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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Click Publish

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

The day to upload manuscripts and covers will arrive too soon and not soon enough. To prepare for that day, the author needs to set up accounts at the retail platforms she’ll be using for distribution. Some only require twenty-four hours or less for activation. Others take a week or longer.

Plan ahead. Decide which outlets to use (KDP, Nook Press, iBooks, Kobo, ARe, CreateSpace, etc.) and gather the necessary information to create accounts (tax ID number—SSN or EIN, routing number for bank account for direct deposit, publisher name, etc.). Also allow time to apply for LLC or corporation status and an EIN (employer identification number) for tax purposes, if choosing that business model.

Once the accounts are set up, the manuscript and cover can be uploaded and book information can be completed. Be sure to complete all mandatory information and check the required boxes.

For e-books: ALWAYS use the preview option to check formatting before clicking the publish button. Make corrections and adjustments, if necessary, and upload the corrected version. Spacing can be affected by conversion to the retailer’s format. Also be sure to follow the recommended formatting guidelines to avoid problems during the upload process.

For print: ALWAYS order a proof copy for print books. Colors often appear differently on-screen vs. on paper. Be certain the cover adheres to size specifications to avoid delays caused by an improperly designed cover. The interior content must be in the correct format and print-ready. Remember that the print version also must have a different ISBN from the e-book version.

Several retail platforms offer a pre-order option, which means the book may be purchased before the release date but is delivered on release day. Or simply click publish to make the book available for immediate purchase and delivery.

Some publishing platforms can be utilized through a third-party retailer—such as All Romance eBooks, which distributes to iBooks, and Smashwords, which distributes to iBooks, Kobo, and other global retailers. Author uploading to iBooks requires a Mac and iTunes Producer software, so those authors with PCs must either go through another retailer with iBooks distribution or find someone with a Mac to upload directly.

When all information fields are completed and the cover and content have been reviewed, the book can be published. The book will be available on the retail site after the retailer reviews the book. This process can take from less than half an hour to several days. Most, but not all, retailers send an email notification when the book is available for purchase.

Another step on the To-Do List is completed! Check off #11.

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book. 
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipe Time! Blueberry Pie

Thanksgiving is this week, and it's one of my favorite holidays. Good food, family time, and a reminder to be thankful. I'm contributing my usual pies and homemade noodles to the feast, so I thought I'd share the recipe for one of the pies I'm making. Enjoy!

I'm also visiting Jillian Jacobs' blog today, talking about Just Desserts, sharing a few secrets, and giving away an e-book copy here! Stop by and say hi! Comment below by Monday. Dec. 1, for a chance to win a copy of Just Desserts!

Blueberry Pie
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, washed and drained
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
double crust for 9-inch deep-dish pie plate

Combine blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Pour into bottom crust. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Crimp and cut steam slits. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes until crust is nicely browned.

Never Fail Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening. Combine egg, water, and vinegar. Pour liquid into flour mixture and blend with a fork. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour. Divide dough into three parts. Roll on lightly floured surface to fit desired size. Fill and bake according to filling directions.
Makes 3 single crusts or 1 double crust and 1 single crust.

Enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Nicki Rae

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Another Indiana author is visiting today! Nicki Rae is here to share a peek at her book Damaged Perfection and tell us about her writing process. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy!

Blurb:
Guilt.
It rules my life.
I am riddled with it.
After fifteen years, you would think it would lessen.
It hasn’t.
Drugs numb it.
Women relieve it.
But it always comes back.
Always.
The light.
I keep reaching for it.
But it is always just out of my grasp.

Buy Links:
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00P6KULUI
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P6KULUI
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00P6KULUI
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00P6KULUI

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Nicki: I have always loved books and have always wanted to write one of my own. It wasn’t until this year that I finally decided to just do it and I am so glad that I made that leap. With a tiny nudge from my aunt and the support of my family, I began writing my first novel, Lather, in January. On November 3rd, I released my second novel, Damaged Perfection. If you would have asked me this time last year if I would be a published author, I would probably have laughed at the idea. I love words and figuring out how to manipulate them into describing the scene that I see in my head.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Nicki: I can definitely see writing being a great career for me. I do have a day job, but whatever book I am working on at the time is constantly on my mind. Every new situation that I encounter is a potential story. Long story short, I am not a very good 9-5 employee as my mind is always going.

