Thursday, April 24, 2014

Primal Instinct: Gone But Not Forgotten - Things I Learned

My mom called me, quite sad, a couple of days ago. She had gone to Walmart to purchase a copy of my book for one of her friends, but it wasn't there. Thinking they had just sold out, she headed to another store where they were in the process of packing up any of the remaining April Harlequin Intrigues and putting out the May books.

My mom, of course, threw herself on top of the books in protest. But she couldn't stop the inevitable.

That's right, Primal Instinct, my first novel, is gone forever from the shelves.  Such is the nature of category romances: they're only around for a month. It's sad, because I can't go visit my book at the bookstore six months from now just to see it. (Although it will always be available on Amazon)

But the fact that six more new Intrigues just hit the shelves is the reason I'm a published author in the first place. Category romances are short and inexpensive. Many readers still buy all six every month straight from Harlequin as subscribers. Publishing 72 books a year (and that's just in the Intrigue line) means a lot more new authors get a chance to publish.

Some of the most famous names in romance got their start in categories: Nora Robers, Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Suzanne Brockmann. Maybe someday someone will include my name in a similar list.

But now that it's gone, I just wanted to point out some discoveries I made in the last month as my book came out. These are in no particular order or of any particular relevance. Just my observations.

1. Primal Instinct is also the name of an Australian tanning lotion. Evidently I searched Primal Instinct enough that the interwebs decided I was desperately searching for tanning lotions because they showed up in every ad space for a while.

2. If you ask for reviewers on Goodreads (where all the reading people hang out) as I did, and mail them a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review, only about 20% will actually leave a review. The rest will sell your book on Amazon or Ebay.

3. It was exciting to see how Primal Instinct looked all over the world.

It was part of a Mother's Day "box set" in Australia:

It was available in India, and didn't even have my cover:

And for the U.K. Mills & Boon release, they used just a picture of hunky Agent Perigo:

4. The Atlanta, Tampa and Indianapolis areas were the places where the largest numbers of my book sold.

At this point (almost exactly one month after Primal Instinct's release), I know I have sold over 9,000 copies (not including books sold at non-tradition bookstores such as Walmart, etc). But I don't get too excited about that considering I make less than $.50 per copy. As soon as I have more solid numbers, I will be sure to do a post entitled "How Selling A Romance Novel Will NOT Make You a Millionaire..."

5. I gave the Virginia Beach public library two copies of my book so they could put them in circulation. But they refused because they don't keep category romances on the shelves. Even for local authors. <sad face> Even when I showed them the Romantic Times Top Pick review! <super sad face>

6. Now that you're a published author, a lot of friends will want your advice or input on their writing or want to know if you've got any sort of "in" for them with any editor or agent (which, unless you write category romantic suspense, I don't). Because you care about these people you don't want to say "I don't really know anything about the non-fiction/angels vs. demons/biography/Christian/superhero/etc." markets. So you read their stuff, provide advice and hope you're steering them in the right direction. But you're probably not and one day they'll hate you for it.

Good times.

Oh, and that look on the PTA president's face when she realizes the newsletter, now written by the published author, is still just a crappy ol' newsletter? Priceless. (I tried to fit a couple of FBI agents and a serial killer in there, but alas...)

6. Last, but most importantly, I learned that I have crazy supportive friends and family. They stepped up and sent me the greatest pictures from all over the country!

No matter how many copies of Primal Instinct sold, whether it exceeded Harlequin's expectations or not (I don't know the answer to that. I wish I did), I consider the release of this first novel a success. I'll never have another first and it will always be special to me. (Plus, I got some good news about doing the follow-ups to Primal Instinct recently, so hopefully I'll have an official announcement about that soon.)

But now, I've got to get back to writing the four other books for which I've been contracted. Because this release process happens all over again for my next book beginning in December 2014!


  1. So I shouldn't ask you to read my unicorn/vampire/steampunk wip? :-) Just kidding! Congrats again on your new release. Can't wait for your next one!!

    Stephanie St.Clair

    1. Unicorn/vampire/steampunk is right up my alley, Stephanie! No problem. :)

  2. I've seen few of the tanning lotion adds myself lately! :)
    But the part of Goodreads was a surprise... Maybe some book bloggers 'tours' would be an idea for the next round.
    I'm really happy for you with the success of your first publication!!
    Looking forward to December, too!

    1. Thank you A-R. You are always the biggest source of support for me.