Friday, October 30, 2015

There Are Rules

Hi there.  Jo again.  B.E. asked me to explain the Rules to you guys, so here's the short version:

When the gods created the djinn race, they imbued us with a boatload of power.  And saddled us with Rules so we wouldn't ruin the world.  Makes sense to the us rational djinn.  The Efreet? Not so much.  Anyway, as near as I can tell, the big Rules are basically

1) No harming of the Master by direct wish.
2) No killing by direct wish.
3) No messing with time.
4) No messing with free will.
5) No unmaking the Universe.
6) No stealing another genie's sanctuary.
7) No raising the dead.

Simple stuff on a grand scale, but not nearly enough to keep wayward genies from getting into trouble, so the Council governs a set of rules that are kind of arbitrary and subjective.  Things like 'no public displays of magic' and 'don't do anything to out the djinn race to the world' are pretty good ideas.  Others, like 'don't talk about the Efreet' are pretty stupid.  But all governing bodies tend to make stupid rules here and there.

Of course, there are ways to circumvent some of the Rules and the rules.  Want to kill a human but can't wish for it? Drop a tree on them.  Stab them. Shoot them. Mundane and non-magical is hunky-dory with the gods, I guess.

Obviously, since the gods made them, you can't break the Rules outright.  Breaking the rules, on the other hand, is easy.  I'd know.  But, if they catch you, breaking their little rules comes with a steep punishment.  And who wants to wear a fur coat for centuries? Not me.

So those are the Rules.  I'm not exactly an expert, but I'm the only one who'd talk to B.E. about them, because talking about them is... you guessed it... against the rules.  Big surprise there.

If you could have one wish, what would it be?  Not that I can grant it, but you never know. What the Council doesn't know won't hurt them.  (And they're not exactly internet savvy, so I'm not too worried about them finding out here.)

If you want to read more about me and my adventures, pick up a copy of B.E.'s book Wish in One Hand.  It's on sale until Halloween night. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Week Sale

Saturday is Halloween, so what better week to put the genies on sale

Go forth and get your wish on.

And yes, the cover will be changing soon, but the words inside are the same. 

The genie Josephine Mayweather’s father gave her for her 18th birthday tricked her into trading places 90+ years ago. But hey, everything should be peachy for an immortal gal with phenomenal power, right? For Jo, immortality is more than lazing around wishing. When she’s not rescuing brethren who don’t always want to be saved, she’s juggling a halfway-house for the humanity challenged and an antiques business dealing in previously genie-owned goods. 

When some demented being starts murdering the very people she’s trying to save, she almost wishes she’d chosen the lazy life. 

Too bad for her, she can’t sit back and let this maniac ruin everything she’s worked for. All she has to do is stop a super-powerful supernatural killer and hope the Council doesn’t shut her down for breaking rules she didn’t even know existed. It’s either that or sit and watch her brethren die as her life collapses around her. Good thing for djinn-kind, Jo’s daddy didn’t raise her to back down from a fight, even if this battle could get her killed. 

Or worse—enslaved again.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blurb Reveal - BloodFlow

Hello Everyone!

I finally finished the blurb for BloodFlow* and I thought I'd share it here first.  But before that, here's the cover again:

And here's what the book's about:

Prove you’re an American! Join your elected officials and get implanted today!
The highest levels of the government believe Project Hermes is the best way to control America’s immigration problem. A simple microchip carrying a citizen’s information will allow officials to sort out who belongs—and who doesn’t.  Harmless.
Unless the chip carries more than just information.
Agent Miranda Kruz of the Terrorism Task Force has reason to believe something is very wrong with Project Hermes.  People are dying and the clues all point to a microchip implant. But Randi’s superiors don’t want anything or anyone interfering with their pet project. They’re threatening her job, her loved ones, and her life to keep her from revealing their secret. With the help of medical examiner, Vic Hammond, and electronics engineer, Jack Davis, Randi has to uncover the truth and make it public before anyone else is targeted for death.
Locating the madmen behind these executions will be hard enough—stopping them might just be impossible.

I hope that gets you as excited about this book as I am.  I should have the final edits back by the end of the week.  Then all I need to do is fix that stuff, do another read-through for typos, etc. and then I'll be able to upload it for pre-order. 

And once the editing is done, I'll be able to format it so I can have a page count, so I can do the print cover.  Yay.