Me: This book is the first in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection is Part One of The Perfection Series. Although I LOVE to read series, I have decided that after I finished this series and put an end to my Moore series (The first series I wrote) I will be concentrating more on single titles. I am not saying that I will never write a series again but they are a lot of commitment and at this point I believe I want to concentrate on a single book at a time.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection is told from dual points of view; Piper and Fenton share the spotlight in this one. Piper is a strong female lead. While she is trying to find her way in her brand new career, she has strong morals and not much can make her stray. Fenton has some issues and doesn’t handle them very well. Although he wants to change, it is just too difficult for him. I believe he has good instincts about people; he reciprocates the treatment he is given. It is very evident from the moment you meet him that he has demons and I think throughout the book he grows with each new situation that he faces.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Nicki: There are a couple messages that I wanted to portray. I don’t want to give too much away but the main focus is how much drugs can not only affect the addict’s life but also their family. This brings me to my second message: family. It is important that each person in a family unit know their role and how devastating it can be if you do not follow through. You have to understand how quickly a bad situation can snowball if you sit back and just watch.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Nicki: Chemistry draws Piper and Fenton together, even when they both fight it. What keeps them together is how much they are able to help each other when one or both of them weren’t even aware they needed it.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Nicki: Damaged Perfection was initially Flawed Perfection. I just happened to be searching Amazon one day and found another novel with the same title so I had to change it. Although at first I thought flawed fit Fenton better, once I finished the novel, it was very evident to me that he was much more damaged. Thus the title, Damaged Perfection, was born.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Nicki: I think the shower and driving are two very good places to think through your plots. I almost always have a notebook on my nightstand because I wake up at all hours of the night with a new plot twist or some new kind of drama that will make the read better.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Nicki: Currently, I am working on Part Two in The Perfection Series. I also have a few stand-alone titles that I am anxious to get started. I love action along with my drama as I am a suspense junkie. So, I have been researching and plotting out a book about a super hot sniper. I cannot wait to get to that one!

Author Bio:
Nicki is the author of Lather, the first book in The Moore Series and Damaged Perfection Part One of the Perfection Series. She is a born Buckeye turned Hoosier who loves to spend time with her family. Along with being an avid reader, she also loves her animals and the Indianapolis Colts!



Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicki-Rae/513751432069691?ref=hl
Twitter: @authornickirae
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102638192147361865899/posts
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicki-Rae/e/B00L776A9A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416164658&sr=8-1

Thanks for visiting with me, Nicki, and thanks to the readers who stopped by! Be sure to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 26, for a chance to win a copy of Damaged Perfection!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Book Pricing

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Self-published authors choose their own Book Pricing, except for print, where a minimum price is required by CreateSpace. Some authors base their prices only on the length of the books. Others price according to similar length books at the retailers. Many set prices by the royalty rate. Whatever the method, over- and under-pricing books can have an adverse effect on sales.

Over-pricing...
Yes, authors should value their work. However, setting a book’s price higher than the average cost of similar works can mean lost sales, especially for new authors. Readers (buyers) are unlikely to take a chance on someone they have no experience with if the price is above what they normally pay for their auto-buy authors’ books.

Under-pricing...
The days of the free and ninety-nine-cent one-click are fading. Readers (buyers) have come to realize that many self-published books priced below average are often lacking in good writing craft and editing. A well-written and well-edited book is worth more. This strategy doesn’t include temporary sale prices and first-book-in-a series perma-free/perma-sale. When an author has published several books in a series, she may choose to make the first book free or a lower price than the rest to gain additional readers. She typically has an established following and can rely on reviews and word of mouth to attract new readers. The lower price is an enticement to buy more books in the series.

So, how does a new author know what price to charge for her book?

Research the formats. Find comparable length and genre books on retail platforms.

If the most common current selling price for a 90K self-published paranormal in e-book format is $4.99, that’s usually a good indication of an effective price point. Be sure to set the same e-book price for all retail outlets.

Compare trade paperback prices that are same word count and genre to set the print price. CreateSpace computes a minimum selling price for all print books on their platform, which translates to the minimum selling price on Amazon. Currently, $13.99 to $16.99 is the average price range for 80K to 100K trade paperbacks, but genre does influence the price, so be sure to research.

For multi-published authors with a loyal readership, a lower-priced or free first book (permanent or temporary) can be an effective marketing tool. A lower-priced or free book with no others in the series available means the author often gains nothing from the pricing strategy. The reader may love the first book, but she has no second book to buy. With today’s immediate gratification attitude, the reader may or may not be patient enough to wait for the next release. Timing and patience are very important.

Pricing for boxed sets should be set lower than the total cost of buying each book separately. The boxed set concept is based on the buyer getting a better price by buying more than one book at a time. Example: Each book in a three-book series costs $3.99. The total cost to buy them separately is $11.97. The boxed set price can be set from $1.00 to several dollars less than the separate-purchase price. A price of $9.99 is likely to achieve more sales than $11.97 to buy each book.

Do a little research before setting a selling price. The more a book fits the market, the better the chance for success.

