Archive for February, 2013

An Awkward Thing Happened on the Way into the Bookstore

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

First, I love my new Gunnars! Thanks to the weird yellow lenses cutting the blue glare of my desktop screen, I can finally get productive again! Which is very good. Because I’m behind in many things, including updating both my websites.

Second, writers are introverts. Most writers are, anyway. And I’m no exception. We spend the majority of our time tucked away in our offices, spinning stories from our imaginations. Before the Internet, we rarely interacted with the public (unless we were famous, which most of us weren’t—and aren’t). Along comes the Internet, and it’s easier to interact with our readers because we’re still sitting in our offices while doing the interacting. Most writers, if asked by a publisher, to go into a local bookstore and sign copies of a recent release, will be hesitant to do it. In fact, most of us have to force ourselves to do this sort of thing. There’s something weird or a bit off about trumpeting one’s own writing. Other artistic endeavors, like singing, dancing and acting, the idea is to be in front of an audience. Writers like to hide inside our books.

Now, most people who know me in “real life” would never believe that I’m an introvert. That I was a shy child. That I had to force myself to learn to come out of my shell. And that shell is a very comfortable place. It just so happens that I have developed the knack of being a social introvert.

So…a couple of weeks ago, Penny (nickname for my “pen” name, check the blog legend in the right sidebar if you’re confused), had a new release, an excerpt of a single title erotic romance included in a multi-author anthology with several other Canadian erotic romance authors. Until now, all of Penny’s publishers—and all of mine as Cindy—have been based in the United States. And because I live in a smaller town not near any large urban centers, I’ve never seen my—nor Penny’s—books in a bookstore except for the one time I briefly had, as Cindy, copies of the second edition of HEAD OVER HEELS available on commission in a local independent. Then that independent went belly-up, and it took me several years (I know, the horror) to try and arrange another bookstore consignment for my Cindy books. I am in the process of attempting to get that done now.

But Penny, that little devil, likes to jump ahead of me in such matters. So, with the release of the multi-author erotic romance anthology in mid-February, Penny found her way into a local independent bookstore (different from the one that went belly-up). The publisher of the anthology asked me a few times if I had plans to pop into the bookstore and sign copies of the anthology or—agh!!!!—arrange a public booksigning. He was quite persistent, so I agreed that if the “sales team” let the independent in question know what was going on, that I would appear this week or next to sign the copies on the shelves, or in the warehouse if desired. Anything to get out of a public signing and being asked directions to the Dr. Seuss aisle.

Being the brilliant sort that I am, I decided that if I had to torture my introverted self by waltzing into the bookstore and asking to sign copies of the anthology, I might as well get all the pain over with at once and bring along trade copies of HEAD OVER HEELS and WHERE SHE BELONGS for the possible consignment sales. But first, the signing of the anthology needed to be accomplished.

As it so happened, the manager of the bookstore, a lovely young woman, approached me when I entered the store. I thought, “Better make sure they have copies first.” So asked, “Do you have copies of ANTHOLOGY TITLE?” (If you follow that link, you’ll miraculously learn it). She said yes and took me toward them. I was happy to see that they had about ten copies on the shelves. But! At this point I should have been jumping up and down, ecstatic to finally, after all these years, see one of my books on local bookstore shelves that I hadn’t placed there on consignment (even if my name wasn’t on the cover, as there are about twelve contributing authors so only the editor’s name is on the cover). That moment was totally lost to me. I didn’t take a picture. I didn’t kiss the books. Instead, I had to tell the manager, “This might sound a little weird, but I’m one of the contributing authors in this book and my publisher asked me to come down and sign copies. Do you want me to sign the copies?” (Because, well, maybe she didn’t). I think the manager was as surprised by the question as I was by my need to be there so I could tell the publisher that I had followed through with his dastardly plan to extricate me from my office. I took along a copy of another book WITH Penny’s name on the cover, to sort of prove that I was who I said I was, but it turned out she believed me because apparently no one in my town has ever waltzed into the bookstore claiming to be an author in a particular book when in fact they weren’t. I guess that’s not something Canadians like to lie about.

