Working Season from September to June

I’m at a crossroads. There are several options on the table, and I’m not sure which to take.

The question that has badgered me all summer is: What do I focus on between September and June?

More clearly put: What do I focus on in these 10 months to either deliver me to or reduce the distance between where I am and where I want to be?

Part of getting there is increasing my income. Writing alone won’t do it, so I’m looking for a full time job. Apparently, everyone is looking for workers because workers aren’t returning, so getting a job shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Working 20 to 40 hours a week reduces my computer time, so that means focussing on what is vital to my writing and publishing.

Setbacks

We all have them. It’s how we respond to them that matters. On the morning of Sunday August 21st, I turned on my computer and received this message: I am dead.

Okay, it wasn’t that exact message, but the meaning was the same: the hard drive was dead. My last major backup was in late April. However, I backup current files I’m working on, such as the novel I completed only two weeks earlier, through other means, so that and a few other files were saved. But the book covers I was working on were lost.

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Kindle Create Issues

On April 1st, I wrote a post about using Kindle Create for the first time. You can read it here: Using Kindle Create to Create eBooks.

The first eBook I formatted with Kindle Create came out exactly as I thought it would. At all stages, the formatting was what I made it to be. There were no surprises. I even bought the eBook as a customer would and opened it with my Kindle App for laptops. All was well.

Yesterday, I used the program to format the eBook for The One We Forgot to Love by Sandy Totten. She hired me to create it and while I could have manually made the eBook, I decided to use the program because it had a few features that made formatting easier and the text more pleasing to the eye.

One benefit of using this program is, the eBook is live within hours, not days. In truth, I usually see an eBook live within 24 hours, but I think it can take up to 72 hours.

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Business with Small Presses

In an effort to grow my Quarter Castle Publishing business and publish books by more authors, I’m looking for help from authors who have been published by small presses. I want to be fair to authors while still being able to operate a successful publishing company that can expand and stand on its own two feet without government assistance.

I have never received nor will I ever request any money from government sources to publish books. You’ve seen those little notes of acknowledgement in the front of books, where publishing companies thank the government for funding. Getting  money from government means following their rules and fitting into their mould. Government money always comes with strings, and I don’t want them.

As more manuscripts arrive in the proverbial ‘slush’ pile and my assistant and I review them, I’m thinking about contracts, treating these authors with respect and wondering how their stories will perform.

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“The One We Forgot to Love”

This afternoon, I met with local author, Sandy Totten. She contacted me the last week of January about her book, The One We Forgot to Love and hired me to walk her through the steps of publishing it. I also edited the manuscript and designed the cover and interior.

The proof arrived from Amazon yesterday (Tuesday), so we got together to discuss it. She had ordered the book last Wednesday. That is the fastest delivery time I’ve ever seen with KDP Print. CreateSpace used to be this fast, but I thought that luxury was gone when KDP Print took over. I was wrong. At least for this shipment.

The One We Forgot to Love Description

Will a mother’s love save her family or destroy it?

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Writing for Free Doesn’t Earn a Living

This post was inspired by Judy Penz Sheluk’s comment on my previous post: My Free Book Promotions on Amazon are Over.

Judy’s Comment

I will not give my books away for free because people do not value free. And I worked 100s of hours to write a book. If someone doesn’t feel that’s worth the price of admission, then I don’t want them in the room. Glad you’ve come around.

My Response

I agree, Judy. The majority of people do not value free. There are a few who will, but the exceptions don’t change the rule. I hadn’t done a free book giveaway for a few years. In January 2021, the promotion came to mind, so I did it even though it didn’t feel comfortable.

Why I Did the Promotion

In the countless marketing articles I’ve read in the past 12 years, the majority of them spoke about how wonderful these giveaways were on Amazon. There were many advantages, including getting reviews.

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My Free Book Promotions on Amazon are Over

Why are my free book promotion days over? Because of this review for Northern Survival:

1 Star: Am I missing something?

Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2021

I’m having a very difficult time relating to all these positive reviews. I made it to page 52 and gave up on these two thoroughly obnoxious characters and gave up on the book. Thank goodness I didn’t pay for it.

Amazon Review
Northern Survival

My last free book promotion took place in January 2021. When I saw this review, if I could have kicked myself in the behind, I would have. I had seen reviews like this for other books, and I always thought, “Beggars can’t be choosie. You got the book for free. Why are you so ungrateful.”

