Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Fear as a writer…

Good morning! Hope all is well with everyone as we start this Thursday morning or afternoon, wherever you wonderful people are 😉

Fear, everyone has felt fear at one time or the other. Don’t lie, you know you have. As a child, we had fear of strangers and storms. As adults, we have many fears. Maybe we fear financial issues, for our children, the future… etc. There are a lot of fears in this world, but I want to talk about the fear as a writer.

The moment I hit submit on Ghost Lover, the first book I published in May 2012, I was sweating. My palms were damp, my heart was racing, in easy terms, I was a mess. What if nobody likes my writing? What if this is a mistake? What if… What if… What if… Then the emails started coming from readers that fell in love with Jared and Jessie. The fear was alleviated for a moment, then came the next book and the next.

Does my fear ease with each book I publish? Some, but not completely. I’m always afraid of the unknown. Even though my books are poured over and over with edits and rewrites and such, I still have that fear that I’m sending out my work with flaws. Even the best-edited book has flaws and I have to remind myself of that. My fans are so precious and let me know every day the pleasure they get from the words I put on the page, but still, I feel like I could’ve added more to the story, went over it one more time, or even changed something.

Then there’s the fear of not selling a single book, yikes…. Yes, that’s a fear. In January, my sales went on a downward spiral and I had to catch my breath. After an amazing end of 2016, it was like a kick in the gut. But, as I sought out other authors to see if it was happening to them, they confirmed that they too were seeing a sharp decline in sales. Even the authors that normally sell thousands of copies a month were down to hundreds. Although that should make me feel better, it only made my fear worse. Had people stopped reading? LOL! Yes, it was an irrational fear, but it still came through this ditsy blonde head.

Then, the sales started to rise. Yes, my fear was going away, but then a new fear arose. Could I do more to keep that from happening again? The truth is, no. We can’t control what people do or trends, so, I picked myself up off the pity floor and moved forward.

So, as a writer, what do you fear?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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The Free Book Debate…

Good morning! Hope all is well with you on this beautiful morning. Georgia is having a beautiful day today, but the weather will be here for Thursday and Friday, so we need to enjoy today and tomorrow!

As for today’s topic, it’s permafree books. There’s much controversy about this strategy. Most authors split the fence on this topic. I’ve played with it periodically through the years, but my newest try at it has been a success. Why do I say that, you might ask? Well, here’s why…

Do you see the number just above this sentence? That’s where Ridge is at the moment. Since I put it on permafree several weeks ago, it has stayed in the top 100 in this category and notice it’s not the free category. You’re probably saying, ‘but it’s free so you’re making nothing on all those downloads’, well that’s true, but here’s why it’s a good thing.

The week that Ridge went free, there wasn’t a lot of change in sales. But the next week and all the ones to follow showed a huge difference in my sales. suddenly it was like I could follow the readers journey. Each book in this series started selling in order of the series, then my other books started in the same way. It’s like the readers are buying the Five Oaks Series, then working their way through each of my series. Kind of like watching dominoes fall in a row. I’ve also started selling my older published books, which a couple of them had to be dusted off from sitting on Amazon so long 😉

SO, I’d say my trial period worked. Ridge will stay free. My suggestion is to wait until you have a couple of books in your series out before you go free with the first one. That way the reader has a direction to go in. Then sit back and watch it do the work for you. It’s like free advertising!

Have you tried this? How did it work for you?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Promote or not to promote…that’s the question!

Good morning! I do hope all of you are staying warm. As for me I’m sitting beside the fire wrapped in a blanket. It’s only 12 degrees here in my part of Georgia which is not funny for this southern girl. It’s a beautiful day outside from the bright sunshine, but then you step outside and it hits you like a ice wall. Not even going there!

On to my post for the day… How do you promote your book? Or do you even do any promoting? For me I do promote when I can. Some authors say that they can’t afford to do a lot of promoting, but I have some good news. You can do some really good promotions for free. Yes I said FREE!

Here are some of my favorite free promotional places:

1: You are looking at the first place. Your blog is an excellent place to promote your book. But be careful, don’t overdo it. Sprinkle in promotional posts here and there, but make sure to keep it light. I’ve seen some really good results from it. You can set up a blog for free and make sure to assign a page for your books within your blog setup.

2: Twitter is an excellent place to promote, but as I’ve said above don’t overdo it. I tried an experiment with Twitter and it went really well. A couple of days I didn’t post anything about my books and my sales were normal, but then for a couple of days I sprinkled in some tweets directly from my book pages on Amazon, Smashwords and some of my other book pages. It helped my sales. I actually sold extra books on those days and the trend went that way for days afterwords and then back down to normal. If you spread out your book tweets to several hours apart and use hash tags such as #amwriting #amreading and #ebooks you’ll see some great results.

3: Facebook is another great place. As with any other promotions don’t overdo it. Make sure you have a separate page for your books because your friends my not enjoy seeing your posts repeatedly. I have a couple of different pages for my books and series. That way it keeps them sparse. Make it interesting…

4: Do a press release. I use PRlog.com and it’s really easy to set up. When I have a new release I set up a powerful press release with tags, then you can share it almost anywhere straight from the release page.

5: Your website. You may be saying ‘but you have to pay for a website’. Well actually there are several free places to set up websites, but keep in mind these free websites can be limited. They are still a great place to tag your books.

