Dear Indie | Tropes

Hi Indies! In this post, I’d like to cover some of the more common tropes used in the romance genre. I think we’re all pretty familiar with them and have our personal favorites and those we absolutely despise. I won’t be holding back on my opinions here, fair warning.

10 MOST COMMON TROPES IN THE ROMANCE GENRE

#1: Rags to Riches: It’s timeless, some might even say it’s a classic. Those who despise this trope would rather call it the most unrealistic cliché in history. I think it all depends on how it’s done. We’ve been hearing/reading Rags to Riches stories since we were children and not all of them had to do with a poor girl being swept off her feet by a prince (I’m looking at you, Cinderella). Some, like the musical “Annie,” weren’t about romance at all. Even “A Christmas Carol” had an element of Rags to Riches at the end when Scrooge stopped being stingy and gave Bob Cratchit a raise, then provided a rich man’s feast for their Christmas supper. The thing is, most writers are poor as shit, all of their problems are money-related, and writing is our way of escaping reality and living out our greatest fantasies. Poverty, or being close to it, is simply a ‘real life’ experience that most writers are drawing from, so going from Rags to Riches will continue to be a common trope.

Currently this trope can be split into two main categories for romance: The plot where a desperate need for money is the heroine’s main motive for doing/being in a position to meet her wealthy hero in the first place (virgin auction, escort, sugar daddy, etc.) – Or – The plot where their meeting is happenstance/work related, and the heroine is either defiant against her lover’s wealth or extremely intimidated by it. The problem with the second category is that it causes the hero’s wealth to be repeatedly brought back into the spotlight, often as a negative element – sometimes as the main obstacle between or against them being together. Depending on how this is handled, it can either come across as understandable to the readers or the reason why they stop reading your book. It’s a risky minefield to play around with. The best advice I can give is to follow the golden rule of “less is more.”

My book, Collar Me Foxy, would actually fall under both categories, even though my heroine, Tessa, was offered the opportunity to make money, rather than it being a desperate situation she went looking for on her own – her love interest’s financial and societal status will play a negative part between them – but not until much, much later on in the series. So, it’s not something that I continuously bring up. Personally, I enjoy reading the Rags to Riches novel where the hero’s wealth isn’t the main theme or topic throughout the entire story line. Where the heroine going from Rags to Riches is simply a byproduct of the relationship, and the characters are too in love and busy with a hundred other things for it to matter more than being together.

One thing I feel obligated to note here: Rags to Riches is a highly popular trope in romance, with hundreds of thousands of books titled “The Billionaire [something or another]” Those lovely gems make it easy to avoid the trope if you’re not a fan. However, not all books are that obvious. So, as a writer, if your title isn’t that specific, it might be a good idea to mention the trope somewhere in your book description. Trust me, presenting your books as clearly as possible to readers can help keep those bad reviews from popping up.

#2: Light vs Dark / Purity vs Impurity: This is Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf in all of its countless mutations. The heroine is a virgin, inexperienced in every way, pure of heart, full of life and light, and her love interest is the walking epitome of depravity and sin. The main ingredient is temptation. Now, this trope can have a few different kinds of heroes. The Corrupter, who doesn’t care about protecting the heroine’s virtues, he wants to consume and claim her in every way, and be the only one to bring out her inner sex kitten. The Brooder, who believes himself beyond redemption and undeserving of the heroine’s love so keeps her at arms length while his desires fester and he falls deeper into self-loathing. Or – The Protector, who knows that he will destroy the heroine’s purity, taint her lightness, so spends the whole story fighting his desires for ‘her own safety’ and believing it’s the right thing to do.

