How Scammers are Ripping Off Authors Now More Than Ever – And Why You May Fall Victim

“The only constant in business and marketing is everything is constantly changing.”

These were the words my professors told our class in both my intro to business and intro to marketing classes in college. I have found no truer words in all the classes I took while studying for my business management degree. If someone out there insists that they know how something in business works every. Single. TIME, without fail, I have one word for you – run.

Anyone who has spent more than two minutes in any type of business, but especially in the publishing industry, knows the one thing which never changes is nothing ever stays the same. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan that will work 100% of the time for 100% of the authors for 100% of all fiction books, without fail. Anyone trying to tell you different doesn’t know as much about business as the average college student still sitting in Intro to Business/Marketing 101. Veteran authors know you have to go back to the drawing board every single time, every single book, every single launch. Just like we have to have our fingers on the pulse of the next hot new trope, we also must be able to roll with the latest marketing strategies that get results.

Not sure if someone is trying to sell you snake oil or if they really know what they are talking about? Take a look at how they are actually making their money. Does the bulk of their income come from selling courses and other services that target authors, or are they making their money off doing the thing they are teaching? If you are not sure, then ask yourself these two simple questions.

Question 1: If this course worked so well, and they were able to truly turn anyone into a bestselling author making thousands of dollars every month, then why would they want to share that secret? Why wouldn’t they just do this wonderful business strategy they are peddling to produce their own bestselling books and make thousands of dollars like they claim they can do for other authors?

Question 2: Why would they also then create more competition for themselves in the publishing industry by helping other authors hit bestseller status?

The long and short of it is – it simply doesn’t make economic sense to sell an earth-shattering money-making secret and simultaneously create even more competition for yourself in the market, unless the way they are making their money isn’t by using their own advice, but selling said advice to other authors while promising them the moon (and a six figure income to boot).

This brings me to an important case study I came across when I began researching the best ways to market an indie book. Everyone knows what a “success story” 50 Shades was (and still is, considering we recently got the same book from a different POV which also sold millions of copies). However, what most people don’t know (and what EL James has tried to scrub from the internet but hey, screenshots are forever) is James used a combination of gorilla marketing and a huge pot of her own money to basically buy her way into bestseller status. Let’s take a look at the backstory.

Some people may not be aware, but before James became a world renowned author, she was relatively famous in her own circle of readers on a Twilight fanfic site. That’s right, 50 Shades started out as fanfic. But you probably already knew this. The book was initially called Master of His Universe and after prompting from readers, James self-published the book. She coerced her former fanfic fan base into nominating and then voting for the book in one of Good Reads’ many lists and contests that used to frequent the site where it ranked very well. The book would later be picked up and published by an Australian press before Vintage Books (now owned by Random House) offered her a contract. (there is a lot of interesting details to this story and I highly recommend doing some in-depths search if you can still find anything from the old archives. You’ll want to look for articles written between 2010 and 2013, anything written in the past 3 to 5 years mentions little to nothing about the origins of how all this really came about) According to one case study I came across, James spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K of her own money on marketing and promoting the book. If rumor serves, I believe the deals for the first movie was also signed, or at least in the works, when she was signed on with VB.

Now, James will vehemently deny spending this much money. In her own words, “I didn’t even have $100K!” But as I said, the internet is forever, and try as she did to scrub this sordid backstory from the catacombs of the past, those of us who were lucky enough to see the articles and the original posts, etc. know the real story. Fanfic and bitchy attitudes aside, there is still a correlation between this story and what it has to do with selling and buying marketing courses in the publishing industry. As far as that goes, there is a direct correlation between this story and what it takes to actually make money as an indie author. That in itself is no big secret – you have to have money, and lots of it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In a nutshell, if you toss enough money at it, you can literally make any book into a bestseller. And while I used 50 Shades as an example, there are other books out there where authors have tossed even more of their own money into marketing their books in order to crack bestseller status. I came across one romance author who admitted to sinking $1K a day into Amazon ads just to keep her books ranked in the top 10K overall on Amazon. It’s the age-old adage where if you throw enough shit at the wall, something will eventually stick. To be blunt, publishing has turned into a pay-to-play industry where only authors who have a hefty marketing budget are able to gain any real traction. And this is a tiny little tidbit which many marketing gurus and those peddling author courses that promise to turn you into a $100K/year earning author conveniently leave out of their own marketing pitches.

