Help, my book’s not selling!


Louise Wise




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It can happen to the best of us.

Sometimes a book won’t hit the spot with your readers, maybe the cover isn’t right or the blurb is wrong? Maybe you’re hitting on the wrong readership? Over-priced?

How do you know if any of the above apply to you?

Trial and error, but most importantly be honest with yourself.

My dark romantic comedy had become stagnant in the Amazon charts and the few reviews it received (luckily all good) weren’t enough to advertise it on sites such as BookBub. 

I tried all the usual things authors do to get the book moving: composing mini blurbs for Twitter, rewriting the blurb, redoing the tags, joining a tweet gang all which resulted in a flutter of sales.

I did the above again the following month, and again. All I received were flutters in return. For a highly researched book that took years to write I wasn’t about to give up on it so quickly. But despite my efforts in October/November time last year the book was flat lining and needed a defibrillator QUICK! 

Something was wrong with the book.

I looked at the title with critical eyes and it screamed: literary! The title, The Fall of the Misanthrope, didn’t portray dark, comedy romance so I began thinking up suitable names. 

I took a look at other dark comedies high in the charts and checked out their titles (I didn’t want the same), but I wanted to see what was selling. Chick lit titles seem to do best with clichés as titles or words from a song or even just expressions, dark comedies had titles that were self-mocking or just mocking.

Jane Dixon-Smith's profile photo
Jane Dixon-Smith

I composed a list of titles I liked and put them against my book, but I found the cover all wrong. Time to spend money and design a new one. I called on the designer of the original cover, Jane Dixon-Smith and together we came up with how the cover looks today, and I think it’s a HUGE difference, and brings alive the book’s theme perfectly–comedy.

With the title and cover all sorted I needed to do one more thing, and that’s get word out about my relaunch. I didn’t want to waste money on buying promotion from sites that take your money and don’t offer much of a return, so I looked to my romcom groups on Facebook: Chick Lit Goddesses and The Official Chick Lit page. 

Great people came forward, and I didn’t even have to force them! They offered! In return, I took great pains in writing something worthwhile on the themes of their choice. I made sure everything was correct and my links worked.

Hiring a blog tour organisation will take you to bloggers who specialise in hosting authors, so you may get better results from them, but I was after free and I wanted it NOW. Here are my articles:

Kristina Knight  – cover reveal
Susan Buchanan –  Why an Overhaul is Needed
Caroline Fardig –  Keep Calm and WRITE
Deb Nam-Krane – author interview
Courtney Giardina – Bridget Jones for a Day

Georgina Troy – character interview
Monique McDonell –  Mental Illness: Nurture of Nature?

Alissa Baxter – Is Romance Harmless Escapism?
Matt Posner – author/general interview
Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?  – Just Writing a Book isn’t Enough!

Next, I lowered the price to a bargain 99c/77p and will keep it low until the end of May.

So, all in all, has this hop been worth it? 

I’ll be honest with you, for this book, no. I enjoyed the blogging process, and my name and articles are on the web for as long as the blogs are there, so that’s a plus. 

The flutter of sales (pity sales from my hosts maybe?) didn’t make this hop a success. My other romcom, A Proper Charlie, which although sees better sales, still doesn’t bring in a huge amount, so maybe it’s the genre?

My sci-fi romance Eden and Hunted are doing very well in the Amazon charts, so maybe romantic comedy is too swamped for any new author to do well in it? 

I’d love your thoughts on the subject.


Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love!

Valerie Anthrope wanted was to be in control of her destiny.
In a short-sighted decision, she employs ‘mad as a hatter’ Ellen Semple as her
assistant in her financial brokerage, only to find her life being taken over by
the domineering older woman. And to add insult to injury, client, Lex Kendal,
seems equally determined to own her.

77p / 99c until end of May 2014




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Valerie’s bitchy ‘Devil Wears Prada’ image is ignored by Ellen and a turn-on
for Lex, her only other defence is to close her heart to the pair of them. But
it cracks when a bedraggled kitten finds its way into her life, making it easy
for Lex to swoop in and Ellen to declare herself Valerie’s fairy godmother.
just who is Ellen Semple? Where did she come from? Why does she want to help
Valerie so badly? And how come she seems to know Lex even though they’ve never met
Valerie can’t fend them off any longer and allows them into her life, her past
rears its ugly head to remind her just why she’s alone in the world.

