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Dragon Gold Release Date

My plan is to release Dragon Gold: A Tale Untold this Wednesday, August 23rd. That gives my advance readers a little more time to finish the book, and me a little more time to make last-minute edits.

And I’m starting work on the sequel to A Bear Comes to Town this week. It’s going to be called A Bear Runs This Town, and it’s going to focus on Cole Blackbelt, Ben’s brother. I intend for this series to be a trilogy, and my goal is to finish it by the end of the year. Then I might revisit dragon shifters, but in a slightly different setting than Xandakar. I have some ideas for an open-ended fantasy romance series that I’ll be outlining and thinking about over the next few months. Somewhere in there, I would also like to work on Plate Lunch, a romance/cookbook set in my home of Southern Louisiana. Not sure when I’ll get to that.

But I’ll follow up here on Wednesday to announce the launch of Dragon Gold.

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I’m Still Here

Sorry for the long gap in updates! But I’m still here and still writing.

March was a pretty bad month for productivity. It’s easy to get distracted when all the motivation has to come from inside you. I don’t actually want a boss looming over me telling me what to do, but sometimes I have to admit that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Anyway, I’m back in full force now. Last month, I only got about 25% of Dragon Gold written. I’m going to finish it in the first 2-3 weeks of April, and hopefully publish it by the end of the month. I’m also probably going to put this one up for pre-order and see how that goes. I’ll probably try the strategy of pricing it for 99 cents during the pre-order period, and maybe the first few days of release before hiking it up to $2.99. I’ll update everyone when the pre-order goes live.

And I’ll also try to do a better job of blogging here.

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A Bear Comes to Town is Finished!

Yay! Another book complete. I don’t know if authors feel the same thing I do when they finish a book. I’ve heard the biggest doubts occur at the 25% and 75% mark. But I have to say that I mostly feel good about a book while I’m writing it. When I’m done. I should feel relief and happiness, but that seems to be when I’m most doubtful about how good it is. I do feel relief, though. The first draft is completely, and I just need to work on edits now. I had really hoped to get the book out to my ARC team by now, but obviously that didn’t happen. So I’m going to try to get it sent out early next week. Tuesday seems pretty reasonable. I’m going to start doing some rough outlines for Dragon Gold while I work on edits for ABCTT. Part of my wonders whether I should have waited on the BookBub until the final book was complete, but I actually think the timing was fine. Hopefully those that read through the entire series will be finishing up just as the 5th and final book comes out.

And speaking of BookBub, it’s definitely the real deal. I’m not experiencing phenomenal success (yet!), but a little over halfway through the month I’m already double any previous month in income. Again, I’m really glad I went wide. iTunes in particular has been great the past couple of days, but Barnes & Noble and Kobo have both been pretty strong. The ratings have dipped a bit, mostly on Goodreads, for Dragon Blue. But I’m going to focus on those readers that like my stuff (you can’t please everyone!) and try to keep giving them what they want.

So far, my overall strategy is working. It looks like it’s going to be an incremental grind on the path to supporting myself full time with writing, but I really feel like it’s possible and that I’m going to get there.

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BookBub Update

Today the rest of the data came in from yesterday’s BookBub on Dragon Blue. I got a little under 3,000 downloads on iTunes, and 18 sales on the other books. All-in-all, that puts me above the 23K downloads BookBub, ¬†estimated for the promo. and I’ve already made my money back. Whether or not it’s going to be a career-changer, we’ll see. It’s definitely going to get me a lot more exposure in the near-term. Whether or not the revenue will keep flowing, we’ll see. The book peaked at a high of #7 overall among free books on Amazon, which is great. It’s already slid back down to #11. I’m curious to see how well it sticks and what sales look like over the next week. The ratings are taking a hit on Goodreads. It’s kind of a shame, but it also seems inevitable. This was my first shifter romance. I feel like each subsequent book, I learn more and the storytelling gets better. But Dragon Blue is my lead-in to the series, so as the weakest book, it’s also not that effective a hook. I guess my next series should perform even better.

