Saturday, July 30, 2022

Slow Writing and Herding Cats on the Way to Mordor


Photo by Nikhil Prasad on Unsplash

Before I became a published creative writer, I was an academic author. The academic publishing industry is a different racket–a very lucrative one, in fact. Higher education institutions grant the degrees and pay the salaries of the academics who research and write the papers and books that, in turn, the universities and colleges then buy for their libraries. The Guardian quipped, “It is as if the New Yorker or the Economist demanded that journalists write and edit each other’s work for free, and asked the government to foot the bill.” 

Being used to a safety net, I pursued traditional publishing avenues first and secured a contract with a boutique romance publisher for my paranormal shifter romance series. 

Two ideas anchored my decision. 

The first is that I am a slow writer. I can write reliably and well (I am an English professor, after all), but I need to mull and ponder as I scribble on many, many, many sheets. Adding in my ADHD means that most things in my life take longer than they might for others. My perfectionist tendencies–carefully honed in my academic career–also mean I find it difficult to let go of my work before I have reworked it multiple times. As a result, the 20 books to 50K method is not for me: publishing a book a month, or even every three months, is impossible. I do not mean to disparage anyone who has success with this model. I just know myself and my limits. 

The second is that I want to write books that people will read. In my academic field, I can guarantee that a dozen people will read my latest paper on apocalyptic imagery in the Middle English translation of Catherine of Siena’s revelations, and I have presented papers to thirty or forty people at a time (yes, my field really is that small). With the prospect of reaching hundreds of readers–maybe even more some day?–in mind, I happily pored over Calls for Submissions from smaller publishers as I considered ways to get my foot in the door. I’m not afraid to write to market and I’m used to editors telling me to revise my work, especially if it means my stories will find readers. The experience of working with a traditional publisher is a fantastic way for me, at this stage in my life and writing career, to learn the ropes and reach an audience.

And yet…

I have many friends who are self-published and I hope one day to have the confidence to do this. The shiny prize of higher royalties glimmers out of reach, as I consider all the responsibilities of indie publishing–so many decisions, so many expenses! It seems overwhelming. This is my opinion, for the point I am on my author journey: not only because I have so much to learn, but also because I am still working full time while establishing myself as a creative author.

I took a step in the indie direction by wangling a spot in the FaRo anthology, Once Upon a Forbidden Desire (pre-order available now). The amazing folks of FaRoFeb, led by HR Moore, have put together a fantastic volume, herding 20 author-cats through the entire publication process, from drafting and revisions, to copy-editing and formatting, and then on to publishing, distributing, and marketing the volume. It has truly been a wonder to watch it come together.

Here are two things I’ve learned from this process:

  1. Collaboration is both wonderful and hard. Academic publishing is bossier and simpler: peer reviewers critique papers; editors make decisions about book covers, formatting, and so on; publishers set the schedule and take care of printing, distribution, and marketing. The academic writer is only one cog in the big machine. In contrast, publishing creative work independently means making a lot of decisions oneself. The FaRo anthology team had to balance the experiences and desires of many strong, autonomous women–all of whom had valuable expertise. The skilful negotiation and consensus-building I witnessed revealed the big heart of the group. There was so much curiosity, patience, willingness to listen and learn, and a strong desire to lift everyone up that inspired me to no end. I am grateful to be a part of this group because they make me better–not just a better writer (and having had the honor of copy-editing and proofreading several of the papers allowed me to learn from them), but also a better colleague and author.

  1. Indie publishing is not for the faint of heart. It takes drive, smarts, perspicuity, and persistence to succeed. And that doesn’t include the writing part of the author job. We’ve all heard horror stories of someone who slaps some words on a page, sticks it up on Kindle as a book, and then is surprised that nobody reads it–or that they receive terrible reviews. The authors I know are polar opposites to those boogeymen. The amazing women I worked with on this project spent hours pulling together long-tail keywords lists, creating Instagram images and reels, fixing commas, converting ellipses and correcting other formatting errors, preparing ARC reader forms and blog tours, and so many other tasks that it would astound you if you haven’t been through this yourself. It truly felt like our own Fellowship pulling together to get the Ring–erm, book–to the Mordor of KDP and D2D.

I am grateful to have had these first experiences with both traditional and indie publishing. There is no single response to the question of how and where to publish; there are as many answers as there are authors. All of it is part of your individual journey. 

Remember, this is a long trip and you will learn from every experience you have. Don’t forget to pack your pipe-weed and ask for help from your friends!


Mimi B. Rose

Friday, July 29, 2022

Somewhere in the Middle

I want something that combines the flexibility and speed of self-publishing with the power of a publisher. I mean, traditional publishing was fun while it lasted, but it was so danged slow. I realize I say that as someone who hasn't published anything in awhile. I still have aspirations, y'all. I'd like to pretend I could go faster and pour out a bunch of books. Traditional publishing is just too slow for my tastes. Not to mention that a hearty dose of imposter syndrome convinces me I'll never see another traditional deal again anyway. 

My problem is that I insist on hiring an editor. A good one. I have some bad habits as a writer - I know what I want to say, so what I write makes sense in my head - but it doesn't make sense to anyone else. I need someone objective enough to call me on it every single time. Of course a manuscript is never going to be perfect. Ask me how many typos, missing words, or repeated words I find immediately after a book gets published. I also fully acknowledge that I am not good at book covers. The cover artists I hire always ask for my ideas about covers, then spend the rest of our time telling me why my ideas won't work. This is exactly what I want - someone with far more experience with reader expectations around book covers than I have. It's just -- as a self-publisher who *does* no how to format electronic manuscripts for several different formats -- I've already spent more that $1k of my own cash. I'm also lacking that marketing team to help me focus a 100k word story down to a punchy, pithy sales pitch that helps readers understand at a glance what my stories are about.

