Monday, July 30, 2018

Typos, Flaws, and Formatting Errors

Typos, flaws, formatting errors...  No matter how hard we try to scrub them all out, they still seem to pop up in any manuscript. 

As a writer, they bug the hell out of me.  I'm sure they bug the hell out of my editor, too.  The two of us try our damnedest to  get those buggers right the hell out of my books before they go to publication.

If you follow me on Facebook, you will occasionally see me point out where people have egregiously left one in a short FB post somewhere - usually the news.  The shorter the written item, the more irritated I get about it.  And the fact that someone somewhere was actually paid good money to write short paragraph or two with errors sends me 'round the bend.

Now, you may have seen a boo-boo or two in my blog posts or my FB posts.  :shrug:  I do the best I can but those things are usually written on the fly.  And no one is paying me to write them.  (Sure, in the bigger scheme of things, everything I write goes toward selling books so in a way, they are 'paid for', but let's not split that hare*.)  Hell, there are probably errors in this post.  I'm writing it on the fly at just before 6am, so it is what it is.

As a reader, I forgive a lot of typos, flaws, and formatting errors.  Provided the story is good.  I read one recently where the author kept using YOUR in place of YOU'RE.  But the story was enthralling, so I got over it.  Read another where the formatting was off and there was a space between every paragraph - like you see here.  They either forget to turn off the 'Add Space Between Paragraph' function in Word or they just didn't care.  I got over that, too. 

Hell, I've run across books that were totally screwed up on my Kindle Fire, but they were interesting enough for me to try them again on my old Kindle and they read just fine.  It's just how far I'm willing to go as a reader. 

As a writer, though... GAH! 

I read another book recently where there were multitudes of errors.  I stuck with it and the book was actually pretty good otherwise, so it wasn't a big deal to me.  But the reviews.  OMG, people were ripping the crap out of the poor author.  Telling them they needed an editor (when an editor name was actually listed on the product detail page).  I felt so bad for them.  Not that the reviews were wrong, per se, but I could never do that to another author. 

Finding a good editor...  But that's a post for another time. 

Ahem, where was I?  Yes, yes...  wrapping up...

So, how are you about typos, flaws, and formatting errors?  Fine with them as long as the story's good or do they drive you right up the freakin' wall?  Or both?

* Yes, I meant to write HARE instead of HAIR.  Everyone splits hairs, but few split hares.  It's just gross.  But it got your attention, didn't it?  =o)  Intentional typos... also a post for another time.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Stuffs and Junk

I got a glimpse of the cover for Sleeping Ugly last night.  SQUEE!  Can't show it to you guys yet because it needs a eensy bit of tweaking.  But squee.  And soon, I'll be able to share it all over the place. 

Ugly and the Beast is coming right along.  Not sure if that's the right title for it yet.  I took last night off because I was pooped... okay, and because I'm not quite sure what the next scene is going to be... but I should be back to it tonight.  As of now, it's sitting at 12,700 words.

The sale and the ad for this week is coming right along, too.  There's still today to go on the sale.  All three SCIU books are 99c each.  Get 'em while they're hot.

I think I figured out the reason why these ads are not performing like the ads I placed in 2015.  In 2015, there was no Kindle Unlimited.  So people would buy the whole book and it would sit on their Kindle unread and no one would ever know.  Now, they use their KU subscription to get the book and sometimes they read it, but sometimes it sits on the Kindle unread until it drops off or whatever. It's good because people aren't paying for books they don't actually read.  But yah, it hurts the sales numbers. 

I'm still getting a good return on the ads, though, and I'm getting plenty of residual page reads, so it's all good. 

And that's it for me right now.  Any questions?  Comments?  News?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Planning Ahead (Even When You Kinda Suck At It)

Okay, so I am the worst planner-aheader ever.  I don't like making doctor's appointments more than a few days out (but I do ever since I missed making an important one).  I don't like making hair appointments at all (which is part of the reason I cut my own hair).  I want to do stuff when I get the notion to do stuff.  And not before.

