Why I’m Going All In with Amazon KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited (Should You?)

In October, along with un-publishing my entire backlist, I also went all in with Amazon KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited.

October ended up being my best month ever just due to doing that and telling my email list.

I couldn’t believe how much I started making right away. Double or more what my daily sales had gone down to after launching in August.

Even with a Bookbub, my sales at the wide retailers were never amazing, and then they fell right back to where they were before the Featured Deal. I was bringing in $200 or so every month total on wide retailers, but it just doesn’t compare to being in KU and getting those page reads.

Now I see why the vast majority of the top indie authors in my genre are in KU. Our readers are essentially voracious romance readers, even if it is YA. They like KU.

So these top authors are killing it in KU and most importantly, staying sticky. That was my biggest challenge before. I could pull off a big and successful launch, but then my book inevitably sank.

I don't like the thought of putting all my eggs in one basket, especially with some of the horror stories you hear, but I thought: hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Being wide is hard. If your genre generally does well in KU, it’s even harder. It’s hard to figure out how to promote or get visible on the other sites when they don’t have the same charts and algos that Amazon does.

it is possible (I can think of one author in my genre who is absolutely killing it with Apple), but right now it's easier for me in this season of life to just go into KU and get the huge added visibility and promo you get with being exclusive.

I also have plans to do a big monthly promo to keep my books up in the charts along with releases every 2 months. Maybe alternating the two. But I need to build up my backlist again. :)

I still don’t love the idea of being exclusive with Amazon. So I’m hoping for the best (and working for it) plus planning for the worst. I’m paying off my business credit card and also setting aside money each month into savings in case something big and bad happens to me or a ton of people.

I think we all know it’s not a perfect program, but here we go.

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How do you decide if you should be in KU?

Here are some things to consider.

  • Are the top indie authors in your genre in Select or wide?

  • What are they doing?

There’s something to be said for zigging when everyone else is zagging,  but you also don’t want to reinvent the wheel especially when you have limited time and energy if you’re like me and are a mom or have a full time job still.

You can be successful wide, but it usually takes more time making ads, having a huge backlist, asking for promos there, etc.

KU has so much marketing built in, like the popularity list and the boosted rank, not to mention the page reads income (which can be a big chunk of money).

But so much depends on your genre, what’s working there right now, your values, and how much work you’re willing to put in.

Either way, set aside money in case something happens to you or everyone. Be ready to pivot (PIVOT! Lol), and have a mailing list, so if the worst does happen, you can let your readers what’s going on and where to find you.

Got any questions? Want to see me cover a specific topic? Let me know in the comments!

How's Your Author Business Doing So Far This Year?

I’ve mentioned before that I plan quarterly.

I usually check in quarterly too, at least with myself, and spend time making note of how far I’ve come in the last 3 months, where I need to pivot, and where I want to go next.

Now that fall is upon us and kids are back to school, it’s the perfect time to ask yourself how your author business is doing so far and pivoting as necessary.

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Goals change, and that’s okay.

Back in January, I shared a post containing my 2018 goals (and how to plan by quarter).

Today, I’d like to let you know how my author business is coming along so far and what’s next for me.

And of course, share what’s changed. :)

The plan was to do this in July, but… #momlife.

Here’s my 2018 progress so far and how I’m pivoting, by quarter and overall.

By the way, I’d love to hear from you as well! Don’t forget to comment below.

Business Revenue

2018 Revenue Goal: $24,000

I’m just under $9,000 for the year so far, but I have another book to come out (plus plans to level up my book earnings).

I only published my first book of 2018 in April, so it almost feels like 2018 just got started for me. But already, it’s almost over!

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The bad thing? The more you make, the easier it is to spend money and blow it on ads with zero or low ROI and other such things. It’s important to be smart with the money you make! No point in going from making $1K to making $10K only to blo $9K.

So yeah, lesson learned. I’ve spent money experimenting with FB ads, but I’ve set them aside (again) for now.

And I’m hoping to hire a trusted PA (who knows what she’s doing) to do my AMS ads. Lately, I’m finding it hard to gain traction with AMS ads, and of course, the reporting is the worst.

I also invested money in conferences (ticket, flight, accommodations, meals), which (in my opinion) is worth it.

