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Messages - JessicaPAuthor

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« on: May 23, 2017, 02:27:07 PM »
Absolutely. Hiring an editor has made a world of difference in my writing. My latest release was supposed to be a novella - in the 20-40k range - but after a couple amazing brainstorming sessions with my editor, I was able to turn into a full-length 80k novel (I write contemporary romance). Just be sure to communicate to him/her what your objective is (i.e., add some length to your book for x,y, and z reasons). I've had a lot of luck chatting with my editor on the phone versus just emailing, especially if you plan to brainstorm together. Good luck!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Resurrecting A Dead Series?
« on: May 09, 2017, 02:56:18 PM »
I'm struggling with this EXACT same thing right now. For the past year, I've really focused on perfecting my craft - basically spending all my time writing while trying to squeeze in some marketing and promo stuff on the side. People say to put the books first, so that's what I've been doing.

Now I have three books out (a fourth is coming in June), and I'm super proud of them. I'm definitely a better writer than I was when I started. Readers and reviewers seem to be enjoying them, which is awesome. But they're not selling well. There could be a lot of reasons for this. But I'd like to think it's because I totally suck at promo/marketing/network.

So I decided to take two months off writing to learn the ropes, so to speak. Now I spend my days trolling forums like this, making connections on Facebook, strategizing, writing up marketing plans, etc. Basically I've flip-flopped - I went from spending all my time producing to spending it all on marketing. I figured I couldn't keep writing - I couldn't keep paying editors and cover artists and formatters - if I was never going to sell any books. I'd run out of money!

I really miss writing, and am actually busy brainstorming a new series in my spare time. But my sales didn't have a pulse before when I was writing, so I'm hoping to reverse that by focusing on this marketing stuff. Jury's still out, of course, but I'm hoping to eventually strike a "healthy-ish" balance between writing and marketing. It's definitely an art. Keep your chin up, and keep trying new things!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Effectiveness of blog tours
« on: May 09, 2017, 02:45:26 PM »
I did a blog tour for the release of my first indie romance, SPANISH LESSONS. I hired a tour company that specialized in romance; I think it cost me $150. While I liked the woman I worked with, the return on investment was pretty much zero - a total bust, probably because the bloggers who reviewed my book had very, very small followings. I'd only hire a blog tour company if I knew they had solid relationships with bigger blogs (meaning they have large followings and influence within the genre).

For my following books, I had a lot more success reaching out to blogs on my own. I'm constantly experimenting with new strategies, but I've built up a (small) list of dedicated, supportive bloggers, and I'm working on establishing relationships with some of the giants in my genre. For my latest launch (the fourth book in the same series - out June 2), I've hired a PA to help me create inroads with new blogs. We'll see how it goes. But I definitely wouldn't shell out money to a blog tour coordinator again. It takes a lot of time to discover and reach out to blogs on your own, but I've found it's definitely worth it. Hope this helps.

It's incredibly difficult to get an agent, whether you're self-published or not.

That being said, if your friend decides to self-publish and she goes on to have "extraordinary success" - as RBN pointed out - then she probably won't have much trouble at all finding an agent. But for an indie author to garner agent attention, she/he really does have to be extraordinary. We're talking authors that have built massive platforms, usually over years and across several series of books, with dedicated readerships/audiences that buy their books by the tens of thousands. Is it possible to have that kind of success as an indie author? Absolutely. But it's very, very rare. The amount of work it takes to build a platform like that - never mind write the books! - is incredible. You have to be in it for the long haul to get there.

At the end of the day, it's tough to make it as an author, whether you're indie or traditional, agented or not. I've been on both sides of the fence, and my biggest regret is not working on building my readership right off the bat. Your friend can't start doing that too soon. Marketing and promotion are entirely different skills versus writing a book; they're skills you can't ignore if you want to sell books.

