A few days ago, I had an amazing coaching session with author Jami Albright. She’s a best-selling Kindle romance author who writes a book a year. Today’s popular indie wisdom proclaims, “Write a book a month, or at least every three months to keep the Amazon algorithm primed.” But what about those of us who can’t write a book a month? Where does that leave us?
I stumbled upon a YouTube video in my indie author’s Facebook group of Jami speaking at the 20 Books to 50k conference. Jami’s talk was so inspiring that I decided to try a coaching session with her. It was amazing! She gave me a TON of personal feedback in our one-hour call. She also told me I needed to make a few changes—some of them big. One that hurts, too.
Right out of the gate Jami asked, “Why aren’t you marketing your books as Academy books?” Sure, my Nexis Angel series takes place at Montrose Academy. Apparently, that’s a whole genre now! Funny story—I’m currently reading several academy books on Kindle Unlimited to educate myself on my competitors, ahem comparable authors. ;) I just hadn’t put two-and-two together that my books were actually “Academy Books.” Three cheers for an outsider’s fresh perspective!
More good news, my brand new covers and my professionally edited books are both up to snuff. But there are some tweaks I need to make to my blurbs, my categories, and my keywords, which she personally helped me upgrade. There are several other minor updates I’ll need to make behind the scenes (I won’t bore you with the details). However, there are two major changes I’ve been advised to make—one good and one bittersweet.
Good news first. How would you feel if I added a Facebook Readers group? It would be exclusively for Nexis Angel series readers and fans to discuss the books. I’d be there to add insight, give extra feedback, and maybe even a sneak peak at some deleted scenes and such. I hope to make that available ASAP. If you’re interested, check my FB author page for all the latest.
Now we come to the bittersweet change I alluded to earlier. I’ve been advised to take my prequel off of Amazon. That means The Nexis Awakening will no longer be available for sale or on Kindle Unlimited. Instead, it will be an exclusive freebie to readers who join my email newsletter list. Jami and I discussed how I might write another free reader magnet to entice readers to join my mailing list, but in the end it’s just easier to use a novella I’ve already written. Especially one that contains spoilers for Book 1 in the series, The Nexis Secret.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I will be removing The Nexis Awakening from Amazon on December 8, 2019. If you haven’t read it yet, you still have time to download a copy here.
To be honest, I love the new cover of The Nexis Awakening so much that I want to write more about Lucy’s brother, James. When I first saw the cover model I said, “Oh, there he is. Nice to meet you, James.” My cover designer found the PERFECT face for James. Now I’m imagining what he’s been up to in Europe since his disappearance. Wouldn’t that make a good story? Needless to say, a version of James and his story may reappear in the near future. So don’t despair too much. ;)
I’m hoping that these changes will help my books reach more readers—and help me serve my current readers better. If you’re reading this, that means YOU. I want to interact with you more. I want to know what you think. Maybe I’ll even let your feedback shape the course of the next two books in the series! Mostly, I just want to know what you like and what you don’t like.
I’m not like some authors who just write for themselves or for the love of writing. I write for the people like you who read my books. Not because you have to, but because you want to.
I want to know why you read—and why you read my books. Are you like me as a teen, looking to escape a troubling home life? Or just escape in general? Or are you the kind of reader who wants to learn something new when you read? Maybe it’s a combination of the two, or another option I hadn’t thought of. Either way, I want to know!
So tell me, why do you love to read? What are your favorite kinds of books?
It's cover reveal week for the Nexis Angel series. I'm rebranding the entire series! I've commissioned some great new covers that I love. I hope you do, too.
A new cover will drop every day leading up to the much-anticipated Crossing Nexis pre-order! That's right, folks. Book 2 in the Nexis Angel series will go on pre-order later this week. (Depending on when Amazon approves it!)
Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy all 3 new covers! I'll be updating my FB author page and this website daily.
Here's a sneak peak at the new cover for The Nexis Secret.
It's been a long time since you've heard from me or seen any new content from me. I'm back! I'd like to share a little about why I took a forced hiatus from writing. Plus, I've got exciting news about what's coming up in the next few months.
