The New York Times Bestseller List... and are print books dead?

I read recently that self-published books can't get onto the New York Times Bestseller List. That they weren't allowed.. or that the New York Times doesn't recognize self-published sales. I knew, when I read it, that it was false. Black Lies, my erotic romance, hit it three times last year. But it was still a welcome sight to see Hollywood Dirt, my newest baby, hit the list. Twice. Technically, three times, because it hit the eBook list AND the Combined Print/Ebook list.

What does that mean?

10 Writing Tips

10 Writing Tips from NYT Bestseller Alessandra Torre Don't drown your readers in descriptions. Sure, give them a few sentences to set scenes, or to make them feel like they're there. But no one cares what every person in the book is wearing every day. Or what every room of the heroine's home looks like.

How to Get Your Self-Published Book Copyrighted

So… you wrote a novel. First off, CONGRATS!! Now you need to protect it. ASAP. Remember Napster? There are a hundred sites just like that for books, and they won't remove your title unless you have a copyright certificate in hand. People will always break laws, but you need to do what you can to stop your book from being stolen.

What you need is to copyright your book, and the US Copyright Office has made a simple process ridiculously painful. So sit down, pour a beverage, and feel free to use the below guide to help you through the process.

FanFic: what is it and should authors do it?

I was a year into the writing world before I first heard the word fanfic. Another year passed before I understood it. And now, on my third year in the writing community, I'm taking a stab at it.

So… what is fanfic?

fanfic - short for 'fan fiction' is:

The Creation & Polish of a Novel

I get a fair number of questions from readers and aspiring authors about the path a story takes before it lands into the hands of readers. I thought I'd take a moment and walk you through my process of novel development.Note: every author is different, and many may take a different path.

Conception: My novels typically start their life as a blurb. A quick paragraph scribbled on the back of a receipt, or  a spare piece of paper, or as a voice memo recorded in the middle of the night. :) However it comes, that is the beginning, and what I type out and tack to the wall above my desk. That paragraph is what will soon turn into my full-time obsession.

Next, I will write. My writing months usually require that I stop any leisure reading or television. If I behave, I can write a book in one month. If I allow distractions, it will stretch into two.

Eventually, I will type those two magical words: THE END. That is an awesome moment, one that I get to experience three to four times a year. I stretch, I beam, I make my husband obey my every command for the next 24 hours while we celebrate 'Happy Completion Day'.

At this point, the process is half over and the book is about 60 days from publication.


I take a week off. Sleep about 13 hours a day. Catch up on sex and reminding my family that I love them. Then, go back to work.

Rewriting. I start from the beginning. Read through the novel and add comments at every single place that I don't like. My first read-through normally contains over 200 comments. Then I start again, visiting every comment and making changes. Write. Delete. Write. Then my first round of rewriting is done. Repeat. Second round of rewrites done. Repeat. Third round of rewrites done.

Beta Time. I have four beta readers. I email them the manuscript and they pick it apart. Give me their initial reactions as they read through it. Give me their thoughts once they finish it. Let me ask them about a gazillion questions every few days. Positive comments are great but negative help the story grow.

Another round of rewrites. If you're bored of reading about rewrites, imagine how sick I am at this point of doing them.

Edits. I send the manuscript off to my editor for an initial read-through and her thoughts/comments/suggestions.

Cover. Around this time I design a cover. I am a control freak, so I can't physically stomach the ability to turn over a book and let a cover agency do their thing. I wish I could. It'd make my life a lot easier. But no. My evenings begin to fill with an obsessive search of every stock image website available. Some books I will do a photo shoot for. Some books I'll reach out to specific photographers or models to request exclusive pics that aren't being used. I want, whenever possible, a unique cover that no one else has. Once I find an image, and a title, I create a rough draft of the cover. Then I send it to my graphics designer and he takes my rough draft and makes it look better.

Another round of rewrites. Another round of editorial notes on content. Another round of rewrites. A final round of editorial notes on content.

The book is roughly finished at this stage. I send a final copy to her for a rigorous edit of spelling/grammar/punctuation.


I won't share all of my secrets of promotion, but they basically involve me prostituting myself to every blogger I have ever met. There's lots of begging involved. I plan giveaways, release day events, purchase ads on blogsites, facebook, goodreads, and anywhere else I can find. I start my social media pimpage. I design banners, posters. Tease my new baby all over the internet. Reserve dates for a blog tour. Send advance copies to my list of bloggers.


Once I get the spit-shined copy back from the editor, I send it to a formatter. He adds page numbers, table of contents, and fun page breaks. Adds copyright info, front and back information, and fixes any funky formatting. He makes it into an ebook, the final stage in my process.

Then... my baby is ready to go out into the world. My sweat and tears, my hopes and dreams. I upload it to the 5 major ebook retailers, cross my fingers and toes, send a prayer up to the big man, and hit 'PUBLISH'.

