DECEMBER

CELEBRATING What’s New In Publishing

12-15-18 – Will Dages, Findaway Voices: What’s New in Audio Books in 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Letter To Santa

Hi Santa - I know you have to decide whether I've been naughty or nice this year, and that what you do or don't leave under my tree will depend on how you see my behaviour. Specifically my writing behaviour.  So I thought I'd lay it all out here so you can see my side of the story (pun totally intended)  - and maybe I can influence you over the 'nice' side (and there'll also be a bottle of whiskey next to Rudolf's carrots!)

NAUGHTY
I didn't write as much as I could have. It seems that the more time I have (and I have plenty), the less I actually get done.  I'm easily distracted by things like also participating in a 52 Week Photo Challenge.

I still didn't finish any of my half-started full length stories. See above re being easily distracted. An idea, or a character, comes to me and won't go away until I put at least something down on paper. And then I want to hang around in that story for a while because it's all shiny and new.

I wrote lots of 'naughty' steamy scenes. My romances always include more than a touch of spice (maybe Mrs Clause might like one for her Kindle - gotta put in a promo wherever I can!)

I didn't go to my national conference this year, which is more sad than naughty, but I did miss out on meeting writing friends, pitching to an editor/agent and just soaking up the motivation and inspiration from just being surrounded by like-minded people.


NICE
 I finished two novellas this year! I hope you recognise the fact that for someone who's a notoriously slow writer, and a massive procrastinator, this is quite an achievement (and deserves at least one pressie under the treat at least).

On top of that I also managed a 1600 word short short story.

I put aside the fear of rejection that most of us writers battle, and entered the short short in a competition. I don't expect it to do any good (it was a bit of a rushed job), but I made the deadline and submitted which was the main goal.

The national romance competition which I took on managing actually ran reasonably smoothly with a winner announced on time! It was a huge job, but I totally enjoyed it (and it's a great distraction from actually writing.)

I discovered that I can be a 'pantser'. This was a bit like getting an early Christmas present, Santa. I'd committed to write for two box sets and didn't have the luxury of planning and plotting. I just put fingers to keyboard, and the story did appear. It was a huge leap for me as a writer - a leap of faith and a leap into uncharted territory. But I did it !

Overall, this was probably the most productive writing year I've had, so surely the Nice counteracts the Naughty? If you agree, a few things on my Wish List are :


- Bum Glue for sticking my behind in the seat (or on the couch where I tend to write) so I can be even more productive next year.

- Continued self-belief that I'm actually an ok writer with the potential be a really good writer.

- Good results in any comps I enter would be really fabulous.

- A successful pitch at this year's conference which leads to a contract.

- More red pens for the endless editing.

Thanks Santa x

www.andraashe@gmail.com

Monday, December 17, 2018

My New Holiday Romance by Kristin Wallace #NewRelease

Very happy to announce that my latest book has now officially released. It's a Christmas romance that originally launched as part of the Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 box set (which you can download for only 99 cents), but now I am publishing my story as a single title. 

SECOND CHANCE CHRISTMAS is part of my Palm Cove Tales series. It’s the follow-up to the Heiress Games trilogy, which launched this spring. This tale features desperate single mom, Mia Reynolds, the cousin of security expert Damon Grant (who appeared in the Heiress Games books). Mia has been hiding a very big secret about her daughter and now the truth is about to be revealed. 

Ten years ago, Mia Reynolds and Winthrop Barrington spent one magical Christmas together. Until lies and manipulation at the hands of Win’s wealthy family tore them apart and left Mia to raise a daughter on her own. Now, both of them have returned to their hometown of Palm Cove, Florida. Once they uncover the truth about what happened, can Mia and Win rediscover the love they once lost and celebrate a Second Chance Christmas with their daughter?



Excerpt:

Chapter Two

            Winthrop Barrington hadn’t been sure how he would feel upon seeing Mia again. Fury had been his first guess. Anger at her betrayal certainly. Regret at what might have been perhaps. Maybe even sadness over the memories that still snuck up on him when he least expected it. Memories that were all wrapped up in Christmas bows and twinkling lights.
            He had not expected the gut-wrenching pain. Just looking at her hurt, but he couldn’t direct his eyes away. He could have gazed at her for centuries and never tired of the view. Her red-gold hair, those glorious golden eyes, the creamy skin, and a figure that had once made him stupid. Stupid enough to believe that a guy from the South-side could love a girl from the North-side. Boy, had Mia proven him wrong.
            Mia’s sister, Chloe Reynolds, was eyeing both of them with suspicion. “Mia, what’s going on?” 
            “I’d say they know each other better than I thought,” Serena Douglas drawled in an arch tone. “Better than you let on the other day, Win.”
Win thoughthe’d known Mia, but as it turned out, she’d been someone else entirely. “We’ve met,” was his only confession. 

What else could he say with Serena Douglas and Mia’s sister standing there, watching with equal parts disbelief, bemusement and suspicion? He couldn’t exactly blurt out the truth. That he’d spent one Christmas ten years ago enthralled with a girl from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. That he’d lost his head, and heart, and then she’d vanished without a word. She hadn’t gone alone, either, but left town with her old boyfriend, Brock Thompson.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY TODAY!
AMAZON        ITUNES         BARNES & NOBLE        KOBO

Kristin Wallace is a USA Today bestselling author of inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of 3 popular series, Covington Falls ChroniclesShellwater Key Tales and Palm Cove Tales. Look for Serena and Damon's story, Second Chance Hero, coming soon! 