The one-star review doesn’t bother me. Not everyone is going to like my book. That’s a given. Pick any big-name author or popular book with thousands of 4 and 5-star reviews, and you’ll find one-star reviews.

The problem is this little phrase: “Thank goodness I didn’t pay for it.” That grinds my bones. However, the lesson has been learned. I will NEVER again put my books up for free. This will prevent this phrase from ever being added to another review.

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KDP Print Introduces Hard Cover Books

A few weeks ago while signing into KDP, a new feature caught my eye: hard cover books in beta testing. Finally. I’ve been waiting for this for a few years. If you publish your books through KDP, you now have three options to choose from: eBook, paperback and hard cover.

While many still create their books only as eBooks, they should reconsider physical books because that’s the only way some people still read. I’m one of them.

Giving a reader options, possibly one other writers don’t provide, may result in a sale.

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“Northern Survival” Sales Update

Just over a year ago, I launched Northern Survival. It was the first book in the Laced with Romance Collection. Sales were extremely well during the last four months of 2020. This was due to the high number of promotional ads bought. I did a lot of promotions, both paid and free. It was the first time I had money to invest in marketing, and it definitely paid off.

In total, I spent $275.42 in marketing this one book. It was all focussed on the launch months: September, October and November. I’ve spent nothing since, and still this book sells on average 5 copies a month (either paperback or eBook) and has a minimum of 5,000 pages read in the Unlimited Kindle program. I earned back the money spent on promotions by the end of November.

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Results for January FREE Book Promotion

My survival and adventure laced with romance novel Northern Survival has done quite well since it’s release in September 2020. I’m using this book as my flagship. It’s a quick read, contains all the elements most of my novels do (survival, adventure, romance) and has been well received by readers.

For the next couple of years, I’m going to focus my promotions on this book to introduce Diane McGyver to new readers, who will hopefully check out my other books. My philosophy at this time is to have one book promoted like crazy that does excellent and leads to my other books instead of spreading my energy thin to promote multiple books. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the three months it has been available, Northern Survival has sold (as of December 31, 2020) 498 copies and the number of pages read by Kindle Unlimited Members is 21,441 (x $0.0045 = $96.48). Since the book is about 200 pages, that’s about 107 copies read, give or take. Several readers may have read only part of the book and lost interest or was distracted by life.

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Starting a Self-publishing Career from Scratch

Every other week or so, a writer contacts me and asks how I do something or where to find information in regard to self-publishing. Often, these are writers who have been writing for a long time but have never entered the publishing world either traditionally or non-traditionally.

Sometimes they ask a question I can answer in one sentence. Other times, I can go to my website – this website – find the post or page on which I discussed that topic and send the link. Still other times, they have many questions. I try to answer the best I can, but my time is limited, and I can’t spend an hour crafting an email with links and details.

An hour to write an email? Yes, because I double check information or I find a reference to it on the web to ensure that information hasn’t changed and to provide a place where they can learn more. Then I read it carefully a few times to ensure I’ve said things properly, didn’t leave out a word and included everything I wanted to say.

It’s Already Online

The truth is, most of the information I provide is already on the web. Many times it’s on my website because, believe it or not, on January 3, 2021 (The First Step in Blogland), I mark ten years in blogland, and I’ve written about every step from writing that first draft to getting that published book in hand.

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Which way do we direct traffic for the best long-term results?

the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes Diane McGyverWhile I’ve generally thought about this over the years, in the past two months, I’ve thought about it a lot.

  • In which direction do I direct traffic?
  • How many directions do I want that traffic to go?

We all have 24 hours in the day, and with busy lives – such as writing that next book – we want our time spent marketing our books to be efficient and effective. We get bonus points if we do one action for a book and it has a ripple effect for other times during the book’s life cycle and for our other books already published and books we will publish.

When it comes to book sales, when books are reduced to entice readers to buy, obviously, we want to direct traffic to the sale page, be that Amazon or another vender, so a click or two later, the book is sold.

But what about other times, when we want to do a simple share of the book and/or its information with the hope of someone buying it? And what about times we want potential readers to learn more about what we do and what we write in general with the hope they will one day buy a book?

