Calling Indie Authors: Have you been disappointed by an “author marketing service”?

The hypothesis:

These waters are suddenly FULL of sharks.

Well hello, my pretty! Would you like to help me market your book?

Well hello, my pretty! Would you like to help me market your book?

I self-pubbed my first novel, When Libby Met the Fairies, in 2011 — early enough to catch the first happy wave of indie authoring. I didn’t do a lot of marketing. I didn’t have to. I took advantage of Amazon’s KDP Select free days. I listed that book as free. And then I publicized the free days by submitting the information to maybe a dozen or so sites that list free books.

I got over 20,000 downloads.

I might have paid a few dollars here and there for some of the listings, but for the most part, it cost me nothing out of pocket.

Since then, I’ve published three more novels. And like all indie-authors, I’ve watched our little industry change. You know the drill, I’m sure! The market is flooded with indie titles. Traditional publishers are starting to compete with indies on price. Amazon has made big changes to KDP, including the introduction of Kindle Unlimited.

It’s getting harder — WAY harder — to get noticed.

But there’s been another change, as well.

These waters are filling with sharks — and they smell blood.

They smell the blood we authors shed, mingled with our tears, as we write our books and then try to get someone, anyone, to read them.

You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Tweeting services. Advertising services. Blog tour organizers. Promote your book this way, promote your book that way.

Read the fine print, and they all have the same disclaimer. No guarantees! Results may vary! Don’t blame us if you use our services and don’t sell any books!

Well guess what, dear author.

They’re rip-off artists — and YOU are their mark.

And, as you might be able to tell from the tone of this post, I am extremely PO’d about it.

So I’ve decided to write about it.

I’ve decided to write about it long, and hard, and often.

But I need your help.

I’m SURE there are “author marketing services” out there that are honest, and legitimate, and actually deliver measurable results.

But the vast majority are a complete waste of money.

Let’s band together to protect each other from the sharks.

Reach out to me. You don’t have to use your real name. You don’t have to name the service that disappointed you — or outright ripped you off — if you don’t want to. (And in fact, please do NOT mention a service by name in the comments, for now.)

I’m not interested in “outing” specific companies or services at this time.

What I do want is to talk to other authors.

I want to deepen my understanding of what authors experience, today, when they hire someone else to help them with marketing.

As I understand your experiences more fully, I’ll report back what I’ve learned, here, in this blog. And then, when I’ve got enough, I’m going to compile it as a handbook for authors.

Together, we can fight back.

Please share your experiences with me by emailing me at kirsten AT kirstenmortensen DOT com, or use the contact form on my About page, or leave a comment.

Everyone who contributes to this project will receive a free e-copy of the handbook when it’s published.

Thank you!!!!

Posted in author marketing services, Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketingl: a clear-eyed guide to "author marketing services", Writing | Tagged | 8 Comments

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Leslie F., winner of the 2014 Holiday Book Giveaway!

Many thanks to all who entered. I’ll be sending out an email to you within the next day or so — and, if you subscribed to my newsletter, it will include a little gift from me as well :)

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments

writers, writers, an ungovernable bunch …

Megan McArdle has a column up about the meltdown at The New Republic.

It’s an interesting read in general for anyone in the writing or publishing business.

But in particular, I chuckled to myself when she began describing some of the reasons running media companies presents special challenges. “You’re not running a normal type of organization,” she writes. “You’re running a professional group.”

And so you encounter a number of problems:

… the difficulty of getting creative types to produce great stuff on demand; the astonishing amount of autonomy that journalists need, because it’s impossible to write hard guidelines, and too expensive to supervise long hours of reporting and typing; the fact that great writers are frequently terrible managers and editors, which screws up the normal management pyramid; the simultaneous need for speed and accuracy; the fact that media employment selects for a cluster of personality traits that resists closer management; the professional ethic that will stymie you when you decide to make a different set of trade-offs between competing priorities such as speed, accuracy, and the need to monetize your content; the fact that writers, especially in the digital age, frequently take their audience with them if they leave, making it even harder to impose discipline …

As someone who has earned a living as a professional writer for many, many years: yep. That pretty much sums us up :)

Posted in Publishing, Writing | Comments Off on writers, writers, an ungovernable bunch …

Holiday Giveaway!

gift for blog postHi!