Saturday, December 15, 2018

Audiobooks in 2019: What You Need to Know


Will Dages from Findaway Voices shares insights and information about the growing market of audiobooks.


The audiobook market has seen remarkable double-digit growth every year for the past decade. We don't see it slowing down any time soon.


High-profile players continue to enter and invest in the audiobook space. Google Play, Kobo, and Walmart are all raising awareness and new options for listeners, and all started selling audiobooks in the past year.

If you've been thinking about creating an audiobook, or selling your audiobook wider, there's never been a better time. 
High-profile players continue to enter and invest in the audiobook space. Google Play, Kobo, and Walmart are all raising awareness and new options for listeners, and all started selling audiobooks in the past year.

If you've been thinking about creating an audiobook, or selling your audiobook wider, there's never been a better time.

How much does it cost to make an audiobook?

We get this question so much we built an audiobook cost calculator. Check it out—it's fun!

The cost of an audiobook production depends on two key factors: the length of the finished audiobook, and the cost of the narrator.

As a rule of thumb, nine thousand words will record to about 1 hour of audio. This means that a 65,000 word novel will end up being around a 7 hour audiobook. If a narrator charges $200 per finished hour, that production will cost you $1,400.

It's important to note that audiobook productions are billed based on the length of the finished audio, not the amount of work that goes in to creating that audio. It can often take a professional 3–5 hours of work to produce one finished hour of audio for an audiobook. When you see PFH next to a rate, that's what it means: $200 Per Finished Hour.

Narration is more than standing in front of a microphone and talking for 9 hours. It's a performance job—the narrator has to keep voices, accents, and intonations consistent across the entire recording, even when sessions may be split between days or weeks. Recording has to happen in sonically-clean environments, usually small studios that can be quite cramped and hot (microphones can hear the hum of an air conditioner). There are strict technical standards for audiobooks that can be intimidating. Some narrators handle their own editing and mastering, and others sub-contract it out, baking that cost into their rate.

Narrating a book sounds like a fun job at first glance, but it can be grueling. Hiring an experienced professional is well worth it.

How To Make An Audiobook

So how much time, effort, and energy is it going to take to make your audiobook? At Findaway Voices, we've worked hard to make it as simple as possible. Most productions are complete in about 6 weeks, with minimal effort from an author.

The first step is filling out a questionnaire about your book. We have a casting team that uses your answers to pair you with the perfect narrator for your book. We'll recommend 5–10 narrators in a personalized casting list where you're able to see rates, bios, and listen to samples. When you have a few top choices, we'll coordinate auditions so you can hear them read a small section of your book.


Once you find the perfect narrator, we help guide you through the rest of the process. The narrator hits the studio with your finalized manuscript, and you enter your audiobook's metadata and choose where you want your audiobook to sell. As the narrator uploads audio files to the website, you're notified that they're ready for review. Once you've approved the audio, you pay for the production and we get to work sending the audiobook to every retailer you've chosen.

Selling Your Audiobook

There's no point in making an audiobook if it doesn't sell. It used to be that Audible was the only player in town. Times have changed. Audible is still a major player, but there are a lot of companies innovating with different target customers, different business models, and different listening experiences.

Findaway Voices is the wide option for audiobook distribution. We help your audiobook reach about 30 storefronts all over the world. Some are big names like Apple, Google, and Audible. Others aren't household names, but have strong presences in libraries or international markets. They span different business models and target different types of audiobook listeners. Some are taking big bets in monster markets, others are taking lots of small bets in multiple niche markets.
The diversity is healthy, and is exposing audiobooks to more listeners than ever before. Consumers continue to have more options for listening experiences, more ways to discover and buy audiobooks, and they are increasingly expecting books to have an audio version. Will your audiobook be there when someone searches for it?


Friday, December 14, 2018

Silent Night & a Cheese Ball

by  Diana McCollum
Silent Night and a Cheese Ball
Oh, how I love the Holidays! Starting off with Thanksgiving, and this year 21 people for dinner, and ending with the magical Christmas holiday.

For the past five years I’ve made the “Pinecone Cheese Ball” for an appetizer at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. The first year my 12 year old grandson wanted to know if it was a football cheese ball. The shape had not hardened up or kept its shape as planned.

It may not always look pretty, but it is always a big hit. The Pinecone Cheese Ball is the one thing that doesn’t last. Oh there might be a tiny bit left, and does it make it to the next day? Never!
I thought I’d share this wonderful recipe with all of you. 

Pinecone Cheese Ball


2 pkgs (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg (3 ½ to 4 ounces) soft chevre (goat) cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Beat all ingredients in medium bowl with electric mixer on med/low speed until smooth. 
  2.  Shape mixture into upright shape like a pinecone, pointed on top, fat on the bottom waxed paper or plastic wrap 
  3.  Press sliced almonds into cheese ball, sticking the almonds up at top and angled on the rest just like a pinecone. 
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (2 hours but no longer than two days) 
  5. Garnish with sprigs of rosemary around plate and grind up rye crisp crackers to sprinkle on almonds. Serve with your choice of crackers. 
This is a great appetizer to make a day or two in advance.


Another thing I enjoy about the season besides all the company, food and cheer, is to sit quietly with a cup of hot chocolate and the fireplace going and the tree lights on, and just ENJOY!

A Silent night and Christmas meditation! It’s wonderful!

Do you have a special tradition for relaxing at the holidays?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Film Noir by Lynn Lovegreen


This may seem like an odd topic for me, so I’ll explain. My parents instilled in me a love of classic movies, including film noir. I grew up watching Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. It’s not too surprising film noir would eventually work its way into my writing.

