Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sale and Marketing Wrap-up

The sale for Accidental Death ended at midnight the 26th (which is the first minute of the day, not the last - a point which confuses me to this day).  It was a Kindle Countdown Deal with only one price point - 99c.  After which, it returned to its regular low price of $2.99.

The sale started at midnight on the 19th.  On the 19th and the 20th, the only advertising I did was through FB, Twitter, and this blog.  I sold one book on the 19th and one book on the 20th.

On the 21st, I had an ad go out through Bargain Booksy.  Ad cost $55.  The ad hit their site at 7am CST and their newsletter reached me at 11am.  I saw one sale before 11am, and that was in Australia (at full price because Amazon doesn't allow KCDs in AU).  Once the newsletter hit inboxes, my sales began to climb.  I saw 53 sales for AD on the 21st and 3 for Natural Causes.

Over the next few days, I had some sales every day with little additional advertising.  I did put out a couple of things to FB groups on Friday, but whether they caused sales or not is hard to tell.  I did a full-on blast Sunday afternoon across all my usual FB groups - a sort of 'time's running out, buy now' thing - but I didn't have an extra sales as far as I can tell.

Pages reads started on Thursday and have been chugging along since.

The ad paid for itself on Saturday, which is the primary goal of paid advertising for me.  Everything after that is gravy.

November was shaping up to be one of my worst sales months ever.  I'd only sold 1.29 books before the sale.  Since the sale, I've sold over 75 books, saving this month from the pits.

I've also seen some pages reads for books not in the Dennis Haggarty series, which certainly helps.  Someone read all of Early Grave, someone else started In Deep Wish and then, I assume, went over to read Wish in One Hand

As for the rankings I was tracking...  AD started out the sale at 943,000 in all books  and reached a high of 6401.  In its genre category, it went from somewhere in the 2100s to a high of 28th in Hard-boiled Mystery and #36 in Noir.  That was Thursday morning.  It's been steadily falling since, but with additional sales trickling in, the fall isn't as fast as it could be.

Here's the graph (because I'm a nerd):
Rank in Thousands
Natural Causes also got a boost in rank.  But I didn't start tracking it until it had already risen in the ranks, so there's not really a baseline.  It did reach 68443 in all books and 281 in HB/Noir.

All in all, I'm pleased with the results.  The rest of this month is gravy.  Not a lot of gravy, but better than it had been.  So, it's all good.

Thanks for reading along.  I hope following this helps you in some way.  Now, I've got to start planning my next marketing ventures for December before I get left out.  Wish me luck.  ;o)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Do the World a Favor. Edit Your Books.

Okay, so I was wandering through my FB newsfeed the other day when I saw a book that looked really interesting.  Thriller, promising loads of action.  Intriguing title.  So-so cover, but I can get over covers.

Clicked the link and started my usual scroll down the detail page to see if it was actually something I'd want.  Blurb sounded interesting.  Further promises of action and thrills.  Check.

A little further down, the author's bio.  Promises of writing about justice.  Fan of good writers.  Check.

Further down to check reviews... no reviews. No reviews?  When was this published?  2016.  Ack.  But that's okay.  Maybe he just hasn't caught people's eyes yet.  Could still be good stuff...

Back up to the top to do a 'look inside'.  And therein lay the rub.

First sentence extremely technical and not in a grabby kind of way.  Two snipers on a rooftop, but started out with detailed info about their weapons.  Meh.

After that loads of dialogue, which is fine by me, but every bit of it was wooden and had a dialogue tag. 

"This doesn't look good," said Jim. 
"I know it doesn't," Mac replied. "But it's our mission." 
"I'm not sure about this," Jim exclaimed.
"It's what you signed up for," Mac said.

Not exactly that, but you get the gist.  (It's actually painful to me to try and make up bad writing.)

The final straw was when gunfire erupted from beneath them, where they were laying on a rooftop, which made it sound like the bullets were coming from, you know, a room inside the building they were laying on. But then the bullets were striking the rooftop.  :blink blink:  I think he might've meant from the street below, but even then, why would bullets from below strike the rooftop?

Stop reading.  Close product page without one-clicking.  Fade out.

Once again, I was left wondering if this writer had bothered to get someone... anyone... to edit his work.  If you follow my Reading Wrap-Up over at The Writing Spectacle, you might have noted that the last one had a DNF book with this exact problem - lack of editing.  That one was a Western.  This one was a Thriller, but it doesn't matter what genre you write when your editing stinks.

My editor would've bitch slapped me hard if I tried to get any of that crap past her.  (In a totally nice and lovely way, of course, and in pretty pink.)  And I would've taken it, because that's her job.  I pay her to bitch-slap me when I get stupid, so my books are better and readers don't snap my book closed on the first page.  (They might anyway, but I guarantee it's not because of editing.)

So, there you are with this book you think is freakin' awesome.  Got a great blurb.  Got a snazzy premise.  You've written the hell out of it.  Put months and months of sweat and angst into it. And you know in your heart that people will love it, too.  You've done all this work.  Do the world a favor and get someone to edit your book.

Find someone who will smack you in the back of the head when you use too many dialogue tags (or not enough).  Find someone who will point out when things aren't kosher - like the bullet thing up there.  My editor keeps constant track of where everyone is sitting or standing and when they're doing each, and pokes me in the eye when I get it wrong.  Which is sometimes annoying, but it keeps me honest, so I want her to keep doing it.

If you can't afford an editor, you have two options - find a friend or three who would be willing to kick the snot out of you for free OR put off publishing your book while you sock away the money to hire an editor.  (Which is why I only published two books in 2017 - no monies for editing.)  Go without for a while and stuff your pennies away until you have the $500-$600 it takes to edit.  But for pity's sake, get the book edited before it goes live on Amazon. 

The world will thank you.  You might even see more sales and more reviews.  You're certainly not seeing them now, so what could it hurt?  Because I'll tell you this, your unedited book is hurting you. 

In a way, it's hurting all of us.  Self-published books take a lot of crap because of poor editing.  Stop being part of the problem.  K?

Note: As I've said before, no one edits my blogs but me.  And even then, I don't do hard edits here, folks.  The writing here is not indicative of the level of editing you'll find in my books.  This is more conversational, straight out of my head writing.  And if, by some chance, you do find an error in my actual books, those aren't my editor's fault.  They're mine.  I'm not infallible, but I try.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Using Amazon Perks More Effectively

Okay, so if you sell books exclusively through Amazon, you know you have these perks you can utilize to help boost sales - chiefly, the Kindle Countdown Deals (KCD) and the free book days. 

Once every 90 days, you can choose to discount your books or have them free for up to 7 days.  With the discount, the days have to be in a row.  With the free, you can sprinkle them around.  Every 90 days you can use one or the other, but not both. 

I've used the KCD and the free promotions, but probably not to the best of their abilities.  And I don't always remember to use them every 90 days. 

The sales I had for Project Hermes, Sleeping Ugly, and Blink of an I were built to use up my KCD before my 90 days ran out. It's a use it or lose it kind of thing.  You get a whole 'nother 7 days when your clock resets, but you can never get back the days you didn't use.  So, I figured, why not use them.

Part of my problem was not keeping good track of when my 90 days were for each of my books.  So, yep, built another spreadsheet.  (It's what I do.) 
As you can see, I've got a line for each of the books (sorted by series), with columns full of dates - when my exclusivity starts, when it ends, and the next one and the next one.  I also mark when I've used my perks by putting a solid box around the date I'm currently in.  So I can plan accordingly. 

The other day, Silver accused me of being organized.  I scoffed.  Traditionally, I have been about the least organized person I could think of.  But, I guess, as I got older and had more time on my hands, I did become organized.  Hence the spreadsheets.  :shrug: 

Being organized has helped a lot with this business part of writing.  (Not so much with the writing part of writing.  That's still an unorganized mess.)   I'm probably still not using all the perks to the best of my abilities - say, getting advertising set up in time for it to be effective - but I'm working on it. 

I hope this helps give you some ideas on how to keep track of this stuff.  Use it if it helps and if it's no use to you, thanks for reading all the way down to here anyway.

