We're having a sale!

This is something I've never done. Priced my book at $.99.

Even while One Pink Line was enrolled in KDP Select, I could never quite bring myself to take advantage of the FREE days. I wanted to, and I scheduled them...then wimped out and changed my mind at the last minute. I wish I had a clear reason for why, but I think what it boils down to is the value of the book. While I have no issue with giving away tons books to friends, family and bloggers, I just couldn't bring myself to offer it up to the general public for nothing.

But an opportunity came my way last week that I absolutely fell in love with. A Labor Day of Love promotion, where a group of indie authors banned together to promote each other, support each other, and reach new fans with a lower 'sale' price. I'm so thrilled to be a part of this wonderful event, and can't wait to see the outcome of our efforts. Please feel free to share!


Enjoy, and have a wonderful Labor Day of Love!

Bad Reviews: To Leave or Not to Leave

 I just read a post this morning by the wonderfully generous author, Tahlia Newland. She runs a site called Awesome Indies, and has done a lot to help boost awareness of indie writers. She talks in this post about grappling with whether or not she should write negative reviews for books she does not like, or whether she should keep her thoughts to herself where that is concerned. I have talked briefly about the importance of reviews in an earlier post, but I will give you some additional thoughts on the subject.

Let’s start by being honest, the ONLY people who sit and debate the nuances of reviews and whether or not fake 5-star reviews skew the entire credibility of the book review system are authors and people in the publishing industry. The typical reader does not sit there biting their fingernails and wondering if the review is genuine or not…nor to they likely care. **you gasp** What? How could they not care? They are being deceived by someone’s grandmother in Terre Haute!

Unless an author has 200 first cousins, each with their own Amazon account, how many fake 5-star reviews can they realistically generate to uproot the system and convince people to buy their books? Consumers are not as stupid as people want to think, and good quality books will rise to the top regardless. Reviews matter, and it’s my opinion that if you are a writer, and someone reaches out to you and tells you they truly enjoyed your book…you should (kindly) ask them to leave a review.

But back to the topic of Tahlia’s article. Should we as authors write bad reviews about other peoples work, or should we stay mum and be supportive? I think you should do whatever the hell you want, but I’ll tell you what works for me. Here is what’s posted on my Goodreads author page regarding reviews:

About books I review...
I am an author, so I appreciate the value of a 5-star review. I know that those stars mean more to an author than they do to me as the reviewer who's doling them out. That being said, if I like a book at all, chances are I'm going to give it 5-stars. However, in the detailed description of my review is where I will attempt to explain what I actually thought of the book, so people can get a better idea of exactly how much I liked or loved it.

If I did not enjoy a book, or was unable to finish it, I simply will not review it. I have no interest in bashing anyone else's hard work.

I’m not saying everyone should adopt this same practice, what I’m saying is that it doesn’t really matter that much what we as individual authors want to do. The bottom line is (going back to the point I made earlier), the typical reader would NEVER even think of applying this thought process to their reviews. They are going to leave whatever the hell is on their mind when they finish the book…and I’ve seen some real doozies. Authors, who are fortunate enough to have books that are read by many people, could never control the reviews no matter how hard they try. Reviews by honest readers will always prevail. Poorly written novels and books that are littered with bad grammar and hideous formatting will be called out - you better believe it. It just doesn’t feel right to me to be the one to do it.

I’m comfortable with the ‘if you haven’t anything nice to say, say nothing at all’ mantra.

Please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

If Bridget Jones had Sex with Christian Grey

Many of you have already seen this post on my website, but I've had a few people ask me about it lately, so I thought I would add it to my blog as well. Enjoy ;)

I’m old enough (we’ll leave it at that) to remember when Bridget Jones’ Diary was first published, and quickly turned into a genre-busting phenomenon. It was, and still is one of my favorite books of all time. So I decided to take Bridget Jones’ Diary and marry it with today’s biggest book-buster, Fifty Shades of Grey – another book I also read and thoroughly enjoyed. So my friends, I give you:

If Bridget Jones had Sex with Christian Grey
by Dina Silver
~ Sunday 1 January
129 lbs. (but post-Christmas), alcohol units 14 (but effectively covers 2 days as 4 hours of party was on New Year’s Day), cigarettes 22, calories 5424, times I bit my bottom lip 4 (2 were on purpose), times I rolled my eyes at Christian 1, helicopter rides 0 (thank God!)