My manuscripts about World War II in Alaska weren’t attracting agents and editors. I’m sure there were several reasons, but my conclusion is that some of it was bad timing; two of my main characters were not of my heritage, and while that would have been okay years ago, it is problematic now. In light of the #ownvoices movement, I decided I wasn’t the right person to write those stories. So I moved on, looking for a new project.  I ended up with a teen sleuth living in Anchorage, Alaska in 1941. And I discovered The Maltese Falcon was released that October! I am now immersed in film noir as I write this book.

Film noir originated in Europe. The American style of film noir started in the 1940s. It is defined by its dark themes and cinematic look dominated by shadows. Many film noir movies have hard-boiled detectives or disillusioned anti-heroes paired with femme fatales. Director John Huston created The Maltese Falcon from a Dashiell Hammett novel, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. (I think Lee Patrick, who played Effie the resourceful secretary, should get more credit than she usually does!) Film noir lists usually include Laura, Double Indemnity, Key Largo, To Have and Have Not, The Third Man, Sunset Boulevard, and D.O.A. Some include Citizen Kane, which has a film noir tone in its cinematography.

One of my favorite quotes is Lauren Bacall’s lines to Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not: “If you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." I had a ceramic box and whistle referring to this in my study. Unfortunately, it fell off the shelf and broke during our recent earthquake. I couldn’t find all the pieces afterwards, but glued it back as well as I could. Life goes on, and film noir endures in our hearts and minds.





Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Yippee. 2018 is coming to a close

Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My debut MG novel, Courage, was recently published by Harper Collins. It's a great read for this, or any season. 

Check my books out at http://babinns.com


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. 

That line is true, not only for the French Revolution as depicted in Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, but also for me and the entire year of 2018.

Best of Times:

2018 saw the long-delayed publication of my middle grade novel, Courage - https://www.amazon.com/Courage-Barbara-Binns/dp/0062561650.  Kirkus not only gave Courage a favorable review, they also printed an interview with me - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/barbara-binns/.

I had numerous opportunities to share my knowledge with others.
  1. At the Illinois Library Association conference in Peoria, Il, I spoke with librarians on ways they can perform outreach to various diverse populations. Afterward, the public library in Matteson, Il invited me to reprise that topic for their staff who could not attend the conference. 
  2. The Sauk Valley school in Illinois invited me in to speak to parents and teachers about helping reluctant readers. And I already have an engagement for next March at the University of Illinois.
  3. I gave a Webinar for KidLitNation http://kidlitnation.com/home/resources/webinars/ about my journey to publication.
  4. I hosted a presentation at the Spring Fling Writer’s romance writer's conference in Schaumburg on the subject of diverse writing. Plus, I got a new agent. Thank you Spring Fling!
  5. I also spoke at the Romance Slam Jam conference for readers and authors of black romance, about the art of crafting Heroes & Heroines. Being there felt a lot like coming home.
  6. I helped youth, by judging at Chicago's annual Louder Than A Bomb  poetry slam in January, and at the City of Chicago Annual Science Fair in March.

I also had chances to learn from others.


While attending the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color , (JCLC) I had an opportunity to be part of a half-day seminar called Beyond the Racial Stalemate, which was facilitated by  people trained at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation - https://www.wkkf.org/.   For more information on this intense experience on communication and racial healing look at a blog post I wrote for JCLC at: http://www.jclcinc.org/conference/2018/beyond-the-racial-stalemate/ 

Last, but certainly not least, my daughter had her thirtieth birthday this year (talk about feeling old).

Worst of times:

Did I mention I got a new agent this year? She really liked the two manuscripts I sent her, saying, “Nice start.” AKA, let me see what you can really do because these need to be changed.

Fortunately, she and I talked and she gave me a good idea of where her thoughts were. She felt they were too old for a middle grade market, something I was shooting for.

I have finally re-written one of them two. I'm calling it Duets, and it's a story about some cello playing middle graders living in a south suburb of Chicago and daring to dream big. So big, that by the time I finished the rewrite I looked up to see it was almost Christmas. There's really no point in sending it to my agent until next year. I just fear that by then I will probably see more problems on the pages and want to rewrite from scratch all over again.

One of the things that made the re-write so slow was recent cataract surgery. That killed my ability to see, and to write, for awhile. Ditto for some intense pains in my knees caused by worsening arthritis. The pains grew so bad, I agreed to an experimental treatment that Medicare did NOT pay for. Even the sticker shock beat the idea of knee replacement surgery. I am now back to walking and even climbing stairs again, with no pains strong enough to keep me from writing.

JCLC marked my second time being part of a Beyond The Racial Stalemate seminars, I also attended one in 2017 at the American Library Association conference. In spite of that, and the seminar's intense focus on communication issues, I still fell into a “failure to communicate” trap with some Facebook friends on diversity initiatives. I'm still not sure that friendship can be salvaged. Facebook is a poor communication device. Not even emojis help or replace real face-to-face content, which

And, as much as I loved being part of the JCLC, my heart had a reaction to the altitude in Albuquerque. The slightest exertion (and I mean just walking across the street from the hotel to the convention center) had me completely out of breath. My cardiologist recently ordered an echo cardiogram to see what might be happening inside me.  (I'm still waiting for the results)

My session at Spring Fling went okay. EXCEPT for technology issues that made me unable to show my presentation on the screen! All that time spent on preparing visual effects, only to be undone by a machine I didn't understand.  I had wing the talk without visuals.  I still have nightmares.