Do you use the perks?  Any ideas on how to better utilize them?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Charting Sales, Rankings, Marketing, etc.

This is going to be a boring post.  Unless you're a nerd like me. 

Okay, so I'm doing a sale this week for Accidental Death.  And I thought it would be a good time to try and track the advertising I'm doing along with sales and rankings. 

Yep, I built a spreadsheet.

On one tab, I'm noting when I did a markety thing - date and time, who it was with, and the results as I see them.  On another tab, I'm tracking rankings and how they fluctuate with time and sales.  On the third tab, I'm keeping track of the time of each sale.

This is not scientific.  There's no consistency with when I'm checking sales and rankings, so the times may be off depending on how busy I got doing something else. 

One thing I've learned so far is it takes about 8 hours from the time I get a sale until when it impacts my rankings in the US.  The UK rankings change after about 6-7 hours.  Not nearly quick enough to jump my ranking for boosting sales in the eight hour period, but further sales should help sustain it. 

And it doesn't take long for the rankings to start dropping again if there are no further sales. 

I had one sale Monday morning.  At the time, AD's ranking was around 943,000 in the US.  Eight hours later, the ranking rose to about 159,000.  It dropped throughout the day yesterday with no more sales in the US.  Yesterday, the ranking in the UK was around 920,000.  I got one sale early afternoon here (early evening there) that upped my ranking to 53K.

This morning, the rankings are at around 400K in the US and 81K in the UK. 

Now, I'm not sure how Kindle Unlimited downloads impact rankings and in what timeframe.  I read something the other day that made it seem like it would take 4 days to show up, but I think that might've been for some other bestselling list thing.  I'm unclear.  Fingers crossed I am getting some KU interest that will show up in later days.

Thus far, I have only been doing free advertising - blog, Facebook (groups and pages), and Twitter.  This blog netted me my first sale.  I have no way of knowing which post got me the UK sale, since I had completed three different types of advertising that day before the sale, and five different types the day before. 

Today, a paid ad goes out to the populace.  It's the only advertising I'm doing today, so I can chart it better.  Not sure if the Wednesday before TGD is the best time to put out an ad, but it was all they had open for this week, so I took a chance.  Might be a total waste of $55.  Might be awesome.  Who knows.  Thursday through Sunday I will continue with the free stuff and see what happens.

Poor planning on my part means the sale will end before Cyber Monday.  Derp.

I probably couldn't do this if Accidental Death was selling like hotcakes.  Not at this level anyway. 

Anyway, I hope I haven't bored the hell out of you with my nerdy numbers thing. 

Any questions?

Oh, and have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.  (If you're here in the states.  If not, just have a happy day.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not Giving Up

Okay, so you may have noticed an increased number of book discounts around here lately.  I've had Kindle Countdown Deals for Project Hermes, Sleeping Ugly, and Blink of an I

This is because I'm trying to be more active out there.  I'm trying to encourage readers to buy my books. 

Thus far, it hasn't worked out so well. 

But then again, I haven't paid for much advertising.

Today starts the KCD for Accidental Death.  I did pay for advertising this time.  We'll see how that goes when the ad comes out on Wednesday.  I'd like to at least sell enough books to pay for the ad, but if it only serves to have some of my rankings boost up a little, that'd be great. 

I'm not giving up.  Sometimes, I'd like to.  Not give up writing, but give up with these blasted sales and the marketing and... Well, that's just stupid.  Marketing's part of the biz and I knew that when I took it on. 

I just wish I was better at it.  Or rich enough to hire someone to do it for me. 

So, anyway, if you haven't read Accidental Death yet, now might be a good time to pick up a copy.  And while you're at it, grab Natural Causes, too.  It's only $2.99.  So, you get both Dennis Haggarty books for under $4. 

See?  Not giving up. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Paying it Sideways

Okay, if you follow me over at The Writing Spectacle, you may have read that I do this thing where I find new-to-me, underappreciated authors, buy their books, read them and review them. 

