  I think a lot of those authors are coming over to SFR because the two niches aren't all that different and the readership is very similar (ie. many paranormal/fantasy romance promo sites take SFR).  I think, ultimately, it's about finding your niche where you can make lists to get visibility--and the great thing (and the frustrating thing) is that these niches are constantly changing based on what readers want.

You were smart for getting in while the getting's good! I remember Lindsay Buroker on a podcast talking about doing a sci-fi romance a few years back. Back then, I think that there weren't many books in that genre. She said that she made $3,000 on that book the first month. I don't remember what all she did to promote it, but it does sound like it's a good genre. Congrats!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 06, 2017, 11:39:03 AM
I write books, but music is my day job so to say. In music a hit song makes 80 percent of its money in the first year. After that it becomes less and less. Is that the same for a hit book or series? I thought it worked different for books. 
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 11:42:43 AM
I write books, but music is my day job so to say. In music a hit song makes 80 percent of its money in the first year. After that it becomes less and less. Is that the same for a hit book or series? I thought it worked different for books. 

Well, yeah, that's probably right. The Broken series still sells, though. Not a lot, but it's the only one of all my series that sells something every day. And when I promote it, it still does well. But it's aging and every promo for it does less and less. The first book in that series is three years old, so I basically haven't had a decent series come out since before 2015.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: PamelaKelley on March 06, 2017, 11:44:27 AM
Thanks Stella! That was my initial thought - concentrate on the legal thrillers and only them. I've found something out about myself - I get sick of writing the same thing, so I have to take long breaks between books. Like a month or more where I do little but watch trashy TV and reading. I'm trying to see if I can write consistently, without breaks, if I alternate between genres. I have to keep feeding the beast right now. I can't afford to take time off. The upshot is that the legal thrillers have to be written in a month or less, and they're going to be long. I might burn-out with that schedule, so I might just go ahead and do what you advise - stick with the legal thrillers, but take time off.

I would vote for this too. But I would start a new legal thriller series and put it in KU. That is where people are doing so well with thrillers and legal thrillers seem to be an underserved niche-plenty of room for someone who can do them well. Plus....the people I see killing it with thrillers are not necessarily releasing every 30 days. More like 60-180....so you can take a bit more time for something more complex if you need it.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: ToniD on March 06, 2017, 11:45:44 AM
Annie, I always read your posts because you are such a smart and generous poster!

So sorry to hear that you've had a downturn. I don't have any new advice, but do echo the 'write what you love' sentiment. Given that you did have success writing what you love!

Once when I was struggling with a chapter--and grumping about it--my husband said sounds like you're not having fun. I said, well yeah. He said, when you're having fun writing, how does that turn out? Well the answer is, it usually turns to be much better writing and storytelling!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Silly Writer on March 06, 2017, 11:46:50 AM
I don't have much advice but wanted to pop in to give you a (((Big Hug))). You always have inspired me and again, I'm inspired that you're willing to come in here and admit you've fallen down the ranks and take your licks.

That said, don't think you're alone. I know a dozen Indies that were 6 figures just last year and they too are suffering, selling houses, going back to day jobs. It's rare to see one come in and admit yeah, I'm not doing well anymore and don't know why. I think this industry is just getting so much harder.

I too think you should go full throttle on the legal thrillers. But maybe under a new pen name? That would give you a shot at a clean slate with Bookbub. You HAVE performed for them very well in the past, and you can again. If you've already published the first one under your regular pen, maybe re-publish now with new name? And then all other new books under that new name from now on.

Then, poll your newsletter peeps and FB followers and ask them one question, "Do any of you read Legal Thrillers?" On that newsletter, suggest two really good legal thrillers that you've read for them (I'd pick John's best-selling for one of those and maybe another best-selling legal thriller author.) Watch the clicks. If they say yes and/or click to buy the suggestions, migrate them to a separate list. Only announce your legal thrillers to THAT list so that you don't get low reviews due to expectations of your old genre from your old readers and as a bonus, you'll be settling in with some also-boughts of legal thriller when you pimp your legal thrillers to same readers. Also, garner a handful of those yes people for a beta team/review team so you're publishing with some feedback/reviews behind you.

Good luck, Annie. I know you can do this. I watched you go like gangbusters the first time, and you've not 'forgotten how to write a story,' it's just that someone has moved your cheese.  (blatant steal from the book, Who Moved My Cheese)   8)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 12:02:33 PM
I would vote for this too. But I would start a new legal thriller series and put it in KU. That is where people are doing so well with thrillers and legal thrillers seem to be an underserved niche-plenty of room for someone who can do them well. Plus....the people I see killing it with thrillers are not necessarily releasing every 30 days. More like 60-180....so you can take a bit more time for something more complex if you need it.

Such a great idea. But I messed up, big time. I uploaded the book wide and put it into Kobo Plus. Kobo Plus is Kobo's answer to KU. I think it's kinda experimental for them. Well, I didn't read the fine print, which is that, once you enroll in Kobo Plus, you have to keep the book with Kobo for six months. I wanted to pull the book from wide distribution and put it into KU, and found out that I couldn't do it. So, I'm stuck, unfortunately. Too bad, too, because John Ellsworth's newsletter is doing great for me today. He's KU, so I probably could have had a chance for the book to take off had I put it into KU.

Live and learn, as always... :(
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 12:04:13 PM
Annie, I always read your posts because you are such a smart and generous poster!

So sorry to hear that you've had a downturn. I don't have any new advice, but do echo the 'write what you love' sentiment. Given that you did have success writing what you love!

Once when I was struggling with a chapter--and grumping about it--my husband said sounds like you're not having fun. I said, well yeah. He said, when you're having fun writing, how does that turn out? Well the answer is, it usually turns to be much better writing and storytelling!

That's true - time to fall in love with my characters again! I think that's why I write emotional stories - it makes me feel closer to the characters. I struggle in my own life and I like to put that on the page. I got away from that for awhile, but I need to get back to it.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 12:09:40 PM
I don't have much advice but wanted to pop in to give you a (((Big Hug))). You always have inspired me and again, I'm inspired that you're willing to come in here and admit you've fallen down the ranks and take your licks.

That said, don't think you're alone. I know a dozen Indies that were 6 figures just last year and they too are suffering, selling houses, going back to day jobs. It's rare to see one come in and admit yeah, I'm not doing well anymore and don't know why. I think this industry is just getting so much harder.

I too think you should go full throttle on the legal thrillers. But maybe under a new pen name? That would give you a shot at a clean slate with Bookbub. You HAVE performed for them very well in the past, and you can again. If you've already published the first one under your regular pen, maybe re-publish now with new name? And then all other new books under that new name from now on.

Then, poll your newsletter peeps and FB followers and ask them one question, "Do any of you read Legal Thrillers?" On that newsletter, suggest two really good legal thrillers that you've read for them (I'd pick John's best-selling for one of those and maybe another best-selling legal thriller author.) Watch the clicks. If they say yes and/or click to buy the suggestions, migrate them to a separate list. Only announce your legal thrillers to THAT list so that you don't get low reviews due to expectations of your old genre from your old readers and as a bonus, you'll be settling in with some also-boughts of legal thriller when you pimp your legal thrillers to same readers. Also, garner a handful of those yes people for a beta team/review team so you're publishing with some feedback/reviews behind you.

Good luck, Annie. I know you can do this. I watched you go like gangbusters the first time, and you've not 'forgotten how to write a story,' it's just that someone has moved your cheese.  (blatant steal from the book, Who Moved My Cheese)   8)

Thanks Lisa! I was going to do a pen name, actually. That was one of the things that I struggled with. I had the name "Rachel Sinclair" ready to go. I ultimately decided against it because I wanted BookBub announce my book to my followers. I have 744 followers there. I don't know if they've announced it or not, but I'm starting to think it won't matter if they do or not. I announced it to my own followers, and to say that it resulted in crickets is giving a bad name to crickets. LOL. But I might just do that in the future - republish the book with a new pen name. Getting a BookBub for book one would be my ultimate dream, after I write a few more in the series, so that's food for thought.

Good to see you here, btw. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: A J Sika on March 06, 2017, 12:16:43 PM
You know, Annie, I think you might have something there.

Readers put you in some kind of box when they first find you, kind of like 'go to for Romantic suspense', 'the writer I go to when I'm looking for a slow-burn', 'when I'm looking for some hot vampire fun' etc. When you stray from that 'box' especially to something they wouldn't read for a whole series you end up losing them.

I experienced the same thing last year. I 'debuted' in 2014 with a Romantic suspense series that didn't exactly burn up the charts but it contributed heavily to my 'explosion' in 2015 with another Romantic Suspense series. I was riding high with those series through 2015 and early 2016. In the last half of 2016 I decided to try out a family drama type romance that was supposed to follow the same couple for three books. To say my book-report was anemic would be an understatement. I think Book 1 of that series peaked at the 20,000s. Even though the reviews that came in were glowing, my regulars just weren't biting. A panic attack later, I decided to wrap up that series with two books instead of the planned 3 (I had to finish book 2 because book 1 stopped at a cliff-hanger - silly me).

This year, I've come back with another romantic thriller and decided to test KU at the same time. And wouldn't you know it, I'm back in the game. The book I published on the 20th of last months has hit the high 500s without any money poured into promotions whatsoever and is currently riding in the 800s.

What I'm saying is that you can always try going back to your original bread and butter. Your readers could just be waiting for you there. Anyway, if you don't try, you'll never know. In this industry there is no such thing as a has-been, you only get better the longer you're in it and every new book is a chance to become a sensation again.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 12:25:19 PM
You know, Annie, I think you might have something there.

Readers put you in some kind of box when they first find you, kind of like 'go to for Romantic suspense', 'the writer I go to when I'm looking for a slow-burn', 'when I'm looking for some hot vampire fun' etc. When you stray from that 'box' especially to something they wouldn't read for a whole series you end up losing them.

I experienced the same thing last year. I 'debuted' in 2014 with a Romantic suspense series that didn't exactly burn up the charts but it contributed heavily to my 'explosion' in 2015 with another Romantic Suspense series. I was riding high with those series through 2015 and early 2016. In the last half of 2016 I decided to try out a family drama type romance that was supposed to follow the same couple for three books. To say my book-report was anemic would be an understatement. I think Book 1 of that series peaked at the 20,000s. Even though the reviews that came in were glowing, my regulars just weren't biting. A panic attack later, I decided to wrap up that series with two books instead of the planned 3 (I had to finish book 2 because book 1 stopped at a cliff-hanger - silly me).

This year, I've come back with another romantic thriller and decided to test KU at the same time. And wouldn't you know it, I'm back in the game. The book I published on the 20th of last months has hit the high 500s without any money poured into promotions whatsoever and is currently riding in the 800s.

What I'm saying is that you can always try going back to your original bread and butter. Your readers could just be waiting for you there. Anyway, if you don't try, you'll never know. In this industry there is no such thing as a has-been, you only get better the longer you're in it and every new book is a chance to become a sensation again.

Now, that's an inspiring story! Makes me think that my instincts might finally be right. Go back to bread and butter, which is what I'm working on right now. I love your story because hopefully that will be the same for me - I'll keep writing stories similar to Broken and I'll see how that goes. Took me a long time to figure out what went wrong, but that's it. I think. I'll see. :) But I'm also going to alternate in legal thrillers. That's such an easy genre for me to write in. It's the genre I grew up with, and I know a lot about litigation and the courtroom. Hopefully that one-two punch will carry the day.

Thanks for your story! It gives me hope!

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Marian on March 06, 2017, 12:47:13 PM
Echoing what others have said: write what you care about, write what makes you want to get to the next page, and your readers will feel what you feel.

You can do it, Annie! You did it before and you can do it again. I'm cheering for you!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 12:53:11 PM
Echoing what others have said: write what you care about, write what makes you want to get to the next page, and your readers will feel what you feel.

You can do it, Annie! You did it before and you can do it again. I'm cheering for you!!!

