Category Archives: Publishing

Why Blogs Fail

A savvy blogger published on the Amazon FB page an article called WHY BLOGS FAIL. Those of you — and when I say “you”, I also mean me — trying to attract blog readers should follow this advice.  I’m not saying I will. but I SHOULD!

Why I Raised My Book’s Price

Have you seen the TV commercial that places items marked “FREE” on a busy street?  The humor is that passersby are suspicious and refuse to avail themselves of the free item.

Each day, I get notices from multiple web sites offering book giveaways. Most free offerings are by indie authors who use the Amazon-promoted strategy to get their books “out there.”  The result is a double-edged sword:  books by famous, traditionally published authors are now commonly offered at reduced prices or for limited-time sales.  I bought Donna Tartt’s best-seller GOLDFINCH for $2.99, and you can find books by Grisham and other million-selling authors for similarly low prices. On the other hand, if famous authors sell their books — at least some of them — so cheaply, what’s a lesser-known author to do?

As I said in my previous post, I stopped doing giveaways because I derived no benefit from them. But how to decide my book’s prices? When they were first published in hard cover by Little, Brown, they were over $20, but I certainly can’t offer my Kindle versions for anything even close — no one can!  So I looked at other books in my genre, which is historical romance/women’s fiction, or something along those lines.

When I first bought my Kindle three years ago, I would dismiss any book below $3.99 as probably not worth reading. Then I discovered a couple of authors I enjoyed in the $2.99-$3.99 range.  Some were indies, some had begun as indies, but were picked up by traditional publishers, and some were traditionally-pubbed paperback originals in e-format.  Now, more and more, I’m seeing aforementioned bestsellers — hard cover originals — offered at sale prices as low as $2.99 in e-format.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read an article by a traditionally published mid-list author like me. He asserted that we had gone through the process of finding an agent, a professional editor at a traditional publishing house, a copy editor, and a professional formatter.  Although we did not become best-sellers, and our books’ rights reverted to us, we had the advantage of top-tier input.  He felt that giveaways or overly-cheap prices devalued our books. I have to agree that my experience has borne out that theory.  I also noticed something peculiar that seemed to confirm that.

Of the two novels I offer on Kindle, REGRET NOT A MOMENT is $3.99 and NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS is $2.99. They both have mostly 5-star customer ratings.  They were both praised by Library Journal, Kirkus and RT (formerly Romantic Times). And, I hate to admit, they were both panned by Publishers’ Weekly.  The $3.99 book, however, outsells the $2.99 book about 3-to-1.  Maybe it’s because REGRET NOT A MOMENT begins in 1930, an era that Boardwalk Empire, Gatsby and Downton Abbey have made all the rage. Maybe it’s because REGRET is a romance that takes place in the milieu of Thoroughbred racing — always thrilling. There are also strong characters who must overcome racism and sexism in REGRET.

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS begins in the Mad Men-era and spans 25 years, so is more modern.  Maybe the Mad Men era is less intriguing to readers? My heroine in REGRET is a native Virginian; my LONELY NIGHTS heroine is based on my mother, who was a French expatriate born in Cairo, Egypt.  Most of LONELY NIGHTS, however, takes place in America, and my heroine’s occupation is a planner of glamorous events, a hot line of work just now.  The book is sprinkled with politicians, adulterers, grifters, and some exciting, masculine heart throbs. But my editor at Little, Brown told me Americans prefer American heroines (even though she bought the book). So maybe my heroine’s nationality makes her more difficult to identify with, even though she’s married to an American and lives in New Orleans, then Washington, DC.  Or maybe, just maybe, less credence is given to a book that’s $2.99 versus $3.99.

All I know is this: I went through the multi-year process of finding an agent who sold the books to a prestigious publishing house, worked with the editor for several more months to revise the books, and revised them again after a copy editor proofed them. Then my agent sold them again for translation to German, French, and Spanish, as well as publication in the UK and Canada. Did I become a best-seller? No.  As is the case with most unknown mid-list authors, my publisher did not invest in extensive advertising, point-of-sale displays, or book tours.  The books, however, are professionally put together, high-quality products. I am proud of them.  As I said, the book that is $3.99 sells better than the book that is $2.99.  If any of you have read both, I’d be interested in your insights as to why.  Meanwhile, I worked hard enough on both books, and they have garnered enough great reviews, for me to experiment with a higher price point in the hope that potential readers will believe, as I do, that a slightly higher price MAY indicate a higher quality product.

