Category Archives: HM Ward

Is THE ARRANGEMENT a Series? Tellz me! I need to know!

ARsize1*Recently updated – this post originally appeared in 2013. I updated it with current pics.*

To all the people out there who told me that you aren’t readers, I want to tell you that NOW YOU ARE! 🙂 You’ve read over 2,600 pages in THE ARRANGEMENT series alone. If you read the other Ferro books, you passed that!

Whoop! Whoop! Reading is fun when you enjoy what you’re reading. I’m so glad so many people love the Ferro family! To date we’ve sold over 10 MILLION copies worldwide. That is a lotta readers. Keep on reading!

IS THE ARRANGEMENT A SERIES?

I’ve been getting emails from awesome fans who are curious about THE ARRANGEMENT series. It has a huge fan base – hundreds of thousands of people – and lots of new readers. Many of you already noticed, but some haven’t so I wanted to make it clear.

Yes, THE ARRANGEMENT is a series. 

There’s some confusion over what that means. My serials are not one book slashed into pieces. I know some writers do that, but I don’t. I’ve actually been asked to speak about the construction of my serials at several writer’s conferences next year, because the way they’re written is unique. Quite frankly, if I took CURSED and slashed it into pieces, it would suck. But, that’s another topic, so I won’t go into that right now.

IS THE ARRANGEMENT ONE BOOK BROKEN INTO PARTS?

NO. Pictures help make it more obvious that THE ARRANGEMENT is not one book broken into volumes. For one, it’s too big. eBooks are amazing, but the tactile sense of reading is lost. If a book holds my attention and I love the story, the time taken to read it flies by and I have no idea how many pages I read. That doesn’t happen with paper. It’s easy to see how much I read and where the end is, so I took a few pics for the ereader fans.

ARsize2The stack of books on the left is the Arrangement series 1-20. The series is over 2,600 PAGES LONG (as of Aug 2015).

Cursed is on the right, and is one of my full length novels. It’s the 2nd book in the Demon Kissed series and is about the same size as Damaged and Stripped (both are novels). Some of my novels are a bit longer, some are shorter, but it’s average novel length for me (and most romances.)

So, if THE ARRANGEMENT series were presented in novel format, they’d be onto their 9th novel at this point in time. Every 2-2.5 volumes is about novel length. The Arrangement is a series the same way DEMON KISSED is a series. Multiple books tell the story, but these come out way faster.

WHY WAS THIS STORY WRITTEN AS A SERIES OF NOVELLAS?

(Uh, *raises hand* What’s a novella?) A novella is a short novel. It’s longer than a short story (think magazine), and mine are usually 100-130 pages in length.

This story was told as a series of novellas because there are readers who like this format, a lot. Plus, this format has perks that novels don’t have.

ARsize3Here are the main serial novella perks:

  • They come out faster and the reader only has to wait 4-6 weeks instead of 8 months. Waiting 8 months for the next title from my favorite author sucks. Most of my fav authors put out 1 novel a year. I hate that. I want more. Now. Series like THE ARRANGEMENT offer that desire for new titles quickly.
  • Serials are less risky for the reader. If I like it, I keep reading and one book didn’t eat up a ton of time.
  • They give the reader the option to read something new between novel releases.
  • Serials are less daunting. If someone hands you a huge ass book, it can be intimidating. Novella length books don’t typically present that apprehension.
  • They’re fast and fun. This kind of book is supposed to be fun, and not take a lot of effort, which is why lots of people love them.

THE ARRANGEMENT series was originally written for fans to have something to read between novels. Then it became a fan-driven series where the fans’ comments are actually affecting the story line. It’s become an organic story, and is way cooler than anything I dreamed up when I started.

A note about it from a fan:

“It costs approximately the same price PER PAGE for an Arrangement serial (in e-format) as is does for a 50 shades novel (in e-format). Considering that you can fit about 4 Arrangement serials into one 50 Shades novel (page count and total $) and that 50 Shades was a trilogy, we can EASILY make it to 12 books and reach the same total price and page volume as 50 Shades!

If you think of books like the Crossfire series, which will probably go onto 5 books (and is more expensive per page), we could make it to 21 Arrangement serials and not go over the Crossfire budget!!! (At the time Crossfire was a trilogy, it has since been added to due to the popularity of the series).” –MelanieAnne

ARsize4WILL IT BE BUNDLED INTO ONE BOOK?

Right now there are no plans to bundle, but there are plans for the series to go on sale like the rest of my titles. At one point the entire series was in KU. The entire series was on sale for 99 cents each one Christmas.

All the titles go on sale at some point, so keep your eyes glued to the facebook page to make sure you don’t miss it. Massive sale alerts also go out via email, so make sure you’re on that list. (Text AWESOMEBOOKS – 1 word – to 22828 or click here to get on the list).

