Previous Next

A New Website

Welcome to my new and (hopefully!) improved website!

The old site was a bit dated and had a few other issues, so as we were ditching Yahoo! (more on this a little later) as our hosting service it seemed like a good time to give the site a face lift.

The menu at the top of each page will let you easily navigate around the site. Simply use the pull-downs to get around.

Some old links in Twitter posts and emails may now be broken, but the full URL of http://www.melodeeaaron.com will always get you to the site. You can use the menus or even do a search of the site from there.

Not everything is done as of this writing…there are more Free Reads to be added (though there are 3 full novels there now) as well as a few other little things. It will also likely be next week before I get back to posting the THWT questions (on Tuesdays) and my Rules for Authors (on Fridays), so please be patient.

Also please note that even if you had an account on my old site, you will need to create a new account in order to post comments to my blog. Once you have created an account, you will be able to post comments, however, your first comment will be held for moderation. Once approved, you will be able to enter comments that will go live immediately.

To create your account, select USERS and then REGISTER from the menu. Other tabs under USERS can be used to manage your account.

Now, I promised you a little more about the split with Yahoo!

In a nutshell, Yahoo! is no longer a very good value. They charge more than twice as much for web hosting than most other providers, their software is typically 3-4 versions out of date (and so a HUGE security risk), and their customer service is all but non-existent. After careful review (we had been with Yahoo! for more than a decade) the decision was made to pull all of the nearly 5,000 web sites we had on Yahoo! hosts and move to a different provider. We will also be pulling almost 10,000 paid email accounts from Yahoo! as well. You might want to sell that stock now.

Sadly, this is a purely business decision based on costs, risks, and other such mundane factors. No matter what, it’s hard to just walk away from a relationship spanning that many years.

And in case you’re wondering, we are now using three different hosts for the varied websites. This particular site is being hosted by siteground.com and we are, so far, very pleased with the service and support.

So, there you have it!

Please check back often as the site is finalized. You may need to refresh your browser (CTRL+F5 on most systems) to get the latest version.

Keep Loving!

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Fourteen

Number Fourteen

Publishers Do Not Care If You Succeed


This is a sad fact of the publishing industry. What the publishers care about—and the ONLY thing they care about—is if your latest release succeeds.

There are a few publishers who worry about your backlist sales success (see Rule Number Seven) because backlist sales can make up a third of their income.

None of them care about what a book three years from now will do.

And they certainly don’t care about the author as an individual succeeding.

And they really shouldn’t. The publishers are not in the business of making the authors rich…they are in the business of making themselves rich. In short, as far as the publishers are concerned, you are only as good as your last book.

And in case you’re wondering, agents have the same position. See Rule Number Fifteen. Publishers and agents are only interested in your current work, nothing more than that.

What this means is that the author must look out for themselves.

Or have a representative who will. See Rule Number Five.

No, I am not cracking on publishers here…just pointing out the real world of the publishing business for those who have not seen it yet. Publishers are in business to make money, and they do that by selling books, not by coddling authors. That is not their job.

Authors have to keep their eyes and mind open. This is a must because, like it or not, authors are in business, too. Again, don’t give me that story how you write for the joy of writing or how you want to change the world. When asked how he felt about the fact that his stories changed people’s lives, Hemingway said, “Let the poets, the wordy bastards, change the world. Me, I write for the booze.”

So, keep an eye on the market. It’s one thing to have a sense of loyalty to a publisher, but don’t let that get in the way of your growth…if another publisher offers a better deal, jump ship. I can promise you that if you write more than one bomb in a row, the publisher will drop you like a hot potato.

And remember that something many people see as odd happens on a regular basis in this industry…a book with one publisher will make, say, $20,000 in the first year. Place that same book with a new publisher for year two, and it might make $200,000 over the next twelve months. This is not odd…it’s all about demographics.


Keep Loving!

THWT Question for 12 FEB 2019

The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:


How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?


Keep Loving!

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirteen

Number Thirteen

Your Great New Title Is Already Taken


Titles are a problem for all authors. You want a title that will say something about the story and catch the potential buyer’s attention. Sometimes, that’s hard to do and most of us struggle as much with the title as we do with the story itself.

But it seems that when you come up with a great title, someone else has already used it. Usually a fast search on Google will confirm this for you.

But on the other hand, so what?

Titles can’t be copyrighted. You can use any title you want, and no one can legally do anything about it. Obviously, you really don’t want to use something that was used before recently. Having two relatively new books on the shelf with the same title could confuse the readers. By and large, the readers are already confused, so I try to avoid that.

