Sunday, October 6, 2013
That was about three weeks ago now. It's been quite a journey, but for the most part, I've been extremely lucky. The first medication that we tried has been working beyond expectations, and at a very low dose. For the first time in years, I wake up and feel like getting out of bed and facing the day; for the first time in my life, I'm driving my car without having flashes of smashing it into a tree, or walking down the street without my brain giving a lovely vision of what it would feel like to step in front of a car.
I've never respected artists who claim that they need to be altered in order to create their art; saying you can't write, or paint, or act, unless you're drunk or depressed or whatever is a crutch, a bullshit crutch. What I am absolutely finding, though, is that I need to access my creativity in a very different way than I did two months ago. Writing around here has ground to--not a halt, but an extremely bare minimum, and for financial reasons, I've needed to focus on the writing that's getting me paid NOW, as opposed to the writing that will hopefully get me paid down the road. I'm still working on Nor, I'm still moving forward with the plans to publish a sequel to Cait's book in the early part of next year, but the timeline may need to budge a bit farther into spring than I'd originally planned.
I'm in the shocking and wonderful position of being in some kind of recovery from the Depression that has characterized the last decade of my life. It's strange and exciting and terrifying. I'm working on it. I'm not giving up. I promise to be here more, and I promise to keep writing Cait's world; I don't think I could stop if I wanted to. But it's a learning process, and it's a process that I thought I'd already been through, so it's rather shocking to go through it again.
Bear with me?
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Saturday, August 31, 2013
In the end, I gave away more than 6000 books over those few days. The Last Dance of Caitlyn Murphy climbed as high as #45 on the over-all Kindle Free list, and was, at different points, #1 on the Horror, Paranormal & Urban Fantasy, and Dark Fantasy free lists. I think that positioning did a lot to drive downloads, as well. I know that when I'm bored with my to-read list, I'll often cruise over to the free bestsellers at Amazon and see what's up there; there's no investment other than time in the book, which makes it a great way to find new authors.
I cancelled the promotion early Sunday morning, because downloads were slowing, and the book was starting to fall down the bestseller lists. I was hoping to see a bounce onto the paid lists, which might drive some sales. Unfortunately, some sort of technical difficulty meant that the book's price didn't shift back. It continued to be free, it continued to not be downloaded, and it wasn't being promoted in any real way at that point. I contacted customer service, who did their best, but it was 24 hours before the price flipped back; at that point, the book had fallen far enough down the free bestseller lists that it didn't hit anywhere on the paid ones, which was disappointing.
Still, I've seen more sales this week than I did the rest of the month. About 30 more people have added the book to their Goodreads lists. I've gotten a couple of really kind comments from new fans of Cait Murphy and Meredith Falls.
So, was the promotion a success? Would I do it again? The answer is a qualified yes. I was pretty disorganized this time around, really just experimenting and seeing what worked. If I were to do free days again, I would probably only do 3, and I would do a better job of focusing my marketing appropriately. But still, book is on something like 6000 kindles that wouldn't have found it before, and that's wonderful.
Next up: my wonderful husband turns thirty-something on 9/5; I'm going to do a one-day sale at $0.99. This means changing over to 35% royalties instead of 70%, but I'll be interested to see if I can drive some sales with an email promotion.
One of the most interesting things about this whole self/indie-publishing gig is having to wear so many hats. I was actually pleased to get my first really negative review on Amazon the other day; as one of my friends pointed out to me, she doesn't buy things that don't have negative reviews as well as positive ones. Negative reviews show that an author is letting the book out of their closed circle of cheerleaders, and is allowing it into the world. And that is a good thing.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
One of the things I read about a lot, when I was trying to decide the most viable way to self-pub The Last Dance of Caitlyn Murphy, was the Kindle Select program, and the built-in free promotion days. Since I got my Kindle last year, I've regularly cruised the free lists in my favorite categories -- YA, Horror, Fantasy, Thriller -- and downloaded anything that looks even remotely interesting. These downloads go into a special collection on my Kindle, and when I'm not in the mood for anything in particular, I tend to open that collection, and read whatever has the best looking cover. It's a great way to cruise for new authors without making a huge commitment.
What I also found, as I cruised the blogosphere, was that many authors deliberately made their book free for a length of time, and then when it stopped being free, they found that their sales increased, because they were on the bestseller lists, and had visibility that they would not have had otherwise. I signed up for Kindle Select in part because I wanted to give this a try.
My first free promotion was really badly organized; I'm not going to even try to pretend. I changed the start date a couple of times while I tried to decide on the best method moving forward; I wasn't careful enough about what lists I used to promote my free book. A large number of my downloads came from Facebook; fewer came from Twitter than I'd hoped. In the beginning, I scheduled myself for 5 free days; I ended the promotion about a day and a half early because the book was starting to slip back down the bestseller lists that it had climbed the previous days.
My peak: #1 on the Dark Fantasy and Horror genre free lists, #2 on the Paranormal Free list, and #45 in the Kindle Free list.
I think the book could have gone higher, but I didn't pay enough attention to the promotion I scheduled for Saturday and Sunday; while that particular media buzz went out to a large number of people, it didn't make mention of the fact that the book was free, and the downloads started to drop off rapidly (although I still saw more than 1000 downloads based on that promotion).
What I did right:
- Paid promotion. Just telling your Facebook friends isn't enough to crack the Kindle Free list anymore, not unless you're already Joe Konrath. And even he continues to use paid email lists.
What I would do differently next time:
- Use different promotions. Lendle and Facebook did extremely well for me; the other email list I submitted to did not. I will be more careful next time about making sure I'm using lists which will point out that the book is FREE, because let's face it, that's what gets people clicking.
- Start the promotion earlier in the week, Tuesday or Wednesday, and have it end on Friday, rather than starting on Thursday and ending on Monday.
All in all, I've given away 5000+ books this week. It's been added another 10 times, I believe, to Goodreads shelves, and I've gotten a couple more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads each. I'm waiting for the price to revert to $2.99 to decide what my "final" numbers are, and to see where I am on the bestsellers list after that.
In other writing world news, this was the perfect week to do this, since I strained my back on Monday, and have been highly medicated since. Sitting up in a chair really only became possible yesterday, so writing has mostly fallen off the grid. Good time to rest up and obsess about sales figures!
Saturday, August 10, 2013
The fourth book in the series, Here Without You, released on Tuesday, and after some soul searching on Twitter, I took a break from Joe Hill's wonderful NOS4A2 to see what in the world Reid and Dori were going to get up to this time.
My god, what an excellent book. I reviewed it on Goodreads, but I needed to say here, too -- Webber is so. darn. good at what she does. If you haven't tried this series yet, you should. They're priced very well for your edevice of choice, and they're quick reads, but the stories stick with you. I love them. Absolutely love them.
Here Without You by Tammara Webber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've always said I would never need a man, and no boy would ever save me.
I was wrong.
This is the fourth book in Tammara Webber's Between The Lines series of new adult contemporary romances. I read the previous three all in a rush last fall into the new year, and I loved them. One of the magical things about Webber's writing is the way she gives me serious, legitimate reasons to hate a character, and then turns that on its head, turning those same issues into reasons that I sympathize and root for the same character. It's not a love-to-hate thing; I plain love them.
I went into this book excited to read more about Reid and Dori; I was a bit trepidatious about how the baby that Brooke had given up, that Reid was finally considering as his own, was going to figure in to the story. Let me be clear; I don't read books about adoption, or adoption characters; too many epicfeels. If I had realized ahead of time how much of the story would be on that topic, I might have been ... concerned about reading it. I'm so glad I didn't notice, because Webber handled this, as always, with a deft and careful hand. I completely believed every word of the story.
Great, great books, I highly recommend every one of them. This one is perhaps a bit less sexy, a bit less romance-y than the other three, but it's wonderful.
View all my reviews
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I have found myself in a lovely, delicious fog since Sunday when I (or, more specifically, my 5 year old, at my direction), pushed the button that turned The Last Dance of Caitlyn Murphy into a published book. I've been tweeting and facebooking and generally trying to get the word out there, to my friends and loved ones and then (I hope!) beyond them into the wide world.
It's interesting, no longer having control of the world of Meredith Falls. I can't wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly decide to make a change to the ending, or add a detail to Eli's history, or -- well, anything. I mean, I could publish a new edition, but that would be a bit gauche, four days after the initial publication date.
The folks who've read it so far have been incredibly kind and wonderful, and that's great. They all have one question to date: when can I read more? And that's a lovely thing to hear as a writer, absolutely wonderful.
The answer, though, is that I don't quite know yet. I know there are more stories about Meredith Falls to write -- if I could be so presumptuous as to compare myself to one of my heroes, I would love to create a series of stories not unlike Charles de Lint's Newford books, where the same characters wrap around and through, but it's the town that is really the constant -- but what happens next to Cait, and Eli, and Wes? To Shannon? To Mrs. Dennis?
I don't know. If those stories carry on from here, I haven't seen into them yet, although I joke with my friend B that I'm going to set Cait's sequel, if there is one, in DC, and crash with her for three months while I write it.
There's a book I drafted last year that needs some heavy duty edits, and a book that I'm maybe halfway through writing now that needs to be finished and edited. The interesting thing is that I feel inspired now, courageous. I feel like I did after my daughters were born -- like I can accomplish anything.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
One of the things I hear a lot in self-publishing circles is "You'll think differently about DRM when you're the publisher." This annoys me to no end; it's as lousy as when parents say to non-parents, "You don't understand because you don't have kids." Even if it's true, it's the lease helpful thing to say. Basically ever. It sets up an us-and-them dichotomy that's shuts down all further conversation.
I've been my own publisher for three hours now, and so far, I'm not upset about my choice to not put DRM on The Last Dance of Caitlyn Murphy. Here's why I made the choice I did.
Amazon, through Kindle Select, offers self-pubbing authors by far the best financial terms that are out there. Going that direction is a no-brainer...except that not everyone in the world has or wants a Kindle. A couple of my friends are early adopters, who have older ereaders that use epub files; a couple of my friends are AppleHeads who don't like the Kindle app (and, having used it, I can't blame them). Selling the ebook without DRM means that it is only available form Amazon, but once it has been purchased, you can convert it any way you want.
But what about the pirates, right? Here's the deal. DRM is crackable. Easily crackable. Google instructions on breaking DRM, and you will see how frightfully easy it is to defeat. People who WANT to pirate stuff are going to. Period. All that DRM does--and I mean ALL-- is inconvenience legitimate buyers who don't want to go through the effort.
John Scalzi was the first major author I'm aware of to release a book without DRM last year. He wrote a great blog post about what he hoped people would do with the book, which I agree with. If you've downloaded Last Dance and want to put it on every device you own? Go for it. It's a party. But it would be awesome if you'd treat the digital file like you would treat a physical book. Loan it to a co-worker, not 50,000 of your best friends online, you know?
Because the truth of it is, if you like the book, I hope that you'll want to read more. I'm going to write forever, there's nothing that would stop me, but the editing--the editing, that part I do for pay.
The Last Dance of Caitlyn Murphy is now available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon. The print edition should be coming online in the next few days.