Thanks Marian! Long time no see! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Becca Mills on March 06, 2017, 01:00:43 PM
We'll all be pulling for you, Annie! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 01:06:27 PM
We'll all be pulling for you, Annie! :)

Thanks!!!! Great to know I have you guys. I haven't been around that much because I've been feeling like a failure and feeling like I don't have much to contribute anymore. I think I should come back and be a regular again here. You guys are the best!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: JaclynDolamore on March 06, 2017, 01:27:35 PM
Thanks for this post. Sometimes it's hard to post about things going less than well and attempts and learning, but I get a lot out of these posts. I know I'm always trying to speculate my next move and it's always hard, right? Lots of second guessing. I just wrapped up my trilogy but my next series is very similar to the last. Preorders so far are not as strong as they were for book 3, so...cue second guessing again! But then, at the same time, maybe I'm doing the right thing by just steadily delivering the same sort of book...losing some fans but maybe making deeply loyal ones in the process. *shrug* Won't know until I try! Anyway, I think there's something to be said for following the sort of books that really excite you to write. I wish you the best of luck with the new endeavors.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Douglas Milewski on March 06, 2017, 01:29:54 PM
After Tom Sawyer, the legendary Mark Twain repeatedly lost money on his books. You walk in the footsteps of giants.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 01:37:58 PM
Thanks for this post. Sometimes it's hard to post about things going less than well and attempts and learning, but I get a lot out of these posts. I know I'm always trying to speculate my next move and it's always hard, right? Lots of second guessing. I just wrapped up my trilogy but my next series is very similar to the last. Preorders so far are not as strong as they were for book 3, so...cue second guessing again! But then, at the same time, maybe I'm doing the right thing by just steadily delivering the same sort of book...losing some fans but maybe making deeply loyal ones in the process. *shrug* Won't know until I try! Anyway, I think there's something to be said for following the sort of books that really excite you to write. I wish you the best of luck with the new endeavors.

Good luck! This is a scary business, but I'll be pulling for you! It's so hard to crack the code to where you can expect just keep selling well forever. Good to know that we're all in this together! And I'm sure you'll do well. As I said in my post, I think that if you continue on with similar things, you can keep your fan base. Of course, there are those like Amanda who write all kinds of different genres and does well in all of them, but she's a goddess. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 01:39:01 PM
After Tom Sawyer, the legendary Mark Twain repeatedly lost money on his books. You walk in the footsteps of giants.

Me and Sam, having something in common! :) I didn't know he was a one-hit wonder of his day!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: kathrynoh on March 06, 2017, 01:56:53 PM
Every time you post, I feel like we are going through the same thing! I've had a big downturn in sales, released a series last year that didn't take off, my last Bookbub was meh... and have spent the whole day today questioning what I'm doing. From about halfway through last year things started going downhill. I thought it was a temporary thing but it seems not. One of the things I've found has knocked my income is that I'm not getting any kind of push at ibooks/apple. I'd never made big dollars on Amazon but previously made a decent amount on ibooks.

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Patty Jansen on March 06, 2017, 02:08:24 PM
I can't help but think that you've diluted your brand so much that readers don't know what to expect anymore.

I would try to build a more solid brand by building on what you already have. Take what sells best (no matter how pathetically it sells compared to what it used to sell) and do some more of that. Make it slightly different but related and write three books. I would not start yet another subgenre before you've done that.

Then strongly build and reinforce the pillars of what you write. Angsty, non-sexy romance, legal thrillers, UF (or whatever you choose). Make sure people can see all three on your website even if you use three different pen names. Don't flip-flop about so much. If you've done best wide, don't dilute your stuff further by putting it into KU, or only do it for a complete new series for three months only.

Work like the blazes on your mailing list. Unfree your permafrees and put them up on Instafreebie instead in return for people's email addresses. Join the gazillion author cross-promos out there. Collect subscribers like crazy, market to them, and weed them out. Forget Facebook. It's too expensive, takes too much fiddling, and takes too much time away from writing.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: lisamaliga on March 06, 2017, 02:11:00 PM
Hi Annie,
I hope that your sales pick up soon.
Have you considered sharing your knowledge and writing about how to write romance books. Or how to write [legal] thrillers?

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on March 06, 2017, 02:19:28 PM
Good luck, Annie!  There's lots of ups and downs in this business and many don't know what to do when they hit a down period. But it sounds like you've got a plan of action.  Picking a direction and fighting for it is the first step in climbing back up the mountain. Rooting for you all the way!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: bellaandre on March 06, 2017, 02:53:32 PM
Annie,

First (((hugs))) and congrats on having the fire in your belly to get things cooking again in 2017 and beyond! I haven't post on Kboards much during the past few years, but wanted to chime in on your post.

Two things that hopefully will help you -- that have always helped me.

1. Fulfilling the promise to your reader.

This is the #1 most important thing I do, all day every day, as a writer--and also the "brand manager" :) of my "Bella Andre" brand. I am very clear about what my promise is to my readers (emotional contemporary romances with deep family bonds at the heart--even my Maverick Billionaires while not technically related by blood are a close-knit family), and after 50+ books, when I'm writing/editing I know when the promise is there and and when it isn't and needs to be rewritten. This promise is why I didn't link my Bella Andre (books that have sex) name to my Lucy Kevin ("sweet" books with no sex) name for so many years -- because I didn't want to take the risk of breaking my promise to my readers if the sex/no sex part was a deal-breaker. However, once I knew for certain that the sex/no sex wasn't a deal breaker for my readers, and also that the bulk of them weren't surprised when they learned that Bella Andre and Lucy Kevin are the same person, because they told me those were two of their favorite authors, I decided to link the names together publicly. But, again, it took me years of listening to my readers and getting to know them really well to make absolutely sure that wouldn't break my promise to them.

2. Finding the intersection between (a) what you most love to write / what is easiest for you to write (b) what my readers (and/or the readers I really want to read my books) most want to read (c) what will sell the most copies.

In the past 14 years of writing full time (the first 7 years were with NY publishers), I've written some "easy" books (although it would be nice if they were all really, really easy!!!) and also books that hurt my brain so much that in one specific case I threw the entire book away 3 times before finally getting it (mostly) right with the 4th. That was 1600 pages boiled down to 400. Not interested in doing that ever again! 

It was a huge epiphany for me about 9-10 years ago after that miserable experience that it isn't a cop out to write what comes easiest to you. On the contrary--I believe it's one of the smartest things you can do because you not only enjoy writing the books more, but the reader (at least in my experience) always enjoys reading the book way more too. Joy is always really easy to detect! This epiphany honestly changed the entire course of my career (along with the beginning of indie publishing).

So, based on those two things, some questions I would ask you are:
-- Do you find slow-burn romance easy to write?
-- Are slow-burn romances what romance readers are looking for? [Note: I want to highlight the fact that, like others have said in this thread, NA isn't really a growing market anymore. So if you're looking for the biggest possible future readership--which of course you are!--make sure to aim your slow-burn romances at a mainstream/general romance market vs. a younger audience.]
-- Is slow-burn romance a popular sub-genre?
-- What is your promise to the reader (aka core brand)?

And then I'd ask the same questions for legal thrillers, with the caveat that I'm guessing it's unlikely there would be any spillover/crossover between the slow-burn romances and the legal thrillers -- unless you made absolutely sure to include a really great slow-burn romance within each legal thriller.

Which, now that I'm thinking out loud, seems like what would actually make the most sense -- for slow-burn romance to be your core brand (aka your promise to the reader) whether there are thrills or not in the stories.

Hope that helps some!
Bella
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 02:57:08 PM
Every time you post, I feel like we are going through the same thing! I've had a big downturn in sales, released a series last year that didn't take off, my last Bookbub was meh... and have spent the whole day today questioning what I'm doing. From about halfway through last year things started going downhill. I thought it was a temporary thing but it seems not. One of the things I've found has knocked my income is that I'm not getting any kind of push at ibooks/apple. I'd never made big dollars on Amazon but previously made a decent amount on ibooks.



Good luck! I know it's tough. So tough. Hang in there. Maybe my insight, if it's accurate insight, can help. Stick with a brand - the sub genre that brought you success. That was my mistake - I stuck with the same genre, just went wildly off-course by putting out books in different subgenres. The big names can get away with this, but the smaller names, like myself, apparently cannot. NA, erotic romance, romantic suspense...I went in all different directions and it just didn't work.

As for iBooks, there used to be something on their page where you can let them know about new releases and ask them to promote these new releases. I can't find it now, though.

I'm pulling for you! We'll both get back on top. Persist!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: PeanutButterCracker on March 06, 2017, 02:57:32 PM
You talk a lot about your books, but not a whole lot about your fans. I would start there.

If you want SALES: Write for your fans.
If you want HAPPINESS: Write for you and find new fans.

Some people get both of these things. Those people are very LUCKY. ;) This is just how it is. I have a ton of fans in the genre I write. So I write what they like. I'm lucky because my brand is also something I enjoy. Not really LOVE. But It's not making me unhappy to keep doing it. You gotta find that middle ground. I release a lot of very different STORIES in the same GENRE. So my fans all know what to expect and if I write something "weird" I always warn them. "Look, this might not be your thing. Know that going in." Then I go back to what they like and they're happy again. It's a give and take. But even my "weird" books are still the same KIND of story. Sexy and twisted. I don't go off and write clean romance or paranormal cozies. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:02:09 PM
I can't help but think that you've diluted your brand so much that readers don't know what to expect anymore.

I would try to build a more solid brand by building on what you already have. Take what sells best (no matter how pathetically it sells compared to what it used to sell) and do some more of that. Make it slightly different but related and write three books. I would not start yet another subgenre before you've done that.

Then strongly build and reinforce the pillars of what you write. Angsty, non-sexy romance, legal thrillers, UF (or whatever you choose). Make sure people can see all three on your website even if you use three different pen names. Don't flip-flop about so much. If you've done best wide, don't dilute your stuff further by putting it into KU, or only do it for a complete new series for three months only.

Work like the blazes on your mailing list. Unfree your permafrees and put them up on Instafreebie instead in return for people's email addresses. Join the gazillion author cross-promos out there. Collect subscribers like crazy, market to them, and weed them out. Forget Facebook. It's too expensive, takes too much fiddling, and takes too much time away from writing.

You're brilliant, Patty. As usual. You're absolutely right - I diluted my brand. Worse yet, I quit delivering on my brand after I established it. And I was too dense to figure it out for years. For two years I've been spinning my wheels trying to force-feed my readers something that they don't want. It's back to basics.

And I love the other ideas that you threw out there. I've tried instaFreebie, but I'm not sure how to optimize it. I haven't gotten much action there just yet. Maybe I can find a thread on people who have made that work. And cross-promos...well, John Ellsworth featured me in his newsletter, and it's gone gangbusters today. I'd like to cross-promo, but I feel that I don't bring a lot to the table right now. But I'm definitely going to try to get involved more in that. And you're right - my brand is wide. I think I'll stay that way. KU tempts me but I've always been wide and I don't want to disappoint my readers by publishing books that they can't get.

Thanks Patty! Your advice is always golden!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:04:16 PM
Hi Annie,
I hope that your sales pick up soon.
Have you considered sharing your knowledge and writing about how to write romance books. Or how to write [legal] thrillers?



You're sweet. I would feel like blind leading the blind. I did think about doing a book about self-publishing, though. Not necessarily a how-to, but more of a "I made a zillion mistakes, and here's what they are." A cautionary tale as it were. I might still do that one!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:07:11 PM
Good luck, Annie!  There's lots of ups and downs in this business and many don't know what to do when they hit a down period. But it sounds like you've got a plan of action.  Picking a direction and fighting for it is the first step in climbing back up the mountain. Rooting for you all the way!

Thanks Rick! That means a lot!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: AlexaKang on March 06, 2017, 03:12:23 PM
Hi Annie,

Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post. It can't be easy to admit things going wrong. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.

May I ask, what made you change direction after the first 2 series? Why diverge from writing angst clean romance to ramping up sex romance? Was it an effort to write to the market? Was it you wanting to do something different? It didn't sound like you enjoyed the later series so it not you had different interests, right?

I'm curious because I do want to expand the scope of the stories I write. But I write primarily because for myself and stories I want to tell, and not stories to please anyone, so whether I lose readers or not probably won't affect my writing very much.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Patty Jansen on March 06, 2017, 03:13:11 PM
You're brilliant, Patty. As usual. You're absolutely right - I diluted my brand. Worse yet, I quit delivering on my brand after I established it. And I was too dense to figure it out for years. For two years I've been spinning my wheels trying to force-feed my readers something that they don't want. It's back to basics.

And I love the other ideas that you threw out there. I've tried instaFreebie, but I'm not sure how to optimize it. I haven't gotten much action there just yet. Maybe I can find a thread on people who have made that work. And cross-promos...well, John Ellsworth featured me in his newsletter, and it's gone gangbusters today. I'd like to cross-promo, but I feel that I don't bring a lot to the table right now. But I'm definitely going to try to get involved more in that. And you're right - my brand is wide. I think I'll stay that way. KU tempts me but I've always been wide and I don't want to disappoint my readers by publishing books that they can't get.

Thanks Patty! Your advice is always golden!

