Serendipity and Success – Acknowledging the Reality

A lil reminder that my FALLING UNDER trilogy is now re-released and on Kindle Unlimited! These books are NOT fantasy, but are contemporary erotic romance. If that’s the kind of thing you like, then you may like these!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is hard work vs. luck as applies to authorial success.

One of my least favorite pieces of advice from successful authors is when they declare something along the lines of “Just write a good book!” This happens a lot with debut authors, happily reveling in the out-of-the-gate success of their first effort. I say this because authors who’ve had lots of trunked books or only midlist success almost never say this.


Because they know that writing a good book isn’t enough.

Yes, writing a good book is key. Improving our craft as authors is critically important. That’s where the hard work comes in. At least, one kind of hard work, the foundational kind. If the books aren’t written and revised and polished to the best of our ability, there’s nothing to sell.

On the other hand… luck is a huge factor in publishing. It just IS. That’s why I roll my eyes at any successful author who fails to acknowledge the role of serendipity in their rise to (relative) fame and glory. As human beings – especially ones with egos sufficient to withstand the slings and arrows of creative life, which is rife with downs as well as ups – we like to credit ourselves with being awesome. Are we fortunate or are we just that good?

We’d all like to think we’re just that good.

The thing is, lots of creators are really good. And lots of good books go nowhere. Acknowledging the role of serendipity in success not only keeps us humble – remember that ego is the enemy! – but also should reassure us when things don’t go our way. Authors careers, as previously noted, are rife with ups and downs. We can’t control the luck. What we CAN do is work hard and put ourselves out there so the luck can find us.

Best of luck to you all!



First Cup of Coffee – April 29, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

I need that kick today today is – say it with me – friday!

Ah, ah, April Twenty ninth for all intents and purposes. Not for all intensive purposes which is how some students hear it the end of April I mean we get tomorrow. But. If today is actually your Friday and your last work day of the week that’s pretty much sand of april.

Um, so amazing huh First third of 2022 over has it been fast for you or slow. Um a lot of people. It seems like been having. You know, not a great year so far even though things are better. You know we’re opening up from pandemic and everything um people still coping coping with all the things right? So let’s see. Things are good here. We have a little bit of haze from the fires a little bit of smoke haze and very cold tumbling wind this morning I tried to go out to the grape arbor and it was um, yeah too too chilly too. Um. With the high walls around the garden. It’s usually more protected but not this morning so I am being a weeny and being inside.

I’m trying to think of what do I have to tell you I think I’m a little tired today I kind of hit tired yesterday afternoon I’ve hit 10000 words for the week that the guy should turn this off. Okay, um, um, it. 67500 on this book and yeah I’ve done over 10000 words this week a little bit more 11000 if you count a couple of blog. Posty type things that I’ve done. Um, so yeah, so the question is it’s not really a question. Ah I I’ve been doing slightly more than 2500 each day just by like 50 words to get myself back on trap track. To finish on May thirteenth is a day I want to be done drafting so that I can then spend the week of May sixteenth doing a full revision and the following week doing a proof I’m doing something different this time did I mention this. I am I’m going to do my own proofing. Usually I pay a proof reader. It’s funny as time goes on I stop paying so many editors and turning into these authors that I speak out a guest saying that everybody needs an editor. But. Do think everybody needs an editor except now I think I don’t um, I’ve stopped paying a developmental editor partly because it’s expensive. It added several weeks into the drafting time and. I didn’t feel like I was getting that much out of it I didn’t feel like um, the editors I was paying to give me content edits were really changing all that much about the story or the things that they were changing I wasn’t convinced that it was making them. All that much better which is kind of a funny place to be but if I have doubts I have my crip partners or beta readers read and since everybody uses those words. Interchangeably I think it’s just out of fashion to say crit partner ah nobody seems to use that word anymore. I think maybe it’s the the shit sandwich thing you know nobody wants to use the word criticism anymore. Um shake my cane shake my wand.

Oh and it chimed. ah ah ah yeah so whoever having someone read to give me content subsantive feedback on the book. Um, probably I should do that. I do everyone’s while but it’s when I have doubts so I had gone to having someone proofread the book whos also would give me copy edits and 1 thing I found in doing my big reread of the Heirs of magic. Books because I read the prequel novella and the first 3 in order to write this book for and I kept finding mistakes and I know that there’s you know mistakes are always going to get through but I was trying to decide. I mean I write pretty clean copy I’m I’m fortunate that way that I’m a good speller and I know the punctuation and grammar rules you know and I always say that I don’t know Commas I think comma rules are arbitrary. So I was thinking oh and then one other thing happened is that now I have all 3 Bonds of Magic books in Audio Grey Magic is still waiting to go live but my audiobook narrator. Sent me lists of like errors and typos that she found because reading it out loud. She catches those things and my proof reader was adding five days into the process which and she was doing a great job. You know. Really nothing against her I know that things are always going to slip through but on this book I thought I would experiment and see because I know I want to make sure to catch everything to wind up this series and possibly in this world I don’t know if all right in this world again. Um. Yeah we’ll see but I’m I’m feeling like maybe that’s enough for this world for the moment anyway. So if I spend a week revising this book and then I thought well if I did my own proofing if I spend four days the week of May Twenty third reading the book out loud then I should be able to catch all the typos I can look up any of the formatting our grammatical stuff that I’m not entirely certain of and save myself some money and also give myself that final.

