There’s an exclusive excerpt from Tuff Enough on Books+Main!
Tuff Enough will be part of the Love Under Siege Anthology coming this September!
OMG! I hope you’re ready to visit Hazard Falls, Kansas, and fall in love! Book 1, Don’t Fight It, starts off the series and it’s hot! Keep reading for an excerpt below!
When it feels right, don’t fight it.
Shane and Tucker have been mourning their wife’s death for two years. Their love for each other and their daughter has gotten them through the rough time. But while Shane is ready to take a chance on a new future, Tucker is stuck in the past, finding it hard to let go.
Paige is trying to put her life back together after her marriage crumbled following her husband’s arrest. Leaving California behind, she moves to Kansas, taking a job as a housekeeper and a nanny to a six-year-old girl.
She shouldn’t be dreaming of her sexy new bosses, but after seeing a steamy encounter between the two men, she can’t get either of them out of her mind.
Shane is certain Paige is the one who can finally heal them, but convincing her and Tucker might take a little scheming. Will it backfire or give them all a second chance at love?
Pondering what she was missing from her growing list, Paige eyed some of the photographs on the shelves beside her. There were pictures of Arianna, Shane, and another man who had to be his husband, Tucker. But in some of the them, when the little girl was much younger, there was a woman in the photos. That was probably the surrogate they’d used to have a child, Paige thought, because Arianna was the spitting image of her. The woman clearly knew the men well, since her arms were around both in several of the photos. Maybe a relative or close friend? And where was she now?
“That’s my mommy.”
Paige smiled at Arianna who’d wandered over. “She’s very pretty. You look just like her.”
“Thank you. A lot of people say that. I miss her, though. She’s in heaven with my cat, Shadow.”
Squatting down, Paige brushed the little girl’s hair back from her face. “I’m sorry to hear that. My mom and dad are in heaven too. I miss them very much. But you know what?” She pointed to the left side of her chest. “They’re always here in my heart where I can love them forever.”
“That’s what Daddy says when we watch the videos Mommy made before she went to heaven. She reads stories to me in them and just talks about things we did so I don’t forget them or her. Papa doesn’t like watching the videos though—they make him sad.”
The surrogate was probably a relative on Tucker’s side then. “Well, everyone grieves in their own way. And he has you and your daddy to love and make him happy, right?”
“Right,” Arianna said with a firm nod.
“Ahem,” a deep rumble sounded from behind Paige. She almost yelped in surprise as she stood and spun around, not having heard anyone else come into the house.
Holy hell, the man was gorgeous. This had to be Tucker Wilson. She recognized him from the photos, which hadn’t done him justice. Where his husband was tall, dark and handsome, this man was a brown-haired god—although a broody one, if his scowl was any indication. He could have been a Viking if his several-inches-long hair was blonde and this was more than ten centuries ago.
Paige realized she was gaping when he raised an eyebrow at her, and she gave herself a mental shake, reminding herself the man was married and gay.
“Hi, Papa!” Arianna launched herself toward her father, who managed to open his arms in time to catch her.
“This is Paige. She knows how to make butterscotch pancakes!”
“Really?” He shifted her onto his left hip, holding her in place with one arm.
“Uh-huh. Paige, Papa likes butterscotch as much as I do. Daddy likes chocolate better though.”
Paige smiled. “Well, I’ll have to remember to get both kinds of chips, so everyone can have what they like. Hi, you’re obviously Tucker. It’s nice to meet you.”
She stepped forward and held out her hand. Tucker hesitated, his gaze scanning her face. What he was searching for was beyond her. Paige almost dropped her hand before he reached out and shook it, then released it so he could set his daughter back onto the floor. “It’s nice to meet you too, Paige.” His tone was flat, and she got the impression he wasn’t all that thrilled about her being there, despite his words. He glanced toward the kitchen. “Did Shane mention dinner?”
“Um . . . yes. He said something about going to . . . um . . . sorry, I forgot the name of the restaurant.”
“Daddy said we were going to Bar None for dinner, Papa.” Arianna twirled around in several circles as she spoke.