The cross-promotion groups are all on Facebook. I would post links if I knew which the romance ones were.

OK, I just looked and see that this group has a romance cross-promotion going: https://www.facebook.com/groups/instafreebiepromos/

I rescinded my permafrees when I realised that I was driving all the downloads. I figured I might as well get something in return.

This is what you get: an email address with the chance of turning someone into a reader of your books. You won't be successful with many of those people, but you just discard those after a while.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:13:18 PM
Annie,

First (((hugs))) and congrats on having the fire in your belly to get things cooking again in 2017 and beyond! I haven't post on Kboards much during the past few years, but wanted to chime in on your post.

Two things that hopefully will help you -- that have always helped me.

1. Fulfilling the promise to your reader.

This is the #1 most important thing I do, all day every day, as a writer--and also the "brand manager" :) of my "Bella Andre" brand. I am very clear about what my promise is to my readers (emotional contemporary romances with deep family bonds at the heart--even my Maverick Billionaires while not technically related by blood are a close-knit family), and after 50+ books, when I'm writing/editing I know when the promise is there and and when it isn't and needs to be rewritten. This promise is why I didn't link my Bella Andre (books that have sex) name to my Lucy Kevin ("sweet" books with no sex) name for so many years -- because I didn't want to take the risk of breaking my promise to my readers if the sex/no sex part was a deal-breaker. However, once I knew for certain that the sex/no sex wasn't a deal breaker for my readers, and also that the bulk of them weren't surprised when they learned that Bella Andre and Lucy Kevin are the same person, because they told me those were two of their favorite authors, I decided to link the names together publicly. But, again, it took me years of listening to my readers and getting to know them really well to make absolutely sure that wouldn't break my promise to them.

2. Finding the intersection between (a) what you most love to write / what is easiest for you to write (b) what my readers (and/or the readers I really want to read my books) most want to read (c) what will sell the most copies.

In the past 14 years of writing full time (the first 7 years were with NY publishers), I've written some "easy" books (although it would be nice if they were all really, really easy!!!) and also books that hurt my brain so much that in one specific case I threw the entire book away 3 times before finally getting it (mostly) right with the 4th. That was 1600 pages boiled down to 400. Not interested in doing that ever again! 

It was a huge epiphany for me about 9-10 years ago after that miserable experience that it isn't a cop out to write what comes easiest to you. On the contrary--I believe it's one of the smartest things you can do because you not only enjoy writing the books more, but the reader (at least in my experience) always enjoys reading the book way more too. Joy is always really easy to detect! This epiphany honestly changed the entire course of my career (along with the beginning of indie publishing).

So, based on those two things, some questions I would ask you are:
-- Do you find slow-burn romance easy to write?
-- Are slow-burn romances what romance readers are looking for? [Note: I want to highlight the fact that, like others have said in this thread, NA isn't really a growing market anymore. So if you're looking for the biggest possible future readership--which of course you are!--make sure to aim your slow-burn romances at a mainstream/general romance market vs. a younger audience.]
-- Is slow-burn romance a popular sub-genre?
-- What is your promise to the reader (aka core brand)?

And then I'd ask the same questions for legal thrillers, with the caveat that I'm guessing it's unlikely there would be any spillover/crossover between the slow-burn romances and the legal thrillers -- unless you made absolutely sure to include a really great slow-burn romance within each legal thriller.

Which, now that I'm thinking out loud, seems like what would actually make the most sense -- for slow-burn romance to be your core brand (aka your promise to the reader) whether there are thrills or not in the stories.

Hope that helps some!
Bella


Wow, Bella, I'm honored you wrote on my post! You're one of my idols! And such amazing advice, as usual. I think that you've confirmed my suspicions - that I made a promise to my readers and I went back on that promise. I didn't know that I went back on my promise, but I did. And it all makes sense to me now. It's funny, when I wrote this post, it was just a hunch that I was spinning my wheels because I diluted my brand. Now I'm starting to recognize that I was right, and that's liberating. That you wrote in and confirmed that is just a cherry on the sundae. Thanks so much!!!!

I don't think I'll get much, if any, crossover to my legal thrillers from my romance, so I'm going to have to figure out how to launch it.

Thanks again for taking time out of your crazy schedule to help out a prawn like me!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:15:54 PM
Hi Annie,

Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post. It can't be easy to admit things going wrong. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.

May I ask, what made you change direction after the first 2 series? Why diverge from writing angst clean romance to ramping up sex romance? Was it an effort to write to the market? Was it you wanting to do something different? It didn't sound like you enjoyed the later series so it not you had different interests, right?

I'm curious because I do want to expand the scope of the stories I write. But I write primarily because for myself and stories I want to tell, and not stories to please anyone, so whether I lose readers or not probably won't affect my writing very much.

Yeah, I started to doubt myself. And I wanted to write to market, so I wanted to get in on the E-Rom action. Big mistake. I didn't enjoy writing it because I don't really enjoy writing about sex nearly as much as I like writing about emotions and story elements. As for Temptations - I don't know what I was thinking there. That's a book that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Murder mystery or erotic romance? Either way, my fans didn't want to touch it. Lesson learned! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:16:52 PM
You talk a lot about your books, but not a whole lot about your fans. I would start there.

If you want SALES: Write for your fans.
If you want HAPPINESS: Write for you and find new fans.

Some people get both of these things. Those people are very LUCKY. ;) This is just how it is. I have a ton of fans in the genre I write. So I write what they like. I'm lucky because my brand is also something I enjoy. Not really LOVE. But It's not making me unhappy to keep doing it. You gotta find that middle ground. I release a lot of very different STORIES in the same GENRE. So my fans all know what to expect and if I write something "weird" I always warn them. "Look, this might not be your thing. Know that going in." Then I go back to what they like and they're happy again. It's a give and take. But even my "weird" books are still the same KIND of story. Sexy and twisted. I don't go off and write clean romance or paranormal cozies. :)


Thanks! That's what I'm going to start doing - write for my fans, the ones that brought me to where I was before. :) They're the only thing that matters!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:18:25 PM
The cross-promotion groups are all on Facebook. I would post links if I knew which the romance ones were.

OK, I just looked and see that this group has a romance cross-promotion going: https://www.facebook.com/groups/instafreebiepromos/

I rescinded my permafrees when I realised that I was driving all the downloads. I figured I might as well get something in return.

This is what you get: an email address with the chance of turning someone into a reader of your books. You won't be successful with many of those people, but you just discard those after a while.

Awesome! Thanks Patty! You're always so helpful!!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Jenny Schwartz on March 06, 2017, 03:29:22 PM
Annie - huge hugs for such a painfully honest post - and extra hugs for everyone contributing such good advice. I hope your legal thrillers kickstart both sales and your joy in writing.

Going back to "promise to your readers" is something I needed to hear, again, I think.

Basically, I'm posting good luck! and I think you have something better than luck: a solid plan.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:33:14 PM
Annie - huge hugs for such a painfully honest post - and extra hugs for everyone contributing such good advice. I hope your legal thrillers kickstart both sales and your joy in writing.

Going back to "promise to your readers" is something I needed to hear, again, I think.

Basically, I'm posting good luck! and I think you have something better than luck: a solid plan.

Thanks Jenny!!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: BellaJames on March 06, 2017, 03:50:05 PM
I think Bella Andre and Peanutbuttercracker have hit a nail on the head. What do your readers want and are you keeping your promise to them.

There are bestselling romance authors that stand out because they clearly give readers what they expect.

Colleen Hoover is going to give her readers a thought provoking romance and usually a bit of a tear jerker.

Alexa Riley is going to give her readers a quick insta love story, usually with an over the top alpha male and some steamy sex scenes. Even with her novel, she kept to her brand/formula.


I think it's ok to write what you want to write but are you giving your readers what they want too. (The readers who signed up to your mailing list, followed you on twitter or facebook, the ones who pre-ordered your previous books, the ones who sent you an email to say they loved 'this book' you wrote)

Slow burn romance is selling right now. Here's a list of slow burn romances:http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/97747.Slow_burn_romance.
You could always do friends to lovers, roommates or the guy & girl who live next door to each other.

 I don't think adding or reducing the sex scenes has much to do with sales. Romance readers want the feels, they want emotion.

Some want hot steamy dirty sex and some want fade to black. There is an audience for both.

I think you have to look at what is going on in romance right now today and find a comfortable place for you. You will find readers no matter if you write angsty steamy novels or you write sweeping slow burn romances.

Write a few books in one sub-genre and build a brand. Be one of the top go to authors for family sagas or slow burn romances for the next couple years.  Or the go to author for legal thrillers set in the deep south etc.....



Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 03:58:05 PM
I think Bella Andre and Peanutbuttercracker have hit a nail on the head. What do your readers want and are you keeping your promise to them.

There are bestselling romance authors that stand out because they clearly give readers what they expect.

Colleen Hoover is going to give her readers a thought provoking romance and usually a bit of a tear jerker.

Alexa Riley is going to give her readers a quick insta love story, usually with an over the top alpha male and some steamy sex scenes. Even with her novel, she kept to her brand/formula.


I think it's ok to write what you want to write but are you giving your readers what they want too. (The readers who signed up to your mailing list, followed you on twitter or facebook, the ones who pre-ordered your previous books, the ones who sent you an email to say they loved 'this book' you wrote)

Slow burn romance is selling right now. Here's a list of slow burn romances:http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/97747.Slow_burn_romance.
You could always do friends to lovers, roommates or the guy & girl who live next door to each other.

 I don't think adding or reducing the sex scenes has much to do with sales. Romance readers want the feels, they want emotion.

Some want hot steamy dirty sex and some want fade to black. There is an audience for both.

I think you have to look at what is going on in romance right now today and find a comfortable place for you. You will find readers no matter if you write angsty steamy novels or you write sweeping slow burn romances.

Write a few books in one sub-genre and build a brand. Be one of the top go to authors for family sagas or slow burn romances for the next couple years.  Or the go to author for legal thrillers set in the deep south etc.....





Thanks Bella! I love that you're giving me credence for what I was thinking! I'm so happy that I took the chance to write this post. I have hope today for the first time in a long time - I (finally) figured out why I've been spinning my wheels! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Dax on March 06, 2017, 04:55:56 PM
Hi Annie -

As a prawn, I wanted to thank you for your open and honest discussion here! You have been so generous, now and in the past. I've always admired your "Illusions" series covers, oh la la la.

You sound so excited about the legal thrillers. I can't wait to check them out.

I took a look through your Amazon Author Central page and wanted to ask - did you publish any books past Jan 2016 last year? I was just curious if you had been publishing on a regular basis last year and still saw crickets? Trying to study this as much as possible. I hope I'm not prying too much. Thank you again for your generosity :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 05:00:53 PM
Hi Annie -

As a prawn, I wanted to thank you for your open and honest discussion here! You have been so generous, now and in the past. I've always admired your "Illusions" series covers, oh la la la.

You sound so excited about the legal thrillers. I can't wait to check them out.

I took a look through your Amazon Author Central page and wanted to ask - did you publish any books past Jan 2016 last year? I was just curious if you had been publishing on a regular basis last year and still saw crickets? Trying to study this as much as possible. I hope I'm not prying too much. Thank you again for your generosity :)

I published last year under two different pen names. I published five books under the Annie name and three under two other pen names. 😊
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: katygirl on March 06, 2017, 05:38:19 PM
I'm so glad you posted this Annie.  A couple of days ago I saw an old post from you and wondered where you were.  When I first found kboards, I looked for your posts and found them helpful and insightful.  I think it's important for people to see that when you have success and that success fades, that it's not over.  I had a small amount of success last year and it's gone now.  I made 14 cents yesterday.   :(  But I've been analyzing my mistakes and I think I know what they are and I'm going to try and turn things around.  Your post came at exactly the right time.  I really needed to see this.  I hope you'll post more often and let us know how things are going.  This indie publishing thing isn't for the faint of heart.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 06, 2017, 10:32:34 PM
What would be wisdom? To rewrite the series that didn't satisfy fan demands or to start with a new series altogether? Has anyone ties to rewrite a whole series? Did the fans buy into it then?
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 06, 2017, 11:56:06 PM
I'm so glad you posted this Annie.  A couple of days ago I saw an old post from you and wondered where you were.  When I first found kboards, I looked for your posts and found them helpful and insightful.  I think it's important for people to see that when you have success and that success fades, that it's not over.  I had a small amount of success last year and it's gone now.  I made 14 cents yesterday.   :(  But I've been analyzing my mistakes and I think I know what they are and I'm going to try and turn things around.  Your post came at exactly the right time.  I really needed to see this.  I hope you'll post more often and let us know how things are going.  This indie publishing thing isn't for the faint of heart.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Will Edwards on March 07, 2017, 01:18:43 AM
Some background - I first published in 2013. Made a bit of money. Then, in 2014, my revenues were $139,000. 2015, almost identical, around $136,000. 2016 - uh oh, down to $67,000. 2017 - don't ask. Let's just say I didn't clear $2,000 in revenue last month and leave it at that.

