Mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, horror & YA by "Cheryl Kaye Tardif" & romance by "Cherish D'Angelo". Cheryl is represented by Trident Media Group in NY.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Special guest author Jesse Giles Christiansen talks about why authors should sometimes embrace insanity

Sometimes when you lose, you win.

This weekend is the big kickoff for a promo that I don't think I'll ever forget, and one that I've done everything in my power to ensure that I always remember. September 27-29 are my free days for my first foray with Amazon's KDP Select program through my publisher, Imajin Books. Imajin Book's owner and bestselling author, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, has used this program to become a bestseller, as well as other authors, including her own.

A part of me is afraid. A part of me is thrilled. The whole of me is a human live wire.

My novel, PELICAN BAY, was a list bestseller out of the gate. Being in a genre top 100 is like going to your local theme park. It's terrific, and you definitely want to go back ... but it isn’t Disney World folks.

I want to go to Disney World.

Really badly.

And stay.

Maybe I'm already there, hiding in the Haunted House and sleeping there with the familiar ghosts.

Am I a ghost? Right now I feel like a familiar ghost. And there's nothing wrong with that. No. Not at all. I'm a new author who has tasted some success like drops of deliciously acidic rain on my tongue.

To go from ghost to bodily form, I must make the top paid 100 on Amazon ... where the magic happens. But as most of you already know, this is much easier said than done. I have the help now of my marketing savvy, mentoring publisher, great authors, passionate readers, keen reviewers, artists, editors, and friends and family. However, as I write this, my promo group, which I'm calling Captain Shelby's Skeleton Army (Captain Shelby is the big character from PELICAN BAY), consists of only 38 people. But you know what? I'd rather have 38 faithful, like-minded, artistic souls than a 1000 bandwagon-jumpers or doubters. Yes, I'll take my little army and we'll see what we can do.

My free days end Sunday, and then PELICAN BAY has to swim. I mean REALLY swim. I think it can. I really do. I believe it, but I need your faith, too. Your help. No one is an island, after all, in any realm.

What started all this madness, really, were two things. First, I've been watching PELICAN BAY and it has done some things I never dreamed a new book from a new author would. There are those days. Yeah, those days. When I'm not doing any promos, sending out just basic tweets or Facebook posts, and suddenly the book's ranking, which I fear on those days will sink into oblivion, makes these jumps like a great tarpon finding its third and fourth winds. It truly amazes me. Also, PELICAN BAY was a list bestseller for over two months.

The other reason, truth be told, is that I was supposed to do this promo later in the year with a power author. Certain circumstances led to her having to cancel our promo. I was disappointed, not at her, but at life. Don't laugh here, but I started to feel like Rudy in that cheesy but inspiring film, after his friend dies in the factory fire. This voice inside me just said, "You have to do this now, on your own ... don't wait."

And so the insanity began.

Why is my promo insane? Why is reaching for the top paid 100 on Amazon nuts? Well, I'm not a math genius, but you don't have to be to understand the statistics of a new author reaching for such a goal. There are over 3 million eBooks on Amazon. The closer you get to the top paid 100, the more your book, no matter how strong, turns into a colorful snail. It slithers inches along the pavement as if begging to be squashed by Amazon's mighty foot.

But it's good for an author to embrace insanity, chiefly because even the most basic, consistent things that we come to rely on in life ... are incomprehensible. Take these words, for instance. Perhaps you are reading this blog post, and I thank you warmly for that. But these words. What are they? They appear so consistently to you now, but do you "know" them? You may be reading a computer screen in a complicated dream. You may forget that these very words are not objects, but only consistent flickers of your senses. Were any of countless possible events to occur inside or outside of you, these words would simply vanish.

So insanity for the artist may boil down to, really, reaching for things that defy our reliable senses, our common knowledge. If you want to do something unusual, you have to think unusually. Reach senselessly. Or as Cheryl Kaye Tardif says, "Think BIG." And yes, she's part of the Captain Shelby Skeleton Army. And I'm deeply thankful for that.

But what if I fail? Well ... sometimes win you lose, you win.