A small frown appeared on Tucker’s face again, and Paige quickly said, “If that’s a problem, there’s plenty of food in the refrigerator and pantry. I can whip up something for dinner, so we don’t have to go out.”
Before Tucker could respond, Arianna stopped spinning and glared up at him. “But I want to go out, Papa. Daddy promised.”
His gaze fell to his daughter, and after a moment, he tugged on one of her pigtails. “We’ll go out, sweetheart. Daddy was right to suggest it. It would be rude to ask Paige to cook her first night here.”
“Yay!” She bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. “Will you dance with me if our song comes on?”
“Of course. Don’t I always?”
Tucker glanced at the clock on the satellite dish box in the entertainment center and then back at Paige. “I’m sure Shane said we’d leave for dinner at 6:00, so I have time to get some more work done.” He stroked his daughter’s head. “I’ll be back in a little bit, sweetheart. Turn off the TV and read or play ’til it’s time to go.”
His mouth was flat as he nodded at Paige, before turning around without another word, leaving her standing there. She heard the backdoor slam shut, probably a little harder than necessary. She didn’t know what Tucker’s problem with her was—she got the impression he didn’t want her there—and Paige hoped she wasn’t going to cause a rift between the two men. Not only did she really need the job with all but one of her bank and investment accounts still frozen, but she had nowhere else to go. She couldn’t go back to California, not with the press and people who blamed her for her husband’s crimes hounding her, nor did she want to go back to her hometown. There was nobody left there for her anymore. She’d been an only child and had lost touch with friends from her youth after permanently moving to the West Coast.
“Come on, Paige. I’ll show you our chickens.”
The corners of her mouth ticked upward, as she let the little girl take her hand and lead her to the backdoor. It was time to start over again. Hopefully, she could convince her new bosses they needed her as much as she needed them.
Copyright ©2018 Samantha A. Cole
After the basket of clothes was empty, Paige noticed some of Ari’s homework was still sitting on the coffee table. She picked up the girl’s knapsack from the floor and put the pages into their proper places. Pulling out the teacher’s communication folder, Paige checked to see if there were any new notifications. There was a consent form for an upcoming class trip that either Shane or Tucker had to sign. Reading through it, Paige noticed the school was looking for volunteer chaperones to accompany the class to a place called the Native American Village, about fifty minutes away from Hazard Falls. It looked like a fun trip. Apparently, it was an indoor and outdoor museum of sorts, showing the students how the Native Americans had lived before they lost their land to the settlers who’d taken over. There were teepees and artifacts, demonstrations on basket weaving and cooking, and plenty of other activities and sights for the children to learn from.
Leaving the consent form on the table, Paige stood and walked into the kitchen, but stopped short when she saw Tucker and Shane making out by the sink. Damn, that was so fucking hot to watch. Over the past few days, the men had been seducing Paige—that was the only way to describe it. Whenever they could, one or the other had cornered her, kissing her, getting her all hot and bothered, and making her scream in ecstasy, but never at the same time. Shane had told her they wanted her comfortable with them as individuals before taking her as a couple. She highly suspected the men had been having sex with each other every chance they could, because neither had had sex with her, despite her begging. They’d been driving her crazy with passion but had only gotten her off with their hands and mouths. Neither had let her return the favor. And damn it, she wanted to. She wanted more. Never in her life had she thought of being with two men at once—in reality, not a fiction-induced fantasy—but now she could dream of nothing but.
Shane’s big hands were in his husband’s hair as he held his head where he wanted it. His tongue was fucking Tucker’s mouth, eliciting soft moans of delight. Meanwhile, Tucker’s hands were clutching Shane’s hips as he ground their groins together. Paige was frozen in place, feeling herself grow wet as she stared at the erotic scene before her. Her nipples hardened, almost to the point of pain.
As if sensing her in the room, Shane lifted his head, and his lust-filled gaze found hers. Tucker’s wasn’t far behind. Shane grinned at her. “Like what you see, darlin’?”
Unable to find her voice, Paige just nodded. Both men had shifted their stances, and the sweatpants they were wearing did nothing to hide their mutual arousal.
“Want to join us?”
Fuck, yeah! She wanted that more than anything right now.
