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Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Snowball

2015nominee

 

So I was messing around on Google, which I don’t do nearly as much as my husband thinks, and I came across a hit several pages into the search results for myself that piqued my interest.  It involved the eFestival of Words and my very own novel, Shattered.

Having working knowledge of eFestival of Words and respecting some of the authors who have been nominated/won their categories in previous years, I was more than intrigued.  So I clicked on the link, learning that the nominees for 2015 had recently been named.  In order to access the complete list, I had to register for an account, which I did.

Lo and behold, somehow Shattered has been nominated for Best Chick Lit / Best Women’s Lit.

Okay, so I understand how the nominating process works.  People with ties to the publishing industry (authors, editors, bloggers, etc.) nominate their peers in order to celebrate the best in indie publishing.  All nominations are made anonymously, and authors cannot nominate a work that they are intimately connected to.  So no, I didn’t toot my own horn.

Which means that someone out there somewhere respects my work and that’s extremely flattering.  Or they had absolutely no idea who to vote for in that category, so they just named me instead.

In any case, of the three books that were eligible for the nomination (Changed was released too late for consideration), Shattered is the one that I would never have guessed would be chosen.  While I’m proud of all of my books, I realize that Shattered is the red-headed stepchild of the series.  It’s forever lurking in the shadows of the first book, which it’s a companion to.  Though some have read and enjoyed it as a standalone, it really isn’t.  And it doesn’t pack the emotional punch of the third novel, which can be read on its own.

What comes next in the grand scheme of things is that a committee selects the finalists in each category, then those finalists are voted on by the general public beginning July 1st.

A number of factors are considered in choosing finalists:  book cover, book blurb, quality of reviews and social media presence among them.

I realize that Shattered doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.  Why?  Because what works for me as an author bucks tradition.  I am the epitome of someone who does everything wrong according to conventional wisdom.

For example:

1.  Book cover – I love my covers personally, but they don’t look like other people’s covers.  No half dressed man candy, or couples almost nearly kissing.  Granted, in the Chick Lit / Women’s Lit category, there’s a bit more leeway on this than in the broader romance genre.  My covers are artsy and definitely recognizable as being tied to the series, but some people hate them.

2.  Book blurb – Okay, Shattered probably has the best blurb (in my opinion) of any of the books in the series.  But blurbs are harder for me to write than the actual book, so what do I know?

3.  Quality of reviews – Out of all four books I have released, Shattered has the fewest reviews on Amazon.  On Goodreads, it has a few more than Designed.  They are all honest and genuine though, so that’s a plus.

4.  Social media presence – Yes, I have a Twitter, Facebook, Tsu, Google Plus and Goodreads account.  I have a blog (duh).  Google me and tons of stuff pops up.  But my experience with all of this is that the less I  post, the more I sell.  No kidding.  This past month, I’ve been virtually silent and it’s been my best month yet.  And forget about a street team or a PA.

So, I’ll take my nomination and run with it, being happy that I can forever associate a fleeting token of recognition with something that I wrote.  It’s really more than I ever expected, or than most authors like me ever get.

 

 

Between the Novels – Shattered/Designed Bonus Content

For those of you who’ve read the portion of The Intoxicated Books that is currently available, you know that although I ended Book One in a cliffhanger, I picked up Book Two exactly where I left off.  To be specific, Book Two began in the middle of the phone conversation that ended Book One.

Transitioning between Book Two and Three wasn’t as seamless because I’m switching focus between Lauren and Blake.  Lauren’s got her happy ending for the moment, and it’s time to move on to Blake and Chris.  So after Matthew gets his answer, I cut away to Chris beginning his search for his own.

Some feedback suggests that maybe this was too abrupt.  And trust me, these people will be rewarded in Book Three with more of Matthew and Lauren’s story, though told through Blake’s eyes.  But it did leave me with an idea for some bonus content.  After all, there are a few hours of celebration over at Matthew’s house that occur before Chris camps out at Blake’s door.

So here’s what happened between the ending of Shattered  proper and the epilogue…

Between the novels

Hope you enjoy, and hope that you’re as excited for July 18th as I am! 🙂

Shattered Bonus Content – The Pictures

It’s Christmas time and with that in mind, I wanted to give you readers a little present.  It’s a bonus scene that I’ve plotted for a while now, but have held off on since it contains a bit of a spoiler.

