Sampling a New-To-Me Author

Let me begin with an honest caveat. I’m a self-published author and have spent ten years cultivating my online presence, learning tips of the trade, finding quality partners to help polish and edit my manuscripts, researching the market and my genre, and investing in the health and longevity of my stories. I may not have a well-known publisher behind my work, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of enjoyment. There are many self-published authors who invest time and energy to ensure readers get the best quality story at a reasonable price.

Self-publishing is not easy or cheap. Cover art, editing, formatting, marketing, and time all come at a price. I’m fortunate to have a husband who supports my artistic endeavors, both emotionally and financially. But I want to show him, and new readers, that my work is a worthy investment. Because it is. And so are the books of many other self-published authors.

With the expansion of self-publishing, it’s becoming harder and harder to have confidence in trying a new-to-me author. I get it. I often encounter this problem as a reader. When I find a book that catches my attention, I’m always cautious before hitting the purchase button. My solution: download a sample of the book.

Sample downloads are a game changer. If you haven’t been utilizing this feature, I highly recommend you try it. Amazon, Smashwords, and most other retailers allow you to download a 15-20% sample of the book before you purchase it.

When I start a new book, if I’m not hooked by the end of the first few chapters, I’m not going to be invested in the story. I used to be one of those readers who would finish a book, even if I wasn’t enjoying it. But I realized life is too short to read books that don’t resonate from the beginning. Thus began my DNF pile, but it also made me painfully aware of the cost of my unfinished hoard of books.

I don’t remember when I started downloading samples. But it changed the way I approached reading for pleasure. There are a lot of sample downloads waiting on my kindle, and that’s fine. I’ll get to them when the mood strikes and should they catch my interest, I’ll purchase the full book and continue reading. No harm, no foul.

With so many wonderful books flowing onto the market, it’s hard to decide what to spend your book money on. I understand it can be a difficult choice. But by downloading a sample, we’re trying a new author at no cost but our time. And since that sample is on our eReader, we’re reminded of its presence every time we open the application. This keeps the author’s name at the forefront of our minds.

Have I found wonderful new authors doing this? Yes. Have I found ones that didn’t meet my expectations or standards? Also, yes. I use this method with all types of authors, traditional, independent, or self-published. Even those with a publishing house behind their name are susceptible to the DNF pile. It’s nothing personal. I just know what I like.

Because I’m a reader, I know this also applies to me as an author. There will be those who find my work too steamy, too sweary, too brash. My books may not be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s perfectly fine. For those who find my stories and fall in love with them, I’m honored to have your support and love. You are my community, and I treasure your presence in my life.

Have you used the sample download feature? Does it help you find new authors to love? Tell me in the comments.

With Love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

How Steamy Do You Like It?

With a new release coming on May 10th, I wanted to tackle a topic that often comes up between readers and authors. It is an article of debate for some, but for me, it comes down to preference. Heat Ratings.

For the record, I write steamy, sensual, smoldering historical romance. There, now you know my secret.

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As if you didn’t know already.

 

How hot do you like your romance?

If you’re an avid romance reader, like I am, then you have a preference when it comes to the heat rating and choosing a romance novel. We all do. Do you like sweet romance with no sex? Do you like a scene or two? Do you prefer closed door? Or are you an erotica fan?

I’m a middle of the road kind of girl, myself. I love sexual tension and slow burn romance, but I prefer to see the union come to fruition on the pages. Some would prefer to have these written as closed-door, where the union is implied, but not described. I am not one of those. As the reader, I am emotionally invested in the character’s relationship. I’ve put myself in the heroine’s shoes. So I personally find these scenes to be emotionally fulfilling as I experience the relationship developing between the hero and heroine.

Now, the scene doesn’t have to be graphic and take up ten pages of the book. I’ve read books where the love scene is a page long and it served its purpose.

Sex can be an important component of the story’s progression and the character’s development depending on the story. And yes, there are times when it is completely unnecessary. I dislike when authors try to force the scene or add a sex scene just for titillation. Yes, there is such thing as too much sex in a book. I get bored of it. There’s a balance, and I know from personal experience in my own writing that balance is hard to maintain. When it’s done right, the story should flow perfectly.

I have had readers tell me they would have liked my stories better without the sex. They told me that sex was not a spectator sport and that I should write something better with a closed door. Not going to lie, that stung.

I don’t put sex scenes into the story on a whim. I put them there because they progress the story and/or help the characters evolve. Sometimes it’s there to heighten the tension or punctuate something that comes after their consummation. There is a reason for it.

I dislike the terms “dirty” and “clean” romance. I abhor these terms. Sex is neither dirty nor shameful. Some topics may be distasteful for some readers. I understand. This is why I include a small author’s note at the end of each blurb on Amazon (and other retailers.)

I don’t write sweet romance. My books are steamy but not erotic. If you don’t care for the sex scenes, then feel free to skip over them. I won’t have hurt feelings if you skip that part. But I will be hurt if you blast my book for being “too hot” when I put the disclaimer right beneath the blurb that you read before purchasing the book. So, please take note, if sex makes you uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t read my books.

I wish retailers would have a heat rating scale similar to Audible’s amazing rating scale. I’m not a fan of audiobooks. I prefer to read the book and most of the narrators get on my nerves after a while. But I was searching through the collection and was pleasantly surprised by the rating system they have for the romance novels. It makes my life so much easier. I know exactly what heat level I’m getting.

Emma

The link explaining their rating system is https://www.audible.com/ep/Romance-Books-With-Steamy-Score. You should definitely check it out.

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I think they should use this system for the whole romance genre on all the other platforms. It’s a great visual for the reader to see what they’re purchasing and if it’s what they’re looking for in a book.

Until they do this, I’ll continue to put my little author’s note at the bottom of every blurb. No worries. 🙂

And remember, never feel like you have to justify your love of romance, be it sweet or steamy or erotic. Life’s too short not to read what you love and what brings you joy.

 

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Steamy or not. Just a friendly reminder. ❤

 

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten