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Wednesday, 4 March 2020

#IWSG post - It takes a tribe to publish and market a book. Here's 5 Tips to Marketing to try!

Hi friends!

If we feel insecure about our writing and marketing, we need help and that's what this group is all about. Today I've invited someone to guest post who may be able to help you with your marketing. We all know marketing is easy, right? Wrong! And it's complicated. My guest Tania Joyce tells us just how complicated it is!

Before Tania gets underway, I want to thank Alex's awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG:  Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence! Visit if you can.


Click HERE for the list of participants to read more...

You do it, don't you? Scan the Acknowledgements in traditionally-published books. Read all about those who've helped the author - agents, early readers, publishers, researchers, fact checkers, more readers, editors, book cover artists - I usually count at least 40 people involved in one book.

So why do many self-published authors think they can do it without a tribe of their own?

I've been gathering a tribe around me for years. But the most important members of my tribe are my critique partners - Tania Joyce and Sheila Korner Grice. We formed an alliance after meeting each other at a Margie Lawson Immersion Class 3 years ago and have critiqued each other's work ever since.


My fabulous critters, Tania (left), Sheila (right)

I forgot to give Tania a word limit when I asked her to guest blog, but with the number of times I read bloggers feeling insecure about marketing, rather than try to edit this article down, I'm going to leave it to you to take what you wish from it. Some parts are so technical I shudder and roll my eyes and pray for understanding, LOL. If you, like me, have any questions, ask away in the comments.

Here we go...

Five Things I’ve Learned About Marketing Other Than Putting Half-Naked Men on my Covers

1.     You have to treat being an author like a business. It takes time, effort, a lot of trial, error, research and investment to know where you fit into the author landscape and the marketing strategies you want to undertake. The best thing though is, in this business, you can start with a small budget and work your way up. But you do have to spend money to make money.

When I first started creative writing at the tender age of 36, the first thing I learnt about author marketing is there is so much to learn. With fifteen years’ experience in corporate marketing, I thought I knew how to market, but author marketing was a whole different world. I had to start from scratch. Online marketing, social media and promotions unveiled an entirely different approach to product marketing. It’s exciting and forever changing. I knew nothing about Facebook Advertising and Amazon Advertising. I dabbled at first and have slowly built my brand awareness and product sales by reading, going to conferences and doing online courses. Enrolling in Mark Dawson’s Self Publish Formula course and studying Brian Meek’s Mastering Amazon Ads provided the foundation and turning point in my author career. I have done courses, read books and I’m involved with many online groups like 20Booksto50k. It takes time to sift through the clutter of ads, offerings and advice to find what works for you. I do well with AMS ads, but I’m still trying to master FB ads. Grrr! What works for one person, may not work for another. Being flexible, patient and persistent is key.
Mark Dawson’s SPF Course: https://selfpublishingformula.com/

2.   Finding your tribe and people who can help you is essential. There are numerous best-selling authors and industry experts out there who can help you learn and achieve success, but for me it has been fundamental in finding a group of local authors who are on the same journey. I’m fortunate enough to have joined a romance writing group when we were all newbie authors, unpublished and had no clue on how to do this authoring thing. We met at the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. Over the years (since 2012), we’ve all been published (some traditional, some self-published, some hybrid). We’ve all done various courses, workshops, attended conferences and continued with online training. We share our findings, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and we constantly help each other. It’s incredible to have this trust and be always willing to help and share our knowledge. 

I was traditionally published. I quickly learnt that traditional publishers do not have outlandish budgets for new authors — there were no book tours, no advertisements, no book launch party, didn’t even get my books into stores. I got a couple of online blogs. That’s it. I learnt that most, if not all, marketing fell onto my shoulders. At launch, I had no idea how the book was doing, because I had no access to sales data. The royalty check at six months was my only indicator. It was dismal.

When the division of my publisher folded, I opted to get my rights back. … I’m now 100% indie. It has been the best thing. I got control. I got access to data. I could now change covers, blurbs, run ads, manage keywords, fix that one annoying typo in my manuscript, see instant sales data and ad performance all within a quick click. While the learning curve has been steep and challenging, it has been totally awesome!

3.       Love your data. You may hate it, but you have to do some maths. The platforms you sell on eg Amazon, provide you with a bucket load of information, but it’s a matter of sifting through it, and analysing your results so you can work out what is and isn’t working, only then can you work on improving and scaling marketing strategies.

Learn what your clickthrough ratio is (Impressions/clicks), your conversion rate (clicks/sales), and if writing a series, your readthrough rates (sales_Book2/Sales_Book1 etc). They are vital statistics for advertising purposes and to see if your books are actually selling.