I’m sure there are marketing coaches out there reading this shaking their heads muttering, “But I show authors exactly what to do and exactly how to word their ad campaigns and exactly where to marketing/promote, and the exact set of keywords they need to use on the Amazon ads to make them effect. If they follow my directions and do what I tell them then they are guaranteed to make big money!”

And what happens when the book doesn’t make the author lots of money? What is the excuse then? Will the coaches then claim it’s because the book didn’t get a proper edit or have a good enough cover or wasn’t a very well written novel? I’m sure they can sell you all those services. And do they even bother to tell authors their books aren’t up to par? What if they don’t? Then who is at fault when authors shell out thousands of dollars on these courses only to find out they didn’t have a marketable product to begin with? Where does the money pit end?

Let’s look at the flipside of that argument. What if their book has everything going for it? What if it has a killer cover, edited within an inch of its life, perfectly formatted, and written to market yet it still fails to become a bestseller? The author does everything to the letter but the book still fails to perform. Who is at fault then? Is it because the author didn’t have the money to spend on marketing (something which isn’t their fault and definitely should have been disclosed prior to signing up for any of these courses), or is it because the one-size-fits-all marketing plan just flat doesn’t work? Either way, it disproves every sales pitch used in order to get authors to sign up for their courses. You can’t very well claim that it’s just the course/advise/service that is earning an author $100K/year if they also have to sink $100K/year into various marketing avenues. When it comes down to it, any book with that kind of marketing dollars behind it will have a fairly decent ROI, as 50 Shades has proven time and again.

Do you see where this is going? There simply isn’t any way anyone can claim to make any author into a bestseller making thousands of dollars a month, no matter how “fool proof” the courses are. When the books fail to thrive, and there are many which will, it begs of the question of where the fault lies.

Thus there are two very important lessons to learn which lies at the heart of marketing courses – the first being how much time and money will ultimately be required for an author to find something that truly works for them (throw enough shit at the wall to see what sticks) through trial and error, even when following step-by-step instructions on what to do. (I wrote another article on this very thing – the three “missing ingredients” or “secret sauce” these courses do not tell you about) And second – when the book fails to thrive, where does the blame fall? Even when the book is up to par, and an author follows everything to the letter, where does the fault lie? Is there a money-back guarantee? .

This brings me to a few important questions to ask prior to signing up for any course.

1.      Is there a money-back guarantee? If the book fails to perform, regardless of the reasons, is there a money-back guarantee offered? If not, or if they offer other of their services instead of a monetary refund, then you may want to seriously rethink their offer.

2.      How much money will you need to spend on marketing and promotions after you have completed their courses and/or services? If they have a very specific marketing plan in place, then they should know how much money their plan will require to at least get it started. If they can’t give you an answer on how much money you will ultimately have to shell out to make their plan/course/services work (it just depends on your book and the genre and the keywords you use, but if you follow my instructions you’ll start seeing a ROI in no time!), then you may want to give pause.

Trial-and-Error should not be a part of their sales pitch – they should be giving you hard data that clearly shows how much money their average author is spending on marketing when using their courses/services, how many sales that marketing strategy is generating, and how much net profit the author is seeing. Claims like creating thousands of authors making six-figures or that they have thousands of happy authors or pointing you to a bunch of reviews of their services should not ever be offered up instead of hard data. If the claims can’t be backed up by hard numbers, then you may want to pass it on by. And never, ever, let the company harass you, guilt you, or threaten you. Above all else, do your due diligence and research the person/company across the internet, including keywords such as “scam” and “scandal” with their names.

It should go without saying any company wanting to bully, harass, or threaten you or your career, who otherwise act in an unprofessional manner online, even in private groups, should not warrant your money or time. If you even suspect the company of doing this, even in the past, it should be an automatic hard pass no matter how many raving reviews from authors. It’s not worth your hard-built career chasing after rainbows which may end up getting your butt scorched by the lightning that comes out of the thunderstorm. The quickest way to taint your name is to have it associated with a person or company who has been known to scam authors, be in legal negotiations/have been sued, who use threats/bullying, or have otherwise been involved with, suggested, or used black hat/immoral business practices to further their careers or the authors they are selling services to.