Five Facts about A Fair Exchange

This month, Monique McDonell is the first author to reveal FIVE FACTS about her latest release (she is also offering prizes. Scroll down for details). During the FIVE FACTS month we’ll  be discovering facts about books that their author would rather not be known.

Over to Monique…

1. Just like the main character in my novel, A Fair Exchange, I was an exchange student in Massachusetts as a teenager.

2. Of all my novels this one had the longest gestation period.

3. I had lots of fun researching this book doing road trips in Australia and eating out at places in the book.

4. The character of Stacey in the book is an amalgam of a few of my friends when I live in America. (Stacey is a very American name and was not common in Australia in the 1980s and yet I had several American friends by that name – all my Australian friends were called Jennifer, Emma or Kylie).

5. Of all the male characters I’ve written Matt is my favourite so far. If I wasn’t happily married he’d be welcome on my door-step anytime!

A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?
Amelia Armstrong is about to find out!

It’s just a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself, and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.


It was not as if he was the
first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment
had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise
empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said
“Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I
might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a
vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?
What amazed me was that the
Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
 Not that Nick had dumped me,
after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking
basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and
an enormous mortgage.
 No one even commented about
the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way
too much to me.
 No, they commented on the
 What I could not understand
though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue
commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing
sea of tears?
 How had this happened? How had
I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up
thirty-six and alone?
 Didn’t I used to have so much
potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?
 “Amelia Armstrong is something
 I was one of those shiny young
girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what
she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
 If I hadn’t been that kind of
a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl
would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen,
staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.
 So where was that girl right
now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so
horribly wrong?

About the author – Monique McDonell:

‘I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.’

How Authors Sharing Tips Of The Trade Can Help You Succeed

What I Wished I’d Known before I Published
Part Three

It’s great to have a book ready to go but in the digital book one book often gets lost so be sure to have book two ready to go hot on its heels. – Monique McDonell

Read the FAQ! – Alex Butcher 

Write every day. – Wayne Bartlett

If you want to make a living from your craft, you have to treat it like a business. Your writing is your product, and a successful business will do whatever it takes to put the best product out to the public. That means doing the best job you can where your talents are strongest, and hiring “outside vendors” to take over where you are weak. If you have a talent for graphic arts, do a great cover. If you don’t, then for Ghu’s sake, hire someone to do a professional cover.

And whether or not you are a good editor, NEVER edit your own writing! Your mind will see what you *intended* to write, and not necessarily what you *actually* wrote. Hire a good editor. – Jeff Brackett

Learn how to market before you hit the publish button because it’s all on the author. Wear a thick skin because no matter how many times you edit/check/re-check someone will find a typo and blow it all out of proportion. Get into a writers group like this one so you can keep gaining knowledge. – Elaine Raco Chase

Great cover art is worth its weight in gold. If you can’t afford great cover art, see if you can do a swap (babysitting, editing, whatever). – Connie Keller 

I wish I’d known about creating a mailing list. I started
indie publishing at the end of 2010 and I didn’t know such things existed. I
also wish I’d paid a cover artist sooner. Also–it is okay to go back to
earlier books and ‘fix’ them. I just reedited (for dialogue tags and typos) my
first book and uploaded. It just means that the people who buy it today are
getting a version I like better. – Sarah Woodbury
Don’t rush to publish. It’s easy to do when the thrill of
finishing a book is swimming through your head. After you’ve finished that
final edit, step back at least two weeks, then reread. – 
Jolea M Harrison 
Actually I’m glad I wasn’t told all of the pitfalls or how
difficult it was to get published. If I’d known it might have put me off
trying. – Patsy Davies 

Matthew Wayne Selznick – “Whenever possible, direct potential readers to the sales page on your website, not to or another retailer. There are two good reasons for this: 

1) Your reader might not want to shop at the retailer you choose in the region you choose.

2) (This is the big one) By bringing a reader to the sales page on your own site, you raise the chance they’ll subscribe to your mailing list and become part of your reader community. This is far more valuable in the long run than the chance of a one-time sale.”

Connie Keller  – Make sure your betas are good editors. Not every writer makes a good editor for someone else’s work. Also, when proofreading, read the book aloud from back to front, i.e., start with the last chapter and read it through aloud. Then, the second to the last chapter, then, the third to the last chapter and so on until you read the first chapter last. This will keep you from getting caught up in the story and you’ll do a much better job of proofreading.

Vickie Taylor – Pay attention to details. It’s the little things that whisper “professional” versus screaming “amateur”. Time to make a modern cover. Editing. Formatting. Proofreading. Sometimes the smallest things like using two dashes instead of an em dash or straight quotes instead of curly quotes can give a reader an impression of your book’s quality and your skill as an author.
Secondly, develop an open mind, but thick skin. That means be able to listen to criticism objectively without hurt feelings and then decide if it is something you really want to rethink.
Three probably isn’t fair, but here goes. Don’t feel like you have to (or even should) publish your first book (as in for sale, where people are going to give you money for it). Put it out there for people to read, sure, possibly on your blog or on Wattpad or even a fan fiction type site where people can read it and maybe give feedback. But writing, like any other craft or art, can take time to develop. I’ve never seen a pianist charge for attending a concert to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or whatever other first song they learned. Hone your skill. Go big when you’re ready. And I know some people won’t agree with that. That’s okay. I’ve been working on my #2
Vickie Johnstone – Nothing will happen overnight. Finding readers takes time. Don’t give up though and keep writing. Ask for beta readers. I only did this after publishing several books and they were a great help. It also takes the ‘oh my God’ out of hitting ‘publish’. I published my first book without anyone having read it, which is scary, scary, scary! Oh, and make sure you get an editor. I am one, but still need one. 

Step Away from the Cat!

Monique McDonell

I’m blogging today about a phenomenon that
I may be guilty of in my own fiction.  You’ll recognise it when I explain. It’s when a main character uses a pet as a
confidant and ally.
Let’s loosely call it ‘the animal as a literary device’.

Take a lonely
single girl who sits around talking to her cat (or dog or hamster) lamenting
her situation because nobody else understands her. Sure she might be a ditz and
she might be a bit flaky, but dammit if she isn’t home every night to feed Fido
or Whiskers and to lament her miserable life!

There’s a reason you see this in books and
that’s because when it’s done well, it works. Here are some very successful
examples that may spring to mind:

Janet Evanovich uses it in a lot of her traditional
romances, and in the Stephanie Plum series it seems Rex the Hamster is almost
the only thing Stephanie can keep track of (how one hamster has survived so
many explosions in one apartment with just a cage to protect him is quite the
mystery, but Stephanie needs Rex and so he has bravely powered on through
nineteen books so far!
Don’t let my cynicism throw you off, I’ve read all nineteen
of those books!).

A great example of this done well in the
chick lit genre is Must
Love dogs
by Claire Cook. I loved this book back in the day because at that
time it was a fresh angle….eight years later, hmm I’m not sure.

Meg Cabot did it in The Princess Diaries
(cat) and in The Boy
Next Door
(dog). If you can add pet-sitting into the story line you get
double points. Well, not that there are points but you get the dog as the
confidant and the fish out of water scenario as well. 
(In my first novel Mr Right and Other
Mongrels the main character has the opposite issue – a crippling dog phobia –
not much sitting around talking to the dogs in that one).

So what is my point you ask? People do have
pets and they do talk to them. People really will race home to feed their cat
rather than have a night of crazy sex
with a new love interest – either because
the cat really does need to eat or because it’s a nice way out when you’re
scared you like him too much or you don’t like him enough –  but either way it does happen. People do walk
their dogs and meet new friends at the dog park, absolutely. It’s real life and
that makes it realistic, sure.

I guess my point is that done well it is
just fine to have animals as confidants in books but done badly it’s just
another cliché. It’s another “here we go” moment for a reader and neither the
author nor the reader wants that.

That’s why I say “Step Away from the Cat”
unless he brings some unique energy or purpose that will have the readers
caring about that animal, not just as a literary device, but as a real life
character that they too would give up a wonderful romantic evening for.

Mr Right and Other Mongrels

Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough? 

When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!

Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.

Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much?

Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.

About author Monique McDonell is an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. She lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with husband and daughter, and despite her dog phobia, a dog called Skip.

At University she studied Creative Writing as part of of her Communication degree. Afterwards, she was busy working in public relations and didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although she wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters – and still does in her day-job.

When she began to write again she noticed that writing dark unhappy stories made her unhappy, so she made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending, and has been writing happy stories ever since. 

It’s not all about shoes, handbags and glitz, you know!

Crazy fun from us to you

For the whole of September WWBB has been taken over by authors of chick lit. They’ve been invited to blog about anything, and I assure you it isn’t going to be all about girlie stuff… well, that’s to be seen, but nevertheless it’s going to be fun.

It’s going to be a crazy, crazy month and I hope you’ll join them, and me, for what’s sure to be a fun event.

Order of appearance (so far): 

Introduction to the madness
Juliet Madison’s blog hop
Lara Barnard
Zanna Machenzie
Monique Mcdonell
Marylu Zuk
Nicky Wells
Amy Baker
Patsy Collins
Janet Eve Josselyn
Deb Nam-Krane
Lizzie Lamb
More authors to come end of the month

And to give it a kick start A Proper Charlie is on sale (only on eReaders) all through September. It’s pink, flirty and fun.

A Proper Charlie
only 77p or 99c for the rest of September.

A British contemporary romance novel…
jolly good fun!

What happens when prostitutes go missing, and Charlie’s shy boss, Ben Middleton, is a suspect? 

What happens when Charlie pretends to be a hooker for the newspaper story she’s working on, and is “picked up” by Ben? 

What happens when she is abducted and only the handsome Ben knows where she is? 

Poor Charlie, she only wanted recognition. She really should’ve stayed home. 
Buy A Proper Charlie in ANY eFormat for 77p/99p

(paperback isn’t included in the discount)

Chick Lit Authors Confess!

  •  Confessions, confessing, confess . . .

    When I’m alone in the kitchen, I sometimes pretend that I have my own cooking show on the Food Network and I speak to my “audience” in a fake British accent as I go through a recipe. That’s not weird… right? – Cat Lavoie

  • Amazon.UK

     I got a cat recently. Most of the time, while I write, she’s sitting on my chest with her cat behind facing me. It’s lovely. (Not really.) About three weeks ago, while I was working on my second novel, her tiny little paw inadvertently highlighted a bunch of text and deleted it. I laughed, knowing I’d be able to undo the delete.

    The next day, I reviewed what I wrote, with my cat on my chest again. When I got to the part she’d deleted, I told her it was the part she didn’t like and I am not kidding, she deleted the section again! I decided there was a reason that part shouldn’t be in the book and rewrote the entire scene. I thought it was much better, too! – Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

    Hubby and I were going to a black-tie event, which involved sitting at the ‘top’ table with his boss and wife. He wanted to make a good impression, but on the way the car broke down. He mended it, but forgot about his tie, and when he was bending over the engine it became covered with oil. 

    We had left early to make sure we weren’t late, but would be very late if he went back to change. So in the car I took off my patterned black tights and secured them around his neck so they looked like a tie. I’m just glad I shaved my legs! – Louise Wise

    My novel Tear Stained Beaches is a fictional story. However, Chase, the main male lead is based on a person I know from real life. Originally, when I wrote the story I wrote him more true to his real persona, and as I wasn’t too happy with him, he came across a little more arrogant, disrespectful and just not so nice.

    Once I stepped back, I realized that I needed to tone it down a notch. So I began to rewrite his actions and settle his personality a bit to create that character I really wanted. It’s not always true what they say ‘write what you know’, in my case it was ‘write cautiously what you know’! – Courtney Giardina
    I must confess that when I was 11, in the 6th
    grade I had a HUGE crush on a Franciscan priest who regularly came to my
    all-girl’s Catholic school to hear confession. 

    It was the 1970’s so confession
    consisted of sitting in a room across from this lovely, kind man telling him
    your sins – no old school confessional for us. So how could you get more time
    with such a man? Obviously you lie and make up sins! 

    All the other girls in my class were jealous of my ‘extra time’ with
    him. It was hard to think of sins back then and his penance was appropriately
    seventies…help your mum with the washing up, be kind to your sister. I’d
    already lied in confession. I was burning in hell, no penance would cover it,
    not of course that he knew that! – Monique McDonell
    I wrote a novel about life in an upscale suburb of
    Boston (Dover, MA, where I actually live) and the title is THIN RICH BITCHES.
     Apparently some people in Dover think they know who the characters are
    based on, although I have never revealed that in any interviews, and never
    will. While it is a work of fiction, I confess that almost all of the
    characters in the book are based on people I rub elbows with every day in town,
    at school and at social and athletic events. – Janet Josselyn

    Meet the chick lit writers on Twitter see their books on Book Junkies’ chick lit section