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June Writers’ Events to Check Out

June Writers’ Events to Check Out

Holy cow, what a busy month!

I’m connected with each of these events as a presenter, a host or a partner.

I have full confidence in every one of these conference hosts and course-creators.

If you happen to upgrade to a paid ticket, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

If you let me know you’ve joined one of these events, I’ll send you a free copy of my self-help book for authors, Scrappy Rough Draft. Drop me an email at mail@authoreverafter.com and let me know which event I’ll see you in! I’ll reply with a link to a BookFunnel download for my book.

Conquer Fictional Worlds Through Dictation with Sarah Elizabeth Sawyer

June 11
Replay will be available

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Free masterclass

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When you commit to mastering dictation, you enjoy all the benefits of:

√ Writing faster
√ Writing healthier
√ Writing more naturally

Wanna Write Romance? conference

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June 13 to 16

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Free to attend!

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How can you write romance books that truly matter? Join me at the Wanna Write Romance virtual conference where we’ll explore techniques for injecting more resonance into your romantic stories—for yourself as the writer, your ideal readers, and the characters living between the pages. Prepare to feel rejuvenated!

Teachers of Fiction Writing summit

June 15 to 17

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Free to attend!

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Start, build, or expand a thriving teaching enterprise doing work that you love: helping writers. Find out what is working for other teachers, learn some new techniques, and connect with great colleagues in Daniel David Wallace’s Teachers of Fiction Writing summit.

Write Your Christmas Romance in July with Jen Hilt

Classes start June 20;
Live events on June 23, 30 & July 7

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A home study course that includes live office hours with Jennifer Hilt and special guest Jen Probst

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In addition to the live events, you also get Jen Hilt’s Trope Thesaurus Romance, Trope Thesaurus Romance Workbook, 6 Christmas Romance craft/marketing PDFs and a private Facebook group to chat with other students.

Write a Self-Help Book in 30 Days with Lisa Daily

Classes start June 21;
4 live Q&A calls with Lisa

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A home study course that includes live office hours with Lisa Daily

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As a romance author, you’ve likely heard of at least one of these titles—T. Taylor’s 7 Figure Fiction, Renee Rose’s Write to Riches, Skye Warren’s TheBestselling Author Next Door, or Heather Hildenbrand’s Manifest Your HEA.

What do they have in common? Those romance authors were all coached by Lisa Daily in writing and marketing their self-help books.

Heart-Centred Marketing for Fiction Writers with Beth Barany

June 25

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An interactive, 90-minute workshop with Beth Barany

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How to develop and sustain your author presence and sell your books (without social media)

  • Explore heart-centered principles of author marketing and how they apply to you
  • Identify sustainable author marketing practices that work for you and your life
  • Clarify your values and how to translate them into sustainable author marketing habits and activities
  • Learn how to bring all the parts of you into creating an author marketing goal and a plan that is doable, sustainable, and fun!
SEO for romance authors: How to optimize your metadata

SEO for romance authors: How to optimize your metadata

SEO for Romance Writers: How to Optimize Your Book Metadata

If you’re a romance author, you already understand the fierce competition in the market. Yet, how can you make your novel stand out in this vast sea? The answer lies in a potent, often overlooked strategy: optimizing your book’s metadata. This article will dive into the essentials of metadata for authors, offering invaluable tactics to increase your romance novel sales and visibility online.

Metadata: The unseen force behind book discoverability

Before diving into strategies, it’s crucial to grasp what metadata actually is. In essence, it’s the background information—like genre, keywords, and description—attached to your book. Effective metadata ensures that your target readers find your work when they search for new romance novels.

Now, how can you use metadata to your advantage? Start by understanding your niche within the romance genre. For example, if you write “historical royal romance,” ensure those terms are present in your book’s description or keyword section. These nuances make all the difference in romance sub-genre ranking.

