Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Maybe It's Just Me

I have a thing about series.  As a reader, I can't seem to continue to read about the same characters for overly long.  Without fail, the quirks I thought were cute in the first books steadily become annoying.  I think it's a case of 'familiarity breeds contempt'.

One series I was reading... Well, the last book I picked up in it, all of the characters were irritating the hell out of me in the first few chapters. I closed the book with a heavy sigh and swore off any others that may come out.  I'd rather remember the joy I felt reading those earlier books.

I managed to make it all the way through the StarDoc series, but that was probably because I read them out of order and because the author threw a wrench into the middle and made the MC into a totally different person.  (Seriously damaged brain that takes even a super-healing person several books to get over.)  I stopped reading the Dresden Files at book 11 (meant 12... shoulda looked it up).  Don't look at me.  He's the one who wrote it the way he did - like he was sick to death of writing Dresden and wanted it all to be over.  Except it wasn't.  I think I went a bit farther with the The Cat Who books, but I'd bought a collection of them and was determined to read all the ones I had, even though those last few were meh for me.

Oh, it's not that I don't like series.  Usually, I want to know more about the characters after the first book.  Up to a certain point.  Once I pass that point?  Meh. 

As a writer, I find myself getting to a point where I just don't care enough to continue to write in the same world with the same characters over and over.  Which is why Once Upon a Djinn stopped at four.  I was done with that world.  And it's also why the SCIU series is only a series because of the organization and some mentions of characters or events in other books.  I was done with the Jace and Ben storyline.  Moved on to the Teri story and was done with that.  And Ned.  I'm almost kind of done with the whole SCIU organization.  Maybe one more book.  I'm still planning at least one more book in the Dennis Haggarty mysteries, but who knows when that'll happen.

You see, I get bored.  Probably why I can't seem to want to write anymore Sleeping Ugly books.  SU was loads of fun to write, but carrying that idea further?  :yawn:  This may change once I've put some more distance between me and the characters, but I'm not promising anything at this moment.

I know the readers aren't bored with my series.  They've told me.  And they seem to be clamoring for more.  And as I said the other day, I don't want to disappoint them.  But I think writing in a world that's no longer that interesting to me would be doing them a disservice. 

Except readers like series.  Series sell books.  It's a quandary.

I have absolutely no intention of making Evil Space Bunnies a book 1.  When I'm done with it, I'll be done. :Fingers crossed:

How about you?  Do you have the same problem with series that I do?  I guess a lot of people don't because series are so popular.  So maybe it's just me.


Monday, January 28, 2019

Angsting and a Snippet

Sitting here trying to think of what to post this morning.  Generally, when there's nothing on my radar to talk about, I turn to posting snippets.  And I'd really like to post a snippet of Evil Space Bunnies, but it's horribly raw.  Not raw as in rated-R, but raw as in way undercooked.  Like one of my usual Thanksgiving turkeys - pink in the middle*.  A Salmonella Express Production.  Which would be seriously disappointing.

And then I got to thinking how I didn't want to disappoint anyone by posting a snippet and then not being able to actually publish this book for some reason.

And Voila! a post subject presented itself. 

I don't know how many times I've stopped myself from doing something out of the fear of disappointment.  Disappointing myself.  Disappointing others. 

What if I can't finish this?  What if I do finish it, but it's not as awesome as I thought it was going to be?  Either way, someone is going to be disappointed. 

Here I sit, telling people about this book and I'm not even sure I can put my money where my mouth is.  (And wondering why I told people about this book at all, but I was just so excited to be writing again, I couldn't help myself.)

What I have to do is get over myself.  And get over this fear.  The only way to never disappoint anyone is to never do anything.  Never try anything.  Sit in a chair, watching TV, and slowly atrophying.  Sounds like a blast.  Not.

