When In Doubt…

Even after ten years of writing, I’m still learning new things. Being an Indie writer means being independent, self-sufficient, and creative at things that aren’t necessarily primary in my wheelhouse.

Creating book covers, uploading my books to different platforms, learning to write effective ad copy – this last year has been challenging.

When In Doubt, Ask for Help

On Monday, I was ready to tear my hair out. Joanna Penn, a rather well-known podcaster and author in the Indie world, has continued to talk about Ingram Spark as a good platform to place Indie books on.

Doing so, gives an Indie author even more exposure to bookstores and libraries.

Say no more, I was on it.

Except…the dreaded book cover.

And while I have created plenty of book covers, good ones, in Canva.com – they were not the full book cover. Instead of this:

I needed something that looked more like this:

And despite Ingram Spark’s oh so helpful customized template in pdf format, I had no idea how to do it.

After a couple of hours of banging my head on the keyboard (note to self: this does not induce deeper, tech thoughts only a nasty headache) I posted a rant on Facebook and a friend popped up and volunteered to help.

She got it together pretty quickly, unfortunately, one of the fonts I had on a print version through KDP sparked an error message from Ingram Spark. I’ve got a good idea of what to do, however, and will be able to fix it from my end in a few days.

I was reminded, yet again, that there are plenty of folks willing to help, for no other reason than kindness.

When in doubt, ask for help!

Most Money In…and Out

I’d been getting real excited about this month’s earnings in book sales. Most months this year have been averaging nearly $200 in sales per month and when I broke $200 by the 12th I was convinced it would be my best month ever.

Until I checked my advertising tab.

Sheesh.

As of the 20th of November, I had earned $301.92 in book sales, a total of 125 books (ebook and paperback).

And my advertising fees had accrued to a whopping total of $304.27 and counting.

Duh, duh, duh DUH.

AMS ads were eating up every bit of my profit, and then some.

In other words? I have a lot to learn about advertising.

Brick Walls Have Got Nothing on This Writer’s Block

I’m a planner and a dreamer. I can create a plan of action like nobody’s business and I’ve made plans among plans. When it comes to writing I have attacked it from several angles:

  • I won’t make it about money
  • I will make it about money
  • I need to write XX books this year
  • I need to just write something, anything

And so on, and so on.

In the end, every time I look at one of my bigger projects (Chronicles of Liv Rowan Book 1, The Hired Gun, Zarmina’s World, or a host of others), I tell myself, “Just write SOMETHING” and I sit down, stare at the screen, and my mind slips sideways.

I feel like I’m skidding on glass.

And it feeds on itself, making me question whether or not it will ever just be natural. After six books, it is easier, and yet there are times when I wonder “Is this it? Am I out of viable ideas?”

I know that I’m not, the world is full of ideas and I’ve had some doozies. But sometimes the implementation of those ideas seems strained and difficult. I’m going through that now, in no small part because of the marketing side of things, which really throws me off. I’ll figure it out, I always do.

Disaster…

Ugh. I was over 6 1/2 hours into recording Gliese 581: The Departure into audiobook form. I was sure I had saved the file, but this morning, at 4:30 a.m. in the chilly attic, I discovered I had not. The file is gone, over 6 1/2 hours of recording has vanished and to say that was frustrating does not begin to cover it.

I thought briefly about giving up, especially as I listened to the sounds of traffic and sirens in the distance. I couldn’t record in there even if I tried.

I think I need to move back down to the closet and instead of having the laptop in the closet, have just the external monitor and mouse inside (the microphone picks up the hum of the laptop).

When I begin recording again, I will record Get Organized first. I’ve read that non-fiction is hot in audiobooks, so I’ll start there.

And Now, A Request

As I work towards understanding what ads make me money, and what don’t, I’m doing my best to make money wherever I can. The combination of blogging and the Amazon Associates program is one of those ways, but it hasn’t been paying off so far and Amazon has sent me a notice telling me they will be terminating my Amazon Associates account unless I get some sales. So I’m going to ask a favor of you, my loyal readers.

If you shop at all on Amazon in the next few weeks, please consider shopping through this portal.