2018 was the last year the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Science Fair will be together.  Although the event has been hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry for almost 70 years, the museum announced it would not continue doing so after 2018.  I'm not sure of the new location, or how that will effect my ability to continue volunteering.

And now, at year's end, the stock market appears to be struggling to reduce me to poverty. Plus, I've heard several Indie Authors reporting unexpected declines in revenue.

At least it's almost the End of Times

It’s now time to sit down to my annual viewing of Die Hard, my favorite Christmas Movie of all time. The season doesn’t really start until I watch Hans Gruber plunge from the Nakatomi Building.

It also doesn’t start until I wish you all a very happy holiday season. And Great Expectations for 2019!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Baby, It's Cold Outside

by Madelle Morgan



You may have heard about the tempest swirling around "Baby, It's Cold Outside," the famous Christmas season song?

It was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser. According to Wikipedia, Frank and his wife sang it at holiday season parties to indicate to guests that it was time to go home. 

The song was performed in the 1949 romantic comedy Neptune's Daughter, and won an Academy award for Best Original Song.

Over the following decades, it was covered many times by various famous artists. 

Almost 70 years later, the song is suddenly controversial. Who knew the Christmas classic would be pulled from some US and Canadian radio stations this year?

In a December 6, 2018 Postmedia article, Tristin Hopper wrote: "It was never anything other than a sweet couple's number for him and his spouse," the couple's son, John Loesser, told Vanity Fair, adding his father would be mortified by its modern association with sexual assault.

The romance novels in my Hollywood in Muskoka series have playlists. Seduced by the Screenwriter is set in the winter in Canada immediately after the holiday season. Certainly as the story opens, it is very cold outside.

Guess which song is first on the Seduced playlist?

Yup. The BANNED SONG. Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel's cover, to be specific. Their YouTube video is a fun and beautiful dance routine starring children.

Yes, children.

There's even a behind-the-scenes YouTube video showing how much fun the unsuspecting child actors had making the video.



A lot of people apparently would find these videos appalling.

Oops.

Love scenes wearing movie costumes—a romance with a playlist!


CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

I selected "Baby, It's Cold Outside" for the Seduced by the Screenwriter playlist for several reasons.

A. It mirrors the heroine's internal debate about whether to get involved in a romantic relationship with the visiting screenwriter.

B. The kids are wearing wonderful 1920s costumes. Dressing up in movie costumes is integral to Catrina and Chett's developing relationship. 

C. Catrina's soul is wounded. She's emotionally fragile. She has her dog Titan for companionship, but she's lonely and so tempted to have some fun playacting with the Hollywood screenwriter.

Decide for yourself if "Baby It's Cold Outside" is appropriate in the context of the love story. 

Here's an excerpt. Catrina and Chett are in a coffee shop, and he makes a proposition.

As they chatted over coffee, Catrina's resolve to avoid the intriguing visitor had begun to melt like an icicle under a warm sun.
Most of the local men had partners, and any unattached males were single for a reason. She’d been celibate for over a year since moving to Port Carson, and until this minute had not realized how much she missed male companionship. She was starving, and across from her a guy with adorable dimples was offering a no-strings, love ’em and leave ’em buffet. On the downside, if she distracted him too much he’d never finish Jenna’s screenplay.
He tapped the table to get her attention. “Are you seeing someone?”
She shrugged. “No. You’d find that out soon enough anyway. But that’s not the reason why we shouldn’t…get involved.”
He propped his elbows on the table and leaned in with an invitation to confide. “Tell me why a beautiful woman like you is single.”
A committed relationship was not possible with this visitor or anyone else for that matter, but Catrina had no intention of revealing why. “You need to focus on writing,” she said firmly. “Jenna is counting on you, and her success keeps me employed.”
Perceptive blue eyes bore into hers. “What’s your life like in Port Carson, then? All work and no play?”
Apparently her neglected libido had handed over a permission slip, because he persisted. “How about if I combine work and play? I’ll write some love scenes, and you act them out with me. It’ll help me to get the creative juices flowing.”
She sighed, weakening. “You aren’t writing another cop movie, are you? Because I’m so done with that. I left the force to get away from all reminders of—” She halted, shook her head. She never spoke of the underwater deaths that haunted her. Not to anyone. “Being a cop, a real cop, not those fake cops in your movies, is not entertaining.”
He turned his hands palm up. “It’s what I write. Action flicks put twelve- to twenty-four-year-old males into movie theater seats.”
A crushing sensation squeezed her lungs. “You haven’t lived it. Dealing with violence, horrific accidents, and… and dead bodies every day takes its toll. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally.”
She sucked in a breath, then let it out slowly to relieve the gut-tightening anxiety that made her nauseous when memories of the traumatic recovery dive surfaced. She needed to keep them buried, because the alternative meant loss of emotional control.
She straightened her spine and gave him a logical reason. “Those car chase and shoot ’em up movies don’t attract women—half the potential audience—unless they have heart.”
“I have no heart.” His tone dripped acid. “My ex took it along with my Porsche and stock portfolio when she dumped me.”
A rare chuckle slipped past Catrina’s guard. “See, you can be funny. Write a romantic comedy that makes me laugh, and I’ll do it.”
The solitary days and long Muskoka winter nights with no male but Titan to keep Catrina company were getting to her. She needed to lighten up and have some fun. Besides, by agreeing to playact she could keep an eye on Chett, make sure he was writing and not drinking his way through the bottles stacked in Jenna’s bar and wine cellar.
Chett demurred. “If you were serious about helping me craft a new screenplay, you’d go with the cop scenario. Being an ex-cop and all, you could be my technical adviser.” He leaned in to emphasize his next words. “I don’t know a damn thing about writing comedy. Action scripts are what I do.”
She leaned across the table and, nose to nose, stared straight into his baby blues. “How’s that working for you lately?”
He winced, withdrew. “Ouch. Right, you win. I’ll give it a shot.”
She rolled her eyes at his word choice and folded her arms. “No guns. No fighting. Or I walk.”
He capitulated and reached across to shake her hand. “Deal.”
As she’d anticipated, the prospect of sex won out. He was a red-blooded man who’d experienced the boredom of a long, dark, freezing night in the boonies.

