Sunday, August 28, 2011

Texas Two Steps: Darcy and Gabe (Contemporary Romance Short Story)

TEXAS TWO STEPS are short, short stories of 6500 words or so. They're quick sexy reads, just the right length to enjoy during lunch breaks, soaks in the tub or while waiting in the doctor's office. 

Here's the blurb:

Ever since her divorce, Darcy Miller spends many a Saturday morning attending home repair workshops at the local Builders' Depot. When the sexy new instructor offers one-on-one lessons, Darcy discovers do-it-yourself is much more fun with the help of a handsome handyman.

And here's the excerpt:

Darcy watched as Gabe rose from his chair and stood. His blue eyes lasered in on her as he made his way around the table to where she sat. He offered his hand and silently helped her to her feet.

"Thanks for dinner," he said in that sexy voice that was beginning to drive her wild. His hand held hers in a strong grip, and his thumb rubbed circles on her suddenly sensitized skin.

"I want to kiss you, Darcy. I know we've just met, but I need to kiss you." He pulled her against his big hard-muscled body, wrapped his strong arms around her and lowered his mouth to hers.


Happy Reading!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Operation eBook Drop

From the first moment I heard about Operation eBook Drop, I wanted to be a part of it. For more than a year, life got in the way, but I finally joined the program this past month.

Operation eBook Drop allows authors to give away free books to service men and women all over the world. It was the brainchild of Edward Patterson, and then Mark Coker and Smashwords got in on the deal. Almost one thousand authors have donated over three million free ebooks to our troops. Is that awesome, or what? For more information go here and here.

I put all of my books for free in the program. I've emailed my Smashwords coupons to all the troops on my lists. I'm honored to participate and can't tell you the thrill I experience whenever I see some of those coupons redeemed. To think that I'm possibly giving a little bit of joy and entertainment to the men and women serving our country makes me very happy.

But the best thing to come of it so far was when I received a thank you note from a certain major in Afghanistan expressing her appreciation . . . well, it brought tears to my eyes, let me tell you. She's putting her life on the line for our country; I just wrote a few little romance stories. No comparison, really.

Operation eBook Drop is a wonderful program. I feel like I'm doing my little part (very little part) in helping the troops. Check it out!!!

Happy Reading Troops!!!

Anne Marie   :)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Celebrating My One Year Anniversary of Indie Publishing: A Retrospective/Looking Back

Saturday marked my one year anniversary as an Indie Author. I jumped into this self-publishing adventure on August 6, 2010. I chose that date because it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Easy to remember and it makes the day doubly special.

It's been a roller coaster of a ride; the emotional ups and downs literally taking my breath away. People say self-publishing is easy, but they're wrong. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and courage. You must be brave to release your books and stories into the wild. Getting your babies out there makes you feel exhilarated, as well as vulnerable. No, it's not for the faint of heart.

That said, let's take a look back at the past year. (And since I don't want to reinvent the wheel, I'll be cutting and pasting a bit from a couple of previous posts to save time.)

First off, I need to say I had a "backlist" of nine books that I wanted to publish. I've been writing a long time. I had been submitting to agents and editors, entering RWA contests and placing in a few. I even received a phone call from a Harlequin editor in New York. Not THE CALL, but A CALL. Thrilling, I must say. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I got close, but no cigar.

Then along came digital publishing and the small ePresses. I was lucky enough to sell to The Wild Rose Press and I liked being an eBook author. I didn't sell much and thought there had to be a better way. 

And then came Kindle and Direct Publishing. Bingo!!!

I started out with one book, my Traditional Regency MIDNIGHT MY LOVE on August 6, 2010. I priced it at $2.99 so I would get the 70% royalty from Amazon. It was extremely gratifying to get my first sale on Smashwords literally minutes after uploading it. I sold about 6 on Smashwords and 9 on Amazon during the month of August.

I uploaded my second book, THE DOCTOR WEARS A STETSON, the third week in September. The price was still at $2.99 and for the whole month I only sold 4 on Amazon (total for both books) and 3 on Smashwords. A little disheartening, but not totally disillusioning.

In October, I dropped the price of MIDNIGHT MY LOVE to 99 cents as an experiment and left the other book at $2.99. Sales picked up and I sold 17 copies of the Regency and 7 copies of the Western.  Smashwords sales were few and far between. I probably sold about 5 copies that month.

Not really wanting to sell my book so cheaply, I raised the price back up for November. As a result, I only sold 9 books (total for both books) on Amazon; maybe 3 or so on Smashwords.

Everyone in the Indie Author Community was excited about December 2010 with the explosion of holiday sales of Kindles and Nooks. I remember I was eagerly waiting to hit that 100 ebook sales mark.

On December 12, I released my third book, THE COWBOY'S SURRENDER. Biting the bullet, I dropped the prices on all three books to 99 cents to see what would happen. BOOM!!! Sales rose dramatically. At this time, I also uploaded all three books directly onto B&N's Pubit! instead of going through Smashwords. Immediately, I began selling more books for the Nook than Kindle.

I sold over 200 books in December. Could it get any better? Oh yeah.

In January, I released a fourth book, ADAM'S TEMPTATION. Price? Well, I started out at $2.99. After a week of no sales, I dropped it to $1.99 then to 99 cents. That book was slow finding its way in the ranks, but the other three books went through the roof!!!  I sold 643 books in the month of January, twice as many at B&N than on Amazon.
(Alas, this did not continue. Sales dropped off at B&N for some unaccountable reason.)

On February 6, 
I hit my first big milestone: One thousand ebooks sold!!! I was pretty much in shock. And SO happy!!! Sales at Amazon started to catch up to my sales at B&N.

The last week in February, I released my fifth book, A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. This is the third book in my Diamondback Ranch series. I decided to charge $2.99 since the other two were selling so well. And it worked!!! Readers were buying all three books in the series. AND LOVING THEM!!! An author's dream come true.

On St. Patrick's Day, I released my first Regency novella, TO HIS LADY'S RESCUE. This is when things started taking off. I sold over 4000 books in March and gave 500 away for free on Smashwords. By the end of March, I had sold over 6000 ebooks total.

One month later on April 16th, I hit another milestone: TEN THOUSAND EBOOKS SOLD!!! Sales exploded on Amazon.  I had two books on the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. My westerns were also making the lists. I sold 8200 ebooks in the month of April. My little novella was selling through the roof. 

It was a funny thing though. Readers either loved or hated it.  It was around this time that I received my first one-star review and it was for the little novella. I was devastated. I wanted to pull it. I posted on the Kindle Boards asking how other authors coped with bad reviews and received awesome support and hand-holding. I also received my first Random Act of Kindleness. Another Regency author had read my book and wrote a great five-star review. Life was good.

Earlier in the year, I had asked for and received my rights back to the two books I had published with TWRP.  On May 3, I published/rereleased HER RELUCTANT RANCHER. I decided to charge $2.99 since it had already been "vetted" and published. It sold more books in that one month than the 2 1/2 years at the small ePress.

May was my best month ever!!! I sold almost 10,000 eBooks that month. Awesome!!! I finally felt like a successful author.

On May 31, I published TEXAN UNDERCOVER. I started it out at $2.99, but quickly dropped the price to 99 cents. (More about my pricing strategy later.)

I published/rereleased the last book in my backlist, TALL DARK AND TEXAN, on June 2. I put it up for $2.99. In the month of June, I sold over 9000 eBooks.

What goes up, must come down. This is where the not for the faint of heart comes into play.

The third week of June, I gave a workshop at my local RWA Chapter on SELF-PUBLISHING: THE NEW PARADIGM/Living My Dream. (You can read excerpts Part One and Part Two here.) I'm glad I gave it when I did, because it wasn't long after that the summer slump settled in and my sales started decreasing.

Not fun. You know, it's great when your books are selling like hotcakes and all's right with the world. It's a whole nuther thing when sales start to tank. Interestingly, as my sales declined on Amazon, they started picking up on B&N. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. Not for the faint of heart.

I shouldn't complain too much. In July, I sold over 5000 eBooks. I gave 1000 away for free on Smashwords. I've sold close to 40,000 eBooks total. But watching my sales decrease by 50% and more is not a good feeling, let me tell you.

I try to put it all in perspective. I started out this venture with the goal of making around 300-400 dollars a month. I'm doing that and more. Readers are reading my books. I'm writing what I enjoy writing and finding like-minded people who enjoy reading what I write.

It is truly an awesome time to be a writer. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I published my tenth eBook and first short story--TEXAS TWO STEPS: DARCY AND GABE.

I'm looking forward to the next year. My goal is to release ten more stories of various lengths. I plan to charge $2.99 for my novels and 99 cents for my shorter works. I'm positioning myself for this next holiday season and beyond.

The eBook sensation is revolutionary. More and more people are going to switch over to digital reading devices, and that will hopefully be more readers for all of us. Writers need to write and publish and be ready for them. That's exactly what I plan to do.

Happy Writing and Reading and Publishing!!!

AM   :)

Monday, August 01, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!! Comparing 2006 Writing Goals to My Present Day Goals

I'm getting ready to treat my house to a deep cleaning. I'm going to spend a little of my hard-earned book money on a professional maid service. Since I'm now seriously writing again and spending hours at the computer, my house is not getting cleaned by me. And a dirty house weighs me and my muse down.

That said, naturally I have to "clean" before the cleaning ladies come. No, I'm not going crazy. But they can't sort through piles of papers and junk. And they can't clean with those piles everywhere, so I enlisted hubby's help and we're sorting through some of the mess.

Which leads me to the gist of this post. I came across a list I'd made back in 2006. I'm a great list maker. The list is on the back of an envelope and it's entitled Writing Goals.

Wow! How different that list reads compared to my Monday BICHOK lists.

Here's a sample of what I was working on five years ago when I was pursuing traditional publishing:

*  Finish tweaking CHASING THE MOONLIGHT
*  Send it to Harlequin
*  Enter the Emily Contest
*  Enter the Golden Heart.
*  Enter the Harlequin American Contest
*  Submit to Samhain
*  Take online class
*  Plan website

I was just starting to enter contests back then and didn't really enter that many. I never could justify the expense. Although, I did get a couple of requests from editors and finaled in a few, nothing ever came of it.

What a difference a few years makes!!! Now I'm writing and publishing my stories and finding readers. I LOVE it!!!

Here are my writing goals for this week:

*  Finish writing short story (see, I didn't even write short stories or novellas back then. Not much of a market in 2006.)
*  Tweak it and send to beta readers
*  Get ready to publish it
*  Add blurbs and clickable links to published books
*  Finish article for newsletter
*  Practice making book covers on PowerPoint
*  Tweak Regency novella
*  Start new story

You can see right off there are fundamental differences between the two lists.  I had no control over most of the items on the first list; success was left up to chance. The second list emphasizes the empowerment Independent/Self-publishing gives me. I'm in control. I have the power and success depends completely on me. Kind of scary. And exciting.

Oh yes. It's a great time to be an author!!!

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)