She didn’t verbally answer, and she wasn’t sure if she’d given him a non-verbal response either, but his smile widened. Taking a step back, Shane gestured toward Tucker. “Come and take my place.”
Her eyes narrowed. Was he going to leave? She didn’t want him to.
Apparently reading her mind, Tucker chuckled. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, he’s not leaving. You’ll find Shane likes to watch for a bit before joining in on the action. Come here.”
When he held his hand out to her, she found her feet moving toward him. She placed her hand in his and felt a jolt of electricity. With one final glance at Shane, Paige stepped into Tucker’s embrace. His mouth descended on hers, and she was instantly transported to Heaven. His smooth lips were a combination of soft and hard. She moaned when his tongue darted out and demanded entry into her mouth. When she parted her lips, he didn’t hesitate, sweeping in to taste her. His hands caressed her back on their way down to her ass. But instead of settling over her yoga pants, he dipped his hands below the waistband, finding her bare cheeks separated only by the lacy thong she was wearing. Kneading her ass, he groaned into her mouth, then ground his pelvis against hers. His cock was firm against her abdomen, and she wanted to climb his body to get that piece of solid flesh where she wanted it the most.
Paige lost track of time as Tucker devoured her. Suddenly, she felt another hard body behind her. Shane’s erection settled at the small of her back. His hand pushed her hair to one side, before his mouth latched onto her neck. He nibbled and licked his way to her ear. “You have no idea how fucking sexy it is to watch the two of you. We want you, Paige. We want you in our bed, pleasing you, fucking you, making you spiral out of control. Tell us you want that too.”
His words and hot breath sent shivers down her spine. Tucker’s mouth left hers, and he stared down at her. “It’s your choice, sweetheart. No pressure. If you want some more time, we’ll give it to you. Just know that if we can’t enjoy your body yet, we’ll be enjoying each other’s while imagining you between us.”
Paige groaned at the image that flashed in her mind. Damn, they knew the fine art of seduction and used it to their advantage. Swallowing hard, she placed one hand on Tucker’s chest and the other on Shane’s hip. “I want you . . . both. But I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’ve never . . . with two—”
“We know, sweetheart,” Shane said, while running his hands up her flanks to the underside of her breasts. He tested their weight. “We’ll ease into this. If something scares you or you’re unsure of anything, just say so. We can’t read your mind. While we’ll be able to read most of your body language, it’s best if you come right out and tell us something’s wrong. The last thing we want to do is hurt or frighten you. Understood?”
She glanced over her shoulder, and her gaze met Shane’s. The combination of tenderness and lust she saw there threatened to unravel her. Paige knew every single one of his words had been the truth. Trusting them to take care of her, she nodded. “Yes, I understand. I promise I’ll tell you if I’m scared or unsure.”
Tugging on her hips, Shane coaxed Paige to take a step backward. He then bent down and swooped her up into his arms. She let out a startled squeak and clutched his shoulders. “Shane!”
“Sh, sweetheart,” he replied as he strode toward her bedroom, with Tucker following. “We don’t want to wake Ari.”
Once the three of them were behind the closed door, Shane set her on her feet again, then sat in a rocking chair that occupied one corner of the room. Volcanic heat emanated from his eyes. “Stay perfectly still, Paige. Undress her, Tuck.”
A smile spread across Tucker’s handsome face as he closed the distance between him and Paige. “Told you he likes to watch. He also likes to give orders.”
The corners of her mouth curved upward, despite her nervousness. “I can see that.”
Copyright ©2018 Samantha A. Cole
I’m so happy to be a part of this anthology with the amazing Abbie Zanders, Caitlyn O’Leary, Lindsay Cross, Maryann Jordan, MJ Nightingale, Patti Fiala, and KaLyn Cooper. And thanks to Drue Hoffman for all the work you’ve done on helping us get this book together!
You can preorder this book, with its 8 full-length novels, for only $0.99. This is a limited-time-available book. Get it while you can!
Tuff Enough by Samantha A. Cole: While security operative Jason “Tuff” Tanner lives for dangerous assignments, he likes his downtime in his quiet neighborhood too. But that peacefulness is suddenly interrupted when his new next-door neighbor becomes a target for someone hell bent on revenge. Canine rescuer Concetta “Chet” Suarez brings all his protective instincts to the surface, along with feelings he’s never experienced with any other woman. Will he lose her before he ever gets a chance to make her his?
