Over the years I’ve had numerous jobs. And when I say numerous … I mean like over 50. Really. I’m the female version of George Plimpton. (Only he was into sports. And a writer. And he made TONS of money … but you know… kinda like him.)
Anyway, I started working when I was 15 at the local Micky D’s. This was the beginning of drive-throughs and when we used to make shakes the old-fashioned way, with a mixer. A squirt of flavoring and ice cream, then blend. That stupid machine and I didn’t get along. I can’t tell you how many times it exploded all over me. But my most memorable moment was when a container of strawberry topping slipped from my hand to the floor. It hit the tiles flat on it’s bottom which caused the most interesting eruption of strawberry sauce, easily 5 feet in the air. How do I know this? When it was done, it was dripping off my face and the brim of my hat, and down the front of my uniform. And all of this happened in slow motion in front of a lobby filled with the lunch crowd. FULL! Oh, yeah, that was a fun job.
Let’s see, I’ve worked at a jean store, a mortgage company, an aquarium, a frame store, a processing plant, an overnight summer camp, and a daycare. I’ve been a waitress, a “gofer” for a game warden, a science teacher, a lab assistant, a janitor, an ed tech, a tutor, a resident assistant, a substitute teacher, and a secretary at a job recruiter and a real estate office.
Some of those jobs I didn’t really like. Being a janitor in a girls’ dormitory wasn’t really something I enjoyed. I’m not even going into the whole bathroom situation. Nor the job working second shift at a processing plant for computer components. I spent the summer straightening wire leads with plyers and boiling components in oil to watch for bubbles. *shudders* Those were long days. But the summer I worked on an island off the coast of Maine at an overnight camp was awesome. Working as a lab assistant, teaching physics labs in college was pretty cool as well. And I didn’t really suffer when I worked as a waitress. All those people to visit with … yeah, it was fun.
*deep calming breath* Really, I feel like I’m treading through molasses and not getting anywhere … fast! I know I’m not any different than every other writer out there trying to balance their real life with the world their building in their books. But sometimes life stuff just tumbles on top of itself and I get rolled up in the whole big mess.
I’ve not hidden the fact that the last 5 1/2 years have been a total clusterf**k for Mr. Nina and I. We moved from northern Maine where’d been living for over 20 years … which I was quite happy to do … to Rhode Island when Mr. Nina lost his job in hospital administration. Little did we realize what a rollercoaster we’d climbed up on! Well, 4 moves and 6 jobs later–we’re still trying to find our footing. Writing has taken a backseat to all of the turmoil. But even when I do have the mindset to sit down and start pounding out words, there seems to be other pressing issues.
I’m talking time management. This is as much for me as it is for those of you out in cyberland thinking you’ll never have time to finish that novel or short story you’ve promised yourself you’ll get to.
Just about 2 1/2 years ago Mr. Nina was downsized from a job he’d had for over 20 years. Despite the blow to his ego, the change had been one that needed to happen. I was ECSTATIC to finally move out of the wilds of northern Maine. We finally sold our house in the spring of 2010 and I put all of our worldly possessions in storage and joined Mr. Nina in Rhode Island in a two-bedroom furnished apartment. I was soooo happy! We were finally only 2.5 hours from southern Maine where our families live! Life was an adventure! By late fall 5 offers on houses had fallen through FIVE! Even our realtor couldn’t figure out what was going on. In this house market you’d think we could have a couple of those for a steal. Hmmm …
Anyway, we rolled into the holidays blissfully unaware our life was going to take another turn. Right after the first of the year, Mr. Nina lost his job. (Which made me grateful someone was looking out for us and we hadn’t bought a house.) A week of unemployment turned into a month of unemployment turned into a winter then spring then a summer of unemployment turned into 10 months of unemployment. It was rough going to say the least, but we managed.
Then in October Mr. Nina landed a job in Vermont and off we went back into the wild woods. Not quite off the beaten path, bet definitely not the quick-paced life of Rhode Island I’d come to enjoy. (Hey, 20 years in the middle of nowhere of northern Maine had left me with a lot of civilization to catch up on!)