I do it because I like to help authors like me.  I also do it to find new and interesting things to read.  Books the establishment wouldn't give a whit about.  Books readers might not necessarily gravitate to because the author is unknown or the premise is slightly different from what they're used to.  (For example, a book about a guy who creates magic using garbage or a book where the zombie is the hero.) Books people might not want to take a chance on because they are unknowns and they have so few reviews. 

I don't like the phrase 'paying it forward'.  And I don't think it necessarily applies here anyway.  Maybe this is paying it sideways.  I get a book to read, they get a review and maybe it encourages them keep writing books for me to read.

Sometimes I hit on a dud.  Buying books this way can be a crapshoot, whether they're self-pub or trad-pub.  More often than not, though, these are good books that haven't taken off yet.  Occasionally, I'll download a book that meets the criteria, but by the time I read it, it has taken off.  I'm okay with that, too.

Every rare once in a while, the author will contact me after I review.  I've gotten some positive exchanges from them.  And once, after the author contacted me and thanked me, he read the whole SCIU series in KU.  He liked DE and wrote a review.  Yay.  Not what I'm hoping for with this, but hey, I'm not against that, too. 

Now, I don't want you to think every book I download gets a review.  Sometimes, like I said, they're duds.  I don't finish books I don't like and I don't review books I don't finish.  Plus, I don't want to harsh an author that way, especially when it's subjective.  One bad review could tank the author's sales, or worse, tank their ability to keep on facing this business we're in.  Why do that to someone?

Mostly, I snag the books while they're free.  I'm a tightwad, okay?  They offer a free book, I give them a review.  Win-win.  Sometimes I'll buy them, if budget allows.  If they're really good, I'll buy the other books in the series.  (If they have other books.  Sometimes, they're so new they only have the one book, in which case, I hope my review gets them to write more.)

Anyway, it's a thing I do as a writer and as a reader.  I've already read ten of these kinds of books this year.  I try to average about one a month, so I'm on track for this year.   I'll definitely reach 12 for the year. 

I hope you'll join me this coming year.  It really is fun and I like to think it helps all us little, low-list authors.  Paying it sideways, eh?  ;o)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Facebook Groups for Marketing & Finding Books

Okay, so I may have done this before.  I don't remember.  But here's a list of the Facebook Groups I've found and joined that you can use for marketing or just to find interesting books to read:

Amazon Kindle Goodreads - all genres
Indie Authors International - all genres
eBook World** - all genres

Self-Published Crime Fiction Writers - mystery, crime, thriller
Crime,Thriller, Mystery Readers' Café - mystery, crime, thriller
Kindle Unlimited - all genres in the Kindle Unlimited program
Thriller Mystery Suspense Book Club - mystery, crime, thriller
Thrillers Killers & Suspense - mystery, crime, thriller
Kindle/ Book Club - all genres
Mystery & Thriller Publicity Book Club - mystery, crime, thriller
Free Kindle Books - all genres as long as the book is free

* special – see requirements before posting.
** has to be approved before they’ll let the ad post

Read the pinned posts before you join the group to make sure it's a group you really want to be in and then follow their guidelines before you post ads to them.  Most of them don't want you to post more than once a day, which is only right.  Otherwise, it's spammy and no one wants that.  

I've had some minor successes here and there with these groups.  Can't hurt, right?  

Oh, and be prepared for your newsfeed to blow up with book ads and recommendations.  If you're like me, they'll be both annoying and exciting.  I mean, 'gah, so many book posts' and 'hey, previously unheard of books to read!' 

Good luck.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Chugging Along.

I started re-reading what I'd already written in Ugly and the Beast yesterday.  And it's not as bad as I thought.  I do need to have some kind of something or other between chapter 2 and chapter 3.  It sort of just skips from one thing to another.  :shrug:

Anyway, I'm not quite sure what the something is that needs to go there, but I'll figure it out. 

I was afraid the rest was drek, but from what I read, it isn't.  Yay.  Just needs a little somethin' somethin' right there.

I'll have Unequal back on December 1st, so I should probably put these three weeks to good use, eh?

Chugging along.

What's on your plate these days?  Chugging along, too?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Finish the Darn Book

So, this morning, I got the cover mock-up for Ugly and the Beast.  It looks awesome and I approved it. It's super cute.  Jeni doesn't look pissed this time.  And there's a kitty involved.  I am hesitant to show it, though, because the darn book isn't finished yet. 