Never Forget by KaLyn Cooper: Dreams or nightmares. Truth or lies. He can’t tell them apart after he sees the woman in his dreams. She is the key to his past, present, and future… She just buried her husband next to her fiancé who was killed in an explosion while they were on a mission together ten years ago. She doesn’t need another man in her life, until someone tries to kill her.
Hot Fury by Lindsay Cross: Hardened ex-FBI agent Adam Wise shielded himself from any weakness — until Tara slipped under his defenses and taught him to love. Past demons refused to remain dormant and Tara is caught in the crossfire of revenge — now Adam must risk everything to reclaim the woman he loves.
Lincoln by PJ Fiala: Lincoln Winter is hired to bring in a criminal who is selling arms on the black market and he never misses a mark. That is until the sultry Skye Sommers crosses his path and unwittingly gets herself caught up in much more than she can handle. Can they stay alive long enough to find a killer, an arms dealer and love?
Mace by Maryann Jordan: Mace Hanna’s security business keeps him busy…too busy for a relationship. When providing security for a single mom and her young son who has witnessed a murder, he vows to keep them safe…and finds love along the way.
Black Jack by MJ Nightingale: Undercover FBI agent, Jackson Black doesn’t expect to find love while working deep undercover on a RICO case. But he can’t resist Dawn, the sexy accountant, who keeps crossing his path during the investigation putting both of their lives on the line.
Her Guarded Hero by Caitlyn O’Leary: It’s been five years since his tragic loss and Navy SEAL, Dalton Sullivan heads to Lake Tahoe to be alone. The last thing he expects is horse trainer, Aurora Chance to literally fall at his feet. As danger and raw emotion churn around them, can Dalton be brought back into the light?
Not Quite Broken by Abbie Zanders: Former POW Brian McCain is so busy fighting his demons, there’s not enough left over for anyone else – not even the one woman who has a way of shining light into his darkness. But when a serial killer turns his sights on her, Brian realizes he’s not quite as broken as he thinks he is.
I’ve been an indie author for over three years with over twenty self-published books under my belt. While I haven’t hit the big best-seller lists yet, I’ve done well enough to support myself with just my royalties each month. I don’t claim to have all the answers or know everything there is to self-publishing—far from it—but I have learned a LOT since releasing my first book. I like to pay it forward after several indie authors took me under their wings in the beginning and gave me some much-needed advice.
So here is a list of things I’ve learned over the past three years. While not everything on the list may apply to every author, most will. Also, these are not written in stone. Some authors may disagree with something on the list, but this is what has worked for me and is a list of do’s and don’ts that I suggest.
1) NEVER let your family or friends read your books when you are first starting out. Why? They love you and won’t want to hurt you by saying your writing sucks. While my first attempt at writing a novel had a good storyline, I did every writer “don’t.” I used dialogue tags like crazy. I had information dumps that could have been spread out over different scenes. I had 50+ word sentences. I was head hopping (getting into the mind of more than one character in a scene.) I was having more than one character talking in a paragraph. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
2) As soon as you can afford one, get an editor. If you can’t afford an editor, at least try to get a proof-reader. If you can’t afford that either, then get about 7-10 experienced beta readers to help you find as many errors as possible.
My first 4 books were done without an editor or proofreader, and when I finally got an editor to go through my backlist, she thought they’d actually been edited before since there had been little my betas and I had missed by that point.
3) Get a professional cover. Again, this is something I did on my own in the beginning. I self-taught myself how to use photoshop, which wasn’t easy, but with online tutorials, I was able to muddle through. Many of my readers still love my original covers, but the new covers I had done are so much more eye-catching.
There are plenty of cover designers out there who have pre-made covers for you to choose from. Just search for “pre-made covers” on Facebook or even Fiverr. Make sure the images used by the designer have been legally purchased. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse if someone sues you for a copyright infringement. Using a celebrity’s image, or any image for that matter, that you have not paid for or have been given WRITTEN consent to use, will get you in a heap of trouble. This goes for images and video clips for covers, teasers, trailers, websites, etc. DON’T DO IT. If an image or video clip has a watermark on it, not only are you asking to get sued, but the book community will call you out on it. (Whether it was an honest mistake or not.)
