Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July Sales Wrap-up

Well, I said I'd give you a breakdown of the month, so here it is.

This past month, I held 5 sales, starting on the 4th and ending on the 29th.

Sale #1 - Project Hermes.  No advertising other than FB Group posts.  Sold 3 books.  No page reads.
Sale #2 - Blink of an I.  No advertising other than FB Group posts.  No sales.  No page reads.
Sale #3 - Sleeping Ugly.  No advertising other than FB Group posts.  Sold 2 books.  No page reads.
Sale #4 & #5 - Accidental Death and Natural Causes.  Paid $55 for an ad for AD, and did all the FB Group posts.  To date, AD sold 39 books, had 2.45 books worth of page reads, and had one return.  NC sold 17 books and very few page reads so far.  The ad has not paid for itself yet, but we'll see if the page reads keep coming in.

It was a long and tiring marketing month, but I don't regret doing it.  If I hadn't done it, I'm sure I wouldn't have sold nearly as much.  Like way not as much.  The ad is only $11 short of paying for itself, and that's not as bad as it could've been.

Now, these ads usually pay for themselves with my sitting around praying for page reads.  I think what happened here is that there were only two books in the series.  When I did the same ad for the SCIU books - a three book series - the ad paid for itself.  When I did the same ad for the OUAD books - a four book series - the ad more than paid for itself.  (Noting, of course, that I only advertised the first book in each series.)

Of course, all these sales and discounts have dropped my per-book average to 96c.  But that was to be expected.  I wish I could sell more books at regular prices, but you know what they say... If wishes were fishes, we'd all eat like kings.

Next month, I hope to do something with Wish in One Hand.  Not sure what or when.  And the longer I take to decide, the fewer my options are for advertising.  One place is already booking ads for September because August is sold out.  Umm, yeah, missed that opportunity again.  I might do a whole 4th anniversary of WIOH thing.  I'm playing with the idea of making it free again.  I just hate paying for advertising on free books.  Bleh.

Anyway, that's the wrap-up for my July sales spectacular.  Any questions?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Nothing New Under the Sun

Once upon a time, I took a theater class.  My professor said something I haven't forgotten.  There's nothing new under the sun.  Yeah, not exactly ground breaking, but it stuck with me.  He also said there are a limited number of plots out there and each writer has to adapt their story around one of them.  

Years ago, I had two writer friends.  One of them shared an idea with me that I thought was pretty cool.  It was in its infancy and she had a lot of other irons in the fire, so it wasn't on her front burners.  Meanwhile, the other published a book with a really similar premise.  Time passed and the first friend edited her book and got it published.  And there was a shitstorm.  The fan base of Writer #2 accused Writer #1 of stealing the idea.  They didn't even know each other and I can state with absolute certainty no one was stealing anything.  (As if one can 'steal' ideas anyway.)  Writer #1 had the idea before Writer #2's book was even published.  But the shitstorm was of such a virulent strain that Writer #1 unpublished her book.

Which was too bad because her delivery of the concept was way better than Writer #2's.  Sorry.  Just being honest there.  :shrug:  And since then, I have picked up at least two other books with eerily similar premises.  It might've been a new take on an old premise in 2000s, but it sure ain't new now.

Recently, I picked up a book to read.  I thought it was a straight cozy mystery, but it turned out to be  a paranormal mystery.  And I stopped dead in my tracks when I got to the part that was too similar to Ugly and the Beast (i.e. when the talking cat came on scene).  UatB is already written, so no worries about 'stealing ideas', but even the perception of it scares me.  I don't need a shitstorm visiting me.  Not that it isn't still possible some readers of that book will accuse me of 'stealing ideas' from her.  Not a damn thing I can do about that should it happen.  I know I won't be crawling into a hole if it does.  I can prove I didn't steal a damn thing.  (Then again, Writer #1 had proof, too.  She simply opted not to fight.)

In the past month, I've seen two different 'similar to Harry Potter' series hit the stores.  I read the first book in another one last year.

There's nothing new under the sun, folks.

But don't despair.  So what if you have an idea and it's kind of like another book?  Are you making it different?  Of course you are, because each of us brings our own experiences to the books we write.  Unless you're copying the book word for word, it's not stealing.  (Okay, if you copy it and only change a few things - like names and stuff - it's probably still stealing.)  If you learn about it before your book is published and you can make reasonable changes, do so if it makes you feel better.  Sorry - the talking cat is staying.  It doesn't make sense if Oliver is any other animal.  And I already paid for the cover with a cat on it.  I don't want to pay extra to have the cat removed, thank you very much.

