Monday, June 29, 2015

More Advertising Talk

Hey all.  Today I'm going to talk about advertising again.  Why?  Because it seems to be a spot where a lot of really awesome writers aren't really all that awesome. 

I suspect part of that is we spend so much time in our heads we can't really conceive of what it takes to connect to the outside world.  And frankly, most of us would really rather not.  I spent a larger amount of time in the company of other human beings on Saturday than usual and it kind of squeeb'd* me out. 

Part of it is, of course, the fact that society frowns on talking about yourself and your accomplishments.  Especially if you're a woman.  Totally stupid, but it's engrained, so we're stuck with it. 

Maybe some of it is that we all went into this expecting to be picked up by a traditional publisher who would advertise and market for us.  (At least that's the fairy story we were told.  I suspect the reality falls way short of the tale.)  So, if someday a traditional publisher is going to market for us, why bother learning those skills that we really would rather not learn anyway.  Right?

Whatever the reasoning, we have a problem.  We want our books to be out there in the marketplace where people can read them and, hopefully, make us a little money, too. 

So, you want your book to be read, but you don't have a publisher backing you and helping (or not) get the word out.  Well, advertise everywhere you can get an ad in for one thing.  Yeah, I know the budget's limited.  Hell, I'm the posterchild for limited budget right now.  But there are ways.  $10-$40 ways.  You just have to look for them.  Try them out and see how they work for you.  Go here and see how some things worked for me.  As always, remember YMMV (your mileage may vary).

What else can you do?  Tweet. Get a zippy line and a link up there a couple times a day - morning and evening if you can, but mix it up so you're not hitting the same followers every time. Make sure you send at least two non-marketing tweets for every one marketing tweet - because if you're all marketing and nothing interesting, people will ignore you.   And tweet to pimp other people's books.  Share the love around and some of it will come back to you.

Oh, and for petesakes, use those hashtags.  If you're tweeting about a suspense novel, make sure you put #suspense. Or #mystery or #romance.  Sometimes people are following those tags looking for a new novel in the genre of their choice.  But they won't see you if you don't hashtag it.

And speaking of not seeing you, utilize Amazon's keywords to the best of your ability.  You have seven words or phrases.  (OR PHRASES.) So, if you wrote a sweet romance with cats, make the keyword 'sweet romance with cats' - so people who are looking for that particular thing can find you.  But I'll try to get more into that on another day, because I could write a whole post each just on hashtags and keywords and tweets.

Now here we are at the bottom of the post and I didn't even get to what prompted me to write this today - my search for ways to sell to non-Kindle people.  I'll write something up and hit that on Wednesday.  Promise.

Any questions?  Anything to add? 

*squeeb - to make or be uncomfortable, nervous, etc.  "I'm feeling squeebie today." "He squeeb'd me out so bad I had to run away and hide."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cover Concept Reveal

I have the cover for Wish in One Hand.  Since the launch for that book is still at least 6 weeks off, I'm going to make myself hold off showing the actual cover for a little while yet.  But rather than make you all stew, here's the concept I sent to the artist when I first hired him:

And now you know for certain why I pay someone else to do my cover art. 

The cover art itself will be along once I get closer to having something y'all can buy. He did a good job keeping to my overall concept and making it not look like shit.

FYI, not all my drawings are this bad. 

Do you draw?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Talking Advertising Again

Hey all!  I said on yesterday's post at The Writing Spectacle (I post there Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday for those who aren't following in both place) that I would talk about my recent advertising efforts here today. So here goes me talking advertising again.

Yeah, I'm the kind of person who likes to be informed and likes to pass information along.  Forewarned is forearmed, and all that. Probably why I have an elaborate spreadsheet documenting book sales and the different things I do to pimp my books. (With pretty colors for the marketing efforts in each day's sales.)

Anyway, here's how the advertising has panned out so far:

3/3 - Paid ad for Dying Embers - Kboards - no noticeable sales - $15
5/8 - Cover reveal ad for Accidental Death - Omnimystery News - hard to tell since the book wasn't available yet - Free
5/20 - Book Excerpt for Accidental Death - Omnimystery News - 28 sales with a jump two days after the excerpt - Free
5/25 - Paid ad for Dying Embers - Ereader News Today - 298 sales over 10 days - $30
6/15 - Paid ad for Dying Embers - Indie Author News - no noticeable sales - $30
6/16 - Paid ad for Accidental Death - Every Writer Resource - no noticeable sales - $10

As always, your mileage may vary and performance of an ad for my books might not match the performance of an ad for any other book. For instance, I advertised with Kboards because I'd heard from other writers and in books on the subject that they'd had great success with that.  :shrug:  Also, please note that I am getting the cheapest ads offered on those paid sites.  Maybe if I shelled out more money, I'd see better results.  Only time will tell.

What I mean by 'no noticeable sales' is that if I did get any sales, they were so miniscule I couldn't tell for certain that someone bought that one book because of the ad or because of something I tweeted. 

Speaking of which, I have seen some interesting effects from the Twittersphere.  Sometimes I tweet and then shortly thereafter a book sells.  But since correlation is not causation, I have no way of tying those together definitively.

You may notice a distinct gap in advertising from March 3rd to May 8th.  I blame that on discouragement and cheapness.  If a paid-for ad doesn't work, I find I'm less inclined to want to pay for another ad. 

Of course, I'm doing other things - like postcard mailings - but I haven't kept track of that yet.  I'm pretty sure I got at least three sales off the last mailing.  Not huge numbers, but I only sent out like 20 postcards and some of that was family.

So that's where I'm at.  I'll keep trying different advertising avenues and try to keep you updated so you can see how this self-publishing thing is working for me. 

Anyway, this all comes down to the experimental first year. Seeing what works and what doesn't.  Keeping track so the next book might have a better chance.  (And the next book, and the next, etc.)  And I'm sharing all this not only because it might help others, but because when I type it all out, I get a clearer picture in my head. 

Any questions?  Anything to add?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - The End of the Con

Around the area, there's been a news story I've been following.  At first, the news broke that a woman and her crippled daughter were missing from their Springfield, MO home.  The woman was a 48 year old single mother who cared for her handicapped, 19 year old daughter.  The poor child had muscular dystrophy and leukemia, which left her unable to walk or to take care of herself.

Over the weekend, we heard that DeeDee Blancharde and her daughter, Gypsy, disappeared from their Habitat for Humanity home.  (The one they were given after they lost everything after Hurricane Katrina down in LA.)  Everyone was looking for information as to their whereabouts.  A picture was included of DeeDee and her poor, sickly-looking daughter, holding a puppy together.  Both had big smiles like they hadn't a care in the world.

Next came the horrible, sad news that DeeDee's body had been found.  She was a victim of a horrific stabbing.  Poor, wheelchair-bound Gypsy remained missing.  The search was on.

Next, they said they'd located Gypsy in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI.  She was taken into custody with 'a person of interest'.  The person of interest was a man Gypsy had supposedly met online.  His location was the one from which nasty messages were left on the FB page of the victim after her death.  How many times have we seen the innocent taken advantage of by internet predators?  So sad.

His stepfather claims there's no way the guy could've done it.  He wouldn't hurt a fly.

Except when they got him in custody, he confessed to stabbing the mother multiple times and slitting her throat - saying the whole thing was Gypsy's idea.  Gypsy confessed to at least being in the house at the time of her mother's murder and doing nothing to stop it, or call for help, or anything.  Not surprising since she was all crippled and unable to do for herself. 

Then, in a stunning turn of events, the sheriff of Greene County, MO held a press conference.  (You can read about it all here.) Gypsy isn't 19 - she's 23.  She isn't sick or crippled or wheelchair bound. She's a healthy adult.  Chances are they weren't even from Louisiana. Before Gypsy hightailed it for the great North, she grabbed thousands of dollars in cash from DeeDee's safe. The mother and daughter duo have been scamming people for years.

Maybe Gypsy got tired of playing the part.  Maybe Gypsy wanted a bigger cut.  I guess we'll find out more as the story continues to unfold.  All I know is that DeeDee ran her last con job.  She just never got the chance to realize she'd trained her daughter too well in the world of criminal enterprise.  Here's hoping that Gypsy can't run a con on the criminal justice system and she gets the justice she deserves.

