Friday, December 8, 2017

Crime at the Holidays

Christmas is the season where we're supposed to be all giving and full of the milk of human kindness for our fellow man.  Unfortunately, there are also shitheads who don't care and make this time of year their hunting season.  And then there are the people who use the stress of the holidays and the imbibing of alcohol as an excuse to commit crimes against other people.

So far this week, right here in the back of beyond, we had a murder in a house I pass every time I go to the park to go fishing.  One gentleman stabbed another repeatedly.  Early reports are that they were friends.  And the gas station, where I fill up my vehicle with fuel and myself with coffee, got robbed by an employee who also had a bunch of drugs in his car.  AND someone busted in the front door of the feed store where I pick up grain for the critters.  Assholes didn't get anything, thank goodness, but still, you really don't expect that shit in the middle of freakin' nowhere.

I assume most of you don't live in the middle of nowhere, though.  You're living in more heavily populated areas and thus must be even more vigilant than my fellow Ozarkians.  (I'm vigilant all the damn time because I have lived in big cities and little cities, burgs and towns and villages and rural locales.  It all made me watchful.)

I watched a video this morning of police officers asking whether a woman had locked her car before going into the mall.  She said 'yes, of course' and then another officer went to her car.  The back door opened right up.  Her alarms went off, of course, but by the time anyone would notice (or care... car alarms go off all the time and no one cares anymore), her stuff would've been gone.

They'll steal stuff out of your car.  They'll steal stuff out of your cart - like your purse, if you aren't paying attention.  They'll steal stuff off your porch...

I saw a report a few days ago of a city's police department leaving fake packages on people's porches around town.  The packages were equipped with GPS tracking, so when the assholes stole the packages, the police could catch them in the act.  Smart.

Anyway, be alert out there.  Stay away from drunks.  You know who amongst your friends and family can't handle their booze and become 'instant asshole' (instant asshole, just add alcohol).  Lock everything, all the time.  If you're having packages delivered, be home.  And if you can't be home, have them delivered to someone you know will be home or at your place of work or to a rented PO Box.

Don't let a criminal ruin your holiday season, okay?  And have as merry a little Christmas as you can.  Or a pleasant Hannukah.  Or whatever.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Early Editing

Good Mornin', Everybuddy,

Since I am editing - slowly, but still - I thought I'd drop some edit notes down for you.

This is for Early Grave...

>> Rewrite beginning. Make stronger.
>> If they're in the common area, Tess can't grab the quilt off a chest.
>> Mr. Harpton?  Ah, the groper.  Make these two separate people.
>> paychecks calling to Tess.
     ^ Not. She's living off inheritance.
> what she suffered through  (Tess
> whether he had any  (he would have
>> Add more descriptors to beg. Ch 2
>> the word of one woman
      ^ Nope. One detective, etc.
>> 13 old people @ 3 facilities?
>> His mother raised him to think
   ^ grandmother
   ^^ fix whole 'mom' thing
> Laurel Matthews?  Corey?
>> pissing contest in the first ten
    ^ make stronger
>> Eva Brown?? Seriously?  (Yes, played with it on purpose later.
>> You mention going to the funerals but never show it.  Why?
>> No page break before Ch4

That's most of the first page of notes - with super spoilery ones left out .  I realize it probably looks weird and isn't very understandable, but you get the gist of what my edit notes to myself look like.  Early on, I don't make a whole lot of notes about grammar.  I'm hitting the high spots on the first run through.  Grammar will come later after I tackle the big stuff - since I will probably insert even more typos and mistakes during the big edits.

Any questions?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The NEW Goodreads Giveaway Program

I got an email this morning from Goodreads with the subject of 'Introducing the New Goodreads Giveaways'.  I almost deleted it as junk mail.  Good thing I didn't.  It's all about the new super-special programs that Goodreads is implementing for giving away books through them.

And it's no longer free.

Starting in January of 2018 - so about 6 weeks from now - you can only give away books if you pay them to hold your giveaways.  Isn't that special?  I know in the email they sound super excited about it.

I remember an old saying and I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember remember it.  "Marketing is telling you to go to hell and making you think you're going to enjoy the trip."

