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PNWA Conference Day 1

I attended the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference in Seattle this year and this is just a summary of my takeaways from the first day of the event.

Workshops I Attended

Writing a Screenplay by Kim Hornsby

  • Log lines are everything
  • Pantsing isn’t going to cut it for screenplay writing
  • Writing for TV is way different than writing for a movie

Branding by Steena Holmes

  • Color theory is you best friend
  • know you audience
  • your brand is not your books

Pitchfest- Fiction with Author Mentor Kim Hornsby

  • have a strong elevator pitch
  • know what makes your work different
  • sell yourself as well as your book

Networking Knowledge

  • Don’t be afraid to just talk to people
  • If you are a POC expect to be bombarded with questions about diversity or on the flip side the complete ignorance of it
  • Bring a notebook to write down who you have met and what you discussed. I met tons of writers with cool ideas that I want to follow so that when their books are available I can snatch them up.

That’s what I got from day one. It was highly informative but at the same time it was still just an introductory to what was to come on day two of the conference. I was super hyped this first day and I got a lot of positive feedback because of it.

Serpentine Summer|Wrap Up

I know what you are thinking, summer isn’t quite over yet. Still now is the time to reflect on the goals I set out to accomplish this summer and see what still needs a mad dash to get accomplished. If you follow the Serpentine Creative Channel on YouTube you have probably seen my videos about the Hot and Sticky turned Serpentine Summer Writing Challenge. I gave myself three whole months to accomplish a modestly ambitious (is that a a thing?) set of tasks.

So here is the update on my Serpentine Summer Goals!

  1. Complete Secret of Ceres 2 Draft – Done and in editing!
  2. Outline Secret of Ceres 3 & 4 – Still a work in progress
  3. Write 2 “off topic” novellas – One is done and the other is still in progress
  4. Coy Wolf Audiobook “StereoGoals”- Postponed

I may not have gotten everything on my list accomplished but I feel pretty good with where I am. I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew but these past three months have been nonstop fun for the Serpentine Creative Camp.

We participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, hit up a couple of local bookstores to do signings during Bookstore Romance Day, rocked an Instagram challenge, hosted giveaways, and kept you entertained and informed on our blog and YouTube Channel.

Thank you so much for your continued support of Serpentine Creative and Stella Williams! Let’s rock out this Fall together and see what magic happens next!

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Our Winners!

zekainhuman and elainabakernovels

A very big thanks to everyone who participated in the Bookstore Romance Day Giveaway! Winners will receive an email with instructions on how to claim their prize.

Peace, Love, and Happy Reading!

Stella Williams

Know Your Audience!

Today’s post is not only informative but a bit of a rant about the rampant false marketing of books in today’s market.

One of the first steps in marketing your books is to determine your genre and target audience. Take a good look at your novel and ask yourself these questions. I will be answering these questions for my novel Ferocious as an example.

What tropes and themes are prominent in your work?

  • strong female lead
  • enemies to lovers
  • magic use and vampires
  • characters of color

What genre fits your novel best based on these tropes?

  • Paranormal Romance

Are there any secondary genres or niche genres that your work fits into?

  • Urban Fantasy
  • African-American Romance
  • Urban Fiction (PRO TIP: Don’t confuse Urban Fiction with Street Lit, Street Lit is a subgenre of Urban Fiction)
  • Fantasy Romance

Who is your Target Readership?

  • Age 18+ due to sexual content
  • Women & Men – romance and fantasy readers

Now that I have a general idea of my readership, I can look into promoting to those particular groups. That being said there are a few caveats that lend to the rant portion of this article.

Say you are a Non POC who wrote a book that contains a main character of color. Should you market your book in categories specific to that ethnic group? The answer here is complicated. A lot of ethnicity or race specific promotion groups prefer #ownvoices work. Not saying you can’t promote there but don’t be surprised if your work is warmly welcomed into those spaces.

Be mindful that just because your book has one character of color does not make your book of interest to readers of that ethnicity.

I have seen an increase in Non-POC authors including a character of color into their books in order to appear more “diverse” in their writing. Not only that but using said character to promote their work as of interest to POC communities (ie BookBubs African-American Interest category). As a reader I can tell you that most of us aren’t going to be fooled by this. In fact it will more than likely get you slammed on twitter and in reviews than be of any benefit to do so.

These promotion opportunities were created in response to the call for minority representation in the literary world and the #ownvoices movement. You have every right to market as you see fit, its your product and your money but if you are truly an ally to diversity, think twice before taking space in spaces not intended for you.

If you can’t wrap your head around that, think of it this way. My book features magic users. There magic is a part of their spiritual beliefs. With that being said I could market my novel to christian and religious romance readers because my book thinly references spirituality. Would I be wrong to do so? Heck yes! There is literally nothing else about my books that fits that category and would be a waste of my time and lead to pretty poor reviews by the few religious romance readers who chose to read my book because of said promotion.

I say all this to say, know your audience and avoid making the same pitfalls as other authors who chose to reach in the wrong places just for a few sales.