4) Get Vellum (for Mac computers only) or hire a professional formatter. Trying to read a poorly formatted book will drive most readers crazy. What looks like a properly formatted file in Word or similar program may not convert to Amazon’s mobi or other sites’ epub files correctly. There are templates that can be found for the proper formatting for mobi, epub, and other conversions.
5) Get Calibre if you’re not using Vellum. This is a downloadable program that will convert your Docx files to mobi, epub, etc. files.
6) Create the following as soon as possible, even if it’s before your first release.
After your book is released or set for pre-order:
7) Start friend requesting bloggers and authors (especially those who write in your genre and whose books you’ve read and enjoyed). Share the posts about their books or events. When you release your book, they may just return the favor. I have close to 5000 “friends” in the book world. Many of my readers constantly share my posts and pimp me in group, and several bloggers and authors give me shout outs on new releases and sales.
8) Start joining groups that allow you to promote your books in them. Make sure you read the rules to avoid being banned for posting on the wrong day of the week or the wrong genre.
9) DO NOT private message or email other authors at random, begging them to buy your book and review it. Let me repeat that, DO NOT private message or email other authors at random, begging them to buy your book and review it. At the least, they will ignore you. At most, they will unfriend and block you. At most and worst, (yeah that sounds weird but true) they will unfriend, block, and then post a screenshot of the message so others can block you. Usually this is only done when the sender gets nasty with the receiver after they were told that PMing and begging other authors is not proper etiquette in the book world.
10) This is the only time #9 is socially acceptable. AFTER developing a relationship with another author (not a five minute one but cultivated over several months—commenting on their posts, joining and being active in their groups, meeting them at signings, and maybe having a non-pitch private chat with them.) you may politely ask if they’d be interested in receiving a free copy of your book for an editorial review. Make sure it’s someone who reads/writes your genre. These reviews can be used on your book covers, in your blurbs, and in the editorial review section of you book’s page on Amazon. DO NOT be insulted if they turn you down. Many best-selling authors receive requests like this all the time. They don’t have time to accommodate everyone. Thank them for their consideration if they do have to turn you down.
11) Be very, very, VERY wary of anyone who cold emails you with an offer to either publish your book, promote your book, or review your book. Any “publisher” that emails you saying they saw your book and think they could get you more exposure if you let them relist it is not a real publisher. They are a vanity press (even though they’ll tell you they’re not) and will end up costing you a lot in up-front charges and royalties as they will now “own” your book for the next 5+ years. Any reviewer asking to be paid for a review is also trouble. Amazon does not allow paid reviews. If they can’t post on Amazon, don’t use them.
I know there is one such blogger who sends out cold emails that pitches that she can review you on her widely followed blog. When you answer, she comes back with the terms that it will cost you $75. Delete the email! There are several websites that this doesn’t apply to such as, Netgalley, Onlinebookclub, Hiddengems, and a few others. If it’s a blogger wanting to be paid for a review, run. Do not go to Fiverr or any other site like that and buy reviews. If Amazon catches you (and they have caught authors in the past) they will strip the reviews and possibly ban you from the site.
12) Join these Four Facebook author groups. They are invaluable with their information, and there are thousands of authors willing to give you input and advice. They do not allow promotions, drama, and bullying. No question is a stupid question. We’ve all been there before.
13) Do not expect your books to fly off the shelves after you release your first one or two. It’s very rare for a new indie author to have a breakout book and find an immediate following and success. When I first started out, I’d read a few articles that said an indie author shouldn’t expect to develop a decent following and royalties until after their 4th or 5th book. That was dead on in my case. I’d been steadily growing my readership base, and it wasn’t until after my 4th novel (with a novella thrown in there) that I had a spike in sales. While it was nice, it wasn’t huge.
But then a few best-selling authors shared my books with their readers (one because she happened to come across my first book without even knowing who I was, and she enjoyed it, and the other because I’d developed a relationship with her and during a chat—remember #9 above—she noted the first book in my series had just gone perma-free and posted it on her wall. My downloads for the day soared!) and my reader base grew. Then I got the holy grail of book advertising on Bookbub (after 17 tries) and again, that reader base grew even more. It continues to do so with each new release.
14) After you release your first book, start marketing like crazy. Actually, start marketing before that There are a ton of ways to do this cheap or free. Ask in one of the groups above for ways to do it because it’s too much to list here. In the meantime, start writing your next book! Series do very well, when it comes to developing a reader base. Readers love to read about side characters that caught their attention in books.
15) Consider Kindle Unlimited while first starting out. Yes, I know there is a lot of controversy over this lately, thanks to book stuffers and other issues, and some authors will disagree me. The great thing about KU is that, since readers can download as many KU books they want for $10 per month, there is no financial risk for them to try new authors. I will say that there are authors who have found great success in the wide markets, while others did better in KU. I’m the latter.
After 2 years in KU, I tried going wide for a year. While there were sales in the other markets, it was less than what I’d been doing in KU. After getting a Bookbub deal last December, I decided to go back into KU, and on the tail of that big promotion, my royalties quadrupled what I’d been doing on the wide markets. Many of my faithful followers, who now buy my books instead of borrowing so they can keep them, found me through KU.
16) Start doing takeovers when other authors are having them for new releases or cover reveals (or for any other reason.) Takeovers are 15-60 minutes long, (depending on the event) where you get to post about you and your books. You can post teasers, excerpts, requests to follow you on social media, etc. It exposes you to the followers of the other readers in the event. Remember to invite your own followers so they can find new authors too. Before you do your first takeover, find one and see how other authors are promoting themselves during it. Check out the contests they run too.
17) Do not pay a shit-ton of money for any course that offers to show you how to get instant, best-selling success and make 5 or 6 figure monthly in royalties. Most of them are bunk and only work in certain genres, or you can get the same advice for free if you do a few searches for the information. There are a few legit ones but some are very expensive.
18) Do not put your books in some obscure category, that they don’t fit in, in order to get an Amazon best-selling status. This is a sneaky tactic that is frowned upon by authors and readers alike. Be aware though that Amazon does randomly change authors’ categories and you might end up in one you didn’t select. This is based on also-boughts, kewords, and other things. Contact Amazon and explain how this is not your book’s genre and ask them to change it back
19) Do not “stuff” extra material in the back of your books in order to get a higher page-read count for KU. If you’re not sure what this is and why it’s not a good idea, just Google #bookstuffers #bookstuffing #getloud #tiffanygate or #bookscammers and you’ll find out quickly. Do NOT try to scam the system and don’t follow someone who tries to teach you how to do it. You will get called out on it eventually.
20) Do NOT freak out when you get a bad review and definitely DO NOT respond to it.
These are a rite of passage for authors. Go to any well-known, best-selling author’s book and click on their 1-star reviews. It’ll make you feel much better. If a bad review (or even a good one) mentions specific grammatical errors or something that bothered them about your writing style (i.e. head hopping) that can be fixed, then use that as constructive criticism.
Go back and fix the errors and upload the new file so other readers get a better copy and will maybe leave you a 5-star review to counteract the 1-star review. The worst thing you can do on any bad review is to respond to it (don’t ask your readers to respond to it either.), unless you want to tank your career in less than a few hours. Don’t think that will happen? Google Dylan Saccoccio.
21) Develop your Facebook author group. Invite people to join when you’re doing takeovers. If a reader contacts you through social media or email to say how much they enjoyed your book, ask them to join. (Do not add anyone without their permission. It will get you blocked in many cases.) Post several times a day if you can, but at least once a day if you can’t. Don’t make it all about your books. Post fun stuff. Run contests. Ask for their book recommendations.
Tell them about yourself (nothing too personal, but enough that they can see you’re human just like them). Ask their opinion on a new cover. Ask them to help name a character, town, or business. Run a contest that has using the winner’s name as a character in your next book. Post your inspiration for a character (this is when it’s okay to post a celebrity photo because you’re not profiting from it.)