So, to combat that, here's a snippet of the undercooked, 'way too first drafty' Evil Space Bunnies:


A cute and fluffy bunny hopped across the meadow toward me.  His shiny button eyes twinkled and his tiny velvet nose wrinkled.  Next thing I knew, the little bastard whipped out some kind of ray gun and shot me in the ankle. 
That’s the last donation the ASPCA gets from me, I thought.
Looking back, that’s how this whole thing got started.  One minute I’m enjoying a beautiful summer day; the next, I’m running for my life.  It was as if the whole species  of lagomorphs suddenly decided they’d had enough of being darling, and decided it was high time they took over the job of King of the Forest.
It wasn’t until much later I found out about the space ship.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.  My name is Ronald.  Ronald Aardboer.  I own a small vegetable farm in the middle of Indiana.  I raise lettuce, carrots, cabbage… Anything you might get the urge to toss together and drown in the dressing of your choice.  People around town call my place Salad Acres.  Funny.  I didn’t think a thing about it, but I guess my place was the obvious starting point for the invasion.
Like I was saying.  The damn thing hopped out across the meadow… You know the one.  Just past the lettuce beds and before you get to the pond.  And before I knew what was happening, the damn thing shot me in the ankle.  Hurt like hell, but it was such a tiny gun it really didn’t damage anything.  So I turned tail and ran like the dickens back toward the barn.  I keep my 12-gauge in there for scaring off critters.  I grabbed the thing, and ran back toward where that rabbit had been.  Sure enough, there he was, and he was laughing at me.  Well, I cocked the rifle and blew his itty bitty head clear off.
I probably shouldn’t have done that, thinking about it now.  ‘Cause it really pissed off the hundred or so of the little bugger’s buddies.  They came flying out of the woods and out of the long grass, screaming to beat the band, and each of ‘em had a little ray gun.


This may or may not be a whole book at some point down the road.  So don't get your hopes up.  Let's just bask in the happy of my actually writing again.  K?


*Which is why I don't do Thanksgiving turkeys.  Or any whole turkey.  Every turkey, every time - pink in the middle.  Years ago, Hubs took over turkey duty.  Probably to save himself from potential food poisoning.  Give me any other meat and I am awesome.  Put a turkey in front of me, and I lose my ability to cook.  :shrug:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bored Bored Bored

The other day, I was reading a post over at The Mad Genius Club.  The writer was talking about being bored with his writing. And I recognized the symptoms.

Yeah, it's not something we talk about.  Because, ya know, readers might get the wrong impression - like we're bored so our books must be boring.  But we writers know that's not the case.  What we're talking about when we mention being bored refers to being bored with what we're currently writing.  (Ages away from publication here, folks.)

And I'm saying 'we' because, yeah, I'm bored, too.

As y'all know, my creativity well's been pretty damn dry lately.  And I've been stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out why.  This may be the answer.

Every time I think about any book I've got on my writing schedule - the books that NEED to be completed because they're in a series, etc. - I totally don't want to write them.  I feel like I've been there, done that.  And I can't think of anything new to write.  SCIU?  DH?  OUAD?  SU?  :yawn:  It's all been done.  :breaks into the refrain from a Bare Naked Ladies song:

Bored bored bored.  Garfield hanging on a screen door bored.

So, I'm been trying to shift my thinking over to something that won't bore the shit out of me.  Maybe it's time to hit that Arthurian UF I've been thinking about.  Or maybe, just maybe, it's time to revisit that SF with the evil space bunnies.  Neither of those would be boring.

The Arthurian UF is about the knights and villains of the myth coming to life inside various people of today and the heroes have to find Excaliber before the villains do or bad things will happen.  (You now, like apocalyptic bad.)  It's gonna be a lot of work, which might be why I left it after the opening scene.  Loads of research into the myths, etc.to get the characters right.  I mean, I inhaled everything Arthurian I could get my hands on once upon a time, but that was ages ago.

The bunny thing is about cute, fluffy - but totally evil - bunnies coming to conquer Earth and the farmer who fights them.  It'll be funny and quirky and crazy things will happen.  Writing that might be easier, even though I've never done SF.  It started out as a short story I was fiddling with years ago, but it's morphed into something larger in my head.

