Results of my search for beta readers–or even more ‘likes’–on Facebook.

As I wrote in the previous post, I decided to search outside my current Friends and Family for beta readers for my new novel.  As we all know, F&Fs will tell an author that they really like the book because that’s what Friends and Family do.  And they might even buy a copy of the book once it is published, because that’s what they do.  But an honest opinion–F&F aren’t good for that.

First I went to Goodreads for beta readers.  They have two groups of Beta readers and following their instructions I listed my novel about women of a certain age finding love and danger and eating very well in Los Angeles. I mentioned the collie, too. The result: Nada. Nothing.  No one in the beta group volunteered to read my novel. I found out, however, that there are people in a separate section of the GR beta group who will beta read and report back–for a fee.  One of them sounds good, so I may send my MS off to her. Soon. I will report about how this goes.

After Goodreads I moved on and sent a copy of the novel, which I’m now calling ‘L.A. Ladies’ to a friend who is a playwright.  Her first response: “Not noir?”  I swear the brilliant Raymond Chandler cast a noir spell over Los Angeles. Well, that was then and this is now. My novel has not an ounce of noir in it. It is a romance with a mystery, a big friendly collie dog and a kayak trip down the L.A. River.  Well, it will be interesting to read further reactions from my playwright friend who lives in Tucson and wants noir.  I’ve asked her to get back to me by mid-December.

Now about Facebook.  I decided that I should drum up some Likes for my FB Annie Carroll Author page before I solicited beta readers from the group.  I agreed to a budget of $4 a day and put a limit of $1 for each Like. Well those folks at FB apparently can’t do math.  My Likes started off at .90 per Like and steadily rose to $1.35 per Like.  In the end I spent about $28 over 7 days and now have 32 Likes–not all of which came from the FB promotion.  And about an hour ago I launched a second promotion for ‘Likes’. This time my budget is $3 a day and FB promises 2-4 Likes a day.

Working AFter Retirement cover

This best-selling guide provides realistic solutions to retirees who need more income.

Meanwhile my non-fiction guide to Working After Retirement continues to sell a year after it was published. It is concise, practical and only $3.99 now.


Oh agony. I am suffering from Beta Reader envy but (maybe) finding a cure

Frog gate at Los Angeles River

Why the Frog Gate in Studio City? Well, key scenes in my new novel are set along the Los Angeles River.

I have been following the posts of author Sherri McInnis who, after publishing two novels through traditional publishers, is venturing into self-publishing and telling the world about her experiences step by step.  Recently, she reached the Beta Reader stage and, through a friend, reached out to the 900 members of the Toronto Book Club and Brunch group. 900!!!!  Can you imagine having 900 potential beta readers?  Way way too many. Stephen King recommends having 10 people read a MS and then pay attention only to issues that more than one reader points out.

Well, as it turned out, McInnis had 30 book lovers volunteer to beta read her new novel. As she reports in her blog, she was overwhelmed when the replies poured in. In one of her most recent posts she writes that she’s doing a major re-write, including a new ending.

Now this is where I tell how I am curing my beta reader envy.  I don’t have 30 beta readers–and actually don’t want that many.  I don’t have 10 either.  I have two: one is an online seller of children’s books, the other a playwright.  The bookseller I met at Sisters in Crime L.A. recently.  I beta read the playwright’s most recent play a couple of years ago and she volunteered to read my newest novel two days ago. I am also hopeful that I can convince my two sisters to beta read for me. None of these four lovely ladies, however, are part of my target market: 30-50 year old women who like romances that include mysteries with a rough collie dog as a character, too.

So I asked for advice about how to find beta readers at the two online authors groups I belong to and several people mentioned just throwing the request out onto Twitter and Facebook. Well, asking for beta readers on the wild world of the Twitter feed is scary, so I haven’t done it yet–although this post will go into the Twitter feed. Goodreads was mentioned by one person, but, alas, some of the beta readers on Goodreads have turned out to be trolls, according to a couple of reviews I read.  I still may go the Goodreads route for at least one beta reader though.

I am now seeking a solution on Facebook.

At this point I have to confess that although I have published several books, including 2 (‘Working After Retirement‘ and ‘New Vampire Online‘) that made it briefly to best-sellerdom in Amazon sub-categories, I had never done much with my FB author page. So I set up a promo for my Annie Carroll Author  page with a budget of $4 a day for 10 days. It’s now day three and it appears that each ‘Like’ is going to cost me .90-$1.

Okay. The next step in my plan is to spend a little money–less than $30–promoting a post asking for Beta Readers.  Hopefully some of the women who ‘Like’ me during this current promotion will be willing to volunteer to beta read.

If you are interested in beta reading my novel, contact me by using the Comment section near the top of this post.

I will let you know how this works out.

Before I do that, however I have to put on my Grammar Nazi hat and finish revisions of the novel.

7 words that self-editing indie authors should search for. I did and was surprised!

I took to heart some editing advice from John Adamus, a professional book editor who wrote a post recently for that wicked(ly funny) Chuck Wendig’s blog. Among other things Adamus noted six words that should be checked as an author is editing her/his manuscript.  The word “just”, which is on his list, leaped out at me.  While I was writing my new novel, a romance/cozy mystery with a nifty rough collie character, I noticed that I was using the word “just” a lot and had decided, even before reading this post, that I would use the ‘Find’ tab in Word to review everywhere I had used it in the MS and see if “just” was appropriate or should be changed.

New Vampire Online cover

Cate the Vampire has a new website and problems keep popping up everywhere!

I had done something similar when I was editing my last vampire novel, New Vampire Online, but the words I searched for in that MS were “and then”. Authors often use “and then” to indicate that time has passed. It was embarassing how often “and then” showed up in that MS.  I changed those words and discovered that the writing was better in the new version. It was a good learning experience.

