Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Keeping Your Balls in the Air

I hear you giggling.  Knock it off, ya pervs*.

What I'm talking about is juggling all my books you have so they all stay in the air and none of them falls to the ground.  Forgotten.  Wasted.  At the ass end of the Amazon rankings.

I'm not good at this.  So don't think this post will be the key to your salvation.  It ain't.  There's no salvation here.  While I'm over here trying to keep my more popular series titles in the public eye, the other lesser known and underappreciated books are rolling away.  And even when I'm busy working on the more popular series, it's usually the first book getting attention while the sequels are wobbling. 

So, here I am with 13 books out there for people to buy and read.  Trying to keep any number of them in the air at the same time.  Yeah, we all know how that goes.  Poor Unequal is sitting in the 2-mil range on Amazon rankings.  I don't even want to know where Project Hermes and Blink of an I are at.  So sad and lonely.  :sniffle:

Anyway, there's not much I can do for them but try and get some kind of buzz created here and there.  To that end, I'll be trying some things throughout the year.  Like the freebie thing I did for UEQ last week.  It fizzled, but I tried. 

Speaking of trying, Natural Causes will be on sale starting next Wednesday and going through to the night of the 9th.  99c.  I'm not doing any ads this time because I had to shift money out of my advertising budget to cover expenses elsewhere, but I will be drumming up buzz on FB and Twitter.  Fingers crossed some of the hundreds of people who bought Accidental Death go 'hey, another one! And it's on sale!' and buy NC, too.  We'll see.

To that end, I tweaked the cover of NC.  Got rid of the gravesite and sharpened up the graphics a bit.  You'd have to see the old one side by side with the new one to really notice, I think. 

I'm also looking ahead and have set up a sale of the SCIU books again.  That'll be April 3rd through the 10th.  I hope to have advertising for that one.  Gotta squeeze loose some scratch for that.  Should be doable.

So, I've got those balls in the air.  And I'm still trying to throw ball #14 into the mix.  (Ugly and the Beast will be book #14, if I ever get off my ass.)  :cue carnival music:

And that's not counting the pay-job balls or the home balls or the... There's a lot of balls flying around my atmosphere.

What balls do you have in the air?  Are you managing to juggle them all or are you like me? 

*Who's the real perv?  The one who thought it, or the one who thought you thought it when you didn't and thus put the idea in your head?  ;o)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Plagiarism Rears Its Ugly Head Again

I suppose by now most of you have heard about the plagiarism thing that hit the romance community last week.  I first got an inkling with the RWA said something about some plagiarism claims against one of their RITA finalists - although I'm not 100% positive it's the same dust-up there.  Then a day or two later, the shit hit the fan and I started hearing about how some Brazilian chick had stolen large chunks of writing from a whole bunch of authors to create her books. 

The BC claims she didn't do it - her ghost writer did it.  Well, ain't that too damn bad, because she's still on the hotseat for it, whether she did it herself or someone else did it under her name. 

And now there's a BIG thing about ghostwritten books and how these books are being dumped on Amazon.  Which, of course, leads to a call for Amazon to fix it.  Which will, of course, lead to Amazon fixing some of the wrong things again.  Like what happened when they tried to clean up reviews and now I can't review books my friends wrote because they think somehow my honest opinions are lies.  As if I'm getting something out of it besides having read an awesome book written by someone awesome who I can also call my friend.  And now a bunch of people don't review at Amazon anymore.  (Although I'm still seeing ads for people offering to review books for a small fee, so not sure how the Big A stopped anything hinky.)

My fear is that there'll be a witch hunt and honest authors will get caught in the crossfire.  Not too worried about it myself, because I have a paper trail on each of my books a mile long - every draft, editor notes and letters, blog posts kvetching about the process, etc. 