Either way, it can't hurt to try writing something different for a while.  Maybe it'll shake something loose and I can go back to writing the things I need to write.  :shrug:  Time will tell.   

Hopefully, sometime soon, you'll see me talking about progress on something.  It's been like 6 weeks since I did anything major in the writing/editing sphere and I'm starting to get the DTs.

Are you bored?  What can you do to shake yourself out of it? 

Update:  I sat down last night and wrote almost 1600 new words.  I only stopped because it's been so long since I wrote that my hands needed a break.  Then I went to bed and couldn't stop thinking about where the story was going to go and what would happen next.  Yeah, baby.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  Here's hoping this keeps up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Stuffs

The reason I've been posting a lot about sales and marketing is that is all I'm doing right now.  No new words still.  No editing.  Just sales and marketing.  Which is better than nothing writerly, I guess.

The Sleeping Ugly sale ended last night.  It tanked.  The best thing to come out of it was that someone read the whole thing in KU and then started reading Wish in One Hand.  Sorta how that end-links thing is supposed to work.  Yay.  If that one person reads the entirely of the OUAD series, it will pay for the ad.  Also yay.

I've been spending some time thinking about writing.  Better than last month when I couldn't even do that.  Baby steps, I guess.  Although, it would probably help if my brain would stop skipping from one story to the next.  "I could do this with SCIU #4 and that with DH #3 and here's a page for that Arthurian UF and here's some lines for... and maybe if you did this with..." Stop it already.  Find a story and stick with it.

I saw on FB that my cover artist fell and crumpled herself.  Ack.  I have a spot with her next month for the third Ugly cover.  I don't need it next month (the book isn't even close to being written), but it was only spot she had available so I snapped it up.  She doesn't have any more open spots until sometime in 2020.  Anyway, I hope she gets better quick - and not just because I need her.  She's a super-cool person and really nice and she doesn't deserve to be laid up.

Is it just me or do other self-published authors have nightmares about stuff like that?  Artists and editors injuring themselves so they won't be there when we need them?  :shudder:

While I'm not writing or publishing, I'm hoarding fundage so that when the dam finally does break and I'm ready to put more books out into the universe, I'll be able to pay for them.  Or, you know, if my computer has a meltdown, I'll be able to get a new one.  That kind of stuffs.

Oh, and I'm putting the entire Once Upon a Djinn series on sale next month.  The 3rd through the 9th.  WIOH will be 99c/99p.  The rest will be $1.99.  I have an ad with Bargain Booksy going out on the 5th.  I might try doing some other advertising during that time.  Maybe I'll make the leap and try an Amazon ad. 

I think that's about all the stuff for right now.  Any questions?  Comments?  Stuffs of your own?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Using FB to Market Books

Facebook, pain in the ass that it can be, is also a place to do some marketing.

I've talked before about FB groups.  I may have talked before about FB ads - I don't remember.  But I don't think, in either case, I've really addressed what works and what doesn't.

First off, FB ads.  Or rather post boosts.  (I'm not sure if I've ever done a real 'FB ad'.)    Anyway, I'm talking about the thing where you pay FB to make your post more visible.  I've done these on numerous occasions.  I don't think I've ever seen a sale I can directly link to an FB boost.  I don't think I've ever even seen any new Page follows from them.  Why do I continue to use them?  One word: Visibility.  Even if I have no proof any of them ever work, they are splashing my name and my books out there to a couple thousand people.  It might, I dunno, stick in their subconscious somewhere, so that when they see my books they might maybe think 'hey, I've heard of B.E. Sanderson' and then go peruse my titles.  :shrug:

My first forays into boosting posts met with opposition.  I was trying to do graphics and junk, and they always said that my graphics didn't meet their requirements.  (Too much text in the image or some such nonsense.)  Then I tried boosting posts that only had Amazon links.  All of those have been approved so far.  And every time I boost, my page views do skyrocket, so that's something.