“Are you free tomorrow night, say at eight?” he continued. “That will give me enough time to write a scene or two.”

Catrina's cold nights are about to heat up...

Happy Holidays!

Madelle


Seduced by the Screenwriter Review
Cat and Chett’s characters are well developed, drawing the reader into their individual plights, while their campy banter keeps the story light and downright fun. Ms. Morgan keeps the plot moving with humorous situations and dialogue interspersed with exciting and poignant drama. A good read for a snowy afternoon. —Marc Joseph, InD’Tale magazine review, March 2018.


BUY Links


Madelle's romantic thriller DiamondHunter is a free read in Kindle Unlimited.

Follow Madelle on  TwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterest, and Wattpad. For giveaways and new releases, subscribe to Madelle’s blog at www.MadelleMorgan.com.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Let the Magic Find You!







By: Marcia King- Gamble

www.lovemarcia. com


Happy Holidays to you and yours!  It’s that time of year again. A time to reflect.



For those of you who’ve been following me over the years, you know that I always start off the new year by creating a vision board.  So, isn’t it fitting to end the year looking back at the highs and lows of 2018? 

For me there were many.  But despite the best laid plans of mice and Marcia, life got in the way. The one thing I’ve learned is to roll with it and deal with whatever is thrown at me. A prominent theme  this year on my vision board is to allow myself to enter the “Zen Zone.” In other words, be more relaxed and open to what life hands me.



Overall, it’s been a promising year, and one in which I’ve learned to make lemonade out of the sourest of limes.  In the whole scheme of things, as one friend constantly reminds me, "Ours are first world problems.” 



I saw how true that statement was when I visited Malawi in October. I had the good fortune to be selected as an Ambassador to UNICEF. Many people there earn thirty-eight cents per day.  At least here in the United States, while we might moan about our income, we have a minimum wage.

 This rare opportunity, though unplanned, was the highlight of my year. Travel is always highlighted on my vision board. But I thought for sure I’d be back in Europe or maybe New Zealand.  Never in my wildest dreams had I expected to be in Africa; a place I’d not been to in several decades. This is a country that required inoculations and the taking of malaria pills.  The journey was hardly a vacation, and definitely an eye-opening experience. For me, it was a much-needed reality check, making me grateful for what I have.  In so many ways, comparatively speaking, I am rich. My wealth goes way beyond money, especially when you see malnourished children greatly in need. 

Giving back to the craft is always on my vision board. This year, I had several opportunities to present workshops; the focus being aspiring writers. I conducted several on self-publishing and marketing yourself on a shoestring. A most recent  workshop focused on how to get published in a tough publishing market.

 As you all know, the publishing market has undergone changes. It's become survival of the fittest, making it even tougher for newbies to break into our world.  Many of these workshops are free and sponsored by the local libraries. As an author, it’s gratifying to conduct them and see how grateful the attendees are to receive tips from a published author.



This was also a year of getting back to work in an industry I enjoy. After taking a long hiatus from the travel industry,  I’ve, returned to a career that is every bit as fulfilling as writing, and equally as rewarding.  I realize just how much I missed it.   It's a business that sparks ideas. Since I’ve always enjoyed meeting people of different cultures, and traveling to exotic lands,  the rewards are that I have to do limited research regarding settings. I usually write about places I've been to, so the smell and the feel of that country or city is authentic, at least from my point of view.  

Another constant theme on my vision board is ‘letting the magic find you.’  By that,  it means remaining more open to possibilities. I tend to be a planner, and at times, way too self-focused. By allowing the magic to find me, I was able to write a book for a series that was a new world to me, and one that I had been resistant to at first. Not because I disliked the concept, I’d just never considered writing about a small, Southern town, as that lifestyle is foreign to me.   


The end result, however was  Magnolia Moments, the cover above. The story is set in the small Southern town of Eighty-Eight. My hero, an executive recruiter comes to town in search of the mother who gave him away. My heroine is in town trying to piece together why her father, a retired doctor is mysteriously getting ill.  Her dad, recently widowed, is now remarried. At the urging of his new wife, he takes out out a huge insurance policy, and then starts getting sick.  Look for Magnolia  Moments, out as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in the next few days. The Eighty-Eight series was created by author, Bettye Griffin.  


In the last several years, Bettye and I have collaborated on the Holiday Sparkle Series; a collection of novellas, focusing on a special red dress that changes lives.  These are the perfect holiday "feel good" stories. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X6BYMFQ/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_4yMdCbTDA7KVD

Next up, is a novella titled Ring in the Holidays, also being released in a few weeks. Ring in the Holidays will be found on the same platforms.

Overall, it has been a year of opportunity. Many unseen, and many unplanned. Staying in the Zen Zone allows the magic to come to you.  All it requires is acceptance and an open mind, and your dreams can come true.


