Blind Her With Bliss

So it’s been a month since I shared sales figures for my self-published romantic suspense series. In the spirit of full disclosure I thought I’d share what’s happened since I put the first book in my series up for free! I have to tell you, there are still LOTS of people who cringe that authors are doing this for fear it may set up 1) unrealistic sales expectations for readers or 2) that it is devaluing the time and talent required to write a full novel. But as you’ll see, this is working for me.

I didn’t enroll these short novels in the Kindle Select program where Amazon asks for exclusivity to any books in that program. They also offer authors the opportunity to take advantage of 5 free days during the 90 day period it is in the select program. This just didn’t seem to fit for my books and I chose to upload my book through Smashwords and have it distriubted for free to all venues save for Amazon. Once the lower price was reported to Amazon, my book was price matched at the $0.00.

And I want to repeat what I said last month. There are many authors making goooood money through self-publishing. Some of these authors are even being courted by Amazon to pull their book from the virtual self-publishing shelves and sign a contract with their Montlake publishing arm. There are many success stories, including Debra Holland, who has also been forthcoming about her sales success with her self-published series. But remember it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.

And there isn’t one right path to success in the self-publishing business. What works for me and my books, may not work for you. The only consistency is writing the best book you can and making sure it not only is well-edited, but also presented in the correct format for the platform whether it be kindle, nook, sony or iTunes. So don’t hesitate to try different price points or different methods of promotion. Find out what works for you.

Listing the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS has been a real boost for promoting my books. Following are the sales I posted last month for books released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11. (Sales figures are just for Amazon, because there weren’t enough others at B&N, Smashwords or ARe to make an impact on my royalties.)

December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (until the 20th): 4695 free books 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)

And here are the sales for the full month of Feb and March (to Date). And just a note, I took my books down from All Romance Ebooks because they really weren’t selling over there:

Amazon

Free Downloads: 6280
Deceive Her With Desire: 73 books = $76.65
Cheat Her With Charm: 62 books = $65.10

Barnes & Noble
Free Downloads: 2319 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 87 = $168.78
Cheat Her With Charm: 56 = $108.64

Apple (through Smashwords)
Total Books:   264 = $448.85
(That’s if I’m reading my Smashwords report correctly. It’s the first time I’ve had sales there, so I’m trying to figure this one out)

So there you have it. It may not be the blockbuster sales other authors are experiencing, but seeing as March is turning out to be my most successful month ever, I’m extremely pleased. I whole-heartedly believe that offering my book for FREE! is working for me. BLIND HER WITH BLISS floats between 15 and 30 on the free romantic suspense list right next to the PAID list. And 25 to 40 on the contemporary list. (It was lower on both lists at the beginning of the month when downloads were at their peak.) Being listed next to the paid books means that readers who search particular categories may peruse books listed for free as well.

B&N doesn’t have a ranking system, but I have no doubt it is the free book that allowed readers to try out a new-to-them author and brought about the sales of the second and third books in the series. Since I haven’t seen any sales at that venue prior to this, it is the only thing I can attribute my sales success this month.

Again, this method might not work for you. But with my sales the highest they’ve ever been, I know offering the first book in my series is working for me. Writers, have you tried something different that worked to get your books noticed? As a reader, what makes you willing to try a new author you’ve never read before?

I’m hanging out today on the beach with Jane Ormerod talking about favorite authors and drinking Mai Tais.

You can also visit me at a new Logline Blog. Where they’re featuring BLIND HER WITH BLISS (which is still FREE at Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

And I don’t know if you’ve been having trouble accessing my blog and website, but there seems to be something amiss in the coding somewhere. My webmistress (whom I absolutely adore) thinks the problem is somewhere in the blog files on GoDaddy. Unfortunately she doesn’t work with WordPress and the wonderful person who did the original coding is no longer in the business. I’m working hard to find a new blogmistress. In the meantime, be patient if you can’t seem to find me. I’m still here and hopefully will have the problem corrected soon!

And in other promotional news:
DANGEROUS AFFAIRS, the Tilling Passions anthology is now available in PRINT!

Back Cover Information:
BLIND HER WITH BLISS
She’s trying to find herself. He’s attempting to hide. Together they’ll discover a truth that threatens them both…

Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers an erotic world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of lust, she wonders if she’s found love…or the key to solving a murder.

DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE
A woman determined to protect her heart. An agent hell bent on proving himself. One night that will change their lives forever…

Landscaper, DEIRDRE TILLING had no way of knowing that attending her friend’s party would throw her into a dangerous world of corrupt businessmen and police stings. Of course her sexual romp with undercover DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT only pushes her deeper into the drug smuggling ring running up the Maine coast. As the heat rises between Deirdre and Ayden, one thing becomes painfully obvious…their relationship has jeopardized his mission and now someone wants them both dead.

CHEAT HER WITH CHARM
He’s got a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…

Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I hope you’ll check it out. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Okay, so this a completely promotional post. Run now if you don’t enjoy reading an author’s post about her books. Okay, you’ve been warned …

It’s been awhile since I caught you up on all the news. So I’ll start with a sharing a 4.5 STAR Review from Dark Diva Reviews. Jae said:

A roller-coaster of emotion and some of the most emotionally dramatic BDSM scenes I’ve read in quite a while are contained within Invitation to Ecstasy by Nina Pierce. Ms. Pierce’s writing is very enjoyable. There’s a terrific balance of down-to-earth narrative, humor, and intensity that draws the reader along from the very first page.

The book is available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon

And Deceive Her With Desire has recently received two accolades.

It came in third in the suspense category of the Judge a Book by it’s Cover Reader’s Choice Contest hosted by the Houston Bay RWA. I would like to thank all the readers who took time to vote in this wonderful contest. Of course all the credit for the beautiful design goes to my cover artist DAR ALBERT. She’s the bestestest! I shout her praises everywhere because she’s so very talented!

This same book has also FINALED in the Gulf Coast STAR Contest in the novella category (which they define as any book under 40,000 words). w00t! w00t! I’m honored. I’ll find out next month exactly where it placed.

And if you didn’t know already, BLIND HER WITH BLISS is available for FREE on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

And the print book for all three Tilling Passions stories titled DANGEROUS AFFAIRS has finally met all the proofing requirements and should be available on Amazon by the end of the week and available in a bookstore near you by mid-April!

And on a personal note, Mr. Nina has a couple of job interviews this week. One of them is near our family in Maine. (Totally crossing my fingers that that one results in a job offer.) So there you have it, all the news and more. So what’s new with you? Anything worth dancing over?

There are days when I feel I never get away from the Internet to get other stuff done. Between Twitter and Facebook and blogs I visit, I roam the virtual cybersphere and yet … I seem to miss all the fun controversy. I guess last week people were all up in arms about self-publising and Amazon’s moves to slowly take over the book selling market.

I don’t know about that. I do know they’ve made it easy for a person to self-publish print books. And they’ve made it even easier for authors to publish digitally. Really, there is no super-sekret formula … just upload a manuscript and a cover and voila! within 24 hours your book will be for sale! Yes, you can do this through other venues, but I have to say, I really like Amazon’s ranking system. There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing your book climb the ranks. Now they’re trying a new program, Prime Membership for readers and on the author side it’s called Kindle Select. Readers and authors are tentative about this program. Some are loving it and others … not so much.

But Amazon is trying. They are seeing the face of publication changing and they’re trying to be on the cutting edge of that change. Good for them. They’re not stupid. With big name authors like Joe Konrath supporting their efforts, it seems to me they’re going to be the front runners when everyone else is floundering. Does this make them bad or greedy? I don’t think so. It makes them smart. As in Apple smart. Always leading the pack, not the one running and out-of-breath trying to catch up.

And though I like what Amazon is doing for readers and authors alike, I just want to say, it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.