I know Kristin Nelson is an agent that represents a slew of indie authors. Tell your friend to check out her website and blog. They're fantastic resources. Hope that helps!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Downsides of a long preorder?
« on: April 27, 2017, 05:59:28 AM »
I'm about to launch the fourth book in my current NA romance series, so I've done a good bit of experimenting with launch strategies. Because I'm so new - and my readership is so small - I think having a shortish pre-order period has overall been a good idea. It gives me buy links to promote (I run Facebook ads starting about two months out), plus it gives me a chance to get the cover and blurb in front of readers and reviewers. I run a $.99 launch sale and keep the price there for the first week after launch. My budget is bigger for this launch, so I'm really going to push the FB ads and maybe hire an assistant to help me target some reader groups on Facebook. The better numbers I'm seeing definitely could be on account of the fact I've gotten MUCH better at targeting those ads. But I'd like to think the pre-order helps drum up excitement and gains my series as a whole more visibility. I didn't do any kind of pre-order for the first two books, and the launches for those fell completely flat.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Critique my blurb please? [Romance]
« on: February 13, 2017, 02:21:57 PM »
Really appreciate all feedback (on both blurbs). Unfortunately, I just realized I included a pretty big spoiler in the rewrite. 

How do you like this rewrite? (TIA!)

Additional question on the alternative blurb, if I may... is it clear that the story isn't about a menage? (This story is just M/F not MFM.)

Once upon a time...

Except, gritty, hard-nosed newspaper stories don't start out that way.  It's cold, hard facts all the way, all the time...

Too bad all the way was exactly where I had gone with all-star bad boy, Lennox Hardy.  It was only supposed to be a brief time-out, a moment to catch my breath in my driving scramble to live up to Ma's dreams and expectations.  College.  Career.  Pulitzer.  Instead of catching my breath, though, the sexy quarterback takes my breath away...and leaves me with a parting in nine months.

Too bad he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

It's double-trouble when I discover Lennox has an identical twin.  One who's not above pretending to be his red-hot jock brother, just to get a piece of ass.  But, Logan Masten is no team player.  The budding politician has his own playbook...and he plays dirty.  Really dirty.

Lennox is used to cleaning up Logan's messes...and when that includes me, my inner newshound howls. I make a play of my own and agree to move in with Lennox and pretend my baby is actually expose the secret of the brothers' past and why Lennox is so hell bent on protecting his sibling.

But, what do I do when the only thing I seem to be exposing is how hard I'm falling for him?

Is there any way to turn this mess into a happily ever after?

Ah! Just saw this last version. Here's how I'd play it - you've got some really great stuff here (like, I really want to read this book!), but it is a tad long. Maybe try something in between the two versions. I'd also put a disclaimer at the end of the blurb telling readers it's not menage.

Sex and spice, and everything cold as ice.  That's what football star Lennox Hardy is made of. 

At least, those are the cold, hard facts I discover when one night of indiscretion reads like a tabloid headline and I get knocked up by the womanizing bad boy and Sacramento Cougars' quarterback...

...and he can't even remember me.

It's double-trouble when I discover Lennox has an identical twin.  One who's not above pretending to be his red-hot jock brother, just to get a piece of ass.  But Logan Masten is no team player.  The budding politician has his own playbook, and he plays dirty.

Really dirty.

Lennox is used to cleaning up Logan's messes...and when that includes me, my inner newshound howls. To investigate the secrets I know the Masten brothers are hiding, I make a play of my own and agree to move in with Lennox and pretend my baby is actually his.

But when the only investigating I do happens with our clothes off, I know my plan has gone seriously awry...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Critique my blurb please? [Romance]
« on: February 13, 2017, 02:08:46 PM »
Diane, thanks so much for your amazing rewrite and suggestions! It means a lot! I'll have a think on them and incorporate them in my revision.

Any thoughts on this alternative blurb?

Sex and spice, and everything cold as ice.  That's what Lennox Hardy is made of. 

