Monday, September 30, 2019

Project Hermes is FREE

Early Saturday morning, I got tickled by a wild hair and decided to run a free promo for Project Hermes.  To the best of my knowledge, I've never done a freebie promo for PH, so now's your chance to snag a copy without having to slap down $4.99.

So, yeah, it's free worldwide through Amazon today through Wednesday. 

No cost to you, unless you want to be really nice and pay for it by leaving a review.  That would be awesome and I would be so appreciative. 

If you're not familiar with PH, it's my political/medical/techno suspense.  (Previously published as Blood Flow.)  Here's the blurb...

It's the little things that kill

The highest levels of the government believe Project Hermes is the best way to control America’s immigration problem. A simple microchip carrying a citizen’s information will allow officials to sort out who belongs—and who doesn’t. Harmless.

Unless the chip carries more than just information.

Agent Miranda Kruz of the Terrorism Task Force has reason to believe something is very wrong with Project Hermes. People are dying and the clues all point to a microchip implant. But Randi’s superiors don’t want anything or anyone interfering with their pet project. They’re threatening her job, her loved ones, and her life to keep her from revealing their secret. With the help of medical examiner, Vic Hammond, and electronics engineer, Jack Davis, Randi has to uncover the truth and make it public before anyone else is targeted for death.

Locating the madmen behind these executions will be hard enough—stopping them might just be impossible.

Anyway, I hope people will pick up some copies while it's free and maybe read some pages through the Kindle Unlimited program.   That's about all a writer can ask for.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Sales and Kindle Unlimited

Here is a look at my Amazon 30-day sales graph as of yesterday
If you haven't seen one of these, the top graph is the quantity of whole books sold and the bottom is pages read through the Kindle Unlimited program. 

The spikes you see in the first graph directly correlate to paid advertising.  There's a little residual sale activity after the ad, but beyond that, crickets in the whole book sales area. 

What's notable is the continued page reads after the sale is over.  Two weeks after the ad went live for Dying Embers, I'm still seeing people in the KU program reading books even if nobody is buying the whole thing all at once. 

Sure, these numbers aren't going to wow anyone and I'm nowhere near making the list of top sellers in KU, but to see residual pages reads at all is always welcome.

This is why I keep my books in KU.  As I've said before, the times I've taken my books to a wider distribution, I do not see enough sales to make up for the page reads I've lost.  Of course, your mileage may vary.  We all have to do things that work best for us.  I just don't have a wide enough reach to bother having my books available everywhere.  And I don't have a large group of people out there telling me they'd buy my books if only they were available for Nook or Kobo or whatever.  (I used to have a couple people who asked, but one sale here or there wasn't making it worth my while.  If you don't have a Kindle and want to read my books, Amazon has an app for that.)  My stay in Kindle Select could change, but for now, this is working for me. 

Any questions? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday's Post: A Gripping Read

I don't actually expect that any of you will find this post gripping in the least, but I wanted to see if using the word gripping in the title actually does attract readers. 

You see, I've been noticing lately that a lot of authors/publicists are referring to books as 'gripping' these days.  In the title, no less.  And basically what I've found is that when I read a book that refers to itself as gripping, it usually isn't.  Or at least not as gripping as the name implies.  Which, in my opinion, is a total letdown.

It's like roadside diners with a sign that says 'Good Food' out front.  In my experience, the restaurants that feel the need to say they have good food inside rarely do. 

So, what is it about the word gripping that seems to draw people in?  I mean, it must work or it wouldn't be such a noticeable trend.  (Maybe I'm the only one noticing it.)

Another, similar word I've seen, albeit not as much, is riveting.  Alas, I am rarely riveted by these books. 

If your book is truly gripping or riveting, you shouldn't need to say it.  Your reviewers will say it for you.  One hopes your blurb will hint at how the reader will be gripped or riveted and then they'll buy your book and find out. 

Or, to use an old maxim from the writing world, Show Don't Tell.  Show me that your book is gripping, don't tell me that it is. 

Jus' sayin'.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Do As I Say Not As I Do

There's a line in Alice in Wonderland (the old Disney animated one, if not also the book) about giving very good advice but seldom ever following it that I think applies to me.

I'm awesome at giving advice.  And from the comments I've gotten, it seems like it's very good advice.  I am, however, horrible at following my own advice.  I'm also good at giving pep talks to inspire others, but not so much good at pepping myself up. 

Not for any length of time anyway.

And you might be thinking I'm a hypocrite.  Well, I'm thinking it, too.  But I don't want my apparent hypocrisy to stop anyone else from succeeding where I am failing.

If you happen to find good advice here, follow it.  Pay no attention to the gal behind the curtain.  And as much as it's been drummed into my head to hate the phrase... 'Do as I say, not as I do.'