The unfortunate thing here is places like Amazon do not give you all the information in one nice report. Current AMS ads reports do not include Kindle Unlimited information. You have to download data from different places to work out your ratios and rates, but it’s worth it.  I have this down to a fine art. It takes me 15-20minutes a day to download my data, enter it into my spreadsheet, add in my expenses and sales figures. I can see what ads are performing, the ones that are not, and make any tweaks if necessary.

Out of my six books and 1 x duo bundle, I have 213 AMS ads running. My average ad clickthrough ratio is 1:930 (1 x click per 930 impressions…which is good), my clicks to sales is 1:6 (one sale every 6 clicks…freaking awesome!), my readthrough on KU is 75%. My ROI is 43% (and slowly getting better.) Learn to love your data.

While the information in this book is dated in regards to cost-per-click data and some ad types have changed, this resource has all the formulas in it and is a great place to start for ads. Brian Meeks: Mastering AMS Ads: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072SNXYMY

4.       Be prepared to change. The market is a continual moving set of goal posts and you must be prepared to move with it. Facebook and Amazon continually change and update their algorithms. What works for you one month, may not work the next. 

Know your genre, sub-genre, analyse the top-selling authors in your genre, study their image, their book covers, their blurbs. Use this research to market your books. (Sorry…half-naked men on covers works for my genre!) When I first got published, I didn’t want bare-chested men on my books. I wanted to be professional and classy. My books didn’t sell. I changed the covers and instantly saw a change in sales. Follow market trends in what is working in artwork and graphic design. Your cover needs to sell your book, genre, capture the eye, and be in line with your branding and image.

5.       Be relevant. This is critical for advertising. Learn to target correctly. Use refined keywords, target like-authors, similar book titles and niche genres. Platforms like Facebook and Amazon “learn” through its algorithms where to place your ads and to which customers it should show your ads. Just because you like reading Stephen King novels, don’t use “Stephen King” as a keyword if you write sweet romance. It’s not relevant.

I write rock star romance, which falls into the category of New Adult Romance. But this category includes everything from vampires, shapeshifters and witches, through to bad boys, bikers and billionaires. It is important to zone in on your niche. I make sure I only target ‘rock star romance’ books, authors and keywords. It takes more time but conversation rates will be better and making sales is what it’s all about.

As an indie author, marketing is a constant and essential part of my business. New ads, new graphics, new content for social media posts, promotions, learning and data analysis all have to fit around writing the next book and my family. Time management is critical. A great support network is imperative. I’m fortunate to have the best critique partners in the world. Our tight timeframes keep me from spending too much time on Facebook, obsessing over ads and drowning in information overload. Love your data, embrace marketing, make it fun! And hopefully make money along the way!

About Tania Joyce

I'm an author of New Adult and Contemporary Romance novels. My stories thread romance, drama and passion into beautiful locations ranging from the dazzling lights and glitter of New York, to the rural countryside of the Hunter Valley in Australia.
I like to write about strong-minded, career-oriented heroes and heroines that go through drama-filled hell, have steamy encounters and risk everything as they endeavour to find their happily-ever-after.
I call Brisbane, Australia, home.

LATEST RELEASE
RAPT – The Price of Love. Everhide Rockstar Romance Series Book #3
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Today I was supposed to marry the girl of my dreams. She didn’t turn up.

Life in world-famous rock band, Everhide, has pushed Kyle's and Gemma's hearts, careers and friendship to the limits. But they are soulmates. Their love is profound. Intense. Getting married is their dream come true.
But not everyone feels the same way.
Someone obsessed with Kyle wants Gemma dead.


DEAD!
Surely the danger isn't real? It's just some crazed fan pulling a prank.
When the threats escalate, Kyle's over-protectiveness kicks in and Gemma's grip on sanity wears thin. With concerts and festivals to play before their big day, she won't let anyone derail their wedding plans.
But one false move puts her in danger.

When life teeters on its edge and she risks everything she loves, can Gemma find the strength to let Kyle into her guarded heart before it's too late?

If you like sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense, full of intrigue and heart wrenching romance, RAPT – The Price of Love will captivate you. With strong heroines, and intense heroes, this rock star romance will make your heart race right up to the epic emotional ending. Be prepared. Grab your copy today.



  • Did you enjoy Tania's article? Any questions? Ask in comments...
  • Do you have a marketing tip or two? Do tell...

LOVE IT - TWEET IT! LOVE IT - TWEET IT!

@TaniaJoyceBooks @DeniseCCovey, #author shares #marketindtips  https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/03/iwsg-post-it-takes-tribe-to-publish-and.html #amwriting #ammarketing #amazonads

Learn some #marketingtips https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/03/iwsg-post-it-takes-tribe-to-publish-and.html @TaniaJoyceBooks @DeniseCCovey,#amwriting #ammarketing #amazonads



82 comments:

  1. I am traditionally published, so a lot of that I don't have control over, but I do know most of the marketing falls to me. And my tribe is the IWSG!