And, I know you’re all going to ask, so here it is: THE ARRANGEMENT Vol. 20 will be out on Monday! Yippie! No, it’s not the final book in the series. I’ll make a huge post when the final volume comes out.

DO I HAVE TO READ EVERY SINGLE FERRO SERIES TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON?

NO, you don’t. Each series is stand alone. That means you can read DAMAGED and skip STRIPPED and you won’t be lost if you pick up THE PROPOSITION (Bryan Ferro’s story) which is complete as of 2015.

It’s totally okay to know one brother better than the rest. 😉

If you hate cliffhangers, stay away from novella series in progress like THE ARRANGEMENT.

Series (novels & novellas) that are already completed include:

  1. DAMAGED
  2. THE PROPOSITION
  3. SECRETS
  4. THE SECRET LIFE OF TRYSTAN SCOTT
  5. DEMON KISSED
  6. THE WEDDING CONTRACT
  7. SCANDALOUS
  8. SECOND CHANCES
  9. SHADOWS OF THE PAST
  10. LIFE BEFORE DAMAGED (Peter Ferro’s back story)

And more! This list isn’t updated frequently and several series have concluded in the short time since this post was written.

DID YOU THINK THERE WOULD BE OVER 20 BOOKS IN THIS SERIES WHEN YOU STARTED IT?

No, not all. I’d planned a 4 book series originally. After book 3 came out, I offered the fans the opportunity to become involved in the flow of the storyline. Since there was still so much story to tell and you guys wanted more, I agreed.

One thing that I want to make clear is that at some point authors want to move onto other things. THE ARRANGEMENT was an experiment with messed up characters, an entire cast of them, and dealt with a topic that most people wouldn’t touch. Add in the fan driven element and it’s been a wild ride and completely amazing. But if I’m still writing this series in 4 years, I’ll poke my eyes out. True story. I’m not writing Sean and Avery into the ground where I can’t stand them anymore. Many authors are so sick of their characters by the time the end of a series comes around. I don’t want that to happen here.

As of ARRANGEMENT 20, it should be very clear we’re heading into the homestretch. 🙂 There will be a vote coming up soon, so make sure you’re on the email list. You’ll want to be in it!

Updated November 2015: 

THE ARRANGEMENT 23 will be the final book in this series. EEEeeeeep!

Disclaimer: Mr. Turkey and his likeness may not be reproduced cuz even if u try, u can’t pull off coolness like this! Fo’ shizzle!

Mr. Turkey’s Disclaimer: Just because you see me with my face in Sean’s book does not imply that I advocate the actions of said person in any shape or form. I was just really into the book. I may have swallowed a page, I’m not sure. In short, I still hate Sean Ferro. 

Pre-order THE ARRANGEMENT 21 by HM Ward Boo yah!

The Arrangement 21 by HM Ward THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES!

THE ARRANGEMENT

Volume 21 is available for pre-order.

Release date: DEC 28th, 2015

The final book in this series will be THE ARRANGEMENT 23. Eeep!

Thanks for reading! This has been an amazing series to write and having the fans along to help steer the story has been awesome!

Pre-order now at these retailers:

Amazon     Nook     Kobo     Apple

For more info on THE ARRANGEMENT series, click here.

**FREE FERRO ** Get it Today! Don’t miss out!

Get THE ARRANGEMENT vol. 1, FREE TODAY!

 THE SERIES WITH OVER A MILLION COPIES SOLD

Volume 1 in the bestselling Arrangement Serials
Genre: New Adult Romance Series

FML is becoming Avery’s motto. Just when she doesn’t think things could get any worse, they do. When her car stalls out at a busy intersection and she gets out to check under the hood, a guy steals her car. Armed with a dress and a pair of Chucks, Avery runs after the thief. When a hot stranger offers to help, she can’t say no. That’s how Avery meets Sean Ferro, the totally sexy, totally damaged guy with more secrets than she has time for.

THE ARRANGEMENT 1 by HM Ward is FREE Today! (Save $2.99)Avery doesn’t have time for anything anymore. Her is life falling apart and it’s not just the car. It’s everything, and it doesn’t matter how tightly she tries to hold on, there’s nothing left to hold on to. With the sudden death of her parents, it’s only a matter of months until Avery’s shot at college is gone, and she’s living in a cardboard box. Other students have their families to rely on when things get bad. Avery has no one.

But there’s one option, one incredibly sexy, morally devoid, option. If Avery takes a job as a call girl, one guy could save her. One client. One time. She just has to say yes.

