We all have that 1 "taboo" thing that we love. For me, it's serial killers. Don't ask me why, but it is. This post isn't about that though, it's about Pandora's Box. Want to know why .... just keep scrolling!
In my newest series, Pandora's box doesn't quite unleash sins - it alters DNA! The seven sins are reassigned to the supernatural world at large. Don't take my word on it though, here's a little teaser!
Some millennia ago, seven stupid humans opened the box and unleashed magic into the world. Instead of sins, the box actually created Supernaturals.
Want to know more? Well, you're in luck! Not only is this the start of my newest series - Hexed in New Orleans - but it's also OUT NOW in the Shadows and Sorcery Set. 20+ stories, 99¢ until Sunday, one-click today!
Now if you'll direct your attention away from the drool-worthy six packs (or the thick book he's holding ;)) I'll explain why this is important to an author. Reviews do so much more than give you a chance to voice your opinion - which is awesome anyway. They allow you to truly help an author. First and foremost (to me at least) is knowing that I've reached readers. Whether your review is talking about how much my books touched your heart or you're cursing me out for too much sex scenes, I love knowing that my books made it onto people's kindles and stirred a reaction in them. I will admit, I write because it's what it's my head and heart. However, without readers to enjoy my work, there's no point in pushing these ideas out from the space in my brain! Hearing from you in any fashion makes the dream so much better.
Of course, there is more than that. Reviews help with sales. When a review is posted on Amazon.com (or a blog) it reaches other readers. A great cover and a stirring blurb are wonderful, but people like opinions. Opinions good and bad help to sell books, which allows the author time and money to continue to write them! Always a plus, right?
It doesn't stop there though. Reviews are always required to help authors with promotion. Typically, it requires 10 with a 4.5 rating, but Amazon requires 50!!
Think it sounds easy? You're wrong.
I have a street team of 34 amazing people that review books early and most of my stories only have 4 reviews. Why? Because not everything will appeal to everyone of course! Sales could lead to more reviews, but it seems most readers don't know how important they are. I know I've sold more than 10 copies of each book ;). When a book hits 50 reviews on Amazon they start to include it to interested parties in emails, on your homepage as recommended and as suggested books on other pages. It's an important resource because not all readers live on Facebook or other social media platforms to see our ads.
Starting today (December 9th, 2015) if you leave a review of one of my books on any Amazon platform (does not include blogs or goodreads) and email the the link to it email@example.com I'll send you the next book in the series FREE!! Yes, you did read that properly. This will of course only apply once per series. Please note this is in no way seeking positive reviews. Review it however you want and all reviews count.
Guess that means there's only two things left to do - read and review!
Sometimes, as an author, part of the battle is staying ahead of the trends, not with them. Sometimes the battle is riding the trendy wave, and other times it's remaining 100% off trend and doing whatever crazy things your muse tells you. For me, I've always been blissfully off trend, doing the stories my muse comes up with. No, I'm not saying writing on trend means your heart isn't in it, just that mine seems to like to be an outlier :D
So, for me, I've accepted that I'll never be "marketable". I'll never be what the agents, and possibly even the readers are looking for when they're looking for it. I'm more a "stumble on to me" story teller with stories from paranromal romance to steampunk to Christmas. I don't fit in a box, and I'm cool with that.
As you may have already heard, I have a bad habit of lurking in cover groups and snagging beautiful premades - normally that I have no story for. June 1, 2018 was no exception. Little did I know what it would turn into for me. I happened to stumble on a premade cover in a contest. It was a blind contest, and only after the winner was selected were the artists revealed so you could bug them to buy the cover.
I fell in love with one, and the minute the artist was announced, I ran to message them. But who were they? Melissa Stevens from the Illustrated Author, of course. I bet you know where this is going already. Well, the cover was wanted by many and she wanted to be fair - so she told me a time the cover would be posted and the first person to comment would win it. I'm terrible at things of that nature because ... well ... toddler. Luckily for me, my other fantastic cover artist, was in my inboxing shouting at me to go!
And go I did.
With the cover purchased, my brain immediately started to weave the multi-book plot. Think the Mummy meets Laura Croft (which I've never seen but I assume this fits based on media knowledge) meets Indiana Jones. These would have some steampunk elements, but would be largely without the romantic elements you're used to from me. Yes, there was a love interest because it makes things more fun to be in love when you're on an adventure, but this series would be about action, adventure and saving the world.