And hope like hell that you guys love it half as much as I do.

QUESTIONS? I'm here for ya. Email me anytime or follow me on social media. Want to be a BETA READER? I'm sorry. I literally have a 10 person deep waiting list. But reach out to your other favorite authors. They might have openings. Are you a NEW AUTHOR? Check out my other posts on writing here.

What causes a book cover to be banned?

I swear, from the looks of things, you'd think that I'm a sweet girl. Non-offensive, from the start of my buttoned cardigan to the Mary-Jane's on my feet. But, apparently, I'm still ban-worthy. I've done this post before. Five months ago. When Sex Love Repeat got smitted down by the Amazon gods and hidden in the corner of their site they typically reserve for incest and beastiality. Yep, Brother Fuckers, I love Bigfoot, and little 'ol me.

I'm back in the corner. Just the Sex - my collection of sex scenes pulled from three bestselling erotica books - BANNED from general search criteria. BANNED from recommendations or 'Customers Who Bought This Also Bought' references. *cue my big dramatic sigh*

JTS cover final3.jpg

I really thought, with this one, I was behaving. The rules of Amazon covers: -no nipples: check -no butt crack: check -no penis or vaginas: check -no covering of above body parts with other body parts, such as hands: check -no overt suggestion of nudity: check

Thought I was covered. Panties on the cover. A finger slid underneath, but not too far. Way away from any exciting areas.

Eighteen hours. That's as long as this book made it before Amazon swooped down from almighty and smacked it into the corner.

I was PISSED. FURIOUS. My family ate cold food for a week while I ranted and raved. Then I had lunch with CD Reiss. Midway through my furious rant on all things unfair, she pulled out her phone. Looked up my cover. And about fell out of her chair. "Uh... no. You're wrong." she said bluntly. "That is DEFINITELY banworthy." Well...shit.

I've done the stubborn thing for two weeks. Crossed my arms, stuck out my bottom lip and said 'fuck you - I'm not changing it'. Then... I had to pay the water bill. And dog kibble. And I really really want some new stilettos...

This is a business. I can't sell what people can't find. So *dramatic sigh* I am going to change the cover. In one week. That will allow all of you who are passionate about this cover to snap up this ebook. I am also going to pub, in 2 days, a paperback with this cover on it. That will stay on Amazon for a while.

xoxo - hope you all have a kickass weekend.

big hugs,

the rejected one

Price your Ebook for Success!!!

Okay, so you've written your ebook. Gotten a cover, written a blurb, formatting it and are halfway through the 'post it online for sale' process. Then you get to the price box - that little blank line that can make or break your book sales.* *note* - this post is written for indie authors. I'm assuming Nora Roberts isn't scanning the internet wondering what price to put on her next masterpiece.

So, what to put as the price?

Things to consider: 1. The length of your book: Is this an 100-page novella? A 600-page novel? Most readers balk at paying anywhere over $2.99 for a novella, no matter who writes it. If you are a brand new author, $1.99 is a more realistic price, or even $.99. At 600 pages, you still can't really expect more than $4.99 or $5.99 unless you have 100 glowing reviews or some type of ranking in your genre. 2. Does anyone know who you are? Have you written a book before? Or rather, have you written a book before that people bought and read? Do you have a following of fans? If so, you may be able to bump the price a bit - go for the $3.99 to $5.99 price point. If you are a new kid on the block, IMO $2.99 needs to be your price point. Much higher and some readers get nervous. 3. Do you have any reviews? Think about pricing your book cheaply initially, let word spread and hope that readers post reviews. Once you have some credibility, then you can raise the price a little.

My suggestion: Try to make your first book a full-length book, anywhere from 250-500 pages. Price it at $2.99. Give it a few weeks. If sales are sluggish, drop the price to $.99 for a few days and get some interest going, then bring the price back up to $2.99.

One thing to consider: Amazon only pays out 35% if your book is priced below $2.99. At, or above $2.99, they pay 70%. So...

If you sell 500 books at $.99 - you will make $175. If you sell 83 books at $2.99 - you will make $138.13

So you really hurt yourself when you drop the price below $2.99. Occasionally it is necessary, and good for spreading the word. But it should be done thoughtfully. There is no good reason, in my opinion, to price a book at $1.99 - it costs the reader an extra dollar when you only make 35 cents more. Your pricing structure should only change if you are trying to aggressively drive sales.

That's my two cents, hope it was somewhat rational. :)

Love to you all,


Lessons from a Master: Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

Elmore Leonard knows his shit. He's written westerns and crime fiction, writing such bestsellers as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch. Never heard of those? Yeah, me either - but you may have heard of the movie Jackie Brown, 3:10 to Yuma, and the FX series, Justified - Twenty-six of Leonard's novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen, those being a few of them. Leonard is taken seriously by the literary crowd, and at some point wrote an essay "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing" - which has become a rule book for many new writers. I agree with all of these rules, but often break them - I'd say I'm a wild child, but truly, I just don't really know better. But for newbies, like myself - read these rules, they are a great starting point for your writing.

1. Never open a book with weather. Good. Haven't broken this rule. Yet.

2. Avoid prologues. Errr.... Oops. Ignore Blindfolded Innocence's new edition.

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. Yeah, I break that rule all the time. "Promise to do better," I mutter.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely. Stephen King taught me that early on, and I, for the most part, obey this rule.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. Shit! I can't help it, my characters are very vocal individuals.

6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose." So far so good...

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. I'm Southern, so will no doubt fail in this goal.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. I disagree with this rule when it comes to a romance Hero. With other genres, I believe it is great advice.

9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things. Agree. No one really cares what the inside of the coffee shop looks like.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Duh.

That's the lot of them! Great advice, and rules I should do a better job of following. Have any other rules you follow in your writing? Please pass them on!

How to Self-Publish on Amazon

Self-publishing has reached the point where it is RIDICULOUSLY easy, so much so, that I am rubbing elbows with twelve-year-olds in the Kindle forums.  So, the good news is – once you’ve written your book – publishing is easy! I wrote this post with the understanding that your book is READY for market – it has been written, rewritten, rewritten again, edited, professionally edited, formatted, and a pimp ass cover has been created.

So, GREAT – you are ready for the next step, which is getting out into the real world.

There are five big markets to post your ebook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and Kobo.  This post is going to focus on Amazon.  Its Kindle Direct Publishing platform is ridiculously easy, and will give your future bestseller great exposure.

The Kindle Direct Publishing platform, KDP for short, accepts books in the following formats:

Word (DOC or DOCX) HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML) Mobipocket (MOBI) ePub (EPUB) Plain Text (TXT) Rich Text Format (RTF) Adobe PDF (PDF)

If you aren't able to format your own ebook, or if you don't have the funds to hire a formatter, then use your Word file, which is convenient enough; since that’s probably the format you already have it in. (Note: if you do want to hire a formatter, check out my suggestion here).


1. Create an account at kdp.amazon.com.  If you already have an Amazon account, I would suggest creating a new one, one you will use specifically for self-publishing.  But, you can use your current one if you want.  If you are writing under a pseudonym (which I strongly suggest you DO), ignore that for now - use all of your real information when creating this account.

2.  Log in. I don’t think any more explanation is needed for that step.

3.  Click the ‘Add a New Title' button.


4. Your first decision will be whether to participate in KDP Select.  That is a whole other blog topic, which I will go into on a later date.  For now, I would suggest you not, it's up to you.

#1 – This section is pretty self-explanatory.  The book’s description box is where you put the blurb.  The blurb is very important, so please dedicate time to this group of words.  You wouldn’t believe how many blurbs have grammatical errors; make sure this section is perfect.

#2 – choose ‘This not a public domain work….”

#3 – pick the two categories that best describe your book.  These can be changed later, so don’t stress over this area too much.

#4 – Before you upload your cover, make sure it fits the proper size requirements.This link will tell you Amazon’s size/format/content requirements for your book cover.

#5 – Enable digital rights management – this will attempt to prevent your book from being listed for free on various file-sharing websites (think Napster for ebooks).  Chances are, it will still find its way to those sites, but this is one way to try and prevent that.

Upload your book.  This is a quick process.  After your upload, it will indicate if Kindle’s spell check found any possible errors.  This is very helpful – somehow some always slip through!

#6 – Preview your book.  I use the online previewer, it is amazing, allowing you to view your book on an iphone, ipad, kindle, kindle fire, etc – take the time to view your book on all of the devices, and skim through the book to make sure that chapter headings, table of contents, etc, look correct on all of the different e-readers.

#7 – choose Worldwide

#8 – Royalties

This is up to you.  My opinion can be found on the blog entry ‘Pricing your Ebook’.  Once you choose your royalty percentage, then enter the price for each country (you can choose for Amazon to automatically calculate this based off the US price). Always choose the 70% royalty option, unless your price is less than $2.99 (if it is, you will be forced to choose 35%).

#9 – Kindle Book Lending

If you enable lending, it will mean that readers can ‘lend’ your book to their friends for 7 days.  I enable lending, because I think it helps to spread the word about my book – but this is completely up to you.  Its not going to make or break you either way. (note: Amazon has recently changed this to force you to lend your book if you are at the 70% royalty rate)

Then, click the checkbox agreeing to the Terms & Conditions, and click ‘Save & Publish’!

Your book will take anywhere from 2 to 48 hours to be active on Amazon’s site – you will get an email when it is live. Congratulations!! You are now a ‘published author’!