I think that I (tentatively) have figured it out. I think. I don't know, though. I'm really scared that I'm a has-been, although I'm quite sure that, compared to some of the writers on this board, I'm still considered a never-was.

I can feel the pain.

Something similar happened to me. I spent 11 years building my web business and was doing 5 figures annually, selling digital products including ebooks even before Kindle began. When Google changed its algos, my site lost 90% of its traffic and I lost 90% of my income. After that, I decided to start again, this time focussing on Amazon and Kindle and, at present, I am doing a lot worse than you.

For many people (including me) the idea of making something around $2K per month or a bit less would be something of a result. I have about 20 (roughly) books under 4 different pen names, with just one of them doing anything and the total, of all of that, is not as well as you are doing right now. As far as I am concerned you are not a has-been or a never-was ... you are a bean! A human bean.

For what it's worth, here are my own thoughts:

Circa 2013, were very good years for writers. There was much less competition and even a small amount of promotion was enough to get you noticed. Within your genre, it would have been easy to get on top 100 lists and also-boughts etc.

No genre is good or bad per se. If you research any genre, you will find there are winners and losers. It's true that some genres become hot and trending etc, but you can do very well (perhaps even better) within genres that don't, where you can be a big fish in a small sea.

There are other roads to the top of the mountain. By this, I mean that you don't need to do what everybody else is doing - I understand that this is not the essence of the received wisdom (and I am not saying there is anything wrong with it) but it is not the only way.

Here's wishing you the best of luck as you work out the way forward.

Will :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: thesmallprint on March 07, 2017, 04:34:50 AM
Somebody just posted an old TV advert on twitter here in the UK. It was from 1975 and it was a recruitment ad for the coal mining industry in Wales. Its tagline was: "People will aways need coal"

Oh yeah?

Come August I'll be 64 years old.  Here's the main lesson I've learned from life: When it comes to predicting markets, events in geopolitics, weather, economic conditions, election results, nobody knows anything.

Nobody knows anything.

An educated guess that proves wrong has no more merit for it being educated, although I will forecast one thing: the speed of change will increase, especially in our business. Markets will saturate in double-quick time. New marketing tactics will become blunt within months if not weeks. Current stalwarts like BookBub will one day - probably sooner than we think - go under.

To try to anticipate consumer behaviour, and constantly be determined to react to it, is the road to misery. Rich misery for some, for a while, no doubt, but misery all the same.

So, write what you enjoy writing and at a pace that makes you happy. If it sells it sells. If it doesn't, at least you enjoyed writing it and, if it's good, that ever-changing market will come all the way back round and discover you again. And when it turns up in your yard it'll find you sitting on a swing in the sunshine with a cold drink and a smile.  What it will find in many yards is a grave with a wooden cross marked "She wrote and marketed herself to death".

AnnieJo, I suspect that one of the toughest things you've done was hit publish when you finished your original post. You might have spent many sleepless nights worrying and condemning yourself, but coming here now took guts and heart and humility. You might not be earning as much as before, but the experience has done you no damage as a human being. You're a star.

The strength you had to write this will stand you in good stead. So will your experience. People sometimes talk of experience without, I think, realizing what is at the heart of it. Its value is much underrated. Experience comes to your rescue in the dead of night when you cannot write another word. When you are exhausted. When you are done and you know you are done. Finished. But the trick with experience is that it won't appear unbidden and rescue you. You must call on it. You must say to yourself, "I know I can do this because I have done it before. If I have done it before I can do it again. This is nothing new to me. This is not a challenge. I have done it. I passed the test a long time ago. I can do it."

Good luck AnnieJo.


Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Will Edwards on March 07, 2017, 05:38:07 AM
But the trick with experience is that it won't appear unbidden and rescue you. You must call on it. You must say to yourself, "I know I can do this because I have done it before. If I have done it before I can do it again. This is nothing new to me. This is not a challenge. I have done it. I passed the test a long time ago. I can do it."

^ A lovely post and quite lyrical too :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: This_Way_Down on March 07, 2017, 05:59:21 AM
The fact is that we are entertainers. I know some people imagine themselves artists. But readers of genre fiction want to be entertained. So if they want a certain type of book from you, give it to them. Be entertaining. You just can't take your fans where you think they should go if they don't want to go there. I'm not saying abandon other types of stories. But I think the lesson you have learned is you had better dance with the one that brung ya...
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: JaclynDolamore on March 07, 2017, 07:24:31 AM
What would be wisdom? To rewrite the series that didn't satisfy fan demands or to start with a new series altogether? Has anyone ties to rewrite a whole series? Did the fans buy into it then?

I'm rewriting my YA series into an adult urban fantasy this year. So we'll see how that goes. I would hesitate to do it without a clear plan.

In my case, I started my indie career with quirky YA fantasy, because I've been published traditionally in YA for years and I thought it was my wheelhouse. But then I decided to try my hand at an adult fantasy romance. This turned into the most successful book I've ever written. It did pick up sales for the YA a little, but for the most part, my also-boughts don't have a LOT of YA. My readers do seem to read urban fantasy. Also, my YA characters were adults originally, but I "teen-ified" them years ago for my agent. So I was actually reverting back to how the story originally was. At this point, I just want my brand to be all adult fantasy romance with the only deviation being whether the setting of a series is contemporary/urban fantasy or more epic/traditional fantasy. I'd only published two books in the YA series and had sold very few, so I felt like it wasn't too late to walk it back and get everything in line.

This has been such a great thread.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: AlexaKang on March 07, 2017, 07:34:21 AM
Annie,

Stopping by and again to say "hang in there!!!" We're all rooting for you and I for one believe that you can make a come back. Write to please your original readers, yes. But write what you like too. It's really the only way to produce the best work. I don't think writers can ever be "has beens". Otherwise we would never have any classics!!!  We always have new chances.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Princess Charming on March 07, 2017, 07:34:29 AM

Come August I'll be 64 years old.  Here's the main lesson I've learned from life: When it comes to predicting markets, events in geopolitics, weather, economic conditions, election results, nobody knows anything.

Nobody knows anything.

AnnieJo, I suspect that one of the toughest things you've done was hit publish when you finished your original post. You might have spent many sleepless nights worrying and condemning yourself, but coming here now took guts and heart and humility. You might not be earning as much as before, but the experience has done you no damage as a human being. You're a star.


Love this!

Anybody else envision a cowboy sitting by a crackling fire beneath a starry night while he tells his children the facts about life?
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Anarchist on March 07, 2017, 07:37:01 AM
The fact is that we are entertainers. I know some people imagine themselves artists. But readers of genre fiction want to be entertained. So if they want a certain type of book from you, give it to them. Be entertaining. You just can't take your fans where you think they should go if they don't want to go there. I'm not saying abandon other types of stories. But I think the lesson you have learned is you had better dance with the one that brung ya...

I sometimes joke that my employer in this business is my customer base. I survey them. They tell me what they want. I create it for them. They buy it.

It's a solid business model. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on March 07, 2017, 07:53:31 AM
The fact is that we are entertainers. I know some people imagine themselves artists. But readers of genre fiction want to be entertained. So if they want a certain type of book from you, give it to them. Be entertaining. You just can't take your fans where you think they should go if they don't want to go there. I'm not saying abandon other types of stories. But I think the lesson you have learned is you had better dance with the one that brung ya...

I can't like this quote  hard enough. Thank you!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Stacy Claflin on March 07, 2017, 09:44:45 AM
Hi Annie,

I'm really sorry you're going through this season, but I know you'll pull out of it! I love a lot of the advice given in the thread - some of it is phenomenal. It's helped me to understand why my sweet romance series doesn't do as well my other stuff. My PNR and contemporary suspense have enough in common (promise to the readers: themes, emotions, etc.) that reader crossover is natural a lot of the time, though some refuse to leave their preferred genre. More often than not, I've heard readers say they tried a new genre because I wrote it, and they found a new genre they love.

Finding the balance between writing what you love and what your readers love is the ideal place to be. You've been there before, and you'll get there again. Thanks so much for your open, honest post. I can't wait to see what successes await you!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: elizabethbarone on March 07, 2017, 10:19:58 AM
Oh, Annie. It must've been really hard to post this. *hugs* I completely get it... I've been struggling for a while. I had a successful release in 2015 and I just can't get back there, never mind surpass it. This gig is hard. I suspect it's tenacity more than anything else that makes a lasting career. Hang in there. *hugs you tight*
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Crystal_ on March 07, 2017, 10:40:59 AM
Thanks so much for sharing this, Annie. You gave me some great advice when I was first starting out and I hope I can return the favor.

Do you actually want to write slow burn romances? If it's been two years since you've had a romance hit, then you've probably lost a huge chunk of your romance readers. I think you should approach this as if you are starting over (unless you have a really easy way to speak to your fans--like a newsletter of 15k or something). What would you do if you were starting over? What do you actually want to write that will actually sell?

New adult is incredibly saturated and competitive right now. I think New Adult and PNR are probably the most competitive genres, and they're filled with .99 KU books. Big authors are spending five-figures a month on Facebook ads and releasing constantly at .99. Midlist authors are also spending tons and releasing regularly, and at .99. It's effing hard to sell a 2.99+ book in New Adult, even if your book is really on market. If I didn't love writing sexy NA, I would run from the genre for one where people price to make money off sales and not just off (stuffed) KU reads. And I made six figures of profit last year.

If legal thrillers are what call your name, I would start writing legal thrillers under a pen name (granted, I know nothing about legal thrillers). If you want to stick with romance, I would approach this as a big rebrand. Maybe start a new pen. Maybe revise and re-release (under new names/with new covers the series that didn't do well).

Yeah, I started to doubt myself. And I wanted to write to market, so I wanted to get in on the E-Rom action. Big mistake. I didn't enjoy writing it because I don't really enjoy writing about sex nearly as much as I like writing about emotions and story elements. As for Temptations - I don't know what I was thinking there. That's a book that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Murder mystery or erotic romance? Either way, my fans didn't want to touch it. Lesson learned! :)

I see this sort of talk in romance (sub)forums all the time and it's always a This Person Doesn't Actually Like/Read Romance red flag. The sex in romance should always be about the emotions. Especially in erotic romance. Romance readers enjoy hot sex scenes, absolutely, but they are there for the emotional connection.

Romance is a really broad genre with a lot of different tones, heat levels, and subject matters. I started writing in a niche I really love, and that is when my sales really took off. I'm on the same wavelength as these readers, so I instinctively know what they want in books (and I get more experience every book). Even so, my second series isn't doing nearly as well as my first did. My numbers are great by most people's definitions, but I am greedy and I want more. It's frustrating trouble shooting. Things change constantly. Permafree stops working. BookBub doesn't perform as well. Facebook CPCs go up. In my case, I don't think it's the books, the covers, or the blurbs, but I can't be sure. I think it's increasing competition/more expensive FB ads, but I don't know. Even though I made five-figures last month without a release, I spent the whole month stressing about this.

So I get it. Sales are mysterious. The market is mysterious. Even when you think you know what's working with Amazon and/or advertisers, it can change at any moment. My last two BookBubs were lackluster (but still profitable).

I write rock star romance specifically, but at it's heart, the books are really family romances with tattooed, manwh*re heroes. It's just that the family isn't always a blood family. It's the band. Having a specific niche is great in that I have less competition, but it also limits my mainstream appeal. Which is why I'm going to try a family romance series next-- one that captures the same fun, sexy, a little bit angsty, damaged characters helping each other heal tone. That might fail epically or it might be awesome. The only way to find out is to do it.

It took me a lot of books to figure out what I wanted my "brand" to be. Now that I have it, I'm tempted to unpublish/switch pen names of some of my older books (even though many of my readers tell me they love them), but I think as long as the blurbs and covers make the off-brand books really clear, I'm okay.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Sapphire on March 07, 2017, 01:03:42 PM
I just wanted to say how great it was to see names pop up in this thread that I haven't seen in Writers Cafe for a long time.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: IreneP on March 07, 2017, 02:12:18 PM
Reading between the lines, what stands out most to me is that you got away from writing what was easiest to you, away from the kind of stories you really like. And your readers agreed. Good luck. I wrote about 400K words last year, published 61K. My editors just didn't like the first two manuscripts I finished. The third one took off, and it was the easiest to write.