Check off #10! The to-do list is getting shorter!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy. 
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon, B&N, ARe/OmniLit, iBooks, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--A.D. Ellis

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! My guest this week is Indiana author A.D. Ellis. She's sharing a look at her Torey Hope series and giving away a e-book to one lucky commenter! Winner receives her choice of For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1; Because of Beckett, A Torey Hope Novel Book 2; Christmas in Torey Hope, A Novella (release date Nov 19). Title will be sent directly to the winner's @Kindle.com address.

Blurb:
Elizabeth Decker views herself as shy, totally average, and pretty much insignificant. She’s nothing special, at least not compared to her little sister, Audrey. Elizabeth is content with her plain and lonely future; she’s too insecure to contemplate a relationship thanks to her sister. Audrey is a bombshell and uses this to get what she wants. She’s a girl who will stop at nothing to control anyone and everything around her. She craves power and doesn’t care if she has to hurt Elizabeth to get it.
Nathaniel Morgan has spent his whole life fighting for his twin brother, Nicholas. Somewhere along the way, he lost himself. Now he’s just getting by. He’s devoted to his family, but emotionally detached from the women he burns through like wildfire. He has no plans of getting into something as complicated and committed as a “relationship”.
Nicholas Morgan has placed the new librarian, Miss Elizabeth, on a pedestal and is begging her to meet his twin brother, Nathaniel. Elizabeth and Nathaniel agree to meet, for Nicky. Both are caught off-guard when unexpected sparks fly between them. This was not in their plans. Will Nathaniel and Elizabeth be able to escape a past that still plagues them? Or, will the past, suspicions, and insecurities come between them one too many times?

**This is a contemporary new adult romance. It should only be read by ages 18+ due to adult themes and situations. This book is a stand-alone but should be read before book 2 in the series.

Buy Link: bit.ly/NickyAmazon
Also available:
Because of Becket bit.ly/BeckettAmazon
A Christmas in Torey Hope Novella bit.ly/ChristmasAmazon

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
A.D.: I got a Kindle for Christmas in 2012 and I was amazed and thrilled with all of the ebooks available! I quickly found so many great indie authors to read. About this time my friend and hair stylist, Jodie, was also finding great indie books and she started telling me I should write a book. That idea grew in my mind for a while and I started seeing story inspiration all around me.
For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1 was born from me watching a sibling pair at church. One of the siblings had special needs and I was fascinated by the love and devotion from the brother. I started wondering if that brother felt burdened or guilty; I wondered what a story about those siblings would look like.
Being a teacher, I see kids being made fun of daily and I work hard to stand up for them and also to teach others to stand up for them. I also focus on helping the offenders understand and maybe learn some empathy for those they are making fun of. Bullying is very real and very hurtful.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
A.D.: Some days, those particularly rough days as a teacher, I’d LOVE to make this a A.D.: career. Then I have a great day at school and realize just how much I’d miss teaching. However, if I could make this a career, I would feel incredibly blessed and I think I would really enjoy having more time to write and focus on being an author.
Right now I sort of have the best of both worlds; I can write on breaks from school while still getting to spend days with my students. Teaching and writing are very similar; good days and bad days, rewarding moments and depressing moments, days when it’s all you can see yourself doing and days you’re ready to throw in the towel. I look at myself as being lucky to be able to do both for now and I feel blessed that I won’t ever be bored with either profession.

Me: This book is the first in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
A.D.: This book is the first in A Torey Hope Novel series. The series starts with For Nicky, A Torey Hope Novel Book 1 and Because of Beckett, A Torey Hope Novel Book 2. My brand new Christmas in Torey Hope, A Novella is coming on November 19. Loving Josie, A Torey Hope Novel Book 3 (projected release date early 2015) will round out the series.
I started writing For Nicky as a single title. About halfway through I realized that one of the characters (the bitchy sister everyone loves to hate, Audrey) needed her own story so I decided to write Because of Beckett.
When I typed the last word of Because of Beckett, I thought for sure I was done and ready to move on, but my readers said they wanted more so I created the Christmas novella
as a way to catch up with the readers’ favorite characters and to also lead into Loving Josie which is the third full-length novel in the series. I’m 99% sure that the series will end with book 3. None of these books have cliffhangers and they are all focused on different (but related) main characters. Because of Beckett link: bit.ly/BeckettAmazon
A Christmas in Torey Hope link: bit.ly/ChristmasAmazon