I've seen authors on FB posting about how they write their own f'ing books.  Seems a little harsh to me, but hey, whatever.  I write my own books.  I couldn't envision a time when my control-freakness would allow me to let go enough to have anyone ghostwrite anything for me.  I do know one ghostwriter and she's totally legit, but right now her work is probably getting lumped in with the bad ghostwriters out there.  Which totally sucks.

Anyway, we all know plagiarism is wrong.  It's stealing - whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it for you.  And in some ways it's worse than just plain ol' stealing.  They're taking something incredibly personal - words sucked out of an author's brain, cried over and worried over until a whole story comes alive - and slapping it together into something heinous. 

I'm not sure what I'd do if I discovered someone had plagiarized my work.  I mean, other than be seriously pissed off.  I'm no one.  Not like Nora Roberts who has threatened to rain hell down upon the BC and any others who would even think about stealing her work.  (Go, Nora!)  I'm not sure what any of us indies could do with our limited resources.  Let's hope we never have to find out.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Thinking of Series Titles

I am not good with series titles.  I mean, SCIU kind of lent itself a title, as did the Dennis Haggarty Mysteries, but let's face it Once Upon a Djinn is kind of lame.

So, here I am working on the sequel to Sleeping Ugly and it occurred to me that I have no series title.  I had thought 'Pretty Damned Ugly' would be a cool series title, but now I'm all like meh.  Jeni's pretty and she's ugly, but she's not damned.

The 'Pretty Ugly Series'?  Might work, but it's just not blowing my skirt up.

'Ugly Tales'?  You know, since the titles riff off classic fairytale titles?

'Pretty Ugly Tales'...

Ugh, it all sounds lame to me.  But we're our worst critics, aren't we?

'The Magical Mystery Tour' just occurred to me, but it's too Beatle-y.  And, frankly, I hate the Beatles.  (Okay, Ringo was cool.  And George was okay.  Can't stand Paul or John.  Or their music as a group.)  But these are 'magical mysteries' of a sort.


If I can't think of anything better by the time Ugly and the Beast gets close enough to start marketing efforts, I'm going with 'Pretty Ugly Tales'.  :shrug:

Any thoughts?  Suggestions?  How are you with series titles?  Do they make any difference when you're buying books?

And before I totally forget, Unequal is free today.  If you haven't already grabbed a copy, this would be the time to do it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Chili and Writing Books

It's chili day here on the Sanderson Ranch.  Now, you may be asking yourself what chili has to do with writing.  Well, I'll tell ya...

I make chili like I write books. 

I have no recipe for making chili.  Oh, I could tell you the basic ingredients, ballpark the time involved, etc. but when you were done, your chili would not be the same as my chili.  I do it all by taste.  And when I'm done I have a bowl of awesomeness. 

I always put saltine crackers in my individual serving, sometimes I sprinkle it with corn chips or shredded cheese.  Hubs does Parmesan sometimes, which is just wrong, but once it's in his bowl, it's his chili, so more power to him.  He's like the reader there.  Once the book is out of my hands, it's up to the end user to interpret it as it applies to them.


The point is that each batch of chili is unique.  As is each book.

When I start a story, I have in my mind what the end result will be - a book.  And that's about it.  I never know ahead of time how the story will go.  A little of this, a little of that.  Fingers crossed it turns out tasty. 

And they're written to my tastes.  Savory and flavorful.  Not much spice, but ultimately satisfying. 

I can only hope readers with the same tastes will find my books and enjoy them, too.  ;o)

How do you like your chili?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Done Hiding

As you know, I've been working again and I wouldn't say what I was working on in case I jinxed the mojo or some such thing.  Well, I'm done hiding.  Time for me to step out of the closet and get over my precious self.  It's not like telling all of you will jinx anything.  I'm the only one who can jinx my work and to think otherwise hearkens back to the days when I was super superstitious.  Thought I was over that... huh.

Okay, so it's probably not going to be a big surprise or anything.  No big shocker here.  I got the ball rolling with the bunny story and then jumped back into Ugly and the Beast.  I'm currently sitting at 42600 words.