Originally a 4 book series in my head, Melissa made the mistake of telling me about a show about hunting REAL relics - Destination Truth. Within 2 days I'd binged watched and had a problem, the series needed 3 more books. Due to that, the suspected publishing date of late 2019-2020 for the whole series got pushed back. I wanted to release them as close to back-to-back as possible, and that meant I needed more time to write, because I also had to keep writing my current works if I wanted the voices in my head to go away.
So, Melissa has slaved away for the last year making me the most stunning covers and an epic series logo. Five are completed thus far, and originally, the idea was to hold onto these bad boys until fall when all 7 would be done.
Remember I talked about trends? Well, imagine my shock last night while watching a show on CBS when my idea practically slammed into me on the television screen. A new show was coming (that sounds freaking epic might I add), Blood and Treasure. At first, I was simply excited the genre was coming back - since The Mummy is my favorite movie. Only, Melissa was working on cover 5, and that's when I realized something a little ... well, nerve wracking. The actors in the show looked exactly like the cover models Melissa selected a year ago!
Yup, my characters were practically staring at me, doing very similar things. On one hand, it feels amazing to be trendy AND the guy playing the male lead gave me all the goods if I needed inspiration for the already selected male lead in my series. On the other hand, I worried "what if it looks like I copied this?"
Now, I'm a fairly unknown author. That's a hard thing to admit, but it's true. The odds of someone seeing my covers revealed in fall or reading the books in 2021 and linking back to the show were slim to none. Yet, it could happen. When I brought it up to Melissa, her husband and mine both thought we knew about the show in some fashion beforehand.
So that leads me to right now, at 9:55 pm on a Saturday and this blog. I don't have all the covers. I don't have all the blurbs fleshed out, and I sure as heck don't have any idea of the release date, since this year is dedicated to my Hexed in New Orleans series which still has 2.5 books left to write. I do have the titles, the logo and 5 of the most amazing covers ever. Making the decision to share even any of this before I'm actually writing and release can in fact lead to ruin. It can lead to others selecting similar titles and ideas. So to protect myself and my cover artist, what will I show? The killer logo she created AND a shot of the covers that show off the models. I hope you'll understand and can be as excited to look at the pretties as I am!
Here we go, let's pull back the curtain and take a peek at my newest coming series Relics of the Lost Worlds.
I've already got these bad boys outlined, and while I'm a bit nervous to try to write them while juggling other projects, I can't wait to open the new world, the prophecy, and all the things living within it. Stay tuned for a release date - the journey will begin sometime in late 2020!
Branding is important. It's what people say about your business. It's the vibe your business gives off. Most importantly, it's what draws readers into your business.
As an author, my brand is more than just my books - though those are the bulk of it for sure! My brand is me. It's what I put forth into the world. If you've followed my page or friended me, there's a good chance you know a few things about me.
You also probably know there's not much in the romance genre I shy away from. From Christmas holidays to cancer-stricken heroines, I don't hold many punches. I bet you're reading this and thinking "Okay, so what's the point of this blog." It's to talk about author logos.
When I first started in 2014, a dear and amazing author friend made me a logo. She charged nothing, she asked for nothing in return. I loved it. Slowly, I added the worlds, attempting to bring my tagline in a bit more. From there the worlds became people, as I felt that better represented a romance author, feeling my tagline could do the heavy lifting to imply I take two different characters and mash them into one happily ever after.
Two years went by and I started to feel like I needed a bit of a revamp - something that said "author". I wasn't even sure where to start. So, I ended up buying a premade logo from a friend's site. It was fun, to me screamed author and had just the right amount of color.
Fast forward to a few months ago. Logos started to evolve. They were more than just something "generic". Which lead me down the dreaded path of "am I where I should be?" After months and months of seeing logos I realized, "no, you aren't where you should be." Cute little illustrated drawings had been around forever, but were slowing gaining traction. I saw one posted for a book cover that the artist was selling as a separate file and it hit me.
I needed one. I needed a little Chibi-Lexi to showoff my business. Unfortunately, the artist never responded. However, luckily for me I work with three amazing cover artists (not including the premades I buy when they speak to me). Of them, Melissa Stevens from the Illustrated Author had already done an amazing series logo for me for my Relics of the Lost Worlds Series. (Bet you're interested in that, but that's another blog post for another time.
I went to her, uncertain if she would even do the project. Like every zany cover idea I've brought to her in the past year, she happily told me she would! Now, if you've worked with Melissa you know you get a pretty epic questionnaire before beginning that gets you set on the path. I'm pretty sure if you asked her, the one for the logo project was a hot mess and "all over". I knew what I wanted - a Chibi with something author-like. Too bad that was all I could tell her. Nonetheless, she didn't hesitate to accept the project.
Now, something I find important about working with any artist is their willingness to trust what you want mingled with their personal and professional opinion to do what's best. Once, I asked Melissa for an oasis cover - she came back with a winter wonderland that is actually my favorite cover of ALL my books. I trust her, her process, and most importantly, her designs without question.
What followed next was a month of what felt like presents and torture as she showed me tidbits of pretties. (She was being amazing and squeezing me in between projects and her personal life). So how did we start? With these two amazing sketches!
I was hooked. Without question I knew that not only was Melissa the perfect person to do the logo, but that it was just what I needed. Guys, look at the subtle nod to 10 with that sexy trench coat. Look how luxurious she made my lifeless hair. Plus, come on, check out those stacks of books! This was just the beginning and to say I was hooked is an understatement.
Like all good things, they take time. I'm sure I knew at the point how much, but now I don't - because life. I got a message and it was filled with more pretties. This time, Melissa was really just showing me steps, because she already knew where she was going and was just testing new poses to see which one stuck. I must have a tiny bit of a design eye, because I agreed! (You'll have to keep reading to see with what).
Meanwhile I'm over here like "ooo is she running with books? Is she going to get an adorable little octopus baby in her hand" because I knew there was no way with what Melissa knew about me from our time as customer-client (and friends), that she was not going to give me an octopus after giving me 10's trench coat!
By this point, it's probably not hard to tell that I was beyond excited. What could come next? Well, let me tell you, I 100% did not see the next part coming. You guys, it turns out the next step was more than I dreamed for, with not 1, but 2 epic designs!
Like, seriously, she has me riding on a freaking Octopus you guys! Riding a Mother F*ing Octopus - which is the exact message I sent my husband along with the photo while I was at work. She mentioned there were little tweaks coming and of course, I needed a body, but we were almost done.
Giddy didn't begin to describe it. Even incomplete, I felt complete. Suddenly, I felt professional - like a real business. Yes, I'd been operating as an author since July 2014, but now it was as if I was suddenly a step above where I'd started. But it gets better, you know why? Because Melissa sent the final babies the next day!
Without further ado, take a peek at the new and improved Lexi Ostrow, Romance Author.
There aren't enough words on the planet to describe how I feel. Look, I can describe acts of sexual pleasure in great detail from the male and female POV - so forgive me for this.
Melissa took a simple request and gave me a logo that feels like me.
There's a nod to my business - books.
There's a nod to me personally - aka the physical stuff (minus the mom bod I'm now rocking IRL).
There's a nod to my favorite things - doctor who and octopodes.
There's a nod to one of my main (and favorite) genres - steampunk.
More importantly, it's what it doesn't do that I love. It doesn't look out of style - which I love the others, but they did. It doesn't scream "I know what she writes". It leaves mystery. My career largely has been built upon steampunk and paranormal romance, but the coming years will see a fun shift, one that you'll learn about pretty soon. To me, this logo says "This author has more to say." However, instead of rambling I'm just going to sum it up with: Melissa, you nailed this so hard. It's everything I wanted it to be and more.
Need a logo? Seriously, go hit up Melissa at The Illustrated Author right now! just make sure you tell her to do the rest of Lexi's covers first (jk, jk. I kid, I kid.)
Also, I wouldn't be me if I hadn't rushed out and done brand new swag - I mean - check out this website for example. I've been sitting on this amazing logo for a week and a half, with the only people who saw it besides my husband being my street team. Plus, if you've hung around this long, click the third photo to enlarge it, and whip out your phone and scan that QR code on my sexy new business card for a FREE read!
