Up, Down, and All Around

Sorry, I THOUGHT it Was Romance

Romance.

Erotica.

Romantic suspense.

Sexy thriller.

Racy mystery.

Semantics have tripped me up yet again.

Around four or five years ago, I decided I really needed to get rich by writing erotica. That very quickly turned to, “Well, maybe I can hit it big with romance because erotica has no plot.”

At some point after that I settled on writing a sexy romantic thriller. Call it evolution if you like.

At first, I jumped into the sex. That earned me a head shake from my beta reader, so I stopped, set it aside, and worked on different projects while I let the story do a slow burn in the back of my brain. I finished Schicksal Turnpike and returned to Hired Gun, determined to finish it.

I googled words like erotica versus romance, erotic thriller, romantic suspense, and more. And despite reading a great deal of definitions I never once found the humdinger or rules.

Are you ready for it?

#1 Rule of Romance Writing – It MUST have a Happily Ever After

Well, shit, Skippy. Somehow, someway, I missed that.

My bad.

I adjusted the categories in Amazon and I have an order in for a new book description, one that I hope will properly convey the hot and sexy thriller, Book One of the series, out and ready for readers.

Romance readers will still enjoy the book. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few that REALLY liked the book.

Try to please everyone. Please none. – Aesop

The audience that will enjoy Hired Gun is vast. I just need to put in the proper description, run the right ads, and help bring my book into their hands. So I’m now working on a description of my perfect reader. Here’s what I have so far…

  • Enjoys complicated plots and subplots
  • Is looking for a story arc series to dive into
  • Appreciates sexy scenes and the sizzle of attraction
  • Doesn’t require a Happily Ever After

It’s rather ironic. I had read some advice on sitting down and describing your target reader or audience and dismissed it as overthinking things, or just overly complicated, but it really does make sense.

I wrote a book I would enjoy first, but I know that I’m not the only one who will. I’m not in the business of pleasing everyone – just a specific set of people. I imagine that, if you are still reading, that’s you!

Website Nightmares

It’s a really long story, but the long and short of it is that, in the middle of rolling out Hired Gun, my websites both went belly up and began to smell just like a big black snake will do if you corner it.

This website flat out disappeared, replaced with my other website, The Cottages. And shortly after I spent an hour on the phone with Go Daddy fixing this one, The Cottages suddenly sprouted Arabic. I kid you not. ARABIC.

I’m probably on some watch list now.

Head Spinning, What’s Next?

I think I’m suffering from a split personality because I want to do four things at once…

  • Finish writing my first fantasy novel – Glass Forest
  • Write the sequel to G581: The Departure – Zarmina’s World
  • Keep the impetus moving forward with Book 2 of Benton Security Services – Steel and Smoke
  • Delve into a completely new genre of suspense/horror with Winter’s Child

I’ll figure it out. Heck, maybe I’ll just rotate between them in a big circle. Who knows?

Scrrritttchh!

Imagine the sound of a needle on vinyl. I know this might be hard for anyone under forty, but hopefully you’ll get the drift.

I’ve been doing it again. And the stress has been building as a result. I realized it yesterday as I thought, “How can I feel so overwhelmed when I’m doing LESS than before?”

Different Kinds of LESS

It’s true, I’m doing less. I no longer teach community education classes, my elderly father is gone so I don’t have him as a responsibility any longer. I’m unschooling the tween, which means she usually tells me what she will be studying for the day, and until recently, it had been winter, so no outside gardening duties.

I’m doing less, so why does it feel overwhelming?

Not Learning, Not Writing Side Projects

Over six months ago, I signed up for Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors. And because I didn’t have the $700 up front, I agreed to $75 payments over the course of twelve months. It’s a series of video courses, designed to be watched and implemented over the period of a few months. So far, the course has restarted at least twice since I signed up. I have watched only a few videos.

What do these videos teach me? Well, hopefully how to truly understand what the hell I’m doing with Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and more. And considering that my advertising on AMS has been averaging anywhere from 27% (that was really good) to 129% (yup, that means I’m operating in the negative) of my sales income, I really need to be doing better.