Food consumed today (wasn’t hungry but he made me eat):
2 pkts of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
1 bowl of oatmeal
Scrambled eggs with bacon
2 Bloody Mary’s - count as food as contains Worcester sauce, tomatoes & celery stick (note to self, biting celery stick works as aphrodisiac on Christian)
Filet with béarnaise and new cold potatoes
1/3 Ciabatta loaf with Brie

Noon. London: Christian’s flat.  Ugh. The last thing on earth I feel physically, emotionally or mentally equipped to handle is one more flogging this morning. My inner goddess (who’s bloated from sodium rimmed margaritas) is about ready to join a convent. I do my best to pretend I’m asleep, but I can feel Christian’s excitement on my arse. Double Ugh.

“I know you’re awake, Miss Jones,” he whispers.

I open one eye the tiniest bit and catch him looking at me with a ghost of a smile. His scorching, intense gaze makes me flush scarlet. “Pass me that glass, darling,” I say, coughing through my dry throat.

Christian hands me the glass containing a mixture of warm Diet Coke and melted ice cubes from last night at 2 a.m.
He sits up, and stares at me, eyes ablaze. “I want you to wear the silver balls to Una and Geoffrey Alconbury’s New Year’s Day Turkey Curry buffet,” he says.

Oh my!

“Holy hell, have you gone mad?” I ask.

“I have, Miss Jones, mad for you.”

Exhausted, I let out an inflated yawn then look into those dark grey, irresistible eyes of his. I’m about to speak, but a small belch escapes my lips instead. “Fine,” I muster. Anything that will get me back to sleep so I can patch up this hangover. My inner goddess officially has a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the outside of her room.

“Thank you, Miss Jones,” he says.

7:00 p.m.  Christian dresses for the party in his grey flannel pants that hang gloriously from his hips, and a white dress shirt, unbuttoned. He’s insisting I wear my plum dress (thank you brilliant Spanx!), silver balls, and heels. I manage the necessary jumping jacks required to heave the Spanx over my pale thighs, and am giddy that the balls were inserted prior to doing so (v.v.g).

8:30 p.m.  “Bridge!” Mum squeals as we enter the Alconbury’s home. “I have a surprise for you, do you want a surprise?”

“No!” I bellow.

“Guess who’s here, Darling?” she asks me with a wink.

“I don’t care,” I say, eager to drag Christian to the buffet and then head home.

“Mark Darcy, you remember Mark Darcy, darling,” she assures me then addresses Christian. “Bridget used to run round his lawn with no clothes on.”

Mortified I look up at Christian, his lips are parted, his eyes ablaze from my mum’s comments - his desire for me is liquid and smoldering. I roll my eyes.

Oh no!

Christian grabs me and pulls me close before addressing my mum. “Thank you so much Mrs. Jones, but Bridget and I must be going.”

“What?” she squeals, “No, darling, you’ve only just arrived,” she says and raises a tray from the sideboard. “Have a gherkin, please darling.”

Excited, I grab one from the tray. Christian watches me chew it and whispers that he has his own gherkin waiting for me as well.

“Laters baby,” he says to my mother and pulls me back out through the front door.

The end :)

Why Sue Grafton can suck it

This morning, a fellow, fabulous author friend Jen Tucker posted an article in which bestselling author Sue Grafton was interviewed. She was asked her opinion on self-publishing. Here is an excerpt:

Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?
Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.

In light of our Louisville neighbor John Locke’s blockbuster indie sales, and the growing percentage of each best-seller list being filled out by “indie” writers, do you still feel that advice is solid? I know it was the standard advice a few years ago, but is it still good advice?
If so, what hard work are indie success stories too lazy to complete? Is it possible that indie publishing is more effective than querying agents & publishers, for the new writer? More and more agents and publishers seem to be treating indie books as the new slush pile.

Good questions.  Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Don’t get me started. Oops..you already did.

So, why is this important? Because she's not only irresponsible, she's ill-informed, and her statements are outrageously ignorant. Forget that she's egotistical. I can live with that. But the fact that she could be swaying someone's choice on whether or not they should take a chance on their dream - after they've more than likely spent years writing and trying to find an agent is reprehensible. Self-publishing is a gift to authors who are overlooked by the industry or don't have the required connections to get there manuscript in the door. And MANY more than she estimates have become wildly successful.

But I think her biggest crime is her lack of support for aspiring authors. Her comments show complete disregard for those writers who have 'done the hard work' but can't seem to catch a break. Self-publishing is their break.

And last time I checked, the NYT Bestseller list, it was littered with indie authors. 

