Thursday, January 24, 2019

Selling books

I've been needing to blog for a while, struggling with a topic.  This morning, it came to me, so bear with me while I slog through the miasma that is my brain and attempt to say something coherent.

I get questions all the time about how to sell books.  I'll get PM's on facebook, conversations at my local pub, or random tweets, asking me how I'm so successful, what part of me is a machine that allows me to make a living off my book sales.

It's not just one thing, and my definition of success is so different from these people that call me successful. If I were really successful, would I have this desperate NEEEEED to sell more books to pay for this car I just bought because my old one D-I-E-D? Maybe.  Maybe not.

I realized that it's not a selling books thing, it's a SALES thing.

To sell anything, from books to the latest herbal supplement, to makeup, to cars and houses, there is one common factor.


I'm not talking a physical hunger, a gnawing pain in your belly.  No.  It's a level of frantic desperation that equates itself to the buyer as a NEED from you to SELL them something.  It makes the buyer NEED to BUY from YOU.

In my business, it's a clear understanding of what I want from them: to buy MY books.  Not Jane Doe's.  Not that Jane Doe is a bad person, or a bad writer, but maybe Jane Doe hasn't done all the homework, she doesn't know exactly how many books she has to sell to feed her kids mac n cheese, how many more books she needs to sell to feed them a hamburger casserole, and how many MORE books she needs to sell to feed them crab legs on Fridays.

Maybe Jane doesn't know where to go to sell books?  Maybe she doesn't know the rule of three.  For every three people that you talk to about your book (or show your book in a newsfeed), ONE will think about buying it.  Now, you have to know your audience for this to work, because it doesn't work at all if you're selling romance books and talking to mystery readers. 

Maybe it's something else?  Maybe Jane just hasn't done any homework?  Maybe she doesn't have a newsletter list?  Or a website?  Or friends to bounce ideas off?  But I think Jane doesn't know her numbers.

Not only do I know this, I have strategies to sell this number of books every month.  These strategies vary from month to month.  If something isn't working for me to feed my kids crab legs, hopefully, I will catch it in time to change it before the month is over because it may not work at all next month.

I'm about to come up on my six year publishing anniversary.  In that six years, I've seen things work that no longer work for anyone (hello, G+?).  I'm constantly trying new things, though, so that when what's working now quits working, I have options.

Because I'm hungry.  No, I just had a protein shake, but there's a frantic feeling inside me to sell books.  In fact, I haven't written new words in MONTHS because I've been working on my marketing.  I have taken a marketing class through RWA, and am implementing those strategies to add to my arsenal.  I'm getting ready to publish a new book.  I'm MARKETING because I'm hungry.  I'm a writer, first and foremost.  But if I don't market these books to sell, there's absolutely no point in trying to make a living from selling.

Go take a class, make some new friends to talk marketing with (not just hey, retweet my stuff, although that's a part of it, but LISTEN to what they're doing, and figure out how to implement it.), don't be scared to try new things, and don't have a defeatist attitude, give some stuff away, do ALL the things, because eventually, something will work.  Be hungry.  Tell your readers to buy your stuff because Jane Doe doesn't know how hungry she is.  She's written the pretty words, and shoved her book in buyer's faces, but she's not intentional about it.

Be intentional.  If something isn't working (how many times really, can you retweet that tweet?) find something else.  Facebook ads, group takeovers on facebook, a bargainbooksy, spend some time on *gulp* goodreads or bookbub.  Explore, figure out what can do something for you.  Then spend some time doing it.  This is not a business where you can publish a book and expect your friends to buy it and then retire.  You have to work for it.

When I get the inevitable question, "How can I sell more books?"  I'll always ask, what they're currently doing to sell books.  They'll tell me Blog Tours or nothing, I don't know where to start.

It's daunting, yes.  But throwing your money at something that isn't working won't sell your books.  Do your research.  Figure out what others are doing (but don't just ask them to tell you their secrets, that's mean).  I once heard someone equate it to a cockpit, and each tool is a button on your dash.  Facebook ads.  Reader group parties.  Newsletter.  Others' newsletters.  Freebooksie or Bargainbooksie.  Bookbub.  These are all buttons.  The goal is to have as MANY buttons to push as possible.