That's about how I'm feeling about the whole Goodreads Giveaway Program this morning.  They've basically told me to go to hell and they're trying to make me think the trip will be super awesome.

Basically, you can get the Standard Plan or the Premium Plan.  Standard is $119 and Premium is $599.  But if you ACT NOW, you can get 50% off, or some such thing.  So, $60 or $300... to give away a book.

I like giving away books.  It makes me happy.  Not $300 happy.  Not even $60 happy.  Lord knows it isn't like I've seen great things come my way because I've given out a book here or there.  I got one review once from someone who won a Goodreads giveaway.  And there's one winner who immediately listed my book for sale on Amazon.  Gnarly.  I'm supposed to pay someone so someone else can get a free book they can then list for sale?  Ummmmmmmm.  No.

Anyway, they can do what they want to do.  It's their business, after all.  I think it's short-sighted and stupid, but I'm entitled to my opinion.  I'll still have my books listed on there for readers to add to their lists.  Until they start charging for that crap.

And yes, I'm bitchy about it.  It's like there a consortium somewhere thinking up ways to make the self-publishing business harder every damn day.

I have a distinct urge to run away this morning.  But it's rainy and cold.  Don't mind fishing in the rain.  Don't mind fishing in the cold.  Cold and rain?  No freakin' way.  I think I'll sort my library this morning and see what needs to be donated to St. Vinny's.

What are you up to today?  Do you enter Goodreads giveaways?  Ever won anything thru there? I have, but it's been a while.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Post Marketing Wrap-Up

Well, the sale for Dying Embers and Fertile Ground ended last night, so it's time to jot down the hard and fast numbers* for that.  Residual sales may make these go up, but I don't expect much in the way of residuals off this. 

Let's just say that while it did go, it did not go as well as I had hoped.

DE and FG were on sale from the 21st thru the 26th.  99 cents each.  I sold 7.8 copies worth of DE and 4 copies worth of FG.  (1.8 of DE sales were KU page reads.)  Net gain was about $9.

I spent $41 on advertising.  :shrug:  That happens sometimes. And sometimes it doesn't.  In September, I spent $28 on advertising and netted almost $90 - with another $60 so far in residual sales.  Different genres, different times of the year, different strategies.  I dunno.

This has been a low sales year overall.  So, my expectations weren't all that high to begin with.  

Anyway, I think DE is reaching a saturation point for the people I'm able to reach.  Everyone in that sphere who'd want it has a copy.  FG?  Well, I can be pretty sure the idea of a book with a serial rapist scares the hell out of people, and there's really no way around that without giving away the whole plot shebang and constant reassurances that I wouldn't be graphic about that kind of thing.  (Or maybe it is the reassurances that are turning people away... I dunno.)

Maybe when I put out the third SCIU book next year sales will go up for the other two.  To that end, Early Grave will be the second book I put out next year.  I have to edit it to a point where I can send it off the AWE (Awesome Wonderful Editor), and she has to finish editing what I have with her now.  So, we'll probably start her on that in February with a potential release date in May or something.

Until then, I'll keep plugging along, advertising as the fundage allows.  I didn't get a bonza return on my investment this time, but I still believe it's worth it. 

*As always, your mileage may vary. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Facebook Marketing

On Monday, I said I might do a post about the various Facebook groups I use to market my on-sale books. 

In no particular order, here are the groups - some are public and some you have to belong to (which means sending a request to the group owners before you post, so no big deal)...

Amazon Kindle Goodreads - "This group is for people who own Amazon Kindle and want to share their recommendations for books they recent read and liked, or chat about their favorite authors etc."

Indie Authors International -  "READERS and WRITERS and ARTISTS from EVERYWHERE, across borders, without barriers. EVERYONE WELCOME."

eBook World -  "This is the group where authors and publishers can share their kindle books.. For promoting kindle books or for reviews exchanging."

Self-Published Crime Fiction Writers -  "Welcome to my group.
I hope I have chosen my first guests well, and that you all enjoy the Crime-Fiction genre.
Here is a place to post any books that you would recommend to your friends of other group members.
If you are an author, you are welcome to join the group and post your Crime Fiction novels here. Please don't spam and please stick to the genre."