This is quite likely the second hardest blog post I will ever have to write - the first being if there's ever a day I announce I'll no longer continue my dream as an author. That being said, this is a difficult post. To help me push through it and keep it from being a downer to read, I'm going to fall to some of my favorite gifs to lighten the mood. Please don't think it means I'm not taking this seriously, it's merely a way to keep this blog post feeling a little lighter.
Editing is not my strong suit. I know the grammar rules - many thanks to a wonderful editor I had for a year who crammed them into my head - and when to apply them. Unfortunately, proofreading for me is an incredible challenge. I'm legally blind thanks to a combination of genetics and a few rough head strikes into the ground as a cheerleader for half my childhood. That makes editing on a screen considerably harder, because even with glasses, the characters have a nasty habit of blending together. I've known this, and did my best to print out stories when I could to ensure I was editing by hand. In addition, I struggle with dyslexic tendencies. It's harder for me to see typos, and to my husband's amusement, I sometimes even struggle to read words and pronounce them silly - like calling "broccoli" "bro-col-lie" and not realizing I'd done it.
I'm aware of it. I've worked to make my drafts as clean as possible. Only, they're not as clean as they should be. There's typos littered here and there, extra words and even accidentally dropped punctuation from typing at 83wpm. I didn't know this. For years I had no idea they were as riddled as they actually are. Editors never said anything too harsh, and I had no way of realizing the number of red marks for typos was out of the ordinary - mostly because some authors don't self-edit and editors are used to a high number of typos now (not my words).
My journey started on a rough note. I was 24 and still seeing the actual affects of my editing issues. I was with a publisher. Unfortunately, the editor was not one suited for editing someone with my issues, and many readers contacted me about editing issues as books were often edited the day or two before release. The publisher was wonderful and set me up with a fantastic editor. I don't want to call her out and embarrass her, but if she's reading this, she knows how much she means to me and my career.
I learned tricks to edit "cleaner." She taught me grammar rules I'd never heard of complete with ways to remember them so I never fall prey to "try and" do anything again. We worked to make my sentences stronger and my style sharper because my voice was already pretty firmed up. My confidence was restored because I was doing the best work I could and knew she had the skillset to catch the errors.
Fast-forward a year and a few months. Life took hold and my wonderful editor could no longer be my editor. I struggled with a choice to stay with my publisher or move onto self publishing where I could personally vet editors and find ones used to working with people like me - because no matter how hard I try, there's always going to be a bit less polish with my drafts.
I've bounced from editor-to-editor trying to find a good fit. Some simply proved they were "editors" because they thought they could be. Others cost upwards of $500 an edit. I grabbed programs, found beta readers and did what I could to eliminate issues before editors took on my stories. I thought everything was hunky dory. Each book got a self-edit, a content edit and a line edit. Then I read it again - sometimes on audio but not always since becoming a mom makes it harder to listen to audio since the kiddo is either awake and running around or asleep and I need to be quiet because he's a light sleeper like mom.
The last few books have been with the same editor. I found someone who I worked well with, had decent rates and turn times, and seemed to be a good match. Then the negative "edits" reviews came in. The hurtful kind where it talks about going back to school or letting someone else write my awesome ideas. I shrugged it off, so many people think they are perfect at editing, but in fact, don't have strong grasp on it.
A little bit ago I picked up a paperback and started to read. Low and behold I found typos. Not 1 or 2, but 10 - in two chapters. Now, this is my fault. I do not blame the editor in full. I am responsible for what I put out into the world. I am the one with final say. A few times I've tried to ask friends to proofread, but they never come back with anything because they end up reading the story, not looking at the details. So, I got complacent. I thought everything was fine. Yes, the editor should have paid more attention - it's what they're paid for - but it still falls on me when the day ends as a self-published author.
To start, I want to apologize for not realizing there were fundamental flaws with my work. There's no excuse and no apology eloquent enough for producing subpar work.
To all the reader who've stuck by my side and continued to read when the editing floundered, thank you. My dream was to touch readers with fantastical stories and I appreciate those of you who have continued to fall into them despite flaws.
So what does this mean, what is the point of this long, downer post? It means I'm going to be changing my editor and my release schedule. The books will be written, self-edited, editor edited and left alone. I'll be putting them into paperbacks (bc it's cheaper and less messy than printing 200+ pages) and editing them before releasing. Releases will be further apart because the process will take longer, but also the math behind it. A cover costs typically $250-$300. An editor will run me about $500. I make (wait for it) about $30 a book during release month and a few spare dollars here and there. So, if you've done the math, you can see I'm an author because I love it, not because it's raining in money. And I will continue on this path, at least for a little while longer.
