Category Archives: Business of Writing

Vote for King of Blades in the Swoon Awards semi-finals!

There’s a new contest in Romancelandia! The Swoon Awards are chosen by popular vote and are open to all romance readers. Much to my shock and delight, I found out that King of Blades made it into the semi-final round for the Fantasy Romance category.

Voting for the semi-final round ends tomorrow, so if you’d like to vote for King of Blades in the Fantasy Romance category you can do it here — go to the middle of the page and click the pink Next button to start voting. And thank you for your support!

So, it’s 2021

I know it’s expected to come up with a list of resolutions, diet plans, and goals at this time of year, but to be honest I hate resolutions, diets bore me, and I already came up with my goals for 2021 back in November.

Goal #1: Improve my indie publishing sales

The trick here is twofold — write and publish more good books steadily, and get really, really good at promotion. Which includes Amazon ads for me (I don’t have a great deal of luck with FB ads but I’m studying up on them), as well as social media promotion, regular blogging here, biweekly newsletters, and tools such as BookBub, BookFunnel, and BookSprout.

On the book-writing front, I managed to get a novel or novella out each month in the last half of 2020, which almost completely cleared off my WIP backlog. I won’t be able to keep that up in 2021, at least not if I want to maintain my current level of quality, but the goal is to release six books, once every two months, and put out a novella or short story in between the book releases. That, I feel, is manageable, and should result in twelve titles being released in 2021.

On the promotion front, my Amazon ad game is definitely improving — I’ve been making more sales and my Advertising cost of sales is dropping steadily, which is also good. That being said, I’ve decided to blow away all the old ads and start fresh in January by implementing the things I’ve learned about Amazon ads and doing A/B testing. It’ll take some time for the algos to pick up on that and start bumping the books up, but from a long-term perspective I think it’s the best thing I can do. Still need to do some more research on FB, but I may dip my toes back in that pool sometime in February.

Goal #2: Make mo’ money

This is partially tied into Goal #1 since that’s one of my main income streams. What with the emotional and financial rollercoaster of the last four years, I’m tired. Last year I had determined to clear off all of our outstanding bills with my contract job, and before COVID got me furloughed I was able to clear all bills except one. I want to expand on that this year, plus I want savings, I want to be able to invest in the stock market, and I want Ramón to be able to retire in 2024. And the only way to make that happen is to bring in more money.

I have three income streams at the moment — indie publishing, contract tech writing work, and jewelry making. At the moment the contract work pays the most, but it’s also on hold due to COVID. I would very much like to get to the point where I make enough money from indie publishing that I don’t have to rely on contract work unless the job really appeals to me.

And believe it or not, before last year I made pretty much the same amount from jewelry making as I did from indie publishing (mainly due to my work in sterling silver and semi-precious stones). Publishing has now pulled ahead of the jewelry, but I’d like to get back to designing and creating jewelry this year. It’s fun, it’s a nice break from writing, and it’s become part of my writing process (I mull over story ideas and plotting when I’m melting silver and soldering findings together). Also, people have been asking when I’m going to put more baroque earrings on my Etsy page. It’s nice to have fans.

Goal #3: Continue working on my shitty knees

At least I now know exactly what’s wrong with both of them, and I have PT exercises that do help. But that little chat with the PA at Baylor confirmed that I’m never going to actually straighten out either knee unless I get replacements, and the Baylor surgeon did not seem willing to do that.

Which means I will continue to limp for the foreseeable future, until 1) I can find a surgeon willing to replace ShitKnee at the very least, and 2) save up the money for that, as my PT sessions drained all the money I’d saved for surgery from last year. God, I hate the American medical insurance system.

Now, I just have to implement all of these goals. I’d gotten off to a great start on 1/4 after my break, but yesterday was taken up with hauling JJ to the emergency vet because he’d been vomiting up pinkish foam (after an exam and bloodwork to the tune of $611, the determination — he had an upset tummy) and today I’m running around trying to tempt JJ to eat with soft treats and easily digestible things and Jeremy is making an absolute ass of himself trying to get in my way. Need to catch up with word count, monitor the pending Senate race in Georgia (come on, Jon!), and brave the outside world later on for a food shop.

Onward, 2021.