Thanks again for all your support.  And since you've been supportive, you get to know that Wish in One Hand will be on sale for 99c from Wednesday to Saturday this week.  If you haven't snagged a copy, now's the time to do it. 

*Blood flow is, of course, two words.  But for the purposes of this cover and marketing materials, I think BloodFlow works better - at least for me.  And I'm the boss of this publishing thing.  (Well, except for the multitude of people who tell me whether I've succeeded or failed i.e. the readers.)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cover Reveal - BloodFlow

I don't have a blurb finalized yet, but I couldn't wait to show you the cover, so here goes:

Think Michael Crichton meets Vince Flynn with my own style and flair.

And don't forget - Accidental Death is on sale right now for 99c.  Snag a copy today.  If you already have a copy, tell your friends or give them a gift.  It's never the wrong time to say "I love you. Here's a book about murder." ;o)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Such a Deal Like You've Never Seen. Oy.

Yep, it's another Kindle Countdown Deal.  This time Accidental Death gets a turn on the KCD merry-go-round.  It'll be on sale for 99c through Saturday.

Big city Detective Dennis Haggarty goes to small town Serenity, CO to comfort his grieving sister, not to investigate crime, but when stumbling over a body uncovers a string of not-so accidental deaths, he has to do his job—whether the locals want him to or not.
I'd really appreciate it if you passed it along.  Or if you wrote a review.  Or if you just liked it on FB or Twitter or whatever. 

Thanks bunches!  


Monday, October 19, 2015

Marketing Observations and News

Okay, so I did a Kindle Countdown Deal for Dying Embers last week.  I had the book at 99 cents from the 14th through the 17th, sold 14 books (one of which was in Australia where it wasn't on sale).  It reached 95th in the top 100 serial killer suspense ebooks on Thursday and promptly fell back into the hundreds where it stayed.

I paid for an ad at Omnimystery News that ran during the course of the sale, and I had a free ad with the ReadCheaply newsletter on the 14th.  I sold 7 books the first day. One book the second day and 2 books the third day (UK and Australia).

I also attempted to do a Facebook boost thing on the 14th, and was declined because my ad had too much text.  I changed the ad and resubmitted on the 15th, and it was declined again because it had too much text.  I said 'fuck it' on the 16th and tried to boost a post with just my book cover - that one went through.  It was boosted on the 16th and the 17th for a cost of $20.  During that time, I 'reached' 1386 people and 39 'engagements', and sold an additional 4 books which netted me another $2.80.

Additionally, I hit Twitter and FB pretty hard with posts and status updates about the sale.  Not sure if any of that worked, or I just annoyed people.

One unexpected benefit? I received a new 5-star review, which is nice.

I am running a Kindle Countdown Deal for Accidental Death starting this Wednesday.  It will be 99 cents through Saturday - just like Dying Embers' Deal.  I will be doing another Facebook boost (now that I know what works) but maybe for a little more money.  I won't be doing another Omnimystery ad.  Not sure if it was that cost-effective - especially considering my ad was so far down the bar readers had to scroll past the end of the page text to see it.  (I don't know about you, but I don't scroll past page text to look at ads.)  I will be contacting ReadCheaply for another ad there - if it remains free, why not*?

If you know of any sites where I could do an ad that don't require a lead time and a panel of people to approve the ad, let me know. Oh, and that don't cost necessary body parts.  I can't justify pricey ads for low priced books to my CFO - not yet anyway.

Any questions?  Anything to add? 

*Apparently at ReadCheaply, an author can only do one ad every 30 days - even if the books in question are different.  Hmphf.  Well, fark.  Too late to change any of this now.  :shrug:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Finding the Magic

In self-publishing, there's a lot you can do for yourself, a lot you have to do for yourself, and some things you need to go to others for.  And the needs change from book to book sometimes.

With Dying Embers, I wrote the book myself - obviously.  But I needed an editor and a cover artist.  With Accidental Death, I used the same editor along with another editor, but I did the art myself.  With Wish in One Hand, I had a new editor and a new artist, but I still had to do some of the art myself.  With BloodFlow, I'm sticking with the second editor and doing the cover myself. 

I'd do everything myself - because I'm that kind of person - but I'm a firm believer that I need an objective other set of eyes to edit my stuff.  I miss things.  Major things sometimes, and an outside editor catches what I miss. 

But what happens when you aren't happy, for one reason or another? 