For Authors: Tips on using Goodreads

What more could an aspiring author in this day and age hope for than a website dedicated to millions (yes, millions!) of readers. Think Facebook for readers. If you do not have a Goodreads account, get one. Now. I’ll wait…

Excellent work. I can see that you take orders nicely, which means we’ll get along swimmingly! This is not going to be a Goodreads tutorial, I’m sorry. You will have to mill around there and make it part of your comfort zone on your own. What I will help you with is pointing out some wonderful opportunities offered by Goodreads that will allow you to get your work in front of a few millions books lovers. And if you are an author, you need to label yourself a Goodreads Author so that you will get an author dashboard, and be qualified as such.

 - Giveaways
If you go to your Author Dashboard, there is a section titled Giveaways where you can schedule a giveaway for your book. Currently they only allow paperback copies. I have done three of them, and had thousands of people enter to win my book, add the book to their 'TO READ' list, and many who have gone on to purchase. So this is a great way to get some exposure for your title.

- Friends
I went on and friended readers who I found were interested in chick-lit or contemporary romance, and saw many of these people add my book to their lists. Make friends! Add other authors, and follow people who read your genre. Interacting with people on the site in a genuine way can garner you some really amazing connections.

- Reach out to readers
When I find readers on GR who show a real love for my genre, I send them a private message asking them if they'd be interested in a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review on GR. No one has said no, and in fact most people are genuinely touched to have been asked.

- Joining GR Groups
There is a 'GROUPS' link at the top, where readers can join groups that represent their favorite genre. I have joined a few of them, and also reached out to a few of the group moderators to ask if they would consider suggesting One Pink Line as a group read. The groups are not a venue for promotion, but it’s another great forum to connect with readers.

- Advertise
Lastly, I did run an ad campaign through GR that started in December of 2011. I spent $150 (you can spend as much as you want), and my campaign is actually still running. It's hard for me to track exactly which views have turned into sales, but GR has a pretty decent report they provide...and sales have been doing well, so who knows. But I am a girl who believes in the power of advertising, so I tend to suggest it to people. However, that being said, I don not think this has worked for me. I’m guessing you would need to spend a great deal more than $150 to make an impact, so I most likely won’t be doing another ad campaign.

Thanks for hanging with me today, please join the site!!

Part 4 of My Publishing Journey: Sales

Yes, it’s wonderful that I was able to achieve my dream of becoming a published author, but dammit, now I want my book to sell. I have no problem admitting that I want people to buy my books, and I want to be able to make a living doing this. So in order for me to do that, I need to have sales. I have seen many interviews with authors who say they simply wanted to write a book, and the fact that people are buying it at all is a bonus. Well, I’m not going to lie to you and say that, because it is important for me to sell as many copies as I can, and to have my stories reach as many people as possible. And if you’re a new author, and you're being honest with yourself, it should be important to you too.

So here are some sales numbers for One Pink Line during her first few months in publication.

November 2011:   Kindle, 141 copies
                           Paperback, 74 copies
                           (easily 20 of the paperbacks went to my mother-in-law)

December 2011:   Kindle, 182 copies
                           Paperback, 49 copies

January 2012:      Kindle, 602 copies
                           Paperback, 34 copies
                           Nook, 36 copies

February 2012:     Kindle, 1158 copies
                           Paperback, 19
                           Nook, 32

March 2012:         Kindle, 1892 copies
                           Paperback, 14
                           Nook, 25

What is the point of posted sales numbers? Well, I promise you it’s not to make me look cool and accomplished, b/c even though there are writers with lower numbers, there are certainly writers with much higher ones too. It’s quite simply to show new authors interested in self-publishing, that it’s possible…with a shitload lot of hard work. I also think it’s interesting to see how much more Kindle sales I’ve had than any other format.

Now for the magic potion that got me those sales…
It doesn’t exist…but that doesn’t mean you can’t concoct your own like I did. It goes back to a lot of hard work. When I tell you that I spend no less than 5-6 hours a day in front of my computer, networking, posting, tweeting, reaching out to bloggers, Pinning things, hanging out on Goodreads, researching, reading articles, etc., I am not exaggerating. It’s exhausting, but it can pay off. In my next post, I’m going to begin to walk you through some of the things I’ve done that I believe have helped me gain an audience for my book.

Thanks for reading what I have to say, and please join the site!

Part 3 of My Publishing Journey - Launching my Book

It’s late October 2011, and my book just went live on Amazon. I wrote a book. It bears repeating…I wrote a book. So now I had to let people know about it! My goal that day (I think it was 10/27/11) was to try and get as many people that I knew to buy the book - that day - so that it would debut with a high ranking on Amazon. In my humble opinion (I hate texty acronyms), that Amazon is king, and a books ranking, reviews, and presence on that site is the key to success. I will blog more about the specifics on that another day. But on October 27th, my goal was to come out with a bang. That morning I sent an email to all of my friends, and basically anyone whose email was stored in my computer over the last five years. Here is the email I sent:

My book is on Amazon!

Yes, I wrote a book!   It's titled, One Pink Line...and so begins my Shameless Self Promotion Tour (SSPT)! 

As some of my favorite people (and those most inclined/willing/obligated to buy, read, and positively review my book!) I have a huge favor to ask. If you plan on buying One Pink Line through Amazon, please do so TODAY! 

Why is she being so bossy you ask? Because my goal is to try and boost my Amazon rating, and one of the factors are purchases per day. Let me also follow that request with...please don't feel obligated! I swear I will never really know/care if you bought it, so you can simply tell me you enjoyed it and I'll gladly believe you.

And if you don't buy it today...any other day is entirely acceptable. The link is below, and please forward this to any of your fabulous friends/family/enemies/book clubs who might be interested. Did I mention SHAMELESS!?

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I came across like a bit of a spaz, but most of these people know me pretty well, so it wasn’t entirely intrusive. I’m not sure of exactly how many people I sent that email to, but it worked!

Yup, there’s OPL in all her hot pink glory at #4 right under James Patterson and John Grisham. It bears repeating…James Patterson and John Grisham! I was astounded, and this was the paperback version, my Kindle copy hadn’t even been available that that point. I sold 106 books on that day alone (gives you some insight into what Grisham/Patterson are doing pretty much every day), and that was enough to allow me to debut at #4 in Contemporary Fiction. Now, let’s not be fooled, it stayed in the top 20 for a few days, and then moved quickly down into the thousands. But that’s the paperback book, and no one cares so much about that one. It’s the kindle copy that is the true measure of success.

Prior to the kindle version of OPL becoming available, I did extensive research on ebook pricing, and would encourage anyone else to do the same. Ultimately, you should do what you think is best for you, but there are so many great articles out there on this critical topic. Here is one in Huff Post by fabulous author Melissa Foster.

Many indie authors like myself were offering their ebooks for $.99 or FREE. I simply could not bring myself to do that, so I chose another popular indie price point, $2.99. I have seen $2.99 referred to as “the new $.99” but the royalty difference is significant. If you price your book at $.99, Amazon will give you a 35% royalty rate, and you will make $.35 per sale. Whereas, if you bump your book price to $2.99, Amazon will give you a 70% royalty rate, and you will make $2.09 per sale. To me, that is a significant difference, and yet I don’t think that $2.99 is a significant price for a reader to pay for a good book. In fact, I think it’s an amazing opportunity for readers to discover new authors with very little investment.

So I priced my ebook and uploaded it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. And there it was, uploaded and ready for sale, now all I had to do was sit and wait, and surely people would just find it and buy it. Right? Eh, not so much.

In my opinion, Amazon is the key to success. It’s as simple as that, and I knew that going in. And as much as friends and family helped boost my initial debut, they would never be the key to my long-term success. Again, I did extensive research on what other successful self-pubbed authors had to say, and I learned early on that I needed to ingratiate myself to Amazon. If you are a writer considering self-publishing, some of the absolute BEST articles on the topic can be found on Joe Konrath’s blog. He has so much fantastic information, I suggest you set aside a day or two and read as much as you can.

In order for my ranking, and overall presence, on Amazon to improve, I needed sales for my book. And in order to get sales from strangers, I would need some good reviews. Let me just say, when it comes to reviews, I’m completely shameless in asking for them. If someone contacts me and says they enjoyed my book - I ask them to leave a review on Amazon. I was actually surprised by how many people I begged asked, who had no idea they had the option of writing a review on Amazon. These same people had all admitted to reading reviews of other books, but had never attempted to leave one themselves. So if you’re an author, and wondering why people aren’t’ leaving reviews, I would suggest asking them to do so. Reviews are a critical factor, along with sales and magic dust, which contribute to boosting a books ranking on Amazon. Therefore, I will continue to pester people about reviewing my books…assuming they enjoyed them.

My next post will focus on sales numbers. I’m not really one to chat about how many copies I’ve sold, but I always appreciate when other authors share their sales numbers because it gives/gave me hope. Please ‘join this site’ on the right so I can look popular and important.