Hi Annie -

You've gotten so much good advice. I don't have anything really to add, except I think that writing what you feel comfortable and happy writing is key. Readers can really sense when you are writing something (sex, for example) that you only include because you think you need it to sell.

Beyond that, I want to say that have seen so many authors in the past years go through this. Not just indies, trad pub authors who had well-selling series dropped, etc. I've also seen a lot of them work hard and bounce back and sometimes going on to be even more popular than before the slump. It's something few people will tell you - that just because you're selling today doesn't mean you'll be selling tomorrow. Don't give up. It's a very competitive market and it can be hard to get noticed in romance. On the bright side, there are SO  many romance readers with tastes for everything from sweet to erotic. I know you'll be able to find your readers again.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: CJArcher on March 07, 2017, 02:33:00 PM
Hi Annie, I have nothing new to add to the awesome advice you've already received, except to say hang in there. I think your situation is very common, and it's not limited to indie authors. The truth is, it can be hard to back up a popular series with another and another. Readers move on, tastes change, or we can't capture what made our earlier books great, or we just get bored writing the same type of book. This business is SO hard and is full of ups and downs. I sincerely hope you're about to climb up again. Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 02:50:34 PM
Annie,

Stopping by and again to say "hang in there!!!" We're all rooting for you and I for one believe that you can make a come back. Write to please your original readers, yes. But write what you like too. It's really the only way to produce the best work. I don't think writers can ever be "has beens". Otherwise we would never have any classics!!!  We always have new chances.


Thanks, Alexa! :) I think that I might write what I like after all. My very first legal thriller is kinda getting off the ground, thanks to John Ellsworth, who pimped me out to his mailing list. I might just see where that leads and abandon the NA thing right now.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 02:53:15 PM
Hi Annie,

I'm really sorry you're going through this season, but I know you'll pull out of it! I love a lot of the advice given in the thread - some of it is phenomenal. It's helped me to understand why my sweet romance series doesn't do as well my other stuff. My PNR and contemporary suspense have enough in common (promise to the readers: themes, emotions, etc.) that reader crossover is natural a lot of the time, though some refuse to leave their preferred genre. More often than not, I've heard readers say they tried a new genre because I wrote it, and they found a new genre they love.

Finding the balance between writing what you love and what your readers love is the ideal place to be. You've been there before, and you'll get there again. Thanks so much for your open, honest post. I can't wait to see what successes await you!

Aw, thanks, Stacy! This has been a learning experience, so much so that I'm tempted to write a book about self-publishing, but specifically focus on all the mistakes I've made. I'm also seeing tentative success with my legal thriller. A lot of posters recommended I stick with that genre, and I think that they might be right about that. I was starting to write my NA, but now I think that I might need to feed the legal thriller beast after all!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 02:54:19 PM
Oh, Annie. It must've been really hard to post this. *hugs* I completely get it... I've been struggling for a while. I had a successful release in 2015 and I just can't get back there, never mind surpass it. This gig is hard. I suspect it's tenacity more than anything else that makes a lasting career. Hang in there. *hugs you tight*

It is hard! So hard...you hang in there, too. We'll hang in there together! Thanks for the hugs!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 03:02:34 PM
Thanks so much for sharing this, Annie. You gave me some great advice when I was first starting out and I hope I can return the favor.

Do you actually want to write slow burn romances? If it's been two years since you've had a romance hit, then you've probably lost a huge chunk of your romance readers. I think you should approach this as if you are starting over (unless you have a really easy way to speak to your fans--like a newsletter of 15k or something). What would you do if you were starting over? What do you actually want to write that will actually sell?

New adult is incredibly saturated and competitive right now. I think New Adult and PNR are probably the most competitive genres, and they're filled with .99 KU books. Big authors are spending five-figures a month on Facebook ads and releasing constantly at .99. Midlist authors are also spending tons and releasing regularly, and at .99. It's effing hard to sell a 2.99+ book in New Adult, even if your book is really on market. If I didn't love writing sexy NA, I would run from the genre for one where people price to make money off sales and not just off (stuffed) KU reads. And I made six figures of profit last year.

If legal thrillers are what call your name, I would start writing legal thrillers under a pen name (granted, I know nothing about legal thrillers). If you want to stick with romance, I would approach this as a big rebrand. Maybe start a new pen. Maybe revise and re-release (under new names/with new covers the series that didn't do well).

I see this sort of talk in romance (sub)forums all the time and it's always a This Person Doesn't Actually Like/Read Romance red flag. The sex in romance should always be about the emotions. Especially in erotic romance. Romance readers enjoy hot sex scenes, absolutely, but they are there for the emotional connection.

Romance is a really broad genre with a lot of different tones, heat levels, and subject matters. I started writing in a niche I really love, and that is when my sales really took off. I'm on the same wavelength as these readers, so I instinctively know what they want in books (and I get more experience every book). Even so, my second series isn't doing nearly as well as my first did. My numbers are great by most people's definitions, but I am greedy and I want more. It's frustrating trouble shooting. Things change constantly. Permafree stops working. BookBub doesn't perform as well. Facebook CPCs go up. In my case, I don't think it's the books, the covers, or the blurbs, but I can't be sure. I think it's increasing competition/more expensive FB ads, but I don't know. Even though I made five-figures last month without a release, I spent the whole month stressing about this.

So I get it. Sales are mysterious. The market is mysterious. Even when you think you know what's working with Amazon and/or advertisers, it can change at any moment. My last two BookBubs were lackluster (but still profitable).

I write rock star romance specifically, but at it's heart, the books are really family romances with tattooed, manwh*re heroes. It's just that the family isn't always a blood family. It's the band. Having a specific niche is great in that I have less competition, but it also limits my mainstream appeal. Which is why I'm going to try a family romance series next-- one that captures the same fun, sexy, a little bit angsty, damaged characters helping each other heal tone. That might fail epically or it might be awesome. The only way to find out is to do it.

It took me a lot of books to figure out what I wanted my "brand" to be. Now that I have it, I'm tempted to unpublish/switch pen names of some of my older books (even though many of my readers tell me they love them), but I think as long as the blurbs and covers make the off-brand books really clear, I'm okay.

You always give such awesome advice! It's helpful to know what's going on with the market, and you always have the goods on that. In fact, after reading your post, I'm rethinking the NA part of my plan altogether. I have one started, but I might go ahead and just shift all my focus to my legal thriller series. That was my plan to begin with, but then I thought I might write something for my not-huge fan base - something that is similar in tone and feel to my biggest hit. But since it's so hard to get traction in NA right now - and the great Bella Andre even confirmed this - perhaps I do need to completely shift my focus to making my legal thriller series work right now.

The good news is that I tentatively have a bit of traction on that book. John Ellsworth pimped me out, and I got 260 sales yesterday. That's actually my best launch ever, and John's been getting good comments already. I have to admit, I like "Bad Faith." I think that it hits the market well. I just didn't think that I could get traction on it right out of the gate - I just figured that I would write a bunch of books in that series, make the first one free, and hope that the series takes off then. But it looks like maybe, just maybe, the series might have traction already. I'll have to see. At any rate, I'm going to feed that beast and abandon NA for now.

Thanks for all your help over the years! 
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 03:03:33 PM
Hi Annie -

You've gotten so much good advice. I don't have anything really to add, except I think that writing what you feel comfortable and happy writing is key. Readers can really sense when you are writing something (sex, for example) that you only include because you think you need it to sell.

Beyond that, I want to say that have seen so many authors in the past years go through this. Not just indies, trad pub authors who had well-selling series dropped, etc. I've also seen a lot of them work hard and bounce back and sometimes going on to be even more popular than before the slump. It's something few people will tell you - that just because you're selling today doesn't mean you'll be selling tomorrow. Don't give up. It's a very competitive market and it can be hard to get noticed in romance. On the bright side, there are SO  many romance readers with tastes for everything from sweet to erotic. I know you'll be able to find your readers again.

Good luck!


Thanks for the kind words! I'm hanging in there for sure! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 03:04:38 PM
Hi Annie, I have nothing new to add to the awesome advice you've already received, except to say hang in there. I think your situation is very common, and it's not limited to indie authors. The truth is, it can be hard to back up a popular series with another and another. Readers move on, tastes change, or we can't capture what made our earlier books great, or we just get bored writing the same type of book. This business is SO hard and is full of ups and downs. I sincerely hope you're about to climb up again. Good luck!

Thanks CJ! If I could have the kind of year after year success you've had, I would be happy indeed! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: JaclynDolamore on March 07, 2017, 03:48:47 PM
.Beyond that, I want to say that have seen so many authors in the past years go through this. Not just indies, trad pub authors who had well-selling series dropped, etc. I've also seen a lot of them work hard and bounce back and sometimes going on to be even more popular than before the slump. It's something few people will tell you - that just because you're selling today doesn't mean you'll be selling tomorrow.

This is a good point, too, that maybe isn't discussed enough. Success is not just rare, it's also usually fleeting. My first traditionally published novel came out in December 2009. I was part of a Livejournal (haha, so long ago) group of debut young adult authors. The authors ran the gamut from a girl who got a seven figure advance and sold a ton of copies, to small press authors with tiny advances. For several years after, I did an informal survey of "where are they now" for everyone in the group. Some authors had one little book and then withdrew from the business. Some authors started small but had a breakout novel a few years later. Some switched genres or wrote under pen names later and found a steady groove. And some authors hit big but struggled to find success later. But one thing is true across the board: not a single person from that group consistently released novels and had hit after hit.

But the authors I know who make a living, who stay in the game, are the ones who don't let discouragement paralyze them, who keep writing and keep putting their work out there, adapting to different market conditions and trying new things when necessary...sometimes stumbling along the way, but not letting that get them down either. Annie, it sounds like you have THAT quality, whatever mistakes you might have made, and more than anything else that will probably assure you'll see success again in the future.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 07, 2017, 04:28:11 PM
This is a good point, too, that maybe isn't discussed enough. Success is not just rare, it's also usually fleeting. My first traditionally published novel came out in December 2009. I was part of a Livejournal (haha, so long ago) group of debut young adult authors. The authors ran the gamut from a girl who got a seven figure advance and sold a ton of copies, to small press authors with tiny advances. For several years after, I did an informal survey of "where are they now" for everyone in the group. Some authors had one little book and then withdrew from the business. Some authors started small but had a breakout novel a few years later. Some switched genres or wrote under pen names later and found a steady groove. And some authors hit big but struggled to find success later. But one thing is true across the board: not a single person from that group consistently released novels and had hit after hit.

But the authors I know who make a living, who stay in the game, are the ones who don't let discouragement paralyze them, who keep writing and keep putting their work out there, adapting to different market conditions and trying new things when necessary...sometimes stumbling along the way, but not letting that get them down either. Annie, it sounds like you have THAT quality, whatever mistakes you might have made, and more than anything else that will probably assure you'll see success again in the future.

Aw, thanks Jaclyn! I hope that you're right! But you are right about one thing for sure - success is hard to hang onto. Really, really, hard. And it's so frustrating trying to figure it out. But the support on this board really touches my heart! We're all in this together!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: BellaJames on March 07, 2017, 04:53:52 PM
The fact is that we are entertainers. I know some people imagine themselves artists. But readers of genre fiction want to be entertained. So if they want a certain type of book from you, give it to them. Be entertaining. You just can't take your fans where you think they should go if they don't want to go there. I'm not saying abandon other types of stories. But I think the lesson you have learned is you had better dance with the one that brung ya...

This.

When I hang out on different forums, blogs or even just reading comments on youtube from authors, I am surprised by how many authors don't understand that they are entertainers.

You are providing entertainment to people and so listening to your readers, looking at what readers are resonating with and building a brand/formula is important like:

-BellaAndre (big family romances)
-Rosalind J (something quite different like hot New Zealand Rugby players)
-Colleen Hoover (thought provoking tearjerker na romances)
- Alexa Riley (OTT insta-love novellas)
- Kylie Scott (sexy rockstar romances)

Other authors with a strong brand:

- James Patterson
-Nicholas Sparks
-Nora Roberts
etc.......
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: AgnesWebb on March 07, 2017, 05:07:19 PM
ANNIE!
I met you at the HM Ward event in Oxnard a couple years back, when apparently both of us were doing much better! I had purple hair back then lol. Anyway, I have been focused mainly on billionaire romance for the past three years, but I am going to start a new pen name (my FOURTH! lol) and try and write some conspiracy thrillers. Something's gotta give with these sales numbers.
Wishing you every bit of luck in the world, and use those Uber stories as inspiration!! Praying that we can both get back to our happy sales places soon.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Crystal_ on March 07, 2017, 05:34:01 PM
This.