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
A.D.: Well, the “main” characters as far as the romantic love story are Nate Morgan and Libby Decker. They are great characters. Nate has a history of just losing himself in sex and fighting anyone and everyone who bothers his brother, Nicky. Libby is super sweet but she’s been mistreated by her sister, Audrey, almost her whole life. Their love story is sweet and hot and I absolutely love them together.
But the other “main” character, Nicky, is the story’s namesake and he’s just so easy to love. Nicky is Nate’s twin brother. He was born with some special needs; he speaks his mind, even though his mind remains somewhat childlike in many ways. He’s a dear brother and a dear friend. Much of what Nate, Libby, (and later, even Audrey) do is all “for Nicky”.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
A.D.: When I started this book, I didn’t have a message. When I finished the story, I didn’t think, “Wow, I hope the readers get this message.” But, 99% of my readers report feeling touched by the messages this story conveys. There are a lot of facets of love being explored in this story, in fact in the whole series. In For Nicky, we also learn about the positive and negative power of our words, the importance of standing up for others, and how doing what’s right is really hard sometimes.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
A.D.: Nate and Libby only agree to meet “for Nicky” but they immediately feel drawn to each other even though they are an unlikely match based on their pasts. They are pushed apart by bitch of a sister; they are pushed apart by misunderstanding (which makes the reader so frustrated but it’s a very real-life type misunderstanding and helps to reiterate the importance of communication in a relationship); and they are pushed apart by the healing and growth they both go through. In the end, will what drew them together in the first place be enough to keep them together?

Me: How did you come up with the title?
A.D.: That was the easiest part, honestly. As soon as I had the story in my head, I kept having little scenes playing through my head and the phrase “for Nicky” kept popping up. I had the title long before I had the whole story.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
A.D.: As a reader, I love contemporary romance. I also enjoy a good western/rancher romance. I like some new adult here and there. I know erotica is big and I have been known to read it from time to time, but it’s not my go-to sub-genre.
As a writer, it made sense to me that I’d start with contemporary romance. I NEVER in a million years thought I’d say this, but I’m dabbling a little bit with a paranormal twist in book 3 (coming soon!) I say NEVER because I don’t have a history of much paranormal romance in my reading repertoire. But, book 3 naturally lent itself to the paranormal twist so I let it take off. Once I realized the twist would be categorized as paranormal my first reaction was NO WAY! I sure never saw that one coming!

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
A.D.: It must be a writer thing! I come up with ideas in the shower, while driving, and while running. I also get ideas while just people watching, like at church.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
A.D.: At the time of this interview, I’m about halfway through Loving Josie, A Torey Hope Novel Book 3. I also have about 7 story ideas on the back burner. The next step will be to decide which one to start on next! I want to write unique and interesting stories; I love when readers tell me that my books aren’t the same-old tired storyline they are used to reading.

Bio:
A.D Ellis was born and raised in a small farming town in southern Indiana. An avid reader from the time she learned to read, A.D. could often be found curled up somewhere with her nose in a book. Most of her friends and family were not such book enthusiasts, so A.D. got used to dealing with snickers and joking comments about her constant reading habits.
A.D. had always dreamed of being a teacher. She earned her degree in Elementary Education from Indiana State University in 1999 and her Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis for 15 years. While she’s taught several different grades, fourth grade is where she’s spent the most time; a move to third grade alternative education is on the horizon though. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students may not be as on board with that excitement.
A.D. met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two school-aged children. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and running.
A.D. had always pondered the idea of writing a book, but until recently it was a far off dream. In today’s age of independently published authors, A.D. decided to take a chance and try her hand at writing. She has learned so much during this journey and is having a world of fun with it.

Links:
Website: http://www.adellisauthor.webs.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/adellisauthor
Twitter: @ADEllisAuthor
Google+: http://www.google.com/+ADEllis
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/ADEllisAuthorAmazon

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 19, for a chance to win a copy of one of A.D.'s books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Marketing & Promotion Strategies

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

Preparing Marketing & Promotion Strategies is an important step for each new book. The amount of time and effort put into those strategies will vary from author to author. What works for one may not work for another. Authors can choose marketing and promotion avenues that fit with their schedules and personalities.

Some options include...
Facebook release day parties/events
Twitter parties
Blog tours
Book signings and personal appearances
Announcements/posts on social media
Online advertising
Goodreads giveaways
Special pricing
Thunderclap
Promo posts in Facebook and Google + groups

The list could go on and on. Although marketing and promotion can lead to sales and discoverability, balance is essential. Too much promo in one venue can backfire by turning off potential buyers. All those repetitive Facebook, G+, and Twitter promotional posts eventually become white noise if they aren’t combined with a good dose of the social element of social media. Hourly promo posts for weeks on end can result in lost followers, likes, and friends.

Giveaways and signings are a great opportunity to create swag for marketing purposes. Use book themes and metadata to brainstorm unique ideas for swag items. If wine plays a role in the story, bottle stoppers could form a connection between the item and the book. Use dog tags for military-themed stories or flashlights for scary tales. Pens are popular for author recognition, but paper products, such as postcards and bookmarks, are often discarded. Useful swag items will allow multiple exposures to book and author information, making a positive and memorable impression.

