Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Collections #2 - Decisions have to be made? #cat-fight? #NYTimes

***Here's how Summer Fire made it to #13 on #NYTimes. It’s complicatingly simple. We worked our fannies off!! Maybe not everyone—all of the time—but we all kicked in some of the time. And with 20 authors making the effort, it worked.

2.  Decisions – should be made by the person in charge as to how many people they want to have as a part of the group. What type of a collection it will be – full-length books versus novellas or even short stories – and which genre. And…another important option is whether all the books should be brand new or already published work.

One of the positives about being a part of a group with an organizer is that a lot of the decisions have already been made. I liked that our lady knew how many people she wanted as a part of the collection. And when I first understood there were to be 21, I have to admit to being shocked. I thought the number unmanageable, and hard to control. But I was wrong. Having that many people just meant that we had a lot more influence in the social media arena. And since most of us were professional and had previous experience in collections, we understood our roles. 

On the other hand, she had to make sure that all 21 novellas were submitted in sufficient time for formatting. Unfortunately, one of the authors wasn’t able to make the deadline which meant a huge amount of work for the boss. It was now up to her to get the cover changed, make sure the existing memes were replaced everywhere and the book blurb rewritten for all the book descriptions on all the different venues, etc. But it was handled and the rest of us weren’t really affected too much. On the other hand, the boss suffered through this whole situation - bigtime!!

Another decision I admit to feeling relieved about was the book cover. I’m sure a few of the first girls involved in the set had some input, but by the time I had signed on, it was a go. And I was utterly relieved not to have to deal with the numerous e-mails dealing with this controversial issue. Trust me, authors can get very picky about a book’s cover - everyone has visions of what they like and it’s often difficult to get each person on board.

It had also been decided that only new novellas were to be used. Yes!!! I totally agreed that that would be a huge selling point. Another issue they had set in place was the genre. Truthfully, I didn’t understand that the book was to be as “hot” as it was. I had thought it was to be basically a Contemporary Romance. But, in the end, many of the stories were spicier than I had expected and… that was fine with me. My sweet little romance would either be ignored by the lovers of steam, or if read, might find me a few new readers who enjoy a character-driven plot with some sexual overtures but a closed bedroom door. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting more people to like your voice and want to read your work.

Once I had joined the group, I pretty well knew what was expected of me, the dates I needed to meet with my submission were set and there was someone in place to make sure it would all happen as planned. The fewer decisions I had to be involved in was fine by me. Even so – we did have numerous votes on smaller issues and they went by majority. And… I always felt that if I had any suggestions, they’d be heard and taken into consideration.

Our organizer sent us all the marketing plan she’d come up with and a list of numerous events we’d all be expected to take part in – some of which I’d never heard of before. To say I was overwhelmed would be putting it mildly. To say I was enthusiastic – yeah! I was. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Box Collections #1 - How important is a skilled leader? #potential #NYTimes

***Here's how Summer Fire made it to #13 on #NYTimes. It’s complicatingly simple. We worked our fannies off!! Maybe not everyone—all of the time—but we all kicked in some of the time. And with 20 authors making the effort, it worked.

1. An organizer – who is not only savvy about organizing, but someone with a lot of energy and… who is willing to take on the bulk of the work. No matter how much you believe that everyone will pitch in and help, most of the group are only going add so much. They want to be led, told what to do, how and when. If you have a vision of how everything should work, you better be willing to either take charge yourself, because of your experience, or join with someone who has done this before and knows the ropes.  

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in six different collections and there’s one thing I’ve learned that is inarguable. No matter which group you join, to succeed, there has to be one person who takes the reins and makes the decisions.

In our first bride collection, Ten Brides for Ten Heroes, we managed to split the tasks such as designing the cover, formatting all the books, uploading to different venues, setting up promotions, twitter blast, Facebook page setup, organizing a cookbook and have one girl take charge of the bookkeeping. I’m sure there were a lot more chores but these were the main ones that I can remember.