But what if I wanted to use the title of, let’s say, “The Old Man and the Sea” for my new book? Odds are, no matter the bookstore, me and Hemingway are not going to be in the same place in the store. Papa’s books will be in the Classics section. Mine will be in the Romance section…maybe in the Smut section. There is little chance of confusion here.

But the rule is to check out the title. Has it been used before? If so, when? In what genre?

Finding that your first choice is taken might be a blessing in disguise. That forces you to brainstorm on a new title, and you may come up with something even better.

Don’t get discouraged…make it happen!

Often your agent or representative will make title suggestions. This a good thing since they will have a marketing point of view that may help sales.


Keep Loving!

THWT Question for 05 FEB 2019

Here’s the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today…


Do you see any of your characters becoming popular among cosplayers? If so, which one(s) and why?


Keep Loving!

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Twelve

Number Twelve

As Soon As A Book Is Released, You Will Find 100+ Editing Errors


Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

O’Toole’s Corollary: Murphy was an optimist.

Yes, Murphy is alive and well. He works in the publishing business.

Just a couple of my own experiences in this area…

I once released a (very) hard science fiction novel through one of the major print houses. It had been through not only the normal editing process that all authors are familiar with, but also through extensive editing and peer review by real professional scientists due to the extreme technical content. This included physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, and other more esoteric disciplines of science as well as the peer review team at a well known physics journal. Finally, release day came. That was on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, I had more than 1,000 emails from readers that one of the planets in the story was turning backwards or that it was in an impossible orbit. Guess what? The readers were right. Me and all of the scientists had simply missed the fact that there was an error in the math, and that let the planet have an impossible orbit. Oops. We fixed that in the second edition.

I wrote a semi-historical novel once that was set in the 1490s, and I used a word that wasn’t in common usage until the late 1880s. Yeah, the editors and I both missed that one, but the readers didn’t. Oh…we never fixed that one, just added a disclaimer to the second edition in the forward that the story was not a historical work.

And this ignores the normal spelling and grammatical errors that have fallen through the cracks. At a guess, I would suspect the number is somewhere in excess of a million over the last 30 years.

This kind of stuff happens. Don’t worry about it. Readers do—by and large—understand that we and the editors are human. They will laugh it up for a while, maybe poke some fun at you, and then finish the book anyway.

There are two genres where you can really piss off the readers when you make mistakes, though…real, serious historical and hard science fiction. The readers in these genres are absolute fanatics about attention to detail. And they will shred you if you mess it up.

For the most part, this is all petty stuff.

And remember, don’t sweat the petty stuff.

Oh, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.


Keep Loving!

THWT Question for 29 JAN 2019

Here’s the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today…


Have you written a book (or story) you love that you have not been able to publish for some reason?


Keep Loving!

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Eleven

Number Eleven

Most Promo Companies Only Promote Themselves


This is not aimed at all promotional companies…just most of them. It is also not aimed at any particular company or companies…just general observations and comments.


What is it that most of the promotional companies do? In a nutshell, they send out notices about your book…most of them just shotgun a message about your book to the many Yahoo (and Google) groups on a periodic basis. A few will post to the several social media systems like FaceBook and Twitter. The exact details vary, but not by much. This is basically all the services do, and they only do that for one particular book at a time from a client. Some offer package deals that cover several books.

There are a number of problems with this…

First of all, they do nothing that you, the author, can’t do. And you, the author, can do it better. We’ll be coming back to this.

Second, they focus only on one book. See Rule Number Seven. There is a ton of money just sitting there on your backlist.

And thirdly, all of the promo companies work on a fee-based system.

Now that we have the three main problems identified, let’s talk about them. Because the problems are all interrelated, I’m going to just move forward. As we go, you will see the problems crop up and how we can better deal with them.

I know you’ve seen the messages on Yahoo groups from the promo services. They are always from something like, “Billy Bob Promotions”. Yeah, everyone else sees that, too. The subject may be something like, “Read Mary’s New Book!” A brief survey of the members of two of the largest Romance/Erotica Romance Yahoo groups found that just over 85% of the readers have either email filters set up to move messages from the promo companies directly to the trash bin or they just delete these messages without reading them. In other words, of the people you want to see these messages, only about 15% of them even bother. The same thing applies on the social media networks…most readers don’t even bother to read the posts, let alone follow any links in them.

The real problem here is that the readers see the posts from the promo company as spam. I can understand that, because it is indeed spam. So, how do we get the readers to actually read the posts? Simple…the posts should come from the author of the book.

There are two ways to make this happen…

First, the author can send out the posts. Most all email programs will allow you to send an email at a later date and time you select, either built in or as an add-on helper application. The same thing applies for the social media networks…TweetDeck, HootSuite, and others allow you to schedule posts. The author picks a day and sets aside time on that day to write and schedule posts as appropriate. When the posts are sent, they are coming from the author, and readers tend to actually read those kinds of posts.

The other option is—in my opinion—better…the promo services should be posting as the author. This of course means that the promo company needs access to the author’s email and social media accounts. This entails a good deal of trust and some sort of assurance from the promotional service that the access will not be abused. This way of doing things lets the author focus on writing while the promo company does the promotion, just as things should be.

Next, the promo services should promote the author, not just one book. This is very similar to the idea of agents versus representatives as discussed in Rule Number Five. Just as you need a representative who will represent you as a whole, you need a promotional service who will promote you as a whole. Single title representation or promotion is a waste of time and money. By promoting the author, you make sales on the current title as well as on the backlist.

And now we come to the money shot…all of the promo companies work on a fee-based system. That is to say, you pay $x and they promote your book for a certain amount of time. The promo company has no skin in the game under this program and fee schedule. They get paid no matter what happens.

In the real world, advertising agencies are paid a combination of a flat fee plus a commission on sales. Why not in the world of publishing? Well, to be fair, that is the way it works in the print world, but the author is more or less out of that loop…the publishers will hire an advertising firm to do a campaign, and that deal will include a cut of sales to the ad agency. It doesn’t work that way in the E-Book arena, though. Why not?

Without a performance-based pay scale, the promotional company has no vested interest in making the ad campaign work. They are simply accountable to do the number of posts to the places they say they will make them to, and nothing more. There is no method in place to make sure that the campaign will actually work. This leads to cookie-cutter campaigns where they all look alike with only the names changed. There is no innovation or encouragement to make the campaign better.

What would fix this is a commission schedule. The promo company gets a flat fee for the up-front work of preparing the campaign, and then they get a percentage of the sales made during the campaign. This puts some of their skin in the game, and their income is now based on their performance.

Next, we need to talk about the difference between e-publishers and print publishers. Very few epubs do any promotion at all beyond generic advertising featuring all of their releases in a given time frame. A few go beyond that and will post group or social media messages for specific books, but not too many do that. On the other hand, print publishers often take out full-page ads in magazines and major newspapers to promote single titles. In general, epubs do almost no promotion while the print houses might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. (There are some exceptions…a few of the larger epubs are starting to take out some ads.)

Lastly, let’s tie this all back to Rule Number Five…

The real representatives out there provide not only the normal services of traditional agents, and the editing services to get a manuscript ready to pitch to a publisher, but they also provide promotional services. Some of these representatives offer this as part of their standard package and others offer it as an add-on at additional percentage points, but almost all do offer it.

Most of these representatives do this promotion acting as the author…that is they post from the author’s email and from the author’s social media accounts. They know that readers pay far more attention to the author “talking” than to some promotional company spamming. Also, since most of the representatives are working on a percentage of royalty commission, the better the ad campaign is, the more money they make. In other words, they have skin in the game.

With all of the above said, there is no doubt that most authors need someone to help them with promotion. An author’s time is better spent writing their books rather than running amok posting messages and updates to promote their books.

The thing is, where do you get the most bang for the buck?

Look at the promotional companies carefully and assess what they can do for you and if their services are actually going to help you.


Keep Loving!

THWT Question for 22 JAN 2019

The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:


How do you pick excerpts used to promote your books?


Keep Loving!

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Ten

Number Ten

Generally Speaking, Writing Experts Aren’t


I want you to think about something totally unrelated to writing for a minute…

How many people are there professing they are “experts” in social media or search engine optimization (SEO) or various other subjects related to online marketing? Millions? More?

Why are there so many? Because there is a created market for them with the explosive growth in social media and search engine use.

Now, back to writing…

How many people are there out on the Internet claiming to be “experts” at teaching you how to write? Hundreds of thousands? More?

Why are there so many? Because there is a created market for them due to the explosive growth of self-publication from Amazon and other places.

Yeah…everyone thinks they are an author. Many (but by no means all) are just bad writers who self-publish because a real publisher won’t touch them with a ten-foot pole.

Most of the so-called writing experts are failed writers. Not only were they unable to get published, they couldn’t make a living being self-published. They are hacks at best and con-artists at worst.

Think about it…

If they know so much about writing and are so good at it and they can make so much money writing, why aren’t they writing?

Yeah…

You know the answer.


Keep Loving!

THWT Question for 15 JAN 2019

Here is the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for 15 JAN 2019:


What is your favorite writing format and why: Jumbo Novel (over 120,000 words); Long Novel (over 80,000 words); Novel (over 40,000 words); Novella (17,500 – 39,999 words); Novelette (7,500 – 17,499 words); Short Story (1000 – 7,499 words); Flash (less than 1,000 words)?


Keep Loving!