At any rate, we took the books into the back office, and I signed them away from the unknowing crowds, and then she placed them back on the bookshelf. It was a little embarrassing, because the publisher had said something along the lines of how the sales people had informed local bookstores that authors in the area (being me for my area) might be stopping in to sign the copies. But the manager in my independent didn’t know a blessed thing. I don’t know who told who, but no one told her, not even me, because I could not bring myself to call before going down first. No, I just had to buck up and fill the car with recycling and shopping lists, and pop in.

I was home and removing the groceries from the trunk before I realized that I hadn’t fully relished seeing ONE OF MY BOOKS ON BOOKSTORE SHELVES. For the first time ever without having placed them on consignment. Because of my nerves, because of my natural inclination to rather sit home and write, I totally missed on that once-in-a-lifetime experience. So now I’m hoping I’ll run across the anthology in another Canadian bookstore. Then I’ll have my giggle and chuckle. After all this time, I’m on Canadian bookstore shelves (on behalf of Penny)! That feels really great.

Explaining My Absence

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

I have been away from the blog so long because (1) of my recovery from the PRK touch-up in my right eye, which, again, has resulted in my desktop computer drying out my eye; (2) I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Quebec for a week; and (3) well, how can you tell that I’m under the weather, because I can’t remember three!

Addressing (2) – I’ll post a few piccies of the Quebec trip in a few days. I’ve ordered a pair of Gunnars computer glasses and hope that when I receive them I’ll able to spend more time at the desktop, which is where I update the blog. For now, I’m editing a manuscript on Daisy, my netbook.

If you’ve never heard of Gunnars, I sort of found about them by accident. A friend aware of my difficulty with dry eyes following surgery told me she had seen “computer glasses” with yellow lenses that cut down on blue glare in a major department store. So I went looking. And I found some Foster Grants, but they’re reading glasses. And I don’t need reading glasses. I just need something to cut down the glare. Some Internet searching took me to the Gunnars website, and now I am awaiting my pair. I’ll let you know what I think.

It’s been six weeks since I had the right eye (my distance eye) corrected for the second time. This time I had PRK surgery, which has a much longer recovery period than the SBK surgery I had fourteen months ago. About ten days post-surgery, I could see 20/30 in the eye doctor’s office, whereas before the surgery I had fallen from near 20/20 vision down to 20/50 over a period of six months. I’ve been told that 20/30 for 10 days post-PRK is good.

At the four week post-PRK surgery, I was seeing at around 20/25 and 20/30, so not much improvement. That was two weeks ago. My vision was much clearer than at the 10 day appointment, but I had developed a sort of double vision which especially affects me when reading something in the distance and making me very glad I still have driving glasses to allow the left eye to take over for driving.

The double vision is a bit disconcerting, although it’s getting better as the weeks progress. I am now at 6 weeks post-surgery and I won’t see the eye doctor again until the 3 month point, where the goal is that I’ll be seeing 20/20. In about the last ten days, I have begun noticing an improvement in the double vision, which is a weird sort of experience in that I CAN see, for example, the name of an elementary school nearby as I’m walking the dog, but I also see a ghost image of the name right above the real name. However, now I’m noticing that if I lower my head and look out the top of my eye, the ghost image goes away. At first it was if I lifted my head and looked out the bottom of my eye, the ghost image would go away. Now it’s the top. My fervent hope is that over the next several weeks I will be able to look through the MIDDLE of my eye and not see the ghost images. Cross your fingers!

Before the PRK touch-up, the eye doctor could not get me to see 20/20 out of my right eye even with corrective lenses. I do have great hope, considering the clarity of what I can see out of the top of my eye 🙂 that even if I will eventually still require driving glasses, that I will be able to see distance clearly enough for everyday activities that don’t involve getting behind the wheel.