I Want it Right Now

I realized that I’m creating a nasty little trap for myself. I want to quit cleanings so bad that I’ve found myself in the “write more, more, MORE” loop.

It needs to be the “write smart” loop.

Write smart, work smart, and what I have in print RIGHT NOW could very possibly make all the difference in the world. And even if it doesn’t, with the education I will have the foundation I need to make the next book, or the next one after that, the success I need it to be to get what I want.

I found myself saying the same thing, “If I just write enough books…”

In the Indie world, there is certainly the mass production model. Crank out enough books over a short amount of time and you might very well make the dollars you need to succeed. There is also the learned model – one based on understanding ads, how they work, and using them and other devices (subscriber lists, online presence, book funnels, and more) to bring in readers and fans.

And I realized that I’ve tried to have a foot in each pool, without the learning that goes with it.

So…Scrrritttchh!

This is a record player (for all of you millennials who may have seen the arcane construction and wondered why the hell us old folks have it around still)

Priorities in order:

  • Finish Better Choices
  • Write enough short fiction to last me through the end of this year (8 stories, doled out on a one story a month basis)
  • Go through Mark Dawson’s course from beginning to end
  • Finish Dave Chesson’s course (that I started 8 months ago – that one was a freebie)
  • Read “Joy of Writing Sex”, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and at least two of the other four books on writing that I recently bought and have not read.
  • Go through the four courses I purchased on Udemy and have never taken and if they still apply, take them.
  • Return to my book writing

As I outlined my plan of action to my husband this morning, he had this to say:

This is what you do. You work like a madwoman on one task and are consumed with guilt over not doing the other thing, whatever that might be, while doing task one. It makes for a high level of dissatisfaction on a regular basis.

Well, yikes. When you say it like that…

Time Limit

I’m going to give it a month. The world will not fall apart if I stop for one month and get some learning done. Then, if it still feels appropriate, I’ll return to the production model – hopefully with a decent amount of knowledge under my belt.

Meanwhile…

I’m starting to receive the chapters of my books turned into audiobooks. It is a rather heady experience to hear someone else read something you have written. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Die Empty

I’m listening to the speakers from the 2018 Tribe Conference – apparently it is a perk for having signed up for the 2019 Tribe Conference that I’ll be attending in September.

One speaker, Todd Henry, retold a story that really inspired him. He was asked, “What is the most valuable land in the world?”

The oil fields in the Middle East?

The diamond mines in South Africa?

“No,” the other man said, “a graveyard. Because that is where all of the unrealized potential is buried.”

Imagine all of the inventions that have never been invented, the stories that have never been written, the art that has never been created…all because someone said, “I’ll do that someday, I’ll do that tomorrow, I’ll do that next year.”

And instead, their ticket got punched before they got around to it. And all of that potential was taken with them to the grave.

He said that he went back to his office and wrote down two words: “Die Empty.”

That really resonated with me. I repeated the story to my husband and my 12-year-old. The 12-year-old has had a song she is trying to compose and record, and the husband is 3,000-4,000 words into a story on nanites that is consuming his thoughts.

My daughter said, “I just can’t get the words right.”

I nodded, completely understanding, nudged her shoulder and said, “Die empty.”

She grinned and skipped off to work on it further.

Die empty, folks. It’s a hell of a sight better than dying full of ideas, dreams, and creations that never see the light of day.

Time to Get Serious

I’ve been listening to podcasts for over a year now. And I have found that I love them. They have interested, inspired, and informed me. Listening to them, in those moments when my hands were occupied, but my mind was not, has changed my life.

Last year, as I mourned the loss of a family member I had built so much of my life around, I enrolled my then almost eleven year old in school for the first time. I questioned everything, up to and including the meme above at times. It isn’t easy when relationships end. It isn’t simple, or clear cut, or easy to walk away.

I questioned it all.

Was I a good person?