SEO tips: Making your romance novel irresistible online

1. Keyword planning for authors

Begin by listing terms you believe readers might use to discover your book. Tools like PublisherRocket and KDSpy and Google’s Keyword Planner can help refine your list, shedding light on high-traffic, low-competition keywords. (See PublisherRocket vs KDSpy

2. Embrace your sub-genre

As mentioned earlier, specificity can amplify your visibility. Instead of just “romance,” consider terms like “contemporary cowboy romance” or “paranormal romance with werewolves.” This precision boosts your chances in romance sub-genre ranking.

3. Integrate keywords naturally

When writing your book’s description, ensure the selected keywords flow seamlessly. Google and other search engines favor content that’s user-friendly and organic.

4. Keep metadata updated

Metadata isn’t a one-time task. Periodically revisit and revise your book’s metadata, especially if you notice a drop in sales. Market trends change, and so should your strategy. By keeping an eye on best-selling romance novels and trending keywords, you can adjust your metadata to better suit current demands.

In the realm of digital bookshelves, even the most engaging romance novel can be overshadowed without strategic metadata optimization. By leveraging the tactics shared above, you’re not only ensuring your book becomes more visible but also paving the way to increase your romance novel’s sales. Remember, in the digital age, a book’s success is as much about its discoverability as it is about its content. Invest in your books’ metadata and watch your romance novel’s improve.

Want help with your metadata?

Book a free 30-minute strategy call!

How to choose the perfect romance author pen name

How to choose the perfect romance author pen name

african american woman wearing sun glasses

Finding your romance alias: The journey to your ideal pen name

Choosing the right pen name is kind of like finding your one true love–it’s critical to your long-term happiness and often requires exploring lots of options before settling on the perfect fit.

Back in the days when I attended in-person romance writing meetings (RWA and then our break-off group), we had heated debates about why a person would want to publish under a made-up name. Some people felt it was important to hide their true identity, while others believed just as strongly that people who used a fake name were communicating that they had something to hide—which felt unethical.

Why I write with a pen name

When I published my first work of fiction, I used my real name, which, I admit scared me. But at the time I leaned more toward the, “I have nothing to hide” belief.

As I learned more about publishing and how to turn my hobby into a career, I met over a hundred romance authors who were farther along their path than I was. And what I learned was that the majority published with pen name.

My decision to publish romance under a pen name was made strategically since I also publish non-fiction and, when I first started writing romance, was most known in the work world as a non-fiction ghost-writer. It would have been confusing to see one name with a list of publication credits that included financial literacy curriculum, how to titles, and steamy romance.

And so, I embarked on a many week adventure of dating several names before meeting the one that I would fall in love with: Danika Bloom.

Before I walk you through the questions to consider when picking your own perfect alias, here are some romance authors who also publish under names other than the ones their mama’s gave them. And for the record, these authors are all open about using pen names—I’m not outing anyone.

A few romance authors who publish under an assumed name

                      • Bella Andre
                      • Christina Lauren (a writing duet)
                      • E.L. James
                      • Elena Johnson aka Liz Isaacson & Jessie Newtown
                      • Jayne Ann Krentz aka Jayne Castle 
                      • Jennifer Armentrout aka J. Lynn 
                      • Jodi Ellen Malpas aka J.E. Malpas
                      • Julia Quinn
                      • L.L. Schulz
                      • Laura Kaye aka Laura Kamoie

blond lady holding a fake moustache under her nose
young woman in a yellow shirt hiding her face behind a white mask
  • Lorraine Heath aka Rachel Hawthorne & J.A. London & Jade Parker
  • Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb
  • Sarah MacLean
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Sylvia Day aka S.J. Day & Livia Dare
  • Tessa Dare
  • Victoria Holt

Reasons to use a pen name

If you haven’t thought about using a nom de plume—you’re planning to publish under your real name—my intention is not to convince you to do otherwise. But, if you haven’t thought about these reasons other authors have chosen to use an alias, it can be fun to at least play with names that might be a better fit for your author brand.