Post excerpts, covers, and teasers in there before anywhere else. If need be, create a spoiler group where readers can go discuss your latest release without spoiling it for those who haven’t read it yet. You can link your group to your pages. (I always invite authors who are trying to develop their group to come into mine to see how I interact with my members. If you’d like to join, it’s called The Sexy Six-Pack’s Sirens group.) One of the main things my readers say to me is they love how I make myself available to them. I respond to and interact with them all the time.
22) Newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters of successful authors to see what they include in theirs. Try to send a newsletter once a month. There are authors I subscribe to that send out a weekly newsletter in addition to the monthly one. The weekly one goes to readers who specially signed up for it, knowing they’ll be getting them often. Other readers only want new release updates, so they’ll sign up for the monthly one.
23) Book signings. Do not sign up for a book signing thinking you’re going to sell all the books you bring with you and make back all the money you shelled out for the event, hotel, travel, meals, and swag. You’re not going to. What you will gain is exposure. If you interact with the readers walking around, there’s more a chance that they’ll check out your books when they get back home. Do NOT sit there on your phone. Make eye contact. Point out the funny shirt they’re wearing or the really cute shoes. They will more often than not stop and start talking with you.
Figure out a way to draw the readers who have never heard of you to your table. (I currently put a card in the event bags and announce in the event group on FB that if they bring the card to my table, they can roll dice for doubles and win some special swag—the slightly more expensive stuff I can’t afford to just hand out like mugs, tote bags, mouse pads, and special bookmarks). Ask them where they’re from and what genres they like to read. Have a book pitch ready, but don’t make the conversation all about your books.
24) Do NOT let your ego get in the way. Other authors are not your competition. We help each other (well, most of us do) and really want to see everyone succeed. Listen to them if they offer advice. It may not work for you, but really consider it before tossing it aside. Think twice about posting something that’s going to stir up shit and get people in the book community upset with you. I’m not saying stay silent if you were wronged, but make sure you really were wronged before posting it. Your perception about something you’re upset about may not be the same as everyone else.
25) Check out bookfunnel or instafreebie as a way to distribute your ARCs (advanced reader copies) or free promotional books.
26) Book prices. Do NOT sell yourself short. You put too much work into your book to just give it away or make pennies on it. While making the first book in a series free or 99c when you have others at full price ($2.99 and up) is a great marketing strategy, don’t price every book at 99c. If your books are getting great reviews and follow through (the readers are purchasing the rest of your books after reading one), then price your books accordingly. This doesn’t mean you can’t run a sale or freebie on the book, but again, don’t underprice your hard work.
27) Pen names. These have been used for hundreds of years—they aren’t something new. There are many reasons why some authors use pen names (I do), and the most common reason is they want to keep their book life and real life separate. Some authors write erotic romance and have jobs that might be compromise if found out. They have children to protect too. Another reason they might use one is that the genre they write in is hard for a certain gender to get a following in (i.e. men writing romance).
If you don’t want readers to know your gender (there are millions of readers who don’t follow authors on social media) then use a gender-neutral name—Alex, Sawyer, Morgan, etc.—or initials. Using an opposite-gender or gender-neutral name does not give an author the right to pretend to be the opposite sex. Deceiving readers into thinking they are interacting with a member of the same sex on social media, where they might share personal information in private groups or chats, is wrong. This is how sexual predators find their victims online. If you wouldn’t want someone deceiving your 13-year-old child in this manner, don’t do it to your readers.
28) I shouldn’t have to say this, but do NOT plagiarize another author’s work—even it’s a small part of their book. There have been “authors” who have changed the characters from a M/F book into an M/M book and vice versa or have just changed the names to try and get away with it. You might get away with it for a while, but as it’s been proven, over and over again, you will eventually get caught and outed by one of the other author’s fans, and will be subject to being sued and banned on book sites.
29) Do NOT copy another author’s book cover.
Yes there are images from stock photo sites that can be used by anyone (most authors use those sites) and they end up on multiple books, but any good designer can make those images look unique with filters, merging them with other images, and using different fonts and colors.