When I hang out on different forums, blogs or even just reading comments on youtube from authors, I am surprised by how many authors don't understand that they are entertainers.

You are providing entertainment to people and so listening to your readers, looking at what readers are resonating with and building a brand/formula is important like:

-BellaAndre (big family romances)
-Rosalind J (something quite different like hot New Zealand Rugby players)
-Colleen Hoover (thought provoking tearjerker na romances)
- Alexa Riley (OTT insta-love novellas)
- Kylie Scott (sexy rockstar romances)

Other authors with a strong brand:

- James Patterson
-Nicholas Sparks
-Nora Roberts
etc.......

The fact is that we are entertainers. I know some people imagine themselves artists. But readers of genre fiction want to be entertained. So if they want a certain type of book from you, give it to them. Be entertaining. You just can't take your fans where you think they should go if they don't want to go there. I'm not saying abandon other types of stories. But I think the lesson you have learned is you had better dance with the one that brung ya...

IMO, artist vs. entertainer is a false dichotomy. We can do all the things art is supposed to while entertaining people. We can make them think, make them feel, touch their lives, etc. Maybe I'm pretentious, but once I start my book, it's not about me or about art or about entertaining. It's about the characters. They're the ones in charge.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: valeriec80 on March 07, 2017, 06:39:25 PM
Since getting out of romance was the best thing I did for my career, I'm of course cheering you on for your move into thrillers, but if you really love romance, you should stay.

But if you branch out, you'll find that you don't miss the churn, or the fact that your covers are no longer on trend after two weeks, or the pressure to have 100+ reviews on release day, etc.

My advice for the thriller market would be to carefully study what's selling now and do your best to emulate that style. And to definitely not keeping writing FIVE books if the first one doesn't do anything. If it were me, and the first one tanked, I'd have an exit strategy for book two and then start something new right after. I would definitely not continue a low-selling series past book three, but that is just me. Still, I doubt you'll have to worry. You'll probably blow it out of the water with your first try.

You are awesome, and you got this!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Wired on March 07, 2017, 07:55:04 PM
I would definitely not continue a low-selling series past book three...

How should we define low selling?
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: This_Way_Down on March 07, 2017, 09:07:39 PM
IMO, artist vs. entertainer is a false dichotomy. We can do all the things art is supposed to while entertaining people. We can make them think, make them feel, touch their lives, etc. Maybe I'm pretentious, but once I start my book, it's not about me or about art or about entertaining. It's about the characters. They're the ones in charge.
Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy. I find there to be genuine value in what I do. I don't need to fill my ego with delusions that I'm doing anything more than that. My fantasy novels are not deep or insightful. There is no lesson to be learned. They're exciting and a thrill for the reader (at least that's the goal). I'll leave the art to the literary fiction writers. They care more about being clever than I do. 
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: BellaJames on March 07, 2017, 09:58:27 PM
Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy. I find there to be genuine value in what I do. I don't need to fill my ego with delusions that I'm doing anything more than that. My fantasy novels are not deep or insightful. There is no lesson to be learned. They're exciting and a thrill for the reader (at least that's the goal). I'll leave the art to the literary fiction writers. They care more about being clever than I do.

This


IMO, artist vs. entertainer is a false dichotomy. We can do all the things art is supposed to while entertaining people. We can make them think, make them feel, touch their lives, etc. Maybe I'm pretentious, but once I start my book, it's not about me or about art or about entertaining. It's about the characters. They're the ones in charge.

Screenwriter, director, author, songwriters - they are all entertainers, artists, creative people. I think authors seem to seperate themselves too much from other forms of the entertainment industry and so they make their work more precious, more valuable. Maybe that's why authors get blocked from creating more than any other entertainer/creative person.

Screenwriters, directors, songwriters and singers make people think and feel too. A song can change the way you look at the world or make you feel happier. There are songs that make people weep. Maybe the song reminds you of a person or a period in your life.

I agree with everything This way down said. Most of the mega bestselling fiction books over the last few years, have not changed the world. They are not teaching anything. The one thing most of the mega bestsellers have in common is that they entertain a lot of people.

Books, films, tv shows, an album of great songs can give people some escape from the problems in their lives, give them a break from the constant grind of life (work, bills, debt, cook, clean etc.....)

I don't see it as:

Authors in this corner
Everyother entertainer/creative person in another corner
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 07, 2017, 10:59:45 PM
Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art?
This! Books should not just nourish the brains, but also lubricate them, keep them working. Without some entertainment once in a while the brain goes crazy.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Nic on March 08, 2017, 12:04:42 AM
Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy.

You juxtapose art and entertainment as if art didn't entertain, on a level. Art of course also entertains those who seek it out. People aren't into art as if swallowing some bitter medicine for the sake of a healthy brain or whatever other cause, just to get it over with and have an elightened moment. I can assure you that visiting exhibitions of Picasso, Dali or Beuys, or listening to a violin concerto by Brahms, or reading books by Svetlana Alexievich or John Banville is enlightening, entertaining and transcending on many levels, many of which are considerably higher and more demanding than just a guffaw, a frisson or "teh feelz". They aim to be much more than that, they commonly are not aimed to make the most money out of the least invested time.

Usually the reason why art is seen as more important is that it tries to achieve things on much higher levels than momentary entertainment. Art involves more than just the artist themselves, and at the highest level speaks to and is being spoken to by our species and souls. Money is secondary or even of no issue entirely. Also, of course, one other reason why artists engage in art actually is the long run. Few of the romances or thrillers currently churned out will be read in 500 years (or often even in 5 months), but I'd wager you quite a bit that not just Shakespeare and Plato will be read then, but very likely also Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and probably also abovementioned Svetlana Alexievich and John Banville.

My guess is that it is this which rankles when comparing one's genre work written for fast food-style consumption with those who aim to create art. Most forget however that a lot of art is breadless or nearly breadless. I doubt a lot of artists earned in their lifetime as comparatively much as Annie Jocoby earned in just 3-4 years.

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Annie B on March 08, 2017, 12:44:49 AM
Shakespeare was the fun, silly entertainment of his day. I don't get what the point of this argument it? Many things we read from 100 or 200 years ago and are considered "classics" are things the author wrote to feed their family while entertaining the so-called masses.

You can do art that helps people and changes lives and get paid for it. Being paid for your art doesn't make it somehow less. I wish that idea would die in a fire. Art has value, and artists (including writers) should be paid fairly for it.  Shakespeare got paid for his work. He was just a guy like the rest of us, making dirty jokes to please the penny seats and make his rent.

Truth is, nobody knows who will be read in 100 years. We can try to predict, but we'll probably get it wrong. It won't matter anyway, since we'll be dead. Worry about the now, about making people happy with your work now. Bust your butt, make great art, and make sure you get paid for it. You know, like Shakespeare did. Or Dickens. Or Austen. Or Atwood. Or King. etc
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Nic on March 08, 2017, 01:13:49 AM
You can do art that helps people and changes lives and get paid for it. Being paid for your art doesn't make it somehow less. I wish that idea would die in a fire. Art has value, and artists (including writers) should be paid fairly for it.

I didn't say that you can't get paid for it or shouldn't be paid. I said that a lot of art isn't being paid and the artists created it anyway. Shakespeare needed and had a patron, the Earl of Southampton, and earned his main income not as a writer. He earned it by acting and owning a share of the theatre company.

Art is rarely intrinsically commercial, whereas commercial entertainment is exactly that. It doesn't matter how much you dislike that fact, it won't change just because you would like it to change. Ask around how much lit fic writers or poets, even the ones who win prizes, get paid on average. Try this with experimental musicians and avantgarde artists. There's a reason why mass market goods cater to mass market taste, which rarely ever is the same as art, a few outliers notwithstanding. The stress is on "few" here.

I find it amusing at this point how much on one hand it is argued, that all that indies do is maintaining a business, and how much writing ought to be treated as a business, and then, when it is being pointed out that commercialism and art rarely go hand in hand, people bite back in fury to claim art as well. Probably out of a feeling of inferiority, instead of simply accepting that these are two distinct things in the majority of cases.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Misty Archer on March 08, 2017, 01:41:47 AM
I would say that most art starts as entertainment, whether for the market of for the individuals creating it.

I think what separates "art" from the other writing/painting/whatever created in the same period is that it resonates with people in a later time period.

Some artist starve because it either didn't resonate with their contemporaries, or it was lost in the mass of work produced and did not gain any visibility. Maybe they didn't want or need an audience.

Shakespeare wrote plays to entertain, to feed the masses who came to the globe, the groundlings and the unwashed that came to see the plays and didn't sit in theatres drinking in the words in reverent silence. From all accounts they threw things at the actors, jeered at the villains, made bawdy comments about the lovers and were thoroughly entertained.

Van Gogh could hardly give away his work.

I think art is created by the context and narrative that later consumers give it. It often seems to be the story around the art that raises it above work created by others at the same time. Who was Shakespeare really? A man? A woman? Several people? We are aware of the torment and passion put into many works of art and that adds another dimension to the paint on the canvas and the words on the page.

Many artists (and people not regarded as artists) deal with themes that really resonate with us - love, death, and the journey we are on through life.

For me the artist thing is just a label (or sales pitch) that other people put on someone that creates. What people regard as art often says more about them and their worldview than the artist.

Back to Annie though - I think you should write what gives you joy, with one eye on what people are buying, and make sure you tweak it so that it hits the right tropes for that audience.

If you love what you are writing the words will flow and you will transmit some of that joy and excitement to your readers. Entertain their brains out.

Sending you a lot of positive thoughts - you can turn this around and have fun while you do it.

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Annie B on March 08, 2017, 01:51:51 AM
Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Nic on March 08, 2017, 02:37:42 AM
Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)

Art and craft are, again mostly, not always, different things. Which plays into the exact discussion of art vs commercial entertainment.

I'd say that the majority of indie authors here, myself included, as I write mainly genre fiction, are well-versed in the craft of writing and plotting, and have pinpointed the kind of tales gobbled up by the mass market. A lot of us have also pinned down the business side of things. Both together means commercial success at some level. Most, not all, aim mainly at selling as much as they can possibly sell for personal gain, which is part of Annie's problem. She needs to sell to earn her income.

That is all fine by me. You seem to think I don't think it is. I just believe it has little to do with art and being an artist. I could pull up at least a hundred posts here in cross-reference, which contain a variety of middle and big players coming down on those who ask "but the art?" with how irrelevant that question is, and that pushing out as much and as fast as possible trumps art any which way.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. You could of course submit "Seals in the Werebear Cave" or "Space Marines Against The Centaurians" to the Nobel prize committee. The day they dish out a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Man Booker prize to one of these I'll eat my words. Who knows? It might happen.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: NeedWant on March 08, 2017, 02:46:01 AM
You can't have your cake and eat it too. You could of course submit "Seals in the Werebear Cave" or "Space Marines Against The Centaurians" to the Nobel prize committee. The day they dish out a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Man Booker prize to one of these I'll eat my words. Who knows? It might happen.

So something is only art in your eyes if it wins some big literary prize? And if the author doesn't do it for the money? Really? Is this a joke?  ???
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Sarah Shaw on March 08, 2017, 03:18:36 AM
Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)

I pretty much agree with this, except that I think writing can be art and craft, only art or only craft- or any shade between. And there are markets for every shade. Personally, I don't like to read the 'craft only' type writing, but I'm considerably outnumbered, so anyone who prefers that should go for it.

As for what eventually gets recognized as 'great art' - that depends on all kinds of future things that none of us can possibly know anything about. Emotions are universal and timeless, but what evokes them is very context and culturally dependent. The same with craft- people's tastes change all the time. Bottom line, whatever you write and whatever your reasons, be prepared for change. That's the only thing we can safely predict WILL happen.

And that brings me around to the OP... Thanks very much for this, Annie Jocoby. I'm hearing very similar stories from offline friends but very few have the courage to put their experience out there- and I think this perspective is very much needed.

I don't read contemporary romance, but I just bought your new thriller. Looking forward to reading it!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Jennifer Lewis on March 08, 2017, 04:08:01 AM
Annie, I just found this thread so I'm going to skip right over the art/craft debate and congratulate you on your persistence! I think the legal thriller sounds like a great idea and it sounds like you're off to a fabulous start.

