On (not) Losing Faith

I’ve wanted to be an author most of my life. This shit is hard.

I love writing. I love writing so much that I did it for free for a long time, and then nearly free after that. The list goes on and on. I had a glimpse of what to expect from this career when I first decided to stop hiding behind ghostwriting. At the time, I was still maintaining my ghostwriting career. Then, a series of unforeseen circumstances pushed me back to square one.

I wasn’t prepared for this to be my only source of income. I wasn’t prepared for the possibility of not having any income.

The harsh reality of writing for a living is that thousands of books die daily because no one ever sees them. I’m happy to say that isn’t the case for me, but not

everyone is so lucky.

Writing for a living takes so much more than just writing.

I’ve been behind the curtain so long that I have to figure out everything else. From building an author platform to which marketing techniques are best for my work, all of it takes a skill set that I am still acquiring. Some days, I am extremely bitter about this.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve done some co-writing as wells as ghostwriting. My co-writer handled all of the marketing, and editing. I handled most of the writing. In the end, she had all the skills to create another great partnership with someone else. I’ve become a better writer because of the work we did together, but I’m less of a business woman because of it.

Design

I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at my craft, but I do have faith. Which in my case is saying a lot. I’m not generally the type to believe in what has yet to manifest in my life.

This time is different. The same way it was with my darlings. Just when I was ready to pretend I never needed them, they arrived.

That is to say, writing is beautiful. Writing for a living is hard. Difficult dreams are worth the difficulty.

So work hard. Work tirelessly for what you want. Not because the rewards are timely, but because you want it. You’ve spent endless hours dreaming it could be real. So, spend endless hours making it real. You can do it. I can do it.

It is okay if no one but you can see it. It is okay is nothing is right about it. If things aren’t falling easily into place, or every turn you take creates another bend in the road. It is okay.

It is your dream, no one has to believe in, work for it, or push passed their insecurities about it but you. But me.

I’m working on understanding perfect timing. I’m working on the realization that things are not going to happen when I want them too and this is no reason for me to quit. My vision for my life is valid, beacuase I say so and because I am willing to keep after it.

Having faith does not mean seeing the whole picture or knowing how things will come together. Having faith doesn’t mean a perfect path or a open highway toward your dream. Having your faith tested, doesn’t at all mean you should give up on your dream.

Work from the place you are, and you will eventually level up.

Just. Keep. Swimming.

I know I’m not the only one with dreams I have to remind myself to believe in. So, what are yours?

Joy.

 

 

Alpha’s Dream and the Marketing Dilemma

In a world of niche marketing the question remains. Where do I fit in?

It seems simple enough to answer, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pick sides for my first release.

The Alpha’s DreamThe Alpha’s Dream is exceeding my expectations. Despite its meager written reviews, the Kindle Unlimited page reads and books purchased assures me that my work is being read.  The numbers look good, better than any of my pseudonym work, and despite my previous doubts I’m confident that my audience is there. I’m proud of it. To see the work taking a life all its own and building momentum is something I’d hoped for. It is encouraging.

As I said before, just because I’ve finished writing doesn’t mean the work is done. It isn’t. The marketing is just as important a part of self-publishing as writing well. Great books die from lack of exposure.  If The Alpha’s Dream is to have perpetual life, then I must ride the waves of my momentum through well chosen marketing strategies.

One method that most authors have found particularly successful is direct marketing. The way it works includes platforms like Bookbub, Booksends, Bookdaily, and other ebook to inbox services. Readers sign-up with an email address for free. They are then prompted to choose the genres they enjoy reading. Everyday, the service will then send books that are free or discounted directly to the provided email and in accordance to the genre’s selected.

For a nominal fee authors can apply for a spot on the mailing lists. Some of the platforms are simple sign-ups while others have strict requirements. Most only allow one identifying genre and they are priced accordingly.

Marketing this ways is a preferred method because of the reach of these mailing lists. The readers have chosen the service and the genres they enjoy. They aren’t spammed with unsolicited newsletters or emails about books they don’t have the slightest interest in.

