A Month in the Garden

This is a big year for me in terms of milestones. I had a big birthday, though we won’t specify which one. 🙂 I also celebrated thirty years since selling my first book to a publisher and ten years since going indie and becoming my own publisher. I usually rearrange my office and sort my research books in these moments of reassessment, but I knew this reset had to be bigger.

Some of these changes began last year. I enrolled all of my historical romances in KDP Select last fall, and then my paranormal romances earlier this year. I have mixed feelings about having all those eggs in one basket, so to speak, but there are benefits. When I have an update (like the change to my newsletter service) I only have to upload revised files to one portal instead of seven. That saves an enormous amount of time.

Going forward, the plan is to gradually move both suites of work to wide distribution again. Now that I’ve had a few months to catch my breath, I’ll update the interiors as they’re republished at the other portals. My historical romance backlist will start to go wide in September and my PNR will begin to leave KU at the end of October.

I’ve also amalgamated my websites and changed newsletter services this year. Once that was done, I took a hard look at my plans and began to prune them back. I love to do all of the things, but there was just too much on my plate. I cancelled some pre-orders and some contracts for subsidiary rights then headed out to the garden for the month of May. I still had publishing and promotion tasks to finish but I didn’t write for that month.

I needed to make a new plan.

I love my garden and it is extensive. In recent years, I’ve neglected it a bit, because I’ve been working so many hours. It was a delight to focus upon it for an entire month and just think. I made lists, because that’s what I do, of what I was happy about and unhappy about, what gave me stress and what triggered my stress. I listed what I cherished in my life and what I missed, what I wanted to do and accomplish, what was in need of more attention. I began to identify places where I could make changes about all of those things. I also weeded and moved plants, reorganizing the garden as I sorted my thoughts. It was a wonderful break, and one that was overdue.

As a result of my month in the garden, a lot of things are changing in my life right now and for the better. The garden looks better, too!

I made some choices about my work schedule. I want to enjoy my garden and my house. I want to have space in my schedule to craft and to cook. I won’t bore you with the personal choices I made, but I’m feeling much better and more positive than I was earlier this year. Again, as much as I want to write all the things, it makes sense to focus – algorithms favor strong branding and regular publication.

It was time to think like a publisher. If I’m going to write books, I should choose to write books that will perform best in the market and deliver the strongest results. Which of my brands would be the current best choice? A hard look at the market reveals that I’m not delivering content that fits what’s hot in any of my three favored subgenres. Contemporary romance is skewing to darker sexier romances, with the alternative being the other end of the spectrum, sweet often-small-town romances and/or romantic comedies. I don’t particularly want to write either, so it made no sense to launch a new contemporary romance series right now. (Sorry, Aidan.) Paranormal romance is also darker right now with more fantasy elements and a lot more sex. As much as I love my dragon shifter heroes, that isn’t where I want to take them. Arach and even Sebastian will have to wait.

Markets change all the time and the trick is to choose the project most likely to succeed in the foreseeable future. I’m lucky to be able to write in multiple sub-genres, but I knew I needed to choose one brand instead of trying to do it all.

The curious thing is that my historical romance alter-ego has the strongest SEO. This always surprises me since Claire Delacroix’s career ended in 2005 in traditional publishing (which was why I moved on to other sub-genres) but she was reborn with a vengeance in indie and digital just six years later. I decided several years ago to create a new medieval romance series, Blood Brothers, that I hoped would appeal to the current market of historical romance readers. Histrom has always skewed to sexy Regency romances and to Scottish settings – my first love is the Middle Ages but I’ve sent my knights to Scotland before and I knew I could do it again. That series is performing well, the best of all my current series. So, by the time I came out of the garden, I had decided to focus on Delacroix historical romances for the next year. That also gave me the room in my schedule to add a new Regency romance series so that Claire has new releases more often. We’ll see where a more consistent publication schedule takes that brand.

I’ll revisit all of this next May in the garden, but histrom for a year is the current plan. That means things will be quieter on this site.

I’ll post a partial schedule on Claire’s blog tomorrow. 🙂

An Update on Dragon’s Wolf

Dragon's Wolf, book five of the DragonFate novels paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke

If you had pre-ordered Dragon’s Wolf, you’ve probably received a message from your portal of choice that the publication of Arach and Wynter’s story has been cancelled.

It’s actually delayed, but since I don’t know how long it will be, I’ve cancelled the pre-order.

This means that the DragonFate novels have begun their move to KDP Select, along with Coven of Mercy. They’ll be available in KU later this month. Once that series is enrolled, the boxed set Dragons First will also be enrolled and this whole transition will finally be done. (Phew!)

What’s going on? Well, several things. First, I’ve dug into the worldbuilding for Wynter’s side of the story and am discovering so many interesting things about wolves (and wolf-shifters) that I don’t want to rush. I want to spend time with the worldbuilding, and also create a spin-off series for the wolf-shifters Wynter knows.

Secondly, I’m not putting down the words as quickly as was once the case. After ten years of indie publishing, I’m a bit tired.

What’s happened in the last ten years? In the transition from traditional publishing to indie, I became my own publisher. That means commissioning covers, hiring editors, formatting book interiors and doing promotion, all the jobs that are done by the house, as well as writing. In recent years, the pace of publication has increased, so I’ve written and published more books, as well as doing all those other jobs. I’ve also exercised subsidiary rights, commissioning audiobooks and translations of my works. And I had the rights revert to me from publishers for titles that were originally published by them, which meant those books needed to be republished in new editions.

Let’s look at the tally. In indie, I’ve written and published 17 new historical romances, revised and republished 4 backlist titles, and republished 17 older books in new editions. (We won’t count boxed sets here.) In PNR, I’ve written and published 5 Dragonfire stories to complete the series, compiled a world guide, written and published 15 new paranormal romances, and republished a YA trilogy, three urban fantasy romances, a short story and 8 Dragonfire novels. In contemporary romance, I’ve republished 5 romances, written and published 15 new books. Hmm. That’s 52 new stories in ten years, plus 43 older books republished. Just for comparison’s sake, I wrote those 43 books over my twenty years of traditional publishing plus 7 more that haven’t been republished for 50 books in total over 20 years. In indie, I’ve written 52 stories in just 10 years, so my writing output was doubled up, even while I was doing all the other stuff.

Phew. No wonder I need a little time to restore the well. I’ll be back with more stories after I catch my breath. 🙂

Thanks for reading my books!

Next Phase of the Newsletter Move

I’m moving all of my newsletters from one service provider to another, as mentioned a few weeks ago. A number of you have told me that you find this process interesting, so I’ll keep you updated each week on my progress. There are a lot of variables to juggle, and since I have three newsletters, it’s a bit complicated. 🙂

So far this month, I’ve migrated the subscribers to my contemporary romance newsletter, Heroes & Happy Endings, to the new service. I built a new sign-up page and welcome sequence, then updated the link here on the website. I had to split the list to meet the specs for my first ‘send’ from the new service, so the first send went out last week. The second one, to the rest of the H&HE NL list, goes out this week.

The sign-up link is also in the interiors of my ebooks, so over the past few days, I’ve updated the ebook interiors for 23 books (all of my contemporary romances) and uploaded them to 9 portals. This means that new customers will get the new interior with the new link. The old link will remain in the ebooks owned by existing customers, so I’ll leave the welcome sequence running at the old service and import new subscribers every month to the new service before sending the monthly newsletter. I’ll leave that for a few months, anticipating that the traffic will slow to a trickle.

I’ve also migrated the subscribers to my paranormal romance newsletter, Dragons & Angels, to the new service. Those subscribers will get an update this week from the new service, inviting them to choose their portals in their preferences. This is a feature that I really like. My paranormal romances are moving to Kindle Unlimited, and there are discount coupons available at some of the other portals. Using these preferences, I’ve scheduled updates to Dragons & Angels subscribers who shop at those portals, with links specific to those portals, to go out on the 31st. (This makes me feel clever.)

I’m participating in a PNR promotion this year, which generates a monthly list of new subscribers. I’m going to continue to bring them onboard at the old service, then export them to the new service each month.

Next job is moving the Knights & Rogues subscribers. They’re getting an update this week from the old service for the publication of A Most Inconvenient Earl and after that, I’ll start their migration to the new service. The sign-up form and welcome sequence is already done, so those book interiors need to be updated (fortunately only at Amazon, since there are about 50 books to update and upload). The other wrinkle is that I have a newsletter “tour” for Ravensmuir & Kinfairlie set up at the old service. I’ve turned it off for new sign-ups but existing ones will continue and complete the tour. If I rebuild that at the new service, it won’t happen before the fall.

And then there are the newsletters for other languages than English. I’ll do those last.

That’s my progress so far!

First Newsletter Send

I sent the first newsletter from the new service yesterday and at this end, it looks as if everything went well. The delivery rate was really good – much better than at the old service – so that’s a relief.

The first newsletter to go out was the March Heroes & Happy Endings – but only to part of the subscriber list. I’m following the recommendations for shifting services in increments, so I had to divide the list somehow. If you subscribe to Heroes & Happy Endings and opened the January newsletter, then you were on yesterday’s delivery list. If not, you’re on next Tuesday’s list. This is recommended to keep the first send under a certain count of emails. Now that it’s done, all future newsletters can go out to all subscribers at the same time.

Some people are getting a warning about insecure servers when they click on a link. The help desk at the newsletter service recommends turning off your WIFI and trying again. This has worked for my subscribers so far, so if you get that message, give it a try.

In April, all three English newsletters will come from the new service. The dragons have moved and I’ll move the knights after next week’s new release alert is delivered. I’ll move the newsletters in other languages after that.

I’ve updated the links in the ebook interiors for Flatiron Five Fitness so far. The book list has been updated and the newsletter sign-up link. If you own any of those books, your portal of choice may offer a new edition. (Amazon won’t – it will just deliver the new version to new customers. The changes aren’t big enough for them to push the new edition to existing customers.) Next up, updates to Flatiron Five Tattoo book interiors and the Coxwells. Then I hear the dragons calling…

Diving In

My website is past due for an update, and I’ve made that a priority for 2022.

The plan is that all of my websites will be amalgamated and all of my books will live on this site. The urls I own will be repointed to this site. It also means updating the links in many ebook interiors, as the landing page urls for each book will change.

Delacroix.net website now
DragonfireNovels.com website now

I need to change the theme, since mine isn’t supported anymore—which means the banners will need to be resized. That’s not a big deal since I update them all the time anyway, but it’s why there aren’t new ones done for Q1 yet.

Things may get wonky or downright ugly at intervals, items may vanish and reappear, but it’ll be beautiful by the end. (Ha. It vanished last night, didn’t it, but now we’re back.) In the end, it’ll also be a lot easier to manage one site rather than three. I’m diving in!