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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

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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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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Tomorrow’s going to be busy, so I’ll go ahead and blog a little early.

My last post was mostly about a new promotional technique I’m trying out. At the end, I mentioned one particular book that wasn’t benefiting from it at all–DAUGHTER OF THE DIGRACED KING.

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That prompted me to take a closer look at that book in particular, paying special attention to how I’d set it up on Amazon–the categories, keywords, and the blurb.

Categories:

DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING was initially in the Fantasy->General and Romance->Fantasy categories. While there is a strong romantic element (in fact, I usually describe it as a fantasy romance), that really is more of a subplot, so the book doesn’t belong in the (overcrowded) Romance category at all. I’ve moved it into Young Adult Fantasy instead. Young Adult isn’t actually a category on Amazon, but a combination of category (Juvenile Fiction->Fantasy), age range (minimum 13 years) and key words (Young Adult) will get it there. (Actually, I’m not certain the key word is necessary any more, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.)

Keywords:

The original key words were: Coming of Age, Magic, Love, Princess, Prince, Forest, and Magic University

Those last three were horrible choices.

After some consideration and consultation with others (Thank you Victorine Lieske), the new key words are: Coming of Age, Magic, Love, Princess, Fantasy, Young Adult, and Rebellion.

Coming of Age is a subgenre of fantasy only available by using that keyword. It denotes a (usually) young character moving out into a wider world and especially learning to accept and channel whatever it is that makes them special. In fantasy, of course, this is often magic.

Magic, though central to the plot, unfortunately gets it thrown into Sword and Sorcery, which, while not totally off base, is not entirely accurate, either. For one thing, none of my major characters ever touch a sword, though a couple of side characters do.

Love should get it into Romantic Fantasy, but that hasn’t shown up as one of its categories, yet.

Princess, well, I’m advised that some readers do search for princess stories and Ailsa is a princess, so I left it.

Fantasy is probably a waste, here, actually. It has some usefulness in the Young Adult category, but likely not for this genre. Perhaps I’ll think of something better later on.

Young Adult may be useful in getting it squarely into Young Adult, rather than Childrens. Though the age range may have done that just as well.

Rebellion, while accurate for this story, may or may not do it any good.

Next time, I’ll blog about changes to the blurb.

After making these changes, I went ahead and tried a repeat of the free promotion to test them out. That was probably a mistake. It hadn’t been long enough (two weeks) since the last promotion. It’s gotten barely a fraction of the downloads it got the first time. I need to be more patient.

Also, something I need to take into consideration as I plan this out for the future. While the rankings of all the other books have improved and, so far, stayed in better position than their starting points, my page reads have tanked over the last week.

page-reads

That may have nothing at all to do with this promotion scheme, but you can bet it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on going forward.

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I have learned through experience that when I struggle with a story as much as I have been struggling with BECOME lately, it means there’s something wrong.

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It’s time to take a step back and try to figure out what and how to fix it.

And yesterday I might have come up with an answer. Maybe. Not sure yet.

I’ve always known that the structure of BECOME was going to be odd.

I really feel I need to include the background of the brothers’ relationship as adolescents. In the latest iteration, I’ve tried to do that through flashbacks, but that just interrupts the flow of the story and forces the early part of the brothers’ story to be very episodic–only the most important events can be included that way.

Then, of course, there are some important events in the protagonists early manhood. In part, because of the weight of those extensive flashbacks, I’ve been forced to keep those somewhat episodic, too. Because it’s already taken way too long to get to the inciting incident.

And, even then, there’s still going to have to be a major skip in the story because there are a couple of important characters who haven’t even been born yet. (That part, at least, has the possibility of being somewhat fluid. I could make some changes in who those characters are, though I’m not sure I want to. I’ve intended more to use that as a cut-off between the first and second books of the series–which, unfortunately, tends to end book one on something of a cliffhanger.)

The result of all of this is that I’m not happy with the story as it’s developed so far. And if I’m not happy with it, I can’t expect anyone else to be either. So, then, the question is what to do about it.

I think, though I haven’t made a final decision yet, that one answer might be to break it up. For example, I might just reconstruct the brothers’ early story–I have a lot more written than I’ve been able to include in those flashbacks–and publish that in novella form. Maybe certain other parts of the early story, too–in a separate novella. Then start this first part of the main story line much closer to that inciting incident and move forward.

I’ve got to think about this some more before I jump in. It’s an unconventional way to publish an epic fantasy. It’s not too unusual to publish prequels, but they’re usually published after the series is complete, not before. On the other hand, that’s one of the advantages of indie publishing–it allows me to try unconventional things when I think it’s the right way to handle the story. And I can always bundle the novellas together. Even include then with that first book.

Well, we’ll see.

 

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Since I was a day late earlier in the week, I suppose I should make up for it by posting a day early.

It’s time to decide on my writing goals for 2017.

  1. Publish BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.becomeblue This means:
    • Finish the first draft.
    • Figure out how many books there actually are in this series and where the break points are.
    • Let it rest for about a month.
    • Run through a couple of revisions.
    • Get it critiqued.
    • Another round of revisions.
    • Polishing edit.
    • Format for publication.
  2. That first goal may be close to enough. But I also want to get restarted on the rewrite of MAGE STORM. (No cover, yet, though I have a couple of  ideas.)
  3. I doubt very much that there’ll be a lot of writing time left over. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be jotting down ideas on some of the other stories I have simmering on the back burners.
    • MAGIC AND POWER: Another story in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, but centering on another set of protagonists. (MAGIC AND POWER might end up being the series title.)???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    • A couple of fairy-tale retellings buzzing around the back of my mind. One of them might end up in the MAGIC AND POWER world.
    • My weird Oz story is always out there. I actually wrote about ten chapters of it, but it wasn’t working. Partly because I’d left my protagonist completely alone for too long. I need to figure out how to give her an unhelpful, but talkative sidekick that will fit in this more dangerous version of Oz.
    • The prequels to the DUAL MAGICS series, though I don’t think I’m quite ready to go back to that world yet.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
    • Someday, I’m going to have to go back and write the third book in the Chimeria series. That is a fun world to play in.Chimeria Box 2
  4. Get better at marketing. The only way that’s going to happen is if I make a plan and devote some attention to it at least every month, not just around book launches. It’s just not nearly as much fun as writing. But it has to be done.

 

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