Over-Ambitious Writing Goals for 2019

About a month ago, I was completely frustrated with writing.

I had 8 published books and none of them are super-sellers. Don’t get me wrong–I love writing! But when one is super excited about a new release and nobody else is, it’s kind of disheartening.

I had thought I wasn’t advertising the books right. I had tried everything from Newsletter swaps, paid newsletter advertising, AMS, Facebook Ads, Bookbub Ads, Free days, countdown days, raising the prices, lowering the prices, and (attempting) to be a social media guru…but they just never took off. The bottom line: I’m no good at marketing.

But I began to read other authors success stories and many of them weren’t advertising at all or doing the same things I was. The key, it appears, is writing a book readers want to read. Ha, so simple, huh? Another theme was rapid releasing, but we’ll get to that topic in the future.

I purchased a book, “Write to Market,” that helped me go through the current trends and come up with a few genres that appear to be hot…or at least hotter than pregnant fairy godmothers and clones. I came up with a handful of ideas, but didn’t know which way to go next.

So, I threw my ideas at my mailing list subscribers and asked for their input. After all, they’re my biggest fans.

And now, I went from completely frustrated about what to do next, to super excited with the ideas I have for 2019.

So excited that I want to write more books than I think is possible!

But it doesn’t matter. I prefer to set stretch goals. Reach for the stars and be happy when you land on Saturn.

2019 Writing Calendar_ Stretch Goals or Impossible Dream_

So…my plan for 2019 is to write four new series! (I know, you’re going to think I’m crazy! Especially since I’m not a full-time writer and help manage our family zoo (literal zoo with wolves, bears, and other critters.) Note: our zoo is closed for the season from January through April. My responsibilities there decrease tremendously, so this gives me lots of time to write.

The series I’m most excited to write are first in the year, so if things get pushed back or my attention turns to something else, I’ve (hopefully) gotten to my favorite stories.

January: Write a YA Witch Trilogy (Yes, a trilogy in a month! I am crazy! Watch for my blog about this in January. Just a note: I’ve been writing using springs. I do five 25 minute sprints per day and write 5000 words…so a trilogy of 50k books would take me 30 days if I wrote every day. It’s not so out of reach.)

February: Edit & write a Sci-Fi Alien Apocalyptic Adventure Novella for a box set I’m in. Go on vacation! 🙂

March: Write a new Sci-Fi Alien Apocalyptic Adventure Trilogy. (Yeah, CRAZY! Another trilogy in a month.)

April-May: Write a novella and three books in a new Paranormal/Witch Cozy Mystery series.

June-September: Write 3-4 books in a new Futuristic Time Travel Romance series.

October-December: Write 3 books in a new Paranormal/Alien Cozy Mystery series.

Yeah, I’m a bit heavy on the sci-fi this year, so the end of the year may change, but knowing where I’m heading helps me plot things out in my spare time and keep me excited about what 2019 will bring!

Side note: In 2019 I plan on doing more blogging. I have some good topics I can’t wait to share.

Have you planned 2019 yet? Please share what your major goal is. I’d love to hear!

Created for Christmas – Novella Update

Throughout this month (October) I shared my Christmas Novella: Created for Christmas. As of November 1st, I had to take it down to prevent being in violation of my contract with Amazon. (The story publishes November 15th.)

Thank you all for your support! If you didn’t get finished reading the story, you can grab a copy HERE. Also, for new arrivals, the first chapter is posted below.

But, I have some exciting news for all of you who read it! I had many people interested in Ivory and Ethan’s story, so I’m in the process of writing Validated by Valentine’s. It’s up on Amazon now and you can pre-order HERE it if you like.

Sweet Little Holiday Romance Series

 

Created for Christmas:

December 5th: Twenty-Two Days until Christmas

Chapter 1

In the tiny Dream Droids’ waiting room, my hands fiddled with the hem of my skirt. After two years of contemplating an artificial companion, I gathered the nerve and gave myself a Christmas present.

The door opened on the far corner, and a thin man with dark rimmed glasses and light brown hair stuck his head out. His ice-blue eyes caught mine, causing my heart to pick up speed. “Ivy Weldon?” he asked.

