Friday, February 26, 2016

Cover Reveal - In Deep Wish

Ack.  I forgot it was Friday until just now.  As promised, here's the cover for my upcoming release:

The conspiracy to ruin Jo Mayweather’s life is growing like blue fuzz on last month’s leftovers. But they’ve messed with the wrong genie this time. Jo will do whatever it takes to blow their plans apart before they achieve their ultimate goal—her death and the total enslavement of djinn-kind. 

I'll post linkie-lous and stuff as I get closer to the release date of March 15th.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mid-Winter Malaise

Every year about this time, I've been struck by a sort of meh-feeling about my work.  It's not that I don't like writing anymore, and it's not that I don't still love my books.  It's more that I get in a slump and can't really muster the energy to do much of anything writerly.

I didn't really notice it last year.  I was too busy with the recent release of my first self-published book.  And since it had released, I wasn't really doing writerly things - I was doing marketing things.  Totally different animal.

I didn't think about it when I was setting up this year's publication schedule.  And so the year began with my marching toward my first release of 2016, blissfully unaware that it would land smack in the middle of the mid-winter malaise.

And I remained unaware even as it was creeping up on me.  The first thing that happened is that I didn't feel like reading.  Anything.  When I realized that part, I figured that was how the malaise would play out this year.  Because, ya know, I'm too busy to let it occur anywhere else.

Then the damn thing hit me full force.  I have editing that needs doing, but mustering the will is like doing the breast stroke through molasses. And, if you know me at all, you know motivating myself to edit is hard enough without having the malaise sitting on my chest.  Bleh.

I need to just suck it up.  I will NOT miss my deadlines.  I will NOT push back my release date.  Malaise be damned.

So, here's how it will go.  I have until Sunday to input my editor's notes.  Sunday-Tuesday I will proofread this puppy one more time.  Wednesday-Thursday is formatting.  A week from Friday I WILL get this uploaded for pre-order.  Dammit.

Also on this Friday, I'll do the big cover reveal for those of you who didn't receive my newsletter.

Screw the malaise.  I ain't got time for no frickin' malaise.  Time to crack the whip and get my buns in gear.

But first, coffee!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Free Weekend - The Aftermath

Okay, so it's only been a week since I did the free weekend thing for Dying Embers. 

Now, it seems anti-intuitive to make money by giving books away.  At least to me.  But the popular advice around the self-publishing interwebs is that making a book free can increase sales - not only for the book but for other books you may have out. 

So, here's how it shakes out for anyone else who might be a doubting Thomas like me:

I gave away approx. 2500 copies of Dying Embers worldwide on February 13th & 14th.  Prior to that weekend, I had not sold a single copy of DE and only 3.39 other books in the month of Feb.  In January, I only sold 6 copies of DE and 15 copies total for all 4 books.  Starting with that weekend to this morning, I have moved 15 copies of DE and 4 copies of Accidental Death - both thru sales of either book and pages read for DE (since AD is currently out of the Kindle Select program and is unavailable for Kindle Unlimited.)

This is all without any additional advertising.  (I do have advertising going out tomorrow, so that might skew any more sales data from the 'free weekend' thing.)

In addition to hard-number sales, though, I have seen an uptick in interest.  The rankings for all 4 books is up, which is always good.  And I've seen an increase in reviews and ratings for DE.

Before the free weekend, Dying Embers had 20 reviews on Amazon. Now it has 21.  One seems like a minor addition, but it was a 5-star, so I'll call that a win.  Also, DE had 31 ratings and 16 reviews on  Goodreads.  Today, it has 38 ratings and 17 reviews.  The review was a 5-star.  The ratings? Not exactly sure, but I do know a couple were 5, a couple were 3, and I got my first 1-star.  (Not every book is for every person.)

Okay, so I'm not burning up the bestseller lists, but this definitely makes me way more hopeful than I was at the beginning of the month.  And I hope my experience here helps you make a decision when you're thinking about whether to do a free day or weekend or whatever.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I'm Such a Tease

Hey all.  I've got a newsletter coming up in the wee hours of tomorrow morning and it's got all sorts of interesting stuff in it.  I really want all y'all to see it, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for the subscribers, so...