Was I a good mother?

Was I a good teacher?

Was I a good writer?

I cleaned my client’s houses, I listened to the podcasts. I learned.

I changed my covers, fixed glaring errors and dove back into the self-publishing world. As I did this, my daughter’s school conducted placement testing and I learned that not only had I managed to educate her in a reasonably efficient manner, but that, at worst, she was grade-level in math, and at best she scored six grades ahead in science.

She excelled that year in school and I regained the footing I had lost in those months of agonized questioning and fear and doubt. Not just that, but all of sudden, I was selling books.

Not a “oh my god girl, you are a millionaire!” kind of way, but a bright, bright light at the end of the tunnel. A “this is possible, this can be done” kind of way. Every day, I listened to people whose incomes were growing, exponentially.

Joanna Penn – whose income is now in the mid six figures.

Mark Dawson – whose income in book sales alone is around 80k per month

And several others.

And as I listened to them, and implemented so many changes, some effective, some rather expensive – I realized a few things.

  • You can be creative AND make money
  • I want to write books but I also want some form of security (a.k.a. passive income in the form of rentals or Airbnb properties)
  • Whether or like it or not, I need to learn marketing.

And I have kept learning, and trying, and experimenting. And yes, at times I feel as if I’m banging my head against a wall.

I realized too that as the months wore on and I wrote little or nothing that it was a combination of issues that were stopping me…

  • My dad – his presence in my life has always caused me to question myself. He thrived on it, sort of like a vampire, and seemed to enjoy unsettling me. This continues, although I have managed to make it clear that he is the problem and not me. This toxic relationship is not one I prefer to continue, but there are economic and logistical issues that stand in the way of moving him into a nursing home. For now, he is an unwilling part of our lives.
  • Excuses – damned if I don’t have one for every mountain that appears in my path. But mountains can be climbed. And if I want this bad enough, I need to get the fuck over them.
  • Family, projects and more – as much as I want to cut back, I recognize certain parts of my life take at least a chunk of priority. One cute three-year-old who we hope to adopt, a 12-year-old who is back to homeschooling, a wonderful husband and our Airbnb projects.

As I listened to the story of Shayne Silvers, a fellow Missourian who wrote his first book in 2012, and then returned to writing in 2016 with stunning results, I knew it was time to get serious.

To write and be successful, you need:

  • A great story, well-written, that appeals to your target readers
  • An excellent, well-edited manuscript that isn’t full of errors
  • A book cover that reels in readers
  • A book blurb that peaks readers interests
  • A host of compelling ads that encourage folks to click the buy button
  • A subscriber list so you can engage in personal interaction as well as low-key marketing to the readers who are already interested in your writing
  • A book magnet – a freebie giveaway that gets folks interested in your series so that they want to read more.
  • Interaction/availability – to your fans who want to know more about you or your universe of characters (fiction) or your knowledge (non-fiction)

And while there are some areas that need improvement (editing, some book covers, a bigger subscriber list) I’m on the right track, but now it is time to seriously move forward.

The end of the year always spurs thoughts of how next year should go, and this December is no exception.

I know that I want to stop cleaning houses and that I need to move my dad into a nursing home. That want and that need clash with a very basic issue, that of money.

In order for those two things to happen, I must sell 3,200 books per month. That number was arrived at through some rather labyrinthine calculations, and include setting aside 20% for taxes and 30% for Amazon’s bite of the pie, and an advertising budget that does not exceed 50% of the income I receive from sales.

Like I said, labyrinthine.

As of last month, I sold 124 books. That means I’m at 3.8% of goal.

In total so far this year I’ve sold at least 491 books. That’s a huge difference from last year in which I sold a total of 32 books. That’s an improvement of 1,534% over last year! A big thanks to Stephanie Adams for helping me with that math problem. So, going along with that concept, I need to sell 38,400 books per year or increase my sales from this year by 7,821%.

Here is how I’m going to do it.

One…

bite…

at…

a…

time.