It was going really good until the cold hit and I expect it'll go really good from here on out.  I know where I'm going and what I'm doing.  And I'm not really all that far from the end.  Think like 52K or something.  (Sleeping Ugly was a short first draft, too.)

And since I outed myself there, I thought I'd also out myself on the cover I've been sitting on since November.  Here it is:
That's Oliver.  You haven't met him yet.  He makes his debut in UatB.  I've got Jessica (my cover artist) working on the cover for Cinder Ugly right now.  Just Jeni, no Oliver.  And Jeni definitely looks tougher on the third cover.  SU she was pissed about the curse.  UatB she's disgusted and a little resigned over it.  CU she'll be lookin' to take her life back. 

So, there it is.  I'm back to work on what I'm supposed to be working on.  Should have the first draft done by the end of the month, then edits next month.  I'm hoping to have this in my editor's hands by the end of March.  So June for publication?  Maybe?  I have to check with the AWE and see what her schedule looks like.

Here's to getting back on track.  Let's hope it stays this way for the rest of the year, eh?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Excuses and Time to Write

I just read Elizabeth Spann Craig's post 'Writing on the Tough Days' and now I feel guilty.  I haven't written anything in the past week.  Yeah, sure, I know... I have a good excuse.  But good or not, it's still an excuse. 

She's absolutely correct.  There is always time to write, if you make time.  Whittle it out somewhere.  But if you wait for 'the perfect time', you'll find yourself writing less and less.  Those perfect times can be so fleeting.  And there will always be excuses for why this isn't the perfect time. 

Funny thing is back when I had less time to write, I was better at finding time.  Now, I have scads of time to write and I find excuses not to.  It's a sad, strange little conundrum. 

And if I had taken those moments to write when I really had nothing else going on, then I wouldn't feel so bad taking the week off because of this damn cold.  Right when I was on a roll, too.  Blerg.

This week, though, every time I try to think about writing, it's like 'Og make words.  Smush together make sentences. Ugg.'

All the time I've wasted prior to this brain fog sits heavily.  I'll try to do better in the future.  Use the time you have, folks, because you can't get that wasted time back.

Today?  I'm 95% better.  Unfortunately, part of that 5% that's still out there is my brain.  We'll see what tonight brings.

Go, read Elizabeth's post.  She said it better than I could've.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Old Stories

The first story I remember writing was for eighth grade English class.  It was, of course, a mystery.  I don't remember much of it.  Except I can remember the cover art I drew.  The story was something about a bunch of people in a house and there's a murder and the corpse has bloody fingernails.  The murderer is caught when the scarf is pulled from her neck, revealing scratch marks.  Tada.

I think I still have it in a box somewhere.  If not, it got lost to time and the many moves I've made over the years. 

After that, sometime in high school, I worked on a collaboration with my best friend at the time, Maria.  She had already started writing this fantasy / scifi crossover novel.  Probably late one sleepover, we started working on it together.  Then I took it over.  I still have all of it.  In a box in the storage closet.  One of these days, I need to find a way to get it copied and sent to her, if I could find her.  I know if it was me, I'd want it just for the nostalgia. 

I still have several of the papers I wrote for my two college English courses.  Ugh, they're bad.  I trotted them out years ago to show to the Kid.  Sort of a 'hey, look how you can get better at writing' thing, I guess.

My computer is filled with stories I've begun and never finished, and finished but never published.  Some of them are still viable, some aren't.  The romances I began when I still wanted to write romance.  The little attempts at things.  The epic SF that was to be told in three parts.  (Got about a third of the way through Part One and set it aside.)

New stuff is always popping into my head, waiting to be written, but the old stories are still there.  They always will be.

What about you?  What was your first story?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Wrap-up of Last Week's Marketing.

Time for another marketing post.  I hope you find these helpful.

Last week, I held Kindle Countdown Deals for all 4 of the Once Upon a Djinn series books.  I had one paid ad, 2 newsletter mentions, and numerous FB Group posts.  Prior to the ad going live on Tuesday, I had one sale for Wish in One Hand, which did what it needed to do - bump the rankings.

The sale started Sunday, and I started marketing to FB Groups then.  I used the image from my OUAD postcards. 
No sales that day.

More FB Group marketing on Monday just using the image that comes with the series link and one sale.

Monday, I paid for a FB Boost of the same ad with the series link and no other image.  $10 for 1 day.  Approximately 240 people saw it and 25 of them engaged with hit.  No sales directly relatable to it, though.  This post got some likes from people I've never heard of, but none of them Liked the OUAD Page.

Tuesday was the day of the ad. The image there was a compilation Bargain Booksy had created, with Wish in One Hand on the bottom row, second from the left.  I sold 25 books directly relatable to the ad.  Mostly WIOH, but I did see a few sales of the other three books, too.  I did no FB group marketing that day.

Wednesday, I started back to FB marketing again.  I chopped the postcard image down a bit for this day. 
By this time, the rankings for all four books had reached their zenith.  WIOH made it to 16802 in All Books, and 1178 in Paranormal & Urban Fantasy.  I saw three sales that day.

Thursday, I kept at the FB Group Marketing.  I created a new image for this day's marketing:
I sold 13 books that day.  (See Friday's post about Thursday sales.)

Since on Thursday, I had posted to FB Groups throughout the day, I didn't do too much advertising on Friday (to keep from overreaching on the 1 post a day thing and to make sure I had the availability to post everywhere on Saturday morning.)  I did create a new image and posted it to a couple of groups.
4 sales on Friday - one of each book.  By Friday night, I'd generated enough money to cover the cost of the Bargain Booksy ad.

I used the above image in all of my Saturday advertising, with the exception of the groups I'd posted to on Friday and my own FB Pages.  For those, I went with:
Just to mix it up a little.  I mean, the followers of all of those Groups had been seeing my posts for a week and I don't want to be a bore.  Ya know?

I got one sale on Saturday - after I went to bed.  

The Page Reads starting coming in on the fifth.  So far, those are only for WIOH, but I expect some of the readers who finish WIOH will go on to read the other 3 books.  Because that's what historically happens.  In fact, it happened after the Sleeping Ugly sale last month - someone read SU and then one by one, went through the genie books.  Yay.

So, that's that.   Any questions?  Which image do you like best?  Personally, I like the last one.  It's tie-dyed.  Groovy, man.

Friday, February 8, 2019

What is It About Thursdays?

I don't know what it is, but there seems to be something about Thursdays that make them prime marketing days.  Now, this is only my experience and the evidence is pretty much anecdotal, but bear with me.

Point One:  When I went to sign up for a marketing spot, all of the Thursdays for a month were already booked solid.

Point Two:  The last advertising campaign I did was on a Thursday.  This one was on a Tuesday.  I sold almost twice as many books then as I did now.

Point Three:  I've been marketing in the FB Groups all week.  Best day this week?  Thursday.

Not sure what the dealie-bob is.  I mean, Tuesday has been trad-pub's usual release day, but other than that, I haven't heard anything about any other day being anything special.  Maybe I'm just not in the know. 

Speaking of Tuesdays, I was cautioned early on in this self-pub thing against releasing books on a Tuesday.  Something about not wanting to compete with the trad-pub releases.  :shrug:  I don't think I've ever released on a Tuesday, but I generally release books when they're ready to go.  Fly and be free and all that.

It seems to me that marketing efforts on Friday nights don't do very well.  I tried that last time and crickets.  Although, I have released on a Friday and that day seems as good as any other.  Then again, release days are not big selling days for me.  Go figger.

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure what it is about Thursdays.  All I know is that if that's the day to sell more books, I'll be scheduling my marketing heavily around that day of the week.