Some promotional strategies can be implemented weeks or months after the book release. Conferences and conventions often have signings as part of the event. Library and bookstore signings can occur at any time. Local and regional self-published author group signings are becoming more common as well. Plan ahead for ways to spark new interest later.

Whatever the methods, think about marketing and promotion from a potential reader perspective. Does the promo come across as a hard sell or spam? Will friends, followers, and group members feel inundated by advertising? Is promo preventing writing time?

If the answer is yes, dial back on the promotion. The next book is the best sales tool!

Don’t check off #10 just yet. Book Pricing is part of selling strategy too!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!


Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Jillian Jacobs

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Jillian Jacobs, another of my IRWA friends, is visiting this week with her first book, Water's Threshold, which releases November 11. She's giving away a print copy of Water's Threshold with a Green Moose Productions refrigerator magnet to one lucky commenter, so be sure to say hi!

Blurb:
What happens when a lonely water-girl finally finds her shore?
In a tourist town at the base of the Tetons, Maya Conway, a mythical being known as an Elemental, stands at a crossroads. On her current path, she is content using her life force—water—to protect humans and the environment. Her direction is altered when Mother Nature taps her to guide Terran Forrester, an analytical scientist, on his journey to become the next Elemental—Earth. If Maya crosses into his world, will her lonely heart find a partner or will his rational mind reject her otherworldly existence? When an ancient evil evolved from dark matter shadows their steps, which path will they choose—logic or love?


Excerpt:
A low beat of classic rock came from the backyard as Maya stood on Terran's front porch. Always one to forge her own trail, she fought the notion that this pull toward him was predestined. Hadn't she, so many years ago, left behind her birthplace to begin a new life? At eighteen, she had traveled across America by train to California. Forever frozen at age twenty-one, she fought the notion this relationship was chosen for her. Fate did not have her at Terran's doorstep-hope did.

At the door's threshold, indecision raced through her mind. Should she cross into his life and get release for this pent-up need, or should she walk away? If she left, could she keep him safe and ignore the pull attempting to anchor her in place? Could she stand still, neither in, nor out?

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Waters-Threshold-Elemental-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00P9UOOQW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415232760&sr=1-1&keywords=Water%27s+Threshold
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/waters-threshold-jillian-jacobs/1120684811?ean=2940150470590
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-water039sthreshold-1664151-140.html
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/water-s-threshold

Interview:
Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him special?
Jillian: I’d like to focus on my villain, Quint, if I may. He’s an entity composed of dark matter who has evolved enough to use humans as hosts. The human body cannot sustain his evil essence for any sustained length of time, because, as dark matter, his form does not mesh well with matter. Due to this issue, he covets the Elementals perpetuating life. He’s very determined to contain, the hero, Terran, because earth is the core of the elements. Air, water, and fire would not exist without earth’s grounding force. Therefore, in Quint’s mind, Earth is the strongest Elemental.
Throughout the story, Quint whips up a strong brew of chaos for entertainment value alone. In his mind, humans are worthless beings, and yet he must foul his dark form in their skin to live and breath. He feels he deserves more and doesn’t have any problem taking it. Quint’s foul deeds keep the pace suspenseful throughout, Water’s Threshold. I hope you enjoy reading him as much as I enjoyed writing him.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Jillian: Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. And, please take care of the earth. It’s the only one we’ve got.

Me: What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Jillian: Destiny draws them together. Terran is destined to become Earth. Maya is Water. Those two elements always join at the shore. Maya is meant to guide him in his new life, but doesn’t quite get the job done before circumstances, pushed along by Quint, force Terran into the Elemental world. As a scientist, Terran finds Maya’s lifestyle incongruent with his rational mind. Terran struggles to accept his new form while Quint creeps closer to his goal.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Jillian: Maya is faced with many choices throughout her long existence. Yet, at the same time, many choices have been made for her. When she stands at each threshold, she has to choose the right path. Once she steps over each line, how can she know if she’s made the right choice?

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Jillian: I’m in final edits for Ember’s Center, the first in my Contemporary series, The O-line. The hero is a professional football player, and NO, he’s not the quarterback. I wrote this series because I feel like all the other players on the team deserve a story. We hear enough about quarterbacks, don’t we?
I’m also in the final chapters of the second book in this Elementals series, which will be Flint and Violet’s story. Fire’s Field is the working title.

