Fallen

Fallen, an urban fantasy romance by Claire Delacroix

Fallen, the first of my Prometheus Project series of urban fantasy romances (set in a dystopian future and featuring fallen angel heroes) has gone off to be formatted. Phew! it’s also formatted for print now, and the print edition is waiting on its cover.

Having these books re-edited has proven to be quite the adventure. My editor found far more than I anticipated, so we’ve been working on the entire trilogy at once. On the upside, though, I’m much happier with the book. There have been some changes and corrections, plus there’s bonus content in this edition. I should be able to give you buy links for Fallen soon.

And tomorrow, I’ll work on finalizing Guardian!

Amazon MatchBook

Amazon has announced a new program, which they’ll be rolling out in the next few weeks (according to their announcement to authors). I think it’s pretty cool, and since it may impact your buying decisions, I thought I’d tell you about it.

MatchBook allows authors and publishers to enroll books in a matching program. Here’s how it works: if you have bought a print edition of a book and if that book is enrolled in the program, you’ll be able to buy the digital edition of that same book at a discounted price. (Of course, you’ll also have to have bought the print book new from Amazon for this offer to work.) The digital edition must be at least half price for consumers who qualify.

So, this means that all of you who have libraries of mass market romances, just for example, will likely be able to replace many of them in digital editions at a discounted price. It doesn’t matter if you bought the mass market original, the trade paperback or book club original, or the new trade paperback edition – any of them will qualify you for the discounted digital edition, if the author/publisher has enrolled that book in the program.

I’ve set all of the titles under my control to be 99 cents for readers who have bought them new from Amazon. I’ll continue to do that in future, sooooooo – if you intend to buy in both print and digital, you might want to buy the print edition first, just so you get the discount.

MatchBook was just announced and it’s not clear exactly when it will go live for consumers. The announcement said ‘weeks’, so I’d expect it to be rolled out soon. It looks to me like an inducement for those readers who haven’t yet bought an e-reader to make the switch, maybe to be advertised just in time for holiday shopping.

We’ll see how it shakes out, but now you know!

 

The Dragon Legion Collection – Digital Edition

The Dragon Legion Collection, including all three Dragon Legion novellas and #9 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances, by Deborah CookeThe Dragon Legion Collection is now available in a digital edition, as well as a trade paperback edition. All three of the Dragon Legion novellas are included, and this volume is Dragonfire #9.

They will sacrifice anything to regain the loves they’ve lost…

When the Dragon Legion take custody of the darkfire crystal, Drake and his fellow dragon shifters fear that the sorcery trapped in the stone is bent on destroying them. In Kiss of Danger, Alexander defends his wife and son from a vicious killer who has followed him through time. In Kiss of Darkness, Damien enters the realm of the dead to fix an old mistake, but loses his shifting abilities. In Kiss of Destiny, Thad believes he can secure the future of all the dragon shifters known as the Pyr, if only he can win the heart of the elusive woman who sparks his firestorm. Will the darkfire demand all they have to give, or is the unpredictable magic giving these dragon warriors a second chance?

This collection contains all three Dragon Legion novellas, as well as an excerpt from Serpent’s Kiss (the next Dragonfire novel), a cast of characters and a Dragonfire glossary.

Linky goodness right here:
Amazon
Apple – US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
KOBO
Smashwords
Trade Paperback

A New Collaboration

Finally, I can tell you about this collaboration! It’s been in the works for a few busy weeks.

Five Unforgettable Knights, a digital boxed set of five medieval romances, available for a limited time and at a special priceFive Unforgettable Knights is a digital boxed set including five full length medieval romances, that will be available for a limited time, and at a special price. Included are:

The MacKinnon’s Bride by Tanya Anne CrosbyThe Beauty Bride by Claire Delacroix
A Whisper of Rosemary by Colleen Gleason
My Warrior by Glynnis Campbell
&
The Devil of Kilmartin by Laurin Wittig

There’s a reader contest, a Facebook page and a website which includes more information about all five books and all five authors. The boxed set goes on sale September 23, and is available for pre-order at Amazon, right here.

It’s $4.99 now, and will be $4.99 until September 29. After that, it will be $8.99.

One Day Sale!

To celebrate the release of The Highlander’s Curse, and to thank you all for your patience, I’m having a one day sale. For today only, both The Renegade’s Heart and The Highlander’s Curse will be just 99 cents. (The currency conversion gets a little goofy, but it will be similarly discounted in other countries, too.)

You can grab your copy at any of the portals linked below.

