• Penelope

Baby for the Brute: Behind the Story


First thing's first, if you haven't already grabbed it, you can find Baby for the Brute here.

The longer I spend writing full-time, the more I realize how my memory of life is framed by which books I was working on. I remember having just published Rebel Pax (on my very first pen name, Elyssa Ebbott) while I was recovering after giving birth to my first daughter and I was still in the hospital bed.

I remember I was writing "His" some mornings during my planning period or while students were taking their tests when I still taught at a private catholic high school.

Mine and Dark were written when I was self employed for the first time and starting to wonder if I had made a mistake.

Protector (later titled The Bodyguard after I remastered it) was when I *really* started thinking the jig was up. Every book was making less money than the one before it, and I was doomed.

Anyway, I've had my ups and downs and one way or another, I'm still here writing books and calling it my job. But Baby for the Brute is an interesting point in my journey. In so many ways, it feels like the industry is constantly changing around me. I've never come close to escaping the sensation that the ground could fall out from beneath me at any moment, that I never could have a real firm grasp on success in this business. Success feels like a prize, and one that has to be continually chased after and won month to month, day by day, and word by word.

So in many ways, this book is a test. It's a test more than others because it has been a while since I've had successes like some of my past books. Knocked Up by the Dom was all the way back in September of 2017, and the success of Knocked up by the Master and Knocked up and Punished were driven hard by the first book in the series pumping up their visibility.

After that, I wrote a Christmas bundle, The Dom's Bride, Savage, Baby for the Beast, and a billionaire bundle. While the three standalone books all reached the top 100, they seemed to fall out of their peak ranks so quickly that it was hard to really call them financial successes. It has felt like I've been missing something. Some edge to my marketing or my writing that would help my books to become organic and really stick around.

One strange part about publishing books on your own is that you have to almost predict your book's success when you're planning out the promotional push. For example, if I was very confident in the potential of a book I had coming up, I would want to book as much promotion as I could. In other words, I'd want to invest a lot of money into the launch. I'd also spend heavily in the early days during the launch window to make sure I helped it with enough momentum.

The problem is when you predict a book will do well and it doesn't, which I've done many times. The result is a book that hasn't earned back your investment even after two or three months. Other times, you may end up with a book that hits rank 50 or something for a week or two but ends up earning less than a rank 500 book might've in profit because the initial investment was too high.

The reverse is that you can let yourself doubt a book's potential and wind up not booking enough promotions for it, which I have also done. There's a kind of magical, invisible speed limit a book has to cross to have enough momentum to keep coasting on its own. In more literal terms, a book has to sell a certain amount of copies per day for a certain number of days in a row to start getting favored by Amazon's suggestion engine. That's part of the reason advertising is so important. If you don't essentially pay for people to see your book (and hopefully buy it), you'll seriously struggle to get enough sales for your book to even start popping up for people who might be interested in buying it.

Major tangent there... The point is, I find myself having to fight the urge to be conservative with this book. My last two or three books were kind of the former case, where I invested more than I should have and ended up with lackluster financial results--the kind of financial results that make me afraid for my ability to keep doing this as a career.

I'm trying to keep reminding myself that I've had lows before and come out of them. After The Bodyguard bombed and my finances were looking frighteningly tight, I knew I was going to have to close up shop if my next book didn't do well, but it did. After Miss Matchmaker, I was feeling extremely hopeless and defeated, but then Knocked Up by the Dom hit rank 8 and got me on the USA Today Bestsellers list.

Whether Baby for the Brute is a success or not, I'll have to keep trying and keep asking myself what I could be doing better, because every time I've dug myself out of a low point seems to have been after I've had a sort of epiphany and changed my strategy to some extent.

Here's to hoping this book *is* the recovery book, and not the one I'll be remembering as one of my all-time lows.

Side note: It's not reader's fault or writer's fault, but I really hate how in indie publishing, the deciding factor on whether a book explodes with popularity or not isn't what's between the covers in 99% of cases. It's the cover, the blurb, the title, and the timing of promotions. When I talk about whether my book will do well like it's a lottery, it's not because I'm not confident in the book itself. It's because I don't pretend that my books are better than anyone else's. They're different, and they're my style, but I know there's a ton of competition and a ton of other great books coming out every day. That means the only way I get to enjoy more success than the competition is if the packaging of my book draws more people in than their packaging. It's unfortunately a marketing game in the short term. I just have to hope that bringing consistent quality will gradually build up a kind of loyal reader base that might eventually break me free of the month-to-month fear of not knowing if I can earn enough to survive doing this.

Whew! "Behind Baby for the Brute" turned into a financial discussion, but I guess that's where my head is right now, so... Wish me luck!

#behindthebook

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Penelope Bloom, USA Today, Washington Post, and Amazon top 5 Bestselling Contemporary Romance Author.