At least, those are the cold hard facts I discover when one night of indiscretion reads like a tabloid headline and I get knocked up by the womanizing bad boy and Sacramento Cougars' quarterback...

...and he can't even remember me.

It's the story of a lifetime when I become wedged between identical twins with a shady past and an even shadier future as one brother plots and the other fights to gain control over a consuming rage. 

The real story is...will love consume us first?

LOVE this new iteration. Tighter, sexier, and clearer. Clever, too. For the last bit, I'd include some sort of "twist".  As in: "It's the twist of a lifetime when I learn Lennox has a twin brother with a shady past - and a penchant for impersonating his famous twin to land some ass..." Something like that. But overall, very well done!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Ideas on Starting an ARC Group?
« on: February 06, 2017, 02:53:21 PM »
I've done similar things to what others have listed above - for my last release, I sent out a "readers wanted" email to my mailing list, and was pleasantly surprised by how many people replied to volunteer to read and review an ARC. I think about 15 people replied, and I got a handful of actual reviews. While the turnout wasn't amazing, I felt like I was making friends with readers. And the reviews I DID get were glowing. So I'd definitely try that.

I've also reached out to bloggers in the romance community for each of my three releases. I like their Facebook pages, comment on their posts, and generally make sure I engage with them often, especially if they review my books or share my sales, promos, etc. One awesome blogger then invited me into a Facebook Group she started with a bunch of readers who try out new authors. I've contacted her about having readers review the ARC for my next book, and she was super excited about the idea; we're hoping to distribute as many copies as we can to the readers in that group when we have a finished ARC. Such an amazing, and random, opportunity! If you write romance, the group is Quirky Blind Date With a Book - worth checking out for sure.

You never know when opportunities like that come up. So keep engaging with your community, keep reaching out, keep networking. Hope that helps!

I agree that everyone has their own way of writing a novel. Before I started writing professionally - really, before I knew anything! - I used to believe that I was a decent writer.  You know, that my drafts were pretty good and that maybe they'd need some light editing before they were publishable, but overall, they were ready to go.

HA! Five years in, and I recognize how naive I was back then. I'm a total panster, meaning I don't do much in the way of plotting before I begin a book, so I sort of write by the seat of my pants.  Maybe this is different for you plotters out there, but this usually means my first drafts are a hot mess.  HOWEVER - I didn't recognize they were a hot mess until I started working with professional agents and editors. Now editing/revising is an ESSENTIAL part of my writing process.  I agree with Sarah Maclean - she said something recently along the lines of all the good stuff in her books comes from revisions.  That's exactly how it works for me.  If I want to write a really great book, I have to work really hard on revisions.  By the time I'm done with a book, I'm way too close to the story to see if it actually works on a structural and emotional level.  I need my editor to help me with that, big time.

So I guess my advice to you would be - before you decide whether or not to do revisions, invest in a great edit by a professional and reputable editor in your genre. My editor changed my writing, and my life, and I have a feeling one will do the same for you, too.  Good luck!

Writers' Cafe / Re: awesome isn't awesome anymore
« on: January 23, 2017, 02:47:23 PM »
I've been struggling a bit with the freebie thing as well lately. I feel like I've been knocked over the head with the advice to make the first book in a series free.  So, in keeping with that advice, I've been offering a free copy of book #1 in my STUDY ABROAD series in exchange for signing up for my newsletter (I've been advertising via FB ads). While I've had a lot of sign ups, I haven't seen the sell through I thought I would.  I work really, really hard to make sure my books are the best they can possibly be, and I do have a core group of fans who love my work.  But that amazing sell through I keep hearing about just isn't happening for me.  Not to imply that my books aren't to blame, but I wonder if readers actually *read* free books.  BookBub stats tell us they do, but there are just so.damn.many books being offered for free out there these days (especially in romance), I wonder if that's true.  As a romance reader myself, my TBR pile on my Kindle is a mile long. There's no way I'll be able to read everything I have on there!

So I guess the question is - in the midst of this whirlwind of free books, how do you make yours stand out?  I try to see to the things I can control - writing great books, networking, advertising, getting reviews - but then there's that luck factor I just have zero control over.  Frustrating, yes, but I hope if I keep working on my craft, keep experimenting with marketing stuff, and keep making friends in the romance community, it will eventually pan out. Fingers crossed!

Just submitted my book - thanks for putting this together!

I DID submit book #2 in my series, but only because book #1 is permafree (they can definitely be read as standalones). If you're up for including free books, I'll happily change my submission to book #1...wasn't sure which would be a better fit. Thanks again!

Writers' Cafe / Re: How long are your chapters?
« on: January 19, 2017, 02:22:38 PM »
I write contemporary romance, so this may not apply to your genre - but I try to keep chapters at around 10 or so pages. Usually about 2,000 words. It works out nicely, I think, because it seems I'm ready to drop a hook right around that 2,000 word mark anyway. Which means my chapters (fingers crossed) usually end with a nice hook.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Giving It Up - Pre and Launch
« on: January 19, 2017, 02:20:38 PM »
Thanks, as always, for the information you're providing, Holly. Hugely helpful! Another question for you - it seems like you're doing a lot of newsletter swaps. Have you found that your mailing list is getting fatigued/you're having a lot of people unsubscribe? Like I said before, I've worked hard to build my mailing list, and I'm a little terrified of turning my subscribers off with too many emails; right now I probably send one newsletter out a month. Just curious - thanks!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Giving It Up - Pre and Launch
« on: January 12, 2017, 05:11:45 AM »
Awesome - thank you very much for sharing as much as you did. I especially think the idea of really getting involved in the romance community is important. I've done the same in various Facebook reader groups; I came to this genre as a reader first, so not only is it fun, but like you said, I also get to meet potential new readers for my books! I've hesitated setting up my own street team/FB reader group, thinking I didn't have enough readers, but now I'm second guessing that decision. I suppose it's never too early to get that started...all those shares and word of mouth are priceless!

I'd also love to hear how the newsletter swap goes. I've never tried one, but I've been working on building my mailing list for the past couple months and I'd love to try one out.

Thanks again for all the info you've shared. I downloaded my copy of GIVING IT UP last night and hope to get to it this weekend. Congrats!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Giving It Up - Pre and Launch
« on: January 11, 2017, 02:51:29 PM »
Wow - just checked to see how your book is doing, and you are ROCKING IT! Congrats, girl. Going to pick up a copy myself to check out GIVING IT UP!

So I also write New Adult romance, and I'm also a newbie author in the genre. I wonder what you did on release day to get your ranking where it is? I've also reached out to bloggers - I can so feel you on those 16-hour days sending emails - but haven't had the success you obviously have. Any tips to share in getting a positive response? As a new name, I feel like I get passed over quite a bit. I just released the third book in my STUDY ABROAD series a couple weeks ago, and while the launch was the best I've had to date, it was still seriously underwhelming.

How did you target your Facebook ads? I'm running a few right now, and I've had the most success targeting "Reading on my Kindle" plus "contemporary romance" and a few NA authors (Colleen Hoover, etc.). Any advice you can share would be awesome. Thanks!


I have so been there, and am actually pretty much there right now as I slog through the last 20k words of my latest WIP.  With every book I write - and I've written a lot of books! - I always get to a point where I am CONVINCED the book sucks, I suck, the concept sucks, I should just burn my computer and give up for good. 

I think it's inevitable to feel that way about taking on a huge, lonely, often boring task like writing a whole freaking book.  But it's so important to stick with it and, most importantly, FINISH IT!  I've given up halfway through a book or two, again when I was convinced it just totally sucked and I needed to work on something else.  And you know what?  Now when I go back and read those projects so many months or years later, I really regret not finishing them.  If I had just had a little more faith, those books could've been awesome - and they could be making me money instead of languishing half-finished on my computer!

I've learned to keep writing through the doubt and the boredom.  Some days it really does take blind, almost stupid faith to make my word count because I want to quit so badly.  But I keep going, and I am always, always glad I do.  It's hard, but it makes finishing a book that much sweeter.

Writers' Cafe / Re: So I want to write NA
« on: April 25, 2016, 05:45:28 PM »
I also write NA (Study Abroad romance) and agree with everything Crystal says.  There's a strong "coming of age" element in NA (which could work beautifully in terms of character arcs/conflict!), and sex is definitely allowed...and, in my humble opinion, encouraged!  I draw a lot of inspiration from my own time in college - how I felt, what I cared about, what I wanted, who I wanted.  I think of NA almost as a sub-genre of contemporary romance, and I've had some success marketing my books to both NA and contemporary audiences.

There are some NA authors who are totally killing it right now.  I suggest you read the OFF CAMPUS series by Elle Kennedy and anything Kristen Callahan.  Courtney Milan also writes amazing NA; Monica Murphy, Jen Frederick, and Cora Carmack are also worth checking out.  It goes without saying that reading these authors and checking out reviews of their books, interviews with them, any podcasts or blog posts they do on their process/marketing/etc. is HUGELY helpful.

I feel like genres/tropes are constantly cycling in and out of fashion in romance.  But if you write a really great book, readers will love it - whether it's about college kids or vampires.

CM, thanks! I'll definitely give another update when I launch book 2...

Jessica, I definitely hear you on the struggle/comparisons with others but then...that doesn't feel any different from traditional publishing either!

I might do Wattpad at some point but I have heard very few people say that Wattpad fans converted to buyers. Many more seem to say it's fun and the readers are great but they don't really buy books. I still may try it because I wonder if it might still be beneficial to build up those readers anyway over the long-term, and if it's fun, why not, but then, one has to weigh how much of a time waster it would be...

I will probably try free at some point but obviously I want more books out first. I was thinking of doing .99 promos first because it seems like it would be easier to promo it as 99 cents, and then go to free later, whereas with free you've already gone as low as you can go? But it is all an experiment, isn't it? I'll read what worked for one person and think "Oh, I'll do that" and then the next post will be someone who tried the same thing and it didn't work. It's kind of the fun and the agony of it all...

I've also heard the same thing about you said, everyone seems to have a different opinion/experience.  It's always great to connect with new readers, but I agree with whomever said "authors don't want to be read, they want to be PAID to be read".  I'm still doing some research around that, but all of my books cost so much to produce - editing alone will run me over $1000, and I don't think I could unleash an unedited book of mine out into the wild! - at some point I can't keep giving stuff away for free.  So we'll see.  I'll definitely let you know what I decide!

And agreed on the pricing too.  My numbers for book #1 (FREE) are great, but I haven't seen the trickle down to book #2 yet.  Again, all an experiment, but I guess it's important at this point to focus on the long-term game.  Newsletter sign ups, finding new readers, reaching out to bloggers...hopefully it will pay off someday!

Thanks again for sharing, and best of luck!

Hi all!

My name is Jessica Peterson, and I write contemporary New Adult romance.  I have a historical romance series that has been traditionally published by Berkley/Penguin, but I went indie with my New Adult romances.  I published the first book in my STUDY ABROAD series, SPANISH LESSONS (Study Abroad #1) in January, and released book #2, LESSONS IN GRAVITY, in March.  While I know I am really, really new to the indie game, I've already learned a lot.  I wish I had known all this stuff when I first started, so I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks on my blog for those of you kicking around the possibility of self-publishing your novel.  I talk craft, edits, websites, newsletters, and talk quite a bit about what has and hasn't worked for me so far marketing/promoting my books.  Here's the link to the blog post - happy reading!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Make It Free
« on: April 13, 2016, 11:17:16 AM »
Thank you all for your help in reporting SPANISH LESSONS!  So appreciate it.