The way I figure it, every single stinkin’ day for the next 2-4 years I need to be:

  • Writing something
  • Learning something (marketing, writing ad copy, improving my writing)
  • Editing something
  • Marketing something
  • Interacting with somebody about writing

Every single day. Without fail.

I can do this.

I’ve been homeless.

I’ve been married to shitty human beings (and even shittier husbands).

I’ve gone through divorce, custody battles, raising one teenager, bankruptcy, and a host of other challenges.

I can do this.

Stay tuned.

 

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!

‘Scuse Me While I Disappear

Yesterday was stressful. I woke up thinking of my kiddo, thousands of miles away in Europe and wondering how she is doing. By the time I opened my eyes, she had landed. And now, over 24 hours later, still no word.

We really miss her, my husband and I dance around the subject, but it is so hard to have her gone.

Just to throw a couple of monkey wrenches into everything, my husband’s plan to drive himself to work was crushed by a flat tire on his car. Later, as I was driving to my first cleaning, my van shut down, just went black for a moment, and then started back up. Not reassuring at all, but we will have it looked at soon.

My day was filled with a physical therapy appointment and then two big cleanings. At the first cleaning, I hit something and the vacuum just made this horrible noise and shut down. Luckily I was near the Oreck store and they cleared the jam and sent me on my way with no charge. I love those guys, they are awesome!

By the end of the day and no word from my child I was twitchy and stressed beyond measure.

I’ve been dealing with my dad’s antics as well, which has me stressed out. He has dementia but is convinced he can live on his own and manage his own financial and health care choices despite his doctor’s advice.

All of this led to a thundering headache that was helped, thank goodness, by the physical therapist. I had slipped on my front stairs on Monday and went flying down the icy steps, slamming my rear into each step and bruising my right wrist deeply when I fell on it trying to catch myself. The PT took a good look at my alignment and helped adjust me. My headache disappeared, and I took a deep breath in and sighed in relief.

As I cleaned the two houses, I was alone and so I gave myself a good pep talk. All the things running through my head…

Dad will die if he goes to live on his own. He’ll forget his meds, he’ll eat foods that are bad for him.

Where is my child? Why hasn’t she emailed, Facebook Messenger, or Skype’d me back?

What is wrong with my van? What if it’s something major?

My body hurts, how do I make it better?

And on and on…

All of it cycling through my head.

And suddenly, it all hit. Except for the last one, they were things I could not control.

“Focus on what I can control. I can control my cleanings and how I do at them. I can control my writing. I can continue to learn better marketing techniques, better blurb writing, et cetera. Focus on what I can control.”

Over and over I tell myself, “I’ll write a book soon.” And then shit rolls down the pike and it all falls apart. Because I’m more than just a writer. I’m a mom, a wife, a foster mom, a caretaker, a business owner, and more.

I take things on and let them stress me the hell out. But as long as I do that, the writing takes second, third, hell, last place. I don’t finish the books. I just stress out and get nothing done but marathons of tv shows that mean little and cannot change my life.

The writing can.

I can.

I can change my life.

So excuse me while I disappear. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back soon. Preferably with updates and progress. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

The Highs and the Lows

The last year has been full of some rather extreme highs and lows. For most of it, I feel a little helpless, caught on the ocean, rising and falling with the waves.

As I look at 2018, of which 1/12 of is already been gobbled up, I find myself still struggling to “figure it all out.”

 

Think Indie

Did you know Andy Weir, author of The Martian was an Indie author? So was Hugh Howey.

There are tons more and as I listen to podcasts while I clean my clients’ houses, I hear it over and over. People are getting into self-publishing not out of lack of ability or no other choice, but because of the ability to a) make more money, and b) exert more control over how their book is produced and marketed.

I hear it time and again and frankly, I agree with it. Every time I announced, “Okay, I’m going to submit this manuscript and try and get an agent, try to get this published traditionally” a hard lump formed in my chest.

It didn’t feel right, it felt wrong.