As it happens, I've found the perfect for-me compromise. An e-first press. The press used to be called a small press, but Wild Rose Press isn't small. Not anymore. The press releases books across all genres. Their bread and butter is still romance - as it is for so many of us. But they've expanded into so many other markets. I get an editor, a cover artist, someone else handles the formatting, and I get a little much-needed marketing coaching. Are they slower than I could publish myself? Yes. But not by much. If I turn in a book, I'm usually holding a print copy in my hands within 8 months. The great thing is I'm not limited to one line or genre. I can write anything that takes my fancy. I hand it to my editor and she places the story - or tells me straight up that Wild Rose Press can't use the book and I'm free to self-publish it or sub it elsewhere. 

I like the flexibility and the assurance that I have people on my side - who want my books. So far, it's working for me.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Camp Rare-way Publishing

There’s traditional publishing where you work with a publishing house. There’s self-publishing where you’re in control and hire as needed. There’s hybrid where you have books published both trad and self-pub. But, then there’s….me? 

I’ve always been on the traditional publishing track. That model suits my situation and health needs. But when my first book went out on submission it got offers from—audiobook companies. 


Audiobook companies are sort of like traditional publishing? They’re producing the final product. But, they’re sort of like self-publishing? As far as my experience went, I was responsible for all editing (thank you past-self for being so smart and hiring that out), proof reading, final turn in of my manuscript. 

I guess I don’t really know what camp that puts me in. Camp Rareway? 

What it really means is, I can go whichever way I choose. And so can you! There’s benefits in both, some cons in both—do I sense a Rory Gilmore Pro-Con list coming on? But there’s only one way that will fit you perfectly. 

Check out my fellow SFF Sevener’s posts, research the differences in publishing big, small, by yourself, or a combo, then decide what suits you. And don’t let anyone look down on you for your choice. They’re your stories to tell and put out there in your own way. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Hybrid Life for Me!


ROGUE'S POSSESSION is now out!! 

This release dovetails nicely with this week's topic. We're asking, Traditional publishing, self-publishing or a fusion of the two. What works best for you?

This particular book is the second book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, which were originally traditionally published ten years ago! Those were my first fantasy romances and I was elated that Carina Press took a chance on my cross-genre novels. I went on to publish ten books in total with them. I've also done three traditionally published series with Kensington and one with St. Martin's Press.

I like trad publishing. Having a team working on my books is a great feeling, as is not having to front the money.


As soon as I could get the rights back on these books, I did, and now I'm self-publishing them. The major reason? I'll make a lot more money selling them myself.

A secondary reason: by controlling the series, I have more options to discount book one, a potent marketing technique trad-pubbing doesn't allow.

A third, but super validating reason? At last I can give these books the covers they deserve!! I love these covers, designed by the incredibly talented Ravven, so much!

So, as you may have concluded, I'm falling in the "fusion of the two" category. Being a hybrid author gives me the best of both worlds. I aim to continue doing it that way. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Trad, Indie, or Hybrid?

Where the books are: traditional publishing, self-publishing, or a fusion of the two.
What works best for me?

Welp, I have eight books that I've self-published, so that's working best for me right now. I love that I'm in control of most aspects including my schedule (okay, I'm in control of 90% of my schedule), the art, and the content. I dislike the relentless marketing spend.

I don't eschew traditional publishing. I'm not in the Indie or Die! camp. My supply and major houses' demand haven't synced yet. With trad publishing, I think there are advantages in gaining reader reach. However, there are disadvantages not only in process but also in cash-in-hand. 

I imagine being hybrid published is ideal, but since I haven't walked that road, I'll defer to my fellow bloggers who have. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

In a Name

This is a photo (through glass) of an archeological site in Galway. The stones are the 12th century foundation of a castle found under several shops in Galway. It's called The Hall of the Red Earl. How's that for a name? Does it not evoke a bit of Game of Thrones?

The name has power. It's almost its own question - who was this Red Earl and *why* was he red? Also, who named him the Red Earl?

I ask that last because naming something claims that something. Names are ownership. We own our names and become our names in some weird synergistic fashion so that they own us. I can only illustrate what I mean by saying that I have never told anyone not to shorten my name. I've never told anyone not to call me Marcie. And yet no one does. One single person in my life asked if he could. I shrugged and said he could try. It lasted three days. Then he reverted to using my full name. Marcella. And he came to me and asked how I'd known. It's because if you've ever met me in person, you *know* I'm not a Marcie. It just does not fit. I don't look like a Marcie. Apparently, I don't act like a Marcie and here we are. I don't know why this is true, but it is. There's a difference between Jennifer and Jennie. Or between Anthony and Tony. This may be a long way of saying that I'm weird about names. I need character names to be *right*. If they aren't, I can't operate. This is the curse of the character-driven writer. Fortunately, I have options.

1. The weird roller coaster that is the inside of my head. When I have a character who needs a name, I usually start with a feeling and an initial sound. I usually know if I need a name to sound soft or hard or heartless or cold. From there, I already have a feel for whether the name should begin with a vowel or a consonant. How many syllables comes next. If there's an ethnicity I'm attempting to convey, that plays into shaping whatever name I concoct. This is to say that I make shit up. Sometimes what I make up equates to an official name that exists in our world. Sometimes it doesn't - as far as I can tell. This is my preferred means of coming with names because it makes me sit with the character and begin to become acquainted with their unique voice. That voice is associated with name and that voice is my key into the story. Win/win.

2. Baby name websites. If I'm coming up empty or I need a name that means something specific, I will resort to baby name sights with the full knowledge that my social media ads are gonna get really weird and off target for awhile. I like the sites that let me look at names based on their meanings. The thing that chaps me about them, though, is their insistence on gendering words. That's probably a me thing. But yes. I will occasionally use a name site to prompt me.

3. Video games. Especially MMOs. I pay attention to other player characters in the games I play. I watch their names. Most are d@ngrboi3 or something. But a few people put real thought into names. NPCs sometimes have interesting names. I pay attention to credits to movies and TV shows, watching for names to add to my running prompt list. It's nothing super official - a running list of names I jot down in a Word doc and keep in a file. I listen to the Latin names of species - flowers, insects, animals. Some of those offer up evocative sound combinations that can be tweaked for story use.

