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Self-publishing: A look at the current romance genre

Hi there! Since I write romance it’s important for me to stay up to date on the industry specifically on self-publishing. As I do often, I took a deep dive into the romance category on Amazon, Google Play & Applebooks. What I found is not surprising, it’s something I’ve known for a long time but for some reason it really hit me like a ton of bricks & I want to share some of this information with you.

For context I’ve been writing since 2016. I published my first book in 2017. I quickly realized I did everything wrong so I took it down, wrote a new book & published that one in 2018. That first book is called; Merciless Queen. The entire time I’ve been learning about the self-publishing industry and romance specifically. In 2017/18 the talk was all about rapid-release, writing good stories, getting everything edited, etc. Now, the topic has shifted and the industry has become a lot more about marketing. Why? because that’s what sells books. In 2011-2015 you could put up a decent book with a blog tour and break-even. That is not the case anymore AT ALL.

I realized this so this year my entire goal was to focus more on marketing then writing books. Gasp! This is such a taboo thing to say because in the self-publishing industry the big thing is to spend more time writing. I went to school for marketing and I know that if no one knows about my books no one is going to buy them which defeats the purpose of me spending hours writing them!

Anyways, so that’s what I did. I wrote four really solid books, all standalone so that I could market all of them separately and then I put everything I had behind marketing. And guess what? It worked. I made more money this year then I have in 2018 & 2019 combined.

But, the money is still not at all worth the effort put in. I mean I put EVERYTHING behind these launches, I ran FB ads, hired a PR company, posted religiously on social media, hit my newsletter hard, I played around with Amazon Ads. I went to a conference to learn more, I joined FB groups with other very experienced authors. I did everything you’re supposed to.

I gained so many new readers. I found some of my true fans & I love getting their emails and seeing their reactions to my books. My newsletter subscribers have increased by over 1,000 in 8 months. My FB pages went from like 50 likes to 200 likes. Then I took another look at the market and I realized something. There are two types of romance authors who are successful in the industry right now.

  1. The author who started writing & publishing between the years of 2011-2015ish. The golden years that I previously talked about. This is not to say that these authors didn’t work hard because they did. But there are authors right now who are working just as hard if not harder & spending way more money. Amazon, Google play & Applebooks often pushes these books to readers with no work on the authors part. Meaning they are getting organic traffic. Something that doesn’t exist on Amazon for regular authors.
  2. The ‘one book a month’ author. This author is usually in kindle unlimited and they are releasing books so fast it’s crazy. These are full-length books not novellas. They are usually writing in series as a way to ‘stick’ the reader. This method is still working…if you can write one full-length book a month.

And that’s it. Those are the authors in the romance industry that are doing well. And I don’t mean to say this to discourage anyone. I write because I love to write, but maybe it’s time that romance authors stop killing themselves trying to release faster, spend more on marketing & taking these course from romance authors who have no idea what it’s like to start publishing in the current landscape.

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Sneak Peak: King of the Bronx