Why should I beg someone to be my agent and take a 20-30% cut of my creation?

Why should I deal with a publisher who is going to take 90% of my earnings before the agent takes out their share?

Why should I trust a publisher to market my book effectively for me when I know that only the top cut of authors get any marketing budget at all? Most get nothing.

A podcast I was listening to recently talked about one of Dan Brown’s books coming out on e-book recently, right before a new release. The publisher did a big promotion on the ebook in anticipation of the new book release, but didn’t bother to add a chapter from the new book as a teaser in the end or even provide a link to pre-order the new book. And Dan Brown is a very popular author! If they couldn’t get that basic marketing principle down for Dan Brown, how bad would they screw over a relative unknown?

So, thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick to working as an Indie author. I’ll continue to educate myself and improve not just my writing, but all aspects of the Indie author life – book cover design, formatting, editing, and marketing.

Imposter Syndrome

I have been listening to several podcasts that focus on marketing and more for Indie authors. One recently covered imposter syndrome, which I think that most people feel on a regular basis, no matter how experienced or talented they might be.

I struggle with it, just like anyone else. It has gotten better over the years – I can remember that shortly after I had written and published the second book I actually asked my friends on Facebook if I was officially an author. I had been one for two years at that point!

One thing that helps is getting reviews on my books. I check my Author Page on Amazon regularly and so I notice when new ones come in. This review just came in on my two War’s End books…

In case that is hard to read, the reviewer wrote:

“This is book one of a two book series filled with well-defined and well loved characters. Yes, it’s dystopian in nature and yet it could take place in any time or in any place. What designates this book as excellent is the author’s vision of her characters, their actions, and their stories. Her writing transcends the commonplace and rises to the level of prose. In fact, her choice of words, phrasing, and meaning sometimes brought me to tears of wonder.

The story, itself, is more than absorbing, having all the usual attributes of great literature, i.e., joy, sorrow, heartbreak, action and suspense. After finishing both books, I can clearly state that these volumes are not to be missed. You’ll find yourself heavily invested in the characters and their actions, trying to read quickly to see what happens and yet slowing down to catch the nuances of the author’s prose.

Don’t miss these books!”

Whenever I get to thinking that I don’t have anything original to say and that my writing is stilted and generally sucks, I think I’ll just need to look this review up and I will feel better.

bad grammar – I did NOT create this meme!

Figuring Out This Damned Thing Called Marketing

Have you ever thought that it would be fun to ride a bucking bronco? Yeah, me neither. I hear those bastards are rather wily. They will trick you into thinking they are going one way and it turns out to be the other.

Marketing is just as wily and volatile.

I’m climbing up a real tall mountain right now as I try and wrap my brain around it. I am learning to:

  • Write good ad copy (it’s harder than you might think)
  • Utilize correct ad placement and timing
  • Understand Impressions vs. Clicks vs. Purchases and what a good ratio mix is
  • Find a mix of free and paid marketing that works for me (it feels like shooting into the darkness)

I’m in the process of reading several books on the subject…

Some of these are very short, others not so much. In other words? I’ve just started on the mountain. I also decided to scale back and focus on one book at a time until I get the hang of this marketing thing. So I’m focusing on Gliese 581: The Departure for now.

I’m also considering placing the two War’s End books into a “boxed” set for the Kindle and marketing it for $6.99. The individual books are priced at $3.99. If I do that, it will probably be in March or later.

When the Hell Will I Get Back to Writing?

Oh, yeah, that.

Um…

So after I finish this post I need to write a ghost story with a family tree and a veterinarian for NYC Midnight. It’s a short story competition and it’s due on Friday.

….

….

Yeah, so I’m hoping to make a goal that now that I’ve run out of month (I designated January to be a “learn about marketing” month) I will dedicate February to writing something.

What are you going to write about, Christine?

….

…..

Is that a squirrel? Wait, that’s a bunny! See the bunny?

[runs away from the computer]

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Broken Brain

I’m pretty sure my brain is broken.

Yep, yep, broken for sure.