I suppose this really could be considered bonus content for  Intoxicated  as well, since the pictures in question were given to Eric during the first book.  If you remember correctly, Lauren gave him some rather – ahem – intimate pictures as a Christmas gift.  Apparently, he’d been asking for her to do this for quite some time and she’d finally given in, one last attempt to save their relationship.

However, this scene doesn’t occur until later in Shattered.   Specifically, it comes after the infamous Chapter Twenty-Two, which makes me cry just a little bit every time I read it.  By this time in the action, both parties have picked up the pieces from their failed relationship and moved on.  Yet Eric can’t resist seeing her one final time to sort of make amends.  As much as Eric had come across as a douche during the course of Book One and the start of Book Two, in reality he was never that bad.  This arc provides him with some much needed atonement and may even garner him a few fans.  I know I like him better now.

So click on the link below and enjoy!  And above all, have a wonderful holiday with whoever it is that you love.

The Pictures

Back to Reality

Well, that was fun.

Tuesday was release day for the second book in my series and I’m happy to report that it felt like a success.  Since I use a distributor for all retailers other than Smashwords (books sold/viewed on their own site) and Amazon, I’ve yet to see how the preorder angle came through for me.  Those results will be delayed, so it may be a month or two before I can render a final verdict.

Success is a subjective word; what makes me happy is my opinion alone.  I certainly didn’t break into any best seller lists.  I didn’t even come close.  At one point on Amazon, Book 2 was something like 39,000 out of all paid books in the Kindle store.  Since that’s the highest sales rank I’ve ever had there, I’m beyond overjoyed.

The point is not to brag, but to share my experiences with those who have asked because they are interested.  And yes, some people have asked.  So here it is.

As you may be aware, I did a blog tour for Book One with marginal results.  I’ve posted about the highs and lows of that experience here already.  So it’s understandable that I would be loathe to sign up for a blog tour for Book Two.  In fact, I considered doing no paid marketing at all, leaving everything up to myself and the preorder gods.  In the end, I compromised and set up a release day event (through another outlet than my original blog tour company).

I chose a release day event with a giveaway.  Yes, I debated long and hard about that.  It all goes back to my reluctance to be like that kid in school who paid people a dollar to be their friend.  But I realized that a lot of people like giveaways and a lot of authors do them.  I settled on an Amazon gift card and free sets of both Book One and Two.  A reader commented on one of the sites that it was an awesome giveaway.  Thanks – I came up with it all on my own; I must not be too bad at this whole marketing thing!

Here’s what I can report after the dust settled:

  • I sold more books just on Amazon alone in that one day than I did during my entire blog tour for Book One.
  • I even sold copies of Book One, though it technically wasn’t included in the release day event.
  • I got a lot of word of mouth.  Seriously, my phone was blowing up with the amount of mentions I received on Twitter from bloggers and plain old readers alike.  It kind of made me feel like I really am an author 😉
  • I increased both my Twitter followers and my blog subscribers substantially.  Yes, I’m aware that this is a ploy to obtain more entries for my giveaway, but I’m going to do my best to keep as many of these new folks around as possible.  Hi, new people!  I’m glad that you are here.  Really.
  • Several people also added both books in the series to their Goodreads shelves.  I now have – wait for it – fans.  I am humbled and squealing all at the same time.

Keep in mind that I have a few advantages over where I was back in February/March.  Namely, I have a book that’s already been published.  I have a blog that now has more than two posts in its archives.  I’ve grown more comfortable with interacting on Twitter.  I had the preorder option this time.  So maybe not all of the above results are solely from the event or the giveaway, but my gut instinct is that they helped considerably.

So what now?  That celebrity for a day feeling has passed, but everybody knows that the marketing never truly stops.  So it’s back to reality for me.  Back to creating content here that people want to read, share and comment on.  This means posts that appeal not only to my self-pubbed friends, but also to those readers who want extra insight into my books.  Back to trying to be interesting and witty in 140 characters or less.  As my husband so succinctly puts it : “Twitter’s calling”.

