Nancy: Cover Redux: Paint It Black Edition

What would you think if your lover gave you a black rose?

Last week, we Ladies spent a lot of time looking at, talking about, and sharing book covers. By the end of it, I thought I was ‘covered’ out; then I quickly realized I have to engage a graphic designer for my January release, pronto. That sent me back to the interwebs, down rabbit holes and into quicksand pits. Eventually I emerged, a little worse for wear, but brimming with ideas not just for One Kiss from Ruin, but for the other books in the Harrow’s Finest Five series as well.

And one of those books might get a black cover.

Just like weddings, it’s all about love, romance, and the dress

As you might remember from my cover reveal last week, the cover of my series-launching novella features the heroine in a Victorian-era dress. A very pink dress. As a general concept, a woman in a period dress without her face showing has set the tone for the series covers. However, none of the other books in the series are the same low-heat (formerly known as sweet) level, so the innocence of pastels won’t be a hallmark of the series branding.

I already know the heroine on the cover of the first full-length novel in the series will be in green. The hero loves her in green, as it brings out the color of her eyes and makes him all swoony. And I found a stock image of a woman in an amazing green dress that I hope my designer can use (although that’s not necessary, as dress color is apparently a pretty easy thing to change). Then there’s the heroine of the third novel, who’s a fiery redhead, a femme fatale, and – so Society thinks – a merry widow. She wouldn’t show up to the event of the Season in anything less than a red dress.

As for my second novel’s leading lady, she would look lovely in blue. However, in the first few scenes of the book, she’s the mysterious woman in black. That black dress gets the hero’s attention, tugs on his – ahem, let’s keep it G-rated and say heartstrings, and is referenced occasionally throughout the book. I would love to have a cover with her in her black dress, holding her sparkling masquerade mask from the same scene, and maybe featuring another fun element that I’ll keep under wraps for now. But a black cover on a romance that’s not gothic or erotica? Is such a thing done? I’m so glad you asked, because I did some research, and here’s what I learned. Continue reading

Jeanne: So How Are Those Amazon Ads Working Out for You? Part 2

Last week, we talked about how Amazon ads work for authors at a hypothetical level. This week. we’re going to talk about how they worked for me when I ran them.

My ad campaign was put together by a publicity agency with stock set of keywords for my type of novel, plus some that I suggested.

Here are the overall numbers and top performing keywords from Campaign #1:

Ad copy: Sometimes you have to go through Hell to claim your Heaven. Continue reading

Jeanne: How Are Those Amazon Ads Working Out for You? Part 1

Amazon LogoToday I’m going to provide a brief survey of Amazon ads and how they work for authors.

Disclaimer: I did my research on the Internet. Although I tried to cross-verify all the information provided below, it’s entirely possible I fell prey to some of the misinformation floating around the Web. (!) Eight Ladies Jilly and Kay have both taken classes on Amazon advertising, so I’m counting on them to correct any egregious errors.

There are three types of Amazon Ads:

  1. Headline Search Ads (primarily for brand awareness)
    • Allows you to display multiple products at once
  2. Product Display Ads
    • Allows for interest targeting
    • Allows addition of custom copy and images
    • Allows selection of pages on which to appear on (i.e. similar products or competitive products)
    • Clicking link sends customer to vendor’s website
  3. Sponsored Product Ads
    • Keyword-driven
    • Auction-based
    • Allows for custom copy but not custom images
    • Clicking link sends customer to book’s Amazon product page

Sponsored Product ads are the ones best suited for selling books, so we will focus on them. Continue reading

Jeanne: My First Book Birthday

Roses from A&A

Saturday, September 1, was my debut book release. It went well–I even received this lovely bouquet of roses from my daughter, congratulating me on achieving a life-time dream.

Because I’d badgered, I mean, encouraged people to pre-order the ebook, my royalties report on my Amazon Central Dashboard looked like this at the end of the first day:

 

Continue reading

Jeanne: In Which I Freak Out a Little

People kept warning me that marketing a book is really time-consuming. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, exactly. More that I didn’t know enough about what I’d have to do to understand how much time we were talking about.

Let me educate you:

  1. You need to grow your platform. That means:
    1. Aggressively friending people on Facebook.
    2. Inviting all those brand new friends to Like your Author page
    3. Dealing with the sudden onset of people, in turn, friending you, many of whom I suspect are Russian trolls and Nigerian princes.
    4. Which means reviewing profiles. Despite your best efforts, some of the ones you accept will immediately attempt to contact you via Messenger to a) offer you a business opportunity (Buy My Jewelry! Day Trade at Home!) or b) request money for their charity.
    5. Searching out people to follow on Twitter.
    6. Following them back (which requires looking at their tweets to be sure you’re not following a known psychopath)
    7. Being winsome on Instagram. (That’s much easier. See flower pics below.)
    8. Participating in any other social media you can tolerate. (Hasn’t happened–I’m already well over my tolerance limit with Twitter, which a writing friend likened to an “angry kaleidoscope.”
  2. Collect as many invitations as you can muster to appear on blogs, with the understanding that each of them is going to want a completely original blog post and a never-before-seen snippet from the book. Thus far I’ve written:
    1. A recipe describing Belial, my protagonist, for the Alpha Male Cafe over at I Smell Sheep, a paranormal romance blog. That one will appear on September 9.
    2. A post titled, “When the Drapes Don’t Match the Carpet,” on the importance of covers conveying what’s inside the book for Fresh Fiction, appearing September 13
    3. A Q&A for the USA Today HEA blog for September 6th (including a pic of me with my 90’s hair, if you’re interested. I must say, I had a bucket of hair back in the 90’s.)
    4. An interview with Belial for D. Lieber’s Ink and Magick blog that begins with the phrase, “Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?” Date yet to be determined.
    5. And we’re working on several more. For that reason, I share with you a half dozen of the bazillion wildflower pictures I’ve taken over the past few years.

      Because somebody needs to remember to take time to smell those beauties.

Jilly: The Appeal of Foreign Stories

Do you read contemporary stories set in countries other than the USA? What kind of stories are they? What do you especially like about them?

I have a reason for asking.

I’m just back from a most excellent vacation in the States, including an action-packed weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin with fellow 8 Lady Kay, followed by a few days in picturesque Door County (click here to read Kay’s description of our excursions to the Northern Sky Theater Company).

Before I met up with Kay, I spent an afternoon in Chicago talking all things writing with a developmental editor. Mostly we focused on Alexis, but we also talked about my English/Scottish contemporary romance, which I decided to dust off in time for the next (and final) RWA Golden Heart contest.

The editor gave me the same feedback I heard from a very respected agent a couple of years ago when I tried to shop this book: the writing is strong, but a contemporary British setting, with all British characters, is hard to sell outside the UK. She said that the story offered a kind of insider perspective on life in London and Scotland, which is not what the mainstream American romance reader is conditioned to expect.

In her view, when US readers pick up a foreign-set story, they expect the setting to be either

  1. exotic;
  2. glamorously urban; or
  3. small, close-knit communities where the culture is a large part of the appeal.

Continue reading

Jeanne: The First Pancake

PancakeThere’s a wonderful indie comedy from 2003 called Pieces of April about a young woman who invites her suburban family to her walk-up apartment in the Bronx for Thanksgiving dinner, only to have her oven go out Thanksgiving morning. I saw it years ago, but there is one line that stuck with me.

Asked by some friends about her relationship with her parents, April says, “I’m the first pancake.”

The film goes on to explain that the first pancake is the one you throw away so the others will turn out okay.

The Demon Always Wins is starting to feel like the first pancake. Continue reading