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Christmas and Holiday Book Festival – Natasha M. Stark

Hello, all you lovely people, and welcome to the blog! I probably should explain the discrepancy between the name in the blog title and the name on the website itself — I write speculative romance (SF/fantasy/paranormal) as Nicola Cameron, but in 2020 I started writing contemporary romance as Natasha M. Stark. My very first contemporary holiday romance, One Sweet Christmas, is the story of an unemployed personal assistant traveling to LA who gets stranded in a Colorado ski town when her car breaks down. She gets talking into helping the local hot baker make an emergency wedding cake for an influencer Bridezilla––and hijinks ensue!

One Sweet Christmas was an absolute ball to write as it combined three of my favorite things––romance, banter, and baking. I can neither confirm nor deny that this story was influenced by The Great British Bakeoff, but I do enjoy baking assorted treats like mince pies and fruitcake, which leads me to my family holiday tradition. When I was a kid, my mother used to make a Polish fried cookie called Chrusciki (angel wings) every Christmas, and watching her making them was almost as good as eating them.

Image Copyright 2020 JennyCanCook.comThis was before the advent of silicone baking sheets, so she would spread a clean sheet over the kitchen counter to get a smooth surface, scatter it with flour, then roll out paper-thin sections of dough before slicing them into rectangles and cutting a slit down the center of the long side.

One end would get pulled through the slit to form a kind of dough bow tie, before going into hot oil and puffing up into a delicious, crispy cookie. The final touch was sprinkling them with powdered sugar (this had to be done while they were still hot and slightly oily so that the sugar would stick). You couldn’t wear anything nice when you ate Chrusciki because you’d get powdered sugar over everything, but we didn’t care because they were so yummy.

If you also love baking and want to take a crack at making these delicious cookies, Jenny Can Cook has a really good recipe that produces authentic Chrusciki. Just don’t wear anything that has to be dry cleaned when you nom them.


Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, and I hope you had a good (and safe) holiday this year! Before you go, I’d like to remind you of the Rafflecopter giveaway being held by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven. Everyone who enters has a chance at winning one of the following:

  • $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Direct Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775087

The giveaway is open internationally and runs December 1 – 31, and a drawing will be held on January 4, 2021. Click the link above to enter, and good luck!

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Want to read some AWESOME holiday books and win an Amazon gift card?

Calling all holiday-themed readers! We’re celebrating Christmas and the holidays all month long at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Christmas and Holiday Book Festival. 48 holiday-themed books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

  • Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, One Sweet Christmas, will be featured on December 31st, 2020. Each author shares a family holiday tradition, including me. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this event and come back every day:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/christmas-holiday-festival

The Business of Writing

Well, Shadow of the Swan officially goes to its full price of $3.99 today. It’s had an absolutely excellent sale run — I’ve sold 224 ebooks and two print books, gotten 19 reviews/ratings on Amazon, and it’s gotten enough buzz that I’m using it to start a new series, God help me.

A bit of a breakdown: 59 of those sales were via pre-order, and 10 sales were courtesy of the brilliant and incisive writer Jim Wright (aka Stonekettle on Twitter and FB) being kind enough to retweet my buy links (in addition to being an amazing writer he’s also a photographer and fellow crafter so so go check out his gorgeous nature photography and handmade wooden items on Etsy). Which means I’ve sold 155 ebooks by advertising and word of mouth, which bodes well for future books. Now it’s time to bump it up to its full price and see what that does.

In other news, I’ve also decided to up the price on all of my series starters to $1.99. I kept them at 99¢ because I was following the common wisdom of “price your series starters cheaply so that people will get hooked and then buy the rest of the series.” Which worked occasionally, I guess, but but nearly enough to make it worthwhile — I sold far more copies of the series starters than I did of the rest of the series books, mainly because of the psychology that readers will see a book priced at 99¢, buy it because it’s cheap, then leave it on their TBR pile for whenever they have time. Whereas if you pay $1.99 or more for a book, you’re more likely to read it ASAP, and that leads to people wanting to read the rest of the series and going back to Amazon to buy them. My goal is to get more people to buy my series starters and then buy the rest of the series. Ironically, the best way to do this seems to be by setting the price on the series starter at a respectable rate. Who knew?

In other publishing news, between sales and pre-orders for King of Blades I am at the 2/5 mark of what I made in September, and it’s only October 7th. The goal this month is to hit $200 in sales, then keep increasing that in the following months. Seeing as I’ll be releasing three more books this year, all of them part of existing series, I think it’s doable.

And finally, I have an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to be evaluated for a knee replacement. I know I need a replacement, and once he sees this wreck of a knee I think he’ll agree — the only potential sticking point is my weight. I’m hoping I don’t hear, “Lose 25 pounds and come back then,” but we’ll see.

