So much for free!

I put Unplanned Magic (a short story) on Amazon tonight, thinking I could do it for free…I can’t.  I had to charge 99 cents, and when I thought about that for a second I realized that makes perfect sense!  I can’t expect Amazon to suck up the cost of distribution, so I clicked the button and set the list as low as possible.  Now, I’ll have to do the five days promotion and enroll it in KDP Select for this weekend (I can’t do it for tomorrow, because the book sits under review for about 12 hours before it’s released).  So, I’m off now to work on the second book in the Relic Hunter series – Destructive Magic.

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Ah, yes…the beginning

I will be posting the prequel to Elementary Magic on Amazon later this week.  For those who wondered how Arienne released a demon and collapsed a cathedral in Ireland, the suspense is over.  It’s a short story (about 7,800 words) and it’ll be free. *** UPDATE*** Can’t be free, has to be 99 cents – Amazon’s rules.  OOPS  (Hey, I’m new to this, give me a break!)

With that being written, I have to digress and comment on what I learned in several other blogs about offering books for free.  At first my thought was – WHY?  But I figured I’d give it a go and see how it panned out.  I would recommend everyone who has an e-book do at least one free day (maybe a free weekend) for the following reasons:

1.  Exposure.  My book “sales” were encouraging when I did the free promo over the weekend.  I had a drop the following Monday, but since then, I’ve been selling copies daily.

2.  Location.  When your “sales” are up, your ranking goes up and more people find your books on the site.  More people finding you means more sales – free or paid.

3.  Feedback.  If my book sucked, I’d want to know that.  If it’s good, I want to know that (okay, I want to know THAT more than anything, but still…if it sucked I’d know I have things to work on, that’s what improves my writing).

4.  Inspiration.  There is nothing like checking those numbers during a free promo to encourage you to write more.  When the book’s sitting on your laptop, it’s not very inspiring because only YOU know it’s there…

5.  Knowledge.  Now I know I have an audience, and if I have that then there’s a market for my book.  I only publicized on the Kindle boards before the free promo – apparently THOUSANDS of people read those, because my “sales” were great.  There are also generous people who will post about your book on Facebook, etc. so the publicity goes from Amazon to the rest of the world pretty easily.

6.  Excitement.  When my day-job annoys me, I think “somewhere, someone is reading my book” and I send out a silent “thank you” and “hope it’s making your day better” and you know what?  That makes MY day better.

So think about it.  Keep writing.  Good luck.

What I wish I had known before publishing – Part 1

My free promotion of Elementary Magic ended Sunday night and it was a wild ride for forty-eight hours.  Saturday morning I had my first review, I climbed to #9 on the free e-books in the Contemporary Fantasy category.  Then I had a dip, and started falling, before ending somewhere around #23 in that category.  Then the promotion ended, and my sales fell in the US – but I’m still selling in the U.K.!  Odd, isn’t it?

I did learn a few things in the process though and here they are:

1.  I gave away over 700 books by Sunday and still only got one review (it was a good one, though).  I wouldn’t have publicized anymore than I did, since I’m not a philanthropist and if I wanted to give the book away, I wouldn’t have set a list price.  But I’m glad that so many people have it and that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when my day job is starting to annoy me – I can think that someone somewhere (in the US, UK or even Germany) is reading my book.

2.  I’m starting on my cover image for my second book now.  That was one of the hardest, most stressful parts of self-publishing because I didn’t know you could buy a stock photo and use that if you get the extended license.  Now that I know, I’m looking at images I might like to use and I’ll probably make that decision before I finish the book.

3.  I decided to only do a 3 day free promotion because I wanted to save the other 2 days I’m allowed for a good occasion.  I used KDP Select and part of the deal is you can promote a free book for 5 days.  It got me a review, and I’m very happy about that.

4.  It’s hard to stay off the internet and not check your sales every ten minutes.  It’s really fun when that number climbs.

And Still Climbing Amazon’s Sales Ranks…

So this morning, I woke up and checked my stats on Amazon during my free promo weekend and I was thrilled that I broke the top 500 overall and actually made it to #9 on the top free contemporary fiction lists.  EVEN BETTER was my first review, “a solid 4.5” out of 5 stars.  I’m so excited, I’m going to quote Nospin (my new favorite person in the world):

Elementary Magic (Relic Hunter) is a thoroughly enjoyable novel…”

(and my favorite line:)

“So follows a wonderfully written amusing tale….”

There are no words to describe how I felt when I read that this morning.  It was overwhelming because I didn’t realize how much I agonized over this book.  How much I second-guessed myself, and how paralyzing the uncertainty was.  It didn’t hit me until this morning and the relief and joy over the “sales” and review settled in.  All day, I have been hard at work on the second novel, and while I will still agonize over it, and still wrestle with doubt and uncertainty, I know I’ll publish that one as well…and I’ll keep you updated on the free promo results.

Climbing the Amazon.com Sales list

My sales on Amazon slowed to almost nothing and out of desperation to stimulate some interest. I’m doing a free three day promotion.  So far, 223 copies were downloaded in less than 24 hours.  That’s good, right?  My sales rank went from 31,000 something to 790 – that’s pretty sweet!  I guess we’ll see how this turns out!