This is another tricky trope to use without irritating the crap out of your readers, because all 3 of those Hero types can go from lovable to “get the eff over yourself, already” real freaking fast. My personal favorite is Hero #1, my least favorite is Hero #3. Mostly, I’m not a fan of this trope at all. It’s more commonly used in New Adult/Coming of Age romance, which I avoid at most costs because of this trope in particular. The whole wishy-washy, indecisive, back-and-forth behavior by The Protector or even The Brooder goes way too far, or I should say, goes on for waaaaaay too long in most of these books and will even continue AFTER they’ve already had sex. To me, that’s just beyond ridiculous, not to mention it’s more emotionally traumatizing and damaging to the heroine’s self-esteem than anything their ‘dark’ sides could have done if they’d just get the fork over it already.

My advice to any writer who’s going to use this trope is – don’t make it the only one! Provide other tropes in the plot for tension/conflict between your heroine and hero than just this ‘moral dilemma’ so it can be resolved faster, rather than being drug out to the point of annoyance. Give them some other reason to fight against and then for being together. Please. I beg of you.

#3: I/We Were Drunk: This trope can be used a few different ways. It can be the backstory for a Second Chance romance, or the cause of one of the Secret Baby romances (shudder) – but my biggest pet peeve is: When the entire book is thick with sexual tension between the hero and heroine, the build-up to their first time having sex so ripe it has readers on the edges of their seats, flipping the pages so fast they’re in danger of spontaneously combusting – and then one or both of the characters gets drunk, they have sex, and one or neither of them remembers the details the morning after – or feels so guilty about it, that it takes them forever to get over it.

This is the most ANTI-CLIMATIC trope EVER used in romance and I will throw your book in the goddamn trash! I’m not kidding. Not even a little. I HATE when I read this in books and I don’t use that word lightly. I don’t care how realistic drunken sex or drunken one-night stands are, using it in this context–as the couple’s first time having sex following a massive build-up– is the crappiest let down in a novel I have ever read. The fact that I’ve come across it more than once or twice, even in books by my favorite Best Selling authors, just floors me. Why would you do that to your characters, let alone your readers? It completely obliterates all of the fantastic build-up in an instant. It’s robbery. You are robbing your characters and your readers of what should have been the “Finish Line” euphoria deserving of such a rigorous race. Using “I was drunk” is just as pathetic an excuse in writing as it is in real life. It cheapens everything, and in my far-from-humble opinion is the epitome of Lazy Writing. Don’t be lazy. Find some other way to throw a wrench in your couple’s happiness, ffs!

#4: Independence vs Pride: I am all for a strong, independent heroine, as I mentioned several times in my previous posts. All of my heroines are independent in their own way, even if they are kneeling at the feet of a Dom. While independence is more of a personality trait, it can also be a trope – and quite a common one in romance. The trope of independence is often tied to the heroine’s inner-strength, her career, and her list of responsibilities/obligations – so, even if she’s not rolling in riches – she’s still working and taking care of her own with her own income. Sometimes, the woman is at rock bottom and jobless, yet we’ll still see her strive to help herself before asking for hand-outs. Independent women ask for help as a last resort, they have to be desperate to go looking for assistance or agreeing to do something that goes against their morals/beliefs. I like this trope, because it’s believable and it maintains the character’s integrity, even if she ends up doing something immoral to get money out of that desperation. Readers can still relate to that and root her on.

Where independence as a trope becomes a negative thing is when it stops becoming about maintaining independence and starts becoming a matter of pride. Not dignity kind of pride, but the whole “cut off your nose to spite your face” kind of pride. This is when the heroine repeatedly goes against or argues with the hero, even when by doing so, she finds herself in deeper trouble and/or in need of getting rescued by the hero. Yet, she never stops doing it. She never takes a moment to realize she’s the one making her situation worse by being stubborn and unwilling to compromise. She’s too hell bent on proving she’s right and the hero is wrong to see beyond it – and that’s not about independence, that’s about ego and pride. The worst of the worst, is when this trope is used throughout the entire story and the heroine still gets her HEA without growth/compromise/giving equal effort to building a strong and healthy relationship. It’s another book I will throw in the trash after leaving a scathing review on every platform I can find. I have absolutely no respect or support for this heroine type as a reader. She’s an immature hypocrite with double standards, and that has NO place in a romance novel.