I don't have an updated release schedule yet, but I will soon. For now, I'm going to take things slowly, one book at a time on released novels and then worry about releases moving forward. This doesn't affect anything for April or May, but may see an affect in June. Thank you all for standing by me, for reading this gigantic blog post, and for being awesome.
2018 was committed to boxsets to gain new friends and readers. I loved it so much I couldn't help but throw my name into the hat of authors for just one for the 2019 year! So without further ado, I am happy to announce I have a story in the upcoming set Shadows and Sorcery! Check out this beauty and grab your preorder for just 99¢ here!
Remember in 2017 when I attempted to launch Hexed in New Orleans series but ran out of time because the characters demanded a full length novel instead of a novella? Well, I'm happy to announce that project is my focus for 2019 and it will kick off with a prequel novel that sets up the brand new paranormal vs human world. Say hello to a stunning new cover!
The world is awake – vampires, witches, werewolves and more are real and outed in the human community. Fear runs deep, and a set of rules instituted by a small council are all that holds a fragile balance.
Ivy Lancaster knows the rules. Be prepared, be efficient and get out. That didn’t make going to council meetings more enjoyable. As the Witch Elect, she had far better ways to help her community stay at peace with humans than sitting on monthly board meetings. Too bad the Council of Supernaturals didn’t care.
One thing makes the meetings bearable.
Elijah Vikander has no love for the Council of Supernaturals. He was alpha, wolves answered to him, he didn’t answer to others. He could stop going, force the wolves to elect a beta member of the Crescent Pack, but then he couldn’t see the enchanting off-limits witch.
When a group of warlocks threaten to tear the proclamation down and take over the city, pairings are made to track and take the men down. Ivy and Elijah are forced into a coupling that will either destroy their worlds, or save the humans.
Once Hexed Twice Shy is a fantastic book 1, but the series needed something extra - the world grew so large I needed a way to introduce readers to it before I dropped them into the craziness of a hexed witch and her ex-boyfriend cop. What will this novel have? Secret romance, time travel and a curse that could end the whole world. Stay tuned for more information on the series as it's how I plan to round out my 2019 year - that's right, all four books in one year!
I’m not really a resolutions kind of gal. I think they’re wonderful, but I want to live life to the best and make the best changes for myself all the time – not because I randomly got an idea and wrote it down. However, I keep seeing people talking about words they’ve selected to live by, and I think that sounds like a wonderful new thing to try. So here goes . . .
For 2019, my word to live by is VISIBILITY.
I feel invisible on a daily basis. Not in a depressed variety, but in an actual “I don’t think I’m noticed” way. On social media, my posts are often left ignored – giveaway posts where I’m offering something free for just writing “yes” or something of that nature. Yes, not everyone is going to engage with every post, but when I see others with multiple entries, lots of engagement and fun social media following, it gets to be a bummer. It lends to making me feel invisible.
I’m always on my author account. I post, I share, I engage on other people’s posts. Yes, I have an author one because I write under my maiden name and wanted a place for my readers to engage with me beyond my page. I wanted an account where I could use my married name as well because most people I meet in my day-to-day know me as Lexi Bissonnette, not Lexi Ostrow. Even still, on my profile, if I post book-related stuff, out of over 1000 friends, maybe three are interested in what I have to say.
I send newsletters that are almost 100% unopened – even when the subject line indicates I’m giving something away for free. No, I don’t spam. I send one out every Sunday – which I note on the sign-up form. I tweet with little to no engagement, and my Instagram is largely a vast empty void.
Yet, even with FB algorithms, I don’t seem to be the fun person that people want to engage with or the author anyone is interested in getting free reads from. Now, this isn’t a pity post, it’s me explaining where my word to live by came from. Yes, it’s of course possible I’m boring, and my books suck – but I’d like to hop it’s not that.
So in 2019, I’m going to focus on making myself more visible. More Facebook engagement, back on the blogging train – because I say that every year I’m going to be more accountable this time – more teaming up with other authors whether it’s box sets, release parties or something entirely new and finally, more time with readers at events.
