Posts Tagged ‘reader’

support-indie-ebooks

 

Despite what the title suggests it is almost impossible for indie authors to conjure an army of fans. Sure, it starts with writing a good book, but it doesn’t end there. The adage that the work is “never done” has never been more true than it is for an indie anything, not just authors.
I’ve been playing with an idea that I can’t quite form into a plan about how to bring readers and authors together. Often the most used ways of communication lack cohesion and an initial contact doesn’t always lead to a lasting relationship. The truth is there are too many other options out there.
Recently I’ve spoken to a number of newbie indie authors who are looking for advice and guidance. It’s surprising just how much knowledge one gains in such a short period of time. In this game you have to learn quick or you’ll find yourself alone and swimming against the current.
It doesn’t help that there are so many people offering author services who are inexperienced or lack the professionalism required to do good work for an author. You can throw all the money in the world at your book, but if you don’t throw it at the right person you’re just going to find yourself poorer and no better off.
We need to come together, to build a platform where new authors can be helped along by more experienced authors and readers need to be a part of that process. If a reader knew just how much time and effort went into not only writing a book but trying to get people to notice it, then I think we would begin to see a movement of readers towards a more committed behaviour.
And newly published writers who work with practised writers would immediately have access to the gathering of readers that followed the latter.
Maybe I’m dreaming of a utopia that will never exist. But I refuse to believe that the knowledge built by one should not be utilised by those who come after.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Love of darkness and light…

4030784_2010_340

Books aren’t meant to be a true depiction of real life. Rather, romance novels aren’t meant to be a true depiction. We’d all love it if they they were, if we were all to find our very own alpha who would walk through fire and hell for us, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.
The fiction that we read is an escape from our lives, from the hussle and bussle of mundane routines that tend to fill our days.
Yet, so many readers note unrealistic moments in our novels as negatives. It depends on the genre, of course, as to how far from the straight and narrow you can roam, but there has to be some element of the fantastic or else the story just wouldn’t hold our interest.
Which leads me to sex, bit of a jump? Need more explanation? Yeah, probably, ok… whether our main couple have a long term relationship, a history, or are new acquaintences, there has to be some sex in our romantic fiction. But does it have to be realistic?
Gone are the days of one foot on the floor at all times. Readers want explicit, they want details, and they want those moments to stick in their memories. So there has to be some tension, some teasing, a few hints, and more than a little flirtation, then we have the act itself.
But with so many books out there now trying to achieve success, the intimate scenes become more and more outrageous until we know not where we can go next.
In books, our h always achieves orgasm, often several times, and our male is always dedicated to her pleasure. Bear in mind, I am talking about the “romance” genre here and not so much erotica, where the rules can be much different. Though in saying that, the line between the two genres blurs frequently, so I perhaps shouldn’t talk in absolutes.
My next book has less of the physical act than the previous two in the series, but it’s still in there. We see more of our main characters connecting and the intimacy that has built between them beyond the physical.
But is it enough? Readers have come to expect a certain thing of romance books. I have been marked up and down stars by reviewers in the range of my books based on sexual content alone. The balance is becoming increasingly difficult to get right.
The sex doesn’t have to be realistic, apparently, few have issues with whether or not a sexual connection can be made early, although we know that instalove is a big no-no. I speculate on the future of romance novels and wonder if exploring emotional intimacy will be accepted by readers in the future or whether there will be even more emphasis on the physical aspects of our characters relationship.
Will we ever return to a time when an “I love you” on the final page will be satisfying enough? I doubt it.
But our books have evolved and they’ll keep evolving as the writers and readers progress and tastes through society change. There is one thing we know for sure, as long as females remain the number one purchaser of romance novels the coveted climax will remain front and centre 😉

