Please welcome my guest today, Staci Troilo. Staci has just released the last book of her Medici Protectorate series (and I am so bummed, but there is the Nightforce Security guys, which is a spinoff written by Staci’s alter ego (well, one of them 😀 ) Kiera Beck). If you haven’t checked out the Medici series, you’re missing out.
And now, heeeere’s Staci!
Hi, Julie. Thanks for inviting me here today. I’ve been crazy busy writing guest posts for my latest release, Tortured Soul, the fourth and final installment of the Medici Protectorate series. As I was about to compose my piece for you, my muse interrupted me. I’m sure my original idea for a post would have been a good one, but I think you’ll like our conversation better. At the very least, you’ll get a kick out of this, since I have you to thank for introducing us.
I’ve transcribed our chat for you:
I’d watched him come in the door. He’d risen at dawn and had been doing some form of martial arts in the yard for over an hour. Now he stood in the doorway, his broad, bare chest glistening with sweat. Dark hair, damp on the ends, curled at the nape of his neck. He sipped from my “This Might Be Wine” bottle, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he guzzled the water.
Had to be water. No one built like that drank wine after a workout. Certainly not Mr. Perfect. I had to admit, I might. Okay, I confess—my morning drinks of choice are coffee, mimosas, and Bloody Marys, in that order. Which isn’t really a problem, since I seldom workout in the morning. Nor am I built like a Roman deity. (I’m starting to see some uncomfortable correlations.)
“Cara, you’re staring. Again.”
“Sorry.” My cheeks heated as I dragged my gaze up to his and forced myself to blink. And swallow. “Did you want something?”
“You’re supposed to be working.”
“A ha!” Is it bad that I feel perverse glee when he’s wrong about something? “I can’t write right now. I’m working on marketing materials and guest posts.”
“I didn’t say you’re supposed to be writing. I said you’re supposed to be working.”
And just like that, my glee evaporated. “I was. Until you interrupted.”
“If you were working, why were you staring out the window?”
Because my eyes were tired, my brain was mush, and I’d been admiring the view. At least until he came inside. “I was just thinking.”
“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.”
“You’ve been doing a lot of exercising lately.”
His lips quirked.
My face flamed hotter, and I looked away—back to my blank computer screen.
He pulled on a t-shirt then dropped onto the sofa beside me. Close. Really close.
I inhaled deeply. To my surprise, he smelled good. Like pine and sandalwood and something sultry and exotic I couldn’t name. Seriously? After an hour flailing about in the summer heat? I vented the breath with an audible sigh.
He touched my arm. “You always sound so tortured, cara.”
Wonder why. Shifting in my seat, I knocked his hand away. My skin tingled where it had been.
“So, tell me. When you’re not fantasizing—”
“I don’t fantasize. I ponder. Plan. Prepare.”
“And now you protest too much.”
“Hamlet? Queen Gertrude? What, were you Shakespeare’s muse, too?”
His jaw ticked and his gaze heated, but he didn’t speak. Still, I thought I heard an answer in his silence.
Given the circumstances—given his qualifications—I should probably give the guy a little more respect than I had been.
“Anyway.” I cleared my throat. “Julie has talked to me about marketing and publishing. In some ways, it’s tough for writers who write mashups or multiple genres.”
He wasn’t challenging me. Rather, he seemed genuinely interested. Apparently the business side of writing was outside his area of expertise. Never would have guessed there was something he wasn’t good at.
I reached for my mimo—er, my coffee—and nestled into the corner of the couch. “Well, if you’re going to be a multi-genre author, you’ve got some decisions to make. Are you going to try to maintain only one identity and segment your mailing list? Or are you going to write under multiple pen names, having one identity per genre? There are pros and cons to each.”
“And you chose to use multiple pen names?”
“Only recently. But that’s because of a policy at work.” He knows all about my job at a publishing company and the requirements that came along with it. He doesn’t know what the company is doing for me, though. “The marketing director there is helping me manage these different personas, and we’ve developed names and identities for each imprint that works for the genres I write in. Before that, I wrote only as ‘me’ and tried to target different segments of readers when I released different types of novels. And I was mostly on my own with marketing.”
“Either way sounds exhausting.”
“You have no idea.”
He took another drink. “Is there a way to make things easier?”