#5: The Love Triangle: This is more popular in YA, but is still a classic trope that works. Most readers love it. It’s a great way to show emotional conflict within the heroine, giving readers a more in-depth feel for her personality and those traits that come by her naturally. It can also bring out the ‘ugliness’ wrought by jealousy to show how worthy the hero or heroes are to win the heroine’s affections. Just as in real life, though, this trope can easily slip into the negative realm: If the heroine is leading both men on because she’s indecisive or too afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings, there’s a delicate time frame when this is understandable and relatable to readers, but then it should be resolved, otherwise it starts making the heroine look weak, cowardly, and just like a really bad person.

Now, in some cases the love triangle isn’t experienced by all three people. Often times, the heroine loves only the hero, but she is loved by both the hero and a second man. The unrequited love isn’t her fault and she’s not leading the man on, most likely he is a good friend or someone she has regular contact with. Using the trope in this fashion can lead to numerous results. Frequently, the ‘rejected’ man will become one of, or the main antagonist, or at least some kind of obstacle in the way of the heroine and hero’s happiness. Sometimes, he will recover from this on his own and bow out with some of his dignity left. Other times it will take the heroine or hero confronting him. Usually, it results in the heroine breaking all contact with the man and him simply disappearing from the story line. This trope can also cover the heroine stuck in an arranged marriage, while being in or falling in love with someone else.

The Love Triangle is one of those tropes that can be 100% unique each time it’s used, simply because the characters involved are completely different from any other characters who have already been in this situation – therefore, their reactions and behavior are going to be their own and not what someone else would do/have already done. My advice if you’re going to use this trope is have fun with it, try to make it as unique as possible while maintaining realism. Also, even though jealousy brings out the worst in us, try to stay as true to your character’s personality as possible, even if it’s the ugly side of it.

#6: The Other Woman: This is quite a popular trope in romance and can range from a very small part to being thoroughly integrated into the story line. Either way, somewhere in the plot is another female character who has her sights set on the hero and will cause some kind of tension/conflict between the main characters or will be an obstacle they have to overcome. It is so varied in use, I wouldn’t even be able to list all of the different scenarios here, but I’m sure as readers you have seen this quite often. I have used it a few times in my own books. It’s another classic trope in the romance genre that readers seem to enjoy. I’ve also seen and written scenarios where the ‘other’ woman doesn’t necessarily have her sights set on the hero, she just can’t believe the heroine would be chosen over her, she believes herself more beautiful, better status in society, whatever the case may be. It’s more about a slight against her ego and envy, than desiring the hero, himself.

For example: I have a “other” woman in my current WIP that doesn’t even know who the hero is, she’s just infuriated when she sees my heroine wearing a collar, because she believes herself far more attractive, yet no one bid on her at auction. She’s going to be a small, one scene problem, but it still falls under the umbrella of this type of trope.

#7: The Secret: Another trope that’s readily used is when there’s a secret that will be revealed, usually at the most inopportune time, causing tension/conflict between the heroine and hero or providing them with a challenge that threatens their relationship’s survival. The secret can come from just about anywhere and be about anything that fits your story line and where you’d like the plot to go. Either one of your characters can be harboring the secret or it can be one that neither of them are aware of, but is dug up by a friend or found following the death of a relative – or from the woman who shows up on the hero’s doorstep announcing he’s the father of her child. There are endless ways The Secret trope can be used for your book, and just like The Other Woman, it can be a ‘side’ obstacle they have to overcome or it can be one of the major plot conflicts/twists.

#8: Love For Hire: We’ve seen this popular trope not only in our books, but often in movies, where either the hero or the heroine has to obtain a ‘partner’ at short notice for an event or to achieve something, so they hire or ask someone to pretend to be their lover/spouse. Of course, the more time they spend together, get to know each other, the more the relationship between them becomes real, rather than fake. I loved The Proposal with Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock and especially, Betty White – but that’s far from being the only time this trope has been used and loved by viewers/readers. This is a trope I’ve yet to attempt and may not ever, but it’s not one I dislike, either.

However, I do think that this trope is at higher risk of coming across as completely cliché – in a bad way – than most other tropes. Simply, because there are only so many reasons why a person would need a ‘stand-in’ partner at the last minute and I’m pretty sure they’ve all be covered a few times.

#9: Friends-to-Lovers / Friends With Benefits: Either of these tropes can be used in romance, and it seems to be a fan favorite. I think FWB is still less common than just FTL, but either one is a trope where the heroine and hero start out as friends and then eventually become lovers, then fall in love and HEA. It’s also one of those ‘generalized’ kind of tropes that gives writers plenty of creative freedom to make it unique from all the rest, as it can be applied to a million different scenarios and plot settings.

10: Enemies to Lovers: This trope is more commonly seen in Mafia, MC, and Paranormal romances, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or has never been used in contemporary romance. It can range from the Romeo & Juliet scenario where the love is forbidden due to family loyalties; the Sleepless In Seattle scenario where they’re business enemies; or the Second Chance romance where something happened in their past that made them enemies and now they’re stuck being around each other again for some reason – There are many ways the main characters can be or became enemies, but usually the ‘attraction’ element is always used to get them from enemies to lovers, to in love, to their eventual HEA.

Recently, the favorite type of books where this trope is the main plot thread are the “Abduction” romances. And those can fall under any of the types of romance sub-genres. However, the “Abduction” scenario is a trickier story line to navigate. One, it’s at higher risk of being cliché because of how popular it is and how many times it’s already been done. And two, unless you’re writing “Dark” or “Psychological” thrillers with this trope, you have to make sure readers are convinced the heroine’s affections for the hero are genuine and not the result of Stockholm Syndrome.

Whew! That was a lot to cover and it’s really only a small amount of tropes. What’s your favorite and least favorite trope?

❤ In my next post I’m going to finally conquer the topic of writing BDSM/Kink, the popular scenarios, tropes and how you can make your BDSM novel pass scrutiny by members of the Alternative Lifestyle, even if you’ve never experienced a single kinky thing in your life outside of a bendy straw. 😉

Who’s Ready for More Kinky Fun in Paradise?

Yes, I mean finally! Can you see how excited I am??? It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to say this:

“Scavenger, Book 2 of the Dark Day Isle series is officially scheduled for Release on May 1st!!!” 

When I first released Collar Me Foxy in June of 2016, I already had half of Scavenger’s rough draft penned. I never imagined its release day would be nearly 2 years away! Turns out my first rough draft of Scavenger was 90% rubbish and only 10% salvageable.

I won’t bore you with the gruesome details. Suffice to say, this is NOT the Scavenger I finished a year ago and passed off to beta readers. It’s so much better! The disheartening, yet extremely helpful, beta feedback and struggle with revisions ended up being completely worth it. I hope you all feel the same when you read it! (See how optimistic I am? LOL)

Thanks to the lovely Lauren and Nikki over at Saints and Sinners Book Promotions, I now introduce this pretty banner and sign up link for anyone who would like to host Scavenger’s Cover Reveal and/or Release Day Blitz on their blogs – or maybe you can share with someone who might? You’re awesome, thanks! 😀 ❤

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SIGN UP HERE

BLURB

It’s day two of the exclusive getaway on Dark Day Isle, and Felix’s smoldering lust isn’t the only thing to greet Tessa come morning. A list of challenges awaits her; finding the courage to confront her Master, devious tests of kink designed to push her limits and an unpleasant punishment that effects more than just their temporary dynamic.

Afternoon events provide insight on the getaway’s purpose and leads them deeper into the resort’s naughty, fetish-catering amenities. Tessa and Felix’s individual struggles are interspersed with visiting friends, unexpected triggers and a meeting of competitive spirits during the evening’s activity.