Bio:
In the spring of 2013, Jillian Jacobs changed her career path and became a romance writer. After reading for years, she figured writing a romance would be quick and easy. Nope! With the guidance of the Indiana Romance Writers of America chapter, she’s learned there are many "rules" to writing a proper romance. Being re-schooled has been an interesting journey, and she hopes the best trails are yet to be traveled.
Water’s Threshold, the first in Jillian’s Elementals series, was a finalist in Chicago-North’s 2014 Fire and Ice contest in the Women’s Fiction category.
Jillian is a: Tea Guzzler, Polish Pottery Hoarder, and lover of all things Moose.
The genres she writes under are: Paranormal and Contemporary with suspenseful elements.
Thanks, Mellanie for this opportunity to reveal a little more about my story and myself. Side note, Mellanie is a fantastic reference and has been a true writer friend.

Social Media Links:
Website: www.jillianjacobs.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreenMooseProd
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorJillianJacobs

Thanks so much for visiting today, Jillian! Readers, remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 12, for a chance to win a copy of Water's Threshold and a Green Moose Productions fridge magnet!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Release & Writing Tip Wednesday--Creating Metadata

Just Desserts is now available in e-book from Amazon and B&N! Chances are...he'll get exactly what he deserves.

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

One of the most effective ways to make a book discoverable is by Creating and Using Metadata to the author’s advantage.

What is metadata?

Metadata is data (information) about other data. In the case of books, it helps identify elements about each book to guide buyers in their search for a specific genre, topic, etc. A math textbook may be tagged with keywords such as math, textbook, algebra, geometry, quadratic equations, functions, or graphing. Buyers use these words to help locate and identify the math books they want.

Broad keywords will produce a broad spectrum of books from which to search. Rather than using “romance” to search for a book, searchers can be very specific in their keywords, choosing “contemporary romance” or “foodie romance” to narrow the search results. Adding more keywords will yield even more-defined results. Example: foodie romance, contemporary, pastry chef, small town, blackmail, librarian, bake-off.

Retail platforms allow the author to submit a limited number of metadata words and phrases with each book. Choosing great keywords helps readers find the types of books they want to read.

Make a list of possible search words and phrases. Genres and subgenres are the most obvious choices, but since retailers include genre and subgenre in their upload process, they’re part of the metadata. Why waste those limited words and phrases on something that’s already part of the search? The exceptions—KDP currently only offers “Erotica” rather than a separate erotic romance category, and erotica encompasses a very wide variety of romance levels, including none at all. If the book fits a defined niche that isn’t listed in the category choices, that description should be added to the metadata list.

Many keywords can come from the creation of blurbs and taglines. Plot points and storylines provide excellent search words—class reunion, music, ice skating, rugby, aging parents, deaf hero. The more specific the words and phrases, the more likely the book will be near the top of the search results when a searcher uses those terms.

Metadata also includes the book title, series name, author name, publisher, and any other information included in the retail site’s upload and publishing process. Every piece of information in the retailer’s book information form is metadata. These keywords automatically become part of the searchable database.

While characters’ occupations can be included in metadata, avoid adding words that suggest a topic that isn’t a part of the story. Example: The heroine is a psychologist, but “psychology” implies expertise that may or may not be in the book. Misleading tags waste readers’ search time and may result in the loss of potential readership. This also applies to choosing categories. A work of fiction with a psychologist character doesn’t belong in the “nonfiction-->psychology” category. Be creative, but also be truthful.

The metadata list is ready. Check off #9!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media. 
9) Create metadata list. 
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Donya Lynne

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! IRWA author friend Donya Lynne is visiting this week and giving us a peek at her upcoming release, Coming Back to You, book 2 in the Strong Karma series! It's currently available for pre-orders on Amazon (see the link below the excerpt) and releases November 6. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a signed print copy!

Donya also has a special message for you...
November is National Anti-Bullying Month, and the week of November 17-21 is Anti-Bullying Week. To help stand up against bullying in our schools, I’m doing two things. First, I’m running a Thunderclap campaign to raise awareness. I’m not asking for money, just support, which is as easy as a couple of mouse clicks. Please support my campaign by clicking on the link http://thndr.it/1rJztBq and supporting via Facebook or Twitter. The second step I’m talking to fight bullying is that I’m donating 10% of November royalties of the first two books in my Strong Karma Trilogy, Good Karma and Coming Back To You, to Stand for the Silent, and organization that is dedicated to stopping bullying in our schools. My hero and heroine in those books suffered bullying as children, which makes them excellent choices to support the cause. You can also donate directly to Stand for the Silent. Their link can be found at my Thunderclap link.

