Category Archives: Nicole’s Writing

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.

REGRET NOT A MOMENT amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS amzn.com/B00CJYQB5S

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.http://authorjcbrown.weebly.com/1/post/2014/02/what-every-indie-author-wants-to-know-marketing-secrets.html

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.

REGRET NOT A MOMENT amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS amzn.com/B00CJYQB5S

Cannot Believe This Question to Advice Column!

“Ask Amy” is the syndicated advice column that replaced “Dear Abby.” Today, I read a question that blew me away!

A 22 year-old woman has known her boyfriend for nine years, dated him for two. Of course, they live together [see my previous post: LIVE TOGETHER?  NOT IF YOU WANT TO MARRY HIM]. She wants to get married; he doesn’t. Typical scenario, so far.

Now, here’s the twist:  he’s pressuring her to have his children without marrying her.  She asks, “Am I wrong to want to be married before having kids?  Am I crazy for wanting him to propose?”

WTF?

Wrong for wanting two parents? Wrong for wanting marriage when you’ve been dating for two years? The world’s gone mad when a young woman questions her own desire for a “nest” for her babies.

The columnist gives her a typical, politically correct response:  “I wish I could offer you 20/20 clarity about what pushing someone into marriage tends to lead to…” Give me a break — it leads to marriage, a marriage as likely to work as any other, as likely to end in divorce as any other, but with legal obligations from the father not always afforded by living together.  In contrast, people who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who don’t.

Amy goes on to advise, “Talk to peers…who are married with kids — or unmarried with kids — to see what their lives are like.”  What?  Nothing about the woman being only 22 and NOT wanting kids before marriage?  Nothing about the selfish, immature desire of her guy to procreate without commitment?

By taking wishy-washy, politically correct advice, this 22 year old has a big chance of ending up a single mother struggling to make ends meet, trapped by a circumstance she wanted to avoid.  What about bolstering her resolve to provide a two-parent home for her kids?

The advice columnist is so worried about pressuring someone into marriage…what about pressuring someone into the irrevocable decision to have kids?  Amy, you really messed up on this one!

BLOG Tour for NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS

E-BookBuilders is hosting a blog tour for my Kindle romance, No More Lonely Nights, January 27-29. The tour begins today with an author interview. Tuesday will be reviews and author bio. Wednesday will feature a book excerpt.

lonely banner jpeg finalThe link is http://smarturl.it/FANM

Other bloggers participating are https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janet-Wrenn-Author/124906274186149 and https://www.facebook.com/lisathedramaqueen

If you are a blogger interested in participating, please contact Deena at www.e-bookbuilders.com

 

Five Remote, Romantic Getaways You’ve Never Heard Of

Copyright © 2016 Nicole McGehee

Is your idea of a crowd three other people on your beach?  Do you enjoy personalized, but barely visible service?  Or perhaps you want the privacy to skinny-dip in your own pool.

If you’re looking to unplug — truly unplug — from TVs, phones and e-devices, but you want understated luxury and privacy, here are five enticing getaways you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve never been to any of them, but I want to go to all. To that end, I’ve researched them extensively, including Trip Advisor ratings.  I have traveled enough — and written so many travel articles — that I know how to read between the lines of reviews and brochures.  I think you can trust me on these, but, of course, do your own research before booking, and read the bad Trip Advisor reviews for specific criticism.

Very important: since the resorts’ own photos are copyrighted, you owe it to yourself to click on the links I’ve provided and view the full galleries for yourself.  They are breathtaking. That said, most of these resorts provided me with photos.

La Fregate, The Seychelles
http://fregate.com

La Fregate residences

La Fregate residences

This lush tropical island chain is located 1000 miles east of Africa in the Indian Ocean. There are other world-class resorts in the archipelago, but La Fregate, a private island, has always captured my imagination. There are seven pristine beaches for just 16 villas. Each residence has its own pool and — the ultimate luxury — its own butler.  Candlelight dinner on the beach? A picnic for just the two of you on an isolated stretch of sand? A rainforest tour? Massage and facial? No problem; your butler will make all the arrangements. There are no beach front villas here, rather they are perched on a cliff for endless sea views.  But each residence gets a private golf cart, so you’re free to explore.