The last time I posted, WHERE SHE BELONGS was on the Paid Bestseller lists for Amazon Kindle following a very successful free run in which I gave away over 96,000 copies of the book worldwide! I have some other commentary and stats I’d like to share with you, hopefully later this week. Now that WHERE SHE BELONGS is back on paid status, however, the book continues to sell very well. I should surpass having sold 1000 copies either today or tomorrow. Sales are also up for HEAD OVER HEELS, Deceiving Derek, and Catching Claire. More about all of that soon!

WHERE SHE BELONGS A Kindle Women’s Fiction Bestseller!

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Two weeks ago, I never thought I’d say this…but one of my books has cracked a Top 100 Kindle Bestseller list! In the Paid Store. As in, people are actually buying my book!

No doubt due to the success of WHERE SHE BELONGS’s run in the Kindle Free store, which went way beyond anything I expected, my Canadian-set romance with a mother-daughter subplot has hit #63 in Women’s Fiction as of about 3 p.m. this afternoon! I’ve received a number of new reviews, which the book was sorely lacking previously, and, for the moment, anyway, I am enjoying a bit of that elusive force authors call “discoverability.” And it feels so sweet!

Originally, I wrote WHERE SHE BELONGS before my romantic comedies and before targeting the erotic romance market as my alter ego, Penny. For the life of me, I could not sell the book to a traditional publisher. At the time, I was targeting category romance publishers, and it didn’t matter how many times I rewrote the book, how many times I pitched it to an editor and received a request, how many months it then sat on an editor’s desk, how many times I eventually received a rejection letter, no matter how positive. At one point, when I had an NYC agent, she told me I had a problem letting go of projects that weren’t working. In other words, books that weren’t selling to traditional markets.

That was way before the Amazon Kindle grew the ebook market exponentially. My former agent had no clue (and neither did I), how the introduction of the Kindle would change reading habits. When I parted ways with that former agent (who is no longer in the business, as far as I know, although the agency she was with remains a strong player in romance), I was already epublished in romantic comedy. Those of us who entered epublishing a dozen years ago fully expected the market to take off. But it didn’t. We thought, maybe next year. But it didn’t. We were all about a decade ahead of the market.

Then, when I thought I had exhausted all possibility of publishing this story, I submitted to one last traditional publisher: the now-defunct Five Star Expressions Women’s Fiction and Romance line from the library press, Five Star/Cengage. The library hardcover edition of WHERE SHE BELONGS came out last December (2011). The publisher was not publishing ebooks at the time I signed the contract, which was over a year before the book came out. So the ebook rights belonged to me (along with the audio rights), but I had to wait a year to put the book out in ebook and/or trade paperback. That twelve months was a long wait.

I don’t know why the library-edition version of the book didn’t sell very well (to libraries, I mean. I know the cost of a hardcover edition is prohibitive to many readers), but, so far, it hasn’t. It was the last Contemporary Romance of the Expressions line. So maybe it got lost in the transition to the publisher deciding only to publish mysteries and romantic suspense. Or maybe that’s just how hard hit libraries have been in the last few years.

Whatever the reason, when I factor in that it’s been well over twenty years since I wrote the first draft of this story, all the markets to which I’ve submitted it, the wonderful experience of selling to Five Star/Cengage, and now experiencing what a little discoverability can do for an author, is it any wonder I am in total awe and over the moon to crack a Top 100 Amazon Bestseller list?

Yesterday, I received a box of trade paperback copies of WHERE SHE BELONGS. And they are gorgeous. The trade paperback is beginning to very slowly sell. However, it’s basically just at Amazon right now. As the extended distribution program I’m working with kicks in, the book will begin to emerge at other venues.

Wait! I just checked, and the trade paperback edition of the book is now on the Barnes and Noble website! And it’s on Amazon Canada, too, although through third-party vendors. However, that means it shouldn’t be too long before the book is available from Amazon Canada without going through the third-party vendors. Yoo-hoo! (That means people who order the paperback from Amazon Canada would be able to get free shipping if their combined order is large enough.)

All very exciting!