This has me thinking long and hard about the many websites appearing in my radar these days.

For example, when I placed a promotional ad for Northern Survival with Awesome Gang (See warning about this site on my Promotional Sites page), the operators of this site suggested I complete an interview and share it with my readers to help promote the book.

After I submitted the interview, I asked myself: Why would I spend my time and my space on my social media platforms to send traffic to Awesome Gang to read my thoughts? Why wouldn’t I send them to my website, where they will not only read my thoughts today but see my past thoughts and my books and, if they like my material, follow me where long into the future, they’ll see what I’m doing? Better to do that instead of sending them to Awesome Gang where they’ll see that one interview frozen in time and nothing more…except what Awesome Gang has to offer.

This is exactly what Awesome Guy wants – for others to share news about them. It’s why they offer the free interview space.

Also, I ‘hired’ them to promote my book, not for me to promote them. My money should go towards them directing readers at my books and my site.

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Update on Marketing Blitz and Why it’s Not Here Yet

It’s been a busy two weeks, and this past week has been challenging and unpredictable. So, the update for my marketing campaign for Norther Survival will not appear today. Here’s why.

Pickiness and Thoroughness

Northern SurvivalI’ve been reviewing the details of the ads, the results and the ‘companies’ selling the ads. It’s taken longer than I thought because I’m being overly picky and thorough. If I take the time to do this right, I will have a good resource to refer to with future book launches.

The list of online ‘companies’ that provide ads will benefit me and you because I’m creating a page (Promotional Sites) on this website to help others find places to promote their books.

More Promotions for Northern Survival

To keep this book in motion and to get it in front of new readers, I’m planning a short marketing blitz between November 16th and 20th. At that time, the $4.99 price will drop to 99 cents. I’ve already had confirmation on five paid ad sites, and I’m working on a few places to get the book where it won’t cost a dime. So this week, I’ve spent about eight hours looking for new places to promote the book and submitting it for consideration.

During this 90-day stint at KDP Select, I can’t offer a Count-down Deal because I’ve already offered free days for the book, so I’ll manually change the price to 99 cents and claim only 35% of royalties instead of the preferred 70%. I won’t use the final three remaining free days. My free days for this book are done. However, when the next KDP Select stint begins, on November 22nd, I’ll wait the 30 days and execute a Count-down deal.

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Seeking ARC Readers for “the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes”

I mentioned Booksprout in my Marketing Northern Survival Sunday Update #2. I stated I had never heard of or used the service before this date. Wanting to give this service an opportunity to see what it could do, I uploaded a copy of the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes (PDF and Mobi formats).

Unlike Northern Survival, this is truly an ARC (advanced reading copy), and I’m sure when the paperback is reviewed when it arrives in two weeks, I’ll find things I need to correct and want to change. Keep this in mind if you decide to participate.

A few organic copies will be snatched up, but I’m interested in seeing if I can generate more interest by promoting the service and book. There are only 20 copies available.

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A Busy Spring and a Book Launch Sale

I can’t get over how busy the past four months have been for me. While I have been writing a little, editing a lot and formatting books, an equal amount of time (if not more) has been spent offline, away from the computer.

Life is going in the direction I had planned, so I’m far from complaining. However, I am rethinking a few things I had planned.

For instance, I wrote two short novels last year, both under 70,000 words. They were not fantasy and because of advice from other writers and Amazon’s algorithms, I had decided to publish these and others of similar fashion under a new pen name. Of course, a new pen name would create a few challenges of its own, but I was prepared to tackle them.

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Safeguarding Our Personal Treasures Before and After Death

One of my genealogy columns published over the summer was titled There’s No Guarantee in Life or Death. It’s about wills and estates, something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past six months because my mom is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m thinking about my final wishes more than hers (hers are taken care of) and wondering what mess I might leave my kids to sort through. I’m also wondering about the things I value, such as my genealogy research and the books I’ve written, and who would appreciate them most.

“In these days where diseases, such as dementia, are on the rise, I believe it is less likely the well-thought out plan for estates will be executed.”

Why? Because a person’s ability to control their affairs and stuff while they’re still alive becomes almost impossible when diseases of the brain take hold. This leaves control of their stuff with those they live with or those, family or friends, who enter their home to see to their daily needs.

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