What I do need to do is make sure Oliver's voice is unique to him.  A little extra editing should fix that.  (It was already in my notes to fix that, so no biggie.)

With all the books being written today, odds are you're going to be writing something that is similar to someone else's ideas.  Not much any of us can do about that.  How many different stories can be directly tied to something Shakespeare wrote - even if you discount the stories that actually SAY they're based on Romeo and Juliet or The Taming of the Shrew?

Do the best you can to make your stories unique to you.  And weather the storm as best you can.

Oh, and as a side note, the other day I saw a book being marketed that's premise is an awful lot like Writer #1's popular multi-book series.  Shit happens.  I just hope Writer #1's fan base isn't as vicious about it as Writer #2's was.

(To maintain the authors' anonymity, I've tried to make this as vague as possible in relation to them.) 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Well, Ain't That the Shits

I can't even...  Just read this...

Upcoming Facebook Changes

We've already seen some of the crap they're pulling - limiting our reach, limiting what we see even after we've specifically asked to see it, etc.  This is just more of the same only worse.  If this keeps up, I predict a mass exodus.  But where to?

So, I'm testing out alternatives.  You can find me elsewhere here:

MeWe  - like FB but without the reach that FB has yet.
Pinterest - an image thing, but with the opportunity for text
Parler  - like Twitter but mostly personal/political from what I've seen so far.  No much room for marketing I think.
Instagram - like Pinterest, except I don't have any 'compatible devices', so I never post.

Yeah, I still have Facebook (personal and business).  And Twitter (although I almost never tweet - my FB page tweets when I post there).

Gotta try something, though, especially if FB is going to make posts with links (especially to places like Amazon) disappear in the feeds.  If I can't use FB to sell stuff, what exactly is the point?  I mean, I spent a lot of time developing my FB marketing strategy here.  Rebuilding it somewhere else is going to be a huge timesuck and a royal pain in the ass.

But, hey, we've all gotta do what we've gotta do.  Time will tell whether this works or whether I am well and truly screwed.

As always, you can find me here on this blog thing that has become passe apparently.  :shrug:  I'll keep blogging 'til they make me stop.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July Sale #4 - A Dennis Haggarty Mystery Series

Here we are nearing the end of the month.  Like I said at the beginning, July was my month for sales.  Well, to have things on sale anyway.  To that end, from now through the night of the 29th, my series 'A Dennis Haggarty Mystery' is on sale.  All both of them.  (Yes, I have plans for more.  No, I don't know when book three will actually happen.)

Now's the time to buy Accidental Death and Natural Causes for only 99c/99p each.  Or, if you've already read AD, now's the time to pick up NC. 

This is a true series with Dennis Haggarty as the main character.  They're both 'Big City Cop meets Small Town Murder'.  Except in NC, the Big City Cop is now the police chief of a small mountain town.  Dennis still has to deal with things he's not used to - small town cliques and small town minds.  He's still not used to any of it.  Poor guy.

I won't tell you much more about NC, in case you haven't read AD yet.

As for AD, it came about after living in a small town in CO and being a watcher to the things that went on there.  It's also based on growing up on the outskirts of a small town in Michigan, and watching all the things that happened then.  Add those experiences to my suspicious mind and my overactive imagination, and you get murder that might not necessarily look like murder.  Especially harrowing when you're up against people who don't want it to be anything so vile as homicide.  Fortunately, Dennis knows better and he's not the kind of man to back down when he's out for justice.

The third book is just an idea in my head.  I picture Dennis going off to a regional police chief's conference, discovering a body or two, and then running afoul of all the small town police chiefs who don't want it to be murder.  Or something.  Dennis can't catch a break. 

It's just a zygote right now, so don't hold your breath waiting for it.

Meanwhile, these two can be read without having to wait on the third book.  No cliffhangers.  They're both fully-encapsulated stories within themselves.  But you might want to read them in order.  NC has some stuff about things that happened in AD that might be confusing if you haven't read AD yet. 

I hope you give them a try and enjoy them. 

Oh, and they totally aren't 'cozy', so don't be surprised.  Thanks!

Monday, July 22, 2019

I Joined Pinterest... Lord Help Me.

Okay, so I took the leap Saturday and joined Pinterest.  I'm here if you want to check it out.  I spent a chunk of time over the weekend uploading book covers and images, linking them to Amazon, and categorizing things.  I also have a board of 'writerly quotes' and one of 'books I've enjoyed'. 

I'd heard somewhere around the webz that this can potentially help me sell books.  It's worth a try.   Can't hurt things. right?

It is a tremendous timesuck.  I hope it'll all be worth it down the road eventually.