Go forth.  Get hungry.  Find your buttons.

And if you want to join in my Facebook party for my six-year publiversary, feel free to join my reader group:

Much fun is to be had.  :)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Guest Post ~ Ciara Ballintyne ~ Tangled Lights and Silent Nights

Meet Alloran – the fantasy equivalent of a mad scientist, whose stock in trade is magic, not science.

I conceived of Alloran after reading The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills. The main character in that book has a friend, Monk Markham, who is a brilliant wizard constantly dabbling in things he shouldn’t—and getting away with it.

And I thought—but what if he didn’t? What if his hubris had consequences?

Poor Alloran has been plagued with mishaps, and in The Seven Circles of Hell he stumbles from disaster to disaster, in each book trying to put right what he made wrong in the last. Maybe he should just stop. Maybe it’s time to call it quits.

But he has itchy fingers, and he can’t put a puzzle down once he’s picked it up—and what’s a poor wizard to do when his best friend is on the loose, trying to destroy him, and, incidentally, the world?
Events all started a long time ago in a galaxy… I mean, just a long time ago. Alloran is more than a hundred years old, and when we meet him in Confronting the Demon, he’s abandoned his research and has committed himself to a life of carousing. Because if you don’t behave seriously, people can’t expect you to solve serious problems, right?

It seems like a sensible decision—if you are addicted to something bad, the general wisdom is to give it up. But Alloran gets sucked back in when he’s framed for summoning demons and winds up on the run while someone is murdering his friends.

So that’s how he got back into magic. But why did he quit in the first place?

Alloran was the man who discovered how to open gates into hell—which is why everyone thinks he summoned the one in Confronting the Demon. His research was burned and demon summoning banned, so who else could it be?

That first ill-fated foray into the hells, what was to be Alloran’s crowning glory, turned into a disaster that made him the man we meet in Confronting the Demon.

When I was asked to write a Christmas story for Tangled Lights and Silent Nights, my first thought was ‘how do you write a Christmas story in the epic fantasy genre?’ Then when I gave it some more thought, I realised I had a story that needed telling, that some readers had been asking for—the story of that first imp he summoned from hell, that started events in motion.

"Another Bloody Festival" is that story—how it all went terribly wrong for Alloran—set against the backdrop of the winter solstice—because is there a better time of year for a demon to be loose in the halls?

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead.

She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.

Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her two daughters and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne


The Seven Circles of Hell
Confronting the Demon
Stalking the Demon
Becoming the Demon
Being the Demon (coming soon)

The Sundered Oath
In the Company of the Dead
On the Edge of Death
To Make the Dead Weep

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Guest Post ~ Brenda Vicars ~ Tangled Lights and Silent Nights

Can you tell when it’s love and not just a passing crush?

Polarity, the main character in my novel Polarity in Motion, is only 16, and she’s in love with Ethan. He’s the character who helps her figure out how her nude picture showed up on the Internet—a photo that she has no memory of posing for.

Sometimes when teenagers say they’re in love, we think it’s just a crush or hormones.  But Polarity says, nope, it’s not a passing teen thing. She’s in love. 

When I want to get a deeper understanding of a character, I use a writers’ technique of interviewing the character. “Dear Polarity,” I wrote. “Why do you think you’re in love with Ethan?  Possibly you’re just grateful to him. After all, he helped you put your life back together after the nude picture fiasco. Or maybe you just have a crush on him—he is so hot!”

Polarity’s answer surprised me and warmed my heart. She not only explained why she loves him, but she went beyond the question I had posed, and described “the moment I knew I would love Ethan forever.” Her answer became the short story by the same title in Tangled Lights and Silent Nights. And the segment is also in the next Polarity book, Polarity in Love, which will be released in 2019.

What was the moment she knew she’d love him forever?  It happens during Christmas season in south Texas and involves a rattlesnake and a ten-year-old girl’s tears. In an incident that both horrifies and amazes Polarity, she sees deeper dimensions of Ethan.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

#NewRelease from Anne Conley, in the Playing With Fire series, Spin the Bottle

Zane has his sights set on the odd little woman with her funny rules. When their first kiss doesn’t end well, he can't understand why she won't give him a second chance. Now he’s seriously determined to make her see they can be explosive together.