I dropped the hem of my skirt and grabbed the bag containing my dad’s Christmas gift that rested beside my chair. I had swung by the comic bookstore next door before this meeting, not expecting to find the perfect present. I slung the bag’s handle over my arm, smoothed out my skirt with the other hand, and crossed the room, trying to ensure I looked presentable. “Yeah, that’s me. Are you Dr. Pierce?”

He nodded and greeted me with a soft, warm handshake. “You can call me Dayton. I prefer the more informal.” When our hands parted, he shoved his into his lab coat pocket.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” I stepped through the door Dayton held open into a brightly lit hallway.

Dayton and I had been emailing back and forth and talking on the phone for over a month now. He had patiently explained the process of creating a humanoid to me. I was almost as excited to meet him as I was to create my Dream Droid.

“You’re much younger than I expected,” I said.

He laughed. “I must have an old-sounding voice. I get that a lot.” His voice was deep, but didn’t sound old.

“It’s just that you were so knowledgeable of the process and great at explaining it to me. It was nice. If it wasn’t for you, I may have given up on this concept.”

“Thank you. It means I’m doing my job well. Dream Droids pays me to put you at ease. You’re younger than I expected, too. I mean, people making a Dream Droid are usually a little older.”

“I’m older than I look. I’m in my upper thirties.”

He laughed. “I doubt that.”

“Okay, thirty-six, but it’s beyond my prime.”

I caught a smile on his face when he glanced over his shoulder while leading me down the hallway. “You never told me what brings you to Dream Droids. I know you want a companion, obviously, but we still haven’t touched on the specifics, and don’t tell me it’s because you’re past your prime.”

My cheeks heated. We never discussed the specifics because I had deliberately avoided pouring my heart out to a man I had just met. I looked around to see who was listening, and lowered my voice, searching for the words. “I guess I’m just tired of being alone. Even with my dog Sharky at home, the house still feels empty.” That wasn’t the whole story, but hopefully it was enough.

Dayton’s words were way too loud. “Are you looking for a short-term or long-term companion?”

“Long-term, of course!” Why would anyone go to this extreme for something short-term?

Dayton opened the last door in the hallway and held it open for me. As I stepped inside a room twice the size of my bedroom, he pointed to a pair of comfortable-looking brown leather chairs sitting around a TV screen that monopolized one wall. I took a seat, setting Dad’s present beside me, and Dayton picked up a wireless keyboard from a table between the two chairs.

After Dayton settled in the leather armchair closest to me, the room filled with the soft clicking of keys and the TV came to life, flashing through a series of digital paperwork. “We need to fill out a series of forms that will be used to create your humanoid’s programming. This data will control everything about him, from his baseline knowledge, his physical appearance, personality, and even what information he innately knows about you. From our conversations on the phone, I’ve already filled out about half of them, but Dream Droids likes to meet our clients in person to complete the more critical information. Are you ready to get started?”

I took a deep breath and nodded.

“First off, I need to know why do you really want a droid?”

“I already said I’m looking for companionship. Someone to occupy my home with. Someone I can talk to when nobody else is around.”

“Yes, that’s why you want a droid, but maybe I should rephrase the question. Why are you choosing a droid over a human? Remember, I need the whole truth to truly create a Dream Droid.”

I sucked in my bottom lip, then blew out a breath. I felt raw admitting these words, but I let them be spoken for the first time out loud. “Because I’ve already loved once in my life. I don’t need to do it again.” As an image of Niles, my ex-fiancé filled my mind, my eyes flooded with tears. It was like I was right back there, a few Christmases ago, and he was leaving me once again.

“Many people love more than one person in a lifetime.” He tilted his head at me, and I tried to school my face. “You’re afraid of something…afraid to get your heart broken?”

My tears dried as quickly as they came. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t need to do it again. Why subject yourself to that kind of pain?” But his words stirred something inside. Was that fear? Was I a coward? I had loved Niles for nearly ten years, but three years ago, he stomped on my heart without warning, leaving me for a coworker who was carrying his child. At the time, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than a week, and I never want to feel that again. “A droid just seems less…complicated.”

Dayton nodded and typed non-human companionship into the form. When he was done, he balanced the keyboard on his armrest and leaned his forearms on his thighs. “I need to make sure you’re clear about something. A droid will never love you. They’re hard-programmed against that sentiment.”

“That’s perfect. I don’t need love. I’ve already had love once in my life and it wasn’t fun.” I fumbled with the hem of my skirt again. “Besides, I have love. Lots of love. My family is amazing and supports me with everything I do. I have five siblings.”

“Five?” Dayton laughed. “That must be a handful! When I was younger, I was happy that I was an only child since I didn’t have to share Mom and Dad’s attention with anyone. Now that they’re gone, I wished I had a big family.” He smiled awkwardly, then looked away. “I shouldn’t share this. Go on about love not being fun.” There was almost a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Not the mean kind, but the sweet, teasing type. Like you do with a long-time friend.

“I didn’t mean love wasn’t fun. I just meant the end wasn’t fun.” I shook my head. Making a humanoid wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. It appeared that I was going to have to face my deepest, hidden emotions to get my droid companion, but I was tired of being lonely. “I did have fun with Niles…and loved him with all my heart…he just didn’t seem to love me the same way.”

Dayton nodded, then turned back towards the computer screen. “I have some gaps in the earlier forms we need to fill in. Some basics, like what is your favorite color?”

I rattled off answers to about a hundred questions before Dayton clicked around on a collection of forms and finally hit Save.

“Very good,” he said. “We’re done for today.”

“That’s it?” A kaleidoscope of butterflies filled my stomach. We were one step closer to my loyal companion that would never leave me. One that would go with me to my family events so I didn’t have to go alone. One that would be waiting for me at home every day after I finish with clients at my accounting firm. I couldn’t wait.

“Our hour’s up and that’s it for today. We need to meet once a week for the next three weeks to finish the build.”

“Three more meetings? I was hoping to have him soon.” Like by tomorrow for my family’s Parade of Presents tradition, but on the bright side, I’d see Dayton a few more times before this was over.

“We just finished the basic information and still need to create the complexities that will make him seem human. Next week, we’ll go over physical appearance. The following will be personality, then at the last meeting, we’ll bring him to life…so three more meetings. You’ll still have him in time for Christmas.” Dayton looked down at the gift I purchased for Dad. “Sorry, I couldn’t help getting a glimpse inside your bag, but is that a vintage Spider-Man action figure?”

I pulled out the vintage toy. “Yeah. It’s a gift for my dad. I figured since Dream Droids is right next to AmaZing Comics, I’d check it out for a perfect Christmas present. See, when I was a child, I used to watch the Spider-Man cartoon with my father. It was the only bit of TV he had time to watch. I loved…well, I still love Spider-Man and so does Dad! He’s going to love this!”

“Can I see it?” Dayton cautiously reached out.

“Sure.” I proudly handed the package over.

Dayton fondled the package as if it was made of delicate glass, turning it over in his hands. “I always check out the Spider-Man table at Comic-Con.”

“Comic-Con?”

“Don’t tell me that you haven’t heard of Comic-Con? It’s where all lovers of fantasy and superheroes get together and share their passion. There’s one going on this weekend downtown. It starts Friday night. You should check it out. It can be a little odd and overwhelming, but they have lots of stuff like this for sale. Usually for a good deal, too.” He lifted the Spider-Man action figure up, turned it over one last time, then slipped it back into the bag.

“Hmm. As tempting as it is, I don’t need to go,” I smiled, taking the bag back from Dayton. “I already have the perfect gift.” Part of me wanted to get to know Dayton a little better, but he didn’t exactly offer to take me to Comic-Con. Besides, I didn’t need the distraction. I had lots of family Christmas festivities in the next few weeks, end of the year tax documents to begin at work, and what purpose did it have? I was committed to my no more men mantra.

A sweet smile emerged on his lips. “Well, if you’re bored, it’s quite a sight to see.” His eyes glistened in a way that made me want to share the joy that he felt towards Comic-Con

Dayton stood. “I really need to get to my next appointment. I’ll see you next week.”

Next week. I took a deep breath and nodded, certain that this was going to be the longest month of my life as I waited in anticipation for my Dream Droid.