Chance to go through because I find things like those word echoes on those awkward phrasings. So this is my experiment I’m going to see if that extra pass of reading aloud um will add anything. To my revision process. So um, let’s see seems like I something happened on Thursday yesterday that I wanted to tell you about hold on who else. I suppose anything that happened Wednesday I would have talked about yesterday I did notice looking at my calendar I was trying to figure out what all I’ve been doing the last few days who knows playing on the streets obviously but shout out to agent Sarah it is her birthday today. Happy birthday Sarah! Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency who works her butt off for her clients and I say this? um I think it’s easy for people to say that. Ah, you know and it’s authors develop certain lingo that then other authors imitate wanting to sound like real authors you know and they’re like oh my amazing agent I remember that when I was a newbie writer. Ah like this one gal I followed was always talking about. And should always put it in capital letters. Amazing agent I don’t remember Anastasia it wasn’t that I don’t remember who it was and you know she would just gush. You know oh spoke with amazing agent and this was in the newer days of Twitter when I felt like we had more conversations. Got to know people. It could be people still do that. But I’ve ended up backing away from Twitter so much and now that Elon Musk wants to turn it into a free for all of we all are we gonna be leaving Twitter.

I’ve been seeing some think pieces on what it means for a billionaire to own a social media marketplace like Twitter or Facebook and how that shapes the world question is what are we gonna do about it. Somebody posted the other day about um that the Eu has passed a law. It’s like in the first stage it hasn’t been ah, fully executed like whatever their version of like then you know, starting in the senate and having to go to the house or vice versa. So it’s not a thing yet but they did pass the resolution to make the law or what have you ah to force companies like Amazon and Facebook and so forth to reveal their algorithms and to make them egalitarian and people were saying oh they were excited. Celebrating saying you know Amazon might finally have to reveal their algorithm to us you know like how are they you know promoting some books and not others and I thought I didn’t want to reign on their happy parade. But I was thinking. It’s just never gonna happen Amazon. These companies are never going to ris feel there there I’ll go the rhythms they’re gonna consider it proprietary information. They won’t do it I I could be wrong. It’s happened put it on the calendar. So anyway, um, how did I get there.

Sometimes I wish I could replay this thing so I could find my train of thought again sorry I’m a little fuzzy brained today. So let’s see algorithms legalities. Is it gone forever. It might be you guys are shouting at me I also wish that I could hear you tell me what was I thinking about something I was gonna tell you and then I figured out know that Sarah’s birthday I guess yeah, that was it. Agents ah see I can rewind mentally kind of um, but anyway the scout that I used to follow you know and people would always be like oh my amazing agent this and and following her particular journey which I’ve always hated my journey to publication. Ah, we don’t hear that nearly so much anymore probably because there’s so much self- publishing but especially back then because we’re talking more than ten years ago now right? That’s amazing. You know like 2009 is when I joined Twitter. Things were very much about tribe publishing you know and so people would be like posting their milestones so that you like we could follow their journey from pre-published to astonishingly successful the problem with chronicling your journey to publication like that is that. Not everybody made it there and that certainly happened with this gal and I could see her being going back and forth with her agent where she would like revise her book that her agent had signed her on and the agent still didn’t like it and she would talk about oh well, she was going to have to gut it again, but amazing agent Anastasia had given her. You know all of these great notes and she was going to do it again and and I mean this went on for a long time and I was thinking and she’d never even gone on submission and even then being well I wasn’t entirely a baby writer because I’d been in the nonfiction circles for a long time. So I knew how publishing worked and was like she just. And I keep you revising forever chasing some goal some intangible it wasn’t clear to me like what this agent wanted her to do and then eventually she ended up parting waste with the agent you know and she reported this faithfully too. We’ve parted ways because we’re just not a great fit and like and this agent never took her book out on submission. So it was a live and learn kind of thing. Maybe that was beneficial to me that she chronicled her journey to not publishing I don’t think she ever got a book published.

Anyway, um, was her agent really amazing was she as delighted as she wanted her chronicle to portray probably not but my agent Sarah is a hell of a worker. She is. Communicative ambitious she takes amazing care of her clients. Ah she is a delightful person in every way and I know that you know like I’m not always an easy client to work with.

Neither is Grace Draven for that matter. Also one of Sarah’s clients because we are very definitive about what we need as far as making money and what we put into our self- publishing careers which isn’t always easy for an agent because and there are some agents out there who are like no I don’t want you to so. Publish and Sarah doesn’t ask that of us she she works with us and I I appreciate her I appreciate you Sarah if you listen to this? Um, yeah, you really are an amazing agent. So um, the other exciting thing is that Lonen’s War is out today in Kindle Unlimited with the new covers I probably have to figure out how to brand things. As far as the metadata for Kindle Unlimited readers but because right now the ranking is really really super low. Ah you know and it’s interesting because and I’ve said this often right that I feel like the kindle unlimited ecosystem is just a really different set of readers. And I see this all the time I see these? um you know, authors celebrating other author who are like Kindle un limited famous that I’ve never heard of and the reader is recommending these books and series and they’re just these circles almost don’t overlap anymore. I grew irritated with some of the science fiction and fantasy people the other day and I won’t say why sorry I’m not going to spill that tea but there are circles of snobbery in this business and people forget that. Their particular circle is not the only one in the universe and they take that because they’ve they have never heard of an author that therefore what they’re doing is not worthwhile and it’s not true. That’s not true. So. This is like so far the most abysmal release that I’ve had in a really long time. But I think it’s because I’m so unknown to this Kindle unlimited audience. So I’m looking on it as a challenge to to pick it up I was ah. Venting to some of my writer friends hi gals. Thank you I appreciate you yesterday because one of my longtime readers and I mentioned this I think on yesterday’s podcast does not like the new covers for sorcer moons and and it it kind of got me down and and one of the gals said you know not to let it.