When Tessa’s true feelings about the cage are revealed, so is one of Felix’s well-guarded secrets that leaves her stunned. Now, Master expects to learn something from her in return and Tessa dreads what he might deem an even exchange for a truth he never wanted her to know.

Welcome to Dark Day Isle, the Ultimate Kink Resort ♥ #Free eBook

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$10,000 and an all-expense paid getaway to a kink resort? What’s the catch?

Tessa Fauns has but one dream: Move to France and never leave.
So when she’s offered the chance to get enough money, while putting her bilingual skills to use, how can she possibly say no?
The fact that it requires her to join a select group of Club Vitalz submissives for a week-long kinkfest in paradise is just the icing on the cake!

Unless, it’s too good to be true…

Despite all of her experience in the BDSM lifestyle, Tessa isn’t prepared for the extravagant activities their mysterious host has planned–nor the clash of unexpected emotions her new temporary Dom awakens inside of her.
Can a lifelong dream be enough to keep this little fox on her leash,
or will the truth behind her Master’s desires have
Tessa rethinking her place on Dark Day Isle altogether?

#Free all this week on Amazon
(3/19 – 3/23)

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#MusicMonday

Style

by Taylor Swift

Midnight,
You come and pick me up, no headlights
Long drive,
Could end in burning flames or paradise
Fade into view, oh, it’s been a while since I have even heard from you (heard from you)

I should just tell you to leave ’cause I
Know exactly where it leads but I
Watch us go ’round and ’round each time

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style.

So it goes
He can’t keep his wild eyes on the road
Takes me home
Lights are off, he’s taking off his coat, hmm, yeah.
I say, “I heard, oh, that you’ve been out and about with some other girl, some other girl.”

He says, “What you’ve heard is true but I
Can’t stop thinking about you,” and I…
I said, “I’ve been there, too, a few times.”

‘Cause you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt (tight little skirt)
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

Take me home
Just take me home, yeah.
Just take me home
(out of style)

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

I do not own any rights to this video, lyrics or song. All rights remain with the artist(s) and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

Aside from the fact that I actually really like this song, today’s music video choice was inspired by Master Felix. For those who have no idea who Master Felix is, you can pick up a copy of Collar Me Foxy for FREE on Amazon all this week! 😉

$1.99, 99¢ or FREE. Free’s good!

It’s official, Avarice and Collar Me Foxy are now enrolled in KDP Select – which means they’re FREE for all you Kindle Unlimited members and through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)!

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Only 99¢ or

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AC MEDOLY, Avarice 2016-322

Only $1.99 or

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A little note for my fellow Indies: If you’re considering switching from Smashwords to KDP Select now or anytime in the future, it can take a few days for you book(s) to be pulled from all of the third party affiliate sites, so plan ahead if you have a specific date in mind. Smashwords warned me that it could take 1-3 weeks, but all of the retail sites had my books pulled overnight – except Barnes & Noble who took about 3 days. Then I had to wait for the Kindle Unlimited price of $0.00 to show up on my books’ Amazon pages (a few hours at most). Just wanted to share that with you all for future reference. 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

Good evening [she says in Bela Lugosi’s Dracula voice] – Yeah, I’m a nerd – But, I have an important update for all of you who might still be contemplating where to publish your books: Collar Me Foxy just hit its 102nd full download since going Free on Smashwords! Now, we celebrate not getting paid? YES! That’s 102 readers that may otherwise never have purchased my book, 102 people who might love it and then spread the word to all of their friends, coworkers, etc. – in other words, 102 free ads I didn’t have to pay for. 😉 So, is it worth publishing through Smashwords? Yes. Is it worth participating in any sale event that lists your book for free? Absolutely!

Of course, the sale is only through Smashwords, so my book is still selling at regular price on every other retail site. Even though I’ve been trying to advertise the free version, not everyone sees those tweets or posts, and some consumers are under the impression that if they have a Kindle they can only purchase through Amazon, when that’s not the case. Smashwords offers the MOBI edition, too. – Just wanted to let all my fellow Indies know for future reference.