None of this even touches on the power of names or the notion that if you know the true name of a thing, you have power over that thing. But for me, when I'm naming characters, it's true. Without being able to name my characters, I have no power. Without power, I have no story.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Jeffe's Top Three Resources for Names

ROGUE'S POSSESSION, Book #2 in my Covenant of Thorns Dark Fantasy Romance trilogy, is out in a week! It's been so fun to see readers rediscover this first series of mine.

This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking Naming Resources: Your top 3 sources for choosing names of characters, places, etc. Here are mine:

1. Jeffe's Big List of Names

I keep a list. A spreadsheet (of course! for those who know me) that I add to any time I encounter a name I really like. I save them for important characters. One #protip: there are few disappointments greater than discovering you squandered a really good name on a throwaway secondary character. Save those names for someday!
2. Behind the Name is a great resource that lets you search for names in all sorts of ways. There's also a surname version, for those tricksy family names. 

3. Relevant Dictionaries

I also use archaic language dictionaries for whatever language family I'm using for a given world or realm within a world. These are easy to search for online, then look up word meanings and cobble together names from there.
Names are always important in my books - it's one of my themes - so I'm almost always choosing them for their underlying meaning. Something to look for!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Insert Name Here: 3 Resources

Naming Resources:
Top 3 resources for choosing names of characters, places, etc.

For the names that don't just pop into my head, I have lots of rabbit holes to tumble down. Today, I'll share three of my most frequently used resources.

1. 20,000 Names: Back in the days of narrowband (if you're too young to know what that was, get off my lawn!) this site came into being...along with its ads, so run an adblocker if you're going to spend time here. It hasn't been updated and probably never will be. Still, it has names by region, language, fantasy categories, meaning, and genders (it predates gender inclusivity, so the names are male, female, or unisex). 

2. IMDB: Full Cast & Crew Listings: Oh sure, we all know the big names from our favorite TV shows or movies, but not too many of us stay to watch the full credits. The cast and crew list is a gold mine for naming. I don't straight lift a name, mind, but I do mix. 

3. Google Translate (among other translation sites): When it comes to locations or monsters, I use translation site(s) to look up a keyword that describes the place or thing, then I scroll through the assorted language options until a result catches my fancy. I try not to make phrases because #TranslationFail is real and often hilarious. If I ever get called out for this approach, I will accept my shaming. 

General Guidance: Before naming something--from the book title to a backwater town--do a generic web search on that name. It'll minimize the odds of you naming your hero after a serial killer or your ivory tower after a dung heap. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

What's In a Name?


Hi all! This week's topic at the SFF Seven is Naming Resources: Our top 3 sources for choosing names of characters, places, etc. I'll get right to it.

  1. My brain: The old noodle is my #1 resource. Names are weird for me, because I almost always hear them in dialogue in my head, or a character will say the name of a place I didn't know going unto the drafting process. When I was building City of Ruin, I typed up to the point that I needed a temple name, and that chapter's POV character, the Prince of the East, provided what I needed: Min-Thuret. I needed a city name too, and as the Prince of the East was leaving Min-Thuret's Rite Hall, he called the city Quezira. And thus, that part of the world was born. It's as difficult and simple as that.
  2. Fantasy Name Generator: Sometimes I get stuck, and FNG can help stir my brain. There are so many options on this site though that it can be overwhelming for me, so I don't usually stay long. Instead, I read through a few list generations and let sounds guide me. I keep a naming list for each book so that I don't begin too many names with the same letter or sound.
  3. Old name registries: You can Google just about anything, including old church/parish registries, travel logs, and common surnames of any particular time and place. When I'm writing historical fantasy, I use these methods so that the names are historically accurate. 
Bonus: Behind the Name. This is a great website for historical naming and just to peruse to get your brain working on a name. It provides the etymology and history of first names.

I hope this helps!! Good luck and happy writing!

~ Charissa

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Bad Reviews and Rejections


Is there anything worse than seeing that dreaded one star review appear below your book? Or get that dreaded “No” in the mail? 

For authors, I don’t think there are many things that are worse than rejection. We spend months or maybe even years on our manuscripts, polish them up, read them countless times, put beautiful covers on them and send them out into the world. 

And then...

We wait. For some authors, the wait is short. For others, it is excruciatingly long. 

Seconds slip by into minutes, which somehow become days. And then, it happens. 

Someone, somewhere in the world, has read the book. And they decided it just wasn’t for them. 

It has taken me a long time to realize that part of being an author is recognizing that not everyone is going to appreciate or enjoy our art. That’s just the way it is. Art is subjective, and no matter what we write, it won’t make everyone happy. 

Still, knowing that we will receive bad reviews is very different from actually experiencing the reality of someone taking the work we’ve spent countless hours on, and saying it is garbage. I wish I could tell you that as an author, you won’t ever get a bad review or a rejection. But I’d be lying to you. The terrible truth is, you will. We all will. I have, and I will again. 

How we choose to cope with them is up to us. 

First, let me say this: Never, ever engage reviewers. 

Especially not bad reviews. It will never end well. 

This is the golden rule. 

Do not engage reviewers. 

Reviews are not for authors. They are for readers. I know that sometimes we get a bad review that makes us itch and we want to say, “But wait! That’s wrong! You just didn’t understand ____.” 

But believe me. Any type of answer is the wrong one. You can, and probably will, make the situation far worse by replying to the reviewer. Don’t do it. Do not engage them. 

Just don’t. Please. If you take nothing else away from this, take that with you. Don’t reply to reviews. They aren’t meant to be personal, and they are almost always directed at the work, not the author. 

Remember this: whether it was a bad review or a rejection, it means your art was not a good fit with that particular reader. It doesn’t mean it was bad. It just wasn’t the right fit. 

When we get that one star review or that rejection (God forbid they show up on the same day), we have a choice to make. Are we going to let this rule our lives and destroy our productivity for the day (I’ve definitely done this), or are we going to try to be adults about it? 

While I’ve been guilty of choosing option A, there are much better and more productive ways to tackle bad reviews and rejections. Here are a few things that I personally find helpful. 

Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to not ever look at reviews. Right? That would make sense. If you don’t see them, you don’t have to do that. If you are able to do that, I applaud you. 

If you’re anything like me, however, common sense falls to the wayside when you want to see what people are saying about your book. In that case, read on, fellow author. 

  1. Cuss a little. There are no rules saying you can’t do this. In fact, I find it helps. Get it out of your system. In private. Without anyone watching. Call the reviewer all the bad names you want and walk away. Take a break. Give yourself time to heal. 
  2. Since you’ve already gone ahead and looked at reviews, take a look at some of those good ones. Copy them. Print them out. Frame them. Just because your work wasn’t the right fit for that dreaded one star reviewer doesn’t mean it’s bad. Other people probably think it’s amazing! Take that to heart. 
  3. If you really need to write something out in response, do it on a piece of paper and then burn it. Don’t let that response see the light of day. But get it out of your system. 
  4. Go look up your favorite book on amazon and read some of their one star reviews. Every book has them, it’s just a matter of time. 
  5. Remember why you write. Everyone’s story is a little different, but we all have that reason. Let that be the driving force behind everything you do. Let it push you. 

And then—and this is the really important part—dust yourself off. Get back on the proverbial horse. 

Don’t let a bad review or a rejection stop you from pursuing your dream. Let it be a learning experience and grow from it. 

You are stronger than a bad review or a rejection. 

Happy writing, friends! 

Elayna R. Gallea is an author of young adult dystopian novels and new adult fantasy romance novels. She lives in beautiful New Brunswick, Canada with her husband and two kids. She is an avid true-crime lover, and in her spare time, she eats copious amounts of chocolate and cheese. If Elayna isn't reading and writing, she can probably be found watching The Food Network. Elayna and her husband have dogs and cats and enjoy touring their beautiful province whenever they can.

You can find her at:

Friday, July 15, 2022

Reviews, Rejections, and Other Opinions

You want to know how I handle rejections, critical reviews, and other opinions? The facial expression of this photo of me in Ireland (at a 14th century monastery ruin) pretty much covers it. "Whaddya mean NO?"

Yes. You're going to get a lot of Ireland photos for the next couple of weeks cause I came home with 200+ and frankly, there's jack all to take photos of around here in the sweltering heat where everything and everyone is just melted. 

Listen. I don't know what it is about my make up - or my particular mental dysfunction - but most of the time, rejection and shitty reviews don't get me down. I've got a mental filing system for rejections and bitey reviews. 

First file: Crooked photocopy rejections and rubber band rejections. These are the easiest to blow off. They're meaningless rejections. These are the ones that come in so fast or so anonymously that it's obvious no one read my material. These aren't rejections. These are cries for help. Whoever sent them is so overwhelmed, they've closed to submissions without saying they closed to submissions. No problem. That's not really a rejection. They never even looked at the baby to tell me it's ugly.

Second file: Whiny one stars. These are the reviews people leave on a book that make me laugh and/or wonder aloud if they actually read the book I wrote. The second cousin to that review is the one star that whines 'man, this is nothing new or interesting why does everyone else like it?' Both of these reviews say more about the people leaving them than they do about my writing or story. Again. Easy to blow off (or leverage for a reverse psychology advertising campaign in you're into that sort of thing.) The first one is pitiable and the second is whining because their 'nothing new or interesting why does everyone like it' cry is code for 'I had an idea like this! How dare you write it!' Ask me how I know that and I'll show you the story I started in 8th grade (and never finished) that sounds a whole lot like the movie ET that came out a few years later and was a far better story anyway.

Third file: Rejection with cause. Critical reviews with specifics. NOW we're getting into the daggers to the heart. These rejections and reviews come from editors/readers who obviously read my work and read it thoughtfully. They've identified problems or issues I failed to address or that I hoped no one would catch. Occasionally, someone will catch something I was entirely blind to in a story. I'm pissy about the first and grateful for the second. I get het up about having issues and problem identified *when I knew about the issues and ignored them* - but note. I'm not mad at the person who called me out. I'm mad at me for thinking I could get away with it. Dumb move, author. For the people who call out issues I didn't see, I still get mad at me for not seeing it, but I'm grateful to having my eyes opened to it so I can fix it. It's possible I give myself a 24 hour pity party after it all hits before I have to adult up and fix my mess.

Fourth file: This one stings, y'all. This is BIG pain. Rewrite on spec and STILL get a reject. Not winning contests when a story finals goes in this folder, too. This one is when an editor asks for revisions on spec - they're asking for work with no guarantee that they'll acquire when that work is done. Of course I have to take the chance. I'm going to invest that time and that energy knowing that it may still not be good enough. It's that sunk cost that hurts when I feel like I got SO close (both in edits and in a contest) only to have what feels like the prize yanked from my fingers at the last second. Of course the 'prize', whether statue or contract, was never mine to begin with, but dang if my fingertips didn't brush if just for a second. The other tough aspect here is that when a rejection finally comes or a book doesn't win a content, there's no why. Typically, the editor won't go into reasons why the rewrite didn't hit the mark. They just say, 'not going to work for us. Good luck.' and contents say nothing at all. That twists the rejection knife becuase there's no clear action I could take to make my writing better. Again, I'm allowed to sulk like I'm three. But only for so long. Then to get past this, I have to turn my eye and my thoughts to what's next - the next goal, the next target, the next whatever it is. 

I suspect, for me, that having a new goal to move toward is the secret to recovering from rejection. I need activity - some new shiny to chase. I do have to give myself space to wallow in messy reaction. Based on my brain, I know that I have to sit with something emotionally loaded for 24 hours before the gears will shift. When those gears shift, ideas start rolling. The 'what if' thinking starts up - it's like having a relentless five-year-old in my head throwing "What if this happened? What if that happened? What if we . . .?" At that point, I'm not longer focused on the rejection. I'm focused on solution. Which may include getting spiteful and saying, "Fine. Your loss. I'll self-puh."