Diminish my joy and an assistant Carien said that said the same thing assistant Carien is always ah, awesome. Awesome assistant andastasia ah, um, but yeah, this girl. Who is my reader said well that she missed the pretty covers and said um, finished up with saying she said it was only weapons and she wouldn’t pick these up in a store and I was like oh okay, well first of all I mean the first covers are always going to be there. Guys they’re they’re out there if you love the first covers. Great um, but also I’m not trying to tell this series to the people who already read it right? I’m trying to communicate the genre to this new group of readers. And for the record it is not only weapons on the covers. It is. There’s lots of other elements on the covers and and Carien was resistant to me changing it at first too and now even she is saying that she loves the look of the new series. It’s it’s much more cohesive than it used to be and. I’m looking forward to yeah to just to reach these new readers. Ah, it’s it’s exciting. So um, yeah, lones were out today if you’re in kindle unlimited if you know people enkindle unlimited please share. Um. I I want to want to reach those fantasy romance readers slow burn romance lots of epic fantasy and warrior stuff in it which this was another thing when we were discussing it when this gal said you know gone were the the girls and the horses. And the dragons and that it was only weapons and that it looked like masculine fantasy and I thought why are we correlating weapons with masculine fantasy because I mean and this is someone who’s read all of my books I have female warriors right? You know I invented an entire martial arts system for ah well for Ursula and then ah Kaja and Jenna/Ivariel all follow it. Jepp follow follows it and Jack does too now. They’re all part of that. System and it’s part of the marsh I I not part of I imagined it reimagined it from mar martial art systems that I trained in and I have weapons in my office and and I’m a girlie girl. So um, yeah i.

I don’t like the idea that that warrior stuff is correlated only with masculine fantasy. So anyway, off I go to get my final 2500 for the week I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Um I hope I get to get out in the garden this weekend. That’s my my big goal for it and I will talk to you all on Monday take care bye bye.

I’m having trouble I like hit my coffee cup with the mouse here. This is the blooper reel all right by.

First Cup of Coffee – April 28, 2022

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee as the chimes echo away. Delicious. Today is I have no idea Thursday April Twenty Eighth and I am looking at my plant that I potted the lobelia does not seem to be doing well whyness lobelia always seemed to not do well. Just dries out so quickly here have to pause you now that we are back outside. We have Jeffe obsessively checking her plants all part of the brand here at first cup of coffee. Ah I will endeavor not to do that. So um, hope you all are having a wonderful week. My Week’s going pretty well so far knock on wood dive. No wood well does great plain. Oh the arbor knock on wood. Helping get my 2500 words on Storm Princess and the Raven King

Feels like it’s going well um, yeah, so we’ll see if we can sustain that get that done in the next few weeks um been uploading the rebranded covers. For um, Sorcerous Moons. They are ah so far I’ve gotten the first 3 books up did my 4 matters getting me 1 per day so they’ll release starting tomorrow. So Friday Saturday Sunday. Ah yeah, so. 1 reader commented about the pretty covers being gone I mean they’re not gone. They’re immortalized in history but but yeah, um, I’m I’m trying to rebrand I’m trying to reach a new audience and so. I mean that’s always a balance right? You know you try to reach new readers but sometimes the old readers feel left behind old in a former sense. Not an aged sense. Ah, she commented that that these looked like mill. Fantasy which I thought was funny because I don’t think they look like male fantasy. Um there’s definitely more masculine element to it and lonen’s double bladed axe is front and center a consistent element for all the covers and. That’s not to emphasize Lonen necessarily one is it’s a striking image. Um, and for me partly symbolic of of Oria’s power as well. But yeah, she said oh well the horses were gone and. Female elements were gone and it was like but and dragons were gone but they’re not, they’re still there. They’re just more subtle elements. There’s the dragon’s tail and dragon wings. There’s the representation of the the horse silhouette in the background. It’s there if you look for it and oria’s hair and her magic which is really the one of the most essential parts of oriah so of but. That’s the thing is when you try to reach new readers. You know you’re trying I’m trying to reach people who who maybe haven’t read my books at all before that’s partly why I’m putting them in Kindle unlimited because there’s a lot of readers that only read on Kindle unlimited as I talk about on here.

Probably ad nauseum and yeah so I’m excited about it I’m I’m interested to see what happens it says an experiment.

Ah, sucking down the coffee this morning I am going to ride her coffee later this morning so that’ll be fun first time in a few weeks. She’ll be able to sit outside just like I’m sitting outside here this morning in the secret garden planning to do a lot of gardening this weekend I have a lot of cleanup. To get after here and it’ll finally be nice enough to do that I think we’re supposed to have wind again this afternoon and tomorrow but hopefully looking like the weekend should be pretty nice. So I watched the movie gifted. Um, with adorable Chris Evans and what’s the little girl’s name Mckenna Grace Octavia Spencer is in it to always want to call her Octavia Butler which I think is funny. Ah the actress not the writer. Maybe because I don’t know that many Octavia ah not that I know her anyway I watch this movie because it was brought up at the Jack Williamson lectureship I know I keep referencing that but we had so many great conversations there. And that movie had been recommended I think by Connie Willis and I had never seen it. Um, what was it 2013 movie I’ll link to it the show notes maybe not even that old. Well we won’t look it up right now. Anyway, it’s um, it’s it’s an amazing movie I I loved watching this movie. It’s about Chris Evans is this um uncle who. After the death of his sister is raising his niece who is 7 at the time of the movie and he is living in is it Florida or South Carolina I think they say it’s Florida um. Preparing boats for a living. The script is so great. It’s really well written within a few moments of of like the opening scene of his conversation with this little girl. Her character is Mary. You learn so much about them and they’re arguing about whether or not she has to go to school and she’s you could just tell by the way that she’s debating this that she is really super smart and and he replies to her. Ah.

