Thursday, March 23, 2017

Five Things Preparing for my Debut Taught Me

My debut novel, AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR, was published a couple of weeks ago. There's so much excitement that goes into the days before the release, but there's also a lot of work involved. 

The past year has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. After all the time I spent looking for an agent, and all the time I waited (sooooooooo patiently, let me tell you) to get an offer after signing with my agent, it occurred to me that I hadn’t really spent any time thinking about once happens once the deal is done.

Part of it was superstition: I didn’t want to act like I assumed I’d get a deal, because I didn’t want the universe to take that opportunity to laugh in my face. But part of it was simply things I hadn’t even thought about needing to know yet. It wasn’t until I started trying to figure out how to get people to buy my books that I realized. Even after I signed the contract, I was busy for a long time focusing on editing and copyedits and social media and not spending enough time looking at the bigger picture.

Here are five things I learned once I started doing the research.

1.     I know nothing about marketing. Worse, I found the sheer amount of information out there to be completely overwhelming. Worse than that, when you’re trying to learn about marketing six months or even two months before a release, it’s difficult to measure whether you’re having any success at all. Is that one pre-order because of that guest blog I did? Or did my great aunt hear about the book from Grandma and head on over to preorder that day?
2.     Learning to market is work. This is important. There were days where I spent all my writing time reading about ways to get sales, researching and creating swag, or drafting articles and guest blogs to pitch. After several days in a row of this, I felt like I should be writing, like I’d accomplished nothing since I hadn’t added to my total word count. But learning how to sell books is just as important as writing and editing them, so it’s important to devote time to the process. And not to make myself feel like I’m not doing anything important.
3.     Twitter followers ≠ sales. Going into my debut year, I had about 4,000 followers on Twitter. I felt great about that. After all, my Twitter followers were primarily other writers and readers, right? People who’d want to read my book? Wrong. I’d say about one percent of my preorders came from Twitter followers as opposed to friends I met through Twitter, real-life friends, and family members. Building that audience is great, but don’t think everyone who favorites your tweets is going to rush out and buy your books. It doesn’t really work that way.
4.     Watching Amazon rankings will make you crazy. No, seriously. My New Year’s Resolution was to dial back to checking no more than once per day. It’s super exciting when that number creeps closer to #1. But here’s the thing: when your book goes up for preorder months before the release date, it’s not going to hit #1. It’s not even likely to go into the Top 100, not for a debut author. So you wind up refreshing and fixating on the number, with zero idea of how it correlates to actual sales.
5.     I’m not good at anticipating what people want. I did a giveaway where people could buy my book for extra entries. The giveaway got hundreds of entries – exactly six people utilized that option. I did not require proof of purchase, and my Amazon numbers did not reflect six sales. One is someone I know bought the day before, and that was allowed. The others? No way to say. I also said I’d give feedback on non-winning entries for people who pre-ordered the book. Of the six sales, one person took me up on that offer. A few months later, I did another offer: free query critiques to the first 5 people who pre-ordered the books. In my ridiculous pride, I expected to be inundated with responses within a few minutes. Several friends shared the offer, but no one replied. Mathematically, this is a great deal. At the time, I was charging $10 for a query critique (now it's $15). So, for less than half the cost of a critique, a person could get one, and all they had to do was preorder my book. They didn’t have to read or review it. Heck, I couldn’t even stop them from canceling the preorder as soon as the critique was received. But no one bit, despite the fact that my query critiques usually do well when I donate to auctions and other contests.