I’m almost done with A Bear Comes to Town. I’d planned on that being either a stand-alone or a 3-book series. I can now see how the longer a series is, the more potential it has to generate money from something like a BookBub promo. But I still plan on releasing my latest book at $2.99 wide and seeing how well it performs. Time to get back to writing…

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Wrapping Up January

Just a few updates…

January is going to earn me more than any previous month, but it’s still not a lot. But as long as I’m making incrementally more money every month, I think I’ll get there. It may just take a while. That said, I’ve got the BookBub lined up for Valentine’s Day. I’m really hoping that’s going to be a game-changer, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much.

Work is proceeding on A Bear Comes to Town. I like my characters and the basic set-up, but a lot of the plot details are still kind of murky. My brain hasn’t let me down so far, so I’m confident I’ll be able to find a way through to the end. I do know how it’s going to end, so that’s good.

The Time-Traveling Outlaw just rotated out of Kindle Unlimited, so I’m in the process of pushing it out wide to all available retailers. It’s already on B&N and Kobo, but iTunes and all the others take a little more time. I know it’s got it’s flaws, but TTO will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first full-length romance novel. I was really proud of the way I plotted that one. Some of the other elements are maybe really rough, but like I’ve said before, I feel like plotting is my strong suit. I feel like TTO has a really solid story at its core, and finishing it was a huge boost of confidence.

Okay, off to write about bears!

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Trickling Wide

So you don’t just “go wide”. It takes some time. I had to wait for Dragon Red to stop being available in Kindle Unlimited. Once it dropped out (on Sunday), I published it and Dragon Green to Barnes & Noble and Kobo. It took a couple of days for them to be approved, but now they’re both available via those stores. The links for my books on this page have been updated.

I futzed around with iTunes trying to publish through them, and whew, it was not fun. It’s basically worth the 10% cut of an service like Smashwords not to have to deal directly with Apple. So I’ve published books 2 and 3 through Smashwords. They’re still waiting on approval. Then they’ll be pushed out to iTunes and a number of smaller stores. Hopefully that should only take another day or two. It would be nice for them to become available by the time I publish Dragon Black, Dragon White. That’s slated for release this Thursday, January 19th.

I plan to do the same thing with DBDW, publishing direct through B&N and Kobo and using Smashwords for everything else. Once it releases on all the major platforms, then I plan on planning another marketing blitz on the first book. Fingers crossed. If the entire series falls flat on all the non-Amazon stores, I’m going to be a little depressed, but I’ll deal with it.

In the meantime, I’m getting good feedback on DBDW. My ARC readers are great, pointing out little typos here and there and already leaving reviews on Goodreads. It’s already up to 15 reviews as of this morning, which is pretty nice.

I’m going to start a new book today, though I’m still not 100% on what. I may start a couple of new projects this week and just let the muse decide. I keep reading posts in another forum about how people killing it with contemporary romance. And that’s a little strange to me. I had asked for feedback about my progress a while back, and some authors suggested that paranormal romance was too hard to crack into. The whole point of writing to market seemed to be to find a niche that has a high demand but not quite enough supply. One way to do that is to look at the spread of rankings in the top 100 in a subcategory. Currently, the 100th-ranked book in Contemporary Romance is ranked #420 overall in the Kindle store. But the 100th-ranked book in PNR is #1631 overall. So they’re both wildly popular subcategories, but if anything, PNR should be easier to break into. So the advice to write contemporary seems at odds with the concept of writing to market.

Anyway, I’ll figure out what to write this week and keep you all updated.

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Dragon Black, Dragon White ARCs Go Out

I’ve finished the fourth book in the Dragonlords of Xandakar series. Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night went out to my ARC team this morning. Whew, that title is a mouthful! But I wanted the fourth book to be about the black and white dragons falling in love, and I think both the title and the story work well. We’ll see how the ARC readers react.