The service allows maximum exposure for authors to those who enjoy our genre without us having to individually track them down or worse “hope” they find us in the book pit that is Amazon. The one on one contact is a great way to expand into the book scope of our preferred demographic and offers a surge in the possibility of gaining a fan as well as possible sales. Great, right? Brilliant to be exact.

Here is my problem, The Alpha’s Dream is an African- American Werewolf Shifter Romance. So, where is the check mark for that one? Anybody? No. Right.

So here I have these incredible platforms for services I would have to pay for and I am struggling to determine which genre would best identify my work. My audience is both African-American romance readers and Alpha Wolf Shifter (Paranormal)  romance readers. Obviously there is some overlap. The struggle in  picking sides doesn’t come from not realizing this. The apprehension about which to choose comes from an attempt to include my entire audience in one marketing sweep. There is an intense feeling I’m neglecting some readers in order to pursue others.

In some ways, this is an irrational fear. Ultimately, whether or not this should even be a battle I have with myself is irrelevant. One marketing campaign at a time, I must pick a side.

Choosing is never easy.

The Alpha’s Dream is just one representation of that. However, at some point we all must buck up and pick which side best explains our position. Time and time again this surfaces in my life and I assume many others. What remains true is that there will always be a point where we or what we believe is “both”. Deciding to choose “neither” will be a futile decision.

Standing still will never move you forward.

In choosing progress, I weigh my odds and embrace the strongest identity. The Alpha’s Dream is still ” both”, but for marketing purposes it is African- American romance. It has not lessened by being sorted.

In order to become what we are meant, sometimes we must make the hard choice of defining ourselves even when one answer won’t do. If that means that someone will be missed, then so be it. Maybe, it just wasn’t their time to join the fold anyway.

What are some identities you’ve had to choose between? Comment below with how things worked out.

Joy.

 

#KeepinTouch: 5 Reasons you should subscribe to my blog

I’ve been working on my blog as part of my author platform for a while now. The truth is, it’s become so much more.

As I write this, I’m already thinking of what other things I will add to my blog to make it more interactive for my readers. Not just those who read my books, but those who drop by on occasion to keep in touch. I love the alerts when someone likes a post I’ve read or when they send me a message about something I’ve written. It feels good to be connected.

So, I want you to come here more often. I want you to send your friends, your frenemies, and the all that you believe will be interested to my website. I’m more than just books and here are five reasons you should subscribe to my blog and keep in touch.

 

Mama Stories/Wife Things

I’ve only been a mother for three years. I’ve been a wife for nearly eleven years. My years alone with my husband are a very telling part of my being a romantic. My years with my children were the catalyst for me to stop ghostwriting. Already, I’ve gained a lot, learned a lot about myself and the world around me that I didn’t notice until my children were born. Their births kicked my writing into gear and I love it. Often enough, I found myself writing about their influence as I blogged. It has now become a permanent and intentional writing point. I’m a #MamaAuthor. It is a major factor to my work. If you are a mama/ wife who has found yourself influenced by your children or your spouse to commit to your other passions, these stories are for you.

Book updates, snippets and conversations on publishing

My blog came to exist because I am an author. It is a place for readers to connect with my books. So of course, there will be updates for what I am working on, new release information, and soon there will be snippets of works in progress. I write shifter romances with African-American leads. If you are into that sort of thing, subscribe! keeping in contact here will allow a greater chance that you will see what’s coming next, first.

Goal Digging

This is a big thing for me. I’m always working on other projects. It’s not that I just prefer to be busy, but I prefer to expand on my purpose. My blog deals a lot with my goals from the stand point of an author. However, the tools and methods I use can be applied to anything. I’m all for accountability. When I’m writing to you, I am asking you to hold me accountable for the dreams I have made public. When you comment, you are inviting me to do the same. It is a small thing, but a very useful one. Together we can inspire each other toward the lives we all want.

Exclusives and Giveaways

Now that I am getting the hang of this blogging thing I’m offering a lot more. My writing career is officially kicked off and while establishing my dream team, I’m in the process of developing exclusive swag for those who join. In addition, the excerpts and #freshpress work that you find here is exclusive unless otherwise noted. When you come to my website, I want your experience to be one fluid invitation into the creative space of my life. I aim to make that as seamless and welcoming as possible.

We’re All Family Here

You may have stumbled upon my blog. You may have gotten here through a search engine or some other method of funneling. Whatever the way you got here, it is because you were looking for something. So is everyone here. I’m writing African-American centered shifter romances because I couldn’t readily find them when I was looking. Maybe that was what drew you. Stay for the coffee and conversation. Stay for the insights on publishing, and the struggles I face while trying to write what I love. Comment with tips for dealing with anxiety or other ways to balance work and wife/mama life. We’re all connected here. We are all here for a reason and I am working to nurture those reasons for all of us.

There you have it. Five good reasons you should subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already.   You can simply follow me from the site or you can sign up  for my newsletters for updates on the latest going on here and with the books I am publishing. I’m sure you have your reasons for coming. These are reasons to stay. Don’t break my heart. Leave a comment below about some of the things you’ve liked about my growing blog so far. I love to hear from you.

Joy.

 

#OwnIt: My most prominent book launch mistakes

There were mistakes made in my launch. Here’s how I feel about them.

Alright, so you’ve seen my excitement about The Alpha’s Dream being released. It is heaven to see my work finally published and available to those who wanted it. I’ve been stalking my sales, and pages read through Kindle Unlimited almost hourly. Seriously. It’s to the point that my husband has put me on a schedule. He gets me, but he also knows I’m crazy. It’s true love.

Now that I’ve had a little time away, my feelings for my launch are finally sorting. Here comes the part where doing it all on my own takes its honest toll. I worked for months in writing of The Alpha’s Dream. It was originally only supposed to be a 20,000 word novella to open my career. I was nervous about attempting more.

In the end, Nathaniel and Euphoria took on a life of their own. They knew what they wanted, and their story. They desired depth and space to come to terms with the lives they were living through the pages. I was honored…am honored to have done that.

As with anyone, I realize there are limits to  talent. So, even in my writing there were things I had to prepare for in order for my book to be a success. So, I made a plan.

I would write the book. I would then do a secondary edit of the book to fill plot holes and  catch minor grammatical errors. I would then hand the book off to a great editor who would fine tune what was missed. They would return the book to me to make final adjustments.

It was a simple plan with modest expectations and nothing extravagant in terms of what other authors are doing.

I am prone to Murphy’s law. Everything that can go wrong will generally go wrong when it comes down to the wire.

My editor bailed. My secondary choice was great, but not as good. In the 25th hour I ended up doing a lot of it myself. I’m not an editor. I am a writer. It shows in my work.

As I proceeded to go through the work, I cleaned it up as much as I could and pressed forward. It would not be perfect. The flawless finish I wanted did not come. Editors, like authors, have very specific skills. I know my role well, and I know the limits of that role. What I offered was not the pristine product I’d hoped.

To further exacerbate my anxiety, the placeholder copy I used for the pre-order setup was even less perfect. It took several failed attempts to submit the first edition final version of The Alpha’s Dream. However, it was too late to prevent some of the pre-orders from receiving the completely unedited placeholder copy.

I was mortified.

My big launch, my debut to the world was marred by a completely jumbled amateur move. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Immediately, I went into recovery mode. I researched and reached out to those that I could about the copies they received and offered edited versions. I hoped for the best.

The feedback I’ve been getting for The Alpha’s Dream has been predominately positive. When I look at the reviews, I realize that I wasn’t the only one looking for books like I’ve chosen to write. It heightens my desire to create a great work. At this point, all of the Amazon reviews are glowing. The GoodReads ratings, not so much. I Love GoodReads. I love the people represented there are truly just there for the books. So even a two star rating ( at this point I have 2 two star ratings) has a significant purpose.

I see the complaints in my writing and the calls that there are grammatical errors still. It is embarrassing to work so hard and still have some prominent flaws. I sigh. I cringe. I know there is still more work to do. I’m up to the challenge.

In the coming weeks, as I prepare for even more changes in my  personal life I will be looking for another editor to see if I can finally get it right. I want a flawless project and the second edition of The Alpha’s Dream should be that.