A huge part of my spending has been investing in the two launches I’ve done, but I’m doing way better about keeping spending reigned in.

For book 1, #TheRealCinderella, my priority was reaching as many readers as possible, but with the next book, my ad spend was way lower, and I only made about $500 less.

Publishing Schedule

My goal is to publish 3-4 new books this year, and I’m on track to hit that! I’ve published two books and will be publishing one more.

I’m also trying to transition to publishing every 3 months to every 2. That would be amazing.

WriterMom

I absolutely love spending time working on this blog and my YouTube channel.

But I’ve learned that I need to put my fiction first.

WriterMom was the first thing to go when I decided to level up my author business. I gave up weekly YouTube videos and blog posts and only kept Monday Must-Reads and the Saturday morning newsletter so I could focus the majority of my precious time on writing fiction.

These days I’m not even spending a ton of time on marketing.

This is going to remain the same the rest of the year and for the foreseeable future.

I’m bringing back WriterMom videos/blog posts but every two weeks. The goal is to work on getting ahead of schedule and do WriterMom stuff on the weekends, but I’m still working on that.

And I won’t be editing videos. I’ll just go live on YouTube and hope I don’t mess up too much. :)

First Quarter Goals

Bold means completed.

Main Goals

  • Publish book 1 of new series

  • Finish updating WriterMom blog/autoresponder/social media queue and grow WriterMom

Smaller Goals

  • Post weekly YouTube video and share

  • Create WM editorial calendar for Q1

  • Get self-care habits back on track (sleep, working out, water, morning routine)

  • Tidy Kon-Mari style (clothes, books, papers)

  • Draft/dictate collab book

  • 2017 Taxes

What can I say? I’m guilty of trying to do too much.

First Quarter Reflection

It was a very interesting first quarter. I’ve pretty much scrapped WM new stuff (except the newsletter and MM) to go all in on my fiction.

I was spreading myself too thin and trying to do too much when I don’t want that jam-packed lifestyle.

I didn’t publish in March as planned due to a flaky cover designer and deciding to bring on an editor, but I’m almost there!

Figured out a better process and more committed/productive than ever with Google calendar.

What didn’t work:

  • Trying to grow WriterMom AND my fiction

  • Doing too much

  • Editing books I didn’t like

  • Not sleeping enough/taking care of myself

What worked:

  • Google calendar to schedule tasks daily

  • Dropping off toddler with a sitter for a few hours some days

  • Focusing on doing 2-5 things/day

  • Staying off social media

  • Taking weekends off

Second Quarter Goals

Main Goal

  • Publish and launch #TheRealCinderella LIKE A BOSS (deadline: April 26, aim for April 24)

Smaller Goals

  • Finish reworking and drafting collab book by May

  • Write book 2 and prep for launch in July (ended up being August)

Second Quarter Reflection

The collab book did not happen. Hoped to catch up on it, but only got about 23K before the project got stuck/stalled. We both got super busy over the summer.

So instead I focused on the #TRC launch. It was my most successful launch to date, although I got behind on book 2.

Not on track for July, especially after everything that happened in June (no kitchen, house hunting, buying a house). I lost so much momentum on edits.

But my most important goal (the launch) did happen in addition to family time (weekend trip).

What worked:

  • Being up by 6am, working until 9am before the kids woke up

  • Planning my day and week

  • Using mywriteclub to regain momentum on edits

  • Word count chart in Scrivener

  • Launch spreadsheet with deadlines

  • Got up to 3K/day (new threshold for me)

What didn’t work:

  • Trying to write during such a big launch

  • Getting stalled on edits

So where am I going next? I’m already working on my third quarter goals (technically ends at the end of this month). I’ll let you know how it all goes at the end of the year.

I’m also still editing for clients here and there.

But the important thing? I intend to end 2018 on a high note.

How about you? How is 2018 going for you so far? Do you have any questions for me?

Resources mentioned above:

- how to plan quarterly (and 2018 overall goals): https://www.writermom.net/blog/2018-g...