I'm trying to follow authors I know or love, so if you have Pinterest page, mention it in the comments. (No links, please.  I'll find you.)

I'll be pinning things that strike me as interesting or pertinent as time goes by.  This might also include recipes and pictures of cute animals.   I also have plans to make my own images and throw them in there.  Maybe once a week.  We'll see.

I'm also looking into something called Parler as an alternative to Twitter.  Or in conjunction with Twitter.  Or something.  We'll see.  I'll let you know.

Any place I can market, I need to market.  Right?  But first, I need followers.  Otherwise, I'm marketing to myself.  And I've already bought all my books.  ;o)

Anyway, if you're there, see ya there.  If not, I'll still be here.  And on FB.  And Twitter (sometimes).

What social media sites do you use?  Anything else I should be giving a whirl?  (Not Instagram.  They won't let me upload anything from my desktop and I don't own a smartphone.)

Friday, July 19, 2019


First off, I dragged my gumption away from the extended vacation it has been on for the majority of the year.  :cue fans cheering loudly:  "Hip, hip, hurr... meh.  'Bout time, lady."

Right now, I'm in the middle of accomplishing the edits I wrote down back in March.  I've gone through all the notes and done the easier ones.  Yesterday, I went back through the notes and typed up the bigger, deeper edits this book requires.  It's about a page and a half of typed notes.

I started tackling them last night. 

Little things that take more effort are on there.  Like verifying what floor Jeni's apartment is on.  (The eighth, btw.)  And verifying Jeni's mom's name is the same throughout - apparently I couldn't decide on Marjorie or Maude, so there were instances of both.  (It's Maude.)  At one point, I mentioned that there was a storm brewing, but I never actually made it rain.  That's a 'fix or delete' situation.  I fixed that.  I think.  Might need to go back and layer in some more rainy stuff.

Some of the things I have to verify are already written down in my 'series bible'.  (That's the file you keep so that certain things stay the same throughout - like names, hair colors, etc.)  Some of it, I never put in there, so I have to go back through Sleeping Ugly, trying to find the information.  (The ages of Josh's kids, for instance.)

Once again, I'm checking the easier stuff off and making a big O around stuff I need to go back over again - the bigger stuff and the more tedious stuff (like 'find and replace THAT').  When I go through the list of easier stuff, I'll go back and hit the harder stuff again. 

And when all of that is done, I'll set it aside for a bit.  I'll write Cinder Ugly.  Then I'll go back and re-read through UatB and make another round of notes, this time making sure that what I wrote in all three books is constant. 

This isn't a quick process, but it gets the job done.  Maybe once I get all this done, I'll be ready to send this off to my AWE (Awesome Wonderful Editor) and start the process for CU.  Again, I hope to be able to release these things before the end of the year, but I ain't promisin' anything.  All I have right now is hopes and gumption.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July Sale #3 - Sleeping Ugly

Yesterday, the sale for Blink of an I ended and the new sale began.  Right now, I've got Sleeping Ugly on sale for 99c in the US and 99p in the UK

The journey for Sleeping Ugly began years ago.  I was looking for something new to write in urban fantasy and something my older brother once said came to mind.  When I was a teenager, he was home on leave from the Air Force and just after I'd staggered out of bed, he said, "You're not Sleeping Beauty.  You're Sleepin' Ugly."

Needless to say, I'm sure I shot him the stink eye.  He was joking around, and I was probably totally not in the mood for it.  Even if he was probably right at the time.  Ugh, bed head.  Anyway, years later, the phrase popped into my head and along with it, the basic premise for the book - a supermodel is cursed and turns ugly while she sleeps. 

She's got a brother.  He's totally not modeled on my brother at all.  Well, maybe a little of him hearkens back to my feeling for my brother on that long ago morning when, sans coffee because I was only like 16, I tumbled out into the living room and heard his words.  I actually like and appreciate my brother and he never did to me what Josh did to Jeni.  Plus, my bro is totally not evil.  He's a hard-working dude with two awesome sons.

Right now, I'm working on cleaning up the sequel to Sleeping Ugly - Ugly and the Beast. I got through the surface edits yesterday.  And I made a start on the third and final book, Cinder Ugly, last night.

Anyway, together for the first time ever, here's what the three of them will look like when the other two are published.  (Hoping to have UatB and CU done and released one after the other before the end of the year, but you know how things go.)
Warning: These are not safe for kids or for people with tender sensibilities.  Jeni swears.  A lot. But she's a good gal.  And the story is loads of fun.

I hope you'll give it a try and hang in there with me as I work to get the other two finished and published.  Thanks!

