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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

One of the writer’s Facebook groups I belong to, Clean Indie Fantasy, is doing #DragonWeek for next week, including a giveaway. (None of my books are in the giveaway, but that doesn’t mean I can’t promote it as soon as it goes live.)

The reason I’m not in the giveaway is that none of my books are really suitable, in my opinion. Yes, dragons do often appear, but they’re generally not central to the story.

  1. In The Bard’s Gift, Astrid misinterprets something in the New World (Thunderbird) as a dragon because that’s the only frame of reference that she has.TheBardsGiftCover
  2. In the Dual Magics Series, Quetza’s avatar is a wyvern, but that only comes up a handful of times.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  3. My only series in which dragons are really prominent is the Chimeria series and that tips over the edge into PG13, so I’ve never included it in anything to do with Clean Indie Fantasy.ChimeriaBox

Dragons won’t have an important part in the BECOME series, either. However, it just so happens that I’m currently working on a scene in which my main character has to fight a dragon.

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I’ve finally gotten through that part of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d already done in first draft.

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The last few chapters are still a bit rough–as rough drafts are apt to be–but I managed to confine myself to only making changes for consistency.

So now, I’m ready to move forward with new chapters and try to actually get through to the end of the first draft. That’ll be fun!

In other news, the audio version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is finally here!

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I’m planning out how to promote that, which will be a new experience for me.

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After spinning my wheels on this for over a week, I finally wrote that new chapter yesterday, in two sittings (only broken up because I had to make and eat dinner).

So, progress is finally being made again on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I’ve also roughed in the idea of another new chapter a little farther down the road, keeping a certain fraternal relationship just a little stirred up.

Now, I need to proceed with the read-through of what I’d already written. And try to force myself to remember that it’s still only a first draft. It’s much too early to start serious revisions. Even though I have a strong suspicion that I’m going to want to cut a lot out of the next two chapters, which I think are slowing the story down. That’s a decision for after I’ve typed “The End”, not before.

Hopefully, now that I’ve got some significant time off, I can make good progress on at least getting the first draft finally done.

Meanwhile, I think I’ve got everything ready to finish getting the boxed set of the first three books of the Dual Magics Series and the short story “Modgud Gold” up for wide distribution when they’re free of Kindle Unlimited next week.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

I put WAR OF MAGIC up on Pronoun yesterday.

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Then I need to plan a promotion for this series. With a little bit of luck, the audio book of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE will be available at the same time. It’s still pending review on ACX.

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Phase 1 is nearly complete. I’ve even had my first non-Amazon sale since 2014. Just a few more minor tasks.

I need to compile the .epub file for BLOOD IS THICKER and upload that to Draft2Digital.

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From there, it’s a simple matter to prepare the boxed set, CHIMERIA OMNIBUS.

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I also need to do one bit of cleanup on THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.

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For some reason I still haven’t figured out, the table of contents in the .epub I uploaded to Pronoun got altered. Their version includes an “untitled” line which seems to correspond to a blank Heading 3. (I use Heading 3 for my revision notes as I work through my manuscript. I delete them as I go. Evidently, in this case, the text was deleted but the style remained.)

Nevertheless, that line is not in my toc, partly because my toc deliberately only goes to level 2. The mystery is how it ended up in Pronoun’s .epub when it is not in the one I uploaded. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them about that in the next few days. In the meantime, there’s no reason not to fix it. It’s just compiling one more .epub.

That’s all the books that can go wide for the next couple of weeks, at least. So, after that, I can work on preparing the others as time allows and, finally, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I have an idea for a new chapter I need to get to work on.

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Well, I published BLOOD WILL TELL widely yesterday,

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so I now have books distributed through both Pronoun and Draft2Digital. No sales on either, yet, but that’s not entirely unexpected. I’ll probably have to run a promotion or two later in the month to get these noticed.

Here are my first impressions:

  1. I prefer Draft2Digital’s interface. Pronoun’s interface is much glitzier, but it feels like it’s trying to lead a novice through this process. As I’m not a self-publishing novice, that’s a little irritating. It’s also not as flexible as either Amazon or Draft2Digital. For example, Pronoun insists that you use all seven keywords. Also all prices will end in .99. (Though Pronoun will allow you to set the book free, which Amazon won’t.) And, for Pronoun, if you want to (or need to) opt out of Amazon, you’ll have to supply the Amazon link to prove your book is already published there.
  2. Pronoun does offer an Author Page, which is very useful, especially since you can’t include a link to your Amazon author page for books that will be distributed through other vendors. And, in setting up this Author Page, you can list other books, currently only published on Amazon (through universal links).
  3. Pronoun tries to be very helpful, though it falls a little flat. When you enter a keyword, Pronoun makes suggestions. As far as I can tell, they’re harvesting similar terms that have been used and trying to suggest the most popular. I can get that from Kindle Samurai, if I choose. And, anyway, the suggestions for my genre were not actually good fits and all seemed to be directed toward specific books–that were not my book.
  4. Also, under the heading of trying to be helpful, I was bombarded with emails from Pronoun–twice before I figured out how to turn it off (I hope)–suggesting that many of my books (all of the Dual Magics series, individually, plus Fire and Earth) could be in Amazon’s top 100 in the Arthurian category. The only problem with that is that none of them have anything at all to do with King Arthur. Not even remotely.
  5. Both Pronoun and Draft2Digital will put out new release emails, which is very helpful.