Yours in literature,


Web Site:
Join the Army:

Monday, September 23, 2013

The history of paid book reviews, cowardly book review trolls and author bashing trolls

Update: First, a welcome to anyone who has dropped by my blog via the Zon troll. I am hopeful that most of you are here to learn the truth, which is very simple: the allegations against me and many other authors are false. I can't speak for everyone, but I know I have not paid thousands of dollars for fake 5-star reviews. I have better things to do with my money.

Amazon and Fiverr have been notified of both sites that are blatantly using their names in order to appear valid. In an email I received from Amazon when I reported these slanderous blogs, they told me they were investigating the Zon and Five Report blogs. Fiverr (which is NOT the Five Report) has already issued an email stating that those blogs, written by a cowardly troll whom we believe is another author who was, himself, proven guilty of faking reviews, are bogus. For those of you who are decent enough to not judge us based on this person's malicious lies (and no proof), we thank you.

Now onto my original blog post...

The History of Book Reviews:

For years it was perfectly acceptable to pay review companies for an UNBIASED review. This practice was in effect for over a decade. Even the heavy hitter Kirkus formed a subsidiary for self-published authors, and they charged a fee. And they are a recognized INDUSTRY REVIEWER. I have NEVER been reviewed by Kirkus, but here is info from their website:
Kirkus’ Indie program was started in 2005 when the editors wanted to expand their coverage to include the fastest growing segment in the book industry — self-publishing. To meet scale, selection and financing challenges, Kirkus created a review service for self-publishers called Kirkus Discoveries, now Kirkus Indie...Authors could finance the review themselves and guarantee selection for review, but the books would be held to the same high standard as books published by the major houses. The program gave self-publishers the chance to earn honest critical acclaim from one of the most prestigious brands in publishing.
NetGalley is another popular company that charges publishers or authors a fee to have their books set up on their site and sent out for reviews. Even the BIG publishing companies are using them. I know this because I've received an invite to review a couple of my favorite authors' books. NetGalley is well known and well accepted in our industry. Readers love it because they can get involved and read a book before everyone else--and review it. Honest reviews only!

Ten years ago, when my first book was published, it was completely acceptable to pay a reading or shipping fee to a review company--even Amazon accepted paid reviews back then--as long as the reviewer didn't guarantee a gushing, fake 5-star review. Why would any author even want that?? A fake review like that means absolutely nothing! At least, to me it means nothing. I personally only want honest reviews. Have I ever paid a review company? Yes, years ago. When it was completely ACCEPTABLE, but only for unbiased reviews from a known review site at the time. There was no guarantee they'd give me ANY stars or say anything nice about my books. They could've trashed them entirely. I did this maybe 6 times. But I ceased this practice years ago, even before Amazon changed their policies on reviews, because I preferred spending my marketing budget elsewhere.

Cowardly book review trolls and author bashing trolls:

Yesterday a writer friend pointed out a blog that accused one indie author of paying for fake book awards. In another post, this blogger goes on to list authors who have allegedly paid for 500+ fake 5-star reviews. Of course the blogger has no proof of his accusations. As I read through the list, I recognized many names. Some, like JA Konrath, have long ago explained their views on reviews. Then I saw a name that made my heart stop. Mine.

WTF???? This person is claiming I paid for over 500 fake 5-star reviews? This is a complete lie! I don't know where he's gotten his information from, but it certainly isn't the truth. Perhaps he's hearing voices in his head.

I suspect he saw the 5-star reviews for CHILDREN OF THE FOG that came in mainly in 2012 and decided that the only way I could've gotten them was if I paid for them. Really?? He's ASSuming. In fact, I sold over 50,000 copies of COF from March 2012 on as a result of Amazon introducing the KDP Select program, which I was very successful with. And I gave away even more copies for free. That's where most of those reviews came from.

Here's the real truth: There are cowards out there whose sole purpose is to defame others. They do this because they are jealous. Often they are writers who haven't seen any success so they go after those who have. Perhaps they're just bored with their lives. So they intentionally set out to cause harm to others.