3.      Does it require signing a contract or NDA? Again, there is literally nothing anyone can teach you that isn’t already out there on the internet somewhere, in some form, if you know where to look and how to research it. Anyone who thinks otherwise and tries to force you into signing some type of contract or NDA or calling any of their ideas “trade secrets” is an immediate red flag, especially if the contract gives the company/person the right to cancel their services without a refund because the author was “suspected of leaking secrets” or otherwise discussing or disclosing any of the information. This is a loophole which gives the company a legal way to pull their services without a refund and without prior warning.

Imagine shelling out thousands for a marketing course only to have the company ban you from receiving any more of the information because they suspected you had “leaked” something from their course. Short of getting a lawyer, there is little recourse for authors so again, it bears repeating for you to do your due diligence and be wary of any company who makes you sign any type of NDA or contract to gain access to courses and marketing information. And if one does require it, have a lawyer look over it before signing it. The last thing you want to do is sink your life savings into these courses only to be banned from receiving the rest of the course/service you paid for because of something in that agreement.

Right now I know there are multiples of you shaking your head mumbling, “But what about the ones who truly want to help authors out of the kindness of their heats?” To this I’m going to say, “Bull. SHIT.” And here’s why. If they were really interested in helping authors they wouldn’t be charging for their services. I’m not saying charging for things isn’t good, but let’s not sugar coat this. We’re all adults, and whether you want to admit it or not, making money off of authors has become big business in recent years. No one is doing this because they legitimately want to help others make money; they are selling these types of courses and services for one very simple reason: to make money for themselves. And that’s fine, but thanks to an influx of authors over the years because of the ease of self-publishing, it now means scammers and snake oil peddlers have a never-ending supply of authors who do not know any better, who do not do their due diligence, and are easily taken in by anyone claiming they can make all your writing dreams come true. While it is a sad fact, it is still a fact nonetheless. So again, ask yourself – if their advice works so well they claim they can easily make you rich as an author selling books, why aren’t they using this advice themselves and getting rich off of selling their own books?

And them not being am author themselves? Do I even need to go over why that’s a bad idea? Would you want your car worked on by someone who wasn’t actually a mechanic? Would you want someone teaching you how to fix your car who isn’t actually actively a mechanic? Then why fork over thousands of dollars to someone for a course in how to become a six figure author when said person isn’t making their money by following their own advice?

For all you authors out there, be you a newbie or a veteran, take heed and use caution. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

** Chances are, I’ve hit a very big nerve with this article. Authors who were taken in by these companies and individuals who don’t want to admit they made a mistake, scammers who are pissed that I’m shedding light on this sordid topic and will begin to do damage control, and readers who may feel they were taken advantage of by buying into a hyped up book that turned out to be just another average story written by an average author. I don’t write these articles for anyone but my fellow authors as a warning. So long as we are quiet about the dark side of this industry, it allows the scammers to thrive and spread like a cancer. By not talking about it, by not making others aware, we are indirectly supporting such companies and scammers. If nothing else, do your due diligence and stay away from any suspect company or person. Even if you are not shouting names from the rooftops, at least warn your closest author friends who may not do as much research as is required to fully steer clear of the sharks swimming in the waters.

I also know there are going to be those out there who wonder what my qualifications are that makes me such an expert on all this. 30 years. That’s my expertise. I’ve spent 30+ years in this business. I have spent decades researching authors, marketing courses, promotional strategies, and everything remotely related to the publishing industry. I have been both traditionally and independently published. While I may no longer be a “bestselling” author, I have been an Amazon international “bestseller” several times over the years. What I haven’t done, however, is lost thousands of dollars on sketchy author courses and marketing classes. I did research, I compared the information available in the classes to what I could find for free online, and I asked questions of my fellow authors, many of which who were more than happy to share their own research, experiences, and techniques. I researched the hell out of companies and classes, I scoured old archives, articles, and message boards (those message boards are a treasure trove of “author beware” information on companies and individuals), and no matter how great a company looked, there was always some dark secret that surfaced when digging deep enough. Take my years of wisdom or don’t. Just don’t be surprised if you choose to ignore my wisdom and end up with the short end of the stick. **

Are Book Marketing Courses Worth the Money?

What can I do to sell more books? This is THE question every author drives themselves crazy asking. So they dive into marketing and promotions, reading up on what to do, how to do, where to do, watch countless videos, and they still aren’t ranking or making bank. Eventually, and inevitably, they turn to marketing “gurus” to help them attempt to turn a profit. There are two very high-profile “gurus” who come to mind. But, you are probably wondering, as I often have, if these courses are worth the money.

Before dishing out cold-hard cash, I invite you to read this article:

This is a very interesting read, and echoes what I have discovered for myself through years of research, trial, and error. Please read the article and then come back to this post as I would like to further break down what the author points out.

First, I’d like to bottom line this for you. There is literally nothing Mark Dawson, or any of the other gurus promising to turn you into a 6 figure making author, can teach that you can’t already find for free on the internet. Honestly, marketing isn’t that big of a secret. The hardest problem is hammering out a marketing plan and executing it. Sure, there are 6 figure author coaches who will “coach” you on how to create a marketing plan, they may even hand you a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. They may offer you dozens of services to help you sell more books. But no matter how good your plan is, no matter what courses they offer or what services they offer, if you don’t have the three “missing ingredients” (or as I like to call them, what the gurus don’t want you to know) that the author of the above article talks about, you won’t sell books. And even if you do have all the missing ingredients, you still won’t make money.

Wait, what? How can I have an exceptional marketing plan, all the missing ingredients a.k.a the “secret sauce”, and still not make any money? It’s because of the way these gurus teach you to sell books. It’s the “dog chasing its tail” mentality. Meaning the only way to keep making sales is to keep funneling more and more money into the machine, keeping it greased so your book stays in front of people. Unfortunately, the entire industry has become filled with authors who are taught to “publish fast” and sink as much money into marketing as they can get their hands on. It’s just not a viable marketing tactic. But why, you may ask? Let’s break it down.

The above article talks about whether or not Mark Dawson’s Advertising for Authors is worth the money. The article could have been written about any marketing guru – the root analysis is basically the same regardless of who is claiming they can turn you into a 6-figure earning author. What the article uncovers holds true no matter the coach, the guru, or the marketing plan.

The article talks about three “missing ingredients” that Mark Dawson’s course does not directly mention. The author mentions she specifically asked Mark Dawson what was the “secret sauce” and his replied was simply “there isn’t any.” The author goes on to list three “ingredients” that Mark’s plan doesn’t include or even mention. Whether Mark, or any other publishing marketing coach wants to admit to it, these ingredients are the “secret sauce.” Or as I like to call them, the information they don’t want you to know. And these ingredients are universal regardless of the marketing course, who is teaching it, who the PR or marketing company is, or what service is being offered. Let’s get into those missing ingredients.

The last ingredient the article talks about is “a good book.” While I agree to a certain extent, if 50 Shades  and the plethora of unedited books have taught us anything, it’s that if you toss enough money into something, you can sell it. Unfortunately, all these marketing courses promising to make you a 6 figure earning author have created a market drowning in subpar books. Sure, many of them will tell you if you don’t have a really good book, then it won’t sell. What they actually mean is – if you are not writing to market with the same formulated plot and book cover that looks just like all the others in your genre, you probably won’t be able to sell the book.

Honestly, it’s not that difficult to see why they push this approach in their courses and services. Your book has to be eye-catching, and it has to be marketable. The easiest way to market is to compare it to something already hitting it big in the industry. After all, no matter how great the book is, no matter how well-written, if it’s not a genre or trope currently selling in the industry, you are going to be hard-put to sell it.

Now, here’s the catch on writing to market, which I hinted at earlier in this post.  When you are writing to market, it means you are pushing out the same tired plot line with the same look and narrative voice you can find in hundreds of thousands of other books already on the proverbial bookshelves. It’s considered “disposable entertainment”, and you won’t keep readers around long writing like that. Let’s take a further look at this.

After your book is ready to launch, you activate your launch/marketing plan. It goes well, you make sales which means you make money. But your readers want a new book now. Actually, they wanted it five seconds after they finished reading the one you just launched. They really wanted a new book already sitting on their Kindle ready to go as soon as they finished this last one. So you are forced to crank out another book. Then you have to launch it, which means you shove all the money you just made off the first one into the next one. And thus the cycle of the “dog chasing its tail” continues. You can’t create unique plot lines when you have to crank out a new book every month or two. So you “write to market” because the books sell, but in order to keep those books in front of readers, you have to keep funneling all your money into each new book. To put it bluntly, these gurus turn you into a publishing farm, where you crank out the same plot line repeatedly, producing book after book that looks like, reads like, and has the same tired plot line as thousands of other books. And the only way to keep them selling is to funnel thousands of dollars into marketing.

This is the problem with writing “disposable entertainment” books, or those that are written to market. You don’t keep the same readers for more than a book or two before they have moved on to another author. Can you make money at this? Yes, absolutely. But are you getting to keep any of it? No, and that’s the part these gurus don’t tell you. One of many moving parts they don’t want you to know about. They don’t tell you that in order to make $100K a year, you will shovel $99,900 of it back into writing and launching more books. It’s not money you get to spend on bills or vacations or whatever it is you are expecting to pay for out of those earnings. You have to keep “feeding the machine” to keep that money flowing.

The only way to stop this endless cycle is to strive to become a legacy author, or a “household name.” Think about it. When was the last time you saw Anne Rice, Stephen King, JK Rowling, or any of today’s greats launching a new book every few weeks, or every month? Most of them only release once or twice a year. And in Rice’s case, she can easily go years without producing a new book. But all of their books are unique, their plot lines unique, their world building unique. When you read one of their books, you immediately know you are reading their work because their narrator voice is also unique. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The second missing ingredient, another part of the “secret sauce”, or another moving part of the machine the gurus don’t want you to know that the article talks about is money. This is the #1 item which usually trips up most authors. And we’re not just talking about the money you spend on the course or the coaching. What no one wants to tell you is after you spend thousands of dollars on their courses and teachings, you then have to come up with even more money to implement any type of marketing campaign. There are literally hundreds of sites to market to, Amazon ads, Facebook ads, BookBub ads and deals … the list goes on. And it can take a lot of money before you see any results. Because the results aren’t usually immediate.

Authors shovel a lot of money into the campaigns and the ads and the marketing, and then it could be months before they see any results. It’s a gamble, no matter who is doing the teaching or how “tried and true” their plans and services are, it’s still a gamble with your hard earned money that you have to spend on these launch campaigns and services. If you don’t have the money to piss away on it, you could easily lose thousands and still not see any results.

Even if the plan/course/whatever they are teaching/giving you has worked for thousands of authors before you, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work for you. It’s literally a case of throw enough shit at the wall to see what sticks, as the author of this article points out. Simply put, there are no guarantees. You could have the best written book on the planet, it could be written to market, you could have the best cover art ever seen, shove a half-mil into marketing, follow your guru’s courses and plan to the letter, and the book still bomb. This entire industry is a gamble, and if you don’t have the money to play the game, then you can forget about ever getting ahead in it.

The last missing ingredient is time. And this is another big one. The article talks about time to read through the courses, learn it, and then time to execute everything you have learned. But it’s not just that. It’s also the time it takes to write the book, to edit the book, to get the book ready. And then it’s the time you have to wait to see if all your efforts will actually pay off.

For those of us who are still working full time jobs, we often don’t have the time required to adequately launch and market a book, especially not on our own. And if you do hire a 6 figure author coach or some other guru, you aren’t just letting them take over. You still have a lot of time and energy you will have to put into launching the book. Unless you are hiring a complete PR/marketing firm who will do it all for you, you will still spend a lot of time learning about and executing a marketing plan. Even when hiring a “one-stop shop” company who handles the entire marketing and launching of the book from beginning to end, you still need to be very involved in the process to find out what works and what doesn’t. Otherwise, you could spend thousands of dollars on useless services that just aren’t helping.

This brings us back to the age-old question – how do I sell more books … when I don’t have a shit-ton of money to shovel into marketing?

Oddly enough, the short answer is very simple. The execution, not so much. I have a business plan already in place, and yes it would take several hundred dollars to execute. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the money to spend right now. But the short answer? That is super easy, and it’s something authors already do, they just don’t do enough of it to make it work.

So what is this magic bullet? Networking. But not like you are networking right now. As I said, I have a game plan in place, I have a marketing plan in place, but what I don’t have is the team of fellow like-minded authors who are willing to join me on the journey of breaking out of the cycle of publishing books with meager or no sales. It requires networking with authors who are good writers, who produce a quality product, who understand how important editing and good graphic art is to the equation. It’s about networking with authors who understand it takes a lot of work, who are willing to put forth the effort and time, but who may not know how to leverage the knowledge they have gained, or who simply do not have hundreds of hours a week and thousands of dollars to spend. If you can find those types of authors, you can help turn the tides of the industry, those who are team players and willing to work with others, those who can follow directions and are willing to learn and help each other. You find your tribe, and yes, you can do all the things the gurus teach, minus the large guru price tag.

Nora Roberts Sues #CopyPasteCris, But She Can’t Go After Amazon

In early March I wrote three blog articles, I Write My Own Damn Books Can We Just Get Real for a Moment, and An Open Letter to Nora Roberts, after it was discovered the self-proclaimed USA TODAY bestselling author Cristiane Serruya had plagiarized dozens of authors and books, including Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, and EL James, just to name a few. For the record, according to the archive on USA TODAY‘s website, Cristiane Serruya has never once hit the list. And now that she has been called out on her plagiarism, she’s admitted that she hasn’t even written one single book, instead farming it out to ghostwriters she hired on the notoriously unscrupulous site Fiverr.

Now Nora Roberts is going after blood as she has sued Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya for her blatant theft of approximate ten of her books. Needless to say, authors both big and small are urging her on, happy someone is finally standing up to the cesspool of low quality books and scammers that have been running rampant on Amazon for nearly a decade now, the steady flow of Frankensteined books and half-assed rough drafts forcing many authors to quit publishing altogether while simultaneously banishing the professionally produced books to the proverbial Amazon dungeons.

Authors are sick of being forced to compete with the immoral writers who have no qualms about using every unethical and black-hat tactic they can think of to squeeze as much money out of the Amazon publishing system as possible. By them doing so, it has forced a lot of authors to stop writing and publishing as they simply cannot compete with those scammers who are able to spend $100K or more on AMS ads and other forms of advertisement each year. Those of us who have been limping along hoping the system would eventually right itself have been left with our books banished to the proverbial dungeons of Amazon, no longer able to make sales or have any visibility on our books at all.

Needless to say, now that someone like Nora Roberts has learned the disgusting ways of the publishing world the hard way, and has thus been caught up in it, we are all very excited to know she is not taking this shit lying down. Everyone is behind her, authors and readers alike, and we are all cheering her on. Many authors are holding out hope that Nora’s voice in regards to how bad Amazon has let things get will be the first step in righting a system that was built on dishonesty and greed. Many are voicing their hope that Nora will actually take on Amazon itself.

Unfortunately, I’m not as hopeful as the rest in regards to her taking on  Amazon. Honestly, she doesn’t have enough money to do it. And if you want to get down to the nut-cutting, not even JK Rowling has enough money to take on Amazon.

Before everyone gets bent out of shape, I think we all need to take a real, hard look at Amazon’s revenue and why they are able to get away with all the shit they do, why they do not bother to police their own store, or even enforce their own rules and TOS other than when it suits them. Once you look at the basic economics of Amazon, you’ll understand why it would literally take all of the Big 5 publishers and all of their top 5% earning authors making a class-action lawsuit against the Zon, followed by pretty much every single author and business that has ever been a part of their store, to truly do any type of damage to them.

According to CNBC, Amazon reported earnings of $10.1 BILLION in 2018 alone. Gross profits for the year were over $141 BILLION. In 2017, their net profits were just over $3 BILLION, with a gross profit of over $118 BILLION. Of that, it is estimated that approximately 30% of that income came from book sales, which would be approximately $3 BILLION in net profits for 2018.

With numbers like this, it is no wonder everyone is fighting so hard to be seen on Amazon. Unfortunately, with revenue streams in the tens of billions, it is also no wonder Amazon has been completely unfazed by the multitude of authors who have been steadily calling them out for their bad practices. So while Nora may reportedly be worth $370 million and JK Rowling $1 billion, Amazon has enough revenue coming in to keep any type of lawsuit buried in the court system for decades.

While all of us would certainly LOVE to see Amazon come tumbling off its pedestal for once, it’s going to take more than just Nora Roberts to do it. It’s going to take more than just the Big 5 publishers to do it. It’s going to take more than just JK Rowling to do it. In fact, about the only way to get a retail giant like Amazon to take a step back and actually put the fear of bankruptcy into them would be if the top 20 richest authors in the world got together, along with the Big 5 publishers, and every other author who has ever done business with them, all fighting together to put the proverbial nuts in a vice.

I, for one, would happily jump on board that express train. Hell, I’d happily tap dance on the ashes that was once the Zon-Almighty.

But for now, I’m another author who is standing behind Nora Roberts hoping she is able to draw blood. It may be a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but if enough people begin beating down the gates of Amazon, then maybe, just maybe, we can take back our sagging careers and turn this once noble profession back into the proud industry it used to be.

And – you go, Nora!

On Set of #Splat – a #Splatterverse Film

Yesterday I had the privilege of working on set of the upcoming zombie horror movie #Splat, the first film in the Splatterverse. The owner/founder of Splatterverse, Blair Kelly, not only wrote the script but also is starring in and directing as well. Blair was a fellow NEJ student and long time resident of my home town. It was great meeting some old friends and new faces while filming. Mississippi truly has some wonderful talent and is full of warm, fun-loving folks who are eager to help out a fellow artist and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Thanks again to everyone set, our director, fellow actors, makeup artists, and the crew behind the scenes making everything run as smooth as possible. I had a great time and I can’t wait for our next film day!

**Photo credit to those who took these. Some of these are copyrighted by me, some were taken on set by other cast members.


Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019


Waiting on that Series to Complete? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait


I’m going to shoot straight from the hip on this. One of my pet peeves to hear from readers is the dreaded “I’m going to wait until the series is completed before I buy any of the books.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Dagger: meet heart.

Before I get into the (really good) reasons why you shouldn’t wait for a series to complete before diving right in, I’m going to ask as few questions.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are a Twilight fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are Game of Thrones fan, have you not watched a single episode, waiting instead until all the seasons are complete before watching them? How about The Walking Dead?

And if you are a Laurell K. Hamilton fan, have you not read a single one of the Anita Blake series, instead opting until the series is finally complete before you start on it? (Here’s a hint, that’s her cash cow and she has no intentions of ending that series so long as it’s selling)

Anyway, you get the idea. Chances are, if you got hooked into any of these fandoms, or the thousands of others out there on both the book, comic book, graphic novels, and TV series front, you aren’t waiting – you are counting down the days until the next book/comic/episode/movie drops. It’s why I, and so many other authors, hate to hear a reader say they are “waiting” for a series to complete before they decide to buy.

If you are one of them, here are some pretty compelling reasons *not* to wait.

1.       Interest and sales versus a lack thereof: as I mentioned above, if you are into the Anita Blake series, you probably already know that series is still going strong. The reason why is because there is still a lot of interest in the books, characters, and story lines. To put it simply, it’s still making money. So long as a series is making money, or readers still show interest, then an author will continue to write more and more books in the series. And for those series like Anita Blake and The Vampire Chronicles, this means the author has no intentions of ending the series, which translates into readers seriously missing out if they opt to “wait it out” to see what is going to happen with a series.

2.       On the flip side of this is the “lack of interest.” There are only so many books an author can push out a year, and that number drastically decreases for those like me who are juggling a regular full-time Evil Day Job along with writing. For this reason, we have to be especially particular about what we spend that limited amount of time on. If readers take the “wait to see” attitude on our series, we view as that as a lack of interest. Lack of interest = lack of sales = we won’t continue to spend our time writing in a series that isn’t producing any royalties. This means we may completely scrap a series and not write another book in that world, opting instead of spend our time writing on a series or stand alone novels that may interest our readers more.

The best way to encourage an author is to buy their books, series complete or not. Taking a “wait to see what happens” with any series could very well spell death to that series. How many really awesome TV series have been cancelled because the ratings weren’t good enough for the studio to warrant investing the time and money it takes to film more episodes? It’s the same principle with authors, especially us indie authors. If you “wait to buy” until we finally finish writing all the books in a series, you may discover a series that gets scrapped because there wasn’t enough interest in it.

And for those wondering, please don’t “wait until the series ends” when it comes to the Before the Sun Rises books. I have no intentions of ending that series unless it stops selling. I could literally write another twenty books just with the characters and story lines I already have notes for. Who knows what I may come up with between now and Book #20!

Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel Cover Reveal



Are you ready for the next installment? Be on the lookout for Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel – Before the Sun Rises Book 5 coming 4/22/19 with the highly anticipated follow-up novel releasing close to Halloween of 2019.

Thorn has been searching her whole life for The Book of Blood Magic. Now she has found it, and she is thrust into a primeval struggle where the laws of good and evil no longer apply.Once she speaks the ancient deity’s name, she is bound to him forever. No matter how far she runs, no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape him.His disciples want him free from his eternal exile to reclaim his throne and bring the earth back into the shadows of the magic realm. There is no way to undo her blood spell, but she is determined to keep their prophecy from becoming a reality.Can she live with herself if she draws him into her world, a world he has sworn revenge upon at any cost?Will he be content to merely live, or will his desire for blood and war cause him to once again enslave humanity? What will her world become if he is allowed to reign over them? If he cannot control his desire for chaos, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice?Time is running out, and she has a decision to make. No matter her choice, one thing is clear -someone’s world is going to end.

The Art of Artistry – an Observation to the Norm

I’m a total music junkie. I tend to like metal/rock more than anything, although I do have some fave country artists in my playlist (Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins). Needless to say, I tend to follow a lot of bands across all my social media platforms. In doing so, something recently stuck out that I’ve not really noticed before.

When it comes to artistic ability, most people who are artistically inclined tend to be really good at a variety of creative endeavors. And from what I’ve observed, musicians tend to have it in spades. I’ve noticed most musicians can also sing, and a lot of them tend to be good at painting or drawing. Others I’ve noticed are good at creating unique products such as hand-painted signs, jewelry, etc. Some are also really good makeup artists or really good actors.

And then there’s me. I’m not good at much of anything outside of the writing biz. I can do some small arts and crafts (jewelry making, floral design, and little else), but I’m not musically inclined, I can’t sing, I can’t play a musical instrument, and I couldn’t paint or draw if my life depended on it. And honestly, from what I’ve observed from fellow writers, most of us tend to be this way. Some of us are getting into graphic art work for doing cover design, but from what I’ve observed we tend to be really good at one of them and mediocre at the other. Some are really good at marketing their books, some are really good at making graphic teasers and trailers. While this isn’t exactly considered an “art” form, it certainly takes a certain finesse to pull it off.

This is not to say that all writers are only good at writing, or that all musically inclined people tend to be more artistically inclined towards some other art form such as drawing or painting. This is, of course, just my own observation of what I’ve witnessed through observing other writers and musicians in my own social media circles. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who can sing, dance, paint, draw, doing phenomenal graphic artwork, etc. just as there are probably plenty of musicians out there who are not artistically inclined toward anything not music related. Again, it’s just an observation.

I, however, seem to be an all-around mediocre talent. It’s funny, I tend to tell people at my Evil Day Job that I’m a “Jack of all trades.” The rest of that old saying goes “master of none.” Today, that realization is really hitting home. I’m slowly coming to terms with it because being mediocre at anything in the artistic world, or the real world as far as that goes, doesn’t matter. There have been plenty of people who were successful with a “mediocre” idea, book, movie, song, etc. There are plenty of people who do mediocre work. It’s not the end of the world. To be honest, there are a lot more mediocre everything than there are truly phenomenal, and that’s okay too. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

What I can say is I strive to get better every day at everything I do. With each new book, with each new book cover, with each new jewelry design, I will always strive to get better. We never stop learning, and I’m very thankful for that. I’ve always loved learning new things, trying new things, and evolving as a person and artist.

So, here’s to all my artistic brothers and sisters out there. Keep striving to be the best you can be. I know I will.