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Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult’

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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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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For an indie author, the reality is that you’re never working on just one task. There are always other things that need attention, too. And I’m not just talking about real life things like walking the dog, doing the laundry, or fixing dinner.

One of those tasks is marketing the books that are already out. I likely don’t spend nearly enough time on this. I’m not very good at it and writing new stories is so much more fun. Therefore, this month, along with working on the prequel to BECOME and on improving my time management, I’ve been trying something suggested by a fellow writer.

For the last two weeks, I’ve checked on the Amazon ranking of my books, picked the two lowest (with certain caveats) and made them free for a day. The only promotion I do is to create a tweet and post it in a couple of my Facebook groups for retweets. It costs nothing–at least nothing out of pocket and only a little time to put the tweet together.

Each time, I’ve given away about 250 books. Some of those might be new readers who wouldn’t have tried one of my books otherwise. Some might even leave a review. But the main goal is to inch those books up in the rankings to make them more visible on Amazon.

Over the two weeks, I’ve learned a few things:

First, I’m going to have to revise that schedule. Maybe only do one book a week and possibly skip a week now and then. This is because my catalog currently consists of:

  1. Three stand-alone novels. (THE BARD’S GIFT, FIRE AND EARTH, and DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING)
  2. Two series. (Chimeria (currently BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER) and DUAL MAGICS (THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, BEYOND THE PROPHECY, and WAR OF MAGIC).
  3. Three boxed sets (BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC; CHIMERIA , DUAL MAGICS )
  4. And a handful of shorter works. (“Heart of Oak”, “The Music Box”, “Becoming Lioness”, “Wyreth’s Flame”, and “Modgud Gold”)

I’ve already done a one-day promotion for each of the stand-alones and for BLOOD WILL TELL. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE isn’t eligible until March because I ran a Kindle Countdown deal for it already this period and you can’t do both within the 90-day enrollment period.

I have deep concerns about the utility of running this kind of free promotion for subsequent books in a series or the shorter fiction. And I’m not willing to give away the boxed sets. I might do a one-day discount on them, though.

But the other, perhaps more interesting, thing that I learned is that it mostly worked–with one glaring exception. Three of the four books I’ve tried so far have gone up in the rankings and, while they have slipped back a little over time, they have not gone back to their previous ranking yet.

The fourth book actually ranks lower now than it did before the promotion. That book is DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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And now I have to figure out why. I have some ideas I’m working on. More on that next time.

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This topic is brought up by a reader’s comment/question about DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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The problem is: there is no next book. This is not a series–at least not in the conventional sense. I might have other stories to tell in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, but they won’t be centered around the same characters. (Though the main characters might very well turn up as side characters or possibly mentors to the new central characters.)

Anyway, those other stories, if they ever happen, are presently on hold for BECOME.

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(Unless one of them jumps up and refuses to let me go until I write it. It has happened before.)

But the comment led me to think about why I feel this story is finished. The main characters are just starting out, after all, even at the end of the novel. There are certainly more adventures in store for them. But those adventures aren’t–quite–stories. Or, more precisely, not compelling stories. So what do they lack that a story should have?

Character arcs. In overcoming the external story problem, these characters have already also grown beyond the internal issues that were holding them back, the things that made them feel inadequate to really follow their dreams. Their arcs are complete.

Unless, of course, another story occurs to me in which they have another internal conflict to overcome. Always possible, but there’s nothing on the horizon right now.

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And about half way through the clean-up round of revisions on WAR OF MAGIC.

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So things are moving forward. Looks like probably September after all, though probably mid- to late September.

And I’ve started formating a boxed set of the first three books in the series.

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So, progress is being made.

Also, a brilliant new cover for “Heart of Oak” by Victorine Lieske.

Heart-of-Oak

Isn’t it beautiful?

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Well, I finally finished the markup. So now I’m starting revisions on WAR OF MAGIC for real.

WarMagicNew

Starting with a read-through during which I’ll fix all the small- to medium-sized things I can. Places where readers wanted more emotion attached to a scene or a better grounding either in the settings or the background from the previous books. Stuff like that.

There may be a few bigger, structural changes. Those will come in a second pass, after I have a little more time to think about them. And the read-through will help with that.

In the meantime, just for fun, here are my last few picks on the FellowshipOfFun A to Z favorite fantasy characters game.

  • I is for Ivan Vorpatril. All right, that one’s cheating just a little, since Ivan is from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, which is science fiction. But I’m sticking with it anyway.
  • J is for Jack Frost from “Rise of the Guardians.” J was difficult, though I was tempted to go with Jathan from my own DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.
  • K is for Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.
  • L takes us back to LORD OF THE RINGS and can only be Legolas. (In this case I definitely mean the movie version.)

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Well, by my carefully laid plans, I’m supposed to be working on MAGE STORM. But, now that I’ve (mostly) figured out the story structure for BECOME, it’s clear that’s the only sandbox my subconscious wants to play in right now.

Become4

I could try to flog my brain onto the planned track, but it likely wouldn’t be too successful. So, here’s to seeing what I can do with BECOME.

Flexibility. As my (dog) agility instructor used to say, “Be rigid about being flexible.”

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