Lettie has always believed a kiss will determine how the relationship will go. Her disastrous lip-lock with Zane is a strong indication she's not moving forward with him. He won't take no for an answer, though, and does the sweetest things to change her mind, including opening his home to over fifty animals while she cleans up the smoke damage at the local shelter.

Sparks fly as Lettie does her level best to extinguish their attraction to one another.  At the same time, Zane is doing all he can to fan those sparks into flames.

Spin the Bottle, Playing with Fire #3, is HERE!!!  Grab your copy now at the following links...


Amazon UK-



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Lettie had a theory about men. So far, the theory had served her well. All she had to do was kiss Zane, and however he kissed was what sort of boyfriend he would be. She had ignored Thomas’s lackluster kiss. The carelessness of it should have been a warning for her because that’s exactly what sort of boyfriend he’d been.

The theory had developed in high school. It was a good theory, but she’d had to test it out and actually date the guys she’d kissed to carry the experiment through. Thomas had been a careless kisser, as well as a careless lover, and had certainly been careless with her financial well-being. She wasn’t even going to think about her emotional stuff during their relationship.

Before Thomas had been Cedric. He’d been a sloppy kisser. And a sloppy man. She’d never had sex with him but could only assume he was an equally sloppy lover.

Before Cedric was Ian. Ian’s kisses had been prim and proper, his hands never straying far. 
As they’d done in all things.

The list didn’t go on forever because it was exhausting, and she was Lettie and hadn’t tested it as extensively as a more outgoing woman would have. Since Thomas, she’d vowed to let the kiss do the telling, so how Zane kissed would be how he would be. And she wouldn’t do the dating thing to figure it out this time. She would save herself the trouble.

If she ended up with his damn chewing gum in her mouth, she was done. There was no way.

After Zane’s shoot was finished, he went to a meeting in some back room and was gone for most of the day. By the time they were finished, Lettie was packing up the dogs and cats to go put them back for the day.

“Sorry. You got the paperwork for Otis?” He jogged back to where she was, making it look effortless. It made her a little sick. If she’d jogged through this building, her face would be red, her hair would be flying out of her bun, and she’d have sweat stains in her pits. As it was, Zane just looked gorgeous.

“Yeah.” Lettie dug around in her backpack and came out with a clipboard and an attached pen before looking away. “Fill out the top three pages, and then the bottom two are yours to keep. I’ve got his shot record in my truck. We can get that after I get these guys taken care of.” Which was now. She gathered the remaining dogs’ leashes, having already put the cats and half the puppies in the truck.

It was awkward, walking five dogs at once, but she’d almost made it when Zane met her outside. He took three leashes from her, relieving her burden.

“Can I ask you out again? I really want to take you to dinner.” The heat from earlier was gone from his face, replaced with an earnestness. It was hard to say no.

She sighed. “One thing first.” It was now or never. Raising herself on her tiptoes, she leaned forward, resting one hand with the leashes wrapped around her wrist on his shoulder. His eyes lit up and he lowered his head but stayed still, clearly wanting her to broach the distance.

Strike one. He was making her do the work. It was pretty obvious she was coming in for a kiss, so the least he could do was meet her halfway.

She gently caressed his lips with hers, his cinnamon gum overwhelming her with spicy sweetness. That sort of undid his strike of making her make this move. Hygiene was super important, and Zane seemed to take care of himself. He certainly tasted good.

Lettie went to back up to end the kiss, but Zane’s hand went to the back of her head, holding her in place.

Strike one. Again. Since the first strike was erased with the nice breath, this was the first strike. Right?

Now she didn’t have control over the kiss anymore. So yeah. Strike one. Definitely.

His soft lips molded perfectly to hers as he moved his mouth across hers. That was nice. It might undo the first strike again. He angled her head so he could slant his mouth over hers, and his tongue pressed against her lips.

Pushy. Strike two.

But her body didn’t seem to agree. Her breasts were doing that tingly thing again, and Lettie realized she was pressing against him. Or were the leashes wrapping around them, pressing them together?

