Monday, July 17, 2017

Should Have Done This Sooner



So in the last few weeks, I've tried a couple of experiments, to see how I can increase my audience and as a result, also my sales. A very tight budget has kept me from doing some things I want to try, so I needed cost-effective ways to make that sales increase happen.

The first experiment wasn't as successful as I'd hoped, though part of that is due to my not paying attention to it as much as I should. The launch of my new website, as well as a new newsletter that is set to be released late summer/early fall occurred a few weeks ago. It hasn't generated a lot of traffic, just a trickle, despite the enticement of winning - anyone who signs up for that newsletter will be entered into a contest to win free books, all sorts of fun goodies, and a $25 Amazon GC. If you haven't yet ventured over to the new site, take a minute to check it out – there's  info about each of my books, as well as any upcoming events and of course, the place to sign-up for news from me. I plan on sending out the newsletter at most 4-5 times a year, with a few special notices regarding new releases and the like.
Experiment number two was much more successful - placing an ad through Amazon Marketing Services. Again, budget was keeping me from doing this, but I decided to bite the bullet and take a shot. Turns out, it isn't as expensive as I thought it would be.

I chose to do a Sponsored Ad, where the book shows up on the pages of other books. My first attempt was rejected, and the explanation they gave was about the cover showing sexually suggestive images and content. I had actually researched ads that contained covers and books that were similar in tone/content to mine, so I reached out to support for some clarification, guidance and advice to bring the ad in line with their rules. Turns out it was my custom ad text that was the problem – a capitalization issue which was an easy fix, and once completed, was now acceptable for placement.



I'm about a week in now, and I have to say, I am very pleased with how the ad is working so far. After a couple of days watching the metrics, I learned how to narrow my targeted keywords – I followed the advice from others who ran successful ads and have about 300 keywords for the ad, though I did not use all of them at first. I still haven't used all of the initial words on my list, though I have added some I didn't have before, after seeing where my ad showed up and what other books appeared beside it. It's been very interesting to watch, and a lot of this brings me back to my corporate days of working with advertising campaigns and determining what gives the greatest ROI.

While the number of impressions (the number of times the ad appears) is actually quite - pardon the pun – impressive, it's watching and determining how to best utilize specific keywords that are generating the most traffic as far as clicks go. Studying which keywords gave the highest number of impressions and clicks helped me determine where to up the bid per click (and as a fangirl, it's awesome that some of those keywords are my favorite authors. Squee! lol)

Anyway, I figure all those impressions are at the very least getting me exposure, and the clicks are most definitely generating sales. What I noticed however, is that though the ad is specifically for Norseman's Salvation, and the ad has gotten me nice sales of that book over the last several days, I've gotten way more sales on the first two books in the series, specifically Norseman's Revenge. Since the end of the first day of the campaign, all three of The Norsemen Sagas books have consistently been in the Top 100 in the Viking Romance Category, most of the time in the Top 50. My overall sales have increased very nicely, spreading to my other series as well. In general, the ad has been successful – and I have more than tripled sales (across all my titles) compared to what I've spent so far (on one title). 



So for those who were curious how things were working, there you have it. I strongly suggest trying an AMS ad campaign to increase your sales – while I haven't sold thousands of books in the last week, I am very pleased with the increase I am seeing, and will continue to keep this ad campaign going as long as I can. And with the relaunch of the fourth Magiste Chronicles book on the horizon, I will be starting a new campaign.

The only regret I have about this is that I didn't do it sooner.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Release Day! Norseman's Salvation is Here!



The long-awaited Book 3 in The Norsemen Sagas, Norseman's Salvation, is out today, and available everywhere in e-book and print! Norseman's Salvation is the tale of Jolinn, a highly-trained yet untested shield-maiden, and Brosa, a powerful warrior and son of the jarl, who is still struggling with past failures. Determined to prove her worth as both a warrior and a woman, Jolinn clashes with Brosa, especially after she is given to him as a slave for disobeying orders. Brosa soon learns Jolinn won't be easily tamed, and their smoking hot chemistry takes over.

Norseman's Salvation is set in 9th Century Scandinavia, in fictional and historical settings. And while the story technically occurs between Books 1 and 2, it stands alone. Featuring gritty realism and A Kinky Twist on History! love scenes, this book was a blast to write. I love to write gory and bloody fight scenes, as well as lots of steamy love scenes, and this book has a lot of each. It also has a perfect cover – the gorgeous Michael Foster is Brosa, and the talents of Winter Bayne perfectly brought the couple to life. I think it really conveys the combative nature of Jolinn's and Brosa's relationship, as they struggle to find a common ground that doesn't make either of them appear weak or worse, foolish. Add to the mix that both are stubborn and prideful and, well, you can imagine the sparks (of all kinds) that fly – these two butt heads in more ways than one!

Get your copy here – and check out an excerpt below:

Apple/iBooks: http://ow.ly/y0TH30azLez
CreateSpace (print): http://ow.ly/Ia8Z30btKxU



* Can She Survive His Cruelty - And Save His Tortured Soul? *

Jolinn Gallarsdottir has trained hard to become a fierce shield-maiden. Hoping to impress Brosa Sorensson with her skills, she seduces him when he is vulnerable, in an attempt to win his heart as well.

Wracked with guilt over his failure to save his men, Brosa has spent many months attempting to restore his honor and once more gain the blessings of the gods. The goal is pushed farther out of his reach when he beds Jolinn, tarnishing his reputation further. He vows never to let it happen again, though he cannot escape his thoughts of a dark-haired temptress with a sexual appetite to match his own.

When Jolinn's request to go raiding with the men is rejected, she stows away, disobeying her father's orders. As punishment, she is given to Brosa as his slave. Vowing to prove her worth as a warrior and his equal, she defies him at every chance.

Determined to dominate Jolinn and bend her to his will, Brosa soon finds himself enjoying her fire and their battles lead to more passion. But when the gods ask him to make the ultimate sacrifice, will everything between them be destroyed?

** Contains A Kinky Twist on History! love scenes, including bondage, spanking and more!

Here's that promised excerpt – careful where you read this, it most definitely is NSFW!

Brosa accepted yet another horn of ale from one of the serving slaves and drank it quickly, holding the hollowed horn out for more. Finally, the effect of the drink had taken hold and the gut-knotting guilt ebbed, though it didn't disappear. It never did when these moods overtook him.

All around him, the celebration continued unabated, music from the harps and flutes and lurs enticing several clan members to dance. Brosa sneered at the revelers. They cared nothing for those lost.

Sensing someone watching him, he turned, once again meeting the dark eyes of the lovely woman who had seated herself at his father's table. She seemed familiar, but he found himself unable to recall her name. She offered a smile, accompanied by a strong attraction clear in her gaze. For the first time in months, he felt a stirring of desire, his own gaze dipping to her full lips. Did she taste as sweet as the mead she now sipped? The urge to find out took over his thoughts, addled as they were from the ale.

He motioned her to come and sit beside him. The innocent way her eyes widened, followed by the immediate broadening of her grin, stirred him further. A moment later, she'd taken up the intended seat, her eyes focused on him adoringly. Again, he found him struck by her familiarity, but again, failed to recall her name or who she was.

"You are enjoying the feast?" she asked. Her voice, low and husky, sent a shiver along his spine.

He nodded, unwilling to voice the lie. "And you?"

"I am glad you are all returned safely, even if Geira did not accompany you. She is happy where she is?"

"You are a friend of hers, then?"

"Brosa, don't you recognize me?" the dark-haired woman asked.

He didn't answer for several moments, admiring the thin braids woven through her long locks. Once more, his gaze returned to her lips and the urge to taste her grew stronger. He leaned close.

Her hand on his chest stopped him. "Brosa, you don't know who I am, do you?"

He fought the urge to shove her hand aside and haul her against him. Instead, he shook his head. "Forgive me, I do not."

She laughed, a light carefree sound that somehow carried over the din of the feast.

"It's me. Jolinn."

He gaped at her. Jolinn Gallarsdotter? She couldn't possibly be. Jolinn was no more than a child.

"I am no child!"

He'd spoken aloud? The ale had truly scattered his wits.

"I am a woman now," Jolinn continued. "A shield maiden. I've trained hard these last two years."

"But… how… I mean –"

Another laugh and he found himself enraptured by the sound.

"You have not been here in Allesgatt for most of the last two years. Between your journey to Fellskoger, and your journeys after, you spent little more than a couple of days at a time. I am not surprised you did not recognize me."

"Jolinn. A shield maiden. Your father must be proud."

Some of the happiness faded from her eyes before she offered a nod. "And you? Are you proud of me?"

He recalled the little girl who had dogged his every step years ago. He had indulged her, and honestly had enjoyed her attentions, flattered by her childhood adoration. But now, she was a woman, and to see that adoration in her eyes again roused very different emotions.

"I am surprised at how… lovely you've become." The truth sparked a blush creeping into her cheeks, one he found attractive. It must be the ale making him feel this way. That and the fact he had been too long without a woman's warmth.

He turned to his trencher, picking up a rabbit leg and biting into it. The juicy meat did nothing to stop the ever-growing desire. He reached for another piece of meat and handed it to her. The smile of thanks incited another rush of desire. She was truly lovely, lovelier than any other woman he'd known.

But surely she knew what a failure he was as a warrior. Why did the thought of her disappointment feel like a rusty axe slicing into his gut? He averted his gaze, unable to look into those dark adoring eyes a moment longer.

"Brosa? Are you unwell? Or just drunk?"

He gave a bitter laugh. "Jolinn, I am many things. Drunk is but one of them."

"Maybe you should rest. You've had a long journey and with all that ale, surely you must be anxious to find your bed."

Despite the drink, there was no mistaking the invitation in her words. Was little Jolinn actually trying to seduce him? No longer little. Though mostly hidden beneath the leather armor she wore, he still made out her sensual curves. His fingers suddenly itched to touch her, to remove the apron and the dress underneath. To stretch her out beneath him and savor the heat of her body.

He shouldn't. He was no longer worthy of her esteem, might never be again until the gods saw fit to forgive him for allowing his clansmen to die. Damn the gods! Jolinn was clearly offering herself. This might be his last chance to be selfish and take what he wanted.

She leaned in close, placing a hand on his arm. Slowly, her fingers crept upward, until they rested on his shoulder.

"Come, Brosa. I have the perfect place for you to seek your… rest."

She squeezed his shoulder and stood. Brosa glanced around. No one seemed to pay them the slightest notice, the clan too caught up in the feast. Contests of skill and strength had broken out among several of the men, accompanied by both shouts of encouragement and slurs.

She held out a hand and he took it, allowing her to pull him up and lead him from the longhouse. The cool night air was welcome against his warm cheeks and he remained silent, content to follow. She hesitated before a small cabin and turned. The moonlight illuminated the combination of eagerness and uncertainty lined into her face.

"Will you come inside with me?" she asked, her voice soft and hesitant.

"Do you know what I will ask of you?"

She nodded.

"If you are sure –"

"I am," she said, perhaps a little too fast.

He smiled, lifting a hand to touch her cheek, sliding to the back of her head. He held her still and lowered his head.

At the first touch of his lips against hers, he lost all restraint and devoured her mouth, sweeping his tongue past her parted lips to taste her sweetness. Spurred by desire and the amount of ale, the kiss grew hungry and demanding and he clenched his fingers in her hair to hold her near.

When her tongue dueled his, the remainder of his control fled. He slid his hands to her buttocks and pressed her hard against him. His cock ached already and the feel of her fingers sliding around his neck, her arms holding him tight, spurred him to reach behind her for the door and shove it open, stepping her backward into the small cabin.

He finally needed to pull away to catch the breath she'd sucked from him with the heat of her desire. Slowly, her heavy-lidded eyes opened and he nearly lost his command of his senses once more to see the fiery passion he'd felt a moment before. He kicked the door shut and yanked her hard against him.

"You are brazen."

He didn't give her a chance to answer before claiming her mouth again. She gave the sweetest little whimper, but never backed away. When his fingers found the clasp behind her neck holding the leather armor in place, hers attacked the ties of his own tunic. He kept his lips fused to hers, fearing if he relinquished the kiss, she might vanish.

Awareness of her hands on his shoulders, shoving, pushing him away, cut into the haze overtaking his logic. He stumbled back a step before steadying himself.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

Her shoulders heaved with several deep breaths before she gave him a sly smile. "Go slow. There is no need to rush."

With that, she reached behind her and undid the last buckle holding her armor in place. The leather slid to the floor with a soft thud. Unable to look away, Brosa found himself ensnared by the sight of her slender fingers undoing the brooches holding her smokkr in place. Each sweep of her hands undid more and more of her clothing, until finally, the last remnant, her undershift, slipped from her shoulders, baring her breasts, along with the rest of her statuesque body.

Before he had the presence of mind to contain himself, he found himself cupping her warm flesh, savoring the way she moaned and swayed toward him, her eyes fluttering. A smile tugged at his lips, his gaze focused on the creamy skin bared for his pleasure. Her pleasure. While he delighted in the feel of her, he found himself more enamored of the way she sighed and arched into his touch. He studied her face, enthralled by the delight melting into her features, making her even more lovely than before.

"Do you like that?"

His voice, husky and heavy with desire, mingled with the faint sounds of the celebration carrying through the air from the longhouse. He ran his fingers across the hardened tips of her breasts, rolling her pebbled nipples to draw from her the most delightful quivers.

Her gaze locked on his. The yearning in her dark eyes sent his lust soaring. Her tongue darted out and slid along her bottom lip. Desperate to taste her again, he caught her mouth with his, thrilled with the way she opened and let him inside. Yet, instead of submitting to his hungry kiss, she responded with a ferocity that left him reeling.

A moment later, her hands slid into his hair, holding him against her while she taunted him with her sweet mouth. Hic cock throbbed, pulsing need making him desperate to shed his own clothing, feel her bare skin pressed against his.

She yanked her mouth from his and pushed him away again. "You are wearing too many clothes."

Had she read his thoughts? He chuckled, amusement at her boldness spurring another layer of wanting.

"Are you a witch to taunt me so brazenly?"

She shook her head. "No. Just a woman who desires you as you desire me. Remove your clothes."

He gave her a pointed stare. "Are you giving me an order?"

A coy smile curled her lips. When he moved to kiss her again, she placed a hand against his chest, halting him.

"Until you are naked, you may not touch me again."

Surprised by the obstacle she put between them, he narrowed his eyes. "You tease me, bringing me here, and now you refuse?"

She shook her head. "No, I will not refuse you. Once you have removed your clothes. If you want to lay with me, you will show me the same respect I give you."

"You are bold." He grinned. "I like it."

Her satisfied and proud smile roused a responding respect, further sparking his desire for her. He yanked his tunic over his head and shoved his pants down, stepping out of them and kicking them aside. He spread his arms wide.

"Do you approve of this?"