Free Kindle Books UK -  "...We constantly search our website for good free books and post any that we find in this group. ..."

Free Kindle Books - "Sharing *free* Kindle (Amazon sites only) books as and when we find them. Get in quick as sometimes the books are only free for 24 hours before they return to paid. ..."

Kindle Unlimited - "Kindle Unlimited is a place for author's to share their kindle books and ebooks and a place for Kindle Unlimited subscribers to find great reads. ..."

I'm sure there are more.  Scads, probably.  But these are the ones I belong to.  There have been varying results, but they're all free so it's not costing me anything but time to post to them, and you never know when someone will see your post and buy.  

As for other marketing with Facebook, I have paid for ads.  Several times.  And I never see a sale directly from any of my paid marketing efforts.  There might be residual stuff from having my book splashed on FB, but nothing I can connect directly - i.e. post ad, see uptick in sales or page reads.  I haven't done one of these paid ads in a while.  It's hard to justify them when I don't see results, ya know what I mean?

I know some of you aren't on Facebook at all.  I understand.  It's a drain. Sometimes it sucks the energy right out of me.  It's definitely a timesuck.  But, like I said, I do see sales without having to shell out any of my tightly squeezed cash.  

Twitter?  I try to avoid it.  Talk about energy-sucking.  Bleh.  But I do have my FB author page feeding Twitter.  Sometimes I even go there and post, but only during sales.  Sometimes I see sales I can directly relate to a Twitter post.  Mostly, though, it's just for the exposure.  

And that's it in a nutshell.  Any questions?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Advertising, Marketing, Etc.

Time again for a discussion on marketing, advertising, marketing venues, etc., ya know, since I haven't done one in a while.  And since I haven't done one in a while, I'm going to start over rather than add to the previous one.  The slate is clean.

Okay, so looking back, I wasn't a good monkey in keeping track of what advertising dollars went to which book.  :eyeroll:  I should fire my marketing manager, but that's me, so...  I've given myself a good talking to and put a note in my file about dereliction of duty.

Here's a basic overview of what information I did put into the spreadsheet and the budget.

Reading Deals - $29.  I paid for an ad in February.  I assume for Dying Embers, since there's a sales uptick for that book in that month.  And I have one coming out this week, also for Dying Embers

Booktastik - $10.  I paid for an ad in February.  Ditto for the book, not ditto for an ad this week. I recall not seeing a lot from this ad, but it could be my memory.

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Bargains - $3/$12.  I paid for an ad in June. I assume for Wish in One Hand, since it was on a free promo.  I saw some sales of the other two books in the series.  And I paid for 4 ads in September.  The 4 ads went much better than the single ad - probably because the single ad was for one book only and the 4 ads were for the whole series.  This really seemed to get me some nice sales for the series.

Author Billboard - $6.  I paid for an ad in September.  Also seemed to see an uptick in sales.  And I have two coming out this week - Dying Embers and Fertile Ground.  Fingers crossed.

ebookdealsdaily - $10.  I paid for an ad in September.  I'm not sure how well this one did, since I was already rolling along from the other advertising when this ad went live.

eReaderNewsToday (ENT) - I tried for an ad in September, but they turned me down.  They did say it was because their newsletter was full for the dates I needed, so that's on me.  I should've planned better.

Which brings me around to this week's ads.  Dying Embers and Fertile Ground will both be on sale starting tomorrow and running through Sunday night - here and in the UK.  Hence, advertising.  I did a sale for AD and NC over Halloween and didn't advertise anywhere but on FB and Twitter (posts only, no paid ads).  I sold a few copies.  I should've advertised, but I put the sale together at the last minute and didn't have time to advertise.  Derp. 

As for Facebook and Twitter.  I've paid for ads with Facebook and really didn't see a return on my investment.  I haven't paid for ads on Twitter.  In FB's case, I see more activity from posting to various groups than anything else.  And I occasionally see activity from posting about a sale to Twitter.  Not huge numbers, but still.