 

Well, three hours later, I’ve climbed to #13 on the Kindle Contemporary Fiction list!  I’ve sold 43 more copies!

Free Book Weekend and Book Review

First things first, for those of you who read my post on reviewing a new novella by an indie author and who can’t stand the suspense one more minute here’s the review:

I LOVED IT.  Now, let’s get the details out of the way:  The book was Bad Metal 01: Wrecked by Robert Black and it’s available on Amazon.  It’s a well written, fast paced SciFi novella that is not something I would normally read, but the author had a plea up on the kindle boards and I decided to give it a go.  It was so good I finished it in a day!  I was even inspired to write him a review and you can check out his book at Amazon and read not only my own brilliant review, but another one from someone who agrees with me (and I love it when someone agrees with me, it happens so infrequently).

The next order of business is I decided to put my own book Elementary Magic up on Amazon for free this weekend (March 9-11, 2012) because I shouldn’t deprive the world of an excellent piece of Urban Fantasy.  So check it out – after all, I’m giving it away…and while you’re there, check out Bad Metal 01.  I will be posting my “sales” (although they’re not really sales if you’re giving it away, are they?) over the weekend.

Swapping Reviews on the Kindle Boards

I was surfing on the Kindle Boards and saw a message from another Indie writer asking for criticism for his book.  He went so far as to ask for people to trade reviews with and my first thought was:  Is this ethical?  I flipped over to his book description and read his blurb.  It’s not a book that I would normally read, but it’s close to my genre and since I am also frustrated about the lack of reviews on my book, I thought I’d give it a try.

Another bonus was he was offering his book for free this week in an effort to generate interest and readers and maybe even a few reviews.  I was still skeptical about how ethical it was, so I made myself a promise that I would read the book and if it was horrible, I wouldn’t review it.

Why would I not want to review a book that was just plain bad?  I wholeheartedly subscribe to the philosophy that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  I do not want to be one of those critics that finds fault and beats up another person.  I don’t want to be one of the angry, negative people that seem so willing to spew venom on the ‘net, hiding under anonymity.  With that promise in my mind, I downloaded his book and started reading…

After about sixty words, I was mentally preparing myself to read objectively since it was really more science fiction (which I knew from the blurb) and I wasn’t sure I could warm to it.  You know what?  I read more than half of it last night and I’m loving it!  His style is crisp, polished, and fast paced.  There’s not a lot of explanation that’s fed to you – he lets it develop and the flow allows the reader to catch the threads and accept the story as probable – even though it’s science fiction.

So today, I will take my Kindle to work and read some more, and then I will post a review, because the book is good enough (possibly even great…but I’m not done with it yet).  It is ethical, because it’s how we launch ourselves as Indie authors.  If I didn’t read his plea, I wouldn’t have read his book and I wouldn’t have spent a few very enjoyable hours last night reading a really good book.

I’m so inspired by his approach that I’m going to offer my own book for free starting March 9 for a limited time.  I think this is the way the community functions.

I’ll post a review here as well…and you know that it will be good.

A day with my new best friends

I was efficient today.  I did laundry, vacuumed, dusted (a bit, with one of those Swiffer things, but I think that still counts), sorted socks (even though there’s still a plastic bag filled with dryer-orphans behind my dresser), and picked up after the dog.  Then, with a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t go back to work tomorrow thinking I shirked my responsibilities yet again, I sat down at the computer and spent a few quality hours with my new best friends.

Of course, those friends are fictional characters in the novel I’m working on, but I realized today that I love them.  I love them so much that I wrote 7,000 words of their story and didn’t pause because I was stuck.  It flowed and I made myself laugh, pointing out their idiosyncracies, giving voice to their fears and hopes.  My goal today was 5,000 words, and in all honesty I could have written another 7,000 without blinking, but there are other things to do also.  Not to mention that it isn’t healthy to spend all of my time with my new imaginary friends (tempting as that is).

You see, I don’t have to fix their problems.  I can handle their sarcasm and bad moods and I don’t take it personally.  I’m merely observing, with no responsibility to offer counsel or cheer them on.  That’s what happens when it clicks.  I’m at my laptop with my dog beside me and I’m not thinking about the fact that I should be shredding the junk mail or cleaning the refrigerator.  I’m in the zone, watching the story unfold and not forcing the plot or character development.  I’m just observing, and that’s wonderfully liberating.

In real life there’s an obligation to influence what you witness.  There’s an expectation that you, as a friend, spouse, or colleague will offer a word of encouragement or wisdom.  When you’re writing and it’s clicking, you just put the words down, allowing the characters to offer support to each other.  It comes from your experiences as a human, from all of the times when you searched for the right words to comfort someone and you successfully uttered the right phrase.

When it doesn’t click, I look around and realize that my empty orange juice glass should be rinsed and put in the dishwasher.  I notice that I should wash the throw rug.  I force the plot.  I take the characters from point a to point d, making sure I hit b & c in the middle.  I create hours of work in editing by doing that, and sometimes I stop because I’m utterly frustrated with the fact that my brain doesn’t work and the story won’t flow.

I’m going to save the bag of single socks until I have one of those days.  Until that happens, I will carve out a few hours from my real life and watch my new friends live their lives.  I can’t wait to see what happens!  Today, that’s the joy of writing for me.