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Archive for March, 2017

Wow, I got busy today and almost forgot to blog.

In my defense, I was (mostly) busy. Seems I opened a can of worms when I started updating all of my already-published books. Not that it didn’t need to be done. But, while I’m making the insides prettier and more, well, up-to-date, it seems silly to leave subpar covers on some of the older books and stories.

What happened was that I worked my way down to the Chimeria series. And, yeah, something needs to be done there. Starting with the first book in the series, BLOOD WILL TELL.

Blood Will Tell Cover

Not my worst cover ever. But not exactly stellar, either. In my defense, this was one of my earliest covers.

This is the unfinished version of the new one.

Become3

Unfinished because I’m not sure that I’ve got the right font, yet. Also, I may still move the dragon around a little. I like him better against the blue background than against the moon.

Then, I need to move on to the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I have no defense to offer for that one. I’m amazed anyone ever bought that one.

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So, the last few days have been spent on that formatting issue that’s supposed to help with that page-flip glitch. And not much else. Sometimes, things just work the first time you try. More often, they don’t. Especially when they involve learning a couple a new software applications.

Despite a couple of online sets of instructions, it wasn’t nearly as straightforward as depicted–and it hadn’t looked that simple to start with. But . . . a former boss once observed that, with me, he needed to watch where he aimed. Because once I get my teeth into a task, I will rarely quit until I’ve succeeded. And, finally, last night, I did.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE has been reformatted, though there’s one (relatively small) thing I may still need to go back and fix.

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The upside, aside from hopefully fixing that glitch, is that the formatting of the ebook should actually be improved.

So, one down, sixteen to go (counting boxed sets and short fiction). But, from here, it should be easier. I hope. I just . . . don’t really feel motivated to start on that list again today. Maybe a day of rest from that battle is warranted.

Meanwhile, I’m going to also get back to revisions on BECOME: BROTHERS. As well as working on cover art for it. Oh, and a blurb. (Just like writing queries–not my favorite part of this process, but necessary. Without a good blurb, the whole page-flip battle will be useless.)

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My page reads (on books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited) were definitely down for the month of February. Not just in absolute terms, but also in relation to sales. I can’t tell, at this point, whether that was due to the one-day free promotions that I ran on several of my books. Or to a reported glitch Amazon introduced with its page flip feature. Or both.

Page reads have rebounded somewhat in March, but not to where I think they should be.

Therefore:

  1. No new promotions for this month, at least.
  2. And I will be doing revisions on several of my books–some of which I’d intended to do anyway–and attempting one possible fix to the problem. Including figuring out some new software.

Sometimes, being an indie author is all about experimenting to see what works–and, occasionally, what doesn’t.

First up for revisions, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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I didn’t have the map done when I published the first book in the series. I’ve been meaning to go back and put it in, anyway.

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So, the critique for “Become:Brothers” has come back already. That’s an advantage of it being a novella–doesn’t take nearly as long to read through and comment on. The verdict is good. It works as a story, though, of course, there are things that need to be changed or added to make it work even better.

I’ll be getting started on that soon.

But now it’s time to start thinking about cover art. I had a demo all worked up, but, the more I think about it, the less I think that the images convey the correct genre. So, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one. Plus, I need to make the cover as nearly consistent with the cover I’ve already done for BECOME as possible.

becomeblue

But the main thing is that it looks like this will work as a story. I’m always a little nervous about that with anything shorter than a full novel. Perversely, novels seem to be easier for me to pull off than shorter fiction.

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Cause for celebration: The prequel novella to BECOME: To Catch the Lightning is now in the hands of one of my critique partners.

becomeblue

While I wait to hear back on that, I’m reviewing what I’d started on an entirely different epic fantasy, currently titled MAGE STORM.

 

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Okay, so in my last post, I promised to continue this subject with my future plans now that I’ve tested this one-day-free promotion strategy. Here goes.

First, since the last time I checked on Friday (you can seriously drive yourself crazy checking these things too often), all but one of the books I’ve tried this on are still at least a little higher in the Amazon rankings than they were before I started. Even the one that needed a complete revision of its metadata and blurb, DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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But, my page reads still have not recovered. However, I’m still not convinced that the drop in page reads had anything to do with the promotions.

So, future plans for this promotion:

  1. Because of my catalog, discussed at length here, I’ve decided that a weekly promotion is probably not the best idea. I simply don’t have enough stand-alone or first-in-series full-length books to make that worthwhile at this point. So, I’m probably going to try this monthly rather than weekly. And yes, I skipped the first of this month. I’ve already promoted all but one of those books. They need to rest a bit before I give them a second (or, in the case of DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, third) run.
  2. I’ll probably only promote one book at a time, not two, for the same reason as above.
  3. I also need to experiment a little on the best day of the week to run the promotion. I’ve only done Saturdays so far and it’s possible that not as many people are actually looking for new books to read on that day, especially as we move into spring and summer. Other things to do and all that. I may use that one book that I hadn’t promoted in this way yet–because it was ineligible for the promotion until the end of last month–for one of these experiments in the next week or two. That’s THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, first of the DUAL MAGIC series.

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However, I will also be watching those page reads. And if they stay where they have been the last couple of weeks, I might just decide to pull at least some of these books out of Kindle Select and go back to wide distribution. If I do that, then they’ll no longer be eligible for this kind of free promotion.

 

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So, last time, after blogging about changing one of the categories and many of the keywords for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, I promised to discuss changes to the blurb.

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Here’s the original blurb:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king’s insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king’s repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.

Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.

A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together–except that he never wants to go near the desert.

Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?

See how that basically reinforces the romance, rather than the fantasy elements? It doesn’t sound like much else is going on, does it?

Here’s the new one:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

The new king’s insecurities and repressive policies drive most of the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country urgently needs to survive.

Desperate, Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green. But it’s not as easy as just learning to use her own magic. She’s going to need allies. She’s going to need the very kind of political power that is forbidden to mages.

She must decide if she can trust her heart—and Far Terra’s future—to the childhood friend who is also the new king’s heir. Or she could choose to team up with the fascinating and cheerfully annoying fellow student of magic who, it turns out, has even higher political connections to the emperor himself.

It may take all three of them to bring Far Terra back from the brink.

I tightened up the second paragraph and basically refocused everything from there on to be more about the problem of saving Far Terra, rather than the romance, which really is more the subplot. Though I left in a hint that it’s there. I still may make a change to that last line, though.

After making these changes, I ran another one-day free promotion for this book. Ill-timed. It had only been two weeks since the first one. The first time, I gave away 135 copies. Last week, only 12. Nevertheless, this time it’s placement in Amazon’s ranking did improve and so far, while, like all of them, it’s sliding backward slowly, it is still better placed than it was.

So, I guess that’s an object lesson about the importance of the blurb. We all hate writing them, but we do need to get it right.

Next time, after I’ve assessed all I’ve learned through this experiment, I’ll lay out my personal plan going forward.

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