He licked the seam of her lips, and Lettie gasped. Taking advantage, Zane swept his tongue in effortlessly. That would be another strike, except Lettie couldn’t think anymore. His cinnamon flavor was spicy and sweet and completely overwhelming. She’d lost count of which strikes had been overridden and which ones stuck, and what were the strikes for anyway?

His tongue was doing unspeakable things to her mouth, and Lettie realized she was clutching his hair as if it were a lifeline. They were tangled in leashes as the dogs danced around them, but neither of them seemed to care. His mouth closed around her bottom lip and suckled, nipping it softly with his sharp teeth.

This was a nice kiss. Better than nice. Her insides were completely exploding, and she was tempted to wrap her legs around him and grind until she got off. She was surprised. Nobody had ever made her lose it like this.

She pressed against him, a gurgle of approval sounding in the back of her throat at the impressive length against her hip. Lettie couldn’t help herself. She squirmed, his answering groan making her skin erupt in gooseflesh.

And then, as if they were reenacting the scene from 101 Dalmatians, the dogs tightened the leashes at the same time someone yelled, “This isn’t the goddamn Love Boat, Romeo!”

Zane’s head snapped back, and they both lost their balance, crashing to the ground in a tangle of arms, legs, dogs, and leashes. Their heads banged together, and Zane crushed Lettie underneath his massive body.

“Jesus! Sorry!”

That was three strikes in one move.
Like that?  Follow me everywhere (or wherever you'd like) for more! And if you haven't gotten the rest of the series, links are here:

Truth or Dare 

Amazon UK


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Hide and Seek


Amazon UK-




Spin the Bottle


Amazon UK-




Hot Lava-Releasing November 6


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Follow on Instagram: anne.conley 

Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she
gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Villains, and why we should love them.

Bad guys come up a lot in romance novels.  If you're writing Romantic Suspense or something else that requires a bad guy, without a villain, it's pretty pointless, yes?  What makes a good villain?  The fact the villain can be good, or at least has some good in him.

Villains are bad to the bone, right?  But there has to be something inside them that's not bad.  Something real, tangible, for the reader to hold on to, some hope of his redemption.  There is the conflict with a great bad guy.

When we read a newspaper article about some senseless act of violence, our natural reaction is to ask, "Why?" isn't it?

Google is full of lovable villains: The Joker, Hans Gruber, Keyser Soze, both of the Terminators (those confused looks are just precious, aren't they?)

Look at Lord Voldemort.  A quintessential bad guy, but we love him.  Why?  There's something there to like.  His background and the reason he is evil, the fact he's a half-blood, even though one of his main goals is to have a pure race of wizards.  And let's not forget he's played by Ralph Feinnes.  He is a fleshed out character in and of his own right, in JK Rowling's fascinatingly backwards way of telling his story.

Another villain we love to hate is Freddie Krueger.  Okay, not everybody loves him, but die-hard horror fans usually have a soft spot for this burned, witty, misunderstood slasher.  Born to a victim of rape (his mother, a nurse in a lunatic asylum having survived overnight in a room filled with maniacs, who brutalized her for hours), bullied as a child, he tried to have a normal life with a wife and child of his own. But ended up succumbing to his own illness and turned to torturing and killing children himself.  Now, most of this is told after the first movie, where he found his initial fame through his scarred visage and interesting implements of fear and torture, the knife fingers.  But he could have been a normal guy, right?  If it hadn't been for the bullying, the circumstances of his conception, or his mental illness.  By the way, if you haven't noticed, most of these slasher/horror bad guys have a backstory that comes out sometime in the second movie, so the viewer can hold on to something to make them like the bad guy.

Okay, that was far out there.  Let's do Dracula, instead.  He seduces his victims with his charm, he has the ability to live forever (who the hell would really want that, that in and of itself is pitiful), and his survival depends on the death of others.  Not that it makes him likeable per se, but it does give keep one from hating him totally. He's likeable in his charm and the circumstances which make him play into the victim profile as much as the villain.

So, what's all this about?  Great bad guys have a reason to be bad.  Not that they don't deserve the stake to the heart or whatever, but there's an arc to them, a resignation to their fate that comes about with their story.  Someone once said every bad guy is the hero of his own story.  So what's your bad guy's story?