And perhaps the most important part – on to Book Three!

Shattered Bonus Content – The Game

I asked and you delivered!  On the eve of Shattered  going live, my lovely Twitter followers got me over the 2,500 mark.  As promised, here’s your bonus content.

This scene takes place during events fairly near the beginning of the book.  If you’ve read as far as the free preview will allow, there won’t be any spoilers here.  If you have the full book and have gotten to this point in Lauren’s version of events, there’s a little more meaning to it.  (Wink, wink.)

To set things up, this scene takes place on the night of the Red Wings game.  In the first book, Lauren bought Matthew two tickets to the hockey game in Detroit for his birthday.  Matthew originally assumed the second ticket was for Lauren, but that had never been her intention.  She’d planned on him taking Chris.  Considering how things ended between them in Book One, it’s probably fairly obvious that Lauren won’t be going now.

Blake gets the narrator duties in this one, and she may or may not give us a little taste of what Book Three will cover.  You know me; I won’t show my hand too early in the process…

If you haven’t yet checked out Shattered at your favorite e-book retailer, there’s no time like the present.  The buy links will always be available for you on the right hand side of the page.  Just click the book cover and then the symbol for your preferred retailer.  Here are the ones that are available now; it will also distribute to a few other sites shortly (including Oyster).  For your convenience, I’ve listed where you can buy it now below:

 

 

So, click on the link below to access a little bit of sibling banter Blake and Matthew style.  Hope you enjoy!

 

The Game

 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Shattered

I had a lot of fun coming up with the top ten list for  Intoxicated,   so I figured it was a feature that I wanted to continue for the other novels in the series.  So here you go, get ready for some  Shattered  trivia.

1.  After writing the first draft of  Shattered,  I went back and read  Intoxicated.   Ultimately, I was very glad that I’d done so because there were a few continuity issues that I noticed that no one else probably would.  Two of the biggest were that Lauren’s workplace had automatic doors (in book two, I mentioned someone opening the front door for her, which wouldn’t be necessary) and that I inadvertently had two characters named Stacy.

2.  I got through two whole books without giving poor Chris a last name.  Since he is going to play a huge part in book three, this made me feel kind of guilty.  One of the bit players in book two got a full name and Chris was still just plain Chris.  So it was epilogue to the rescue.

3.  I wrote the poem at the beginning of the book in sixth grade.  That was way more years ago than I’d be willing to admit to, but it’s haunted me ever since.  And no, it wasn’t originally about a romantic relationship, but it works well for several characters in our story.

4.  Chapter Twenty-Two makes me cry.  I cried when I wrote it and I still tear up when I read it.

5.  My original cover art idea featured a vase of roses that had fallen to the floor and, you guessed it, shattered.  Once I latched on to the wine glass concept for the entire series, that image was scrapped.

6.  Though the title implies otherwise, I didn’t want this to be the most depressing sequel ever written.  For this reason, I wrote Gracie heavily into the action to provide her unique brand of comic relief.

7.  My plan for the book initially was to reintroduce Matthew much later – maybe about halfway through.  It got to the point where I just couldn’t keep him away any longer and I personally think the story is better for it.

8.  Like with most of the other homes in the book, I know exactly where Lauren’s place is.  I drive by the addition several times per week and actually watched as this particular house was built.  When I saw it, I knew that it would be perfect for her.

9.  Very early outlines of the plotline (back when it was a one and done) had a huge story arc involving a car accident wherein the Mustang got totaled.  I realized how much I loved that damn car and how I couldn’t get rid of it.  I’m pleased to announce that the Mustang will remain intact throughout the entire series.  The only thing that I kept from that whole idea was Chris and Lauren’s “talk” which now obviously comes as a result of very different circumstances.

10.  Though  Intoxicated  will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first published work,  Shattered  is the true love story that I wanted to tell.  As much as people refer to book one as being a love triangle with a cliffhanger ending (which it definitely has), everything in that book leads up to where we are now and where we’ll go from here.

Can’t wait to see what happens?  Download the first 20% from Smashwords right now by clicking on this link:  http://bit.ly/1d0zYCg . Like what you see?  You can preorder from B&N, iTunes or Kobo right now by clicking on the book cover over on the sidebar and selecting the symbol for your favorite e-reading device.  Amazon doesn’t offer preorders for self-publishers, but rest assured, it will make its way there, too.

Ready for October 29th?

 

 

 

 

(Pre)Selling the Drama

Preorders are commonplace nowadays.  Just sitting down to write this post, I thought of several things that I – or my husband – have preordered and are currently waiting for.  Most of them are PS4 related, but there is a certain book that is coming out in December that will automatically be downloaded to my Kindle come midnightish on that glorious day.  And, no, I’m not talking about anything I’ve written.

Really.

Now I am.  As I’ve alluded to previously, I’ve decided to join the ranks of game developers, musicians and e-book authors and make my upcoming release available for preorder.  Mind you, this is only available to me as a self-pubbed author via Smashwords, so that means it will show up on B&N, iTunes and Kobo with that option, but not on Amazon.  So for the seven people out there waiting in breathless anticipation to find out what happens next, as long as you choose one of those formats, you can order it, forget you bought it and be happily surprised when it unexpectedly shows up.  And for the Amazon readers, I’m going to try my darnedest to make it go live on the same day.

As I’m prone to do, I’ve thought long and hard about this.  Not the actual preorder bit, because as soon as it was announced that it was live to all Smashwords users I was on board.  It just makes sense to have your book come out on the same day everywhere and this is by far the easiest way to make that happen.  Come on, ask me the release date for my first book.  There are many of them; do you want Amazon, Smashwords, B&N or Apple?  All different.

No, here are the things that I am left to ponder:

1.  When should I upload my book?

You have to have a complete, formatted version.  You can’t upload a work in process to motivate yourself to get it done by a specific date.  It has to have a cover, title, things of that nature.  It should be pretty and shiny because people are going to be able to sample it while it is in preorder status.  It doesn’t, however, have to be the final-final product.

So in essence, I could submit my manuscript tonight because I have all of those things right now.  Then I could go back through it with a fine tooth comb as many times as my heart desires in the upcoming weeks and upload any changes later.  The people that preordered would get the final copy submitted; not the one that was out there the day they clicked the “buy” button.

But will I really do this?  I read my first book about seven times before I was comfortable hitting the upload button.  Even now I still find things in it that I would go back and change.  If my new release passed the formatting hurdles imposed by Smashwords et al, would I really go back through it time and again?  Or would I just set it and forget it while focusing on marketing and writing book three?

2.  What’s my release date?

Conventional wisdom says to give your preorder a lead time of at least 6 weeks or so before release.  This gives you time to market and to tweak things if needed.  I think that’s a good call.  This means that I’m looking at sometime in October at the earliest, which is right around where my goal was anyway.

Or should I make it November?

Most books, music, movies and games come out on Tuesdays.  Should I also make my book release on a Tuesday?  I know I can set any date I want to, but would people think it’s weird to release on a Friday or Saturday?  Logistically, this would work better for me given my schedule.  After all, I barely touch my computer on Monday night so I’d have to make an exception to upload my book to KDP the Monday night before release everywhere else.  Then keep my fingers crossed that it would go live as quickly as the last one.

Or maybe I should make it a date that is meaningful to me.  My wedding anniversary’s coming up; just an idea.  “Remember the year my book came out?”

3. Once I do pull the trigger, what happens next?

Obviously, my book gets sent to retailers and is then displayed next to my other one.  People can sample it and choose to purchase it then.  I get that part.

But the true question is, what do I do next to get people to even want to notice it?  I’ve been batting a few ideas around.  I’ve thought about posting the cliffhanger ending of book one.  I’ve considered establishing Twitter accounts for a couple of the characters and having them banter back and forth with each other.

I haven’t considered doing a blog tour again.  Or a giveaway.  I’m not bitter at how things went with book one; I’m just not convinced that it helped drive sales, though it did get my name out there.  Now that my name’s out there, I’m taking back control of it.

I’m excited to see how this little experiment goes.  I think that preorders for self-pubbed authors are another step in the right direction for us to be taken seriously.  Now we have the opportunity to announce a release date without having to cross our fingers behind our backs.  Or say something generic like “Fall 2013”.

So when will Amazon wake up and join in?