But the cover definitely encourages me to get off my dead butt and get back to work. 

After I finish editing Unequal, which I really need to do like yesterday.  Today will be a marathon editing day again.  I'm still looking at having this to the editor by the end of the week.  Which is like three days from now.  Which means three marathon days... :panics a little: 

Once I get Unequal off my plate, I can get UatB back on track.  Which, unfortunately, means scrapping most of what I've already written and starting over.  I can do it, but ugh.

Of course, as luck would have it, I also received a packet of work from pay-job that I need to complete ASAP.  Busy busy.  Good thing I don't have any other tasks today.

And there's my life in a nutshell.  Get off my butt and finish editing Unequal, so I can finish writing the darn book and then you can see the cover and then you can read it sometime in the first quarter of next year.

You know, if I don't burn myself into a crispy critter before then.

Monday, November 5, 2018


It's that time again in editing when I'm torn between loving the hell out of this book and wanting to print it all off just so I can send it through the shredder.

"Man, this is awesome."

"Gah, this book is total drek.  Why did I ever think I could write?"

So, what am I doing about it? 

Motoring along.  I know it's not total drek.  I also know it's not totally awesome.  Not yet.  And the only way to get it there is to keep working on these edits.  Once I get them done, it will be closer to awesome.  Then my AWE will mark it up again and send it back so I can get it as close to awesome as I can get it. 

Which, at the rate I'm going, will not be this month.  Sorry about that.  I'm still shooting for 'before the end of the year', though.  I think I can hit that.  Just in time for Christmas?  Give the readers a prezzie. Or something.

Such is the life of a self-pub writer.  On the bright side, it won't be a year from finished to pubbed.

Also on the bright side, amidst the pink spurts of edit suggestions my AWE is leaving loads of "LOVE IT!" notes as well.  So I got that going for me.

And on a happy, ego-stroking note, my one face-to-face fan was super excited to get a copy of Sleeping Ugly and told me she needs to reread Project Hermes again because she loved it so much.  Sometimes I stop in to see her just to get a much-needed boost.  (Under the guise of needing feed for the deer.  "No, no, Hubs, it's no trouble to pick up feed today.  Happy to do it.")

Anyway, the torn part will pass.  It happens every book.  As Unequal gets closer to publication-ready, my mood will shift and I'll stop wanting to trash the whole thing.  So, I'll keep moving forward.

Friday, November 2, 2018


So, I finally got off my dead ass and created some new marketing materials.  (Considering my last materials were missing three books, it was about time, doncha think?) 

Since twelve books don't quite fit on a bookmark - unless the graphics are really small - I went with postcards this time. 

Simple stuff, really.  Well, creating the graphics is kind of a pain in the buns, but I'm used to it.  Ordering them is easy once you have the graphics in place. 

I use Overnight Prints.  I used to use Vistaprint, but after a particularly irritating glitch there, I tried OP and found their postcards to be of a better quality stock.  I get 25 4x6" postcards for $18.80 out the door.  With about a two week turnaround.  (If I want them quicker, I pay extra for shipping, but I hate having to do that.) 

OP also can do bookmarks.  Which is awesome.

They aren't perfect.  The last postcard order I placed, I ordered 50 and they sent me 500.  Lucky for me, it was the Once Upon a Djinn series postcard, which isn't going to change, because it'll take me eons to pass out 500 postcards.  Also lucky is that they didn't try to charge me for their gaff.

But if you're going to screw up, better to screw up to the benefit of the customer, eh?

Anyway, these should be here on or around the12th, I think.  If I already have your snail mail address, expect to get one.  If I don't and you want one, shoot me an email with your addy and I'll pop one out to you. 

If you're interested in doing these yourself, I can probably help you with that.  Depends on the amount of work involved and whether we're close.  If we're close, I'll be happy to help.  If we're not, maybe we can work out a payment arrangement thing.  While I can usually make time for my friends and loved ones, I can't afford to work for free for people I don't know, ya know?