Here's a teaser taste of the cover reveal. 

And I snippet of the first chapter.

Zeke’s place looked like a war zone.
The once-lovely mansion of wood and stone complimented with steel and glass now could’ve been a piece of abstract art. Entire portions had been wished out of existence. I expected the remainder to topple over at any minute. Bits of the debris still smoldered, sending tendrils of gray into the morning light.
Is that gas I smell?
I hadn’t seen or heard from my former lover since the night we saved my corner of genie-dom and turned my home into a melted mess in the process. Zeke should’ve at least texted me to come retrieve the bitch who used to be my best friend. Frankly, I’d been relieved to not have to deal with that particular problem. Especially since I’d been the one to turn her into a dog in the first place. That was at first. Then concern took over and sent me looking for the man and the pooch.
Only to pull into the driveway of Casa Salvador Dali. All the place needed was a few oozing clocks scattered around.
All of the damage might explain Zeke’s lengthy silence. Or so I thought until I realized the mayhem couldn’t have been more than a couple hours old.
“Jo, love?” The right proper Basil Hadresham, my friend and business partner, queried through the cell phone pressed against my ear. “Are you still on the line?”
We’d been discussing work when I pulled up to the jigsaw mansion. After that, cogent thought had left him behind. “What? Yeah, I’m still here. The problem is, Zeke’s not.” I think. I hoped he wasn’t inside somewhere stiff as a door and deader than the knob.

You'll get the rest of the cover and all of chapter one if you sign up for the newsletter today.  Otherwise, you'll have to wait.  And I know how you hate waiting. ;o)

In Deep Wish is due out March 15th and should be available for pre-order on March 4th.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Networking Stuff

Monday, my friend, Jennifer Lyon had a most excellent post on Networking.  In it I commented that I suck at networking and she replied that I was good at networking.  The whole exchange has been on my mind ever since.  I think what's at play here is a difference in ideas of what networking is. 

The Google definition for networking is "interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career."

I'm good at interacting with people.  But I don't usually do it with the furtherance of my career in mind.  That's the part I'm bad at.  I interact with people I like because it's fun to do so.  I'm horrible at interacting with people I don't like because it's drudgery and it's fake.  

And I am NOT saying that about Jenn.  She's amazing and sweet and lovely.  And she would never be fake.  But you've seen them out there. The fake ones who pretend to like people who could help them. I don't have the energy for that crap. The best I can do is be civil to people I don't like.  Or ignore them entirely so I don't say something nasty.  (Mama always said 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.')

I think there's one thing that's paramount in the whole networking thing.  Be yourself.  Be friendly.  Be chatty.  And don't think about 'networking' while you're doing it.  If you have to think of anything before you go out there in the world, think about building relationships.  That's basically what I had to do when I worked in sales.  Find something you have in common.  Talk about that.  Then when the time comes, they'll help you because they genuinely like you.  And you help them because you genuinely like them.  

Oh, it would be easy enough to find a best selling author and become a sycophant.  "Oh, I love you, Mr. X. And all the words that droppeth from your fingers are like magical beans or wisdom."  Barf.  

So, yeah, I guess I am good at networking - my way.  I have friends out there who've been my friends since I started blogging in 2006.  I don't connect with them as often as I should, and that's on me.  I have new friends I've only met in the past year or so.  :waves:  And if that's networking, then more power to it.  Bring it on, baby.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Analyzing This Past Free Weekend

So, Dying Embers was free the 13th (its 1-year book birthday) and the 14th (Valentine's Day - perfect for the scorned singles).

Here are the hard numbers:

On Saturday, I moved 1960 copies.

16 in Canada
1 in France
2 in Germany
24 in the UK
1917 in the US

This got Dying Embers to #1 in the Top 100 Serial Killer list, #4 in the Top 100 Crime list, #25 in Top 100 All Mystery/Suspense/Thrillers, and #92 in all Free Kindle books (all of those are the top FREE lists).  It also encouraged someone to read 198 pages of DE for the Kindle Unlimited program.