So, now it’s just hunker down and wait through a pay cycle or two to see how things work out. I’ll go ahead and publish the other book in the Chimeria series, BLOOD IS THICKER,

 

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through Draft2Digital. And explore some of their more advanced options that I haven’t had a chance to look at yet.

And I’ll prepare the rest of the Dual Magics series to go up on Pronoun when they’re clear from Kindle Unlimited. Then, in July, I’ll be able to tackle the rest of my novel-length works and make a decision about the shorter works.

And maybe, just maybe, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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Okay, so far I’ve only tried Pronoun and there’s not much to report there other than I’ve gotten the process down to where it goes a lot smoother, now.

I started with BECOME: BROTHERS.

Brothers

And went on to the first three books in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

Though I haven’t yet put the boxed set up on Pronoun, because the short story, “Modgud Gold” is included in the set and it doesn’t come out of Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited until the 27th. The fourth book in the series, WAR OF MAGIC,

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also can’t go wide until the 23rd, for the same reason. Though I can prepare those files so they’ll be ready to go with little fuss. I’ve barely started that process.

Now, of those, only BECOME: BROTHERS and THE SHAMAN’S CURSE are available anywhere but Amazon, yet. It takes a few days for them to show up on the other retailers. And then I’ll have to rescan the universal links so that they point to all the retailers where the books are available. That takes about a minute, so not a big deal.

Also, I haven’t yet sold any through Pronoun, but that’s not entirely unexpected. It’s going to take time–and probably a bit of promotion–to get discovered on those other sites.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up my refurbish of BLOOD WILL TELL

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with the intention of trying it and the sequel on Draft2Digital. Ultimately, the only way to know which I prefer is to try both, at least through a pay cycle or two. After the initial set-up, switching from one to the other, if that’s what I decide to do, ought not to be too difficult.

My other books are tied up until mid July, because of Kindle Unlimited. So, I’ll have time to work on prepping those. And I haven’t made a final decision about what I’m going to do with the other short works.

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It’s an occupational hazard. We can’t help it. We obsess over things.

I had no sooner pushed the publish button for BECOME: BROTHERS on Pronoun,

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than I noticed I had gotten a three-star review on it on Amazon. And, of course, that makes me all kinds of nervous about this being the book I’m leading off with in going wide.

Now, this isn’t a rant about that review. It’s a fair review, based on that reader’s experience and expectations of the story. And, to be honest, I knew I was taking a bit of a risk leading off with a novella to start an epic fantasy series. That’s not usual. It’s just what seemed to work best for this story, for two reasons.

  • All my attempts to shoehorn this part of the story into the bigger story line just didn’t work and
  • I really believe that the relationship between this brothers is crucial for the main story–which will involve a certain betrayal of the trust they built in this novella.

Fortunately, there’s something I can do about that.

The Dual Magics series will need very little formatting work before I can upload that to Pronoun, too. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE

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will need very little work before I can upload it, too. Really just change the links from Amazon to universal links and a couple of other quick things and then compile the .epub and .mobi files. In fact, as of tomorrow, the first three books in the Dual Magics series will be out of Kindle Unlimited, so I can proceed with that. Though the rest of the series will have to wait until the end of June. Considering that readers on Amazon had to wait a whole year, one month doesn’t seem like it’d be too long.

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Okay, so it’s time the rubber met the road.

The choices for going wide are:

  • Do it myself everywhere. This unquestionably gives me the most control. It’s also the most work–from having to upload to five major platforms, maintain the same changes on all platforms, and deal with accounting from all five platforms. Add to that that it’s very difficult to impossible to get onto GooglePlay this way at all. And, again, very difficult to upload to Apple iBooks at all without a Mac. So, this one’s a non-starter.
  • Smashwords. This one would be easy. About half my books are already there, where I unpublished them when I decided to give Kindle Unlimited a try. Smashwords would get me in everywhere but GooglePlay with one click, plus a host of smaller retailers and potentially libraries (ebooks). But, you can’t get around the meatgrinder. And I’ve been trying to do more professional formatting for my ebooks, most of which would likely be lost.
  • Pronoun. Pronoun currently only distributes to the five biggest retailers–Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, GooglePlay, and Kobo (no particular order, except Amazon is still top dog in this market). They can even get better royalties for ebooks priced outside Amazon’s preferred $2.99 – $9.99 price range.
  • Draft2Digital. D2D distributes to all the major markets except GooglePlay and a few of the smaller ones (though not as many as Smashwords). Unlike either Smashwords or Pronoun, they will pay by direct deposit rather than through PayPal. (I had a bad experience with PayPal years ago and I’ve been a little leery of it ever since. I have an account, but it is very deliberately not linked to my bank account. I’d probably have to change that if I start making more than nominal money in those other markets–unless I use D2D, of course.)