However, being a self-published author means planning ahead, even when you kinda suck at it. 

There's planning a publication schedule so you know when you're going to need to have things done so you can, you know, get a book in an editor's hands.  And so you know what the hell you're going to do so you can fit yourself into a cover artist's schedule. 

Ran into that one again this week.  Ack.  It's taken care of, but it meant planning ahead when I wasn't ready to even start thinking about the next book and the next.  (Yes, I am now on my artist's schedule for October AND February. :panics a little:  So, not ready.)

There's planning a marketing campaign.  Umm, yeah, so not good at thinking ahead far enough to do that, but I'm trying.  I'm trying to think about next month's release and have marketing around that to draw people in.  We'll see if I get it right.

Planning anything is so outside my comfort zone.  But I have to step outside my comfort zone if I want to make this self-publishing thing work.  And I really do want to. 

Heh, maybe I should've called the blog Outside the Comfort Zone instead of Outside the Box.  Yeah, no. 

Anyway, I've made some good inroads into being a planner.  I have a date book!  And a calendar!  And I even remember - most of the time - to write stuff on them.  (I'm better than I used to be.)  But I'm still kind of sucky at it. 

Hell, if I wasn't, I wouldn't have needed to panic when my artist said she was almost booked through the end of the year.  I would've already had space in her calendar because I would've been planning.  And if I was really planning, she'd be working on the next cover in December or January instead of February (which will push a release date back to March instead of a Feb release like I would've had planned, if I was, you know, a planner.)

It's all good.  And I'm working on it.

How are you at planning? 

Monday, July 23, 2018


Hey, All. 

Just a quick note to let y'all know that the SCIU (Serial Crimes Investigation Unit) series books are on sale this week.  99c here in the US and .99p in the UK. 

There'll be an ENT ad going out today for Dying Embers.  If you already have DE, now's the time to grab the others.

If you're not familiar with the SCIU series, each book stands alone and centers on a different main character within the same law enforcement agency.  They all have the same general theme - an agent dealing with a case that is personally difficult for them (even though Ned in Early Grave doesn't really realize it until near the end) and a villain with a psychotic reason for their actions. 

And, yes, the bad guys always get what's coming to them in the end.  I don't write books where the bad guys win.  Ever.

So, anyway, thank you to everyone who's already bought and read the books.  Super special thanks to those that also left a review. 

Now, back to your regularly scheduled lives.  ;o)


Friday, July 20, 2018

A Little Window

The other day while I was at the feed store, I got to talking books with the cashier there.  And some interesting things came out of the conversation.

First, she loved Blood Flow (now Project Hermes) and spent some time gushing about it, which made my day.  I'd given her a copy back in May and she finally finished reading it.  (Her busy schedule, not that it was a slow read.)  I reminded her that it I had changed the name, and she was glad.  Her take on it was that the previous title was confusing and didn't really fit the story and it clashed with the cover.  Good to get feedback from a member of the reading populace. 

Second, the younger gal cashier there stated that she hadn't read an entire book since 7th grade (she'll be a senior in high school this fall.  Now, I don't know about you, but a young person should never say they hate reading in front of me.  Or apparently in front of my book loving friend there.  We spent a copious amount of time trying to convince the young lady of the joys of reading.  By the end of our harangue, she seemed like she might actually be interested in reading a whole book.  Perhaps one of mine.  My friend said she'd give her Dying Embers when she finished reading it. 

Third, the young gal stated that her teacher read the class a book last year that she really liked.  Had READ a book to her class... to juniors in high school.  The last time a teacher of mine read a book to the class, I was in third grade.   This might be how a gal reaches 17 without having read an entire book on her own.  We were reading like fools for our classes back in the '80s.  We had to in order to pass our classes.  Shakespeare and other classics were assigned reading.  Hell, even books like Lord of the Flies (which I hate) are better than not reading at all.

