March of Writing Madness

Lately, my writing life resembles the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Not only was January a wasted writing month for me, but we’re well into March and I’ve started taking backward steps in the final work on my romantic comedy. I’m no longer satisfied with the title or cover idea, and I’m having a devil of a time writing a killer back cover blurb. It’s all gone insane.

I’m trying not to get superstitious and consider these setbacks a sign I should set this book aside. After all, I have another book ready for final prep. But it’s not my usual genre and will be published under a pseudonym. So I’d really hoped to get another women’s fiction book out there first, even if it’s a much lighter read than my first two.

The titles The Brevity of Roses and An Illusion of Trust came to me without much of a struggle. They’re taken from lines in the books. But this new book has a completely different voice. Chelsea, my main character isn’t given to deep thinking and poetic language. She wears flip-flops and hoodies and says, “Ohmygod” and “Seriously?” That’s not to say she’s without depth.

Chelsea’s had a bad first year after graduating college. She lost her self-confidence. Now she’s about to lose her independence. But she has a hobby—spying on her new upstairs neighbor Jeremy, a sexy but secretive Brit. Oops … sorry, slipped back into blurb crafting mode.

Anyway.

As usual, it’s my lack of marketing know-how that’s brought me to my knees. Titles and covers and blurbs, oh my. I’ve improved at being able to view my work as a product rather than art, but I still don’t know what words and images will help them sell. (You’d think watching six-and-a-half seasons of Mad Men would have had a positive effect.)

So, I find myself all discombobulated at a time I thought I’d be assured and ready to launch another book. I’ll just have to keep adding to my list of possible titles, hoping one will shoot off fireworks. As for the cover, well, I might have a viable new idea, but I can’t finish it without a title. And I’ll keep moving words in and out and around in the blurb. What else can I do?

I do hope March is working out fantastic for you!

Linda

It’s all about exposure, baby!

Some of you may have wondered why I would give The Brevity of Roses away for two days last week. It was exciting, to be sure. It’s amazing to think that thousands of people can now read it, of course, but that’s not all I expected. I knew the giveaway would increase the book’s visibility on Amazon while it was free, but what about after that period?

Some of you may have wondered why I would give The Brevity of Roses away for two days last week. It was exciting, to be sure. It’s amazing to think that thousands of people can now read it, of course, but that’s not all I expected. I knew the giveaway would increase the book’s visibility on Amazon while it was free, but what about after that period?

I believe Brevity is a good story and its reviews confirm that, but only a limited circle knew about it. People can’t buy a book they don’t know exists. As an independent author, specifically one with no influence or marketing budget, I’ve had a major challenge getting Brevity noticed, so when I heard about the KDP Select program, I had to consider it.

In the first three months after Brevity’s publication, 74% of e-book sales were through Amazon, and that increased to 91% during the last seven months. That fact weighed heavily in my decision because to enroll your e-book in the KDP Select program, you have to remove it from all other distributors. Obviously, for me that restriction was practically a non-factor.

Also, enrollment in the program makes your book available to the Amazon Prime lending library, and each borrow earns the author a percentage of a monthly pool of funds. I would earn less for a loan than for a sales, but far more than zero.

So, did the giveaway give my book more visibility on Amazon? Heck yeah! It rose to #4 on the Kindle contemporary fiction chart. Did the promo result in increased sales after the free period? You betcha! It maintained a rank of #22 in all fiction sales for eighteen hours. It’s also racking up borrows.

From others experience in the KDP Select program, I expect my current sales rank to gradually lower over the next few days, but not return to what it was before the giveaway. As people read Brevity, they’ll tell their friends about it. Some of them will leave reviews at Amazon. Word of mouth will continue to give the book exposure. I deem this experiment a success!

Do you judge a book by its cover?

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, we’re told how important first impressions are. Hmmm. Well, when I scroll through a list of books online, it’s their covers that make a first impression, and I do judge them. If a cover is not well designed, or doesn’t fit the tone or genre of the book, it’s not the best cover for that book.

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, we’re told how important first impressions are. Hmmm. Well, when I scroll through a list of books online, it’s their covers that make a first impression, and I do judge them. If a cover is not well designed, or doesn’t fit the tone or genre of the book, it’s not the best cover for that book.

Do you see that book cover there on the right? It’s about to change, which I guess makes that cover a collector’s item. I designed that cover with my own artwork. It’s not horrid, but it really only makes sense after you read the book. In that sense, it’s a fail. It also doesn’t make the genre clear. Fail. I did the best I could, but I didn’t really understand the job a book cover plays in selling the book.

This is not just my opinion. Four graphic designers told me the same thing. One of those designers is also a friend, and she offered to help. She doesn’t design full time—she’s also an author—but I’d seen covers she designed for herself and others and thought they were all beautiful, so I said, “Heck yeah!”