There are many authors making LOTS of money (as in quitting their day jobs and writing fulltime) going the self-pubbed route through Amazon. But there are a whole heck of a lot more of us taking our monthly royalty check from Amazon and buying a cute necklace from Kohl’s that just went on sale … on the clearance rack. So you get the picture. Now, please don’t hear this as complaining. It’s not … well, not totally. Wait, no really, I’m not complaining. I just want people to understand that it is possible their book(s) will take off, but it’s just as likely it won’t. Even if you do the same marketing strategies successful writers do. *shrug* It’s just how it is.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me give you some sales figures for the last three months for all three of my books (released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11). (And this is just for Amazon, because it’s not worth my time to share with you my sales from B&N, Smashwords and ARe)

December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (to date): 4695 free books (YAY!) 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)

Why am I sharing this sales information with you? I think authors play it too close to the vest. When authors are looking to make an informed decision it means … they need the information. I think it’s easy to find GREAT sales information. You know, those authors that sell 136 of each of their books every day. It makes many authors who are sitting there with 4 books sold in a month–because that’s the typical sales on Amazon–feel inadequate. Like “what am I doing wrong?” The answer is probably nothing. Even the big 6 publishers can’t tell you why one of their books is doing better than another. Now we’re the publisher … we just have to do the best we can.

I do like Amazon. I like that they have world-wide distribution. I wish I could boast sales on the other venues that were as good as my Amazon sales. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, even when I try to market my books at those venues.

Is Amazon going to take over all publication and distribution of books in the near future? No, it’s not going to happen. But other publishers and booksellers will need to stop doing things the way they’ve always done them and think ahead or they’re never going to catch up.

What do you think as a reader/writer? Does it make you a little noodgie the way things are going with Amazon? Are you worried about what is happening? Because you know me, I’m curious about that kind of stuff.

Welcome to another week of Six Sentence Sunday

Last month was a wonderful month for my sexy romantic suspense story, “Blind Her With Bliss“! Thank you everyone who went out and purchased it (and it’s still on sale for $.99)! I thought I’d do a little happy dance and give you another six from the first book in “The Tilling Passions” series.

It was a wonder the man pouring his soul out through the piano keys didn’t simply collapse; an empty husk of a body, sacrificing everything to give life to the passionate strains of music filling the auditorium. Surely nothing so poignant could come from anywhere other than the heart. As melancholy notes penned by some dead composer plucked at her heartstrings, Julie could feel Damon’s sorrow filling her and resonating through every molecule of air.

As the emotional melody pulled her along its river of notes, she thought of her family. As much as they aggravated her, they also anchored her—gave her a sense of belonging. Damon had no one.

Thank you for your comments you leave week to week, they mean a lot to me. And don’t forget to go HERE to check out other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my publisher? Over the last few months I have really developed an appreciation for all they do. Why? Oh, because I’ve been self-publishing a few of my books.

Now don’t get me wrong. Putting books up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble is so easy, you can do it without losing much sleep. BUT I went further and uploaded it to All Romance Ebooks which required downloading Calibre and formatting issues and … in the name of all that is Holy, I should have paid someone to do that for me. LOL!

And did I learn anything from that. Ohhhh nooooo … Nina thought it was a good idea to combine the three books in the Tilling Passions series and put them out in print. I know, right? … what the hell was I thinking? Because here’s the thing. I didn’t choose some easy single manuscript to upload, but an anthology. Now think about anthologies. They come with title pages and different headers and hidden page numbers and … a whole frickin’ lot of hidden problems that I didn’t anticipate. Let’s just say I jumped in on Friday. Worked all day and night Saturday (like until 4 am) and got right back at it on Sunday morning by 8. The pages are FINALLY loaded this morning.

So what did I learn?
1. That my high school typing teacher had no idea that setting margins would get so friggin complicated.
2. Word 2007 is an evil empire hell bent on keeping secrets from its users.
3. That when you ask for “advanced word help” it seems everyone only knows the basics.
4. I had no idea that gutters weren’t just for removing water from the roof.
5. Headers and Footers are magical environments where the normal laws of Word don’t apply.
6. That just because Createspace says you can upload an rtf they forgot to mention … it doesn’t really work.
7. I’m so damn stubborn and every time I said “one more upload” it didn’t mean anything when it didn’t work.

And lastly …
Writing a book is only hard until you decide you want to self-publish it.

And that’s what I did this weekend. How was yours?

(And today my tour continues at Jade Mystique, Kay Dee Royal and Romance Lives Forever. Whew. Busy. Busy.)

November was INSANE as I prepped for a blog tour for DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE. Now it’s here and I’m insane running around trying to share all the posts.

Lute at TBR Pile gave it 5 STARS and said this …

This story sizzled on the pages between the heated romance and the suspense. The plot was fast paced but I enjoyed every minute of it… adored Ayden and not just because he is the quintessential leading man who plays the underdog, okay, that pretty much had a lot to do with it. The romance kept my heart pumping and the suspense held me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series.

Check it out HERE. Comment by tomorrow, December 2 for a chance to win a copy!

And another 5 STAR review posted today at SAPPHYRIA’S BOOK REVIEWS. Check out what she had to say…

This was an awesome 105 page story. The shorter length of the book didn’t detract from the novel in any way. It didn’t seem rushed in any area nor did it leave out any crucial information that some shorter stories tend to do…The suspense and romance of the novel didn’t overtake each other; there was a nice balance of both. The romantic parts were hot and realistic and the suspense kept me engaged.

w00t! w00t! Snoopy dancing around the house. I love these two!

Also today begins a HUGE sale at Book Lover’s Buffet. ALL books in ALL genres are just $.99!! Including BLIND HER WITH BLISS. I hope you’ll check it out!

Authors love to write. It’s what we do. There’s an internal drive to turn the voices in our head into a book. Regardless of that fact, it is very scary to send our babies out into the world and risk rejection.

Of course we think our manuscripts are awesome. Beautifully crafted and entertaining. Our families and critique partners have gushed and given a thumbs up. But there is still the chance the editor at our dream publisher won’t feel the same. And when they do, there is still the readers and reviewers who may not fall in love with our characters the way we did.

There are some authors who don’t read their reviews. Don’t worry what the critics say. I’m not one of them.

I read every review, celebrating each 4 and 5 star review and kicking sand when someone only gives my book 3 stars or *gasp* lower. I totally understand that my stories aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but it still stings. But the interesting thing about these lower reviews, after the initial disappointment, I usually learn something from them. Those well written ones from readers are especially beneficial.

But so few readers even write reviews. Even author-readers. I always try to write reviews for my friends’ books I enjoy. They don’t have to be long or written in flowery prose. They don’t even have to be a synopsis of the book. Just a few honest words about how you enjoyed the book. Anne Allen has a wonderful blog post talking about reviews, the ease of writing them and the impact they have on book sales. You should take time to read it.

Seriously. take a moment … I’ll wait.

Good right? I especially like how she compares review stars to rating a pair of jeans. She makes it so easy to understand.

So what about you? Do you write reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble? If you don’t why not? I’m always curious about these sorts of things.

And today you can check out a review (and give away) of “Deceive Her With Desire” at TBR Pile. I also have an short interview at Lisa’s World of Books. And I’ve got an excerpt from “Blind Her With Bliss” at 99 Cent Books. Whew. Busy day.

Opinions are like noses … everyone’s got one..and they all smell!

Okay, so that’s not exactly how that saying goes, but I thought I’d clean it up for my public. Anyway, the point is, no matter where you turn in the writing world, someone has some tidbit to help you on your way. Unfortunately, much of the time it conflicts with the last great bit of advice someone gave you. And if you’ve been doing this writing gig for any amount of time you know of what I speak!

It starts with the first critique of your writing whether it’s a friend or a contest. Heroine’s wishy-washy. Heroine’s overpowering. Too much description. Too much dialogue. Too much internal angst. Not enough deep POV. You just can’t make everyone happy.

And there it is and it bears repeating. You. Can. NOT. Please. Everyone!

All of us have different things that pull us in and throw us out of stories. What works for me may be a can’t-possibly-finish-wall-banging trope for you. Ask anyone who writes erotic romance and they’ll tell you they hear as many “I don’t like when X” as “there’s never enough X”. It’s because readers bring their own personal experience to the table when they open your book. What they love, what they hate, and what makes a book go on their keeper shelf are dependent on so many factors that the author can’t control.

But why am I even mentioning this? Because I’m analyzing and re-evaluating my self-published books. As I get ready to put up the last of the Tilling Passions Series I’m trying to figure out how to increase the sales. I’ve been pretty open about the dismal showing they’ve had. While others are talking about paying college tuitions and buying new cars I’m barely making enough to take my family out to dinner … at McDonald’s … dessert not included. And please don’t tell me one more time this is a marathon and not sprint. I have the patience of a kid on Christmas morning. I’d like to see results. NOW, thank you very much. Maybe not pay-the-mortgage-vacation-in-Europe kind of money, but something that is worth the gas to cash the check kind of money.