Enzo
It took my eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness of the underground gambling room. The few overhead lights were dim. I’d done that on purpose so that the politicians and “upstanding citizens” could better keep hidden. I was used to the celebrities and politicians that came through, gambling away taxpayers’ money because it was now an addiction. I couldn’t judge; I didn’t even pay taxes.
Once my eyes adjusted, I could see every table was filled, which meant a good night for me. I crossed the room, slapping the hands of some of the regulars. I made it to the bar and ordered a water. I choose to stay away from alcohol. I didn’t have anything against it. Alcohol just made me sleepy, and I still had work to do before I could call it a night. I thanked the bartender as Tommy took a seat beside me.
“What’s good?” I asked Tommy, reaching my hand out for him to slap.
“Nothing much, trying to see if someone shows up.”
That caught my interest. “Someone owe you money or something?”
It might turn out to be an exciting night after all.
Tommy shook his head. “Nah, nothing like that.”
He didn’t elaborate and I didn’t push. It was probably business with his crew. Tommy was notorious for avoiding problems. He probably didn’t want any extra people involved in whatever it was. He signaled for the bartender, and I turned around to face the room. The gambling ring was underneath a row of shops on the strip. Essentially, it was the connecting basement of the stores. It was a big enough space for six tables. There were only a couple spots open at the blackjack table. Harris was going to have to start turning people away at the door soon.
“Gio tell you about the new Irish boss?” Tommy asked.
“Nah, what’s up?” This must be fairly recent if I hadn’t heard yet. I knew everything about what happened in this city.
“Gio got a new boss in place. Niall’s own son, he took out his dad. Apparently, the guy helped us out. A win-win kind of situation.”
Well, fuck, that was convenient. “Because of that chick?” I asked. Everyone had been a little hush-hush about Giovanni’s new girlfriend. I just wanted confirmation.
Tommy chuckled. “Fuck yeah. He almost blew my head off because I was talking to her at Lucas’s restaurant one day.”
“She hot?”
He took a sip of his drink. “I can’t answer that. I like all my limbs attached to my body.”
I smiled. Well, damn. Giovanni finally settled down.
“I did catch her with Wes, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
I almost choked on my water. “You got to be shitting me. Wes is a dead man if he was sticking his dick in the boss’s girl.”
“She said they all had an understanding.”
“That’s some freaky shit.”
My head turned toward the door as it closed. Not much surprised me these day, but a woman walking into my gambling ring made me freeze. Long red hair fell to her waist. She wore heels that made her look tall, but without them, she probably barely reached my chest. The dress she wore showed off every single curve of her body. She walked with her shoulders back, confident, despite the fact that she was the only female in the room. When I looked back out to the floor, I realized she hadn’t just caught my attention, but also the attention of every other man in the room.
“Damn,” Tommy mumbled next to me. Her heels clicked against the cement floor as she walked to the blackjack table and took a seat. She acted as if she’d been here before, but I was one-hundred-percent certain I’d remember if she’d walked in here before. The men in the room went back to focusing on their cards, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
“You’re drooling,” Tommy said.
“Shut the fuck up.” I turned away from the woman and grabbed my water to take a drink.
“You know her?” Tommy pushed.
I shook my head. “No, but I’m going to get to know her.”
The door shut again. It must have been who Tommy was looking for because he pushed away from the bar and went to greet the man. They both walked back outside together.
I turned and watched the woman, fascinated with her. That long hair would be too easy to pull on. Her hair was so bright, I doubted it was natural. I spend enough time around women to know fake from real. What reason did this woman have to be so confident in a room filled with men with severe gambling problems? My attraction to her mixed with a hint of suspicion. She’d chosen to sit at the open blackjack table. She must know something about cards if she took that seat. I watched from my place at the bar as she pulled out a wad of cash from her purse, counted out the amount she needed to buy in, and slid it to Larry, one of my dealers. They didn’t use chips or coins to play here. Cash only, although we did occasional take money in the form of houses or cars. That’s how I knew someone’s gambling issue had gotten out of hand. When a man would bet the house his family was living in, it was time for him to get treatment. Larry dealt the cards out. It was obvious this wasn’t the woman’s first time. She peeked at the cards quickly, already memorizing them. They went around the table, each person telling Larry to give them another card or skip them. Afterwards, they flipped the cards over to reveal their hand. The women lost, but she didn’t show signs of disappointment or surprise. She accepted it as if it was just part of the game. She either didn’t have a gambling problem or had a lot of money to bet. One of the men got up to leave, and I crossed the room to take his spot, right next to Red.
“You in, Boss?” Larry asked.
I nodded, and he went on dealing everyone a new hand of cards. He didn’t need to ask for my money. We’d have a problem if he did.
Up close, the woman was even more beautiful. While she was seated, the dress she wore lifted slightly, revealing her creamy legs, which led up to a flat stomach. Her breasts weren’t huge, but they were perfect for her body shape. Her thick ruby red lips matched the color of her dress. Her face was perfectly heart-shaped, which gave her a youthful look.
“Can I help you?” she snapped, having caught me staring. Everyone at the table froze, but she didn’t seem to realize or care about the mistake she made. I ran the underground, so no one was allowed to talk to me like that.
I smiled at her. “Just admiring your beauty,” I said, throwing her one of my typical lines. It wasn’t hard for me to win over women. Once they got a look at me and realized who I was, it wasn’t long before I took them home.
Her lips twisted into a snare, and she turned away from me to look at her cards. Well, damn.I looked over my cards, bored with the game already. Gambling wasn’t my thing. I preferred to make money, not lose it. Larry dealt to those who wanted another card. Red and I both lost the first hand.
“What’s a pretty woman like you doing in a place like this?” I asked her. She didn’t even bother to turn my way as I spoke.
“Just trying to play the game.”
“Most women stay far away from this place. Most don’t even know about it.” I was digging. She might be beautiful, but this wasn’t a spot you just stumbled upon. I had this place well-hidden for a good reason.
She whipped around to look at me. “Is there something you are trying to ask me?” Her voice sliced through the air like a whip. I could feel the tension coming off the men around us, like they were holding their breath. Her sharp attitude only excited me. I liked that I was getting her riled up. Her skin was turning a soft red color that matched the rest of her. A couple men got up from the table, probably uncomfortable with the conversation.
“Maybe we should start over,” I suggested.
“Maybe we shouldn’t, and you should just let me play my hand.”
It took everything in me not to smile. I rested an elbow on the table and leaned my head on my hand. I’d forgotten about Larry and the rest of the men sitting around the table. “I would, but I own this place, Red, and if I ask someone why they’re here…I want an answer.”
She swallowed as a lump formed in her throat, and I smiled. She should be afraid of me. The Bronx’s underground was a dangerous place I’d created years ago. I was the most dangerous part of it all. She looked away, breaking eye contact. I sensed there was something she was afraid to tell me.
Did she have a gambling problem? She didn’t look like the typical addict. I reached a hand out and grabbed her chin in between two fingers. She jumped. I steered her head around to look at me. Her blue eyes were glossy with unshed tears. My eyebrows drew together as I tried to figure out what was going on. What had made this woman so desperate to put herself in danger to come here?
I opened my mouth to ask when Harris appeared by my side.
“We got a problem, Boss.”
I stared at the women for a moment longer before letting go of her chin and leaving the seat. I walked with Harris until we were out of ear shot.
“What’s up?”
“Charles and Leon are getting into it again next door,” Harris said.
“Fuck.”