Blurb:
Karma Mason is a woman with a broken heart. Mark Strong was everything she ever wanted in a man…until he drove out of her life last summer. Now she must learn to live without him, or to at least compartmentalize her feelings so she can move on. Eventually, she takes another chance on the dating scene and meets Brad, a handsome divorcé. Maybe he doesn’t curl her toes the way Mark did, but unlike Mark, Brad has no aversion to commitment. Within months, they’re engaged, and Karma feels she’s finally put Mark behind her.
After being left at the altar seven years ago, Mark swore he would never fall in love again. Then he met Karma, who found a way inside his heart. But after spending four enchanting months with her, Mark succumbed to old fears and ended their affair before returning to Chicago. Now, he can’t stop thinking about her. He desperately wants her back, but can he give her the commitment she deserves? Torn between his heart and his mind, Mark leaves the decision to fate. If he and Karma are meant to be together, fate will bring her back to him.
But fate is a cruel mistress. When Mark is offered a job at the company where Karma works, he thinks fate has finally come through. But the ring on her finger, as well as her angry reception, aren’t what he expected. Unless Mark can convince Karma he’s back for good—for her—he will lose her forever.

Excerpt:
In her car in Solar’s parking lot, Karma stared at the diamond ring on her finger. She had never seen the proposal coming, and yet, yesterday, at her parents’ Labor Day cookout, Brad had asked her to marry him.

Everyone had just finished chowing down on burgers, baked beans, and potato salad while sitting around the large patio table when Brad addressed her dad.

“Mr. Mason, I’d like to ask you something.”

“Please,” her dad said, “call me John.”

Dad liked Brad. At least he acted like he did. Karma thought he was just happy that she’d finally moved on from Mark, which was why he was overly welcoming when she’d shown up at the cookout with Brad. Her dad had heard about him for months, but this was the first time they’d actually met.

Brad offered a deferential smile. “John then, I’d like to ask you something.”

“Sure, ask me anything.”

Across the table, her brother Johnny, whose behavior was much improved from last summer, bounced his one-year-old daughter on his knee. Johnny’s wife, Estelle, looked on. Both had been surprisingly quiet and polite, but Karma knew the peace could only last so long. Johnny would eventually show his ass again.

Brad took her hand and squeezed. “John, I’ve been dating your daughter for six months.” He paused as she turned and gave him a quizzical look. What was he doing? “I love her, and, with your permission, I’d like to ask her to marry me.”

Thud! Marry him? Where had this come from? She’d never seen this coming.

Her mom uttered a soft squeal and covered her mouth as her eyes lit up. Johnny stopped bouncing his baby. A slow grin spread over her dad’s face as he clasped his hands under his chin.

“Brad, I can think of no one better to marry my daughter.” He pointedly met her gaze, his meaning clear. He was ready for the Mark Strong chapter of her life to be officially over. Marrying Brad would guarantee that.

Brad pulled a diamond ring from his pocket, scooted back in his chair, and got down on one knee. “Karma, with your dad’s blessing, and in front of your family…” His whole face beamed as he poised the ring at the tip of her finger. “Will you marry me?”

She stared at him, her hand in his. Everything about this moment was perfect. Wasn’t it? She glanced around the table at her family. This was what she wanted, right? She wanted to be married. She wanted a husband, a family, and a life where she was no longer alone.

As she took a deep breath and nodded, a tiny burst of alarm resonated in her soul. She brushed it aside, forcing herself to leap forward rather than stay rooted in the past. Even after a year apart, Mark’s memory still rested in the back of her mind. She was beginning to think she would never completely get over him. But the Mark she still thought about from time to time was the Mark she wanted him to be, not the Mark he really was. She had to keep reminding herself of that. And she couldn’t let her life stall out on a fantasy.

Case in point. Brad was offering her the future she wanted. She would be silly to refuse.

“Yes, Brad. Yes, I’ll marry you.” She was striding forward, furthering herself a little bit more from her memories of Mark.

Brad had slid the diamond onto her finger and hugged her. Even her brother had congratulated her. Surprise, surprise. Maybe there was hope for him to grow up yet.
Karma broke from her thoughts when her phone chimed, planting her back inside her car. She quickly gathered her purse and
bag and hopped out. She’d sat so long reliving Brad’s proposal she was now officially late.

Oops.

She rushed up the sidewalk and into the lobby as her phone began ringing again.

“Good morning, Nancy.” She rushed past the receptionist.

As she took the stairs to the second level, she fished through her purse for her phone. At the top of the stairs, she finally pulled it free and checked the screen.

Lisa. Why was Lisa calling her?

Darting down the hall to her desk, she slapped her phone to her ear. “Lisa, what’s up? Sorry it took so long to answer. I’m running late. God, I need to talk to you.” She had yet to tell Daniel and Lisa that Brad had proposed.

“Karma! Will you shut up! I need to tell you something.”

Sheez! What was up with Lisa?

Karma dropped her bags on the floor at her desk and booted up her computer. “Fine. Sorry. What?”

At that moment, the door to Don’s office opened.