King of Blades, Day *counts* 22

Yeah, I know, I suck. In my defense, have you SEEN what’s been going on out there?

Anyway, King of Blades. I’m at 45K words, past the midpoint, and I was supposed to be finished today but everything pretty much exploded out there in the last ten days so I’ll be doing 5K a day (again) until I hit the end. At least this time I know the world really well, and there shouldn’t be any surprise extra chapters popping up.

I just jinxed myself, didn’t I? DAMMIT.

In better news, last month was the first time I’d done three figures’ worth of sales on Amazon since June 2019 ($155.19, for total transparency). Not only is that five times what I made the previous month, it’s pretty much equal to what I made between January and August 2020, so that’s a definite improvement. The sales for Shadow of the Swan were a big help and provided $70 of that take, plus the two reader magnets (“A Gentle Fall of Snow” and “Beneath Their Own Blue Sea”) brought in more money and additional eyes on my other titles. My goal for this month is to do $200 worth of sales on Amazon, and between the pre-orders for King of Blades and what I’ve made so far I’m a quarter of the way there as of–

–checks calendar–

October 5th. So I’ve got that going for me. My goal for the rest of the year is to keep bumping up that monthly intake until I get to the point where I’m actually making a living wage at this job (or better yet, enough to support us both so that Ramón can retire and go find a narrow gauge railway where he can volunteer his services). But the only way I can do that is to keep releasing titles and hone my advertising game, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Speaking of releasing titles, if you follow me on Twitter or FB you probably noticed that I would up getting the rights back for my short story “Fine Dining” and my novelette “In His Name” from Evernight Publishing (one of the other authors in two of EP’s anthologies wanted their rights back, so EP pulled the anthos and sent the contributors rights reversion letters).

Because titles don’t do you any good if they’re not published, I spent most of last Thursday getting both shorts re-edited, re-covered, and re-released last week. If you’d like to pick up some 99¢ M/M contemporary romance short stories by me, here’s your chance (and if I may say so, “In His Name” is one hell of a good story). Plus L.D. Blakeley will be re-releasing her short story “Mile High Rebound” and I got a sneak peek at the awesome cover today, so keep an eye out for it!

Okay, still need to make word count tonight so I’m going back to work. Talk to y’all tomorrow!

Finish one project, move on to the next

So Shadow of the Swan is out there on all online markets, earning money and reviews, and I’m happy with that (as of this moment I’ve sold 143 copies on Amazon). I’ve even uploaded a free short story titled “A Gentle Fall of Show” about Henry and Louisa’s first Christmas at Bookfunnel (all subscribers to my newsletter got the link; if you want to subscribe, click here, enter your email address, and you can download “Snow” in MOBI, EPUB, or PDF format).

So what’s next, Nic? I’m glad you asked.

Since it looks like we’re going to be stuck in COVIDland for the foreseeable future, I am setting up some structure for myself for the rest of the year. And I know I’ve said that before, but this time I’m doing it partially for income and partially because I really need it to stay sane.

So — today, I am wrapping up the re-edit of Deep Water and uploading it to Amazon, B&N, et al. Tomorrow I go back to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) with a goal of finishing it by Monday, October 5. If I do 3,265 words a day, I’ll make that easily. Moreover, I KNOW I can write that many words a day easily (I knew it before, but 2019 kinda shook my faith in myself). Even better, now that I’ve been testing my lavaliere mike, Scrivener’s dictation function, and Otter.ai (oh, Holy God, dictation is a fricking godsend to anyone who needs to write fast and can handle saying stuff out loud), I should be able to crank out that amount within two hours, then spend another couple of hours editing it into shape. The rest of the work hours will be taken up with promo, cover design, et al, and outlining the rest of the books I’ll be writing this year.

On October 6, I pivot from King and let it cool for a week while I fire up Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4). People have been waiting VERY patiently for this book for about five years, so now that I have the rights back for all of the Olympic Cove books I want to reward them for their patience. The goal is to finish Current on November 2. On October 12, in parallel with my work on Cross Current, I will start editing King with a goal of getting it out to my editor and the betas by October 16. After I incorporate their changes and do the final polishing stages, I’ll publish King on Tuesday, October 27.

On November 3 I let the completed Cross Current rest for a week while I go back to work on Uncertainty Principle (and by then I’ll actually have an outline, please God — this book has been frustrating me for the better part of two years) with a goal of finishing it on December 4. Once again, I’ll edit Cross Current in parallel with writing Uncertainty, with a goal of publishing Cross Current on November 24. Uncertainty Principle will be published on December 22, and I am taking the rest of December off to let my brain cool down and get in some well-deserved relaxation by that point.

IF I HAVE TIME AND INTESTINAL FORTITUDE, I will work on The Crimson and the Black in December once Uncertainty Principle is finished. I am not going to promise anything at this point because, quite frankly, I may need to collapse at that point. Much will hinge on how well the dictation goes, how quickly I can edit, and whether or not I still have extra processor cycles available. If I decide to put it off until 2021, it will be the first book of that year.

I’m not going to post my planned schedule for 2021 yet because it’s still kind of soft and I want to get some details firmed up. But my goal is to release at least four full-length books that year (I’m telling you right off the bat, two of them will be the final books in the Olympic Cove series), along with a handful of novellas and free short stories.

And yeah, I know it looks like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but King, Current, and Uncertainty are all partials so it’s not like I’m starting from square one on any of them. If I can get all of them done and out the door, I will have cleared my backlog and can start 2021 with a clean conscience. Let’s see if I can get this done.

New Merch in the Teespring Store

So there’s a bit of a foofaraw going on in Romancelandia about a certain individual calling romance writers “literature’s prostitutes.” Needless to say, there was an immediate call for this on a t-shirt because that’s how romance writers roll, so these are my entries (currently available at Teespring — I’ll be doing mugs and stickers as well). I’m also working on a “I’m just here for the ratio” design so keep an eye out for that.

And thus, it’s August

And while I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to get Shifter Woods: Snarl and Behind the Iron Cross done and out, I’m also participating in a rather cool Instagram event called Romance Writers August hosed by Jen Ellis where we post something about a specific topic each day in August. You already know who I am so I’m not going to bother recreating Day 1’s post, but here are all the other posts and I’ll make a point of posting each new day’s pic here as well for the rest of August. And now, back to work, whee…

I’m Still Here (oh, and please buy my books — I have an A/C repair to pay off)

Sorry about the radio silence — between trying to get various books formatted and out (my very first romance novel Storm Season has been re-released with a new cover and re-edited content, AND it’s on sale for 99¢ — go take a look!), the increasingly scary situation going on with our current administration, the #GetLoud crusade against bookstuffers and assorted scammers, me taking a jewelry fabrication course, and assorted other things I’ve been a little busy.

The latest event was our downstairs A/C unit going out over the weekend — as it’s been flirting with triple digits here in the clavicle of Texas, this was not a laughing matter. The repairman came today and we now have cool air again for just a shade under a grand. *sigh* So if you need something entertaining to take your mind off things, I currently have five titles on sale for 99¢:

To My Muse will be coming off sale on 7/1 and Degree of Resistance will be taking its place, so if you haven’t read my hilarious romcom yet go get a copy while it’s still ridiculously cheap.

But not all is doom and gloom around the Cameron manse. The #GetLoud campaign, spearheaded by the brilliant Suzan Tisdale, Heather C. Leigh, Bianca Sommerfield, and David Gaughran, has finally generated enough complaints and bad press that the Big River are now taking down bookstuffers. Not all of them are gone, mind you — I still counted at least three in the top 20 of Romantic Comedy a few minutes ago — but the ranks are definitely looking different now. And if Amazon sticks to their guns and doesn’t let these people create new accounts (which according to their TOS is what’s supposed to happen), we may actually have a respite where KU has real, legitimate novels in it again.

At least, until the stuffers figure out a new scam. Which they will, because they’re unethical hacks who simply want to make money. In the meantime, however, I’m going to experiment and put Red Robin and the Huntsman back into KU for three months because it’s not really selling wide, and if it attracts readers in KU that might persuade them to check out the rest of the Two Thrones series (the next book, King of Blades, should be out in November, BTW).

Also, I’m finishing up Shifter Woods: Snarl (see cover at left) and that will be out on 7/10, so mark your calendars! The final novella in the current series, Shifter Woods: Scream (which is Deputy Jane’s story — the eagle shifter finds herself mated to a hot tiger shifter AND a half-elf zoologist in a crossover with Siobhan Muir’s Cloudburst, Colorado series), will be out sometime in September, and then I have to think about a plot for a full-length Esposito County Shifters novel. One possibility is Caleb and Laurie finally getting married — that is, if she can take time out from her new big story and he can deal with a group of religious preppers who are trying to set up a compound in the county. All of the characters from the novellas will be in that one, and I can build from there.