If something you read here inspires you to write by, do it.

If you found a piece of encouragement here, use it.

It doesn't matter if I'm following my own advice, if the advice helps you.  Who knows, you could be the next breakout indie writer who ends up read by millions - like Andy Weir

And I'll keep giving advice and pep talks and waving my pompoms in your face, and maybe someday all that will filter through into my own brain. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SCIU Sale Wrap-Up

As the year progresses with no new books to show for it, the sales get weaker and weaker, so I probably shouldn't expect much.  You need to be constantly putting forth new material.

Anyway, I said I'd share the results of the latest sale, so here we are.

First, an update on last month's OUAD sale.  It finally made enough money to pay for the ad I placed.  And with page reads still coming in, I'm ahead a little.

Now, the SCIU sale.  It ran from the 10th through the night of the 16th.  Dying Embers was 99c, Fertile Ground and Early Grave were $1.99.  I placed an ad with Bargain Booksy that ran on the 12th for DE ($55).

As of this morning, I sold just under 36 copies of DE, 5 copies of FG and 5 copies of EG.  I'm still seeing page reads, but the hope of actually paying off the ad is slim.  Which kind of blows but like I said, not unexpected. 

Overall, I'm still ahead on ad revenue, showing a 8.91% profit.  $271 spent on ads.  $297.50 earned off ads.  That'll change a little as the month progresses and page reads continue to come in, but not in any major way.

I didn't keep track of rankings this time.  At one point, DE made it into the 300s in its genre specification and into the teen-thousands in overall books.  Not quite enough to effect sales greatly. 

Prior to the ad, I had no sales this time around.  I fell down on the job of pushing on FB.  That may account for lower sales from the ad because the rankings of all three books were so poor when the ad came out.  I made a pretty, new graphic that seemed to get a lot of Likes on FB, but didn't really equate to more sales. 

Could be that because one of my pre-ad push days was Sept 11th the pre-sales fell apart.  It wasn't really a great day for book buying or looking at ads.  But when I set my sale dates, it wasn't even on my radar.  My mistake. 

Anyway, live and learn. 

Not sure what lies ahead for marketing this year.  I have sales penciled in for October, November, and December.  Whether I'll be able to advertise remains to be seen.  Gotta make money to spend money to make money... Ad infinitum.

As for overall sales for the year, I just passed the 400 books/$400 mark.  Not sure if I'll pass last year at this rate, but I've already passed 2017, so this won't be my worst year ever.  That's gotta count for something.

And that's it.  Any questions?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

Friday slipped away from me entirely and that's okay because I've decided to stop being so hard on myself. 

So what if I didn't get a blog post written.  Nobody died.  My regular blog visitors didn't say 'well, no Friday post, so I'm never going back there'.  Life proceeded as normal.

And so what if I didn't write every day last week.  It's not a crushing blow. 

And so what if when I did write, I didn't always get a lot of words down.  Sure, when the words are hot, I can do about 1000 words an hour.  A couple days there, I didn't get more than a few hundred down.  Oh, well.  I'm still writing and the book's still progressing.

That's the point there, isn't it?  I'm writing and the book is progressing.  It's more than I can say for the majority of this year. 

Ditch the negatives.  Focus on the positives.

Sure, it ain't always easy.  I have to keep reminding myself.  Negative thoughts creep in and I find myself falling back into the gloom.  Then I have to remember to kick those thoughts back into their box where they belong.  And to stop being so hard on myself.

It's a one day at a time thing. 

Oh, there are definitely times when I need to be hard on myself.  Things need to get done and I'm the only one to do them.  I'll kick my own ass when I have to.  But I don't have to right now.  What I have to do is write.  Plenty of time for ass-kicking later.  Right now I'm still bruised from the extensive ass-kicking I was doing with nothing to show for it. 

So, last night I wrote like 500 words.  Yay! 

Now it's your turn.  Tell me something positive.  It's the first step toward not being so hard on yourself.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Shut the Voices Up and Write the Damn Book

I'm writing again.  Three days in a row now.  I'm not burning up the keyboard or anything, but it's progress.  And I had a major plot point jump into my head yesterday, so I'm feeling pretty good about what lies ahead.

As you all know, it's been a rough year writing-wise.  And it seemed like the longer I went without writing, the less I felt like I could write.  Sunday broke that all apart.  Here's what I did...

I told myself to stop listening to the negative voices.  And there were a lot of them.

- the reviewer who thought Jo was too whiny in In Deep Wish... can't have whiny... is Jeni too whiny?  SHUT UP
- the reviewer who hated all the characters in Accidental Death... can't have people hating my characters... is Jeni too hateable?  SHUT UP
- the editor* telling me I have too much backstory in the beginning and a character did this in chapter one but did something the opposite in chapter two... gotta have continuity... SHUT UP
- the editor telling me I am using too many thats or justs or evens.  SHUT UP
- the marketing whiz whispering to me Sleeping Ugly isn't selling so why am I writing a third book?  SHUT UP
- the agents rejecting me for whatever reasons... (yes, it goes back that far).  SHUT UP
- the little voice reminding me that I haven't finished editing Ugly and the Beast, so what the hell am I doing writing the next book?  I have to finish editing before I start new words.  SHUT UP
- the accountant shouting that I don't have the money to publish anything right now.  SHUT UP

Once I got them all to shut the hell up, I went through what I had already written on CU and then started writing where I left off.

Is it any good?  Who the hell cares?  If the beginning sucks, I'll rewrite it.  LATER.  Right now, I'm writing new words.  Editing is for later.  Is Jeni whiny?  Hell, yeah, but who cares?  Will people hate her?  Probably, but who cares?

All those voices are doing is stopping me from doing my job.  My job is writing.  I get weird when I don't write.  (Well, weirder.)  So, I need to stop worrying about every little freakin' thing and write the damn book.  Any worries that might actually be legitimate can be dealt with after I finish the damn book.

So, that's where I am right now.  Writing the damn book.  I'm at 6500 words.  Like I said, not burning up the keyboard, but it's progress and I haven't really made any progress in months.

*No offense to my editor, but I do not need her in my head when I'm writing a first draft.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

SCIU Sale Starts Today

I was so focused on potentially having jury duty tomorrow*, I almost forgot...

Starting today, the books of the Serial Crimes Investigation Unit are on sale.  Read them all, or just pick up the ones you missed.

Dying Embers - 99c US and 99p UK
Fertile Ground - $1.99 US and £1.99 UK
Early Grave - $1.99 US and £1.99 UK


* The trial was cancelled, so I do not have jury duty.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Long and Wandering Post

I wrote this post and Tuesday's posts on Sunday morning, and then I DID something.  Starting with boxing up the negative voices and shoving them in a corner.  Still, I thought I should leave this post as a reminder to others not to give up.

It's early Sunday morning and the house is quiet, other than the cat snoring and my computer humming.  Hubs went back to bed a while ago.  Me?  I'm just sitting here in front of the computer, trying to convince myself to write something.  Or edit something.  Or DO something.  Anything.

Earlier, I saw on Facebook what I think was the breakdown of a human being.  When I first got on, I saw a long post that basically amounted to 'I hate myself and everything I've ever done and I'm so so sorry to anyone I may have hurt'. Then as I scrolled through my feed, I saw he'd made post after post of really depressing-ass songs.  Not a writer.  Just a dude who had sent me a friend request a month or so ago, who has until now seemed like a really cool and stable individual.  At first, I thought he'd been hacked, but the songs...  Well, after a bit, I decided that perhaps it was him after all.  Which is really depressing.

But I get it.  Been there, done that.  Listened to the same songs.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking.  And sitting here staring at my computer trying to force myself to DO something, lest I write a similar post of my own and thrown down a cavalcade of similarly depressing-ass songs.

You know, I think the songs actually make things worse.  Scratch that.  I know they make things worse.  For godsakes, do not listen to Counting Crows.  If you aren't depressed when you start, you will be by the time you're done.  Suck the joy right out of you, they will.  I used to wrap myself up in them, thinking they knew how I was feeling, but in the end, it turned out they were actually feeding my depression rather than empathizing with it.  And once I realized that, I got those damn CDs right the hell out of my life.

Now, when I'm feeling blue, I put on my HAPPY mix and try to use that to lift myself out of it.  Or I listen to Rachmaninoff.  Hard to feel down listening to that.

My problem right now isn't so much that life is getting me down, it's that I don't feel like a writer.  I don't feel like I even know how to write anymore.  Not fiction anyway.  I feel like when I sit down and start typing, all I'll produce is crap.  I feel like the whole beginning of Cinder Ugly needs to be scrapped and I don't have the first idea on how to start it over.  And I have no clue how to start anything else.  It's all "'Crap?  We love crap.  Crap crap crap.  Crap crap.  Crap.  Crap"*.

Yeah, I know... I'm the first one to tell you 'give yourself permission to write crap'.  'It's all fixable.'  'You can't fix a blank page.'  Somehow that advice isn't helping today... err, for the past few months.  The caveat to that advice, one I didn't realize was there until now, is that it's okay to write crap as long as you have some hope it'll be fixable later.  And I don't have any faith this crap will be fixable.  It's not fertilizer from which a rose will grow.  It's toxic sludge from which nothing will ever grow.

Yes, I know what I have already written is not crap.  It's what's coming out of my hands now that's crap.  Or, at least, that's the thinking that's got me stuck.

Not sure how I'll muddle through this.  I will.  I think the first thing I need to do is kick all the negative voices out of my head.  Or at least shove them all into a big box and then shove the box into a corner where I can ignore it.  I'm working on it at least.  I haven't given up.  Nor will I.

The FB guy?  I hope his outpouring of depression yesterday helps get his mind right.  Sometimes you've got to pour it all out so you can fill up with something better.  And sometimes, if you let it, it just fills up with more of the same.  I really hope he finds some good and positive things to fill up on. 

And now, finally, there's the first glimmerings of sunrise.  A new day.  Let's make this a good one, eh?  Let's DO something. 

* Norman Fell in the movie 'Transylvania 6-5000'. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Little Inspiration

(In case the embed doesn't work, watch it here:

I love this song.  Hadn't seen the video until this morning, but it's pretty cool.  (I wouldn't share it if it wasn't.)

Just a snip of the lyrics:

Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn't make a killing
Didn't have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn't know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes

Some days, it feels like all we have are high hopes for a livin', but we'll get there.  And we'll climb over whatever gets in our way to do it.  ;o)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Cranky Stuffs

Be warned.  I'm cranky.

If I see one more motivational poster about writing, I'm going to poke someone in the eye.  With a stick.

PS.  If I see the quote from a wildly popular author where he talks about it not being about the money one more time, I'm going to scream.  Yeah, Mr. Commercial-Fiction Millionaire Dude, it ain't about the money.  Right.  Blow smoke up someone else's ass.  Back when he was struggling to pay the bills, I bet it was a little bit about the money.  In fact, if it isn't about the money, why aren't his books free?  Hmm?

The other day I saw a bestselling author, who only a couple days before announced she'd sent her nth book to her publisher, write that she wanted to quit.  Umm, yah.  I get that even bestsellers get the blues, but come on.  If I had her sales and critical acclaim, I'd be back to cranking out 4 books a year.

Another other day, I got to the end of a book and found a note from the author.  Instead of asking for reviews, they were asking people who enjoyed the book to buy the paperback version of it.  For $30.  Not sure whether I admire the balls or am annoyed by the chutzpah.

You ever get to the end of a book you couldn't put down and enjoyed the hell out of and can't explain why you liked it or why it sucked you in so hard?  I wish I could harness that power.  I mean, I want people to be able to say why they liked my books, but I'd settle for them being sucked in hard and staying. 

I know this isn't an easy path I've chosen, but couldn't it be a little easy just for a little while?  I'd appreciate a chance to float instead of having to swim against the current all the time.  It's tiring.

:shrug:  I chose this.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Sales and Advertising Update

It's Labor Day.  I'd like to say I wrote this post as a nod to that - because like it shows the fruits of my labors - but in reality, I forgot it was going to be Labor Day today.  

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to have paid advertising at least once a month this year.  So far, with the exception of March, I have stuck to that goal.

Here's how the paid advertising has broken down so far this year...

January - ad for SU.  Spent $6, made $8.53.
February - ads for WIOH and OUAD.  Spent $50, made $57.14.
March - Derp.
April - ad for AD.  Spent $15, made $29.30.
May - ad for WIOH.  Spent $40, made $53.71.
June - ad for DE.  Spent $15, made $21.96
July - ad for AD.  Spent $55, made $46.04.
August - ad for WIOH.  Spent $35, made $32.66 so far.

That's a total of $216 spent and $248.34 made, so I'm ahead overall.  By like $33.  And I've made like $100 on books where I can't directly attribute the purchases to any paid advertising.

I set up an ad for DE for next month.  DE will be 99c.  FG and EG will be $1.99.  Fingers crossed it doesn't go the way of my July ad.  That would suck.  I like to think it was July's fault.  July always sucked back when I was selling electronic components.  Maybe July is just a sucky month for sales of anything.  (Although, when I hop into the wayback, July of 2015 was my 2nd best month ever, so who knows?)

Anyway, I'm still chugging along.

A while back, I wondered whether I should save my advertising money and put it toward editing.  Umm, no.  Like I said, I've spent $216.  That wouldn't even pay for half an edit.  Even if you add in the $55 I spent for next month's ad, it wouldn't pay for a whole edit.  And imagine how bad sales would be if I didn't pay for any ads.  :shudder:  So, I'll keep advertising and keep my fingers crossed something else breaks so I can set up editing again.

As always, this is just an informational post and your mileage may vary.  What works for me, may not work for you... or it may work way better than it did for me.

Any questions?