I love the holiday season!

And, to celebrate, I’m giving away a nice little prize: signed, first edition paperback copies of three of my books (Santa Hunk, Dark Chemistry, and Loose Dogs) PLUS a $20 Amazon gift card :)

Click here to enter the drawing and good luck!



Posted in Writing | Comments Off on Holiday Giveaway!

Santa Hunk: get ready for my holiday novella!

Santa Hunk paranormal romance by Kirsten Mortensen

Immortal. Gorgeous. And in love.

So if you’re one of my Facebook friends (and if you’re not — why not???) you know that I’ve been working on a paranormal romance novella … with a holiday theme :)

I’m sharing it now with my beta readers. But — assuming they like it — it will be available for Kindle around Thanksgiving.

Teaser copy below. What do you think???

I’m so excited! :)

First of all: forget everything you ever heard about him being a fat old guy who’s never seen a razor.

I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s immortal. A god, basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.
The guy is gorgeous.

That stuff about the goofy red suit and the big jiggly belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his kids. “’Twas the night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a nice poem. It’s a timeless classic.

But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen Santa.

He made it all up.

Me? I have seen Santa.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him—but I’m not the one who found him.

Clare found him.

She found him—then she nearly lost him again . . .

Posted in Novella, Paranormal romance, Romance Novels, Santa Hunk by Kirsten Mortensen, Writing | Comments Off on Santa Hunk: get ready for my holiday novella!

“Free Money” is FREE!

Free Money, my Elmore Leonard* tribute story, is free for Kindle today through October 12.

Free Money is a Noiry Crime/Suspense Story…

… set in Rochester, NY. If you know the area you may recognize one of the scenes, Devil’s Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park.

The climax of "Free Money" is set here: in Devil's Bathtub, a kettle pond in Mendon Ponds Park south of Rochester. Only it's at night. Scaaaary!

The climax of “Free Money” is set here: in Devil’s Bathtub, a kettle hole in Mendon Ponds Park south of Rochester. Only it’s at night. Scaaaary!

Rochestarians probably also remember the armored truck heist of 1993 that a key element of the backstory.

But is it any good?

Glad you asked! And it just so happens that Free Money picked up a quick 5-star review when I first put it up on October 1:

Great fun! Kirsten Mortensen channels the spirit and style of Elmore Leonard in a short, sharp tale of crime and suspense. No one can match The Master, of course, but this is the next best thing.

Here’s the teaser.

Please enjoy and let me know what you think!

Jamie Licaro doesn’t want to go home to Rochester, New York.

And he’s got a good reason.

Twenty-plus years after a multi-million dollar armored truck heist, the money’s still missing — and Jamie’s the one person still around who might know where it is.

He knows better than to go back home.

But he’s fallen for a girl who smells like peaches.

And sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.


Path to get to the far rim of Devil's Bathtub pond in Mendon Pond's Park, the setting for Free Money: an Elmore Leonard tribute story by Kirsten Mortensen

This is the path that leads to the far side of Devil’s Bathtub. My dog, Tessa, is not in the story however :)

Stairway to Devil's Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park, setting of climax of Free Money, and Elmore Leonard Tribute Story by Kirsten Mortensen

The main path down to Devil’s Bathtub has steps. But if you’re there in the middle of the night to try to dredge up old secrets, you can’t take the easy way…


*Elmore Leonard passed away a year ago last August. October 11 was his birthday. He would have been 89 this year.

Posted in Free Money by Kirsten Mortensen, Rochester, New York, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Free Money” is FREE!

Dark Chemistry spotlight in Rochester D&C

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle featured Dark Chemistry in its author spotlight.

Here’s the article.

Thank you, D&C!

Posted in Dark Chemistry by Kirsten Mortensen, Rochester, New York | Comments Off on Dark Chemistry spotlight in Rochester D&C

Dark Chemistry on sale, 99 cents!

Makes you want to read the novel, doesn't it?

Racking up 5 star reviews!

It’s been an exciting past few weeks as I’ve picked up several really nice reviews for Dark Chemistry.

Here’s one:

Firstly, I love the original premise: controlling people via pheromones. This book covers everything from chemistry to economics to romance to murder. The protagonist, Haley, starts out as a spoilt brat but undergoes a gradual, and fulfilling, transformation. The plot is complex and engrossing and the characters are well-developed, interesting and individual. Overall, this is a very good book on every level, expertly written and worth checking out.

Here’s another:

Dark Chemistry has the essential ingredients of a page-turner – professional prose, a gripping plot, interesting and believable characters, and a love story that’s touching but never sappy. Every evening I looked forward to reentering the story, and I read late into the night to reach the ending.

It did not disappoint.

So, to celebrate, I’ve temporarily lowered the price of the novel’s e-version to only 99 cents.

This won’t last, so grab your copy now!

Click here for the Kindle version.

Click here for the Barnes & Noble version.

Posted in Dark Chemistry by Kirsten Mortensen, Writing | Comments Off on Dark Chemistry on sale, 99 cents!

Starting the next book, and it’s gonna be a paranormal

Those of you who know me, know that I always have multiple novels in process. (Kind of like my reading. I’m reading about 8 books right now. No joke. A little outta control tho…)

Now one of them has grabbed me and based on the surge of excitement I’m feeling, it’s the one I’ll be focusing on for this next lap of my being-a-novelist marathon.

No title yet.

But I can tell you a bit about it. It’s going to be a paranormal. It will have 2 sequels. And I know some of the elements. Communication with animals. Impending environmental apocalypse. What happens when the veil between the collective unconscious and the physical starts to thin.

It’s going to be set in rural Upstate New York; I’ll be drawing very much on the feel and spirit of the heavily forested, wild areas in the southeast part of the state where I grew up.

Hemlock grove, Chenango County, NY

Hemlock grove, Chenango County, NY

And I’m going to indulge in my lifelong fascination with Iroquois mythology. This is a bit of a false lead, so don’t take it too literally but here’s a cool what-if question: what if the Vikings–whose trading posts, we now suspect, penetrated deep within the Great Lakes region–had colonized North America successfully, to the point where culturally they merged with Native Americans? How would their mythologies have merged and cross-pollinated?

This won’t be an alt-history book, so like I said, that’s a bit of a false lead. But there will be elements of a kind of mythological bleed-through.

Oh, and I’m going to try to write faster. I think I can do that, because I’m starting to get the hang of how I do fiction, and what I need to do to push my productivity.

Stay tuned :)


Posted in Oxford, Writing | Comments Off on Starting the next book, and it’s gonna be a paranormal

In which I lose my mind possibly? and start fermenting vegetables :D

On the left: shredded beets with grated ginger and cayenne pepper. On the right: sliced sweet potato, celery, and chipotle pepper.

On the left: shredded beets with grated ginger and cayenne pepper. On the right: sliced sweet potato, celery, and chipotle pepper.

It started when I became interested in so-called “Resistant Starch” — a class of starches that are not digested in the small intestine, but instead pass through to the colon, where they become food for gut flora, including critters that are implicated in everything from weight loss/control to cooling inflammation.

I blogged about RS here. Also recommend Free the Animal, where Richard Nikoley has been rounding up info on RS and is writing a book on it with a couple other RS hero peeps. Details at his blog including his RS primer here.

From incorporating RS into my diet, I’ve now moved to two other refinements. First is adding other prebiotics, for example inulin, which I get by munching on things like raw sliced Jerusalem artichoke.

The second is more probiotics. Continue reading

Posted in Food, Health | Comments Off on In which I lose my mind possibly? and start fermenting vegetables :D