Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Spreadsheets for the New Year

As you all probably know, I'm a spreadsheet geek.  On the personal side, I have spreadsheets for the books I've acquired and for my weight and activity (where I also keep track of writerly things like word counts and pages edited).  I do spreadsheets for the payjob.  And I have spreadsheets to keep track of things for the writing business.  Those last ones are the ones I want to talk about today.

I have a whomping huge spreadsheet to keep track of my expenses and income.  All six years worth.  That one's particularly ugly this year, so we won't really talk about it much.  When I finish updating it, it will tell me how far in the hole I am and whether I made any progress anywhere.  The closest any of my books is to being out of the hole is Accidental Death.  It's only $102.51 in the negative.

My other two main spreadsheets are Book Sales Data and Sales Totals.  

Book Sales Data has a tab for each month of the year and on each tab, it has sales information for each book - color coded by book on the rows with columns for each possible sales item.  Each potential US price gets a column, other countries get columns (except the EU countries only have one column because they all use the euro), there are columns for KU and print and returns. This sheet is for quantities only.  I used to do quantities and amounts, but I deleted the amounts section several years ago because it wasn't necessary here.  I keep all that over in the Sales Totals spreadsheet.

The Sales Totals spreadsheet is another whomping huge one.  This sucker tells me everything - quantity, amounts, page reads, etc. on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis with comparisons and charts.  I use the Book Sales Data sheet to feed this one.  (I have to, or this one would be even huger and the weight of it would probably topple my computer.)

The first tab of the ST takes the data from the BSD.  It's a lot like the BSD in that there are color-coded lines and columns for each of the possible sales items. Rather than try to explain it, here's a screen capture of what I'm talking about.

Pretty, pretty rainbows.

I couldn't capture the whole sheet, so I just gave you a month and the quantity side.  The earnings side looks the same, except the numbers over there will have dollar signs, when I have numbers to put into it.  The colors are for more than just looks, too.  They help me keep track of things with a glance.  Dying Embers will always be that shade of blue.  If I'd thought this though way back when, series would all be the same color, but I didn't.  And it would've messed up my rainbows anyway.  

If you look beneath the rainbows, you can see the tabs to where all that information works.  The Daily is quantities of everything sold.  The Daily Pgs is for Kindle Unlimited.  Overall keeps track of everything over all the years.  Monthly breaks it down.  Pgs Read does the KU by month and book.  It's all pretty self-explanatory.  

Every time I publish another book, I have to update everything - adding rows and columns, etc. - but for the most part, this works for me all year long.  Sucking in data and presenting it in a format I can easily digest.  

Every month, I have to plug in formulas to make ST pull from BSD, but that's only because I'm too lazy to do it all ahead of time.  I used to populate the thing with formulas at the start of the year.  Then it got to be such a pain, I decided to do it month to month, as things sold.  Why put a formula into a cell if there will never be any information in that cell?  So, I stopped.

Anyway, you probably won't ever want or need anything like this.  It keeps me out of trouble and even when the sales are light, it gives me a clear outlook on where I've been and where I'm going. 

If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them as long as they aren't too involved like I'd be building your spreadsheet for you.  I've often thought about offering my services to make spreadsheets like these for other authors, but the sheer weight of these things and the data involved makes it less than ideal.  And the time it takes to create and maintain one would make the process costly for other writers. 

And besides, few writers are as geeky as I am.  I like knowing exactly what's going on with the business at any given time.  Even when the news is bad.  

Speaking of which, I will be doing at least one wrap-up post here sometime next week to talk about 2020 sales and junk.  See ya then.  I won't be here on Friday.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Once Upon a Djinn Sale Wrap-up

Gah I overslept.  And I didn't set this up beforehand, so bear with me.

I wanted to talk this morning about the sale that just wrapped up last night.  I'm not sure if any of this is interesting to anyone but me, but here goes...

The sale ran from 12/23 through 12/27.  Wish in One Hand was free and the other 3 genie books were 99c/99p each.  

Books moved:

WIOH - 82
IDW - 3
UWC - 3
WHTF - 3

No page reads yet. 

To achieve that, I posted to 16 different Facebook Groups, 2 MeWe groups, 3 FB pages I own, and my MeWe page.  I know of two different people who posted about my books as well.  

I made $5.82.

Now, before you think that's depressing news, it's actually not totally gloomy.  I mean, it isn't great, but looking on the bright side, that's pure profit there.  And it's more money than I made on books in five other months this year.  

(Yeah, I am blowing smoke up my own wahoo, but it's early and I don't feel like being bummed out, so there.  =op)

Anyway, there was a sale.  I moved some books.  There are 88 new chances out there in the world for people to read and enjoy my work.   Maybe the freebies will spark someone enough so they'll buy the rest of the series and then buy the model series and then the rest.  Fourteen other books for them to read.  Yay.

The rest of this week will be devoted to getting my 2021 spreadsheets up and running.  I might talk about that on Wednesday.  I'll also be writing on Duke Noble.  I rolled over 30K words last night.  Woohoo.

Now, on to more coffee before my brain implodes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Stuff and Junk

Since I totally spaced out yesterday, there's a post there and a post here this morning.  (Although, the post there isn't nearly as interesting.)

First off, the genie sale started this morning.  Now through the 27th, Wish in One Hand is free and all the other genie books are 99c each.  If you were looking for some fun reads to load your or someone else's Kindle with, there ya go.  Get the whole four-book series for less than $3.  It doesn't get much better than that.

In other news, I saw a post on FB this morning wherein a popular author I know was talking about a review wherein she go tagged for using curse words in her book.  She explained, quite rightly, that she can't take those curse words out because that's how her character talks.  If she took them out, she'd have to change the character which would change the book.  Bingo.  And exactly.  Would Jeni be Jeni without her dropping the f-bomb?  Probably not.  

Also, when writing my marketing post for FB, I started out with Merry Christmas.  Yeah, some people don't appreciate the phrase.  Well, all holiday feelings aside, screw them.  I celebrate Christmas.  I wouldn't get all up in anyone's grill for wishing readers a Happy Hannukah or Kwanzaa or whatever.  So I left it.  But I also added a bit for everyone to have the happiest of holidays, covering my bases, so to speak.  Whatever holiday you celebrate, make it a happy one, okay?  And don't get all down on people for wishing you a happy whatever holiday they celebrate.  Take the wishes in the spirit they were given.  Happiness and joy, people.  That's all that matters.  :hugs:

Eat good food, hang out with the ones you love, and read awesome books.  Enjoy yourself in whatever manner you choose.  Personally, I'll be over here trying to have a Merry Christmas.

Note: Since this blog usually posts on Fridays and this Friday is Christmas, this will be my last post here this week.  See ya over at The Writing Spectacle until next week.  :HUGS:

Monday, December 21, 2020

Friendly Ass Kicking

Okay, so Silver James yelled at me yesterday because I was whining about not writing (see Sunday Update and comments from The Writing Spectacle).  I thought about the book and how to get past where I was so I could move forward again.  Last night, I ended up with 1644 new words.  And I finished on a shocker I hadn't seen coming.  So... Thank you, Silver, for verbally kicking my ass.  I needed that.  

I also set up a sale for the genie books.  The first book is free from the 23rd to the 27th.  The others are all 99c for the same days.  Merry Christmas.

Anyway, as you can plainly see, sometimes I need my ass kicked.  Usually I kick my own ass.   This time, someone kicked it for me because I was, at that point, unable to.  That what friends are for.  

Maybe I need to do some friendly ass-kicking, too.  I have a couple of writer friends who aren't writing right now.  Both of them are awesome writers.  I've loved everything I've read from either of them.  I'd love to see more.  So...  If they're reading this, and I suspect they are, here's a message to them both:  Get your asses in gear and write me some more stories, dammit.  Don't make me thrash you soundly.  Your mothers were hamsters and your fathers smelt of elderberries*.  Write or I shall taunt you a second time.  

Not sure if that was sufficient to get either of them going again.  Maybe I'll sic Silver on both of them.  She's better at it than me.  

*If you haven't seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you really need to rent a copy**.  It's hilarious.

** do people even do that anymore?  Rent movies?  

Friday, December 18, 2020

Progress Report - Duke Noble 1

Ten days.  I've worked on this book for ten days straight.  Which is all Huzzah and Hurray for me.  I wrote every day but one and that day I deleted part of a scene that was bothering me.

In those ten days, I added 12143 words.  (12693 written, 550 deleted.)  Last night was my best night with 1928 words laid down.  And with those words, I rolled the book to over 20K words.

Right now, this morning - having gotten out of bed at roughly 3:30 again - I'm not sure if anything I wrote last night is any good.  And right now, I don't care.  If I still don't like it after I write THE END, I'll fix it in edits.  The point right now is to get the story out.  Blast through it all like blowing a hole through a mountain.  I'll clean up the rubble once I can walk out the other side.

I had a bunch of thoughts about the book as I lay not sleeping.  Some of them are still there this morning and I wrote those down.  I think I know who did it.  And why.  Now to get from here to there in another roughly 30K words.

I need a shower today.  And a boatload more coffee. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 12/12/20

Well, hello there.  Fancy meeting you here.  It's almost the end of the year, ya know, and we're coming to the end of these wrap-ups for 2020.  (I have a flare for stating the obvious, doncha know.)

I picked up four new ebooks this week - paranormal mystery, UF, paranormal romance, romance.  And I have one book left from before - a thriller.  No new hardcopies this week.

Books Read:

82) Drop Dead, Gorgeous by Mike Jastrzebski (12/6/20) - Supernatural Mystery*# - 5 stars.  New to me and while it does have loads of ratings, it doesn't have many reviews, which is too damn bad.  Free off the ENT newsletter.
Review: "Wow, that was a really fun story. I loved the characters and the premise was interesting. It was well-written with an intriguing plot. Plus, it hearkened back to the old noir crime novels I love. Supernatural mystery for the win."


12/11/20 - romance. Free.  I read this about 2/3rds of the way through and then I realized there was no way I was going to be able to give the book more than 3 stars, no matter how it finished.  So I stopped.  I mean, there was sooo much unnecessary stuff in there.  The author could've trimmed a lot and had a much better book with fewer pages.  One I probably would've read all the way through.  =o( 

Currently reading... the thriller left over from earlier in the month.  I'm not loving it, so I'm not sure if this will become a DNF today.  

How did your reading week go?  Anything awesome to report?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Telling Myself Stories

I'm not sure what's happening or why it's happening but I seem to be on a roll.  3700 words in the past three days.  I don't want to jinx it.  Putting words to a new story has been like pulling teeth this year.  Hell, I haven't even been able to put new words to old stories.  Blerg.

Anyway, I'm over 11K on the book now, so I should be able to finish this one.  :fingers crossed:

Duke Noble, Private Eye.  

"It can't be," said a voice near the diagonally parked cars to my left.  "Hank?  Is that you?"

I couldn't very well pretend I was someone else.  Howard Ellington Nobel, to be exact, as pretentious as that sounds.  What can I say?  Maybe my mother wanted a poodle and got me instead.  I hadn't heard the name Hank in decades.  Thankfully, Granddad Noble got one whiff of my middle name and christened me Duke.  Once my friends in college heard the story, they wouldn't call me anything else and I've been Duke Noble ever since.   

I wasn't surprised someone in this town would call me Hank.  I was only surprised anyone would recognize me after all this time.

I like Duke.  I'm enjoying the hell out of this story.  I have no clue who did it, which is part of the fun of writing the way I write.  I'm telling myself the story as I go along.

Even when I was a little girl, I was always telling myself stories.  I'd lay in bed at night, talking to myself, telling myself stories.  I'd be out in the fields doing the same thing during the day.

Now, the hope is that other people will enjoy the stories I tell myself, but I shouldn't let that change how I do things.  Maybe that's why this year writing has been so hard.  I've been letting everything interfere with the process.  Well, not this time. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Short Snippet

Since I shared this over on Silver James' blog, I thought I'd share it here, too.  This is the beginning of that noir crime thing I started a while back.  It's still pretty first-drafty, so be kind.

“My death serves no purpose,” she said.  “At least not yet.”

“Did you invite me here to ask me kill you?”  I wasn't sure how much Sara knew about the life I led or the jobs I had done over the years since I'd last seen her.  A lot of people seemed to have the idea that men in my line of work would be willing to do any job for the right price, murder included.

“Goodness, no.  I want to hire you so you will, at the right time, insure none of my heirs are arrested for my murder.”

I shook my head.  “You’ll pay someone else to kill you then?”

She giggled and I could picture the girl she might've been.  Once, she'd been a close friend of my parents.  She was as near to a mother as a woman could get to a boy without actually giving birth to him.  “Goodness no," she said again as she handed me a plate of Danish Windmill cookies.  They were my favorite.  When I was ten.  I took the plate and set it on the coffee table between us without taking one.  This wasn't the time for eating.  

"I am more than capable of doing it myself once the time comes.

I sat down with this story last night, read through it and tightened up some stuff, then wrote new words on it.  It's at 8690 words right now, with the 828 I added last night.  This might be the thing that gets my writing jumpstarted again.  Not promising anything.  It seems like every time I promise something (even to myself) lately, it falls apart.  For now, I'm going with the flow for as long as it lasts.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Talking Marketing Again

Okay, so I did the free thing for Dying Embers.  That ended yesterday and I saw 49 copies move out to readers.  Two more than the last time I did the freebie thing for DE.  Remember, this is sans paid advertising, so no huge numbers, but hey, it's something. 

Additionally, I have had Fertile Ground and Early Grave on sale for 99c each since Sunday and that sale is still on through Saturday.  (The logic behind Amazon letting you have a sale for 7 days but only free for 5 days escapes me.)  To date, I've sold 3 copies of FG and 2 copies of EG.  Plus there were some page reads for FG that I hope will continue.  

Facebook finally forced me to go with their new format, which makes advertising in FB groups a wee bit different.  Actually, it's a smidgen easier once you get the hang of it.  (The only good thing I've found about new FB, so far.)  Unfortunately, one of my go-to groups went to approving every post before it posts and the administrators aren't quick about approvals, so I won't be posting there anymore.  I get why they're doing it, but the delay harshes my game.  I also found and joined a new to me group I hope will find me some new readers.  :fingers crossed: 

If you want to sell through FB without giving FB money, posting in book groups is about the only way.  I mean, I've paid FB for ads and never saw a sale, so why pay them more?  That and I refuse to throw any more money their way.  I'd leave FB entirely if I could get the same return on posting at MeWe or elsewhere.  Hell, I'd pay MeWe if I thought I could make money there.  We'll see what it looks like in 2021.

In other news, I'll be doing another sale thing starting next week.  Not sure which book(s) I'll be doing.  Stay tuned.  Might be Accidental Death and Natural Causes.  We'll see.

I came across a potential new reader out and about in the world the other day.  But she only reads hardcopy books.  I stopped by and saw her this week, with books in the car, but I chickened out on actually trying to sell her any.  I'm so bad at hand-selling my books.  Thank goodness for Amazon.  (Although I rarely ever sell paperbacks even then.)

Okay, that's about it for me.  Any questions?  Anything to add?