There’s just a couple of different things he says but 1 thing is he says we’ve already discuss this ad nauseum and she says ah and she said what does as ad nauseam mean and he goes ah looks like somebody needs to go to school to learn some things. And then later when he’s having a conversation with her teacher who is identifying Mary as a math prodigy which she is and he says no, she’s just using the the trakteberg formula I think I have that correct to to do these multiplications. It’s not a big deal. Which he’s putting her off because he knows it’s a big deal and you you put together very quickly that he is also a genius but is very deliberately not using his intellect and we find out later that he had been teaching. Ah, had been a professor of philosophy at Boston University and had quit after his sister died and and it’s wonderful. How these things are revealed why he’s doing what he’s doing and his sister was a math prodigy and his mother is a math prodigy and you know they. Want to have them go and work on these important you know unsolvable math problems which I’ve read some interesting essays on how on these like supposedly unsolvable problems and and what they really mean, but it’s a great device for. For movies because otherwise it’s like there’s not a um, a tangible goal when you want to give like your genius character a tangible goal that they’re striving for a math problem makes a lot more sense to an audience then I don’t know what you know like. Writing the great novel or whatever it is whatever that means

I promise I won’t go on a rant about what it means to write a great novel so tempting though it may be so anyway. Ah a lot of it is about him wanting her. To grow up having a normal life. Um and not suffer what her mother suffered by being treated as by not getting to have a normal life and it really just it’s it’s a beautifully done movie. It poses a lot of very interesting questions about. If you have a talent um or a genius. Even what that what responsibility do you owe to it. Um, if any yeah so I enjoyed that very much. And ad nauseum I won’t rant addd nauseum I can’t remember what it was. There’s something else that he says that he uses some sort of um, word you know like a $5 word or or something I don’t recall what but very. They do a nice job of revealing character through just how he behaves and and how he speaks even though he is trying not to be this thing anymore. It’s like inherent and and in the same way it is in his niece I also tried to watch Spencer um about princess Diana Lady Spencer played by ah Kristen Stewart which I’ve been wanting to see for a long time and we ended up with this subscription to hulu. Which I want to say it was an accident you know is sort of like oops I stumbled and tripped and fell into a subscription to hulu I think it was because David wanted to watch the super bowl and we were trying to figure out a way for him to watch the super bowl so you know like we signed up for the month free and then got charged for it and then I was like how did I end up subscribed to hulu. Which is I know entirely their scheme so I canceled it. But I’d already been charged so we have it for like thirty more days and when I canceled it. You know they want to know my reasons for canceling and one of them on there said, um, one of the options was too many ads. And now I wish I could have checked too many ads because we’ve been watching some stuff on hulu while we you know since we paid for thirty more days of it and the reader there are too many ads it. Ah just I know this is I’ll probably just be saying this from now on my gen x thing.

But it really pisses me off to pay for something that then also has ads. It’s either you pay for it or you suffer through ads you shouldn’t have to do both and I’m um I’m very bitter that the world has changed this people.

Ah, anyway, so I started watching this on hulu because I was like oh yeah cause David was he was napping and we’d already eat and did or I was getting ready I was cooking dinner and stuff and I thought oh well I’ll watch this because I bet he won’t want to and and then if I think he will. You know I can always stop and start over and it was um, discordant what is up with that people. It’s like they wanted to use all of this discordant jazz to show her mental breakdown which was this necessary. And I even looked at the reviews to see if anyone else bitched about it and I didn’t see any. So maybe it’s me I thought Kristen Stewart did a great job I thought she although I thought she made Diana awfully diffident which apparently like her bodyguard said that. Stewart got her meant got Diana’s mannerismism is better than anyone else. But yeah I didn’t I didn’t care for her diffidence and I don’t know it was just so over the top I thought you know it. It takes place at Christmas at sandra noon sandingham palace and it’s right before the divorce and all of this and so of course things are going badly but I just I don’t know I didn’t care for it. I’m not going to keep watching it I didn’t like how much of the victim. She’s portrayed as maybe. Maybe she rallies later in the movie but you know I’m one of those people that you know diana always my princess I was always on her side against camilla and after watching this, it’s like ah I don’t know so There’s my inarticulate review of that movie. Ah maybe I could watch it muted with only closed captions. So I don’t have to listen to that I found the music so disturbing in a way that I didn’t want to be disturbed. And then the other thing we started watching also on hulu too many ants cashhtag too many ads was ah pam and tommy about tommy lee and pamela anderson and ah it is really a delight. It has a lot of the same irreverence and sort of storytelling gambits that they used in the dirt about motley crew I’m sure tommy lee consulted heavily on this series. Apparently pamela anderson had nothing to do with it.

Ah, so I’m sure he like used the same writers I didn’t look but he he borrowed heavily from what made the dirt a charming movie to watch which we’ve watched a couple times because we’ve really it’s really fun if you haven’t seen that. Um. But pam and Tommy was it Tommy and pam I think it’s Pam and tommy a link to it ah is she is played by Lily James who I just adore ever since I saw her in Cinderella. I adore her and Tommy Lee is played by Sebastian Stan and I now Stan Sebastian Stan I didn’t really before you know like the whole bucky thing winter soldier. Never really floated my boat. But I’m getting I’m getting the mystique now and it is wittily done and my my only objection man that’s probably a strong word I think Lily James is doing a great job playing Pamela Anderson but Lily James has this essential sweetness to her. She’s I don’t know she’s lisome and has this artlessness to her personality that I don’t know if it means that she’s not a great actress. But she doesn’t come across to me the same way. Pamela Anderson always did she doesn’t come on. She’s not as brazen and confident in a way even though she’s trying to seem like that. It’s just that Lily James has this. Yeah, this. Artless wholesomeness to her. But anyway, it’s a really interesting show and I’m enjoying that and then I’m still finishing this book I’m almost done now on ah Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning and you know it’s it’s extraordinary I don’t. Read that much historical stuff unless it’s historical romance and I kind of fell off of reading those but it’s extraordinary to read about people living in victorian times and maybe this is just extraordinary for me because i. Haven’t read tons of it. You know like Jane Austen stuff regency stuff. Um, anyway, this maybe it’s because it’s nonfiction. But the um the prevalence of disease is just extraordinary. How people are for.