This week, we’re entering the final stages of your publishing process. See that checkered flag up ahead? That’s the finish line, my friend! Let’s recap the steps you’ve already taken thus far: You totally nailed finishing your rough draft, conquered your fears and got those beta read revisions done, then shipped your MS off to your Editor. In the interim, you started building your Author Platform, got your Newsletter started, and have shopped around for – or perhaps, already ordered – your book cover. If you haven’t, now is the time to do that. Depending on how you choose to obtain it, depends on how long it will take for you to get your cover. For those who’ve been following these posts all along, this information is probably starting to sound a little redundant, so to save all of our times, here are the links for my articles on book covers: Post 1 , Post 2 , Post 3.

Here’s a Checklist of what you’ve already accomplished:

  • Author Bio
  • Blurb
  • Final Edited Version of your MS
  • Blog/Website
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Facebook Fan Page – different from a regular user account
  • Goodreads Author Profile
  • (Optional) Teasers, Book Trailer, Playlist
  • Book Cover (self-made, pre-made or professional) Done or Ordered

These are the things that your promoters are going to ask for when you order your book tours, which is something else you should be doing right about now, if you haven’t already. Also, if you’re getting ready to book your tours, that means you’ve already chosen a Release Date – Congratulations! It’s an amazing feeling to have that date circled on your calendar, an obtainable goal within your reach, so take a moment to revel in that feeling of accomplishment. You’re one step closer to becoming a published author. 🙂

Your next step is critical: Interior Layout Formatting. I also covered that a little bit in an earlier post here. Please take a moment to read it over and decide how you’d like to cover this step. I’ll give you my personal experience and opinion in a nutshell: I jumped the gun and hired a professional for my novella, Avarice, and now I’m not even going to be using the two formats I paid over $80 for. I needed to make changes I couldn’t pay the extra money for, and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with the blahzay title page or chapter headers they used. I wanted to jazz it up a little.

Both Smashwords and Amazon have style guides, but one works just as well for the other, so spare yourself the extra reading. However, they are only for those using Microsoft Word – which, I do not have – so if you’re also using a free word processor like OpenOffice or Libre, message me and I can send you step-by-step instructions on how to apply the right steps to perfect your layout. It seems overwhelming at first glance, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy – and you’ll find yourself never using the TAB button again!

If you’re part of the Goodreads support groups, you may have seen an open discussion about this recently. To me, it seems those having a problem with doing their own layouts are not following each step – even though it warns in the very beginning that not following each step will result in failure – so, please have patience young padawan and follow those guides to a T. Collar Me Foxy never saw a lick of trouble in any format (mobi, epub, etc.) and never once got spit out of Smashwords Meatgrinder. If you decide it’s just too much to take on yourself, by all means hire a professional – just make sure your MS is completely done and final so you’re not wasting your money like I did! 🙂

It’s Decision Time, dear Indie. You can’t put it off any longer. You need to decide right now, exactly how you plan on publishing your book. Here’s another look at your options:

  • Smashwords: Who will upload it to every other retail site for you, aside from Amazon – including, but not limited to: Barnes & Nobel, iBooks and Kobo.
  • Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing: Which allows you to still have it listed everywhere else.
  • KDP Select: An exclusive platform that forbids you from selling anywhere other than Amazon, but has a lot of beneficial features that could possibly help sell more of your books.
  • eCommerce Website: Selling directly to customers from your own website at 100% royalties to you, and of course can be coupled with every other option aside from KDP Select.
  • CreateSpace: Amazon’s Print On Demand platform (it’s imperative to know if you’re going to publish here, since it requires a completely different Interior Layout and Book Cover than an eBook).

