Indie Publishing, Three Years and Counting

I’m still here, even though I’ve been pretty quiet lately.

I haven’t posted much in the last year, especially about self-publishing, because I didn’t feel as though I had much to contribute. I’d pretty much shared what I had to say in my post about that first year, and all the decisions that a newbie had to make. But now that I’ve been on this path for a little over three years, I feel like I have a new set of choices. One of the big ones is: how much and what kind of publicity is enough?

This is actually an old decision revisited. Within a few months of starting out, I’d taken to heart the advice that the best promotion is getting the next book out. The corollary to that is to wait until you have five or six books out (some sources even say ten) preferably in a series, before you start trying to do any serious promotion. I wasn’t that hardcore, nor was I that patient. I ran quite a few free promotions and .99 sales on several different books. Some worked better than others, and they all worked better when I paid for an ad to advertise the promotion. But over the months I noticed that the sales became less effective, not only for selling books, but also for generating reader reviews. (Thank you, every single one of you, who has bought and reviewed one of my books!) And over time I found that the additional revenues were eaten up by the cost of the ads.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to Indie publishing, this isn’t news to you.

One of the immutable laws of business is: adapt or die. So I tried a few things like writing a newsletter, updating my metadata, and my product descriptions, both of which helped sales  a little, though not much. About five months ago I decided to give advertising a rest and focus on writing. I was pleased to note that even without “goosing” sales with promotions, my sales held steady and even improved a teensy bit.

Teensy isn’t good enough, though. Now that I have six novels out (three of which are in a series), I think it’s time to get more serious about getting eyeballs on my books. I’ve been researching what has works and I decided to experiment with some of the techniques that Nick Stephenson recommends in his book, READER MAGNETS: Get Readers to Come to You. While not over promising, the results he reports sound pretty impressive, so it’s worth my time to give it a go, I think. It also seems to be a good fit with the 80/20 rule. (Getting that 80% of results from the most effective 20% of effort.)

I’ll let you know how it goes. And if you don’t want to wait, go buy Stephenson’s book for yourself. I’d love to hear how it works for you. I’d also love to hear from the other authors out there what you’ve done to get the word out. What do you think REALLY works?

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I you live in the Tucson area, be sure to check out the TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS this coming weekend, March 14-15. Over 300 authors will be speaking, along with many food vendors and live music. I’ll be speaking Saturday afternoon at 4:00 on a panel with several other authors about the differences between Indie and traditional publishing. I hope to see you there

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I’m planning something special for the wonderful people who subscribe to my newsletter, so make sure you sign up!

 

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Happy Labor Day! And a Sale!

I don’t go to the mall much anymore. Mostly I go to meet a friend for lunch and then take a walk in blessed air-conditioned comfort. (Hey, when it’s 100 degrees outside, that means something!)

So, when I was at Tucson Mall the other day, I was surprised to see the Halloween decorations up already. I shouldn’t have been. Labor Day weekend is not only the last hurrah of summer, but the unofficial beginning of the dreaded Holiday Season when retailers exhort you ever more forcefully to part with the cash your labors have earned.

Some people really love shopping, and are good at it. I’m not one of them. So inBBT500x800 case you’re like me, and would rather curl up with a good book this weekend, I’ve put BETRAYED BY TRUST on sale for only 99 cents though Sunday. It’s a fast-paced thriller with paranormal elements, a love story, and you don’t even have to brave the mall to get it!

If you do decide to pick up a copy of BETRAYED BY TRUST (or any of my other books), I encourage you to leave a review. Your honest opinions help other readers find books they’ll like.

Would you like to be the first to know about sales like this, or when I release a new book?  Sign up for my occasional newsletter. (I won’t choke your inbox. I’ll only be sending you emails when I actually have something to announce.)

Happy reading!

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Heroes: Too Stupid To Live

My husband and I watched Sunday’s episode of “The Last Ship” last night. The evil, bad, nasty Russian Admiral (we can thank Putin for restoring this trusty stereotype) had the best line.

SPOILER ALERT!

I was gleeful when he said to Commander Chandler: “Your hubris has led to your tragic downfall.” (Sadly, he didn’t take that observation to heart.)

Commander Chandler (or should I say, Captain Kirk?) is one of the worst recent captainkirkexamples I’ve seen of a TSTL hero. This was the third time Chandler left the ship to do a job that his subordinates were better trained to do. But the third time wasn’t the charm in this case. He’s still alive.

Next Sunday, Chandler will no doubt take his XO to task for disobeying a direct order. At that moment, I truly hope that Adam Baldwin’s character says something like, “You weren’t on the bridge. I was. I made a command decision. If you want to make command decisions, STAY ON THE BRIDGE! In fact, if you ever try to leave the ship again before this mission is complete, I WILL SHOOT YOU MYSELF.

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, here’s the point. Your protagonists can make mistakes, but they have to learn from them. Those mistakes can arise out of character flaws, or misunderstandings, or misinformation. Those mistakes cannot be something anyone with the character’s training and background would logically avoid. If circumstances force your character into a bad choice, it’s even better. That kind of situation really makes the reader squirm. (And you want your readers to squirm.) Just be sure your protagonist doesn’t have a better choice available that doesn’t contravene his or her values.

Chandler’s rescue of the scientist’s wife and daughter was consistent with his love for his own family and the values of a decent man. (This was good.) The fact that he was there in the first place was further evidence of his cowboy nature, and I have to wonder if he would have risen to the rank of Commander, or been given this sensitive command, with that kind of behavior in his record.

I recently saw a quote, but I can’t remember who wrote it. “Build people, not characters.” To that I’d add,  build consistent, intelligent people, and be true to their natures, and they will help you write consistent, intelligent  stories.

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Why I Don’t Care About Amazon vs. Hachette

Russel Blake has given voice to something I’ve been thinking for some time now. Frankly, I’m too busy writing (and getting ready for family to visit) to read another word on this subject. When a decision is reached that actually affects how I do business, let me know.

Why I Don’t Care About Amazon vs. Hachette.

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Vinlanders’ Saga Fans Rejoice!

DEBTS, Book 3 in the Vinlanders’ Saga, is finally here!

Okay, that may be overstating your excitement a bit, but for those of you who have been waiting Debts600x900impatiently for another installment about the Talented people of Nuvinland, your wait is over. And if you haven’t read the first two books, DEBTS is a self-contained story. A few old friends from DANGEROUS TALENTS and FORBIDDEN TALENTS make an appearance, but you don’t have to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. (You should read them anyway, though, because they are pretty darn good. Just ask me! ;-) )

What is DEBTS about? Here’s the description:

LOVE vs. HONOR

Son of an Oathbreaker, Aren is desperate to restore his family’s honor, and leaps at the chance Lord Fender offers. His task seems simple enough for a Tracker: bring in a young woman accused of a vile crime. Simple, until his duty to the Jarl conflicts with a debt he owes to the Elves.

Fey-marked and friendless, Annikke flees the wrath of a vengeful lord. When Aren intercepts her, Annikke must choose: trust a stranger with warm brown eyes who promises justice, or protect her daughter—and remain a fugitive forever.

Even better, I’ve made DEBTS free for the first few days before it goes on sale for it regular price. In return, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave an honest review on Amazon. Customer reviews help other readers find books they’ll enjoy.

Also, if you’d like to be the first to know about my next release, please sign up for my newsletter. I won’t spam you or sell your e-dress.

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Writer’s Digest Dumps Author Solutions 

David Gaughran has been doing his best to shine a light on the questionable business practices of Author Solutions for some time now. You can link to some good news on that front below.

I did a lot of research before I began self-publishing back in 2011. Even so, it was only because I knew people who were taking control and doing the work a la cart that I avoided the clutches of Author Solutions subsidiaries. Caveat emptor, folks

Writer’s Digest Dumps Author Solutions .

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FREE BOOK!

FREE through Friday: BETRAYED BY TRUST, a Celestial Affairs novel.BBT500x800

SEDUCE THE ENEMY … STEAL HIS LEGACY … RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

January, 1979. The Vietnam war is over, the oil embargo and long gas lines a bad memory, and Three Mile Island is just a power plant that few have ever heard of.

Marianne Benton works for the Trust, a secretive organization guarding against abuses of paranormal power. Her next assignment: rescue an Elemental Spirit from slavery–by seducing the heir to an occult dynasty.

As a former Green Beret, Dan Collier knows how to follow orders. His assignment: help Marianne sleep with another man. After that: keep her alive.

Falling in love is optional.

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If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to sign up for my occasional newsletter so you can be among the first to hear about my new releases and get “behind the scenes” information. I don’t like spam either, so I’ll only be sending newsletters when I have actual news.

And please help other readers find books they’ll enjoy by taking a few minutes to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

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