It doesn’t cost you a dime and it will keep me from losing this potential income generator. Even a few dollars of income here or there makes a difference.

 

 

The Road Ahead

A year ago, I was pretty much convinced that it didn’t matter what I wrote, or how well I wrote it, it was just blind, stupid luck that some authors made money and others didn’t.

Lightning strike and all that, right?

I made it into a joke. When I would meet someone new, I’d say, “I’m a writer, which means I run a cleaning business. The two are connected.”

Folks would usually laugh, sometimes they would even promise to look me up. I didn’t hold my breath.

Just two months before, I had enrolled my daughter in public school for a year, so instead of taking her with me everywhere I went and homeschooling while I worked, I was alone for hours on end. I began listening to podcasts, first about managing an Airbnb and then, on a lark, I found several writing podcasts.

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn didn’t click with me immediately. Compared to others she really seemed to go on and on in the introduction before the show. At first it was annoying, and then I started really listening to the intro and realizing it had some of the best information I could possibly get.

Her discussion of Canva and later of audiobooks were particularly helpful. I set about redesigning all of my covers. I then edited each of my books to include a book magnet (Schicksal Turnpike – which is still a free giveaway if you sign up for my newsletter), a request for readers to review the book they have just read, preview chapters for other books, and cleaner formatting.

And I have listened to each and every podcast she has done since, along with Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula and Dave Chesson’s podcast as well.

What I have learned from these podcasts has changed my belief system. I can write for money, without selling out. It takes:

  • A decent manuscript with compelling info or characters
  • A book cover that is attractive to that genre’s readers
  • A book blurb that pulls readers in and gives them a taste of what is to come
  • Book ads that are effective at catching potential readers attention
  • Time and patience as I figure out all of the components listed above

And every month since November 2017, I’ve made money. It still isn’t “quit your cleaning biz and write like a madwoman” life-changing income, but it is INCOME.

And talking about money, and wanting money for my art, isn’t selling out, it’s reality. You don’t go to work for free, do you? You don’t love your job so much that you don’t want to do anything else and would take a 100% pay cut, do you? I didn’t think so. And I love writing, but I also want to make money at it.

Audiobook in Progress

After a particularly challenging afternoon – one that included schoolbuses, sirens, kids yelling and some damned truck beeping as it backed up – I abandoned my ghetto-style recording studio in the attic in disgust.

For the past two mornings, I’ve woken up at 4:15 in the morning and recorded several chapters at a time of Gliese 581: The Departure. Except for a ten minute long break when there was something big going down out there in the world (per the festival of sirens I kept hearing) yesterday morning, I was able to get the eleventh chapter finished by 5:30 this morning.

My body isn’t the only thing that thinks being up at 4 a.m. is a bad idea. My voice isn’t very excited either. It takes some time to get into the swing of things. I’ll keep this up until I have the entire book read into audio form.

Then comes the dreaded task of trying to edit it. This is perhaps the most challenging thing I have done in a long time.

First Person in Progress

I remember the first time I ever wrote anything in first person – it remains a snippet of story, told from multiple views, of a band of teenage friends who are all sharing the same dream. I shared it with my dad and the only thing he said was, “Never write in first person, it’s a publishing no-no.”

And at the time, that was true. More than two decades later, it most certainly is not the case. First person, while still odd to read for some diehard readers and writers, is no longer an industry no-no.

And when it comes to the YA genre, it is rather widespread.

As I was reading the Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige series, I was also wrestling with Book One of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan, a 12-book series I have fleshed out. It felt awkward, contrived, and stilted at times. I had picked it up only to set it aside in frustration a few days later, unsure what needed to change, but convinced it needed something different.

And as I read the Dorothy book, which were written in the first person, it struck me that perhaps that was what I was struggling with. So I am now on the third chapter, moving through it, converting it from third person to first, and it feels better. As I read it in my head it also sounds better.

I’m hoping to make progress on it. The key moment will get when I hit the end of what I have written to date, in a couple more chapters, and whether the words will flow easier then.

The road ahead is fraught with marketing, learning more about effective ad copy, audiobooks and, yes, even some more writing!