Grab the entire story HERE.

 

Created for Christmas – A Blog Serial Novella

Throughout this month (October) I shared my Christmas Novella: Created for Christmas. As of November 1st, I had to take it down to prevent being in violation of my contract with Amazon. (The story publishes November 15th.)

Thank you all for your support! If you didn’t get finished reading the story, you can grab a copy HERE. Also, for new arrivals, the first chapter is posted below.

Here’s the blurb:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentiment humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

A Serial Novella (1)

December 5th: Twenty-Two Days until Christmas

Chapter 1

In the tiny Dream Droids’ waiting room, my hands fiddled with the hem of my skirt. After two years of contemplating an artificial companion, I gathered the nerve and gave myself a Christmas present.

The door opened on the far corner, and a thin man with dark rimmed glasses and light brown hair stuck his head out. His ice-blue eyes caught mine, causing my heart to pick up speed. “Ivy Weldon?” he asked.

I dropped the hem of my skirt and grabbed the bag containing my dad’s Christmas gift that rested beside my chair. I had swung by the comic bookstore next door before this meeting, not expecting to find the perfect present. I slung the bag’s handle over my arm, smoothed out my skirt with the other hand, and crossed the room, trying to ensure I looked presentable. “Yeah, that’s me. Are you Dr. Pierce?”

He nodded and greeted me with a soft, warm handshake. “You can call me Dayton. I prefer the more informal.” When our hands parted, he shoved his into his lab coat pocket.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” I stepped through the door Dayton held open into a brightly lit hallway.

Dayton and I had been emailing back and forth and talking on the phone for over a month now. He had patiently explained the process of creating a humanoid to me. I was almost as excited to meet him as I was to create my Dream Droid.

“You’re much younger than I expected,” I said.

He laughed. “I must have an old-sounding voice. I get that a lot.” His voice was deep, but didn’t sound old.

“It’s just that you were so knowledgeable of the process and great at explaining it to me. It was nice. If it wasn’t for you, I may have given up on this concept.”

“Thank you. It means I’m doing my job well. Dream Droids pays me to put you at ease. You’re younger than I expected, too. I mean, people making a Dream Droid are usually a little older.”

“I’m older than I look. I’m in my upper thirties.”

He laughed. “I doubt that.”

“Okay, thirty-six, but it’s beyond my prime.”

I caught a smile on his face when he glanced over his shoulder while leading me down the hallway. “You never told me what brings you to Dream Droids. I know you want a companion, obviously, but we still haven’t touched on the specifics, and don’t tell me it’s because you’re past your prime.”

My cheeks heated. We never discussed the specifics because I had deliberately avoided pouring my heart out to a man I had just met. I looked around to see who was listening, and lowered my voice, searching for the words. “I guess I’m just tired of being alone. Even with my dog Sharky at home, the house still feels empty.” That wasn’t the whole story, but hopefully it was enough.

Dayton’s words were way too loud. “Are you looking for a short-term or long-term companion?”

“Long-term, of course!” Why would anyone go to this extreme for something short-term?

Dayton opened the last door in the hallway and held it open for me. As I stepped inside a room twice the size of my bedroom, he pointed to a pair of comfortable-looking brown leather chairs sitting around a TV screen that monopolized one wall. I took a seat, setting Dad’s present beside me, and Dayton picked up a wireless keyboard from a table between the two chairs.

After Dayton settled in the leather armchair closest to me, the room filled with the soft clicking of keys and the TV came to life, flashing through a series of digital paperwork. “We need to fill out a series of forms that will be used to create your humanoid’s programming. This data will control everything about him, from his baseline knowledge, his physical appearance, personality, and even what information he innately knows about you. From our conversations on the phone, I’ve already filled out about half of them, but Dream Droids likes to meet our clients in person to complete the more critical information. Are you ready to get started?”

I took a deep breath and nodded.

“First off, I need to know why do you really want a droid?”

“I already said I’m looking for companionship. Someone to occupy my home with. Someone I can talk to when nobody else is around.”

“Yes, that’s why you want a droid, but maybe I should rephrase the question. Why are you choosing a droid over a human? Remember, I need the whole truth to truly create a Dream Droid.”

I sucked in my bottom lip, then blew out a breath. I felt raw admitting these words, but I let them be spoken for the first time out loud. “Because I’ve already loved once in my life. I don’t need to do it again.” As an image of Niles, my ex-fiancé filled my mind, my eyes flooded with tears. It was like I was right back there, a few Christmases ago, and he was leaving me once again.

“Many people love more than one person in a lifetime.” He tilted his head at me, and I tried to school my face. “You’re afraid of something…afraid to get your heart broken?”

My tears dried as quickly as they came. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t need to do it again. Why subject yourself to that kind of pain?” But his words stirred something inside. Was that fear? Was I a coward? I had loved Niles for nearly ten years, but three years ago, he stomped on my heart without warning, leaving me for a coworker who was carrying his child. At the time, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than a week, and I never want to feel that again. “A droid just seems less…complicated.”

Dayton nodded and typed non-human companionship into the form. When he was done, he balanced the keyboard on his armrest and leaned his forearms on his thighs. “I need to make sure you’re clear about something. A droid will never love you. They’re hard-programmed against that sentiment.”

“That’s perfect. I don’t need love. I’ve already had love once in my life and it wasn’t fun.” I fumbled with the hem of my skirt again. “Besides, I have love. Lots of love. My family is amazing and supports me with everything I do. I have five siblings.”

“Five?” Dayton laughed. “That must be a handful! When I was younger, I was happy that I was an only child since I didn’t have to share Mom and Dad’s attention with anyone. Now that they’re gone, I wished I had a big family.” He smiled awkwardly, then looked away. “I shouldn’t share this. Go on about love not being fun.” There was almost a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Not the mean kind, but the sweet, teasing type. Like you do with a long-time friend.

“I didn’t mean love wasn’t fun. I just meant the end wasn’t fun.” I shook my head. Making a humanoid wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. It appeared that I was going to have to face my deepest, hidden emotions to get my droid companion, but I was tired of being lonely. “I did have fun with Niles…and loved him with all my heart…he just didn’t seem to love me the same way.”

Dayton nodded, then turned back towards the computer screen. “I have some gaps in the earlier forms we need to fill in. Some basics, like what is your favorite color?”

I rattled off answers to about a hundred questions before Dayton clicked around on a collection of forms and finally hit Save.

“Very good,” he said. “We’re done for today.”

“That’s it?” A kaleidoscope of butterflies filled my stomach. We were one step closer to my loyal companion that would never leave me. One that would go with me to my family events so I didn’t have to go alone. One that would be waiting for me at home every day after I finish with clients at my accounting firm. I couldn’t wait.

“Our hour’s up and that’s it for today. We need to meet once a week for the next three weeks to finish the build.”

“Three more meetings? I was hoping to have him soon.” Like by tomorrow for my family’s Parade of Presents tradition, but on the bright side, I’d see Dayton a few more times before this was over.

“We just finished the basic information and still need to create the complexities that will make him seem human. Next week, we’ll go over physical appearance. The following will be personality, then at the last meeting, we’ll bring him to life…so three more meetings. You’ll still have him in time for Christmas.” Dayton looked down at the gift I purchased for Dad. “Sorry, I couldn’t help getting a glimpse inside your bag, but is that a vintage Spider-Man action figure?”

I pulled out the vintage toy. “Yeah. It’s a gift for my dad. I figured since Dream Droids is right next to AmaZing Comics, I’d check it out for a perfect Christmas present. See, when I was a child, I used to watch the Spider-Man cartoon with my father. It was the only bit of TV he had time to watch. I loved…well, I still love Spider-Man and so does Dad! He’s going to love this!”

“Can I see it?” Dayton cautiously reached out.

“Sure.” I proudly handed the package over.

Dayton fondled the package as if it was made of delicate glass, turning it over in his hands. “I always check out the Spider-Man table at Comic-Con.”

“Comic-Con?”

“Don’t tell me that you haven’t heard of Comic-Con? It’s where all lovers of fantasy and superheroes get together and share their passion. There’s one going on this weekend downtown. It starts Friday night. You should check it out. It can be a little odd and overwhelming, but they have lots of stuff like this for sale. Usually for a good deal, too.” He lifted the Spider-Man action figure up, turned it over one last time, then slipped it back into the bag.