One thing about FB ads is that you have to narrow the field by being specific about who you want to reach.  I think for my last ad, I went into their thingie-bob and tried to target certain demographics.  People who have said they like to read, for instance.  Yeah, seems like a no-brainer, but you really have to dig deep to find that, and I wasn't finding it at first.  Once I did that, I think the boosts were more effective.  Your mileage may vary.

And I never have paid more than $20.  Not sure if my ads would do better if I paid more, but that's about all I'm willing to pay for getting exposure.

Now, as for FB group posts.  I've talked about this before.  But I'd like to add some additional insights that might help you.  For one thing, ads with photos instead of just links seem to do better.  Not sure why - I mean, the link puts a damn picture in the post anyway - but from my experience, photos do better than just links.  :shrug:  I posted a couple of my latest marketing photos yesterday at The Writing Spectacle.  Here are a couple others from my sale in December:

Nothing major.  I took the photos myself, so it wasn't any additional money.  But they really did seem to work.  :shrug:

Another thing I've noticed is that my posts get more traction if I include hashtags.  (A fact I forgot until yesterday's marketing posts.)  Yeah, it didn't make sense to me either.  Hashtags on FB?  I thought hashtags were only for Twitter, but I guess they're everywhere now.

When you're making an ad for FB, I think there are a few key points you need to have in there.  Chiefly, title, price, and links, but also put something in there that will attract attention - quote a review, drop a short teaser from the book, put a really short blurb.  Make sure that if your books are in the KU program, you say that.  Sure, the reader will find that out if they click the link, but they have to want to click the link to find out.  Why make more work for them? 

Here's the post that went out to the various FB groups yesterday:

"SLEEPING UGLY is on sale now thru Sunday*. 99c/99p. (Always free with Kindle Unlimited.)

"Snarky, funny, scary, enthralling -- this story isn't your childhood fairy tale! " - Amazon Review

Get your copy today. #paranormal #mystery #fun #ebooks #snarky #curses

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GM24Q48
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GM24Q48"
I try to change them up a little every day so I'm not boring the shit out of people with my daily ads.  And, as I've said before, don't post to any FB group more than once a day.  I print out my list of FB groups for each sale now, and make notes as to date and time of each post, so I don't piss off the group moderators.  So far, so good.  You do not want to get kicked off any of your go-to groups or you'll lose that forever.  
Now, sales from these posts aren't wild.  I see maybe a sale or two a day, when I do it right (photo, grabby stuff, hashtags).  But it's certainly better than a sharp stick in the butt, if you catch my drift. 
As always, your mileage may vary.  And lord knows, I am not the Queen's High Expert on any of this.   Still, I hope this helps.  May your experiences with this stuff exceed mine.  

Any questions?  Any comments?  Anything you're doing that might help someone else with this stuff?

*Another note.  The sale is actually through Tuesday.  But I brainfarted in a major way and all of my posts went live with Sunday in them.  Every single freakin' one.  Which goes to show that no matter how hard you try, there is always a chance you will fuck something up.  No real harm done - except I look like I'm wearing a big, red nose and floppy clown feet to anyone who clicked the link and saw that the Kindle Countdown Deal did not end on Sunday.  Chalk it up to live and learn.  At least I spelled everything right.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kindle Unlimited and Reviews

I don't know about the rest of you, but I never seem to see reviews from Kindle Unlimited readers.  I can see them reading my books, sometimes one after another, but there never seem to be any reviews left afterwards.

Maybe it's just me.  :shrug:

Still, one would think that KU subscribers are hard-core readers.  I mean, I'm an avid reader, but I can't spare the scratch to subscribe, so them that do must be really into reading to spare $20 a month.  And one would think that being hard-core readers, they would want to see the books they read succeed.  And in order to succeed, books need reviews.

Again, maybe it's just me.  I review pretty much everything I read - especially when the book I finished needs reviews.  (Not so much on books that don't need reviews - big name authors, famous books, etc.)  Might not always be an Amazon review (I'm working on that) but almost always a Goodreads review.