I've been dealing with a family tragedy that forced me to start over. It was something I never asked for and never imagined. I'm sure someday I'll write a book about it. For now, I'm happy to be writing at all!
Speaking of writing, I'm finally ready to release the sequel to my debut novel, The Nexis Secret. Are you ready for Book 2 in the Nexis Angel Series? Crossing Nexis is coming in November!
To prepare for my new release, I'm also relaunching the first two books in the series! The Nexis Secret and The Nexis Awakening are both getting redesigned covers and updated content. Look for a sneak peak of the awesome new covers in your inbox soon!
If you're still reading this, thanks for sticking with me this long! I'm planning to revamp my email newsletter, too. My goal is to send you an email twice a month. Nothing fancy, mostly author updates and brand new content like book reviews, character profiles, and other behind-the scenes Nexis insights.
If that's something you're intetested in, you can sign up here! I want to build a community where we can chat about books and all the things you love! Let's start the conversation now!
What do you want to see in Book 2, Crossing Nexis? Is there a plot point you've always wanted explained or a character whose backstory you want to know more about?
If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you think!
Exciting news from Las Vegas ... The Nexis Secret was just named a finalist in Young Adult category of the
I Heart Indie contest sponsored by the Las Vegas Romance Writers of America Chapter. Squeee!
It's been a long time since my writing's been up for an award, so you bet I'm stoked about this one. Of course, this is my debut novel so maybe I'm a bit of a overacheiver. Who cares? Time for a happy dance!
Just being a finalist is exciting enough. They announce the winners of the contest on October 15, 2016 at the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival. Can you stand it? Check out the screenshot of my competition.
Confession time. As a debut author, I do suffer from sequelphobia. This week I'm guest posting over at Everyone's Story about my recent (and ongoing) battle with the dreaded Sequelphobia. So come on over to Elaine Stock's blog and read all about it. One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of The Nexis Secret. So head on over for your chance to win.
Welcome to my dining room table, where I just brainstormed chapters 16-23 in my sequel Crossing Nexis. Finally, it feels like my story is complete! Now I just have to write these new scenes. No pressure...
Tomorrow, I'm guest posting on Everyone's Story about my battle with Sequelphobia. (It's a real thing, people!) Brainstorming is one of the ways I learned to deal with it. I've been wrestling with the plot of Crossing Nexis for a long time now. Nothing seemed right. Until now.
I was looking for ways to add more action to this sequel. Now, Lucy and her friends get to go to some cool places in these scenes. An underground chamber. A secret passage hidden in the NYC subway system. A heavily-guarded facility in upstate New York.
Maybe you see all these notecards and think, "That's a lot of work." My hubs asked if I was done playing my game of "Memory." Ha-ha. But a note card is a manageable amount. You can only fit 100 words or so on a notecard. And each notecard represents a scene. I'd argue that the time these notecards save, plus the inspiration they produce, is well worth it.
So there you have it. Just a little peek into one writer's world. Now off to fill in the blanks.
I’m looking for new members to add to my virtual street team, Barbara's Angels. Though my book has been out exclusively on Kindle since it's debut, I'm gearing up to release it to other markets. And I need your help! Who will be among the few, the brave, the generous to take up their review pens and help an author out?
About the Book
THE NEXIS SECRET: A YA Novel
Angels. A Seer. A secret struggle.
Lucy McAllen was your typical snarky teen, until she got shipped off to boarding school in New York City. Now she's unraveling the mystery of two secret societies hidden behind the scenes. And discovering powers she never knew she had. Why are two Romeos battling for Lucy's heart and allegiance?
Because she's having strange visions of a supernatural variety. Shadows. Prophetic scenes. Angels of pure light. Not your garden-variety daydreams. Maybe she's The Seer, with a gift both societies have waited 100 years to find.
Can a girl who sees the supernatural stop one society's twisted plan?
Will You Join the Team?
If you choose to join my read to review team there’s only a few requirements, and some great benefits.
Subscribe Here to Join the Team!
I’m taking reader applications now and there’s limited availability, so if you’re interested subscribe here: http://www.barbarahartzler.com/barbaras-angels.html
APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN for a limited time. Thanks for considering my request. I look forward to having you on my team.
