Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas! Here's a Present!

Since my writing is really the only gift I have to give, starting today the book that started it all, DYING EMBERS, is free.  (And the other two SCIU books - FERTILE GROUND and EARLY GRAVE - are only 99c.)

DE is free through Saturday.  FG and EG are on sale through Monday night.  Grab one or grab them all.  Send them as gifts to friends and family.  If you already have them, thank you so much.  Your support means the world to me.  I wish I had a prezzie to give you, too.  :hugs:

Merry Christmas to you and all of your loved ones.  Here's to a Happy New Year for us all.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Whatever You Do, Make it New

I've seen three different books marketed as 'retellings' of Beauty and the Beast on FB and/or book newsletters this past week.  Which is kind of sad for the authors who put all that work into their books only to have them all marketed around the same time. 

It's possible they were all published at different times and just ended up being marketed at the same time.  Maybe when each of them came out there weren't that many retellings of that tale...  Except people have been retelling that tale in one way or another since the tale came out.

So, how does one differentiate oneself in the marketplace when the stories are all so similar? 

Perhaps the answer there is to NOT market your book as a retelling of BatB.  It doesn't change the story, but perhaps it changes the readers' perceptions of the story.  Tell readers what your story is about instead of falling back on the 'this is a retelling' thing.

John is a beast of a man--rude, belligerent, and definitely in need of a shave--who has learned to stay the hell away from other people.  Mary's a beauty whose looks could launch a thousand selfies.  During a hike in the Rockies, Mary gets lost and winds up on John's property.  She'd leave, but he's holding her until the cops arrive to arrest her for trespassing.  A snowstorm forces them together and love ensues...

That sort of thing.  Yeah, the blurb sucks, but it ain't my story to tell.  Still, you get the drift.  It's BatB retelling, but it doesn't wave a big banner in your face telling you, it shows it to you.

Show vs tell... just as important in your blurbs as it is in your writing.  Imagine that.

I mean, look at You've Got Mail.  It's a retelling.  It's Shop Around the Corner for the 1990s. (By the way, SatC was also retold as In the Good Old Summertime.)  And all of it was apparently a retelling of a Hungarian play, which makes sense if you've seen SatC because it's set in Hungary.  Imagine if YGM was marketed as a retelling instead of a whole new story.  It probably wouldn't have done as well as it did.  No one is as excited about a regurgitation as they are about a new thing.

Imagine if West Side Story had been marketed as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  The common moviegoer would've been all "Shakespeare?  :yawn:"

Whatever you do, make it new.  Find something to set it apart.  Maybe then, readers will be encouraged to buy your book instead of yawning and passing on yet another retelling. 

Just a thought.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Rest of 2019 is a Wash

In case you missed it on yesterday's post at The Writing Spectacle, I talked about giving up on writing for the rest of the year.  And giving up on talking about writing.  And how it will probably mean a loss of posts here at Outside the Box.    If you stop by here on regularly scheduled posting days and there isn't anything new, I hope you'll stop over at The Writing Spectacle.  The posts there won't necessarily be writerly, of course.  I talk about all sorts of stuff over there.

I'm doing this because, right now, I'm not writing and everything I have to say about writing is depressing.  Plus, I think that talking about writing, or lack thereof, is actually not doing me any good as far as writing goes. 

Don't worry.  I am not quitting writing or this blog.  I'm merely taking a break.  Or as Hubs is fond of saying, "When you're lost in the woods, just stop."  It's a time to get my bearings without further thrashing around getting more lost.

Maybe it's like trying to coax a rabbit out of hiding.  The more noise you make and the more you try, the more it will shrink away from you.  But, if you sit very still, it may come out of its hole.  :shrug:  It's a theory.

Anyway, thanks for following this blog.  I hope you'll continue to do so in the coming year.  I'm not entirely sure there won't be any posts here between now and then, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that the regular schedule won't be regular.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Not Here Today

Since I don't have anything writerly to talk about today, I decided to post over at The Writing Spectacle.  Head on over there if you want to read about us tromping around in the woods trying to determine our property line.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Time Again for Spreadsheets

I said something yesterday about doing a post about spreadsheets over here today.  Then it occurred to me that I've probably done a similar post in years past.  So, basically, if you've heard it all before, you can skip this post.

If you've been around here long enough, you know that I'm kind of a spreadsheet geek.  (Okay, I'm a geek in other ways, too.)  I make spreadsheets for all sorts of stuff - books I acquire, weight loss, word counts, expenses...  I also do spreadsheets for work, but that's another story. 

I like being able to see the data, track the data, research the data.  Look for patterns, compare  numbers, check for errors, etc.  Whether any of this does me any good is anyone's guess.  It keeps me out of trouble.  Right now, it's the time to start working on the spreadsheets for 2020.

My two main writerly spreadsheets are for tracking book sales.  There's a small one and there's a big one.  The small one - Book Sales Data - feeds the big one - Sales Totals.

Any time I see any sales activity, I plug it into Book Sales Data.  That one has tabs for each month and on each tab, it has each book and each book has a column of dates.  It also has columns for the price it sold at and where (country-wise), pages read, etc.  So, if I sell a book today, I'd type a one in say the Dying Embers section in the $3.99 column.  Or if someone in the UK read 100 pages of Wish in One Hand, I'd put 100 in the KU UK section (which could then feed a formula in another column to give me the percent of book read).

It's all very geeky. 

Anyway, the numbers go into Book Sales Data, which then feeds the behemoth Sales Totals spreadsheet to give me yearly totals and allow me to analyze things like how many books I've sold in any given month, how much money I've made, etc.  And then compares it against previous years, etc. With things color coded by book, so I don't get lost in the data forest.
It's a rainbow! Yep, geeky.

I'm not sure I like all the colors I chose for the books, but it's there now and after all this time, changing colors would totally harsh my groove.  BOAI is brown, dammit, and it will always be brown.

I suppose this all comes from my sales/management/computer tech/data entry background.  The sales force (me) needs to know what's selling and what's not and the management (me) needs to be able to see it all at a glance, so the computer tech (me) need to put it all in a useable format so data entry (me) can input everything easily.  Umm...

I can also take all of this and be able to provide the CFO (Hubs) with answers to any questions he might ask pertaining to book sales.  He doesn't ask, but it's there if he does.  Sometimes, I just blurt out stuff like 'hey, I reached 3000 books sold this morning'.* Or I show him the graphs when compare sales by month or by year.  Because they're pretty.
Oh, to have a sales spike like May of 2015 again...

I have another spreadsheet that tracks expenses pertaining to each book, but let's not talk about that one.  It depresses me and I haven't updated it in months. I should probably do that before year end, though.  Blerg.

Now, I started doing this when I first started selling books in 2015, so it made adding to it each year relatively easy.  If you were going to do one, that's the time to do it.  If you're already years into your book sales, it can still be done, but it would be a bear to recapture all that old data if you haven't already got it.  You could start from here.  You know, if you want to be geeky like me.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I just had a geeky spreadsheet idea to fix a problem I've been having with something I do for the office.

Any questions?  Comments? 

*happened last week, but I forgot to add it to the Sunday Update.