These "trolls," as we refer to them in the book biz, can be identified by certain behaviors. They leave 1-2 star scathing reviews on successful books (usually not verified purchases), they bash the authors instead of reviewing the content (because they haven't read the book), and if you go into their profiles, you'll see a pattern of low stars, sometimes with the odd 4-5 star review thrown in. Sometimes one of those 5 star reviews is their own book.

Sadly, I discover too many times that a 1-star review is from a competing author (sometimes they've even left a link to their own competing book, saying it's so much better), and when I report this to Amazon, they have removed the review. There are even stalker trolls who aren't satisfied with just bashing your book in a review; they go into other reviews and leave nasty comments.

The whole concept of book reviews is so warped now that it has become a war zone for everyone involved. And now we have the author bashers who have taken to blogging and slandering others publicly. For what purpose? To make them feel better about themselves, I guess.

I'd also like to point out that ANYONE could pay for a review for someone's book if they really wanted to. There's no law against it. So what's stopping this blogger (who is nameless because he/she is cowardly hiding behind an anonymous blog filled with fake information) from setting up fake reviews of his own and then claiming an author did it? Let's question THIS person's integrity for a second. He/she makes claims but doesn't show any proof. And there is no name or contact info for this person on their blog. Hmmmm...that sounds very suspicious to me.

This leads me to an important message for us all: Don't believe everything you read. 

People who spend their lives trying to ruin others are to be pitied. They don't know how to achieve success or recognition any other way. There is something seriously wrong with someone who intentionally trolls successful books so they can leave one-star reviews--with one intention: to damage that author's sales. And there's something sickening about a person who spreads lies and calls them fact. Jealousy and envy are always a problem when others are successful.

There are still many companies out there who offer unbiased reviews and charge a reading or mailing fee so they can ship the book to their reviewer. While Amazon won't accept these reviews (and I respect that), other places will. This is an industry practice that many authors--both traditionally published and self-published--have used for decades. Will they continue? I don't know. I don't plan to use them, but that's just me. I walked away from my former traditional publisher (who took my book out of print and gave me my rights back) because he wanted us all to write fake 5-star reviews and other ethical issues I didn't agree with. I have integrity, and I do my best to adapt to the changing trends.

Disclaimer: I have never paid for 500+ fake 5-star reviews. My reviews came from getting over 68,000 copies of my works into the hands of readers whether through sales or free giveaways.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook Program Allows Readers to Buy Discounted eBooks When They Purchase the Print Edition

Amazon recently announced a brand new program for readers—Kindle MatchBook—which will launch in October 2013. The concept is simple: readers will be able to download select ebooks at a discount when they purchase the print edition of the same title. And the cool thing is Amazon is going to count past print sales, so this offer is retroactive—all the way back to 1995 when Amazon first opened its online bookstore. So if you purchased a print edition of a title and there’s an ebook edition available, you could get the ebook for a discount if it has been enrolled in MatchBook. This means consumers will get a better deal overall and writers have a chance to earn more income.

There are some great advantages to owning both the print and digital editions of a work. First, if you don’t own a Kindle ereader, you can easily read the paperback. You can read the print edition on a plane when all electronic devices have to be turned off. You can then continue on your ereader if you want to. For those of you who like to collect books, especially signed editions, you can keep your print collection in pristine condition as you read the ebook edition.

Indie authors can easily enroll any ebook with a matching print edition on Amazon by going to their Bookshelf, selecting the book, clicking on the Rights & Pricing tab, scrolling to #9 – Kindle MatchBook and selecting the option and the discount price. Enrolling in MatchBook is non-exclusive and you do not have to have that title enrolled in KDP Select to offer the program to your readers. You can opt out any time.

Indie authors or publishers using the Kindle Direct Publishing platform can set their discounts from the dropdown list that appears once you’ve selected MatchBook. Discounts offered are predetermined by Amazon, based on your current retail price. You may be offered a discount price of $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 or free. Authors and publishers can then select their preferred discount.

Readers will have over 10,000 qualifying titles to choose from when Kindle MatchBook launches in October. Many publishing companies are expected to sign up. Imajin Books, a small, independent Canadian publishing company has already signed up for the program and most of their titles will be offered via MatchBook.