“Hmm. As tempting as it is, I don’t need to go,” I smiled, taking the bag back from Dayton. “I already have the perfect gift.” Part of me wanted to get to know Dayton a little better, but he didn’t exactly offer to take me to Comic-Con. Besides, I didn’t need the distraction. I had lots of family Christmas festivities in the next few weeks, end of the year tax documents to begin at work, and what purpose did it have? I was committed to my no more men mantra.

A sweet smile emerged on his lips. “Well, if you’re bored, it’s quite a sight to see.” His eyes glistened in a way that made me want to share the joy that he felt towards Comic-Con

Dayton stood. “I really need to get to my next appointment. I’ll see you next week.”

Next week. I took a deep breath and nodded, certain that this was going to be the longest month of my life as I waited in anticipation for my Dream Droid.

Grab the entire story HERE.

 

Newsletters, Street Teams, Advanced Reader Groups, Social Media, Oh My!

My marketing efforts for my novels needed to be organized!

One thing I had been confused about is all the special groups some writers have. I’ve read about street teams, advanced reader groups, and launch teams, but it left me confused…I already have a newsletter and social media fan pages, do I really need three more groups of readers?

And with these more specialized groups, what info do I share with them, and how often do I engage them? I can barely keep up with everything I do already.

At multiple points during my years writing and publishing, I bought into each of these team concepts at one point, forming a new group that I let fizzle out a few weeks later, because I didn’t understand what to do with the team of willing readers.

After doing a ton of research, I realized I was making the whole process way too complicated.  I demystified the teams, and I thought other writers might also be confused, so I’m sharing information on my idea of what the best collection of fan engagement platforms are. The ones that give you the biggest return for your time.

Newsletter:

I’m still a huge fan of a Newsletter List. Many writers have multiple different ways to grow and manage their newsletters. Some writers only grow organically through visitors to their website and readers of their books, others utilize a reader magnet and service like Instafreebie or BookFunnel, while others participate in huge group giveaways. I’m actually a fan of all of the above.

I treat my newsletter like any type of paid advertising I do. It’s a way to engage established fans and attract new readers. What’s right is very specific to the writer.

There’s also the question of how often to send a NL. I know writers who send a newsletter daily…to weekly…to monthly…to only with new release edition. My choice is after an initial, weekly welcome series for the first month, I only send a NL out monthly unless I have a new release or something important to say in between. Monthly is enough to ensure the readers remember who you are, but doesn’t bog down their inbox.

I look as a newsletter as a consistent, typically one-way communication tool where an I can keep my subscribers/fans updated on what I’m working on, such as new and upcoming releases and remind new fans of my previous books they might not know about. To keep fans engaged, I do ask questions, share fun content like jokes and contests, share new project info, inside information on writing a certain piece, including deleted scenes, character interviews, etc, contests/games, other author book reviews, etc.

Website/Blog:

It works the same as a newsletter, only instead of the author pushing out the information, readers find the information when they’re interested in it. It’s a way to keep books organized and guide the reader to other stories they’ll enjoy. Plus, it’s nice to add a little bit of extra, bonus information.

I continue to blog a little (I used to do more of it)  for no reason other than I get enjoyment from the process and interaction. I don’t feel a blog is necessary, but do think every author should have at least a static web page.

Social Media Fan Pages:

Social media is another way to engage the reader. Successful fan pages have two way communication where the author connects with the reader on a nearly, 1:1 level. In my neck of the woods, Facebook is the most popular, so I utilize that one. I have other ones as well, but I don’t go to them routinely with information, but I utilize some integration so my blog and Facebook posts automatically go to twitter.

Early in my career, I tried to utilize too many social media sights, and I got overwhelmed and my posting frequency and content quality went down on all of them. Now, I’m focusing on Facebook. Ideally, posting every day. If some of my fans don’t use Facebook, they should subscribe to my NL or check out my webpage to find whatever info they’d like.