Since it was the first time for most of us, we relied on the know-how of the experienced authors who had been involved in an earlier set. Thank goodness they had that knowledge or we’d never have been able to organize ourselves. This first bundle was a huge learning curve and I sucked the information up like a dry chamois.

If those girls hadn’t been so forthcoming and helpful, I have no doubt the group would have fallen apart. As it was, we didn’t hit any lists, but we did learn what we needed to do the next time to ensure it would happen.

Now challenged… most of us joined forces again to produce, Ten Christmas Brides. Everyone kind of fell back into theiold chores, and this was when I noticed that not everyone’s efforts were equal. No one said anything, the rest just pushed harder and this time our struggles paid off. We did make the USA Today List.

A few of us decided we also wanted to do a Valentine collection, so we found some different authors to fill in the empty spots and the same basic steps were set in play. Happily, we hit the USA Today, this time with Hearts & Kisses. Again, I noticed that some were more enthusiastic than others, worked harder—pushed more.

After that, I was accepted in the collection called Summer Fire. This time there were 20 authors involved and we had a skilled leader. Right off, I noticed the difference. She had rules. We were all expected to write a new novella, no exceptions. She had a cover ready so there were no on-going discussions about it taking up valuable time. There was a marketing plan in place, a budget set up and every one of us was expected pay up and to perform our parts. This lady knew what was needed for us to hit the New York Times and she fully intended for it to happen. Considering the rest of us were as hungry as she was, there was no problem getting the girls on board. 

Whether or not we all performed at the same level of energy on the daily social media grind is neither here nor there, but we were all required to complete a certain number of chores and weren’t really given any choice other than which day or what time. I have no doubt, that this expectation is what made us achieve the sales that we needed to succeed. 

And I have no doubt, it was because of the strong leadership that we maintained the necessary enthusiasm to continue performing as long as we did. That poor woman had her hands full - trust me. Twenty woman with opinions?? Dear Lord, I only hope her medications kicked in LOL!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dangerous Encounters Release Day! 13 Nerve-wracking thrills & heart-melting romances! #USAToday #NYTimes

Dangerous Encounters
by Nikki Lynn Barrett, Denise Moncrief, Jade Kerrion, 
Nancy & Nolan Radke, Stacy Eaton, Sharon Coady, 
Amy Manemann, Cathy Perkins, Chantel Rhondeau, 
Jacquie Biggar, Sylvie Grayson, Rachelle Ayala, 
and Mimi Barbour
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 23, 2015

Get your heartbeat racing with 13 romantic-suspense novels from USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors. Nerve-wracking thrills and dangers, heart-melting romance and love--enjoy them all in this outstanding collection of DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS....

Fallen Idol - Nikki Lynn Barrett
Sparks ignite between a single father and a singer making her musical comeback, but danger lurks in the distance, only getting closer as time goes on. For two people who want different things out of life, it's possible to find healing together...

Cross Examination - Denise Moncrief
Tamara Slay moves to Louisiana, hoping for a fresh start. An unexpected phone call from a Sheriff’s deputy in Florida shatters her new sense of security.

Lt. Martin Beck has been investigating the death of Brandy Fuller  for years. New evidence leads him to meet the estranged wife of his primary suspect. Together, Beck and Tamara conclude that her husband Scott murdered eight women on the Florida Gulf coast.

Carnival Tricks - Jade Kerrion
A fight during Sofia's waitressing shift turns fatal, and a dying scientist launches her into the shady world of scientific espionage. The unwilling trustee of research that people would kill to obtain, Sofia turns to the man who steps out of the shadows to protect her, even though he appears as dangerous and disreputable as the people who hunt her.Together, Sofia and Kyle must unravel the truth behind the illicit information she carries before one or both of them are killed.

Height of Danger - Nancy and Nolan Radke
Someone is killing construction workers at a Central American dam site, and CIA operative Owen Putman is sent in undercover to discover the who and why. The boss' lovely daughter picks this time to visit her father, and Owen kidnaps her to keep her safe. He finds himself juggling his mission, her safety, and his identity - and she manages to endanger them all.

