Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Look what came today:


The proof of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM. The pre-order is live already (for only 99 cents) and the paperback will be published (hopefully) after I check over the proof.  Oh, and the first book of the two-book series, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING is reduced to 99 cents, too.


Next up is to start getting the word out. And moving my brain into a new story. Most likely MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

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I will be working on figuring out keywords for some time, I’m increasingly sure. In my last post, I mentioned making a couple of changes to my keywords. It’s still really to early to tell whether that had any impact–though my sales have gone up this week. There’s some reason to think it had nothing to do with the keywords. Still, at least it’s a change for the better.

The change I made was to pick out my two lamest keywords for each book–and lame is the only word I can think of to describe some of them–and replace them with NobleBright or Noble Bright (to cover both possible spellings).

Why’d I pick that? What is this NobleBright?

Well, NobleBright, like its opposite GrimDark comes originally from the world of gaming, from which it cross-pollinated over to books.

In GrimDark fantasy, the setting may be more . . . grim. More importantly, the characters are mostly out for their own self-interest–material or personal gain or revenge. More like the characters from some Sword and Sorcery than like classic epic fantasy. G. R. R. Martin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series (more popularly known as GAME OF THRONES) is a pretty good example. Quite a lot of recently published–especially traditionally published–fantasy partakes of at least some of this.

NobleBright fantasy may–or may not–have a setting that is less grim (some have coined the term NobleDark for that), but the main attribute is that at least one of the principal characters acts out of noble motivations.

There’s an argument to be made that GrimDark is more realistic and more accurately portrays what a medievalesque world would have been like. I won’t dispute this. I will say that if I want reality, there’s 24/7 news on cable TV.

I think there’s a much better argument–perhaps especially in our current world–for stories about characters who behave more nobly. For characters who just maybe make us aspire to be better and to make the world better.

In any case, that’s the kind of story I write. So, maybe they’ll find a better and bigger audience with those keywords. I can hope.


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Well, while going through all ten of my previously published books during the transition from CreateSpace to KDP Print, I realized something. I’m really, really bad at keywords. I mean, pitiful. Part of the reason for that is that I can’t ever recall searching for fiction with a keyword. Non-fiction, yes. But . . . that’s just not how I find my next read. So I haven’t given it the attention that I possibly should have. That’s something I can–and should–do something about.

I’ve bought one e-book on the subject and started working through it, but I’m not entirely sold on the methodology. The method proposed is cheap–well, unless you count the opportunity cost of the time spent on it, anyway. And it sounds reasonable, but . . . .

The method so far–caveat, I haven’t finished the book yet–consists of making an exhaustive list of possible keywords or phrases and then searching to determine 1) how many other books turn up on that keyword search and 2) what the sales ranking of the top paid book on the list is. The idea being that if there are fewer results, a given book will have less competition and be more likely to place highly–on the first or second page–of that search. And that if the top sales rank is good, that might be a worthwhile thing to do.

I see several problems with this.

  1. It doesn’t account for the fact that some keywords–though they may be horrible as search terms–are necessary in order to place a book in a certain category. On Amazon, there are some sub-genres that can only be accessed through specific keywords. For example, you can’t choose to put a book in the Sword and Sorcery category directly. It’s necessary to use either “sword”, “sorcery”, “magic”, “dragon” or “quest” as a keyword in order to place a book in that sub-genre. And those keywords should probably be avoided if a book doesn’t belong in that category.
  2. It takes a heck of a lot of time. Time I could be writing.
  3. If my list of possible keywords is still awful, will this actually return the best results? Or only the least bad?
  4. Some keywords are just going to return things that really aren’t direct competition. For example, if I use Hercules as a keyword for BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, which is an epic fantasy inspired by the legend of Hercules but not a retelling, StormCover2I’ll get results from books on mythology, other fantasy stories that are more literal retellings of the legend, and, interestingly, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery series.
  5. It doesn’t–as far as I’ve gotten, anyway–account for how many people are using that keyword in their search. That top-rated book may be getting found in some other way entirely.

