>The Journey’s First Climax


Two weeks ago tomorrow was my print debut as a NY author. It was exciting and dull at the same time. Dull? I can see your mouths dropping open at this part. She just had a NY book hit the shelves and she finds that dull??? I don’t know why, but I was expecting something much different than the earth-shattering NOTHING that happened on Tuesday the 5th.

I’ve seen five different small press print books launch, and I think I expected my NY launch to pack a bigger punch. It didn’t. Essentially, it was a non-event. By that I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot of buzz on the Internet with readers talking about the book or how they just had to rush out and buy the book. I was relieved to hear from readers who said they’d received their pre-order copy and they were ready to dive into the book. But over all, I wasn’t that high on the radar screen. In fact, I debuted in the 3000s on Borders best-selling romance books. THAT was a rude awakening. Especially when my second print book, Forbidden Pleasures from New Concepts, actually shot up to the 7K mark and hovered there for a few days at Amazon. Not that Amazon is even remotely accurate in terms of ranking, but its nice to see that number, unfortunately Kismet hasn’t even rocketed out of the 30K ranks. *sigh*

Questioning The Logic of Advertising

Yep you read that right. Me the Queen Advocate of Advertising is trying to steer her way out of a skid on this one. At this point, I’m not sure whether my EXPENSIVE advertising will have been worth it. By expensive, I mean I spent $1125 on a full page ad with Emma Wildes. We split the cost. Then I paid $750 for a full page color ad in RWR. On top of that, I’ve done mailings, online promotions and a host of other things to build up my name and get people interested in looking at Kismet. In total, I’ve spent more than $4k for promotion specifically related to this book. It’s been disheartening, not because I expected to debut at #1 *snort* (ok, maybe a small part of me did.), but I once again have realized how much luck comes into play in one’s climb up the ladder.

When I say luck, I’m not diminishing the necessity for a well-written book. A well-written book not only gets strong sales, it gets buzz to build those strong sales. It gets buzz frombuyers to booksellers to readers. If it goes viral that’s awesome. If it doesn’t then it takes time to build an audience. But from what I’m seeing, it’s a crap shoot as to how well a book does when going out the gate.

Then there are the Kirkus and PW reviews that supposedly booksellers use to determine whether or not to stock a book. While debut books are often selected for review, I really don’t think they’re just random picks based on taste. I think there’s a little behind the scenes maneuvering. I’m also talking about how a book actually gets enough visibility in the store so that readers actually pick it up. In addition, lets look at the book format itself. I’m in trade paperback. That’s the larger size book than the mass-market size withis the 5×7 size for say $6.99 or $7.99. The trades are larger and cost twice as much as a mm book. So I’m pretty sure that’s an issue when it comes to someone taking my book for a testdrive. Not many people are willing to spend $14 on a book by an author they don’t know.

Are Rankings a Signal?

So with the book only on shelves two weeks, my rankings at Borders Bestselling Romance has dropped from its all-time high of 534 down to 1233. So you can see why I’m feeling a bit cynical about the book’s success. And yes, I know that those online lists aren’t accurate, but Borders is a bit more so than Amazon, and I’ve not gone too high up. Of course, positive reviews are nice ego strokes, just as less than stellar ones (Mrs. Giggles) ensure a writer’s flagellation for daring to put their book out there. This is all part of the game, and one either accepts it for what it is or tanks beneath the weight of censure. However, I will say I wasn’t all that surprised by the 61 she gave the book. She’s not a fan of angst, and I do angst a lot, so it just wasn’t a good match. In the overall scheme of things though, a 61 means an average read for her. Not too bad when I think about it.

Advertising Isn’t End All

In addition to all the advertising, I’ve done a blog tour to promote the book, but that seems to do nothing when it comes to driving sales. Maybe it’s sales I don’t see online, but it does seem like the same people follow me from blog to blog hoping to land a free copy of the book.I don’t mind people trying to win a free copy. The book isn’t cheap, and times are tough. At the same time, I wonder if the followers who go blog to blog will even buy the book if they don’t win.

It’s Really Not That Bad!

Despite a dismal performance at Mrs. Giggles, several different reviewers had different opinions. One of them was Katibabs, a tough reviewer. So that was a relief to get a decent review from a reviewer I consider as tough as Mrs. Giggles. Barnes and Noble has me in a Newest Arrivals program, where my book is set out with other new arrivals. So they’re up front when you first come in the door, and see Newest Arrivals. Not sure how well the program works for a romance, but it’s a feel good sensation that Berkley has thrown their weight behind the book.

There are a couple other ups in this seemingly downward spiral, I’ve done two book signings. One in Richmond and one in Roanoke. The Richmond signing didn’t have a huge turnout due to the weather (snow in the forecast makes Richmonders become hermits). However, I did sell to a number of readers who either came specifically to the signing because they wanted the book, and/or customers in the store who like to support local authors.

My Roanoke signing was moderately successful. I had friends I’d not seen in years come out to support me, which was wonderful. A couple of girlfriends from high school, and I even cried at one point. So I did sell quite a few books even if it was only to friends, although there were a number of shoppers in the store who bought as well. One customer was guy, and I was so proud of him that he had to courage to purchase the book. Guys are always uncomfortable when it comes to others knowing they like to read romance, and it was pretty evident this young man was edgy about buying the book, but KUDOS to him for having the chutzpah to come up and get an autorgraphed copy.

Now that Kismet is out, I’m wrapping up my blog tour, and moving on. I’m already behind on the current WIP. I was on target and then edits for Assassin’s Honor came home to roost. I had eight days to revise, and unlike Kismet, this time there were a lot more places that needed attention. Most of them were fairly easy fixes, just fleshing out some of the world-building rules and making readers understand why things are the way they are in the Sicari world. But the one that gave me the worst fit was near the end. I had to come up with a punishment for the hero, and I’d already made him pay dearly in a physical fashion earlier in the book, so I just wasnt’ sure what I could do to him to make it seem a worthy punishment. Fortunately, I had a friend who’d read the book, brainstorm with me. Turns out I knew what the answer was all along, I’d just been going about it the wrong way. So problem solved, and Cindy was happy with the changes.

So all in all, it’s been a wild and crazy month so far. I can’t believe January is more than half over!! It will be spring before I know it, and I am not ready for that. I’d like for life to slow down a little bit, but I don’t expect that to happen for at least another eight months when I turn in my final of five contracted books. It could be worse though. I could be without those two NY contracts, and I cannot say I didn’t ask for all this. So the whining is more the result of being tired than anything else. Now back to the manuscript and the resolution to another HEA.

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About Monica Burns

A bestselling author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

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