Genre: New Adult Romance
This story unfolds over multiple volumes approx. 125 pages each.
~The Arrangement Vol 1-20 are on sale now.~

Get THE ARRANGEMENT 1 for FREE today at these retailers:

Amazon    Nook    Kobo    Apple

THE ARRANGEMENT VIDEO TEASER:

What Other People Are Saying About THE ARRANGEMENT:

“Best book I’ve ever read. Love the heat and so much more.” – Darrindeb555

“This is by far my favorite series in this genre!!!! The story has everything. The characters are believable and easy to get attached to. Every book leaves you wanting more.” – Aprilb1113

“The Arrangement Series will suck you in from the very beginning. The SUPER sexy Sean is dark, brooding, and full of mystery.” – Pages Abound

50% Off *SIGNED* Books & Crystal T Shirts!

FB linkable Black Friday Ferro Crest

BLACK FRIDAY SALE STARTS NOW! 

Everything in the HM Ward store, including the coveted crystal T shirts and the collector’s edition of DAMAGED is on sale. How much of a sale is it? It needed to be a sale of kickassery proportions, so it’s killer.

50% OFF ALL IN STOCK ITEMS.

That means you can get that hardcover you’ve been dreaming about for $25. Booh yah!

The sale ends on November 28th, or when we sell out. If the item you’re wanting has sold out, that’s it babe. No rain checks. This sale is first come, first served. So, if you want something, GRAB IT NOW!

Pinterest Black Friday Ferro Crest

FB linkable Black Friday Damaged Hardcover

FB linkable Black Friday Sean Ferro

Tips for Young Writers II

This is a repost of one of the popular topics from Holly’s old blog, originally dated Mar 6, 2011.

I recently asked Demon Kissed book fans via our Facebook fan page what questions they had about writing.  There were several about plot and publishing.  I’ll answer stuff Q&A style this time.

“Do you believe a 17 year old should get a book published?” – Audrey

Age has nothing to do with your ability to tell a story.  There are people who write well and are natural born storytellers.  They enjoy writing, so their ability begins to exceed their age.  That happened with me.  And of course there are several writers that were young and published – Eragon author Christopher Paolini is a contemporary writer who started writing his first published novel at age 15.  He took two years to complete his manuscript at which point his family self-published his book.  That was how he started.  Jane Austen wrote Sense and Sensibly when she was 21 years old or younger.  I’ve read that she was 18 years old in some sources, and 21 in others.  At any rate, she wasn’t an old crone.  Her novel wasn’t published until later, but the story originated when she was young.  Which is awesome!  I think there is a place for teen writers, and I think it would be awesome to see more of their work spread into the marketplace.  The folks that are hesitant are the ones who don’t think you guys pay attention to grammar and spelling.  Prove them wrong!  Write a kick ass story, and go for it!

“Dialogue please – mine never feels like real.” -Grace

Recognizing that dialogue doesn’t feel real is the first step in correcting the problem, so you are half way there.  Writing dialogue is somewhere between reality and make-believe.  If you transcribed an entire conversation, it gets dull.  The words need to be tweaked for reading.  Basically, you cut out the fat-anything extra that does not propel the plot, but you have to leave enough so the reader knows what’s going on.  The easiest way to practice is to write down a conversation you had.  Don’t try to polish it at all.  Just notice what’s there.  Next, take a red pen and start striking out anything that isn’t central to the conversation.  You should automatically remove: um, like, and other filler phrases.  You can also watch conversations.  A good conversation goes back and forth, but not with every sentence.  Changing speakers too often stunts your story.  If you hear a conversation in real life, and someone is telling you a story or explaining something, you may interrupt from time to time, but not every sentence.  If a BFF is spilling coveted info about some guy that you’ve been dying to hear about, you want the info as fast as possible.  Your readers are the same way.  You may slow things down to create suspense or for your story’s flow, but it should be done intentionally and not throughout.  So the short version is – dialogue should reflect real conversations, but cut out the fluff and jump to the important stuff.

“How do you add enough desciption? Like for the charecters surrounding.” -Jessica

This varies between genre.  Example: Fantasy, epic stories, historical fiction, and literary fiction have a LOT more descriptions going on.  It seemed like the first 80 pages of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence was description.  I read that when I was 19 years old, for fun.  I love that book.  Anyway, in YA books the surroundings are more like snapshots that are infused into the story.  Their purpose is to support the story, and not distract or slow the pacing.  It’s a carefully orchestrated balance to let your reader know where your hero is, without that becoming the focal point.  In one contemporary series (meaning something that was written in the last decade or so), you know where Stephanie Plum is in One for the Money, because it’s smooshed throughout the story.  The author, Janet Evanovich, sprinkles it in throughout.  You can’t forget Stephanie’s a Jersey girl – it’s part of the story.  The descriptions should always be lending toward your story.  And avoid info dumps.  That is where you dump a bunch of info the reader needs to know instead of threading it into the story.  Weave it into your story, and you’ll be good.