Advanced Reader Team / Street Team / Launch Team:

I’ve decided to combine all three of these into one team that I’m going to refer to as my Street Team. It’s too difficult to keep different groups based on what they’ll do for you, so I’m merging all my half-thought-out groups into one. With this, I have two parts. First is a “Street Team” email list and second is a “Street Team” Facebook group.

Both of which I don’t contact consistently, only when I have something to say. Most of these readers are on my regular newsletter list or follow my Facebook Author Page already.

I utilize this group to help me with specific tasks. In exchange, they get offered early, advanced copies of my books before publication.

I ask them to read and review copies of my books, to purchase the book (if they’re able) to help me with Amazon ranking and having their reviews show up as verified. I also ask for help with advertising by commenting and sharing Facebook posts for enhanced visibility, to help pick covers, provide blurb feedback, to test their interest in new book ideas, and to help spread the words of my stories by sharing them with their own followers and groups.

So…how does this all come together?

I send my Newsletter out once per month. (And an extra time if I have a mid-cycle new release.)

I’m working up to posting on my Facebook Page once daily. I pre-schedule posts a lot so I only need to work on this about one day per month.

I post on my Street Team Facebook Group whenever I have a decision to make… i.e. New series cover or concept, title feedback, etc, have an advanced reader copy of a book ready (I like to post the book 2-4 weeks before publication) and then during the first week of my launch with specific tasks (like leaving the review, liking/sharing posts, etc.)

I email my Street Team Newsletter list when I have a new advanced reader copy of a book ready, then I re-email whoever received a copy as soon as the book launches, reminding them to leave a review.

That’s it. Not nearly as complicated as I made it over the past few years.

How about you? What works for you that I’m missing? I’d love to hear.

You Can’t Have Too Many Fairy Godmothers!

When you saw or read the story of Cinderella, who did  you cheer for? Was it the poor servant who was given a chance at love?

Or was it the fairy godmother who made it all happen?

How about Pinocchio? Did you cheer for the boy made out of wood, or did you want more screen time for the blue fairy who performed a miracle for the boy to live?

And Sleeping Beauty? In the Disney movie, the three fairy godmothers stole the show with their comic relief.

For me, I loved the magic behind the story. I loved the fairy godmothers!

Hidden CoverLast November, I published a quirky fantasy book about a pregnant fairy godmother who ventures to the forbidden human world to find her child’s father (Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey…) I didn’t think too hard as I wrote it, just having fun along the way, creating places like Prosthetics-R-Us, meals like platapus eggs and meatloaf, and a character who said Dibbity, Dobbity, Doo!

This story was a much needed break after finishing  novel that I struggled with for nearly a year (The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.) It’s only novella length (about 30,000 words) but tells an entire story.

As ridiculous as this story was, it was my fourth published story and the first one that my 13 year old daughter read. (I had to promise her there were no swear words in it!) Hidden was never meant to have any other stories in this world, but after my daughter finished the story, she kept asking me to write the story of Ciera (my main character’s) baby.

Well, I’m leaving the story of Kamda (Ciera’s daughter) to my own daughter to write (she’s about 3000 words into the story,) BUT I did write another story in the Fairy Godmother Universe.

Why?

Because you can’t have too many fairy godmothers!

legends of the veil

My newest addition to the Fairy Godmother World is titled Trapped: One Fairy Godmother’s Impossible Love… It’s less quirky, but just as fun. It’s another novella length work that’s currently only available in the Legends of the Veil anthology. Once again, I wrote it as an escape from a current project (The Angels of Sojourn Series.)

This novella tells the story of Mila, a fairy godmother who’s been in love with Lincoln, a human, since she was six. Now, nearly twenty years later, this human is getting married, and Mila finds herself faced with an impossible decision.

This story stands alone and you can read it independently of Hidden.

So, what’s next?

I’ll give my daughter a year to come up with the story of Ciera’s daughter, Kamda…if she doesn’t finish it, I’ll be writing it when I need a break from whatever project I’m working on. In the mean time, I’m busy planning a Christmas story and plotting out a new series involving something a little different for me…aliens.

Thanks for reading!

Copy of Discover More of the Angels of Sojourn with these FREE books

Starting a Newsletter Serial Novella

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For about a year, I’ve been wanting to write a serial novel for my newsletter where I release one or two chapters of a new story at a time. I had gone so far as polling my newsletter subscribers to see if they were interested (which the majority of the respondents said they were.)