Happy Holidays all!  Remain humble and remain grateful.  I so much appreciate you!









About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS






Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018 Was the Year of Overwhelm, 2019 Will Be The Year of Partners


In preparing the blog this year, I wondered what I said last year and if any of my predictions came true. I know 2018 was definitely the year of overwhelm for me. I hit the wall on technology, new marketing ideas, and keeping up with my fans. Keeping up with that and still getting out ebooks, print books, and audiobooks among the normal chaos of life made me realize I’ve gone too far into the weeds and needed to fight my way back to a “real” life that included time for writing, as well as engaging with family and friends.

I wasn’t the only one feeling this. I spoke with my editor and she said that 2018 was the year of missed dates for many of her clients. They were dropping out of her schedule, unable to get the writing done. Even the three most prolific author friends I have decided to drop at least one book in their 2018 schedule. I ended up dropping two books out of the six I had scheduled for 2018. But I made up for it in other products. I would have preferred to have finished all six books. It just wasn’t possible with all the challenges this past year presented.

So, what happened that so many long-term and professional authors were feeling so overwhelmed? Was it the chaotic political arena? For some that did play a role in their ability to focus. However, for most it was how fast the “rules” were changing. First there was the entire GDPR legislation in Europe. Then various big vendors did some buying of companies, selling of companies and partnering with companies—including aggregators.

Amazon alone did at least four major system renovations in the past year:
1) They tried to stop scammers and stuffers; and in doing so set up additional automated processes to do that. Some of those processes caught up innocent people as well. 
2) Amazon decided to change its Advertising backend and name. The roll out of that process was not smooth and not very well documented. Even support personnel weren’t quite sure what was going on. 
3) In the early Fall, Amazon decided to close CreateSpace and began switching all of those customers to KDP Print. It was a well-telegraphed move—if not in actual messaging. When KDP Print started to look more and more like CreateSpace it was obvious the move was imminent. However, as with other huge system changes it was not smooth and that caused great drama, lost sales for some, and certainly a lot of confusion for the less technically inclined authors. 
4) Without warning Amazon changed their buy pages to no longer reflect “also boughts” a way in which indie authors could work to build their discoverability in the algorithms by making sure that the cross-pollination of also boughts was as close as possible to their genre. Amazon exchanged the “also boughts” display for two rows of sponsored ads on most pages. It is still rolling out in full. This now means that to be discovered on Amazon you either have to be a bestselling author OR pay for advertising. What many people call pay-to-play. In the end, Amazon is a business that wants to make as much money as possible. Once authors realize that every decision is a business decision (not only at Amazon but also at other vendors), and has nothing to do with whether they value authors or not, they can plan accordingly. I see far too many people, instead, hoping that any vendor will suddenly become beneficent and run their business as a charity for authors because we are so valuable to them. In my view, that is not a realistic take on the business world.

The competitiveness of the market has grown exponentially in the last two to three years. In the U.S. more than 80% of people buy ALL their books online—ebook, print, and audio. This means authors must be web savvy, mobile-ready, and willing to make changes quickly without spending time worrying about the fact the change must be made. In 2018, already 2.4 million books have been published! http://www.worldometers.info/books/ According to Statista’s data on publishing, there have been more than a million books a year being produced for four years in a row now. So consider all those backlist titles. This is why discoverability is so important. This is why we can’t wait and hope the world changes so we can suddenly become competitive. We need to understand the reality of the market and PLAN how we are going to fit into that market and find OUR readers.

Old Posts and Predictions and How it Compares to Today’s Environment
I’ve been doing this “What’s New in Publishing” and/or Predictions for the New Year on Romancing the Genres since 2013. That makes this my sixth year of being proven right or wrong.  Here are the past six years posts with a brief summary of the primary discussion and what is still relevant in 2018 and moving into 2019.

2013 Focus on your TEAM It was true then and is still true now. Only now I think it’s imperative to have a good team. I call these “partners” because most authors are not in a position to have a company with employees who create their ultimate team. Instead, we partner with critical individuals or companies and pay them as we need them. And don’t be afraid to change your partner relationships when they aren’t working out.

2014 was the year the indie publishing movement became mainstream. So, I had two blog posts that year. Part 1 was a history of changes in publishing over a decade (2004 to 2014). Part 2 focused on what the indie author could do. My big advice was to Focus on the Long Game instead of short-term returns. Given all the angst online about every Amazon change and keeping the rankings up, I don’t think anyone listened to me on that one. J  I still believe that for a long-term career, one has to look at long-term investment of time and finances and grow consistently year over year. This is even more true in 2019 and beyond.

Can you become a six-figure author in your first year of publishing? Of course you can, some authors have done it. BUT it requires investing a good sum of money ($10K-$20K) and religiously following a plan for releasing a book every three weeks or so, that is straight down the middle of the genre, and creating discoverability with lots of advertising money. There are several people who teach this methodology and it can work. The question is if you can afford to do that year after year. Do you have the time to learn the process? Do you have the talent and energy to churn out 10-12 books in a year or the money to pay ghostwriters to do it for you? Do you have the funds to spend significant money on advertising?  And the biggest questions is, are you willing to do this year after year to maintain that income? Or is your desire to do it for the ONE book you plan to write and that’s it? Only you can answer that question.

For me, that system doesn’t work because I don’t want to spend the time to churn out 10-12 books a year every year. I already work too many hours doing 6 books a year. I do write genre fiction, but it’s not straight down the middle and I don’t want to write straight down the middle fiction. I know it’s a trade off, and I’m willing to take that trade off of earning less. Finally, I’m not willing or able at this time of my life to spend $10K-$20K in advertising.