These are only 5 of the many free sites where you can promote your book. I hope these help out. My publishing service Horseshoe Publishing can help you for minimal costs to set up any of the above options. But if you’re computer savvy then you should be able to do these fairly well.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Monday morning…back to normal…probably not…

I’ll just say this morning it was hard to get up with an alarm clock. Since my son has been out on Christmas break for two weeks I definitely got spoiled. But after I’ve been up for a little while I’m getting back in the groove. Now back to a normal schedule which feels refreshing.

Things always look clearer after a holiday, well mostly… Today I’m working on goals and release dates for the year. My year will consist of four cowboys and a cowgirl. My new series ‘Five Oaks Ranch’ will start releasing February 14th and continue throughout the year, ending with Maggie’s story near Christmas. It’s refreshing to know where you’re headed and what you’re working on. Of course you know me, I’ll have other books sprinkled in, but this series will be my 2015 spotlight.

With the release of Ridge coming up really quickly, I’m waiting on the date to be announced for my upcoming book signing. That’s exciting in itself and to be premiering Ridge at the same time, well that’s just icing on the cake. My paperbacks will be installed on the store shelves at that time also, which makes me just giddy.

As for normalcy, well that’s not in the cards for me. I’m a writer and we’re just not normal. I mean think about it, we sit and write stories that flow through our head. A lot of these stories are gained from people watching. Nobody is safe around a writer.

So,what are your goals for 2015? Are you getting back to normal today, or have you decided to take one more day off?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Print books, Ebooks, and Audio books, which way do I go?

Writers have a lot of decisions to make. The process does not stop when you type ‘The End’. You have to decide how you will publish your work. Are you going to self publish or send it to a traditional publisher. Then if you decide to self publish you have to decide if it’s going to be an Ebook only or will you be doing a print book also. 

When you decide to do a print book it’s a process. With an Ebook you have just a front cover to design, but when you do a print book it’s a whole new design ball game. This process is a little more complex. You have to get your page count and then figure the size of the cover including front, back, and end. If you’re off very much the cover will roll to the back or front, bleeding over. Yep, been there. It’s a decision you need to make sure you’re ready for.

Then of course you have to decide who you’re going to print through. I use CreateSpace powered through Amazon. They’re easy to work with and using Expanded Distribution by print books go out to larger distributors and book stores online. I’ve set up an account with Lightning Source but only have my Ebooks listed right now with them.They have a hefty setup fee that I’m having to decide if I want to do right now. 

Another decision is the type of cover and paper color. The first run I did was a learning experience. I did the white paper and didn’t like it as much as the cream colored paper. The white paper has a different feel. Of course all of mine are paperback, but you can do a hardback. Also you can do matte finish now on the cover. Decisions, Decisions…

The publishing process is a many faceted thing. You don’t just write the book and step away. Well you can, but you’re not going anywhere if you do that. As for me I choose to go all the way. I have my books in print and Ebook.

Oh and there’s another side to publishing. Audio books… I took the leap into audio books back in the summer. It’s a new type of process. I’ve enjoyed meeting the narrators of the books. It’s fun to listen to someone read your book. I use ACX with is through Amazon also. They’re easy to use. Just set up an account and download your book. Then start listening to excerpts from various narrators. When you find one you like send them a message asking them to audition for your book. Once you get a couple of auditions then pick one and go with it. You can make pretty good on audible books.

So are you ready to publish that work. Sure you are. Just take the step forward and go for it. If you need any help just check out the link at the top of my site, Horseshoe Publishing. We’re here to help with the process. 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…


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Where do I put my books?

As a writer I’ve learned a lot about marketing and where books sell and don’t. Before I published my first book I had never heard of many of these sites. As just a reader I was aware of Amazon and Barnes & Nobles and places like that. Now that I’ve done research it’s amazing how many are out there.

Here are some of the places I’ve found and how I’ve done with these.

E-book Sites:

1: Amazon: This was the first place I put my books. The first two I actually put in under KDP Select which for me was a mistake. For some KDP Select works, but it just didn’t work for me. It limits where you can put your work. As for Amazon it’s gone pretty well. They make it so easy to put your books on their site and it’s highly recognized.

2: Smashwords.com: This site was not known to me until an author friend suggested it. Now I’ve seen a lot of information on it. It’s been one of my best selling sites. Through their program my books are put on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, Apple, Baker & Taylor and Library Direct. It’s a easy site to put your book on. You get an author page and they make it easy to advertise.

3: Google Play: This site to me wasn’t easy to use. I have several of my books on this site, but they really don’t sale good. It’s really difficult to put your books on it. Others might find this site helpful, but it wasn’t for me. 

4: Allromancebooks.com: This site is really cool. It’s as the name says for romance books. It’s an easy site to work with. My sales have been fairly decent on this site. But of course they haven’t been on there but a couple of months.

5: Lightning Source: This is a great site with a lot of professional opportunities. It’s fairly easy to put your books on and a lot of more professional sites look at these books more.

Printed Books

1: CreateSpace: This is a print on demand site. I have all my books on this site for print and the sales go through Amazon. The site is easy to use and if you pay for the Expanded Distribution then it goes to several wholesalers all over the world.

2: Lightning Source: I’ve just signed a contract with them. This is the first professional printer that I’ve signed with. I’m really excited about using them and Barnes & Noble highly recommended this site to me. This is the site most of the big publishing houses pull from.

As I say, this is just a couple of the sites where my books are at and the experiences I’ve had. But of course everyone has different experiences and this is only my opinion.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…