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    1. I am so glad I got my rights back for this very reason. It was so hard to get anything done without their approval. Freedom is bliss.

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    2. I totally get your tribe, Alex!

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  2. Yes, having a tribe is important. Being supportive of other writers is a good way to build a group of people willing to help you. That's one of the things I love about the IWSG too.

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    1. I love my tribe. I wouldn't be the author I am today without them.

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    2. The tribe is all important in so many aspects of life, Natalie!

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  3. Eek! Marketing is scary!! I'm heading toward publishing a small-town romance series later on this year (I hope!) and I've avoided the bare-chested men... Hmm....

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    1. Mmmm...yes! Bare chest, cowboy hat, jeans and boots. Now we're talking!

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    2. Hi Jemi. You've gotta do what you gotta do. I give Tania digs about her half-naked men, but it works for her genre.

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  4. "Marketing, my favorite part of being an author" ... said no author, ever! Still working on that end of the process, but I do like the shout out to your crit partners. Having insightful feedback is an absolute must!

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    1. My critique partners are AMAZING! We each have our strengths and always there to help each other out. Love my gals!

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    2. We mostly all hate it, Ian, but it helps if someone leads the way -- like Tania who totally gets this stuff!

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  5. Great article, Tania! Your clicks to sales is impressive. I'm not quite there yet but today I updated my book description and am hoping that will make a difference. I'm sad that YASIV may be discontinuing. That was so handy for research!
    Hi Denise!

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    1. Thank you. I do like my click:sales ratio, too. It's taken a lot of work and blurb writing. I changed from a "traditional" back-of-book blurb style to a first-person style and the results shone. (My books are written in third person - doesn't matter. Just do it!!!) Yasiv was good but there are other sources like Listopia on Goodreads, Also Boughts on Amazon, PublisherRocket. Use a tool like Instant Data Scraper (Chrome plugin) to save time from typing.

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    2. Hi Lyn. Great to see Tania here, isn't it? Glad you're getting into the promo. I've got it all ahead of me.

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    3. Yes! Awesome to see Tania here. More great tips! I hadn't thought to put the description in first person, though I'm starting to see more and more of that around. And Yep, I use all those great sources for research and scrape the heck out of them ;) Still somewhat time consuming, but oddly fun.

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  6. It takes a tribe to get most things done, and marketing an intangible is one of the most challenging! A book is selling an experience not just the physical or digital pages. The author/publisher is marketing that experience. Great analysis and tips from Tanya Joyce. Thank you both.

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  7. Hello Critters! Tania, your marketing advice is spot on. I'm so grateful to have you and Denise as critique partners and friends. Like Denise said, being part of a supportive tribe is essential.

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    Replies
    1. Love to see us all together on my blog spreading the marketing word.

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  8. Hi, Denise, Tania, thanks for the information especially on the use of keywords? We're always looking for the secret to getting that right? And I totally agree having the freedom is key, but knowing how to market is a learning process for most of us. Thanks for your help! Congratulations on your success!

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    1. Being relevant is critical.

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    2. Ha, scraping is the key to keywords. More about that...

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  9. Hi Denise. This was helpful. Though as of now I'm really struggling with being on Social Media. It doesn't help but adds on to the misery. I've just taken a while off. I hope I can work towards it.
    Sonia from https://soniadogra.com

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    Replies
    1. Take it slowly. There is so much to learn. Find what works for you.

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    2. Sonia, it's a big task but we need all that marketing and social media is a necessary evil. Perhaps you're spreading yourself too thin? Choose one or two and don't be temped to be on everything!

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  10. Thanks Tania and Denise. I love data--but finding it sounds like a right of passage! LOL

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    Replies
    1. I love data too. It is essential for marketing/advertising correctly.

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    2. I'm sure you'll sort it Holly!

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  11. This was all so right on the mark, Denise. This is a business, and it takes many more skills than creating a good story. Thanks so much for the excellent post.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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    2. I struggle with it being a business, Lee, but it's no good writing books that no one reads because they don't know they exist!

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  12. Hi,
    I really appreciate Tania opening up the grey box of marketing. I have been reading one or two books and talking to several people. They all say that for the new writer on the block, marketing is the key to letting people know your book is out there and this work come from the writer. So what I have heard agrees with everything she's said. Thank you for hosting her on your blog and I wish her all the best. And you too
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Hope you find some useful tips. Good luck.

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    2. You'll sort it, Pat. When I become 'expert' like Tania, I'll help you!

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  13. A lot of it does fall on the author's shoulders, but some aren't prepared for that. Keywords and data is something I have to check for all of DLP's books.