2015 Top Three Markets: mobile domination (e.g., phones); foreign rights; and writing in series. In my top three markets for 2019 Mobile Domination is still 100% true. In fact, I used to believe that people would abandon e-readers for tablets. I was wrong, it appears they are abandoning e-readers for smart phones. It is even more important today than three years ago that an author’s business is mobile friendly. That means your website, your store if you are selling direct, and your engagement with readers whether via email or social media.

I think I missed the mark on the importance of foreign rights. They are important but that importance has moved down the list for me. Whether we like it or not, English has become a global language and many countries where English is not the first language have a sufficient population of English speakers to make selling English-only books viable. Can you make even more money with translations? Yes, you can. The question is if you can make a sufficient amount to make up for the cost of the translation OR the cost of shared rights with a translator. For me, right now the answer is still no. I suspect that in a few more years and books, the answer might change.

In 2015 I also missed the mark regarding the building importance of audiobooks. They weren’t even on my radar. To have pursued audio in 2015 would have been a good idea for me. I wouldn’t be trying to catch up now. But I’m not a look-at-the-past-and-feel-bad kind of gal. I know I can’t do it all or know it all; and there is still plenty of time to be in audio. I started into audio in late 2017. If you haven’t yet, and you have more than five or six books, 2019 MIGHT be a time for you to definitely consider it.

  
2016 post reflects that the top two trends were Mobile Phones and Audiobooks. So, two years in a row #1 was making sure everything was compatible with mobile phones.  I must admit, I am always surprised when now in 2018 there are still a number of authors who have not done two important things with their website. 1) Make sure it is responsive. In other words, make sure it looks good and works well on smart phones. 2) Make sure it is secure. Install SSL. It’s not expensive and it’s worth it! More about that later. Both of these are critical for search engines to pay attention to you AND for readers to find you and, once finding you, feel safe to be on your website.


2017 My #1 prediction was “things will continue to change more quickly.” Nailed that one. No wonder 2018 felt overwhelming. I’d forgotten that was my prediction. I’m sure I was already feeling it myself at the end of 2017 and it has been more powerfully true than I even imagined a year ago. Trends for 2018 were in the following order. You won’t be surprised by #1—mobile phones. #2 engaging readers. Still important but it’s getting more complex now. #3 Audiobooks. Enough said. #4 Direct Sales. I think this can be a game changer in 2019 for those who are ready to take advantage of it. #5 Blockchain. For me, the promise of Blockchain technology for authors is still too early for most authors AND for the systems that exist. I still believe in the promise, and it’s definitely a paradigm shift in terms of thinking about rights licensing and the economics of book selling. However, I don’t think the current platforms are ready for even the first wave of indie author early adopters to make a difference in sales for the time and learning required.


Okay, what about planning for 2019? For me 2019 is about the realization that if you want to have a career there are three things you MUST do.
1) Be willing to work with and pay for business partners. 
2) Have a brand and presence OUTSIDE of vendors like Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Google, etc. 
3) Mobile, mobile, mobile. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

Partners and Investment of Money

I know that most indies start off with the idea of learning the ropes and doing everything for themselves. I think you COULD do that in 2010  and 2011; maybe even as late as 2013. By 2014 the tide had shifted and self-publishing was mainstream. It was already become extremely difficult to learn and manage everything one person needed to do. I don’t think you can do it now. Not only is the competition astronomically larger and more sophisticated, but it is also more professionalized.

When I started selling indie it was a mixed bag of professionalism. A lot of people created their own covers. A lot of people used their mother or best friend as their editor—actually as more of a catch-my-typos-and-grammar person. A lot of people did formatting however they could and lived with it if it wasn’t perfect and wasn’t pretty. In the early years you could get away with that because the competition was a lot smaller and being “indie” was cool. It’s not “cool” anymore. It is just the primary way the vast majority of authors are getting published.

Since about 2014, the professionalism has increased in leaps and bounds. The top sellers, those who began in earnest in 2010 and 2011 and made their first bestseller status, realized that it was important to have a great cover—a genre-specific cover that rivaled NY. These bestsellers were primarily people who had left traditional publishing or were doing both. They were willing to pay for professional editors, for cover designers, for formatters. Most important they were building their team so they could write more books and spend less time on the technology. If you don’t do that today, it is near impossible to move up and make any significant dent in sales.

Fast forward to 2018. We are ending this year in a pay-to-play discoverability universe. What I mean by that is that the competition is so stiff that your discoverability engine must be honed and used consistently. The fastest way to do that is through advertising dollars spent exactly right. Links to selling Landing Pages with great copy and a bang on mailing list developed for consistent growth. Can someone still do all of this? I know a few people who have all those skills AND write well AND write fast and are still holding it together. The other 98% of the population cannot but keeps pretending they can and are disappointed by the results after working so hard.

When you don’t have partners or funding to pay for partners, then one of two things happen. 
1) You become overwhelmed and you go in circles dealing with the technology and the sales aspects, but you don’t write the next book. That is a quick failing model. You need new product every year. 
2) You burn out because you are doing too much. You get sick. You get angry because no matter how much you do it’s not enough to move the selling needle. Then you give up. Maybe not forever, but I’ve seen really good authors give up for several years.

I’m not going to label giving up as failure, because I think some people SHOULD give up on being an author. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an easy profession. It is not a quick way to riches. It requires constant learning, improving, analysis, and doing it all over again. If you don’t LOVE writing first, you won’t be able to make the constant sacrifices you have to make for it to be a viable career.

If you are not intending on publishing books as an income-generating career, then ignore everything I’ve said. That is a different goal. That is a goal not based in business, but in bringing non-tangible happiness in the process.

Finding Good Partners and Determining Who/What You Need

The first step is deciding what you CAN do well, and what you WANT to do outside of the writing itself. The answer to this is different for each person. And how much you want to do or have the time to do is also different.

I’ve been a do it all myself person, and a bit of a control freak, my entire life. So, it’s no surprise that when I decided to make a career as an author I tried to do it all. I began indie publishing in 2011 while I was still working a full-time executive job—about 50 hours per week. I have a good technology background, so I felt comfortable with most of those aspects of creating and publishing. However, even then I knew there were two things I shouldn’t do myself. One was designing my own covers and the second was editing. I’m a decent developmental editor for other authors—though not a professional, but I knew I couldn’t do it for myself. I’m just too close to the work. I’m also a decent proofreader, but again can’t do it for myself. I always miss things. These are two big-ticket items that many authors choose NOT to pay for. But, in my opinion they are more important than any other aspect of the publishing process.

Maggie McVey Lynch
Because I have a good background in technology I did all the website design, social media, SEO, formatting, loading of books myself. That division of labor—using two professionals and me doing everything else worked for about five years. At twenty books behind me and putting out a minimum of six new products a year, plus marketing, it became too much for me last year. The first thing I did was hire a part time virtual assistant to coordinate a lot of things and keep me straight on due dates, timing, etc. I thought it would be enough. By summer, as I realized more of the importance of my author brand and presence on the web, I knew I had to let go of the one thing I was MOST sure of technologically—my website design.

I admit that aging has made me less astute at multi-tasking; however, I am still quite capable of learning. But the reality is things do continue to change rapidly and the depth of knowledge required for a complete understanding in EVERY area is just not doable. Sometimes that means finding a partner to do something you do well. For me I found that keeping up with website technology and SEO was the most time consuming task for me. I needed a major SEO update, a secure direct sales platforms, and a modernized look and feel for my buy pages that would provide more information for the reader without looking too busy or overwrought. For me to do that on my own would have been, minimum, a one year process. It’s likely by the end of the year I will need to make changes again. So, I broke down and found a good partner. Now nearly three months into the overhaul, I am soooo glad I gave that up. It was painful at first, and took some trust building on my part, but now it’s a huge blessing.

The more books I have, the more work I have to do to maintain them, manage them, market them. The more non-writing tasks I do myself, the less time I have for writing. In 2018 I probably spent at least a third of my book income on partners. Is that smart? I’m not sure. But I’m in it for the long term. I believe with the partners and systems I have in place now, I can write more in 2019. Having more product is the engine I need to move to the next level. I can only do that by carving out time.

My top 5 Things to Care About for 2019 are in this order of importance

1)    Individualized and personalized communication with fans. This continued building a good email list of true fans. Mailing Lists are STILL the #1 predictor of sales.

2)    Search. Everything having to do with visibility, discoverability, finding new people to love your books is related to search. This means you have to pay close attention to it and understand it well. Search includes the things we already do like keywords, categories, linking to related content. But it also has to do with structure. How to structure our website, our blog posts, our social media posts, and our buy pages across multiple vendors so that it is easily indexed and cross-indexed with critical searches.

3)    Audiobooks continue to trend up. The statistics point to a consistent 20%-25% increase. Definitely that market is growing faster than ebooks or print. My 2019 goal is to get all of my backlist fiction into audio so that any new book release is accompanied with an audio book.

4)    Direct Sales to Fans is What Orna Ross, of ALLi, calls Indie Publishing 3.0 I believe it can become a game changer in income and control of that fan relationship moving forward. My prediction about going direct to fans and cutting out the middleman by 2020 is starting to become a reality for many indies. I started putting in place the search, delivery, and banking linked processes for this in September of this year. For indies who have a good following, an established fan base of 20K or more, going direct can be a major income stream. For those in the midlist, like me (a 8K to 20K emails), going direct can generate income but it is a longer-term commitment to growth and training readers as to the value of buying direct.

5)    Focus on one thing at a time and make it work really well. If I’d paid attention to this rule earlier in my career (say five years ago) I might be in a better place instead of throwing money and energy at the next “big” thing. I’ve always known this rule as a business person in software, in education, in psychology. However, as an author entrepreneur I ignored this rule by buying into the belief that a “creative” business needed an approach that reached out to every unicorn reader and catered to them. Not true. Unicorn readers are outliers. The focus is to find the larger middle of your fan base and focus on them. The unicorns will decide on their own whether that is enough to keep them.

So, what is your focus for 2019? Which ONE area is the one you know you need the most? Do you see yourself adding a new partner for any part of your writing and marketing process? I’d love to hear your feedback and experience. Of course, I’m also happy to respond to questions with my thoughts.

Maggie Lynch is the author of 20+ published books, as well as numerous short stories and non-fiction articles.  Her fiction tells stories of men and women making heroic choices one messy moment at a time.

After careers in counseling, the software industry, academia, and worldwide educational consulting, Maggie chose to devote her time to her career as a full time author. Her fiction spans romance, suspense, fantasy and science fiction titles. Her non-fiction focuses on guiding authors to business success in their career through planning, distributing, and marketing their completed work.

You can purchase Maggie's newly released Author Secret's boxed set here:
https://maggielynch.com/book/secrets-to-becoming-a-successful-author-boxset/

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