-->
Marketing a book can easily be a full time job of its own. As publishers take on more and more writers, much of the burden of convincing people to buy our books falls to us as writers. There are millions of books on Amazon – what makes someone choose ours over someone else’s? With so much at stake, it’s important to attack the task like any other job that needs to be done: do the research, make a plan, and stick with it. Part of me always hoped I’d be able to rely on my good looks and charm to sell books once they were out of the world. And, sure, I suppose those things would help if I were standing on street corners hawking my wares. But selling books online in the twenty-first century requires just as much dedication and creativity as writing the book in the first place.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Introducing WILD CARD UNDERCOVER

Today, I'm excited to announce the release of WILD CARD UNDERCOVER by friend and fellow #17Scribes member Kari Lemor! I was fortunate enough to allowed to read an advance copy of this book, and I tore through it. Meg and Chris's relationship was so much fun. Check out this fun new romantic suspense novel, then read an excerpt!

 All that glitters in Miami is not gold . . .
Lured in by a bad ex-boyfriend and the moonlight of Miami, Meg O’Hara is trapped in a nightmare situation, waiting tables for a crime boss and fearing for her life. When undercover FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out, she seizes it. Getting the goods on Salazar Moreno might not be easy, but she’ll do anything to be freed from her servitude and Moreno’s sexual advances, even if it means moving in with the charismatic agent.
Chris Shaunessy pretends to be Meg’s lover in order to keep her safe, but he steels his heart against further involvement. Passion has no place in the sordid world of organized crime. And yet, the closer they get to cracking the case, the stronger his feelings for the spirited waitress shine. It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, and taking Meg in his arms for real could prove a fatal misstep . . .




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

America's Next Reality Star Release Tour!


I can't even begin to express how excited I am to be writing this post. I first started writing AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR in October 2013. And now, after months of querying, losing one agent, finding another, and even more months of submission, I'm thrilled to be sharing this story with the world. This has been such an amazing experience for me, and I want to thank all of you who've been with me since the beginning. Without this blog, without readers and Twitter and query contests, I may have considered giving up a long time ago.

In AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, Jen is cast on a reality show after she loses her job, her boyfriend, and her home. She hopes to win the cash prize but finds she also wants to win the heart of fellow contestant Justin. Fans of Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic won't want to miss this charming, witty read published by Kensington’s Lyrical Shine.

About America’s Next Reality Star:

Title: America’s Next Reality Star
Author: Laura Heffernan
Publisher: Lyrical Shine - Kensington
Series: Reality Star #1
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781516101542

SEEKING THE SMART ONE

Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available at:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

About Laura Heffernan:

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon


Follow my release tour and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! 


March 6, 2017
USA Today HEA - Author Guest Post
E.L. Wicker - Promotional Post
Laura Brown Author - Promotional Post
Books,Dreams,Life - Promotional Post
Mary Ann Marlowe - Promotional Post
Smada's Book Smack - Review Post

March 7, 2017
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium - Promotional Post
OMGReads - Promotional Post
Sassy Book Lovers - Promotional Post
K. Hopkins Writes - Review Post
From the TBR Pile - Promotional Post

March 8, 2017
Tamara Mataya, Author - Promotional Post
It's All About the Romance - Author Interview Post
Natasha Raulerson - Promotional Post
Miss Riki - Review Post
RoloPoloBookBlog - Promotional Post

March 9, 2017
Operation Awesome - Author Guest Post
Lisa's Loves(Books of Course) - Promotional Post

March 10, 2017
What Is That Book About - Promotional Post
Tangled Hearts Book Reviews - Promotional Post
The Creative Life - Review Post
Elizabeth's Books - Author Interview Post
Night Owl Reviews - Author Guest Post

March 13, 2017
marty mayberry, author - Promotional Post
J.R. Yates - Promotional Post
Reading To Unwind - Review Post
The Avid Reader - Promotional Post

March 14, 2017
What the Cat Read - Promotional Post
Fresh Fiction - Author Guest Post

March 15, 2017
M.C. Vaughan Author Website - Promotional Post
Corazones Literarios - Author Interview Post

March 16, 2017
Sour Puss Reviews - Review & Author Interview Post
Bookwildered - Review Post
Mi Bookshelf - Review Post

March 17, 2017
For Love of Books4 - Promotional Post
The Hopeless Romantic - Review Post
Those Crazy Book Chicks - Promotional Post
Chill and read - Review Post



Monday, March 6, 2017

REVIEW: Single Malt by Layla Reyne


I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for SINGLE MALT by the amazing Layla Rayne. I was fortunate enough to get to read an advance copy of the book, and I've known Layla for years. I was so excited when I'd heard that agents Irish and Whiskey were going to have a three book series. 