I didn't pay for any advertising here.  I just posted it on FB - on my personal page and my author page.  I tweeted about it.  And I posted about it on three FB groups - Amazon Kindle Goodreads, Free Kindle Books, and Free Books for Kindle UK.  Plus, some lovely people shared my posts and tweets.

So far, it's gained me one new 5-star review on Amazon and one new 5-star rating on Goodreads (by two different people, which is cool.  I don't know either person.

They like me.  They really like me.

Yes, I had a Sally Field moment there.

On Sunday, I moved 471 copies.

23 in Australia
2 in Italy
2 in Japan
5 in Canada
1 in France
4 in Germany
13 in the UK
421 in the US

When I went to bed last night, Dying Embers was #1 in Free Serial Killers, and #102 All Free.  This morning, it's at #149 in Paid Serial Killers and #62,512 All Paid - which is definitely a step in the right direction.  (Especially considering that before the free weekend, DE was over 350,000 in All Paid and some non-essential number in Serial Killers.)  Also, someone read 131 more pages in KU. Not great, but better than a sharp stick in the ear.

No movement for the other books yet.  But there's hope.

Anyway, I'm thrilled for the chance to gain some new readers.  And hopefully, everyone who reads DE will be excited for the release of Fertile Ground in May. 

I hope all that's helpful for anyone wondering how 'free' helps sales.  I'll do a follow-up next week, probably.  Any questions?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Inexpensive Marketing Venues - Revisited

Hi again.

It's been a couple months since I did a marketing venue post, so I thought I'd put this out again with sone new stuff and some updates.

New Stuff:

Freebooksy (Written Word Media) - varies - Looks like they accept Free ($40-$200), under $4.99 ($25-$100), and New Releases ($399-$999).  This one is on my radar, but I haven't tried them yet.

eBooks Habit - $10 - under $2.99 books.  They do have a 'free' option but without guaranteed placement, so I assume you won't know if or when your ad will go up if you don't pay. Also on my radar, but haven't tried them yet.

Robin Reads - $35 - This one was recommended by a hybrid author friend.  Haven't tried them myself, but she spoke highly of them.

The Fussy Librarian - $10-$16 - books with more than 10 reviews averaging more than 4 stars and costing less than $5.99.  I have an ad set to go live with them on 2/23/16 - for Dying Embers.  I'll update after that.


Authors' Billboard - $5 - they accept only .99, free, or new release titles.  You fill out the form and pay before Tuesday and the ad will go in the newsletter for Friday of the following week.  You can submit an ad every thirty days per book.  No data on this one yet.  Seems legit.  Newsletter looks good.
Update 2/8/16: After some bobbles with this the first time, the ad went up for Wish in One Hand, and everything was good.  Didn't see any sales, though.  I'll probably try this with another book when I have one that meets their criteria.

ReadCheaply - Free (for now) - they accept only .99 or free titles.  Fill out the form and they'll let you know which date you'll be on.  (Usually, I get first available within my chosen timeframe.)  You get one ad every thirty days - regardless of titles.  With this one, though, they only take blurbs of less than 300 characters (with spaces), so you might have to tighten that up a bit.  I did this one back in October for Dying Embers' .99 countdown and saw no measurable jump in sales.  I did this again last week for Wish in One Hand and saw a nice little jump.  Newsletter looks good.
Update 2/8/16:  Apparently they have a bobble with their form. I tried to submit for BloodFlow and got the error that I had to wait 4 months.  They have a thing where a single title can only go up once every 4 months, but I never had an ad for BF with them.  I submitted one once, but they rejected it based on the 30 day thing.  Then I submitted one for Accidental Death. The day the ad was supposed to go live, they sent me what I assume was supposed to be a copy of the ad for approval, but the email was blank.  I wrote them, they wrote me telling me it was my browser, I wrote them back after I did all the things they suggested. Long story short, no ad.  And now I have to wait until each of the books drops off their time limit thing.

eBook Deals Daily - $5 for each target (i.e. $5 for Kindle, $5 for Nook, $5 for UK) - only accepts .99 or Free titles.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I've got it on my to-do list.  The newsletter, etc. looks fair.  A lot of links, but not many covers.
Updated 1/5/16:  Ran an ad through them for WIOH.  Not sure if I saw any sales from it, but it looked nice.

Nothing to add:

Omnimystery News - pricing depends on what you want to do (a month long ad is $49, but there are free options, too) - not really caring what price your book is, but it needs to have a suspense, thriller, or mystery element.  I've done cover reveals and book excerpts here (free) and those seem to do okay.  I've also done the $49 thing and haven't seen much uptick.  Newsletter is link heavy, but informative.

Goodkindles - $19.95 or less - doesn't really care about pricing, but obviously needs to be available for Kindle.  For the $19.95 option, I got my book on their site permanently, a listing in their newsletter, and the option to bump my ad to the top after 30 days.  Everything looks good.  Not sure of the sales gain here.

 Indie Author News - a lot of options so contact them for their rate sheet.  I did this once, but I can't remember which option I chose.  I think I ended up with a sidebar ad and didn't see any sales from it. 

Every Writer's Resource - $10.  Permanent. They say their ads are free, but then you have to wait for a spot and there's no guarantee.  You pay them $10 and they pay attention. Professional looking full page for your book. Not sure what sales this has brought me, but the listing is there forever, so who knows. 

Kboards - different options for different things (the link goes to their 'bargain book' promo page - $20)  I did the 'book discovery' promotion ($15) twice.  Once for Dying Embers back in February.  Crickets.  And again for Wish in One Hand.  Again with the crickets.  But I have heard Kboards can be an amazing place to advertise.  Not sure why my experiences haven't been amazing.  Maybe you need to be active on the Kboards forum.  Maybe it's not the target market for my books.  :shrug:

Ereader News Today - check out their rate sheet. It's dependent on your genre and the cost of your book.  The books have to be discounted in some way, and they're more favorable to free or .99 books.  I did a Suspense ad for Dying Embers and a Mystery ad for Accidental Death.  Both gained me upwards of 100 sales each, so it was worth the cost.  However, ENT is extremely picky about who gets to advertise with them, and it's not always clear exactly what they want.  Dying Embers had more reviews when they accepted the ad than Accidental Death, but AD only had 3 reviews when they accepted it.  However, I can't beg an ad for Wish in One Hand, which has 5 Amazon reviews.  Even after I changed the cover. So who knows?

Friday, February 5, 2016

KENP Page Count

If you haven't checked your books' number of pages (KENP - Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) lately, do so.  As of February 1st, they changed some algorithm or something, and some books have changed size significantly.  Although Amazon said the change would average around 5% - and I heard of some that went up a little - mine all dropped precipitously. 

Dying Embers went from 541 KENP to 395.
Accidental Death went from 520 KENP to 380.
BloodFlow went from 715 KENP to 535.

Not sure what the dealie-bob is or why any of them dropped so badly.  Supposedly, it has to do with formatting and unnecessary spaces or font size or some other undefinable thing, and all my books have very simple formatting with no extraneous crap and a normal-sized font.  :shrug:

Not much I can do about it from what I've heard, and I always thought those page counts were way out of line, but it was good while it lasted.  I won't say the fundage hit won't hurt, but then again, my KU page reads have been way down since November, so it's not really effecting me that much yet. 

I do know that Accidental Death will be out of the KU program on 2/12, so I can try the wider distribution thing.  And because of this page count thing, I've chosen to take BloodFlow out, too.  It'll be unavailable through KU on the 22nd - unless something changes.  DE just re-enrolled because I wasn't paying attention earlier this month.  But then again DE is the only book people are reading regularly in KU, so I might've left it there anyway. 

Anyway, these are my experiences.  Your mileage may vary.  Good luck to you all.  :hugs:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wider Distribution - the Hard Numbers

This time last year:

Me (at the local smoke shop): I'm self-publishing a book.  It's due out in a couple weeks.
Manager: Cool!  Where can I buy it?
Me: It'll only be available at Amazon.  Do you have a Kindle?
Her: No. I have an iPad. But that's okay, because I have that app thing.
Me: Kindle for iPad?
Her: That's the one.