Overall, I am still in awe of this process. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have come to terms with my shortcomings. I take my work very seriously.

This isn’t a hobby anymore. It isn’t simply what I do to pay the bills, and when that work is complete it is my responsibility to make sure it is done right. I don’t take that lightly.

As I move forward, looking down the barrel of a new baby, second edition to The Alpha’s Dream, and plot future works I keep in mind that nothing is without hiccups.  I love that The Alpha’s Dream is doing well. I hate that it isn’t perfect, but I am not intimidated about plucking away until I get it right.

What are you guys working on? Anything you’ve taken a second look at? Comment below.

Joy.

The Alpha’s Dream is on GoodReads!

I feel like I’ve just graduated into the big leagues. LOL.

For those of you who absolutely don’t know, GoodReads.com is a site connected to Amazon for readers. It’s sole purpose is about connecting authors, and readers to each other through books. Literally, every genre and subgenre is represented in an inviting way.

In addition to seeing the descriptions of The Alpha’s Dream, it is a great way for you connect with me. Ask me a question about my process or the book. Check out my bookshelves as I slowly fill them with things I’ve read or plan to read. You can even recommend books to me and keep me accountable to my 2017 reading goals. (I’m already 20 books behind, technically.)

I’ve finally added The Alpha’s Dream to  Goodreads. It feels both strange and wonderful. The network itself is not complicated. It’s social media for book lovers. However,  it is so fun to think about this huge network of readers who will stumble upon my book because of it’s presence on Goodreads.

If it is not clear, I love the process of publishing and seeing my work pop up in these often common book places. It brings a huge smile to my face. Book love is real. So, make your way to Goodreads and add me to your bookshelves.  Follow my author page for even more updates!

Joy.

 

 

 

#marketingmayhem

Being an author has many layers. It is easy to imagine the creative process is something most of us enjoy. However, it is not the only process that must be addressed. Particularly in cases like mine where the all facets of writing and publishing fall on my shoulders.

Almost three years ago now I started a small self publishing company called Moody Writer Publishing, LLC. There have been a few titles published under my little label and ultimately I’m proud of its minor success.

As I made the decision to  finally publish my own work, there is one thing that has remained to be true. It doesn’t matter the work. It doesn’t matter how many long hours or how much love or how great the book is that is produced. What determines sales is how well it is marketed!

For most authors, this means starting to build an audience well before the first word is even written. It means long hours on social media, and popping into groups, and any other forms that could prove to be beneficial in even minute ways.

The author platform is to be taken seriously, because cutting right through the love of the art is the realization that it is work.

Writing is a business. Even those who write as a hobby know that if they want more than their family and close friends to read it they must save some energy for marketing their work.

This is precisely where I am. In truth, I’ve been editing and revising my marketing plan for The Alpha’s Dream since its inception. I’m still clumsy about it. I have no idea if the methods I am using will work, but in business you do what must be done.

Right now, I’ve limited the companies that I will work with until I can see what results will come. As a family of soon to be three children, my husband and I have to be extra critical of how we spend our income. There is no room for waste.

Everyone knows that what you can’t pay for in money, you pay for in time. Marketing  for The Alpha’s Dream has proven that to be true over and over again. The fact that I have to limit the work that I outsource doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to get done. It only means that I have to do it for myself. The late nights have not ended with editing .  Instead of staying up to write that last chapter, or edit that last paragraph, I am sending out arc copies and blasting other blogs.

When you have a small publishing company, you are essentially self-publishing. I am my own PR person. I am my own secretary, hype woman, beta reader, first tier editor, and somewhere in there the author too.  Self-published authors are always at work.

It would be easier to take my polished manuscript and send it off to publishing companies and imprints and just wait for someone to pick me up. It’s a strong, and beautiful romance novel. I have faith in it and that is exactly why I do the hard work.

I hate marketing.  I hate the business of writing. The courting and researching, and logistics of sales are taxing on my introverted, right brain, and creative heart. However, I am more determined to be successful than I am to have it easy. So, I put in work.

When you see The Alpha’s Dream blitzing everywhere, know that’s just me being extra for my dream.

Joy.