Much of the food served is grown in the resort’s gardens, and the cuisine is said to be very good, which is rare on single-resort islands. The Trip Advisor rating is 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, with 61 reviews. The one “terrible” review was written in 2006, and the only alarming flaw it pointed out were millipedes raining down from the ceiling. Okay, that’s pretty bad, but it was eight years ago, so be sure to read the raves, too.

La Fregate, The Seychelles

La Fregate, The Seychelles

Meridian Club, Pine Cay, Turks and Caicos http://www.meridianclub.com

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay, Turks and Cacos.  Photos compliments of MAAC Group

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay, Turks and Caicos.
Photos compliments of MAAC Group

I can’t say it better than the resort’s home page:  “The Meridian Club, the only resort on Pine Cay, is a secluded island getaway on a privately owned 800-acre cay in the Turks and Caicos.Beautifully positioned on a two-mile stretch of talcum-powder beach – considered by many as the finest in the Caribbean – The Meridian Club is an environmentally-sensitive private island resort ideally suited for those seeking an unspoiled, upscale but unpretentious retreat. With no automobiles, televisions, radios or telephones ringing in your ears, you are left to unwind and enjoy the island’s natural beauty and tranquility. Soothing trade winds ensure comfortable temperatures and low humidity year round on our Turks and Caicos private island while the surrounding waters(averaging a pleasant 75° – 80° Fahrenheit) teem with marine life. Underwater visibility often exceeds 100 feet and there are miles of coral gardens within a five minute boat ride. Ashore, Pine Cay remains a pristine natural haven with vast open space and seven freshwater ponds, a perfect habitat for the abundant local fauna and flora.”

Trip Advisor gives this resort 5 stars with 88 reviews, 82 of which were “excellent, 3 very good.  The “poor” review complained that the resort — though adults only — was overrun by noisy kids staying at the private homes on the island, since owners get club membership.

The Meridian Club features private villas overlooking the beach

The Meridian Club features private villas on the beach

Coco Point Lodge, Barbuda, West Indies http://cocopoint.com

Not Bermuda, the honeymoon tradition with its very own “Triangle,” but BARBUDA, sister island to well-known Antigua, in the Caribbean.  Barbuda has only 1500 inhabitants in its 15 x 8 square mile area.  It features miles of unspoiled beach, clear water, and all manner of wildlife and birds. Trip Advisor guests give Coco Point Lodge five stars.  Unusual for the Caribbean, guests rave about the food.  Good thing, since this is an all-inclusive resort.

Words from the resort’s own website, “Coco Point provides the ultimate in relaxation and privacy, and it is luxurious without being too fancy, it is refined without being stuffy, it is in vogue and yet still understated.  Our guests do not come to Coco Point to be seen — they come to Coco Point to do the seeing, some to open their eyes, and all to marvel in the view.  Coco Point has not changed a whole lot over the last 52 years because it got it right the first time.  Simple, special, and exceptional, and experiences to savor and remember — that is the Coco Point tradition, has and always will be.”

Trip Advisor gives this resort 5 stars, with 45 reviews. Forty-four are “excellent,” one is “terrible.”  There’s always one, isn’t there?

Anjajavy Hotel, Madagascar, Africa, All photos for this property © Bipa.Fitiavana 2009 http://www.anjajavy.com/index_en.html#

A villa at Madagascar's Anjajavy Hotel

Villa at Anjajavy Hotel © Bipa.Fitiavana 2009

Madagascar:  even the name sounds exotic.  This island off the coast of the African country of Mozambique boasts flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.  Says the hotel’s official website: “Home to lemurs, chameleons, tortoises, humming birds, medicinal plants, cocoa, vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, papyrus and carnivorous plants to name a few; Madagascar is one of the last remaining unspoilt oases on the planet. There are virgin forests, savannas, lazy bays and tiny islands to explore.”

Lemurs are plentiful at Madagascar's Anjajavy Hotel

Lemurs are plentiful at Madagascar’s Anjajavy Hotel

Talk about remote, this resort cannot be accessed by road, but the property arranges private air service. Twenty-four rosewood villas on 1350 acres are set amidst a tropical garden, and front an unspoiled stretch of dazzling white sand. Dirt paths within the resort invite exploration, and boat excursions can also be arranged.

This resort has a five star rating on Trip Advisor. Out of 159 reviews, 150 are excellent, five are very good, three are average, and one is poor.  The “poor” did not pinpoint any particular flaw, so maybe the low score should be thrown out, like in Olympic ice skating. Opinions on food ranged from very good to dreadful.  Service:  mixed reviews.

Travaasa, Maui, Hawaii http://travaasa.com/maui
Hawaii may be part of the USA, but it is one of the most remote island groups on earth, at least a five-hour plane trip from the nearest mainland.  Although Maui has certainly been discovered — and can be crowded with tourists — most resorts are in the sunny south of the island.  Take the famous, winding road to Hana, and you’ll end up in another world (the resort can also arrange a flight from southern Maui).  It’s rainier here in northeastern Maui, and the beauty is untamed.  You won’t find a white sand lagoon on the property, but a dramatic cliff, complete with the sound of crashing waves to lull you into relaxation.

Overview of Travaasa

Overview of Travaasa, photo courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Relaxation, in fact, is what Travaasa is all about, with its spa, yoga classes, and rustic-chic bungalows spread at discreet distances from one another.  Here,  they encourage you to try all manner of gentle adventures, from juicing and cooking classes to net fishing and gliding.  Gliding will get your heart racing, it’s true, but it’s serene up there, in keeping with this resort’s natural philosophy.

The resort relies on Hawaii’s bounty for food, spa products, and activities.  Jet skis?  Forget it! Horseback riding, guided meditation? You’ve come to the right place.

This property has 625 Trip Advisor reviews, with over 500 rated as excellent or very good, and 25 “terrible”. Most of the “terrible” reviews seemed to result from pricing disputes caused by booking through third parties. Another problem highlighted in some reviews, however, appears to be cleanliness. The people who gave “terrible” ratings give hair-raising accounts of bugs, dust, and generally poor maintenance.

Even the most recent 5-star review had this to say, “If you are expecting modern and sparkling, stay somewhere else. If you want a transport back in time to the best of Hawaiian culture, race to make your reservations. We stayed in an older Hawaiian wooden cottage with a direct view to the ocean. The vistas were gorgeous, the grounds beautiful, the quiet nourishing, and the energy marvelous. There may have been cracks in the stone counter and dust on the ceiling fan blades, but we lacked for nothing. The rooms were spacious with decking and hot tub and really comfortable beds, delicious Kona coffee to grind and perk, yummy banana bread, complimentary wine on arrival and for a birthday, and a host of other amenities. The charming rooms had nice sitting areas, “kitchenette” spots, and a large bath facility. Every morning the sun and the sea greeted us firsthand. The breezes at night through the screen doors were heavenly. Our retreat was as private as we wanted. There was a wonderful, true Maui Aloha calm and consideration shown by all the attending employees.”

Wellness day pool, courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Wellness day pool, courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Overall, Trip Advisor gives this property a 4 1/2 out of 5-star rating, so I suggest you read the best and worst, and then reach your own conclusions.

Live Together? Not if You Want to Marry Him

Should you move in with your boyfriend?  Not if you want to marry him.

Many women will dispute that statement. They’ll insist co-habitation is a way to test the waters. They’ll insist the decision is as much theirs as their boyfriend’s. They’ll claim the commitment is so strong that they don’t need a piece of paper to affirm it.  Finally, they’ll say that ultimatums are a bad way to get a man to commit.

Bull.

If you want to live with a guy because YOU don’t want a formal commitment, go for it.  You’re already in a position of strength because you don’t secretly yearn for something he won’t give you.  On the other hand, if you hope living together will convince him to marry you, forget it.  Sure, it happens sometimes, but, by then, the excitement of a new level in the relationship — marriage — has been eroded by domestic bickering and at least some disillusionment.

I’m no scientist, and I’m not going to throw statistics at you to support my argument — we’ve all heard that pre-marital co-habitants have higher divorce rates.  Instead, I’ll ask you to honestly reflect on your own experiences. Do you know someone who for years lived with a guy “who just wasn’t ready”, only to watch them break up, then the guy marry someone new after a few months?  Do you know a woman riddled with anxiety and resentment because her live-in boyfriend hasn’t popped the question?  Every holiday she hopes for a ring, only to receive gift cards, earrings or necklaces?

Here’s where the ultimatum comes in.  It’s not for him — it’s for you.  If a reasonable time has passed, and you’re ready for marriage, you owe it to yourself to find out if he’s thinking the same.  If not, you’re wasting  your precious time.  You think ultimatums are bad?  It used to be society that issued ultimatums.  A woman’s father would insist on knowing a young man’s “intentions” toward his daughter.  Now, many of us don’t have fathers in the picture and, even if we do, we want to take of ourselves.  Problem is, we often don’t take care of ourselves.

The other day, I was working out with my female trainer. She’s thirty-ish, never married, and grappling with her boyfriend’s request that she move in with him. She’s dated him on and off for years, and is ready to marry him.  He’s around her age and never married, though he’s fathered a child (not with her).  I advised her not to move in.  I said it was ultimatum time.  A young man working out near us agreed.  “I’m all about the ultimatum,” he said, “and I’m getting married in a couple of months. Couldn’t be happier.”

Here’s how the ultimatum works:  you decide at what point you need an engagement.  You resolve to sever ties if you don’t get it. You don’t do this to punish him.  You do it because you want a relationship in which you are loved as much as you love.  Everyone deserves a relationship in which love is equally shared.  You have to have the guts to walk away from the guy.  For good.  He may come after you; he may not, but it’s best to know where you stand.

Okay, so what does this have to do with living together?  When you live apart, you retain some mystique, some detachment. You retain allure if he doesn’t know every detail of your beauty, diet, and bathroom regimen. You ARE apart and so you are in a stronger position — within your own psyche — to BE apart if he proves less committed than you.  Marriages go through ups and downs, and that legal commitment can cause people to weather the rough times, and often grow stronger as a result.  When you live together, you experience all the humdrum aspects of marriage without the mutual obligation.  How many live-in couples do you know who are already bored with each other?  Maybe it’s because they’re not facing in the same direction as they consider the future.  Shared aspirations, interests and goals — a commitment to a shared future — keep a marriage strong.

An ultimatum forces the man to turn off the autopilot and focus — really focus — on your relationship.  Is it what he wants?  Yes? So now he knows.  Does he think something better might be around the corner?  Yes?  So now YOU know.

If you’re reading this and making excuses for him, go back and watch the movie HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.  Because he’s not.

To purchase either of my books, please click on cover photos at right.

Also, please LIKE my Facebook author page. https://www.facebook.com/nicolemcgeheeauthor

 

No More Lonely Nights 99cent Countdown Deal

Romance novel No More Lonely Nights will be on sale for 99 cents, from 1/13/14 through 1/17/14.

To read the first chapter of this book, which starts in the Mad Men -era and spans 20 years, please go to previous post.  Or you can click on cover photo at right, which takes you to the book’s Amazon Kindle page.

Direct link is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJYQB5S/ref=cm_sw_su_dp