I had two big barriers to doing this…

  1. Finding the time to write something extra with all the stories I already committed to and fitting this in with the work I do at my family zoo business.
  2. My Newsletter only goes out monthly — that’s a lot of time to wait between releases.

But this summer, I’m in need of sending out a weekly newsletter due to all the new material I have coming out and other commitments. I thought it would be a great time to try this serial newsletter idea.

So, starting today and running until the end of August (or mid-September, depending on how the story goes) I’ll be releasing a weekly newsletter filled with one or two chapters of my current work in progress, The Superhero’s Husband.

This story is not written yet. I’m writing it as we go with hopes of receiving feedback from readers. I did take a day or two and outlined it with quite a bit of detail — which is needed for clue planting as all my longer stories have elements of mystery.

I’ll update you in a few months… My fingers are crossed that this is successful!

To see how I introduced this concept in my newsletter, click HERE.

To read the first chapter of The Superhero’s Husband, click HERE.

Author Newsletter Content

It’s been over a year that I’ve been sending out an author newsletter. I used to get so nervous on my content and had a touch of paralysis on whether to send it out or not.

Now, I’m a little more confident, but still wonder if I’m on target. I subscribe to lots of author newsletters, trying to see which interests me most, but each one of them is so different. I’ve learned what I don’t like in a newsletter, but still have questions:

Are my subscribers reading mine? Do they like the content or are they expecting something different?

To answer these questions, I created a survey and asked my readers what they like, hate, and wish was included. I sent this survey out in my monthly newsletter and incentivized survey completion with a $20 Amazon Gift Card prize given away to one lucky respondent. Here’s what that newsletter looked like.

Overall, I received 535 responses to my survey. 🙂 This is what my readers had to say:

  • 52% have read at least one of my books
  • 50% appreciate that my stories are clean, while 30% don’t care, and 9% only will read clean stories (I recently had two subscribers upset about an anthology I was in that wasn’t clean. My story was, but the other author’s stories weren’t. It made me realize who some of my readers are.)
  • 59% like a monthly newsletter while 19% like every other week and 17% would like weekly (Other authors do weekly and say it works great and is what their fans want. I was curious, as a more frequent newsletter would allow me to participate in more group promotions.)
  • 71% of my readers enjoy fantasy books, 70% mystery, 56% romance, 56% science fiction, and 20% would read anything I wrote. 😊 (I love you!) I didn’t realize how many mystery readers I had.
  • 50% are happy with a diverse newsletter while 25% would like one tailored towards their favorite genre
  • 59.4% like a subject line that has a peek to the content while 32.5% enjoy a consistent one so they know who the newsletter is from (Mine used to all say something like: April’s “Hidden World” Newsletter. I recently changed this to try to get higher open rates, and was wondering if readers missed it. It appears this was a good change.

Of what I currently put in my newsletter, I learned my readers are most interested in my new release updates, followed by updates on my writing progress & stories. Group promos & contests, and other author books are the least favorite, but still 54% say they enjoy this section.

I then asked the survey respondents what would they like to see in my newsletter that’s currently not there. The most requested was fun stories about my personal life that ranked in at 47.5%, followed by sneak peeks & excerpts and exclusive content such as character interviews or deleted scenes. Hearing about book sales and the life as a writer also had quite a few votes. The least votes came to hear about what I’m blogging about and a serial novel.

Then I read everyone’s comments, which is where you get the best feedback. Here’s some of my favorites that I’ll be incorporating into newsletter revisions:

  • More on Zoo Animals!
  • More on where you get your inspiration
  • Too many promotions at the end of the email
  • Table of contents
  • Don’t need to include all categories every month
  • Advanced reader copies of books

Overall, this was a fantastic exercise to do with readers. I learned that I’m currently on target with content, but still gave me some tweaks I can do to improve my newsletters further. To see how this all came together, take a peek at my April Newsletter where I started to make some changes. More to come.

Thanks for reading!

–Joy

Feel free to share any author newsletter experiences you’ve had. I love learning from each other.