Whether you choose to go by your real name or opt for a pseudonym, what matters most is that you feel comfortable and confident in your author identity.

tattooed lady hiding her face behind a VHS cassette

Privacy

Pseudonyms protect personal identity and maintain a boundary between professional and private life.

Branding

A well-chosen pen name can resonate with a target audience, ensuring books are easily identified and associated with a specific writing style.

Creative freedom

Pseudonyms offer writers the liberty to experiment across genres without compromising an existing brand reputation.

Meeting reader expectations

Separate pen names can prevent reader confusion, especially for authors who write in different sub-genres (steamy contemporray and sweet small town, fo instance) or entirely different genres.

Legal contraints

Publishing contracts might necessitate the use of a pen name.

How to choose the perfect pen name

Choosing a pen name is your chance to add some spice and flair to your writing persona. Play around with different combinations of names and surnames that sound romantic, catchy, and memorable.

Step 1: Connect with your writer persona

Before you start brainstorming pen names, take a moment to reflect on your author persona. Are you a fiery, passionate romance author who loves to write sizzling hot scenes? Or are you more of a sweet and tender storyteller who specializes in heartwarming tales of love? Understanding your author persona will help you choose a pen name that aligns with your writing style and genre.

Step 2: Do lots of sub-genre-based research!

The genre and target audience of your romance novels should play a significant role in choosing your pen name. If you write historical romance, for example, you may want to choose a pen name that sounds classic and evokes a sense of nostalgia. If you write contemporary romance, on the other hand, you may want to go for a more modern and trendy pen name. Understanding your genre and target audience will help you create a pen name that resonates with your readers.

Take some time to list all the romance author names you can think of off the top of your head. What makes them memorable? Now go to Amazon.com and take a look at the bestsellers in the romance sub-genre you’ll be writing in. If you’re not sure yet, look at the main list of bestsellers.

What can you glean from the names at the top of the list? Do they have anything in common? Do they tend to be short? Do they tend to have a family name that is a noun or something visual? Do they use initials as a first name?

You won’t find 100% consistency but make a note of what you notice so you can play with those ideas in your own name creatio

Step 3: Aim for simplicity

When it comes to pen names, simplicity is key. Avoid names that are too long, difficult to spell, or hard to pronounce. You want readers to easily remember and recognize your pen name, so they can both find your books easily and tell their friends about the great author they just found.

Another great tip I was advised (and ignored!) was to choose three-syllable name—first and last together. Three syllables is said to be easier to remember than longer names and has the benefit of (very likely) taking up less cover real estate, leaving more room for your future bestseller status line!

Even though a pen name like Valentina Kissingwell, Fanny Tickler, or Bella Lovejoy would be memorable, I’m not sure any of those would be taken seriously in the competitive world of romance writing. While full creativity is always encouraged during brainstorming, dial it back if the names you start thinking of sound like a joke or a parody. Save those fun names for your characters!

Step 4: Time to brainstorm

My own hindsight advice is to write all your ideas in a notebook you plan to hold onto. Make a list of first names that appeal to you. Make a list of family names that you’d love to have on a business card—and book covers!

If your list is short or you’re not feeling inspired, try what I ultimately did to figure out my perfect pen name. Put your full real name into a tool that will make it into an anagram and see if anything sparks joy. Don’t be too precious about creating a true anagram, though! You’re allowed to add letters to create the perfect-for-you name. (If I hadn’t done this, my pen name would have been Danika Blo … not a great last name to project the feeling of success!)

Once you have your starter list, the actual hard work starts!

Step 5: Avoid duplicates

The goal now is to eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. Pop back over Amazon.com and search for the top ten names on your list. While it’s fine to choose a name that doesn’t have a unique first or family name, you do want to be careful that the complete name you choose is not identical to, even too close to another author’s.