Six Days of Memories - Stacy Eaton
When Detective Foster responds to the scene of a crash, she finds the female passenger dead, a bag full of money in the back seat and a body in the trunk. It is only when the driver, whom she nicknames Jay, wakes up with no memory that she must go with her instincts and continue the investigation in a way that was never taught in the academy.

Broken Lies, by Sharon Coady
After training with an Elitie unit of the Irish Special Forces, Niall is sent by his father to New York to be a bodyguard for Mr. Pierce. Abby is a woman with an abusive boyfriend and a painful past. She catches Niall's eye and he finds himself drawn to her.

Their lives change forever when they are drawn into a battle of deception, lies and murder. Can Niall keep her safe from whoever seems Hell bent of keeping them apart?

Don't Know Jack - Amy Manemann
Special Agent Jack Hamlin is a risk taker who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to bring criminals to justice. Until he meets small town bakery owner, Kate Monroe. Danger, white hot romance, and stress baking ensue as Kate is swept into Jack’s dangerous world—and Jack's loyalties and training are put to the test when his cover is blown, and Kate’s life is on the line.

Cypher - Cathy Perkins
When a hitman kills the wrong person, Detective David Morris confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family.

Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, Cara Wainwright rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.

Murderous Lies – Bestselling Author Chantel Rhondeau
Imprisoned for murder and exonerated after eight years, Max Kensington returns to his hometown. His return forces Rosemary Spelling, his ex-fiancée, to confront the past. The day Max allegedly killed her sister destroyed her life, ripping apart her family and landing her mother in a mental institution. When murders start again and all evidence points to Max, Rose must team up with him to catch her sister’s real killer.

Tidal Falls- Jacquie Biggar
Sara Reed is on the run from an abusive ex with ties to organized crime. Mistakenly thinking her and her daughter would be safer if she had some kind of leverage, she takes a copy of some valuable files. Files that make her a target.

Nick Kelley is an ex-marine trying to find his place now that his career is over due to injuries suffered from an IED. When the two of them meet in the pretty little town of Tidal Falls, the experience is explosive.

Suspended Animation - Sylvie Grayson
Katy Dalton worked hard and when her friend Bruno talked her into an investment in Rome Trucking, it seemed like a safe bet. But when her job disappears and she needs her money back, Bruno stops answering his phone and bad things start to happen.

The last thing Brett Rome wants to do is leave a promising career in hockey to come home and run his ailing father’s trucking company. What he discovers is not the successful business that he remembers, but one that is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and a young woman demanding the return of her money. But danger lurks in the form of Bruno's dubious associates. What secret are they hiding and why are they willing to kill Katy? Can Brett put this broken picture back together, and is Katy part of the solution or the problem?

Knowing Vera – Award-Winning Author Rachelle Ayala
Vera's dating Zach, casually, not committed, when she discovers her long-departed father is the killer of Zach's mother many years ago. Meanwhile, Zach reevaluates his life after losing his leg in a tragic accident and realizes he's falling in love with Vera.

Can their timing be so wrong? Vera and Zach must depend on each other for survival and find a dangerous killer before he can kill again.

Special Agent Francesca – USA Today Bestselling Author Mimi Barbour
Is action her thrill of choice - or his lips?

Violence, suspense and sizzling romance explode during Special Agent Francesca’s humorous journey, fighting off the mob! Dr. Sean Collins wants to tame her! Yeah-like that’s gonna happen. Only one thing keeps Francesca motivated. Proving to her mother, the FBI “Snow Queen,” that working undercover is where she belongs.

**B&N link will be available shortly

USA Today Bestselling author Nikki Lynn Barrett 
I'm an avid lover of books. I've been writing as far back as I can remember, completing my first "book" by fifth grade in one of those one subject spiral notebooks. I have a passion for music, photography, jewelry and all things creative. I live in Arizona with my husband and son, but dream of being somewhere much colder and stormier. For now, I'll have to live that life through my characters and stick it out with the summer heat.