I’m sitting now in a rented home with all of my things out of storage, but still in boxes as we’re in the process of building a handicapped accessible home a couple of towns over from where we are living. All of this is great, but it’s left me in a little bit of a tailspin without the ability to plant my feet on solid ground.
Hence the lack of blogging. Lack of keeping up with social media. Lack of writing.
But there seems to be light shining from somewhere. I’m hoping within the next couple of months as we get settled in our new home in our new state, that life will once again find a comfortable rhythm and words will begin to flow. I can already feel them swelling and story ideas coalescing with the warming temperatures of a January thaw.
So keep an eye out for me. I might have been down for the count, but I was never out. Thanks so much for sticking with me and continuing to read my books in 2012. I’m looking for bigger and better things in 2013!
I know I’m very late getting back to my blog after the holidays. It just seems I’m having a hard time rolling into 2012. I don’t have any more
excuses reasons than any other woman who has a family and holiday responsibilities. Yep, Mr. Nina and I managed to have a wonderful Christmas morning with our kids. They are adults, but we still keep up all the *Santa* traditions we’ve held on to since they were children. It was fun.
We drank a lot of wine. Ate too much food. And laughed continuously.
Now it’s time to settle into 2012. So here I am, sitting before my computer and a blank calendar. As 2011 came to a close I realized I needed to reassess and really look at what I hoped 2012 would bring. One of the things I’m already doing is cutting back on the number of RWA Chapters I belong to. Though each one was wonderful, I found there were more emails than helpful information coming through. Out they go.
As I always do, I’m looking at my blogging time. With the explosion of social media, I think fewer and fewer people are finding time to stop by blogs. But it seems I go ’round and ’round this ride and keep coming back to the fact that I enjoy it for the most part. I think more than anything it’s my opportunity to spew about my life. Whether it’s good or bad, I can kick sand or jump for joy with people who understand the publishing journey. So for now, I’m sticking to my Mon-Wed-Fri schedule. I hope to fill the year with some fun and humor, introductions to new authors, and keeping up on the latest in the publishing world.
But the biggest decision I’ve come to is about my writing. I’m an analytical person. I couldn’t stop myself from looking at the market and studying other successful authors. I’ve tried to emulate them, not in their writing style or voice or anything, but how they handled their career. And after six years I’ve come to realize in the end it’s done nothing but frustrate me. This BLOG POST really opened my eyes. Especially numbers 17, 18, and 19. There is just too much I can’t control. And many times something one author does that skyrockets their books to the bestseller list, rarely translates over to another author’s success. Trust me on this one. I know it from experience.
So my goal this year is to slow down. Stop chasing the money and just write what works for me. I’m convinced the money will follow. Does this mean I’m rolling over and not being logical about my marketing? No. It just means I’m going to stop trying to recreate other people’s success.
Oh, and I’ve also decided I’m going to figure out this weight situation that has gotten out of control. Not sure how it’s going to work since I’m spending more time in the electric wheelchair, but I’m thinking there’s got to be a balance between feeding my body and expanding my waistline when exercise isn’t an option. Hmmm, wish me luck on that one.
So what about you? Do you have goals for 2012?
With so many authors jumping into the self-publishing pond, I thought I’d share my experience. First of all, let me just say, if you weren’t already aware … I found the trek from writer to publisher to be a very steep climb. We’re talking ice crampons, ropes and pick axes (can you tell I’m doing research for a new story?) But one that’s going to be worth the view from the top.
I released my three book series in April, June and October (oops … a couple of months late) of this year. I originally released the first two as erotic suspense, but found, much like my experience at my original publisher, they weren’t romantic enough for the usual romantic suspense reader and not erotic enough for the erotic romance reader. Sales by July were non-existent. So I dropped back, reassessed, redid the covers and cut back on all the sex in the stories and put them back up as sexy romantic suspense. They are very slowly hitting their stride.