The rest of the questions were about plot and publishing.  I’ll answer the publishing hoopla in another thread because there are so many things going on that it totally needs its own post.

Plot, Story Lines, & Sorting Things Out

Several of you asked how the heck can you keep the plot and all it’s intricacies straight in your head.  I talked about this a little bit in a previous post about how I did it for Demon Kissed.  As I started writing the second book, Cursed, I changed what I was doing a little bit.  I’ll share with you what I’m currently doing.

The first part of turning the amazing story in your head into an amazing story on paper is to map out your plot.  The plot is the sequence of events that leads your hero from the beginning of the story to the end of the story.  Some of you asked how to identify the beginning of the story, which is an excellent question.  If you start too soon, you bore people.  If you start too late, people aren’t sure what’s going on.  General rule of thumb – start as late as you can.  I think it should be near the story’s catalyst.

There is a catalyst, an event, that spurs your story into motion.  Without this event, you would have no story.  Identify what that is and it will help you decide where to start.  I can’t talk about Demon Kissed too much because it’s not out yet, but since this event occurs in the first chapter (which has been released), I’ll demonstrate with that.  The event that spurs Ivy’s story into motion is when Jake attacks her.  Without that key event, there is no story.  That single event creates a domino effect, which when combined with her decisions, propels her along the plot line and through the story.  Make sense?  You MUST have that moment in your plot.  If you don’t have one, you will have serious issues trying to control where the plot is going, what is happening to the character, and why.

When you start your story, have a beginning and an ending in mind.  I’ll pick a story that everyone knows – Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. The story starts with normal Harry not knowing he is a wizard, and ends with Harry, the novice wizard, defeating Voldemort.  The writer can then go and fill in the plot holes from there by asking questions: How does Harry find out he’s a wizard? How does he learn his skills to defeat Voldemort?  All the stuff he learned in the book supported the task he had to accomplish at the end of it.

As for keeping things straight while you accomplish this daunting task – remember most YA books have 80,000-100,000 words right now.  That’s a lot of stuff to organize.  Trying to keep it all in your brain may not be the best method.  In my other post I mentioned using cork board and index cards to try and keep things straight.  The progression I made since then is easier for me.  Maybe it’ll help you too.

I mapped the beginning and ending of the book on paper – the middle is blank.  This is a stepping stone/ bridging method.  The writer knows the beginning and the end and must connect the two.  Honestly, I didn’t see how to bridge the gap in all it’s glorious detail.  Normally, I would have started writing now and assumed my brain would close the gap as I wrote.  I didn’t do that this time and it helped me much more.  Instead, I imagined the opening scene in my head over and over.  My imagination started to spread past that with several different ideas, and then finally latched onto a plot path that made sense, was interesting, and added another stepping stone to the plot.  That became chapter 2.  After I had all the key details of that scene I wrote it down as an outline.  So I had a complete chapter outline on the opening scene, scene two, and the ending.  (I think of chapters like scenes – it helps me organize the story).  Then I did the same thing, trying to move forward to scene 3.  There were several different directions to go, but the one I chose had to be awesome and line my story up with the final chapter.  I moved along like that, dreaming up the scene, determing which version to use, and then writing down the scene’s key components in an outline so that I wouldnt forget.

Holy crap!  This helped my writing and plot like nothing I’ve ever done before.  I love stories with a rich plot, that turns and threads the story together in an intricate pattern.  Organizing all the thoughts that go into it were insane.  Doing it this way: Map, Dream, Outline helped SO much.  Now, I can sit down and write 60 pages at once.  And I don’t have to stop because I got stuck and don’t know what to do next.  The plot is all mapped out on paper well enough to tip the vivid memories I created in my mind.  It also helped with revisions and editing.  Now I don’t have to go back and junk as much stuff because I planned it all out.

Plotting this way can seem really intimidating.  It was for me.  Seeing a blank page for such a long time, while working things out in my head was scary.  I thought I might lose some of the details and forget stuff.  But I didn’t.  I put enough info in the outline to keep my thoughts in check.  It even allowed me to write more freely because I knew where the story was going.  I could scatter in deeper meaning and foreshadowing into places on the first pass, instead of adding it much later during revisions.

Every writer handles plots differently.  Some people write on the fly, while others spend 12 months plotting points in their novel without ever writing a word.  I found, the more info you can capture and pre-map, the easier it gets to actually write the story.  I spent about two to four weeks dreaming the scenes in Demon Kissed: Curse of the Valefar one by one.  Everyone will find something that works for them.  The main thing is to grab that plot and smooth it out in a way that makes it easy for you to remember and work with.