Update from last night after I typed this post: "Things are not always as they appear."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stuff and Junk Monday

Since I'm drawing a blank for a cohesive post today, here goes nothin'.

Today, Dying Embers' ad went up at Indie Author News.  It's in the right sidebar about 6 ads down.  It'll be up for a week.

No news yet on the ad I'm supposed to have at a place called Every Writer Resource.  I got their name off a list of advertising site at Galleycat, so I expect they're legit.  Maybe they're just jammed.  We'll see.

I got a direct Twitter message from another advertising place.  Looks legit.  I'll check them out and let y'all know.

As I said on Twitter this morning: "Ever notice when squirrels eat, they look like they're praying? My backyard looks like a cult of furry corn worshipers."  (Yes, if you read it there, I forgot the question mark.  Dammit.)

And that's all this sleep-deprived, coffee junkie has this morning.  Any questions?  What's up in your world?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Tiring Marketing Part

Now I know why some people pay other people to do their marketing.  It's a tiring process.  Tweet, post, chat, blog, respond, comment, submit, lather, rinse, repeat.

But it's necessary.  Because when you stop - even for a day - sales trail off.

I took the weekend off.  I just couldn't bring myself to say another word about anything related to my books.  (Yes, I still tweeted because it takes like 5 seconds - but my tweets were lame because my heart wasn't in it.)

And yes, I realize that if you're following me closely, you may have seen the same sort of tweet, nestled in between witty repartee and interesting information, several times.  Those repetitious tweets aren't for you.  They're for the people who may only read a tweet from me every once in a while.  And for new people.  Do me a favor and ignore them.  I promise not to tweet only about buying my books, but understand those sales tweets have to be sprinkled in there along the way.  Otherwise, B.E. don't sell no books, and no sales means I'll have a harder time publishing more books down the road.  (The well of fundage is not infinite.  It's finite.  Very very finite.)

I want to keep doing this.  I love doing this - even the tiring marketing part.  I have books already lined up and more books coming.  Basically, I want to still be writing and publishing my books when I drop over.  In order to do that, I have to sell books, and in order to sell books, I have to market them.  So, be patient with the commercials.  You never know when one of them is actually telling you something you want to know - like a new widget is out or there's a sale on your favorite widgets, or whatever.  And like I said, I'll try to sprinkle them in with things that are actually enjoyable, interesting, educating, or witty. 

Thanks again for your support.  You rock.

(And no, this post wasn't for my staunch supporters who know me well, but rather for those who don't and might choose to stop following me because they feel like all they're seeing are ads.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Checking In With the Numbers Again

Hey folks!

It's been a while since I checked in and gave you the numbers on this wild ride. Keep in mind that this is me.  Your mileage may vary.

115 days since I launched Dying Embers and got my first pre-order (February 12th through yesterday)

In that time, I sold* 366 copies of DE at various prices.  I've also sold 46 copies of Accidental Death., bring to the total of all books sold to 412.

That's an average of 3.58 books a day.

My biggest sales day was after my ad went live on Ereader News Today.  I sold 129 books that day, and saw a nice follow-through that kept me in the rankings for 10 days.  My best sales ranking was #9 on the Kindle Suspense/Serial Killers list.

Dying Embers currently has 10 reviews and 18 rankings on Goodreads with a 4.39 star average.  It has 13 reviews on Amazon with a 4.8 star average.

Accidental Death currently has 1 review and 2 rankings on Goodreads with a 5 star average.  No reviews at Amazon.

In its first partial month, Dying Embers sold 26 copies.  Accidental Death sold 40 in its first partial month.

To date, I've spent about $1600 on Dying Embers and about $650 on Accidental Death.  Not quite sure what that means yet. I do know a $30 ad gained me the most sales, but since DE was .99 through most of that sales spike, it didn't gain me that much fundage. Later this month, I will try an ad for AD and I'm looking into other advertising venues that won't break the bank.

I'm not breaking any records here, but I'm pleased.  If this stays on track, our goal of this venture funding itself within the first year should be met.  It depends on how much I spend putting each book out there and how sales for the subsequent books go.  When the third book launches in August, we'll have an even better idea - but the third book is a different genre - paranormal suspense - so it might skew things a bit.  We'll see.

So, there are the numbers for one debut, self-published, independent novelist.  Hope that helps those of you thinking about jumping into the fray and that it provides some insight into this world for you readers.  It ain't easy.  It certainly ain't guaranteed.  But damn, it's fun.

Any questions?  As always, I'll answer what I can.

*Sales are primarily Amazon and include Kindle Unlimited borrows and regular ebook sales.  A small percentage of those numbers are hand sales of paperback copies and wider ebook distribution through Draft2Digital.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Weird Wednesday - Unusual Decor

It's easy to decorate your property if you know where to shop. 

One woman in West Virginia decided the best place to get decor for her property was a local family cemetery.  She went through and stole headstones to line her burn pit.  And concrete angels.  And other graveside decor.

Unfortunately for her, it wasn't her family's cemetery and she had no right to take the things inside it. 

Obviously, she has mental issues. She burned down her own house, for petesakes. 

And she's threatened to burn down her neighbors' houses, too.  So why she wasn't locked up ages ago escapes me. 

Here's the best article I could find on the subject.  I originally found out about the news story through's FB page.  (A great resource for locating distant relatives' final resting places.)

Finally, I realize that in this case, the thief was mentally ill, but it does bring to mind a point: Why can't people understand the simple idea that if something doesn't belong to them, they don't touch it?  Doesn't matter what it is.  It blows my mind that they can't grasp the concept.  How about you?

Monday, June 1, 2015

I Don't Write Sex

I think all my books should come with that warning - I Don't Write Sex.  Never have.  Probably never will.  It's just not my style.  If you're looking for descriptive sex scenes, I'm probably not the writer for you.

In fact, I don't read sex either.  More often than not, when I'm reading a book with sex in it, I flip past those scenes to get back to the plot.  Which is part of the reason why I don't write sex. 

Oh, I tried.  I tried to turn Dying Embers into a romantic suspense - because those sell well and I figured it would be easier for me to get an agent if I had romance in the book somewhere.  Needless to say, it didn't work.  Every time I would try to lead up to the sex between Jace and Ben, I would find Jace in my head saying 'We really don't have time for this.'  (Ben was all for it, but he's a man who knows when the right time is, and the pages of this book wasn't the right time.)  My foray into romantic suspense died as quickly as it was born.

That's not to say there isn't romance in my books.  It's just more like a thread woven in the tapestry to make the whole picture richer.  And that's all it is - a thread. 

I know sex sells.  In fact, I recently had it illustrated for me.  I hand sold a copy of Dying Embers the other day to one of the gals at my bank, and I don't remember the exact conversation - I was the only customer at the bank and we were all cutting up in there - but I felt the need to tell her there was no sex in the book.  She looked a little disappointed, but she had heard awesome things about the book from one of the other gals, so she still wanted to read it.  (Then we degenerated to talking about 50 Shades and I thanked goodness I was the only customer in there.  Whoa nelly.)

Sex sells.  I just can't make myself write it.  I can lead up to it.  I can hint at it.  I can set the stage for it.  Hell, I can even have the characters reminisce about it.  But when it comes time to fish or cut bait, I let them do it behind closed doors.  :shrug:

I can't be all things to all readers.  And this is something I won't budge on - even though the current wisdom is that certain genres require sex to be successful.  I'll muddle along and hopefully find those readers who aren't that interested in sex scenes either. 

And lest you misunderstand me, I don't have a problem with other writers putting sex in their novels, or with readers who want sex in the stories they read.  To each their own.  Hell, I love writers who have down and dirty strewn throughout their stories.  I just love the writers more for the other parts of those stories than for the sex.  It's a personal preference thing.  Like the difference between my daughter's taste in food and mine.  She likes loads of spice in her food and I don't.  It's no big deal - it's just tastes.

Now, since I'm not going to ask about your preference for sex in your books (cuz it's none of my damn business and I like to keep the blog on the PG side of R), how about you tell me whether you like spicy foods?  Or tell me about something you like to eat that a loved one can't stand?