Posts Tagged With: Book

Self Publishing: The First Month – Amazon Ads

Self Publishing Update

So, I’ve now been the self-published author of a novel for a month.  Aside from the free promotion, I haven’t done anything except run ads via the Amazon system.  I feel like I’ve learned something? Maybe?

I think the book is doing pretty well, actually, for being a first novel in a genre that doesn’t typically sell in the indie market.  And for being a book with only four reviews.

I have sold 4 books since I ended the free promotion.  3 of those were hard copy and another 1 was a Kindle copy.  Kindle copies are where I make my money, so it was nice to have one.  The profit margin on the print book is slim (although not nothing, and I’m not really in this for the money anyway at this point).

I also had several Kindle Unlimited pages read, though that’s also hard to break down.  The reports tell me how many pages, since I get paid by the page.  But is it the same people re-picking up the book, or is it new readers?  We’ll never know…

My ads haven’t been working okay.  I’ve never written copy before, nor do I have any experience with advertising, so I’m being gentle with myself about it.  I’ll be rejiggering the ads today to make them better.

You may already know this, but with Kindle ads, you bid on a keyword.  If you’ve bid the most, whenever someone visits a book that’s classified under that keyword, they see your ad.  You pay if they click on it, otherwise it’s free.

I currently have 4 ads running.  On the first, I let Amazon pick my keywords. Hardly anyone has seen the book on this one – about 74.  On two other ads, I have about 450 people who have viewed it, but only one person on each ad has clicked on the ad and the report estimates I haven’t had any sales.  They don’t take Kindle Unlimited into account, though, so I think this might be where I’m getting some of those extra Kindle Unlimited pages from. On my third ad, about 650 people have seen it, but no one has clicked.

I ran the same exact keywords for all three ads I set up myself, so I’m not sure why everyone’s seeing the one and not the others.

So, I have two goals this month.  The first is to re-do the book description on the ad so it’s a little more punchy.  The second thing is to pick better keywords.  Right now, the ones I’m getting the most hits on are the names of other authors.  I plan to add in a greater swath of authors who I think write things that are like this book.  I’ll leave the Amazon auto-target ad alone, probably.

That’s a rundown of the basics.  In addition to redoing the ads, I’m considering a blog tour.  Most authors I’ve seen who have done it say they basically break even – they make about as much in book sales as they paid for the tour.  Still, I think it might be worth it for me from a review perspective.  The blog tour I’m considering would have 15 stops, so that would be 19 reviews on the book once I’m done if you add the ones that are already there.  I’d definitely consider buying a book with 19 reviews, where I’d look askance at 4.

That’s mostly all I have to say. For those who want to get into the nitty-gritty with me on the ad portion, I’ll post a little more detail below.

The book descriptions I went with on the ads are as follows:

  1. What do a spy, a runaway, a subversive print shop, and a queen have in common? Blue Gentian. You won’t be able to put this book down. (450-ish views)
  2. “Love at first page!” Looking for something new to read? You just found your next favorite epic fantasy with a strong female lead. (450-ish views)
  3. Traditional fantasy gets a makeover in this epic coming-of-age tale about leaving home to find it. You won’t be able to put this book down! (650-ish views)

I went with these descriptions partly because I read a book that told me that ads with “you” in them tend to do better than ads that don’t.

In this next cycle of ads, I intend to run descriptions 1 and 2, but not 3.  I also intend to run one that says “If Lord of the Rings and Little Women had a baby, Blue Gentian would be it. You’ll love this epic fantasy about leaving home to find it.”

I ran the following Keywords:

action, adventure, caravan, coming of age, council, epic, fantasy, female voice, gentian, healer, intrigue, kwed, little women, low magic, medicine, mission, notlimah, printing, queen, quest, shaman, spy, strong female lead, sword, tolkien, traditional fantasy, travel, travelers, traveling, wise woman, young adult

BY FAR Tolkien got me the most views.  Wise woman, shaman, and travel got me the next most, although I’m not sure travel is really doing for me what I’d like it to do.