That's just an anecdote, but it's fairly indicative of how my non-Amazon sales go.  Them what don't have a Kindle use the app.  Them what don't like Amazon have to wait to buy my books elsewhere. Why?

Well, I initially started out as Amazon-only because I wanted to see how the Kindle Select perks worked for me.  Then, in May, I took Dying Embers out of Kindle Select and put into wider distribution to see how that worked for me.


I sold 5 books in the 90 days I had DE in wider distribution - and those 5 sales were due to an ad that sold me over a hundred books at Amazon.  Needless to say, I put DE back into Kindle Select and haven't regretted it.

Then I took Wish in One Hand out of the program and placed it in the wider distribution windmill.  Almost 90 days have gone by.  1 sale.  To a friend. 

I tried looking for 'non-Amazon' marketing outlets.  They don't seem to exist.  Those Kindle advertisers who do put up links for your books at other sites garner very few sales.  How do Nook / Kobo / Apple users find new books?  Got me.  Perhaps those distributors are using their marketing space for the Big 5.  :shrug:  I am not Big 5 and I never will be, so oh well. 

I still have WIOH in the wide distribution and I will through at least a month's worth of the launch for In Deep Wish.  Because I am launching IDW everywhere and I want to see how that goes.  Maybe if I wave two books in a series at those other readers, they'll be inclined to buy.  Probably not, though.  I have low expectations.  We'll see.

I tried a wider distribution for my printed books.  I sold like 1 book that way.  To the same friend.  I made .61 on a $15 book through B&N.  (BTW, I made .59 on the 99 cent ebook I sold through B&N.)  And that is the money for a cheaper to print book.  If I wanted to take BloodFlow through the process, my take would be considerably less unless I wanted to price my paperbacks so high no one would want to buy one.  Raise your hand if you're willing to pay more than $15 for a paperback.  Yeah, I didn't think so.  Hell, even at $12.99, I can't move these suckers and any lower makes my cut feel like I'm giving these away.

To sum up, I haven't figured out how to make money at the wider distribution thing.  There are dollars out there, but I can't seem to tap into them.  If I do, I'll let you know what the secret is.  I suspect if the other book distributors got a little more friendly to self-published authors like myself - provided some perks and incentives, a little marketing somethin-something - it might be better.  I'll probably never know.  In the end, I keep trying new things.  And after I try the new things, I end up back with Amazon exclusively because that makes the most sense for me.  Time will tell.  If that changes, I'll roll with it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Doing the Business Stuff

Well, it's February first and that means tax time is right around the corner which has me thinking about the business side of this endeavor.  And believe me, I try very hard not to think about that side - as evidence by the number of things my inbox holds that are waiting for me to attend to them.  (I leave it in the inbox until it's tended to, so I don't forget.  Which makes me aware of my laziness on a daily basis. Umm...)

Now I know why some authors hire assistants.  ;o)

I have to look at my PayPal statement to make sure that balances. I have to check FB invoices and make sure they match the amounts withdrawn from my bank account.  I have to verify my Draft2Digital statement to see if it matches what I have in my spreadsheet.  Amazon's payments should've hit my account this weekend, so I have to check that and verify whether everything jibes.  Then I have to start my taxes...


Crammed into a padded envelope tucked into the shelf beside me are all the receipts I collected for 2015.  Those have to be sorted through and entered into a spreadsheet so I know what goes into which box on the tax forms.

It's not really a big deal.  It's just that if I didn't kvetch about it, I wouldn't have anything to talk about.  And what would be the fun in that?  ;o)

Writing itself is an entirely creative endeavor.  But this isn't pure writing.  This is a business.  As such, I have business stuff to do to make sure this machine continues to run.  So I can continue to write and be creative. 

None of it should take too awfully long - except the taxes.  And I'll feel better after I get it done. 


Maybe the next day. 

Right now, I need more coffee, then I'll call my mom.  Then I'll exercise.  Then... 

What kinds of things are you putting off today?