Oh, here’s the cover:

So I’m shooting for a release date of Thursday, January 19th. Monday I plan to publish Dragon Red and Dragon Green wide to iTunes, B&N, and Kobo. The free version of Dragon Blue has gotten thousands of downloads on those platforms, and I’m pretty interested to see what sales (if any) look like on non-Amazon sites. Last month was my best month, even without two books in the series enrolled in KU. I feel like it was a good decision. It certainly sits well with me philosophically. I don’t really like the idea of being exclusive. Competition seems like a good thing. And I also like the idea of my stuff being available to as many readers as possible.

As far as what to work on next…I was pretty sure I was going to work on a bear shifter book next, though I think I’m going to take tomorrow and the weekend to think about it a little more. I know I definitely need a break from Xandakar. I’ve been writing these books non-stop for the past 4-5 months, and while the idea of wrapping up the series is appealing, I really think switching gears will make me more excited to return to this world and finish it up after a little “break”. I mean, I’ll still be writing, but it will be something slightly different.

Other than the bear book, which I’ve got a reasonable outline of already, I kind of want to work on a contemporary romance. I do like BDSM, and there always seems to be an audience for 50 Shades type of material. But one concern I have is alienating my reader base. At this point I’ve done a pretty good job of building up a newsletter based on the types of stuff I’ve written so far. I’m not sure how far out of shifter/paranormal fans of a particular author are willing to go. There are a lot who like a wide variety of books, to be sure. But I think part of being successful is also fulfilling reader expectations. I know when an author I really like writes something I totally wasn’t expecting, it can sometimes be a little off-putting. Anyway, like I said, I’ll think about it over the weekend.

And of course I’ll update the links to all my books when they go live on the other sites. I decided not to do a pre-order for this one, but I’ll definitely announce when it goes live as well. Stay tuned!

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Edit Time

The fourth book in my dragon shifter romance series, Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night, is done. Well, the first draft is anyway. Now it’s time for editing. That should take the early part of this week. And then I’ll send it out to my ARC team. I’m thinking of trying a week-long pre-order this time around. I kind of feel like with the later books in the series it makes more sense. Anyway, we’ll see.

The book came out at right around 54K words. Not sure what the final count will be with edits. I usually cut about as much as I add, but I’m not sure this time around. I think I need to add more tension and early dislike between my two leads, and I’m not sure how well I handled that in the first draft. I was going for a classic opposites-attract vibe. He’s from a poor family living in the swamps. She’s spoiled royalty, living a rich, pampered life. Each one thinks the other is arrogant and intolerable. But when the world goes haywire, they’re thrown together and forced to journey across the whole of Xandakar to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Along the way, they start to grudgingly respect each other, then like each other, then of course fall in love. Handling that transition is tricky, and I admit that for me it’s probably the hardest part about writing romance. I’m really going to focus on it in the rewrites and hopefully it will come out all right.

I’m going to put the book on pre-order at the same time I send it out to my ARC team, so I’ll announce that here when it’s ready.

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Down the Home Stretch

I’m nearly finished with the first draft of Dragon Black, Dragon White. I should be done by tomorrow, or Monday at the latest. Then it’s editing time. So I’m looking to send the advance copies out to my team by mid-to-late next week. I’m pleased with the overall story structure, but the particulars are going to need a lot of fine tuning. You never know until you start looking back at the draft. I don’t do that until the whole book is complete. It’s too tempting to start revising and then you can get bogged down tinkering instead of finishing.

So I’m looking at a release date somewhere around the 17th-20th. Dragon Red falls out of KU on the 14th, and I feel like the third week of this month is going to be a key turning point in my plans going forward. The free version of Dragon Blue already has¬†thousands of downloads on iTunes, Kobo, and B&N. If the sell-through of the series is decent, I could be looking at a nice boost in revenue from those other sources. If the sales fall flat on those other platforms, then I’ll have to rethink my whole strategy. I plan on reapplying for a BookBub. If that falls through, I’ll still push on with some other paid promos to boost Dragon Blue‘s visibility around the launch of the 4th book and the release of books 2 and 3 on the other platforms. I’m really hoping for at least a 25-30% increase in revenue through those other channels, but we’ll see.