I honestly think the biggest struggle for us writers is the pressure to keep writing the same type of thing over and over again. I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen a writer have a big hit with one type of series and then they cannot bring themselves to write more in that vein so they write something different (even a little different) and it bombs. It's a very rare author who doesn't succumb to this. Our creativity and versatility is a dangerous thing ;)

So I hope your legal thrillers have huge success and that you can resist the sneaking thoughts that will come into your head in about eighteen months that say, "Hmmm, it would be cool if I could make the DA into a dragon shifter...." or whatever your version of that would be, lol.

Onward and upward! This publishing game is not for the feint of heart.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: This_Way_Down on March 08, 2017, 05:28:25 AM
You juxtapose art and entertainment as if art didn't entertain, on a level. Art of course also entertains those who seek it out. People aren't into art as if swallowing some bitter medicine for the sake of a healthy brain or whatever other cause, just to get it over with and have an elightened moment. I can assure you that visiting exhibitions of Picasso, Dali or Beuys, or listening to a violin concerto by Brahms, or reading books by Svetlana Alexievich or John Banville is enlightening, entertaining and transcending on many levels, many of which are considerably higher and more demanding than just a guffaw, a frisson or "teh feelz". They aim to be much more than that, they commonly are not aimed to make the most money out of the least invested time.

Usually the reason why art is seen as more important is that it tries to achieve things on much higher levels than momentary entertainment. Art involves more than just the artist themselves, and at the highest level speaks to and is being spoken to by our species and souls. Money is secondary or even of no issue entirely. Also, of course, one other reason why artists engage in art actually is the long run. Few of the romances or thrillers currently churned out will be read in 500 years (or often even in 5 months), but I'd wager you quite a bit that not just Shakespeare and Plato will be read then, but very likely also Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and probably also abovementioned Svetlana Alexievich and John Banville.

My guess is that it is this which rankles when comparing one's genre work written for fast food-style consumption with those who aim to create art. Most forget however that a lot of art is breadless or nearly breadless. I doubt a lot of artists earned in their lifetime as comparatively much as Annie Jocoby earned in just 3-4 years.
I'm not saying entertainment can't be artful. Or that art can't be entertaining. But the fact remains genre fiction is primarily entertainment. What I object to on a personal level is when it's viewed with contempt. People need entertainment. It's every bit a important as art - maybe more so. A fun story, a catchy song, a cool movie, or even a funny meme, provides a greater accumulative impact on the lives of people than what is thought of commonly as art. Is it literature for the masses? You bet it is. And I love the masses.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 08, 2017, 08:04:49 AM
Annie, I just found this thread so I'm going to skip right over the art/craft debate and congratulate you on your persistence! I think the legal thriller sounds like a great idea and it sounds like you're off to a fabulous start.

I honestly think the biggest struggle for us writers is the pressure to keep writing the same type of thing over and over again. I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen a writer have a big hit with one type of series and then they cannot bring themselves to write more in that vein so they write something different (even a little different) and it bombs. It's a very rare author who doesn't succumb to this. Our creativity and versatility is a dangerous thing ;)

So I hope your legal thrillers have huge success and that you can resist the sneaking thoughts that will come into your head in about eighteen months that say, "Hmmm, it would be cool if I could make the DA into a dragon shifter...." or whatever your version of that would be, lol.

Onward and upward! This publishing game is not for the feint of heart.

Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 08, 2017, 08:07:16 AM
ANNIE!
I met you at the HM Ward event in Oxnard a couple years back, when apparently both of us were doing much better! I had purple hair back then lol. Anyway, I have been focused mainly on billionaire romance for the past three years, but I am going to start a new pen name (my FOURTH! lol) and try and write some conspiracy thrillers. Something's gotta give with these sales numbers.
Wishing you every bit of luck in the world, and use those Uber stories as inspiration!! Praying that we can both get back to our happy sales places soon.

Sounds like you and I are in the same place - going from romance to thrillers! I remember you at that meeting - gosh, that seems like eons ago! Even then, I was freaking out about my sales, waiting for them to crash at any point. Well, the worst has happened, and I literally have no place to go but up. PM me and give me your email address - since we're doing the same thing, maybe we can help each other along!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 08, 2017, 08:09:09 AM
Since getting out of romance was the best thing I did for my career, I'm of course cheering you on for your move into thrillers, but if you really love romance, you should stay.

But if you branch out, you'll find that you don't miss the churn, or the fact that your covers are no longer on trend after two weeks, or the pressure to have 100+ reviews on release day, etc.

My advice for the thriller market would be to carefully study what's selling now and do your best to emulate that style. And to definitely not keeping writing FIVE books if the first one doesn't do anything. If it were me, and the first one tanked, I'd have an exit strategy for book two and then start something new right after. I would definitely not continue a low-selling series past book three, but that is just me. Still, I doubt you'll have to worry. You'll probably blow it out of the water with your first try.

You are awesome, and you got this!

Thanks Valerie! You've always been an inspiration to me, more than you know! I love that you're experiencing such success with your new UF - it sounds like you've found your niche! Hope I can have the same success when I change genres. Keeping my fingers crossed. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Crystal_ on March 08, 2017, 08:49:37 AM
Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy. I find there to be genuine value in what I do. I don't need to fill my ego with delusions that I'm doing anything more than that. My fantasy novels are not deep or insightful. There is no lesson to be learned. They're exciting and a thrill for the reader (at least that's the goal). I'll leave the art to the literary fiction writers. They care more about being clever than I do.

That isn't relevant to my point. Art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive, but they aren't required of each other either. You can write artless entertainment or artful entertainment or entertaining art. I find artless entertainment empty and boring as a reader and a writer, so I don't write it. (And I'm a former screenwriter and a person who dissects lyrics obsessively, so I don't see why we should impugne other creative fields as not being art).

Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.

But this is Annie's thread, so I'm going to drop the art debate. At the end of the day, you will be happier and more productive writing books that click with you. It's not wrong to write books that cine more easily. For me that's my idea of artful romance.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: PamelaKelley on March 08, 2017, 08:56:06 AM
Annie, I sent you a PM about your thrillers.  :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: SummerNights on March 08, 2017, 12:34:50 PM
That isn't relevant to my point. Art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive, but they aren't required of each other either. You can write artless entertainment or artful entertainment or entertaining art. I find artless entertainment empty and boring as a reader and a writer, so I don't write it. (And I'm a former screenwriter and a person who dissects lyrics obsessively, so I don't see why we should impugne other creative fields as not being art).

Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.

But this is Annie's thread, so I'm going to drop the art debate. At the end of the day, you will be happier and more productive writing books that click with you. It's not wrong to write books that cine more easily. For me that's my idea of artful romance.

Same here. I can't be entertained by a story that lacks depth or nuance. However, I have found that many people can.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: WriterSongwriter on March 08, 2017, 05:04:15 PM
@OP, so what you decided? What's the plan? Have you started writing already?
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 08, 2017, 05:15:18 PM
@OP, so what you decided? What's the plan? Have you started writing already?

I've decided to concentrate on the legal thrillers for now. I committed myself by putting Book Two up for a pre-order, publication date April 8, so there's no turning back now! I'm not sure if that's the right decision - it seems like every decision I make is the wrong one. We'll just have to see! I'm shelving NA romance for now. I do plan on writing ten books this year, but it might be 10 legal thrillers. Writing those comes natural to me. :) Thanks for checking in!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Lynn is a pseud--uh, never mind on March 08, 2017, 05:20:02 PM
I've decided to concentrate on the legal thrillers for now. I committed myself by putting Book Two up for a pre-order, publication date April 8, so there's no turning back now! I'm not sure if that's the right decision - it seems like every decision I make is the wrong one. We'll just have to see! I'm shelving NA romance for now. I do plan on writing ten books this year, but it might be 10 legal thrillers. Writing those comes natural to me. :) Thanks for checking in!
I like your plan. One suggestion. On Amazon and elsewhere, change your author profile to fit better with the legal thrillers. It's an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of people out there who think writing romance is a lesser art and you'll do yourself a favor by emphasizing your legal background instead of your romance writing chops. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 08, 2017, 06:18:36 PM
I like your plan. One suggestion. On Amazon and elsewhere, change your author profile to fit better with the legal thrillers. It's an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of people out there who think writing romance is a lesser art and you'll do yourself a favor by emphasizing your legal background instead of your romance writing chops. :)

Got it! Doing that right now. Thanks for the heads-up!!!!! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Sylvia R. Frost on March 08, 2017, 07:19:55 PM
Hey, Annie,

Sorry to hear the last few books haven't landed the way you want. I agree romance is a pretty crowded space right now and things are only getting harder and harder. One thing I might recommend is finding a great editor you like and working on the craft side of things. This isn't to say you've got weak points there, but I know for me that often when things aren't landing with readers sometimes it can be because my story-telling isn't as strong as I want it to be. It doesn't have to be an all the time thing, but working with a great editor at least once can be transformative IMHO. Forgive me if I'm wrong and you've already got a great editor, but the last I remembered you were only self-editing. This isn't to say that an editor will fix everything, but it can always be a good way you shake up the process! :-)

Thanks,
S
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: CarolynVMurray on March 09, 2017, 05:42:08 AM
Now that you've made the decision to pursue the legal thrillers rather than romance, you might want to rethink KU, for a few reasons. First, John Elllsworth's books are in KU. If he's willing to give you a shout-out, he's going to doing so to a mailing list that might be 50% (or more) KU readers. Secondly, you had said that you would feel badly if you weren't wide and your fans couldn't read your books. No longer relevant. You're starting from scratch in a new genre, and the romance readers who bought your first few series are not your audience now.

I won't speak from my own experience - I'll use someone much more knowledgeable - Chris Fox. I've read The Six Figure Author and he would say that you absolutely do not want romance authors buying your thriller books. Amazon's brain is trying to compile a profile of your reader, and if it's a consistent profile - they will help to sell your books. You don't want anything in your Also-Boughts that's not a thriller. (For that reason, he probably also would have recommended a thriller pen name.)

Planning for a quick second release is an excellent  idea.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: daveconifer on March 09, 2017, 09:05:00 AM
 
Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.
 

Can you name authors, at least in a PM to me?  I usually ignore debates like this, because they're cliched and different people use cliches to mean different things.  But you aren't doing that, so I'm curious to see what authors you consider "artless" ? 

As an aside, I'm pretty certain that if any author is "artless," I am...
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: anniejocoby on March 09, 2017, 01:39:42 PM
Now that you've made the decision to pursue the legal thrillers rather than romance, you might want to rethink KU, for a few reasons. First, John Elllsworth's books are in KU. If he's willing to give you a shout-out, he's going to doing so to a mailing list that might be 50% (or more) KU readers. Secondly, you had said that you would feel badly if you weren't wide and your fans couldn't read your books. No longer relevant. You're starting from scratch in a new genre, and the romance readers who bought your first few series are not your audience now.

I won't speak from my own experience - I'll use someone much more knowledgeable - Chris Fox. I've read The Six Figure Author and he would say that you absolutely do not want romance authors buying your thriller books. Amazon's brain is trying to compile a profile of your reader, and if it's a consistent profile - they will help to sell your books. You don't want anything in your Also-Boughts that's not a thriller. (For that reason, he probably also would have recommended a thriller pen name.)

Planning for a quick second release is an excellent  idea.


Great minds think alike! I actually have to keep my first book wide - I put it into the Kobo version of KU, so I'm tied to Kobo for six whole months. But here's my brand new plan - when Book Two hits, I'm gonna permafree Book One and run a bunch of ads. Book Two and all subsequent books will be KU all the way. Every time I release a new book in the series, I'm going to do a free run on the book right behind it with a bunch of ads- so I release Book Three, I'll do a free run on Book Two, I release Book Four and I'll do a free run on Book Three, etc. I think that's the best way to not exhaust the ad sites so that hopefully each free run will do well. I think that's the best way for me to get traction on this.

The only thing that sucks is that the people who might buy the book on Kobo and iTunes etc. might be upset with me for not putting the book out wide. I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I just hit on this idea today. I'm feeling better already.... :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...UPDATE!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 12:00:39 PM
I wanted to give an update, because things are kinda, sorta, moving. Thanks for everyone who chimed in, I've really taken everything to heart and tried to make some changes. You guys are awesome!

First, and this is most unusual - Nook is somehow moving. I cannot figure out why - I've checked my freebies through D2D, and all the free downloads are anemic. Yet the other books are selling. I've made $30 there just today, and it's not even noon. I made $64 all last month. As I said, I have no idea where these sales are coming from, but I'll take them!

