Maggie Rivers will be signing books at the Clinton Book Festival in Clinton, IA on August 26 from 10:00 AM to 4 PM
The RWA Honor roll recognizes RWA members who have a work of romantic fiction that has: appeared on any New York Times bestseller list; appeared on the Publishers Weekly Top Ten bestseller list or any other Publishers Weekly bestseller list based on format, genre, or region; appeared in the top 50 of the USA Today bestseller list; or sold at least 100,000 copies in a single language.
Recently one of our own WisRWA members was inducted onto the RWA Honor Roll: Lyn Cote, for selling over 100,000 copies of a single Love Inspired romance.
An author of more than forty-five books, Lyn’s faith-based romances have been published since 1998. When Harlequin released their new Love Inspired line, Lyn’s breakout novel Never Alone was featured in their very first year. Since then, Lyn’s stories have appeared in the Love Inspired lines Suspense and Historical, as well as being released by Tyndale House Publishers. Regardless of when or where her stories take place, the central message of faith is always there. Lyn says that she hopes her “stories about strong women will transform our thinking about ourselves, God, and others different from us for the better.” Apart from writing romance novels, Lyn has also written articles on the writing process and the CBA (formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association) market.
Lyn has dubbed herself a “hybrid author,” an author who is both traditionally and self-published. While she continues to publish with houses like Harlequin and Tyndale, she also enjoys the freedom of being able to self-publish stories that editors don’t think will “fit” in the standard market.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lyn for the WisRWA newsletter.
How long have you been writing/published?
I started writing when my daughter was 13 months old and sold my first book when she was about to start high school. That was in the old days before self-publishing. 😊
Can you tell us a little about your first publication experience?
I was at the RWA National Conference in Dallas in 1996 in the only inspirational workshop (the inspirational market was just getting started) and behind me Editor Anne Canadeo announced that Harlequin was opening an inspirational romance line, Love Inspired, the next year. Of course, I suppressed the urge to leap over the back of my chair into her lap. (Decorum with editors is important! 😊) I talked to her afterward and she said what we all love to hear – send me a manuscript NOW. Unfortunately they were only doing contemporary and my Golden Heart final was a historical. However, I did have a contemporary which I sent to her. BUT IT GOT PUT IN THE WRONG PILE – so I didn’t get THE CALL till the next March. My first Love Inspired, Never Alone, #36, came out June 1998.
Are there any awards/recognitions you’ve received over the years that stand out to you?
I am a RWA Golden Heart and RITA finalist, an American Christian Fiction Writers CAROL award winner, two-time National Reader’s Choice finalist, two-time winner of the HOLT, and I was awarded a Romantic Times Award for my book, Dangerous Secrets, set in Wisconsin. The thing that was most exciting of all was an ad in People Magazine for my book Chloe (2005) but I shared that with three other authors. I just never thought I was the People Magazine type – still don’t. 😉
You were an English and History teacher before becoming an author. How has that inspired your stories?
Well, I wish I could say that teaching English has made punctuation easier but it doesn’t because each publisher has its own house style and the Chicago Manual of Style that copyeditors use changes each year. So much for the English teacher part. As for the history part, I am tempted to just do the research but no one pays to read my index cards! That motivates me to get back to writing the story. 😊
Do you have a Biblical passage that keeps you going?
John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –Jesus of Nazareth
After writing over 45 books, I have realized that each of my books is about the “abundant life” that God wants for us all. What is abundant life and how to gain it? – is core question of all my stories. And to me, giving and receiving love is essential to living abundantly. Why can’t my hero/heroine give and receive love? It’s different for each couple, each love story. I love to break down the barriers that keep them from what God wants for us all.
Any closing thoughts?
I’ve written 46 books now. Frontier Want Ad Bride #45 will come out in August. It’s #4 in my “Wilderness Brides” series set in Pepin, Wisconsin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. #5 in that series, Suddenly a Frontier Father, will come out in February 2018 and that will be my final Love Inspired Historical. You see the publishing industry never gives ANY guarantees. We’re all gamblers without “enjoying” all the flashing lights and wild sounds of a casino. What this means for my career onward, I don’t know. Will I become indie all the way or find a house for another proposal? In the post-Kindle “apocalypse,” all possibilities are open to me. I remain as undaunted today as I was in 1996 when I nearly landed in an editor’s lap. 😊
Kayla Bain-Vrba has been living in daydreams ever since she was a little girl and writing about them for as long as she can remember. It was her discovery of m/m romance that inspired her first published work at age nineteen. When she’s not writing—or is procrastinating writing—Kayla enjoys spending time with her other half, crafting, and planning things to a tee.