This month I’ll add:

Shannon Hale, Le Guin, Dianna Wynne Jones, Chrestomanci, Uprooted, Naomi Novik, Wheel of Time, Rothfuss, Jane Austen, Jeff Wheeler, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Harry Potter, Patricia C. Wrede

I may also take out some of the others that are probably deceptive (like travel), although it doesn’t cost me anything to bid unless the ad gets clicked on.  We’ll see where that gets me, and I’ll report back in another month!

Here we go…

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Categories: Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PUBLICATION DAY!!

Blue Gentian is officially out for publication, and I’m running it free for the next 5 days to thank you all for following me through this journey.  If you could please consider telling someone what you thought of it (especially consider reviewing it!) I would be the most grateful girl on the web.  Thanks in advance.

So what are you waiting for?  Go get your free copy!

Blue Gentian Cover - Final -

 

Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Self-Publishing Tools

Before I launch into the meat of this post, I have an update on Blue Gentian.  Or, I guess I should say that I’m hoping it won’t be an update but it might be.  Amazon has lost the 2nd Galley of Blue Gentian in the mail, sent it to the BFE, and now they don’t know when it will be here.  “If you haven’t heard by Friday let us know,” they say.  Which is 12 days AFTER my original delivery date.  For which I already waited several days for them to print the thing.

That’s frustrating, but what’s worse is that I may need to postpone publication of the hard copy.  I’m optimistic that my cover will be a good resolution and the insides will look great.  But if they don’t, I’ll need to do another Galley round and God knows when Amazon will get its act together with this one.

Alright, vent finished.  Now to the actual purpose of this post:

I wanted to just mention some tools I’ve been using that make writing, editing, and selling a better process, in case you’re interested.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions now that my book is coming out, and I’m not sure if everyone knows about these.  They basically make my writing life possible.

Firstly, Amazon has a plug-in for Word that’s free to download that makes it AMAZINGLY easy to format your novel for Kindle publication.  I had heard horror stories about getting this to work and was prepared to spend months formatting, but instead it all went like buttah.  I highly recommend, especially because it’s free.

For the writing of the actual novel, I also recommend Scrivener.  It’s a great program that allows you to draft and drag your novel in pieces so you can manage the flow better as you’re writing.  Even better?  It exports into Manuscript Format, so you don’t have to worry about that jazz yourself.  Totally worth the $45 to to have the program forever.  And if you’re a Nanowrimo winner, it’s just half that.  How can you not buy Scrivener at that price?

Editing?  You can’t go wrong with Auto Crit.  Their software is a little pricey – I shell out for the one that’s just under $30 for the month.  But it’s been INVALUABLE in editing the novel.  It recognizes chapters, analyzes your writing based on its genre, and is altogether wonderful for tightening prose, finding repetition and cliche, and making your work a million times better while keeping it your work still.

Lastly, if you are looking for art I recommend Canva to almost everyone I meet.  They have thousands of free templates for you to use,  let you upload your own images, and even offer the paid stuff at only $1 each.  I end up looking beautifully designed for nothing.  They even have Kindle covers ready to go.

I’m sure there are a million other programs that help a lot with this whole Self-Published Author thing but these are the ones I find I’m using constantly.  Good luck on your own journey.

Categories: Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Writing in 2017, and Nanowrimo

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We’re getting to the end of the year, and I’m starting to think about my resolutions from last year.  Spoiler: I completed almost none of them.  I just found the blog entry that John Scalzi wrote the other day that I thought was incredibly poignant.  And it instantly made me feel less guilty, too. Frankly, he explains it better than I ever could: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/10/02/2017-word-counts-and-writing-process/ 

I thought my lack of production was a little bit of depression, or perhaps I was just in a non-prolific season right now.  After all, you can’t be on-point all the time, right?  Reading Scalzi made me realize that it’s probably not me… and a lot of other people are having this problem too.