Keep in mind that you are not limited to your initial choice. You can always change your mind later on and add or remove your book with any one of these programs (KDP Select does have a certain time you’re obligated to fulfill first). That’s the nice thing about being Independent. Your book = your choice. A traditional publisher chooses the sites, sets the price of your book, and you don’t get a say in it. Next week, we’re going to look at more marketing adventures you can take to help pre-promote your book before its launch date!

Weekly Accomplishment: I got over a small stretch of writers block and started working on Scavenger again with a new found flow of creativity. Just started Chapter Five with only 1 or 2 more chapters to go! What are you celebrating this week? Please share with us in the comments below, so we can cheer you on!

 

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

IndependentHappy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans! The perfect day to get back on track with my Indie posts. 🙂 The last you heard from me, I talked about the importance of Beta Readers and all of the steps that will help you during your Post-Rough Draft, Pre-Publication process. I’m going to pick right up where I left off and move into possibly the most difficult step you’ll ever face in your journey: Dealing with constructive criticism.

First, it’s important to understand what a Beta Reader is, what they do and what you’re essentially asking them to do when you request their help. The easiest comparison is:

You’re the CEO of your own company (Author Name) looking to market a new product (Your Book) and Beta Readers are your test subjects. They’re trying your book out for size and filling out a customer survey (Beta Read Questionnaire) at the end.

Beta Readers are usually experienced and know what to look for, what critiques will help polish your book. Some are more thorough than others, but they’re looking at some or all of these points: Character development, sentence structure, plot holes, flow, grammar, punctuation, style and overall enjoyment. They can be a lot like editors, only from a readership point of view.

Now, that you’ve gotten the results back, your first reactions and questions may be along the lines of:

  • What? They didn’t like it? But how can anyone think poorly about the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put into this precious new creation? Easy. They didn’t put any blood, sweat and tears into it. They are not emotionally invested in the story, the characters or even the success of the finished, published product. Therefore, their opinions and suggestions are unbiased, clear-headed and unfettered. As much as you might loathe or even downright despite them, this collection of outside feedback is crucial to your book’s success.
  • But, I chose to publish independently so that I could write what I want – or – because none of the publishers or literary agents were interested, despite the fact that I know it’s good! – Yes, but now you have the opportunity to make it even better. To polish your story to the point where it’s no longer good, but phenomenal! [insert flashing text and raining glitter here].
  • All of my friends and family love my book just the way it is! – No, they’re either afraid of hurting your feelings or they really do love it, because they don’t know any better. By that, I mean, they’re not familiar with your specific genre, or they aren’t aware of those critical points I listed above (character development, etc.) and therefore have no way of critiquing those things for you.

The important question you should be asking yourself is this: Wouldn’t you rather know these opinions now, rather than in bad reviews after it’s already published?

I completely understand your desire to hold fast and try to protect your hard work. We inherently possess a knee-jerk reaction that sends us right into defensive mode whenever our work is criticized. It’s natural, and it’s okay to feel (not to act on). However, I also know from experience that it’s counterproductive to stay in that mode for too long.

So, how can you get past it and turn all of the criticism into something useful? By remembering that you’re a CEO of a company looking to market a new product. It’s as easy, and as difficult as that. Allow yourself to have your initial, natural reactions – but then step back from the personal, emotional hold of it and put it into a business perspective.

The worst possible feedback you can ever get is “OMG, I loved it!” and nothing else – In no way does that help you. It’s flattering, yes, and we all love to hear that kind of praise, but that sentence alone is not going to help you sell any books. Besides, that’s more of a Review than a Beta Read (we’ll cover Reviews later on).

The best feedback will be a combination of positive and negative points. Most (not all) beta readers like to highlight the things they loved about your book, just as much as it’s their job to point out all of the things that didn’t work well for them. It should be a balance, but you have to keep in mind that beta reading is time consuming, so there may be those who only give you back the critiques without any praise – that doesn’t mean they didn’t like anything, though.