30) Do NOT assume anyone with a similar title and book cover has intentionally copied you.Most times this is not the case. Again, anyone can use the images from those stock sites (unless it is sold as an exclusive, which costs a lot of money), and they may end up on dozens of covers. Case in point on similarities on covers: I’m in a multi-author series that is releasing one book every two weeks over the next few months. The next book is being released tomorrow and has been on pre-order. The book is named after the character’s nickname (one word).
Yesterday I noticed another book on pre-order that is being released 8 days later—it’s part of a third author’s world. It also uses that one-word nickname in the title with an adjective before it. It wouldn’t have caught my eye except they both have the title in the same color teal! It was a shade off, but close enough that I froze and said WTF? I contacted the world owner, as I’m in the same world, and the author in my book series and explained what happened. I didn’t want anyone saying one was copying the other.
Thankfully, both cover images are different enough, and one image is in color and the other is in black and white, that the font color and close title are the only things that are similar, so there shouldn’t be a problem. The world author was going to contact the other author and give her a heads up. (By the way, see what I did here? I didn’t scream foul and rant and rave. This was purely coincidental. I contacted the parties involved, explained the situation, and agreed there was no need to change the titles or coloring. Crisis and drama averted.)
31) Do NOT use song lyrics in your book unless you have written permission from the songwriter or the copyright has run out on it (usually 50-100 years after it is penned). Song titles are allowed.
32) Don’t buy exclusive photos if you can’t really afford them right now. Use that money to edit or market your book.
33) Don’t buy ISBN numbers if you don’t need them. Most of the time you don’t. As far as I know, Ingramspark is the only site that requires you to buy one from Bowker. (Most countries other than the US give them to you for free. Most brick and mortar stores require you get them from Bowker to be in their stores, but selling the print and ebook copies online don’t.)
34) When hiring an editor, proofreader, or cover designer, make sure you mesh first of all.My editor did a sample chapter for me, and was the only one to offer to do it when I was looking for an editor. Secondly, make sure everything is discussed up front. There should be no added fees at the end that weren’t agreed to. Read any contract with them carefully.
35) When contacting bloggers, understand that they too have lives. Give them more than a few days to read/review. When the blogger states that they aren’t able to r/r your book but they are able to share your promos, taken them up on that. Do NOT get mad or degrade them for that. Many bloggers might not accept your book to review for several reasons, such as they have a long list ahead of you or you don’t write in their preferred genre.
36) Sometimes, unexpected things happen too. If something happens to you, such as reviews go missing, you end up in a category that you didn’t put your book in, someone’s cover is similar to yours, you get bad reviews, or anything else that might frustrate you or get you depressed, please know this has happened to all of us–including the big-name, traditional-press authors. None of us are immune. The best thing to do is take a few deep breaths and talk to your fellow authors who have been there before.
Again, many of this is based on my own opinion and experience. Some authors may have a different opinion about some of the points I made, but I tried to cover the most general issues that new authors have questions about.
The Down & Dirty Anthology is HOT! We’ve set up a scavenger hunt for you to get a chance to check out all the stories and get to know our characters! The game will be open May 20-26. If you match up all of the authors with their characters, you’ll be entered to win a Kindle Voyager! How cool is that?
Let me introduce you to Cade & Jenna!
That’s the last time I ever take a bet against my captain. I lost. Big time. The payout? I ended up in front of a camera, with no shirt on, oil all over my skin, and being told not to roll my eyes. Now I’ve got women throwing themselves at me wherever I go, even at work. Yeah, most guys wouldn’t mind that, but, honestly, it got old really quick. Five years ago, I would’ve taken a lot of them up on their offers of a roll in the hay, but I’ve got responsibilites now. My orphaned nephew is counting on me, and I hope I can raise him right. But now he’s having trouble in Math and I have no idea how to do the Common Core stuff. Guess I have to hire a tutor or something. Maybe his teacher could give me some advice.
It was supposed to just be a parent/teacher conference . . . well, in this case, an uncle/teacher conference. But Cade wasn’t what I was expecting . . . at all! How am I supposed to act professional when all I can think about is him without his shirt on, muscles bulging, as he smiled for the camera? Have mercy!
Now that you have a few clues, head on over to the Down & Dirty Scavenger Hunt Form and enter my name, Samantha A. Cole, next to the character descriptions that fits Cade & Jenna best! Good luck!