Fourth, the other occupant of the store at the time was the young grandson of the guy who loads the feed into my car.  I think he's eight.  Anyway, he was trying to be part of the conversation, too, but he really didn't have the chops - you know, cuz he's a child.  The only book he said he liked made me sad, because it was so obviously virtue signalling.  A boy that age should be reading The Hardy Boys or Tom Swift or Encyclopedia Brown.  You know, something adventurous and exciting.  He should've been able to talk about that.  Not a book about a poor tortured little girl.  Is it any wonder kids don't like to read? Ugh.

Of course, this is just a little snapshot from a small town feed store in northern Arkansas.  I would expect, though, it's a tiny window into the greater whole of middle America. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Updates and Junk

I gave myself quite the pep-talk on The Writing Spectacle yesterday.  And I still am way short of my goal to have this done by the end of today.  We'll see what today brings.

Talking with my cover artist and she's all 'how do you want this laid out?' and I'm all like 'gah!'.  Then I went to the Top 100 Urban Fantasy list on Amazon and looked at what some of the bestsellers are doing for covers.  I kind of liked one and then kind of liked another.  The second one was the half-face thing, which I hadn't done before, so she sent me a mock-up.  Meh.  We're going with Jeni in the middle, my name on top, the title on the bottom.  With magical sparklies and stuff.  I found what I think is a good model for Jeni, in a pose that looks like she just woke up and isn't happy about it.  Should be fun.  Fingers crossed it draws in readers.  You'll see the cover when I approve it.

I have a sale set up starting Saturday for all the SCIU books.  99c or .99p each.  Thru the 28th.  And I got accepted for another ENT ad for Dying Embers.  It'll go out on Monday.  Fingers crossed on that, too.

I was at the doctor's office yesterday for my shot and the nurse, who I see every three months so we're pretty friendly, asked how the writing was going.  Then she asked some questions about how things work in the biz.  It was nice to talk about it to someone outside the biz who was really interested.  I just wish she had more time to read. 

Well, that's about it for the update today.  Any questions? 

Monday, July 16, 2018

How Not to Market

Since I'm at a loss for what to post here, here's a link to someone else's brilliance...

I saw this post over at The Mad Genius Club yesterday and thought I'd share it here.  It's got some really good tips if you really don't wanna sell books.  (Or things to avoid if your goal is actually selling books.  But who'd wanna do that?  :smirk:)

We won't talk about the things I've done to not sell books.  I'm better than I used to be.  Kinda.  Okay, in some ways, I'm not.  

(Warning: The font is really small (at least on my computer), so you might need to increase it on your computer to read it without going blind.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Marketing Venues

Okay, I know I've done this before, but here's an updated list with recent info.

These are the venues I've tried this year and the results (as near as I can figure them):
(Disclaimer:  I don't know how much of the sales actually came from paid ads and how many came from freebie residuals or how many were from my own efforts on Facebook and Twitter.)

Author's Billboard: In April, I did a free book thing with Dying Embers, had Fertile Ground at 99c, and kept Early Grave at $2.99.  During that sale, I placed ads for all three books with AB at $6 ea.  I recouped that $18 and the residuals have been awesome.   In June, I did ads with them for Accidental Death and Natural Causes.  Those ads cost me $5 (they were having a sale), but I did not recoup my investment that time.

Ereader News Today:  In May, I put Wish in One Hand at 99c and left the other three books in the series at $2.99.  I placed an ad for WIOH with ENT for $40. I recouped my money, but as to how much above that is attributable to this ad?  :shrug:  Enough to make me want to use ENT again. 

Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Books:  I also had a two day ad for WIOH here during the above sale.  With the ENT ad already going, I have no way to assign particular sales to any one venue.  The cost of this was $8.

FB Boost Ad:  I also ran a Facebook Boost ad during the sale.  Again, I have no way of saying definitely that sales came from this boost.  It cost $20 with a $10 coupon, so I was only $10 out of pocket.

eBooks Habit: For my June Dennis Haggarty Mystery sale, I also used this venue.  And again, I did not recoup my investment.  I should have been paying better attention here, though.  Their FB page hadn't been updated in a while, but I'd already placed the ad when I discovered this.  Do your homework.