I hoped this stuff helped!  We now have over 30,000 Demon Kissed fans, of which many are young writers.  You guys have amazing talent!  Thanks so much for following Demon Kissed and telling your friends!  I cannot wait to share the book with you!!!

This popular post originally appeared on Holly’s old blog on Mar 6, 2011.

Tips for Young Writers

Tips for Young Writers by HM WardI’ve had a lot of fans asking me questions about writing.  I thought I would take some time to post info on here, so I can go into more detail than on my facebook fan page for DEMON KISSED.  There isn’t much room to write a response over there.

Personally, I write because I have to.  It’s a means of expression.  It’s the same reason why some people paint, and others sing, or play an instrument.  Creative expression is a do-or-die thing for me.

I’ve been writing stories since I was ten-years-old.  They mirrored folklore when I started, and slowly developed into fantasy.

When I was younger, I would hand write my stories.  They grew from a few pages to several hundred.  I didn’t edit much then.  I wrote to write, and for no other reason.  I followed one storyline, that I loved, and the stack of papers grew.  I kept them in a Robert Frost folder that I got from my middle school.  I still have that stack stored in there today.  It’s fun to go back and see what the mind of a child came up with.  Some stories were so imaginative, that I surprised myself when I went back to read them later.

My first and foremost tip is this –  Write.

Write because you love it.  Write because you have to.

I had no intention of seeking publication with my early writings.  I did them for me, and no one else.  That type of writing is important, and will foster a sense of self that you can’t get any way else.

When I was in 10th grade, I wanted to write poetry.  I sucked at it.  I remember sitting on my bed, trying to spill my feelings onto the page in a few eloquent words, and finding I filled up both sides of the page.

It looked like a story, not prose.  I forced myself to slash down the words, choosing more vivid images, and stronger words to tell the story.  Eventually my poems became what I wanted – a reflection of my soul.

In college I had no trouble writing papers.  None at all.  While other kids thought writing a 10 page paper sucked, I totally thought it was fine.  I still remember getting the assignment for my first 30 page paper.  The entire class looked ill.  I thought about it for a second, and knew I could do that.  No problem.

I have a secret for you:  The people who write, just to write, have a much easier time writing when writing’s required.  I think the longest paper I had to write for my masters work was 75 pages.  By then, I thought 30 pages was fluff.

Natural writers have a very unfair advantage, because we have been using words, molding them to our will, long before someone told us we had to.  We think it’s fun.

And dude, it totally is!

So, onto how do you keep the storyline straight in your head, work out the plot, and subplots.  Several of you asked me about this, and different writers do it different ways.  For DEMON KISSED I utilized several methods.  First, I collected my ideas, having a general idea of the flow, but unsure of the secondary conflicts.  I made outlines.  That helped me see how the story was progressing.  The only bad thing about sticking to an outline is that ideas come to me while I’m writing, so I’d abandon the outline.  So it’s there to help, as a guide, but if I want to go off-roading, I do that too.

At one point, I tried making a storyboard.  That’s where you take index cards and write out your storyline, and post it on a cork board.  This works really well for linear thinkers.  I mapped out my main story line at one point, but the secondary plots that wove in and out were more difficult to capture on cork.

Personally, I think very abstractly, so linear isn’t my thing.  My cork board now holds notes I make to myself.

Notes were the best thing I did to keep the plot moving forward, and keeping things straight.  It’s not like I’d forget huge things, but I found little details (that help tie the whole story together) would come to me at odd times and be quickly forgotten.  Now, I jot down whatever I’m thinking and stick it on the board.  When I adapt the idea into the novel, I toss the note.  That was a HUGE help.

The most challenging thing I’ve encountered, so far, is having enough guts.  Yeah, I wrote the entire novel before I told anyone.  I sat down one day and decided to write.  My storyline formed and I just kept going.

For me, telling people that I did it was the hard part.  I write, paint, sing, play the cello, so it’s not like it’s a shocker to anyone that I’d do something that I love.  At the same time, it’s like learning to fly by jumping off a cliff.  You’ll find out if you can’t do it when you hit the bottom.  That’s a pretty brutal way to learn, but you’ll learn über fast.  That is the Holly way of learning things – things that weren’t covered in school.

Have a good week!

This popular post was from Holly’s original blog dated Oct 26, 2010.

I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies

WhyITurnedDownAMillionBucksSo, I ranted a little bit on KindleBoards and figured I should post it on my own blog at some point. So here we go…

I posted an announcement on my facebook page last night and had several ppl nudge me to post it over here. So here we go. Plus I’m adding more info, b/c info is king and it’s good to be king. bwuhahaha.