- mywriteclub: https://www.mywriteclub.com/beta/

- all my Write to Market videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

- Saturday morning newsletter (insider tips and updates on my author business): https://www.writermom.net

WRITE TO MARKET RESULTS (MY HUGE MISTAKE, ALL THE NUMBERS, LAUNCH STRATEGY, & MORE )

Here's a video summary of the blog post plus other updates on what's next, my new office, and what I've been up to. 

The links I mention in the video: 

MY PLAN FOR FINALLY BECOMING A SIX-FIGURE AUTHOR: https://youtu.be/AyO6Bbfo39E

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #1: THE RESEARCH PHASE, WHAT TO DO, AND WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR: https://youtu.be/1MhJNeKAsW0

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #2: THE FIRST DRAFT IS DONE (AND WHAT'S NEXT): https://youtu.be/mGv6GTsIFT0

I wrote my first book in November 2011.

I wrote and published my first real book by New Year’s Eve 2013.

By 2017, I had written 8 books across two complete YA contemporary romance series and made my first few thousand dollars self-publishing.

But I still wasn’t making more than a $600-$800 a month on average. I’d only had a few $1000+ months, and I wanted more.

The first 8 books I wrote were written purely from the heart and before I learned so much more about even basic story structure. Not to mention how to market, cultivate a fanbase, and grow a newsletter.

I wanted to do big things with my next series and start making some real money from my fiction. I knew that the key to that was writing to market: finding something I loved writing that readers really wanted to read.

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This is where the #BestFriendsForever series was born.

During November of 2017, I created 5 main characters and wrote down the basics of the story they would each have. Each book would feature a popular romance trope.

Before I even did that, though, I read and followed Chris Fox’s Write to Market book to a T, following his exercises step by step and reading/learning from the bestselling books in my genre.

It paid off.

Chris has an updated version of this gem coming fall of 2018, but I still highly recommend Chris's books for writers. He's a knows his stuff, but more importantly, he's worked really hard to get where he is. 

So it took a little longer than I planned, but by April, I launched my first written to market book. Here’s exactly what I did and how it all went.

If you have a questions for me, feel free to leave a comment or email me at hello@writermom.net.

WRITING THE FIRST BOOK

I wrote the first book, #TheRealCinderella, during mid-December through mid-January.

I made a video diary as I went as a reader bonus for later. The whole experience was a lot of fun, but I knew the first draft would need a lot of work.

Meanwhile, I looked for a cover designer. I planned for a March release, but ended up pushing it back to late April after the first cover designer ghosted me.

It ended up working out for the best, though, because then I ended up getting an amazing cover designer (Jenny from Seedlings) and an amazing editor (hey, Kelsie!), who managed to level up my story big time.

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Both of these expenses were big but so worth it.

I knew that making my product as best as possible would make or break the book so I spent the money on the best editor and cover designer I could get, using freelance editing money to help fund both.

The edits were not easy to get through (I do not like editing), but by the end, I was incredibly pleased and could not believe that I had written this awesome book. It was definitely my best work to date, again thanks to my amazing editor.

PRE-LAUNCH

I began getting ready for launch way before the week of April 24, when the book was scheduled to come out.

I created a comprehensive, super detailed launch plan comprised of everything I had learned from Chris Fox’s Launch to Market and other super smart indie authors.

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After creating some deadlines for myself, I began creating book promo graphics, pulling teasers, preparing ARCs, getting together an ARC team, creating reader magnets, setting up an autoresponder, and so much more.

I also created a space where I could input daily sales throughout the launch as well as notes about rank and other info. I knew the main goal would be to keep sales increasing day over day.

So I decided to launch at 99c for a limited time (at least a week) and push the book to as many readers as possible by getting the book on the bestseller and new release charts for Teen & Young Adult Romance.

I also decided to release wide. That was more of a not wanting to put my eggs in one basket decision I had made a while back for my entire business, even though most indie YA romance authors were in KU.

I was lucky that I already had a small fanbase for my other two YA romance series. I had a team of over 130 readers who had signed up for my ARC team at the end of my autoresponder sequences, but I decided to create a new Google form and have some strict requirements for this book's advanced review team.

Taking a page out of JA Huss’s book (check out her Perfect Year YouTube series), I asked readers for their Amazon reviewer profile, check off if they had read and reviewed one of my books already, understood that they were agreeing to review by a certain date, and knew that it was a clean YA romance book.