This last makes me think of one of my books, THE BARD’S GIFT (which I usually refer to as TBG).


TBG is deliberately placed in one of those sub genres that has to be accessed by Keywords. In this case, that’s Kindle ebooks–>Teen and Young Adult–>Science Fiction and Fantasy–>Fantasy–>Myths and Legends–>Norse. As of this morning, TBG was ranked 105 on this list.

This category has only 595 entries and the top book in it has a very, very good sales rank. Now, TBG, at 105, is not on the top 100 list. But it is in the top 20 percent. Now, the thing about TBG is that I have sold 251 copies since it was published in 2014. Not exactly my top seller. I haven’t checked it’s exact sales rank, but I think it’s safe to assume it’s not a good number. This suggests to me that an analysis based solely on number of entries and sales rank of the top entry is . . . insufficient.

Nothing to do but keep trying, I guess.

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I’m currently working on getting the back matter links in my other published works updated for the link to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, at least on the Amazon versions.


It’s fiddly little housekeeping stuff–which tends to mean that I do a book or two and then go off and do something else. But it needs to be done.

It also serves as a nice buffer before I turn back and start the polishing edit on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. The revisions are done, but a few days of not looking at it will help me come back to that with fresher eyes.

At some point soon, I’ll have to go back and do the same for the those books that have also been published through Draft2Digital. Which, thankfully, isn’t all of them. The reason I’m not doing that at the same time I do the Amazon book–besides saving my sanity–is that I would like to include a link to D2D’s author page, which is a relatively new feature. 

First, I’ve been trying, off and on, to clean up that author page. See, D2d creates the page, allowing the author to edit only certain portions. Well, so does Amazon, come to that. But, while Amazon’s author page isn’t exactly the way I would have done it,  there’s nothing there that I really object to. (If I’d done it, I would have put the series books together and in series order, for example.)

I couldn’t say that for the D2D author page, though. See, their author page draws it’s content from both D2D and books2read (same company), which is actually good. It means they also pick up the books that are currently still exclusive with Amazon. But, there’s a hitch–or three.

The first is that if I’ve already created a custom link for a book on books2read before publishing it through D2D, D2D apparently creates a whole new link on books2read. Which means many of my books were listed twice. I think I’ve got that mostly fixed, although some (but not all) of the Dual Magics books appear both in the series group (which is a nice feature) and mixed in with the non-series works in the bottom row. I haven’t figured out how to fix that one yet. Not a deal breaker, but . . . .

I really like the series feature, especially since it puts the books in the right order. (Everything else is alphabetical.) But D2D only knows which books belong in the series based on the information provided when a book is published through D2D. Which means, for example, that there is no series grouping for the BECOME series, yet. I will be publishing BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING through D2D when I have a final version. But I won’t be able to publish BECOME: BROTHERS on D2D until it’s exclusive term on Amazon ends at the end of June.

It also means that I can’t get “Becoming Lioness”, which is a Dual Magics short story, in the Dual Magics group. Because “Becoming Lioness” is still exclusive with Amazon and has to stay that way. Because it’s included in BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC, which is a boxed set of three stand-alone novels that I’ve left in Kindle Select, for now.

But the real kicker is the one I’ve just run across. I can’t find anyway to get an external link to that author page that I can share with readers, like the one above for Amazon. Which kind of defeats the purpose of having an author page. I’ve sent an email to books2read, which is where I have to go to access the author page (took a while to figure that out).

So, that’s on hold, for the moment. No point in updating the books twice if I can help it.





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So, I have a new deadline. When I raised my head out of first draft mode and started working on revisions to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING,


I realized something. I have five of my books–including the prequel novella to the BECOME series–scheduled for a group promotion over the first weekend in May–a May the Fourth promotion, as in “May the Fourth be with you.”