Over the past year I’ve been offered over 1.5 million bucks in advances offered by huge publishing houses. I told them to show me a marketing plan that knocks my socks off and I’d consider their offer. I had this notion that they knew what they were doing and could do it better than I could. They said they had all these ideas and they’re gonna blow my mind, which was a requirement for the deal, b/c the pay was too low.

About the money – if you have a book that hits #1-10 on the Kindle store, tons of people have the mistaken notion that it’s gonna blip and fall and you’re fun in the sun will end…unless a trad pub picks you up.

It’s math time! A book in the top ten sells around 5-10K copies per day. Let’s take the average and give the book some wiggle room and say it’s selling 7K copies a day @ $2.99. In 7 days you’ll have made (net, not gross) over $100,000. So BIG TRAD HOUSE offers you $200,000 for a three part series.

‘Sign here,’ they say. ‘Sign fast! You want to strike while the irons hot.’ ‘A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.’ ‘It’s a sure thing and if you don’t sign, then you could loose everything.’ <–They actually said all the crap to me, and its crap. If the book nets $100K in a week, what will it do next week? What about next month? What about next year? Never mind those other 2 books. Bad deal.

The most recent offer was for a high six figure deal on my next novel, on spec, sight unseen from one of the big 5. I gave the same terms – show me a kick *ss marketing plan and I’ll consider it. They were excited and on it! They were going to wow me. Like I was gonna be so wowed that I’d die of the wowness. True story.

Dude, the marketing plan I got back was the equivalent of, ‘we’re gonna do stuff.’ Their email list – yeah, they don’t personally have one, but this archaic place does – had 2K people on it. That was the bulk of their plan.

My email list has over 30K ppl on it and I do a ton more stuff than they presented. There’s a post in here about my release day marketing plan, most of which is free and time consuming. I still do that. It’s listed in here with details.

THEY DON’T DO THAT MUCH.

I said no. And laughed. A lot. It was so weak.

My point – do NOT think that they have any clue what they are doing, because they do not. There is a marketing method that is called ‘see what sticks’ where you take a plate of spaghetti and toss it at the wall. There’s no planning, no nothing. Just take it and throw. That is what the big houses are doing. Every marketing plan had that element of ‘fate’ and hoped that I would be the lucky piece of pasta that stuck.

Screw that. I want someone who knows what they’re doing. Apparently, that’s me. I’m good at selling intangible goods. I know that, but I assumed there would be better things that I hadn’t thought of. I still consider myself ‘green.’ Yeah, it turns out that I’m not.

Everything you do should have a purpose. All ads should be directly targeting your demographic for your book. ‘Toss it at the wall’ is very costly and honestly, it gets you a very poor ROI (return on investment).

Here are some of the highlights of my Indie career since I started. March marks my 3 year Indie anniversary. I was not previously published. I started at zero. I was a photographer, with a theology degree that cost a frickin fortune.

•I sold 4 MILLION+ books since 2011.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #1 bestselling Indie Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace title of 2013.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #14 bestselling Kindle title on Amazon of 2013.

•In 2013 alone I had 11 different titles on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list.

•I’m a NYT, WSJ, USAT bestselling author.

•THE ARRANGEMENT series sold over 1 million copies in 2013. Dude, they’re serials. People hate short books. Riiiight. Wink

•I’ve been a top 100 Amazon author every month of 2013, often in the top 10.

•In 2013 I released a new title about every 2.5 weeks.

•My formal education is in theology.

•My titles tend to focus on elements of the human condition such as poverty, hope, grief, and loss.

•I had multiple titles hit #1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was in the Amazon top 100 kindle titles for over 100 days in 2013.

•H.M. Ward owns H.M. Ward Press (formerly Laree Bailey Press). Other indies thought that I was trad b/c of my press. I’m not.

•Prior to this I was a nationally acclaimed professional photographer. I shot the covers for Demon Kissed 1-5 and Catalyst before I retired from photography in Fall 2012. Until then, I was a FT photog and a PT writer.

I started by using facebook and only facebook to connect to readers outside of my social circles. There are other ways to do that, but I’m a big believer in don’t wait for them to come to you.

My first book cost me $125 to produce. I was butt poor from a theology degree that cost well over six figures. I didn’t have extra money to mess around with.

I had a big NY agent for my 1st book and was looking at the traditional route. I told her to pull it–I wanted to publish it myself. (Many thanks to Joe Konrath and his awesome blog).

I work about 80 hours a week. I have two assistants that help me manage paperwork. I just hired them b/c I had been going nuts trying to do everything myself. Hubby helps me with all the numbers stuff and when I get sick (I’ve been fighting an illness for the past 3 years) that knocks me on my *ss periodically.