I’m going to at least write the first chapter of the 5th and final book in the series, entitled Dragon Gold: A Tale Untold. I’ll included it as a bonus at the end of DBDW. But I think I’m going to take a deep breath and think about what to work on next. I don’t want to limp across the finish line with this series. I think writing another novel in a different setting will likely give me the needed space from the series to recharge the creative batteries a little and finish the last book stronger. I’ve been thinking a lot about a trilogy of bear shifter stories set in a small Texas town. I like the worldbuilding that goes along with writing fantasy, but it can sometimes wear you out a little. If you write something set in contemporary America, you don’t have to conjure up every little detail of an imaginary world. That stuff is already there for you. You just have to describe it well. And then you can focus on stuff like the plot, the characters, and their relationships.

I’m not completely decided, though. I’m going to take a couple of days after hitting the publish button on DBDW to see how my publishing strategy is working. And I also plan to do a little more reading and research to see what people are most interested in reading right now. But so far I’m excited for 2017. I think that at least for my own writing career, it’s going to be a good one.

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Year-End Wrap-Up and Goals for 2017

When I look back on 2016, I’ll think of it as the year that I finally got serious about making a career out of writing. Whether or not I’ll actually be able to support myself as a full-time writer remains to be seen, but I feel like I’ve grown and learned an immense amount this year. I also feel like I’m poised to make it if I keep doing what I’m doing and things fall into place.

I wrote about 300,000 words of fiction this year, including 4 full-length novels, plus a 5th that’s almost done. Lightning didn’t strike and I didn’t hit it big. It’s been a slow grind so far, but there has been a slight, steady upward trend. That’s certainly better than the alternative. I have two very straightforward goals for 2017:

  1. Publish 10 novels. Pretty clear-cut. I know I can keep up the same pace that I maintained through the last half of 2016, and that’s a 50K-word novel about once a month. The common wisdom is that one key to success in this industry is being prolific, with fast release schedules. If you’d told me even two years ago that I could produce that much prose that quickly, I would have said no way. But sticking to a disciplined regimen and planning well has allowed me to write more than I thought possible. I know I can meet this goal and that if I’m going to be successful, I need to meet this goal. Which leads me to the second goal.
  2. Earn at least $10K from writing. Up until now I haven’t kept very good records, because the dollar amounts are not that serious. But the amount I’m earning from my writing is increasing month-over-month. Going wide already feels like the right strategy, and that’s without even releasing the rest of the Dragonlords series on other platforms. Starting in the middle of January, books 2 and 3 will no longer be rolled in KU, and I can take them wide. I’ll also have the 4th book out at that time. Then I’ll be able to go full-throttle on promoting book 1. Dragon Blue has already gotten a solid amount of downloads on iTunes and Kobo, and I think I can probably do reasonably well with sell-through on those platforms. I wanted to already be making a little more on a monthly basis by now, but I feel reasonably confident that I can start generating between $800-1000 per month once I can release all my books for sale on all platforms.

I think these are good goals because they’re a little aggressive, but not outright crazy. They’re definitely attainable. I want to try to get a BookBub in 2017 as well, and I think that would go a long way towards helping me meet my financial goal.

In addition to maintaining a high word count, I also want to increase the quality of my work. I try to listen closely to what readers are saying about my books, and I want to make them as happy as possible. You can’t please everyone, but you can definitely do your best to produce a high standard of quality. I want to grow my newsletter and friends/followers on all social platforms. I didn’t realize when I started getting seriously into all this how wonderful and supportive a lot of romance readers and writers really are. It’s a great community and one that I’m loving being a part of.

So if you read one or more of my books this year, I just want to say thank you. That’s really what this is all about, sharing stories that make people happy. And if you’re reading this, I hope the end of 2016 finds you well and that you have a wonderful new year.