“Ah, there she is,” Don said, gesturing toward her.

Lisa was still talking in her ear. “Karma, don’t freak out, okay, but…”

Everything fell into slow motion. The earth dragged to a near standstill on its axis. Lisa’s voice sounded like she was talking through a layer of cotton. And Karma was sure her chin hit her desk as her mouth fell open.

“Mark’s here!” Lisa hissed. “In Don’s office. Right now.”

Karma almost dropped her phone as her gaze met Mark’s for the first time in a year.

“I know,” she murmured and hung up.

And just like that, in the time it took for a light to come on once the switch was flipped, all her hard-fought efforts
to get over him vanished.

He was back. Mark was here.

And didn’t her wildly beating heart know it.

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1wgcxjD (currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Will be available everywhere on November 6)

Interview:
Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Donya: Yes. I’ve been writing since I was in grade school, and for the last fifteen years, I’ve worked toward becoming a published author. My goal was to retire and write, but when I lost my job in 2010, and could find another job, I decided now was the time to make my dream come true.

Me: This book is the second in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Donya: I like both series and single title stories, but I lean toward series. I think that’s because I can see so much more happening that won’t fit in one book. In my AKM Series, which is ongoing, there are too many characters who want their own stories to be told. In the Strong Karma Trilogy, the characters had three distinct story arcs to tell. I’m currently working on book three, Full Circle, which should be out early next year.
With that said, single title stories are fun and a nice break from having to keep facts and details straight among many books. With a stand-alone, it’s one shot and it’s over. I have a couple of stand-alone titles I’ll be releasing in the next few months.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Donya: Mark Strong is a man obsessed with maintaining control over his life. This wasn’t my intention, but once I started developing him, I realized he was modeled after my first boyfriend, who had a strict schedule for his life. Everything was planned out years advance, including love. One of the reasons he broke up with me was because he needed to focus on his school work at the Air Force Academy. He loved me, but it wasn’t in his plan at that time to be in love, so I had to go.
This is how Mark is, to some extent. Mark has suffered three traumatic situations with females. The last finally breaks him, and he decides he will never fall in love again, despite a deep longing to find someone special to spend the rest of his life with. So, he’s constantly at war with himself, which he’s learned to hide under a controlled exterior and by telling himself that falling in love is a one-way ticket toward getting hurt again.
When he meets Karma Mason, he doesn’t realize she’s going to shatter his hard-fought control until it’s too late. By the time he becomes aware that he’s lost his heart to her, she’s already worked her way inside. But Mark wouldn’t be Mark if he didn’t try to wrest back control and manage the situation. That’s where the conflict really begins, and where the fun lies for me as the author.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Donya: When I first got the inspiration for the Strong Karma Trilogy, the idea of karma and what goes around comes around was what grabbed me. Not only is my heroine named Karma, but there’s a recurring theme of karma “coming back around,” and everything coming full circle. So, the titles in this trilogy all played on that theme. Book one was titled Good Karma. Book two is Coming Back To You. Book three is aptly titled Full Circle.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Donya: I get them from everywhere. I’m very visual, so a lot of times, all I have to see is a picture for a story to spring to life in my head. I’m also a huge music lover, especially of music off the beaten path and a bit eclectic. Sometimes a song will inspire a story or a scene. The real magic happens when a song and picture combine. That happened to me last year when I saw a picture of Ivan Rusilko sitting on a bench in Chicago’s Millennium Park and heard a song by Blank and Jones called Fallen. Other than that, I can get ideas from TV commercials, movies, newspaper articles, TV shows. Everything has the potential to inspire a story or a scene.

Bio:
Donya Lynne is the author of the award winning All the King's Men Series and a member of Romance Writers of America. Making her home in a wooded suburb north of Indianapolis with her husband, Donya has lived in Indiana most of her life and knew at a young age that she was destined to be a writer. She started writing poetry in grade school and won her first short story contest in fourth grade. In junior high, she began writing romantic stories for her friends, and by her sophomore year, they had dubbed her Most Likely to Become a Romance Novelist. In 2012, she made that dream come true by publishing her first two novels and two novellas. Her work has earned her two IPPYs, one gold and one silver, as well as two eLit Awards, also one gold and one silver. Donya has many more novels and novellas planned for years to come.

Links:
Website: http://donyalynne.com/
Blog: http://donyalynne.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDonyaLynne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonyaLynne
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DonyaLynneAuthor/posts
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/entity/Donya-Lynne/B007KQBIV2?ref_=sr_tc_2_0&qid=1414762289&sr=8-2-ent&pldnSite=1

Thanks for visiting, Donya, and thanks for supporting her efforts to fight bullying, readers! Leave a comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 5, for a chance to win a signed print copy of Coming Back to You!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!