If you forget everything else in this post, remember this:

If you don’t have the gall to believe in yourself and your work, no one else will.

Bring it.

Own it.

And don’t worry about mistakes, because they’re the stepping stones to success. I notice I never say ‘I failed’ – I say ‘well, I jacket that up,’ and try to figure out where it went wrong so I can fix it. Failure is an excellent teacher. Learn from it and try again.

I feel like crap today, so forgive my typos and such. I wanted to take the time to share this b/c stuff like this helped me. I’d see ppl’s posts about how they were getting ahead, buying a laptop with their earnings, or read Joe’s blog and seeing his income, and it made me keep going. I’m glad I did.

Being an Indie completely and totally rocks.

–and this was a follow up–

Someone asked how I end up working 80 hours a week:

It’s more than 80 hours. I work at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week when I’m home. The only way I stop working is for me to go on vacation. But anyone who has worked for themselves knows that. I try to stop at 5pm, but it never happens. I usually try to stop and 5 and it takes me until 9 to get stuff done.

3 hours or less are spent writing per day.

The rest gets eaten up by email, fb, twitter, fan interaction, vendor relations/ discussions, launches (on launch day all I do is the stuff on that page I wrote a while back. It takes ALL day. I can’t do anything else on those days.)

I think interaction is important. Ive always thought that. If they took the time to write me something, I want to write them back. Its time consuming.

The rest of the time is spent making covers, blurbs, marketing strategy, reworking sales copies if they flopped, analyzing stats and seeing what can be changed to function better. This year I added book fairs to my to do list, so I’ll be at BEA, RWA, London, and RT. Audiobooks, listening to narrators, making the covers for those, answering interview requests. Planning marketing and coordinating things between ads. Making social media pics and posting.

That’s the stuff that stands out. Hubby does stats on sales and prepares paperwork for the boring side of a business.

As in any other person who is self employed, I spend the least amount of time doing the fun part. In this case, writing. I like making covers too.

I work from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. I did that when I had the photography studio too. Im not sure if Im a workaholic or if I work harder b/c I work for me.

I still spend a few hours every day playing with my kids and hubby. I eat meals with them, and work at home, so they can come talk to me when they need me. I don’t expect to maintain this pace forever, but I’ve been doing it so long I’d be lost working 40 hours a week.

Im hoping my assistants will take over the redundant work (eg cover made for ebook, paper, acx-the assistant makes the duplicates after I do the ebook design) and that will cut my workload by about 10 hours a week, which would be great. I’ll end up writing instead. hahaha.

Someone asked about paper only deals – NO ONE IS INTERESTED. I thought that was insane, but it’s not. It lines up with Hugh’s report. Paper is not where the money is at- ebooks are. I made the NYT list this week. Ebook only rank was #7 and Ebook and paper combined was #8. No preorder. Minimal paper sales – a few hundred. That also lines up with what Hugh’s report. Which makes me think, there isnt a lot of money in paper and the risk is greater than the reward. I am trying to do paper distribution myself. It’s too early to say what will happen. I’ll let you know, but I’m thinking there is a reason why the trad pubs are backing off of paper sales. It’s not arbitrary, despite their other actions I think they’re right about paper.

If Indies stopped chasing paper, if they stopped thinking that paper would be the difference, well, that would be major.

There’s one other huge thing that I wanted to mention, and that’s the fans. Being indie means I can release faster and for less. Can you imagine a trad pub trying to release a book every other week? Or even once a month? The fans LOVE having so much to read and not waiting very long. Plus I have the option to put anything I want on sale, whenever I want. These aren’t minor facets of the big picture, they’re huge. I’ve also dabbled with fans actually influencing the story line. That has been amazing. They got to chose major things – did this person sleep with this person, is this person gay, should the dark nature of a character be toned down, etc.

An offer has to be really attractive to risk my fans, and it is a risk. The publisher could totally derail things and p*ss off my fan base. For me, that’s a huge risk and it’s just not worth it. Notice I said risk several times. You’re risking everything you’ve made when you hand your stuff over to someone else.

A couple of you guys said you’ll be at RT and BEA. Totally come say hi!!!

Related Posts on Self Publishing and Indie Marketing

(reposted from old blog)

Author Tips: Book Bombs, Release Days, & Other Good Free Marketing Tips

NYTdamagedarrange6I thought I’d share what a typical release day looks like. Some things have changed since I started in 2011, but most are still the same.

Each novel has a release date that is announced on the website, blog, and social media pages a few weeks prior to release. I tell ppl when I start a new book/ series and do a cover reveal, so by the time I announce the release, they have been looking for it.