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Dealing With Rejections

image of Alexia's car screen stating: System Off to Save Battery

Whew—this was a difficult post to write.  

As an author, you’re signing yourself up for rejections on so many levels. Querying for an agent=rejections. Submissions to publishing houses=rejections. New story ideas to agent/publisher=rejections. And then there’s bad reviews that will come no matter which publishing path you choose. 

I’m not a negative person. I’ve always purposefully looked for the bright side and believed I could get through anything with the right mindset. And after going through some dark valleys, I still believe this is true. 

I didn’t write for a little over a year, as far as book writing goes, because of rejection. Well, that and my own body chemistry that sent me into depression. When your body can’t filter out the junk, it builds up and causes multiple systems to malfunction. And when you’re trying to write and all your brain registers is negativity, it builds up and clouds your ability to create. 

Rejection of any form can be hard, especially when it comes from a trusted source, from a place where support is supposed to come from. If you’re living this, my heart goes out to you. Jeffe did a podcast about rejections and thick-skin a while ago, but it’s still a good one that may be a benefit. And maybe some of my experience will be able to help you.

How to deal with Author Rejection/Negativity:

Number One—and it seriously only has to be one—is to find support

Support=people who believe in you. 

Some authors find support in a writing group, some in a writing buddy. Others find it in their partner, a coach, an online friend, a fan, or a bestie. There’s no limit to where you can find support, but when your brain tells you you’re terrible and wasting your time putting words on the page, you need a genuine cheerleader to give you a lift up. 

Second: Be Kind to Yourself.

Such simple words that hold a universe of challenges. Being kind to yourself will be different for everyone. For me, I had to stop piling on more negativity when I wouldn’t be able to write. I had to stop myself from wallowing in the pit. Count Rugen may have designed one specifically for Wesley, but our brains are even more malevolent when it comes to trapping our own potential. 

And to do that I learned, and am still working on, how to meditate and do resonant breathing (huge source of my health issues is my body being stuck in fight-or-flight mode and both of these are tools to help break the cycle and move into rest-and-digest mode).


Rejection stings. Bad reviews, if you read them or are oh-the-horror tagged in them, sting. Edit letters, sting. But the best way to deal with them is to give yourself time. Step away and meditate, let your furry sidekick distract you, anything that can give your brain time to digest and set aside the negativity. 

If you’re in the pit and don’t have anyone to lend you a hand, reach out. I know, it’s not easy. Trust me, I know. But one of the wonderful things about being a writer is knowing that there are gobs of other writers out there that have been and are going through the same thing, and many of them are more than happy to reach out. Trust me, you’ve got this.

Some links if you’re curious:

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Romance Readers Auction for Reproductive Rights


Since we all deserve the right to choose our #HEA, 
join me Monday 7/11 thru Friday 7/15 

  • 90+ items from signed print books to web chats to chapter critiques
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Yes, you can even bid on the first three Immortal Spy *signed* print books by moi (ships to US and APO addresses only).

Charissa's pulse-pounding fantasy romance the Witch Collector in hardback is also being auctioned, so stop by today!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Finances for Authors


[I'm going to preface this blog entry by stating that I am not a financial professional. I am not a certified financial planner, and this is not official advice. I am also located in the United States, so any references to taxes or the like may not apply to you in your own country. Please do your own due diligence.]


Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about everybody's favorite topic…finances. Specifically, what happens when that book you published goes live and you start receiving those tasty, tasty royalty checks. 

You just got paid. Yay! But…now what?

I look at my being an author as being truly self-employed. I am running my own company of one. I spend probably only half my time as an author writing, and the other half is broken up between social media, administrative tasks, and finances. Tracking how much I spend, where, and on what, has become a major part of my daily routine.

Here are a couple of pieces of info that I wish I had been given, so I hope some of them might be useful to you. But first, I want to explain a few words and abbreviations I'm going to throw around that might be new to you:

Gross: How much you made overall.

Net: How much you actually got to keep.

P&L: Profit and loss. Basically, how much you make and how much you lose. 

ACOS: Advertising Cost Of Sales. In order to make a dollar, how much of that dollar went to marketing?

Let's dive in!


It's important to track your income and expenses! First, all the money you spend to make money as an author can be subtracted from your income as a business expense. This includes marketing, supplies, editing, covers, proofing, postage, and yes, even commissioned artwork.

I know, I know, you're probably a writer because you suck at math. That's okay. You don't need to be good at it. But luckily, free software like Google Sheets can do 90% of the work for you, and are a great and easy resource for tracking these kinds of things.

Hopefully, you'll never be audited. But if you are, you'll need all that documentation. Keep track of every purchase and every royalty check. I keep a fairly ridiculous spreadsheet where I track probably far more things than I need to. You can keep a shoebox with notes, it doesn't matter. Just keep it somewhere.


Every morning I look at my ad spend from the previous day, and balance it against the (estimated) income I've made. I then do some simple math: 

Gross Income - Ad Spend = Net Income. I then use that net income and divide it against the gross income to create my ACOS percent. AKA: What percentage of my gross income was spent on sales? 10%? 50%? 75%?

As to how much you should spend on your ads, it's entirely up to you and your goals. I threw money at my series when I was starting out and trying to get a foothold. But now, my stomach for "overspending" is weaker, and I tend to be more conservative. Especially if I think a series is in danger of not landing, and therefore not selling. 

Too many times I've dumped money on advertising and then realized the series wasn't ever going to make it back. Now, by tracking it regularly, I can keep an eye on things and twist the valves as much or as little as I need to.

But maybe you really want to spend a lot. Or maybe you want to spend nothing. That's totally your decision, just keep an eye on it either way.

Also budget in how much you want to spend on other things: like blog tours, discount ad runs, and commissioned artwork. It adds up and it can add up fast.

Now, let's talk about the other big place an author's income goes that you should pay attention to…


Yep, that's right. 

You just got a healthy chunk of cash from royalties! Yay! Now, guess what? You have to pay a bunch of that to the government now. Both at the state and federal level. If you make over $600.00 a year, you have to pay these taxes on a quarterly basis. If you don't, you get slapped with a fine at the end of the year.

