“Make It Better.”

Seriously, if you’re going to read one marketing book this year or next year, it’s gotta be Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing. It’s amazing is all I can say and as an author or businessperson who needs to market your service or product, it’s probably the only one you’ll ever need.

A very condensed version of what his book is about can be found in this video although it’s just the wrapping, really.

This is actually the first time I’ve ever read any of Godin’s stuff although I’ve seen his name a lot. Where? I don’t know. Maybe a Ted talk somewhere but last week, I finally decided that it was time I check out his books and I’m so glad I started with his latest release This Is Marketing.

According to Godin, we need to find our smallest viable audience, that small group of people who are happy to hear from us and will readily open our email when it arrives, buy our latest product, and tell their friends about us. But to find our smallest viable audience (or market), we need to be “caring enough to have the grit to say we’re gonna make good stuff, not lousy stuff.” (from the video above)

That line really resonated with me because for the past year, I’ve been wondering if I should start writing about alien abduction romance or reverse harem stories just to keep up with everyone else. But then, that’s the key thing: “everyone else.” Why am I so busy focusing on what everyone else is writing (ie. write to market) when I have my own style of writing, my own set of stories that’s uniquely my own… my own brand?

In the video, he mentions authors like me in that predicament, too.

“They’re not keeping track of what got them started; they’re using other people’s metrics to do their work. That’s as bad as having a boss. It’s worse.”

“What you need to do is to be clear about who’s it for and what’s it for. And make it better.”

Should be easy, right?

But seriously, if you want to learn about marketing your work (as an author), check out his book. He doesn’t teach ‘tactics.’ He teaches way more than that. It’s going back to the basics of why we do what we do. Why we really do what we do.

 

“… Best Decision I Ever Made” #teasertuesday

Campbell finds me in the living room two hours later, sitting on the lambskin rug on the floor in front of his Christmas tree that’s all lit up. Fully decked out with the decorations we’d purchased at the holiday market, he added white string lights that make the golden ribbons and tinsel glisten like stars.

“What are you doing here?” He settles on the rug behind me and brings the blanket over our shoulders, his body so warm against my back.

“I remembered the tree. I missed it on the way in.”

“Ah, yes. I forgot to set the timer for the lights.”

I turn to look at him, his stubble grazing my shoulder as he leans forward. “I found the switch for it and turned it on. Hope you don’t mind.”

“No, of course not. Thank you.”

“You did a great job with it, Cam. It’s beautiful.”

“Thanks to you,” he says, chuckling. “My mother’s probably still in shock after I sent her pictures of it. She figured hell must have frozen over.”

I giggle. “No, Caitlin just stormed through your apartment and demanded you put a tree up.”

Campbell scoots forward, his legs on either side of me and his arms circling my waist. “Thank you for this. It’s the best decision I ever made.”

“To put up a tree for Christmas?”

“To be with you.”

Friends with Benefits is now live and available on Kindle Unlimited

Hard to believe it’s been a week since I released Friends with Benefits and I’ve yet to celebrate its launch. If I did, I don’t remember because it was pretty hectic since it was also Thanksgiving weekend in my neck of the woods. But it’s live and I’m really very proud of it.

Campbell and Caitlin grew on me while writing Falling for Jordan and they were such strong happy characters that I knew they needed their own book even if they’re basically a tangent away from the series’ main characters of Dax and Harlow. Like the rest of the series, it’s only available on Amazon and included in your Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

Mockups Anyone?

I often get messages asking me about the mockups I use for my book teasers and thought I’d write a post about it as a way to also organize the who’s and the what’s of creating book teasers.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, this is a book mockup.

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It’s basically your book cover edited into devices or on the covers of paperbacks or hardcovers. You can create them using a paid service like eCoverAuthority which is an online service you log into and create your book or device mockups or you can create them for free on DIYBookCovers using their free mockup design maker. You can choose single books or a group of devices like the one above.

Covervault is known for its beautiful photoshop template mockups from a single device or book to 25-book box sets. This is one of my favorites and I love the reflection on the glass. In order to create this, you’ll need Photoshop CS6 (at the very least, I think but I could be wrong) and it uses a cool feature where you simply click on the layer, add your book cover to that layer, save it and then close the file. The action basically puts the cover right where you see it. No more fudging with the Distort or Skew tool to fit it in there.

To put the device mockup and the backgrounds together into a teaser, you can use Canva.com or in my case, Stencil.com (I paid for lifetime use during a Black Friday special two years ago and as of last year, switched completely to Stencil from Canva) which both have the default sizes for each social media channel your image will end up in. They also allow you to post the image with the accompanying text to the social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest except for Facebook which removed that ability middle of this year.

If you want it all in one stop – the device and the background altogether, then check out The Image Apothecary which I discovered last year. Their templates are DIY and they’re beautiful. They also have a service where they’ll photoshop the covers for you.

I recently discovered a new company called Images for Authors on Facebook and they will add your book image for free. I bought a few mockups from them but photoshopped the covers myself.

And then there are templates you can buy online from sites like MyDesignDeals and DesignBundles where you can create your own mockup. Each item is a separate layer and you just assemble them as you see fit. The only things you need to pay attention to are the shadows. When not done well, it will make your items seem to float as some of the objects in my mockups do. I actually don’t just use Photoshop but also Pixelmator which is a straight-up purchase for Mac and IOS and does almost everything Photoshop can do.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes I add animation to my mockups like this one:

or this one:

And for these two, I use apps on my iPhone and iPad called Werble (you buy the effects although some are free) and PicsPlayPost (subscription).

So there you have it—my book mockup secrets revealed! Oh, and it’s supposed to be #smallbusinesssaturday today so do buy from small businesses. We don’t have millions of dollars to throw on ad and marketing budgets, but we write some pretty entertaining stuff, don’t you know?

Are you an author? Comment below with any special or promotion that you’d like to share!

 

Returning to New York… and a Book Birthday!

And just like that, my tenth official book is out—eleven if you count Naughty Pen’s 64k word novel this year!

One of the reasons why I love Campbell and Caitlin’s story is because it brings me back to New York. The series originally began in New Mexico and while it’s been lovely returning to New Mexico, I’ve always missed the bright lights of NYC and that’s what Campbell and Caitlin’s story brings back—that and their feisty New York spirit that infuses every page.

Back in the eighties and before that, New York had such a bad rap. The subways were dirty and unsafe, and the sidewalks cluttered with litter. When my mother announced she was settling down in New York when she moved to the States and be close to her sister, we were all scared. She’s pretty meek and hates confrontation. How on earth could she survive New York?

But she did and when I visited her for the first time, I was amazed at how friendly New Yorkers were. Although we grew up in the Philippines with servants, my mother’s knack for organization found its place in New York. She worked for a few influential New York families as a house manager (or part of the housekeeping staff, for some people) and also as decorator and florist for their huge parties. I’d see the names of the people she worked for gracing the halls of museums and even outdoor fountains of NYC landmarks, catch glimpses of their high-rise “apartments” in Hollywood movies, and meet the lovely people she worked alongside with as well, all of them proud of what they did.

But I digress… New Yorkers, I learned via my mother, are helpful and nice. They are direct,  yes, because they don’t have the luxury of time to be fake. When they didn’t like you, they’ll make it clear unlike in LA, they’ll say, “let’s do lunch,” and you’ll never hear from them again.

And so I always return to New York in my stories and that’s what I did with Campbell and Caitlin. And I guess them being the tenth official Liz novel makes it even more special because it allowed me to return to one of my “happy places.”

Today I found this on my feed but with Instagram down at the moment (oh the horror!) I can’t find the original source. Still, this is true of New Yorkers.

One More Day

… and Friends with Benefits will be live!

And from what I’ve heard from my ARC readers, they are loving it! Campbell has become the favorite right after Dax (sorry, but Dax, I guess is always first for many readers and I can’t blame them).

It’s also really steamy…

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Here’s an excerpt:

We stumble onto my bed, giggling as we land on the soft covers. I can’t get enough of her. My mouth travels along her cheek to the sensitive skin behind her ear, feeling her shiver against me as I continue my exploration down her neck. Her hands undo the buttons of my shirt, tugging it loose from my pants.

“Roll over,” she whispers and circling her waist with one arm, I roll onto my back while bringing her on top of me. As she straddles me, the lights from the neighboring buildings and the city below illuminate her exquisite form, casting her ginger hair in an ethereal glow.

I hold my breath, watching her slip off her dress in a slow striptease that makes me want to pull her down to the bed so I can take over. But I don’t. I like watching Caitlin take charge. I love watching her be herself with me, only this time, in a way that’s only meant for me.

Clad in only her bra and panties, she resumes her mission of getting my shirt off and with a little help from me, succeeds with a grin before blazing a trail of warm kisses on my neck and chest, all the way down my stomach. I’m so hard, her sex pressing against my erection not helping in any way. She’s determined to tease and undress me and by God, I’m letting her do it.

Until I can’t.

“You’re determined to tease me, aren’t you?” I murmur as she starts to unbuckle my belt, biting her lower lip in concentration.

“Maybe,” she whispers. “I never realized you worked out. You’re ripped.”

I trace her thigh with my fingers. “Thank you. But you never asked.”

“You never took your shirt off whenever you stopped by the house.”

“I didn’t have a reason to. Besides, it’s also been a year since I’ve seen you. I missed you last time, remember?”

My belt buckle forgotten, Caitlin slides up my body so we’re face to face again, her hair cascading along the sides of my face. I can smell her shampoo, sage and lavender. “Of course, I remember. I missed you. My partner in crime was MIA.”

“I was working, but I missed you, too.”

“No, you didn’t. You were traveling. Italy from what I heard.”

“Doesn’t mean I wasn’t working.” I gather her hair in my hand and push it to the side as we lapse into silence. I can feel her watching me, studying me. “What are you looking at?”

“You,” she replies, stroking my stubble with the back of her hand. “You’re all grown up.”

“I’m not the only one, Cait.”

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There are also two more days left to download Falling for Jordan for free. It’s where you get to meet Campbell and Caitlin for the first time before you get to dive into their story when it goes live on November 20.

Falling for Jordan http://getbook.at/jordan

Friends with Benefits http://getbook.at/campbell

Check out the series on Kindle Unlimited http://getbook.at/differentlove

 

 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…

Guess whose preorder just went live???

Yup! Friends with Benefits goes live in four days and I’m actually really excited! It makes for a hectic release schedule considering my last book was released less than 30 days ago but I’m also playing catch up for the year.

Friends with Benefits was supposed to be released in September and I actually forgot all about it until I was going through my Instagram archives and saw that I’d posted September 2018 on one of my teasers.

But I have no regrets! That’s because I found the best beta readers when I did go back to expand it from 36k words I left it with to 40k words which makes it a short novel! It did mean that the second book of the Holiday Engagement series went on hold but it’s all good.

That’s the beauty of not forcing myself to stick to a release schedule, the one change in my author business that is saving my sanity. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Friends with Benefits, the fourth book in A Different Kind of Love series featuring characters you’ve met in Falling for Jordan, Campbell and Caitlin.

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 💕 FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS 💕
(A Different Kind of Love Novel #4)

I’ve known Campbell all my life. He’s the boy next door and my brother’s best friend. He’s also the only guy I can completely be my geeky nerdy self with.

But when I wake up in his bed the morning after his company holiday party, there are two things I suddenly can’t ignore: One, Campbell Murphy is all grown up in more ways than one, and two, I no longer want to be “just” his best friend’s sister.

But is a fling worth sacrificing a lifetime of trust between families? Or is it worth a shot at something that had always been there all along?

PREORDER IS LIVE!

The Current Line Up and an Excerpt #teasertuesday

So here’s my current line-up for A Different Kind of Love series for the year so far.

Thank goodness, I finally remembered Campbell and Caitlin who got accidentally set aside when I was writing Mariah and Logan’s story and I was about to start writing Forrest and Summer’s (16k words so far).

But common sense prevailed and now Campbell and Caitlin’s story will be arriving very soon! One thing you’ll probably notice is that his cover has no number. That’s because Friends with Benefits is an off-shoot of Falling for Jordan. I’d like to call it my New York book because that’s where their story is set.

And I have to say that I truly enjoyed writing their story. Campbell and Caitlin make one hell of a couple! Feisty, sexy and fun!

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Friends with Benefits Excerpt:

Campbell scoots forward, his legs on either side of me and his arms circling my waist. “Thank you for demanding I put a tree up. It’s the best decision I ever made.”

“To put up a tree for Christmas?”

“To be with you.”

Suddenly it’s as if he just said something he’s not supposed to say. The reality of what just happened between us hitting me like a cold shower. “Well, about that…”

I feel Campbell’s body stiffen though his arms remain where they are. “I thought it was just for tonight.”

I nod. “Yes, just for tonight. I mean, I don’t want what just happened between us to stand between you and Jordan. Your friendship is very important to him. To the family, and to me.”

“As it is to me, too, Cait. I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my friendship with him or your family… and that includes you.”

So what just happened between us?

I turn my attention back to the tree, not wanting to ruin a beautiful moment between longtime friends because in the end, that’s what we are—friends. Who cares if we’re sitting on a faux sheepskin rug buck naked? Besides, it had been my decision to have sex—and boy, other than the guilt I’m feeling right now, it was the best decision ever. I’ve always known Campbell to be this quiet, intense and driven kid and I’d never once considered him as anything but a friend mainly because I grew up with him. He’s the boy next door… and whenever we get together, my partner in crime.

Who knew that between the sheets, he’s amazing? His hands, his mouth, his… I bite my lip. No, better not go there.

Still, I may not have the experience to make such a declaration that he’s an amazing lover—after all, I’ve only been with two men before tonight—but I’ve also never felt so comfortable, so sexy and so gorgeous with any man before. The way he makes love is just beyond words. And even if I could find the words, I won’t because most of it can’t be described using the alphabet, at least, not in a coherent arrangement.

I turn my head to look at him. I never realized how thick his lashes are. “I wanted it to happen, Cam.”

Campbell kisses my shoulder. “I did, too.”

I swallow nervously, our faces too close for two people who call themselves just friends, our lips inches away. I close my eyes, not knowing what to expect yet hoping that he kisses me. And he does, his arms tightening around my waist, pulling me against him.

Our kiss lasts for a few minutes, a combination of soft and feathery kisses, and sweet ones. None of the passionate deep kisses he gave me earlier, the ones that made my toes curl.

Suddenly I pull away. My heart is pounding fast as if there are a hundred horses galloping right under my ribs.

“This isn’t going to work, is it?” I ask hoarsely. “I’ll always want more.”