I am, at heart, an auto-didact (lifetime learner). And this has helped me weather some of the less than sterling reviews of Hired Gun. Despite some of the negative comments, I am maintaining a solid four-star average on reviews and currently have received 88 in total. Here are some of the things I have learned over the past three weeks since rolling out my latest book.
No Happily Ever After = No Romance
I didn’t know. I really didn’t. My only excuse on this is that it never occurred to me to Google the question “Is a book considered a romance if it doesn’t have a happily ever after?” until after a couple of negative reviews started rolling in.
I discuss finding the proper audience below, but it wasn’t as much of a catastrophe as I first thought it might be. There were plenty of romance readers who found my sexy thriller (NOT romantic thriller) interesting and worthy of reading.
I Need to Improve Writing POV
I remember when I first began writing creatively in high school. This was in the Dark Ages when personal computers were not readily available and most document writing took some advanced knowledge of computer programming to accomplish.
In other words, it was all hand-written!
I was incredibly lucky. I attended a small private high school and my teachers (whether it was because they were tired of my complaints, or possibly saw the logic in my argument for practicing instead of just learning theory) allowed me to write creatively instead of plodding through those horrible grammar books.
I say that they saved my life. They really did. I have never forgotten it and always been so grateful. I learned about paragraph breaks, writing dialogue, story construction, and so much more.
And I have continued to learn. While dangling participles still elude me, my lesson on this book was: Stick to one point of view!
After several comments, I realized I had a real problem. It is probably something I will fix soon, because that can be very confusing and distracting for readers.
Better Foreshadowing = Happier Readers
The book description did not explicitly say that there was no Happy Ever After ending, and I also neglected to say that this was the first in a series of seven books that were intertwined and that yes, eventually there might be a happy ending (or even more than one).
I have now changed the book description to read:
Lila Benoit has finally moved into a gorgeous loft and bought a new car. Her work as a data analyst for a prestigious real estate firm is her first “real job” since graduating college. Lila hasn’t broken the law, or witnessed a crime. She’s led a quiet, uneventful life. So why is someone trying to kill her?
Shane Ellis is a hired gun, determined to do his job, and keep his clients alive, no matter who is trying to kill them. Shane lives by and enforces The Code, a strict set of rules that have given his clients the highest survival rate – despite the dangers they have faced. Follow The Code and you stay alive.
But Shane isn’t prepared for Lila, sexy, stubborn, and determined to ignore his rules. And Lila isn’t prepared for what he will do when she breaks each and every one of them.
If you like sexy thrillers that don’t necessarily end in happily ever after…
If you prefer a wild ride filled with suspense, twists and action…
If you are into complicated plots and multiple book series…
Then you really need to start reading Book 1 of the Benton Security Services series today!
“All I can say is wow – what a thrill ride!” – Pamela Mitchell
“Smoking hot with lots of twists and turns.” – JM
“Shuck’s foray into a sexy thriller is long overdue” – Kerrie McLoughlin
Better With Every Book
I am learning and growing with every book I write. Thanks to personal feedback from readers and friends I am reminded to take my time with each book and not rush things. I won’t be doing any more pre-orders on books as a result. The book will be ready when the book is ready, and not a minute before.
Marketing = Finding MY Audience
I was listening to a great podcast the other day. The host was talking about marketing and he pointed out that marketing does not have to be a bad word. For most writers, all we want to do is write. We don’t want to write ad copy, or follow trends, or analyze sales data. We just want to write our stories and share them with others.
But the truth of the matter is, just as we don’t read everything, neither do others. We write (hopefully) what we would enjoy reading and the purpose of marketing is not necessarily to sell our books to everyone, it is to sell our books to those who will enjoy reading the books.
Thus, I continue working on writing ad copy that I would find interesting and want to read.
This is a good thing. If I find an audience who, like me, enjoys my stories, then I will have better reviews as a result. Instead of marketing to a romance audience, if I market to the thriller audience for Hired Gun, things will go smoother!
Back to Basics
With all of the audio rollout, the hours of listening to the words and suggesting changes on four of the five books, I haven’t gotten much writing done.
Couple with that my yearning to garden (I remain as much a gardener as I am a writer) now that the weather allows for such things, I have been thoroughly distracted.
Life is full of multiple priorities, and as usual I struggle with each change to our ever-changing schedule.
I also find myself making lists, and plans, and plotting world domination through massive book production that would only work if I were living alone on a mountaintop and doing nothing but writing, eating and sleeping. And perhaps going light on the eating and sleeping part.
I dream of the day in which I do have 20 or even 30 books published, but I also have to be realistic. And the truth of the matter is, when I focus on writing and producing to the exclusion of the rest of my duties, all I do is get myself stressed out. Nothing happens then – not writing, nor much of anything else.
So, back to the simple task of writing 500 words per day. Over the past three days, I’ve written around 1,300. Not bad when you consider that the first day, it was eight in the evening when I decided to jump back into it.
500 words a day. Every day. More if I want, less if life gets in the way, but the goal will be there – 500 words a day.