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What I learned from July CampNaNoWriMo

As promised I want to give you an update on how my Camp NaNoWriMo went. This year I tracked my hours instead of my words because I had a project that I was editing, one that I was drafting, and a good amount of administrative work to get done.

What I learned while keeping track of my hours is that I don’t spend as much time during the weekday writing as I thought I did. I was spending an average of 30 minutes on a weekday morning writing/editing and that’s it. Now part of this reason is because of the pandemic going on and my struggle to get into a routine. Once I realized this, I started my five am wake up time again. This helped me tremendously with getting back on track. I also realized I spend more time than I thought I did on the weekends writing.

The second thing I realized is just how much time I need to spend on administrative tasks. I often have this mentality that if I’m not writing or editing, then I’m not working and that is simply not true. I found that I kept having to remind myself that I’m not only a writer but also a publisher which means it’s perfectly okay to spend a lot of time working on the publishing business. Which means most of my time is spent doing the marketing, accounting, and other administrative tasks.

I figured out that I spend a lot of time on social media and listening to podcast about writing and it makes me feel like I’m getting work done…when I’m really not. I often listen to podcast at my day job and it’s been a great way to stay updated about changes in the industry. At the same time it kind of feels like work…even though it’s really not. Spending an hour a week listening to Sell More Books Show is enough to stay updated. Spending hours upon hours listening to other authors’ publishing journey…not so much. By keeping track of my hours, I was able to cut out these podcasts that weren’t really adding anything to my business.

Keeping track of my hours really helped me see where I was spending my time and ways I can improve.

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It’s Release Day!

Dirty Empire is now live!

Are you ready to read Maverick and Hazel’s epic love story?
Have you ever heard of a dark beach read? Me neither that’s why I wrote one. Dirty Empire takes place in Hawaii, Tahaiti and Mexico all beautiful tropical places with all the grittiness of a dark romance. It’s the perfect escape story. This book has been so much fun to write and I can’t wait for you to read it!

“Lucky for you, I’m not a man to apologize, even if I accidentally took another man’s wife.”

He lets his shoe fall to the floor with a thud before untying the other and dropping that one too. It takes a while for me to process what he’s saying.

“So you’ll drop me off? At the next island?” I ask, hope filling my chest for the first time today.

Maverick shakes his head before standing up and unbuttoning his dress shirt. A slight grin coats his lips. “Oh no, Pumpkin. Miles is going to come after me, and without you, I have no leverage.”

He takes off his shirt and leaves it in the middle of the floor. His washboard abs are on display, each one perfectly sculpted in a way that could only be achieved by hours spent at the gym. “I’m not a knight in shining armor, Pumpkin. I’m a villain.”

I married a monster.

Years ago my husband was the perfect man, until I was faced with his abusive side. I thought my husband would kill me but Maverick saved me. He seemed like my knight in shining armor. However, Maverick comes with his own set of baggage.

How will this tangled web of destruction and lust unravel? Dirty Empire will thrill, anger, push, and prod you to the edges of your imagination!

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My Inspiration for Dirty Empire

Tomorrow is release day for Dirty Empire! I rewrote this book I think three times to get it just right. This story is different than anything else I’ve ever written. To start of this story is inspired by Greek mythology. Most people don’t know this greek myth but when I heard the idea for Dirty Empire instantly popped into my head.

Aphrodite’s first husband was Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and metalworking. She was unfaithful to Hephaestus and had an affair with Ares, the God of war. Hephaestus found out about their affair and set a trap. He caught them in a net and the entire village came out to see naked Aphrodite and Ares caught together. Poseidon finds this to be very cruel and rescues Aphrodite from the net. She gave birth to two of Poseidon’s daughters.

In Dirty Empire; Hazel is Aphrodite, Miles is Hephaestus and Maverick is Poseidon.

“Lucky for you, I’m not a man to apologize, even if I accidentally took another man’s wife.”
He lets his shoe fall to the floor with a thud before untying the other and dropping that one too. It takes a while for me to process what he’s saying.

So you’ll drop me off? At the next island?” I ask, hope filling my chest for the first time today.
Maverick shakes his head before standing up and unbuttoning his dress shirt. A slight grin coats his lips. “Oh no, Pumpkin. Miles is going to come after me, and without you, I have no leverage.”
He takes off his shirt and leaves it in the middle of the floor. His washboard abs are on display, each one perfectly sculpted in a way that could only be achieved by hours spent at the gym. “I’m not a knight in shining armor, Pumpkin. I’m a villain.”

I married a monster.
Years ago my husband was the perfect man, until I was faced with his abusive side. I thought my husband would kill me but Maverick saved me. He seemed like my knight in shining armor. However, Maverick comes with his own set of baggage.

ORDER DIRTY EMPIRE NOW: https://books2read.com/u/m2VzZ6