In any case, the more I put my books out there, the more I see page reads in Kindle Unlimited. I think more people are willing to take a chance on a book when they don't have to buy the whole book - like when it's included in their monthly subscription.  Then they start to read and more often than not, they read through the whole series.  I had one person start with Wish in One Hand, read through the series, and then read all my other books one after the other.  It was awesome to watch the page counts roll along in a wave.

A final note to this post.  Recently, Elizabeth Spann Craig did a post on advertising I think y'all should read.  And in it is a link to a list someone else put together of advertising venues.  It's not comprehensive - good lord, there are so many venues, I don't think it could be comprehensive - but it's damn good and it'll save time when you're looking to advertise your books.  Or, hey, if you're looking for books to read, those lists are a gold mine.  Seriously.

Anyway, if you're out there self-publishing your work and wondering how to get noticed and get sales, I highly recommend doing some advertising.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  Of course, the more you spend, the more you can potentially make.  Still, getting the word out there helps.  Maybe Wednesday I'll list the various FB groups I post to for advertising.  And perhaps, if I remember, next week I'll post something about how this week's advertising and sale went.

Hope that helps.  If you have any questions, let me know.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Taking the Plunge

Okay, it's done.  I have sent a manuscript to my editor. 

I'd been playing with the idea of releasing something different next.  One of my dystopian novels.  And I had two books that, in my estimation, were as ready to go as I could make them by myself.  But I couldn't choose.  So, I sent an email to my Awesome Wonderful Editor (AWE), hoping she would make this easy on me. 

She didn't.  She made me choose.  =o\

This is the email that ensued...

GAH!  I've been back and forth, back and forth about this.  Blink or Unequal, Blink or Unequal...  Argh.  If I were to pick one to read, like if someone had a gun to the back of my head and said 'choose one or I'll blow your brains out', I'd probably be splattered all over.  They say if you do eeny-meeny-miney-mo, and then when you land on one, your reaction will determine what your real choice is.  If I eeny and land on Blink, I'm like 'dang, I wanted Unequal'.  BUT if I eeny and end up on Unequal, I'm like 'dang' again.  So, sitting here thinking about which one is probably cleaner, I'd have to go with Unequal - because it was written more recently when I had a better grasp of what I was doing.  But if I think about which one is more important to me, I'd have to go with Blink.  ...
Sooo, the answer is.... I'll email you something later and surprise you.  ;o)
In the end, I chose Blink... err, Blink of an I... which I always refer to as Blink in my head.  It was originally written in 2006, rewritten, revised, edited, etc. and then queried in '08 & '09, then revised some more, critted, etc. until I finally set it aside.  I still love this book and I still believe in this book, so I took the plunge and I'm moving forward with it.

Unless, of course, my editor comes back and tells me it's beyond help. 

Here's the blurb* that once landed me a request for pages from an agent...

A foundling raised in a state home, Mary Jones should be a meek servant under the Union’s dictatorship.  Instead, she has a tendency to wander where she shouldn’t, and this time it’s straight into a forbidden store run by a member of a secret society—The Order, and they need help.  Before she can blink, they decide she’s perfect for a mission they’ve planned for decades.  Now, she can either stay home where the Union Guard already has orders to kill her, or she can escape the city to search for traces of mankind outside. 
If she survives long enough to return, that is. 
Beyond the ravages of a long-forgotten war, she learns freeing her city means eradicating the Union—by herself, if necessary.  When she promised to free her people, though, she never dreamed they wouldn’t want her help.

Here's hoping, with the help of AWE, this will be alive and out in the world next year.

Like I said, it's not my usual stuff - although it does have loads of suspense.  Naturally. 

Anyway, there it is.  I'm taking the plunge.  And just so you know, if all goes according to plan, I'll for sure have a suspense and a paranormal released next year - Early Grave and Sleeping Ugly. And, if I ever get off my ass, a mystery, too - Dennis Haggarty #3.

How about you?  Have you ever taken a plunge where you weren't exactly sure what the outcome would be?  How'd that work out for you?  How worried should I be?  ;o)

*Wow, that blurb blows.  I'll totally redo it before this goes live, but I'll leave it here so you get the gist.