I’ve tried different price points, $.99, $1.49 and $2.99 (the last one to get the 70% royalty on Amazon). Price didn’t seem to be a factor. And no one complained about the short novel length even at the $2.99. I’m going to continue to mess with the prices until I find a nice balance between price and sales.
I’ve done a blog tour and advertising for the first two, but since I didn’t see any uptick in sales with all the hard work, I didn’t bother to push the publicity for the most recent release. My sales for all three book have remained about $15/month for Amazon and $5/month at Barnes and Noble since the spring. It may be hardly worth the gas to the bank to cash the check, but I remain undaunted!
I now have the books up at All Romance Ebooks and though sales aren’t brisk at the moment over there, it is another venue for people to find my books.
I am happy to report that being part of the BOOK LOVER’S BUFFET (where every book on the website is $.99) has been a shot in the arm this month. I’ve sold just over 100 books at the posting of this blog with another TWO weeks to the end of the month. Obviously the collective marketing of nearly 100 authors is helping to get the word out.
I’m also looking to do some specialized marketing in January with Pixel of Ink (if my book is approved for an advertising spot), a site where thousands of Kindle readers search for their next read. I’m hoping this will boost sales especially to new-to-me-readers.
So there you have it. Total disclosure. Not the millions some authors are selling. Nor the rocket success of author Catherine Bybee, who recently made the USA Bestseller list with one of her self-published books. But I keep plodding along. I’ve made a resolution to myself for the new year though. I WILL step off this crazy marketing merry-go-round and begin writing again. Funny, how people can’t read a book sitting unfinished on my computer!
I’m always happy to answer questions about self-publishing. Feel free to email me at Nina AT NinaPierce.com I’ll happily share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully steer you clear of some of those hidden pitfalls.
There are so many choices for new authors who want to see their book in the hands of a smiling reader. The road to publication no longer follows a straight path to NY. It is often a twisting maze of luck and perseverence.
With new publishing houses popping up every day and other publishers imploding, leaving authors begging for the manuscripts back, it can be a mine field wading through facts and rumors. Add to that the loud voices of those that are finding gold in the hills of self-publishing and you have a plethora of confusion on what is best for your manuscript.
So where do you start?
First, decide what it is you want from your writing. The satisfaction of seeing your words in print? A little extra income? A living wage and writing full time? What is your ultimate goal? It will certainly give you direction. For me, quite honestly, it was the income. As so many of you know I had to give up teaching due to medical reasons. And though it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, my salary did contribute to the family budget. I want to have that again. And I will.
With that in mind I wrote my first book and began sending it out while working on my second book. Rejections piled up and still I wrote and sent out queries on my second book. More rejections followed. I finally stepped back and reassessed, looked at the market (because I wanted income) and wrote a book I thought would fit the erotic romance market which was growing exponentially at the time. I also realized my only avenue wasn’t print, but digital publishers. I queried several new up-and-coming publishers and three well established houses. I got four offers, an offer of re-write and a rejection. One publisher called me directly. Boy, was I thrilled. But I didn’t jump on it. Why? Because it was a publishing house that had been around only a year.
Here’s the thing I did next and I think more authors should take time to do. I emailed random authors on the publisher’s author list. Why? Because they’re in there and know better than anyone how the publisher works. The good, bad and downright ugly. I asked specific questions about editing staff and techniques. About sales and royalty payments. How long from contract to publication. I even asked about percentage of books going to print. Authors are wonderful people and most will be honest … brutally honest, which is what I wanted. Granted, there were some who did not respond to my emails, but that gave me information also.
From these emails I accepted a contract with Liquid Silver Books. And though I no longer have books there, I will be forever grateful to them for giving me such a wonderful start to my writing career. I HIGHLY recommend them and would tell that to anyone who asks. And let me just tell you, two of the four who offered contracts and whose authors never responded to me have recently gone under. Seriously, a little research goes a long way.
And what of self-publication? Another avenue to explore and consider. It’s not as difficult for someone like me who publishes digitally anyway. There are no huge formatting issues for upload so don’t let that slow you down. Nor does the marketing and promotion change. Because if you’re with an e-publisher already, you know the importance of getting out there and marketing your book. So what is there to consider? Editing and cover design, both of which can be a considerable outlay of money. Whether you have the readers who are auto-buys for your books or your looking to begin a readership. All are important things to weigh when you’re thinking of going this route.
There is money out there for sure, but don’t go into self-publication with stars in your eyes. The reality is many people aren’t selling. Many aren’t making money. *slowly raises hand* Sales get sales. If a book doesn’t have sales, it isn’t going to show up on the lists. If it doesn’t show up on lists, it’s not going to get the attention of new readers. And all the great reviews and marketing aren’t going to get your book in front of the general Amazon surfer, which is your ultimate goal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t go that route. I’m simply saying, like all parts of the publishing world, go into it well informed.
My goal for 2012 is to have my toes dipping in all of the markets, mass market print, digital and self-pubbing. There is no one way that is correct. In this day and age, an author needs to weigh their options and make decisions that fit them best.
Since time flies so quickly I’ve decided to take time the first Sunday of every month and sort of “assess” where the last month has taken me both professionally and personally. That way, when the year is over, I won’t wonder if I actually managed to accomplish anything. I’ll know I’ve actually enjoyed the year!
So, let’s see, in January I did submit a short story to my editor. If contracted (fingers crossed), it will be offered as a free read. This story involves the three shifters, Jayda, Cole and Zane from my Shifting Bonds series. I’m in hopes of finding some new readers to fall in love with this trio. I expect the next book in this series “Bonded by Pride” to be released in 2011.
January also saw the release of “Maid for Master”, the first in what is turning out to be a series. I’m pleased to say the second novella in this series is cooking along quite nicely. 😀 I expect to have that out to my editor by the end of the month. Which is really awesome for me. Sometimes I fall into a slump with my writing and I’ve promisaed myself this year I wouldn’t do that. So far, so good.
I’ve also been plugging away at a couple of books in my backlist that I hope to have released directly to Kindle by the end of this month. This is new to me and I’m looking forward to sharing the news as I figure out this new technology that seems to be exploding.
On the personal end of things … well, it’s a long haul for me as perspective buyers for my house don’t seem to be braving the cold winds of Maine. Hopefully February will be different and someone will just fall in love with my house and I can sell it and join Mr. Nina down in Rhode Island. This being separated is for the birds. Neither one of us is too fond of maintaining two households. On the good news front, if someone makes an offer, it doesn’t take long for everything to fall into place and to get us moved out.
So there you have it. Probably waaaaay more than you needed/wanted to know about the Nina. And just for something different, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from “Bonded by Need”. Enjoy …
She looked up the side of the mountain, down into the ravine and back up the rock wall, anywhere to avoid looking at him. “Yes, well, I guess we need to find a way to get out of here. And quickly.” Jayda used the wall to get to her feet, but her head spun again and she swayed. She slumped into Zane’s embrace and he held her while she retched.
“Really, Jayda, I’m pretty sure you have a concussion.” He brushed the hair from her face, his gaze raking over her features. The upturned nose fit perfectly with the rounded cheeks and full lips. Christ, she was beautiful.
Whoa, back up. What the hell was wrong with him? He had just been named head of the cougar shifters. Even considering getting involved with a wolf shifter was just a bad idea all the way around. And here he was, thinking lusty thoughts about the mate of the head honcho. Down, boy, down. He mentally refocused his libido. “There’s no hurry. We need to take this slow. Getting up the ridge may prove a little trickier than coming down.”
Once again she realized how close their bodies were and pushed from him. “Yeah, well, I think there is a reason to hurry.” She shot a glance over her shoulder. “Let’s just get out of here. You can take me back to the clinic and you and your cougars can come back and find the kits.”
The kits. He’d forgotten all about them. Zane went down on one knee and purred low in invitation. They popped out of the small crevice one at a time.
Jayda cooed. “Oh, you found them!”
“No, Jayda, you found them.” He picked one up by the scruff of the neck and smiled. “Not that I’d recommend this method again, but we have them.” Zane looked up the wall. “Now we just have to figure out how to get everyone back up to the truck.”
“Well, how did you get down here?” Jayda looked up, shading her eyes against the noonday sun. “I’m not sure I can climb.”
“I came down in cougar form. But I came in from that direction.” He turned and looked at the slope, trying to work out a solution. “I could carry you on my back.”
She didn’t respond. He turned to see her appraising him and his cock immediately stirred under her probing gaze. Embarrassed, he bent and let the kit join his sibling. “Stupid idea. Why don’t we both shift and we can each carry a kit in our mouths.” He shot her a look over his shoulder. “Do you feel well enough to shift?”
Her face flushed. “Yeah, but…” She looked from his ass to her body. “But then there’re no clothes for me when we get to the top.”
His fingers dug through his hair and he blew out a breath. Driving home with a naked Jayda next to him was definitely more than he could handle. “How about you wear my shirt and I wear my pants?” He stood, giving her a view of his shoulder, his hands covering his over-anxious cock. In all his life, Zane was sure he’d never been naked in front of woman and tried to keep his interest in her a secret. “We just need to get the hell out of here. You shift and I’ll follow.”
“Well, turn around. I’m certainly not getting naked in front of you.”
“Oh sorry.” He turned his back to her. Zane heard the rustle of clothing and imagined that tight little tank top coming off and her bra falling to the ground, leaving her full breasts exposed. He bit back a groan when the zipper of her jeans rasped, but he couldn’t control the surge of blood to his cock. He was slime. The woman had nearly lost her life trying to save the tiny cougars and all he could think about was her curvaceous, naked ass.
“Okay, I’m shifting.”
He waited a heartbeat and turned, expecting to see a wolf. But the form before him rolled and shimmied in an odd mix of human, wolf and cougar parts. The kits cried and backed away from Jayda. Zane wasn’t sure how to help her. Tears welled in eyes that were surrounded by the round nose of a cougar then the full shape of a wolf and finally she gave up, her naked form appearing on her hands in knees in front of him. Her breasts hung seductively and her ass curved ever so provocatively toward the sky. Shit.
Whew! I love the holiday season. i really enjoy spending time with my family. But I gotta tell you, by the time New Year’s is over and the Christmas decorations packed away for another year … I’m ready to collapse!
Of course this year was even crazier with Mr. Nina being several states away, our house half packed and children home from college with the usual chaos they bring with them. I spent last week taking it easy on myself while I was down in Rhode Island spending a little one on one time with my husband. But the vacation’s over and it’s time a took a good hard look at 2011 and what I’d like to accomplish professionally this year.
I’ve decided it’s time I turn over a new leaf and really buckle down into my writing. I’ve posted the motto “No one’s ever published a book that isn’t written” over my desk in hopes that my writing resolutions for 2011 won’t go the way of my eat healthier resolution that completely crumbled with my will power on New Year’s day when I consumed half my birthday cake and then finished it off today. Yeah, well, it’s one of the reasons I don’t make resolutions … I feel like such a rebel when I break them.
But not this year.
This year I intend to list my goals right out where I can see them. It’s not so much that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted in 2010, but I just feel like I could have done more. Much more. I see others reaching new heights in their careers and as much as I shouldn’t compare myself with other writers, I can’t help but want what they have. That means buckling down and following their example of butt in chair and fingers on the keyboard. Every day.
It won’t be easy, but I’m going to hold myself accountable. I’ve got stories crying to be written. I’m going to find the fun in the creativity again. Every career ebbs and flows and I’m looking to catch a tidal wave and ride it into a successful year.
I do have personal goals (not the least of which is selling my house and moving) and I’m throwing those into the list as well. I’m hoping that when I see them everyday hanging in my office it will be a motivate me to try a little bit harder.
So what about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions for the new year? Why or why not? And if you do make them I’d love to hear what you’re hoping to accomplish this year.
Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it … I’m a scaredy cat. Flat out, yellow bellied wuss of the nth degree. And yes, that includes horror movies and ghost stories. But that’s not the fear I’m chatting about today.
I’m talking about the fear of failure.
Now don’t get me wrong … I love a new challenge. I’ll try most things at least once. (Multiple times if it’s fun 😉 ) What I’m afraid of is my manuscript. Yep, I said it. The thought of opening that puppy and staring down at the blinking cursor raises my blood pressure and starts my heart a-fluttering (and not in a good way). It didn’t used to be that way. I used to be able to sit down at the computer and happily pound out scene after scene in ignorant bliss. Not so much anymore.
I’ve learned enough about the correct way to craft a story that I worry I’m not doing it quite right. (Not that there aren’t lots of nuances of “correct”, but that’s a blog for another day.)
I love my stories and I’m really proud of them. I have fallen in love with the characters even as they have fallen in love with each other. But now I worry. Will this story be as good as the first (or second) in the series? Will the readers relate to the characters and love them as much as I do? Will they cry during this scene? What if …
Yeah, there it is … WHAT IF I can’t do it again? (See? My knees went a little weak there?) I know … it’s so dumb. Because if I’d just open that document and start typing the words will flow (well, as much as they do for me) and all would be right with my world. (And my editor. *g*) I know the more I’m away from it, the harder it will be to return. Like every other muscle, my brain needs exercise. And just like how easy it is NOT to go to the gym, I can fritter away the whole day without adding one sentence to my manuscript.
Bad. Bad Me!
Okay, so this is it, me kicking myself in my arse and opening my manuscript and working on it. That cursor isn’t going to intimidate me today. It can blink like Rudolph’s shiny nose and I’m not going to run from it. Because in reality … no publisher ever published an unwritten book! LOL!
How about you, what scares you the most and how do you overcome it?
(And don’t forget to comment on the post BELOW for your chance to win a basket of anniversary gifts)
What am I up to? Hmmm … my first answer is, not much, but then I wonder why my day at the computer starts at 9ish in the morning and ends well after 10. Must mean up doing something. *g* Let’s see if I can catch you up a little.
First and foremost I’m working on the second in the Shifting Bonds erotic suspense series which is titled “Bonded by Pride”. This is Aaron’s story. You met Aaron in “Blue Moon Rising”, but he plays a much bigger role in my upcoming “Bonded by Need”. I just love this detective. He’s sexy and funny and *sigh* worthy. I’m having a ton of fun writing him in this new book. And let me just tell you … he certainly knows how to love a woman. But I’m not sharing with you who makes his heart go pitter-patter. Let me just say … you’ve met her before! 😉
I’ve got a submission sitting on my editor’s desk at Ellora’s Cave, but I really can’t give you any more information than that. Let’s just say I’m keeping my fingers crossed because it could be the beginning of another series for me.
I took a plotting class and managed to sketch out a new paranormal book that involves ghosts and a second chance at love. I learned a whole lot taking that class, mostly that plotting isn’t for me. *g* I nearly went into an apoplectic fit when they asked me to figure out what I was going to do in the middle of the book before I typed chapter one. Eeee-gads! But the book is sketched and looks like something I’ll work on beginning in late fall.
Liquid Silver Books has invited me to be part of a really fun project and I’ve already started working on the story for that. It’s definitely a paranormal, but it may become my first romantic comedy (erotica). I love making people laugh. I have a fairly quick wit and sharp tongue (that gets me in trouble A LOT) and I’ve been asked more than once to give it a try. This might be the perfect opportunity. But really … I don’t write my stories, turns out my characters do. Anyway … that one’s in the percolating stage. Sometimes that stage goes on for months. I’ve stopped fretting about it.
So that’s what I’m doing these days. And in between that I’m visiting family at the ocean and the lake. Yeah, I’m kinda spoiled that way.