Both books are now $3.99. One-click below or on photos at right. Also, if you enjoy these posts, please click any of the follow icons at top right-hand corner.



For more thoughts on marketing, check out this link to author Julie Brown’s blog. In it, she includes yet another link to a very comprehensive article with specific book marketing suggestions.

Blog Tour of REGRET NOT A MOMENT, Nov 18-22

bannerSign up for a blog tour of Kindle romance REGRET NOT A MOMENT.  The tour takes place November 18-22 (that’s next Monday for the start date).  To participate, go to

Readers are unanimous in giving REGRET a 5-star rating.  In addition, best selling authors Janet Dailey and Jennifer Blake raved about the book.  To buy the book for $3.99, click here

In conjunction with the tour, we’ll be giving away five copies of my second novel NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS.

lonely nights hi resHere’s a brief description of REGRET NOT A MOMENT: The year is 1930.  Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family.  Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander.  Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation.  But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage. Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris.  Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon’s tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and’60s.

Best-selling author Jennifer Blake called this book, “as warm and spirited as its heroine, as gracious as its Southern background, a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire.  I enjoyed it immensely.”

Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches (made into a classic movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) called Regret not a Moment, “A bewitching book!  You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond…”





Even Good Writers Need Editors

Thousands of free books are offered each day on Amazon.  Ever since I uploaded my two novels on Kindle, I, too have offered my books gratis on selected days.  What’s more, I’ve taken advantage of other free books to download and read on my Kindle.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.  There are many good writers who are self-publishing.  Often, their books are free on Amazon and other sites every day.  They give away their books because they hope to gain an audience.  When they establish a following for their “indie” (i.e. self-published) book, they hope to be offered a contract by a traditional publisher, and/or to gain enough of a following to enable them to sell future books.  Some authors accomplish these goals.  Many do not, and I think I know why.

There are too many self-published authors who have not had independent editing of their books.  They may be good writers, and have probably been told they’re good writers, but the problems in their books are manifold.  They are inconsistent with verb tenses; they have poor transitions; they meander; their books are too long; they have characters or events that do not advance the story; their characters all have names so similar that it’s a task to keep them straight.

I recently read a book that started off well enough, but then devolved.  There were sections that involved travel by the main character, but the travel was more a sight-seeing check list than a plot device.  My impression was that the author wanted to go to exotic vacation spots and write off the trips as a business expense on her tax returns. Boy, did she need editing!  I couldn’t wait for the book to finally end.  It was at least 75 pages too long.

If you’ve read my previous blog entries, you know that my books were initially published in hard cover by Little, Brown, then in paper by Warner.  My editor at Little, Brown said she loved my books, and I was offered a two-book hard/paper contract.  Despite that, when she returned my manuscripts to me for re-writes, there were notes on at least a quarter of the books’ pages.  I had to cut length, I had to explain the presence of certain characters, and I had to re-write many scenes.  After my editor approved the changes, my books went to a copy editor, who checked grammar, word usage, and sentence structure.

My advice to indie authors:  pay someone to edit your book.  As for me, I’ve pretty much stopped reading many free books after just a few pages.  So far, too many of them make me cringe.  Even good writers need good editors; bad writers need them even more.

To purchase my books










Why I Quit Doing Book Giveaways

UPDATE: Last June, shortly after my books were published on Kindle, I wrote the spot that begins mid page:. How Many Stars on Goodreads and Amazon? Since then, I no longer do book giveaways. Why? I did not experience residual sales after promos ended, nor did I receive ANY reviews.  In contrast, when I do 99 cent sales along with inexpensive ads here and there, I sell as many books as when they were free: from a couple of hundred to over one thousand. Residual sales at full price also occur, though not at the same pace as when the books are 99 cents. Equally important: I get reviews!

Why don’t giveaways work? I don’t know. I suspect people don’t value free stuff.  They wonder why no one is willing to pay for it.  After I downloaded several free books, I understood why.  There may be some gems out there — I’m positive there are — but I haven’t found any.  Many of the ones I read had clearly not been edited, formatted, or even properly proofread. Again — before I get a bunch of outraged comments — I’m sure there are some great free books, and I’ve read the Amazon newsletters describing indie success using the giveaway strategy. It just didn’t work for me nor a couple of other traditionally published authors with whom I share war stories.

Here’s What I Wrote Last June:

How Many Stars on Goodreads and Amazon?

I offered free Kindle versions of both my novels in the past month, and about 2,000 customers downloaded them.  My novels only cost $3.99, so I don’t think price is why I had such a spike on free days; I think it’s the free advertising you get on sites that follow free book deals.

The dilemma for the author: why offer something for free when your object is to sell books?  The answer is, to get your name out there, make Amazon aware of you, make readers aware of you and, hopefully, get some good customer reviews.

So far on Amazon, I have received mostly five-star customer reviews. In case you were wondering, there is no way for the author to manipulate or add reviews.  Friends who bought your book can add reviews, but all my reviews, except one, are from strangers. I am honored that people gave me such raves.

On Goodreads, I don’t have many reviews, but they are all over the place.  To be honest, I consider PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, GONE WITH THE WIND, DAVID COPPERFIELD, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, and other classics to be five-star books.  While I am happy to receive good ratings, I’m not stupid enough to think my books are on a par with Jane Austen’s or Edith Wharton’s.  THEY are 5-star writers.

So for those people who downloaded my books for free, the hope is that you will provide a review, and a nice one.  Please know, however, that no offense is taken if the ratings aren’t five stars.  I’m no Hemingway and I don’t expect to be treated as one.  I’m just grateful that people take the time to read my books.



Rotten Rejections

We’ve all experienced rejection, but those of us in the arts have to experience it more than most.  A few years ago, my literary agent sent me a funny little book called ROTTEN REJECTIONS  (copyright 1990 Pushcart Press), whose contents are inspiring.

For example, of Pearl Buck’s, THE GOOD EARTH, the rejection said, “Regret the American public is not interested in anything on China.”

Of THE PETER PRINCIPLE, a McGraw-Hill editor wrote, “I can foresee no commercial possibilities for such a book…”

SANCTUARY by William Faulkner, “Good God, I can’t publish this. We’d both be in jail.”

DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift this book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD…You’re welcome to John Le Carre–he hasn’t got any future.”

ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell, “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by HG Wells, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.'”

Other writers who received many rejections:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, Edgar Allen Poe, Julia Child, Oscar Wilde, Stephen King, and, wait for it…Jane Austen.

So artists of every stripe:  keep trying!

To purchase my fiction




My first novel, Regret Not a Moment, is today available on Amazon Kindle.  It should be available on Barnes & Noble Nook tomorrow, but they seem to be having trouble with their upload site, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  If you go to my  Amazon author site, you’ll see a few reader reviews from some years ago when my book first caRegret - Kindle Format Like A Book[1]me out in hard cover.  I did not write them, though they are so kind that I feel the need to make that clear.  They can be found if you scroll down past the reviews from industry journals.  I hope you’ll scroll fast  because one of them was hilariously dreadful.  I’ve had nice professional reviews, too, but the dreadful one is the first one you see on the Amazon site. Of course, you, the reader, is whose opinion matters most.  For now, I have a five-star reader rating on Amazon for Regret Not a Moment.  I can only hope my luck holds out.

There was a wonderful movie starring Deborah Kerr called Tea and Sympathy.  She played a thirty-something married woman who developed a friendship with a younger, single man.  He was gawky, kind of a misfit.  At last, once — and only once — they consummated their relationship.  She said to him, “When you speak of this later — and you will — be kind.”  I’m not sure I have the exact wording correct, but it’s what I want to say to people who comment on my book!

To purchase my fiction for $3.99