Did you make it this far through my borderline whine/rant? If so, I want to start your new year off with a free read! Any ebook from my list, you name it and email firstname.lastname@example.org, and it’s yours!
Happy New Year’s Eve – now comment here, what’s your word to hold yourself to for 2019?
So I tried really hard last year to blog monthly . . . I didn't realize how incredibly HARD that was going to be! I had an infant, a new city, a full time job and a social life. Blogging was hard. Why was it hard? Because I had no clue if people were reading it. Sure, I can look at stats, but that just means someone opened the page and scrolled down. I didn't see any comments, and it let me slip into a "boo hoo me" moment.
It's a horrible excuse, but if I'm honest, it's rough putting yourself out there and not knowing if you're getting your links out in the world. And since I know my books reach people, I dove headfirst into writing my stories and focusing on that. I'm back now - because I miss blogging and communicating with potential readers! So as a mea culpa for everything, simply comment on this blog post to win a free copy of my newest release!
Now, that I've apologized and enticed you with a freebie, let's talk releases! I used 2017 largely as an experimental year. I was apart of multiple boxsets, wanting to reach new readers as well as partner with some of my favorite authors. Seriously, boxsets are the coolest way to get to know an author because you learn about their process and get a free read
I am so excited that I did because I learned so much from the process and gained so many new author friends. If I reached even a few new readers, that's for sure a win! So what is 2018 about, now that we're almost 2 months in? Well, it's a combination year. I still have a few box sets to participate in. I have series that I KNOW need my attention and new series to start. So without further ado, let the release schedule roll!
While the goal was to focus on open series and finish them, I did have a few stories slam their way to the front, pushing my two favorite series out of the publication list this year. But don't worry - the Guardians and Alliance stories are outlined and WILL be told.
**Cogs & Corsets - RT steampunk set, information not yet set
**Clockwork Wings - April 3,2018
** Gaslights & Graves - featuring City of War - May 18th, 2018
** A Heavenly Kind of Love - July 9, 2018 to coincide with an in bookstore event!!!
** Historical set - featuring Weaved in Time - August 14, 2018
**Cogs & Corsets - RT steampunk set, information not yet set
**Clockwork Wings - April 3,2018
**Gaslights & Graves - featuring City of Light and Steam - May 18th, 2018
Hopefully, with my little man getting older, I'll have more time to myself to maybe even sneak something else in.
So don't forget, comment away for your free ebook; no limit on the number of winners. Catch you all on the flip side . . . aka the next blog. Or keep in touch sooner, head on over to my street team!
Who am I kidding? The shock has absolutely NOT worm off, and I'm totally okay with that. After a morning of refreshing the list over and over, yesterday around noon CST I saw the most amazing post in my box set group.
I hadn't even read any further - my heart stopped pounding and I am not even sure I was breathing. I didn't get even to check the post myself because I saw this pop up before I could look away from the screen:
BOOM! Just like that, I was a USA Today Bestselling Author. I'd love to say I took this professionally. That would be the biggest lie I've ever told. I jumped out of my office chair and went shouting "We did it! We did it! We did it!" all the way up the stairs.By the time I reached my room at the top of the stairs Aidan (my 11 month old) was sitting up giggling and grinning like a loon. I picked him up and tossed him a little like he loves while still chanting and he just kee grinning and laughing. That moment with him, seeing him so happy purely because I was, was almost better than the list. Almost.
I was so blessed to be invited to work in the boxset, but even more blessed with the friendships that were made along the way. 19 other women and I share a bond that will never be broken, and a friendship that was only made stronger by the news of all our hard work and countless effort paying off in the most wonderful of ways. We've talked non-stop, celebrated and been generally glued to conversations together more so than before it happened.
So what am I doing now? I'm getting ready to do a HUGE sale on my books. To be the first to know about it, sign up for my newsletter. There's much more coming from me this year, and I feel this amazing honor only solidified my drive to turn out the best work possible. So keep sticking with me on this journey! My next solo release is June 25, 2017 and it's the next book in my Guardians series, Forgotten Worlds. I'm so excited to give you Jameson's story - because he hasn't shut up since I met him when I was in 7th grade!
See you all soon!
Stay up to date with any announcements and just general posts here!