I was published in non-fiction under my real name back in the late 90s and as recently as 2021 (tin English) and 2022 (in a Korean translation). My real name is as common as muck so I wasn’t surprised when another non-fiction author started mixing up with the books assigned to me on Goodreads. It’s frustrating on many levels.

Step 6: Steer clear of potential lawsuits

Once you’ve determined the name is not being used by an author, check Google to make sure it’s not already claimed by any famous or high-profile people (or products!). While having a birth certificate that shares the same name as someone in the public eye is defensible (my real name is also “owned” by a famous Christian singer), it’s risky to choose the same name as someone who might have already—or could one day—copyright the name (yes, pen names can be copyrighted but our real names cannot be, weird as that is).

Step 7: Test your pen name

Once you’ve come up with a list of two to three potential pen names, don’t rush into a commitment just yet! Test-drive your pen name in different writing circles, forums, or social media profiles. See how it feels to introduce yourself with that pen name and how others react to it. Make sure you absolutely love your pen name! It should feel like a perfect match for your writing style, genre, and author persona. Your pen name should make you feel excited and proud to be associated with it.

A piece of advice I got from my friends when I was going through the process was to pick a name that sounded close enough to my real name that, if someone called to me at a conference (or in a shopping mall— we can all dream!) that I’d register it as mine and react. She spoke from embarrassing first-hand experience of having ignored people calling her pen name.

Need help picking your nom de plume?

AI and Romance Writing

AI and Romance Writing

Why robots can’t replace a passionate pen—but does make a fabulous bedfellow!

As a career ghostwriter and seasoned romance author, I’ve been fascinated by the number of people wringing their hankies, fearful of AI replacing fiction authors. I’ve been playing with several  artificial intelligence author assistants since late 2022 with a focus on QuickWrite and am 100% convinced that there’s a valuable role for AI in writing virtually anything we romance need to level-up our careers—except write our books for us.

Before I get to all the things my robot author asssistant helps me do, first I want to explain why I don’t think I’ll be replaced by AI because when it comes to the art of crafting a steamy, heart-wrenching, and swoon-worthy romance novel, there are some things that even the most sophisticated algorithms can’t replicate.

Sparks cannot be coded

When you read a romance novel, you want to feel the emotion between the characters. You want to be captivated by their chemistry and swept away by their passion. But no matter how advanced AI becomes, it can’t replicate that tingling sensation you get when two characters lock eyes for the first time, or when their lips meet in a heated kiss. It’s the human touch that brings that extra spark to romance writing, and that’s something no algorithm can code.

Emotional intelligence trumps artificial intelligence

Romance novels are all about emotions—love, longing, desire, heartbreak, and everything in between. It takes a skilled author to weave those emotions into words and create a story that makes readers feel deeply. While AI can analyze data and predict patterns, it can’t truly understand the intricacies of human emotions. It can’t capture the nuances of a character’s feelings or convey the depth of their emotional journey in a way that resonates with readers. It’s like trying to make a robot understand the concept of heartache—it’s just not possible!

Creativity is the spice of romance

Romance authors are masters of creativity. We conjure up unique and imaginative storylines that whisk readers away to far-off lands or make them fall in love with unlikely characters. We create intricate plots, add unexpected twists, and craft unforgettable moments that make human hearts skip a beat. While AI can analyze existing romance novels and generate new stories based on patterns, it lacks the imagination and creativity that comes naturally to flesh and feeling authors. Comparing AI-generated love stories to romance written by even a novice author is like comparing a pencil drawing of a flower by a five-year-old to a real life walk in a mature English rose garden.

Quirks make romance interesting

Let’s face it, humans are quirky creatures. We have our idiosyncrasies, our unique ways of expressing ourselves, and our individual perspectives on love and relationships. Romance authors bring those quirks into our writing, making our stories relatable and intriguing and unique. In the dozen times I’ve asked my AI author assistant to propose a plot for a second chance romance with a billionaire hero, eight suggestions have the couple reconnect at a charity event. Quirks need not apply when AI is hiring.