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

putting-puzzle-pieces-together

So it turns out that there’s an issue for indies that few people talk about. Here it is: there’s a difference between folks buying your book and actually reading it.
Obviously the fact that people buy your novel is a great compliment and that’s not something to be sniffed at. But we all have such busy lives and such long TBR lists that it’s impossible to imagine ever reaching the end of them, which means there’s a possibility that those readers will never read your book!
I too have a TBR list that makes my eyes water. When I look through my TBR list I get excited by all of the tales there ready, just waiting to be absorbed into my being. I know that I’ll love some of them and loathe others. I know some will inspire me in my own writing and others will inspire me on how not to write. But it’s thrilling to know that all of those stories and characters are there for me, waiting until I am ready… well the paperbacks anyway. I suppose Amazon can do what it likes with the Kindle reads :p
But how to choose, how to choose… deciding on what to read comes down to a number of factors for me. Though I’ve learned my factors often aren’t the same as others. I choose to read books that are unrelated (entirely) to anything I might be working on with my own writing at that moment. Sometimes that means a different genre or time period, other times it’s just a different location or setup. The worst thing about the TBR decision is the amount of time it takes to pick something to read. Think of all the words we could be experiencing in those minutes it takes us to make a decision.
Often when I’m trawling my TBR list I’ll go back to product pages to re-read descriptions or reviews, which can then lead me to other work by that author (or other authors) and often I’ll find myself increasing the length of my TBR list! Ahh!
I don’t take part in reading challenges because I face so many time challenges with my writing that I wouldn’t want to embroil myself in more. But I do admire those that do. It must be electrifying to have that goal and to be working towards completing a reading mission.
But, back to the original point… Indies spend an awful lot of time and energy writing books, we know this. They spend an awful lot of time and energy promoting books, we know this, too. But it turns out that there’s another hurdle we are completely powerless to overcome.
So how do we put the pieces together? How do we connect the reader to the novel? The answer is, we don’t. There’s such a thing as free will and we all have to accept that there comes a point where fate decides. You can’t force someone to do something which they do not want to do. You can try to make your work as interesting and enticing as you can and then after that, the Gods decide… or rather the reader does – haven’t I previously mentioned that you’re all-powerful? :p
A writer can do only one thing. Keep writing. Your book may languish for years in the e-reader of a potential five star reviewer, but there’s no way to know who that is. Push someone too hard and you’re more likely to find yourself at the one star end. Yes, it’s frustrating, and yes, it’s disheartening to know that your work is lying there unabsorbed. But when there are so many writing and publishing factors that you can influence this is not one to get stuck on.
Still, I make an appeal to all readers. Set a number, three or four, maybe ten or twelve, but pick a number of books to read on your TBR and vow to read that many at the start of each month before you buy any new books. Just think, your next favourite novel could have been on that TBR list all along waiting for you, it’s time to venture forth and discover it!

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

anime-reaching-out-cc-371690

One of the most difficult parts of being an indie writer is engaging with readers. The difficulty comes not in getting the information of your work out there but in making the reader feel valued enough to understand that they are a part of the adventure.
Every single person who purchases a book has made a decision that effects the life of another. Without realising it you have made the day of the author. In fact, let me correct myself, you don’t even have to purchase the book, you can borrow it through schemes like KU and KOLL or even from the library. Every book you read is the product of hours of toil on the part of the author. Whether you enjoy the book or not, your initial decision to take the risk and use your time to absorb those words placed together by the author is honouring that writer.
Now I’m not here to suck up, oh no. I mean yes, readers should be revered and valued, we should treat them as precious jewels shining a bright light for others to see that may perhaps beckon others to the novel that reader has enjoyed. But they’re also terrifying. Readers hold a tremendous amount of power because love it or loathe it, you can help to make or break the destiny of a novel, or indeed a writer.
But we have to reach out. Writers have to have faith in their readership and trust that they will engage and embrace the worlds and characters we create.
To help my readers connect with each other and with me there is now a group on Goodreads dedicated to discussing books I have written and characters I have created. It’s a new space and so the endeavour is still burgeoning but the goal will be to bring all of the information on my work into one place for others to discover and discuss it.
I have to stress that while I write the words and bind them together into a narrative, the worlds and people in those books are a part of you as well. Not one of them is solely mine and I cannot tell you how to feel about any character or situation. I may wish for you to experience them in a certain way but each person who reads one of my books will have a different adventure. We place a part of ourselves in these novels and your own life knowledge will alter your view of these scenarios. I think it’s great.
So I want everyone to get involved in this new group and everyone to share their views and experiences of the novels I have written. We all have more to learn in life and sharing knowledge is one of the greatest gifts any of us can bestow. So click here or on the picture at the top of this post and come along to get involved.
Explicit Detail will be released in nine days and there is a chance to win an advance copy of the novel at the group. But even if you choose not to join I would like to take this time to say thank you. Thank you for reading and long may your love for it continue.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

