Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's In a Number?

Please welcome Shelley Bell this morning as she talks about What's In A Number?

When I joined my twelve-step program a couple of years ago, my sponsor told me to stop weighing myself. Too many people, including myself, rely on a number to determine our self-worth. She was right and I stopped. What did it matter what I weighed if I was physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy?
Weight isn’t the only number we obsess about these days. I don’t know about you, but I check my Amazon and Barnes and Noble book rank at least once a day. Sadly, I’ve noticed my moods are affected with the ups and downs of my ranking. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten good reviews and accomplished something that I never dreamed possible. I’m focusing on the number. What does that number represent to me? It’s more than merely an indicator of book sales. To me, it represents a long ago buried anxiety of mine- the need to be popular.

Middle school was a difficult time for me as an adolescent. The pressure to be popular ran rampant throughout my network of friends. With a bad haircut, braces, thirty extra pounds and acne, I had no chance of being popular. By the end of seventh grade, most of my friends dropped me like a bad habit. I found a new group, kids who didn’t care about designer labels. They accepted me, bad skin and all.
In high school, I found my clique. We were the theater and choir geeks, not much different than the characters you see on “Glee.” Popularity was irrelevant. I had enough friends and boys to date to keep me busy. 

As an adult, I thought I had outgrown the issue of popularity. Then I entered the world of publishing. All of a sudden, I’m worried about people liking me. Worried about what people think of me. What is my Klout? What is my page ranking? How many Twitter followers do I have? How many likes do I have on my Facebook Page? What is my Alexa score? How many books have I sold? 

These ranks, numbers and scores shouldn’t matter to me, but they do. These days, being an author isn’t just about writing and selling books. Now, we have to worry about what I call the likeability factor. Agents and traditional publishers don’t want to take chances on newcomers unless they can prove they can sell books. They have to have a “platform.” I thought only nonfiction authors were required to have one, but I soon learned that I was wrong.  Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote that authors can build their platform through speaking to large audiences, having high profile visibility in the mainstream media or having a strong internet identity. In other words, they’re expected to be popular. It’s not enough to have talent anymore. Writers must further their own careers by becoming a household name before they even publish a book.

An author’s popularity isn’t based on reality, but on the audience’s perceived image of the author. The crazy thing is that the majority of writers I know are introverts, people who rather curl up on the couch with a good book rather than schmooze with the masses.  Instead of working on their novel, they’re blogging and tweeting and creating their public image. I didn’t play the game in school and I’m not so sure I can do it now. I’ve struggled too long and too hard to accept that I don’t have the control. Nor do I want it. I handed it over to my higher power over two years ago. Though it may hinder my career, I won’t give in to my urge to play the popularity game. I’m going to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I’m going to stay true to myself and not worry about my numbers.

After all, what’s in a number?

Shelly Bell received her Bachelors of Arts in Social Work and a Certificate in Women Studies from Michigan State University and her Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center. Practicing law since 1997, she specializes in corporate, environmental and employment law as In-House Legal Counsel for a scrap metal company in Detroit. On the side, she dabbles in horseracing and crematory law. 

She and her husband have two children and reside in the Metro-Detroit area, where she reads on her Kindle each night when her family falls asleep.
A recovering compulsive overeater, she wrote A Year to Remember to share her strength and hope with compulsive overeaters and food addicts everywhere.  A member of Romance Writers of America, she writes both women’s fiction and paranormal romance.

 A Year to Remember is available as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble , and Soul Mate Publishing (for iBooks and other e-readers) It will be released in print this summer. 

Follow Shelly at her website and blog at And though she proclaims not to care about popularity, she can be found on Twitter as ShellyBell987, Facebook as ShellyBellBooks, Goodreads, Shelfari, Triberr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

So Much To Learn

I have wrapped up my blog tour for Crashing Hearts and I must say I had a blast doing it.  I met some great authors and readers in the process.

As I am promoting my book, I am finding there is quite a learning curve with the promotion process. Where do you start?  As you know I started with my blog tour.  I have used social media, .i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to help get the word out there. Word of mouth is great as well. There have been some reviews posted on, which is exciting for me to see.

As I continue on the journey, I have become more active in Goodreads.  This is a site for readers and authors. You are able to review other books, have people review yours and more. At this juncture, I am involved in a giveaway for Crashing Hearts. The link below will get you there if you are interested in trying to win a free book.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway

        Crashing Hearts by Emma Leigh Reed


          Crashing Hearts

          by Emma Leigh Reed            Giveaway ends February 20, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
      Enter to win

What have you found as authors to be good promotional tools, or as readers what would bring a book to your attention?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome Morgan Wyatt

Please give a warm welcome to Morgan Wyatt who joins us this morning.

Who Writes Erotic Romance Anyhow?

As a Catholic school teacher, I penned serious novels about abused women escaping their abusive mates to carve out a life for themselves and their children. It all sounded rather noble in print, but it wasn’t riveting enough to get published, although an agent did pick it up and went immediately out of business. I am not sure the two were connected. Getting published always managed to elude me.

There was one woman in my former RWA group that managed to get everything she wrote published. She wrote erotic novels, some of the other members whispered as if it were a secret. No secret since she dressed like a character from the cover of her books in a major push-up bra that peeked out from a top barely resting on her shoulders. With her flamboyant hair and tiny stilettos, she became our own regional Dolly Parton.  In my mind, she was the epitome of an erotic romance writer.

Can’t say I knew exactly what an erotic romance writer wrote, but I knew it was hotter than anything I ever wrote. My stories pounded out of the gritty reality of day to day life were less than slinky. They didn’t enter a room on a cloud of perfume and promise, instead they clomped in with a chip on their shoulder.  I was that angry white woman writer.

Something unusual happened. I kept going to workshops, conferences and Nationals and met tons of writers, even ones who confessed to writing erotica. Their ordinariness amazed me. I met school teachers, nurses, grandmothers, and stay-at-home moms that wrote such steamy, and complex tales that I had to ask a few for explanations of how certain things were possible. Sometimes I would argue that they weren’t, but they’d assure me they were. I never asked how they knew.

My image of the erotic romance writer evolved from my flamboyant friend to a middle-aged woman, a mom, a teacher, maybe even someone like myself.  I played with writing hot love scenes, and felt a little silly for my efforts. My first success came when I sent a snippet from a story I wrote to PLAYGIRL Magazine. They published it in their twins edition. I got paid and got a free copy for my efforts, which did not please my husband at that time. I still have the magazine, but not the husband.

Even with that small success, I did not consider myself a writer of steamy scenes until a fateful submission call from Secret Cravings for hot cougar novels. Why not? I gave it a try with my first erotic novel, RELUCTANT COUGAR, whose main character is a fortyish woman who is pursued by a younger man she meets at a funeral.

I followed that novel with my current one, CUB IN BLUE, which details a woman getting passionately involved with a young police officer wounded in the line of duty. I still have another one coming out in February, PUPPY LOVE, followed by two more in the works. Suddenly, I am an erotic romance novelist.
Have I changed to suit my new genre? Not too much, although I am less the angry white woman. Now, I am more the smiling author. Partly because Secret Cravings took a chance on me, but mainly because I took a page from one of my novels and winked at a younger guy, and now I’m marrying him.
What is your image of an erotic romance novelist?
Two lucky commenters will get their choice of either RELUCTANT COUGAR or CUB IN BLUE book.
Also go to to win Godiva chocolate and a strand of cultured pearls. The answer to the contest question is 9 ½ Weeks. Good Luck.