A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

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Summer is Over and Work Begins

Thought for the dayWe can all ask, “Where did it go?”, but I think most of us who live in the north know summer passed in the usual form: too quickly. What started out to be a very cool June with snow and hail in Nova Scotia, eventually evolved into hot July and August days.

With cooler nights and mild days on the horizon, school started today where I live. That means the house is empty because everyone is either in school or at work. This is the first time I’ve had the house to myself during the day for more than two months.

While I hope you enjoyed your summer and I’d like to reminisce about mine, as John Wayne said, “We’re burning daylight.” So it’s time to buckle down and get back to work full time. My batteries are recharged, new ideas are splashing around in my mind, and I’m ready to start the next phase of my self-publishing journey.

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No One is Surprised: CreateSpace Closes and KDP Print Takes Over

Amazon CreateSpace KDP PrintBetween putting the laundry in the washer and hanging it on the line and while I was making pancakes for my youngest child, washing dishes and waiting for the buzzer on the oven to go to indicate the cinnamon rolls were ready for extraction, an email popped up in my inbox.

The subject told me all I wanted to know, and if Amazon thought they’d surprise me, they couldn’t have been more mistaken: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing to become one service

I didn’t bother opening the message; I was too busy, and I knew what it was all about.

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KDP Print Now Provides Proof and Author Copies

KDP Print ProofA welcomed message arrived in my inbox this evening. Amazon’s KDP Print will now provide self-published authors with the option of purchasing a proof of their book before it goes on sale for the public. The message also stated writers could purchase author copies.

In my post, dated April 17, 2017 (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), one of the major drawbacks of KDP Print over CreateSpace was the inability to order proofs and author copies.

CreateSpace marked its proofs with a large “PROOF” across the last page. KDP Print will take this one step further and “have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN”.

I’m not sure why the extra security is needed since proof copies were the same price as author copies and if a proof was good enough, more copies could be purchased. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingFor one week, my epic fantasy eBook Shadows in the Stone was reduced from $3.99 to $0.99. To help promote it, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. I didn’t put it on any other site because I wanted to gauge the results of the paid ad.

Readers of this blog will remember I’m working on my marketing skills, running experiments and testing promotional ideas. The two posts I previously wrote about on this subject are:

Marketing Results

Like all marketing campaigns, many things influence results—day of the week, day of the year, number of subscribers to mailing lists, full moons, a horrible book, a terrible blurb, Trump stealing the spotlight, ghastly book covers, vacations, hens laying…you get the picture—so what did or didn’t work one time might be completely opposite the next time.

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Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of FREE eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingOn Friday, my adult Christmas romance eBook Twistmas – The Season for Love was reduced to FREE for two days. To promote it on the first day, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. You can read about that here.

I took readings at each hour (Well, not each hour. I did sleep during the 24-hour span). I recorded the free downloads and the rankings on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com to get a feel on how the book sale performed.

Betty Book Freak’s email arrived in my inbox at 10:00 am Atlantic Standard Time (Nova Scotia time). By that time, seven books were already downloaded. My rankings for Free in Kindle Store were 21,332 (Amazon.com) and 18,810 (Amazon.ca).
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FREE eBook and The Year of Marketing (Help for Self-published Authors)

Lessons in Self-publishingI’ve reached many milestones in the past twenty years in my writing career, but there are still things I want to accomplish and things I need to learn.

One of the things I’m working to improve is my marketing abilities. I’ve done minor things to promote my books, but that’s not enough. In 2015, I attended farmers’ and craft markets to increase my exposure and, well, sell a few books. Obviously one-on-one sales increased; that was a no-brainer.

However, I saw an increase in online sales too. I can only assume it was due to meeting people, giving them my business card and introducing them to my books.

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Treat eBooks like Websites and Update them Regularly

eBook UpdatesEach January, I take a few weeks and update my eBooks – all of them.

This doesn’t mean I edit the stories. It means I update the file with new information and refresh what might have gone stale in the past twelve months. I also add details on things to come, such as the release of a book.

How long will it take?

Updating eBooks take less than an hour per book across all venues. It will take longer if you have not gathered the necessary pieces of information or you are unfamiliar with formatting.

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Publishing 101: Production Schedule

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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With my manuscript off to the editor, one might think I can sit back and take a break. Not so. There’s still plenty of work that needs to be completed before I publish my novella Fowl Summer Nights.

Let me introduce you to my Production Schedule. I create one for each book I plan to publish. It keeps me on track and doesn’t let me forget an important step. It also holds pertinent information for this book in one place, so I don’t have to open multiple files to access it.

Below is the production schedule for Fowl Summer Nights. As I complete each item I write DONE beside it. If a small piece of information was needed to complete this step (such as ISBN), I record it. I sometimes note what stage I’m at in the step.

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Create! Design! Make it so.

When I find a new tool to assist me with publishing books, I want to stand on the highest crenellation and shout it to world. I want to leap onto my fastest gelding and race through the countryside proclaiming its wonderful attributes. I want to grab the wheel of the most dependable brigantine and sail to every port to tell them of my findings.

Instead, when I find something right under my nose that I already have but can use in a different way to support my writing, I usually blab about it and show it off to my family. When they tire of it, I tell everyone in Blogland. So here it goes.

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