Special props to Nadine Brandes for letting me rip book launch team ideas from her blog: Will You Be On My Book Launch Team?
Being an indie author is like standing in line for the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. At first it's exciting. The line looks like the movie set and you think, “I’m here! I’m actually here.” Then an hour rolls by and you think, “I’m here … I’m still here?” As hour two approaches you wonder if you’ve wasted your time. Was it really worth it?
When you finally make hop on that ride it’s AWESOME! Better than you could’ve ever imagined. It was SO amazing you think, “I’ve gotta do this again!” When you walk back to the end of the line it hits you. Is it worth another wait?
Unfortunately, this scenario is all-too-similar to my experience in indie publishing. Because it’s hard. It’s immensely harder than I ever realized—doing everything on my own and feeling like a failure sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, there were times I’ve been successful. Like when I launched my first novel, I sold almost 50 copies in 1 week. Or when I did a free promo for my devotional. After almost 90 days on the market it finally got some notice—shooting from #1758 in paid devotionals to #1 free devotional overnight.
Yet those were only fleeting successes, 4-7 days max. So far, there’s no afterboom. Not even a tiny little aftershock, just a sliver of a residue from the two perks I’ve experienced as an indie author. The devotional is down, but my glorious debut novel is consistently in the top 100 - 200 in its category, Christian Fantasy, thanks to Kindle Unlimited borrows. And hopefully they will only build from there.
After 9 months of indie authorship I still have times where I feel like throwing in the towel. But I know I can’t. Because indie publishing is the opposite of traditional publishing.
The Slow Build
Traditional publishing, the kind that gets you in brick-and-mortar stores or on NYT bestseller lists, is all about the first 90 days. They do everything they can to prepare for a big flashy book launch to sell as many copies in the first three months as possible. Why? Because that’s the best way to hit the bestseller lists, and then the book will sell itself. That’s why it takes 1-2 years to get a traditional book ready for market.
Indie publishing is the exact opposite. It takes time to build your audience, and there’s no one right way to do that. Many indies espouse writing more books, that 5-10 books on the market will up your readership. But I’ve seen tons of good reviews and endorsements do the same thing for a really good book. There’s also tons of theories out there about marketing your indie book that in my experience are simply trial-and-error. One strategy that works for a certain author may not work for my book.
The Tailor-made Path
Where does that leave someone like me, a debut indie author just trying to make her way? When it comes to my dreams, I don’t like wasting my time. I’ve discovered that I have to find my own path—one that I have to tailor-make for myself.
If something everyone does, like free FB marketing, doesn’t work for me, I research other avenues and move on. I don’t have the energy to keep beating my head against a wall hoping someone else’s “successful” method will eventually work for me. So how much time to I spend trying new methods? At least a month, as much time as I feel it takes to fully vet that marketing strategy.
Keep an Open Mind
Keep your options open, evaluate the results, and be honest with yourself. Truthfully, I really love the idea of free FB marketing to book groups. It’s easy and cheap. But I’ve tracked the clicks using booklinker.net, and found that at first I sold 2-3 books a week, but now get no traction. None. Will I still use the FB method? Yes, I’ll still experiment with different memes just to see if a new format makes the difference. But there’s no point spending hours a day on something that doesn’t work.
I like to say, “Don’t knock it till you try it,” but that doesn’t mean try everything. In the end, I think the best strategy is to keep an open mind, and do your research. Keep telling yourself, “Don’t give up,” even when you feel like throwing in the towel. It’s what we do when things get difficult that shows who we are really are on the inside.
Have you overcome something difficult recently? Do tell! We could use some inspiration over here.
Psalm 139 is one of my absolute favorite Bible passages for many different reasons. It’s a great passage about how much God knows me, how He made me, and how He has great plans for me. When I reread this passage recently, verse 12 struck me in a new light.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
–Psalm 139:11-12 (NIV)
How many times do I want to hide from God? When I mess up, aka sin, or just plain get it wrong. I always want to run and hide, but I never feel like I can. And now I know why it never works. In Bible college, my theology professor tried to explain it to me. There was one question on the test that I got wrong–and I didn’t understand why. He told me that we are always in God’s presence. There’s nowhere to hide. “For darkness is as light to you.” Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
If God is everywhere, even in my darkness, then it’s not really as dark as it seems. Is it? Of course it still hurts when things don’t go my way. Sometimes it really hurts. But instead of it being pitch black, maybe it’s really a charcoal gray with a light in the corner, waiting to burn away the darkness.