They also had to promise not to share the book and let me know if they could purchase a copy upon a release for verified review purposes.

I ended up with 16 ARC members who had about a week or so to read and review. I wasn’t as strict as I could have been with a few people, but even so, I ended up with 10 readers who did review and a few who also purchased and made their review verified. I created a handy spreadsheet to track this and follow through.

A week before launch, I also did a cover reveal giveaway using Rafflecopter for a $25 Amazon gift card. The purpose of this was to get readers excited for what was coming. To enter the giveaway, readers could share, comment, like on the linked FB post with the pretty cover, follow me on Instagram and Goodreads, etc. 

Copy of #TRC cover reveal giveaway.jpg

However, I posted the giveaway link in the post they were supposed to comment, like, and share. Next time, I won’t do that, making sure only my VIP readers can enter and not random people who just want the gift card. The giveaway also had the nice added bonus of getting me tons of extra followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Meanwhile, my editor did a second round of final (minor) edits, but I made the decision to hold off on the paperback but go ahead with the ebook release the week of April 24, creating a secret preorder that went live about five days prior.

The goal with the preorder was to get the sales page for the book to be completely built and with a few also-boughts by the time the book went live on Tuesday, April 24 (or very soon after).

Also, I managed to get an international 99p/99 euros/65 rupees Bookbub Featured Deal for a new boxed set of my first YA romance series.

I knew it would be a great opportunity to get tons of extra eyes on my new release while it was at 99c. The Bookbub people were kind enough to accommodate me and give the book a slot on Thursday, April 26th.

I was very excited (and nervous) for what was to come.

LAUNCH WEEK (AND MY COLOSSAL MISTAKE)

It was hard to see straight during launch week, especially after the colossal mistake I made.

The book accumulated 15 organic preorders during the few days before release. I didn't tell anyone (except a few writer friends in a FB group when I got the pretty orange #1 New Release sticker for one of my categories).

During launch week, I staggered announcements to five different segments of my email list. I also had tons of newsletter swaps lined up with other YA romance authors, having built up some goodwill in the past several months by sharing their stuff. :)

I kept a close eye on things every single day, making sure those sales kept trickling in and increasing daily.

I ran into my first problem with AMS ads. My whole dashboard seemed frozen. My money wasn’t being spent, new ads weren’t being approved, and no new data was rolling in. I couldn’t believe it.

Thankfully, two awesome writer friends suggested Bookbub ads. David Gaughran had mentioned using them as a get out of jail free card. Well, with the mistake I realized I made plus AMS ads not working, I knew it was time to take them out of my back pocket and experiment. More on my mistake in a sec.

Everything was chugging along nicely the first few days after launch. I still didn’t have also-boughts. They were also-vieweds, but they looked decent.

Plus the book had gotten the book up as far as #16 on the New Releases list for Teen & Young Adult Romance. Normally, that wasn’t too difficult, but things had turned quite competitive all of a sudden.

Several authors in the indie space were launching or had just launched. The top 50 (and especially the top 20) of the Bestsellers list seemed impossible to crack.

The overall rank had gotten as low as 13K, but the book was hanging out around 16K for the most part. And it hit #1 in several smaller categories that week.

As far as reviews, it had gotten 6 five-star reviews and one (not nice) 3-star review. That poor review wasn’t fun to read, but I knew it was not the end of the world. I brushed it off.

So where did I mess up?

Remember where I said that I had posted in a writers group on Facebook during the secret preorder?

Well, that really messed up my also-boughts.

Around Wednesday or Thursday, my also-boughts finally appeared. They were almost entirely books about book marketing and self-publishing.

I loved David Gaughran, having met him at Smarter Artist the year before, but I did not want his books dominating the first page of my also-boughts!

So what had happened? All of my awesome writer friends had gone and pre-ordered the book!

Of course, I  so appreciative of all the support, but I really shouldn't have posted a screenshot of my book or I should have made it very clear that they should not buy the book.

Quality of also-boughts can make or break the launch of a book. So you see why I was devastated.