Everyone getting sick and I’ve heard people reference this, you know and talking about like with the pandemic that with the pandemic talking about how they now understand why everyone in victorian times you know writes letters about their health. It’s um. It’s really interesting to to read this and you know like a child will get sick with gastric fever. Ah, and then be dead by evening and I looked up what gastric fever was and it was typhoid and and I guess I knew. Kind of distantly that you know of course antibiotics weren’t introduced yet but they had cholera and typhoid and tuberculosis I knew they had tuberculosis but I mean they were just. Um, you know, like with everything they ate and drank they were risking death. You know, no wonder the victorians had such a fascination with death because people could just die at the drop of a hat and of course Elizabeth’s Barett browning was not in great health for most of her life. And just the way she struggles with her health and at the end it’s sounding like probably a lot of depression just really is making me conscious of what a huge thing it is. For us to be liberated from the ravages of disease in you know, just ah, you know like 100 years that that changed so dramatically. Ah you know and now we have ah all the anti vaccine stuff. It’s such a luxury for people to you know, not want to get vaccines because we don’t have this thing where at any moment you could encounter the thing that kills you by nightfall definitely and. Interesting realignment of perspective for me. So um, on that note I’m going to go celebrate my good health get my words done. Um, hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and I will talk to you all tomorrow take care bye bye.

Jeffe’s Five Effective Work Habits for Writing Productivity

My series rebrand of the six-book epic romantic fantasy saga, Sorcerous Moons, is complete! Book One, LONEN’S WAR, releases Friday, with each subsequent book releasing one/day for the following week.

This is my first (and possibly last!) real test of whether my books can be successful in KU. I’ve run A/B tests before and I’ve always made 2-3x as much money in sales on Amazon alone than via page reads in KU. But we shall see! Tell your KU-loving friends. 😀

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is The Write Stuff: What five effective work habits make a professional writer the most successful? I can only tell you mine and that’s defining “success” as being productive. The other kind of success – fame, money, adulation, awards – depends hugely on timing and serendipity. But we’re focusing on work habits, so here are mine:

1. Consistency

You don’t have to write every day, at the same time every day – though I do extoll that as THE single most effective method for building a consistent writing habit – but consistency is key. I build my schedule around protecting my writing time and that habit carries me through all sorts of difficulties.

2. Persistence

The other piece of building a writing habit is keeping it going. So many writers give up without finishing a book – or finishing multiple books! – or they give up after a few books. Or, when attempting to write consistently, they take time off, change their minds, prioritize something else. Persistence is what gets words on the page.

3. Focus

Shut out the world, ignore the new shinies and frolicking plot bunnies. Close the office door, put in the noise-cancelling ear buds, disconnect the internet and silence the phone. Focus on the writing and only on the writing for the time that you’re doing it. Think about the story and only that. All other considerations come later.

4. Integrity

Write what you believe in and write it your way. Don’t chase trends or try to make your stories a clone of someone else’s. This may not seem like an effective work habit, but it is! Keeping to the integrity of the story YOU are telling allows you to focus on that and not the market, or whatever the loud voices are currently shouting about.

5. Flexibility

The previous four have all been about ritual and drawing firm lines, but with those come a need for flexibility. Be ready to change up what you’re doing if you have to. Reinvent yourself regularly. Try rebranding series and putting it in Kindle Unlimited. (See what I did there?) The world changes, sometimes rapidly, and we have to be ready to change with it.

First Cup of Coffee – February 14, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy who even knows I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Ah, ah oh the angels sing. Ah today is Monday February Fourteenth happy Valentine’s day to all of you. Um I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s day and it’s it used to be painful when I was single. I think it’s one of those holidays that like if you are in a relationship. You really don’t care that much. It’s like ah and or every day is valentine’s day depending on how sickening you want to be ah. But and if you’re single and don’t want to be It’s painful I think even if you’re single and you do want to be It’s painful because if you’re happily single. The other three hundred and sixty four days of the year and then valentine’s day rolls around and all of a sudden you feel like all of your choices are called into question and yes I’ve been that soldier so it’s um, apparently spring here. It doesn’t. Necessarily feel like spring. Although the dates are getting longer nights are growing more warmer. Sorry um, this is how my brain works. It’s chock full of like song lyrics and especially from broadway musicals at any rate. The sun is warmer. The days aren’t that much warmer but the birds the birds have decided it spring. So now I’m looking out my window at the portal and there are finches that are trying to make sort of this top spiral of. Wisteria vine up in the corner of the portal work for a nest and I just don’t think it’s gonna happen I don’t know they’re very determined I have did say to this is like totally off topic. But that’s what you guys have to. Are used to hear it first cup of coffee I got this suet because the Bush tits have been coming through Bush tits are adorable. There’re these tiny little birds and they come to in the flock and they cheep madly. You mostly know they’re there. Could you hear that cheekki deede d dede and they’ll just swarm to suet and so.