I’d never worked with a designer before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I confess I’m not always easy to work with. I’m a perfectionist. I worried about how much I might bug her with my nitpicking, but so far we’re still friends. 🙂 Now we’re down to the fine-tuning, and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

The new cover is GORGEOUS!!! She took the two stock photos I selected, added another, and created a cover beyond my dreams. I can’t wait to share it with you.

So tell me:  When you’re faced with a screen filled with small cover images of books you know nothing about, do you judge those books by their covers, or do you read the description of each one?

A necessary diet for this writer

This time last year, I blogged about why it took me so long to get serious about writing. I was preparing to publish my first novel and wondering how many other books I might have already published if I’d started writing sooner. I still think about that, particularly because I’m not a fast writer. Then I get all metaphysical and profess that I will write as many books as I am destined to write.

This time last year, I blogged about why it took me so long to get serious about writing. I was preparing to publish my first novel and wondering how many other books I might have already published if I’d started writing sooner. I still think about that, particularly because I’m not a fast writer. Then I get all metaphysical and profess that I will write as many books as I am destined to write.

Amy J. Rose Davis recently took a vacation from writing and then blogged about her decision to reprioritize. She decided to lower her expectations for her writing, and said, “No, really, this is a good thing. I’m not normally one for lowering expectations, but since I’ve come to realize that I have absolutely no control over the market, I have to focus on expecting the right things from my work.” And what does she feel is the right thing to expect from her work? “I want to bring joy to a few people through my work. I want to make people think. I want to make people clench their fists, laugh, sigh, and weep when they read my stories.”

To that, I say, “Amen!”

The trouble is, I’ve said that more than once, and then I forget my intention. But each time, I hold on to it longer before I read another blog post telling me how to have better name recognition or build more influential relationships or sell more books, which plummets me back into the abyss.

The promotional side of writing for publication is like the relationship between dieting and eating. No matter how much weight you want to lose, you can’t just quit eating entirely—but you can, and have to, reduce your intake. So that’s where I am now, cutting back on those high-calorie You-Too-Can-Sell-a-Million-Copies blogs, articles, tweets, and status updates. Like, Amy, I want to get back to enjoying both my writing and my non-writing lives.

I believe I’ll be a much better writer for it. I know I’ll be less stressed, and that’s always a good thing.

UPDATE: I wrote this post on Saturday night, it’s now Sunday morning, and my husband just told me we need to get serious about marketing The Brevity of Roses! Oh, the irony. He wants me to ask: have any of you authors tried Facebook ads as a marketing tool?

Just say no more!

Publishing The Brevity of Roses was the fulfillment of a dream … and then it became a nightmare. It’s been nine months since publication day, so I’ve had time to gain a new perspective on what I did wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that marketing advice—like writing advice—should never be swallowed whole.

Publishing The Brevity of Roses was the fulfillment of a dream … and then it became a nightmare. It’s been nine months since publication day, so I’ve had time to gain a new perspective on what I did wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that marketing advice—like writing advice—should never be swallowed whole.

Those of you still looking forward to publication are probably working to “establish an online presence” because that’s usually #1 on the advice lists. If you, like me, are not a social butterfly, you’ve probably discovered that being a social media butterfly is no easier. Well, maybe a little easier because you don’t have to worry about your hair and clothes—unless you go all out and do video interviews. In any case, it takes a lot of your time.

While I should have been putting all my time and energy into writing another book, I spent gobs of it on Twitter. Gobs. What did I accomplish? I amassed almost 1,700 followers! YAY—um, no. Most of those followers are other authors hoping to sell me their books. Yes, I have a few friends there. That’s good. That’s also maybe 2% of my “followers”. I don’t think Twitter has helped me sell many books.

I also created a Facebook Author Page. I’ve never really done anything with it. Who am I supposed to connect with there? My target readers? Nope. Haven’t seen any. Mostly it’s authors supporting other authors. That’s wonderful, of course, but I already have that here on my blog.

And I joined SheWrites, Women On the Verge, Google+ and LinkedIn because I was advised to get my name out there. Be visible is the command. And what about Tumblr? Hey, there must be a way to use Pinterest as an author. What next? What next? What next?

How much of the last nine months did I spend writing my next book? Not a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned: I put the cart before the horse. Maybe when I have three or four or five books published (and another nearly ready) THEN I should spend a big chunk of my time “socializing” as an author.

Until then, I’ve picked the single online place where I’m comfortable, which is right here, and I’m letting the rest languish. I’m the real me here. And just being me feels great.

If you’re an author, have you found significant time spent on social media to be a benefit or a drain?