I’ve been doing exactly what he says he had been doing.  I’ve been trying to figure out why my system isn’t working and how I can go back to it.  I’ve wasted almost a year on it.  I don’t know what the answer is yet, but I know now that I have to regroup and find a new normal for myself.  The old way isn’t going to work in this climate.  Or, most likely, with baby in tow.

At least I’ve been feeling more like a writer lately. I have to thank the L. M. Montgomery institute for that.  There’s nothing like a deadline and a required bio to get the juices flowing.  I’ve been feeling that soul-itch, too, to put words on paper and make a new thing out of them.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time.  Now all I have to do is come to terms with my less-than-stellar production.

Nanowrimo is gearing up and I want to participate.  I have a 7 year winning streak to uphold, and the knowledge that the biggest writing party on the web is happening and I’m not a part of it is agony.  But this year I’ve decided I’m not writing a new novel from scratch.  I’m writing instead a few short stories for a collection I’d like to put out sometime this year (with the excuse being that I’m learning how to format and upload a Kindle book, in prep for Blue Gentian).  So, 5 short stories in just a few weeks?  I probably won’t make it, but it will be fun to try (and to be able to call myself a rebel for once).

If you’re interested, The book will be called “A Blatantly False History of the World” and will feature the following stories.  Everything with an asterisk is something I still need to write or edit heavily.  The ones with titles have plots.

  1. The Sea – Rome, 73 BC
  2. Ordeals – England, 1490
  3. The Wages of Sin – Plymouth Colony, 1622
  4. *A Stitch In Time – Virginia, 1779
  5. There Must Have Been Some Magic – London, 1814
  6. *Coyote’s Earth – California, 1831
  7. The Call – Arlington, 1862
  8. *Dr. Pragnum’s Restorative Tonic – England, 1896
  9. The Immortals – Italy, 1917
  10. Plenty of Fish – India, 1924
  11. Easterbay – Costal Maine, 1945
  12. *Thunderbird’s Desert – California, 2017
  13. *???

Looking for a Nanowrimo buddy?  I’m Caseykins, and I’ll buddy up right back.  Happy writing if you’re trying it.  And cheers to finding a new normal in this relentlessly stressful world.

Categories: Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Novel Update. Sigh.

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So, how is the novel, you ask?  Sometimes people do ask me, you know.  And I hardly ever answer with the truth, because I would have to say, “Yeah, it’s a mess.”  I’ve broken every resolution I ever made about the thing.

I was supposed to be done with draft 5 before the year turned new again.  I’m 80 pages away, and I can’t seem to make myself charge forward any more.  Why?  I realized that in editing, I edited out all reference in the second part of the novel to one of the main character’s injuries – which was basically the entire premise for the first part of the novel.  It has to be in there.  It has to be.  So I feel like an idiot going blissfully on and still leaving out that important piece.

But re-copying the novel is the best thing I ever decided to do.  Structurally, it’s so much better than it used to be.  And it seems stupid to go back, edit in all the other stuff to add the injury in, and then come to this rough, badly edited piece again.  Would it not be better to just finish re-structuring draft 5 and then edit the injury into draft 6 as a complete draft?  Or would it actually not?  I have no idea.  I’ve never written a novel before.  This is my first one.

This is not the first time I’ve felt like an idiot while writing a novel, FYI.

And the real problem is that the novel is in two parts.  That’s what creates all the angst (and the cheating.  One draft at a time, self).

I was supposed to be reading the manuscript to Brian starting on the first. I realized, though, that I wanted to do another polishing draft.  So instead of working on the end part of draft 5 in December like I was supposed to, I did draft 6 on the first part again.  And then I started reading draft 6 to Brian, who offered excellent suggestions I’m eager to put into practice in draft 7.

BUT I HAVEN’T FINISHED DRAFT 5 YET.

Sigh.  Wrangling myself is like herding cats.   I’ll be buckling down on draft 5 this week, although I don’t really have any hope for myself.  But if you put it on the internet, it HAS to happen.  Right?

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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