Monday, November 30, 2020

Books About Authoring

 I have been going on an absolute binge of books about authoring (and a few about writing) lately, and I decided to keep track of all of them in one place (here) with my thoughts on how useful they are / who might find them useful. Because there are a LOT of books out there being recommended and so far I've been lucky in that I think all the ones I've read have been useful in one way or another, though I still have a fair few to work my way through. 

Just FYI, I am using my Amazon affiliate links for these, but I'm also being absolutely honest in how helpful I think they will be and who they'll be helpful to. 

In addition to the books, I'm also going to recommend David Gaughran's free web course: Starting From Zero. It's aimed at people completely or almost completely new to self-publishing, but as someone who has been self publishing for years and slowly learning through experience, I wish I'd had this years ago and even now I'm finding it extremely helpful for shoring up weak spots in my knowledge / experience and giving me the tools to fix mistakes I knew I was making but didn't know how to fix. 


Dear Writer, You Need to Quit by Becca Syme

Dear Writer, You're Doing It Wrong by Becca Syme

Dear Writer, Are You In Burnout by Becca Syme

I am putting these three books right at the tippy-top of this list because man oh man... yeah. Especially 'You're Doing It Wrong' spoke to me on so many levels and I think that before we get into all the marketing, all the writing, all the STUFF (which can become so overwhelming) it's important to cast a critical eye on all the advice. 

Not everything is going to work for everyone and by reading Becca's books first, I think a lot of us can get a good handle on reading further and deciding what will and won't work for us. These books are great for self reflection and looking at what strategies and techniques will work for different personality types. 

They are not quick-fix books. They are not "this will solve all your problems" books. Nope, these are books that are thoroughly grounded in the reality of authoring and how difficult it can be and how we can sometimes make things more difficult on ourselves by trying to do all the things / trying to do all the things the way someone else told us to do them. 

Especially before going down the rabbit hole of all the things we CAN do, I think it's important to think about setting expectations and knowing ourselves. Because not all of the advice in the books listed below will work for everyone. Reading Becca's books was a relief because I do know a lot of the things I'm good at and I really feel able to give myself permission to try things now but NOT freak out if they don't work for me or if I suck at them. 

These books are HIGHEST recommended for anyone who has been publishing and feels fed up, overwhelmed, frustrated, or at a loss about their current position as an author. I also highly recommend them for anyone who is already looking into all the things they think they need to do as an author.


Following: A Marketing Guide to Author Platform - This one I don't have a straight 'buy' link for because it's actually a free book you get when you sign up for David Gaughran's newsletter, so I've linked instead to his website which is where I signed up for his newsletter. 

This book did a great job of breaking down the pieces of an Author Platform for me. While I already knew most of them (the various social media outlets, having a website, getting a newsletter up and running), I felt like he did a really good job talking through which ones are most helpful to authors and why. He absolutely convinced me that I needed to do a better job with my website and focus the right kind of attention on my newsletter. 

I recommend this book for anyone because it's free, and even if you feel like you have a good handle on your platform, he may have some new ideas for you (and, again, free... also it's not a super long book so the investment is minimal). I do think it will be particularly useful for newer authors who haven't started building their platform yet, authors who have been published for a while but have paid only minimal attention to their platform, or authors who feel overwhelmed by social media and trying to keep up with it all. 


Let's Get Digital: How to Self Publish and Why You Should - Another David Gaughran book (you're going to see his whole set here because I have become a superfan of HIS.) and this one is pretty obvious in who it's for - anyone who is thinking about self-publishing. Heck, anyone who is thinking about publishing in general even if they need a little convincing to go the self-publishing route. He lays out all the (very good, imo) reasons to do this yourself and what you'll need. In a lot of ways, I feel like this is a kind of companion-book to Following. 

As someone who has been self publishing for a while, I still found a lot of the information useful even if some of it was just helping me streamline my thoughts about things I already knew. Also, it's free, although longer than Following, so the investment is still pretty small. 


Strangers to Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey - Also by David Gaughran. 

Oh man, this one was so much more than the title made me think it was. While it was about the Reader Journey - which I think I probably need to re-read some of the sections for it to make total sense to me - there were so many nuggets of good advice in here that were so much more. One of the biggest takeaways for me was making sure to focus on the readers you already have and not just the new ones you're trying to get. Even though that's something I feel like I've always done instinctively (in large part because I'm one of those people that truly enjoys reader interaction and I'm so grateful to have readers that I'm constantly wanting to give them things), it was nice to see him really break down why that's a good thing and ways in which to do it. Some of which were new to me. 