Bargain Booksy:  I used them for a trial ad for Project Hermes at full $2.99 price.  I paid $55 and did not make even half of that back on sales.  I've had better luck with them in the past, so I'm guessing it was the book and the price that screwed me this time.  Live and learn.

I discovered a couple new venues specifically targeting the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and the SF/F genre.  They're a little more strict with their requirements, so I'm not sure what I'll do for ads with them, but I'll let you know when I do and how it went. 

I have a request in for another ad with ENT, this time for DE for the end of this month sometime.  We'll see if they accept or reject my request. 

To wrap up, so far this year I've spent $153 dollars on advertising and I figure I've made about $230 off those ads.  So even with the ads that didn't do well, I'm ahead for the year there.  Now if I can just sell enough to recoup my editing and cover art costs.  Heh.  We won't talk about that hole today.  It's big and it's deep.

Monday, July 9, 2018


You may remember that I mentioned something a little while back about changing the pricing for my books.  And you may also remember my staunch insistence a longer while back on keeping my books at $2.99.  So what changed?

Well, I've been considering things.  Mulling them over in my head.  Stewing on them.

It seems to me that comparable books to mine are priced higher than mine.  And yeah, there's the whole perceived disrespect for $2.99 books.  And...  Yeah... well, I'm trying something to maybe shake things up a little sales-wise.

And since, right now, the majority of my sales come from Kindle Unlimited page reads - which are unaffected by the list price of a book - I figure I can't hurt anything by switching things up a bit.

And since, other than page reads, the majority of my sales come from discounting my books, the list price really isn't affecting those sales either.

But maybe, just maybe, having a higher price will make some people more likely to buy my books or read my pages - especially when they DO go on sale and I have advertising in place...

Eh, it's worth a shot.

To that end, Project Hermes went up to $4.99 over the weekend.  As did Blink of an I.  Like I said, it seems to me that comparable books in length and genre are priced at that or higher.

Now comes the tricky part.  Amazon won't let you change a price within 30 days of a Kindle Countdown Deal.  Either you change the price and have to wait 30 days to have a KCD or you have a KCD and have to wait 30 days to raise the price.  This means that the sales I'm planning for Dying Embers and for Wish in One Hand (July and August respectively) will junk up when I'm able to raise the prices for those series.  So, SCIU and OUAD will remain at $2.99 each for at least the next couple months.  After that, those two series will increase to $3.99 each.

I think I'm going to leave the Dennis Haggarty Mystery series alone at $2.99 each for now.  That feels like it's in line with similar books.  And I'm planning on Sleeping Ugly launching at $2.99.  It's a shorter, snarkier paranormal novel and that's what those seem to be priced at when I go to buy them.

We'll see how this goes.  I could fall flat on my face.  But I'll never know if I never try.  And doing things the same way I've been doing them isn't getting me better results than I've been seeing.  

And that's where my brain is at right now.  Any questions?  Comments? 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Updates and Junk

Okay, so the ad on Wednesday was a bust.  I sold 5 copies of Project Hermes that day.  Which puts me about $45 in the hole for that one.  Eh, live and learn.  I didn't have any expectations for this, so I'm not crushed or anything.  I did start seeing page reads for it last night, so maybe there's hope.

On the bright side, PH went from 1.2 millionth in all books to 39K in all books and reached like 253rd in Technothrillers.  Not sure why Amazon put it there, but hey, it's kinda technothrillerish.  Also not sure how it went so high with only 5 sales.  I'm hoping a lot of KU readers downloaded it due to the ad.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

In other news, Early Grave got another 5 star review at Amazon.  Someone who'd reviewed both Dying Embers and Fertile Ground, so yay.

And both Accidental Death and In Deep Wish got new ratings at Goodreads.  Hey, I'll take what I can get.

I found a couple new (to me) advertising venues I'm going to try - one for strictly mystery/suspense and the other for just SF/F.  Unfortunately, they both require the books to have at least 10 Amazon reviews, so I only have a few books to choose from for advertising there.  I think Dying Embers later this month and Wish in One Hand sometime next month.   We'll see.

I have until no later than the 18th to get Sleeping Ugly whipped into better shape and back into my editor's hands.   I'm hoping for an August 29th release, so you'll have it your hands for reading over Labor Day weekend.  Provided I get the editing done and my cover artist gets the cover done and there's no floods, famines, pestilences, Armageddons, etc.  As we get closer to getting this published, I'll have a better idea of whether I'll make the date, go early, or completely fall apart.

And that's about it for updates. 

Any questions?  Got any news of your own?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More Marketing Stuff

I'm trying something a little different today.  I purchased an ad for Project Hermes (formerly Blood Flow) with Bargain Booksy and for once, I didn't lower the price.  However, since my books are all priced reasonably, it qualified. 

After the ad is over and the subsequent residuals (if there are any) have stopped, I will be raising the price of this book.  So, I guess, in a way, it is kind of a sale.  Buying it now will save you a buck or two.  (Haven't decided whether it'll be $3.99 or $4.99 yet.)

We'll see if I get enough sales to cover the $55 ad.  I need to sell roughly 27 copies.  Fingers crossed I sell more.  Fingers really crossed I sell enough that I don't want to kick myself for trying this.

Part of me thought 'July 4th... political suspense... Perfect.' and then another part thinks 'July 4th... nobody will be buying books today because they're all out celebrating'.  Time will tell which part is right.

The ad is live on their site and relatively near the top of the page (7th book down).  It'll go live in their newsletter sometime between 9am and noon eastern. 

And Happy Independence Day, folks!  I didn't forget.  I just put something up over at The Writing Spectacle instead of here.   This is the work blog, after all.  ;o)

Have a great day and be safe out there. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Time for Everything

This morning, Elizabeth Spann Craig had an interesting post on her blog on balancing business and writing.  As always, she makes some interesting points and gives her take on things.  And I agreed with pretty much everything.  Except she says she gets the writing out of the way first. 

As you've probably heard me say before, I don't write in the morning.  Years of homeschooling got me in the habit of writing at night.  And while I haven't had to homeschool in years, I'm still in that habit.  Plus, now Hubs isn't going off to a day job either, and we share an office, and the majority of his work has to be done in the morning.  You can see where I'm going with that, right?  The office is nice and quiet at night

And now my pay-job is busiest in the morning. So shifting the schedule to write during the day is not going to work for me.

So, I write and edit at night.  I do business stuff - marketing, networking, emailing, spreadsheeting, etc. - in the morning, too.  That stuff is easier to pause when something comes up than writing.  I like a nice uninterrupted stretch of an hour or three to put new words on the page.  Or to get really rolling on edits.  I start after dinner and work until bedtime or brain fatigue kicks in.

But that's me.

Now, I don't think Elizabeth was saying her way is the only way to write.  Of course not.  She was simply giving what works for her as a template for what might help other writers find their balance between writing and the business of being an author.  And I'm certainly not saying my way is the only way.  As I've always maintained, there is no right way to do this crazy thing we do.  You've got to find your own stride.  And if your stride isn't working for you, try something different until you're in your own groove.

My groove ain't for everyone. 

Now, you might notice that I talk about working in the morning and writing at night.  What about afternoons, you say?  Well, I'm pretty much a useless toad from lunchtime to dinner.  I don't write, I don't work, I don't exercise, I don't do housework.  If it doesn't get done in the morning, it ain't getting done until the next morning.  Except for writing.  And unless I'm on a deadline.  Then all bets are off and I work whether I'm a useless toad or not.

How about you?  When's your most productive time of day?  Are you a morning person or a night person?  If you're an afternoon person, I am in awe of you.