Denise Moncrief is a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking.

Jade Kerrion writes award-winning and occasionally best-selling science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary novels anchored on unlikely romances you will root for and happy endings you can believe in. Her favorite romance is the Double Helix love triangle between Galahad—the lab-created perfect human being; Danyael—an alpha empath and Galahad’s physical template; and Zara—the woman who can wreak more havoc with love than most people can with hate. Visit her website for a free copy of Perfection Unleashed, the six-time award winning novel that launched the Double Helix series.

Nancy and Nolan Radke are a mother and son team who write individually, checking each other's books, and who have now collaborated on a mystery/thriller. Nancy draws upon a teaching background and Nolan has a law enforcement background and is now a building contractor.

Stacy Eaton is an International Best Selling Amazon author of eight books and a full-time detective who has a passion for putting the pieces together while investigating the crime. She is also a wife, mother, business owner and on the board of directors for her local domestic violence center. When she’s not ‘working’, she’s ‘writing’. Stacy loves chilling with her family and photography.

Sharon Coady lives in Florida with her husband, three of their daughters and five of their eleven grandchildren. She wrote two books before discovering Romance novels. She has now written a romantic suspense, a romance novella and is currently writing a Christmas novella. She has two published novels. When not working as a nurse for the Veterans Administration or writing she enjoys spending time with her family and riding behind her husband on their Harley.

Amy Manemann is an International Best Selling Author who writes sexy and intriguing romantic suspense, young adult paranormal romance, contemporary romance (NEW), and dabbles in children's books. She resides in her hometown along the Mississippi river with her husband and their two children. When she isn't plotting her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and diving into a good book.

Amy is also a site administrator for the World Literary Café, an online literary community for authors and readers. www.worldliterarycafe.com.

Award-winning author Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she's observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters' lives. When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Best-selling author Chantel Rhondeau once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Chantel is author of six romantic suspense novels, a Christmas novella, and the new McCallister’s Paradise series. She lives in the western United States, and when she's not writing she loves playing cards with her family, bowling on leagues, and snuggling with her lazy kitties.

Jacquie Biggar lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, & grandson. She loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. Spoils her German Shepherd, Annie, and Calico cat, Harley. And can't function without coffee.

Sylvie Grayson has published romantic suspense novels, Suspended Animation, Legal Obstruction, and The Lies He Told Me, all about strong women who meet with dangerous odds, stories of tension and attraction. She has also written The Last War series, a romantic fantasy set to be released in 2015. She has been an English language instructor, a nightclub manager, an auto shop bookkeeper and a lawyer. She lives in southern British Columbia with her husband on a small piece of land near the Pacific Ocean that they call home, when she's not travelling the world looking for adventure.

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.

Mimi Barbour is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author and the author of: The Vicarage Bench, Angels with Attitudes, Vegas, Elvis and the new sizzling Undercover FBI Series, Mimi lives on the East coast of Vancouver Island and writes her various romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fictional love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wanna hit the lists? #USAToday Here's how Summer Fire made it to #13 on #NYTimes

Here’s the post you’ve been waiting for – the one I promised. My take on how the Summer Fire collection made it to the New York Times list.

It’s complicatingly simple. We worked our fannies off !! Maybe not everyone all of the time. But we all kicked in some of the time. And with 20 authors making the effort, it worked. We hit #13 and I’m still a foot off the ground.

This is what you need:

An organizer – who is not only savvy about organising, but someone with a lot of energy and… who is willing to take on the bulk of the work. No matter how much you believe that everyone will pitch in and help, most of the group are only willing to do so much. They want to be led, told what to do, how and when. If you have a vision of how everything should work, you better be willing to either take charge yourself because you have experience or join with someone who has done this before and knows the ropes.  

Decisions – should be made by the person in charge as to how many people they want to have as a part of the group. What type of a collection it will be – full-length books versus novellas or even short stories – and which genre. And…another important option is whether all the books should be brand new or already published work.

