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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!

Exciting News!

Serpentine Creative now has an official YouTube Channel! If you love my contributions to this blog check it out for more content straight from me to you! Also enjoy my totally cheesy book trailers and music inspiration for my novels.

Serpentine Creative Channel

What’s in a name?

A pen name, pseudonym, nome de plume, or literary double is an assumed name used by a writer instead of their real or legal name.

Reasons to use a Pen Name

Writing in Multiple Genres – The most common use of pen names today is by established authors who don’t want to aggravate their base readership by producing novels outside their established genre. Examples include Nora Roberts who uses JD Robb to pen her suspense novels and Jessica Byrd who changed her name to JR Ward to publish her highly successful dark suspense The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Switching Publishers– Perhaps you have an exclusivity deal with a publisher under your current name, but you have a project they aren’t as excited to publish as you are. Using a pen name would allow you to take that work to another publisher or even self-publish.

Anonymity– Maybe you just want some privacy or a strict separation between your personal and professional life. Much like in the past, many authors have day jobs or positions within their community that would be negatively impacted by their choice of writing. There have been several cases in the news about teachers who were fired or shut out of their community because it was found they wrote erotica or dark romance.

Name too common or complicated– Becoming an author has been made easier than ever with the rise of free self-publishing platforms. Standing out amongst the millions is even harder if you have a common name like John Smith or Mary Johnson. In this case, you want to choose a name that will help distinguish you from all the rest. On the flip side, if you have a long first or last name or a name with more consonants than vowels, you may stand out negatively. Hard to pronounce names mean less word of mouth recommendations and if your name is too long it might not fit neatly on your covers.

Things to consider when choosing a Pen Name

The similarity to famous Authors– You might think it a great idea to choose a pen name like JP Rawling or James Peterson, but it can actually hurt your ability to sell. The literary world is full of diehard fans who will gladly pan your work and spam your books with negative reviews in defense of their favorite authors.

Does the name you chose fit with your chosen genre– A name like Sly Nyx will be more widely accepted amongst Paranormal Romance, and Fantasy readers than Historical fiction.

Can be a variation of your real name– If you aren’t feeling particularly creative or have a name “issue” as mentioned above, it is perfectly okay to shorten your name how you see fit. It will also make filing your taxes easier since it is still technically your legal name.  Example, Elizabeth Marie Johnson could become Eliza Mar or E.M. Johns.

Position on Brick & Mortar Shelves- A much-overlooked factor in choosing a pen name. Depending on the number of items in stock a name towards the end of the alphabet like S-Z is more likely to fall on bottom shelves and away from the valuable eye-level shelf space key to grabbing reader’s attention.

Need a little help coming up with a name? Check out these fun pen name generators!

Pseudonym Generator

Reedsy Pen Name Generator

Kindlepreneur Pen Name Generator

Shifted Into Love

I told you I had a lot of big things coming this year! One of them being a romantic shifter short, featured in the Shifted Into Love Anthology! My short, Coy Wolf is so spicy it’ll knock your socks off.

Shifted Into Love is a hot collaboration by Seven Women Authors of Color. The Release date is set for February 1st but you can reserve your copy today on Amazon!

Blurbs for Shifted into Love

From the sands of Egypt to the decadent halls of Zargobia, these seven stories will take you on the paranormal adventures your heart craves; foiling assassination attempts to shifter speed dating to being auctioned off to the highest bidder or fighting your way through the pack to claim your mate. Every story features the sexy shifters your heart and body desires, they break barriers and definitely some hearts. 

Genesis is here for two things and two things only: free food and shots. Fresh off a devastating heartbreak, the last thing on her mind is dating…especially a shifter.

Forced on a weekend getaway to the Inn for her friend’s twenty-first birthday, Crimson finds herself unable to obey the Inn’s one rule. Hands off the shifters! Sebastien, the infuriatingly handsome Pack leader and the Inn’s star attraction.

In the world of glitter, Death is handsome. He walks the world as a large wolf dog by day, a blood drinking vampire by night. Then he meets a guardian angel. The two share a poignant love breaking all boundaries giving in to their passion.

Protection assignments when the target wasn’t aware of her protection weren’t Cora’s usual fare but when someone tries to kill the prince with her nearby. She’s more than up for the challenge.

Tarnished by scandal, Jade is abandoned by her Pack, family and friends also trying to escape the taint of the scandal. Jade, with nowhere and no one to turn to, finds herself at the infamous, After Market searching for protection and a safe shelter from the storm of scandal following her.

Akil takes one look at her wild beauty and claims her as his own. But Sabra bows to no man, and she vows to never yield. Their passions topple one another in a battle of wills that threatens to claim them both.

On the hunt for a mate, the gathering is the perfect place to start. Armed with a plan and a modest list of qualifications she sets out to find her ideal match. Tyr checks every box on Sequoia’s list except the most important.

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