So it's important to remember that whatever money you've just made from a royalty check, a whole bunch of that is already earmarked to go elsewhere. Do not forget to include your estimated taxes when you build a budget for yourself.

How much you have to pay depends on what tax bracket you're in, and also how much your state charges for income taxes. Both of those vary wildly per person, so I won't bother including any specific numbers. But just remember that you pay your income taxes from your NET income, not your gross. Basically:

Gross Income - Business Expenses (whatever they are) = Net Income. Take a percentage of that net income for federal tax, and then whatever your state tax is, and then pocket that away to pay every 2-3 months. (You can pay your estimated taxes online, it's free and super easy.)

A Quick Bonus

One last quick financial factoid I discovered recently might be helpful to you: you can create a 401k for yourself as an author! 

It's called a "solo 401k", and it's designed for a sole-proprietor (such as yourself) to use some of your self-employed income to create a retirement fund for yourself. The details of this are complicated, but I set mine up in an afternoon. 

If you're interested in saving for a retirement fund, this is a great way to do it–and most people don't have access to this option. (And you can also do it if you also have a 401k through a day job!)


That's just a glimpse into the kinds of things I try to keep an eye on when I’m thinking about finances as an author. Remember:

Track every penny that goes in and out.

Keep an eye on your budget.

Don't forget you need to pay taxes.

Happy accounting, everyone!

Kathryn Ann Kingsley

As an USA Today Bestselling Author and award-winning designer, Kat has always been a storyteller. She delights in spinning stories of the sweetest nightmares to delight her readers with her unique twist of horror and romance.

With ten years in script-writing for performances on both the stage and for tourism, she has always been writing in one form or another. When she isn’t penning down fiction, she works as Creative Director for a company that designs and builds large-scale interactive adventure games. There, she is the lead concept designer, handling everything from game and set design, to audio and lighting, to illustration and script writing. 

Also on her list of skills are artistic direction, scenic painting and props, special effects, and electronics. A graduate of Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Design, she has a passion for unique, creative, and unconventional experiences. In her spare time, she builds animatronics and takes trapeze classes.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Making the Monetary Climb

These are the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. This particular stretch of rock you're looking at were the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride. Yes. There's a reason I'm using this photo to talk about author finances. 

It's because most of us have to start at zero income and slowly, painfully climb hand over hand up the sheer face of publishing in an attempt to reach some magical monetary number that will mean 'success' to us. 

The main issue for conquering author finances is knowing what that number is. It can't necessarily be arbitrary. Far too many of us are going to be sorely disappointed if we pick a million dollars out of thin air. We're probably going to fall from the rocks. 

What you want is a formula. And a plan. I can't hand you either. But maybe I can help you build your own.


  • What's your current monthly income from all sources? (Yes, factor in the birthday and holiday money, even if you never apply that to bills. If you are in a family that has more than one income, factor in the other incomes helping support the family unless you've been told you can't do that.)
  • What's your monthly outgo? (It's super helpful to take a year+ and factor in all the insurance premiums and emergencies - car break downs, new tires, veterinary emergencies, emergency trips to ailing parents, etc, and then break that down into a monthly amount - this way you build an emergency cushion into the budgeting that will accommodate emergencies.)
  • Decide on your drop deads - can you cancel the cable? Or other subscriptions? Reduce eating out? Where are you willing to shift quality of life in order to save some cash?

You now have an idea of how much money you'll need on a monthly basis to sustain a reasonable quality of life and keep the creditors at bay. You may also be depressed at this point. That's fair, but with this information, you can begin building a plan for how many books how often. You'll begin the climb up the face of that income goal. Does this mean that you'll join me in being bummed out every time you get a raise at the day job because the goalpost shifted? Only if you're not banking that income as a base for when you decide you've built your monthly author income to the point that you're ready to take the leap of leaving the day job entirely. Spoiler alert: With a solid savings account, you don't have to match your current day job income exactly before you bail. Depending on your risk tolerance, naturally. You merely have to close the gaps between reduced household expenses, all other sources of income, and your writing income. A year of gap closing with savings seems reasonable to me - you'll have to pick a time frame/risk vs reward scenario that works for your family.

It's also at this point, before you jump the day job ship, that you want to revisit your formula and add in author expenses - editors, book cover designers, ads, and whatever else you need to build a business. It may put off leaving a day job. Better that than finding yourself six months out having to scramble to find a new day job because the money got away from you.

Is any of this fun?


It's a climb. But it is one anyone with determination and a plan can make.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

MYOB - How Much Do You Know About Author Finances?


ROGUE'S PAWN is out now! This first book in my original Covenant of Thorns trilogy has been re-released with gorgeous new covers. Look for book 2 coming July 26 and book 3 releasing August 16. 


This week at the SFF Seven we're MYOB - Minding your own business! 

Seriously, we're taking a long look at how we manage the financial side of being an author. There tends to be a wide range of strategies for managing author finances. As all authors are primarily creatives (with the small exception of the widget-makers who hire ghost writers to write for them, which is another kettle of stinky fish), not all possess the inclination to crunch numbers and balance accounts.

In truth, while I think all authors should have a thorough understanding of what they should be earning, not everyone needs to be a financial guru of their own writing career. In truth, the most comfortable place for an author - or perhaps any creative - to be is independent of the need to make money doing it. This, of course, requires either family money (marrying money counts) or a spouse with a great salary and benefits. In these cases, writing money is all "gravy" and I know many authors in this position who don't really track that income.

The major downside of this model is it means traditional publishing has favored those with this privilege and also takes shameless advantage of these authors. There can be a lot of funky tickling of the financials, both from publishing houses and literary agencies. Believe me: I've seen it.

Learn to read your royalty statements and hold those who handle your earnings accountable.