Sara Dahmen will be presenting at RWA Nationals in Orlando, Florida on Friday, July 28th from 2:00-3:00 PM during the 20/20 Expert Hour: Historicals. She will be discussing the Historical Kitchen: A meaty look at the roles and power of women in the kitchen: how their status and the era affected the foods they prepared and impacted their world.
When posting on a page, Facebook provides amazing analytics. Under the insights “tab,” you can see your audience reach and engagement for each post. I have over 3500 Facebook followers and it’s near impossible to get more than a 1.8k organic “reach” on my posts (that means my post only reaches half of the users who followed my page). Sure, I could boost a post (pay to have it reach those users), but I’ve found that organic is just fine IF I pay attention to day-to-day user engagement.
User engagement is when someone clicks or comments on the post. That statistic is the other important listed number in the Insights tab. Keeping a higher engagement number plays into your reach.
How does one keep user engagement high? Post content that the encourages users to comment/respond. Think outside the author role. Honestly, my random, weird thoughts tend to really catch people’s attention.
Some of my best post to date:
Muffins vs. Cupcakes
Matched or Mismatched socks?
Those were the complete posts. Three words and four words. That’s it. A close runner up would be the time I asked, “What is the most annoying sound in the world?” Not only did my audience engage, they entertained the heck out of me.
I quickly learned that keeping a mix of fun, interactive posts versus promotional posts meant that the promotional posts would have a better reach. Here’s an example of a post that did reach 3.7k users without needing to pay for a boost.
As you can see in the post, I ended it with a fun call to action. “Friends don’t let friends miss deals…Please share!” The post received over 71 shares which helped the post surpass my page’s organic reach of 3k at the time.
In addition to a mix of content, post often, but not too often. I’ve seen pages that post daily or even hourly and have observed that do not help engagement, but hurts it. The perfect mix that I’ve found so far is every other to every third day. However, different readerships might have different needs. Be willing to play with your content and posting schedule to find what works well for you. And, keep in mind that social media is constantly changing. What works today may not work tomorrow.
What have you found that works well?
by: Melissa Haag
Melissa Haag lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three children. An avid reader she spent many hours curled in a comfortable chair flipping pages in her teens. She began writing a few years ago when some ideas just refused to be ignored any longer.
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases.
Glamour by Kayla Bain-Vrba
Angel Down by Lois Greiman
Demon Ember by M. J. Haag (with Becca Vincenza)
Captives of the Kratzen by S.C. Mitchell
The Incompetent Witch and the Missing Men by DC Thome
Home Field by Laurie Winter (DEBUT!!)
WisRWA members, Mia Jo Celeste, author of Other Than, and Barbara M. Britton, author of Providence and Building Benjamin, will be talking about book launch parties (both actual and virtual) at the June WisRWA meeting in Milwaukee. Jennifer Rupp asked them a few questions about their first year as published authors.
Jen: Brenda and Barbara, you’ve both released your debut novels within the last twelve months. Did it come as a shock how involved you would have to be in the marketing of your own book?
Brenda: Yes. Although I’d heard a lot about marketing, taken some classes and been a blogger for years, I was surprised about the time and financial commitment. That said, I like marketing—something I never imagined I would.
Barbara: Yes, definitely. Publishing has changed so much since I started my journey ten years ago. I knew I would have a hand in marketing my books, but I didn’t know I would be the driving force behind getting the word out about my novels.
Brenda: It varies. Usually I check Twitter and Facebook every couple of days and I’ve been trying to appear in cyberspace a couple of times a week, either on my blog or someone else’s. For me, it’s a lot like student teaching. Because so many tasks are new, they take longer to figure out and complete, but I’m sure that I’ll get faster and I’ll figure out which tasks are the most important to complete.
Barbara: I feel I do some sort of marketing every day because of social media. Certainly I am more involved right before, during, and after a release. With Pelican Book Group, I have an e-book release date that is different than my print release date. Twice the fun—and work. I would say my average is 5-10 hours a week.
Jen: Now that you’re a published author, do you write with more confidence?
Brenda: I hope the adage “practice makes perfect” works. Because I write more, I’m more comfortable writing and, God willing, my writing is getting better.
Barbara: Yes and no. I feel I have the basic craft of writing down pat, but doubts plague me as a published writer. I’m thinking my work isn’t good enough, or my success was a fluke. I have to silence those nasty voices and tell myself that I am writing solely for myself. If no one sees my book, that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed writing it and learning through my research.
To hear more from Brenda and Barbara, please join us at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level) on June 17 from 9-11:30 AM. It’s sure to be a great time.
Yes, you heard correctly, WisRWA had the privilege to participate in UntitledTown‘s first ever Book and Author Festival. The festival was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin from April 28th through the 30th.