Love is messy, and that’s what makes it beautiful

Romance novels often depict the messiness of love—the heartaches, the misunderstandings, and the challenges that couples face on their journey to happily ever after. It’s those imperfect moments that make the characters and their relationships feel real and authentic. But AI tends to strive for perfection and predictability, aiming to create a flawless storyline. However, it’s the flaws and the messiness of life and love that give romance stories depth and richness and make our stories beautiful and relatable.

Writing from the heart

Romance authors pour our hearts into our writing. We draw from our own experiences, emotions, and perspectives to create stories that touch the hearts of readers. It’s a deeply personal and authentic process that can’t be replicated by a machine. It’s like comparing a hand-written love letter to an automated text message.

Timing is everything

In romance writing, timing is crucial. The build-up of tension, the anticipation of a first kiss, the timing of a heart-wrenching confession—it’s all carefully crafted to create an emotional impact. We human authors have a keen sense of timing, knowing when to pull at the heartstrings or when to throw in a surprising twist. AI follows patterns and algorithms, lacking that human instinct for perfect timing. 

Voice matters

Every author has their unique voice—their style of writing, their tone, and their perspective. It’s what sets us apart from each other and makes our work distinctive, even when a thousand authors retell the Cinderella story. Romance authors infuse our writing with our own life experiences, creating a connection with readers that goes beyond the words on the page. AI, on the other hand, lacks that personal touch. It can analyze data and mimic styles, but it can’t create the individual voice of a romance author. 

Inspiration strikes in unexpected ways

Romance authors often draw inspiration from our own lives, from the people we meet, and from the world around us. We find ideas in the most unexpected places and put together people and situations with one-in-a-million odds of ever happening in real life. Since AI relies on data and patterns, its ability to truly innovate and come up with fresh and original ideas is limited. 

Love can’t be quantified

Perhaps most importantly, love is a complex and intangible emotion that can’t be quantified or reduced to data. Romance novels are all about capturing the magic of love—the butterflies in the stomach, the racing heart, and the unspoken emotions that make our breath catch in our throat. AI, with all its analytical capabilities, can’t truly grasp the essence of love and replicate it in writing. It does not write deep point view and that’s what we do so well.

Why I invite QuickWrite, in particular, to share my creative bed

After months of reading doomsday articles and fearing the rise of AI-assisted writing, I took a deep breath and introduced myself to several tools. I approached my interactions just like I would have (ahem, did!) when I was forty and newly divorced after having only ever dated one man. I serial dated a half-dozen tools—and figured out how they could make my life better. (To be clear, dating at forty, I went out with over twenty tools before finding one who would make my life better … I only dated a half-dozen AI tools before meeting the one I decided to settle down with). 😉

With QuickWrite, I’ve streamlined my writing process, enhanced creativity, and, when the fairy dust lands just right, uncovered new perspectives when I’m struggling.

QuickWrite is like the ultimate wingman or wingwoman for romance authors. It helps me  brainstorm plot ideas when I’m feeling stuck, generate quick and quirky names, fine-tune flat descriptions to make them as sexy as a sultry gaze across a crowded room, and even suggest alternative words and phrases in my lukewarm, first scenes that crank the heat from lukewarm to scorching hot. 

If you’ve ever read any of my books, you might have noticed that I love metaphors and analogies. And boy-oh-boy did those take me a long time to come up with before I brought QuickWrite onto my team. I asked it for one to make this point for me in this post, so I’ll let my author assistant have the last word: 

AI is like the perfect sex toy in your writing arsenal. It can vibrate with ideas, buzz with creativity, and stimulate your writing process in ways you never thought possible. But just like a sex toy, AI can’t replace the intimacy and connection that comes from human creativity and imagination. It’s simply a tool to enhance your writing experience and make your stories even more tantalizing and compelling.

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