“Marketing takes time no matter what kind of author you are. Single- or multi-genre. One identity or many. Unless you have someone doing it for you, it’s not easy. But one of the easiest ways to target the right readers is to categorize your book correctly.”
“Cara, correct me if I’m wrong, but you aren’t self-published. You don’t have control over your books’ categories.”
“That’s true of most of my books. But not all. I have a few self-published titles. I learned through trial and error on those. Lately, I’ve been asking questions and watching what my publishers chose for me. Watching what the top authors in my genres are doing.”
He leaned back against the cushions, and I got another whiff of him. It was more than a little distracting, so I sat up straight then bent over my laptop.
“What are you doing?”
“Pulling up Amazon’s site. I wanted to show you a few things. For starters, look at this. All these authors have multiple categories listed.”
“That makes sense.”
“Yeah, but you’re only able to add two categories and seven keywords when you upload on KDP.”
“So how did they get other categories?”
“You have to request it. Email the helpdesk in KDP with the exact path you want, and they’ll adjust it for you. You have to have the exact words, though. And don’t just rely on their options. If you look at your competitors, you can see paths you want that Amazon doesn’t offer. Copy them and ask KDP for them. That’s how you get the categories Amazon doesn’t organically offer. You have to be exact and specific.”
“But how do you know which categories to select?”
“Look at this.” I pulled up the categories for Hideaway by Keira Beck—one of my pen names. “See how ‘New Adult’ is one of them?”
“I’m not blind, cara.”
Yeah, neither was I. That was part of the problem. I turned back to the screen. “That’s definitely not a book about college-aged people, which is what NA was originally defined as. So I asked my publisher about it. They said the category has morphed to mean ‘includes unmarried sexual partners’ and has nothing to do with an age group. Other than the characters aren’t teenagers. If you want to place your book in the proper categories, you need to ask questions of people who might know more than you.”
“Another thing is to make sure you go as deep down into the categories as possible. The more specialized and specific you can get, the better chance you have at finding your targeted readers.”
“And of course, you need to look at what comparable authors are listing their works as. Keeping an eye on them and what they’re doing helps you stay on top of your game.”
“You sure do a lot of looking at other things.” He tipped the bottle up and drained it dry. Never took his gaze off me, though.
I drained my own drink then scampered into the kitchen for a refill. It was really warm in the house.
“I think I’m going to shower then head to One Ugly Mug to watch the game.”
My mind kind of blanked at shower.
As he walked past me, he leaned down and whispered in my ear. “Don’t dawdle, cara. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Truer words never spoken.
So, as you can see, my newly-acquired muse has made himself at home. And we’re learning from each other—learning some really interesting things.
It’s hard to pick categories for books. I noticed my publisher chose different categories for my eBook than for my paperback and hardcover. Probably trying to maximize exposure. At the end of the day, I stand by the four rules mentioned above.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Request multiple keyword streams from Amazon, particularly ones they don’t offer that you can copy from other authors.
- The more specific and specialized the categories are, the better chance you have at finding your ideal readers.
- Always stay apprised of what comparable authors are doing.
Do those things, and you’ve won half the battle. Properly positioning yourself will entice Amazon to put their vast promotional machine behind you.
The other half requires developing relationships with your readers. Somehow I think my muse knows a lot about that particular subject. But I don’t have time to have that discussion today. I have promotional materials to write.
Protection is safety. Until it stifles.
After months of clandestine battles, the Brothers of the Medici Protectorate finally know who is responsible for the assassination attempts on the Notaro family, the secret descendants of the Medici line. And they’ve never faced such a formidable foe.
Roberto Cozza–Coz–faces this new reality with surprising pragmatism. His powers may make the difference in winning their covert war–if only he can master them in time. It would just be so much easier if he could get his emotions under control, but neither his Brothers nor their charges are making things easy on him.
Toni Notaro appreciates the security provided by the Brothers, but she knows she has her own role to play–and it terrifies her. She is the missing link in Coz mastering his emerging abilities, yet she struggles to bridge the gap between what he needs and what she can offer.
As the Brotherhood hurtles inexorably toward the climactic final showdown, Coz and Toni must find the strength within themselves and each other to master the secrets of his powers, or risk death and defeat for all they hold dear.
Author Bio and Links:
Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.