passionate-kiss-2

Sex for the sake of sex is great in real life. Why not go for it just because you can? It’s fun and man it feels good… if you’re doing it right :p
In novels, however, it’s important that sex scenes serve some kind of purpose. The trick is, of course, ensuring that the joining still feels spontaneous and is enjoyed by all parties without spelling out the specifics of what the reader will learn from this particular scene.
So what kind of purpose? I hear you ask. “Isn’t sex simple supposed to titillate?” Well yes, it is, it’s supposed to illicit a carnal reaction from the reader. You should feel yourself a little warmer inside, and maybe a little naughtier too. But sex scene after sex scene without there being a greater purpose will fail to advance the story, which is what a romantic fiction novel should be all about – the narrative.
There’s no single purpose for sex in books. It’s not only about showing the physical progression of the relationship between characters. Sometimes it’s as much about the emotional advancement of that relationship too. In Explicit Instruction the reader can map the development of the sexual relationship between Flick and Rushe and see how that parallels the movement of their emotional connection. The sex is different and each experience between them reveals something else.
We can see how Rushe tries so desperately to keep Flick at a distance in the initial stages of their affair. We can see his rough and ready approach, and how he tries to treat Flick as just any other woman. But subtle changes are seen in each of their encounters until their affinity is undeniable.
Now it’s not simply enough for the writer to say, “Rushe wants to keep Flick at a distance and that is why he is so harsh with her…” Then progress at the end to, “Rushe has given up the fight and now realises that this dynamic, refreshing woman has wormed her way into his affections.” The writer must give the reader enough hints, enough small pieces of evidence, to link so that they can put the pieces together for themselves.
The great thing about writing Explicit Detail was further exploring that development between our main couple. The dirty talk and rough sex still exists but it’s there for a different reason now. It’s no longer about Rushe trying to push Flick away, it’s about them optimising the  pleasure of their partner. Playing together, keeping the variety alive while reminding each other of that undiluted passion they still feel for each other.
Some readers will no doubt disagree about the use or purpose of sex, some may even disagree with Rushe’s methods. But the sex is crucial to both books. Trust builds between them, and because of the nature of the sex that they have, that trust is intensified.
Rushe insists on consent but can be brutish. Flick has to trust him, she has to know that if he approaches her boundaries he will desist. She does trust him, because he always will. Being savage in bed, especially when he is overcome with want for her, is extremely arousing for Flick. She sees through his attempts to keep her at a distance and that teaches her more about this man. Just as her refusal to be deterred shows Rushe how determined, and committed she is to being at his side, thus, how she cares for him.
Flick isn’t going anywhere no matter how he pushes and Rushe only falls deeper when he begins to understand that she is truly accepting of who he is, primitive ways and all, she doesn’t want him to change, but she does want him.
There are many other uses for sex in books, sometimes it’s about gathering or showing information of a more material kind. It can serve a practical purpose, or a procreative one. The uses are boundless, it can be manipulation, or motivation, greed, impulse. But we should always learn something about the story or about the characters during these scenes, the journey doesn’t stop because the characters are enjoying themselves, it should always keep on going.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

under-pressure

So for those of you who don’t know the sequel to Explicit Instruction is called Explicit Detail and it’s out in a few weeks. It’s release date is October 10th – four weeks tomorrow!
I loved writing Rushe and Flick in Explicit Instruction and I was overwhelmed by how well they were received. Readers really enjoyed their adventure together and the heat between them certainly raised some eyebrows. Going into Explicit Detail I was full of gusto, brimming with ideas, and desperate to get on with their next adventure.
The process of writing is arduous but it is fun, you have to enjoy it, you have to love it, or you’d never get to “The End”. But I got there with Explicit Detail and after rounds and rounds and rounds of edits, there it was, ready for pre-order. Exciting, right? Yes! Absolutely! There it is, it’s ready for the readers who enjoyed Rushe and Flick the first time around and for those who can discover them for the very first time.
You might ask that that why with all this positivity I labeled the blog “Sequel insanity”, so let me tell you why. I’ve written sequels for my novels before but never with the intention of them being published and enjoyed by the public, so this is a first for me. As release day creeps nearer and nearer, I am increasingly aware of reader expectation.
When publishing a new book, a standalone, there is always a level of apprehension about how it will be received by readers. But Explicit Detail is different. Readers have already had a positive experience with Rushe and Flick, they enjoyed Explicit Instruction, now they want more.
Writers will (or should) always strive to create the best product that they can to induce the most satisfying reader experience, it’s our job. Explicit Instruction was enjoyable to a great number of people, what if Explicit Detail doesn’t match that experience?
Explicit Detail sees our couple on a new adventure, quite unlike the first. There is still danger and plenty of dirty talk, but our couple are together now, giving the dynamic between them a slightly different feel – it’s important to allow them to progress as individuals and together.
Not knowing what readers expect yet trying to fulfill those expectations is tough. For the most part we write blind, crafting the best possible story that we can in the best possible way. You can ask all the questions that you want, and do all the research that you want, but at the end of the day the story must be woven by the writer. We have to engage with the readers. Rushe and Flick managed it the first time around, but can they do it again?

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

ONEFLAME

Today I pose a question to you all, what makes a bestselling author?
Note, I’m not asking what makes a bestselling book. Obviously there are a lot of factors required of a novel to make it fit into that category. But the question is, what makes the author a “bestseller”? A lot of novels out there claim to be written by bestselling authors and I wonder – did the author dub themselves that? If so, what makes it true? We wouldn’t want to dupe our readers but there must be a barometer for this, surely?
Now, it may be enough to say that if your novels have sold in decent numbers then that makes you a bestseller. But what is a decent number?
Maybe it’s about sales ranking. I’ve had a novel stick at number one for a few weeks, great, right? Absolutely, I was overjoyed. But that same novel didn’t make it to number one in every territory. Several of my novels have reached single digit rankings in their genres, great! Again, that’s not in every territory. Is it enough to reach the top ten in the US? Does that mean you’ve made it everywhere? What about the UK? Does that count? Which country doesn’t? Yet, if I reached number one in a smaller country, could I still dub myself a “bestseller”?
The answer is that to be considered a bestselling author, by Amazon terms, you have to reach the top three hundred in overall sales on Amazon.com. Though I see books out there who have reached this marker whose authors do not claim to be bestsellers. I also see books that I know have not made this milestone who do claim to be bestsellers.
This would lead me to the next question, would stating “bestselling author” on the cover actually sell more books? What’s to stop us all doing it, I doubt every reader would go out and check your historical rankings but if they did and found out that you hadn’t reached number one in their country would they feel conned?
I suppose being a “bestselling author” isn’t necessarily the same thing as being a “number one bestselling author”, is it? But short of listing your highest sales ranking on covers, which would have to be individually designed for each territory, how can we ensure not to oversell ourselves?
Maybe stating on the cover that you were a “bestseller” would sell more. Alternatively, it could mean that your work is read with a more critical eye, that the reader will have higher expectations, thus if you don’t meet those you could disappoint your reader. That brings us back full circle to creating a bestselling book.
Is titling yourself as a “bestseller” an act of arrogance? Or are we merely giving readers more information?

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

thankyou

We all spend so much time thinking about what is not done, “You didn’t take out the trash,” “you forgot to buy milk…” etc. that we so often fail to notice the things that are done.
Taking things for granted in life is something we have all been guilty of. That’s why so often praise or gratitude is surprising, quite often if people show me gratitude for something I think it’s the start of a joke :p
Don’t for a second think that I’m going to start singing about appreciating the warmth of the sun on your face and the sweet, delicate melody of the birds chirpring in the trees. By all means appreciate those things, you should. But today I want to think about appreciating the other humans around us.
Now I know it’s easy to get mad at the kids, and at your husband when he didn’t “hear” you tell him about the neighbour’s dinner party. You should get mad, I’m sure they deserve your wrath 🙂 But we are nothing alone. Our family and our friends are what propel us forward. Our ambition determines how high we aim. But at the end of the day everyone needs help to achieve lofty goals.
So thank you. That’s really the aim and simplicity of this blog. Every single person who reads this is doing me a kindness. Every person who reads my books, love or loathe, review or not, you’re all doing something nice for me.
I have to show my gratitude to you all. If I could thank every person who bought my book, or read my comments on social media, then I would. But I think I would come off as a bit creepy if I started following all you guys around.
So I want to take this chance, on this platform, to thank you all for having faith enough to take a risk and read my work. All of you are valuable to me, and if I could show you my gratitude personally I would… in a completely non kinky way, promise, lol.
So often we hear about authors, of all varieties, and we hear of publishers, and of distributors, so often the reader is overlooked. There is no industry without you guys. Would it matter if half the writers out there stopped writing? Not as much as if half the readers suddenly stopped reading. You have to be respected by authors, all of you, by every part of the machine. Don’t underestimate your power. By sheer will alone you have the power to change the market. Pick a book you love and tell everyone you know, they tell everyone they know, and suddenly this little pile of words that spoke to you has taken the world by storm. That is the power you have.
Writers shouldn’t be revered, yes, they should be respected for the hard work and perseverance that it takes to produce the goods because it is a long journey. But that journey has no destination without the reading community. Yes, writers are readers, they have to be, there’s absolutely no equivocation on that, but we’re not the most important ones.
The most important person in a writer’s world is… you. Not the guy next to you, not the guy running the country, not even the distributors and publishers who are slugging it out. Let them have their war. This is about you. I have to connect to you. I have to work hard, for you. No one else. I don’t do it because I think I’m going to tempt a million readers. I want to connect with you. I want my words to affect your life, even if only for a few seconds. I want them to provoke a reaction. I want your heart to beat faster, or I want it to spasm with sorrow. I want you to laugh. I want you to cry. I want you to care.
My characters don’t belong to me. They are yours, they are what is in your heart, and in your head. They are what you want them to be. All I do is assemble thoughts and scenarios, the emotion is yours, it’s in you, you make the story what it is.
So thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for reading. Thank you for infusing my stories with sensation. Your wonderful mind processes the words I put together and causes that sentiment to your senses. You see it, you feel it. You are the story. It is for you. You have my eternal gratitude.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

afirebook

 

Every author knows, or should know, that word of mouth is crucial to book sales. It’s crucial in all areas of sales, for any product or service, but it’s not easy to encourage. You can’t make it happen.
Most readers would assess the activity as a hobby. Very few readers would consider reading a passion to the point of addiction. Each group is as important as the other. Getting people talking about your work is the only thing that will spread interest to the point of great success.
So how do we address it? In my experience, we don’t. Though, I do think it’s a shame that so many readers don’t understand the power they wield. If you tell one friend about a book that you enjoyed, and ask them to tell them a friend if they enjoy it, and so on, pretty soon a wildfire will grow and you alone will have started a trend. You will have picked out the next success. You, the readers, can give great reach to a once unknown novel or author.
But, and this is a big but, readers are just as influential the other way. So authors must always remember that the reader is always right. If you try too hard to make conversations happen then you’re only likely to upset your audience.
I do think that if casual readers took more time discussing the books that they enjoyed there would be a more varied traditional market. In this time of austerity few big publishers are taking risks on lesser known authors or novels.
I don’t claim for one second to hold all the answers. No one can. But I do have concerns, as many do, about the state of the publishing industry at the moment. Almost every author you speak to will concede that there needs to be reformation of the way the big publishers, and retailers, do business. The trouble is, and please bear in mind that we’re a creative bunch, no one has come up with the solution.
My concern isn’t with regards to my writing career. Oddly enough I feel relatively secure as an indie knowing that I can control my process and output. But for all this talk of what colossal Governmental debt we’re leaving for our children, what a polluted and empty planet we are passing on to our grandchildren, can’t we at least secure their recreational needs? How can parents educate children on the pleasure of reading when all anyone wants is the latest gadget and the most explosive video game?
I’ve heard a lot of talk, especially recently, of how we need to change our political process, of how we need to be more willing to pull together to fix the problem instead of spending so much time in opposition, blaming each other for the issues. There are times when I feel the same way about industry, and about the publishing industry specifically.
Is it just because they can shout the loudest? Or because their pulpit is the highest? So many aspire to be taken on, to be under the wing of this protective dragon, who is out there to take on the world for us while we cower quietly in the folds of its wing, igniting our passion, so they can let it flourish.
They’re not out to protect us. No one is out to protect you. We live in a world where if you want something you have to go and get it for yourself. Don’t ever expect your dream to come true by sitting back and staring into the clouds. The world is beautiful. We have so much as individuals and as a society to give. So why do we spend so much time in opposition to each other?
There is no black and white. There are only shades of grey. So why can’t we accept that not everything is a matter of right or wrong? Not everything is as clear as good or bad? That cool and uncool are relative terms?
Life is filled with big decisions. Life is filled with difficult decisions. One day you may wake up and regret one of them. One decision can change everything about your life. It can change who you are. It can change who you become.
I always try to be as honest as I can, I share my opinions, but I try not to get too personal. Every single person reading this has a story. It’s a story in your heart. A story of your ideals. A story that maps the course from where you were to where you are. I can almost guarantee that when you reflect upon that story it won’t be the one you thought you’d be telling.
Are we who we thought we would be? When you were a child, or an adolescent, full of hope and imagination, what did you dream of?
It’s important to know, when you think of your former self, that you’re still there. That fire never went away. Your life might not be what you thought it would be. But the passion doesn’t have to leave you. The only tragedy would be containing that fire and not sharing it with the world.
So tomorrow, or today, tell your story… ok, maybe not all at once, but share something. Look into the eyes of another person and share your fire, then ask them to share their fire with you. Together we are powerful, we can move the lives of others. We can influence the future through our children. Standing in opposition should not be our default stance. Reach out.
Don’t let the fire die out, let it burn. Smile at the sky and remember that tomorrow is another page of your story, ready, open to be written. You will fill that white, blank page, and it will remain with you forever. Don’t forget to share it.

 

Good luck on your adventures,

 

xSx

Snoopy

First, and quite randomly, I found out today that Explicit Instruction is being illegally pirated through torrent sites. After an initial panic and a Google search I learned that I should take this as a compliment. Hmm. Since there is nothing I can do about it, I suppose I’ll have to look at it that way. It is weird to have zero control over something I created but hey, that’s life these days.
I’ve started writing rush as rushe in my every day life. I can’t tell you how many times I have to correct myself. A lot of typos are so easily caught because the word doesn’t look right. Trouble is, Rushe is right to me, so I have to pause, go back and check. Other people won’t get it, but I do find myself wondering if there will ever be a time I’ll be able to spell rush correctly again, if I’ll every look at “Rushe” as wrong. It’s even funnier because last night I was writing (longhand, notebook and pen) and I wrote “Ryder” instead of “Rushe”. So it turns out I can’t spell “Rushe” right either. I laughed of course, but I don’t think Lacie or Flick, respectively, would have found it so funny.
I made myself cry today. A lot of writers will tell you that a good story writes itself, I can’t tell you how true that is. It’s not unusual for me to get caught up in the adrenaline-fueled moments of action. My heart rate increases, I write faster, and I’m genuinely as hopeful as the reader that this will all turn out ok in the end. But from the anger and arousal and the laughter, the one I love best is the crying.
It tickles me the most because it strikes me as so ironic. In our lives, we’ll do anything to keep those we love safe. We try our best to minimise tears of sadness by avoiding situations that will cause them.
But as a writer I’m putting people I care about (my characters) into a situation that distresses them, and by extension, me, and getting myself upset about it. I’m (in my head obviously) shouting, “No, Rushe! Don’t do it!” But my fingers must work independently of that part of my brain because they’re typing away faster and faster, and yes, the bastard does it anyway. It’s weird, isn’t it? Or is it just me?
I’m upset, I’m crying, but I’m making them go through this horribly traumatising event – and loving it! I must be a masochist at heart. Like the writing/typing until I have blisters didn’t give that away to begin with.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx