Jeanne: Anatomy of a Newsletter

On Friday I sent out my seventh newsletter.

When I started sending out newsletters last summer, just before releasing The Demon Always Wins, I planned on once a quarter. Current marketing wisdom says weekly, but who has something to say that often? Even book-factory authors who spit out books like they’re running an assembly line take six weeks or so to write and release a book. Also, I personally loathe getting author newsletters that frequently. And anything more often than once a week I consider spam and quickly unsubscribe.

Still, over the last few months, I’ve fallen into a monthly pattern because I have had news to share—contest finals, new covers, good stuff.! And now that I have a few newsletters under my belt, I feel like I have some useful ideas on what works.

  1. A header/template that reflects your brand. Here’s mine:

Header

2. News. This goes back to what I was grumbling about earlier. It’s only a newsletter if it contains news. In this case, it was the news that The Demon Always Wins won Best Paranormal Romance and Best First Book in the Detroit RWA Booksellers’ Best contest. It included a picture of my (very hard to photograph) awards: Continue reading

Justine: Tips for Reader Groups on Facebook

caitlyn oleary fb group header

This is the Facebook header for Caitlyn O’Leary’s Facebook group called Caitlyn’s Crew. You can get an idea of not only what she writes, but the general vibe of the group based on her group logo. Image copyright Caitlyn O’Leary.

A couple weekends ago, I attended the California Dreamin’ Writer’s Conference. It was a lot of fun, and, as I promised when I originally blogged about it, I have some goodies to share with you from some of the workshops I attended.

One of the most fun workshops was about creating Superfans, put on by Caitlyn O’Leary (who is devilishly funny and very sarcastic…she puts it all out on display, and I think it’s one of the things her readers love about her, besides good writing, of course!).

One of the first things Caitlyn talked about was creating an author “brand.” However, she didn’t quite mean it in the “what-do-your-business-cards-look-like” kind of way. Nor did she mean it as “book branding.” Rather, it’s a personality brand…what sort of person are you? Romantic? Whimsical? Practical and to the point? Funny vs sensitive? Goofy vs. serious? Whatever your personality brand, that’s what has to come out and shine in your interactions with readers.

I won’t get into the “how’s” of creating that author brand (because I don’t want to pilfer too much from her presentation), but when determining it, think about Continue reading

Nancy: Happy April and Accountability!

April might very well be my favorite month of the year. So many great things happen during this first full month of spring! My daughter has her birthday. Trees and flowers begin blooming for another year (allergies be damned!). Days grow longer and warmer, but not yet hot and humid (usually).

This year, in honor of this  uplifting month, instead of just discussing my goals and plans on the April Monday accountability thread, I’m sharing the things I’m looking forward to seeing/having/doing this month.

Covers. It’s very exciting to open an email to find your new book cover design attached! Once again, I’m working on covers for the Harrow’s Finest Five series. This time, I’m waiting for the final version of the design for Two Scandals Are Better Than One, which has a book release date of late May. My newsletter subscribers will get the first sneak peek sometime in the next few weeks, and then I’ll share it here by the end of the month – a very exciting way to close out April!

And speaking of covers, I was amused but not surprised when two of the ladies posted about them last week. We do seem to be a little obsessed with them here at the 8LW blog. But now more than ever, covers are integral to categorizing, branding, and marketing books. Maybe sad, often stressful, but definitely true. That’s why I’m also working on a cover update for the novella Too Clever by Half. Continue reading

Michaeline: Hopepunk and Presolutions Weekend

Welcome to Presolutions Weekend for Chez Duskova. What a wonderful idea to have a weekend and a holiday before the new year arrives officially on Tuesday! I’ll be cooking and cleaning – getting the home lucky and at least a little more comfortable so I can start 2019 with a better slate than 2018. I’ll be studying Japanese so I can be a little more literate next year. Of course, the ukulele must be played (I got the sheet music for Blackstar ★ for Christmas!), because music is going to be a big part of 2019. And, I’m going to write just a little bit – just enough to remind myself that I am a writer.

In addition, I’ll make my formal resolutions on January 1, so this weekend is also about sorting out my brain.

Two space-suited humanoids are enjoying the free air and freshness of a beautiful valley on Earth.

Hopepunk: where characters fight the good fight, and enjoy the fruits of their labors. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On Friday, I was reminded of the importance of “keeping up with the industry” – or at least the news of my genre. I read this great article on Vox by Aja Romano about a trend called “hopepunk”. Apparently, the idea of hope-filled, never-give-up, positive fantasy and science fiction (and a whole slew of other narratives) has been trending since July 2017! Alexandra Rowland sounded the clarion on Tumblr with “(T)he opposite of grimdark is hopepunk. Pass it on.”

Vox’s Romano defines some characteristics of hopepunk, then goes on to tie it into comforting trends like the Japanese kawaii culture, and the Danish hygge/hyggeligt that Nancy Yeager has shared with us on this blog. The article also contrasts the self-made do-it-yourself aesthetic of hopepunk with the “she was born with it” aesthetic of Continue reading

Jeanne: When Art Imitates Art

So this is the cover of my book that was released in September:

snake winding its way around a practical female hand holding an apple

The Demon Always Wins (image via Amazon)

And this is a statue on display at the Illinois State Capitol, courtesy of the Satanic Temple-Chicago Chapter.

Satanic-statue-exlarge-169

In case you can’t make it out, it’s a sculpture of a woman’s arm, wrapped in a snake, leading up to her hand, which is holding an apple. The inscription on the base reads, “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift.”

Not sure exactly what to make of that…

 

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

Michaeline: A Question of Conformity

Old French print of a person dressed perfectly as female Mmme Beaumont on half of the body, and male Chevalier D'Eon on the other half. It's the juxtaposition that doesn't conform.

“So, you want me to conform? All right! I’ll conform! I’ll conform in a way you’ve never seen before! I’ll be the best damn conformer you’ve ever seen.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Kay’s post this week has me thinking about The Right Thing To Do. She’s written a three-volume story about (amongst other things) the heroine resisting marriage, resisting marriage, and then finally succumbing to what is still a social ideal in our culture: the state of matrimony. In other words, conformity.

But from what Kay’s told us, her heroine is not going to conform in a completely socially approved way: wedding in Vegas with costumes and glitter. For Kay, the point isn’t the wedding. She’d like to skip writing about it and let the reader imagine the wedding.

But her beta readers are pressing her to conform. I, myself, talked about how a wedding is a very traditional ending to a series – a big set piece of glitz and love that rewards the reader with a big piece of wedding cake for putting up with all the trials and tribulations. So, Kay’s in a bit of a bind; in her gut, she wants the clean ending – a light smear of frosting. But many of us are pushing for flowers of marzipan and silver dragees. And Kay, at one point, said very simply and with great eloquence, “Crap.” Continue reading