The Renegade's Heart, first in the True Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Amazon

Apple – US

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble

KOBO

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.

Amazon

Apple

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble

KOBO

Thanks to all of you for reading my books, and I hope you enjoy these two!

What’s In A Name?

Last week, we started to talk about what lessons and practices can be carried from traditional print publishing and which ones are less useful in a digital publishing environment. I saved the topic of author brands—i.e. the name an author uses on his or her work—for its own post this week, because it’s such a nice chewy topic.

First of all, when we talk about author brands, we’re talking about marketing. An author brand isn’t very different from any other kind of marketing brand—it’s a shorthand, telling the potential reader what to expect from the book before he or she reads it or even reads the copy.

Authors and pseudonyms
Many fiction authors don’t write under their legal names. There can be a lot of reasons for this, so here are a few that I’ve heard over the years. This list is long, but not exhaustive:
• The author’s name is hard to spell or pronounce, therefore potentially hard to remember.
• The author’s name is long, so it will appear smaller on the book cover than a shorter name.
• The author wishes to protect his or her privacy by writing under a pseudonym.
• The author is actually more than one person, and the partners think it would be simpler for branding if their work was published under a single author name.
• The work is work-for-hire, contracted by a legal estate specifically to be published under an existing author brand (like the V.C. Andrews novels published after that author’s death) or by a publisher to create a brand or series to which the house holds ownership of the author name. (Like the Nancy Drew series. There is no Carolyn Keene, although initially the series was written pseudonymously by Edward Stratemeyer.)
• The author’s name is too similar to that of an existing published author (presumably a successful one) or a famous individual.
• The publishing house contractually required the author to use a pseudonym.
• The author is too prolific for the publisher’s expectations, so is published under multiple names.
• A published author is writing a new kind of work in a different genre or subgenre, or relaunching his or her career.

This last point is the one we’ll focus on today and it falls into two neat divisions.

1. Splitting the brand
As mentioned above, author brands are just like other marketing brands, in that they tell potential consumers what to expect before they buy. What happens when what the author is writing has changed? There are two schools of thought on this: one is that the author should consolidate all work under the name author name or brand, and the other is that different categories or kinds of work should be delineated by different author brands. There are pros and cons to both of these strategies and they go in and out of fashion as a result. Right now, there is a greater tendency to use one brand for all work, whereas 10 to 15 years ago, the tendency was to “split the brand”.

Splitting the brand means that I write historical romance as Claire Delacroix and contemporary romance as Deborah Cooke. Each name is believed to be more evocative of the era (Delacroix sounds historical while Cooke sounds contemporary) and represents a certain area of my work. As I have tended to write for two different publishers simultaneously, it also has made contract clauses easy because the divisions between the two houses were about different kinds of work. Each house could build a graphical branding for my work that was evocative of the contents, without worrying about what the other house was up to. The lines of division were clear, which meant the two brands could be well-managed. That’s one big advantage of splitting the brand, even if it’s split under the jurisdiction of the same publisher.

The weakness in the strategy of splitting the brand is shown in the passage of time and the evolution of certain market niches. What we read also goes in and out of style. In about 2003, the historical romance market, which had previously been very robust, shrank dramatically. The survivor in that niche was sexy Regency historicals and very little else sold well. When a brand has been closely defined and tightly managed, it’s not very resilient to these kinds of changes. I had wanted for years to write historicals even in other periods but couldn’t place them as I was perceived to be a medieval romance author. Medieval romance was my brand. When my niche disappeared, so did my ability to sell my work.

This is a bit of a subjective call, and so Tor was open to the possibility of my writing urban fantasy romance as Claire Delacroix. Their thinking was that the sensuality and worldbuilding was similar to my medievals (and maybe the grit, too!) and that the books were set in a not-now time. They perceived my fallen angel series to be consistent with my brand. They did graphically brand the series differently to show even my established readers that these books weren’t medievals.

I actually saw Dragonfire as being more consistent with my existing brand, but NAL didn’t want to publish those books as Claire Delacroix titles and asked me if I’d use another author brand on them. I knew NAL would do a good job of publishing them (they publish a lot of paranormal romance) so I trusted their call and agreed. Dragonfire became Deborah Cooke books.

Behind all of this is the risk of “tainting the author brand”. This usually means that an attempt to diversify goes badly wrong and leaves the reader uncertain what to expect from an author. The author’s sales often  plummet as a result—even if readers like one niche of the author’s work, they may be cautious in reading more if they’ve been disappointed even once. A diversified brand is more robust, though, so there’s a balance to be struck.

2. Starting over
Because of the way the print publishing machine works, it’s pretty common for an author to end up with less-than-compelling sales numbers. The author could have been unlucky in terms of cover art, competing titles, distribution errors, on-sale dates that coincide with major world events (wars tend to keep people from buying books.) He or she could also have tainted the brand, as noted above. Actually, when you look at all the things that can go wrong, it’s amazing that any books succeed at all. There are a lot of variables that affect the sales of a given book, but when things go awry, it’s often perceived to be easier to start fresh than to try to save or rebuild the existing author brand.

We all like new shiny things, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that publishers and booksellers are no different. In the publishing industry, there is special attention given to debut authors, and even though “you can’t be a virgin again” as one editor once memorably put it, an author can have a rebirth in the marketplace by using a new author brand. This is a strategy that has to be employed with care to work well in our digital age, with so much information online and accessible. Readers can feel tricked if they subsequently discover the original identity of the author and there can be a backlash. One of the first great backfires of this strategy was the launch of Josie Litton by Bantam, who turned out to be Maura Seger with a new author brand.

Then and Now
As mentioned above, it’s more common now for authors to put everything under a single author brand, using the graphics and imagery on the cover to distinguish the genres of their work. Those of us who have multiple author brands spend a good deal of time trying to get readers to connect the two. But there’s still a place for dividing the brand, and it’s one that’s getting a lot of action in our current marketplace. What’s interesting to me is that it’s authors doing it by choice. Authors are acting like publishers, using author brand for the same reasons as publishers, and also using it for a new reason.

Tainting a brand is still a very real concern. Depending what the author writes, his or her brand may be more open to diversification in certain directions, or not. As authors take control of their author brands, they’re looking at their market as publishers and making strategic choices about managing brands.

Let’s look at the four possible scenarios, although there are probably dozens:

Author A is a multi-published high fantasy author, who has always wanted to publish paranormal romance. She’s well-respected in her genre, but knows that her audience won’t follow her to the romance section. There is seldom explicit sex in fantasy novels, but often a good bit of it in a paranormal romance. Still, for creative (or maybe financial) reasons, Author A wants to give romance a try. If she chooses to use a different author name on her paranormal romances, she will be deliberately dividing her brand.

Author B has always written very sweet romances. Although she has published a number of books, the marketing support from the house has been tepid, at best, and she’s had some bad luck with cover art and distribution. On the one hand, editors tell her that the market requires more spicy romances; on the other, no one will buy one from her because “it’s not her brand”. Author B has chosen to write a 50 Shades variation that is edgy and gritty, partly to push herself and partly to show what she can do. She will choose a new author name because she’s essentially starting over: there will be no crossover of her previous readership to this new series.

Author C is well-established, multi-published and maybe writing actively for a publishing house. He wants to understand the digital book market and how to indie-publish,so he can make better choices about his future. He decides to publish new work under a new and different author brand. That way there’s no risk of Author C messing up the good thing he has going, but he can still gather information. The work in question might be in a different genre, but chances are good that it’s in the same genre in which he’s currently published. He might be testing the waters for an idea his publisher thinks is too risky, or marketing works in a slightly different niche, or marketing works of a different length. He might be indie-publishing a series that his publisher declined to acquire. He’s experimenting. He might be doing this with the awareness of his house and representation, or um, not. It’s possible that he will ultimately be able to improve his digital sales of his traditionally published books, by applying what he’s learned to his existing book list. It’s also possible that he will prove his idea to be marketable and viable—that might feed the interest of the house in this different work or alternatively, convince him to take all of his work indie. It’s an information-gathering mission, and even if it fails, he will have learned something from it.

This experimentation and testing of the market is the new variation. I’ll guess that the majority of the authors I know who are digitally publishing have chosen to add a new pseudonym to their list of identities.  The pseudonym in question is a test case. It might represent any of the options represented above—even Author B, who is starting over, is engaged in an experiment. Digital publishing and the portals open to authors mean that we can connect directly with readers in an effective way for the first time ever. That means that instead of taking someone’s word that a work is or isn’t marketable, we can run a test and find out. The readers hold the cards instead of the marketing department, and that’s pretty exciting stuff.

What about you? Do you have authors you’ll follow into any section of the bookstore? Do you give new authors a try? Or are you more likely to stick to your tried-and-true favourite authors?

The Highlander’s Curse Released!

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.

Cheated of his inheritance and burdened by the legacy of his Fae blood, Garrett MacLachlan believes he is doomed to be an outcast forever—until he meets Annelise of Kinfairlie, a gentle maiden with the power to turn his curse to gift. Can Garrett reclaim his stolen legacy with Annelise by his side? If Annelise defies her family to pursue true love, will that be enough to heal Garrett? And even if they triumph over mortal foes, will the Fae demand a price neither of them can pay?

Annelise’s story, the second book in my True Love Brides series of medieval romances, is now available. This edition includes a cast of characters, as well as excerpts from The Frost Maiden’s Kiss and Abyss. You can read an excerpt on my site, right here, or you can just follow the links before and grab your copy now. I’ll update links as they go live at the various portals.

Amazon.com
Apple – US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Createspace
KOBO
Smashwords

Update!

It’s hot and humid here this week, but the construction frustrations of last winter are paying off – the new air conditioning is truly wonderful. Usually in hot weather, I get nothing done, but this week, I’m zipping along. Yay!

So, I thought I’d update you on the status of various projects.

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.

I’m doing the final final FINAL read through of The Highlander’s Curse. It’ll go to the formatter tonight or tomorrow, so I should have it back Wednesday to upload it to various portals. It’ll go live most quickly at Smashwords and All Romance eBooks (in EPUB and MOBI at both portals) but should be available from Amazon on Thursday. (Fingers crossed.) B&N and KOBO should post it Thursday or Friday, and I hear Apple is taking about a week to process and post new book files – count on seeing it in the iTunes store by the end of next week.

My monthly newsletter will go out Thursday or Friday, depending when the Amazon link is live.

Kiss of Destiny, #3 of the Dragon Legion novellas in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances, by Deborah Cooke

Next, I’ll write the last couple of scenes in Thad and Aura’s story, Kiss of Destiny. That’s #3 in the Dragon Legion novellas, which together are Dragonfire #9. I’ll send it off to my editor by the end of this week, and she’ll do her thing while I’m at RWA National in Atlanta next week. I’ll publish the digital novella when I return (i.e. two weeks from now), and it’ll appear on the various portals with the same kind of speed as mentioned for THC above.

The Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cooke

Once Kiss of Destiny is done, I’ll format the Dragon Legion Collection and publish it, initially in the trade paperback print edition. It’ll be available from Createspace and Amazon early in August (maybe very early in August) then will perk out to be listed on other portals. The timing on that distribution is hard to predict.

Abyss, an urban fantasy romance by Claire Delacroix

In August, I’ll be heading back to the Republic. I’ll be finalizing files for Fallen, Guardian and Rebel, plus doing edits for Abyss. The goal is to publish the books in order, with Abyss going on sale at the end of October.

Phew! After that, it’s Thorolf’s turn and I’ll dig in to his story. After Thorolf comes Malcolm, then Sloane, then Elizabeth.

That’s where we’re at. Now you know – and now I’m getting back to work. Stay cool, everyone!

The Renegade’s Heart Holiday Weekend Price

I signed up for a promotion through Kobo Books for the holiday weekend, then realized I could share the joy on other portals.

The Renegade's Heart, first in the True Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

From today though July 1, the digital edition of The Renegade’s Heart is half-price in the US at these portals:

Amazon
All Romance eBooks
Apple
Barnes & Noble

The funny thing is that I’m not sure if it’s been included in the KOBO US sale that started all of this. It is on sale elsewhere at KOBO. Depending on the portal, it might be discounted in other markets, too. They all work a little differently – I’ve discounted it where I can!

New Versions of The Dragon Legion Novellas

Kiss of Danger, the first Dragon Legion Novella, by Deborah Cooke, first of the Dragon Legion trilogy of novellas

Kiss of Danger and Kiss of Darkness have been edited and proofread again. They’ve been formatted again, and uploaded again, as V2.0 where such data displays. Kiss of Destiny will go through the whole process before it’s published for the first time, and – of course – the Dragon Legion Collection will include the final versions of all of the novellas.

Kiss of Darkness, the second Dragon Legion novella, by Deborah Cooke, #9B in her Dragonfire series of paranormal romances

So, if you already purchased either or both of these novellas, you might automatically get a notice of the new version from your portal of choice, or you might have to request it. The new versions are live on All Romance eBooks, B&N, Kobo, Amazon and Smashwords right now. They will probably be live on Apple by the morning. If you shop at another site fed content by Smashwords (Sony, Diesel, Page Foundry, etc.) the new files will take a couple of weeks to perk through the distribution system.

Thanks again to DJ and Ang for the comments. I’m chalking this one up to experience!