So how about you? Are you an author considering enrolling your ebooks in the program? Are you a reader excited about this new program? Would you use it? Do you see any real value in owning both the ebook and print editions of a book? I’d love to hear from you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Author Chicki Brown gives us a sneak peek at her upcoming new release, A WOMAN'S WORTH

Today's special guest is author Chicki Brown, whom I've had the pleasure of doing a multi-author event with. Chicki has a new release out...


Gianne Marvray has been through the worst two years of her life physically and emotionally. After a battle with cancer and all it entails, she is finally ready to start living her life again. She wants to see new places, meet new people and experience new things, but she isn’t ready for the rollercoaster ride she’s about to embark on when she meets Las Vegas personal trainer and raw vegan foods advocate, Marc Stafford.

After four years, Marc comes home to Atlanta to attend a family celebration in one of his brother’s honor. He’s not thrilled about seeing his father, but he has promised his mother that he won’t throw off the family balance by being the only one of their six sons absent. All Marc wants to do is make an appearance at the event and spend a little time with his brothers. Little does he know that this is the night he will meet the woman who will forever change his life.


Gianne strolled through the room and looked for an unoccupied table. When she didn’t find a vacant table, she chose one not far from the door where only two people were seated. Neither of them seemed friendly, probably the reason they were sitting alone. Once she settled in the chair and smoothed her dress, Gianne busied herself with reading the short printed program placed above each water glass, which took all of five minutes. She closed her eyes and willed herself to at least enjoy the meal. When she opened them, she looked right into the watercolor gaze of the handsomest man she’d ever seen. And he was staring directly at her.

Not knowing what else to do, Gianne offered him a small smile, yet he just stood there appearing startled, which she didn’t understand. Just to be certain she was the object of his attention, she turned and glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone stood behind her. When she looked back, her movement seemed to stir him.

“Please forgive me for staring,” he said in a deep, rich tone that sent waves of warmth right to her core. “Have we met before?”

Although she tried, Gianne was unable to keep her gaze from traveling the length of his tall body from those incredible eyes to the long black hair that curled onto his wide shoulders and over the black designer suit that fit his lean, yet well-built body perfectly.

“I don’t think so. You must be one of the Stafford brothers.”

He moved closer and acknowledged the other two guests at the table for the first time with a smile and a casual nod before he extended his hand to her. “Marc Stafford. And you are?”

“Gianne Marvray.”

“Beautiful name. Very fitting.” He smiled, and an air of sensuality surrounded him. “Are you a friend of Vic’s?”

“Not really. I know him professionally.” No need to give him the gory details. And your brother, the fine surgeon that he is, made sure I never have any children of my own.

He lowered his gaze, and she knew he was admiring the cleavage showcased by the V in the front of her dress. “Do you mind if I join you? I’d rather not sit with the family.” He shrugged. “Long story.”

He set his glass on the table, pulled out the chair on her left and sat angling his body toward her.

“Dr. Stafford mentioned that he has six sons. Where do you fall in the lineup?”

“Charles and I are actually number three. We’re twins.”

“Really? Which one is he?” she asked, returning her gaze to the head table.

“The second one to my father’s left.”

She studied his brother from a distance then said, “Oh, yes. I see the likeness. It’s just your hair that makes you look different. Is that intentional?”

Marc chuckled. “No. It just took me thirty-five years to finally stop wearing the buzz cut my father always insisted on.”

She gave the shiny hair cascading onto the shoulders of his perfectly fitted suit an admiring glance. “I guess I’m sensitive to the whole hair thing, since mine is just starting to grow back.” She ran a hand over her head and Marc frowned.

Learn more about Chicki at:

Amazon Central Author Page:

Sunday, September 08, 2013

How my marketing book on KDP Select helped one author

Ever since I published my marketing book, HOW I MADE OVER $42,000 IN 1 MONTH SELLING MY KINDLE eBOOKS, which was designed specifically for Amazon's KDP Select program, I have received emails, tweets and FB messages from authors who have used my strategies. My marketing book has been reviewed 212 times as of today.