For serials, I give the readers a rough idea of when the next one will come out so I give myself enough time to write it. The cover is posted a few days prior to the release of the serial so everyone can see it and get excited. Then as soon as I get it back from editing I publish it.

What the heck is a book bomb? Define: Book Bomb=bombarded in this case with the hope that using multiple marketing channels, simultaneously, the book will be more visible for a short window. During that window you will get a higher influx of readers. More visibility=more sales. Generally speaking, that’s true. People can’t buy the book if they don’t know its there. A book bomb makes it very clear its there and how to get it.

RELEASE DAY MARKETING:

1. Blog Post – include links to all retailers, description, trailer (if I have one), release date, and cover. The blog’s RSS feed is a hub to connect/ send info to Author Central and Goodreads. Connect your accounts. You need a central hub for all data/ information.
2. Update Blog Widgets – add cover image to blog sidebar with link to book in Kindle Store.
3. Update Goodreads – make sure release date is in bold and change it to TODAY and sale price.
4. Add book to Author Central (on Amazon).
5. Add bold text, reviews, and the about the author section via Author Central.
6. Create mass email to get sent out on release day with links to ppl on the newsletter list.
7. Create social media images to be used as teasers on release day & week (hot link to book).
8. Post reminders on Twitter and Facebook that the book comes out tomorrow. Link to 1st chapter on blog if I posted a teaser.
9. Add cover to Pintrest. The reader demographic for romance novels is close to a direct overlap with Pinterest. If you’re not over there, you’re missing out.
10. Add other images that pertain to story idea or creation to Pinterest. (e.g. cool tunes for hot nights)
11. Update links to book on website. Make it easy to find/ buy your book. Remember that 30% of your audience disappears with each click.
12. Dispense ARCs
13. Check in with Beta Readers (if used).
14. Active my blogger base. These are bloggers that requested HM Ward info so they have content for their blogs.
15. Post links to books on Twitter and FB. Encourage sharing to help other fans see the book is out. FYI: Most posts by biz pages are NOT seen by fans unless they are running paid ads. It sucks, but it’s the future. Get used to it.
16. Send mass text messages to those who signed up. (New in 2015)
17. Contact Book Reviewers that requested personal reminders on release days.
18. Send notification on the HM Ward app to notify readers of new book. (Coming Feb. 2016)
19. Go out and take the day off so I don’t watch the computer all day.

Original post from 2011, updated in 2013:

Most of this stuff is free. The only thing that I pay for is the email service so I can track stuff. It is time consuming, but its worked well for me.

-Amazon stats over the past 5 years-

2011: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 3,000. A ho-hum day will be around 10,000.

2013: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 100. A ho-hum day will be around 200.

2015: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 125. A ho-hum day will be around 200.

Pre-orders decrease visibility and initial ranking spike. I use them sparingly.

Holidays, school, weekends, etc all affect release days. I try to launch the book when people will be around. There is usually an uptick in sale the two weeks following launch day as reviews start to come in.

Changes in 2014:

In addition to the things above, I might take out a paid ad if it’s the first book in a series. I plan promotions to kick in when the anticipated sales slump starts. I was hospitalized during one of my novel releases (DAMAGED last April), and by the time I woke up, that novel was already in the top 100. A ho-hum release now will hit a rank of about 200 on release day. A highly anticipated book will hit the top 10. I have over 40 books, about 1/2 novels, 1/2 serials. Some are YA and some are NA.

THIS IS STILL THE SAME: The best piece of advice I can give someone trying to boost their sales is this: MAKE IT REALLY EASY TO BUY YOUR BOOK! Don’t make people go looking for it.

And if you are selling to women/ girls: MAKE IT PRETTY! I use picture links a lot too.

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This is a hype piece for a book that came out recently. I use it on facebook & twitter. Sometimes it’ll will appear on the blog as well.

The most sales I had in a single week was just over 100K copies, and the title came in #2 on NYT, WSJ, and USA Today. Dan Brown beat me. I beat Jame Patterson. That title hit #1 on Amazon and held for about 1/2 a week at $3.99. Not too shabby. One week in 2013 I had 4 titles on USA Today’s bestseller list. I think that’s a record for me. There might have been 5 a while back, but I was too busy writing to notice. I gotta dig back through and check.

I still do all this stuff. It works. Anything that makes your books easier for ppl to find and buy is a plus. That’s what all this marketing stuff is about at it’s core – making it easier for readers to find & buy your books.

If this seems overwhelming, just remember that marketing=making your book more visible and easy to purchase. Start there and it’s less head spinning. I started with 1 facebook fan, too. It’s one fan at a time, 1 foot in front of the other kind of brand building that grabs readers and helps them stick around. It didn’t happen over night. This way takes time, but it works.

Rock on, Indie Peeps!