In the end, the only real way to tell is probably to give it a try. So, I started yesterday trying to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

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through Pronoun (because it’ll probably always be priced lower than the level at which Amazon allows 70% royalties–except through Pronoun.) At first, of course, I’d have to publish everywhere but Amazon through Pronoun and eventually switch over there, too.

I still haven’t managed that. A certain amount of reformatting was to be expected. At the very least, I expected to have to remove all links to Amazon. Pronoun wants to supply your title page, copyright page and table of contents themselves. They provide all of six “professional” formats to choose from. None of which really fit epic fantasy and none of them appear to support a two-level table of contents, either. They do, however, allow you to bypass this by uploading your own .epub and .mobi files.

There was an unexpected blip when their processor objected to the file name of the embedded font I used for chapter headings (the same font I used on the cover) because it had spaces in it. With some help from Facebook friends, I got past that. But I have no idea what they are doing–or not doing–with the .mobi file. Only that they don’t acknowledge that I’ve uploaded it–five times–and won’t let me publish without it, even though they won’t be publishing to Amazon through them initially. And, there’s no support until Tuesday, because this is a holiday weekend.

Say what you like about the zon, I don’t care what day it is or what time of day, you can get support from someone. Might not be the most senior person, but there’s someone there. And, once, I had a technical problem with Smashwords on a holiday weekend. I sent an email through the contact form and got an answer from the president of the company, since everyone else was out of the office. So . . . there’s that.

I’m more than a tiny bit frustrated. The next step appears to be to take the next book on the conveyor belt, BLOOD WILL TELL,

Become3

give it that promised brush up, and see what happens with D2D. Then I can fairly make a choice between the two.

At the least, I’ve now got universal links for all my current books. So, I accomplished that much. (By the way, that service, Books2Read, is offered by D2D.)

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I’ve posted before about the complexities added by the order in which individual books can come out of Kindle Unlimited. And boxed sets just add another layer. All the elements of a boxed set have to come out of KU before the boxed set can go wide and the boxed set also has to come out of KU before any of the individual elements can go wide.

As my books begin to come out of their last 90-day enrollment in KU, I have to get serious about planning out a strategy. (To be honest, I’ve been slower than I should be about this. On the other hand, I know I’ve got a couple of months coming up in which I can devote a lot more time to this.)

Looking at things by boxed sets:

  • BECOME: BROTHERS was never in KU in the first place.Brothers
  • Both of the books in my ChimeriaChimeria series are already out of KU. But I want to give these a brush-up before taking them wide.ChimeriaBox
  • Most of the Dual Magics series is also out of KU, with the exception of the final book, WAR OF MAGIC, and one short story that is also included in the boxed set.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  • And the three stand-alone YA novels included in the boxed set BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC are tied up until the boxed set clears on mid-July.By Sword Boxed Set

So, that’s likely the order in which I will tackle this. Chimeria first, then Dual Magics, and finally the three YA novels.

Now, it’s down to deciding on a strategy:

  • Back to Smashwords?
  • Try Draft2Digital?
  • Try Pronoun?
  • Try to do everything individually.

Time to dig more deeply into the pros and cons of each of those choices.

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Right now, I seem to be suffering from a severe lack of motivation concerning my writing. I’m not entirely sure why.

  • It could be the dismal reports from Amazon, lately. If I had any doubt that page flip was eating me alive, this chart put them to rest.Page Reads PercentThat’s page reads as a percent of my royalty income (in the U.S. only). For months the number stayed in a small range. The upward swing corresponds to the release of WAR OF MAGIC.warmagicprintcover Then, after December–when, perhaps, people got new reading devices that were page-flip enabled–page reads from Kindle Unlimited start to drop like a rock. This is why I’m pulling my books out of KU. Yeah, that could have something to do with my motivation.
  • It could be related to the struggle I had finding my way into this story. I still believe in this story, but it’s true that it took me longer and more tries to find a way to tell works–I hope. I tried telling it chronologically, but that just took too long to get to the main story line. I tried using flashbacks, but that was distracting–and still took to long to get to the main story line. I finally settled on starting with the novella to get in the story of the relationship between these two brothers which is going to be important to the rest of the story. But I am still just a little nervous about starting an epic fantasy series with a novella. That doesn’t exactly comport with reader expectations for the genre.
  • Or, it could just be burn out. That happens. The good news is that it’s always temporary. But sometimes we all do need to take a break, even writers.

Or, of course, there’s nothing preventing it from being a combination of all three.

And, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter which it is. What matters is breaking through it. And, one thing I know: the only way to do that is to write.

So, here are my options:

  • Try to power through on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.
  • I have another epic fantasy series on the back burner, currently titled MAGE STORM. It should be a four-book series. I could work on that.
  • Something altogether else, like my Cinderella retelling.

Also, since I’m pulling my books out of Kindle Unlimited, I still need to research exactly how I’m going to go about taking them to a wider distribution.

Then too, because of the complications of the boxed sets, the first books that will be ready to go wide are the Chimeria series.

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But I want to run another editing pass through them first. So, there’s that to work on, too.

Now, all it takes is a bit of discipline to get back on track.

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