I just remember feeling completely devastated about these also-boughts. It took a lot to make me legit upset or sad when it came to my books. I’d gotten a lot of poor reviews and none of them had ever made me truly upset. But this did.

I laughed about it to my author friends, afraid I might start crying instead. I had been working on this since November. A LOT of sweat, blood, and tears (and money!) had gone into this launch. And I had messed it up by posting a screenshot on Facebook.

Now Amazon would start recommending my book to authors instead of YA romance readers. NO!!!

It was especially hard because I had these super high hopes and expectations for the book (having never had a successful book before).

So this is where Bookbub ads came back in (I didn’t even have AMS ads working!). I dug out my business credit card, determined to fix these also-boughts and get the book in front of the right people (not on page 2 of David’s Strangers to Superfans also-boughts).

FIXING MY MISTAKE AND RESULTS FROM FIRST TEN DAYS OF LAUNCH

I hardly stepped away from the computer during launch. I kept a super close eye on things, refreshing the book page constantly and managing ads too.

Thankfully, the Bookbub ads really helped and the also-boughts got better and better by the day. Bookbub ads saved this launch! They cost a pretty penny, but it was worth the investment, even if it got difficult toward the end to find good comp authors.

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David Gaughran has a lot to say about BB ads, if you want to learn more. I turned them off once the book went to full price, but I definitely recommend them for free or 99c.

The book stayed pretty sticky on the charts and did well. Here are some stats as of the first week and a half.

  • #TRC got as low as #6 in New Releases for Teen & Young Adult < Romance < Contemporary

  • It got the orange #1 New Release sticker for a few smaller categories

  • It got as low as #17 in Bestsellers for Teen & Young Adult < Romance < Contemporary (large & competitive category right now)

  • It got the orange Bestseller sticker for Teen & YA Dating & Intimacy Books (not super easy to crack) and Teen & YA Self-Esteem Books

  • The book got as low as #3781 in the entire Kindle store!

  • The book sold well over 400 copies in its first week and a half of launch!

Plus I reached 40 copies sold in one day on the 26th, the day of the international Bookbub Featured Deal, and the sales kept increasing!

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Despite my big mistake, I was really happy with the launch and thought that overall it was a success. It was definitely my best launch ever. The best I'd done before this was hit about 17K, briefly, for another not written to market book.

My pie-the-sky-but-within-reach goals for this launch were top #3000, top 3 for new releases, and top 20 for bestsellers. I was SO CLOSE!

I thought I had a good chance of hitting top 3 of Teen & YA Romance new releases, but the competition in this category was intense. A lot of big and smaller authors had new books out, and they were pushing them hard.

However, I pushed just as hard and even harder than I planned due to my also-boughts mistake and AMS ads not working as I thought they would. Crazy how that happened. I ended up getting an ENT (ended up being meh) and a couple extra (big) newsletter swaps (made a big difference!) and extended the launch until the ABs were fixed.

My original aim was to keep sales increasing over 5 days, but I ended up keeping my foot on the gas for several more days. To keep readers excited and give them an extra cookie, I also ran a launch week giveaway, this time for a signed paperback. This got them sharing my new release again.

However, I wondered whether the book would stay sticky... That's really worried me, but I hoped that I had proved its worthiness to Amazon with the steady sales from the past week and a half. That next Saturday was a slow day for sales, but that's when the rank actually started dropping below 10K. Go figure.

As of that weekend, the launch was officially over, but the book picked up some steam of its own. I sent out the last call for 99c email to my entire list, letting them know the sale would end that day. The plan was to raise the price to $3.99.

I wondered if the book would keep rising in the charts and lowering in rank if I left it at 99c, but I decided to go ahead and raise the price since that’s what I had told readers.

As far as wide sales on other platforms, there were not a ton because there's just not the same visibility over there, like categories, bestseller charts, new release charts, etc. But the boxed set did well and got me some extra income, so that was great.

POST-LAUNCH RESULTS (DID THE BOOK STICK?)

Even after the launch was over, the book continued to amaze me!

My biggest worry and question was whether it would stay sticky, but it did! It was surreal.

It continued to rock the top 10 in new releases and even bumped back up sometimes in rank as well. It was at 6-8K and then went back down to 5K and #25 in Bestsellers plus #5 in New Releases. No other book had come anywhere near these kinds of numbers.

And now that the book was at full price, I was actually making some good money!

AMS ads started working again, so I left a couple on, but other than that, I relied on Amazon's algorithm and the book’s stickiness to keep it sailing.

By this time, 2-3 weeks after launch, the book was selling an average of 25 copies a day. I was very pleased.

However, I also learned that it never gets easy, and there's an incredible amount of pressure once a book of yours does well. Will it stick? Will it just drop off? Will book 2 do as well? HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

But the great sales were also great motivation for getting the next book out!

I think that the long (steadily building) launch and push along with a great cover and blurb was what made the difference here. Get the best cover, editing, and blurb you can. And write what readers want!

(P.S. Book 2 just came out a couple weeks ago. Look out for a launch results post on that book soon!)

Here is an overview of all the costs that went into this launch. I did spend quite a bit of money (since it was the first book of a new series, that made sense), but I also wanted to make sure I didn’t spend some crazy amount that would take forever to make back.

TOTAL PRODUCTION COSTS

COVER $550 (including a $100 rush fee)

EDITING $410.32 (PARTIAL SWAP FOR PROOFREADING)

TOTAL PRODUCTION COSTS: $960.32

TOTAL COSTS DURING LAUNCH AND FIRST FULL MONTH

AMS ADS: $1067.10

BOOKBUB ADS: $269.75

RAFFLECOPTER: $13

AMAZON GIVEAWAYS: $44.65 (mostly for newsletter swaps)

COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY: $25

SIGNED PAPERBACK LAUNCH WEEK GIVEAWAY: $12

TOTAL: $1431.40

TOTAL REVENUE FOR MAY (FIRST FULL MONTH)

This includes revenue from the boxed set featured deal on Bookbub and my other books, but the vast majority of income came from the new release. 

AMAZON: $2535.46 (over $2200 from #TRC)

WIDE: $112 (not counting paperbacks; don't have access to those stats; about another $50-$100)

TOTAL: $2647.10

I made about another $1500 on Amazon in June, not counting the other retailers and paperbacks. Not bad! 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

  • AMS ads ended up spending like crazy the next month or so. It was frustrating to see that much money go to ads when I wasn't sure how much they helped.

  • I've never made this much money off of my books! It was super exciting and it hit me that making money off of my fiction was really possible for me.

  • Just about hit all my reach for the sky goals :)

  • Took quite a bit of spend to reach said goals (not for the faint of heart) but it was an investment and I understood that.

  • My biggest fear was (and still is): will it last? How long will the book stick? But there's only so much you can do. If you can have an excellent cover and good editing, you're already mostly there.

  • Seeing how well the book did and how well it was received gave me lots of motivation to finish writing, editing, and launch the second book and keep going.

  • Feels great to be paid more than a few dollars a day :)

  • Previous book sales, before launching this book, were about $400 to $600 a month total. They were closer to $600 to $1000 in 2016 when I was marketing, before I burnt out and had a baby.

  • The plan is to release a new book in this series every 3 months; there are four more books in this series with potential for more or a sideways series at another school, with minor characters, or something.

  • I can probably only focus on this series for now and will need to put other ideas on hold. There will be little to no room for other projects or collabs. A book every 3 months for me right now is about my limit, but I'm also trying to push my word counts higher and higher and trying not to lose momentum during the revisions process; getting an editor (and the associated deadlines) helps a lot with that.

  • I'm really excited to see how book 2 does; there is that fear of it not being as good as the first and what price to launch at. Don’t want to get behind on post-production and editing this time around, although due to focusing on the launch, I already am... (spoiler: all went well! Look for a post on that launch soon!)

So yeah. Overall, #TheRealCinderella launch was a success and my best launch to date. I think my biggest lesson learned from this write to market experiment is to put out the best book you can.

Especially your book cover and editing. If you have to get a part-time job or freelance to do it, then do it. That's what I did.

Pay attention to the popular tropes in your genre and find the story that readers will love and that you will have a blast writing. I am loving writing this series. 

And like I said, I highly recommend Chris Fox's book, Write to Market. Start there if you want to try this yourself. I also have some videos of everything I did along the way to get here

Got any questions or comments? Leave them below! 