UntitledTown promotes book cultures and books of all kinds including but not limited to graphic novels, children’s books, romance novels, mystery, and non-fiction books of any kind. Over the course of three days, attendees had the opportunity to attend readings, discussions, workshops, and panels in several locations in downtown Green Bay. The majority of these events were open and free to the public.
WisRWA Members Mary Jo Scheibl, Mary Grace Murphy, Virginia McCullough, Steve Mitchell, Lisa Romdenne and Valerie Clarizio presented A Giant Among Genres: A Look at Romance and Women’s Fiction
A panel of local members of the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America (WisRWA) will talk about the ongoing popularity of romance and women’s fiction today. According to book sale statistics, romance consistently leads the genres in sales year after year, and women’s fiction is a major and growing genre in its own right. Romance writing is also the most misunderstood of the genres, but it’s extremely diverse, ranging from inspirational/religious fiction to the steamy/erotic. It can be contemporary, historical, mystery/suspense, or paranormal/fantasy. We’ll answer all questions about our genre, discuss our journeys to both conventional and indie publication, and tell others how they, too, can successfully write and publish romance.
The panel was held on the Saturday morning of the festival at the Kavarna Coffeehouse. We filled the room! Okay, it may have been a small room, but we filled it with readers and writers, and some potential new WisRWA members. The audience asked questions in regard to our writing journeys and processes. Though the panel lasted a little over an hour, the time flew by so quickly it felt like five minutes.
After the panel, we grabbed some lunch and then shot off to the book signing event which was held at the Broadway Center (Old Fort Square). Readers meandered among the rows and rows of tables of writers. During the signing, an older gentleman stopped by and started talking to me and Virginia. As we spoke with him, he shot us that silly grin that men sometimes flash when they talk about romance books and make mention that romance isn’t their thing. Admittedly, I felt a bit miffed by his dismissal of the romance genre, but I kept my smile in place as he moved past me and Virginia and made his way to Mary Grace and Mary Jo. Oddly, by the time he finished speaking with Mary Jo, he’d pulled out his wallet and purchased a book from her. Are you now wondering what Mary Jo said to this man to change his tune about romance books in a matter of fifteen minutes? If so, you’ll have to ask her the next time you see her because I don’t knowJ
UntitledTown did an excellent job putting together this event. It was well organized and well attended by both readers and writers.
Valerie Clarizio is the current Treasurer for WisRWA. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. Valerie has placed in the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Novellas Need Love, Too! contest and WisRWA’s Write Touch contest.
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases.
Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove by Kathryn Albright (and Lauri Robinson)
The Marshal’s Bride by Maxine Douglas
Heart Mates (Pull of the Moon) 2nd edition by Mary Hughes
A Photograph of Love by Tina Susedik
WisRWA would like to offer their congratulations to member, Melonie Johnson, for finaling in RWA’s contest for unpublished writers, the Golden Heart Contest. We chatting with Melonie about her manuscript, Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot, and what it’s like to be a finalist. Our fingers will be crossed for her in July when the winners are announced.
When a gorgeous guy (in a kilt, no less) literally falls at the feet of “Twitter Babe” Cassie Crow, she does what any American girl on her dream vacation would do: throws caution to the wind and locks lips with the sexy Scot. But when she realizes her hot Highlander is actually the creator of a UK Internet prank show, Cassie fears if the clip of her getting punk’d by a Scottish hunk goes viral, she can kiss her ambition to become a serious broadcast journalist goodbye.
Logan Reid’s star is on the rise. Under consideration to be picked up for a television series in the states, Logan knows this latest stunt is guaranteed to rack up the views he needs to knock his numbers out of the park. When the unwitting player in his perfect pitch cries foul, Logan vows to see the prank go live, even if he has to chase the Yank with the smart mouth and hot lips across the pond to seal the deal. Turns out, the joke’s on Logan once he realizes he’d risk his fifteen minutes of fame for a chance at a lifetime with Cassie. But with her career on the line, is Cassie willing to risk the same?
If any of that sounds familiar—that’s because it is. SOMETIMES YOU NEED A SEXY SCOT was also a GOLDEN HEART® finalist in 2016. To be honest, last month, when my phone rang the morning of RITAGH call day, I wasn’t excited (ok, I was a little excited…it was Alyssa Day on the line!), I was relieved. I had been very unsure about entering the same title in the Golden Heart two years in a row. Yes, the story had undergone revisions after I signed with my agent last spring (Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency), but still, as a previous finalist, did my story deserve another turn on the dance floor? A few things convinced me—the main one being my fellow 2016 finalists who strongly encouraged me to re-enter Sexy Scot. As an unpublished author (who wasn’t even on submission yet) I had nothing to lose (except my $30 entry fee) and everything to gain by entering again. So, I plunked my thirty bucks down and sent my Scot in.