Now, my reviews probably aren't the best.  I usually just write a review with my reaction to the book.  I don't summarize the stories.  But you don't need to write lengthy reviews.  It's not the size of the reviews, it's the quantity of them that propel book sales. "Loved this."  "Cute and fun."  "Super thrilling."  Takes like a minute and you make the writer so happy.

I'm typically loathe to ask for reviews.  One time I did that on Twitter and the next day I got my wish - a low-star review left by someone who obviously hadn't read the book.  So nice of them to stop by.  Sort of a 'that'll teach her to ask for reviews' thing.  Well, it sure did teach me.  Bleh.

So, I'm not asking for reviews here*.  I'm just pondering why KU subscribers seem to be the last ones to leave them.  (Present company excepted, of course.)

Any thoughts?  Is it just me or do you see reviews after you see a bunch of page reads?  If you subscribe, do you leave reviews?

Just trying to figure things out here.



*Although I certainly wouldn't be adverse to getting reviews if you happened to read and enjoy my books.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Nitty-Gritty of Using Ads

Okay, I said something about posting about the nitty-gritty of using these ads I've been using.  I know it can be scary.  Especially if you've faced the whole bid-ad thing (which frankly, gives me the willies).

What I'm talking about is a straight forward ad.  You pay them a set price, give them all the particulars of your book, pick a day, put your book on sale for that day and the surrounding days, and they put the ad in their newsletter (and sometimes in social media, too).

What you need?  All the particulars about your book - URL or ASIN or ISBN, title, author name, etc.  Usually a cover that's been sized to meet their requirements (say something like 1000 pixels by 1500 pixels).  And a shortened book description or blurb.

The first part is easy.  You should already have all that stuff available to you.  If not, it's on your Amazon product detail page.

Next, the cover.  You could pay your cover artist to give you an image that meets the requirements of each venue.  Or you could do what I do and use the Picture Manager program that came with my MS Office.  (Or something comparable.)  With Picture Manager, there's a Resize function that allows you to type in the size you want.  Voila! 

The hardest part is shortening your blurb to the length they want.  The smallest I've seen is 300 characters with spaces.  What I do is cobble the blurb I already have down until it meets the requirement and then I save it as FILENAME-300words, so I don't have to try cobbling it down again.  Make sure after you cobble that it's still error-free and makes sense.  Make it zippy.  Yeah, easier said than done, but it's gotta be done if you want to advertise with those venues.

Fill in all the boxes on their submission page and wait to see if your ad gets accepted.  And the best thing is that most of the time THEY make the ad using the info you provided.  (I advertised once with someone who would make me an ad if I paid extra.  I declined and made my own.  Never again.)

Sometimes they'll bill you once you're accepted.  Which is certainly preferable.  But sometimes you have to pay upfront.  The pre-pay ones I've worked with have always returned my money in a timely fashion if they decline my ads.  But yeah, you have to be watchful there.  Only use venues you've heard of - ones you probably already subscribe to.

Speaking of which, always subscribe to the venues you are thinking of putting ads in.  It'll tell you want kinds of books they go for, if they're putting out a quality newsletter on a regular schedule, and whether they're professional.  And once you are accepted for an ad, you'll get to see the ad when it goes live.  Always a plus.  Additionally, you might find some good books to read.  ;o)

Oh, and for pity's sake, make sure your book is on sale by midnight the night before your ad goes live.  They really hate it when you screw that up.  Been there done that.  Newbie mistake that cost me advertising with a particular venue for over a year. I usually start my countdown deal at midnight a couple days before the ad goes live to avoid any mishaps.

Additionally, lowering your book's price a day or two before the ad might get you some sales ahead of the paid advertisement, which will make your rankings look better when the ad goes live.  Better rankings help sell books.

One more thing.  The ads I usually pay for require your book to be set at 99c or Free.  (Sometimes as high as like $2.99, but you'll see more sales if you do a Kindle Countdown Deal for 99c.)

And finally, if you really want your sale to succeed, you have to help the ad out.  Talk about the sale in whatever social media things you use - including forums, blogs, etc.  Splash it everywhere you can splash it.  I mean, don't be annoying about it, but definitely chat it up when and where you can.

Good luck!

If you have any questions, let me know.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Sleeping Ugly is on sale, starting today.  If you haven't already snagged a copy, it's only 99c now thru Tuesday night.  (99c in the US and 99p in the UK.  Sorry if you're in a different country.  Amazon won't let me do Kindle Countdown Deals elsewhere.)

Monday, January 14, 2019

More Marketing Data

Last year, I did something a little different.  I kept track of everything related to marketing.  Duh, I know, but it wasn't something I'd thought about previously.  In the interest of looking at this more as a business, I charted the data to see where I was spending my marketing dollars, how effective each campaign was, and other junk.

Here's what I learned:

I spent $329 on ads last year.  From those ads, I made (to date because that last ad is still bringing in revenue) $491.  That's like a 33% return on investment.  From what I've read, you should be happy with about a 20% ROI on book ads, so I'm pretty pleased with that number.

The best return I saw percentage-wise was from a set of ads I did for the SCIU books with Authors' Billboard.  Three ads for $6 each netted me a 79% ROI. 

Other notable returns were through Bargain Booksy (about 25% ROI), Ereader News Today (about 50% ROI), and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Bargains (run in conjunction with an ENT ad, so not sure about ROI).

The worst return was any time I tried to pay for ads for Project Hermes.  One of those was also with AB, the other was with Bargain Booksy.  Since I've seen awesome returns of 20% or more from ads with both of those venues for other books, I blame the book and not the venue.  It's probably the blurb.  Might be the cover.  I'll have to do some more research.

Another thing for me to consider is that I was very proactive on Facebook groups for some of my marketing campaigns, but not for others - and the PH sales were part of the 'others' group.  Also, PH is a standalone. 

One of the tanking ad campaigns was for my Dennis Haggarty books, but I did another campaign for those books later in the year that did well.  That might be timing.  I guess.  Maybe.  And, again, I might not have pushed the FB groups much during the first campaign.  Also, one of the venues I chose to advertise with was an unknown and, upon further investigation, they were mostly retired in place at the time of my ad.  (Research, people.  I didn't do mine, so I paid the price.)

The December sale for the SCIU books - which is still earning me some money - was with Bargain Booksy and a new-to-me venue called Book Adrenaline.  Right now, it's running a 25% ROI.

I have a sale set up for Sleeping Ugly this coming week - the 16th thru the 22nd.  An ad should go out in the newsletter for Authors' Billboard on the 18th.  We'll see how that goes.  I haven't advertised SU yet, so it's kind of an unknown.

I'm also going to be setting up a sale and advertising for the Once Upon a Djinn books for next month.  If I can get off my leaden butt.  Those usually do well.  I'm going to try a new-to-me venue again - Book Barbarian (if I can get a slot - they go fast).  That along with maybe something through Author Billboard and PUFB should see some nice returns.  :fingers crossed:

As with everything, your mileage may vary.  These are my experiences alone.  Market at your own risk.  And all that disclaimer, 'don't sue me if you don't get the same results' kind of verbiage.  Hell, your books could do better than mine, for all I know. 

Any questions?  Wednesday I might go over the nitty-gritty of creating advertising for these venues.  It's really not that hard, but worth talking about.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Not Here Today

I know Fridays are usually Outside the Box days, but this is kind of a unique Friday.  It's not book related, so I posted over at The Writing Spectacle today instead.

I'll be back here Monday.  See ya then!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

This is a Business

This is a business.

Sometimes I need a gentle reminder.  Sometimes I need a smack upside the head.  So let me say it again...

This is a business.

I tend to forget, in the course of letting my creative side run amok, that this is not about skipping rocks across the publication pond to see how many times they bounce on the surface before they sink.

Or maybe it is.

If you're into rock skipping, you know you have to pick just the right rock or it'll hit the surface with a big kerplop and disappear beneath the glassy water.  It has to be flat.  It has to be smooth.  It needs rounded surfaces to skim across the water.  Otherwise, it's a fail before you even let it go.

You also have to pick just the right day to skip rocks, when the water is kind of glassy.  Can't skip rocks across waves, doncha know.  I tend to suck at this part.  Not for actually skipping rocks, but for this analogy.  I'm really not good at knowing when the best time is to launch my rocks across the publication pond.

I kind of even suck at picking the right rocks sometimes.  DE has been a great rock.  It's still skipping right along there.  (As long as I continue to nudge it.  Helps that it has the most reviews.)  Others?  Kerplop.

Okay, I've beaten that analogy to death.  The point is this is a business.  I've talked about ROI (return on investment) from a marketing standpoint, but never from a publishing standpoint.  If a book will cost x-dollars to publish, will it conceivably make that money back?

To date, not a single one of my books has recouped the initial investment.  Accidental Death has come closest.  I'm within $100 of making a profit on that one.  But paying for marketing makes that kind of a 'one step back, two steps forward' thing.  The worst at recouping so far has been Wish in One Hand - because reasons*.  I'm still in the hole big time on that one.

So, when considering where to go with my writing and my publication schedule, I really should be thinking about how to get out of the hole (or, rather, how to not make the hole even deeper) instead of how to get all the books of my heart published.

Not sure how that will go.  Right now I suspect this writing dry spell is directly related to thinking about the business side of things.  The tiny CFO in my head is at war with the Director of Creative Development.  One wants to audit, the other wants to dance.  And the CEO is beginning to see that the DCD has had far too much leeway for far too long.

DCD:  "Don't make me look at the spreadsheet again.  Please.  It's all too depressing."
CFO:  "Look at it.  Look. At. It."
DCD:  :whimper:

Anyway, it's the start of the year.  Good a time as any to think about things, look at things, and get my mind right.


*Mainly, I paid too much for a shitty cover from a 'real artist' who was supposed to give me something beautiful and gave me, instead, something that looked like it was hacked together from bad video game screen captures.  But I launched with it anyways.  Which sucked.  Then I had to pay for a better cover so my subsequent djinn books' sales wouldn't suck.  Live and learn.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Another Sales and Marketing Post

Time to do another post where I talk about my last marketing thing and how the sales shook out from it.

I did Kindle Countdown Deals for my SCIU books from December 24th through December 30th.  Dying Embers was 99c.  Fertile Ground and Early Grave were $1.99 ea.

For this, I paid for two ads.  One with Bargain Booksy for $55 and another with Book Adrenaline for $15.  Both ads went live on December 26th.  In addition to these ads, I posted liberally (but only once per day for each) on the FB groups I belong to that are relevant to these books.  The ads were for DE only, but I posted for the whole series on FB.

By the end of the KCDs, the books had paid for the advertising.  As of today, I'm still seeing residual sales and pages reads putting money in my pocket over and above the cost of advertising.  Not a huge amount, but every penny helps.

Part of the residual sales are people who, having finished DE, came back to buy FG and EG at full price ($3.99).  That's the importance of putting links to sequels immediately after THE END, I think.  Right there, before Amazon shunts the reader off to another page where they can review. I do mine like this:

Now, here's a caveat to the whole advertising/sales thing.  I'm not exactly sure which marketing thing brought in which sales.  All of them could've been from Bargain Booksy (which would be good for that venue) or from Book Adenaline (which would be woohoo).  More likely the sales were split between the two, but how they were split is beyond me.  I can point to certain FB posts as garnering a few sales - because when the sales started to die down from the advertising, I would post to a few groups and see an uptick shortly afterwards.

Also, I seemed to see more upticks when I posted to certain groups in the morning.  I'd post to the same groups the next night (keeping track of it so I never posted to the same group twice in 24 hrs) and get crickets.

I did not make a spreadsheet this time, but I have it all written out so I can refer to it later.

Yes, this is all intensive and tiring.  Making posts, tracking sales, hovering over the computer day in and day out for a week.  But it works, so I'll keep doing it.

As for the timeframe thing, I would definitely recommend doing your Kindle Countdown Deals for the full week from midnight on the first day to midnight on the last day.  With paid advertising launching about a couple days in.

Why a couple days?  Well, for one thing, you can make certain your books are actually discounted before the ad goes live.  Venues hate it when you say your book will be 99c, but it isn't when the ad goes live.  Hate it as in they'll ban you from advertising with them again.  (Been there, done that.  Took two years to get back in their good graces.)  If your book isn't discounted when you think it should be, it'll give you time to harangue Amazon to get it to the right price.

Second, ideally you'll get at least a couple sales ahead of the advertising that will help boost your book's ranking on Amazon.  Trust me, people are more likely to pick up your book from the ad if its ranking is in the 6 digit range instead of the 7 digit.  One or two sales should get you out of the millions rankings to the 200-300K rankings.

As always, I hope this post helps.  And your mileage may vary.  There are a lot of factors involved with book sales and this is a huge learning curve.  May you learn something from my journey.

Any questions?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Getting Back Into the Swing of Writing

Obviously, the best way to get back into the swing of writing is to never get out of it in the first place.  But if you're like me, life intervenes, editing must be done, things are getting published, marketing beckons... and the writing of new words get shunted off to the side. 

I haven't written new words for any length of time in months.  Last year, I kept saying I would write and then didn't.  I couldn't get the gumption up.  And the longer I went without writing, the harder it got.  I went from being able to sit down and bang out a couple thousand words to being lucky if I could put together a freakin' paragraph. 

So, how does one get back into the swing of things when the swing has stopped and you've lost your inertia?

Got me by the ass.

I think maybe I'm going to try baby pushes.  Push a little, back and forth back and forth, until the inertia builds again and I can really get swinging. 

I'm also going to try and spent more time thinking about writing.  When everything's quiet and my brain is left to it's own devices, I'm going to try and shift my thinking to writing.  What happens next in the story?  What about the idea for X?  How do you see that progressing?  What new and interesting things can you throw at your MC?  And I'll be writing these thoughts down whenever possible.  Get the juices flowing, even if they aren't flowing in the direction I thought I wanted them to go.  :shrug:

I've gotta do something.  I can't just sit here letting dust gather on my writing career.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Publishing Goals for 2019

As you all know, I've been having a tough time looking ahead to this year.  I'm in kind of a limbo about it all.  But time and publishing waits for no man, so here I am trying to set some publishing goals for the new year.

1)  Finish Ugly and the Beast and get it published.
2)  Write SCIU #4.
3)  Write Dennis Haggarty #3.
4)  Write Cinder-Ugly.
5)  Get at least one of those three other books published.

I'm leery about setting sales goals for the year.  But I'd like to see if I can sell at least as many books this year as I did last year with like a 10% increase.  So, like 616 books. That sounds kind of sad, but setting attainable goals is what it's all about.  I'd love to sell thousands of books, but history has shown that's not realistic.  So...

6) Sell at least 616 books.

I should probably try to resurrect my newsletter, but I'm not promising anything.

7)  Have a sale with advertising at least once a month.

That's a big one because sales take a lot of out of me - time and energy and money.  But they work, so I should just bite my lip and do it.

I should also try to network more.  But the thought of that gives me intestinal issues.  It's like walking into a party that's been going on for a long long time, where everyone knows each other, and saying
'hey, hi, you don't know me at all, but I'd like to dance and no, I'm not a newbie'.  Plus, I hate social interaction for the sake of social interaction.  It feels forced and unnatural to me.  :shrug:

I'd also like to finish re-editing my first book, Fear Itself, this year.  I'm not even sure it's still a viable storyline, but if I can get it publish-worthy, maybe I can just put it out there and see what happens. Not a goal, just a hope.

So, there they are.  My 2019 publishing goals.  I think they're doable.  We'll see how I did when I wrap things up this time in 2020.

Have you set any goals for the new year?  How'd you do on your 2018 goals? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019