Some people have questioned my integrity and intention regarding this book, but the email I received yesterday is the best way for me to explain WHY I would reveal my "secrets" or strategies. The simple reason: because I like helping other authors; I always have, always will.

One author contacted me yesterday to let me know how excited she was at the success of her first free promotion. She gave me permission to use her email in this blog post. (Thank you, Renee-Ann.)
Dear Cheryl,
I'm sure you get this kind of messages all the time but I really wanted to share what your book, "How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks", has done for me. First let me say that your name and book has become a topic of conversation among the writers in our group.

I wrote Stella's Plea as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2010. It’s my first novel, a Christian Suspense about the abduction of a deaf little girl, and her mother's struggle to find her. I published it in November 2012.
Last week, Sarah Butland, a writer-friend, highly recommended your book, and to make sure I take notes as I read. Thank God for technology, I read it on my Kindle and took notes in my Windows Phone.

It hasn’t been a week since I finished your book but I'm aiming for the moon and feel like one of the stars. My novel wasn't selling because I lacked the market savvy you're so good at. I had no idea how to promote my novel, let alone sell it. Even an interview with the local newspaper didn't move my rank. But then, Sarah recommended your book. It was awesome. I jotted the tips down -- and then some -- recommended the book to others on our writers groups, and put the strategies to the test. WoW! You weren't kidding.

I removed my novel from Smashwords, deleted the excerpts, and advertised a FREE promo from Thursday, Sept 5 to Saturday Sept 7. I was shocked when, Thursday evening, Sarah told me to check my ranking/stats. The book had gone from #800K+ on Wednesday to #569 in less than 24 hours. The book was now #6 on the Christian Suspense genre, and I had 492 downloads. Need I say I barely slept that night? Friday morning, I had 652 downloads and had moved to #5 in Christian Suspense, and #386 in Free Kindle.

Now, Saturday afternoon, I have well over 1265 downloads and my promo isn't over yet. I lost count of the invites to Share and Tweet, and Pin. As you suggest, I aimed at 500/day and reached that goal the first two. I'm still hoping to get 500 today, though I'm aiming at total of 2K. :)
It's not just the downloads though. I'm overwhelmed at people's response to help me get my book to number one. And just the fact that it reached #5 in the Christian Suspense, even though it's free, I'm ecstatic about that.

I haven’t had a chance to do everything yet, as it's been less than a week since I finished your book. Plus I work fulltime outside the home so my time is limited to when I'm off work. But Cheryl, I am truly having a blast with this promotion, and I thank you for sharing your story in this marketing book.

I apologize this is so long but I really wanted to share the whole story with you. I will continue to share the book, review it once my promo is finished, then I'll have another promo in 6-8 weeks, depending how fast the numbers plunge again. In an ideal world, they'd stay where they are! :)
Lastly, will you please download a copy of my book, and also tell your friends about it?
Blessings to you. Renee-Ann  (aka R.A. Giggie)
I believe that my methods still work, even though Amazon has messed up the algorithms so that we don't see the huge numbers we saw last year. There is still value in using the Select program, especially for niche authors and new authors, or those with only 1-2 titles.

I've also tested my strategies on 99 cent sales--and guess what? They work. I've done 99 cent sales without my methods and seen only a slight increase. But when I do everything in my book, my sales skyrocket.

If you're serious about promoting your book, and if you aren't one of those people who only "reads" a book on marketing and you're not afraid of working hard or experimenting, I encourage you to pick up a copy of HOW I MADE OVER $42,000 IN 1 MONTH SELLING MY KINDLE eBOOKS. It's only $2.99.

  • The #1 Marketing book specifically designed for Amazon's KDP Select program
  • International Bestseller
  • Contains detailed Select experiments & analysis
NEWS: I've now earned over $210,000 with KDP Select! I signed with an agent at Trident Media Group; I was contacted by the senior editor at a "big 6" publishing company because of my success on Amazon; Amazon hand-picked two of my titles for special promotions; and I have signed a 2-book audiobook deal with Audible--ALL because of my KDP Select success.