Now I can say I’m thrilled to be a finalist again this year. The best part about being a Golden Heart finalist is the community of authors created within each year’s class. I’ll call it a sisterhood, since both groups I belong to (2016 and 2017) are all females, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Our ages range from our 20’s to 60+. We are from all over the country…all over the world. I have Golden Heart sisters in Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia. After this year’s finalists were announced, last year’s GH winner for Contemporary Romance called to congratulate me—from Sydney! I’m still very connected to many of my GH16 sisters (the Mermaids) and often reach out to them for advice and support, and offer it as well! Having the opportunity to form similar bonds with another fantastic group this year…like I said, it’s the best part of being a finalist.
I am looking forward to heading to the conference this summer, even if my hair isn’t (I’m a curly girl and Orlando in July…hello, humidity!). It’s Disney World—a place of magic—where dreams come true. The happiest place on earth is the perfect place to celebrate romance, and the promise of a happy ever after. Hope to see you there!
Now that I have an audiobook, I thought I’d share how I did it. My process won’t necessarily work for everyone, and that’s OK. But hopefully, reading about my experience will provide you the confidence and willingness to at least get started in the process!
As someone who comes from a production background in television and radio, I know I have a bit of an advantage over where to look for voices and what kind of talent I am looking for. I’m no expert, but I have some working knowledge and connections that I’d be glad to share. I am happy to talk to any of you lovely authors about your questions on how to get into audiobooks.
Not everyone’s journey to creating an audiobook is the same. There are a lot of pre-packaged studio and narrator options available to indie and self-published authors, and while I’m not going to list them all here, a simple Google search will turn up a majority of those choices compiled in one place. An excellent starting source is this article by Allison Schiff on the Publisher’s Weekly blog.
When deciding to produce your book into an audiobook, you need to decide what kind of voice you’d like to have narrate it. Unless you understand studio time and are willing to pay fees for access, I highly recommend you don’t sit at home and record this on your computer yourself. It will result in poor quality audio that will likely be rejected by most outlets. This leaves you with looking for voice talent.
You must know the following:
Once you know what you’re looking for in a VO actor, you may start to search. Some authors prefer to work with a one-stop-shop such as ACX with Amazon, or other larger production houses. They’ll have some great talent voices for you to choose from. I preferred to have more control over my choices as well as my production (as well as save some money).
I also wanted to use non-union talent because it gave me, the “buyer,” far more purchasing power and say in pricing. Union talent will have required costs for their time and set prices for their hours. They’ll also retain some license over the finished work, usually getting a percent of the profits of the audiobook sales in perpetuity (that’s fancy speak for forever). Without the “in perpetuity” clause, you may have to re-up their contract with you after a given number of weeks or months, which can result in a re-negotiation of their pay-out. I’ve worked with the likes of John Corbett and others when it comes to licensing voice overs and it’s a big paperwork headache. A lot of people need to get paid (by you) to have access to a union voice after the usage time has run out.
Thus, I went here to search for non-union voices. They have a ton! The trickiest part is listening to so many and making sure you pick someone who doesn’t sound too much like someone who makes happy-go-lucky cereal commercials for a living. You want someone who is going to take your project seriously and invest some time into it. I find it helps to close my eyes, stop thinking, and really let the voice hit me viscerally as I listen to each one. Go back and re-listen to them several times, giving yourself a few days to digest.
After you’ve created your book project, you can allow people to bid on it, or you can ask your favorite voices to bid. I did a little of both, and was very happy when my first choice said she was in! We signed a very simple contract and I received all rights in perpetuity to the finished audiobook, and gave her a single, one-time flat rate (it came in under $600 for a 85K word book). I did give her a substantial cash tip of $150 afterwards for all the additional work she did on the book, and because I hope to work with her again in the future.
You’ll be listening to the book through at least twice – the first time to listen for errors, and the second time to make sure they are all caught – so plan for many hours of sitting and taking notes. It goes faster than you realize.
Then, make sure you have the files in a few ways – Amazon/ACX asks for each chapter to be sent separately, and has a lot of rules, so when finishing the project, make sure the files comply. iTunesConnect is another publishing option. I also asked for the files in bulk so the book is in two big separate files instead of a bunch of little ones. It’s always nice to have options. You can use online file drops to save your inbox such as DropBox or even Google Drive.
In my next post, I’ll dive into the process of uploading files to ACX.
by Sara Dahmen
Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at email@example.com.