Guest post: Cass Alexander

Check out my guest post on Ari Meghlen’s blog, The Eternal Scribbler …

eternal scribbler

Once again I have been harassing other writers to guest post on this blog. This week’s guester is the lovely Cass Alexander, who talks about whether to use a Pen Name. Enjoy!

Cass1My Name’s Not Cass, But You Can Call Me Cass

by Cass Alexander

Prior to publishing my first romance novel, my husband and I debated whether I should publish under my real name or use a pen name. Marketing, in the short term, would be easier if I used my legit name, because I know lots of people. And, let’s face it, it’s pretty damn cool to see your name slapped on the cover of a book.

But, in the end, I didn’t have the balls to use my real name. Like all healthy, well-adjusted citizens of the world, I blame societal pressures.

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Mom’s Gonna Kill Us


If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know Cass Alexander is my pen name. You also probably know my sense of humor is, well, different? Special? Dark? Not normal? Oh, totes inappropriate. Yes, that’s the word. It’s not my fault, really. If you’ve met my family you would understand.

You like that picture above? That’s my older brother and I circa 1980. We were cute. We were also diabolical. Still are, and we wear that description as one would wear a badge of honor. But we’re also close and, all things considered, good at heart. In fact, he’s the one that gave me my pen name. He’s good with words. I always thought he should write a book–a legit novel, not like the romantic comedies I write.

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ARCs, ADD, and … Cocaine?

Sweet baby Cheese-its! I swear I have adult ADD. I’ve got a nonfiction book going, co-authored with my brother, The Prince of Darkness (don’t ask). And I’m also trying to wrap up a fantasy romance novel. I want to write all the things. In all the genres. We likes it! Give us the precious. Oh, and I am begging for ARCs.

Yeah, yeah, I’m wired on caffeine. Stop looking so appalled at my chaotic thread of thoughts. It’s not like I’ve been snorting coke. Side note, does snorting coke work on ADD? Asking for a friend.

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Bestseller? Really?

Hello, Universe. It’s been a while. I haven’t posted a blog in two months. What’s that? Have I been too busy writing novels to post in my blog? Pardon me while I laugh my ass off. But, no, I haven’t been too busy writing. To put it mildly, I’ve been doing my damnedest to keep life from punching me in the face. Repetitively. Also, I’ve been busy researching and wrestling with marketing ideas for the three books I already have published. Apparently, I’ve already written a bestseller. Watch me continue to laugh my ass right off my body.

You see, since I’m an unknown author (I consider myself this, the world at large considers me this, ergo…), I’ve come across quite a few articles and stories of writers who found success once they had several books published. In order to get people reading their first book, the made it available for free, which led to purchases of the second book, which led to purchases of the third–see the pattern?

When I was in KDP Select, each time I used my free days I had a surge in downloads and those bumps always pushed me onto one of the Amazon Bestsellers lists. I’m no longer using Select as I have decided to go wide (sounds dirty) with distribution. As I had nothing to lose, I got onto Smashwords (which will distribute your books to Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.) and made my first novel free. Next, I asked some people to help me get Amazon to list the books as free.

Amazon won’t let you make the book free in KDP. You have to have clicks on the “Would you like to tell us about a lower price?” button and copy/paste a URL to other seller’s pages where the book is free. Eventually, Amazon will match the price. It took a week or two, at least (sorry, I didn’t track it, I was busy living life and re-grouting my shower). I noticed the change August 23rd. I noticed it because Working On It, the book I made free, suddenly jumped onto two Amazon Bestsellers lists: General Humor and Romance Sports (yes, that’s a thing).

Side note: I think it’s hilarious my romance novel made it onto General Humor’s top 10 list.

I was totes surprised and quickly logged into KDP to look at my numbers. I did see an uptick in downloads (see pic below). Considering I sold less than 10 books in August, the percentage increase was huge. But not what I consider bestseller-worthy. I mean, 600+ downloads in two weeks is great for this author. But it may be a fluke. Just look at the graph and the downward path those columns are taking. I’ve had over 1,000 downloads for this book. It’s nothing to write home about.

Sales Pic for Blog Sept 6

While I’m stoked I went as high as top 10 on the General Humor list, I don’t think I have the right to walk around saying I’m a bestselling author. Technically, I was on a list that said I was. But it feels like a lie. I’ve been on that list before. I’ve had better numbers than on this graph (but for a 1-2 day spike). Maybe if I had 5,000 in legit sales I would feel differently. And maybe if they were paid and not free.

Luckily, I’m in a position right now where I can give Working On It away. I am considering leaving it perma-free. At this point, I think I simply want to get it in people’s hands and give them some enjoyment (that’s what he said). If I can continue getting 600+ downloads every two weeks, and add that to my 1,000 downloads from prior months, I’ll have 5,000 downloads in three months. That would make me feel too-legit-to-quit.

Until then, though, I’d feel like a jackass walking around telling people I have written a bestseller. Stephen King writes bestsellers. Nicholas Sparks writes bestsellers. Cass Alexander’s measly 1,600 downloads for Working On It does not put her on that list. Yet.

You can find Working On It and download for free (and get me on a freaking legit list) in the following places:

Barnes and Noble
Sony (Kobo)

Momma Needs a Drink

Cass Lake Pic

Good evening, Universe. You look good tonight. Real good. Kind of like the selfie I took on the boat earlier–yeah, yeah, that sounded like I love myself a little too much. And you know what? I do. But I especially love that the camera lies. Who knew that camera angles could change your entire body? Not this girl. I don’t take selfies…often. But it was National Selfie Day (Twitter said so, so it must be true) and I felt obligated to participate.

