How To Free Sample Thousands of Books

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Ever since my first job part of my money has always been budgeted to books (sometimes more than I could really afford to spend). Then came Amazon and one-clicking…I was in big trouble. Thank god Kindle Unlimited came along in 2014 to help me get my book budget under control. If you’re a reader and you haven’t tried this incredible program yet, let me explain why I’m loving it.

It’s ten dollars a month. So, yeah, its not free in the true sense of the word, but when I divide the number of books I’ve been reading by ten I’m now spending a dollar or less per book. Before KU each book I read was at least $2.99, some much more. I cringe when I look back at how much I spent on some of my big reading months last year.

It’s a great way to discover new authors. All authors don’t have books on KU, but more and more are seeing the benefit. It’s a great way to let readers sample their work. This has been one of my favorite parts of being in KU. Anytime someone suggests a book or an author that looks good, I check to see if they have any books in KU first, then downloaded that book. If I like it I can buy others. If I don’t I just return it and pick another book.

Quick and steamy reads. KU is really popular with erotic authors. There are tons of short, sexy reads available for times when you want your mind to go somewhere besides your massive to-do list and you also don’t want to get involved in a complex, long story. For this reason alone couples should be signing up for KU. It’s like a sex toy for your biggest sex organ–your brain.

As an author I’m also completely sold on Kindle Unlimited. Both of my current books and the book I’ll be releasing later this month will be on KU (You can read the 1st chapter here). I’m still new to the game. I want people to find me and get a chance to check out my writing. I’m betting on more sticking around for more than not. If you sign up for KU follow the links below and give one of my first two books a try.

The other benefit to me as an author is that I can see if someone only reads part of a book. If lots of readers are stopping after one or two chapters, my statistics will tell me that. What that tells me is there is something amiss in those two chapters, that I need to work on making my writing stronger there. It’s great feedback that can only help me improve.

And finally…your first month is free! So you can get a free sample of KU to get as many free samples of books as you want in one month. For someone who loves to read a deal like that could take some planning to get the most out of it… call in sick to work, send kids to grandma’s, stock up on wine and take out…charge my kindle.

Follow these links to read both my books for free on KU:

Suburban Love Song > www.amazon.com/dp/B00IN8ZDJO

Catch You If You Fall > www.amazon.com/dp/B00O71APQ2

 

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The Commercial vs Creative Conundrum

“Look, no one’s gonna buy it — no one.”

“No one in Middle America, anyway. That’s for sure.”

Sweetheart, it’s just not commercial!”

These are some of my favorite lines from the song “Putting it Together” on Barbara Streisand’s Broadway Album. I played the song yesterday while I was driving and sang along as loudly as I could. I felt that song and needed to belt it out because right now I’m caught in the same conundrum as the painter George Seurat that it was written about and Barbara Streisand–balancing being creative with being commercial. It seems the state of art has changed little since Seurat was around.

One of my goals in becoming an author was to push some boundaries and expand the scope of the romance genre. I had reached my limit of bad boys and good girls, slut shaming, and billionaires desperately looking for poor, clumsy dates. I wanted to read about smart, funny, edgy females and intelligent, kind, multi-dimensional men, so that’s what I wrote. That part was actually easy, it was once I published it that things got complicated.

Genres, tropes and archetypes exist for a reason. They give everyone involved in fiction shorthand to help authors find readers and readers find authors. It’s easy to find a new vampire, BDSM novel to read when you and the author use the same language (keywords) to define the story. But what happens when a writer goes against the grain, on purpose? There isn’t a category for good guys and the smart, sexual girls who love them. I truly believe that I’m not the only one who wants to read a story about them but finding the others has been…well…daunting.

It’s part of being indie. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician, screenwriter or designer–indie is supposed to be independent of commercial influence. Indie is innovative but indie can also be broke. So I’m now pushing my indie boundaries by trying to find my more commercial side.

This past week I started to work with a designer on the covers for my Vivienne Series. I had pictures in my mind that looked like cutting-edge advertising, very arty. I showed a creative friend who also happens to work as a web designer (commercial). Through her eyes I was able to see where my “cool” image could easily been read the wrong way. We discussed the plot of each book and she fed me ideas for much more literal images. Part of me mourned the death of edgy but I could see how her ideas clearly let readers know what kind of book each is and a little of what to expect. They will still be cool, but not at the expense of being clear. I love my books and I want to give them a fighting chance to find their audience.

In the next couple weeks I will be rolling out new, more commercial covers for my first two books then the first book in the Vivienne series. I can’t wait to share all of it and my journey to get there. If you’d like to join me behind the scenes and get a FREE copy of Fearless Flying – The Vivienne Series book 1, click here.

And let’s talk. Are you ready for good guys and smart, sexy women? What new story lines are you looking for? Comment below.

 

Why I’m Changing the Covers & Titles of My First Two Books

The short answer is that as an indie author and entrepreneur I’m still learning, and that’s a good thing. The longer answer is that although I’ve had fantastic reviews I haven’t had much in the way of sales. It’s been frustrating, but in a way it was a good thing because it caused me to learn a very valuable lesson:

Tweet: In indie book marketing–your past books are never dead.

We all have our gripes about Amazon but one of the absolutely beautiful things about the mega sales site is that they allow you to tweek and change your product until you get it right. Unlike a retail store where once the product is on the shelf it will either sell or die, we have the opportunity to make changes then bring a book back to the market. Not only is this a product developer’s dream but it also allows those of us who are making tons of rookie mistakes to fix them.

I love the covers that I have right now. They are very cool, but they don’t work. When I worked with my first designer I just wanted a cool cover (and I got one), I didn’t understand that sometimes cool doesn’t translate for readers. What my covers didn’t do was announce that my books are romance novels. My titles didn’t help either. In my quest to be unique I uniqued myself out of what readers were looking for. Fortunately I met the amazing Whitney G. , a business-savvy indie author with a super-generous soul (and hella good writer, check out her books here). In a three hour meeting over coffee she opened my eyes to the problem. She straight out told me that if she were skimming Amazon, looking for a romance book, she wouldn’t know that either or mine were in that category or have a clue what they were about.

Now I could have gotten all offended and shut down in a huff. She was talking about my babies, my first two novels. But I want to be a successful writer more than I want to be seen as some creative genius. I have 100% faith in the stories inside the books but if I didn’t make some changes not many would ever get to read those stories. So, I’m working with a designer right now to create new covers. I’ve created new titles. I’m rewriting the blurbs and so much more. And I’m loving it. I’ve got renewed energy for the series. Half the fun of being a writer has been learning about the business side and this lesson is HUGE. Even if I had great covers, titles and blurbs they still might sell better with a new ad campaign or marketing technique. There is always an opportunity to grow and learn as an entrepreneur.

But to do that you have to be proactive–seek out other authors and ask questions about what is working for them. Listen to podcasts on the business of selling books (I highly recommend The Creative Penn). Study what the most successful in your genre are doing. Attend a writers conference that is focused on the business side of things. As I’ve noted before I had no clue I was opening a business when I hit publish on my first novel. That has made for a chaotic but still damned exciting start. I wouldn’t trade the roller coaster ride for anything. The longer I’m in it the more I feel like I’m in control of where I’m going.

How about you? Indie authors, how are your first books selling? Now that you’ve learned more about your market would you consider changing the covers? Titles? Marketing techniques? Share your stories in the comments so we can learn from each other. #PayItForward