Any ideas?  Do you buy more books on a Thursday?  Could that be a day when people are more inclined to look at advertising?  Could it be people looking ahead to what they're going to read over the weekend?  Could it be that Thursday are right before payday, so people are looking for deals? 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Something Else

Evil Space Bunnies has been set aside.  I'm working on something else now.

I don't want to talk about it.

I think I'm afraid talking about it will make the magic disappear.  And lord knows, I've been without magic for a while now.

There's a good chance I'll actually finish this.  There's a good chance I'll publish this.  Which means, right now, I'm being extra careful I don't ruin it.

Hubs doesn't even know what I'm working on.  I'm pretty sure when he sees me sit down and start typing, he thinks I'm still working on the bunnies. 

The bunnies were cool.  And they did what they needed to do.  They got me writing again.  That's the most important part. 

But right now, I feel as if I'm walking on rice paper, trying not to make it rip beneath my feet.  (If you existed in the '70s, you might remember the reference.)  One wrong move and it'll all be ruined.

I know that's not true.  It certainly isn't rational.  But that's how I'm feeling right now. 

So when you see me talking about making progress, just know that it's something else.  Maybe when I get it finished, I'll talk about it. 

Staying quiet also means I won't fall on my face publicly if this all goes horribly wrong.  But let's not even think about that right now.  Don't want to jinx it.

Meanwhile, I'm working the OUAD sale as hard as I can without being a totally annoying twerp.  The ad went live yesterday, and while the whole book sales weren't quite as high as I'd hoped, there are page reads to come.  I also did a FB post boost which flopped on its face, but I pretty much expected that.  I was just trying to get it in people's faces for a day.  About 250 people saw it, which are about 240 more people than would've seen it otherwise.  Four more sale days to go.

Peace out.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Once Upon a Djinn Sale

Hey, Folks.

All this week, the Once Upon a Djinn books are on sale.  You can get all four books for under $7.  Or if you've already read some, or don't want to foot the bill for the whole series, here's how they break down (in series order):

Wish in One Hand - 99c
In Deep Wish - $1.99
Up Wish Creek - $1.99
Wish Hits the Fan - $1.99

That's more than half off the regular ebook list prices.  We won't go into how much less that is than the print versions.  Hooee.

Anyway, they're a boatload of fun to read if the reviews are anything to go by.  I know I enjoyed writing them.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Getting Into Writing Shape

Writing, like any other strenuous exercise, requires you to keep at it constantly.  Otherwise, your muscles atrophy and then when you try to get back at it, you find yourself tired and sore after what used to be a regular workout.  And then, when faced with the pain that comes after a hard workout, you generally don't want to do it again any time soon.

Now, I'm not just talking about the pain of unused hand muscles* - although that can be a trial in itself.  I'm talking about losing the stamina required to sit at your desk, thinking up words and sentences and paragraphs in a logical order.  That stuff can tire you right the hell out, if you aren't used to it.

When I'm in top form, I can easily whip out a couple thousand words at a sitting.  Now?  I'm doing a couple thousands words, but about every other day.  I'm totally out of shape for this.  So, I need to work the muscle until it's back in shape.

Which is something I should've been doing all along, but you know how it goes.  I spent so much time on editing last year that I let my writing cells get all atrophied and junk.  Derp.

What I really need to do is set up a work out schedule.  Write for an hour every day until I can increase the number of sessions per day and the length of those sessions.  And yes, dozens of authors say write every day, but I'm a mule and usually only go in a direction I want, not one I'm being pulled in.  Also derp.

Of course, the cure for all of this is to never let yourself get in this position.  But shit happens.  Life intrudes, other publishing things pull your attention away, the cat gets sick, the yard needs work, the... Well, you get the gist.

How are your writing muscles?  Are they in shape?

*I don't know about you, but the morning after a lengthy writing session finds me with sausage fingers that don't bend well let alone type.  All I can say is 'Aleve and Aspercreme'.