Been I’d been seeing them around so I grabbed a suet for them at the grocery store. You know like 1 those ones with chock full of meal worms and brought home and I could not find our little suet feeder bracket. This is like part of my life I don’t like to talk about is the fact that here we are back to Valentine’s day every day is Valentine’s day been with David for 31 years Love him. Best partner in the world in so many ways the band cannot organize shit to save his life. Ah, and when we moved into this house. There’s this workbench in the corner of the garage. And there’s this one relay long side and then a shorter side and so I said oh hey, why don’t you take the whole long side for your tools and I’ll take the short side for my gardening bench. Okay so David is one of these people was it is it a man thing it might be a man thing. So. When he sees an empty space. He doesn’t think oh that is the empty space where x thing normally lives or there’s that empty space that Jeffie keeps open on her gardening bench so that she can actually do gardening bench things. No he thinks. There’s an empty space where I can set my shit down I know that we have a suet feeder bracket. It is buried somewhere I I eventually he kicked me out of my gardening bench you guys he kicked me out and I I went without protest he he had like this brilliant plan. Brilliant plan. He’s like oh if you moved your gardening supplies out back then I’ll have room to organize the rest of my tools reader. He did not organize his tools I don’t care I took all my I just like fine. Took everything that could stand the elements and I even have a little bin out there to put things in there’s a couple things that stay inside like wedged in the corner. Ah and now the whole thing’s a disaster. He always thinks that if he can get my stuff out of the way that. That will like magically solve his problems hope springs eternal right? Anyway, that’s a digression that I did not mean to get into but anyway suet feeder could not find the bracket thingy so I like wedged into the wisteria vine where it’s pinned against the post. And and it was great and the Bush tits came and they were merry and all was well and then yesterday the suet gone stolen I think coyote stole it little fuckers. So I I bought I went on Amazon and bought one I’m supposed to come tomorrow and so.

I know I know you all care. That’s my um saga of the suet feeder. Um, birds are what in the nest. It’s actually nice to hear their spring songs. Valentine’s day halfway through February ah, okay, so. I did work all weekend I may be slightly manic and punchy I don’t actually I feel good I’m I’m feeling fine I made it almost all the way through my revision I did slow down Friday Saturday Sunday I did not get too many as many pages but I was also adding a lot of words so it. It felt like good work. It didn’t feel like bad slow work. But yeah I definitely slowed down. Um Friday 35 pages Saturday 30 pages yesterday 27 pages so I’ve made it through. 333 pages of 344 written so far I am a little shy of 93000 words like 11 pages left to revise right? Um I’m guessing at the 13000 words for those of you who not familiar I figured that by where the beats are so like where my f 1 word count is where my midpoint word count is at 2 climax. At this point I think I’ve made it through actually I think I’ve written all the way enough to be. Um, act 3 climax let’s see because I figure x 3 climax no not quite so act 2 climax I was figuring was going to hit somewhere around 92500 words I’m sorry scene 7 words at Ninety Two Thousand five hundred words transcript is going to hate all these numbers. The transcript is not handle number as well. Um, and then x 3 climax will be at about 95000 words and then partly because this is third book in the trilogy and this is the way it’s working out those are dramatic beats. But I’m going to have a couple of chapters of resolution of things that need to be handled are not necessarily big dramatic beats but they’re really important for the story in the world and for setting up the next book I’m definitely gonna be writing at least one more book in this series. Probably a lot. Which I know makes you guys happy. So yay who knows when have to figure out that storm princess comes after this. So um I had a point. What was my point. Oh.

So yeah I worked Saturday Sunday doing all that revising adding a bunch of words. Yeah, so you know like last week even though I was totally revising the whole time I um I wrote almost 7000 words last week which is a lot if I’m just revising. So I’m clearly adding deepening and yesterday I added another 1500 so making it. So yeah I’m I’m guessing I’m going to end up somewhere around 105000 words. So yeah, I’ve got like 13000 words to. Write and polish this week can she do it probably probably I’m at least I’m feeling energized so that’s good thing and I know more or less what it will be about all good things. Um, so I actually have notes look at this I have all kinds of notes things that I wanted to mention to you guys? Um, currently reading Juliette Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest Jeffe you haven’t ever read Juliette Marillier’s Daughter of the
Forest before why? no. You guys I have not why I don’t know she was like never on my radar I don’t want know why and then when the mark of the talla came out I got a um hair flip starred library journal review and. They compared it to JJuliette Marillier and so I bought Daughter of the Forest then which I think came out like 2000 and was you know and I’ve tried it I know I’ve tried it a couple times over the years and totally bounced. It’s very interesting. How my attention has changed I don’t know if it’s pandemic I’ve I had bounced off Thorn before too and this time just dove right in. So what is it I don’t know. Ah, but anyway I you know sort of been looking for my next thing to read. And let’s see what had I just finished reading I think I was talking to you guys about it. oh I read a a couple of things um oh I finished reading abandons and deaths that was fun and then I read a couple of things that I didn’t love so I won’t mention them although I like them enough to keep reading for what it’s worth I read this one story that.

