Staying Viable in a Volatile Market

Today we welcome bestselling author Jennifer St. Giles to the lair. Jennifer’s many awards include the Golden Heart, the Maggie, the Daphne, and the National Reader’s Choice Award. She has written different sub-genres and will share her tips for adapting to a changing publishing climate. She’ll also give us a peek at her Shadowmen series, hot paranormals from Pocket. I just finished Kiss of Darkness, and it not only has a different twist on vampires and werewolves but is smokin’! Welcome, Jennifer!
We all know that traditional publishing is feeling the bite of not only the economic downturn, but also the explosion of the e-book market. The options authors now have of getting their books before readers and even in print without going through the New York Publisher meat grinder is ever developing. Print on demand choices and worldwide distribution though mega sites like Amazon.com have revolutionized the publishing industry. All of these factors have both positive and negative affects upon today’s author.

The bad news first. Unfortunately, the unvarnished, ugly truth in publishing today is that an author is a lonely ship being tossed to and fro upon a turbulent sea with no control over their career no matter how much hard work and talent is put forth. Whether you sink, tread water, or sail gloriously to the top of the world all depends on a magical combination of market demand, capturing the elusive word-of-mouth phenomena, publisher support, and luck.

You ask what possible good news can there be after such a harsh reality? What can an author do amid such turbulence?

First realize that publishing is a business that must make a profit. It is not an art appreciation charity. As an author you are producing a product for the publishing business to sell. The publisher will buy what they think will sell. They will market it in a way that they think will best sell that product. If for whatever reason, your product does not sell according to their needs then they have to discontinue that product. Publishing and the decisions made are not personal, so don’t take it that way. You begin to take charge of your career when you begin to think like a business person that has a product to market.

Now the Good Part!

If a manuscript has been rejected by traditional publishers then take that book to a reputable e-publisher and see if they will take a chance on it or seriously consider print on demand self-publishing.

Next, if you are one of the lucky ones who land a traditional publishing house then do everything possible via the internet to support your book and develop a fan base. Prior to your book’s release, write a short, sexy prequel to your story as a free download from your website. Or write a sexy novella about a secondary character in your book and sell it to an e-book publisher. Even if you give this away free on your website, this will draw more readers to the release of your book and have them eager to buy it as soon as it comes out.

Don’t let a book rest on its review laurels. Get excerpts out to as many blogs as possible. Be creative in introducing your characters to readers. (I did this by interviewing my Shadowmen heroes as a reporter that works for Cosmos Paranormal Quarterly.)

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Publish in multiple genres and mediums (print/ ebook). Even if you cannot contractually write for another house under your published name then do so under a pseudonym.

Make use of every inexpensive marketing tool available. Use Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but do so in a way that has readers coming to you as opposed to you trying to thrust your book in front of their face. Offer something unique for free on your website and invite others to come make use of it. Interactive websites are a great thing as well.

Be innovative in regards to the market. One thing I have done that I dearly hope turns out well is publish romance’s first graphic e-book. Wild Irish and Smooth Irish written under the name Jennifer Saints are for sale at www.betweenyoursheets.com. These books full length novels are light, spicy romances that contain 50 to 70 pictures of the cover models in different scenes throughout the book.

Well, here you have it. A short run down on some of the things an author can to do stay viable in the crazy world of publishing. I hope that you found some tidbit of advice that will spark you to think creatively about your career and to make strides that will help guide your boat through the stormy seas.

There are four books in Jennifer’s Shadowmen Series to sizzle up our reading time, Touch a Dark Wolf, Lure of the Wolf, Kiss of the Darkness, and Bride of the Wolf. To see how hunky a warrior from the spirit world can be, check out this taste of Sam and Emerald from Kiss of Darkness:

Something was wrong in Twilight.

Sam had the limo’s license plate imprinted in his brain, which meant he could track down the bastards without having to chase them down. Good thing. He’d probably be as lethal behind a wheel as he was with the gun at the moment.

Dozens of questions about what Emerald had just done and what had just happened screamed through his mind, but he didn’t trust himself to speak to her, yet. Not until he had a firm handle on his temper, which meant the FBI–or Myra if she was lying–would get the brunt of his rage. Nice.

“Sam,” Emerald said. “I’m sorry. I didna mean to—”

“Later, Em. I can’t think yet,” he told her, still gulping in deep breaths of air.

“Come on,” she said softly, taking his hand. She led him up the steps of the station and into the shadowed recesses of the entrance. For once she kept quiet, as if she really understood how tenuous his hold was. Even the tinkling of her bracelets grated on him.

What had happened to him?

He tugged her back before she could open the door, intending to take a moment more to gather his cool. But when he looked at her, she had that lip thing going again and all thought and reason abandoned him. Seeing her teeth sunk into her lush bottom lip that was now all moist and wet snapped something inside him. All of the desire he’d kept a tight lid on for months meshed with all of the emotion roiling in him and he lost it.

Taking hold of her shoulders, he leaned down and kissed her, sliding his tongue swiftly over her plump lip then sucking the sweetness of it into his mouth. Her heady lavender and spice scent mingled with womanly arousal filled his lungs and set his senses on fire.

Blood roared in his ears, rushing south to his swelling erection. He could smell, taste, and feel her on a level he’d never experience before in his life. It was all consuming. Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her hard against his burning need. She gasped in response and his tongue invaded deep, sweeping the softness of her mouth and tangling with her tongue.

She moaned, angling her neck back to take more of him and he stepped between her legs, riding his thigh to the V of her hot sex. Her breasts brushed his chest and he had to touch her, had to feel their ripe fullness. Taste her. Suck her. Eat her. Thrust into her until nothing but mindless pleasure ruled them both.

“Sam, please” she said, splaying her hand against his chest, breathing as heavily as he was.

That was all he needed to hear. She wanted him as desperately as he wanted her. He’d known it forever. So why in the hell hadn’t they banged it up big time, yet? He couldn’t seem to remember why and wasn’t the least bit interested in thinking right now. He backed her to the wall and shoved his hand up her soft shirt to even softer skin and cupped her lace covered breast. Her nipple hardened and he groaned deep, shoving his arousal hard against her.

Emerald pulled back then suddenly smacked her fist into his chest.

He blinked at her, trying to see through his desire hazed vision. “Em?”

“I said please stop, you gack. Not please more.” She pushed at him again and he loosened his hold, surprised to find his hand palming her breast. Reluctantly, he slid his hand from her shirt and eased back from her, finally seeing clearly enough to realize they weren’t even in private.

Considering one could practically spit from one side of the town to the other, life in Twilight was like trying to lose oneself in a fishbowl. Anybody looking from the street or the parking lot would have seen them at least kissing, if not the full details of the kiss. And anyone exiting the sheriff’s station would have gotten an eyeful. Damn where in the hell was his mind?

“I canna believe you kissed me like that. After all this fooking time you up and kiss me now?” She glared at him, chest heaving with ire.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I shouldn’t have—”

“Yes, you bloody well should have. But you should have kissed me months ago when it would have been you kissing me.”

A final note from Jennifer: I would love to hear from you either about your thoughts on staying viable in today’s market, or about my Shadowmen Series. You can reach me either through my website or email me at jenniferstgiles@yahoo.com.

Huge thanks for letting me share with you today.

What’re your favorite story elements? If you could buy a book that combined a mix mystery, romance, paranormal elements, contemporary lifestyles, futuristic worlds, historical time periods, and/or different cultural traditions in any combination you choose, what would it be?

Jennifer is giving away a book to one of today’s commenters!

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