Well, you can sit tight and grouse mentally about the things that aren't happening the way you want them to happen.  OR you can walk away.  Look for the magic elsewhere.  (And sometimes it feels like magic when you find the right person to help you make your dream a reality.)

Without getting into details or hurt feelings or lawsuit territory, I've been in the position to be unhappy with some of my choices.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  Maybe I didn't communicate my vision well enough.  Perhaps it was a personality thing.  Suffice it to say, when that happens, it's best to strike out in search of a new person to help make magic. 

Right now, I'm working with a new artist to completely re-do the cover for WIOH.  I had to do it.  I had hoped the original artist would be THE ONE and that they'd do all the covers in the series.  Sadly, no.  Now, not only did I have to find an artist for the subsequent books in the series, but I had to find one who would do a cover for WIOH so I could have continuity across covers.  One artist for all the books.  I found her through an interview she did on a blog I follow, and we seem to be clicking.  She gets my vision and if she does for me what she did for her other clients, I should be a happy person again. 


Right now, I'm also working with my second editor.  She gets me.  She gets what I'm going for.  I love her bundles.  (And I hate her a little, but that's only when I've been staring at the manuscript for 2 hours - slashed thoroughly with pretty-pink, and I'm fighting myself more than I am her.  That's when I know it's break time.) 

And that's magic, too.  Or at least, it'll be magic when it's finished and the book is out there in the world - polished and ready for readers.

The point is, you have to find your magic.  If you find it right out of the gate, YAY!  If not, don't sit around wishing it would happen for you.  Make it happen.  Find the people who will want to make magic and great things will happen. 

Oh, and before I forget, Dying Embers goes on sale today.  It's a Kindle Countdown Deal and it'll be 99 cents through Saturday.  I should also have some advertising, etc. somewhere around the webs somewhere. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spreadsheets - Keeping Track of Sales

Okay, so there was a request to discuss my use of spreadsheets in this self-publishing endeavor.  For some of you, this might be a total snooze-fest.  Sorry about that.  Check back on Friday and I'll try to be more interesting.  ;o)

First, so we're all on the same page, this is Excel (2010, I think. Might be 2007.)  The files themselves are called workbooks and each individual tab within the workbook is a spreadsheet.

I have been using a separate workbook for each book.  They kinda look like this:

But opening a separate workbook for each book is kind of a pain in the ass, and it clutters the bottom of my screen. (Way worse than what you can see up there.)  Plus, toggling between all those files.  And then think about when I have 8 books out there.  Or twelve.  Ugh.

So, I made a new workbook to encompass all the books in one place.  It's my 2015 Book Sales workbook.  (The one called Sales Totals is what I refer to as the Master Plan. It's very pretty and has multiple charts & graphs.)

The 2015 Book Sales workbook keeps everything in one place. Now, instead of opening 4 separate files (one for each book and the Sales Totals), I will be able to open two files:

Isn't it pretty?
And the 2015 Book Sales will feed the Sales Totals, so I only have one place to plug in data to create pretty graphs like this:
My 'Pages Read' graph
Why bother? (Or as Hubs asked, 'why not just keep track of total book sales instead of individual books?')

Well, I'm hoping to track what works and what doesn't.  Find sales patterns and then find a way to recreate the spikes.  Look for trends and maximize them.  And I do the individual book thing because each book is different - different pricing at different times, different page counts, different genres, different marketing efforts.  :shrug:  Or, it could be that I like playing with data. 

Sales Totals, Daily Sales, color-coded for mktg efforts
As I've said before, some stuff works, other stuff doesn't - but how would I have an inkling of what worked if I didn't track it?  So I track it.  Does it help?  A little.  Down the road - perhaps more.  At least I'll have some idea of what to expect with each new release and with every subsequent year. 

I hope this helps.  I suspect at this point, it probably didn't answer the questions people might've had on exactly 'how' to do it.  That would take hours and I suspect I might not be the awesome software instructor I used to be.  Excel nowadays, though, does a lot of the work for you.  Autosum was a godsend, let me tell ya.  And being able to type the equal sign then click a cell in a whole other spreadsheet?  I could kiss someone for that.  Try typing out '[2015 Book Sales.xlsx]Monthly Totals'!$B$13 in one cell and then in the next cell that but now the B should be a C, or the 13 has to be a 14.  Ugh.  What a pain.