Heard people talk and talk and talk about it a while back and now I haven’t heard much of it since and it was just very math. It was a fairy tale retelling I must be on a kick and because um, daughter of the forest is also a fairy talele retelling right? of um, is it what was it the swan prince. Something like that. You guys will tell me ah I just can’t think of it right now. I I have brain I’m like reasonably articulate but then other things it’s like no I have no brain I would say a sofa meeting on Saturday and. Was trying to think of a word and I couldn’t come up with I was like you guys I oh I screwed up someone’s name. Oh. It’s so funny because it’s Nathan Lucas I know Nathan Lucas’s name and it’s there on the Zoom only had it backwards so it was Lucas, Nathan which I guess was a relic of his day job and and I called him Luke and I’m like why the. Talking my call Luke and I I felt so bad and and they were all laughing at the um like really guys. It’s just words anyway. I’m enjoying daughter of the forest I will talk about it more later there is a thing I really want to talk about today absent of digressions. So there were some conversations I saw lately about um, Kindle unlimited and just to remind for those of you who don’t recall or don’t know Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s subscription reading service so you pay your fourteen ninety five a month and you can read an unlimited number of books that are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited it’s also called kdp select from the author publishing side. Um, and it was very interesting listening to these gals talking about sort of their struggles with. Getting readership getting page reads someone was complaining that they’d gotten negative royalties and you get negative royalties because Amazon lets people return your books and they were upset saying you know that it’s not fair that readers shouldn’t be allowed to return books that they’ve read which. You know it. It is a problem and I occasionally get my books returned and there is a pattern where you could see people working their way through your series I saw someone else commenting on this where you could see them see a book gets bought returned next book in the series gets bought return next book in the series gets bought in return. And there are readers who will freely admit that they do this that they buy and return books because they don’t want to have to pay for them and yeah, it sucks that they’re allowed to do this. But if you are taking advantage of the kindle unlimited ecosystem. This is partly.

What you get, you know everybody loves Kindle unlimited when it’s paying big bucks for page reads but it does teach readers that they can get books for free and you know sucks. But that’s there it is um. 1 thing that I think people have to keep in mind authors have to keep in mind is that these people who do this are a minority the ones who do the read return read return there. There are some they freely confess to doing it. they’re they’re freeloaders they’re just always going to be that way. Most of my readers buy my books even the people who get the arcs of the books then go back and buy the book. They are awesome. They support authors these people that won’t pay for books. They’re gonna pirate it or figure something out. They’re just um, you’re never gonna convert them. They’re they’re just sort of like the. The crowd of humanity sorry but you guys are it’s a shitty thing to do. Um, you’re basically saying that you don’t value what the author did. That’s the next step in this. Okay, so there’s the. Unrepentant people who just won’t pay for books ever because they’re shits. There are the people who do buy the book and feel like it wasn’t worth it and they’re going to return. It. So some of these um authors were saying that they would never ever do that that they would never return a book. But one of the things that the Kindle unlimited ecosystem. Also promotes is this minimum viable product idea that a lot of people because a lot of authors because it is a free thing. That they they don’t go for the same quality because you know that’s that’s the big marketing push right? is that you say oh you can read this book for free. Why not? Well if somebody buys the book and reads it and thinks that it’s. Not worth it that they shouldn’t you know that it’s um that they’re disappointed in the book. Then yeah, then they can return it and that’s part of our society right? You buy something and you think it’s not worthwhile. You don’t want to keep it. You return. It. Some of that’s writing a book. That people want to keep and reread. Um, it’s not easy I know it’s not easy, but that’s the thing so then the other thing that I wanted to talk about and I’m kind of running out of time because I digress too much. But I think I can get through it is.

Some of these girls we’re talking about how en kinddle unlimited you come up with a different pseudonym for each subgenre in its I was thinking about this because basically what they’re doing is they are wanting to communicate this is the trope that you want to read for free that is. In fashion or whatever in Kindle unlimited and I mean yeah, it’s um, it’s a marketing approach know you’re taking they’re taking advantage of the Amazon algorithm but I wanted to give some history for this because in publishing. Um and in reading and writing that. The the brand of the book or story has always been associated with the author’s name right? Readers follow authors. So when you talk to readers about who do they like to read and and this is sort of like. How it was before kindle unlimited right? You know that people would always talk about. Oh you know I love Grace Draven’s books a little shoutout for my bestie I love Grace Draven’s books I’ll write I’ll re day think Grace Draven writes we all have our favorite authors that way our bookshelves are full of authors that we love to read their book. We love their voice. We love the kind of story. They tell now there was a. Huge push for a long time especially in like the early twenty ten s maybe before that I mean it’s been true all along where the publishers were really trying to establish themselves as the brand um harlequin is one of the few who was successful at this where you would read. You would pick up a Harlequin category romance because it would promise you a particular kind of story experience and readers almost didn’t care who the author was they would after a while follow certain authors but it was like oh you know I love harlequin blaze you know and they remembered and you would. You could get a mail to you. You know, get your harlequin blaze every single month. That’s a particular kind of branding right? But for the most part publishers have not been successful as establishing themselves as the brand of the book because readers are never going to be oh. I love harper voyager books I’m going to read every harper voyager book I can get my hands on right? Just doesn’t happen. They’re going to follow authors, readers associate stories with authors except now with.

This camillailla unlimited working of the algorithm and I don’t know if Amazon wanted to do this on purpose I kind of think they didn’t but basically you’re you’re getting people to follow the algorithm you’re getting to follow the subgenre trope. You’ll like. Monster romance monster romance is great but you’re getting all of these readers who want to read a monster romance and you have all of these authors using pseudonyms for their monster romance books and then they may have I mean there are people who have like 5 6 7 pseudonyms for all of these subgenres that they write. So do you see? What’s happening is these authors are no longer creating a loyal readership to their brand to their name. Um you as the author that is the biggest most critical piece. Of brand marketing that you have um and it’s it’s being set aside to pursue the algorithm to try to get the reads in the category. Um, and that’s that was what all of these little notes were about because it it occurred to me just occurred to me and I feel like I almost want to write like an article on this because I think it’s it’s not good for authors. You guys, you are. It’s like authors are voluntarily giving into this handing over the branding to a publisher because. In many ways. Kindle Unlimited is now the publisher right? So now this branding is happening in these little subcategories and it no longer matters who the author is because everyone wants to just jump in and take advantage of. Whatever hot trend. It is that and I and I chimed in and said you know this is I write as myself for everything I know I’ve been hinting at that. Maybe I’m going to do this new new project that would be under a pseudonym. We’ll see because it would be a real departure for me. So far that hasn’t happened. Um, but even then it would probably still be Jeffe Kennedy writing as because for better or worse I have a strong brand associated with my name and I’m so glad that I have that and someone was even saying to me. Um that they were. I got this great cover and I’m going long sorry I got this great cover for Prisoner of the Crown. That’s been translated into Czech and the cover for it is oh my god Orgasmically gorgeous.

