Wednesday, July 27, 2016

No Slap and Tickle Here

If you've been around my blogs long enough, you'll have heard this before: I don't write sex.  Flip open any of my books - even Fertile Ground - and you won't find more than the barest hint that anything sexual has occurred. 

And that's me.  It's a choice I made a long time ago.  It's not that I have anything against books with sex in them.  Personally, though, I can live without the down and dirty, nitty-gritty of sexual encounters.  When I'm reading, I scan through those scenes anyway. Oh, once upon a time, I read every word of them, so I get it.  I really do.  It's just that as I got older, I got bored with reading the sex scenes.  I craved the plot.  I wanted the characterizations.  I needed the scenery.  Sex scenes?  Yawn.

So when I began writing, I left the sex out.  I felt like it wasn't exactly germane to my books anyway.  I mean, when my characters are fighting for their lives, sex ain't exactly on their minds.  Fighting for their life, hunting down a killer, trying to solve a mystery...  Ain't got time for no game of slap and tickle.

I like to think I'm not the only reader who is happier without the sex scenes.  I like to think I'm providing a niche for those readers with my own books.  Quite possibly, I'm losing sales because there isn't any sex in my books. Oh well. I already know I'm losing sales because I am a hermit.  It's about choices.  Some people write books with sex, some people write books about sex, and I write books without sex.

I did try to turn one of my books into a romantic suspense.  It was flat and forced, and I deleted it.  The book was better without it.  In my opinion, of course.

I could probably do it.  I could sit down and write sex over and over until it came out natural and interesting.  But I don't want to.  I hope you'll understand.

I'm not apologizing.  I'm just explaining.  And hoping that, at some point, those no-sex niche readers will find my books and love them.  Okay, just one apology: If you were expecting Jo and Zeke to get hot and heavy at any point in the Once Upon a Djinn series, I'm sorry to disappoint you.  If at some point Jo and Zeke resume their romantic relationship, any intimate acts will be completed behind closed doors. 

Oh, and if you know someone like me who is looking for books without sex scenes in them, send them my way.  I promise they'll get all the other good parts of a story.  =o)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inexpensive Marketing Venues - Revisited July 2016

Hey all!  Here we are again.  There's some new stuff and some updates on the old stuff.  If you're a writer, I hope you find some value in these posts to increase your sales.  If you're a reader, I hope you find value in these posts for places to find new books to read.  YMMV.

New Stuff:

Reading Deals - $15 or free if you're willing to go 'not guaranteed' (as of 7/15/16 they raised the price to $29) paid up front & they reimburse you if they reject your ad.  I paid, they rejected and reimbursed my PayPal account.  It was an ad for Accidental Death (back in June when AD was still 99 cents).  They said they rejected it because my cover wasn't professional enough and then gave me links to cover designers.  I thought that was a little tacky.  The whole thing is kinda weird because I've gotten a lot of compliments on AD's cover,  In fact, when I hand out my bookmarks - the ones that have all the covers on them - people point to AD and tell me they really like that cover.  :shrug:  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.  I may try them again and see what happens with a 'professionally done' cover.

Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Bargains - $5 for one day, $10 for two days - paid upon ad acceptance.  I found them through their Facebook page, which seems current.  I filled out the form 2 days ago and haven't heard back yet.  When I got their email blast this morning, it was empty, so I'm not sure what's going on here.  I guess I'll wait and see if they ever get back to me.  ETA: They got back to me this morning and WIOH has been accepted for a 2-day ad next Monday and Tuesday.  We'll see how it goes.


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.

Update 7/20/16: When I went over there to put in a $19.95 ad, I saw they'd raised their prices to $49.95 for the same ad.  I'm not quite willing to pay that much when I didn't see that many sales from the $19.95 ad.

Robin Reads - $35 - This one was recommended by a hybrid author friend.  Haven't tried them myself, but she spoke highly of them.
Update 5/20/16: I have an ad placed with them for May 29th for Dying Embers. It was $40. They only accept ads for books with multiple reviews and DE is the only book that qualified.
Update 7/20/16:  I tried to place an ad with them for Accidental Death.  They rejected it.

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.
Update 5/20/16:  I have an ad running with them today for Fertile Ground under their New Releases section.  It's just the cover with a link, so I'm not expecting huge things.

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.
Update 5/20/16: I have a book excerpt coming out with them for Fertile Ground on the 27th.  Fingers crossed.
Update 7/20/16: I saw a few sales from the May ad.  Still worth using, imo.

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:
Update 7/20/16: I used their 'new release' ad for Fertile Ground back in May.  Crickets.

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?
Update 7/20/16:  They've changed everything up on me.  I stopped by to try and get an ad in for Wish in One Hand again, but they changed how they do things.  They're only accepting books by quarter now and their third quarter is all booked up.  Not sure how this is working. 

Nothing to add:

Facebook paid ads - You set the dollar amount you want to spend, the length the ad runs, and the people it reaches, so your mileage will vary.  This one isn't exactly new, because I've done these before, but since I've never talked about them, I thought I'd put them here.  Frankly, I can't say for sure I've seen any sales from doing this marketing, but it's getting my books in front of hundreds of faces, so that somebody down the road may think 'hey, I've seen her books before' and buy something.  One can hope.

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.
Update 5/20/16: I tried an ad for DE with them. Crickets.  But my ad wound up under the fold.  I don't think 'suspense' is their target market. Or maybe it's just me.

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.
Update 5/20/16: I tried Bargain Booksy. Got a few sales.  Not quite enough to pay for the ad, though, but product awareness is always a good thing.

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.
Update 5/20/16: Still haven't tried this one yet.

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.

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. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Linear Writing

There are a lot of different ways to approach writing a book.  Some people follow Lewis Carroll's advice - Begin and the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop.  Others write a scenes out of order and then cobble them together when they get done.  Whatever works for the writer is fine by me.  You know, as long as the end result is well-written.

Personally, I write the Lewis Carroll way.  Linear writing.  I start writing at the beginning and work my way forward scene by scene.  Going out of order screws my brain up.  For the most part.

You see, sometimes I'll be writing along in a nice straight line - or rather a horribly crooked line that still goes from A to B to C to D, etc. - and then I'll realize I had scenes I should've written BEFORE the scene I just finished.  Backtrack!  When that happens, I just need to remember how to find my way back.  Tie a string, so to speak, so I can follow it back when I'm done.

This happened to me last week.  I finished a scene with the hero and then wrote a scene with the villain.  THEN I realized that I had a whole day's worth of stuff for the hero to do before the villain scene that night.  Oops. 

Then, a day later, my brain went and gave me a perfect set of scenes for closer to the middle of the book.  Derp.  I wrote the bones of those down in a notebook and tried to get back to my string.

This, of course, is just first drafty stuff.  In edits, I can and do get away from the linear thing if I need to.  Especially if the editor goes 'you know, this scene should really go AFTER that scene, not before it' and when she points out 'you never did show what happened BEFORE this to make this happen.'  And then I go 'DERP' and realize I skipped over that to get to this. 

But the first draft? I like it in a line.  That's how readers are going to read it, after all.  Although, I have read books that aren't linear either.  They kind of confuse me.  Unless it's a drop of backstory here or there.  To me, that's still in a line because it's what the character is thinking about right then.  I read a Spillane novella the other day that started at the end and then came back to the beginning and then later - at the right point - went back to the end again.  It worked out okay, but it confused me.

Maybe it's just me.  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Multi Cultural Djinn

I didn't write the Once Upon a Djinn series thinking about making it multi-cultural.  Personally, I can't stand that shit where you insert particular races and/or cultures to satisfy some asinine expectations.  However, genies being what genies are, they do come from all races and cultures and time periods.

Jo Mayweather is a flapper from the 1920s.
Ezekiel "Zeke" ben Aron is from Old Testament times.
Omar is a Bedouin from only he knows when.
Trygvyr is a Viking.
Basil Hadresham is a Englishman and former street rat from the 1700s.
Mary Killigrew is a former pirate.  (Based on an actual lady pirate, btw.)
Iago Duarte is a Moor*.
Amun is Egyptian.
Lady Mei is a former Geisha.
Abrihet and Gabra are Nubian twins.
Michael is a surfer dude studying law.
Mena is Babylonian.
Grigori is a Cossack.
Hans and Frank are German.
Jay and Ellie are gods and can look like whoever they want to.  Right now, Ellie is Goth and Jay is dusky skinned, but they're siblings, so whatever.
Renee is human, which is more of a disadvantage than any race, religion, creed, orientation.

Some of them are good, some of them are bad.  Some of them are douches. Some were bad but now are good.  Some were good but now are bad.  Some of them are sitting the fence.

And none of the parts that make them who they really are has a damn thing to do with color.  I guess that's mainly because when you're centuries old all that inconsequential shit really is inconsequential.  No one cares that her skin color is lighter or his is darker.  No one cares that Hans is gay or that Basil is metrosexual.  ("I am not metrosexual! And I'll thank you to stop spreading that rumor!") 

In their world, it's all good.  Except some of the genies think being a slave is a natural thing and other want to destroy the institution.  And, like I said, humans are low, but that's more the Efreet talking than anything.  The Efreet suck, but even they don't care about color or culture.  They want to see everyone enslaved and they want to hold the leashes. 

They are who they are. Pretty much how we all should be anyway.

And if you don't know who they are, read Wish in One Hand and In Deep Wish.  For further additions to the motley cast of characters, read Up Wish Creek when it comes out in September.

*It's my story. I can make Iago the Moor if I want to. =op

Monday, July 11, 2016

Stop Thinking

Now, I'm the last person anyone would expect to say such an awful thing as 'Stop Thinking'.  I love my brain.  I love thinking.  I believe everyone should do it as often as possible.

Except when thinking turns to THINKING...

Thinking about the book I want to write turns into thinking how the market might receive the book I want to write.

Thinking about whether I should put off the book I want to write in favor of the book someone else asked for.

Thinking about readers opinions instead of my own opinions.

Thinking about all of that and, thus, not getting any writing done.

So, I told myself to knock that shit off. 

I love my readers.  You guys are awesome.  And it's not that I don't care what you think, it's that I started to care too much about what you might think to the detriment of the actual words.  As a result, not only were you not getting what you wanted (or what I assumed you might want), but after Up Wish Creek goes lives, you wouldn't be getting anything. 

So, yeah, I should be finishing the 2nd Dennis Haggarty so it can go live this fall.  :shrug:  It'll get done.  Eventually.  In its own time.  I should be working on this book or that book or this storyline or that storyline line.  Shoulda would coulda. 

Anyway, you're going to be getting something a little different in the next SCIU.  Probably not anything you expected - except a good suspense story from the SCIU.  I won't be talking about it publicly until it's no longer a fragile hatchling.  Suffice it to say, I scrapped what I already had - shunted to the 'unfinished crap' folder - and started something entirely different, but totally right.  For me, anyway.  No sure when it'll be out.  I have to actually write it first. 

And in order to do that, I have to stop thinking and just write the damn book.