Now, it's not exactly what I would call easy-peasy, but it is a lot easier than it used to be.  Don't be afraid of it.  Play around.  Try some things.  But do what I didn't do and plan ahead.  Don't just think about your needs now, but what your needs might be a couple books or a year down the road.  Or you'll wind up like me - building a new workbook and then going back and populating it from the old workbooks.  It's a lot of work I could've saved myself if I'd planned ahead.  In the end, though, the work I put in now will save me time in the long run.

Any questions?  Do you keep spreadsheets?  What do use yours for?  (I also have one for expenses. I used to have a spreadsheet that listed all the books I owned - titles, authors, pub dates, etc. I still have one I use for quotes.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Decisions Decisions

I'm rethinking my publishing schedule. 

Main reason?  Sales of Wish in One Hand have not been spectacular.  Sales of Dying Embers and Accidental Death, on the other hand, have been way better.  So it would make sense to give the readers what they want and publish more along those lines.  Right?

I had expected to publish the sequel to WIOH this coming February or March with the third book coming out next August or September.  Now, I don't know.  This genie thing hasn't found its niche market.  A few people here and there love it.  (Thanks!)  But it's not really catching fire anywhere. 

Mulling it all around in my head.

I just finished the second book in the SCIU series - Fertile Ground.  And I'm really excited about that, which may be skewing my choices a little.  I have the sequel to Accidental Death started and on the back burner.  But I already have two more genie books in the bag.  Less work for me to get those ready for publication.  (Well, except for the cover art part.  That's a long story that I'd rather not tell online.)

:shrug:  I dunno.

BloodFlow should still be out next month.  My editor is calling it a political thriller.  Which is good because medical-technical-political suspense is too wordy.  She says it's my best book yet.  We'll see what the public thinks toward the end of this year.  Still, it's another book in the thriller/mystery/suspense vein.  Maybe I should set the paranormal thing aside while I focus on that sort of stuff. 

Decisions decisions. 

So, if I do adjust the production schedule, it'll look like this:

November 2015 - BloodFlow
February/March 2016 - Fertile Ground (SCIU #2)
May/June 2016 - Natural Causes (Dennis Haggarty #2)
August/September 2016 - In Deep Wish (Djinn #2)
November/December 2016 - Something totally different (maybe resurrect Fear Itself or Nature of Destruction - my first and second books - OR do a dystopian)

Anyway, that's one of the awesome things about self-publishing.  I have the freedom to do whatever I want and the market will tell me if I did the right thing or bombed horribly. 

What do you think I should do?  Suggestions are welcome, but don't be bummed if, after mulling over everything, I go my own way.  K?

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Wild Idea

Yesterday, a horrible thing happened.  Unfortunately, it wasn't an unusual horrible thing in our current world.  And also unfortunate was the way certain people oozed forth to wave banners for their favorite cause - gun control - before the victim count was even verified or the sick bastard was neutralized.  But hey, when it comes to a cause, ya gotta strike while the iron's hot, right?

Yah.  About that.  Seems to me they're striking at the wrong iron. 

Here's a wild idea.  Instead of getting rid of guns, let's do away with the poisonous ideologies and philosophies that make people think it's hunky-dory to kill another human being. With anything. Guns, knives, ropes, poison, hammers, screwdrivers, electrical cords, antifreeze, fire, homemade bombs, nail guns, vehicles, arrows, rocks, water, their bare hands...

But please, keep focusing on those darn guns.  Cuz they've been the problem all along.  Right?  :eyeroll:

Think about it.  Seriously.  You can ban all the deadly weapons you want, but until the world addresses the real problem, people will still find a way to kill other people.  Maybe they won't be able to do it on a large scale - not easily anyway... I mean, there are probably dozens of ways to kill multiple people with the stuff you can buy at your local hardware store if you're so inclined... but they'll still be able to do it.  

Especially since someone who is willing to break the highest, most crucial law of all won't be bothered by breaking the law to obtain a deadly weapon.

So please, don't talk to me about gun control.  I'm not in favor of gun control.  I'm in favor of self-control.  Find a way to spread that shit around and we might end up seeing a lot less murder in this nation.  Hell, while we're at it, find a way to spread personal responsibility around and to ditch the idea that whatever's wrong in your life is someone else's fault.  I'd love to see the world after that happens.

But I won't. Not in my lifetime.  Probably not in my daughter's - and, if she ever has children, in my grandchildren's lifetime either.  It's too hard. And why choose the hard way when the world offers you the easy way on a daily basis.  :shrug: