Kudos Go to The Creative Penn

I’ve been listening a lot to The Creative Penn podcast and it has made a serious difference in my outlook on many aspects of my writing business. It still feels strange to say that, writing business, when you consider how little income I will collect for all of 2017, but still. Keep in mind that I didn’t consider myself an author until after my second book.

In any case, if you are jonesing to make your writing pay, you really need to check out The Creative Penn website and start listening to her podcast. You can also follow her on Twitter. My only trouble now is in how to get all of the things I have learned in the past four weeks into some kind of action plan that doesn’t blow my circuits.

An example from the newly formatted Gliese 581: The Departure

New Interiors!

A recent blog post by Joanna Penn on formatting sent me on yet another mission to upgrade what I’ve already got out there. I realized, upon clicking on some of the links, that I could do a lot better with my interior formatting. The professional covers pull them in, but I want my readers to have an eyeful when they get inside of the book as well.

This led me to check out Book Design Templates, ooh and ahh over the look of them and decide to get my crap together and make my own version. If only because I’m dollars poor and time-rich.

A chapter from Schicksal Turnpike, which I placed as an excerpt at the end of Gliese: The Departure. Schicksal will hopefully be available in mid-March 2018

Another way to look at it was this. I spent TWO DECADES in offices – creating templates, and working closely with Word and other word-processing software. Sure I could pay $89 for a template, or I could spend a little bit of time to create my own.

I dabbled with finding the perfect “chapter art” as I am calling the designs within. Adding lines, breaking up the chapter number, the title, and even increasing the size (and changing the font) of the first letter of the text.

A chapter in Gliese 581: The Departure

I’m very excited about the new look!

The newly formatted War’s End: The Storm

Each book will have its own unique chapter art. I may even do some Zentangle mandala and use that.

Take a Step Back

I realized this morning that I’m burning the candle at both ends and need to focus on one thing at a time. So, first things first, get ALL of my books I have written whipped into shape, inside and out.

Then, and only then, will I resume my writing projects.

I just desperately need to get this housekeeping work of formatting and engineering the best look possible out of my books before I jump into any more projects.

I’ve also determined, based on sales data for nearly two months, that I need to branch out to other host sites for my non-fiction books, and possibly for Gliese 581: The Departure. Right now, I’ve committed myself to Amazon only by agreeing to the KDP program, which demands exclusivity. For War’s End: The Storm and War’s End: A Brave New World, this might make sense. But for my other books? I’m not selling ANY of my non-fiction books.

So Step 1 is get my formatting done. Step 2 is branch out to other ebook and print sellers. This also means another learning curve and days spent understanding the different online bookstore and even (hopefully) finally learning how to put together all of the different versions of epub, .mobi, kobo, nook, et cetera.

Build It and They Will Come

Back in 2005 when I started my housecleaning biz, I struggled with getting my name out there. With no budget for advertising, I had to somehow market my business without spending a ton of money.

And thank goodness for Craig’s List! The site was relatively new at that time, and I got a ton of business by just having a smart, and simple, ad in place. I stopped advertising on Craig’s List a couple of years ago. Honestly, all I need to do these days is to post occasionally on Facebook if I am in need of more clients. More often than not, they find me.

Today was one of the latter – a potential client who had met me while on a garden tour (Our garden The Deadly Nightshade was on the tour three years ago, folks!) and asked if I had any openings. I did, and I’ll meet with her next Saturday and probably start cleaning her house in January.

It was a reminder that, if I build it, if I keep working at this day in and day out, that the wave will continue to build and I will begin to see a steady income from my writing.

It might be slow-going, but it is already building and that’s an exciting thing to see.

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to sign up!

Countdown to Schicksal Turnpike

I’ve Turned Up the Heat

I’m experimenting a little here with heat, folks. Mainly, seeing if it gets me motivated. I think it will.

Schicksal Turnpike is nearly complete. I’m adding a few more details, but it is around 90% complete.

A couple of months ago, I sent out the beta version to my readers. There were issues, and I’m taking those issues and working on them, adding the details that had been missing.

And knowing me, I could keep doing this until the end of time, dithering about and continuing to polish, edit, adjust. However, if I do something drastic, like upload it to Amazon as a pre-order, now I’ve turned up the heat.

My feet are dancing to get the last of the edits done. March 19th, 2018 will be the official release date. And while three months might seem like all the time in the world, I have a feeling it will go faster than I can even imagine.

Why a Pre-Order?

I’ve been listening to The Creative Penn podcast whenever I clean a house (my current day job). And I’ve been picking up a plethora of excellent advice on marketing my writing. One of the suggestions I took to heart was to make your work available for pre-order. It means that you can generate interest for your book, even get sales (you won’t get the income until the release date), and improve your rankings. You can also accumulate reviews from your beta readers before the release date.

I can also still make edits and upload the completed manuscript before the release date. This just lights a fire under my butt to get it done, and done right, while marketing the book at the same time.

Short Stories and Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine

Recently a blog post by a new favorite author caught my eye. Meg Elison, the author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta, wrote in her blog that one of her stories will be featured in the latest edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine.