I will explain…

Why Did I Think That?

Yesterday I mentioned that I had discovered Canva.com and was all revved up over re-designing my book covers. I started with the two War’s End novels and then tackled The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale.

I thought, “Okay, I’m done.”

And another side of my brain said, “But wait, there’s still Get Organized, Stay Organized. Why not re-do that cover too?”

And I swear to you, that first part of my brain answered, “Oh, that’s nearly ten years old, no one is interested in reading THAT.”

Why not?

Well, I don’t know, I mean…

Do people still need organizing help?

Umm, yes?

And did or did you not write an organizing book?

Um, yeah, I did.

So….?

And I have to wonder if it isn’t some messed up, here let me screw with my own head and belief in me yet AGAIN and turn my back on something that could actually make me money. I mean, heck, my fellow writer/homeschool mommy friend keeps putting out new editions of her book Make Money to Write About Your Kids. Now obviously, she is writing about a market that is constantly changing.

But things have changed for the organizing scene as well. And why not come out with a better, more professional edition? And why not try to get more reviews and more sales? Why spend all of that time on a book just to wipe my hands clean and move on a few months after it was published?

Time to get to work updating and editing!

Take the Wheel

Take the Wheel of Destiny and Make It Your Own

Spur of the moment decision yesterday – I decided I really needed to do a free Kindle ebook offering on Gliese 581: The Departure.

So I set it up to start today and first thing this morning I hit my Excel spreadsheet that lists right around 250 Facebook book promo sites – most of which I have taken the time to join but rarely use.

I divided my list by four for the number of days I wanted to promote it (less one). I figured it would be best to promote with a message that read “Free today through Sunday” and then list the book blurb, an image and the link to the book on Kindle. It looked like this…

I began the time-consuming job of posting in the endless Facebook pages I had access to – and over a couple of hours worked my way through one-quarter of the list.

When I started for the day, my book was listed at “#56,782 Free in Kindle Store, #2372 in the Dystopian, and #3415 in Post-Apocalyptic.

And by this evening? #782, #15, and #16 respectively.

Yowza!

So far, I’ve posted in around 65 Facebook pages dedicated to authors promoting their books. I’ve given away 250 ebooks in about 19 hours (125 of them in the past four hours).

So I won’t make a dime on these. And you know what? I’m good with that. Build the readers, build the audience, get a following, and the rest will follow.

I realized something as I was going through the boring, repetitive motions this morning of copying and pasting, waiting for Facebook to do its thing, then marking it in my Excel file and moving to the next one.

If I really want to be a writer AND EVER MAKE A LIVING AT IT, I am going to have to get on top of this marketing crap. The lyrics to a song by Incubus kept running through my head…

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find
That I should be the one behind the wheel
Sitting around on my butt, writing the books is only HALF of the job. And that’s even WITH a literary agent, publisher, and publicist. I have got to learn to sell myself and my writing if I ever want this future I keep talking about.
So I’ve added “Marketing Madness” to the first day of each month into my calendar. It might take more than that, a lot more, but it is a start.
Cool People
So far today, I’ve “met” two folks online who responded to my marketing on the Facebook pages. One simply wrote and said she had downloaded it. I thanked her, told her I thought she would enjoy it and hoped that she would be kind enough to leave a review for me when she completed it. She responded back and said she would when she got around to reading it.
The second person I met just wrote me and said, “Sounds like it could happen to us” and posted a link to her blog where she has promoted the book and also Tweeted about it.
And honestly, I am just blown away by how NICE people can be! Here is a link to her blog.
Each Revolution Around the Sun
I spent a great deal of my life being uncertain, nervous, shy, and generally clueless about how to grasp life by the horns and fully live it. I have found that with each revolution around the sun, this grows a little easier, but I’m still learning.
Today was a good reminder that I self-published a great science fiction book that I want more people to read. And the only way I can get them to do that is by dangling it in front of them as often as possible.
No more languishing on the back shelves – this book needs to be read!