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's All on Me and Me Alone

Over the weekend, I was watching an old episode of Extreme Weight Loss.  There was this guy who was really struggling with his food addiction.  So much so that he is the only contestant in the history of the show to not make it to the final weigh-in.  At 9 months, he'd gained back 60 pounds and the trainer dude gave up.  Unable to provide any further support in this guy's weight loss journey, the trainer recommended the guy check himself into rehab. Which he did.  After the show was over, I went online to see if there were any updates on this guy, but no. 

One of the things that struck me was the idea that no one could help this guy but himself.  And he wasn't in a place where he understood that basic fact.  He wanted everyone else to help him.  And then while they were trying to help him, he did everything he could to undercut what they were doing.  It was a mess. 

And I started thinking.  In fact, the above idea kept echoing in my head - no one can help you but yourself.  You can have all sorts of support around you, but none of it will work if you aren't willing to help yourself.  You can have no support whatsoever, though, and still accomplish your goals if you are willing to help yourself.

So, last night, I set about helping myself.  I sat my ass down and started working again.  Got through a page and half of edits. 

Then, I went for a hard-target walk.

Tonight will be more of the same.  Well, edits anyway.  I might take today off walking and do something else active - like cleaning or yardwork.

Because writing and getting more active are on me and me alone.

Sure, it's easier to sit and read or watch TV.  When I'm sitting around, I have no urge to tear my hair out over a phrase I can't seem to get right.  There's no burning muscles.  There's just peace and comfort.  Well, that's ain't getting the job done.  Life wasn't meant to be easy.  Easy is for when the job is done. 

Is this newfound gumption going to stick around?  Time will tell.  But I can tell you one thing, I'm going to try and keep at this every day for as long as it takes. 

Friday, July 12, 2019


July is sales month here.  One sale down, in the middle of another, with three more in the chute.  Not sure about the wisdom of that because I'm already tired of marketing and it's only the 12th.  The upside is that I've sold 5 books this month I wouldn't have sold if I wasn't out there humping.  But it's so tedious.  Ugh.

I really need to get back to writing.  The creativity is all jammed up inside my head with no outlet.  So it's been leaking out in conversation.  Hubs is understanding, of course, but I'm sure he's got to be thinking 'what the hell is up with her?'  Other people just look at me like I'm nuts. 

I still have that idea written on a napkin in the living room.  I really need to bring it in here and type it into my ideas file before I accidentally use the napkin to wipe my fingers or something.  It's already out of my head, so I'd better do something with its hardcopy form.  Blerg.

The other day, I read a blog post detailing a particular author's pet peeves about things they've read.  I confess to at least one of the things.  I won't tell you which.  I also have no urge to change what I'm doing.  One person's pet peeve is not enough of a poke in the butt. Which reminds me of a saying I read the other day "Never pay attention to the opinions of people you wouldn't ask for advice."  Or something like that.  You get the gist. 

I can't believe it's almost halfway through July and I haven't published anything this year.  And the coming months ain't lookin' too good neither.  Ugly and the Beast might still be published this year, but I can't promise anything at this point.  Cinder Ugly might still be written this year, but... :shrug:  As I said in a comment on someone else's blog, this is the Year of the Procrastinator.

I had an idea for a really good post for today.  As you can see, the idea ran away before I could wrestle it down.  Another key factor in why I am not writing, I guess.  The ideas are running around like mice and I'm a cat.  And not a very good one, at that.  If the analogy were true, I'd be one starving kitty.

Well, thanks for stopping by and hanging in with me all the way to the bottom of the rambling post.  Feel free to ramble along in the comments.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July Sale #2 - Blink of an I

As the sale for Project Hermes wraps up, another sale begins.  This time, the sale is for Blink of an I.
If you're not familiar with Blink, it's a distant future, post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel.  Long after wars have ravaged the nation, the world has narrowed down to one tightly-controlled city - at least for Mary Jones.  But then she's asked to leave the only home she's ever known and pass beyond the city's boundaries to find out if there's anyone else out there.  Maybe they can help.  Maybe they can't.  Maybe it's up to Mary to learn the truth - the only person who can help you is yourself.  And to face the fact that sometimes you can only help people who want to be helped.

It's told in three parts - Mary in the city, Mary on the road, Mary going home and fighting for control of the city.

Amazon has the print length listed at 338 pages.  Not sure how they figured that since it's in ebook form only.  The KU length is 484. 

Anyway, it's a big book with lots of thoughts and stuff, but it's an action-packed, fast read, from what I've been told.  Might be classified as 'new adult', but since Mary has no idea how old she really is, it's hard to tell.  Think Fahrenheit 451 or Anthem, but longer.

Loads of suspense, a little romance, some action/adventure, and a happy ending.  What more could you want?

I hope you'll give it a try while it's only 99c/99p.  After the 16th, it'll go back to it's usual price of $4.99 - which isn't exactly a bank-breaker either. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Talking about Project Hermes

Since Project Hermes (originally published as Blood Flow) is on sale this week, I thought I'd take some time to talk about it this morning.

I started PH in early March of 2007.  The old filename is just Nano (short for Nanotechnology) and it started out with an emergency room doctor as the MC.  Over the next two years, I tried writing it 7 different times and it eventually morphed into something completely different.  So, the actual first draft of the book wasn't completed until March 7th, 2009.

I wanted to write a book about the immigration crisis (2007-2019 shows you how long that has been a crisis, eh?) and it is that, but it's also a book about handing the government the keys and letting them do whatever they want without really questioning it.  Which can be particularly sticky when the govt uses an actual crisis to play games with people's lives.  Or when one person in power uses it to try and get more power.

It centers around one disgraced agent who's given a case no one really gives a shit about - a car accident in which a senator's wife is killed.  But the senator is pushing for an investigation and, well, they've got to make it look good but they don't really want to waste resources on it.  So, they give it to Randi.  Except Randi's not one to just sweep anything under the rug.  She actually investigates and finds a trail leading to a much larger conspiracy, which leads to a much larger conspiracy, which leads to... Well, you'll have to read the book.

Anyway, I'm told it's pretty fast paced and exciting.  It's stand alone, so you don't have to worry about it not getting wrapped up.  I tried thinking of other things Randi could investigate, came up with nothing, and left it there.  Don't look for a sequel.  There isn't one in the works.  Or even on the back-burners of my brain.

This was the fourth book I published.  Despite the awesome feedback I got, it never really took off the way I thought it would.  So, I changed the cover and the title, hoping that would help.  I mean, Blood Flow fits, but it's not really grabby.  Project Hermes?  :shrug: 

I still love the book.  And I'll keep trying to get in front of people. 

I hope you'll give it a try and love it as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July is Sales Month

I went a little nuts yesterday morning.  Starting tomorrow, July 4th, at least one of my books will be on sale every day through the 29th in both the US and the UK.  (As long as Amazon doesn't brainfart.)

Here's how it shakes down:

July 4th - 10th - Project Hermes
July 10th - 16th - Blink of an I
July 16th - 22nd - Sleeping Ugly
July 23rd - 29th - Accidental Death and Natural Causes

All of them will be 99c/99p on their respective dates.  I'll let you know if I manage to secure advertising for any of them.  With the sale for PH coming so soon, there definitely will not be an ad for that one.  The others?  We'll see. 

I do know I'll be doing my damndest to generate sales in other ways.  As unobtrusively as possible.  And, of course, as inexpensively as possible.  Which means I'll be busting my hump on FB.  A little twitter (which I hate, but it's there and I'm using it). 

Not sure what'll be happening next month.  Probably another Once Upon a Djinn sale.  Maybe Unequal.  We'll see.  I can't think about August right now.  Gah, next month is August?! 

Okay, back to the grind.  What have you got going on this month? 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Budget Quandary

Budget-wise, I'm not sure how other writers do this self-publishing thing.  Obviously, they are selling more books than I am, so their budgets have more padding than mine.  But is it only that?  Or do they have a second job to help fund this venture? 

I've pared my budget down to the barest of bones.  I do most everything myself.  The only exceptions are certain covers (because I do not have the skill for paranormal covers like my artist does) and the editing (because unless you are an exceptionally objective person, it's hard to edit your own books to the level they need to be for publishing).

The quandary I find myself in at the present point is: spend my limited resources on marketing or save it up until I have enough money to pay the editor?  (I've already paid the cover artist for the next two Sleeping Ugly covers.)  These past few months, I've been paying for ads. 

Without ads, my sales would be totally ghost town and crickets. 

On the other hand, if I don't put out new books, my sales will continue to dwindle as I reach market saturation. 


I've thought about getting a second job - especially since I don't seem to be doing much on the first job lately - but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to work outside the house after all these years.  Most places would allow me to be as flexible as I need to be. 

And I can't make myself take any more money out of the house budget to fund this.  Every time I think about how much money I've spent vs how little money I've made... the guilt... it burns.

For now, I'll keep marketing and hope something breaks.  (Hopefully, this writerly dry-spell breaks along with it.)

How to do decide where to spend your publishing monies?  Or is that not a problem for you?