So I actually reached out to Amazon via the KDP "contact us" button a few days ago.  Instead of just asking them to "make my book free/price match", I turned my email into a pitch.  I write New Adult romance, and am working on a STUDY ABROAD series.  SPANISH LESSONS is the first book in that series; I recently released book #2, LESSONS IN GRAVITY, which I have priced at $3.99 on all platforms.  Essentially I told Amazon that making book #1 FREE was part of my marketing strategy to entice readers to purchase the rest of the series.  I.e., I'm hoping that readers who get book #1 for free will like it enough to buy book #2.  Amazon got back to me pretty quickly and dropped the price for SPANISH LESSONS to $0.00 with absolutely no hassle.

SO...if you're struggling to get Amazon to price match, and you are writing a series or have multiple books to offer, it might be worth giving something similar a shot.  Hope that helps!

Thanks for sharing - I love this post.  I also jumped from traditional to indie publishing, and I also have never been happier in my writing career.  It's so liberating to write what you want when you want; I've also found a really, really amazing freelance editor who has turned my writing, and hopefully my career!, around.  That being said, the indie learning curve is steep.  I also struggle with the feeling that I'm always behind/I suck/my writing sucks when I hear about all these huge indie success stories that seem to be happening on the regular around me.  Tough to keep my eyes on the prize and grow my own career/readership.

I wonder as a YA author if you've considered posting to Wattpad?  I have a YA romance I wrote years ago that was pitched to publishers but never got picked up, and I'm wondering if it might be worth putting it up for free to get some traction with younger readers.

I'm also writing a series - but in New Adult - and so far I have two books out and am currently working on the third.  I priced the first book at 3.99, then 1.99, and sold maybe 50 copies?  I just made it free and saw my numbers skyrocket.  I'm hoping that readers who pick the first book in the series up for free will be enticed to pick up book #2, which I have for sale at $3.99.  At this point, it's all an experiment...

Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!

Writers' Cafe / Re: The new KU, who's doing well?
« on: April 11, 2016, 06:29:52 AM »
After my BB (plus $200/day in Facebook ads), I had a few 300k days. My usual, pre BB and pre Facebook ads was more like 40-80k/day, more with promos and new releases.

Right now, I am spending four figures a month on Facebook ads. They are doing well but it's really nerve-racking spending so much when I can't measure the ROI exactly-- you can't track borrows with affiliate links, so you have to guesstimate them.

I write NA romance/erom, one pen name. I have eight books-- a dud trilogy that makes less than $100/month per book, two billionaire serial box sets that are sorta a series, and three books in a rock star romance series (the bubbed series, fourth to come, still trying to figure out how to add a fifth).

Borrows are about 2/3 of my income.

On average, I publish every two months. My books are 70-85k.

I also write New Adult romance, and I'm curious what worked for you in terms of Facebook ads.  Right now I'm experimenting with target audiences, and I can't seem to get my "per click" cost under .55 - which seems a little steep, no?  I haven't tried KU yet, either...but I'm really spinning my wheels, marketing wise, so I'm up for trying anything at this point.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Make It Free
« on: April 11, 2016, 06:12:03 AM »

Thank you - very much appreciate the help!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Make It Free
« on: April 11, 2016, 06:11:22 AM »
Reported Spanish Lessons.

Awesome - thank you!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Make It Free
« on: April 10, 2016, 08:29:22 AM »
Hi, and hope you can help. I recently published 2 short stories from my series free via Smashwords. However, when I asked Amazon to please reduce the price they said no. I've even attempted to report the lower price from the book page, but with no luck.

If any of you have any time to help and report the lower price for 1 of these, it would be much appreciated

Midge You Were Here
Amazon link(s)






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