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. 🙂

New Release Listing

Tanya's Promo

Tanya Anne Crosby has launched a new landing page featuring new releases and upcoming releases in historical romance. This is a pretty useful resource – you can just bookmark the page, then revisit it at intervals to see the updated listings. Books will disappear after their launch and new pre-orders will appear. Right now, One Knight Enchanted is listed there as it’s on pre-order for December 12.

Tanya will continue to do it as long as enough people are interested, so if you are interested, please hop on through to the landing page, bookmark it and visit again.

You’ll find the landing page right here.

 

More Dragonfire Reversions

Winter Kiss, #4 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeSlowly, slowly, progress is made.

Rights to several more of the Dragonfire novels appear to be in the process of reverting  to me. The digital editions of Winter Kiss and Darkfire Kiss are becoming unavailable, which is a sign that the reversion is in progress. The publisher has the right to sell their existing print stock of these titles, so you may be able to still find mass market copies.

The books in this series are reverting (more or less) in reverse order, and of course, I need to begin republishing them with the first book, Kiss of Fire. It will be the last one to revert. Reversions become possible when the sales drop below specified thresholds, so I’m hoping that fewer people will start the series since the middle books are currently unavailable.

Once I have them all back, I’ll let you know the plan for republishing them. Those of you who like your print books to line up on the shelf will be happy to learn that the new print editions will be in trade paperback, of the same size as The Dragon Legion Collection, Serpent’s Kiss and Firestorm Forever.

2016 Book Sampler

2016 Book Sampler by Deborah Cooke and Claire DelacroixThis is something I always intend to do and never manage to finish – a sampler of upcoming titles. In the past, I’ve thought about printing these up, but this year, had the (brilliant!) idea of making the sampler a downloadable book file. No postage. No delay in delivery. No production time. And another cool product for the online store. Woo HOO!

This sampler gives a taste of my upcoming releases for 2016. It’s only available at my online store, and it’s free.

Download the sampler free in EPUB or MOBI.

Cover Variations

I’ve had the covers updated for two of the Champions of Saint Euphemia books. As much as I liked them initially, in thumbnail versions they weren’t as snappy as I’d like. I had the designer make a couple of changes.

First off, The Crusader’s Heart. In the old version, her dress was white. In the new one (which will be on the book) it’s gold:
ClaireDelacroix_TheCrusadersHeart200And then, The Crusader’s Vow. In the old version, her dress was brown and the cover overall looked a bit dull when it became small. In the new version, her dress is purple and the background has changed to a winter scene:
ClaireDelacroix_TheCrusadersVow200What do you think?