SINGLE MALT (Agents Irish & Whiskey) by Layla Reyne

About SINGLE MALT:

Title: Single Malt
Author: Layla Reyne
Series: Agents Irish & Whiskey
Genre: M/M Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 27, 2017
Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis:
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he's not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie's lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco's top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie's skills invaluable.  
Jamie's talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security bio-containment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They'll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

Find out more at: Carina Press | Amazon Google Play | Kobo | iTunes| B&N| Goodreads

What I Liked:
  1. The book is well-written and fast paced. The romance builds slowly, but in a believable manner considering the characters' pasts and the fact that they work together.
  2. The characters weren't solving a murder. I feel like so many thrillers and romantic suspenses are about murder. Don't get me wrong, that's great–but at the same time, it was a bit refreshing to read something a bit different once in a while. 
  3. The characters are well-rounded. They have interests and hobbies and lives and families outside of their jobs. 
  4. Nearly all of the romantic suspense I've read has been the male main character protecting the female main character from danger (whether she wanted him to or not). I like that both main characters here are capable of taking care of themselves. It was a refreshing change. 
What I Didn't Like:
  1. Personally, I could've used a little more kissing, but that's just because I hated having to wait to see these two get together. :-) 
  2. I also would have liked the book to have been a bit longer, because then there would've been room for more kissing scenes. Did I mention that I like the kissing? 

Overall:

An exciting, entertaining romantic suspense. The sex is good, the characters are likable, and it's impossible not to root for them to get together. The twists throughout the story are believable but not so obvious I felt insulted as a reader. 

Also, the writing is excellent, and the plot seemed new and fresh. I can't wait to read Cask Strength. Five stars. 


Advanced praise for Single Malt:

A sexy, action-packed read that had me wanting the next book! --HelenKay Dimon, author of Mr. &; Mr. Smith

With sharp writing, compelling characters, and an engaging plot, Single Malt is the M/M romantic suspense series I've been waiting for. - Santino Hassell, award-winning author of the FIVE BOROUGHS series

"Single Malt is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!" -- Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling author


Follow the Release Celebration on February 27th – March 10th! Ten (10) grand prize winners will receive an Agents Irish & Whiskey Gift Set!
Follow the celebration for a different excerpt each week!
February 27th
 Sinfully Gay Romance – Review + Guest Post
 The Novel Approach - Review

February 28th
Joyfully Reviewed –Promotional Post
OMG Reads –Promotional Post
RoloPolo Book Blog – Promotional Post
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium –Promotional Post

March 1st
The Avid Reader  - Promotional Post
March 2nd  
Joyfully Jay – Review + Guest Post
Love Bytes (Reviews) – Guest Post
Prism Book Alliance  - Review + Interview 
March 3rd
The Book Quarry – Review
Tangled Hearts Book Reviews – Promotional Post
Rhi Reading – Promotional Post
Sour Puss Reviews – Promotional Post

March 6th
March 7th
Jen’s Reading Obsession - Review    
Got Fiction? – Promotional Post

March 8th
Those Crazy Book Chicks – Promotional Post
Hike2Forty and Beyond – Promotional Post

March 9th
Book Loving Pixies – Review
Reese’s Review - Review

March 10th
Alpha Book Club – Review

Coming May 1, 2017 - CASK STRENGTH (Agents Irish & Whiskey): Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake. Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer's radar. They're assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie's home state, where Jamie's past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories. As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner's world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
Preorder now: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

About Layla Reyne:
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. You can find her online at http://www.laylareyne.com/.                                                                         

Connect with Layla: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

-->