By turning the negative feedback into the positive tools they really are, it will help soften the blow, but I won’t promise it will be easy. Remember that each opinion and suggestion are the necessary bolts and screws that are going to make your book stronger for the marketplace. The fruits and veggies your story is going to need in order to flourish. Call it tough love, if you will, but when you trick your mind into a more positive, constructive and essentially productive perspective regarding your beta reads, you’ll be able move past it faster and get onto the next step you need to take.

Okay, so what step is that? Hopefully, you’ve already shopped around and decided on a professional editor, but if you haven’t, now would be the time. Most editors are willing to do a sample edit for you, so that you can see how thorough they are. They’re usually able to give you a time frame of how long it will take them to get the first pass back to you, as well. Choose the best editor for your needs and send your MS off to them.

Congratulations! You’re now halfway through your self-publishing journey! Take a moment to celebrate and pat yourself on the back for such a job well done! Especially, for managing to get through your first collection of criticism – it never completely goes away, but it might get easier for you over time.

Next week, I’m going to cover some optional pre-marketing steps you can take while you’re waiting for your edits to come back that might save wear in tear in your floors from pacing! 🙂

Weekly Accomplishment: I’m happy to announce that this week, I’ve finished the 3rd Chapter for Scavenger, book 2 of the Dark Day Isle series and have moved into the 4th. Hint: When Master Felix orders extra pineapple, things are bound to get a little… messy. 😉 What are you drooling… er…cheering over this week? Please share with us in the comments below!

 

8th Annual Summer/Winter Sale!

Collar_Me_Foxy_Final-chained_JPEGHi everyone! I’m back… kinda. I’ll be here a little more often, at least. Starting today and going all through July, Collar Me Foxy will be FREE on Smashwords! So, tell all of your friends, family and even your frenemies (I’m not biased). 😀

This is a major event with LOTS of participating authors, so make sure you also check out their promotional page HERE and get busy supporting your Indie Authors while collecting a ton of FREE and discounted books!

Have a Safe & Awesome 4th of July weekend!

Release Day ♥ Collar Me Foxy!

Good morning/afternoon everyone, just one special announcement today: YAY!!!! Collar Me Foxy is LIVE! And I’m late to my own party…

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IT’S LIVE!!!

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Tessa Fauns has but one dream: Move to France and never leave.
So when she’s offered the chance to get enough money, while putting her bilingual skills to use, how can she possibly say no?
The fact that it requires her to join a select group of Club Vitalz submissives for a week-long kinkfest in paradise is just the icing on the cake!

Unless, it’s too good to be true…

Despite all of her experience in the BDSM lifestyle, Tessa isn’t prepared for the extravagant activities their mysterious host has planned—nor the clash of unexpected emotions her new temporary Dom awaken inside of her.
Can a lifelong dream be enough to keep this little fox on her leash,
or will the truth behind her Master’s desires have
Tessa rethinking her place on Dark Day Isle altogether?

Cliffhanger warning: This novella is the first in a collection that spans the entire week-long getaway, so the story continues throughout.

_Ma petite renard._

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“All you need are books to read, music to hear, coffee to consume and gargoyles to watch your back.”

A.C. Melody is a published author of Erotic Romance, covering the sub-genres of Paranormal, Fantasy, Futuristic, BDSM and Contemporary. A lifetime lover of Fairytales, Myths, Legends and ancient pantheons, she always tries to include a little whimsy and humor into all of her novels, no matter how dark. Her greatest joy is unraveling all of the raw layers of her characters and providing the perfect stages in which their voices can be heard by readers. Terrible at keeping things simple, she struggles most with word-count limits, therefore writes a lot of series. Spending more time researching than writing, A.C.’s biggest goal is to provide new, captivating angles on old, favorite tales with very naughty twists and characters that redefine preset expectations.

“Heroes are easy to flesh out. There’s already a universally accepted template in place for them. I would much rather create a villain that seduces the heart and mind with his shoddy attempts at rightness; that you can’t help rooting for, despite his appearance to be a genuine lost cause.”

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