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you.” That means even in the darkness God is with me, holding me tight. Telling me it’s going to be okay. When I stop trying to fix it and let him take over . . . it’s on, baby. He’s made a habit of transforming my blackest moment to charcoal gray, to light gray, to white as snow. In His own unfathomable, out-of-the-box way.
It’s still a process for me. Hey, I’m still learning, too. Learning to look for the light in the darkness. To watch and pray for it. And one day there will be no more darkness.
Here's a throwback post from my very first author event, the 2014 Marnatha book fest. Enjoy!
We all have a comfort zone don’t we? Some are just bigger than others. I confess, my zone of terror includes public speaking, sales, and bragging about myself. But that’s exactly what I had to do this weekend at my first author event. Now that I’ve lived to tell the tale, it’s time to pass along my survival secrets to you. Beware, some of them are surprising.
#1 Sometimes You Just Gotta Jump In
I know, sounds terrifying right? You better believe I was uber-nervous when my friend asked me to do a presentation on Angels in Young Adult Literature. My first author-related speaking engagement ever on a touchy subject like angels. Oh, my! When they announced me as the next speaker, I think a literal brood of butterflies on Redbull waged war in my stomach.
When I walked up there I took the mic and just started talking about angels. I even had my handy visual aids from Kronk to help me calm down. And somehow, praise the Lord, I made it through.
#2 Keep Going When the Going Gets Bumpy
I’ll be the first to admit, my presentation didn’t go as planned. The crowd consisted mostly of kids younger than the upper-age teens that my book targets. In the middle I tried to simplify my talk and ended up rambling off of my notes. Super abnormal! Usually when I get nervous I talk too fast and buzz right through my points in one fell swoop. But my off-note rambling ended up earning more head nods than anything else. I guess that means sometimes you just have to trust yourself.
#3 No Matter How Much You Prepare, You’re Gonna Get Blindsided
Not quite what you were expecting, eh? Me either! I got blindsided three times after my presentation. First, I never expected so many questions from the kids. They were really interested in angels and had their own thoughts to add. Some of them were so off-the-wall funny I was glad I ventured out of my comfort zone.
Then I got waylaid by a “suggestion” on angel theology. While I’m the first to admit I’m no theologian, I did go to Bible college so I know a thing or two about what the good book has to say. This “tip” on angelolgy was something I never heard before, something I never came across in all of my research. Then my husband made a good point. You can do all your research, know your facts cold, and still someone comes up with something that stumps you. It happens all the time in job interviews. The good thing about my left-field stump? I went home and researched. Now I’m better prepared for next time.
The biggest surprise came from the bishop of the church hosting the event. He asked if I could work my presentation into an article for his denomination’s newsletter. That’s right! My first author event ended up leading to my first byline outside of college and this blog! (Check out my upcoming events page for the Scribd of the full article.)
I’m not saying don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because that’s silly. Of course you’ll be afraid. I’m saying do it anyway! No matter what happens you’ll gain experience. There were times it felt like I was crashing and burning, even failing. But that just means I’ll learn from my mistakes and do better next time. After all, no one does something exactly right the first time. It’s all about practice, baby!
Have you learned something you never thought you’d learn unless you left your comfort zone? I’d seriously love to hear all about it!
Barbara Hartzler is the debut author of The Nexis Secret—the story a girl with a gift to see the unseen world of angels. And the two secret societies vying for The Seer's allegiance. The Nexis Secret is inspired by Barbara’s college experiences and peppered with anecdotes from her teen missions trip to New York City. She’s always wanted to write, not necessarily about angels, but the idea was too good to pass up. As a former barista and graphic designer, she loves all things sparkly and purple and is always jonesing for a good cup of joe.