Recommended for authors who have a few books out, their platform in place, and are looking to take the next step. 


Newsletter Ninja by Tammi L. Labrecque - I'm not going to lie... this book was recommended to me years before I actually read it. I knew it was going to require me to do work and I didn't wanna. Now I wish I had because I know how much time I wasted and how much better I could be doing right now with my newsletter. This book is recommended for anyone who is just starting their newslettter, for anyone who has a newsletter and is now wondering what they do with it, for anyone who wants to do better with their newsletter, and for anyone who thinks a newsletter isn't a big deal (although, if you still think that after reading the first three books I recommended then I shall sit here and despair). This book is solid gold and I feel dumb af for not getting to it sooner.


Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store - Another David Gaughran - but wait, Angel! You skipped a book! What about Bookbub Ads? 

Yeah, we're getting to that (eventually, it's not next on my list), but in my opinion these books are in the wrong order lol. I read the Bookbub Ads book first out of all of his books and while I got a lot out of it even then, in my opinion it should be read last even though technically this book is the last in the series. Why? Because your Bookbub ads will do much better if you understand Amazon's inner workings. 

I got so much more out of this book than expected. A fantastic bird's eye view of Amazon and what makes it tick as well as great breakdowns on what things KU and wide authors need to do differently in regards to Amazon (and with one pen name in KU and one that's wide, that has been something I've struggled with for a long time). 

There's marketing but there's also a lot of understanding, in how can I make certain marketing tools work for me

I'm placing it after his other books though because, while a totally new-to-the-scene author might get a lot out of it, in a lot of ways I think those of us who have a few books out and have a little bit of experience with Amazon will get even more. 


Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes - This one is pretty romance specific, but it's great for any romance author trying to figure out exactly how to structure their book or who worries about their plot / pacing. It's a fast, easy read and a great breakdown of the 'formula' that romance readers expect (aka, demand lol)


How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by Bryan Cohen

I really enjoyed this book. I struggle with blurbs and I know I'm not alone. Having the tools laid out for what is basically copy writing was so very helpful. 

This book is packed with good advice, I am currently in the middle of re-working my blurbs for the umpteenth time, but now I really feel like I have a good handle on exactly what should and should not be in my blurbs and how they should be laid out. I've always had a vague idea before, that slowly became more clear over the years and from other advice, but this book lays it out in a formula manner and gives great examples throughout. There are a few things I think I'll ignore (like putting a call-to-action at the end of the blurb... if Amazon thought that would work, they would have done it already lol) but most of it really helped me improve my blurbs.

Recommended for anyone struggling with blurbs. 


2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron - To me, this book was not what I expected. While the very beginning got into how she got from writing 2k to 10k a day (and it involves having a lot of time to spend writing every day) and I do think her techniques will work to help a lot of people write faster, at least half the book is dedicated to how to write a book (and I do NOT think her techniques will work for everyone). There are nuggets of good advice in here, but they seem more geared towards people who are writing fantasy / sci-fi / something with a big overarching storyline like she writes. And there's nothing wrong with that! 

But for people who are writing a story where everything wraps up by the final chapter (like a lot of romances) I think that a lot of her advice on how to write a series is actually better serviced in the next two books I'm recommending - Romance Your Brand and Romance Your Plan (see below). Though a lot of her advice would work great for Urban Fantasy Romances, etc.

There is absolutely good advice here, though I imagine a lot of my pantser friends would get very little out of it. I fall somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser, so while I don't think I'll be plotting out whole series the way she recommends, or even a whole book at a time, I do think I got some good tips on plotting out some short sections before getting to work on them. 

This is not one of the books that I feel compelled to say "Go! Go buy it now!" BUT if you're searching for ways to plot better and write faster using plotting, I think it could be a valuable read.


Romance Your Brand: Building a Marketable Genre Fiction Series - It's not David Gaughran! Nope, it's Zoe York, who is a fabulous romance author and whose advice in this book already has me considering all sorts of things I haven't before. A lot of her advice builds off of a lot of things I read about in Gaughran's books though, but more targeted to authors like me who write series. 

It's especially great for authors like me who have some experience in writing series and so have worked out a few of the kinks on our own but maybe don't quite know what to do with them. I think there's also a lot of terrific advice for authors who are just embarking on their first series, but experience is often an even better teacher than someone else, and so I think there are some lessons that are impossible to avoid. And then people will look back at her advice and go "ooooh... that's what she was talking about." 

Whereas I read this book and went "omg, YES, I know exactly how that is!" and then she told me what to do next and how to fix it. She also did that in my next recommendation - 


Romance Your Plan: Taking Genre Fiction Marketing to the Next Level - Omg these two books... and I absolutely recommend reading them the way I did, back to back. They go together like peanut butter and jelly except that they leave me feeling far more empowered than a sandwich ever has. 

Now these books are definitely not for everyone. If you are someone who refuses to write series, give these a pass, they probably won't be too helpful to you. But if you're someone who wants to write a series or who loves writing series or (like me) who somehow keeps writing series even though you mean to write a standalone here and there, these two books are really fantastic purchases. 

I read them at such a good time for me. I have a couple series under my belt and I learned some lessons on my own, but I had some trouble articulating them and so I had some trouble figuring out exactly how I was going to fix them in the future. After reading these books I felt like Zoe had not only pinpointed the problems I had been struggling to articulate, but had given me the tools I needed to keep moving onward and upward. 

In addition to that, she gave me tools to utilize for planning out a writing / release schedule that actually makes me feel (semi) relaxed when I looked at it rather than slightly frantic and wondering if I'm going to burn out like a candle at the end of its wick. 


The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing - This one is a collection of essays from a lot of really amazing authors known as "The Indie Voice." I'll be honest, I'm not sure I would have picked it up if it hadn't been free because when I read the sample I immediately thought this was a book that was only for authors who had moved from traditional publishing to self-publishing (or were considering doing so) and that definitely wasn't me. 

Still, I'm glad I stuck with it because, while a good bit of it does seem geared toward helping out traditionally published authors who have had to move to self-publishing or are thinking about it, there's also a lot of good advice in it period, for any author. 

It IS a little bit of an older book, so there are some things in here that I consider a little out of date (mostly about marketing) but there's SO MUCH MORE. In fact, I already know I'm going to need to re-read some of the essays, especially those dealing with the business side of things because this book is PACKED with information. There's also a lot of good information in there for people who are considering going the opposite route - from indie to traditional publisher. 

These are voices of experience recounting their experiences and it would be a mistake to pass it by just because the first essay seems aimed toward a specific subset of authors. 


Author Unleased: Advanced Marketing and Publishing Strategies for Indie Authors - This one is at the end because he's not kidding about it being a little more advanced. On the other hand, are there things newbie authors could learn from it? Absolutely. But a lot of it will probably make more sense if you've been through some of it already and are coming from a place of knowledge. 

Fantastic breakdown how to really get your mindset focused on advice that will help you, about figuring out whose advice to trust, and always questioning why you should do or not do a certain thing. In a lot of ways I felt like this was a great companion novel to Becca Symes' books (Question the Premise!). It's available on Kindle Unlimited, which makes it an easy read for anyone with KU, and while I don't agree with every single thing he says in it, I do think there's some really fantastic advice and I ended up buying the book after reading it so I'll have it on hand for future re-reads.


Bookbub Ads Expert: A Marketing Guide to Author Discovery - Finally back to David Gaughran! Why is this at the end? Because you really need to get everything else in place first. Ads are for when you have time and money to play around with, and Bookbub ads are especially like that. 

His method requires some money for running a bunch of tests at the beginning and it adds up fast. And you can't skimp on the testing. Or, well, you can but you shouldn't. I was shocked to find out how much of his advice lined up exactly with my tests - including the part about comp authors who worked for other platforms not working at all for my Bookbub ads, authors who should have been perfect getting horrific CTR, and authors whom I'd almost didn't even test ending up being some of my best ones (I could weep thinking about all the money I wasted on Bookbub before reading this book). It is such an odd platform and the testing is a MUST for making it worth while, but it also means spending money to get those test results. 

But I am also feeling more secure than ever with Bookbub, I'm getting the best CTR I've ever gotten with it, and during a month when I ran no Facebook ads at all, I also saw no impact to my sales. 

I also definitely recommend watching his YouTube video on how to design a Bookbub ad (for free!). His suggestions for what to do with the ad design has consistently been the top ad every time I've run a test. 


I'm not done yet but those are the books I've actually finished. Here are the books I still have to read and I will be adding them to the above list in my recommended reading order as I finish them (they will not necessarily be read in the order I have listed below, in fact they probably won't be, I read depending on my mood) - 

Romance Tropes and Hooks by Karen Winter

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Dungeons and Doms Cover Reveal!

This is a first for me - I've never been able to come right out the gate with a full series of covers before =) 

 When I was done writing Logan, I remember looking over the manuscript and shaking my head because I'd meant for it to be a standalone but Gavin was such an interesting character that I had a feeling he'd need his own book. So I wasn't surprised when the first question I was asked - over and over - after Logan released was - 'Is Gavin getting his own book?' 

By pure serendipity, before Logan released I had been checking out the incredible silver fox Kevin R. Davis' pictures and he shared a photo with me (taken by the equally incredible Golden Czermack) that looked so exactly how I pictured Gavin in my head that I knew I had to not only write the book, but I needed him, specifically, on the cover of it. I bought the picture immediately and so when readers finished Logan and came asking about Gavin, I had my answer ready - YES.
In fact, by the time Logan released, I had more than just one book in my head, I had three. See, Gavin is a Dungeon Master in two senses of the word - he owns his own BDSM club, the Outlands, AND he's a Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master. 

I am an all around nerd, rather than a specialist. I have a little knowledge about a lot of nerdy things, though I don't delve too deeply into most of them (Though I still can't find anyone willing to play Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit with me... is it my fault that once I get my turn it's all over for everyone else? I didn't make the rules!). 

I am not a D&D expert, or even an advanced player, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for all the crossover puns and jokes when I was writing Logan, and I apparently can't do it now that I'm writing a series for the books either. I also can't resist the chance to play more D&D and call it 'research'!

Covers by Furious Fotog
Dungeon Master Photographer Furious Fotog, Model Kevin R. Davis
Dungeon Daddy Photographer Reggie Deaching, Model John Parrish
Dungeon Showdown Photographer Reggie Deaching, Model Tiara Daja'e

I am super excited for this series. It is going to be three books long because it's focusing on three couples, all of whom make up Gavin's D&D group (including him). Although, who knows - we all know I can't resist a good spin-off series, but at the moment this is all I have planned. 

Dungeon Master is already up for preorder - if you want to follow along with Dungeon Daddy and Dungeon Showdown's progress they are both already up on Goodreads =) 

And in the mean time have a Happy Thanksgiving or a wonderful rest of November, depending on where you are!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Freebie! - Forbidden Fantasy House is Free This Week!


In anticipation of Serving Her Sentence releasing next week, the Forbidden Fantasy House is free this week! They both have themes of consenting non-consent so I figured it was appropriate =) It's been so long since I released a solo Sinistre Ange book that I wanted to help remind people what they can expect. 

Forbidden Fantasy House is FREE today through Friday! -

Embarrassed by her fantasies, Elena can't admit what she needs to her boyfriend Lance. No matter how many ways he lights up her body with pleasure and pain, she just can't bring herself to share that much with him, and eventually their relationship crumbles under the strain.
In the aftermath of their breakup, Elena gathers the courage to visit the Forbidden Fantasy House where confessing her desires to a complete stranger is far easier than she imagines. And the House is more than happy to provide. But when Lance spots Elena in the one place he never expected to see her, he can't resist finding out exactly what it was his ex-girlfriend didn't trust him to give her.
As Lance investigates Elena's innermost secret, things at the House spin wildly out of control. And Elena, who is desperate to be taken hard and fast by a man who won't give in to her pleas to stop, has only one more choice to make before she no longer has any choices at all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Teaser: Serving Her Sentence

 It's been a while but I finally have a new Sinistre Ange book coming out! 

Scorching hot and chillingly dark. 
Serving Her Sentence arrives November 17th!  


Charged, convicted, Noelle chooses to be sold into servitude to reduce her prison sentence - she must spend one year with a Master she is not permitted to deny. With only the most basic laws to protect her, she will submit to his depraved demands and, in the process, dive deep into her own desires. And though Damien is cold and cruel, he satisfies her in ways she never knew she needed.

If she can make it to the end of her sentence, will she ever want to leave?