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    1. Find what you are comfortable with. You can do it...from newsletters, to posts,to ads, to data analysis data and more.

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    2. I think there was a great seismic shift when authors became their own marketers, which is why I've decided not to go traditional.

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  14. Marketing definitely seems scary to me, but I try not to think about it too much right now until I actually finish writing my book. It's nice to read some advice to keep in the back of my brain, though!

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    Replies
    1. You should start now. Get your website, FB Page and newsletter subscriber list going. Start finding your audience to sell your book to when it is ready.

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    2. "Finish the book" was Margaret Attwood's best advice. But you have to start some things happening beforehand.

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  15. A clever article, but somewhat discouraging. I know Tania's list is a solid one. I'm just not sure I could do it myself. If I had an agent for just sales and marketing... A writer could dream, right?

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    1. Wouldn't that be everyone's wish=, Olga. I get twitchy when I lose writing time, but if we want to make any moolah, we have to do what Tania is doing very successfully.

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    2. Don't be discouraged. Take small steps.

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  16. I find this fascinating - and more than a little daunting. I have long suspected that writers have to hold down at least two jobs (not counting paid employment and relationships which are jobs of their own).
    Yet again, a huge thank you to all writers. I deeply and fervently admire the blood sweat and tears which goes into your work.

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    1. I'm always astounded when a trad-pubbed best-selling author still says they can't afford to give up the day job even after 8 or so books. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark...or trad publishing.

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    2. LOL - There is certainly a lot of blood, sweat and tears...and that's just with my crit group (love you gals!) I saw the big turn around after Book #5. The marketing compounds because you can continually promote your backlist. It's more about refining and streamlining processes when you do it all yourself.

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  17. All true. The only thing for me is that ads don't work because I'm traditionally published, so I don't earn as much as self-publishers would for the sales they get through ads (my publisher takes a cut). And, yes, it is very true that authors with publishers have to do all of the marketing. That's one thing many don't realize beforehand and that turns them off.

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    1. Which is why the indies are making the big bucks when they do it right.

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    2. Yes - I used to get so frustrated when I was trad published. Love the freedom now. Just keep pushing your trad publisher to do promo for you. It's what they are supposed to do. Make them earn their money :-) (Easier said than done, right?)

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  18. Traditional or Indie, I think having a tribe does make a lot of difference!

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    Replies
    1. Makes all the diff, for sure.

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    2. Finding my tribe made the world of difference. Likeminded people, common goals, passion for writing is key.

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  19. Interesting point about the data. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Data is essential for monitoring and adjusting your marketing. It can get addictive. Enjoy it.

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  20. Marketing seems like a full time job! When do you have time to write, lol.

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    1. Exactly. Luckily I have Tania who's gone before me and pioneered the way. When I find something that works, I'll tell you Partner!

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    2. Some marketing can take time to setup, but once done, it's easy to maintain and tweak. And yes, I should be writing right now :-)

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  21. These are fantastic tips. I don't put too much thought into marketing at the moment (other than having a blog and social media presence) as I'm concentrating more on learning the craft and getting words on the page, but I always bookmark posts like this for future reference.
    I definitely need to work on building my tribe. I have several online writing buddies but nobody offline that I could meet and chat with. I live in quite a remote area where there are no established writing clubs or anything like that, but perhaps I should put out feelers and see if there are any like-minded people out there.

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    1. Yes, Anstice, as wonderful as online critique partners are, there is no substitute for facea-at-face. My writing only started working when I met regularly with Tania and Sheila. We all have complementary strengths and weaknesses.

      Your writing received WEP's biggest gong this month! Congratulations!

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    2. I know I'm very fortunate to find my writing buddies. Put the feelers out there, you never know who's lurking. Good luck.

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  22. Great info, Tania. Thanks, Denise, for inviting her to speak to us. Great help.

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    1. I'm glad Diane. So much to know.

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    2. Hope you find some useful tips. Thanks Denise for having me.

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  23. great guest post - i also think romance just sells better, especially with a hunky cover =)
    so yes, do all those things, but marketing is still a lot of work for little return. good thing i have a day job to pay the bills!

    and Denise, wanted to say thanks for stopping by my Beast World campaign at Alex’s!

    Tara Tyler Talks

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    1. You're welcome Tara.
      A lot of authors have made ads work for them. It's not really possible to earn much without ads.

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  24. I could relate to a lot of what Tania had to say. I haven't run all the reports she talked about- but they do sound interesting (and important to learn about). Wishing her all the best with her books.

    Great post!
    ~Jess

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  25. Hi Denise - sorry I'm late ... glad Jess is late too! This does seem so thorough - though I'm not in the field ... but I do enjoy the knowledge. Great to have it set out for us ... cheers to you and your 2 special pals ... Hilary

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