Which is so great because the us cover for it sucks. Donkey balls I’m sorry it does I hate it and it’s better than the first one they tried to give me but so I was just sharing this with some of the gal saying you know here’s my beautifulful cover and you know here’s what the us one was and when the gals commented she said well. You know that us cover I would pick it up because your name is on the cover but otherwise I would not whereas the Czech cover I would pick it up. Not caring who the author is and that’s what we want right? We want to get those new readers and win them to our author brand with the story inside. But. That was part of what kicked off this thinking and I’ll put the Czech cover in the show notes or you know on the photo on the podcast. But um, I’m I’m really interested to see how the transcript handles Czech what do you want to bet. It’s check (it was! I fixed it everywhere else). Um, yeah so i’m. Um, excited about that cover. Um, keep in mind that you want those readers who say I would buy that book because your name is on the cover and because they feel that loyalty to you. They will buy your book and they won’t return it because. They’re loyal to you and they want to keep your books lots of thoughts for this Monday wish me luck on getting this 13000 words and change plus revised this week that’s gonna be interesting I think I can do I can I think. I will um, talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

Rapid Release and Exhausting Attention

Yesterday on my podcast, I talked a bit about the strategy of a rapid release schedule and how often we ping our audiences for attention – and how Ed Sheeran got me thinking about this. Since not everyone likes listening to the podcast, I thought I’d discuss more here.

The strategy of rapid release comes from the self-publishing world. It’s based on the idea that releasing books in a series in rapid succession helps build an audience and also tickles the retailers’ algorithms to elevate the appearance of those books in frequency so readers are more likely to notice them. This is particularly true of Amazon, which is still the biggest retailer for most self-publishing authors, and even more so for the Kindle Unlimited program.

For those who don’t know, Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription reading program on Amazon where readers pay a small fee each month – usually ~$10 – to read an unlimited number of books in that program. Authors have a choice whether or not to put their books in KU, but in most cases, if they do KU, then they have to keep their books exclusive to Amazon. The payout in KU is determined by numbers of pages read. There’s a big pot of money each month and Amazon divides that by the overall number of pages read (more or less – there’s some behind the curtain calculating that they won’t reveal), then authors are paid by their pages read. The authors that have the most pages read make the most money.

(One of the huge problems with KU is that this model is ripe for scams via bookstuffing. Authors add pages to their books via various means – putting several books into one, increasing font and decreasing margins to add pages, inserting blank pages, adding junk text, putting the table of contents at then end of the book, which encourages readers to go to the end multiple times, showing the book as “read” more often – which is unethical, against Amazon’s terms of service, and hurts other authors.)

So, a lot of authors, particularly in Romance, have conversations about learning to write faster, so they can release books more rapidly. Because the perception is that this is how an author can make more money.

However, is this really true?

I’m beginning to think NOT.

For example, when we negotiated my deal with St. Martins for the Forgotten Empires trilogy, they insisted on releasing the books one year apart. They said their research had shown this time span is ideal for building a new series and the audience for it. Also, Minerva Spencer and I have several times discussed a conversation we had last year with my former Kensington editor, Peter Senftleben, where Peter remarked on some authors releasing book after book after book. He said he kind of became exhausted and a bit resentful of those authors. “There are other authors I’d like to read, too,” he commented. I knew exactly what he meant.

This brings me to Ed Sheeran. Seriously.

So, I follow Ed Sheeran on Instagram because I love his music and his pics are entertaining. I don’t follow many celebrities – P!nk and Taylor Swift are the only other two – but I like seeing what these folks post. I’d call myself a big fan of Ed Sheeran’s music. I have all his albums, etc. I listen to them a lot. But there are other musicians I like to listen to, also. Lately, Ed has been working on this collaborations album. It’s all songs with other musicians – like Justin Bieber, DJ Khaled, Bruno Mars, and a bunch of others, many I’m not familiar with. I guess Ed has said he feels these songs don’t really fit on his own albums and I’m sure it’s fun to do the collaborations.

The thing is, I’m seeing his posts about this project on Instagram All The Fucking Time. For weeks now. He’s released the songs one by one, with sneak peeks, then bits, then the song, then the video, then the acoustic version. Then it starts all over again with the next song. Then the actual album went on sale through various stages.

At first I looked at the clips, listened to the new songs and watched the videos. Then I started to get tired of it. Then I got exhausted and annoyed. It got to the point that every time I saw yet another Ed Sheeran post or Story on Instagram, I’d roll my eyes. I finally unfollowed him. He has over 30 million followers, so I doubt anyone cares.

What’s relevant here is my exhaustion. He’s not the only artist to do this, ping repeatedly on social media for attention. I can see that this builds audience and raises profile in the short term, but what about the long term? This kind of practice affects the perception of the artist and their overall career.

Same with books and authors. Is it really worth it to go for that short-term (and possibly unethically acquired) wealth and exhaust your audience? I don’t think so. Not to mention that writing faster and releasing more leads to burnout. I know there are those out there insisting that doesn’t happen to them, but… I know too many authors who’ve burned out or nearly burned out to believe that some people are immune.

More and faster is a common war cry in this era, but it can lead to terrible places. Something to think about.