And that is a perfect time to start getting a little promotion for this next book, specifically by getting buy links for it into my other books–especially the ones in the promotion. Now, fortunately, that doesn’t mean that I have to have all the revisions done. I can get a buy link by putting it up for pre-order. And I always planned to have this book out around May or early June at the latest, anyway. That’s way sooner than the 90 days Amazon permits for a per-order.

What I do need to do is get a really good feel for how long I think these revisions will take and add a bit of cushion, plus the ten days Amazon insists the final version be uploaded before publication. The best way to do that is to get as far as I can in the next week or so. Because I will need a little time to revise my other books to include the new buy link. And I will have to set the release date when I set up the pre-order.

Just in case you’re interested, these are the books that will be free from May 4th thru May 6th:

Because of the complexities of making a book that’s published wide (rather than exclusive to Amazon) free, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is already free.

So, back into the revisions trenches for me.

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I still hope to finish this chapter of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM soon.


Probably not today, but hopefully tomorrow so I can move on to the read-through and revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.


But I’ve had some of those other authorly things to take care of this week, too. When I started, last spring, to publish my books more widely than just to Amazon, I used Pronoun as the distributor for the DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

And Pronoun closed down on January 15th. The plan was to start up a newsletter, which I’ve procrastinated on for years, but I really, really need especially to assist in marketing the audiobook version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. And then add the subscription link to the back matter of the books before I redistribute them through Draft2Digital.

But, I keep running into things I need to take care of first before I can finish setting up the newsletter. So, two things:

  • I’m going ahead with the publication through Draft2Digital. I’ll just have to upload a new file when I get everything together–eventually. It’s not that big a deal. I’ve been doing one book a day. By Saturday, I’ll have the series, including the short story “Modgud Gold” republished through Draft2Digital.
  • I also need to prep a short story to use as a subscriber incentive. The problem there is that I haven’t written very many short stories–I’m just more comfortable writing at novel length. And most of the ones I have written have been published. However, I do have one–“Infected With Magic”, which I haven’t published mainly because it’s the germ that started MAGE STORM (which will be my next epic fantasy after I finish the BECOME series). And it’s probably my best short story. It was good enough to earn an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future in 2011. But, of course, that means that I need a cover for it, and at least read it through again, and formatting. And all of that before I can try to finish up the setup for the newsletter. Which is partly why I decided to just go ahead and the get the books out wide again.

And, of course, all of that takes time away from the writing.

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Okay, so I took a little break from the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING


to work on the blurb for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.


Here’s the old blurb:

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the vengeful shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. In his isolation, Vatar finds some comfort in daydreams. He knows the strange girl he sometimes imagines is just that–a dream. She’d better be.

Because, if she’s real things could get even worse for Vatar. The accepted magic of Vatar’s plains tribe wouldn’t enable him to see or communicate with a girl he doesn’t even know–or know where to find. That would be more like the magic passed down in certain, closely-guarded bloodlines among the ruling class of the coastal cities. And that’s bad. Very bad.

Unlike their own, Vatar’s people think the city magic is evil. If the shaman ever found out, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy.

The two kinds of magic have always been separate. Until now.

It focuses a little too much on the girl. Not that she’s unimportant–far from it. But, it doesn’t exactly communicate that this is the first book in an epic fantasy series.

Here’s the new one:

The two kinds of magic have always been totally separate. Until now.

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. He’s forced to flee his home, at least until the shaman’s thirst for revenge cools.

Taking shelter with his mother’s people in one of the coastal cities, Vatar learns more than he bargained for. He agreed to learn to work iron and steel, but he never suspected to find a magical heritage as well.

And that’s a problem. A huge problem. Because unlike their own Spirit magic, his people regard the city magic as the work of Evil Spirits. If the shaman ever found out about this, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar.

And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy and win more than his freedom.

I’m sure this one is still far from perfect. But it hopefully does a better job of communicating what kind of story this is.

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