Okay, that being said. I’ve rewritten all three books from their original published manuscripts. (Well, I’m finishing the third.) Gave them new titles and spiffy new covers. Had every person I know enlist their family and “tag” and “like” them. Wrote new blurbs and put them up on Amazon/Barnes & Nobel/Smashwords and soon All Romance Ebooks. But they sit buried in the noise of thousands of releases making tiny little Horton Hears a Who quiet cries, trying to get noticed. Unfortunately, it seems there are no elephants to pluck my books from obscurity.

So now, I’m giving something new a try. In this world where people have no more than 30 seconds to check something out before they have to answer email, chat on the phone, move another load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, tweet, go pick up a kid at practice, finish making dinner or update their Facebook status there isn’t a lot of time to be reading through book descriptions on Amazon. I’ve honed the craft of writing back cover blurbs that cover a full story in 180 words or less. Intrigue. Romance. Lust. The story that took a whole book to unfold, boiled down into a few short sentences that grab the reader. Remember the days standing in the bookstore or library and reading the back cover? There was plenty of time to get a feel for what might lie between the covers. Well, it seems those days are gone.

So I’m trying something new. Quick, short blurbs in my book descriptions. A few sentences that hopefully will hook a reader before they surf to another page.

BLIND HER WITH BLISS:
She’s trying to find herself. He’s attempting to hide. Together they’ll discover a truth that threatens them both…

Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers an erotic world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of lust, she wonders if she’s found love…or the key to solving a murder.

DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE:
A woman determined to protect her heart. An agent hell bent on proving himself. One night that changes their lives…

DEIRDRE TILLING had no way of knowing that attending her friend’s party would throw her into a dangerous world of corrupt businessmen and police stings. Of course her sexual romp with undercover DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT only pushes her deeper into the drug smuggling ring running up the Maine coast. As the heat rises between Deirdre and Ayden, one thing becomes painfully obvious…their relationship has jeopardized his mission and now someone wants them both dead.

There you have them. I don’t know if they’ll work. But the theory of grab ’em quick seems to make sense. I’ll let you know if it works. What do you think? You can check out the original blurbs HERE and HERE. I haven’t changed them at B&N.

I’m going to admit a couple things here.

1) I had never purchased a book until 4 years ago when my friend had her debut novel released. (I was a library kind of gal.)
2) I STILL don’t own an e-reader. I know … scandalous right? Because I can’t afford an iPad, I vascillate between a Nook and a Kindle and people who own either “think they’re the best”. Anyway, I’m currently reading e-books on my computer.

So what’s the point of “true confession Friday”? Well, I have no idea how the buyer of digital books thinks. Are they looking for bargain books and willing to try new authors and genres? Are they still only buying their auto-buy authors? And what about freebies?

Yeeeeah, what about freebies? Do thousands of people just automatically download all free books on Amazon, Kindle or Smashwords thinking they may read them and if they don’t … whatever? Or do they pick up the free book by an author thinking they may find a new-to-them author? Does that in turn entice them to go buy more books by that author?

Or are so many books being offered for free by so many authors that readers have become leary of the quality of the writing? With the instant availability of publishing to anyone with a computer the writing/story can range from fabulous to OMG! is English the author’s first language? Leaving the reader to wonder if the author knows the definition of “edit”.

Is a reader more likely to read a book if they have to pay even a minimal amount for it? Say $.99? Does even that small amount of outlay give value to the purchase?

Of course I’m asking because I currently have two sexy romantic suspense novels in my “Tilling Passions” series up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Blind Her With Bliss and Deceive Her With Desire. And now that I’m very close to getting the third book in this series published, I’m thinking about my pricing strategy.

Does giving away the first book entice people to read the second and third in the series? Or will it sit unread in the libraries of Nooks and Kindles across the country, never to be opened? I have no idea. This whole self-publishing seems to be a big fat roll of the dice all the way around.

So what about you? When you see a book on B&N or Amazon for free do you assume certain things? Do your feelings change if it’s $.99? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because I’m currently BEYOND confused on what is best at this point.

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