The choice of authors – made a huge difference. I have no doubt we were chosen because of either being a titled author (USA Today, New York Times or Amazon Best-seller), someone with great sales or a social media buff who had a huge following on Facebook, Twitter and a street team they could bring into play. How did the organizers find these professionals? Most of us were invited by another already recruited. For instance - I was invited by one of the brides who I work with in those collections. And I’m sure the others have a similar story – it’s a bit of who you know!!

The budget – whoever is in charge needs to have a realistic budget planned in advance according to their marketing plan. Make a list of all the promos, marketing and costly ads you want to put into play and then make sure the others are willing to spend their share – both as a payment into the promo pot and the individual expenses expected from them for giveaways, Facebook ads etc.

The cover - was important. It needed to show the readers what they could expect on the inside – the flavor of the books – and Summer Fire’s cover did just that. Most of the stories are explicitly sexual and it was certainly obvious when one looked at the naked chest of the male body on the front and the words “Love when it’s Hot!” printed on the side. If a few of the people in the group can make/organise a couple of covers – it’s best to hold a poll and get it decided quickly. Covers can be a huge argument if it isn’t nipped in the bud with majority rules.

The tittle – again you need to get everyone offering suggestions and then take the best five and do a poll. Otherwise, this type of differing can go on for far too long and create a deluge of unnecessary e-mails – and trust me on this – the authors start zoning out if they get overloaded in this way. What comes first the cover or the title? We did the cover first and then the title (I think?)

Publishing plans – need to be decided on – the release date and whether the book will be self-published by someone in the group, say on a multi venue such as Draft 2 Digital, or will you go with an organiser like Indie Writes who looks after all the formatting and does the publishing for you – and takes 15% off the top. There is a lot of work involved in the formatting area so you want to make an informed decision.

Pre-orders – are now a big deal whereas not too long ago, they didn’t exist for the lowly Indie authors. But because it makes a difference to sales and that’s really what this whole effort is about, it’s best to decide when the book should go out on pre-order, (keeping in mind that Amazon requires you to have the final submission published 10 days before the release).

Social media campaigns – are hugely important and it’s where the bulk of the work comes in for the rest of the authors rather than just the chief. She needs to be able to rely on everyone kicking in at this point. That compelling cover needs to be seen by as many people as possible and multiple times so they finally make the decision to push the buy button. As you all know, there are so many ways to do this and I will cover all the ones we used in a later post. Needless to say, you need worker bees and this is where the chosen authors come into play. 

Paid promotions – will make or break your chances of hitting the lists. It’s the area I consider that is the most important to benefit the collection. There are a huge number of places willing to take your money but they need to be set up in such a way as to keep the traction high on the final week. If you have someone who knows the owners of these promotional places and can set up your anthology before it’s even released on pre-order, then you have a shot at the number of sales it will take you to make it big. You cannot wait until you have the live links for the different venues (unless you put the book out on pre-order months in advance and then you may jeopardize the reader making the decision for not wanting to wait so long. Once she/he’s said no to it once, it’s easier for them to do so again.) This is where ‘who’ the authors are comes into play. Well-known names have a lot of fans who would be willing to wait to get a hold of their next book – of course that’s only if it’s never before released.)

Release day hype – is something that needs to be well-planned and worked toward with a kind of frenzy to get the pre-order buyers excited for their new collection and the potential buyers willing to jump on the same band wagon of those who already bought. A lot of giveaways will be made around this time.

Reviews – have been discussed so much it makes my head spin until I contemplate banging it against the nearest wall (except I’d be scared of the wall repair costs LOL).  As to whether they’re important – what do you think? Of-freaking-course they’re important. Hugely so! That’s where I learned a big lesson while being a part of this collection. Again, I’ll share in another post. Just know that there are ways that authors can get the reviews where it costs you nothing.

**Okay - that’s it for now! I don’t want you getting keyboard marks on your foreheads when you doze off from reading such a long post. I promise to break down these different sections and give you all the details I can remember.