Second, Bad Faith has somehow been doing well. Once again, a shout-out to the amazing John Ellsworth, who helped me launch it. It's sitting at 8,813 right now, at $2.99, not in KU, and I'm an unknown author in the genre. I'm quite grateful and happy with that - I figured that, once I made it $2.99, the sales would just die and I would end up making it a perma-free once Book Two drops, which is going to be early next month. Guess the algorithms helped out!

Third, I'm taking everyone's advice who told me to put the Harper Ross legal thriller series into KU. I unfortunately cannot put Bad Faith in there, because I stupidly uploaded it to Kobo and put it into the Kobo Plus thing, which means that the book is married to Kobo for six whole months. Dummy me. But every other book from that series is going into KU. I've gotten minimal sales on other platforms - I've gotten some on iTunes, because they featured it, but I think that the series will do much better in KU than wide. At least until I can establish myself.

Fourth, I finally just asked my mailing list why they liked Broken, which is the series that has a good 7x the sell-through rate of my other series. My hunch was right - my readers like the slow-burn, lots-of-emotions-and-little-sex approach. I've tried to force-feed them erotic romance and they weren't having it. They also gave me feedback on why they liked the characters in that book. So, I am going to write some NA, because my base wants that from from me, and I have a better road-map on how to give them what they want.

I'll update some more as my changes are taking place. I'm experimenting with cross-promotions and Insta-freebie and trying to do better marketing. I'm not good at any of that stuff, because I get way too distracted. But I'm going to try to devote at least an hour or so a day doing marketing things.

Thanks again guys!!!!!



Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: daveconifer on March 20, 2017, 12:03:42 PM
Way to go, Annie.  I've been following along.  You're too good at this to fail, glad to see you are righting the ship with hard work...
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 12:06:48 PM
Way to go, Annie.  I've been following along.  You're too good at this to fail, glad to see you are righting the ship with hard work...

Aw, thanks Dave!!!! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' on March 20, 2017, 12:11:01 PM
Good news, indeed! Your six months in Kobo will eventually pass and it will be a whole new start.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 12:19:46 PM
Good news, indeed! Your six months in Kobo will eventually pass and it will be a whole new start.


Thanks Gertie!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Becca Mills on March 20, 2017, 12:57:08 PM
So glad things are moving in a productive direction!  :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 01:01:10 PM
So glad things are moving in a productive direction!  :)

Thanks, Becca! We'll see if it keeps moving in a good direction, but I'm hopeful. I'm getting the sequel to Bad Faith out before it hits the 30 day cliff, so hope it keeps it going. :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...UPDATE!
Post by: Sarah Shaw on March 20, 2017, 01:15:01 PM
First, and this is most unusual - Nook is somehow moving. I cannot figure out why - I've checked my freebies through D2D, and all the free downloads are anemic. Yet the other books are selling. I've made $30 there just today, and it's not even noon. I made $64 all last month. As I said, I have no idea where these sales are coming from, but I'll take them!

Second, Bad Faith has somehow been doing well. Once again, a shout-out to the amazing John Ellsworth, who helped me launch it. It's sitting at 8,813 right now, at $2.99, not in KU, and I'm an unknown author in the genre. I'm quite grateful and happy with that - I figured that, once I made it $2.99, the sales would just die and I would end up making it a perma-free once Book Two drops, which is going to be early next month. Guess the algorithms helped out!

Third, I'm taking everyone's advice who told me to put the Harper Ross legal thriller series into KU. I unfortunately cannot put Bad Faith in there, because I stupidly uploaded it to Kobo and put it into the Kobo Plus thing, which means that the book is married to Kobo for six whole months. Dummy me. But every other book from that series is going into KU. I've gotten minimal sales on other platforms - I've gotten some on iTunes, because they featured it, but I think that the series will do much better in KU than wide. At least until I can establish myself.

Fourth, I finally just asked my mailing list why they liked Broken, which is the series that has a good 7x the sell-through rate of my other series. My hunch was right - my readers like the slow-burn, lots-of-emotions-and-little-sex approach. I've tried to force-feed them erotic romance and they weren't having it. They also gave me feedback on why they liked the characters in that book. So, I am going to write some NA, because my base wants that from from me, and I have a better road-map on how to give them what they want.


Wow! This is all great to see, Annie! You go!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 01:19:05 PM
Wow! This is all great to see, Annie! You go!

Thanks Sarah!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Stacy Claflin on March 20, 2017, 02:00:41 PM
I'm so glad to hear it, Annie!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: C. Gockel on March 20, 2017, 02:15:39 PM
Glad to hear things are moving! Hope they continue to improve!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 02:26:19 PM
I'm so glad to hear it, Annie!

Thanks Stacy! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 02:26:55 PM
Glad to hear things are moving! Hope they continue to improve!

Thanks Carolyn! Keeping my fingers crossed! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: sela on March 20, 2017, 03:38:39 PM
Hi, Annie -- I've watched this thread with interest and commiseration. I'm glad you are starting to feel like you are going in the right direction. That's heartening! This thread has been so instructive and constructive. I feel like a lot of what you have experienced is what I have gone through as well. So thanks for posting!

Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: she-la-ti-da on March 20, 2017, 03:40:48 PM
Oh, good news! Hope it keeps going up for you.

I've been told you can get out of that Kobo thing if you give a month's written notice. I'm against that whole six months in thing, though some seem to be over the moon about it (which is odd, seeing how so many complain about Amazon's 90 days).
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Sapphire on March 20, 2017, 03:47:51 PM
Lots of good vibes are coming your way. They must be doing their job. ;)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: MonkishScribe on March 20, 2017, 03:50:46 PM
This is a great thread, not just the OP, but all the thoughtful contributions. I'm in a bit of a down period as well, although I've been very very lucky to have one thing or another prop me up since I started in 2011. And I do mean lucky. Some of those things had little to do with any of my efforts, except that by continuing to produce work I've stayed in the game.

That's my only real piece of wisdom. There are a lot of things out of our control, a number of things that are semi-in our control, but one big thing we can control. That is our output. One thing I realized a few years ago was that I'd never forgive myself if I had to go back looking for a job because I hadn't put in full time hours as a writer.
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 05:06:35 PM
Hi, Annie -- I've watched this thread with interest and commiseration. I'm glad you are starting to feel like you are going in the right direction. That's heartening! This thread has been so instructive and constructive. I feel like a lot of what you have experienced is what I have gone through as well. So thanks for posting!



Thanks Sela! You've been so helpful to everybody on the board. Thanks for the encouraging words!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 05:10:01 PM
Oh, good news! Hope it keeps going up for you.

I've been told you can get out of that Kobo thing if you give a month's written notice. I'm against that whole six months in thing, though some seem to be over the moon about it (which is odd, seeing how so many complain about Amazon's 90 days).

That's so good to know! Unfortunately, Kobo is featuring the book next month in one of their promos, so I think I'm stuck all the way around. That's fine, though. Once the sales start to die down, I'll make it permafree. I might make it permafree anyhow right before the next one drops (April 8). That way I can launch the next one well. I wish I could put it in KU and do some free days with it, so I can page reads, too, but I think I'm stuck. Live and learn! 
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 05:10:49 PM
Lots of good vibes are coming your way. They must be doing their job. ;)

Thanks Sheryl!!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 05:13:26 PM
This is a great thread, not just the OP, but all the thoughtful contributions. I'm in a bit of a down period as well, although I've been very very lucky to have one thing or another prop me up since I started in 2011. And I do mean lucky. Some of those things had little to do with any of my efforts, except that by continuing to produce work I've stayed in the game.

That's my only real piece of wisdom. There are a lot of things out of our control, a number of things that are semi-in our control, but one big thing we can control. That is our output. One thing I realized a few years ago was that I'd never forgive myself if I had to go back looking for a job because I hadn't put in full time hours as a writer.

Oh, I agree. I'm increasing my output by quite a lot. I already have Book Two in my legal thriller series dropping early next month and I plan on getting a shortish (around 70,000 words) NA book out late next month. I've never written this fast before - I usually need at least two months to get something out, and I usually take several weeks off after writing a book. I'm really pushing myself now. I figure that's the only way to get back in the game unless I can get a BookBub or two this year (not holding my breath).
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...and I'd also like to offer a bit of advice.
Post by: Evenstar on March 20, 2017, 05:29:13 PM
I've decided to concentrate on the legal thrillers for now. I committed myself by putting Book Two up for a pre-order, publication date April 8, so there's no turning back now! I'm not sure if that's the right decision - it seems like every decision I make is the wrong one. We'll just have to see! I'm shelving NA romance for now. I do plan on writing ten books this year, but it might be 10 legal thrillers. Writing those comes natural to me. :) Thanks for checking in!

Yay, sounds like you are back on track. Or at least back on one track. That's the beauty of indie, we can swerve when we need to.
I'm doing loads of soul searching and experimenting right now and sometimes I feel lost, and then I get moments of blinding clarity where I know what I need to do and that it's right. It sounds to me like you've had a few of these moments over the last couple of weeks and they really help.

I think the perma-free lead in is a great idea. Don't worry about everyone on the other platforms, you aren't writing for them right now. You have to get your business head on and just see the benefit of having that book wide to price match it. You can always load it up with no indication that there are others in the series and keep the back matter really brief with no links.

And Valerie is so right about romance, it's smart to have a popular niche to be able to make waves in, I'll keep watching with interest. x
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: daringnovelist on March 20, 2017, 06:01:47 PM
Great going!

(I discovered this thread only with your update, so I got the positive ending for it right away...)

I think this thread is inspiring for anyone who is in any kind of slump. I have had to step back from writing for about two years because of family issues, and somehow your original post here, with it's frankness and positivity was very encouraging for me, even if you posted it in need of encouragement yourself. 

Camille
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 07:47:37 PM
Yay, sounds like you are back on track. Or at least back on one track. That's the beauty of indie, we can swerve when we need to.
I'm doing loads of soul searching and experimenting right now and sometimes I feel lost, and then I get moments of blinding clarity where I know what I need to do and that it's right. It sounds to me like you've had a few of these moments over the last couple of weeks and they really help.

I think the perma-free lead in is a great idea. Don't worry about everyone on the other platforms, you aren't writing for them right now. You have to get your business head on and just see the benefit of having that book wide to price match it. You can always load it up with no indication that there are others in the series and keep the back matter really brief with no links.

And Valerie is so right about romance, it's smart to have a popular niche to be able to make waves in, I'll keep watching with interest. x

Thanks Stella! I've already gone back on my idea of only doing legal thrillers. I think I am going to do some NA books too. I now know why my readers like my Broken book, so I have a good road map on how to please them. We'll have to see how this plan goes! Hopefully by this time next year I'll have pulled myself out of my slump and I can make another posting on how I did it! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 07:48:41 PM
Great going!

(I discovered this thread only with your update, so I got the positive ending for it right away...)

I think this thread is inspiring for anyone who is in any kind of slump. I have had to step back from writing for about two years because of family issues, and somehow your original post here, with it's frankness and positivity was very encouraging for me, even if you posted it in need of encouragement yourself. 

Camille

I'm glad I could inspire you!!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Crystal_ on March 20, 2017, 08:07:34 PM
Yay! I hope things keep turning up for you, Annie!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 08:11:25 PM
Yay! I hope things keep turning up for you, Annie!

Thanks Crystal!!!! :) Congrats on doing so well!!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: katygirl on March 20, 2017, 10:12:09 PM
Congratulations Annie!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: anniejocoby on March 20, 2017, 10:42:14 PM
Congratulations Annie!

Thanks Katy! :)
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Evenstar on March 21, 2017, 02:55:46 AM
Thanks Stella! I've already gone back on my idea of only doing legal thrillers. I think I am going to do some NA books too. I now know why my readers like my Broken book, so I have a good road map on how to please them. We'll have to see how this plan goes! Hopefully by this time next year I'll have pulled myself out of my slump and I can make another posting on how I did it! :)

Yes, I'm convinced it's the smart move. Legal thrillers are a popular niche and you have the skills to write them.
Also, it's nice that you have the NA stuff to give you some balance if you feel you need it. It can get draining writing all the same sort of stuff, so you can take a break from Legal (which I think will be your bread and butter) and do something a bit lighter whenever you are getting burned out. I'll definitely be watching for the "one year later" post. I'm about to make one of those myself!!
Title: Re: Looking for some encouragement...Update!
Post by: Susanne123 on April 20, 2017, 08:16:49 AM
Annie, thanks so much for posting. I've read this entire thread in one go, and I'm in awe of the helpful and sincere advice and suggestions you've been given. Best of luck in your new path.

To everyone who posted, many thanks!