The flip side is if you're like me - someone who is supporting their household with writing income. This is the other extreme, where ALL finances are author finances. I track everything scrupulously, to the point of using mathematical models to predict my future income. That's the thing about writing income: it's super unpredictable. Sales wax and wane, often due to reasons beyond anyone's control. Traditional publishing pays quarterly if you're lucky and semi-annually otherwise. There's almost no way to predict what those checks will look like, so I end up behaving like the privileged writer as above - I treat my trad income as gravy.

Self-publishing income is what allows me to pay the bills with writing. That money comes in monthly and, because I can access my sales dashboards in real time, I can reasonably predict how much money will come in. The downside of self-publishing is that the author fronts the investment. KAK covered a lot of the nitty-gritty of self-publishing costs yesterday. Most self-publishing authors can implement the simple math of outflow vs. inflow. That is, what you pay to produce and market the book should be less than the money you make from it. Where it gets into higher math is managing that income so that you can cover the costs of being alive. 

With a salaried job, or even hourly income, the basic budgeting model is to figure your monthly income, subtract your expenses, and the rest is "disposable," meaning you can spend it on stuff you want vs. the stuff you need. But with a fluctuating monthly income, this simply isn't possible. 

So, my basic model is to try to keep enough money in savings to pay for two months of expenses should I have zero income in any given month. (Which hopefully will never happen, knock on wood. My backlist is substantial at this point, so the baseline backlist income is relatively steady.) Once I have that in place, I can pay for some of the things that make us happy. This is VERY important. It's tempting to confine oneself only to needs and funnel any "extra" money back into growing the business. This works okay for a while, but it gets soul-crushing over time. We work hard; we must also play hard. Anything else is unsustainable.

As a creative, maintaining your joy in the work is key!

From my initial announcement, you'll see I'm also republishing some of my trad-pubbed books. I did ten books with Carina Press and now have the rights back to all of them. Those royalties came in quarterly, so I'm eager to see how my income on those books changes for me. So far I only have ROGUE'S PAWN up again. Republishing meant paying for covers and formatting, so a bit of investment on my part. Hopefully it will pay off.

As with all businesses, writing for a living requires a lot of hoping for that pay off. Being smart about crunching those numbers provides the reality. A balance of both is best. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Financial Costs of Authorhood

This week's topic: Minding Your Business:
 How I Manage the Financial Side of Being an Author

The downside of being an indie author is that all the upfront financing comes Upside, I don't have additional layers of people with whom I share my royalties like a trad-published author would (no agents or publishing houses taking a percentage).

Now that I have eight books selling on leading retail sites, I have a fair idea of production and distribution costs. 

  • Art can range from as little as $300 to as much as $5,000+. 
    • There's an extra $200-$400 for social media and advertising art bundles. 
    • Buying art may not include cover design (aka fonts, wraps, lettering, etc.). You might need to hire a designer in addition to the artist.
  • Editing costs fluctuate with wordcount and the editor chosen. I've paid an average of $1,000 for 85k-word books and $3,500 for a 125k-word book. No, that's not a math failure, that's a difference in the per-word rate charged by different editors.
    • Choosing the right editor(s) for your work is a topic for a different post. 
  • Formatting for ebook and paperback is something I outsource. That's a couple hundred.
    • While it's worth every sanity-saving penny to me, I am limited to what changes I can make in the future without incurring additional costs. Pro and con there.
  • Production costs for print books and distribution costs for ebooks are higher the more graphics included in the novel. 
    • In addition to a royalty share, digital distributors charge for file size.  
    • Sure, I'd love to pepper artwork throughout the book, but that gets pricey fast.

Easy to see why indie authors may choose to pre-fund a novel via Kickstarter or Patreon, right? And the costs outlined above don't include the hours (aka months/years) spent writing the novel. 

I have not gotten into audiobooks because the upfront costs are too much compared to the odds of recouping those costs, much less generating net revenue. Good narrators are worth every penny. Bland or AI-generated narrators will chase away customers. Expect to pay for quality production (which should be part of the narrarator's cost-per-finished-hour rate), but don't expect this format to become your sales leader (compared to ebook or print). Yes, some narrators accept royalty-share payments, but that's not recommended for either party. A web search will provide many horror stories of why.

Advertising is a relentless money-eating monster. Welcome to the world of small business where making consumers aware that your product a) exists and b) is worth the purchase is critical. Sadly, there is no One Magical Success Formula. Unlike book production costs, advertising costs are ongoing and subject to constant fluctuations. ROI is a BFD and it must be monitored regularly to minimize losses. There are authors who spend thousands a month on advertising, and I am...not one of them. It's not in my budget to pay more for advertising than I do for my mortgage, health insurance, or total monthly cost of living. My income simply doesn't allow for it. 

Side note: Do not take out a personal loan for the sake of advertising (yes, it happens).  

How do I manage these finances? Basic math. Income - cost of living - splurges/savings/crises - book production costs - advertising budget. I use Excel to budget and track monthlies and YOY, though Quicken for Small Business is likely to come on the scene soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

That Author Life

This week's topic at the SFF Seven is about how we manage our author business. This can get detailed, so I'll cover the basic organizational methods I use.

One thing I notice when chatting with newer authors is that many don't grasp that they are a small business. An entirely new way of thinking about yourself as an author and a brand AND the way you present and sell your product (your books) has to happen, and the methods used are often very different from writer to writer. Because everyone is going to run their business in their own way. It can help to get some tips, though, so you can see what works best for you.

For me, being an author requires days filled with nothing but accounting, mailing items to readers/influencers/etc, sending and replying to emails, and managing my online social presence and Etsy store, among many other things that don't equate to writing words. Thankfully, I've been in the writing world for over a decade and I've sat in on dozens of workshops and panels where these things have been discussed. So prior to this year when my publishing career truly began, I at least had an idea of what to expect, even if the reality hit way harder than I ever dreamed.

If you follow me at all, you know I'm a planner. I'm not sure how anyone can have a business without some sort of business plan and outlook, as well as proper record keeping. Here's a list of some of the things I do to keep track of everything:

1) I created a 5 year plan and broke it down into yearly and quarterly goals that can be adjusted as needed. 