Also, I needed to get out of my head for a while and stop obsessing about tomorrow’s book release. Working With It goes live June 22nd and I’m nervous. I had zero expectations for my first two books’ releases. I kind of threw them against the wall to see if they stuck. They became a series of trial and errors in terms of marketing. That part of the writing process sucks donkey balls. Big ones.

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Book 3, Y’all!


Pre-Order: Kindle, Nook

Happy Friday, Universe! I am free of the Amazon KDP Select machine and this girl’s going wide … with distribution. That sounded so dirty. On purpose. You’re welcome, Deborah.

I did utilize the last of my free days in Select and garnered 700+ downloads. That’s the most I’ve ever gotten on a promo, so I think it had a positive effect. But now that Book 3 of The Persimmon Series, Working With It, is coming out, I’ve uploaded each book to Smashwords.

Don’t know about Smashwords? You should, if you read or write books. You can download publications in virtually any format. And, unlike Amazon, you don’t have to pay to download your own book. Yes, you heard me correctly. Want a mobi file for reviews? Free. An epub? Free. It’s pretty freakin’ amazing. Oh, and they’ll distribute to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc. for you. For free. Yes, everyone still gets their cut when your book is purchased, but the hassle of uploading to a dozen places is gone. And I call that a victory. I also call drinking three bottles of wine without puking a victory, so take it as you will.

Any-hoo. Book 3 is coming out June 22nd and I’m excited. I actually hired someone to do a Cover Reveal, Pre-Order stuff, and a Tour or some shit–I really get confused with all these terms: tour, blitz, blast, explosion … okay, okay, that last one isn’t a thing. But shouldn’t it be? I want my books to explode. All over your face. Kidding! That’s your husband’s job, Deborah. Too far? Sorry, I’ve been drinking. Okay, okay, I haven’t been drinking. I’m just not a very good person.

Moving on–the lovely Tami at Magic of Books Promotions is running the show. I haven’t had to do jack aside from send her my stuff. Worth. Every. Penny. Don’t ask how much I spent. I didn’t write it down. More than $100, but I think not much more because I’m stingy like that. Oh, and she’s secured some ARC readers. I can NEVER get those! Well, I do if you count my mom. But I don’t really like her reading my sex scenes. Yuck.

I just wish I had a wide distribution in place prior to starting down this path. The only drawback is that some sites won’t set up the pre-order without a book cover. So if you do a reveal, you might be limited on links for purchase. But I risked it due to the fact that Amazon is King of the Hill right now. They allowed it. Already, I have more pre-orders than my last book, which had zero promotion outside of my tweets, blog, and Facebook page.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday, Universe (that’d be y’all I’m addressing). If any authors are interested in how this goes, I’ll try to pay better attention and write some quantitative analysis posts. Shit, I couldn’t even say that with a straight face. But seriously, if this launch goes better than my other two–which didn’t really have launches–I’ll share whatever tricks and tips I have. And be sure to check out Tami at MoB Promos. She’s a dream.

Oh, and one last thing. Books 1 & 2 are 99 cents thru the release of Book 3.

Exiting Kindle Select

Free May 2017

With the expiration date coming this month, I’ve decided to exit my Kindle Select option and go for a wider distribution. I haven’t used all my promo options with Select, so I am using the last four free days in an attempt to drum up interest before Book 3’s release in June.

Does this sort of thing work? I don’t know. I have used one free day via Select and I had close to 500 downloads–which is better than I’ve ever done. But free = $0. I don’t write to pay the bills, so for now I’m okay with that. I just want people to read the books and get some laughter out of the them. Today we’re going of the two-fer in honor of Book 3’s release and as an adios to Select. Only time will tell if this strategy worked. And I got some time, so why not?

Happy reading, y’all!

Cover Up

Due to my little health scare, I’ve had some time on my hands while recuperating. Idle time has never been a good thing for me, but it did provide me with a level of excruciatingly painful boredom that forced me to do some things I really didn’t want to do. Mainly, research.

Being a self-published author is great. So many of the industry barriers are removed. All you need is a file and Internet access. With the click of a button, voila! You are published. Doesn’t mean shit in terms of sales, but you wrote that sucker for self-fulfillment, right? Wrong, Deborah!

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WTF, Universe?


Ah, Universe. You’ve really done a number on me. But that’s okay. I forgive you for being a bitch. It is often in your nature. And, really, you may have done me a favor. A shitty favor, but a favor, nonetheless.

You guys see that picture? Those are my legs. Let’s play one of these things does not look like the other one. Can you guess the difference? Yep, the left leg is purple and almost two inches in diameter bigger. Can you guess why? No? Neither could the first doctor that looked at me. Tried to send me home with a prescription for painkillers and told me to ice it. Ice what? The entire fucking leg?

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Sexy Covers for Lovers

I’m in the midst of writing a 3rd book for my Persimmon Series. I’ve also recently finished a first draft of a fantasy novel. None of which have covers. I’m curious, as an author who cannot afford to pay for a professional cover at this point in time, how other authors go about creating their covers.

I really like the covers I made for Working On It and Working For It. They kind of match, as in similar coloring, matching fonts, etc. And they’re uber sexy, if I don’t say so myself. See below.

But most of what I see out there now have half-naked men. Or half-naked men with women. Which I totally dig. I just want to know if romance readers prefer the dudes. I’m guessing the answer is YES. But, as a reader, I also like the sexy ladies on the cover. No, Deborah, I’m not bi-curious. I just like pretty things.

If you’re so inclined, leave me a comment or take part in my poll so I have some actual data to confirm my suspicions. Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t great science. But I’m an author, not a physicist. So suck it, Deborah. Also, I’m going to attempt to embed the tweet I made on Twitter. Don’t judge. If it doesn’t work, you can click here to see my tweet on Twitter. I can’t stop saying tweet on Twitter! And why isn’t tweet capitalized???