Stereo Goals Redux

If you are a long-time follower of this blog you might remember my first attempt at a DIY audiobook. While I had an awesome weekend hanging out with my dad and cringing through my sex scenes, all in all my efforts didn’t make the cut. Xander’s Claim has yet to make its audiobook debut and while I still have the recordings, I have since revamped the entire novel making them useless.

Oh, the pitfalls of hasty publishing…lol

Xander’s Claim all cued up

Now that I am more experienced and am producing a higher quality of literary work, I have decided to give making audiobooks another shot. Sadly, I have moved too far away to get my Dad into the recording process this time. However, he graciously gifted me with all of the programs and material needed. I am a proud Daddy’s girl and it shows.

The first step in creating an audiobook is choosing which book to read or have read. Since I am a little pressed for time and I don’t want to over tax myself. I decided to take my chances with my latest short story release, Coy Wolf. Get creative with me this August in my first truly solo attempt at an audiobook!

My next sacrifice to the audiobook spirits

Real Talk|Author Politico

In today’s political climate it is almost impossible to keep politics away from your author brand. I say screw being neutral. Art is supposed to stir the emotions, convey the authors world view. It doesn’t matter if you write non-fiction or fiction, romance or horror; at the end of the day your political and moral beliefs will shine through even the most critical of editing.

My words of advice, don’t hide it. Be true to yourself and your beliefs. At least as much as you are willing to publicly defend. I am not privileged enough to be able to separate politics from my daily life and therefore I don’t stress about even trying. It can be a burden at times but mostly its freeing. You don’t have to like or agree with everything I say but I encourage you not to separate the person from the art.

Sincerely,

Stella Williams

New Release!

I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave you all without something new from me this summer. I am so excited to announce that not only is the compilation of my Maura’s Men Series available in Ebook format. It also includes the much anticipated origin story for the Evil Vampiress herself, Maura.

Maura’s Men Trilogy

Available now of Kindle Unlimited

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

Xander’s Claim

Xander’s nightmare past has left him with some serious control issues. Without the burning hatred that kept him going when he was under Maura’s thumb, he had nothing else to live for. Maura had destroyed everything he had once been. Jaded and closed off to the world around him, Xander is completely unprepared for the arrival of Cat.

Claude’s Conquest

Claude is nobody’s hero, yet he finds himself saving another damsel in distress. He should have learned his lesson the first time. The charming and intelligent Gretchen threatens everything Claude has come to accept about himself.

Shane’s Redemption

Shane needs help. His addiction is getting out of control. His friends are on the verge of putting him to ground. Then there is Molly, the love of his life. He’s spent years wallowing in guilt over her death only to find out she was brought back by Maura of all people. Shane is forced to make a choice. Will Shane continue to let his past destroy his future or find a new approach to winning Molly’s heart?

+BONUS SHORT Origins: Maura’s Revenge

#NotHotandSuperSticky

So it has come to my attention that one of the creators of the #HotandSticky Summer writing challenge is a total creeper who preys on young women across social media. In light of this news, I am no longer going to be completing the challenge under the #HotandSticky banner. I have also stopped following the Stripped Cover Lit channel on YouTube.

#serpentinesummer writing challenge

#HotandSticky

A summer writing challenge to reinvigorate the writing soul! Set for the months of June through September I created my contract and am steadily checking off my to do list. Check out my contract video and Week 1 Update Below!

Stella’s Bargain Books Guide

If you are an avid reader like me, it can really have an effect on your bank account. Here are my top places to get bargain books.

  1. The Library– Of course, the library is the number one place to get books. Not only is it free to borrow physical books but most libraries have expanded to loaning out ebooks as well. On top of borrowing books, public libraries may also have a small section of books for sale or for free. These books are typically older books that are no longer being checked out at a rate sustainable for the library. Bonus if the books are for sale you will know that you are contributing to your local library programs and collection.
  • The Dollar Store– Brand New books for $1! Heck, yes! Most of the books are overstock or lesser known titles.  My local store typically carries general fiction, mystery, religious, and self-help titles. Of course, the availability and selection will depend on the store in your area.

Checking Out Titles at the Dollar Store!

  • Thrift Store– Books are generally priced in the $5 and below range. There are books of all genres typically available. The downside is the quality of the book. There is no guarantee that pages won’t be marked up, have personalized stickers and stamps from strangers and occasionally a missing page or two. So while it’s a great place for books on a budget be sure to check the book thoroughly for damage.
  • Grocery Store Clearance Bins– Grocery stores usually only sell best sellers, and there is a high rate of rotation. That means you can generally find brand new bestsellers on clearance from 10% up to 50% off the cover price.

So many Books at the Thrift Store

  • Bookstore Clearance– Brick and Mortar bookstores are fifth on the list because they generally have lower discount rates on their books. You may pay more at a local bookstore than larger chain stores, but I like to shop local as much as possible.
  • The Internet– The internet is last on my list simply because you can’t physically inspect your book before it arrives. Even more reputable dealers like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles can have bad print runs with blurry covers or cut off text.

Where do you get your bargain books? Drop suggestions and links in the comments!

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