Writing to Market Update #2: The First Draft is Done (And What's Next)

That series I've been writing to market? 

Find out how it's coming along in today's video! After tons of time following Chris Fox's book, Write to Market, and doing tons of outlining and writing, the first draft is finally done! 

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However, as you'll find out, this is just the beginning, and there's still a ton of work ahead of me. Find out what's been going well, what I'm struggling with, and what's next as I aim to hit it out of the park with this new YA romance series.

A REMINDER FOR WORKING PARENTS: WHEN TRAGEDY HITS CLOSE TO HOME

I'll be honest. 

It's been a week of ups and downs for me. 

On Monday morning, I finished writing my newest book. It felt great to reach the finish line of the first draft, but I also knew there was a lot of work ahead of me in revisions. 

Then that night, I found out a former student of mine had passed away suddenly. The news rocked me. 

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Last night, I got an email with a wonderful marketing opportunity for my fiction books, something that could get my stories a lot of visibility. 

I'm glad I'll have the day off tomorrow to sort through all these emotions and get some needed rest. 

In today's video, I process and share my thoughts on a recent tragedy that struck my local community recently. It's a sad reminder for me and any other stay at home mom, work from home mom, or any working parent. 

I also talk about the one thing we can do, even when we feel like failures as parents or like we can't make the difference we wish we could. 

BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS: FAVORITE READS FROM 2017

In today's video, I share my favorite reads from 2017. This list will include something for everyone, whether you’re into fiction or only non-fiction, I think you’ll find something great to read.

So last year, I set a goal of 50 books to read. This was scary to set such a high number, but I did it and I’m so glad because I read so many good books. I think I was wasting a lot of time just rewatching old TV shows, but now I’m spending more time than ever consuming new stories and non-fiction.

In 2018, my reading goal is 60 books. I'm upping my goal again, but I'm also ecstatic to be making even more room for reading in my life and become a better storyteller through reading.

Here are my favorite reads from last year (my affiliate links):

best books for writers 2017 blog post image.jpg

If you’ve been in a reading rut or are looking to level up your life, I definitely recommend you start with some of these books. And if you’ve read some of these before, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I read and reply to all of them.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a person and as a writer this year is to read more books. It’s why I’m making reading one of my top priorities in 2018. It makes me a better storyteller and helps me level up. And I know it’ll do the same for you if you give it the time.

As always, thanks for watching, subscribe so you don’t miss future videos, and keep creating your art.

MY 2018 THEME, GOALS, & HABITS + Q1 GOALS (HOW TO PLAN YOUR YEAR BY QUARTER)

In today's video, I share my 2018 goals, habits, and theme.

Plus, I share why I now plan by quarter as well as what specific goals I'm striving for during the first quarter of the year!

If you'd like some new year inspiration and tips, you'll love this video. 

Here's what I discuss:

  • What I failed to mention in my 2017 in review video (how did I do as far as $$?)
  • The phrases, mantras, habits, and mindset that I'm going into 2018 with
  • Why I'm switching to planning by quarter instead of by year
  • Big picture goals for 2018 (like revenue & hitting publish every 3 months)
  • My specific goals for the first quarter of the year (2 big goals plus a handful of smaller goals)
  • My #1 tool for 2018
  • Why I'm convinced that 2018 is going to be so much better than 2017

Find the video helpful? Remember to subscribe so you don't miss the next one! Sign up in 3 seconds on my homepage. 

2017 in Review: Here's How I Did

It's that time of year again!

In this video, I review my 2017 goals and share how far I came. This is one of the most crucial exercises for my author business, along with setting goals at the start of every year.

Find out how many of my goals I achieved as well as where I fell short! Regardless, make sure you celebrate your progress. 

How far did you come in 2017? Did you meet your most important goals? 

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #1: THE RESEARCH PHASE, WHAT TO DO, AND WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #1: THE RESEARCH PHASE, WHAT TO DO, AND WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

Today I want to give you the first official update as I write my first series to market. This is something I announced a while back, and I’ve come a long way since then. 
In this video, I’m talking about the research phase of the write to market process, what exactly I’m doing when I say write to market, exactly what I did, and everything I've learned.