This morning, with the first draft of the new novel complete and my re-writing underway, I decided to check the MS for all six of the words/phrases that Adamus suggested, plus “and then.”  The words on his lists were: “really”, “just”, “very”, “kind of”, “a little”, and “sort of”.  They are all qualifiers that do not necessarily add much to a statement and may, in fact, weaken the power of the prose.

“Really” was the first word I checked using the Find tab.  It turned up over 80 times in the 45,000 word manuscript.  I cut out or revised more than half of them.

“Just” was the second word and it showed up fewer than 60 times. Quite often it is in the characters’ dialogue. I cut more than a third of them. Many of the remaining ones indicate time recently passed.

“Very” was the third word I checked and it appeared in the MS 118 times!  Yikes!  Well, it turned out that the Find function had also found “every”, “everything”, “everyone”, and “silvery”  I had  not used “very” all that often. Again, I checked each one and revised where needed.

The next three on Adamus’ list were phrases I rarely use.  Checking the MS I found them a few times and only five of them did I change.  I use “A little”, for example, to describe things that were small or smaller–rather than indicating something was lesser or approximate.

As for “and then”…well, I was careful about using it as I was writing. It generally appears when one character is telling another character about an event that happened previously.

NOTE:  Author Diana Urban recently wrote a post about the 43 words every writer should delete.  I do not agree with all of her suggestions and caution you not to do ‘replace all’.  You could end up with a disaster! For example, if I deleted all ‘very’ using the ‘replace all’ function my MS would have strange words like ‘Sil’ instead of silvery. It can be time consuming but go through words to delete, one by one.

I’ve decided to entitle the new novel “Finding Mr. Yes.”  I’m also thinking about putting Pretty Girl, the long-haired, rough collie on the cover.  But a romance/mystery with a collie on the cover instead of some bare-chested dude? Yeah.  I might do that.

I finally set up an Annie Carroll Author page of Facebook to let readers know more about my fiction works.  You can find this page here.

Test your book cover? 3 ways to do it for cheap.

new vampire online cover

The winning cover for the nontraditional vampire tale, New Vampire Online . The other version had a bright red background.

I have previously written about my Facebook test of 2 covers for my ebook novel, New Vampire Online.   There was an enormous difference between the 2 covers I tested–500%!

And it turns out I’m not the only cover testing geek. A week or so ago, Bookbub, the largest bargain book distributor, published a post in their authors’ newsletter about testing book covers.  Their report includes Facebook, but also adds two other ways to test a book cover.  Rather than recapitulate what they wrote, here is a link to the Bookbub post.

A few months before I did the FB test I had changed both the title and cover on my first self-published novel, currently entitled ‘Playing for Julia’, without testing it.  Originally it was entitled ‘San Francisco Summer ’69’. It is a sexy novel set at the dawn of sexual revolution.

San Francisco summer 69 cover

This is the orginal title and cover of San Francisco Summer ’69. It’s now entitled ‘Playing for Julia’ and the cover is different, too.

Like a gazillion other authors I had looked at the sales figures for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and decided I could write one of those, too.  Then a few months later,  I looked at the covers for Bella Andre’s novels and decided to imitate that graphic style, too.  ( The moral to this tale: don’t be derivative!) I’m now thinking of testing the first cover and title to see what changes it might make to sales.

For whatever it is worth…to juice up sales I decided to put New Vampire in Town ( number 1 in the series) on sale for 99 cents for the month of March, 2015.

Oh, I have another blog that may interest you.  It’s L.A. City Pix–photos of people and places around Los Angeles.

Fiction sales figures by genre for 2013 – some surprises!

Bookstat just released the sales figures by adult fiction genres for 2013.  The surprise is that Mysteries came in lower than Literary fiction–at least according to this information.  (I’m not sure what the genre called “general” is!)


1 – Thrillers ($1.088 billion)

2 -Romance ($1.079 Billion)

3 – General ($810 million)

4- Literary ($548 million)

5- Mystery & detective ($442 million)

6 -Fantasy ($377 million)

Another valuable source of information about sales by genre can be found at  This site reports quarterly and provides various kinds of data for authors.  Their rankings by genre differ slightly from this.

Working AFter Retirement cover

The best-selling guide provides real solutions to retirees who need more income.

My newest book is a non-fiction guide entitled Working After Retirement.  It has all 5 star reviews on Kindle and B&N!


Coming soon! ‘Working After Retirement’, a guide to 69+ jobs suitable for retirees

dominican republic sky

Many retirees dream of vacations in the tropics, but find their resources limited. ‘Working After Retirement’ can make these dreams come true.

For over ten years I have watched friends and acquaintances enter into retirement in varying states of preparedness. Almost all had made specific retirement plans that included Social Security and other financial resources.

Some, however, had an ‘Ooops Moment’ after they were retired. They discovered that they really did not have enough money to live comfortably in retirement or enough money to last as long as they planned to live. So they did the sensible thing: they went to work to earn more money.

I decided to write about the work they have done–and are still doing–to earn supplemental income after retirement.  This is not some kind of fantasy guide;  every job included is already generating an income for a real retiree.

“Working After Retirement’ will be published on September 4th on Kindle.  It will be available on Nook and iTunes shortly after that.

‘New Vampire Online’ is free on Kindle on June 6 and June 7th. It’s a humorous tale of Los Angeles vampires.

New Vampire Online cover

Cate the Vampire has a new website and problems keep springing up everywhere!


Okay.  You know the routine.

‘New Vampire Online’ is now on Kindle:

And you can get the first in the series, ‘New Vampire in Town’:

Enjoy!  (And please leave a review!)