First off, I LOVED reading this magazine back in the 80s. And I had no idea it still existed. Color me clueless! My dad had a subscription to it, and also to Analog. I can remember that I was not allowed to read the magazines until he had finished with them. I was home first from school, however, and so I often got to page through it, and often read it cover to cover before he got home from work.

I have subscribed to a year’s worth of issues and can’t wait for my first issue to arrive. It will be a fusion of enjoyable reading and research. Because now that I know it still exists, I’m determined to write something fabulous and get it published in the magazine. What a blast from my youthful obsessions that would be!

Yesterday I was listening to Joanna Penn’s latest podcast of The Creative Penn, and she profiled Douglas Smith, a Canadian short story writer and they discussed how writing short stories can improve your writing skills.

I learned a lot from that podcast, and I will be following some of his advice. Recently, I committed to writing a short story each month, but I hope to increase that to two stories per month – one will be for my subscribers and free for them on this website with password access (see below for details) and the second will be for possible submission.

Mr. Smith gave some invaluable information about who to submit to and even pointed out that foreign language markets should be a destination for my work as well – and that you can sell the stories first rights in English and then do it again for a foreign language. Mind blown! He’s written a book that details some of these tactics, along with a good education in negotiating the best rights possible and I have it on order – Playing the Short Game. Yet another book to add to my reading list!

Now I need to add “work on those snippets and produce some short stories” to my to-do list!

Income Report

After bringing in a total of $2.32 in 2017 in writing royalties, I woke up in early November and thought, “Damn it, I’ve written FIVE books, why are they not selling?”

Short answer? Lack of marketing. So a lot has changed since then and by the end of November, I was excited to see a total of $114.77 in ebook sales and Kindle page reads.

This month has already exceeded that amount. Yesterday afternoon I noted that I was 77 cents short of matching the amount I had earned for all of November. Today, when I woke up, I had exceeded that. Earnings are now past the $120 mark.

Is this where I want to be? Of course not. I’ll need to be earning 20 times that to stop working at my cleaning biz, and that would just be for starters. I want to make a living at this.

And if you haven’t figured me out by now, I’ll let you in on one particular aspect of my nature, I’m a stubborn and rather determined person. I WILL make this happen!

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to sign up!

 

 

99 Cents Today and Tomorrow ONLY

On Sale Today for Just 99 Cents

War’s End: A Brave New World – the sequel to War’s End: The Storm picks up directly after Jess’s return to Warsend and follows her struggles to find peace (and peace of mind) in the ruins of her beloved hometown. There will be love, heartache, and more in the years to come.

The long-awaited sequel to War’s End: The Storm – Jess has returned to her hometown, Warsend. 

There she and her family will rebuild their lives and learn lessons about love, and loss, and the strength of perseverance. 

Miles away, Chris longs for family, for children, and dreams of the home he lost. 

The danger is not over. Jess must face her greatest fear and overcome the nightmares that have plagued her for the past decade.

Just 99 cents today and tomorrow, so get it while you can!

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

And tick tock, just two weeks more until the release of my monthly short story series. If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get with their monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to sign up!

Where Am I Going (and how do I get there)?

First off, I apologize for being so quiet as of late. I would love to say I’ve been writing, but the reality is that I’ve been marketing, studying about marketing, and trying to narrow my focus for better efficiency. Here is the latest…

New Pricing

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a small party and I met some new folks. Having just come from my interview earlier that day, I was talking about Gliese, and that led to one guy looking my books up on Amazon. “Why do you price your books so cheap?” He asked me after thumbing through them.

I gave him a non-answer, but the truth is, I’ve been floundering. What is the best price point for sales? 99 cents? $1.99? $2.99? $3.99? Or more?

One camp will tell you – “the cheaper it is priced the more sales you will have” and another camp will tell you “if you price it too low, you are sending a message that your books aren’t worth reading.”

And I’m stuck between the two thinking, “Just damned well read them, okay?”

In any case, I found an interesting article by Publisher’s Weekly that discussed this very problem. And things seem to be changing, as things do, in that particular part of self-publishing

  • $1.99 to $3.99 is the sweet spot for most sales
  • Free books don’t work as much as they used to
  • Pre-orders are the new thing
  • Non-fiction garners higher prices
  • Series are great but only if each book is at over 50k words (not a problem for me!)
  • Readers prefer longer books (also not a problem!) of 100k or more words

In line with this, I’ve raised my ebook prices on my fiction from $2.99 to $3.99 for all fiction books except War’s End: A Brave New World (it won’t let me until the 99 cent promo is complete on 12/15 & 12/16). And I have raised my non-fiction from $2.99 to $5.99 each.

I’ve also reduced my offering of free book promos to just one book for one day every other month. I’ve come up with this schedule of promos:

And after that, I will evaluate how all of my books are selling and adjust accordingly.

Earnings for the Month

I’m on track for “exceeding $150” for the month. My first goal back in November had been to just make $1 per day on my writing. That has obviously been outstripped when you consider I closed out the month at nearly $115.

My goal for December was to earn $150 for the month, and that is also going extremely well. At just one-third of the month completed, I’m currently at just over $66 in earnings! If I keep going at this rate, I’ll come close to $200 in earnings by the end of the month.

This is quite exciting for me.

Where Is This Blog (and my others) Going?

And finally we get to the big question – where is this blog, and my other blogs, going?

I started each with a specific purpose, but they have evolved over time…

  • The Deadly Nightshade – I began as a way to chronicle my gardening and DIY adventures. That morphed into promoting my classes and educating others as I broadened my class offerings. However, I’m no longer teaching many classes (a handful of them in the year) and I’m embarrassed to admit that the past two years have been a bust on growing crops of any kind. I have a feeling that as the writing speeds up, the posts here will slow down – there is only so much I can focus on at one time, and that means cutting out areas that aren’t necessarily furthering my goals of writing full-time for a living.
  • The Learning Advocate – This began as a homeschool advocacy and parenting blog, but it has mainly focused on the kiddo, so it isn’t seeing a lot of traffic, or many posts now that she is in public school. I plan on updating soon, because there is a post I have in mind, but my prognosis for this blog is that the posts will be few and far between. This may change as we edge into 2018 and things change around here yet again (more on that at a later time, when our new reality actually hits) so I’m not ruling out writing more on the blog until I’ve had a chance to see how the next six months change our lives.
  • The Cottages – This started out, and remains, a website and blog dedicated to a business purpose – that of promoting our future Airbnb properties. The blog is only updated when there is progress. I’ve got one post to make, but nothing much to say or do on the site until spring or mid-summer at the earliest.
  • My author website – This blog itself. I have shared promotional info, but also my struggle to learn marketing, to deal with the ups and downs of self-publishing, and more.

I think that is where my biggest question presents itself, what future do I see for my author blog in particular? Do I use it only for peddling my writing? Do I use it to update like-minded writers? Do I use it to simply share a slice of me? The answer is, I’m not sure. So for now, I’ll keep writing weekly (or so) blog posts here in this blog, one or two blog posts per month in The Deadly Nightshade and The Learning Advocate, and as events occur in The Cottages.

Hopefully this will keep my focus on where it needs to be – generating more content and spreading the word of my existing content to others.

Subscribers Rewarded

I’ll say this clearly – I’m NOT SELLING YOU ANYTHING. I’m only asking you to let me give you something free to read.

What do I mean by that?

It’s simple. If you add yourself to my subscriber email list, you will ONE email per month. Inside of it will be my newsletter that will provide the following:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I promise to NEVER share or sell your email address and you can unsubscribe safely and easily at any time.

Big Day Today!

I woke up this morning to learn that the last day of November was my most profitable (in Kindle Unlimited page reads) yet. And I also made over $6 since midnight while I was still snoozing.

That’s super cool, folks. I look forward to doing the work to make that number grow and grow.

Dishing Sci-Fi on the Radio!

I’m excited to announce that I will be on the radio today talking with Gina Kauffman, the host of KCUR’s Central Standard to talk about writing sci-fi.

If you are a wannabe sci-fi writer, a reader, or just think sci-fi is cool, then tune in!

Tune in between 10 and 11 a.m. to 89.3 FM here in the Kansas City area or go to their website and click on Listen Live to hear it in real time. I should be appearing during the Arts segment of the show, between 10:25 and 10:40 a.m.

Update: Here is the link to the show. My segment starts about 15 minutes in…

Every Dollar Counts

At the beginning of this month, I made a teeny tiny goal – I wanted to earn $1 per day on my writing. I made that goal and then proceeded to nearly quadruple it. Here is a snapshot of my earnings for November.

And while it isn’t enough to retire from my “day job” of running a cleaning business, it is enough to inspire me to greater heights.

Get Your Free Copy TODAY (12/1) and TOMORROW (12/2) Only!

My first fiction book, War’s End: The Storm is available for FREE download today and tomorrow on Amazon.

In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival. Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her. Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.

Reviewers have said…

“A great story. This felt like it was written by the hand of someone who actually was there. The book moved me from tears to hope. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

“This story is different. To me, it is unforgettable (although I would like to forget some of the parts portrayed). It is a heartbreaking, but uplifting story of a group of young children who are thrust into a very grown up and scary World, and how they deal with the grief and savagery around them. It is also about love, and finding family where you least expect.”

“This very compelling book follows Jess, a young girl whose parents did not prepare. They are killed and she is left to fend for herself. What follows is a great deal of pain and sadness. Be prepared to cry—I did. But in the end, Jess and her rag-tag collection of young fellow survivors live on to become an example for all of the strength of the human spirit facing adversity. It is a bit tough sledding during the darkest part, but inspirational in the end. Bravo!”

Download it today!

Subscribers Rewarded

I’ll say this clearly – I’m NOT SELLING YOU ANYTHING. I’m only asking you to let me give you something free to read.

What do I mean by that?

It’s simple. If you add yourself to my subscriber email list, you will ONE email per month. Inside of it will be my newsletter that will provide the following:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I promise to NEVER share or sell your email address and you can unsubscribe safely and easily at any time.

Have a fabulous day, folks!