2) I keep a Goal spreadsheet and update it every month-end and quarter. These goals include all my relevant social media numbers (Insta, TikTok, FB group, FB page, Bookbub), Goodreads review count, Goodreads adds, Amazon review numbers, newsletter count, money earned, books sold, and total Etsy sales. I can see the growth for the past 8 months at a glance. It's very informative, motivating, and keeps me focused on where I need to put a little more attention in order to meet my goals.

3) I keep Expense spreadsheets. This part became super intense really fast. I would've had an utter disaster on my hands come tax time had I not started keeping a record of all the expenses of my business. This includes everything from office supplies to character art to Etsy store supplies to necessary subscriptions/memberships and shipping costs. There's so much to track, so I have sheets for several things. I did an event recently and I put all my expenses in a spreadsheet labeled for that particular event. Next year, when I have more than one event, I'll create an Event Sheet. It would probably terrify most people to see the amount of spreadsheets I keep, but all I have to do at tax time is send my CPA my info and my taxes get done. The more organized I am on the front end, the easier things are on the back end.

4) I keep an Income-Earned spreadsheet. I do this by quarters that are broken into individual months since I get paid by my publisher quarterly. However, I have Etsy income as well as editing income, so those totals go in their respective months every month-end.

5) I use Expensify to store receipts. I cannot do clutter, so I don't keep paper receipts. 

6) I keep digital and printed copies of all contracts in proper folders.

7) I'm working on adding my author business info into my will and our family trust.

This is just an overview of things that I can think of off the top of my head. I hope, if you're looking for info on what to do as a new writer, that this helps. This side of the author life can be overwhelming, so my best advice, as always, is to get organized.

Happy writing!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Author drama - is it idiocy or a PR campaign?


Idiocy. There, I've said it. When an author (or anyone, for that matter) creates drama for any purpose, PR or otherwise, I question their sanity.

Drama might seem fun, entertaining and diverting, but someone always ends up getting hurt. As the person creating the drama, there's a good chance it'll be you. Or you and others. So, if you create drama to create sales, sure, go have a party if that’s what you need, but remember, it says a lot about you (and money doesn't make you happy … although, it will buy you the therapy you’re going to need).

I guess it might be a good idea to lay out some of the drama found in authoring circles. In my limited experience - because I actively try to stay out of it - author drama includes:

Using trigger warnings as a marketing tool
Picking an argument with a reader or other author online
Making a public plagiarism accusation
Piling on in controversial topics that are trending, especially regarding big name authors, to gain exposure, or just for fun

And while we're on the topic of piling on, for me, that's the one that makes it all so deplorable (and a 
horrible time sink). Others will jump aboard the drama train, because, well, who doesn't love a bit of gossip? Especially when it's to do with someone we’ve seen in a video once or twice, but don't know, so if we talk shit about them on the internet, it doesn't really matter. I've never actually read the book we're all slamming, but who cares? I can feel the buzz … the endorphin release … for I am part of the mob, and we are righteous in our cancel culture. Ooh, what fun.

But the thing is, those people that you kinda know, but don’t know? They may have done absolutely nothing to put themselves in the fray. And regardless of how outwardly rich, or successful, or self-confident a person may appear to be, nothing about their composition as a human changed when they became famous, their book began to sell, or the numbers in their bank balance increased. They too get that gut-punch feeling when their world falls apart. They too wonder if that dress makes their ass look the size of a small continent. Everyone goes on the internet, and, shockingly, success is not a barrier against … well … anything really. And nor is confidence a shield. Not that it’s only successful and confident people who get caught up in the drama (I’m looking at you, people who forced a teenaged girl off TikTok because she dared to publish a harmony some deemed ‘an abomination’. I actually quite liked it).

Don't get me wrong, PR is a key part of being an author. The market is crowded, and it's a tough business to be in. Authors have to put themselves out there and seek opportunities to find readers, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line. But sinking into the quagmire of attacking another human being on the internet is, if you ask me, less authoring, and more mean-kids-in-the-playground.

Even if it starts small, drama is impossible to control. Once something's out there, it's out there, and often takes on a life of its own. Which is what you want, if you're using drama for PR purposes. But it will have unintended consequences, and people will get hurt. Alas, drama has become the norm for so many, from politicians and celebrities, to corporations, journalists, and influencers. But just because everyone's doing it, does not mean it's right. 

HR Moore writes escapist fantasy with dangerous politics and swoon-worthy romance. She’s known for pacy writing, plot twists, and heroines who take no prisoners … and she loves a cliffhanger. HR also started FaRoFeb (Fantasy Romance February), a community for readers and authors to elevate and celebrate the fantasy romance genre. 
You can connect with HR Moore here:

Friday, July 1, 2022

Taking a Break from Drama

 Funny that we should be writing about author drama this week. Because you'll note that I've been a no-show for a few trips around the ole blog cycle. I'd like to think I had a good reason - but I suspect that's how most author drama starts. With the best of intentions. >>Peers at Twitter. Okay. Maybe not. 

 Anyway - I bailed because I went to Ireland.So accept this writerly drama in the form of a few photos:

This is the Abbey at Cong. 7th Century. Lovely old ruin with a familiar story. Everything was going along just fine for the monks living here until the Vikings landed and started killing everyone and taking their stuff.
    This is at DĂșn Aonghasa on Inis More in the Aran Islands. It's an old        ring fort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. That cliff I'm sitting on goes        100 feet down to crashing waves - but I swear I am NOT sitting on the         edge of  the world. There was another sizeable slab of stone under my     feet.

 This is Galway. Lovely little city. It is the oldest port in Ireland. There are buildings still standing and in use that were built in medieval times. Recent archeological investigation discovered 12th century castle ruins just beneath the shopping district. Many of the businesses have put plexiglass into the floors to expose a bit of the history. The streets in Galway are startlingly narrow. Because the city is medieval in design, the roads were built for horse and buggy rather than cars. Houses and shops stand right up at the edge of the roads. Two buses meeting and trying to pass can be an adrenaline rush.
This is just an short snippet of the River Corrib in Galway.